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Best Cooking Oils in 2021

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cooking oil

Choosing the right oil

No single oil will meet most people’s needs – you need to find a range of oils that suit your culinary needs and lifestyle. So how do you choose the right oil?

Should you use olive or canola oil, or just plain vegetable oil to stir-fry your veggies? What about drizzling on your salad?

We explain which oils are best for cooking tasks, compare the fat content of common cooking oils, and explain the facts about fats and cholesterol.

You’ll usually want a neutral-tasting oil that doesn’t mask the flavor of your food for everyday cooking. Regular olive oil and canola oil are good choices.

Cold-pressed oils may be too strong in flavor and are usually more expensive.

For frying, you’ll need oil with a high smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature to which oil can be heated before it smokes and discolors.

Blended vegetable oils and canola, grapeseed, and peanut oil have high smoke points. Butter and table spreads have low smoke points, so they suit light sautéing rather than frying.

For salads, pasta, and stir-fries, you may want an oil with a distinctive flavor – most cold-pressed oils (extra-virgin olive oil, almond, and avocado) are good choices. They are also great drizzled on meat, fish, and vegetables or for dipping bread.

As a rule, nut oils are best used in cold dishes because cooking heat can destroy their delicate flavors.

Flaxseed oil (sometimes called linseed oil) shouldn’t be heated either … but it’s delicious added to smoothies or salad dressings.

Fat facts

We all love the flavor that oil brings to food. Gram for gram, however, fat contributes more kilojoules than carbohydrates or protein.

All oil is 100 percent fat; cutting back can help you stay in shape.

But for the health of your heart and arteries, it’s the type of fat that matters (see “What is cholesterol?” below).

Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids – saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

All fats are made up of a mixture of these fatty acids, with one type usually predominating in each oil or fat

Types of fat

cooking oil

Saturated fat

Saturated fat raises the total amount of cholesterol – and the amount of “bad” low-density lipid (LDL) cholesterol – in your blood. Saturated fats can also promote blood clotting, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Certain cancers (breast and bowel cancer) have been linked with high intakes of saturated fat.

Tip: Fats high in saturates are usually solid at room temperature. You’ll find saturated fat in meat, full-fat dairy products, butter, spreads, cakes, and biscuits. Palm and coconut oil are high in saturated fat too.

Trans fat

This has the same effect as saturated fat because it raises both total and LDL cholesterol. Trans fat also decreases “good” high-density lipid (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Small amounts of certain trans fats occur naturally in butter, milk, cheese, and meat. But the problematic trans fats are mostly formed when liquid oils are hydrogenated.

This is the process of adding hydrogen, which hardens fats and makes them more stable and convenient to use.

Tip: You’ll find trans fats in some table spreads, cakes, biscuits, and other processed foods. Liquid vegetable oils have negligible amounts of trans fats.

Monounsaturated fats

These are “good” fats. They lower total and LDL cholesterol and appear to have a little adverse effect on HDL cholesterol.

Avocado, canola, macadamia nut, and olive oil are good sources of monounsaturates.

Polyunsaturated fats

These are also “good” fats that have been found to lower total and LDL cholesterol. High intakes may lower HDL cholesterol. Sunflower, safflower, soya bean, and grapeseed oils are good sources of polyunsaturates.

Omega fatty acids

Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturates that are essential for health – our body can’t make them, so we need them in our diet.

Omega-6 fatty acids are more prevalent in the oils of seeds and grains, like sunflower and corn oil. Flaxseed and fish oils are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The omega-3s found in fish oils are beneficial for many conditions, including heart disease, joint mobility, and brain and eye development.

What is cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is essential to help build the hormones and nerve cells your body needs.

But too much cholesterol may thicken the walls of your blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Cholesterol mainly gets around in the blood attached to LDLs and HDLs as carriers.

LDLs are the “bad” form. If you have high levels of them in your blood, it’s likely some will be deposited as fatty streaks on your artery walls – which increases your risk of heart disease.

In contrast, HDLs help slow this process by carrying cholesterol out of the tissues and back to the liver for processing.

The liver makes most of the cholesterol your body needs. We also get cholesterol from eating animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy products.

However, LDL-cholesterol levels are linked more strongly to your intake of saturated and trans fats than to your intake of cholesterol-containing foods.

So watch out for “low” or “no” cholesterol foods that are high in saturated or trans fats.

Monos or polys?

Health experts advise replacing saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. But which is better: mono or poly?

There’s no definitive answer. They both lower total and LDL cholesterol.

But some studies suggest that very high levels of polyunsaturated fats can, in addition to lowering the LDL cholesterol, also lower the “good” HDL cholesterol. It’s unlikely you’d eat such high levels in a normal diet.

Polyunsaturated fats appear to be more susceptible to oxidation than monounsaturates. There’s concern that oxidized oils may have bad health effects.

On the other hand … the omega-3 polyunsaturates found in fish oils appear to decrease blood clotting, which can reduce your risk of heart disease. Monounsaturates don’t have this effect.

Tip: The best advice is to replace some of the saturated fat with a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and to focus on monounsaturates and omega-3s. Many vegetable oils are low in saturated fats and either high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.

Oil lingo

Cold-pressed: The oil is extracted from the seed, fruit, or nut by mechanical pressing only. There’s little or no heat to extract more oil.

After it’s pressed, the oil just needs to be filtered, and so it tends to keep its natural flavor. You can usually tell a cold-pressed oil by its deep color, stronger flavor, and higher price.

Expeller-expressed: These oils are obtained by squeezing the seed, fruit, or nut at high pressure.

Most oils are extracted by this method but don’t qualify as cold-pressed because the high-pressure squeezing generates heat. Expeller-pressed oils still retain most of their flavor, aroma, and color.

Refined: Most oils produced on a large scale, such as canola and sunflower, are refined. Refining involves several processes that include using heat and chemicals. Bleaching gives the oils a light color.

Deodorizing removes any aromatic oils or free fatty acids that might be left in the oil to affect flavor. Distilling removes any final material that could cause unwanted aromas.

As a general rule, more refining means less flavor and color.

Light: It’s light – but in color and taste only. Like every other oil, light oil is 100 percent fat. (If you want to cut kilojoules, useless.)

“No cholesterol”: Don’t be impressed by no-cholesterol claims on oils. Cholesterol comes from animal products, so vegetable oils will contain virtually none anyway.

Olive oil

Olive oil has a reputation for being healthy. The health benefits are related primarily to the oil’s high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids.

But extra-virgin olive oil has an advantage over other oils. When processed correctly, it contains the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenols.

Antioxidants have been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer. Of all antioxidants, polyphenols have the most effect.

You can pay top dollar for extra-virgin olive oil, but the best indicator of good oil is freshness and packaging.

Previously when we’ve blind-tasted olive oils, the top oils were pressed the same year as our tasting and were in dark bottles.

Best-before dates aren’t a good indicator of quality because you don’t know how old the oil is.

Extra-virgin: The highest grade of olive oil – it’s usual to pay a premium for it. Extra-virgin’s made from the first pressing of olives and has minimal processing to maintain the flavor and aroma.

As a result, it’s the olive oil with the highest levels of antioxidants. Extra-virgin can’t have more than 0.8 percent acidity and must be assessed as fault-free by an expert panel.

Virgin: Olive oil with minor imperfections and a higher acidity level.

Pure: A mix of refined and virgin oil, resulting in a milder olive taste.

Light or extra-light: Refined oil with small amounts of virgin oil added. These oils are “light” in color and taste, but they’re not “light” in fat or kilojoules.

Country of Origin

Buying extra-virgin olive oil from Italy? You need to check the labels carefully – chances are it’s not made from Italian olives at all.

Spain is the biggest producer of olives and olive oil. Italy is the second-biggest producer.

But, because the Italians are the biggest consumers of olive oil, Italy doesn’t produce enough olives to meet local demand.

A lot of the Spanish crop is exported to Italy, where it’s repackaged for sale as Italian olive oil. Other countries such as Greece and Turkey also export olives to Italy.

If a product says it’s “imported from Italy,” this gives the impression that the olives were grown in Italy. Still, it probably only means the oil was bottled there. Some products are more upfront – the label says it’s “bottled in Italy”.

If you’re looking for olive oil made with Italian olives, look for the label “Product of Italy” or “Produced and bottled in Italy”.

Our advice

Choose an oil that’s low in saturated and trans fat. But remember that all oil is 100 percent fat, so use as little as possible.

If you’re heavy-handed with your oil, measure it with a spoon. Or try a non-stick oil spray – the amount that comes out in a spray is small, and so it’s easier to useless.

Heat and light can affect oil quality. Try to avoid oils that have been displayed in a shop window or under fluorescent lights.

Green or dark bottles – or tins – provide better protection from the light. Store your oil in a cool dark place, tightly stoppered.

Oils don’t improve with age. So buy the freshest oil possible. Look for a pressed-on date if there is one: best-before dates aren’t always a good indicator of quality because you don’t know how old the oil is.

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Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Health & Household

9 Best Water Bottles You’ll Actually Use Every Day

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best water bottle

Hydration is an absolute must for a healthy life, especially if you live in a drier climate. If you’re anything like us, panic sets in when you’re anywhere that’s not within arm’s reach of some ice-cold water.

That’s why an increasing amount of people won’t leave the house without their own water bottles nowadays. Your own reusable bottle will keep your drink cold and easily accessible, so you’ll never be parched again!

There are so many options available, so we’ve narrowed down this list of our favorites. Some feature the newest technologies, such as double-walled vacuum insulation, and others are a downright bargain. Every single one will keep your beloved agua right where it belongs — with you at all times!

 

Let’s take a look at our Top Five Picks:

Hydro Flask Water Bottle – Wide Mouth Straw Lid 2.0: Best Overall

Hydro Flask Water Bottle - Wide Mouth Straw Lid 2.0

Pros

  • Keeps your water super cold                          for up to 24 hours

Cons

  • A bit heavy

Bottom Line: This double-insulated bottle keeps water ice-cold for up to 24 hours.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve definitely seen these around. If you haven’t tried one yet, Hydro Flask’s double-walled, vacuum-insulated bottles are seriously life-changing!

They can keep drinks icy cold for up to 24 hours, and they can even keep liquids hot for up to 6 hours, which is what makes it our pick for the best overall.

Fill it with ice water before you head outdoors, and your drink will stay chilled, even if you’re braving the sweltering desert sun. You may even be surprised to find ice cubes still floating up to 24 hours later, which makes this perfect for outdoor summer activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing!

We like the 32-ounce bottle the best, but there are plenty of sizes to choose from. A straw lid option makes it easy to drink while you’re on the move, too.

There are also more than 15 popping colors to fit your personality, and you can even completely customize your bottle with their new My Hydro program!

CamelBak Eddy+ BPA Free Water Bottle: Best Budget Buy

CamelBak Eddy+ BPA Free Water Bottle

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Practical
  • Portable

Cons

  • The straw can take some                             time getting used to

Bottom Line: An economical, reusable bottle that won’t spill or leak.

CamelBak’s Eddy is BPA-free, holds plenty of water, is easy to fill (even at a soda machine), and won’t spill if you’re drinking on-the-move. It also costs a fraction of what some bottles can run, which is why it’s our choice for the best budget bottle.

One feature that makes this bottle unique is the Big Bite Valve. To drink, simply flip up the valve and suck through the straw — no more spilling all over your face while driving or walking!

It’s super easy to transport, too, thanks to a carabiner-carrying loop that can hook onto the outside of a backpack. This bottle may not be anything fancy, but it will carry your water without spilling or leaking, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

S’well Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Best Steel Bottle

S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle


Pros

  • Won’t retain unwanted flavors
  • Insulated
  • Keeps Drinks Cold for 36Hrs
  • Keeps Drinks Hot for 18Hrs

Cons

  • Scratches easily

Bottom Line: A practical steel bottle that’s the perfect size for cupholders and backpacks.

We love steel bottles, like this one that’s made of food-grade steel, because they’re super durable, easy to clean, and won’t retain flavors.

Fill it with an iced coffee in the morning, water at lunch, and a drink mix in the afternoon and a quick clean between fills is all you’ll need to keep your sports drink from having a hint of coffee.

Ice will stay frozen for as long as 36 hours and hot drinks up to 18 hours. This 17-ounce bottle has plenty of benefits.

It’s affordable and has a leak-proof cap. It’s the perfect shape to fit in your car’s cupholder or in a backpack’s side pocket, which makes this option ideal for a busy lifestyle of commuting and travel.

We like this wide-mouth version the most because it’s easy to consume more water at once. Still, you can also get this bottle with an easy-to-drink sports cap in case you need something that’s easier to manage on the go.

Polar Bottle Sport Insulated Water Bottle: Best Sport Bottle

Polar Bottle Sport Insulated Water Bottle - BPA-Free, Sport & Bike Squeeze Bottle with Handle

Pros

  • Great for workouts

Cons

  • Capacity might be too                                   small for some

Bottom Line: This sports bottle makes hydration easy while you’re exercising.

For gym sessions, a wide-mouth bottle is the easiest way to end up wearing half of your water all over the front of your shirt. That’s why a dedicated sport water bottle, such as this one, is a must.

It’s made of a durable plastic that can be tossed on a hard floor without making a loud bang. It has a cap that controls output by squeezing, and it can be opened and closed hands-free (a must for cycling).

This 24-ounce sports bottle from Polar has a light layer of insulation. This won’t compare to double-insulated steel bottles.

Still, it will keep your water from cooking when it’s exposed to the sun, whether that’s in your bike bottle cage or on the sidelines at your adult softball league.

EcoVessel SURF Sport Glass Water Bottle: Best Glass Bottle

EcoVessel SURF Sport Glass Water Bottle with Protective Silicone Sleeve and Loop Top - 22 Ounces


Pros

  • Water tastes better

Cons

  • A drop could get messy

Bottom Line: Now, you can drink water from (silicone-encased) glass outside of your own kitchen.

If you’re someone who insists that water (and other liquids) just taste better from a glass, you also know that it’s not safe (or practical) to carry a pint glass outside of the house.

If you wish they made glass sippy cups for adults so you won’t fry the electronics at your workspace in the event of a spill, this is the perfect option for you.

This Eco Vessel Surf bottle has a 22-ounce capacity, and it’s made from recycled glass. If you’re scared of breaking it, have no fear — the reinforced silicone sleeve will prevent breakage from a drop of up to 8 feet high! 

More of Our Top Picks:

Though we couldn’t imagine 30 minutes without water, we understand that not everyone is as addicted to H2O.

That’s why we’ve included a few additional bottles worth honorable mention — one with an infuser, one with a filter, one that’s a straight-up splurge, and one that’s just plain sexy!

LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle: Best Filter Bottle

LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel

Pros

  • Removes bacteria and makes                     water tastes better

Cons

  • The filter has to be replaced

Bottom Line: Clean, purified water is now available literally anywhere you go.

Not a fan of water from a public fountain? Travel often to cities with murky tap water? Or do you need something to filter water from a stream while hiking? 

Check out LifeStraw’s Go: It’s a 22-ounce bottle with a portable purification system.

This bottle features two-step water filtration without using iodine or iodized resin. In stage one, it removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria. In stage two, the removable carbon capsule reduces chlorine, bad taste, and organic chemical matter.

The capsule is good for up to 26 gallons of use, so you’ll have access to clean, purified drinking water no matter where you are.

YETI Rambler 26 oz Bottle: Best Splurge

YETI Rambler 26 oz Bottle, Vacuum Insulated, Stainless Steel with Chug Cap

Pros

  • Holds temperature                                   amazingly well

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Bottom Line: An investment for the outdoors person who needs a durable, versatile, insulated bottle.   

By now, almost everyone knows that Yeti started the double insulation movement for coolers and tumblers and that their products can keep contents incredibly cold for an insane amount of time.

Their Rambler bottle line is killer, too, thanks to the double-wall vacuum insulated construction that’ll keep ice cubes frozen even if you’re baking in 100-degree weather on a fishing boat.

Sure, this 26-ounce Rambler comes with a bit of sticker shock, but it’s so much more than just a water bottle.

Fill it with a few cold beers and head down to the beach, or fill it with hot coffee before you head out for an early morning. Either way, your liquids will stay hot or cold until they’re gone!

We really dig this option’s powder-coated black finish. You can also choose from four additional colors (olive, seafoam, blue, and steel), or even customize your bottle with a logo!

S’ip by S’well Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Best Stylish Bottle

S'ip by S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Pros

  • As stylish as a water                                       bottle can be

Cons

  • Difficult to fill with ice

Bottom Line: When the style is just as important as hydration, accessorize with this bottle.

This S’well bottle is about as fashionable as a water bottle can be, and it performs pretty darn well, too.

If you can’t bring yourself to carry the bulkier, sportier bottles, this one has over 15 fun patterns that look damn good on your desk at a team meeting or right by your side at Pilates.

The double-insulated construction will keep your beverage cold throughout a session of hot yoga, too.

The 15-ounce capacity is rather scant, though, and the narrow opening doesn’t accept ice cubes as easily as it should. However, for anyone who can get by on a smaller amount of water and values style overcapacity, S’well’s fun prints will no doubt be a conversation starter.

OMORC 32 OZ Sport Fruit Infuser Water Bottle: Best Infuser Bottle

OMORC 32 OZ Sport Fruit Infuser Water Bottle, Flip Top Lid & Dual Anti-Slip Grips, BPA Free Infuser Water Bottle, Free Recipes and A Cleaning Brush

Pros

  • Makes your water taste great

Cons

  • No room for full-size ice cubes

Bottom Line: Creating your own flavors will make it easier than ever to stay hydrated.

Is water’s lack of taste preventing you from staying adequately hydrated?

Then add some fruit to your water with this infuser bottle.

It features a full-length infuser compartment that can hold more fruit than ever before, so you’ll get tons of flavor with each sip.

It also has two nonslip grips, a flip-top cap that keeps germs off the spout, and a 32-ounce capacity that, when filled with fruit in the morning, will provide plenty of flavorful water all day long.

If you’re trying to make the switch from sugary beverages to water, the infusion will make the transition a little less painful.

OMORC 32 OZ Sport Fruit Infuser Water Bottle Presentation

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Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Health & Household

Best 10 SAD Light Therapy Lamps to Brighten Your Mood This Spring

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best light therapy sad lamp

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder is the feeling of depression or fatigue in the colder months when the day is shorter to enjoy natural sunlight. There are several ways to lessen this gloomy feeling.

Using a SAD lamp in your morning schedule for around 30 minutes a day has shown to be an effective, low-side-effect supplement to other kinds of treatments. Ask your doctor if using one of these light therapy lamps would be the right choice for you.

Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria

The Lightphoria is an excellent starter lamp for its small size and portability. This lamp emits a bright wide-spectrum light, mimicking bright sunshine on a clear day while filtering out UV exposure. Great for frequent travelers so as not to disrupt their daily light therapy sessions.

Verilux Deluxe Energy Lamp

The wall-mount option of this light-therapy lamp allows you to easily add it into your morning routine. Just turn it on shortly after waking up and use it while getting ready. At the same time, you stretch or meditate to further reduce your cold-weather fatigue.

Philips Light Therapy Wake-up Light

The most appropriate time to use a SAD lamp is in the morning. So, if you want to integrate this kind of therapy into your routine without having to even think about it, opt for this gentle alarm clock.

It gently wakes you up each morning by simulating sunlight, along with some soothing sounds. It’s not as bright as a standard light therapy device, in case you would prefer to ease into using this method.

Northern Light Flamingo Therapeutic Floor Lamp

For those who exercise at home in the mornings, this floor therapy lamp gives you those same mood-boosting benefits. At the same time, you’re in motion, and the head can be adjusted so that the light shines directly on you.

Fortunately, this lamp’s simple design will make sure it doesn’t stick out too much in your home!

Nature Bright SunTouch Plus

This best-selling therapy lamp emits a bright blue light. Also, it features an air ionizer to further energize and brighten the mood of the user.

Both of these distinctive features could potentially be irritating to a person who has never used light therapy. Hence, as with all of these lamps, talk to your doctor about whether a blue versus a white light would be better suited for you.

Northern Light Technologies Luxor Desk Lamp

This lamp features a distinctive design and produces up to 10,000 lux of light when enjoyed from the appropriate distance. The benefits of regular use in the mornings could help you curb your cravings, get you back on a regular sleep schedule, and even eliminate jet lag.

Nature Bright Sun Bliss 2-in-1 Portable Light Therapy and Wake-Up Light

Banish your cell phone from the bedroom once and for all with this portable 2-in-1 wake-up light. This device is powerful enough to use as a regular SAD lamp, or you can use it as a sunrise-simulator for happier and more peaceful mornings.

Day-Light Classic Bright Light Therapy Lamp

This pick is great for those who have used light therapy lamps before and greatly enjoy the energizing benefits from them.

It emits a strong 10,000 lux of light while positioned 12 inches away from the user (not looking directly into it) while also giving off a pleasant feeling of warmth as well.

Users who live in cold and gray climates may want to keep it at their desk-side to help send them out the door with more of a pep in their step.

Aura Light Therapy Lamp

When not in use, this lamp’s understated design looks just like an ordinary speaker on your desktop. A great accompaniment to have on while checking email, eating breakfast, and going about your morning routine.

Luminette 2

If your mornings are more get-up-and-go, and you just don’t have the time to sit in front of a light therapy device, the Luminette 2 is a portable and hassle-free solution.

It sits above your ears like an adjustable pair of glasses. While keeping your vision unobstructed, it sends light to the photoreceptors in your eyes.

In this way, you can continue your morning routine and give your mood a little boost without any interruption! It’s advised that you wear it for just 20 minutes per day to see results.

Conclusion

Don’t get too caught up with the nesting instinct, though. We need Vitamin D from the sun to keep our teeth and bones healthy and to help us keep our spirits up during those shorter days.

That means steeling yourself to go outdoors at least once a day (and a quality supplement wouldn’t hurt either!)

We tell ourselves all kinds of things to justify staying indoors when it’s cold. Still, the fact is that as long as you keep yourself warm and hydrated, a quick trip into the world outside is more likely to do you good than harm.

Put on your chapstick, grab your coat and your gloves, and brave the cold for a bit. Even if it’s just a brisk walk to take your dog out or check the mailbox. You’ll feel better about it.

If heading outdoors really isn’t an option for you, there are ways for you to get the benefits of light therapy in your own home.

Energy-saving daylight bulbs nowadays are easier to find and cheaper. They’re used by people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to help manage their symptoms, and evidence suggests that they’re actually beneficial.

Use one with a table or desk lamp, and an instant mood and alertness boost is only a flick of a switch away!

Light Therapy Bulbs

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Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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The 5 Foods You Need to Avoid If You Want More Energy

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The 5 Foods You Need to Avoid If You Want More Energy

If there’s one thing we all want in life, it’s to have a purpose. It’s such a simple need, but without it, we can often feel helpless and lost. We move through life seeking out those things that make us feel fulfilled and worthy of being here.

The careers and creative paths we choose play a huge role in keeping us on track to achieve this goal. But the fast-paced, technology-fueled world we live in can compromise that mission and leave us feeling overwhelmed, weary, and sometimes burned out.

TiredIf you’re constantly asking yourself why you’re always tired, then it might be time to address the things that are causing your stress levels to spike out of control and remedy it with energy-boosting rituals and foods.

Since our modern lives are fraught with calendar reminders and deadlines, sometimes on a daily basis, just the thought of slowing down can trigger anxiety.

Still, Libby Weaver, Ph.D., one of Australia’s leading nutritional biochemists and author of new book Exhausted to Energized, says this is slowly taking a toll on our energy and our health. “If we feel overwhelmed (and as though we have more to do than time in the day allows), it’s going to take a toll on our energy because we are communicating distress to our body, and the body will respond by making stress hormones—specifically adrenalin and cortisol,” she told MyDomaine.

“We’re more likely to be worried or feel anxious because we don’t feel on top of things, which puts our body into what I refer to as the ‘red zone’—the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Because our body links stress to survival, if we spend too much time in the red zone, it’s going to start impacting our ability to rest effectively, which will take even more of a toll on our energy. It can become one troublesome cycle.”

Ahead, Weaver shares some of her simple yet effective strategies and daily habits to avoid the stress trap, the energy-boosting foods you should eat, the link between digestion and energy, and why your morning coffee is a major trigger.

Good Digestion is the foundation of energy

Good, Digestion

We’re all familiar with that feeling when we’ve eaten something we shouldn’t have. Your stomach doesn’t feel quite right, often resulting in that dreaded bloated feeling or worse.

Poor digestion also greatly impacts your energy levels. According to Weaver, nothing works properly without good digestion, including your body’s ability to extract and experience the energy from the food you eat.

“The capacity of your digestive system to produce good levels of stomach acid begins what is known as a pH gradient through the gut that determines how well you break food down and absorb the nutrients available,” she explains.

“Digestion is intricate and complex, and it is intimately connected to how you feel and function every single day. From your energy levels to the fat you burn, from the texture and appearance of your skin to whether you have a bloated tummy, right down to your mood. Digestion sustains us; it is the process of breaking down food so that we can absorb and utilize it for energy. So if it’s not functioning optimally, we’re going to feel it in many different ways—including with energy issues.”

Your Daily Coffee Is Making You Tired (and Stressed Out)

Coffee

With the stressful lives, we lead, many of us are running on adrenalin, and one of the energy zappers is caffeine. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but your much-loved morning ritual could be the reason your energy is so low, and you’re feeling stressed out.

We can already hear your collective groan at the thought of giving it up. We know it’s hard—I did, and the detox process wasn’t pretty—but if you’re serious about boosting your energy, Weaver urges you to reconsider that cup of joe for a superfood latte instead. Here’s why.

“Caffeine is a stimulant, so when it hits our system, it binds to what is known as the adenosine receptors in the brain,” she explained. “This sends a signal to the adrenal glands to release adrenalin.

Being one of our stress hormones, Adrenalin is not designed to be churned out 24-7. So if we’re feeling stressed, pressured, or overwhelmed and running around trying to do a million things at once—already pumping out adrenalin—and then we go a gulp down a coffee (or two or five!), we’re signaling to our bodies to make even more adrenalin.

“Because this is our get-out-of-danger hormone, the body mobilizes glucose (sugar) to power you to get out of the danger that adrenalin drives your body to perceive that it is in. You then burn that glucose (or put it back into storage) with the subsequent surges and drops in energy levels that accompany the highs of high adrenalin and sugar (instead of body fat) utilization. You soar, and then you crash, and you feel like only more caffeine and sugar can fuel you. Your body has the capacity to supply you with outstanding energy. We just have to allow it to do this.”

Ditch Energy-Busting Foods

Junk, Food

Suppose you are feeling stressed, fatigued, and burned out. In that case, Weaver says anything that detracts from your health and puts pressure on your body is best minimized or omitted if possible.

That means cutting out foods that zap your energy or increase your cortisol levels. Weaver’s top five are refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and highly processed foods.

“Often people aren’t so good at removing things from how they eat—if it was that easy, they would have done it already,” she said. “I find it is usually more useful to simply focus on including more whole and real foods.

Aim for one more real food meal or drink or snack each week, which I don’t think is overwhelming for an individual or a family. Within in two months of doing this, you will have doubled the number of nutrients going in. For so many people, that would change their health and energy.”

Chew Your Food Properly

Chew, Food

It might seem too simple to make a difference or even a little obvious. Still, one of the best ways to improve your digestion (and therefore your energy) is to chew your food properly.

Weaver says taking the time to implement this small action can make a world of difference to our digestion. “When we swallow some partially chewed food and some not-at-all-chewed food, we’re asking an awful lot of our stomach,” she said. “This alone can be the basis of digestive system problems, such as bloating.”

Don’t Drink Water With Your Meals

Drink, Water

How often do you have a glass of water with your meal? It seems like a staple of every tablescape, but Weaver says it’s time to ditch the H2O at mealtime.

“When we drink water with our meals, we’re essentially diluting our stomach acid,” she said.

“Ideally, our stomach sits at a pH of 1.9. Water sits at a pH of 7 or greater—depending on the mineral content of it. So drinking water with our meals compromises the effectiveness of our digestion by diluting our stomach acid.”

Weaver says the main issue with this is that many people today have stomach acid that is not acidic enough to effectively break down food.

“We can improve our stomach acid by avoiding drinking water with our meals (drink between meals) and stimulate stomach acid production by taking apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in warm water around 10 to 15 minutes before we eat.”

Be Aware of the Signs

Bloated

The problem with digestive issues is that most people aren’t even aware they have them. Weaver tells us there are many symptoms that people accept as the norm for them when the reality is they’re common but not normal.

So how do you know when your digestive system isn’t functioning at its optimal level? Weaver says to be aware of the signs.

“You will experience anything from reflux, excessive burping, bloating, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach cramps through to sluggish energy, food sensitivities, dark circles under our eyes, and skin breakouts,” she said.

Implement the “Stop, Keep, Start” Strategy when stress hits

Stress

A useful strategy Weaver suggests in her book to reduce stress is “stop, keep, start.” This exercise helps you to get a handle on your priorities—what we want more of in our lives and what we want less of in our lives.

So how does it work? “It entails asking ourselves, What am I going to stop doing? What am I going to keep doing? What am I going to start doing?” says Weaver.

“Stop, keep, start goals can make change fun, manageable, and suitable for your lifestyle. When we take some time to reflect and inquire within ourselves, it’s endlessly astounding what we can come up with.

There will be things you know in your heart that you need to stop doing for better energy. However, there will also be things you already do that foster your own energy (keep) and things that you would do well to embrace (start).”

Stop and Take a Break

Relax

While we can all agree (unanimously) that stress is seriously taking its toll on our energy, we don’t always know how to curb it before it’s too late.

But the remedy may be simpler and more accessible than you think. Weaver says it’s as simple as taking a moment to stop, to give your body a break.

“Time for proper rest is incredibly important, and not just sleep—though that is important as well,” she urged.

“If we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we’re going to feel as though we don’t have time to stop, but the very act of not stopping is feeding the stress. So taking some time to ourselves where we have nothing to do can be incredibly energizing, even if it’s just 15 to 30 minutes a day. It can help to create a sense of spaciousness even though what is on our to-do list hasn’t changed.”

If you’re not sure how to change, then Weaver recommends changing how you show up to attend to those tasks.

“It’s important to communicate to our bodies that it’s safe to stop churning out stress hormones,” she said. Some of the great ways you can do this are through gentle yoga (such as restorative yoga), tai chi, qi gong, meditation, or a simple diaphragmatic breathing exercise.

“It can also help to shift our thinking from I have to to Wow, I get to do what we have ahead of us each day. Most people in the world would be beside themselves to have the lives we have, given our basic needs are met, yet still, it is not the case for too many people. You cannot be grateful and make stress hormones at the same time.”

Introduce Some Stress-Free Rituals

Relax

Suppose you’re addicted to stress and feel like it’s consuming you. In that case, Weaver suggests starting your day with something as simple as getting outside for a walk, in nature if possible.

“It can make such an amazing difference to the rest of our day,” she said. “Any kind of daily ritual that helps us relax (is good). It’s important for us to find things that work because if we don’t enjoy something, chances are it won’t stick.”

On top of this, remembering what a gift life is and how much we have to be grateful for is also key to reducing stress—a gratitude journal is a great place to start.

“I know that might sound a bit eye-roll–ish, but science has proven unequivocally that our nervous system cannot focus on two things at once, so if we’re feeling grateful, we can’t possibly be feeling stressed,” she said.

Restore Your Energy With Energy-Boosting Foods

Energy, Woman

With a packed calendar, it’s often hard to sit down and eat a healthy lunch (let alone a mindful one), so very often, lunch becomes a rice cake with peanut butter or a packet of chips from the snack machine.

But without proper nutrition, Weaver says our bodies are less equipped to handle stress, and our energy plateaus come in the afternoon. Here she shares the top four food groups we should eat every day to boost energy levels and combat stress.

Leafy Greens

leafy greens

“Particularly the brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients, including antioxidants and other substances that are unique to these foods.

The body uses many of these substances for specific biochemical pathways (such as sulforaphane for liver detoxification), which will lead to lousy energy if it is not efficient.”

Vitamin B-Rich Foods

Vitamin B

“In particular vitamin B1, B2 and B3. These three vitamins are critical for turning food into an energy source within our body.

Lentils, nuts, and seeds contain vitamin B1; leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, almonds, and eggs are rich in vitamin B2; and B3 is found in the highest concentrations in meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and fish. In contrast, lesser amounts can be found in peanuts and beans.”

Fats

Good, Fat

“They provide us with fatty acids, which are an important source of energy, many of which are considered ‘essential,’ as the body cannot synthesize them—they must be eaten to be obtained.

The best sources of fat for energy come from avocado, coconut, organic butter, and meat from pasture-fed animals, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, whole blackcurrants (the fat is in the seed), and evening primrose oil.”

Iron-Rich Foods

Red, Meat

“Iron is essential for the transportation of oxygen around the body. Studies show that 20 to 30% of menstruating women in USA are iron-deficient, resulting from poor dietary intake, poor absorption, undiagnosed coeliac disease, or heavy menstrual blood loss. Foods containing iron include red meat, eggs, mussels, dates, and green leafy vegetables.”

Into this category also falls things that are best avoided. Food is the only way we obtain physical energy—from the macronutrients—fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Many processed foods contain substances that science is now showing we have no ability to break down inside our digestive systems. When you supply your body with too many of these problematic substances, you can interrupt your body’s ability to obtain and experience energy.

To minimize (or omit) your consumption of processed foods for excellent long-term sustained energy.”

If you’re keen to return your body from exhausted to energized, then check out Weaver’s book below:

Exhausted to Energized: Dr Libby’s Guide to Living Your Life with More Energy

How do you keep your body energized? Share your stress-busting tactics below.

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Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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