All posts in Health Benefits

How to Make Stress a Healthy Behavior

How to Make Stress a Healthy Behavior

No one today would argue with me that most Americans are overly stressed. Technology, feeling the need to immediately return text and emails, and the pace at which we live today has created an epidemic of chronic stress and mental fatigue. In fact, between 60 percent and 80 percent of doctor visits today are a result of this chronic stress. And of course, when we are stressed we make poor lifestyle choices. Which means we eat on the run, make unhealthy food choices, and take too little, if any, time to exercise, rest and do the things that bring us joy. The cumulative effect of all this stress? Burnout and chronic disease.

More

Now is the Time to Eat Your Leafy Greens

Now is the Time to Eat Your Leafy Greens

We actually are having winter this year in the Lowcountry even though freezes have been few and far between.  That means the grocery shelves should still be full of fresh greens. If not, check out local farmers markets, especially if you’re looking for tasty kale, chard and collards.

Packed with vitamin A, C, K and E, these vegetables are also rich iron, calcium, manganese and potassium, as well as a wealth of antioxidants, which have numerous beneficial effects for our health.

Kale is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet. Simply remove the leaf from the stem sauté quickly with a little bit of lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.  You can also make a salad with it or add it to quinoa to make a healthy and satisfying meal.

Collards here is the South are extremely healthy too. My husband and I own a farm in Hampton County where this deep green vegetable is one of our favorites. We wash our collards carefully and use kitchen shears to cut them into thick, two-inch shreds, which we add to a pot of boiling organic chicken broth and fresh green onions, including the stems, seasoned to taste. We make sure to not leave them on the stove for more than 20 minutes. The longer you boil them, the less the nutritional value.  So keep sampling until they reach the consistency you like.

Collards also are excellent when added to various soups; so don’t be hesitant to experiment.

Fresh chard is somewhat of a new staple for traditional Southern cooks. A relative of the beet family, chard offers beautiful green, yellow and red color to winter dishes.  Fresh young chard is great in salads, while more mature leaves can be sautéed or cooked. The bitterness typically fades with cooking, so also sample often until you get the taste and consistency you like.

So, don’t be shy.  No need to wait until spring.  Ask your grocer or you favorite farmer for fresh kale, collards and chard now. Your body will thank you.

More

The Secret to a Productive Day

The Secret to a Productive Day

With all the talk about the importance of getting the day started on the right note, it’s no wonder that getting a good night’s sleep has become more important than ever. If you have ever tried to have a productive day after only 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, you know what I am talking about.

If you are like most folks, you may feel as if there is not enough time to do all the things you want to do. Yes, most of a productive day is often work related but fun relaxing things are important too. So how do you have a productive day; do everything you want to do and get a good night sleep of 7 to 8 hours?

The answer appears to be a better bedtime routine. You might be asking how does having a bedtime routine have anything to do with a more productive next day?  Isn’t a good night’s sleep all you need to pave the way for a productive day?  What does a nightly routine of washing your face, brushing teeth or limiting caffeine after 6 p.m. have anything to do with the next day?

More

Guest Post: Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out

Guest Post: Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out

Re-printed from 60 Is The New 50, by Dr. W

Basic working formula. Nothing profound. Simple math. You put 2000 calories into your body- then you must follow thru and use those calories throughout the day. Put in 100 calories per day more than you use, multiply by 7 days, then over a month you have gained a pound. The solution is found on either end of the formula or simply stated- eat less or burn more. What could be simpler? Look around you and everywhere you turn you see those extra pounds on almost everyone. What has happened? We eat too much and we move about less. So obvious and, at the same time, so difficult to surmount. foof court -image4I was at the airport last week, waiting and still waiting for my flight. Outside my gate the airline has opened a new, enticing, and seductive food court. The appeal was overwhelming. Nothing to do – eat. Hundreds of people milling about, entertaining themselves with visual delights, unable to control those leptin levels and indulging themselves regardless of the enormous physical cost. To boot, ten dollars for a tuna sandwich.

Is there anything one can do about it? Maybe the airline should give out those night masks before you get on the plane. On a serious note, exercising self-control is a challenge that so many of us fail.

However, can we do something with the other side of the formula? How do we rev up the calories out portion? Can we increase our daily energy expenditure on a regular basis? We all have daily schedules and patterns. Can they be modified to include higher caloric use? A more profound question emerges: does this higher caloric use translate into real health benefits?

Let’s begin with the famous studies done in England in the 1950’s and 60’s comparing bus drivers of double decker buses to conductors who climb up and down the stairs. The more active conductors had half the incidence of heart disease. Landmark studies conducted by Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, spanning his career, studying the effects of inactivity, obesity and heart disease showed a strong correlation between inactivity and heart disease. One study looked at the relationship between TV watching and markers for coronary heart disease. Spending hours in front of the tube, interrupted by getting up and going to the kitchen for beer and chips, may lead to eventual heart disease. Mother was right – TV is bad for you.

So what to do? Alter the basics.

We spend too much time sitting. Take those activities that you normally would do sitting and do them standing. “Screen time” has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Time spent sitting in front of the computer, the TV and hand held devices makes up the majority of our waking hours. Use that phone standing up. It can double caloric output. Skip that spectator sports event and do that exercise yourself. Who knows? You may end up with the “bod” of that swimmer on TV.

Climb those stairs.

One now classic study compared San Francisco factory workers in a five story building with no elevator. Those working on the top two floors had less heart disease and lived longer. The message is clear: find that stairwell and use it. Up and down. Never take an elevator or escalator 1-2 floors. Make it dogma.

Next up is walking.

For those who can walk to and from work the benefit is obvious. For others who need the car or train, make small alterations that go a long way. Park your car in the parking lot as far away from your destination. NEVER look for the closest parking spot.

Park a few blocks away from your destination. Need the train or bus, get off a stop before. Minimize emailing or texting a colleagues at work. Get up and speak to them. Walk to the theater or restaurant. Walk to the gym. Walk your children or grandchildren to school – the obesity epidemic has spread to them as well. Whenever you open that door and leave the house, ask the question- can I walk there? And back? Sure, it means spending time that can be used for other things. However, you are adding “time” down the “long road” ahead. Nothing is better than that.

Final message: calories in <CALORIES OUT

See more at 60isthenew50.com

 

More

Is Healthy Eating One of Your New Year’s Goals?

Is Healthy Eating One of Your New Year’s Goals?

Healthy eating can benefit you in many ways. It can help you live longer and become stronger. Good nutrition keeps your muscles, bones and organs in tip-top shape. A proper diet can also reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, healthy eating leads to consuming fewer calories and more nutrient-rich food that will keep your weight under control.

Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy diet can sharpen your mind, too. Nutrients are essential for the brain to function properly. Most kinds of nuts, but particularly walnuts, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that can improve focus and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s’ disease. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods enhances memory and mental alertness as you age.

Consuming wholesome meals rich in nutrients will give you more energy and help you look better. Looking better improves self-esteem. The way you eat and the way you feel are connected.  If you eat well by properly nourishing your body, you feel good.

This holiday season try to incorporate some of the following tips into your daily eating habits. If you start now by incorporating small changes, you won’t’ be so overwhelmed come January.

— Reduce sodium intake.

— Avoid white flour, refined sugar and white rice.

— Put five colors on your plate. Fruits and vegetables rich in color correspond to being rich in nutrients.

— Eat until you are satisfied, but don’t stuff yourself.

— Be mindful of beverage consumption.  Alcohol induces overeating.

— Make time for exercise.  It relieves stress and helps prevent weight gain.

And let me leave you with these thoughts:

Don’t’ restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday treats. Just be aware of how much you are consuming and limit the amount. Think twice about drinking a second glass of an alcoholic beverage.  Instead, incorporate healthy options of things you enjoy. One of my holiday favorites is alcohol-free eggnog. I have found the soy version every bit as rich and satisfying but with half the calories. Enjoy the holidays, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals and make time for physical activity. Give the gift of health to yourself starting now.

More

How Chocolate Can Alleviate Anxiety & Stress

How Chocolate Can Alleviate Anxiety & Stress

It’s OK to eat chocolate, but do so BEFORE you get uptight. Also, check the label to make sure it’s not loaded with milk and sugar.

Research has shown that obese women have higher levels of cortisol than those who maintain a healthy weight. Cortisol triggers the accumulation of fat, especially around organs and the abdomen, which can contribute to depression, heart disease and stroke. Yet a 2009 study found that people who ate 40 grams (1 ounce) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks saw a decrease in their cortisol levels. Another study in 2010 found that people who ate chocolate over the course of 30 days lowered their levels of anxiety.

But, timing is everything. Be sure to eat the right kind of chocolate before — not after — the onset of anxiety or stress. Those who ate chocolate in response to stress generally felt just as depressed after their chocolate fix as they did before. Their depressed feelings lasted approximately three minutes, which was long enough for them to reach for more chocolate.

Eating chocolate regularly in small amounts at the right time allows your body to slowly build up levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that regulate stress hormones. So, remember to slow down when consuming chocolate, and savor it is small doses for the best results.

Also remember to choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate because milk blocks your body’s ability to absorb the antidepressant antioxidants (polyphenols). So to make chocolate healthy food, you should eat it with at least 70% cocoa. The higher the percentage, the better it is for you. If the percentage it not clearly labeled on the wrapper, you should probably stay away from it.

It’s best to limit yourself to 40 grams of “good” chocolate a day. Divide the bars into servings about the size of the end joint of your thumb for best results. Eating more than 40 grams has no added benefit.

Eat the right kind of chocolate (70 percent and up) “mindfully,” as I like to say. Don’t’ chew or suck on it. Let it sit on your tongue and melt slowly. This causes the flavor to linger and tricks your brain into thinking you are eating the entire time. Mindful eaters are far less likely to overindulge.

If you don’t like the taste of low-sugar, dark chocolate, try adding cocoa powder (not Dutch chocolate, which has been heavily processed) to your foods. Add a few tablespoons to your morning oatmeal or other low-sugar cereals. Hot chocolate is good too, but make sure you use almond milk or soymilk, thus avoiding dairy fat. But limit yourself to eight tablespoons of cocoa powder a day.

More

Resolve to Take a Broad Approach to Weight Management this New Year

Resolve to Take a Broad Approach to Weight Management this New Year

Now that we are in the holiday season, many of us resign ourselves to the weight gain that typically follows. Indeed, it is very hard to pass up holiday sweets that seem to be everywhere as well as extra servings of a traditional family dish. That’s why so many weight loss books are published at this time promising a “New Year, New You.”

So it’s no surprise that the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.  But this year consider a broader approach to resolving the problem for more lasting success.  Here are 10 points that my health-coaching clients have incorporated into their weight-management programs that you may want to consider:

1. Sleep better.
2. Work out more, whether it is outside, at the gym or home.
3. Begin a daily mindfulness or meditation practice.
4. Drink more water and get rid of diet sodas.
5. Eat more vegetables and less meat.
6. Organize your home, workspace or both.
7. Make new friends and/or spend more time with those you already have.
8. Improve work/life balance to allow more time to take better care of yourself.
9. Quit tolerating an uncomfortable situation at home or work out of fear.  Define the problem and fix it.
10. Find an app or person to hold you accountable to whatever goal you are trying to achieve so you will create a lasting  new habit.

There is a lot of help available, so take advantage of it now so 2017 can be your best year yet!
More

Do You Know Why Tea is Good For You?

Do You Know Why Tea is Good For You?

Finally the cooler weather is upon us, which for me, is “tea time.” But, like most everything I consume, I play a game of sorts with myself to determine what’s healthiest for my body. However, tea is a bit different.

All varieties of tea — whether it is black tea, green, oolong (between green and black) or white —are good for me, and probably you too. The health benefits include keeping your mind sharp and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Yes, tea is the number two beverage, behind water, as the most sipped beverage worldwide is loaded with disease fighting plant compounds and antioxidants.

True teas are made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant. Differences in flavor and color depend on the how the leaves are rolled, crushed and exposed to air before drying. Herbal teas are infused with herbs and spices.

So like anything good for you, how much should you consume? Some experts recommend having 2-3 cups per day. Since tea, like coffee, has caffeine, balance your intake with de-caffeinated varieties or take fewer sips. Black tea has the most caffeine, with 72 mgs in 12 ounces, about half of what a cup of coffee would have in the same size serving. And if your preference is decaf tea, double up on the teas bags to get the same beneficial plant compounds because the de-caf process dilutes some of the healthy compounds.

A few words of warning, though: Don’t load up your tea with sugar and cream. This can add a huge whopping of calories and sugar to your healthy routine. Also if you do not peculiarly like tea, a supplement with the green tea extract powders is not OK. The benefits you might get are overshadowed by the risks of dizziness, ringing in the ears, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, liver damage and possible death. Need I say more!

More

Drink Up: The Health Benefits of Coffee

Drink Up: The Health Benefits of Coffee

One of the things I look forward to each morning is a cup of fresh-brewed coffee. In fact, I enjoy it so much I often list it as one of the three things I am grateful for each week. My morning Joe helps me to ease into my routine; it is my time to be quiet and savor the beginning of a new day.

What I have learned is that I am not alone, 54 percent of all adults in the United States drink coffee daily. If you fall into that category, you may be happy to learn that coffee drinking is a healthy habit. Coffee is full of disease-fighting antioxidants, as are many other plants. Yes, we often forget that coffee is actually a plant. The coffee bean contains more than 1,000 naturally occurring substances called “phytochemicals.” They are antioxidants that protect cells from damage by free radicals in your body.

Drinking coffee has also been shown to reduce tooth cavities, boost athletic performance, improve mood, and stop headaches. It also can reduce your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes, lower cancer risk, prevent strokes, and fight off Parkinson disease. Coffee also improves cognitive function as we age.

So how much coffee do we need to drink each day to reap these wonderful benefits?

Researchers have found that for those who drink four to six cups per day, versus only two or fewer, their risk for Type 2 diabetes decreased by almost 30 percent. The number decreases by 35 percent for people who drink more than six cups per day. Of course, my first thought when I read this was four to six cups a day is too much. I’d be bouncing off the walls. The good news is the benefits are the same if you drink decaffeinated coffee.

Regular black coffee only has two calories so it’s a great alternative beverage to soft drinks or energy drinks. The federal dietary guidelines state that up to five cups of coffee a day are in line with a healthy diet. But make sure you go easy on the cream, sugar and other additives… We don’t want to turn a healthy habit into something that negates the good!

More