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

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Healthy fats to lower your cholesterol

Cholesterol lowering properties

photo by: avlxyz

http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/2570349350

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.

Advertisements

Got Milk!

                        Got Milk?

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/osakasteve/46313188

Milk does the body good

by Ann Blanton

As children we were told to drink milk because it helps to build strong bones and teeth. But, as adults, we don’t think it still applies, so we have the tendency to slack off. This couldn’t be further from the truth; simply because this creamy white fluid is a natural source of vitamin D and calcium.

An important mineral called calcium help to maintain strong bones and muscles, including the most vital muscle of the body – the heart. Without it, the body will take calcium from your bones, which is the only other source that it has. It can also put you at risk for thin and brittle bones later in life. It takes one single cup to get one third of your daily calcium requirements.

There are many health reasons why you can benefit from vitamin D. Let’s take a look at some of those causes.

1. Vitamin D provides calcium balance in the body that can prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.

2. It also regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension.

3. Relieves aches and pains by reducing muscle spasms

4. Helps fight against depression.

5. It also aids in the secretion of insulin.

To reap the benefits, any amounts will suffice. However, according to experts, three eight ounce glasses daily will provide you with all the calcium you need, plus seventy- five percent of vitamin D. This tasty wellness drink provide important nutrients from protein which include vitamin A, B12, D, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin and niacin.

The importance of these vitamin include:

Vitamin A – Facilitates the immune system, normal vision and good skin.

B -12 –  Assists healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue.

Vitamin D– Helps in the absorption of calcium.

Niacin – It’s important for the significance of the nervous system. It also keeps enzymes functioning normally and helps the body process sugars and fat.

Potassium – Helps to keep a good blood pressure

Phosphorus and Riboflavin – Strengthens bones and gives you energy

Disease Prevention – Osteoporosis

It’s crucial to build strong bone mass during childhood and throughout adolescence, in order to prevent osteoporosis.  Although milk is the preferred source of calcium for overall bone health, there are other ways to stop bone loss. These tips contain:

1. A healthy lifestyle of no smoking or the intake of alcoholic beverages.

2. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.

3. Weight bearing and resistance training exercises

4. Bone density testing

Memory Loss – Vitamin B-12 is an important key factor to maintain the nervous system. Some scientists have discovered that milk has the best source of B-12 that can decrease the damage to the brain. Studies show that by drinking two cups daily, can protect against memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes – Some studies show that milk may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle aged or older women.

More diseases – Other findings such as chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke and colorectal cancer have also declines due to the consumption of milk.

Weight Loss – New research shows that milk can also help fight against the battle of the bulge. Two glasses of milk each day can help you drop those unwanted pounds. Typically, adults who have consumed the highest amounts of calcium and vitamin D, lost an average of twelve pounds over a period of time.

Beauty benefits – Hair, Nails and Skin

Research has discovered that the essential vitamins found in cow’s milk can provide, healthy, beautiful, shiny locks. The proteins and lipids work to strengthen hair, while the calcium promotes hair growth and aids in hair loss.

Nails – Fingernails need the proper nutrition to grow just like the rest of your body. Calcium is one of the minerals that can help. Although calcium may support healthy nail growth, it will not help them grow faster.

Skin – Vitamin A is an excellent source for good eyesight, but it also tackles skin problems like wrinkles and pigmentation changes. Because milk is high in hormones, if you’re acne prone, you might need to reduce your intake.

Whole milk is also high in fat and calories, therefore, if you’re watching your weight, you can switch to the low- fat version.

Stop by often. I always appreciate all your comments.

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

Don’t worry, be happy!

Photo by pat00139

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pat00139/5770530596/

Coping strategies for stress

by Ann Blanton

In today’s world stress is an important concern for just about everyone. With unemployment at an all time high, gas prices on the rise, and food costs soaring through the roof, most people even with a two household income are barely scraping by. The issue of how to stay healthy in a society that’s constantly changing is often a question of how to cope with stress. Undeniably, the major source for stress is life.

So how is stress defined?  Often stress determines the emotional and physical endeavor that is caused by our response to pressure from the outside world.  It’s a physical and psychological reaction from a source that’s a disruptive or stimulating event.

So what can you do to stop the vicious cycle of stressors in our lives?

Unfortunately, eliminating all stress related issues from your life is virtually impossible. The good news however, is there are ways you can reduce stressful situations in daily living.

What are the secrets of stress reduction?  Regrettably, there are no secrets. It basically depends on the individual and how they cope with certain situations. Sometimes you have to learn techniques to turn a negative into a positive. Let’s take a look at a few example.

Acceptance –The first and most important rule is to learn acceptance. Learn to change the things you can control and accept the things you cannot. Then move on.

Be positive – As difficult as this may seem, your attitude affects how you handle most stressful situations. It also affects how you handle yourself. “The person who has a positive outlook has learned some valuable life skills. They’ve learned to edit their thoughts. They’ve also learned that they have the power to choose their attitude rather than depending on circumstances to dictate how they will feel,” says expert and life coach Levya Braman.

Those who are optimistic are able to cope more effectively. If you turn a negative into a positive, eventually, situations will turn out to your advantage. Another approach is to stay away from those who are always negative.

Exercise regularly – Working out on a daily basis helps to get your endorphins pumping and your blood circulating. It also creates a natural high and is the key to happiness. It’s difficult to be in a bad mood after a good workout.

Diet – Eating a healthy nutritious diet is not only good for the body; it’s also good for the soul. After all, you’re good eating habits should become a healthy way of life. No more yo-yo syndromes or roller coaster rides of ups and downs.

Sleep – It’s important to get plenty of restful sleep. It’s not necessarily the quantity of sleep that you get, as much as the quality.

Balance – There are three major components of keeping your body in perfect balance. These factors include exercise, good nutrition and restful sleeping patterns. Practice these habits to optimize these elements for your body, mind and lifestyle.

Laughter – Laughter is definitely life’s best medicine. There’s nothing like having a good laugh to brighten your mood and lift your spirit. Do whatever it takes to comprise laughter into your lifestyle, whether it’s telling a joke or watching a funny movie or your favorite sitcom. When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

So what do you do to relieve stressful situations in your life?

If you take the time to practice all of the above, everything else will naturally fall into place.

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’ve had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, Heartscape

Namaste

Photo by:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/myyogaonline/457354299/

Positive vs Negative Stress – What’s the Difference?

by Ann Blanton

In a stressful society, life can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, stress will  play a major role in your life. How you handle those situations is entirely up to you. It’s about taking control and not letting stressful circumstances get the upper hand. There are ways to manage those upsetting incidents, but first you have to learn to accept the things you cannot change. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? But, it’s not as complicated as you may think.

The first response you imagine when you think about stress, is usually  a negative reaction. What you don’t know, not all stress is considered bad or harmful.

Take a good long look at your life and get in touch with your feelings and emotions. The goal is to manage your time wisely and make time for what’s important. It’s significant to come to terms with your stress levels and learn how to deal with it head on. Like it or not, it’s a part of life.

When you feel agitated, consciously choose how you’re going to react. You can either freak out or shrug it off. If you don’t learn to control stressful situations and allow your worries to bottle up, it can become destructive  to your body. Take several deep breathes and train your mind to stay calm and relaxed. Speak up. Never be afraid to let others know how or what you’re feeling. It might sound difficult, but with practice, it’s not impossible.

Categories of stress – Characteristics of stress can be divided into four groups. Each type can either be positive or negative. Let’s take a look at how each stage works.

Eustress – This is known as positive stress. You might feel like this after a roller coaster ride or watching a scary movie.

Positive stress produces chemicals known as endorphins and serotonin which provides contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration. Maybe you’ve felt a rush of excitement after a promotion or winning a marathon. As a result of satisfaction, your body physically creates positive stress.

Distress – This is identified as a negative aspect of stress. This type of stress can make you feel angry, discouraged or frightened. Being overwhelmed with distress, can often cause you to feel worried or experience psychological anguish.

The majority of people consider negative stress when they’re in pain, anxious or afraid because an excessive amount of adrenaline is being released into the body. Once the problem has been resolved, the bad stress is replaced with positive stress.

Chronic– This is the most serious type of stress. It’s also known as long term, which can lead to significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Some causes can be financial, sickness or death.

Sufferers feel as if they have no control over certain situations. The best way to manage chronic stress is to seek medical attention immediately and find out the source of the problem.

Acute – If you feel threatened or afraid, it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response and kicks your adrenaline into overdrive. It  prepares your body for emergencies. Acute stress is also known as a short term stressor that can be caused by trauma such as car accidents, being chased by a dog, robbery or rape.

There are many sides of stress; we just need to learn how to cope with different stages as they happen.

So how do you cope in stressful situations?

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 just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Photo by  Bas Van Uyen

http://www.flickr.com/photos/basvanuyen/4287596754/

Choosing Healthy Lifestyle Habits

by Ann Blanton

It’s typical to view your lifestyle habits as a stressful time, especially if you’re your own worst critic. There are four key elements that can make the change more successful, enjoyable and have a positive experience. Whatever the change, the fundamentals that make it possible are information, awareness, goal setting and a good support system.

Information

You’ll be amazed at how many health ideas you can discover by simply reading books and magazine articles on nutrition and weight control.

Awareness 

Sit in on a fitness class or better yet, take the “plunge” and jump right in with both feet. Eventually the process of change will become second nature. You’ll have fun and soon you’ll have an enjoyable lifestyle.

Support System 

A strong support system is an extremely important aspect in changing your lifestyle. Losing weight or to quit smoking are riddled with hurdles especially if you go at it alone. A lot of people including family and friends are negative when it comes to lifestyle change. Sometimes you have to find new friends and avoid certain family members. Some of us have to do it alone. It might be more difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Goal Setting 

Goal setting goes hand in hand with a strong support system strategy. The process of setting and visualizing goals helps you achieve your goals and gives you a road map to follow. The map will help you identify where you are on the road to accomplishing those obstacles. Ask yourself these questions : Where am I now? And where do I want to be? If you can answer those questions, then you are well on your way to meeting your ambitions. 

Good Nutritional Habits

Photo by A Culinary (Photo) Journal

http://www.flickr.com/photos/a-culinary-photo-journal/4242911630/in/photostream/

Examples:

1. What should I eat?

It’s important to eat at least five fruits and vegetables daily, lean protein, healthy complex carbohydrates, fiber, whole grains and low fat dairy products.

2. When should I exercise?

Working out in the a.m. is usually best for most people because that’s usually when energy levels are at their highest. Some people find that if they wait until later in the day, other responsibilities will hinder their fitness goals. If the only time you have is afternoons or evenings, then set aside a certain time schedule and stick to it each day.

3. When should I relax?

With busy lives, it’s very important to take a few minutes every day to relax. It doesn’t matter if you only have five minutes, sit back, close your eyes, clear your mind and take time to unwind from the pressures of the day.

Goal setting can be as simple as taking fifteen minutes to write down a list of goals that you want to accomplish. Once you’ve made a sizeable list, put them in the order in which you wish to achieve them. Spend time every day on at least one new goal and make it become a reality.

So what are some of your goals?

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’ve just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

Who could say “no”, to these adorable cuties

Photo by: Sara Jones

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahakabmg/3949023496/

Got Stress-Adopt A Pet

by Ann Blanton

Often, humans provide an emotional gap; pets provide the support to fill that gap. Stop and think about it for a second. Who’s always there for you? Our four-legged furry friends, that’s who. They listen when no one else will, they never judge you and they’re always happy to see you.

Companionship and unconditional love

If you fulfill your pets needs, they can be your constant companion for a long time. When you look into your pet’s eyes, suddenly your mood is lifted. Many pet owners say, owning a dog or cat has helped to lower their blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and eased depression. Something as simple as rubbing your pet’s fur can minimize your stress level and lower your heart rate. Having a pet in your life can open a window of opportunity to break away from all the problems of life.

A feeling of purpose

Pets can definitely give our lives a sense of meaning. Caring and nurturing for another living thing helps you to feel as if you’re accomplishing something of importance. Our furry friends depend on their owners for all their needs including food, water, exercise and health care.

Exercise

Your best friend will always remind you of the significance of exercise. Dogs need just as much exercise as humans, so take your friend for a brisk walk. Taking your pooch for a walk will help enhance your overall health and make you want to exercise more.

Friends

Walking your pooch can often be a good conversation starter. You have the opportunity to meet your neighbors or if you go to the dog park, you can meet other dog owners and their dogs. Meeting new people will give you the ability to develop new friendships, which can also benefit stress reduction.

Safety

Man’s best friend can warn you when strangers are near. Large breed dogs can provide a measure of safety if someone threatens you. Cats have a keen sense of danger and have been known to wake their owners in an emergency.

Comic relief

Frequently, pets offer comic relief because they’re always doing something silly. Watching your pet bustle around the house in the morning can instantly lift your mood so you can begin your day with a positive attitude. Who doesn’t like to watch kittens play? Dogs stare at themselves when they see their own reflection and bark at the “stranger” in the mirror. A cat will pounce, throw things in the air and catch it and run from one end of the house to the other for no apparent reason. Dogs chase their tails and leap in the air to catch a fly. They can be trained to fetch your slippers, catch a Frisbee or walk calmly by your side.

Good for the handicapped and elderly

Some pets have been taught to lead the blind, alert the deaf when the phone rings, warn a child when a seizure strikes and warn a person with life threatening allergies.

Each of us are handicapped in our own way and need the unqualified love given by a companion animal for those times when life just seems too hard. The dog or cat can be a way of connecting to other people, to decrease the “differences”. Other children may want to come play because of the pet. Neighbors may be more inclined to realize an elderly person needs help once the animal opens the conversations. Most dogs and cats thrive even on three legs, which can be a positive demonstration to children and adults facing amputations,” says holistic veterinarian, Christina Chambreau.

Cuddle factor

Whether your dog gives you a big wet kiss or you snuggle with your kitty, it can benefit greatly by reducing stress. At times your cat may startle you when they unexpectedly jump on your lap. Maybe you don’t always feel like taking your pooch for a walk, but honestly, what would you do without him?

Stop by your local animal shelter and adopt a pet and watch your tension fade away.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link 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”.

Ann Blanton, writer, author, published, nonfiction, article, magazine, Fitness Plus, stress, reduction,  adopt, pet, four-legged, companion, furry, friend, humans, emotional, gap, enhance, park, neighbor, safety, breed, large, stranger, protect,

support, companionship, unconditional, love, dog, pooch cat, kitty, blood pressure, cholesterol, reduce, depression, fur, food, water, exercise, health care,

threaten, danger, comic, relief, bustle, mood, attitude, play, tail, leap, train, handicapped, elderly, blind, deaf, seizure, strike, warn, allergy, love, children, person, animal, shelter, thrive, leg, amputation, cuddle, snuggle, kiss, lap, tension, fade, fiction, story, book, anthology, Heartscape

Good Heart Health

You already know that all nuts are good for your health, but when it comes to heart health, the walnut stands out above all the rest. Like all nuts, they have no cholesterol, few carbohydrates and are low in sodium. While they’re great for baking, make fabulous snacks and complement salads, they’re also high in calories and fat, so eating them in moderation is key.

Protect Your Heart

The unsaturated fats that are found in this heart smart nut, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are considered “good” fats and can lower LDL, (bad cholesterol) levels, thus, while boosting HDL, (good cholesterol), levels. It’s important to replace unhealthy saturated fats and incorporate walnuts as part of a healthy well-balanced diet. In comparison to other nuts, it only takes about seven walnuts to obtain the benefits from this regal nut.

Omega 3-fatty acids

The rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in walnuts, decrease the risk of heart irregularities, plaque build-up and sudden death. They also contain large quantities of manganese and copper. Manganese is a mineral found in trace amounts in the human body, typically in the bones, liver, pancreas and kidneys. They also have important enzymes and antioxidants that help to fight free radical damage.

Lowering Cholesterol Properties

“Omega-3 fats directly control the size of LDL cholesterol particles in addition to oxidation properties that make the particles less cohesive, reducing the possibility to cause plaque. C-reactive protein (CRP) is noted to be a risk factor for heart disease and other heart problems,” says certified sports nutritionist, Lawrence Sanchez. “Walnuts can lower the risk by increasing the elasticity of arteries, thus reduce inflammation. What’s more, the omega 3’s can also help reduce triglycerides,” he adds. 

Vitamins and Minerals

The vitamins and minerals that are found these succulent nuts are in abundance. Rich supplies include A, B6, C, E calcium, iron and zinc. There are also considerable amounts of potassium, magnesium, selenium, folate and thiamin.

Weight Management

Because this mouth-watering snack is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, it can help to manage your weight, simply by satisfying your hunger for longer periods. It takes approximately a handful, (30 grams) to satisfy your cravings. The end result is usually eating less food during the day. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight can help to keep your heart strong and in good physical shape. This does not mean that a few walnuts will counteract with an unhealthy diet.

The latest studies show that a moderate intake of healthy fats can be the outcome of a successful and long-term weight loss plan.

Nutritional Value

Walnuts contain 185 calories for a one-ounce serving, 18.49 grams of fat, 3.89 carbohydrates and 4.23 grams of protein.

Are you protecting your heart by eating these delectable nuts?

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’ve just had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.