Archive for October, 2012

Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Diet

October 30, 2012

It’s not difficult to eat healthier.  Just making simple changes to your diet can ramp up the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you’re getting.  And better nutrition quickly spells better health.  To make it easier for you, I’ve compiled 30 simple ways to supercharge your diet.

1.  Use avocado instead of butter on your sandwiches, buns, or on veggies.

2.  Use naturally-sweet stevia instead of sugar.  Be wary of powdered stevia that contain other sweeteners though.  Stevia tastes sweet but doesn’t contain any form of sugar like glucose, fructose, maltose, etc. so it doesn’t impact blood sugar levels.

3.  Drink green tea lemonade (sweetened with stevia, of course) instead of bottled ice tea or soda.

4.  Choose brown rice pasta instead of white pasta. Better yet, use kelp noodles if you can find them.

5.  The same is true of rice.  Choose brown rice instead of white rice.

6.  Use stock instead of bouillon to make soup.  It’s really easy to do if you add vegetables and water to a slow cooker and allow them to cook for at least 4 to 6 hours to extract the nutrients.  Strain the vegetables out and use the liquid as the base for soup.  Bouillon is notorious for containing the harmful neurotoxin monosodium glutamate (MSG).

7.  Add a can of beans to a pot of homemade soup.  It immediately ramps up the protein and fiber and helps you feel full longer so you’re less likely to crave unhealthy snacks.

8.  Make your own salad dressings.  They take a minute to make and help you obtain important fats.  Use the 3:1 ratio:  three parts oil (like olive or walnut oil) to one part acid (like lemon or lime juice, or apple cider vinegar).  Add herbs and a little unrefined sea salt and maybe a teaspoon of honey (if desired).  Shake in a jar or blend with a hand blender.

9.  Switch from peanut butter to raw, organic almond butter.  Peanuts are vulnerable to molds called aflatoxins which are highly inflammatory.  Almonds are less vulnerable.

10.  Eat kale chips instead of potato chips.  You can purchase them ready-made or you can make your own by tossing kale in a little olive oil and unrefined sea salt, then bake at 275 until light and crispy (usually 15 to 25 minutes).

11.  Switch from sports energy drinks to coconut water.  Sports drinks are loaded with sugar, colors, and frequently preservatives.  Pure coconut water replenishes electrolytes without all the junk.

12.  Throw a handful of sprouts on your salads and sandwiches and in your wraps.  They are packed with protein, fiber, and enzymes.

13.  Switch from baked or mashed potato to baked or mashed sweet potato for the extra beta carotene blast.

14.  Top baked sweet potatoes with flax oil or add while mashing sweet potatoes to get more Omega 3s.

15.  Eat a bowl of frozen blueberries in place of ice cream.  Blueberries are anti-inflammatory and potent brain boosters.

16.  Satisfy a sweet tooth with a delicious red, blue, or purple fruit like pomegranate, mixed berries, or cherries.  They are packed with anthocyanidins that are anti-inflammatory and great for heart health.

17.  Choose 100% whole grain instead of multi-grain or “whole wheat” bread.  Multigrain or “whole wheat” bread usually contains mostly white flour with a handful of grains or whole wheat flour thrown in to make it look natural.

18.  Choose organic produce as much as possible.  Study-after-study shows that organic is more nutritious than conventional produce.

19.  Buy direct from farmers at local farmers’ markets.  Most of the nutrients are lost when foods are shipped long distances and stored for long periods of time.

20.  Eat fish or beans instead of meat.  Fish contains beneficial fats along with protein and beans contain protein, fiber, and lots of vitamins.

21.  Start every day with a large glass of pure water with freshly-squeezed lemon juice.  Lemons contain over 20 anti-cancer compounds.

22.  Switch from lattes to green tea.  Green tea helps regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, balance cholesterol, fight cancer, and regulate blood sugar.

23.  Add fresh spices to your meals for added flavor and nutrition.  Spices like rosemary, basil, cayenne, and oregano are high in antioxidants and are natural antibiotics.

24.  Make homemade muffins with grated carrots or zucchini, or add pumpkin or sweet potato puree in place of some of the liquid and sugar.

25.  Make meat the background not the main dish if you eat it.

26.  Eat a large, raw salad every day.  Top it with grated beets or carrots, fresh strawberries, chopped mint, slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds.

27.  Snack on raw, unsalted pumpkin or sesame seeds or nuts like walnuts or almonds.  Packed with fatty acids to boost immunity and moisturize your skin, these foods also contain lots of protein and fiber to stabilize blood sugar levels.

28.  Eat an apple a day, preferably an organic one.  Apples contain pectin that binds to extra cholesterol in the bloodstream and malic acid that helps reduce fibromyalgia pain.

29.  Switch from milk to almond milk in your baking or smoothies.  Milk is extremely mucus-forming and has been linked to arthritis and other conditions.  Almond milk also contains calcium, along with magnesium and many other nutrients.

30.  Try to get a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil every day.  Cook with it on low to medium heat (under 300 degrees Fahrenheit), use it for salad dressings, or top dips like hummus with a splash. Research shows it reduces the risk of dying prematurely by 26%.

This article was written by By , Care2.com

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The Truth About the Pelvic Floor

October 28, 2012

The pelvic floor muscles are tightly slung between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone, and support the bowel, bladder, uterus and vagina. Muscular bands (sphincters) encircle the urethra, vagina and anus as they pass through the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxing the pelvic floor allows passage of urine and faeces.

If the muscles are weakened, the internal organs are no longer fully supported and you may not be able to control your urine. Common causes of a weakened pelvic floor include childbirth, obesity and the associated straining of chronic constipation. Pelvic floor exercises are designed to improve muscle tone and prevent the need for corrective surgery.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor include:

  • Leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
  • Failing to reach the toilet in time
  • Uncontrollably breaking wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting
  • Reduced sensation in the vagina
  • Backache
  • Tampons that dislodge or fall out
  • A distinct swelling at the vaginal opening
  • A sensation of heaviness in the vagina.

Common causes

The pelvic floor can be weakened in many ways, including:

  • The weight of the uterus during pregnancy
  • Vaginal childbirth, which overstretches the muscles
  • The pressure of obesity
  • Chronic constipation and associated straining to pass motions
  • Constant coughing
  • Some forms of surgery that require cutting the muscles
  • Lower levels of oestrogen after menopause.

Complications of a weakened pelvic floor

Loss of bladder control is a common symptom of a weakened pelvic floor. Some people experience bowel incontinence, which means they can’t always control the passage of wind or faeces. Weak pelvic floor muscles can also cause sexual difficulties such as reduced vaginal sensation. In severe cases, the internal organs supported by the pelvic floor, including the bladder and uterus, can slide down into the vagina. This is called a prolapse. A distinct bulge in the vagina and deep, persistent vaginal aching are common symptoms.

Familiarising yourself with the pelvic floor

Pelvic floor exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles. Each sphincter (vaginal, urethral, anal) should be exercised, so you need to familiarise yourself with these muscles in order to contract them at will. If the pelvic floor is especially weak, it may be difficult to detect any muscular contractions at first.

Suggestions on identifying your sphincters include:

  • Vaginal – insert one or two fingers into your vagina and try to squeeze them.
  • Urethral – when you are urinating, try stopping the flow in midstream. This should only be done to identify the sphincters. Do not do it on a regular basis.
  • Anal – pretend you are trying to stop yourself from breaking wind and squeeze tightly.

The exercises

You can perform these exercises lying down, sitting or standing. Ideally, aim for five or six sessions every day while you are learning the exercises. After you have a good understanding of how to do the exercises, three sessions each day is enough.

Before you start, direct your attention to your pelvic floor muscles. Try to relax your abdominal muscles. Don’t bear down or hold your breath. Gradually squeeze all three sphincters and increase the tension until you have contracted the muscles as hard as you can. Release gently and slowly. Then perform the exercises, which include:

  • Squeeze slowly and hold as strongly as you can for 5 to 10 seconds while breathing normally. Release slowly. Repeat 10 times. Relax for 5 to 10 seconds between each one.
  • Perform quick, short, strong squeezes. Repeat 10 times.
  • Remember to squeeze the muscles whenever you clear your throat or cough.

Professional help

It is important to perform these exercises correctly. You can consult with your doctor, physiotherapist or continence advisor to ensure proper performance. It may take weeks or months before you notice a substantial improvement. In severe cases, pelvic floor exercises aren’t enough to solve the problem and surgery may be needed. Be guided by your health care professional.

Other considerations

You can further improve the strength of your pelvic floor in many ways, including:

  • Lose excess body fat
  • Cure constipation by including more fruit, vegetables, fibre and water in your daily diet
  • Seek medical attention for a chronic cough.

Where to get help

  • Australian Physiotherapy Association Tel. (03) 9092 0888
  • National Continence Helpline Tel. 1800 33 00 66
  • Victorian Continence Resource Centre Tel. (03) 9816 8266
  • Family Planning Victoria Tel. 1800 013 952 or (03) 9257 0100 http://www.fpv.org.au
  • Family planning clinic
  • Your doctor or other health care professional

Things to remember

  • The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus and bowel.
  • The pelvic floor can be weakened by pregnancy, childbirth, obesity and the straining of chronic constipation.
  • Pelvic floor exercises are designed to improve muscle strength.

Summary

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus and bowel. Pregnancy, childbirth, obesity and the straining of chronic constipation can weaken the pelvic floor and cause urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises can help.

The Pelvic Floor & the Core

The pelvic floor muscles work as part of the ‘core’ to regulate the internal pressure in the abdominal cylinder along with the abdominal, back and breathing muscles.

During exercise the internal pressures in the abdomen are constantly changing. For example, as you lift a weight the internal pressure increases, and as you put a weight down the pressure normalises.

In most people this pressure regulation happens automatically, however if any of the muscles in the core, including the pelvic floor, are weakened or damaged, then this automatic action may be altered.

In the ideal situation the muscles of the core work together in a co-ordinated way: as load is placed on the spine, the pelvic floor muscles lift, the abdominal and back muscles draw in to support the spine and it is easy to breathe (diagram 1). Alternatively, if when a client lifts a weight they hold their breath or draw the abdomen in without engaging the pelvic floor muscles, they may place excessive pressure down on the pelvic floor (diagram 2). If repeated stress or strain is placed on the bladder and bowel (and uterus in women) this may result in a weakening of the ligaments and leakage or pelvic organ prolapse may occur.

Correct and incorrect pelvic floor muscle action
 Diagram 1. Correct action                    Diagram 2. Incorrect action

Stabilising the core

The act of drawing the belly button to backbone has been advocated to turn on the core and stabilise the spine. New research is showing however, that some people tighten their back muscles, draw in the abdomen, hold their breath and place pressure down on the pelvic floor in an attempt to stabilise the spine. It has become more common for clients to try and brace their core muscles constantly during a whole exercise session in the belief they are toning the abdomen and supporting the spine.

To work well, the core muscles need to be flexible and contract and relax. Constant bracing can lead to stiffness. Leakage may occur because the pelvic floor muscles are weak, but can also occur because people have been bracing the core too much and have made the muscles stiff.

Information sourced from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pelvic_floor, http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/the-pelvic-floor-and-the-core.html

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Spanish Chicken

October 25, 2012

Spanish chicken Serves 4

1 protein, 1 fat

 Ingredients

  • 4 whole chicken legs
  • 60ml light olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml vinegar
  • 250ml white wine
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

 Method

  1. Rinse and dry the chicken. Heat the oil in a large fry pan. Add the chicken and lightly brown over moderate heat.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over the chicken and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add more stock if necessary to keep the chicken covered.
  3. Serve with steamed veggies.

How to Avoid the Most Common Yoga Injuries

October 23, 2012

People are down-dogging all around the world these days,pressing heels to mats in an attempt to reap yoga’s much-touted health benefits. Among them: improved strength and flexibility, reduced tension, anxiety, and stress, and maybe even lower blood pressure. Research has also found that yoga can improve respiration, heart rate, and metabolism and help reduce pain. But this doesn’t mean that yoga, if performed incorrectly, can’t also cause harm.

Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Illustration by Bob Al-Greene

Pain in the Asana — The Need-to-Know

While most yoga injuries aren’t severe and go unreported, more serious issues do occur, including strains and sprains, fractures, dislocations, and, in rare cases, bone spurs, sciatic nerve damage, and stroke. But according to yoga experts, injuries can happen any time, in any sport, or even walking down the sidewalk — and scary injuries are rare. Most yoga injuries develop gradually over years of consistent over-stretching and misalignment. As with any physical activity, the safest approach to yoga is to learn how to practice the poses correctly and stay in tune with your body to avoid overdoing it.

Read on for their injury RX — from head to toe.

  • Wrists: When it comes to the wrists, it’s all about leverage. Placing all of the body’s weight in the wrists when the hands are on the mat can lead to muscle and joint injuries.
    Find relief: When in doubt, spread ‘em. In any pose where weight is placed on the hands (such as down dog), distribute the body’s weight through both hands by spreading them wide and pressing through the fingers. In down dog, push the hips back to decrease the angle of the wrists to the floor. In arm balances, such as crow pose, look to see that the elbows are stacked directly over the wrists, Cheng says.
  • Elbows: Joint pain in the elbows can result from bending them out to the sides in poses like chaturanga. While it may be easier to execute, lowering down with outward-pointing elbows can stress the joint and can also put undue stresses on the wrists.
    Tuck and lower: When bending the elbows in a pose (particularly plank or chaturanga), keep the elbows tucked alongside the ribs as you bend them, and make sure the elbows’ creases face forward, Cheng says. If this is difficult (yes, it’s a serious test of triceps strength!), begin with the knees on the floor. Remember, you can always work up to the unmodified version through regular practice.
  • Shoulders: Beware the shrug. By raising the shoulders up toward the ears (like when moving into up dog), yogis stop using the supporting muscles in the arms, shoulders, and neck. Shrugging also compresses the shoulders, which can cause muscle injuries, Cheng says. Even worse: It’s easy to injure the shoulder girdle or rotator cuff (and even dislocate the joint) by over-extending or over-stretching.
    Let go: Be careful not to pull too hard on the shoulders in stretches, and always keep the shoulders held back and down away from the ears, yoga teacher and personal trainer Jeni Livingston says.
  • Ribs: Twists are awesome for releasing tension, but if done improperly they can overextend or bruise the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between the ribs).
    Twist, don’t shout: Lengthen upwards through the spine before twisting. Imagine that someone has a string attached to the crown of your head and is very gently pulling you up toward the ceiling. Twist to the point of feeling a stretch but not past it, even if you’re flexible, Cheng says.
  • Lower back: Lower back pain is the most frequently cited yoga injury, and teachers speculate that it’s likely the result of rounding through the spine in poses like forward folds and down dog. Rounding causes the spine to flex the opposite way that it’s supposed to, Livingston says, which can cause disc problems in addition to that achy feeling post-class.
    Soothe the spine: Before bending, imagine lengthening the spine up and away from the hips to avoid rounding. Still struggling to stay on the straight and narrow? Try bending the knees in poses like forward folds and down dog, Livingston says, since the culprit could be tight hamstrings. During seated forward folds, try sitting on a blanket or block to take pressure off the lower back.
  • Hamstrings: Spend most days sitting in front of the computer, in class, or in the car? Guilty as charged. As a result, many of us have tight hamstrings, so it’s easy to pull or over-stretch them in poses like forward bends, Cheng says.
    Hamper pain: Down dog and lunges are great ways to stretch the hamstrings (just remember to go slowly and work at your own pace). If you have any kind of hamstring injury, try laying off poses that extend through the back of the body and legs until the injury heals.
  • Hips: It’s easy to over-extend the hips’ range of motion in splits, warrior poses, and wide-legged forward folds, Cheng says, which might tear the muscles of the inner groin or inner thighs.
    Get hip (to proper form): A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the toes are pointed forward in any pose where the hips are squared off in the same direction (think: warrior I). Imagine there are headlights attached to the front of the hips and that you’re trying to keep the area straight ahead of you illuminated at all times.
  • Knee: Knee issues can plague even experienced yogis well after class. A common culprit of pain is the cross-legged position, Livingston says. Flexibility carries from the hips first; if the hips are tight in the pose, the knees will be the first place to feel pain or tension.
    Prevent the pain: For those regularly bothered by knee pain, avoid sitting in cross-legged position or full lotus for long periods unless the hips are already very flexible, Livingston says. Placing a block or rolled-up blanket under the knees in cross-legged positions can also help reduce strain. Any time the knee is bent in a standing pose (such as warriors I and II), look to see that there’s a vertical line from the bent knee to the heel, Cheng says — this ensures that the body is bearing weight properly.
  • Neck: Head and shoulder stands can be the worst culprits for neck pain and injury, says yoga teacher Julie Skaarup. Repeatedly and incorrectly placing pressure on the neck in poses such as shoulder stand and headstand can compress the neck and put pressure on the cervical vertebrae, resulting in joint issues and, in some cases, loss of neck flexion.
    Prop it up:Have chronic neck or shoulder issues? It might be best to avoid full inversions all together, Cheng says (or attempt them only with close supervision and using props that elevate the neck away from the floor). For those who already practice the pose without props, make sure the shoulder blades are drawn down and back so they’re safely supporting the body. Most importantly, never jerk the head once you’re up in the pose, Skaarup says, because it can destabilize the body, possibly causing a fall.

Turn “Ouch!” into Ommm — Your Action Plan

Proper alignment in poses is key, but it’s not the only factor in a safe yoga practice. To stay blissed out instead of stressed out over injury, follow the basic guidelines below.

  • Leave ego outside. It can be tempting to rush into more advanced poses (how tough can handstands be, right?), but pushing our bodies before they’re ready is a recipe for injury. Yoga is “about finding where you are,” Skaarup says, “not trying to push to a place where your body may never be able to go.”
  • Warm up. It’s an important part of any physical activity, and yoga is no exception. Basic stretches (like neck and shoulder rolls and gentle twists) help prepare the body for more challenging poses later on in a sequence, Cheng says. And remember to give the mind a chance to warm up to the practice: Take a few breaths to get centered at the beginning of class, or establish a pre-flow ritual (such as chanting some Oms) to get grounded.
  • Ease in. No one would expect to run a marathon the first time they lace up their sneakers. Don’t expect to do a headstand or even get the heels to the floor in down dog the first time you hit the mat, Livingston says. Instead, opt for beginner-friendly classes that will develop the foundation for more advanced moves.
  • Communicate. Get to know the teacher and be sure to share any pre-existing issues that might require modifications in certain poses, Cheng says. If you don’t know how to modify or use props, ask. And if a pose just isn’t working, don’t be embarrassed to simply… not do it. Instead, focus on the poses that provide benefit and release.
  • Come out of postures slowly. This is particularly important if you’ve been holding a certain pose for several minutes, Skaarup says. A good rule of thumb is to work out of a pose as gradually as you moved into it.
  • Use props and modifications. There’s no shame in not being ready to hold a pose completely on your own. If there’s tightness somewhere in the body, other parts of the body will have to accommodate it, Livingston says — which is why it’s so important not to push the body past what it’s able to do on a given day.  Props and modifications allow the body to get a feel for a pose and gradually work up to its full variation without injury.
  • Never lock your joints. Hyper-extension (locking) is a sure-fire way to wear out joints and cause injury down the road. Focus on engaging the muscles around the joints to gain stability, Cheng says.
  • If you do get injured, take care. If you tweak, pull, or tear something during a yoga flow, don’t be afraid to step out of class early. Care for it like any other sports injury, and seek a professional’s opinion if the pain persists.
  • Stay for relaxation. It’s easy to head for the door as soon as the instructor calls for relaxation (the final resting pose of a yoga flow), but sticking around is good for your health. Relaxation allows the body’s nervous system to slow down and brings closure to the practice. Even just two or three minutes can have an effect, Cheng says.
  • Above all: listen to your body. At all stages of yoga practice, stay mindful. Really listen to your body so you can be sensitive to any tightness or strain. Just because you did a particular pose one day, doesn’t mean your body will be able to do it the next. “In our yoga practice,” Skaarup says, “we are building a relationship with our bodies the same way we build them with other people: by listening.”

Information sourced from : http://greatist.com/fitness/common-yoga-injuries-prevention-treatment/#

Sugar on the Brain

October 20, 2012

Sugar on the brain
Recent research has shown that the instinct to consume foods that contribute to poor health and fitness may come from a previously unsuspected area of the brain – and one which may be able to be targeted to prevent compulsive consumption of sugary treats.

In an experiment involving rats, the brain’s inability to resist sweet and fatty foods was highlighted. The culpable area of the brain, however, was one which has hitherto not been suspected – the neostriatum. This area produces a chemical that enhances desire and which, therefore, may be partially responsible for the compulsion to eat more than the body needs.

Lead study researcher and graduate student in biopsychology at the University of Michigan, Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, said ‘Previously, people thought this area of the brain was only involved in motor function and learning, but we found it’s involved in motivation and generating instant consumption’.

Although the findings were applicable to the rodents in the study, DiFeliceantonio speculated that they may have implications for humans, and that if that is the case, drugs could potentially be used to target the area and suppress the compulsion to overeat.

In the study, rats that had been given a drug to enhance the action of the neostriatum consumed twice as many M&Ms as they ate under normal control conditions. The volume they consumed was equated to a human eating 3.2kg of M&Ms in an hour.

Commenting on the findings, Dr David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said ‘We tend to like flavours, such as sweet, that in nature are associated with life-sustaining foods, and tend to dislike flavours, such as bitter, more often associated with toxins.’

While this instinct served our ancestors well with regards finding sources of energy in environments where sweet foodstuffs were scarce and levels of physical activity were high, in today’s artificially sugar-rich world, it may be achieving the opposite – leading to obesity and associated diseases.

‘But the fault here is not with the world within us, which is the same as it ever was’ said Katz; ‘It is with what and how much people eat, which has made the brain’s natural functioning “backfire rather badly”.’

Source: Current Biology

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Broad Bean Sauce

October 18, 2012

Broad Bean Sauce over Chicken

Makes 6 Servings
One serving of 2 tablespoons counts as ‘free’

Ingredients:

  • 500gm frozen broad beans
  • 1 cup natural low fat yoghurt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  •  ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Blend or process all ingredients to form a smooth sauce consistency.
  2. Serve chilled over grilled fish or chicken.

The Heart Health Fish Oil Program ** Have YOU Had Some Fish Oil Today?

October 16, 2012
Fish Oil Program header
For good heart health, the Heart Foundation recommends Australian adults consume at least 500mgs of omega-3 every day. Some people may require more. Consult your healthcare professional.
About the Fish Oil Program

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are essential nutrients for a healthy heart. Since the release of our position statement in 2008 we have recommended that Australian adults consume at least 500mg of omega-3 EPA / DHA every day from oily fish or fish oil supplements.

Unfortunately, recent research suggests that this message still isn’t getting through.

In fact, this research shows some 40% of Australians either don’t know or are unsure if omega-3 contributes to heart health1.  In addition, three in five Australians don’t eat the recommended 2-3 serves of oily fish each week that are required for good heart health.

Our Fish Oil Program is designed to improve awareness and understanding of the need and benefits of consuming oily fish and fish oils to improve your heart health; and to assist you to make informed decisions about your choice of fish oil product.

Our new program aims to help improve the heart health of all Australians.

Look for the fish oil quality approved for Heart HealthFish Oil Program Small

To help you select a quality fish oil product that meets our criteria for heart health, we have developed the Heart Health symbol which will be licensed to fish oil producers who meet our strict standards.

Whenever you choose a product with the Heart Health symbol, you can be assured it has been rigorously tested, and the omega-3 is sourced in accordance with international conventions to protect wildlife.

Find out if your fish oil is quality approved for heart health.

If you have questions about fish oil or the Fish Oil program, please call our free Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87 or download our question and answer sheet.

How much fish oil do you need?

We recommend that Australian adults consume at least 500mg of omega-3 every day to help maintain heart health.

You can get your recommended amount of omega-3 by eating 2-3 150g serves of oily fish every week and/or by supplementing your intake with fish oil supplements (capsules or liquid) and omega-3 enriched foods and drinks.

Download our weekly eating plan for ideas to help you get enough omega-3 each week.

Information for professionals

Find out more about the Fish Oil Program and the Heart Health symbol by downloading our program fact sheet.

 

 

1. Newspoll Nature’s Own Omega-3 Health Survey.  Conducted 2-4 March 2012 by phone interview with 1,206 Australian adults aged 18 years and over

http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/Pages/fish-oil-program.aspx

Pyramid or plate? Explore these healthy diet options

October 14, 2012

Healthy diets come in all shapes and sizes. Pick one and discover how easy it is to eat healthy.

By Mayo Clinic

A healthy diet can be illustrated in many ways, but it’s often found in the shape of a pyramid. Most people are familiar with MyPyramid developed by the Department of Agriculture, but that’s history now. It’s been replaced with MyPlate.

However, many other healthy diets are still represented by food pyramids. These include the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and Vegetarian Food Guide pyramids, as well as the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, just to name a few. These graphics reinforce the choices that are the foundation of a healthy diet.

Basic principles of a healthy diet

Symbols, such as a pyramid, illustrate how the pieces of a healthy diet fit together. The base of the pyramid is typically made up of foods that should be the bulk of your healthy diet. In contrast, foods you should eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown in the smaller sections of the pyramid. The same principle applies to the dinner plate — half of the plate consists of fruits and vegetables, which should be the bulk of your diet.

Of course, no single food provides all of the nutrients that your body needs, so the idea is to eat a variety of foods from each group in the proper proportions to get all the necessary nutrients and other substances that promote good health.

In addition, most healthy-diet plans emphasize the following:

  • Eat more plant foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Choose lean protein from a variety of sources.
  • Limit sweets and salt.
  • Control portion sizes.
  • Be physically active.

Variations among healthy diet plans

Most healthy diets are built on the same general principles, but there are key differences that reflect dietary preferences, food availability and cultural eating patterns. For example, the Latin American Diet Pyramid might mention tortillas and cornmeal, whereas the Asian Diet Pyramid might include noodles and rice.

Other differences include:

  • Food groups. The food groups among healthy-diet plans vary somewhat. For example, some versions have plant-based proteins — soybeans, beans and nuts — in a separate group from animal proteins found in meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. This is because animal proteins are often higher in fat and cholesterol, and some diets limit or exclude animal proteins.
  • Serving recommendations. Healthy-eating plans also vary in the recommended servings of each food group. The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, for example, recommends a daily number of servings from each food group. Other plans offer more-general guidelines, such as eating particular foods at every meal, or on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid recommends that you eat whole grains, vegetables and fruits at every meal.

Putting the pyramid — or plate — to work for you

To see how your eating habits match up to these healthy-diet plans, keep a food diary for several days. Then compare how much of your diet comes from the various groups. You may be surprised by the results. To eat healthier, start with gradual changes, such as eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and limiting fats and sweets.

Here are a few more tips to help you adopt healthier eating habits:

  • Choose a variety of foods. This ensures that you get all of the calories, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need. Choosing a wide range of foods also helps make your meals and snacks more interesting.
  • Adapt the plan to your preferences. For example, a serving of grains doesn’t only mean a slice of bread. It can be wild rice, whole-wheat pasta, grits, bulgur, cornmeal muffins or even popcorn. If you need to avoid milk because of lactose intolerance, try yogurt (lower in lactose) or fortified soy milk instead.
  • Combine foods any way you like. For example, you might make a meal of tortillas (grain group) and beans (meat and beans group). Or you could top your fish with fruit salsa or serve steamed vegetables over pasta. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Remember to be creative and go for good taste. A variety of healthy-eating plans are available, so why not try a few on for size? You can explore the world’s cuisines and improve your diet at the same time.

 

Information sourced from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-diet/NU00190

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Beetroot Salad

October 10, 2012

Serves 2

1 Protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch baby beetroot, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup low joule balsamic dressing
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 small red onion sliced into wedges
  • 180 g reduced fat fetta

Directions:

  1. Wrap beetroot in foil then bake in hot oven 200 C for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel off skin then cut into quarters.
  2. Place in a salad bowl then pour over dressing add greens then toss.
  3. Crumble fetta over salad and season with freshly ground pepper.

 

Spring…the Perfect Time to Detox

October 9, 2012
Spring Detox Discover the basics of how to cleanse, boost metabolism, optimize digestion and eat to lose weight and boost energy.

I am often asked about the benefits of fasting in order to improve health, reduce inflammation and optimize digestion. For the majority of people, I am not an advocate of fasting. Most people do not have the proper blood sugar control to fast and end up feeling dizzy, hungry and may even find it difficult to participate in everyday activities. Part one of the natural spring detox series focuses on cleansing, not fasting. Why cleanse you ask? In essence, digestion is one of the major keys to health and wellness. By following a cleanse filled with high fibre and nutrient-dense foods, you give your body the opportunity to “clean out the pipes.” When thinking of doing a cleanse or a detox, I recommend a five-day period from Monday to Friday. Weekends are often a more difficult time to make nutritional changes. If following the recommendations properly, you should not feel hungry or deprived while cleansing. There will be enough selection of low glycemic index, high-fibre foods to fill you up and keep you going.

The key steps for the five-day cleanse outlined in The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2005) include:

1. Eliminate coffee. When public speaking, I often hear audible groans from the audience when I recommend eliminating coffee for five days. Coffee is acidic, a diuretic and can often make you feel shaky when cleansing. Instead of coffee, I recommend drinking herbal tea, green tea or white tea for the antioxidant effect and to help you get rid of any coffee withdrawal headaches. In addition, I always say if there is something in your diet you are so addicted to that you can’t give it up for five days — that is a clear sign to give it up!

2. Eat an abundant amount of colourful foods. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, filled with minerals, vitamins and plant chemicals called phytonutrients that prevent and even help treat disease. My motto has always been “eat live to feel live!” From tomatoes to broccoli and blueberries — fruits and vegetables are low glycemic index and will help to sustain energy while flushing the system.

3. Eat lean protein options such as egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish and soy at every meal or snack. Proteins secrete the hormone glucagon which helps in fat loss. Avoid red meat and dairy for 5 days.

4. Supplement your diet with a high quality multi-vitamin, fish oils supplement and probiotic such as acidophilus. Acidophilus is “friendly” bacteria that helps to maintain a healthy digestive microflora. Healthy digestion and absorption is one of the main keys to looking and feeling your best.

5. Add essential fats and oils — such as flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds — to your diet for their anti-inflammatory effect.

6. Drink eight glasses of water per day. Fresh clean water aids with elimination, helps to boost metabolism, gives you a “full” feeling longer and helps to keep energy up.

It is best to give your body a mini five-day cleanse at the beginning of each season. Although not a drastic change in diet, the 5 days will take some planning and focus in order to eat right. By doing so, you will be paving the path for a spring full of health and vitality!

To continue the theme of springtime internal cleaning, the second part of our series focuses on nourishing from the inside out with high quality, nutrient-dense foods. Although the latest diets and fads are constantly hitting the weight-loss market and causing some confusion about what and how to eat, there are four basic nutritional principles that need to be kept in mind in order to eat well, feel well and look your best.

The nourish principles are:
1. You are what you eat!
2. Your body requires all three macronutrients — carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
3. You need to eat live to feel live.
4. Water yourself down.

Principle 1: You are what you eat!
To quote nutritionist and author Adele Davis, “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.”
This statement touches upon a deep truth. Although we are of course much more than the sandwich and soup we had at lunch, the quality and quantity of our food choices can have a major influence on our mind and body. We all have a very deep-rooted emotional and chemical relationship to food. Picking higher quality nutritional choices such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products etc., can improve overall wellness and help to prevent the onset of future disease and illness.

Principle 2: Your body requires all three macronutrients
The three macronutrients that are the mainstay of the diet, and that the body requires as its primary sources of energy, are: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. While micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are equally as important, the body only requires them in smaller amounts.
Unfortunately, due to a myriad of diets and health claims such as low fat, high protein and low calorie, people often try to eliminate or greatly minimize one of the macronutrients in an attempt to lose weight. In truth, when looking closer at the weight loss research, it is evident that all macronutrients are required for optimal weight and health. The key is to select the right kind of macronutrients from each category, such as:

1. Low glycemic index carbohydrates
These include most fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain breads or pastas (kamut, spelt). Eliminate all white sugar, refined flours, white potatoes, white bread and white pasta. Try to have a minimum of one dark green food per day (broccoli, spinach) and one orange food (carrots, squash, sweet potato).

2. Lean proteins
Low-fat dairy products, chicken, fish, soy, protein powder, eggs, turkey and lean beef are included here. Minimize full-fat red meat and cheese in the diet. Proteins are a critical factor in muscle repair, blood sugar control and weight loss.

3. The “good” fats
These include monounsaturated fats such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocados. Essential fats called omega 3 fats should be consumed because the body can’t make them. This includes options such as flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts, cold water fish (salmon and tuna) and fish oil. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory and help to improve the look of skin, hair and nails. Eliminate trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated fats) from the diet completely.

Principle 3: You need to eat live to feel live
As an adult, you need a minimum of five to nine servings of colourful fruits and vegetables per day for optimal health and wellness. Not only do fruits and vegetables contain an abundant amount of minerals and vitamins, they also provide a rich blend of phytonutrients — plant chemicals that can prevent and even reverse disease. Examples of phytonutrients are lycopene in tomatoes, sulfurophane in broccoli and flavonoids in dark chocolate, berries and grapes. What does a serving look like? One serving is equal to:
• One medium-size fruit
• 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
• 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
• 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
• 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
• 1/4 cup dried fruit

Principle 4: Water yourself down
After a thorough food analysis, I often hear myself saying to clients, “You’re not sick, you’re thirsty!” The body relies on water for proper elimination, for optimal digestion and for basic cellular function. Without it, a myriad of symptoms can arise such as constipation, lack of energy, poor skin, and weight gain. Nutritional changes often take time and focus. That said, by simply increasing your consumption of water per day in the form of distilled water, herbal teas or watered down juice, you will jumpstart your internal spring cleaning process!
Other high quality, nutrient-dense foods that are considered “treats” but can be included in the diet on a regular basis — in moderation — are red wine and dark chocolate squares (70% cocoa).
We have all heard the old adage, “you are what you eat.” With that in mind, I would like to expand on that adage to include, “you also look how you eat!” I have been lucky enough to witness the “before” and “after” changes that take place when people take charge and clean up their diet. When this happens, there is a certain “sparkle” and radiance that only comes from health and wellness.

With that in mind, part 3 of the springtime cleansing series focuses on moisturizing hair and skin naturally. When thinking of moisturizing, most of us conjure up an image of creams for youthful looking skin and conditioners for soft hair. However, the type of moisturizing I am referring to is an internal process that involves food and supplements. What are the foods that can help you look 10 years younger?
Essential for your health
When it comes to fat, there are good fats and bad fats. The bad fats that should be eliminated from the diet are chemically-created fats called trans fatty acids (also known as partially hydrogenated fats). While food manufactures tend to like these fats because they extend product shelf life and are very stable, our body does not like them at all. In fact, these fats can raise cholesterol, create havoc on arteries and may even be linked to certain cancers. In other words — keep them out of your diet completely.
Other types of fats to minimize due to their pro-inflammatory reaction in the body are saturated fats such as those found in full-fat cheeses, ice cream and red meat. Eat these foods on occasion, not as staples of the diet.
The fats that are a must to moisturize skin, hair and nails from the inside out are called essential fatty acids. These fats cannot be made by the body and must be consumed through diet. Specifically, the essential fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid or omega 3 essential fat has been shown to have numerous health benefits including:
• reducing inflammation
• reducing risk of heart disease
• lowering cholesterol
• improving mood and attention
• improving skin
Unfortunately, most  Australians are chronically deficient in this “good” fat. While the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat is approximately 1:1, most of us have a ratio between 20:1 and 30:1.
Omega 3 sources
Omega-3 fat is available in several food sources, such as flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, cold-water fish (tuna and salmon), omega-3 eggs, nuts (almonds, walnuts) and seeds. However, it is often difficult to consume enough food sources to receive an ideal amount of omega-3. In addition, the safety of eating fish such as salmon and tuna has come under investigation recently. Although fish is a wonderful source of protein, selenium, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fat, the level of toxicity showing in up our waters and fish is disconcerting. For example, Health Canada has recently set guidelines on the limits of white albacore tuna that should be eaten due to high mercury levels. This does not mean that tuna needs to be eliminated from the diet, but it should not be overly consumed. For more information, click here. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
In addition to eating omega 3 rich foods, a daily supplement of distilled fish oil is also advisable.
Tips to boost your omega 3 intake and improve your skin
• Sprinkle some walnuts on your salad or put almonds in your morning yogurt
• Purchase omega 3 eggs instead of regular egg. Omega 3 eggs contain approximately 300 mg of omega 3
• Supplement with a fish oil daily
• Eat fish twice per week
• Use 1 tsp of flaxseed oil in your morning shake — store oil in fridge
When it comes to these healthy fats, think “sprinkling.” Fats have more than twice the calories of proteins and carbohydrates and do not need to be eaten in the same quantity.

The fourth and final part of our detox series has little to do with what you are eating, but rather focuses on how you are eating. When practiced, certain food behaviours can have dramatic positive effects on weight loss, digestion and overall health. Simply implement the recommendations below for a mere two weeks and you will make a positive difference on your health.
The food behaviours outlined below emphasize consciousness eating. Unfortunately, in today’s rushed and busy world, we have become accustomed to eating in a hurry and dining out on fast food. This practice promotes excess eating and mindlessly munching on the wrong types of foods. In essence, a detachment from our true hunger signal occurs and our health and weight suffer.

The four steps to consciousness eating to improve health and wellness are:
Step 1. Eat breakfast!
Research has shown us time and time again that people who front load their day and eat breakfast are healthier, have more energy and lose more weight in the long run. While breakfast skippers think they are saving on calories and losing weight, they are in fact doing the opposite. I often hear people lament that they are not hungry in the morning and could not possibly eat. Keep in mind, you do not have to eat within minutes of rising out of bed. However, it is advisable to eat a small amount of healthy food options before going to work or school within 1-2 hours of rising. Examples of healthy breakfast options include:
• Protein shake
• Cottage cheese, fruit and nuts
• Yogurt, fruit and nuts
• Egg white omelet
• Poached egg with whole grain toast
• All-bran cereal with milk

Step 2. Eat until you are sufficiently sufficed, not stuffed
Most of us gobble down our meals within 5-10 minutes. In addition to not digesting and chewing our food properly, this fast pace of eating does not give the body the time to register a “full sensation.” In fact, it takes approximately 20 minutes for the stretch receptor to reach the brain and register a signal that you are satiated. Try to slow down your meal by chewing your food well, using your utensils, talking to your family. By making mealtime last a minimum of 20 minutes, you will feel fuller, and therefore consume less calories.

Step 3. Do not count calories for life
When first beginning to lose weight, most people follow a program or a plan to take the pounds off. While there are many good programs on the market, I have seen too many people fall off their program, only to gain the weight back. This is why 90 to 95 per cent of all dieters eventually gain the weight back. Don’t misunderstand — there are many wonderful weight loss books, programs, etc., on the market that can help with the initial weight that needs to be lost. However, in addition to this, it is also critical to become a student of nutrition. This is essential when you fall off your program (which you will at one point or another), because you will have the basic fundamental nutritional skills to climb back onto the heath wagon without feelings of deprivation. As one of the most powerful tools we have for health and disease prevention, learning the basics of nutrition is one of the most valuable assets you can offer yourself and your family. Keep in mind that any diet that overly restricts the intake of calories, carbohydrates or fats is not a sustainable diet.

Step 4. Do not eat past 7p.m.
When implementing behavioural changes, those related to food are often the hardest to make. That being said, it is often difficult for people to change their habit of late-night eating. Unfortunately, the pattern of skipping breakfast, eating a fast food lunch and a late night dinner of pasta, bread and other starches is a one-way ticket to weight gain and fatigue. Instead of falling into this vicious cycle, try to eat dinner no later than 7p.m. In addition, dinner is the perfect meal to maximize protein and vegetables and put less emphasis on grains. If you do eat a grain, try to select whole grain breads, pastas or brown rice. If the urge to munch does creep up later in the evening, satiate the feeling by munching on “free foods” such as cucumbers, celery or broccoli florets. In addition, drinking herbal tea or water helps to fill you up and cut down on sugar cravings.
Wishing you a healthy and happy road filled with delicious and healthy food options. Bon appetite!

Information sourced from: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=1200830