When you combine daily stress with delicious holiday food and no time for exercise, you’ve got the perfect recipe for belly fat. That extra weight around the middle does more than make your pants too tight; it can also cause some serious health problems. Belly fat has been linked to chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. It is also thought to release harmful chemicals that can wreak havoc on your appetite and disrupt the way your body metabolizes food. Ready to starting fighting back against that belly bulge? These five foods can help.
Yogurt Whether you go for Greek or the regular variety, yogurt is great go-to for busting belly fat. Look for varieties with “live and active cultures” – good bacteria that can improve the health of your colon and boost your immune system. Yogurt is also packed with protein, which helps to keep you full, and vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium, another weight-loss booster. Studies have also shown that dieters who ate three yogurts a day lost 81% more belly fat that those who didn’t. Check out more reasons to starting fighting belly fat from integrative medicine specialist Mark Liponis, MD.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year are full of holiday parties, decadent foods (pumpkin cheesecake! Aunt Lou’s oyster stuffing!) and, yes, stress – all of which can spell trouble if you have diabetes or prediabetes. But it’s possible to have a great time this season and stay healthy, too. These five tips for surviving the holidays will take you all the way into January (and beyond).
1. Stress less. Managing your stress is one of the best things you can do for your health this holiday season – especially if you have diabetes. According to Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, elevated stress levels can cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association echoes this and adds that excessive stress can cause negative emotions, keep you from thinking clearly (which can translate into forgetting to check your blood sugar) and lead to bad food choices. Check out this video from endocrinologist Reza Yavari, MD, for smart ways to reduce your stress.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Yet surprisingly, nearly one in every five adults smokes. The good news: The health benefits start just moments after you quit. In honor of the Great American Smokeout, this month, we’re sharing five surprising strategies that may help you or a loved one kick the habit for good.
1. Drink your milk Milk doesn’t just do your body good; it may also help you quit smoking. According to one study from Duke University, smokers reported that drinking milk worsened the taste of cigarettes, making them less likely to want to light up. On the other hand, the study found that alcohol and coffee enhanced the taste of cigarettes. Watch this video of addiction specialist Mike Dow, PsyD to discover foods that may also help you kick the habit.
Fall is in full swing, which means that in addition to pulling out our sweaters and raking up (or jumping into) huge piles of deep crunchy leaves, it’s time to load up our plates with some of the most delicious – and nutrient packed – foods of the year. This season’s foods come packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, skin-nourishing vitamins and stress reducing compounds that nourish our bodies as well as our souls. So before you head out to the grocery store, check out our top 5 foods and our favorite ways to use them.
1. Pomegranates With its deep red color, it’s a shame that this super-fruit isn’t included with the likes of sweet potatoes and pumpkins as a great fall food staple. Pomegranates not only fight inflammation and help slow tumor growth; the juice is also great for your heart. Drinking just 10 ounces a day can lower high blood pressure and triglyceride levels and raise your heart-protective HDL cholesterol numbers. It’s also much lower in sugar than apple and orange juices, so it’s a great option for kids at the dinner table. Interested in how the dark red fruit can also help you fight off fat storage? Check out the video below from Sharecare expert Joel Fuhrman, MD.
Got a pumpkin out on your porch this fall? Try it on your plate instead. Everyone’s favorite squash has incredible health benefits, like boosting your immune system, preventing lung and prostate cancer, and even fighting wrinkles. Read on for some simple – and delicious – ways to get your pumpkin fix. And that pumpkin on your porch? Use it in this fun workout.
1. Toast the seeds Toasting pumpkin seeds is as easy as pie. Just remove the pulp and strings and rinse. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt and bake at 325° F for about 30 minutes, or until lightly toasted. If you want to do something a bit more creative, use the seeds in homemade granola or mash the seeds into a crust for tuna tostadas. Pumpkin seeds don’t just taste good; they’re loaded with all sorts of benefits. Watch this video with registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth to learn more.
2. Throw a crust under it Think pumpkin pie isn’t healthy? Try this recipe, which uses silken tofu to cut the saturated fat and features a whole-wheat crust. Bonus: One study found that the scent of pumpkin pie acts as an aphrodisiac for men. Don’t forget, the best pumpkin for cooking is a “sugar pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin” according to the American Diabetes Association. Their flesh is sweeter and less watery than that of larger pumpkins. Want all the flavors of pumpkin pie without the carbs? Cook up this pumpkin spice custard.
3. Include pumpkin in your morning meal Add two tablespoons of 100% pure pumpkin to your morning bowl of oatmeal and you’ll be well on your way to staying healthy this winter. Most of us can’t bother with scraping and chopping fresh pumpkin, but here’s the good news: Canned pumpkin has more fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, iron and folate than fresh. It’s great in smoothies, too.
5. Wear it Pumpkin is rich in key nutrients that help keep your skin healthy and wrinkle free. So why not use it in a homemade face wash? Mix one can of mashed pumpkin and one tablespoon of flax seed oil together. Apply in gentle circular strokes on your face and neck. Rinse off with warm water and moisturize.
Daylight Savings Time ends November 3, and who doesn’t love the extra hour of sleep we’ll get? But the shorter, darker days ahead mean you could be at risk for not getting enough vitamin D, especially if you live above 40 degrees latitude (roughly north of an imaginary line between Los Angeles and Atlanta), where the winter sun isn’t strong enough to synthesize vitamin D. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of people are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. That’s a problem, because not having enough D can up your risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, depression and even cancer. So, unless you make like a snowbird and head south, what’s a person to do? Try these top ways to get your D.
Scary decorations, pumpkins on doorsteps and incredible candy sales at the grocery store can only mean one thing: It’s Halloween time! But this ghoulish holiday isn’t just fun and games. It also has a dark side: Weight gain (yes, even for kids),dental problems and potential injuries. So in the spirit of Halloween we’re sharing our top tips for keeping your little monsters (and other trick-or-treaters) safe and healthy, while still having a spooktacular time.
1. Don’t shop for so much sugar. While you might feel guilty handing out fistfuls of sugar-covered fat, bypassing the candy aisle for trail mix and pencil erasers could lead to major trick-or-treat disappointment. The solution? Pass out these 8 healthy and delicious Halloween options instead. Or whip up these healthy black magic banana cupcakes. Check out this video from Hungry Girl author Lisa Lillien for even more healthy alternatives.
For many parents, the most challenging thing about school isn’t picking up the kids from soccer practice or making sure they get their homework done. It’s packing all those school lunches. Why bother? Because many school cafeterias still serve meals that are loaded with fat and sugar (though they are getting better). Instead of stressing out about what to feed your kid this week, follow these expert tips for packing the perfect school lunch. (And don’t forget to give yourself a break: it’s OK to send lunch money now and then.)
1. Think outside the (lunch) box. Don’t get caught in the lunch box grind. There’s no reason a school lunch has to be dull or unappetizing. Make lunch fun by mixing things up. Cut up sandwiches made with whole-grain bread into fun shapes, or make deli meat pinwheels by wrapping meat and cheese together. Keep it fun with this recipe for peanut butter, banana and cranberry sushi. Watch this video with registered dietitian Samantha Heller for more yummy tips.
A whopping 80% to 90% of the population experience back pain at some point in life, according to the American Chiropractic Association. And it’s not just adults – kids suffer, too. (Think about those heavy backpacks.) Instead of letting back pain cramp your style or force you to take unwanted vacation days, try these tips to send your back pain packing.
1. Do the right moves.
Everyone can benefit from exercise, but if you want to relieve – or prevent – back pain, a little sweat might be the best medicine. Back pain is more likely to return if your spine-supporting muscles in the back and stomach have become weak from injury or inactivity, or if you have tight hamstrings. Certain stretching and strengthening exercises can help reduce pain by providing more balance around the spine and building strength and flexibility. Yoga, band workouts and low-impact activities such as water aerobics and water walking are also great options. But make sure you check with your doctor before trying any new form of exercise. Watch the video with physical therapist Peggy Brill to find out why stretching is so vital for back pain relief.