Losing Weight After 50

It may seem like as you get older, losing weight gets increasingly difficult. It’s easy to blame our age or slower metabolisms as to why we aren’t looking or feeling as good as we want. Well unfortunately this is no longer a good excuse. Even though your metabolism may have slowed down, your weight gain is mostly due to being less active and having muscle loss. Fortunately, these are two things we can do something about.

Do we have the time and energy to work out as much as we did when we were in our 20s? Ummm no. Those were the days when we didn’t have kids, weren’t in the thick of our careers and had much more free time.

But now that we are in our 40s and 50s, we have to make our health a priority. We have to carve out time and pay attention. We have to set goals and get to work.

Here are a few things to do to help you be successful in achieving your fitness or weight loss goals:

  1. Set more than one goal. Don’t just set a goal based on the scale. Set goals to include a fitness component (example: jogging non-stop for 20 minutes) anda nutrition component (example: drinking 6 cups of water a day). Setting a variety of goals will help you feel more frequent success and positivity and help to keep you staying on track.
  2. Talk to the professionals. First of all, consult your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program or if you have any specific issues that need to be considered such as IBS, Diabetes, or injuries (current or past). Make sure you are honest with all professionals you consult about your issues as this will ensure you are safe and programs are tailored to you. Some people you may want to consider hiring either for a one time or multiple sessions include personal trainers and dieticians/nutritionists. Let’s face it, if we were experts in these areas we wouldn’t be needing to get some help here. These pros can make the process much more enjoyable and increase your likelihood of success.
  3. Get moving – more often. Seems pretty basic but it’s a big move. Take the stairs, walk around on your coffee break, plan a coffee walk with a friend rather than sitting and sipping. These will all help to increase your metabolism.
  4. Workout. A few things about working out:
    a. Do something fun – whether it’s a dance class or swimming, find something that you enjoy doing – it will make all the difference.
    b. Buddy Up – whether it’s a friend or family member you meet for your workouts or a group fitness class, getting your sweat on with others makes you more likely to stick with it as you are accountable to others.
    c. Add weight lifting to your routine. This is especially important as we get older. Not only does this help with maintaining muscle to aid in keeping our weight gain at bay, it also helps with balance.
  5. Nutrition is so important! This is probably going to make the biggest impact on your weight loss. A few things (other than talking with a certified dietician/nutritionist) to consider:
    a. Be mindful about what you are eating, how much and when. It’s easy to scarf down an entire bag of chips subconsciously while watching Netflix!
    b. Increase your protein intake. Getting enough high-quality protein in your diet is not only important for weight loss but also critical for stopping or reversing age-related muscle loss. Some examples include lean meats, protein shakes, beans and legumes.
    c. Drink lots of water – try to have this be your more frequent drink of choice!
    d. Eat whole, nutrient dense foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, legumes, and whole grains, are packed with nutrients essential for maintaining a healthy body weight, such as fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
    e. Cook more at home and eat out less. Know what you’re eating. Eating out often usually means eating high fat, sugar and salt and highly processed foods. This will likely save you money too!
  6. Sleep! Not getting enough quality sleep may harm your weight loss efforts. Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of obesity and may hinder weight loss efforts.
  7. Finally, be patient. Just because you start on a path to a better, fitter, healthier you, doesn’t mean it is going to happen quickly. It takes time. But it WILL happen. Just be patient.

Just because you haven’t made yourself a priority in the past, doesn’t mean it has to stay this way. You are worth the effort.

If you enjoyed this blog, you’ll love our newsletter! Sign up here for great information about health and welless for YOU!

GMO 101

gmo

A breakfast consisting of corn flaked cereal with low fat milk and a side of cut up papaya sounds pretty darn healthy doesn’t it? Well, think again. Thanks to GMOs you are likely eating herbicide and pesticide-laced foods wrecking havoc on your health. But what are GMOs? GMO foods or Genetically Modified Organisms are foods produced from organisms that have had changes to their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits than previous methods such as selective breeding.

GMO crops were first introduced in the 1990s with the Flavr Savr tomato. It was supposed to have delayed ripening properties. This invention of GMOs was thought to perhaps be the answer to end world hunger. This is because the crops could be made to resist pesticides and therefore could increase their yields and decrease costs. However, as we still have world hunger, this was obviously not the case. Instead, the bugs and weeds, like many organisms through time and evolution – learn. They learned to become resistant to the chemicals that were dousing on the crops. This then led to increased use of the chemicals to try to battle these enlightened bugs and weeds. And as I’m sure you know, the more chemicals sprayed on our foods, the worse they are for our health.

Genetically modified foods (GMO foods) have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. The harmful health effects vary from increased allergic reactions to increased direct and indirect cancer rates. They have also shown to cause birth defects, infertility, accelerated aging and immune problems.  They may also reduce antibiotic effectiveness due to consumption through both vegetables and milk. Each year there are many more studies and results published that contribute to the evidence that GMOs are harmful to humans.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on ‘Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.’ They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling.” (Institute for Responsible Technology)

With all of this undeniable evidence stacking up, there has been mounting pressure for Canada to, at the very least, have mandatory labeling of GMO foods and to even ban GMO food production and imports altogether. Unfortunately, Canada is behind the 8-ball on this one. We are one of only a few developed nations in the world that don’t have either of these yet.

Because we have no laws requiring labelling of GMO foods, we are left to fend for ourselves. Without education, how would you know if you are eating a GMO or not? For example, the corn you are buying at the grocery store, unless organic, is probably a GMO. Same goes for your zucchini, squash and papaya! And here you thought you were doing great buying fruits and veggies! Well, so did I.

The only sure way to ensure you are eating non-GMO is to look for the certification and logo “Non-GMO Verified Project” and/or it is certified 100% organic – this is different from simply being labelled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can find these at some of the big chain grocery stores. Another option is to check local farmers’ produce or markets where you can be ensured that the crops aren’t GMO. Finally, your best bet is to start organic gardening to grow your own produce.

If you can’t do any of the above options – whether due to cost, time of year or your location, then you can at least avoid the products that are the worst GMO foods for you. Here is the list:

Corn – It is one of the most prominent GMO foods. GMO corn has been tied to a number of different numerous health issues including weight gain and organ disruption. You can’t simply think about corn as the corn on the cob you buy at the store. Also remember that these products are based on GM corn: corn flakes, corn chips, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, corn ingredients in processed foods, glucose, fructose, eggs, milk and meat (as these are fed to livestock and cows).

Canola – One of the most chemically altered foods and the second highest GM crop in Canada, canola oil is obtained from grapeseed through a series of chemical actions. Included here are products such as canola oil, margarine and some honeys.

Soy – It is modified to resist herbicides. Monsanto (GMO superstar) still controls the soy market and approximately 90 percent of soy is being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, there was 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate sprayed on soybeans alone. Included in this list of things to avoid are: tofu, soy oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy beverages, soy puddings and egg, milk and meat (as GM grains are fed to livestock and cows).

Sugar – Almost 100% of all of the white sugar beets grown in Canada are Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets. I’m OK with losing this one – as white sugar is cancer feeder anyhow.

Aspartame – Aspartame is a toxic additive and it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

Papayas – GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Although imported to Canada and the U.S. they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union.

Peas – Peas that have been genetically modified have been found to cause immune responses in mice and possibly even in humans. A gene from kidney beans was inserted into the peas creating a protein that functions as a pesticide.

Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Tomatoes – these have all been modified to resist viruses and have longer shelf-life.

Dairy, Eggs and Meat – Your dairy, eggs and meat products may contain growth hormones – this is aside from GM grains the animals are fed. Purchasing these items as organic is key.

Finally, steer clear from pre-made canned soups and frozen foods.

So there you have it. Scary, isn’t it!? I know that I have had my eyes opened to just how important it is to know where your food comes from. My hope is that the more people know about this, the more likely we will have pressure put on our government to work on protecting us from harmful GMO foods and in turn work on making the organic healthy foods more affordable for all.

As with previous blogs about health, we have to be in the driver’s seat of our own health and wellness. That includes learning as much as we can in order to make informed decisions for us and our families. If you feel that this blog has helped you in your own journey toward healthy living, you may be interested in ready more of our blogs on nutrition and health or sign up for our newsletter!

Sources: naturalnews.com, naturalsociety.com, gmoinquiry.ca, Institute for Responsible Technology

 

Fitness Journal for Girls

IMG_2970

The Fitness Journal for Girls launched Monday, May 16, 2016 in support of girls in Winnipeg being active in sport, fitness and health. Over twenty local businesses and sport organizations have come together in the Fitness Journal for Girls to help girls in Winnipeg curb the national trend of dropping out of sports. The Fitness Journal for Girls is a year-round guide to everything fun and fitness in Winnipeg.  The Journal is geared to girls ages 5 – 15 to try new sports and activities throughout Winnipeg, have weekly summer challenges to get active and win prizes, and Journal about their healthy lifestyle, increased self-esteem and positive outlook on health.

As founders of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we (Allison Gervais and Andrea Katz) created the Fitness Journal for Girls after learning that girls are up to six times more likely to drop out of sport in Canada than are boys (according to the Women’s Sport Center). Reasons for this include lack of positive female role models in sport, cost, transportation and safety issues, lack of access, social stigma of being a female athlete (‘tomboy’ or ‘butch’) and a decreased quality experience.

Mark Arndt from Tennis Manitoba and proud supporter of this initiative says, “Tennis Canada is in the process of rolling out a nation-wide campaign that focuses on increased participation among kids – especially girls. A participation gap exists among girls aged 8 – 16. Tennis Manitoba is confident this [Fitness Journal for Girls] initiative will help reach goals and, more importantly, increase and maintain activity levels for girls.”

There are over twenty local businesses and sport organizations within the Journal providing summer challenges and discounts on their programming to girls who purchase a book. Activities within the Journal for the girls include kickboxing, tennis, triathlon, swimming, wakeboarding, snowtubing, crossfit, ringette and many more.

The cost of the Journal is $20 and can be purchased on-line at fitcommunications.ca/fitnessjournalforgirls or at Aevi Boutique – 1580 Taylor Avenue. The purchase price includes all taxes and shipping. It is a great gift to give a young girl in your life – whether for a birthday, a grad or just ‘because’. What other gift provides the gift of fitness, health and self-esteem? Get yours today!

Kick Flu to the Curb!

 

chicken noodle soup

Having just survived a stomach flu, then a bad cold and yet another flu, I have done some serious research on not only how to naturally treat colds and flu symptoms but also how to prevent the illness from happening in the first place. One thing that is always recommended is to get a flu shot – especially for those “at risk”. I am not here to take a stance on whether or not to get the flu vaccine. I am, however, here to tell you what you and your kids or family can do help prevent this annoying life speedbump that won’t cost a fortune. I will also note what to do if you find yourself in need of cold and flu rescue!

So first things first – in order to stay healthy, you need to give your body what it needs – a constant supply of nutrients. Some studies show that “optimizing” vitamin D is a way to help prevent illness and shortening duration if you do get sick. Getting enough sleep is also vital to preventing illness. Even a couple nights of not enough sleep can leave the body worn down and unable to resist illness. (I have a 7 month old – hence my flu-cold-flu pattern!) Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration.

So that is what to do to “prevent”. But if you are stuck in the depth of flu-hell, prevention can take a hike. So here are some ideas on what you can do if you’re in the thick of it. There are so many natural herbs, oils and remedies out there – it is actually overwhelming! So I have picked my top faves. Some may seem unconventional and some may be “old news” but they are all worth a try for a variety of ailments and symptoms!

Hot Liquids– This one is a no-brainer but still a solid recommendation – load up on the hot herbal teas and hot lemon water at first sign of illness. The heat helps boost your immune system and a variety of herbs can help with infection.

Remove White Foods– At the first sign of illness, completely remove all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. These foods suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing ability. Given the reason, it may be a good idea to remove these for your regular diet!

Nettle Leaf – Some natural doctors say this is the only herb needed for illness treatment. It contains large amounts of vitamins and trace minerals and helps the body stay hydrated and remove toxins.

Garlic– It’s a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal and antibacterial. For the most potent effect (and a sure-fire way to keep visitors at bay) finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water.

Cinnamon – Cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough and congestion and lower fever.

Ginger – In capsule form, ginger can greatly help with nausea and vomiting associated with the flu. It can also help with high fever and headache.

Yarrow – I had never heard of this one! But apparently it is unsurpassed for flu and fever, and great for kids. If a lot is used in tea at the start of getting sick, it claims to shorten the illness to less than 24 hours.

Peppermint – It can be used as a tea or rubbed on the skin to bring a high fever down. It is antimicrobial and antiviral and kids usually love the taste.

Vitamin C – Perhaps the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery.

Onions and Garlic – You may want to sleep alone with this one! Slice onion and garlic and place all over the bottom of the feet (rub olive oil on first). Then wrap the foot in saran wrap and place a sock on overnight. Onions and garlic have been shown to pull toxins and help the body heal.

Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle and Drink– Yes Andrea (Fit Communication’s HUGE Apple Cider Vinegar supporter) I will do it! Drink a tablespoon in water (gargle first) at the first sign of illness and repeat hourly until symptoms disappear. This alkalizes the body and helps kill viruses and bacteria.

Hydrogen Peroxide– At the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection, or ear infection, put a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Lie still with the hydrogen peroxide in the ear until it stops bubbling. Do this on both sides. This is especially effective for kids. Repeat every few hours until infection is gone.

Chicken Soup – It’s been used as a “cure-all” by our grandmothers and their grandmothers’ grandmothers – for good reason! Chicken soup stops certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from congregating and causing inflammation, preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced. The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost as the garlic kills germs outright. Adding red chili pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power.

Blow-dryer – As strange as this sounds, inhaling heated air may help kill a virus working its way up your nose. Set your hair dryer on warm and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for at least two or three minutes but preferably 20 minutes.

There you have it. Try these to prevent or seek relief from those nasty little bugs that wreak havoc on life. They are all natural remedies so they’re definitely worth a try!

If you liked this blog or found it helpful, you should sign up for our newsletter and check out some other of our health blog posts here!

 

Wanted: Female Athlete Role Models

Sports-Girls-09

Sadly, girls are six times more likely to drop out of sport than are their male counterparts. We need to change these statistics as there are so many benefits to participation in sports. According to the Women’s Sport Foundation, girls who are in sport do better in school, learn life skills such as teamwork and goal setting, build self-confidence and have lower levels of stress.

Part of what we, at Fit Communications, think needs to change in order to change these statistics are more positive female role models in sport. Our girls need women to look up to, to strive to be like in order to motivate them to work harder, go faster and be better. Not only in sport, but in life.

So what is a role model? Wikipedia defines a role model as “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.”  There are so many positive effects a role model can have on a young girl including body image, self-esteem and participation. According to SIRC (Sport Research Intelligence sportive) “studies have shown that girls as young as 9 can develop a self-consciousness about their bodies that can contribute to them dropping out of sport. Exposing girls to successful, confident, strong athletic female role models with a healthy body shapes helps to create a positive image for young girls to look up to and can also drive young women to want to participate in their respective sports.”

Unfortunately, when you search Google for images of “female athletes” a slew of images of nearly naked women pop up. It looks more like photos taken out of Playboy rather than Sports Illustrated (and I don’t mean the swimsuit edition!) Within these photos are some legitimate athletes but unfortunately they have chosen to strip down to skimpy bikinis or even naked to pose with their sporting equipment. Is this the role model I want for my daughter or I would want as an athlete myself years ago? No! I want to see real girls and women training. Show me the real sweat and angst of hard work painted on their faces. Show me muscles. Show me real bodies of real athletes – not a photo-shopped spray tanned pose.

It’s not that there is a lack of female athlete role models. Quite the contrary. There are many athletes – both professional and amateur that are doing amazing things both on and off the field.

The issue isn’t that they don’t exist. The issue is that we don’t know about them. The reason for this is two-fold. First, they don’t get enough media attention. The media, generally speaking, cover female sports and athletes staggeringly less than their male counterparts. Part of the reason, arguable is that other than in Europe and the WNBA, there are no professional sports leagues for women. The sports that are the exception to this are tennis and golf. But other than Eugenie Bouchard, do you know any of these athletes by name? Even when Bouchard is covered by the media, they ask her about her outfit or if she has a celebrity crush! Do they ask the same questions to Dustin Byfuglien or Tom Brady? So then if we don’t have professional females, then why not cover more amateur female sports? When was the last time you saw women’s sports – professional or amateur – covered by TSN or CBC?

Secondly is sponsorship – or more specifically, a lack thereof. Again, there are countless number of men and men’s professional athletes and teams sponsored by businesses. What about women’s? What about amateur female athletes? Is it because businesses think that sponsoring female athletes won’t be seen as high profile or as popular as the men? (this can be linked back to the lack of coverage by the media). I would argue that a business would get a bigger “bang for their buck” by sponsoring a female athlete over a male. Young women NEED more role models – more heroes of sport and life. Parents know this. Any parent of a young girl knows how important it is for our daughters (or nieces or granddaughters) to have strong, positive, inspiring, athletic women to look up to.  I would truly respect and support a company that chose a strong female athlete as their spokesperson or person to sponsor. And I do the shopping in my household.

In addition, choosing a female athlete stands out. I hear countless radio ads of different hockey players promoting everything from car dealerships to insurance sales. Hearing from a successful local female athlete would get attention. It’s not status quo.

So if you are a business, rather than spending $230,000 on a rink board panel ad of the Jets that I’m betting no one even notices is there, why not spend that money on making a real difference in some of our female athletes. They need help with training. They train 30-40 hours per week and have part time jobs to make ends meet. At the moment they are sweating it out or giving back to their community and their sports. They go to schools to talk to kids about their experiences and provide inspiration. They will be fantastic ambassadors for your business. You will not be disappointed if you get behind them. Impress those of us that are waiting for a hero.

Top 10 Reasons Sex is GREAT for Your Health

2013-12-27-shutterstock_147194561_dreams_cloud_sex

There are so many elements to being a healthy person – fitness, nutrition, sleep, spirituality, connection, and the list goes on. But one of my favorites is sex. Yes – that’s right, in order to be a truly healthy person sex is needed. Some of us like it more often than others, some of us like it different ways than others, but at the end of the day, it is a fact that part of the key to an overall healthy ADULT is a great sex life.

According to sex therapist Richard A. Carroll from Northwestern University, “We are programmed to do so (have sex). Asking why people have sex is akin to asking why we eat. Our brains are designed to motivate us toward that behavior.”

Humans have sex for a multitude number of reasons from curiosity to exercise, from pleasure to stress relief, and from wanting to pro-create to wanting to boost self esteem. I find it fascinating to find out why people have or don’t have sex. I have personally never understood the idea of withholding sex from your partner as punishment because he or she didn’t do/act/say what you wanted them to. Is that not punishment to both? And moreover, why would you want to punish someone you are so intimate with? The topic of sexual encounters is one that truly intrigues me.

Back to the health benefit of sex! Here are my Top Ten Reasons as to why sex can actually improve your health:

  1. Lowers stress levels
  2. Lowers cholesterol levels and in turn lowers your risk for a heart attack
  3. Sex burns approximately 290 calories per hour – great exercise!
  4. Orgasm can partially or completely alleviate migraines (according to a University of Munster study)
  5. Heart health – with all of that cardio, you’re on a roll to a healthier heart!
  6. Helps keep your immune system on track due to an increased level of antibodies
  7. Improves women’s bladder control – all those kegel exercises and daily sex is helping you in so many ways!
  8. Lowers blood pressure
  9. Lowers the risk for prostate cancer in men
  10. Improves sleep

And of course, an absolute favorite is that it just feels great! Sometimes we need to do things because they feel great. Maybe that’s having an ice cream sundae, or playing hooky from work, or maybe it’s having terrific sex. Do what feels amazing and this world is your oyster.

Drink More Water!

water

Drink more water. We hear it all the time. I think by now we all know that drinking lots of water is good for you. But why? I’ve narrowed it down to 8 solid reasons why you need to drink up!

Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.

Kidney function. Kidneys process nearly 200 litres of blood daily. Their job is to clear out waste and transport urine to the bladder. To ensure that they operate at maximum capacity, they need enough fluids – like water!

Bowel Function. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration – resulting in constipation.

Weight loss. The reasons for this are two-fold: one is that substituting water for higher calorie beverages can cut calories. The second is that drinking lots of water help you to feel full.

Improved workouts: When your muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired more quickly. So drinking water will provide your body with extra energy to make more out of your time at the gym.

Clearer skin. Drinking water can flush out the toxins in the body that can cause the skin to inflame resulting in clogged pores and acne.

Stay alert. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is tiredness.

Natural Headache Remedy – Drinking water helps to relieve and prevent headaches which are commonly caused by dehydration.

If you have a hard time getting enough water in your daily routine, try a few of these tricks:

  • Buy a water bottle. Have this bottle and fill it up in the morning. Set goals as to how many bottles to drink each day. Don’t worry about feeling water-logged or bloated. You will be surprised to see how quickly your body adjusts to your body’s new hydration.
  • Keep your water bottle at your desk. You are more likely to drink water if it is right there – easily accessible and ready to drink.
  • Drink what you like. If you aren’t a fan of “plain old” water, try adding either a sugar-free water-flavouring or lemon. An added bonus is that the lemon also flushes out toxins and improves your immune system.

So if you haven’t been convinced by this blog to drink more water, I have one more thing to add…drinking water is free!  (the good ‘ole fashioned “from the tap” variety at least!) Don’t we all like free stuff?  Cheers!

 

 

High Blood Pressure? Try these “super” foods!

Dark Choc and Nuts

Why is it that no matter what ailment you are suffering from or disease you are trying to prevent, many of the items listed below are recommended. When researching how to lower blood pressure, the “usual suspects” were recommended.

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. A person’s blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm HG). Normal resting blood pressure for an adult is approximately 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is referred to as hypertension – stage 1 (140-159 and 90-99) and stage 2 (160+ and 100-109).

When diagnosed with high blood pressure, people are usually told to improve their diet and start exercising. Luckily, there are specific foods you can eat that will target high blood pressure and may even reverse the condition. It is no surprise that these foods also work to fight off diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

But how do they work, why are they recommended and how do you incorporate them into your daily routine?

Whole Grains – Whole grains are grains that are still completely intact and have not been refined to remove the bran and germ. Whole grains retain the entire grain kernel, making them high in fiber and other nutrients. The high level of potassium and magnesium in whole grains is linked to lower blood pressure.

Breakfast: oatmeal or oat bran muffins for breakfast.                    
Lunch: healthy sandwiches made on whole grain bread for lunch.

Low-Fat Dairy – Dairy products are high in both calcium and vitamin D. These two nutrients boost each other’s health benefit and are more powerful at lowering blood pressure when consumed together. A calcium deficiency can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Breakfast: try skim milk with a whole grain cereal.                      
Lunch: stir in fruit and granola with low-fat yogurt.

Spinach -It’s full of magnesium and folate which are both powerful tools in fighting high blood pressure.

Breakfast: add some fresh spinach leaves to an egg white and turkey wrap.  Add some salsa for a an added kick of flavour and antioxidants!
Lunch/Dinner: Add fresh or packaged spinach leaves to just about any lunch salad and replace lettuce on sandwiches with fresh spinach leaves Toss some spinach leaves with other fresh veggies and add them to pasta dishes for a healthy dinner main.

Nuts, Seeds and Beans – Unsalted sunflower seeds and other nuts are also full of magnesium. Beans are also high in potassium and fiber, and the combination of nutrients found in beans make them an excellent choice to help lower blood pressure.

Lunch: Nuts, seeds and beans can all easily be added to salads, soups and sandwiches.
Snacks: Edamame, soybeans that are still in the pod, can be boiled in minutes and taste great eaten straight out of the pod.

Bananas – An excellent source of potassium, bananas can significantly impact blood pressure levels. When your potassium levels fall below recommended levels, your body will hang onto sodium, which raises blood pressure. However, the opposite is true! When potassium levels are high, the body will release stores of sodium.

Breakfast: Eating bananas is quick and easy – add sliced bananas to whole grain cereal or oatmeal or add to protein shakes or smoothies.                 
Lunch: For a healthy mid-day snack, add top whole grain bread with some peanut butter and banana slices.

Baked Potatoes – YES! Baked potatoes!! Potatoes are fat-free and cholesterol-free, and are a rich source of magnesium and fiber. Much like bananas, baked potatoes pack a whopping punch of potassium into every serving. Eating baked potatoes can help lower blood pressure by helping to keep potassium levels high and sodium levels low.

Lunch/Dinner: Enjoy baked potatoes alone, or with a spoonful of fat-free sour cream. For added flavor, add some fresh minced garlic or freshly chopped chives. For added protein, top with cooked ground turkey – yum!

Dark Chocolate – Again a big YES! Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants and vital nutrients. Just one ½ ounce serving of dark chocolate a day may help to bring blood pressure levels back down to the normal range – which is like an invitation to eat it!

Snacks: Dark chocolate bars or grate some chocolate shavings over fat-free yogurt, fat-free ice cream or decaffeinated tea. Don’t go crazy here though. As this is high calories, it can be too much of a good thing!

Green Tea – The theory is that the polyphenols in tea are high in antioxidants that help protect the heart and fight off free radicals that can elevate blood pressure.

Breakfast: Try a cup of hot green tea in place of your morning coffee.

Avocados – Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which are high in antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin B6, magnesium and folic acid. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas. This combination of nutrients is what makes avocados a healthy blood pressure lowering food.

Lunch: Add slices to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
Snacks: Mash up some avocados and add some fresh diced tomatoes, fresh garlic and lime juice to make yummy and anti-oxidant rich guacamole.

As you can see, there are many foods that may help lower your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s orders for treatment. However, you can try adding these foods for either a natural remedy or to build on your existing treatment. Not only for your blood pressure but for overall good health!

Magisto – Review

Magisto

I love my iPhone. Yes, I have been known to have my “opinions” about technology. Normally, my negative opinions about it relate to advances in war and weaponry and a lack of face to face communications and abuses committed to others via the internet etc…

What I love about technology includes the ability to connect with those far from us and to capture images and share them with loved ones. My latest discovery that I am in love with is the app called Magisto. In fact, my new nickname is “Spielberg”!

Magisto is a free app available on your iPhone (or Android). Magisto allows you to create your own personal one-minute movies. There are two ways to make a movie: either shoot a video from scratch i.e. totally new video footage you take at the time you go into the app OR select footage already on your phone. The free app is limited to shorter videos with limited number of clips allowed. Like most apps, you can upgrade to allow for more images and videos allowed. For this, there is a monthly fee OR a one time fee.

To select footage already on your phone, you simply select a number of photos and short videos from your library. Magisto organizes it for you based on date. So, if you are looking to make a movie of Gramma’s 80th birthday party, you would go to the date of the party and select from there. Once you have selected your images and videos you are ready for the next step. You need to select at least 5 video clips or 15 pictures.

Next step is to go to the Editing Style. Here you select what mood, theme or music you would like to accompany your visuals. Once these are selected, you must title your movie. That’s it!

Once your movie is made, you can save it to your camera roll. You can also share it via text, email, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp.

The only down-sides to this app are that you cannot select exactly what portions of videos you upload are used. Also, if your picture has multiple people in it, you can’t choose what part of the picture or who is the focus.

Overall, this is a fantastic app. Not only is this a fun thing to create but it is also a way to enhance cherished memories. So now there is no excuse why you, too, can’t be a “film maker”!

Vitamins 101

vitamins

If you are anything like me, walking down the vitamin aisle is a little overwhelming. Between the different types of brands – generic, name brand; doses, forms and combinations, it can be nearly impossible to know what to choose.

So what vitamins, if any, should you take? Well, as with any other health advice out there, there are varying opinions. In this blog, I am going to provide you with what I have learned. However, this is my opinion and I am not a doctor, naturopath, dietician or other health practitioner. I would suggest taking what you read here and consulting your health care professional as they will be aware of all of your other issues, lifestyle and medications that may be a factor in what vitamins or supplements you should or shouldn’t be taking.

Here is what I know or have discovered:

Multivitamin: This is the basic bare minimum of supplements. Most of us do not get all of the nutrients we need in our daily diets for optimal health. This is why a multi is great. Consider it a “top up” to a good overall diet.

Omega Fatty Acids: 3, 6, 9? One? All 3? What does it do? There is varying evidence to support the claim that it can reduce the risk of dementia, useful in the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder, skin disorders and high cholesterol. It may decrease the risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. How much is enough or too much? This is completely dependent on what you are using it for – either prevention/general health or treatment of a condition. Your best bet is to talk to your health practitioner.

Vitamin D is essential in the absorption of Calcium and phosphorus – both needed for healthy bones.   It is an immune system “regulator”. It may reduce your risk of cancer, MS and rheumatoid arthritis in women. It may also help to maintain cognitive function and a healthy body weight.  So how much Vitamin D to take? There is a range recommended for every age and stage in life. Assuming that you don’t receive virtually any Vitamin D from sunshine, most children aged 9 to those 70 years of age should take a minimum 600 IU each day to a maximum 4,000 IU per day. Children in Canada definitely need to ensure that they receive enough. In fact a recent study showed that 80% of elementary school children in Edmonton were Vitamin D deficient.

Calcium: We all know that calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. However it also has been said to increase metabolism, reduce PMS, prevent certain cancers and help your heart. You can get “too much” calcium though so ensure you follow recommended daily intakes. How much? A general recommendation is 1000mg/day. Remember calcium is in many of the foods we eat so be sure to check your labels!

Magnesium. You may not have heard of this one but it has many potential benefits! It may reverse osteoporosis, prevent heart disease, regulate blood pressure, treat migraines, diabetes, insomnia and depression. It also may improve your skin! How much to take? About 300-400mg/day is recommended but again, consult your pro!

These are just a few of the array of vitamins and minerals out there. Hopefully this has shed a bit of light on the subject.