The purpose of yoga is to build strength, flexibility, and awareness. The muscle stretching in yoga can lessen arthritis pain, backache, and headaches. Yoga has many benefits for your heart and lungs as well. It lowers your blood pressure and slows your heart rate. Yoga may also help increase muscle strength, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improve breathing and energy.
Aside from the physical benefits, yoga can help manage stress. Yoga involves paying attention to your breath, which can improve mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness. It relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, and sharpens concentration.
More than 100 different types of yoga exist. There is a form of yoga for everyone! Your size or fitness level does not matter. Every yoga pose can be modified. Beginner classes are available in every style. If you’re new to yoga, practice these 12 basic yoga poses to get started at WebMD (www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/slideshow-yoga-pose-basics).
Have you ever looked at your plate and been surprised to find your meal gone? If so, you may benefit from eating more mindfully.
What is mindful eating? It is a purposeful awareness of the food we eat and being present during the meal experience. When we employ mindful eating, our busy lives slow down when we eat and we are aware of the flavors, tastes, and textures of the food. Our meal becomes more relaxed and enjoyable.
Here is an exercise you can do to practice mindful eating:
Take a grape, piece of chocolate, or piece of cheese. Observe the appearance, shape, and texture. Notice the color and indentations.
Smell the food. Notice the aroma.
Take a bite or place a small amount of the food in your mouth, but do not chew it. Describe the texture and flavor before you chew the food.
After 30 seconds, chew the food and describe the texture and flavor.
Do you notice any difference?
Your newfound awareness can put more mindfulness on your plate.
Sources: Today’s Dietitian; January 2019; The Merits of Mindfulness—How Mindfulness Practice Can Enhance Health and Well-Being Today’s Dietitian; March 2013; Mindful Eating—Studies Show This Concept Can Help Clients Lose Weight and Better Manage Chronic Disease
Food portions can be a challenge, but choosing sensible amounts of all food is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is to make small, long-term changes in what you eat and drink, along with getting daily physical activity.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables—think variety and make it colorful.
Make half your grains whole grains.
Choose low-fat and fat-free dairy products.
Vary your protein—poultry, seafood, meat, eggs, nuts, and beans.
Other helpful tips:
Avoid portion distortion—read labels, measure, and place servings into containers or baggies.
Record the amount of food you eat with a three- to five-day food journal—you might be surprised!
Use smaller bowls and plates at mealtime.
Choose foods with less saturated fats, sodium, and added sugar.
Cook more often at home to control the ingredients in your food.
When dining out, look at nutritional information before ordering.
Drink water or low-calorie beverages with meals.
Get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.
Set realistic and achievable goals for your health. Remember, if you slip up one day don’t dwell on it, just press on with your health goals in mind. Download Key Nutrients from the Extension Store for additional information.
“What gets measured, gets managed”—Peter Drucker, management consultant and author.
Weight loss is a common goal many people share. Research suggests that tracking what we eat and how much we move can help us reach and maintain a healthy weight. Apps can make this tracking easier and more fun.
Check out these apps to help you achieve your health goals:
MyFitness Pal—This is a free calorie-counting app with more than five million foods in the data base and featuring a bar-code scanner option for ease and accuracy in tracking food intake. Users are able to set goals and track progress toward daily intake targets. Recipes and videos are shared when users log in to track food intake. Myfitnesspal.com
Spend Smart. Eat Smart.—You can carry Spend Smart. Eat Smart. in the palm of your hand at the grocery store with the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. mobile app*. The app tools make shopping for healthy foods a breeze. Produce Basics helps you choose, clean, store, and prepare fresh vegetables and fruit with ease. The Recipe Finder helps you keep track of your favorite recipes from the website. The Unit Price Calculator compares products to help you find the best price. *The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app will be available soon. Watch the website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, and Facebook page for announcements about the release.
Dine Safe—This is a free app that allows users to identify restaurants that cater to allergies and restrictions using a sort menu that compares allergies to allergens in each menu. Dinesafeapp.com
Epicurious—This free app offers cooking tips, recipe collections, and holiday menus. Epicurious is adding original video and features a seasonal ingredients finder and smart kitchen timer. Epicurious.com
Reference: Akers, J. D., R. A. Cornett, J. S. Savla, K. P. Davy, and B. M. Davy. 2012. Daily self-monitoring of body weight, step count, fruit/vegetable intake and water consumption: A feasible and effective long-term weight loss maintenance approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112 (5): 685–692, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.01.022 (27 January 2017)
Dancing is an excellent source of physical activity and provides many health benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:
better heart health
better balance and coordination
The amount of calories burned depends on the type of dance. Ballroom dancing, for example, is a form of moderate exercise that burns about 260 calories an hour. On the other hand, Zumba is a form of aerobic exercise that can burn up to 500 calories an hour.
To get started, find classes at your local health club, community center, or dance school. If you don’t have a partner, many classes will find you a partner. Dance DVDs are available for use at home by purchasing them or renting them from your local library. Your local cable provider may provide channels as well. Or better yet, turn up the music at home and dance it out.
No Bare Hands: The Iowa Food Code does not allow food handlers to touch ready-to-eat food with bare hands when serving the public. This means that foods like fresh produce (already washed and cut), sandwiches, pizza, deli meats, and bakery products are handled with tongs/utensils, deli papers, or gloves over clean hands.
Certified Food Protection Manager: The Iowa Food Code requires that at least one employee with supervisory responsibilities in a foodservice/restaurant operation be certified in food safety. This requirement became law in 2014. Existing restaurants have until January 1, 2018, to get at least one manager food safety certified.
Temporary Food Stands: Local food inspectors are busy during the summer months! They arrive before the food is served and inspect food stands at the farmers markets and at community events (Ice Cream Days, Watermelon Days, etc.). They check food temperatures and cleanliness, and they make sure the food handlers have a way to easily and correctly wash their hands.
Take a look around your local health market shelves or smoothie bar menu and you may notice products containing activated charcoal (also called activated carbon). Before you jump to try this latest fad, take a moment to understand what this product is, its intended uses, and health implications.
Activated charcoal is not found naturally in foods. It is made when coal, wood, or other substances are placed under high heat with a gas or an activating agent to expand the surface area. Activated charcoal has been used by medical professionals to manage poisonings and overdoses.
There are several other activated charcoal health claims that are far less studied include the following:
treating cholestasis (a condition of pregnancy affecting normal bile flow)
reducing high cholesterol
preventing a hangover
preventing gas (flatulence)
There is limited scientific evidence to support the use of activated charcoal as treatment for these conditions.
Activated charcoal is often marketed as a way to detox and eliminate harmful toxins from our bodies. Although the use of activated charcoal may be warranted in the case of poisonings or overdoses, general detoxification is done by our bodies naturally with the help of our kidneys and liver. Additionally, activated charcoal can absorb food nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need. It is also important to remember that the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, including activated charcoal.
Side effects are more likely when activated charcoal is used on a long-term basis; these include black stools, black tongue, vomiting or diarrhea, and constipation. Activated charcoal can also react with certain medications you may be taking. Always talk with your doctor before you begin taking any supplement, including activated charcoal.
The bottom line is that further research needs to be done to determine how effective activated charcoal is for the treatment of various conditions and what doses should be used.
Exercising can be hard, but tracking your progress doesn’t have to be. A fitness tracker counts your steps and provides motivation to exercise more throughout your day without drastic lifestyle changes or fad diets. By simplifying the process of monitoring with a fitness device, you will increase the likelihood of reaching a healthier weight and improving your overall health.
Fitness trackers are lightweight and wearable, and they can track steps, distance, heart rate, and calories used. Some even monitor sleep. The best activity trackers monitor your activity and display information about your daily routine on your smartphone or on the screen of the device itself.
Look for ones that will calculate your total minutes of activity, steps taken, heart rate, and goals for you. Some may even remind you to get up and move when you have been sitting for too long. Choose one that works with your lifestyle and habits. PC magazine has a good review of features and costs for some of the more popular wearable activity trackers.