10 Ways to Love Your Heart

 

Watercolor picture with bright red heart on blue background

  • Snack on almonds (1 ½ ounces every day can help lower bad cholesterol)
  • Enjoy fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C and your heart will be rewarded with a potent antioxidant.
  • Sweat it up!  Strenuous exercise a couple times a week is heart-healthy.
  • Don’t forget vitamin D – research shows that vitamin D deficiency may lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Cuddle with your significant other or your furry friend. This helps lower stress levels and blood pressure.
  • Floss your teeth – good for your gums, and may help protect against heart disease.
  • Let go of anger and resentment – this reduces stress and blood pressure, and can help lower your heart rate.
  • Find a reason to have a good belly laugh.  At least one daily.  Laughing not only reduces stress and tension, it improves blood flow (reducing blood pressure). It may also boost good cholesterol levels.
  • Fill up with fiber (afraid of tootin’? Find some tips to help avoid gaseous emissions at the Everyday Health site
  • Try some yoga poses for a healthy heart.

Sources:

Narula, T., M.D. Have a Heart Healthy Day. Oprah magazine. February 2014.

Westen, R. Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy. AARP magazine. October/November 2015.

Easy Ways to Protect your Bones (No Cow’s Milk Needed)

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 66 – 6/15/15

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1. At breakfast, eat calcium and vitamin D fortified bread and cereals, along with fortified orange juice.  Top your cereal with almond, rice, or soy milk.  Silk almond milk comes in a nice variety of flavors and offers more calcium than cow’s milk. 

2. Don’t forget your greens! Dark greens, such as broccoli, kale, collard greens and bok choy are all good food options to boost your calcium levels.  

3.   Love fish?  Try salmon for a calcium boost.  A mere 3 ounces of salmon provides 181 milligrams of calcium.* (The recommended daily allowance is 1000 milligrams of calcium each day, along with 600 IUs of vitamin D for those of us over 50) 

4.  Nuts, especially almonds, brazil nuts and peanuts.  Nuts rank high in other nutrients as well.  

5. Don’t forget to move that body!  Walk, climb stairs, lift weights – We need 30 minutes of some type of weight-bearing exercise at least five days every week to keep those bones strong.  Regular physical activity helps us in too many ways to count.  

Calcium Thieves to Avoid: 

  • Cola products – The phosphoric acid may prevent proper calcium absorption.* 
  • Processed, canned and fast foods, as well as other salt laden foods.

Source: 

*AARP, the Magazine. March 2015. Boost Your Bone Health in Your 50s

For further reading:

Exercise for your Bone Health 

The Importance of Calcium – How to get Enough without Dairy 

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

9 Snacks for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 47 – 4/20/15

  • Sunflower seeds – contain folate, a B vitamin we need to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. They also contain tryptophan, which is good for stress management.
  • Almonds – contain monounsaturated fats and fiber and help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Blueberries – contain high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin. May help relieve stress and even enhance our memory banks. 
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt – Add blueberries to plain yogurt (I add a little honey for sweetness) and you’ll get the goodness of berries, along with the digestive health benefits of yogurt. 
  • Light string cheese (made with 2% milk) – The Sargento brand has 50 calories in each piece. String cheese provides a nice amount of calcium and protein.  For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, pair with with a piece of fruit or whole grain crackers.
  • Beanitos – The original is made with black beans, and are great with salsa.  They’re high in fiber and protein and contain no sugar. The other varieties and more information about beanitos can be found here
  • Edamame – Looking for something different?  Edamame (Japanese soy bean) is high in fiber and protein, low in calories and fat.  It’s a great source of calcium, iron and protein
  • Garden Lite muffins –  Found in the frozen section, they come in a variety of flavors, such as zucchini chocolate, banana chocolate chip, and blueberry oat.  Made with veggies and fruits.  Tasty, low-calorie, good source of fiber and gluten-free.  
  • Kind Healthy Grain Bars – contain a variety of healthy grains,(quinoa, oats, buckwheat) good source of fiber.  Awesome variety of flavors, including Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Blueberry, and more. 

7 Mini Health Habits

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 44 – 4/13/15 

Woman lying in bed sleeping

Get a good sleep to enhance your memory banks and other brain functions.

Woman relaxing on a sofa

Want to enhance your sleep? Turn off the television or computer before bedtime and relax with soothing music or meditation CDs. 

Eat a handful of almonds a day to help reduce your cholesterol.  

Senior Woman With Adult Daughter Relaxing On Sofa At Home

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not, but laughter is a great prescription for emotional and physical health.  

Wear sunscreen to avoid looking like an alligator purse as you age and to protect yourself from skin cancer.

Senior Woman Power Walking In The Park

Find time to take a daily walk. Too cold or rainy or hot to walk outside? Try a fitness walk in front of your television.  Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day is good for your heart, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Drink green tea for a great anti-oxidant boost. This beverage helps protect our cardiovascular and immune systems. Green tea may even help protect us against several types of cancers. 

How about you, readers?  What actions do you take to enhance your health and wellness? 

7 Mini Heart Healthy Eating Swaps

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 42 – 4/8/15

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  • Enjoying a bowl of tomato soup?  Add black beans for added fiber.
  • For a tasty salad, skip the iceberg lettuce and use a colorful blend of greens – add chickpeas and a variety of veggies.  You can also use the chickpeas to make hummus.  Enjoy it with baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery, zucchini sticks, red or   orange peppers . . . 
  • Love crusty bread? Instead of buttering it, blend olive oil with dried Italian seasoning and minced garlic (or garlic powder) and dip your bread in this mixture. 
  • For a heart-healthy breakfast, try regular or steel-cut oatmeal instead of the instant options.  Add blueberries (or other types of berries), walnuts or almonds, apples with  a tablespoonful of honey. Top with soymilk.  
  • When eating out, choose broiled salmon, lake trout, or whitefish instead of a steak.  The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish can help us reduce heart attacks and other heart conditions. 
  • For a quick snack, choose a handful of almonds to help lower your cholesterol levels.  
  • To healthify your tacos, skip the ground beef.  Try a soft taco made with whole grain tortillas, ground turkey, brown rice, and seasoned black beans.  Top with avocado slices.

Bea would love to hear about your own heart-healthy food swap ideas.  Drop me a line!

For further reading:

Heart Disease and Young Women

Quick heart-healthy meal recipes

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

How to Fight Belly Fat

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 27 – 3/4/15

Want to fight that muffin top?  While some excess weight around the abdoment may not be dangerous, visceral (or deep) fat surrounds our internal organs and causes a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes.  Other dangers of visceral fat include heart disease and stroke.  

And here’s a surprising fact from WebMD:  even thin people can have deep fat deposits, particularly if they don’t get enough exercise.*

How to fight back:

  • Eat high fiber foodsNatural sources of fiber include:  apples with the skin, pears with the skin, black beans (and of course, other varieties as well), popcorn, barley, whole wheat bread, etc.  (Just be sure to add fiber to your diet gradually and drink plenty of water to go with it).  
  • Avoid processed and “white foods,” along with bad fats.  
  • Get that cardio exercise – Start a moderate aerobic workout plan, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 or more days each week.  If you’re already active, or want faster results, jog or do other types of vigorous exercises.  
  • Strength train – Experts point out that aerobic exercise is not enough to fight belly fat.   Strength training helps build muscle, and that can boost your metabolism and help you burn off more fat.  
  • Find ways to get a good night’s sleep – Lack of sleep has been linked to abdominal fat gain
  • Finally, learn to manage stress. Studies have shown that uncontrolled stress can also lead to additional belly fat, along with 
  • Studies have shown that high levels of uncontrolled stress can also lead to more belly fat as well as a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

This slideshow from Everyday Health talks about ways that menopausal women can fight belly fat.

For Further Reading: 

Is there “One Trick” to Losing Belly Fat? (Sorry, but the answer is “No”)

The Truth about Belly Fat

How and Why To Lose Belly Fat

Source:

* Collins, S. The Truth About Belly Fat. WebMD. Reviewed March 20, 2014

A Few of Bea’s Favorite Posts

 

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Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 26 – 3/2/15

Bea’s daughter was in town this week-end, and they needed some “girl time,” shopping and lunching at the mall.  Which meant that writing a post for today’s wellness project fell by the wayside. 

Instead, Bea is sharing a few of her old favorite posts and hopes you enjoy them!

10 Minute Energy Boosts

Can You Hear Me Now?

Ladies, You’ve Got to Have Friends!

 

 

 

 

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.