Color Your Plate … Green!

All month, we emphasize the importance of a colorful diet of fruits and veggies, focusing on one color at a time! This week, add the color green to your plate.

Green is the very color of healthy foods. When nutritionists recommend healthy foods, the first thing they tell you is to eat your green veggies. And there are so many to choose from, like the delicious bitter greens kale, arugula, and collards, crunchy broccoli just waiting for a little butter and lemon to liven them up, rich delicious avocados, and even tart refreshing limes. This week, make an effort to sample new greens that you may have never had before.

Leafy Green VegetablesGreen foods to add to your plate this week

Green apples, Green grapes, Honeydew, Kiwifruit, Limes, Green pears, Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Broccoflower, Broccoli, Broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, Green beans, Green cabbage, Celery, Chayote, Cucumbers, Endive, Leafy greens, Leeks, Lettuce, Green onion, Okra, Peas, Green pepper, Snow Peas, Sugar snap peas, Spinach, Watercress, Zucchini, Avocado, kale, kiwi.

What makes your greens green?

Chlorophyll makes your greens green, and functions to transform sunlight into energy!. Despite this, it’s not clear if chlorophyll itself is even good for you at all. The nutrition science jury is still out on that question. There are some suggestions that it may possibly act as an antibiotic or that it might help prevent the DNA damage that can lead to cancer formation, but this is far from confirmed just yet. That said, we can all agree that the healthiest part of your green veggies isn’t the chlorophyll at all!

Broccoli as a perfect example.

Baby smiling at broccoliBroccoli: The Crown Jewel of Nutrition

Broccoli is a member of a family of vegetables that also includes cabbage and cauliflower. Yes, these greens are vitamin-rich and high in fiber, but that’s not their most amazing health property. They contain phytochemicals called indoles, which are what make this family of veggies the best cancer prevention foods available.

In fact, research shows that this compound helps reduce cancer risk on the front end (prevention) and the back end (treatment). In other words, it helps deactivate a potent metabolite (4-hydroxyestrone) that promotes tumor growth, especially in estrogen-sensitive breast cells. At the same time it increases the level a form of estrogen that can be cancer-protective.

Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to suppress not only breast tumor cell growth, but also cancer cell metastasis (the movement of cancerous cells to other parts of the body). It boosts the body’s own detoxification enzymes, which can help your body clear potentially carcinogenic chemicals more quickly.

But Wait, There’s More

In addition to its cancer-fighting punches, a medium stalk of broccoli gives you 220% of your daily vitamin C, 194% of your vitamin K, 15% of your vitamin A. All these vitamins are antioxidants that help prevent the damage that can be caused by free radicals.

The bottom line for you is that if you add greens to your plate, you will “Green Light” your health in the process!

Vegetarian Makes You Mental? Not So Fast.

Yes. There is a link between a vegetarian eating pattern and measures of depression as well as anxiety (most recently published here) in a large group of Americans, evidently pining away for their 40 ounce porterhouse, KFC Double Down, and daily half-a-cow sized burger.

But wait. This study analyzed a bunch of Britons and says nay, a vegetarian eating pattern was not associated with depressive symptoms at all. Is that because they’re already mental, so you won’t see a difference based on their eating styles? Or maybe there just wasn’t anything to be sad about, when giving up their meats?

And right across the North Sea, a large group of Germans in this study did show a relationship between going vegetarian and what the researchers termed “mental disorders”. Perhaps it was the agonizing loss of the schnizle and spatzle and bratwurst and everyone’s favorite, schweinshaxe … that’s getting them down?

What does it all mean? Not much at this point.

Maybe there is a reverse correlation. In other words, eating a vegetarian diet may not impact depression, but being depressed may get people to try this diet?

Maybe the Germans and Americans didn’t factor out all the factors and — as explicitly stated in the UK study — once that is done, there is no relationship between them.

Maybe there is an effect, but for some cultures and not others; some age ranges and not others; or maybe vegetarian eating actually can lead to the nutrient deficiencies that can exacerbate depression, etc., but only if you don’t attend to your nutritional status — so you just do it wrong.

In any case, this is a great example of a nutritional issue to bookmark, but not to get too worked up about until they all sort it out. By that time, you’ll be 90 and can read all about it from your retirement home.

June is Color Your Plate Month!

All this month we emphasize the WHAT and WHY and HOW of coloring your plate for health.

Watermelon and mixed tomato salad with feta cheese, overhead scene on rustic blue wood

Many cultures agree that creating a colorful palette to your plate is a deliciously healthful decision. The Chinese for example equate the color of your foods with the particular organ it benefits.

Pale white foods like mushroom, onion, parsnips, cauliflower, and turnips are said to be good for vision and emotional health. Green foods like avocado, spinach, and broccoli benefit the liver. Black foods such as dark mushroom, black sesame, and black rice is good for the kidney. Yellow foods are good for the spleen. These foods include corn, yellow peppers, and yellow melons.

In Western cultures, even though we don’t find evidence linking specific colors to the function of specific organs, we still emphasize the importance of including a lot of color in your diet. Our nutritional approach tends to focus more on micromanaging molecules to find the nutritional balance that can lead to optimal health.

Regardless of the reason why, it is clear that choosing fruits and veggies in vivid greens, reds, yellows, oranges, and blues is a recipe for better health.  So while we wait on others to figure out why you should eat a color-rich diet, you should just sit back, let them suss it out, and enjoy beautiful plate palette.

Walk, Walk, Walk and Walk Some More

It sometimes feels like, if you want to truly make a difference in your health, you need to hit the gym every day or make every workout as intense as possible. But new research suggests that simply walking more can have a real impact on lifespan. In fact, people in the study who walked just 150 minutes a week or more had a 20 percent lower risk of premature death, compared to those who walked less.

Even for people who didn’t meet those 150 recommended minutes of activity per week, walking at least a little bit was still better than getting no exercise at all, found the American Journal of Preventive Medicine study.

Lead author Alpa Patel, Ph.D., a researcher with the American Cancer Society, says the study is good news for anyone who worries that walking doesn’t count as exercise. “In our study, close to 95 percent of people who engaged in any physical activity did some walking—but for half of those people, walking was the only moderate to vigorous exercise they got,” she says. “Now we can see that it really does have real benefits.”

The participants were mostly senior citizens, with an average age of 70. During the study’s follow-up period, about 43,000 of them died.

Compared to people who reported getting some physical activity at the start of the study (but less than two hours a week), those who reported getting no activity at all were 26 percent more likely to have died. Those who got got between 2.5 and five hours of physical activity a week, on the other hand, had a 20 percent lower risk of death.

Whether the participants achieved their 150 minutes a week of physical activity through only walking or through other activities didn’t seem to matter; both groups reaped similar longevity benefits. In the walking-only group, those who walked the most were better protected against death from respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer than those who walked the least.

This wasn’t surprising to the researchers, because walking has previously been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and breast and colon cancers. But Patel was a bit surprised that the people who only walked got almost as much benefit as those who got other types of exercise as well.

Only half of U.S. adults—and even fewer adults 65 and older—meet the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. For those people, Patel says, simply aiming to meet that threshold could have real implications on longevity.

When the researchers compared individuals who got more than 150 minutes of activity to those who got less, they did not include the small percentage of people who reported getting no activity at all. “People who are completely inactive, especially in this age range, may be that way because of underlying health reasons that keep them from being able to walk,” says Patel. “We didn’t want to overestimate the benefits of walking, so we only wanted to include people who were healthy enough to get around.”

For people who enjoy more vigorous forms of exercise, there’s no reason to stop; other studies have shown that higher-intensity workouts also have benefits of their own. But for the millions of Americans who aren’t even getting the minimum recommendation for physical activity, Patel says the evidence in support of walking more—at any age—is strong.

Supplements Mean We’re Losing

The latest results from an annual survey on dietary supplements revealed an all-time high for supplement usage among U.S. adults, with 76% reporting they consumed dietary supplements, up five percentage points from last year’s results.

“These findings reinforce the upward trend in usage and confidence seen last year,” stated Nancy Weindruch, VP communications, Council for Responsible Nutrition. “Seeing more than three quarters of Americans taking supplements is an indicator of our industry’s success in bringing products to the marketplace that are valued by the majority of Americans for their role in health and wellness.”

The survey also found that nearly 87% U.S. adults have confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements overall. Additionally, 76% of U.S. adults perceive the dietary supplement industry as trustworthy, up three percentage points from last year.

In terms of the types of supplements being taken, the survey found that vitamins/minerals are the most commonly consumed supplement category, consistent with the previous surveys, with 75% of U.S. adults saying they have taken these in the past twelve months. The second most popular category is specialty supplements (38%), followed by herbals/botanicals (29%), sports nutrition supplements (22%) and weight management supplements (15%).

Overall health/wellness benefits is the main reason cited by supplement users for taking dietary supplements (46%). Three in ten consume supplements to fill  nutrient gaps in their diet and similar proportions (28%) use them for energy.

Of those who do not take dietary supplements, nearly half (45%) say they might consider taking supplements in the future if a doctor recommended it to them.

In its eighteenth consecutive year, the CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements serves as the leading resource for statistics on usage of and confidence in dietary supplements. The survey was conducted Aug. 24–28 by Ipsos Public Affairs and was funded by CRN.

Create Support

Create Support

Talking about your goal can be a key element to your success. The more you put it out there, the more people know what you are setting out to do, the more support you create around you!

You will soon get that friend asking you how it is going. You’ll get the co-worker who lets you know that they have wanted to do the same thing and would absolutely love to do it with you!

Better yet, ask friends and family members to set a goal and share it with each other. Then, to make it even more interesting, decide on a reward you all can share – like a movie, concert, or spa trip together. This will keep you all focused on the prize!

If you set it up so that all of you must meet your goal to attain the reward, your support for each other will only increase.

 

One More Benefit of Moving More

All this month, we are are knocking down barriers to movement so you can be more active more of the time!

Anatomical Arm Muscle on a Man

Some people seem to just have more energy. It’s like they have more pep in their step and don’t drag and sag their way through the afternoon. There are a million factors that can contribute to this, and one of them is muscle tone.

Increased muscle tone can lead to a higher metabolic rate, which can increase your daily energy levels. The great thing about this fact is that it doesn’t matter whether you are young or old. The effect is the same across age.

As people age, they can feel more run down and tired. Increasing muscle tone is a wonderful way to counteract this tendency.

More Good News

You don’t have to be a muscle-bound body builder to get this effect. In fact, you don’t even have to lift weight at all. You can increase your muscle tone by walking more during your day, remembering to take the stairs, swimming, or doing any fun activity on a consistent basis.

If you enjoy resistance training or calisthenics like pushups, squats, sit ups etc., by all means do them as well because they’ll definitely help increase muscle tone and your energy levels along with it.

Breaking Down Barriers To Starting

All this month, we are are knocking down barriers to movement so you can be more active more of the time! 

If Not Now When, appearing behind torn brown paper.

Here is a huge barrier to movement. Just getting started! If you have been sedentary for a while it can seem very difficult to start moving again. And the longer you are sedentary, the harder that becomes!

So, no matter how long you have been inactive, here are some simple ideas help you bust through that barrier and get started again.

Get With A Group.

Look for community runs/walks in your area. These are often for a good cause, and you will be surrounded by people just like you who are just starting to move again. Also, there are entire sections of these races that are just for walkers! You’ll meet others during this event, and feel great afterwards as well.

Get a group of friends and form a team. The accountability that this brings can be just what you need to get going again. Just remember to focus on fun and train together whenever you can. On days that you cannot train together, keep in touch with your teammates and send fun pics back and forth.

Get Crazy.

Try something new, out of the box, and interesting. It doesn’t have to be hard or difficult, just interesting. If you do not know how to swim, sign up for lessons. If you’ve always wanted to learn the tango, sign up for a dance class. Ever take horseback riding lessons? What about beginner rock climbing? Awesome new experiences can shake you from your routine, and get you moving again.

Get Out.

Being outdoors is a meditation, and there are great data showing the positive impact it has on your physical AND emotional heart. Do a little web searching for a hike in your area and commit to completing it. Choose a date, and then train yourself to get in good hiking shape. Enjoy.

 

Once you get going, it is easier to sustain the momentum you build up. But often times breaking from from the lethargy can keep your from moving more. Focus on any of these three ways to get started. Pick one or more and start moving. Now is the time!