Sunday, January 29, 2012

Metabolism Boosters and weight management

Fat_cartoon : Cartoon blowfish Stock PhotoOh the dreaded Christmas cookies and cakes can clearly be seen on our not so slim waists……
Today’s health and beauty buzz is on ways to help boost our metabolism, stave off those cravings and aid with the dreaded tummy bloat. I have battled with my weight practically all my adult life.  My weight has varied tremendously from having a BMI within the normal range according to height and age to being seriously obese. I was tired of listening to my knees clicking every time I walked down stairs, being breathless performing simple tasks and being at serious risk for heart attack and stroke due to pre diabetes and high cholesterol levels despite taking medication. I am now much more conscious about my weight primarily for health reasons and try to take a hold of it before it takes a hold of me.  I have found these tips pretty helpful in weight management.
  1.  As we reach perimenopause and menopause, our metabolism slows down so we need to burn more calories in order to lose weight or keep our weight constant. We need to eat 200 calories less per day than we ate in our 30’s and 40’s in order to achieve this.
  2. Be careful not to slash calories too drastically as this can cause the body to go into starvation mode. The metabolism will slow down and you will store fat and burn lean muscle instead.
  3. Cinnamon is your friend. Cinnamon can help to prevent sugar cravings as well as cravings for starch.  Cinnamon can be taken in supplement form or ground cinnamon added to cereal, yogurt, a smoothie or even to your coffee.
  4. Lean protein should be incorporated into every meal if possible as well as into snacks. Chicken breast with no skin, eggs (particularly egg whites), turkey, fish, low fat cheeses, low fat yogurt(Greek yogurt contains the most protein),fat free skim or low fat milk. Protein increases the metabolism. Add some whey protein to a smoothie for a great breakfast
  5. Fiber is important. It helps to keep you full by swelling in the stomach. Strive to have 30 grams per day. Add ground fiber (phylum husk) to a smoothie or to your cereal. Incorporate it into health muffins, breads and sprinkle on salads.  Fiber can be taken in a pill form. Follow with at least one glass of liquid- preferably water.  Konjac fiber is highly regarded. Fiber lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. Great sources of fiber are steel cup oatmeal and raspberries amongst many others.
  6. Water- Drink 1 to 2 glasses of cold water 30 minutes before meals. The colder the water, the harder the body has to work to warm itself up, thus boosting the metabolism. Try to drink a total of 8 cups of fluid per day. (8 ounce = 1 cup) Drinking green tea, oolong black tea (great choices) count towards your daily fluid intake.
  7. Add black pepper to your food. It is thought to increase metabolic rate so that the body burns calories more quickly.
  8. Have 2 TBS of balsamic vinegar a day. Balsamic vinegar is thought to help you stay full for longer. It is very low in calories and can add flavor and taste to a meal.
  9. 2 tsp of ground flax seed a day. Flax seed are high in fiber. They swell in the intestine helping to keep you full longer. They stabilize blood sugar and contain lignin’s to balance hormones.
  10. Blueberries and yogurt are natural fat blockers.
  11. Pine nuts-They are not only delicious, but pine nuts contain a fatty acid which stimulates the body to produce 2 natural appetite suppressants. Snack on them or sprinkle on salads or over yogurt.
  12. Coconut water (not coconut milk) is thought to increase metabolism and control blood sugar. It is rich in magnesium and potassium. Potassium helps convert food to muscle. There are 3 grams of fiber in a cup and is low in calories. It is an acquired taste. Low fat coconut milk can be used to enrich and add flavor to curries and stews instead of regular milk or cream.
  13. Eat 3 meals a day as well as 2 snacks. Studies have proved that eating small meals and snacks 5-6 times a day works better than consuming all your calories in one or two large meals. 
  14. Grains- People who eat rice daily weigh less than those who don’t. It is packed with fiber and nutrients. Rice is more likely to accompany veggies and lean protein dishes such as stirs fries and sushi rather than pizza and other fatty dishes. Look for whole grains. Farro has twice the protein and fiber of normal grains. Wild rice, brown rice and quinoa are great options.
  15. Cortisol, discussed in my previous blog on stress causes the body to crave sweets. This turns into belly fat. Read previous blog on stress management and the importance of sleep.
  16. Try to exercise 3-4 times a week.  I walk as I find this method the most enjoyable. It is free; you don’t need any special gear besides sneakers, sunscreen and a hat!  Most importantly, you can just walk out your door any time of the day or evening that suits you. Try adding little bursts of speed during your walk. Strap on that iPod and get going. Weight bearing exercise is very important to keep muscle and bones at a premenopausal level. If, like me you don’t like the gym, try to incorporate some weights into your weekly routine by following an exercise DVD using some hand and leg weights.                                                                      Exercise doesn’t always make you look younger. Thin women are at risk for losing too much body fat. When the face looses too much fat, it looks gaunt which is ageing and unattractive. 
  17. Tea- a simple way to stave off hunger. The catechins in tea may boost satiety.
  18. Gum works for some people to stave off cravings. Not for me personally.
  19. There are so many metabolism boosters in supplement form- These are some that I have tried.
  • Omega 3 helps to accelerate the loss of body fat.
  • Alpha Lipoic acid increases the body’s ability to take glucose into the cells causing a decrease in blood sugar and therefore accelerating weight loss
  • Astaxanthin increases physical endurance and protects the muscles.
  • Carnitine converts fat into energy and activates metabolism.
  • Calcium is great for weight loss.
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) decreases body fat especially in the abdomen.
  • Co Enzyme Q10 regulates blood sugar and enhances metabolism. It is also an important supplement to take if you are on a statin.
  • Chromium Polynicotinate (opinion varies on its effectiveness) reduces body fat, lowers blood sugar, reduces cravings and regulates appetite.
  • GLA Increases metabolic rate and helps to burn fat.
  • Zinc- about 15mg a day helps booster leptin levels.  Leptin is a protein made in fat cells. It circulates in the bloodstream and goes to the brain. Leptin tells the brain that you have enough energy stored in your fat cells. When you diet and loose fat cells, it causes a decrease in the amount of leptin produced, causing the body to go into starvation mode and store fat.
       These are some other metabolism boosters that I have not personally taken:-
Horse chestnut seed extract
White Bean extract
Raspberry Ketones

 Fat is an important part of our diet. Healthy fats are found in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, certain nuts such as walnuts and brazil nuts, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and many many more sources.  Healthy fats should not be avoided.

                                                          Belly Bloat
  1. 30 minutes of exercise or even a 10 minute walk gets digestion moving.
  2. Drinking peppermint or chamomile tea relaxes digestive muscles and relieves an inflated stomach. Lemon balm and fennel made into a tea is also supposed to have the same effect.
  3. Avoid carbonated beverages.
  4. Catch 22- Some of the super foods can cause gas and bloat. Consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, apples, pears, prunes, peaches, whole wheat bread, bran cereals, dairy, artificial sweeteners and beans can cause excess gas to build up, so consume in moderation before a special event!
  5. Eat slowly with your mouth closed to prevent gulping in air.
  6. Probiotics (good bacteria) have been found helpful in aiding digestion.
  7. Anti gas medications can be taken prior to a gassy meal to prevent the formation of gas pockets.
  8. Some forms of calcium have been known to cause gas or constipation. Try taking calcium citrate which can be taken on an empty stomach.
*Do not take any medications including supplements or embark on an exercise regiment before first checking with your doctor.

Tip for the day:
Lose weight for yourself and not for anyone else. Lose weight because YOU want to live and enjoy a long, healthy and energized life.

                                            Stay healthy, happy and safe.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at any time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coping with Stress

Today’s health and beauty buzz is on coping with stress.
The credit card bills are rolling in with most of us having over extended ourselves during the holidays. Unfortunately stress is an inevitable part of life especially in our fast paced and competitive society. People live with constant stress having to juggle the demands of marriage, kids, financial instability and work.

50% of first time marriages in the USA end in divorce.  Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst teenagers according to NIMH.  One in five high school students have seriously considered suicide. Kids today have to deal with enormous academic demands.
Stress can wreak havoc on your health and age you faster. Excessive anxiety triggers inflammation.
It compromises your immune system increasing your risk of developing colds, flu and even cancer.
It damages your brain and memory.
Your hair can thin and even fall out.
It makes you fat and may lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
It may cause headaches, poor sleep, constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Obviously stress is caused by many events beyond our control such as a serious illness or death of a loved one. Sometimes the reason is not so obvious. Keep a journal as to the causes of stress in your life and try to find a solution to minimize each one.

Useful ways to try to manage stress:-
  1.       Get a good night sleep. There are many non addictive and safe alternatives to aid sleep such as chamomile tea for relaxation before bed. Take a calcium and magnesium supplement at night instead of in the morning. Calcium and magnesium are often combined and aid in the relaxation of muscles, making it easier to sleep.
  2.       Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Levels of cortisol (stress hormone) are increased in times of stress making you crave fatty, sugary and salty foods. With a balance of lean protein and healthy carbs, blood sugar levels are kept stable.
  3.       Exercise- This boosts the production of the brains feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins and exercise helps to improve sleep. Walking in the sunlight is beneficial. Have your vitamin D levels checked. Lack of sunlight can cause a deficiency of vitamin D.
  4.      Try to avoid situations that make you anxious or remove yourself from them.
  5.       Don’t stress about what you cannot change or control. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  6.      Set yourself realistic goals and prioritize. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn to say NO.
  7.       Do something that you enjoy every day no matter how small.
  8.      Surround yourself with positive people. Negativity is contagious. This has always been my advice to my kids. Boost all the positive aspects in your life and don’t dwell on the negatives.
  9.      Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage therapy, listening to music that you love and even hypnotherapy. If all else fails, do seek counseling. Sometimes just talking it out with a close friend you can trust or a therapist is all that it needed.
  10.      Studies conducted have shown that high doses of Omega 3 fatty acids significantly improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  11.       I have found that looking forward to an event no matter how small can help with "feeling blue." Treat yourself to lunch with a friend, a facial, manicure or massage.
  12.       Rhodiola Rosea Root has the reputation for fighting fatigue and relieving stress. It is a non addictive herb and deemed to be safe.

Remember that just because the bottle says "natural or herbal", it does not necessarily mean that it cannot do harm. There are many herbs bottled for human consumption that may be potentially deadly.

*Consult with your doctor before taking any medication or vitamin supplements.

Many people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) thought to be caused by lack of light during these cold winter months, causing bouts of depression. Symptoms include irritability, lethargy, increased sleep and craving of carbohydrates. These symptoms are generally only present during the winter. Light therapy has proved beneficial. *Consult with a doctor before using light therapy.* There are contraindications for bi polar individuals which may worsen their symptoms resulting in manic behavior.

Tip for the day:
 Vitamin B complex can bolster the nervous system.  Fish oil fights inflammation.

Stay healthy, happy and safe.
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at any time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Skin protection during winter

Today’s health and beauty buzz is on the importance of protecting your skin from the harsh winter elements.
How am I ever going to get rid of these wrinkles!
It is equally important to protect the delicate skin on your face, neck and ears from the sun during those cold winter months. We tend to think about skin protection during the summer when we are outside enjoying the beach, pool or gardening and we diligently apply and reapply our sunscreen.
The winter sun can be just as powerful especially when reflected off the snow and can create powerful and painful sunburn.  UV rays penetrate through clouds, fog and windows.
  • The cold air outside has little humidity resulting in drying out the moisture in our skin. Cold winter winds can cause wind burn resulting in painful cracked and dry skin. Cover up, apply and reapply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on exposed skin.
  • The central heating in our homes dries out the air resulting in dry, irritated and itchy skin. Try using a humidifier in the rooms where most time is spent. 
  • Take care to add an extra rinse cycle to your washing machine to ensure all the soap powder is rinsed thoroughly from your clothes. Soap deposit can cause irritation such as eczema.
  • Hot water removes the natural oils from the skin, so limit time spent in the shower. It is preferable to shower but if you want to soak in a bath which so many of us find comforting, pour some soothing oatmeal or oil into the running water to prevent overly dehydrating the skin.  Attempt to keep the water warm instead of very hot.
  • Gently pat yourself dry and apply your body moisturizer whilst skin is slightly damp to help lock the moisture into your skin.
There are many kinds of body lotions, creams and oils on the market. Use a heavier one during the winter months such as a cream or an oil. It is also time to switch to milder body soap. Use one for sensitive and dry skin that does not contain heavy perfume or antibacterial ingredients which further dry the skin.
The skins on the hands particularly suffer due to the constant washing throughout the day and the use of chemicals whilst doing housework.  Use rubber gloves whenever possible and rub a rich emollient hand cream on hands and fingers massaging well into the knuckles and cuticles whenever possible. Look for one containing petroleum jelly or other skin protectorates.  Apply before bedtime and sleep with cotton gloves to lock in the moisture. The same applies to your feet. Cotton socks can be used to protect the bedding from oils. Pay special attention to ankles, knees and elbows.

Our lips are particularly prone to chapping and drying out in the cold and wind. Apply a good lip balm with an SPF throughout the day and Vaseline petroleum jelly at night before bed.
It is also time to switch up to richer creams for our faces. Use a heavier more emollient day cream followed by a good quality sunscreen applying to the face, neck, chest, ears and the backs of your hands. Use a soothing and richer night cream massaging well into the face, neck and chest area.
Avoid over washing and switch to a milder cleansing milk instead of a wash. Change to a toner with no alcohol content. Use scrubs and peels to exfoliate dead skin cells once a week on your face and body. Be cautious not to scrub and rub too vigorously as this will do more harm than good. Exfoliation helps the creams you use to better penetrate the skin.
Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
Eat a healthy diet incorporating plenty of omega 3 rich foods such as salmon, tuna, sardines, nuts (especially walnuts) seeds, soybeans and olive oil. Flax seed is a particularly good source and can be added to cereals, smoothies, yogurt, salad dressings and baked goods such as muffins, cookies and breads. Purchase the whole seeds and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. The omega 3's and the lignans are better absorbed when ground. The whole seeds pass through the intestines undigested therefore giving you little of the health benefits.

Vitamin tip: Take an omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acid supplement, as well as GLA’s obtained from borage oil, black current oil or evening primrose oil.

*Consult with your doctor prior to taking any medication, including supplements.*

Stay healthy, happy and safe.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at anytime.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Germ warfare

On today’s health and beauty buzz, I am discussing “germ warfare”.  I am a self confessed “germophobe” and drive my family crazy at times, by insisting that they leave their shoes in the garage, wash their hands and go for an annual flu shot.

It is one of the years busiest travel seasons world wide. Millions of people are boarding airplanes, trains and busses to get to their destinations. 
Research has shown that the high incidents of colds and flu after flights, is caused primarily by the low level of humidity present in the cabin.
Here are a couple of things one can do to attempt to stay germ free whilst flying. Dry air sabotages the natural defense system of the mucus membranes in the nose and throat making it easier for germs to enter the area at the back of the throat where the nasal passages meet the mouth.
  1. Stay hydrated both before and during the flight by drinking plenty of water. This will keep the mucus membranes moist and better able to fight germs.
  2. Nasal saline spray and nasal moisturizing sprays flush germs from the nose.
  3. Hot drinks are good as they provide moisture to the membranes as you inhale the steam. Try to stick to teas or hot chocolate. The caffeine in coffee is dehydrating.
  4. Make sure you have a good stash of disinfecting wipes in your purse and disinfect the surfaces around you. Wipe the arm rest, tray table and seat back in front of you. Do not touch the seat pocket in front of you. People place used tissues and even dirty diapers in these. The rhinovirus (common cold) can live on surfaces for 3 hours.  If possible, keep your personal items in a disposable bag next to you or under your seat which you can toss away later.
  5. Use your own pillow or cover the airline pillow with a cover that you have brought with you. Use your own wrap or sweater as a blanket to cover you with.
  6. Open air vents above your seat as far as they can open so that the air can move the germs away.
  7. Do not drink alcohol whilst in flight.  It depresses the immune system.
  8. Attempt to change seats if you are seated next to or behind a sick passenger.
  9. Avoid touching your face especially your eyes and nose. If you suffer from a compromised immune system or have an illness that may affect your ability to fight infection, wear a face mask whenever possible whilst onboard.
  10. Close the toilet before flushing. Bacteria filled mist can travel several feet every time you flush spraying towels, toothbrushes and surfaces, including you. Line the seat with the paper liners provided in most public restrooms or use toilet paper to cover it before sitting down. Flush the toilet using a piece of toilet paper. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and use paper towel to turn off the faucet.  Open the door by pushing it with your shoulder or foot or use paper towel if you need to grip a handle.  Fecal matter is found on the floor and will find it's way onto your purse. Hang your purse on a hook or keep it on your lap and don’t ever place it on the floor.  Needless to say, it will also find its way onto the bottom of your shoes along with as many as 9 species of bacteria which cause infection in our stomach, eyes and lungs. 90% of bacteria are tracked onto the floors of our homes by our shoes, where they remain. Carpets harbor even more germs.
  11. Whilst no supplement is proven to prevent colds, many people swear by high doses of vitamin C, zinc, echinacea or garlic.
  12. Sleep helps improve your resistance to fight infection from the cold virus, so remember to rest up once you get to your destination.
Tip of the day: Remove your shoes before walking into your home. Carry them to wherever you wish to store them and then wash your hands. 

                                                Stay healthy, happy and safe.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at any time.