Category Archives: Health

Senior Rules for a Safe and Happy Summer

Of course, the seniors to which I refer in the title are those of the “well-aged” variety rather than those who are about to enter their last year of high school or college.  As discussed in too much detail in my last post, summer in the northern hemisphere begins in the wee hours of the morning on June 21 and it is, by all accounts, the most joyous of seasons for most.  However, summer can pose a few heat-related dangers, especially for seniors.

As we age, our bodies become less efficient at regulating body temperature.  That’s why many older people tend to enjoy being in a warmer climate than younger folks.  As anecdotal evidence, I refer you, once again, to Seinfeld.  In episode three of season three (“The Pen”), Elaine is forced to beg Jerry’s elderly parents to turn on the air conditioning in their Florida condo as the previous night she complained to Jerry, “I’m sweating here.  I’m in bed…sweating.”

The next day, Jerry’s mom relents, but isn’t even sure she knows how to work the air conditioning.  As a result of this lessened ability to regulate temperature, many seniors fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion.  So here are a few tips to keep in mind as the mercury (I figure most people reading this post can remember mercury thermometers) begins to rise this summer.

  • Use the frickin’ air conditioning if you have it. Electric bill be damned.  If you don’t have A/C, then on extremely hot and humid days go someplace that has it and isn’t afraid to crank it.  It matters not where you go…a friend’s place, the mall, a museum, the movies, a library are all good choices.  You’ll be amazed what a few hours out of the heat can do for your overworked body.
  • Avoid too much time in the sun especially if you’re engaged in strenuous activity like yard work or exercise. And if you’re just lounging in the glorious sun, don’t forget to slather on plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 759, or those cool, box-like sunglasses that offer UV protection.
  • Get the heat out of a hot kitchen, or if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen…choose whatever cliché you like, just avoid cooking on hot days and simply pop a delicious meal from MagicKitchen.com into the microwave machine which generates no heat at all. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to keep a few MagicKitchen.com meals in your freezer for those scorchers that you know are coming if they haven’t arrived already.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate BEFORE you get thirsty, because if you wait until the thirst arrives, you’re already dehydrated. And try to avoid “hydrating’ with alcohol or caffeinated drinks as they work as diuretics and serve to hasten dehydration.
  • Don’t just drink cool water, get in some, whether it’s a cool bath, shower, lake, pool, ocean, river…whatever. The cool water will help cool your blood which circulates throughout your body.  Another quick cooling off method is to run cold water over the inside of your wrists.  This area has a large number of blood vessels that run close to the surface and that cold water will cool all that blood as it circulates through your body.
  • Communicate often with friends and family to let them know you’re doing fine and staying cool on hot days. Use whatever method you, and they, are comfortable with, telephone, cell phone, Twitter, Snapchat…you get that idea.
  • Watch the humidity level. I’ve heard Arizona is hot, but it’s a dry heat.  That, however, is not the case in many places within our country.  High humidity levels are dangerous to us due to the fact that it causes our body’s cooling mechanism, sweating, not to work effectively.  The reason we perspire is to send liquid to the surface so that it can evaporate, thus, cooling our bodies.  When it’s excessively humid, that sweat on our skin’s surface doesn’t evaporate due to the high-water content in the atmosphere.  As a result, our bodies work harder to try and stay cool, placing more stress on our bodies, primarily on the heart.  So when the humidity’s up, keep your activity level down.

I’m not implying that you should cloister yourself in an air conditioned room for the entire summer.  I’m just giving you the same warning that Sergeant Esterhaus gave his officers after briefings on Hill Street Blues, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”

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Foods that are Low in Carbs

A low carb diet is a good lifestyle choice. Studies show it is a healthy way to lose weight, and for many it is a great way to keep weight off. Diet and exercise together are the best way to keep yourself fit and ward off disease. Here are many low carb food choices you can make.

 

Most low-carb diets suggest limiting carbohydrate intake to between 50 to 150 grams per day, depending on the diet. Most low carb diets for weight loss start with extremely low carbohydrate intake,  in the range of 20-25 grams per day. That lasts for a couple of weeks, then rises to 60 to 90 grams per day for continued weight loss.

Things to be aware of with low carb diets

Especially if you are used to eating a lot of high-carb items and sugary foods. Your body will crave them like crazy for the first three weeks or so. Your body is going into a state called ketosis, which starts to use your fat for energy. This can cause bad breath, so stock up on sugar-and-carb-free mints.

You may experience… how can we put it delicately… trouble with your digestive tract. Drink lots of water. Lots and lots of water.

If your body is used to a lot of carbs, you may experience something called the “Keto flu”. You might feel fatigued, and have muscle weakness. It will go away within a week or so.

If you do eat a lot of carbs and sweets, it will be easier on your body and will power to do a pre-diet slowdown. Start eating fewer carbs every day for a week or so, to get your body used to fewer carbs. Then the first two weeks won’t be potentially painful.

We wish you luck on your low carb lifestyle. For many people, it’s the key to taking weight off and keeping it off!

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Home Safety Tips for Seniors

It’s just a fact of life: as we age we become less, shall we say…agile, nimble, sprightly, dexterous…choose any synonym for quick and spry you like, we simply don’t move the way we used to.  We also develop certain ailments that require certain medications and if we continue to live independently as we reach our “senior” years, certain accommodations must be made to these simple facts of life.  As I continually tell my kids, “Getting old generally sucks, but you can make some minor adjustments to make it suck less.”

Let’s just accept the fact that accommodations must be made for our continued seniorly independence and those accommodations must be made for the sake of safety.  Given that the number one cause of injuries among seniors is from falls (falls are also the number one cause of fatal injuries), the following tips will focus on how to avoid them.  Simply stated, do whatever you need to do to avoid falls within and without your home. The other area of concern for seniors is that of medicine and ensuring that they take the proper amount…think Goldilocks here, neither too much nor too little, but the proper amount.

Tips to “fall-proof” your home

  • Add rails and grab bars where needed. The two main problem areas here are stairs and the bathroom.  Yes, this will probably require the assistance of either a contractor or someone with carpentry skills, but isn’t your safety worth it?  Along stairways, both interior and exterior, handrails should line both sides and both should be used, especially when descending.  In the bathroom, rails should be added in and around the tub/shower and around the toilet to prevent slipping and to assist with sitting and standing.
  • Remove excess clutter throughout the home. “Clutter,” in this instance, refers to anything that could be a tripping hazard and can include shoes (while not on your feet), magazines, pet toys, books, clothes, and trash in any form.  “Everything has a place and there’s a place for everything,” as my dad is still fond of telling me when I leave one of his tools in a place other than where it’s supposed to be.  It’s simple.  Keep your floors free from junk and you’ll greatly improve your odds of staying upright.
  • Watch those throw rugs and floor surfaces. Ensure that all rugs are properly secured to the floor to prevent them slipping from underfoot and avoid the use of slippery cleaning solutions on hardwood and tile floors.
  • Install non-slip surfaces in the tub and/or shower. Actually, this rule applies to people of all ages, not just seniors.  Water, soap/shampoo and a slick, smooth surface is a recipe for disaster, seriously.  It matters not whether you use simple non-slip strips or cute little fishies and duckies, just put them in place.
  • Light dark/dim places, inside and out. It really, really, really, really, helps if you can see where you’re walking…really.  Replace burned out or dim bulbs throughout your home and add additional lighting if there’s any question regarding proper illumination.  Oh yeah, leave some lights on during the night, especially in the bathroom.
  • Consider wearing a medical alert system with fall detection. Some come GPS equipped to ensure fallen seniors are quickly located and they are relatively inexpensive, usually under $50.

A few more safety tips

  • Create and use a system for your meds. There’s an app(lication) for that.  If you’re comfortable using a smart phone, download a medication reminder app.  It’s the next best thing to a nagging spouse.  Or use a pill box, or a pocket calendar, or link taking your meds to a daily activity (wake up, teeth brushing, eating), or use your friends and family members.  Also, keep an up-to-date list of your current meds, to include name, dosage, number of refills, and strength.
  • If you haven’t already, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. And change the batteries every time you alter the clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated. MagicKitchen.com can sure help you here.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, as we age our nutritional needs change.  Ensure you’re getting the RDA of all essential vitamins and minerals through eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins.  As for hydration, there’s a simple test to determine if you’re properly hydrated.  If you’re urine is clear, you’re good, if it’s eye-blinding neon yellow, you’re dehydrated and need some liquid.

Getting old doesn’t necessarily mean you must give up your independence.  However, there’s no doubt that our bodies change as we age and some accommodations must be made due to this fact…so don’t be a “stubborn old codger,” as my mom likes to call my dad, and make them!

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Common Foods with Surprising Health Benefits

It seems that many people believe that some sort of special diet with exotic foods is required to “eat healthy.”  We go out of our way to locate and drive to so called specialty stores to find strange foods that we discovered in some online article that extolls the nutritional virtues of these foods we can’t pronounce (like spirulina, harissa and cupuaca).

And, often times, we pay exorbitant amounts of money to purchase these foods when we could gain the same health benefits from far more common and less expensive alternatives.  Since you seem skeptical, here are five examples of foods found in every local grocery store that offer numerous health benefits.

Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatoes – There isn’t a more common food than tomatoes, is there?  These semi-round spheres of fruity goodness (yes, they are considered a fruit) are chock full of nutritional nutritioness that provide numerous health benefits.  They contain all four major antioxidants (alpha and beta carotene, lutein and lycopene) which are concentrated in their peels and provide them with their rich red color.  Studies have found that the regular consumption of tomatoes can reduce the risk of stroke and prostrate and pancreatic cancers due to the presence of these antioxidants.

Raisins – Also known as concentrated grapes, raisins possess plenty of B vitamins, iron, potassium, carbs and fiber.  Dietary iron is primarily used by our bodies to transport oxygen, via red blood cells, to our various muscles and brain.  It also supports our immune system, aids with metabolism and assists in the building of amino acids.  The potassium in raisins has been shown to lower blood pressure by limiting the effects of sodium.  Its fiber, half of which is soluble fiber, helps to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.  And while the reputation of carbohydrates has recently been drug through the mud, they are very necessary for energy and many endurance athletes (yours truly included) substitute raisins for sport gels in order to avoid processed sugars.

Grapefruit – This low-cal, high nutrient fruit contains plenty of vitamins C and A, fiber, and the antioxidants beta-carotene, lycopene and flavanones.  Studies suggest that these nutrients reduce blood pressure, LDL (or bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  They also provide a boost to our immune systems, stabilize our blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance whereby our cells stop responding to insulin which can lead to type 2 diabetes.  The fiber contained within grapefruit can also provide appetite control as it slows the rate at which our stomachs empty which causes us to feel full for longer periods of time.

Yogurt – One of the key elements contained within yogurt are probiotics or “friendly” bacteria that improves our digestive health and can help with constipation, diarrhea (side note: I could never spell “diarrhea” without spell check) and inflammatory bowel disease.  Yogurt also naturally contains plenty of calcium and many manufacturers add vitamin D, both of which are necessary for bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis.  Finally, yogurt also contains plenty of protein that assists with muscle recovery and creation.  One last piece of advice: use plain yogurt and add natural flavoring, such as berries and other fruit as many manufacturers add tons of unnecessary sugar, even the one with the “fruit on the bottom.”

Ginger – The Asian spice, not the British Spice…Girl (you knew I couldn’t go a whole post without a lame joke).  And yes, I realize that ginger is somewhat exotic as it originates from Asia, but its been here for centuries and its been used for medicinal purposes in Asia and India for longer than that.  The active ingredient in ginger is a volatile oil known, appropriately, as gingerol.  It is why, when we were children and had an upset stomach, our moms gave us ginger ale, which, for me, was a very rare treat and almost made vomiting worth it (side note II: ginger ale came from the practice of British pubs placing out bowls of ground ginger for the patorns to sprinkle in their beers).  Gingerol, it seems, eliminates excess gas within our digestive tracts and eases symptoms associated with motion sickness, such as dizziness and nausea.  Gingerol is also an anti-inflammatory which can lessen the pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as improve mobility in the affected areas.

So, next time you’re contemplating a trip to a specialty grocery store for some durian or chayote, check yourself before you wreck yourself and stop by the local shop for a few tomatoes, grapefruit, boxes of raisins, some plain yogurt and ground ginger.  Your body will thank you for it.

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It’s Spring, Get Outside: 8 Outdoor Activities for Seniors

Have you noticed that the heat is coming on less and less in your home?  If not, just look at your last heating bill.  And in our world of cause and effect, the cause is increased outdoor temperatures and the effect SHOULD be increased outdoor activities on your part.  Outdoor activity is the panacea for cabin fever and you don’t even need to fill a prescription.

Look, I’m sure you’re aware about the benefits of regular physical activity, but what about the benefits of regular “outdoor” physical activity?  Humans have an innate connection and attraction to nature which is referred to as biophilia and too many of us attempt to resist that connection.  Yet another fact: less than 3% of America’s senior population attains the recommended 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, and that can have dangerous consequences.

Some of the benefits of outdoor activity are more obvious than others, such as increased exposure to sunlight which exposes us to vitamin D which improves brain, bone and muscle functions (just beware of overexposure…as with everything else, moderation is best).

However, studies have also shown that regular outdoor activity improves our health and well-being and improves our physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.  So, keeping all this in mind, here are eight outdoor activities we all should do more of:

  1. Tai Chi – Before you think I’m getting all “Karate Kid” on you, let me explain. Yes, tai chi began as a defensive martial art, but it has since evolved into a balletic activity of continuous, gentle movements.  It’s different from yoga in that with yoga you hold a pose (sleeping dog) for a short period of time, while with tai chi, you’re in continuous motion, albeit, at a slow pace.  Locate a “tai chi in the park” group in your area, or simply access the internet machine, learn the basics and head to your backyard.
  1. Search for gold — …with a metal detector. And no, it doesn’t have to be on a beach.  Grab your metal detector and head to the local park or historical site and you’ll be amazed at the objects that are lying around out there.  Here’s am interesting article that offers examples of successful treasure hunts and can help get you started: https://www.wired.com/2011/08/treasure-hunters/
  1. Picnics – Grab your basket, blanket, chicken salad sandwiches, your favorite companions and locate an out-of-the-way picnic spot, preferably on a level, grassy area near a babbling brook. Just ensure that getting to that spot requires some walking to get there.  You’ll be amazed how relaxing this activity is and how the conversation flows when you’re away from a screen.
  1. Yard games – Hit the backyard or park for a rousing round of horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet or badminton. These games are perfect for bringing out the competitor in all of us and can be a great way to reconnect with friends and/or family members.  Side note: I understand the safety aspect, but I truly miss “Jarts,” the yard game that involved plastic circles and metal tipped lawn darts…just sayin’.
  1. Be a tourist – even in your own hometown. Go on a historical walking tour, visit the zoo or botanical gardens or downtown area or local, state, or national parks or Civil War battlefields or any other outdoor place that interests you.
  1. Bird watch – Yeah, I know, I used this one in my fall outdoor activities post, but it’s perhaps even more relevant in the spring as birds become more active as they prepare to bring the next generation of our avian friends into the world. The few birders I know are extremely passionate about their hobby and tend to record just about every aspect of their sightings, to include the species (of course), and when, where, and under what weather conditions the sighting occurred.  This is one of those hobbies that permits various levels of immersion, but its seems to have some addictive qualities, and, in this instance, that’s not a bad thing.
  1. Gardening This activity is perfect for the spring for obvious reasons and there’s nothing more satisfying than eating delicious and healthy food you planted and cultivated yourself. And if you live in an apartment or senior community that does not offer space for this activity, move…just kidding.  There are many places that rent small plots for a nominal fee.
  1. Stroll through a local farmer’s, flea or craft markets – The larger the better. Heck, this one doesn’t even seem like an outdoor exercise, but it most certainly is.  Remember, all that’s required to reap the benefits is getting outside and slightly raising your heart and breathing rate for a moderate period of time, and wandering through a massive flea market in search of hidden treasures certainly qualifies.

One last note, try to do these activities with a group of friends or family members and do so on a regular schedule.  Also, use the group to coerce (or shame) each other to get out there and find that Baltimore Oriole, or practice tai chi like Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro in “The Intern,” or go in search of lost jewelry, or weed the garden, or watch the handlers feed the elephants, or whack that shuttlecock around, or pack that picnic basket.  Hell, just get outside and be active.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Kale, Avocado and Chia Seeds are Out: The Top Ten Superfoods of 2017

In case you haven’t heard, 2016 superfoods are, like, so last year.  We’re well into 2017 and it’s time to update your superfood list and we here at MagicKitchen.com are here to help.

Through exhaustive and laborious research (don’t think I’ve ever done anything exhaustively and/or laboriously in my life) we’ve compiled a list of the ten most popular superfoods for 2017.  Some we’re sure you’ve heard of before (watermelon seeds) and some, while having been around for all of eternity, are just having their nutritional values “discovered” (sumac, maringa & the alien sounding sacha inchi nuts).

Remember, this is just a superficial description of each, for more information, simply “Google” each one.  And without further ado, here they are:

  1. Watermelon seeds – These things are on just about every superfood site I visited during my laborious and exhaustive research and each site claimed they will not sprout and grow in your tummy if eaten. They do, however, provide mad nutritional benefits if eaten only after they sprout (outside your stomach) and are shelled prior to being eaten.  Not to worry, you don’t have to do that yourself as they can be purchased that way.  As for their nutritional benefits, they offer ten grams of protein per ounce, and are chock full of vitamin B, magnesium and both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  1. Raw cacao nibs – A synonym for “nibs” would be bits or pieces. Just think of this as chocolate without all the other stuff, especially sugar.  Raw cacao contains numerous flavonoids which serve as an anti-inflammatory and support both the cardiovascular and nervous systems.  Flavonoids also provide many fruits and veggies with their rich colors, such as the vibrant red of raspberries.  Other nutrients contained within cacao include magnesium and riboflavin.
  1. Buckwheat – No, not the lovable character from Our Gang/The Little Rascals that Eddie Murphy immortalized in Saturday Night Live skits from the 1980s, but the gluten-free flour substitute used to make pancakes, among other things. Buckwheat (there’s actually no wheat in buckwheat.  It’s a fruit seed.) is a great source of vegetarian protein, dietary fiber, and manganese.  It’s also been shown to help control blood sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
  1. Purple Vegetables – And not just eggplants and beets, but corn, carrots, and asparagus too. Why?  Well, it goes back to those antioxidants called flavonoids that provide these veggies with their color that the musician Prince (RIP) most certainly ate in large amounts.  These flavonoids help lower the risk of high blood pressure, reduce inflammation and support brain health and since they’re also rich in vitamin A they support eye health as well.
  1. Chaga mushrooms – Usually found in dried or powder form, chaga isn’t a true mushroom, but a fungus that grows on birch trees…before you gross out, remember, all mushrooms are, technically, a fungus. Derived from the Russian word for “mushroom,” chaga contains over 200 phytonutrients and flavonoids that support the immune system.  Other nutrients contained in chaga (which is often used to make tea or coffee) are B and D vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and pantothenic acid.

  1. Sacha inchi nuts – AKA Incan peanuts as they’re found in the Peruvian highlands. These plant seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins A and E.  These nutrients have been shown to control blood glucose levels, lower LDL cholesterol levels and support brain and heart health.

 

  1. Jackfruit – As opposed to a jackass (sorry, couldn’t resist). The tropical, starchy, fibrous jackfruit is the largest fruit on the globe.  A single jackfruit can weigh in at more than 100 pounds.  It can be used by vegetarians, or even carnivores and omnivores for that matter, as a meat substitute (Mmmmm, jackfruit steak).  It tends to absorb the flavor of what it’s cooked with and provides its consumer with various flavonoids, protein, potassium, fiber, vitamins B and A, and iron.
  1. Maringa – The tiny leaves of the maringa tree, native to India but also found in Africa, Asia and South and Central America, are showing up in smoothies all over the Western world and with good reason. They are a very nutrient dense source of vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, protein, potassium and antioxidants that combat stress causing free radicals within the body.
  1. Sumac – This Middle Eastern spice (not the “poison” version we deal with in the U.S.) has a tart and salty taste and has been found to be stuffed full of antioxidants and serves as a great salt substitute as well. These free radical neutralizing, anti-inflammatory antioxidants also promote heart health. Many simply sprinkle the red powder on their salads, pasta or rice, but others use it to flavor their meat and fish as well.
  1. Black Currants – The tart berry, not a dark running river or stream of electricity…get it?…were once thought to spread a fungus that killed pine trees (that’s not the case). They’re most often used in jams, jellies, juices, and health drinks and contain what all the other foods on this list do…antioxidants, but they also possess vitamins C, A and E, gamma-linolenic acid, and anthocyanins.  These nutrients help support healthy immune and cardiovascular systems.

So, after writing this, I immediately made and consumed a purple carrot, black currant, maringa, sumac, buckwheat, raw cacao, sacha inchi nut, watermelon seed, chaga mushroom, and jackfruit smoothie and soon after developed the combined superpowers of the Hulk, Spiderman and Wonder Woman.  Individual results may vary.

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March is National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is upon us yet, again. Yes, March is here already. It seems like yesterday I was just reminiscing about great foods for Fall. At that point, I was taken back to when I was a kid and all the unhealthy things we would eat. When I was little, it didn’t matter if it wasn’t good for me. I just wanted it to taste good. Food from the county fair, Halloween, and football never seemed to be healthy. Funnell cakes, chocolate candy in my Halloween bag, and chili dogs were all yummy. They certainly weren’t pictured on the Food Pyramid.

I have to admit that the chili dogs weren’t just something I’d get only during football season. There was this great little family run country store out by my grandparent’s house. We’d go there as a treat and order a chili dog, fries, and a soda. The drinks were in glass bottles, right inside a frosty cooler. The sounds of deep fat fryers and the POP! of a refrigerated cooler door can take me back to those moments in an instant. I didn’t care how many calories and fat I was ingesting on those days. Nutrition? Who cared? It’s a different story these days.

Why was it ok then? Probably two reasons. First, we only ate like that a couple of times a year, and sodas were treats we’d get maybe once a week. Two, as kids we were way more active, out on the streets until sundown, playing and running around. But that can cause problems later in life, when we get more sedentary and still eat the same bad things. So learning good nutrition young is the focus.

Nutrition is thought of as the way food is brought in and turned into energy for the body. We seem to do all we can and discover ways to either stay healthy or get that way. Exercise and having an optimal body weight are key components to being healthy. The essence of this year’s National Month of Nutrition is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, focusing on the fact that we are ultimately responsible for our own nutritional needs and we have the tools necessary to achieve optimal nutrition.

One of the best tools out there these days are premade meal delivery services. My favorite is Magickitchen.com. They have a large variety of meals for all types of nutritional needs. It doesn’t matter if you are focusing on just eating healthier or if you need special meals for medical purposes such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or renal dietary needs. They do all the cooking for you. The main tools you will need are an oven and microwave.

What is on your plate these days? The USDA has a great look at the history of what they have suggested to fill your plate since 1916 ( https://www.choosemyplate.gov/brief-history-usda-food-guides).

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This Valentine’s Day, Start Taking Care of Your Heart

This Valentine’s Day, Start Taking Care of Your Heart

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…wait, that’s another story…humans believed that the heart was the center of all our emotions.  This had to do with the fact that the heart, more-or- less, is in the center of our bodies and that all roads, or blood vessels, seemed to lead there.

Since many considered love to be the strongest emotion of them all (come on, who among us hasn’t done something stupid due to love?), the heart began to be written about as the seat of love…see: ”I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.” – Beatrice to Benedict in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for just one example.

Since then, we’ve become more enlightened as to the true function of the heart, perhaps as a result of the Enlightenment…perhaps not.  It serves one vitally important purpose and one purpose only, to pump oxygenated blood to all our muscles and organs and it does this by beating an incredible 115,000 times every day!  Since your heart health is a matter of life or death, perhaps we should take better care of it and here are five tips to do just that.

  1. Quit or don’t start smoking. The chemicals found in commercial tobacco products damage your heart and blood vessels by causing a narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up.  This restricts the flow of that oxygenated blood to all those muscles and organs.  Smoking also causes carbon monoxide to force out some of the oxygen in your blood.  Both effects increase your blood pressure and cause your heart to work harder to  deliver the necessary amount of oxygen to your body.
  1. Get moving. No surprise here, regular aerobic exercise (defined as at least 30 minutes most days of the week) is good for your heart and helps control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight.  I seem to remember some physics law from high school that said something about bodies at rest tend to stay at rest…yada, yada, yada.  So just apply that rule to your body as well.  It’s tough to get that sedentary body of yours (mine too) up and moving, but once you do, it’s easy to keep it moving for at least 30 minutes…I think that rule has a second part about bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.  I’ll Google it later.
  1. Maintain a heart healthy diet. No surprise here either…fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fiber, lean meats and fish, these are some of your heart’s favorite things.  Salt, sugar (especially processed), trans and saturated fats, these are NOT some of your heart’s favorite things.  One way to avoid these things is to read food labels on a regular basis and learn the recommended daily allowances.  For example, vegetable juice, what most consider to be a healthy drink, can have up to 700 milligrams of salt per 8 ounces.  The FDA recommends we consume no more than 2,300 mgs of salt per day.  Read those labels!
  1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Those who do not have higher risks of obesity, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.  I can remember when my kids were cute little babies and not the crazed tweens they are now, my wife and I made sleep a priority in their lives (model parents, right?  Probably not).  Come hell or high water, they went to sleep at the same time every night.  No late night, drunken parties for them, ever.  If you’re not getting that 7-9 hours every night, you might want to reconsider your priorities.  Just sayin’…a phrase my adorable tweeners keep repeating.
  1. Stay or get social. Ok, this one is a bit of a surprise.  Numerous studies have linked loneliness to depression and physical health problems.  One Swedish study conducted by Ikea (I jest, of course) followed 17,000 people and found that the ones with the fewest number of social contacts had a 50% higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  So what’s going on here?  Medical and psychological professionals believe that friends and family serve as stress relievers, which helps control your blood pressure, which is good for your heart as well.

Interested in reading more?  Here’s MagicKitchen.com’s link to other articles that deal with maintaining good heart health: http://www.magickitchen.com/news/heart.html

 

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February is American Heart Month

It was 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson established the month of February as the official American Heart Month. Medicine has come a long way since that decision was made. Doctors were making the connection between heart disease and contributing factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, and not living an active lifestyle.

These days, medical professionals recommend exercise, a healthy diet, and medication to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are still too many people suffering from heart disease. The traditions to raise awareness remain firmly in place. Although it’s been 53 years since LBJ initiated the American Heart Month, some individuals aren’t aware of how to support the cause. The following list provides excellent ways to show support for heart health.

  • Wear Red – The National Wear Red Day® for 2017 is Friday, February 3rd. This day is dedicated to raising awareness for heart health in women. An astounding 1 out of 3 deaths in women are a result of stroke or heart disease. Wearing red on February 3rd will signify your support for the women with heart disease and stroke.
  • Donate, Donate, Donate – One of the best ways to contribute to the fight for a healthy heart is by donating. There isn’t just one place to help fund the cause. There are actually several. National Wear Red Day® has a site set up to “funraise”.

    The American Heart Association® provides two ways to give and three different types of gifts. You can make a donation on the Donate Heart Getting the kids involved is also a great way. Jump Rope for Heart is actually sponsored by the American Heart Association®. Encourage your child’s school to take part. Information on how to be a heart hero is located on the Jump Rope for Heart site.

  • Education – Learning all you can about heart health should be a priority. Starting with your diet is ideal. Look for healthy recipes and meal plans. Magickitchen.com provides low fat and low sodium meals that are not only heart healthy, but delicious as well. Discover the signs and symptoms of heart disease and how to reduce the risks. Ask your doctor for more information or visit the American Heart Association®.
  • Take Action – Taking action in your life to prevent stroke and heart disease is one of the best gifts to give yourself and loved ones this February. Work with a nutritionist for ways to improve your eating habits. Implement an exercise program to get that heart pumping.

    Giving blood also improves your heart health, which isn’t a well-known fact. When you donate blood, you reduce the excess iron in your blood and it promotes healthy blood flow. The American Red Cross is in need of blood. Now is a great time to help not only the recipient of your blood, but also your heart.

  • Spread the Word – Since you’ve decided to be an advocate of healthy hearts, how should you spread the word? Talk to your friends and family. Get them in on the fun. Use your social media accounts. Tweet about it and use the #AmericanHeartMonth hashtag. Send ecards to your friends and family that promote the cause and have fun with it! Visit You’re the Cure for more ways to take action for healthy hearts.

Too many lives have been taken due to stroke and heart disease. Our medical community is taking long strides all the time to work towards prevention and awareness for healthier hearts. February is upon us and is the designated as the American Heart Month. How do you plan to participate and take part this month?

 

 

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