Ann Blanton Let's talk health, fitness, nutrition and everything in between

Archive for January 2013

Peaches

This is my dog, Peaches. Isn’t she adorable?

Proper nutrition is just as important for our four-legged friends as it is for humans.

To barf or not to barf

by Ann Blanton

Do you and Fido spend hours at the vet for allergies, dry itchy skin, hot spots, dental problems and a host of other diseases? If so, have you considered switching your cherished companion to an all-natural food plan? It may sound difficult, but after you read this blog post, you’ll have all the information you need to put your pet on the road to good health and nutrition.

Maybe you’re one of the millions of people who currently practice good nutrition. If so, has it improved your health; maybe even extended your life? Good nutrition is just as important for your pets’ health as it for humans, so why not do the same thing for your loyal companion? With proper nutrition, your four-legged friends can be just as healthy, happy and free from disease as their owners.

What is it?

Barf, which means, bone and raw food, consists of fresh meat, including bones and vegetables that are uncooked unlike commercial dog foods. What’s more, the barf diet is organic, not processed, has no preservatives, grains additives; fillers or byproducts; and contain only the highest quality of fresh ingredients.

The fresh food plan was designed to improve the health of your pet with evolutionary nutrition. Holistic veterinarians have been prescribing the barf diet to their patients for many years with beneficial results. “I agree with the barf diet, because it is based on what dog’s ancestors and current wild canids eat,” says homeopathic veterinarian, Dr Susan Maier. “It contains what their bodies naturally need to provide optimum health.”

Raw or ground?

That’s up to you. But, if you’re like most people, with little or no free time, preparation can be very time consuming. A number of web sites offer fresh quality ground meat, (bones included) and vegetables that are properly prepared, prepackaged and ready to be delivered frozen right to your door. All you need to do is thaw out the package in the refrigerator and serve your dog his favorite meal.

By now, if you’re thinking how disgusting this sounds, consider this. Although, your canine is a beloved family member, all dogs are still considered hunters and scavengers who thrive on raw meat. That’s why dogs who barf, make cheerful and much stronger companions for years to come.

Let’s take a look at some of the healthy benefits that raw foods provide.

Teeth, gums and breath – When feeding commercial dog foods, most dogs accumulate tarter build up which often leads to bad breath and sometimes even tooth loss. Hence, when feeding raw crunchy bones, you won’t have to worry about expensive cleanings because it naturally eliminates plaque and freshens breath.

“Dogs on raw food have healthier mouths and overall, very little tarter. Some of the “doggie” breath is related to an imbalance of micro flora in the gut,” explains Dr. Maier. “The odor may come from the mouth or stomach. Processing kibble often destroys many nutrients in the food, leading to an imbalance in the micro flora.”

Skin and coat – If you’re dog has dry itching skin, a sparse coat or infections, the barf diet is just what the doctor ordered. “By providing the proper nutrients, in the most digestible form provides the building blocks needed for a healthy coat,” Dr. Maier says.

Allergies – “Many allergies are because of poor nutrition, causing leaky gut syndrome,” says homeopathic veterinarian, speaker and author, Dr. Christina Chambreau. “Most dogs’ allergies resolve because of the nutrition and improved vibrational pattern.”

Disease – “Every disease can be helped with a fresh food diet as it provides the nutrients needed for health,” explains Dr. Chambreau.

Foods to feed –  Feeding Fido proteins like beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork, vegetables and fruit can improve physical well-being. You might also consider adding dairy and yogurt to Fido’s new diet. Thus, when feeding yogurt, make sure it contains active, live cultures. These cultures are a natural form of Probiotics that help aid digestion.

Foods to avoid – Dr. Chambreau says, “Avoid grapes and raisins because of the recent deaths caused from them. Avoid large amounts of onions, (garlic is ok). No chocolate.”

Supplements –  Calcium is an essential vitamin; but if your dog is consuming crunchy raw bones, calcium is not necessary.

Water consumption – Unlike highly processed kibble, the water from a fresh food diet has not been removed. The barf diet has a higher moisture content, so if Fido is drinking less, don’t panic.

Making the transition – According to Steve Brown, co-author of “See Spot Live Longer”,  a properly prepared raw diet is a gradual process. “A good way to do it is to feed raw for one meal and kibble for another. The more fresh food for dogs, the better. There are many types of raw diets, but a properly prepared, ancestral-type diet is best because it is high in protein, has balanced fats, low in carbohydrates, antioxidants and a trace of mineral rich,” he explains.

Tips to remember – Always wash your hands after handling raw food. Keep counters clean and sanitized and thoroughly wash your pet’s bowl after each meal to prevent bacteria from setting in.

Now that you know all the basics to improve the optimal health of your best-friend, a properly balanced all-natural diet is by far, the best approach. If you’re still in doubt, here are a few helpful links for more information.

www.HealthyAnimalsJournal.com

www.njboxers.com/faqs.htm

www.EatWild.com

You can also purchase some useful books at the following links.

http://www.seespotlivelonger.com/home/sll/page_10

http://www.seespotlivelonger.com/home/sll/page_9/unlocking_the_canine_ancestral_diet.html

I would love to hear your feedback, so send me all your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/  Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirits”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

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Healthy fats to lower your cholesterol

Cholesterol lowering properties

photo by: avlxyz

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Lower your cholesterol without medication

by Ann Blanton

Your doctor just phoned with the numbers for your cholesterol. You’ve been doing everything to keep your numbers in check with good nutrition, exercise, good sleep habits and minimal stress. So what gives?

Maybe you’re a smoker or consume alcohol on a regular basis; if this is the case, it’s time to ‘kick’ the habit. High cholesterol is also a condition that’s heredity, so if it runs in your family, it doesn’t matter how good your health habits are, you’re still at risk.

Let’s take a look at some ideas to help lower your levels without taking prescription medications. There’s no guarantee you’ll lower your cholesterol by following these steps; so  follow your doctor’s advice and do whatever he tells you.

Lifestyle changes

It’s crucial to pay special attention to your diet. You should allow at least five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You’ll want to maintain a diet that is made of 2/3 fruits and vegetables, and 1/3 of other foods. Cholesterol lowering foods such as avocados, onions, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, oat bran, olive oil, chili peppers, fatty fish including salmon and tuna, flax seed and beans such as black, kidney, pinto and  navy, play an essential role in lowering LDL and sometimes raising HDL levels.

Exercise

You already know that exercise is the best way to a healthy lifestyle. Specialists have reported that thirty minutes of brisk walking three times a week can help reduce cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. That should be enough to get your motor up and running. Plus, it’s fun, easy and no gym membership is necessary. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.

Nutrition

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. A few simple tips might be all you need. Eat a diet that is rich in good fats such as salmon, nuts and olive oil. Avoid foods containing saturated and trans fats such as lard, margarine and processed packaged snacks. These foods include, chips, cookies and baked goods.  Saturated fats consist of fatty meats, whole milk, cream and cheese. You don’t have to cut out all the fats,  just the unhealthy ones.

Sleep habits

Good sleep habits are a top priority to help fight infection, maintain good heart health and longevity. “Sleep deprivation often leads to bad food choices and snacking,” says cardiologist Frank Pearl. If you’re sleep deprived, it can cause the overproduction of insulin which causes the body to make more cholesterol.

Fish oil and heart disease

It’s time to discover the truth about fish oil. Does it prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol? Let’s take a look at the facts.  A diet that is rich in omega threes, including salmon, sardines, mackerel and cold water fish, will reduce the development of heart disease according to some researchers. This is only because they’ve been investigating fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements.

Although fish is known to decrease heart disease, it’s unknown if fish oil supplements have the same results. Then again, fish oil can reduce certain heart possibilities. Fish oil has been found to decrease certain blood fats called triglycerides, raise HDL, the good cholesterol and thin the blood. This is why eating fish helps to prevent heart attacks.

Stress and Cholesterol

Stress is a significant factor that often increases the affect of unhealthy lifestyle choices. These behaviors involve poor eating habits, inactivity and smoking, all of which are linked to high cholesterol. Usually all individuals have some kind of stressful situations in their life, but major stressful events can be difficult to avoid and eventually lead to poor health.

So, rather than going through the drive through at McDonald’s why not grab a salad instead. Your heart will thank you.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/  Currently, I also had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

As always, I appreicate all your comments.

Weight Loss Boss

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitchcakes/

Weight Management – Why women gain weight

by Ann Blanton 

If you’re someone who gets frustrated or discouraged every time you step on the scale, you’re not alone. Every day weighing can sabotage you from accomplishing your weight loss goals, so you might want to limit yourself from getting on that pesky contraception.

First, it’s important to know that daily weighing is not required. There are many causes why the numbers on the scale increase rather than decrease. Let’s discuss what some of those reasons are.

Sodium

Salt does not make you gain fat. Why? Because it contains no calories. Yet, weight gain is certainly a temporary possibility if consumptions are too high. This is simply because it causes your body to retain water. The body naturally tries to eliminate extreme amounts by diluting it with water. Then again, weight loss is more likely if your consumption is too low. For this reason, it removes water. Foods that are highly processed are more likely to have higher contents of sodium.

Glycogen

I like to think of glycogen as a tank that’s filled with stored carbohydrates. On any given day, if you fail to take in  adequate amounts of carbohydrates, your glycogen supply will diminish. When this happens, your appetite could slightly increase; and your body will replace its fuel with water. It’s not uncommon to experience shifts in water weight up to approximately two pounds daily without changing your activity level or calorie consumption.

Muscle

If you’ve been including weight training along with cardiovascular activity into your daily routine, don’t be alarmed if you see increased weight gain.  Long lean muscle has positive effects on the body for many reasons. It boosts metabolism, protects the bones against disease such as osteoporosis by preventing bone loss, gives you with a sexy physique and provides confidence by increasing your self- esteem.  What’s more, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

Menstruation 

Let’s take a moment to talk about why weight fluctuations are often a result of menstruation. Fluid retention or edema is frequently the culprit during this time of the month, because hormonal changes are usually taking place. At this time, some women experience difficulty with bowel movement that can also lead to water retention.

During the pre-menstrual cycle, magnesium levels typically plummet. When this happens, it creates a lower production of insulin levels. As the levels drop, sugar cravings take place.  Most often, the end result is  weight gain.

Peri–Menopause  and Menopause 

Weight gain often becomes a problem for women who are approaching the years of peri-menopause and menopause, particularly around the mid section. Although a hormonal imbalance takes place for many women, hormones alone are not entirely the problem. The difference between genetics and lifestyle principles are also linked. Along with the aging process, metabolism clearly slows down and muscle mass begins to decline. Failure to do something about this, your body composition will change from a reduced amount of muscle to additional fat.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can often be the cause of many negative effects  on the body. Lack of sleep decreases your energy level, affects motivation to exercise and often results in eating more than what’s normally required for the body. Little or no sleep causes a rise in ghrelin; the hormone that stimulates the appetite. So, if you’re not dropping those few extra pounds, perhaps you’re not getting enough shut- eye.

Stress 

Let’s face it, stress is a way of life! With today’s economy, who wouldn’t be stressed. Acute stress may lead to appetite loss, whereas, chronic stress may enhance appetite. Prolonged stress triggers the hormone cortisol by releasing it into the body. When this happens, it affects metabolism; it can also lead to depression, sleep deprivation and obesity. The best way to reduce stress is through physical activity.

Hypothyroidism 

The tiny butterfly gland located in the middle of the neck can wreak havoc on the entire body if it’s not controlled. Hypothyroidism (underactive), is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid by not producing enough of the hormone, T4 (thyroxine). When levels become low, it instantly signals the brain and tells the thyroid to release more T4. When this happens, if affects the metabolic rate which in turn affects the body to burn fat, as a result, unexpected weight gain.

Medications

It’s not uncommon for certain types of prescription medications to cause weight gain. This is because some medications can increase appetite, quench your thirst for sugary drinks, increase water retention and reduce the ability to burn fat. If this is a concern and you experience these side effects, you might want to talk to your health care professional.

So, what do you think,  is it true, does the scale really lie? The next time you step onto the scale, take all these facts into consideration.

Stop by often. I always appreciate your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. I’ve also had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

Free range chickens

Home, home on the range

Photo by: Brookford Farm

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brookfordfarm/4856788448/

Farm raised chickens vs. free range- what’s the difference?

by Ann Blanton

Farm raised

Have you ever noticed the yellow color of a chicken purchased at your local market? The reason behind this is because these birds have been raised where they can scarcely move, stretch or engage in normal behaviors. The overcrowded space is so limited, these poor chickens can barely flap their wings. Confided circumstances such as these put stress on chickens. When chickens are stressed, they naturally produce disease.

These birds have been raised in coops with other chickens that sit around in their own feces and have been injected with antibiotics and hormones. This hardly sounds appetizing right? No wonder people are concerned about the foods they eat and where it comes from. Consuming healthy protein is a major factor for a healthy lifestyle, eliminate disease and increase energy level.

Free range

This in itself is pretty self-explanatory. It simply means these little guys are free to roam. They’re not raised in chicken houses like farm raised birds; they’re not diseased because they don’t sit in their own feces or the feces of other chickens. Unlike there farm raised friends who live six weeks, free range chickens live, approximately eight weeks longer. A diet for a free-range bird consists of natural grass, grains and seeds, and are not addicted to drugs.

Beware 

Be cautious of farmers who say there hens are free-range. If their diet consists of corn, soy and synthetics, they are not free-range. 

Which eggs are best?

Considering the conditions of the farm raised hens, eggs produced from free-range chickens are naturally healthier, more nutritious and are much healthier for the planet.

Nutritional facts:

Approximately free range eggs contain 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, twice as many omega-3-fatty acids,  triple the amount of vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and as much as 6 times more vitamin D.

Remember, the answer may differ depending on the farms.

Tip:

When thawing a chicken, do so on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.  By applying this helpful tip, you can prevent salmonella from spreading. Placing a chicken on the top shelf will allow the juices to drip on the lower shelves, which can spread salmonella to other food items.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ I’ve also had my first short story published as anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.