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With obesity rates at an all time high, it is more important than ever to increase your awareness about what you eat, after all you are what you eat. This article covers many issues surrounding nutrition including what to eat and what to avoid, how to read food labels, and 10 smart eating tips

What Is Nutrition and Why Is It So Important?

This seems such an obvious question, but with obesity rates at all time record highs, throughout the world, it seems that this is not only an important question but one that the majority of people ignore.

You may have heard “You are What You Eat” and this is so true, but again a statement that somehow most humans ignore. This picture is a great portrayal of this very statement.

So why is it that, with all of the readily available information, this is such a difficult issue.
After all, the basics are very simple.

To survive we all require energy. Our cells require a constant supply of energy to generate and maintain the biological order that keeps them alive. This energy is derived from the chemical bond energy in food molecules, which thereby serve as fuel for our cells.

Bond energy is the strength of the chemical linkage between two atoms, measured by the energy in kilocalories or kilojoules needed to break it. It is from these kilojoules that our calories are obtained and how we can easily judge how much we should consume.

There are 41.848 kilojoules (kJ) in 10 calories (kcal) – For easy and quick measuring think 1 to 4.

One Calorie to 4 kilojoules

Here is a typical food label and as you can see the kJ and kcal are both marked clearly. However you often only see the kilojoules (kJ) marked and this you need to divide by 4.18 to get the calorie figure.

It is the calorie figure that most diets are based on and the unit by which average consumption is judged.

As can be seen with the table below the average woman should burn between 1800 and 2000 calories per day and the average man would use between 2200 and 2400 calories per day. Please note these are average calorie intake figures for men and women of average weight and height.

Now, the truth is simple and so are the maths. If through your food and drink you are taking in more calories per day than you use then you will gain weight. Conversely if you consume less than you expend you will lose weight.

However, nutrition is more than eating to gain energy. Good nutrition is about What You Eat. There are foods that although reasonably high in calories per gram are very good for you because of what they contain, good examples of these would be avocados and nuts.

5 keys to achieving the best nutrition for yourself and your family.

1. Eat Fresh

Simple, fresh as opposed to packaged, frozen or tinned, is best. Fresh is Best.

Two particular points here to remember.

1. Avoid processed packaged food. As an example, buy ham off the bone from the deli not the packaged version which will contain numerous preservatives.

2. Frozen fruit and vegetables are a very good second option as they still contain most of the nutrients. Also most tinned fruit is still very good.

2. Avoid GMO foods.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Foods. These are foods where the original ingredient, for instance corn has been grow with genetically modified genes. There is an abundance of information, experiments, reports and testing to show that GMO foods have substantial side effects when consumed by animals and humans.

This is a huge subject in itself and unfortunately for the consumer many countries – the USA being the biggest -have refused to label their goods to tell us if the ingredients contain GMO foods. I have included a link here to a document, by Fractured Paradigm, that lists food companies to avoid and their aliases. Click Here For The List

There is another way to avoid unscrupulous food producers through an App called Buycott. If you happen to have an iPhone, this App can be used to check a product that you see in the stores to see what corporate links exist.

The very best way to avoid GMOs and toxic additives are to avoid packaged foods altogether. Raise and preserve your own food, buy organic and local, and cook from scratch.

3. Choose Alkaline over Acid Foods

Alkaline foods are those that are above 7 on the ph scale, 7 is neutral and below 7 is acidic. Your optimal blood level being 7.365.  A neutral ph of 7 is pure distilled water.

The pH level of our internal fluids affects every cell in our bodies and our entire metabolic process depends on an alkaline environment. Sadly the majority of the foods typical of a Westernised diet are ACID-forming; meat, bread, dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats etc.

Chronic over-acidity corrodes body tissue and can interrupt all cellular activities and functions. It is the root of sickness and disease. It is also what helps keep you fat, if you’re struggling to shift those kilos (or pounds), then it’s very likely that your system is too acidic.

Knowing what foods are alkaline is of great benefit as you can then choose to add them to your diet.

4. Cut Down or Cut Out Sugar

I don’t think there is any argument that sugar is bad for you, but do you realise why? Listed below are 15 main reasons to eliminate or reduce your sugar intake.

Firstly some basics about sugar…Most of us know white granulated sugar all of our lives, but what makes it bad for us? Made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, sugar (or sucrose) is a carbohydrate. Sucrose is made up of two simpler sugars, fructose and glucose.

Sucrose is also naturally in plants, including fruit. Most fruits have large quantities of fructose as they are very sweet. Very sour fruits like lemons, limes, black currants and sour grapefruit are usually fine for most people, as they contain much less fructose. These are the best types of sugar as they are naturally occurring, and fruit and vegetables need to be a major part of a balanced diet. This is not to say that fruit is bad for you, it is not, but too much fruit will greatly increase you sugar and calorie content.

There is a difference between naturally occurring sucrose in plants and the sucrose found in granulated sugar, or the high fructose corn syrup often used to sweeten processed foods.

Both granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup go through a refining process…they are called “empty calories” because they offer no nutritional value. In addition, they are addictive and rob your body of energy and health.

15 Reasons to Eliminate or Reduce Your Sugar Intake.

  1. 1. Sugar has No nutritional benefit, yet is high in calories.
  2. 2. Sugar metabolism creates acid.
  3. 3. A diet high in sugars, including fruits, triggers the insulin response.
  4. 4. Sugar suppresses your immune function while increasing the insulin levels in your body, creating insulin resistance.
  5. 5. Processed sugar depletes magnesium in the body.
  6. 6. Sugar effects hormone levels and leads to an imbalance.
  7. 7. Sugar helps cause diabetes.
  8. 8. Sugar feeds Candida.
  9. 9. Sugar is addictive.
  10. 10. Often creates binge urges.
  11. 11. Can cause cancer and aids cancer development.
  12. 12. Can aid in Adrenal fatigue.
  13. 13. Can cause aging and skin wrinkling.
  14. 14. The after sugar boost robs you of energy.
  15. 15. Depletes mineral levels in your body.

Many health specialists recommend the elimination of sugar altogether, personally I believe you should be aware of where sugar is and reduce your overall intake. Everything in moderation.

Sugar is hidden everywhere, in your McDonald’s chips to most of your soda drinks and alcohol.

Be aware, take care and reduce sugar, it has no benefits and many drawbacks.

5. Most Important Key is a Balanced Diet

It’s important to make sure that your diet is well balanced in order to achieve good health, and avoid long term diseases and illnesses. All foods you eat fit into one of these five groups. A good diet is one that finds the correct balance between the five groups. By finding this balance, your diet should provide you with the nutrients and energy that your body requires to function adequately. In most countries people’s diet is not balanced and they consume way too much fatty and sugary foods and not enough fruit and vegetables.

The 5 Groups are Fruit and Vegetables, Protein, Dairy, Carbohydrates and Fatty and Sugary Foods.

Fruit and Vegetables are important because they provide your body with lots of vitamins and minerals which are hard to come by in other areas of your diet. They also have a high water and low fat content so are a good choice for snacks. Research has shown that a diet which lacks in this group of food can lead to diseases such as heart disease and even some cancers! A lack of it can also lead to high blood pressure and various vitamin deficiencies which result in a lowered immune system, and sometimes long-term illness.

Protein is important because it’s main function is for growth and repair. It is needed for hair and nail growth, repair of nerve cells, muscle growth and repair, and healing injuries. A diet which lacks protein can cause muscle deterioration, arthritis, heart problems, organ failure and dementia, so it really is important to consume enough.

Dairy is important because it is a very good source of calcium. Calcium is important as it helps to promote strong bones and teeth. As well as this, it also regulates muscle contraction, which includes the heartbeat, so it’s pretty important. Inadequate calcium intake up to the age of 25 can cause bone problems such as brittle bone disease and osteoporosis. This is most common in women as they generally have a lower bone mass than men. In order to absorb calcium effectively, research suggests that Vitamin D is helpful. This is easy to get as your body generates it as long as you get a good amount of sunlight.

Carbohydrates are important because they provide a long lasting, slow release of energy which prevents an energy crash throughout the day. They are generally low in fat yet are still filling, which means you are less likely to snack on less healthy things in between meals. The best type of carbohydrates are whole-grain products. Whole grain is widely available in many types of carbohydrates, and their importance is becoming more widely known. Whole grain provides many useful nutrients which are stripped away in refined grains. They contain fibre which promotes a healthy digestive system, protein (which you already know the importance of), vitamins and minerals, and carbohydrate (mainly in the form of starch). They are also rich in anti-oxidants which prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Complex (the good ones) carbohydrates are found in foods such as oats, potatoes, root vegetables, wholemeal bread, wholemeal cereal, wholemeal pasta, nuts, brown rice, beans and lentils.

Fatty and Sugary Foods are important even though many people believe they are not required. Fat is good for you in small amounts as it transports fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E & K) around the body, and it also supplies essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids have to be supplied through diet, and research suggests that they improve your immune system as well as heart health. Fat is stored under the skin as a fuel reserve, so it’s good to have a bit there, especially as it also cushions your organs. You do need to be aware though, that too much fat will cause obesity-related diseases, so just consume it in moderation.  As for sugary foods, unless it’s sugar found naturally in fruit, they provide no nutrient, only a burst of energy, so you should really consider cutting them down.

As I mentioned above refined sugar is bad for you but naturally occurring sugar is good in moderation. Bad types of sugar are found in soft drinks, sweets, chocolate bars, desserts and sugary breakfast cereals, while good types are found in fruits.

Saturated fats are found in foods such as, meat, butter, cheese, eggs, full fat milk and full fat yoghurt, so these foods should be eaten in moderation. Unsaturated fats (which are better for you and contain essential fatty acids) are found in oily fish (eg. salmon, tuna and mackerel), avocados, nuts, seeds, virgin olive oil and sunflower oil.

One fat you should avoid as much as possible are Trans fats. These are unsaturated fats that act like saturated fats. Eating large amounts of these can increase both your total and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and decrease your good (HDL) cholesterol. The Heart Foundation has found that trans fat intake is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and heart disease.

Trans fats are uncommon in nature but may be found in very low levels in beef, lamb and dairy foods. Processed foods however can contain much larger amounts of trans fats due to manufacturing processes and from super-heating oils and fats during food production. The following foods may contain very high levels of trans fats: Deep fried foods, Commercial cakes and biscuits, Pies and pastries. Look at the food label and reduce and restrict your consumption of trans fats.

10 Smart Eating tips:
  1. 1. Avoid deep-fried fast foods and takeaways.
  2. 2. Limit manufactured biscuits, cakes and pies.
  3. 3. Cut the visible fat off meat and remove the skin from chicken.
  4. 4. Choose low-fat dairy foods.
  5. 5. Limit cream and butter.
  6. 6. Reduce your sugar intake.
  7. 7. Keep an alkaline diet.
  8. 8. Read the food labels, before buying.
  9. 9. Avoid all packaged food.
  10. 10. Eat fresh, organic food and avoid GMO’s.

Enjoy your food, take time over your food, consider what you are eating, don’t deprive yourself, just reduce where necessary and consciously be aware of what you put in your and your families stomachs. We are what we eat, both mentally and physically.


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