Probiotics and Prebiotics: Listen to Your Gut!

Young woman eating yogurt, closeupThere’s been a lot of talk about probiotics those high-fiber foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms said to improve or maintain the body’s “good” garden of microflora (bacteria).

Research is ongoing, but studies have pointed to “gut health” as impacting not only the digestive system, but the immune system as well. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that consuming different strains of probiotics over an eight-week period could reduce body weight and BMI, which are two caution areas related to diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Studies at Johns Hopkins have revealed an altering of blood pressure when different gut bacteria are produced in mice, rats, and people. Good gut bacteria have also been known to help reduce allergy symptoms, inflammation, and skin issues, like acne. Experts have been looking at the effects of probiotics on mood and stress, too.

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Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Are You at Risk?

High Cropped shot of an unrecognizable man suffering with foot cramp in the roomcholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and weight gain can all play significant roles when it comes to heart disease and stroke. PAD — also called Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) — is another concerning condition to be aware of and avoid, because it’s often overlooked and undiagnosed.

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Love Your Heart

Senior African American Couple Walking Through Fall WoodlandThere’s no sugar-coating it (even around Valentine’s Day).

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world, and the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing over 366,800 Americans a year (about one every 43 seconds). It’s the number one killer of women in the U.S., taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Heart issues in women can be more subtle. That’s dangerous, because women often misread the trouble signs while having an actual heart attack for things like acid reflux or flu. In fact, 64 percent of women who die from coronary heart disease (a narrowing of the arteries or blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart) had no previous symptoms. And heart disease is also the number one killer of men. (It doesn’t discriminate.)

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Black Bean Soup with Red Miso and Ginger

Traditional Brazilian cuisine (caldinho de feijão) with herbs on a green napkin and a traversed spoon metal spoon.Loaded with probiotic goodness, red miso (not white), a Japanese cooking staple made from fermented soy beans, is the star here (for more flavor and texture). At just 179 calories per serving, 34 g carbs, zero cholesterol, 4 g of total fat (none saturated), 11 g of fiber, and 9 g of protein, use this soup as a starter, or as a main meal with a salad, and whole-grain sourdough bread.

Note: Skip any added salt, as the miso is salty enough (743 mg). Monitor your salt intake that day, to stay under the recommended daily sodium limit of 2,300 mg (1,500, if you have high blood pressure).

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Creamy Ginger-Lemon Salad Dressing

Homemade asian peanut dressing with black sesame seedsThis light, Asian-influenced dressing gets its creaminess from Greek yogurt, and its tang from the blend of lemon and ginger. It’s an easy, quick, and tasty paring with any mixed greens combo, with just 33 calories, 1 g of carbohydrate, zero cholesterol, 2.5 g of total fat, 2 g of protein, and 2 g of sugar. (And why couldn’t you drizzle it on chicken or seafood as well?!)

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Say ‘Hi’ to Your BMI (Body Mass Index)

woman on a medical weight scale

Obesity brings with it a roster of related health conditions, from cancer, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, to gallbladder disease, mental illness, osteoarthritis, and type 2 diabetes — to name just a few. So it makes sense to try and maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising often. For adults, that means working up to working out five days a week for 30 minutes each; kids need 60 minutes of exercise daily.

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Alcohol and Medications Don’t Mix

exhausted man driving his car in traffic

Whether it’s “over the counter,” or a doctor’s prescription — alcohol and medications don’t mix.

The U.S. statistics on alcohol use behind the wheel are sobering, especially when it comes to the number of car crash deaths each year: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people die in cars each day as a result of drinking and driving. That’s one death every 50 minutes, at an annual cost of more than $44 billion. Additionally, both legal and illegal drugs are involved in about 16 percent of motor vehicle accidents.

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Pry Yourself Away From Processed Foods

man reading nutrition label.

Packaged foods often make life easier, when there’s little time or energy to cook. But while you may be beating the clock with getting food on the table at home (or in your cube for lunch at work), you’re likely side-stepping healthier eating. According to the American Heart Association, almost 70 percent of the typical American diet comes from processed and restaurant foods.

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Fruit and Fresh Herb Sparkler

Seltzer Drink with Fresh cut fruitThink of this drink as a bit of bubbly, without the buzz. It’s a “mocktail” that’s perfect for someone on a restricted diet, who may be pregnant, or who just wants something refreshing without alcohol added. Of course you could add sparkling wine, but by using club soda or seltzer instead, even the kids can make a toast! Mix in whatever fruit that you like, and get creative. This sparkler comes in at 35 calories, with only 9 g of carbohydrates, zero cholesterol, zero fat, 20 mg of sodium, and just 6 g of sugar. And it’s the perfect “anytime” alternative to sugary soda. Cheers!

 

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Potato Soup With Chicken and Veggies

Chicken Cream Soup

Nothing warms you up like soup, and this hearty combination of chicken, potatoes, rice, and veggies hits the spot! At just 224 calories per serving, 42 g carbs, 7 mg of cholesterol, 3 g of fat, 6 g of fiber, and 8 g of protein (along with 855 mg of potassium), make it for a weeknight or weekend dinner. You can later spoon up some leftovers (if you’ve got any!) for lunch the next day.

 

 

 

 

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