How the Great Outdoors Makes you Healthy

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My boyfriend Greg and I have been hiking in the Adirondacks quite a bit this summer. We love Lake Placid; the restaurants cater to health enthusiasts like us with hearty, delicious, and healthy food choices and there is something uplifting about the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains.

What I truly love is that just by being outside I am taking awesome measures to take care of myself—yes, even as healthy as I am, I am improving my health. Here are

my favorite scientifically proven benefits of the outdoors.

  • Vitamin D Rocks!

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Soak in those rays for at least 20 minutes a day without sunscreen to reap the benefits. Vitamin D boosts your immune system, collaborates with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K to protect your bones, and it can even help prevent diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease.

  • Super Slumber

Sweet sleep feels so amazing…and when you are outside often, you keep your circadian rhythm working the way it was meant to, helping you to sleep when it is dark and rise when it is light. Nature has been proven to help prevent insomnia as well-an awesome bonus. See, there are psychological and physiological reasons you sleep better just by spending time outside!

  • Bright Eyes

Most of us wear sunglasses in the summer and that’s important for protecting your eyes, but even with those shades on, do you being outside helps your eyes? Artificial light and constant staring at electronic devices inside literally kills your eyesight. Get outside often to rest those eyes!

  • Maintainin’ a Healthy Weight

Being outdoors generally forces you to move your body more…and that exercise is awesome for maintaining a healthy weight. You don’t need to hike mountains like me; even a nice walk around the block is literal steps in the right direction!

  • Helpin’ my Heart

A recent study in Australia found that just 30 minutes of exposure to nature each week can reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by nine percent. Imagine if you spent 30 minutes outdoors a few times each week?!

  • Marvelous Mood

Exposure to nature has been proven to boost your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels! Sometimes when you are feeling blah, a step int the Great Outdoors can spark the joy we all need!

Time to pull yourself away from the electronic device, step outside, take in a deep breath, and delve into all the benefits that nature offers us!

Celebrate Cherry Season

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Cherry season is upon us in Central New York and I love it! Cherries are the perfect snack and they are a nutrition-boosting compliment to every meal. Add them to your yogurt, smoothie, or oatmeal for breakfast. Toss them in a salad for lunch or dinner. The best news about cherries is their health benefits. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Here are a few reasons why.

Cherries can help with weight-loss efforts.

Cherries are a high-fiber food, which is always good for weight-loss because fiber keeps us fuller longer. A lab study actually proved that cherries can in fact help prevent weight gain. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Food, rats that were given tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight as rats consuming the same diet without cherries. The cherry powder intake was associated with lower lipid (fat) levels in the blood, percentage fat mass and abdominal fat weight as well.

Cherries can help you sleep better.

We could all use some good slumber, right? Well, cherries can help with this! Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Very few foods contain melatonin. Our bodies can manufacture a little bit of it through the pineal gland in our brain—consuming cherries can give us some extra melatonin to make sure we sleep soundly.

Cherries can increase your energy levels.

Of course better sleep can help with better energy levels, but there’s something else about cherries that can help boost your energy. The natural sugar and water content of cherries along with a plethora of antioxidants will no-doubt help prevent any energy dips you might experience during the day.

Cherries can protect against Diabetes

A lot of people with diabetes deter from fruit because of the sugar content. Cherries have a low glycemic index though so they don’t sky-rocket your sugar levels. Cherries have a glycemic index (GI) of 22 compared to say grapes that have a GI of 46, strawberries that have a GI of 41 or apples that have a GI of 39.

Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain.

Hold off on the ibuprofen please! Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain! A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that cherries helped prevent post workout pain in runners. Another study conducted at the Osteoarthritis Research Center found that cherry consumption greatly reduced the pain experienced by patients with osteoarthritis.

Cherries can protect your heart.

High in antioxidants and fiber, it should come as no surprise that cherries can protect your heart. The potassium content of cherries is particularly healthy for the heart by helping to regulate blood pressure,

Get yourself to the market and get some cherries today. They’re in season right now in Central New York through the month of July! And for a special treat, dip them in dark chocolate, which is also high in antioxidants!

By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN

Weight-loss Tips for the New Year!

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Hi everyone! Happy New Year! My next several blogs will relate to popular New Year’s Resolutions with tips I have to help you succeed.

The first NYR I will focus on is one of the most popular: to lose weight!  I wish I had a magic bullet for this one, but the truth of the matter is that to lose weight healthfully, a fad diet will not do the trick…you have to reconstruct the way you eat and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be depriving and you can even indulge a little. It takes dedication, but I promise you it’s not that hard once you get started!

Here are a few of my favorite tips to help you lose weight. These are not the typical tips you hear like stop eating fast food, eat more vegetables, stop snacking all the time, etc. Yes, those points are important to your weight-loss efforts, but these tips might make you think deeper or may even be something new for you.

Tip # 1: Go Slow and Steady!

Slow and steady wins the race. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week to ensure healthy weight loss. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your mind and body, making you feel sluggish, drained, and sick.   When you drop a lot of weight quickly, you’re actually losing mostly water and muscle, rather than fat.

Tip #2: Combine your favorite treats with something healthy.

You can still enjoy your favorite high-calorie treat, whether it’s ice cream, chips, cake, or chocolate. The key is to eat a smaller serving along with a lower-calorie option. For example, add strawberries to your ice cream or munch on carrot and celery sticks along with your chips and dip. By piling on the low-cal option, you can eat a diet-friendly portion of your favorite treat without feeling deprived.

 Tip # 3: Drink a lot of water!

You have probably heard this one before, but I want you to really think about this. You can HUGELY reduce your daily calorie intake by replacing soda, alcohol, or coffee with water. Thirst can also be confused with hunger, so by drinking water, you may avoid consuming extra calories. Do you get bored by drinking water? Try infusing it with lemon, lime, strawberries, watermelon, or mint!

Tip # 4; Get good sleep!

Lack of sleep has been shown to have a direct link to hunger, overeating, and weight gain. A few hormones regulate normal feelings of hunger and fullness. These hormone levels are affected by levels of sleep.  When you’re short on sleep your appetite is stimulated so you want more food than normal, and you won’t feel as satisfied as you normally would and will want to keep eating. This can lead to overeating and, ultimately, weight gain. To keep your diet on track, try to get about eight hours of quality sleep a night.

I hope these four little tips truly help you with your weight-loss goals! Feel free to contact my team if you need a professional helping you and cheerfully rooting for you!

 

One More Reason to Drink More Water: Weight-Loss

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I know, I know, I’m always talking about how important it is to keep hydrated and how you should be drinking a lot of water every day. For instance, if you haven’t read it already, take a peek at my hydration blog I just wrote a couple weeks ago.

To review some of the reasons why water is absolutely essential for us to consume every day—it helps regulate circulation, body temperature, and digestion. It also detoxifies the liver and the kidneys and carries waste out of the body. Did you know that a two-percent drop in body water can cause small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and cause slow thinking?

As if those aren’t enough reasons to drink water, a new research study just came out that links weight-loss to water consumption. Dr. Tammy Chang and colleagues at the University of Michigan School of Medicine used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to look at the link between dehydration and weight in the sample of 9,500 adults. It turns out that about 33 percent of the people in the study were not adequately hydrated. And those that were not hydrated had higher BMIs than those that were.

Getting thirsty yet? Seriously, how much water should you drink? The general rule of thumb is to at least drink half your body weight in ounces. If you are very active, you will need much more!

 

Crazy for Kale…and other Leafy Greens

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As we mentioned in our blog about seaweed, April is Earth Month and we will be blogging about sustainable food choices. Load up your plate with leafy greens (kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach and chard are great choices) and you will be boosting your health and protecting the planet at the same time!

Leafy Greens for your Weight

Leafy greens are rich in fiber. When it comes to weight-loss, you must befriend fiber because it keeps you fuller longer and you will be less likely to have unhealthy snack attacks.

Leafy Greens for your Heart

Leafy greens are excellent for heart health. The fiber helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Many leafy greens are chock-full of potassium, which helps to manage healthy blood-pressure levels. Research indicates that folate, found in leafy greens, may protect against heart disease.

Leafy Greens for your Brain

Folate is also great for your brain. Research shows that folate may protect against memory also. And because folate produces serotonin, leafy greens may help ward off depression.

Leafy Greens for your Bones

You probably know that in order to maintain healthy bones, you need calcium. Did you know that many leafy greens have more calcium than milk? For example, one cup of collard greens contains 357 milligrams of calcium and a cup of milk has 306 milligrams.

Leafy Greens for your Skin

Leafy greens contain a lot of water, which helps to hydrate your skin. The ample amount of vitamin C in leafy greens produces collagen, which is essential for your skin’s elasticity. Vitamin C and vitamin E, both found in leafy greens, team up to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Leafy Greens for the Planet
Leafy greens grow more quickly than almost any other type of plant in most climates, making them an excellent low-impact food choice most seasons.

If you want to take up gardening, leafy greens are a low-maintenance choice to try! Give it a shot and let us know how it goes. In the meantime, load up on those greens—you will feel so vibrant!