Plant Proteins are Better for Your Health

Plant Proteins are Better for Your Health

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 21, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, what do you think about a meatless diet?  I have heard that plant proteins are better for your health and provide nutrients lacking from our normal diets but should we eliminate meat?

A: We have all heard the warnings to eat less red meat. Many people have gone farther than that and get some or all of their protein from plant proteins because they are better for your health.  Consumer Reports on Health (CR.org/cronhealth) reports in their September edition that “only 5 percent of Americans call themselves vegetarians.”  However, more and more of people are shifting to getting at least some of our protein from plants.  Here’s why:

EVEN SMALL CHANGES HELP – “Replacing even just a few meaty meals with meatless ones Plant based protiens that are better for your health at World Walk to Wellness Blogcan lead to improvements in health, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and less fat around your middle.  (Large waistlines are associated with a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.)  A 2016 study of 131,342 people found that trading just 3 percent of calories for an equivalent amount of plant protein resulted in a 12 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.  If plant protein replaced processed red meat – such as deli meat or hot dogs – it equated to a 34 percent lower risk of death.”

PLANTS CAN PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTEIN – Foods like beans, nuts, and soy are the most concentrated protein sources, according to Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. “Protein is essential for keeping your muscles strong – something that becomes even more important as you get older, because we do tend to lose some muscle mass as we age,” Hunnes says.  And a 2019 study found that protein – especially from plants – helps control the low-level inflammation that increases with age and contributes to disease.  Older people should aim for at least 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day – about 90 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds.  (Exercise is also key for maintaining muscle).”

PLANT PROTEINS PROVIDE EVEN MORE –  Fiber from plant protein “can help to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, lower your risk of colorectal cancer, and prevent weight gain….Plant-based diets are also rich in potassium and antioxidants….Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure – something that becomes increasingly important with age. (More than 60 percent of people 60 and older have high blood pressure, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.)” Antioxidants may help prevent cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. “A diet rich in plant-based foods helps provide a number of important nutrients that are lacking in the typical American diet,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania.

WHERE TO START? – Eliminating processed meat and limiting red meat is a good goal, the article suggests: Try to go meatless one or two days a week.    “The key is to experiment until you find healthy plant-based foods you love,” says Kris-Etherton.  “Then it won’t feel like a sacrifice to skip the meat.”

Next time you share a meal out with your vegetarian friends, why not try what they order?  You may discover that limiting red meat intake is not necessarily a burden. If you find you enjoy foods that provide plant-based proteins that are better for your health, you see timproved health at your check ups with your doctor.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated

Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

 

July 31 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, what are some good ways to stay hydrated in the hot summer weather other than drinking water?

A: Drinking plain water does get old – but there are ways you can still focus on staying hydrated. Last month’s Consumer Reports on Health (cr.org/health) offered the following tips:

  • MAKE WATER TASTIER Ways to stay hydrated in the hot weather with fruit infused water“Fill a pitcher or large water bottle with water each morning and aim to finish it off by bedtime will help you stay hydrated. If plain water is unappealing,“Add a splash of 100 percent fruit juice to a glassful” “Or chop up strawberries, melon, cucumber and orange, mint or other flavorful items and mix into a pitcher of water.

  • CHOOSE FRUITS AND VEGGIES – “Watermelon is a great choice during the summer months, but so are strawberries, lettuce, celery, spinach, tomatoes, and cooked squash – because they all contain 90 percent water or more.”

  • WHIP UP A SMOOTHIE – “In some cases, a smoothie you buy at a smoothie shop may have some of the same disadvantages as sports drinks and sodas: too much sugar. But if you make a smoothie at home, you can skip the sugar and pack your drink with other healthy ingredients, such a leafy greens, grains, or protein sources like silken tofu. For one of our favorite frappes, first blend ¼ cup oats until powdery. Add 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries, ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup orange juice, and 1 teaspoon orange zest. Blend until smooth.”

I hope that some or all of these ideas will help you stay hydrated, despite not liking to drink plain old water.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

How to Reduce Belly Fat

How to Reduce Belly Fat

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

July 2019

 

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, with each passing year, I seem to be adding to my padding…particularly in my middle.  Do you have suggestions for how to reduce belly fat?

A: You certainly are not alone in the so-called “battle of the bulge!”  Extra padding around your midsection could increase your risk of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

As you undoubtedly know, all physical activity will burn fuel in the muscles. Sometimes that fuel is converted fat, which will result in fat and weight loss, if not replaced in our nutrition plans. Remember, Energy Balance means consumption and use of calories are equal. To lose fat, Energy Balance has to be negative (more activity than eating, to simplify it).

The caveat:  When Energy Balance is negative and we burn fat in the muscles, we can’t direct where that fat comes from. If we have enough negative energy balance days that significant fat is burned as fuel, belly fat should be reduced, also.

 A recent article in parade.com had the following suggestions for winning the “battle of the bulge”:

  • TAKE A NATURE BREAK – “According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, strolling or sitting for 20 minutes in nature significantly lowers cortisol levels and help reduce belly fat. High levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, stimulate production of glucose, which – if it’s not used as energy – is converted into fat that’s stored in your midsection.”

  • STAND UP – “The more time people spend sitting down during the day, the more abdominal fat they had, according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity….The link was strongest for those who didn’t get the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.” Standing while working for part of your day will help reduce belly fat.

  • EXERCISE IN INTERVALS – “While any type of Goup of people out for a brisk walk to reduce belly fat and improve healthcardio will burn fat, research shows you’re more likely to trim your tummy doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a type of workout where you alternate exerting maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise with short, active recovery periods, says Wayne Westcott, PhD, professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. In one study, people who did two traditional ‘steady-state’ workouts and two HIIT workouts a week lost more weight overall and significantly more inches from their waistline, compared to the group that did only steady-state routines.”

  • EAT MORE PULSES – “The umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas, pulses have been shown to reduce body fat. Regular eaters have smaller waist measurements and overall 20 percent lower risk of obesity, says Cynthia Sass, RD.”

  • START STRENGTH TRAINING – At any age, adding weights to your workout can help you manage (and reduce belly fat) your middle, Westcott reports…To gain muscle, Westcott recommends strength training at least twice a week.”

  • CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS – “Higher levels of body fat are associated with lower vitamin D levels in people who are overweight, according to a recent study in the Netherlands….You can boost levels naturally by eating more fatty fish like salmon and eating D-fortified dairy products, orange juice or cereal.”

Try any or all of these techniques to keep help to reduce belly fat and “adding to your padding.”

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Eating Fruit has Many Health Benefits

Eating Fruit has Many Health Benefits

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, what are the health benefits of eating fruit?

A: According to Consumer Reports on Health, we should be eating 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit daily. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that only 12 percent of Americans meet that goal. Here are some reasons why we should strive to become part of that 12%:

BOOST ANTIOXIDANTS – “An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from plate of fruit with health benefitsdamage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules created during the process of oxidation during normal metabolism. Free radicals may play a role in the development of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.” One form of prevention seems to be eating brightly colored fruit, especially those that are red and purple. Think berries, plums, and cherries. These will give you “the biggest antioxidant bang for the bite.” Citrus fruits, apricots, cantaloupe, and apples have different antioxidants, so eating several varieties is a good strategy, according to Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., a research professor at Tufts University in Boston.

RAISE YOUR POTASSIUM – “Potassium helps your body’s nerves and muscles, including your heart, work properly.… Eating foods that contain more potassium and less salt can help control high blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.” Bananas, cantaloupe, and peaches are very good sources of potassium.

FIGHT DISEASE – “Adding a small apple a day to your diet…may reduce the risk of stroke by about 42 percent, according to a study published in the journal Stroke…. “Tart and sweet cherries can decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially benefiting people with diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions.”

INCREASE FIBER – “Fiber is linked to improved digestion as well as reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. It also can help you eat less.” High fiber fruits include guava, blackberries, raspberries, pears, and kiwifruit. (By contrast, fruit juice has very little or none.)

CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR – “When health experts say to eat less sugar, they’re talking about added sugars like those found in cakes, cookies, and soft drinks. But some people [mistakenly] think that the ‘eat less sugar’ directive applies to fruit, too.” The fiber contained in fruit “minimizes the effect that fruit’s natural sugars have on blood sugar levels.” A 2016 report “found that eating fruit, especially berries, lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes.” low-sugar fruits include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and starfruit.

The article makes clear that enjoying a variety of fruit may be very good for one’s health. Fruit is a healthy way to satisfy a craving for something sweet. Take advantage of the fresh fruit you admire at the farmers’ markets and invest in their health benefits.

 

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Ask Mr. Pedometer about Healthy Choices for Snacks: Pedometer.com

Ask Mr. Pedometer about Healthy Choices for Snacks: Pedometer.com

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

May 22, 2019

Q: Making healthy choices for snacks or quick meals can be difficult.  Many so called “Healthy Choices” aren’t really healthy.  Some may even pose dangerous health risks. How do we choose?

A: Reading labels and doing some research is a good start to rule out unhealthy snacks.  Some foods sound healthier than they actually are so it’s good to remember that what advertisers “put on a box” may not be exactly what is “in the box.” The June 2019 edition of Consumer Reports on Health (cr.org/health) issued the following warnings, along with suggestions for healthier snack choices:

  • VEGGIE STICKS – According to Joan Salge Blake, Ed.D., R.D.N., clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University, these “produce pretenders” are not much better than potato chips because of their high Air popped pop corn is a healthy choices for snackscalories and sodium and very little vegetable powder or fiber. Better choice:  Air-popped popcorn is a healthy choice, for whole grains, fewer calories, and more fiber.  Better still if you sprinkle it with herbs instead of salt.

  • RICE CAKES – “Even though they’re made with whole-grain brown rice, they provide little fiber, which helps curb your appetite. And like other rice products, they may contain arsenic which may pose a dangerous health risk.”  Flavored varieties may add lots of calories and sugars.  Better choice:  Choose a fiber-rich cracker and top it with healthy foods (such as peanut butter and sliced banana, or hummus with sliced tomato and cucumber) to make your snack more satisfying.

  • SPINACH WRAPS – They may look green, but they don’t really count as green vegetable intake, since that hue may be due less to spinach powder than to food coloring, according to Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., R.D., nutrition and dietetics instructor at St. Louis University. Better choice: Choose a multi-grain wrap instead, for more fiber, then use plenty of veggies in the filling.

  • PROTEIN POWDER – Protein powders are unnecessary, because we get enough protein from food, says Linsenmeyer. Also, some brands contain “concerning levels of heavy metals and other toxins which may pose dangerous health risks.” Better choice:  “Greek yogurt, silken tofu, tahini, or peanut butter can add a reasonable amount of protein to your smoothies and supply additional nutrients.”

  • GROUND TURKEY – A turkey burger may not be much better than a beef burger if the ground turkey contains dark meat and skin. Better choice:  Select ground turkey breast, which contains neither dark meat nor skin, therefore containing less fat.

  • BRAN MUFFINS – Beware of large bran muffins that may be loaded with sugar. Better choice: Pair a small bran muffin with a serving of yogurt and berries for a more balanced breakfast, or skip the sugars in the muffin by layering plain yogurt with fruit (such as bananas and berries) and a high-fiber cereal (such as Original All-Bran).

  • GRANOLA – Despite a mixture of oats, fruit, and nuts, many granolas have lots of calories and added sugars and fats – and even surprising ingredients such as whey protein concentrate.” Better choice – Use granola as a topping to a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal (such as Shredded Wheat), or sprinkle it on plain yogurt to add some crunch and sweetness.

  • INSTANT OATMEAL – “Packets and cups [of instant oatmeal] tend to have far more sugars than you’d add to oatmeal yourself.” Also, processed oats can cause a spike in blood sugar more than rolled oats.  Better choice:  Consider cooking a batch of steel-cut oats in the evening to have for breakfast for the next few days.  “Microwave a serving, add fruit, a little nut butter, and cinnamon or nutmeg.”

I hope these suggestions will help you snack more healthily.  Reading food labels is always a good idea.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

How much sugar should we consume in a day?

How much sugar should we consume in a day?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

April 10, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, How much sugar should a healthy person eat (or drink) in a day? pic of a food nutrition labelThe nutritional labels on foods generally tell not only the quantity of each nutrient, but also the percentage of the recommended daily amount. The exception is sugar. The label tells how many grams, but not how much that is toward a daily amount. 

A: Your question spotlights one of the biggest problems in Americans’ eating habits. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that most people should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of “free sugars” (any kind of sugar added into a food or beverage product) per day. However, that amount is found in just one cup of apple juice or a small fruit yogurt!

The Globalist Quiz in our local newspaper recently reported, “In the United States, almost three-quarters of the population consumes more than the recommended amount [of sugar] per day. (The U.S. average is 22 teaspoons per day, close to four times higher than the WHO recommendation.)”

That has alarming consequences for health in this nation, since excess sugar can lead to both obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Some researchers believe that sugar can be “chemically addictive,” with many of the problems associated with other types of addiction.

Reading nutritional labeling on food is a good practice. What can make it confusing, when reading ingredients, is that terms such as “corn syrup” and “fruit juice concentrates” may not be obvious as names for sugar additives.

The good news is that more and more consumers are choosing healthier foods. Major global food processing manufacturers are being impacted. The article noted that “companies such as Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola are experiencing continued decline in sales. Coca-Cola’s soft drink sales reached a 31-year low in 2017.” Perhaps this will persuade those large companies to reduce sugar additives? Meanwhile, consuming fewer processed foods seems to be the healthiest option.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL, FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!