Naturally Beautiful: Healthy Foods for Your Skin, Nails, and Hair

November 01, 2019

At AltaMed, we’re big believers in eating healthy to stay healthy. But as it happens, eating a diet full of vitamins and nutrients doesn’t just make you feel good, it makes you look good, too. Here are a few recommendations that will help you feel beautiful, from the inside out.

 

For Your Skin

woman looking herself in a mirror

Did you know your skin is actually your body’s largest organ? The skin tells us a lot about a person’s health, habits, and age – no wonder it’s so important to keep it looking good.

  • Drinking water has so many benefits both for your health and your appearance. It can give you a youthful glow and keep your skin looking plump and full. Staying properly hydrated with water also helps your cells function properly, which can prevent premature hair loss.
  • We don’t recommend eating your sunscreen, but we have to bring up SPF, anyway. It’s one of the most important ways to protect your skin and keep it looking healthy.
  • Besides sun exposure, one of the worst things you can do for your skin is drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol sucks the moisture out of your skin, which also makes it harder for your skin to absorb nutrients. It also promotes inflammation which, over time, contributes to a ruddy, reddish complexion.
  • If you suffer from acne, there are a number of foods that can make it worse. Avoid simple sugars and carbs (like the kind found in soda, candy, and white rice). Doctors aren’t sure why, but a diet filled with high-fiber foods like oatmeal, pears, and apples may help improve acne.

 

For Your Nails

french style nails

Your nails (and hair) are made up of a protein called keratin. Keratin is a living tissue, but the nails you paint and trim are actually dead cells. That’s why it doesn’t hurt when you cut your nails or hair.

  • Stress can actually make your nails stop growing. Fight stress with antioxidant-rich superfoods like blueberries, dark chocolate (in moderation), and cashews. Each has nutrients that fight inflammation and support your overall health.
  • If you want long, strong nails, the biotin found in eggs, cauliflower, almonds, and spinach can strengthen brittle nails, making them less likely to split or break.
  • Weak nails that peel can be a symptom of iron deficiency or dehydration. To get your iron, add lentils, broccoli, shellfish, and quinoa to your plate (and fill up your glass with water).
  • Trying to grow healthy nails after you’ve had acrylics? Walnuts are rich in omega-3 and vitamin E, which can reduce inflammation and promote cell health to help strengthen your nails and give them a shinier appearance. Plus, walnuts can help keep your brain sharp, so start snacking!

 

For Your Hair

woman brushing her hair

Our hair is one of the most noticeable things about us. Instead of spending a lot of money in the shampoo aisle, focus on these healthy-eating habits for full and shiny hair.

  • Avocados are full of the healthy fats and B vitamins that can help your hair stay soft and glossy.
  • Fortified cereals, animal livers, dark leafy greens, and lentils are packed with iron that can prevent premature hair loss.
  • Sweet potatoes and orange produce like carrots, pumpkins, and mangoes are high in beta-carotene that gets turned into scalp-nourishing vitamin A which can make your hair shine.
  • Protein-rich and healthy foods such as Greek yogurt and lean poultry help your hair grow. These foods also contain the B vitamins that can fight hair loss and thinning.

Loving how you look is important, but your health should always come first! If you’re eating good foods but still don’t feel healthy and energetic, contact us today at (888) 499-9303. We offer primary care and specialty care to support women and their families at every stage of life.

 

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Making Healthy Choices When Eating at Restaurants

June 03, 2019

Who said eating out has to be unhealthy? The secret is to be more aware of the food you eat. We have a few ways to help make your dine-out meals enjoyable, healthy, and still delicious!  


Drink Water
AltaMed woman drinking water


Drinking a glass of water instead of a sugary drink before you take a bite into your delicious meal can help you eat less at the dinner table. A glass of water before your meal aids your digestion and helps you feel more full, which can help you eat less. Plus, it saves you a few dollars on your bill while also saving you calories! If you want to add a little flavor to your water, ask for a slice of cucumber or lemon. Lemons add a tangy flavor and are a great source of Vitamin C.


Choose Chicken or Fish
AltaMed fish dish

 
Even if you’re going to a fast-food restaurant, you can still make healthier selections. Red meats like hamburger and steak are both high in saturated fats, which may raise the risk of cancer and heart disease. Most restaurants and even hamburgers stands offer chicken and fish options. However, if you have to choose between a bucket of fried chicken and a hamburger, get the burger but hold the fries.


Keep Your Plate Colorful 
AltaMed veggies

Your plate is your canvas. Spice it up and eat the rainbow! Making sure your plate has more colorful veggies and fruits ensures that you eat the right amount of nutrients. Make it your goal to cover two corners of your plate with fruits and veggies. Try substituting the ‘bad carbs’ found in fries and mashed potatoes with complex carbohydrates, like brown or wild rice, and hearty veggies like broccoli, asparagus, and carrots. If you’re craving a juicy burger, ditch the bun and wrap it in lettuce. Lettuce-wrapping your burgers can shave off extra calories and helps you load up on veggies.


Substitute the Salad Dressing
AltaMed salad

 Choosing to eat a salad for lunch or dinner can still be a fun meal. But even a hearty salad can be unhealthy if you choose the wrong dressing or load it with unhealthy toppings like croutons or a lot of cheese. Substitute those toppings with healthy seeds, nuts, or roasted chickpeas, and instead of ranch, blue cheese, or French dressing, try a vinaigrette! The best dressings for your colorful salads are the ones you can see through. Try a balsamic, raspberry, or Italian vinaigrette for a flavorful substitute.


Portion Control
AltaMed pasta


It’s not your imagination: restaurants are serving bigger portions. That doesn’t mean you have to eat everything they put in front of you. Two ways to downsize your plate are to order an appetizer or two for your meal, or just eat half of your entrée. If you order appetizers as a main dish, ask for your food to arrive with the rest of the entrees. Also, if you have a big entrée, try sharing it with your friend, or taking half of it home with you for a meal the next day. Who doesn’t love leftovers?


Don’t Go Extra with the Extra
AltaMed condiments

 
All that gooey ketchup you’re slathering on your sandwich is a hidden source of sugar and extra calories. Just two tablespoons of ketchup have two teaspoons of sugar – in fact, ounce for ounce, ketchup has more sugar than ice cream. Other condiments that contain extra sugar include:

  • Barbeque sauce
  • Honey mustard sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce

On the salty side, soy sauce, sweet relish, and mustard should also be used in moderation because they’re loaded with sodium.

If you’re looking to add extra flavor without the extra calories, try smarter options like: 

  • Mustard
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • Guacamole (in moderation)
  • Lemon juice


Remember, making a healthier lifestyle change can be fun and delicious! 


 

The Skinny on Those Tiny Tummy Teas

January 03, 2019

If you follow any celebrities or other influencers on Instagram, you’ve probably seen posts where the celeb is wearing a bikini or other revealing outfit and sipping on a cup of tea -- claiming that those flat abs came not from their personal trainer, a live-in chef, or plastic surgery, but from drinking a weight-loss tea with a cute-sounding name and pink packaging.  You click through the post to a glossy website with amazing before-and-after pictures and positive reviews – and you probably wonder if it’s all for real. 

Since January is the time of year when many people are working on New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or save money, we can help you achieve both: don’t waste your money on these teas that make a lot of promises but only make you spend more time in the bathroom. 
 

New Packaging, Same Old Scam


tea
Flat tummy teas are nothing new. If you’ve ever been to a botanica or even your local health food store, you’ve probably seen teas advertising amazing benefits, such as appetite suppression, fat burning, or natural detoxing for your body. These teas have been around for decades. They’re almost the exact same thing that you’re seeing now in your social media feeds, just with different marketing.

So, what’s in them?


Laxatives


woman in pain
Look at the side of the box, and you’ll probably see a lot of ingredients you’ve never heard of – and maybe some you have heard of. Like Senna, which is an FDA-approved laxative that can be purchased over the counter. Senna is what’s called a stimulant laxative, and it acts by revving up the activity of your intestines. Senna is so potent, one slimming tea even comes with a warning:  “You should ensure that you have ready access to a toilet until you know how your body reacts…” 

What the packaging doesn’t tell you is that it’s dangerous to take Senna for more than two weeks. Long-term use can cause your bowels to stop functioning normally, muscle weakness, and heart and liver damage. 


Herbs that Make You Urinate More


toilet paper
Many of these teas also feature fresh-sounding ingredients, such as dandelion, juniper, parsley, and nettle. With ingredients like this, the tea has to be natural and wholesome, right? These are all herbs that have a diuretic effect: they increase the production of urine (you have to pee more). 

Unfortunately, when you drink these teas, you’re not peeing out calories or pounds: you’re peeing out important nutrients like potassium and calcium. Too much, over the long term, can cause dehydration, dizziness, headaches, and muscle cramps. 


Caffeine and Other Stimulants


hands on heart
Many weight loss teas also blend ingredients such as caffeine, green tea, guarana, and cayenne to deliver some extra kick (and they will also make you urinate more). These ingredients may boost your metabolism for a short period of time but don’t provide any long-lasting effects. It’s a combination that can be harmful to anyone with high blood pressure or heart conditions. 

Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and sleeplessness…which may actually be linked to weight gain. 


At Best, These Teas are a Rip-off


woman on computer
Basically, the only thing these teas do is rev up your heart rate and make you spend a lot more time in the bathroom. The only weight you’re losing will quickly come back. And our bodies already have detoxification tools: our liver, kidneys, lungs, and skim are remarkably effective at removing so-called toxins.


At Worst, They Can Cause Long-Term Health Problems


woman on couch
These teas are not FDA-approved – that is, they are not studied or regulated by the American Food & Drug Administration, the federal agency that protects the public by surveying the effectiveness and safety of various foods, drugs, and cosmetics. They may interact with certain medications. They’re not safe to take in the long-term. If you dig a little deeper online, you’ll find reports of women experiencing explosive cramps and menstrual irregularities.
 

Stick to Proven Methods for Healthfully Losing Weight


woman drinking
Any remedy that seems too good to be true usually is. Fortunately, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you shed pounds while increasing your overall level of health. 

If it’s a flat stomach you’re after, there’s no such thing as spot reduction, but toned abs and back muscles can help you stand up straighter, which reduces the appearance of a gut (as well as keeps your back healthy and strong).

Regular tea can also be used in a healthy diet. Black, green, and oolong teas can give your energy a boost and may even fight high blood pressure and cholesterol. Before you start any new health or fitness program, check in with your doctor!