Fitness and Health

This blog is for interesting pictures and articles about health and fitness that I find.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Health Benefits of Watermelon health benefits of water melon include kidney disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart care, heat stroke, macular degeneration, impotence, etc.

What’s so much the fuss about this Water Melon? Isn’t it nothing more than a ball full of water? Okay! I know there cannot be a more refreshing thing than a big, chilled wedge of water melon in tropical summers and it sports a stylish scientific name of Citrullus Lanatus. But then there are others too. So, what’s special about it? I am afraid, there are lots of them.

How about having a refreshing glimpse of them? Given below are some health benefits of water melon:

  • Kidney Disorders: Water Melon contains a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing off the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Moreover, it is helpful in reducing concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damages and formation of renal calculi in it. Added to these, being high in water content, it induces frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of kidneys. Also, the anti oxidants present in ensure good health of kidneys for a long.
  • High Blood Pressure: A good amount of Potassium and magnesium, present in water melons, are very good in bringing down the blood pressure. The carotenoids present in them prevent hardening of walls of arteries and veins, thereby helping reduce blood pressure.
  • Prevent Heat Stroke: Water melon is effective in reducing your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in the tropical regions eat the fruit daily in the afternoon during summers to protect themselves from heat stroke. In India, you will find the fruit being sold by vendors in almost every street during summers.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes patients, who are supposed to have low energy and low sugar diet, often complaint about starving since they don’t get to eat their staple diet to their full, giving them a feeling of keeping half fed. Water Melons can be a good supplement for them. In spite of being sweet in taste, a thick wedge will give you very few calories, since ninety nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the various vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in water melons, is very effective in enhancing impact of insulin on sugar. Diabetes patients can also have curries, steaks, salads made from water melon rinds which are even lower in sugar.
  • Heart Care: Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in water melon, improves cardiac functions. Beta carotene, known for its remarkable anti oxidant and anti aging properties, also keeps you young at the heart and prevents age related cardiac problems. The roughage in water melon and its very low energy, with help from vitamin-C, Carotenoids and potassium (potassium cuts the risk of a heart attack), help reduce cholesterol and keep your heart safe.
  • Macular Degeneration: Leave your worry of eyes on that beta carotene, that vitamin-C and those Lutein and Zeaxanthin. They will ensure protection of your eyes from macular degeneration. They are experts in that. These anti oxidants will protect your eyes from other age related ailments such as drying up of eyes and optical nerves, glaucoma etc.
  • Impotence: Arginine, present in water melon, is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunctions.
  • Other Benefits: Lypocene is found to be effective in preventing cancer, prostrate growth and repair damaged tissues. Water melon seeds are rich in good fats and proteins. Water melons also contain phytonutrients which have very good effect on the health and proper functioning of internal organs, eyes, secretion system etc.

This article was contributed by Aparup Mukherjee

On reading this article, Berrada Ali wrote "I have been traveling from Agadir to Marrakech in Morocco yesterday (August 8, 2008), and en cours de route, I bought water melon. During a hot dog day, I dont feel good. I measured my blood pressure with an handy apparatus-a tensiometer-the result was: 7.8/15.2 for diastole and systole. Then I ate half kg of water melon, a variety well known in the region of Southern Morocco - a Mediterranean variety, Then immediately I measured my blood pressure and the result was: 8.2/12.3 for diastole and systole! the drop of the blood pressure could not be the effect of an agent other than the water melon!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Crash Diets Don't Work

Fat accumulates in our bodies usually from any of five reasons: (1) junk food, (2) too much sugar, (3) overeating, (4) too much fat in the diet, (5) not having enough exercise.--Or a combination of all five. Women's fat deposits appear in a variety of places: upper arms, abdomen, buttocks and thighs. Men's fat deposits are more centralized on the middle abdomen or "pot bellies". Whatever aerobic exercise you do, fat deposits come off in the reverse order that they arrived--last hired, first fired. There are no miracle fat burners. There is only aerobic exercise, resistance training, and sensible dieting. Adults over 35 naturally lose a half a pound of muscle tissue each year and gain a pound and a half of fat. Not only is weight gained, but it is shifted from muscle weight to fat weight. Women in particular lose sight of their muscle loss under the growing fat layer. In other words, the best way to lose fat and keep it off is by keeping our muscle tissues active. Muscle tissue speeds up our metabolism and keeps our bodies burning fat. This is done only through exercise. Many people don't have a proper notion of what real weight control is and what's the best--and in fact the only--healthy way to achieve it permanently. To most people, ideal body weight is how much you weigh on a scale, but this isn't really the best measure. The issue isn't so much what you weigh, but what percent of your weight is composed of fat. One pound of muscle tissue is active, denser, and smaller than one pound on inactive, less dense, larger fat tissue. So it's possible for two people who look about the same size to differ by ten pounds on a scale, yet the one who weights ten pounds more could actually have less body fat, and better muscle tone and shape. Every pound of lean muscle mass eats up 100 calories a day. A 35-year-old woman can weigh more than when she was 20, but can look slimmer and have better proportions. The secret is she lost fat and gained muscle. That muscle now burns more calories even at rest. Her metabolism is higher and she can eat more food without putting on weight. You'll understand why in a minute. What we're really saying here is that weight control is really fat control. Getting rid of body fat is not just for appearance. Excess body fat increases the risk of:

*Heart disease
*High blood pressure
*Low testosterone and progesterone levels
*....and many other ailments

When well nourished, your body burns hundreds of calories every day in the process such as the beating of your heart, digesting food, brain function, even breathing. However, if you don't eat enough food each day, your body will respond defensively. Recent studies have shown that within each of us is a unique "set-point" mechanism that regulates the amount of fat we carry. it's believed to be a kind of survival mechanism--a way of stocking up for times of famine and emergency. If the body perceives that it's starving--as it rightly does if we're always on a strict or extreme diet, or if we suddenly crash diet--the "set-point" is thought to kick into action causing the body to keep a tenacious grip on its fat supply. In order to replenish itself, the body will first cause you to crave high-calorie food such as sweets. If you successfully resist these cravings, the body's next line of defense will be to slow down the metabolism in order to conserve calories. In the face of food deprivation, the body holds on to its fat stores for dear life. In addition, because you're not getting enough calories, your body will use some of its muscle tissue for energy. Since muscle is an active tissue which burns calories even while you sleep, losing muscle further lowers your metabolism. This slowed metabolism helps explain why you can lose weight initially but soon reach a plateau, which many have experienced. Since it's extremely difficult to maintain a crash diet for very long, when you eventually return to your normal calorie intake, the weight that's regained comes back mostly as fat--not as muscle. The more often you use a low-calorie crash diet, the more fat you gain. Rapid dieting backfires. It's like using Kleenex with sneezing powder in it. The more you use it the worse it gets. After a crash diet, the calories you usually burned every day by having those muscles in your body are now going to fat as the muscle tissue has been destroyed. You have also aged your body, depending on the severity of the diet, by up to three years. The only way to beat fat is with regular exercise and wise nutrition. Any exercise burns a few calories, but aerobic exercise makes significant fat loss possible because it increases that metabolic rate so that you burn more calories and have more energy 24 hours a day. Do not try to lose more than two pounds per week, even with dieting and exercise. (Many experts say it's even better to aim for one pound a week.) Exercise also makes dieting easier because it reduces the appetite.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Perfect Your Posture

It's a fact: slouching can make you look as if you're carrying an extra ten pounds. Plus, poor body alignment sets you up for aches and fatigue. Straighten up and look slimmer with these tips from orthopedic surgeon Peter Slabaugh, MD, of Oakland, California.
Reflect: Study your profile from all angles in a full-length mirror. A slight roundness of your spine is natural, but avoid exaggerated curves in your upper or lower back.
Zip it: Practice the pelvic tilt. Imagine zipping up your snuggest pair of jeans. Tightening your buns throws your pelvis forward and automatically straightens your shoulders.
Work out: Strength training, stretching,and activities such as swimming work your shoulders and back and improve muscle tone for flexibility.

Parents magazine

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"You Are What You Eat"

--Carol Iberia
I'm sure that you have hold that old adage. Well, guess what?--It's true! Think about it--the very first requirement for health is a well-balanced diet, which contains all the vital nutrients in proportion to your age, sex, lifestyle and physical frame. Try to avoid all kindsof junk food, refined sugar, fried or heavily processed food and saturated animal fats.Here are some foods that you should emphasize in your diet:

For the overweight body: Eat lots of fresh fruits, yogurt, raw vegetables and sunflower seeds.
For the underweight body: Eat more milk, meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs and cheese.
To have healthier nails: Eat more eggs, whole grain cereals, blackstrap molasses, apricots, liver and almonds.
To reduce dandruff: Increase your intake of what germ, fresh fruits and vegetables, liver, unsaturated vegetable oils, protein-rich foods.
Reduction of oily skin: Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grain cereals, fish skinless poultry, eggs.
Rid yourself of dry skin: Eat more protein-rich foods, polyunsaturated vegetable and nut oils. You might also increase your daily intake of vitamins A and E.
Clearing up oily hair: Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Increase your amount of lean meats, fish, poultry (with as much skin/fat removed as possible), and whole grain cereals.
Dealing with dry hair: Increase your daily consumption of vitamins A and E. Eat a tablespoon of unprocessed vegetable, nut or seed oil daily.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sleep Your Way to Beauty

It sounds too good to be true. All those jokes we made about "getting your beauty sleep" weren't so silly after all. Scientific studies now confirm what most of us always wished. Sleep is essential to beautiful skin.
The pituitary gland secretes growth hormone, which is responsible for the cell regeneration essential for glowing, supple skin. Apparently, our bodies are too "preoccupied" when we're awake and active to work on cell regeneration and repair. This activity increases by 300% when we're sleeping, peaking at 1 AM (but only if you're asleep then). At around the same time, estrogen and progesterone--two hormones crucial to healthy skin--are also peaking.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Science Behind Fat Burning

One of the biggest misunderstandings and “myth-conceptions” in the field of exercise and weight loss has been around the field of fat burning. Aerobic teachers are constantly admonishing their students to work at a slower rate so they can “burn more fat.” Almost all cardio equipment in the gym has a “fat burning” program, and we fitness professionals are constantly bombarded with questions from clients about how to get their heart rate in the target “fat-burning zone.” The misconceptions come from a basic confusion between percentages and absolute amounts. See, at rest, the body is always burning a mix of fuels. All other things being equal, it doesn’t like to burn protein, so that leaves fats and carbohydrates (more technically, fatty acids and glucose). At rest, the “average” person burns about 70% fat and 30% carbs. As one moves from rest to activity, the percentage of fuel coming from fat decreases and the percentage coming from carbs increases. The more intense the exercise, the more carbs and the less fat in the mix, until you reach the point called the “anaerobic threshold,” where you’re going at about your intensity limit. At that point, 99% or more of your fuel is pure carbohydrate and 1 percent or
less is coming from fat. This situation has led many people to assume that in order to “burn fat” they need to exercise at lower intensities. They’re missing the boat. Why? Because while at rest, although a higher percentage of your calories is indeed coming from fat, you are ultimately burning a lower absolute number of calories. At higher intensity exercise, the percentage of calories from fat goes down, true—but it is a percentage of a significantly higher number. To illustrate this critical difference, I often ask audiences to picture multi-millionaire Ross Perot standing next to me. Then I ask them, “Would you rather have 90% of all the money I have in the world, or 3% of all the money Mr. Perot over here has?” When they give the obvious answer, I say, “But why? 90% is so much higher than 3%!” They get the picture. So let’s say you’re exercising at a fairly low intensity that burns, oh, 100 calories in a half-hour. Let’s say that 70% of those calories come from fat. Your neighbor, however, is working out much harder, outside the magical “fat burning” zone: She’s burning up, say 300 calories in that same half hour, but only 50% of those calories are from fat. Now do the math. You’re burning a higher
percentage of fat, but 70% of your 100 calories equals 70 fat calories burned. Your neighbor, on the other hand, is burning a lower percentage of fat, but she has burned up 50% of 300 calories, or 150 fat calories, more than twice what you’ve burned in the same period of time! Get it?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Simple Things You Can Do To Lose Weight

--Article by Susan Nellbur, web excerpt

If you’re like most people, you might have trouble controlling your weight. Or maybe it’s under control, but it won’t go down to where you’d like it to be.

Weight loss, however, doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated. A few simple habit changes could make a big difference — over the long term.

Will these changes take you from being 100 pounds overweight to slim and sexy in four weeks? Not at all. These are simple things that are designed to make gradual and sustainable changes.

Create some simple habits, and the weight will come off. Eventually.

This is not a step-by-step guide, and you will probably not want to implement every suggestion. Choose those that would work best for you.

1. Weigh yourself and chart it. Each morning, weigh yourself on a digital scale and log it immediately. Your weight, of course, will fluctuate from day-to-day, and your sense of accomplishment or disappointment shouldn’t hinge on your daily weight. However, your weight can be used as a useful feedback system to see what you’re doing right and to motivate you.

2. Plan your meals. This is probably the No. 1 thing you can do to lose weight. First, use a calorie calculator to estimate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Now, if you want to lose a pound a week, you’ll want to cut that total by 500 calories per day to hit that goal (3,500 calories equals a pound of fat). If you want to lose weight slower, you can cut your total daily calories by less. I wouldn’t recommend more than a pound a week (which is about 50 pounds a year).

Once you have your target calories per day, you want to allocate them throughout the day. For example, if your target is 2,000 calories, you could allocate 400 calories per meal for 4 meals (7 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. for example) with two 200-calorie snacks. How you allocate your calories is completely up to you — you might want to experiment to find the best distribution.

Now plan each meal so that you fit within the calorie limit for that meal. This might take some time to calculate, but once you have your favorite meals planned, this isn’t too hard. You can have a listing of 400-calorie meals and 200-calorie snacks that are interchangeable. The key, of course, is sticking to the meal plan — don’t let yourself deviate. You’ll get used to it after a few days.

3. Plan healthy snacks. Just as you plan your meals, you should plan your snacks. See the above item on allocating your daily calories to snacks. Instead of just snacking on whatever’s available, or rushing to a vending machine or convenience store when you get really hungry, you should plan to have healthy snacks in between meals. Fruit, veggies, yogurt, dried fruit and similar snacks are all good choices.

Be sure to plan some unhealthy snacks sometimes too. You don’t want to completely deprive yourself — make it a fun thing. Some dark chocolate on one day, some berries on another, and an occasional binge work for me.

4. Find lower-fat alternatives. Take your favorite foods and find lower-fat alternatives. If you love burgers, for example, you can make turkey burgers or soy burgers (there are some good ones, trust me). If you like French fries, make your own and bake them. Bake chicken instead of frying it. Get low-fat milk and yogurt instead of the higher-fat versions. Baked chips instead of greasy ones. While you shouldn’t give up fat completely, and in fact some types of fat are good for you in moderation, it’s important to remember that fat is high in calories (more than twice as calorie-dense as protein or carbs), and lowering your fat intake to a more moderate amount will also lower your calorie intake. Adding fruits and veggies is another good way to lower fat intake, as they take up a lot of space in your stomach without adding too many calories or fat.

5. Eat slowly, and then wait 20 minutes. If you scarf down your meals, you are probably overeating because of it. I know, because I have to slow myself down a lot. The thing is, it takes awhile for our brains to get the message that we’re full. So if we eat quickly, we will actually eat past fullness. You’ve probably had that painful, “I’ve eaten way too much!” feeling, and it’s because of fast eating. The trick is to teach yourself to eat slowly. You’ll get full on less food.

Another trick is to eat a sensible serving (a moderate plate, not stacked up is a good rule of thumb) without eating seconds right away. If you’re still a little hungry, wait for at least 20 minutes before eating any more. Often your hunger will go away.

6. Think long term. You won’t lose weight overnight. Well, you could lose weight quickly, but you don’t want to — it’ll come back just as quickly. What you want is gradual weight loss that stays lost. A pound a week is a good rate — again, that’s 500 calories a day less than you need to maintain your current weight, and it’s about 50 pounds a year. Both are achievable, and both are sustainable. Of course, you’ll need to make adjustments as you go along, in case you’re taking in too many or too little calories, but the main thing is not to try for immediate and quick weight loss, but long-term loss. Don’t worry about the ups and downs every day, but look at trends over weeks and months. It’ll happen, if you stick with it and do it moderately.

7. Stop drinking calories. Calories in soda, coffee, tea, alcohol, juice and other beverages are very sneaky, because you don’t realize how many calories you drink a day. Juice, for example, seems healthy, but really you’re getting none of the fiber of fruit and all of the calories. Eating an orange would give you the same benefits, and make you more full.

Instead, drink water. Lots of it, all day long. Water makes you full, without giving you calories. It’s the perfect weight-loss drink, available at your local tap.

8. Read about weight loss. This might seem like a weird tip, but I’ve found it to be true. If you keep your focus on your goal, you will most likely achieve it. But if you lose focus, you’ll lose motivation, and soon you’ll stop any progress. What you should do is read about weight loss — success stories, tips, etc. — to return you to that focus and motivation. Any time you’re losing motivation, read some articles about weight loss or exercise or eating healthy.

9. Exercise for just 5 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, eating fewer calories is much more effective than trying to burn the calories through exercise. For example, you could burn a few hundred calories with 30 minutes of hard exercise, but you could easily gain those back with a bowl of cereal or some other snack. So if you really want weight loss, you’ll have to focus on what you eat.

However, exercise does help. Burning even 200 calories a day can add up (an extra couple of pounds a month), and you don’t need to exercise too long to do that. And even better, exercise makes you feel good, and feel like you’re getting in shape. It makes you healthier, of course, and will get you toned.

My recommendation is to start with just 5 minutes a day. That won’t get you to 200 calories, but it’s a start, and that’s what’s important. Just do 5 minutes a day for the first week. Any kind of exercise will do — try a few pushups, a few crunches, a few jumping jacks, and a couple minutes of running in place. After a week, increase it by 2 minutes. Do that for a couple of months, and soon you’re doing 25-35 minutes a day. That’s about all you need.

10. Just get through a tough 3 days. If you reduce your caloric intake, as per Item #2 above, you will feel hungry at first. And that’s not easy. Hunger makes us want to give in. But just tell yourself that it’s just for 3 days. After that, it will start to get easier. You’ll get used to it, and it won’t seem like deprivation.