HEALTH / FITNESS
Information about fitness, health, nutrition and weight loss
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In this Section....
- February Recipes
- February Exercise
- Daily Diet Tip
- 7 Flu-Fighting Foods
- Food Addiction
February Recipes - Click Here
February brings us all together with a cold chill that makes you want to cuddle close with someone special. It also brings Valentine's Day which makes you want to cuddle even closer!! This month's menu is an elegant and delicious meal that you can share with your someone special, or your whole family as well! It's as pretty as it is yummy, and it's good for you too. Make your Valentine's Day special and enjoy an evening of fine dining. Eat hearty!
We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at email@example.com. Hope to hear from all of you in the following months!
February Exercises - Click HereEach month we will feature simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home and without buying fancy expensive equipment.
7 Flu-Fighting Foods
It’s the time of year when sickness strikes, causing missed days at work and school. Scientists haven’t always known why the flu is more common in winter months, but research from the National Institute of Health reveals that viruses travel more efficiently from person to person in cold climates.
With winter upon us, it’s time to bolster your immune system, and that of your family. While taking care of yourself in terms of sleep and exercise helps, nutrition also plays an important role in preventing and fighting off the flu. Here are some flu-fighting foods you should consider adding to your diet:
- Fermented Dairy Products contain probiotics and include yogurt, specialty yogurts (like Dannon or Activia), smoothies, specialty drinks (Yakult) and cultured milk such as Kefir. Probiotics are microorganisms (good bacteria) that, when taken in adequate amounts, offer health benefits to individuals. In the book Gut Insight, author Jo Ann Hattner, RD explains how probiotic microorganisms stimulate the immune system and increase the acidity of the gut so undesirable bacteria can’t grow. After all, the gastro-intestinal tract is the body’s first line of defense, acting as a protective barrier to the body.
- Bananas (and other Prebiotics): Prebiotics are nondigestable plant ingredients that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. In other words, they are food for the good bacteria. Bananas are a prebiotic as are onions, garlic, asparagus, whole wheat and barley. Symbiotics are foods that contain both pre- and probiotics such as a smoothie with a banana, frozen strawberries, yogurt or kefir and orange juice.
- Pork is an excellent source of zinc, a mineral actively involved in cell metabolism, supporting the immune system. Zinc shortages make it hard for the body to fight off infections, and because the body doesn’t have a way to store zinc, consistent intake is important. Other good sources of zinc include beef, crab, lobster, oysters, chicken legs, baked beans, cashews, almonds and yogurt.
- Carrots are high in vitamin A, which is known to play an important role in immune defense. As a maker of infection-fighting white blood cells, vitamin A plays a crucial role in fighting off infections. Other plant sources of vitamin A include spinach, kale, cantaloupe and apricots.
- California Cuties: Clementine Mandarins, also called Cuties, are harvested from November through January. Just two Cuties contain more than two times a full day’s supply (260% DV) of vitamin C and are easy to peel, seedless and the perfect size for kids. Vitamin C helps maintain the integrity of disease-fighting cells and low levels can compromise the body’s ability to fight disease efficiently. Other vitamin C-rich foods include red/green peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, kiwi and sweet potatoes.
- Sunflower Seeds: An ounce of sunflower seeds contains about half the daily recommended amount of vitamin E and is perfect as a topping on salads or cereal or as a healthy snack. In addition to its function as a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E has other important roles in immune function. Population studies find that adults and children are falling short on vitamin E in the diet. Other sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, almonds, vegetable oils and peanut butter.
- Vitamin D: While is not a food per se, vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, increasing the production of “antimicrobial peptides” in cells, which protect against infection. It has been theorized that lower levels of vitamin D during the winter months may at least partly explain why the flu is more common in colder climates. In a 2010 study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, school-aged children who took 1200 IU of vitamin D from December through March experienced an almost 50% reduction in flu infections compared to kids who didn’t take D. So don’t forget to get your vitamin D levels checked — and make sure you are getting enough vitamin D yourself.
Submitted by: Maria Albus
I was reviewing a lecture from a conference we attended in Charleston; the professor was reviewing the literature that points to why food behaves as an addictive substance. They have noted that food can act on the same pleasure receptors as other addictive substances. For instance, they have found that the pleasure receptors in the brain are low in obesity and addiction. Similarly, these receptors decrease with increased BMI. (It takes more food to obtain the same reward.) Also the brain’s reward system is the same for food as for drugs. The area of the brain that controls this is in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for control of thoughts, feelings and actions. This area is disrupted both in addiction and obesity.
Thus, the satiety (fullness) signal gets longer and longer with increased BMI. You can fill the stomach but the craving area of the brain will still light up if stimulated with a thought or visual stimulus of certain foods.
For these reasons, it is important to realize that constantly trying to control cravings can be difficult. At this point we have no drugs to alter these centres of the brain. We need, therefore, to try and understand impulses and how we can best control them. Importantly, we must not feel guilty for indiscretions.
It is far more important for me to see people learning to accentuate behaviour successes and not just ‘weight’ (loss). You must stop emphasizing pounds lost over a specific period of time. That’s really trivial from a long-term standpoint. Instead, begin emphasizing behaviour. Ask yourself, “What changes in eating behaviour have I achieved?” Are you sitting down to eat now? Eating more slowly? Leaving just a little bit on your plate? Making eating a sole experience (not associated with other activities such as TV, reading or computer)? Pre-planning snacks as well as meals? Keeping food records and recording energy intake?
These are the elements of your weight control effort that really count.
If you have made some of these changes it is time to pat yourself on the back. Changing eating behaviours is what’s important; not the number on the scale.
The difficulty with any lifestyle change, but especially with weight loss, is that we must have long term thinking. We must remind ourselves over and over again that food will always be available. Unfortunately, it is the most available ‘drug’ to soothe any kind of emotion. So, a lapse in your diet is unimportant. What’s important is learning to accept that lapse as normal, and return to portion control as quickly as possible.
Remember, weight loss for the long term is difficult, but you can do it. Don’t ever stay discouraged; don’t ever give up trying!
Written by: Dr Doug