Friday, April 3, 2009

Can Fruit and Vegetables Help Weight Loss?

A recent study in Brazil says yes. The study was published in Nutrition Research, Issue 28, 2008. Over a six month study period they found that increasing the fruit, vegetable and fibre content of the diet resulted in greater weight loss than the control group. They also found that an increase in intake of vitamins C and B6, B-carotene and folate were also associated with weight loss.

Other benefits besides weight loss

Fruit and vegetables are packed full of nutrients that your body is crying out for. Eating the right amounts of fruits and vegetables help to prevent:
  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
They also
  • improve vascular function
  • promote weight loss
  • improve blood pressure
  • reduce risk of diabetes

Statistics published in a British medical journal, The Lancet, show that eating 3 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day give an 11% reduction in the risk of stroke over people who eat less than three servings. Those who eat more than 5 servings per day have a 26% reduction.

Undoubtedly there are other benefits than those I have just listed. Although, even if that were all, it would be enough to take notice and think about how much fruit and vegetables we really eat.

Use fruit for snacks

If you are trying to lose weight you will not want to just add extra fruit and vegetables to what you are already eating. Think about which foods you are eating that have empty calories. That is, for the amount of calories that they add to your diet, they are low on nutrients. Some examples of this would be chips, soft drinks, lollies and sweets, cakes etc. You get the idea? Eating fruit and vegetables instead of this type of food is a good start to a healthier life.

Feel like a snack? Have a bowl of fruit handy.

Hints of adding more fruit and vegetables to your diet
  • Keep fruit and vegetables where you can see them easily.
  • Use frozen vegetables and precut, prewashed fresh produce if it makes it easier.
  • Experiment with sauces, dressings, spice blends and nuts to go with them.
  • Try fruit smoothies, juice, banana or fresh fruit in cereals for breakfast.
  • Add vegetables to casseroles and soups.
  • Drink vegetable juices
  • Create salads. Use tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, and other brightly coloured vegetables to go with the leafy greens.
  • Berries, fresh or frozen are a great dessert.
The list could go on. There are so many ways of enjoying fruit and vegetables. If you have a favourite recipe or way of using fruit or vegetables please share it with us by leaving a comment.

Eat you way to good health


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Some Benefits of Walking

After writing about weight loss, I began to consider, what were the benefits of walking? Are there benefits from walking other than losing weight? I found quite a few that make walking sound like a not to be missed activity.

A few benefits of walking
  • Protects the heart and circulatory system by raising HDL, the good cholesterol, and keeping weight down.
  • May help prevent cancer by, among other things, beneficial effects on the immune system and hormone levels.
  • Decrease the risk of glaucoma. Exercise also lowers the pressure for those with glaucoma.
  • Decreases risk of diabetes
  • Helps with efficient metabolism

Steps per day

When healthy young men dropped their daily steps from 6,000 or 10,000 steps down to 2,000 steps it took only two weeks for their metabolism to show problems. Their body was no longer processing energy from food efficiently. This caused a large increase in insulin circulating in their blood. It also caused a 7% increase in abdominal fat even though there was no weight gain. An increase in heart disease risk factors was also noted.

2000 steps is equivalent to about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). It is surprising how many steps per day we can add just by parking the car a bit further away or taking the steps instead of the elevator. I am sure that most of us can think of ways to add extra steps in our day. Most of us would need to add a 30 - 60 minute walk to achieve a goal of 6,000 to 10,000 steps per day.

Just 30 minutes of walking a day gives as much risk reduction for heart attack as higher intensity exercise.

What is the best speed to walk? That depends on why you are walking and what you are able to do. If you are primarily walking to lose weight, walking at an easy pace, where it is easy to carry on a conversation, is best. This gives the body time to release and burn stored sugar and fat, rather than burning only available sugars and muscle.

There is very little difference in calories burned per mile walking at speeds between 2.5 (4 km) and 4 miles per hour
(6.4 kmph). The more you weigh, the more calories you burn at any speed. However it is not worth the injury risk to carry extra weight. It is easier to walk an extra 5 minutes. A walking speed of 5 mph (8 kmph) or 12 minutes per mile brings you to the top calorie burn per mile and is the same as that achieved by jogging. Runners don't get any calorie burning benefit by going faster than 10 minutes per mile or 6 mph (9.6 kmph).

Increase your distance slowly

The greater the distance you walk the more calories you burn. The only benefit in walking faster is that you can go further in the same time. Only do what you are able to do and build up. If you are only able to walk 100 meters at first, do that for two days and then increase the distance by half. Do that for two or three days and increase by half again. Continue increasing like this until you can walk the desired distance. It is not necessary to run unless you enjoy it.

Another point about speed is that slower strolling reduces the loads on the knee joints by 25%. This is important to consider if you have quite a lot of weight to lose. Also walking with fitness poles has the effect of burning more calories per mile while taking pressure off the knees and joints.

Make sure you have shoes that fit you well. If your climate doesn't lend itself well to walking outdoors, try walking in a large enclosed shopping mall.

So for both preventing ill health and improving your health status, start walking.

Be in good health


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weight Loss?

Did you find that you needed to lose weight?

Have you tried and tried before with little or no success?
The last thing you want to do is lose some weight only to put it back on plus more. This is exactly what happens to most people when they diet. That is because after they have done the work they reward themselves by going back to how they ate before. The problem with that is if you do what you did before you will get the same results you got before. If we want different results we have to continue doing what gives us the results we want.

Whatever It Takes

It is very discouraging when we try to do something and never get there.
We can end up feeling as though it is no use trying again.
However when your health is at stake, giving up is not an option.
In my family we have a saying "whatever it takes".
When something is important the motto is to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.
The secret to success with this is to have people around you who are supportive of what you are doing and will encourage you.

Steps To Take
  • Make a strong determination in your own mind that you are going to lose weight. If it is going to be it is up to me.
  • Assess your past attempts. Did you do anything to sabotage your success? If so find out why and sort out those issues. Ask for help. Sometimes we need to talk it out to work out what is going on.
  • Determine to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. Hint: If one thing doesn't work find something that does.
  • Keep a food journal for a week or two (or longer if it works for you). This will identify exactly what you are eating. It puts you in the driver's seat. You are in control. You can then decide which of the things you are eating are beneficial to you and if there are other things you would rather eat than some of what you did eat.
  • Decide what method or steps you are going to take to achieve your goal. Write them down. Tell your support people all about it.
  • If you have a lot of weight to lose or other health issues talk to your health professional about what you want to do. Get their advise but in the end it is you who is in control and makes the decisions.
  • Plan. What type of exercise? How much? When? What will I eat? How much? When? Note: you do not have to starve yourself or do excessive exercise. Be kind to yourself
Other Ideas

There has been some research that indicates that Vitamin D can assist obese people who are deficient in vitamin D to lose weight. If you live in a sunny climate it is easy to get vitamin D by exposing your skin to the sun for 15-30 minutes each day. In tropical areas be sure to do this in the early morning before the sun is hot enough to make you burn. The studies also found that it is common for obese people to be low in vitamin D.

In my post about cinnamon, I noted that one of the uses for cinnamon was to use with honey for weight loss. I was just looking around and people have had mixed results with this. Some people report great results and some don't. Some like the taste and some don't.

Here is the recipe in case you would like to try it.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water on to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Leave it to steep for about 15 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon raw honey and stir. Drink one cup on an empty stomach about 30 minutes before breakfast and another cup in the evening before bed.

This article is not intended to be a complete resource of everything you need to know. If it can inspire you to begin to take control of your own health, or if it can give you an idea or two that helps you to achieve your goal, then it will have served its purpose.

You are in control of your destiny. Take steps today to achieve your health goals. Only you can set it in motion. Others can help but you are in charge. What questions do you have regarding losing weight? Leave a comment to let me know.

Good health and success


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Healthy Weight Charts

It is interesting to note that there are some variations in the healthy weight charts that are available. These charts really are just a guide. There is a lot of variation in what is considered “normal”. Things to take into account are age, build, amount of muscle, and whether you are you very tall or very short. All of these things make a difference in whether standard charts are accurate for any given individual. That said they can still be a useful guide as to how our weight is going.

Below is an example of a healthy weight chart using imperial measurements.


Weight without clothes:

19-34 years

35 years and over





























To complicate things even more the old style weight chart is not used as much any more. It has been replaced by the BMI. That is the Body Mass Index. This is based on both your weight and height and is a simple way to check if your weight is in the healthy range. It is considered, for most people, to be a reliable way of telling if your weight is putting your health at risk.

Here is a formula used to determine BMI.


weight (pounds)x 703

Height squared (inches²)

If working it out in metric measurements the formula is:

Your weight in kilos divided by your height in meters squared.

If you are not keen on doing the math yourself, just use the calculator at the top of the page.

BMI categories:

Underweight – less than 18.5

Normal weight – 18.5 – 24.9

Overweight – 25 – 29.9

Obese – 30 - 35

There is some difference in opinion on the 18.5 – 19.9 BMI. Some charts count these as underweight and some as normal. There are also other classifications when the BMI above 35.

Waist Measurement

The latest method of gauging overweight is the waist measurement. Again, there is some variation in the measurements that are given and some thought that different measurements are appropriate for different racial groups. Also this method is not suitable for anyone under 18 or over 65.

It is now believed that how much fat you have around your tummy is an important indicator of increased health risks. Carrying fat around your waist is considered more of a health risk than if the fat is mainly in the hips and thighs. This is because it is an indicator of internal fat deposits which can coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas and increase the risk of chronic disease.

Even if your BMI is in the normal range it is important for your waist measurement to be within the guidelines.

Women – 35 inches (88 cm) or the other variation is 32 inches (80 cm)

Men – 40 inches (102 cm) or 37 inches (94 cm)

Waist to Hip Ratio

Another way to look at this is the waist to hip ratio. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. (hips being the widest part below your waist)

Women should have a waist to hip ratio of .8 or less

Men should have a waist to hip ratio of .95 or less

If you find that your weight is not being kind to your health, find support to do something about it. Help from a health professional as well as help
from a friend or family is useful. It is always easier to deal with the hard things in life if you have someone to support you in it.

Good luck with your weight
Keep in good health


Monday, March 30, 2009

Tactics to Get Rid of a Cold

Over the years I have collected a variety of remedies to deal with a cold. It is always better if it can be stopped before it gets a good hold on, and mostly I am successful but not always. Sometimes, to my peril, I just don't listen to the warning signs. Anyway, I thought I would share some of the things I have found that work for me and also some that I haven't yet tried but that sound interesting.

If you have a favourite method share it with us by leaving a comment.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is my personal, good old standby. I have had lots of success using vitamin C on a wide range of issues which I won't go into now. The problem most people have with taking vitamin C is they don't take enough. Please don't take heaps and heaps of those flavoured chewable tablets as they have lots of fillers in them and are not intended to be taken in mega doses. It is best to use pure ascorbic acid powder if you can get it. I used to use calcium ascorbate powder until I found out about pure ascorbate powder. One teaspoon of powder is equal to four gram of vitamin C.

The late
Linus Pauling says "to take 1 or 2 grams of vitamin C at the first sign of a cold and then again an hour later, if the symptoms still exist - if you are still sneezing, or your nose is running or feel shivery, take another 1 or 2 grams of vitamin C. Keep doing that until you forget because the symptoms have gone away and this will stop a cold in almost every person who follows the regimen."

Not everyone likes to take large doses of vitamin C so here is another method of using vitamin C at the start of a cold. I have not tried this (because I only just found out about it here) Mix 1 teaspoon of ascorbate powder in about 100 ml of water (just enough to dissolve all the vitamin). Then either use a dropper and place 20 drops in each nostril or use as a nasal spray and apply several fine sprays of the ascorbate solution in each nostril.

Vitamin D

This is my current favourite. Not suitable for all weathers, like today when it is cold and wet and there is no sun. Recently I read that your body's own antibiotics, called antimicrobial peptides, are released by vitamin D. So if your vitamin D levels are low then you are more likely to get colds, flu and other respiratory infections.

Dr John Cannell the founder of the
Vitamin D Council recommends that at the first sign of a cold to use 2,000 units of Vitamin D per kilogram of body weight. The dose would be taken once a day for three days. In Europe this is called "stoss" therapy and is safe to do, unless you have a high blood calcium for any reason. For this, he suggests using 50,000 IU capsules of vitamin D3 which are a medicine not a supplement. He warns that this is only to be done for the three day period as taking that dose every day for months or years is toxic and could cause death.

The Sun

When I worked out how many tablets that would be and what it would cost, I thought that seeing as I live in Queensland, Australia, the best thing to do would be to sit in the sun. 15 minutes in the early morning sun (before it is strong enough to burn) and do that for two or three days and the cold just doesn't happen. I have done this quite a number of times and it is magic.

Water and Sea Salt

This one I discovered after I read Dr F Batmanghelidj's book "Your Body's Many Cries For Water". At the first sign of a cold drink two glasses of water and take a pinch of salt with the second one. Then every hour on the hour have one glass of water. If you forget and two hours have gone by start again with 2 glasses of water and a pinch of salt. This usually works, although I have had failures, and it only works if you do it religiously.

Other Random Methods

I have not personally tried the following methods but some of them are quite well known.
  • Zinc lozenges can help speed recovery.
  • Gargle warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt several times a day to help throat soreness.
  • Garlic or garlic juice
  • Ginger tea. Some add lemon juice and honey to the tea.
  • Administer a few drops of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide in each ear. There will be some bubbling and in some cases mild stinging occurs. Wait until the bubbling and stinging subside (about 5 - 10 minutes) then drain onto tissue and repeat other ear. To cure the flu you'll need to repeat this process two or more times at one or two hour intervals until there is no more bubbling when putting hydrogen peroxide in the ears. My source for this claims 80% success rate.
  • Chicken soup
  • Sage - make a tea and let draw for about 5 minutes
  • Turmeric - see my previous post - 1 teaspoon turmeric in a cup of warm milk 3 times a day.
  • Cinnamon and honey - see post before last - 1 tablespoon lukewarm honey mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon for 3 days.

Well they are the ones I can think of for now. There are a couple of new ones there that I might try myself if I ever need to.

Keep cold free


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spice Up Your Food For Health

Having just written about turmeric and previously cinnamon, I was interested to see what other herbs and spices might have antibacterial, anti fungal, antiviral or antioxidant properties. I am sure that there will be many that I have missed. If your favourite is missing from my list please share it with us by leaving a comment.

"An herb is a friend of physicians and the praise of cooks." - Emperor Charlemange, 9th Century

Researchers recently discovered that the phenolic compounds in a study of 26 common spice extracts contributed significantly to their antioxidant capacity.
Other studies have shown the herbs and spices that were the best all round bacterial killers, that killed all of the 29 common food borne bacteria that they were tested with, were:
  • garlic
  • onion
  • allspice
  • oregano
Those that killed up to 80% of bacteria types tested were:
  • thyme
  • cinnamon
  • tarragon
  • cumin
Killing or inhibited up to 75% of bacteria types tested were:
  • hot peppers including chilies and capsicums
Others that tested as inhibiting 25% of bacteria types tested included:
  • ginger
  • anise seed
  • celery seed
  • juice of lemons and limes
  • black and white pepper
Other spices said to have antibacterial activity are:
  • cloves - used to stop bad breath.
  • mustard
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • turmeric

Nutmeg has, in animal studies, shown possible antidepressant possibilities. It also is active against Helicobacter pylori and E. coli. Be careful in using nutmeg because 1 to 2 ounces of nutmeg has been known to cause delirium and toxicity.
Peppermint, as well as its antimicrobial, antiviral and antioxidant properties, is said to show potential for anti tumor and anti allergenic actions. It is also known for its effect on relieving gas, and its analgesic and anesthetic effects in the central and peripheral nervous system.
Basil is used in some countries to reduce plasma cholesterol. Basil extract has been shown to contain antioxidant substances. Cloves has the highest antioxidant activity followed by cinnamon, pepper, ginger, garlic, mint and onion.

This is not intended to be a through coverage of all of the properties and uses of these herbs and spices, but just an overview to show the wonderful resources available to us. Using a greater variety of herbs and spices in our cooking could certainly contribute to our health and well being. Adding herbs to a salad dressing for example can increase the antioxidant capacity of the salad by 150% to 200%.

Have fun, experiment with the added flavour of herbs and spices. Even add them to canned or already prepared foods as they will add a lift to the taste.

Enjoy and be in good health


Turmeric A Spice To Be Used

While I am on the topic of the benefits of spices I thought it would be interesting to look at turmeric.


Turmeric is a very well known spice in India. In fact most of the world's turmeric comes from India and Indians use 80% of their turmeric crop themselves. Turmeric has been used as a flavouring, medicine and dye since 600 BC. The Greek physician Dioscorides (A.D. 40-90) mentioned turmeric in his writings.

Turmeric is harvested from the root of Curcuma Longa, a plant of the ginger family. Curcumin has been isolated as the factor that provides much of the medicinal properties of turmeric and that is also what gives it its bright yellow colour. In the kitchen, turmeric is a key ingredient in making curry powder.

Indian Knowledge

The health benefits and medicinal properties of turmeric have been known and practiced in India for thousands of years. Some of the uses the Indians put it to are:
  • reducing inflammation
  • arthritis and muscular disorders
  • strengthen the working of the stomach
  • mixed with honey to treat anemia
  • chronic cough and throat irritations
  • bronchial asthma - 1/2 teaspoon of fresh turmeric powder mixed in warm milk
  • colds - mix turmeric with caraway seeds
  • colds and influenza - 1 teaspoon turmeric powder in a cup of warm milk, three times a day
  • sprains - a paste of turmeric mixed with lime and salt
  • convulsions
  • intestinal problems and chronic diarrhoea
  • expelling worms - 20 drops of raw turmeric juice, mixed with a pinch of salt taken first thing in the morning
  • healing of wounds - due to its antibacterial action

  • The list could go on and on but that will be enough to give you the idea that in India your first aid kit would always include turmeric. In fact, in India, people put turmeric on their band aids as a disinfectant. They find that sprinkling the powder on wounds helps them to heal faster.
Turmeric Research

Studies in the 1930's, primarily in Germany, showed that turmeric stimulated the flow of bile and helped the gallbladder to empty more effectively. At the same time, in Asia, studies were showing that turmeric had protective and curative properties for the liver. Other studies showed that turmeric prevented large fluctuations in blood cholesterol after meals and also established the potent anti-inflammatory role of turmeric.
However in the 1990's there was an increasing number of herbalists investigating turmeric. Now scientists are investigating turmeric in relation to treating a wide range of diseases including cancer, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's disease and arthritis. The early studies have been done on rats, however in the last few years there have been some limited studies done with people. It has been established that curcumin does have powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.

The scientific studies continue and will undoubtedly uncover some very interesting things. Meanwhile, in homes all over India and other parts of Asia, people continue to use the traditional spices that have served them well for centuries. Adding some of their cuisine to our diet can only be an advantage as well as adding a new variety of taste.

Good health to all