Arthritis Sufferer?

5 Tips To Improve Mobility With Arthritis

For many people, especially the elderly, arthritis is a debilitating illness. Arthritis causes increased inflammation around the joint that can lead to immobility and pain.

While there are conventional medical treatments that are available for people with arthritis, many wonder what can be done along with medication to help improve mobility with their arthritis. In fact, there are many natural methods to help manage pain and improve mobility.

This article will show you five different alternative therapies and treatments that can help you manage your daily arthritis symptoms and mobility issues.

Hydrotherapy

Web M.D. recommends hydrotherapy as a form of exercise for those with arthritis. Hydrotherapy is similar to exercise and a pool, however, the pool tends to be warmer than a traditional swimming pool. With hydrotherapy, participants can get all of the benefits of regular exercise without any of the impact on joints.

This may be especially beneficial to those with arthritis because the joints are particularly affected. Having an option for exercise that has zero impact on the joints can increase mobility as well as range of motion. Many times hydrotherapy is considered a form of physical therapy and may be covered by insurance.

Range of Motion Exercise

Many sufferers of arthritis keep the affected joints in a tightened position to alleviate pain. Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of increasing pain because it shortens ligaments and muscles around the affected joint. This means that instead of decreasing pain over the long-term keeping the joints in a tightened position will increase pain.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends all arthritis sufferers participate in range of motion exercises. The range of motion exercises typically includes stretching and extending the joints to their full ability. Some range of motion programs may include yoga  or tai chi.

Lose Weight

Because arthritis causes pain and immobility many sufferers of arthritis have excess weight. The excess weight increases pressure and damage on the joints. The increased pressure and damage on the joints increases pain which causes decreased mobility. It becomes a never ending cycle of increased pain and decreased mobility.

Mayo Clinic recommends that if you have arthritis, you maintain a healthy body weight. If you’re currently overweight and have a difficult time moving a healthy body weight can be maintained through proper diet.

A meeting with a dietitian can help you start a healthy diet if you are not sure where to begin. The dietitian or nutritionist may also have ideas on foods that can help decrease inflammation in the body and reduce pain from your arthritis.

Hot and Cold Therapy

One of the benefits of hot and cold therapy is that it can be done at home. The second benefit to hot and cold therapy is that it is very inexpensive. Heating pads and ice packs are easy to have on hand and don’t cost a lot of money. Healthline suggests that arthritis sufferers try alternating hot and cold therapy to affected joints to decrease pain.

You may find that some days cold therapy works the best on your arthritic joints while other days a heating pad may be better. Having both on hand to use is going to be the best way to ensure that this therapy is effective at increasing your mobility and decreasing your pain.

Massage

The arthritis foundation notes that one of the most beneficial treatments for mobility in arthritis patients is massage. Massage can help increase range of motion simply by relieving tension on stiff muscles and ligaments that surround the arthritic joints.

The arthritis foundation says that the best types of massage for people with arthritis are either deep tissue massage or Swedish massage. If you are having a high amount of pain deep tissue massage may be difficult to tolerate because of how deep into the muscle massage therapist will go. Either way, massage therapy is an easily accessible treatment to help increase your range of motion when you have arthritis.

While arthritis will not go away no matter how well you take care of your body, you can manage your symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. If you combine medication with these holistic approaches to treatment, you are sure to have a happier and pain-free life.

Fran Watson

P.S.  Be sure to comment if you found this post helpful.  Thanks.

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Heart Health

5 Ways to Improve the Health of Your Heart

Your heart is the muscle that gets the job done by pumping the blood that circulates throughout your body. Like all the muscles in your body, it needs to be taken care of. Many people don’t realize they have heart problems until a problem arises.

Preventative measures can improve the health of your heart and lower your risk of heart related diseases. When your heart is healthy, it contributes to continued good health for your entire body.

Dietary Changes to Help Heal Your Heart

You can begin to heal your heart by making the right dietary changes. One of the best changes to start with is to make sure that you’re eating the correct portion sizes. Changing what you eat won’t matter if you’re consuming more calories or carbs than your body needs, because this can impact your heart health.

This is where many people mess up. If you eat enough servings for two people, then your heart is working twice as hard regardless of what you’re eating. Even foods that are healthy can pack on the pounds.

Foods are labeled according to their serving sizes and you can follow this as a guide for how much to eat. For foods that don’t come with labels, such as items from the produce section or fresh meats, you’ll need to look up what the serving size is as well as what the carb load is.

For example, a banana, while good for you, contains 27 carbs if it’s around 8 inches long. Just half a cup of corn contains over 20 carbs. That carb count changes, depending on whether or not you eat it on or off the cob.

You can easily eat more carbs that you think you are and the carb count matters if you’re following a low carb diet to improve the health of your heart. You need to be sure that you follow a lifestyle diet that consists of low calorie foods that are high in vitamins and minerals.

These will be foods like fruits and vegetables. You’ll want to choose low carb vegetables such as broccoli. You can have an entire cup of this for only 6 carbs. Or, you can have a cup of raw spinach and only get 1 carb per serving.

If you don’t know what the serving size for a food is, then take the time to look it up. Keep a food tracker on hand so that you can refer back to it when you have the same foods again.

There are some foods that you’re better off avoiding, except on a rare or special occasion. Any food that’s processed or contains a lot of unhealthy fats is bad for your heart.

This is especially true of convenience foods, specifically fast foods. While they might be convenient time wise, your heart will pay the price. You’ll want to avoid food items that don’t offer much nutritionally.

An example of this would be butter or gravy. Neither offers you much nutritionally and you can switch both for lower fat, healthier options. Limit your salt, too. Even in people with no history of heart disease, consuming too much salt leads to a rise in blood pressure because salt forces the body to hold onto fluids.

Even if it’s not a long term risk, it still causes your heart to work harder to pump more blood than it should. You can go low sodium without giving it up completely, but keep in mind salt, like sugar, is a hidden ingredient in many food sources.

Exercise to Strengthen the State of Your Heart

When you get regular exercise, you can strengthen your heart. Exercise can prevent the prevalence of certain factors that put your heart at risk. For example, when you exercise, it lowers your blood pressure.

Lowered blood pressure means that your heart isn’t having to work as hard to do its job. Exercise also works to keep damaging health risks at bay – such as higher cholesterol levels, which can lead to clogged arteries.

When you exercise, you strengthen your heart by keeping your glucose level under control for those with diabetes. But exercise can also be a preventative for even developing a disease like diabetes, which directly affect the heart’s health.

Some of the benefits of exercising will take awhile before there will be any improvements, and you may not even be aware of these changes. When you exercise, the movement helps dilate your blood vessels.

This gives the body a boost of oxygen, which results in better cardiovascular strength. You’ll also benefit from having a lowered heart rate when resting. Having a lower resting heart rate means that your heart is able to supply the body with the blood it needs without contracting as hard or as fast.

This is easier on your heart. While exercise produces long term heart benefits, it also gives you short term perks as well. With exercise, your heart can become more resistant to things that might lead to poor heart health.

Even if you don’t exercise daily, your workout can linger as a boost for your heart. The positive benefits will still be there even after you’ve stopped exercising for that session. You may have seen advice that tells you to just “be more active,” but strengthening your heart isn’t as simple as that.

Moving around won’t give you any benefit unless it’s intentional in a way that makes your heart beat faster. Just as with any muscle in the body, the heart has to get a workout in.

If what you’re doing doesn’t cause your heart to beat faster and harder, then it’s not being strengthened. You need 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise in order to strengthen your heart.

One example of moderate exercise would be fast walking. You should walk fast enough so that you can’t easily breathe and talk at the same time. Running would also qualify as moderate exercise, as long your pace is rapid and steady.

Another example would be riding a bike, but only if there’s quick pacing or resistance. Riding a bike on a flat surface doesn’t force your heart to beat harder unless you’re biking fast.

For a better moderate exercise that strengthens the heart, you would want to bike up a hill. Cardio exercises are great for the heart. You can use stairs and go up and down them to get a heart workout.

Even doing chores around the house, such as mowing the lawn (using a push mower, not a riding one, of course) could be exercise to help strengthen your heart. As long as you keep up the pace, it will benefit your heart health.  I find dancing is a great way to work on strengthening the heart – it’s fun and doesn’t feel like exercise!!

Smoking Cessation Is Vital to Protect Your Heart

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Certain bad habits can negatively impact your heart health and one of these habits is smoking. Whether you smoke daily or a few times a week, it can still affect your heart.  In order to protect and strengthen your heart, one of the best things you can do is to break this habit now.

When you smoke, the chemicals that are in the smoke hurt your heart and can cause health issues leading to heart attacks and other forms of heart damage. This damage to your heart, including the blood vessels, is what can lead to a build-up of plaque.

Many people think that being overweight or eating the wrong kinds of foods is what caused the buildup of plaque within the heart’s arteries. So they make sure they try to keep their weight down and eat healthier.

But those actions are not enough if you smoke. While that’s true that those issues can contribute to the condition known as atherosclerosis, smoking is one of the main causes of heart trouble.

Your arteries are like straws that allow the blood to get pumped throughout your body to and from your heart. When one of the straws gets clogged by the buildup, the result is thickening or narrowed passageways.

Eventually, the buildup creates a blockage where no more blood can flow through and that leads to a heart attack. Smoking makes your blood thick and sticky. This causes your heart to have to work harder to try to pump the blood.

It also elevates your risk of developing a blood clot within an artery, which can lead to sudden death. When you smoke, you’re also at risk for palpitations as well as heart rhythm abnormalities, such as atrial fibrillation.

But once you stop smoking, your risk factors drop drastically. Within minutes of giving up the habit, your heart will stop working as hard. The fast heart rate caused by the smoking will return to normal range.

The elevated blood pressure that’s caused by smoking will also return to normal. The problems that smoking caused – such as issues within your arteries, will be interrupted and in many cases, the damage can be undone.

When you smoke, your LDL cholesterol rises, which is one of the reasons smokers end up with plaque in the arteries. So by stopping, you lower your risk of having a heart attack or experiencing a clot, because you’ll also lower your cholesterol levels.

Stress Relief Shields Your Heart from Health Issues

Stress can happen daily. Everyone encounters it. What causes your stress can vary from day to day. You can go through stress because of physical injuries or by not having your physical needs met, such as not getting the right foods or losing sleep.

When you get sick, this can also be a stressor. If you’re going through an emotional upheaval such as a job loss, financial pressure or relationship strife, this will cause stress.

When you go through stressful times, cortisol floods your system. When your body has too much cortisol, it raises your blood pressure. The adrenal surge you get from stress can make your heart work harder, not to mention the other internal changes stress causes.

It’s these changes that take place that affect your heart negatively and raise your risk factor for a heart attack if the stress isn’t relieved. Research has shown that when stress is relieved, it lowers the impact of negative changes within the body that can affect your heart.

There are many good habits you can start now that give you stress relief to protect your heart. You can start an exercise program if you’re not already doing so. Exercising combats the way that stress affects the heart.  You might also want to try some meditation.

When you exercise, it lowers your blood pressure and can help eliminate the high influx of cortisol due to stressors. By exercising, you’ll be able to maintain a lowered heart rate, even when you do get stressed, so your heart won’t be working as hard.

Exercising will also help combat things like insomnia caused by stress so you get the sleep that your heart needs. It will also help you keep your weight at a healthy number so that you don’t increase your risk factors for heart disease.

Another way to introduce stress relief to improve heart health is to surround yourself with support. When you’re stressed, keeping everything that you’re feeling and thinking bottled up can raise your stress level and increases your chance of developing heart issues.

By talking to others, whether they’re family, friends or professionals, it can help you relieve the stress you’re going through. When you have this support system in place, it can help you steer clear of bad habits in response to stress.

If you’re experiencing stress, a way to reduce that stress is by addressing the issue head on. For example, if you’ve experienced a job loss and now you’re struggling with anxiety or depression or behavior that are unhealthy, then seek medical help so that you can alleviate how the stress is affecting your heart.

Black Coffee Rising as a Safeguard for Your Heart

If you’re like most people, you own a coffee maker. You may even own more than one type of coffee machine. Maybe you always felt a little guilty about your coffee habit, but there was no way you were giving it up.

You might have seen reports in the past that warned you about drinking coffee. These reports probably pointed to the caffeine in the beverage and advised that your health was better off without it.

Some of the warnings in the past suggested that drinking coffee could cause things like racing heart beats and elevated blood pressure. But a study has proven that this information isn’t correct.

If you’re someone who enjoys having a cup of black coffee, this habit is one that can actually improve the health of your heart. The study showed that rather than being bad for you, drinking black coffee has been linked to lowering the risk of heart failure.

So forget trying to cut back. In fact, the more black coffee that you drink – from two cups and up – the lower your risk is for developing a buildup in your heart’s arteries that will lead to poor heart health or potential heart attacks.

But there is a catch to this. You can’t drink decaf coffee and get the safeguard measures for your heart. The coffee you consume has to contain caffeine in order for you to gain this benefit, while decaf can be detrimental to your heart health.

A study showed that drinking decaf coffee can potentially cause heart related issues because decaf coffee can raise cholesterol. There was no definite proof involved in the study that compared the caffeine in coffee with whether the drink was warm or cold, but temperature changes do matter when it comes to the amount of caffeine the drink contains.

When hot water is used to make coffee, more caffeine is released into the brew than when cold water is used. The study also didn’t examine the type of coffee bean or the size or amount of grounds used to prepare the coffee.

However, the finer the grind, the more caffeine content you end up with in your coffee beverage. Though there has been some speculation concerning the color of grounds having more or less caffeine, the color of the coffee bean doesn’t matter nearly as much as the type of coffee bean when it comes to getting the caffeine benefits for your heart.

The caffeine differs depending on the type. For example, Robusta coffee is twice as strong in the caffeine department than Arabica is. This coffee is usually labeled as a strong coffee.

However, Arabica is the coffee bean that’s most often used by consumers. You can safely consume as much as five cups of coffee every day as a way to improve your heart’s health.

The best thing to remember when it comes to the health of your heart is that you need to do all you can to strengthen it while taking pressure off of it. You don’t want to wait until it’s in its most vulnerable and weakened state to commit to a health regimen for it.

Your heart is one of the most vital organs you have in your body. While you can’t see it operating, behind the scenes, it’s ensuring you’re capable of living life to its fullest. Make sure you do everything possible to treat it right and give it a chance to offer you the support you need to carry out your day.

Give yourself a baseline heart health test by checking your blood pressure, getting some tests done at the doctor’s office, and then seeing what you can do to make improvement from that point on.

To better heart health.

Fran Watson

 

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Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a little girl…

Have you ever noticed that all fairy tales start with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”?  But before they get to that part, they have to through some trials.  So it is with life. We usually remember the ending but we forget the middle.

Cinderella

Take Cinderella – she had to deal with the death of her father, followed by mistreatment by her step mother and step sisters.  She worked hard, doing everything she had to do.  Her spirit was strong and she was brave.  She never lost sight of her dream to marry a handsome prince, and in the end, she overcame all of the difficulties to meet and marry her handsome prince.

Snow White

Snow White was so beautiful that her stepmother was jealous and commanded that she be killed, but her cheerful spirit won over the knave who was to kill her and he spared her life.  She worked hard in the home of the seven dwarfs, ate a poisoned apple and slept until awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty was cursed by a wicked fairy with a sleeping curse that caused her and all the members of the palace to fall asleep when she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel.  She too was awakened by the kiss of the handsome prince.

Fairy tales are popular, because they not only resemble life, but also have a strong, positive message.  The story I’m going to tell you starts out with a “once upon a time”, and it ends with a “happily ever after”, and, of course, there are some difficulties in the middle.

A Little Girl

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  In typical Cinderella fashion, her dream in life was to grow up, fall in love with a handsome prince, get married and have children.  Now when this little girl grew up and decided it was time to get married she started looking around for her knight in shining armor.  Since she was in a small town in a rural area, there were lots of horses around for the knight to ride but finding the knight in armor was a little more difficult.  She checked out one “knight” after another, until she finally discovered one that stood out a little.  He had a convertible……”hmmmm,” she thought.  “Maybe this is as close as I’m going to get to the shining armor.”  So she chose to marry him.

She looked like a fairy tale princess in her lovely white gown, but the wedding wasn’t exactly a fairy tale wedding.  Their reception hall, although a grand house, was not a castle.  There were no dwarfs, or wicked step-sisters, or evil fairies casting spells, or even fairy godmothers; just a cast of friends and relatives who gathered to witness the I do’s.

Once the wedding was over, the knight and the princess started to settle down into the “happily ever after” part, but the knight felt the need for further conquests and decided to quit his job with the bank for another job and so he and the princess moved into a dungeon.  Well, actually, a basement apartment.  It wasn’t too long after that when their landlady decided that she needed the apartment.  It was to be for her son who was returning home, so they returned to her parents’ home where they lived in a small 9 x 10 bedroom for a month or so.  Her knight decided that prospects would be better in the big city – Ottawa.

While he was job hunting and they were apartment searching, they lived with his aunt and uncle.  Unfortunately his uncle was an ogre who started the day with beer and his Siamese cats were allowed to jump up on the table and eat from his plate.  After 3 weeks they moved to the Chicken Little motel where they lived for the next 6 weeks while they continued to hunt for their “dream castle”.  Good apartments were few and far between, so when they discovered a clean and airy one-bedroom apartment, they grabbed it as they walked through the door.

Their possessions were few, but they were happy.   They had a place of their own. They lived in that apartment with their bed, their two laundry hampers, their card table and a few pots and pans for a while before they purchased a couch, some curtains, and eventually some dressers.  They later moved to a two bedroom apartment in the same complex and then on to a new house in the suburbs just after their first child, a son, was born.  Now they could live “happily ever after” in their “castle”.

But wait, there’s more.  As the knight travelled around the country on his various quests, his eyes began roving over the other fair maidens around him.  He chose one or two to sample while his beloved waited at home with their child.  Although there was a second child on the way, the knight no longer felt the same and after she was born he began a long-term affair.

His beloved, not knowing that she had been forsaken for another, naively believed that his business troubles were what were causing him stress.  She believed this for almost four years and was pregnant again when she found out the truth.  Although he accompanied her to the hospital for the birth, she was alone with her child a few days later.

Because she believed in the vows she had made, they reconciled and moved to a small town in a rural area, but it didn’t work and he moved out again.  She worked part-time and raised her 3 children despite problems like the plumbing freezing in the winter and having to pump from an outside pump, not being able to do laundry and having to heat water on the oil stove.  She definitely was feeling like Cinderella as she swept the floors and kept the stove operating.

She knew the story of the 3 little pigs and so she tried to keep the wolf from the door so that he wouldn’t come and blow in their house of sticks.  And although sometimes she felt like she really needed a break, she did not ever consider taking the children to the woods and leaving them for the wicked witch with the gingerbread house to find.

She carried on and once again tried reconciliation with her knight in rusting armor.  This reconciliation resulted in a pregnancy – their fourth child.  Things seemed blissful for a while, but then realizing that he was continuing his unfaithfulness she chose to ask him to leave.

Once he was gone she continued working full time while raising her children.  She did not have the luxury of staying home with her youngest children and she was disappointed, but she knew that she had to support them the best she could.  She warned them not to open the door to strangers so that they would not end up in the wolf’s stomach like the little goat kids did.  Although she was handy with a needle and thread, she didn’t want to deal with stitching up a wolf.

She encouraged and loved her children and supported them in a variety of activities such as skating, hockey, basketball, volleyball, music, dancing, and baking gingerbread men.  She wanted them to enjoy their life and use their talents to be the best they could be.  And so they did.  She could not always protect them as much as she wanted to, but she loved them as much as she could”.  Sometimes it seemed like the Pied Piper lived at her house as the neighborhood children all gathered there.  It was not unusual to see 8 – 10 kids there at any time.  People even stopped by wondering if she was the old lady who lived in the shoe and if she wanted to take on more kids to look after.

The years passed much too quickly and her children began to leave home to go on to further education or employment.  Two of her children had children and all of a sudden she was a grandmother.  She thought she was much too young to be a grandmother, but it allowed her to have fun with them and not be too stuffy.  She didn’t ever want to end up eaten by the big bad wolf however, so she never requested any baskets of goodies be brought to the house, although it would give her an opportunity to meet a handsome woods man.

As her last child left home, she thought that now she could live “happily ever after” with her books, her sewing, her crafts, her friends and her computer. What she realized was that she had been living happily ever after all along.  You see, “happily ever after” is a choice we make every day.  We choose to be happy or sad — to have a pity party or a “just because its today” party.  Happily ever after is a state of mind, not a set of circumstances.  As she began to understand, she decided it was time to share with others what she discovered so that they too could begin to live “happily ever after” wherever they were in life.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The first step to a great life is to fill your life with a positive faith that will help you through anything. The second is to begin where you are.”

Too many people are waiting for something to happen, some event that will allow them to live “happily ever after”.  “When I win the lottery, when I get that new job, when I get that new car, when I meet a wonderful person,” and so on and so on.

In closing I want to remind you that you too can live “happily ever after” despite your troubles, despite your past experiences, despite whatever circumstances you find yourself in.  It’s up to you to choose.  Choose wisely.  As Zig Ziglar says – “Failure is an event, not a person.  Yesterday really did end at midnight, and tomorrow really is a new day.”

To making the right choices

Fran Watson

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Senior Fitness

The Importance of Fitness For Seniors

Fitness is vital for everyone, regardless of their age. However, as you get older, there are some increases in your needs, including a bigger need for being physical fit. Here are some reasons you should focus on your fitness as a senior.

Improves Cognitive Function

For a number of years, it’s been known that there is a link between physical activity and cognitive health. Some think this could be due to the increase of blood flow to all parts of the body including the brain. Having a well maintained routine has been shown to have a noticeably positive effect on depression, as well as a reduction in damage resulting from cognitive brain disorders. Daily exercise improves coordination and communication between the brain and the body, which is better for a healthy system overall.

Helps Prevent Diseases and Injury

It’s been discovered that an active lifestyle during the senior years can improve blood pressure, and in turn aid heart health. Getting your heart rate up for a sustained period helps to strengthen the heart which can help reduce the risk of heart failure. Exercise can also shore up the muscles that you need to remain balanced, which results in a reduction of risk for falling. The simple act of standing, extending and stretching can help preserve flexibility, which will both reduce risk of muscle injury, and help to slow or prevent loss of bone density.

Your Body Will Heal Better

When the body is heavily taxed, healing becomes a much more difficult process. A healthy body will be more efficient at repairs because it isn’t working as hard to keep the body alive. Having a healthy heart that pumps blood properly to all extremities, lungs that function, and a digestive system that can absorb and replace vital nutrients will create a situation that makes it easier for systems to focus on their job and replace damaged cells.

Listening To Your Body For Better Health

For many of us, better health does not come naturally. It is usually something we must work on in order to lead healthy lives and have overall excellent health. This means listening to your body and understanding what it is telling you about what is going on inside the body. Here are some ways you can listen to your body so you can have a life that is sustained by good health.

Watching The Scale

You can listen to your body every time you put on your clothes or when stepping on the scale.  Do your clothes fit right?  Are they becoming too loose on you or are they fitting snuggly?  Is the scale tipping one way or another in the wrong direction?  If you find that you are losing too much weight or packing on the pounds, it may be that you are being affected by stress and are not eating in ways that promote good health. Good health comes from eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. This is in lieu of eating processed foods such as cookies, cakes, processed meals, and candies—all of which have excess calories and preservatives that are generally unhealthy for you.

Eating too little can affect your health as well. When you eat less than the amount of food you are supposed to eat, you can suffer from lack of proper nutrients. Lacking in proper nutrients, your body does not function properly and you can cause yourself to be sick from lack of the nutrients to support immune health.

Listen To Your Digestive System

Your digestive system is not only the way you get proper nutrients. It also is the main way your body uses to protect itself from pathogens. The digestive system is one big part of the immune system so you need to treat it with the care it deserves. This means paying attention to episodes of diarrhea that can strip the colon of protective bacteria, constipation, and indigestion from being under excess stress or eating the wrong foods.

You can care for your digestive system by eating healthy foods and by taking probiotics, which can replenish the gut with good bacteria. Probiotics can be taken in by eating plain yogurt with live cultures or by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir.

If you can’t get it in the foods you eat, you can purchase many probiotic supplements at the drug store or online. Some of the best probiotics are those that come in spore form. The spores can survive the acidic environment of your stomach and then release the live bacteria in the intestines, where they take root and drive out the bad bacteria and fungi.

Listen To Your Cardiovascular System

This means following your blood pressure and pulse very carefully. If you are inactive or have a family history of high blood pressure, you may be suffering from high blood pressure and not know it. This is what happened to me.  My blood pressure was over 200 when I went in to see my doctor and he asked how I had even come into his office.  I felt fine, but it appears I was a walking potential heart attack.

Check your blood pressure every time you run across a blood pressure machine at the drug store or grocery store if you feel it might be high. When you see the doctor, your blood pressure will be taken as well. If it is consistently elevated, you may need to be on an antihypertensive medication or modify your diet and exercise program so you can avoid some of the many complications of high blood pressure.

You should check your pulse as well on a periodic basis. A high pulse can mean that you are too inactive or are under a great deal of stress. Exercise can cause your heart to function better and will slow your pulse to normal levels.

Listen For And Respect Signs Of Stress and Fatigue

Feel tired, but keep pushing yourself past your limits? Are you fighting fatigue on a regular basis, instead of taking the time to rest and rejuvenate? Fatigue and low energy are both your body talking to you and letting you know that you need to rest and relax, if you don’t listed you will crash and burn.

Are you ignoring anxiety, instead of looking to erase its sources and lower stress levels? Stress kills, and you are the only one that can take care to reduce its load on your body, mind, and spirit. Great ways to fight stress and its impact are Tai Chi, meditation, yoga and taking vacations on a regular basis.

Fran Watson

P.S. Please share these tips with any seniors you know and please comment if you find them helpful.

P.P.S.  New to Yoga?  Here are some tips to start – Over 5o Yoga

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Dehydration

Last November when my sister and I were called in as they felt my mother was at end of life, we found that she was very dehydrated.  The reason for this?  When the drinks were brought around, if she was sleeping, they didn’t leave one for her as she can not reach for it or drink it herself and they didn’t wake her up to drink.

If she was awake, they would give her something to drink, but didn’t have the time to stay with her while she finished a full glass of anything.

Once I was coming in every day and making her drink juice and/or water – a full glass, she recovered and is still going strong at 100.  She is 2 months short of her 101st birthday now.

There have been reports that many of the seniors who died during this Covid pandemic have also been dehydrated.

One of the most terrible findings of the final report of Ontario’s independent commission into long-term care is that some residents died, not of COVID-19 but of neglect and dehydration.

“Apart from fatalities due to COVID-19, residents died as a result of neglect due to staff shortages,” the commission wrote in its final report, released Friday. “For example, the commission was told that malnutrition and dehydration occurred due to a lack of available staff to tend to resident needs. As a result of these conditions, some residents spent their final hours in complete isolation and ultimately died alone.”  https://www.qpbriefing.com/2021/05/03/we-have-to-move-forward-minister-responds-to-ltc-report-finding-that-seniors-died-of-dehydration-and-neglect/

Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration in elderly adults may sometimes be subtle, but not drinking enough water and fluids can have a big effect on the body, especially in the elderlySevere dehydration can lead to confusion, weakness, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bedsores in bedridden patients, and other serious conditions.

If you do not drink enough, sweat too much, or have severe diarrhea, you can become dehydrated. Mild to moderate dehydration isn’t that dangerous and can be corrected by drinking more fluids.

If the dehydration worsens and becomes severe dehydration, you may need to have IV fluids to correct the condition.

Here are some signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration:

  • Having a dry mouth
  • Feeling fatigued or sleepy all the time
  • Having increased thirstiness
  • Having a decreased urine output with urine that is more yellow than it usually is
  • Having dry or flaky skin
  • Being dizzy
  • Having a headache from low blood volume in the brain
  • Crying without having many tears

If the dehydration is allowed to worsen and you continue to lose body water, you may see the following signs and symptoms:

  • A severe reduction in the output of urine or the absence of urine at all. If there is any urine produced, it will be scant in amount and a deep yellow color or amber/brown color.
  • Lightheadedness or severe dizziness that is worse when you stand up or get up from a reclining position.
  • Orthostatic hypotension. This is a severe drop in blood pressure that occurs when you try to get up after sitting or lying down.
  • Rapid heart rate from the heart trying to compensate for a low blood volume.
  • Fever, which is usually low grade in nature
  • Seizures, which are usually grand mal seizures
  • Poor elasticity of the skin. When you pinch it, the skin tents up and doesn’t go back to its normal position.
  • Being lethargic or confused
  • Going into a coma
  • Suffering from extreme shock, which can be life threatening.

Dehydration has a way of sneaking up on you, especially if you are otherwise occupied with other things, such as the activity you are doing or are wrapped up in being sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

As soon as you start to feel the symptoms, you need to be thinking about hydrating yourself.

Treating Mild To Moderate Dehydration

If the symptoms are mild and you can still drink, try to step up the amount of fluids you are taking in. Water is perhaps the best choice for treating dehydration. Other good choices include Gatorade or PowerAde, which provide liquids plus electrolytes, which can be lost in sweating, vomiting, or having diarrhea.

If the problem is due to vomiting or diarrhea, you can buy some Pedialyte or your doctor may prescribe anti-emetic (anti-nausea) medication. These can be prescribed for you from your doctor.

Over the counter anti-diarrheal medication is another choice as long as the diarrhea isn’t from food poisoning. (In such cases, it is best to replace fluids only and allow the bacteria causing the diarrhea to flush out of your system).

Treating Severe Dehydration

If the dehydration is severe and you are suffering from some of the severe dehydration symptoms listed above, you need to consider checking yourself into a hospital and receiving IV fluids.

IV fluids have not only the water you need but contain sugars and salt solution that will restore your normal electrolyte balance. It can take as little as a liter of fluid to turn around the dehydration or as many as five or more liters of IV fluid.

Consequences Of Severe Dehydration

Besides seizures, one of the main consequences of severe dehydration includes damage to the kidneys. If the kidneys do not have fluid to flush through the tubules, you can actually suffer from acute kidney failure.

The kidneys can shut down and will only return to normal functioning with careful replacement of fluids and time. Replacing the fluids too fast, however, can result in cerebral edema and electrolyte disturbance within the brain.

 

Stay Hydrated

To avoid these horrible consequences drink water regularly. This is easy when you always have access to water, by keeping a bottle of water in your car, and on your desk or near you wherever you work. You can even keep a small bottle in handbag and refill it throughout the day.

You can keep track of your water intake in a number of ways – put 64 oz of water in the fridge and be sure you finish it by the end of the day.  Put 8 pennies on your counter and as you drink an 8 oz glass of water you move one penny.  When you have moved all the pennies, you have had 64 oz of water.

Many seniors forget to drink water.  I know that my mom for years had to be coaxed to drink water on a regular basis and my partner does not drink enough water.  He drinks liquids – coffee, milk, iced tea, but not just plain water except in really hot weather.

How about you?  Are you staying hydrated? It’s especially important on these hot summer days.

Stay well, stay safe, and please pass on these words of warning to others you may know.

Fran Watson

P.S.  Here is something that may help you keep track 

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Staying Mentally Fit

4 Ways To Stay Mentally Fit

It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind of taking care of everyone and everything else, and forget to take care of ourselves. It’s easy not to pay attention to what we eat, when we exercise or how we stimulate our brains, which is a necessity that’s almost always overlooked.  How often have you looked at the clock and realized that you should have had your meal an hour or so ago?

Just like our bodies need exercise to stay fit and youthful, our brains also need a good daily workout to ensure that our brain cells remain healthy and vibrant well into our golden years. Feeling proactive about your health and taking things into your own hands can mean the difference between aging gracefully and withering away.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather age gracefully than wither….

Staying mentally healthy enables us to stay attentive, efficiently manage our relationships, and deal with challenges and stress. It also helps you connect with who you are as a person and allow you to take pride in yourself and your abilities.

Read on for 4 ideas on how to keep your mind stimulated:

1. Search for knowledge

Numerous studies have been done on the correlation between the amount of knowledge you surround yourself with and the wellness of your cognitive functions.

Nowadays, information can be retrieved with the touch of a button, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in an ocean of books, podcasts, articles, and even mentally stimulating games, such as jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, and a wide range of others.

When you learn something new, or engage in any sort of mental activity, you build new neural pathways in the brain, and the more connections each of our neurons has with other neurons, the more perceptive it is.

2. Form healthy habits

Even the task of writing down your goals helps keep you mentally alert. It gives you something to plan and look forward to. It also keeps you engaged in something that boosts your brain cells while giving your emotions an outlet.

Make it a point to try something new every month, like a new hobby or new exercise routine.

Challenge yourself to read a different book each week or eat at a new restaurant every now and then.

These tasks keep your mind on alert, mainly because you’re engaging in the process of learning, and, in addition, because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. All these factors help boost concentration levels, as well as your confidence in your abilities to try new things and meet new people.

3. Exercise, preferably outdoors

Regular exercise releases ‘feel good hormones’ into your bloodstream, boosting your mood, and elevating memory and concentration levels.  It also helps when you have to look after your very active grandchildren.  I have the wonderful privilege of helping out with the care of 4 of my grandchildren – almost 1, 1 1/2, 3 and 5.  Thank goodness I have been doing my stretching exercises since I was 40.  At 72 I can still get down on the floor to play (and get up again, although that is a little harder….).

Mixing up workout styles or trying out a new jogging route helps form new patterns in your brain which means more neural pathways, and less cognitive decline. To make the most of exercising, try taking your workout to the nearest park where you can connect more with nature, breathe in some fresh air, and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is known for its ability to prevent depression. Plus, any type of physical activity helps eliminate brain fog, boost energy levels and alleviate stress.  I have been taking Vitamin D for at least 10 years now since a nurse I know gave a talk on the importance of Vitamin D for staying healthy.  I made sure my mother (who is 2 1/2 months short of her 101st birthday) also took Vitamin D for the past 8 years.

4. Manage stress

We all deal with stress and anxiety on a daily basis. But when cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are left unchecked, they start messing with your overall wellbeing. That’s why it’s smart to invest a few minutes each day in releasing that negative tension regularly built up by stress. You can do this through meditating, practicing mindfulness, yoga, or prayer.  You could also start your day with a reading or journaling.

To staying mentally and physically fit

Fran Watson

P.S.  If you would like a self care journal, click here

 

 

 

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June is Senior’s Month

June is Senior’s Month

In non-covid years there have been opportunities for seniors to participate in various games and activities for the month of June, but now many seniors, particularly those in nursing homes or seniors’ residences have been isolated and unable to even get together with each other let alone their families and friends.

As the daughter of a nursing home resident, I have seen the inside of this situation, having been called in last November that my mother was at “end of life”.  However, after a few visits from my sister and me, she rallied and is still going.  If she makes it til the end of August, she will be 101.

Visits are so important to the elderly – and to their families.  My kids can hardly wait to see their grandmother again.  When Mom turned 100 last August we were lucky enough to be able to have some restricted visitation – 6 feet distance, masks, and only 2 at a time, but we were all able to go in to see Mom for her birthday – it took about 1 1/2 hours for us all to have a short 10-15 minute visit, but it was worth it.  The only regret we had was that we couldn’t get close enough to give her a hug.

We had two new babies, one only 20 days old at the time and another grandchild who was 2 that she hadn’t seen since he was a baby.

I have been going in to see my Mom almost daily since last November and have been able to take her outside a few times.  She loves the sun – she loves to “absorb” the heat.  Unfortunately Mom is now blind and hard of hearing, so you have to be up close for her to hear what you are saying.  She is also suffering from dementia, so some of her stories are a little strange.

At 72 years of age, I too am a senior and I wonder what life will be like for me in another 10 – 20 years. I only have my OAS and CPP, and that is not enough to cover the costs of a senior’s residence. My kids will have teenagers and may not appreciate having an old lady in the house…LOL.

I have also seen the things that happen in nursing homes due to shortage of workers.  I know that my mom suffered from dehydration as people didn’t have the time to make sure she was drinking or if she was sleeping they didn’t even leave a drink.

When I was speaking to one of the PSWs, she said that although a number of people had gone through the training and been hired, many of them had no real awareness of the job they would have to be doing – such as toileting and cleaning up of many of the residents.

My mom is confined to a wheelchair which means that they need two people when she is being moved.  This can often mean a wait while a second person is found.  They are supposed to have 2 people available for her wing, but….

When my mother-in-law was in a nursing home 20 years ago, I saw the same situation – too much work for the limited staff members and I wrote a poem a while ago about it.  You can read it here.

I will be posting more information for and about senior things during this month.  I will include articles on working from home, finding a job as a mature worker and more.

I look forward to connecting with any of you who are seniors or who are looking after seniors.  And if you have any helpful links, please share them.

Have a great day!

Fran

 

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Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day, a day for taking action to help the earth, “going green,” and making a thriving environment for our future generations.

  • Organize a park cleanup in your city.
  • Stream a tree-planting ceremony where you plant a tree and talk about the benefits of living in harmony with nature.
  • Take a walk in a forest setting

Strolls amidst nature are therapeutic.  Take advantage of Earth Day to reflect and wander about in nature today.

When it feels like I have very little steam left in my engine, I head to nature. I find an outdoor environment and get lost in it. There is something healing and renewing about fresh air.

Inhaling the scents of the elements of nature connect me to my origin. I am reminded that I am naturally strong and capable.

Outdoor time allows me to heal difficult relationships with friends and family members. The fresh air gives me a clear mind and a shift in perspective. The same is true when I am searching for new business opportunities at work.

I am more innovative when I seek inspiration from nature. I become creative by observing the intricate patterns on leaves and the precision with which nature feeds itself each day.

Strolling through the forest nearby teaches me that it is possible to live well with others. When I see the plants sharing the same resources each day, I know I am capable of living in harmony with my colleagues at work. There are enough opportunities to make each person a success story, so I willingly share them with others.

Today, the renewal of my mind and body are possible when I make time for nature strolls. I am thankful for the power of healing and clarity that comes from a natural environment. My life is richer when I take cues from dwellers in the natural world.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. How much time do you dedicate to nature walks?

2. What are some of the answers you find when you take some time to walk amongst nature?

3. How are you able to bring the natural influence into your personal space?

Going Green – Spring Cleaning Tips That Are Good for the Earth

Spring cleaning is a popular time to get your life into shape. You can use the opportunity to make many positive changes to your home and life. You can organize, clean, and bring a happy and peaceful feeling to yourself once you’re finished.

In addition, you can take earth friendly steps to do what’s best for the planet while you’re cleaning.

Here are some ways you can go green while spring cleaning:

1. Use green cleaning products. Your first step should be to use green cleaning products instead of traditional products that contain harsh chemicals. These products are better for your own health as well as the environment. This is because they’re non-toxic and are generally made from renewable resources.

2. Make your own cleaning products. You don’t even need to purchase “green” specific cleaning products. You can clean just as well using homemade cleaning solutions made from baking soda and vinegar. They’re known as the ultimate all-purpose cleaners and can clean nearly any surface.

3. Air out your home. One of the easiest and best ways to bring a natural and clean feeling to your home is to simply air it out. This will flow out toxins and rejuvenate your home in a completely natural way. The best part: All you need to do is open the window!

4. Keeping your air fresh. Do you use air fresheners to keep your house smelling nice? Rather than buying ready-made fresheners, you can go with something completely natural, instead. Herbs and plants give off pleasant odors. You can even consider baking more often to bring some nice scents into the home.

5. Use green cleaning services. Maybe you don’t always have time to complete your cleaning on your own, especially the deeper cleaning that’s usually associated with spring cleaning. Shop your local area for people advertising green cleaning services; it’ll take the work out of green cleaning for you and you know you’ll be doing the best thing for your home and family.

6. Prevent unnecessary dirt. You can also use spring cleaning time to bring out some new home rules created with prevention, instead of clean-up, in mind.

* Start with the floors and all the dirty, toxic materials that get brought in on your shoes. Simply start a “no shoes indoors” policy and your house will stay cleaner in the first place.

7. Air-dry your laundry. During spring cleaning, you might be taking the time to wash many larger items like blankets and comforters. Find a clothes line and air dry these if possible.  There’s nothing like the smell of sun dried clothes… It takes me back to my childhood…freshly washed sheets on the clothesline.

8. Cleaning your furniture. You can even make your own wood cleaners and polish with healthy, natural ingredients. Use a combination of olive oil and lemon juice to clean and polish your wood furniture. This cleaner produces a shiny and pleasant smelling finish.

On Earth Day and every other day, going green with your spring cleaning is a great idea. You’re helping the planet, exposing yourself to fewer chemicals, and saving money at the same time. Oftentimes, it’s just best to go natural. Follow these tips and go green while you clean!

Happy Earth Day 2021!!

Fran Watson

P.S.  The song at the beginning of this blog is one of the many recorded by my son Aerik Watson #aerikwatson #singersongwriter

 

 

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Stress Awareness

April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day

We live in stressful times. It’s almost impossible to live without any stress at all.

Stressed?

3 Simple Actions That Lower Your Stress Level

If the hustle, bustle, and challenges of everyday life are making your stress levels inch up each day, you must find a way to break free! Holding onto the stresses of yesterday will simply add to the tension of today and tomorrow. Soon the amount of pressure you carry around inside you from this stress may become unbearable.

You work hard to provide a good life for your family, but stress can prevent you from enjoying that life. Don’t allow stress and worries to rob you of the happiness you deserve!

Follow these easy strategies to help you banish daily worries and stress:

  1. Ask for help. If you’re constantly running on empty, your mind, body, and soul will suffer the repercussions of your tenacity. There’s no shame in asking for a helping hand. Sometimes, you’ll be able lean on a spouse, coworker, or friend, but other times you may have to hire help.
  • If your mounting responsibilities are barely allowing you the necessary time to eat and sleep, you may have too much on your plate. Streamline your responsibilities by creating a time-effective plan for crossing the items off of your to-do list in less time.
  • Most people are delighted to be needed and will be more than willing to help you. If housework is the culprit of your stress, divide the tasks equally amongst the family members in your household.
  1. Set aside time for yourself. What do you enjoy doing? Knitting, relaxing in a bubble bath, drawing, lounging in bed watching reruns of the Golden Girls? Indulge yourself in your favorite lazy activity a few times each week.
  •  Carve out a few hours each weekend to indulge in your favorite lazy activity. Choose at least one weeknight to relax after work. Sitting in a candlelit bubble bath while listening to your favorite CD and reading a magazine is an effective treatment for washing the day’s stresses away.
  • Refrain from feeling selfish for taking time for yourself. You may be a busy professional, a spouse, a parent and have a home to maintain all at the same time; however, taking two hours now to de-stress will save you from going into overdrive and possibly stressing out your loved ones later.
  1. Socialize! Making time for socializing with friends and family is a vital aspect of managing your stress levels. Friends and family make you laugh and provides you with a shoulder to lean on. This, in itself, will deplete your stress levels exponentially.
  • If possible, designate one day per week (like Sundays) to spend time with extended family and friends, even if it is just over Zoom or the telephone. You could host a neighborhood barbeque in your backyard, host a Sport Sunday gathering, or simply have coffee with your closest pals once the pandemic is over.
  • Living far away from friends and family can truly dampen your ability to socialize. Although currently you may be under restrictions due to the pandemic, you may still be able to meet friends at church, at the park with your kids.  When you are able to be out and about again, check out the community meeting site, MeetUp.com to find a group of likeminded folks.
  • When hosting events in your home, avoid fretting about the details. This will counteract your efforts to de-stress! Have a simple plan, such as using paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils for easy cleanup. Perhaps you can order pizza rather than cooking.

Stress seems like a normal part of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re willing to put your sanity first. Most of the time there’s a simple fix to the challenges that are causing you stress. Simply readjust the way you perceive the issues and how you address them. Both beauty and stress are in the eye of the beholder!

With a bit of creative thinking and time management, there are ways to find peace in your daily chaos. When you turn off the outside chaos, it gives you a chance to revel in all that is good and right with your world. And when you do this, you emerge with renewed energy and a fresh new attitude!

Be happy

Reduce your stress by following these tips to enjoy more peace in your life:

1. Read a good book. If you’re one of many who enjoy reading, this may be just what you need. You can spend some time immersed in a different place or time, which will help you regain your calm. If you have a hard time focusing for long periods of time, try an audio book instead.

2. Listen to uplifting music. Music has always had wonderful and mysterious powers. It’s used to calm children, the elderly, and even animals during times of stress and angst. Play music that appeals to you. Dance, sing along, or just sit back and listen to its beautiful melody.

3. Reflect and meditate. Focus on everything that’s good and right with your life. Think of those you love and what you hope for them in the future. Think about your own future as well and what you hope to achieve in your lifetime.

* Close your eyes, sit in a comfortable chair, or lie down on your bed. Block out all sources of stress and think only positive thoughts.

4. Enjoy some family time. Spending time with those you love is often a great stress reliever. Choose a fun activity that you can all enjoy. You may want to play a board game or pop some popcorn and watch a movie together.

* It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you can have some fun and relax together.

5. Get some assistance from the experts. Many noted authors have written invaluable books on the topics of de-stressing and de-cluttering your life. You can even purchase these books in an audio format and listen to them during your commute.

* When you’re stuck in traffic, rather than getting upset, why not turn this time into a way to de-stress?

6. Slow down. Take your time, stop and smell the roses, and listen to the birds chirp. Everything you need so desperately to accomplish will still be there waiting for you five minutes later. It’s a beautiful world out there! Do everything you can to make sure you enjoy every minute of it.

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Nutrition Month

6 Ways to Cook Healthier

Whether you’re hoping to lose weight or just trying to improve your overall health,
The way you cook can mean the difference between you feeling energetic and getting the right kinds of nutrients, and you feeling sluggish because you’re detouring away from your usual calorie and sugar-laden ways.

There are many changes you can make to your diet that don’t have you feeling deprived. In fact, you may feel more sustained and satisfied than ever before once you implement these tips.

Some people worry that healthy means bland and flavorless. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You just need to learn how to bring out the rich flavors of foods in their more natural way than masking it with unhealthy salts and sugars.

There are six easy ways to improve the way that you eat without vowing to deprive yourself of the foods that you want. It’s just a few simple alterations and you could be seeing changes in your health stats and energy levels easily!

#1 – Choose the Right Cooking Methods

The actual method that you cook foods in can play a big role in how healthy your meals are. Some people only focus on calories – never giving credence to healthier cooking options.

Let’s start with a big misconception people have about microwaving. We tend to view a microwave as unhealthy, but it’s primarily because of the typical foods we put in there – processed, quick and easy meals.

Of course those aren’t healthy for you! They’re packed with unrefined grains, fatty meats and sugars. But if you turned your microwave into a home for healthy vegetables, you’d see a whole new side of it.

Vegetables do best when they’re lightly cooked. A fast nuke in the microwave can heat up and soften your vegetables without you having to drain all of the nutrients from them with lengthy cooking methods.

Many things can be rapidly cooked in a microwave without having to use the same fattening oils (like butter) that you might put in a pan if you were to cook it on a stovetop instead.

The biggest problem with microwave cooking is that people don’t know how to cook more complex foods or meals in it. They only know how to melt chocolate or blow up a bag of popcorn in it – but now there are tons of books and even videos that teach you how to cook complete meals that are healthy for you in your microwave oven.

Steaming is another great way to cook healthier. Steaming lightly preserves the nutrients of the foods that you’re cooking. Of course some people steam the foods to the point where they lose their vitamins and minerals, so timing is everything.

When you steam foods, you won’t have the oils and fats that normally give foods flavor with other cooking methods. So you want to learn how to use herbs and seasonings for a natural flavor punch that won’t sabotage your health/

Baking is healthy if you choose the rights food to put into your oven. You can help foods retain their natural juices and flavor through the use of baking. You might lose some of the nutrients due to the lengthy heat required to thoroughly cook many foods, but you do get the benefit of not having to add fats to your foods while getting them to a “done” state.

Grilling is fantastic for healthier eating. Not only does your food cook without harmful fats, but the flavor that grilling imparts on your food is absolutely amazing!

Invest in a good grill that won’t be so complex to use that you dread it. Have something easy that you can use constantly. They even have little indoor grills you can use to cook healthier these days!

Boiling, frying and poaching decrease nutrients or add fat to your meals in some cases. With boiling, you are cooking at such high heat levels that all of the benefits of the foods you’re eating get lost in the water.

Frying can be done in levels of healthy or unhealthy. You can cook in solid lard, which is obviously very unhealthy, or use better oils like olive oil to fry, which is healthier.

Even poaching can sometimes drain foods of their nutrients, but it’s also healthy to cook some meats like salmon this way, so no cooking method is completely off limits – just learn how to maximize your meal quality.

The following tips can help with that aspect of it.

#2 – Cooking With Meat

Most people are not vegetarians or vegans, although it is a fast-growing segment of the population. You can certainly add meatless meals to your cooking plans and have a much healthier outcome – but some people like meat and want to continue consuming it, so you need to learn how to make it better.

First, start by choosing organic meats. You want foods that haven’t been fed tons of hormones or feed that isn’t healthy for them. It’s a humane issue for many, but even if it’s not for you, focus on the fact that free-range animals who have organic feed are healthier for your body.

Organic does cost a teeny bit more than other cuts of meat, but if you’re looking at cost, think of the cost is has on your body, and even the future medical costs you’ll have due to poor choices.

Once you find meats that are cut from animals raised in a good environment, choose better cuts of meat, like those that naturally have less fat on them. A filet mignon is going to be a healthy cut of steak, but remove the bacon wrapped around it before eating it.

Lean meats – meats that have less marbling – can still be packed with flavor and juices – you just have to learn how to cook it so that it retains that flavor without drying out.

Buying beef like hamburger meat is easy because it will be labeled with the percentage of fat. You may have always bought 80/20 so that it would be juicy, but start learning how to prepare the 95/5 packs instead.

If you’re buying chicken, look for skinless cuts rather than those with the skin on. If you’re on a budget, just remove the skin at home before cooking. Generally, white meat is healthier than brown, but there’s new evidence showing brown chicken has some benefits, too.

In general, it’s best to cook fish instead of other meats. Chicken is next on the healthy scale, followed by beef and then pork. Of course there are ways to make all of these meats healthier, if you try.

#3 – Cooking With Fat

Fats are actually good for you! You shouldn’t be on a diet that eliminates fats completely. But there are good fats, and bad fats – and you want to cook with the healthier options.

You want to get rid of the artery cloggers. If the fat is hard in its room temperature state, it’s not as healthy as a liquid one will be. For example, olive oil (a liquid) is healthier than a stick of butter.

Understand that a little bit of fat goes a long way in terms of moistening your foods and in giving them flavor. Consider even using spray on types of fats for fewer calories.

Select fats that aren’t packed with trans fat or saturated fat. Pick corn oils and canola, olive oil and other oils made from things like sesame or sunflowers. Don’t use fats from animals like lard. Not all non-animals fats are healthy. Coconut oil and palm oils have lots of saturated fat in them.

#4 – Cooking With Grains

When you eat grains, you might be thinking you’re eating healthier. But unless those grains are whole, in their natural state, not refined and processed, then they’re less healthy.

You should be finding breads and beans that are still whole, not processed and stripped of their nutrients. It can be hard to get used to but try various types to find what tastes best to you.

Also try a new slew of grains – things you may not have ever tasted before like quinoa. Look up flavorful recipes and see how you like it. Or, if you see it on a menu at a restaurant, give it a shot!

#5 – Cooking With Vegetables

It’s been mentioned before, but the less you cook your vegetables, the better they are for you. Heat depletes them of their vitamins and minerals. So lightly steam or sauté and then eat them.

Better yet, eat them raw! There are many foods that taste wonderful raw, including baby spinach, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and more.

#6 – Tweak Your Recipes for Improved Health

You probably have some favorite recipes lying around that are your “go to” meals for things like special occasions – or even everyday life! Look at how you can make each meal healthier and over time, you’ll cut back on a lot of calories, salt and unhealthy ingredients.

For example, if a recipe calls for one egg, use double the measurements – of the egg whites only! Or if it calls for something like sour cream or cottage cheese, you don’t have to lose all of the flavor with a fat-free version, but go light or reduced fat instead.

What is your favourite way to cook? – I love it when the weather gets warm enough to bbq and eat outside!

Fran Watson

P.S.  If you have a favorite recipe, why not share it with us below.

P.P.S.  Get some Free Sample Recipes here

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