Your Guide to Choosing Healthy Drinks for Your Family

May 01, 2019

Maybe you’ve heard the recent news about a group of pediatricians calling for a tax of sugary sodas to help curb consumption. 

You may have also read recent reports that drinking diet sodas has been linked to health problems like stroke, heart attacks, and even a higher risk of diabetes. 

Or maybe you’ve been warned about giving your kids too much juice, as the extra sugar maylead to cavities.

All of this information can leave you thinking, “What are my children and I supposed to drink?”

Relax! AltaMed’s got you. Learn more about your drink choices, and how to drink them while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 

Sodas/Colas

A glass of soda and on the side sugar cubes

Soda is full of empty calories meaning there are no nutritional benefits or vitamins in soda. Sugar-sweetened beverages may be the leading dietary cause of Type 2 diabetes.

  • The added calories and sugar in soda can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • The sugars and acid in soda are also bad for your teeth, promoting tooth decay, oral disease, and even bad breath.
  • Soda’s mix of sugar and caffeine may make you urinate more frequently, potentially leading to dehydration. 

The bottom line: Consider soda a treat like chocolate cake or a candy bar and only consume it once a month. Soda is not recommended for children still drinking from a bottle.

 

Diet Drinks/Sugar-Free Soda

Woman trying to choose between a glass of water or a glass of soda

People often choose diet soda, thinking it’s a healthier option and that fewer calories can help weight loss efforts. But almost all the research says the opposite: consumption of diet sodas has been tied to weight gain.  This may be because of aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in diet soda. The way diet soda delivers sweetness without providing calories or nutrients may trick thebrain into overeating. Over time, aspartame may also dull your taste buds, so you need increasingly sweet tastes before your brain realizes you’re eating something sweet. 

  • Even though they don’t have sugar, diet sodas have been linked to stroke, diabetes, and increased risk of obesity.
  • Some people experience sensitivity to artificial sweeteners that could result in headaches, nausea, or dizziness. 
  • Added caffeine may make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

The bottom line: Sip these as sparingly as the full-sugar versions – no more than once or twice a month.

 

Sports Drinks

Sport woman drink a red sport drink

Even though you would think you’re getting something healthy, sports drinks aren’t much better than sodas. It’s true that sports drinks have added nutrients like sodium, potassium, and calcium, but you don’t need them, unless you’re participating in strenuous exercise. 

  • Added sugar could cause obesity or diabetes.
  • Added sodium may elevate blood pressure.
  • Most sports drinks contain food dyes – some of which have been linked to hyperactivity in children.

The bottom line: Unless you or your child is doing vigorous exercise for 30 minutes or longer, skip the sports drinks.

 

Juices

Child trying to reach a juice in the supermarket

Juice seems like it should be all-natural, right? But many juices you buy at the store contain significant amounts of added sugar. Even though it’s made from fruit, juice doesn’t deliver the same nutritional benefits you’d get from eating the whole fruit.

  • Juice delivers a concentrated amount of fruit sugar with none of the fiber. 
  • These extra calories in juice can lead to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes and more.
  • When placed in baby’s bottle, juice can lead to tooth decay.

The bottom line: If you’re going to buy juice, read the label carefully to make sure it has as few ingredients as possible – ideally, just juice from the fruit and nothing more. It is ok to enjoy juice occasionally, but if you’re giving it to a child, make sure you give them a kid-sized portion in a cup, not a bottle!

 

Water

A dad helping his child to get a sip from a drinking fountain

Water should be your whole family’s go-to drink! It’s cheap and free of calories, chemicals, and additives. Here’s a few more reasons why we love water:

  • Water helps keep you hydrated. 
  • It helps you feel full, which could mean eating less and saving calories at meal time. 
  • Drinking water hydrates your skin and your joints from the inside out.

The bottom line: The old advice about drinking eight ounces of water eight times a day isn’t bad advice, but some people might not need quite so much. If you’re athletic, breastfeeding, or living in a hot or humid climate, you may need more.  
 

Looking for more tips on healthy living for you and your family? Bookmark the AltaMed Health and Wellness page! Find articles about making fitness funkid-friendly oral health tipsdisease prevention, and much more.

 

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5 Spring Fruits & Vegetables: Healthy, Delicious, Available Now

April 04, 2019

Spring is the season of fresh starts, new beginnings, and a flavorful crop of fruits and vegetables. Eating colorfully offers more than unique flavors. In-season goodies provide nutritional benefits for health, beauty, and diet.

We’ve put together a list of our top five springtime picks of the most delicious, versatile, and colorful options this season.

 

 

Artichokes

Artichokes vegetable picture

This flower-like veggie made its way from the Mediterranean to California where today we produce nearly all the artichokes for the U.S.! Once boiled or steamed, the tender base of the artichoke leaves can be eaten, usually dipped in hollandaise, mayonnaise or aioli, while the tough upper part of the leaf is discarded. When the leaves are peeled away, the soft, flavorful heart—the most delicious part of the artichoke—is revealed. 

Artichokes are filled with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals good for overall health and glowing skin. They also reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels, are high in fiber (this helps you stay feeling full longer) aid with digestion, and help keep blood sugars stable.

 

Asparagus

Asparagus vegetable picture

These nutrient-packed stalks are full of vitamins and minerals. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked, served plain or in fancy sauces. Asparagus is often served alongside other spring vegetables like potatoes, peas, and garlic, but make a great roasted side dish or add-in for stir-fry meals. Best-served immediately after purchase, asparagus is available in three colors—green (the most common), white, and the sweeter, more tender purple spears.

 Asparagus is anti-inflammatory, helps with digestion, aids with weight management, and may even reduce the risk for cancer.

 

 

Rhubarb

Rhubarb vegetable fruit

Crisp rhubarb stalks are firm and glossy. Rhubarb’s texture is similar to celery, but it’s usually served in desserts. Known for its very tart taste and bright pink stalk, rhubarb is also known for its poisonous deep green leaves—be sure only to eat the stalk! The stalks are usually stewed with sugar and spices to make jams, sauces for cakes and other sweets, and mixed with strawberries and sugar to make filling for pies, tarts, and crumbles.

 Packed with fiber, rhubarb can aid weight loss and rev up the metabolism, improves digestion, boosts skin health, improves circulation, contributes to heart-health, and provides vitamins and minerals. With a list of benefits like that, we should all be adding rhubarb to our shopping carts!

 

 

Spring Onions

Spring onions picture

Recognizable by their green stems and white bulbs, spring onions (also known as scallions) are famous for their versatility in cooking and food preparation, as well as their health properties. A sweet, mild option when compared to their closest relatives—garlic, onion, leek, and shallot— spring onions are often used as a garnish, sautéed with other vegetables, or served pickled. Their pungent flavor lends itself to salads, salsas, soups, and many Asian dishes.

 Spring onions contain a number of vitamins, including beta-carotene, that contribute to healthy skin and good vision. They are naturally fat-free and low in calories, full of calcium, iron, and other nutrients. Because they are high in fiber, they are an excellent addition to a healthy diet.

 

 

Strawberries

Strawberries fruit picture

You already know and love strawberries, and they’re at their peak in spring. Eat them on their own as a dessert, or toss them into salads, smoothies, and cereal.

 Here’s a tasty fact: In one study, women who ate strawberries regularly were 34% less likely to have suffered a heart attack! Strawberries boast a wide range of heart-healthy benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting healthy blood pressure. Because of their relatively low glycemic index, strawberries are a sweet treat for those with type 2 diabetes – strawberries can even help protect against diabetes and pre-diabetes. They’re full of fiber and, ounce for ounce, have more vitamin C than oranges.

 

 

Thank you Cali!

Two women in a street market watching the fruits

Fruits and vegetables like the fresh finds mentioned here are essential for healthy bodies, delicious additions to your regular diet, and affordable in-season. Thanks to Southern California’s sunny weather, you can also find these five favorites to give you a little variety. You should be able to find all of these fruits and veggies at your local farmer’s market or supermarket.

 Get creative with recipes and learn new ways that you and your family can enjoy and take advantage of the many fresh spring flavors now available to you.

 

6 Top Healthy Living Apps for Your Physical & Mental Well-Being

March 01, 2019

Looking to improve your health? Join the club! Actually, with today’s health apps, you don’t need to. There are more than 318,000 health apps available to help you manage your health. From making smart food choices to exercising, and getting better sleep, these apps help turn health goals into healthy habits. So, grab your water bottle and your smartphone, and check out these six apps that can help you take control of your health.


Omada Health
Available for iOS and Android; Price: free for AltaMed Patients in Orange County
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed people doing thai chi

Omada was created to help users lose weight and lower their risks of getting diabetes and heart disease. Omada provides the tools and support you need to succeed by helping you break up your health goals into small, easy steps. The app allows you to track your meals and activity/exercise, offers lessons on nutrition and stress, and connects you with a health coach to support and guide your progress. Plus, Omada gives AltaMed patients a valuable freebie: a smart scale that connects to the app. 


MapMyWalk
Available for iOS, Android & Samsung; Price: $0
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed two women waling up the stairs

Using your phone’s built-in GPS, MapMyWalk tracks your daily walks and uses Google Maps to show you your route. It also collects and shows you your speed, distance, and calories burned. Receive audio updates on how you are doing while you walk, and use the website to see your history, make friends, join groups, and see how your friends are doing. 


Pillow (Sleep Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed older woman and husband sleeping

This easy-to-use app provides detailed information about your sleep cycle to help you get more restful sleep. Simply place your phone on your mattress near your pillow while you sleep and Pillow will track your activity during the night. You can also analyze and record your sleep, heart rate, and audio events such as snoring, sleep talking, or sleep apnea. 

Connect to Apple’s Health app to compare your sleep to other health measurements. Pillow’s intelligent alarm clock helps you wake up rested by waking you at the lightest sleep stage. The app comes with features that let you track your mood during the day, and gives you personalized recommendations. Premium features include unlimited access to your sleep history, nap modes, access to a large library of wake-up and sleep-aid programs and melodies, and the ability to export and download your data to use with other programs.  


Fooducate (Nutrition & Health Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, various premium levels available starting at $1.99
AltaMed woman shopping for fruit

Not only does Fooducate let you track the foods you eat each day, but it educates you on healthy eating choices. The Fooducate app lets you input the foods you eat to learn about their nutritional value by scanning a barcode or searching the extensive database. The app also offers a daily stream of tips and articles to help motivate you on your food journey. Look through the archive of foods, check for top graded food choices, and set individual goals beyond weight loss. Fooducate can even send you a reminder on your phone to use it while you are shopping at the supermarket.


Instant Heart Rate+ HR Monitor
Available for iOS, Android & Windows Phone; Price: $4.99, various premium levels available starting at $3.99
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed heart app

Whether you’re just starting an exercise program or you’ve worked out for years, your heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness level. This straightforward heart rate app lets you discover your heart rate in 10 seconds or less. Just place the tip of your index finger on your phone’s camera and the app will detect color changes in your finger each time your heart beats. It then tells you your heart rate and puts the data in an easy-to-understand chart. Additional add-on features allow you to track heart health, access videos and motivational audio, and receive emails with tips on healthy living. Instant Heart Rate Monitor is used for research and trials by leading cardiologists, and is rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app. 


HabitList
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
AltaMed people high fiving

HabitList is designed to give you everything you need to set and reach your health goals, all wrapped up in a clear, direct format. Enter your goals and the app breaks everything down into clear steps by day and frequency to help you stay focused. The app helps you stay motivated by encouraging you to beat your own personal best at each repeated task, then rewarding you when you do. View trends over a period of time, create a flexible and personalized goal schedule, and easily check off your healthy to-do list. 


New to Physical Fitness? Start Here First.
At AltaMed, we love that there are so many tools to help make it fun and easy for people to work on their health goals. But you may have different health needs, and not every activity will be right for you. If you’ve never exercised before or you have an existing health condition like diabetes or heart disease, talk to your doctor before you start a program. They can help you determine the best options for you. 

We don’t have an app for that, but we do have a handy doctor search tool to help you find a doctor near you.