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.

Healthy fats to lower your cholesterol

Cholesterol lowering properties

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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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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

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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”.

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”.

Nutritous fruits and vegetables

Nutritious fruits and vegetables

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Good Nutrition for Adults

by Ann Blanton

Your body is the only home that you’ll truly ever own. Treat it like the temple that it is!

The first step to a healthy lifestyle is a well balanced nutritious diet. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you want to live a life free from diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and most types of cancer, you need to get on the right track and learn healthy nutritional habits. If you have good eating habits, you can save yourself a lot of time visiting the doctor’s office.

People who eat healthy have a higher immune system than someone who has poor eating habits. Proper nutrition and a healthy immune system will keep you strong throughout your entire life time. Your immune system can be affected by many things such as environmental pollutants, pesticides, antibiotics, allergies, inflammation, and chronic fatigue. Healing can take place much sooner with a strong immune system. However, the only way this is impossible is by having proper nutritional health.

Try making small adjustments weekly and cut back on foods that you know can be harmful to your health. Add at least two healthy food items to your shopping list and always stock up on fruits and vegetables. It’s essential to include at least five fruits and veggies into your diet every day. Get rid of all temptation and leave the comfort foods behind. Have you ever heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind?” Well it’s true; if it’s not in the pantry then you won’t be tempted.

Carbohydrates 

Many foods have carbohydrates and are an excellent source of energy for your body. Learn the difference between the carbohydrates that are good for you versus the ones that are not. If you eat too many carbohydrates at once, it can cause your glucose level to be too high.

Good carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber 

1. Fresh fruits and vegetables in every color, shape and size

2. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal and cereal

3. Dried peas, legumes and lentils. (These are also a great source of protein).

4. Non-fat or low fat dairy items such as milk, cheese, yogurt and margarine. Cook and bake with egg whites or egg substitutes

5. Wheat pasta, wheat flour and sweet potatoes

Carbohydrates to avoid

1. White bread

2. White rice and pasta

3. Fruit juices with sweeteners

4. Cakes, cookies, candy and chips

5. Regular soda

Good sources of protein

1. Lean meats and poulty without the skin

2. Low fat cheese, yogurt and eggs

3. Natural peanut butter and soy products such as tofu

4. Fish

Healthy fats are also heart healthy

1.  Nuts, almonds, walnuts and seeds

2. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel

3. Avocados

4. Olive oil

You don’t have to avoid foods that you crave altogether, just eat them in moderation.

 

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

I always appreicate all your comments.

 

THE Biggest Loser

Get motivated with trainer Bob Harper, from The Biggest Loser

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Motivation is the key to success

by Ann Blanton

The key to getting fit, is motivation! Most people know that our bodies are not designed to sit still. People want to become physically active, but don’t know how to get motivated enough to begin a fitness regimen.

At first, you might tell yourself to start parking the car a few blocks from work, take the elevator instead of the stairs and join a gym. Weeks go by and you notice parking spaces become available closer to the building, the elevator is in the lobby and you’re too tired to go to the gym. One reason leads to another excuse.

Let’s take a look at the best solutions to get you motivated enough to keep moving.

Set Realistic Goals – Beginning isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The first thing you must do, is find something that you enjoy. You might even need to try a few different things to find what’s best suited for you. Example: You might decide that you want to give jogging a try. If this is something you’re interested in, begin slowly and start walking. Gradually work your way up to a quicker pace or even a brisk walk until you feel you’re ready to break into a jog. If you push yourself too quickly, you’ll get discouraged and give up. Remember, it takes time, patience and commitment to accomplish your goals.

Schedule Your Time Wisely – It’s important to schedule a time everyday that you can set aside for your workout. If mornings work best, pick a time and stick with it. If something else comes up, reschedule your workout for later in the day. Make a note of what you’re going to do and stick with it. Put the note somewhere where you’re able to see it such as on the bathroom mirror on even on the refrigerator.

Keep a Journal – Begin a journal everyday by writing down your goals. Be specific! Doing this will keep you focused and remind you how much you want to accomplish the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Doing this is the mental process of committing yourself to complete your mission. Keeping a journal also has another advantage. If you’re feeling week on determination, reviewing your list will help you to refocus. Keeping track, will also help you acknowledge when you slip-up so you can recommit yourself. Rather than becoming discouraged, you’ll know why you got off track. If this happens. don’t be too hard on yourself. Let it be a learning experience to learn something new about yourself.

Get Support – Find an exercise buddy who shares your interest, so they can encourage and support you in achieving your accomplishments. Look for someone who wants to see you succeed. It’s difficult to stay focused if your friend doesn’t share the same interests or wants to see you fail.

Be Positive – In achieving any type of goals, it’s always important to keep a positive attitude. If you tell yourself that you can’t do something, chances are you won’t succeed. Positive self-talk helps to boost your motivation and your attitude. Remind yourself that you’re trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle because you’re worth it. Positive words lead to positive actions!

Hitting a Slump – If you hit a slump, take the time to look over what you’ve written in your journal to remind yourself why you’ve made a commitment in the first place. Remember how good you feel after you’ve completed a workout.

Never Give Up! Regardless of how discouraged you become, the most important thing to remember and probably the most difficult, is to never give up. If you haven’t met your goals today, tomorrow is another day. It’s all about taking responsibility for your life. Your goals are only impossible if you aim too high.

There is obviously not a motivational solution. Motivation is something that has to come from deep within yourself. The next time you see a parking space close to the entrance or decide that taking the elevator is quicker than the stairs, reach deep down and find your inner motivation.

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”.