Monthly Archives: October 2016

Say NO to going old

Do you want to have a body that can support you well into your old age? Do you wish to have mental clarity, quality relationships, good working internal functions, or even an overall feeling of well being? Well, living a healthy lifestyle is what can get you there, or at least improve your condition. There are three specific things that you should do:

1. Exercise

You shouldn’t be surprised that this one is on the list. It is unavoidable. Physical activity is essential to healthy living. The body was meant to move, and when it does not, it can become unhappy and ill. Physical activity stimulates the body’s natural maintenance and repair systems that keep it going. It improves circulation to our heart and lungs. It gives us strength to stave off injuries, and it increases the mobility in our muscles and joints. Physical activity also releases endorphins; the feel good hormones that create a sense of general well being. Physical activity is good for the body and the mind.

Exercises include brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, rowing, elliptical workouts and jogging. Yoga, and pilates are also good exercise workouts; however, they should be performed in conjunction with the cardiovascular-type workouts mentioned above.

2. Eating healthy

Have you ever heard of the saying “you are what you eat” or “garbage in garbage out”? Well, it is true. What you put into your body directly affects how you feel physically, your mood, your mental clarity, your internal workings, and even your skin. Eating healthy does not mean eating expensive foods with little taste. As a matter of fact, there are some fantastic health recipes online and in cookbooks that are very healthy. Basically, you want to aim for a diet that is low in salt, fat and unprocessed foods and is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also good to take a multi vitamin to ensure you are meeting your nutrient requirements.

3. Reduce stress

We have got to get rid of all of this stress. Stress happens when your life becomes out of balance physically, mentally or emotionally. This imbalance can be caused by internal stress like worrying too much, environmental stress like pressure from work, family or friends, or by stress from being fatigued or overworked. Being stressed out has the potential to affect your health in a variety of ways. You can become tired, sick, tense, irritable, and unable to think clearly. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you will need to manage the stress in your life so that it does not overtake you. This means taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, tasks, and environment to get your body back in balance.

Trans fats

What are trans fats?

There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats. Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats. Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils.” Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages. In November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.

Why do some companies use trans fats?

Trans fats are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time. Trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers. Several countries (e.g., Denmark, Switzerland, and Canada) and jurisdictions (California, New York City, Baltimore, and Montgomery County, MD) have reduced or restricted the use of trans fats in food service establishments.

How do trans fats affect my health?

Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Why did trans fats become so popular if they have such bad health effects?

Before 1990, very little was known about how trans fat can harm your health. In the 1990s, research began identifying the adverse health effects of trans fats. Based on these findings, FDA instituted labeling regulations for trans fat and consumption has decreased in the US in recent decades, however some individuals may consume high levels of trans fats based on their food choices.

Which foods contain trans fats?

Trans fats can be found in many foods – including fried foods like doughnuts, and baked goods including cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and other spreads. You can determine the amount of trans fats in a particular packaged food by looking at the Nutrition Facts panel. However, products can be listed as “0 grams of trans fats” if they contain 0 grams to less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. You can also spot trans fats by reading ingredient lists and looking for the ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.”

Are there naturally occurring trans fats?

Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, including beef, lamb and butterfat. There have not been sufficient studies to determine whether these naturally occurring trans fats have the same bad effects on cholesterol levels as trans fats that have been industrially manufactured.

How much trans fat can I eat a day?

The American Heart Association recommends cutting back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet and preparing lean meats and poultry without added saturated and trans fat.

How can I limit my daily of trans fats?

Read the Nutrition Facts panel on foods you buy at the store and, when eating out, ask what kind of oil foods are cooked in. Replace the trans fats in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

Regulating Your Intake of Saturated and Trans Fats

The American Heart Association recommends that adults who would benefit from lowering LDL cholesterol reduce their intake of trans fat and limit their consumption of saturated fat to 5 to 6% of total calories.

Here are some ways to achieve that:

  • Eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Also limit red meat and sugary foods and beverages.
  • Use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often.
  • Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fat.
  • Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter, and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder stick forms. Look for “0 g trans fat” on the Nutrition Facts label and no hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list.
  • Doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods that may contain trans fat. Limit how frequently you eat them.
  • Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Not only are these foods very high in fat, but that fat is also likely to be trans fat.

Should you take multivitamins?

Our bodies need many different vitamins and minerals to function properly.

Vitamins and minerals also offer us protection against a host of ailments, including heart disease and some cancers, such as colon and cervical cancer.

The good news is that we can get most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need daily by choosing the right foods and eating a wide variety of them.

Still, many people take a multivitamin daily as an insurance policy — just to be sure they are getting all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies require.

“A multivitamin is a good idea for the trace elements,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

“You want a multivitamin for all those little things at the bottom of the ingredients list. The ones at the top of the list are familiar and the ones we can’t avoid if we’re eating enriched foods. It’s the trace elements at the bottom that are the ones often missing.”

Trace elements include chromium, folic acid, potassium, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc.

Daily Vitamin: Our Needs Change With Age

Vitamin supplements can be particularly important during certain stages of our lives, Dr. Novey says. For example, women in their childbearing years can benefit from folic acid, which decreases the risk of some birth defects. A pregnant woman needs a multivitamin, starting in the first trimester, to ensure that the baby receives proper nutrition. Active and older women can benefit from increased calcium, which can help prevent bone loss and fractures. Vegetarians also can benefit from taking extra calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D.

Does it matter what time of day you take a multivitamin? Not really, says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. However, he says, some people find it helpful to take vitamins at the same time every day. If it becomes part of their routine, they are less likely to forget. Also, he says, some people feel that if they take their vitamin with food, it is less likely to cause stomach upset. “I often recommend that people take a chewable vitamin,” Dr. Bickston says, “because they seem to be well tolerated, even in people who have serious digestive conditions, which is what I deal with in my practice.”

Daily Vitamin: Tips for Shopping for the Right Multivitamin

Do you need to buy brand name vitamins? Novey says vitamins are like any other consumer product: “You get what you pay for.” He suggests shopping for vitamins in health food or natural food stores. Read the label and make sure its expiration date is at least a few months away. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advice on how much to take — or the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) — is often written as “% DV” for percentage of daily value on the label. However, be careful because the DVs on the label may not take into consideration the different requirements for age and gender as RDAs do.

Multivitamins can be beneficial, but doctors warn not to be suckered by “mega” vitamins. The amount of vitamins in a standard multi is generally what you need for health benefits. Rarely do people need more than the RDA of any vitamin. When it comes to vitamins, the too-much-of-a-good-thing rule can apply, Bickston says.

Daily Vitamin: Ensuring Good Health

Clearly, eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy products is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients to keep your body functioning properly and to ward off illnesses. But taking a multivitamin daily is a good backup plan, and an easy way to fill in any gaps in your diet.

Deal with stress

  • Positive Self-Talk
    Self-talk is one way to deal with stress. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes we talk out loud but usually we keep self-talk in our heads. Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “Things will work out”) or negative (“I’ll never get well” or “I’m so stupid”).
    Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.To help you feel better, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts.
    Having trouble getting started? Try positive statements such as these:

    • “I’ve got this.”
    • “I can get help if I need it.”
    • “We can work it out.”
    • “I won’t let this problem get me down.”
    • “Things could be worse.”
    • “I’m human, and we all make mistakes.”
    • “Some day I’ll laugh about this.”
    • “I can deal with this situation.”

      Remember: Positive self-talk helps you relieve stress and deal with the situations that cause you stress.

  • Emergency Stress Stoppers
    There are many stressful situations — at work, at home, on the road and in public places. We may feel stress because of poor communication, too much work and everyday hassles like standing in line. Emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot.

    Try these emergency stress stoppers. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them.

    • Count to 10 before you speak.
    • Take three to five deep breaths.
    • Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you’ll handle it later.
    • Go for a walk.
    • Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake.
    • Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late.
    • Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter or phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at once.
    • Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.
    • Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor.
    • Consider meditation or prayer to break the negative cycle.
  • Finding Pleasure
    When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress.

    You don’t have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you’re ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as going for a drive, chatting with a friend or reading a good book.

    Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes.

    Such as:

    1. Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, create a scrap book or finger paint with grandchildren).
    2. Take up a hobby, new or old.
    3. Read a favorite book, short story, magazine or newspaper.
    4. Have coffee or a meal with friends.
    5. Play golf, tennis, ping-pong or bowl.
    6. Sew, knit or crochet.
    7. Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation.
    8. Take a nature walk — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.
    9. Make a list of everything you still want to do in life.
    10. Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video.
    11. Take a class at your local college.
    12. Play cards or board games with family and friends.
  • Daily Relaxation
    Relaxation is more than sitting in your favorite chair watching TV. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm the tension in your mind and body. Some good forms of relaxation are yoga, tai chi (a series of slow, graceful movements) and meditation.

    Like most skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people join a class to learn and practice relaxation skills.

    Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can learn and practice at home using the following steps. It’s a good skill to practice as you start or end your day. With daily practice, you will soon be able to use this skill whenever you feel stress.

    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down. Close your eyes.
    2. Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you’re lying on the beach, walking in the mountains or floating in the clouds. Hold this scene in your mind.
    3. Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.
    4. Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more.
    5. Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing or another form of relaxation.