A few pounds can make a big difference when it comes to diabetes. If you have the condition, your body either has trouble making enough of a hormone called insulin or can’t make any at all. Insulin helps break down the food your cells use for energy. When your body can’t break down this energy, you end up with high levels of sugar in your blood. Studies show that people at high risk for Type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the disease if they lose as little as 10 to 14 pounds (at a starting weight of 200 pounds). To begin your weight-loss journey:
Step 1 – Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week. Walk during your lunch break. Park your car farther from stores or your office. If you haven’t been active for a long time, talk to your doctor about the best physical activity plan for you.
Step 2 – Make healthy food choices. Go with foods that are low in fat, sugar and calories. Limit your portion sizes. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and veggies. When you’re thirsty, drink water, which is calorie-free. And eat healthy snacks between meals so you don’t get too hungry.
As a melting pot, the U.S. is full of different cultures and their foods. This diversity of flavors can help us cook more exciting meals with healthier ingredients. Add a little Mexican-inspired cilantro and garlic instead of salt to bring new life to a stew – or replace a buttery mashed potato side dish with hearty Indian-style lentils.
Whether you’re borrowing herbs and spices from another country or preparing your own special dishes in a healthier way, your choices are endless! Use more chili, garlic, ginger, basil, oregano, curry, low-sodium soy sauce and cilantro – and less salt, gravies, creams and heavy sauces. Try baking a meal you traditionally fry. And include more fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, seafood, lean meats and low-fat dairy options in your new and improved menu.
Fruit is awesome! In addition to being high in fiber and vitamin C, most fruit is naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. Eating more of it as part of a healthy diet may even lower your risk for some chronic diseases. Plus, fruit is a great substitute for sugar in recipes and desserts.
The best time to buy different fruits is when they’re in season and at their peak flavor. Since the fresh kind doesn’t last long, stock up on dried, frozen or canned (in water or 100% juice) fruit to have a supply on hand. Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit, instead of juice, so you get more fiber.
Have you heard that you should stop exercising as you get older? Or that women shouldn’t do weight-training activities because they’ll get too muscular? These are both common fitness myths.
The truth is that staying active is one of the best ways you can stay strong and fight
aging. Plus, you can lower your risk for many serious health problems, like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and bone density loss. Women, who are more prone to osteoporosis, can especially benefit from weight-training activities that keep their bones, muscles and joints in good shape.
So the next time you hear people making excuses for why physical activity is bad for you, tell them to get the facts!
- Our pets: friends and healers
- Get a move on – Quit sitting your life away
- Gain more from exercise
- QuikRiskTM Assessment: Breast cancer
- New colorectal cancer screening guidelines
In each issue you will find information and inspiration to help you with your health and wellness goals.
Americans have a taste for salt (or sodium), which plays a role in high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should further lower their sodium levels to 1,500 mg a day.
Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts; and ready-to-eat foods, like canned soups. To minimize how much sodium you have each day:
- Eat fewer processed foods, in smaller portions.
- Read nutrition labels to keep track of how much sodium is in your food.
- Have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are usually low in sodium.
Skip the salt when cooking and try other seasonings.
Vegetables are light on calories, but packed with disease-fighting vitamins and minerals. Ideally, you should fill half your plate with them. And it’s easier than you think.
To bulk up the vegetable content of your meals:
- Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave for a quick-and-easy dish.
- Be ahead of the game. Cut up a batch of bell peppers, carrots or broccoli and pre-package them to use in a pinch.
- Brighten your salad by using colorful vegetables, such as shredded radishes and chopped red cabbage.
When eating out, choose vegetables or a salad as your side dish.
About one-third of Americans have high blood pressure, which raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don’t have high blood pressure, you can take steps to prevent it. These healthy habits can help you keep your blood pressure normal:
- Eating healthy foods and limiting salt and alcohol intake.
- Being physically active.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Learning to relax, manage stress and cope with problems.
- Quitting smoking to protect your blood vessels.
If you have trouble keeping your blood pressure in check or have a family history of high blood pressure, talk to your doctor.
Barbecuing in the great outdoors is fun, relaxing and brings people together. But it also means you have to be extra careful when you prepare food.
Some studies suggest that eating food charred by high-heat techniques, such as barbecuing, grilling, frying and broiling, may raise your risk for cancer. To make sure your cookout stays safe:
- Don’t leave meat or poultry cooking over a high-heat source, like an open flame or hot metal surface, for too long.
- Remove any visible fat that can cause flare-ups.
- Precook meat and poultry in the microwave before putting it on the grill; this releases some of the juices that can drop on coals.
- Keep turning meat or poultry over, so no one part gets burnt.
- Don’t eat charred pieces of meat or poultry.
- Throw out the gravy from meat drippings.
With these basic precautions, you can fire up that grill with peace of mind!