Healthy Holiday Tips

12/07/2010

With more parties, productions, baking, and shopping going on during the holiday season than any other, it’s hard to not get caught up in all the festivities. Before you know it you are feeling more stressed than relaxed and grouchy than cheerful, as the hustle and bustle begins to take its toll on your body. But before you go out and buy those last minute gifts, take a moment to think about how you can give yourself the gift of health during the holidays.

Eat Wisely
With the cold weather come layers of clothing which make it harder to catch those extra few pounds sneaking up on your waistline. But you don’t have to deprive yourself of the holiday dishes you’ve been looking forward to all year, just don’t overindulge in them. Think portion control and remember that it’s better to try a little of everything than eat too much of one thing. It’s also important to be aware of mindless snacking at parties, by choosing your foods wisely and limiting your grazing time. If you make selections from the veggie plate rather than the chip bowl at the appetizers table, it is not only better for your waistline, but your overall health. And while one or two Christmas cookies won’t kill you, too many treats can cause sugar overload not only affecting your energy levels but quickly packing on the pounds.

Keep Your (Workout) Routine
With more to do and less time to do it in, it’s easy to let trips to the gym slip to the end of your to do list. Still, you should make exercise a priority during the holiday season, and I’m not just talking about mall walking. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on three days out of the week or more will keep your energy levels up, mood stable, stress reduced, and of course, weight controlled. This doesn’t mean picking an aerobics class over your best friend’s Christmas party, you should enjoy the festivities of the season, but just try to keep up your regular exercise routine in the process. Trust me, come New Year’s Day you’ll be glad you did.

Limit Alcohol
While spiked eggnog might be one of your favorite things about holiday gatherings, overindulging can not only get you in trouble at this year’s company party but leave you unable to go to work the next day. When celebrating at an event, limit your alcohol intake to only one or two drinks and choose beverages with low alcohol content. Remember that alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories, meaning that they contain no nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Excessive drinking can significantly increase your calorie intake and take a toll on your body leaving you feeling drained and dehydrated. It can also increase health risks associated with high blood pressure, liver damage, and digestive problems. 

Pace Yourself
Even though you may love being involved in holiday cheer, you don’t have to plan your kid’s school Christmas party, organize the gift exchange at work, and help direct your church’s live nativity. Pace yourself when it comes to responsibilities and realize that if you don’t do it someone else will. If you are too busy running around everywhere making sure that every event goes exactly as planned, you’ll be too stressed out and exhausted to actually enjoy them.

By-line:
Alvina Lopez regularly writes on the topic of accredited online schools <http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/>. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com. http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/


Clean Teeth, Healthy Heart

11/16/2010

You do everything you can to keep your heart healthy—exercise, take aspirin and avoid foods that are prone to clog your arteries. But did you know one of the key ways for ensuring a strong, healthy heart is to simply brush your teeth?

According to research, keeping your teeth healthy by removing plaque from your pearly whites and flossing on a regular basis will in-turn keep your heart healthy. This is because if you don’t remove that gummy dental plaque—the filmy bacterium that builds up on your teeth throughout the day— you can get gum disease.  And gum disease sparks a different kind of plaque, the kind that clogs your arteries.

The disease is called atherosclerosis and as mentioned briefly above, it’s the waxy buildup of plaques that form along the walls of the arteries. These plaques are dangerous, having the possibility to create a blood clot that can shoot straight to the heart or brain causing a heart attack, stroke or aneurism. Atherosclerosis doesn’t occur immediately. It’s typically a slow process that begins when you experience body-wide inflammation.  And what causes this inflammation? Gum disease.

To prove what many dentists and cardiologist have known for years, researches at the University of Connecticut Health Center confirmed the link between gum disease and atherosclerosis.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gathered 120 adults who suffered from severe gum disease and atherosclerosis. Half were randomly selected to undergo routine dental cleaning while the other was assigned to receive extensive treatment to heal their infected gums. This meant not only aggressively removing plaque, but also extracting any unsalvageable teeth and supplying patients with antibiotics to treat the infected gums. 

Within two months, those who underwent intensive treatment greatly improved the condition of their arteries more than those who only received routine dental cleaning.  These improvements were still present after six months, according to the study.  

So how to fight off gum disease and prevent atherosclerosis? Brush your teeth.  Experts recommend brushing your teeth two to three times a day or after every meal for at least two minutes. Make sure to brush along the gum line as well, as this is how gum diseases start. Flossing daily will also prevent the dental plaque from building up. Also, be on the lookout for gingivitis which is a precursor to gum disease. Common signs are puffy, red, tender gums. Lastly, visit your dentist and have a routine cleaning regularly, about every six months.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: kitty.holman20@gmail.com.


Healthy Teeth Can Mean a Healthy Heart

06/11/2010

 

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal was conducted on almost 12,000 adults in Scotland and found that people with poor oral hygiene had a 70% higher risk of developing heart disease as compared to those who had healthy gums and brushed twice daily.

Gum disease causes and increase in inflammation within the body which can lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease.  Smokers have a 135% increased risk of heart disease as compared with the 70% increased risk with gum disease.  Although the amount of people having serious heart problems during the study was low, 555 out of 11,869 people, the effect of brushing your teeth regularly was significant.  So while other risk factors like smoking and high cholesterol are more serious, gum disease can indicate an added risk.

Blood tests drawn on people with poor dental hygiene exhibited elevations in two markers of inflammation, c-reactive protein and fibrinogen.

Once again, a very simple lifestyle change can dramatically decrease the chance of developing heart disease. So, make sure you are brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist twice a year!!

 Visit www.heart-strong.com for valuable information about keeping your heart healthy!


Healthy Habits for College Students: Your Guide to Better Nutrition, Without Giving Up the Midnight Munchies

05/11/2010

Despite the national initiative to eat better and cleaner, the stereotype of the pizza-gnawing, beer-guzzling college student still exists. And it’s not just because all college students are irresponsible or don’t care about their health or their weight. There are lots of factors working against you, students, when it comes to proper nutrition. Most young kids spend all week waiting for pizza night, and when you get to college, you’re allowed to eat it every night if you want. Also, college kids are on tight budgets and opt for fast food and frozen meals when they spend their own money off campus. Finally, students have little control over what they eat in the dining hall: if their school hasn’t stepped up and offered them a healthy, well-balanced meal plan, they still have to eat whatever is served in front of them.

But just because you face nutrition obstacles every day as a college student doesn’t mean you have to accept weight gain, health problems, bad skin, and low energy as a necessary part of your college experience. Below are several simple tips for winning back some of the control over the fight for your wellbeing.

 Get enough sleep: Weird sleep schedules can contribute to even weirder cravings and weight gain. Think about it: the longer you stay up at night, the more you’re likely to eat. Doctors also believe that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain.

Keep a food journal: You don’t have to share it with anyone, so be as honest as you can by writing down every single snack, meal and beverage you eat or drink for one week. Writing it all down will help you discover which food groups you’re ignoring and which times of day you’re more likely to overindulge.

Pay attention to your emotions when you eat: Are you eating because you’re tired, stressed or sad? What kinds of foods to you eat when you feel happy vs. anxious? Identifying your food habits will also help you make proactive, healthier choices.

Only keep healthy snacks in your dorm room: If it’s inconvenient to find ice cream, you’ll be more likely to eat the whole-grain cereal or banana that’s already in your room. Empty out your refrigerator of the junk and keep good food stocked.

Stay nourished all day: You’re more likely to give into cravings if you go too long without food. Keep healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt and nuts in your book bag so that you can keep your mind and body nourished between meals. Always make time for breakfast, too.

Still confused about what to eat? Keep reading for healthy snack ideas when you get the midnight munchies, as well as smarter dining hall choices you can make.

  • Skim-milk string cheese: Great for mindless snacking, since you can pull apart the cheese as you study.
  • Go for grilled: Instead of fried chicken or fish, opt for the grilled version.
  • Get a side salad or side of veggies with lunch and dinner: Eat the veggies first, and limit dressing to a couple of tablespoons of light dressing or vinaigrette dressing.
  • Peanut butter: It’s great comfort food and contains good fats and protein. Just make sure you spread it on fruit, crackers or whole wheat bread and don’t eat it out of the jar.
  • Fruits and veggies: Grapes, baby carrots, watermelon and cherry tomatoes are great study snacks that are low in calories and good for your energy and overall health.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online college rankings.  He welcomes your comments at his email Id: tim.handorf.20@googlemail.com.


The Egg Controversy: Healthy or Harmful?

03/26/2010

The egg controversy still continues…

Eggs are a great source of protein, folate, riboflavin, choline, vitamin B12, A, D, and K.  So why have eggs gotten a bad wrap?

In the 1970’s the American Heart Association recommended decreasing the consumption of eggs and other sources of cholesterol to help decrease the risk of heart disease.  But the relationship between egg cholesterol, increased blood cholesterol and heart disease is still not clearly understood.

Studies have reported that consuming eggs can increase blood cholesterol levels in SOME people but not everyone.  The interesting finding is that egg cholesterol was found to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.  Also in some people egg cholesterol promotes the formation of large LDL cholesterol particles, which are better than small LDL particles and are less likely to cause plaque formation (narrowing in blood vessels).  Researchers believe that genetics, ethnicity, BMI and hormone status all may play a role in how eggs affect cholesterol levels differently in different people.

The NHANES III observational study evaluated over 27,000 people and found that people who ate 4 or more eggs per week had significantly lower cholesterol levels than people who ate less than one egg per week.

 So what is the final word on eggs? We still do not have the answer….

Our recommendation is eggs are probably a healthy food source for most people IN MODERATION!

 Looking for more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com or check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart”


Dangers of Fried Fish

11/26/2009

We’ve all heart that fish is heart healthy and high in omega 3 fatty acids.  The fish that has the highest concentration of omega 3 fatty acids includes salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and anchovies.  But does the cooking method affect the health benefits of fish?

The Multiethnic Cohort living in Hawaii and Los Angeles followed over 82,000 men and 103,000 women aged 45 to 75 years of age (over 11 years) with a history of heart disease to answer this question.  The amount of fish and soy consumed was tracked as well as the preparation method.  Men and women with higher omega 3 intake had an overall lower risk of death due to heart disease.  Salted and dried fish increased heart disease risk in women.  Fried fish did not provide heart health benefits in men or women.  Baking and boiling fish lead to the healthiest omega 3 levels.  The study also found that adding low sodium soy sauce or tofu to fish enhanced the benefits.  This study did not take into consideration the intake of fish-oil supplementation.

 So enjoy your fish but avoid frying.

(Presented at 2009 AHA Scientific Sessions)

For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com or our other blog Healthy Living with Heartstrong http://www.heart-strong.com/blog2/

 


You Are What You Drink Blog Talk Radio Show

11/23/2009