diet

Tune Your Body

Our body is designed to move. A complex scaffolding of muscles and bones allows us to achieve remarkable feats of coordination and balance.

Our sedentary lifestyles have made modern life much more comfortable, but our bodies have become sluggish and lazy.

Regular exercise has multiple benefits. It strengthens muscles and bones, keeps the joints flexible, reduces fat deposits, stimulates the brain, and reinforces the immune system to protect the entire body against diseases and the effects of aging on a long term basis.

Due to it’s many positive effects, regular exercise is the true fountain of youth. Studies show that middle-aged people who have never exercised on a regular basis appear up to 20 years older physiologically than their active peers.

Exercise is fun, free and offers an array of benefits. Some forms of exercise like stretching, yoga and Pilates increase flexibility. Others, like weight training, build healthy bones and joints and improves muscle strength. Aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jumping rope, running and dancing increase endurance by helping the heart work more efficiently.

Tune your body as you would a fine instrument and see how far it takes you.

These words were taken from an informational poster at Boston’s Quincy Market where the exhibit Body World’s Vital is currently on display. I had the pleasure to view the exhibit on a recent visit to Boston with a friend. The bodies on display are real people who gave their consent to use their bodies so others may learn more about our functions. The bodies are preserved using a process called plastination, by which the fluids in the body are replaced with plastics such as silicone rubber, polymers and resins to then permanently preserve these specimens. The skin is removed and the muscles, tendons, bones and organs are revealed. It was amazing to see how our muscles are attached to ligaments, attached to bones. The human body is an amazing machine.

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Besides exercise, your body needs the proper fuel. Eat a well balanced diet that consists of an abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins. Drink plenty of water and limit dairy to two servings a day. Use healthy oils like olive oil or canola oil and avoid trans fat. A proper diet will give you all the energy you need to get out and move your body.

Take care of your body! It’s the only place you have to live!

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Do You Take Vitamin Supplements?

I’ve taken a few vitamin and mineral supplements over the years in an attempt to fill in the gaps in my diet. Over the last few weeks while writing this blog I’ve learned much about food and ways to get my daily nutritional requirements naturally. With the changes I’ve made in my eating habits I’m down to two supplements I’ll continue to take.

The first one is calcium. I’m concerned about my bone density and osteoporosis. I’m not worried about it now, my bones are fine. Keeping them strong into old age is my goal. My grandmother has osteoporosis. At my full adult height she and I were the same height. Before she passed away she was six inches shorter than me, had a hunched back and suffered back pain. One calcium tablet a day will still be part of my daily intake. I’ll get the rest of my daily requirement through food.

Glucosamine and chondroitin is a mineral complex that protects and comforts sore joints by lubricating and cushioning them. Due to many miles pedaled around the rolling hills of central Massachusetts I’d developed knee soreness particularly during the warm months. This supplement really helps. My husband has osteoarthritis in his knees and it has also decreased his knee pain somewhat.

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I recently stopped taking a B Complex supplement. I think I’ve got these bases pretty well covered in my diet. There are eight B vitamins;

  1. B1 aka thiamine helps your body break down carbs. Wheat germ and oysters contain high levels of B1. I might have to work on this one.
  2. B2 aka riboflavin helps convert food to energy and aids in producing red blood cells. Mushrooms, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and green leafy vegetables are rich in riboflavin.
  3. B3 aka niacin aids digestion, metabolizes food and produces the good kinds of cholesterol. Fish, chicken, liver, potatoes, peanuts, beans, fortified cereals and whole grains are high in niacin.
  4. B4 aka panothenic acid is found in most foods. It breaks down proteins, carbs and fats. To increase intake eat more eggs, chicken, potatoes, peas, avocados, oranges, mushrooms, tomatoes and oats.
  5. B6 aka pyridoxine is necessary for nervous system functions. Green leafyvegetables, asparagus, watermelon, organ meats, fish, chicken, watermelon and wheat germ are high in B6.
  6. B7 aka biotin helps your body synthesize glycogen, amino acids and fats. It also is linked to tissue maintenance and skin care. Oats, nuts, soybeans, potatoes, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower are high in biotin.
  7. B9 aka folic acid is required for cell growth and maintenance. Many foods are high in folic acid, including beans, peas, broccoli, beets, asparagus, turnip greens, spinach, mushrooms, cantaloupe, wheat bread and fortified juices.
  8. B12 aka cobalamin is vital to red blood cell production. It is primarily found in foods from animals. Vegetarians and vegans may need to take vitamin supplements to get the recommended daily allowance of B12. Look for other foods rich in vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, seafood, milk and yogurt.

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And yes, I rode my bicycle Sunday! This shadow picture make me look a bit chubby around the middle. No very flattering! Oh well, I like shadow pictures! I had to leave the hubby behind Sunday. He was down and out with a nasty stomach bug that he caught from me. After a slow recovery from that same bug I felt up for it Sunday and did 26 miles. It was great. Sunny, 50’s and a bit breezy but I bundled up and off I went. It felt so good. I turned over 200 miles for the year so far. Not bad considering we’re just getting over a pretty cold winter. I’ll soon be cranking out over 100 miles a week. I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to ride after work. My goal for the year is 3,000 miles.

I have another goal; To raise $10,000 for Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through their Jimmy Fund. Every year during the first weekend in August over 5,000 cyclists take part in the annual Pan Massachusetts Challenge. We are pedaling toward a goal of raising $40M this year and I’m excited to be riding for the 11th time. You can learn more about the PMC here http://www.pmc.org. If you’d like to consider sponsoring  me you can do so here  http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. If you’d like to send me an old fashioned check send me a message. One hundred percent of your donation goes to the charity – not one cent is used for administrative costs.

Thanks for reading my blog!

A Handful of Nuts

Spring is finally here in New England! Though not every day is warm enough or dry enough for bicycling, we’re able to get out more often than “once in a while”. Saturday was one of those days. Temperatures were in the low 50’s and rain threatened for the second half of the afternoon. After giving the morning a bit of time to warm up we set out on our bicycles around 11:00 AM. My husband is always the navigator. With a pretty good northeast wind he chose a route heading north for the first few miles. We rode a 29 mile loop that, for the most part, wasn’t into a headwind. With a coffee stop at the halfway point we got back around 2:45, just as it started to sprinkle. My average speed wasn’t my best but that will improve once I’m on the bike regularly. I’m looking forward to warmer days so I can start riding to work. I’m thinking in about a month I’ll be able to do just that. 

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Only four months until the 2014 Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile, 2 day bike a thon takes place every year on the first weekend in August. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through it’s Jimmy Fund. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes straight to DFCI. I personally have set a goal to raise $10,000. I feel confidant that I can attain this goal. Would you consider helping me? Online donations can be made here http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. You’ll get a confirmation text to which you will have to reply to in order for the donation to be processed. A $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone. If you’d like to know more about the PMC and it’s work, check it out at http://www.pmc.org.

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So, about nuts. It seems that eating nuts is good for your heart. They contain many compounds that promote heart health:

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the “good” fats – lower bad cholesterol levels
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
  • Fiber – All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. 
  • Vitamin E – helps stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them.
  • Plant sterols – Some nuts contain plant sterols, which can help lower your cholesterol. These are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
  • L-arginine – a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

Something to keep in mind is that nuts are as much as 80% fat. Though it’s the healthy type of fat, nuts do pack a lot of calories. The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Raw or dry roasted are better than those cooked in oil. A serving is a small handful, 1.5 oz., of whole nuts. But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won’t do your heart any good.

Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat? Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy. Peanuts – which are technically not a nut but are actually legume – like beans, seem to be relatively healthy. Keep in mind you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a happy, healthy week!

 

More on Protein – Have You Tried Quinoa?

I have to admit I was a bit of a slacker in the exercise department today. I spent last night at the home of my middle child and who happens to be the mom of the world’s most darling grandson. We did have a nice walk and fun exploring part of Borderland State Forest. Quality time with him trumped and big workout today! I’ll make it up this week.

While most adults get adequate amounts of protein from their diets, vegetarians and vegans may have trouble eating enough protein rich foods to meet minimum daily requirements. Protein is found in the following foods;

  • meats, poultry, and fish
  • legumes (dry beans and peas)
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • milk and milk products
  • grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)

What is quinoa? Pronounced keen-wah, quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, but is actually a seed. Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Cholesterol-free and a low-fat source of protein, one cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein. To put that in reference, the recommended daily protein intake is about 56 grams for most men and 46 for most women. That same cup of this super food also packs;

  •  220 calories (70 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, 15 percent protein)
  • 40 grams of carbohydrates (13 percent daily value)
  • 3.5 grams of fat (5 percent daily value with no saturated fat
  • 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of daily value)
  • 20 percent of daily value of folate (various forms of Vitamin B)
  • 30 percent of magnesium daily value (beneficial for people with migraine headaches); 28 percent daily value of phosphorous; iron (15 percent); copper (18 percent); and manganese (almost 60 percent)
  • All eight essential amino acids

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Vegetarians would do well to incorporate quinoa into their diet often. It’s difficult for vegetarians to get all eight essential amino acids and an adequate source of protein from one food source. Usually, vegetarians and vegans need to combine foods like beans and rice to acquire all the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

There are a lot of recipes out there for quinoa. This link will take you to a site that has some very interesting sounding breakfast recipes for quinoa.

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/breakfastrecipe1/tp/Breakfast-Quinoa.htm

I haven’t made any any of them yet but they are on my list of recipes to try!

I’m really itching for spring weather to give me more opportunities to spend time on my bicyle and start training for my 11th ride with the Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile, 2 day bike a thon takes place every year on the first weekend in August. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through it’s Jimmy Fund. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes straight to DFCI. I personally have set a goal to raise $10,000. I feel confidant that I can attain this goal. Would you consider helping me? Online donations can be made here http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. You’ll get a confirmation text to which you will have to reply to in order for the donation to be processed. A $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone. If you’d like to know more about the PMC and it’s work, check it out at http://www.pmc.org.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week!

 

 

Cutting back on meats? Alternative protein sources.

Monday, 1 hour on the cross trainer. Tuesday, 1 hour Spin class. Wednesday, 1 hour on the cross trainer. Thursday and Friday, no workout. Saturday, 29 miles on my bike (yippee!). Sunday, 5 miles cross country skiing. Yes, that’s right. It was warm enough at 53 degrees to bicycle on Saturday and below freezing Sunday. Only in New England. At least if it had to be below freezing, there was still enough snow around to ski on. I’d rather be outside any day and soon enough the weather will allow it more and more. Hooray for spring!

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I’m trying to cut back the amount of meat I eat and get protein from other sources. A good alternate source of protein is beans. Soybeans are one of the richest plant-based protein sources. You’ll get more than 28.5 grams of protein from 1 cup of boiled soybeans. Cooked navy beans have nearly 16 grams of protein per cup, while pinto beans offer closer to 15.5 grams of protein for the same serving size. Prepared kidney beans and black beans each have a similar protein content, providing about 15.25 grams in a 1-cup portion. Garbanzo beans – the type used to make hummus – give you 14.5 grams of protein in a cup. 

But, beans aren’t a complete protein. One thing they lack that we get from meat is amino acids. If you’re going to rely on beans for protein, you’ll need to add another plant based protein on a daily basis to get these essential amino acids. My suggestions would be brown rice, oatmeal or a handful of nuts, 

Beans are comparable to meats in the calorie department but they have the added benefit of high fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller, faster. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without feeling deprived. The difference in fiber content means meat gets digested more quickly. The beans are processed by our bodies slower resulting in feeling satisfied longer. When you substitute beans for meat in your diet, you get the added bonus of a decrease in saturated fat.

And that’s not all. Beans have something else that meat lacks, phytochemicals, compounds found only in plants. Beans are high in antioxidants, a class of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and aging to diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Hey, sounds like the perfect food, huh? I made a black bean and cucumber salad tonight tonight that is absolutely delicious! I found it here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/black-bean-and-cucumber-salad/detail.aspx. It’s going to be a big part of my lunches this week!

I’m registered to ride in the 2014 Pan Mass Challenge on August 2nd & 3rd. This 192 mile bike a thon raises much needed funds for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One hundred percent of the money raised by the over 5,000 riders goes straight to Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund. This will be my 11th time riding the PMC and my goal is to raise $10,000. If you’d consider sponsoring me click here https://www.pmc.org/egifts and my ID is JS0126. Another way to donate is “Text to Give to My Ride” means donors can text PMC JS0126 to 20222 to donate $10 to my ride. You must reply “Yes” to the confirmation text message. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone and the donation will appear on your cell phone bill.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week!