Monday, February 27, 2012

Eating and Dieting

People may have become so accustomed to incorrect eating that they may have forgotten what a correct meal feels like. They decide to take up a diet without first questioning whether or not their basic eating habits may be at fault.

Here are a few basic guides to assure proper digestion and healthy appetite:

  • Eat three regular meals daily.
  • Eat fresh foods in season.
  • Do not eat unless you are hungry.
  • Do light activity, such as walking after a meal, to promote digestion.
  • Do not drink water or liquids during meals as these dilute digestive juices, reducing digestive efficiency.
  • Negative emotions, mental excitement and heavy exercise hinder digestion.
  • Chew your food very well, as digestion starts in the mouth.
  • Eat only until your hunger is satisfied.

A normally healthy person should eat enough without producing a feeling of heaviness, or a sense of tightness in the solar plexus. After eating, there should be no rumbling of the stomach. Nausea, taste of food on belching, and lingering taste of meal are all signs that the meal was too heavy.

Foods that are easily digested, such as salad greens, should not be taken at the same time as foods that are slowly digested.

By applying these guidelines, one can improve digestion, cut back on between-meal snacks and when the time comes, make dieting much easier.

The biggest mistake in dieting is to attempt to accomplish too much too soon. Most people who are on a diet do so to lose weight. It must be remembered that weight gain usually occurs over a period of weeks, months or years, and a gradual, intelligent and conscious dieting plan is superior to trying to lose all the weight at once. It will usually come right back on if you return to your original diet habits.

Although a diet may seem like a punishment, meals should be a pleasant and fulfilling time. The ultimate objective of any diet is to change improper eating habits. Thus, a consistent program which gradually changes the overall diet will succeed in restoring your proper weight.

Some people believe that bread must be avoided in order to diet and lose weight. But the average slice of bread contains only about 45 calories, and is a source of protein. A lump of butter – which is all fat – adds almost 70 calories; one teaspoon of jam or jelly, another 75 calories. The culprit is not the bread, but the extras.

Your body may react to the restriction of certain foods that it has enjoyed for many years, and sometimes this may be reflected in slight nausea, headaches or a run-down feeling. This may mean that you are dieting too strenuously. A thousand small steps that succeed are better than one big step that fails. So, keep your goals realistic, stay in touch with your doctor, and keep your resolve firm. The rewards will be more than worth it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nutrition and Your Health

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world.

Statistics reveal that nearly 85% of the world's population can expect a rise in blood pressure as they grow older. This condition, known as hypertension, is associated with another disease called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries that carry the blood from the heart.

While drugs are used to control these conditions, physicians suggest changes in the diet to possibly lower drug dosage, and even adding years to one's life.

In industrialized societies, many people tend to put on excess weight. Weight increase causes much stress on the heart, leading to various health problems. And if the blood pressure is high – or other heart and circulatory conditions are present - a heart attack may happen.

People who are diagnosed by doctors as having signs of heart disease are put on some form of restricted diet to lessen or eliminate foods which are known to contribute to heart disease.

The first step is usually to lose weight, particularly if a person is relatively inactive. Losing weight, simply stated, means reducing the amount of calories, or “food energy.” In conjunction with your doctor or nutritionist, you can arrive at a desirable number of calories to consume by using a food list guide.

A second step to a healthy heart is cutting down on sodium intake. Usually, people have the misconception that sodium is only in salt. While it is true that salt is nearly 40% sodium, most foods contain salt added in processing. This salt must be carefully measured and considered when cutting down to an acceptable level of sodium intake. A recommended level of sodium intake is about five grams per day, compared to an average six to 18 grams most people eat.

Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence for a once-and-for-all diet guaranteed to maintain and fend off disease, common sense dictates that in addition to watching calories and sodium, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea and soft drinks containing high amounts of sugar and caffeine must be limited.

Exercise is a boon to health, and even a small amount of the simplest exercise, such as a 20-minute walk after meals, can do wonders for promoting digestion, improving circulation and increasing well-being. Any program for good health should include some form of moderate exercise.

It cannot be stressed enough that having a program of proper diet and exercise would be more advantageous if a medical practitioner specializing in health and nutrition be consulted to supervise the entire process. Every individual reacts differently to changes in diet and your physician can monitor these changes to make adjustments in your health program.

There is no need to think of dieting as difficult, although it involves changing one's habits. This requires commitment, concentration and honesty with oneself. So, take your time, keep up your enthusiasm, and know that you are working for the greatest goal of all: a long and abundant life.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Diet, Weight and Hypertension

Is there anything good about dieting, besides losing weight?

Yes, answers Executive Fitness Newsletter. Eating less- even far less – than it takes to give your tummy that firm, so fully packed feeling, has all sorts of obvious benefits.

Among these are the absence of bloating and, with loss of weight, the diminishing or disappearance of certain health risk factors. And – maybe most important of all – you’ll just look good and feel better.

You might
live longer, too, and that’s what most of the current research into the subject of under-eating is all about.

Less food, more years
, has been an old wives’ formula for as long as there’ve been old wives. And scientific findings have strongly backed up the folklore.

Dietary restrictions
, continues the report, imposed early in life is the only strategy known to increase life span in warm-blooded animals. It also inhibits or delays many diseases that occur in later life and also retards aging of the body’s immune system.

Most of the scientific investigations have dealt with laboratory animals. Data from these experiments is difficult to apply to humans because such a restrictive diet applied to animals could stunt growth and affect the onset of puberty for the young ones.

But a related study from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine shows that mice started at midlife on a low-intake diet had significantly longer lives and far fewer cancers. This study could very well have direct human implications.

Diet and Hypertension.
One benefit of dieting and losing weight is a lower blood pressure, although other risk factors, such as stress, smoking, alcohol and fatty diet can also cause hypertension. Diabetics and overweight individuals are especially susceptible to hypertension.

Running and Sustained Exercise
. Dr. Rudolph Dressendorfer, Ph.D., formerly with the University of California Davis Human Performance Laboratory, found that high density lipoprotein (HDL) which has been associated with lower cardiovascular death rates, increased after marathon running or other sustained exercise.

The findings were substantiated among 12 men who participated in the 20-day, 312-mile Great Hawaiian Footrace.

The runners, ages 23-60, ran an average of 17.5 miles per day for 10 days, rested for 70 hours, and then ran for eight more days. Blood samples taken during the marathon indicated that HDL levels rose significantly on active running days and decreased during the rest period.

Of course you do not have to be a marathoner. The study indicates that if you run long distance regularly, you, too, can expect your HDL level to rise.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What’s Junk Food?

Officially, it’s food with “minimum nutritional value,” says the U.S. Drug Administration.

A 100-calorie portion of junk food contains less than five percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of any one of the 8 basic nutrients.

Hidden Sugars. Watch for them. Sugar is added to almost all foods, including salt, ketchup, canned fruit, etc. Sugar actually weakens muscles and can reduce your energy. Too much sugar also causes pancreas to secrete excessive insulin, leading to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and hastens the aging process.

Junk Food – Low-Calorie. Even when you include a limited amount of junk food in your low-calorie diet, you can end up gaining weight, according to Dr. Richard Passwater, a noted health researcher.

“A 1,000-calorie-a-day diet is no guarantee that you’ll lose weight, especially when you choose the wrong kinds of calories,” Dr. Passwater said. “Certain junk foods, like doughnuts, sweet rolls and pies, are turned into fat by the body without being used up in the digestive process the way high-protein foods are. Junk foods like candy, popcorn and potato chips can add weight by triggering the highly allergic reaction, which causes the body to retain water and thus pack on unneeded pounds,” he explained.

“When you skip breakfast and lunch and consume most of your 1,000 calories in the evening meal, your body may not be able to burn off all those calories and the excess will be stored as body fat," he added.

It’s commonly recognized that consistent use of nutritional food supplements and foods for specific or special dietary needs “helps to keep the doctor away.”

The modest price increases in vitamins, minerals and health foods in general compared to drugs, hospitalization and other health care services is encouraging to those who take responsibility for their own health and shun drugs or hospitalization except in emergencies.

Counting fewer lost days of work time, and keeping healthy, is a bargain in more ways than one.

Tidbits: Drinking large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis can lead to sterility and impotence in men, according to David Van Thiel of the University of Philadelphia.

Alcohol directly affects the testes themselves and certain parts of the brain, including glands that control the function of the testes. Men who consume about a pint of liquor a day for five years or so are risking permanent, irreversible impotence and sterility, warned Dr. Van Thiel.