Thursday, July 30, 2009
7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better
Simple tips for livening up your drinking water
By Jen Laskey
Add flavor to your water
Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren't crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:
1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.
2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don't just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.
3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn't inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.
4. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that's so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.
5. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you're interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.
6. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption.
7. Add fast flavor. If you're looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
For most of us, the Mediterranean conjures up images of pristine beaches, tanned skin and simple living. Increasingly, though, this region also brings to mind a way of eating that's delicious, flexible and incredibly healthy.
Various studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet promotes longevity and helps preserve memory. A two-year study found it more effective for weight loss than the American Heart Association's low-fat guidelines ... and with measurable health benefits, particularly for diabetics.
More than a dozen countries have shoreline on the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Morocco. With their different cultures and traditions, there is no one diet for the region. Still, their diets do share some key elements:
Lots of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Mediterranean plates can be as much as half-filled with vegetables, and that's what health experts promote for Americans too. (The other half should be split between lean protein and whole grains.)
And if you were hoping for a nightly slice of tiramisu on this plan, guess again. Fresh fruit is a more common dessert in that region. Summer, with its broad range of fruits and berries at their sweetest and most affordable, offers the perfect chance to try this time-tested tradition.
How does this compare to what you're probably eating now? A study published in a 2008 Journal of the American Dietetic Association saw U.S. women who switched to the Mediterranean plan more than double their fruit and veggie consumption!
Mostly Fish, with Some Poultry (and little red meat)
Like the Eskimos and the Japanese, Mediterranean peoples have both a fish-based diet and a low risk of coronary artery disease. The omega-3 fats in fish promote a healthy heart; they lower your triglycerides, your blood pressure, and your risk of dangerous blood clots.
Conversely, red meat has been linked to premature death. A 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine report tracked over 500,000 Americans for 10 years; those that ate as little as four ounces of beef, pork and processed meats daily had greatly increased risks of dying from heart disease and cancer.
Healthy Fats, particularly Olive Oil & Nuts
Though sometimes criticized for being too high-fat, the Med Diet tends to be lower in fat than most Americans' current diets and, perhaps more importantly, features healthier fats than we typically eat.
For example, the monounsaturated fat in olive oil can lower your 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels. The Med Diet also cuts unhealthy fats by avoiding processed foods, the most common source of trans fats, and limiting red meat, which is high in saturated fat.
Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that the Mediterranean Diet really is heart-healthier. Among 600 adults who'd already had one heart attack, Med Dieters had a 50-70% lower risk of a second attack as compared to those eating a Western diet.
When shopping for olive oil, look for "virgin" or "extra-virgin" varieties; with their lower levels of processing, they offer the most health benefits. The aroma-free "extra-light" kind is ideal for baking. (The Med plan does allow dairy, but mostly yogurt and cheese rather than butter.)
Small Amounts of Wine
Red wine has known health benefits. Moderate consumption can help boost your 'good' HDL cholesterol, and its antioxidants support your immune system and promote longevity by fighting free-radical damage. The key word here is "moderate."
Among Mediterranean cultures that drink wine (i.e. the non-Muslim peoples) the glasses can be considerably smaller than ours. Also, the risks from greater alcohol consumption include liver damage, higher triglycerides and increased rates of breast cancer among women.
The Mayo Clinic recommends no more than five ounces of wine daily for women, 10 ounces for men.
Lots of Whole Grains
Most of us are used to white bread and white rice, but Mediterranean peoples tend to eat more unrefined grains, including brown rice and whole-grain breads and pasta.
With less processing, whole grains pack more nutrients. And as complex carbohydrates, they take longer to digest, helping you to feel full longer; that could well be why they've been linked to slimmer waistlines.
A study in a 2008 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared two calorie-restricted diets: one with only whole grains, the other with only refined grains. Both groups lost weight over 12 weeks, but with whole grains, they lost considerably more abdominal fat.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
My wife and I like to rollerblade. Near the end of one of our favorite routes is a long hill. When we first started taking this route, I tried to encourage Sue by saying, “Are you ready for the hill?” just before pushing our way to the top. But one day she said, “Could you please not say that? You make it sound like a huge mountain, and that discourages me.”
It was better for Sue to face the hill thinking only about one “step,” or one rollerblade push, at a time instead of an entire steep hill to conquer.
Life can be like that. If we peer too far ahead of today, the challenges may feel like a Mt. Everest climb. They can appear impossible to handle if we think we have to be “ready for the hill.”
The Bible reminds us that today is all we need to tackle. We don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s tasks (Matt. 6:34). Imagine Moses thinking, “I’ve got to feed all these people for who knows how long. How can I get that much food?” God took care of that mountain with manna—but only enough for one day at a time (Ex. 16:4).
Every hill in life is too high if we think we must climb it all at once. But no hill is insurmountable if we take it one step forward at a time—with God’s help. — Dave Branon
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest. —Berg
God is there to give us strength for every hill we have to climb.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Two of the most common resolutions made every year are to be fit and/or lose weight, and to spend more time with family. In an effort to keep both resolutions, try turning your family time into health and fitness time. Former U.S. Surgeon General and founder of Shape Up America!, Dr. C. Everett Koop stated in the introduction to 99 Tips for Family Fitness Fun, "...I encourage you to choose activities you can do together and support and reward each other's efforts to be more active at home, at school, at work, and in your communities...The pleasure of your company is the best reward your child can receive and the best gift you can give."
January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month, and it is a month brimming with resources to help you meet your fitness goals. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Family Fitness Kit:Secrets to making you and your family healthier, starting today, without fancy gadgets or exercise equipment. Visit www.healthymainepartnerships.org/tip
s.aspx to download the PDF and browse other family-friendly health resources.
Visit Shape Up America to learn about the 10,000 Step Program, and download a PDF guidebook for getting started ( www.shapeup.org/shape/10000steps_200
6fs.pdf ) While you're there, check out the online cyber-kitchen to help choose a calorie goal, select menus and build a healthy shopping list with recipes( www.shapeup.org/atmstd/kitchen/page0
Making AMERICA healthy one person at a time! Makes me HAPPY
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Hopefully this will help me see what I need to tweak every week.
Classic - Phase 1
Goal - Fat=20% Protein=50% Carbohydrate=30%
Week 1 - July 14 - 20, 2009
Week 2 - July 21-27, 2009
Week 3 - July 28-3, 2009
Week 4 - August 4-10, 2009
PHASE 1 Average
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