Protein-Packed Foods That Should Be Part of Your Diet

Protein is key to your well-being and deserves a significant place in every diet. Knowing the best sources can boost your health as well as help you feel more satisfied on fewer calories.

Seafood is an excellent protein source, with dozens of types of fish and shellfish to try. Eat a 3.5-ounce serving at least twice every week, and include fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and trout. These are nutrients that your body needs, but can’t make, so you must get them through your diet.

Make friends with the manager of the seafood section at your favorite market and don’t be shy about asking for the freshest choices. Note: It’s usually seafood that’s past its prime that’s guilty of smelling up your kitchen, not fresh fish.

Chicken and turkey are other well-known protein sources, but you may not realize that it’s OK to cook them with the skin on to keep the meat moist. Just remove it before eating. Also, keep in mind that breast meat has less fat and therefore fewer calories than dark meat.

Be sure to put vegetable proteins on the menu. These include legumes such as beans and lentils. They have a protein-fiber combo that helps regulate blood sugar as well as fill you up.

What about red meat? For many people, it’s fine to eat it once a week or so. But choose lean cuts — skip the cold cuts, hot dogs and other cured meats — and limit the portion size to three ounces. Trim off as much fat as you can before cooking, and pour off any melted fat before eating. Also use healthier cooking methods, such as baking, broiling and grilling on a rack, which allow fat to drain off.

More information

The American Heart Association has tips to help you get more non-beef sources of protein into your diet.

Try Small ‘Bites’ to Get Kids to Exercise

Kids take their cues from mom and dad, so it only makes sense to participate with them when teaching them the merits of exercise.

Couch potato kids are a real concern. The College of New Jersey exercise science professor Avery Faigenbaum defined the term exercise-deficit disorder — or EDD — to draw attention to our children’s shortfall when it comes to meeting moderate-to-vigorous physical activity recommendations of at least 60 minutes a day.

And experts warn that the unhealthy effects of EDD will extend into adulthood, causing problems like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, and that it’s time to think of exercise as illness prevention.

The secret to getting kids motivated is the same as it is for adults: Make exercise fun.

One way to do that is by engaging kids in activity bites, small chunks of play that add up to better health without seeming like a chore. Here are some ideas to get your family started.

In your backyard or a nearby park, set up relay races or an obstacle course and invite neighborhood families to join.

For an activity that can be done anywhere, blow up some balloons and make a game of keeping them all up in the air. You can also do this with exercise balls or even beach balls, no matter what the season.

Take a page from your own childhood playbook and share the fun of hula hoops and tossing a Frisbee. Even an activity like drawing with sidewalk chalk gets kids out of the house and away from their electronic devices.

Turn scheduling exercise into a fun project by having your kids create an activity calendar and check off each “bite” as it’s completed. Post the calendar on the fridge along with snapshots of their best chalk artwork, for instance, for motivation.

More information

The American Council on Exercise has details for creating an activity calendar to get and keep kids motivated to exercise.

Health Tip: Suggestions For Healthier Aging

Many factors influence how we age, ranging from dietary choices and physical activity to health screenings and managing risk factors for disease.

The U.S. National Institute on Aging suggests these steps to promote healthier aging:

  • Get regular exercise. Studies have shown that people who exercise often live longer, healthier and happier lives.
  • Pay close attention to weight and shape. Both your body mass index and the shape of your body (where you carry weight) make a difference.
  • Eat a varied and balanced diet.
  • Identify and participate in activities that you enjoy, such as volunteering, hobbies and social activities.

Health Tip: It’s Never Too Late to Exercise

If you are middle aged and out of shape, it isn’t too late to get active and improve your health, the American Heart Association says.

A study in the journal Circulation showed that heart stiffness — a potential precursor to heart failure — decreased for middle-aged men who engaged in two years of the right kinds and amount of exercise.

Study participants who did high- and moderate-intensity exercise up to five times weekly had better heart elasticity and improved the way in which their bodies used oxygen, the research found.

The Heart Association recommends weekly exercise should include:

  • One high-intensity workout, such as an aerobic interval workout that boosts the heart rate for four minutes at a time in several spurts during the session.
  • An hour-long moderate-intensity workout doing something you find fun, such as tennis, biking or walking.
  • Two or three moderate workouts per week that might make you sweat, but still allow you to talk with someone.
  • A strength training session.

Love Organic Foods? Your Odds for Some Cancers May Fall

Paying extra for those pricey organic fruits and vegetables might pay off: New research suggests eating them might help you dodge a cancer diagnosis.

People who consumed the most organic foods had a 25 percent lower cancer risk compared with those who ate the least, the study found.

Specifically, eating more organically grown foods was linked to a 34 percent reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, a 76 percent decreased risk for all lymphomas and an 86 percent reduced risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, said lead researcher Julia Baudry. She is a scientist with the Center for Research and Epidemiology and Statistics at the Sorbonne Paris Cite.

“If our findings are confirmed, organic food consumption may contribute to cancer prevention,” Baudry said, though the study did not prove they directly caused cancer risk to drop.

And people shouldn’t stop eating fruits and vegetables if they can’t afford more expensive organically grown options.

Filling your diet with fruits and vegetables is known to reduce your risk of chronic disease and cancer, regardless of whether or not they’re organic, Baudry and other experts said.

Mark Guinter, a postdoctoral fellow with the American Cancer Society, said, “More importantly than anything is making sure you consume your fruits and vegetables, avoid your red and processed meat, and eat whole grains. Those are established relationships with cancer, replicated in multiple populations.”

Guinter added that “if people are interested in changing their diets or buying foods that are known to help prevent their cancer risk, those would certainly be avenues to take rather than simply buying organic.”

For this study, Baudry and her colleagues analyzed data from nearly 69,000 people taking part in an ongoing French study of the associations between nutrition and health.

The participants all filled out questionnaires regarding their consumption of organic products. These included fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and fish, eggs, breads and other foods.

They also filled out annual questionnaires regarding the status of their health, including instances of cancer, and were followed for 4.5 years on average.

The researchers found an association between eating organic foods and lower cancer risk, even after taking into account other risk factors for cancer.

“We did consider a variety of factors that may be involved in the relationship,” Baudry said, “such as sociodemographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle factors, as well as family history of cancer, or healthier diet in terms of nutrients and food consumption. Controlling for these factors did not substantially modify the findings.”

Organic foods are grown without pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. Studies have shown that people who eat organic foods have lower levels of pesticide residue in their urine, she noted.

“Exposure to pesticide has been associated with higher cancer risk” in previous studies, Baudry said.

Specifically, Guinter said, this study supports results from a British study that also found an association between organic food consumption and lower risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“Whenever you see a result that’s replicated like that, you find it a little more believable. There’s good biologic plausibility behind it,” Guinter explained.

According to Dr. Frank Hu, chair of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, animal studies have shown that pesticides can increase DNA damage, which can increase risk of cancer. Chemicals also can disrupt the endocrine system.

But, Guinter and Hu said, there’s not enough human evidence yet upon which to base any new dietary recommendations.

People should eat right and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to prevent cancer, Hu said. Cutting back on alcohol also will help.

“Basically, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic, can improve overall diet quality and reduce your risk of chronic disease, including cancer,” said Hu, senior author of an editorial accompanying the new study.

The report was published online Oct. 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about diet and cancer risk.

Many Supplements Still Contain Dangerous Stimulants: Study

The U.S. Drug and Food Administration has repeatedly warned manufacturers that many dietary supplements contain dangerous, experimental stimulants. But according to a new report, 75 percent of supplements tested still contain the compounds.

“Consumers turn to supplements for safe, natural ways to increase energy, improve workouts or lose weight,” said study author Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor with Harvard Medical School. “[But] what most consumers don’t know is that supplements can be sold as if they give you energy, help you lose weight or just about anything, as long as the supplement does not claim to cure or treat disease.”

His team’s findings centered on four unapproved stimulants: DMAA, DMBA, BMPEA and oxilofrine.

The four have become replacements for the stimulant ephedra, which the FDA banned from supplements in 2004 following reports that it raised the risk for heart attack, stroke and death.

Between 2013 and 2016, the FDA found that 12 different supplement brands contained one or more of the four unapproved stimulants. But despite public notice warnings from the agency, three-quarters of the supplements still contained at least one prohibited stimulant in 2017. And half contained two or more.

The finding raises fresh concerns about supplement safety, and comes on the heels of another troubling analysis published just last week by the California Department of Public Health’s Food and Drug Branch.

That investigation revealed that the FDA had issued more than 700 warnings over the last decade about potentially hazardous ingredients found in supplements promoted as sexual, weight-loss and muscle growth aids.

But because the FDA classifies dietary supplements as a food — rather than as drugs — supplement manufacturers do not have to prove a supplement is safe or effective before selling it to the public.

If, however, the FDA ultimately determines that a supplement already on the market is potentially hazardous, it can recall the product or issue a “public notice” concerning problematic ingredients.

In a letter published online Oct. 22 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Cohen and his colleagues point to an earlier study that suggests that FDA recalls, for one, are largely ineffective.

The latest investigation focused on the effectiveness of public notice warnings, and found equally poor results.

“The FDA seems to imagine that if they simply request that firms remove an experimental stimulant from commerce, the stimulant will be removed,” Cohen said. “Clearly this is wishful thinking on the part of the FDA.”

Cohen noted that he and his associates conducted two analyses of 12 supplements previously issued public notices for unapproved ingredients.

The first analysis took place in 2014. At that time, all 12 supplements contained at least one of the four prohibited stimulants.

The second analysis took place in 2017. At that point, nine of the 12 brands contained at least one prohibited supplement and six contained two.

The team also pointed out that although DMBA had not been found in any of the 12 supplements in 2014, it was found in a third of the supplements in 2017, two years after the FDA issued a public notice raising concern about the ingredient.

“Until the law is reformed and the FDA aggressively enforces the law, these potentially dangerous ingredients will likely remain in supplements,” said Cohen.

Dr. Mitchell Katz is president and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals in New York City, and author of an accompanying editorial. He suggested that the upshot is that the FDA is hamstrung in what it can do.

“The FDA is not allowed by federal law to investigate a product before it is marketed,” Katz noted. “Therefore, all that the FDA can do under current law is respond to complaints and issue guidelines of what can and cannot be in supplements.”

The bottom line, said Katz, is that “people should know that the supplements they are taking are not tested [and] may contain substances that are not on the label.”

More information

There’s more on supplement regulations at U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Yoga: Science From the Motherland

Each one of us is responsible for our choices, actions, and, in turn, our health. What we fail to understand is that health is not merely the absence of disease. It’s a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing. But, deep down at the grassroots of Indian philosophy, health has another meaningful dimension of spiritual wellbeing as well.

Yoga is a perfect blend of philosophy and health science. One who practices yoga could open up to a whole new perspective towards the way of living life.

What is Yoga?

The origin of Yoga dates back to ancient India, around 26,000 years ago. It has survived the test of time and has adapted itself to modern civilization. The power of Yoga is so commendable that it has marked its presence all across the globe.

Yoga is an art of controlling the activities of the mind. The word itself exudes peace and tranquillity. The underlying philosophy is that mind, body, and soul are connected. It is believed that the mind is the link between all sense organs and soul. A union between all the three would yield a blissful state of mind. In a nutshell, Yoga aims for a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Although originating in India, it is widely practised abroad. With expanding disposable incomes and waistlines, yoga seems to be a booming business, particularly in Europe, America, and Australia and of late in China too. It is the most sought-after path to live a happy and contented life. A path to strike a balance between mind, body and soul.

Why Yoga?

It’s a fact that our balance is often disrupted by our lifestyles. Choices about diet, exercise, profession, and relationships all have the potential to create physical, emotional, or spiritual imbalances. Such imbalance causes a lack of harmony and makes us more vulnerable to diseases. While people abroad realize the potential of yoga, Indians often tend to overlook this miraculous healing philosophy right at their door step.

Inside-Out Healing: Yoga Science from India

While asanas work on the body, meditation works on the mind – the origin of all thoughts, positive, negative, or grey.

Meditation helps channel such thoughts in the right direction, while Asanas enable physical fitness. The mind does not just think, imagine, judge or analyze but is also immersed in subtle qualities such as peace, calmness, and knowledge.

Yoga helps to enrich these aspects of the mind while moderating aspects such as aggression, lethargy, idleness, and apathy. Mastering yoga would essentially be a qualification to live a wholesome life. Because, no matter where we are, our thoughts are reflected in our actions and actions reflect our personality as:

  •  Harmony within the self, connection with our essential nature
  •  Harmony within the family and society
  • Interconnection with the entire humanity
  • Interconnection with all of the creation

So, undoubtedly, Yoga is universal. It is possible for anybody who really wants it. But, it is 99% practice and 1% Theory. One who practices treads on a path of rightful living- steady, wise, calm, and healthy.

Why Yoga Should be Part of Your Life

A regular yoga practice can benefit you physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. While some practice yoga for weight loss, to manage hypertension, lower cholesterol, or for other physical reasons, many people adopt the practice to enjoy a peaceful life. Whatever is the reason, those who include yoga as a quintessential ingredient of their lives report enjoying a higher quality of life.

So why should you adopt Yoga? Here a few reasons!

Helps with Weight Management

Through the twists and bends and cleansing practices, yoga stimulates detoxification, the preliminary requirement for effective weight loss. Also, it promotes better metabolism and fat burning potential. A regular practice of yoga also helps to reduce stress, thereby lowering cortisol, the primary culprit behind the dreaded belly fat.

Yoga also improves muscle mass and tones and shapes up the body. In short, it helps you eliminate the excess fat and gives you a wonderful shape.

Stronger Bones and Joints

The various balancing postures of yoga improve bone density and strengthen the joints and bones. This cuts down the risks of osteoporosis, fractures, and arthritis through bone loss.

Improves Muscle Tone and Strength

Asanas strengthen the muscles and encourage muscle definition. The increased oxygenation through conscious breathing patterns also ensures that the fascia remains flexible, thereby improving muscle tone and strength.

Corrects Postural Imbalances

Sitting in front of the PC for longer durations, improper standing, and sleeping postures, and lifting weights the incorrect way disrupts the posture. Studies reveal that people who practice yoga regularly have better posture and less pain. Yoga poses help to make the spine longer, stronger, and more supple. This also helps to ease postural troubles, including back pain and cervical issues.

Helps with Menstruation and Menopause Issues

Yoga may help to ease menstrual woes including water retention, bloating, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, and irregular menstrual cycles. Various restorative and balancing poses are also known to help with menopausal symptom management, including hot flashes and osteoporosis.

Helps Keep Diabetes Under Control

Various yoga poses and Pranayama techniques could help to improve insulin sensitivity, lower anti-diabetic drug usage, promote weight loss, and curb spiralling sugar levels. Yoga also helps to lower stress, one of the primary contributing factors to Type II Diabetes. Yoga, when practised regularly, gives diabetic patients a chance to enjoy a better lifestyle.

Therapeutic for Stress and Anxiety

Lower stress and anxiety are two reasons why many people opt for doing yoga. And, yes, studies have proven that yoga poses, especially inversions and restorative poses do lower cortisol. Simultaneously, various asanas and Pranayama techniques uplift the mood by triggering the secretion of feel-good hormones, dopamine, and serotonin.

Good for Healthy Digestive System

Yoga poses ease digestive woes including hyperacidity, bloating, and flatulence. Certain poses like Pavanamuktasana work directly on the abdomen, offering immediate relief. Regular practice of Vajrasana, the Thunderbolt Pose, is known to boost digestive fire. In addition, the yogic twists ensure that toxins are expelled, thereby offering relief from constipation.

Helps with High Blood Pressure

Conscious breathing practices promote better oxygen intake, thereby improving circulation and keeping the blood pressure under control.

Gifts a Good Night’s Sleep

A 15-minute gentle yoga session before bedtime helps you sleep better. Studies suggest that yoga is therapeutic for insomnia as well.

Last but not least, regular practice of yoga could help you lead a better life. So take your pick of reasons, and make yoga a part of your life!

Why Cardio is Worth More Than a Workout

The internet is the unwitting vehicle for a lot of misconceptions about cardiovascular exercises. A particularly damaging one is this frequent retort of many iron pumping worshippers: “Cardio kills gains, man!”

This myth has been demystified several times, but it still keeps doing the rounds of body-building forums and gym locker rooms. Added to the idea that cardio lessens muscle tone is the notion that you need cardio only when you wish to lose weight. This is not just untrue, but also undermines a lot of the work researchers and doctors have put in studying and understanding the benefits of cardiovascular activity.

Our goal is to not only clear cardio’s name but also prove to you that it can be one of the most effective weapons in your fight for a healthy body and a happy mind. Here are four reasons why cardio is worth more than just the calories you expend while doing it.

Cardio Helps the Body Heal
Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s healing process, but not all inflammation is good. The inflammation accompanying rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, is just pointlessly painful.

A recent research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even low-to-moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise was far better for inflammation than resistance training. The best results could probably be achieved through a combination of resistance training and aerobics, but this study validates much of what cardio-bunnies have been saying for ages: cardio helps alleviate pain.

Cardio is Good for the Heart
This should be a no-brainer. It is in the name, after all! Not to mention the fact that doctors have been telling us this for ages.

But the shrouds of misinformation have muffled these well-meaning voices too. The heart is one of the hardest working organs of our body. Exercising it the right way improves its endurance by strengthening it and also reducing the bad cholesterol that impedes its work.  This effect might not feel as immediate and palpable as seeing your “guns” pop out, but it is equally important.

Cardio Helps with Depression and Anxiety
Anecdotally, cardio lifts your mood –  the runner’s high is not a wishful myth. But it has proven to have a deeper positive effect for people suffering from depression and generalized anxiety disorder when used in conjunction with the relevant medication.

While the exact pathways are unclear, researchers say this improvement could be the result of an increase in the levels of endorphins or neurotransmitters.

Cardio Improves Bone Health
Research has shown that rigorous and regular weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and resistance training have a marked effect on bone tissue, both strengthening and reinforcing it.

Bone health is crucial for higher quality of life. Cardio also helps maintain higher than average bone-mass throughout life, preventing early onset of osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.

The results of any physical activity are optimized by knowing and adhering to best-practices, also remember that your cardio routine should not be a static thing. You should plan to diversify your routine by incorporating different varieties and intensities of the exercise. But be assured that any well-planned cardio routine will keep you strong, lithe, and healthy.

The Princely Benefits of Fresh Air

While we grew up frolicking through fields, swinging at the park and cruising along on our bikes, as adults, many of us spend most of our time indoors. But all of those hours spent outside were actually good for more than using up our unlimited childhood energy.

Even though it doesn’t take Einstein to know that fresh air is good for the health, science has some solid evidence about the benefits of a lung full of fresh air.

A Breath of Fresh Air

People often tend to forget about the importance of spending time outside and underestimate the health benefits it brings along. If you are spending most of your time inside an air-conditioned office or home, you are forcing your body to use stale air. By doing so, you are making it harder for your body to stay healthy and fresh.

Breathing polluted air makes the body work harder to get the oxygen it needs, so individuals with high blood pressure benefit from avoiding unclean environment. White blood cells need oxygen to fight bacteria and kill harmful germs. 20 percent of the body’s oxygen is dedicated to helping boost brain activity. Fresh air assists in clearer thinking and improved concentration. It helps airways in the lungs dilate fully and expel airborne toxins.

The Best Medicine

High oxygen levels in the body have also been shown to prevent cancer and decrease the growth rate of cancer cells. Indoor and outdoor air differs in quality. Indoors, there is a higher concentration of pollutants, so unless the air is regularly exchanged, it lacks the freshness needed to benefit the body.

Breathing fresh air increases the efficiency of body reactions and is a key component in getting a good night’s sleep. And while it is important to hit the outdoors within the city you live in, spending some time outside of the city can give some bonus points to your life.

Fresh Air for Digestion

Fresh air helps in food digestion. That is why it is advised to take a small walk outside after meals. From all the health benefits of fresh air, this one is really important if weight loss is your agenda.

Improves Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

If you have a problem with high blood pressure you should avoid polluted environments and try to stay in surroundings that have a good supply of fresh air. Dirty environment forces the body to work harder to get the amount of oxygen it needs.

Happier Personality

The amount of serotonin in the body depends on the amount of oxygen inhaled. Serotonin can significantly lighten your mood and promote a sense of happiness and well-being. Fresh air will leave you feeling more refreshed and relaxed.

Strengthens Your Immune System

White blood cells kill and fight bacteria and germs. They need enough oxygen to work and function properly.

Cleaner Lungs

Fresh air helps the airways of your lungs to dilate fully and improve the cleansing action of your lungs. When you exhale and breathe out through your lungs, you release airborne toxins from your body.

More Energy and a Sharper Mind

Fresh air helps you think better and increases energy levels. Your brain needs twenty percent of the body’s oxygen. More oxygen brings greater clarity to the brain, improves your concentration, helps you to think more clearly, and has a positive effect on your energy level.

So, leave the closed confines of your air-conditioned home and workspace behind once a while, head out into the wild and take a few fresh breaths every now and then.