Tag Archives: Healthy Habits

Recipe of the month: Sweet Potatoes with spicy black beans

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Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad

  • Cook: 15 m
  • Ready In: 25 m
Recipe By: Susan Herr, EATING WELL, click here for full article
“For a satisfying last-minute supper, it’s hard to beat a sweet potato zapped in the microwave. The fragrant filling of beans and tomatoes adds protein. Be sure to eat the skin, which is full of fiber, as well.”

Ingredients

    • 4 medium sweet potatoes
    • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
    • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  • Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on High until tender all the way to the center, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425°F until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.)
  • Meanwhile, in a medium microwaveable bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, oil, cumin, coriander and salt; microwave on High until just heated through, 2 to 3minutes. (Alternatively, heat in a small saucepan over medium heat.)
  • When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Don’t wait to get healthy!

From The Doctor will see you now”, link here

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The rate of heart disease in the U.S. has declined steadily over the last 40 years. But even though heart attacks are uncommon in young women, the rate for deaths in women 35 to 44 years of age has remained about the same. Researchers wondered if this could be explained by certain lifestyle choices and set out to test their theory.

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What they found is that young women — and presumably men — can avoid many heart problems simply by developing six healthy lifestyle habits that greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or developing a risk factor for heart disease as they get older.

Up to 75 percent of heart attacks that occur in women could be prevented had they followed healthy lifestyle practices, the study found. Even those women with a diagnosed risk factor for heart disease who adhered to at least four of the healthy practices had a lower risk of developing the disease.

Researchers defined the six healthy lifestyle practices as:

  • Not smoking
  • Exercising at least 2 ½ hours per week
  • Eating a diet low in red meat, refined grains and sugar, and high in vegetables and whole grains
  • Having a body mass index in the normal range
  • Watching less than seven hours of television weekly
  • Consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day

The study followed nearly 70,000 women for 20 years who were, on average, 37 years old at the beginning of the study. During the course of the study, 456 women had heart attacks, and over 31,000 women were diagnosed with at least one risk factor for heart disease.

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The women in the study who practiced all six healthy habits had a 92 percent lower risk of having a heart attack and were 66 percent less likely to develop a risk factor for heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, compared to women who ignored the six healthy habits.

Those women who were diagnosed with a risk factor, yet who practiced at least four of the healthy practices, had a markedly lower risk of developing heart disease as they got older, compared to those who didn’t adhere to any of the practices.

Looking at the healthy practices independently, exercise, not smoking, healthy diet, and lower BMI each were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and women who consumed one drink a day had the lowest risk, compared to those who didn’t consume any alcohol or those who consumed a larger amount.

A surprise finding was that 140 of the 456 women who suffered heart attacks during the study had a normal body mass index or BMI meaning that a healthy weight isn’t necessarily a protective factor. Their lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, and smoking status are factors that may well have contributed to their heart problems.

Lifestyle plays a huge role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and lifestyle changes are often the first recommended intervention when someone is diagnosed with a risk factor. Unfortunately, more often than not, people don’t decide to make changes to their lifestyle until after a coronary event has occurred.

The study sends an important message to young women (men, too). The time to establish healthy habits is early in life — in your 20s. Waiting until something happens to decide to “get healthy” can be a gamble that may not pay off.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

How Exercise Keep Us Young

4/18/2017: New York Times, see article here.

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Active older people resemble much younger people physiologically, according to a new study of the effects of exercise on aging. The findings suggest that many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us. Aging remains a surprisingly mysterious process. A wealth of past scientific research has shown that many bodily and cellular processes change in undesirable ways as we grow older. But science has not been able to establish definitively whether such changes result primarily from the passage of time — in which case they are inevitable for anyone with birthdays — or result at least in part from lifestyle, meaning that they are mutable. This conundrum is particularly true in terms of inactivity. Older people tend to be quite sedentary nowadays, and being sedentary affects health, making it difficult to separate the effects of not moving from those of getting older.

In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach. They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.  “We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best­case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London. To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes. They also had the volunteers complete the so-called Timed Up and Go test, during which someone stands up from a chair without using his or her arms, briskly walks about 10 feet, turns, walks back and sits down again.

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The researchers compared the results of cyclists in the study against each other and also against standard benchmarks of supposedly normal aging. If a particular test’s numbers were similar among the cyclists of all ages, the researchers considered, then that measure would seem to be more dependent on activity than on age. As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability. And their Timed Up and Go results were exemplary. Many older people require at least 7 seconds to complete the task, with those requiring 9 or 10 seconds considered to be on the cusp of frailty, Dr. Harridge said. But even the oldest cyclists in this study averaged barely 5 seconds for the walk, which is “well within the norm reported for healthy young adults,” the study authors write.

Some aspects of aging did, however, prove to be ineluctable. The oldest cyclists had less muscular power and mass than those in their 50s and early 60s and considerably lower overall aerobic capacities. Age does seem to reduce our endurance and strength to some extent, Dr. Harridge said, even if we exercise. But even so, both of those measures were higher among the oldest cyclists than would be considered average among people aged 70 or above. All in all, the numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active. “If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young. Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, Dr. Harridge said. He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging. But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”

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It’s good for every body!

 

A version of this article appears in print on 01/13/2015, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Prescription for Youth. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Tips for a better night’s sleep

Thank you to Dr. Hall and Standard Process for this article, link here

We’ve all been there: tired, irritable, and finding it hard to think clearly. Not getting enough sleep can affect your work, personal relationships, physical abilities, and more. But did you know that if you consistently miss out on quality sleep time you could be harming your health? Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of many chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults do not get the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society suggest that anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 sleep at least seven hours per night to support optimal health and well-being.

“I see patients with sleep challenges at least five to seven times a week,” said Martha Hall, DAOM, ACN. “Sleep is essential for physiological energy in the brain and body. It affects you in so many ways.”

Fortunately, some lifestyle changes may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. When her patients experience nighttime challenges, Dr. Hall recommends the following helpful tips.

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Sticking to a Routine
Create an evening ritual so you can relax and prepare yourself for sleep every night. This winding-down routine may include:

  • A cup of herbal tea
  • A warm bath
  • A bite-sized protein snack (like sunflower butter on celery)
  • Meditation

“I often suggest my patients repeat a simple mantra over and over right before bed or while in bed,” said Dr. Hall. “It helps calm the mind and body.”

Sleeping in the Bedroom
The bedroom should be reserved for sleeping only with no television or reading while in bed. Dr. Hall also recommends that you do not listen to music before bedtime unless the music is relaxing or meditative. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet or use an eye mask and earplugs.

Limiting Stimulants
After 3 p.m. do not consume caffeine, which can be found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. It is also wise to avoid nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can interrupt your sleep later in the evening.

Unplugging
Laptops, tablets, and cellphones emit artificial blue light that can throw off the body’s natural circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle of physiological processes. A good habit to get into is shutting down devices two to three hours before bedtime.

“Social media can be distressing. One article can lead to more and more articles,” Dr. Hall said. “It’s better to unplug before bedtime.”

Exercising
Aerobic exercise, strength training, and yoga can all help improve your quality of sleep. If stress keeps you awake at night, the rhythmic stretching and relaxing poses of yoga can help you fall asleep faster.

Eating Healthy
“When they aren’t sleeping well, my patients often eat more fast food or prepared foods because they don’t have the energy to cook a good meal,” Dr. Hall said. “It’s a bad habit to get into. When you are feeling healthy and well-rested, you tend to eat healthier foods.”

Your diet should include foods that can increase serotonin levels and get your body ready for sleep, such as:

  • Complex carbohydrates: whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, and brown rice
  • Lean proteins: low-fat cheese, chicken, turkey, and fish
  • Heart-healthy fats: peanuts, almond butter, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios

Try some of these healthy lifestyle changes tonight and you may wake up to a brighter tomorrow!

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Ease your back pain with yoga

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Maybe for Big Kids Too?

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6 Foods to Eat for a Younger Heart

Adapted from Everyday Health, click here for the original article.

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According to CDC data, nearly three out of four U.S. adults have a predicted heart age that is older than their actual age, placing them at higher risk for heart attacks and stroke. (You can find out your own heart age by using the calculator on the CDC website.)

Everyone can benefit from a heart-healthy diet, but if you’re among the 70 percent of the population with an accelerated heart age, the payoff is even greater. While diet doesn’t directly factor into the new calculator, it can affect many of the indicators that do.

A diet aimed at prevention should be built on a foundation of nutrient-dense, low-sodium foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and fish.

Six Eating Habits That Can Boost Heart Health

That sounds well and good, but putting this general advice into practice can be overwhelming, especially if it’s a big shift from your current meal and snack patterns. To ease the transition, you can break up heart-healthy guidelines into smaller goals and tackle one or two changes at a time. Here are six eating habits that can make a big difference and help to reverse the clock on your aging heart.

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  • Swap one of your daily snacks for a handful of nuts. From almonds and pistachios to walnuts and peanuts, all nuts are heart-healthy choices, so choose your favorites. Stick to unsalted, though.
  • Serve at least one cup of vegetables and/or fruit with every meal. Produce is naturally low in sodium, and it’s rich in fiber, potassium, and other nutrients that may help to lower blood pressure. Squeeze in extra servings as snacks, such as berries with plain yogurt or baby carrots with hummus.
  • Put fish on the menu twice a week. Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and Arctic char are best bets, but some seafood is better than no seafood, so if you prefer milder, flaky white fish or shellfish, those are fine choices, too. Fish fillets cook in less than 10 minutes, so they’re a smart entree choice for speedy weeknight meals.
  • Make the majority of your grains whole. Whole-grain bread, crackers, pasta, and breakfast cereals made from whole-grain flours are convenient choices to keep on hand. Intact and minimally processed grains, such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, popcorn, and bulgur wheat may offer even more benefits because they are digested slowly, producing a lower glycemic response.
  • Eat beans or lentils at least three times per week. Plant-based proteins are a nutrient-rich substitute for processed and red meats, which may increase heart disease risk factors. Combine canned, low-sodium beans with whole-grain pasta and roasted or sauteed vegetables for a simple meal that hits on three of the heart-healthy food groups listed here. Or, serve a side of seasoned beans in place of rice, pasta, or potatoes.
  • Cook more meals at home using whole foods. Seventy-five percent of the salt in our diet comes from processed and restaurant foods, so preparing more meals from scratch is hands down the most strategic way to reduce sodium. Minimize the salt you add to recipes and use fresh or dried herbs, vinegar, and citrus juices to build flavor.