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Spring clean your diet: Help your body get a fresh start


Spring cleaning season is here, but the focus doesn’t have to be all on your home. Spring is the ideal time to add fresh greens and other foods to your diet to help your body get a fresh start.

Watercress is a good choice. Experts say this member of the mustard family can help eliminate impurities in the body.

Artichokes are known to help detoxification in the liver and colon. Artichokes are rich in fiber and take a longer time to eat, so they also help promote the practice of mindful eating.

How about some dandelion greens? This edible leaf is chock full of the antioxidant vitamins A and C. Try tossing them into soups and salads.

You can always add onions. Whether white, yellow or red, this vegetable is rich in sulfonate compounds. They interact with our liver’s detoxification processes, promoting aggressive attack on cancer-causing substances.

Fennel is also fantastic to add. Crunchy and slightly sweet in flavor, it can offer the digestive tract a natural boost.

Try water with a splash of fresh citrus. There’s nothing like a tall glass of purified water to keep your body hydrated and help it flush out toxins.

Related: Do detox diets offer any health benefits?

Peels of citrus fruits also contain a compound called limonene, which one health expert refers to as “an anti-aging gold mine.”

Another goodie is rosemary. The aromatic herb is also believed to have detox abilities.

Finally, try turmeric. This powerful antioxidant is believed to increase the liver’s ability to neutralize and eliminate toxic chemicals.

5 ‘healthy’ foods that can backfire

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( — You’ve proudly switched your morning bacon, egg and cheese biscuit to a slice of whole-grain toast with avocado and hummus, and your vanilla latte has become a big glass of fresh-squeezed juice. You feel more energetic, but you’re not losing the weight you thought would fall right off. What’s up with that?

Even though our bodies benefit from the added nutrients, overdoing seemingly “guilt-free” foods can do our bodies more harm than good. Here are five health foods to keep in check.

Olive oil

In nuts we trust?

Olive oil: God’s moisturizer

Bourdain searches for the perfect sushi

This component of the Mediterranean diet has been celebrated for its heart-healthy properties. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which, according to the Mayo Clinic, could lower your cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease.

Although olive oil is considered a “good” fat, it could quickly increase the calories in an otherwise healthy dinner. “Instead of pouring the oil into the pan by sight — which could add several hundred calories to what’s cooking — use your measuring spoons per portion,” says nutrition and wellness coach Lara S. Sutton.

upwave: What to look for on an olive oil label


Nuts are at the top of the nutritious-snack-foods list. They’re packed with protein and fiber, and can help lower your cholesterol. Nuts are also composed of approximately 80% fat. When you’re eating them straight out of the package, it can be easy to consume excess fat and calories unintentionally. The Mayo Clinic advises that you stick to a small handful (or 1.5 ounces per serving) per day.

upwave: Are ‘good’ fats really good for you?

Detox juices

“Juicing removes the pulp from the produce, (so) it’s also removing the fiber that keeps you full,” notes Sutton. And when you don’t feel full, you tend to keep drinking.

The upshot? You consume lots of vitamins and minerals… and extra calories. So while juicing is a great way to consume vegetables you don’t like, eating whole fruits and veggies is a better way to go, calorie-wise.

Green tea

Green tea is known for its laundry list of health benefits, such as potential weight loss and the prevention of many diseases. It’s also used to soothe headaches, diarrhea and nausea. However, if you’re drinking more than five cups of green tea per day, the high dose of caffeine could cause those three symptoms to worsen — and keep you up all night.

Too much green tea could also reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron from food, according to WebMD. Because green tea contains no calories, it seems safe to sip in unlimited quantities, but try to make three cups per day your max.

upwave: Health benefits of green tea

Sushi with raw seafood

“You’re getting omega-3s from fish when you eat sushi, but you’re also exposed to a toxic heavy metal called mercury,” Sutton says. “Consuming too much mercury can negatively affect your nervous system.”

If you’re a serious sushi lover, it’s safer to avoid eating predatory fish, which contain the highest concentrations of this toxin. Smaller species of seafood (such as shrimp, eel and crab) have lower levels of mercury and can be found on most sushi menus. A guide to mercury levels in sushi, published by The Natural Resource Defense Council, makes it easy to enjoy a favorite food without putting yourself at risk.

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Debra Messing credits low carb, gluten-free diet for 20-pound weight loss

Debra Messing credits a low-carb, gluten-free diet and an active lifestyle for her recent 20-pound weight loss. Messing said she lost weight after cutting sugar, gluten and junk food out of her diet in a bid to get healthier.

“Two to three years ago, I made a very big change in the way I approach nutrition,” Debra, 45, told ABC News. “It made a big difference in how I look. I lost 20 pounds.”

Messing said weight loss wasn’t her goal when she cleaned up her diet, but having more energy and improving her health was. “I made the change because I was just tired all the time,” she said.

Debra used to eat candy and fast food like pizza, french fries and hamburgers all the time, but the poor diet caused weight gain, acne and dry hair, so she completely transformed her diet, and has never felt better.

These days, Messing starts her days off with a green juice that includes kale, spinach, ginger, lemon and cucumber, and limits or avoids caffeine, alcohol, gluten and sugar. Her diet typically features plenty of organic vegetables and other whole foods.

“[Juicing] really gave me more energy,” she said. “That made an obvious difference for me, in me feeling strong.”

Sugar-Free Diet Boosts Energy and Is Anti-Aging

The weight-loss and other health benefits of a sugar-free diet aren’t surprising to dietitian Brooke Alpert, author of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great.

“Sugar is compromising our health, making us fat, lazy, and ugly,” said Alpert, who said eliminating sugar promotes natural weight loss, sustained energy, and glowing skin.

While Messing is lean now, she gained 60 pounds during her 2004 pregnancy, and had a hard time losing all the weight. She said reading stories about other celebrity moms who lost their baby weight in record time threw her into a deep depression.

“The tabloids showed all the actresses who got skinny in six weeks or less, and on the other page was me!” she recalled. “I was so depressed and frustrated.”

Messing eventually lost the baby weight with a strict diet and rigorous workouts with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, creator of Core Secrets: 25 Minute Full Body Workout.

These days, Debra doesn’t like structured workouts, but prefers to stay fit by walking and leading an active lifestyle. “I don’t exercise,” she said. “That’s something I struggle with. I’m constantly walking. I’ll exercise in spurts, usually inspired by a dress I have to fit into.”

While most actresses dread aging, Debra embraces getting older, saying it has given her more confidence and self-acceptance.

“I know myself better than I ever have before,” said Messing, who divorced actor-screenwriter Daniel Zelman in 2012.”I feel more attractive now than I have in a long time. I feel healthier and stronger.”

Low-carb ketogenic diet beats low-fat diet for diabetes and weight loss

Low-carb, high-fat diets outperformed low-fat diets for managing and even reversing type 2 diabetes, reported.

According to an eight-year study conducted by the Second University of Naples, men and women who followed the low-carb, higher-fat Mediterranean diet were able to come off their diabetes drugs and reverse their diabetes symptoms more readily than people who followed a low-fat diet.

In the study, two groups of diabetic men and women were instructed to either follow a low-fat diet or a low-carb, high-fat Mediterranean diet that was comprised of at least 30% fat.

The results showed that the higher-fat, low-carb dieters were able to live without their diabetes medication for eight years, while the low-fat group required drugs after only six years.

What’s more, 15% of the low-carb, high-fat dieters experienced partial or complete remission of their diabetes within the first year, while only 5% of the low-fat dieters experienced partial or full remission. And after six years, 4% of the LCHF dieters experienced remission, while none of the low-fat dieters did.

Cardiologists: Unprocessed Saturated Fat Is Healthy

Ironically, diabetics have long been advised to follow a low-fat diet, but new research indicates that unprocessed saturated fats (like those in extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, salmon and avocados) can prevent and even reverse diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet is not technically a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet like the Atkins or ketogenic diets, where dietary fat can make up more than 70% of total caloric intake, but it’s definitely not a low-fat.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy fats, lean proteins, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. The diet is based on the traditional eating plans of Italian, Greek, Spanish, and other Mediterranean cultures, and is the diet followed by Spanish actress Penelope Cruz and TV star Brooke Burke Charvet, who recently overcame thyroid cancer.

Ketogenic Diet Beats Low-Fat Diet For Reversing Diabetes

Like the Mediterranean diet, the high-fat ketogenic diet beat the traditional low-fat, high-carb American diet for managing diabetes. A new study conducted by the University of California at San Francisco found that the LCHF ketogenic diet is better than the low-fat, high-carb Standard American Diet for reversing type 2 diabetes.

It was a small study involving 11 ketogenic dieters and 13 low-fat dieters, but the results were convincing. Some 64% of the ketogenic dieters were able to reduce their diabetes drugs, compared to 15% of the low-fat dieters. What’s more, the ketogenic dieters lost more weight than the low-fat dieters (12 pounds versus 5.7) despite eating more calories.

The ketogenic diet has soared in popularity recently, as new research indicates that unprocessed saturated fat has been wrongly blamed for causing weight gain, heart attacks and cancer.

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist, recently said the 40-year demonization of saturated fat was based on flawed data and that a high-carb diet is responsible for diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, high cholesterol, and early mortality.

“There is no conclusive proof that a low-fat diet has any positive effects on health,” DiNicolantonio wrote in BMJ. “The public fear that saturated fat raises cholesterol is completely unfounded.”

Neurologist Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, said the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet also prevents Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD. And Dr. Jeff Volek, a dietitian and professor at the University of Connecticut, said the ketogenic diet promotes rapid weight loss, and prevents heart disease and cancer.

“There are very few people that a ketogenic diet could not help,” said Volek, author of the Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living.

A Complete Diet Plan for Students to Achieve their Goal

The examination season may be over for now but the academic pressure continues year round. The late night study sessions may have come to an end for the time being but the eating habits you follow during these days have adverse affects on your health. To save time, many students end up feeding upon coffee, tea, pizzas, and burgers.
Your brain requires proper nutrition and energy while you study hard. In such a case, when you don’t eat a healthy diet it has ill effects in your health. Here are few tips which you must follow to have outstanding results on your academics as well as on your health.

Vitamin B and Iron

Make sure your diet includes vitamin B and iron in ample quantity. Foods like pulses, spinach, soybean, wheat, and eggs are high on vitamin B and iron content. It will help you stay re-charged mentally and physically.


Instead of popping pills for vitamins and iron supplements, start eating fruits which are high on nutritional value. For example, instead of eating a vitamin C pill, you can have an orange. It will not only fulfill your vitamin requirement but at the same time it is loaded with fibers and many other minerals.

Eat in Intervals

While you study rigorously for hours, you start feeling low on energy. But if you eat at regular intervals it will help you keep going and eventually will help you quit the habit of eating improper foods.

Eat Less

You don’t want to fall asleep during your study sessions. So, in order to avoid that situation eat in less quantity. Divide your 3 meals into 6 and in each meal eat less.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Breakfast before an examination is a must. Many studies have proven that skipping breakfast makes you lose focus. Students who eat their breakfast have a sharp memory and rarely forget anything. Your breakfast must consist of ample calcium, protein, and fiber. You can have cornflakes with a bowl filled with milk, fresh fruits, or vegetable salad.

Consume Anti-Oxidants

For a sharp memory and brain, eat as many anti-oxidants as possible. You can have bananas, blueberries, or sweet lime to have sufficient anti-oxidants.

Do not Skip Vegetables

Never skip eating green vegetables. Prefer dark coloured vegetables because darker the colour the higher nutritional value it has. You can add broccoli, spinach, and beetroot to your diet.

Have Liquid Diet

Drink lots of juices, green tea, and glucose drinks to stay fit all day long.

Along with a smart study plan you should also have a healthy diet plan to touch the heights. Eat healthy during exams and see the difference reflecting on your report cards.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

Read more on Diet and Nutrition.

Unwilling To Be An Obese Parent, Dave Douglas Lost 220 Pounds

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Name: Dave Douglas
Age: 36
Height: 6’1″
Before Weight: 400 pounds

How I Gained It: I’m a third-generation obese American who grew up fat. I was 250 pounds by age 16, and I didn’t stop there. While I had tried to lose weight with diet and exercise growing up, it never resulted in much. Being obese was a family affair, and I chose the love and security of my family over my personal health and fitness.

In college and my early adult life, I typically skipped breakfast. Lunch was optional and usually consisted of a small snack. I would then come home after a long day and eat a large dinner with dessert. I rarely ate fruit or vegetables. I loved eating hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

Breaking Point: My wife and I were pregnant with our first child. I knew I owed it to my son to try to break the family tree of obesity. There are so many compromises to being an obese parent: I was simply forfeiting the ability to participate in so many wonderful moments. I used to sweat so much before. I couldn’t fit in some amusement park rides. It is a tragedy to work so hard, only to find yourself too exhausted to enjoy your life.

How I Lost It: My weight-loss journey took more than eight years. I found wonderful success with the low-carb system. The biggest change was actually thinking about what I should eat. It was a big deal for me to be conscious about my health. I dropped from 400 pounds down to 225. Our second son came, and I soon found myself back at 250. I then spent two years working out with a personal trainer, but I never found a trainer I connected with. Despite the exercise, my weight continued to climb. I eventually realized that in order to lose weight, I needed to focus on my food choices first. Adding exercise to my life wouldn’t work if I was still unable to come to terms with my obesity and its relation to my food choices.

Finally, my doctor offered me the choice between gastric bypass or Weight Watchers. As a parent of two and a committed husband, I was unwilling to take the risk of the surgery, so I chose Weight Watchers online. While doing Weight Watchers, I abstained from all exercise. It was a really big shift to measure and document my food choices, but building that discipline has given me the freedom to eat anything I want. My favorite foods now are fresh fruits like apples, oranges and bananas, and carrots. Thanks to my incredible wife, the iPhone app and my relentless focus, I was able to finally achieve a healthy BMI on March 10, 2010.

I am full of energy now. At my all-time lowest weight of 165 pounds, I began to bring exercise back into my life. I quickly fell in love with running. I’ve now completed five marathons, reaching my goal of completing the 2014 L.A. Marathon in under four hours. I’m a totally different person now, and I love who I am. Running has given me additional confidence to be the man I want to be. I have reinvented who I am and no longer live under the shadows of being “the fat kid.” I am now committed to helping others during their weight-loss journey. I have begun a blog at and my mission is to help lose 1,000,000 pounds. I’ve already helped coworkers and friends lose over 500.

After Weight: 180 pounds

The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.

Check out more of our inspiring weight loss stories below:

As told to Sarah Klein.