Heart and Sole

February is Heart Health Month, so it is a great time to think about eating foods that make your heart healthy! Fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, benefit the hearts of both healthy people and those with cardiovascular disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish (especially fatty fish) twice a week. This is because fish is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and as stated before, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish baked or broiled instead of fried is important since fried foods may cancel out the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid with three common forms: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). DHA and EPA are found in fish and seem to have the strongest health benefits. ALA is found in vegetable oils, flaxseed, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Our bodies do not produce omega-3 fatty acids, so we must get them through our food. Omega 3 fatty acids are also sold as supplements over the counter.

Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the entire body, including the blood vessels, where inflammation may lead to heart disease.  Omega-3’s also decrease the risk of arrythmias, decrease trigylcerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke, and slow the growth of plaque formation in the arteries.  They may also improve pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis, decrease depression, decrease dementia, and decrease ADHD.

It is important to note that some fish contain high levels of mercury, PCBs and other environmental contaminants. Fish that are larger and predatory, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish have higher levels of these substances. Fish with lower levels of mercury include sole, shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Eat a variety of fish, limiting the amount of predatory fish, to keep your mercury intake low.  Pregnant women and children should be especially careful and avoid eating fish high in mercury since there may be adverse affects.

If you find you are not eating the recommended amount of fish each week, omega-3’s are available at  http://wywnutrition.com/supplement-essentials/.

Fish is easy to prepare and can be made in a variety of ways, so be sure to get your minimum two servings a week. Your heart will thank you!

Is There A “Right” Time To Exercise???

Some people are early birds and exercise at the crack of dawn while others are night owls who wouldn’t dream of getting to the gym until the afternoon or evening. Is one group reaping more benefits than the other?  While research has shown little difference in calories burned or muscle gained by exercising at various times of the day, when you exercise can influence how you feel during exercise and throughout the course of the day.

It is most important to make sure that exercise fits into your family and work schedules, or you will never stick to a routine.  That being said, there are many benefits to working out in the morning hours. First, it kick-starts your metabolism and energizes you for the day. Additionally, exercising in the morning may decrease your stress levels when you get to work. People who work out in the morning often feel better about their work-life balance. If you need to work late, you probably won’t be as upset as you’ve already completed your workout.  Starting your day with a good workout also uplifts your mood and makes you feel good about yourself.

If you have trouble with consistency, morning may be the best time to exercise. This ensures that your activity is completed before any kind of stress or pressure from the day impedes your ability to get to the gym and interferes with your good intentions. You will be less likely to skip your workout for other obligations. Morning exercise has been shown to set your pace and focus for the day. If you exercise early in the day, you may also be more motivated to make healthier food choices.

Additionally, research has shown that morning exercise improves sleep, and better sleep is correlated with weight loss. This is because sleep controls the hormonal balance that helps control appetite. People who exercise in the evening may have difficulty falling asleep, throwing this balance off. It is important to wind down before bedtime and have regular, healthy bedtime habits so that your heart rate and body temperature come to a good rest zone.

While morning is shown to be a better time to exercise for the above stated reasons, many people find it extremely difficult to wake up early and get to the gym, especially if they did not sleep well the night before or are overtired. Some people just cannot motivate in the morning, or their schedule only permits them to exercise during lunchtime or in the evening.  If you do work out at lunchtime, make sure to eat after you exercise or your digestive system will be fighting with your muscles for energy. Working out after work can be beneficial to help you unwind and relax after a stressful day. If you can’t drag yourself out of bed in the morning, you are likely to have more energy and be more productive in the afternoon, so do what works for you.

It is of upmost importance to schedule physical exercise into your life and make it a daily habit. The most important thing is to get moving, no matter what time of the day it is!

Healthy Eating in a Hurry

In our modern society, it feels as if we are always running around and pressed for time. Between work, family, and personal obligations, it is often hard to find the time to prepare nutritious, healthy meals to eat at home. The myriad of processed, easy to prepare food, and fast food restaurants offer a great allure to the busy individual trying to squeeze a meal into his/her hectic day. However, eating high sugar, high calorie processed foods devoid of nutrients and vitamins can have long lasting negative impacts on your health.  With a little preparation and planning, you can feed your family healthy and delicious food, even after a stressful day.

First, you should come up with a meal plan for the week and make a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need at the grocery store. If you know in advance what you are making for dinner, you will not have the added stress of figuring it out last minute and not having what you need on hand. Always keep healthy stock items in your pantry and freezer, such as canned tomatoes, brown rice, quinoa, beans, low-sodium stock, olive oil, garlic, onions, frozen fruit and frozen vegetables. Prepare simpler meals on busier nights when there is less time for preparation. If you are not a cooking connoisseur, there are thousands of “quick healthy meals” to choose from on the Internet.

Second, cooking becomes a lot easier if you prep your ingredients in advance.  You will save a lot of time if you can wash and dice certain foods as soon as you get home from the grocery store so they are ready to use at a moment’s notice.  You can also buy pre-cut vegetables in the store. Just remember to save more delicate vegetables that may spoil until right before cooking.  Make sure to keep gadgets, like food processors, and garlic presses, readily available to make chopping and dicing easier.

Making meals in advance and freezing them is another great way to save time. Any kind of stew or casserole can be made in advance and heated up at a later time. You can make extra portions of chicken (like a whole roast chicken) to use in more than one recipe during the week!  Prepare a large salad at the beginning of the week and use it for a few meals (don’t add dressing or it will get soggy – store it dry!)  Lastly, utilize slow cookers, rice cookers and vegetables steamers so your food cooks throughout the day and is ready to eat when you get home.

Eating nutritious meals at home does not have to be difficult or stressful. Taking just 20 minutes per week to plan out your meals will not only save you time and money, but will lead to better overall health for you and your family.

Proprioception

Proprioception is defined as the body’s ability to sense stimuli with regard to position, motion and equilibrium. It is the sense of the orientation of one’s limbs in space; the ability to know where a body part is without looking at it.  Therefore, the body is able to sense the position of its parts, analyze it, and react with proper movement. Without proprioception, we would have to constantly watch our feet while we were walking.

Balance and proprioception are not the same things. The sense of balance originates from the fluids in the inner ear. Proprioception is provided by proprioceptors, which are sensory receptors. These nerves are located inside the body and transmit information from the muscles, joints, tendons and skin to the central nervous system.

Proprioceptors control balance, coordination and agility, and by training proprioception, we can improve balance, coordination and agility. Balance is a basic skill needed in practically every activity.  The key to efficiency is changing your center of gravity to match your moves. Agility is what allows us to move gracefully without wasting motion.  It allows our joints to move through the full range of motion smoothly and confidently. Proprioception also reduces the risk of injury. For example, ankle sprains are a fairly commonly injury for athletes.  These are often caused by a lack of balance or proprioception.  Even if a runner has strong lower limbs and good endurance and flexibility, slight deviations in the terrain during running require adjustments in balance. If the athlete has not trained the neuromuscular system to react appropriately when running on uneven ground or when they have a misstep, they may be injured.

Just like any other motor activity, proprioceptive ability can be trained. Any new motor skill that involves precise movement of our arms and legs– from baseball to painting to skiing – involves training our proprioceptive sense. And just like any new skill or exercise, it requires a progression during training. Start with simple exercises and make them more complex as the individual improves.

Proprioception can be tested by standing on one leg for 30 seconds with both eyes open and then standing on one leg with both eyes closed. Beginners should start with static balance activities and advance to agility and coordination activities. Balance exercises should start on the floor and progress to unstable surfaces, such as stability trainers or wobble boards. On the stability trainer, you can perform lunges, mini-squats, etc and progress to using a resistance band and then further progress to one leg. Wobble boards are good for static balance training and can be made more difficult by using a weighted ball. Be sure to exercise caution when using unstable surfaces.

After mastering balance, you can move on to more advanced proprioception for agility and coordination. Activities used to improve agility and coordination including pivoting, twisting, jumping and cutting. Progress jumping from two legs to one leg.

It is important to use correct technique when performing proprioceptive exercises. Reduce the intensity or level of activity if you cannot perform the exercise with proper technique. In order to reduce the risk of injury, perform these exercises before you are too fatigued. It is important to consider age and body weight when engaging in proprioceptive exercises. Performed correctly, this type of core stabilization or stability training is an invaluable tool to enhance overall fitness.

 

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Baby On The Way? Exercise Away!

There are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy; these benefits last throughout the duration of the pregnancy, the labor and delivery, and the recovery period. Pre-natal activity leads to improved muscular strength and endurance, increased cardiovascular fitness, better posture, and an improvement in circulation, energy levels, and self-esteem. Additionally, exercise can decrease or prevent constipation, leg cramps, insomnia, fatigue, back pain, anxiety, depression, varicose veins, and extremity swelling.   Research also shows that women who exercise through the full term have shorter labors and easier deliveries. After delivery, studies show that fit women recover faster than unfit women and return to normal activities 40% faster.

Healthy women who do not have complications do not need to limit their exercise routines. There is no data to suggest that pregnant women should limit exercise intensity and lower target heart rate. ACSM only recommends that women continue their pre-pregnancy exercise routine, but not increase the intensity. However, there are certain medical conditions which are contraindicated to exercise, and pregnant women should be evaluated and obtain permission from their physician before a trainer begins to work with them or before they start any kind of cardiovascular program. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid any type of exercise that may have a potential for impact or that has a high degree of balance or agility needed, such as ice skating, horseback riding, or skiing.

One of the concerns about women exercising during pregnancy had been that the fetus was at risk from overheating. Under normal resting conditions, the fetal temperature is 1 degree higher than the mother’s. Current research does not show that the fetus is at risk from women who exercise vigorously early in their pregnancy. Actually, it seems that the pregnant woman’s body adapts to regulate their body temperature and dissipate heat. Pregnant women should still stay well hydrated, wear loose fitting and lightweight clothing and avoid exercising in hot and humid conditions.

While exercising, women should gauge their intensity by using RPE (rating of perceived exertion), which should be between a 5-8 on a scale of 1-10. If exercise results in increased fatigue, then intensity and/or duration should be decreased. Modify exercises that feel awkward or uncomfortable, and report any unusual discomfort or symptoms to your trainer. Focus on posture and maintain good alignment.

Pregnant women can safely perform resistance exercise, but heavy weightlifting that requires straining should be limited. It is also important to avoid lying on your back during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. This is because the extra weight of the enlarged uterus may compress the vena cava, which is the main blood vessel, which returns blood to the heart. If blood flow is restricted, blood pressure and fetal blood supply and oxygen may be decreased, which may affect fetal growth and development.

In addition to a regular exercise routine, pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, called kegels. Kegels are a very important exercise for pregnant women because they strengthen and protect the pelvic floor muscles. They help decrease urinary stress incontinence both pre and post partum. Strong muscles also prevent pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, and misalignment of some joints in the hip area. It also helps with the pushing phase of labor.

Diet is also extremely important during pregnancy. Pregnant women need to eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates. It is best to eat small frequent meals and drink fluids regularly to avoid dehydration, decreased blood sugar, and to ensure adequate nutrients. They should eat a pre-exercise snack and drink plenty of water – 6-8 oz for every 15-20 minutes of activity. Pregnancy requires an additional 300 calories per day. A woman who exercises should add 150-250 more calories on top of that. However, the best way to gauge whether a pregnant woman is eating sufficient calories to ensure adequate weight gain. Pregnancy is not a time to diet or restrict calories!!! It is also not a time to binge and eat whatever you want!

Physical activity appears to benefit both mother and baby, and as long as pregnant women realize their restrictions, they may continue their exercise regimen without any negative consequences.

Foods that Burn Belly Fat

1. Oats:

It is loaded with fiber. Oats are a great source of selinium and boosts immune system. Oats absorbs the LDL cholesterol, so called ‘bad’ cholesterol and flush it out from the body. It also cures constipation and stabilizes blood glucose level. It is low in fat and salt and can be a great food for morning breakfast.

Have a good breakfast of oatmeal will keep you going for hours while burning your belly fat at the same time. Oatmeal will last in your stomach for a good length of time, preventing your blood sugar levels from dropping. You will find no need for snacks then. Saying this though, do not choose the oatmeal which is already flavored and sweetened. Sweeten it yourself by sprinkling it with blue berries, strawberries, and other naturally sweet berries.

2. Berries:

It is a berry good idea to eat lots of berries when you are trying to burn the excess fat around your abdomen. There is a lot of fiber in something so small. Raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, grapes, acai berries, strawberries and blueberries are fantastic. There is 6 grams worth of fiber in one cup of raspberries. You can sprinkle them on your oatmeal breakfast, or make a berry smoothie to drink for your breakfast.

3. Nuts:

You will go nuts over this suggestion. Nuts! They are very good for burning the fat round your midriff. How do they slim your tummy? They slim down your tummy by keeping it full. This fact was proven by a local university, who proved that persons who ate nuts felt fuller for much longer than people who were eating rice cakes. You only need 24 Almonds a day to keep away the hunger pangs without piling up on the calories intake. There are now so many diets where almonds are a key factor in the diet, be it in salad, on breakfast as a snack that almonds are more popular now than ever.

4. Watermelons:

There has been a survey conducted in an American university regarding weight loss. People who ate Watermelons regularly lost a lot more weight than those who did not eat the watermelons. It was discovered that the watermelon was having a large effect on the plaque that builds up in the arteries because apparently it changes the effect of blood lipids and prevent belly fat build up. In the study, the students who ate watermelon instead of keeping hydrated with water found that their body weight dropped further than the water based diet.

5. Meat And Fish:

If you are fishing for a good belly fat burner. Fish is what you need. Meats and fish work very well to burn fat. The leanest meats available is Turkey, but if you wish to cut down either further then choose fish for your meal. Tuna and Salmon are perfect fish for your meals as they contain Omega 3 fish oils which are also good for your brain and they help to increase the anti-stress chemicals which will decrease your belly size. Do be careful of cured meats as they tend to contain saturated fats.

6. Soup and Salads:

It is an essential diet. The vegetable salad is good for health and make for great fat burning foods, plus when you are busy with work they are also quick and simple to prepare. It should consist of cucumber, carrot, spring onion leaves, avocado, onions, boiled mushrooms, green beans, peppers and cauliflower without cheese and mayonnaise. Also have a stick or celery in the fridge, so that if you want a snack in between meals then you can snack on a stick of celery and you will not gain weight. Tomato soup is very nutritious. It is one of the best foods that burn belly fat and prevents you from over-eating and loose excessive weight.

7. Broccoli:

It is packed with vitamin A, calcium, iron and fiber. All these help in burning fat and increase metabolism. It also prevents the risk of heart disease.

8. Skim milk:

It contains a lot of calcium and helps in burning unwanted calories. It is easily digestible and prevents building of fat in the body.

9. Salmon:

It is filled with Omega-3 amino fatty acids, improves metabolism and burning of more fat. It helps the body to fight against diseases.

10. Chicken and Turkey:

Although being meat, it contains proteins that is easily digestible and contains low fat. It contains iron which is helpful for creation of red blood cells. If the body has more red blood cells it can take more oxygen thereby and thereby metabolism increases.

11. Green tea or ginger or lemon tea:

It contains a lot of antioxidants mainly catechins, which scavenges free radicals from the body. It also contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate which reduces blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which forms block in artery walls and thus prevents cardiovascular diseases. The polyphenols in green tea dissolves triglycerides and helps in fat loss.

12. Edamame:

These are soybeans which have been lightly boiled and salted. They are excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid and fiber. They do not contain saturated fats, and also dissolves unwanted fats.

13. Olive oil:

Olive oil is great oil as it is able to control hunger. It is rich in antioxidants and should be used for cooking. It has high proportion of monosaturated fats which is easily digestible and increases metabolism without piling transfats in the body. Another advantage of this oil is that it keeps your cholesterol levels down and stops you craving for more food.

14. Water:

Everyone forgets the most natural ingredient of your diet to help you lose weight and that is water. If you drink half a pint of water before you eats a meal, you will find that it will fill your stomach up so that you are not able to eat as much food. Keep topped up on water throughout the day. Not only does it help you to lose weight but it also helps to clean your digestive system and also it will help with the proper digestion of your food, hence the burning of your body fat.

15. Noodle:

Use your noodle when it comes to a more natural diet. Kelp noodles are a natural way of eating your favorite food and losing weight at the same time. Kelp noodles are made from seaweed and only have 6 calories to their name. You eat them raw and you will find that they are very rich in minerals.

16. Lentils:

Go mental for lentils. They are rich in minerals just like Kelp noodles which will help you to keep healthy and lose your weight at the same time. Lentil soup is very nutritious and is widely available, especially in parts of India. You do not want to be using refined foods as they are no good for you. You should always stick to whole foods to aid your weight loss.

To Juice or Not to Juice

By: Denise Groothuis RD CPT

The juice cleanse has become increasing popular as consumers strive to lose weight and detoxify their body from chemicals and processed foods.  During a juice cleanse, a person is limited to solely fresh fruit and vegetable juices and water for a period of time ranging from days to weeks.  The juices are usually freshly made and unpasteurized, and they offer an average 1000-1200 kcal per day.  While many of these juices are nutritious, a liquid juice diet may be more harmful than beneficial.

Whole fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than juices since whole foods have more fiber and antioxidants in their skin and seeds; the amount of fiber and antioxidants is decreased during the juicing process.  Because there is less fiber in the juice, the body absorbs the carbohydrates at a much faster rate, which raises blood sugar levels quickly.  Additionally, satiety is decreased when you drink beverages rather than chew food, and this fact combined with the decreased fiber in juice can leave you feeling less satisfied and less fulfilled.

A diet filled with only juices is missing many critical nutrients that your body needs to function properly, including adequate protein and fat.  Protein is the building block for tissues and muscles. It is also needed for metabolism and proper hormone and immune function. Without adequate protein, your body will break down muscle as more vital cellular processes (e.g. respiration enzymes, blood cells) recycle muscle protein for their own requirements.  Fat is necessary in the body as a source of energy and for the structural components of cell membranes. Adequate fat is necessary to regulate body temperature and help protect the heart, kidneys and liver. Additionally, fat is needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins which play a role in brain development, blood clotting and managing inflammation.

It is important to recognize that a juice fast can be especially dangerous for some people. Anyone with cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, or nutritional deficiencies should avoid juice cleanses. The high antioxidant level and low protein level can be dangerous for those undergoing chemotherapy, the high sugar content can increase blood sugar levels in diabetics, and the high levels of potassium and other minerals can be dangerous for those with kidney disease.  Additionally, pregnant women and those with autoimmune diseases should avoid juices cleanses because they are unpasteurized.

Despite the aforementioned issues, many people report feeling great and having more energy while on a juice cleanse. This is most likely because the daily diet of the general population consists of many processed foods and chemicals, few fruits and vegetables, and not enough water.  One of the benefits of a juice cleanse is the number of fruits and vegetables consumed in a day; you would definitely meet the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. It can also help someone break the cycle of unhealthy eating habits.

Shoulder Pain and the Rotator Cuff

By: Dr. Rick Weinstein MD

As we get older (more mature), it is very common to develop shoulder pain. Pain may be due to specific trauma, such as lifting weights or directly hitting the shoulder, but it is much more common to develop pain without a specific injury. The most common reason for shoulder pain in adults older than 30 is due to impingement. The acromion bone, which sits on top of the shoulder, can irritate the bursa and then rub against the rotator cuff, causing impingement syndrome. This causes the development of rotator cuff tendinitis or bursitis which causes pain, typically when reaching the arm overhead. If the bursitis and tendonitis persists, this may lead to a tear of the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff consists of 4 muscles that allow us to rotate our shoulder. The most commonly torn and injured part of the rotator cuff is the supraspinatus tendon, which sits on top of the other tendons. The problem with a tear of the rotator cuff is that if there is a complete tear it will never heal. My goal as a sports medicine orthopedist is to correct the problem in the shoulder before my patients require any surgery. Almost all patients can get back to normal activities with appropriate physical therapy and avoidance of aggravating activities.

How do we prevent shoulder problems to begin with? Typically, when we work out, we stress the large muscles around the shoulder and neglect the smaller muscles. Well-defined deltoid and pecs look great, but they are only part of the shoulder that needs to be strengthened. Simple rotation exercises with the elbow at the side are extremely important to preventing rotator cuff injuries. This should be done with very light weight initially. With any shoulder workouts with weights or machines, it is best to keep the hands in front of the head and not behind the head. Shoulder presses and latissimus pulldowns should be done in front rather than behind the head.

If you develop shoulder pain or weakness of the shoulder, do not neglect this. If it persists for more than a few days, see a sports medicine specialist. It is better to identify if there is a tear or just tendonitis early on so as to prevent needing surgery. Don’t work through pain because you may be causing significant damage. It is always better to prevent an injury rather than have to fix it!

Rest to See Better Results

It is common knowledge that exercise and physical activity are beneficial to your health. But how much is too much? Many people don’t take any days off from exercising, and therefore they don’t allow any time for recovery. Too much exercise can be just as dangerous as not exercising at all!!! It is important to remember that exercise can prevent injuries, but it can also cause them! Rest and recovery is an essential part of any exercise program. In order to train more effectively, you need a recovery plan. This will have a significant impact on your fitness gains and sports performance.

During a workout, muscle fibers are damaged. When resistance is placed on a muscle through running, weight training, etc, the muscle develops tiny microscopic tears, which activate muscle building. The tears cause the formation of new muscle protein strands which increase the strength and size of the muscle. Additionally, the tears start the process of healing by creating new cells to heal the damaged tissue and relieve any soreness. This alters the homeostasis in the body, which creates stress. The greater the tear in the muscle, the more likely it is to have muscle soreness and an altered homeostatic state.
After exercise, recovery is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. Muscles are repaired and rebuilt only during the recovery period. Without proper recovery, especially after a workout that is too strenuous or prolonged, the body stays in the altered homeostatic state for longer than it should, which may lead to injuries. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon leads to tissue breakdown instead of building.

Recovery should take place both during and after workouts. It is important to rest between weight sets or cardiovascular intervals as well as between workouts in the same week. For weight training programs, never work the same muscles groups two days in a row. Rest helps replenish your energy stores, which get depleted during workouts. People often don’t find the time to rest and relax, but it is one of the easiest things to do to promote recovery and repair. One easy way to recover faster is to design a smart workout routine in the first place. You will limit your progress and undermine your recovery with excessive exercise, heavy training at every session or a lack of rest days.

Stretching is another way to aid the recovery process. It prevents the muscles from becoming knotted and helps improve flexibility. Additionally, it is important to remain hydrated to aid in muscle recovery and to keep heart rate and blood pressure stable. Water supports every metabolic function in your body and must replaced when lost through sweat. A lot of fluid can be lost during strenuous workouts and it needs to be replaced both during and after exercise. Endurance athletes who sweat for hours and lose large amounts of water especially need to replace their fluids for optimal performance and recovery.

Sleep is also extremely important. It is imperative to get between 7-9 hours of sleep to ensure hormones and chemicals like growth hormone and cortisol are produced and in balance. GH is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair. Sleep also enhances protein synthesis, boosts immune function, and helps relax the nervous system. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly.

The most important thing you can do to improve fitness, prevent injury and speed up recovery is to listen to your body. If you feel tired or sore, take a break or rest. Your body will tell you what it needs if you pay attention to it, rather than ignore the warning signs. The best way to ensure you are training and resting optimally is to consult with a personal trainer to design an effective exercise program and help prevent you from overtraining.