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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category


The Dark Side of Sodas

[Written by Peter Nielsen].

You may or may not drink cola or sodas, but you undoubtedly have a dear friend or family member who does! We’ve heard over and over again that sodas are an important factor in obesity, which is a huge cause for concern in it’s own right. Recent developments show that obesity is just the tip of the iceberg, and many more serious issues linked to soda consumption lie below the surface.

In news this week of was the story a 31 year old woman from Monaco who was hospitalized after fainting. Blood tests indicated that she had severely low potassium levels, further tests of her heart’s electrical activity revealed she had a condition called long QT syndrome, which can cause erratic heart beats. She told her doctors that since the age of 15, she had not drunk any water, just cola — about 2 liters daily! Doctors recommended she abstain from soda, which she did and after just one week, the woman’s potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal. The case was presented this week at the European Heart Rhythm Association meeting in Athens, Greece.

Researchers also found six reports of excessive cola consumption that are thought to be causative factors in serious medical problems, including heart rhythm problems. Additional studies will examine whether those who drink cola excessively have lower potassium levels than people who don’t drink cola.

Admittedly, this is an extreme case. However there are more issues associated with soda drinking than the news of possible heart problems caused by cola and other soft drinks — a lot more!

• Drinking too much cola may cause excess water to enter the bowels, which in turn leads to diarrhea, and loss of potassium, the researchers said. High amounts of caffeine found in colas can increase urine production and decrease potassium reabsorption. Potassium plays a role in helping a person’s heartbeat, and low levels of potassium may cause heart rhythm problems

• In one experiment, the sugar from one soft drink damaged white blood cells ability to ingest and kill gonococcal bacteria for seven hours.

• Sodas contain large quantities of phosphorus which, as mentioned above, leeches calcium from the bones when excreted. Heavy users of soft drinks will suffer from osteoporosis along and damaged arteries.”

• The Naval Medical Research Institute put human teeth in a cola beverage and found they softened and started to dissolve within a short period of time.

• One liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about fifty-six milligrams of methanol. If someone drinks several sodas in a a single day, the amount of methanol produced is 32 times the EPA limit.

• Continuously high levels of sodium in the diet and the bloodstream causes a type of acute hypernatremia — an electrolyte disturbance that is defined by an elevated sodium level in the blood generally caused by a relative deficit of free water in the body — which keeps our sodium potassium pump slightly dysregulated and throws off the electrical system of the brain.

• It’s also important to note that aspartame, found in diet sodas, contains methyl or wood alcohol, which can affect fetal brain development.

What could be more important for your health if you’re a regular soda drinker than to quit the habit!

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Some Nutty News

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
There’s another reason to add walnuts to your diet! New research from the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that walnuts may reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes in women.
 
The study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, included 138,000 nurses between the ages of 35 and 77 as part of a large, ongoing research of women’s health. As part of this study, scientists gathered information on walnut consumption by participants for 10 years starting in 1999. They found that women who ate walnuts tend to weigh less, eat more fish and work out more than those who did not. Because of this, the researchers made allowances for for body fat and weight. They found that eating walnuts one to three times a month lowered the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 4%. Eating them once a week dropped the risk by 13%, while participants who ate them at least twice a week reduced the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 24%!
 
This research further boosts walnut’s reputation as an important addition to healthy diets.
 
• The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a study that showed that eating walnuts as part of a Mediterranean diet protects against brain functioning decline that can occur with aging. Findings indicated that walnuts were linked to improved memory in the study participants, while other kinds of nuts were not.
 
• A study at the conducted at Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia found that eating about 28 walnut halves a day provides may help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Mice were fed a daily diet that included the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts. Walnut eaters had significantly decreased breast tumor incidence and a slower rate of tumor growth than mice that were fed a control diet.
 
• A study by researchers from the University of Scranton found that walnuts have more antioxidants than other nuts like cashews, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios.
 
• Walnuts are rich in omega-3s, making them beneficial in reducing depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cancer. Strong evidence also exists that omega-3s can protect against inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
 
• Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that walnuts and walnut oil lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress, indicating that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.
 
Other nuts are healthy, and you should include them in your diet. However it’s interesting to note that study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that walnuts have higher quality antioxidants and a mix of more healthful antioxidants than any other nut … walnuts, they really are all they’re cracked up to be!
 
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Gluten Facts

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Gluten-free products are showing up on grocery shelves everywhere and more and more people are tweaking their diets to reduce their gluten intake. However, many people have never heard of gluten allergies or gluten allergies. Gluten makes up 20 percent of global calorie intake and is a basic staple in many diets. It is found in wheat and other grains like rye, barley, and spelt. While you never go to the store to but a pound of it, it’s gluten that gives certain foods a great, chewy texture, helps dough to rise and is a vital ingredient in most your backed goods .
 
While gluten is a protein that can cause serious problems for some people, it’s very difficult to avoid. Not only is gluten the primary protein found in some grains, it shows up in unexpected places! You’ll find it in various brands of chocolate, imitation crab, soy sauce, certain vitamin brands and even some toothpaste! Gluten is also difficult to digest completely. One out of thirteen people have celiac disease; for them gluten can be a matter of life or death. Celiac disease sufferers are so sensitive to gluten that even a very small amount can cause serious illness, gluten damages the lining of their small intestines and can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from chronic diarrhea and abdominal cramping to osteoporosis. For them, being aware of the hidden gluten in products is a constant struggle.
 
You may not have celiac disease, but you can still be gluten-sensitive. If so, you should cut back on your gluten intake. There has been a significant increase in our gluten intake over the past 50 years and we are just beginning to understand the impact rise has on our health. How do you know if you’re gluten-sensitive? Eating foods with gluten triggers different symptoms, the most common are:
 
• stomach pains
• bloating
• heartburn
• joint pains
• headache
• skin rashes
• fatigue
• insomnia
• brain fog
 
If you are gluten-sensitive, it probably won’t require giving up gluten entirely. There are many gluten-free product to replace items in your current diet, such as crackers and pasta, and a gluten-free diet may not be that difficult, particularly if you’re already eating a mediterranean diet. Fill your plate vegetables and fruits, lean meats, fish and poultry, brown rice and quinoa, nuts and seeds, beans and other legumes, and healthy fats, like extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil.
 
If your symptoms are severe, be tested for celiac disease. Diagnostic tests for celiac become unreliable if you are not eating gluten. It’s a test worth taking … the results could transform your health!
 
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Walk Against Back Pain

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
At some point in their lives, 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and is a leading contributor to missed work, costing Americans at least $50 billion each year in health care costs. Often, lower back pain goes away within a few days, but not all of us are that lucky! Now there’s good news if you or a loved one suffers from back pain!
 
New research shows that adopting a simple aerobic walking program that includes walking two to three times a week for a period of 20 to 40 minutes can be as effective to reduce lower back pain as strengthening rehabilitation programs that depend on specialized equipment in clinics. A walking regimen fits easily into a daily routine and offers people with back pain more control and more responsibility for their own health.
 
The study, published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, found that when people actively walk, the abdominal and back muscles work in basically the same way as when doing exercises that target those areas. Unlike muscle strengthening programs, which often call for specific equipment and can involve exercises that require expert supervision, and it is a simple activity that can be done alone.
 
The study included 52 patients with lower back pain who participated in a randomized control trial. At the onset of the research, participants were assessed for pain levels, feelings of disability, limitations on daily activities, and walking endurance. Half of the group completed a typical clinic-based muscle strengthening program, with two to three exercise sessions a week for six weeks. The other half completed a six-week aerobic walking program, walking two to three times weekly, starting with 20 minutes of walking and progressing to 40 minutes as their endurance improved. Both groups improved significantly in all areas, and the walking program was found to be as effective as clinical treatment. The walking program has the additional advantage of encouraging patients to follow an overall healthier lifestyle.
 
Spring will be here soon, what better time to take up a new walking program! It’s a great low-impact activity that lowers blood pressure, boosts brain and immune system functioning, and reduces stress. It can also save your back!
 
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Healthy and Glowing

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Beautiful, healthy skin projects fitness and youth. You can attain and keep that healthy glow with a nutritious, balanced diet. In fact, a healthy diet is absolutely essential to achieving glowing skin, because it allows your skin to heal, combats aging, and prevents inflammations. Adopt a nutritional regimen with the right types of protein, carbohydrates and fat, fruit and vegetables, and plenty of water, you’ll notice an improvement in the condition of your skin in just a few days.
 
• Here are a few guidelines that will help you on your way to a glowing complexion!
• Eat protein to repair skin cells. Good sources are turkey, fish, boneless skinless chicken, egg whites. If your a vegetarian go for sprouts, seeds, cheese, peas, grains, nuts, milk and soy bean!
• Eat fatty fish to boost the condition of cell membranes, the building blocks of healthy skin.
• Almonds, olive oil and rapeseed oil are high in antioxidant-rich monounsaturated fat to aid in rejuvenating skin cells.
• Keep your skin hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.
• Vitamins A and B, found in milk, yogurt and oily fish, are essential for maintained glowing skin.
• The vitamin C in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli and cabbage provides collagen to heals your skin and keeps it firm.
• Vitamin E promotes healing and prevents dry skin and the formation of age spots. Foods rich in vitamin E include wheat germ, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, olives and vegetable oils.
 
If you’re concerned about your skin becoming lax, remember, deeply colored fruits and dark, leafy greens have a higher concentration of skin-tightening and healing nutrients. Dark leafy greens such as kale renew your skin so that it actually looks and feels tighter, while lentils, beans and other legumes can prevent damage to your skin and make you look younger.
 
To maintain your healthy glow, don’t smoke, wear sunscreen during the day, and stay out of the sun during the afternoon.
 
Follow these nutrition tips, protect against sun damage, sleep well and you’ll have healthier, glowing skin in a week … and it just gets better!
 
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Strengthen Your Most Important Muscle

People usually exercise to improve what’s on the outside—slim waist, bulging biceps, six-pack abs. But don’t forget what’s on the inside.
 
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
 
Regular exercise leads to a healthier heart. The AHA states that 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day five times a week can counter conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and poor cholesterol levels—all of which contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
 
Happy New Year to a Healthier You
 
Elliptical machines, treadmills and stationary bikes are ideal for achieving a healthier lifestyle. They provide a low-impact option to running and are much easier on knees, hips and lower back. Having one of these machines at home makes it convenient to get your workout in before or after work or while watching TV.
 
Easily adjustable resistance and inclination makes these machines fully customizable to your fitness level.
 
Those who favor early-morning workouts will tell you they are more energized during the day, and their increased metabolism helps them burn more calories throughout the day. Those who prefer working out after dinner find that it helps relieve the day’s stress and can make it easier to fall asleep.
 
Bottom line; continue to work on the biceps and abs to look good. To feel good and be healthier, be sure to add aerobic exercises to your workouts. Your heart, lungs and family members will thank you for it.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Get Fit Simply

Join the exercise craze of the season.
 
Readers of this magazine know about my passion for golf. Whenever Michigan’s weather and personal commitments allow it, you’re likely to find me at my favorite course playing or practicing. During the offseason, I’m frequently found either at an indoor driving range or at the local gym, focusing on several exercises to improve my game. My goal this winter is to improve my core muscles and my legs, both critical to improving club speed, which results in added distance, and one of the tools I will employ in my quest is the Simply Fit Board® Exercise Board I picked up from Dunham’s Sports.
 
After a successful national television commercial launch this year, the Simply Fit Board® has gained a lot of popularity and promises to be the exercise craze of the season. Chances are you’ve seen commercials for it – men and women twisting their way to tighter abs and more toned legs.
 
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recognizes some of the benefits of balance training for rehabilitating certain injuries, strengthening muscles and improving postural alignment. Even the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that balance exercises can improve stability. For me, I like its lightweight and convenience. I can hop on the Simply Fit Board® any time and it easily stores out of the way.
 
When I first started using it, I felt the workout more in my legs than in the abs. To truly engage my core muscles, I added hand weights, making all the difference. I also like that the Simply Fit Board® further improves my balance, another critical component to the golf swing.
 
The Simply Fit Board® comes with a user guide and a workout DVD that includes instruction ranging from basic exercises to more advanced ones. If you don’t already have a set, I strongly recommend visiting your local Dunham’s Sports store to get yourself some hand weights; they will come in handy for nearly every exercise featured in the DVD. Be sure to start with something light, such as 3-lb. dumbbells, and work your way up.
 
As with any workout regimen, it’s important to talk to your doctor and follow instructions closely, keeping knees bent and the back straight while on the board. If you plan on using the Simply Fit Board® on hardwood floors, the manufacturer recommends placing a small, tight woven rug with rubber backing (on hardwood floors or other hard surfaces) to protect the board and your floors.
 
The Simply Fit Board® is available in orange, green, magenta or blue. I believe it will be a suitable supplement to my gym workouts and will replace some of my couch time with a more suitable, healthier alternative.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Have a Happy, Healthy Christmas

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Holiday gatherings, seasonal treats, and celebratory menus can wreak havoc a healthy nutrition regimen for even the most dedicated dieter. Last week we listed several pointers to avoid stress while preparing for your celebrations. Finally, it’s time enjoy the holiday! Remember, one meal or one day of celebration is not going to doom you to obesity when if you ‘fall off the wagon’ when you eat healthy foods and exercise the rest of the year. Allow yourself enough latitude to enjoy the day and get back to work the next day with these helpful hints.
 
• Eat breakfast! Skipping breakfast sets you up for overeating later in the day!
 
• Plan. If you’ve reached your tipping point and have decided to lose, target for a 1 pound loss during the next week. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 to 300 calories and burn off 200 to 300 calories a day for a weekly deficit of 3,500 calorie. Add an extra day to your exercise routine. Don’t have routine? Walk for fifteen minutes a day!
 
• Start a food diary. Research proves that keeping a food diary is a valuable weight loss technique. Start again to track what you’re eating and how much, it’s a real eye-opener!
 
• Control snacking. Drink a glass of water instead of reaching for the left over Christmas cookies, then wait about 10 minutes to see if you are really hungry. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger, if you’re still hungry, have a small, healthy snack.
 
• Don’t skip meals. Research has shown that eating regular meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours can keep you from overeating.
 
• Stay active. If you didn’t get any exercise today, relieve that belly bloat by going for a 10-minute walk after eating.
 
• Get enough sleep. Research shows there are links between inadequate sleep and obesity. A study from Case Western Reserve University of about 68,000 middle-age women found that those who slept 5 or fewer hours were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain, and 15% more likely to become obese, than those who slept an average of 7 hours.
 
• Eat slowly to make your meal last longer. Research shows the more chewing you do, the more nutrients your body absorbs. It takes 20 minutes for the body to register that it’s satisfied, slower eating will cut down on the second helpings!
 
Leave the guilt behind. It will only get in your way, and make it harder to get back on track!
 
Happy Holidays to you and all your loved ones!
 
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Avoid The Holiday Blues

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The final week before Christmas can incur an amazing amount of stress. ’Do I have presents for everyone?,’ ‘I’m really looking forward to Jerry’s party, but I’m just so tired.’ ‘I haven’t made cookies yet!’ ‘I really miss my mom … or my dad … or my sister.’ The joy and companionship enjoyed this time of year is a true blessing, but it can come with a price. You can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays and enjoy them more than ever! You may even be able to spread a little more cheer!
 
• Be realistic. Set realistic expectations. We are barraged with ‘things’ we need for the ‘perfect’ holiday everywhere we go. Remember the true meaning of the holiday. Choose a few special traditions to continue and allow new ones into your lives. If you’re separated from loved ones during the holidays, celebrate together with videos and pictures. If you’re technically savvy, try opening your present together via Skype!
 
• Share the Peace on Earth. Set aside differences with family loved ones. Be patient and understanding if others are upset or distressed, or something doesn’t go as planned. The holidays may be even more stressful for those around you.
 
• Budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend before you go shopping and stick to it! If times are difficult, give homemade gifts or baked goods. Donate to a friend or family member’s favorite charity in their name.
 
• Plan. Plan ahead for shopping, baking, and visiting. Make shopping lists for baking to avoid multiple last-minute trips to the store. If there are too many events for your schedule, plan on the important ones and take on the extra activities when you can enjoy them — and be enjoyable company!
 
• Pay attention to your health. Holidays can become a time of over-reaching self-indulgence. Get plenty of sleep and stay active…it will pay off in the long run.
 
• Take some time for yourself. Put aside a little time for rejuvenation … your loved ones will be thankful. Go for a long walk, relax with your favorite music or read that book you bought 2 weeks ago! After spending some time recharging yourself, you find yourself more productive — and lovable — than ever!
 
• Volunteer. Many charitable organizations are also suffering due to the economic downturn. Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter where you and your family can volunteer. Participate in a giving tree or an adopt-a-family program. Helping those who suffering may help you put your own struggles into perspective. Sharing the goodwill of the season is a good way to brighten the day for yourself and others.
 
• Accept your feelings. If you’re away from loved ones, or have recently lost someone close to you, it’s normal to feel sadness and grief, especially during the holidays. Take time to express your feelings. Look for community, religious or other social events.
 
Try a little planning and you’ll be amazed at how a little planning and positive thinking can help you find peace and joy during the holidays.
 
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