Showing posts with label Improve Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Improve Health. Show all posts

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plum Healthy

Plum nutritional benefits
Fresh plums from the local farm!
My personal motivation for knowing so much about what foods have to offer is based on my quest for health.   Good health is something that most people take for granted, but there are those of us that are more “health challenged”.   Therefore, getting the most from the foods we eat becomes imperative.  So for those who need, or would like, to take their health; energy level; and external beauty up a notch, I invite you to learn about the benefits of what you are putting into YOUR body.

As I have studied through the years and continue to do so, I am amazed at all the wonderful fruits, we have that can help us live better in so many ways.  This includes the many benefits of eating Plum Fruit.  The plum tree can produce many different colors of plums like:  yellow, green, purple - also known as red plum fruit.  The plum nutritional benefits really are worth knowing, so here is a quick rundown:
  1. Eating plums may reduce your chances of contracting heart disease… the number one killer in this country.   Plums have certain cleansing agents that keep the blood pure and prevent complications of the heart.  That one plum nutrition fact is a “biggy”. 
  2. Ladies, this next one is good for you to know, in particular, because we lose this mineral each month during our fertile years.  Consumption of plums, and prunes, helps in the production and absorption of iron in the body.  This also leads to improved blood circulation, which increases the growth of healthy tissues.  And for those of you who struggle with anemia, eating plums may be even more helpful. 
  3. Researchers have found that plums have anti-cancer agents that may help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the body.  With cancer rates on the rise, eating “on purpose” becomes even more important. 
  4. Fresh plums are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.  Consumption of foods high in vitamin C help body in resisting infectious agents; decreasing inflammation; and in scavenging harmful free radicals.  The benefits of vitamin C are so extensive, I could dedicate the whole blog to the merits of eating foods rich in this nutrient. 
  5. A piece about plums, or prunes-the dried version of plum fruit, would be incomplete if we didn’t bring up the dreaded subject of “constipation.”  There are compounds in plum fruits, such as the fiber and sorbitol, that are known to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system.  So drink your prune juice “regularly”...and you’ll stay that way, too! 
  6. Plum juice concentrate has also been shown to be effective in preventing and reducing human influenza A, so drinking this during "flu season" may be a great first line of defense. 

Savory plum recipes

The plums nutritional benefits can be found in more than just the fresh fruit.   I would be remiss if I didn't wrap this up with a list of some of the wonderful plum recipes using this fabulous fruit:
Plums Fruit
These bit sized plums are a sweet snack!
  • Plum sauce
  • Plum Wine
  • Plum Pudding
  • Prune Juice
  • Plum Compote

Wash your fruits first

Please keep in mind, conventionally-grown stone fruits (ex: plums, apricots, pluots) are often coated with a petroleum-derived wax containing a fungicide to prolong their shelf life, a chemical substance that simply cannot be washed off!  And that is in addition to any pesticides that may have been sprayed during their cultivation.  Whenever possible, seek out organically-grown plums.  That way you ensure the farmers who grew plum trees and other fruit trees are dedicated to sustainability, your health and the quality of their product.  And you are supporting local farmers in your own community!

There are many more health benefits to eating the delicious, succulent Plum Fruit.  So the next time you take a bite into a fresh plum be sure and take the time to pat yourself on the back for making a wise and healthy choice.   Let’s add plums to our grocery list!

Here is a great recipe I found on the web because as we approach fall - any type of fruit crisp smells and tastes so good.

Raw Plum Crisp by Diane Stobo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF63ezSd-5g


Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Blue Plate Special: Food Serving Size

"Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!" 

How many of us heard those words from our grandparents as we heaped more of our favorite foods, mashed potatoes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, onto our plates at family dinners? Yet somehow I always found myself squinting when it came time to serve the broccoli or green beans! 

color plate test
Are the black circles the same
size or is one larger than the other?
Delboeuf Illusion
Washiucho/Wikimedia Commons
What I thought was just healthy eating now appears to be a little more involved.  Several factors probably influenced what and how much we ate back then and today.  Brian Wansink, a Cornell eating behavior expert, suggests that plate color influences serving size.  Based on the Delboeuf illusion, an optical illusion that demonstrates two circles of the same size placed inside two other circles where one is larger than the other, the two circles of equal size will appear to be different sizes. Wansink shows that the greater the contrast between the color of food and the plates, the smaller the portion size - regardless of plate size.  No contrast or low contrast produces larger portion size.  This occurs because the plate where there is higher contrast appears smaller in size than the plate with lower contrast.

In his color plate test, published in 2011 in Journal of Consumer Research, a group of diners was randomly given either a white plate or a red plate and were served pasta with either white sauce or red sauce.  People using plates matching the color of their food, pasta with white sauce on a white plate, served larger portions, as much as 22% more.  Those using dishes that contrasted their food, pasta with white sauce on a red plate, served smaller portions. Further consumer research concludes that lowering the contrast between the plates and the background, place mat or tablecloth, reduces serving size up to 10% more. (Cornell Research )

So, how can we use this research to control our portion size? Well, whether you're trying to take off a few extra pounds or trying to eat healthier, using plate color can help control our serving size. Try these tips when serving up your next meal.

portion size plate color
Blue Plate Special
Blue Causes You to Eat Less
1. Choose dishes that contrast your food choice. For example, pasta with red sauce on a white plate is a high contrast. If you are unable to change the dish color, minimize the illusion by using a place mat or tablecloth that lowers the contrast between the background and the plate color . This will create the illusion that the plate is smaller and could lead to smaller portion size.

2. Serve food on plates or in containers that are a color you dislike. This could make you eat less as the background color is unappetizing to you.

3. Eating dessert on a blue plate is a great idea for dieters. Blue is considered unappetizing to most adults. Since there are very few blue foods that occur naturally, blue could act as an appetite suppressant. (Color & Appetite)

4. Serve green salads on a green plate to encourage you to take more. The lower the contrast, the greater the portion.  Use matching food colors and plates for healthier, lower calorie foods.

Various factors determine what and how much we eat. Some factors such as altering our behavior may prove more difficult to tackle than others. However, we can alter our environment by using simple tips from above. Whether by using a smaller plate or creating the illusion of a smaller plate, we can reduce our portion sizes to eat and live healthier.

Caroline

Friday, July 13, 2012

Help Me Sleep!

So we discussed what happens with problems sleeping and related health risks, but the question remains:  How do I get better sleep?

First, if you have or think you may have a sleep disorder, then you need to seek help from a doctor.  These can lead to more serious health problems.  Look for sleep centers accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine at www.aasmnet.org and click on "Find a Sleep Center" or call 708-492-0930.  (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Most people view sleep as a time to shut down and shut off the brain.  Research has shown that there is so much more taking place when you are in a horizontal position.  Your body is actually quite active:
sleep sleep problems
Sleep has many health benefits.
  • Improving your memory and creative juices
  • Repairing your body
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Raising your metabolism
  • Curbing inflammation
  • Lowering stress
  • Helping you lose weight
  • Improving problem solving skills

Oh, and for athletes 10 hours of sleep improves speed and performance.  I will be sharing this with my son who is bound for college football this fall.

According to the National Institute of Health report on Healthy Sleep, experts believe that while we sleep brain cell's pathways are made stronger.  Healthy living, thinking, and sleep affect these pathways, which kind of look like trees - seriously trunk and branches.  So think of it like this.  Sleep represents the roots of your health tree.  As we sleep the trunk brain pathways (called axons) get stronger producing more branches (dendrites).  The dendrites or branches can grow or whither depending on a lot of things, but sleep as well.

Ways to Get Better Sleep

There are many sleep aids out on the market both over-the-counter medications and prescription medications referred to as hypnotics. The FamilyWize free prescription drug card covers sleep aid prescription medications.  As with all prescriptions, check with your doctor to see which  is right for you; and then check with your pharmacist to make sure there are no contraindications with other brand or generic prescription medications you may be taking.)  Up to 10% of the adult population in the U.S. took sleeping aids in 2010.

What does that say about our state of sleep?

I would like to provide you a few remedies for sleep that may help improve your sleep problems.
  • Avoid caffeine after 4 p.m.  If you need an afternoon pick me up, try drinking your caffeine around 2 p.m.
  • Turn down the heat.  Exercise in the morning, afternoon, or early evening.  Exercise increases your metabolism and raises your body temperature.  According to Dr. J. Todd Arnett, Director of University of Michigan Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, your body has to be a certain temperature in order to fall asleep.
  • That glass of wine you enjoy in the evening - try having it earlier.  Although people say wine makes them drowsy, it will actually disrupt your sleep later.  An Alcohol Alert by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, "Alcohol consumption can induce sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states and by altering total sleep time as well as the time required to fall asleep."
  • Make a list - one thing that is helpful for me is to write down my list of to-do's for the next day, so I am not thinking about them while trying to fall asleep.
  • Don't go to bed angry.  I was raised with the saying,  "Don't let the sun go down upon your wrath."  For me it meant spiritual implications, but the Health and Sleep Journal agrees that going to bed angry causes health problems.  So if you are angry at your significant other be sure to forgive him or her before you go to sleep.
  • Eat your sweet potato.  Certain foods and food combinations have tryptophan, which produces serotonin.  I personally cut up a sweet potato, which produces melatonin, into chunks, put it in a blender add water, cinnamon, and ginger and then drink.  A few days of this and you will sleep like a baby.
  • Try some meditative yoga or yoga stretches to ease away the tension and relax your body. li>Make your bedroom your retreat.  Remove the clutter, the electronics, and other distractions that may cause you to not rest in your own bedroom.
Above all else, the best advice is to try to get the proper amount of sleep for your body.  Most doctors recommend seven to eight hours of sleep at night, but each body is different.  We have become a 24/7 society.  Stores are open 24 hours, television shows don't ever stop (Did you know that the TV used to go static after a certain hour of the night?), the computer never goes to sleep, but you need to - so do yourself a favor and relax and enjoy a good night's sleep and live healthier and longer!

P.S. If you take an FDA approved sleep medication and need help with the cost of your prescription medicines, check out the FamilyWize prescription card.  Our Rx drug card users saved an average of 51% on their sleep medications.

Donna Cornelius
Content Manager and Editor - FamilyWize