Eat Smart! Healthy eating and breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This pink ribbon effort puts the focus on education and fundraising events to find a cure.

Breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in women according to the CDC. No food can prevent you from getting breast cancer, but a healthy diet can boost your immune system and help keep your risk as low as possible. Some research studies have focused on food and its relationship to breast cancer. Here are a few findings.

Alcohol: Women drinking five or more drinks a week were linked to a higher risk of breast cancer than those who don’t drink, according to an American Cancer Society study. They recommend not drinking alcohol if you are in a high risk cancer group.

Antioxidants: Study after study suggests antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may lower risk of cancers, including breast cancer.

Weight gain: Women who gain between 21 to 30 pounds after age 18 have a 40 percent increase in risk of breast cancer, even if they were not at a perfect weight when younger. The reason is tied to the rise of overall body fat which results in increased insulin and estrogen levels, both of which have been linked to breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends an overall healthy diet of fruits and vegetables (five or more servings a day), whole grains and limited amounts of processed and red meats. And, of course, exercise. Check last Monday’s Move Smart! for more information about how walking can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

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Move Smart! Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon

Walking is a great way to get healthy and stay healthy, and it may reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer or its recurrence. Walking can also help control your weight, which has been linked to breast cancer.

Researchers from Washington University and Harvard University evaluated nearly 65,000 women who filled out questionnaires on their level of physical activity at various periods of their lives, starting from age 12. Women whose activity was equivalent to 3.25 hours a week of running or 13 hours a week of walking had a 23 percent reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those who had been less active.

“It did not seem to matter much what the activity was; the differences between strenuous, moderate, and walking activities were not statistically significant. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to get the risk-reducing effects of exercise,” commented Dr. Graham Colditz of Harvard.

In another study, breast cancer survivors who exercised at least three to five hours a week reduced their risk of recurrence or death from breast cancer by 40 percent compared to those who were inactive.

Weight also has been found to be a risk factor. Women who gain between 21 to 30 pounds after 18 have a 40 percent increase in risk of breast cancer even if she wasn’t a perfect weight when she was younger, an American Cancer Society study found. The reason is tied to the rise of overall body fat which results in increased insulin and estrogen levels, both of which have been linked to breast cancer.

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Simple Swaps to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Simple Swaps to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

In 2015, the World Health Organization strongly recommended that both adults and children should reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy.

Free sugars includes monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

So where to start? Modern packaged food is packed with sugar in such staggering levels that the dietary-minded must become label sleuths to avoid it. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty easy; and thankfully, it doesn’t always mean eating an apple instead of a cookie. The following are great examples of where you can start cutting sugar … without giving up too much.

1. Eat applesauce instead of applesauce
What? Well, more specifically, eat unsweetened applesauce instead of regular applesauce. A single serving cup of Mott’s Applesauce delivers 22 grams of sugar; a single serving cup of Mott’s Applesauce Natural Applesauce (unsweetened) has only 11 grams — and seriously, you may not even notice a difference in taste.

2. Eat grown-up cereal instead of kids’ cereal
You wouldn’t eat a Twinkie for breakfast, would you? Well you might as well if you’re eating one of the uber-sweetened cereal brands on the supermarket shelf. Case in point: Post Golden Crisp cereal rings in at 14 grams of sugar per three-fourths of a cup, while a full cup of Cheerios has a barely-noticeable one gram of sugar.

3. Drink coconut water instead of Gatorade
If you are an endurance athlete running marathons and such, your muscles will appreciate the carbohydrates from the sugar in Gatorade and other performance drinks. But if you’re not running 26.2 miles in a stretch, do yourself a favor and shun the sugary drinks. Twenty ounces or Gatorade Orange will set you back 34 grams of sugar, while 17 ounces of Vita Coco coconut water has 22 grams; and coconut water offers the sodium and potassium that other sports drink promise … without the sludge of artificial ingredients.

4. Eat Graham crackers instead of Oreos.
Oreos may be milk’s favorite cookie, but they are crammed with sugar. Two Double Stuff Oreos supply 13 grams of sugar; meanwhile, two sheets of Graham crackers provide only eight grams. And while we’re on the subject of cookies, remember that you can control the amount of sugar you use when making them at home, like, if you were thinking of trying homemade versions of Girl Scout cookies or something.

5. Use all-fruit spread instead of jam.
Have you tried a fruit spread before? A product like Polaner All Fruit is so sweet and fruity it’s confounding why anyone would opt for a product that has more sweetener than fruit. And as for sugar? One tablespoon of Polaner All Fruit Strawberry contains six grams of sugar; one tablespoon of  Smucker’s Strawberry Jam gives you 12 grams.

6. Eat fresh pasta sauce instead of commercial tomato sauce.
Beware the surprising sugar bomb that is commercial pasta sauce. Popular brands of tomato sauce in a jar can pummel an eater with up to 11 grams of sugar (and more) for a half-cup serving.  If you want tomato, a much better bet is to dice half a cup of fresh tomatoes, toss them with olive oil, garlic and fresh basil, and add to hot pasta for a delicious uncooked pasta sauce … and less than 3 grams of natural sugar. Otherwise, there are endless recipes for homemade pasta sauces, sans sugar, that you can make yourself.

7. Eat a chocolate bar instead of a nutrition bar.
Nine out of 10 people would reach for a nutrition bar over a chocolate bar when trying to make the healthy choice … but no, step away from the PowerBar. Some nutrition bars sneak up to 32 grams of sugar into a serving, while an earnest chocolate bar, like Equal Exchange’s Organic Ecuador Dark Chocolate Bar has a mere 12 grams of sugar. (For the worst of the bunch, read 7 nutrition bars that are worse than candy.)

Do you have other need-to-know sugar swaps? Tell us in the comments below!

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Eat Smart! Every Meal Counts Infographic

Every Meal Counts

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Move! Is it time to replace your walking shoes?

Replace worn shoes

Walking can be done with almost any kind of comfortable footwear. If you’re wearing running shoes, over time, they can start to wear down, A good, comfortable pair of shoes can make your walking routine more enjoyable. They can relieve stress on your feet, legs and joints.

Your shoes may need to be replaced when they are no longer comfortable, the tread is worn or you start having pain. Over time your shoes begin to lose cushioning and stability, which results in more stress on your feet and legs and increases risk of injury. You can replace inside cushions with shoe inserts if the rest of the shoe is in good shape.

Have two pairs of shoes, if possible. Rotating them daily will allow them to air out and last longer. And when you notice a difference between the two, like aches and pains in your bones or joints with one pair over the over, you will know it is time to replace that pair.

When shopping for a new pair of shoes, take advantage of the trained sales staff the shoe store and learn what style and brand works for you. Let the sales person know what type of walking you do — outdoor, indoor track, treadmill, mall walking, etc. — so they can recommend a style that will fit your needs.

Shoe fitting tips

  • Try on new shoes after you have been on your feet a while. Feet tend to swell during the day
  • Wear the type of socks you will be wearing with the shoes
  • Walk around the store; see how the shoes feel on both hard and carpeted surfaces.
  • The shoes should fit snuggly and your foot should not slide from side to side.
  • They should not slip at the heel.
  • They should have plenty of cushioning.
  • They should bend easily at the ball of your feet (just behind your toes).
  • They should not have to be broken in.
  • Let fit and comfort be your ultimate guide.

The success of your walking wellness plan can depend on having a comfortable pair of shoes.. Take the time to find the right ones. Your feet will love you for it.

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