Archive for the ‘Eating Healthy’ category

New Year’s Resolutions to a Healthier Body & Mind

December 30, 2009

Instead of just making a resolution and not keeping it. This year make your resolutions specifically about getting more life to live. You can increase your life span live a life that is less stressful and more enjoyable by making a few simple changes in your everyday activities. Keep your mind focused on the positive aspects of change and stay committed.

Lose Weight
Obesity can lead to a reduced life expectancy and several health problems including diabetes, liver disease, breathing problems, heart disease and certain cancers. The human body is an incredible machine, it processes the food you eat and turns it in to energy which you use to do everything in your life. Without the vitamins and nutrients your body creates from food, you would not be able to sustain life at all.

The intake of food you consume should not be greater than the amount of energy you are expelling. If you have a sit down office job you should consume less carbohydrates and fatty foods as not to overload your body and make it work harder. Your metabolism speed determines how fast your body can digest the food you eat and turn it into vital nutrients. If you have a slow metabolism or are not exercising regularly, then your body will need to consume less food than someone who is exercising daily or someone who’s job is mostly physical labor. Try to only consume what you are using during the day and choose foods that are not high in fats and sugars.

Exercise More
Your body needs physical exercise to produce energy. Muscles need to be used or they have a tendency to stop working properly. Lack of exercise can lead to heart problems, arthritis, blood clots and several other illnesses. You need to keep your muscles motivated by using them regularly.

Walking, riding a bike, jogging, sports and weight training are all great ways to keep your muscles in shape. Some people say they don’t like exercise, those are usually the ones who DON’T EXERCISE! Exercise is addictive, once you start doing it, you can’t stop. It is extremely motivating and helps your body create extra energy. You can use this extra energy to do more things in life for yourself and those around you. Not to mention you will look better doing them.

Exercise your Brain
Your brain needs a workout in order to grow and continue development. Scientific studies have shown that continued learning can improve cognition skills including, mental focus and concentration, and help prevent memory loss. Taking a poetry class or going back to school can help reduce your risk for memory loss in the future. Keeping your brain busy now can lead to better brain health later in life.

Eat Healthier
You should eat less sugar and more brain food. You’ve heard the saying, “Sugar rots your brain”, it’s true. Health experts have been warning of the risks from eating too much sugar for years, but eating too much sugar, can actually cause brain cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

Eat 4 – 6 small meals a day rather than 2 – 3 large meals. Eating smaller portions will help you eat less during each meal and will cause less stress on your organs. Using your organs more frequently will help boost your metabolism rate and eating less will mean your liver is not working overtime. Just keep your organs running don’t overload them and they will stay strong longer throughout your life. Give a little and get a lot back when it comes to your digestive system.

Get More Sleep
Everyone needs their sleep. Sleep is the magical reset button for your body and mind. When you sleep, you allow your brain to rest and refuel. Sleep helps you build up physical strength and energy for the next day. Without a healthy amount of sleep your brain will be less alert and your mood will sour as well. Adequate sleep will relieve stress, boost your immune defense, help you maintain a healthy weight, and much more. The benefits of Sleep go on and on.

Make more “ME” Time
We all have busy lives and schedules to keep, our to-do lists never end. There’s always 1 more thing to do, and if you don’t do it, it may not get done. Don’t let life’s responsibilities get in the way of you being able to enjoy a little time for yourself. Today is a great day to do something for yourself, even something small. Life was not meant to be all work and no play, you must create a good balance between the two.

Nature is beautiful and you should get out and enjoy it a much as possible. Vitamin D from the sun gives you energy and helps ward off illness. So even taking a nice walk, joining in a ball game, or going for a jog can help you have less sick days in the long run.

This year, think of what’s important in life and what you would like to do more of. What makes you happy? What do you go to work for? Life is short and you need to be able to enjoy it, as well as do your part to keep the world turning.

Detox your Body & Mind
Talking to a friend, soaking in the tub and meditation are all highly enjoyable and relaxing. These activities can also help you maintain a healthy sense of wellbeing both physically and emotionally. Friends make you happy and you laugh and feel good when you are in their company. This causes you to have a light heart and it wards off negativity which is one of the biggest life stressors.

Taking long baths allows your mind to be calm and the water helps quench your inner yearning for escape. Water is provided naturally by Mother Nature in order to cleanse and renew, it has an effect on both your body and mind when submerged.

Meditation gives you a time to reflect on what is on your mind. It also gives your body a release while your mind is experiencing calmness. Meditating can help you regenerate and renew your thoughts, giving you a fresh look on life and the situations you encounter. Your body needs your mind to relax in order to alleviate stress and ward off illness caused by life’s stressors.

Staying Fit during the Holiday Season

November 30, 2009

With the holidays upon us we are exposed to everything from large holiday dinners to sugar crazed office parties. It is almost impossible to stick to a regular fitness routine and healthy eating plan. We would all like to be able to enjoy family feasts and holiday celebrations without worrying about expanding our waistline and jeopardizing our physical fitness.

One of the biggest problems during the holidays is portion control, we all tend to treat the holidays as a vacation from eating well. Overeating isn’t the only problem during holiday dinners, eating unhealthy foods and baked goods may be just as damaging to your fitness level as eating too much. It is important to make smart choices when it comes to eating this holiday season.

Tips for Eating Healthy & Staying Fit this Holiday Season:

  • Portion food ahead of time

    Instead of eating 1 HUGE meal, space it out over three or four smaller meals that you can enjoy throughout the day, this is more beneficial for your metabolism.

    Use smaller plates, you can enjoy any food item or dish, but having it in smaller portions will help you to eat less.

  • Eat Slower

    Studies have shown that this alone can help reduce your calorie intake tremendously, as you will get full faster if you give your food time to settle in your stomach. You will also enjoy your food more and be able to digest it better.

  • Drink a lot of water

    This will cause you to eat less and help your body digest the foods you eat better.

  • Substitute fatty foods for not-so fatty foods

    Skip the Gravy and any High-Calorie dressings, go for a light vinaigrette or extra virgin olive oil instead

    Skip the egg nog and have water instead

    Make a lower-fat pumpkin pie, using an egg substitute, light cream or a low-fat evaporated milk in the recipe, for a low-fat pie crust, a homemade recipe without shortening may be the solution.

    Prepare a fruit or vegetable platter as an appetizer before the main course.

    Eating healthy snacks before the big meal will help you eat less during the Holiday Dinner and ensure you are still maintaining a balanced diet.

    Eat fruit or Veggies instead of chips and salsa, broccoli & low-fat ranch, carrots, cranberries, etc.

  • Exercise More:
    It is important to keep your muscles working to burn fat

    Take a walk with the family or walk around the mall

    Ride a bicycle

    Go dancing with friends

Safely Using Vitamins & Supplements to Control Your Diabetes

November 20, 2009

Diabetics tend to be more educated than the average person, in regards to their daily diet. They are faced with issues of dietsm, and trying to follow the dietary guidelines for Diabetics. More fruits and vegetables, less fats, and more fiber is more important for a diabetic than for others.

Some people say that if you eat a proper diet you should not need extra vitamins or minerals. But, even people who eat the Recommended Daily Allowance of fruits and vegetables are not getting the proper amount of vitamins in their diet. The fruit and vegetables we consume today are lacking the full amounts of nutrients we need.

It takes so long from the time the fruits are harvested to get to our mouths, that much of the original nutrients have been depleted. Water can be an enemy to nutrients, boiling vegetables leaves some of the nutrients in the water and using water softeners take the magnesium out of food. Commercial produce in America has suffered from chemicals in farming. In fact, organic produce has almost double the amount of nutrients than commercially grown produce.

The vitamins in fruits and vegetables we eat contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are believed to help protect the body against free-radical damage. They help reduce oxidative stress and fight off free radicals throughout the body. Free Radicals cause buildup and clogging in blood vessels and can lead to health complications. Antioxidants, like vitamin E, have been shown to be beneficial for common complications of diabetes. Vitamins also help your insulin function and help lower your blood sugar levels.

A lot of people know that antioxidants are good for their bodies, but still question, “How much is too much” and “Which ones are better for specific health concerns”. Studies have proven that antioxidants help prevent diabetic complications including neuropathy and retinopathy. Therefore, it would be beneficial for diabetics to consider adding supplements to their diet.

Before you overload your body with mega-doses of vitamins containing antioxidants, you should be warned that more is not always better. People can overdose on certain vitamins and actually damage their body. You need to know how much is too much, depending on each particular vitamin or supplement.

You should check with your physician before you begin taking supplements. Make sure the levels of each supplement are safe for your body type and that they don’t cause any complications with prescriptions you may be taking for a particular ailment(s).

George Blackburn, MD, associate editor of Health News, reports in a story on vitamins that “only healthy adults should take nutrient supplements without a doctor’s guidance…anyone with a disease or chronic medical condition should take supplements only under medical supervision.”

Vitamins for Diabetes

Niacin has many health benefits in the general population, but people with diabetes need to be more careful. Niacin in high doses can help to reduce cholesterol levels, but it also increases glucose levels. It is recommended that diabetics stay close to the standard recommendation of 20 milligrams per day.

Niacin is found in variety of foods including liver, chicken, beef, fish, cereal, peanuts and legumes and is also synthesized from tryptophan, which is found in meat, dairy and eggs. Fruit, vegetable and other sources of Niacin include; avocados, dates, tomatoes, leaf vegetables, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, nuts, whole grain products, legumes, saltbush seeds, mushrooms and brewer’s yeast.

Selenium and vitamin E supplements taken together play a role in controlling oxidative status and altered lipid metabolism in the liver, according to a French study, published in April of 1998. The recommended daily Selenium dose for people with diabetes given by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, author of Herbal Defense, a natural healing specialist from Seattle, is 400 micrograms per day.

Chromium, usually taken as chromium picolinate to improve blood sugars, is a highly debated diabetes topic. Experts disagree on whether or not chromium decreases HbA1c levels, and both have studies to back them up. A review was published in January of 1998 in the Journal of Family Practice, of the evidence on chromium supplementation for diabetes, it states that, “There is some evidence, including results from human studies, that chromium has a role in glucose homeostasis.” The authors then call for more studies, because of chromium’s “unproven benefits and unknown risks.” Nutrition experts say the typical supplement’s levels of chromium, about 400 micrograms per day, can’t do any harm.

Alpha-lipoic acid has produced convincing evidence of it’s ability to aid in glucose control. It has also proven to be a strong antioxidant in the fight against diabetes In a recent human studies, alpha-lipoic acid alone, significantly reduced glucose levels in type 2 Diabetes. A study published in Diabetes Care in February 2009, shows German doctors gave lean and obese type 2 Diabetes Patients 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid twice per day. Although more drastic changes were noted in lean people, both groups had lower fasting glucose concentrations. Researchers believe that alpha-lipoic acid works by lowering the levels of lactate and pyruvate that are increased after people ingest carbohydrates. Lactate and pyruvate are products of the digestive process that can lead to damage like lactic acidosis.

Other studies have led to similar conclusions of alpha-lipoic acid’s beneficial effects on blood glucose levels. ABC news did a television story on its power as an antioxidant, and an entire book has been written about it.

“Lipoic Acid in Health and Disease” is edited by Jurgen Fuchs, MD, PhD, and Guido Zimmer, MD, PhD, of Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and Lester Packer, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley.
The book contains numerous studies with evidence that alpha-lipoic acid fights insulin resistance and neuropathy.

Natural Health magazine says in its “Consumer Guide to Vitamins & Minerals,” July-August 1998 issue, “100 to 600 milligrams per day is a helpful amount of alpha-lipoic acid for people with diabetes.”

Gamma-linolenic acid (Evening Primrose Oil) has been shown to improve nerves that have been damaged from diabetes. Its natural sources are evening primrose oil and borage oil. Testing of both alpha-lipoic acid and gamma-linolenic acid in combination for diabetes treatment has been coduced in recent years.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen found promise for future studies of gamma-linolenic acid and alpha-lipoic acid in humans. The April 1998 Diabetologia, revealed the effects of alpha-lipoic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and other essential fatty acid ingestion on the nerve function of diabetic rats. The conclusion was that the combination improved the rats’ nerve function and is “worthy of consideration for clinical trials.”

A few months later, another study confirmed this evidence. The July Diabetologia told of a British study, also of alpha-lipoic acid and gamma-linolenic acid on diabetic rats. The final word was the combination “is effective in improving both electrophysiological and neurochemical” aspects of experimental neuropathy.

Natural Health recommends 200 to 500 milligrams per day of gamma-linolenic acid for people with diabetes.
Vanadium, commonly taken as vanadyl sulfate, is another contested substance. There have been claims made about its effects of lowering insulin requirements and even preserving beta cell function, but skeptics say
side effects are harmful. Vanadium has been studied throughout the 1990s. In 1996 the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, published in May 1996 Diabetes, reported that vanadyl sulfate improved type 2 Diabetes’ insulin sensitivity. As time went on, studies either verified or disputed this conclusion. One said it has no effect in type diabetes (December 1998 Diabetes Care). Another demonstrated that it “restored elevated blood glucose to normal” in diabetic rats.

John Walsh, PA, CDE, coauthor of “Stop the Rollercoaster,” wants more long-term, human studies done, because vanadyl sulfate in high doses has also shown toxic side effects in animals, including kidney damage and oxidation
of fats, leading to cardiovascular disease. Walsh concludes, “Vanadium or one of its derivatives may someday help improve blood sugar…” but “too many unknowns surround this mineral today.” Scientists are working on different formulations of vanadium besides vanadyl sulfate for dietary supplementation.

Natural Health magazine says 5 to 25 milligrams per day is a safe amount.

Folic Acid has been brought to the limelight by its ability to reduce birth defects, it has also been attributed to helping with vascular disease in people with diabetes. It is said to act upon homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is a substance normally metabolized into amino acids by the body but in high levels it can cause vascular problems and heart disease. Two groups are known to have problems metabolizing homocysteine; people with a rare genetic problem that causes early heart attacks and people with diabetes.

The standard recommendation or safe level of Folic Acid is 800 – 1600 micrograms of per day. The only precaution is that, (although rare), extreme doses of folic acid can mask symptoms of anemia.

B vitamins, including folic acid, are known to counter the bad effects of high homocysteine levels, and folic acid has also been named as a homocysteine fighter. In 1997, a Scandinavian journal, reported that homocysteine concentrations in type 1 Diabetics “may at least partly be explained by a marginal deficiency of blood folate concentrations.”

In the June 1998 Diabetologia, a group of doctors in Barcelona explains their study of homocysteine and diabetes. “A high plasma homocysteine concentration is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease but information on its association with diabetes is limited,” they begin. They also note that people with nephropathy, or kidney disease, have a particular tendency to cardiovascular disease.

They conducted a study to see if high homocysteine levels are a cardiovascular danger in people with diabetes, as they are in the general population. The study looked at fasting homocysteine concentrations in type 1 and type 2 Diabetics, and people without diabetes. They found that 80 percent of the diabetic people with nephropathy
had high homocysteine levels. The authors conclude that, particularly in type 2 diabetes, there is “a new link between microalbuminuria, diabetic nephropathy and kidney disease.”

In November of 1998 the Diabetes Journal published “Diabetes Care” where they found little evidence of homocysteine causing vascular disease in type 1 Diabetes, so as of now the evidence says lowering homocysteine is more crucial in people with type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids found in fish, flaxseed and canola oil, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to lower triglyceride levels, but final word on their effect on glucose control still eludes researchers.

The latest word from Diabetes Care is that omega-3 fatty acids do help with triglycerides and don’t alter glucose levels in the process. A study in the May 1998 issue reports that 6 grams of fish oil per day lowered triglycerides in type 2 Diabetic men and had no effect on fasting glucose or HbA1c levels.

Three to five grams per day, of fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements, aid in diabetes management, according to Natural Health’s consumer guide Magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency is a problem in diabetes, it contributes to complications including hypertension and heart disease. Most people are unaware of a magnesium deficiency, and it is often it is missed during routine checkups. Many Diabetic diets don’t have a lot of magnesium, nuts and shrimp have large magnesium amounts. When supplementing Magnesium, 800 milligrams is recommended twice per day.

*To learn more on DRI’s for Magnesium, please refer to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22 – Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, Magnesium, Mg (mg).

Pycnogenol has not been tested in people with diabetes, but studies have proven its success as an antioxidant. A study done in 1996 from Ophthalmic Research, proves that Pycnogenol fights lipid peroxidation in animal trials.
Lipid peroxidation is a prominent feature of diabetic retinopathy.

The long-term effect of large doses of these nutrients has not been proven. Other chemicals and substances found in natural sources of antioxidants may also be responsible for the beneficial effects. So for now, the best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidant nutrients is through minimal supplementation and eating a balanced diet consisting of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Another source for avoiding excessive intake is a book, Vitamin and Mineral Safety, published by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which is associated with the supplement industry. This book gives the “no observed
adverse effect level,” for certain vitamins and minerals; it is the highest daily level at which studies have shown no damage to be reported in humans.

The RDA, or Recommended Dietary Allowance, you see on food labels does not apply to supplementation. The RDA is only the amount needed to avoid deficiency. The RDAs were dictated before scientists discovered that taking
large amounts of some substances can prevent disease. Thus, the government is now testing how much is too much.

The USDA Online Agricultural Library provides links to general information about dietary and nutritional supplements from both governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations. Including resource lists, individual supplement information, and links to resources for assessing supplement use.