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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nutrition and Health Questions - 2015

The New York Times Well Blogs, featured their most popular health questions for 2015 Most Popular Health Questions You Asked This Year.  Some of these questions and responses are highlighted below. (Q and A adapted somewhat for this blog.)
Q:  What is the Best Time to Exercise to Lose Weight?
A:  Running on empty seems to work.  Some research shows working out on a completely empty stomach stimulates the body to burn more fat and even stave off weight gain.  But for me, exercising on empty would only lead to low blood sugar and poor performance.  Even before I go for a morning walk I at least eat a banana to have some energy.
Q:  How Can I Reduce Belly Fat?
A:  Belly fat is not only of concern for appearance sake, it also can be a health risk.  The Mayo Clinic and other researches (Central Obesity) have noted those with large waists are more likely to have health problems such as cardiovascular disease than those with normal waistlines. So if you are trying to drop a few inches off your waist, focus on exercise.  Studies vary as to which exercise is best but a review of the research indicates that combining some weight lifting with aerobic exercise works best to shed those inches around your waist.  Most people think sits ups reduce belly fat but apparently that isn’t the case.  The NY Times quoted Dr. Hunter from the University of Alabama as stating, Situps do not spot reduce the waistline, Dr. Hunter says, adding, “You’re better off going for a walk.”
Q:  What is The Best Exercise to Reduce Blood Pressure?
A:   Actually studies indicate any exercise is good for lowering blood pressure, even walking.  So walk your dog, enjoy a walk at lunch, park far away from the door when you go shopping.  Find ways to get in those 10,000 steps a day.  Spreading walking, cycling or weight training throughout the day is even better for lowering blood pressure.  Why exercise?  By exercising you alter the way blood flows through your blood vessels, it flows more easily during and right after your work out or exercise.  So if you are trying to get your blood pressure under control, three 10 minute bouts of exercise (even walking) would be better than 30 minutes.  Research shows the exercise doesn’t have to be intense as walking works.  Need to talk to a co-worker?  Rather than send an e-mail, walk to their desk down the hall.  Take a few minutes at lunch to go for a walk, even if it is just 10 minutes.  Find ways to add some walking into your day.
Q:  What is the Best Grain to Eat at Breakfast?
A:  All grains at breakfast should be whole grains.  So easy to add a whole grain cereal to your breakfast with all the cereal options available.  Oatmeal is a top choice.  The less processed the oatmeal the better, but choosing oatmeal is the goal.  A student asked me what it the difference between steel cut oatmeal and regular oatmeal.  It has to do with how processed the oatmeal is.  The steel cut is less processed, takes longer to digest, and would be healthier. However, most brands of steel cut oatmeal take forever to cook and many don’t have the time.  Find an oatmeal, instant, regular or steel cut, you like and you are willing to prepare.  Cheerios is a very healthy choice and is made of oats.  Cheerios may not have quite the health benefit of oatmeal since is it more processed, but a very healthy choice.  Eat oatmeal when you can or at least a few times a week.  A bowl of oatmeal will fill you up and you will fill full longer as it takes longer to leave your stomach.  Skip the Corn Flakes, Sugar Frosted Flakes and other junk cereal.  Focus on whole grains to start your day.
If you are making some New Year’s Goals for 2016, these would be some easy ones to try: 

  1. Eat some oatmeal every week – add any kind of oatmeal and if not at breakfast, have a bowl of oatmeal for a snack.
  2. Walk more each day – park far away from door, walk at lunch or before/after dinner.  Find ways to walk more at work
  3. Focus on the 10,000 steps a day for good health – and for less belly fat and lower blood pressure.

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