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.

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”.

A definite knockout

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Background: Elementary school teacher Tracy Zak dreamed of being thin her entire life. As a child, she was physically active and competitive, but lacked discipline to make healthy food choices. At 5 feet 6 inches tall she tipped the scales at 230 pounds. For those of you counting, that’s 47 percent body fat and a size 22. Though she had a strong passion for boxing and climbing, her weight kept her from fulfilling her interests.

The Challenge: After many attempts at dieting, at the age of 37 she made one final attempt to change her life. At first it was a struggle, but gradually she turned old bad habits into healthy good ones. Rather than going to fast food restaurants, she cooked for herself, learned portion control and set realistic goals. Because of bad knees, exercise became a challenge, but with determination nothing stopped her. “It hurts to workout, being obese,” she said. Yet she refused to give up. She pushed herself to the limit, exercised for 20 minutes and then soaked in an ice bath.

The Turning Point: Zak knew if she didn’t turn her life around, she would end up like her mother, who has type 2 diabetes. “I knew I was headed in that direction,” she explained. Two months into her journey, Zak participated in her first fitness challenge. Although she didn’t win, she entered a second challenge, became a champion, won $1,000 and went to NYC. Dropping 80 pounds in eight months, Zak now has a body fat percentage of 22 and is wearing a size 8.

Staying Motivated: Zak says that her students keep her motivated. “They are my biggest supporters,” she reports. “The boys think it’s cool that their teacher is into sports and likes boxing, and the girls have a good role model.” Zak also sports several tattoos to mark her accomplishments. “I did it for myself. You haven’t seen anything yet,” she says.

Goals: Her number-one goal for the future is to fight her first boxing match by the time she turns 41, and then open a fitness center and become a P.E. teacher. The sky is the limit for this champ.

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

Ann Blanton, writer, author, published, nonfiction, article, magazine, Fitness Plus, champ, 40, background, elementary, school, teacher, thin, life, child, physically, active, competitive,  healthy, food, choices, scale, pounds, percent, body, fat, boxing, climbing, weight, challenge, diet, struggle, habits, portion, control, realistic, goals, knees, exercise, obese, diabetes, journey, fitness, motivated, students, support, sports, role, model, tattoos, accomplishments, story, book, anthology, fiction, Heartscape

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

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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

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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”.

Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

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Trimming your midriff is only one of the rewards from eating this satisfying snack

Pecans are a rich-flavored, buttery treat containing very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol or sodium. According to the new dietary guidelines to help slim down your waistline, four or five weekly servings are recommended. Other ways pecans can benefit your health include boosting brainpower, lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. Let’s take a closer look at each health-promoting benefit.

Boosting brainpower

Pecans contain vitamin E — a natural antioxidant that provides primary elements for neurological protection. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that promote normal and healthy brain function. Researchers suggest regular consumption can protect against cell damage, enhance brainpower and help fight against diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Lowering cholesterol

The healthy, monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants found in this tasty nut could be just what the doctor ordered to help lower cholesterol. You don’t need to go nuts; you only need a handful to increase HDL, good cholesterol, while decreasing LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Controlling weight

Nuts have always been given a bad rap because of the high fat content, but studies show that the high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts can promote weight loss. Because they’re healthy fats, you’ll feel full longer and not be as tempted to reach for the unhealthy fats found in junk food.

Supports heart health

Heart disease is considered the number-one killer in the country. Nutrition research has discovered by eating one ounce of nuts on a daily basis, you’re less likely to have cardiovascular disease. This crunchy snack can help reduce blood clots that can often lead to fatal heart attacks, thus improving the health of the lining of the arteries. Although the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have proof that nuts reduce the risk of heart disease, they suggest the evidence to the food companies.

Now that you know all the benefits that this flavorful snack provides, go nuts for pecans. Grab a handful and reap the delicious benefits.

Nutritional facts and information – This healthy nut provides more than 19 vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc and several of the B vitamins. Calories per serving size for 20 halves are 196; total fat is 20.4 grams. A serving has zero carbohydrates, no cholesterol or sodium and 2.6 grams of protein.

Pecans are no longer just for baking pies and cakes. You can add pecans to any of your favorite breads, casseroles and salads. The next time you make pancakes, toss in a few pecans for an additional fabulous flavor.

If you’re looking for a new pecan recipe to start your day, here’s one you’re sure to enjoy.

Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

1 and 1/4 cups wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat bran

2 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 and /2 cups fat-free milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, bran and  baking powder. Using another bowl, combine the egg, egg white, milk and oil; add to the dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.

Add mixture into a pre-heated waffle iron until golden brown.

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

Gym Equipment

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NEW BODY, NEW MIND, NEW YOU-TIPS FOR JOINING A GYM

Have you made a resolution to join a gym, but your busy lifestyle has kept you from achieving your goal. Maybe you’re running around with the kids and by the end of the day you’re too exhausted to work out. Reality finally sets in when you step on the scale and watch as the numbers go up. Sound familiar? Just because you put the kids first, doesn’t mean your health should come last.

Eventually you begin to consider the alternatives and start to put things into perspective. Perhaps you’ve never joined a gym, you’re afraid to commit and don’t know what to expect or where to begin. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help get your started.

Check with your physician – If you’ve never exercised before, it’s probably a good idea to check with your health care professional before beginning any type of activity. Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health, you’re all set and ready to begin.

Do your research – It’s usually  good idea to ask around. If you have family and friends who belong to a gym, ask them for recommendations for facilities that would best fit your needs.

You might also look in your local phone directory for gyms that are close by make a few calls and visit the locations. When checking out nearby fitness centers, make sure they meet up to your standards. You might even decide to talk to an expert and let them walk through the motions. Find out what they offer; what classes are best for beginners and if they provide childcare. Some places have day care services available if you sign up for a membership. If you’re not ready to become a member, a small fee might be included.

What to wear– Most experts will advise you to wear lose fitting garments like shorts and t-shirts, sweats or leotards.

Proper footwear – There are many different types of athletic shoes for most sporting activities, so depending on what you sign up for will determine your needs. If you’re not certain what activities you’ll take part in, cross trainers will most likely be your best option. Always try them on, walk around and make sure they don’t lip up and down. The last thing you need are blisters on your feet. Selecting a good pair of shoes will help your overall performance and prevent injury.

Socks are important too – Choosing the proper fitness socks are just as important as your sneakers. Look for something in the lightweight category. This type of sock will keep your feet dry, prevent odor and free from blisters.

Lockers – Every new client is assigned to their own locker. Towels for shower use are also available. Although lockers are free, you might need to supply your own lock.

Now that you’ve done your research and have learned the basics, here are a few exercise ideas to help you get started.

Activities for beginners – Aerobics for beginners consist of basic, low impact cardio moves with a simple core routine and abdominal conditioning.

Pilates for beginners – This includes an introduction to Pilates, techniques in relaxation, core strength and posture.

Body blitz – This incorporates simple aerobic moves and body conditioning. When your body becomes strong and fit, you can add moderate to high intensity workouts and include strength training with weights.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. If you’re interested, here’s the link 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”.

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Let’s take a walk

by Ann Blanton

Walking is the easiest and least expensive way to get where you’re going, especially with the price of fuel on the rise. The biggest challenge is to make a commitment and stick with it, so let’s put those hard earned dollars back in our pocket, tie up those sneakers and let’s get moving.

Sedentary Lifestyle

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and have no physical movement, you’re at a higher risk for cancer. This is because inactivity or sitting for long periods of time are linked to increased inflammation and other statistics for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some studies show that walking daily can decrease the risks of developing cancer significantly. 

Benefits

The benefits of walking are endless. Not only does it lower the risk of most diseases, it also gives you more energy, lifts your mood and boosts your immune system.

Let’s take a look at other advantages that walking provides.

  1. Reduces the risk of coronary disease and stroke
  2. Lowers  blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
  3. Increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis
  4. Improves physical and mental well-being

Walking for fitness can vary according to an individual’s age and level of activity. Typically, a brisk walk is best. A simple way to learn to walk briskly is by taking the “talk test”. This means to walk as fast as you can while carrying on a conversation without becoming out of breath. Depending on your fitness level, this might take a few weeks to achieve.

General Health and Longevity

Because walking helps to strengthen your bones, joints have a better range of movement and muscles are more flexible.

Weight Control

It’s recommended to walk briskly at least three times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes if you want to lose weight. For more experienced walkers, a maximum of five days a week for sixty minutes is advisable. Maintaining your weight and fitness level can be accomplished by walking three to four days a week for forty-five minutes.

Tip:

To burn even more calories, don’t forget to swing your arms.

Mental Health

Walking is man’s best medicine! If you’re feeling down, walking can ease the burden and lift your mood. When endorphins are released into the body during activity, it alleviates pain and creates a sense of well-being.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

If walking is something you’re serious about, it’s important to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. If you neglect your feet, you’ll feel discomfort and make it more difficult to walk.

Begin slowly

When beginning a walking program, don’t set unreasonable expectations. Beginners should start slowly and walk every other day. When you begin to feel stronger, than add an extra day or two into your routine. If you can’t walk for long periods of time, don’t get discouraged. As you become more advanced, your distance will gradually increase.

Pick a time and place

Decide what time works best for you. Some people find it enjoyable to walk early in the morning, while others find it a way to relax at the end of a long day. What works best for you? 

Choose a familiar place

It could be something as simple as a walk around the block, a nearby park or a walking path. It’s important to “shake” things up a bit once you’ve become comfortable with your routine. To prevent boredom, you might vary your routine by choosing different places or directions to walk.

Have a  back- up plan   

What do you do when the weather doesn’t permit you to walk outdoors? If it isn’t life threatening, you beat the bad weather, dress accordingly and brave the elements.  What’s your back-up plan?

Stretch before and after

This is important to prevent injury and soreness. It also helps to tone your muscles. Plus, it limbers and conditions the muscles to be long, lean and strong. Conditioned muscles helps you to handle exercise better.

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