A HEALTHIER YOU AND ME

While watching a Criminal Minds marathon a few days ago, I spent some hours working on the recipes that go into my 3-ring binders; I am often nonplussed over some of the finds in the box—and came across an article that appeared in the January, 2008, issue of Woman’s Day—I want to share a brief explanation of some of these–along with my thoughts:

The first is “8 YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD DO BUT DON’T –

EAT BREAKFAST—author Anna Routos writes that “Study after study shows that people who eat a morning meal are more energized, focused and weigh less..” she adds that an ideal choice is oatmeal with nonfat milk and fresh fruit such as blueberries or strawberries mixed in. (I’ve been eating my favorite cereals for breakfast, with a few frozen blueberries that thaw out quickly—when I have bacon on hand and fry some slices—I end up giving most of it to the dogs, a little bit crumbled over their dry kibble is a big treat.)

BONE UP – try a calcium supplement every day. That I do.

GET YOUR THREE-A-DAY of whole grains—this can cut your risk of heart disease by more than 35%. Good sources include oatmeal and brown rice.

MILK IT—it’s a great source of calcium as well as vitamin D, which recent research shows may help you live longer; it’s also linked to a lower risk of some cancers. I have been consuming milk with cereal but I really love low fat milk made into tapioca or chocolate pudding).

HYDRATE—and take it from the tap. We’re missing out on cavity-preventing fluoride since we’ve started drinking all that bottled H2O. (This isn’t something I ever stopped to consider—I keep bottled water on hand all the time since moving to the Antelope Valley—but I use tap water to make coffee or tea. Does that count?

DO A SHOT of sunscreen—you need a full shot glass to cover your entire body, and one teaspoon for your face to fully protect against skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. (*This was such an eye opener—I generally spritz sunscreen on my arms and neck but never use it on my face; I only spread sunscreen on my legs when I am wearing shorts!

LUNCH ON SALAD – it’s an easy way to get at least two servings of vegetables in one shot, says Molly Morgan, R.D. Be sure to toss in the brightly colored ones which are highest in disease-fighting antioxidants. Try tomatoes, red and green peppers and broccoli.

FLOSS- gum disease increases your risk of various conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. (I have dentures so flossing isn’t something that I do).

The next “tips” are 6 NON-NEGOTIABLES –means vitally important—maybe put the list on your refrigerator door as a constant reminder. They are:

KNOW YOUR “BIG SEVEN” – Your weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and blood sugar. These are the most crucial indicators of good health and disease risk—if any of these fall outside the healthy range, work with your doctor to get them under control.

TAKE YOUR FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY – Many diseases have a hereditary component, and your doctor may want to watch you more closely for conditions that run in your family. (My younger sister had a bout with breast cancer about two years ago and our older sister died in 2004 from complications arising from breast cancer that was not diagnosed early—after a mammogram in 2013, the doctor suggested some additional tests I should undergo, such as a breast MRI, since now there is history of breast cancer in my family.

We also discovered that some of us in my family have something called Factor 5, which is a blood disorder. We learned this when a niece in my family had a stillborn baby. My family doctor thought it unlikely I could have it—but guess what? I tested positive for this condition; one of my younger brothers also has it. My hematologist said quite frankly that it runs in my father’s side of the family. It could also explain three miscarriages I had n my child-bearing years. Both of my sisters have had miscarriages as well).

MEASURE YOUR WAIST MONTHLY – In women, if it’s over 25 inches, you’re at a higher risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, regardless of your weight. GET AN ANNUAL MAMMOGRAM starting at age 40, along with a yearly clinical breast exam and a periodic breast self-exam, it’s the best way to catch breast cancer in its early, most treatable stages.(who knew this about measuring your waist? not I!)

ASK FOR AN HPV TEST – Along with your Pap, it screens for the human papillomavirus which is directly linked to cervical cancer.

DO A FULL-BODY MOLE CHECK on yourself monthly, and get one yearly at the dermatologist. If you notice any that are new, changed or bleeding, see a dermatologist ASAP.

And finally—8 YOU CAN NOW COUNT AS HEALTHY

Nibble before dinner – having about 70 calories of healthy fat 20 minutes before you eat—that’ six walnuts, 12 almonds or 20 peanuts—can trick you into thinking you’re full faster. This works because good fats stimulate the production of a hormone that sends the signal to your brain that you’ve eaten enough.

HAVE PIZZA NIGHT – pizza is often dismissed as unhealthy but if you use whole wheat crust and lowfat cheese, and pile on the veggies (skipping the pepperoni and ground beef) its one the most nutritionally sound meals around. (the trick here, I think—is making your own pizza from scratch!)

JUICE IT UP – so long to its reputation as a sugar and calorie bomb. Research has found that drinking fruit and vegetable drinks can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 76% and help lower cholesterol. Just make sure you go for 100% juice (and read labels carefully)

PUT PASTA ON THE MENU – just make sure you choose multigrain varieties!

DRINK A FRUITY COCKTAIL – Research shows that alcohol can increase the level of antioxidants in certain fruits, including strawberries and blackberries (who knew?)

EXPRESS YOURSELF – When people write affectionately about their close friends and family in three 20 minute sessions, their cholesterol dropped an average of eleven points! (Another who knew?!–I wonder if posting on your blog counts?)

GO SHOPPING! –Buying something as small as a lipstick can give your mood a lift plus you can burn off up to 160 calories walking around the mall(as always, be sure to choose a parking spot in the last row. (I don’t like to shop and only go to the mall when I have someone along with me. My shopping is pretty much confined to Quartz Hill and Lancaster—so I’m guilty of not doing this.)

DO THE DISHES—increasing light physical activity such as washing dishes and ironing—can lower blood glucose levels and may reduce the risk of diabetes according to research in the Journal DIABETES CARE. (Well, I wash dishes all the time, not having a dish washer( AM the dish washer) – and I iron only when I absolutely have to—I remember only all too well the hours spent doing ironing before permanent press came along—hours of ironing every week when I was still living at home with my parents. I did the ironing for the entire family with the exception of my father’s bowling shirts–But some of these tips may help all of us—and don’t do any ironing unless you absolutely have to!

–Sandra Lee Smith

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