Your last checkup went great, but your doctor said she's a little concerned about your blood sugar levels. You're not ready for medicine, but she wants you to try to get it under control before it becomes a problem – what do you do? Luckily, there are a few easy, natural steps to get your levels back to normal and help keep them there.
Without a doubt, we love our pets. It's estimated that Americans will spend over $60 billion dollars on our furry friends this year; that's an average of about $500 per family. The great news is that it's money well spent; besides being our best friends, pets are a great boost to our overall health. Here are 10 ways our pets help us every day.
- Happiness. Anyone who's ever owned a dog can tell you, they're absolutely thrilled when you walk through the door. It doesn't matter if it's been 8 hours or 8 minutes, they practically wiggle themselves off their feet wagging their tails so hard. That kind of love makes us happy...it makes us smile...which is always good for you mentally and physically. The physical effects from that love include lowered cortisol and raised seratonin levels.
- Lowered Blood Pressure. As odd as it may sound, the simple act of petting your furbaby can result in a drop in blood pressure. Researchers have found that the effects aren't just temporary; pet ownership has longer lasting effects on your cardiovascular health.
- Healthy Heart. Studies have shown that dog and cat owners have a lower risk of dying from cardiac disease – including heart failure - than non-pet owners.
- Friend Magnets. It's almost impossible for a dog lover to pass up the opportunity to speak with someone walking a dog. They're just furry little magnets for conversation, and make it much easier to meet new people.
- Mental Health Boost. Many organizations now recognize the benefits of service animals for more than just physical disabilities. Therapists have been known to actually prescribe a pet as a way of dealing with depression, and some retirement and nursing facilities have pet visitation days for their patients. Some organizations specifically deal with military veterans. Paws and Stripes, for example, is a non-profit organization providing service dogs for wounded military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
- Exercise. Most dog owners will tell you that it's almost impossible not to get at least a little exercise every day. Just two 15-minute walks a day will get in your recommended 30 minutes of exercise without even trying hard.
- Fewer Allergies & Better Immune System. If your little one is begging for a pet, it may not be a bad idea to give in. Children raised on farms or in homes with a cat or dog, have higher level of certain immune system chemicals. That makes them less likely to get sick as children or as adults. Researchers have also found that they're also less likely to develop allergy problems.
- Children With Autism. New research finds autistic children who have a pet at home have much more advanced social skills and are more assertive and communicative than autistic children who do not have an animal companion.
- Assistance for the Disabled. The role of service dogs has greatly expanded in recent years beyond only guide dogs for the blind. There are now trained seizure dogs who can either lie down on the patient to prevent injury or are trained to fetch help for children sometimes before the seizure even starts. There are also dogs trained to sense cardiac issues and low blood sugar as well as those who turn on lights, open doors and pick up small items from the floor.
- Chronic Pain. Petting your four-legged family member also helps release endorphins, which can be powerful pain relievers. Caring for your pet also helps distract you from chronic pain.
Is it possible to cheat on your diet and still see healthy results? Not only is it possible, but some experts think it’s necessary. If you’re on a severely restrictive diet, all you tend to think about is food – whatever your favorite food is. You may dream of ice cream, swoon over pizza or crave a burger; and if you let your desires get out of hand you might find yourself binging on everything in sight. Take care of the issue before you give up on your healthy eating completely.
Some people even think it’s best to satisfy that craving with a similar food. So if you’re craving ice cream, you have a bowl of frozen yogurt – even though you don’t particularly like frozen yogurt. That means it’s okay while you’re eating it…it’s cold…kind of creamy…it’s okay, but it’s just not ice cream. That means when you finish – you guessed it - you still want ice cream. Your best bet is to just eat a small portion of really good, high quality ice cream once in a while. Notice I didn’t say every day…once in a while. And, be sure to watch your caloric intake a few days before and after. (One splurge at a time, please.) The key is to satisfy the craving…the actual craving…then move on. You weren’t craving yogurt; you were craving ice cream.
One other thing to remember is to watch your portion sizes – always. Whether you’re eating a salad or a brownie, portion size matters. Permission to splurge on occasion doesn’t give you permission to eat an entire large, delivery pizza by yourself or a gallon of ice cream, for that matter. One scoop of ice cream or 2 pieces of pizza or a small order of fries…that’s a splurge. Enjoy it…savor it…then get back to normal, healthy eating. Your body will thank you for it.
Some weight loss myths persist even though they've been proven wrong time and time again. We've included seven that you can stop worrying about.
- Lose belly fat by doing sit ups. Wrong. Exercise strengthens muscles and is good for you, but trying to “spot reduce” belly fat with sit ups just doesn't work. To get rid of belly fat you need to engage in cardiovascular or aerobic exercise. You’re going to have to burn calories throughout your body to reduce your midsection through exercise.
- Avoid all fat. Wrong. Yes, animal fat and other saturated fats have been linked to health issues like heart disease, however let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, avocados and nuts have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol levels and more.
- Snacking causes obesity. Wrong. Okay, if you’re grabbing chips and candy bars out of the office vending machine, then yes…this would be bad for you. If, however, you’re snacking smart you’re on the right path. Eating a healthy, low-calorie snack when needed can help keep you from over-indulging at mealtime. If you’re starving now, by the time you get to dinner you may be so hungry that you make poor choices or overeat. A high protein snack like low-fat cheese or nuts can also be just the energy pick-me-up you need to finish your day.
- All carbs are bad. Wrong. Don’t lump all carbohydrates into the same white bread loaf. Whole grains, brown rice, beans and veggies provide a host of nutrients and fiber, are low in calories and can help reduce the risks of some types of diseases. Plus, the body uses carbs as fuel during exercise to burn body fat. Try to avoid processed carbs, however such as those high in sugar and white flour.
- Eating (celery, lettuce, grapefruit) will burn fat. Wrong. Foods don’t burn fat. Basically, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie – sort of. (We’re not talking about “empty” calories like those in sodas or candy…those are just a waste of space.) There are just no specific foods that increase your metabolic rate.
- Going hungry is the only way to lose weight. Wrong. Crash diets just don’t work. While you may see some results, most people gain back any weight shortly thereafter. It’s just too hard to maintain that lifestyle. You’ll be tired and hungry and eventually give in to foods that are probably high in sugar and fat.
- Foods labeled “reduced fat” are always better. Wrong. Reduced fat foods don’t have to meet specific labeling criteria. While they may contain less fat that the full fat version, that doesn't necessarily make them healthy. Many are packed with extra sugar and may have unhealthy chemicals or additives to make them taste better. Plus, they may have more calories and fat than something truly healthy like a piece of fruit or cheese.
You can't open a magazine or turn on the television today without hearing something about probiotics. Well known for their beneficial use in the digestive system, recent studies are now linking probiotics with a healthier immune system and as a necessity for healthy weight management.
Every where you look there’s another great supplement to take for a specific health issue. Some for weight loss…blood pressure…better sleep…but are there supplements that EVERYONE needs to take EVERY DAY? YES – we’re glad you asked!
Probiotics - Most people don’t eat enough healthy enzymes and bacteria to help their body’s digestive system work properly. Combine that with the processed food diet that the average American eats and also the overuse of antibiotics, and you get an imbalanced digestive system that can lead to chronic disease, weight gain, and fluid retention. A probiotic can help you get back to the natural balance your body needs in order to convert vitamins and nutrients into energy and naturally fight off infection and illness.
Calcium - We all know calcium is important for your bones, but did you also know that almost every cell in our body uses it? As we get older, our bodies absorb less calcium from our food which depletes the stored calcium in our bones. Over time, this contributes to osteoporosis and osteopenia. That is why it is so important to add a calcium supplement to your everyday routine. It is also important to note that taking a calcium supplement with magnesium is even better to prevent any constipation from the calcium alone. In order for your body to fully absorb calcium and magnesium, they should be taken in a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. Lastly, drink some OJ or other Vitamin C rich juice to take your calcium/magnesium supplement because it helps your body to full benefit from the supplement.
Fish or Krill Oil - DHA - With all the news about mercury in the fish we eat, it is easy to pass on the fish, but our bodies still need the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil including EPA and DHA. They help to keep your cholesterol levels in a healthy ratio. Fish Oils also help support your bones and also your mood. It helps support healthy levels of serotonin which is the “feel good” hormone. That alone is a good enough reason to take a fish oil supplement. Krill Oil is another type of fish oil supplement that is smaller with no fishy aftertaste while still having all the benefits and possibly more. Also, it may help decrease inflammation in the body which in turn alleviates many pains associated with arthritis.
We often sabotage our weight loss goals before we even get started. “I can never eat cake again!” That makes us stop before we start, or dread every day. That’s no way to live. Losing weight is all about the small steps – steps you can live with every day. Being skinny by next month isn’t the goal…STAYING HEALTHY FOR LIFE is what we strive for. That being said, here are 10 easy ways to lose 10 pounds.
So we’ve all heard of Vitamin B12. It’s usually sitting there on the label of your favorite multi-vitamin…sandwiched between Vitamin B6 and C, but do you know why you need it?
Warm weather - FINALLY! Time to dig out those summer clothes...sleeveless shirts, shorts and bathing suits! Get excited about this time of year again! Remember, just a few lifestyle changes can make a BODY CHANGING DIFFERENCE!