4 Tips to Healthy Eating

 

There is no single “healthy” diet.  In fact, many eating patterns sustain good health. 

What these health eating patterns have in common is lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as healthy sources of protein and fats. 

Here are 4 Tips to Healthy Eating that will lower your risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.

1. Change what’s on your plate

In the fall of 2011, nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health unveiled the Healthy Eating Plate. Refined grains like white breads and rice have less fiber and way fewer nutrients than their whole grain substitutions.  Check out the plate below.  Half of your diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, while the other half is healthy proteins and whole grains.  Research has shown that people who ate more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain, and those who eat more fruit also have a lower risk of stroke.

heatlhy-eating-plate-400-full

2. Stop drinking soda/pop/whatever you call it and drinks filled with SUGAR!

Research has also shown that sugar-laden drinks can raise the threshold for feeling full.  Therefore, you have to eat more to feel satisfied, which promotes weight gain!  

A 2011 Harvard study found that sugar-sweetened beverages were one of the dietary components most strongly linked to long-term weight gain among healthy women and men.  Drink more water.  A reasonable goal is 4 to 6 cups per day.  Black tea, black coffee, and “fizzy” water are also ok (water for sodium content in carbonated water – see #3)

3. Learn to like less salt. 

Your daily sodium intake should be limited to about 2,300 milligrams (mg), which is roughly the amount in a single teaspoon of salt.  If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for it, limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.  My general rule of thumb … read the nutrition content on labels.  Make sure that the per-serving sodium content is less than the number of calories per serving.

4. Plan for snack breaks

Healthy snacks increase energy levels by stabilizing blood sugar with the added benefit of providing healthy nutrients.  You know you are going to need a snack some time in the late morning (if you start the day early) and at some point between lunch and dinner.  Prepare a couple of healthy snacks ahead of time and have them on hand. Good choices include a banana or other fruit, a handful of raw, unsalted almonds or sunflower seeds, or a small container of plain nonfat yogurt with a few berries.  

Try implementing these 4 tips to healthy eating and watch your health & energy levels improve!

Healthy Eating Tips

The Science of Prevention

The Science of Prevention
Do’s and Don’ts that Could Save Your Life!

Running, Exercising Outdoors

The key to living a healthy, balanced life is practicing prevention. Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

If you are not already well versed in your family medical history, I can not stress the importance of having those conversations. If someone in your immediate family has a chronic illness like heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a history of cancer, this is something both you & your doctor should be aware of.

There are basically two types of inherited disease: single gene inheritance & multifactorial (or complex) inheritance. Examples of single gene inheritance are diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. In those instances, there are no changes that you can make to your environment or you lifestyle to impact whether or not you will develop these diseases. Multifactorial inherited diseases are a different story. Examples of these are things like diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer. If you inherited a risk factor for one of these types of diseases, taking preventive steps in your life could be difference between developing the disease or not.

Having regular physicals with your health care provider & scheduling recommended preventive screenings for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, and even depression could save your life. Many of these diseases, when detected early, can be treated with medication or in some cases even with simple lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

Other preventive measures that are important for a healthy lifestyle and in some cases could save your life include:

Not smoking
Getting to & maintaining a healthy weight
Being physically active
Consuming a healthy diet
Not drinking excessively

I’m curious … are there diseases that you know of that run in your family that you could prevent or help your children or loved ones prevent with these tips? Comment below & tell me about it.

If you can’t remember the last time you had that physical or “annual” mammogram, schedule it NOW! Then come back to this page and tell me, “I did it!”

Controlling Stress May Be the Key to Fewer Age-Related Diseases

I’ve written about stress before, but I was compelled to write on this topic again after some of the interactions I’ve had this week.

Psychological stress and anxiety can’t be completely avoided, they are a part of life. Did you know that there is a 50% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) for people who deal with chronic work stress? That’s a 50 percent greater chance than the average person has of developing CVD if you are stressed at work and don’t change your environment.

Stress can further increase the diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Before running to the doctor for a prescription to make the symptoms disappear, it is important to identify your stressors. It may be work-related, family-related, or a combination of things. Stress is a reaction. The brain is involved in a person’s stress response (e.g., interprets what is threatening) and then regulates both how your body responds both physiologically and behaviorally.

Studies have found that the following can help decrease your body’s response to stress:

1) Exercise. Exercise increases the level of telomerase produced. Telomerase is an enzyme that protects loss of DNA from important end region of our chromosomes called telomeres. Think of a telomere like the protective piece at the end of a shoestring. Studies have found that elite athletes have very long telomeres.

2) Your Social Network. I’m not just taking about how many Facebook or Twitter followers you have! People with a strong partner relationship and close friendships have been found to be at lower risk for diseases associated with aging and to have less of a stress response to situations such as public speaking (which can evoke fear in many).

3) Better quality of sleep. The average person needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. People who got a better quality of sleep and woke up feeling rested have, on average, longer telomeres than those who suffered from poor quality sleep.

4) Nutrition. Individuals diagnosed with obesity and insulin resistance had shorter telomeres than others, whereas those who consumed a diet containing antioxidants and added supplements such as omega 3s had longer telomeres.

The lesson to take from this is that if we can embrace these preventive measures, we can increase our body’s resilience. As resilience increases, so does our ability to age well.

Four Tips for a Healthier Heart

Did you know that one in four women in the United States dies from heart disease? Pretty shocking, huh? That makes coronary heart disease (CHD) the number one killer of women in the US. There are many steps people can take to prevent heart disease. Concentrating on key lifestyle areas such as exercise, nutrition, and smoking is the best way to reduce your risk.

Here are 4 tips to help you become more heart healthy.

1. Stop smoking. Smokers are TWICE as likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. Quitting is the most important thing you can do to live longer. In the first 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Within one year, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359) If you need any more motivation, think of your loved ones. Second-hand smoke is dangerous for them too. Quitting is hard, but there are many aids on the market that can help you. If the other members of your household smoke, be the strong one! If you vow to stop, you may be the inspiration they need to stop too. What’s better than helping your loved ones become healthier and live longer?

2. Move it! Your heart’s job is to pump blood through your body. You need to raise your heart rate for about 30 minutes each day so your heart can do this efficiently. If you aren’t getting regular exercise now, start slowly. Take a brisk 15 minute walk, then move up to 20 minutes and so on. Having a walking buddy helps with motivation, and you can get your social fix too. Walking and talking with a friend gives your mental health a boost as well.

3. Watch your diet. A healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Try and eat a balanced diet with high fiber foods like vegetables and fruits, whole grains opposed to white flour, and fish. Minimize dairy products that are high in fat, as well as other high fat items without a lot of nutritional value like cookies and cakes.

4. Have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly. If you have high blood pressure, you run a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. High blood cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and circulatory diseases. Know your family history! If high blood pressure or high cholesterol run in your family, you have to be even more diligent with your diet and get more exercise. High fiber foods and whole grains will help with you cholesterol. Your doctor may also recommend drug therapy if diet and exercise aren’t doing the trick.