291016 Reasons to exercise

291016 Reasons to exercise

The benefits of regular exercise are well known in today’s society. It has been consistently demonstrated that it leads to a healthier more productive life. Being active lowers your risk of developing heart disease, adult on set diabetes, sometimes referred to as type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. It’s not only these benefits that result from exercise, others fall into place as well.

Those who are regular participants in moderate to vigorous activities have the ability to deal with the stresses of daily life and are less likely than non-exercisers to suffer from anxiety and depression. Longevity has a direct correlation to being active. The more active you are throughout your life the greater your chances of staying healthy and living a longer life.

Following a plan of regular exercise and eating healthy foods and fluids can lower the actuary[1] predictors of coronary heart disease and stroke. Exercising regularly often times means your critical health numbers will become lower. These numbers include your blood pressure, body weight, fat composition, blood triglyceride levels, and low-density lipoproteins (LDH).

The numbers indicating good cholesterol (HDL) rise with good exercise and a healthy diet.

Blood sugar tolerance, also known as glucose tolerance, is the ability of your body to regulate the level of sugar circulating in the blood. When this tolerance becomes lower, the amount of sugar in your blood becomes higher, which may lead to diabetes. Currently, about one in four older adults are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes in the US. The studies are clear in their findings: physically active people are less likely to develop this disease then those who are sedentary. Exercise improves the ability of the body to use insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. This process maintains the blood sugar at the recommended levels.

The benefits of exercise far outweigh the time spent working out. Just of few of the reasons to exercise, include stronger bones and better mental health.

Improved bone density

Osteoporosis, a disease where the bones become fragile and fracture easily, is of concern to many older adults. This affects more women than men even though men still suffer from the disease.

Once osteoporosis has progressed to a dangerous level, even a small slip and fall can cause a broken bone, especially in the hips and wrists of a female.

Weight bearing exercise has been well documented in both medical and scientific literature to be of value in strengthening the skeletal bones. Strength training and impact exercises have a direct positive relationship to building stronger bones, particularly the long bones in the body. These types of exercises can help prevent further skeletal bone loss in those with osteoporosis.

Mental well-being is enhanced when you exercise. The release of natural chemicals into your body helps improve your outlook on life. They make the minor momentary pain of exercise feel good all day long. That’s not all there is to the role of activity and exercise in making your life batter. An added outcome of regular exercise is the ability to control your weight.

Less body weight means less stress and trauma on your lower torso joints, i.e. the hips, knees and ankles. It makes sense that the more you weigh the more these joints have to work to stay healthy. Too much bodyweight can damage the cartilage, which in turn fosters the onset of arthritis and osteoarthritis and leads to joint implants.

Remember you will never exercise your way to more lean muscle mass through a high calorie diet. Eating or drinking too many calories will not be exercised away, contrary to what the machines are telling you about the caloric expenditure for X-amount of time on them.

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

290216 Eating clean

290216 Eating clean

The experts at Tufts University set out the basic principles of eating clean as described in the book Eating Clean for Dummies. These are simple, common sense, guidelines that follow good dietary advice.

Start out with whole foods, preferably right from the farm that produced them. These would include such food items as whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and chemical free meat. Included in this area will be low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts (Costco sells these and they are delicious) and many varieties of seeds.

Some people believe that if the food is frozen, it detracts from the nutrients. This is not so, because by neglecting the frozen food isle in the store, you miss the great food choices such as the countless fruits and vegetables available there. Don’t forget the canned beans either. Rinse the liquid off of them first and then have at it in your salads or other dishes.

The most recommended advice from numerous sources is to avoid processed foods. This means any food with a label on it. If you actually do this, you miss out on many healthful options. For example, sugar is processed but so are the other options that are sugar such as agave syrup, fruit concentrate, or honey. The message here is to lower your intake of sugar regardless of its source.

Eating clean means figuring out what are the best options for your eating habits. Some have success grazing all day with five to six small meals during the day. Others stick to a more traditional three meals, with healthy snacks between them. Just make sure the food you eat is more nutrient dense with fewer unhealthy fats, less sugar, and lower sodium contents.

Whether you like to cook or don’t like to cook, the fact of the matter is if you cook your own food, you decide the contents. This can mean less sugar, less fat and less sodium in each meal all of which contribute to a healthier eating style. Plus you may save money too.

The last bit of advice from the experts at Tufts University is to make healthy food choice every day. Choose from the tremendous options of foods in the stores and make certain to get all three categories in your meals. These include the lean proteins found in fish, chicken, and vegetables. Stock up on whole grains of all sorts and use them in your cooking along with high fiber carbs and unsaturated fats[1].

Alter your eating habits one at a time; soon you will notice the benefits of the changes in your health and overall self-confidence.

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550

Monounsaturated fatty acids. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

231013 An introduction into strength and power training for all ages

An introduction into strength and power training for all ages

It turns out there are effective actions you can do to positively alter your health. They can help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, help improve your mood, make you stronger and more powerful, and at the same time make your bones stronger to help ward off fractures. These are not the only benefits these actions, not by a long shot.

They can potentially help you avoid disability, frailty and retain that precious independence we all want to have as we age.

Strength training can do all of this.

It is a well-known fact that strength training offers all of the benefits previously mentioned, in addition to many others such as are listed in the following section from the Harvard Medical School.

“Practically any regular exercise benefits your health. Strength training specifically helps in the following ways:

• Strengthens muscles
• Strengthens bones
• Prevents falls and fractures by improving balance and preserving power to correct missteps
• Helps to control blood sugar
• Relieves some of the load carried by the heart
• Improves cholesterol levels
• Improves the body’s ability to pluck oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream
• Boosts metabolism even while sleeping and thus helps keep weight within a healthy range
• Prevents or eases lower back pain
• Relieves arthritis pain and expands limited range of motion
• Raises confidence , brightens mood, and helps fight mild to moderate depression
• Wards off loss of independence by keeping muscles strong enough for routine tasks”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there is now a heightened awareness of the benefits of strength training. There is also the fact that only a small percentage of the American population have actually started a strength training program. This percentage is estimated at just slightly under 22% for men and 18% of the women in our nation who are strength training twice a week on a regular basis.

This percentage figure is far below the U.S. governments Healthy People 2010 goal of 30% of the adults in America who make strength training a part of their exercise program.

091013 Early detection of disease – screenings for men

Early detection of disease – screenings for men

The earlier a disease is detected, the better off you may be. If you begin treatment soon after finding the problem the treatment is more effective in the early stages and the greater, the likelihood is that you will avoid any complications from the disease.

There are many opinions from various medical organizations recommending different health screenings at different frequencies in your life to consider. Your personal health history, as well as that of your close relatives, will have an influence on your decision to have these tests.

Don’t waste your money on useless tests; consult with your doctor to find out the ones that may benefit you the most. The following recommendations are generally those providing the greatest information for continued monitoring of your health.

Blood pressure readings measure the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries. The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of high blood pressure advises getting this done at least every two years for anyone past the age of eighteen.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation counsels getting a bone mineral density test (BMT) at least one time for men over seventy years of age. A BMT is an Osteoporosis test that screens for brittle, weak bones leading causes of fractures in the elderly and those with osteoporosis.

Colon cancer screening tests for colon cancer or precancerous polyps. The American Cancer Society recommends the following schedule for these tests:

• At age fifty men should have tests for polyps and cancer with a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
• Colonoscopy every ten years
• Double contrast barium enema every five years or CT a colonography which is a virtual colonoscopy, every five years.
• Tests with the principle goal of finding cancer include:
o a yearly fecal occult blood test or a
o yearly fecal immunochemical test
• Diabetes screening tests. These check if you have high blood sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association these should be done every three years once you are past forty five years of age.
• The American Optometric Association advises regular eye exams along these lines:
o Ages 18-60 every two years
o Beyond age 61 every year
• Determining the fasting lipoprotein profile every five years, beginning at age twenty plus is the goal of the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel. This checks the cholesterol levels in your body, which is one measure of your hearts health.
• The American Cancer Society recommends prostate screening for possible signs of prostate cancer starting at age 50. However, before jumping into the tests discuss the benefits and potential false readings with your doctor. For certain, African American’s and men with a family history of prostate cancer should be getting tested on a regular basis at an earlier date in their lives.

None of these tests are painful and there is no excuse not to be getting them on a regular basis.

270913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part five – Switching from white to brown rice could potentially lower your diabetes risk

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part five – Switching from white to brown rice could potentially lower your diabetes risk

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

Switching from white to brown rice could potentially lower your diabetes risk

Harvard researchers have made a connection between white rice consumption and the risk of developing diabetes. They found those eating the most white rice were 27% more likely to develop the disease than those who were eating less. They found this association to be the greatest, 55%, amongst the Asian populations. These same research specialists combined the results from four prior studies with a total of 352,384 participants who were followed from 4 to 22 years.

Even though the added diabetes risk of the non-Asian participants was at a borderline statistical significance of 11% it still does not bode well for eating excessive amounts of white rice. Further analysis of the statistics discovered a dose response relationship whereby the more white rice eaten, the greater the diabetes risk which rose even higher with an additional daily serving. This increased the chances of developing the disease by an additional 11%.

According to the information provided in the study white rice and brown rice are not processed the same. Brown rice, unlike white rice, retains its whole grain nutrients during the processing.

010713 Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends at least two and a half hours of strength training per week working muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, legs, and abdominal muscles. And two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Exercise time is decreased if the intensity is higher. In this case, DHHS recommends one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, again spread throughout the week.

You will note there are no weekend warrior (meaning someone who tries to get all of their exercise time in on one day) recommendations here. Those who try to cram it all in on one-day or over two days frequently end up injured.

If you are not able to set aside 30 minutes each day, then do your exercises in 10-minute bursts over the course of the day.

Participating in a daily regimen of physical activity not only enhances your heart, lungs, and circulatory systems it also eases the pain of arthritis.

This may sound counterintuitive to the arthritis sufferer but the physical act of moving the joints keeps the synovial fluid, the transparent, viscid fluid secreted by the synovial membrane and found in joint cavities, bursae, and tendon sheaths, of the joints equally spread throughout them.

Walking can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, which is important because numerous studies have found a link between obesity and cancer of the colon, esophagus, kidneys, the breast in postmenopausal women, and the uterus.

Physical activity can also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and boost the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and can even help manage or prevent high blood pressure. As a side note, losing excess fat weight also has the tendency to lower your blood pressure numbers and make you feel better about yourself.

Fighting depression can be a lifelong task but scientists find that physical activity can be a useful addition to pharmacology and therapy for treating depression. If you are depressed, see someone and get help. Physical activity helps ease the stress of the day, helps cut back on anxiety, helps you sleep better, and boosts your spirits for facing the day.

Walking, as well as other physical activity can help prevent the risk of type II diabetes. Additionally physical activity may also make it possible to decrease the amount of insulin or other types of medications you may be taking to control your diabetes. It goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, see your Doctor before altering your medication.

Osteoporosis is a scary term for those with the diagnosis. Walking puts a load on the bones, which in turn causes them to become stronger, which in the long-term may well prevent fractures. Physical activity combined with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis.

Summary:

There are many good reasons to exercise and probably 100 times that many excuses for not exercising. The decision is up to you as to whether not you take advantage of the opportunities to exercise and thereby improve your health or simply sit around and complain about it.

130513 Getting more fiber in your diet-1

Getting more fiber in your diet

Dietary fiber is fiber that your body is unable to absorb or digest, it passes reasonably intact through your intestinal track and out of your body. Most fiber is either soluble, meaning that it dissolves in water or insoluble, meaning that it does not dissolve.

Fiber that dissolves in water forms a material substance that is gel like in appearance. This fiber helps to lower your blood cholesterol and glucose levels. It is found in apples, barley, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, oats, peas, and psyllium (1).

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is important to you because it increases the bulk of your stool and then helps move the food and drink through the digestive system in an orderly fashion. Common insoluble fibers include beans and vegetables, cauliflower and green beans as prime examples, wheat bran, whole-wheat flour, and the potato.

If you are looking for a food that contains a combination of both insoluble and soluble fiber then look no further than oatmeal and beans – not necessarily mixed together.

(1) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601104.html Psyllium, a bulk-forming laxative, is used to treat constipation. It absorbs liquid in the intestines, swells, and forms a bulky stool, which is easy to pass.

150313 Is too much blood sugar shrinking your brain?

Is too much blood sugar shrinking your brain?

A recent study, published in Neurology, suggests there is an association between high blood sugar on the high end of normal and brain shrinkage in the areas of the brain “associated with memory and thinking” according to Dr. Gad Marshall was a neurologist at Harvard affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Previous research has already revealed links between high blood sugar, type II diabetes and brain shrinkage.

This study has found that people whose fasting blood sugar levels are at the high end of normal also have a higher possibility of brain shrinkage. After fasting, defined as six hours or more without eating or drinking anything with calories, the normal fasting blood levels are between 70 to 100 mg/dL. You have pre-diabetes if your fasting blood sugar levels are 100 to 125 mL per deciliter. At this point, you have definitely increased your possibility of developing diabetes. Any fasting numbers above 126 mg/dL indicates you probably already have diabetes.

Dr. Marshall says in the article that even though we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until more research confirms the study’s findings he sees these preliminary results as a red flag. “Having a high normal glucose level at age 60 or older can potentially serve as a useful marker of impending neural degeneration.”

He recommends the Mediterranean diet as one that will help prevent the cognitive decline that often shows up with aging. If you are unfamiliar with the Mediterranean diet here are a few highlights.

To get started with the Mediterranean diet, plan on eating as natural as possible with unprocessed foods such as fruits, whole grains, nuts and vegetables. Cut back on the unhealthy fats and begin using olive oil as your principal source of dietary fat. Begin easing back on the amount of red meat you eat on a monthly basis by substituting it with moderate amounts of fish. Also included in this diet is drinking a moderate amount of wine per day. This means about two glasses day for men and one for women.