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Archive for November, 2009

When was the last time you gave your spine or your posture the thought it deserves?

If the answer is you cannot remember when then you are in a close knit group. Very few people give their spine, much less their posture any thought at all. We often forget that posture plays an integral role in keeping the body balanced and well aligned.

Bad posture can occur very easily without realizing what you are doing. It is not until you begin to experience back aches, shoulder pains or muscle aches that you will realize that you are hunching, slouching or simply letting your body get into whatever position it wants to get into.

Bad posture is a bad habit that anyone can fall into. Good posture is something that you must make an effort to maintain. Having the best posture possible is good news for your spine in every way. When you stand tall in the proper way that nature intended you will look and feel more self-confident and your overall sense of well-being will be improved upon. Try it and see!

The Picture of Good Posture

What does good posture look like? The body is straight but it is not supposed to be robotic. It needs to line up properly and look relaxed as it does so. This means that your ears, your shoulders, your hips, your knees and your ankles are all supposed to align in such a way that they look like they fall into one fluid line.

A person who exhibits good posture is said to have musculoskeletal balance. This means that all of their muscles and bones are aligned correctly. When this balance occurs it lends itself to a healthier body because the joints of the spine are protected from a great deal of undue stress and strain.

Good posture fosters the best of relations with the back because they work in tandem with one another. Having excellent posture can also protect you from many injuries and in some cases will prevent the onset of spinal deformities.

To take care of your spine and everything that is attached to it you need to learn what proper posture is and then you need to practice it every day. Practice makes perfect after all! You also need to learn not just how to stand properly to reduce stress on your back but also how to sit properly and even the best positions for sleeping.

As if you needed another reason to exercise more, here is another one- regular physical activity makes it possible for your joints and muscles to be flexible. The more flexible they are, the less chance that they will fall victim to injuries because they will have a high level of mobility. This also lends your spinal column a helping hand in being healthy.

Good posture is not difficult to achieve. All it takes is some awareness of where you are on the posture perfect scale and some honest-to-goodness effort!

For more information and insights on good posture please visit these websites:

http://thinksimplenow.com/health/dont-break-your-back-tips-to-healthy-posture/
http://www.bodyworkbiz.com/booklets/Posturex.pdf

Samantha

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Whether fat is your friend or foe, the better acquainted you are with each type, the better off you will be health wise.

Let’s face it, fat is a part of life. There is good fat and there is bad fat. Fat adds more flavor to food and that is what makes it so appealing to the taste buds. But fat has many negative points that can wreck havoc on your efforts to stay healthy and be slim and trim.

Let’s take the time to get better acquainted with fat, shall we? The more you know about fat the better able you will be to make the right food choices. Fat can be broken down into four different types. These include:

• Monounsaturated fat (good)
• Polyunsaturated fat (good)
• Saturated fat (bad)
• Trans fat (bad)

Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that are associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. These fats when at room temperature are in liquid form but they turn a cloudy consistency when put in the refrigerator. Plant oils such as canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil are some of the most common sources of monounsaturated fat. Other sources include avocados, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts (such as almonds, hazel nuts and pecans).

Polyunsaturated fats are composed of essential fatty acids called the omega-3’s. You have likely heard of omega-3 before. The body cannot make omega-3 on its own and that is where this unique kind of fat comes into play. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in fish, flax seed, flax seed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and walnuts. Polyunsaturated fats remain liquids both at room temperature and in colder temperatures.

Now we turn to the flip side and look at those sneaky and not-so-nice bad fats …

Saturated fat increases the body’s low-density lipoprotein level (LDL). This is what most of us know as bad cholesterol. Having bad cholesterol means having too high a percentage of it in relation to good cholesterol (HDL). This increases your chances of failing victim to a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. The primary sources of saturated fat are red meat, whole milk dairy products and tropical vegetable oils (such as coconut oil and palm oil). The less you consume of these food items the better it is for your health.

Trans fat has gotten a lot of media attention in the past year or so. While trans fat does all of the same unhealthy deeds as saturated fat does, it takes things up a notch and actually lowers the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in your system making you more vulnerable to a plethora of heart problems.

If you wonder how trans fats come into being then here is the skinny on it in brief: Trans fats are created by way of the hydrogenation process. Liquid vegetable oils are heated while in the presence of hydrogen gas. This process is done to preserve the shelf life of food items. This makes it beneficial for the manufacturers in terms of cost but not good for the individual who consumes these partially hydrogenated products.

The main sources of trans fats include vegetable shortenings, lard, and many types of margarines, cookies, crackers, fried foods, snack foods, baked goods and candies. There are many processed foods that are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. If you see the word “hydrogenated” anywhere on the product label then run don’t walk away from it!

Now that you can separate good fats from bad fats you know which one is truly a fat friend and which one is a fat foe! Telling the difference can do your heart a tremendous service both for today and into your future.

Samantha

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As long as you’re not allergic to peanuts they can boast some health benefits that are worth becoming familiar with.

Peanuts are part of the legume family which also includes a selection of beans and peas. They are a crop that grows annually and look very much like a clover plant as they are growing. While most of us think of peanuts to be nuts (the word “nut” is in the word after all!) they are actually legume seeds.

Peanuts Equal Protein (and Other Good Things)

Whole peanuts are beneficial to the human body because they are a rich source of protein. To use an example, for every 100 gram serving of peanuts there is 25 grams of protein. They are also a tremendous source of energy for the body.

There is good and bad fat in peanuts. Approximately half of the fat contained in peanuts is monounsaturated (the good kind) while a third is polyunsaturated fat. On the negative side, approximately a fifth of the fat is the bad kind- saturated fat. The polyunsaturated fat consists of a small percentage of omega-3 which the body needs. When buying peanut butter read the labels closely. Some kinds are fortified with omega-3 because they contain flaxseed oil. This is a good thing because it means that there is a good balance between the omega-3 fatty acids and the omega-6’s.

Studies have shown that peanuts are a good source of niacin (otherwise known as vitamin B3). This vitamin is effective at raising the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. Peanuts are also a good source of vitamin E and are abundant in antioxidants which mean that they do a good job in fighting illnesses, infections and diseases.

Peanuts and nuts in general contain a bioflavonoid known as reservatrol. Red wine and grapes contain the same healthy substance. Reservatrol slows down the aging process and it discourages plaque to build up in the arteries. Peanuts contain a higher percentage of reservatrol than grapes do. A small handful of peanuts (or what amounts to a one ounce serving) will provide you with nine percent of the fiber that you require on a daily basis. Research studies have also found that consuming small amounts of peanuts or peanut butter regularly can reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood by as much as 14 percent.

Peanut Allergy Concerns

It is an unfortunate reality that there are some individuals who are allergic to peanuts and any kind of peanut product. Consuming even a small helping of peanuts can give rise to a severe allergic reaction in these individuals. Some people suffer from it to the point where exposure to peanuts could send them into anaphylactic shock. This can be fatal if not treated immediately. This is why individuals who suffer from such an allergy must take great care not to come into contact with peanuts in any manner.

Allergies to peanuts are largely a mystery to the medical community. Some people outgrow an allergy to peanuts while others will have to live with it for the duration of their lives. It has been theorized that the processing of peanuts is done differently in North America than it is in other parts in the world such as China or India. In these countries peanut allergies are practically unheard of while they are common in both Canada and the United States. Studies in this area are ongoing as no conclusive findings related to peanut allergies have been found to date.

Whether you love them or hate them or are on the fence about them, peanuts are good for your body. As long as you do not suffer from an allergy to them, enjoy peanuts in small quantities. Be mindful of their fat content and choose salt free varieties whenever possible.

Becca

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A multivitamin is a combination of vitamins (and sometimes minerals) that make up a nutritional supplement.

Another basic way of looking at a multivitamin is that it is an all-in-one supplement. You take only one pill instead of taking a whole bunch of different ones. If you are a forgetful person then this situation is ideal!

No two people will tell you the same thing about multivitamins. In fact there is no consensus in the health community as to whether multivitamins are a good idea or whether they are not. What is known is that multivitamins are not a substitute for a healthy diet but are meant to provide supplementation to a person’s diet (thus the word supplement).

There are times when you are not likely to receive as many nutrients from your food as you require. For example, when you are under a tremendous amount of stress or when you get sick. These are times when you could really benefit from what a multivitamin has to offer you.

But stress and sickness are not the only two conditions under which taking a multivitamin is advisable. There are plenty of things in your environment that can wear down your body and make your immune system less able to fight off viruses and bacteria.

There are chemicals in the food you eat and the water you drink. There are also foods that contain too much sodium and/or too much sugar, as well as foods that are fried, fatty or highly processed. There are pollutants in the air and the aging process that you need to be concerned about. There are lifestyle habits to think about such as the consumption of alcohol, the use of drugs and smoking. There is also the general wear and tear of simply living life that can make the body’s defenses all that more vulnerable to health problems. Over time many of these factors combined can lead to a tired, worn out body that could use an extra boost of vitamins. That is where a multivitamin comes into play.

To help improve your health odds strive to eat as healthy as possible, not just once in a while but every day. If you eat seven to 10 servings of fruits and veggies daily then you can be guaranteed that your body is being well supplied with the 13 essential vitamins and 17 different minerals it needs to be healthy.

It is also important that you are a physically active person. It is recommended that everyone get 30 minutes of exercise per day. Exercise is about more than just going to the gym. Look for simple ways to incorporate more physical activity into your life.

It is not always possible for every person to eat a nutritious and well balanced diet every day of their life. This is why supplementing the food you eat with a multivitamin can help to keep illnesses from invading your body. The body is composed of millions of cells that are continuously being put through a period of regeneration. To work at the top of their game every one of these cells needs the proper nourishment. This comes by way of vitamins and minerals.

There are many popular myths about vitamins but the truth is only you can decide when and why a multivitamin is right for you.

Samantha

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