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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category


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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Age-defying Menu Items

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Summer brings a cornucopia of age-defying goodness along with beautiful weather for outside activities … boost the results of your summer workouts with some healthy food items with long-lasting results! Why do these foods make onto our menu for youth? The list is long, but most are rich in anti-oxidants, protecting you from the damage caused by free radicals. Protect your skin, your eyes, and your immune system with these great summer treats … you may even be able to control the number of fat cells your body produces! You’ll not only look and feel better, you’ll be healthier!
 
Asparagus is a natural detoxifier and diuretic; it is a good source of Vitamin K and C, folate, and phytonutrients – especially glutathione an important antioxidant. A great source of fiber, asparagus also offers inulin, a prebiotic that helps the probiotics in your digestive tract flourish. Get your fresh asparagus locally from May through June.
 
Avocado‘s oleic acid give it a starring role on the health roster. Various studies indicate that this monounsaturated fat can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol). They’re an excellent source of carotenoids, delivering high-quality vitamin A for eye health while supporting the immune system and promoting healthy functioning of the reproductive system. They’re also a good source of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins C, K, and folate!
 
Basil can help suppress inflammation, it is also rich in orientin and vicenin, two water-soluble flavanoids that protect cell structure and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. The beta-carotene found in basil may help to lessen the progression of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis while protecting cells from further damage. Get the most out of basil by eating it fresh on salads or in pesto!
 
Blueberries seem to make all the ‘healthy food lists here, but that’s only because they’re a known superfood with a wide variety of benefits. Years of research have linked anthocyanin, the flavonoid that gives blueberries their color, with improved memory. Good news … recent studies show that we can freeze blueberries without losing the anthocyanin antioxidants!
 
Garlic and its relatives -— including onions, chives, leeks, and shallots — contain sulfur compounds that may protect blood vessels and help prevent heart attacks and stroke along with cancer-fighting properties. Early research suggests that garlic consumption may actually help to regulate the number of fat cells that get formed in our bodies!
 
Kale is filled with carotenoids and flavonoid, giving it particularly high marks for fighting disease, particularly cancer. Kale is a great source of fiber and sulfur, which makes it a great detox to keep your liver healthy! High in vitamin K, it helps protect against various cancers, aids in normal bone health and the prevention of blood clots … increased levels of vitamin K can even help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease!
 
Thyme contains a variety of flavonoids, including apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin which increase thyme’s antioxidant capacity, it’s also a very good source of manganese, giving thyme a high standing on the list of anti-oxidant foods. Additionally, thyme’s volatile oils have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can neutralize disease-causing pathogens, including some strains of E. coli and staphylococcus.
 
Salmon is not only an excellent source of omega-3s, it’s packed with the carotenoid astaxanthin that protect eyes and joints, boosts the immune system, and helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Recent studies find that In particular, adults adults who ate fatty fish twice a week had a 35 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease!
 
Eating fresh produce and fish not only tastes great … you get huge nutrition returns that help you live healthy, youthful and fit for all those summer plans!
 
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Muscle Cramps

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Cramps — also called charley horses – afflict 39 percent of marathon runners, 79 percent of triathletes, and 60 percent of cyclists at some time, but they’re not alone! Cramps can occur anywhere and to anyone. Whether you’re young or old, extremely active or usually sedentary, chances are you’ve experienced a muscle cramp. Researchers have found that infants, the elderly, the overweight, and athletes are at the greatest risk for muscle cramps, which demonstrates how wide-spread they are!
 
During common cramps, muscles of your calf or foot suddenly become hard, tight, and extremely painful. They are are caused by muscle spasms, involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. While most common in the foot and calf muscles, the front and back of the thigh, the hands, arms, abdomen, and muscles along the rib cage are also common locations for cramps. They occur during, immediately after, or as long as six hours after a workout.
 
The specific factors that lead to muscle cramps has not been clearly defined, however there are several possible causes, including:
 
• Strain on the calf muscles while exercising.
• Insufficient stretching before working out.
• Muscle fatigue.
• Dehydration.
• Magnesium and potassium deficiencies.
• Spinal cord injuries.Pinched neck or back nerves.Poor blood circulation in the legs.
 
If you find yourself grimacing with charley horses there are a few things you can try!
 
• Eat foods high in vitamins and magnesium and calcium.
• Drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated.
• Stretch properly before exercise.
 
Muscle cramps usually go away in a few minutes, but if you experience them frequently for no apparent reason you may want speak to your doctor. Your body may be try to tell you something!
 
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Simple Steps for a Healthier Summer

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The American Institute for Cancer Research has come up with some great summer ideas that will make a big difference in your overall health and reduce your risk of cancer. They’re small, targeted steps, but they can do a lot to change the big picture! Staying fit and healthy can be difficult anytime, but these simple changes are great steps to ease positive changes into your lifestyle!
 
• Trade in the soda and sugary drinks for water and fruit-infused water. Despite all the warnings about soda, 48% of Americans consume soda daily … and they’re drinking 2.5 glasses a day! These calories can contribute to excess weight gain, a factor in cancer risk. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice with a few strawberries into a glass of ice water … it’s more refreshing and healthier!
 
• Having a hard time scheduling a traditional gym workout? Go for several breaks throughout the day. It has long been accepted that inactivity plays a part in cancer risk and new research indicates that sitting for long periods of time can increase cancer risk even among people who exercise daily. Rev up your day with walks, take on a few flights of stairs during your break, stand up while you’re on the phone … get creative! The American Institute for Cancer Research advises at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
 
• Drop the full-fat ice cream and opt for a fruity berry/yogurt parfait, frozen yogurt or sorbet. Make fruit the star of dessert. Ice cream can come with the hefty price tag of 270 calories and 18 grams of fat into half a cup! You’ll not only slash the number of calories you take in, you’ll receive the nutritional bonus that comes with berries and fruit juices!
 
• Go for the home-cooked meal instead of dining out. It may seem easier and faster to eat out and cooking can be draining in this weather, but people consume 50% more calories, fat and sodium when eating out instead of at home! Dining out also limits the variety, availability and amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other vitamin-rich “super foods” that reduce the risk of cancer.
 
• Expand your salad horizons! Replace that iceberg lettuce with nutrient-rich like spinach, arugula, collards, and kale. Many consider greens the number one food you can eat regularly to help improve your health. They provide fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and research shows that dark leafy greens can protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach.
 
• Say ‘no thanks’ to white bread. The important nutrients found in whole grains have been removed from refined grains. The outer layer of a grain is rich in minerals, vitamins and important phytochemicals and they’re rich in dietary fiber to protect against colorectal cancer.
 
• Love barbecue but concerned about the carcinogens created when meat chars? Try veggies .. grill up a portabella mushroom or a veggie kabob. Veggies don’t create carcinogens when they brown. For extra flavor, marinade your veggies first. If you don’t have time to marinade, brush lightly with olive or canola oil for that great, carmelized flavor. Not only are veggies rich in nutrients and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, they will help you cut down on red meat. Remember, consuming too much red meat raises the risk of colorectal cancer so try to restrict your red meat intake to no more than 18 ounces per week.
 
Try these simple ideas and have a happy, healthy summer that will give you a lift year-round!
 
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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
 
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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You’re Still Not Eating Breakfast?

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We all have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many people — including 60 percent of young people — still don’t eat before starting their day! Now, a new study has found that eating a breakfast rich in protein is also an important factor in appetite control that and reduces unhealthy night-time snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods!
 
The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examines the impact of eating breakfast on daily appetite and evening snacking in young people, especially those who skip breakfast. For the study, 20 overweight or obese adolescent women, ages 18-20, either skipped breakfast, ate a high-protein breakfast, or ate ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. All breakfasts consisted of 350 calories and were matched for dietary fat, fiber, sugar and energy density, however, the high-protein breakfast which also contained 35 grams of protein. Participants in the study completed questionnaires and provided blood samples throughout the day. Before dinner, a brain scan (fMRI) was performed to track the brain signals that control food motivation and eating behaviors.
 
The consumption of the high-protein breakfast led to increased feeling of fullness or ‘satiety’ and reduced the brain activity that controls food cravings. This led to healthier, less impulsive food choices throughout the day.
 
A high-protein breakfast also helps fuel your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories. Not eating breakfast heightens the risk of becoming increasingly resistant to insulin, which enables your body to convert glucose to energy for basic activities and also raises the risk of diabetes.
 
A high-protein breakfast offers many health benefits, but remember to eat high-protein options that low in fat. Red meat and rich cheeses are high in saturated fats that can overshadow the daily benefits. Go for lean protein choices like egg white white omelets, skim milk, or low-fat yogurt. Introduce tofu into your daily regimen by adding it to a fruit smoothie for a satisfying, refreshing way to start the day. Finding lean protein sources will allow you to reap the benefits of a high-protein breakfast, without the weight gain or raised cholesterol levels that can result from high-fat protein sources.
 
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Fats, Sugar and Salt

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The massive amount of salts, sugars and fats in our diet has taken over health news this week, and it’s about time! Consumption of salty, sugary and fatty foods has skyrocketed in the United States. We now consume more than three times the amount of cheese than in the 1970′s — 33 pounds of cheese per year, along with 70 pounds of sugar and six pounds of salt!
 
Journalist Michael Moss’ new book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked investigates how food scientists design foods to specifically target our “bliss point” of sugar, salt and fat when creating new food products, and the damage that diets with an overabundance of processed food has caused to our national health. As shocking as this information may seem, Moss’ work follows the 1990 work of the past commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler. In his book The End of Overeating, Kesslert presents strong arguments that extremely high levels of salt, fat, and sugar in the American diet thus encourage us to overeat by stimulating the pleasure areas of our brains.
 
Reducing fats, sugar and salt in our diets is made more difficult by the ease of access to processed foods and busy schedules, but it’s vital to make the change to ensure a long, healthy life. A few rules to keep in mind are:
 
Reduce Fat Intake
 
• Eat less cholesterol by limiting egg yolks to 4 per week and reduce meat and poultry a to maximum of 6 ounces a day
• Reduce saturated fat intake of red meat, dairy products and saturated cooking oils
• Eat less trans fat found in stick margarine and shortening
• Limit total fat intake to less than 30% of total daily calories
 
Reduce salt intake
 
• Eat less canned and dried soups, fast foods, prepared meals, processed meats
• Keep away from canned sauces and vegetables, look for low-sodium labels.
 
Reduce sugar intake
 
• Eat more fruits, vegetables, multigrain breads, and cereals
• Eat at least 20-35 grams/day of dietary fiber from a wide variety of foods.
• Experiment with recipes by gradually reducing the amount of sugar by 1/4th then 1/3rd then 1/2.
• Use sweet spices—cinnamon cloves ginger or nutmeg—to bring out sweetness in baked goods.
 
Maintain a healthy weight
 
• Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. Regular exercise improves control of blood sugar and is an important part of any healthy lifestyle.
• Always read the food labels for fat, sugar, and salt, and eat fresh foods rather than processed whenever possible.
• Choose healthy snacks for your munchie attacks!
 
Americans eat 1.2 billion pounds of the worst dietary offender — potato chip! The salt, the fat and high sugar content in the form of starch in potato chips create an immediate sense of pleasure, and it’s true — you can’t eat just one! So next time you reach for a chip, remember, a daily 1-ounce serving of about 15 chips contains about 160 calories and cause approximately 1.70 pounds of weight gain every 4 years. So, drop the chips and grab a piece of fruit!
 
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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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Mediterranean Diet News

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The Mediterranean diet has taken the spotlight in health news again, and the news is great for heart health! A new Spanish study found that a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables is even more effective at helping people with high risks for cardiovascular problems avoid heart trouble than a low-fat diet.
 
The study included a five year follow-up, during which participants who followed a Mediterranean diet with an emphasis on olive oil or nuts had a 30 percent greater reduction of risk for a heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease. Participants on a low-fat diet also improved, but to a lesser degree. These finding were published Feb. 25 in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The results will also be presented this week at the International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition in Loma Linda, Calif.
 
This study involved almost 7,500 men and women, whose ages ranged from 55 to 80 at the beginning of the study in 2003. Fifty-seven percent of the participants were women. Participants had risk factors such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or high cholesterol, but no history of heart attacks or strokes. They were broken into three groups; a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet with a focus on nuts, and a Mediterranean diet that focused on olive oil. Both of the groups on the Mediterranean diet also ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, and drank wine with meals. The nutritional regimen of the low-fat group included low-fat dairy, bread, potatoes, fruits and vegetables and lean fish. Oils, baked goods, nuts, red and processed meat and fatty fish were avoided for all particpants.
 
The results? A 30 per cent reduction in risk of heart disease for those on the Mediterranean diet over those on the low-fat diet! This is great, significant news, and if you’re not aware of the basics of a Mediterranean diet, this news should spur you on to learn more. Here are the basics:
 
• Food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
 
• A variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods.
 
• Olive oil as the principal fat, replacing other fats and oils.
 
• Consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish or poultry, a maximum of 7 eggs per week — including eggs used in food preparation.
 
• Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert.
 
• If red meat is part of your normal diet, eat a maximum of 12 to 16 ounces of lean cuts per month.
 
• Regular physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, fitness and well-being.
 
New studies on various low-fat and vegan diets are in process now, but for a tried and true, heart-healthy diet, Mediterranean is the way to go!
 
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