1. Natural Remedies
Many people, possibly more than ever before, seek natural remedies before opening their medicine cabinets. Here are some everyday items in the grocery aisle that can support your health and withstand illnesses.
Used historically as a seasoning and medicinal herb, turmeric possesses the compound curcumin, a polyphenol that gives the spice its yellow color. As its main active ingredient, curcumin is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies suggest it may help to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, fight viruses such as the flu and ease arthritic pain and inflammation.
Nuts and seeds offer several health benefits, with pistachios packing a big punch because of their high levels of antioxidants. Research suggests they may reduce the risk of some cancers, prevent diabetes and help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Pistachios also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which reduce the risk of developing eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Known for preventing and treating urinary tract infections, cranberries are high in vitamins and contain antioxidant proanthocyanidins. Being rich in nutrients, they may also affect certain cancers by slowing tumor progression and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Higher in omega-3 fats than any other nut, walnuts may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Also, the polyphenols in walnuts may help to fight internal inflammation, a main component in many chronic diseases, and reduce the risk of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.
A Mediterranean plant, fennel helps to support bone health by providing essential minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and zinc. It is also a good source of fiber and potassium. Potential benefits include lowering blood pressure, supporting heart health, increasing iron absorption, aiding in digestion and helping to prevent some cancers.
The No. 1 resolution that people make in the new year has to do with losing weight. For most of us, after the holiday season, that means planning to eat healthier meals throughout the next 12 months. For 2019, turn over a new leaf in your eating habits and try one of these popular diet plans to help those extra pounds melt away.
For the eighth consecutive year, the DASH diet was ranked as the best overall diet by U.S. News and World Report. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to lower blood pressure without medication. The plan consists of eating fruits, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy, whole grains, nuts, beans and lean meats, fish and poultry. While the original diet emphasizes lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, modified versions include a weight-loss plan and a vegetarian option.
Gleaned from the cooking styles of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this traditional diet has proved to reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, along with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The plan’s signature trait is its focus on healthy fats. Olive oil and canola oil replace butter, and regular servings of certain fish (salmon, mackerel and tuna, for instance) provide high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which carry a variety of health benefits. The Mediterranean diet is rich in plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Instead of salt, herbs and spices are used to flavor foods, and red meat is limited to only a few times a month.
This diet, a portmanteau of flexible and vegetarian, offers a plant-based diet with the option of animal products in moderation. Considered more of a lifestyle than a diet, the flexitarian plan follows a few basic principles – build meals around fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and include more protein from plants than from animals. Try to eat more natural and less processed forms of food while limiting added sugar and sweets. There’s no independent research available on the effects of the flexitarian diet, but the health benefits are thought to be similar to that of a vegetarian diet, since it’s predominantly plant-based.
Targeting brain health, the MIND diet combines foods from the Mediterranean and DASH diets to help prevent dementia and loss of brain function. Standing for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, MIND doesn’t have set guidelines. Instead, the plan encourages you to eat foods associated with improved brain function and limit foods with saturated and trans fats. Recommended foods include green, leafy and non-starchy vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, poultry and wine (no more than one glass daily). Foods to limit are butter, margarine, cheese, red meat, anything fried, pastries and sweets.
If you want to lower your cholesterol, consider the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, focused on limiting saturated and trans fats to help to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol. The TLC diet works in percentages. In relation to your total caloric intake for the day, saturated fats should be less than 7 percent and monounsaturated fats up to 20 percent. Carbohydrates are set at 50-60 percent and protein at 15 percent. You should also have 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber and less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day.
3. Get Moving
It’s time for Americans to start moving more. Recently updated federal guidelines for exercise highlight that any amount of physical activity has health benefits. But studies show that more than 80 percent of adults don’t meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For adults, the recommended amount of exercise is at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week and strength training at least two days a week. Previously, for activity to count toward these goals, you had to exercise for 10 minutes or more. Under the updated guidelines, Americans are encouraged to move as frequently as they can, with no minimum time limit, to reach the recommendations. To help you get moving, consider these creative ways to exercise.
Rev Your Social Calendar
Instead of drinks after work or Saturday morning brunch, enlist friends to go for a walk or hike, or take a dance class.
Change Your Routine
Take the stairs at work, walk around the block during lunch or park in the farthest spot in the parking lot.
Feel Like a Kid Again
Spin a hula hoop around your waist, throw a Frisbee or jump rope to get your heart pumping.
Join a local community group to help clean a park, build a house or walk a shelter dog.
Part video game, part exercise – fitness video games keep your body in motion during play.
Pick a Cause
Sign up for a local walk or run that benefits the charity of your choice.
4. Diet and Climate Change
As alarming reports on climate change stress the critical need for environmental sustainability, scientists say changing the way we eat could help save the world.
Addressing the impact of agriculture, experts say the global food system is a major driver of climate change by diminishing freshwater resources and increasing run-off pollution through the excessive use of nitrogen and phosphorus, according to the journal Nature. By 2050, with expected population growth, we will move “beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity.”
However, by adopting a more plant-based, flexitarian diet, humans could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 56 percent. Other critical actions include improving farming practices and reducing food loss and waste. It’s estimated that more than one-third of all food produced is lost before it reaches the market, or is wasted by households. By reducing the amount of wasted food by half, humans could reduce the environmental impact of agriculture by 16 percent. And that makes these all good reasons to reconsider what you put on your plate.