A Fat Belly is Bad for Your Heart Even You are Not Overweight

 

Belly fat, even in people who are not otherwise overweight, is bad for the heart, according to results from the Mayo Clinic presented today at EuroPrevent 2018, a European Society of Cardiology congress.1

“See your doctor if your waist is bigger than your hips,” said study author Dr Jose Medina-Inojosa, from the division of Preventive Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and The International Clinical Research Centre of St. Anne’s University Hospital (FNUSA-ICRC), Brno, Czech Republic.

Body mass index (BMI), which is weight relative to height in kg/m2, is used to categorise adults as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. However, BMI does not account for the amount and distribution of fat and muscle.

Central obesity is a store of excess fat around the middle of the body and is a marker of abnormal fat distribution. This study tested the hypothesis that people with normal weight and central obesity would have more heart problems than people with normal weight and normal fat distribution.

In 1997 to 2000 the study enrolled 1,692 residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, aged 45 years or older. The sample was representative of the county population for age and sex. Participants underwent a clinical examination and measurements were taken of weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference. Central obesity was defined as a ratio dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference of 0.90 or above for men and 0.85 or above for women.

Patients were followed-up from 2000 to 2016 for the occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) using linked medical records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. MACE was defined as heart attack, surgical or percutaneous coronary revascularisation to open blocked arteries, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes.

Participants with a normal BMI (18.5–24.9 kg/m2) and central obesity had an approximately two-fold higher long-term risk of MACE compared to participants without central obesity, regardless of their BMI.

Dr Medina-Inojosa said: “People with a normal weight but a fat belly have more chance of heart problems than people without a fat belly, even if they are obese according to BMI. This body shape indicates a sedentary lifestyle, low muscle mass, and eating too many refined carbohydrates.”

“The belly is usually the first place we deposit fat, so people classified as overweight BMI but without a fat belly probably have more muscle which is good for health,” he continued. “Muscle is like a metabolic storehouse and helps decrease lipid and sugar levels in the blood.”

Participants with a normal BMI and central obesity also had a higher risk of MACE than overweight and obese participants with central obesity. Dr Medina-Inojosa said that overweight and obese people with central obesity might also have more muscle mass which could be protective.

He said: “If you have fat around your belly and it’s greater than the size of your hips, visit your doctor to assess your cardiovascular health and fat distribution. If you have central obesity the target will be waist loss rather than weight loss. Exercise more, decrease sedentary time by taking the stairs or getting off the train one stop early and walking, increase your muscle mass with strength and resistance training, and cut out refined carbohydrates.”

Dr Medina-Inojosa said it was important for doctors not to assume that people with a normal BMI are not at risk of heart problems or that their fat distribution is normal. He said: “Our study provides evidence that doctors should also measure central obesity to get a better picture of whether a patient is at risk.”

Source: European Society of Cardiology

Superfood chicken or vegan Guyanese dhal (lentil soup)that eats like a meal

  • Makes: 6 servings
  • Total time: 40 minutes, cook time: 30 minutes, prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients for the base

Red lentils

  • 6-8 cups of water
  • For those who don’t want vegan, use 3 boneless chicken breasts, chopped or sliced, or whatever chicken you have in your fridge
  • 1.5 cups of red or yellow lentils
  • 1-2 cups of chopped spinach or kale
  • 1-2 cups of chopped broccoli or cauliflower
  • 1.5 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tomato
  • Salt to your taste
  • Optional: 1-3 habanero, wiri-wiri or chili peppers, omit the pepper if you don’t want it spicy. I use 3 habanero peppers because they’re hotter.

Additional optional ingredients

I’ve used a cup of leftover rice, asparagus, leftover chicken from a restaurant, whatever I need to finish in the fridge. It’s’ hard for me to include these in the recipe because it changes every week. So go crazy with your favorite ingredients!

Directions

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  1. If using chicken that’s not a leftover: Use 1 teaspoon of the curry powder, salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon each of the turmeric and cumin to marinate it in a baking dish and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Rinse the lentils and set them aside.
  3. Chop the onion, garlic, tomato and peppers.
  4. Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil (can be done at the same time you are doing the above steps).
  5. Add the lentils, onion, garlic, tomato, peppers and olive oil to boiling water.
  6. Add spices and salt
  7. Turn the heat down to medium-high and boil lentils for 20 minutes.
  8. If using chicken: Put it in the oven to cook for 15 minutes or until cooked while the lentils are boiling. If your chicken is already cooked add it in during the next step to warm it up.
  9. Blend the soup with hand blender to achieve a smooth texture or partially smooth (I find it blends the flavors together better).  Return to a low boil and add the spinach and your other ingredients, including chicken if using it, for another 10 minutes.

lentils blending

I let it cool down for five minutes before I eat it.

Chicken: Approximate nutritional information for 1 serving (Based on brands and amounts used in the recipe)

dhal amped up
Dhal with chicken, rice and other other ingredients

Note: Your nutritional value may differ depending on what you use. When I’m eating it, I usually have 1.5 servings or 1 I’ve thrown rice in it.

  • Calories: 301 g
  • Fat: 9.2 g
  • Carbs: 20 g
  • Protein: 34 g

Vegan: Approximate nutritional information for 1 serving (Based on brands and amounts used in the recipe)

Dhal
Vegan version without rice

Note: Your nutritional value may differ depending on what you use. When I’m eating the vegan version for dinner I usually have 3 servings, or 1.5 if I’ve thrown rice in it.

  • Calories: 152 g
  • Fat: 6.2 g
  • Carbs: 20 g
  • Protein:  8 g

Dealing With Stress

Not all stress is bad. We all go through it at different points. Things such as getting fired from a job or a death in the family will cause stress.  But even positive things, such as a promotion, new relationship or new baby, can cause stress. The key is to make sure you balance out stressful times with times to relax.  When you go through one stressful period after another, it can affect your physical and mental health.

Below are lists of some common symptoms of too much stress. See if you’ve experienced any of these in the past month.

Physical changes

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Change in bowel function, either constipation or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Change in appetite, eating less or more than you normally would
  • Headache, backache or chest pain
  • Numbness anywhere in your body
  • Muscle spasms, tremors felt in any muscle in the body

Emotional changes

  • Moodiness
  • Difficulty controlling your temper
  • Irritability, anxiety or depression
  • A noticeable negative attitude (either you have noticed, or others have told you)
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • Poor concentration
  • Little things have started bothering you that didn’t bother you before
  • Crying frequently

What it means

  • If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, try some stress reduction techniques, such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing or relaxation.
  • If you feel you’ve experienced half or more of them, consider asking a healthcare professional to help you identify and deal with your stress.

Some ways to deal with it

If you prefer to deal with stressful or crisis situations head on:

 

Try taking an active approach to managing your stress.

  • Write down your worries as they come up and then put them away. At an appropriate time, allow yourself thirty minutes to an hour to go over your worries and find solutions.
  • Some signs of stress that you may experience include nervousness, butterflies in the stomach or tense muscles. Exercise can help you relieve your tension.
  • Focus on exercise that requires your concentration, such as playing a sport rather than running or doing some meditation. Running or meditation will give you too much time to think about your problems while you are doing them instead of relaxing your mind during that time.

If you prefer to ignore stressful or crisis situations:

 

Blue Lagoon, Iceland entrance
Water therapies are good stress relievers. The Blue Lagoon in Iceland

You may not be fully aware of your body’s reaction to stress if you avoid problems.

  • You may need special help in recognizing your body’s reaction to stress. For example, biofeedback therapy helps train people to control muscle tension, blood pressure or heart rate.
  • You may also need the help of a therapist or support group if a crisis comes along that you can’t ignore, such as the death of someone close to you or job loss.
  • Meditation, reading, yoga, deep-breathing or taking a hot bath are effective stress reducers for you.
  • Exercises such as running or swimming are also excellent ways to reduce stress.

These are just some ideas. What are some of the ways you use to deal with stress?

Apple Spinach Smoothie Bowl

Personally, I’m a fan of apples that are sweet. Sour apples take me longer to eat, and mixing them with other unsweet things, would take me forever to finish. But, I like to experiment with food and figure out combinations that work. So, the surprise in this bowl (to me) is it was delicious – an enjoyable blend of healthy greens and the right apples.

  • Makes: 2 servings
  • Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

spinach

  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1-2 sweet or semi sweet red apples or a combination of both, peeled and cut into squares (McIntosh, Red Delicious, Snow or Honeycrisp are all good)
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop of vegan protein powder

Toppings of your choice. These are the ones I used:

shaved coconut

  • 1 kiwi cut in half
  • Handful or tablespoon of shaved, slivered or chopped coconut
  • Handful of Blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons of maize seeds of if you’re not vegan, bee pollen

Directions

Add all ingredients minus toppings into a blender and puree until smooth. Add toppings and enjoy!

Approximate nutrition information for one serving size (Based on brands and amounts used in this recipe)

  • Calories: 442 (without toppings: 264)
  • Fat:  6.5g (without toppings: 2.5g)
  • Carbohydrates: 58g (without toppings: 35g)
  • Protein: 24g (without toppings: 33g)

Shake off the bad stuff with this detox smoothie

Detox smoothie

  • Makes: 1 large serving or 2 small servings
  • Total time:5 minutes

Ingredients

Mixed berry smoothie blender

  • 1 cup of frozen berries, I usually use blueberries, blackberries and raspberries or strawberries, if using fresh berries, add some ice when blending the smoothie
  • 1 cup of organic kale or spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 scoop (22 g) of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseed

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Drink immediately.

Approximate nutritional value based on brands and amounts used

Nutrition without toppings
Calories: 306
Fat: 4.6 g
Carbs: 47.6 g
Protein: 21.3 g

10 Tips To Save Calories

Summer bodies are made in winter,  and most of us will think about getting our bodies ready for summer clothes. Problem is some of us are too busy working and raising children to get to the gym. Here is a list of ways to make small daily changes in your diet to cut calories and fat.

  1. Avoid packaged convenient foods. Yes they do save us some time but if you actually read fat and calorie content for these foods they are very high in comparison to foods made fresh, not to mention all those added preservatives.
  2. Try to reduce or omit the amount of added butter to vegetables and potatoes. Sure, butter does taste good, but you will get used to tasting the real flavor of the vegetables instead of the butter.
  3. Try substituting fat free chicken stock or broth into your mashed potatoes.  I use an electric mixer to whip them up light and fluffy.
  4. Try unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk in your cereal. One cup of almond milk is only 30 calories while skim milk has 80.
  5. Trim the fat off you meats before you cook them.
  6. Try substituting ground turkey for beef in meals like chili and tacos.  You wont be able to tell the difference especially in spicier dishes.
  7. Buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit or even just a touch of honey if you need the sweetness.  Sugar is added to most flavored yogurt cups, even in the fat free varieties.
  8. Read labels constantly.  Sugar is added to so many foods these days, it’s no wonder why our society has a weight problem.  Check your favorite spaghetti sauce jar, or peanut butter you may be surprised to see sugar as one of the ingredients.  There are sauces out there that don’t have added sugar.  I buy my store brand marinara that only has tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and onion and spices.  I use Teddy peanut butter, no added sugar or palm oil, only peanuts and salt.  Keep this peanut butter in the fridge so the oil doesn’t separate from the peanuts.
  9. Buy reduced fat cheeses instead of full fat or leave the cheese off entirely.
  10. Buy 100% whole wheat bread.  Again, check the sugar content.  Some manufacturer’s use terms like fructose or cane syrup to disguise sugar in the ingredients.

Holistic Living

A lot of people think that the holistic approach to life is nothing more than woo-woo mumbo jumbo, others think that it is taking a spiritual approach to life and others, others like me, think that it is simply a better way of living on your own terms, being aware of your own actions and doing whatever works for you to live an optimum life.

If you believe that everything we eat, think, practice and believe has a huge impact on your life and the lives of others, it makes sense to like at your life holistically, taking care of your mind, body and soul so that you can live a truly beautiful, happy and healthy life.

Sound good? Here’s what you can do to start living holistically:

Eat a Clean Diet

If you want to take care of your body and your mind, then a diet that is low in toxins and junk food and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats makes imminent sense. These kinds of foods will fuel your body and feed your brain so that you are able to function optimally.

Slow Down

We undoubtedly live in a fast-paced world, but is it really a coincidence that so many more people are suffering from fatigue, anxiety, stress, depression and a whole host of similar conditions? I doubt it! We all do so much so fast that we have very little time to just be. If you want to live a more holistic life, you need to change that. So, cross a few unnecessary things off your schedule and replace them with things you love like reading a good book, hiking somewhere beautiful or simply spending time with good friends and family.

Connect More

Connecting with other people who are also interested in living holistically – maybe at a yoga class or a local music festival, even in a Facebook group – is a great way to learn more about the experience of life and how to live optimally and make some very good friends.

As well as connecting to other like-minded people, forming connections with animals and the universe will make you feel less alone, more in the flow and happier than the average person who spends more time playing games on their phone than talking to people or enjoying the natural world.

Move Your Body

Moving your body is a basic way to feel more alive and to maintain a healthy body. Exercises like yoga and tai chi which engage both body and mind are best from a holistic point of view. However, any activity that gets you moving which you enjoy will lift your spirits and benefit your body.

Taking care of every part of your life as a human being is the only way to feel truly happy, healthy and at peace, So, do something about it, by living more holistically today – it’ll change your life.  How do you live your life? Any thoughts? What are your tips? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.

Until next time, shine amongst the stars!

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How Much Protein Should You Eat?

Smoothies, shakes, supplements: There’s no shortage of products that come with promises to boost your protein intake. But do you really need that extra protein?

“I think a lot of people feel pressured by all the marketing out there, making them feel like their diet is protein-deficient,” says Douglas Paddon-Jones, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Before you start eating extra steak or mixing protein powder into your smoothies, it’s important to assess what your protein requirements actually are and the best ways to get the right amount.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Protein is the building block for most of our cells; dietary protein helps us build muscle and maintain healthy bones. It also boosts energy and helps us feel full.

According to the Dietary Reference Intakes from the USDA, most people need about 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So someone who weighs 150 pounds would need about 60 grams of protein each day. (For a more individualized estimate of how much protein you need, you can enter your height, weight, and age into the USDA’s calculator.)

Considering that one 170g skinless, cooked chicken breast contains 54 grams of protein, achieving the recommended daily intake isn’t a high hurdle for most. Despite the crowded market for protein supplements and all the manufacturers touting the high protein content in their products, “most of us are already getting an adequate amount in our diet,” says Paddon-Jones.

Certain people, such as very strict vegans and those who lack access to healthy food in general, may have a harder time hitting those modest goals. (See “What Are the Best Protein Sources?” below for ideas on how to get more.)

Who Needs Extra Protein?

If you’re trying to build muscle mass or you’re a serious athlete, your daily protein needs can be up to double the average. Paddon-Jones cautions that this doesn’t really apply to someone who hits the gym a few times each week. “We’re talking about a small group of people who are working their bodies hard, every day,” he says.

Dieters also sometimes increase their protein intake in order to achieve a feeling of fullness without adding the empty calories of, say, refined carbohydrates. If you’re trying to lose weight, research suggests that aiming for 0.7 grams of daily protein for every pound you weigh might help.

After age 60, getting at least 0.6 grams per pound daily can help prevent age-related muscle loss, or sarcopenia, which increases the risk of disability.

If you have certain medical concerns—you’re recovering from broken bones or a severe burn, for example—your doctor may advise you to up your protein intake. The nutrient could help with regrowth and cell generation, and might speed the healing process.

What Are the Best Protein Sources?

Animal proteins are often touted as “complete proteins” because they contain all eight amino acids—which assist in healthy metabolism and body function—that your body doesn’t produce on its own. Plant-based protein sources lack some of these acids, but you can mix and match (e.g., combining brown rice and beans, or putting peanut butter on whole-grain bread) to make a complete protein.

Paddon-Jones says you shouldn’t spend too much time fretting that your protein sources are incomplete; it’s more important to eat a generally balanced diet. “If you’re getting your protein from spinach and beans, you’re getting all sorts of great nutrients that more than compensate for any lacking amino acids,” he says.

In general, shoot for a diet that includes a variety of protein sources, such as lean meat, seafood, eggs, yogurt, tofu, quinoa, nuts, and beans. These types of whole foods aren’t just good sources of protein; they’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients.

Federal dietary guidelines show that Americans—particularly men and teenage boys—get most of their protein from meat, poultry, and eggs. “It’s always smart to aim for a variety of nutrient sources in your diet,” says Maxine Siegel, R.D., who heads CR’s food-testing lab.

In general, avoid using protein supplements and shakes. Though protein-packed meal-replacement shakes can seem convenient, they’re often packed with unwanted sugars and other additives, and they generally lack the key nutrients you get from whole foods. And independent testing has shown that some protein products contain high amounts of arsenic, cadmium, and other dangerous heavy metals.

Can You Overdo It?

Research has shown that the body has a limited capacity to process large amounts of protein all at once. One study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that someone who ingests 90 grams of protein in a meal gets roughly the same benefits as someone who ingests 30 grams.

It’s better to space out your protein intake over the course of the day in order for your body to use it all effectively. Start with, say, yogurt or eggs in the morning, get some tuna for lunch, then move onto a lean meat at dinner. You can supplement throughout the day with smart protein snacks like hummus and veggies or peanut butter on crackers or sliced apples.

For most healthy adults, there isn’t a significant danger to getting more than the recommended amount of protein naturally in your diet.

“Unless you’re [genetically predisposed to] kidney issues such as advanced type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, there are few established health risks of ingesting too much protein,” says Jamie Baum, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Arkansas.

Some research has shown potentially adverse effects of excess protein intake, such as straining the kidneys and the liver. But that’s generally only among people who are upping their intake with supplements. And if your protein is coming predominantly from animal sources, you could face corollary risks associated with high-meat diets, such as higher rates of coronary heart disease.

“As with so much else in diet and nutrition, the key to healthy protein intake is balance and moderation,” says Siegel.

Source: Consumer Reports

Crispy Chicken and Lettuce Wraps

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 small green apple, diced (unpeeled)
  • 1/4 cup diced red capsicum
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast (approximately 100 each), cooked and diced
  • 1/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small head of lettuce (4-5 leaves)

Directions
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except for the lettuce. Chill for 1 hour. Place the chicken mixture inside each lettuce leaf, roll into cylinders and serve.