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Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

In recent years, the popularity of coconut and particularly coconut oil has increased because of the number of health benefits it provides. Coconut oil helps blast away belly fat, curb appetite, strengthen the immune system, prevent heart disease, and stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have found that people who include coconut as part of their native diets (e.g., India, Philippines, Polynesia) have low rates of cardiovascular disease.

Manufacturers have replaced other oils with coconut oil in packaged products, and many households even use it for cooking. It features not only in fried food, but also in sweets, shampoos, coffee and smoothies.

Coconut oil content

It  is 100% fat out of which 80-90% of it is saturated fat. This gives it a firm texture at cold or room temperature. Coconut oil does not contain cholesterol, fiber, but only traces of vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols. Plant sterols have a chemical structure that mimics blood cholesterol, and helps to block the absorption of cholesterol in the body. However, the amount found in a few tablespoons of coconut oil is not enough to produce a beneficial effect.

Types -

Coconut oil is made by crushing fresh coconut meat or dried coconut meat called copra. Virgin coconut oil uses fresh meat, while refined coconut oil uses copra. Unlike olive oil, the terms “virgin” and “extra virgin” are not regulated with coconut oil. There is no difference in products labeled with these terms.

  • Virgin or Extra Virgin : If using a “dry” method, the fresh coconut meat of the coconut is dried quickly with a small amount of heat, and then pressed with a machine to remove the oil. If using a “wet” method, a machine presses fresh coconut meat to get milk and oil. The milk is separated from the oil by fermentation, enzymes and centrifuge machines. The resulting oil has a smoke point of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (F), which can be used for baking but it is not appropriate for very high heat such as deep-frying. You may also see the following terms on labels of coconut oil:
    • Expeller-pressed - A machine presses the oil from the coconut flesh, mostly with the use of steam or heat.
    • Cold-pressed - The oil is pressed without use of heat. The temperature remains below 120 degrees F and this is also believed to help retain more nutrients.
  • Refined: The copra is machine pressed to release the oil. The oil is then steamed or heated to deodorize the oil and bleached by filtering through clays which removes impurities and any remaining bacteria. Sometimes chemical solvents such as hexane may be used to extract oil from the copra. The resulting oil has a higher smoke point at about 400-450 degrees F, and is flavorless and odorless.
  • Partially Hydrogenated: The small amount of unsaturated fats in coconut oil is hydrogenated to extend shelf life and help maintain its solid texture in warm temperatures. This process makes trans fats, which should be avoided.

Store coconut oil in a cool dark location in a sealed container or in the refrigerator. The shelf life will differ, depending on the type of processing and how it is stored. Refined coconut oil generally lasts for a few months, whereas virgin coconut oil might last for 2-3 years if stored properly sheltered from heat and light. Signs of spoilage include mold, a yellow tint, or “off” odors or flavors.

Fun Facts

  • The Philippines is the biggest worldwide producer of coconut oil. Indonesia and India being next in line.
  •  The Philippines, European Union, United States, and India are the greatest consumers of coconut oil.
  • Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for skin and hair. Using a small amount, gently massage directly into skin. For dry or frizzy hair, apply a small amount to the hair shaft and leave in for desired time (a few minutes to overnight), and then wash out for great results.

Summer Diet

Summer Diet

It’s a natural trend to eat light during the summer, and you can easily do so without feeling deprived. People would prefer to in for a glass of cold fruit juice or ice cream instead of a hot soup.

Your interests shift from high calorie food of the winter to low calorie food. Although, for many, summer vacations mean family outings and picnics that are heavy on food. But there have been studied which have suggested that summer is the season when it’s easiest to eat healthy. It is that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. There is an abundance of fresh, delicious and healthy choices -  fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits.

Drink water

Instead of consuming more aerated drinks during the summer, choose to have water since it’s a much smarter choice. Water keeps the body cool and prevents dehydration. It also helps one avoid putting on unnecessary calories and flushes out unnecessary toxins from the body. Fresh lime juice and coconut water is also a great option, especially during the summer. It’s also a good option to carry a moisturizer and home made flavoured water in your bag and keep your skin and body hydrated throughout the day. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Summer is the season for a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and you should make the most of them. Include at least two servings of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. You can also make smoothies and milkshakes if you don’t want to eat the fruit as it is. Just put some fruits and milk into your blender and there you have a healthy and filling snack. Pan-roasted fresh vegetables and innovative salads are also a good option without being heavy on the tummy.

Curd and Yoghurt 

Add some form of curd or yoghurt in your meals. It is filled with several essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium, and magnesium. An advantage with yogurt is that it is light on the stomach and easier to digest over milk. Curd even has a moisturizing effect on your skin and it heals your dry skin naturally. Buttermilk is another great cooler which besides tasting great has several other health benefits. Having a glass of buttermilk or chaas just before stepping out into the sun, helps prevent dehydration as well. 

Proteins

Many people happen to reduce their protein intake during the warmer months of the year. Your body really doesn’t crave all of those meats in hot weather. However, you should not leave out proteins completely. It is an important part of your diet which should be included in some form. It also keeps your hair healthy, which tends to get dry in the summer. 

Salads 

Eating a lot of fresh salads during the summer months is a good idea because salads are easy to prepare and are healthy for your body. However, when having a lot of salads, you need to make sure that your other nutritional requirements are taken care of too. It’s essential to pay attention to the content of dressing and the quantity of it you use in your salads. A fresh dressing made from lemons and olive oil is going to be much healthier than a creamy, mayo dressing. 

Fresh Food

All the health benefits that you get from eating light summer food may get wasted if you eat stale food  which will make you fall sick. During summer, food gets spoilt very quickly. So, make sure that you’re more alert especially to the freshness of meats and seafoods.

Don’t skip meals

Many people cut down on meals to lose weight, but this is very unhealthy and might have adverse effects. Skipping meals will also slow down the metabolism which means the body burns fewer calories.

Some summer tips

  • Keep the leftovers in clean, closed containers.
  • Freeze the leftovers and use within 3-5 days.
  • Don’t risk eating stored cooked food.
  • Cook food, especially meat and poultry, at a high temperature because bacteria like E.coli, Salmonella and Listeria that cause diseases are killed only at high temperatures.
  • Do not leave food in an open environment since it could get attacked by harmful bacteria which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Avoid fried food with chemical additives, coffee, chocolate, colas and alcohol during the summer.
  • Always wash your hands with warm soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom.

Why Monday Workout Is Important

Why Monday Workout Is Important

There are no fitness rules. We all have very different goals, bodies, fitness levels, abilities, and likes and dislikes and all these things differ depending on the day, our mood, and whatever else is going on in our lives. So setting hard and fast rules usually doesn’t make a lot of sense. But there is one fitness rule you can set for yourself and stick to it - “Never miss a Monday”

Go for your workout every Monday morning or Monday night. It could be 75 minutes of circuit training, with jump rope breaks and a cooldown which involves an arm series with weights. To put it mildly, it should make you feel like you’ve worked hard.

There could be circumstances where you have to miss your Monday workout, but  willingly skipping it is a no - no. Here’s why you should swear by this rule -

Working out on Monday means you start your week feeling like you accomplished something.

Mondays can be a bit of a drag. Coming back to work after two days off is difficult and by the end of the day, you might be mentally drained and anxious going over your to-do list for the week ahead. No matter how tired you are, you should go for your workout class because after that, you will feel really proud of yourself for taking on and completing a challenge. There’s nothing more motivating than that sense of accomplishment you will get after finishing a tough workout. It will help you adopt a “can-do” attitude for the rest of the week.

 It will help you feel prepared to handle other challenges that come your way.

You may walk into your class/gym particularly feeling psyched /lazy about tackling it but when you finish, you will feel stronger than ever. You will leave the class with a better attitude because you know that if you can do this, after a long, tiring day, you can handle whatever the week throws at you.

If your week gets too busy, you may find comfort in knowing you got at least one solid workout in.

You should try really hard to schedule your workouts at the beginning of each week so that you  actually fit them into your schedule, but things happen. Work gets too busy, life gets in the way, a random opportunity comes up to do something cool and different and you end up saying yes. There are a lot of reasons to skip a workout and it’s not something you should feel guilty about or ashamed of doing. You should exercise your top form of self-care (besides sleep) - doing something that’s good for your health. When you have a really solid workout on a Monday, you know that even if you don’t make it to a gym the rest of the week, you did something for yourself. And as it’s rightly said, something is always better than nothing.

 After you work out once, you would usually want to do it more.

Your Monday workout will truly set the tone for your week ahead and will put you on track to do more workouts later. When you start the week feeling accomplished and positive, you would want to keep that going. By the middle of the week, you’ll probably be craving those feel-good vibes again. You will want to exercise and will actually try to make time for it. You may have a tough time motivating yourself for the first time midweek but once you’re deep into the daily grind and get it in before things get too hectic, you’re likely to keep it up and seek out opportunities to move despite your busy schedule.

Even when you’re really not in the mood to work hard on a Monday, you will end up thanking yourself throughout the week for sticking to your rule and making it a priority.

Lots of rules can feel limiting, but this could make you feel free. The best way to make following a rule effortless is to find the one you really will not want to break.

Tips for a Fit Summer Vacation

Tips for a Fit Summer Vacation

After putting in long work hours all winter and adjusting those extra bench presses in, it’s finally time to take a break and go on a summer vacation. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach or exploring a city, a time out from the normal routine can be a great thing. But at the same time it can also make it tough to stay fit with all those meals out and a few cocktails here and there doesn't exactly help either. All that fun means you may return home feeling a little less than refreshed. The good news is feeling healthy during and post-vacay is easily possible. Making just a few smart choices will keep you active and energized. It will help you get the most out of your vacay and look forward to the next one.

  • Sightseeing. Skip the bus tours and check out your surroundings the old-fashioned way by walking around to burn calories while taking in the views. There are a lot of cities that even offer running tours to let you explore while getting a workout in.
  • Use the stairs. Avoid using the elevator and sneak in some extra cardio. Lots of sightseeing attractions like churches and towers even your hotel, for example have stairs with architectural oddities, which also lets you kill two birds with one step.
  • Embrace your surroundings. If you’re at the beach, try doing the usual yoga routine on the sand instead of doing it indoors. A change in scenery might give you a boost to do your usual routine. Take a long walk by the beach or through a local park in the new city.
  • Be adventurous. Get out of the workout rut and use your vacation as an excuse to try new and fun activities. Whether it’s rock climbing, sailing or trapeze swinging, challenge yourself to try something different while you’re away.
  • Make use of the local specialty. Take advantage of what the area is known for or even plan your vacation around it! Take out a yoga mat in India/Bali, climb boulders in Colorado, learn tai chi moves in China, or woo potential suitors with flamenco moves in Spain. It’s a great way to learn about a different culture while also getting fit.
  • Make exercise your vacation. Another way to guarantee you keep moving while traveling register yourself for a race in a different city or go for a weekend fitness retreat.
  • Check out hotel amenities. Book a hotel with a gym or pool which will make it easy to squeeze in workout time. If the hotel doesn’t have the facilities, find out about a local gym local gym nearby.
  • Scope out the neighborhood. Book your accommodation near places where you can get your sweat on. In case you want to go for a run or get your mat out to do yoga.
  • Do it anywhere. Body weight exercises can be done anywhere and do not require any equipment. It’s up to you to get moving.
  • Stock food. Stock your fridge with healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, and nuts to avoid room service.

It’s a vacation so resist the urge to check work emails and focus on having a good time. It will keep your mind clear and allow you to relieve any stress. Free your mind. Meditate for a few minutes each day which help relieve anxiety. Get the most out of your time off. Doing activities that you enjoy, keep your cell phone off, and share time with friends and family or some alone time. Make the most out of your vacation. Enjoy yourself and take care of your health.

Hot Yoga (Bikrama)

Hot Yoga (Bikrama)

In between the hustle bustle of life we have limited time for working out, so when we do exercise, we want to get the most out of it. And even if we could log a couple hours a day at the gym, clearly that would take  our precious time away our binge-watching, happy hour-ing, and sleeping which makes some of us lazy. Finding the perfect and effective workout is, of course, the key to not wasting your time and getting your body in its best possible shape.

Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga,” continues to draw ardent supporters as well as harsh critics. Lets see what results hot yoga can provide us in 60 minutes by discussing the factors that matter most when you’re thinking whether or not to jump into the hot room.

The first thing you’ll notice, even before the class begins, is the extreme heat since bikram classes are usually set to 104 degrees. The heat isn’t there just for the added challenge and it actually does some good things to your body and face. Heat stimulates the fat receptors, activating fat stores which in turn facilitate fat loss and the release of fat-soluble toxins. Fat-soluble toxins are essential contributors to slower lymphatic drainage and skin ailments from dryness to blemishes. Getting these dangerous toxins out of the body helps in overall health but you see the results quickly through the largest organ of your body which is the skin.

Another interesting fact is that hot yoga makes your capillaries dilate in the heat resulting in increased blood flow. This allows your body to more effectively oxygenate and increases the metabolic process of important glands and organs, which assembles toxins for elimination.

Calorie Burn

The heat increases your body temperature which burns more calories than you would in a normal yoga class. The average person usually burns around 450 to 500 in a one hour session of hot yoga. That’s pretty good since there are about 500 calories in four slices of bacon, a fast food burger or two packs of Skittles.

Flexibility

The more you do yoga, your muscles, skin and connective tissue become more elastic which allows for greater flexibility with less chance of injury. In this way, hot yoga is a great supplemental workout for weight-lifting, and also a great activity to continue to do as you get older.

Limitation

Hot yoga can be a bit limiting. Yes, you do burn calories and transition your body through the standard hot yoga poses, which makes it a full body workout. However, certain muscles, like your biceps, are rarely used in any yoga class, which is something you should be aware of if you’re focused in really toning your arms. While you will tone your legs in yoga, unless you’re doing poses that force you to your toes (which typically are not included in hot-style classes) you likely won’t be working your calves that much, either.

All the heat doesn’t just help you burn calories, but also help you flush out toxins. It makes you sweat like crazy which makes you lose a couple pounds of water weight pretty instantly, but those pounds come right back after you drink water. Remember to rehydrate yourself after class or you’ll start to feel faintish pretty quickly.

People with preexisting conditions like cardiovascular disease, back pain, asthma and diabetes should always consult a doctor before beginning a hot-yoga class. Pregnancy is another time to be cautious  since increased core temperatures in pregnant women can be dangerous to a fetus.

In general hot yoga is safe and the risks are minimal and might help improve balance, strength and other health measures. If you love it, do it. If it doesn't work for you, there are other types of yoga that is going to be fine. Hot yoga might not be for everybody. All progress takes place outside your comfort zone, so give it your 100 percent and feel active, flexible and energetic.

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