Archive for January, 2013

The Amazing Avocado

We’ve all seen the avocado at the grocery store or at your favorite Mexican restaurant, but doctors are now stressing the importance and benefits of the avocado that go far beyond being just an ingredient in guacamole.

Some of these benefits include:

– Avocados have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

– Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other popular fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two age-related eye diseases.

– The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who don’t.

– Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

– Avocado is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

– The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are great for your heart.

Winter Workouts: How to Get Your Workout In When Time is of the Essence

Even though nearly everyone makes a New Year’s Resolution to get healthy and exercise more, with the hustle and bustle of the New Year many people often lose track of time and don’t stick to either of these resolutions.

Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises that you can do if you only have a little bit of time in your day to do them.

These “mini workout sessions” not only allow you to be physically active during your busy day, but they also help to alleviate stress and provide consistency in your sometimes crazy life.

If you have 10 minutes…

Warm up with one to two minutes of brisk walking, then alternate two minutes running with 30 seconds walking.

If you feel good, gradually increase the speed of your run segments. Repeat three times. Jog easy for one minute to cool down.

If you’re stuck in the house, walk briskly from room to room and up and down stairs. Every minute, jog in place for 20 steps.

If you have 15 minutes…

Walk gently up and down a flight of stairs two or three times to warm up.

Then run up one flight and walk back down. Repeat four times, take a one-minute walk break on a flat surface, then continue the sequence as time allows.

If you’re in a stairwell, run up two flights of stairs, walk down, repeat, then take a walk break.

If you have 20 minutes…

On an out-and-back route, walk for one minute, then alternate 30 seconds walking with 30 seconds running for three minutes.

For the next six minutes, run/walk using any ratio you wish. At the 10-minute mark, turn around.

For the next nine minutes, run/walk whatever ratio you’d like, but pick up the pace during the run portion.

Cool down for one minute.

If you have 30 minutes…

Walk for two minutes, then alternate 30 seconds walking with 30 seconds running for six minutes.

For the next 20 minutes, alternate jogging for one minute, running a faster pace for one minute, jogging one minute, walking one minute. Repeat the sequence five times.

Walk or jog two minutes to cool down.

Good luck with these “mini” winter workout sessions and here’s to keep at least one of those New Year’s Resolutions!

Thyroid 101

It’s only the size of your thumb, but your thyroid controls three main aspects of your life – your waistline, your mood and your energy level.  Located between the voice box and the collar bone, and wrapped around your windpipe, your thyroid helps to control your energy levels.  The gland, shaped like a butterfly, pumps out a hormone that regulates both your metabolism and body temperature.  It also works with nearly every system in your body to help keep you on your toes – both mentally and physically.  But, thyroid disorders are on the rise and of the 25 million Americans with thyroid disorders, the majority is female.

Fortunately, we can check ourselves to make sure that our thyroid is the proper size, as an enlarged thyroid may mean that you are producing too much or too little hormone. You should do this self-test once every two months:

1. Hold a mirror in front of you and focus your gaze on the lower front area of your neck, right above your collarbone.

2. Tilt your head back, moving the mirror along with you.

3. Take a medium-size sip of water.

4. As you swallow, watch your thyroid area, checking for any unusual bulges or protrusions. (Note: Don’t confuse your thyroid with your Adam’s apple, which is farther up.)

5. If you see anything suspicious, go to your doctor.

Avoid the Flu with These Winter Eating Habits

With winter comes colds and flu’s that wreak havoc on our immune system.  In order to boost our immune systems, we need to make some minor adjustments in our diet and lifestyle to help curb the impact the season has on our body.  Try these small adjustments this year:

Adjustment 1:

Get your Essential Fatty Acids

Because essential fatty acids are the key to building super hormones, make sure that you get enough of these fatty acids from nuts, seeds, fish, cold pressed oils and supplements.

Adjustment 2:

Eat Enough Protein

Protein is important for your optimal health no matter what season it is.  Nutritionalists suggest .75 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of your body weight depending upon your physical activity.  But, because our body can only absorb 30 to 35 grams per meal, we need to spread our protein intake throughout the day.  Be sure to eat some sort of protein in every meal and in every snack.  Getting some of that protein through soy-based products is also recommended by many nutritionalists.

Adjustment 3:

Choose low GI carbohydrates

GI or glycemic index, is the measure of how fast blood sugar rises after eating.  One good example is that white sugar has a glycemic index of 100, where peanuts have a glycemic index of 15.  That means that peanuts raise the blood sugar levels at 15% of the rate of white sugar.  Fast rising blood sugar means the pancreas produces and sometimes overproduces insulin.

These spikes in insulin can weaken the immune system and interferes with the production of super hormones.  By choosing low GI carbohydrates, combined with eating the appropriate levels of protein you can better control your insulin.

Adjustment 4:

Nutritional supplements is not an option

Instead of boosting their immune system by eating the right foods, exercising and avoiding stress, too many people turn to herbal remedies to prevent colds and the flu.  However, these people believe that using herbal remedies, like Echinacea, will stimulate their immune system and often utilize these remedies rather than eating the right foods.  Echinacea can and will stimulate the immune system, but if you aren’t feeding the immune system with the proper vitamins and nutrients, the effectiveness of the herbal remedy will not be as long-lasting as you expect.

Overall, the best way to adjust your immune system this winter is to avoid too much supplementation, get enough protein and essential fatty acids, and avoid those sugary carbohydrates to make your way through these next couple months illness-free.