The Healthiest Sweetener

Healthy Natural Sweeteners For A Healthy Lifestyle DietBy: Michael Greger, MD. Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Now there are sweeteners that do have some nutrition. This new article in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association measured the antioxidant content of a whole list. Which is healthier? In alphabetical order: Agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, date sugar, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, raw cane sugar, plain old sugar sugar, or turbinado sugar.

Two actually have some significant nutrition, but the rest are pretty much a wash. Let’s start filling this in. Should we start with an easy one to launch us off? Table sugar versus raw, pure organic agave nectar. Which is worse? Does sugar have less nutrition? Or does agave nectar have less nutrition? Or do they both have the same? Remember how I asked if we should start out with an easy one? Well I guess the answer is no. They have exactly the same nutrition, which is to say basically none. Sugar is here, agave is here. Each with a completely pitiful two micromoles of plasma ferric acid reducing ability, which is essentially zero antioxidant power. There’s one sweetener with even less though. Now all these down at that end are basically just empty calories, but out of curiosity, what has even less nutrition than sugar?

Ten left to choose from. Which one is all the way down at the end? Do you think molasses is least healthy? Brown rice syrup? Corn syrup? Date sugar? Dark brown? Light brown? Maple? Honey? Raw case? Turbinado?
Now we knew corn syrup was here—same as sugar, remember?
They’re all empty calories, but brown rice syrup measured out as the emptiest.

Which is worse? Honey??? Maple syrup??? Or the same???
Well they can’t be the same, right? There aren’t two bars left the same size. Both still just sugar, but honey beats out maple syrup.

In fact all these down here are basically just sugar, whether dark, light, raw, or turbinado. There are only two health promoting sweeteners, only two sweeteners that are actually good for you—molasses and date sugar. They’re both good, but out of curiosity which one falls to second place. Do you think molasses is less healthy than date sugar? Or does date sugar fall to second-place?

The healthiest sweetener on the planet is, date sugar. Date sugar is not sugar, it’s just whole dried dates pulverized into powder. As the only whole food up there, no wonder it’s number one. It’s the only thing I ever use in baking. Because it’s a whole plant food it has fiber, though, so there is a thickening effect, which is great for smoothies or hot chocolate, but what if you want to sweeten your tea or coffee? You don’t exactly want thick tea. Now you could add sugar, but then you’re adding empty calories, and if you drink as much tea as you really should, that can add up.

Doctor’s Note

For some of the most recent videos on dates:
How to Reach the Antioxidant RDA
Spicing Up DNA Protection

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on sweeteners. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: The Best Foods: test your nutrition knowledgeIs There a Safe, Low-Calorie Sweetener?, and Which Common Fruit Fights Cancer Better?

Photo Source: Robins Key

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.:

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

The Best Kept Secret in Medicine

Lifestyle Medicine For Breast Cancer PreventionBy: Micheal Greger, MD, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Even though the most widely accepted, well-established chronic disease practice guidelines uniformly call for lifestyle change as the first line of therapy, physicians often do not follow these guidelines. Yet, lifestyle interventions are often more effective in reducing heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and deaths from all causes than almost any other medical intervention.

“Some useful lessons come from the war on tobacco,” Dr. Neal Barnard wrote in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics. When he stopped smoking in the 80’s, the lung cancer death rate was peaking in the U.S., but has since dropped, with dropping smoking rates. No longer were doctors telling patients to give their throat a vacation by smoking a fresh cigarette. Doctors realized they were more effective at counseling patients to quit smoking if they no longer had tobacco stains on their own fingers. In other words, doctors went from being bystanders—or even enablers—to leading the fight against smoking. And today, he says, plant-based diets are the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.

If we were to gather the world’s top unbiased nutrition scientists and experts, there would be very little debate about the essential properties of good nutrition. Unfortunately, most doctors are nutritionally illiterate. And worse, they don’t know how to use the most powerful medicine available to them: food.

Physician advice matters. When doctors told patients to improve their diets, to cut down on meat, dairy, and fried foods, patients were more likely to make dietary changes when their doctor’s advised them to.  And it may work even better if doctors practice what they preach. Researchers at Emory randomized patients to watch one of two videos. In one video, a physician briefly explained her personal healthy dietary and exercise practices and had a bike helmet and an apple visible on her desk, and in the other, she did not discuss her personal practices and the apple and bike helmet were missing. For example, in both videos the doctor advised the patients to cut down on meat, to not usually have meat for breakfast, and have no meat for lunch or dinner at least half the time as a simple place to start improving their diets, but in the disclosure video, the physician related that she had successfully cut down on meat herself, and perhaps not surprisingly, patients rated that physician to be more believable and motivating. So physicians who walk the walk—literally—and have healthier eating habits not only tend to counsel more about diet and exercise, but also appear more credible and motivating when they do so.

It may make them better doctors. A randomized controlled intervention trial to clean up doctors’ diets, called Promoting Health by Self Experience, found that healthcare providers’ personal lifestyles were directly correlated with their clinical performance. Healthcare providers’ own improved well-being and lifestyle cascaded to the patients and clinics, suggesting an additional strategy to achieve successful health promotion.

Are you ready for the best kept secret in medicine? The best kept secret in medicine is that, given the right conditions, the body heals itself. Treating cardiovascular disease, for example, with appropriate dietary changes is good medicine, reducing mortality without any adverse effects. Yes, we should keep doing research, but educating physicians and patients alike about the existing knowledge about the power of nutrition as medicine may be the best investment we can make.

Doctor’s Note

Of course, to advise patients about nutrition they first have to educate themselves, as it is unlikely they received formal nutrition education in medical training:

For more on the power of healthy living, see:

If you want to take advantage of Dr. Barnard’s transformation, check out his amazing 21-Day Kickstart Program, a free public service that starts the first of every month on how to transition towards a healthier diet.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.:

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Nine Servings a Day Minimum

Fruits & Veggies Prevent Cancer - Eat 9 Servings A DayBy: Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Let me make one thing clear though, even if all you have to eat are the single most pesticide contaminated plant foods: the peaches, apples, peppers. The benefits of these fruits and vegetables outweigh the risk even if you can’t find organic options. So while organic is absolutely better, we should never avoid buying fruits and vegetables out of fears of pesticide exposure. Remember the green study? Three leaves of spinach! The benefits of even pesticide laden conventional produce blow away the risks, but if you have a choice and the means certainly buy organic.

Plants are storehouses of thousands of special phytonutrients. What is in plant foods that is so good for us? Is it the vitamin C, the vitamin E, the fiber, the folate, flavinoids, phytoestrogens, the antioxidants  beta carotene, potassium, lycopene, luteine? Does it really matter? Well it matters to the drug manufacturers. Right, they can’t patent a carrot and make a million dollars off of it, although I’m sure they are trying! Drug companies have done all these studies where they said, look we know fruits and vegetables prevent cancer, I bet it’s that beta carotene stuff. So they gave people beta carotene supplements to see if that prevented cancer. Didn’t work. There more than 500 different carotinoids. More than 500 different carotenes, from alpha-carotene through zeta-carotene and beyond and they just gave people beta and expected it to work? So they tried vitamin E supplements. Didn’t work. Vitamin C supplements. Didn’t work. They just can’t find the right mixture. Luteine , this great antioxidant in leafy greens has recently been added to Centrum’s one a day multivitamin. If you look on the back here, it says each pill has 250 micro-grams of luteine. Well, this single leaf of collard greens has more than 10,000. Popeye was right! Eat your greens!

So instead of trying to synthesize a pill to prevent cancer, we’ve know all along that whole fruits and veggies prevent cancer naturally so why don’t doctors prescribe that? They’re cheap. Doctors should be whipping out their prescription pads and writing prescriptions for broccoli, 1 cup a day, unlimited refills. Side effects include, a lower risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, lung, breast, stomach, colon, kidney, bladder, prostate. ovarian, endemetrial and cervical cancer as well. Oh and you might get a little piece of green stuck in your teeth. All embarrassing  The same diet that prevents stroke and cancer, also prevents heart disease and diverticulitis and protects against emphysema, dementia, cataracts and macular degeneration. Imagine if the “kale lobby” had McDonald’s $100 million advertising budget. So try to put veggies on everything. The more the better. No longer should we ever have spaghetti with marinara sauce. We should have spaghetti with marinara sauce with lots of veggies on top. Right? No longer just a bean burrito, but a bean burrito with lots of veggies stuffed in it. Vegetables should ideally be the center piece of our meals. The official federal recommendation for the minimum number of servings of fruits and veggies is now up to nine a day. Minimum! And iceberg lettuce doesn’t count towards that total. And neither does fruit juice, fruit loops, ketchup or white potatoes.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.: Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Photo Source: Fit-Juice.com

#1 Anticancer Vegetable

#1 Anti-Cancer VegetableBy: Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

But anyway, back to beans. In terms of nutrient density, nutrients per calorie: are beans the most nutritious class of whole foods? Or is it fruit, nuts and seeds, vegetables, or whole grains? What should go on the base of a healthy eating pyramid? Beans, fruits, nuts, veggies, or grains?

Definitely vegetables, but which are the healthiest ones? A major advance was made this year ranking vegetables. Graphs like this that I’ve shared over the years that compare the antioxidant power of foods were all based on very primitive methods—basically just measuring how much a food slows down an oxidation reaction between two chemicals in a machine. That was the best we had, but it required a leap of faith that what was happening in the test tube could be extrapolated to what might happen in living human tissue.

This year, though, a landmark study was published, pitting 34 common vegetables against 8 different types of human cancers. Breast cancer, brain tumors, kidney cancer, lung cancer, childhood brain tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and stomach cancer.

Let’s look at breast cancer—I’ll cover up the. What’s being measured is tumor cell proliferation. Here’s the control. You drip some water on a human breast tumor, and nothing happens—it’s still powering away at 100% growth rate. And these 7 vegetables appear useless against breast cancer, no different than placebo. But these 6 cut the cancer growth rate in half. And these 5 at the end stopped cancer growth completely—stopped these tumor cells dead in their tracks.

We need to eat a portfolio of vegetables. Take a look: radishes, do nothing against pancreatic cancer, in fact if anything they might accelerate growth but, against stomach cancer, they completely eliminated tumor cell growth. On the other hand, orange bell peppers don’t do much for stomach cancer, but can cut prostate cancer growth by more than 75%. So we need to eat a variety of vegetables, because each one tends to target different cancers.

If you’re particularly concerned about a specific cancer, like if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, then you can narrow it down and really nail those 5 or 6 veggies every day that excel at targeting breast tissue. But otherwise, to fight against any kind of cancer, we’ve got to eat a portfolio of vegetables to cover all our bases.

That doesn’t mean some veggies aren’t better than others. Some of these vegetables target multiple cancers at the same time. So using this groundbreaking new data, let’s play “Which is healthier.”

Building An Anti-Cancer Salad

Imagine you’re standing in line at one of those custom made-to-order salad places, where you get to choose your lettuce, choose your toppings, then choose your dressing. Lets assume that you don’t have a strong family history of any particular cancer, and so aren’t trying to hone in on avoiding one tumor over another.

First, let’s choose our lettuce. Boston, endive, radicchio, romaine, or spinach?
Out of the five, spinach is #1 against breast cancer—remember, the farther right the better it is at slowing down these cancer cells. #1 against brain tumors, #1 against kidney cancer, #1 against lung cancer, #1 against pediatric brain tumors—feed your kids spinach! #1 against pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and #1 against stomach cancer.

Now note it’s not #1 overall—there are 16 vegetables more powerful at stopping stomach cancer growth than spinach, but out of those five salad greens, spinach wins out across the board, against every cancer type tested.

What if the salad place said they were out of spinach, though? Which comes in second out of the four left to choose from.
For breast cancer, radicchio is #2. against brain tumors. radicchio, kidney cancer, radicchio, radicchio, romaine, radicchio, radicchio, and radicchio. So overall, out of those choices for greens, radicchio is number 2.

Back to the menu. Next we get to choose 4 toppings. Now there’s a long line of people behind you, all staring at you to make your choice. You don’t have time to ponder and pick the 4 absolute best, but you can at least make a guess as to roughly where on the graph they are.

According to this amazing new data, do carrots slow cancer cell growth rates more than 50%? Yes or no?
The answer is no. So shredded carrots aren’t going to make our top four toppings choice.

What about shredded beets? Yes or no?
Yes. Super yes! Brain tumor? Just beet it. Kidney cancer is a no, close to 50%, but not quite there. And then yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So overall, yes for beets.

Are we putting cucumber on out salad? Yes? No?
As tasty as they may be… no. For most cancers it suppressed tumor cell growth less than 50%

What about a tomato? Yes or no?
No tomato either.

What about a potato? You can actually put potatoes onto your salad. Yes or no?
No potato either. Wait a second, no iceberg lettuce, carrots, cucumber, tomatos, potatos—that’s all people eat! That’s the problem. Even people eating their vegetables, aren’t really eating their vegetables. The majority of veggies people commonly eat have little effect.

Cutting to the chase: The line at the salad place is now out the door at this point. In this study there was one clear winner. One vegetable that completely 100% stopped cancer growth in 7 out of the 8 tumor lines. One of the most important findings of the year: which vegetable was it?

Was it bok choi? Broccoli. Brussel sprouts, fiddlehead ferns, garlic, kale, or red cabbage?

Number one against breast cancer? Garlic. Number one against brain tumors: garlic. Number two against kidney cancer: garlic. Lung cancer: garlic. Childhood brain tumors: garlic. Pancreatic cancer: garlic. Prostate cancer: garlic. And stomach cancer? Garlic. So might I suggest a garlicky salad dressing?

Wait a second, though. Is it just that garlic is toxic to all cells? Yes, it stops the growth of cancer cells, but maybe it stops the growth of healthy cells too? That wouldn’t be good. They tested for that. The black bars are cancer cells; the white bars are normal cells. As you can see garlic slams cancer cells, but doesn’t touch normal cells, and the same thing with pretty much all the vegetables. They’re selective; they go after the cancer cells but leave the normal cells alone. Veggies are amazing.

Now if you didn’t pick garlic and instead chose one of those others you probably weren’t far off. The two best families of vegetables for cancer prevention are the cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, cabbage, and the allium family vegetables, like garlic, onions, and leeks. Let me just run through this one last time to highlight this important fact.

Starting from the beginning. Cruciferous vegetables in green; allium vegetables in yellow. What I want you to notice is the clustering of colors over on the right side, which illustrates the power of these two superfood classes of vegetables.

Whether for breast cancer, brain cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, or brain cancer. Interestingly you’ll notice that bok choy is often the odd one out, apparently the least healthy of the cruciferous vegetables. Pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and finally stomach cancer.

So you know all those recipes that start with garlic and onions and then throw you in some greens—that, is the way to eat.

The researchers conclude: “the inclusion of cruciferous and allium vegetables in the diet is essential for effective dietary-based chemopreventive strategies.”

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

 

Never Too Late to Start Eating Healthier

Never Too Late To Start Eating HealthierBy: Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

A hundred years ago the New York Times reported on a rather sophisticated study for the time, 4,600 cases of cancer studied over 7 years, suggesting that the increased consumption of animal foods was to blame. A century later, the latest review on the subjects concluded that mortality from all causes put together, ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases was significantly lower in those eating meat-free diets, in addition to less cancer and diabetes.

I’m surprised they found such significant results given that people in these studies typically didn’t stop eating meat until late in life. For example, in the largest study done up until that time, up to a third ate vegetarian for less than 5 years, yet they still ended up with lower rates of heart disease whether they were young or old—under 60, or over 60, whether they were normal weight or overweight, whether they used to smoke or never smoked, those that had stopped eating meat had lower risk, suggesting that decades of higher risk dietary behavior could be reversed within just years of eating healthier.

If you look at countries that switched from eating traditional, more plant-based diets, to more Westernized diets, it may take 20 years for cancer rates to shoot up. It takes decades for most tumors to grow. For example if you look in Asia, their dietary shift was accompanied by a remarkable increase in mortality rates of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. For example death from breast cancer in Japan or from prostate cancer, the line just goes straight up, but again it can take years of a cancer promoting diet and lifestyle. Same thing shown with migration studies. Men moving from rural China to the U.S. experience a dramatic increase in cancer risk, but tumors take time to grow.

So it’s remarkable to me that after most of a lifetime eating the standard western diet, one can turn it around, reverse chronic disease risk with a healthier diet, even late in the game.

So, should we all start eating vegetarian? This was the editorial that accompanied the results from the largest study ever published on Americans eating plant-based diets that found vegetarian diets associated with lower all-cause mortality, meaning those who started eating vegetarian live, on average, longer lives. Now this analysis included so-called semi-vegetarians, who ate meat at least once a month (but no more than once a week), so it’s not yet clear how bad eating meat a few times a month is. What we can all agree on, though, is that we should limit our intake of junk food and animal fat, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Most authorities will also agree that diets should include whole grains, beans, and nuts. Instead of fighting over who’s diet’s the best, it’s time to acknowledge these common features of diets associated with less disease and instead focus our attention on helping patients avoid the intense commercial pressures to eat otherwise.

Doctor’s Note

How amazing the human body is if we just treat it right! This reminds me of videos like Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Causes of Disease or How Many Meet the Simple Seven? where simple changes can lead to tremendous differences in health outcomes. So please don’t allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Any movement we can make towards improving our diet can help. Though the earlier the better: See Heart Disease Starts in Childhood and Back in Circulation: Sciatica and Cholesterol.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Video Sources

M J Orlich, P N Singh, J Sabate, K Jaceldo-Siegl, J Fan, S Knutsen, W L Beeson, G E Fraser. Vegetarian dietary patterns and mortality in Adventist Health Study 2. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jul 8;173(13):1230-8

D Li. Effect of the vegetarian diet on non-communicable diseases. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Jan 30;94(2):169-73.

T Huang, B Yang, J Zheng, G Li, M L Wahlgvist, D Li. Cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer incidence in vegetarians: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60(4):233-40.

F L Growe, P N Appleby, R C Travis, T J Key. Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and nonvegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Mar;97(3):597-603.

W B Grant. A Multicountry Ecological Study of Cancer Incidence Rates in 2008 with Respect to Various Risk-Modifying Factors. Nutrients. Jan 2014; 6(1): 163–189.

Cancer increasing among meat eaters. New York Times 1907.

J Zhang, I B Dhakal, Z Zhao, L Li. Trends in mortality from cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, esophagus, and stomach in East Asia: role of nutrition transition. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2012 Sep;21(5):480-9.

P C Walsh. Re: Trends in mortality from cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, esophagus, and stomach in East Asia: role of nutrition transition. J Urol. 2012 Jul;188(1):112-3.

Choose An Exercise Program That Is Right For You!

Exercise Program For Breast Cancer

By: Rika Keck, Medical Exercise Specialist For Women’s Wellness.

It is well known that an exercise program is supportive before, during and after surgery and treatment. Off course it is essential to see it within context of the individual, medical procedures, reaction to meds and energy levels.

Moderation is a big key and it is a great idea to work-out and to ‘work-in’ with quiet, stress reducing modalities such as meditation, Gentle Yoga, Qi Gong or a walk in Nature.

Here are a few points regarding exercise during and post-surgery and/or treatment:

  • Strength training will support bone integrity that becomes compromised with chemo and steroids. Discuss this with your physician if lymph nodes are affected in your cancer treatment or lymphodema in the arm is present.
  • A moderate/low intensity cardio program will support a healthy heart, circulation and mood – a mild sweat is a good guideline. Do wipe off the sweat so it does not re-enter the body, after all, the skin is an organ of elimination. (While undergoing radiation treatment, do discuss this with your doctor, as there are restrictions.)
  • Clothing might present some challenges. Make comfortable and organic cotton choices that allow free movement and airflow.
  • Physical therapy, post-therapy exercise will provide ROM (range of motion) as incisions start to heal. You want to avoid restrictions in movement to prevent secondary shoulder, wrist, neck and back problems. The process of regaining full range of motion after surgery does take time.
  • Acupuncture on the scares and adhesions is a good idea as scars can disrupt the nervous system. At the same time it will boost immune function and provide stress reduction. It is necessary to wait for healing of the skin.
  • Fatigue must be respected – yet a gentle exercise program will actually increase energy and support lymphatic flow.
  • Posture exercises: With the physical, emotional and psychological trauma, it is ‘normal’ to pull inwards in a protective manner esp. after surgery. Awareness and gentle exercises that pay attention to good posture will support the physical body and energetic flow between organs and glands.
  • Social support and laughter are so important. If possible seek out a fun, nurturing and safe environment. Uplifting music does help too!
  • Radiation adversely affects heart and lung health. (I am aware that this is a controversial point.) The bottom line is: Do support your cardiovascular system.

When it is cold outside, we must make sure to get our daily movement. Certainly there is nothing more refreshing and immune – stimulating than taking a brisk walk outside! However, trying to maneuver icy pavements or paths in Central Park can be challenging and this does increase the risk of falling.

I believe in ‘risk assessment’: Exercise regularly and moderately, but in a safe and fun environment.

Basic Facts: Let’s Talk About Exercise, Heart Health & Nutrition!
For bone health, esp. in menopause, it is important to add ‘stress’ on the bones. Walking is great, but it is not enough to facilitate sufficient bone stress and remodeling of bone. Walking does support a healthy cardiovascular system, lymphatic drainage and detoxification – besides burning off those Holiday treats…

Resistance training is essential to support stronger bones, especially if one has a genetically predetermined small frame. It is not about lifting heavy weights ‘a la Schwarzenegger’ and one generally does not ‘bulk up’ easily – a concern I still hear about today. Weight training for healthy bones is about a regular ‘overload’ on the connective tissue. If you carry your own shopping bags twice a week, you are doing your bones (but maybe not your back) a favor!

As a Nutrition and Exercise Specialist, I do stress that bones must be supported with good nutrition and a regular weight – training exercise program. It is also helpful not to live on an adrenaline rush. The hormones, esp. elevated cortisol, will adversely affect the mineral metabolism and bone health.

Acid-blocking medications will affect the absorption of calcium and magnesium from foods. This can result in a calcium deficiency affecting bones and teeth, increasing the risk of fractures and cavities. If you are using acid blocking meds, you are welcome to connect with me to discuss your options.

As we age, our tendons are more at risk, esp. if we have not been exposed to using weights or athletic movements. It is better to err on the side of caution by receiving expert guidance. Schedule a few sessions with a professional to get you going or join an exercise class with a good instructor. (Do your research!!!)

If there are pre-existing and additional physical restrictions e.g. joint concerns or joint replacements or other medical considerations, I would recommend starting up with the advice of an exercise professional. I have some clients, whom I meet for a few sessions to ‘get the ball rolling’.

Exercise movements that are functional and support balance training should be incorporated. Core training, stability and flexibility training must also be part of the program. All will support activities of daily living. As we age, generally it is the lack of flexibility and muscle tissue that can predispose us to a greater risk of injury, falls and decreased function.

Heart Health?
Despite all we hear about cancer, it is important to note that heart disease is still the #1 killer of men and women. Certainly, many factors play a role. However, do consider that the heart is a muscle and it needs to be kept strong with regular and continuous exercise.

Heart health requires good nutrition and regular exercise. Various medications will rob nutrients from the heart, brain and body. These nutrients include vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and CoQ10 and more…All are essential to maintain a healthy heart. If you are on medications, you would want to consider the possibility of medication induced vitamin/mineral deficiency. Chronic stress, living on an adrenaline charge and lack of sleep affects heart health adversely. Exercise is a great stress-reducing modality – but do make sure you rest too and do not over-exercise esp. cardio training!

What Else?
From a mind body perspective, integration of Yoga or other stress – reducing techniques incl. mediation are terrific.
Pilates is very popular too and it is very helpful for flexibility and reduced joint stress.

What matters most?
Choose an exercise program that is right for you!
Choose an exercise program that suits your needs, is effective and does not create pain. Sure, a little sore muscle here and there after strength work will let you now that you made ‘communication’ – your bones will be happy. What can happen with strength training is ‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)’. This happens within 24-48 hrs.

Before starting on an exercise program, do check in with your physician if you are on medications and/or have health concerns. Should you have had surgery, it is best to receive ‘clearance’ from the doc before starting to exercise.

In the meantime, let’s keep walking, healing and smiling!

Rika KechRika Keck is a nutrition, fitness women’s wellness consultant and contributor for Breast Cancer Authority Blog
Customized Nutrition, Medical Exercise Specialist and Women’s Wellness
NY Integrated Health
www.NYIntegratedHealth.com

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