Don't get me wrong. Walking is good. Some form of exercise is better than nothing. Agree? But what is better? Walk or a Run? Well, it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
Trying to Eat Less and Lose Weight?
Run first. Yes, walking can provide many of the same health benefits (stress reduction, disease prevention, eliminates or reduces depression and boosts confidence) associated with running, but running may be best for weight loss. People use up 2.5 times more energy running than walking, whether its on the treadmill or outdoors. Runners also have a better chance of maintaining their BMI and waist circumference because running helps to regulate appetite hormones better than walking.
In a study, walkers invited to a buffet actually consumed 50 calories MORE than they had burned!! While the runners in the same study ate 200 LESS calories than they had burned simply because they had increased levels of the hormone peptide YY, which helps to suppress appetite. Running has a whole lot of benefits that walking may not be able to provide.
That said, running does have its side effects. Even the most disciplined runners face runner's knees, hamstring strains and shin splints.
Looking to Improve Overall Health?
If your health doesn't allow you to run for whatever reasons, walking will do. But why not try walking with weights? It will be an effective workout just as good as running. Attach weights to your ankle for that added effort to make the steps to burn more calories or wear a weighted vest while walking. It will increase the exercise intensity which translates to more energy burnt. Or if on a treadmill, you can do the above and increase your incline too. This will help in an even greater exercise intensity.
Regular cardio is important to good health but running uses up more energy than walking. But running isn't for everyone. No matter what, listen to your body, stretch well before any workout and cool down to prevent cramps and further injuries which may hamper your workout plan. and don't forget to plug in your fav music while working out. It always doesn't feel like a workout when you are listening to your best loved hits.
When you feel your clothes fitting better and get second looks from strangers, you will know it was all worth it. Enjoy your workout!!
Picture this - you have just purchased your fav cappuccino from the nearby Starbucks outlet and you head to the counter where all the sugar sachets are kept. So, now you have to decide between the golden crystals and regular white ones. The devil inside you says "Its not going to make any difference anyway, its such a small amount!" While, the angel inside your brain goes, "Nooo, pick the brown, its good for you, less calories, you don't need that extra fat on your hips"
Who should you listen to? For once, your devil side may be right!!
We have been BOMBARDED (note the capital letters) with so much info that brown bread, brown rice etc is good for us and so we start to think brown sugar is better than white sugar. In fact, white is scorned in the food industry. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that is easily used by the body for energy, but stored as fat if unused. But is brown sugar really healthier?
White sugar comes in many forms - caster sugar, icing sugar, rock sugar and it is used widely in many kitchens worldwide, as a beverages sweetener or in baked goods etc.. White sugar is essentially crystallized sucrose extracted from either sugar cane or sugar beets. Here is the interesting part - Brown sugar is not that much different from white sugar.
Brown sugar is simply white sugar with the introduction of molasses. But because of the introduction of molasses, it is slighly healthier as it then contains minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. This is only minuscle, by the way.
What does this prove? All sugars are the same with minor difference. So all types of sugar must be in taken in small amounts as it only provides empty calories and has no important health benefits to us. We should watch out for hidden sugars in food and soft drinks too. You all know that a can of soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar!
If you are cutting down on your sugar, lower your sugar intake gradually. For example, I used to have take 2 teaspoons of sugar for my mug [don't judge me - its a huge mug!! :)] of tea in the morning, but slowly reducing to 1 and half, so that the difference is gradual and my taste buds won't notice that change.
Remember that when you are next at the sugar sachet counter of your Starbucks outlet.
I have never heard of Himalayan pink salt till I came across my sister-by-law Jenny using it to season a salad while at dinner at her place. Intrigued, I decided to do my research on why this condiment is so wonderful. Here is what I found out why we should use this salt instead of our regular white table salt.
What is Himalayan Pink Salt?
Contrary to what its name suggests, Himalayan pink salt does not come from the Himalayan regions. It actualy originates from the Punjab region of Pakistan some 190 miles from the Himalayas. It usually has on off white to transparent colour while impurities in some veins of salt gives it a pink or reddish tone. It is sold in coarse grains but you can also find it finely grained or even as blocks.
Regular table salt is usually highly processed and is very different from natural salt. Because of the conditions by which it was formed, Himalayan Pink Salt (HPS) is the purest of sea salts and is one of the best sources of natural minerals on our planet. Let's look at its incredible health benefits :
1) Better Digestion
Using HPS instead of table salt will help to better digest your food. Simply because, the natural nutrients in HPS can increase the ability of our gut to absorb other nutrients better. Better digestion will improve overall health.
2) Strengthens your Body
If you are prone to weak bones like for eg, if you have arthritis, rheumatism or if your bones break easily , regular use of HPS to season your food will help to strengthen your body back to its prime. Many of the minerals found in HPS help to maintain strong bones, connective tissues as well as assist in proper muscle regeneration and blood circulation.
3) Helps to balance the PH levels in your body
Our urine should have a PH level of between 6.5 and 7.25. The majority of our population with PH imbalance lean toward acidity (lower PH). Low PH levels are associated with kidney stones. This can be fixed by drinking lots of pure water, changing our diet to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables or drinking sole. Sole? Yes sole (pronounced so-lay) is a fully saturated solution of water and HPS. Drinking a teaspoon of this elixir mixed with water in the morning daily will help to balance your PH levels in your body.
How to make Sole Solution :
Place 1/4 way of a glass jar with HPS crystals. Regular mason glass jar is good.
How do we consume Sole Solution?
Mix a teaspoon of the sole solution into a glass of water. Drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. 84 essential ionized minerals will be coursing through your blood risght away!
3) It helps to lower blood pressure
When natural HPS is used in lieu of table salt, your bosy is able to process the minerals easily. Your body won't need all that extra water to clear out the sodium, resulting in less bloating and lowered blood pressure
4) Regulates Hydration
HPS is 85% sodium chloride and the remaining 15% is a mix of potassium, calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate. These 6 minerals are electrolytes which are essential for the proper functioning of the human body ie for bodily fluid regulation.
5) Clears your Sinus
Generally, salt water helps to clear your sinuses. HPS cleans them even better. It kills bacteria thoroughly and bonds to many contaminants that may be stuck to your nasal cavities because of breathing polluted air.
6) Cleanses the air around you
HPS Lamps acts as a natural air purifier by pulling moisture from the surrounding environment into the salt. Heat from the bulb quickly evaporates the moisture back into the air. But any toxins that were present in the earlier air are left behind trapped by the salt ions in the lamp.
7) Soothes away Soreness
A warm bath infused with HPS helps to relax tired sore muscles. The trace minerals found in HPS are absorbed through the skin to help heal damaged soft tissues and muscles.
I used to be a svelte 51kg in university around 20 years ago (haven't we all been there...sigh) and after marriage and pregnancy I hovered around 54-55kg. Recently, out of the blue I hit 57!! I was rather shocked at the weight gain that had slowly crept up on my belly and thighs within just over a few months!! Gosh!! My belly is able to do its own jelly jiggle and it was awful when I became the butt of all the fat jokes at home :(
I realised that I had gotten lazy because of getting a live-in maid. So it was quite fitting when she left in early Oct last year (barely 4 months with us) citing incompatibility with my vegetarian cuisine at home (Filipinos thrive on white rice and meat) !!
Now after 3 months through all the huffing and puffing of laundry, cooking, cleaning both my house and my bunnies' house, I was able to shed 2 kg! Yay me!! But I would still like to lose the stubborn belly fat that just refuses to bid farewell! That's my first resolution for the new year - to get to 52kg by June 2017.
Having a temporary writer's block, I just peeled my eyes from my laptop screen and looked out at the beautiful ocean view of the Andaman Sea out side our hotel room in Phuket, Thailand (See picture below). I was blogging this while on holiday...I am not kidding- this was the view we woke up to every morning for a week. What a lovely way to blog... what a lovely view to look at to help put my thoughts into words :)
Back to the topic at hand, how do I get rid of that bulging belly fat that literally blocks my view of my feet and that makes me look 3 months preganant?? I know many of us hide under not-so-figure-hugging clothes and blame our age for not being able to lose that stubborn belly. But when my pants refuses to buckle and when my T shirt feels way too snug around my middle, I knew I HAD to do something.
Facts about Belly Fat
1) Belly fat is the worse of all the fats in our body
It is associated with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis colorectal cancer, high blood pressure.... Even though genes can be a factor, poor lifestyle choices can make it worse.
2) Fatty foods are not the main cause of belly fat
Excess calories of any kind can increase your waistline. Apart from butter, fatty meats, cheese and other fatty food, if your intake is greater than the amount of activity you engage in, be aware of that soon tightening pants and skirts.
3) Calories from Alcohol is the worse choice for belly fat
Gram to gram - alcohol has as many calories as fat. When you drink alcohol, your liver is too busy burning off alcohol than burning off the fat. That's why we see so many men who drink do continue to do so with beer bellies.
4) Trans Fat not Saturated Fat is the devil of the lot
Saturated fat is found naturally in food like in Coconut and Palm oil. Trans Fat, on the other hand, is man made and is created by partially hydrogenating the oil in foods like biscuits, doughnuts, peanut butter, margarines and crackers. The alarming fact is that trans fat not only increases our belly fat, it also redistributes fat tissue to the abdomen from other parts of the body. Yikes - double whammy!
5) Men tend to get more belly fat than women
Due to our sex hormone differences, men tend to store more fat in the abdominal area than women, in general. But after the age of 40, when the estrogen levels drop in women, the fat from our hips and thighs get redistributed to our abdomen! Looks like we can never escape from this darn fat!!
6) Belly Fat is not the hardest fat to lose.
Contrary to popular belief, when you lose weight, you are most likely to lose it in the midsection first.
How Do We Get Rid of our Middle Jellies?
1) Consume lots of green tea, soy and blue berries
Green Tea has catechins which help to stimulate the body to burn calories and enhance the loss of belly fat. Blue berries have also shown some promise in reducing our waistline in lab tests.
2) Avoid any kind of fast food
Many fast food are typically high in fat, calorie dense and nutrient deficient. When eaten frequently, it leads to over consumption of calories, weight gain and ultmately an increase in belly fat. Have it in moderation if you can't entirely wipe it out of yor food intake. A calorie controlled diet rich in
3) Avoid all soft drinks - diet or otherwise
Substituting regular soft drinks with diet ones is not going to help you to lose weight. In fact, it could lead to weight gain. All sweetened drinks should be abolished from your kitchen to help you stick to your goal of losing that belly fat. Added sugars means added calories! Stick to natural fruit juices or just good old water..
4) Add fibre to your diet
To help trim your waistline, add wholegrains to your diet. You must have heard this a million times. Brown rice, brown bread and brown noodles - all these are good for you as they lower blood glucose levels and helps you feel full longer so that you don't much on unhealthy snacks between your main meals. If you are like me and have to have white rice for health reasons, reduce your portions. And fill up with fruits. It works!! I swear :)
Popcorn is a whole grain food that can boost fibre intake. But please don't overload with butter and sugar to make it taste better. It just deviates from our plan.
5) Exercise, exercise, exercise
This one is a no brainer. Aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, swimming helps in overall loss in body fat. Spot exercise, ie exercise focused on certain areas like crunches, sit ups or other abdomen centered exercies may help to strengthen your core muscles. But they will not help lose that belly fat specifically. Exercise at least 30-60 mins most days of the week.
Like everything in life, it is easier said than done. Its not going to be easy to follow all these advice but do try to make some changes to your lifestyle. I am positive you will see your pants, dresses and T shirts fitting a whole lot better. Good Luck!
The next time you use the public toilet, observe what the others do. You would notice that probably only 1 out of 5 would be washing their hands with soap. The rest would just run their hands under the water for a bit. Yes, go on...make the observation. You'll be shocked as well.
I know the above guidelines seem like what the doctors and nurses would do. I don't follow such strict guidelines but I do ensure at least up to Step 3.
What is Yerba Mate Tea?
Yerba Mate (pronounced yerba-mahtay) tea is a South American brew that offers - the caffeine strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the euphoria of chocolate – all in one beverage. It was called the ‘the drink of the Gods’ by early South Americans and later ‘green gold of the Indios’ by European settlers.
Yerba Mate tea is made by the dried leaves of an evergreen holly Ilex paraguariensis, a native plant of South America. Commonly found in the wild, these plants are also cultivated very much like the tea plantations found in other parts of the world.
Sharing the yerba mate tea from a traditional gourd is a sign of friendship and bonding. It is usually passed around during a social setting where everyone sips from the same silver straw (definitely not my cup of tea due to obvious hygiene reasons). Its wildly popular in Uruguay where it’s not unusual to see people walking down the street sipping yerba mate – very much like from a Starbucks coffee cup! In Argentina, yerba mate tea is consumed in 92% of households. The very first taste can be described as grassy and similar to green tea.
Though yerba mate tea consumption has not gained popularity because of its acquired taste, it is slowly gaining its foothold worldwide because of its many health benefits.
1) Mental Clarity
The most obvious and immediate benefit is increased energy, enhanced mental clarity, alertness, focus and concentration. Very much like any other mentally stimulating caffeine drink. Keeps you more motivated and productive by stimulating production of neuro transmitters dopamine.
2) Smooth Increase in Energy
Compared to other caffeine drinks – coffee, black tea, cola, cocoa and guarana - yerba mate tea provides a smooth, clean and calm increase in energy. Not a sudden increase. And it rarely interferes with sleep and doesn’t cause caffeine jitters. Even though there has been claims that this tea does not contain caffeine, Yerba mate tea does contain caffeine - more than tea but less than coffee.
3) Nutritional Powerhouse
Yerba Mate tea is so nutritious that it contains practically all the micro nutrients needed to sustain life! Each serving of yerba mate contains high concentration of Vitamins A, C, B, E and calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and many other minerals. It also contains 11 polyphenols and has more antioxidants than any other tea based drinks.
4) Boosts Immunity
Yerba mate tea is high in certain compounds called saponins which are natural emulsifiers that boost the immune system and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been to be useful in treating bladder infections.
5) Weight Loss Aid
Dr Oz included yerba mate tea as one of the tea that can help you in losing weight in his TV segment. This introduced yerba mate tea to the world. Not clinically proven but yerba mate teas do help in suppressing appetite, increasing metabolism and burning stored body fat.
6) Digestion and Elimination Tonic
Yerba mate teas are known to be beneficial for treating constipation, diarrhoea and indigestion. Its naturally anti-bacterial against one of the most common causes of food poisoning -E Coli. It also helps to destroy intestinal parasites and is useful in preventing and treating bladder and kidney stones.
7) Build Strong Bones
Drinking yerba mate tea increases bone density even in those who don’t exercise! Since caffeine is associated with bone loss and exercise is critical for building strong bones, yerba mate tea will be a better alternative for those who can’t exercise. Post-menopausal women who are particularly at risk of osteoporosis, had almost 10% increase in their bone density in their spines after drinking yerba mate tea. And get this – they didn’t exercise!
8) Healthy Heart
This miracle tea is useful heart related conditions, including heart failure, irregular heart beat and low blood pressure. Both its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help protect our heart and cardiovascular system.
9) Kills Cancer Cells
Yerba mate tea contains several anti-cancer compounds such as saponins, ursolic acid, rutin, tannin, chlorogenic acid and chlorophyll. It helps to destroy colon cancer cells but conversely yerba mate tea has also found to cause some kinds of cancer like oesophagus, lungs, mouth, pharynx and larynx. This is especially so if this tea is drank scalding hot which is true of all drinks!
How do we drink Yerba Mate tea?
Traditionally, this brew is sipped from a gourd called calabash using a silver straw called a bombilla. Unless you are seeking an authentic experience, this is not necessary. You just need to prepare yerba mate tea like any other tea you would usually prepare. Some children who are introduced to yerba mate tea start using the tea bags which are less potent. If you aren’t sure about yerba mate tea yet, use tea bags first.
Possible Side Effects
Yerba Mate tea is not recommended for those who are pregnant, those suffering from insomnia, anxiety, nervousness and heart palpitations.
It is also not recommended if you smoke or drink heavily since this combination could increase your risk for cancer.
Lastly, do run this tea by your doc before consumption, if you have any serious heart conditions.
It is so painful. Everyone seems to know a friend or a loved with cancer these days. I have, in the past 6-8 months alone, witnessed three of my closest friends's parents succumb to cancer. In November last year, a friend's mom passed on after suffering from lung cancer which went on to attack her bones. Another close friend, whom I met in early June to offer my condolences, explained her father suffered the same condition. And yet another friend's mom suffered through cancer too for 7 years, the details of whch I am not sure. She was finally eased of her sufferings late May.
It is really quite heart wrenching. When I hear my friends explain how much their parent had suffered through the pain and chemo and how they wished they could have eased their suffering in any way. During the meet up in June, we were discussing why so many of our elders getting diagnosed with cancer? When they had lived through a less stressful, less processed food period? I had to write this post - it affected me seeing my close friends go through their own emotional suffering watching their parent slowly leave them.
In Singapore, 37 people are diagnosed with cancer everyday. The good news is that we are at a time where each of us can go on to enjoy a high quality of life even after cancer diagnosis than any other time in history.
What are the reasons why we are seeing many more cases of cancer than we did say, a 100 years ago?
1) We are living longer - if you notice, most of the detection of cancers occurs in people over 55. Due to advances in science and technology, we are living longer than we did decades ago, when we were not expected to live beyond 55. All around the world, the numbers of seniors are increasing. and the greater number of seniors mean more cancer cases are being detected.
2) Imbalanced Lifestyle - this is a no brainer. We are just getting too busy and too preoccupied to look after ourselves holistically - improper diet comprising fast processed food, lack of movement ie insufficient exercise and a very stressful lifestyle in an ongoing quest to climb that corporate ladder. All these factors are associated with inceased risks of obesity which is linked to many types of cancer.
3)Increase in certain types of cancers - even with increased awareness, certain types of cancer are on the rise which contributes to the numbers. Gastrointestinal cancers affect the entire digestive sysytem - stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder or the bowels. Skin cancers are also on the rise because of self tanning and unprotected sun exposure, even though it is preventable.
4) Early Detection -There are a plethora of cancer detecting kits available nowadays which helps in early detection. Just last weekend, Siglap CC's Women's Exec Committee conducted a breast and colon cancer health talk and free colon cancer detecting kits were given out. These kits and screening tests were only available to the public in the recent years which could have caused an increase in the statistics.
Fortunately, receiving news about cancer is not a death sentence nowadays. Like most illnesse, early detection helps you in beating the disease and having a chance of a long life. What we can do is to have a balanced lifestyle, reduce our risks whenever possible and go for yearly health checkups. That's the least we can do for our loved ones.
Dry mouth, also known medically as xerostomia, is a common condition and can vary from person to person. The best way to treat a dry mouth is to find out what is causing it and take action.
What causes dry mouth?
How does one feel with a dry mouth?
Lack of saliva makes the skin around the mouth dry and tight. Lips may become cracked and sores might form at the corners of your mouth. Your tongue may feel rough and dry and it may also be tough to talk and swallow. People with dry mouth often develop bad breath because the saliva isnt flushing their mouth of food particles and debris regularly. Dry mouth may also be the cause of that tickle in your throat.
How do we treat a dry mouth?
Is there a direct correlation between food and mood ? Experts say yes! What you have for dinner can affect whether you have depression or not.
Medical experts point to research on a plant based, seafood rich olive oil drizzled way of eating called ( what else? ) the Mediterranean diet. Apparently, the only food plan that comes back with positive parameters study after study in all areas - mental health, cardiovascular health, obesity - is the Mediterranean diet.
In a Spanish study of 10,000 healthy individuals revealed that this who followed this diet closely were 30% less likely to become depressed over 4 years compared to those who ignored this diet. In America, a study of older people in Chicago who ate an Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet had a whopping 99% lower annual rate of mood disorder.
So how do you set your table for happiness now that you know about the pluses of the Mediterranean diet?
1) Commit to Cooking More
It is a shocking fact that only 22% of Singaporeans cook at home. Eating out usually means you don't know what goes onto your plate. Spending more time in the kitchen helps to control what goes into your mouth and helps to hone your skills in the culinary world as well. When you gain the confidence and the skills necessary to create simple nutritious meals using the Mediterranean diet as your guide, you experience a sense of achievement which again correlates to better moods.
2) Cut Back on Meat
One way to take away meat slowly is to cut back on portions.
Take only one serving of chicken or steak and use it to flavour a veg rich stir fry or pasta for the entire family.
Another way is to skip meat for a day. Meatless Monday is an initiative that helps people start the work week vegetarian.
Finally, presenting the meat with loads of vegetables, like cooked broccoli, greens or a salad makes a load of difference to what your family injests.
3) Supplement for Success
A standard dose of Vitamin D3,l ( 2000IU), fish oil ( 750mg) and St. John's wort ( 300-600mg a day) can be part of your journey to happiness.
It can be tough to listen the angel on your right shoulder and order a kale salad while the little devil on your left is demanding French fries! It's all worth it in the end - loads of energy, less irritability and overall happiness will boost you on.
Sitting Rising Test (SRT). This simple test of flexibility and strength could determine whose lives will last longer and whose will be cut short in the next 5 years, according to a study by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo. Apart from aerobic fitness, muscle strength and flexibility are also important as we age.This test requires no equipment or walking paths just a clear space and a willing participant.