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Archive for September, 2013


In For The Count

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Whether you are a calorie counter or not, everyone has checked the the number of calories for a meal or item at some point.
 
A common question is, how many calories should you eat a day? That depends on a variety of factors, including age, size, and lifestyle. The Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference suggests that women between ages of 31-59 should eat between 1,800 and 2,200 calories, depending on their level of activity. Men in the same age group should eat between 2,200 and 2,800. Calorie usage varies between individuals and are only one factor in a healthy nutritional regimen. That said, it is important to understand what calories are.
 
A calorie is often described as a measure of heat. It is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water from 15° to 16° Celsius and is provided by fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Counting calories is a method to help balance the calories you consume with the calories you burn throughout the day. What you eat as the source of your calories is vitally important.
 
Counting calories can be difficult. We have busy lives and are eating out more than ever! Fast food and prepared dishes don’t help either. Twenty years ago, the average cheeseburger in the United States had 333 calories now it’s over 600 calories! A small order of french fries from a popular fast food restaurant has 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein and that’s not counting the 15 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates with every ketchup packet you use with those fries! Fats have the highest concentration of calories with nine calories per gram of pure fat. Pure protein and carbohydrates each have four calories per gram.
 
The best option is to eat fruits, vegetables, and other lower-fat foods. The simple fact is that you get more food for less calories! A cup of raw broccoli gives you 31 calories, but fill that cup with ice cream and you’re at 250. Additionally, you get all the great nutrients found in healthy, low-fat food, along with the fiber that will keep you feeling full longer!
 
If you eat the right kind of calories, you don’t need to count them. Nearly one-quarter of Americans’ calories come from sweets, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages (Did I mention there’s 7 calories per gram of pure alcohol?). Five percent comes from fruit-flavored drinks and salty snacks like potato chips, while fruits and vegetables make up a paltry 10% of the average American’s daily calorie intake. In other words, we’re not eating the nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as much as the empty, damaging things like candy, soft drinks and white bread that have been proven to contribute to many serious problems.
 
Count calories as a gauge to help balance your diet with your needs, but be sure those calories count when it comes to your health!
 
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Fall Fitness Goals

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Fall is a great time to make changes to your fitness routine. Summer is over, your activities and diet are changing with the season and you ‘fall’ into a new schedule. It’s a great time to take control of those changes and make some positive additions to your lifestyle. Autumn is also a season of practicality and budgeting, whether it’s time or finances! This actually makes it easier for you to set up a reasonable regimen that you can adhere to. You can always expand on your expectations after you’ve experienced some success.
 
Exercise and nutrition, of course, are the keys to positive health outcomes. Try these tips to get started.
 
• The fresh, cool summer weather is the perfect time to start — or restart — an aerobic regimen. Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, helps you lose or maintain weight and is great for the heart. Healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week, that averages out to between 11 and 22 minutes a day, depending on intensity. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobic classes, hiking, and stair climbing, among other things. Work up a sweat and get your heart pumping. Break up workouts into easy, moderate, and hard days.
 
• Regular resistance training will maximize fat loss, boost bone density, improve posture, develop muscle tone, and even slow down the aging process.
 
• Be more active throughout your day. Walk a few extra blocks, take the stairs, try dancing while you vacuum! The calories you burn will really make a difference!
 
• Drink at least eight glasses of water every day! The weather may be cooler, but your body still needs to be hydrated! Your body doesn’t function at its optimal level when dehydrated.
 
• Eat small meals throughout the day. Appetites increase in the cooler weather, eating smaller meals or snacks every two to three hours during the day will help suppress hunger. It will also help maintain a balanced blood sugar level throughout the day, which keeps your energy levels up.
 
• Pay attention to eating enough healthy food. Eat five vegetable and three fruit servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient rich with high water content and low fat and calories overhead. Fill up with fruits and vegetables and you won’t have room for the junk food!
 
• Keep a daily exercise and nutrition journal. Just the act of recording the food you eat and your workouts will help you make better fitness and nutrition choices.
 
Finally, set daily, achievable goals to help reach your long-term personal goal. Your long term goal may be to lose 20 pounds, your daily goals could be to exercise for 20 minutes, drink 8 glasses of water and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. They’re achievable and will go a long way towards your final goal.
 
Happy Fall! It’s all within your grasp, what are you waiting for?
 
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Knee Pain

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Is chronic knee pain putting a damper on your spring workout? More than one-third of Americans are affected by knee pain. Although many people think chronic pain is a normal part of aging, it can affect anyone – regardless of age. Close to 65% of Americans ages 18 to 34 or someone they care for have experienced chronic pain during the past year, and aching knees comes in as the second highest cause!
 
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers these suggestions to help ease knee arthritis pain and discomfort:
 
Alternate between warm and cool treatments. Different techniques that work for one person may not work for another, but alternating between cool compresses and warm moist heat does provide relief for many knee pain sufferers. Cool compresses reduce inflammation while warm moist heat relaxes and loosen tissues while stimulating blood flow to the area. Be careful and never leave heating pads/towels on for extended periods of time or while sleeping.
 
Strength and mobility training. The exercises you choose will depend on the strength of your knee. Aerobic exercise in a non-weight bearing environment – swimming or bicycling for example– can help you lose weight which will reduce the strain on your knees.
 
Stretch. Stretching the muscles and tendons surrounding the joint can help with some causes of knee pain.
 
Wear appropriate shoes. Shoes absorb the shock during movement. If they don’t, the shock moves up to your knee. For more information on the best shoe for you read our July, 2011 post If the Shoe Fits.
 
There are nutritional alternatives that will help you reduce or manage arthritis pain.
 
Anthocyanins. You can help reduce inflammation by inhibiting production of inflammatory chemicals with the antioxidant anthocyanin. Anthocyanins contribute to the health of connective tissue, and are even more powerful than vitamin C for eliminating the free radicals that irritate body tissues and cause inflammation. Add anthocyanins to your diet with cherries, blackberries, black currents, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, raspberries, boysenberries, red and black grapes, strawberries, and plums.
 
Ginger and Turmeric. Many spices contain beneficial phytonutrients that can have powerful effects on health. Tumeric and ginger have been show to have anti–inflammatory effects, and are beneficial for joint health.
 
Green Tea. A refreshing beverage cold or hot, green tea contains a natural antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Studies suggest that EGCG works to stop the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body, including those involved in arthritis. Early research indicates that EGCG and other catechins in green tea may also prevent cartilage from breaking down, extending your joint health.
 
Olive Oil. Olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal which may help prevent arthritis-related inflammation by blocking the same inflammatory pathways as medications commonly used to fight arthritis pain. Use olive oil when cooking instead of vegetable oil or butter. For the highest antioxidant content, choose “extra virgin” olive oil.
 
Omega-3 Fats. Many foods increase inflammation, but omega-3s actually work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage. Participants in a number of studies have reported more energy, heightened strength, a reduction of joint swelling and tenderness, and less stiffness and pain when omega-3s are included in their nutritional regimen. The best foods for omega-3 fatty acids are include salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, flaxseed, and walnuts.
 
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the nutrients most responsible for the health of collagen, a major component of cartilage. Research also indicates that people who eat a diet low in vitamin C have a greater risk of developing some kinds of arthritis. Make vitamin C rich food a part of your daily nutrition regimen. Guava, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, kidney beans, kiwi, and cauliflower are all excellent sources of vitamin c.
 
Finally, avoid sugar and foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eat high fiber foods like whole grains and legumes. Studies have shown that high fiber diets are anti-inflammatory.
 
Don’t let joint pain stop you from enjoying a full and healthy lifestyle!
 
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Water Facts

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We all know we need to drink water, and you may feel you’ve heard it all before. However, research shows that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration … be sure you don’t let the term ‘mild’ fool you! A consistent state of dehydration has serious effects. Tending to your fluid intake is a year-round concern, but it’s even more important in warm weather.
 
Your body is composed of about 60% water. These fluids accomplish numerous vital tasks and facilitate all chemical processes in the body– digestion, nutrient absorption, circulation, maintenance of body temperature and much more! A reduction of as little as 4-5% in body water results in a 20-30% decrease in performance, while a 10% decrease causes significant health risks. Here are a few specifics:
 
• A recent study separated 48 inactive, overweight and obese Americans aged 55 to 75 into two equal groups. The control group followed a calorie-controlled diet; the second group followed exactly the same diet, but also drank 2 metric cups of water before each meal for 12 weeks. Both groups lost weight on average, but the water-drinking group lost an average of 5 additional pounds! In other words, drinking water before meals made the diet 30% more effective.
 
• Dehydration causes cells to shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue.
 
• Drinking enough fluid is important when exercising. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking approximately 17 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise, and the replacement of fluids lost by sweating at regular intervals during a workout.
 
• Your skin contains a lot of water and it is your body’s protection against fluid loss.
 
• Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. Your kidneys cleanse the body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate. Additionally, if your water intake is consistently low, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, particularly in warm climates.
 
• Water even lubricates your joints!
 
You should drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day… if that sounds like a lot try these tips to get started!
 
• Start every day by drinking 1-2 glasses of water in the morning.
 
• Keep a water pitcher in the refrigerator.
 
• Carry a thermos of water with you.
 
• Drink water before you feel thirsty; if you feel thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated.
 
• Drink pure water — if you’re unsure of your tap water, there are plenty of excellent, reasonably priced filters.
 
• Avoid juices and sodas that are high in sugar content.
 
• For every eight ounces of a caffeinated beverage or alcohol you drink, supplement with an additional eight ounces of water.
 
Water… truly the fountain of life!
 
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