Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are There Other Ways To Boost Your Fiber Intake?

Besides fruit and vegetables, you can start your day right by eating a fiber-rich breakfast. For example, you can try oatmeal with fruit, or make a smoothie in the blender with yogurt and a variety of fruit like banana, mango and berries. Furthermore, don’t forget to add in a tablespoon of ground flax seeds.

Another way to increase fiber intake is to consider beans in dips as well as in soups, salads and stews. Beans are wonderful things that you should not ignore.

Refined foods lack fiber. For example, there are not much fiber left in white bread and white rice. Remember to stick to whole, unprocessed foods and experiment with new grains. Brown or wild rice, buckwheat, millet and quinoa should be included into your meals. These work well as a side dish or in a salad.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Take More Fruit and Vegetables To Increase Your Fiber Intake

Fiber forms an important part of our daily diet in order to keep us healthy. But not many people are aware of this or they simply ignore taking fiber because they do not like it.

Let us look at some ways that you can boost your fiber intake!

Fruit contains fiber. But you should take them without peeling, and not in juice form. This is because the skin of apples and pears, and the fine membrane that holds orange segments are rich sources of fiber. Another way to get fruit fiber is to snack on dried fruit.

Vegetables are also excellent origins of fiber. In order to increase the fiber intake, you can have a side salad with your meals. Iceberg lettuce does not have much fiber. So you may want to discard it and instead, choose other alternatives such as spinach and aragula leaves. If you like, you may add beans, grains and even different vegetables to your salad. Some people also add fruit into salad to make it more tasty and colorful to induce appetite.

Nevertheless, make sure you rinse fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating. If you are very concerned about the possible pesticide residues, you can choose organic fruit and vegetables.

How To Make Our Meal Tasty And Healthier With Less Salt?

We are always told to cut down the salt in-take in order to avoid high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease. However, food without salt is simply tasteless for most of us.

A meal without salt is not a meal! This proverb does make some sense. Isn’t it? So, what should we do?

Besides training our tongue to get use of natural taste of food without salt, there are also other ways to improve the flavor of our food without excessive salt. Here are some suggestions.

You can choose gravy instead of stock cubes and artificial seasoning. Garlic, chili, onions, lemon, lime, pepper or basil may be employed as alternative seasoning. When preparing pasta, meat and vegetables, you can simply use fresh herbs to season. In order to achieve better flavor for our food, marinade meat and fish in advance to allow the flavor to soak through. Where applicable, white and red wine can be added to accentuate the taste of our foods.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Some Measures to Lower Our Salt Intake

When you eat outside, it is important that you assess the sources of salt in your diet. If possible, you should ask for no or less salt added.

On your next trip to supermarket for purchasing items such as cereals, crackers, canned foods, or pasta sauces, read the labels and select those with low-salt options.

In case your meal is high in sodium, you can always balance your diet with high-potassium foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, which have plenty of fiber and nutrients as well.

Add salt only at the end of your cooking because cooking the food longer may mute the flavor. Reduce your salt gradually over stages so as to train your tongue. Once you get used to it, you can go for salt-free and enjoy the natural taste.

Remember this, salt is always added to processed foods. So fresh is best. As far as possible, choose fresh vegetables, poultry and meat over processed, pickled or cured food.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Why Should Excessive Salt Intake Be Discouraged?

Sodium is the major component (about 40%) of salt (sodium chloride). It is essential for cell function as it maintains the electrolyte balance in the body, which regulates the flow of fluids such as water and blood.

Regular consumption of excessive salt intake will lead to hypertension in the long run. Based on the prevailing rate of salt intake, average blood pressure is expected to hike by about 6 mmHg over a 10-year period. For 30 years, it will be 18 mmHg (6 x 3). If the starting systolic pressure is 120 mmHg when you are 20 years old, then your blood pressure will be 138 mmHg by the time you are 50.

Hypertension is likely to raise the risk of coronary heart disease, too. Other possible medical complications include kidney problems, loss of calcium through urine which will cause osteoporosis and higher risk of fractures. Chances of stomach cancer will also be higher, according to research.

Friday, February 09, 2007

How To Find Out Whether One Can End Up With Brugada Syndrome?

A person who has a positive family history should not only go for an ECG but also request for some very sensitive DNA-based tests.

As a matter of fact, all immediate male and female relatives of someone who has had an unexplained and unexpected sudden death should have such tests done to find out if they have inherited similar mutations. Though Brugada syndrome is more common among males, this does not mean that females will be spared.

In 2004, a study conducted by a group of researchers from New York, Spain and other regions revealed that the immediate period after giving birth to a baby seems to be particularly risky for affect women.

Once the tests confirm a person is at risk, preventive measures should be initiated. The potential candidate may have to take drugs known as beta blockers, which modulate the heart rhythm. If necessary, pacemakers or cardiac defibrillators could be implanted to prevent dangerous heart rhythms from taking over. The cardiac defibrillators are devices that are capable of delivering an electric shock to reset the ticker when situation requires.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

How To Maintain A Young Heart?

Your age does not determine how young or old your heart really is. A heart of a 40-year-old person may have the vitality of a 30-year-old while a much younger person’s heart could behave as one twice the chronological age of the person.

Sound unbelievable?

Not really! There are in fact some ways that you could keep your heart young.

Here are some tips:

  • Maintain an active well-rounded lifestyle. Do some endurance-type aerobics and strengthening and stretching exercises.
  • Include a 10-minute warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising.
  • Engage in activities such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling or jogging that use the heart, lungs and muscles.
  • Stomach and lower back muscles will benefit by means of strengthening exercises, while climbing the stairs, digging in the garden and walking uphill can help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stretching promotes flexibility and can include activities like Tai Chi, if you find it enjoyable.

The most important thing is to consult your doctor on the appropriate exercises and/or activities before embarking your routine exercise program.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Some Tips for Starting An Exercise Program

Besides balanced diet, exercise also forms an integral part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

People who perform regular exercise spreading over the entire week, tend to achieve a higher level of aerobic fitness, strength, endurance and flexibility. Patients with heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis or even arthritis will likely benefit from controlled levels of exercise.

As recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine, exercising 3 to 5 days a week will ensure one getting the optimal health benefits.

Here are some tips for starting an exercise program:

  • Try to join a group, gym, class (for swimming, Tai Chi, or dancing) or engage a personal trainer to help develop a suitable routine.
  • Be realistic by setting achievable goals to accomplish your exercise routine.
  • Select your exercise preferences so as to match your goals. For example, if you hate swimming, then don’t make water sports be a part of your routine.
  • You can review your goals and adjust them accordingly on a regular basis.
  • Consider getting partners like friends or family members to exercise together. In this way, the exercise program can be continued and maintained by encouraging one another.

For instance, I brisk walk around my apartment with my wife for about 1 hour 3 to 5 times a week before our dinner. During the walk, we can talk to each other and the time passes very quickly. We don’t really feel like we have walked for 60 minutes. And if one day we did not walk for whatever reason, we would feel very uneasy. It has become our second nature!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Few Words About Sugar!

Sugar is required by our body for our everyday’s activities. Sugar to us is just like petrol to motor vehicles.

Nevertheless, if our intake of sugar is more than what we require, there is tendency for our body to grow fat. Various health problems such as obesity, heart disease, etc. may therefore emerge.

Consuming too much sugar may lead to mineral imbalances and other side effects. One author even names some 150 ways that sugar might harm our body. Some of the examples quoted by her are:

  • Suppressing immune system
  • Upsetting mineral relationships in the bodies
  • Causing hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating and crankiness in children
  • Producing a significant rise in triglycerides
  • Contributing to the reduction in defense against bacterial infections

Although there is still no scientific evidences that directly link between diabetes and sugar, it is unarguable that diabetes itself is about sugar; too much or too little of it can create harmful effect that may lead to death.

Take a look at the sugar content of a few common food items listed in the following table, and you will be surprised!

How About Low GI Diet?

GI stands for glycemic index. It is a measure of how fast the sugar in a food raises one’s blood sugar level compared with glucose.

Using glucose that has a GI value of 100 as the reference, GI is a standardized system which runs from 0 to 100. Measurement of GI started in 1980s after its invention by Dr. David J. Jenkins of the University of Toronto in 1981.

It is believed that eating carbohydrates that release their sugar content slowly would

  • satisfy one’s appetite,
  • give good energy levels, and
  • hopefully help one to lose weight.

Research shows that it will benefit people with diabetes type 1 and type 2.

There are 3 categories of GI:

  • Low GI (55 or below)
  • Moderate GI (56 - 69)
  • High GI (70 or above)

The table below shows GI values of some common foods.

It is interesting to note that certain foods with low GI value are not necessarily healthy. For instance, roasted/salted peanuts do contain certain amount of salt, while healthy foods that we are advised to eat more are not necessarily of low GI, for example, wholemeal bread.