November 25, 2008 [Volume 2, Issue 26]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Reading Is Fundamental
Escape the Stress Web
30 Minutes a Day May Keep Strokes Away

Reading Is Fundamental

We eat for a variety of reasons – because a particular food tastes good, as part of socializing, boredom, or just because the clock says, "Time to eat!" Occasionally, we even eat because we are actually hungry. Unfortunately, too many Americans consume foods (processed and packaged) that contain one or more of the following ingredients: enriched wheat, trans fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil) and high-fructose corn syrup. These three ingredients are prevalent in our food supply – yet they are basically "empty calories," lacking any nutritional value. In addition to the health benefits of avoiding these three ingredients, you can also avoid many chemicals and additives by association.

Enriched wheat: The word enriched actually sounds pretty healthy. The whole wheat contains the bran, germ and endosperm. The refined wheat kernel has had the bran and germ removed. The majority of the nutrients are in the bran and the germ. These include many B vitamins, healthy fats, minerals, fiber and more than 99 phytonutrients known to prevent disease. What is left is the endosperm. The endosperm is ground into flour and bleached to produce the popular white flour. Most flour is then enriched with five ingredients: niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid.The enrichment of five synthetically produced nutrients from questionable sources, (thiamin mononitrate is derived from coal tar from China) does not make this enriched grain a source of superior nutrition.

Trans fats: Trans fats are clearly not superior nutrition. On the front of a food package, the manufacturer may state, "Zero trans fats." However, when you look at the list of ingredients, you may still see the words "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil," which is just another name for trans fat. This means even though the front of the package promises zero trans fats, the product actually contains trans fats!

High-fructose corn syrup: Most people are consuming gallons of it in their sodas, fruit juices, cakes, cookies, breads and even health food products. HFCS entered our food supply in the early 1970s. This man-made sugar is exceptionally sweet, so manufacturers can use less. It is also very cheap, so manufacturers have higher profits. HFCS metabolizes differently than sugar and may be responsible for higher triglycerides. It also does not cause the release of the hormone leptin, which makes us feel full. Therefore, a person can eat a package of cookies and several sodas and not feel full, which, of course, can contribute to obesity.

So, what can you do? Avoid all products with these three ingredients. Choose more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. Flavor them when necessary with natural sweeteners and fats that have not been created in a laboratory. Remember, if people have been eating it for hundreds of years, it is probably OK to eat, because humans are still here.

Read More

Escape the Stress Web

Stress affects nearly everyone, but some people handle it better than others. And the simple truth is the people who are good at dealing with stress live healthier and happier lives compared to people who struggle with stress. The good news is if you are one of the many people who get caught up in life's sticky web of stress, you can get untangled and stay untangled. Keep these tips in mind the next time you're feeling the pressure:

Stay clear of the drama. As Rudyard Kipling writes in his poem "If," if you can "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you," you'll be able to keep your cool under pressure and tackle your challenges much more effectively.
Lighten up! Many of the things you worry about won't occur, and worrying cannot help those problems that invariably do take place.
Say or do the opposite of what you are feeling. When someone or something pushes your hot buttons, you may feel justified to react with anger, but this negative reaction only brings more stress to the situation.
Override your pride. Think of a time in your life when you insisted that you were right and another person was wrong. Did this really bring you more happiness, or did it just create more stress for both of you?
Appreciate life's little detours. Each time you have to pick yourself up to get back on track, you learn important lessons and develop new skills that will help you in life.

Stress in many forms is common in society, and it's a problem because it can rob you of your health, happiness and potential for greater success. Talk to your doctor about ways to minimize stress and escape the stress web for good.

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30 Minutes a Day May Keep Strokes Away

As little as half an hour a day of moderate exercise may reduce your risk of suffering a stroke, say researchers at the University of South Carolina's Prevention Research Center. Thats good news because stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death.

The research was presented recently at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans. Researchers studied more than 61,000 adults at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. After taking an initial treadmill test to assess fitness, study participants periodically answered health surveys. The study divided subjects into four levels of fitness and then looked at how many of them suffered strokes, following them for an average of 18 years. Overall, there were 863 stroke events during the study: 692 in men and 171 in women.

The study found that the most fit men had a 40 percent lower risk of stroke than the least fit men, while the most fit women had a 43 percent reduction in their risk of stroke compared with women in the least fit group. For moderate levels of fitness, the risk reduction ranged from 15 percent to 30 percent for men and 23 percent to 57 percent in women. These risk reductions held true even when considering other known risk factors for stroke, such as smoking, weight, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history.

Many people think they don't have the time to exercise regularly, but all it takes is 30 minutes a day, five days a week - definitely worth it, considering the health and wellness benefits. Your doctor can help outline an exercise program appropriate to your fitness goals.

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