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10 Steps to a Healthier Future July 28, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Meditation.

170px-Italienischer_Maler_des_17._Jahrhunderts_001Nancy Curteman posted an informative article the other day, How To Lose Weight Fast: Eliminate the Four Food Demons.

In it, she recommended cutting out the worst culprits to weight gain and poor nutrition:  Sugar, Fat, Salt, and Additives that not even English majors can pronounce.

Here are a few more tips to consider when deciding what to put onto your plate and into your belly.

(1) Beware hidden salt in food.  Aunt Jemina’s Original Pancake Mix has more salt per serving that Wise Potato Chips.  Many cuts of uncooked poultry contain added sodium.  Check the label for these words: contains a solution of water, salt, and sodium phosphate.

(2) Just as there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, there are healthy fats and dangerous fats:

* Saturated fat (found in fatty meat, ice cream, whole milk, butter, and cocoa butter) clogs your arteries with cholesterol and should be avoided.

* Trans fat (found in many cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, margarine, onion rings, and donuts) can inflame and stiffen your arteries.

* Virgin Olive Oil helps to improve your circulation and can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Olive oil contains phenol which keeps arteries “elastic” ~ which means your arteries can handle sudden changes in blood flow which helps to prevent heart attacks.    Use it for cooking, in salad dressings, and for dipping bread instead of using butter.

(3) Read labels.  Food labels list ingredients in descending order by weight.   Just because a cereal has the word “oats” or “whole grain” in its name doesn’t mean that it will provide you with a healthy breakfast:

* Honey Bunches of Oats lists whole-grain oats as the 4th ingredient . . . after corn, wheat, and SUGAR!

* Honey Nut Cheerios lists whole grain oats as the #1 ingredient, making it the better choice.

(4) If it’s white, don’t bite:

* Bad carbs are generally white in color.  Think Sugar, white flour, white bread, white pasta.  Since these white carbs cause spikes in your insulin level, reducing them in your diet will LOWER your risk of type2 diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.

* Good carbs come from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  These good carbs keep your cholesterol level healthy, your blood pressure and blood sugar stable, and help you eliminate excess weight from your body.

* Plus, fruits and veggies contain valuable anti-oxidants that lower your risk of certain diseases.  For example, watermelon, apricots, and tomatoes reduce cancer risk.

* Baked potatoes provide you with good carbs.  Each medium sized baked potato (with skin) provides 925 mg of potassium to help keep your blood pressure in check; 50 mg of magnesium to help reduce your risk of type2 diabetes; and 5 gm of fiber to keep your appetite under control and provide you with some smooth moves in your bowels.

(5) Don’t be afraid to ZAP your food in the microwave.  Microwaved food may retain vitamins BETTER than food cooked on the stove-top because the food is cooked quickly with less water.  One study found that spinach retained only 77% of the B-vitamin folate when cooked on the stove, but retained ALL its folate when cooked in the microwave.

(6) Don’t waste money taking Vitamin E in capsule form since it won’t reduce your risk of chronic heart disease.  Instead, to avoid a deficiency of Vitamin E, eat E-rich foods ~ nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.  The top 5 seeds and nuts to lower cholesterol:  sunflower seeds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and whole flaxseed.

(7) Speed weight loss by sniffing your food.  Nope.  Sniffing your food won’t burn off excess calories, but smelling food aromas influences your sense of fullness causing you to eat less and lose weight.  Chew slowly to appreciate the flavor and texture of your food, and eat hot foods while they are hot to maximize the aroma vapors.

(8)  Protect your brain from the effects of aging:

* Fruit and vegetable juices offer remarkable benefits, and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 76% versus folks who don’t drink juice.  You shoulda had a V-8!

* Walking and other regular physical activity is probably the best way to shield your brain against aging.  In one six-year-study, people who walked just 3x a week for 30 minutes lowered their risk of dementia by 30%.

* People who reduced stress with relaxation exercises (such as meditation, visualization, or yoga)  for 20 minutes a day improved their attention and responsiveness in brain function studies significantly in just 5 weeks.

(9) Other health & wellness tips:

* St. John’s Wort helps to relieve depression in some people as well as the prescription medicine, Paxil.

* Meditating regularly can lower blood pressure and reduce the need for medication.

(10) Two bonus exercise tips for strong back and pelvic muscles:

* Kegel exercises can reduce incontinence in men and women so they don’t have to depend on Depends.  Identify the pelvic muscles by noticing tightening in the rectal area when you interrupt the urine flow.  Squeeze those muscles hard ~ without holding your breath.  Then slowly relax.  Perform 2 types of squeezes:  short ones for 2 seconds and longer ones for 5-10 seconds.  Do them whenever you think of it throughout the day.

* Relieve low back pain with good posture.  Stand with your back against a wall.  Feet shoulder width apart, 3-6 inches from the wall.  Arms by your sides.  Press your head, shoulders, and back against the wall.  Draw in your lower abdomen, pushing your belly button toward your spine to lessen the arch of your back.  Keeping your back straight, use your elbows to push away from the wall.

Source:  Consumer Reports On Health and The Best of Health


1. nancycurteman - July 29, 2010

Really informative information not just about food, but other good health habits. I also enjoyed the listing of hidden demons you provided.

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

After reading your article, I decided to dig around a bit for some more tips to share.

2. cindy - July 29, 2010

Very good tips. Nuts, beans and pulses in the diet also aid against depression. As does Merlot 🙂

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

And chocolate (which I know is more to my taste than yours).

Maybe that’s the next article . . . how to cure depression with delicious and good for you FOOD and WINE.

3. Loreen Lee - July 29, 2010

Thanks for this, nrhatch.

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

You’re welcome, Loreen.

Man does not live by spirit alone. We need to support body, mind, and spirit if we are to lead happy, healthy lives.

4. isathreadsoflife - July 29, 2010

Great advices I’m trying to follow… just need to be more regular about it. Thanks a lot for the reminder !

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

That’s key, remember to follow the advice we’ve given ourselves.

After 30 days, new practices become habits . . . but during the first 30 days, we need to consciously choose the NEW behavior in order to make it part of our daily routine.

5. Agatha82 - July 29, 2010

I do not eat any processed foods. Only sugar I have is in fruit form and I do not eat wheat or drink cola or have anything that’s not “natural”
It’s not as awful as it sounds.

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

Sounds awesome to me!

I never drink soda. Coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day, with an occasional “adult beverage” tossed into the mix for Happy Hour.

I use a bit of sugar in my coffee, but not much in my day to day diet since I tend not to eat cookies, donuts, cakes, brownies, etc. (except on special occasions).

Most of our main meals focus on fruits, veggies, and grains and do not include many processed foods. I do buy chips, crackers, cereal, spaghetti sauce, and a few canned items, plus Near East rice and grain mixes.

So, like much of my life . . . there’s room for improvement. : )

Agatha82 - July 29, 2010

I drink coffee but it’s black and decaff (though I do drink regular coffee as well)

Think as long as you’re aware of what to avoid, then you’re doing well. I’m rather extreme but it’s helped me stay healthy 🙂

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