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Saturday, 19 January 2019

Why Vitamin D is Useless without This Critical Nutrient

It seems like every week a new study is released showcasing more and more health benefits of vitamin D. It helps to prevent the flu, ensures your genes function properly, improves muscle function, reduces the risk of heart diseasediabetes and multiple sclerosis, and even helps with weight loss. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this vitamin. So, it’s probably no surprise that an increasing number of people are taking vitamin D supplements to give their health a boost.
But, before you take your vitamin D drops you might want to know about a new studythat shows vitamin D needs another nutrient to work properly. Recent evidence shows that vitamin D synthesis is completely dependent on magnesium levels—a nutrient, which sadly, a large percentage of the population is deficient in. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study concluded that the mineral magnesium is necessary for vitamin D to do its many jobs in the body.
Dr. Qi Dai, the professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the head of an earlier study, published in BMC Medicine, found that people with high levels of magnesium intake in their diet or from supplements were less likely to have low vitamin D levels. The study also showed that people with higher magnesium intakes had a lower risk of death due to heart disease or bowel cancer. 
Dr. Dai and other researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted another study to find out why higher levels of magnesium meant a reduced risk of vitamin D deficiency. They found that magnesium acts as a cofactor for the production of vitamin D, either from the sunlight or from dietary sources. In an interview with Medical News Today, Dr. Dai indicated that “Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway.”
The study showed that supplementation with magnesium led to an increased amount of vitamin D among people with previously low levels of the vitamin. And, magnesium supplementation also reduced the amount of vitamin D among people with excessively high levels. In other words, the mineral acted to balance the amount of vitamin D in a person’s body, which is important because vitamin D deficiencies are linked to serious health problems, but an excessively high amount of vitamin D can also cause illness, including excessive calcium in the blood.

SIGNS OF A MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY

There are many signs of a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency symptoms may actually mimic other health problems, which can be linked to the mineral’s role in so many health functions, but it is important to check with your doctor if you have any symptoms. Some of the deficiency symptoms include: back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, cravings for chocolate, depression, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, insomnia, irritability or anxiety, muscle cramps, nervous tics or twitches, restless leg syndrome, sensitive teeth or painful periods in women. It is not necessary to have every symptom to have a magnesium deficiency.

MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY IS COMMON

Magnesium deficiency is a common problem, with up to 80 percent of people being deficient in this critical mineral. Magnesium has long been known as the partner mineral to calcium, but this new research shows it is also a partner to vitamin D. It is a natural anti-stress and relaxation mineral because it plays an important role in helping our bodies to combat stress. It is necessary for many bodily functions, including healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle and nerve function. It is also involved in the production of energy for most of our bodily processes.

WHAT FOODS CONTAIN MAGNESIUM?

Magnesium is found in alfalfa sprouts, almonds and almond butter, apples, brown rice, celery, figs, leafy greens, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and many other foods.

SUPPLEMENTING WITH MAGNESIUM

A typical supplemental dose of magnesium is 800 mg. daily. Many people supplementing with calcium without taking magnesium may unknowingly be causing a depletion of the body’s reserves of magnesium. If you are supplementing with calcium you’ll likely benefit from adding magnesium as well.

7 Whole Grains You Should Know About

Grains are a diet staple around the world for good reason. They’re excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals — with whole grains being the healthiest of the bunch. Whole grains retain all three parts of the seed (the bran, germ and endosperm), which makes them more nutritious than refined grains. You’re probably already familiar with some whole grains, such as brown rice and oats, but there are many others that can add variety to your cooking. Here are seven whole grains you should know about.

1. BARLEY

Barley is an ancient grain that can adapt to various growing locations around the world, according to the Whole Grains Council, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy group. “Egyptians buried mummies with necklaces of barley,” the council says. “And centuries later in 1324 Edward II of England standardized the inch as equal to ‘three grains of barley, dry and round, placed end to end lengthwise.’”
You can find barley in two forms — hulled (whole) and pearled (refined) — but only hulled barley is technically a whole grain. “Hulled barley is high in minerals such as selenium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, phosphorus and potassium, as well as B vitamins and fiber,” Healthline says. Plus, according to the Whole Grains Council, the fiber in hulled barley might be even more effective at reducing cholesterol than oats.

2. BUCKWHEAT 

Technically speaking, buckwheat is part of the pseudocereal family, meaning it’s a seed that’s consumed like a grain. “Botanically, buckwheat is a cousin of rhubarb, not technically a grain at all — and certainly not a kind of wheat,” the Whole Grains Council says. “But its nutrients, nutty flavor and appearance have led to its ready adoption into the family of grains.” 
Buckwheat is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron, as well as B vitamins, according to Healthline. Its husk also contains resistant starch, which can improve digestive health and control blood sugar. Plus, buckwheat has high levels of rutin, an antioxidant that can improve blood circulation and lower cholesterol.

3. BULGUR

Bulgur wheat — also referred to as cracked wheat — occurs “when wheat kernels are cleaned, boiled, dried, ground by a mill, then sorted by size,” the Whole Grains Council says. It’s a popular base for many Middle Eastern dishes, including tabbouleh. And because it already has been precooked, it only needs a quick boil before it’s ready to eat.
Bulgur is high in magnesium, manganese and iron, according to Healthline. And it’s low in fat. Plus, it’s very high in fiber, providing 33 percent of the recommended daily value per cooked cup. “Research has linked higher intakes of bulgur and other whole grains to less inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease and cancers like colorectal cancer,” Healthline says.

4. MILLET

You might know millet as a birdseed ingredient, but it offers many benefits to human diets, as well. There are several types of millet, which people around the world have consumed for thousands of years. “In fact, millets are the leading staple grains in India, and are commonly eaten in China, South America, Russia and the Himalayas,” according to the Whole Grains Council.
Millet is high in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and iron. Plus, it’s a good source of protein and antioxidants. “Research has linked millet intake to health benefits such as reduced inflammation, lower blood triglycerides and improved blood sugar control,” Healthline says.

5. QUINOA 

Like buckwheat, quinoa is technically a pseudocereal. According to the Whole Grains Council, it’s related to Swiss chard and beets. But it’s been consumed like a grain for thousands of years, originating in South America and lately gaining superfood status.
“This ancient grain is packed with more vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and fiber than popular grains such as whole wheat, oats and many others,” Healthline says. Plus, it’s an excellent source of antioxidants that can help the body fight inflammation, heart disease and certain types of cancer. And it’s one of the few plant-based complete protein sources, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.

6. RYE

Rye, a member of the wheat family, once was viewed as a weed growing among more popular wheat crops, according to the Whole Grains Council. But because it’s able to thrive in wet and cold regions, it gained a foothold in Northern European and Russian cuisines.
Rye is actually a healthier alternative to wheat. It contains more minerals and fewer carbs, according to Healthline. And it’s incredibly high in fiber. “Rye is unusual among grains for the high level of fiber in its endosperm — not just in its bran,” the Whole Grains Council says. “Because of this, rye products generally have a lower glycemic index than products made from wheat and most other grains.” Look for whole rye or rye berries on the ingredients list to make sure you’re getting the whole grain.

7. SPELT 

Spelt is a type of ancient whole wheat, which was “widely cultivated until the spread of fertilizers and mechanical harvesting left it by the wayside in favor of wheats more compatible with industrialization,” according to the Whole Grains Council. But now it’s making a comeback as people recognize its health benefits.
Spelt can take the place of common whole wheat in many recipes. It’s similar to wheat in nutrition — high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, as well as fiber and vitamin B3. And it actually contains more zinc and protein than wheat, according to Healthline.

The 7 Best Foods You Can Eat for Healthy Hair

We’ve all heard the old adage before: you are what you eat. So, if you’re on the hunt for healthier, shinier, and stronger hair , one of the best ways to help yourself reach your goals is to implement nutrient-rich foods into your daily diet.
The science checks out: hair is made up of a protein fiber called keratin, which means eating foods rich in protein helps promote strong hair particles that don’t go brittle and break—and when it comes to ensuring your hair texture remains silky and smooth, look no further than foods high in minerals iron and zinc. 

THE BEST FOODS FOR HEALTHY HAIR

Ready to begin eating your way to healthy hair? These are the very best foods you can eat for an incredible mane.

1. Spinach

Yes, we know that Popeye was bald—but he was also on to something. Spinach is loaded with beta carotene, a plant pigment that the human body converts into vitamin A, one of the most powerful anti-aging vitamins for our bodies. Spinach helps keep our hair moisturized and strong.

2. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are similarly high in beta carotene. Deficiencies in Vitamin A can lead to indicators of poor hair health, such as dandruff and dull, lifeless hair, so eat up.

3. Almond Butter

Almond butter is full of the potent antioxidant vitamin E, which will not only help keep your locks thick, but has been demonstrated to help increase hair growth by as much as 34.5 percent over eight months.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is full of polyunsaturated fatty acids that you can obtain through your diet. Incorporating oats into your diet will give your body a boost of zinc, iron, biotin and omega-6 fatty acids, which will help keep your hair strong and, just as importantly, on your head.

5. Avocados

Avocados are loaded will essential fatty acids that your body can only receive through diet; additionally, they’re loaded with the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps combat oxidative stress and protects areas of the skin, such as the scalp.

6. Legumes

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the… shinier and silkier your hair will become! Beans, lentils, and other legumes provide the body with a substantial dose of protein, iron, and zinc, which can help promote hair growth.

7. Red Bell Peppers

Many people think of citrus fruits when they think of vitamin C, but did you know that a single cup of chopped red bell peppers actually has almost three times as much vitamin Cas an orange? Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and helps protect hair follicles against harm from free radicals.

6 health benefits of apple tea and how to make it

Apple tea is quite new in the market and it has gained a lot of popularity during these days because of the health benefits that it provides. It is a warm and soothing drink which can be great for you if you want to lose weight or just want to feel better and stay healthy in winters. It is prepared by brewing fresh apples with regular black tea and some spices. Surely, this tea takes a bit more time to get prepared as compared to other teas but, its unique flavour makes it worth the time and efforts. Apples are loaded with many essential nutrients and antioxidants, which makes them one of the most healthy fruits on this planet. So, what are the health benefits of drinking apple tea? 

1. It helps in managing diabetes 
The healthy compounds that are found in apple tea have positive effects on the blood sugar levels inside the body. So, drinking apple tea can be beneficial in managing diabetes

2. It cures constipation 
Drinking apple tea in the morning can be helpful in improving your digestion, which in turn can cure constipation. 

3. It improves the bone health 
Apple tea offers high amounts of magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and sodium, all of which can help build strong bones. 

4. It improves the heart health 
The active ingredients of apple tea help in reducing the bad cholesterols in the body, which lowers the blood pressure. Drinking apple tea regularly can protect your heart from various types of diseases. 

5. It improves vision 
The flavonoids present in apple tea can help in preventing eye-related diseases by protecting the vision as you get older. 

6. It boosts the immunity 
Apple tea contains antioxidants that help in boosting the immune system. It improves the ability of the immune system, which helps in fighting with many types of diseases and infections. 

How to make apple tea 

What do you need? 
2 cups of water 
1 big apple 
2 black tea bags


1 teaspoon cinnamon powder



Method


1. Place a deep pan over medium flame and boil water in it. In the meantime, cut the apple into small pieces and remove the seeds. Put the pieces in the water and let it boil.



2. Now, lower the flame and add the cinnamon powder to it. Stir with a spoon and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.



3. Turn off the flame and dip the tea bags in it. Mix it again and then, strain the mixture over teacups and enjoy! 

11 Things You Should Do at the First Sign of Flu

First, don’t catch the flu

“The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year,” says Niket Sonpal, MD, a New York City-based internist and gastroenterologist. While a flu shot will significantly decrease your chances of getting the flu it is still possible to contract the virus, so make sure to take extra precautions (like the ones outlined here) in addition to getting vaccinated, especially if you start to feel the symptoms associated with the flu.

How to know if you’re getting the flu


Dr. Sonpal says the first signs of flu can include feeling feverish, having chills, a cough, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, and vomiting or diarrhea (though the last two tend to happen more in children than adults). If you have one or more of these symptoms talk to your doctor to see if you have the flu and follow these early treatment tips. Here are 10 signs your flu might be deadly.

Wash your hands


If you are starting to feel like you might have a cold or the flu, washing your hands can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. “This is an easy way to stop the spreading of germs,” Dr. Sonpal says. In fact, a study published in Tropical Medicine & International Health found that good hand washing hygiene reduced the risk of respiratory illness by 16 percent. Check out the 10 ways you’re washing your hands wrong.

Rest


Stop exercising and try not to over-exert yourself, recommends Dr. Sonpal. Trying to keep up with your regular routine will only dehydrate you and make your symptoms worse. “Remember there is no quick fix for the flu, and many people don’t feel completely back to normal for about three weeks,” Dr. Sonpal adds. Here are 9 ways to prepare for the flu before it hits.

Don’t ask for antibiotics


“Antibiotics don’t kill viruses,” Dr. Sonpal says. “Although many people believe their favorite antibiotic will cure any illness they have, that just isn’t the case.” If you catch your flu within the first 48 hours of infection, your doctor may prescribe Tamiflu, an antiviral medication that can shorten the lifespan of your flu; however, says Dr. Sonpal, in most patients it only saves about one day of illness.

Try over-the-counter pain relievers

What will ease your flu symptoms are OTC pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, especially if you have a fever. It can help reduce your symptoms and provide flu relief. Dr. Sonpal says to use these as directed on the label, as getting the proper dosage is key to relieving body aches, headaches, and pain symptoms related to the flu. Check out four home remedies doctors use for pain relief.

Get more sleep


While you need physical rest to overcome the flu, giving your brain a break could help you recover more quickly. A study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that a protein produced by the brain during sleep helped speed up the recovery of mice with influenza.

Make sure not to overdo it on the vitamins


It’s fine to continue taking your daily multivitamin if you feel up to it but be aware that taking too many vitamins can have negative effects. “Ultra-high doses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea,” says Dr. Sonpal. “Although a few studies suggest vitamin C might shorten the duration of a cold, other studies contradict this, and no major studies show benefit for influenza.” Find out the other vitamin myths you should stop believing.

Fuel with food


“If you are able to eat, stock up on foods that can help boost your immune system,” recommends Dr. Sonpal. This includes yogurt, fruits like blueberries and vegetables like broccoli. For those feeling nauseous, chicken soup is another option, Dr. Sonpal adds. “Chicken soup can help reduce inflammation, clear up mucus, and ease congestion,” he says. Here are 14 foods that may help your symptoms.

Drink up


Water is always best to keep you hydrated and help loosen up mucus, but any liquid without caffeine will do, says Dr. Sonpal. If you’re starting to have water fatigue he recommends Gatorade, ginger ale, diluted juice, broth, or decaffeinated tea.

Skip caffeine


Coffee and tea with caffeine can dehydrate you, says Dr. Sonpal. Dehydration may make your symptoms feel worse and your sickness last longer. And while this probably goes without saying, alcohol has the same effect: Though it may be tempting, that hot toddy isn’t going to help you feel better. You won’t believe some of these old-time remedies that were once used to treat the flu.

Cancel social engagements


Stay home from work, school, and all social events. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you steer clear of others for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Flu symptoms can start anywhere from one to two days after the virus has entered the body, meaning you could be spreading it to others before you even realize you have it. This makes it even more crucial to reschedule events the moment you start to feel off.

Stock up on hand sanitizer


Even if you isolate yourself, chances are friends and family will come by to check on you. Make sure they remember to wash their hands—or at the very least use hand sanitizer. It’s a good idea to have a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer prominently placed around the house so your guests can disinfect and prevent carrying flu germs to others. 

13 Foods You Should Never, Ever Eat Past the Expiration Date

Double-check: Is it really an expiration date?

Not every date you see on your food is an expiration date. Here are four common dates you may see in the grocery store and what they really mean, according to Business Insider:

Sell-by date: How long the store has to display the product
Use-by date: When manufacturer thinks the product will be at its peak quality
Best if used by date: The best date for flavor and quality
Closed by date or coded dates: The packing number that the manufacturer uses

None of these are expiration dates nor do they indicate whether food is safe to eat or not. In fact, the FDA allows manufacturers to sell almost any food past these dates, with baby formula being the exception. What’s more, manufacturers aren’t required to put any of these dates on their food; the decision is totally up to them.

Why food expiration dates matter


Looks and smells can sometimes be deceiving (taking a whiff of the milk carton is not an exact science), which is why those expiration dates stamped on the packaging can guide you in the right direction and help prevent illness. From creamy cheeses to sandwich staples, it’s best to toss these foods once they’re past their given expiration date unless you want to roll the dice on an extra sick day. On the other side of the spectrum, these are the 11 foods you’re tossing too soon.

Egg substitutes


A full carton of eggs has a little more leeway than their boxed substitutes, but both should be consumed in a timely manner. If you’re debating whether to finish off that two-week-old carton of whites—don’t. “It’s very safe to keep eggs in the refrigerator for three to five weeks if they’re raw and in the shell. For egg substitute products, you have about three to five days on average once they’re open. If they’re unopened you have about 10 days,” says Jessica Crandall, a Denver-based registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Make sure you know the 11 foods that never expire.

Soft cheeses


Harder cheeses like cheddar or gouda have a longer shelf life because it’s more difficult for bacteria and mold to permeate them. Once opened, hard cheeses may last up to six months in the refrigerator, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, softer cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, or goat cheese, are more susceptible to mold and bacteria and should be tossed at the first sign of spoiling or once the expiration date has passed, whichever comes first. As a general rule of thumb, softer cheeses last about one week in the refrigerator after opening.

Jarred condiments


It may seem like spreads and sauces last forever, but just because they’re in a glass jar tucked away in the cool refrigerator doesn’t mean they’re untouchable by bacteria. “Once you’ve opened the lid, that safety seal is broken, and you should be using that condiment in a timely fashion,” says Crandall. “In addition, as we make sandwiches for example, we dip our knife into the spread container and wipe it onto the sandwich and then dip it back into the container. By doing this you’re putting some of that bacteria back into the container.” Jarred condiments tend to have more exposure to bacteria and therefore could lead to foodborne illness if not trashed at the appropriate time. If you notice any water floating on top, discoloration, or weird smells—just toss it. Check out the 16 things you never knew had an expiration date.

Potato salad


Similar to jarred spreads like mayo and mustard, potato or egg salads are more susceptible to bacteria growth because they have more instances of exposure. Taking a few scoops at a time from the container introduces more bacteria and increases risk of contamination leading to foodborne illness. Salads like these are often pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about, giving time for that bacteria to grow and for that food to spoil. “Our food system is very safe, but sometimes when things fall out of temperature or if there is bacteria introduced, we have to be extra cautious with those things,” says Crandall.

Cold-pressed juice


Green juices may be filling up your Instagram feeds daily, but they should not find a permanent home in your refrigerator. Cold-pressed or raw juices are incredibly popular among the health-conscious because they’re nutrient-dense, but it’s important to consume them very soon after buying. Unlike typical processed juices which undergo pasteurization to kill off harmful bacteria and increase shelf life, these raw juices are not pasteurized, making them much more prone to bacteria contamination. Only buy from your local juice bar what you plan to drink in the next 48-72 hours if you want to avoid getting sick. Toss these foods that are probably expired in your fridge right now.

Fresh meat


With fresh meat you’re usually dealing with a “sell by” date, which tells the store the last day it can keep that product out for sale. What does this mean for you? You either need to eat it or freeze it when you get home. “The ‘sell by’ is telling the store when it should be the last day to have it on their shelf. They may even be discounting the food to try to get rid of it if it’s the last day they can have it on their shelves,” says Crandall. A lot of fresh raw meat is also contaminated with Salmonella, E. coli, or other bacteria. With that in mind, it’s very important to cook the meat at the proper temperatures as a greater defense against bacteria.

Ground meats


The FDA says that ground meat should be eaten or frozen within two days of purchase. This applies to beef, pork, turkey, lamb, and any other type of ground meat. Because it’s ground, the bacteria that were originally present on the surface can be mixed throughout the meat, increasing your risk of contracting food poisoning or another illness. Don’t miss these surprising foods that food safety experts will never eat.

Deli meat


Take your ticket, but don’t load up too much at the deli counter. Those ham and turkey slices will only last about three to five days, so it’s important to only buy what you’ll realistically eat during that period. Prepackaged deli meats sold in air-tight packaging will last a little longer than the fresh-sliced varieties if they’re unopened, but as soon as you crack the seal you’re working with the same three- to five-day consumption window for safe eating. Deli meat in particular is susceptible to a certain kind of bacteria called Listeria, which can multiply in cold environments like your refrigerator, so just because it’s cold doesn’t mean it’s completely protected. If the deli meat is a little slimy or giving off a funky smell, then that’s a good sign it needs to go.

Fish


Fish are no less prone to bacteria than meat and should be consumed in one or two days after purchase. Otherwise, Whole Foods advises tightly wrapping it in moisture-proof freezer paper or foil and put in the freezer. Follow these guidelines for how to properly store meat in the refrigerator.

Fresh berries


Whether you get them from the store or a farmer’s market, berries have a short lifespan. Raspberries and strawberries are only good for about three days after purchase, while blueberries can last a few days longer in the fridge. Pro tip: Freeze any berries you know you won’t eat in that time frame.After that, they turn mushy and become susceptible to a bacteria called cyclospora cayetanensis, which can cause diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, and other food poisoning symptoms.

Leafy greens


Yes, even those packaged ones that are pre-washed. Prevention.com reports that these leafy greens still have the potential to carry bacteria like E. coli because they’re touched by so many hands. For your safety, wash all types of greens before eating and never consume them after any date posted on the bag. Why would you want a soggy salad anyway? Here are 11 foods you’ve been storing wrong this whole time.

Sprouts


Sprouts are grown in warm climates, which makes them ideal breeding ground for bacteria right off the bat. Eat them past their ideal date (about two days after purchase) and your risk of getting sick increases. If you’re pregnant or already sick, avoid them altogether.

Shellfish


Like other seafood, raw shellfish can only last a day or two in the fridge before their bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses. Clams and scallops should be eaten no more than 24 hours after they are bought. Oysters eaten past their expiration date may contain vibrio vulnificus, bacteria that can cause blood poisoning. If you notice a funky odor from any seafood, throw it out immediately. On the other hand, some foods are so dangerous that eating them is actually against the law.

The 15 Worst Foods for Your Stomach

These “belly bullies” are most likely to upset your digestive system, throw your gut bacteria out of whack, cause inflammation, and make you pack on the pounds.

Carb-dense foods


This may change the way you look at “good carbs” and “bad carbs” forever. Carb-dense foods can alter the balance of our gut flora, triggering inflammation. Foods are considered carb-dense if they have a high ratio of carb grams relative to their weight. A small potato, which many consider a bad carb, weighs 170 grams, but it’s mostly water; only about 23 percent of it is carbohydrate. A plain rice cake, by contrast, weighs only nine grams, but almost 80 percent of it is carbohydrate!

Found in: Bagels, bread (including whole-grain breads), crackers, pasta, cereals, white rice, pretzels. Here are 17 more “healthy” foods you should actually avoid.

Unhealthy fats

Three types of dietary fat are linked to inflammation and thus contribute to excess belly fat: Trans fats, saturated fats, and omega-6 fats. Many different foods that cause belly fat do so because they contain these unhealthy fats.

Found in: Packaged foods (trans fats); processed and high-fat cuts of meat, full-fat dairy, some candy (saturated fat); corn oil, grape-seed oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil (omega-6 fats).

Processed meat


Processed meats are very high in calories and saturated fats. It’s not only bad for your stomach, but it can also lead to heart disease and stroke. “Processed meats are very difficult for many people to digest. They can sit in the intestines for longer because they are difficult to break down,” says Julie Rothenberg, MS, RD, LDN. They don’t contain any fiber, so they aren’t good for digestion. 

Found in: Cold cuts, hot dogs, ground meats. Check out some surprising home remedies for belly fat to consider trying.

Fried foods

Fried food tends to overwhelm the stomach, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn. Rothenberg says that fried foods sit in your stomach similarly to processed foods. It takes the body much longer to digest fried foods due to their high fat content, making them foods that cause belly fat.

Milk


A key component to keeping your tummy happy is the avoidance of FODMAPs, or rapidly fermentable carbohydrates that can aggravate your gut. Some people aren’t sensitive to any FODMAPs, some experience symptoms after eating only certain ones, and other people develop gradually worsening effects with each exposure. Lactose, found in all animal milks, is the best-known FODMAP. Lactose is broken down in the small intestine by an enzyme called lactase. Our bodies produce less lactase as we get older (since its main purpose is to help babies digest breast milk), which means dairy foods that contain lactose can torment our tummies over time even if they didn’t before.

Found in: Milk, regular (non-Greek) yogurt, soft cheeses, dairy-based desserts.

Red apples background


Foods with a lot of fructose (another FODMAP) compared with glucose can contribute to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. A 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that patients with IBS who followed a non-fructose diet had fewer symptoms.

Found in: Certain fruits (apples, mangoes, watermelons); certain vegetables (asparagus, sugar snap peas); sweeteners (high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey).

Garlic, onions, and high-fiber cousins

The body’s inability to digest a kind of fiber, called fructan, in these foods can cause flatulence. This fiber (another FODMAP) seems to cause more symptoms than some other kinds, but that may simply be because we eat so much of it.

Found in: Grains (barley, wheat); vegetables (artichokes, onions, garlic); legumes (black beans, kidney beans, soybeans); additives (inulin).

Beans and nuts
We lack the enzyme to break down a FODMAP in these foods, so our gut bacteria must digest them, which produces gas.

Natural and artificial sweeteners

Sugar alcohols, low-carb sweeteners naturally found in some foods and added to others, are another FODMAP. Foods that contain them, therefore, are among the foods that cause belly fat that you should consider avoiding. FODMAPs don’t easily pass through our cell walls, so gut bacteria digest them, which can cause gas and bloating.

Found in: Some fruits (apples, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums); vegetables (cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas); artificial sweeteners (isomalt, mannitol, polydextrose); sugar-free foods. Don’t miss these other reasons you might be experiencing belly bloat.

Fat-free foods

Many people think that choosing the fat-free option makes it healthier. But in reality, fat-free foods are very bad for your stomach. “Fat-free foods contain a lot of artificial preservatives and chemicals. This confuses your brain,” says Hillary Lewis Murray, Founder & CEO of Lumi. “Your body isn’t made to digest artificial ingredients. This buildup of bad ingredients leads to bloating and fatigue. Stick with 100 percent real ingredients.”


Alcohols

It’s not just your liver that suffers the aftereffects of a night out drinking. Alcohol carries a lot of empty calories with it, and drinking a lot of it can also slow down your body’s fat-burning processes. (Hey, they don”t call it a “beer belly” for nothing.) A drink or two—after you’ve eaten, of course—is harmless, but if you make a habit of having more than a few drinks at a time, you might start to see the effects on your midsection.

Fructose-sweetened beverages

Just like foods containing too much of this FODMAP are foods that cause belly fat, fructose-packed drinks are not friends to your tummy either. You might already know that soda can have averse effects on your health, but be aware of more sneaky culprits like fruit juice and sweet tea too. And according to Heathline, fructose-sweetened drinks might actually be more dangerous than their food counterparts in terms of belly fat risk, since they make it easier to consume more fructose in a shorter period of time.


Breakfast pastries
Muffins or scones may have little bits of blueberries in them, but don’t assume that they’re actually a healthy option. They’re still processed and packaged, so they’re still culprits for trans fats and, of course, artificial sugars. Some brands of packaged muffins even contain up to 50 percent of your daily value of sugar. So rather than making them a breakfast staple, save these goodies for rare treats.

To-go salads
Not even salad is safe?! you’re probably wondering. But don’t worry, it’s not the salad itself that causes belly fat. But when you get a pre-packaged salad from a gas station or cafe, it usually comes with a little—or not-so-little—cup of thick dressing that can pretty much counteract the nutritional value of the salad. Next time you eat your greens, opt for vinaigrette or olive oil instead of a ranch or Thousand Island, dressings that contain lots of trans fat. Not to mention that to-go salads are also often topped off with processed cheese toppings and carbo-loaded croutons, which are also foods that cause belly fat.

Salty snacks

Salt in any form is a major culprit for belly fat, mostly because it causes your body to retain lots of water, which leads to bloating and weight gain. Salty snacks like potato chips and cheese puffs also contain lots of hydrogenated oils, and hydrogenated oils mean bad fats.