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Health

 

 

Eve Lees

Health Columnist for INSPIRED 55+ Lifestyle Magazine and the White Rock Sun

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May 10, 2022

Gardening Workout


Working in the yard or garden can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. And it can also give you a moderate workout.

Lawn and garden tasks like raking and weeding provide a workout equivalent to the cardiovascular benefits of low-intensity aerobic activity. You’ll also improve the strength and endurance of several muscles. And when you reach and stretch to prune bushes and trees, you’re improving and maintaining flexibility. General gardening tasks burn about 340 calories per hour for a 160 lb person.

The fitness benefits increase when you do more physically challenging tasks: Digging can be as intense as a workout on a stair-climber. Using a manual push mower works the chest, shoulders, and triceps as effectively as pumping iron in the gym. Based on a 160 lb person, in one-hour you can burn approximately 420 calories using a manual push mower, 340 calories pushing your electric mower, 340 calories raking leaves – and 300 calories jumping into your leaf pile!

While spending quality time in the yard and garden, you can also focus on helping the environment. For example, using a push mower reduces pollution and noise pollution (your neighbours will be grateful if you mow early Sunday mornings).

Plant trees and shrubs in your yard. A single mature tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and releases enough oxygen into the atmosphere to support two humans.

Grow your own health-promoting vegetables too. A big yard isn’t necessary. Large planters can provide edible goods all summer long.

Save water usage by watering your lawn and gardens early morning or late evening only, so the water won’t quickly evaporate.

Leave the grass cuttings on your lawn as a natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Do research on alternates to chemical pesticides. For example, a few drops of Neem oil in a spray bottle can deter most garden pests. In addition, baking soda, onions, garlic, citrus, lavender dish soap, salt and vinegar are everyday items that work well at killing weeds, larvae, aphids and other insects. And there are natural products available in many stores.

Your garden can be that quiet, calming place to get away from family or work pressures. And being outdoors in the fresh air is also health-promoting. Hoe, Hoe, Hoe!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

 

 

April 12, 2022

Chlorophyll water mostly hype


Chlorophyll water is making its rounds again. It's back from the 1950s when chlorophyll products last circulated. But today, it's going viral thanks to Instagram and Tik-Tok. And it can cure anything! Just as claimed in the 1950s (and nothing came of that, apparently).


According to Jonathan Jarry, M.Sc. at McGill University, eating leafy greens is more effective and cheaper. Green veggies are also more 'natural,' says Jarry because chlorophyll water is not 100% natural. He explains the pigment easily breaks down when extracted from plants. Therefore, to make the chlorophyll more stable and easily dissolve in water, the magnesium it contains is replaced with another element, usually copper. The chlorophyll then becomes chlorophyllin, a semi-synthetic chemical that gives the chlorophyll water its green colour.


Shortly before chlorophyll water was marketed with renewed frenzy, the same happened with celery juice. Dubbed as another 'Superfood' (A very misleading and overrated term, by the way), celery smoothies are said to 'cleanse' your body (whatever that means) to help you regain your health. As if one food alone has that power.


You are wise to include celery in your diet. So munch on a few celery sticks, occasionally. Along with other veggies and fruit. Because it's ALL whole, unrefined foods, working together ensures your good health. And that's the key to lifelong health. Blender not required.

Don't buy into the hype. And incidentally, Jarry says studies have shown very little evidence chlorophyll water does what it claims to do.

So, eat your 'natural' veggies instead.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

 

February 15, 2022

Gentle Exercise is healing for chronic illness

Exercise isn’t a pleasant thought if you suffer from chronic pain or fatigue. However, gentle activity will aid in rehabilitation. We were made to move. Movement facilitates the function of every operating system in the human body. Sit still, and you will be ill.

Thirty-five years ago, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), ended my competitive bodybuilding career. I developed a severe case of laryngitis directly after having my wisdom teeth pulled. After a year of poor sleep and inconsistent eating due to intense workouts, pursuing two busy careers, and raising two young children, I should have expected this. My weakened immune system finally announced, “Enough, you idiot – we’re shutting down!”

For months I could only lie in bed. Just lifting my head off the pillow was a workout. Exercise? I didn’t want to think about it! But I’m glad I forced myself to do very simple, gentle activities. Of course, nutrition and relaxation techniques were also critical in my healing process. But exercise is necessary too and shouldn’t be avoided by those with CFS/ME, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease, and other immune system disorders. Here’s why;

As the body becomes stronger, energy levels improve, and fatigue may become less frequent and severe. This is because physical activity enlarges mitochondria, the energy-producing part of the cell.

A stronger and more flexible body can help reduce pain in muscles and joints – especially helpful for arthritis.

Studies show regular gentle to moderate exercise strengthens the immune system (intense activities temporarily shut it down).

  1. Exercise improves mood by sending more oxygen to the brain (which also aids in clearer thinking!), and it stimulates the “feel good,” “painkilling” hormones like endorphins.

    Some types of exercise, like Pilates and yoga, are known for their core strengthening abilities. The core muscles include the abdominals, lower back and pelvic area. Strengthening these muscles deep in the torso can be helpful to those with Colitis or Crohn’s disease.

    The accomplishment felt after completing a workout or reaching an exercise goal is empowering! This is important for emotional health, often compromised by chronic illness.

    Regular exercise promotes deeper sleep.

    Exercise offers stress relief. A stronger circulatory system slows the heart rate, so it won’t rise as high and as quickly in response to anxiety situations. As a result, you’re able to keep your cool much easier.

Unfortunately, the chronic pain of most disorders combined with lack of sleep leads to exhaustion, which leads to physical inactivity. This deconditions and weakens the muscles, making the condition worse.

Get gentle exercise, especially on your better days. Pace yourself. Experiment to see how much exercise is right for you. Consult your physician and a Certified Personal Trainer for advice.

Try small amounts of exercise or stretches throughout the day. Being overactive will drain you, but small amounts of light exercise will help improve energy levels by raising metabolic rate. If walking to the mailbox or even around the living room is too fatiguing, don’t push yourself to do more than that at first. Keep walking that short distance each time you exercise, and soon you’ll find you can take a few steps more. Anything is better than nothing.

Here’s an example of a graduated exercise routine: Try to exercise three to five times weekly, depending on your tolerance. On the first day, do about five minutes of an activity such as walking. The next time you exercise, add a minute or two. Keep adding one or two minutes each time you exercise until you are exercising 30-60 minutes. Whenever you find yourself struggling after increasing your time, go back to a length of time that felt comfortable for you. Continue for several workouts before increasing the time.

Other suggestions to keep in mind;

  1. Get adequate sleep when beginning your exercise program.

    Drink enough water. Have one to two glasses before exercise and one or two after exercise to prevent dehydration. This is especially important with the dehydrating effects of Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. Sip small amounts during exercise, too if you like.

    Avoid exercising in intense heat.

    Relaxation/exercise combinations may help lessen the intensity of symptoms. Activities like yoga or Tai chi improve the body’s strength and endurance while relaxing the body simultaneously. Breathing exercises (meditating, relaxing and visualizing) are also beneficial in controlling chronic pain.

    Aerobic activities are well tolerated by those with disorders such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, colitis, or Crohn’s disease. However, aerobic exercise seems to cause relapses for many with CFS. In the early stages of the disorder, it’s best to rest at first, and then attempt exercise when symptoms lessen over time. Researchers suspect CFS is linked to an error in energy metabolism. People with CFS seem better at tolerating stretching or non-aerobic types of exercise like weight training with very light weights. CFS sufferers should experiment cautiously with aerobic activities to see what intensity and time length they can tolerate.

    Exercise tolerance can vary day to day. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t seem to tolerate the same routine as at your last exercise session. This is a common occurrence among healthy individuals too.

    Pacing yourself is so important! Stop the activity before you feel tired. Even for healthy people, the most important factor in achieving and improving physical health is not how hard you push yourself. Rather it’s how often you exercise. Try to do it regularly.

    But having said that, avoid exercise during symptom flare-ups or if you develop a fever. Listen to your body. If you really feel you couldn’t tolerate exercise today, then perhaps do light stretching instead. Expect muscle soreness when you initially begin an exercise program. Even healthy inactive people experience this. However, those with chronic illness may have longer-lasting soreness, particularly with fibromyalgia. To help reduce muscle soreness, stretch briefly before activity, and then spend more time stretching afterward. In addition, apply heat afterward, or soak in a warm bath or a hot tub. Post exercise soreness decreases over time, especially if you listen to your body and pace yourself. Some chronically ill people may always have some soreness, but it’s better to be fit with a little pain, than unfit with lots of pain!

    There’s no need to join a gym. You can exercise in the privacy and convenience of your own home. This is comforting for those with colitis who need a bathroom close by. You can try bench stepping, riding an exercise bike, or using a treadmill. Consider also exercising to a DVD or video. Enjoy neighbourhood walks if you’re comfortable venturing outside. For weight training exercises, use your body weight or improvise common household items like soup cans.

    Be patient. It may take months, even years to slowly increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of an exercise program, especially for those with compromised health.

Today, I enjoy good health and an active lifestyle. However, even though it’s been over 30 years since developing CFS, I still must monitor the intensity and length of my physical exertions. If I push myself too hard, I’m physically drained for a few days afterward.

There’s no need to stress your body past your individual limit, even if you have good health. Exercise should be enjoyable too. So, get moving and have fun!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

 

 

January 11, 2022

Counting calories is old school


       
Last month, we took a humorous look at "calories." With this article, we'll take a closer but more serious look at counting calories, especially if you are tired of doing that. Actually, your intuition is far more accurate at determining your energy needs because your body has a built-in calorie counter:

Hunger.

Your hunger signals can be compared to a car's gas gauge. Your body knows when it needs fuel (food) and when it's full. You won't gain excess weight if you listen to your body and never ignore hunger signals.

Naturally slender people usually eat only when their stomach sends hunger pangs (or if they feel hunger in other ways, like light-headedness or sudden fatigue). They intuitively know when their body needs fuel and when it’s had enough. Thin people won't eat if they don't feel like it -- even if they see and smell food -- and they know to stop eating when they're full. And that's a significant factor behind why they never seem to gain excess weight. It's the consistent non-hunger eating that packs on the pounds!

Unfortunately, we can lose our born instinct and our discipline to acknowledge when we are hungry and when we are full. Instead, we develop habits, like eating when the clock tells us it's time to eat or being forced to clean our plate as children. And society's perception of appearance teaches us to ignore our hunger and stick to a diet.

However, ignoring hunger signals won't help you lose weight and keep it off. Instead, it can make you more efficient at storing body fat and less efficient at utilizing it.

When your body signals hunger, it's telling you it needs fuel (food) for energy. But if you don't give it any, it senses a state of "famine." If this happens too often, the body eventually learns to hang on to body fat because fat is the preferred long-term fuel source. This is a genetic defence mechanism we all have. It was once necessary for survival – when food was often scarce.

With today's food availability, this defence system is no longer necessary. But there's no way to shut it off. This survival trait is one cause of binges and the repetitive weight gain/loss cycle. And it's the major reason why diets don't work – because calorie restriction creates hunger.

Normal, attuned eaters eat when hungry and stop when satisfied most of the time. Even though they may occasionally eat when not hungry or overeat at times, they usually do not eat again until hungry. Their bodies automatically balance out their calories in this way, and they don't gain weight.

Be prepared for unexpected hunger signals by preparing healthy foods ahead of time and arranging take-along snacks. Choose to eat as healthfully as possible to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs to sustain life.

Listen to your body. Eat only when hungry and stop when you are full. This may help you develop the habits of naturally thin people. If you need assistance with Intuitive Eating, consult a Registered Dietitian (RD): https://members.dietitians.ca/DCMember/s/find-dietitian?language=en_US

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

 

 

December 07, 2021

Having fun with ‘calories’

Here’s some nonsense about calories to give you a chuckle while you’re changing your eating habits. And hopefully, you are changing those habits to more nutritious ones!

If no one sees you eating something, it has no calories.

Whatever you eat that is on another person’s plate has no calories because the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will stick to their plate.

If you eat food directly from the fridge (without putting it on a plate), it does not contain any calories. Remember, calories stick to plates.

Anything you eat while you are standing has no calories.

Food that serves a medicinal purpose does not have any calories, such as ice cream, Oreo cookies, or coffee with Baileys.

Cake and cookie crumbs have no calories. When a food crumbles, it has been damaged and there is extensive calorie leakage.

A carbonated beverage cancels out the calories in a chocolate bar when you consume them together (you basically burp out the calories).

There are no calories in anything you lick out of a bowl or off a spoon or knife while you are baking.

Your body will not absorb calories if you eat with someone larger and/or heavier than you are. Through the process of osmosis, the calories are drawn from areas of lower concentration (you) to areas of higher concentration (your heavier eating partner).

All kidding aside, most of us are too obsessed with food and dieting. The desires and the denials are the surest way to hang on to your excess weight. Lighten up with your eating habits. Don’t go on a DIET. Eat healthier food choices most of the time, choosing (more often) the foods that have not been changed too drastically (highly refined). Do this, and you can indulge occasionally.
        
Incidentally, counting calories is ‘old school.’ Listening to your intuition is a more accurate way to gauge how much fuel you need (measured as calories). Eat when you are hungry, not when the clock tells you it is time to eat. And never ignore hunger pangs: If you do not eat when your body wants food, your body senses a famine is coming and will conserve your energy by slowing your metabolic rate. With a slow metabolism (the speed of your internal activity), you’ll become less efficient at burning calories, and that includes burning up stored body fat!

Visit with a Registered Dietician if you need credible nutrition information, especially if you need help getting rid of those negative, limiting beliefs you may have about food.

 

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com


November 03,2021

Don't hate potatoes

 

If potatoes are a vegetable and vegetables are supposed to be healthy, why are many sources saying potatoes aren't good for us?

Potatoes ARE good for us. They are a rich source of potassium as well as vitamin C and B vitamins. They are also a good source of fibre. And if you are physically active, they provide vital food energy.

However, because this vegetable offers a high amount of 'calories,' mainly as carbohydrate, we are wise to consider potatoes more a complex carb or a starchy carb choice, rather than a 'vegetable' choice. So, think of potatoes as an alternative to other starchy root vegetables or in place of rice and other whole grains. Keep your 'vegetable' choices as the lower-calorie and lower-carb veggies – choosing more often those that are brightly coloured (fruits and vegetables richer in colour usually offer more antioxidants like carotenoids).

Much of the potatoes' lousy reputation stems from the current belief that 'carbs' are bad for us. Non-refined or unchanged complex carbs offer lots of nutrients and provide a slowly released energy source, keeping our blood sugar levels stable. The highly changed or refined complex carbs that lack nutrients cause a blood sugar surge because they are so quickly absorbed. Therefore, whole, unchanged carbs aren't the problem. It's the refined carbs we need to minimize.

Some avoid potatoes because of their high glycemic index (a rating of how quickly a food is absorbed compared to table sugar). However, the glycemic index is much lower when potatoes are eaten with a full meal or with the skin left on. In any case, recent research finds the glycemic index rating of foods is inaccurate. In addition, we each absorb foods differently: potatoes – when eaten by themselves without other foods to buffer its glycemic effect – may raise blood sugar levels in some individuals but not in others.

Potatoes also have a bad rap simply because we tend to overeat them. Overeating any single food will risk limiting the wide variety of nutrients we need to be healthy – especially when you fill up on the higher calorie vegetables like potatoes. And face it, we are a "potato" eating population: Baked, fried, or boiled, potatoes are the most commonly served complex carbohydrate (or starchy root vegetable) on any restaurant menu.

Vary your choices if you think you eat too many potatoes. Enjoy other healthy complex carbohydrate choices: try sweet potato, jicama or turnip, cassava, taro, or the many varieties of winter squash. And there are also many varieties of potato: purple, yellow, russet, etc. Change them up often. Wash the skin well and eat that too for more fibre (and other nutrients we haven't identified yet). Bake, broil but avoid deep frying (oven roast your "fries" instead).

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

                                                           

 

 

 

October 06, 2021

Stair Stepping

Stepping on a single stair step is a convenient workout done anywhere, even at the office. It can be the “cardio” part of your regular workout for heart/lung benefits. Or do shorter sessions throughout the day (even at the office) to strengthen leg muscles and burn calories. For example, a 135 lb person can burn about 150 calories in 20 minutes of stair-stepping.

Begin with a seven-inch height or less. A higher platform quickly exhausts those who are unfit and may cause injury. Use a sturdy box or the bottom step of a staircase (the standard stair step height is about seven inches). Gradually increase the height as fitness improves, but never higher than a height that causes the knees to bend more than 90 degrees.

Use the proper technique to avoid injury: Place the entire foot on the step to distribute body weight evenly over the whole foot. When stepping off the platform, step down, not back (always land with toes close to the step’s base) — reaching too far back with the leading leg when stepping down results in sore calves. It also makes the body lean forward, putting more stress on the low back and ball of the foot.

Step up with your left foot and then up with the right. Next, step down with the left and follow with the right (change the leading foot periodically). Repeat this stepping pattern at a steady, controlled pace. A general recommendation is approximately 118 - 120 steps per minute. To make the workout harder (and still keep it safe), add more arm movement instead of increasing speed.

For quick calorie-burn breaks at home or at the office, step for several two-minute sessions throughout the day. But slip into supportive shoes first to absorb the repetitive shock on your feet, calves and knees: Cross-training or aerobic shoes offer adequate shock absorbency and stability due to the wider heel. And don’t forget to do a few leg stretches afterward.

If you have chronic pain under or around the kneecap, stepping may not be a suitable exercise for you.

 

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. https://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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