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

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High fiber foods

Foods high in fiber

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Digestive Health – The facts on fiber and why it’s important

by Ann Blanton

If you want to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, the key component is to eat a high fiber diet. Most people don’t even come close to consuming the amounts that are required on a daily basis. On average, most adults obtain as little as ten to fifteen grams of fiber a day.

What is it?

Fiber is a main factor for a healthy well-balanced diet. It’s a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest and comes from plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. Without being broken down into nutrients, fiber passes completely through the digestive tract rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Why it’s important

Fiber offers cancer fighting properties and prevent certain types of cancer. The edible section of plants are opposed to absorption and have maximum helpful elements to fight against disease..

Other health factors for a high fiber diet include: a reduction in blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, glucose levels and inflammation. It also promotes weight loss because it produces fullness in the intestines by decreasing food intake.

How much is enough

The recommended intake should consist of 14 grams for every one thousand calories you take in on a daily basis. So if you’re consumption is two thousand calories, you should be eating at least 28 grams of fiber.

To determine how much fiber is enough, depends on your age and gender. Women 50 and younger, should aim for 25 grams a day. Those 51 and over, should be getting 21 grams each day. Men 50 and younger, should include a maximum intake of 38 grams, and men 51 and over should try to get 30 grams on a daily basis.

Types of fiber

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble dissolves in water and is found in most fruits   It forms into a gel in the digestive tract and allows food to move quickly through the system. Soluble fiber also maintains healthy cholesterol levels and promotes a much healthier cardiovascular system. Insoluble fiber is quite the reverse and does not evaporate in liquid. Instead, it adds bulk to the stool and passes quickly through the stomach and intestines unless there is fat, protein or soluble fiber to slow down the process. Both types are recommended daily for a well-balanced diet.

Soluble fiber foods

The foods listed below foods are high in soluble fiber and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients and can also help reduce cholesterol levels.

Plums, pears, prunes

Grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes

oatmeal

Brussel sprouts, broccoli

lentils

carrots

chick peas

kidney pinto and lima beans

Insoluble fiber foods

Foods that are high in insoluble fiber incorporate the kernel and the bran. The bran is the outer portion that covers the kernel. Here is a list of the following foods.

Whole grain breads and cereals

Wheat bran

Whole wheat flour, bread and cereal

Granola

Seeds and nuts

Popcorn

Beans, lentils and brown rice

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries

Grapes and raisins

Cherries

Pineapple

Peaches, pears, nectarines and apricots

Apples, oranges and melons

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce and collards

Corn and peas such as snow, snap and pea pods

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts

Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions,  green peppers, celery and garlic

Eggplant

Cucumbers and tomatoes

Tip:

You should never eat these foods alone or on an empty stomach. Insoluble fiber foods should always be eaten with large quantities of soluble fiber to keep the gastro colic reflex steady  This stimulates the movement into the gastrointestinal tract.

Benefits

There are many health benefits from eating a  high fiber diet. Some of them are listed below:

Lowers bad cholesterol levels, LDL

Reduces the risk of certain types of cancer such as prostrate, breast, ovarian and uterine. According to clinical studies, there are conflicting results whether a high fiber diet can prevent colon cancer.

Lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, which are small pouches in the colon

Improves blood sugar levels and Diabetes

Helps prevent heart disease

Relieves irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Reduces the formation of gallstones and kidney stones because it regulates blood sugar

Skin breakouts and rashes

Inhibits the severity of a stroke and the chances of recovery

Assists healthy weight management

So, get in your daily dose of fiber and greatly improve your health.

Always, I appreciate your feedback, so leave 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/ I also had a story story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

John 6:35: And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

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Got Milk!

                        Got Milk?

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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”.

Women walking

You can look and feel good at any age

photo by: Sangudo

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FIT AND FABULOUS OVER FIFTY

Have you ever wondered why your sister in her fifties who leads a physically active lifestyle, looks forty something? What about your forty-year old best friend who has no physical activity and looks fifty?

With regular exercise, you can actually reverse the signs of aging by at least ten years. You no longer have to settle for that tummy bulge, arms that wave back and that sagging rear view. You can look just as attractive walking away as you do walking into a room. Now if that doesn’t get you motivated, nothing will.

Today, baby boomers have tossed all those excuses not to exercise out with yesterday’s trash. Studies show that baby boomers are becoming fit and active at fifty and beyond and are in the best shape of their lives.

Typically, when a person reaches a certain age, they’ve learned to accept most of their imperfections. Maybe you’ve made a promise to yourself to be in good shape by the time you hit the  big 5-0. Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out the way we plan. As we age, it’s more difficult to remain physically active.

Getting in shape has many benefits. It makes you look and feel better, gives you more energy, helps fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer. It also helps you sleep better and improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you feel more attractive. The possibilities are endless.

With that said, let’s explore other fundamentals that can help you stay healthy for many years to come.

Muscle Toning – There are a number of reasons why you should build strong beautiful muscles with strength training. Building muscle increases your metabolism, enhances energy, keeps your body in perfect balance, keeps your bones in ailment, supports your skeleton and burns calories at rest.

Fitness club owner Dan Neal, focuses mostly on baby boomers and the quality of life. Neal says, “As a person ages, the importance of muscle toning is a necessary factor because the older you become, the more muscle you lose. Toning keeps you stronger, more vibrant and helps to prevent injuries.”

Stretching – It’s just as important to stretch before and after a workout as it is to do the actual workout itself. Failure to stretch can make it difficult to achieve simple daily activities such as putting on your shoes or reaching for something on a shelf.  Lack of stretching can also cause muscle tightness, soreness and injury. A good way to improve flexibility is by doing a series of stretching exercises daily. According to Neal, stretching improves stiff joints as well as strengthens the stabilizer muscles.

Balance – You can learn balance techniques by practicing yoga. Balance building exercises are important so you can react in certain situations to prevent falling or breaking a hip.

Watch what you eat – It’s essential to learn the difference between which fats are healthy versus which ones are unhealthy. “Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and avocados are examples of good fats,” says licensed nutritionist, Patricia Harris. “Cakes, cookies, candy and soft drinks are a few examples of foods that contain empty calories so it’s important to avoid these foods,” states Harris.

In terminology, empty calories are described as foods that are high in energy, but low in vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients. That’s not to say that you have to eliminate these foods altogether, just enjoy them in moderation.

Because of the low quantities of sugar in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, grapefruits, melons, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, these foods keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

So, if you’ve hit that important milestone or you know someone who has, it’s never too late to get in shape and stay fit and active for a lifetime.

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/ Recently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology, in “Heartscapes”.

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How to Begin a Safe Exercise Program

by Ann Blanton

There are hundreds of reasons why people refuse to workout. They’re too busy, too tired, don’t have time, don’t feel like it, can’t make the commitment or they just plain old hate to exercise.

Some people want to start an exercise regime, but don’t know where to begin. How many times have you made a resolution to get in shape? How many times have you actually kept that promise? You might have even convinced yourself that exercise programs don’t work anyway, so why bother.

Current studies show that individuals are living well into their eighties and nineties. Thus, maybe getting in shape so you can make the best of your golden years isn’t such a bad idea after all.

As you probably already know, getting fit has many health benefits. It gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, makes you look and feel better, boosts your self-esteem and even improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you naturally feel more attractive. Plus, exercise also helps to fight the signs of aging and most diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

If you want to start a regime, but don’t know how or where to begin, this article will help you learn the fundamentals and get on the right track to fitness. Even if you’re busy, you’ll be able to fit this plan into your lifestyle. There’s no time like the present, to put those goals into action; so let’s get started.

Consult a Physician 

If you’re new to fitness or have a medical condition that might worsen during physical activity, it’s a good idea to seek the advice from a physician you can trust.

Make a Commitment

Making a commitment might sound simple to some, but dedicating yourself to stick to an exercise routine on a daily basis is entirely different. First, it’s important for you to decide what time of day works best for you and then stick with it. For many, mornings can be effective because that’s when most people have their highest level of energy. Morning exercisers find that working out early helps them to get their day off on the right track. If mornings don’t work for you, then schedule a time that does and commit to that time every day.

Set Realistic Goals

If you set expectations that are too high, you’ll only sabotage yourself before putting your plan into action. Remember, changing bad habits doesn’t come easy. It’s always best to make small changes weekly, but most importantly, be reasonable.

Be Optimistic

A positive attitude is usually contagious. If you have a negative attitude, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure even before you begin. Furthermore, a good attitude will change your entire outlook on life.

Motivation

Staying motivated is probably one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when beginning an exercise program. The same routine is bound to get boring over time. To prevent exercise “burnout”, try to plan an activity that you enjoy, something exciting and fun, so you can keep your workouts fresh and enjoyable. Approximately one-third of all exercisers quit within the first year because of boredom.

Exercise with a friend

If you exercise with a friend or family member, you’re more likely to be consistent. Plus, it’s also a good way to stay accountable.

Start a Journal

Keeping an exercise log is a good way to keep track of all your accomplishments. If you become discouraged or frustrated, rereading all your victories is a good way to keep you motivated.

Toss out the scale

How many times have you stepped on that little contraption, only to have it ruin your day? If you’re answer is “many”, then you might want to hide it, toss it and forget all about it. As you become leaner and  start to build muscle, the numbers on the scale will probably go up. Don’t get discouraged. It’s more important to focus on your well-being and less on what the numbers say.

Begin Slowly

If you try and do too much too quickly, you’re only setting yourself up for sore muscles, fatigue and possibly even injury. Some exercise programs can be intimidating, so it’s best to take things at your own pace. As your body becomes stronger, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity.

Include Variety

Diversity can be just as important as the exercise itself. Over time, your body adapts to the same routine; so if your goal is to lose weight, you might want to “shake” things up, so it doesn’t slow down the process.

Rest and Recover

Some people might dive full force into working out and then feel guilty taking a day off. It’s important to always listen to your body. You might want to allow yourself a day off in between workouts so you can come back and feel stronger than ever.

Reward yourself

Some people like to reward themselves for their accomplishments by splurging on sweet treats. Instead, and only if you can afford it, why not treat yourself to small inexpensive gifts such as a manicure, pedicure or maybe a new exercise outfit.

Never give up

Like many people, there will always be days that will be discouraging or maybe you won’t be satisfied with your progress. Don’t use this as an excuse to throw in the towel.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy body.

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/

 

 

Stretching for good health

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Stretch!

Are you like most people when they first begin to exercise? The morning after, you’re muscles are so sore, you can hardly roll out of bed. You feel as if you’ve already been kicked to the curb and the day hasn’t even started. If you haven’t already figured out the solution, I’ll tell you. The answer is stretching before and after your workout.

Gentle stretching prior to activity is beneficial to warm up cold muscles and helps to prevent pulled or torn muscles. The post workout stretch aids in recovery and avoids injury. Neglecting to do so can make a world of difference between sore muscles and fatigue or increased energy and stronger muscles. Stretching shapes the muscles, making them long and lean and removes the lactic acid.

Now that you understand the importance of stretching, let’s talk about some of the benefits. 

Improves flexibility and range of motion

As you age, simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking something up from off the floor can often become challenging. Regular stretching can elongate your muscles and make daily chores much easier to achieve.

Enhances circulation

Stretching promotes circulation of blood to the muscles and joints, which in turn bring nutrients to the cells and helps to remove waste. 

Develops good posture

Stretching helps keep your muscles from becoming tight and sore, which in turn, allows for better posture and fewer aches and pains.

Relieves stress, anxiety and fatigue

Tense muscles are often accompanied by stress. Stretching relaxes those muscles and brings you a sense of well-being and relief.

Decreases risk from injury

When your muscles and joints are tight, stretching before and after a workout, loosens and protects them from becoming painful after exercise.

Now that you know the advantages of stretching, let’s practice a few techniques.

Calf

This is the muscle that runs along the back of the lower leg. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Put one foot behind the other. The right knee should be straight and the right heel positioned on the floor as you slowly bend the left leg forward. Always hold your back straight and your hips forward. 

Hamstring

Your hamstring runs along the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor, placing one leg against the wall. Relax your heel alongside the wall and bend your knee slightly. Gently straighten your leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

Quadriceps

The quads run along the front of your thigh. Standing next to a wall for support, gently grasp your ankle. Pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold your stomach in tight and keep your knees together.

Shoulders

Bring your left arm above or below your elbow and hold gently. Repeat with your right arm.

Neck

Bend your head forward and gently to the left. Do the same thing on the right. Hold to a comfortable position.

Warm-up

Always prepare your body for what is about to come. Remember to stretch cold muscles to prevent your risk of injury. Don’t rush stretching. Take things slow and easy. 

Breathe

Never hold your breath! Inhale slowly as you begin your stretch and exhale as you complete it.

Cool down

The cool down is just as important as stretching because it gradually brings your heart rate down without shocking your body. It also helps to relax your muscles before stretching takes place. 

Tips:

1. If it hurts, don’t do it! Hold each stretch for at least thirty to sixty seconds. If you feel pain or discomfort, back off.

2. Never bounce while you’re stretching because it can cause injury to your muscle tissue.

3. If you have a chronic medical condition or an injury, seek medical advice from a professional. Modify stretching is always advisable.

4. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a few minutes to stretch your body every morning and again before going to bed to maintain flexibility.

5. Make a habit to stretch daily and your body will thank you.

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 Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

 

The Benefits of Probiotics

by Ann Blanton

We all crave more energy to help us get through our busy lives. When the body is functioning normally, it takes approximately eighty percent of your energy to digest and eliminate the foods that you eat. No wonder so many people are dragging around by the end of the day.

According to Webster’s dictionary, Probiotics is defined as, “usually dairy food or a dietary supplement containing live bacteria that replaces or adds to the beneficial bacteria normally present in the gastrointestinal tract.” Probiotics also mean “for life”, which is why studies have proven that taking Probiotics is as necessary as taking a multi-vitamin.

You probably already know that good health begins in the digestive tract. The human body consists of trillions of bacteria and microorganisms typically in the gut. Individuals need to continually refill the good bacteria in the abdomen to boost balance in the digestion. The body stays healthy when intestinal floras flourish.

Chronic or acute conditions such as poor digestion, obesity, urinary tract infections and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can become problematical if they’re not imbalanced. An overgrowth of the yeast fungus, also known as candidiasis, might also be a concern.

“Friendly” flora or “good” bacteria is found in the digestive tract, skin, mouth, rectum and the vagina. In other word, Probiotics keep our stomach, intestines and colon clean and healthy. It supports normal function of the colon, digestion, elimination of waste and prevents yeast, bacteria and parasites. When the “good” flora decreases, the “bad” bacteria and yeast take over. Once this happens, it throws the entire digestive tract off balance; causing the body to become prone to illness, Candida, yeast infection and digestive problems.

Frequently, antibiotics can also kill the “good” bacteria in the large intestine, which makes disease more susceptible. Physicians should always recommend Probiotics in combination while taking antibiotics.

Bad eating habits, chlorinated drinking water, stress, a low immune system, steroids and birth control pills are factors that can interrupt the healthy balance with the bacteria in the body.

Improves digestion 

In order for the body to fight off infection, improve digestion. elimination and boost the immune system, you might want to include Probiotics into your diet. By taking Probiotics, they also promote regularity and improve mineral absorption.

There are many sources of Probiotics available in pill form, capsule, liquid or powder. Foods that contain Probiotics include fermented products. Webster’s dictionary defines fermented as: “any of a group of living organisms, as yeasts, molds and certain bacteria that cause fermentation.”  Many of these products may already be included in your diet, such as sour cream, yogurt with live cultures and cultured buttermilk. It’s known that “good” bacteria in yogurt can help with diarrhea, gas and bloating. Those who are lactose intolerant and have difficulty digesting milk products, may find drinking acidophilus milk easier to tolerate.

Has this information been useful in learning the advantages thatProbiotics can provide?  What benefits have you gained?

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”.

The Best Time to Exercise

The best time to exercise is the time that’s most beneficial for you. If it’s convenient, stick to a schedule. By doing this, exercise will become a habit and not a chore. Regardless of when you exercise, you’ll accomplish the same benefits.

Many people focus on morning exercise because that’s when their energy level is the highest, they’re well rested, more focused and it jump starts their metabolism and keeps it that way for hours. When your metabolism is elevated, you naturally burn more calories. It also puts you in a positive mood because you’re doing something that’s good for yourself. Exercise in the a.m., is easier for many to make exercise a part of their daily routine.

What do you do if you want to work out, but there’s not enough time to fit exercise into your hectic schedule because of work, school, taking care of the kids or other obligations? I’ll share how I manage to fit exercise into my busy schedule and I hope you pass some of your ideas on to me too. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a morning exerciser. Every day at the same time, I tie up my sneakers and workout. Eventually it naturally became a habit. If something unexpected comes up and I can’t get my morning workout in as planned, I try to reschedule later in the day.

Then again, some people prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evening because it’s a good stress buster from all the pressures of the day. Muscles are also more flexible and it’s easier to find a friend to work out with. Plus, your body temperature is at its peak and injuries are less likely.

Exercising in the evening works for many, but be careful because your cortisol levels are at their highest in the evenings, and exercising to close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Everyone has their own opinion what works best for them. So what time works best for you? Are you a morning exerciser like myself, or do you work out in the afternoons or late at night? If you’re an evening exerciser, does it interfere with your sleep habits? If so,  how do you handle it?

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 will also have my first short story published as an anthology in a book called “Heartscapes”, in a few short weeks.