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6 So-Called Healthy Foods That Are Definitely Unhealthy

6 So-Called Healthy Foods That Are Definitely Unhealthy

Getting healthy is worthwhile and beneficial, and should be something everyone considers. However, because health is important to us, it’s also something that is easy to take advantage of. In today’s world of buzzwords, clever marketing, and package design, it’s important to know exactly how ingredients actually interact with your body. Knowing what to look for on the nutrition label will make it easy to deduct whether something is healthy, or just looks healthy. The biggest offenders are usually sugar and trans fats, and even products we think are healthy can be laden with them. Despite public perception, these 6 products are some of the most common ones to erroneously be labeled as helpful. 

1. Sports Drinks/Vitamin Drinks

While sports drinks and similarly vitamin “boosted” beverages claim to be healthy food, any health benefits are largely offset by the large quantity of sugar in these drinks. Yes, sports drinks replenish certain minerals lost during exercise, however they’re positively loaded with sugar. The average person working out, and even more casual athletes, are likely eating enough sugar in their day naturally as it is. For example, 240mL/8oz of Gatorade contains 14 grams sugar. Since the standard bottle size is 32oz, one bottle of Gatorade equals a whopping 56 grams of sugar. The average person only needs 25 to 40 grams of sugar a day. To put that in perspective, an average sized apple contains 10 grams sugar. This means if you’re an active person eating three or four servings of fruit a day, the fruit in your diet fulfills your daily amount of needed sugar. If you’re concerned about minerals lost during workouts or being low on electrolytes, running and fitness stores sell many electrolyte powders that you mix with water, most of which do not contain sugar. 

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2. Acai Berries

Superfood trends are easy to get excited about, however it’s important to do the research on any food or product claiming benefits. In the case of acai, the berries themselves help to suppress appetite, however acai berries alone don’t taste very good. Acai drinks, desserts, and snack foods contain acai, but also loads of sugar. For example, one brand of acai juice contains 25 grams of sugar per 8oz serving, making it even higher in sugar than sports and vitamin drinks. If you’re consuming acai in a drink or other sweet food, you should be thinking of it just like any other dessert. Any appetite suppressant benefit you get from the acai is more than offset by the sugar contained in these foods. If you do want the benefits of acai berries which also includes being rich in antioxidants, eat dried acai berries, preferably unsweetened.

3. Cesar Salad

A lot of people see the word “salad”, and immediately assume something is healthy. In the case of Caesar salad however, you might want to think again. The vegetables you consume in a Caesar salad are certainly good for you and rich in vitamins, however Caesar dressing is made with oils and mayonnaise. Creamy salad dressings are higher calorie than most, and richer in fat. In fact, one ounce of an average Caesar dressing contains 25% of your daily fat intake.

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4. Granola Bars

Granola bars are another food many of us just assume is going to be good for us. However like many other items on this list most of our favorite kinds are full of sugar. Even granola bars that are natural or from similarly named companies often have more sugar than you need in a day. There are healthy granola bars out there, just be sure to read the nutrition label. Case in point, this variety from Nature Valley contains 12 grams of sugar for a 35 gram bar, making the granola bar nearly half sugar.

5. Roasted Nuts

Many snack on nuts thinking they are a healthy choice, however if you want health benefits, snack on nuts infrequently. Contrary to popular belief, roasting or cooking nuts does not cause the healthy fats to convert into trans fats. However, nuts of any kind are high in different kinds of fat. Though these fats are “healthy” fats, they are still fats. Not as harmful as trans fats, but will still go to your hips if you eat too much.

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6. Diet Soda Pop

Finally, diet soda is the last unhealthy “healthy” alternative on our list. Sure, diet soda pop is lower in sugar, but it does contain a number of substitute sweeteners. These substitute sweeteners have not been proven to be explicitly harmful, however previous studies only followed the results of ingesting small amounts. Eating fake sweeteners in smaller amounts may not be harmful for you, but they are certainly something you want to eat infrequently. Not only that, despite the fact that fake sweeteners will not give your body a sugar high, they do stimulate the parts of your brain that enjoy sweet foods. You’re not eating a large amount of sugar in diet pop, but your body reads it as sugar in your brain. This has been found to increase your cravings for real sugar later. Drink diet pops less frequently, since they will make you crave desserts stronger in the future.

Featured photo credit: Mike Mozart via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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