Apr 092014
 

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We all want to live longer, healthier lives. When I realized that this was National Public Health Week I thought what better time to introduce some great tips to do just that. I just discovered a delightful book by Dr. Maoshing Ni, Secrets of Longevity ~ Hundreds of Ways to Live To Be 100. downloadThis book uses no diets, no drugs, simply sharing an abundance of knowledge about both Eastern and Western medicine.

One of his tips include what I do every day ~ choose natural vitamins, not petrochemical pills. Many vitamins are synthetic, made from petrochemicals that have very little biological activity. And that means that what people consume is excreted from the bladder and bowels before being metaboloized. He includes in this tip, of course, to consider eating a nutritious and varied diet, rich in whole foods.

Another tip is concerning stroke. Have you or someone you know suffered from this? He states that an often unrecognized side effect of a stroke is lowered bone density, especially on the side that was more affected by the stroke. A study of post-stroke patients showed decreased levels of vitamin D3 and an increased risk of hip fractures. The group given D3 showed significantly improved bone mineral density over the untreated group and had fewer fractures. To avoid a broken hip ~ recovering from which is another arduous task that can debilitate your body’s healing mechanisms ~ take Vitamin D3 supplements if you suffer a stroke.

An interesting tip about Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) ~ Ni states that it plays a key role of converting our food into cellular energy and is a very special compound because, unlike other antioxidants, which only work in either water or fatty environments, this one functions in both. When the body uses up vitamins C and E during times of stress, ALA converts the by-products into new antioxidant compounds, thus “recycling” the vitamins. Alpha-lipoic acid prevents the type of nerve damage seen in diabetes and aging-related ailments such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases; it also helps ward off cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and diabetes.

I loved this one ~ to slim down ~ fill up with soup! Ni says to eat soup at least once a day, one that is low in salt and rehydrates as it nourishes and flushes waste from the body. Bottom line…people who eat one or more bowls of soup each day lose more weight than those who eat the same number of calories but don’t eat soup. Homemade is best, as canned soups are loaded with salts and chemicals.

Hope I have tempted you enough with these little tidbits of healthy information that you will invest in the book. Getting back to what is being celebrated this week, the American Public Health Association creates new National Public Health Week materials each year that can be used during and after this week to raise awareness about public health and prevention.

Studies have shown that 7 out of every 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer with 75% of the nation’s health care dollars being spent to treat these diseases and only 3% of healthcare dollars going towards prevention. Simply by encouraging people to make healthier choices (such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, keeping active and eating a healthy diet) these preventable diseases can begin to diminish. That is what this week (and even perhaps reading and following Dr. Ni’s great healthy tips) is all about. What about you? What is your prevention plan?

 Posted by at 6:46 pm
Mar 172014
 

download Since March is National Kidney Month, I thought it would be helpful to list those diseases which can create kidney problems.

44 percent of people starting dialysis have kidney failure caused by diabetes. It is actually the leading cause of kidney failure. Other diseases that contribute to kidney failure are high blood pressure (second leading cause of kidney failure)  and heart disease. A family history of kidney failure also contributes. Early kidney disease has no signs or symptoms.

So how can we keep our kidneys healthy? According to NKDEP (National Kidney Disease Educational Program) these are the suggestions: The most important thing is to get your blood and urine checked for kidney disease and manage your diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. They then suggest the following:

  • Keep your blood pressure at the target set by your health care provider. This can delay or prevent kidney failure.
  • If you have diabetes, control your blood glucose level.
  • Keep your cholesterol levels in the target range.
  • Take medicines the way your provider tells you to. (Important! Certain blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors and ARBs may protect your kidneys. Ask your health care provider for more information.)
  • Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.
  • Choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Be more physically active.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • If you smoke, take steps to quit. Cigarette smoking can make kidney damage worse.

 Here are two tests to make sure to take:

So this may be a wake-up call for some of you. I hope you take these suggestions to heart, and practice prevention in your own journey to health.

Mar 112014
 

imagesWe’ve often heard the statement that in the United States health care would be better termed “disease” care.   Our doctors and hospitals are more rewarded for diagnosing and treating illnesses than working with the patients in developing strategies for prevention.  But that is soon to be changed.

Some of the key benefits and rights under the Affordable Care Act include preventative screenings, checkups and tests and are now being offered for free under the new law.   Prior to the Affordable Care  Act,  women’s insurance costs were higher than men’s.  That disparity was something U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed head-on during her recent trip to central Florida.  “Women cannot be charged more than men just because of their gender,” Sebelius said. “I like to say that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.”

 

The offering of these preventative tests, checkups and screenings will only be effective, of course,  if individuals choose to take advantage of them. It comes at no cost. To learn more about what is available go to this link.

“Wellness and prevention are the key to keeping health care costs low in the future,” said Jason Altmire, Florida Blue’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Government and Community Affairs.

The responsibility lies with us with regard to accessing these free benefits now available to us. Exercise in our daily routine,  along with a healthy diet,  and avoiding processed and fast foods of course help as well.  I chose to supplement my diet 20 years ago to make sure I was getting adequate nutrition. Raised in a family where heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis were prevalent, I do attribute my good health and energy (at 71 I am still prescription-free) to this decision.  Healthy cells make healthy tissue which makes healthy organs which make healthy bodies.  And that is what we all want. Prevention is the key!

 

Mar 062014
 

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National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Here is how one community is trying to make a difference in the choices they have for the children in their schools:

WTRF 7 News Sports Weather – Wheeling Steubenville

Having worked at one time in a school cafeteria, I know how challenging this is. We had very little fresh fruit and vegetables available; everything came from a can or from a freezer. A lot of the food we prepared was dumped into the large cans designated to go to the local pig farm. (I often felt that I was preparing food each day for the pigs!) I did not blame the children for this; veggies from a can do not taste good! Anytime a school can access local farms for the produce that can be served fresh that day can make a real difference in both nutrition and in tasting good. I am so happy to see that these schools are incorporating that in their school lunch program.

We all know that poor eating habits lead to a less than healthy lifestyle. In 1900 our life expectancy was not even 50 years simply because of infections and diseases. Now, with those eliminated, our lives are simply shortened due to degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. Degenerative diseases are those diseases that develop with age. But did you know that over 60% of all deaths are diet-related? Simply put, that means that over 5 people in America die every 2 minutes from something that eating correctly could have prevented completely or at least put off into the future.

Simply by choosing the right foods that will help prevent those diseases and making sure we get enough nutrients into our diet each day, including fiber, carotenoids, antioxidants, specific vegetables ~ all protector foods ~ not junk food, fast food, and processed foods ~ can make a huge difference in the quality of our life (and life expectancy).

Our health is truly in our own hands. Fortunately, 20 years ago I was introduced to food supplements that were not processed with chemicals and excessive heat that would destroy the nutritive value. Taking these every day (as my own personal insurance policy) along with a nutritious diet, I am now 71, prescription-free, and feel great. We all have the choice each day when it comes to what we eat (except when we are children, of course). We are in control of our own health. It is a big responsibility! And as we honor National Nutrition Month in March, it is a good reminder to us all to eat those “protector” foods each and every day.

Feb 202014
 

snow on branch

I still remember my father’s breakfast ……it was always the same…….bacon, eggs, toast and black coffee.  I never thought anything about it until I began to study nutrition later in life.  My father lost his life to a heart attack ~ actually, he had his first attack at 42.  His doctor told him to change his diet, stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, exercise, lose weight, stop being stressed……none of these things my father could do; as a result, he passed away from a massive heart attack when he was only 52 years old.  Now that my own son is almost that age, I find it unbelievable that he died so young.  I feel like my son has his whole future ahead of him, lots of adventures with his children, potential grandchildren, career, etc.    My father had the same future except he died.

So I always gravitate to what creates a healthy heart.  I do believe the doctor was exactly right.  All of the things he told my Dad might have given him a few more years.  In looking at the list of what was recommended, I have to say diet stands out.  If my father had it to do over again, I wish he would have taken saturated fat, trans fat and high sodium foods out of his daily meals.

I do believe that my father’s high sodium diet added to his high blood pressure.  The higher the blood pressure levels, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.   My father also loved his bacon and chose to have beef at every meal, including lunch.    Our family did have vegetables; however, my mother often used the canned varieties, which have a lot of sodium.  I remember despising vegetables as a child, but love them now.  They were always overcooked when I was a child.

My father did like fish which is one of the healthier choices for the heart.   Omega 3′s are important for our heart and you can find EPA and DHA in fatty fish (such as cod, halibut, mackerel, and salmon) and enriched eggs.   Higher intakes have been found to result in a decreased rate of cardiac death and heart attacks and may also reduce triglyceride levels.   Recent research looking at long-term diets rich in omega 3s and published in the journal Atherosclerosis found that the greater the intake of Omega 3s, the lower the risk of total cardiovascular disease mortality. I personally take a ultra-pure EPA supplement each day as well to make sure to include this in my diet.

According to the AHA, “vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber — and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and blood pressure” — two of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.   Red apples fall into this category, high in fiber and high in antioxidants ….a great snack alternative to cookies, chips, etc.   I like to take a cored red apple and fill with some chopped walnuts or almonds, sometimes a little dried cranberries and top it with a bit of honey and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees…delicious!

And what about that chocolate?  A recent study conducted in Stockholm, Sweden, has found that chocolate eaters significantly cut their risk of dying from heart disease.   Following a heart attack, patients were followed over an eight-year period. When compared with non-chocolate eaters, those who ate chocolate once a week reduced their risk for cardiac death by 44 percent. Those who indulged twice a week or more reduced their risk by 66 percent.   Sounds good to me!

In looking over the list of foods recommended for the heart, vegetables and fruit AND chocolate certainly sound like great choices.  And I think if we make our choices from the freshest food possible ~ trying to stay away from the processed (full of sodium) type of foods, we, of course, will be better off.   Because heart disease is in our family, I do get concerned about whether I, too, will succumb to this; however, everything I am reading tells me that heart disease is preventable if we change our lifestyles and do the healthy diet, less stress, exercise, etc.  What about you?  Is heart disease in your family and are you concerned?

Feb 062014
 

imagesSo what is the Mediteranean Diet and why do we care?  Since February is Heart Month, I thought this was an important subject, since so many of the discussions around heart disease do always come around to those heart problems being a lifestyle problem.

According to WebMD…..

There’s no single Mediterranean diet plan, but in general, you’d be eating lots of fruits and vegetables,  beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of meat and dairy, and red wine.   This lifestyle also encourages daily exercise, sharing meals with others, and enjoying it all.  Sounds good to me!

Recently published online (February 4)  in the journal PLoS One, a study involving nearly 800 U.S. firefighters following a Mediterranean-style diet compared to those who did not showed that this type of food did make a difference.   Weight changes, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels were followed for five years.  Researchers found the more closely the men stuck to the diet, the lower their risk of developing some key markers for potential heart trouble, said Dr. Stefanos Kales, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

Another marker, one which is definitely a risk with heart disease, stroke and disabetes,  is metabolic syndrome.  This was also compared to the groups and it was found that those who adhered most strongly to the diet had a 35% lower risk of being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome than those who followed it the least.  In study after study, the researchers said, the Mediterranean diet has been linked with better health status.  Wow…..good to know.  Our own family have been trying to serve fish at least once a week and also have been trying to incorporate different types of vegetables to try each night.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend the following dietary guidelines (which very much look like the Mediterranean diet!

  1. Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight
  2. Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood
  3. Consume fewer foods with sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains

One additional thing I would add to that is to add a high-grade fish oil supplement to my daily regime.  Most American diets provide more than ten times as much omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, even though there is general scientific agreement that individuas should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids to promote good health.  Research shows that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health and help retain normal blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

So what is your favorite type of food?  How does your daily regime of meals fit into the Mediterranean Diet?  There are a lot of cookbooks on this lifestyle…my favorite is Mediterranean Light by Martha Schulman.   Here is a typical Mediterranean style recipe …  Enjoy!

Mediterranean Greek Salad
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Heather
Photo By: Allrecipes
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 10 Minutes
Servings: 8
“Hearty, robust, and delicious! All the stuff you dreamed about in a Greek salad – tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, and sun-dried tomatoes – all glistening from a splash of oil.”
INGREDIENTS:
3 cucumbers, seeded and sliced
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
3 cups diced roma tomatoes
1/3 cup diced oil packed sun-dried
tomatoes, drained, oil reserved
1/2 red onion, sliced
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large salad bowl, toss together the cucumbers, feta cheese, olives, roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons reserved sun-dried tomato oil, and red onion. Chill until serving.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 2/6/2014
Jan 292014
 

images (3)More than one hundred million will have a spread similar to this on Sunday when the Super Bowl event is broadcast.  Grocery stores everywhere have these items priced at low, low prices to make sure everyone enjoys the game with all the chips and dip and salsas they need and of course the sodas to wash it down with.  And don’t forget the chicken wings.  Super Bowl Sunday rivals Thanksgiving for the most food eaten in one sitting!  Gulp!

Often those spicy foods lead to acid reflux, indigestion and serious heartburn.    A new study suggests that the emotional stress fans feel after a loss may trigger fatal heart attacks, especially in people who already have heart disease.  A 2011 study that analyzed death records following the 1980 and 1985 Super Bowls reported increases in heart attack rates following those games.  And overindulging in all of those foods in a short amount of time (like fatty chips, dips, etc) can lead to incredibly uncomfortable bouts of constipation and diarrhea.   Not a pleasant thought!

Roughly one-third of the ads that everyone will be watching will be about the foods made from Doritos, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Snickers, and Budweiser.  In fact, the ads are part of the entertainment of the actual event.  These ads are watched as carefully as the game.  Pretty good marketing!  (Super Bowl sponsors pay 2.5 million per ad!)

We all know that these foods are loaded with calories, sugar, sodium, and fat, yet we are drawn by these ads (and we enjoy the taste) to consume them.  Should we be concerned?  Dr. Mercola calls Pringles “cancer in a can.”   In this article he states that one of the most hazardous ingredients in potato chips is not intentionally added, but rather is a byproduct of the processing. Acrylamide, a cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical, is created when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures, whether baked, fried, roasted or toasted.

Wonder how much acrylamide you are consuming?  The federal limit for acrylamide in drinking water is 0.5 parts per billion, or about 0.12 micrograms in an eight-ounce glass of water. However, a six-ounce serving of French fries can contain 60 micrograms of acrylamide, or about FIVE HUNDRED times over the allowable limit.

The 2005 report “How Potato Chips Stack Up: Levels of Cancer-Causing Acrylamide in Popular Brands of Potato Chips,” issued by the California-based Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), spelled out the dangers of this popular snack. Their analysis found that all potato chip products tested exceeded the legal limit of acrylamide by a minimum of 39 times, and as much as 910 times!   Who knew?

Rather than dwell on all of the evils of junk food, I thought I would include a delightful video from CNN sharing some great healthy food alternatives ~ they really do look easy AND delicious! Tell me what you think and if you try the any of them, I would love to hear about it. I plan to make a few myself.  Meanwhile, relax and enjoy the game!  (I also included a recipe that sounded tasty as well  :)

Zucchini Fries (compliments of Health Magazine)

2 zucchini
1 egg white
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Vegetable cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut zucchini into 3-inch sticks. Whisk an egg white in a small bowl, and add milk. Combine Parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Dip zucchini sticks into egg mixture, and then roll in breadcrumb mixture. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, and place zucchini on sheet. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until golden brown.

Jan 142014
 

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January is always a time of new beginnings (and endings) when one thinks about new year’s resolutions. When I went to swim at the YWCA that first week in January I could not find a parking place! But is it all about those first few weeks of January? Of course not! That is why I loved Dr. Mark Hyman’s 20 Day Series of Small Changes found here He even has a place where you can take the pledge to live better and healthier in small ways. Love it!

Just surrounding myself with beautiful bulbs in my home has been an inspiration for me during these dark winter days. download As with many people right now I have chosen a program to lose a few pounds. The average gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’ is about one pound, a study has found, though overweight and obese people tend to gain more (in excess of five pounds). And of course as we age, our metabolism slows, making it harder to lose weight, which puts us at risk with those extra pounds of heart disease, type2 diabetes, and breast cancer to name just a few. One of the things I am doing with my own program is when I make my shake each morning, I add 2 tablespoons of Chia Seeds. To those of you who are unaware of the benefits of this I have included this brief video:

Because it has no flavor, it simply is enhancing my shake and making me feel fuller ~ which then of course helps me to stick to 1200 calories a day!

In the January/February 2013 issue of Experience Life ~ Being Healthy is a Revolutionary Act (my favorite magazine by the way), an article has really helped me to focus on my habits and how they affect my behavior. We all know how triggers can lead us astray ~ by identifying those, we can change that cue to an alternative, even offering a reward of something more healthful and shift the behavior. Having a plan also helps ~ and once it is in place, a new habit is formed. I loved the “keystone” habits they mentioned ~oftentimes there are certain habits that, when broken or adopted, will produce a landslide of other positive changes. Some they mentioned were eating family meals, making your bed each morning and keeping a food journal. I have never kept a food journal until this year and have found it so beneficial to keep me on track with my weight loss goals of sticking to that 1200 calorie day. The program I am on has an App for that! I would also have to mention drinking those extra glasses of water each day to stay hydrated ~ a habit I want to keep.

Hope these tips help you with your resolutions this year ~ don’t forget to sign “the pledge” for feeling healthier all year long! If you are interested in the program I am on, feel free to contact me on the link provided at that site. I would love to hear how you are keeping your new year’s resolutions.

Dec 172013
 

Healthy-Choices
In a study done by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, they made a great discovery ~ lead study author Mayuree Rao states “We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that’s less than we might have expected.”

Rao did acknowledge that for many low-income families, this could amount to quite a bit; however, for other people, $1.50 is less than they spend on their morning cup of coffee. It’s “just a drop in the bucket when you consider the billions of dollars spent every year on diet-related chronic disease like obesity, diabetes and heart disease,” Rao said. “When you look at the long-term health impact, the extra $1.50 is a good investment.”

When you consider that many families are consuming a diet made up mostly of processed foods to save money rather than consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, suddenly the $1.50 appears minimal in light of the little nutrition that is found in those processed foods and the unfortunate consequences of such a diet can have with too much sodium, fat and sugar.

In Dr. Weil’s book, Why Our Health Matters, he states, “Most women are surprised to learn that excess weight and obesity cause more cases of breast cancer than genes or environmental toxins.” This statement certainly can reinforce the spending of that extra $1.50 a day to get away from the foods that can cause the excess weight and obesity. The CDC estimates that each year 1.7 million Americans die and 25 million more are disabled by chronic diseases that are caused or exacerbated by lifestyle factors. (Why Our Health Matters, pg. 134)

Healthy eating becomes especially important when raising a family. In a study published in Britain’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, it states that diets high in processed foods may be tied to lower IQ scores with children, versus those with healthier diets who had higher IQ scores. Researchers found that kids who ate diets high in processed foods at age 3 had slightly lower IQ scores by age 8 1/2. The study also showed children who at age 3 ate what the researchers termed a “healthy diet” high in salad, fruit, vegetables, rice, and pasta had an associated higher IQ at age 8 and a half.

We all make choices everyday in our lives ~ the decision to take individual responsibility to maintain and protect our bodies can be as simple as choosing the right food to eat each day. I was very encouraged by this study (which, by the way, included 27 studies on the cost of healthy vs. unhealthy foods). These results are published in the British Medical Journal.

In my own experience I found that a good quality of dietary supplements, including vitamins and minerals, was useful for me as insurance against gaps in my diet as well as staying away from fast food, eating more fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meat and whole grains and legumes, all of which has helped me to maintain good health for the last 20 years, something I truly treasure. One of Dr. Weil’s patients stated, “I now understand that when you lose your health, nothing else that you have matters. All you can think about is being well again.”

How about you? What would an extra $1.50 a day mean to you regarding the food choices you make? In this season of gift-giving, let’s all consider giving ourselves a gift ~ delicious, nutrient-dense foods ~ it can truly make a difference!

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