Greedy businessman cutting planet Earth

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Every year the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) presents the latest leading causes of death in the United States. This includes a robust analysis of the causes of death, and their breakdown in different states, genders and populations [1]. The goal of this post is not to focus on this morbid statistics. As always in Nutrino, we like to focus on the impact nutrition has. So today, we will ask ourselves (and the data…) a very important question: which of our top killers can be prevented by smart nutrition?

CDC reports from the last few years show that the top 15 leading causes of death remain mostly fixed in recent years [1]. They are (in this order):

1. Diseases of heart
2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (emphysema)
4. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6. Alzheimer’s disease
7. Diabetes mellitus
8. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney failure)
9. Influenza and pneumonia
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide)
11. Septicemia (blood infection)
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13. Essential hypertension (high blood pressure)
14. Parkinson’s disease
15. Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids (lung disease)

Separating the leading causes of death according to gender reveals nearly the same list but in a different order. Men are more prone to die from unintentional injuries than women (guys – let’s not get reckless…).

Leading causes of death in the U.S.


1 out of every 2 Americans die from either heart disease or cancer. Together with strokes, these three diseases kill more people than all the other causes of death combined. It is very easy to think about this as only numbers. But they are not just numbers. Every one of us knows someone who suffered from these terrible diseases. Think about it.

A study from the UCSF proved that about 82% of heart diseases and strokes are preventable and even reversible by smart nutrition [2]. About half of cancer cases are preventable by smart nutrition as well, depending on the type of cancer [3].

Do the math to find out the following mind blowing fact:

Bad nutrition is the #1 cause of death in the United States

Similar statistics by the World Health Organization shows that the same is true for the rest of the western world [4].

But this is not everything. The food that you eat is actually much more powerful than you would imagine. In fact, smart nutrition is capable of preventing 14 out of our 15 top killers (the 14 are bolded above). Moreover, in many cases it is capable of reversing 5 of our 15 top killers (heart attacks, cancer, emphysema, diabetes and hypertension) [4].

This is an important story to tell, as it means that you have great control over your health. This is why I recommend sharing these figures with your friends and family – who knows, you may save lives!

So here is a great idea: let’s start eating healthy! I know it’s hard, as there are many temptations. We are surrounded with junk food all the time. But remember, healthy food is a pleasure. It is the only food that doesn’t only nourish your taste buds but actually nourishes your entire body. Not sure where to start? Just download Nutrino. We are here for you.

As a side note I just have to add that the story of bad nutrition as was told here is actually the reason why we founded Nutrino.


[1] Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2010, Center of Disease Control and Prevention

[2] Ornish, Dean, et al. “Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?: The Lifestyle Heart Trial.” The Lancet 336.8708 (1990): 129-133.

[3] Anand, Preetha, et al. “Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes.” Pharmaceutical research 25.9 (2008): 2097-2116.

[4] Leading causes of Death, The World Health Organization

[5] Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, Dr. Michael Greger, 2012

health axiom, move more, eat food, drink water, exercise is medicine,get more sleep,wash your hands

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How many times have you said that 24 hours a day are simply not enough? Do you feel like you need more hours to finish everything you need to do?

We all have our daily routines. Many of us actually sleep less to have more time to do the things we wish to do. However, doing so is a slippery slope. The quality of your sleep highly affects your productiveness, and by sleeping less to have more time, we may end up being less productive and to do less than we could have if we had slept better.

Studies show that health is influenced significantly by the quality and duration of our sleep [1]. Sleep deprivation

1. Affects the way your body processes and stores carbs, and alters the levels of the hormones that affect your appetite. This is why insufficient sleep typically means desiring sweets or simple carbs, and consequently weight gain.
2. May result in moodiness, irritability, impatience and inability to concentrate.
3. May diminish your antioxidant levels and weaken your immune system.

On the other hand, sleeping sufficiently

1. Helps the brain to process and commit the information you have learned during the day.
2. Is correlated with reduced risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

So how many hours should you sleep?

A Japanese study [2] on nearly 100,000 people analyzed how their sleeping habits correlate with longevity and heart disease. They discovered that 7 hours of sleep a night maximizes health and longevity in the general population.

Just as everything else in health, this is a general result that is based on statistics and should be taken with a grain of salt. Some of us may need more hours of sleep to feel better, while others may require less.

The TED talk below is a great and short video to learn why we sleep, how to determine how much you should sleep and why sleeping is so essential. Enjoy!


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The Health Axioms were created by Involution Studios, and are shared according to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.


health axiom, move more, eat food, drink water, exercise is medicine,get more sleep,wash your hands

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Exercise is medicine. It really is! It can help you control your weight, improve your mood, reduce your chances of getting sick, boost your energy, promote better sleep, improve your sex life and very importantly – it is fun [1,2]! Swimming, running, Pilates, Yoga, Kettlebell, TRX, dancing, biking, kick-boxing, Judo, Karate, jogging, climbing, Zumba, tennis and so many other options are available for you to improve your lifestyle.

The minimum recommended time of weekly exercising is 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like fast walking or cycling) or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like running) and 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities. You can also mix it and do moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity with muscle-strengthening activities [3,4].

Try to find what works for you. If it’s to vary your week with different types of exercise or stick to a routine workout plan. Work out in the morning before you go to work or at night before you go to sleep, work out at the park or at the gym, work out with a friend or by yourself.

Just don’t give up! If you didn’t like certain activities it doesn’t mean you don’t like to workout at all. It just means that you haven’t found what works best for you. Remember that there are tens of types of exercises and there must be something you’d enjoy!

04_ExerciseIsMedicine 04_ExerciseIsMedicine (1)



The Health Axioms were created by Involution Studios, and are shared according to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.


Iron anemia is the #1 nutrient deficiency in the world

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Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional deficiency in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people (over 30% of the world’s population) are anemic, most of which due to iron deficiency [1]. So why is iron so important? What should you do to make sure you consume enough of it?

Iron is an essential mineral (meaning that this mineral is required for the body to function normally and that it must be obtained from a dietary source). It is used in hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the cells. However, among the many essential minerals like calcium, sodium, zinc, iron has a unique place: it is very difficult for the body to regulate its consumption [2]. This means that unlike calcium, for example, which is excreted in the urine, excess iron may remain in the body.

This makes iron a double-edged sword. Don’t absorb enough of it, and you risk anemia, which can lead to a range of problems from fatigue to death. Absorb too much, and you increase your risk of hemochromatosiscolorectal cancer, heart disease, infection, neurodegenerative disorders and inflammatory conditions [3]. Excess iron can have negative effects because iron is a pro-oxidant (the opposite of antioxidant which are great for you). Pro-oxidants may induce oxidative stress and DNA damage (and may explain why meat consumption has been tied to breast cancer risk, as meat is high in iron). Several other conditions that are have been associated with high iron intake include Alzheimer, Parkinson, arthritis, and diabetes, but more research is needed to understand how these diseases are connected to iron.

So where should we get iron from?

There are two forms of iron in food: heme and non-heme.

Heme iron is only found in animal-based foods (about 40% of the iron in meat, poultry and fish is heme). It is typically absorbed better than non-heme iron. However, our digestive system cannot regulate heme iron at all, and it is easy to over-consume it whether we need it or not [4].

Non-heme iron is found in both animal-based and plant-based foods (100% of the iron in plants is non-heme and about 60% of the iron in meat, poultry and fish). Non-heme iron can be regulated by our digestive systems. Thus, if our iron stores are low, our intestines enhance its absorption. If our iron stores are too high, our intestines block non-heme iron absorption to maintain us in the healthy range. Therefore, non-heme iron is typically safer for consumption.

The best sources of non-heme iron are legumes (the best ones are soybeans, lentils, tofu, chickpeas and beans – in this order), dried leafy greens (the best ones are Swiss chard, turnip greens and beet greens), nuts and seeds (the best ones are pumpkin seeds and whole sesame paste. The later is packed with 2.4 milligrams of iron in only one tablespoon!). Contrary to common believe, spinach is not a good source of iron. Spinach is indeed rich in iron, but it also contains iron absorption-inhibiting substances: so Popeye tricked us all this time! Oh yeah, and great news, dark chocolate and cocoa powder are other good sources of non-heme iron.

Popeye's spinach prohibit the absorption of iron

The Nutrino team recommends consuming at least two servings of legumes daily (beans, lentils or peas). There are many other good reasons to eat legumes, as legumes are one of the things most 100-year olds have in common and seem to be highly correlated with longevity. In addition, we recommend at least one handful of nuts and/or seeds and no more than one serving of meat a day to avoid overconsumption of iron.

How can I improve iron absorption?

The most important factor in absorbing iron is vitamin C, so you should complement your meals with vitamin C-rich foods (such as citrus fruit, berries, tropical fruit, peppers, cauliflower and other green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts).

In one study, researchers gave patients 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day after meals. They concluded that vitamin C is more effective at increasing iron status than supplements [5]. In another study researchers found a drastic improvement in anemia only by adding 100 mg vitamin C at both lunch and dinner [6].

On the other hand, there are foods that impair iron absorption. These include dairy products and milk, coffee, black and green tea [7]. It is therefore recommended to avoid them with your iron-rich meals.

What about vegetarians and vegans?

Vegetarians and vegans are considered to be a risk group for anemia [8]. If you belong to this group, you should be make sure to consume foods that are high in iron and vitamin C (see above).

Here is a list of good sources of iron for vegans and vegetarians:

1 cup lentils = 6.6 mg
1 cup white beans = 4.8 mg
1 cup soy beans = 3.6 mg
1 cup garbanzos = 3.6 mg
100 grams tofu = 1.9 mg
1 cup soy milk = 1.1 mg
1 cup quinoa = 2.8 mg
1/2 cup oatmeal = 7 mg
1 cup brown rice = 1 mg
1 cup parsley = 3.8 mg
1 tbsp spirulina = 5 mg
100 grams dried apricot = 6.3 mg
Nuts & seeds
1 ounce pumpkin seeds = 1.6 mg
1 tbsp sesame paste = 1 mg
Example: 1 cup legume (for example garbanzos) + 1 cup soy milk + 1 cup quinoa + 1 cup parsley + 3 tbsp sesame paste = 17.8 mg

Is it worthwhile taking iron supplements?

Only people with a confirmed diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia should consider using supplements, and even then it can be risky. A recent study found a significant increase in oxidative stress within the bodies of women on iron supplements [9]. So before going on supplements, talk to your physician about trying to treat it through diet alone, by eating lots of healthy foods rich with iron and vitamin C (see the previous questions).


Other sources


[1] World Health Organization on micronutrient deficiency

[2] Sharp PA. Intestinal iron absorption: regulation by dietary & systemic factors. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2010 Oct; 80(4-5):231-42. 

[3] Geissler C, Singh M. Iron, meat and health. Nutrients. 2011 Mar; 3(3):283-316. 

[4] West AR, Oates PS. Mechanisms of heme iron absorption: current questions and controversies. World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Jul 14; 14(26):4101-10. 

[5] Sharma, DINESH C., and R. A. T. I. Mathur. “Correction of anemia and iron deficiency in vegetarians by administration of ascorbic acid.” Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology 39 (1995): 403-406.

[6] Seshadri, S., A. Shah, and S. Bhade. “Haematologic response of anaemic preschool children to ascorbic acid supplementation.” Human nutrition. Applied nutrition 39, no. 2 (1985): 151-154.

[7] Hallberg, L., L. Rossander-Hulten, M. Brune, and A. Gleerup. “Calcium and iron absorption: mechanism of action and nutritional importance.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 46, no. 5 (1992): 317-327.

[8] Herrmann, Wolfgang, Heike Schorr, Rima Obeid, and Jürgen Geisel. “Vitamin B-12 status, particularly holotranscobalamin II and methylmalonic acid concentrations, and hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 78, no. 1 (2003): 131-136.

[9] Steele TM, Frazer DM, Anderson GJ. Systemic regulation of intestinal iron absorption. IUBMB Life. 2005 Jul; 57(7):499-503. 

What is the healthiest sweetener?

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Sweeteners are an essential part of practically any cuisine. After all, in all traditions and cultures people enjoy the sweet taste of a good cake or a dessert. Sweeteners are usually simple carbs and don’t provide the body with any essential nutrients. However, if you had to use only one sweetener in the dessert you are making, what should it be? Which is the healthiest sweetener? Is it agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, date sugar, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, raw cane sugar, plain old sugar, or turbinado sugar? There are two sweeteners that have some significant nutrition, while the rest are pretty much a wash.

To know the answer and learn more, watch this 5 minute video:




Video courtesy of Dr. Michael Greger and


[1] M. P. Katherine and H. C. Monica. Total antioxidant content of alternatives to refined sugar. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jan;109(1):64-71.

health axiom, move more, eat food, drink water, exercise is medicine,get more sleep,wash your hands

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Water is essential for the human body. The human body is made up of 50-70 percent water, depends on age, gender, weight and health. Water has many important utilities in our body: transfer nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) and oxygen to cells, remove byproducts and toxins that the organ cells reject, part of the biochemical break down of what we eat, regulate body temperature through sweating, help energize muscles, an effective lubricant around joints, moisturize the skin to maintain its texture and appearance and much more [1,2].

Most mature adults lose an average of 2.5-3 liters water per day. Our body barely produces water so we need to supply it with water. The amount we need depends on our body size, metabolism, the weather, the food we eat and our activity levels. The best way to supply the body with water is to drink water (and not sweet beverages that contain stuff you don’t want to put in your body! :)). Fruits and vegetables contain 80-95 percent water [3] and therefore are a good source as well.


Tips to help you drink more:

1. Keep a bottle of water with you every where you go. If it’s to your office, to school or when you drive.
2. Have a cup of water with every snack and meal.
3. When you exercise have a bottle of water with you, that way you’ll be able to drink comfortably and be aware if you drink enough.
4. Put a glass of water near your bed before you go to sleep, it will remind you to drink water when you’ll wake up.

03_DrinkWater (1) 03_DrinkWater



Recommended daily fluid intake* [4]:

age female male
18+ 2.1 liters (about 8 cups) 2.6 liters (about 10 cups)
14-18 1.6 liters (about 6 cups) 1.9 liters (about 7-8 cups)
9-13 1.4 liters (about 5-6 cups) 1.6 liters (about 6 cups)
4-8 1.2 liters (about 5 cups) 1.2 liters (about 5 cups)
1-3 1.0 liters (about 4 cups) 1.0 liters (about 4 cups)
7-12 months 0.9 liters (including breastmilk) 0.9 liters (including breastmilk)
0-6 months 0.7 liters (including breastmilk) 0.7 liters (including breastmilk)


* Recommended daily fluid intake may change depends on body size, metabolism, the weather, the food we eat and our activity levels.


The Health Axioms were created by Involution Studios, and are shared according to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.


healthy cooking to live longer

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Modern Americans are described as eating breakfast in their cars, lunch at their desks and chicken from a bucket. Within the last few decades Americans are eating out more and more and cooking fewer meals at home. One of the problems is that many people no longer know how to cook in general or how to make healthy food taste good in particular. But is there any research showing that cooking meals at home actually improves outcomes? Do people who cook live longer?

Researchers in Taiwan lately found that those who cook their own food are healthier and live longer. To learn why watch this 4 minute video from



Not sure how to cook healthy? Use the Nutrino app to learn how to cook thousands of healthy and delicious meals!



Video courtesy of Dr. Michael Greger and


[1] M Reicks, A C Trofholz, J S Stang, M N Laska. Impact of Cooking and Home Food Preparation Interventions Among Adults: Outcomes and Implications for Future Programs. J Nutr Educ Behav 2014.

[2] L P Smith, S W Ng, B M Popkin. Resistant to the Recession: Low-Income Adults Maintenance of Cooking and Away-From-Home Eating Behaviors During Times of Economic Turbulence. Am J Public Health 2014 104(5):840 – 846.

[3] J M Poti, B M Popkin. Trends in energy intake among US children by eating location and food source, 1977-2006. J Am Diet Assoc 2011 111(8):1156 – 1164.

[4] R Engler-Stringer. Food, cooking skills, and health: A literature review. Can J Diet Pract Res 2010 71(3):141 – 145.

[5] M E Beck. Dinner preparation in the modern United States. British Food Journal 2007 109(7):531 – 547.

[6] A Yngve, M Tseng, A Hodge, G McNeill, I Haapala. Cooking in this issue–back to basics! Public Health Nutr 2012 15(7):1141.

[7] S Howard, J Adams, M White. Nutritional content of supermarket ready meals and recipes by television chefs in the United Kingdom: Cross sectional study. BMJ 2012 345:e7607.

[8] R C Y Chen, M S Lee, Y H Chang, M L Wahlqvist. Cooking frequency may enhance survival in Taiwanese elderly. Public Health Nutr 2012 15(7):1142 – 1149.

[9] R Erlich, A Yngve, M L Wahlqvist. Cooking as a healthy behaviour. Public Health Nutr 2012 15(7):1139 – 1140.

[10] JAMA 1913. Pure food well cooked. JAMA 2013 309(21):2192.

[11] B Lin, J Guthrie. Nutritional Quality of Food Prepared at Home and Away From Home. 1977-2008. USDA 2012 1 – 24.

[12] LAL Soliah, JM Walter, SA Jones.Benefits and Barriers to Healthful Eating What Are the Consequences of Decreased Food Preparation Ability? AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE March/April 2012 vol. 6 no. 2 152-158.

What drives the obesity epidemic?

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The problem of obesity is growing in western countries like never before [1]. Our three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer and strokes are strongly correlated with obesity. Today we will discuss a very difficult question: what drives the obesity epidemic?

Obesity in the developing world

The premise of this post is that the way we typically think of weight gain is fundamentally flawed.

The conventional wisdom says that every individual needs to consume a certain amount of energy (measured in calories) every day to maintain body weight [2]. The number of calories a person should eat for normal body function (called Basal Metabolic Rate – BMR) depends on the physical needs of that individual. Then the math is simple, take the total calories you eat a day, subtract from it the amount of calories you burn, if the difference is higher than your BMR then you will gain weight. If it is lower, you will lose weight. So to maintain your current weight, you must satisfy the equation:

(calories consumed) – (calories burned in exercise) = (calories recommend for basic body function)

According to this approach, obesity is just an energy balance disorder. So either obese people consume too many calories or their lifestyle doesn’t allow them to burn sufficient calories. We have already discussed studies that showed that excessive consumption of calories from certain foods don’t seem to lead to weight gain, in contrary to the common wisdom. In the future we will dive further into this question and show how problematic the caloric theory is.

A second hypothesis is that human beings should not eat certain foods. According to this hypothesis obesity is a growth disorder, which is triggered by certain foods in our diet that cause hormonal or enzymatic disorders. If this approach is correct, it wouldn’t matter how many calories you eat, as long as you eat the ‘right’ foods (whatever they are) you will not get overweight.

There are more approaches to this difficult question. A third hypothesis claims that the macronutrient content of our diet (protein, fat and carbs) influences fat accumulation. So according to this approach what matters is the macronutrients you eat, independently again of the total caloric intake. Other approaches claim that other environmental factors and not necessarily the food itself is what causing obesity [3-4].

There are dozens of studies trying to differentiate the hypothesis [5] and find the answer to this important question: what drives the obesity epidemic? Unfortunately, the evidence is still inconclusive. We still don’t have the answer to this question! This is a significant part of the problem of conflicting nutritional advice which we discussed last time.

But look what happened. The first approach produced a whole industry of nutrition apps that serve as calorie counters. All they do is make sure you don’t eat too many calories independently of the kind of food you eat. The second and third approaches created the diet industry. Today there are hundreds of different diets that recommend you should avoid certain foods (e.g. paleo diet, vegan diet) and/or nutrients (e.g. low fat diet, low carbs diet) typically without regarding your caloric intake [6].

I personally don’t believe neither of these approaches as a standalone philosophy for health. The first approach fails in many cases like the one I discussed on nuts. The second and third approaches are also problematic, as they assume that all human-beings should eat the same things to maintain a healthy weight. Last year some preliminary studies started testing a more personalized approach to nutrition, which seems very promising [7].

So what should you do?

We are not going to have the answer in the next two years. For now, I recommend everybody to take responsibility for your own health and body. Instead of tediously counting calories, just don’t eat too much. Eat real food, mostly plants. Listen to your body, and most importantly download Nutrino;)


[1] The World Health Organization fact sheet on obesity and weight gain

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Weight

[3] Dirinck, Eveline, et al. “Obesity and persistent organic pollutants: possible obesogenic effect of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls.”Obesity 19.4 (2011): 709-714.

[4] Tremblay, A., et al. “Thermogenesis and weight loss in obese individuals: a primary association with organochlorine pollution.” International journal of obesity 28.7 (2004): 936-939.

[5] NuSi: Review of the Literature on Obesity


[7] The Personalized Nutrition Project

best cooking method

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What is the best cooking method to maximize nutrient consumption? Which are the gentlest cooking methods for preserving nutrients: baking, frying, boiling, microwaving, griddling or pressure cooking? It is well-known that most foods lose vitamins after you cook them, but which vegetables have more antioxidants cooked than raw? Which vegetable loses most of its nutrients when cooked and which vegetables increase in antioxidant value no matter how you cook them?

Watch a 4-minute video to find the answers.


Video courtesy of Dr. Michael Greger and


[1] Howard LR, Castrodale C, Brownmiller C, Mauromoustakos A. Jam processing and storage effects on blueberry polyphenolics and antioxidant capacity. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):4022-9.

[2] Jiménez-Monreal AM, García-Diz L, Martínez-Tomé M, Mariscal M, Murcia MA. Influence of cooking methods on antioxidant activity of vegetables. J Food Sci. 2009 Apr;74(3):H97-H103.

health axiom, move more, eat food, drink water, exercise is medicine,get more sleep,wash your hands

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“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto


Eat food – eat real food. The more colorful, fresh, seasonal and varied the food is, the better. The less processed the food is, the better. Healthy real food contains the minerals and vitamins you need. Don’t get full of candies, cakes, cookies or sweet beverages.

Not too much – it’s better to stop eating before you get full. It typically takes the body several minutes to tell your brain that you are full. We recommend to stop eating a few bites before you get completely full. Try it, and you’ll see a few minutes later that you feel full but not heavy (this sounds contradictory – but just try it!)

Mostly plants – vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals and vitamins. Eating vegetables, especially greens, and fruits will make you feel full but light after your meal. Their high level of fiber and antioxidants will improve your health and your body’s metabolism.


Reasonable amounts of food in your meals, including a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds and grains will help you improve your health!

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The Health Axioms were created by Involution Studios, and are shared according to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.