The government's sodium recommendations are not very realistic. The recommendation is to eat no more than 2300mg of sodium daily for those people who are NOT hypertensive and less than 1500mg (2/3 tsp of salt) daily for those with high blood pressure. The problem is that most adults over 50 years of age, African Americans, and those with hypertension and/or diabetes take in more than 1500mg and everybody else gets in more than 2300mg of sodium daily. In order to take in less than 1500mg daily one would practically have to restrict, if not avoid, eating meat, poultry, fish, and grains and instead eat mostly fruit, nuts and seeds. Instead, those with hypertension should cut back on foods which tend to contain high sodium such as most processed foods (e.g., canned soup, bread, rolls, cold cuts, cured meats, pizza, cheese, and salty snacks). For the most part, it's healthier to eat low-sodium, low-fat versions of these foods in smaller portion sizes if at all. Also, cut down on eating at restaurants and fast-food establishments. It's always healthier to eat more wholesome foods which are natural and not man-made.
What I've found with the majority of my clients is that they're not getting enough sleep. It becomes very apparent when, for instance, a client feels sluggish and yawns during the exercise session (!). Not giving your body and mind the needed recovery time via sleep is a recipe for disaster in terms of losing body weight. In fact, I would go so far to say that the time working out in the gym is virtually wasted if there is a lack of sleep. In essence, sleep is what the body and mind need to recover from the day's events and to feel refreshed and more energized upon waking up.
Getting adequate sleep (e.g., 7 to 8 hours) is just as important as nutrition and exercise in staying healthy and fit. There is a growing body of research that indicates that lack of sleep is a contributing factor for the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country. Hormones such as leptin, ghrelin and cortisol are affected by sleep quality and quantity. Not surprisingly, all of these hormones are also involved in governing appetite. Thus, there is a correlation between lack of sleep and increased appetite. In other words, inadequate sleep makes you feel more hungry, especially for high-fat, high-calorie foods during the evening.
What can you do to increase the amount of sleep you're getting? Start by watching less television at night and restrict the amount of time spent on the computer.
Need more reasons to get more sleep at night? Here's eight benefits of getting more shut-eye:
When you lose bodyfat a whole multitude of positive healthy outcomes takes place including:
BOTTOM LINE: Exercise and a healthy diet can resolve many chronic conditions plaguing humans today. Instead of reaching for quick-fix medications which may have side-effects, reach for a dumbbell and eat your broccoli.
Optimal blood pressure is less than 115 mm Hg systolic and 75 mm Hg diastolic, or 115/75. Pre-hypertension, stage 1 hypertension, and stage 2 hypertension are classified as 120 -139/80-89, 140-159/90-99, and greater than 160/100, respectively. Reducing blood pressure is dependent on healthy lifestyle habits (i.e., exercise, reducing body weight, eating fruits and vegetables, decreasing sodium intake, increasing potassium intake, reducing sugar and alcohol intake, etc.).
You should increase your intake of fibrous foods, particularly insoluble fiber. Fiber, a complex carbohydrate which digests slowly, provides satiety so eating foods high in fiber reduces your appetite. Result: You eat less food during the day and lose body weight and bodyfat. Most people do not eat enough fiber to maintain a healthy digestive tract. It is recommended that you should eat at least 25g of fiber daily. Eating adequate fiber will soften your stool (necessary if you're experiencing constipation) and facilitate healthy elimination of waste. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to type-2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and elevated blood cholesterol. The previous statement is a fact. Thus, you should be aware of foods that may contain added sugar. To help in this regard, you should be aware of the many different names for sugar found on food labels:
Here are eight foods to watch out for that you should limit the consumption of:
High protein intake is harmful to your kidneys.
There is no conclusive evidence that this is the case. The usual recommendation is to eat your target body weight in grams of protein daily. For example, if you're 180-lbs but want to be 200-lbs, eat 200 grams of protein daily.
Sweet potatoes are better for you than white potatoes.
The reality is that both types of potatoes have complimentary nutritional differences but one is not necessarily better than the other. For instance, sweet potatoes have more fiber and vitamin A, but white potatoes are higher in iron, magnesium and potassium.
Red meat causes cancer.
No study has shown a direct cause-and-effect relationship between red-meat consumption and cancer. How the meat is cooked is really what is at issue here: overcooking meat under high heat tends to increase the release of carcinogenic compounds which increases cancer risk.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more fattening than regular sugar.
Both HFCS and sucrose, or table sugar, contain comparable amounts of fructose. At issue here is not necessarily HFCS but fructose in general. Consuming either HFCS or sucrose will cause weight gain, in the form of fat, when consumed in excess.
Salt causes high blood pressure and should be avoided.
If you have a healthy blood pressure of less than 120/80, there is no need to restrict salt intake. On the other hand, if your blood pressure exceeds the aforementioned amount, it may be wise to cut down on your salt intake and increase your potassium intake. The reality here is not so much how much salt or potassium you eat, but rather the balance between the two minerals that matters most. Hence, if you eat a high-salt diet but very little in the way of potassium, then you should lessen the imbalance between the two minerals by either eating less salt or taking in more potassium. Good potassium sources include spinach, broccoli, bananas, white potatoes, and beans.
Medical research has indicated there are three lifestyle-related factors which have the biggest impact on blood pressure:
You can check my blog under the "Nutrition" link for healthy eating habits although key points to lower blood pressure include:
If you have high blood pressure it may be because your body feels deprived of adequate sleep to be optimally healthy. Strive to get at least six hours of sleep by getting to bed at about the same time each night and waking up at about the same time in the morning. Your body has its own unique biorhythms and ensuring you hit the pillow at the same time each night is what the body "likes". Sweet dreams!
It seems like everyday a new study is published purporting another benefit of drinking coffee. To wit: coffee may reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. A recent study of over 48,000 males has found that those who regularly consumed the most coffee (six or more cups daily) had a 60% lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer compared to non-drinkers. Six cups of coffee does seem excessive, although even one to three cups daily was linked to a 30% lower risk. Whether or not the coffee is caffeinated was found to be irrelevant. Thus, it appears that the polyphenols within coffee which are antioxidants may have a positive impact in lessening prostate cancer severity. This potential benefit of coffee is plausible since there is evidence among other studies which indicate that coffee improves blood sugar control (i.e., possibly reducing the onset of type-2 diabetes), has anti-inflammatory effects, and affects sex hormone levels. All of these aspects play a role in the progression of prostate cancer.
Other purported beneficial effects from drinking coffee include weight loss, decreased depression, decreased cognitive decline (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 2011), increased muscle growth, increased life expectancy (New England Journal of Medicine, 2012), and decreased risk of gout, liver disease, type-2 diabetes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013), heart disease, stroke (American Journal of Epidemiology, 2011), colon cancer, prostate cancer (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2011), endometrial cancer, Parkinson's disease (Experimental Neurobiology, 2012), and Alzheimer's disease risk. In regard to the latter possibility, mice were used in a study in which a decrease in the protein linked to Alzheimer's disease was observed (note: both of the studies supporting the aforementioned benefits involved caffeinated coffee).
Norwegian scientists have published a study in the journal BMC Research Notes which seems to indicate a correlation with decreased physical pain and coffee ingestion.
I would say the benefits of drinking coffee far outweigh the risks--but remember, moderation (i.e., three or less cups daily) is the key! Drinking more than three cups of caffeinated coffee daily may increase blood pressure.
Optimal blood pressure is 115/75 and should be the goal for all people. If your blood pressure is at or above 140/90, you are in the hypertensive range and need to make some lifestyle changes if you want to live long enough to enjoy your grandchildren. Harsh? Perhaps, but so is dying needlessly due to poor lifestyle choices (e.g., eating high-fat sugary foods regularly, being sedentary). Here are my recommendations to get you on the right path to living a healthy life: