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Monday, April 30, 2012

Impact Of Lifestyle On Health Care Costs

Obama’s presidency brought the issues of health care to the forefront of the American awareness. Health care cost is one of the aspects of the issue that is the most talked about. The rising prices of health insurance premiums, along with the fine print of restrictions, are making it near impossible to make the cut or afford to be healthy. However, a lot of these constraints are our own fault. Complacency and a lack of self-control have driven health care cost up.

Insurance companies consider the severe health risks of issues like stress, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, cholesterol, and adjust their terms accordingly. Expensive health care is the consequence of America’s poor lifestyle choices. The worst of these problems is a lack of exercise and good nutrition that have led to a nationwide epidemic of obesity. Fat and unhealthy individuals dig their own health care cost graves. Many people are too lazy, full of excuses, or simply don’t care.

Consider these staggering statistics: in 1991, there were only four states with obesity rates of more than 15% of the population. Within 21 years, all 50 states had surpassed those percentages, making the U.S. the fattest nation on the globe. The South, with its greasy, all-American, gravy-laden comfort foods is home to the 10 fattest states, which include Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

But if Americans as a whole were to make simple lifestyle changes (to reflect those statistics of 1991), the country would save $1 trillion per year. Some proactive businesses are taking positive steps towards improving the situation with their employee wellness programs that encourage health and fitness.

The incentive is reduced medical insurance premiums that result in more affordable health coverage. Several companies, including Johnson & Johnson, have already seen excellent results and have reduced their morbidity and obesity rates while keeping health care costs level.

Choosing a healthy lifestyle is about more than wanting to look and feel good. Making the effort to finally quit smoking, get to the gym a few times a week, and pass up on McDonald’s for lunch can positively affect your bank account, too. Learning how to slow down in life and employing better coping mechanisms for stress can also improve things like high blood pressure that can affect your health insurance costs.

The solution to the high health care cost is in the public’s hands. The government cannot force people to exercise, improve their nutrition, or practice better stress management. However, these lifestyle changes would improve the health and wellbeing of individuals through exercise and nutrition. Unfortunately, until America collectively rouses from its sugar-induced coma, everyone will continue to suffer from the poor lifestyle choices of the masses.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Juicing For Optimal Health And Weight Loss

There are so many alternatives available to us in our search for maximum health and nutrition. One of the better ways to boost our nutritional intake, while decreasing our calories, is juicing. That's right, a delicious, nutritious, tasty beverage!

Nearly every single nutritionist or health authority recommends we consume six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Does it seem impossible to prepare and eat such a volume? I think for most people it is. However, juicing makes the daunting recommended volume of fruits and vegetables into an easy to manage beverage or two.

There are many advantages to supplementing your diet with juiced fruits and vegetables. Most importantly, juicing allows us to more efficiently absorb all the vitamins and nutrients available in produce. The gears of a juicer break down the cell walls of the plant, and often the juicer will remove indigestible fiber. In effect, the food is slightly pre-digested! This allows us to easily “soak-up” the nutritional benefits without a lot of waste.

In addition, juicing helps us to increase the array of the fruits and vegetables we consume. Often times, we all end up eating the same vegetables over and over again, because it tastes good. This is to the detriment of getting more nutritious yet less flavorful vegetables, such as kale or spinach. With juicing we can easily introduce these vegetables right into a blend of our favorite fruit flavors. All of the nutritional impact, none of the taste!

Your first step is to procure a juicer. Honestly, the most cost effective method for this is to check sites like Craigslist or Ebay for used juicers. Many people have started juicing, and decided it is not the route for them. They are more than happy to sell their machine for a few cents on the dollar of the original purchase price. If you decide to buy a new juicer, I recommend a mid-priced model. Steer clear of the cheaper machines, as they tend to clog and/or break easily.

Next step is... what to juice? It is important to note that you should only use fruits and vegetables that are pesticide free. Your local farmers market could be a great source for fresh, in-season, organic produce. Green leafy vegetables should be the base for most juices, as they are packed with nutrition. Try cabbage, spinach, kale, mustard greens, escarole, or any one of the abundant lettuce varieties available. Add in broccoli, carrots, or any other vegetable that has the nutritional attributes you are seeking. For maximum flavor, add fruits. A few apples, or even grapes, will mask the potentially unpleasant flavors of green leafy vegetables. Lemons and limes add a delicious zesty flavor.

It is best to immediately drink freshly squeezed juice. However, if you choose to juice in the morning for the whole day, store in the refrigerator in a solid color, airtight container to preserve the maximum nutritional value.

While juicing seems like an excellent addition to any diet, there are some people who need to take precautions before implementing it into their diet. Diabetics need to look at the fructose content of the produce they consume, as high levels can send sugar levels skyrocketing. For those with kidney disease, the increased levels of potassium and minerals in fresh juice can build up in the system and cause problems. Individuals undergoing cancer treatment should talk to their doctor about juicing, as the high levels of antioxidants in juice may interfere with chemotherapy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Meat: Not The Villain You Think

There are many people all over the world, who don't eat red meat. Whether it's for religious purposes or just by choice, some people don't eat it. They feel as if it's bad for you, and that it can cause certain ailments such as cancer and diabetes. That is most definitely not always the case. If you don't over-do it, there simply won't be any ill effects on you or your health. When eating any type of meat always remember all things in moderation. Never overindulge on anything, no matter how much you enjoy it.

Red meat is not bad for you if you enjoy it in moderation, it is quite healthy actually. Many studies that have concluded that red meat is bad for you in the past, are now changing up their tunes a little bit. There is no evidence available anywhere that specifically says that red meat is the cause of any one person getting diabetes or any other particular type of ailment. There are many people that have been eating red meat for years, who are the picture of health. As long as you eat fruits and vegetables and have some type of exercise regimen, you will be fine.

But instead of buying the fattier cuts of red meat, purchase the more lean option. And always ask your butcher if the meat is grass fed or organic. Grass fed beef is always the best option when purchasing any type of beef. Though it will cost you a bit more, it's definitely worth it. As the nutritional value is greatly increased.

There are many different companies that just specialize in grass fed cattle and other animals as well. Buying grass fed beef will definitely increase the quality of the meat, along with the leaner cuts as well.

There are also a few ways to know when you are purchasing quality red meat. If you notice that the color is a slight greyish or any color other than red, it could mean the meat was exposed to light which would indicated incorrect curing processes. If the red is a lot more darker than normal, that could be a sign that animal was under stress beforehand. And if you ever have any questions about red meat quality you can always ask the butcher.

You should only be eating a portion of red meat about the size of your fist. One to two times per week, you should be filling your dinner plate with other things the other nights of the week. You should have variations in what you are eating. But always remember everything in moderation.

And the way you are preparing the meat is another factor as well, grilling red meats is a very healthy option. Or using a slow-cooker instead of just frying them all the time. But the way you eat anything depends upon you and your specific likings.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How To Know If You Are Working Out Hard Enough

Are you working out hard enough? This is a question we all ask ourselves when we step on the scales and it doesn’t give us the number we would like to see. When I work out is my intensity level enough to give me the results I want? Should I do more weight training and less cardio? What is metabolic training and am I eating right for my metabolism?

Your workout intensity level is based on your heart rate. These levels vary by your age and the amount of calories you want to burn during your workout. If you are age 20 you will want to have your heart rate at least 100 and not greater than 200. When your heart rate is 100 you burn between 4 and 6 calories per minute and when your heart rate is 180 you burn in excess of 15 calories per minute. If you reach 200 this would be a level that is not easily sustained and it is difficult to calculate exactly how many calories per minute you would burn. For every 5 years older you subtract between 2-3 beats per minute on the minimum end of the spectrum and subtract 5 beats per minute for each 5 years of age on the maximum end. If you keep your levels somewhere in the middle of these two you will burn a huge amount of calories in a short period of time.

How much weight training should I do? Weight training is good for turning that unwanted fat into muscle. So a schedule of every other day would work great to go between aerobic exercise and weight training. This gives you an opportunity to burn unwanted calories and build your muscles at the same time. It also gives your muscles proper time to rest in between. If you are strictly looking to make the scales move aerobic exercise is better because muscle is heavier than fat and therefore helps you lose inches but the pounds to move as fast.

Metabolic training is truly connected to what the intensity level of your exercise is. Metabolic training involves keeping your heart rate up and in the anaerobic zone which for a 20 year old would be between 160-180 beats per minute. If you were 45 that would be 144-162 beats per minute. Reaching this level of exercise is difficult but when you reach it and maintain it you will burn approximately 12-15+ calories per minute. This is the optimum level for your metabolism to be burning those calories. This is very difficult to achieve and maintain but it is worth every minute.

Just remember that it is all about burning more calories than you are taking in. So keep a close eye on that heart rate and you will know exactly what intensity level you need to be working out at.
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