Posts Tagged ‘heart’

“Drug” to improve health, reduce cancer risk

Amen to this!! Turns out mom and grandma were right all along; eat your fruits and veggies! One interesting point in the article is that the lung cancer rate for smokers taking a supplement with beta carotene actually increased. But no such finding have been discovered with eating food. Very interesting. So ditch unnecessary diet pills, supplements, etc. and enjoy some fresh fruits and vegetables. They are naturals vitamins, health improvers and they taste good too.

Of course there are many more ways to improve health and protect against cancer (like choosing organic foods; cosmetic and personal care products with safe ingredients), but this is a simple and easy first step.

To Produce Good Health, Bite Into Fruit and Veggies
Washington Post
June 25, 2008

Imagine a drug that could whittle your waistline, control blood pressure, keep you regular, protect your heart, strengthen your bones, cut the risk of stroke and possibly help you sidestep some types of cancer. And what if this drug were also easy to obtain and inexpensive, and it even tasted good?

It would be hard to beat, wouldn’t it? There’s no pill with those benefits, but there is food that hits those high nutritional notes. I’m talking, of course, about fruit and vegetables.

Scientists are just beginning to fully understand the power of produce. And the start of summer provides a great opportunity to expand your nutritional horizons by sampling the foods that will come into peak season during the coming months.
Seasonal fruit and vegetables cost less than produce available at other times of year, so they can help stretch your food dollars. Plus, if you pick or grow your own, you can also save money and maybe even burn a few extra calories along the way.

What many people don’t know is that it isn’t only fresh fruit and vegetables that provide health benefits. Studies show that canned, dried and frozen produce have nearly all the same attributes as fresh — provided that you choose products that don’t come slathered with added sugar or laced with lots of extra salt.

Eating more fruit and vegetables sounds like a no-brainer, the kind of common-sense advice that mothers have dished out for generations. Now, 21st-century scientists are beginning to fathom why these foods provide so many benefits.
It has to do with an array of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients –plant-based substances with tongue-twisting names such as anthocyanins and lycopene. Don’t worry about pronouncing them. All you need to know is that these antioxidants are found in red and deep-pink fruit and vegetables. That means pomegranates, red cabbage, cherries, red peppers, watermelon, red grapes and more. They appear to help reduce the risk of some tumors, including prostate cancer. And that’s just for starters.

Green fruit and vegetables, from avocado, pears and limes to okra, green beans and zucchini, are rich in carotenoids. These substances help preserve vision by protecting the retina and gobble up free radicals to help thwart cancer and aging.

Yellow and orange produce is rich in beta carotene, which is converted by the body into Vitamin A. It boosts immunity and protects vision. Count apricots, bananas, papayas, peaches, carrots and butternut squash in this group, which also packs other nutrients. Pineapple, for example, has bromelain, an enzyme that aids in digestion and reduces bloating.

White vegetables and fruit, from jicama to litchi nuts, contain allicin, which helps control blood pressure and cholesterol and may bolster immunity.

But the superstars seem to be cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, horseradish, wasabi and watercress.

These vegetables contain potent substances that seem to protect against cancer and appear to have antimicrobial activity. In April, scientists reported that substances extracted from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables thwarted (in the laboratory, at least) the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers as well as 23 of 28 other common microbes and fungi. There’s also evidence that eating cruciferous vegetables may help counteract the suspected cancer-causing chemicals found in grilled food.

Dietary supplement makers have tried to duplicate the health effects of fruit and vegetables, without success. And in one large Scandinavian study, smokers who took supplements with beta carotene had an increased risk of lung cancer compared with those who didn’t take the pills. To date, there have been no reported harmful effects of consuming any of these substances in food.

What makes food better? Scientists believe it comes down to synergy: reactions that take place in the food itself between phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals.
That’s why it’s key to meet the recommended daily intake for fruit and vegetables. Studies suggest that just 25 percent of adults and children in the United States eat enough fruit daily. Only 13 percent get enough vegetables each day.

How much do you need? Forget the old “five-a-day” advice. That was retired in 2005, when the U.S. Dietary Guidelines were updated. Current recommendations are for most adults to eat about two cups daily of fruit (roughly equal to two pieces) and about 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.

The message is simple: If you’re looking for flavor that also is worth its weight in nutritional benefits, reach for fruit and vegetables as often as possible. Or perhaps this Middle Eastern saying puts it best: “A melon for ecstasy!”

Get Heart Healthy at Work

No one is safe from heart disease. Everyone should be heart-smart. But the reality is, very few of us probably are because of our busy lifestyles. I just read this article, and it is a reminder as to how important exercise and stretching are.

I know I have problems finding time to fit in exercise during the day. It’s morning rush to get the husband and 23 month old up, ready and out the door and to work and school on time (I use “on time” loosely). Then after work, it’s a rush to get home and get dinner ready, then clean up dinner, bathe the baby and spend some time playing with her and cleaning up the house at the same time. Then put her to bed and clean some more, check email, get things laid out for the morning, etc. You’re familiar with the routine.

To stay healthy and in shape, you need a healthy diet and exercise. So with the busy lifestyle of a typical working parent, there leaves little time for exercise. Exercise is very important, so you have to be a little creative. Here are a few things you can do at work to help:

1. Park at the back of the parking lot, or walk to work or the train if you can.
2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
3. Walk to ask your colleague a question in person rather than sending an email
4. Bring walking shoes and take a quick 15 minute walk at lunch – or walk the stairs
5. Use resistant bands while on a long phone call (you may get some weird looks if you are in a cube environment
6. Google “desk exercise” or “yoga at your desk” and you will find all kinds of different exercise you can do on a quick break.
Anything that helps your heart rate get up for any amount of time is beneficial.

Aside from activity, watch what you eat. Concentrate on adding healthy items to your diet rather than determining what you need to eliminate. Research shows you can reduce your chances of heart disease by 4% for each additional daily serving of fruits and vegetables. That’s just 25 servings to reduce your chances by 100%.  

It is also important to reduce stress in the effort to prevent heart disease. It’s suggested that you take a “breather” for yourself everyday. Your body needs a break, a stress reliever. 

At home there are other things you can do too that will also allow you to spend time with your kid(s). You just have to be creative. Here are a few things I do:
1. Turn on the music and dance
2. Limit TV time in the evening – get off the couch and move
3. Use your child as a weight and balance them on your feet while they are superman; or lay on your back, curl up your legs and bounce them on your feet like a horse.
4. Race down the hall. I often hold my daughter and we run down the hall. She loves it!
5. It’s getting warmer (well, that’s debatable I guess). Plan to get up or get home 15 minutes earlier and take a walk outside.
6. We are planning to get bikes for our anniversary with a baby seat on it, so we can bike ride as a family.

I believe that making daily exercise part of your child’s daily routine will set them on a course for good health and exercise habits. Then exercise is just something you do, like brushing your teeth, rather than something you should do.

Here are a few articles to help you get moving at work. Note, these are not great cardiovascular workouts, but it is definitely better than nothing.

WebMD’s Desk Workout

Exercise at your desk – article and links to several types of desk exercises

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