A Healthy You Starts With Food

As I was walking in the park today I happened to notice an overweight man puffing through the park, obviously in a hurry. He was sweating and red in the face and he was shoving what looked like the remains of a street vendor hotdog down his throat.
I stopped to sit on a bench for a bit and started paying attention to the other pedestrians enjoying the sunny fall day. As I watched I saw another man, older then the first one, walking his terrier and eating a pretzel. You know what I’m talking about? Those huge ones that you dip in cheese sauce? As I watched him I noticed two things. One he was overweight. Two, so was his dog. I guess walking and eating junk doesn’t work. For man or beast!

I scanned the park looking for one person who was eating something healthy, and there she was. The woman every man dreams about. She was dressed as a business woman, but that didn’t hide the fact that she had a greatly toned and fit body. I tried to see what she was eating, but her bench was a ways down from mine. As nonchalantly as I could, I walked to her way. I just knew she was going to be eating something healthy and sure enough, there she was with a bag of carrots, almonds and celery. I tried not to stare, but I had to. She was eating those vegetables as if they were pieces of chocolate! She was enjoying them!

Before she could yell stalker, I continued my walk through the park, but my mind wasn’t interested in the surroundings anymore. I was thinking about what people eat and how it shapes who they are.
It seemed that anybody I saw who looked to be in good shape was eating or drinking something healthy. Those who were overweight or just had a flabby and unhealthy look to them, were eating some type of junk food.

A walk for exercise is a great thing; any type of exercise is a great thing. But if you’re not eating healthy then none of that matters.
A good balance of grains, wheat, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meats is the healthiest way to eat. Need to eat on the run? Keep granola, yogurt and fresh cut veggies handy. You don’t need to go hungry to be healthy — in fact, that is very unhealthy! You just need to find the right balance.

A perfect plated meal should look like this:
Half of your plate should be full of fruit, vegetables or a salad
A quarter of your plate should be a lean protein, such as fish or chicken
The remaining quarter should contain a healthy carb, such as whole wheat rice
Top your meal off with fat free milk and your full AND healthy!

Recharge Tip #3: Breathing Techniques

In my final installment on recharge techniques, I’m going to focus on breathing techniques. Now, don’t underestimate the power of breathing techniques in helping us to reduce stress and relax. There’s more to breathing techniques than just breathing in and out. There is an art to it!

We can deliberately change the way we breathe, in order to achieve certain outcomes. And this is testified by the fact that many disciplines draw upon the power of breathing and its healing benefits. For example, Tai Chi, Yoga and certain forms of meditation testify to the healing benefits of breathing.

According to holistic practitioners, the link between the physical body and spiritual mind is breath.

So, let’s take a look at what’s the big deal with breathing techniques.

What breathing techniques can do for us
By controlling the way we breathe through the application of breathing techniques, we can help a range of conditions including:

Stress
Anxiety
Chronic pain
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Insomnia
High blood pressure
Panic attacks
Skin conditions including eczema

The way we breathe can relax us
When we are stressed, the breathing seems to happen in our upper chest. Our rate of breathing is fast and we take small, shallow breaths. As we breathe under stress, our shoulders tend to move up and down, rather than an abdomen.

And when we are under stress and breathing accordingly, we exacerbate stress symptoms including headaches, fatigue, heart palpitations, tingling throughout the body, chest tightness and the like. And during this sort of breathing, we empty our blood stream of too much carbon dioxide.

If we are relaxed, our breathing is through our nose and is even and gentle. We breathe and our abdomen moves up and down. If we deliberately change our stressful breathing to a relaxed breathing pattern, we inevitably calm ourselves. That shows how powerful breathing is.

The benefits of breathing in a relaxed way

By breathing in a relaxed way we can:

Lower our heart rate
Lower our blood pressure
Reduce the amount of stress hormones our body produces
Balance our blood’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels
Reduce the buildup of lactic acid in our muscles
Feel calm and a sense of wellbeing
Increase our physical energy
Improve the functioning of our immune system

How to start benefiting with breathing techniques
Set aside 10-20 minutes and make sure you won’t be disturbed. Set an alarm to signal the end of the 10-20 minutes you set aside for this time.

Choose somewhere that is comfortable and quite, and sit in a comfortable chair or on the floor and follow this process:

Make yourself comfortable in your sitting position
Lift your rib cage by sitting up straight to expand your chest
Place one hand on your chest and your other hand on your abdomen
Notice your upper chest and abdomen moving up and down as your breathe
Focus on your breath
Breathe in and out through your nose gently
As you breathe your upper chest and tummy should remain still, while your diaphragm works with your abdomen to breathe – and less so with your chest

For more helpful techniques to help you relax through breathing, chat with your doctor. You can also book yourself in for meditation lessons to learn more about how to relax that way.

Start getting in the habit of relaxing and recharging today. You will feel so much more energized and younger. Do this with a healthy diet and physical exercise and you’re well on your way to feeling great and looking great for longer!

Recharge Tip #2: Massage

Now if there’s one activity that can really help you rest, relax and recharge it’s massage. Humans have been relaxing with massage since the ancient times, and it is one of the world’s oldest methods of healing.

From the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians to the Indians and Chinese, massage and relaxation have gone hand in hand. And in this article I’m going to show you how massage can help you achieve the level of physical health and wellbeing that you want.

Oh, and because it’s going to help your physical health and wellbeing, it’s just another way you can slow the aging process.

Why massage is so good for us
Massage involves the manipulation of the skin for the purpose of healing and relaxation. And because the largest organ in our body is the skin – which has nerve endings all the way through it – massage is very effective in healing us.

Through the gentle manipulation of the skin, massage will sooth soft tissue and relax us. Muscle tension is eradicated and the pain cycle is often broken through that.

Massage can benefit us in so many ways by:

Reducing tension in the muscles;
Stimulating the lymphatic system;
Improving circulation;
Improving skin tone;
Reducing stress hormones;
Increasing the rate of soft tissue healing;
Reducing depression and anxiety; and
Improving our mental alertness.

The types of massage
There are many different types of massage that can help you, and they include:

Therapeutic: This really popular style of massage is also known as “Swedish” or “Western” massage. It helps with relaxation and improves blood circulation.
Shiatsu: It has oriental origins and focuses on certain points of the body – similar to acupuncture, but massage.
Remedial: This massage focuses on healing soft tissues – muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Aromatherapy: A massage style where essential oils from plants and flowers are added to massage oil because of their therapeutic properties. Aids in relaxation.
Sports: Massage techniques to aid in performance and help with muscle recovery.
Reflexology: This style of massage focuses on the feet, with a view to healing other parts of the body.

Baby massage is also available and can help infants suffering from colic, constipation and sleep problems.

Massage is extremely beneficial, but pregnant women, people with skin irritations (rashes, cuts, etc) and broken bones should not seek massage therapy.

Benefit from massage today
Talk to your doctor about what you would like to get out of massage therapy, and see what they recommend. Alternatively, you can contact the massage association in your area to discuss your needs and get a referral.

Massage can benefit just about anybody, but talk to a professional before you start out.

Why not experience a massage for yourself? You’ll know why it’s so good once you get started!

In my next article, I’ll reveal the third recharge tip I recommend for total relaxation and rest.

Recharge Tip #1: Sleep

For the next three articles I’m going to concentrate on three really great tips to help you to recharge. Now as you know, your body needs time to rest, rejuvenate and recharge. It’s absolutely essential – even when you are eating a healthy balanced diet and getting a good dose of physical exercise.

That’s because when you rest and recharge, your body gets to work to keep healthy. Cells are replaced, viruses and infections are flushed out and your body almost becomes new again.

The first important recharge tip that I will discuss here in this article is sleep.

Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is of critical importance to our physical health and wellbeing and it’s for the following reasons:

When we sleep, our brain recharges: During this time neurons are repaired.
Parts of the brain reset: A fine tuning of synaptic connections happens and the brain will sort information and discard information not needed. It stops us from overloading ourselves.
Our heart and lungs relax: There is a reduction in blood pressure and our heart rate drops.
It gives the body a chance to repair: The body will replace chemicals and repair other parts of the body that need it – muscles, tissues, aging or dead cells.
It can strengthen the immune system
Growth hormone is released during sleep: For children and young adults still growing, the growth hormone is released during sleep.

On the whole, a good quality sleep for the right amount of time refreshes us. We wake up energetic in the morning and ready for action. We also function on all cylinders after a good night sleep.

If we don’t get enough sleep:

We can experience memory loss, slower reaction time, greater stress and irritability.
By losing only one hour of sleep, our chances of having a car accident increase 7-8%.
If we lose 15 minutes of quality sleep, we can lose 15% of efficiency.
Our wellbeing plummets because of greater stress and depression associated with that.

At least 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, with around 60 per cent of adults in America having sleep problems several nights each week.

That’s compared to 69 per cent of children suffering from sleep problems several nights each week.

How to sleep well
Because sleep is so important to our health and wellbeing, I recommend:

Getting into a sleep routine: Do this every day. The same bed time and get up time every day. Even on weekends.
Have a dark room: Light can interrupt your sleep.
Don’t go to bed too hungry or too full: This will stop you from getting the sleep you need. Wait at least three hours after dinner, before sleep.
Make sure you’re comfortable: Make sure your neck and back are comfortable for sleep.
Make sure you maintain your mattress: Turn it over every few months and aim to replace after 5-7 years of using it regularly. Make sure your mattress is comfortable – no sore necks or backs or it might be time to replace it.
Exercise: If you are too sedentary and don’t exercise enough, chances are it’s interfering with your sleep. Regular exercise – at least 3 days per week – will help you have a better quality sleep. Don’t exercise just before bed though!

So there you have it! Tips to help you sleep better and feel much better for it!

In my next article I’ll share my second recharge tip for you.

Keeping the Other Bad Stuff in Check!

Just when you thought we’d tackled the bad stuff we consume, I’m going to hit you up with that other big list of things that we consume that can create problems for us.

I’m talking here of course about this nasty little bunch:

Caffeine;
Alcohol;
Cigarettes; and
Other drugs.

I’m going to show you why they’re so bad for us when it comes to the aging process, and provide you with tips to keep them in check.

Caffeine
Why it’s bad
Now I know you probably love your daily caffeine fix, but allow me to give you the low down on caffeine. Caffeine is a drug that is literally adding years to our lives and deteriorating our health. Read that again if you have to.

This is because caffeine actually triggers that mechanism in our body that creates stress. It turns the stress button on. It’s all thanks to the activation of stress hormones, including cortisol – which is a catalyst in the aging process. Caffeine can also increase blood pressure, our risk of heart disease, it increases cholesterol, our heartbeat and it can also increase our risk of heart attack. It has also been found to harden our arteries. Unfortunately, caffeine robs us of essential minerals – and our bodies work a lot harder to absorb minerals as we age. Caffeine makes it worse, so we become even more nutrient deficient. Add to this the fact that it is a diuretic and results in us urinating more, we lose way too much sodium, calcium and magnesium. This is why our osteoporosis risk goes up. It even affects our memory and cognition as we age.

How to prevent it from happening
Either cut right down on caffeine or cut it out altogether. Now, it takes hard work! I recommend you gradually cut caffeine out of your daily diet, rather than cut it out cold turkey from day one. By cutting it out cold turkey right away, you increase your chances of never kicking the habit.

If you don’t think you can cut it out though, I recommend you be disciplined with your intake. Be sensible! Everything in moderation!

Alcohol
Why it’s bad
Now alcohol is quite scary in its impact on aging. It can bring about a condition called accelerated aging, where the symptoms of aging appear in an individual earlier than usual. It can also cause what is called exaggerated aging, where a person shows signs of aging at the expected time, but in a more exaggerated way.

So why? Well alcohol is a powerful neurotoxin which means it can accelerate aging or cause premature aging of the brain. That’s what the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found. Of course, this is more so in individuals who consume excessive amounts of alcohol. These individuals are likely to experience conditions such as hippocampus where the nerve cells degenerate and premature aging due to chronic stress and heavy alcohol consumption.

How to prevent that from happening
First and foremost, if you have a dependency upon alcohol, it is a problem and you do need to acknowledge that and get help. There is no shame in getting help and you will literally get your life back when you do.

If you drink a little too much alcohol, I recommend cutting back and being sensible. Again, moderation is the key here. Alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation.

If you are happily alcohol free, that’s great! You can enjoy the anti-aging benefits of staying away from alcohol!

Cigarettes
Why it’s bad
Come on! We all know the health problems and risks associated with smoking, but even so, nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Some say it is even harder to quit than heroin. Either way, it’s an extremely bad habit to have and it will accelerate the aging process. It speeds up the process of aging. People who smoke look older, their skin much more wrinkled, their teeth badly stained, more often than not their hair goes gray sooner, their hair thins and some people even experience hair loss as a result. Smokers also have a greater risk of developing a skin condition called psoriasis which looks terrible and causes itching and burning.

And that’s just what happens on the outside. You have heard all about what smoking does to you internally. It increases your risk of many cancers, it hardens your arteries, increases your risk of stroke, emphysema, heart attack and heart disease. There are so many health problems that smoking can cause, but quite scary is the belief that every cigarette shortens your life by five minutes.

How to prevent it from happening
It’s not easy, but there’s no other way: you must quit! Full stop. No exceptions.

Thankfully there are many ways you can get help from patches to hypnotherapy. Speak to your doctor to determine the best way forward for you. Bottom line here is you must give up the cigarettes and stop smoking today! You can do it! Help is there for you.

Other Drugs
Why it’s bad
If you use illicit drugs often or recreationally, or if you abuse prescription drugs then you are on your way to increasing your risk of developing health problems. There are so many drugs that contribute to health problems and the overall aging process. I cannot possibly go into them all here. The bottom line is that drug use of this kind will accelerate the aging process and it is likely to shorten your life.

How to prevent it from happening
If you are doing any of the above, you need to stop. Again, help is at hand for you and the best place to reach out for help is your doctor. There is no shame in doing this, because it is a proactive step in the interests of your health and longevity.

So there you have it! A very concise run down on the nasties you need to get on top of, in order to age well and live well.

I encourage you to take a stand in the interests of your health and your longevity today!

Eat Frequently and Keep Healthy

Anybody who tells you that cutting back on meals is better for your long-term health really has no idea at all! If you want to turn back the hands of time and age in a better way, you really need to get the eating thing right. And how do you do that?

You do it by eating good food and eating it frequently.

That’s right! Five small meals and snacks per day is the way to go, if you want to achieve optimum health and slow down the aging process. It doesn’t mean eating rabbit food or starving. Far from it!

By following a nutritional plan that involves frequent, small meals, you won’t be hungry and you’ll feel much more energetic and alive.

How it’s done
First and foremost, whatever you do, do not skip breakfast. This is never a good thing to do, because rather than reduce your caloric intake, it sets people up for binge eating on the wrong things in the afternoon. You’ll end up beefing up your caloric intake in the afternoon/evening, which defeats the purpose of slowing the aging process. And your metabolism will slow right down, meaning you will more than likely gain weight.

So here is what you need to do:

Start with a healthy breakfast of cereal and fruit or toast and fruit.
Have a snack of fruit or yoghurt about three hours later.
Enjoy a healthy lunch of salad or soup or a sandwich with wholegrain bread.
Have a snack of fruit or yoghurt about three hours after lunch.
Enjoy a healthy dinner of grilled meat with steamed vegetables or perhaps a stir-fry.

And if you are hungry after dinner, maybe have a piece of fruit or maybe some nuts.

Remember as well to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Also, never go longer than four hours during the day without eating, because you will end up binging on the wrong foods if you do this.

By eating frequent, smaller meals throughout the day you are stopping yourself from snacking or binging on unhealthy foods that will rob you of energy, contribute to weight gain and hasten the aging process.

Good food eaten frequently and in smaller portions throughout the day will help you look and feel longer, younger. And by combining your healthy eating habits with a good, active lifestyle, you’ll end up feeling better than you did in your twenties!

So start getting into the habit of enjoying small, frequent meals every day. It takes 30 days for a new behavior to become a healthy habit – so get started today!
The Fat on the Fat

You know if you spend enough time watching daytime television and reading magazines geared towards healthy eating and living, you would be forgiven for thinking that fat is a bad thing. We hear about fat busting exercises and declaring war on fat, so sure, many people probably think fat is a bad thing.

Add to this the fact that we see reduced fat foods lining our supermarket shelves, and in television commercials and some people may see it almost as something poisonous!

The fat on fat though is that we need it. In fact, our bodies would not be able to function without fat. That’s because in reality, fat is a nutrient. It provides us with the energy that we need to function every day and it helps other nutrients we consume to do the good jobs they need to do.

The Types of Fats
There are four major types of fats that we can consume:

Saturated fat: Each molecule of fat is covered in hydrogen atoms and if we consume too much of these fats over a long period of time, we will experience health problems e.g. raised cholesterol which can lead to stroke and heart disease. These sorts of fats are found in meat from mammals, the skin of poultry, dairy products and the majority of processed foods (bakery foods such as pastries, cakes, cookies – even snack foods such as crisps).
Monosaturated fat: These types of fats are not saturated in hydrogen atoms. According to experts these fats are neither good nor bad for you. On the other hand though, many health experts testify to monosaturated fats reducing the risk of heart disease. You can find these fats in avocadoes, olives and ground nut oil.
Polyunsaturated fat: These fats aren’t saturated with hydrogen atoms either, and according to nutritionists, polyunsaturated fats are good for our health. The fats that are really good come from fish, and they are called Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are believed to lower cholesterol and keep heart disease at bay. They can also help reduce the symptoms of skin diseases, plus joint problems, including arthritis. The main sources of polyunsaturated fats are oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, trout and sardines), sunflower oil, grapeseed oil and safflower oil.
Trans fat: These fats are synthetic. They are not natural. Through industrial processes, trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to the liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid in their form. They are popular because the companies that make food claim they are easier to work with and inexpensive to produce. The fact is, they are bad for our health and should be avoided. Some cities have even banned trans fat. You will find them in fried foods, pies, biscuits, pastries, crackers, doughnuts and many baked foods.

Stick to polyunsaturated fats wherever you can!
The recommended daily intake for fats
For adults, experts recommend that fat make up 20-35% of our daily total calorie intake.

Our fat intake should be limited to vegetable oils and omega-3 oils.

In my next article I’ll talk to you about watching our fat intake, as well as our sugar intake.

It’s essential reading for anybody serious about looking and feeling great for longer!

By knowing what fats to consume, what ones to avoid and how much fat to consume, we will reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases, obesity and other health problems that contribute to us aging poorly. Start being fat-wise today by paying attention to the types of fats that are in the foods you consume.

Oh and don’t forget to combine it with a sensible amount of physical activity – for the best results!

Why Fiber is so Important in Our Diet?

All this talk about aging and aging well wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t look at the influence of diet in the aging process as well. As you know, having an active lifestyle helps us to age well, and so too does having a healthy, balanced diet.

Part of a balanced diet requires fiber. But why is fiber so important to us?

In this article, I’m going to talk about fiber and why it’s so important to include in our diet because of its many health benefits.

What exactly is fiber?
Fiber is pretty interesting. It is a carbohydrate but it has special properties that allow it to pass through the human digestive system without being broken down through the digestive process.

There are two types of fiber: insoluble fiber which is made of plant cell walls and cannot be dissolved in water and soluble fiber, made up of polysaccharides which can dissolve in water.

Fiber plays a really important role in the digestive process. It:

Makes us chew our food well: And by taking the time to chew, we don’t wolf down food quickly and feel fuller quicker. So it’s a great weapon in the fight against obesity.
It gives us the experience of food being more satisfying: It sits in our tummy for longer and makes us feel full.
It helps our blood sugar levels: That’s because it slows down the digestive process and slows down the absorption rate of glucose or sugar, into our system.
It helps our colon: It is in our colon where fiber is broken down through a bacterial process called fermentation. In this process, organic acids are produced which help in the nourishment of the colon lining.
It helps fuel our body: The acids produced through the fermentation process help to fuel our body.

Fiber plays an important role in our metabolism as well, making it a pretty important part of our diet!

The many health benefits of fiber
If that wasn’t enough, fiber provides us with the following health benefits. It helps to reduce the risk of:

Certain cancers: Colon cancer is one of the cancers a high-fiber diet can help to reduce. Research has suggested it may play a role in helping to reduce breast cancer as well, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Digestive disorders: Insoluble fiber adds to the bulk of stools, so it speeds the process of fecal material passing through the gut. In other words, it helps us to avoid uncomfortable constipation and can reduce the risk of diverticulosis which is caused by straining during bowel movements. For those who already suffer diverticulosis, the symptoms which include constipation and/or diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal pain and blood or mucus in the stool can be alleviated through fiber consumption
Diabetes: This is because soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.
Heart disease: A healthy diet with soluble fiber can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, due to the fact that is lowers cholesterol. Studies have also shown that soluble fiber can slow the rate of cholesterol manufacture by the liver.
Heart attack: Several studies in men have found that consuming fiber can reduce the risk of heart attack significantly.
Obesity: Due to the fact that insoluble fiber cannot be digested it will pass through our system without being broken down. Therefore it provides us with few calories. Because it makes us feel full, we don’t tend to overeat when we consume fiber. All of this helps us avoid obesity.

What to eat to get fiber benefits
Make sure you include the following types of food to really reap the benefits of fiber:

Wholegrain breads
Natural cereals
Fruits
Vegetables
Beans
Nuts

Start including fiber in your diet today and you will feel so much better for it. Oh, and don’t forget to mix it with a healthy dose of physical activity. Your body will thank you for it in years to come!

Aging and Changes in Functional Ability

Have you noticed that your body isn’t as co-operative as it used to be in years gone by? Are you finding it more difficult to carry out tasks such as cooking dinner, driving the car, brushing your teeth or answering the phone?

Ok ok ok…Just kidding on the brushing your teeth and answering the phone bit, and doesn’t it feel like it on somedays?

These are just some of the activities that many of us perform every day. For young people, these tasks are easy and mundane back, but as we age, they can become increasingly difficult and require much more care and attention.

The standard to which we carry out important daily tasks is referred to our functional ability. The two main types of functional ability incorporate personal care and mobility. Our functional ability allows us to clean ourselves, prepare food, use the toilet, socialize with others and be employed to earn a living! Our functional ability allows us to live and survive independently.

During the natural progression of aging, our bodies begin to change, which can directly impact our level of functional ability. These changes often lead to limitations in daily tasks but there are a range options available to make daily living easier and more enjoyable.

These are the most common areas that are affected by decreased functional ability:

Personal Care

Showering
Toileting
Cooking and preparing meals
Taking medication
Managing money

Mobility

Driving or using public transport
Using a telephone
Grocery shopping
Laundry
Housework

Can Functional Ability be Improved?

Yes! Although some reduction of functional ability with aging is inevitable, the extent and speed of it occurring can be slowed by adopting the following lifestyle principles:

Balanced Nutrition

It has been discovered that many elderly citizens are receiving inadequate nutrition! This can often be attributed to loss of taste and changes of the digestive system. A simple change of diet may be all that’s required to boost functional ability! Studies have shown that changing to a balanced and healthy diet provides amazing results in functional ability!

Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity is vital to maintain optimum functional ability! Did you know that a lack of physical activity can actually accelerate the reduction of functional ability? Exercise and stretches assist and improve our muscles capability of performing essential tasks for independence. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the requirement for corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory and other medication! It also improves depression and anxiety. Any type of activity that raises your heart rate is beneficial, so get moving!

Products and Medication

It this world of advancing technology it is good to know that we are surrounded with range of devices that are specifically designed to improve the lives of anyone with functional disabilities.

Medication

There are countless varieties of medications that are available, as a last resort, for those experiencing functional difficulties. Such medications can be costly and add up to a large amount per year. For some, there may be no other option than to take medication, but for most there are other ways! Consider opting for gentler alternatives and preventative measures before proceeding down the path of medications. It may save you a considerable amount of money and also be so much better for your health!

Talk to you local doctor or specialist about what may be suitable for you, so you can start to enjoy the full potential of your body and make the most of every single day!

Aging and the Gastrointestinal Tract

Are you feeling sluggish, bloated or are experiencing constipation? This may be an effect of aging! Continue reading to discover what changes occur with our digestive system, as we age, and what we can do to improve or eliminate any problems!

The Digestive System, within our bodies, is a highly important one and consists of the teeth, mouth, tongue, stomach, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, large intestine, small intestine, pharynx and salivary glands. The body relies on the harmonious collaboration of the above list to ensure the adequate absorption of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and water!

How your digestive system functions, may not be something you regularly think about, when you’re younger but as we age, we may become more aware of it due to its changes and the effect it has on us. The changes that occur affect everyone differently and at different times

What Changes Occur?

Along with the rest of the body, there is the expected slowing of cell regeneration making us increasingly prone to tissue damage. As we age our muscle tone decreases and the gastrointestinal tract doesn’t escape this process. Slowed digestion is the result of this, as food travels at a slower pace through the digestive system. The can cardiac sphincter, which controls food between the stomach and esophagus, can also becomes less effective. The level of salivary secretion decreases, along with digestive enzymes, which impacts on the absorption of vitamins, minerals and overall digestion.

The Effects

Increased Constipation
Reflux (Heartburn)
More Prone to Liver Problems
Hemorrhoids
Risk of Malnutrition

Supporting a Healthy Gastrointestinal Tract

During the aging process, many changes occur so it’s a good idea to adapt in order to continue feeling healthy and full of vitality! Medication is not always necessary for complaints of the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system. Many symptoms can be improved or eliminated with the adjustment of your lifestyle or diet

Pay close attention to what you put on your plate! Stick to a diet that is abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Eat more vegetables that are high in protein. Animal products become increasingly difficult to digest as we get older.

Opt for high fiber food for smoother digestion and to reduce constipation.

Reduce fat intake. This move is not only good for the heart but is very beneficial in diminishing the presence of heartburn, constipation, diabetes and colon cancer!

Drink plenty of fluids. If you start drinking 8 – 10 glasses of water per day you are sure to notice a positive effect!

Consider adding vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet. Vitamin D3 is a fantastic addition as this aids in the optimum absorption of calcium and to ensure optimum bone strength. Vitamin B12 is another wonderful supplement that can reduce the risk of anemia and nerve damage.

Regular exercise. Any exercise, that involves increased breathing and heart rate, assists in the effective functioning of the digestive system.

Be aware of your body and how you feel. If you sense that something is not right or notice a sudden change, make an appointment with your local doctor to find out the best ways to maintain a healthy digestive system!

Parents ARE the biggest Influencers!

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In the United States, obesity in children is definitely on the rise!  It is now estimated that 1 in 3 American kids are considered either overweight or obese.

It’s shocking isn’t it?  I remember back when I was at school, and it was rare to see a child who was overweight.  All the kids seemed to be really skinny back then, and little wonder.  We ate healthy and instead of sitting in front of a computer playing games, or sitting down playing on the Xbox, we were outside playing cowboys and Indians and running around.

The way kids live has changed and it is reflected in their growing size.

And sadly, if the trend continues, for the first time ever, we will see a younger generation die before their parents – as a normal thing.

So, the question is:

Who is INFLUENCING these kids and making them fat?

The biggest influencers of children are their parents.  And that shouldn’t come as any surprise.  Take a look at American adults and you’ll find that – according to Wikipedia – 64% of adults are overweight or obese, and 26% are obese.  Wikipedia cites the source of those statistics to be “Obesity Statistics: U.S. Obesity Trends” published in 2006.  So the statistics are probably worse now, given the rising rate of obesity.

Parents often, are working fulltime, and it results in them taking shortcuts when it comes to diet.  Instead of cooking healthy foods at home, many parents turn to drive-thru alternatives and poor quality “heat and eat” options from supermarkets. 

And the prevalence of computers, the internet and gaming consoles means kids aren’t playing outside so much anymore.  They are sitting in front of a computer – and often eating junk foods while they’re playing games.  And working parents, who are often time poor – allow their kids to do this.

It makes for a dangerous mix.  A bad diet and sedentary lifestyle.  Put simply: kids are getting old before their time.  And they are getting lifestyle diseases as well – Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, breathing problems, some cancers – even strokes and heart disease.

Parents are working hard.  Don’t get me wrong.  But they – and their children – are paying for it with their health.

 

How to change things

To change things, parents have to take ownership of the problem.  They need to see themselves as the major influencers of their children, and then take action to change it. 

These things can help:

  • Set aside family time each day to do something active – it only has to be half an hour – and make it fun!
  • Take the time to prepare healthy meals – if you are time poor, try cooking healthy things that you can store in your freezer, and simply heat and eat on busy nights!
  • Keep computer game time to a minimum – set a ceiling limit and encourage your kids to play in the backyard or sign up for a sport.
  • Actively encourage your kids to participate in sports and other active interests – save money on takeaway food and use that money to enlist your kids in a sport that will help them get active.
  • Be active yourself and eat healthy – you are to be an example to your kids.
  • Don’t give your kids unhealthy foods for lunches and snacks – you have to set the rules.

Remember, it may seem like hard work in the beginning, but it only takes 30 days for a new action to become a habit.  So work hard at creating these healthy habits.

Your kids will thank you for it in the future!