Tag Archives: cancer

6 Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

mediterranean_diet2-300x236If you’re looking for a healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet may be a good option for you. While this type of approach has many benefits, there are also several misconceptions about this healthy lifestyle.

First, let’s debunk the myths about the Mediterranean diet:

Myth 1: This diet is expensive.
The fact is the Mediterranean diet is less expensive than eating dishes of meat, cheese and processed foods. You’ll be creating meals of beans or lentils, as a source of protein, and eating more plants and whole grains.

Myth 2: Wine is always healthy.
Wine is good for your heart in moderation. For example, one glass a day for women and two for men. More than two glasses of wine can actually be bad for your heart.

Myth 3: You can eat all the pasta and bread you want.
Mediterraneans don’t eat heaping plates of pasta the way Americans do. Pasta is typically a side dish with only a 1/2 cup or 1 cup serving size. The rest of their plate contains salad, vegetables and a small portion of meat.

Myth 4: You’ll lose weight on this diet.
This diet alone may not lead to weight loss. The people of the Greek islands also include exercise in their daily lives, by walking up and down steep hills, tending gardens and living off what they can grow themselves.

Myth 5: The diet is only about food.
The Mediterranean diet has more to do with how the people live their lives. They sit down for meals, relax and eat leisurely while enjoying the meal with others. This approach to food may be as important to your health as what’s on your plate.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eating plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry twice a week or more
  • Drinking red wine in moderation

Here are 6 health benefits of eating in a Mediterranean style:

Prevent heart disease and stroke
One of the main reasons to follow a Mediterranean diet is to promote heart health. Refined breads, processed foods and red meat are discouraged. In addition, red wine is better for your heart than hard liquor.

Protect against type 2 diabetes
Rich in fiber, the Mediterranean diet slows down digestion and prevents huge swings in blood sugar. The diet also includes less sugar than the typical American diet.

Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers believe the Mediterranean diet may improve cholesterol, blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health. All of these factors may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Halve the risk of Parkinson’s disease
The risk of Parkinson’s disease can practically be cut in half. That’s because this diet contains high levels of antioxidants that prevent cells from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress.

Live longer
With a reduction in developing heart disease as well as cancer, there is a 20 percent reduction in the risk of death at any age.

Stay agile
The nutrients gained with a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty as we age by 70 percent.

While the Mediterranean diet may seem like a daunting change, it can be easier to adopt than you think. It follows the common sense approach to incorporating balance into your diet, by including lots of vegetables and fruits, cutting down on meat and eating more fish, chicken and good fats. You should also include physical activity and enjoy your meals with family and friends.

13 foods for fighting cancer

foods that fight cancerThis year, two of my friends have battled cancer. One friend is doing well, and the other passed away. I lost all four of my grandparents to cancer. I guess you could say cancer has been on my mind lately. I have been doing some research into how to prevent and fight cancer.

Do you know the best way to reduce your risk of cancer? Eat a healthy diet.

Experts recommend a plant-based diet. That means eating mostly foods that come from plants, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and beans. Lifestyle choices, bad eating habits and obesity may increase our risk of cancer more than our genetics.

To me, that’s important. By living a more balanced life, including eating a more healthy diet, exercising, getting enough sleep and managing stress, I may be able to fight my chances of having cancer. That sounds good to me!

While researching, these are the top 13 foods that I found were recommended the most often:

cabbage cruciferous vegetableCruciferous vegetables
I will be honest. I didn’t know what cruciferous meant. I had to look it up. Cruciferous means belonging to the plant family Cruciferae, which is basically known as the cabbage family. Examples of these types of vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. And they all contain phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber that are important to your health. They can also help lower your risks of getting cancer.

It’s important to include a variety of all vegetables in your diet. For instance, carrots and sweet potatoes contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce the chances of many types of cancers.

Dark greens
Dark greens, such as spinach, romaine lettuce, beets and red cabbage, provide fiber, folate and other cancer-fighting carotenoids.

Grapes and red wine
Red grapes contain bioflavonoids that work as powerful antioxidants to help prevent cancer. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which can inhibit cancer cell growth. Red wine has antioxidants known as polyphenols that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals.

Citrus fruits
Eating more fruits is also good for your health. For one thing, if you’re eating fruit it means you may be passing up less healthy choices made up of sugar and refined flours. (Yes, that means cookies, cake, donuts, etc.) Fruits also provide cancer-fighting benefits. For instance, citrus fruits – such as grapefruits, oranges and lemons – contain monoterpenes. It is believed that monoterpenes sweep carcinogens out of the body to help prevent cancer.

Berries prevent cancerBerries
All berries are packed with cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Black raspberries have high concentrations of anthocyanins, which help slow down the growth of premalignant cells. Blueberries have also been shown to have many health benefits.

Once again, all fruits are a great addition to your diet. Eat more apples, pears, peaches, plums, pineapples, pomegranates, strawberries, blackberries, red raspberries, bananas, papayas, or any other fruits you like.

Avocados
Avocados are rich in glutathione – another antioxidant that attacks free radicals. They also have potassium and beta-carotene.

Nuts
A handful of walnuts a day can help reduce your risk of cancer. However, all nuts – including peanuts, almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts – make a good snack.

Fish
The omega-3 oils in wild salmon can dramatically reduce your cancer risk. Seafood, such as salmon, cod and shrimp, also have a high concentration of vitamin D.

Flaxseed
Flax contains lignans, which may act as an antioxidant and help block cancerous changes in your cells. Flax also gives you essential fatty acids and other good fats.

Soy products
Soy milk and tofu contain phytoestrogens. These substances help block and suppress cancerous changes.

Garlic and onions fight cancerGarlic
Garlic – as well as onions, leeks, shallots and chives – has many anti-cancer substances. In particular, allicin appears to help break down cancer causing substances and enhance immunity to fight cancer.

Green tea
You’ve probably already heard that green tea offers many health benefits. The antioxidants in green and black tea appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene. Studies have shown that lycopene stops cancer cell growth. Tomatoes also have vitamin C which has been shown to prevent cellular damage that can lead to cancer.

I admit that I would rather grab a cookie or a fudge round than eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans. But as I work at finding more balance in my life, I am noticing time and again that eating a more balanced diet of healthy foods can have a huge impact on all aspects of my life.

14 secrets to living longer

living longerMy husband and I have very different views on aging. He wants to live as long as possible – on the condition that he is in good health. He has made it clear to me that if he were on life support and there was no chance of regaining quality of life, he wants me to pull the plug.

I, on the other hand, want to live forever. Since that’s not possible, I at least want to live to 100. I have told him he is – under no circumstances – to pull the plug. I could be one of those miraculous survivors who beat the odds.

I know this is a rather morbid subject, but if you are like me and want to live your longest life, you want to know what you can do to make it to 100. After reviewing studies, research and even tips from centenarians, here are some secrets to longevity:

Be conscientious
Having a conscientious personality and attributes like attention to detail and persistence may help you live longer. Studies have shown that conscientious people do more things to protect their health  – such as exercise, eat healthy and avoid bad habits – and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.

Make friends
Be grateful for your friends. As we mentioned in our blog, 7 Reasons We Need Friends, your friends may help you live longer. But, be picky. You want to have friends with good habits, such as exercising and healthy eating. Otherwise, a friend’s bad habits, like smoking or overeating, can rub off on you.

Take naps
This may be one of my favorite secrets on the list. I now have permission to take naps! There’s scientific evidence that napping may help increase longevity. A recent study suggests that by taking naps you are 37% less likely to die from heart disease. So, go take a siesta!

Get married
There is some debate about whether being married will help you live longer, but having a partner in life may have its benefits. With marriage, you have a friend and your own support system. In addition, being married may mean you are more financially stable, which can make you feel more secure and give you more opportunities to do things you enjoy.

Eat a Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and fish. Studies have shown that this type of diet can help reduce obesity, lower blood sugar, decrease blood pressure, and help lower your chances of heart disease and diabetes.

Lose weight
Belly fat seems to be particularly bad for your health and longevity. So, work on slimming down and deflating the spare tire. The health benefits can include protecting against diabetes, heart disease and other life-shortening conditions. One way to lose weight is to eat less. Stop eating when you’re 80% full. Eat less meat and eat twice as many fruits and vegetables. We know we need to eat better, so add living longer to the reasons you should adopt a healthy diet.

Keep moving
According to studies, regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer and depression. Exercise may even help you stay mentally sharp as you age. You should aim for 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week. You can break that down to 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Even if you can only get in 10 minutes at a time, it all adds up to increase your lifespan. Here are some tips to Get Motivated to Exercise in 2013.

Drink in moderation
Yes, heart disease is less common in people who have a drink or two a day than those who don’t drink at all. However, you need to remember that alcohol is also empty calories that add to that belly bulge. The American Heart Association recommends that if you drink alcohol, the limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. If you don’t drink currently, you shouldn’t start.

Quit smoking
We all know that smoking is bad for your health. Not only is there a greater risk of cancer, you’re also taking years off of your life. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to quit smoking.

Have faith
Having faith seems to help you live longer. By having strong spiritual beliefs, you are able to better deal with stress and difficult times. It may also offer protection against heart, respiratory and digestive problems. In addition, the strong social network that you create when you worship with others may contribute to overall health.

Manage stress
We always hear that stress is bad for you, but moderate stress can be a good thing. It means you are probably busy, active and involved. Rather than being sedentary and ambivalent, you are persistent and dedicated to getting things done. However, too much stress can be harmful if it causes anxiety, insomnia or digestive issues. Are you too stressed? Read our blog Do You Have Chronic Stress? 6 Major Signs.

Sleep more
As you may have read in our blog, 10 Reasons Get More Sleep, getting plenty of rest can help you fight disease, lose weight, look better and build your brain. Getting enough good quality sleep can even lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and mood disorders. Sleep will also help you recover from illness faster.

Offer forgiveness
Just let it go. Offering forgiveness has surprising physical health benefits. Forgiveness can help you reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and help you to breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as you get older.

Have a sense of purpose
There is something to doing what you love. We all have days when we need a reason to get out of bed. Having a sense of purpose leads to a higher quality of life. You may love your work and look forward to it every day. You may have hobbies and activities that have meaning for you. You may find that volunteering makes you feel fulfilled. For more benefits of volunteering, see our blog, 5 Surprising Benefits of Giving Back. Basically, doing what you love may contribute to a longer life.

So, now you know what you need to do to live your longest life! Do you know someone who is 100 or older? What are their secrets to longevity?