How to Fight Free Radicals

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 9 – 1/23/15

In the January 21st post, Bea asked the burning question: What the heck are free radicals?  The simple answer, based on Bea’s limited knowledge, is that free radicals are evil ninjas, invading our bodies and wreaking havoc on our health and well-being.  

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There is, of course, a scientific definition of these little pests: 

Wikipedia defines free radicals as molecules with unpaired electrons.  These electrons are lonely because they can’t find a partner at their local dating site, ElectronMingle.com.    Because these electrons are hanging out in our bodies all by their lonesome selves, they attach themselves to other molecules and damage them. (They just can’t stand rejection).  The Antioxidant Detective provides a more scientific explanation in this article

There is a scientific theory that links free radical damage in our bodies (which leads to oxidative stress) to the premature aging process. According to this theory, oxidative stress leads to the development of diseases and is harmful for our brains.  For a more scientific explanation of this theory, you can read this article from the  National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

But fear not!  We can fight back!  Like Bea, you’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants.  They help protect our bodies from the dastardly deeds perpetrated by free radicals.  Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods, certain vitamins and other nutritional sources, such as resveratrol and certain spices.*

We can get antioxidants through our diet – choosing to eat the Mediterranean way is one great way to do this.  

Top food and beverage sources of antioxidants include: 

  • Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and collard greens.  Red and orange veggies such as red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut and acorn squash.  They all contain phytochemicals.  
  • Blue, red, and purple fruits and berries, which also contain phytochemicals.
  • Fatty fish, because of omega-3 fatty acids – wild salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines (ok, you won’t catch Bea eating sardines, but she loves salmon) 
  • Raw nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamias.  Like fish, they also contain omega-3s, along with other nutrients that can lower cholesterol and protect our brain and heart health.  
  • Red wine – which contains resveratrol, and both black and green tea, which contain flavonoids.  Both of these nutrients are free radical fighters.

*Source:  Read more about free radicals and antioxidants at the Antioxidant Detective site:  Antioxidant and Free Radicals 

For more reading:

Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention 

Why Drink Green Tea?

Related Articles:

 

The Mediterranean Diet for Vital Aging

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 8– 1/21/15

You are what you eat, they say.  Ahh, the infamous “they,” who know all and make sure they let the rest of us know it!  In Bea’s case, she must resemble a 12-grain bagel with cream cheese on the side – since she has that for breakfast almost every day, along with a cuppa famous Tim Horton’s coffee.  (She’s gotten better about breakfast lately – she adds some protein along with berries or some other kind of fruit.  Anyway, “they,” along with a lot of health experts out there, highly recommend the Mediterranean diet.

Eating that way can reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s, and it’s a great way to enhance our heart health.  The food variety in the Mediterranean diet helps fight off **free radicals** with antioxidants and phytochemicals contained in plant-based foods, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish.

  • Enjoy lean poultry, fish, (wild salmon, haddock, tuna, perch, snapper) and beans
  • Use vinegar and olive oil as salad dressing – choose herbs, rather than salt, to flavor it. Replace butter with olive oil.
  • Munch on (raw) nuts in moderation – nuts are a prime source of antioxidants. A 10-year study of over 85,000 women ages 35 – 59 concluded that eating nuts lowered their risk of heart disease, because they help lower bad cholesterol.*
  • Learn to love green, leafy vegetables, cruciferous veggies, sweet potatoes, and whole-grains
  • Stay hydrated with water. Drink green tea for its antioxidant properties.
  • Nosh on a wide variety of fruits, especially berries of all kinds: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, black berries.
  • Add avocado to salads, or on a sandwich instead of cheese.  Avocados have high amounts of the monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, also found in olive oil.*
  • Enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. It contains resveratrol, which can be heart healthy. (Don’t like red wine?  Try red or purple grape juice or just eat grapes).

Enjoy further reading:

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan

How to Follow the Mediterranean Diet

Source:

*VanTine, Julia, & Doherty, Bridget. Growing Younger – Breakthrough Age-Defying Secrets. Rodale Press.

**Question of the day:**  What the heck are free radicals, anyway?  Find out by reading Bea’s post on Friday, January 23. 

 

Bea’s Wellness Beat: Focus on the Heart

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I’m willing to bet that you weren’t aware of these 9 fantastic heart facts:

  •  Our heart pumps around 2,000 gallons of blood every stinking day.

 

  • Our heart beats around 100,000 beats per day, 35 million times a year, and around 2.5 billion beats in an average lifetime.

 

  • The heart is not on the left side of our chest – it’s in the middle, hanging out between our lungs.

 

  • Have a big heart is great figuratively. Literally? Not so much. An enlarged heart is a symptom of heart disease.

 

  • What day do most heart attacks occur? I’ll give you a hint, it’s NOT on our favourite day of the week, Friday. Nope, it’s the day we all love to hate: Monday (wow, what a surprise).

 

  • A guy’s heart is around 25% bigger than a woman’s. A woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s.

 

  • Guys, are you losing the hair on the top of your head? Watch out! Research shows that you have a higher risk of heart disease, especially if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. (I suggest you join Hair Club for Men, stat. If it’s still around, that is).

 

  • The heart can continue to beat when separated from the body, as long as it has an oxygen source.

 

  • Lastly, we all know that laughter makes us feel better about life. Health experts point out that laughing not only has emotional health benefits; it’s also great for our heart.  You can read more about that in this article.

 

Heartfelt quotes:

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. (Helen Keller)

 

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

 

Despite everything, I believe that people really are good at heart. (Anne Frank)

 

I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark. (Raymond Carver)

 

Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. (Marvin J. Ashton)

 

For Further Reading:

Can you really die of a broken heart?

Sleep and Cardiovascular Disease

Exercise for your Heart Health

 

 

The Dreaded Muffin Top

From Baby Fat to Muffin Tops

Did you ever notice that chubby bellies (and thighs, for that matter) look extremely cute on babies, but not so cute on the rest of us?

I have taken note, however, that many teenage girls and even twenty-something young women appear to be proud of their muffin tops, often flaunting them with low rise jeans and midriff baring tops.

We boomer age women, on the other hand, tend to want to hide that extra belly fat and if we found a genie in a bottle, I’m willing to bet that one of our three wishes would be to make Miss Muffy disappear!

Enter: Body Shapers, Once Known As Girdles
My mom wore a girdle to hide hers; nowadays, the word “girdle” has lost its acceptance in women’s vocabulary. We wear ’em, but now we call the “Spanx.” (??) They even have “man spanx,” but that’s another blog post (one I won’t be writing). 

Image via Wikipedia?

I’ve seen these body shapers in department stores; sorry, but they still look as scary as girdles. Can you breathe in those things? God only knows.

Actually, I did try one on once. It was after my body changed on me, as if some alien had taken it over. I started collecting extra weight in my stomach and back.  So I went to J.C. Penney.  Pulled a spanxy thingy off the rack. Stood in the dressing room and tried to figure out how that little thing was going to “shape” me.

I yanked. I pulled. I held my breath. Somehow, my tummy flab was pulled down to my thighs – still can’t figure out how THAT happened.  Not a good look for me.

What To Do Next?

Plan B: Lose the ab and back flab. Not so easy, I guess, but a healthier alternative to those body shapers. Yea, the muffin top not only looks bad, but it’s also not so good for our health, especially after menopause, when the muffin top officially becomes a “menopot,” as described by Pamela Peeke at WebMD. She also talks about “smart eating,” which helps eliminate that flab around the mid-section.

Too much belly fat can be bad for your heart, and can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure, just to name a few health concerns. The Mayo Clinic article, Belly fat in women: How to keep it off, talks more about how a muffin top affects our health and how to fight back.

Harvard Health Publications also published an informative article titled Abdominal fat and what to do about it, which talks about what researchers have discovered about the connection between body fat distribution and health risks.
Men Have Muffin Tops, Too
Just as an FYI for the men out there:  You may not refer to your extra belly fat as a muffin top, in favor of other endearing terms, such as “beer gut,” but just remember, guys; no matter what you call it, it’s bad for your health, too

Boomer Men, Protect Your Health!

Take Care of Yourself, Guys!

Hey all you male boomers out there! Are you taking care of yourself? Or does your wife or significant other have to push you to go to the doctor for annual physicals? Do you visit the doc for all those age-related tests you should be getting?

You do want to hang around with your wife for a looonnnnggg time, don’t ya?  Navigating through old age is more fun if you’ve got someone to face it with you. And just remember, before you know it, you’ll be able to turn down your hearing aid so you can’t hear her nag you!

Being Pro-Active 

I’m a big believer in a pro-active approach to health and wellness.  If you take the same stance, you may want to check out the Men’s Health section of the Mayo Clinic website. 

The Mayo Clinic Staff can help you prevent your 7 top health threats; number 1 being heart disease.

There are also a lot of other articles relating to men’s health topics, such as:

You can also sign up for the Mayo Clinic Health Manager, an online tool you can use to organize your health information, as well as your family’s.  You can also get health advice from Mayo Clinic experts through this health manager. (By the way, the health manager maintains a high level of security features to protect your information)
Take it from me, guys; we women really like having you around.  If it wasn’t for you, how would the snow get shoveled, or the lawn get cut? My car would never get an oil change if my hubby wasn’t around, or for that matter, a car wash! (I have an irrational fear of automated car washes)
So please, take care of your health. We’re counting on you.

February: American Heart Month

February, as you may already know, is American Heart Month.
You are probably also aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death, and a primary cause of disabilty.  My mom suffered from heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Like her, I have high cholesterol levels, which I control through diet, exercise, and medication.  Her life was diminished by heart disease – I don’t want to have the same fate, so I work to avoid it.  

All of us can reduce our risk of heart disease by taking charge of our health and making simple changes in our diet and lifestyle. 

To celebrate heart health, I’d like to share some links with you:

With all the heart health information available at our fingertips nowadays, there’s simply no excuse for not taking care of that most important muscle in our bodies!  Let’s keep our hearts beating strong and healthy!

Please, don’t forget that February 4th is Wear Red Day,” to raise awareness about women’s heart disease. You can help fight this number one killer of women in America by making a donation at Go Red for Women

Kristin Chenoweth (holding her dog, Madeline K...Image via Wikipedia
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Beware the Dreaded Sitting Disease!

Okay, fellow Americans, listen up! We. are. in. big. Trouble with a capitol T. 

Dr. Oz says so, and he’s Oprah’s bud, has a television show and a website and take a look at his credentials, will ya? Not to mention, he’s one fine looking man. 

So, what’s the word from Dr. O?  Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are in the throes of a “sitting epidemic.” 
Simply this:  We sit too darn much.  We sit at work.  We sit in the car (well, I guess we don’t have much choice there, do we?) After sitting most of the day at work, we come home and sit in front of the computer screen or the television.

And I’ve also noticed that some of us have an interesting habit of sitting in our garages, watching the world go by.  My neighbors actually have a living room set in their garage! What’s up with that?

Anyhoo, all this sitting is just not good for us. At all.  For one thing, it slows down your metabolism and decreases your circulation, though this article from the Cleveland.com website also points out that more research is needed – let’s hope the researchers are standing up while they delve into this subject!

Other experts have even stronger words about this sitting epidemic, claiming that it’s deadly because it leads to obesity and heart attacks.

If you recognize symptoms of this disease in yourself (like, is there a big dent in your family room couch?) here’s what you can do:

First, push yourself up to a squat position.

Second, keep lifting your butt up from the couch or chair until you’re in a standing position. 

Just  Get Up and Do Something!  Your butt, and the rest of your body, will thank you. 

To quote that disco era Bee Gee’s tune, “Whatcha doin’ on your butt? You should be dancing, yeah!” (Okay, I took some liberties with those lyrics – according to the internet, it’s your back, not your butt. I think butt makes more sense)

BTW, Have you taken a look at John Travolta since he’s quit disco dancing? 

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Bea’s Website Recommendation for June

Two words describe the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website: Comprehensive and credible.

Just take a look at the CDC’s “Healthy Living” page, for example. 
 
This page is divided by:

  • Topics
  • Staying Healthy
  • Healthy Life Stages
  • Related Topics

Topics range from Aging to Genetics and Genomics to Sleep and Sleep Disorders to Water. Click on the “Water” link and you’ll be taken to CDC’s Healthy Water page, which in turn, has eight pages of healthy water topics. These include “drinking water,” “water-related hygiene,” even “water-related data and statistics.”

Staying Healthy includes links to Child Development, Healthy Weight, Healthy Joints, and the WISEWOMAN program (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation). http://www.cdc.gov/wisewoman/ These are just a few of the options.

Healthy Life Stages addresses Youth and Adolescent Health, Women, Men, Pregnancy, Aging, and finally, Health in all Life Stages.

Related Topics looks at Environmental Health, Global Health, Minority Health, and more.

You can learn about Campaigns and Programs. For example, the CDC’s Healthy Communities Program strives to promote healthy changes in communities across the U.S.  Currently, over 240 communities across the nation are participating in this program and in the next few years, 170 additional communities will be added. You can get an overview of the Healthy Communities Program here. The CDC is taking action to help us take charge of our health and prevent chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and more.
 
The topics and resources I’ve mentioned are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the CDC website. Just check out its homepage!
 

June is Home Safety Month. Check out the CDC’s Home Safety Month toolkit

Look for Bea’s Health and Wellness website or blog recommendation every 1st and 3rd Sunday, beginning in July. 

  • July 4th
  • July 18th

Got any health and wellness sites or blogs that you think are worth reading?  Drop me a line at my contact email address and let me know!  If I feature your recommendation on my blog, you’ll win a $10 Target gift card.  Who doesn’t love Target?

Happy reading, everyone. 

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Ladies, Do You Snore?

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Healthy Living for Women, snoring may affect your heart’s health. So if you snore regularly, you may want to talk to your doc. 

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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