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Humans Are Supposed To Eat Whole Grains, But Most Of Us Are Eating Their Refined Versions

Humans Are Supposed To Eat Whole Grains, But Most Of Us Are Eating Their Refined Versions

Whole grains don’t have the best reputation

Whole grains have a bad reputation as dull, stodgy foods eaten by people who spend too much time worrying about their diet. However, whole grains are actually delicious when properly prepared. Moreover, they are much better suited to our digestive systems compared with more refined foods. Even if you feel as though your digestive health is currently good, you will be pleasantly surprised by the positive side effects of eating whole grain foods on a regular basis.

Why whole grains are important for good health

Whole grains such as wheat and rye are naturally rich in nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins, but these are lost during the milling processes involved in producing “white” or refined products. This means that when you choose white bread, white pasta or other refined products, you are missing out on the valuable nutritional benefits of whole grain products. Switching to whole grain foods will boost your energy and overall health.

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Whole wheat vs white bread

The following table provides a great example of how whole grains are the better choice compared with refined foods. Consider the nutritional advantages of eating 100g of whole grain bread compared with a highly-refined white version of the same food:

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    Information Source: U.S. Department Of Agriculture 

    Not only does whole grain bread have significantly more protein and fiber, it also contains much higher quantities of calcium and iron. These nutrients are important for key bodily functions such as maintaining a resilient immune system and healthy red blood cells.

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    The role of fiber

    Popular wisdom teaches us that vegetables are the best source of dietary fiber but, in fact, whole grain foods often contain more fiber, gram for gram, than veggies. For example, consider the fiber content of a bowl of lettuce. Typically, a portion of lettuce contains only a couple of grams of fiber. When you bear in mind that we should be aiming for around 25g of fiber per day, it quickly becomes apparent that this will not make an appreciable difference to your digestive health! On the other hand, a serving of whole grain pasta contains at least 6g of fiber. Therefore, it is sensible to make whole grains a staple source of fiber in your diet.

    Fruit also contains fiber and should be eaten regularly, but relying on it as a main fiber source is not a sensible idea. While fruit contains healthy vitamins and minerals, it is often high in sugar which can place a strain on the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels if eaten to excess. To see how this might work in practice, consider the fiber content of an orange. Each orange has 3g of fiber, so eating several oranges each day would help you increase your fiber intake. However, an orange contains nearly 10g of sugar and so eating them on a frequent basis may not be the smartest move from a health perspective.

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    Caution: Introduce new foods slowly

    If you are looking to increase your intake of whole grains, change your diet over the course of a few weeks. Making a sudden change from a diet high in processed foods to one based around whole grains may trigger gastric side effects including flatulence and diarrhea. These symptoms are not dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. You can make life easier (and help your stomach adapt) by gradually phasing out refined or “white” carbohydrates and substituting whole grain versions in their place. Start by swapping your white bread for a whole grain brand, then your spaghetti, and so on. Within a couple of weeks, you should notice an improvement in your energy levels and digestive health.

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    Jay Hill

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2019

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

    One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

    In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

    Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

    1. Cat Camel Stretch

    Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

    Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

    Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

    Here’s a video to guide you through:

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    2. Go for a Walk or a Run

    This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

    Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

    The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

    Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

    Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

    3. Jumping Jacks

    Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

    Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

    4. Abductor Side Lifts

    Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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    Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

    5. Balancing Table Pose

    This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

    Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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      6. Leg Squats

      Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

      Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

      The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

      7. Push Ups

      You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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      An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

      Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

      This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

      8. Bicycle Crunches

      There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

      Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

      9. Lunges

      Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

      Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

      This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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      10. Bicep Curls

      You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

      Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

      Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

      Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

      Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

      These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

      You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

      Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

      More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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