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? 

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 Minimalist Guide to Eating Healthier

Eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated. Nowadays, supermarket shelves are filled with nutritious foods for meals and snacks. We just have to ignore those shelves of donuts, candies, cookies, and all those overly processed foods that wreak havoc on our bodies as well as our minds.

If you’ve made up your mind to eat more nutritiously, here are some easy ways to do it:

In the produce department, opt for brightly-colored fruits and vegetables.

  • Dark green and red salad greens. Skip iceberg lettuce. Instead choose nutrient-filled options: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, romaine, red or green leaf lettuce, bibb or Boston lettuce. To add fiber to your salad, add celery, cabbage, cauliflower, and green pepper.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts – They are “super vegetables,” according to this WebMD article. These veggies contain phytochemicals, nutrients, and fiber, all very important for our daily diets.
  • Citrus fruits: Oranges, tangerines, clementines, lemons, limes – for vitamin C.
  • Berries of all kinds for their anti-oxidant powers. Apples because they’re crunchy and good with peanut butter. Bananas to top your cereal.
  • More must-have veggies: tomatoes (contain lycopene for fighting cancer) – carrots (containing vitamin A and C) – bell peppers (contain lycopene and folic acid)
  • Sweet potatoes – contain great cancer-fighting nutrients, high in fiber and iron)

You get the picture. Fill up that cart with fruit and veggies and your body will thank you.

While fresh fruits and vegetables are the best choice, frozen produce is a good second choice. They are usually frozen right after they ripen and are harvested, so their nutrients remain intact.

Fiber is fundamental! We need 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Fiber keeps us feeling fuller between meals, helps with weight management and can lower our risk of heart disease and cancer. Eating more veggies and fruits will help provide our dietary fiber. Other options include:

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals. Brown rice. Beans of all kinds. Whole-grain pastas. Read more about the benefit of a high-fiber diet here.
  • Tips for buying breads from WebMD (Avoid bread “myths”)

In the meat department, be a savvy shopper – think lean.

  • Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets. For any chicken cuts you buy, choose the skinless variety.
  • Ground turkey, extra lean ground beef (90% + lean).
  • Look for the word “loin” in pork products (pork tenderloin, etc.).
  • Leanest beef: round steak, round roasts, top sirloin, chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
  • Fatty fish such as trout, tuna, salmon and mackerel.

Choose good snacks.

  • Nuts of all kinds (not salted and dry-roasted)
  • Instead of buying packaged cookies, make your own and look for recipes that use whole wheat flour, oatmeal, fat substitutes and less sugar)
  • “Light” string cheese – low-fat cottage cheese in single serve packages –
  • Plain Greek non-fat yogurt (add your own fruit and some honey to sweeten it up a tad)
  • Frozen fruit bars – Dole has a good variety, around 70 calories each (with some added sugar)
  • Moderate amounts of dark chocolate – try strawberries dipped in melted dark chocolate
  • Kind bars – filled with nutritious ingredients and taste great  Check ’em out at the Kind Website.
  • Find a list of fat-fighting snacks in this article from Health.com.

Miscellaneous:

Use monounsaturated oils for cooking and salad dressings: canola, olive, or peanut oil

Drink more water and unsweetened iced tea rather than sugary drinks

Add ground flax seed to your oatmeal and fruit smoothies

Eat protein with breakfast – egg, turkey sausage or turkey bacon, etc.

For further reading:

Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits

Great Guidelines for Eating Healthier

How to make wise protein choices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous tips:

Eat the right fats – choose monounsaturated (canola, peanut, olive oil)

Drink water and unsweetened iced tea instead of sugary drinks.

 

For Your Health: The "EatRightGetActive" Website

Need a motivator to get you started on the road to good health and to avoid cancer and other diseases?

You may want to check out the American Cancer Society’s new website, EatRightGetActive.

On this new site, the ACS points out that for people who don’t smoke, making a commitment to simple lifestyle changes can often lessen our risk for diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
EatRightGetActive challenges you to make these simple changes, and keeps you motivated by helping you:

  • Set goals for healthy activities, healthy eating and a healthy weight.
  • Track your eating habits, fitness activities, and weight loss with an online journals.

Finally, the site provides tips and resources to help you reach and maintain your goals.

Once you sign up for this challenge (for free, of course), you set some goals for yourself.

Your dashboard contains your activity, based on the goals you choose.

For example, I have a nutrition tracker, based on eating 5 servings of fruit/veggies a day and 3 servings of whole grains. The food journal keeps me in touch with just what I’m putting into my stomach (and keeps me from eating that Snickers bar at around 3 p.m. during the week, in favor of other healthier snacks I now keep at my desk!) The journal also keys me in to emotional eating.

I also an activity tracker, based on a 60 minute a day exercise goal. I recently read about the study that shows if a middle-aged woman (well, I’m actually over “middle-aged,” unless I’m able to live until I’m 106) wants to simply maintain her weight, she needs to get 60 minutes of exercise a day, 7 days a week!

Apparently, middle-aged men don’t need any exercise.  Of course, they don’t seem to even worry about their weight.  When was the last time your hubby asked you a silly question like: “Do these pants make me look fat?”
To be honest, I know the 60 minutes a day won’t be easy. I may have to convince my lazy butt to get out of bed a teensy bit earlier that 7:16 a.m. (I leave the house at 8 a.m.) so I can fit some fitness into my morning (oh sure, like that will happen). 
 
Now where was I?  Oh yea, the EatRightGetActive dashboard.  It also charts your progress for the week you’re in and provides a BMI calculator, based on your weight and height.  
 
There are also Goal and Report pages. Both of these pages help you chart your progress, based on the goals you’ve chosen. 
 
Find exercise boring? The “Move” Page describes how to “fit fun into fitness.” It provides links to fitness tips, such as how to stay motivated and how to incorporate fitness into your family activities.

The Nourish page talks about healthy diets, keeping a food journal, a shopping list for healthy ingredients for your meals, etc.

The site also includes a Discussion page, but since EatRightGetActive has only been recently introduced, the discussions are minimal. Hopefully that will change as time goes on.

Some people may be turned off by EatRightGetActive’s simplicity. If you’re the type of person who enjoys a lot of “bells and whistles” on a website, you may want to look somewhere else.  As for me, I like being able to maneuver my way around easily and track my goals and progress in a clear-cut fashion.  The less time I spend sitting at my PC, the more time I have to fit in those 60 minutes of exercise! 
 
Speaking of that, it’s time for some fitness.  This “middle-aged” body ain’t getting any younger, you know.

Why Quit?

My friend Karen, who writes the blog “Fitnesss, A Journey, Not A Destination,” wrote a very moving post about both her Dad’s and her brother’s battles with lung cancer due to smoking. Her dad suffered and died from this horrendous disease many years ago, and her brother was diagnosed last October, at the age of 49.  Reading about his suffering and physical deterioration brought me to tears. 

Please, take the time to read Karen’s post.  If you smoke it just may convince you to give quitting another try. If someone you love smokes, passing this post along may just give them the push they need to quit. 

Thank you.

Further reading:

It’s a Great Time to Quit Smoking!

It’s common knowledge that smoking causes many types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease. Then there’s the form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) known as emphysema, which is defined “by destruction of the lungs over time.” 

Self-destruction of the lungs, due to smoking.

A high school friend of mine told me her mom suffered from emphysema, due to a long-time smoking habit. Her family watched her suffocate to death.

Of course, you don’t hear the tobacco companies complaining about our smoking habits. When the government initiated the “single largest cigarette tax hike,” in early 2009, the cigarette companies were “forced” to raise their prices. God forbid they should lose any profits while smokers suffer horrendously and die, on average, seven years earlier than non-smokers. In fact, one in five deaths in the U.S. are caused by tobacco, or over 400,000 deaths each year.
Not to mention second-hand smoke, which cause breathing and other problems in children and other non-smokers.

 
In Michigan, where I live, a carton of cigarettes can cost up to $60. If you smoke a carton a week, it’s going to cost you around $3,000 a year for those smokes. Just think about what you could do with $3,000:
 

  • Take a family vacation or go on a second honeymoon with your spouse.  
  • Buy a new PC or laptop, with money left over for software. Or what the heck, try one of those Ipads. 
  • Buy the latest technologically advanced television, and a darn good cable package to go with it.
  • Join a fitness club, to lose the weight you might gain after you quit smoking.
  •  Remodel a room in your house, or redecorate!
  • Save for your kids’ college education.
  • Women:  Buy your hubby or significant other an expensive watch or set of golf clubs.
  • Men: Buy your wife or significant other some mighty fine jewelry. (OMG, He went to Jared™!)

Some resources to quit smoking:

This site describes and provides a brief comparison of some smoking cessation medications.

Another good resource is the American Cancer Society, which provides a guide to quitting smoking here.

Or just talk to your doctor. 

Keep our kids from starting the tobacco habit at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Further reading:

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Tribute to a Friend – Let’s Fight Cancer!

Just before Christmas of 2009, an old friend of mine, Susan Gregory-Minor, whom I had lost touch with over the years, died of lung cancer. She suffered for seven months with this invasive disease. Sue would have been 52 today, February 2nd.

Susan lived in Florida and had a career with the federal government. She was married and had two beautiful daughters.  Her husband and daughters shouldn’t have had to lose their wife and mother at such an early age.

She was one of the “good ones.” One of those people that may not be in your life currently, but will always be a part of you.  Susan was a true friend to me when we both worked at TACOM in Warren, Michigan during the 1980’s. We partied together, laughed together, and shared confidences with each other.
 
She was always fun to be with and a genuinely caring person. And by the posts I’ve read on Facebook by her loved ones, co-workers and other friends, I know she’ll be missed for a long time.
 
Susan is just one of three people I’ve known that have died of cancer in the past several months.
 
I’m sure that most of you know someone who is fighting cancer, or who has lost their battle to cancer, or who has beaten it down and crushed it like the piece of crap that it is. (Hey Janis Puskar, that one’s for you)

Let’s join the fight against cancer by donating, volunteering or becoming an advocate for change.

The American Cancer Society also sponsors the Great American Health Challenge, providing ideas for you to get active, eat right, and if you’re a smoker, quit smoking
The Cancer Project’s goal is to provide a better understanding about what causes cancer in order to promote cancer prevention.

The Cancer Project provides links to:

  • Diet and cancer research
  • For Kids (parents can order a free booklet called Nutrition for your Kids; A Dietary Approach to Cancer Prevention)
  • Ask the Experts – Doctors and dietitians answer people’s questions

Web MD talks about the top cancer fighting foods at their Cancer Health Center.

The Cancer Health Center provides “Hot Topics” links, videos about cancer topics and information about treatments, coping strategies, and more.
 
Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong urges cancer fighters and survivors to  “Live Strong,” and it provides the resources to help people do just that.
 
We need to fight this disease, in the memory of friends and loved ones who have suffered and died and in thanksgiving for those who have managed to survive.