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How important are fruits and vegetables?

We all have childhood memories of our parents telling us to eat our vegetables before we could be excused from the table—and then trying to hide our Brussels sprouts under the napkin or feed them to the dog. This is sometimes a constant battle with children and even adults. The number of Americans meeting adequate fruit consumption guidelines is just under one-third, and this number is even lower when it comes to vegetables. That’s a far cry from the Healthy People 2010 goals, which include 75% of Americans eating two servings of fruit and 50% of Americans eating three servings of vegetables daily.

The Benefits

Fruits and vegetables are beneficial for almost anyone. They are low in calories, but dense in nutrients and fiber. This makes them ideal for a filling snack or meal. In addition to vitamins and minerals, plant foods are abundant in phytochemicals, which are special nutrients that may have cancer-fighting properties. Research has shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of diseases like stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and coronary heart disease. Fruits and vegetables should be an integral part of a weight-control diet, a training diet and an everyday diet.

How much is enough?

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables for a 2000-calorie diet. But how many people know that they actually eat a 2000-calorie diet? is a great resource to monitor your food intake and see how many fruits and vegetables you need based on your age, gender, height, weight and physical-activity level. Whole fruits are recommended above fruit juice, which lacks fiber and is much less filling. Vegetables are categorized into five subgroups, and you should try to eat the recommended amount of each group throughout the week.

Whether you’re eating fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables, try to get a variety into your diet. You’ll get a wider variety of nutrients and avoid the potential monotony associated with eating the same foods—which is one major reason people tend to stray from their eating plans.

Getting Started

Besides health benefits, fruits and vegetables are easy to prepare—all you have to do is wash them! Many fruits and vegetables can be taken to eat on the go and are great for quick, tasty snacks.

When fruits and vegetables are in season, consuming them fresh and raw is optimal for getting the maximum amount of nutrition. For fruits and vegetables that are out of season, frozen or canned may be more nutritious. The fruits and vegetables that go into these products are picked at the height of their nutritional value and the process of freezing and canning them preserves most of the nutrients. Try to avoid canned fruits packed in syrup, as the sugar content is very high.

Fruits and vegetables can easily be served as a side dish or dessert, or incorporated into the main entrée. Try adding dried or fresh berries to your salads or cereal. Grilling fruits is a great way to enhance their sweetness without adding sugar. Vegetable medleys can be cooked into casseroles or stir fried with noodles or rice. Substitute your favorite meat pizza toppings with some veggies. There are a plethora of recipes available online and in cookbooks where you can get more great ideas.

If I have type-2 Diabetes - Should I exercise?

Exercise Can Help

The latest research has put exercise at the forefront in the prevention, control and treatment of diabetes because it decreases insulin resistance. Following regular exercise training, cells can better respond to insulin and effectively take glucose out of the blood and into the cell. Exercise also helps to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body fat.

Exercise Recommendations

If you have type 2 diabetes, you should adhere to the following exercise guidelines:

  • Always consult with your physician before starting any exercise program to determine the potential risks associated with exercise.
  • Cardiovascular exercise—Strive to accumulate a minimum of 1,000 kcal expended through physical activity each week. Pending current conditioning levels, this may require three to seven days per week of low-to-moderate intensity exercise for 20 to 60 minutes (walking and other non-weightbearing activities such as water aerobics and cycling are good choices). Daily exercise is highly recommended.
  • Resistance training—Perform resistance-training activities at least two days per week, targeting the major muscle groups. Complete a minimum of one set of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise at a low-to-moderate intensity.
  • Flexibility—Perform stretching exercises at least two to three days per week, stretching major muscle groups to the point of tension (not pain) for 15 to 30 seconds. Complete two to four repetitions of each stretch.
  • The ultimate goal is to expend a minimum of 1,000 calories per week via physical activity for health benefits, or 2,000 calories per week for weight loss. Keep in mind that these are goals that you should work up to gradually over time.

What are the precautions?

If you have type 2 diabetes, you must monitor your glucose before and after exercise to understand how you respond to certain types of activities. Also, exercising with a partner and wearing an ID bracelet indicating one’s diabetic condition are very important.

Finally, don’t forget to check with your physician prior to beginning a physical-activity program and return regularly to assess the diabetic complications. If complications of the eyes, kidney or heart are present, your physician should provide you with clear boundaries regarding the intensity of any physical activity.


Is barefoot running good or bad for you?

The benefits that are claimed for barefoot running include increased foot strength, which is based on the claim that running shoes weaken muscles, that no research has shown; improved running biomechanics, which the research has not shown despite claims by barefoot runners (all the research has shown is that barefoot running is different to shoe running, not better); reduced injuries, which has not been shown by the research and a quick look at barefoot running blogs and running forums show a lot of runners seeking advice for the inquires they got while running barefoot.

Particularly common in barefoot runners is what has become known as 'top of foot pain' and metatarsal stress fractures. None of this means that barefoot running is not good, it's just the claims made for it are not supported by the research in the way that those who make the claims like to think.

Many in the barefoot running community also claim that running shoes are evil and are the cause of many of the running overuse injuries that occur. Again, there is no evidence that this is actually the case, yet you can often see research quoted that they claim shows this. On closer inspection, the research does not actually show what is claimed. There is no research that running shoes help either. That does not mean they are bad, it just means that no one has yet done the research.

~Mike Reinold


Is exercise good for senior citizens?

Good news for older adults: part of the prescription for a healthier, better retirement is exercise. Physical activity protects against declining health and fitness and adds years to your life. Join the growing number of older adults who are actively demonstrating that exercise helps keep a body strong.

The Best Retirement Is an Active One

Did you know that moderate-intensity physical activity can help you live longer and reduce health problems? Regular exercise helps control blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol levels, and cuts the risk for hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. It conditions muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones to help fight osteoporosis, keep your body more limber and stabilize your joints, thus lowering the risk of everyday injury. It also improves digestion and is good for managing low-back pain, arthritis and diabetes. Regular physical activity helps you maintain your independence. And recently, there’s been more research that suggests an active lifestyle lowers the risk of some cancers. But perhaps the best reason for incorporating regular exercise into your life is that you’ll feel better. Exercise helps you sleep better and manage stress better, and gives you more energy to enjoy work and play.

Fitness Is Golden

A good exercise program includes cardiovascular exercise, muscular conditioning and flexibility exercises. The best cardiovascular exercises for seniors are non-jarring, such as walking, swimming and cycling. Start with a light regimen and gradually build up to a total of at least 30 minutes of activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Playing with children, gardening, dancing and housecleaning are other ways to incorporate activity into your daily routine.

Strengthening exercises such as lifting light weights (or even household items such as canned foods or milk jugs) help to maintain your muscle mass and promote bone health. Plus, research suggests that adults older than 50 years who do not perform resistance training lose nearly 1/4 pound of muscle mass per year. Since muscle mass is directly related to how many calories your body burns each day, resistance training is important for weight management. And strong leg and hip muscles help to reduce the risk of falls, a cause of considerable disability among older adults. Aim to participate in resistance training at least two days per week, making sure to exercise all major muscle groups through a full range of motion.

End each workout with stretching exercises to help maintain your mobility and range of motion and decrease your risk for injury.

A Few Safety Tips

Always remember to keep safety in mind when exercising.

  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
  • Avoid outdoor activities in extreme temperatures.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated.
  • Listen to your body when determining an appropriate exercise intensity (and keep in mind that monitoring intensity using heart rate isn’t accurate if you are on heart-rate-altering medications such as most medications for hypertension).
  • Be aware of danger signs. Stop activity and call your doctor or 911 if you experience any of the following: pain or pressure in your chest, arms, neck or jaw; feeling lightheaded, nauseated or weak; becoming short of breath; developing pain in your legs, calves or back; or feeling like your heart is beating too fast or skipping beats.

Discover the Exercise You Like Best

The best way to keep fit is to choose exercises you enjoy. Favorites among some older adults include aqua aerobics, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, line dancing, square dancing, ballroom dancing or simply walking the dog. You may enjoy group exercise classes, since they offer an opportunity to socialize and develop friendships.

When you’re deciding on a class or program, make sure the instructor is certified by an accredited professional organization such as the American Council on Exercise and has completed specialty training in senior health and fitness. And remember the other elements that contribute to good health in your golden years: A well-balanced diet, not smoking and seeing your doctor regularly.

Look at your retirement or senior years as an opportunity to do things you have never done before. Most of all, enjoy yourself!

Q: How long until I see results?

A: We assess our clients regularly. Our clients who have followed our complete weekly plan and journaled their healthy nutrition plans have consistently seen positive results, including remarkable improvements in strength and endurance during this period. Like most things in life, the more YOU put into it, the more YOU will get out of it.

Typically we have seen 5lbs lost in as little as a month....

Q: How many times a week does the typical client work out?

A: There are no “typical” clients – everyone’s program is unique to their goals, their time commitment, and their budget. Some of our clients train 2-4 times per week.

4 times per week for best results.

What are some ways I can reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)?

Proposed Interventions
Although there has been a considerable amount of research on the treatment of DOMS, to date no one treatment has proved dominant in consistently preventing or treating DOMS. Among popular interventions are pharmacological treatments using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), therapeutic treatments utilizing physical modalities such as stretching and warm-up, and interventions using nutritional supplements. The following is a discussion and evaluation of these proposed mechanisms of treatment and the prevention of DOMS.

Benefits of Nutritional Supplementation

Nutritional supplements have also emerged as a potential treatment for DOMS. Anti-oxidant's, such as vitamins C and E, are known to reduce the proliferation of free radicals, which are thought to be generated during the inflammatory response potentially causing more damage to an affected muscle. Connolly et al. report that the effectiveness of anti-oxidant therapy has been shown to be inconsistent among several studies examining it's potential for treatment. Other nutritional supplements which have been investigated for treatment of DOMS include coenzyme-Q and L-carnitine, however neither supplement has been shown to effectively treat DOMS, and may even worsen symptoms.

Benefits of Warm-up
Unlike the use of NSAIDs and nutritional supplements, pre-exercise warm-up has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of DOMS. In his review, Szymanski (2001) notes that traditional warm-up before exercise has been suggested as a means of preparing the body for exercise, improving athletic performance, and reducing DOMS and associated muscle damage. Using a warm up to increase muscle temperature is thought to improve muscle function by leading to greater muscle elasticity, an increased resistance of muscle tissue to tearing, more relaxed muscles, an increased extensibility of connective tissues within muscle, and decreased muscle viscosity. This in turn allows for more efficient muscle contractions, which deliver increased speed and force. Szymanski also reports that several studies provide evidence of concentric warm-up before eccentric exercise, thus preparing the body for the stress caused by overloading the muscles with eccentric activity.
~Johndavid Maes, and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.

Source: University of New Mexico