All posts tagged “health

turkey
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Four tips to a healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! This means it is time to bring on the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and don’t forget the pies! We have four tips that will help you stay healthy throughout your thanksgiving feast.

The first tip is to…eat breakfast! This may seem like a shocker because most people save themselves for the big thanksgiving feast but this can have negative effects on your body. You become more tired and you tend to eat more than what your body actually wants. Eating breakfast gives you more energy throughout the day and allows your stomach to have a capability of letting you know when you are full.

Our second tip is listening to yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. Listen to yourself when you think you are full. There is no shame if you do not participate in 3rd or 5th servings.

Our third tip is to savor every bite. The more you enjoy your individual bites, the slower you will eat which will allow your stomach to catch up to your mind. This can help you establish the full feeling better.

Our fourth tip is stay active. Take your family and friends on a walk before and the meal. Play a game of football in the backyard or enjoy a game of tag. Stay active throughout the day will help you digest your food better, especially the slightly heavier foods such as your mom’s favorite stuffing recipe. Not only will this help you but it will also keep the little ones active and out of the kitchen!

The most important tip though is to enjoy yourself. No one loves counting calories or worrying about dieting on a big holiday. Listening to yourself and including a few more physical activities throughout the day are the two most important tips that you can add into your holiday routine. Enjoy the day and the time you spend with your loved ones!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by kristin :: thekitchensink

thanksgiving-meal-tips
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Healthy substitutions to add to your Thanksgiving meal

It is not difficult to make a tasty Thanksgiving meal while having it semi-healthy. Thanksgiving meals are often high in fats, sodium and sugars.  A few substitutions here and there can help provide a healthier alternative to a Thanksgiving meal as well as give you and your guests all your favorite food items!

Let’s start with the biggest part of the meal, the turkey. Buying a turkey breast instead of the whole bird can help cut down on calories as the breast has more white meat. However, the turkey is the center piece to the whole meal. If you want the whole bird, try sticking to the white meat or if you want the dark meat, make it half the portion you normally would have. This way cuts down on some of the sodium and calories that come from the darker parts of the meat. Keep the seasoning simple with salt and pepper and use olive oil or spray oil instead of butter.

Everyone loves stuffing! Try stuffing the bird with:

  • onions
  • lemon or apples
  • thyme, rosemary, sage and other fresh herbs

Then bake the rest of the stuffing (i.e. the bread pieces, sausage and celery) in the oven. This way the stuffing doesn’t absorb the extra fats from the turkey and you can make a slightly smaller serving.

Gravy is a must a have! But instead of using the turkey drippings, use vegetable oil. This will cut down on the saturated fats and make the gravy cholesterol free. You can also look for low-fat broth based gravy or even vegetarian gravy. All these taste great and are slightly healthier options to the original gravy.

Don’t forget the mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter or cream to add to make a creamy texture to the potatoes, save the boiled water from boiling the potatoes or add chicken brother or fat-free sour cream. These substitutions can help cut down on fats and calories and still make the mashed potatoes taste great.

Now time for arguably the best part of the whole day, dessert. Pies are a huge part of the Thanksgiving. Most of the fat and sugar in pie come from the crust. Try a reduced fat graham cracker crust or go crust free. These are delicious alternatives to our traditional and loved pies.

These are just some of the substitutions that you can use in your Thanksgiving Day meal preparation. Check here for full recipes and more ideas on how to put a creative and healthy spin on your Thanksgiving Day meal.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by David McSpadden

hiit
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Short workouts are in!

Most people do not like to work out because it does not fit into their schedule. However, what about working out for 30 minutes at a higher intensity? Thirty minute, high intensity workouts are just as intense as working out for a longer period of time. In fact, they might even be more efficient as you are likely to take more breaks or not work out at such high intensity for a longer period of time. A high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine is the perfect way to fit workout in your schedule as well as help get your fitness level up.

Studies have shown that interval training can help burn more fat and increase your fitness level. HIIT is a combination of short bursts of energy, to get your heart rate going, and periods of rest (10-30 seconds) or low intensity (30 seconds -1 minute). HIIT is perfect for all individuals. It is easy to modify any routine to fit any fitness level. The most important thing to remember when doing a HIIT is to keep moving! If you feel that you won’t last the remaining 30 seconds of your jumping jack set, that’s okay just do a modification of a jumping jack or jog in place. The point of the routine is to keep moving for 30 minutes.

Check out this great article for getting started with making your own HIIT routine.  Remember, modifications of exercises are okay! How do you find them? Write modification in front of any exercise name in google or YouTube for videos and articles on a variety of modifications. Don’t forget to change up your routine once in a while. Once you are used to adding a 30 minute HIIT into your schedule, change the routine every other day so you can really reach your full potential!

If you just can’t find 30 minutes in your day, try getting in three 10 minute workouts or walks throughout your day. This will be the perfect way to take your breaks at work as well. Walking after you eat can help your digestion and sugar levels as well as burn some calories. Try and take a walk after breakfast, after lunch and dinner. No one likes working right after they eat so a quick walk will help clear the mind, get your exercise in and help you digest. It is a win-win situation.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Tony Alter

butternut-squash
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Get cozy with butternut squash

One fall vegetable that people love to eat but hardly ever like to make on their own, because it can be difficult, is Butternut Squash. The skin on the butternut squash can be difficult to peel and the seeds and strings can be stubborn when you try to scoop them out. However, preparing butternut squash by yourself is rewarding in several ways. The meal becomes healthier, you enjoy it more since you put more hard work into making it and it saves you money!

Buying a butternut squash can save you a few dollars. A whole butternut squash can range from 23 cents to $1 per pound while the pre-cut butternut squash can be $3 to $5 per bag (usually 1 to 1.5 pounds in a bag). Sometimes the bags can add extra preservatives to make the squash last longer. Buying a whole, fresh butternut squash can eliminate some of those unwanted ingredients.

To help save you money and encourage you to make a homemade butternut squash meal, we have found a helpful trick! In two steps, the peel becomes easier to remove and the seeds and strong slip right out! All you have to do is stab the squash with a fork and then microwave it!  Click here for more instructions.

To get you into the kitchen and working with butternut squash, here are some delicious recipes for you to try out:

  1. Love chickpeas? Try out this Curry-Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas Recipe.
  2. Crispy Butternut Squash Spinach Salsa with Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette can be the perfect side dish or meal!
  3. Soup tastes even better when it is homemade and not out of a can! Try this Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup.
  4. Need something a little hardier? Try this Butternut Squash Risotto with Parmesan. It is super easy to make, delicious and quick!

Since the rain is here it is the perfect time to stay in your kitchen and try out some of the recipes!  Enjoy!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by bea & txema & alan

Summer Jog
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Exercise triggers brain cell growth and improves memory

Recent studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) shed new light on a link between exercise and memory. By exercising regularly, you can increase your ability to retain learned and new information. Scientists examined the muscles during exercise to determine which proteins are released. The studies revealed that a protein called cathepsin B is released during aerobic exercise. The protein travels to the brain after being released. Cathepsin B triggers new brain cell growth, scientists believe this is key in the link between memory and exercise.

Researchers discovered an increase in the protein cathepsin B when examining mice who regularly ran on exercise wheels. The mice who exercised produced greater amounts of the protein than the mice that did not exercise. Further, mice that released cathepsin B displayed better results in memory tests than the mice that did not.

Dr. Henriette van Praag, a neuroscientist at the NIA states, “Overall, the message is that a consistently healthy lifestyle pays off.” In humans, the release of cathepsin B is also triggered by exercise. This means that simply increasing physical activity can aid in an individual’s ability to perform better on complex tasks and memory retention.

To read the full article click here

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  andreviebig

 

Disaster Kit
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The Great Oregon ShakeOut

When it comes to natural disasters, sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do. So, why worry? Even though an earthquake cannot be prevented, shakeout.org has developed ways to help protect ourselves and loved ones during an earthquake. Shakeout explains that Oregon lies between two tectonic plates in a constant state of collision. The 600 mile long fault line known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone spans from California to British Columbia.  After years of pressure and slow movement the plates will rip apart causing massive earthquakes.

In order to protect ourselves during a large earthquake, shakeout.org has organized a worldwide earthquake drill. In 2015 over 43 million people participated in the shakeout.  This year on October 20th at 10:20 a.m. another worldwide drill is set to take place. At this time, over five million U.S. participants are signed up, and the numbers are growing daily! In Oregon alone, there are nearly 25,000 individuals registered for the drill. The top three participating areas are as follows,

1)      Washington County

2)      Marion County

3)      Multnomah County

How to Participate in The Great Oregon ShakeOut

Visit shakeout.org and enroll to participate with millions of others worldwide. Then, on October 20th at 10:20am follow the four recommended steps below.

1)      Drop, Cover and Hold on: Don’t waste time, Drop to the ground. Cover yourself; find shelter under a nearby desk or table. Hold on tight for one minute.

2)      Now, take a look around, imagine what would be happening around you in an actual emergency.

3)      (optional) Practice what your next steps would be following an earthquake.

4)      When you are finished, talk with coworkers, friends or family about what you learned, and your disaster plan.

Participation will be tracked through online enrollment. Individuals, as well as businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations can all take part in this amazing opportunity.

For more information regarding The Great Oregon ShakeOut and other useful disaster information click here.

 

  Feature photo by  Global X

A mother and child fast asleep.
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The connection between sleep and sickness

Sleep leading to sickness

Recent studies have confirmed what most people kind of already knew; sleep is good for you. Too little sleep can be directly related to cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune function as well as a lot of other health issues related to a lack of sleep. In a long term sleep study, over 22,000 participants reported their sleeping patterns in parallel with their health from 2005 to 2012. This study found that getting six or less hours of sleep per day had a direct correlation with experiencing sickness of flu-like symptoms and that the more sleep people got, the less they faced these negative health outcomes.

Sleep should be on the agenda

A lack of sleep isn’t just important to bodily functions, it also sets the tone for the rest of the day and many people don’t realize how much sleep may determine their plans and activities. As mentioned earlier sleep can cause a plethora of negative health issues but even more so is the lifestyle that usually comes with not sleeping enough. Turns out, short sleepers are also more likely to have negative health behaviors like not exercising and poor nutrition which in the long run can be detrimental to health. Creating good sleeping habits can translate into other positive health behaviors because of the increased energy and productivity that accompanies being well-rested.

Sleep is serious business

An interesting point Dr. Sanjay R. Patel of the Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes at the University of Pittsburgh makes is that “society does not stigmatize the person getting in their car and driving after only four hours of sleep the way it does the person driving after drinking, even though the risk to others on the road may be the same.” Meaning that a lack of sleep can be just as detrimental to motor function and cognitive skills as drinking, but is largely overlooked and the seriousness of the matter is rarely emphasized. He goes more in depth about just how neglected the science of sleep is by mentioning how little physicians usually discuss sleep with their patients due to the lack of training and attention given to sleep in medical school.

While sleep may still be a little bit of a mystery it is clear that adequate sleep is closely related to good health. Not getting enough sleep is not only bad for the body, but also makes it harder to create and sustain other healthy habits, so get those Z’s!

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Sima Dimitric

 

Sprinkler
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Fun in the sun

Windows down and music up, there is nothing like cruising around on a sunny day. Unfortunately, there is also nothing like the feeling of the summers first sunburn. As the sun starts to shine through don’t forget to take proper care of your skin. A sunburn is more than just a change in skin color. When viewed under a microscope, visible damage to the cells and blood vessels can be seen.  This is true whether the burn turns in to a tan or you peel.

Today, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Constant sun exposure without proper protection greatly increases your chances of developing skin cancer over time.

What benefits does the sun have?

Exposure to sunlight increases the body’s vitamin D production. This is important because vitamin D is not found naturally in most foods.  However, as food production methods have changed, vitamin D found in the foods you eat has increased. Many foods are now fortified with enough vitamin D to help you sustain proper levels. That being said, barbecuing with family, playing a sport or hiking in the sun, is still better for you than watching television inside. Don’t forget that you can still protect your skin while enjoying your time in the sun.

How to limit the harmful effects of sunlight

Of course, staying out of the sun is the best way to stay protected, but who doesn’t want to enjoy the sun when it makes an appearance? Try to take the following steps when exposed to sunlight to keep your skin healthy and looking its best:

  • Don’t leave the house without wearing sunscreen. Apply it every day and make sure it’s a habit, just like brushing your teeth!
  • Between the hours of 10am and 3pm be extra cautious; avoid the sun when you can, and apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, getting wet or sweating. (Ultraviolet rays are strongest between 10am and 3pm).
  • Long sleeves and slacks help protect from the sun, especially when in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Don’t forget your shades! Wear sunglasses that can filter UV light.

Three little letters; SPF

Everyone has seen them, but what does it really mean? SPF stands for sun protection factor. The greater the SPF number, the greater protection one will get from UVB rays (the burning rays). Choose an SPF that is 30 or higher no matter your complexion. If you have had skin cancer or precancer, it is recommended to increase the SPF to 45 or higher.

Sunscreen is important for everyone, regardless of age, sex, complexion or profession. Protection from the sun and the damage harmful rays can do to your skin makes applying sunscreen very important; whether or not you burn. Remember to check the label in order to determine the proper amount to apply.

See the full article here

 

caption-arrow Feature photo by  echoroo

Hiking in nature can be very beneficial both physically and mentally.
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How hiking helps the brain

Hiking kicks out negative thoughts

Rumination is defined as the tendency to continuously think about upsetting situations, causes, and consequences that might be burdening an individuals mind. Luckily, the National Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study which found that going on nature-filled hikes can significantly curb these thoughts, encouraging not only physical well being but also mental prosperity. By measuring neural activity and levels of rumination in the two different groups, researchers found that urban environments have distinct correlations with depression and negative disposition while the natural environments show to lower levels of rumination as well as neural activity in the part of the brain that is intimately linked to mental illness.

Hiking can boost brain power, and help keep you focused

Other studies contrasting urban vs. natural environments have found that not only can hiking in nature prevent negative thoughts, it can also greatly improve cognitive performance! Researchers realized that a nice long hike away from urbanization and technology can reduce mental fatigue, boost creative thinking, improve memory, and even remarkably reduce symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Along with all of these incredible benefits, it is proven that people who work out outside are much more likely to continue their routine rather than quit shortly after starting. Whether it’s for a minute or an hour, everyone should make an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility of nature whenever possible. Good for the mind, body, and soul, hiking in nature is an excellent way to stay healthy and happy.

 

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Loren Kerns

 

 

Erase Stress
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Stress: how to cope better with life’s challenges

What causes stress

Imagine you are walking down a beautiful trail, taking in the scenery, smelling the flowers and enjoying your day. Your brain is having a positive response to the relaxing environment, serotonin is released, and you feel happy, at ease. Now imagine, around the next turn you are face to face with a brown bear. In an instant the chemicals in your brain change drastically, digestion in halted, your heart beat speeds and blood flow to your muscles increases. These chemical changes are your body’s instinct to defend itself, your fight or flight response. These changes are also called stress.

Stress can be a good thing in moderation, or when you need that boost to dive out of harm’s way. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms when it goes on for too long. Stress in everyday life can negatively impact physical and mental health. Most often, there is no fight or flight response needed, yet your body prepares to run, working overtime. This can cause you to feel anxious, worried, afraid or uptight.

What changes may be stressful

Simply, any change can lead to stress. This can be good change or bad change. Although, it may not be the change itself causing stress, rather how you react to it. It is also important to remember that stress is different for everyone. Going to the grocery store might be stressful for one individual and therapeutic for another.

Can stress hurt my health

Stress can cause or complicate health problems. A few possible signs of stress can include

  • Anxiety
  • Neck and back pain/tightness
  • Head aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression

How can stress be managed

Firstly, try and recognize the common signs of stress. Shoulder and neck tension, as well as clenched fists are often early warning signs of stress. The next step is to select a method to deal with your stress. Ideally, avoiding the thing that causes your stress is best, but that is not always an option. Here are some tips for dealing with stress,

  • Choose a hobby – something you love, or want to get better at
  • Try not to worry about the things out of your control
  • Take care of your little problems first – this can help you to feel more in control
  • Try to prepare for the stressful things in advance
  • View change as a positive challenge, forward momentum
  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose healthier food options

Why Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release pent up energy, as well as release your “happy” brain chemicals. For example, serotonin production is increased during exercise. Serotonin increase has been shown to improve mood and increase energy.

The silver lining

If you are feeling stressed, you get to choose your hobby, something you love. These hobbies can include music, puzzles, walking, yoga, and video games; the list is infinite, because there isn’t a correct answer.  Get lost in the things you enjoy, and remember to take a deep breath.

Contact your doctor if you want help or advice on how you can tackle stress.

Sources:

FamilyDoctor.org

For the full article, follow the link here.

  Feature photo by  Alan Cleaver