Monthly Archives: March 2017

Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables are important part of healthy eating and provide a source of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A, E and C. Options like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes and garlic provide additional benefits, making them a superfood! Potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form healthy red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy need adequate folate to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida during fetal development. Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables has been linked to improved health, and for good reason. Veggies and fruits (both fresh and frozen) are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They are also low in calories, making them a great choice for your waistline. Choosing a colorful assortment vegetables is best, as different benefits exist in the different color spectrum. The orange pigment found in carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, for example, contain the antioxidant beta-carotene. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is linked with prostate health.

And for some great news, here are two food groups where you can eat a large portion and not have to worry about weight gain. (Just watch your portion of starchy veggies such as corn and potatoes.) While all fruits and vegetables are healthy, below are several pointers on some nutrition powerhouses.

Vegetables

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family, which also includes kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower. Members of the Brassica family are rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties. Broccoli is a true nutrition powerhouse: It is chock full of vitamin C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. It is also rich in sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that can fight cancer.

Carrots are a good source of fiber, which helps to maintain bowel health, lower blood cholesterol, and aid in weight maintenance. The orange pigment found in carrots are due to the antioxidant beta-carotene, also found in other deep orange foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, papaya, and cantaloupe. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body and helps to maintain healthy eyes, support your immune system, keep your skin healthy, and protect against certain cancers.

Spinach is available year-round in grocery stores around the country, offering a readily-available source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach contains the minerals iron and potassium, as well as vitamins A, K, C, and the B-vitamin folate. Spinach also contains phytochemicals that may boost your immune system and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may be preventative against certain cancers.

Sweet Potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and are also full of fiber, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, and the mineral potassium. They are especially nutritious when eaten with the skin on, and contrary to a popular dieting myth, they are not fattening!

Beets contain healthy doses of iron, the B-vitamin folate, and fiber. Red beets offer betacyanin, a plant pigment which may protect against colon cancer.

Fruits

Fruits contain mostly sugars and fibers, such as pectin, that are extensively fermented in the large intestine. Certain fruits, especially apples and pears, are concentrated in fructose. Fruits are also recommended as a source of vitamin C and potassium. Traditionally, fruits, as foodstuffs were available for a limited time and, when ripe, were sometimes difficult to collect and transport. When ripe, they have a short period of acceptability before senescence intervenes. Thus, many fruits consumed in today’s world are processed, frozen, canned, or dried.

Cantaloupe. This member of the melon family is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, a plant-based vitamin A precursor that helps with eye health, among other conditions. It is also rich in the mineral potassium, which may help lower blood pressure and the risk for stroke. And, it is terrific if you are watching your waist — a one-cup serving contains a mere 50 calories.

Watermelon, which is especially terrific this time of year, offers a juicy, sweet taste and a high water content, while packing in the antioxidants lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, and the minerals potassium and magnesium.

Citrus fruits, including oranges and grapefruits, provide a significant source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium, as well as fiber. Pink grapefruits are particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Eating these fruits whole yields more nutrients than drinking the juice.

Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). They are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E.

Grapes. Consuming grapes may reduce the risk of blood clots, lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and prevent damage to the heart’s blood vessels, aiding in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Antioxidants called flavonoids may even increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind). The resveratrol found in the skins of red grapes may interfere with cancer development. Eating the whole fruit instead of consuming the juice contains the added benefit of fiber.

Kiwifruit, with its brilliant green inside, is packed with vitamin C and fiber.

Healthy Tips:

It is best to eat your fruits and vegetables from whole foods. Popping a pill — such as taking a beta-carotene supplement — does not do the trick. Fresh and frozen vegetables offer a combination of many health benefits that you will not find in a pill.

Nutrients

Food sources of the nutrients in bold can be found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Click on the nutrient name to link to the food sources table.

  • Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, or cholesterol.)
  • Potassium rich nutrientsVegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, kidney beans, and split peas.
  • Dietary fiber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
  • Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy should consume adequate folate, including folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
  • Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
  • Vitamin E helps protect vitamin A and essential fatty acids from cell oxidation.
  • Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.

Benefits Yoga for Health

The benefits of yoga provide both instant gratification and lasting transformation. In the fitness world, both are extremely important. Too much time with too few results can be incredibly discouraging, and monotonous routines week after week can lead to stagnation. Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for long-term health.

YOGA IS FOR EVERYONE

Most yoga studios and local gyms offer yoga classes that are open to all generations and fitness levels. It’s exciting to enter a room full of young teens, athletes, middle-aged moms, older gentlemen, and even fitness buffs and body builders. Everyone can feel accepted and included and, unlike other sports or classes that focus on niche clients, yoga tends to offer open arms. Whether you like to say “Om” or you can’t stand the word “yogi”; whether you are 92, 53, or even 12, yoga can help you.

YOGA ENCOURAGES OVERALL HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to find stillness in a world consumed with chaos. Peace and tranquility achieved through focused training appeals to everyone.

Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices help foster an inner shift from to-do lists, kids and spouse’s needs, financial concerns, and relationship struggles to something a little bit bigger than the issues you face. Yoga helps relieve stress and declutters the mind, helping you to become more focused.

STRENGTH TRAINING AND FLEXIBILITY

Yoga’s focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good, too. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder, and neck pain.

The digestive system gets back on track when the stretching in yoga is coupled with a healthy, organic diet, which can relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and acid reflux. Another one of the benefits of yoga is that stretching and holding postures also causes muscles to lengthen, which gives the body a longer, leaner look.

Here’s a list of some of the most beneficial aspects of power yoga:

  • It increases endurance, strength, and flexibility.
  • Mental endurance and physical stamina are tested through holding postures for extended breaths.
  • Arm and shoulder strength is increased as you use your own body weight for resistance.
  • Lats, traps, and other back muscles begin to support the spine better than before.
  • Abdominals and obliques are refined and toned through building core muscles.
  • Posture begins to correct itself over time.
  • Hip flexors are stretched and strengthened.
  • Glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves are strengthened.

Yoga increases flexibility and reduces stress, but the practice can do more than help you twist your body into pretzel shapes and find inner peace. These hidden benefits will help you in the kitchen, office and bedroom — and will give you five new reasons to show off your yoga skills (plus recommended poses for each one!).

1. Boost Immunity

Strike a Pose: Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
This sequence of eight poses performed in a row can be found in almost any yoga class. It creates great circulation and tone, plus sweat, says Bleier.

2. Ease Migraines

Strike a Pose: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart on the floor. With your hands resting on the floor, begin to press down into your legs and draw your hips toward the sky. The key, Bleier says, is to keep your shoulders in line with the base of your neck, moving the back of the shoulders together so the shoulder blades are close. Lift your chest towards your chin and your chin away from your chest, so the upper trapezius muscles flow away from the head.

3. Boost Sexual Performance

Strike a Pose: Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sit with your feet together and your knees bent and reaching toward the floor. Slowly fold over your feet while trying to bring your knees closer to the ground while moving the groin back and engaging the pelvic floor muscles. “It’s a great hip opener, plus the pelvic floor engagement tones the muscles for orgasm,” says Bleier.

4. Sleep Better

Strike a Pose: Corpse Pose (Savasana) with Diaphragmatic Breathing
Savasana is the final pose in a yoga class and is meant to restore the body. Lay on your back with your legs slightly apart and your arms extended at your side and your hands on your belly. Inhale and exhale through your nose, follow the breath and feel the belly rise and fall under your hands. The breath, muscles, and mind should be completely relaxed.

5. Fight Food Cravings

Strike a Pose: Meditation
Sit or lay in any comfortable position and bring attention to the natural breath moving in and out through your nose. Next, bring attention to the triangular area around the tip of your nose and upper lip, paying attention to your breath hitting this space as you exhale, the temperature of your breath, and which nostril you’re breathing through. Try this for two minutes, working up to five or more. “The key is to try and be still and focus just on the breath,” Bleier says. “No moving, no reacting, just stay present.”

Health Food

Health food is food considered beneficial to human health and a healthy diet required for human nutrition. No human being is the same as any other, and different dietary practices can be considered healthy by different people.

Foods marketed as “healthy” may be natural foods, organic foods, whole foods, and sometimes vegetarian or dietary supplements. Such products are sold in health food stores or in the health/organic sections of supermarkets.

What does ‘healthy eating’ actually mean? To begin with, it’s important to understand that healthy eating is different from dieting. It doesn’t aim to reduce a significant amount of weight in a short space of time, instead it aims to make you feel great, energised and above all, healthier.

Healthy eating incorporates three main ideas:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • having a healthy attitude towards food
  • understanding the environmental impact of your diet.

The following fact-sheet provides a wealth of information for kick-starting a positive eating regime. Consulting a nutritionist will ensure that this lifestyle change is safe, right for your personal needs, easy to maintain, and enjoyable.

Diets aren’t necessarily a healthy option – they can lead to dramatic weight-loss, but because they are only short-term fixes, weight often creeps back on after the diet is finished. Also, some fad diets have zero scientific proof that they work and can make you feel unwell.

Avoiding fad diets

Weight-loss diets often promise to help you lose weight in a short space of time but can be damaging for your health. Here are some reasons why you should try to avoid these ‘fad diets’ and start eating a balanced diet.

  • Some diets can make you feel unwell

Crash diets often portray weight-loss as a quick, achievable process by considerably reducing the amount of calories you consume. Due to these diets being unbalanced, you might start feeling ill and in some cases it may lead to long-term health issues.

  • Excluding certain food types can be dangerous

Some diets cut out certain food groups altogether such as dairy products, fish, wheat or meat. This can prevent you from gaining certain nutrients that help your body function properly.

If you suspect you have an allergy or intolerance to a certain food group, consult a doctor/dietitian for an official diagnosis.

  • Detox diets might not work

Detox diets often lead to weight-loss because they cut out certain food types, such as dairy products or wheat, and focus on eating a restricted range of foods. These types of diets are not healthy for the long-term because they restrict your nutrient intake, so you may miss out on essential vitamins and minerals, which can be detrimental to your health.

Healthy eating tips

  • Base meals on starchy foods

According to the NHS, you should aim for starchy foods to make up 30% of your meals. Starchy foods include pasta, potatoes, bread and cereal. Whole grain varieties of starchy foods offer more fibre and can help you feel fuller for longer. The fibre in whole grains also helps feed the health-promoting bacteria in your gut and may help prevent constipation and bloating. Whole grains also benefit from having more vitamins and minerals in them which are vital for energy production and overall good health.

  • Eat plenty of fish

Fish is a great source of protein and contains essential vitamins and minerals. It’s been advised to eat it twice a week, with at least one portion being oily fish such as fresh salmon or mackerel. These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fats that can be very beneficial to your health.

  • Get your five a day

You should aim to eat at least five different varieties of fruit and vegetables a day. This is much easier than you think. To start, try swapping your mid-morning biscuit for a banana and palmful of nuts and snacking on hummus with carrot/cucumber batons in the evening – it’s easier than you think! Take a look at our five a day fact sheet for more tips.

  • Cut down on sugar and saturated fats

We do need a certain amount of fat in our diet, but we should keep an eye on how much we are consuming and the type of fats we are eating. As well as consuming a small amount of saturated fat, found in meat and dairy, it is also important to consume unsaturated fats in foods such as avocados, oily fish and vegetable oils to make sure you are eating a mix of fats necessary for good health. When consuming meat, try to get the lean cuts and remove any visible fat. When cooking, try steaming or stir-frying your vegetables quickly with a smaller amount of oil to retain more of the goodness. Making stews with meat, in addition to grilling meats, is also a healthy option, as you do not burn the fats in a casserole.

  • Avoid too much salt

Approximately three-quarters of the salt we eat is in the food we buy from the supermarket. As well as reducing the amount of salt you add to your meals at the table, you should also consider the amount of salt already added to pre-packaged foods like bread, soups and sauces. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or developing heart disease.

Effects of Smoking on Your Health

Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream. Most commonly the substance is the dried leaves of the tobacco plant which have been rolled into a small square of rice paper to create a small, round cylinder called a “cigarette”. Smoking is primarily practiced as a route of administration for recreational drug use because the combustion of the dried plant leaves vaporizes and delivers active substances into the lungs where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and reach bodily tissue. In the case of cigarette smoking these substances are contained in a mixture of aerosol particles and gasses and include the pharmacologically active alkaloid nicotine; the vaporization creates heated aerosol and gas to form that allows inhalation and deep penetration into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream of the active substances occurs. In some cultures, smoking is also carried out as a part of various rituals, where participants use it to help induce trance-like states that, they believe, can lead them to “spiritual enlightenment”.

Smoking is one of the most common forms of recreational drug use. Tobacco smoking is the most popular form, being practiced by over one billion people globally, of whom the majority are in the developing countries.[2] Less common drugs for smoking include cannabis and opium. Some of the substances are classified as hard narcotics, like heroin, but the use of these is very limited as they are usually not commercially available. Cigarettes are primarily industrially manufactured but also can be hand-rolled from loose tobacco and rolling paper. Other smoking implements include pipes, cigars, bidis, hookahs, and bongs.

The immune system is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and disease. Smoking compromises the immune system, making smokers more likely to have respiratory infections.

Smoking also causes several autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also play a role in periodic flare-ups of signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Smoking doubles your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking has recently been linked to type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. Smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Additionally, the more cigarettes an individual smokes, the higher the risk for diabetes. Recent studies show a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. Smoking is one of many factors—including weight, alcohol consumption, and activity level—that increase your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture.

In addition, smoking from an early age puts women at even higher risk for osteoporosis. Smoking lowers the level of the hormone estrogen in your body, which can cause you to go through menopause earlier, boosting your risk for osteoporosis.

The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells and damage the function of your heart. This damage increases your risk for:

  • Atherosclerosis, a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in your arteries
  • Aneurysms, which are bulging blood vessels that can burst and cause death
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes:
    • Coronary heart disease (CHD), narrow or blocked arteries around the heart
    • Heart attack and damage to your arteries
    • Heart-related chest pain
    • High blood pressure
  • Coronary Heart disease, where platelets—components in the blood—stick together along with proteins for form clots which can then get stuck in the plaque in the walls of arteries and cause heart attacks
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs
  • Stroke, which is sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or bleeding

Breathing tobacco smoke can even change your blood chemistry and damage your blood vessels. As you inhale smoke, cells that line your body’s blood vessels react to its chemicals. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up and your blood vessels thicken and narrow.

Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing and scars your lungs. Smoking causes:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that gets worse over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms
  • Emphysema, a condition in which the walls between the air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back. Your lung tissue is destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
  • Chronic bronchitis, which causes swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. When this happens, less air flows to and from your lungs.
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Tuberculosis

People with asthma can suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke.

All cigarettes are harmful, including menthol cigarettes. Many smokers think menthol cigarettes are less harmful, but there is no evidence that menthol cigarettes are safer than other cigarettes. Like other cigarettes, menthol cigarettes harm nearly every organ in the body and cause many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases. Menthol cigarettes, like other cigarettes, also negatively impact male and female fertility and are harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Some research shows that menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes. More research is needed to understand how addiction differs between menthol and non-menthol cigarette use.

Cigar and pipe smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and non-smokers. Cigar and pipe smoking causes:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Laryngeal (voice box) cancer
  • Lip cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Tongue cancer

If you smoke cigars daily, you are at increased risk for developing heart disease and lung diseases such as emphysema.