Sunday, April 25, 2010

Health and Fitness Tips of the Week

Super Food of the Week: Soy Beans

The slightly nutty flavored soy been has been cultivated in Asia for over 3,000 years but surprisingly the good news about soy’s versatility and health benefits is relatively new in the west. Soybeans are the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world and one of the most well researched, health-promoting foods available today. Soybeans can come in various colors such as green, yellow, brown or black.

Soybeans are equal in protein to animal foods, making this super food and excellent heath promoting meat replacement for vegetarians and diabetics who may have a problem with animal proteins. One cup of soybeans provides 57.2% of the recommended daily value for protein for less than 300 calories and only 2.2 grams of saturated fat. As an added plus, soy protein tends to lower cholesterol levels, while consuming protein from animal sources tends to raise them. Soybeans also score high nutrition points for contain almost half (49.1%) of the recommended daily value of iron, plus 37.0% of the daily value of magnesium and 41.2 % of the recommended daily value of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Soybeans can also help us stay lean. A study published in Endocrinology suggest that active isoflavone compounds found in soy may help us stay lean by causing the body to produce fewer and smaller fat cells. Studies have also shown soy to lower cholesterol by providing a double punch in the form of a bio-active peptide that could cause the body to inhibit the expression of the gene responsible for our body’s internal production of cholesterol. Soy also provides special benefits for women’s hearts and bones. Studies conducted have produced results indicating a beneficial synergy between isoflavones and the body’s own estrogen in decreasing cholesterol and increasing bone mass. Soybeans are among the several types of legumes that help to lower the risk of diabetes and promote gastrointestinal health.

Our super food this week may be small in stature but carries a big stick to fight off and prevent various diseases and health conditions. This legume also serves as a healthy alternative to getting the protein, fatty acids, vitamin B and K, as well as other nutrients, which our hair and body crave for proper function and health. There are many ways to incorporate soybeans into your diet. For example you can replace some of the wheat flour in your baked goods with soybean flour and increase the protein content of your cookies, cakes, muffins, and breads. You can also mix sprouted soybeans into salads or use as toppings for sandwiches. You can add soybeans to your stews and soups or use soy milk in place of cow’s milk as a beverage and cereal topper. Soybeans have amazing culinary versatility so don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy!

Fit Tip of the Week: How To Beat The Heat While Exercising

Spring is in full swing! The plants, flowers and the rest of the world are coming back to life. But as the temperatures rise and we abandon the gym for the great outdoors, we need to be reminded to protect ourselves from heat illness during exercise. Its not uncommon for a run or a walk on a hot sunny day to cause fatigue and heat illness. There are three major types of heat illnesses. Heat cramps are often sever, and often disabling, cramps that start in the hands, calves or feet. Heat exhaustion produces symptoms of fatigue, nausea, headaches, extreme thirst, confusion or anxiety, dizziness, as well as other symptoms. Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention but is not usually life-threatening. Finally there is heat stroke, which includes symptoms of a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, increased body temperature (104-106 degrees Fahrenheit), confusion, convulsions, and hot flushed and dry skin. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion. Following a few simple precautions for exercising in hot or humid weather can prevent all of these conditions:

Hydrate! Drinking enough fluid, be it water or a sports drink, is important for exercising in hot or humid weather. By maintaining proper hydration, the body is able to maintain proper body temperature and prevent you from over heating. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start replenishing fluids loss though sweat. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. So, always strive to drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. Water isn’t all that is lost when your body sweats. Your body also looses electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride. It is just as important to replace these with a sports drink during continuous exercise lasting longer than one or two hours.

Reduce exercise intensity. The first few times you are exposed to higher temperatures it’s a good idea to reduce the intensity of your workout until your body is acclimated to the new environmental changes. Allow your body to ease into the new environmental changes.

Watch the temperature AND humidity. High humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, and when sweat doesn’t evaporate your body can’t cool itself. Thus making humidity just as dangerous as heat. Often to determine the level of danger of temperature and humidity a Heat Stress Index chart is used. By using temperature and relative humidity this chart can help determine the level of danger of exercising in a variety of temperatures and relative humidity. The National Weather Service has published an easy to use Heat Index Chart on their website ( that you can use to assess the levels of danger. The more dangerous the heat and humidity are the more you should postpone your physical activity until the temperatures cool. You can plan ahead and beat the heat by exercising early in the morning or in the early evening.

Know your fitness levels. Everyone should take caution when exercising in heat, but if you’re physically unconditioned you should be extra cautious. Give yourself time to acclimate to the weather. Remember, the acclimatization process can take between 7 and 14 days of repeated heat exposure. Some people need more ands some need less. Physical training and heat acclimation can increase the body’s blood volume, thereby helping to regulate body temperature more efficiently. Again, you must drink fluids before, during and after exercise.

Clothing. When exercising in higher temperatures you should wear minimal clothing to provide a greater surface area for heat dissipation. Lightweight, loose-fitting, light colored clothes made of material that absorbs water, such as cotton) are ideal.

REST!!! Know when to take a break. Use common sense. If you need to sit in the shade, then do it. If you think it’s too hot to go for a run or walk, then don’t go or stay inside and use the treadmill. If you’re feeling overly tired after a day of working out in the heat then take some time to rest. Use common sense.

Until next week, stay happy and healthy!!