It’s no secret that we’re among the fattest people on earth. A two-thirds majority of Americans are overweight, and half of these people are actually obese. And all that excess weight brings with it a whole host of health problems. Heart disease and diabetes are two of the most obvious ones, but excess weight has been increasingly linked to virtually all cancers, even breast cancer.
My poor diet can cause cancer?
A lot of people think that genetics alone determine their cancer risk, and this simply isn’t true. Cancer results from damage to cellular DNA, and tumor growth can be promoted by all kinds of environmental factors, including bad, processed food with no nutrients to boost your body’s immune system against any potentially cancerous growth. Everyone has bad genes of some kind, but your diet and lifestyle, not your genes, are usually what put you at risk.
With so many people being “too busy” these days to make their own food and opting instead for something from the drive-through window or the pre-packaged food aisles in the supermarket, it’s no wonder we’re overweight. Americans know what they should be eating – we’ve heard all our lives that “you are what you eat” – but after a stressful day at work, it can be frustrating to look at the items in the produce department and think, “Sure, but it won’t fill me up.” And maybe the lettuce and tomatoes by themselves won’t satisfy you. However, if you want to wean yourself off of nutrient-poor processed foods, start eating right and actually feel good, there’s more to it than fruits and vegetables. It’s equally important to include whole grains such as chia seeds in your diet if weight loss is your goal.
Why chia seeds?
Chia seeds offer many of the same health benefits as the other “superfoods” that have made headlines recently for their high nutrient and antioxidant content. A serving as small as two tablespoons of chia seeds provides ten grams of fiber – nearly half the recommended daily intake of 25 grams. Chia seeds are also an excellent source of protein, iron, magnesium, zinc and omega-3. Research also suggests that chia seeds improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
Will I lose weight eating chia seeds?
Like other high-fiber foods, chia seeds will hold water and help provide a sense of fullness between meals. Whether or not you will lose weight also depends on the other foods you’re eating. A good rule of thumb is to make more room in your diet for whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes and to limit your intake of meat, eggs, dairy and sugary drinks. Contrary to what many people have been raised to believe, daily meat intake is not necessary and is often the reason why people have trouble losing weight and keeping their cholesterol in check.
Also important for weight loss is limiting your intake of processed foods or avoiding them altogether. Processed foods (from cookies and pre-made salad dressings to breakfast cereals and frozen dinners) often contain added salt, sugar and fat. Making your own food at home from fresh, basic ingredients allows you to control how much of those things you’re eating.
Finally, regular exercise is a key component of any successful weight loss program. Although chia seeds may provide you with additional energy, you still need to harness that energy through some type of physical activity or risk having it stored as fat. The Healthy People 2010 guidelines suggest a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity in whatever combination best fits your schedule. Walking around your neighborhood in the evening can be a great way to enjoy fresh air, catch up with the neighbors and burn a few calories before you turn in for the night; expect a three-mile walk at a moderate pace to take about one hour. If traditional forms of exercise are not your thing, try mind-body exercises such as yoga and tai chi or perhaps even learn karate. All of these will help build strength and balance as you relieve the stresses of your everyday life.
By including chia seeds in a healthy diet and exercise program, people can reasonably expect to achieve weight loss, enjoy increased energy and improve other measures of health.
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