Tag Archives: live longer

8 Myths and Facts About Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits-and-VegetablesWe all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. However, you’ve probably heard some things about fruits and veggies that are touted as facts but aren’t necessarily entirely true. Many rumors were started when low-carb diets became the latest trend. The natural “sugar” in fruit and the starch in potatoes also got a bad rap.

Here are some of the common myths about fruits and vegetables, as well as the facts you should know:

Myth 1: Fresh is best
Many people believe that only fresh fruits and vegetables count toward your daily intake. In fact, all fresh, dried, and frozen fruits and veggies can be used to make up your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. All forms are full of essential nutrients. The most important thing is that you eat them!

Myth 2: Juice is bad
Consuming 100% juice is nutritious for you and an easy way to add fruits and veggies to your healthy diet. However, drinking all your fruits and veggies doesn’t cut it. You should mix in other sources fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Myth 3: Organic is more nutritious
In fact, there is no proof that organic fruits and vegetables are more nutritious for you than traditionally harvested fruits and vegetables. If you are concerned about consuming pesticides, the risk associated with consuming them is far less than the risk of not eating enough fruits and veggies.

Myth 4: Potatoes are fattening
When potatoes are dripping with butter, bacon and high-fat cheese or deep-fried, then they are full of calories, fat and cholesterol. A plain medium potato can actually help with weight loss. Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, B6 and fiber. And, potatoes have more potassium  than bananas.

Myth 5: Colorful fruits and veggies are better
In general this is a good rule to follow, but white foods have appealing nutritional values, too. Cauliflower is full of antioxidants, vitamin C and folate. Mushrooms and cabbage also provide many vitamins and minerals.

Myth 6: Vegetarian diets are lacking
Research has shown that vegetarian diets and lifestyles can lead to maintaining optimal health and having a longer life expectancy. The key to a healthy diet is providing your body with a balanced amount of nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Myth 7: Sugar in fruits is bad
Fruits do contain sugar, but this is different than the added sugar in many of our processed foods. Added sugar lacks the multiple health benefits of fruits, such as phenols, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Myth 8: Fruits and veggies are expensive
Even on a budget, you can include fruits and vegetables in your regular diet. You may even find that buying fruits and veggies is less expensive that some of the more processed foods that come in boxes and packages.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, what matters most is MORE. Americans overall are not eating enough fruits and veggies, and studies are showing they have an even greater role in human health than we once believed. Enjoy your fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow every day!

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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.

11 Exercise Benefits You Don’t See

exerciseWhat’s the most common reason why people exercise? To lose weight. Yet, physical activity provides so many more benefits. Do you want to feel better? Need more energy? Want to live longer? Then get out there and get moving!

Here are 11 important benefits to exercising that you don’t see:

Improved mood
If you’re in a bad mood or have had a stressful day, you can blow off some steam by going for a brisk 30-minute walk or working out at the gym. Exercise stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about yourself because you fit a workout into your day.

Energy boost
When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is move. Yet, when you use energy to exercise, it gives you an energy boost. By exercising more regularly, you may also be able to eliminate fatigue and find that you have a lot more pep.

More confidence
Working out can make you look better on the outside. It can also make you feel better on the inside. Exercising can make you feel more empowered and boost your self-esteem. You feel ready to conquer anything.

Sleep better
We need our beauty rest so that our bodies can recover, repair damage, renew energy and clear the mind. Exercise is an all-natural sleep aid. People who exercise regularly have less insomnia and a higher quality of sleep.

Reduce stress
Exercise calms your body and your brain. After you work out, the levels of stress hormones – such as adrenaline and cortisol – drop. Especially after aerobic exercise, stress and anxiety melt away. You may also be able to cope more easily with stress when you feel confident about yourself.

Pump up your heart
If high blood pressure and heart disease run in your family, exercise can help you strengthen your heart. Being active boosts HDL or “good cholesterol” and lowers unhealthy triglycerides. Physical activity keeps your blood flowing and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Combat disease
In addition to giving you a healthy heart, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems. Do you have a family history of certain types of diseases? Get moving and reduce your risk of stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

Relieve arthritis pain
Regular exercise can help ease your pain if you have arthritis. It can make your daily activities easier. Consider non-impact exercises like swimming. These types of exercises can be easier on your joints.

Strengthen bones
It’s important to keep our bones and muscles strong as we get older. Weight-bearing exercise, such as weight-lifting, walking, tennis and dancing, can help you strengthen and build bones. It can also help ward off osteoporosis and improve balance and coordination.

Look younger
People who work out often look younger than their friends. Now research has found that exercisers are truly younger on a cellular level than their peers. Exercise more and feel free to lie about your age!

Live longer
In addition to looking younger, regular exercise can add years to your life. You don’t have to be a hard-core fitness buff. Just get up and get moving. Even a little exercise can help you live longer than not exercising at all.

The bottom line: exercise is a great way to feel better, gain confidence, combat disease and improve chronic health conditions. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. So get moving!

11 Foods To Help You Live Longer

senior-with-redwine-943080-mI am obsessed with living longer. I want to live to be over 100 years old. However, I also want to be a healthy centenarian.

I have been reading that more and more research shows what we eat can influence how long we live. What works for weight loss can also help slow the aging process. That’s because what you’re eating affects your waistline, the condition of your heart and even how long you live.

So, take a good look at your pantry and see if you’re eating for longevity. Here are 11 foods that science proves will help you live longer:

Green tea
The world’s second most popular beverage can reduce the risk of death by up to 26% if you consume several cups a day. In addition, it has the added benefits of reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Nuts
A study found that people who snack on a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who didn’t. Nuts are packed with cholesterol-free protein and other nutrients. Almonds have vitamin E, which protects the body from cell damage and boosts the immune system. Pecans have antioxidants and walnuts are good for your cholesterol.

Fish
Fish has been called brain food because it has fatty acids, DHA and EPA – all are important to brain and nervous system development. The Omega-3 fats found in seafood or fatty fish can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Berries
Berries are a great source of antioxidants. Blueberries, strawberries and acai berries are a source of polyphenols, a powerful compound that may help combat cancers and degenerative diseases of the brain. Cranberries may also help you live longer.

Fiber
Fiber may help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, prevent constipation and help digestion. Fiber also fills you up so that you can eat less. Beans are fiber-rich and can be eaten three or four times a week. Fruits and vegetables can also add fiber to your diet.

Vegetables
Veggies contain phytonutrients and loads of vitamins and minerals that may protect you from diseases. Dark, leafy greens have vitamin K that builds strong bones. Sweet potatoes and carrots contain vitamin A – good for your eyes, healthy skin and protects against infection. Tomatoes or tomato products may help prevent cancer.

Protein
Protein provides essential building blocks for daily repair of your cells. It’s critical to your health and vitality, especially as you get older. You can add protein to your diet with lean meat, fish, seafood, beans, low-fat dairy and eggs.

Healthy fats
You’ve probably heard about the Mediterranean diet. But what you may not know is the heart-healthy diet has been shown to increase the lifespan of elderly people by about 20 percent. The diet encourages eating healthy fats, like olive oil, as well as vegetables and whole grains.

Whole grains
Eating whole grains can reduce your risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Choose whole-grain breads and pastas, as well as brown or wild rice, instead of white options. Whole grains are less processed and retain more of the nutritional value. Whole grains also add fiber.

Dairy
Drinking vitamin D-fortified beverages like milk can help increase your calcium absorption. That’s important for bone health. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Eating yogurt can also give you the benefits of dairy and aid in digestion.

Red wine
Just a half a glass of wine a day can help you live longer. Research found that light wine drinkers lived up to five years longer than those who did not drink wine at all. Red wine is rich in antioxidants that help protect against heart disease.

Eat these super-foods to help increase your lifespan and improve your quality of life. By incorporating a balanced diet into your daily life, you can fight off some of today’s most life-threatening diseases and live longer!

10 Health Benefits of Smiling

laughter-1120282-mDo you ever catch yourself scowling or frowning? When I am stressed, feeling overwhelmed or just in a bad mood, I notice that I tend to have a sour look on my face. I seem to spend a lot of time in a mood – and it most likely isn’t a good one.

We recently wrote a blog called the 9 Truths About Your Mood. While external factors may impact your mood, you have the power to control how you react to them. You can choose to have a positive attitude.

Even if you don’t feel like it, try smiling. You can smile for your health, to reduce stress and to look and feel better.

Here are 10 reasons to simply smile:

Lower your heart rate
Smiling slows down your heart rate and helps relax your body. That means your heart isn’t working as hard. Smiling also reduces your blood pressure temporarily.

Reduce stress and anxiety
Stress can show up on your face. You can usually tell when someone is upset or anxious. Stress relief may be as easy as smiling a little more throughout the day. You also look more relaxed and energized.

Release endorphins
Smiling releases endorphins that counteract and lower stress hormones. Endorphins can improve your mood. When you’re feeling down, put a smile on your face. Even if it’s not genuine at first, you can trick your body into helping change your mood.

Be more attractive
A smile makes you more attractive. You look friendly, personable and approachable. Someone is more likely to start a conversation with you if you’re smiling.

Make friends
If you want to make friends or attract the opposite sex, try a smile. Studies show that people are more willing to approach and talk to others who are smiling. A smile tells people you want to interact with them.

Strengthen your immune system
Smiling makes your immune system function better. Your immune system becomes stronger by making your body produce white blood cells that fight illness. You may be able to prevent colds and the flu by smiling.

Build confidence
If you’re feeling nervous or worried, put on a smile. You will appear more confident, and in turn, you will feel more confident. If you’re going to a meeting or appointment, people will perceive you as calm and collected and react to you differently when you smile.

Increase productivity
There may be some truth in the “whistle while you work” concept. Smiling has been shown to increase productivity while you’re performing a task. Having personal items that make you smile in your workspace may motivate you to work harder.

Look younger
When you smile, you use muscles that lift your face and help you appear younger. Studies show a smile can make you look three years younger on average. Smile your way through the day, and you’ll look younger while improving your mood.

Live longer
Smiling can extend past how you look on the outside. People who smile more may even live longer. Studies have shown that those who spend more time smiling may live up to 7 years longer. Smiling releases stress, improves your heart and boosts immunity – all of which keep you healthy longer.

So, make it a habit to smile throughout the day, even when you may not feel like it. You can improve your mood and your health. Plus, smiles are contagious – you can lift someone else’s spirits, too!

8 Tips to Prevent the Effects of Aging

hands-833821-mAs I notice more gray hairs and wrinkles, I worry about getting older. I recently glanced at myself when I passed a mirror and realized I could see a resemblance to my grandma. When did I get that old?

Aging is unavoidable. As morbid as it sounds, we are in the process of dying from the day we are born. Our genes are just not equipped to keep our bodies alive forever. One theory is that our ancestors lived short, dangerous lives. They passed on their genes to their children when they were young and fit. As a part of natural selection, the genes that counter the effects of aging were not all that important.

Even just a century ago, life spans were around 50 years. Today, the average life span has risen to over 77 years for men and almost 82 for women. Modern medicine and better healthcare have extended our lives, but aging is still inevitable.

First, let’s take a look at the common changes that are a normal part of the aging process.

Thinning hair and skin
Some of the first changes you may notice as you age happens with your hair and skin. Your hair turns gray, becomes more porous and starts to thin. Your skin loses its elasticity and becomes thin. Lines become more pronounced and muscles lose flexibility.

Shrinking bones and muscles
With age, your bones shrink in size and density. They become more weak and susceptible to fracture. You might get shorter. Muscles also lose strength and flexibility, and you may have trouble balancing.

Heart issues
Your heart rate slows down and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and arteries become stiffer. Your heart has to pump harder to move blood through your body.

Failing eyes and ears
Your eyes produce fewer tears, the retina thins and the iris stiffens making the lens of your eye cloudy. At the same time, the walls of your auditory canal thins and the eardrum thickens. You may gradually experience hearing loss.

Slow digestion
The entire process of digestion slows down as we age. Your intestinal function diminishes causing digestion to slow down and bowel function to change. The muscles around the esophagus weaken. You may start to experience more acid reflux. Even your teeth shifting as you age can affect digestion.

Decreased metabolism
Your metabolism will slow down as you age, leading to weight gain and sluggishness. You may feel tired more quickly. Your body just isn’t as efficient at breaking down and using calories as it once was.

Memory problems
After about 30, your brain begins to lose neurons. As we age, the speed at which we process information slows down. Also, certain types of memory start to decline. For instance, you may have trouble recalling names or thinking of a particular word. But this has nothing to do with your ability to think or your normal mental functioning.

So, now that you’re completely freaked out by the process of aging, what can you do to prevent or slow down the affects of aging? Can you be doing more to live a long, healthy life? The answer is “Yes.”

Here are 8 tips for preventing or diminishing the effects of aging:

Get moving
We often talked about the importance of exercise in this blog. Cardiovascular exercise combined with strength training will rev up your metabolism and build muscle. You will control your weight and move more easily. Keeping the weight down can help stave off a whole host of chronic health problems and diseases.

Make healthy food choices
Nourish your body from the inside out. Get your nutrition from the kitchen rather than a pill. You need to eat fruits and vegetables every day to give you the antioxidants you need to fight disease. Good nutrition also aids in digestion and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Drink water
Get six to eight glasses of water a day. When you feel thirsty, your cells are actually crying out for water. Your skin, bones, muscles, kidneys, digestion, metabolism and heart all depend on water to function properly.

Laugh
Laughing releases “feel good” endorphins that help boost immunity and reduce stress levels. Boisterous laughter expands blood vessels and improves blood flow. Laughing can improve your mood and overall outlook on life.

Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is extremely important to your overall well-being. Lack of sleep can make your more hungry, add to your stress and slow down your metabolism. A good night’s sleep can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day. It can also improve your health and promote longevity.

Manage stress
Chronic stress can take a toll on your body as well as your mind and soul. It can impact your mood and relationships. Stress can be harmful to your heart and your health in general. When you’re stressed, you are less likely to stick to your healthy habits.

Be social
Spending time with friends and family can help ward off depression and stress. You are more likely to laugh and enjoy yourself. We need relationships to find balance, stay more physically active and stimulate our brains.

Sharpen the mind
Just like keeping your body active, it’s important to stimulate your mind. Read, work crossword puzzles, find new interests and hobbies or write in a journal. Your mind needs a good workout every day, too.

You have a choice in how your body ages. By adopting habits that lead to a more balanced life, you can have an impact on the aging process. Continue to make gradual changes until they become part of your lifestyle. You can create a healthier, longer life!

12 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

jogger-657075-mI know I should be exercising. I know it’s important to good health. I know it will help me find better life balance. Yet, I manage to make excuses and find reasons why I can’t fit a workout into my daily routine.

So, if you’re like me and need more motivation to just get moving, here are 12 unexpected benefits and rewards of exercise:

Reverse the effects of stress
You probably already know that physical activity is a stress buster. What you may not realize is that you are actually reducing stress levels. That’s because when you workout you reduce the levels of stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – in your body. You can calm your body and your mind to help you get in the right mindset to identify and tackle what’s causing your stress.

Release happy chemicals
Working out can help boost your mood. Exercise releases endorphins that help create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies show that exercise can even alleviate the symptoms of someone who is clinically depressed. In some cases, working out may be as effective as antidepressant pills.

Build self-esteem and confidence
Physical fitness can boost your self-esteem and improve your self-image. It’s not about age, weight or size – exercise can help elevate your perception of your attractiveness and self worth. You can also feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish a challenging workout or reach a difficult goal.

Alleviate anxiety
You might be surprised to learn that jogging can be more relaxing than a warm bubble bath. Getting on the track or treadmill for some aerobic exercise can help reduce sensitivity and anxiety.

Live longer
Research shows that regular exercise can add years to your life. Working out and being active can lower your risk of early death by 30%. We’re not talking extreme – just a little exercise can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Sleep better
Regular exercise may help you enjoy a good night’s sleep. Try walking, running, biking or strength training during the mid morning or early afternoon to promote better sleep. Avoid evening workouts because they may interfere with sleep patterns.

Boost your brain power
Exercise can make you smarter. A study has shown that mental agility improves when testing is conducted on a treadmill. When you’re physically active, more blood flows through all parts of your body, including your brain. Cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

Get more done
Sitting on the couch or at your desk and feeling uninspired? Research shows that taking the time to exercise on a regular basis can increase productivity and leave you feeling more energized. Getting in a workout during the workday seems to benefit your health, mood, efficiency and even relationships.

Strengthen your bones
Your bones and muscles get stronger with physical activity. Weight bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing, tennis and running, can help lower your risk of osteoarthritis, help you maintain balance, and improve coordination.

Ward off illness
Many health experts feel that one of the most important habits you can adopt for good health is regular physical activity. Exercise may help prevent a variety of ailments from heart disease and diabetes to breast cancer and the common cold. A 30 to 45 minute walk every day can boost your immune system and help you lower your risk of chronic disease.

Be more creative
Vigorous exercise that gets the heart pumping can help boost creativity for up to two hours after you’ve finished. Physical activity can free your mind from your worries and help you let the creative juices flow. If you’re blocked at work, take a walk outside, get some fresh air and let your mind wander. You can free up your mind and refresh your brain.

Keep Alzheimer’s at bay
In addition to improving brain power and learning, exercise may also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Working out can boost brain chemicals that support and prevent the degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. A daily walk or jog can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s or even slow its affects once it’s begun.

Working out can have positive benefits beyond the gym. You can improve your mood, boost your self confidence, get more creative and increase your life span. Those are all good reasons to step away from the computer and get moving!