Five Fats that Won't Make you Fat

With all the fad diets and studies, it can be confusing on what to eat, what to avoid and what to stock in your pantry.  But what is 100% fact, is that fats play an important role in a healthy diet and are needed for many of our bodies processes. In order to burn unhealthy fat, we must eat healthy fats. Discover five incredible dietary fats that are nutrient rich and great for your waist line too!

Read More

Six Simple Steps to Age Healthfully

Image People have a wide variety of wish lists for improving their health, but we all share one goal: Everyone wants to age well.

Of course, aging is somewhat unfair, because a few lucky people will breeze easily through eight or nine decades without even trying — due to their good genes — while the rest of us have to put in some effort just to get that far.

But not necessarily a lot of effort. Aging well — or, at least, aging better — doesn’t have to be that hard. After talking to many aging experts and looking at the latest findings on aging from around the world, it’s clear that people can improve the way they will age.

To start with, you need to know what makes you age, and that means you have to pay attention to what happens inside your cells, where aging begins. Scientists are finding that most of the cellular processes that cause the body to gradually decline with age are affected by diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress and other outside influences.

For example, the food you eat influences the production of harmful free radicals during metabolism. These are unstable, unpaired electrons that cause tremendous damage as they flail around inside your cells. Although research on this subject is far from complete, damage from free radicals (called oxidative stress) is widely considered one of many factors that cause cells to age and malfunction in various ways.

Scientists have also discovered the role of telomeres in aging (See “Field of Inquiry” on Page E4.) These are caps on the ends of strands of DNA that protect a cell’s genetic material when it divides. But they get a little shorter with each division, and once they get too short, a cell can no longer function normally. Older people have shorter telomeres, but so do people with high stress and poor sleep habits.

So, your lifestyle can affect the microscopic processes going on in your cells day in and day out. But scientists are also finding that even small amounts of healthful behavior can retard these processes so that you age more slowly.

To eat more healthfully, for example, “one bite is better than none,” explained Bahram Arjmandi, chair of the department of nutrition, food and exercise sciences at Florida State University, who has extensively studied the anti-aging properties of numerous foods. His research has documented notable benefits from daily consumption of apples (cholesterol), prunes (bone density) and watermelon (blood pressure).

But you have to keep it up. It’s a little like keeping your house clean: Better to pick up a little bit each day than to let it go for weeks and have to tackle a huge mess all at once.

So the message from science is that you don’t have to go all out with a major new fitness regime or diet to make a difference in how long you’ll live or how healthy you’ll be.

Knowing that even a little effort can have a big impact, here are six simple things you can do to improve your odds of healthy aging:

1) Bake, don’t broil: Foods cooked with high heat develop toxic compounds called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, that accelerate aging. AGEs generate huge numbers of free radicals that build up in your blood and tissue, activating the immune system and causing chronic inflammation. And they contribute to hardening of the arteries, stiff joints, wrinkles and more, according to Helen Vlassara, director of the Diabetes and Aging Division at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Vlassara has studied AGEs for more than 30 years and published numerous peer-reviewed studies linking them to chronic health conditions and symptoms of aging.

AGEs are found in high quantities in processed foods such as American cheese, fast food and dark colas, in part because they are manufactured using high heat. Try substituting alternatives such as low-fat cheese, dried fruit, fruit juice and air-popped popcorn. Also, cook your food at lower temperatures: A fried egg has 10 times the AGEs of a scrambled egg, for example, and a steak has 10 times more AGEs than beef stew.

2) Skip a meal: Scientists have long been seduced by studies that have shown a rodent’s life can be dramatically extended by cutting its food consumption by about 30 percent. Major studies on monkeys have not shown an increase in longevity by severely cutting calories, but other research, such as a study published in the Journal Nature in August, has demonstrated that adopting a low-calorie diet does improve the health of aging primates.

Of course, living this way is not fun. But what if many of the same benefits can be achieved by simply limiting food intake intermittently — for several hours a day, perhaps, or for a couple of days in a row? Experts on aging have found that short periods with little or no food appear to initiate protective mechanisms inside cells that “have the potential to reduce the risk for age-related diseases,” said Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging and an expert on fasting. Mattson’s review of intermittent fasting in the journal Cell Metabolism this month details various positive effects on brain health, for example.

Scientists have not come up with a single fasting protocol that would work for everyone; studies have used a variety of methods, such as limiting intake to 600 calories a day, two days a week. But other studies, including one published in Cell Metabolism in May, suggest that skipping the occasional meal or restricting the hours for eating may do your cells a lot of good. Check with a doctor, though, before you give this a try.

3) Take 10: It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to dramatically improve the way you age. Even moderate exercise helps neutralize free radicals, boost your immune system and even grow new brain cells. A study last monthin the online journal PLoS Medicine looked at data on 650,000 adults (including some who were obese) and found that walking just 15 minutes a day was associated with living two years longer. Looking at normal-weight individuals only, the data showed that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week was associated with an increase in life span of more than seven years.

“When people talk about physical activity, they always think about jogging or, you know, doing intense physical activity,” said Luigi Ferrucci, scientific director of the National Institute on Aging. “But you don’t gain by jogging as much as you gain by going from being a couch potato to just walking 10 minutes per day. That is a huge difference.”

4) Sleep seven: While scientists still don’t understand what happens in our bodies when we sleep, studies are piling up that show how harmful it is not to get enough sleep. “People who are sleeping less than six hours a night are at risk for more cardiovascular events, more likely to develop diabetes, more likely to die sooner,” explained Aric Prather, a research psychologist at the University of California at San Francisco.

But the picture is very different for people who get seven hours of sleep or more: They have better immune systems, less stress and lower body weight, among other benefits. For example, a study of twins published in May in the journal Sleep found that a twin who slept less than seven hours a night was more likely to have a higher BMI than his or her sibling who slept more, as a result of both environment and genetically inherited factors. Prather said sleep studies have consistently shown that for most people, getting seven to eight hours will make a big difference to your health.

5) Stress less: Stress ages you, and shorter telomeres is only one reason why. Scientists have found that how people deal with their stress is key. People who handle stress well do more of the things that non-stressed people do: eat well, sleep enough and, especially, exercise. And these people tend to have longer telomeres than stressed people who do not, explained Aiofe O’Donovan, a research psychologist at UCSF.

Of course, stress can make you feel less motivated to do health-promoting things, so you can try techniques to divert yourself from feeling stressed, such as practicing mindfulness meditation, whichhas been linked to greater activity of the enzyme that controls and protects telomere length.

An MRI-based study from 2010 showed that after an eight-week meditation program, the density of gray matter had increased in regions of the brain that control, among other things, emotion regulation and perspective. Growth of new tissue and connections in the brain make that area more powerful and more efficient. It’s akin to building up a muscle, only in this case it’s a muscle for stress control. Neuropsychologists say that even while sitting at your deskyou can push back against stress by regularly taking a few long, deep, slow breaths and by picturing yourself out in nature, paying close attention to how it would smell and feel.

6) Have a hobby: What could collecting or crafting have to do with aging? A lot, it turns out. Researchers have studied the link between better health and a person’s participation in an outside interest or activity. A study in Japan of almost 2,000 people ages 65 to 84 found that, compared with people who did not have hobbies, those who participated in a hobby had a significantly lower mortality and a lower likelihood of becoming bedridden during the period studied.

And a small 2010 study from Serbia found that having a hobby was linked to a lower risk of hypertension in female emergency room doctors, perhaps because it helped release tension and therefore helped prevent harmful behaviors such as smoking and drinking. Other studies have linked hobbies to keeping your brain active and providing a social connection with others, which tends to make you happier — another factor linked to greater health and longevity.

Philately, anyone?

___________________________________________________________

Originally printed in Health & Science, December 11, 2012; Washington Post. Pressler is the author of the recently released book “Cheat the Clock,” from which this is adapted.

11 Ways to Increase Energy

It usually happens in the winter months, but there are times when everyone finds that they are in a slump.  Need some quick energy? Take a look at these 11 ways to naturally increase energy!

1. Tap Your Thymus

"Your thymus is located at center top of your chest, below the collar bone, between your breasts. When tapped it triggers the production of T-cells, boosts energy, relieves stress, and increases strength and vitality," says Marian Buck-Murray, a nutrition coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner in Maplewood, New Jersey.

For an instant boost of energy, Buck-Murray recommends tapping your thymus with your fingertips for 20 seconds, while slowly and deeply breathing in and out.

2. Get Some Sun

It's not surprising you feel tired when you're stuck inside a cold or stuffy office with fluorescent lighting. Sneak outside to soak up some sunshine for 15 to 20 minutes.

"Sunlight energizes and elevates mood," says Dr. Lorraine Maita, a board certified internist and author of Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier in Short Hills, New Jersey.

3. Sip Some Green Tea

If coffee is your go-to solution for the afternoon slump, try swapping out your cup of Joe for green tea. "Green tea has small amounts of caffeine, and there are many noted studies that demonstrate that EGCG, the active compound in green tea, facilitates weight loss," says Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, who specializes in integrative medicine in Miami Beach, Florida.

4. Stand Up

Are you reading this slumped over your computer, feeling tired at the moment? Perk up by standing up, says Moshe Lewis M.D., chief of the department of physical medicine and rehab at the California Pacific Medical Center, St. Luke's Campus, in Redwood City, California.

"Never sit too long. Vessels have a natural tendency to constrict during periods of inactivity, zapping you of energy and making you feel tired -- even if you are not sleep deprived."

Standing up and walking around even just for a few minutes is enough to jump start your heart and muscles. Plus, it can help you be more productive once you sit down at your desk again, Dr. Lewis says.

5. Give Your Brain A Mini-Vacation

Next time you're fighting off the urge to doze off at your desk, try blinking more often, suggests Dr. Douglas N. Graham, author of The 80/10/10 Diet. "When reading, watching television, viewing the computer, or otherwise engaged, blink 10 to 20 times per minute, rather than staring at the screen or page without blinking at all. Your brain takes a mini-vacation with each blink."

6. Drink A Green Monster

Think you can't live without your morning coffee? Trade it for this nutrient-packed drink once and you'll change your mind. "I usually have [this] for breakfast and then don't need to have coffee," says Joanna Chodorowska, a nutrition and triathlon coach in North Whales, Pennsylvania.

Here's how to make it: In a juicer, combine 2-4 leaves of kale, 2-4 leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 inch ginger root, half a lemon (with the seeds removed), one apple (cored), and a clove of garlic (optional for cleansing and boosting immune system).

Chodorowska says you can use this as a base and add other dark greens, carrots, celery, beets, or even an orange or pear instead of the apple to make your own signature energy drink.

Don't have a juicer? This creamy blend is just as effective at boosting energy (and tastes like an indulgent dessert!) and only requires a blender.

7. Socialize With High-Energy Friends

Surround yourself with people who help motivate and uplift you to revitalize your body and mind. "Associate with high-energy friends. Their energy and enthusiasm will soon enough rub off on you," Dr. Graham says.

8. Breathe Deeply

"Learning how to inhale completely and how to exhale completely is one of the best energizers," says Dr. Laurel Clark, president of the School of Metaphysics in Windyville, Missouri.

Next time you need a quick pick-me-up, try this simple exercise from Dr. Clark: Sit with your spine straight, eyes closed. Focus your attention on your breath, and slowly inhale to a count of 6. Hold your breath to a count of 3 and tense all of the muscles in your body. Exhale for a count of 6, completely releasing all of the breath, relaxing the muscles as you do so. Hold the breath out to a count of 3. Repeat this slow rhythmic count--inhaling, hold and tense, exhaling and relax, hold the breath out.

"After a while, you can cease tensing and relaxing the muscles and just focus on the slow rhythmic breath," Dr. Clark says.

9. Sit Up Straight

"Shifting your posture can immediately give you more energy," says Dana Davis, a certified yoga teacher and Balance Posture Method instructor at Sonoma Body Balance, in Petaluma, California. We typically sit or stand with our shoulders, neck, and head shifted forward, which can affect the arteries that bring blood to our brain, Davis says.

"When [the arteries] are bent out of shape, that can restrict the blood flow to the brain. Our misaligned posture also wastes a lot of energy, as the muscles have to take over work that the bones would normally do in a healthy person."

Davis recommends a healthy, naturally aligned posture to help reduce long-term fatigue and stress. For help finding the most energizing posture.

10. Eat An Apple

It's tempting to turn to sugar (Um, yea!) when your energy dips, but eating high-sugar foods will make your fatigue worse in the long run. Make a habit of keeping apples on hand--at home and at work.

"A simple apple is a great energy-boosting, mid-afternoon snack. Full of vitamin C, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, an apple can deliver a boost of energy and stabilize blood sugar," says Peggy Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist and author of Must Have Been Something I Ate.

What's more, new research from Florida State University says apple antioxidants and pectin (the sticky part of fruit used to make all-fruit jams and jellies) can help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol (think L is for lousy) and fight inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging and disease.

11. Drink Some Water

"The most common cause of fatigue is dehydration," Kotsopoulos says. Why? "If there is not enough fluid in your body, blood volume can drop; as a result, your body (and heart) must work harder in order to supply your cells with oxygen and nutrients."

Dehydration can cause everything from mental fogginess, impaired short-term memory, dizziness, and fatigue, she says. Be sure to hydrate all day long but especially when you start to feel fatigue coming on to help combat low energy.

 

*adapted from Shape.com and Huffington Post

The Eating Deadline

I've stopped eating after 7pm.  Then, I stopped eating carbs at 7pm.  I've tried only eating fruit in the evenings, as an evening snack. I've read that eating any less than 3 hours from bedtime creates belly bulge, eating before you go to sleep permits the food to just sit in your stomach when your metobolic rate is null, but also read that eating healthy food before bed helps you body to absorb the vitamins and minerals from the food, allowing it to repair itself. Which is right? Logically, a calorie equals a calorie, no matter what time of day, right? Most testing up to this date had been done on animals, and found that a calorie in is indeed a calorie, no matter what time of day or night one consumes the food. However, a recent study on men and women found that eating late does in fact have an impact on ones waistline and body mass index number.  Most participants were also lacking sleep, which is another contributer to weight gain, but scientists determined that one shouldn't eat past a certain hour and there is an eating dealine: 8pm.

Think there will be a run in restaurant reservations for 6pm? Enjoy your weekend... eat early!