Monday, 19 November 2007

Living with lowered blood pressure be eating 'no salt added' foods

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Want to lower your blood pressure? Seek out reduced-sodium and low-salt foods and avoid using table salt on everything you eat to liven up the taste.

That, according to new study findings. High salt intake has long been connected to a rise in blood pressure, and the study suggested avoiding pre-salted foods and not adding salt to foods. In a world where all talbes have salt and pepper shakers, that is a toughie, yes?

That sounds pretty easy, until you realize just how bland most foods can be. Try this: use pepper, spices and garlic in place of salt. You'll get the taste and in most cases, almost no sodium!

Students eating better and moving more

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Soccer snack grouch here. But this time I'm not griping about the nutritiously poor, often unnecessary soccer snacks tossed to young kids after the game. Today I'm celebrating the creative nutritional overhauls and exercise programs being implemented by many public schools across the country.

Check out these inspiring, real-life School Success Stories highlighted on the Alliance For A Healthier Generation's (AHG) website. AHG is a partnership between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to fight childhood obesity. Here is a sampling of bright ideas:

  • Miami Springs Middle School renegotiated their beverage contracts to align with the beverage guidelines outlined by AHG. They serve a green vegetable with all starch entrees (salad with pizza), and that pizza crust is whole wheat, as well as the only cookies served -- whole wheat oatmeal raisin cookies. Breakfast offers low-sugar cereals and low fat milk. A before school walking club and a new focus on lunchtime free play are also sparking active kids.
  • Waubun Secondary School strategically raised the price of candy bars to $1.25 in their school store, eliminated many other unhealthy snacks and added taste-tested/student-approved yogurt, 100-calorie packs and string cheese at a significantly lower price of $.40. With these simple pricing and stock changes, sales of candy bars have gone down, healthier options have risen and here's the key -- overall store profits are up.
  • Delaware Valley Middle School started a 13-week mini-marathon. About 40 students, along with several staff, meet Tuesdays after school to nail a two-mile run. They'll finish their mini-marathon this April at their school district's first annual 5K Race/Walk.

I love that these students are eating better and moving more -- this grouch is actually smiling! Forward AHG's School Success Stories to your school principal. Educate school district leaders it is entirely possible to make strategic changes to enhance school nutrition and incorporate more exercise without jeopardizing the bottom line.

Find a good probiotic

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Take a stroll throw the dairy aisle in any grocery store and you'll see that many yogurt manufacturers are using the term 'Probiotics' as a selling feature. But before you blindly assume that the item you're picking up must be the healthiest choice possible, consider this: All probiotics are not the same. Dr. Mercola explains in this video and article.

Because each of our bodies are different, probiotics affect each of us differently, and what's right for one person might not be for another. So if you've given up on probiotics because they haven't made a difference in your body, don't be so hasty -- you may have not found the right one yet. One particularly healthy probiotic that Dr. Mercola recommends is lactobacillus sporogenes -- consider trying it if you can, and see what the right probiotic can do for you.

Older patients with hypertension less likely to receive lifestyle advice

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It's sad to hear that a new study concluded that older Americans are less likely than younger patients to receive lifestyle guidance if hypertension is in the picture.

Why on earth would doctors not want to suggest preventative measures to patients over 60 who have high blood pressure from making changes to lower it? Isn't there an oath in there somewhere that's being neglected here?

Over 28,000 adults were surveyed here before the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research team came up with their conclusions.


Weird fast food ingredients

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If high calorie content, excessive fat, or too much sodium aren't enough to keep you from eating fast food, maybe this article will. It outlines many of the ingredients in fast food that we don't think about, because they aren't staring up at us from our Big Mac box. But even if you can't see them, they're there:
  • titanium dioxide: used in products like paint and sunscreen
  • azodicarbonamide: a respiratory sensitizer banned in Australia
  • propylene glycol: used as a pesticide
  • sodium phosphate: a foaming agent
  • dimethylpolysiloxane: used in caulk and adhesives
  • MSG
  • hidden trans fats
Though the FDA calls these additives "generally regarded as safe" for human consumption, the fact remains that they aren't food.

(via Diet-Blog)

Controlling that teengage body odor

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If you have a 10 year-old that is about to start maturing physically, you may notice that along with that comes...body odor. Kids that aren't even teenagers (by description) yet may start seeking out colognes and perfumes to mask that bodacious smell. Sorry if that word dates my thinking, but you have to start somewhere.

What can your budding teen do to keep that odor under control and out of the noses of others?. Try these tips:
  • Always, always shower daily with soap and water.
  • Don't forget to wear clean clothes and underwear every day, and change socks frequently. If you've been sweating, change into clean, dry clothes. For those of you playing sports, this is a MUST
  • Wear all-cotton t-shirts, underwear and socks, which absorb sweat better. Ditch silk and polyester if possible (for now)
  • Use deodorant, but unless you have to, I'd advise against anti-perspirant. Sweat was meant to leave the body, not stay in!

Diet drug rimonabant tied to depression and anxiety

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If you're into taking prescription drugs for weight loss, are you on the rimonabant product? If so, a new piece of research from Denmark suggests you may develop a high risk for severe depression and anxiety.

In yet another blow to using a "pill" approach to combat weight loss, this should be no surprise to anyone who favors weight loss using effort instead of passive pill taking. Expecting a miracle drug to melt pounds away is a complete fallacy, but hey -- that's just my two cents.

When suicidal thoughts are connected to a weight loss drug (as they are here), why do some patients continue to take it? That's the mystery of the decade. Well, at least on of them.

Doctor charged in autistic boy's death

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The case of a Pennsylvania doctor who treated an autistic boy with a controversial chemical treatment has reached its pinnacle, as the physician has now been charged with that boy's death.

The suit charges that Dr. Roy Kerry, 69 not only used the wrong drug with the 5 year-old autistic boy, but administered it incorrectly as well.

As a result, Abubakar Tariq Nadama went into cardiac arrest in Kerry's office and died shortly thereafter. Chelation, a treatment meant to remove heavy metals from the human body, was the treatment Kerry was trying to administer, but it has not been approved by the FDA a a treatment for autism.

Getting takeout? Lighten up with these tips

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When you're tired of turkey leftovers next week, you just might find yourself calling up for Asian takeout. Often, people don't consider Asian takeout fast food, but depending on how it's prepared, it can have just as much fat, calories, and sodium as a meal from McDonald's. It doesn't have to be that way, however, and eDiets has some tips for lightening up your next takeout meal, including:
  • Start with soup. Studies show that people who start their meal with soup eat fewer calories during the rest of the meal. Choose miso, egg drop, or hot and sour.
  • Go for white meat, chicken, or fish. Better yet, pick a vegetarian dish.
  • Ask to have your sauce on the side, and request the chef go light on the oil. Don't forget to ask for no MSG.
  • Use soy sauce sparingly, and choose the low-sodium kind.
  • Avoid words like "batter-dipped" and fried. Instead, look for entrees that are steamed, roasted, simmered, or stir-fried.
  • Look to see if brown rice is on the menu. Otherwise, choose steamed rice over fried.
Finally, use chopsticks -- you'll eat less. What's your favorite way to trim down your favorite takeout meal?

Bikes for non-cyclists

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My neighbor spent most of his working life as a long-distance truck driver. In the years we've lived across from him, we rarely saw him outside, except when he (maddeningly) parked his cab in front of our house on his weeks off. Then he retired, and a few weeks later, he bought a bike. Now I see him out on his bike every day, in every corner of town. He wasn't what a cyclist before, but he's proof that you don't have to be one to enjoy spending time on a bike.

Japanese bike manufacturer Shimano did some research to find out why non-cyclists don't like bikes. They found that, among other things, shifting gears while riding made some people nervous, as did intimidating bike shops. In an effort to turn these non-riders on to the sport of cycling, Shimano developed Coasting. Coasting is a line of low-maintenance bikes with auto-shifting gears and durable tires that urges people who have never rode bikes before to climb aboard and "lollygag" around town. No stress, no pressure, just try life on two wheels for a while.

These bikes remind me of souped-up versions of my grandmother's old bike. If they can get a whole new generation of folks out of their homes and cars and pedaling around, well then I say "Bravo."
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Do good, feel good: Donate your children's used toys to kids in Iraq

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Ten extra pounds?
Messy house?
Kids with too many toys? Amen to that.
Counting your blessings can be hard when all you see is the downside.

The cure: Perspective through do-gooding. Edmay Mayers, a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was stationed in Iraq and while there she volunteered to makes sure that children who are innocently caught up in this war receive stuffed toys to help brighten their day. And she (and the kids) need your help. Remember, happy children help to make happy adults (which can lead to a healthy lifestyle). So as you start to pack up your children's old toys to make room for what Santa might leave under the tree, think about donating to children in Iraq. Specifically they are looking for stuffed animals (who doesn't love a stuffed toy?).

Continue reading Do good, feel good: Donate your children's used toys to kids in Iraq

Harden up the hard way!

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Quite often as a fitness trainer, I get excited when low level fitness people achieve moderate levels of fitness. I'm thrilled and grateful when someone turns their life around to simply ensure that they are going to live. And then there is the other type of excited. And that type is when I see someone of moderate level fitness achieve an elite level. I'm also really excited, because usually I've had something to do with these people's success.

Not this time though. Friday I went back to shoot some more fitness video segments with Anthony Field of The Wiggles, and to be quite frank.....I found it hard to keep my jaw off the floor. He has literally transformed himself from the cute Wiggle who carried around a little bit of extra weight, to the Wiggle who could take on his own Calvin Klein campaign! Normally I take on the mother-hen caring persona when congratulating and encouraging others on their fitness efforts. Anthony forced me into the giggly blushing nerd persona. A shocking transformation.

So. How did he achieve this insane new level of fitness? What makes him capable of wearing the tight Under Armour shirt with exquisite ease? Pull-ups! The man spends his days hanging from an extend-able bar mounted on the bathroom door in his dressing rooms. He does the hardest series of pull-up variations I've seen outside Olympic gymnastics.

Continue reading Harden up the hard way!

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The Daily Turn On! Breakfast Makeovers

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Life is too short not to be fully "turned on." The Daily Turn On! energizes all aspects of "you." Every Monday The Daily Turn On! with That's Fit Life Fit expert Laura Lewis will provide you with ideas and tips to awaken your mind, your body and your life as you journey through each day of the week! Check in each Monday to get your tip for Turning On every day of your life.

Did you know ... Skipping breakfast can actually make your Real Age as much as three years older. We have all heard it before ... breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Why do you think they call it "Break-fast?" Yup. You are breaking a fasting state when you eat upon awakening! And yet, it is all too easy to forgo breakfast in lieu of coffee on the go. Of course, not just any breakfast will do the trick. When it comes to your morning meal, quality far exceeds quantity.

Four Fit Facts About Breakfast
  1. Research suggests that people who eat breakfast are more successful at losing weight, as well as maintaining that weight loss as compared to their breakfast skipping counterparts.
  2. A high fiber breakfast is much more effective at maintaining alertness throughout the day than a high fat breakfast.
  3. Whole grain cereals, as compared to refined cereals, can assist in lowering the risks of heart disease.
  4. A breakfast rich in vitamins and nutrients will help to boost your immune system.
Quick Breakfast Tips
  • Get at least six grams of fiber at breakfast.
  • Keep raisins and nuts on hand for quick additions to hot or cold cereals. The nuts will help you to stay full longer, as well as assist your body in absorbing as much nutrients as possible.
  • Drink only 100% pure fruit juice.
  • Trade out your high fat breakfast meats for vegetarian or free-range Turkey meats.
  • Keep quick breakfast items on hand for on-the-go morning meals such as fruit and veggies in sandwich bags, hard-boiled eggs, and low-fat or non-fat yogurt cups.

Eating breakfast can make your Real Age as much as 1.1 years younger.

Every day this week (and even on Turkey Day), experience the difference of a good breakfast!

Got any good breakfast suggestions you like?

Jumpstart Your Fitness: By attacking Thanksgiving weight gain with these 7 tips

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Who doesn't struggle with Thanksgiving weight gain? I don't know anybody, really, and honestly those people who don't are probably best served by keeping that detail to themselves! It's funny, though, that one of the times we're all most looking to be skinny (due to seeing family and friends and wanting to make a good impression) just happens to be right smack in the middle of one of the most fattening times of the year: the holidays.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner now is the time to make a battle plan! Attack weight gain without sacrificing your enjoyment of the big meal this Thursday with these 7 holiday dining weapons:
  • Go for white meat only. This might be the single easiest thing you can do because thankfully turkey (especially the white meat) is naturally lean and low in calories (44 cals and 1g fat/0 sat fat per skinless ounce). Obviously this is assuming you bake or roast (what's the difference???) your bird instead of deep fat frying.
  • Make gravy that's all about flavor, not fat. Options for this include: using low-sodium/low-fat broth, using the pan drippings from the turkey but chilling them first so you can skim a lot of the fat off, or getting totally creative with a new recipe like this fat-free Cider Gravy.

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: By attacking Thanksgiving weight gain with these 7 tips

Daily Fit Tip: the obesity paradox is very odd

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It's very odd to hear that there was a recent study which demonstrated a decrease in illness and death with increasing body weight or BMI. In general, the more weight you carry above where you should be translates into more health problems down the road -- of all varieties.

Researchers showed that overweight and obese adults with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke or death. How is this possible? The researchers were as baffled as we are.

Even though the specific root causes to this study were unknown, a tip that remains sound at any time is to always watch what you eat (especially at Thanksgiving) and at least try to exercise, even if that means doing housework more often than normal.

Fresh or frozen -- which veggies are best?

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When you grab your veggies in the grocery store, do you go for fresh, frozen, or canned? If you grab frozen or canned vegetables, you may be onto something -- these options tend to deliver even more nutrients than their fresh counterparts.

All forms of produce are low in calories and contain fiber and phytochemicals -- plant compounds that provide varied health benefits. And when it comes to fiber, fresh is best. But for plentiful nutrients, already-cooked produce is tops. Cooking makes nutrients more readily available to the body, and the time fresh produce spends sitting on shelves depletes their nutrients.

There are some downsides to frozen and canned foods, however, like additives you won't find in the fresh produce aisles. So be careful. Look for low-sodium items, avoid all cream and cheese sauces, and steer clear of any label that reads "sweetened."

Avoid weight gain on Thanksgiving with this rule of thumb!

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Have a little bit of everything you like, but not too much of anything.

Enjoy your family, friends and some of the food that you like. Be moderate, exercise Thursday morning, and give thanks for your earned health! This has been a reminder from your friendly online fitness trainer!

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Set sail with this kiddie veggie vessel

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While I don't typically find the time to cook, prepare, and present creative kiddie meals for my little boys, this clever lunch idea caught my eye. I'm not saying I'll set out on a mission to prepare this healthy masterpiece, but you might and that's why I share Family Fun magazine's Lunch Ahoy idea with you.

First things first: Create our own veggie vessel by carving out half of a pickling cucumber, plum tomato, or yellow pepper. Then: Fill your vessel with tuna salad and push one end of a celery or carrot stick into the tuna. This is your mast. Finally: Set a triangle sail of pepper, lettuce, or cheese next to the mast. If you want to really go crazy, serve on a blue plate with a few fishy crackers.

How cute is this?

Fit Gifts: Healthy gifts for your co-workers

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The holiday season is an excellent time to let co-workers and employees know that your relationship with them is important to you. Rather than run out and buy some generic gift for your office-mates, though, why not take some time to buy a thoughtful gift to let co-workers and employees know that you care? Ediets has some suggestions, including:
  • Give delicious treats like Kookie Karma Cookies or flavored popcorn from LesserEvil.
  • Avoid giving highly fragranced items to those with allergies, or sweet treats to someone you know is trying to lose weight.
  • Give a gift card to a favorite store.
  • Make a donation in an employee's name to charities like Food for the Poor, for one. Finding a charity that's important to the gift recipient will make the donation every more significant.
  • Consider tickets to sporting events or concerts.
  • When in doubt, personalize your gift.
Most importantly, make sure that your gift tells your co-worker or employee that you value their contribution to the office.

Got an office-mate who's interested in health and fitness? Consider giving one of these fit gifts instead!


Are you in a psychological recession at work?

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Are you emotionally in a good state of mind when Monday rolls around and you have to return to work? Do you work in an environment where upper management cares about you? As you arrive to work each day are you ready to depart for home?

Judith Bardwick, author of One Foot Out The Door: How to Combat the Psychological Recession That's Alienating Employees and Hurting American Business, says a majority of our nation's employees are in a psychological recession. Frightened and skittish after years of corporate layoffs, up to two-thirds of today's employees are looking for a job or giving minimum effort. What's the point, when it could be your neck on the chopping block next?

I can attest that working amidst a psychological recession is not good for your emotional health, and Bardwick has the research to show bad management is not good for a company's financial health, either. But she also offers solutions for upper management to ponder. What's your job like? Do you have one foot out the door?

Junkyard sports gets kids moving

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Play enthusiast and author Bernie DeKoven is on a mission to inspire kids to play creatively. And he's got one heck of a vision for putting the fun back in athletic competition.

Junkyard sports is the name he's given to the wacky games he's dreamed up. Designed to exercise both bodies and imaginations, DeKoven's junkyard terminology refers to traditional sports played with non-traditional materials.

Traditional sports fail a lot of kids, says DeKoven. That's why so many children lead inactive lives. Looking at informal games played in backyards and streets, this author of Junkyard Sports: Make Sports Fun Again says the rules of his games are tailored to fit the players and the play space. In traditional sports, the game determines whether kids are good enough to play. In junkyard sports, kids determine if the game is good enough to play.

Continue reading Junkyard sports gets kids moving

How to tell if your sick kid is faking it

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Cold and flu season is definitely gearing up to be in full swing, but what if you have a nagging suspicion that your child isn't really sick? Health experts say that up to 10% of kids "fake it" at least once over the course of their childhood. CBS News has a few tips to help you decide if your child's illness is real, or if there is something else going on:

Signs of Cold and Flu
  • cough -- dry or productive
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • fever
  • red throat
  • body aches
  • fatigue
  • napping
Signs of "Faking It"
  • symptoms that don't have staying power
  • perking up after the call to school has been made
  • vague symptoms that move around the body (but be careful, because sometimes symptoms are vague)
Keep in mind that just because a child isn't really sick doesn't mean that something isn't wrong. Children may be avoiding school for a serious reason, like bullying, anxiety, depression, or high-pressure to succeed. If you find your child is faking on a regular basis, it's time to get to the bottom of the issue.

Most heart attack victims don't slim down, despite risks

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Let's be cheerful for a moment: say you had a heart attack and almost died. Would the moment when you almost left all your loved ones behind be enough of a motivation to change your life around and start living healthfully? Wouldn't it make you see that life is more important than your love of food and distrust in fitness? Would you consider this your lucky break and revel in your second chance to turn your health around? I would -- no doubt about it. But surprise -- most people wouldn't, according to studies.

For the record, people need to lose 5% of their body weight after a heart attack to significantly improve their heart health. So for a 225-lb person, that's 11.25 lbs.

Isn't your life worth 11.25 lbs?

Pump down the volume to protect kids' ears

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Mp3 players are sure to pop up on your child's holiday gift list at some point in time, and eventually, you may give in. Like any other electronic gadget, however, mp3 players may require some parental guidance to be used safely and appropriately.

Pediatric experts estimate that 12.5% of kids age 6 to 19 have already suffered some noise-related hearing loss. Since hearing damage is cumulative and irreversible, it makes sense to protect your kids' ears now.

Mp3 players can be used safely, with a few guidelines:
  • Buy a model with preset volume limits.
  • Ask your pediatrician or family doctor to show your child what an appropriate volume level is.
  • If you can hear the music your child is listening to, it's too loud.
  • Teach your child about the 60/60 rule. Limit music to 60 minutes per day at 60% of the maximum volume.
  • Replace earbuds (which send noise directly into the ear) with older-style headphones. Better yet, find a pair of noise-canceling earphones that will block out enough background noise to allow your child to turn down the volume.
  • Ringing in the ears is a sign that music is too loud.
  • Get regular hearing checks.
These rules apply to the music-loving adult as well, so keep them in mind when you're enjoying your own mp3s.