HEALTH - What you think can make you healthy. Or not.
When it comes to what you think about your body it turns out that the more weight you want to lose, (even if you're not overweight in the first place), the more mentally and physically unhealthy days you have every month.
BMI, or actual weight, doesn't have that much to do with it, researchers at Columbia University found, but the desire to lose weight does affect how healthy you are.
It's likely that distorted ideas about what an ideal weight is lead to stress, and that stress precipitates bad-health days.
And distorted ideas are common, especially in women. Only 41 per cent of normal-weight people say they are happy with their weight (only 20 per cent of overweight and 5 per cent of obese people do).
If you want an objective view of your body, don't rely on only your eyes. Instead, focus on how you feel. Use your eating habits, exercise patterns and other lifestyle choices to help you feel strong and energized.
Not working? Try strength training. In one study, women felt more confident after a 12-week weight-training program even if they gained weight during it.
Speaking of brain power: There's a new bonus to good blood sugar control: better recall. It turns out that dysfunctional insulin, a problem that allows blood sugar to get out of control, not only is bad for your organs and arteries, but might also keep you from remembering the name of your prom date, what month it is or who's the latest American Idol winner. One piece of evidence: Men who had low insulin levels at age 50 had a greater risk of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia later in life. It's not clear yet how impaired insulin response bumps up Alzheimer's risk. But it is clear that the less insulin in the brain, the more it develops the hallmarks of that disease. In fact, researchers at Brown University refer to this low brain insulin problem, and the brain changes it's associated with, as "type 3 diabetes."
While researchers haven't yet shown how to prevent type 3 diabetes, it's smart to do what you can to control your blood sugar. Brand-new research found that a low-carb diet (less than 20 g of carbs per day) is better at controlling blood sugar than a low glycemic index (GI) diet.
Boost your blood sugar (Safely): This is one wrinkle you want in your morning oatmeal: dried plums. Adding them to your hot cereal may have huge advantages for your heart. A good source of fibre, what makes them such a great addition to your morning meal is that they're also chock full of polyphenols. These are the compounds that have a reputation for stopping plaque ruptures that could lead to a heart attack or stroke and their sugars appear to be safe for blood-sugar watchers.
From the heart: You don't have to eat raw fish or hard-to-find vegetables to keep your heart healthy. Simply stock up on these common, and delicious, foods:
Red Delicious apples: These are particularly rich in compounds called phenolics that make those blood fats more stable, so they're less likely to oxidize, stick to the walls of your arteries, and cause a dangerous blockage.
Sesame seeds: Women who took a little more than 3 tablespoons of sesame seed powder daily for five days reduced their total and bad (LDL) cholesterol.
They also had higher levels of heart-protective vitamin E and lower blood levels of substances linked to cell damage.
Walnuts: Studies have found that an ounce of these nuts a day decreases the incidence of heart disease a whopping 60 per cent. Walnuts are highest in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce triglycerides, stabilize your heartbeat, make platelets less sticky and may knock down blood pressure.
Salmon, catfish, flounder: Fatty fish like these are high in heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids (and low in mercury and PCBs).
Beans: Fibre-rich beans may help reduce levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of heart disease risk. Black beans, with 7 grams of fibre per half cup, are an easy way to fill your fibre quota (25 grams a day).
Fight Fat: Sometimes turning a scrumptious meal into a health- and weight-friendly superstar is just a matter of making a few changes:
Concentrate sauces. Let the excess water boil off. This enhances the flavour without additives like fat, salt or sugar.
Choose applesauce, prunes and bananas instead of butter and shortening in your favourite baking recipes. This improves heart health, since it takes away fat (but leaves in moisture).
Use the right tools: A blender can purée vegetables so you use less or no cream in soups and sauces.
Non-stick pans and grills allow you to cook with less oil.
Parchment paper is a terrific alternative to greasing a pan.
Freeze your herbs. Buy fresh and freeze the rest if you can't buy small quantities. Another solution: Grow your own.
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