Belly Fat = Harmful Fat

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Spanx isn’t your only solution to getting rid of belly fat. Science has found that, along with weight loss and exercise, eating certain foods can help you specifically whittle your middle.

Bonus: Adding these foods to your healthy diet won’t just help you slip into a little black dress or fit into your high school gym shorts. Paring those particular pounds—the ones that hang over your belt—may also help you reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

Like the proverbial iceberg, there’s a lot lurking under the surface of every spare tire, love handle, beer belly and muffin top. If you have a large waist (35 inches and over for women, 40 and over for men), you probably have an overabundance of fat cells congregating under the muscles of your midsection. These cells release chemicals that can wreak havoc on your metabolism. Some may be slowing down your body’s ability to regulate insulin and blood sugar. Others can increase inflammation in the body, which has been linked to everything from heart disease to cancer to dementia.

If you’re losing weight, you’re losing that squishy fat just under your skin as well the hidden belly fat deep inside that’s surrounding your organs and doing its worst. Put these foods on your shopping list—they target both:

1. Almonds and other nuts
Nuts used to be a diet no-no because of their fat content, but no more. The fat they contain is monounsaturated fat (MUFA) which has been shown in many studies to curb appetite and prevent central body fat—that apple shape linked to disease. In one study done by Yale researchers, women who switched to a 1,600-calorie, high MUFA diet lost a third of their belly fat in less than a month.

2. Beans
A five-year study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina found that for every 10-gram increase in the amount of soluble fiber you eat—like that found in legumes (beans) and other vegetables—you reduce deep belly fat by 3.7 percent. That goes up to 7.4 percent if you add moderate exercise. You can get an extra 10 grams of soluble fiber in a half cup of pinto beans (think chili!). Lentils, split peas, lima and black beans also dish out a good amount of this nutrient, as do fruits like raspberries, apples and pears (just be sure to leave the skin on as that is where most of the fiber can be found). Veggies like broccoli and green peas also serve up a dose of fiber. Like good fats, fiber also helps you feel full, so eating these foods can curb your appetite, helping you lose pounds all over.

3. Low-fat, vitamin D-fortified dairy
A 2013 study of overweight college students found that those whose weight-loss diets were supplemented with 600 IU of calcium and 125 IU of vitamin D lost about the same amount of weight as those on the same diet without the extra nutrients, but the calcium and D group lost more body fat mass and, importantly, belly fat than their counterparts. While the study participants took pills, you can get calcium from low-fat sources like D-fortified skim milk. Nondairy sources of calcium and vitamin D include canned salmon (with bones), calcium-fortified orange juice, and calcium-fortified tofu.

4. Tea
Sipping tea throughout the day, may help you lose weight by revving up your metabolism, but it also specifically targets belly fat, according to a study done in 2014 at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. At work here may be a plant chemical called catechin which, in other research, stifles sugar and fat intake in the intestines—two things that can aid weight loss.

5. Turkey
The “magic” ingredient in poultry is an amino acid called l-arginine, which has been shown in several studies to burn belly fat, particularly that pesky centrally located fat. Most studies use supplements. One, by Mayo Clinic researchers, found that women who took three grams of l-arginine, three times daily for 12 weeks experienced a loss of belly fat. However, there are plenty of good food sources for the amino acid, including low-fat poultry like turkey breast, nuts and seeds, soybean products, fish such as orange roughy and tilapia, and shellfish such as Alaska king crab and shrimp. Foods high in arginine are also linked to lower risk of hypertension and stroke, according to Harvard research.

6. Yogurt
It’s not just the calcium in yogurt and fermented dairy products that attacks belly fat. It’s the probiotics, “good” bacteria that keeps your gut healthy and your tummy flat. Several studies have found that the beneficial bacteria in yogurt and yogurt-like products such as kefir, a drink that contains even more healthy germs than yogurt, promote weight loss and specifically target that deep, dangerous fat. They may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol, according to a 2014 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

Interpreting Your Blood Pressure

HOW TO INTERPRET YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. It’s an important part of how the circulation of your blood and your heart works. Your blood pressure doesn’t stay constant throughout the day. It is lowest when you’re at rest (e.g. sleeping) , and rises when you get up and start being physically active. It can also go up when you are elated, happy, stressed, nervous depending on your emotions.

What do the numbers mean?

It is everyone’s desire to have a healthy, “normal” blood pressure. But what exactly does that mean? When a medical professional takes your blood pressure, it’s expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom, like a fraction. For example, 120/80.

The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle. This is called systolic pressure. The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. This is called diastolic pressure. Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart.

If you have higher numbers than the ideal range, that would be an indication that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.

Blood pressure readings: What’s normal and when is it high blood pressure?

A healthy blood pressure reading should ideally be lower than 120/80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic (see blood pressure chart below), and may vary from 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg in a healthy young woman. However, a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher indicates high blood pressure.

Categories for blood pressure levels

Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults (Aged 18 Years and Older)
Blood Pressure Level (mmHg)
Category Systolic Diastolic
Normal BP < 120 and < 80
High-Normal BP 130 or 80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
Stage 1 Hypertension 140 – 159 or 90 – 99
Stage 2 Hypertension 160 or 100
* Isolated Systolic Hypertension > 140 and < 90

 

Notes:​

  1. When systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall into different categories, the higher category should be used to classify blood pressure level. For example, 160/80 mmHg would be stage 2 hypertension (high blood pressure).
  2. ​*Isolated systolic hypertension is graded according to the same level of systolic BP.

Measuring blood pressure at home

Can you measure your own blood pressure? Of course, you can. You can measure your own blood pressure at home with a digital blood pressure device that can be purchased at most pharmacies. One should carefully read all instructions. To find out if you have made correct reading, you may wish to calibrate it with your family doctor. Remember to take note of your readings most especially if you have higher measurements. When is the best time to take the measurement? It should be when you are at rest.

Here are some tips that will help in ensuring the accuracy of your blood pressure reading:

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Place your left arm, raised to the level of your heart, on a table or desk
  • Wrap the cuff of the monitor smoothly and snugly around the upper part of your bare arm.

Some Points to Ponder

Keeping your blood pressure in the normal range is crucial in preventing complications, such as heart disease and stroke. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits and medications can help lower your blood pressure. Weight loss is also important in keeping your numbers down.

Remember that a single blood pressure reading doesn’t necessarily classify your health in stone. Blood pressure readings taken over time are the most accurate. This is why it’s ideal to have your blood pressure taken by a healthcare professional at least once a year, or more often if your readings are high.

Natural Remedies For Cold and Flu

The best natural  remedies for cold and flu

Once an illness has struck, natural  remedies for cold and flu can help shorten the duration and get you feeling better faster. Here are a few recommendations that are backed by science.

1. Stay hydrated

My number one recommendation for recovering quickly from a cold or flu virus is to stay hydrated. I recommend 64 ounces of fluid a day, but talk to your doctor about your specific needs. Some people, such as those with congestive heart failure, should drink less water.

2. Vitamin C

Some studies have indicated that vitamin C can shorten the lifespan of a cold. Plus, it boosts your overall health, including your immune system. The best way to get vitamin C is by eating fresh food. The fresher the food, the better. Think oranges, rather than orange juice or supplements. Overdoing it on vitamin C supplements (not dietary vitamin C) can lead to upset stomach and kidney stones.

3. Sleep

Adequate sleep helps your immune system function at its best to ward off nasty viruses and bacteria.

4. Honey and tea

Honey has natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Add the natural sweetener (opt for a local variety when possible) to a cup of ginger or cinnamon tea to relieve a scratchy throat and stay hydrated.

5. Chicken soup

Sometimes mom really does know best! Hot liquids, such as soup, help reduce mucus buildup and keep you hydrated. A study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center found chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce a cold’s unpleasant side effects.

6. Aromatherapy

Break up mucus by rubbing a bit of camphor or menthol salve around your nose. You can also reduce congestion by breathing in aromatherapy oils, such as peppermint and eucalyptus.

7. A steamy shower

A steamy shower or sauna is a great decongestant.  One caveat: If you are dizzy or weak from the flu, sit in a chair in your bathroom while you run a hot shower.

8. Gargling warm salt water

Dissolve 1/2 a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, then gargle to relieve a sore throat.

9. Sleep with an extra pillow

To help your sinuses drain, sleep with an extra pillow under your head.

Caution

Nasal irrigation can be helpful in irrigating and hydrating nasal passages so they aren’t dry and cracked, which can break the skin’s protective barrier against viruses and bacteria. However, it’s important to do it safely. Never use tap water for nasal irrigation. The use of contaminated tap water for sinus rinsing has been linked to a rare, but potentially deadly brain infection. Use boiled and cooled tap water, sterile or distilled water, or saline solution instead.

Handwashing

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Protecting Others

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. (Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.)

Prevent Reinfection

Change your toothbrush at the first sign of a cold or the flu. These germs will sit on your toothbrush, usually in wet environment, and can reinfect you. Change your toothbrush as often as necessary.

 

HOW TO PREVENT FALLS IN ELDERLY

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Falls In Elderly Account For 70% of Accidental Deaths in Older Population

A fall can change your life. Falls in elderly can lead to disability and a loss of independence.  Falls can cause physical and financial devastation. It’s critical to assess older adults’ strength, balance, and mobility to determine individual fall risk and educate all about fall prevention. The risk and frequency of falls increase with age and can lead to death.

A single fall is not always a sign of a major problem. The fall may simply be an isolated event. However, recurrent falls, defined as more than two falls in a six-month period, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional for treatable causes. Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall and less than half report this to their doctor.  Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Risk Factors for Falls In Elderly

A risk factor is something that increases a person’s risk or susceptibility to a medical problem or disease.

As the number of risk factors rises, so does the risk of falling. Many falls in elderly are linked to a person’s physical condition or a medical problem, such as a chronic disease. Other causes could be safety hazards in the person’s home or community environment. Here are the most important risk factors in the elderly that lead to falls:

  1.  Low blood pressure
  2. Vitamin D deficiency
  3. Medications and/or alcohol
  4. Vision problems
  5. Foot problems or footwear
  6. Fear of falling
  7. Home hazards
  8. Hypoglycemia
  9. Seizures
  10. Cognitive impairment
  11. Sensory deficits

Make Safety A Habit

Although falls can happen anywhere, well over half of all falls in elderly happen at home. Falls at home often happen while a person is doing normal daily activities. Some of these falls are caused by factors in the person’s living environment.

Other factors that can lead to falls at home include
  • loose rugs
  • clutter on the floor or stairs
  • carrying heavy or bulky things up or down stairs
  • not having stair railings
  • not having grab bars in the bathroom

Here are improvements to make in your living environment to improve your safety and prevent falls in elderly:

An important step toward preventing falls at home is to remove anything that could cause a trip or slip while walking. Tripping on clutter, small furniture, pet bowls, electrical or phone cords, or other things can cause a fall.  Slipping on rugs or slick floors can also cause falls.

Arrange furniture to allow plenty of room to walk freely. Also remove items from stairs, hallways, and pathways.

Be sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs, use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.

Put non-slip strips on floors of bathtub and shower.

Be careful when walking outdoors and avoid going out alone on ice or snow. A simple slip on a slick sidewalk, a curb, or icy stairs could result in a serious injury.

During the winter, ask someone to spread sand or salt on icy surfaces. Be sure to wear boots with good traction if you must go out when it snows. Better yet, don’t take chances walking on icy or slippery surfaces.

Poor lighting — inside and outdoors — can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways.

 Good lighting on stairways is especially important. Light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can help.

Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed. Put night lights in the bathroom, hallways, bedroom, and kitchen. Also keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power is out and you need to get up.

 Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other.

Properly placed grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, can help to avoid falls.  Have grab bars installed, and use them every time you get in and out of the tub or shower. Be sure the grab bars are securely attached to the wall.

In addition to these recommendations, click here for a checklist to prevent or minimize falls in elderly.

 

 

 

Back To School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

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Back to School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

A healthy lunch keeps active kids alert and focused and gives them the nutrition they need every day as they go back to school. But no matter how healthy your child’s lunch box is, it won’t provide any nutritional value if it doesn’t get eaten! Every mom or dad who makes lunches for kids knows the goals: avoid total jettisoning of lunch into trash by picky eater and hope your child doesn’t trade healthy apple for can of soda!

Ensure you include a range of fresh fruit and vegetables and vary the food daily so kids don’t become bored soon after going back to school.

Top tips for a healthy lunch box-
• Always include fresh fruit and vegetables.  Vary the selection to keep it interesting.
• Offer a variety of whole grain breads, rolls, pita bread and flat breads.
• Use avocado as a spread instead of butter or margarine or mayo.
• Use reduced fat dairy foods. Cheese and greek yoghurt are ideal.
• Kids need a serve of protein at lunchtime. Ensure you include lean meat, egg, peanut butter, chickpeas or tuna.
• Add a chilled bottle of water and limit juice.

Keep it fresh – packing the lunchbox 

Pack the school lunch in an insulated lunch box and include a small freezer brick or freeze a bottle of water and pop it into the lunchbox to keep food cool.

Helpful tips for adding fresh fruit and vegetables to lunch boxes
• Kids like fresh fruit cut and ready to eat.  Fruit salad is the ideal lunch box solution; it’s colourful, easy to eat and bursting with vitamins. Try a fruit kebob for fun and variety.
• Freeze fruits in the summer or for sport days.  Simply pop the frozen fruit into a small sealable plastic bag or airtight container.
• If including whole fruit in the lunchbox, select fruit that is a suitable size for a child to easily hold in their hand and eat (this is particulary important for younger children).
• Peel and slice or cut fruit if possible and choose seedless varieties, when available.
• If you’ve added tomato to sandwiches, place the tomato between fillings and not directly onto the bread.  This prevents the bread becoming soggy.
• When using avocado, mash or drizzle with a little lemon or lime juice to prevent the avocado from discolouring.
• A mild tasting and crunchy lettuce variety like Iceberg  is ideal for kids.
• Add leftover (or cook extra) roast pumpkin or sweet potato to sandwiches, wraps and roll fillings.  Naturally sweet and loaded with beneficial antioxidants, roast vegetables team well with a range of fillings.
• Make salads or salad sandwich fillings interesting by using a range of vegetables like grated carrot, snow pea sprouts, lettuce or rocket or baby spinach, sliced celery, tomatoes, avocado and cucumber.

When kids help pack their lunch, they’re more likely to eat that lunch! On nights you have a bit more time, like Sundays, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together.