Saturday, January 28, 2017

Our Next Challenge- getting adequate Vitamin C

I’m not sure if it my front yard grapefruit tree that is loaded with fruit (I do LOVE winter in Florida) or the amazing oranges I have been buying by the case at Costco (I even take them to church events as my contribution to the “refreshments”)- but I am an inspired to offer a Vitamin C challenge for this week!

So lt’s take a look at Vitamin C. Dietary sources with the most vitamin C are fresh, raw cantaloupes, citrus fruits, kiwis, mangos, papayas, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon and cranberries, Red and green peppers, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip greens and other leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, winter squash and Brussels sprouts.

The body uses vitamin C in many different ways. Vitamin C is needed by the body to form collagen.  According to the NIH, the body also uses vitamin C to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It also uses this vitamin to repair and maintain cartilage, bones and teeth, to heal wounds and to form scar tissue.

Vitamin C may also prevent cancer by blocking the damage made by free radicals. “Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals that we are exposed to in the environment such as air pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light from the sun,” said Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. 

Many people tout vitamin C as a cure-all for a wide range of diseases. Some of these have not yet been proven. “Health benefits of vitamin C that have been proposed but not scientifically proven include a lower risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts,” said Ross.

Recent studies have also suggested that vitamin C may prevent heart attacks by slowing down hardening of the arteries by preventing LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Vitamin C may also shorten the amount of time a person is sick with a cold, and also lessen the symptoms

Not getting enough of this vitamin can cause easy bruising, gingivitis and bleeding gums, dry and splitting hair, rough, dry, scaly skin, a decreased wound-healing rate, nosebleeds and a decreased ability to ward off infection, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Because vitamin C is water soluble it is not stored by the body. It is filtered out and leaves the body in urine. Thus you need a constant fresh supply every day.

So your challenge for the week is to add one serving per day of a Vitamin C rich food.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Challenge #3 Have Some Fun!

I miss the days of a house full of energetic exciting little kids. And I treasure the occasional days I get to spend with my grand kiddoes (sadly we live in Florida and they live in California). We spent a fun morning together in December and once again I was wowed by how much energy they spend. They were playing with my grand dog: putting him on a leash and tearing around the house, grabbing sleds (we were in Utah) and heading out back and running furiously up the hill then sledding down while he barked in delight, throwing the ball so the dog could catch it in mid air.  It was a morning filled with high level fun and energy! I  hope you are having this kind of fun earning your daily exercise points. I fear that instead our exercise sometimes falls into a “have to” on our to-do list and looms over us like drudgery until we get it checked off. Exercise should be one of our most joyful experiences of the day. Here are a few ideas of fun ways to burn calories:
Hiking, especially with friends – Isn’t it so cool the gorgeous things we can see when we just get outside and hike? Here in Florida we are more prone to see sand cranes than deer but you are really missing out if all of your exercise is in a gym. Yes even a few minutes hiking in snow can be a delight and always more so with a friend or family member.
Walking – No time to hike?  Go for a walk.  Even a 15-minute brisk walk is enough time to get close to a mile walked.  Do you have a 30-minute meeting at work?  Have a walking meeting instead.  Steve Jobs was known for doing this. I have a son that can’t understand why people sit and wait to board a flight where they will sit for several hours. Instead he always briskly walks around the boarding area when he’s waiting.
Rock Climbing – Is there a gym near you? Have you tried it? Not only challenging but a great way to work muscles that rarely get any work.
Dancing –  Ever tried swing dancing? Hip hop? Zumba? Tango? Flamenco? Belly dancing? Does your gym offer any dance classes? Try some you tube instruction to gain some new moves or just crank up the music and freestyle! 
Roughhousing with your kids. Fun for them and for you. Spend a few minutes trying to mirror all their moves and you’ll get an amazing work out.
Stop meeting for lunch – If someone wants to meet up with you for lunch, suggest something active instead: throw a baseball, toss a frisbee, go for a hike – anything that gets you up and moving.
Clean – Not usually our favorite activity but why not make a game out of it?  See how much you can accomplish with a single song blasting at max volume.  Of course, after getting through one song, you’ve already started so you might as well keep going!
Yoga – Build flexibility, strength, and learn to relax.  There are million kinds of yoga, so sign up for a few different kinds and see which one lines up the best with what you’re looking for.
Play video games that make you be active – Wii Tennis, Wii Fit, Just Dance, Dance Dance Revolution- remember how fun these are? Dust off your game consoles and have some fun moving.  
Play on a playground –Go down the slide, swing across the monkey bars, climb the rope, balance on the balance beam.  Create an obstacle course for yourself and see how quickly you can get through it.
Play a musical instrument – Did you know playing the violin for an hour burns about as many calories as walking around a track at a moderate pace? You haven't played for years- pull out your instrument and ENJOY! 
Join a Rec league – Want to be active and meet people?  Join a softball league, play some basketball, find a sand volleyball game to play in.  You get to exercise AND it’s a great way to meet new people.
Bike to work or to do your errands – You get from Point A to Point B, you save money on gas, and you get a workout.  
Play a childhood game – What games did you play as a child? Capture the flag? Kick the can? Simple tag? Get a few friends together and give it a try – it will be the most fun you’ve had in a while!

You guessed it. For every day that at least 10 minutes of your daily exercise is something "fun" you earn the 5 daily bonus points!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Challenge #2 Getting More Real Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern. In a recent article by Joe Belanger he explained that “your gut is the site of constant turf wars. Hundreds of bacterial species—along with fungi, archaea and viruses—do battle daily, competing for resources. Many experts advocate for consuming more probiotics, live beneficial bacteria, to improve microbial communities in our gut (I do think this is a healthy choice) but more and more research supports the idea that the most powerful approach might be to better feed the good bacteria we already harbor. Their meal of choice? Fiber.  

Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern. One investigation discovered that adding more fiber to the diet can trigger a shift from a microbial profile linked to obesity to one correlated with a leaner physique. Another recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber, they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease.

"Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota," Justin Sonnenburg,

a biologist at Stanford University, said earlier this month at a Keystone Symposia conference on the gut microbiome. "Dietary fiber and diversity of the microbiota complement each other for better health outcomes." In particular, beneficial microbes feast on fermentable fibers—which can come from various vegetables, whole grains and other foods—that resist digestion by human-made enzymes as they travel down the digestive tract. These fibers arrive in the large intestine relatively intact, ready to be devoured by our microbial multitudes. Microbes can extract the fiber's extra energy, nutrients, vitamins and other compounds for us. Short-chain fatty acids obtained from fiber are of particular interest, as they have been linked to improved immune function, decreased inflammation and protection against obesity.
Today's Western diet, however, is exceedingly fiber-poor by historical standards. It contains roughly 15 grams of fiber daily, Sonnenburg noted. For most of our early history as hunter-gatherers, we were likely eating close to 10 times that amount of fiber each day. "Imagine the effect that has on our microbiota over the course of our evolution," he said.

Feed the microbes so they don't feed on you
As gut microbes are starved of fermentable fiber, some do die off. Others, however, are able to switch to another food source in the gut: the mucus lining that helps keep the gut wall intact and free from infection.
In a recent study presented at the Keystone meeting, Eric Martens of the University of Michigan Medical School, postdoctoral researcher Mahesh Desai and their colleagues found that this fuel switch had striking consequences in rodents. A group of mice fed a high-fiber diet had healthy gut lining, but for mice on a fiber-free diet, "the mucus layer becomes dramatically diminished," he explained at the meeting. This shift might sometimes have severe health consequences. Research by a Swedish team, published last year in the journal Gut, showed a link between bacteria penetrating the mucus layer and ulcerative colitis, a painful chronic bowel disease.

A third group of mice received high-fiber chow and fiber-free chow on alternating days—"like what we would do if we were being bad and eating McDonald's one day and eating our whole grains the next," Martens joked. Even the part-time high-fiber diet was not enough to keep guts healthy: these mice had a mucus layer about half the thickness of mice on the consistently high-fiber diet. If we can extend these results to humans, he said, it "tells us that even eating your whole fiber foods every other day is still not enough to protect you. You need to eat a high-fiber diet every day to keep a healthy gut." Martens and his colleagues also observed that mice on the consistently high-fiber diet consumed fewer calories and were slimmer than those on the fiber-free diet, showing that fiber benefits the body in multiple ways.

Whew hope that wasn’t all too scientific for you. Bottom line is your general health is affected HUGELY by your gut health and your gut health is affected HUGELY by how much fiber you eat. And of course I want you to work this week on eating more fiber.

The easiest challenge for me to give you is to eat 40 grams of fiber and I hope some of you choose to hit that mark. But as that might be too challenging for some what I would like you to do is to have you look at how much fiber you ate daily last week and see if you can raise it 5-10 grams per day.

For every day that you make marked improvement in  your fiber intake you can claim the daily 5 bonus points. And BTW I would recommend REAL fiber over highly processed fiber products. Eat some steel cut oats, popcorn, an orange, some real fresh coconut etc. rather than Fiber one bars or cereal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Week #1 Bonus Challenge - Being kind to yourself

Imagine you got a call from a life long friend. You haven't seen each other in many years but she is in town and wants to meet you for breakfast tomorrow morning at 7. You are so excited! You get to the agreed meeting place and wait quite awhile but she does not show up. You are so disappointed and worried that perhaps you misunderstood the meeting time or place. She calls later that day and apologizes for not showing up and makes plans to meet you the same time and same place tomorrow. Again you get up early, get ready and show up at the agreed time and place but again she doesn't show up. You are beginning to get kind of aggravated. Later that day you get another phone call and another apology. Can you please meet tomorrow morning? You agree that yes you can meet. But for a third time she stands you up! And what would you think? She is a flake. She cannot be counted on. She puts very little value on your time or your friendship. By the third time you would be ticked for sure. Surely you would never treat a friend so badly so you cannot understand her rude behavior toward you.

A similar story was shared by Brother Randall Wright at Brigham Young Universities recent Education Week. He went on to explain that while hopefully none of us would consider treating a friend as badly as in this imaginary story, we actually constantly mistreat a friend in this manner. Every time we vow to get up early to head to the gym, or promise ourselves to take a long walk, or vow to prepare a healthy snack or lunch to take to work and we neglect do follow through we let ourselves down.  By not following through on promises we make ourselves to pursue health and fitness we show a lack of value for our own well being.

If you are new to our healthy living competition I need to share with you that each week you will check this blog site (usually by Sunday evening) to read the weekly challenge for the following week. You generally earn 5 points per day for this challenge. 

 Your first weekly challenge includes the following:
 1. Join
2. Begin entering all you eat and drink each day into the program
3. Friend 3 people on the site 
4. Contact your Healthy Challenge Partner in some way each day and encourage them to follow the new guidelines 
5. Read the FAQ and RULES tabs on the blog 
6. E-mail me with any questions

Along with those things listed above please read the following quotes and spend some time really pondering your stewardship over your body and making your health and well being a priority. As you complete the list above as well as praying and pondering your stewardship over your personal health you will earn the daily 5 bonus points. 

Here's a few quotes that I hope serve as inspiration:

Russell M. Nelson "We will regard our body as a temple of our very own. We will not let it be desecrated or defaced in any way. We will control our diet and exercise for physical fitness."

Dr. Victor Cline "It is almost impossible to feel discouraged while keeping physically active."

Randall Wright "When I have the self-discipline to control myself physically, I feel the Spirit, and the things I should do become clearer to me. When I don't control the physical side, the Spirit leaves, and I am on my own." 

Brigham Young "Now brethren, can we fight against and subdue ourselves? That is the greatest difficulty we ever encountered, and the most arduous warfare we ever engaged in. " 

President Gordon B. Hinckley 
"Be strong-be strong in the discipline of self. How many otherwise good men squander their strength and dissipate their will and literally destroy their lives because they have not the power of self discipline" 

Elder Joe J. Christensen "It is easy to rationalize that we don't have time to exercise. Not so. Ultimately, our improved health through exercise will provide us more time and energy to accomplish other tasks. We can usually do about whatever we want to- if we want to badly enough" 

Steven R. Covey "Exercise doesn't take time it saves time. Still few occasionally do it" 

Richard G. Scott "Spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive revelation... we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices."