Thursday, January 5, 2012

5 Suggestions for Health in the New Year

It appears that at least weight management advertisers think everyone is making weight loss a New Year's resolution.  Every channel seems to be offering great deals to join their weight loss program.  Weight loss, while a worthwhile goal, is a secondary concern.  It is somewhat like addressing only a symptom, while the cause goes unaddressed.  The primary concern should be pursuing better and stronger health.  Weak or non-existent lifestyle habits are never sustain you in the long run.  So, consider the following five foundational lifestyle suggestions:
  1. Exercise.  I'm sorry to give thee bad news.  There is no substitute.  Laziness is one of those acquired lifestyle habits that saps your strength, saps your lean body mass, saps your cardiovascular health, saps your motivation, and feeds back reproducing more laziness until your backside won't fit into a theater seat.  If laziness and lethargy is your problem -- start simply with the resolution to combat being lazy.  Intentionally park your car farther from the door EVERY time, the farther the better.  Take stairs, not elevators or escalators.  Take a long route on foot, rather than the shortest.  Make multiple single trips to pick up and put away clutter in the house. Hang large rubber exercise bands on the door knobs in your house and make a rule to pick them up and stretch a few times as a toll for going through that doorway.  Now, if you WANT to take out a gym membership and GO to the gym nobody is stopping you there!
  2. Drink Water.  Water is the largest single constituent in your body.  Circulating fresh water through yourself.  Think of it this way: water keeps your radiator from clogging up.  Lots of water everyday provides the following benefits: it helps you get more exercise (running to the bathroom where there is a exercise band means your bladder becomes your exercise trainer!); improves the filtration function of the kidneys so more toxins get flushed; and it keeps your skin toned.  Eliminate all sugary or artificially sweetened drinks.  Drink water.  Using some lemon in your water improves taste and gives a hint of Vitamin C.
  3. Pray, meditate and journal.  Take some time daily - 10-20 minutes - to sit quietly and ask yourself how you are doing spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Use a journal as the voice back to yourself from whichever aspect of your being you want to converse.  For example, imagine yourself as your body -- what would it like to say to you?  What things come up as being a priority for you to pay attention to today?  If you think of your body as the Temple of God (cf. I Corinthians 3:16), or the place in which God resides, how could you honor God's house more?
  4. Avoid sugars and processed foods.  This is another place where laziness and convenience drags you down the primrose path to health destruction.  You HAVE to cook your meals using real food ingredients!  just throwing prepared foods into the microwave or oven opens the door for poor nutrition - high bad fat, simple carbohydrates (sugar), and high sodium -- with little redeeming value.  A diet leaning more heavily toward salads and vegetables is going to raise your nutrition profile substantially. 
  5. Maintain Elimination Pathways.  Everything that goes in has to come out.  Toxins accumulate and negatively impact your health if all the elimination pathways are not working.  The four elimination pathways include urination, bowel movements, breathing, and sweating.  Bowel movements should take place daily; getting 25-35 gm of fiber a day helps enormously.  Exercise or hot baths induce sweating and more breathing.  Water intake facilitates urination. 
These five foundational suggestions cut to the chase for better health.  All five of them done more days than not will reduce your weight, reduce cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, keep good brain health, increase motivation & ambition, and increase your pride and self-esteem.

NatureWords for your body, peace for your soul,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

5 Suggestions for Blood Sugar Control

Okay, so now that the holidays are all finished up, all the crazy amounts of food have been eaten, and you have eaten up enough comfort food leftovers to stuff your guilt in some new creases, let's talk about getting blood sugars under control.  Your first question might be, "Why?"  Blood sugar, also called glucose, is an essential substance for life.  It is used to create energy in every cell in the body.  If you ate absolutely no sugar or carbohydrates of any kind, the redundant biochemical systems in the body have made alternatives available for converting fat and protein to glucose.  Glucose is that important.  However, it is almost equally essential for glucose concentration in the blood to be kept in a fairly narrow range.  Too much glucose damages tissues, feeds cancer cells, and leads to high cholesterol and obesity - all fatal outcomes.  Too little glucose and one gets shaky and faint, one's brain shuts down, a person can fall into a coma, and even die.

So here are five suggestions to help you stay within a healthy blood sugar range.

1.  Eliminate sugars from your diet.  It doesn't matter whether the sugar is called sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, or corn syrup they all lead to increased glucose levels in the blood stream.  Eliminating sugar will not lower your glucose too much as the body will manufacture glucose if needed from fats and protein.

2.  Exercise.  Exercise requires more cellular energy so it increases cellular demand for glucose.  The best glucose in the body is that being utilized in cells for making energy, not just circulating around with nowhere to go.  There are also good indications that exercise pushes the innate blood sugar regulation systems within the body to function more efficiently.

3. Eat Protein.  Eating smaller meals more frequently with a source of protein at each will help stabilize glucose.  As mentioned above, protein can be converted to glucose; this process takes time.  Protein acts as a sustained release glucose and minimizes blood sugar spikes from too much glucose entering the blood stream all at once.  (Note: if you have any kind of impaired kidney function see your doctor before doing any kind of high protein diet.)

4.  Supplements that stabilize blood sugar include: chromium, magnesium, vanadium, alpha lipoic acid, gemnema sylvestre, and bitter melon, 

5.  Increase fiber intake.  Fiber reduces the speed with which glucose gets absorbed.  20-30 gm a day is a healthy amount; take it with meals so that glucose absorption is slowed.