Club FNH

A place to learn Fitness, Nutrition, and Health tips that you should integrate into your every day life!

Take Your Time & Chew Your Food

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Fast cars, fast computers, and fast food. These days, it seems that if it isn’t fast, it isn’t good enough. Our lives are so busy that we try to get through each task as fast as we can, so that we can move on to the next one. Allowing the proper amount of time to eat can be pushed aside in order to allow you more time for some other “more important” task. However, it is critical to take your time and chew your food.

You may not realize that chewing your food has a lot more importance than just breaking it up enough to fit down your esophagus. The perks of chewing your food can improve your health, decrease your waistline, and increase your appreciation for what you are actually eating.

First, adequate chewing is an important step in the process of digestion. It helps break up your food so that your stomach doesn’t have to work so hard. Your saliva contains digestive enzymes that start to digest your food before you even swallow it. As you chew the food, you are breaking it down to create more and more surface area. More surface area means that your saliva can coat a greater portion of it, and start the process earlier. Not only does longer chewing allow the digestive process to start earlier – relieving some of the work from your stomach – but it also allows the nutrients within the food you’re eating to be released. If not properly chewed, a lot of the nutrients in your food can become ‘locked in’, which is defeating the purpose of eating in the first place. Not to mention that un-chewed food fragments can create an environment in the colon that is conducive to digestive distress – bacterial overgrowth, gas, and bloating.

Several steps in the process of moving food through your body are triggered before your food even reaches your stomach. Seeing, tasting, and smelling your food tells your brain to signal the release of digestive acids and enzymes in your stomach. The longer the food is in contact with these sense receptors, the stronger the effects of these brain signals. Strong signals mean more digestive molecules leading to better nutrient absorption, less indigestion, and less acid reflux.

Additionally, eating slower can help you in your weight loss goals. Have you ever prepared a heaping plate of food, scarfed it all down, and then started getting that full feeling a few minutes later? The act of eating slower will allow your body more time to signal to your mind that you are full, telling you to stop eating before you even have the chance to scarf down that entire plate.

Remember, food serves multiple purposes in our bodies. Slow down and allow it to serve all of its duties, rather than just one – filling your stomach beyond its needs. You may also find that you enjoy food more than you have before. The flavors will pop, the textures will strike you as unique, and the smells will provoke memories.

The way you treat your body is usually the way it is going to treat you back!

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The Basics of Nutrients

The main nutrients are macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – and micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Although nutrients can work alone, they depend on the others in order to be most effective. Nutrients perform several vital operations within the body which keep us alive. Without nutrients, our bodies would wither away into little piles of dust. Here is a brief summary of why the doctor recommends an apple a day:

Macronutrients

1. Macronutrients provide energy for metabolism. Carbohydrates are absolutely necessary in the process of making energy to allow our brains to work properly.

2. Macronutrients build and repair body tissues. Proteins are the building blocks for all cells and tissues, and also helps in the recover of muscles, and bones.

3. Macronutrients help regulate body processes. Healthy fats help fat-soluble vitamins such as A,D, E, and K move around the body to reach their target area.

Micronutrients

4. Micronutrients contribute to macronutrients. Although micronutrients do not provide energy themselves, they are essential tools that the macronutrients use in order to provide energy.

5. Micronutrients keep the functions of the body in a healthy condition. Most vitamins play a different role in the body. Vitamin A contributes to healthy vision, reproduction, and a healthy immune system. Vitamin C contributes to the creation of collagen, which is found in the skin and ligaments. Vitamin D works with calcium to keep the bones healthy. Vitamin E contributes to the immune system. Vitamin K works to allow the blood to clot in times when it is necessary (such is the case with open wounds).

6. Micronutrients ensure that the body does what it is supposed to do when it is supposed to do it. Vitamins and minerals activate enzymes, which are proteins that act as catalysts to speed up the biological reactions that take place in the body.

There are plenty more roles and benefits that nutrients play in the body, but this list is a good start. Choose to consume foods that are high in nutrients (macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals) such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The body will extract the nutrients it needs and use them to keep your body performing at its best.

The way you treat your body is usually the way it is going to treat you back.

The 5 Dimensions of Wellness

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Overall wellness is composed of 5 individual dimensions of health. The goal is to find a good balance between all 5 dimensions, and continuously pursue symmetry between each of them. In the quest for overall wellness, strive to enhance emotional health, intellectual health, spiritual health, social health, and of course, physical health.

Emotional Health is defined as the ability to control emotions and express them appropriately and comfortably. A deficiency in emotional health can be the most detrimental of the 5 dimensions to your overall wellness. The status of a person’s emotion can either positively or negatively affect each of the other dimensions of wellness. Emotions have the power to control just about everything in life: actions, attitude, appetite, and more. Keep your emotions under control, and appropriately express positivity. Life is more enjoyable when you choose to be comfortable with everything around you.

Intellectual Health is defined as the ability to learn, grow from experience, and utilize intellectual capabilities. Things can get boring really quickly when there is nothing new about them. Redundant tasks become the catalyst for getting ‘stuck in a groove’ and losing interest in anything to do with that task. Spice things up. Learn something new and apply your new knowledge to something you find interesting. It will spark a creative revolution in the brain that won’t want to stop. It is healthy to engage in new and exciting activities or intellectual subjects. Continual growth is a huge component to keeping life from becoming mundane.

Spiritual Health is defined as a guiding sense of meaning or value in life, and may involve a belief in some unifying or universal force. The spiritual health dimension can sometimes be a controversial topic. There is an abundance of different belief systems that exist all around the world. Some may argue that there are right and wrong beliefs, but it is up to you to believe what is right for you. It is important to find one that you believe in and value as your own. Your spiritual beliefs will help you discover and pursue your own value and overall meaning in life.

Social Health is the ability to have satisfying interpersonal relationships and interactions with others. Relationships and social interactions are the foundations for maintaining interest in the other 4 dimensions of wellness. Discover people you enjoy being with and partake in social activities with them. Discuss your emotions with your significant other, have a heated debate with intellectual peers, read scripture with a religious group, or participate in physical activity with your friends. There should never be a shortage of what interests you and the relationships you have. However, if you find that there is a shortage, it is within your power to change that. Take a step out of your comfort zone. Do something you never thought you would do, talk to a stranger at the park, or take up a new hobby. You never know what may come of it.

Physical Health is defined as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor. When most people think about ‘Wellness’, they generally only consider physical health. It is the most visible dimension of the 5, so they find it the easiest to assess. However, physical health pertains to more than what is visible from the outside. Your physical health entails disease, exercise habits, diet, bone health, body mass index… the list goes on and on. If you find that you can’t physically do something you want to do, make a change. It takes more than just wanting to do something; you have to work for it. Change your exercise habits, eat healthier food, evolve, and overcome your previous failure. Just remember that the way you treat your body is usually the way it is going to treat you back.

Take the time and effort to maintain the 5 individual dimensions of your overall health, and finally discover all the benefits that you have been waiting to offer yourself.

Today is a great day to be amazing!

Burn Calories the Easy Way

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The percentage of overweight and obese Americans is higher than ever before! As advances in technology continuously make everyday tasks more convenient, provide mindless entertainment, and make our lives easier overall, Americans are  becoming less and less active. The ever increasing rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are directly related to the ever increasing rates of individuals living sedentary lifestyles. It is time to Stand Up for ourselves and reverse these growing trends.

We spend much of our waking lives sitting–in front of computers, in meetings, watching TV, eating meals, driving, and observing games, movies, or events. The simple act of standing can burn an extra 50 calories per hour compared to sitting. Although 50 calories may not sound like much, it adds up quickly. If you can make it a habit to stand for 2 hours a day, you can burn about 10 pounds in one year! Additionally, people who choose standing over sitting note that their minds feel more clear and they have better ability to concentrate. So, stand up! You’ll be glad you did.

Take baby steps in your pursuit of weight loss. It is proven that individuals who lose a drastic amount of weight in a short amount of time are much more likely to gain that weight back than individuals who gradually lose weight. Make small transitions like sitting to standing, then standing to walking, walking to power-walking , and so on. Make sure you’re comfortable in each phase of your plan before you move onto the next phase. If you try to move too quickly, you might get caught right back where you started; sitting down.

Today is a great day to be amazing!

Sodium and Hypertension

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One in three adult Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and many more are at risk of developing it. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the greater your blood pressure. Hypertension can be a life threatening disease and is defined by a blood pressure greater than 140/90. Several factors contribute to the development of hypertension including age, weight, smoking, genetics, stress, and diet. Clearly, age is not a controllable factor, your weight should be within the healthy BMI range of 18.5 to 24.5, you should not smoke, the genetic factor is uncontrollable, and try to stay stress free. But what about the diet part? Sodium intake can play a huge role in developing hypertension.

The purpose of sodium in our bodies is to help us hold on to water (it is osmotic), so that we (our ancestors, a long long time ago) could walk long distances from lakes or streams to hunt and gather. The water would exit the body in the form of sweat, and would evaporate to act as a cooling agent to keep them from overheating while away from the bodies of water. As time progressed our eating habits changed, but for the most part, the internal systems in our bodies did not. The kidney was designed to balance the salt intake naturally occurring in foods with body needs.

Today, most people take in about 10 times the amount of daily sodium that the body needs. The job of the kidneys is to filter the excess sodium into the urine so that the body can get rid of it. However, some people’s kidneys cannot handle all the extra work and the filters cannot do their jobs efficiently. In that case, some of the excess sodium can enter the bloodstream. As we already know, sodium is osmotic, meaning it attracts water to it. Therefore, water follows the sodium into the bloodstream. Excessive salt keeps the circulatory volume higher than it should be, exerting excess fluid pressure on blood vessel walls. These walls react to the stress by thickening and narrowing, leaving less space for the fluid already cramped in the blood compartment raising “resistance” and requiring higher pressure to move blood to the organs. The heart has to pump against this high pressure system, which can cause severe damage to the heart and to the vascular system in the kidneys!

Some have high sensitivity to sodium, while others are barely affected by it at all. However, it can benefit everyone to cut back on sodium intake. Most people should try to keep their daily intake of sodium to around 1500 mg. Take a few extra minutes in the grocery store to read food labels and educate yourself on high sodium foods. Avoid or limit salty foods such as pretzels, soups, bacon, cheese, pickles, and most condiments. Definitely try to stay away from canned meats and processed foods as those are packed with sodium to keep them from spoiling. Instead, opt for a piece of fruit, fresh fish, or a handful of almonds. I know personally how hard it can be to change eating habits, but it is worth it in the long run. Just remember that physiologically we eat to fill our stomachs so that we can create energy. It is only psychologically that we eat to enjoy the taste.

Today is a great day to be amazing!

Club FNH: Fitness, Nutrition, and Health

I recently graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Kinesiology: Fitness, Nutrition, and Health. I’m not one of those people that graduated college just to graduate. I enjoyed learning and I want to keep learning. To keep my mind busy, I have decided to share the knowledge I gained in school, and some new knowledge that I will be learning along the way, with anyone that finds it valuable. Check out all my posts, you’ll probably find that some of them appeal to you personally. Then integrate these Fitness, Nutrition, and Health tips into your every day life. Share your experiences with me, and let me know how they impact you.

Have Fun and Get Healthy!

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