Archive for January, 2013

Probiotics: What They Are, How They Work and What To Eat

Monday, January 28th, 2013

What are ProbioticsAmerica is fat. We all know that. And sure, more exercise and less food typically leads to weight loss. In fact, there are countless diets and workout routines dedicated to getting that swimsuit body. But what if the chemical makeup of our bodies–specifically the levels and types of bacteria and viruses–affects how our bodies metabolize and store fat.

Meet probiotics.

In Greek, probiotic is a compound word: pro, meaning “for” or “in support of”, and biotic, meaning “life”. Probiotics are live bacteria found in food and supplements. These so-called “friendly bacteria” live in the digestive tract of the body, namely the intestines.

Probiotics change your brain, affecting weight loss.

What? Your brain? Yes. Here’s the skinny: if your gut is full of unhealthy bacteria, you will likely have a higher level of stress and anxiety. Higher stress means higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Studies–lots of them–show that life’s inevitable stressful events trigger the release of cortisol into the body, and thus leads to the onset of chronic gastrointestinal disturbances. Elevated cortisol levels (and the ensuing stomach problems) make the body insensitive to insulin.

The American Journal of Physiology conducted a study on cortisol levels, insulin sensitivity, and visceral belly fat in men. The result, in short? Fat men = more cortisol and less insulin sensitivity. They put the overweight men on a high-protein diet, supplemented with probiotics for six months. The health improvements were significant across the board: less belly fat, less total body fat, less cortisol and improved insulin sensitivity.

Here are five foods rich in probiotics.

1. Yogurt – One of the best and most well-known probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt. Be sure to check the label. Look for goat milk yogurt, and avoid yogurts filled with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

2. Kefir - A cousin to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat milk and fermented kefir grains.

3. Sauerkraut – Go ahead and have that reuben sandwich! Typically made from fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but also vitamins B, A, E and C.

4. Dark Chocolate – A healthy dessert? Indeed. It’s not in all of it, but probiotics can be added to high-quality dark chocolate (up to four times the amount of probiotics as other dairy products).

5. Pickles – Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics. There are lots of easy ways to make your own too.

New research concerning probiotics is coming out constantly. Stay informed. Stay healthy. And good luck with probiotics!

Top 10 Fitness Blogs to Bookmark in 2013

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Best Fitness Blogs of 2013You may be one of the millions who made a new year’s fitness resolution. You may be one of the millions who has long made fitness a daily goal. Regardless, the support and solidarity available on the web is more prevalent and relevant than ever. Check out our top 10 fitness blogs to bookmark in 2013.

Fit Bottomed Girls

Fit Bottomed Girls is really four blogs in one. Erin, Jenn, Kristin and Tish offer their unique but like-minded views on fitness, including slice-of-life ‘Workout I Did’ segments, healthy recipes and product reviews. A recent MTV Cribs’-like tour of each woman’s home writing space exemplifies what sets the Fit Bottomed Girls apart. It’s fun and personal–like getting support from a friend.

What’s Beyond Heavy?

Dana McMahan in her own words: “I travel, I eat, I write. And I lift things up and put them down.” How pithy. To elaborate, Dana is a food writer turned powerlifter (until an injury derailed that career) turned world traveler and fitness blogger. If that brief bio doesn’t sell you, consider this: each month Dana is chronicling her commitment to trying and learning a new sport (like kayaking or rock climbing) in an effort to find her new fitness passion.

Fitness Black Book

Rusty Moore, who launched Fitness Black Book in 2007, wants to help you get that lean, sexy, muscular ‘Hollywood’ look. The exercises are plentiful and laser specific in their end goal. This is the ultimate site for summer swimsuit readiness.

Mark’s Daily Apple

This website has a mascot of sorts. His name is Grok. He’s an ancient hunter and gatherer–lean, ripped, agile–the pinnacle of physical vigor. Yes, it’s a little silly, but Grok represents Mark’s fitness philosophy. We can learn from pre-agricultural man how better to eat, exercise, think and live. His posts are always consistent and always informative: “primal living in the modern world.”

Sweat Science

As the name implies, Sweat Science (written by Scott Hutchinson, a former physicist and national-class runner) is about the laboratory finds in the fitness world. You’ll find the latest studies on all topics related to the science of fitness, ranging from neuroscience to nutrition, More importantly, you’ll learn what the science does (and doesn’t) tell us about how to run faster or live longer.

Fit Mom’s Blog

Rachel is a marathon runner, bike racer, and an avid crossfitter–she’s also the mom of two boys. Certainly there are challenges to remaining a fit parent: lack of time, pregnancy weight gain, constant distraction. While, the blog provides appropriate advice in these areas, the niche is that Rachel preaches having a fit family. Tales of family activities abound, including cross country skiing, cycling and even “flying paper airplanes for hours on end”.

Nerd Fitness

The blog looks like a comic book and references Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, video games–pretty much all things nerd. Steve Kamb wants readers, no matter their social predilection, to step away from the computer and make daily progress toward getting in shape.

Well from The New York Times

One of the world’s great news sources provides Well, a full coverage health, wellness and fitness blog from Tara Parker-Pope, a science journalist and author. The fitness section alone features wide ranging posts from “How To Live As Long As An Olympian” to “Why Afternoon May Be The Best Time To Exercise”.

Zen To Fitness

Focused and simple, like the art of Zen, this blog offers weekly fitness posts that take less than five minutes to read. Training blogs are specific, easy to understand and often include videos. Ancillary blogs on nutrition are equally useful. I mean, what’s more Zen than a post entitled “The Importance of Water”?

Bummfuzzled Jane

She’s funny. She’s real. And she’s completely unqualified to write a fitness blog. Meaning, she’s a lot like the rest of us. Her posts are heavy on pontifications and short on specific workout descriptions, but she’s certainly motivational in her rants. She’s also a big fan of those viral ‘postcards’ with a 50’s-esque sketch of a man or a woman and a quippy quote like: “Oh you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support groups for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”

Here’s to hoping a few minutes daily reading one of our favorite blogs will get (or keep) you motivated to be fit and healthy in 2013.

Haglund’s Deformiy

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Ouch-  I have a bump on my Heel!

A Haglund’s Deformity is a bump on the back of the heel in the area  where the Achilles tendon inserts on the  heel.  It can be red, swollen, irritated, and painful.  This region of the heel has two important structures: a bursa or fluid filled sack is present behind the heel bone and next to that is the location where the Achilles tendon attaches on to the heel bone or calcaneus. The bursa is present to reduce pressure in this area of the heel.   Excess friction or pressure caused by  a tight Achilles tendon, rigid shoe backs, ice skates,  or a high arched foot can contribute to this condition.  This is also a common condition in serious runners.

The diagnosis for this condition is often made clinically and with the help of conventional x-rays.  On occasion, MRI may be needed to check the integrity of the Achilles tendon in this area.  Tears at the insertion of the Achilles tendon  on the heel bone can also cause this type of discomfort.

There are many conservative treatments for this condition:  icing, stretchng, anti-inflammatory medications, lifts in the back of the shoe to decrease , pads or cushions to reduce friction (moleskin), physical therapy, orthotic devices to control abnormal motion, and different shoegear.  More complicated cases may require immobilization in a walking boot, or surgical intervention is indicated if all other treatments have failed.

6 Tips to Keep Yourself Alive for Longer!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

We often hear the sayings ‘life is short’ and ‘you only live once’, so why don’t we make the most of what we have been given? We have been given a chance to live a great life, so why not start by improving your lifestyle to ensure you live a life that is longer and more enjoyable than you would expect. Here are 6 tips to keep yourself alive for longer!

- Exercise More

This is an obvious tip whenever anyone mentions improving lifestyle choices. But it is one of the most important and useful tips you can receive. Not only does exercising more keep you physically healthy, it can also keep you mentally healthy; people who exercise more do not stress as much. The great part about exercise is that there is so much choice, so you can choose something you love!

- Stop Smoking

We all know that smoking has terrible health effects, even if you don’t want to admit it. So why put yourself through the risk of horrible illnesses, such as lung or throat cancer? Quitting smoking is not the easiest thing to do; however, it is worth it if you want to live a long and happy life. Within a few weeks of quitting, you will notice great differences, including better breath, whiter teeth and less coughing. Not to mention the other benefits, such as greater life expectancy and more money.

- Limit Alcohol Intake

Many people drink alcohol fairly regularly and people nowadays begin drinking before they are even legal. Many 15, 16 and 17 year olds do go out and drink without being aware of the health risks, but how are they supposed to know the risks when adults don’t either? Many people are unaware of what alcohol can really do; I’m not asking you to stop drinking completely, but limiting your alcohol intake can really improve your health. Alcohol can cause a variety of diseases including heart disease. If you want to stay looking younger, then don’t drink as much.

- Don’t Take Harmful Drugs

There are so many harmful drugs out there that many people seem to be trying out, including cannabis, cocaine and even ecstasy. The people using these harmful drugs are not aware of the risks to their health; they can cause anxiety, paranoia, lung disease, heart problems and so many more things. According to the NHS, cannabis is the drug most used in the UK and around 2.2 million people used cannabis last year.

- Stop Stressing

Stress can increase your blood pressure and even cause depression, so start relaxing and you will notice you are a lot happier. According to the BBC, stress can lead to long-term problems, including heart disease and stroke.

- Eat Healthier

Along with exercise, this is another tip that you would expect to find in an article like this, but again, it is truly important to your health. Stick to a balanced diet and you will really notice the difference! If you do not have a healthy diet, then you are at a higher risk of obesity and diabetes, which can both be fatal, so if you want to live a long life, then you need to be eating healthier.

If you consider the 6 tips above, then you will have a better chance of living a longer and healthier life. Living a healthier life really does allow you to do more and make the most of the time you have. Also, it doesn’t matter how old you are because it is never too late to improve your lifestyle.

 

About the Author: Candy is very health conscious and she loves to write about anything that might help others improve. Live is short and you never know what is going to happen, so preparing a will is very important.

 

Basketball Foot and Ankle Injuries

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

As college basketball moves forward toward March Madness, injuries to the elite college players are more concerning to many basketball programs.  Duke player, Ryan Kelly, suffered a foot injury this week which has him sidelined for an indefinite period of time.  He injured the same foot that he previously had surgery on.  Basketball players are prone to foot and ankle injuries due to the frequent jumping and rapid and speedy movements along the court.  These same type of injuries can happen to any of us that enjoy playing basketball, whether it is a pick up game  or playing in a league.

Before any type of exercise or sport, it is important that you stretch, wear supportive shoes, and have adequate water to remain hydrated during the activity.  If you do injure your foot or ankle during the game, it is important to ice, rest, wrap (ace) your foot or ankle, and elevate.  If the condition does not improve, it is essential that you make a podiatry appointment to make sure that the injury has not caused a fracture/break in a bone or a tear in a ligament of tendon. Conventional x-rays and possibly more advanced imaging may be ordered to determine the extent of the injury.

Dr. Bender is a podiatrist at Advanced Physical Medicine.  She practice at the Oak Park and Chicago/63rd Street locations.  Dr. Bender has been in practice since 2001, and is an instructor at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine.  For an appointment, please call, 708-763-0580.

 

APM…your health hand made

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Quick and Easy Hotel Room Workout

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Often, travelling for work (or play) means skipping your exercise routine altogether. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can continue to stay fit and healthy with a simple daily workout right in your hotel room. No gym, no equipment needed. You can even turn the TV on and enjoy a favorite show while you sweat! Try it out next time you’re on the road.

1. Warm Up – Jumpin’ Jacks (or Jills)

Good ol’ fashioned jumpin’ jacks. Embrace your inner grade-schooler and do 50 of them to get the heart pumping.

2. Incline Bed Push Ups

Next, head over to the bed. Put your hands on the edge of the bed, shoulder width apart, arms extended and feet kicked out behind you. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the bed. Then slowly push back up. Repeat 10 times, take a break, then do 2 more sets of 10.

3. Chair Tricep Dips

Now grab the chair from the hotel room desk and put it in the middle of the room. Facing away from the chair, using your arms behind you, balance yourself on the end of the chair. Kick your feet out, and start the dips. Lower yourself down until your arms are at about a 90 degree angle (the top half of your arm should be parallel to the floor), then push yourself slowly back up until your arms are straight. Do 3 sets of 10.

4. Across the Room Lunges

Find two things that are slightly heavy. Water bottles or small bags are perfect. Even the Gideon Bible and a phone book works. Take one ‘weight’ in each hand and let your arms dangle at your side. Starting with your right foot take a large step forward, lowering your left knee until it almost hits the ground. Slowly come back up and take a large step forward with your left foot, repeating the lowering motion. Start at one end of the room and ‘lunge’ step-by-step to the other end. Turn around and head back. Depending how big the hotel room is, you’ll have to make a few trips. Do about 3 minutes worth.

5. Reverse Pillow Crunches

Let’s hit those abs! Grab the thinnest pillow from your hotel bed, and lay flat on the floor with your arms beside you palms down. Tuck the pillow right under the small of your back. Now bend your knees and lift your legs up and toward your head until your derriere comes up slightly of the ground. Your knees will be close to directly above your head. Lower your legs back down, but not all the way to the floor. You want to keep those ab muscles constantly engaged. Do 30 repetitions. Or, if you’re up for it, even more.

6. Decline Bed Push Ups

Remember the incline push ups? Simply flip around, with your hands on the floor and your feet on the bed, and do it again. 3 sets of 10. This one is going to get tough, especially at the end of the workout. Do your best, and keep looking to improve if you can’t finish.

Finish up with some basic stretching, and enjoy the rest of your day. You’ll be back home soon, healthier and happier.