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Healthy Snacks Are Important for Your Health

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

healthy snacks you can eat dailyHunger pangs can be a beast. Whether you get the munchies after school or work or your stomach starts growling at midnight, healthy snacks are essential to have around. Let’s face it, people get hungry. And the more active you are, the hungrier you get. Fortunately, choosing healthy snacks can help boost your energy levels throughout the day so you can tackle all the tasks you need to.

What Happens if You Do Not Eat Correctly?

Food is fuel. Without the right type of fuel, your car won’t run and neither will you. Unhealthy meals or snacks can make you feel lazy and may even lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Here are just some of the adverse effects that could occur if you don’t fuel your body correctly:

  1. Lack of Interest – You may lose interest in the things that used to make you happy.
  2. Depression – You might start to feel like life is not worth living.
  3. Disturbed Sleep – You might start sleeping too much or too little. Either way, this can cause a lot of problems. Your body cannot function correctly without the right amount of sleep.
  4. Difficulty Eating – If you’re not eating the right foods on a regular basis, you may struggle to eat at all or start overeating the wrong things. You may even begin to crave comfort foods and unhealthy snacks.
  5. Digestive Problems – If you don’t move around enough throughout the day, you may develop digestive issues such as excess gas and bloating, constipation, and indigestion.
  6. Feel agitated – When you lead a sedentary lifestyle as a result of a poor diet, you may start to become agitated more easily. Little things can set you off and quickly make you feel overwhelmed by problems.
  7. Lack Of Concentration – Without proper exercise, you will not be able to concentrate or focus on important daily tasks that need to be taken care of.
  8. Relationship Issues ­– People that sit around all day long eating junk food are not fun to be around. Therefore, a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle can cause problems with your relationships. You may start to isolate yourself so you don’t have to deal with other people.
  9. Work Problems – Eating poorly can make you feel unwell so you may miss a lot of work because of health issues. Eating unhealthy foods can lead to problems both at work and at home.

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome: The Hidden Danger of Unhealthy Snacks

Let’s go back to the idea of fuel. Just as your car will not run properly if you put the wrong fuel in, your body is similar. To understand the importance of putting the right fuel in your body—energy-boosting foods and healthy snacks—you need to understand how the Bioenergetic Circuit works.

When you eat, food is broken down in your stomach and sent through a series of long zigzagging tunnels that make up the intestinal tract. The small intestines and the large intestines help your body digest food and absorb nutrients. Within the Bioenergetic Circuit—made up of the liver, pancreas, and thyroid—various chemicals and hormones help transform food into energy. The pancreas makes insulin, which enables your body to digest sugars properly and the liver continually filters your blood to remove toxins.

NEM Bioenergetics Circuit and healthy snacksThe wrong foods can overwhelm your body and in particular, the Bioenergetic Circuit. Your liver may no longer work as an effective filter and your pancreas may stop producing enough insulin. If this occurs, signs of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) can start to appear. However, the symptoms are so subtle that most people don’t recognize them. You may just feel a bit more tired than usual or start to gain weight for no apparent reason. Your blood sugar levels might start to rise steadily, but unless your healthcare provider is checking this regularly, you may miss this indicator altogether.

Stress also affects the Bioenergetic Circuit since this circuit is an important part of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System. Both physical and mental stress increases your metabolism, which is achieved through the Bioenergetic circuit, to help you deal with the problem. This is why you often feel more energized during a sudden stressful event. But over time, this sudden surge of energy may become less and less if your body does not have enough fuel to produce this effect.

Eating Healthy Snacks is a Great Way to Give Your Body the Right Fuel

Proper nutrition is always important, but if you’re like most people, you probably rarely have time to prepare foods that are good for you. That’s why healthy snacks should be an essential part of your next shopping list. Here is a list of healthy snacks to try.

  1. Fruit – An organic apple, orange, or banana can be found in most grocery stores year-round. They are a quick way to give your body the energy it needs.
  2. Nuts – Almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. You can usually find them on their own or mixed. They are most delicious eaten raw and salted or unsalted.
  3. Cheese and Crackers – Cheeses and can make tasty and enjoyable healthy snacks. Plus, there are a huge variety to choose from. And since this snack requires a little bit of preparation, you’ll be forced to move your body too.
  4. Raisins and other Dried Fruits – Just like fresh fruit, dried versions make excellent healthy snacks including delicious dried cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, mangos, and raisins. Just be sure you select the ones without added sugar. Also, make sure you don’t overeat dried fruits since they contain more sugar than fresh fruit.

Sliced vegetables can be great healthy snacks

  1. Sliced Vegetables – Carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower are just some of the vegetables that can be easily prepared in advance to snack on during your busy workday. With all the vegetables to choose from, you’re certain to find one or two you love. Dipping raw vegetables in hummus can add even more nutritional value to these already healthy snacks.
  2. Oatmeal – Yes, it makes a delicious and quick breakfast, but oats are more versatile than just one meal of the day. They are full of fiber and can help you get over the munchies when you need to. Individual servings of oatmeal can be stored in your purse or desk drawer, ready for you whenever you get hungry.
  3. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches – You might feel like you’re nine years old again, but this healthy snack is for every age. But be sure to use raw nut butter and whole grain bread for a healthier version. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches don’t need to be refrigerated so you can carry them with you anywhere.
  4. Carrot Muffins – Sometimes you may want a hearty and filling snack. Carrot muffins (see recipe below) are a great way to enjoy a scrumptious and filling snack that is healthy for you too. These muffins can be made in advance and frozen so you can enjoy one or two at a time as needed. When you’re getting ready for your day, simply toss one of these frozen treats into your bag and it should thaw in only a few hours.

Exercise is Beneficial Too

Along with eating healthy snacks, you can also increase your energy through exercise.

  1. Walking – You can walk for as little or as long as you like. The point is to get up and get moving! Walking uses all the muscles in your body, which makes it beneficial to your health in many ways. Try to do a little bit of walking every day.
  2. Swimming – Going for a swim is another exercise that can be good for you. You can either swim laps or just walk through the water. Water-based activities like swimming are good for your heart and swimming regularly can boost your immune system.
  3. Dancing – Showing off your dance moves is a great way to get some exercise and will instantly make you feel a lot better. You can choose from all sorts of dancing styles. Getting dressed up and going out to dance is a highly enjoyable activity and a great way to meet people.

healthy snacks and child's play

  1. Playing with Children – Kids love to have fun. And playing with children can be an excellent form of exercise. You can get your body moving and have some fun at the same time.
  2. Decorating – If you are creative, you might find that decorating gets you up and provides some exercise. Why not use your imagination to improve your health. Play some music for even more enjoyment. Moving your muscles while decorating can be highly beneficial.
  3. Stair Climbing – If you don’t have access to a gym, you can use a set of stairs to exercise. Or simply choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator can make a huge difference to your health.
  4. Jumping Rope – This is an excellent activity for heart health. You may find you enjoy jumping rope for many reasons. It can take your mind back to when you were a kid and you’ll have fun while getting healthy.

A note of caution: If you are in the advanced stages of AFS, it’s important to be extra careful when taking up any form of exercise. It’s best to consult a healthcare professional before embarking on any new exercise program.

Conclusion

Healthy snacks don’t just taste good, they’re also good for your body. They can provide you with the energy that you need to lead a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is equally important. Healthy eating combined with regular exercise will help your NEM Stress Response System manage the many stressors your body faces every single day. Just remember, without the right fuel your body is at risk of developing, or worsening, symptoms of AFS. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a few healthy snacks and start enjoying something delicious and beneficial!

Try out this Carrot Muffin recipe for your healthy snack.

 
© Copyright 2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam's Key Question

The best healthy snacks are the ones you enjoy both eating and preparing. Grabbing a handful of grapes is easy and so is a package of instant oatmeal. Remember, choose things you like so you’ll be more inclined to eat them instead of reaching for unhealthy foods.

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