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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Nine ‘brain food’ tips for researchers

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As nutrition researchers, we are often asked to advise colleagues as well as members of the public on diet and exercise to promote good health. But do we always practice what we preach? We both face challenges to eating healthily. Like many of our peers, we often work long hours — according to a survey carried out by Nature in mid-2021, nearly one-third of researchers work more than 50 hours a week. Accordingly, we are often tempted by the chocolate bar from the vending machine, despite knowing that fruit and vegetables are a healthier option: five portions of these a day (the equivalent of around 80–100 grams) can help to prevent diseases such as diabetes1 , coronary heart disease2 and stroke2.

We’re both based in francophone countries, and are all too familiar with the changing Mediterranean diet. Traditionally, the culture has encouraged small portion sizes and time dedicated to eating — but these customs are disappearing, thanks to a faster lifestyle and the convenience of processed foods and beverages.

How can we encourage ourselves and other busy researchers to eat good ‘brain food’, given that many of us frequently spend many hours away from home and kitchen? The strongest motivation, in our experience, is the reminder that eating a healthy and balanced diet can help body and mind to function optimally, leading to better research.

Wherever possible, we should choose food that helps to boost concentration, memory, learning capabilities3 and even the immune system4. For instance, consuming oily fish such as fresh tuna or mackerel regularly has been linked to improved cognitive aspects5, possibly owing to the presence of a large array of essential nutrients, including vitamin D and essential fatty acids. Together, we wrote our own evidence-based dietary ‘commandments’ to help us get through our daily tasks and keep our body and spirit going — whether in the laboratory or in front of our computer screens — and to help us feel more energetic and motivated at work.

• Find time to snack healthily. Take short food breaks to help keep your blood-sugar level reasonably high without surging. Eating a piece of fruit every three hours or so, for example, could prevent hunger and overconsumption of calories. And when you eat, relax. Try not to think about your research. If you routinely stand in the lab, sit down. If your role is more sedentary, get up and take a quick stroll — perhaps to see a colleague on the next floor.

• Put food on your agenda. Schedule regular mealtimes in your work diary — because if you don’t, someone else will fill the gap for you by inviting you to a meeting. Choose a slot that aligns with your ‘biological clock’ and changes in hormones such as insulin to optimize metabolic health, including microbiota diversity and composition. In other words, follow your gut and eat at times of the day when you feel that your body needs it, but generally try to avoid taking lunch too late in the afternoon. Eating earlier in the day can improve your energy balance, weight regulation, glycemic control and sleep satisfaction6. Your brain consumes about 20% of the total energy used by your body, so maintaining consistent energy levels is important for optimal functioning. Use the time you’ve booked. Focus on what you eat and take your time. Do not grab a sandwich and munch it down in front of a screen. Your body deserves a rest.

• Enjoy your food. Transform your meal break into a pleasant event by sharing it with colleagues. Propose that everyone take turns preparing a dish from their home country or area so that you can all enjoy the cuisines of different cultures. Eating in a group and discussing the day’s events can help you to relax, to laugh and to share useful information and experiences.

• Plan your meals. If you are feeling particularly hungry, your eyes and hypothalamus (a small region in the brain that controls many bodily functions including hunger and thirst) will not help you to make healthy food choices; instead, they will prompt you to go for sugary, salty, or fatty options. Try to organize your meals in advance. Increase your intake of low-calorie items, such as soups, salads, vegetables and minimally processed foods that are rich in dietary fibre. Among these are wholegrains, cereals, fruits, pulses, whole rice and wholemeal pasta. These foods are also rich in micronutrients and antioxidants such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins and healthy lipids — especially unsaturated omega-3 ones — that can help to prevent chronic disease. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine — all important for good brain function, mood and emotional regulation — require food-derived precursors, as well as vitamins and minerals, to be synthesized7.

• Diversify your diet. Stimulate your appetite by altering your food choices, preferably by incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your diet and reducing consumption of red meat and meat products. Each new day merits a new meal experience. But this doesn’t mean being a fully fledged connoisseur: overthinking what you eat will lead to compromises with your time and will make further compromises in what you eat more tempting. A saying from the Japanese Okinawa islands, where people have one of the lowest rates of chronic diseases in the world, and where many centenarians live, points the way: “Eat until you are 80% full”8. In practice, this means you should eat slowly and avoid ‘stuffing’ yourself.

• Avoid the insulin roller coaster. As well as contributing to chronic disease, excessive sugar intake might harm cognitive performance9. Sugared drinks, such as sodas, smoothies and even fruit juices, have a very low satiety value. After the sugar surge, glucagon — a hormone produced when sugar levels are low — as well as ghrelin, an appetitive hormone, and others kick back in and you’ll be hypoglycaemic and feel hungry again. Artificially sweetened beverages might not work much better—there is scientific debate about their perceived health benefits, because they might stimulate appetite centrally in the hypothalamus, rather than by modulating insulin levels10. Go for water, coffee, teas (including fruit teas), low-fat milk — or, if you’re desperate for sugar, a homemade fruit juice.

• Drink loads of water. Working inside, where the air is often dry (owing to heating in winter and artificial cooling in summer) can hasten water loss through respiration. Two liters a day of fluid intake is recommended by many health agencies. Pay attention to signs of dehydration. Drinking plenty will increase your blood volume and brain tissue fluid and thus boost your circulation and concentration levels. You will also become more tolerant of heat and cold — which is helpful when working in warm offices and cooled labs. Water is the essential carrier for all life functions in your body. It can also increase daily energy expenditure and feelings of satiety. Drinking water half an hour before your meal is an especially good option because it improves satiety11.

• Use healthy leftovers. Pre-packaged sandwiches and processed foods often have high quantities of fat, sugar, salt and additives that trigger the brain’s dopamine reward system, among other neuronal systems, inducing compulsive eating behavior12. If you have time, prepare a healthy dish from scratch at home, perhaps making more than is needed for an evening meal and using leftovers for lunch the following day. Among homemade foods, well-balanced traditional dishes can improve your performance and health: for instance, the classic Mediterranean diet has long been linked with improved cognitive function and a decreased likelihood of both cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease3. A Tupperware lunch made with leftovers from even the most indulgent dinner could often make a healthier lunch than a standard pre-packaged sandwich.

• Scrap the salt. Excessive use of salt is among the major killers worldwide, leading to increased blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Some salt is essential to the taste of most foods, as well as for life, however, so don’t attempt to cut it out of your diet entirely. Try pepper, curcuma, nutmeg or other spices to add flavour. Some spices, including curcuma and pepper, also help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and can even decrease total mortality rates13.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Expert’s nutrition tips for runners

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Running is a very popular sport, thanks to its simplicity and many health and fitness benefits. It’s versatile and inexpensive, requires very little equipment, and it’s an excellent way to strengthen your cardiovascular health.

Nutrition plays an important part in optimum running performance. pexels

With the competitive nature of the sport, runners continuously challenge themselves and each other to improve. In addition to training, proper fuel for the body is vital for peak sports performance.

Noted medical and nutrition specialist Dr. Korakod Panich provided the five best nutrients for optimal running performance.

Nutrition is important for runners because it plays a vital role in overall health and can also support performance. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these five key nutrients:

1. Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates—which can be found in food such as fruits, dairy products, and starches such as rice, bread, and pasta—are the most important source of energy for the body.

For runners, a small meal, taken an hour before running, consisting of carbohydrates and a bit of protein can provide the energy needed to run effectively. A smoothie made with milk and fruit, or some yogurt topped with berries, provides the nutrients needed and is easily digested before a workout.

Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before exercising can help you maximize your workout.

2. Protein
Protein—found in meat, milk, eggs, and soy—helps repair and rebuild tissues and muscles that could be affected during physical activities. With the proper amount of protein and adequate sleep, muscles repair, rebuild, and become stronger.

Soy is a good protein source as it is one of the few complete plant-based proteins containing all of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Runners should consume a combination of carbs and protein 30 to 45 minutes after exercising.

Carb to protein ratio should be 2-3:1, with 20 grams of high-quality protein after a workout and between 40 and 60 grams of carbohydrate. A sandwich on whole-grain bread with a piece of fruit or a high-protein recovery shake would fill the bill.

3.Fat
Fat serves as an essential energy source. It is often used as fuel, particularly during moderate-intensity exercise that lasts for an extended period, such as a moderate jog lasting at least 30 minutes or so. The body will utilize more fat than carbohydrate for fuel in an attempt to conserve carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscles.

Choose beneficial fats—such as those found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts—and avoid saturated fats¬¬that can raise the risk of heart disease. This means staying away from fatty red meats, and ultra-processed foods, such as fast food or bakery items.

4. Vitamins and minerals
There are different kinds of vitamins and minerals that help maintain the balance in body system functions; fruits and vegetables are the best sources to obtain them. During exercise, the body excretes waste in the form of sweat, which also removes important minerals from the body. If you opt to exercise for more than one hour, energy and mineral drinks are highly recommended to replace lost fluids and minerals.

5.Water
The human body is made up of 70 percent water, which is why staying hydrated is crucial. Water helps deliver nutrients to the cells and plays a significant role in eliminating waste. Runners need to maintain body water balance before, during, and after workouts because water provides nourishment that the body needs for almost every single function. It also helps limit changes in body temperature.

Make sure not to lose more than two percent of your body weight in fluids during exercise, as it can reduce your strength and affect performance. If you exercise regularly, check your weight before and after a workout to keep track of water loss and be sure to replace those losses. For every pound of weight lost during exercise, replace with 2-3 cups of fluid (or 1 liter of fluid for every kilogram lost during exercise).

Nutrition and running style

Aside from understanding the importance of nutrients, it is also essential for new runners to learn the proper way to run. Running not just makes our bodies stronger; it also helps burn calories and fat, depending on the goal.

If you have little time and would like to burn calories and fat, you can do interval training, which alternates short work intervals (80-90 percent of maximum heart rate for 30-60 seconds) with rest periods (50 percent of maximum heart rate for 1-2 minutes). This helps improve circulation and enable the heart to pump blood and make it healthier while strengthening the muscles.

If your main aim is to burn fat, and you have some time, you can run slowly to raise your heart rate to 40-60 percent of your maximum, for at least 45-60 minutes.

Korakod Panich is a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Weekly Spotlight: Make the Perfect Spring Vegan Pasta Salad!

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Pasta salad is a wonderful spring meal, plus it’s a wonderful plant-based meal that can easily be veganized! It’s a meal that you can add any veggie that you want to, making it super versatile for this time of year. When spring produces like arugula, garlic and some herbs are hitting their peak season, you might have extra veggies on hand or are looking for a way to clear out some veggies from your fridge. Pasta salad is also easy to whip up, and you can either do a simple dressing or a more involved creamy dressing to top it.

Depending on your time and how you want to enjoy your pasta salad, this guide splits pasta salad recipes depending on their sauce base. The simple oil and garlic type dressings are lighter in flavor, allowing whatever you hand (veggies or herbs) to stand out in your final pasta salad. However, if you’re looking for a creamier and more hands-on homemade dressing, we’ve got you covered too! These are topped with a dressing that uses a base of tahini, tofu, or even hemp seeds to create a delicious creamy dressing. The last group focuses on taking a traditional pasta salad adding a twist, like a clever flavor or mixing up the base grain!

We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster app — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Weekly Meal Plan Archives!

Are you ready to have a week full of delicious, high-protein, whole-food vegan food that leaves you nourished and content? Let’s get started!

This week, we’re bringing delicious pasta salad recipes that are fully vegan and plant-based!

Pasta Salads that Use a Mayo, Sour Cream, or Simple Oil Dressing:

Vegan Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

Source: Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

These quick pasta salads are great to throw together for the week! Their light dressing makes it excellent to eat on its own to get a variety of simple flavors and enjoy the fresher crunch of the veggies in these dishes.

Pasta Salads that Use a Tofu, Tahini, Homemade, or Cashew Based Dressing

Vegan Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

Source: Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

These creamy pasta salads are excellent to enjoy on their own, or if you’re looking to add even more veggies, you could enjoy these over a base of greens for an extra crunch of texture! There are so many ways to make a creamy pasta salad with vegan ingredients; you could use cashews, tofu, tahini, or even hemp hearts to get a creamy sauce.

Pasta Salads that Are a Twist on a Classic Dish:

Vegan Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Source: Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Cacio e Pepe as a pasta salad? Using orzo instead of pasta? There are so many ways to change up the flavors and inspiration you use for your pasta salads. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy a new way of eating pasta salad, this is your list right here!

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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, good health other more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster app which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental other health benefits of a plant based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Food Therapist Debunks Myths About Veganism

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Veganism is a lifestyle that is based on the ideology that humans should not exploit animals or the environment for their needs. Vegans refrain from utilizing any kind of animal products for food, clothing, or work, among other things, and they do not differentiate between any species as they consider all animals equal. Simply put, veganism is the practice of avoiding the use of any animal products—particularly in our diet—including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Myths about veganism

Additionally, there are countless myths, misconceptions, and assumptions about being vegan from all corners. We got Nidhi Nahata—Founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bangalore, and food therapist—to debunk a few common floating speculations.

1. Milk has a lot of calcium

Credit: iStock

There is an existing misconception that only cow milk contains calcium. So, what is the optimal source of calcium? Like plenty of other nutrients, calcium is readily available in a variety of plant-based foods that are better absorbed by the body than dairy. Think broccoli, cabbage, kale, almonds, chia, beans, pulses, leafy vegetables, and more. Therefore, even if you are not vegan, having a wide range of calcium sources in your diet can be a healthier option.

2. Animal protein is more important than plant protein

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Incidentally, the animals that are consumed for so-called protein are fed on a plant based diet, which basically means that we are consuming the same and/or processed protein through dead tissues or extracted produce from an animal. For those on the lookout for plant-based protein sources, there are plenty of options like soya, lentils, pulses, broccoli, seaweed, peas, spinach, beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, peanuts, cashews, almonds , pistachios, walnuts, oats, and seitan tofu.

3. Vegans have B12 deficiency

Vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians—all could have deficiency because of vitamin B12, which is a bacteria found in nature. The sources of vitamin B12 are commonly questioned in reference to being vegan, since the most common source is assumed to be animals and animal products. But the reality is that vegans can achieve the intake needed through reliable sources, such as supplements or fortified foods.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Vitamin B12 is produced by certain microorganisms and is processed while consuming cobalt from a plant base. However, our modern day agriculture prevents these nutrients to be transferred into our bodies through either sources-–animals or plants. Therefore, vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians need to normally be given cobalt or B12 supplements to attain suitable levels regardless of their dietary preference.

4. Vegan lifestyle is very expensive

food item
Credit: iStock

The limited accessibility to vegan food and alternatives is one of the biggest restrictive misconnects prevalent in our society. The reality is that, similar to any diet, plant-based eating is only expensive if there are a lot of quick-to-eat processed foods, readymade meal preps, and products from vegan-specific brands. There are plenty of vegan foods and ingredients that are affordable in India, especially if the diet is centered around cheaper foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, beans, and several others. Good planning can make vegan diet more affordable than the ones that include animal products.

5. Pregnant women need milk and dairy

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

“You cannot be vegan when pregnant” is a common misconception for soon-to-be vegan parents. The basic fact is that pregnancy is a challenge for the body, no matter what diet you are on and usually requires additional nutrients. It is advised to be closer to iron and vitamin B12, which can be attained on a vegan diet as well. The tradition of milk being one of the most integral components of our diet has been prevalent for decades. We need to be mindful and bring logical reasoning in choosing food for soon-to-be parents as well as children.

6. Soy increases the chances of breast cancer

  7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

There is no convincing evidence that eating soy-based food increases the risk of breast cancer in humans. This misunderstanding, however, might arise from earlier studies conducted on rodents. Scientists of this study showed that when these animals received large amounts of soy-compounds called flavones, they showed likelihood to develop breast cancer.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

A study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, in February 2020, searched associations between soy intake and breast cancer risk by following 52,795 cancer-free women in the US for an average of 7.9 years. In the results, they found no substantial association between soy intake and breast cancer, but they did identify a link between dairy (milk) and breast cancer.

Soy as an ingredient is loaded with fiber and is a good source of protein, omega 3, and antioxidants. Research also suggests that soy has a good amount of protein which is well absorbed by the body, and the best way to consume it is in bean form, tofu, tempeh, and other such forms.

7. Veganism is a cult

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Being compassionate and conscious can never be a cult. Veganism is a lifestyle that utilizes an ideology to bring people closer to their instincts. This means bringing us closer to eating what nature has designed and grown for us, rather than exploiting animals and other sentient beings.

Lead Image Credit: Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam Dhar, Instagram

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