July 6, 2010 [Volume 4, Issue 15]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Do You Know How to Breathe?
Cancer Defense: Think Nutrition
3 Steps to Losing Weight

Do You Know How to Breathe?

Well of course you do – after all, adults take anywhere from 17,000 to 30,000 breaths a day, on average, most of the time without even realizing they're doing it.

That said, you'll probably be surprised to discover that most people actually don't breathe correctly, at least not on a consistent basis. "Correctly" means breathing that maximizes oxygen exchange in the lower lobes of the lungs. More oxygen equals more nourishment for cells.

A structure called the diaphragm separates the heart, lungs and ribs (the thoracic cavity) from the abdominal cavity. As we inhale, the diaphragm contracts, enlarging the thoracic cavity and helping the lungs fill with oxygen. As the diaphragm relaxes, we exhale, forcing carbon dioxide out of the lungs. This is why correct breathing technique is referred to as "diaphragmatic breathing."

In more simple terms, ideal breathing is known as "abdominal" or "belly" breathing; it should engage the belly button, rather than the upper chest. Visually, if you're breathing properly, your lower belly will rise more than your chest.

So, how are you breathing? Find a quiet place and take a few slow, deep breaths, concentrating on letting your abdomen expand fully with incoming air. Place one hand just below your belly button; it should rise and fall about 1 inch with each breath. If you're breathing incorrectly, practice doing it the right way; proper breathing can aid in relaxation, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, and of course, help deliver the most oxygen to body tissues. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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Cancer Defense: Think Nutrition

Everyone knows about the dreaded C word, and far too many have direct experience with it in one way or another. A diagnosis of cancer alone can send shock waves through an entire family, office or even a community.

And with cancer risk factors (carcinogenic foods, environmental hazards, sedentary lifestyles) on the rise, there's no better time to learn about a simple, painless step you can take to reduce your risk of developing cancer - or do your best to fight it if you've already been diagnosed. Yes, it's the power of nutrition - nature's best cancer defense.

According to Drs. Richard Beliveau and Denis Gringas, authors of Foods That Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer Through Diet, research suggests that specific food-borne bioactive molecules can do the following in terms of cancer prevention:

Decrease free-radical damage to DNA, which is known to produce cancerous mutations;
Strengthen immune system function, as various immune cells are known to destroy cancer cells (e.g., macrophages and killer-T cells);
Inhibit angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels) of developing tumors;
Block key signal transduction pathways required for cancer cell replication;
Stimulate pathways that induce programmed cell death (known as apoptosis) of existing and emerging cancer cells;
Enhance detoxification, helping to neutralize and eliminate carcinogens in the body;
Promote cellular differentiation, which decreases the risk of healthy cells from becoming cancer cells;
Block the formation of dangerous nitrosamines (chemical compounds, some of which can cause cancer) in the body.

Here are some key anti-cancer foods for daily use as suggested by these two leading cancer researchers:

Brussels sprouts - ½ cup
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage - ½ cup
Garlic - 2 cloves
Onions, shallots - ½ cup
Spinach, watercress - ½ cup
Soy (edamame, dry roasted beans) - ½ cup
Freshly ground flaxseeds - 1 tablespoon
Tomato paste - 1 tablespoon
Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
Black pepper - ½ teaspoon
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries - ½ cup
Dried cranberries - ½ cup
Grapes - ½ cup
Dark chocolate (70 percent cacao) - 40 g
Citrus juice - ½ cup
Green tea - three 250 ml servings
Red wine - 1 glass (5 ounces)

Talk to your doctor about the many benefits of proper nutrition. If you're not already eating these foods consistently, there's no better time than now.

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3 Steps to Losing Weight

When it comes to weight loss, too many people try too many quick fixes, only to find themselves right back where they started, searching for a permanent solution. That's because effective long-term weight loss has less to do with a specific "system" or piece of equipment and much more to do with adhering to some time-tested principles. Here are three to get you on your way:

1. Mindset. When it comes to getting in shape, too many people dive into a strict exercise and diet program without the proper mindset. That's why weight comes off, then comes back on, and why garages nationwide are littered with unused workout equipment. To lose weight permanently, you need to cultivate a don't-fail attitude and remember that health is a lifelong pursuit, not just a quick fix.

2. Movement. The more you move, the more calories you burn - that's a fact. The more calories you burn, the more weight you can potentially lose. Keep in mind that movement is really just that; you don't have to run for an hour on the treadmill or swim 500 laps to burn calories (although that will definitely work). Movement can be as simple as a daily walk, gardening, or playing with your kids.

3. Muscle. Not enough people appreciate the science behind lean muscle and weight loss. The more lean muscle you have, the more it works for you. The premise is simple: Muscle tissue uses more calories than fat tissue because it has a higher metabolic rate. That means if you build lean muscle, it will elevate your metabolism and burn calories - even when you're not working out. How great is that?

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