4 Better Ways Than Boiling to Prepare Broccoli

“Eat your broccoli.” If that’s a dinner-table mantra that still haunts you from your childhood, you’re not alone.

If you have an aversion to broccoli, maybe it stems from how it was cooked when you were a kid. You know, boiled in water until it’s ultra-soft and mushy. Gross, right?

Better not boil the broccoli

In a recent study, researchers found that broccoli loses up to 77 percent of its nutritional value when it’s boiled for 30 minutes or longer.1 (Note: boiling Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and green cabbage produces similar results.)

And that’s a problem, because broccoli packs the most nutritional punch of any vegetable.

Health benefits of broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with nutrients like:

    1. Vitamin C
    2. Vitamin A
    3. Folic acid
    4. Calcium
    5. Fiber

It’s one of those nutrient-dense vegetables that can help strengthen your bones, prevent cancer, and reduce your risk for heart disease.

But that all depends on the way you prepare it.

The best ways to eat broccoli to preserve most of its nutrients include:2

    1. Raw: Munch and crunch raw broccoli from a veggie tray or in a salad.
    2. Steamed: Steam broccoli for up to 15 minutes to soften.
    3. Stir-fried: Add broccoli to a stir-fry mix of other vegetables. Cook for about five minutes.
    4. Microwaved: Cover and cook in the microwave for about five minutes.

Use one of these cooking methods to give broccoli a try. Season with herbs and spices, or even a little salt, and enjoy.

References

1. Thornalley, P. Boiling broccoli ruins its anti-cancer properties. University of Warwick. From: https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/research_says_boiling/

2. Wu, X., et al. (2019). Effects of domestic cooking on flavonoids in broccoli and calculation of retention factors. Heliyon, 5(3): e01310. From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844019305687

Brain Drain: This Is What Happens When You Eat Junk Food

Eating foods high in fat & sugar rewires the brain

Got a craving for junk food? You know…chocolate, sweet treats, potato chips, salty French fries.

This ever happen? You munch your way through some snacks, and now you want more. And every time you see Salty and Sweet at the store, buffet, or dinner table, you practically start salivating.

You’re not alone. The average adult in the U.S. annually consumes an average of:

    • 12 pounds of chocolate
    • 30 pounds of French fries
    • 16 full-size bags of potato chips
    • 39 gallons of sugary drinks

Your brain & the ‘delicious’ pudding test

Here’s the thing. Eating foods high in fat and sugar, even in small amounts, can rewire your brain…fast, according to a recent study.1

    • In the study, people ate pudding high in fat and sugar for eight weeks, and researchers measured brain activity.
    • They found that eating the “delicious” pudding altered areas of the brain responsible for motivation and reward.

“Our measurements of brain activity showed that the brain……subconsciously learns to prefer rewarding food,” says lead researcher Dr. Marc Tittgemeyer.

“Through these changes in the brain, we will unconsciously always prefer the foods that contain a lot of fat and sugar.”

Eating junk food may also increase your risk for:2

    • Obesity
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Poor sleep
    • Fatigue
    • High blood pressure
    • Stroke
    • Poor digestion

Before you munch your way through more junk food, try something different.

Think you’re hungry? Drink a glass of water. Eat a healthy snack. Go for a walk. Distract yourself with an activity other than eating for a few minutes. Then decide if you’re hungry.

Sources

1. Thanarajah, S.E., et al. (2023). Habitual daily intake of a sweet and fatty snack modulates reward processing in humans. Cell Metabolism, 36(4): 571-584.E6. From: https://tinyurl.com/5n75kpcc

2. Jia, S.S., et al. (2022). The impacts of junk food on health. Frontiers for Young Minds, 10:694523. From: https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2022.694523

4 Ways Fiber-Rich Foods Improve Your Health

Eat more fiber. You’ve probably heard the advice before. But why eat more fiber? Fiber is good for your health for a variety of different reasons. And most adults don’t eat enough of it.

    • Women should eat 25 grams of fiber per day.1
    • Men should eat 38 grams of fiber per day.

In fact, most adults only eat about 15 grams of fiber per day. And that’s a problem. If you don’t eat enough fiber, it can have a negative impact on your heart health, digestion, blood sugar levels, weight and longevity.

Here are four ways fiber-rich foods improve your health:

1. Support heart health

Eating foods high in fiber can help improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and aid in weight management. These are important factors that help prevent heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Research shows following a high-fiber diet may cut your risk for heart disease by 40 percent.2

2. Improve digestion

A diet rich in fiber improves bowel health. Fiber helps prevent constipation. If you’re constipated, it’s often caused by not eating enough fiber, not drinking enough water, and lack of exercise.

3. Prevent or control diabetes

About 37 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. Another 96 million people have pre-diabetes.3

However, it’s largely preventable with diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits. This includes eating foods high in fiber.

Research shows eating a fiber-rich diet can help control blood sugar levels, and prevent diabetes.4

Even if you already have diabetes, fiber helps slow digestion and regulate blood sugar levels. Sugary snacks, drinks, processed foods, and even too much red meat can raise your risk for diabetes.

4. Help you live longer

Want to live longer and be healthier? Eat more fiber-rich foods.

Aiming for a high-fiber diet could lower your risk for early death from heart disease and other chronic conditions, according to the American Heart Association.

One study found that eating fiber cut the risk of diabetes by 20 percent. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States.5

Eat more fiber-rich foods

Now you know a little more about the health benefits of eating more fiber. Aim for 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day.

Foods high in fiber include:

    • Fruits (raspberries, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries)
    • Vegetables (carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower)
    • Whole grains (cereal, bread, oats, whole grain pasta)
    • Legumes. They’re highest in fiber of all foods (beans, lentils, peas)
    • Nuts and seeds (flax meal, sunflower seeds, squash/pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, etc.)

Want to feel better, be healthier and live longer? Eat more fiber.

Sources:

1. Larson, H. (2019). Easy ways to boost fiber in your daily diet. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. From: https://www.eatright.org/health/essential-nutrients/carbohydrates/easy-ways-to-boost-fiber-in-your-daily-diet

2. Harvard University. (2020). Fiber. The Nutrition Source. From: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/

3. American Diabetes Association. (2023). Diabetes statistics: Examine the facts. From: https://diabetes.org/about-us/statistics

4. Zhao, L., et al. (2018). Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes. Science, 359(6380): 1151-1156. From: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aao5774

5. Satjia, A., et al. (2016). Plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes in U.S. men and women: Results from three prospective cohort studies. PLOS Medicine. From: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002039

5 Sweet Health Benefits of Eating Fruit

Fresh fruit composition on a white background, healthy eating concept

Are you eating enough fruit? Probably not. Only 12 percent of adults eat the minimum amount of fruit, according to a recent study.1

So how much fruit should you be eating?

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day.

Take a look at what you typically eat in a day to find out if you’re getting enough fruit in your diet.

If fruit is already a regular part of your diet, keep up the good work. If you’re short on fruit, add your favorite fruits to meals and snacks.

Snack on these fruity health benefits

Fruits are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Most fruits are also naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium and are cholesterol-free. They’re also a good source of water and fiber (unlike most junk foods).

Hungry for better health?

Check out these 5 sweet and healthy reasons to eat more fruit:

1. Live longer

If you want to live a long and healthy life, eat more fruits and vegetables. In a recent study by the American Heart Association, researchers found that eating at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables per day may help you live longer.2

Eating this way also lowered the risk for heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and lung-related diseases.

2. Control blood pressure

Did you know about 50 percent of all adults have high blood pressure? It’s a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Research shows eating fruits like apples and berries can help control blood pressure.3

3. Improve cholesterol

How’s your cholesterol level? Without a blood test, you probably don’t know. But when LDL (bad) cholesterol is high, it’s a risk factor for blocked arteries and other health problems.

The good news…research shows eating fruits like apples, pears, oranges, and other citrus fruits can help control cholesterol.4

4. Lower heart disease risk

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About 659,000 people a year die from heart disease in the U.S. But it’s largely preventable.

Research shows, meeting the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk for heart disease by about 28 percent.5

5. Aid in weight management

About 74 percent of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise are the prime reasons for this problem.

Eating more fruit can help support weight loss and prevent weight gain.6

Just don’t overdo it. Some dried fruits contain as many calories as a candy bar (250 calories), and one banana contains about 100 calories.

How to boost your daily dose of fruits and vegetables

If you’re in the habit of eating 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day, keep it up. If you’re not, here are some ways to boost your daily dose of fruit:

Breakfast

    • Top off a bowl of whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with peaches or berries.
    • Make a fruit smoothie with low-fat yogurt, and frozen strawberries and blueberries.
    • Instead of skipping breakfast, grab an apple or banana before you head out the door.

Lunch

    • If you go out for lunch, make a trip through the salad bar for fresh fruit like pineapple, watermelon, or pears.
      Pack your own lunch and include an orange, grapes, or apple slices.

Dinner

    • Make a salad with orange slices, dried cranberries, or grapes.
    • Try a Waldorf salad recipe with apples, celery, walnuts, and a low-calorie dressing.
    • Add crushed pineapple to coleslaw.

Snacks

    • Buy fresh fruit at a grocery store or local farmer’s market.
    • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
    • Try peanut butter on apple slices or a serving of applesauce.

Sources

1. Lee, S.H., et al. (2022). Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 71(1): 1-9. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7101a1.htm

2. Wang, D., et al. (2021). Fruit and vegetable intake and mortality. Circulation, 143:17. From: From: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.048996

3. Ottaviani, J., et al. (2020). Biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake is associated with lower blood pressure in cross-sectional analysis in EPIC Norfolk. Scientific Reports, 10:19764. From: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74863-7

4. Aune, D., et al. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(3): 1029-1056. From: https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/46/3/1029/3039477

5. Harvard University. (2017). Fruits and vegetables for heart health: More is better. Harvard Health Publishing. From:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/fruits-and-vegetables-for-heart-health-more-is-better

6. Dreher, M., et al. (2020). A comprehensive critical assessment of increased fruit and vegetable intake on weight loss in women. Nutrients, 12(7): 1919. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7399879/

Food is Medicine: 10 Surprising Reasons to Eat Healthy Foods

Healthy-food-in-heart-stethoscope

You’re not feeling well, so make a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor asks you some questions, completes an exam, and maybe orders a test. And then your doctor writes you the following prescription: Eat healthy food.

That’s it. No medication, no course of antibiotics, nothing but healthy foods. That might seem a little crazy, but there’s a growing movement for “Food is Medicine” to treat and prevent a long list of health conditions.1

Want to improve your health, prevent disease and live longer?

Here are 10 surprising reasons to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and other whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods:

1. Manage your weight

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably struggled with your weight at some point in your life. But did you know that simply eating more fruits and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight? Studies show that people who eat more fruits and veggies tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who don’t.2

2. Reduce risk for chronic disease

Eating a healthy diet can also reduce your risk of chronic diseases like: heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is because a balanced diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants helps your body fight off inflammation and oxidative stress, which are major contributors to these diseases.3

3. Improve gut health

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that play a crucial role in your overall health. By eating a diet rich in fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics, you can feed the good bacteria in your gut and keep them happy and healthy.4

4. Keep your brain healthy

Want to keep your brain healthy as you age? Research shows that eating certain foods, like fatty fish and leafy greens, can improve cognitive function and even reduce your risk of dementia.5

5. Reduce inflammation

Healthy eating can also help reduce inflammation in your body, which is a major contributor to many chronic diseases. Certain foods, like berries and leafy greens, are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds that can help keep your body healthy.6

6. Boost your mood

If you’re feeling down, eating a healthy diet can also improve your mood. Studies have shown that certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.7

7. Strengthen your immune system

Eating a balanced diet can also boost your immune system, helping you fight off infections and stay healthy. Foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and bell peppers, are especially good for immune function.8

8. Improve sleep quality

If you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy diet can help with that, too! Certain foods, like tart cherries and kiwis, contain compounds that can help regulate your sleep cycle and improve the quality of your sleep.9

9. Support healthy skin

Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other fresh, whole and unprocessed foods can also improve your skin health. If you’re looking for a “magic pill” to make you feel better, look no further than your plate, and add more fruits and vegetables.10

Eating a healthy diet can have all kinds of amazing benefits for your body and mind.

10. Help you live longer

If you want to live a long and healthy life, research suggests that eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, may extend your life by up to 10 years.11

That’s 10 easy-to-digest reasons that Food is Medicine. If you want to improve your health, feel better, lower your risk for disease, and live longer, take a closer look at what you eat.

Sources:

1. Graber, E. (2022). Food as Medicine. American Society for Nutrition. From: https://nutrition.org/food-as-medicine

2. Yu, Z.M., et al. (2018). Fruit and vegetable intake and body adiposity among populations in Eastern Canada: the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health Study. BMJ Open, 8(4): e018060. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898328/

3. Schulze, M., et al. (2018). Food based dietary patterns and chronic disease prevention. British Medical Journal, 361:k2396. From: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2396

4. Song, M., et al. (2017). Diet, gut microbiota, and colorectal cancer prevention: A review of potential mechanisms and promising targets for future research. Current Colorectal Cancer Reports, 13(6): 429-439. From: https://europepmc.org/article/med/29333111

5. Canevelli, M., et al. (2016). Nutrition and dementia: Evident for preventive approaches? Nutrients, 8(3): 144. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808873/

6. Zhu, F., et al. (2017). Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes: A review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 58(8): 1260-1270. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28605204/

7. Taylor, A., et al. (2018). A review of dietary and microbial connections to depression, anxiety, and stress. Nutritional Neuroscience, 23(3): 237-250. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29985786/

8. Muntenanu, C., et al. (2022). The relationship between nutrition and the immune system. Frontiers in Nutrition. From: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1082500/full

9. Burrows, T., et al. (2020). Diet and sleep health: a scoping review of intervention studies in adults. Journal of HumFood is Medicinean Nutrition and Dietetics, 33(3): 308-329. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31985886/

10. Cao, C., et al. (2020). Diet and skin aging: From the perspective of food nutrition. Nutrients, 12(3): 870. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/

11. Fadnes, L, et al. (2022). Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study. PLOS Medicine, 19(3): e1003962. From: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003889

Hustle for Health: 5 Popular Ways to Be Active

Time to be active

Aim for 30+ minutes of exercise per day

Looking for some ideas to help you move more, sit less, and be more active this year? “Now” is always the best time to start.

You don’t have to run a marathon or climb a mountain. But at least 30 minutes of exercise per day will:

    • Improve heart health
    • Strengthen bones and muscles
    • Support weight management
    • Lower chronic disease risk
    • Improve quality of life

If you’re not sure where to start, pick one of these activities. Five popular ways to be active in 2023 include:1

1. Use Wearable Tech.

Use a smart watch, fitness tracker or mobile app to get healthy. Track steps, heart rate, calories, workouts, and sleep time. And set goals to keep improving.

2. Lift Weights.

Hit the gym, work with a trainer, or use a home gym if you have one. Start with lighter weights. Learn basic lifts like:

    • Bench press
    • Squat
    • Shoulder press
    • Lunge
    • Rows
    • Bicep curls

New to lifting weights? Start with 10 reps per exercise, and do 2 or 3 sets per exercise. Increase the weight as you get stronger.

3. Do Body Weight Exercises.

You know…

    • Push-ups
    • Jumping Jacks
    • Curl-Ups
    • Planks
    • Squats
    • Lunges

You can do body weight exercises anytime, anywhere, even during commercials. So, about those excuses?

4. Practice Functional Fitness.

What is this? It’s any form of exercise that builds strength, balance and coordination to help you handle everyday tasks.

You know….like picking up a baby, carrying groceries, changing a car tire, or working in the yard.

5. Get Outside.

More people started doing this during the pandemic years, and it’s still popular.

    • Get outside.
    • Go for a walk, jog, hike or run.
    • Ride a bike, ski, paddle, or even skateboard.

Pick an activity you enjoy, and make it part of your daily routine. You’ll feel better and be healthier.

Should You Take a Vitamin D Supplement?

Probably. If you spend a lot of time indoors, there’s a good chance you’re low on vitamin D.

Why? A little time in the sun (15 to 20 minutes a day) helps the body make vitamin D.

But most people spend a lot more time inside, at home, at work, or in the car than they used to (especially during the winter months).

Is your vitamin D level low?

About 1 billion people have low vitamin D levels.1 That’s about 13 percent of the world’s population. In the United States an estimated 42% of the population is vitamin-D deficient.

A blood test is the only way to tell if your vitamin D levels are low. But if you are vitamin-D deficient, symptoms can include:2

    • Muscle pain and weakness
    • Poor bone health
    • Tingling sensation in hands or feet
    • Difficulty walking

Vitamin D health claims

Can getting enough vitamin D improve your health?

Yes. But probably not as much as marketers want you to think. Vitamin D sales generate an estimated $1.1 billion a year.3

In the last five years, more than 20,000 scientific articles were published on vitamin D.
However, this new research suggests vitamin D may not be as good at preventing disease as we once thought.4

“Just because low D levels and disease seem to be correlated, doesn’t mean that vitamin D deficiency is the cause,” says lifestyle medicine expert Dr. Michael Greger. “In only a handful of conditions have interventional studies proven vitamin D to be effective.”

If you are going to take vitamin D…

It may help reduce fatigue and improve bone health. Having enough D in your blood may help you live longer, too.5

But it’s not a cure-all for chronic disease and won’t erase the impacts of poor food and lifestyle choices.

How much vitamin D should you take?

The National Institutes of Health recommends most adults take 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D per day.6 However, some studies suggest 1,000 to 4,000 international units may be needed to maintain vitamin D levels.

You’ll also find vitamin D in mushrooms, eggs, and fortified foods like orange juice, cereal, and cheese. But your best source of vitamin D for better health? Sunshine and a brisk walk.

5 Health Benefits of Eating More Plant-Based Foods

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Load up on leafy greens. Choose whole foods. Follow a plant-based diet.

You’ve heard the advice before. But does eating this way really make a difference? Yes, yes it does.1

Here are FIVE reasons to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes…

1. Support weight management

Fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods are low in calories and high in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Eating more plant-based foods can support weight management and help control hunger.

2. Control blood sugar levels

Plant-based foods with a low Glycemic Index take longer to digest and help control blood sugar levels. Research shows that following a plant-based diet can help treat and prevent type 2 diabtes.2

3. Improve heart health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, yet it’s largely preventable. Poor eating habits over time are a primary cause.

In a Johns Hopkins University study, researchers found that people who ate the most plant-based foods cut their risk of dying from heart disease by 32 percent.3

4. Lower blood pressure

Your blood pressure should be less than 120/80.

But what if it’s not? You have elevated or high blood pressure. It’s the leading risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

One recent study found that eating more plant-based foods lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for heart attack, stroke, and early death.4

5. Prevent cancer

After heart disease, cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States.

But eating more plant-based foods can dramatically lower the risk for cancer and other diseases.

One study found that eating 7.5 fruits and vegetables a day lowered the risk of dying from cancer by 13 percent.5

Hungry for better health?

Eat more plant-based foods. This includes:

    • Fruits and vegetables: Berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, spinach, etc.
    • Whole grains like brown rice, steel-cut oats, and whole-grain bread.
    • Legumes like lentils, black beans, and pinto beans.
    • Nuts. Try unsalted walnuts, almonds, and cashews.
    • Seeds. Try pumpkin, ground flax, and sesame.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian or a vegan. But eating more plant-based foods will improve your health, lower your risk for disease, and help you feel better.

The 10-Digit Formula to Avoid Getting Sick

Everybody knows what happens when someone comes to the office sick. Or when someone comes down with a cold at home.

There’s a chain reaction. Coughing, sneezing, and the Kleenex supply become daily discussion topics.

But doing a better job at washing your digits (all 10 fingers) and your hands can be a great defense against germs, and help you stay well.

It’s why you should lather up during cold and flu season.1

Germs travel fast

Researchers at the University of Arizona wanted to show how fast germs can spread.2

They placed water droplets on the hands of about 80 employees in an office.

But one person actually received drops of a fake virus.

    • How fast did the fake virus spread?

In just four hours, it was on half of the surfaces in the office. And it had spread to half of all employees.

Hand hygiene rules to avoid germs

“Imagine how great it would be if you or your family were never sick again from a respiratory infection,” says National Handwashing Awareness Week founder Dr. Will Sawyer.

It’s possible if you follow a few simple rules:

1. Lather up with soap and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

    • Do this when they’re dirty, and always before eating.

2. Cover your mouth or nose with your elbow, or use a tissue.

    • Do not cough or sneeze into your hands.

3. Do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

    • Follow these hand hygiene rules, and you’ll avoid getting sick from shaking hands or touching germy surfaces.

Watch the CDC Video: How to Wash Your Hands
https://www.cdc.gov/cdctv/healthyliving/hygiene/wash-your-hands.html

The Low-Cost, Low-Impact Fix for Back Pain

If you have lower back pain, you might find it hard to walk, tie your shoes, or even sit for long periods of time.

It’s the most common reason people miss work. About 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain at any given time.

To treat lower back pain, you might:

    • See a chiropractor
    • Take medication
    • Do physical therapy
    • Have surgery

But these aren’t your only options.

A recent study found that practicing yoga regularly can help reduce:

    • Lower back pain
    • Depression and anxiety
    • Overall chronic pain
    • Need for pain medications
    • Difficulty with activities of daily living

If you’ve ever said the words, “Oh my aching back,” you know how much it can hurt.

And if you haven’t, you’re lucky, because about 80 percent of the population will experience a back problem at some point in time.3

If you are among the millions of people living with lower back pain, take a yoga class.

Or learn how to do basics yoga poses like:

    • Downward-Facing Dog
    • Child’s Pose
    • Warrior Pose
    • Tree Pose
    • Cat-Cow Pose
    • Mountain Pose

Over time, you’ll experience the health benefits of yoga, reduce back pain, feel better, and improve your quality of life.

Track Your Eating Habits: 5 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Improve Your Diet

improve your diet typography

Eat this, not that. Have more fruits and veggies. Drink more water.

You’ve heard the advice before. But are you doing it?

If you’re not, keeping track of what you eat can help.

In a recent Duke University study:

  • Researchers followed a group of 105 overweight people for 6 months.
  • One group measured their weight every day.
  • Another group tracked everything they ate. And a third group tracked both.

The results: On average, everyone lost weight. But the group that tracked their weight AND food choices lost the most weight (about 7 pounds), and kept it off.

“We have very strong evidence that consistent tracking — particularly of diet, but also one’s weight — is an essential element of successful weight loss,” says lead researcher Dr. Gery Bennett.

Food Tracking Habits: 5 Tips for Success

So how do you keep track of what you eat?

Choose a format that works for you. Research shows mobile apps work well for most people.2 But a paper journal or notebook works, too.

Here are five tips to help you track your food choices to improve your diet.

1. Track everything: No restrictions

  • Keep track of all the food you eat and drink for meals and snacks.
  • Include time and date with each entry to help you identify specific eating patterns.
  • Be honest. Dessert, alcohol, second or third servings all count.

2. Know your daily-calorie data

Apps make this easy and track calories for you. Everyone’s calories needs are different. Men usually need more calories than women. And everyone needs fewer calories as they age. Keep track of how many calories you’re eating per day.

3. Pay attention to what you’re eating

  • Read food labels to find out. Food labels include things like: ingredients, serving size, calories per serving, sodium, sugar, protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Before you buy or eat something, just ask yourself: Is this a healthy choice?
  • Restaurant calories. Check the menu before you order. A typical fast-food meal (burger, fries, and soda) contains 1,000-plus calories. Chain restaurants are required to publish nutrition data about their menu. Smaller restaurants don’t have to.

4. Evaluate your eating habits

Once you’ve kept at least a week of entries about your eating habits, take a closer look at what you’ve been doing. This helps you see what you’re doing well, and where you can improve.

  • Total your daily calories, and make some changes if you need to.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Most of your food should come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes. If you eat meat or dairy, go with fish, skinless poultry, and non-fat options. What you drink counts, too.
  • Share your results with someone you trust. Or review your food choices with your doctor or nutritionist. It’s a smart way to help you be more accountable.

5. Set a goal

Keep a food journal for at least a week. Track everything. Then set a goal to improve, lose weight or eat healthier.

8 Simple Ways to Eat Less Sodium

Imagine filling a teaspoon with salt and eating it. Your tongue and your brain would deliver an instant message: “Yuck! Too salty!”

And you would reach for the nearest glass of water to wash out your mouth.

Sounds gross to eat that much salt at once, right?

The truth…most people eat nearly twice that amount of salt every day.1

  • That’s more than double the amount of sodium than recommended (less than 1,500 mg per day) to keep the heart healthy.
  • A typical fast-food meal like a burger and fries contains 1,400+ mg of sodium.
  • Many microwave meals and canned soups contain more than 1,000 mg in a single serving.
  • Packaged and processed snacks, sauces, dressings, meats, soups and chips are also high in sodium.

The trouble with high-sodium habits

New research by the European Society of Cardiology suggests that a high-sodium diet doubles the risk for heart failure.2

Too much sodium also raises the risk for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor bone health
  • Weight gain

8 sodium habits for better health

Fortunately, a few simple changes can help you cut back on the amount of sodium you consume. Here are some things you can do:

1. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies.
2. Buy low-sodium foods and soups.
3. Read food labels and track your sodium intake.
4. Drink water instead of soft drinks.
5. Use low-sodium salad dressings made with extra-virgin olive oil or vinegar.
6. Cut back on eating fast food and packaged meals.
7. Cook at home more often. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to season food.
8. Go easy on the salt shaker.

The American Heart Association recommends:

  • No more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day
  • 1,500 mg of sodium per day for most adults

Want to improve your heart health? Use these tips to shake the salt habit.

References
1. American Heart Association. (2021). How much sodium should I eat per day? From: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day
2. Jousilahti, P., et al. (2017). Salt intake and the risk of heart failure. European Society of Cardiology. From: https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/high-salt-intake-associated-with-doubled-risk-of-heart-failure