Health Tips

Salt Lake City's LiVe Well Center offers health tips—ranging from exercise to nutrition—to help guide you in your lifestyle choices.

Health Tips

A Life of Abundance

In his book, "First Things First," Stephen Covey offers advice on how to focus on those things that matter most and how to live a life of abundance. "We often tend to build walls between work, family, and personal time. We act as if what we do in one area doesn't affect what we do in the others. Yet, we all know that these barriers are artificial. Life is one indivisible whole. As we make connections between the various aspects of our lives and our overall sense of purpose, we discover that renewal in any role creates renewal in other roles as well."

One way to achieve greater harmony between our different roles is to combine activities that meet our goals in different areas. If we'd like to spend more quality time with family and we want to maintain our physical health, we can choose activities that accomplish both. For example, how about bringing a spouse or a child to the health club with you?

Walking, snowshoeing and hiking are all great family activities. They also foster a belief in the value of exercise. Plus, research has shown that people who have supportive partners are much more likely to succeed in their fitness programs. Remember, time is gone forever once spent, and time spent with those you love, doing things you love, is time invested in a life of abundance.

Benefits of Fitness

How can we grow older without growing old? Or as Ashley Montague said, "How can we die young ... as late as possible?"

The thrills we felt in our youth from participating in sports and the enjoyment of other physical activities can continue as we get older, with as little as 10 minutes of exercise each day. New guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine say that short, 10-minute exercise periods can significantly boost our health.

Take muscle-building exercise for example. Performing just one set of weight-lifting exercises - 8-12 repetitions - is just as beneficial for most adults as a multiple-set regimen. However, while some exercise is better than none, more exercise is better than some. Adults who want to achieve optimal fitness are advised to participate in a well-rounded program that includes:

  • Aerobic exercises, such as walking, stair climbing, cycling or swimming-three to five days a week.
  • Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights or using a strength-training machine - two to three days a week.
  • Flexibility exercises that stretch the major muscle groups, a minimum of two to three days a week.

At the very least you should exercise enough to maintain a body that does not restrict your daily activities. Start walking instead of driving. Climb stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. Walk up the escalator instead of just riding it.

In other words, if you want more out of life, put a little more effort into keeping fit. Your investment in fitness - eating sensibly and exercising - is small, taken a day at a time. The dividends you'll collect, however, will last a lifetime.

Best Exercise

What's the best exercise for wiping out the top killer of children and young adults?

The top killer of children and young adults is motor vehicle accidents. Half of those deaths could be prevented just by doing this one simple exercise - move your arm in front of your chest and buckle your seatbelt every time you get into a vehicle. Seat belts should be worn over the shoulder, across the chest, and low on the lap, avoiding excess slack. Do not allow the belt to be used behind the back, under the arm, or over the abdomen.

Giving your arm muscles this easy five-second workout is the most important life-saving physical activity you can do. If you're driving unbelted, you're 21 times more likely to be killed and eight times more likely to be hospitalized than if you're buckled-up. Even in a low-speed collision, an unrestrained person smashes into the interior of a car with the same impact as being dropped from a third-floor window. Three out of four car accidents occur within 25 miles of home. Unbelted motorists have been killed in crashes where the car speed was as slow as 12 miles an hour.

Infants and toddlers should ride in federally approved child safety seats in accordance with manufacturer's instructions and the child's size. Rear-facing infant seats should not be placed in the front of a car equipped with a passenger side air bag. The safest place in the car for a child safety seat is in the middle of the rear seat. Safety seats should be used until children weigh at least 40 pounds. Safety seats should face backwards until children weigh at least 20 pounds. Children should use booster seats until they are tall enough so that the lap belt stays low on their hips and the shoulder belt crosses their shoulders.

Passengers should not ride in the cargo beds of pickup trucks, station wagons or vans - except when those areas are fitted with passenger seats and seat belts. A seatbelt reduces your risk of serious or fatal injuries by 40 to 50 percent. Adding an airbag further reduces your risk by another 45 to 55 percent. Just because your car is equipped with an airbag doesn't mean you don't need to buckle up.

The math adds up to one simple fact: Your seatbelt is still your most important piece of auto safety equipment. But, it only works if you use it. Why risk injuring that body you're working so hard to keep healthy? Buckle up every time you drive.

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal

Did you eat breakfast this morning? If not, you missed one of the most important meals of the day.

Your brain uses glucose for fuel. When you awaken, your blood glucose is at its lowest level. Eating breakfast wakes up the brain and gives it the energy necessary to function at its peak. Studies have shown that eating breakfast gives you energy to think and concentrate on daily tasks. It also improves hand-eye coordination. Children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom, miss fewer school days, and are tardy less often. A study of kids in Baltimore and Philadelphia found that those who ate breakfast had higher math grades and were less likely to be described as depressed, anxious, or hyperactive by teachers or parents-even when sugared cereal was the main part of their breakfast.

Breakfast doesn't have to take a lot of time. Plan ahead to have quick foods on hand such as orange juice, hard-boiled eggs, cold cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, bread, bagels and milk. You don't have to stick with traditional breakfast foods. Try warming up leftovers like pasta and pizza or make a pita sandwich with low fat cheese and salsa. Perhaps a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk or yogurt mixed with cereal and fresh fruit are more to your liking.

About one-third of your daily calories should come from breakfast. Eating breakfast can help prevent those mid-day hunger pangs that can lead to overeating later on.

Should you include caffeine? Caffeine is a stimulant that can wake you up and get you going, but it has no nutritional value. For most healthy adults, moderate amounts of caffeine - found in about two cups of coffee a day - pose no health problems. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, some soft drinks, and certain medications.

Breast Cancer and Exercise

How is breast cancer related to exercise?

Women may be able to reduce their chance of getting breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent just by doing one thing - regular aerobic exercise.

Studies by the National Cancer Institute and others since the mid-1980s have shown a correlation between exercise and a lower incidence of breast cancer. Women who begin an exercise program before age 40, for 30 to 40 minutes a day, four to five days a week, can reduce their risk of breast cancer by 30 percent. Women who get more than four hours of aerobic exercise a week can reduce their chances of getting breast cancer by up to 50 percent.

All women age 40 and older are at increased risk for breast cancer. Most breast cancer occurs after age 50, with the risk especially increased after age 65. Since breast cancer is the second most common cause of all cancer deaths in women in the U.S., it makes sense for women to begin a regular program of aerobic exercise as soon as possible like today.

Aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, hiking, jogging, running, swimming, aerobic dance, stair climbing, and skating. If you need to get started with a physical activity program, set a start date, then consistently keep a daily activity log indicating the specific physical activity and number of minutes performed. Keep recording in your log for at least 16 weeks. You may want to record your progress in a daily planner, on your computer, or on a hand-held calendar. Consider wearing a pedometer that records the number of steps you take daily. Ten thousand steps a day is recommended for overall good health.

Aerobic exercise does not take the place of early detection breast cancer practices. All women over age 20 should conduct self-breast exams every month. The best time is about a week after the menstrual period ends. A health care professional should perform a clinical breast exam every year on women aged 40 and older. Women should have mammograms every one to two years between ages 40 to 49, then annually after age 50.

Calcium

What's the mineral that's so important to our bodies that we'll steal it if we're not getting enough of it?

If you're not drinking three glasses of milk a day, there may be a crime wave going on in your body. Calcium is so important that your body will "rob" the calcium it needs from your bones if you don't get enough through your diet. Over time, this "robbing" increases your risk of osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to become fragile and more easily fractured.

We know that kids need calcium to grow strong bones; but adults need calcium too, at least 1000 milligrams every day. That's about the amount of calcium you'd get in three eight-ounce glasses of milk, or three cups of yogurt. Other good sources of calcium are cheese, canned fish with edible bones, green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified orange juice and breakfast cereals. Postmenopausal women should consume 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day.

Although food is the best source of calcium, some people need to take calcium supplements in order to meet their daily calcium needs. Be sure to read the labels on these supplements. Look for the USP symbol and check for calcium absorbability. Calcium is best absorbed when taken several times a day in 500 mg or less. Ask your doctor what is the best calcium supplement for you since some forms of calcium can interfere with certain medications.

Besides inadequate calcium intake, other osteoporosis risk factors include: inadequate dietary vitamin D, being post-menopausal, family history of osteoporosis, low body weight, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol intake, and cigarette smoking.

Even though bone mass peaks around age 30, you're never too old to start osteoporosis prevention. Eating right and including a regular program of weight-bearing exercise is critical. Thirty minutes a day of physical activity such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, hiking, racquet sports, and weight lifting helps preserve bone health.

Cancer Prevention

What are the steps you can take right now to reduce your risk of developing cancer?

Neglect of self is the primary cause of cancer. There are several steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting cancer:

  • Protect your skin from the sun. Skin cancer is now recognized as the most common form of all human cancers. Most skin cancers are caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays and high-energy bulbs in tanning salons. Avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wear protective clothing like hats with brims and long sleeved shirts when outdoors. Use sunscreen year round.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking causes two-thirds of all lung cancer deaths and increases your chances of several other cancers. As soon as you quit smoking, your lungs begin to heal and the smoking damage that leads to cancer may be totally reversed. Don't use pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco as these greatly increase your risk of mouth cancer.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Heavy drinkers have a six-fold greater risk of developing throat or mouth cancer.
  • Eat less fat. Scientists are finding that a high-fat diet may be linked to an increased risk of breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers. Drink low fat or skim milk products. Eat low fat cheeses, lean meats, and skinless poultry. Limit high fat snacks. Bake, roast or broil rather than fry foods. Use low fat salad dressings.
  • Eat more fiber. Research from the National Cancer Institute shows that if most people ate 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily, they would reduce their risk of colon cancer by 50 percent. The fiber in whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables may flush cancer-promoting waste through the intestines and colon.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being excessively overweight is associated with several cancers. Eating healthy foods in moderation and exercising regularly will help you tone up and lose weight.
  • Get a periodic physical exam from your health care provider. We all know people who have neglected periodic cancer screenings or have waited too long to report troublesome symptoms. Their neglect has often been tragic. Practice smart prevention and don't delay in seeing your health care provider.

    Cancer warning signs

    Does cancer have warning signs?

    Some cancers do not have any symptoms in the early stages, so it's particularly important to see your health care provider to screen for these types. Although many symptoms that could indicate cancer may be signs of a less serious illness, you should see your health care provider promptly if you have any of these seven early warning signs of cancer:

    • A change in bowel or bladder habits
    • A sore that does not heal
    • Unusual bleeding or discharge, especially from the rectum or vagina
    • A thickening or lump in a breast or elsewhere
    • Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
    • An obvious change in a wart or mole
    • A nagging cough or hoarseness

    Possible other signs of cancer to be on the alert for include:

    • A constant, low-grade fever
    • Fatigue
    • Unusual and persistent headaches with changes in vision or behavior
    • Nagging and unexplained pain in bones or elsewhere
    • Easy bruising
    • Loss of appetite
    • Sudden, unexpected weight loss

    If you have any of these symptoms, don't fear the worst and do nothing about it. Make an appointment with a health care provider to find out the source of your symptoms. If it is cancer, be glad you caught it early, because generally, you'll have more treatment options.

    A diagnosis of cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence. There are plenty of survivors to show that the earlier cancer is detected and treated, the better your likely outcome and chances are for living a long and healthy life.

    Nutrition - What you can learn from your cat

    What can your cat teach you about good nutrition?

    Watch what your cat eats. It loves to eat fish. A heart healthy eating plan includes fish and other foods that are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They may also protect against certain cancers, heart disease, and be helpful with arthritis.

    Oddly enough, the fatter the fish, the more health benefits it offers. Salmon, albacore and blue fin tuna, halibut, and swordfish provide the best seafood sources for Omega 3s. Eating fish sporadically, however, will not produce the desired benefits. You should eat fish two or more times a week. Eat three ounces of salmon, four ounces of tuna, or 6 ounces of halibut or swordfish to get the recommended daily amount.

    Other foods rich in Omega 3 are flaxseeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, tofu and oils made from flaxseed, walnuts, canola and soybeans.

    Check out the seafood specials at the super market. Choose a fish entrée when you are dining out. You and your cat will both be healthier when you include more fish in your diet. Bon appetite.

    Chocolate

    Is there a place for chocolate in healthy eating?

    Many people think certain foods are "good" and others are "bad" for us, but in fact, healthful eating can include all foods - even foods eaten as treats on occasion, such as chocolate. Chocolate is a passion that goes beyond a love of sweetness. About 40 percent of women report craving chocolate as do 15 percent of men.

    Chocolate has some health claims and has over 300 chemicals that are still being researched. Chocolate contains flavonoids which have been shown to prevent artery plaque build up. Dutch researchers found that dark chocolate helps boost the immune system. Eating chocolate in moderation does not increase blood cholesterol levels. Half of the saturated fat in chocolate is stearic acid, which may even lower total blood cholesterol. A one-and-a-half-ounce piece of chocolate contains the same amount of heart-protecting antioxidant phenol as a glass of red wine.

    Chocolate and other sweets that contain fat add variety, flavor and enjoyment to eating. Your body needs some fat to function properly. Managing and enjoying fat in your diet is like balancing a fat checkbook - each day you spend your fat on the foods you eat and the amount you spend depends on your food choices. For example, if your breakfast consists of cereal, skim milk and orange juice, you've eaten very little fat. This means you have most of your "fat budget" left for other foods, including chocolate. Make sure you are following a balanced, varied eating pattern, and if you want to include chocolate, cut back on other fat foods.

    • Be sure to read food labels. Some manufacturers fortify chocolate milk so that it provides 400 to 500 mg of calcium in an eight-ounce glass (compared to 300 mg calcium in white milk).
    • What about caffeine in chocolate? An ounce of chocolate has about 6 mg of caffeine, and eight ounces of chocolate milk has 10 mg. By comparison, a cup of coffee averages 100 mg caffeine.

Is carob healthier than chocolate? A carob bar has the same amount of fat and calories as the same size chocolate bar.

Dietary Supplements

What are dietary supplements, and how do you know whether or not to use them?

Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They contain one or more of the following ingredients: a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical.

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that the best nutritional strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to choose a wide variety of foods. Adding dietary supplements can help some people meet their nutritional needs as specified by science-based nutrition standards. However, some dietary supplements may create unexpected risks. Some supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Others can have unwanted effects during surgery. It is a good idea to check with your doctor or healthcare provider before using a supplement.

The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act does not require dietary supplement manufacturers to prove that their products are safe or effective before they are sold to the public. Product labels do not have to list potential adverse effects, and what's on the label is not necessarily what is in the bottle. Product recalls of a dietary supplement are voluntary. Health claims may be inflated and unsupported.

Consumers who need help making informed decisions regarding dietary supplements may want to contact two credible sources for information: the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Links to these organizations are found at the bottom of this page under Tools & Resources. These government organizations have information fact sheets, research data, resources, information on drug interactions and harmful side effects, and public health advisories.

Eating Out

How can you make healthier choices when dining out?

First, do a little research and find out what the restaurant offers. Many fast food restaurants have their calorie and nutrition information on the Internet. Some restaurants place menus in their windows so you can look them over and decide ahead of time if they offer the type of food you are looking for.

Second, balance what you eat with other meals throughout the day. If you are going out to dinner, eat a small lower calorie breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy dinner without overdoing.

Use these tips when ordering your meal:

  • Look for heart healthy symbols next to food items.
  • Select foods that are steamed, poached, broiled, baked, grilled, or boiled.
  • Limit the higher calorie items that are fried, sautéed, crispy, creamy or breaded.
  • Select low-fat vegetables and salads.
  • Order salad dressing on the side or choose a low-fat dressing.
  • Choose tomato-based sauces rather than cream or cheese-based.
  • Consider topping a baked potato with salsa instead of globs of butter, sour cream and cheese.
  • Choose soups with a broth-base instead of cream.
  • Consider ordering an appetizer instead of a full entrée.
  • Keep portion sizes in check. Order regular-sized beverages and entrees instead of super-sized. If portions seem large, ask if you can split the order, or take half home in a doggie bag for tomorrow's meal. The recommended serving of meat is three ounces; that's about the size of a deck of playing cards. One medium baked potato is about the size of a computer mouse.
  • Try fruit for dessert. If you just have to have that high calorie dessert, cut the calories and double your pleasure by sharing it with a friend.

When eating your meal:

  • Try to take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. The slower you eat, the less you eat.
  • Put your fork down after each bite.
  • Try sparkling water with a lime twist instead of calorie-laden alcohol.
  • Drink water to help fill you up.
  • Stop eating when you feel full. Place your napkin over your remaining food or ask the waiter to remove it.

Excess Weight

What's the key to taking excess weight off and keeping it off?

Excess weight can be the result of family culture, heredity, unhealthy eating habits, low levels of physical activity, unhealthy behavioral habits, and metabolic rate - the energy your body uses to perform functions like breathing and digesting food. Since we can't do anything about heredity or how we were raised, we should work on what we can control: eating habits, physical activity, and behavioral habits.

Healthy Eating

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, and lean meats, fish and poultry.
  • Limit fat to less than 30 percent of total calories.
  • Watch portion sizes.
  • Eat 500 fewer calories each day and in one week you will have lost about one pound.

Physical Activity

  • Do something physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week. This can be broken up into three 10-minute intervals.
  • Incorporate activities that you enjoy so that you'll stick with your program.
  • Include strength training to increase total muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns calories.

Behavioral Habits

  • Set a weight loss goal to lose 10 percent of your initial weight.
  • Keep a daily record of your food intake and physical activity.
  • Take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal.
  • Talk with a physician or registered dietitian about the best weight-loss plan for you. Even modest weight loss can provide important health benefits.

Exercise and Preventing Depression

Exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes and many other ailments. But can exercise help with depression?

Of all the benefits we know about exercise, one of the most talked about today is the beneficial relationship of exercise on depression. Millions of Americans suffer from depression, and billions of dollars are spent on depression-related disorders, which can include a depressed mood and loss of interests, an increase or decrease in appetite, and either insomnia or hypersomnia.

What's so interesting about exercise and depression is that exercise has been found to be five times as cost-effective as other treatments for depression. These positive effects of treating depression with exercise are especially important because of the large number of people who suffer from depression, and the fact that exercise costs next to nothing.

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging or anaerobic exercise - like weight training - can reduce or effectively treat mild-to-moderate depression and its side effects. Exercise can also increase self-esteem and reduce the feelings of depression. The frequency and duration of the exercise can be as little as walking 20 minutes a day, three times a week.

Of course depression doesn't affect everyone. But most of us go through times when we could use a boost of energy. What better way to get energized than to take a hike in the mountains, a refreshing swim or a morning walk to get your blood pumping and your body feeling great. Next time you're feeling down or stressed-out, take time out for some physical activity that will invigorate your body - and your mind.

Exercise and Choosing the Right Video

Exercise videos are like shoes - one size does not fit all. That's why video stores have racks and racks of exercise videos. How do you decide which one is best for you? To help you know whether or not an exercise video will motivate and help you achieve your goal, ask yourself these questions:

  • What's your fitness level? A tape that's too easy will get boring. One that's too hard will leave you frustrated.
  • How much exercise time do you have? Do you really want to buy an hour-long video if you can spare only 30 minutes to exercise?
  • Will you need any special equipment?
  • Will you have enough room to do the moves shown in the video?
  • What are your preferences in music and instruction style?

It's unlikely you can answer these questions just by reading the outside of the box. So, find a way to preview the videos that interest you. See what your local library or video rental store has to offer. Or perhaps you can borrow some tapes from a friend or relative. Spend a little time researching the best exercise videos and you'll be more successful at finding the right one for you.

Exercise is Not a Fitness Option

With life's everyday demands - going to work, house cleaning, shopping and taking care of the family - do you feel that you are just too busy to exercise? How can something as important as exercise for maintaining your health take a back seat to anything? Without good health you become less effective in life.

Perhaps it's time to look at what exercise is. Because exercise is not an option. It's not a negotiable activity any more than brushing your teeth or taking a shower. These activities may not be the highlight of your day, but you do them anyway. Or else you suffer the consequences if you don't. If you don't brush your teeth your breath will stink and your teeth will decay. If you don't shower you will surely smell your way to social rejection.

But what about exercise? What are the consequences of not getting enough physical activity? Oh, they're there all right. The consequences just aren't as immediate. That's why we are easily tempted to postpone exercise today because we are not likely to feel the ill effects tomorrow. But the consequences will surely come. You'll gain weight, lack energy, and your self-esteem will suffer, which can affect your career and key relationships. Also, your bones will weaken, and most devastating of all, your heart and lungs will become weakened.

Unless corrected, the effects of lack of exercise can at worst hasten an early death. And at best, a lack of exercise leads to a less vibrant, lower quality of life. So, do yourself and those you love a favor: devote a non-negotiable block of time to exercise. Start today. Remember, just like bathing, exercise is not an option.

Here are some common exercise questions:

Q: Can I exercise if I have a cold?

A: If you have a cold with no fever, moderate exercise, such as walking, is ok. It's a good idea to wait a few days before you try more intense activity, such as running or biking. If you have flu symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and swollen glands, hold off on intense exercise until you feel better.

Q: What is weight-bearing exercise, and why is it important?

A: Weight-bearing exercise is activity that forces you to support your body-weight against the pull of gravity. For example, walking, running and dancing fall into the weight-bearing category, while swimming and cycling do not. Weight-bearing exercise is crucial for stimulating bone growth. It also helps strengthen your bones. This type of activity is important for women, especially before age 30, because it will help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later.

Q: What is the best exercise for beginners?

A: The best exercise to start with is something you like to do. The reason is simple: If you enjoy it, you're more likely to stick with it. People often abandon a fitness program after only a few weeks because their workouts are too difficult. That's why walking is a good way to start. You can adjust your intensity level as you become more fit. Also, you don't need special equipment to walk.

When starting an exercise program, it's a good idea to get the advice of an exercise professional who can help design a program that's right for you.

Fiber

Why is fiber important in the diet and how much is enough?

Getting enough fiber in our diets provides several health benefits including helping to prevent constipation, reducing the risk of heart disease and colon cancer, and reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Since fiber is generally the part of foods that can't be digested, it fills us up without adding calories, thus helping in weight control.

The American Dietetic Association recommends that adults eat 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, while children ages two to 18, should eat their age, plus 5 grams. This means, for example, that a three-year-old should eat 8 grams of fiber a day. Typically Americans only eat about 11 grams of fiber a day.

Fiber should be increased gradually in the diet to reduce the possibility of intestinal gas, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. You can minimize the gas-producing effects of dried beans and peas by adding baking soda to the water in which you soak them, and then cook in fresh water. Also, don't eat dried beans with other gas producing foods such as Brussels sprouts or cabbage. When increasing fiber, be sure to increase water, as fiber needs more water to keep it moving through the digestive tract.

Keep these tips in mind: Chopping, peeling, cooking, pureeing, and processing may decrease fiber content in food. Unprocessed foods supply the most fiber. Applesauce is better than apple juice, but eating a raw apple provides even more fiber. Legumes, including dried peas, lentils and dried beans, beat all other foods when it comes to fiber. When purchasing breads and cereals, read labels and choose those that list whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredient. Look for cooked and ready to eat cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Take a look at these fiber sources:

  • 1 cup of popped corn = 1 gram of fiber
  • 2 tablespoons raisins = 2 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of strawberries = 3 grams of fiber
  • 1/2 cup zucchini = 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 medium fresh pear = 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 medium baked potato = 5 grams of fiber
  • 1/2 cup corn = 5 grams of fiber
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, raw = 5.5 grams of fiber
  • 1/2 cup lima beans = 5.8 grams of fiber
  • 1/2 cup green peas = 9.1 grams of fiber
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans = 9.7 grams of fiber

3 dried figs = 10.5 grams of fiber

Fighting Allergies at Home

Are there things you can do at home to help control your allergies?

Many substances can cause allergies, and some may be lurking right in your own home. Fortunately, you can do something about them. First, consult with an allergist to learn what you are allergic to; then limit your exposure to these allergens.

Houses often harbor dust mites, animal dander, and mold spores. If these allergens affect you or your family, follow these tips recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology:

  • Clean at least once a week to keep house dust to a minimum. Dust, mop or wipe all surfaces, and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency filter (called a HEPA filter) to avoid putting dust back into the air.
  • Cover mattresses and box springs in zippered, airtight plastic cases to control dust mites, spider-like insects that are too small to see.
  • Wash bed linens weekly in hot water. Cold water won't kill dust mites.
  • For serious cases, remove carpeting wherever possible. Carpeting can hold irritants, dust mites, and mold.
  • Regularly clean the areas in your home that are prone to mold, including bathrooms, kitchen, basement, and garbage cans. Scrub them with bleach, or spray them with anti-mildew products.
  • Bathe pets weekly, and keep them out of bedrooms.

Control indoor humidity with air-conditioning which reduces the growth of dust mites and molds. Be sure to clean window air-conditioning filters regularly. Consider buying an air filter than can clean and circulate large amounts of air.

Food Labels

How do you read food labels?

There's a lot of good nutrition information on food labels if you know where and what to look for. Food manufacturers are usually required to use the same type of information as their competitors on labels, so you can easily compare the nutrition information from one brand to another.

Here are a few tips for finding the nutrition facts you want:

  • Ingredient List - Ingredients are listed by weight. The most abundant ingredient is listed first and the ingredient contributing the least amount is listed last. So, if the first ingredient listed is sugar, for example, you have an idea about the nutritional value of the food.
  • Serving Size - Serving sizes are standardized. The label will show how many servings are included in the package and how large one serving is. The listed serving size may not be what you consider to be a serving which may be important if you are counting things like calories or fat grams.
  • Daily Values - Daily values show you the percent of each recommended nutrient contained in the food and how it fits into an overall daily diet. These daily values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily value needs may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

To promote their products, some manufacturers make health claims on their food packaging. These functional foods can be labeled regarding the relationship between a nutrient or food and a disease or health-related condition such as calcium and osteoporosis; fat and cancer; saturated fat, cholesterol, and coronary heart disease; sodium and high blood pressure; and soluble fiber and heart disease.

Certain terms have legal definitions. Some examples:

  • Low fat = 3 grams or less
  • Calorie free = 5 calories or less
  • Low calorie = 40 calories or less
  • High = 20% or more of the daily value for a particular nutrient/serving
  • Healthy = low in fat and saturated fat with limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium
  • Good source = 10 to 19% of the daily value for a particular nutrient/serving

When in doubt, or if you have additional questions that aren't addressed on the label, manufacturers list how to get in contact with them.

Fitness Frustration

Are you frustrated from not seeing results from your exercise program as quickly as you hoped? After two weeks, you're wondering why you aren't seeing any significant changes?

Don't worry. Every "body" is different. But as sure as the law of gravity, if you're doing something to your body that you didn't do before, in time it will show. For example, if you're creating a calorie deficit - expending more calories of energy than you're consuming - in time those pounds will fall away. Remember, you're looking for a gradual weight loss - one to one-and-a-half pounds per week. Or if you are working out with weights, in time, muscles will be created and those muscles will tighten, tone and define your body and raise your metabolism. I've found that about three-and-a-half weeks is the magic number to see results - for practically everyone who sticks to a program.

But what happens if two months into your new program, your progress seems to be tapering off?

Don't worry. Your body continues to make progress only it's harder to see from day to day. It's like children as they grow. You never know exactly when they shot up that inch or two. Yet one day, you measure them and voila, they've grown. So it is with weight loss and muscle development. Don't worry if you don't see it from day to day. Keep going. There will come a day when you'll say, "Wow! When did this happen?"

Halloween Safety

How can we keep little ones safe on Halloween?

Start with the costume. It should be made of flame-retardant materials. It should fit well so there's nothing dragging to trip over. Masks are not recommended. They can obstruct a child's view. Use makeup and your creativity instead. If your Halloweeners will be trick-or-treating after dusk, attach some reflective tape to their costumes and have them carry a flashlight.

What about carving a pumpkin? Not a good idea for kids under five. Have them draw a face on paper, then have an adult carve it on the pumpkin. Special sturdy pumpkin carving knives are available that do not have sharp tips. Use votive candles in a votive cup to light the jack-o-lantern. Place the jack-o-lantern away from flammable material. Never leave a lighted jack-o-lantern unattended.

Make your yard safe for trick or treaters by removing trip hazards such as hoses, bikes or toys. Clean wet leaves from your driveway and sidewalks. Turn on outdoor lighting and replace burned-out bulbs.

What about the treats? Have your children wait until they return home before eating any treats. Help them check the candy for signs of tampering. Discard candy with pinholes, torn or loose wrappers. Keep small children away from possible choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, or hard candy.

Finally, make Halloween work for you by working in some exercise time by going with your Halloweeners on their trick-or-treating rounds.

Healthy Weight

How can you tell if your weight is a health risk? Are you an apple or a pear shape?

Whether your weight is healthy depends on where your body fat is located, how much of your weight is fat, and whether you have weight-related health problems.

The easiest way for you to check your body fat distribution is to snugly measure around your waistline with a tape measure and compare this with the measure around your hips. If your abdomen is larger, you may tend to be apple-shaped, with more fat on your upper body. People with this type of fat distribution tend to have an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Pear-shaped people, on the other hand, who carry excess weight below the waist, appear to be at a lesser health risk. Men with waist measurements over 40 inches and women with waist measurements over 35 inches are high risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes even in the presence of a normal BMI.

BMI stands for body mass index, and is a formula that uses your weight and height to calculate health risk. To easily determine your BMI, log on to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute web site at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm​ or you can calculate it yourself. Take your weight in pounds and multiply by 703. Divide this number by your height in inches squared.

  • A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy.
  • A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

Disease risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease increases steadily for people with BMI values 25 and over. Note that body mass index overestimates the body fat of people who are very muscular, and underestimates the body fat in people who have lost muscle mass, such as, the elderly.

The good news is that just as weight gain can increase risk for ill health, small weight losses of only 5 percent to 10 percent of initial weight, can significantly reduce many of the obesity-related health problems.

Heartburn or Heart Attack?

Q: Is it heartburn or a heart attack?

A: Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is a burning feeling behind your breastbone that might move up into your throat. You might also get a sour taste in your mouth. The most common heartburn triggers are:

  • Eating heavy or spicy meals too fast
  • Lying down after eating
  • Smoking after eating
  • Drinking alcohol and coffee
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing tight fitting clothes around your abdomen
  • Taking certain medications without food such as aspirin and ibuprofen

The pain of heartburn can be so painful that some people are afraid they are having a heart attack. And, in fact, sometimes a heart attack feels like heartburn at first. How can you tell the difference?

In most cases, when a heart attack starts with symptoms like heartburn, other symptoms appear as well, including:

  • Chest pressure or pain that spreads to the neck, left arm, or jaw
  • Chest tightness, squeezing or heaviness
  • Chest discomfort with trouble breathing, sweating, nausea and/or vomiting, uneven pulse or sense of doom

If you have this group of symptoms, call 911 and get to the hospital as quickly as possible. A heart attack requires urgent medical attention. Minutes count. If unsure, call a health care provider or get to the emergency room. Don't drive yourself. Only a doctor can tell the difference between heartburn or heart attack.

If your symptoms suggest heart disease and your doctor is concerned about the possibility of a future heart attack, he may send you to the LiVe Well Center to undergo an exercise stress test. This test helps distinguish heart symptoms from other causes of pain, which can feel similar to a heart attack. Panic disorders can bring on sudden chest pains. Chest wall pain can be caused by strains, a fall, even coughing. Angina feels similar to a heart attack, but comes and goes.

Take all chest pain seriously. It may save your life.

Mediterranean Diet

Q: What's a Mediterranean diet, and should you consider following one?

A: There is no one typical "Mediterranean diet" because the foods eaten in the region vary widely, not only between the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, but also among different regions of the same country, such as Italy, for example.

In general, however, most Mediterranean diets contain about 60 percent of their calories from carbohydrates such as pastas, breads, grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables; 30 percent of calories from fats - primarily olive oil; and 10 percent from proteins such as fish, and legumes, with limited eggs and red meat. Foods are minimally processed, are usually fresh, and locally grown. Bread is a staple and is eaten without butter or margarine.

Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is generally healthier and results in greater longevity and less cancer and heart disease when compared to a typical American diet. Americans eat less carbohydrate and more protein, particularly red meat and saturated fats, which raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Red meat is usually eaten only a few times a month in the Mediterranean, which results in less saturated fat. Mediterranean people are also typically physically active which is important to maintain good health and optimal weight.

If you want to "go Mediterranean" in your diet, follow these guidelines:

  • Include bread, pasta, rice, couscous, polenta, whole grains, and legumes
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Use olive oil as the preferred fat.
  • Limit saturated fat (animal fat) to 7-8 percent of total calories
  • Include cheese, yogurt, and milk.
  • You might want to use low-fat dairy products to decrease saturated fat
  • Limit eggs to 0-4 a week
  • Include fish and poultry a few times a week
  • Limit red meat to 12-16 ounces a month

Throughout the region, wine is usually drunk in moderation with meals. For men moderation means no more than 10 ounces a day and for women 5 ounces a day. If you don't drink alcohol, don't start. Positive benefits of alcohol consumption have been seen in patients with heart disease, but increased risks have been associated with breast cancer. You might try products made from red grapes, such as red grape juice, which contains Flavonoids - a natural substance allowing your blood to flow more smoothly through vessels, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Motivation

Are you feeling melancholy, depressed, tired or just not in the mood to exercise?

If you don't enthusiastically look forward to getting into your exercise workout, you are not alone. Not many people do, especially if they are just beginning an exercise program. So here are some pointers designed to help get you in the mood...or at least get started.

First, turn off your brain and by an act of sheer will, start your workout. Three minutes into the workout, your energy level will pick up. In another two minutes, your mood will be elevated. A few minutes later, you'll forget yourself and sail through your workout. By the time you're finished, you'll be looking at the world through rosier glasses.

It happens every time. It's inevitable. It's a medical fact. When you exercise, the endorphins - those feel-good chemicals in your brain - kick in. We used to think only aerobic exercise activities gave you this high. But researchers at Tufts University have now shown that weight training can also elevate your mood. It can be as effective as anti-depressants.

Just remember, your mind can also think up lots of excuses for staying in bed and forgetting about your workout. If you precondition your mind to be ready for them, the excuses won't defeat you. Just realize you do have the willpower to succeed. You can win your fitness game. Because after all, who cares more about your health and fitness than you do?

So, even when you aren't enthusiastic about your workout, just do it. And pretty soon, you will be.

Physical Activity

Regardless of your current age or level of physical fitness, getting involved and staying involved with a fitness program will pay big dividends-now and in the future. Keeping physically active throughout your life is one of the keys to good health. Sometimes the hardest part of physical activity is getting started.

Here are some simple suggestions to keep you moving:

  • Be realistic in your goals. Don't try to go too far, too fast, too soon.
  • Choose an activity you enjoy and that your health will allow you to do.
  • Use the buddy system. It's easier to get going if someone else is depending on you.
  • Dress for comfort. Wear shoes and clothing that are appropriate for the activity you're doing and for the weather.
  • Do warm-up exercises before you start and cool-down exercises when you finish so your muscles don't cramp and become too sore.
  • Exercise at a time of day when you feel good, preferably not just before bedtime.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration may be one of the reasons muscles get sore.

Some of the benefits you'll reap for starting and staying active are reducing your chances of getting heart disease, hypertension, non-insulin dependent diabetes, colon cancer and depression. Physical activity also helps increase bone mineral content and muscle strength leading to better balance and coordination.

When you compare the effects of exercise with those of aging there really is no comparison. It has been said that exercise may or may not add years to your life but it will definitely add life to your years. So make a choice and begin, and remember you are never too old or too young to exercise.

Preventive Care Recommendations

One of the best ways to prevent disease is to know what your specific risks are and adapt your lifestyle to help reduce them.

At the LiVe Well Center, we help you determine your risk factors and give suggestions on how to improve the quality and quantity of your life. Review the Preventive Care Guidelines below to learn what exams and tests are recommended and how often for both men and women.

Yearly and Periodic Health Checks

The following preventive services are recommended by the LiVe Well Center every 1-2 years based on clinical or behavioral related needs:

  • Physical Exam with Physician
  • Lipid Panel (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides)
  • High Sensitivity C Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) (checks for blood inflammation)
  • Hemogram, Auto (complete blood count)
  • Chem Panel (comprehensive metabolic)
  • Urinalysis
  • Spirometry Test (checks pulmonary capacity and function)
  • Diagnostic Treadmill Exercise EKG Test
  • Orthopedic Evaluation by a registered Physical Therapist
  • Computerized Upper and Lower Body Strength Test
  • Lifestyle Review
  • Nutritional Assessment and Counseling with a Registered Dietitian
  • Body Composition Analysis (Bod Pod and Skin-fold)

In addition to the preventative services listed above, the following tests are recommended based on age, gender, and risk factors:

Preventive Care Recommendations for Women

Preventive Services Age Frequency Special Circumstances
Mammogram 40-49
50+
Every 1-2 years
Every year
If there is a family history of breast cancer, a mammogram may be recommended at an earlier age and/or on a more frequent basis.
Pap Test Every 1-3 years, following two initial negative Pap tests Frequency of testing based upon initial exam results.
Bone Mineral Density Scan (DEXA) Post-menopausal women Frequency of testing passed upon initial exam results. Pre- or peri-menopausal women may consider a DEXA scan for bone mineral density if risk factors for osteoporosis are present.
Colonoscopy 50+ Every 5-10 years starting at age 50 If a family history of colorectal cancer is present, colon cancer screening may be indicated at an earlier age on a more frequent basis.
Hearing 60+ Every 1-3 years Recommendations for hearing screening under age 60 is based upon occupational exposure or personal clinical need.

Men Preventive Care Recommendations

Preventive Services Age Frequency Special Circumstances
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test 50+ Yearly beginning at age 50 If a family history of prostate cancer is present, prostate cancer screening may be indicated at an earlier age on a more frequent basis.
Colonoscopy 50+ Every 5-10 years starting at age 50 If a family history of colorectal cancer is present, colon cancer screening may be indicated at an earlier age on a more frequent basis.
Hearing 60+ Every 1-3 years Recommendations for hearing screening under age 60 are based upon occupational exposure or personal clinical need.
Bone Mineral Density Scan (DEXA) DEXA scan may be indicated for men with significant risk factors for osteoporosis, such as family history.

Strength Training for Middle-agers

The average American is living 30 years longer than just a few decades ago. So, the question is: Do you want to live those extra years in a nursing home or be active and independent later in life? Generally, people end up in nursing homes because they're physically weak and unable to perform routine activities. When people who are inactive get to be around 50 years, they begin to experience the effects of aging - loss of muscle, flexibility, bone density and strength.

To combat these effects of aging, researchers have found that weight training helps people over 50 to develop and preserve strong bones, muscles, coordination and flexibility. Studies show that even an aging human body responds well to high-intensity, strength-training programs. Starting a weight training program today will earn you a future in which you feel better. If you lack experience, hire a personal trainer, join a gym or ask a friend who has experience with weight training.

Another fitness activity for older adults is stretching exercises to increase flexibility. Like strength training, flexibility helps prevent falls and other serious accidents. When weight-training and flexibility exercises are done together, joints of the body become healthy and strong, enabling older adults to live more independent, healthy and productive lives.

Today is not too soon to add a weight-training and flexibility program to your exercise routine. You'll improve your physical and mental well-being and love the way you feel for those extra years into the future.

Successful Aging

Q: What's the difference between growing old and aging successfully?

A: As we grow older, our bodies show signs of wearing out. To some extent how we age is genetically determined. In large part, however, how successfully we age is under our control. Becoming frail and disabled as we age is not inevitable.

John Glenn returned from his second space flight at age 77. Glenn, and other active older adults, defy the stereotype that old age is characterized by inactivity and poor health. Instead, they show that getting older is a time to add life to additional years by taking charge and developing active, healthy lifestyles. Practicing successful aging techniques may slow the aging process and reduce risk for early dementia.

Here are some suggestions from older adults for successful aging:

  • Minimize your risk of disease (especially heart disease and cancer) by having regular medical screening exams
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Keep physically active
  • Pay attention to your body, mind, and spirit
  • Invest early for retirement
  • Simplify your life - select priorities and set limits
  • Continue to learn - take a class or teach one
  • Be charitable - volunteer yourself, your time, and your wisdom
  • Plan leisure activities and do them
  • Do things with friends and family
  • Be positive and glad for every day
  • Be flexible and learn to deal with change
  • Get involved - discover what has meaning for you

Taking Care of a Cold

Q: What's the best way to get through a cold? Is there anything you can do to avoid getting a cold?

A: Time is really the only cure for the common cold. A cold will generally clear up within 4 to 10 days and will rarely cause serious complications.

You can do some things to make you feel better, however. Rest in bed if you have a fever. Drink lots of fluids (avoid those with caffeine). Fluids help clear out your respiratory tract. Eat chicken soup; it helps clear out mucus. Take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen for muscle aches and pains. Use salt-water drops to relieve nasal congestion. Gargle every few hours with warm salt-water if you have a sore throat.

If you have a cold, stay home. Don't risk passing it on to other people. Stay in a warm (but not overheated) room. Colds tend to dehydrate your body, so increase the moisture in the air with a humidifier or a vaporizer.

You can take an over-the-counter cold medication to help relieve your symptoms. But choose a medication that treats only the symptoms you have. Don't take medications you don't need. Ask about using zinc lozenges. They may shorten the duration of a cold and ease symptoms.

Talk with your doctor if your symptoms last for more than 10 days, are coupled with a fever, or if the infection seems to have spread beyond your nose and throat (to your chest, for example).

Most people average 3 to 4 colds a year. These steps will help prevent catching a cold:

  • Wash your hands often and keep them away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Try not to touch people (or their things) who have a cold. The first two to three days are the most contagious stage.
  • Keep fit. Get lots of exercise, eat and sleep well.
  • Use a tissue when you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose. This helps you from passing the cold virus on to someone else.

Thanksgiving Survival

Between Halloween and New Year's Day, it's hard to imagine that the number one malnutrition problem in America will become worse. Malnutrition is usually associated with not getting enough of the right things to eat. However, according to the American Dietetic Association, the number one malnutrition problem that will become worse during this holiday season is over-eating or obesity. More than half of all Americans, young and old, are over weight.

This can be a touchy subject, especially during the holidays when we celebrate abundance and enjoy family gatherings. Nutritionists typically agree with eating a hearty meal on Thanksgiving - it's likely the most nutritional and tasty meal we'll eat all year.

So, how can you enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving feast without experiencing regret the next day? In one word, the answer is: MOVE. Exercise early in the day. Get your metabolism going. An hour of moderate-to-hard exercise would be about right. Then after the meal, move some more - go for a walk.

Other tips for eating smarter this Thanksgiving: chew your food more completely. You'll likely eat less and enjoy the Thanksgiving meal more. Another tip: make sure you are hydrated before the meal. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so drink something before you dig in.

Remember that the first Thanksgiving was eaten by people who worked hard clearing the land to grow their own food. Our bodies still need to work to be healthy. So, if you don't have any land to clear, you need to substitute exercise to maintain good health and a healthy weight. Abundance belongs on the Thanksgiving table, not around your waist.

Remember, the key word to avoid malnutrition this Thanksgiving is: MOVE!

Vegetarian Diets

Q: 12 million Americans are on some sort of vegetarian diet. Is it healthy?

A: The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarian diets that are appropriately planned are healthful and nutritionally adequate. They provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers.

Vegetarian diets are gaining in popularity for a variety of reasons including health, economical, religious, and political reasons. Typically vegetarian diets exclude all or some animal products. This divides vegetarians into three major types: vegans who avoid all animal products, lacto vegetarians who avoid animal products with the exception of dairy products, and lacto-ovo vegetarians who avoid animal products with the exception of eggs and dairy products.

Consider these meal planning tips for a well balanced vegetarian diet:

  • No one food contains all the nutrients needed for good health. Choose a variety of foods including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • If using dairy products, use skim or low fat milk, yogurt and cheeses to limit saturated fat in the diet.
  • If using eggs, the whites are an excellent source of protein. Cholesterol is high in egg yolks, so limit yolks to three to four a week.
  • Include regular sources of vitamin B12 and vitamin D either in supplementation or in fortified foods.
  • To avoid intestinal discomfort from increased bulk in your diet, don't switch to high fiber foods all at once. Increase them slowly.
  • Follow recommendations of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. Include daily 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta; 3-5 servings of vegetables; 2-4 servings of fruit; 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese; 2-3 servings of dried beans, legumes, eggs, and nuts.
  • If you are not a vegetarian but want to add more plant protein to your diet, slowly increase your plants foods while decreasing animal products. Soy protein is nutritionally equivalent in protein value to the protein of animal origin. Try adding beans or tofu to casseroles, soups, sauces and chili. Combinations like rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, cereal and milk, peanut butter and bread, provide excellent sources of protein.

Vitamin D

Q: Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

A: Vitamin D, calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin found mainly in fortified foods. Also called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is created in the body after exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus, helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth, and may be effective in preventing some types of cancers.

The skin's ability to convert vitamin D to its active form decreases as we age. As many as half of older Americans may not be getting enough Vitamin D, according to a study at Massachusetts General Hospital. This deficiency contributes to bone breaks - a condition suffered by more than a million Americans a year. One third of the people who took daily multivitamins or who ate a diet rich in vitamin D, still didn't have enough vitamin D in their bodies. It is speculated that people are heeding skin cancer warnings and are staying out of the sun or are under the protection of sunscreen, which blocks vitamin D production.

We need a daily intake of about 800 international units of vitamin D. Vitamin pills typically contain 400 units of vitamin D. Only a few foods naturally contain significant sources of vitamin D - fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and cod liver oil. Egg yolks and green leafy vegetables also contribute vitamin D to the diet. Fortified foods like milk are a major source and some dairy products, margarine, and breakfast cereals contain good sources of vitamin D. Read food labels to find out the exact amount.

A word of caution - it is possible to consume too much vitamin D. Don't go overboard thinking that if some vitamin D is good, then a lot is better. Because vitamin D is stored in the liver, it is potentially toxic if daily doses exceed 2000 international units. Toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, weight loss, and heart rhythm problems.

Vitamins & Minerals

Q: Should you be adding vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet?

A: Vitamins and minerals are essential to help the body function properly. How can you be sure you're getting enough?

The U. S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid recommends eating a wide variety of foods on a daily basis. A balanced diet provides the least expensive source for vitamins and minerals. However, if you can't always eat properly, then a multivitamin mineral supplement may be helpful, especially, if you eat less than 1,200 calories a day, are a strict vegetarian, or can't drink milk or eat yogurt.

Vitamin and mineral supplements should be used with care. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in your body. It is possible to overdose on them and reach toxic levels. Excess amounts of the water-soluble vitamins, including the B complex and vitamin C, are excreted in the urine and are not stored in the body. However, taking too much of the water-soluble vitamins can have unpleasant and even harmful side effects.

Here's what to look for when selecting a supplement. Always read the label. Choose one that contains at least 20 vitamins and minerals essential for good health. They should contain no more than 150 percent of the U.S. RDA. Natural and synthetic vitamins act virtually the same in your body. Store brands may be as good as the name brands and may be less expensive.

Use caution when buying herbal supplements. They are not standardized for dose or regulated for safety. Some have even caused serious health problems. If in doubt, talk to your pharmacist, physician, or registered dietitian.

Women and Heart Disease

Q: Do you know the number one cause of death for U.S. women age 40 and over?

A: If you guessed heart disease, you are right. Heart disease causes more deaths in women than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, more women than men die of heart disease annually in the United States.

An early sign of heart disease in men is usually a crushing chest pain. Women, however, may report a variety of symptoms - unexplained fatigue; shortness of breath; pain or discomfort in the chest, back, arms, stomach, ear or jaw; full feeling in the abdomen; and /or swollen legs. 45 percent of women have no symptoms at all.

Women can reduce heart disease risk factors by adopting healthy lifestyle practices:

  • Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products, fish, poultry and lean meats.
  • Fats should be monounsaturated (like olive oil), and Omega 3 fatty acids (like that found in salmon, tuna, and canola and soybean oils).
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Reduce salt, cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Ask your doctor about having a treadmill exercise test to help spot cardiovascular disease. And don't forget about regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks.
This clinic is part of the Intermountain Medical Group, which is owned and operated by Intermountain Healthcare.

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