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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category


Five Spring Stars

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Some of the great joys of spring line the produce aisles of you local produce store or farmers market. Along with the delicious spring harvest comes some great opportunities to up the nutrition content of your diet, while enjoying it more! Fresh, seasonal produce reaps the most nutritional value. We’ve picked five of our favorites to share with you!
 
• Apricots‘ long growing season last from May to August. Fresh apricots are an excellent source of Vitamins C, E, potassium, and iron, as well as being a great source of beta-carotene. Additionally, two to three apricots offer nearly 50% of your daily value of Vitamin A. Did I mention they’re a great source of fiber with the low-overhead of three for 50 calories!
 
• Artichokes are available year-round, but the best time for truly fresh artichokes is from March through May. A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable. Some of the powerful antioxidants in artichokes are quercertin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin. They are also a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C. A 2-ounce serving has about 3 grams of fiber… all that for just 25 calories!
 
• Asparagus is one of the first foods to signal the beginning of spring. Fresh asparagus are at their peak from March through June. They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K; and are also a very good source of chromium, which heightens the ability of insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Additionally, asparagus is rich in of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. Finally, each one of those green spears is brimming with antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Preliminary research shows it may even help slow the aging process!
 
• Sweet cherries have a short harvest season, from late spring to early summer. They’re not only a highly sought-after summer favorite, they’re a true super fruit! Chock full of antioxidants, they help replace free radicals in your body before they can cause any damage. They are rich in the flavanoid queritrin, one of the most potent anticancer agents and contain ellagic acid, a naturally occurring plant phenolic known as an anti-carcinogenic/anti-mutagenic compound, which some researchers say acid may be the most effective way to prevent cancer. It’s hard to find a treat that offers so much goodness along with great taste!
 
• Fava beans are a nutrient-dense food that provide a high amount of nutrients packed in a low amount of calories. You can get 10 to 19 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin B1 or thiamin, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium in just 1/4 cup of fava beans.They’re also an excellent source of folate, and manganese, supporting the immune system function and cardiovascular health while enabling metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. Fava beans also have 9 grams of fiber in that 1/4 cup and are particularly rich in soluble fiber which may help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
 
Leap into spring with a with these high-nutrient and anti-oxidant rich foods for a great, fresh start!
 
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Sleep

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Busy schedules, stress, family, and medical issues can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Four common problems that arise from lack of needed sleep are depression, memory loss, weakened immune system, and a lower tolerance for pain. Now, recent research indicates that the health costs of sleep deprivation is greater than previously thought.
 
A recent study restricted a group of young men to four hours of sleep for six consecutive nights. After the sixth night, researchers found levels of glucose spiked for the study participants while production of insulin, the hormone that removes sugar from the blood was reduced. The effect was so strong that the participants’ blood sugar levels rose to between normal and diabetic! Fortunately, blood sugar levels returned to normal after the individuals’ customary sleep patterns were restored, but long-term results remain unknown.
 
How much sleep is enough sleep? Requirements vary between individuals, however general guidelines are:
 
• Infants need about 16 hours a day
• Teenagers need about 9 hours on average per day
• Adults need 7 to 8 hours per day, keep in mind that individual requirements for adults vary widely.
 
Easier said than done? Many of us lie in bed at night, our minds racing with chores, careers and family issues. There are steps you can take that will help ease you into sleep.
 
• Go to bed the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
• Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment.
• Exercise daily (but not right before bedtime).
• Turn off the electronics — yes, the computer and cell phone!
• Relax before bedtime. A warm bath or reading both help muscles relax.
• Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day.
 
Feel better … be better, get your sleep!
 
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Children and Cardiovascular Health

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We have watched with dismay in the last 30 years as the rates of childhood obesity more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. Now we find there is more to this story. Recently published studies have found that kids are about fifteen percent less aerobically fit than their parents were at the same age! The findings of this research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013 in Dallas, TX.
 
For this large study, researchers analyzed 50 separate studies that concentrated on running and fitness between 1964 and the present that included more than 25 million children who ranged in ages from 9 to 17 years-old in 28 different countries. Timed runs, which were either a set amount of time or set distance, were used as the measure of cardiovascular strength and endurance.
 
The findings? Over the 46 years during which these studies were conducted, children’s cardiovascular endurance has decreased approximately five percent in every decade. This decrease in cardiovascular strength is accompanied by higher obesity rates. Along with sedentary lifestyles, researchers concluded that between 30 and 60 percent of the decline is directly the result of rising obesity. This decline is made evident by the finding that it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile now than it did in the 1980s!
 
How did this happen? Inactivity is the main culprit. Children no longer walk to school. Communities are designed without sidewalks, which discourages walking. Schools no longer offer daily physical education. Finally, our kids are sitting in front of the television or computer screens rather than becoming involved in physical activities.
 
This is a very serious situation, and the lack of a robust cardiovascular system can follow a child throughout his or her entire life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some important guidelines.
 
• Kids should exercise for at least 60 minutes a day, most of which should be aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, swimming, gymnastic or bicycling. A minimum of 3 days per week should include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
 
• Include muscle strengthening exercises, such as gymnastics, pull-ups or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes of fitness activity.
 
• Don’t forget bone-strengthening activities! Try jumping rope, gymnastics, running or hiking, also at least 3 days per week.
 
• Stretching offers more flexibility and help protect your child against injuries. Include side-stretches or toe-touching bends or go for martial arts, dance or gymnastics.
 
Give your children the gifts of a lifetime … help them pursue active and healthy lifestyles!
 
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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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