Friday, January 15, 2010

Healthy New Attitudes for the New Year

We hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and that you are looking forward to a blissful and healthy new year. With that in mind we wanted to give you a few pointers as to how to achieve a healthier you over the next several months.

Exercise is the most important thing that you can do for your health. All you need to start lowering your risk for Diabetes, Heart Disease, Weight Gain and many other health related issues is 210 minutes of exercise a week. Take the stairs, park in the back of the parking lot, walk around the block when you go get the mail or take the dogs for a walk. It's easy to fit in, if you make it a priority. Exercise increases the amount of oxygen in your blood and increases blood flow to extremities also.

Water is required for all life. Your body is made mostly of water, and without it you would die in a few days. Water cleanses your system and helps your body process nutrients. There is no substitute for clean water. You should try to consume at least 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day, more if you are exercising or doing physical activities.

Sugar reduces your body's ability to handle pain, and it decreases the effectiveness of your immune system. One teaspoon of sugar, can reduce your immune system by 50% for up to 4 hours. Sugar is found naturally in fruits, but fruits contain fiber, enzymes and other nutrients that are good for your body. Sweetened drinks provide a concentrated amount of sugar which is more than the body can use in a reasonable amount of time, so it is saved as fat. This fat often surrounds your vital organs such as your liver or heart. Even "diet" drinks which have no sugar added have sweeteners which may not increase your blood glucose levels, but they do require that the body process them, much in the same manner as sugar. Which has the same results as eating sugar, such as High Fructose Corn Syrup.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a highly concentrated sugar which is in many processed foods. It's used in Ketchup, breads, cereals and many of the foods you eat every day. In order to reduce your sugar intake you must be ready to read food labels, and take responsibility of the amount of sugar, in many different forms, that you consume. For a list of names that sugar appears as in food labels, stop by our office. We are happy to provide a printed list of the many technical names for sugar. Avoiding packaged foods is the number one way to reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup and sugar you consume.

Protein is vital for energy, and the rebuilding of tissues and cells. Lean proteins are a great way to help burn off those excess calories, too. Your body requires protein to survive and it can come from many sources. Beans and lentils are a great low fat way to add protein to your diet. The fiber in beans & lentils also help to reduce fat and sugar in your blood stream.

Fiber is one of the things that the American diet does not have enough of. Many Americans fall very short on the recommended amount of fiber, which has shown to reduce the occurrence of colon cancer, IBS, diverticulitis and other intestinal problems. Fiber helps to lower the sugars and fats in your blood by absorbing them in the intestines and moving them out of the body. If there is not enough fiber in your diet these sugars and fats are re-absorbed into your blood and processed. Wouldn't you rather get rid of the excess sugar and fat in your system??? Eat More Fiber! We also have a great psyllium seed fiber product for those of you who have a hard time getting enough fiber. Come see us for more information.

Vegetables and Fruits are the best way to make sure you are getting more fiber, and they are rich in antioxidants. You should eat a variety of these vitamin packed foods every day. Try adding different colored vegetables and fruits to your diet, because each color has different antioxidant properties. Studies show that people who eat 7 servings of fruits and/or vegetables a day have less cancer, are thinner, healthier and have more energy than people who do not. Beware: Fruit juice may count as a serving of fruit, but remember that fruit juices do not always have the fiber and other benefits that come with eating the fruit itself, and they have more of a sugar concentration than the actual fruit. Unless you are doing your own juicing, try to stick to eating the whole fruit and vegetable.

Grains are important also, but many of the wheat and oat products that are available in stores today are so broken down and bleached that there are hardly any nutrients left. B vitamins come from whole grains along with other very important nutrients, which aid in keeping your mood elevated. Oatmeal is great for you if you eat real oatmeal, the minute version and the prepackaged microwave packages are not the best source for oats. Grains should take more than a minute to cook if they are whole. Oatmeal usually requires 5 minutes in boiling water to be cooked, and most other grains require similar treatment. Look for these kinds of grains when shopping for healthy whole grains. In breads watch out for high fructose corn syrup also.

Vitamins and Minerals are what keeps our bodies running like a well oiled machine. Without them you would not be able to function at all. With the lifestyles that most of us live and the limited amount of time we have to prepare our meals, many of us do not get the proper amount of nutrition from our diets. Studies also show that most Americans are low on vitamin D which is essential to calcium absorption, and immune function, along with other bodily functions. We just don't absorb enough of the suns UV-B rays to make enough vitamin D. The reasons for this are numerous; lack of exposure, use of sunscreen, inability to convert/absorb etc. Supplementation for most of us is crucial to our development. Without the proper nutrients, our bodies just can't create new healthy cells. Adults over 40 should supplement with CoQ10, as well as vitamin D and several other important nutrients. If you wish to discuss these nutrients with one of our doctors please come by or call for an appointment. Visit our blog for more information on these nutrients.

Rest is ultimately important for stress reduction and overall health. Your body needs sleep to rejuvenate and build new cells, and manage your metabolism. Setting a standard sleeping pattern is best. Go to bed about the same time each day and rise at about the same time every day to help train your body to rest completely. It's also good to plan mealtimes, eating a small meal or snack every three hours is also a good practice. Its good for the metabolism.

The Bottom Line
Remember the old adage "Your body is a Temple"? We should treat our bodies like temples, if we don't we may end up with a shack. We need to provide our well oiled machines with the building blocks of healthy cells. If we exercise, get plenty of rest, drink clean water, avoid processed foods and eat a healthy diet of lean protein and fruits and vegetables, we are surely on the right track. Supplementing nutrients that our bodies either lack, or are not proficient at producing, is also key to keeping our temples in tip top condition.

We wish you all the best in the years to come, and if there is anything we can do to assist you in your quest for a healthy you... just give us a call!

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