Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Accupuncture For Pain Relief

Receiving acupuncture for pain relief is real, not the result of the placebo effect. Mounting research evidence supports the conclusion that acupuncture provides clinically important pain relief. For example, in a study presented at an American College of Rheumatology meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2004, researchers found that patients who received 3 months of regular acupuncture treatments for pain relief experienced less pain and were able to move better than patients who received fake acupuncture treatments, as reported by Reuters.

The study involving acupuncture for pain relief, conducted by Marc Hochberg, MD, MPH, a rheumatologist at the University of Maryland, included 570 patients with arthritis who still experienced pain in spite of taking medication. Subjects were divided into three groups. Each group received one of the following: traditional Chinese acupuncture, fake acupuncture with needles taped to the skin rather than inserted, or educational materials regarding arthritis and pain. Within 8 weeks, the acupuncture patients began feeling significantly better, according to a report in UPI Science News. Patients continued to improve over the 26-week study.

Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is based on the concept that chi, or “life energy,” flows through all living things and is influenced by yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy). When the flow of chi within the human body is disrupted, yin and yang are said to be out of balance. Acupuncture is a treatment designed to restore this balance.

The acupuncture method receiving the most scientific study uses thin, solid, metallic needles to penetrate the skin at specific anatomical points. While the reasons why acupuncture for pain relief works have not yet been definitively explained, the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine continues to fund studies that examine the practice.

Source: Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Massage Therapy For Health And Fitness

Massage affects the body as a whole. To understand how massage therapy works, some of the physiological effects of massage need to be briefly examined.

Massage is known to increase the circulation of blood and flow of lymph. The direct mechanical effect of rhythmically applied manual pressure and movement used in massage can dramatically increase the rate of blood flow. Also, the stimulation of nerve receptors causes the blood vessels (by reflex action) to dilate, which also facilitates blood flow.

A milky white fluid called lymph carries impurities and waste away from the tissues and passes through gland-like structures spaced throughout the lymphatic system that act as filtering valves. The lymph does not circulate as the blood does, so its movement depends largely on the squeezing effect of muscle contractions. Consequently, inactive people fail to stimulate lymph flow. On the other hand, the stimulation caused by vigorous activity can be outstripped by the increased waste produced by that activity. Massage can dramatically aid the movement of lymph in either case.

For the whole body to be healthy, the sum of its parts -- the cells -- must be healthy. The individual cells of the body are dependent on an abundant supply of blood and lymph because these fluids supply nutrients and oxygen and carry away wastes and toxins. So, it is easy to understand why good circulation is so important to our health and why massage can be so beneficial for the entire body due to its effect on circulation alone.

Source: George Langlitz, III, CCSP

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Keep Your Knees Happy By Doing These Simple Things

How do you save your knees while exercising? Your knees are the life line to your fitness, since using your legs is the best way to increase total energy expenditure when working out and is completely necessary to perform full body functional exercises, as well as cardio. So I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at your knee and see how common problems arise and how we can prevent them.

First, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the joint. The knee joint is a hinge joint, it’s where the thigh bone (femur) meets the shin bone (tibia), but unlike a door hinge where the movement occurs in just one plane of motion, your knees have a little rotational component to it at full extension. To make matters more interesting the knee is actually comprised of two joints the tibio-femoral joint where your thigh (femur) meets the shin bone (tibia) and the patello-femoral joint where the knee cap (patella) meets the thigh bone (femur). And the patello-femoral joint, is not a hinge joint, it’s a gliding joint where the knee cap glides along the thigh bone (femur) as you bend and straighten your knee. Two joints for the price of one! (...beat that Walmart!)

But more is not necessarily better, having two joints in one, also means more possible complications. Unlike most other hinge joints that only have one force acting on the joint, the knee has two forces acting on it, a compressive force and a shearing force. So now your knee has to be able to withstand two types of forces as it goes through it’s range of motion. As your knee bends, the compressive force increases, reaching it’s peak at 90 degrees, but as it passes 90, the compressive force on the patello-femoral and the tibio-femoral joint actually lessens. However, the shearing force within the tibio-femoral joint keeps increasing as you bend your knees reaching it’s highest force when the knee is in full flexion.

Load is another factor that affects your knees. The greater the load the more compressive and shearing force that acts on your knees. However, these forces can be offset by applying proper technique when performing such exercises like squats and lunges that requires deep knee flexion. Without getting too deep into what seems like a bottomless pit of complex anatomy and physics of the knee joint, the most important factors affecting the health of your knees are proper technique, strength and flexibility. So without any further ado let’s take a look at what you should be doing to keep your knees healthy.

First and foremost good technique! Technique or form is something that I’ve always been a real stickler about, and it may seem like a real pain in the butt initially, but when you understand the importance of it, I think you’ll agree that dealing with a little nuisance in the beginning will pay off greatly in the long run. One of the reasons why technique and form is overlooked I think is because these exercises are movements that we can easily do and have been doing for a long time. It’s not like we’re learning how to do a 720 McTwist with fries on the side on our snowboard. It’s human nature to overlook things that are easy.

Take a look at squatting for instance… we can all squat right? I mean, we squat up and down all day long. But when I ask people to squat in front of me, 9 out of 10 times they do it incorrectly. That means they’ve been squatting hundreds of times a day… incorrectly! And the worst part is, bad habits get ingrained in your brain. So now, you have to erase all the bad habits first, which by the way isn’t always as easy as it sounds, and then re-learn one of the most basic human movements from scratch!

So let’s take a look at some easy tips to remember that’ll help you improve your form and save your knees.

When your doing squats or lunges, try and keep your knees from traveling too far forward. This helps greatly reduce both compressive and shearing forces on your knees. A good point of reference is you toes, if your find that your knees are easily passing over your toes, your not squatting or lunging correctly. When your squatting try sticking your butt back as if your sitting down on a low chair, this will help reduce the angle of your tibia (shin) and stops your knee from traveling forward as much.

When your lunging, try taking bigger steps and emphasize shifting your body weight down with each lunge instead of forward. A good drill to do is to stand in a split stance position. Take a pretty wide split stance, so that when you go down into a split squat, the angle of your front knee is about 90 degrees. Now take a stick and hold it behind you so that the stick is running up and down along your spine. Make sure that the back of your head, your upper back and lower back are all touching the stick. Slide the stick down so that the bottom of the stick touches the floor. Now descend down into a split squat position, while sliding down the stick, the stick should not move forward or change it’s angle, it should stay straight. Descend all the way down and then come up and repeat. This is a good way to learn how to lunge properly without leaning forward. Try this drill out a few times before you lunge and see if you can tell the difference. If you’ve been lunging wrong, you should immediately feel less pressure on your knees.

Another common mistake I see is the buckling in of your knees when doing squats or even lunges. This is usually an indication of a lack of gluteal strength. This is also known as the valgus knee, where the knee tends to bow in during flexion from doing exercises like squats and lunges. This causes excessive strain on your knees (especially the ACL), and compromises the patello-femoral joint by not allowing the knee cap to track properly. Strengthening your glutes, especially the gluteus medius (side of your butt) have shown to help your knees stay in a more neutral position when squatting and lunging.

A common phenomenon that occurs from sitting too long and too often is the “butt amneisa”... yes that’s right your “behind” has lost all it’s memory and can’t remember what it is or what to do. But there’s a simple solution to waking your butt up… literally. Bridges. It’s simple and effective and can be done pretty much anywhere you can lie down on the floor. Start by lying down on your back, with your knees bent around 90 degrees and place your feet on the floor about shoulder width apart in a slight pigeon toed position. Raise your hips up off the floor until your hips and torso are in straight alignment. Squeeze your glutes at the top and bring your hips down and repeat.

For added difficultly and benefit, you can do one legged bridges. Just bring one knee up towards you chest and perform the bridge with the other leg. These are simple but very effective exercises that you can do just prior to doing the squats or lunges to wake your “butt” up.

Another great exercise to activate your gluteus medius is the crab walk. You need a rubber band for this exercise. Wrap the rubber band around both knees or ankles depending in how strong you are, stand in a semi-squat position with your knees bent about 20 degrees, with your low back straight, butt back and chest up. Take small steps to the side, much like a crab walking… and no you don’t have to do the claw thing with your hands, unless your exercising and entertaining kids at the same time. Go about 10 yards and return until you feel your gluteus medius firing! If you’ve never done this before, trust me it doesn’t take very long until you feel like your butts on fire. Do this before your squats and lunges and you’ll have your gluteus medius primed for action!

Last but certainly not least… flexiwww.maxworkouts.combility. Flexibility of your ankles and hips are especially important in saving your knees. Having the proper flexibility in those joints greatly enhances the ability of all the right muscles to be activated when doing exercises that heavily involve you knees, and also enables you to perform the exercises correctly.

That’s sort of the quick and dirty version on how to save your knees. Of course there may be many other factors involved that may be causing your knee issues… but proper form, proper strength of your glutes and proper flexibility of your hips and ankles will take you a long way in helping minimize unnecessary strain put on your knees. Whether you have knee issues or not make sure to incorporate some of the things I pointed out and give your knees a healthy break.


Monday, April 25, 2011

About Digestive Enzymes

Your body produces Digestive Enzymes that break down the food you eat into nutrients. These nutrients are then absorbed into your body through the small intestine.

When your body lacks these enzymes, it doesn’t digest properly, as a result, your body does not absorb the nutrients it needs.

A lack of enzymes, along with poor digestion can lead to an overgrowth of parasites, food allergies, unbalanced gut bacteria, constipation, indigestion, gas, bloating and other Digestive Health Issues.

Here you will find a list of enzymes and the benefits of digestive enzymes

Amylase (aspsergillus orzyne) : Responsible for the digestion of carbohydrates, amylase is an enzyme that breaks starch down into sugar. Amylase is present in human saliva, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Foods that contain much starch but little sugar, such as rice and potato, taste slightly sweet as they are chewed because amylase turns some of their starch into sugar in the mouth. The pancreas also makes amylase (alpha amylase) to break down dietary starch into di- and trisaccharides which are converted by other enzymes to glucose to supply the body with energy.

Betaine HCL (betaine hydrochloride) : Responsible for the digestion of fats and proteins, betaine hydrochloride (betaine HCL) is an acidic form of betaine, a vitamin-like substance found in grains and other foods. Betaine hydrochloride is recommended as a supplemental source of hydrochloric acid for people who have a deficiency of stomach acid production (hypochlorhydria).

A deficiency of gastric acid secretion increases the likelihood and severity of certain bacterial and parasitic intestinal infections. Some research suggests that people with a wide variety of chronic disorders, such as allergies, asthma, candida albicans and gallstones, and acne do not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid.

Bromelain (pineapple) : Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme found in raw pineapple and aids in the digestion of protein rich foods. It is also a vegetarian alternative to animal sourced enzymes. (Benefits of Bromelain) Bromelain aids digestion by enhancing the effects of the digestive enzymes trypsin and pepin. It can also help to prevent heartburn by ease diarrhea, if either are caused by a deficiency of digestive enzymes.

Cellulase (aspergillus niger) : Responsible for the digestion of fiber, from fruits and vegetables.

Lipase : Lipase is responsible for breaking down lipids (fats) and the digestion of nutrients in the intestines. (benefits of Cellulase) This digestive enzyme is responsible for breaking down lipids (fats), in particular triglycerides, which are fatty substances in the body that come from fat in the diet.

Lipase and Lipase AN : help digest fats and oils. Undigested fats can cause weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Additionally, Lipase helps your body better utilize omega fatty acids.

Ox Bile Extract (ox bile) : Ox Bile Extract helps improves bile secretion which helps ease digestion. Benefits of ox bile extract include a possible reduction of gallstones, greater absorption of vitamin K, A, D and E and may be beneficial in treating liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis.

Pancreatin : A combination of 3 enzymes, Pancreatin produced by the exocrine cells of the pancreas. It is composed of amylase, lipase and protease. This digestive enzyme mixture is used to treat conditions in which pancreatic secretions are deficient, such as pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis.(Benefits of Pancreatin) It has been claimed to help with food allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, and weight loss. Pancreatin is sometimes called “pancreatic acid”, although it is neither a single chemical substance nor an acid.

Papain (papaya) : Responsible for breaking down proteins, papain is an enzyme present in papaya. The benefits of papain is breaking down meat fibers. It has been utilized for thousands of years in its native South America.

Pepsin : Pepsin benefits-helps digests protein, and stimulates the liver to produce bile. In the stomach, the enzyme pepsin functions to break proteins into smaller pieces. Because pepsin can only break the bonds next to certain amino acids, proteins are only broken into these shorter chains, and not digested all the way to amino acids. That must be done later, in the small intestine. Most digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs in the small intestine.

Protease (Carica papaya) : Responsible for the digestion of proteins, protease is responsible for digesting proteins in your food, which is probably one of the most difficult substances to metabolize. The benefits of protease is considered to be one of the most important enzymes that we have. If the digestive process is incomplete, undigested protein can wind up in your circulatory system, as well as in other parts of your body.

Phytase, Hemicellulase and Xylanase
specifically help with releasing fiber-bound minerals from plant sources.

Due to the high amount of processed foods in the North American diet, people over the age fo 35 can benefit from the daily use of digestive enzyme supplements.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Reading Food Labels 101

Food labels have been required on prepackaged foods in Canada since December 2007. If you are familiar with food labels in the United States you will notice that they are similar. In fact, Canadian food labels feature an almost identical "Nutrition Facts" table that lists the nutritional content of the food. Canadian food labels also list ingredients and any relevant nutritional claims, such as "cholesterol-free." By reviewing food labels you can make healthy, educated choices about the foods that you eat.

Difficulty: Easy Instructions

Look for the serving size that is being used on the label to compare to the amount you eat. Typically this will be listed as a portion of the food, such as "Per 125 mL (87g)," and will be located directly under the words "Nutrition Facts."

Review the listed nutrients on the food label. This will tell you the amount of fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins are in the serving of food.

Use the "% of Daily Value" by each nutrient to determine if the serving has a little or a lot of each nutrient. This will help you to decide if the food is a healthy or unhealthy choice.

Look at the ingredients list on the food label to see what is in the food. If you have food allergies or want to avoid a particular item, such as peanuts, this is where you will find out what ingredients are in the food.

Choose healthy foods by taking note of any nutritional claims on the food label, including calorie-reduced, salt-free and low in saturated fat. You may even see a claim such as "A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer."


Monday, April 18, 2011

Fish Oil & Ethical Considerations

You’ve read the nutrition research headlines about omega-3s and seen your doctor about your health status and risk factors for disease. Perhaps you’ve even consulted a registered dietitian who may have wisely advised you that while a supplement will never make up for a poor diet, there is increasing evidence for a certain few nutrients that most Americans don’t consume enough of and some that the body can’t produce itself. From one or several of these sources you may have learned that about those omega-3 fatty acids, essential dietary fats that have been associated with reducing the risk of a number of health risk factors as well as promoting healthy aging of the heart and brain. Omega-3s have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation has been flagged as a risk factor for a host of chronic diseases from heart disease and diabetes, to Alzheimer’s and arthritis. So, you’ve made up your mind to go get a fish oil supplement, but as you will see among the virtual sea of choices, there are many fish-oils to choose from, making for a challenging against-the-current swim unless you know what to look for on the labels.

1. Purity is key: In deciding on where to spend your money and what you will or won’t put in your body, purity should be a foremost priority in choosing a fish oil supplement. Toxins, contaminants, and other impurities are a risk in farm-raised and wild fish today and the supplement industry has a unique opportunity—if not obligation, since it’s not officially required—to remove any contaminants that may be harmful to humans like dioxins, PCBs, and heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Molecular distillation is one method that is effective to remove contaminants and ensure purity that exceeds established limits. This process involves separating and removing the toxins and contaminants from the oil, resulting in a purified fish oil that is used in the final supplement. Look for a product that mentions the method of reducing contaminants.

2. Third party testing is a must: Responsible and ethical companies will voluntarily submit their products to be independently third-party tested to make sure that they exceed standards and have ‘no detectable levels’ for contaminants like mercury, lead, PCBs and dioxins. Respected international agencies include the World Health Organization (WHO), International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) and Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). Look for the label to read (or similar language): Every batch is third-party tested, showing no detected levels of heavy metals, dioxins or PCBs.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) also provides an online rating system listing a growing number of fish oil supplements, giving certain products a rating of “Best Choice” (conforming to the strictest standards for safe levels of contaminants) if they have been third-party tested as safe and proven to be free of any detectable contamination. For example, the Nordic Naturals brand (which I'm familiar with since I serve as a scientific advisor), offers a whole line of fish oil supplements meeting the highest levels of purity, that are third-party tested and also rated “best choice” by the EDF (in addition to fitting criteria 3, 4, and 5 below.)

3. No repeats, freshness counts: That unappealing fishy aftertaste that many people experience with certain fish oil supplements is a result of oxidized fish oil in a product that is not fresh or was not immediately purified and made into the final product and sealed. Fish oil capsules should not ‘repeat’ and if they do, it’s a sign of oxidation and a product that is not fresh. Ideally consume fish oil supplements as recommended with a meal to minimize the potential for any unfavorable (or unFLAVORable) individual effects. Once opened, keep fish oil in the refrigerator for maximum shelf life, however a fresh, high quality product can actually stay in a sealed container in cool, room-temperature out of direct sunlight for several weeks without any problem.

4. Keep the ingredients simple: As a good general rule of thumb, stick with fish oils that provide simple ingredients without a lot of extras. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are the omega-3 fatty acids that come from fish. A fish oil supplement may also have plant-sources like borage oil and/or evening primrose on the label, but in most cases should not have other extras like vitamins, preservatives, fillers, or artificial colors. One such exception may be vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin that can easily be paired with a fish oil supplement to minimize and streamline the number of supplements an individual may take. Check with your health care provider and a registered dietitian about your personal needs regarding vitamin D and any supplement or combination.

5. Feel good about your brand: Fish oils are sourced from our environmental resources, the very resources that we both threaten each day through how we live as a growing population but also rely on for our survival. A quality fish oil can be good for your body and mind and the environment too. Check to see that the company sources clean and plentiful fish from healthy and abundant waters and has a company philosophy committed to sustainability, renewal and respect for the environment.

So what’s ‘the catch’? A quality product that you feel good about if you do a little research and read the labels. And for the potential that fish oils offer to your heart, brain and overall health through a nutritious diet and selective supplementation, you can better know what to look for when it comes to safe and nutritious food and supplement options for your best health.

Source: Wendy Bazilian, MD

Friday, April 15, 2011

Healthy & Delicious Sweet Potato Pancakes

First side cooking.
(This recipe make approximately 5 large or 10 small pancakes.)

coconut oil to pan-fry in (amount will vary)
3 eggs
2 Tsp coconut flour
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1/4 Tsp ground ginger
1/4 Tsp sea salt
2 cups shredded sweet potatoes (using a food processor with a shredding disc is ideal, or you can shred them by hand)

The flip side.
•Beat the eggs with the coconut flour and spices. Mix in the shredded sweet potatoes until well combined.
•Use a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat with coconut oil coating the pan and filling it up about 1/8″ high for shallow pan-frying.
•Spoon the mixture into the pan in desired sized “cakes.” I made mine roughly 4-6″ in diameter and cooked them one at a time but you can also make smaller ones and load up a pan with 3-4 at a time.
•Serve warm or at room temperature/on-the-go- alone or with bacon and eggs. Yum.

If you prefer a savory taste, leave out the cinnamon and ginger and replace with 1/4 tsp dried or 1/2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary.

Source: Diane Sanfilippo, BS, Certified Nutrition Educator, C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rotator Cuff Injuries: Symptoms and Treatment

What is a rotator cuff injury?
The rotator cuff is a term used to describe the tendons and muscles that support, stabilize and allow the arm to move up and down, as well as rotate. The four muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. Injury to muscles or tendons that attach to bones comprise contractile units. These units stabilize the shoulder and allow its motion. A strain occurs at a unit’s weakest point.

How do you prevent a rotator cuff injury?
Warm up adequately prior to any physical activity, practice or competition. The athlete should participate in a strength and flexibility program appropriate for their sport especially a shoulder strengthening and conditioning program prior to throwing sports. For participation in contact sports, protect shoulders with special equipment such as the Antibody The Angle Shoulder brace™ or shoulder pads. After recovery, strapping or elastic wraps may protect against re-injury.

What are the signs of a Rotator cuff injury?

The signs of a rotator cuff injury are:

Noticeable pain in the soft tissues surrounding the strain, including nerves, periosteum(covering of bone), blood vessels and lymph vessels at the time of injury.
Loss of strength(moderate to severe strain)
A common symptom of a rotator cuff injury is aching, and weakness in the shoulder when the arm is lifted overhead.
Crepitation(“cracking” feeling and sound when the injured area is pressed with finger).

Calcification of the shoulder muscle or tendon(visible with x-rays)
Inflammation of the tendon sheath. A less severe injury may result in swelling, bleeding and bruising. This creates pain and inflammation as the swollen muscle pushes on the nearby bone. This can last several months before the muscle is entirely healed. Continued activity can increase the swelling, and lengthen the recovery time.

What body parts are involved in a Rotator cuff injury?
The specific body parts involved are four muscles including the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. The bones in the shoulder area, including the humerus, scapula and clavicle.

What are the main causes of a rotator cuff injury?

The main causes of a rotator cuff injury are:

Prolonged overuse of muscle-tendon units in the shoulder.
Single violent blow or force applied to the shoulder. Powerful muscle twisting or a violent muscle contraction.

How long does a rotator cuff injury take to heal?
If this is a first time injury. Proper care and sufficient healing time before resuming activity should prevent permanent disability. Torn ligaments and tendons require as long to heal as fractured bones do. The Average healing times are:

Mild strain: 2 to 10 days
Moderate strain: 10 days to 6 weeks
Severe strain: 6 to 10 weeks.
If this is a repeat injury the complications listed above are more likely to occur.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What You Need to Know About Calcium

Calcium is considered as one of the most essential elements in the diet because of its structural use in the composition of teeth bones and soft tissues in the body. Whether it is used for strengthening the bones or enhancing the blood clotting process, the human body needs calcium to efficiently operate. As a matter of fact, if you do not get the right amounts of calcium in your diet, the body reacts by taking in calcium from the bones to maintain normal blood calcium levels. A prolonged calcium deficiency may lead to bone fragility and later on worsen into osteoporosis.

The recommended daily allowance for calcium in adults is around 700 to 800 mg every day. Experts believe that adults above the age of 50 must take in around 1,500 mg calcium daily for the prevention of osteoporosis, a pathologic condition where the bones become brittle due to lesser bone density.

How is calcium utilized in the body?
Around 99% of calcium is stored in the body's bones and teeth. Calcium plays a big role in giving strength and mass to your bones. The remaining 1% is distributed into the bloodstream and performs several essential functions. Calcium is needed by the central nervous system. Calcium ions are vital in transforming electrical impulses into chemical signals within the brain. Calcium plays a significant role in the blood clotting process thus preventing drastic bleeding episodes.

Calcium is also an essential mineral for the muscular system. The muscles in the body depend on calcium to connect nerve impulses among nerve fibers and muscle tissues. A lack of calcium in the body may cause your muscles to twitch or even worse, your heart muscles stop beating.

Calcium in your Everyday Diet
Calcium can be found in three food classes: milk & dairy products, fish & shellfish, and green leafy vegetables. Dairy products such as whole milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium. Other than these milk products, there are also non-dairy sources that will help you achieve the daily average calcium requirements in the body. The soft bones found in tinned salmon, sardines and pilchards are good sources of calcium. Soy bean products such as tofu are also good alternatives. Other non-dairy calcium sources include green vegetables (broccoli, okra, turnip greens, spinach & etc.), nuts, sesame seeds and dried fruits.

Calcium Supplements: Do they work?
Nowadays, you can also find plenty of calcium supplements in the market. These calcium supplements are usually prescribed by doctors in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Many specialists recommend taking calcium tablets after meals because of its acid reducing effects in the stomach. Supplemental calcium should only be used upon your doctor's approval. Excessive calcium levels in the body may result to constipation, excessive gas and bloating. Calcium supplements should not be taken by people suffering from diseases such as hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease.

Source: Charmaine Ann Enerio, RN

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chia Seeds - Ten Benefits

Do you want to increase your brain power and body strength with one of the most powerful foods imaginable?

Here are ten benefits to using chia seed in your life. Chia seeds are:

1. Nutritious. Chia seed provides ample calcium and protein to your tissues. The seeds are also rich in boron, which helps the body assimilate and use calcium. The nutrients also support proper brain functioning.

2. Water loving. The seed can soak up ten times its weight in water. Do this fun experiment. Put one tablespoon of chia seed in a cup of water and stir. Wait a few hours and see what happens. When inside your body, the seeds help you stay hydrated longer, and retain electrolytes in your bodily fluids.

3. Easily digestible. The shells are easily broken down, even when swallowed whole. This is an improvement over flax seed, which have to be ground up to be digested properly. If you eat flax seed whole, it will just pass through.

4. Concentrated. If I could only take one cup of food for a few days, I'd choose chia! The food value per volume is simply astounding. You don't need much.

5. Mild tasting. Unlike some seeds, the flavor is very mild. The mild taste makes it easy to put in sauces, smoothies, breads, puddings, and whatever you want. They won't really change the taste, but will add to your nutrition!

6. Energy enhancing. The health pioneer Paul Bragg did an experiment an endurance hike with friends. They divided up into a chia-eating group and another group, who ate whatever they wanted. The group eating only chia seeds finished the hike four hours, twenty seven minutes before the others, most of whom didn't even finish at all.

7. Versatile. The seeds can be used to replace less-healthy fat in just about any recipe. You can use them uncooked in salad dressings, spreads, fruit shakes, ice cream, and just about anything you want. You can also add them to cookies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods. I usually just mix in a couple of teaspoons to my juice or water and drink them down!

8. Slimming and trimming. Yes, the seeds will help you lose weight, for two reasons. The first reason is that they are so filling that you will eat less of other foods. The second reason is that they actually bulk up and cleanse your body of old "junk" in your intestines.

9. Endurance enhancing. Chia seeds are known as the "Indian Running Food". Also, the ancient Aztec warriors used chia seed during their conquests. I'm a runner, and I've used chia seed to enhance stamina and endurance on my mountain runs, some of which are several hours long!

10. Regenerating. After eating, the nutrients travel to the cells very quickly due to the ease in digestion and assimilation. Use them when you want to build or regenerate healthy body tissue.

Source: Christopher Westra

Monday, April 11, 2011

10 Tips for Toned Arms

10 - Drink Water
Drinking water can both help you lose weight and help you appear thinner. Bodybuilders have been using water as a means to pump up their muscles days before a contest as it can sometimes aid in the illusion that your arms are tight. As to whether this works or not, I’m not sure. I am sure, however, that drinking water has so many health and fitness benefits that you would be a fool not to drink more of it!

9 - Cardio like a maniac!
I see many women at the gym doing the same thing every day. Day in day out. Run on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Ride the exercise bike for 10 minutes. Boring, boring, boring!

If you want to get toned, defined and thinner arms then you need to increase your training intensity. You need to make your cardio workouts explosive and you need to put those underworked arms and legs under some full on stress (in a healthy way).

Instead of doing the usual bike ride or treadmill run try and do a few sessions of hill sprints, wind sprints, boxing, etc. per week. You will notice a huge difference.

8 - Jump Rope
Jumping rope / skipping will boost your arms progress by miles. They get a great workout while doing cardio - what could be better? You will notice increased weight loss, increased muscle definition and you can do as much or as little of it as you like depending on how thin you want your arms. Use this tip well!

7 - Split your weights routine
Many women do a full body weights workout each time they go to the gym. What I mean by this is, they go to the gym three times a week and each time they work out every major muscle group.

This is fine but it has problems. The main problem is that if you work out every muscle group every time you will not be able to stress it as much as you would if you were only working one or two muscle groups out. You don’t have enough time.

So, if you want to tone your arms up then you should try splitting your workout so that you train your biceps and triceps on their own day so they can be put under the maximum amount of work possible.

6 - Eat natural
I have been really into natural foods this year. Eating natural foods like fruits, vegetables and good meats will help you tone your arms. I have noticed that I lose weight automatically when I go all natural and this aids in the toning process.

Remember, to tone your arms you need to remove as much fat as possible off of your entire body. One of the best ways to kick this process along is to eat naturally.

5 - Use whey protein powder
Sometimes in our modern lives we don’t have time to get enough protein in our diets. If this is the case for you then you might want to consider using a whey protein powder to supplement your diet.

Whey is the best protein. It works hard and fast in the human body and seems to bring the best results for everyone. I highly reccomend the brand Optimum as it has a long standing reputation as a high quality product.

Using a protein powder straight after your weights workout in a post workout milkshake is particularly useful.

4 - Hit up a boxing class
Everyone I know who has tried boxing on a regular basis has had amazing muscle definition results. The arms seem to get the most toned and firm of all the muscles as they are doing a lot of work. Think about it. In a session on the heavy bag the arms have to tense on impact of punching, wind up to punch, etc. It can be very hard work.

If you are the type of woman who has a lot of problems with big, flabby arms then boxing may be the best thing you can do. Like skipping it allows you to get a heavy cardio workout whilst working the muscles. Bonus.

3 - Increase your weight and decrease the reps
When you weight train do not fall under the mis information that using light weights with high reps will tone your arms. It won’t. It is an old rumor that should be put to rest.

If you want to tone your arms you should gradually begin to use heavier weights with less reps. This is how we grow muscles. Each time you workout you should stress the muscles slightly more than the last by increasing the resistance placed on it. Toning the arms is no different. You need muscle to be able to show it off.

2 - Remember that toning really means weight loss
Remember that if you want to tone your arms you really need to focus on losing fat. It is fat that makes arms look soft and it is losing that fat that makes your arms look hard, defined and toned.

As people always say, it doesn’t matter how nice your muscles are, if there is a layer of fat covering them you will never get to see them. So, if you are having trouble toning your arms then perhaps you should shift your focus to weight loss practices like a clean diet and good cardio as opposed to weight training five days a week.

1 - Have fun!
Worrying about toning your body can really get you down. It can be a long and very hard process and if you take yourself too seriously in that time you can end up feeling pretty low. Many teenage girls in particular have this problem.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Improve Muscle Tone By Stretching Everyday

Stretch every day for 10-15 minutes

Don’t underestimate the importance of stretching. Often overlooked, this simple exercise holds many weight loss benefits.

Stretching helps breathing and circulation. It improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility. It prevents injury so you can stick with a consistent fitness program. It’s relaxing (stress has real links to weight gain). And it’s exercise you can do anywhere – at your desk, at your daughter’s soccer game, even while driving. If you’re the type to plan out your daily exercise, mornings are perfect for stretching. This will not only prepare your muscles for the day, but the slow increase in heart rate also allows your body to wake up properly.

Here are tips on how to stretch:

- Inhale deeply.
- As you exhale, slowly and smoothly stretch to a point of moderate tension, before the warm "burn" turns painful. Don't bounce or jerk.
- Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
- Breathe deeply and naturally during the stretch hold. Don't hold your breath. Stay relaxed.
- Slowly unstretch, and relax for a few seconds.
- Repeat the stretch two more times.
- If possible, try to extend the hold time a few seconds and to stretch a little farther each time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

4 Foods That SLOW Your Metabolism Down

You don't want to slow your metabolism, but instead you want it racing. A slow metabolism makes it almost impossible to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight, so it's important to take the steps necessary in order to protect yourself from having to deal with this problem. By simply working out on a regular basis and learning to avoid the following foods, you can easily protect yourself from a slow metabolism.

1. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined foods such as white bread, pasta and rice are easily broken down by the body because the complex carbohydrates have been taken out of them. This means that your body doesn't have to work very hard in order to digest the nutrition found in these foods, leaving your metabolism at a crawl. Refined carbs don't offer a lot of nutritional value anyway, so you're better off consuming whole wheat breads, pasta and brown rice. These choices require your metabolism to work in order to digest the nutrients, so it helps to speed it up.

2. Sugar
Sugar creates a spike in blood glucose levels and is very quickly absorbed into your system. Both of these scenarios actually assist in the process to slow your metabolism, whether you realize it or not. Avoiding foods with excess sugar in them is the best idea, but consuming them once in awhile won't hamper your weight loss journey in the long run. You might want to consider replacing some of your candy, chocolate and ice cream with fresh fruit, which will help to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing a spike in your glucose levels.

3. Fatty Foods
Foods that contain a lot of fat can easily hamper your metabolism rate. Fat is not as easily digested as some of the other foods that will slow your metabolism. High fat foods create a scenario where your body simply doesn't know what to do with it all. In this instance, your metabolism slows down and takes a break while your body starts saving the fat for future use. This results not only in a slower metabolism, but in an increase in body fat as well. Avoid fried foods and fast foods, and instead indulge in things like baked chips and low fat desserts to help keep your sweet tooth at bay.

4. Foods High in Pesticides
According to Prevention magazine, Canadian researchers have concluded that a slow down in metabolism could be due to the chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that are believed to slow the fat burning process. In fact, some pesticides might even increase weight gain. In order to avoid this possible problem, purchase organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, and always wash and peel the ones that aren't organic to help minimize pesticide exposure. Although this process won't eliminate the pollutants altogether, it can go a long way in reducing the chances of slowing down your metabolism.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flax Seed: The Low Carb Whole Grain

Buying Flax Seeds: Selection
Both brown and golden varieties of flax seeds are becoming easier to find, especially in health food stores. If you can't find them near you, try the links here: Where to Find Flax Seeds. The two varieties have similar nutrient composition. They are sold both in bulk and in packages.

Flax Seeds vs. Flax Seed Meal
Whole flax seed stays fresh for up to a year if stored correctly. However, they will go rancid more quickly after being ground up into meal. For this reason, many people choose to buy whole flax seed and grind it into meal themselves (this takes seconds in a blender or coffee grinder). The meal can be purchased, but follow these guidelines:

•Purchase from a source where you’re sure there is rapid turnover.
•Ideally the meal should be refrigerated at the store.
•The bag should be opaque, as light will accelerate the meal going rancid.
•Vacuum-packed packaging is the best, because it prevents the meal from having
contact with oxygen before opening.

If you question how long the flax meal has been on the shelves or how it has been stored, it is recommended that you purchase whole flax seed and grind it yourself. It’s also less expensive this way. Any time you taste flax meal that is at all bitter, throw it away. It should be mildly nutty tasting, and not at all harsh.

Flax Seed Storage
Whole flax seed should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Many people choose to store it in the refrigerator or freezer to be on the safe side. Flax meal should be stored in the freezer and used up within a few weeks.

Tips for Using Flax Seed
•Drink plenty of water. There is so much soluble fiber in flax that it is important to drink plenty of water when eating flax products, otherwise constipation may result.
•Remember to start slowly if you aren’t used to a high-fiber diet.
•If you purchase the whole seeds, you need to grind them up to get the benefit.
•Flax is often used as an egg substitute in baked goods for people who can’t or choose not to eat eggs. This is because of the soluble fiber, which adds structure to the food.


Monday, April 4, 2011

How To Turn A Regular Recipe Into A Low-Fat Recipe

Flag all high-fat ingredients in the original recipe.

Make a list of low-fat products that can be substituted for all of the flagged ingredients.

Replace whole eggs with egg substitute products. One egg is equivalent to 1/4 c. of egg substitute.

In sweet baked goods, substitute applesauce or pureed fruit for oils, butter or margarine. As a general rule, you can use a cup of applesauce or fruit for every cup of oil or butter.

Use skim or 2 percent milk in place of whole milk.

Replace regular sour cream or mayonnaise with fat-free or low-fat versions, or use yogurt.

Use ground turkey instead of ground beef, or try extra-lean ground beef.

Remove the skin from poultry, either before cooking or after cooking, depending on the method (a chicken roasted without its skin, for example, would dry out, but skinless chicken can be braised to no ill effect).

Use cooking spray to coat pans instead of butter or olive oil. Add a little water if foods start to stick.

Learn where added fat is important and where it's not so important. For example, there's seldom a difference in onions sauteed in one tablespoon of oil or onions sauteed in two or three tablespoons of oil.


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Mighty Foam Roller!

Among the various health benefits that you can experience with a foam roller, one of the keys to better health is the idea of better circulation. Good circulation can lead to lower blood pressure, better range of motion and better quality of life for the elderly.

What Is a Foam Roller?
The foam roller is a simple bar of elastic foam. When the body lies on it, it pushes against the body and provides resistance. When the user rolls up and down on the foam roller, they experience a kind of pressure-facilitated massage.

What Happens to Your Circulation
In any kind of massage, one of the good things that happens is that you naturally improve the circulation of blood through the arteries, veins and capillaries of your body. When the pressure is applied, it works to temporarily push blood through the various avenues of the body. When the pressure stops, the blood flow resumes its normal pace.

Along with this manual aid to circulation, there are also secondary effects of massage that help to improve circulation. These involve creating more action in lactic acid deposits that work to improve blood flow, as well as stimulation to lymph elements that push certain toxins through the body.

The foam roller effectively provides all of these benefits that a person would get through a conventional massage. When the body pushes down on the flexible foam, the foam pushes into the muscle and connecting tissues. It goes deep into the subcutaneous areas of the body and loosens muscles, while stimulating circulation in limbs and other body areas. Areas of the body that get good circulation get better oxygen delivery, and this can have a rejuvenating effect.

All this also goes along with what fitness experts call myofascial release, where the same roller activity helps straighten out blocked muscles and their relation to adjacent fascia tissue.