by Debora Morris | Feb 3, 2019 | Newsletters
SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING (From ACE Healthy Living Jan 16, 2019)
A key barrier to being physically active is an all-or-nothing mindset. Unless there is time for a full workout, why bother to start it at all? What is the point of eating carrots for dinner if I ate two cupcakes at work today? It’s Friday and I didn’t get one workout in this week—why bother doing one now? I have forgotten to drink water all day—well, I might as well have another soda. This type of thinking subconsciously drives disengagement in positive behaviors.
Although it doesn’t work with everything, the idea of “something is better than nothing” nicely applies to healthy behaviors. In other words, it is better to do something good—however small or seemingly insignificant—for your health and well-being than nothing at all.
Not convinced? Consider, for example, that a five-minute exercise interval performed once an hour may improve glucose and insulin levels in obese individuals better than one single longer session (Holmstrup et al., 2014).
Another study found that people who rode 10 minutes on a stationary bike had a sharper cognitive response to specific tests compared to individuals who read a magazine for the same amount of time (Samani and Heath, 2018). And immune function may be significantly enhanced with a 20-minute bout of exercise (Dimitrov, Huelton and Hong., 2017). As you can see from this small sample, the research confirming that something (in this case, a small amount of exercise) is better than nothing is encouraging.
Specifically, some movement is better than none. Standing is better than sitting. Walking or moving around is better than standing still. The same is true for other health behaviors that often feel challenging for some people. For example, drinking some water each day is better than drinking none. Eating some fruits and vegetables is better than eating none. Getting some sleep is better than getting none.
Here are some practical ideas for adding small doses of physical activity and movement into your daily life:
- Walk around your house while you are brushing your teeth.
- Every time the phone rings, go for a walk or do some wall-sits.
- Stand up once every 30 minutes and breathe deeply for 2 minutes while doing standing squats.
- Dance your way through household chores (it’s way more fun!).
- Convert your work station into a standing/active station.
- Make family time an active time.
- Anytime you have to wait for something, do squats or calf raises.
- Every time you have to use the restroom, do five push-ups (after might be best!).
- Perform standing lunges while fueling up your car.
- Go for a brisk 10-minute walk after dinner.
Adopting a few small healthy habits has the potential to progress into more healthy patterns over time and gives you the opportunity to experience what reaching your goal might feel like. Doing something rather than nothing also provides a sense of accomplishment, which initiates positive self-talk and self-empowerment.
YOU NEVER AGE OUT OF HAPPINESS AND HEALTH (from Guest Writer, Jason Lewis. Jason is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness. His website is strongwell.org )
Happy, healthy seniors have one thing in common: they never give up on life. And thanks to modern medicine and advanced technology, seniors are aging healthier than ever.
Pay attention to your gut – You already know that you shouldn’t ignore your “gut” feelings. But new research suggests that your intestines have a bigger role in your health than previously thought. Researchers have found that the healthiest seniors are those with a diverse microbiota. Eating fermented foods, taking a probiotic supplement, and abstaining from antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, are all ways to improve gut health and the population of good bacteria in your gut’s microbiome.
Up your energy levels – There are several ways to improve your energy levels, such as getting enough sleep and eating foods that are high in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins. If you find that lifestyle changes aren’t enough, talk to your doctor about adding an energy supplement to your daily routine. Don’t just grab the first bottle off the shelf, however. Take the time to evaluate your actual needs and the options available.
Exercise for 30 minutes each day – According to Genesis Health + Fitness, 30 minutes is all it takes to change your life. Half an hour of exercise each day can help you lose weight, reduce stress, and lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Plus, exercising can help keep your memory sharp.
Avoid brittle bones – Osteoporosis is a condition that leaves you with bones that can break without warning, and you may have to limit physical activities. The Mayo Clinic explains, however, that physical activity is one way to keep your bones healthy. Getting enough calcium is also important. If you’re not a milk drinker, make a point to eat calcium-fortified foods, dark green leafy vegetables, and salmon.
Thwart loneliness – Senior loneliness is an epidemic that, according to the Washington Post, is just as harmful as being a lifelong smoker. While it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely sometimes, don’t be afraid to drag yourself out of the house to attend church, visit the senior center, or volunteer reading to children at your local elementary school.
Don’t let age get in the way of your well-being. By implementing small changes, such as keeping tabs on your gut health and social activities, you’ll make your health a priority all year long.
by Debora Morris | Nov 22, 2018 | Newsletters
NUTRITION MISFIRES (excerpted from IDEA Food and Nutrition Nov. 2018)
There is so much conflicting information about food and nutrition, it is a challenge to determine what is the correct information. Stamp out misunderstandings by learning how top nutrition professionals set their clients straight on five all-too-common nutrition misfires.
Misfire #1 Sugar is bad; therefore, all carbs are bad.
“All carbs are not created equal,” advises Kathy McManus, MS, RDN, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “There are some unhealthy sources, like white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and foods containing added sugar (cake, cookies, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages). These foods raise blood sugar and can lead to diabetes and weight gain. But “The right types of carbohydrate foods, such as intact whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, are the foundation for a healthy diet.” (Intact whole grains include all layers of the original kernel: bran, germ and endosperm.)
Focus on reducing added sugar, not on reducing sugar that occurs naturally, as in fruit or all carbohydrates. it is added sugar or refined grain, limit intake. If it’s in whole foods, dig in, though be mindful of portion control even with healthy foods.
Misfire #2 Vegetarian diets are healthy, so I should avoid all animal foods.
Vegetarians have lower rates of overweight and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers compared with those on a typical American diet (Appleby & Key 2016). That sounds pretty compelling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean animal foods (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products) have no place in a healthy diet. In addition to protein, meats are sources of well-absorbed minerals, including iron and zinc, while milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium.
Misfire #3 Gluten is bad for some people; therefore, everyone should avoid gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. “The fact that gluten is a protein surprises people, since today’s food conversation is very positive about protein,” says Kim Kirchherr, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant. People with celiac disease react to gluten in a way that damages the lining of their small intestine, leading to digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients.
Wheat sensitivities are not always related to gluten. “Some people with irritable bowel syndrome are intolerant to the carbohydrate portions of wheat called oligosaccharides. But the majority of us are totally okay to consume wheat and gluten,” says Denise Barratt, MS, RDN. She says gluten-free products may have less iron, fiber and B vitamins, so reconsider switching unless you need to avoid gluten for health reasons.
The message shouldn’t be to avoid gluten; it should be to choose more nutrient-dense breads made with whole-grain flours and, especially, more intact whole grains like barley and quinoa, which don’t raise blood sugar as much.
Misfire #4 Juicing is the best way to get your fruit and veggies.
Recent research has shown that juices are an effective way to increase vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in the diet (Zheng 2017). In the U.S., most people don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables and may miss out on the nutrients they provide: vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, phytonutrients, and more.
Juicers, however, usually remove fiber, and fiber is important for digestive health and cholesterol reduction, and it helps keep blood sugar under control.
Calories are another consideration. You are probably consuming a lot more calories from juice than you would if you were eating the whole fruit.
Misfire #5 Vitamins and minerals are essential for health, so I should take a lot of them.
Vitamins and minerals are critical for good health, but “bigger isn’t always better. We can’t easily get rid of excess vitamins stored in fat, such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The B vitamins and vitamin C, on the other hand, are water-soluble, and we excrete what we can’t absorb, so taking an excess of those may mean you are essentially flushing the money you paid for them down the toilet.
While a multivitamin and mineral supplement containing around 100% of the Daily Values may be low risk and could make up for nutrients missing in the diet (Ward 2014), we have little research on the long-term effects of large doses of vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements. In the U.S., laws do not require the Food and Drug Administration to verify safety or effectiveness before dietary supplements are marketed to consumers (NIH 2011).
ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS. DON’T FORGET TO EXERCISE, EAT HEALTHY, AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE NICE AND SMILE A LOT.
by Debora Morris | Sep 30, 2018 | Newsletters
10 BEST FOODS TO REDUCE ANXIETY (HEALTH 09/27/18)
We all know the saying, “You are what you eat.” But recent research makes the case that this adage applies not just to your physical body but your mind as well. The foods you put on your plate really can make a real difference when it comes to mental health issues, including anxiety disorders—the top cause of mental illnesses in the United States.
How does food help with anxiety? Anxiety is caused in part by an imbalance of neurotransmitters, explains Ali Miller, RD, an integrative dietitian and author of The Anti-Anxiety Diet. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers believed to play a role in mood regulation. A diet that features nutrients from whole food ingredients helps create neurotransmitter balance by improving the gut microbiome.
When it comes to dialing down anxiety, what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do, says Nathalie Rhone, RDN. “Foods that are processed, high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, fried, or loaded with additives can all heighten anxiety since they are inflammatory in your system, which can eventually affect your brain.”
Here, 10 foods to add to your meal prep routine now.
Turkey – Tryptophan, an amino acid in turkey, has a relaxation effect can also ease anxiety. “Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, the happy, calming neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep,” says Rhone.
Salmon –This versatile and satiating fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health and a well-functioning nervous system. Opt for wild salmon over farmed varieties.
Dark chocolate – Nutritionists sing the praises of dark chocolate because it has more healthy antioxidants than other kinds. “The antioxidants in dark chocolate trigger the walls of blood vessels to relax, which boosts circulation and lowers blood pressure.” Make a small chunk of 70% (or higher) dark chocolate a part of your mid-day diet.
Asparagus – In 2013, the Chinese government proclaimed that asparagus extract is a natural functional (aka, medicinal) food for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation Bonus points go to asparagus for being a prebiotic food, meaning it serves as a food source for probiotics, which are also thought to have positive effects on mood.
Sauerkraut -Speaking of probiotics, fermented products such as sauerkraut are considered probiotic foods, and consuming more of them on a regular basis appears to have a mood-boosting effect.
Citrus fruits – “Our adrenal glands are the most concentrated storage tissue for vitamin C and they use the nutrient in the regulation of cortisol,” says Miller.
Broccoli – Dark green veggies like broccoli contain magnesium, “a calming mineral that can help with relaxation, as well as with keeping things moving through your digestive system,” notes Rhone. Other top sources of magnesium include almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.
Avocado – Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that help optimize circulation, says Sass, which contributes to better blood flow to the epicenter of your anxious thoughts: your brain.
Oats – Like leafy greens, oats contain high levels of soothing minerals like magnesium. They also provide steady, even energy and are packed with antioxidants and nutrients involved in mood regulation.
Chamomile tea – Chamomile tea might help reduce your anxiety. According to a report from Harvard Medical School, chamomile tea has been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for anxiety.
SURPRISING NEWS ON DIABETIC SYMPTOMS (IDEA Fit Tips, Vol 16, Issue 9)
Research published online in The Journals of Gerontology turned up some unexpected findings about type 2 diabetes.
Just two weeks without much activity can have a dramatic impact on health, according to researchers who studied overweight older adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And unfortunately, it may be difficult to recover from this negative effect.
Not only did an abrupt, brief period of inactivity hasten the onset of the disease and elevate blood sugar levels among prediabetic patients, but some study participants did not fully recover when they returned to normal activity for 2 weeks.
“We expected to find that the study participants would become diabetic, but we were surprised to see that they didn’t revert back to their healthier state when they returned to normal activity,” says Chris McGlory, a Diabetes Canada Research Fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and lead author of the study.
If people are going to be off their feet for an extended period, they need to work actively to recover their ability to handle blood sugar.
For pre-diabetic older adults to recover metabolic health and prevent further declines from periods of inactivity, strategies such as active rehabilitation, dietary changes and perhaps medication might be useful,” says McGlory.
Research has shown that within days of the start of inactivity, there are notable reductions in skeletal muscle mass and strength, along with rapid onset of insulin resistance, a common feature of type 2 diabetes.
STILL WALKING – We are still walking at 5:30pm, Mondays and Wednesdays, in Gillson Park. Everyone is welcome.
by Debora Morris | Sep 3, 2018 | Newsletters
COMMON NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES IN THE US (ACE Healthy Living 8/26/18)
With a well-balanced diet, it is certainly possible for a healthy person to obtain all of the vitamins and minerals he or she needs from foods alone. There are circumstances, however, in which the foods we eat may not provide all of the important nutrients that our body needs, resulting in a nutrient deficiency. Here’s a quick rundown of five nutrient deficiencies that are more common than you might think.
Vitamin D: Calcium’s Best Buddy – When it comes to nutrient deficiencies, vitamin D is arguably the most common. A large majority (some reports estimate up to 95% of the U.S. population age 19 and older) does not meet recommended vitamin D intake levels. That is probably due to the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of naturally occurring food sources of vitamin D. Furthermore, the largest source of vitamin D—fortified dairy products like milk—tend to be foods that we eat less of as we grow older.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in helping bones absorb calcium. It is found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as certain types of mushrooms. Your body forms vitamin D naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight, but most of us don’t spend much time outside, so fortified dairy products such as milk and yogurt are going to be your best food sources of vitamin D. Adults aged 19-70 should aim to get 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day. If foods don’t provide that amount, your healthcare provider may suggest a supplement.
Vitamin E: Get Yours from Foods Instead of Pills – Next up on the list of nutrients you may not be eating enough of is vitamin E. Like vitamin D, vitamin E is also a fat-soluble vitamin, but it is found in fatty foods such nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
About 94% of adults over age 19 eat less than the estimated average requirement for vitamin E. Due to potential health risks associated with large doses of vitamin E pills, however, widespread supplementation is not routinely recommended. Instead, shift your food intake to make sure you are eating a variety of healthful fats that will help you bump up your vitamin E levels from food-based sources to meet your needs.
Make Magnesium Matter More in Your Diet – Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic pathways in your body. It helps make proteins, controls blood sugar and blood pressure, bone health and is needed for making DNA, RNA and the antioxidant glutathione.
Despite its position of supreme importance in the body, more than 60% of adults older than 19 don’t meet the estimated average requirement for magnesium. One way you can increase your intake is to bump up your intake of dark green leafy vegetable and whole grains. Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are also a good source of this important mineral.
Iron: This One’s for the Ladies – About 14-18% of Americans currently take a supplement containing iron; and iron supplement takers tend to be overwhelmingly female. That’s because women are at higher risk for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia due to biological factors such as menstruation and lower intakes of high heme-iron foods, such as meat, fish and poultry.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states that those at high risk for insufficient iron intake include infants, young children, teenaged girls, pregnant women and premenopausal women. Animal foods such as meat, fish and poultry are good sources of the easily absorbed form of iron called heme iron.
Although plant foods contain iron, it is in the less readily absorbed non-heme iron form. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat. If you’re concerned about iron status, check with your primary care provider who can test for deficiency and anemia before recommending you start a supplement.
Vitamin A is Important for More Than Just Your Eyes – Although vitamin A deficiency is not widespread in the North American population, slightly more than 50% percent of people still do not meet the estimated average requirement for this fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is well known for the role it plays in vision, but it also impacts immune function, reproduction and your body’s cellular communication as well.
You can make sure you’re getting enough by consuming both preformed vitamin A (from animal foods, such as milk and eggs) and provitamin A, found in leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes and fruits. Increasing the variety of both the plant and animal foods you eat ensures you get adequate amounts of the all-important vitamin A.
WEIGHT LOSS RUNS IN THE FAMILY (IDEA Fit Tips August 2018)
It turns out that people who make an effort to shed a few pounds aren’t just in it for themselves; they may be helping their significant others trim down, too. Research published in the journal Obesity recounted a University of Connecticut study that monitored the weight loss progress of 130 people for 6 months—half of them on a structured Weight Watchers® program and the other half on a self-guided program combining education, healthy eating and exercise. The study discovered that about one-third of the volunteers’ cohabiting partners lost 3% or more of their initial body weight, even though they weren’t enrolled in the experiment.
The investigation also found that weight loss rates went hand in hand for couples: If one partner lost weight at a steady pace, the other one did, too. Likewise, if one partner struggled to lose weight, the other also had trouble scaling down.
Think of it as a ripple effect—when one half of a couple becomes dedicated to a healthier lifestyle, there is a good chance the other half will emulate the new eating and exercise habits. So, counseling a client on the importance of eating vegetables may very well put more kale on the partner’s plate, as well
by Debora Morris | Aug 6, 2018 | Newsletters
NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN THE FREE WALKING CLINIC – Monday & Thurs. 5:30pm-6:30pm- Gillson Park
HUNGER AND ANGER = HANGER (from ACE Health eTips June 27, 2018)
Most of us have experienced the overwhelming grouchiness that takes over when we’ve gone too long without food. Turns out, there’s some science to explain why this happens. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help your clients cope when hanger strikes.
The official definition of hanger is “a feeling or showing of anger due to hunger.” As humans, we have the choice to listen to our hunger. Yet, in our busy and overbooked lives, we often choose to ignore this signal, waiting far too long to feed our empty stomachs. The body’s response to being ignored is to cause an emotional reaction (like anxiety and stress) to prompt a reaction. And the longer the body is deprived, the greater the emotional response.
It’s important to realize that the stomach and brain are connected to one another, and part of the communication is related to signals of hunger and satiety. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found a correlation between hunger, feeling angry and having low blood sugar. Basically, when you’ve gone too long between meals, your blood sugar level drops, signaling the release of a cascade of hormones.
Ghrelin – Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach that stimulates feelings of hunger. It can also produce anxiety in the brain, which is where hanger starts. When you’re hungry, you’re more more irritable and more aware of your emotions because it reinforces the drive to seek food and to satisfy nutrition needs. A release of ghrelin causes you to be hungry and should be the motivation for you to begin seeking out food. When you eat, ghrelin disappears and so does the anxiety. However, if this hunger signal is ignored, it can cause a disruption of other hormones in your body.
Cortisol and Adrenaline – A low blood sugar level also triggers the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. As these two hormones increase, the body goes into a fight-or-flight response. From there, the effects of hanger are expressed mentally, emotionally and physically.
When you’re hungry, your prefrontal cortex doesn’t function at a high capacity. This can affect personality, self-control, planning and even temporarily shut down long-term memory. Emotionally, your mind begins to feel anxiety and stress. This can lead you to lose patience and focus, or even act abnormally. Physically, your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration all increase.
Neuropeptide Y – If you continue to ignore the ghrelin and the spike in cortisol and adrenaline, your body will go into a panic mode and you will experience hanger in its full effects. At this point, the body releases neuropeptide Y, which has been found to make people behave more aggressively toward those around them. Additionally, this neuropeptide stimulates food intake with a preference for quickly digestible carbohydrates. Lastly, a release of neuropeptide Y increases your motivation to eat large amounts of food, while also delaying how long it takes for that food to make you feel satisfied. In a nutshell, hanger causes you to have a larger-than-normal appetite, especially for carbs, so you end up overeating.
Real-life Effects of Hanger
Example #1: One study that attracted attention a few years ago found that judges are less likely to set lenient sentences the closer it gets to lunch. Turns out, their hunger led to hanger, which impacted their decision-making skills.
Example #2: A classic study of married couples asked them to stick pins into “voodoo dolls” that represented their loved ones, to reflect how angry they felt toward them. They found that when people had lower blood sugar levels, the more pins they stuck into their dolls. Ouch!
HOW TO PREVENT HANGER
Be Mindful – Listen for clues. If you notice yourself getting more irritable, hunger may be the cause. Take a break and find a snack that contributes to healthy eating. Most people should not go more than four to five hours between meals. This type of healthy eating pattern will help relieve your hunger and balance out your blood sugar levels to prevent riding the emotional rollercoaster of hanger.
Be Prepared – Keep snacks on hand that are travel-friendly, so you have them readily available. A snack should contain a blend of carbs, proteins and fats. Whole-grain carbs that are high in fiber (5 grams or more per serving) raise serotonin levels to give your blood sugar a quick boost, while the fiber keeps your stomach full. Proteins and fats are digested more slowly to give you staying power and keep you feeling full for longer. By having your own stash of healthy and fresh foods within reach, you’ll be less tempted to indulge in less-healthy fare that lack the nutrition your body craves.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND WEIGHT LOSS? (from IDEA Fitness Journal July 2018)
Apple cider vinegar has a cure-all reputation for helping with weight loss, cholesterol, diabetes, acne, digestive problems and other issues. The truth is somewhat less impressive, but apple cider vinegar does have proven health benefits.
Some small studies have found that vinegar can aid weight loss (Kondo et al. 2009). The vinegar may reduce food intake either by increasing satiety (Ostman et al. 2005) or by leaving people feeling nauseated (Darzi et al. 2014), which seems like a pretty miserable way to lose weight.
Vinegar has long been a folk remedy for diabetes, and recent science supports the association. Drinking about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal helps to control blood sugar in healthy adults as well as adults with diabetes (Johnston et al. 2013). The effect seems to happen because vinegar reduces the digestion of carbohydrates (Johnston et al. 2010).
Apple cider vinegar has impressive antibacterial and antifungal properties, including against pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli that cause foodborne illness (Yagnik, Serafin & Shah 2018). Vinegar has been used for centuries to clean wounds and disinfect surfaces.
One caution: Vinegar is quite acidic (about 5% acetic acid) and can irritate the skin, mouth and throat. It can also harm tooth enamel. If you drink it, dilute a tablespoon in at least a cup of water. Better yet, use vinegar as an ingredient in food: vinaigrettes for grain salads, green salads and other vegetables.
Unpasteurized vinegar still contains the “vinegar mother,” or the bacteria that converts wine into vinegar. Consider looking for unpasteurized brands, as those probiotic bacteria may have additional benefits.