Wednesday, August 30, 2006

By All Means … Go Bananas

Bananas have been used for many things, such as movie props (people slipped on them as we howled with laughter). Woody Allen used them for a title in one of his movies. They were utilized to write silly songs … this great fruit is much more than something to laugh at!

Banana's have been touched on to define certain emotional outbursts, and have been frozen, dipped in chocolate, and had their peels smoked by a particular type of people in the 1960's. Jokes, certain references and the smell of one left in our book bags for a week have carved the banana into our thoughts forever. Yet, with all of this fantastic press this fruit has gotten through the years, we still forget to just eat them plain and simple.

If you're rushing out of the house in the morning and need something to eat real fast, check out with a banana. If you crave something sweet to pick you up in the afternoon, try letting a banana raise you to new heights. If you have imbibed too much alcohol the night before and wish you hadn't, a banana is your best friend.

On an average, like most fruits and vegetables, the banana contributes 1% of our daily intake of fat, 7% of protein, 10% of calories, 20% niacin, thiamine and iron, 25% magnesium and 35% of vitamin B6. One medium size raw banana contains about 100 calories and about 32 grams of carbohydrates, making it a very useful and healthy energy source. Bananas are soothing to the digestive tract and the large amount of potassium in one banana, about 300 mg., will replace the huge amount lost when we drink too much as well as the potassium deficiencies brought on by certain medications.

Even though just eating a banana plain is pretty good, eating a sliced banana on cereal can be positively blissful. It gets soggy in fruit salad but on a peanut butter sandwich it is the wind beneath the breadth.

Making your own banana bread lets you decide what's in it.

Basic Banana Bread Recipe
Makes one loaf

2 cups of sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar or blackstrap molasses
2 eggs, beaten
3 medium ripe bananas
½ cup milk, yogurt, buttermilk, soymilk, or rice milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar or molasses. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, bananas, milk, butter mixture and the rest of your ingredients.* When well-blended, pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out dry.

*You can add spices to this basic banana bread recipe, such as cinnamon, ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg. You can add more vitamins in the form of shelled unsalted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, dried apricots, figs dates, cranberries, currents or nuts. In summer, try one with fresh peaches and cinnamon. In fall, try apples. Mash the bananas thoroughly or leave them in small chunks. Make two loaves and freeze one or give one as a gift.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weight Reducing Diets

If you want to lose weight, you will be surrounded by numerous diets that claim to be the best weight reducing diets available. The thought is indeed tempting, but have you ever wondered whether these diets are really good for your body? A close look at all the currently available diets that claim to lose weight will help you make your decision easier.

Liquid diets

What you take in: The diet plans to replace two meals and one snack per day with a milk shake. This shake is made from eight ounces of skimmed milk and a powdered drink mix. The third meal should have a calorie count of 600 calories and it should be a low fat combination of nutrient dense foods. The milk shake has a calorie content of 200 calories; hence the total daily intake amounts to 1200 calories.

Length: Indefinite

Positives: The milk shake is made using a formulated mix and hence it is well balanced. So combining it with a meal, makes your meal well-balanced.

Negatives: The pounds return once you go back on solid foods. You also miss on the important plant substances that protect you from diseases.

The grapefruit diet

What you take in: Breakfast consists of half a grapefruit along with a cup of black coffee. Lunch includes half a grapefruit along with an egg, cucumber, a bread slice and plain tea or coffee, while dinner you can have two eggs, half a head of lettuce, a tomato, grapefruit and tea or coffee. The total calories amount to about 800 per day.

Length: Three weeks

Positives: The nutritive content of grapefruit is responsible for all the positive points. Grapefruit is low in calories and sodium but very high in vitamin C. Being rich in water and fibre, it gives you a feeling of being full.

Negatives: Any diet restricted to one food cannot be healthy. The grapefruit diet will not provide you with calcium, a vital bone mineral, iron and many other vitamins and minerals required for the proper functioning of the body.

Food combining diets (Beverly hill diet)

What you take in: You eat a generous serving of only fruits for the first 10 days. Half a pound of bread, two tablespoons of butter and three ears of corn follow this on the 11th day. This continues till day 19th when a complete protein such as steak or lobster is included.

Length: three weeks

Positives: It provides you with a greater variety of foods in the later days and hence can be followed easily.

Negatives: This diet has been judged as extremely low in vital nutrients and may even cause diarrhoea, which further results in loss of nutrients from the body. This diet promotes muscle breakdown to cope with the protein deficiencies.

Cabbage soup diet

What you take in: Drink cabbage soup to your heart's content along with a specific food in unlimited or fixed amounts as specified. On day 1 you can have any fruit except banana to any amount. Day 2 is the vegetables day, which includes a baked potato. On day 3 you can have fruits and vegetables except potato. Day 4 allows you to have a maximum of eight bananas along with skimmed milk. From day 5 onwards you can have non-vegetarian food. On day 6 you can have six tomatoes along with a maximum of 20 ounces of beef, chicken or fish. This is followed by unlimited beef, chicken or fish on day 6. Day 7 is the cereal day and you can have brown rice, vegetables and unsweetened fruit juice.

Length: One week

Positives: You will lose weight quickly while eating as much as you like.

Negatives: Being too low in complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, this diet results in weakness and a decreased ability to concentrate.

Sugar busters

What you take in: You eat all food other than those high in refined sugars. These foods include potatoes, corn, white rice, white bread, beets, carrots and sugar in most forms (moderate amounts of fructose and lactose can be taken). The total calorie intake should amount to 1200 calories per day.

Length: indefinite

Positives: You decrease your reliance to refined foods, which is the main aim for overall good health. You take in complex carbohydrates as a result of which the fibre intake increases. Fibre has numerous beneficial effects on the body.

Negatives: There is no scientific evidence of fact that increased sugar intake is associated with increase in weight. So you lose weight because of calorie restriction and not solely due to low refined carbohydrates.

Whatever diet you ultimately choose is a call you have to make. But before taking a decision remember to evaluate the pros and cons carefully.

Do Kids Need to Exercise?

For little kids life is a ball, literally. Their job is to play and they space it out with school- work. As a child, playing games teaches them freedom of expression, gives them a sense of worth and provides an opportunity to deal with a plethora of emotions: elation associated with winning, disappointment on losing, team spirit, camaraderie and just the joy of playing with and against other kids. That's why kids, especially between the ages of 12-16, don't really need to exercise like adults do because their daily routine involves physical activity in different hues and amounts.

But where they, the school and as parents you go wrong is when this play lessens as they get older. As pressures of tests and exams mount, it's playtime that takes a backseat. However, this should not be the case. Kids should be made aware of the importance of including some amount of physical activity that will continue to run all through their lives. This must be inculcated in them right from the start. The problem starts once the growth spurts settle down, when unspent calories begin to add up and when incorrect habits become a part of the lifestyle. It does not take a "Eureka" to realise that this is one of the gifts you can leave for our children.

Barriers to this utopia

There is a certain mindset that hampers this imbibing. On the one hand, most schools and homes, disregard the child's interest in sports and related activities. Their focus is on pure academics, which they believe will hold them in higher stead. Granted that this is true to some extent, but there has to be a balance inculcated right from the beginning. On the other hand, a misconception most likely made is that brawn and brain do not have their place together. But this is something you can change in our children. Psychologists have recently added sports acumen to be considered as an important component of intelligence.

What can be done

Parents can make up for this lapse by ensuring that play should be a part of their child's everyday life. So be it tennis in the neighborhood, cricket in the building, squash at the sports arena, swimming at the local club or just a game of gulli danda, encourage them to partake of it in good spirit. Parents should also recognise signs of latent talent in their kids and take that extra effort to cultivate and hone those skills. It will add another feather in your child's cap. So if it means driving miles to take them to attend a coaching class, in the long run it may just be worth the while.

Also this should be done in as subtle a manner as possible. Because the minute there is too much pressure from the parent's end without the same enthusiasm from the child, the child loses interest. Parents must also keep in mind that each child is different and should not be compared either with a sibling or friend or cousin, or for that matter, with the child's own previous performance. Neither should their faults be highlighted. The idea is to allow the child to go through the experience itself whatever may be the outcome. The aim of the game is not only in the winning but also in the participation!

Some parents also ask if their child should attend a gymnasium at such a young age. My feeling is that even though there are a lot of kids these days who visit gyms because it's hip, you can find more innovative ideas that will take care of your child's physical activity needs. It is also advisable to allow full physical growth to take its natural course and then start a weight-training program. In the case of very obese children, a simple brisk walk everyday should be able to do the trick, along with sensible diet plans to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients.

To wrap up, as parents you need to balance play and work in your child's life equally to ensure that your child is not only endowed with brains but also an equal measure of brawn.

Aerobics for the Diabetic

While exercising, do you experience sudden drops in energy levels, feel giddy, weak, disoriented, and suffer from excessive sweating? Also, do you have frequent hunger pangs, headaches, and trembling sensations? If yes, then you should get your blood sugar checked. You may be having diabetes. In diabetes, insulin malfunctioning leads to either low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). If you are a diabetic, your main concern should be to normalize your blood sugar level. This is where aerobics could be of great help to you.

Aerobics can counter some of the factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, ageing or even stress, which are instrumental in causing diabetes. In addition, aerobics is also helpful for diabetics because it :

  • Lowers your blood sugar levels. This decreases your chances of medical complications.
  • Decreases insulin requirements.
  • Prevents adult-obesity . Aerobics suppresses the appetite and increases the metabolic rate.
  • Enhances your capacity for physical work . This is achieved by developing lean muscle and helps in the control of diabetes.
  • Regulates blood lipids and lowers your cholesterol levels.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease through the above benefits.
  • Increases your endurance , strength and thus improves your self-esteem.

If you are diabetic and plan to begin an aerobics programme, you must take the following precautions:

  • Have the disorder under control . And get your blood sugar tested. It would also be advisable to get your oral glucose test, insulin secretion test and also a stress test done for cardiovascular fitness levels.
  • Begin with low-intensity alternative aerobics. Try a few weeks of walking or bicycling to see how your body responds to physical activity.
  • Exercise at the same time everyday. This will prevent hypoglycemia if done at the prescribed intensity & duration. Do not exercise when your insulin is at its peak. Have a snack half an hour before exercising.
  • Choose the site of insulin injection. Do not inject insulin close to the muscles being exercised since muscle contraction during exercise will push it directly into the bloodstream. This will cause premature hypoglycemia.
  • Keep some candies or fruit juices within reach to counteract hypoglycemia.
  • Do not perform aerobics more than three to five times in a week. Always take a day off to replenish your body's carbohydrate reserves.
  • Stick to low-impact movements. Your insulin requirements will drop as much as 20 per cent during initial adaptation to aerobics. It may take you two weeks to respond to new levels.
  • Keep checking the intensity of your workout.
  • Ensure a suitable floor surface, shoes, and socks. This is to minimize your chances of injury.
  • Take time off during cold and flu season. Diabetics take longer to recuperate so be careful not to contact communicable diseases.
  • Know about first aid procedures . And do not leave your class alone, looking for sugar during a hypoglycemic stage.

So in case you are guilty of not exercising because of diabetes, here's your chance to make amends and start exercising in the right spirit.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Golden Rules of Losing Weight

Old habits die hard. If you love burgers and chips, chances are that you'll find it painful to give them up. But if you want to lose weight permanently, then you have to be willing to change your eating habits. Otherwise you are bound to put on the kilos as soon as you revert to the chips and burgers lifestyle. Here are some golden rules to help you maintain your ideal weight.

1. Don't Overeat
Remember that moderation is the key to success. For instance, at parties and weddings, don't go overboard on eating and drinking. As part of your nutritional discipline avoid going to parties on an empty stomach, or else you are bound to overeat. Do you know that 85 per cent of obesity is due to disorders of metabolism? So if you have a tendency to gain weight, then faulty and excessive eating and drinking may only aggravate such factors making it easier for you to gain fat and more and more difficult to lose it later. So eat and drink in moderation, so that you can continue to enjoy eating tasty foods throughout your life. Keep a check on your weight periodically, stick to your nutritional discipline and you will add life to your years. Remember, eat to live not live to eat.

2. Say yes to Exercise
The only way to truly lose weight is to complement your diet with regular exercise. Research has shown that moderate exercise actually depresses the appetite - no wonder that sedentary people tend to eat more than physically active people. This means that inactivity combined with overeating is sure to result in a build-up of body fat. That is why it is important to eat correctly and exercise regularly if you want to lose body fat. You could be walking, running, cycling or doing other aerobic activities which burn calories and reduce fat. The best exercise is that which can be included in your daily schedule and done consistently.

3. Eat Only At the Dining Table
Do you normally eat while watching your favorite soap opera? No wonder you eat more than you actually should be. Good eating habits include eating at the same time each day and only at the dining table. This way you'll be eating only when you are truly hungry.

4. Eat Slowly And Chew Thoroughly
If you have a tendency to overeat, chances are that you gulp your food. Research has shown that when you are really hungry, a fall in blood sugar triggers an appetite mechanism in your brain, creating a desire for food. When you eat, it takes about 20 minutes for your blood to absorb sugar and to circulate it to your brain where the sensation of hunger can be switched off. But if you eat too rapidly, you may overload your stomach before your appetite mechanism has a chance to diminish your desire for food. So the next time you stuff that parantha into your mouth, remember this nugget. Take time to taste and savour each bite. If you eat slowly, chances are you'll experience satisfaction and quit eating when you have had enough.

5. Don't Drink Water with your food
Drinking water along with your meals automatically dilutes the gastric juices which are required in proper concentration to carry out digestion, which is a must for good health and maintenance of ideal weight.

6. Avoid Junk Food
Next time you want to have a cola, reach for that glass of freshly-squeezed juice. Difficult as it may appear to be, limit your intake of junk food, as it is high in fat. Do you tend to stuff yourself with refined foods, snacks, cakes, pastries and desserts? Unfortunately, all that they do is add up to your fat deposits, without giving you balanced nutrition. If you have a sweet tooth and find it difficult to resist sweets, keep a ready supply of fresh fruit salad, puffed rice, popcorn, curd, skimmed milk etc. to satisfy an irresistible urge to snack. Limit your intake of sweets, chocolates, ice-creams, pastries to only a few bites and that too preferably after you've eaten your balanced meal.

7. Remind Yourself Of Obesity & Health Hazards
Never forget that being obese is an open invitation to heart disease, high blood pressure, diseases of the gall-bladder, diabetes, joint pains, various forms of hernias, cancer etc. So keep working towards maintaining your ideal weight. With a slim & trim figure and a new you, bring happiness back into your personal and professional life. Stick to your regimen of daily exercise and a balanced diet and you will improve

Monday, August 21, 2006

The A to Z of Fad Diets

If you have a clear idea about dieting, why some diets fail while others work, it shouldn’t be difficult choosing a weight-loss programme. Here’s the lowdown on some of today's hottest diet programmes. These include the Atkins diet, the Blood-type diet, the Low-fat diet, the Juice diet, the Pritkin diet and the Zone diet. Let’s take them one by one:

1. Atkins Diet
By eating foods high in protein and fat and limiting foods high in carbohydrate, we can increase our metabolism. Atkins proposes that eating a large amount of carbos results in overproduction of insulin, which leads to increased hunger pangs and consequently weight gain. Thus consuming protein and fat is highly encouraged, while carbohydrate intake is limited to between 15-60 grams per day.

Many people like feasting on foods rich in fat such as steak, bacon and butter, especially since these foods aren't typically considered diet foods. For others, the increase in protein decreases food cravings and leads to rapid weight loss.

The flip side is that eating unlimited amounts of saturated fat can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. A diet that limits carbohydrates causes the body to rely on muscle or fat for energy (recall that carbohydrate is the body's primary fuel source). When the body breaks down stored fat to supply energy, ketone is formed. Ketones may suppress appetite, but they also cause fatigue, nausea and a potentially dangerous fluid loss. Anyone with diabetes or heart or kidney problems should not follow a diet that promotes the formation of ketones. The overwhelming consensus is that this diet is a complete failure. Any weight loss is immediately regained (and usually more). It's unhealthy and dangerous!

2. Blood-type diet
Depending on your blood type, there is a detailed list of foods to avoid. This is because each blood type has its own antigen marker that doesn't react well to certain foods.

Do you like the idea of eating only certain foods? Do you enjoy measuring foods and timing every meal? If you answered yes to both, then this diet may be for you.

But the odds are that if your blood type is 0 positive and your spouse is AB negative, then you've got your work cut out for you with regard to food shopping and cooking. The list of each blood type's food restrictions eliminates specific groups of foods -- that means you're guaranteed to miss out on nutrients you need. Most experts expressed amazement that a diet premise this absurd found a following. What's blood type got to do with weight loss? According to the experts, nothing.

3. Juice Fasts
For one to five days, you drink juice and nothing but juice (100 per cent fruit and vegetable juices). You may dilute your juices with water, but no salt, sugar or additives are allowed.
The good thing is that you don't have to think about what you'll be having for breakfast, lunch or dinner, because it'll always be the same: juice. The pounds will appear to drop off because of the very low calorie intake (although you're really losing mostly water). Some believe juice fasts allow the body to rejuvenate and cleanse itself.

But if you are living only on juice, then you’ll soon turn into a couch potato, having energy only to flip channels. This diet will also slow your metabolism to a grinding halt in the fastest possible time. And what about returning to solid foods post-fast? Ease back in with foods that are easy to digest because your tummy has taken a vacation and needs some time to get back up to speed.

You're asking for trouble when you try fasting (unless you're supervised by a physician). Your body is usually worse off after the fast than when you started. This happens because your body will try to protect itself for the next time it is starved by storing excess calories as soon as you stop fasting. This means you could eat less than you ate before the fast and yet gain weight.

4. Low-fat diets
Fat has more than double the calories of carbohydrates and proteins, so if you reduce the fat in your diet you'll lose weight. Only 20 per cent of the calories you eat come from fat, so the foods at the very top of the food pyramid (butter, mayonaisse, salad dressing) are greatly reduced or eliminated. Swap fatty foods (fried, snack foods, cheeses, meats) with lower-fat versions or eat smaller portions. If you are at risk for heart disease, obesity or cancer, then reducing your intake of saturated fat (animal fat, cheese and dairy products) is a smart choice. Low-fat diets promote foods like fruits and vegetables, which are low in fat and rich in nutrients.

A low-fat diet isn't healthy and won't work if those low-fat or nonfat foods are not fresh. Eating foods high in sugar, but low in fat inevitably leads to the snackwell syndrome. This happens when a large quantity of fat-free snacks are consumed because they don't contain fat. Often, fat-free is confused with calorie-free, so you think it's okay to polish off the box. Fat-free processed foods will definitely cause you to pile on the pounds if you eat too much.

Eating excess fat is not the only reason people gain weight. You gain weight when you eat more calories than your body can use. Studies show that people who cut down fat intake well below 30 per cent tend to add more calories to their diet because they're hungry. The less fat you have in your diet, the hungrier you'll be. The American Dietetic Association recommends that less than 30 per cent of the day's total calories should come from fat and less than 10 per cent from saturated fat.

5. The Pritikin diet
Developed to treat heart disease, Pritkin is a very low-fat, primarily vegetarian diet that is based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Which foods aren't allowed? Processed foods such as pasta and white bread, animal proteins, eggs and most types of fats.

Who would dispute the health benefits of eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and less fat? This diet is perfect for those who don't like calorie counting or watching portions. However, low-fat diets often increase hunger leading to overeating. When you significantly decrease the fat in your diet, your body will start craving calories from sugars and carbohydrates. Pritkin can also be low in vitamins and minerals, due to the elimination of many types of foods.If you have heart disease or a strong family history of heart disease, then Pritikin is the answer for you. When it comes to weight loss, this diet is too low in fat and restrictive to stay on long enough to lose weight and keep it off.

6. The Zone diet
Like the Atkins diet, this is a high-protein diet. It proposes that a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet decreases hunger and consequently weight. Unlike Atkins, the Zone allows greater carbohydrate intake: the diet's breakdown is 40 per cent protein, 30 per cent fat and 30 per cent carbohydrate. All meals and snacks follow this 40:30:30 ratio, which allows the body to work within its peak performance zone for utmost energy and weight loss.

The Zone's low-calorie intake allows you to drop weight rapidly while eating foods like bacon and steak. The health risks, like heart disease and cancer, are similar to the Atkins Diets, though little lesser as Zone allows for more healthy carbohydrates, such as veggies and fruits. You may drop pounds quickly, but you regain them just as fast once you go off the diet. Lastly, the time it takes to follow the Zone's stringent guidelines is like having a part-time job.

The Zone's popularity can be attributed to good word of mouth because people have lost weight on the diet. Why does it work? Because it's a low-calorie diet in disguise. When you decrease your calories, weight loss will soon follow. But as soon as you eat that extra bite, you know what your body will do with it. Both the American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association disapprove strongly of the Zone primarily due to its high protein content.

Now that you know more about the different kinds of diets, it might make it easier for you to decide which diet you want to follow. On the other hand, it might just make it all the more harder.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Burn More Calories While You Sleep

Are you are dieting but it just doesn't seem to be working for you? Are you doing aerobics every day and still not losing weight? If you're not losing weight and you are getting discouraged, maybe you need a kick-start! Your metabolism could be stuck.

Your metabolism is what tells your body how many calories it needs to consume to keep it going. Our metabolisms can get stuck at some point and sometimes need a kick-start to get going again. The best way to speed up a stuck metabolism is by building up your muscles. To build muscles, men and women should begin lifting weights or strength training.

How does lifting weights speed up your metabolism? By building muscles. A pound of muscle burns 20 times more calories than a pound of fat. Even while you are sleeping, reading a book, surfing the Internet or doing aerobics, stronger muscles are burning more calories than weak muscles or fatty tissue. Muscles need more caloric energy to keep them working. Your dieting and all other physical exercise will be more effective if you have strong muscles. You will find you will lose and keep off the weight better too.

Our bodies can lose muscle mass at anytime during our life. But most people start losing muscle more rapidly at around age 40. We can lose a half a pound a year of muscle if we allow ourselves to. Around this age, or at an even younger age, many women and men start seeing their weight going up, up and up. It is true that the metabolism changes and slows down around age 30 or 40, but this is directly related to muscle loss and can be counteracted with strength training.

The best way to keep your metabolism high is to lift weights and build those muscles back up. It is never too late to start. The muscles you build from lifting weights are more compact and will look better in your clothes too. Another added benefit of weight training is a reduced risk of osteoporosis. You do not need to go to the gym to lift weights. You can buy three-pound, five-pound and eight-pound weights to begin with, and work out at home.

While you are building up your muscles to burn more calories you can continue to diet. By understanding how many calories a healthy strong muscle can burn in a day your diet will be more effective. Here is what you need to know about dieting, burning calories and exercise:

To lose one pound of stored fat you must decrease your calories; either by decreasing your caloric intake of food by 3,500 or burning 3,500 calories through exercise or a combination of both. You cannot, and should not, do this all in one day; but over one week would be reasonable. A woman who normally consumes 2,500 calories a day, can reduce her caloric intake by 250 a day, then lift weights and do an aerobic activity to burn another 250 calories or more. This will equal 500 less calories per day. She would lose one pound a week and four pounds a month with this routine. Double the exercise and decrease the food intake further, and she will lose two pounds a week. That is eight pounds a month. This is a good combination of diet and exercise. It is important to remember, however, to avoid serious medical risks, nobody should consume less than 1,500 calories a day.

Make your dieting more effective; begin burning more calories 24 hours a day with your new stronger muscles, even while you are sleeping. Remember a pound of muscle burns 20 times more calories than a pound of fat. Turn that fat into muscle and you will love the results. Start slow and continue strength training today. You can join a gym to learn how to lift weights or buy a video and lift small weights at home. However you do it -- make sure you do it! The results will be amazing.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Gain Power, Not Weight, as You Age

I know it is hard to believe that as you age you can actually increase your muscle power. Everything we have ever heard tells us we lose strength, not gain it.

The University of Connecticut Health Center did a 10-year study with adults at least 60 years of age. They worked up a program to bring the participants into the best possible shape and increase their strength, and endurance.

If you want to put a halt to the inevitable decline in physical strength, then this program is for you. This is a good exercise program that reduces the physical effects of aging and in many incidences actually increases physical power.

The key is to do both cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercises. You can join a gym, health club or exercise class at a senior center, or you can work out on your own. The main thing is to combine the two physical exercises. Even ordinary things such as gardening and cleaning your house can help, but it isn't enough. You need a concentrated exercise routine. Experts recommend three times a week for one-hour sessions. You alternate between cardiovascular workouts and weight training. In between the sessions you should walk.

An exercise program is important not for a short period of time but for your life. The hope is that you will continue and stall some of the effects of aging. The ideal is to work on difference sections of the body and devote about 15-minutes to each part. So that is 15-minutes to concentrate on the lower body, upper body, abdomen and back. A wonderful side effect is increased balance. This is very important because many injuries such as hip fractures are due to poor balance.

According to the University of Connecticut study the resistance exercises and weight training improves strength and balance even in frail elderly. If you want to remain independent as you age into your 70s and 80s, start your exercise program today.

Fitness for Seniors - ‘An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure’

When it comes to our health and fitness, the quote above is sage advice, indeed. But being 'out of shape' does not mean that you cannot 'get in shape.' This is true not only for people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, but for people in their 90s as well.

Recent research has found that when it comes to exercise, you need a combination of three types: weight training for strength; aerobic exercise for strength and endurance; and calisthenics (stretching, bending and twisting exercises) for flexibility. Studies have found that violent physical exertion is no more useful to gaining and maintaining fitness than is moderate exercise. What is more, violent physical exertion can result in an increased risk of injury or heart attack for those who are not in prime physical condition. So, start off slow and go slow with your new exercise program.

Walking and other aerobic exercises done at a pace that makes you breathe a little harder and work up a mild sweat for a half hour to one hour, three days a week, will keep your heart, lungs and vascular system in good working order while strengthening your bones and muscles.

Exercise intensity for aerobic conditioning is measured by heart rate. A good activity level is 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is determined by subtracting your age from 220. Thus the recommended exercise heart rate for a 60-year-old person is 112 beats per minute. People who have not been exercising should begin using 60 percent of their maximum heartbeat as the target heart rate and can ultimately move up to 80 percent once they have reached their maximum fitness level.

Do not attempt a strenuous workout during hot, humid weather, and wait until at least two hours after eating before engaging in moderate to heavy exercise. Warning signs of overexertion include an inability to talk, dizziness or disorientation, nausea, or pains in your chest, upper back, left shoulder or arm. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your physician as soon as possible.

To avoid excess strain on the heart and injury to your muscles, warm up for about five minutes before working out, and cool down after exercising. Never abruptly stop exercising, since the sudden stop in motion can cause lightheadness or muscle cramping.

Walking is a good exercise because it can be done at a pace that you easily can set for yourself, it takes no equipment other than a pair of good walking shoes, it can be done at virtually any time, and it can be done on your own. Walking strengthens muscles in the lower body, helps to repair joints, bone and tissue, and helps to ward off or slow osteoporosis. Since walking only works the lower half of the body, other aerobic exercises as well as exercises that increase flexibility should be included in your routine. Other good aerobic exercises for weight-bearing joints include dancing, tennis, racquetball, basketball and biking.

Before beginning an exercise program, check with your personal physician and start off slow to avoid overexertion and accidents. Stick with it. Varying the type of physical activity you engage in will help to use all the major muscle groups in your body and avoid overuse of any one major muscle group. It will also prevent boredom.

Aerobic exercise not only strengthens your bones and muscles, which helps to prevent osteoporosis, it also strengthens your heart and helps to maintain your lung capacity. Aerobic exercise slows or prevents the buildup of cholesterol plaque in the veins and arteries (atherosclerosis), and helps to ward off arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, by keeping them flexible, thus reducing high blood pressure, which plays a major role in heart disease and strokes. Exercise also improves the functioning of the liver, pancreas and other vital organs.

Sustained aerobic exercise can help to control late onset or type II diabetes mellitus since it aids in the metabolism of sucrose (before beginning an exercise program however, one with diabetes mellitus should undergo a detailed medical evaluation with appropriate diagnostic studies). What is more, exercise helps to spur the production of human growth hormone, which otherwise ceases to be produced after about age 50. Human growth hormone helps to maintain the size and strength of muscles that diminish as we age.

If you have arthritis and other joint or motion-impeding conditions, swimming is an excellent aerobic exercise. It offers many of the benefits of other aerobic exercises without putting undue stress on joints that, because of arthritis or injury, are unable to repair and rebuild themselves in the normal manner. Swimming, however, unlike weight-bearing aerobic exercises, does not aid in the rebuilding of bone; therefore, it is not helpful in preventing or slowing osteoporosis, nor does it appear to be helpful in reducing weight.

Physical exercise not only increases the metabolic rate so that more calories are burned during the activity, it also continues for several hours after you have stopped. What is more, as you improve your muscle tone and enlarge your muscles, they will burn more calories even when you are engaged in sedentary activities.

Perhaps all of this isn't news to some, but if it is, keep in mind the old adage, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' Whether you're 19 or 90, it's never too late to get into shape.

Net Nutrition: Don’t Get Fooled by ‘Myth’ Information

Nutrition information is proliferating in cyberspace. Your computer can take you to breaking nutrition news, the latest weight loss advice, nearly endless nutrition resources, interactive online diet programs and even the chance to 'chat' with professionals. However, you still need to separate fact from fiction.

Like other media, the "information super highway" is also littered with biased opinions, questionable advice, and sometimes flat-out misinformation. Use the same healthy skepticism with online information that you use to evaluate other nutrition information in the "brick" and "mortar" world.

How can you determine if a Website provides sound nutrition information?

Be your own nutrition "myth" information detective. Use this checklist as your guide.

Does the site:

  • Identify its owner or sponsor? That's a clue to the site's perspective or potential bias.

  • Name its content contributors, along with their credentials and an affiliation, if applicable? For instance, does the site have nutrition content writers who are true nutrition experts, such as registered dietitians?

  • Base its facts and figures on cited, science-based sources, not just opinions? Opinions can be intriguing and informative, but only when you know they're opinions and they're not disguised as solid facts.

  • Provide links to other credible online sites? Check out the links yourself.

  • Have regular updates and postings? If so, it's usually a better (but not fool proof) indicator of sound nutrition information than one with irregular updates or only periodic postings.

  • Seem to have a bias, as in, does it sells products based on the site's nutrition information? Judge for yourself, see if you believe there's a connection.

Happy nutrition myth-detecting!

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Basics of Stretching

For any type of stretching the main goal is to relax the muscles. Relax yourself while stretching. The more relaxed your mind, the more relaxed your muscles. You don't need to go out and buy a yoga CD, but it won't hurt either.

  1. Relax
  2. Stretch slowly and in a controlled motion
  3. Don't bounce
  4. If you experience pain let up on the stretch or stop
  5. Don't compare your flexibility with someone else's
  6. Breathe slowly and rhythmically

Don't hold your breath

Stretching slowly will allow your muscle to lengthen itself more slowly. This will relax the muscle more and reduce the risk of quick movements ripping the muscle in an unpleasant way. If the motion of the stretch is controlled, as opposed to quick and jerky, the muscle is ensured to get a full stretch.

Bouncing to try to ease the pain of the stretch will not increase flexibility. Bouncing is an inconsistent movement in a stretch that will increase the chance of injury and decrease getting a good stretch.

Going with the theme of injury, stretching can be as painful as a weightlifting injury. If you feel pain while stretching, you are stretching too far. It doesn't matter how far you stretch really. It only matters that you are stretching. Stretch as far as you feel you can without pain. After a good workout the last thing you want to do is pull a muscle stretching.

All people are at different levels of flexibility. Don't worry if you are not Richard Simmons. Very few people will be able to stretch like Plasticman at first. (Note: if you ever stretch like Plasticman, start a movie career or tour with the circus).

Breathing slowly and in a rhythm helps you and your muscles to relax. Breathing rhythmically will usually come naturally if you are relaxed.

Holding your breath can be a sign that you are stretching to far. If you are stretching too far and it becomes painful, the tendency is for a person to hold their breath. It is a good idea to keep a steady breathing pattern anyway, as the human body often responds well to consistent patterns and rhythms. It can help you relax, which is of course they key to stretching well.

Everything You Want to Know About Vitamin K


Vitamin K is known as a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it dissolves in fat. Fat is what carries this vitamin throughout the body and aids in its absorption. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body, so it is important to get only needed amounts.

There are several different forms of vitamin K. Phylloquinone is the natural form of vitamin K. Menadione is the synthetic form of vitamin K. Menaquinone is the form that is produced by the body. Vitamin K is made in the body, as well as obtained from the diet.


The primary function of vitamin K is to help make a protein called prothrombin, which is essential for helping the blood to clot when you are bleeding. It also helps the body make some other body proteins for blood, bones and kidneys.

Foods it is found in

The best sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and turnip greens. Several other foods provide smaller amounts such as milk, other dairy products, meat, eggs, wheat bran, wheat germ, cereal, some fruits and other vegetables.

The body is also able to produce vitamin K from certain bacteria in the intestines.

How much you need

The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin K for females age 11 to 14 years is 45 micrograms; age 15 to 18 years is 55 micrograms; age 19 to 24 is 60 micrograms; and for females 25 and over the RDA is 65 micrograms. The RDA of vitamin K for males age 11 to 14 years is 45 micrograms; age 15 to 18 years is 65 micrograms; age 19 to 24 is 70 micrograms and for males 25 and over the RDA is 80 micrograms.

Not getting enough vitamin K can cause blood to not coagulate or clot normally. Vitamin K deficiency is very uncommon except for in the cases of rare health problems. Chronic use of antibiotics can destroy some of the bacteria in the intestines that produce vitamin K, which can cause a problem.

No symptoms have been observed when consuming too much vitamin K. Moderation is always the best policy. The most toxic form is supplements. Because of this, vitamin K supplements are usually only available through prescription. People that take blood-thinning medications or anticoagulants need to eat foods containing vitamin K in moderation. If you take these types of medications make sure to ask your doctor about vitamin K.