Browsed by
Category: Eating

Nine Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

Nine Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

We talk a lot about the importance of reaching a goal weight and how to stay motivated. Sometimes, though, it still seems like a laborious task. If you’re carrying extra weight, you probably already know there are a myriad of health-related reasons to slim down. While it may seem impossible, little steps will carry you bit by bit down your weight loss path to your ultimate goal.While keeping your eyes on the big prize, it may help you to realize that even small changes in your weight may improve blood sugar, blood pressure, heart health, reduce cholesterol, and decrease your chances of developing diabetes. We’ve shared many motivational tips, but did you know that when you lose 10% of your bodyweight, you are instantly healthier? There’s no doubt that dropping weight will make you look and feel better, but there are numerous other benefts that you can realize while on your weight loss journey, which have nothing to do with how you look in your skinny jeans. Read more: Strategies for successful maintenance after weight loss.

Fewer Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

The link may not be immediately obvious, but new research has found that for some people, being overweight can make their asthma and allergy symptoms worse. Carrying excess weight on your body puts a burden on the adrenal glands, and your adrenal glands help manage asthma and allergies. In addition, being overweight strains your respiratory system and can make allergy symptoms worse.

Arthritis Relief

Not only does losing weight help relieve arthritis pain, it can also help keep you from developing arthritis—the less you weigh, the less stress on the joints. In addition, recent studies have shown that when you have arthritis and you lose weight, your pain is reduced and your joint functionality significantly improves.

Less Foot Pain

You may not really think about it, but excess weight can put a lot of pressure on your feet, even if you don’t have arthritis. In a recent study, people who had lost an average of 90 pounds found that their incidence of foot pain lowered by 83%. This is understandable because your feet support your entire body, and therefore your entire body’s weight. Relief from foot pain is motivation enough for losing weight.

Glowing Skin

There are numerous ways being overweight may affect your skin, which is the body’s largest organ. Both skin elasticity and color can be altered by lack of proper nutrition, and a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar can cause pale skin and skin tags. Darkness around the eyes can also signal poor nutrition, such as iron defciency, diabetes, protein anemia, or stress.

Better Mood

When you are overweight, your entire system will be out of balance, including the hormones that affect your mood. Losing weight may increase your overall sense of well-being and decrease feelings of depression. Many overweight people suffer from extreme depression, and depression may increase a person’s chances of being overweight, setting up a cycle that is hard to break.

Improved Cognition and Memory

A recent study found that older adults who were overweight scored worse on cognitions tests than adults who were at a healthy weight. Past studies have linked excess weight in animals to cognitive decline, but little has been previously understood about the interaction between obesity and the brain. However, new research suggests that being overweight weakens the blood-brain barrier, and this allows substances manufactured by fat to flow to the brain. Researchers also discovered that 12 weeks after weight loss, memory significantly improves.

Sounder Sleep

If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you understand the benefits of a good night’s sleep. During sleep, your cells are repaired and your brain processes and remembers the day’s events. In fact, the most common prescription for sleep apnea is weight loss. In studies involving people with diabetes and sleep apnea, those who lost a greater amount of weight had the most significant drop in sleep apnea symptoms. It only takes a weight loss of 5% in obese people to start seeing results.

Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Almost everyone has either heard or read about the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes and its link to obesity. It may be a surprise for many to learn how effective losing weight can be at reversing the impact of type 2 diabetes. In fact, many people can avoid the disease altogether by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes patients on a restricted eating plan, such as the doctor-supervised ChiroThin Weight Loss Program, were able to lower their blood sugar and insulin levels to normal within seven days. If you have type 2 diabetes, reversing the condition and avoiding future complications could just be the best benefit of your weight-loss journey.

Economic Savings

Many complain that eating a healthy diet is costly, and sometimes it does seem like fast food, junk food, and convenience food is cheaper. However, in the long run, slimming your waist can plump up your wallet. When you calculate the cost of medical bills, missed days at work, short-term disability, low-productivity, workers’ compensation, and more, there is a real difference between the financial health of obese people and their peers who have healthier weights. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good in your clothes, but the harsh reality is that being overweight can take up to 20 years off your life. Reducing your weight by even 5% can have a positive effect on your health, and it is a great beginning for your transformation. If you are ready to start your weight loss journey, call our office at Oblander Chiropractic to find out more about the doctor-supervised ChiroThin Weight Loss Program.

 

The office phone number is 406-652-3553

 

 

 

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

fruits in supermarket

Getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet is important for a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that it improves digestion and contributes to lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The FDA recommends that adults get at least 25 to 30 grams in their diet every day. However, our typical western diet, which is high in refined grains and processed food, provides the average person only about 15 grams of fiber per day.

There are two different types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble, each of which fulfill an important task. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and our stomach’s digestive juices), transforming into a gel-like substance that helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar. The primary purpose of insoluble fiber is to work as an indigestible bulking agent to keeps things moving along the digestive tract, which aids elimination and reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber may also help you to lose weight, and is important in maintaining general bowel health.

Among the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber are the following:

  • Beans and lentils – Make a three-bean salad, a bean burrito, some chili or soup. Hummus (chick pea puree) is another tasty option.
  • Bran cereal – You don’t have to endure Grape Nuts to meet your daily requirement. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is considered high in fiber.
  • Whole grains – Chuck the white bread for whole-grain bread and pasta. It tastes better, and it does not make your blood sugar spike so quickly due to its higher fiber content.
  • Brown rice – Has a great, nutty taste and is particularly nice with a little soy sauce added.
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery are among the vegetables with the highest fiber. Be sure not to overcook them though. They should remain crunchy.
  • Popcorn – A low-calorie snack (if you skip the added butter) and an easy source of fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds – Those highest in fiber are almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Baked potatoes – Be sure to eat the skin, as it’s the part with the good fiber.
  • Berries – There’s a lot of fiber contained in the seeds and skin of berries.
  • Oatmeal – Steel-cut oats are the best in providing good amounts of cholesterol-lowering fiber. If you’re in a rush, instant oatmeal provides fiber as well, if at a lower amount.

So be sure to add more from the above list to your weekly menu and enjoy the many benefits that increased fiber has to offer! If you have questions about your diet choices, always remember that you can call either of our Billings offices and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Oblander or a member of our staff!

Beating the Odds: How Some People Stick with Diet and Exercise Plans

Beating the Odds: How Some People Stick with Diet and Exercise Plans

Billings Chiropractic Diet Services
balance-scales

How long did your last diet or exercise plan last? If you’re like many people, your answer is “not that long.” In fact, one UK survey found that the average length of time a person stays on a nutrition plan is 19 days. A slightly more positive poll found that women tended to quit their diets after five weeks and two days. If these statistics sound distressingly familiar, it might be time to reassess how you approach your own diet plan.

How Do People Stick with Their Diet and Exercise Plans?

If you want to make sure your diet and exercise plan doesn’t become just another statistic, a change in attitude can make all the difference. In order to create a diet plan you can stick with, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what types of changes will fit into your lifestyle. Diet plans with long lists of “bad” foods might help you cut back on calories in the short term, but do you really plan to go the rest of your life without cake? People who stick with their diet plans take a more moderate approach, making small changes that they can live with in the long term.

Exercise plans can be just as difficult to carry out. People who stick with their exercise plans view physical activity as a regular part of life, not something they do only when they have the time, energy, and motivation. Of course, sticking with physical activity is much easier when it’s enjoyable. Rather than slogging it out on the treadmill, try yoga, martial arts, or another exercise program that stimulates your mind as well as your body. And variety helps too!

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Whether you’re building a diet plan or an exercise program (or are making changes in both areas), the people around you can make a huge difference in your level of success. If your spouse, children, or friends tend to turn to food in celebration or out of boredom, it’s easy to forget about your diet goals. Getting enough exercise is a lot more difficult if the people around you would rather watch TV than go on a walk.

Fortunately, when it comes to sticking with your diet and exercise plan, the people around you can also be a huge help. Making dietary changes as a family can help everyone involved lose weight and improve their health, while exercising with a friend can make the time go by much more quickly and pleasantly.

Having the support of a chiropractor who really understands the power (and challenges) of making healthy lifestyle changes (think nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management, for example) is another way to help you meet your goals. The staff here in Billings at Oblander Chiropractic can work with you to make targeted, realistic adjustments that you’ll be able to stick with in the long term. Sticking with a diet and exercise program isn’t always easy, but you might be surprised by just how easy it is to make the changes you’re looking for with the right type of advice and support!

Staying Healthy at the Office

Staying Healthy at the Office

Staying Healthy at the Office
Staying Healthy at the Office

When you work in an office job—even one that’s otherwise rewarding—it’s easy to feel trapped in a day-to-day pattern that doesn’t seem to leave much room for physical exercise or healthy eating. And this is true even though more and more Americans are becoming aware that sitting for long periods of time, often without a break, is hazardous to your health.

The simple truth is that they’re right to be concerned. One study conducted in 2010 indicated that “men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported fewer than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity.” And yet the nature of office work is essentially sedentary. So what can you do to change that fact and improve your health? This article lists a number of suggestions that may help.

  • Eat breakfast. Studies have shown that workers who eat breakfast have better concentration than those who only drink coffee in the mornings. In addition, those who eat breakfast tend to eat less during the day than those who do not, and thus more easily avoid gaining weight.
  • Bike or walk to work. If you live close to work, biking or walking can provide much of the exercise you need each week, and you can arrive at work feeling more energized after spending some time in the fresh air. If you take public transportation to work, consider getting off one or two stops earlier and walking the rest of the way.
  • Take frequent short breaks. Even if you take a longer break for lunch or to go to the gym, sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of time can still be hazardous. Studies have shown that taking micro-breaks (getting up from your desk and moving around every 15 minutes or so) can be more valuable than taking a longer break only once a day.
  • Use the stairs. Why ride in a stuffy metal box with 10 other people when you could get a little healthful exercise?
  • Drink lots of water. Experts recommend you drink 4 to 6 glasses a day to keep yourself hydrated and healthy. If you have to get up to refill your glass from the drinking fountain or the refrigerator, that’ll also provide an opportunity for another micro-break.
  • Don’t forget about fresh air. Offices can often be stuffy and under-ventilated.  If possible, open a window near your desk. If not, be sure to take occasional breaks outside the building, even if only for short periods of time.
  • Bring a healthy lunch and snacks from home. Rather than eating in the cafeteria, make a healthy lunch at home and sit outside when eating it. Instead of eating sugary snacks from vending machines, bring fruit and nuts and snack on them.
  • Think ergonomically. Adjust your chair to fit your body and sit with your feet flat on the floor. Position your computer monitor at eye level and your keyboard at elbow level, so that your wrists are straight when you type. Move your whole arm when you use the mouse, not just your wrist.
  • Stretch at your desk. You may not be able to jog or do push-ups at your desk, but you can certainly stretch and release tension from your arms, neck, shoulders, and fingers.
  • Exercise before you go home. After a long day at work, many people get home and just want to sit down on the couch and relax. If you are a member of a gym or jog regularly, doing this directly after work will improve the likelihood that you’ll actually exercise.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Brain Health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Brain Health

omega3 food
omega3 food

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are deemed “essential” because they fall into a category of nutrients that the body needs, but cannot synthesize in sufficient quantities by itself. They must be consumed in our foods or in the form of supplements so the body receives enough omega-3 to meet its needs.

Recent research is indicating that, in addition to the well-known benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for the cardiovascular system and other organs, they’re pretty essential in keeping our brains healthy too. This suggests that they may also play a significant role in our cognitive development and mental health. One of the reasons for this may be the presence in omega-3 fatty acids of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. DHA has been identified as an important nutrient responsible for proper brain development and optimal brain function.

Studies have linked omega-3 fatty acids and DHA to improvement of symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and other studies have found that children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. A number of recent studies have found that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is strongly associated with cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists in these studies have hypothesized that omega-3 fatty acids and DHA provide a kind of protective barrier against Alzheimer’s.

In a more recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in February 2014, researchers found that DHA may even be a major factor in how our brains are created in the first place. In the study, monkeys fed a lifelong diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA were found to have brains with highly connected and well-organized neural networks, similar to those of humans. At the same time, monkeys raised on a lifelong diet low in omega-3/DHA had much more limited brain networking.

A study published in the journal Neurology in January 2014 also found links between omega-3 fatty acids and brain volumes in humans. In the study, more than 1000 post-menopausal women had blood samples drawn and MRI scans taken at the start of the study, and then 8 years later. The data indicated that overall brain size was smaller in women in the lowest quartile of omega-3 levels, compared to women in the highest quartile. It also indicated that the hippocampus—the area of the brain in charge of cognitive function—was significantly smaller in the brains of the women in the lowest omega-3 level quartile. As one of the researchers phrased it, “…when we look at the whole picture, omega-3 fatty acids are a major component of brain tissue and they are metabolized to anti-inflammatory compounds that could reduce brain cell death. We can certainly make a good story to support the idea that omega-3 fatty acids are good for the brain.”

So if you’re concerned about keeping your brain as healthy as possible and preventing its decline as you age, adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may be part of the answer!

 

Want Your Kids to Be Active? Here Is Why YOU Should Be their Lifestyle Role Model

Want Your Kids to Be Active? Here Is Why YOU Should Be their Lifestyle Role Model

family-bicycling
family-bicycling

It’s not news—obesity is a growing national epidemic among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that obesity in children has doubled in the last 30 years and quadrupled in adolescents. Nearly 20% of children 6-11 years old are obese as are almost 23% of teenagers. This places them at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Finally—and even more concerning—studies have shown that people who are obese as children tend to be obese as adults.

What’s happening here?  In large part, it comes down to our lifestyle choices. Record numbers of both adults and children are succumbing to the temptations of TV, computers, and video games, and many of us simply don’t get the exercise our bodies need to stay healthy.

Naturally, parents who read statistics like these may be—and should be—concerned about their kids. More and more often, they ask themselves questions like “What can we do to help our kids be more active and physically fit?” One answer to this question is pretty simple: To get your kids to be more active, engage in more active pursuits with them. One of the keys to getting children to exercise more is to have them see their parents exercise more. That’s the finding from a new study published in the journal Pediatrics

In the study, researchers at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in England fitted 554 mother-child pairs with equipment to measure how much exercise they were getting when they were together as well as when they were apart. Accelerometers tracked their exercise levels, and GPS devices measured how close they were to each other. Over the course of seven days, the findings were clear – the more physical activity the mother was engaged in while with the child, the more active the child was during the rest of the day. In fact, for every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity the mother got, the child was likely to get ten percent more of the same activity. Conversely, for every minute the mother was sedentary, the child was 0.18 minutes more sedentary. Both of these effects were more pronounced in girls than in boys.

These findings seem to indicate that parents can be effective role models for their children by getting more active exercise themselves. But specialists emphasize that parents don’t have to drop their other priorities to do this. Physical therapist Teresa Beckman suggests, “Incorporate small changes into your daily life. For example, rather than playing a board game together, go outside and play hopscotch. Or if you’re planning a trip to your local playground, try walking instead of driving.”

Other suggestions for becoming more active with your children include playing more sports with them, walking more with them (if you take the bus, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way), riding bikes together, and even playing Frisbee. Dancing is good exercise, so you can encourage your kids to take lessons in various forms of dance and then set a good example for them by attending the classes yourself. You can join exercise classes together, schedule regular pre-dinner walks or runs, or just play family games of basketball or soccer.

You are your child’s most important role model when it comes to teaching them about the importance of exercise. And exercising together is just as good for you as it is for them. So switch off that TV or computer and go out to play! You’ll both be doing something good for your health and having fun at the same time!

 

Why Eating with the Seasons Makes Good Sense

Why Eating with the Seasons Makes Good Sense

Basket of Fruits and Vegetables --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Basket of Fruits and Vegetables — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

It’s true.  The combination of industrial agriculture and efficient global logistics has made it possible for many American families to enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables year round.

But just because they’re available doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best choice for you or your family. In fact, there are several really good reasons that your diet—particularly your choice of fruits and vegetables—should change with the seasons. Now that fall is here and winter is just around the corner, this is a great time to talk about seasonal eating and how you can make the most of the cold-weather months.

The reasons for eating local produce in-season basically fall into four categories: nutrition, taste, cost and environmental sustainability.

Nutrition. Local fruits and vegetables picked seasonally at their ultimate ripeness are usually more nutritious than produce that is grown in a hot-house environment or that is raised in other parts of the world and transported over long distances.

Taste. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, flavors and textures tends to suffer when they’re grown out-of-season or spend lots of time in transit. This encourages farmers to do things they might not ordinarily do, including adding colors, sweeteners or preservatives. The fact that out-of-season produce needs to be marketable after shipping may also encourage farmers to grow varieties that are more durable but less flavorful. The net result is often a poorer product.

Cost. Growing produce out-of-season or transporting it over long distances involves expenses that just don’t exist when fruits and vegetables are grown and marketed locally. As anyone who has ever bought fresh strawberries or tomatoes in the middle of January has noticed, these expenses translate into higher prices at the grocery store.

Environmental Sustainability. The emergence of a global marketplace for fruits and vegetables has opened up lots of possibilities for growers and consumers alike but has also come with high environmental costs. The new economics of farming and distribution have changed how land, water, energy, and chemicals are used in producing food. In some cases, they’ve also tipped the scales against centuries-old patterns of sustainable crop rotation and conservation practices. Plus, moving and storing large amounts of fresh produce requires energy and increases our collective carbon footprint.

When you consider all of these factors together, it’s clear that out-of-season produce is really a pretty big compromise. So what’s the alternative? There are many winter fruits and vegetables that will soon be their peak. Knowing about these and adding them to your diet over the coming months can provide plenty of variety and may even help you get important nutrients that you wouldn’t normally get from produce at other times of the year.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of our winter favorites.

Winter Butternut Squash. Squash has relatively few calories (only 63 calories per cup) but contains lots of vitamin A and potassium. Plus, a single cup of squash also provides half your daily requirement of vitamin C!

Kale. Kale is another winter vegetable that’s packed with important nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C and K, and minerals such as calcium, copper and magnesium. Kale is also rich in cancer-fighting phytonutrients called flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol, among others) and has been shown in some research to lower cholesterol. Cooked kale can easily be added to mashed potatoes to make for a healthy side dish.

Leeks. Leeks too are abundant at this time of year. They are rich in vitamin K (good for bone health and vital for blood coagulation), and have a healthy amount of folate. A versatile member of the allium family (like onions and garlic), leeks can be added to soups and stews in pretty much the same way you might typically use onions. Leeks are also tasty on their own—just braise them a little liquid. If you’re willing to put just a bit more effort into preparation, creamed leeks is another tasty alternative. Just clean and slice 2-3 leeks thinly, then sauté them in a little butter, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cover for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Mix in a tablespoon of flour and about ½ cup of sour cream and you have an excellent side dish to serve along with fish or chicken.

Apples. Apples are a great seasonal complement to the vegetables on our list. Over 2,500 varieties of this fruit are grown in the U.S., with 100 varieties grown commercially.  A medium apple contains about 80 calories and is fat, sodium, and cholesterol free. If you’re interested in getting the most nutritional bang for the buck, be sure to eat the peels! Two-thirds of a typical apple’s fiber and lots of its antioxidants are concentrated in the peel. Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall and are ready for eating throughout the country all winter long!

Nuts. Many popular types of nuts (which are technically fruits containing a hard shell and a seed) are actively harvested in the fall and are available throughout much of the country year-round. Almonds, chestnuts and walnuts are a few winter favorites. It’s worth noting that while almonds and walnuts are not true nuts in the botanical sense, they are considered nuts in the culinary sense. Nuts like these are typically very high in protein and fat and naturally low in carbohydrates. They also contain several important vitamins and minerals. They are a particularly dense nutritional package and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Summertime Grilling and Your Health

Summertime Grilling and Your Health

summertime-grilling-200-300For many people, summertime just isn’t summertime without a barbecue! It’s a generations-old cultural phenomenon that combines three things American families love—food, family and fun!

Unfortunately, though, there are also some potential downsides to grilling when it comes to your health. This article presents a quick overview of the risks and offers some advice to help make grilling a little bit safer for you and your family this summer.

What’s unhealthy about grilling?

The first issue has to do with HOW the food is actually cooked. Grilling meat or fish over high heat produces carcinogens known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which have been linked to increased risk of various cancers. The second issue has to do with WHAT KINDS of food many people choose to grill. Many of the most popular foods for grilling can be high in fat and sodium and have little other nutritional value. With these two issues in mind, here are some tips on how you can enjoy healthier grilling all summer long.

Clean the grill. You don’t want to incorporate rancid grease and the charred buildup from previous barbecues into your meat before you’ve even begun cooking it. Use a sturdy wire scrub brush and warm soapy water to scrape any residue from the grill’s surface, both before and after you grill. This will also greatly improve the flavor of your food!

Use a low flame and cook briefly. When direct flames touch the meat it can add to the HCAs produced. To reduce these HCAs, keep the gas flame low or, if you’re using charcoal, wait until the coals have been reduced to glowing embers. The heat will still be sufficient, but will not be as likely to char the meat. Try not to overcook your food, as overdone meat has more HCAs. Discard any charred parts.

Flip burgers often. To reduce the chances of E. coli contamination in your ground beef, be sure to flip your burgers every 30 seconds or so. The USDA advises that you cook burgers to an internal temperature of at least 160°F to kill any possible bacteria. However, if you are someone who thinks that a burger cooked beyond medium-rare is a travesty, buy a cut of beef and grind it yourself and form your patties just before grilling. Or, if it is commercially prepared, be sure to flip your burgers often. A study found that when two burgers were cooked to the same temperature, the one flipped more often had a fifth of the E. coli.

Pre-treat your meat. To allow you to cook your meat for a shorter time while still retaining flavor and tenderness, consider marinating it first.  A marinade will tenderize the meat, and by using some flavorful spices in the marinade or in a dry rub, you can add a host of antioxidants to your meal that will reduce the production of HCAs. Researchers from Kansas State University found that marinating meat reduced carcinogens by 57 to 88 percent. Red wine, ginger, turmeric, rosemary and garlic are among the great-tasting, cancer-fighting ingredients you can include in a marinade.  And by combining two parts onion, two parts garlic and one part lemon juice in your marinade, you can reduce HCAs by 70%, as some researchers in Germany have found.

Choose healthier meat. Grass-fed organic meat is a far healthier choice than conventionally raised meat. Compared with conventionally raised meat, organic grass-fed beef and chicken are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and higher in omega-3 and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which has been shown to reduce cholesterol and abdominal fat. It is also free from hormones and antibiotics.

Go veggie. Though meat is certainly tasty, grilled vegetables are delicious too, and vegetarian versions of burgers and hot dogs have come a long way from their early roots, when they had all the flavor of foam peanuts or confetti. Fortunately, there are now a host of excellent veggie “meats” on the market that don’t force you to sacrifice good taste for good health. And there’s nothing quite like grilled red peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini and onions. A good way to grill veggies is to cut them up into small chunks and put them on skewers. You’ll get a healthy serving of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in each bite. And topping your burger with some slices of avocado will give it a nutrition boost as well as a taste boost. Its mono and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce cholesterol and can be a good substitute for mayonnaise.

Keys to Healthy “In-Season” Eating

Keys to Healthy “In-Season” Eating

vegetables detailsAlthough it may be tempting to pick up some fresh tomatoes or strawberries in the middle of winter, you might find yourself disappointed in their flavor. Thanks to the combination of industrial agriculture and global transportation, most fruits and vegetables are now available year round. However, this may not actually be as much of a good thing as it seems. Why? Not only is out-of-season produce less tasty, it is also usually not as nutritious as produce picked seasonally at its ultimate ripeness. There are plenty of winter vegetables and fruits now at their peak, and taking advantage of these sometimes neglected veggies can provide you with necessary nutrients that you may not get from produce at other times of the year.

Japanese organic farmer Masanobu Fukuoka noted that farmers were paid a premium for seasonal produce that could be supplied more than a month earlier than usual. He observed, though, that these early crops not only were reduced in flavor but also required a copious amount of energy use and chemicals. He noted that the farmers who produced their mandarin orange crop early had to use artificial colors and sweeteners to modify the early fruit so it would resemble that of the seasonal variety, resulting in both a poorer and more expensive product. Buying produce in season is both healthier and less expensive.

Apples, nuts and leeks, as well as a wide variety of squashes are all at their best. Winter butternut squash is low in calories too, at only 63 calories per cup. It also contains an abundant amount of vitamin A (beta-carotene) and potassium. Not only that, but you may be surprised to find that the amount of vitamin C contained in only a cup of squash provides half your daily requirement of vitamin C.

Kale is another incredibly healthy winter vegetable, filled with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C and K, calcium, copper and magnesium. Kale also is high in cancer-fighting phytonutrients called flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol. Kale also has demonstrated the ability to lower cholesterol. Cooked kale can be easily incorporated into mashed potatoes to make for a healthy side dish.

Leeks too are abundant at this time of year. They are one of the vegetables with the highest amount of vitamin K (good for bone health and vital for blood coagulation), and have a healthy amount of folate. A versatile member of the allium family (like onions and garlic), leeks can be incorporated into soups and stews in pretty much the same way you might typically use onions. They are also tasty on their own—just braise them a little liquid. If you’re willing to put just a bit more effort into preparation, creamed leaks is an even tastier alternative. Just clean and slice 2-3 leeks thinly, then sauté them in a little butter, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cover for about 10 minutes, until cooked. Mix in a tablespoon of flour and about ½ cup of sour cream and you have an excellent side dish to serve along with fish or chicken.

Now is the time to appreciate these healthy winter vegetables, because all too soon the season will be over. But remember—there’s good news just around the corner… Before you know it, the strawberries you’ve been craving will be back in season!

 

Why Better Nutrition Alone Won’t Stop the Obesity Epidemic

Why Better Nutrition Alone Won’t Stop the Obesity Epidemic

Girl on the couch
Girl on the couch

It’s no secret that many Americans’ eating habits have taken a turn for the worse over the past 20 years in terms of the quantity, quality and combination of foods we eat. A number of diet-related trends have converged to help create a perfect storm of expanding waistlines:

  • Beginning in the mid-1970s, government nutritional guidance (backed by the limited scientific data that was available at the time) triggered a nationwide shift away from foods with saturated fat (such as milk, eggs and meat). However, it also inadvertently ushered in the age of “fat-free” marketing that gradually drove Americans toward a diet high in complex carbohydrates.
  • The rise of convenience-oriented packaged foods made home cooking seem unnecessary. As a result, a generation (or maybe two) grew up without planning meals, shopping for ingredients or preparing food. While it’s easy to focus on the loss of these basic skills, something else was lost, too—control over the contents of the food itself. In adopting diets built on ready-made meals, American ouseholds left decisions about fat, sugar and salt as well as chemical additives to the chefs in corporate kitchens.
  • A new culture of snacking evolved that made eating a sort of parallel pastime—something that was done almost without thinking alongside other day-to-day activities. Plus, grab-and-go packaged food meant that the dining room was now anywhere you happened to be.
  • Supersize portions, value meals and double desserts slowly changed Americans’ ideas about how much food should be eaten at a single sitting. For much of the population, the new normal included many more calories than would have been common in the 1970s or 1980s.

But for all the evidence that the American diet has played a prominent role in the current obesity epidemic, there is also evidence that another factor may be even more important.

On average, Americans are LESS PHYSICALLY ACTIVE THAN AT ANY OTHER TIME in our history. Sweeping changes in the kinds of work we do and the way we do it, along with changes in how we get from place to place and how we spend our leisure time have meant that much of the population just doesn’t move around very much. We increasingly lead very sedentary lives.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine drives home this point. According to researchers at Stanford University who analyzed 20 years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a very sharp drop in leisure-time physical activity may be responsible for the general upward trend in obesity rates.

Dr. Uri Ladabaum, Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and lead investigator, noted that total daily calorie, fat, carbohydrate and protein consumption hasn’t actually changed much over the past 20 years but that the general level of physical activity has. “At the population level, we found a significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in both BMI and waist circumference.”

The fall-off in physical activity over the past two decades is truly striking:

  • During the 1988-1994 period, the number of female American adults reporting no physical activity was 19.1%. During the 2009-2010 period, it was 51.7%.
  • The percentage of American men reporting no physical activity grew from 11.4% in the 1988-1994 period to 43.5% in the 2009-2010 period.

Over the same time frame, the incidence of obesity across the country has grown. While the average BMI has increased across the board, the most dramatic change has been among woman between the ages of 18 and 39.

An earlier study reported in the December 2013 Mayo Clinic Proceedings painted a similarly grim picture. Based on two years’ worth of data collected from sensors attached to 2,600 people, investigators concluded:

  • Men and women of normal weight exercised vigorously (think jogging or a brisk uphill hike) for less than two minutes a day. They engaged in moderate exercise (yoga or golf, for instance) about 2.5 to 4 hours per week.
  • By contrast, the average obese American man gets only 3.6 hours of vigorous exercise per YEAR, and the average obese American woman gets only ONE hour of vigorous exercise in the same period of time.

What’s happening here?

According to Edward C. Archer, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “We’ve engineered physical activity out of our daily lives and that’s causing the health disparities that we have in this country.”

There is a very clear relationship between physical activity and your health—including your musculoskeletal health. But it’s also true that there’s a link between your musculoskeletal health and your ability to lead an active lifestyle. If you’re suffering from back, neck or joint pain, it can be very difficult to exercise. This in turn raises your risk of weight gain as well as your risk of other health problems.

We can help relieve musculoskeletal pain and restore your mobility. Just call or visit our office today!

 
Additional Resources

Lack of exercise, not diet, linked to rise in obesity, Stanford research shows. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2014/07/lack-of-exercise–not-diet–linked-to-rise-in-obesity–stanford-.html

U.S. mothers, 1965 to 2010: More TV, less housework leading to a more obese population. http://www.sph.sc.edu/news/mothers_inactive.html

‘Get Up!’ or lose hours of your life every day, scientist says. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-get-up-20140731-story.html