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Friday, June 10, 2011

Glamorous Hydration!!

There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it…you need to drink water to stay fit and healthy. It’s estimated that up to 70% of our body is made up of water! Our blood is mostly water and our muscles and brains contain lots of water. We need water to assimilate vitamins and nutrients into our body, to transport oxygen to nourish our cells, to remove waste and to protect our organs and joints! Without water our bodies cannot function properly. Water is also in our lymph (nodes and fluids) so the amount of water in our body directly affects our immune system. If you want to boost your immunity, stay hydrated!

Oftentimes we don’t realize that the symptoms we’re feeling are the result of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration can include chronic joint and muscle pain, lower back pain, headaches and even constipation. If there is a strong odor or color to your urine it’s a big indication that we’re not giving our body enough water! Our bodies needed the water long before we started to feel thirsty.

For years people have followed the old adage that one should have 8, 16oz glasses of water per day. This may seem like a lot. For some it may be too much, for others too little, it all depends on the person. Size and activity levels should be taken into account. We lose water through every day activity including urination, sweating and even respiration. The more active you are, the more water you will lose, therefore the more water you need to take in!

We have found that a good estimate is to divide your weight by half to give you the number of ounces of water your body needs. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink at least 70oz (around 8 glasses). The water equation is complicated by variables! For ever 20 minutes you exercise you should add another 8oz. If you’re having an adult alcoholic beverage, you should have at least equal the amount of water (hangover prevention!). If you live in a hot, dry climate, add another two glasses!

Up to 20% of your water intake will come from the foods you eat. The rest must come from the beverages you drink. If your head is spinning trying to figure out the perfect amount… take a breath. Better yet, take a sip of your water and relax! We have a few tips that will help you up your water intake without even realizing your doing it!

~ Ditch the soda pop and energy drinks. While carbonated beverages and energy drinks contain water, they also contain high levels of caffeine, sugar and sodium. Not only are these drinks packed with empty calories that we don’t need, but the high levels of caffeine causes dehydration! If you drink a caffeinated beverage, tack on another 2 glasses of water to make up for it!

~ Give it a kick! Spice up your water with a hint of flavor. Flavored waters are all the rage these days. We say, “why waste the money when you can make your own?” Fill up a pitcher with water and add orange, mint, cucumber, lemon or lime to give it a kick! Experiment with favor combinations! One of my favorites is orange and clove!

~ Switch out your java for herbal tea.
I know this one may be tough for you die hard coffee drinkers….but again with the caffeine! There are so many great herbal tea flavor options out there. You can drink it hot with a lemon or steep the tea and pour it over ice! Just be sure that the herbal tea you choose isn’t a diuretic! Diuretics trick your body into thinking you have more water than we need…thus resulting in the need to drink more water!!

~ Add some bubbly and feel like a rock star! Try sparkling water with a splash of juice (my favorite is pomegranate) with a twist of lime. This is a delicious bubbly daytime cocktail that will make you feel like a rock star!

~ Get funky with some sexy style! Seriously, ditch the plastic water bottles. They’re bad for the environment and how sexy is BPA? You got it, it’s not! BPA has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked to diabetes in humans! But we still drink out of it? Preposterous! Shell out the $30 to buy a new Sigg bottle or other BPA free reusable bottle. I personally have a collection of Sigg bottles to choose from depending on my outfit and mood! You can even go to Café Press and design your own!

~ Get glamorous!!!!!!!!! If you are anything like 3 Healthy Chicks, you have cabinets filled with amazing stem ware. Beautiful wine goblets, snappy martini glasses and frosty pint glasses lifted from your favorite college joint. Who says they have to be filled with wine, vodka or beer? They’re fabulous glasses and there’s no reason for them to be collecting dust in your china cabinet! Dust off that hand painted (non-toxic!) martini glass and have some H2O on the rocks with a twist of lime and sprig of mint! Hell, put on your favorite Jersey Girl, Joan Rivers style sunglasses and embrace the healthy rock star that you are.

Cocktails before noon? Definitely!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chew Your Food

We live in a fast paced world. People are on the go, multi-tasking, planning and thinking ahead. In a busy world, people also eat on the go; in the car, at their desks, standing up, walking down the street, barely taking the time to enjoy their meal. When we eat quickly, we tend to eat more, therefore consuming more calories.

 Digestion begins in the mouth. Slowing down to completely chew your food, allows the release of digestive enzymes that break down food and greater assimilation of nutrients. Whole foods, especially whole grains, must be mixed with saliva and chewed until they become liquid to release their full nutritional value. Because digestion becomes so efficient when you chew your food thoroughly, your body will begin to feel wonderfully light. To get into the habit of chewing correctly, try counting the chews in each bite, aiming for 30 to 50 times. It helps if you put your fork down between bites.

 The New York Times reported on a few scientific studies to support the claim that eating slowly is a method for consuming fewer calories. Who could imagine that losing weight is as simple as taking a few more minutes to slow down and eat what is already on your plate?

5 Tips to Slow Down at Meal Time:

  1. Take 3 deep breaths before your meal.

  1. Place your fork down between each bite, or use chopsticks to eat.

  1. Chew your food at least 30-50 times before swallowing.

  1. Savor the flavors and textures that are happening in your mouth.

  1. Eat in a calm, relaxed atmosphere as often as possible.
Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Information adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lower Cholesterol, Naturally

How's your cholesterol? The good news is that lowering your cholesterol down to a safer level could be easier than you think. In fact, with simple lifestyle modifications people often see significant reductions in cholesterol within six weeks.

Get going right now, with these 10 easy, all natural tips:

Get Moving

Whether your goal is to lower your cholesterol, shed some extra pounds, or both, regular exercise can help you get there. I’m not talking about high-intensity workouts, either, though boosting your intensity can elevate HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Walking and other, more moderate physical activities are good for your heart, too. Walking is one of the simplest, safest and least expensive LDL-lowering strategies. Walking just 30 minutes a day protects the heart by increasing the size of LDL particles (bigger is better), decreasing inflammation and targeting dangerous belly fat. Just remember to pick up the pace, because faster is better for health and longevity. Whichever activity (or activities) you choose, just make sure you're doing it for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Shed a Few Pounds

If you weigh more than you should, slimming down may produce a significant drop in your cholesterol level. In fact, shedding just 5 to 10 pounds may be enough to improve your cholesterol level. If you’re making sure to fit in some workouts into your daily routine, you’ll already be on your way to shedding a few pounds!

Limit Animal Products

In general, cutting your dietary saturated fats will lower cholesterol. Peanut butter, avocados, olive and canola oils, and most nuts are mostly monounsaturated fat (fat that can help lower LDL and triglycerides while raising HDL). It's a much healthier choice than saturated fat, found primarily in animal products--meats, butter, full-fat milk and cheese. Saturated fat can elevate your cholesterol level more than anything else you might eat.

Eat More Fiber, Particularly Beans

Fruits & vegetables, including whole grains, are good sources not only of heart-healthy antioxidants but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. Soluble fiber, in particular, can help lower cholesterol. It acts like a sponge to absorb cholesterol in the digestive tract.

Except for your morning wheat bran, no food is more fiber-rich than beans. And beans are especially high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Eating a cup of any type of beans a day-particularly kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea, or butter beans-can lower cholesterol by as much as 10 percent in 6 weeks.

Soluble fiber forms a gel in water that helps bind acids and cholesterol in the intestinal tract, preventing their re-absorption into the body. This may be why soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels (and decreases the risk of heart disease). Soluble fiber is also found in oats and oat bran, barley, brown rice, beans, apples, carrots, and most other fruits and vegetables.

Keep your cupboards stocked with canned beans of all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. You'll always have the makings of a delicious, healthful dinner on hand. Beans add protein and fiber to any dish and can be used in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, veggie chili, or pureed for sandwich spreads. And since they come in cans, beans are handy to use. But remember to rinse canned beans first--they're packed in a high-sodium liquid.

Savor Dark Organic Chocolate

Want to help your heart the next time you indulge in chocolate candy? Choose the dark (at least 70% or more), organic kind. Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than three times as many antioxidants. These flavonoid antioxidants work to keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even help keep your arteries unclogged. Unfortunately, white chocolate has no flavonoids at all. Savor one small square each day, for your health!

Eat Apples

An apple a day keeps the cardiologist away. They serve up a cholesterol-lowering fiber called pectin. Another ingredient in apples, called polyphenols, functions as a strong antioxidant and prompts the liver to clear LDL cholesterol. Eating the apple skin ensures the highest level of antioxidant intake.

Drink Green

Research in both animals and humans has shown that green tea contains compounds that can help lower LDL cholesterol. Green tea is available in a variety of different flavors for you to find one that suits your taste buds!

Eat Garlic

Garlic is a regular chemical factory, with lots of active ingredients that not only lower LDL, but also function as powerful antioxidants and blood thinners. Garlic lowers LDL by dampening the activity of the main cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver. Eating as little as a clove a day has been shown to rev up the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots, which can precipitate a heart attack by sealing off plaque-filled arteries.

Eat Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a wonderful plant source of omega-3 anti-inflammatory fats, a plus in countering the inflammatory disorder atherosclerosis. Two other components of flaxseeds actually target LDL cholesterol: lignan and fiber. Lignans are hormone-like plant chemicals that function as powerful antioxidants and dampen the actions of two key cholesterol-producing enzymes. Be sure to eat only ground flaxseeds, or else their thick coating inhibits digestion. Keep flaxseeds (ground or whole) in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoiling.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking lowers levels of HDL "good" cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

WAIT: Check This Out!!!!

Andrea Beaman just posted a really interesting article on her website called The Cholesterol Myth. It's interesting and definitely worth giving a quick read. She talks about the importance of cholesterol as well as certain factors that may be contributing to high cholesterol levels. I LOVE her!!!!!!

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren