Exercise. It can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about being fitter and stronger. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.
Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And exercise prevents death from any cause (“all cause mortality”).
The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.
You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.
And you don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:
Don't forget, all exercise counts, even if it's not doing a sport or in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.
Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points.
Exercise for heart health
Exercise reduced cardiac mortality by 31% in middle aged men who previously had a heart attack.
Regular exercise reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).
Exercise for brain health
Exercise can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. It also reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise improved mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory. It also increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the "hippocampus"); this was shown mostly with aerobic exercise.
Exercise for muscle and bone health
Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones; this is particularly true for strength exercises. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and bone density. So, to prevent osteoporosis, exercise regularly.
PRO TIP: And don’t forget that balance exercises and Tai Chi can help prevent falls.
Exercise for diabetes
People with diabetes who exercise have better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of glycemic control).
Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re fueling them with sugar in your blood. This helps to manage blood sugar levels better than without exercise.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of exercise. By doing just 30 minutes 5 days/week, you can vastly improve your health. Since there are different benefits for different types, try mixing up what you do throughout the week. You don’t even need an “official” workout. Walking to the grocery store or doing household chores can count too.
If you’re just starting, then pick something you enjoy, get some accountability (exercise tracker or a buddy), and start.
What’s your favorite exercise and how often do you do it?
So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?
That thing is mindset.
Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset.
And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.
Very interesting health mindset study
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.
Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people's health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.
What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren't less active!
How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?
There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we're less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn't good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.
Researchers don't know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset. So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.
Health mindset strategy 1 - Aim for good enough.
Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It's inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn't necessarily a great mindset to have.
It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt - none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally - one step at a time.
So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.
Health mindset strategy 2 - Stop making tradeoffs
When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you're making a tradeoff. You're telling yourself that, as long as you're good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.
And that's not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You're controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you're trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. You're doing your best, and that's good enough.
Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.
Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.
How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods feel like they're just sitting around causing discomfort and general feeling of being stuffed and "gassy".
It can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you're getting older it can very wll be because of your stomach's reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally when we eat, cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we age this process can become less efficient an the result can feel like it's wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system.
Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effectts on all of our digestion abilities "downstream" and that can result in bloating.
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet aas it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Pro Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more throughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme "pepsin". This means that the proteins you eat aren't broken down as much and they can pass through your system somewhat "undigested".
Pro Tip: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.
One thing that can seriously cause blaoting is when your digestive system slows down. then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (or a lot?) longer than you'd like.
Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people. Pepermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn't stay in one spot for too long.
Pro Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. Check out my awesome recipe here.
All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body. The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These "unfriendly" bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these microbes in you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Pro Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your sytem to keep the bad guys at bay. This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don't cause boating for you!). Make sure they're unpastureurized and contain live cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it's right for you.
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the "activation" of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Pro Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). Before you do, make sure to read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medicatios, or conditions, and may not be safe to use long-term.
You can try the "pro tips" I've given you. Maybe you'd prefer working with a practioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to? If bloating is a continued problem for you please set an appointment to see your doctor or licensed health care provider.
One of my personal favs. This is my "go-to" recipe for whenever my tummy isn't feeling quite right or when its feeling just fine. I love ginger.
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat until boiling
Grate the ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup using a fine mesh strainer. Add lemon and honey if desired.
Tip: If you don't want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thily slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces will be big enough so they will sink to the bottom of the cup.
I am so excited I have to rant. I arrived at the farmers market this evening and sent my son a text message saying "they have ramps". His reply was simply "RAMPS!" Even though he is only 13 years old he knows what a treasure ramps are.
Yes, it's that time of year again. We only get roughly 2 weeks every year. What are ramps you ask? Well, they are wild leeks but I know they are mother nature’s gift to the humankind. I cherish these oniony garlicky tasting gifts from GOD.
If you follow me on Facebook you know that the highlight of my week is going to the Cameron Park Farmer's Market that takes place every Friday from 4pm - 8 pm beginning early May and ending late October.
This week I stopped by one of my favorite vendors B & E's Trees. Bree Breckel the "B" in B & E's Trees sells beautiful bourbon aged maple syrup. Turns out growing along with all those syrup producing maple trees they have Ramps...lots and lots of them. This week Bree had several bunches with her. I couldn't resist taking a couple of pounds off of her hands.
My husband has been traveling on business and is going to completely miss this year’s ramp season. Being the awesome wife that I am, I will whip him some treats so he can enjoy them upon his return. I don't always love to cook so I am going to keep it simple. Sometimes when natural food is this good it is best left for simple preparations. I am thinking compound butter and ramp pesto. The butter is going to be a real treat on top of his home baked bread.
For dinner tonight I am going sauté the ramps in a bit of olive oil and finish them off with a pinch of salt. The ramps will be served along side fresh caught wild trout that I picked up at the People's Food Co-Op. I also scored baby purple potatoes.
Bottom line, if you have an opportunity to score some ramps where you live, I recommend you do it.
If you love ramps as much as I do and have a great recipe to preserve them into well after the season has ended, please e sure to share. I think we have a couple more days left of ramp season 2019.
Everything is better when it is in season an sourced locally. This is what we found here in La Crosse, WI.
Spread oil on bottom of pan to keep fish from sticking.
Place trout in pan and sprinkle salt on flesh inside fish. Stuff with lemon and fresh herbs.
Roast fish in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes until fish is cooked through.
Tip: Fish should be fresh, firm and have clear eyes and not smell like anything but fresh water.
Hummus is one of my favorite go-to snacks in the early afternoon. There is something special about it. It's so versitile that you can spread it on a sandwich or drip fresh raw veggies in it. I have a fondness of hummus made with white beans as I feel it give it a smoother texture without adding additonal oil.
Add lemon juice, garlic clove, cannelini beans, tahini, green onion, salt, Aleppo pepper (paprika if substituting), and cumin to a high speed blender or food processor.
Process on high until smooth (add a bit of warm water if it needs to be thinned out)
Refrigerate until chilled (approximately 1 hour)
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and pinch of Aleppo pepper or paprika.
Tip: This is a perfect make-ahead snack. It is much better than the store bought version because you are using fresh ingredients and no preservatives. Store refrigerated for up to 5 days.