Leading Causes of Death Linked to Nutrition

Leading Causes of Death Linked to Nutrition

Seven out of the ten leading causes of death in the U.S. have a strong link to nutrition. They are heart disease, cancer, lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and kidney disease. The other three are accidents, influenza and suicide. 


Heart disease is the top killer in the U.S. Plaque, caused by fatty deposits that accumulate in the arteries, hardens over the years and eventually limits blood flow. To reduce plaque buildup reduce the amount of trans fats, saturated fats and dietary cholesterol you consume. Trans fats are found in meat, dairy and processed foods. Saturated fat comes from animal sources and is found in junk foods. Cholesterol is found in eggs and animal foods.


The American Medical Association, AMA, has recommended that meat and dairy be presented as optional, rather than required, in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is slated to release new dietary guidelines by the end of this year.


The AMA stated that dairy, processed meat, and red meat consumption have been strongly linked to prostate and colorectal cancers as well as cardiovascular risk, and noted that Black Americans are at particularly high risk for these diseases. The AMA letter states. “Dairy and meat products are promoted in federal nutrition policies even though they are not nutritionally required.”


Adopting a whole foods plant-based diet has been found to prevent or reverse all seven. Why not introduce or expand the healthy foods you eat and eliminate the ones that can make you sick? 


Eat a diet rich in whole grains, beans and legumes, vegetables, fruit, and green leafy vegetables. Avoid oil, fish, fowl, meat, dairy, and sugar.


It’s important that you know the effects the foods you eat can have on your health. YOU have the ability to take control of your health and wellness. It may mean a change in lifestyle but it’s worth it!


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Note: There may be affiliate links in this post. • I am not a doctor. All information is for educational use only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.

Exercise Can Strengthen Your Immune System

Exercise Can Strengthen Your Immune System

Several recent blog posts have pointed out the health benefits of exercise and physical activity. In this one we’ll explore how an active lifestyle can support a healthy immune system. Your immune system is your body’s natural defense mechanism and offers protection not just in the winter months but all year round.


Building a strong immune system requires adopting healthy lifestyle habits one of which is exercise or physical activity. Along with eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress, exercise can improve your immune function for the long term.


On the flip side, leading a sedentary, inactive lifestyle can contribute to a weak immune system. When your immune system is compromised it can lead to illness.


Exercise boosts immunity in a variety of ways. 

  • May promote good circulation, allowing cells to do a more efficient job.
  • Releases antibodies which attach themselves to bacteria or viruses and destroy them. 
  • May contribute to better functioning white blood cells which fight infections.
  • Can positively affect the brain by promoting a sense of well-being.

The goal is to get your heart rate up, performing moderate to vigorous activity, at least three times a week for 30-60 minutes. This can be accomplished with something as simple as going for a brisk walk. Other activities to consider include running, cycling, and using an elliptical machine.


Strength training also appears to help support the immune system and is beneficial as you age. It improves mobility and supports bone health. For optimal health incorporate aerobic activities and strength training into your weekly fitness routine. 


Repetition is key, as the benefits of a workout will be depleted over time. Exercising only occasionally is not going to have an impact on your immune system. Regular exercise can also help prevent age related immune function decline.


Recent research has found that exercise and physical activity can help prevent some cancers and help some cancer survivors live longer. This information was released in a report, Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors. A panel of researchers found that cancer related symptoms may be affected by performing moderate aerobic exercise, resistance training, or both.


The recommendations include:

  • Exercise, for all adults, is important for cancer prevention. It lowers the risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus, and stomach. 
  • Exercising after being diagnosed with breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer may help reduce the chance of recurrence and improve survival.
  • Exercise during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, and quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema. 

Before my breast cancer diagnosis, I led an active lifestyle exercising an average of 5 days a week including running, swimming, cycling, and strength training. Throughout my treatment regimen, I continued to exercise. The level of intensity and quality of the workouts diminished but I kept moving. Maintaining an exercise routine was good for both my body and mind. After completing chemotherapy and radiation, I gradually increased the amount and duration of physical activity until I regained my stamina and endurance.


If you don’t currently have an exercise routine, check with your doctor before starting one and share your goals with them. Start slowly. Gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts. Be persistent and consistent. 


For additional tips on immune system support, click here to get my guide, 4 “natural” ways to support your immune system. And, if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the blog here.

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Note: There may be affiliate links in this post. • I am not a doctor. All information is for educational use only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.

Are You Physically Active?

Are You Physically Active?

Do you exercise? 


I’ve led an active lifestyle my entire life. More “formal” exercise started in my 20s, I’m 54. Even during a battle with breast cancer I maintained an exercise regimen. It helped me make it through!


Implementing, and sticking to, a fitness regimen can be quite challenging. If you don’t currently have one in place, now is the time to start. Exercise, or physical activity, provides many benefits to your body both physically and mentally. 


Don’t get hung up on the terminology! Being physically active is what’s important. You don’t have to participate in traditional forms of exercise. The important thing is to move your body. It’s not meant to be sedentary. 


If morning is the best time for you to exercise but you hit the snooze button every time the alarm goes off, use Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. When the alarm sounds, count 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and get up. That’s the amount of time it takes your brain to change your mind about doing something. Purchase a dawn simulator so it’s light in your room even if the sun hasn’t come up yet. Your body will think it is time to get up because it is light. 


It’s recommended that adults get 30 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity 5 times a week or 90 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. If you aren’t physically able to perform the recommended amount of exercise (movement) then start from where you are and over time build up to it. 


Setting a measurable goal can be helpful when first get started and to keep you engaged. Be realistic about the goal so you can achieve it. When you achieve the first one set a larger or harder goal. Reaching a goal can help you stay motivated and you’ll be less likely to give up. 


You could begin with alternative activities and move into more traditional forms of exercise as you are able. Little changes made consistently over time will have the greatest impact.


Reasons to Exercise 

The benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle are: 

  • Heart health
  • Bone health
  • Movement and flexibility
  • Independence
  • Safety 
  • Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Balance emotions like depression and stress

Types of Exercise

  • Aerobic activities to increase your heart rate and burn calories. This is crucial for weight loss. It’s also important to have good nutrition. Exercise alone is not the key to losing weight.
  • Weight training for strength. It is good at any age but maybe even more so as you age for bone health.
  • Stretching for flexibility. You can maintain mobility as you age if you keep your muscles loose and long. Practice Essentrics, a form of stretching designed by Miranda Esmond-White. Watch her show on PBS, Classical Stretch, or visit her website to find a class in your area.

Alternative Exercise

In addition to traditional forms there are other ways you can get exercise. 

  • House cleaning
  • Yard work
  • Park farther away from the store when you go shopping
  • Use the stairs any time that you can
  • Play with children or pets outdoors and in
  • Use the push mower instead of the riding lawnmower

Maintaining an active lifestyle is key. If you don’t have time to get a workout in, try to be active in other ways during the day. Get your heart rate up so you can still burn calories. If you have a smart watch, keep track of the steps you take and the calories you burn during the day.


Exercise and Cancer

The American Cancer Society shared the following information.

There is a continued need to understand how modifiable behaviors like physical activity may help prevent and control cancer in the population.

  • Exercise is important for cancer prevention for all adults. It lowers the risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus, and stomach. 
  • Exercise can help improve survival for cancer survivors after a diagnosis of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. 
  • Exercise during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, and quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema. 

Awareness is the first step to creating change. Identify what your current level of physical activity is and what actions you need to take to get to where you want it to be.


The human body was made to move. Get yours up and going! Remember to start slow and be consistent. Build a routine. Small steps completed consistently over time will create the most change.


Hey, by the way, I have a guide on how to promote a good night’s sleep. Do you think physical activity is one of the factors? Click here to get the guide.



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Note: There may be affiliate links in this post. • I am not a doctor. All information is for educational use only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.
 
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