How food choices influence your health

You can influence your DNA with healthy food choices

Have you heard of epigenetics? It's a new science that challenges the idea that your DNA will determine your fate.

This is great news, because it means eating well and living a healthy lifestyle is worth the effort! In her article, "Epigenetics and Food," author Teri Mosey explains how scientists now recognize that nutrients in the foods you eat affect how the genes in your body express themselves. Phytonutrients in vegetables, for example, can promote better health and keep disease at bay by either activating the genes in your body or influencing them to remain dormant.

Here's how it works: the glucosinolate in the kale you eat interrupts cancer cell growth. The zinc and manganese in the mushrooms you topped on your salad stimulate your immune system. The curcumin in the turmeric in your curry sauce inhibits inflammation in your body.

You get the idea, right?  Experts recommend eating a colorful diet to ensure your body benefits from the array of phytonutrients found in plant-based foods. You don't have to know about all the different phytonutrients, just fill your grocery cart with colorful foods, and try not to get into a food rut. Experiment and enjoy seasonal foods to make sure you expose yourself to all the healthy nutrients you can.


Regular exercise benefits asthmatics

Does asthma keep you from engaging in physical activity? If so, you may want to rethink your approach to exercise.

A new study, published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research, demonstrates that regularly engaging in 30 minutes of physical activity reduces asthmatic symptoms. Those who regularly exercise, wrote researchers, have 2.5 times more control over their asthma than those who do not exercise at all.

Need an additional reason to stay consistent with your exercise goals in 2016? The researchers stressed the importance of consistent activity throughout the year to control symptoms.


Spicy foods may help you live longer

Spicy foods reduce mortality
Load on the chili peppers!

Researchers, whose study was published in the British Medical Journal, say eating spicy foods can increase your chances of living longer, by 14%!

Eating spicy foods regularly, they say, decreases the chances you may die from heart disease, respiratory disease, or cancer.


Spicy foods have bioactive properties that decrease appetite, perhaps reducing the risk of obesity. Ingesting them has been linked to a lower incidence of cancer. Spices even have antibacterial properties which may reduce the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease.

Want some culinary inspiration? Check out Eating Well's spicy soups, stews, and roasts, or take a look at Chili Pepper Madness, a site dedicated to spicy foods.


How much exercise do you really need?

Overall physical activity can be done in chunks throughout the day
Remember that morning you spent digging up hosta?
I have good news: it counts toward your overall, daily physical activity.

You already know exercise is good for your health. Regular activity keeps your mind calm, wards off disease, and give you energy to get through your day.

But how often and how long do you have to log sweat sessions to maintain these health benefits?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 150 minutes of moderate level activity each week will do it. This activity can be broken down however it works into your schedule, too. This means running the stairs in your office several times over the course of the day is just as effective as a longer workout on the treadmill.

The Department also stresses a focus on physical activity as opposed to exercise. A gym or a track, then, aren't the only places to get fit and in shape. All you have to do is find a household chore to begin logging your activity! You can count shoveling snow, vacuuming, picking up toys, and scrubbing down the bathrooms when you log your activity for the week. That makes chores a little more appealing, don't you think?


Christmas gift ideas for athletic women

Learn how to wrap beautifully! Image Source: One Good Thing by Jillee

Christmas is right around the corner. If you're still searching for the perfect gift for the athletic woman in your life, I've got a few ideas for you:

  1. Rodan + Fields Eye Cloths: A busy gal may have to fit exercise in at odd times, and chances are she doesn't have the time to start over with her make-up mid-day. These Eye Cloths can be thrown into a gym bag and grabbed post-workout, a perfect way to freshen up, deliver a glow to the skin, and get her back to her busy schedule. (Full disclosure: I sell Rodan + Fields products, because they are absolutely the best. Try them out!)
  2. Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo: Believe me, I've tried them all, and this is the best dry shampoo out there. She'll relish the extra minutes she has to sleep in the morning, making you a Christmas hero.
  3. Gift Certificate to your local Blow Dry Bar: Treat her to a luxurious hour of pampering at a blow dry bar. For extra bonus points, book reservations at her favorite restaurant so she can show off her new style after she's done. 
  4. iTunes Card: If she likes to exercise to a beat, get her a card so she can purchase the music that will get her groove on. Pair it with some great headphones to sweeten the gift.
  5. Lulu ear warmer: If she exercises outside, these are a must. These reversible ear warmers are warm, stylish, and practical. (There's a peekaboo hole in the back for your pony tail to fit through!) They are also thin enough to fit under a helmet or a hood.
  6. Penzey's Gift Box: People who watch their weight know that seasoning with herbs is one of the best ways to add flavor to food without adding a lot of fat and calories. Choose a gift box that will allow her to experiment in the kitchen, guilt-free!
  7. Spa Finder Card: A Spa Finder card is a great gift for the gal who seems to have everything. She can search participating spas and book massages, facials, yoga sessions, Pilates sessions and more.
  8. Subscription to Kate Hudson's clothing line, Fabletics: This is the perfect gift for the fashionista who has decided Lulu is a little ho-hum. She'll answer questions about her workout preferences and style, and then she'll receive a new outfit, delivered to her home, each month. She can decide to keep or return.
  9. Vegetti Spiral: She'll love this kitchen gadget, which allows her to transform vegetables into yummy noodles. The recipe ideas will give her loads of new cooking options.
  10. A bike: If she's looking to get more activity within her daily schedule, a bike may be the perfect gift! Make sure you include a basket for shopping items and good reflective clothing to keep her safe.


The secret to core strength

Why does Pilates promote good lumbar stabilization?

According to researchers the answer lies in the deep core muscles. In their study, published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitaion, they evaluated activation of both surface and deep muscles. Among those who practiced Pilates, the deep muscles strength (transverses abdominis and internal obliques) was stronger.

Here's why: Pilates instructors coach participants to contract the deep stabilizers while performing most postures. This leads to thicker, stronger muscles, and better stabilization for the lumbar spine.

So, if you are practicing Pilates, focus on your exhale, and contracting those deep core muscles while moving in and out of exercises. If you don't practice Pilates, consider a few sessions with a certified instructor. Just a few tips can help you learn how to activate your core muscles while doing just about any strength training move at the gym.


Which fitness trackers are most accurate?

Some fitness trackers are more accurate than others
If you are contemplating gifting a fitness tracker to a friend of family member this holiday season, you may be wondering which devices are the most accurate.

Researchers, whose study was published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise have the answer. They studied the accuracy of the most popular wrist devices now on the market: the FitBit Flex, Nike+ Fuel Band SE, Jawbone UP24, Polar Loop, and MisFit Shine.

Which came out on top? With an error rate of below 20%, the FitBit Flex, Jawbone UP 24 and Nike+ Fuel Band SE were the winners. All three did a good job of monitoring cardiovascular activity and caloric expenditure during sedentary activity. The researchers cautioned, however, that none of the devices were particularly good at monitoring strength training activity. Let's hope that gets worked out for the next generation of trackers.
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