Monday, June 30, 2008

The Effects of Fiber on Your Health

Just what is fiber and how does our health benefit from it? These days we are hearing a lot about the amount and kinds of fiber we are adding to our diet.

A very simple definition of fiber is that part of eaten plants which passes through our system without being digested. Fiber can be label as either soluble or insoluble. Our bodies benefit from both types and each type plays important roles in helping to keep our bodies healthy. Soluble Fiber is that part of the plant that is dissolved by water once we ingest it and insoluble fiber remains unchanged as it passes through our intestinal tract.

The benefits of fibers to our overall health are numerous and should not be overlooked. Soluble fiber has been found to lower cholesterol and helps to regulate glucose levels in the blood. This type of fiber can be found in whole grains (bran and oats), fruits (apples, prunes, pears), vegetables(broccoli, carrots), and legumes(peas, peanuts). Insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and has been linked to preventing the risk of colorectal cancer. Insoluble fiber can be found in brown rice, wheat bran, nuts, and seeds.

An additional benefit of fiber in women's diet is reducing the risk of breast cancer. Fiber helps to reduce the absorption of fat and therefor helps reduce the production of estrogen. Estrogen plays a role in the occurrence of some types of breast cancer.

While the recommended amount of daily fiber is 25-30 grams each day, the average American person only consumes half of this. We have increasingly become a society who eats whatever is put in front of us without thinking about a balanced diet. Some form of fiber should be included in each meal which we consume. For those who do not get enough fiber in your diet, supplements are available. These need to be natural supplements and any increase in daily fiber intake should be done gradually. Adding to much fiber at one time can lead to digestive problems, such as bloating and intestinal gas.

Note: In no way should this post replace medical advice from a physician.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eating Healthy Calories

How many calories are you burning?

We all know that in order to live a healthy life, we need to be aware of the kinds and amounts of calories we consume. In order for our body to function properly, we need calories. This is what helps to build and maintain the cells which make up our body. These cells also include fat cells. If we consume more calories than our body needs, we produce fat cells. When we exercise, our bodies will burn calories. If we are not exercising, our body will turn excess calories into fat.

Every time I hope on the treadmill or the statuary bike at the gym, I am looking at how many calories I am burning. I use this as a guide to help me plan which foods I am going to eat for the day. I know that keeping your weight in check is more complicated than the difference in calories consumed and calories burned. But this is a good encourager for me to stay out of the cookie jar. When I know how long it is going to take on the treadmill at the gym to burn up that one very delicious chocolate chip cookie, I more likely to dig for the will power to put it back.

While playing around on the Internet, I have found several sites which list calorie counters for both foods and exercise. I have put together a simple list of some basic forms of exercise for those who do not have access to gym equipment. I hope that this will help you track those calories you burn when performing any of these activities for 30 minutes. (Please keep in mind that these are average calories burned)

Frisbee - 85 calories
Bowling - 90 calories
Walking for pleasure - 99 calories
Ping Pong - 114 calories
Basketball - 128 calories
Calisthenics- 128 calories
Bicycling - 144 calories
Soccer - 199 calories
Jump Rope - 227 calories
Tennis - 227 calories

As you can see, some very basic forms of fun can be great at burning up the calories. There is no expensive equipment involved and these are some ways to get the entire family moving together.

Just to give you an ideal of how quickly our calorie intake can add up in a single day, I have given you a list of basic impulse foods with their calorie content.

3 Oreo Cookies - 160 calories
1 slice pepperoni pizza - 181 calories
4 oz. Chocolate Ice cream - 145 calories
20 Potato Chips - 150 calories
1 Soft Shell Taco - 210 calories
1 small Fries - 230 calories
1 Fast Food Cheese Burger - 350 calories

When looking at the two above list, I ask you "Are those potato chips worth it". Skip the bad calories and look for the healthy alternatives. Challenge yourself to a healthy eating style. Look to see where you can make positive changes to improve your health.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Are You Living Stress Free?

Meeting job deadlines, completing that volunteer commitment, a child needs to be picked or delivered. Does this sound like you life? There are times when I do not even realize just how stressed I am until I have a moment to slow down and think. We move along thinking that we are doing great budgeting our time, until "bahm" we hit the wall. Suddenly, nothing is working the way it should. The house is a wreck, take-out has become the norm, your kids are waiting to be picked up, things are being left undone with your work, and you have a committee meeting tonight. Sound familiar? How do you re-gain control of your life?

It is time to step back and look at your life. When this happen in my life, first I look to see what I am doing which is not necessary. I have learned to say "no" to volunteer work. There are times when I know that I am not the best person for the job. When asked, if I cannot commit the needed time to do a through job, I graciously turn down the opportunity. If possible, I recommend someone else. I have found that being a volunteer means that you do not have to always say yes.

At other times of stress, I have found that getting back to an exercise routine helps to get the levels of stress down. We all know that exercise is not only good for keeping the extra weight off, but research has shown that reduced stress levels are good for the heart and blood pressure. I have found that just taking a walk around the neighborhood will do wonders for my outlook on my life. If something is worrying me, after a walk, I can focus on the problem and find a solution.

A healthy body can deal with stress much better than a run down fatigued body. You cannot make day to day decisions when you are tired. Getting 8 hours of sleep at night keeps you rested and able to focus on your day. It is much easier to stay relaxed in tense situations, if you are not already tired from lack of sleep. Eating a healthy diet and regular meals give your body the needed energy to function properly. It always seems that it is much easier to become ill when you are under a lot of stress. Most times this is due to the fact that you body is not being nourished properly. Our mothers have always told us to eat breakfast. They new what they were talking about. Your day is being built on the very important meal. Don't skip it.

Take time for yourself. Remember, you cannot help others if you do not help yourself. Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour a day to do something you enjoy. Yoga, listening to music, chat with a friend, or read a fun book. Whatever it is that you enjoy, take the time to enjoy it.

Go today and start your stress free life!!