Silent Signs Your Body Craves a Diet Tweak

Reader's Digest International - - Contents - BY MARISSA LALIBERTE

Signs You’re Get­ting Too Much …

COF­FEE: Stopping at Star­bucks is of­ten eas­ier than get­ting a solid night of sleep, but jit­ters, a rac­ing heart, and sleep­less­ness are all un­de­ni­able signs of too much caf­feine. Plus, com­pounds in java such as caf­feine and cat­e­chols can ir­ri­tate the stom­ach, leav­ing you with heart­burn and belly­aches.

CHEESE: Your fa­vorite com­fort food in­gre­di­ent is loaded with sat­u­rated fat—the “bad” fat linked to for­get­ful­ness. One study found that women over 65 who ate the most sat­u­rated fat had the worst mem­o­ries over four years. Sat­u­rated fat also takes a long time to digest, caus­ing ex­cess stom­ach acid to splash back into your esoph­a­gus; keep track of your heart­burn symp­toms and cheese con­sump­tion to see if they’re con­nected. For the creami­ness you crave, re­place some cheese with pureed white beans in recipes.

SU­GAR: No need to wait for a den­tist to break the news—just look to your en­ergy lev­els and mood. Di­etary su­gar spikes blood su­gar, leav­ing you wiped out af­ter it comes down; fre­quent spikes can up the risk of de­pres­sion. High blood pres­sure is an­other clue. Check nu­tri­tion la­bels for sneaky su­gar in foods like yo­gurt, salad dress­ing, and ce­real.

SALT: Who knew? Too much salt can leave you foggy-brained. A Cana­dian study found that seden­tary adults with high-sodium di­ets had a higher risk of cog­ni­tive de­cline. Cut down on salt by choos­ing fresh foods over pack­aged ones—for ex­am­ple, put left­over home-cooked turkey on your sand­wich in­stead of deli meat. And about that salt­shaker—sprin­kling on just half a tea­spoon adds nearly 1,200 mil­ligrams, at least half of the rec­om­mended daily max­i­mum.

Signs You’re Get­ting Too Lit­tle …

LEAN MEAT: This one is for the veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans out there. Swelling an­kles and feet can in­di­cate an ex­treme de­fi­ciency in pro­tein, which helps keep salt and wa­ter from seep­ing into sur­round­ing tis­sue. And too lit­tle vi­ta­min B12, which is found al­most solely in animal prod­ucts, can leave you ex­hausted and pale from ane­mia, a con­di­tion in which your blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxy­gen through your body. If you’ve sworn off meat, choose more for­ti­fied grains that con­tain vi­ta­min B12. And bean-based en­trées are a great way to pile up pro­tein.

OLIVE OIL: If you’re feel­ing drained or con­stantly hun­gry, you may need more “good” fats, like the mo­noun­sat­u­rates found in olive oil, which make you feel full longer.

Can’t fo­cus? Mo­noun­sat­u­rated fats also boost pro­duc­tion of the neu­ro­trans­mit­ter acetyl­choline, which helps you learn and re­mem­ber in­for­ma­tion. Plus, fats hold in warmth and mois­ture, which is why con­stant chills and dry skin could mean your body needs more for in­su­la­tion.

SALMON: This fish’s omega-3 fatty acids get all the health glory, even three ounces of canned salmon de­liver 100 per­cent of your rec­om­mended daily vi­ta­min D, which is oth­er­wise hard to find in food. Your body also makes vi­ta­min D from sun­light but that is go­ing to be in short sup­ply in the com­ing months. Signs that you’re not get­ting enough vi­ta­min D? A fore­head that seems to sweat even with­out ex­er­cis­ing or feel­ing over­heated; achy bones, mus­cles, and joints; and a cold you can’t shake, are all signs you may need more of this vi­tal boost to your bone-build­ing and im­mune sys­tems.

LENTILS: Con­sti­pated? You might not be get­ting enough fiber, which reg­u­lates bowel move­ments and helps food move more quickly through your sys­tem. Jeans get­ting tighter too? Fiber helps you feel full longer, which is key to stay­ing slim. Re­searchers have also linked a low-fiber diet with di­ver­ti­c­uli­tis, a con­di­tion that causes pain and ir­ri­ta­tion in the large in­tes­tine, lead­ing to bloat­ing, di­ar­rhea, vom­it­ing, and fever. A half cup of lentils has nearly twice as much fiber as an ap­ple.

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