Why a Chipotle Burrito is Bad for You (But Taste So Freaking Good)

Chipotle is so good!

This slideshow of the fast food with the highest sodium made me a little sad (but not really that surprised) when I saw a burrito at Chipotle on there with 2650 mg of sodium, which puts well over the suggested 2600 mg (and the 1500 mg for folks over 50).

I also really knew that the thing weighed in at a hefty 1185 calories but one saving grace… 670mg of sodium (and many of the calories) is in the tortilla itself. Cut that out and you know are looking at a svelte 920mg of sodium and 385 calories. Personally, I find the tortilla to be absolutely delicious but I know that’s because tortillas are made with a lot of lard. That’s why it tastes so freaking good.

What surprised me even more was that Panera Bread’s Full Bacon Turkey Bravo had 2800mg of sodium because of the cured bacon and processed turkey. If I’m going to ingest a salt bomb, and the associated bloatiness, make it a burrito please. :)

(Photo: cafemama)

Take a Closer Look at Lunch

Many people automatically reach for fat-laden breakfast foods such as bacon or sausage without considering other options such as whole grain toast, fruit and yogurt. Those who work outside the home often eat lunch at restaurants or from takeout sources, adding even more sugar and fat to their daily diets. Gaining information about nutrition can cut down on artery-clogging and fat-producing food choices and help people make good meal selections.

Muffins, for instance, are often believed to be healthy options for both breakfast and lunch because they are made with items such as carrots, pumpkins, wheat germ and bran. However, muffins are usually so high in fat and sugar that they aren’t good choices for health-conscious eaters. Oatmeal is a much better breakfast selection for those who want to get the most nutrition from their meals, and people who prefer a bit of sweetness can add a sprinkle or two of brown sugar.

People who work outside the home can get a good start on developing healthy eating habits by preparing their lunch at home instead of relying on restaurants and takeout fare for their midday meals. Creating a quality lunch isn’t merely a matter of putting meat and cheese between two slices of bread, however. Learning about nutrition will help fledgling lunch-makers develop ideas for flavorful yet vitamin-packed meals.

The best way to learn nutritional guidelines is to read books on the subject. Don’t limit yourself to just nutritional advice though. There are a great variety of resources now that can coach you on how to incorporate exercise and physical therapy into your daily regimen. These books contain realistic advice and valuable information about how to keep your body capable of receiving proper nutrition. When your body is groomed for health, it will crave healthier foods and snacks.

Mid-afternoon snacks are an effective way of preventing the onset of extreme hunger as the dinner hour draws near. People who allow themselves to become too hungry often overeat and make poor food choices as a result. Examples of healthy mid-afternoon snack items are fruit, low fat yogurt, raw vegetables such as carrots and celery and soups including vegetables and whole grains in their ingredients.

People suffering from cravings induced by a love of sweets can satisfy them with berries, fruit or fruit juices rather than reaching for a fatty, sugar-filled candy bar. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries all pack a significant nutritional punch while providing superior flavor.

Losing Weight To Save Money

When you take on a healthy lifestyle, it may seem as if things are expensive and time consuming. The truth of the matter is, healthy living is always cheaper than living a poor-quality life with a bad diet. People who lose weight and maintain their lifestyle change often have different priorities and end up saving money in some areas. That money is then diverted to other areas that are more important.

And even more subtly, many personal finance gurus often point out the relationship between weight and money. Consuming and expending calories isn’t that much different than earning and spending money. It’s simply a numbers game.

Less Money On Food

Fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and other whole foods are very cheap. When purchased in bulk or on sale, it’s easy to get an entire weeks worth of groceries for less than $50. Eating healthier always decreases the cost of living. You spend less energy using appliances to cook heavy foods for hours. You spend less money on gas to get fast food. Changing one thing leads to bigger savings all around.

You Spend Money On The Gym Instead

When you want to exercise and make healthy living a priority, you will find money to spend on the gym. When you ask, “what the best credit card can do to help,” you realize quickly that you can use a credit card to pay for your gym. Instead of using a credit card to pay for unnecessary things, you put it towards something that really matters and can improve your life. Additional fees may apply, but if you pay the balance accordingly you are still saving money in the long run.

You Spend Less On Healthcare

Eating right, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle will mean that you are sick less often. You won’t need to go to the doctor nearly as often. You will be healthier, stronger and you will probably reverse a lot of health ailments. Obesity costs billions in healthcare costs each year. Dropping 10 percent of your body weight is enough to see significant changes in health and well being. Not only that, you will be spending less time in doctor’s offices and more time doing the things that you love the most.

A healthy lifestyle change may seem intimidating at first. Once you get started though, things pick up and start falling into place. A healthy lifestyle is a natural lifestyle. Dropping fast food, processed foods and a stationary mindset will awaken your desire to be active and eat healthy foods. These simple changes add up overtime. Instead of wasting money on things that don’t improve your life, you will free up money to do what you really love doing.

The Health Benefits of Placenta and other Post Birth Materials

American women are increasingly choosing to make use of placentas and other post-birth materials. In doing so, they are following in the traditions of women from many cultures all over the world. One of the most common practices is for new mothers to cook and eat the placenta. Doing so contributes to good health for both mother and child in multiple ways. Here are five of the most important:

1. Restoring Nutrients

Pregnancy and child birth both take an enormous amount of energy. When a new mother consumes the placenta, she is restoring to her body some of the nutrients she’s lost. Placenta contains high amounts of protein and iron, which can be especially beneficial to mothers who have lost blood during childbirth.

2. Preventing Post Partum Depression

Placenta also provides abundant amounts of vitamins, especially B6. These vitamins can be crucial in warding off the depression that many new mothers face. Consuming the placenta may also increase the amount of stress-reducing hormones present in a woman’s body.

3. Increased Breastmilk Production

This is one of the traditional healing uses of placentas. Asian cultures in particular have a long history of using after-birth materials to encourage milk production in women experiencing difficulties. This use has been proven to be effective in a scientific study using dried placenta.

4. Uterine restoration

Pregnancy and childbirth produce serious strain on a mother’s uterus. Consuming the placenta can help with this by encouraging the body to produce oxytocin. This hormone allows the uterus to more quickly return to its normal, healthy size. Oxytocin can also help heal post-birth bleeding and internal damage.

5. Saving Cord Blood

While the placenta is important, it’s not the only source of health-promoting material. Many families are choosing to extract and store the cord blood. This blood comes from the umbilical cord, and is taken out after birth using a syringe. Cord blood is valuable because it’s full of stem cells. Stem cells can be used to treat many health conditions, including both genetic disorders such as Type 1 diabetes and acquired problems such as heart disease. Learn more with this infographic.

As you’re making your decisions about whether and how to make use of the after-birth materials, consider the health benefits listed above. Consuming the placenta can provide a new mother with increased energy, happiness and health. These benefits have the potential to be both immediate and long-lasting.

Healthy Living In A Bad Economy

The unemployment rate is dropping and the stock market is well off its 2009 low, but there’s no question that the economy remains a stagnant one these days. For federal and state governments, such a stagnation translates into budget deficits, political criticisms, and long-term solvency concerns. For the average American, however, the fears often fall even closer to home. Whether you’ve been laid off, are making less money, or simply find yourself faced with ever-growing expenses, your personal finances are likely more pressing today than they were five years ago.

The situation has had led to numerous reverberations across private and public society. But there’s one key impact that few people discuss: the ramifications of a bad economy on healthcare and healthy living.

Over the past several years Americans have forgone doctor’s visits and switched to generic prescriptions. They have canceled gym members and stopped buying natural foods. In short, they have restrained their healthy lifestyles due to a belief that such a lifestyle is inherently more expensive to maintain.

While certainly valid in some cases, this perception is generally a false one. Healthy living and cost-conscious behaviors are actually mutually inclusive. The problem, however, is that most people overestimate the expenses associated with a healthy lifestyle. For example, although life insurance does nothing to improve the health of the individual, it is a vital policy for securing the long-term care of family members. Yet most Americans overestimate the cost of a policy by a factor of three, thus insuring lower coverage rates. If you’re one of these people, click here to compare quotes and see for yourself.

So how can one improve their health while reducing their costs? Here are a few suggestions:

-Run or bike to work. With gas prices expected to peak this summer, the cost of transportation is poised to take a hefty chunk out of the average middle-class budget. Fortunately, by embracing a healthy lifestyle, you can leave the car at home, save money, and get an excellent workout on your way to the office.

-Buy fresh produce. There’s a common misconception that healthier foods are generally more expensive one. While the belief may stem from the inflated prices at many upscale grocers, not every healthy option is as expensive as Whole Foods. Instead, by visiting farmer’s markets and buying basic produce whenever possible, you may come to realize that certain healthy items (ie vegetables, fruits, beans, and rice) are actually among the cheapest nutrients out there,

-Forgo restaurant meals. On a similar note, restaurants comprise a disproportionate share of our food budgets and of our unhealthy eating habits. By minimizing or reducing the frequency with which you dine out, then, you can kill both of these vices with one stone.

-Do exercises at work. A gym membership should not be a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle. All you need to stay fit, after all, is a pair of shoes and a nearby sidewalk. But many people prefer the routine that a gym workout can provide. For these people, a short routine during the day can accomplish the same objective. Pushups, situps, plank hold, squats, wall sits, and stair runs can also be done at work, while on a time budget.

-Cancel those subscriptions. When assessing why our expenses have gone up over time, many of us can probably identify one factor that stands above the rest: technology. Thanks to smartphones, satellite television, and streaming video services, it is becoming more and more often acceptable to pay more for such perks than for basic utilities. Cutting back on your technology spend can thus save you money. At the same time, of course, it may encourage you to get outside and seek entertainment elsewhere.

These are just a few of the many ways that a person can cut costs and live a healthier life. While it often seems as though money can buy anything in today’s consumerist society, the reality is that our bodies don’t require any luxuries in order to enjoy wellness – a good lesson to keep in mind, especially these days.

White Rice Increases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

An analysis released by the British Medical Journal collected a variety of studies from China, Japan, Australia and the United States to conclude that your risk of diabetes increases 10% with each serving of white rice a day. It’s better to stick with brown rice and other whole grains instead of processed white rice, which is full of refined carbohydrates.

Four articles were identified that included seven distinct prospective cohort analyses in Asian and Western populations for this study. A total of 13 284 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were ascertained among 352 384 participants with follow-up periods ranging from 4 to 22 years. Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations had much higher white rice consumption levels than did Western populations (average intake levels were three to four servings/day versus one to two servings/week). The pooled relative risk was 1.55 (95% confidence interval 1.20 to 2.01) comparing the highest with the lowest category of white rice intake in Asian populations, whereas the corresponding relative risk was 1.12 (0.94 to 1.33) in Western populations (P for interaction=0.038). In the total population, the dose-response meta-analysis indicated that for each serving per day increment of white rice intake, the relative risk of type 2 diabetes was 1.11 (1.08 to 1.14) (P for linear trend<0.001).

The Holistic Health of Eating Organic

There are many reasons why someone would choose to adhere to an organic regiment in their diet and lifestyle. Organic foods and products are healthier, they support local farmers, and they protect the environment and the Earth’s natural ecosystems. These are all important and they affect everyone on Earth, from children to politicians to animals. But there’s an additional reason why eating and living organic is important and it has to do with holistic well being – a component that is often over-looked, yet in many ways it is the most important. It is precisely the lack of comprehensive oversight that has allowed our world to get so out of hand in the first place. Here some of the ways holistic health plays into eating organic:

Eliminating the synthetic chemicals, hormones and pesticides from your meals is cleansing. Your body is a temple and when you don’t eat organic you litter it with chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, artificial GMO products and synthetic animal hormones. Hook yourself up to a blood monitoring system and see where your levels are at. You may be shocked at the effects the substances you put in your body are having on your long term health.

Protecting the planet will allow future generations of humans to enjoy life on Earth longer. Living sustainably, which is a hallmark of organic farming and manufacturing processes, is crucial in ensuring that the bounty of our planet will be around for our children and their children. The natural pristine environments we’ve been fortunate enough to inherit are being poisoned and ruined by carbon emissions. Eating organic supports sustainability and healthy environmental practices.

Supporting local farmers can be viewed as social and ecological justice. Supporting local farmers and organic farming practices supports economic equality, stewardship of the land, and cleansed, natural ecosystems, all of which are in keeping with a holistic planetary health. Using the resources of the Earth in the most efficient, fair way possible is what organic farming is all about. Organic farms protect us from genetically enhanced, synthetic chemicals; the least we can do is to support their efforts.

We have a responsibility as children of the Earth to keep our bodies and environments clean and healthy. The ability of future generations of humans to enjoy our planet and the glory of life on it depends on supporting more sustainable practices. We must begin to view the interactions between our actions, our health and the health of the ecosystems around us as part of an all-important holistic health.

Minimally-Invasive Surgeries Increasingly Opted by Patients and Professionals Alike

Very few people look forward to surgery for the simple fact that most of us don’t exactly enjoy having our bodies cut open and our insides exposed. The late Steve Jobs skipped potentially life-saving surgery immediately after being diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that killed him, out of fear of having his body “violated.” That’s an expected reaction to an otherwise incredibly valuable medical technology. Such a situation goes against all survival instinct. Yet in many situations it is surgery itself that is key to survival. Indeed, surgery has been an enormously useful albeit disturbingly hazardous human process for thousands of years.

It is due to these basic human fears and the hazards that back them up that traditional “open” surgery is increasingly being bypassed in favor of minimally-invasive measures. Not everything that requires surgery can be done with minimal “violation” of tissue, but many common procedures such as appendectomies and gallbladder surgery are done so laparoscopically; smaller incisions are made using intricate instruments as opposed to larger more centralized incisions made with a surgeon’s hands in mind. It’s optimal from a completely professional point-of-view, in that such procedures tend to take less time, involve less steps, and are less expensive to insure against.

But the ultimate goal for surgeons and patients alike is for procedures to be developed that utilize the body’s natural orifices, according to endoscopic surgeon Dr Hrayr Shahinian. He and others who specialize in skull base surgeries opt to do so through the nasal passages instead of exposing such a sensitive part of the body through open surgery. Not only are such surgical strategies better for a patient’s psychology going into the operating room, but perhaps more importantly they decrease the dangers that cause fears to exist in the first place.

Will such seemingly advanced forms of surgery lead to even more revolutionary ways to re-work the inner functions of the human body without opening it up? Nobody can say for sure, but two things are certain: medical science is only improving, and surgical instruments are only getting smaller.  In the future, it will only be more likely that surgery will rarely even require a person have to risk their body actually being cut open.

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

While there have not been controlled medical studies to confirm this, electronic cigarettes are claimed to be safer than traditional cigarettes because you don’t inhale smoke. Electronic cigarettes are often vaporizers that vaporize a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, which you then inhale like a traditional cigarette. Many of the carcinogens associated with smoking cigarettes comes from the burning of tobacco, a step that is removed whenever you use an electronic cigarette. So while it’s not safer than not smoking, I would imagine that electronic cigarettes are safer than smoking traditional cigarettes because you aren’t burning tobacco.

That said, you are still “smoking” and your body is still absorbing nicotine and other chemicals in the vaporized liquid. Without careful controlled medical studies, we can’t possibly know the full extent of the effects but I’ve talked to people who have said that they were able to able to stop smoking with the use of electronic cigarettes, which is the stated primary purpose of electronic cigarettes. South Beach Smoke is just one company that makes electronic cigarettes and one that has been featured on MTV.

I’ll write more about the pluses and minuses of electronic cigarettes in a future post.

Simple Solutions for Avoiding Sickness This Season

Most of us dread the winter months for the simple fact that we associate the whipping winds, icy conditions, and holiday stresses with acquiring common colds and influenza at seemingly the worst possible time. We decidedly avoid the unforgiving outdoor climate and focus on our jobs and making friends and family happy during the holidays. Yet still it seems as though we can never shake off the inevitable sore throat, runny nose, or fiery cough every time winter rolls around. But as it turns out, it might be because the things we do to avoid becoming ill are the very things that cause us to get sick in the first place.

For instance, as previously mentioned it’s natural instinct to keep yourself indoors during the colder months. We can’t help but find winter weather and being sick to be synonymous. But by doing so we forget basic third-grade science lessons on how we get sick in the first place. It isn’t wind that makes your throat sore as much as it’s the viruses floating around in the air being passed from human to human. When you reduce the time you’re outdoors during the winter, you increase the time you’re exposed to air teeming with the infectious material expelled from the bodies of everyone else who stays indoors with you.
This, in turn, increases the chances that you’ll get sick.

Despite overwhelming public awareness and data that should provoke us to commit the contrary, most people still do not adequately wash their hands. The three-second cold water rinse does nothing but create the perfect environment for germs to grow, not die. The minute you touch a door knob with a clammy hand, you’re going to pick up germs like a lint roller picks up hair. Soap and warm water are absolutes when washing your hands. Otherwise you’re just making things worse.

But humans encounter germs all of the time, in any season, so is this really why people get sicker during the winter than at any other point in the year?

The stresses of this particular time of the year are factors that must be plugged into any equation attempting to understand why winter and sickness are so closely related. Studies overwhelmingly indicate that emotions and the immune system are closely connected. The more worked up you are over being the perfect Christmas gift-giver, the more likely those germs your mouth vacuums out of the air with a yawn are going to keep you in bed for a few days.
Therefore it’s essential that you get a good nights sleep and avoid the overwhelming stress inherent with the holiday season, in conjunction with getting a fair amount of exercise and fresh air. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before the high volume of viruses in the air and the high levels of stress finally take their toll on your immune system and wreak havoc on your life.