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Preserve Your Memory

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For some of us, the most frightening consequence of aging is the possible loss of our mental faculties. Utter the phrase “Alzheimer’s disease” – especially to someone whose family has been touched by it – and people’s expressions tend to get a bit strained.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of memory loss among the elderly – although it can hit younger people, too. With America’s first baby boomers reaching age 65 in 2012, healthcare experts are predicting that many citizens will spend their final years either suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or caring for a loved one who has it.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is currently the only condition among America’s top ten causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even significantly delayed. While death rates for other major diseases – stroke, heart disease, HIV, and several cancers – are declining, those for Alzheimer’s continue to climb. Despite this grim trend, in 2011 the National Institutes of Health spent about one-tenth as much for Alzheimer’s research as it did on cancer, heart disease or HIV/AIDS research.

Therefore, since it could be a while before any meaningful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is forthcoming, you might want to start taking better care of your brain right now:

• Unload the brain-unfriendly habits: Stop smoking, avoid recreational drugs and limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks daily. Smoking damages the blood vessels that feed your brain, and substance abuse destroys neurons that simply cannot be replaced.

• Adopt a healthy diet: When planning your menu, rely heavily on vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other compounds that are essential for neurotransmitter synthesis, healthy nerves and robust circulation. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in oily, cold-water fish (salmon, trout, sardines, etc.) is essential for normal brain function, so get a couple of servings of fish each week. Limit red meats, which can be artery-clogging.

• Exercise your body: Fifteen to 60 minutes of exercise daily not only protects your heart, strengthens your muscles and builds strong bones; it helps delay the onset of dementia like no medication will. Take up walking, and change your route from time to time. Walking improves balance, aerobic conditioning and cerebral blood flow, and altering your routine presents your brain with novel stimuli.

• Exercise your brain: A 2009 study in the journal Neurology demonstrated that people who read, write, do crossword puzzles, play board games or cards, play musical instruments or regularly participate in group discussions are less likely to develop dementia. The study’s authors reported that every mentally stimulating activity you undertake will delay the onset of dementia by 2 to 3 months. That might not seem like much, but a few months can mean the difference between getting your affairs in order and leaving them in total disarray.

• Consider supplementation: Although research hasn’t convincingly proven that supplements can prevent, reverse or slow the progression of memory loss, several have shown promise in limited studies. For example, ginkgo biloba could be as effective as some medications for managing dementia, particularly in individuals who have reduced blood flow to their brains (e.g., smokers). Similarly, huperzine A, omega-3 fatty acids, acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin E, Panax ginseng, alpha-lipoic acid and curcumin have all garnered the interest of scientists looking for ways to treat Alzheimer’s patients. (Before taking any supplement, check with your doctor first; some supplements should not be used by people with certain medical conditions or those taking prescription medications.)

• Get a handle on your medical issues: If you have high blood pressure, high lipid levels or diabetes, or if you’re packing around more weight than you should be, see your medical provider to get these problems addressed. Uncontrolled hypertension or chronically elevated blood glucose or lipid levels wreak havoc on your brain and contribute to memory loss. And studies show that people who are obese during their youth and middle age are 40 to 80% more likely to develop dementia than their normal-weight counterparts.

More people are living longer these days, and there’s no reason to believe you won’t be one of them. Making a few lifestyle changes right now just might keep you sharp-witted well into your twilight years.

Here's to your wellness,


Supplements Done Simply

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If you walk into any supplement store in America, you’ll be dazzled by hundreds of colorful bottles, vials, phials and flasks; you’ll encounter enticing advertisements exhorting you to buy the latest revolution in natural health – and if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you could easily be overwhelmed. Depending on the expertise of the person behind the counter, you may or may not find the information you seek, and if you asked your physician about a particular supplement before heading to the store, you may have been less than satisfied with the answer.

For better or worse, when it comes to choosing a supplement – whether it’s for general health maintenance or a specific health concern – you’re pretty much on your own. The Internet has made it easier to track down basic information about many supplements, but the worldwide web is also the domain of marketers and others who put their own interests before yours. So you must learn to separate the misinformation and hype from the real science. And that’s where things can get a little tricky.

Unfortunately, there’s little scientific data available for most of the supplements found on health-food store shelves. Since supplements aren’t subjected to the same regulatory scrutiny that prescription drugs are (and since they’re seldom the cash cows prescription drugs are), most research dollars are diverted to the pharmaceutical industry. Except for what has been learned through observation, much of what we know about supplements is derived from “in vitro” (test-tube) or animal studies, which may have little bearing on human physiology. 

Thankfully, you can learn about some of the supplements you’re taking – or about a new supplement you’re considering – in a number of places: the Office of Dietary Supplements, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Linus Pauling Institute,  and PubMed Health are good sources for “evidence-based” information – the sort of information generated by scientific trials – when it is available.
 
In general, you should approach your supplements in much the same way you’d approach a new prescription medication. Before you use any supplement, consult sources that aren’t affiliated with the product’s manufacturer. If you find studies that allude to in vitro or animal studies, be aware that the supplement may not exert the advertised effects in your body.

When purchasing supplements, look for manufacturers that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (you’ll see the initials “GMP” or “CGMP” [Current Good Manufacturing Practices] stamped somewhere on the label). Although they’re not equivalent to the FDA standards that govern the production of pharmaceuticals, Good Manufacturing Practices are your best assurance of the purity, quality and consistency of the ingredients in a supplement. Just as you would do your homework before taking a prescription medication, every supplement you put in your body should get the same critical review. Most supplements have medicinal activity – albeit less profound than prescription drugs – and many supplements interact in undesirable and occasionally dangerous ways with each other or with prescription medications.

Although it seems counterintuitive, the best way to simplify your search for the right supplement is to do a bit of research first. Dig for sources that don’t have a vested interest in what you’re buying. Talk to your healthcare provider. Consult an herbalist, nutritionist, homeopath, Chinese physician or naturopath if your medical doctor isn’t helpful. Read the testimonials of others who have tried the product(s) you’re thinking of using.

Then, the next time you walk into your favorite supplement store, you can do so with confidence. 
          
Here's to your wellness,


How Fit are You?

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This is a great question to ask yourself, whether you are someone who follows a strict exercise regime, a senior with age-related health issues like arthritis or you are interested in starting an exercise program for the first time. If you are 18 to 30 years old without any major health issues, most doctors agree you can safely begin an exercise program however like the of the population, it is extremely valuable to make certain assessments of one’s fitness level to determine strengths and weaknesses, as well as to record a starting point from which to measure progress.

Fitness is divided into two categories. Performance-Related Fitness applies to athletic fitness, demonstrated in professional or Olympic athletes, as well as in your own neighborhood softball team or pickup basketball game players. Skills related to this type of fitness include speed, reaction time and coordination and are demonstrated in abilities such as pitching a fastball and performing a routine on the parallel bars.

The second type of fitness is Health Related Fitness, the purpose of which is to lower health risks like high blood pressure, diabetes and joint pain. This type of fitness is measured by aerobic strength, muscle strength, flexibility and body composition, among other criteria. Health related fitness is necessary to perform everyday tasks like carrying groceries, doing house and yard work and lifting boxes of paper for the copy machine at work.

There are several methods of testing levels of the different components of fitness, many of which can be found online. One of the most established tests is The President’s Challenge, which many adults may remember taking in grade school. A specific test for adults can be found on www.adultfitness.org and presents simple exercises to test four components of fitness which represent a base standard of fitness. It tests four principles that enable individuals to measure their fitness levels against the wider population. This information acts as a tool, allowing a person to make healthier changes in his or her life and set personal fitness goals
 
Aerobic fitness is tested by a 1-mile walk or 1.5 mile run. Half sit-ups and pushups assess muscular fitness. A half sit up with restrained legs measures flexibility and body composition is determined by calculating BMI (Body Mass Index). (The calculation for BMI and the interpretation of your number is available on the above web site.) In addition to encouraging you to record your results and retake the test periodically to reassess your fitness level, you can send in your results for a professional assessment.
   
No matter what your age or weight, don’t get discouraged if your initial scores are not ideal. Keep in mind that even the most elite athlete must begin at the starting line. Building good fitness is one activity in which hard work is guaranteed to pay off with concrete results.

Here's to your wellness,


Food Pyramid Goes Flat

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If you like pie, you’ll love the USDA’s new food guide. Ok so, you can’t eat all of the pie you want, but the full-bodied (and mighty flat) food guide now looks more like a pie than one of the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The folks behind the new design (First Lady Michelle Obama included) call it a “plate,” but just for fun, I think we can call it a pie. It’s even divided into four hearty pieces!

You don’t have to peer at the pie for long to notice a number of significant changes. Not only has dairy completely lost its platinum status in the upper tiers of the old pyramid, it’s been reduced to nothing more than a side dish. Some might argue that dairy is even optional with the addition of soy milk to the category. And here’s something many might not know—most soy milk products have more calcium and vitamin D than good old fashioned cow’s milk.

One of the reasons dairy lost its status is the high fat and calorie content. Other issues associated with dairy consumption such as bloating, constipation, and all-out lactose-intolerance are just a few others. Other forms of fats, oils, and sweets have been banished from the pie as well. However, good fats/oils such as olive oil and fish oil are included in USDA food patterns, but you still won’t find them listed in any piece of the new pie.

Here’s what you will find—fruits and vegetables occupy 50 percent of the plate, and the other half consists of grains and proteins. This means at every meal, half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables and the other half should be a combination of grains and healthy proteins—so ditch the deep fryer.

If you must include dairy, the USDA says: Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not.

As for the groups that made the plate, you’ll find so many options that will help you meet the USDA’s daily recommendations you’ll lose count. The fruit group includes everything from appetizing American staples such as apples, bananas, and strawberries to exotic edibles such as the African cucumber fruit, mangosteen, and star fruit. With so many choices, it’s impossible to get bored, so get out there and explore.

The vegetable group offers the same overabundance of options ranging from healthy American bites such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beets to unusual fare such as fiddle-head ferns, fresh ramps, and taro root. The USDA recommends the following foods from the protein and grains groups:

Grains

Brown Rice, Bulgur, Oatmeal, Whole Cornmeal, Whole-Wheat Flour

Proteins 

Beans and Peas, Eggs, Lean Cuts of Red Meat, Game Meat, and Ground Meats, Nuts and Seeds, Poultry, Seafood, Shellfish, Soy Products

It’s best to strictly limit or eliminate refined grain products from the diet. White flour, white bread, white rice, and de-germed cornmeal are just a few. Refined grain products undergo a procedure called “milling.” During the process, bran and germ are removed, giving grains a finer texture and a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, milling also removes essentials such as dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

Portions are key to maintaining a healthy diet. Keep food in moderation and you will have success.

Here's to your wellness,


Staying Healthy on the Go

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We live in a 24-hour society, which makes it even more important that we keep ourselves healthy and energized. Whether you at home, at work or traveling, you can focus on four simple principles: 1) eating nutritious, energizing foods, 2) hydration, 3) exercise and 4) sleep.

During our busy lives, time seems to move faster than we do. By nightfall, you glance at the clock and realize it’s not only dinnertime but lunchtime went unnoticed. Missing meals disrupts our blood sugar levels and can interfere with our biochemical functions. To break this habit, learn to plan your meals, starting with a nutritious breakfast. Prepare the ingredients the night before, whether it is a breakfast wrap or hearty oatmeal with berries. After you tackle breakfast, take the leftovers from dinner, chop them up and add green leafy lettuce. Make a light olive oil and lemon juice dressing and tomorrow’s lunch is ready.

The grocery store is full of healthy, ready to go snacks like fiber-rich energy bars, snackable fruits, nuts, nonfat Greek yogurt cups and individual nut butter packages. Make sure you eat something every three hours to avoid dips in blood sugar.

Keep hydrated by carrying around your own BPA free with individual filter water bottle. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day to help your immune system flush out toxins and ward off cold and flu viruses. Instead of coffee, have a cup of green tea.

Make exercise a priority. If bad weather keeps you indoors, DVDs and hand weights provide a hearty workout. Expending calories along with balanced blood sugar make it easier for your body to relax at night and get the essential eight hours of sleep it needs.
   
If business requires you to travel, you need to bring your healthy habits on the road. The four rules still apply. Take your healthy snacks with you, both for the trip and especially on the airplane. Unless you are flying first class, you will want to avoid airplane food. Pack a healthy sandwich and a bag of cut fresh vegetables or, if it’s a morning flight, take a paper bowl with a bag of multigrain cereal and berries. Ask the flight attendant for some milk and you’ll arrive energized on a full stomach.
   
Empty your water bottle before going through security and fill it on the other side. Request water from the flight attendant or bring relaxing herbal tea and ask for hot water. Avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee, soda and alcohol.
   
Exercise is especially important when you travel as it helps your body acclimatize to local time and improves sleep quality. Create a special basic workout bag just for travel that includes clothing, shoes, favorite workout DVDs, a jump rope and strength bands. Most hotels have a gym with cardiovascular machines, weight machines and a pool. Ask the concierge for a good place to run, walk or rent a bike. In addition to a staying healthy, it’s a great way to see the local sights!   

We all lead hectic lives, but it is important to stay healthy even when you are on the go. Doing so will help you to have enough energy to complete the daily activities that keep your schedule so busy.

Here's to your wellness,


10 Reason Why You Are Tired

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Are you always exhausted? Is your energy low? Do you feel sluggish throughout the day?

Here are a list of 10 reasons why you may be feeling tired:

1. You are too plugged in.

From the moment we wake up to the time we close are eyes, so many of us are attached to an electronic device, be it a computer, tablet or phone. Keep electronics, including televisions, out of the bedroom, and make it a goal not to use your cell phone an hour before bedtime.

2. You are dehydrated.

Dehydration causes a decrease in blood volume and forces your organs to work harder, which can lead to fatigue.

3. Your diet is unhealthy.

A detoxifying diet, such as an alkaline diet, will assist the liver in releasing toxins and acids from the body, eliminating the feeling of achy lethargy.

4. Your body does not have an established sleep cycle.

Going to bed at consistent bedtime is a good habit, but waking up at the same time is far more important because it sends a message to the brain that the sleep cycle is over. The idea that you can “make up” lost sleep is false; in fact, sleeping in will make you feel more sluggish.

5. You consume too much caffeine.

Caffeine can stay in your system long enough to effect your sleep by interfering with your REM patterns. The first step is to stop drinking or eating food with caffeine several hours before bedtime. If you rely on caffeine to wake you up or get you through your day, you might have a serious dependence on caffeine. Cut back slowly over time to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

6. You are a snorer.

In many cases, snorers suffer from sleep apnea, a serious condition in which the upper airway becomes blocked. In severe cases, the snorer can stop breathing for a few seconds several times during the night. This exhausting cycle of oxygen deprivation leads to unending fatigue without treatment.

7. You are anemic.

Anemia is a condition in with there is a low amount of oxygen carrying hemoglobin in the red blood cells. As a result, the body has to work harder to get oxygen. Anemia is caused by mineral inefficiencies like iron, certain illnesses or internal bleeding, like an ulcer, and requirement medical assessment.

8. You have an under-active thyroid.

Your thyroid sets the metabolic rate for your body, which is the rate in which you burn calories. Several things can affect the thyroid; it is a side effect of several medications. Symptoms include feeling excessively tired, sensitivity to cold and weight gain without consumption of increased calories.

9. You may be depressed.

If you don’t have any physical symptoms but still have an overwhelming sense of fatigue and malaise, talk to your doctor if you think you might have depression.

10. You have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

CFS usually presents as excessive tiredness for no specific reasons for 6 or more months with a constant sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headaches.

By making minor changes to your lifestyle with diet & sleep you can easily increase your energy level. However, if you think you might have any of these medical conditions, make an appointment with your doctor. Better to be safe then sorry!

Here's to your wellness,


Heart Healthy Eating

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The heart is a complex organ that beats more than two and a half billion times in an average lifetime. Exercise can improve the condition of your heart by strengthening the heart muscles, improving its function though it does not actually make it grow in size. An enlarged heart, however, is a result of one of a number of conditions such as stress or weakening of the heart muscles.

In the United States, heart disease is the primary cause of death in women and men. According to the American Heart Association, more than 64 million American adults currently suffer from a form of heart disease. Along with exercise, a healthy diet is one of the main ways that you can keep your heart healthy. It can help to strengthen your heart, make it function better and significantly reduce the risk of heart conditions including an enlarged heart.

Nutritional experts recommend switching to a Mediterranean style diet as this has a beneficial effect on insulin resistance and dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease. There is no one specific ‘Mediterranean’ diet. More than 16 countries border the Mediterranean Sea so the diets do vary somewhat between these counties. However there are common characteristics among them.

These are:

• A daily diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, beans, seeds and nuts.
• Daily consumption of oily fish, such as salmon, baked or grilled poultry with small amounts of red meat.
• Olive oil as a monounsaturated replacement for saturated fats.
• Eggs to provide protein up to four times each week.
• Red and white wine consumed in moderate amounts.
 
The Mediterranean diet does not just provide heart health, it also reduces the risk of some forms of cancer, protects against obesity and diabetes, as well as improving digestion. What’s more, with this type of diet it’s easy to stay healthy while still enjoying a wide range of flavorful foods.

Here's to your wellness,


The Real Truth About Organic Food

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Utter the word “organic” and any self-respecting chemist will conjure visions of carbon-based molecules and saturated bonds. A health-conscious mom, on the other hand, thinks of foods she can put on her family’s table without worrying about pesticides, hormones and heavy metals. 

While there aren’t throngs of people kicking down doors to become chemists, the demand for organic food has steadily risen since Lord Northbourne reintroduced the concept of “organic farming” in his 1940 book, Look to the Land. (I say “reintroduced” because it was only during the 20th century that the concept of industrial farming really took hold. Before then, practically all farms were organic.) As more people began browsing for organic foods at grocery stores or shopping at exclusively organic venues, traditional suppliers of organic foodstuffs – family farms and small co-ops – simply couldn’t keep up.

Enter big business. It’s no secret that whenever there’s a demand for a profitable commodity, big industry will gear up to meet that demand and do its best to corner the market. In this respect, organic foods appear to be no different than toothbrushes or toilet paper. According to a July 2012 article in The New York Times, many of the well-known producers of organic foods – Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi, Spectrum Organics, etc. – have been gobbled up by the likes of PepsiCo, Kellogg, General Mills and ConAgra. In addition, most of the nation’s organic farms are now in the hands of large agri-food corporations.

Now, just because the mega-corporations have an abysmal record in other arenas doesn’t mean they’ll run roughshod over the organic food industry. After all, some organic standards are firmly entrenched, both by convention and by law: regardless of size, organic farms aren’t allowed to use synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers; there’s a fairly long list of “blacklisted” pesticides, and genetically engineered seeds are strictly verboten. Furthermore, land that has had any prohibited substance applied to it within three years cannot be used to produce organic crops.

Unfortunately (and not too surprisingly), there are some disconcerting trends developing in the organic industry. One of the most compelling issues is the shifting membership of the National Organic Standards Board, which makes many of the decisions about what defines “organic” and what additives are acceptable in organic foods. The NOSB, which is comprised of 15 members, is increasingly weighted with representatives from what we should probably start calling “Big Organic.” As an example of where this could be headed, one year ago the board nearly voted to include a nitrogenous herbicide – for the very first time – on its list of accepted substances. And, in the last decade, nearly 80 non-organic compounds have been added to the list of agents that are allowed in “certified organic” foods.

A lot of people squabble about whether organic foods are more nutritious, more environmentally friendly or any safer, in the long run, than foods derived from industrial farming – and there are valid arguments on both sides of these debates. However, if organic foods are an important part of your health regimen, what you should really be worrying about is whether organic foods, in another decade or so, will even be distinguishable from what the big corporations have already been putting on America’s tables for the last 100 years.  

Here's to your wellness,


10 Foods for Healthier Skin

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As we age our skin gradually undergoes a number of changes. These changes, though subtle at first, often become the body’s most visible signs of aging. They are due to changes in the skin’s connective tissue which cause it to lose some of its original elasticity. Changes also begin in the skin’s outer layer (the epidermis), where the skin becomes thinner. The number of cells containing pigments gradually decreases, which can often leave the skin appearing translucent in parts, liver spots may also appear particularly on the face and hands. Just because your skin is getting older doesn’t mean you have to lose your freshness and vitality.

Here are ten foods that will help you maintain healthier skin.

Blueberries

One of the highest sources of antioxidants, blueberries protect the skin against free radicals which damage skin cells. Blueberries help protect against cell disintegration, keeping the skin looking younger.

Green tea

Green tea is also packed with antioxidants, these help to reduce inflammation and protect tissue and cell membranes. Green tea has been shown to reduce the effects of sun damage, which reduces your risk of skin cancer. Green tea also contains beneficial vitamins C, D and K.

Sweet Potato 

This delicious vegetable is packed with vitamins C, E and fiber. It keeps skin looking young by fighting of free radicals and improving the skin’s elasticity.

Salmon

Like other oily fish, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are very beneficial for the skin because they help keep cell membranes healthy and prevent toxins from entering and damaging the skin.

Carrots

A great course of vitamin A, carrots help the skin by boosting antioxidant levels and maintaining the health of skin cells.

Avocados

Avocados are tasty fruits that contain monounsaturated fats and are great for your skin. They keep you looking youthful by preventing your skin from drying out and reducing inflammation.

Yogurt 

Yogurt can benefit the skin, especially Greek yogurt because its nutrient help reduce wrinkles. Used topically it can soothe irritated or dry skin.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate juice is great for helping your body to eliminate toxins. This means your skin will remain youthful and glowing, longer.

Almonds

Almonds are a great source of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, as well as the antioxidant vitamin E. This means that almonds protect your skin from damaging UV rays and also help improve your skin’s elasticity by increase collagen.

Water

Staying hydrated is vital for healthy skin and will keep you young-looking. Water not only hydrates cells but helps them to remove damaging toxins.

While eating to maintain a healthy body you can also keep your skin feeling healthy and looking young.

Here's to your wellness,


Seven Fat-Fighting Foods

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If you’ve ever struggled to get from a size 10 to a size 8 before a honeymoon cruise, or if your doctor has ever told you to shed a few pounds to get your blood pressure under control, you’ve probably wondered why everything you eat seems to triple in caloric value as it settles on your waist or hips. And you’ve probably engaged in the same magical thinking that occurs to most dieters at one time or another: Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat as much as you want and still lose weight?

Well, it’s unlikely anyone will ever whip up a German chocolate cake or pasta Alfredo that will make your scale spin backwards (at least not in this universe). However, the following seven foods are among many that will encourage weight loss by suppressing your appetite, slowing your absorption of calories or revving up your metabolic rate. Some of these items may not be traditional fare for you, but it really isn’t that difficult to incorporate them into your menu:

Grapefruit

Long promoted as a “fat-burning” food, grapefruit really doesn’t possess any mystical properties for dissolving fat. Rather, its high soluble fiber content makes you feel fuller with fewer calories. If you eat a half grapefruit or drink a glass of grapefruit juice 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, you’ll eat less than you normally would when you sit down at the table. (Keep in mind that grapefruit alters the absorption of several prescription medications, so check with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your daily routine.)

Watermelon

Like many raw fruits and vegetables, watermelon is loaded with fluid, fiber and nutrients, including lycopene, arginine, B vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium and potassium. However, since watermelon’s nutritional bounty is packaged with relatively few calories, a wedge of this tasty summertime treat offers lots of health benefits at a low caloric cost – and all that water and fiber will help put a lid on your appetite.

Sweet potatoes

Unlike their bland, pale cousins, sweet potatoes don’t need loads of butter, sour cream, bacon bits and other high-calorie companions to make them palatable. And sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, potassium, ascorbic acid and fiber. So plant a baked sweet potato on your plate instead of a traditional baked potato; you’ll be amazed at how many calories you won’t eat.

Green tea

Recent studies suggest that green tea, unlike a lot of other widely promoted weight-loss aids, actually does accelerate your metabolic rate – at least temporarily. More importantly, green tea seems to specifically target abdominal fat, which has been linked to diabetes and heart disease. You’ll need to drink 3 to 5 cups of green tea daily to reap its weight-reducing benefits. (Avoid putting high-calorie sweeteners in your tea, though, or you may take in more calories than green tea will help you burn.)

Greek yogurt

With twice as much protein as regular yogurt, Greek yogurt provides a couple of weight-shedding benefits: since protein stays in your stomach longer, yogurt will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. In addition, your body burns more calories when digesting protein than it does when metabolizing an equal amount of carbohydrates. As an added benefit, the probiotics in yogurt will aid the digestive process. (To shave even more calories from your diet, always choose unsweetened and low-fat yogurt.)

Quinoa

Rather than spooning heaps of white rice onto your plate, try quinoa, which contains more protein and fiber than an equal amount of rice. Quinoa is prepared in the same manner as rice, and you can add steamed vegetables, scrambled eggs or crushed nuts for a well-balanced and appetite-quenching meal.

Coffee

There’s more good news about that morning cup of java. One of coffee’s chief constituents – a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid – appears to accelerate fat metabolism and suppress the release of hormones that trigger weight gain. The bad news? If you simply must get your caffeine fix in the form of a latte or cappuccino, you’re cancelling out the weight-paring effects of chlorogenic acid.

By incorporating one a day you can fit all seven into your diet weekly. Pairing these foods with exercise and a healthy diet will keep you on the right track to fight fat.

Here's to your wellness,


Boost your Energy Now

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If you’re feeling lethargic and having difficulty concentrating on the tasks at hand, you may need a quick energy boost. Here are five great ways to boost your energy now.

Eat Regular Meals

You need to re-fuel your body regularly with a balance of nutrients to maintain your energy. Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast. It’s probably the most important meal of the day, and if you skimp on it you will already be feeling fatigued by lunch time. Healthy energy–powered breakfasts include low-fat yoghurt with fruit and quinoa, cottage cheese and apple, and cheese and spinach scrambled egg.

Increase Your Magnesium Intake

Maintaining a balanced diet is vital to keeping your energy flowing, but if you need an extra pick-me-up increasing your magnesium intake may help. Magnesium is vital for more than 300 biological reactions in the human body. If your levels of this mineral are low, you will notice a drop in energy. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 300mg. Natural sources include bran, fish, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds.

Take a Walk

Waking is great exercise because it doesn’t require any especial equipment and you can do it anywhere. Although it may sound counterproductive to exercise when you are already feeling tired, physical activity, such as walking, will increase your energy level.

Get a Dose of Sunlight

You can increase your energy by making sure you have the right type of light. Sunlight gives you a boost and helps your body make vitamin D. If you work in an office with no windows or poor lighting, get a lamp for your desk and fit it with a daylight bulb. You’ll feel more awake and more cheerful.
 
Eat Protein

Eating protein throughout the day help maintain energy levels. Protein contains the amino acid tyrosine, which helps increase the levels of nor-epinephrine and dopamine in your brain. This makes you feel more alert and will also make you feel fuller, so you’re less inclined to over-eat. An egg or high-protein cereal is a great way to start the day. You can snack on nuts and fat-free yoghurt to boost energy throughout the day.

Hopefully these tips will help keep you energized, healthy and happy in the new year!

Here's to your wellness,


Ten Diet Tricks that Actually Work

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According to the National Weight Control Registry (America’s largest registry of people who have lost weight and kept it off), 98% of “successful losers” modify their food intake in order to lose weight. Since it’s unlikely any of these folks ate more to shed those pounds, just how did they change their diets to attain their goals? Is there some magical formula for losing weight?

Unfortunately, if there is a magical formula for weight loss, no one is sharing it. For better or worse, everyone has to find his or her personal path to weight control. Toward that end, one of the following “tricks” might just supply the alchemy to get things moving in the right direction for you:

1. Choose a diet you can love for the rest of your life.

Anyone who’s tried to lose weight and keep it off knows that fad diets, cleanses, and fasts don’t work. The reason they don’t is pretty straightforward: they’re simply unsustainable. A balanced, varied menu, such as a Mediterranean diet, is not only effective for losing weight; it’s the best way to maintain overall health over the long haul.

2. Eat smaller portions.

While this might seem pretty basic, when was the last time you compared the slab of meat on your plate to a deck of cards? That’s about three ounces of flesh, and that’s plenty for one meal. If you’re not into weighing and measuring your food, start using eight-inch plates instead of those spacious ten or twelve-inchers most Americans use. If you can’t fit your meals on the smaller plate, you’re probably eating too much.  

3. Count calories.

Not all foods contain the same number of calories, so portion size is only one of the hurdles you have to clear. It’s important to know how much energy you’re consuming. Count carbs, weigh your food, keep a diary…pick a method that works for you, and make it a habit.

4. Weigh in at least once weekly – better yet, get on the scale every day.

Accountability is a good thing. After all, if you don’t know where you’ve been and you don’t know where you are, how can you expect to know where you’re going? If your weight creeps up a few ounces on one day, it’s not a catastrophe: reevaluate your plan and do better the next day.

5. Eat more often.

Eating frequent, small meals keeps your blood glucose and insulin levels at an even keel and heads off those sudden hunger pangs. If you know how many calories you should consume every day, divide those calories into five or six meals, rather than three.

6. Eat at the table.

Studies show that people who eat their meals at the table tend to eat fewer calories, especially when they have someone to talk to. Those who dine in front of the TV eat the most.

7. Give your utensils a rest between bites.

Your brain knows you’re eating; if you give it time, it will release hormones that will put a lid on your appetite. Pausing between bites allows your hunger to abate before you’re tempted to head back for seconds...or thirds. (You could even talk to your family, if you’re so inspired.)

8. Eat breakfast every day.

If you don’t eat before you head out the door, your blood glucose will slide toward the basement, triggering hunger and (eventually) overeating. And while you’re fixing breakfast, fix a healthy snack to take to work, too. It’ll keep you from sharing that box of donuts with your coworkers.

9.  Don’t eat sweets before bedtime.

If you have a snack before bedtime, avoid sugary foods. Simple carbohydrates boost insulin levels sharply, which drives your blood glucose downward and triggers hunger. Upon awakening in the morning, you want to be pleasantly hungry, not ravenous.

10. Get plenty of sleep.

If you’re sleep deprived, you body produces stress hormones – most notably cortisol – that contribute to weight gain. Recent studies reveal that overweight people who don’t get enough sleep have a harder time losing weight.

Once you’ve picked a few tricks that will fit into your daily routine, don’t forget the other half of the weight-loss equation: you have to burn the calories you consume. Like it or not, 90% of successful losers spend about one hour exercising every day.

Here's to your wellness,


How to Start Running

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There are more than 700 marathon events throughout the country every year, and that number is growing. It’s a fact, American people love to run, and it’s not surprising because running is great for your health. Runners who cover at least ten miles per week lower their risk of high blood pressure by 39 percent and reduce their chance of high cholesterol by 34 percent.  Running also has a number of other health benefits, such as strengthening your bones, improving concentration, reducing insomnia, increasing longevity and of course, helping you maintain a healthy weight.

With all those benefits you can see why it is such a popular sport. But it’s not quite as simple as just putting one foot in front of the other. If you’re new to running there are a few things you need to take into consideration before you hit the road, the track or the treadmill.

Putting your First Foot Forward

Though you may not realize, the best way to get into running is to start walking. Regular walking will strengthen the muscles and tendons in your legs so that your body will become used to the impact of running. Build up gradually starting with a 30 minute brisk walk twice each week for one week and then four times on the second week. For the next three weeks building up a combination of walking and running, alternating between a five minute running burst and one minute of walking for thirty minutes.

Picking up the Pace

Once you get your pace going you can quite safely increase your running time by10 minutes per week as you build up your endurance. Try not increase your time or speed too soon, this will only increase your risk of injury and make you feel frustrated when you can’t meet your goal. Speeding up your pace puts extra strain on your musculoskeletal system so you should develop your endurance before picking up your pace.

Staying in Good Form

Everyone’s running style is different but it is important to keep to a good running form in order to put minimum impact on your joints, reduce your risk of injury and increase your efficiency. As you run remain relaxed, keep your chest forward and your shoulders down. Maintain an even pace. Your feet should hit the ground beneath your hips with soft footfalls. Your torso should be straight, avoid the temptation to lean forward otherwise you will put extra strain on your lower back. Keep your hands loose and your elbows close to your waist so that your arms don’t swing.

Be Kind to your Feet


If you’re serious about running regularly you should also make sure that you have appropriate footwear. Running shoes are made specifically to cope with the impact that running produces. The right shoe for you will depend on a number of factors including your weight, how often and where you run, and the height of your arch. If you’re a new runner you can get an evaluation from a specialty running store.

Running is a great way to stay healthy year round. With these tips you will be ready to conquer your first marathon in no time!

Here's to your wellness,


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