women's health

Things you may not know about women’s health

There are several factors that affect women’s health. 

Women have to face challenges and changes throughout their lives, and that includes their bodies. Just like everyone else, their habits have a big role to play for them to live a long and quality life. Healthcare should be one of their priorities, and it covers both proper nutrition and exercise. 

The varying changes women have to go through lead to different health concerns depending on their age group. Time and again, we have seen women take care of other people first before their own. However, when they put wellness on top of their needs, they put themselves in a better position of nurturing others. 

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute lists down the things you should know about women’s health.  We’ll cover some facts and other unique features that women should know about their bodies. 

Women’s health facts

What are some women’s health facts that are crucial in their fitness and wellness? These are some of the considerations and conditions that are unique to females: 

1. Unique risk factors

This is not to say that women are absolutely different from men, but they are unique as far as health risks are concerned. 

women's health

For instance, women are more likely to have diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, eye diseases, pain sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, and even mood disorders than men. These are just some of the conditions that may be true for most women. Reproductive issues are also common to females than the opposite sex.  

In America, heart attack is the top killer of women (since 1984). Reports also say that 55,000 more women suffer from stroke than men. Studies suggest that women’s estrogen has something to do with the case of stroke. On top of these, almost 80% of Americans who have osteoporosis are female. These researches show the unique risk factors of women when it comes to health issues. 

2. Alcohol has more effect on women

Do women get drunk faster than men? 

women's health

Women process alcohol differently than men, and this is why they get intoxicated faster. There are also physiological explanations as to why they feel the effect of alcohol more. 

One of the reasons why women easily get intoxicated with alcohol is because they have less water in the body. They only have 52%, as compared to 61% for men. This shows that the latter can dilute alcohol faster. 

Another reason is that women have a higher body fat percentage than men. Alcohol doesn’t dissolve well in fat, which is why it becomes concentrated in a woman’s body.  

3. Special healthcare needs

Women have special healthcare needs and it is necessary to give them attention for preventive care and screenings. Among these are screening services for gynaecology, bone density, pap smear, breast cancer, immunizations, cancer, and many more.

Like children, the health of women differs from men. Many times, research focuses more on men as subjects while sidelining women. Women’s respective circumstances including environmental, clinical, social, legal, and biological are diverse. These affect their health too, which have a domino effect on others too.

4. Societal factors

External factors such as body image issues among women sometimes influence risk factors causing more health concerns than men. The lack of women doctors and leaders who can bridge knowledge gaps in providing excellent clinical care concerning women may lessen discrimination.

In some cases, gender bias in healthcare affects how doctors treat women’s illnesses. Some symptoms aren’t easily recognizable for women as compared to their male counterparts. For example, having a fast heartbeat or feeling unusually tired aren’t immediately considered as signs of a possible heart attack. These are often dismissed as women being emotional or “weak” compared to men’s response to physical activities. 

women's health

Stress and smoking can be more detrimental to women even if both genders are known to succumb to them. Interestingly, cardiac problems, which are more common in men, is one of the leading causes of death for women as mentioned above. Socialized differences, therefore, play a role in the prevalence of certain risks for women.

5. Certain cancers, especially for women, can be treated if caught early 

When women turn 21, it is highly advisable to screen for cervical cancer. This is the reason why doctors encourage women to receive mammograms and take PAP smear examinations as early as possible. Both breast and cervical cancer are common cancers causing death among women. 

Early prevention is better than cure.

Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch philosopher

Moreover, women who reach 50 should also start having colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. Early detection of any benign polyps can greatly improve women’s health, for instance. These polyps can be removed more easily at this age and reduce their likelihood of becoming cancerous.

6. Vaginal conditions 

Did you know that bacterial vaginosis (BV) can lead to STD and HIV? Any woman, sexually active or not, may get this vaginal condition commonly between ages 15-44. However, BV can be prevented and may go away even without further treatment. Still, women should get checked especially when they suspect any imbalance of bacteria in the vagina.

7. Depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. Regardless of gender, age, or race, people can get hit by them even without realizing it right away. Unfortunately, women are led to believe that hormonal changes cause depression.

women's health

Again, depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. Personal life circumstances, environmental factors, inherited traits, among others do not discriminate against any gender.

For women, however, there are other factors that men can’t relate to contributing to these conditions. Some of which are in this list:

  • Premenstrual problems
  • Identity issues and sexuality development during puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Menopause

8. Life circumstances and culture

Throughout history, men are often given higher importance and preference in different parts of the world. Hence, many women are generally less rich, less educated, and have lower self-esteem and self-confidence. Although this has changed over the years, misogyny still somehow affects women’s health.

To this day, there are some women with feelings of negativity due to life and cultural stressors. Other women are still overworked more than men, even juggling roles professionally and domestically as a mother, single parent, or being the eldest daughter.

There are also traumatic instances women have to endure due to emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse (more common in women than in men). Many of these often lead to eating disorders, anxiety attacks, and drug or alcohol misuse as they grow older.

9. Maternal health

Generally speaking, childbirth and pregnancy are unique to women. Despite many advances in medicine and technology, however, many women still suffer from complications. The physical, hormonal, and biological changes in a woman’s body are all crucial to the development of the child until the mother gives birth. In fact, even after childbirth, the mother plays a huge role in the baby’s growth and overall health. 

women's health

Hence, proper nutrition and physical activities are important for both the mother and child for many stages in both their lives. Additionally, certain psychological and behavioral changes manifest in women before, during, and after pregnancy affecting women’s health.

10. Retirement years for women 

Getting older can be more challenging for women than in men. In this article, research showed women have lesser pensions and benefits compared to men. Their security and economic independence decreases as they age.

women's health

The ripple effect of this disadvantage stems from women’s inability to get higher income from an early age that can support their standard of living. Hence, even as women generally live longer than men, their retirement years aren’t as financially abundant as men, which limits their access to healthcare.

We’ve come a long way but there’s more to learn

We have to admit that women still face a lot of health concerns that many medical professionals care to talk about. The World Health Organization (WHO) even lists a compilation of the top issues concerning women’s health that needs to be addressed. 

Let us not forget to include mental health in this narrative. As WHO describes above, there are “physical symptoms that cannot be explained medically.” Discussions and developments on mental health are just as part of women’s health that the global healthcare system can improve on. In understanding and getting better at treating female patients around the world, we can all apply this knowledge to help provide the younger generation of girls with a good quality of life.


References:
https://www.mana.md/womens-health-and-fitness/
https://tespovitamins.com/10-things-know-womens-health/
https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/8facts-womens-health/index.html
https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2012/March/Top-5-Womens-Health/
https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/womens-health-facts-1212

 

waking up early

Top 10 Benefits of Waking up Early

Waking up early in the morning is not the easiest thing to do.

If you’re one of those night owls who can’t get up in the morning without setting the alarm clock to snooze a couple of times, there’s a serious habit formation to do in order to change your lifestyle, and it’s possible.

Lots of successful people, from doctors to athletes, credit their productivity to waking up early. It isn’t a surprise. When you’re up, you allow your body to reach its maximum wakefulness without depending on a shot of caffeine. 

Everyone struggles to wake up at an early alarm. Getting out of the bed may seem like a drag, especially when it is for work or school.. However, when you’re decided to make a new sleeping and waking routine, it is achievable. It’s going to contribute to your overall energy levels and mental health, and there are studies that support these claims.

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute talks about the benefits of waking up early. If you’re looking for reasons to start your day earlier than usual, this one’s for you! 

Facts about waking up early

Early risers are commonly the problem-solvers of most organizations, businesses, and groups. 

What does a morning person look like? Is it true that you are more productive when you wake up early? Night owls would say otherwise, but there’s science that backs up the benefits of waking up early, specifically in a person’s mental health. 

Every person has a sleep chronotype which is a personality breakdown of when one goes to bed and wakes up as regulated by their genetics. The circadian system controls the timing and duration of one’s sleep, and it has a normal distribution in the entire population. Chronotypes are responsible for the variation of sleep timing and duration and genetics dictate them.

What you must understand about your chronotype is that it isn’t merely the time you go and get up from bed. It also refers to the time when you function at your optimal best – and most people would say they do during the earlier part of the day. 

A quick look at circadian rhythms

Every living thing’s internal clock adapts to the 24 hours rotational schedule of the Earth. It is the internal circadian rhythmicity that gives the body the ability to predict what’s happening in the environment, including the sun rise and set. It can also anticipate the most appropriate time to eat, sleep, wake, and move.

waking up early
Image source: https://www.news-medical.net/health/Circadian-Rhythm.aspx

The cue for circadian rhythms to work is light. Did you know that your eyes signal your brain to produce more melatonin whenever the sun goes down? This hormone (melatonin) makes your eyes droop when you’re feeling sleepy. This is when your body is essentially shutting down as the daylight fades while you stay awake when the sun rises again.

With all these said, waking up early is good for you because your melatonin levels are normal when you follow the usual sleep-wake cycle. You’ll feel more productive by day and get restful sleep at night.

However, there are non-traditional jobs these days where some people work at night. Typically, this happens in order to follow another region’s time zone. In these cases, some offices may recreate daylight inside. But, graveyard shifts may still generally lead to sleep disorders and insomnia for some. Hence, most doctors still recommend having a usual 9 to 5 as much as possible as this is generally much better for optimal health.

Benefits of waking up early

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Benjamin Franklin

Early mornings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But, if you’re already feeling restless at night, it might be a good time to consider being more active during the day. One of the best ways to do this is by waking up early. Here are the benefits and advantages of being an early riser:

1. More time

Imagine waking up one hour earlier than your usual schedule. This may translate to around an extra 15 days that you can use for many activities in a year. 

You can decide to dedicate the extra hours for work, family or me time. If you live with others, it may serve as the off your soul needs to recharge. It can also be an opportunity to chill and relax, especially when you are always loaded with work and other commitments.

2. Easy commute

Commuting from one place to another may be time-consuming when you have to do it regularly. Good thing, waking up early allows you to beat the constant traffic that may affect your productivity. It will spare you from dealing with people who are trying to beat the rush hour.

Avoiding traffic saves you energy, time, and money. It will also protect your overall well-being as studies imply that sitting in traffic on a regular basis leads to depression, stress, rage, aggression and even respiratory issues.

3. Quiet hour / morning quiet time
waking up early

There are people who get anxious when the surroundings are loud and busy. If you are one of them, wake up early and indulge in peace and quiet. Majority of individuals are surely asleep. You have time to jump in deep thoughts without your phone buzzing, notifications ringing, colleagues working, and so on. 

4. More optimistic

Waking up early gives you the power to take charge of your life and make things happen.

Different studies claim that morning people are more optimistic, agreeable, satisfied and conscientious. Christopher Randler facilitated a study on 367 university students and discovered that early risers are more energetic and proactive. They are in the mind-set to achieve long-term and short-term goals. 

5. More time for morning workout to boost mood and fitness

Setting a consistent waking time will also boost your mood and fitness. 

When you’re up early, you can use the extra hours to exercise regularly. It’s the adrenaline boost that you can utilize to your advantage, most especially when you want to overcome that inevitable sleepy feeling. You surely won’t miss another leg or upper body day. 

Exercise, in return, will improve the quality and amount of your sleep. It will allow you to go on a deep sleep which boosts the immune system, strengthens cardiac health, and reduces stress and anxiety.

6. Better sleep quality – restorative sleep is crucial for physical health

Sleeping and waking up early would be easy in an ideal world, but in reality, it’s challenging.

However, when you consciously exert an effort waking up early everyday, you subject yourself to quality sleep that puts your body to enough rest. 

Early risers tend to get quality sleep because you exhaust your body in the morning, which allows you to doze off the moment you lie on your bed. This is when you get used to your natural circadian rhythm which allows you to sleep and get up early effortlessly.

7. Better planning, productivity, and organization

If you always find yourself wishing there are more hours in the day so you can get some tasks done, waking up early is easily the answer. Waking up early can improve your cognitive function, thereby allowing you to be in a much better position to be successful and achieve more.

You can start by setting your alarm clock two hours earlier than your usual time. There’s a large amount of research suggesting that people are biologically more alert in the morning. This may vary but if you feel like you have a better cognitive response in the day, listen to your body.

8. More Energy
waking up early

Since early birds are most likely to achieve quality sleep, they tend to rest well, which results in more energy throughout the day. Night owls may feel otherwise because they are not able to complete the needed sleep stages for them to recharge.

The theory that sleep gives and restores more energy has led to the research of two chemicals – adenosine and glycogen. Adenosine accumulates when you are awake to promote sleepiness, while glycogen stores energy in the brain which decreases as you stay awake.

The looping of chemicals which are said to be involved in the process are responsible for the whole sleep-wake cycle which is also called sleep homeostasis. 

9. More proactive

Biologist from Harvard Christoph Randler discovered in a study that early risers are naturally more proactive. Take it from the leading entrepreneurs all over the world! These are the people who can handle problems optimistically with efficiency which always lead them to success, especially in business. 

When you have a proactive mindset, you are more productive. You initiate in overcoming challenges, and you just don’t wait on the sidelines asking someone for instructions. You anticipate needs, you’re curious, and you are confident that you can solve whatever comes your way. These are the perks of waking up early.

10. Anticipate and minimize problems

Since early risers have the energy, it’s understood how they can be problem solvers. It’s easier for them to have a positive outlook in life, as they are more organized and methodical. Whenever a problem arises, they don’t worry. Instead, they face complications with a clear head.

No wonder, early risers are the usual problem-solvers who are in-charge of organizations, groups, work, or even nations. Winning in the morning is winning the whole day for them. 

Advantages of waking up early

  • Uninterrupted time to work. As an early riser, you’ll have more time to focus on your work while others haven’t started their day just yet. There’s little to no distraction, which will also double your productivity. 

    Even Aristotle said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” When you go to work early, you wouldn’t have to deal with others and not be able to start right away. Get your job done with an unbelievable rate and speed and take advantage of your peak performance by waking up early. 

  • Reduce stress. Waking up early, even before your day begins, gives you extra hours for yourself to unwind and unload. You can use it to meditate, prepare, read the news, drink your coffee, and feel things. Including any of these in your routine reduces your stress so you are fully-charged for the day.

    Preparation is the underrated antidote of stress. After all, everyday stress is usually related to being late, and rushing on an errand. So, get up early and allow yourself to have enough time for peace and quiet. Enjoy more time to accomplish the tasks necessary without pressure. This will in turn give you satisfaction and make you feel happy and content. 

Successful people who are early risers

  1. Tim Cook, Apple
    (photo credit: Business Insider)
  2. Michelle Obama, FLOTUS
    (photo credit: HarpersBazaar.com)
  3. Richard Branson, Virgin Group
    (photo credit: Medium.com)
  4. Tim Gunn, Project Runway
    (photo credit: Forbes.com)
  5. Bob Iger, Disney
    (photo credit: CNBC.com)

Tips for getting up early

Forming a new habit requires 18 to 254 days to happen based on a study from the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009. The research also reveals that you’ll need 66 days to make a new behavior automatic. This means you have to start now if you are determined to be an early riser, and stick to it for the days to come. 

waking up early

Place your alarm clock far from your bed

Don’t torture yourself. Avoid using an alarm that gives you anxiety, and don’t place it above your head as well. If you put it away from you, there’s a bigger chance that you’ll wake up when it rings, which makes it easier to shift your body clock. Don’t snooze, and stick to your schedule too!

Sleep early

Sleeping early means turning your lights off and minimizing your exposure so that you can doze off as fast as you can at night. You should follow a schedule when you wake up and sleep to train your body. If you can achieve seven to nine hours every night, that’s going to be helpful for your system. 

Gamify and reward yourself for waking up early

The author of The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, highlighted in an interview that rewards are crucial when adopting a new habit, such as sleeping early. The same is also advised even in exercising. When you train your brain to link an activity that requires discipline to a reward, it’s motivating to achieve it. 

Jumpstart your day

Jumpstart your day with a positive note and energy. You can have a morning dance party to get your blood pumping. Set a playlist featuring your favorite hits to release enough dopamine that lessens stress and makes you happy. 

Exercise

Regular exercise isn’t only good for your physique and diet, it will also knock you off to a good night’s sleep. Thus, shift your gym session in the morning. Experts recommend that you don’t workout before bedtime, as that might be counterproductive to your goal of being an early riser. 

Look up the sky and greet the sun rise

As mentioned above, for circadian rhythm to work, your body needs light. And the best source of light is the sun. Light exposure signals your brain to turn down production of melatonin. Hence, your melatonin levels help regulate and stabilize your sleeping and waking time. Plus, looking up at the sky is such a good habit to have in the morning, right? What a way to welcome a new day with a beautiful sunrise!

Why it’s better to wake up early

It may sound cliche at this point but indeed, there’s a reasonable explanation for the quote the early bird catches the worm. When you maximize the advantages of it, you are able to set the tone for a stress-free day. You won’t only be productive, but you’ll also reap the health benefits that your body will thank you for. 

Two of the core values of Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute are movement and science. Being an early riser has solid science in it while it also promotes physical activity or movement. Hence, waking up early is consistent with site’s values wherein this can help improve your quality of life and cognition function. 

If you work at night and sleep during the day, that’s okay. But if you’re like most people who’s more active in the morning, it would do you more good than bad to rise early. Ultimately, it depends on your lifestyle. If your current sleep and waking schedule works for you, that should be fine. Otherwise, it might be a good time to enjoy the benefits of seeing the sun rise!


Resources:
https://zenhabits.net/10-benefits-of-rising-early-and-how-to-do-it/
https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/benefits-of-waking-up-early https://www.neurotrackerx.com/post/8-health-benefits-to-being-an-early-riser
https://amerisleep.com/blog/how-to-wake-up-early-benefits-to-getting-up-early/ https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/benefits-of-waking-up-early#benefits

green tea

Top 10 Benefits of Green Tea

Look up the healthiest beverages on the planet and you are most likely to see green tea on the top of the  list.

For the last centuries, many people have praised the drink for its health properties that are beneficial for the body. Its effects on weight loss, digestion, skin, and preventing cardiovascular diseases are incredible. 

The International Institute of Sustainable Development reported that tea is next to the most consumed beverage in the world next to water. Culture and weight management both contribute to its popularity from the past 2000 years. The drink is also convenient to make. You just need to pour hot water on the tea leaves and you’re ready to go!

Green tea remains to be a soothing and revitalizing drink perfect for the cold season. Its aroma has a refreshing taste to it that it blends well with cakes, chocolates, and other types of sweets (in little amounts would be a great treat!). Generally, anyone with known stomach problems, anemia, iron deficiency, liver disease, and troubles sleeping should drink this tea moderately. Seek your doctor’s advice for the recommended tea intake specifically for you. Depending on the guidance from medical professionals, you can go for either the tea bags or the loose tea leaves.

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute shares the top benefits of this anti-inflammatory drink. Learn more how this natural drink can help improve your diet and overall health.

Is green tea good for you

green tea

This tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant from steaming and pan-frying its leaves. The leaves are then dried, not fermented, so it still keeps polyphenols intact. These molecules are responsible for the many health benefits you can get from drinking green tea. 

Overflowing with compounds that promote immune health, the US FDA even approved a topical ointment extracted from green tea leaves to treat genital warts. Also, if you regularly drink tea, it can help reduce risk of various diseases. Some of which are heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. 

Who should not drink green tea

Did you know that green tea contains caffeine? Hence, if you have anxiety disorders, this might not be good for you. Also, if you have bleeding disorders, the risk of bleeding increases due to the caffeine content. For those with heart conditions, it is not advisable to drink lots of this tea because it may cause irregularity in your heartbeat.

Generally, anyone with known stomach problems, anemia, iron deficiency, liver disease, and troubles sleeping should drink green tea moderately. Seek your doctor’s advice for the recommended intake specifically for you. Depending on the guidance from medical professionals, you can go for either the tea bags or the loose tea leaves.

Benefits of green tea

green tea
Image source: https://www.hausvoneden.com/food-travel/Drainage-tea-effective-herbal-cure-for-everyone/

If you haven’t heard yet, green tea is one of the superfoods that can boost your healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s also great for body detox and acts as an anti-inflammatory drink.

Here are the other health benefits of this popular drink: 

  1. Weight loss. EGCG helps prevent oxidative damage to your cells, consequently causing a rise in metabolism.
  2. Protects against cancer. EGCG also helps inhibit growth of tumor cells to reduce the risk of cancer.
  3. Supports brain health. Its active components help stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Reduces inflammation. EGCG suppresses inflammatory cytokines which helps lower cases of inflammation-related diseases.
  5. Helps prevent bone damage. The antioxidants in this tea can help protect the risk of fracture and support bone density.
  6. Fights bacteria, fungi, and virus to increase your immunity. Its antibacterial, antifungal, and antivirus effects of help boost your health immunity to fight against infection.
  7. Balances blood sugar. It helps improve lipid metabolism and balance your metabolic rate.
  8. Prevents diabetes. It can improve glucose metabolism, thus, preventing spikes in blood sugar. 
  9. Improves heart health. This drink helps prevent stroke and cardiovascular diseases, lower cholesterol levels, and speed up heart recovery.
  10. Defends skin from aging. Antioxidants found in this tea helps protect skin from wrinkles and harmful effects of free radicals causing aging. 

Other benefits:

  • Destroys harmful free radicals in fatty livers
  • Relaxes muscles to reduce severity of asthma
  • Kill food poisoning toxins and bacteria

Side effects of drinking green tea

Many of the side effects of this drink revolve around consumption of too much caffeine. For example, pregnant women aren’t encouraged to have green tea because it may cause birth defects, or worse, miscarriage

Too much of it can cause restlessness, loss of appetite, nausea, irritability, skin rash, dehydration, and heart palpitations. There are also risks in coronary heart disease, cholesterol elevation, hypertension, insulin sensitivity, etc. There’s a study that shows it could stop the effectiveness of certain medications for blood pressure and the heart.

Other side effects of drinking green tea include reducing iron absorption in your body, sleep interference, upset stomach, and headaches. 

What happens if you drink tea everyday

Green tea

There are other types of tea (black, oolong, and white) but there are more flavonoids in green tea. These are plant-based antioxidant chemicals which make green tea of higher quality than other kinds. This tea is the most beneficial because it is least oxidized when processed, too.

Drinking green tea everyday is ultimately dependent on your individual health needs. Different people have different personal health conditions so how much you consume also depends on what your body can tolerate. A cup of tea each day should be fine.

Like drinking too much coffee, too much tea can cause dental stains. Worse, it can discolor and eventually cause dental plaque. Thus, it’s important that you brush your teeth within 24 hours of drinking green tea.

Generally, though, the health benefits outweigh the risks and/or disadvantages. In another study, these benefits are summarized as follows: cancer prevention plus anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-arthritic, antioxidative, and neuroprotective effects. 

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute encourages you to only drink green tea in between meals, not on an empty stomach. It’s also incorrect to have it with your meal because it may affect your body’s response to iron absorption. As always, a healthy, balanced meal is key to proper nutrition.


Resources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/  
https://www.asweetpeachef.com/benefits-of-green-tea/
https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea
https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/life-sustaining-reasons-to-drink-green-tea.aspx
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269538


healthy snacks

Top 10 Low Fat Snacks

Do you find yourself munching on snacks through different times of the day?

Low fat snacks are great to help you feel full longer. Most nutrient-dense foods consumed as snacks also have fiber which slows down digestion. Hence, these mini-meals can leave you feeling satisfied longer and less hungry all the time. 

In planning what to eat, it’s important to learn how to listen to your hunger cues throughout the day. Remember that snacks can help you slowly transition from your last meal to the next. Thus, it shouldn’t be as heavy as either your actual lunch or dinner.

Read on to find out Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute’s list of top low-fat snacks. (Note that this might not be for keto dieters as they usually focus more on high fat, high protein food instead.)

The science behind snacking 

Snacking seldom gets mixed opinions and we understand where this is coming from.

Kallo, a Dutch organic food maker, conducted a survey and it revealed that women who snack at work gain 100,000 extra calories yearly. When you convert this, this is equivalent to almost 50 more days of additional food intake.  The extra 500 calories per day may not be a lot for some but this may contribute to weight gain. 

The truth is, snacking can be as healthy as your major meals for the day. After all, it provides the energy your body needs to function optimally. It also curbs your appetite so if you’re one who has the tendency to binge-eat, eating nuts or fresh fruits may do the trick.

However, the usual pitfall lies in the portion frequency of your snacks. This kind of meal still puts calories in your body. When you often eat ultra-processed snacks with excessive fats, sugar and salt, that is where the problem begins. 

People have different snacking habits. US market research reveals that the typical snack options are candy, popcorn ice cream, chips, cookies, soft drinks, tea, seeds, yoghurt, crackers and milk.  There is also a strong association between snacking and weight gain and maintenance, and lower or high diet quality. 

A word of caution on snacking

It is safe to say that the food you choose would determine whether snacking is good or bad for you. The quality and portion of the food you eat are essential and so in this blog, we are listing down the best options you should incorporate into your diet. Here are some of them:

Healthy snacks you can’t go wrong with

Whether you are at work, at home, in school, or outdoors, snacks come in handy. However, it’s easy to grab whatever is convenient in cases like this. Hence, it’s important that you fill your pantry with a healthy selection of treats that can help you feel satisfied.

1. Banana chocolate bites

26 calories per bite

banana chocolate bites snack

Banana chocolate bites, when taken in the right amount – bites as the name says,can be a healthy treat! This isn’t only pleasing to the tastebuds, but is nutritious as well. 

This is a low-calorie snack that you can munch for breakfast too. As a workout snack, it does wonders as well. As a matter of fact, bananas are the best for fitness experts and athletes who are watching their carb intake. 

2. Popcorn

106 calories per 1 oz (28.4 g)

popcorn snacks

Yes, popcorn is not only for the movies. It can be the perfect snack too. In fact, it is rich in dietary fiber that is low in calories. It serves more fiber than whole bread. No wonder many people don’t feel guilty bringing a giant bucket of this in the theater. But, homemade is different from the flavored ones you buy. Making your own is healthier. 

Generally, your popcorn is whole grain. Eating it is often associated with a lower risk of serious diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and other health problems. The Federal dietary guidelines suggest that half of the grains you eat should be whole.  

3. Protein bars

200 calories in a 50g bar

protein bars snack

How good are protein bars? 

Protein bars are a common source of nutrition, especially for bodybuilders. They are enjoyable and suitable for individuals with a busy lifestyle. 

There are many protein bars you’ll see on the market, so you have to be careful. They are not created equal. There are healthier versions. How would you know if you’re picking the right one for you?

The usual protein bar has 5 to 10 grams of fat, 5 to 10 grams of fiber, and 25 to 35 grams of carbohydrates as compiled by Healthline. Be mindful of protein bars with added sugar, or the brands that use unhealthy sweeteners. They add extra fructose which may only sabotage your diet. Choose the brand with whole food protein options. 

4. Nuts

170-200 calories (a handful, depending on the kind)

Nuts, when eaten in the right amount, can be very good for the heart. 

It is true that nuts are high in fat (except for chestnuts), but they are the right kind of fats that when taken in the right amount, can be an important contribution to your health, particularly to your heart. Including it in a balanced diet protects your cells from damage for it is rich in antioxidants.

Hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds are also efficient sources of fibre. If you need to regulate your digestion, having nuts for snacks would help you do just that. It comes with polyphenols that promote good bacteria in your gut. 

5. Dark chocolate

170-180 calories per ounce

Anybody with a sweet tooth should be fine including dark chocolate on their snacks. 

While not to be confused as a health food, dark chocolates are dense with nutrients that may have a positive impact on your health. They originate from the cacao tree which is one of the best sources of antioxidants.

There are studies supporting the effects of dark chocolate in improving a person’s overall health and lowering their risk of heart disease.

With the flavanols that this snack has, you stimulate the lining of the arteries, endothelium, which reduces blood pressure. 

When it comes to chocolates, the purest cocoa bean, the better. You wanna stay away from brands that have added sugar. Your portion size also matters! Bites should remain bites. When you eat more than the suggested serving, that’s when you gain extra sugar, fats and calories!

6. Kombucha gummies

11 calories per gummy

Image source: https://dearcrissy.com/

There’s enough research backing the effects of traditional, fermented foods in preserving the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In this kind of conversation, Kombucha is always a special mention, and that’s for a favorable reason.

As one of the fermented foods, kombucha is a low-sugar snack option. It’s cheap and it’s simple to make at home. There are also health food stores that offer an alternative with kombucha gummies. The calories would depend upon where you get yours, but roughly they are about 35 cal for each gummy. 

7. Hard-boiled egg

155 calories for every 100 grams

Another quick snack to make is hard-boiled eggs. 

Hard-boiled eggs are a popular source of high-quality protein. Two large eggs could provide you with at least 13 grams of the said macronutrient. If you are looking for a satisfying yet worthy snack to have on your regular menu.

The benefits of protein in the body are not a secret. First, the body digests them easily compared to carbohydrates. Thus, snacking on them will make you full. Second, they regulate blood sugar that keeps your energy level stable. Then, they have Vitamin D that may suffice for your vitamin D requirement on a daily basis. Lastly, they feature other important nutrients such as choline, zeaxanthin, and lutein.

8. Energy balls

200 calories for every bite

Energy balls feature a satiating mix of healthy fats, carbs and protein. They are also rich in fibre which would offer you at least 100 to 250 calories that vary based on ingredients used. 

If you want a go-to snack to match your busy lifestyle, energy balls are suitable for you as they are portable. You can munch them as a post-workout food as they are definitely guilt-free and nutritious! 

When eating an energy ball, you are unlikely to crave food which is great if you are losing weight. In the right amount, it could be enough to fuel you with energy that keeps you going for the day. The usual recipes are banana, pumpkin, and chia seeds. You can be as creative as you can for as long as you stay low-calorie. 

9. Dates

20 calories for an average size

Dates are convenient snacks and they are delicious and nutritious.

As a Morrocco native, dates used to be royalty that is eaten to fight off fatigue. They are common in warm climates across the globe and they can be an energy-boosting snack that is filled with vitamins and nutrients. Generally, they can contribute to your overall health when eaten in the proper amount. 

While it’s true that dates are full of natural sugar, they are not the kind that would do your health harm. In fact, they are excellent snacks provided that you eat them in moderation. This fruit is high in fibre and polyphenols. It can be a great alternative to empty-calorie sweets. 


10. Chia seeds

73 calories for every spoon

Chia seeds have emerged among Western diets for the last couple of years. They are so nutrient-dense that they have become a popular addition to healthy food choices.

Known as Mexican chia, or Salba chia, these edible seeds are ideal to include in your oats, drinks, pudding, smoothies, jam, protein bars – the list goes on. They are flexible and you can add them to any food that you like for a snack for some extra fibre. 

Though small, chia seeds can be your exceptional source of kaempferol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and quercetin. The antioxidants found in them can also fight off free radicals in the body. These free radicals are the reason for cell damage and oxidative stress. To lower the risk of health issues associated with them, chia seeds can help.

If your goal is to reach your daily allowance of fibre, you just need to have an ounce of chia seeds in your snacks. They efficiently absorb water and increase the satiation in your stomach, which will both cause you to eat less. No wonder they are common among people who are on a diet!

Watermelon

30 calories for every 100 gram

The World Health Organization recommends that you consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily (in five portions) with the exemption of sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other starchy foods. This makes watermelon an amazing part of your snack selection and your health will thank you for it as well!

There are so many creative ways to eat watermelon for a snack – you can mix it with greek yoghurt sprinkled with almonds, you can turn it into a smoothie, you can infuse it with cucumber, or just simply have it as is. You could never go wrong with it cold, fresh and raw. 

Since watermelon is 92% water, it will keep you hydrated. It can make you feel full without the extra calorie. This fruit comes with different kinds of nutrients like vitamins A and C, magnesium, and potassium. A cup can give you a boost of antioxidants, cucurbitacin E, and lycopene which are all effective in fighting off free radicals and optimizing heart health. 

Edamame

122 calories for 100 grams

Edamame is more than just a side dish. It goes with frozen and fresh varieties that can give color and texture to your snacks without the extra calories.  

As a young soybean, edamame is a plant-based food choice that is gluten-free and low in calories. It doesn’t have cholesterol, and it can be a source of calcium, iron and protein. You’ll conveniently find this in the frozen vegetable section of supermarkets. 

Vegans, or those weightlifters and bodybuilders, who seek a high-protein snack can add this to their diets, as a cup of this produces 18.5 grams of protein. Since it is a whole source, it gives amino acids for your body which can be supplementary to your animal protein that is still the top-tier source. 

Thus, when consuming edamame as a snack, steam and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. You can find it fresh, although the frozen alternative is the easiest to grab from the store! It’s simple to prepare, and it’s a fun bite! You’ll get a high-protein snack with a nutty flavor on the side which you can eat on its own, or add to your sushi or salad. 

Vegetable sticks and dips

158 calories may vary based on the serving

Dips can be quite a tricky inclusion in your diet because that’s when you accidentally sneak in some calories, but if you’ll be intentional and cautious, it can be a fun snack to have together with vegetable sticks!

Vegetable sticks and dips are quick to make. You only need about ten to 15 minutes to put everything together! If you’re still wondering if it’s healthy for you – you just have to select your vegetables wisely. Go for the low-fat vegetables or legumes. Those with reduced dairy components will be your friend. 

We hate to break it to you but full-fat cream cheese isn’t the type of dip that we would recommend here. Among the healthy choices are ranch greek yogurt, honey mustard, lemon-herb, peanut butter, garlic avocado, and hummus dip. In the end, portion matters. For as long as you don’t exceed, you’ll be fine. 

The veggies you can throw in are carrots, cucumber, zucchini, celery, edamame and chickpeas. You can be as creative as you can here!

Healthy low-calorie snacks for weight loss

We have established that snacking on the wrong food is what causes weight gain, but when it’s done in the right way, it can actually promote the opposite. There are researches that show how snacks can be nutritious most especially when they are rich in fibre and protein. 

Hence, if you’re in the middle of a weight loss journey and you want to improve on your diet, snacking can be your savior for it will help you make it from one meal to the other without binge-eating in between your heavy meals. 

Have a healthy supply of the following snacks to keep your energy at bay:

– Fresh fruit and nut butter

– Roasted kale chips

– Sweetcorn fritters

– Low-fat Greek yogurt

– Basil radish dip and cucumber

– Crackers with cheese or hummus

– Blueberries

– Pistachios

– Egg muffins

Debunking the image of snacking

Throughout the years, snacking has gained a bad reputation for derailing a diet. But, that only happens for individuals who are not mindful of what they eat – both in quality and quantity. 


Make sure your snack is as raw as it can. If by any chance this is not possible, review the Nutrition Facts label to have more insight on the calories that you take in your body. Consider the low-fat snacks we have listed for you here at Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute and make snacking fun and healthy!

healthier heart

Top 10 Tips for a Healthier Heart

One of the hardest working organs in your body that you may not even realize is your heart.

Throughout the day, the heart pumps blood and oxygen that your body needs to function well. It needs to be at 100% at all times. Thus, even the slightest change in blood pressure or your cholesterol levels could potentially be linked to your heart. When that happens, you might need to make some changes in your lifestyle and nutrition.

Before you even have to fully overhaul your diet and habits, it’s good to take care of this important muscle as early as now. With only a few, small adjustments in what you eat and the way you manage stress, it could drastically improve your overall health.

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute suggests ways on how you can take better care of your heart. Give these tips serious consideration especially if you’re already feeling symptoms of a weak heart.

How to keep your heart healthy

Whenever your doctors tell you to re-think your unhealthy choices in life, take that to heart (literally!). The food and drinks you tend to choose can be the culprit in causing artery buildup in your heart. In the long run, these tips can be beneficial to decrease the risks of heart failure. 

1. Give up vices, especially smoking
smoking bad for heart

Smoking is bad for your heart and lungs. According to the CDC, smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases. As a result, more than 800,000 people a year died due to cardiovascular diseases. Also, in the US alone, almost 8 million had a heart attack (2014 data, report) 7 million had a stroke.

When you’re exposed to tobacco smoke, plaque builds up in the narrow vessels in your blood. Hence, less blood can flow. Your heart loses oxygen when a clot forms in these narrow vessels around the artery of your heart. Therefore, this can cause a heart attack.

Needless to say, this means you should avoid secondhand smoke, too, as much as you possibly can. Even if you’ve been a long-time smoker, as soon as you quit smoking, you can see significant changes in your health. You can even lower the risk of further damage in your lungs and heart, as well as other bodily functions.

Limit your alcohol intake, too. If at all possible, only do so occasionally. Lastly, say no to drugs. A combination of these vices can really take its toll on your body. Taking prohibited drugs can lead to substance disorders, thereby causing adverse effects in your circulatory and cardiovascular systems. 

2. Eat more fiber

The benefits of a high-fiber diet are related to lower cholesterol levels. You can eat soluble fiber that helps lower the low-density lipoprotein which is responsible for “bad” cholesterol. Some good sources of fiber are oats, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products.

Avoid processed and refined foods because they are typically low in fiber. For men, the daily recommended fiber intake is 38g (age <50) and 30g (age >51). On the other hand, it is 25g (age <50) and 21g (age>51) for women.

3. Eat healthy fats. Cut down on saturated / trans fat

Good fats can be found in safflower, canola, and olive oils. “Bad” fats, however, can be found in saturated fats and trans fats. Cut down on butter, cheese, fatty meats, and partially hydrogenated oils in your meals.

healthy fats for the heart

4. Keep moving. Sit less. 

When offices were forced to shut down due to covid-19 safety protocols, you’re probably one of those who had to work from home. At this point, you should have invested in a workspace or a dedicated area in your place. But, this setup may have kept you glued into the computer all day. 

With that said, it’s easy to just take everything close to you and not stand at all. That’s a recipe for an extremely sedentary lifestyle. Hence, to counter that, even if you’re working from home, try not to sit for too long at extended periods of time. Get active, stretch, and get up every once in a while.

Move for the heart

5. Cut down on salt / sodium

Choose unprocessed and whole foods more than salty and sodium-rich alternatives. What really happens when you cut down on salt and sodium, you ask? It lowers your blood pressure because the amount of fluid in your blood decreases. Note that too much salt or sodium causes your body to hold extra water so that it can “wash” that salt away. That extra work inside your body puts a lot of stress on your heart.

less salt for the heart

According to the World Health Organization, the recommended salt intake for adults should only be less than 5 g or under 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Imagine the amount of salt you put in your food when you cook, right? Not to mention the salty snack foods, ready meals, instant noodles, and processed meats you consume.

6. Practice good dental hygiene

Are you hypertensive? Did you know that gum disease can interfere with hypertension medications? Hence, it’s more difficult to monitor and control blood pressure which is crucial for your heart health.

oral hygiene for the heart

Both cardiologists and dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day to improve oral health and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It’s a basic hygienic practice that could prevent heart valve infections linked to poor dental health.

7. Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly

Speaking of hypertension, high blood pressure is closely associated with high cholesterol. It is harder for the heart to pump blood when your arteries harden due to cholesterol plaque. Often, calcium also builds up in these arteries which results in abnormally high blood pressure levels.

hypertension

In this study, researchers found a positive association between heart rate, blood pressures, triglycerides, blood glucose and blood cholesterol. 

8. Manage your weight

Now, does weight affect your heart? Yes. Obesity elevates the risk of circulatory and heart diseases because fatty materials build up in your arteries. If you are overweight, you are at serious risk of developing health problems such as high blood pressure, certain cancers, and heart problems.

Although for some, other factors come in that contribute to either adding or gaining weight. These are family history and genetics, environment, habits, and metabolism. Regardless, a good indicator to measure whether you have healthy weight is your body mass index. You can reach out to your doctor if you have further questions.

9. Get enough sleep

Sleep, especially these days, is now becoming more of a luxury. But, it’s something that you shouldn’t be taking for granted. Sleep is an essential part of life because your body repairs itself as you rest. Having a good night’s sleep increases your energy levels during the day so you can function normally and at your best.

CDC’s recommended hours for sleep is at least 7 hours for adults. Anything less (or more) than that can be detrimental to your health, including your heart. If you have sleep apnea, for instance, this could be an indication of heart failure because the airway is blocked during sleep. This condition affects how much oxygen your body gets, thereby, can potentially lead to stroke and heart attack. 

sleep for the heart

Insomnia is another sleep condition where you’re either having difficulty staying or falling asleep. This lack of sleep and irregularity in your rest schedule can hurt your heart, block your blood vessels, and make you restless during the day.

In order to get better sleep, you have to train your body to stick to a regular schedule. Start by setting an alarm for when you’re supposed to be in bed in the evening and when you should wake up. It should be the same every single morning for the entire week.

During the day, try going out to get natural light or go for a walk under the sun. Lessen your screen time especially when you’re already lying down. Avoid eating or drinking before bed time and set up your room conducive for sleep. For example, use low, warm lights and keep it cool and quiet.

10. Hydrate more 
hydrate for the heart

Stay hydrated. Your heart can pump blood better when you are well-hydrated. In fact, those with heart problems are advised to have proper hydration to decrease strain in the heart. Drink 8 glasses of water each day and add some more especially when it’s a hotter, more humid day. Also, try to replace sugary and carbonated drinks you would normally drink with water.Not only is proper hydration good for your heart but also for your brain and overall health and wellness.

Dos and don’ts

To sum up, here are the do’s and don’ts to a healthy heart so you can easily remember:

  • Do
    • Exercise
    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet (good for the heart)
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Manage stress well
    • Have regular health checks
    • Sleep
  • Don’t
    • Eat too much sodium, salt
    • Smoke tobacco
    • Sit for hours, all day
    • Drink alcohol excessively
    • Skip meals and stay up late all night

How to take care of your heart naturally

As you take your fitness journey more seriously, you are inevitably adding extra care for your heart, too. Know that heart diseases are mostly preventable. By eating a heart-healthy diet, you are naturally making your heart strong and well. If you’re gaining some pounds especially when holidays are approaching, add physical activities in your life so you can lose those extra calories. 

If, however, you are on medication, don’t skip it. Get immediate care from health professionals who can help reverse heart diseases through cardiac rehabilitation, if possible. Make your heart a priority! A healthy heart is a happy heart! 

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/hearthealth.htm
https://www.bluebirdcare.co.uk/bristol/useful-information/19125/top-10-healthy-heart-tips
https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-heart-tips
https://www.caba.org.uk/help-and-guides/information/10-ways-keep-your-heart-healthy
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/mar/17/NHS1
https://www.who.int/philippines/news/feature-stories/detail/how-to-take-care-of-your-heart-health