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Do you often feel tired and sluggish? Have you lost that get-up-and-go feeling? How often have you wished you could pack more into your day if only you had the energy? Life is frequently physically and mentally demanding, but it can also be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Naturally, there will always be difficult times and stressful situations that can leave you feeling drained, weary and lethargic, but the good news is that you can have control over how active and alert you feel. Simply by putting the right fuel into your body, you will be able to cope with much better with whatever life throws at you. Eat for vitality and you'll discover renewed zest for life, lots more stamina and a more positive outlook. Although it's very easy to recommend following a balanced diet, in reality diets and eating habits are frequently far from ideal. We rush from appointment to appointment, eat on the run, miss meals, dine out in restaurants or fast-food outlets and seldom stop to think about what we really should be eating. Also, because every individual is different, needs vary, so it is worth considering more closely which nutrients are particularly important in combating fatigue. The mineral iron is essential for the formation of red blood cells and therefore the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Anemia due to iron deficiency is a common problem in rapidly growing teenagers, women with heavy periods, pregnant women and vegetarians who cut out meat without including other good vegetarian sources of iron. Fish helps provide iron. Zinc deficiency can also contribute to fatigue and because red meat is the main source from which it is readily absorbed, vegetarians can be at risk if they do not include other sources, like eggs, wholegrain cereals, dried fruit, corn on the cob and sesame seeds. The B-group vitamins are crucial for their role in helping to release energy from blood. Vitamin B12 also helps protect against anemia. B-group vitamins are sensitive to heat and are water-soluble, so nutrient-friendly cooking methods should be followed. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron from vegetable sources. So, for example, drinking fresh orange or tomato juice with a vegetarian meal will increase the uptake of iron. All fruit and vegetables are sources of vitamin C. Like the B-group vitamins, vitamin C is also unstable and it is easily destroyed, so it pays to be a careful cook. Vitamin E also improves the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and helps to increase stamina. Good sources of this vitamin include vegetable oils, wheatgerm, eggs, wholemeal bread and nuts. The key to maximum energy is keeping the blood-sugar level constant. The best foods for doing this are complex, unrefined carbohydrates - wholegrain cereals, pulses, starchy fruit and vegetables - because they are digested more slowly and release a steady stream of sugar into the

blood. These foods are also a good source of dietary fibre, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. It is important to eat regular meals and not to skip breakfast. The body needs fuel in the morning after its long overnight break. It is also true that those who fail to eat something sustaining for breakfast are much more likely to snack on whatever is quickest and closest to hand mid-morning, which is unlikely to be a good nutritional choice.

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