February 15, 2017

The Horrible Effects of Soda on your Health

In the United States, the average person drinks 57 gallons of soda per person every year [1]. Sugary drinks have many negative effects on a person’s health. Soda has an extremely high sugar content, which causes frequent changes in blood sugar levels and stress on your pancreas to produce insulin. Drinking soda is pleasing because it causes your body to produce dopamine which “stimulates the pleasure centers of [the] brain… just like a low-grade line of cocaine” [1].

Furthermore, the consumption of sugary drinks like soda has a direct link to obesity. A typical soda bottle contains about 15 to 18 tea spoons of sugar and over 240 calories. The matter is compounded after consumption of a soft drink, as people tend to still be hungry. This is the definition of “empty calories” because people do not feel full from drinking a soda, unlike if they were to consume 240 calories of food. Since these people will likely consume food as well, the extra calories only add to the obesity epidemic. Harvard researchers have found out that for “each additional 12 ounce soda children consumed each day, the odds of becoming obese increased by 60%” [2]. Additionally, they concluded that increased sugar intake in the form of liquids also increases the chances of heart attacks and has a significant impact on an individual’s cardiovascular health.

Most soft drinks also contain corn syrup, which is high in fructose. Intake of this substance causes greater chances of metabolic syndrome, heart attacks, and diabetes. Soda consumption also limits the availability of potassium due to the increased intake of sodium preservatives. Therefore, this may increase the risk of asthma and eczema [1]. With all these risks, an innocent can of sugary soda with dinner may lead to many more problems.
[1] Soft drink Dangers: 8 Ways Soda Negatively Affects Your Health. Olson, Samantha. Medical Daily. Retrieved From: http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/soft-drink-dangers-8-ways-soda-negatively-affects-your-health-319054

[2] Sugary drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet. Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/

August 15, 2015

4 Simple Ways To Improve Your Blood Pressure

Healthy lifestyle

Roughly one in every four American adults battle high blood pressure, or hypertension, on a day-to-day basis, and those numbers are steadily on the rise. For some, the disease will stem from genetics, but ultimately its lifestyle choices that will play the most significant role in determining an individual’s chances of being prescribed blood pressure medication, especially if he/she is maintaining a daily blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher.

With elevated blood pressure, you are risking the likelihood of developing heart disease and kidney disease or suffering from a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. While medication is probably the most crucial component to managing hypertension, there are also ways you can keep your blood pressure in check simply by changing your lifestyle habits.

Lifestyle Change Strategies

One of the many reasons hypertension is so deadly is because it often comes with no warning signs. This is why purchasing a blood pressure monitor and using it daily is paramount toward your success with hypertension management. The following lifestyle changes will also help:

1.  Lose weight

Undoubtedly, losing weight is one of the most effective ways of reducing blood pressure, since excess weight increases your chances of developing other conditions, like sleep apnea, which has been shown to raise blood pressure. Even by losing just 10% of your weight, you will significantly reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. As you lose the weight, keep tabs on your waistline measurement. Studies have shown repeatedly that the circumference of a person’s waist plays a vital part in maintaining normal blood pressure. Men should strive to keep their waist measurement below 40 inches while women should aim for a number less than 35 inches.

2.  Follow a healthy diet

Not only is eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats ideal for lowering blood pressure, but it’s a wise choice for every individual in general. A good way to adopt a healthy eating plan is to record everything you eat in a food diary, which will keep you honest and on track while changing your eating habits. Make a note of the areas where you can improve and seek out healthier food options. Strive for items with lower sodium content. Remove the salt shaker from your dining area. By doing a search on-line, you can find healthier salt substitutes that won’t interfere with your regimen.

3.  Start exercising

Thirty minutes of regular activity on most days of the week will go a long way in helping you lower your blood pressure and maintain it. Some of the best types of activity include jogging, walking, swimming, and cycling, but make it a point to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

4.  Kick the habit

Did you know that each cigarette you smoke greatly increases your blood pressure for several minutes after you finish? Just by quitting smoking you will substantially lengthen your life span.

Although managing blood pressure might seem like a daunting task in the beginning, the longer life expectancy you gain is certainly worth the effort, not only for you but for your loved ones also.

April 6, 2012

Reduce Your Osteoarthritis Pain With Exercise

Filed under: exercise — @ 6:06 pm

Exercise for Osteoarthritis PainDid you know that regular exercise can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis? Studies have found that people who regularly exercise have less pain from their joints than those who do not. In fact, even if the exercise does not result in weight loss, it may help you to feel better and be more comfortable. How can exercise help you in your pain control?

Extra weight on your body can cause the joints in your body to ache, simply due to the stress that is put on them. While extra weight is not the sole cause of osteoarthritis, it is one leading cause of it and it can be quite painful. It causes a vicious cycle as well, because you need to exercise to lose weight, but it can be painful to do so.

Studies seem to indicate that regular exercise has an effect on the cytokines of the body. Excess cytokine production has been found to break down the cartilage between the joints and cause joint disease, like osteoarthritis. Exercise can cause the cytokine production to be decreased, helping you to have less pain.

While you may feel that exercise will cause you more pain, understand that it can actually cause you less pain in the long run. Simply start out slow and give your body the time it needs to adjust to your new habit. You may hurt for a few days, but you will soon see that it can help you to feel better and feel less pain in the future.

Whether you are exercising for weight loss or to simply feel better, it can have a big impact upon your pain level as well. Give it a chance and you will soon see big results in how you feel physically and mentally. Osteoarthritis is not something that can hold you back, if you will get the regular exercise that your body needs.

December 8, 2011

Average Life Expectancy: Defined by Fitness Level, Not Weight

Filed under: exercise — Tags: , , , — @ 9:16 pm

cardiovascular fitnessAlthough diet and weights are stressed as important health contributors, a new study deems that shaping up, and keeping in shape is the most important factor when discussing average life expectancy. This study was conducted at the University of South Carolina; consisting of 14,345 male participants, the participants were given treadmill tests over six years, and then they had eleven years of follow up interviews. While all of the participants were trying to lose weight, the researchers found that those who continued to increase their endurance level, or maintain it, over the studied period faced less health problems than those who failed to maintain their fitness levels, even if the latter lost weight! Further, during the eleven year follow up period, 914 died from causes ranging from heart disease to stroke. The majority of participants who died from poor fitness level related deaths (i.e. heart disease and stroke) were those whose fitness level decreased, even if they lost weight. The lead researcher of the study, Duck-chul Lee, concludes that “you can worry less about your weight as long as you continue to maintain or increase your fitness levels.”

The results of this study on average life expectancy stress the continual need to physically push yourself; you should always strive to increase your physical fitness level. Remember, fitness is broken into three subsections – cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility – and you should work on improving all three! With this in mind, below are some suggestions for ways to improve your fitness level:

Cardiovascular training: Cardiovascular fitness is synonymous for aerobic activity, which includes activities like running, swimming, biking, fast walking, aerobic classes, etc. When doing aerobic activities, aim to raise your heart rate to up to 50-85% of your maximum heart rate. If you are just starting an exercise program, or have not exercised some time, work your endurance up slowly. Start by doing at least twenty minutes of cardiovascular activity, increasing your exercise session every few weeks. You should start by exercising at least three times a week with a goal of ultimately exercising five times a week.

Strength training: Strength training workouts test muscular strength. These workouts consist of activities such as weight machines, free weights, tubing, and calisthenics (i.e. push-ups, abdominal crunches). In order to strength train, you will need access to a location with weight machine facilities – so buy a gym membership! In general, the rule is to use an appropriate weight, whereby you will fatigue the muscle after the number of intended repetitions. In the beginning, you should aim to perform resistance training exercises two times a week, at least twenty to thirty minutes per session. Eventually, you should work up to training four times a week, at twenty to thirty minutes per session, completing two to three sets at eight to twelve repetitions each.

Flexibility Training: Flexibility exercises are defined as the range of motion around a joint. It is important to maintain an adequate range of motion in order to reach peak performance in cardiovascular and strength activities. The bad news is, certain factors, such as age, inactivity, and gender, contribute to a loss of range of motion. The good news is, working on stretching can increase your range of motion and have added benefits, such as reducing muscle soreness and reducing the risk of injury. You can work on your flexibility by attending yoga or Pilatesclass! You should also stretch after cardiovascular or strength activity; hold each posture for ten to thirty seconds.

By following the above recommendations, you will surely increase the average life expectancy in your household, hopefully leading to a long and happy life!

February 27, 2010

5 Fastest Ways To Lose Weight

1. Drink Water – Have eight to ten glasses of water a day. Most people only have between 3 or 4 glasses of water two day. That is less than half of the required amount. Water is used for nearly every process in your body. If you drink a glass of water 15 minutes before a meal you are more likely to eat less and feel full faster.
2. Eat 3 Meals per Day (and 2 snacks) – Having a balanced eating pattern will help you to realize when you are more likely to binge. Avoid frequent indulgences and instead replace them with small portions of healthy food.

3. Exercise – I am not just referring to running. Exercise includes lifting weights and turning that fat into muscle. Weight-lifting will also increase your muscle and thus your metabolism. Be warned that in doing this you may not see the numbers decreasing very rapidly on the scale (because muscle weighs quite a lot), but you will see your stomach depleting quickly!

4. Use Dark Colored Plates – Smaller, dark colored plates are the best to use! Dark blue is an ideal color as it has been proven to fight off appetites. Red, orange, and yellow are the colors that increase your appetite significantly. (Remember the McDonalds logo?)

5. Eat Good Fat – There are good fats and bad fats. Trans fat and saturated fats are the worst for you when trying to lose weight. Try to consume essential fatty acids! They can even help your body to burn fat. Eating lots of fish would be very helpful as fish are full of essential fatty acids.

Eating the right things, drinking the right things, eating the right amounts, and exercising may seem like a lot to do, but if you can accomplish all these and stick with it for a while you will be amazed at how fast you can lose weight!