Gut Health: 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

Concept of gastroenterology

Gurgle, gurgle, burp, and a trip to the bathroom. If that’s your normal pattern throughout the day, your stomach is trying to send you a message.

Translation: “Something’s not right. I’m having a hard time digesting the food you just ate.”

About 70 million people suffer from digestive problems in the U.S. And these problems show up in the form of:1

  • Stomach aches
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn, and other symptoms

In some cases, chronic digestive problems can be a sign of serious health problems, and you should see a doctor. But for a lot of people, digestive discomfort is a result of poor food choices and lifestyle habits.

Ever had one of those I-shouldn’t-have-eaten-that moments?

If it’s bad enough, you might steer clear of that food for a while. But if you really want better digestive health, give your gut some love.

Here are five ways to improve digestion.

1. Eat healthy foods

This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These nutrient-dense foods support gut health and digestion.

Fermented foods with probiotics like sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kimchi may also improve digestion.

In case you’re wondering, burgers, fries, soda, and pizza have the opposite effect.2

2. Drink more water

Aim for at least 64 ounces of water a day.
Water helps your body digest food, absorb nutrients, and make bowel movements easier.

3. Reduce stress

There’s a direct link between your gut and your brain. When you’re stressed out, your stomach can be, too.3
Find healthy ways to handle stress like taking a walk, meditation, or deep breathing.

4. Avoid red meat

Better digestion isn’t the only reason to avoid red meat. It’s been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Research shows red meat can also damage the large intestines.4

5. Be more active

About 80 percent of all adults don’t get enough exercise (at least 30 minutes a day).4

It’s a risk factor for obesity and a long list of health problems, including poor digestion. Being active helps improve gut bacteria used to digest food.

Want to improve your gut health?

Make small changes to your diet and lifestyle habits. You’ll feel better, and your stomach will be happier.

References

1. National Institutes of Health. (2017). Keeping your gut in check. From: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/05/keeping-your-gut-check
2. Jardine, M. (2022). Gut bacteria. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. From: https://www.pcrm.org/health-topics/gut-bacteria
3. Madison, A., et al. (2019). From: Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human–bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 28: 105-110. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7213601/
4. Cao, Y., et al. (2018). Meat intake and risk of diverticulitis among men. Gut, 67(3): 466-472. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28069830/
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Exercise or physical activity. From: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm

Hustle to Keep Your Brain Healthy

When actress Nancy Daly started noticing her mother was having trouble remembering things, she thought it might just be old age.

But it wasn’t. She forgot how to drive. She turned favorite recipes made from scratch for years into a mess. She got frustrated getting dressed (her outfit was on backwards). And eventually, she even forgot the most important people in her life.

That’s what Alzheimer’s looks like.

  • It’s a progressive disease that damages memory and brain function.
  • It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • About 6 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, and that may rise to 12.7 million in the next 30 years.

“With Alzheimer’s you lose them twice,” says Daly. “You lose them when they don’t remember you anymore. And you lose them again when they die.”

There is no cure, but Daly hopes to change that. She created the Actors and Artists Unite to End Alzheimer’s foundation to organize walking events to raise money for research.

And that may be just the thing to keep your brain healthy.

  • A recent study found that exercise can improve brain activity, function and memory, and may help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s.

What else can you do to keep your brain healthy?

  • Eat a plant-based diet.
  • Build strong social bonds with others.
  • Keep learning.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
  • And maintain a healthy weight.

References
1. Alzheimer’s Association. (2022). Facts and figures. From: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
2. Choi, S., et al. (2018). Combined adult neurogenesis and BDNF mimic exercise effects on cognition in an Alzheimer’s mouse model. Science, 361(6406):8821. From: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aan8821

6 Creative Ways to Eat More Veggies

Hand drawn fruit and vegetables

Eat more veggies. You’ve heard the advice before. Maybe you even have childhood flashbacks of a dinner-table showdown. Yes?

Chances are pretty good you already know vegetables are good for you, and you should probably eat more. But how do you make it happen without eating handfuls of broccoli and spinach?

If you’re looking for ways to add more vegetables to your diet, you’re headed in the right direction. Why?

Most adults don’t eat enough vegetables. In fact, in a recent study, researchers found that only 10 percent of adults eat the minimum amount of vegetables recommended per day.1

    • Eat this much. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.2

Veggie power: 7 health benefits of vegetables

Did you know vegetables are rich in key nutrients, low in calories, and high in fiber?

Eating vegetables is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Research shows that eating more vegetables can help:3

    • Lower blood pressure
    • Support weight management
    • Improve digestion
    • Control blood sugar levels + prevent/manage diabetes
    • Reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke
    • Help prevent certain types of cancer
    • Control appetite

6 creative ways to eat more veggies

If you haven’t been eating enough vegetables, you’re not alone. Only 1 in 10 adults eat enough fruits and vegetables. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some creative ways to add more vegetables to your diet:

    • The Smooth Move. Make a smoothie with vegetables and fruit. With just a few ingredients, you can use a high-powered blender to make a healthy smoothie. Try smoothie recipes with fruit and vegetables like carrots, spinach, cucumber, kale, or cauliflower.
    • The Dip Delight. Try fresh vegetables served with a light salad dressing or fat-free dip. Stack a plate with raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and snap peas, and enjoy these vegetables at snack time or while you’re preparing a meal. They are much better for you than snacking on junk food or sweet treats.
    • The Soup Secret. Add vegetables to your favorite low-sodium soup. If you’re making your own vegetable soup, it’s probably in good shape. But canned soups could benefit from more fresh veggies. Add some freshly chopped carrots, leeks, or green beans. Frozen vegetables work nicely too.
    • The Hiding Place. Spaghetti sauce is the perfect “hiding place” for vegetables. Chop up zucchini, onions, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms, and add them to your pasta sauce. Puree the sauce if you have to. The smaller you chop them, the less likely you’ll even notice they’ve been added to the sauce!
    • That’s a Wrap. Burritos and quesadillas are even tastier with added vegetables. Cook some eggs. Toss in tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, red onion, and asparagus. Then wrap it up in a tortilla. Or go sans tortilla and make an omelet pack with veggies.
    • The Griller. Grill vegetables to serve with your meal. Brush your favorite vegetables with olive oil, light Italian dressing, or your own marinade, and cook them on the grill. Try portobello mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cauliflower, or asparagus spears. Or use skewers to create veggie kabobs.

Hungry to get healthier? Eat more vegetables.

Use the Granny Method to Fight Obesity

fitness concept 3d render

Florida resident Edith Murway-Traina likes to spend time in the gym.

She might not be as agile as she was when she was a dancer. But at 100 years old, she’s still active and strong.

In fact, she holds a Guinness World Record for deadlifting 163 pounds and bench pressing 63 pounds.

Strength training for weight loss

If you need to lose weight, you might think you need to ramp up running, jogging or walking to tip the scale in the right direction.

But what if you have aches and pains or weaknesses that make that type of exercise hard?

You know…things like knee pain, back pain, poor balance, or lack of strength.

No cardio. No problem.

There’s another way…The Granny Method. If Edith can lift weights at 100 years old, so can you.

In one recent study, researchers found that strength training can be an effective way to:

    • Lose weight
    • Build muscle
    • Increase strength
    • Lower body fat percentage
    • Improve balance
    • Improve overall health

“We can use resistance training and achieve meaningful effects with a diet based on caloric reduction,” says lead researcher Pedro Lopez. “We can reduce body fat percentage, whole-body fat mass, body weight and BMI.”

Strength training guidelines for adults

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults strength train at least two days a week.

Strength training: Here are some easy ways to get started:

    • Take a strength training class
    • Work with a personal trainer
    • Lift weights at the gym
    • Choose an online workout video and follow along at home, or…
    • Do bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and crunches

Want to lose weight and keep it off, or maintain a healthy weight?

Make time for strength training. You’ll get stronger, feel better, and lower your risk for obesity and other chronic diseases.

9 Health Benefits of an Optimistic Outlook

Conceptual positive thinking, happy strong

Can positive thinking improve your health?

You can’t cure cancer, lose weight, or lower your cholesterol just by thinking about it.

So skip the slick infomercials, supplement aisle, and social media ads for miracle cures and magical weight-loss products.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s take a closer look at the power of positive thinking and your health. Because it’s not all just in your head or woo-woo science.

Positive or negative: A crash-and-burn lesson about the way you think

Olympic skier Jackie Wiles topped 80 miles per hour on a downhill course in a World Cup Race. She hit turn after turn perfectly using her skis, poles, and body.

A week later, she was racing against the best downhill skiers in the world. And then something happened.

At the peak of her career as a world-class athlete, Wiles lost her balance. She spun out of control and veered off course.

When race officials reached her on the snow-covered slope, she couldn’t walk. The impact tore ligaments, broke two bones in her leg, and caused other injuries.

Even before surgery, Wiles knew she had a choice. Give up, quit skiing, and do something else. Or focus on getting better and stronger to ski like a pro again.

What would you do? Dwell on the negative or focus on the positive?

9 Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

After the ski slope crash, Jackie was taken away on a stretcher. She needed surgery to repair torn ligaments, broken bones, and damage to her knee. Then came physical therapy. Every step of the way to recovery, she’s focusing on the positive.

“Scars tell stories and show what I’ve been through and the strength from within,” says Jackie. “I’m going to come out stronger from this.”

And she did. She recently competed in the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Women’s Alpine Skiing Downhill event.

It’s good to focus on the positive or look on the bright side, even when things go wrong. It can improve your health and quality of life in many ways. Research shows that cultivating an optimistic outlook can help:

    1. Lower the risk for heart disease
    2. Improve longevity and quality of life
    3. Bounce back from negative events faster
    4. Improve well-being and quality of life
    5. Support and protect the immune system
    6. Reduce blood pressure
    7. Support healthy relationships
    8. Protect brain function and memory as you age
    9. Reduce worry, stress, anxiety, and depression

The Optimistic Outlook: 8 Ways to Think Positive

Are you already an optimistic person? Keep up the good work. But what if you tend to focus on the negative, or catch yourself thinking the worst? Practice positive thinking.

Here are 8 ways to develop a positive mindset:

1. Start your day with positive thoughts. When you wake up, do you start worrying about everything on your to-do list and what could go wrong? Stop. Start your day with a positive thought like: “Today is going to be a great day.”

2. Be grateful. It’s another way of saying, “look for the positive.” For example, when you’re stuck in traffic, be grateful for extra time to listen to your favorite song or podcast.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes each day to write down a few things you’re grateful for. Even little things matter, like clean air, a beautiful sunset, or all green lights on your way to work.

4. Laugh more. It’s a great way to boost your mood, feel happier, and be more positive. Read or listen to funny jokes. Watch a comedy. And look for humor, even in difficult situations. When you laugh, endorphins are released in the brain that help improve your mood.

5. Make time for exercise. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Break it up into smaller chunks of time if that fits your schedule better. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Hit the gym. Take a fitness class. You’ll feel better, think better, and be more positive.

6. Learn from failure. When something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong. Change the way you think about failure. Turn it into a learning opportunity. Inventor Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.”

7. Stop, think, choose. Pay attention to what you say and think. When you catch yourself making a negative statement or comment, Stop. Think about what you’re saying. And Choose to reframe it with a positive statement.

Here’s an example:

    • Stop: I’ll never be able to eat a healthy diet.
    • Think: That’s not true. I just ate a cookie, but I eat healthy foods, too.
    • Choose: I’m working on eating a healthier diet. I’ll make better choices next time.

8. Surround yourself with positive people. You may not be able to avoid Debbie Downer or Bob Bummer if they’re your co-workers or part of your family. But you can surround yourself with positive people. Being around people with a positive outlook will help you learn to think this way, and avoid dwelling on the negative.

Positive thinking won’t solve all your problems or turn your life into a magical fairy tale. But it can improve your physical and mental health, help you live longer, and feel happier.

Did You Get the Message? Texting While Driving is Dangerous

Using mobile phone while driving

Texas resident Chance Bothe knew texting while driving was dangerous. But he still did it driving to work, college classes, or on the way home. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

And then it happened. He sent a text to a friend…

Moments later his truck went off a bridge and crashed into a ravine.
Just before his truck burst into flames, he was pulled from the wreckage.
But he broke his neck, fractured his skull, and sustained serious brain injuries.

Put down the phone & drive

If you’ve ever sent a text while driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants you to know it’s just as dangerous as driving blind.1

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

In five seconds or less, your car can travel the length of a football field at highway speeds. And if you’re not looking at the road, you could be in trouble. Just ask Bothe.

Every year, an estimated 3,100 people are killed, and nearly 400,000 injured because of distracted driving activities like texting.2 But this is largely preventable.2

3 ways to STOP texting while driving

1. Pull over. Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe place first.

2. Choose a designated texter. If you’re driving with someone else, have a passenger send text messages for you.

3. Eliminate the habit. Feel the need to click, swipe, tap and type while driving? Put your phone in a place that’s out of reach (like the trunk).

Note: Some newer cars will even disable your phone when driving. And that’s a good thing.

References

1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2022). April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. From: https://www.nhtsa.gov/es/distracted-driving/april-distracted-driving-awareness-month

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022. Distracted driving. From: https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/distracted_driving/index.html#prevent

No Magic Pill for Weight Loss: 6 Lifestyle Habits for Long-term Success

weight loss program

Can diet supplements help you lose weight?

The simple answer: Probably not. There’s no magic pill, weight loss supplement or potion that can make excess pounds melt away.

If losing weight is on your list of health and fitness goals, you’re not alone. An estimated 73 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.1

The Truth About Weight Loss Supplements

If you’re looking for a quick fix to lose weight, you might think taking a diet pill or supplement is all you need. A lot of people do.

  • In the U.S., an estimated 34 percent of adults have tried some type of weight loss supplement.
  • Americans spend about $2.1 billion a year on weight-loss supplements in the form of tablets, capsules, softgels, and drinks.2

Most are made with ingredients that could improve metabolism or suppress appetite like:

  • Green tea extract
  • Chitosan
  • Guar gum
  • Conjugated linoleic acid
  • Caffeine

However, a recent study found that diet and weight-loss supplements typically fail to help people lose weight.3

Researchers looked at 315 weight-loss studies that put different supplements to the test. They found that most did not result in weight loss. And only a few tipped the scale in the right direction by just a few pounds or less.

6 Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Weight Loss

Weight loss does not come in pill or powder form. It’s a lifelong process.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, skip the diet supplements, save your money, and adopt these 6 lifestyle habits:

1. Eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish. Avoid or limit sugary drinks, snacks, desserts, and candy high in calories.

2. Be active. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days.

3. Drink more water instead of soda, juice, energy drinks, or other sugary beverages.

4. Practice portion control by counting calories, keeping a food journal, and being mindful of your food choices.

5. Get your Zzzs. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Why? Lack of sleep alters levels of hormones (ghrelin and leptin) linked to hunger and cravings. And if you stay up late, you’ll have more time for snacking.

6. Don’t give up. If you miss a workout or overeat, it’s not that big of a deal. Don’t use that as an excuse to overeat or skip workouts. Instead, just get back on track and keep going.

If you need extra help to lose weight, talk to your doctor, join a weight-loss group for support, or work with a trainer and dietitian to help you develop a diet and exercise plan to help you get results.

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Obesity and overweight. From: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

2. National Institutes of Health. (2021). Dietary supplements for weight loss. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. From: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/

3. Batsis, J., et al. (2021). A systematic review of dietary supplements and alternative therapies for weight loss. Obesity, 29(7): 1102-1113. From: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.23110

The 20-Minute Trick to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

STOP DIABETES

If you’re stressed, in a hurry, or both, it’s easy to inhale your food. And a lot of people do eat quickly…in the car, on the way out the door, at the office. Or maybe mealtime at home always feels like a mad dash. Sound familiar?

What you eat certainly makes a difference when it comes to your health. But a recent study found that how you eat may also affect the way your body responds to food.1

In the study, researchers found that eating fast may be linked to an increased risk for diabetes. Your mom was right…chew your food.

In the U.S. about 37 million people have type 2 diabetes. And another 96 million people have prediabetes.2 Left unchecked, diabetes can lead to:

  • Poor circulation
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Strokes
  • Heart disease
  • Amputations
  • Early death

Is there anything you can do to prevent diabetes?

There’s some simple things you can do that can prevent or control type 2 diabetes, if you’re consistent:

  • Eat a healthy diet (mainly plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and legumes).
  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to.
  • Get regular exercise (even 20 to 30 minutes of walking makes a difference).
  • Avoid fad diets and junk foods (like soda, sugary sweets, and foods make from refined carbohydrates)

And there’s at least one more thing you can do to help prevent type 2 diabetes…

Slow down at meal time.

Here’s how:

  • Time it. Set a timer or stopwatch for 20 minutes. Use all the time to eat a normal-sized meal.
    Chew your food. Take small bites and chew slowly.
  • Be quiet. Eat silently for the first five minutes. Think about your food, what it looks like, how it tastes, and what it took to produce.
  • Slow down your eating. Try using your nondominant hand to hold your fork. Put your fork down when you chew. Or try using chopsticks

References

1. Gudi, S.K, et al. (2020). Eating speed and the risk of type 2 diabetes: explorations based on real-world evidence. Annals of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism, 25(2): 80-83. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336266/

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). The facts, stats, and impacts of diabetes. From: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/diabetes-facts-stats.html

Get Moving: Exercise is Medicine for Your Mood

Stressed Businessman

Did you know your brain responds to exercise in positive ways that can boost your mood?1

Ever have one of those days where you’re feeling down?

  • You know something isn’t right.
  • You’re sad or anxious.
  • You’re not sleeping well.
  • Maybe you don’t have any energy.
  • Your appetite has changed, or…
  • You’ve lost interest in things you used to enjoy.

A day or two of feeling down doesn’t mean you’re depressed. But if you feel down for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from depression.

An estimated 11.5 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced mild to severe depression in the last two weeks.2

Maybe it’s the daily grind that’s getting to you. Or maybe it’s something bigger like the death of a loved one, job loss, family matters, financial issues, or serious illness. You can even feel depressed for no apparent reason.

Common factors linked to depression include:

  • Genetics
  • Personal problems (relationships, health, money, work)
  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse
  • Stress

If you’re feeling depressed, the two most common forms of treatment include:

  • Counseling. A trained professional can help you change negative thought patterns. Counseling can help you learn skills to train your brain to think differently, too.
  • Medication. About 1 in 8 adults in the United States take antidepressants.3 Antidepressants alter chemicals in your brain to improve your mood and reduce feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Exercise is medicine for your mood

Besides counseling and medication, there’s at least one other way to treat depression and boost your mood: Exercise.

In a recent study, researchers looked at the connection between exercise and depression in 33,908 adults over an 11-year period.4 They found that:

  • No exercise increases the risk for developing depression by 44 percent, compared to people who exercise at least 1 hour per week. Regular exercise can help treat and prevent depression.
  • Just one hour of physical activity a week (less than 10 minutes a day) can improve mood and reduce depression.

Need a dose of something to improve your mood?

Here’s your prescription: Stop reading this right now. Go for a walk. Then make it a daily habit.

  • Side effects: You’ll feel better, burn extra calories, and improve your physical and mental health. Exercise is medicine.

References

1. Brüchle, W., et al. (2021). Physical activity reduces clinical symptoms and restores neuroplasticity in major depression. Frontiers in Psychiatry. From: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.660642/full

2. Villarroel, M., et al. (2020). Symptoms of depression among adults: United States, 2019. National Center for Health Statistics, Data Brief No. 379. From: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db379.htm

3. Brody, D., et al. (2020). Antidepressant use among adults: United States, 2015-2018. National Center for Health Statistics, Data Brief No. 377. From: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db377.htm

4. Harvey, S., et al. (2017). Exercise and the prevention of depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 175(1): 28-36. From: https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16111223

Dining-Out Dilemma: 6 Ways to Eat Healthier at a Restaurant

Healthy Dining

When your stomach tells you it’s feeding time, how do you respond?

  • Grab your healthy brown-bag lunch and bottle of water.
  • Whip up a meal in the kitchen made from fresh ingredients.
  • Hit the nearest restaurant or drive thru and munch your way through an entrée, sides, and a drink.

If your diet looks anything like the typical American’s (fast food, burgers, fries, pizza, fried chicken, soda, etc.), you’re not alone.

Did you know…1 out of every 5 calories you eat comes from restaurant food?1

Yes. It’s possible to order healthy food from the menu. You know…

  • The leafy-green salad
  • The soup of the day
  • Sans-bun with burger + lettuce wrap
  • Vegetables instead of fries
  • The fruit parfait
  • Water instead of soda, milkshakes, or sugary coffee drinks

But guess what? A lot of people don’t make the healthy choice, even when it’s an option.

In the study, researchers found that:

  • 70% of all fast-food meals are of poor dietary quality
  • 50% of all full-service restaurant meals ordered are of poor nutritional quality
  • The typical fast food or restaurant entree contains 1,200 to 1,500 calories. And that doesn’t include drinks, sides, or desserts!

The dining-out dilemma

Cooking healthy food at home more often is the better option. But if you are going to a sit-down restaurant, ordering take-out or hitting a drive-thru, you can make healthier restaurant choices.

Here are SIX easy ways to eat healthier at a restaurant:

  1. Find out how many calories are in a meal, before you order.
  2. Place half your meal in a to-go box before you start eating.
  3. Split a meal with someone else.
  4. Order from the kid’s or senior’s menu.
  5. Pick a side dish as your main course.
  6. Ask the restaurant staff to make you a smaller portion.

You hungry? Before you go out to eat, order a meal online, or find the nearest drive-thru, take a closer look at these tips to eat healthier.

You’ll be glad you did.

Reference

1. Liu., J., et al. (2020). Quality of meals consumed by US adults at full-service and fast-food restaurants: Persistent low quality and widening disparities. The Journal of Nutrition, 150(4): 873-883. From: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/150/4/873/5696668

The Mediterranean Diet: 9 Foods to Help You Live Longer

legumes and beans

Ever heard of a small village called Acciaroli, Italy?

This laidback fishing town is known for its pristine beaches, cobblestone streets, and simple way of life.

The village may hold the secret to living a long and healthy life, too. About one-third of the people who live in Acciaroli are over 100 years old.

Why? Researchers believe it’s their diet and lifestyle.

You probably won’t be packing your bags to move to Italy anytime soon. But you can live like someone from this remote village to improve your health and live longer.

What does it take? A healthy way of eating has been part of life for people living near the Mediterranean Sea for centuries.

If you want to feel better, live longer and improve your health, eat these 9 foods to follow the Mediterranean Diet.

1. Fresh vegetables. Try carrots, onions, broccoli, spinach, kale, garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms. Aim for 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.

2. Fruit. Add to cereal, oatmeal, or salads. Or enjoy as a snack. Try apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, and peaches. Most adults should eat about 1 to 2 cups of fruit per day.

3. Whole grains. Choose bread, cereal, oats, pasta and rice made from whole grains like barley, buckwheat, and bulgur.

4. Beans or legumes. Try beans like lentils, peas, and garbanzo beans in soup, salads, or served as a side.

5. Nuts & seeds. Try a small handful of pistachios, pecans, almonds, cashews, or walnuts as a snack or added to salads. Seeds that are a regular part of the Mediterranean Diet include sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and hemp seeds.

6. Healthy fats. Use healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil, and soy oil. Fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds are also good sources of healthy fats.

7. Red wine or grape juice. Drink red wine or grape juice. It’s the antioxidants in grapes that help improve circulation and heart health.

8. Herbs and spices. Spice things up with garlic, thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne, curry, and other herbs.

9. Fish & poultry. Avoid or limit red meat. Instead eat fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring. Or go with skinless poultry like chicken and turkey.

Use this as a checklist of things to eat to help you follow the Mediterranean Diet.

Not your typical Italian restaurant way of eating

Take a closer look, and you’ll see eating this way doesn’t look quite like the meals you’d find on the menu at an Italian restaurant in the U.S.

There’s two big differences:

Portion size: Most restaurant meals are big enough for two servings. That means twice as many calories as you need, too. If you want to follow the Mediterranean Diet, pay attention to portion sizes.

Sodium content: When you follow the Mediterranean Diet and eat more fresh foods, you’ll eat less sodium. Fast food, restaurant meals, and frozen foods are high in sodium. But the Mediterranean Diet is low in sodium.

Eating this way can protect your heart, lower blood pressure, and reduce stroke risk. It may also help prevent some kinds of cancer, preserve memory, and control blood sugar.

The Mediterranean lifestyle

Food isn’t the only thing on the menu for living a long and healthy life. Healthy relationships, a relaxed approach to life, and regular exercise is also part of the reason people in Acciaroli, Italy live longer.

References

Daniels, L., et al. (2020). Cardiovascular health of nonagenarians in southern Italy: a cross-sectional, home-based pilot study of longevity. Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, 21(2): 89-98. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31789688/

McManus, K. (2019). A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet. Harvard Health Publishing. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/a-practical-guide-to-the-mediterranean-diet-2019032116194

3 Surprising Strategies to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

What’s the secret to losing weight and keeping it off?

If you’ve tried fad diets, weight loss supplements, and insane workouts to tip the scale in the right direction without success, you’re not alone.

Half of all adults attempt to lose weight every year.1 But only 1 in 5 people who lose weight keep it off long-term.

When you approach weight loss as a short-term effort, it’s pretty common to lose weight and gain it back. You’ve heard of yo-yo dieting, right?

So how do you lose weight and keep it off?

In a recent study, researchers looked at the habits of 6,000 people who lost more than 50 pounds and kept it off for more than three years.1

If you think the only way to reach your goal weight is obsessing about diet and exercise, think again.

Of course, your food choices, activity level, and lifestyle choices make a difference. But there’s THREE things people in the study pointed to that matter more than calories and daily steps to lose weight and keep it off.

1. Persevere

You eat right, exercise, and make healthy choices for a few days. Then something happens that throws it all off. That ever happen?

Weight loss is never a straight line. If you want to be successful, expect losing weight to be a process with ups and downs, and persevere.

If you make some less-than-healthy food choices or blow off exercise, you don’t need to beat yourself up about it. Just get back on track and keep going the next day or even the next meal.

2. Track your progress

How do you get from where you are to where you want to be? It’s simple, one healthy choice at a time.

When you approach weight loss this way, change happens little by little.

In the study, the people who tracked their progress were more successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Why? It serves as a reminder of where you started and provides motivation to keep going.

Here are some easy ways to track the progress of your weight loss journey.

    • Take progress pictures
    • Track daily calories with a food journal or app
    • Record daily steps or minutes of exercise
    • Step on the scale daily or weekly
    • Monitor the way your clothes fit
    • Look in the mirror
    • Keep a journal

Tracking your progress provides you with reference points you can look back on to help you see what you’ve accomplished, and stay motivated.

3. Focus on your health

What’s your ‘why’? You’ve heard that before. What’s the reason you want to lose weight?

In the study, researchers found that the people who identified their reason for losing weight were more successful at developing healthy lifestyle habits that stick.

Your reasons to lose weight may include things like:

    • Reduce back and joint pain
    • Prevent or manage diabetes
    • Lower Body Mass Index and risk for chronic diseases
    • Improve sleep patterns
    • Boost energy levels
    • Feel better physically and mentally

When you approach weight loss with a plan to make better food choices, be more active, and these THREE strategies, you’re more likely to tip the scale in the right direction and keep the weight off.

“I’ve seen firsthand that someone’s mindset and perspective are crucial to help them build healthy habits and drive sustainable weight loss and management,” says co-author of the study researcher Dr. Gary Foster. “We hope that these findings encourage other people going through a similar journey and equip them with the tools that they need to optimize their own success.”