Probiotics and Prebiotics: Listen to Your Gut!

Young woman eating yogurt, closeupThere’s been a lot of talk about probiotics those high-fiber foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms said to improve or maintain the body’s “good” garden of microflora (bacteria).

Research is ongoing, but studies have pointed to “gut health” as impacting not only the digestive system, but the immune system as well. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that consuming different strains of probiotics over an eight-week period could reduce body weight and BMI, which are two caution areas related to diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Studies at Johns Hopkins have revealed an altering of blood pressure when different gut bacteria are produced in mice, rats, and people. Good gut bacteria have also been known to help reduce allergy symptoms, inflammation, and skin issues, like acne. Experts have been looking at the effects of probiotics on mood and stress, too.

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Love Your Heart

Senior African American Couple Walking Through Fall WoodlandThere’s no sugar-coating it (even around Valentine’s Day).

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world, and the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing over 366,800 Americans a year (about one every 43 seconds). It’s the number one killer of women in the U.S., taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Heart issues in women can be more subtle. That’s dangerous, because women often misread the trouble signs while having an actual heart attack for things like acid reflux or flu. In fact, 64 percent of women who die from coronary heart disease (a narrowing of the arteries or blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart) had no previous symptoms. And heart disease is also the number one killer of men. (It doesn’t discriminate.)

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Black Bean Soup with Red Miso and Ginger

Traditional Brazilian cuisine (caldinho de feijão) with herbs on a green napkin and a traversed spoon metal spoon.Loaded with probiotic goodness, red miso (not white), a Japanese cooking staple made from fermented soy beans, is the star here (for more flavor and texture). At just 179 calories per serving, 34 g carbs, zero cholesterol, 4 g of total fat (none saturated), 11 g of fiber, and 9 g of protein, use this soup as a starter, or as a main meal with a salad, and whole-grain sourdough bread.

Note: Skip any added salt, as the miso is salty enough (743 mg). Monitor your salt intake that day, to stay under the recommended daily sodium limit of 2,300 mg (1,500, if you have high blood pressure).

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Creamy Ginger-Lemon Salad Dressing

Homemade asian peanut dressing with black sesame seedsThis light, Asian-influenced dressing gets its creaminess from Greek yogurt, and its tang from the blend of lemon and ginger. It’s an easy, quick, and tasty paring with any mixed greens combo, with just 33 calories, 1 g of carbohydrate, zero cholesterol, 2.5 g of total fat, 2 g of protein, and 2 g of sugar. (And why couldn’t you drizzle it on chicken or seafood as well?!)

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Pry Yourself Away From Processed Foods

man reading nutrition label.

Packaged foods often make life easier, when there’s little time or energy to cook. But while you may be beating the clock with getting food on the table at home (or in your cube for lunch at work), you’re likely side-stepping healthier eating. According to the American Heart Association, almost 70 percent of the typical American diet comes from processed and restaurant foods.

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Potato Soup With Chicken and Veggies

Chicken Cream Soup

Nothing warms you up like soup, and this hearty combination of chicken, potatoes, rice, and veggies hits the spot! At just 224 calories per serving, 42 g carbs, 7 mg of cholesterol, 3 g of fat, 6 g of fiber, and 8 g of protein (along with 855 mg of potassium), make it for a weeknight or weekend dinner. You can later spoon up some leftovers (if you’ve got any!) for lunch the next day.

 

 

 

 

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Detoxify Naturally by Eating Well!

Cape Town, South Africa

The beginning of a new year is when most of us start thinking about fresh starts, and push the re-set button on food and fitness. The idea of ridding the body of poisons via a “cleanse” that promises to burn fat or lose weight may be tempting. But think twice: Starving yourself by excluding solid food for a week and chugging some low-cal/low-protein miracle drink doesn’t work for healthy weight

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Very Lemony Chicken

IHomemade Lemon and Herb Chickent’s chicken tonight! And lemon is the star ingredient, with all of its citrusy brightness and flavor. You’ll love the simplicity of this dish, to be paired with your choice of vegetables, or maybe a blended rice. (It’s also a match for garden potato salad!) Coming in at a low 154 calories, with 63 mg cholesterol, just 6 g total fat, and 202 mg of sodium, here’s your go-to chicken recipe, anytime.

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Garden Potato Salad

Potato salad with mayonnaise and spring onion, selective focus

Why does potato salad have to be only for picnics? (It doesn’t!) Here’s a lighter-yet-still-tasty version that you’ll love as an anytime side dish — and it’s only 151 calories per one cup serving. This one will please a crowd, be it for potluck or the family table. (It’s also make-ahead fast and stores well.) Delish with only 1 g fat, 2 mg cholesterol, and 118 sodium.

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