Author Archives: Karen Owoc

How to Build a Better Salad

I love this infographic created by the Cleveland Clinic! Colorful guide on how to build a salad with lots of healthy layers…

how to build a better salad_cleveland clinic_cropped

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Fit Find | Wasa® Flaxseed Crispbread

Wasa-Crispbread-Flaxseed

If you’re looking for a cracker for spreading your Nuttzo™ and Fiordifrutta™ or for diving into a bowl of Aubergine® Fire-Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Spread (my favorite!), I haven’t come across any that are healthier than Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread.

One thing though… you can’t compare this cracker to a salty, buttery club cracker or any other cracker processed with oil and salt. In fact, you may even say Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread tastes like ‘sawdust’. Yes, really. But don’t go away yet!

I’m recommending them because there are times you may want an edible platform for some tasty spreads and most crackers are just empty calories made with refined flour, unhealthy fat and salt. I found that the Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread added a nice crunch to sandwich spreads and they’re a wholesome alternative to eating a slice of bread. They’re made with LDL-lowering soluble fiber (rye, oats, flaxseed). See Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics and Check Cholesterol for Alzheimer’s Risk. Continue reading

Fit TV | Will Your Doctor Predict if You’ll Get Alzheimer’s?


VIDEO: Researchers are optimistic that they found a new way to predict Alzheimer’s disease. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this compact segment of health news in The Health Reporter Minute.

More on Alzheimer’s disease: Fit Minute | Check Cholesterol for Alzheimer’s Risk.

Fit Minute | Check Cholesterol for Alzheimer’s Risk

cholesterol_dollarphotoclub_67703499_600x410

If you think getting Alzheimer’s disease is a just a consequence of bad genes or bad luck, think again. Researchers suggest you could have some control over your getting the disease.

A UC Davis study revealed that healthy cholesterol levels not only keep your heart healthy, but your brain too. It is the first study to specifically link cholesterol to amyloid plaques in the brain of living human participants. Deposits of amyloid plaque (detected by a brain scan) are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Amyloid Plaque?

Amyloid beta (or beta amyloid) is a protein necessary for normal brain activity. But, in the early stages of Alzheimers, this protein forms deposits, known as amyloid plaques, which disrupt communication between nerve cells in your brain.    Continue reading

10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Sweating

If you’re trying to lose weight, join 69% of American men and women over the age of 20 who are also overweight or obese. Don’t fret. Here are 10 things you can do that’ll shed some pounds AND don’t involve walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, or running around the block.

Of these 10 things, how many do you do now? DO YOU…

☐ Stop eating when distracted by the TV, computer, phone, or a magazine/book?eating at work_dollarphotoclub_51568892_600x469

 

☐ Eat on a smaller plate? Do you eat on a 9″ dish versus an 11-12″ hungry man dinner plate?

Use smaller utensils or chopsticks and take smaller bites of food?

☐ Always sit down to eat?   

Chew slowly and steadily? Do you chew until your food has lost all of its texture or is liquefied?

☐ Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food?     Continue reading

Fit Find | Fiordifrutta™ Organic Strawberries & Wild Strawberries Fruit Spread

Fiordifrutta Organic-Fruit-Spread-StrawberryHere’s the perfect companion to Nuttzo™ Seven Nut & Seed Butter! It’s Fiordifrutta™ Strawberries & Wild Strawberries Organic Fruit Spread made by Rigoni di Asiago®I have been on the lookout for a high quality strawberry fruit spread for over 25 years and finally found a winner!

Fruit spreads (a.k.a. lightly sweetened puréed fruits), are a healthier alternative to sugary sweet jams and jellies. Fiordifrutta™ makes a fruit spread that is truly “all natural”, simple and delicious. This one contains:

  • No high-fructose corn syrup
  • No sugar
  • No artificial sugar
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • No preservatives

Ingredients: Strawberries*, apple juice*, wild strawberries*, pectin. *From organic farming. (Pectin is a soluble fiber found in plants and is used as a thickening agent in most jams and jellies.)

Compare some of the following ingredients in other brands. Notice the first and foremost ingredient:   Continue reading

Fit TV | Blinded by Blood Pressure


 
VIDEO: Untreated hypertension (high blood pressure) is the underlying cause of several life-threatening health conditions which can affect your heart, kidneys and other vital organs. It is known as the “silent killer” because there are often no warning signs or symptoms. Learn how your blood pressure can affect your eyes. (TRT: 01:01)
 

Fit Find | NuttZo™ Seven Nut & Seed Butter

If you’re looking for a natural nut butter to spread on your favorite PB&J, here’s one I’m absolutely crazy about: Nuttzo™ Seven Nut & Seed Butter ‘Power Fuel’. It’s not only yummy, but offers the benefits of seven different nuts and seeds. You can get it either crunchy or smooth. Spread it on sliced bananas and apples too for a healthy snack with staying power.

NOTE: Nut phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have been shown to help fight free-radical damage, prevent inflammation, and lower blood cholesterol. See ♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q.?.

Nuttzo_Power Fuel-275x487Nut oils tend to separate from the solids in natural nut butters like NuttZo™ since they aren’t made with unhealthy hydrogenated vegetable oils which prevent separation. My longstanding tip to make mixing easier has been to place the jar upside down until ready to open and stir. Nuttzo already has that figured out and is sold upside down!

Ingredients: organic cashews, organic almonds, organic brazil nuts, organic flax seeds, organic hazelnuts, organic chia seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, sea salt. No added sugar or oil.

One serving (2 Tbsp) contains a whopping 975 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha linolenic). You want to try to get in 1,000 to 1,600 mg of omega-3’s per day.

The Starbucks® Effect | Is Caffeine Shortening Your Life?

starbucks-grande-coffee

Would you ever drink a cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee at 2:00 AM, then wonder why you can’t fall asleep? Well, you may as well be doing that if you start each day with a grande-size coffee streaming through your veins.

Here’s why… Caffeine has a lasting effect — a half life of five to six hours to be exact. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you flush down the porcelain throne.)

See How It Breaks Down

Coffee cup with abstract white steamDue to the half-life of caffeine and the amount of caffeine in one grande-size Starbucks® coffee, if you drank one every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 44 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to a 6-oz cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee. See how it’s calculated:  The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande Per Day for Three Days“. 

Caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume caffeine throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food or even medication. 

If you drink a Starbucks® short (8-oz cup) at 2:00 PM every afternoon in addition to your 8:00 AM morning grande, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 91 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to one 12-oz Starbucks® iced brewed coffee (a clue to why you may not be able to fall asleep during the week). See how it’s calculated: “The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande and One Short Per Day for Three Days“.

Your Personal Buzz (Half-Life Variables)

The half-life of caffeine is  not a fixed number and can vary from three to over seven hours based on the individual. Variables include your:    Continue reading

Live, Love and Lighten Up…

Enjoy little things... “Enjoy the little things in life for you’ll one day look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault

For more inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/quotes-that-move-me/

Why Supplements Can Make You Sick

pills_dollarphotoclub_65086147_smallerIn 2011 I reported on dietary supplement safety and warned that supplements are not risk-free. Today, based on the cease-and-desist letters sent to major retailers by the New York attorney general, there’s even more evidence that you should be wary of supplements on store shelves.

According to the FDA, makers of the following are not required to show their products are safe or effective before they go on the market:

  • Herbs or other botanicals
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Amino acids
  • Other raw ingredients

That’s because over 20 years ago, President Clinton signed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. Under this law, supplements do NOT need FDA approval before they’re sold. This lack of oversight has caused serious illnesses and irreversible health effects.

Per a Congressional investigation in 2010, dietary supplements were found to contain the following:

  • Heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic)
  • Pesticides
  • Filth and bacteria
  • Prescription drugs
  • Super/subpotent vitamins and minerals
  • Toxic compounds

Phony Herbal Supplements Sold by Major Retailers   

Continue reading

Thank you | Blog Post #201

Business woman with laptopOn Friday I crossed the 200 mark and published my 201st blog post. If you asked me on Day 1 if I thought I’d make it to this point, I would have said, “No way!” because it was inconceivable that I’d have that much to say. But here I am today.

Many thanks to all of you who follow The Health Reporter. I am honored that you “like” my posts, leave comments, share the info, ask questions, grow with me, and say, “Wow, Karen, I didn’t know that!”. You keep me motivated and inspired knowing you find value in this blog.

Again, thank you. I’m not promising another 200 posts, but for now, together let’s strive to live longer, stronger and happier lives.

Best regards,
karen_signature

 

Fit Find | Aunt Patty’s® Date “Sugar”

Date sugarAunt Patty’s® Date Sugar is a tasty way to sweeten your food naturally. It’s made entirely from certified organic dates that have been dehydrated and finely ground. There’s nothing else in it but pure dried fruit –no artificial colors, flavors, additives, or preservatives.

Dates are high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and antioxidants, and are an excellent source of potassium. But don’t expect to get a significant dose of these nutrients in a one-teaspoon serving or by dusting it lightly over your food.

The 11-oz. shaker bottle makes the date sugar much easier to sprinkle on an individual bowl of oatmeal or yogurt. But to sweeten your baked goodies, you can buy it by the pound. Be sure to refrigerate after opening.

Date sugar has a texture similar to brown sugar and has a rich, caramel-like flavor. You can use it in:   Continue reading

Lower Your Blood Pressure with Food

Did you know a sweet potato has ___ much more potassium as banana?

Did you know that a sweet potato has 65% more potassium than a banana?

“Low Sodium”, “Salt-Free”, “Reduced Sodium”, “Unsalted”. Living a healthy life today means you don’t shake or utter that four-letter word… SALT. You’ve banished it from your favorite recipes, family table and your heart-healthy pantry. But the dietary approach to managing your blood pressure involves another key mineral — not just salt.

Low levels of potassium in your diet may be just as much of a risk factor for high blood pressure as high levels of sodium. Aim for a balance of less salt and more potassium in your daily eating plan. Here’s why…

Potassium helps to:

  • Relax your blood vessel walls¹ (contributing to more flexible arteries)
  • Lower your blood pressure (by helping you excrete excess sodium through your urine)
  • Reduce damage to your arteries (from the decrease in pressure)

Not only do studies suggest a link between low potassium levels and high blood pressure² but to higher glucose/insulin levels as well. See VIDEO: Potassium and Type 2 Diabetes   

Products containing potassiumEat more potassium-rich foods, such as a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes — not just bananas. Many people think of bananas when they think of foods high in potassium, but they are actually near the bottom of the list of high potassium foods (over 400 mg. potassium per serving):    Continue reading

Recipe | Apple, Peach & Spinach Smoothie

VitamixAfter investing in my super high-performance Vitamix® blender last year, I realized I haven’t been putting it to good use lately. So… it’s ‘Soup and Smoothie Week’ in my house. Please send me your favorite recipes!

Smoothies are an excellent (sneaky) way to get my teen to swallow his dark leafy greens and flaxseeds. :D  Here’s one of my simple, teen-tested, smoothies that makes an ideal breakfast, morning boost or power snack. (If the thought of drinking blended spinach makes you say, “Ewww…”, believe me, you won’t even taste it in this recipe. )    Continue reading

Fit Minute | ‘Bendopnea’ – Do NOT Ignore this Symptom

Do you get short of breath when you bend forward, such as to tie your shoelaces or put on a sock? If so, this is a symptom recently coined as “bendopnea” (pronounced bend-op-nee-ah).

A study of 102 heart failure patients showed bendopnea was present in 29 out of 102 subjects (28%). The average time it took for these symptoms to appear was eight seconds. Some patients thought their bendopnea was due to being out of shape or overweight, but were more likely to have other symptoms of advanced disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure. Heart Failure Fact Sheet

Try this test:  Sit down and bend forward at the waist. Are you short of breath within 30 seconds? If you have bendopnea, you have:

  • Too much fluid in your body
  • Elevated pressure in your heart and your pulmonary veins and capillaries
  • Increased pressure when leaning forward (bending)

Risk Factors for Heart Failure

  • Coronary artery disease (the most common type of heart disease)
  • History of a heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Overweight/obesity

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you have bendopnea, be sure to tell your physician. It can be difficult to assess when you are retaining fluid. This assessment is a simple and noninvasive tool to diagnose excessive fluid retention and compromised blood flow.

Source:
Study by the Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas. Characterization of a novel symptom of advanced heart failure: bendopnea. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014.

How to Store Your Groceries

How to Store Your Groceries

Save money! The most expensive food you can buy is the food that spoils and gets thrown away. This list tells you where to store, how to store and how long the following will keep:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Meat, Fish and Eggs
  • Bread and Dairy

For the complete list: https://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/50-fit-tips-to-eat-fresh/
 

Eat this Food EVERY Day

Puppy eating dog foodTake a tip from your vet. Dogs are eating this wonder food every day, why not you? Wouldn’t you also like a soft, glossy coat and healthy skin? This superseed is known for its immune system benefits and  anti-inflammatory properties.  What is it? It’s ground flaxseed.

Per a study published in the American Journal of Physiology¹, flaxseed is actually considered a ‘functional food’.  That is, it:

  • Has physiological benefits and/or
  • Reduces the risk of chronic disease
  • Has basic nutritional effects

Dietary flaxseed is a rich source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and lignans which may help:

Be sure the flaxseed is ground (not whole) to receive the health benefits.

Be sure the flaxseed is ground (not whole) to receive the health benefits.

1. Decrease inflammation by blocking the release of some pro-inflammatory agents. Studies show atherosclerotic plaque regression can occur when inflammation is inhibited. Once plaque regression occurs, your arterial walls can heal and are better able to open and relax (necessary for healthy heart function). See “Inflammation | Foods that Heal and Harm“.

2. Decrease total cholesterol by 7% and LDL levels or “bad” cholesterol by 10%. (Per a study of menopausal women² that consumed 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day for three months.)

Atherosclerosis disease - plague blocking blood flow3. Reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%. Arteries harden when plaque is deposited in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Some studies suggest that flaxseed omega-3’s keep white blood cells from sticking to the inner lining of the blood vessels.    Continue reading

How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind

Red apple with calories count label isolated on whiteLosing weight should be simple, but it’s become so darn complicated. You’re constantly COUNTING. You’re counting your ‘points’, carbs, calories, and even how many strawberries you’re allowed to eat.

From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you are on a rigid dietary budget. Eek. What could be more exasperating. If you’re like most people, restriction and restraint bring about stress — a precursor to emotional eating. No wonder dieting is a great way to gain weight. What ever happened to the simple pleasure of eating?

Math Made Easier

If you used to break out into a cold sweat when you walked into your math class, brace yourself… because losing weight now is ALL about the math. But thanks to the hundreds of apps, calculators and products on the market, you no longer have to tally every calorie you buy, burn, chew, and crave… it’s all done for you. Does that make it better? NO. It’s made weight management a technological obsession. It’s now easier than ever to get an up-to-the-minute score on your “perceived” success — or failure.    Continue reading

Inflammation | Fish-Free Omega-3’s

Cat fish and mouse isolated on white background“Eat more fish.” How many times have you heard those three words? Well, what if you don’t like fish? Or you’re a vegetarian? No worries. There is a fish-free omega-3 alternative, so you can leave the fish to those who love it.

A third type of omega-3 is found in plant oils  and is known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The body partially converts ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), that is, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

It’s not known if vegetable and fish omega-3’s are equally beneficial, but nevertheless, these fatty acids are essential for good health and most Americans don’t get enough of either type. Aim for at least one rich source of omega-3’s every day (7-11 gm per week is recommended). Continue reading

Inflammation | Sorting Out the Omega-3’s

Plant-based and animal sources of Omega-3 acidsOmega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and consist of three types: EPA, DHA and ALA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are primarily found in certain kinds of fish. Another type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid  (ALA), is found in plants.

Certain types of fish are rich in EPA and DHA. These essential polyunsaturated fats reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, two inflammatory proteins in your body. A six-month study demonstrated that consuming 960 mg/day of EPA and 600 mg/day of DHA lowered CRP.¹

To lower your risk of mercury exposure from eating fish, be sure to choose the right fish*.

Swordfish_dollarphotoclub_75683664*Avoid larger, longer-living fish, such as shark and swordfish, as they tend to accumulate more mercury than the smaller fish like sardines, sole, and trout.

Per Consumer Reports, a 6-oz. serving of:

  • Salmon contains 4 mcg of mercury
  • Canned albacore tuna contains 60 mcg 
  • Swordfish contains 170 mcg 

Oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include:

How much: At least 3 to 4 ounces of fish, twice a week

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you don’t eat fish, you can actually drink it in the form of orange juice! Tropicana® Orange Juice Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice is fortified with actual fish (tilapia, sardine and anchovy). Also, grass-fed beef  is often higher in omega-3 fatty acids than conventional beef due to their diet of grass and foraged foods versus grains, such as corn.

Source:
¹Fish oil supplementation lowers C-reactive protein levels independent of triglyceride reduction in patients with end-stage renal disease. Nutrition Clinical Practice. 2009.

 Stay tuned! Up next… “Fish-Free Omega-3’s

Inflammation | Foods that Heal and Harm

Hello I have High Cholesterol Word CloudChronic, low-level inflammation might be the SILENT culprit behind your aging process. There is growing evidence that there’s a correlation between chronic systemic inflammation and chronic disease, such as:

  • Coronary atherosclerosis (plaque buildup)
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Macular degeneration (a common form of age-related blindness)
  • Asthma
  • Dementia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Some cancers
  • Depression

The Silent Killer   

Chronic, low-level inflammation is quite different from acute inflammation, the body’s healthy response to injury and infection. When you get a bug bite or sprained ankle and the area becomes swollen, warm, painful, and red, your body is trying to defend itself by sending immune cells and key nutrients to the area — this is an acute inflammatory response.    Continue reading

Motivation… What Makes You Move?

balance strong man
If you have trouble sticking to your exercise program, and it’s not due to a lack of desire to get fit, then it could be because the exercise doesn’t fit your personality. Everyone has their own exercise goals and needs, that is, everyone has their own ‘fitness personality’.

Here are five distinct fitness personality types:

  1. Predictable
  2. Methodical
  3. Competitive
  4. Social
  5. Dynamic

#1 – Predictable

  • Thrives on routine
  • Is a reliable, independent and stable exerciser
  • Goes to the gym and develops rigid schedules and regimes

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Due to the lack of variation in your exercise program, you may hit a plateau by doing the same routine and become frustrated. By incorporating resistance, circuit or high intensity interval training and/or adding new activities each week, the positive physical changes may help reboot your enthusiasm.    Continue reading

“Meatless” Foods Made with Meat

Wine, grapes, and grapevine composition

If you steer clear of meat to support your health or a philosophical belief, you might be interested in knowing that eating animal-free may not always be so obvious. There’s no question where a steak came from, but what about beer? Or marshmallows?  Here are twelve processed foods that may seem meatless but are derived from animals (cows, pigs, and/or fish) or may contain some animal by-products.

1. Jell-O® and Candy: such as, gummy candies, Starburst chews, Altoids: Many foods contain gelatin which is a protein derived from the collagen of cow or pig bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin. Gelatins are used as thickening or stabilizing agents in a variety of candies and gelatin-containing desserts.

Orange juice is poured from pitcher into the glass2. Tropicana® Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice: – This juice is enriched with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from a fish source. The ingredient label states it contains fish oil and fish gelatin from tilapia, sardine and anchovy. Ingredients in Tropicana® Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice

3. Peanuts: Some brands of peanuts, such as Planters® Dry Roasted Peanuts, contain gelatin. The gelatin helps the salt, spices and flavorings adhere to the nuts.

Ingredients in Planters® Dry Roasted Peanuts: PEANUTS, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SEA SALT, SPICES (CONTAINS CELERY), DRIED ONION, DRIED GARLIC, PAPRIKA, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUGAR, GELATIN, TORULA YEAST, CORNSTARCH, DRIED CORN SYRUP, MALTODEXTRIN. CONTAINS: PEANUT.    Continue reading

When Life is Hard…

grow

“We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.”

For more inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/quotes-that-move-me/

Fit Minute | How Much Sleep Do You Need?

puppy and kittens sleeping togetherIs there a magic number of hours we should sleep? According to studies on sleep and mortality, insufficient sleep can shorten your life. Sleeping plays an important role in:

  • Healing and repairing blood vessels
  • Maintaining a healthy balance of hormones that control your appetite
  • Controlling blood glucose (sugar)
  • Repairing cells and tissues, thus boosting bone/muscle mass
  • Defending against foreign or harmful substances

You can experience the following immediate and long-term health effects when you don’t get enough sleep:

  • Diminished cognitive function
  • Increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which cause the following:
    1. Increased appetite / See video: Undersleeping and Overeating
    2. Increased body weight
    3. Increased belly fat / See video: Beer Belly Anatomy 101
    4. Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
    5. Increased chronic low-level inflammation which leads to chronic disease (such as, coronary artery disease, dementia, and stroke)
    6. Increased blood pressure

If Seven is Good, Is Eight Better?   

Many people believe that they need at least eight hours of sleep a night for good health. But a study* reveals that sleeping seven (7) hours per night had the best survival rates. In fact, mortality hazard significantly increased when sleeping:

  • ≥8 hrs. (When sleeping >8.5 hrs., risk exceeded 15%.)
  • ≤6 hrs. (When sleeping <4.5 hrs., risk exceeded 15%.)

Causes of death associated with sleep duration include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. ‘Other causes’
  3. Cancer
  4. Stroke (Deaths from stroke were highest in men and women who slept 8, 9, and ≥10 hrs.)
  5. Breast cancer
  6. Colon cancer

Bottom line: Those who reported they slept 6.5 to 7.4 hours had a lower mortality rate than those with shorter or longer sleep.

*Six-year study by American Cancer Society; 1.1 million men/women ages 30-50 to >70 years. Published JAMA Psychiatry article: Mortality Associated With Sleep Duration and Insomnia, 2002.

Fit TV | Undersleeping and Overeating


VIDEO: If you’re running on too little sleep, here’s how it can affect your waistline. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this compact segment of men’s health and fitness news in The Men’s Health Minute.

Fit Minute | Is Alcohol Good for YOU?

Pouring red wine_310px_PDThe answer to this question depends on the dose and the person. Because everyone has unique personal and family histories, the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol will be different for each person. But here’s a recent study to consider before sipping that next drink…

  • New study* finds moderate alcohol consumption (defined as drinking 1-3 drinks/day) may increase risk for atrial fibrillation (A-fib or AF).
  • Wine and liquor (but not beer) are correlated with developing AF.
  • Alcohol in small amounts  and not daily may be okay BUT… if you notice AF symptoms when drinking, STOP to potentially stop AF and prevent long-term damage.

AF or A-fib = Most common heart rhythm that increases risk of stroke and heart failure. This rhythm is irregular, chaotic and often rapid which commonly causes poor blood flow to the body. AF may come and go, or it may not go away which may require emergency treatment.

AF symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain

*12-year study; 79,019 men/women between ages 45 and 83; free of AF. Published in American College of Cardiology, July 2014.

New! Fit Minute™

Apple c heart symbol_128x128Do you suffer from infobesity? Does too much information leave you confused or too exasperated to grasp the how-to’s of optimum health and weight loss? Well, suffer no more. Starting today, posts tagged as Fit Minute are ‘microposts‘ — 60-second doses of healthy living bullet points. Stay informed without overloading your brain. Now you (and I) will have more time to work out. :D

When Organic Produce Pays Off

Organic vs. Conventional - How do you choose?

Organic vs. conventional – Is is worth the price?

Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber and a special treat at any time of year.  However, fruits consistently top the list of produce that are most contaminated by pesticides.

Buying pesticide-free produce is the best choice, but they’re generally more costly or may be unavailable. Knowing when it’s smart to buy organic and when to go conventional, you’ll save yourself some extra money.    Continue reading

Fit Find | Bob’s Red Mill® Muesli

Bob's Red Mill MuesliOat fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar, but my patients often tell me it’s too much trouble for them to cook a pot of oatmeal over the stove (or to clean the mess after it explodes in the microwave). So, they end up eating cold processed cereal for breakfast.

However, cold cereals often contain chemical preservatives and added sugars and salt to make them palatable. Well, here’s a way to eat your healthy oats without cooking them! For more on oatmeal… Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics.

Bob’s Red Mill® Old Country Style Muesli is a cold or hot whole grain cereal. Best of all, it contains nuts, seeds and flax, so there’s no need to add any extras. My favorite way to eat it is cold with milk. It’s much healthier than granola which often contains added fats, sugars, honey, or syrup. Bob’s Red Mill Muesli contains no added fat and is sweetened with just wholesome raisins and healthy bits of dates. (Dates are an excellent source of fiber, potassium and other trace minerals.) Continue reading

Got Milk? Which One is Best?

MilksWhole milk, 2% fat, 1% fat, nonfat, soy, almond, rice, coconut, and chocolate. With so many varieties of milk to choose from at the supermarket, it’s no wonder shoppers are so confused. Get the nutritional facts and find out which milks are the best, acceptable and the worst.

The Best Milk

Organic Skim Cow’s Milk (a.k.a. fat-free or nonfat): Skim milk is rich in key nutrients with none of the saturated fat that’s in 1%, 2% and whole milk. Milk is an excellent source of:   Continue reading

Fit Find | Wild Selections® Salmon Fillets

salmon-fillets-in-olive-oilFresh fish is always best, but may not be accessible or affordable. By stocking your pantry with Wild Selections® Salmon Fillets in Olive Oil, you’ll always have a base for a healthy meal.  They’re not your typically dry, fishy salmon chunks in a can, but instead, they’re tender, flaky and full of flavor. These premium fillets (3.8 oz) are a great source of healthy fats and protein (11 g). Perfect on salads, pasta and right out of the can!

Sodium content is 360 mg due to the added sea salt, so take that into consideration if you’re on a heart-healthy, low-sodium eating plan (1500 mg sodium/day). Also, one can is one serving (70 calories), so your portion is already controlled. :)

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Try these salmon fillets over a bowl of Japanese whole grain brown rice with tofu, fresh veggies and a dollop of wasabi. You’ll have a quick healthy meal in minutes!

Do It Today

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.”  ~Karen Lamb

iStock_000020209230_ExtraSmall_CalendarGoalWhen the subject came up the other day, I realized that it’s been almost a year since my skin cancer diagnosis. It’s unbelievable that an entire year has passed. All is well, by the way, and I am grateful everyday for my dermatologist, Dr. Minh Dang, who found the nondescript lesion and performed my surgery.

Then yesterday, I received a reminder note that it’s time for my annual mammogram. How could that be? If you had asked me, I would have said I had my last one about five or six months ago… max.

Do your days zip by in the flurry of day-to-day activities? When you reflect on the past year, do you wonder where the time went? You vowed to lose 15 pounds a year ago, but ended up gaining 10. Sound familiar?

If you have goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfill, and things you want to experience, then start TODAY. It doesn’t have to be anything monumental — just one tiny step closer to getting where you want to be. By doing so, a year from now you won’t wish you had started today.

If you want to lose weight, then add a scoop of whole grains to your plate TODAY. If you want to ‘get in shape’, then start a habit of putting your shoes, socks and sunscreen by the door TODAY. Whatever it is you want to do, start now… and enjoy the journey. =)

♥ Daily Dose | How to Shop for Whole Grains

Is this a whole grain?

Is this a whole grain?

Following an eating plan that centers around whole-grain foods versus refined grains can help you reduce belly fat and other health risks.  See Eat Your Way to a Trimmer Waist. But shopping for whole grains can be confusing with all the varying descriptors. So here’s a guide to help you decipher what’s whole grain and what’s not.

To qualify as a whole grain, 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present. All grains start out whole, but during the refining process, the bran and germ are removed. As a general rule, look for the key word “whole”, such as “whole grain”, “100% whole grain”, or “whole wheat” when shopping for a whole-grain product and see that it’s listed as the first ingredient on the food label.

Watch for These Words

Beware of the following product ingredient descriptions as they MAY NOT be whole grain:   Continue reading

Karen Owoc Named in Regional Journalism Award

SanFranciscoPeninsulaPressClub_500The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club held its 37th Annual Professional Journalism Awards Competition on May 31 and presented 192 awards of excellence in eight divisions and 41 categories. Judges included media professionals from Press Clubs of Cleveland, Florida, Houston, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orange County, and San Diego.

Karen Owoc and her colleagues, Kevin Wing, Keith Sanders, Darryl Compton and Patty Zubov, were recognized for their contributions to “Off Camera” which received First Place in the Public Relations/Newsletter category. “Off Camera” is a monthly publication of the Northern California Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (host of the Emmy® Awards) and features media profiles, broadcast news, events, technology, and Karen Owoc’s monthly health column, The Health Reporter.

They are joined by other award recipients, such as KQED 9, KCBS Radio,  the Daily News Group, and San Francisco Business Times. http://sfppc.blogspot.com/2014/05/37th-annual-greater-bay-area-journalism.html

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is a professional journalism organization that serves the Greater Bay Area in various news and public relations media.

 

♥ Daily Dose | Eat Your Way to a Trimmer Waist

Beer Belly_istock_000015992739xsmall_A large waistline (abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape”) puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes — all of which can affect your longevity. Belly fat is also one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. See Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Katcher, H.I. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2008; vol 87: pp 79-90), found that a calorie-controlled diet* rich in whole grains decreased extra fat from the waistlines of obese subjects with metabolic syndrome compared to dieters who ate refined-grain foods.

*Daily energy needs minus 500 calories per day were calculated to produce a calorie deficit needed to achieve weight loss.

The Whole-Grain Diet

A grain product is whole grain if a “whole grain” is listed as the first ingredient on the food label. By following the whole-grain eating plan, participants lost more abdominal fat than another group that ate the same diet, but ate refined grains instead.

To replicate the study, eat the following daily for 12 weeks (the participants lost 12-14 pounds):   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Golf and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Did You Know…

golf-course-landscape_PDGolf courses are the fifth most common place for people to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops functioning. According to the American Heart Association, a golfer is one of over 380,000 people in the United States each year to suffer from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest… and less than seven percent survive. The other four most common places for SCA are airports, shopping malls, stadiums, and jails.

How to Be Prepared

The worst case scenario is having a cardiac event on a distant hole. On your next golf outing, it’s a good idea to do the following when you schedule your tee-off time:   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or obesity syndrome, is the name of a group of risk factors that increases your risk for:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) also known as atherosclerotic heart disease – Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque (a waxy substance) builds up inside your coronary arteries and hardens and narrows your arteries. The narrowing reduces blood flow to your heart muscle and can result in chest pain, a heart attack, heart damage, or even death.
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Linked to Overweight, Obesity and Inactivity

Fat Man_istock_000012609799xsmall_800x450Your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes increases with each of the following metabolic risk factors. You have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these measurements.   Continue reading

Get Heart Smart

February is Heart Awareness Month

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month — an annual reminder to raise your awareness about heart disease and how you can prevent it.

Here at The Health Reporter, you can find a variety of posts related to cardiac health that can help you and that you can share with people important to you.

It’s easy! To find heart-related articles and videos, go to Categories (left column of this blog page) then scroll down to “Heart Health | Cardiac Rehab” and click on it. You’ll be able you to share any post via email, Facebook or other favorite social media sites.

Do Not Give Up

Quotes_Do Not Give Up

“Do not give up. The beginning is always the hardest.”

For more inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/quotes-that-move-me/

♥ Daily Dose | Why You Need a Strong Core

If you were to ask how you could quickly reverse the aging process, I would suggest you start by developing your “core”. Your core spans muscles, bones, and joints in your abdomen, back, buttocks, sides, and hips/pelvis. Weak, tight or unbalanced core muscles can affect your ability to move, work, function independently and enjoy physical activities.

The major core muscles to strengthen are your:

  1. Abdominals – Stabilize your core, twist your trunk, and allow you to bend forward at the waist and to each side.
  2. Back - Stabilize your core and allow you to straighten up, bend backward, forward, and to each side.
  3. Hip Adductors - Pull your thigh towards the midline of your body.
  4. Hip Flexors – Stabilize/rotate your pelvis, stabilize your body when you stand, and allow you to bend at the waist and hike up each leg.
  5. Gluteals or “glutes” - Extend/rotate your hip, rotate/abduct your thigh. (Abductors push your thigh away from the midline of your body.)

Why You Need a Strong, Stable Core:

  • Heart Running on TreadmillMakes it possible to stand upright and move on two feet which enhances your balance and stability.
  • Is essential to sit and move (e.g., walk, jump, dance, and run).
  • Helps prevent falls.
  • Distributes the stresses of weight bearing which protects your back and reduces back pain.
  • Improves athletic performance. (Powerful, rapid muscle contractions start from the center of your body out.)
  • Improves posture.
  • Enhances arm and leg function which helps build powerful arms and legs.   Continue reading

Fit Find | Low-Carb Pasta Substitute

If you’re a cardiac patient, dieter or diabetic on a low-carb eating plan and you CRAVE pasta, House Foods® Tofu Shirataki is a tasty (and gluten-free) alternative you can get excited about. It has a unique texture, but it’s still very ‘noodle-like’ and satisfying to the pasta-deprived palate.

Tofu shiratakiShirataki noodles are Japanese slippery glass noodles made with konnyaku (a member of the Japanese yam family). “Tofu Shirataki” is made by blending tofu and the flour of konnyaku to soften the texture and make it more appealing to traditional pasta fanatics.

So if you’ve missed eating noodles, you can eat them now — guilt free. I have to agree with the products’ marketers on this one in that Tofu Shirataki is a “pasta lover’s dream”. It has little flavor on its own which makes it a versatile element in any dish. They’re packed in water and there are four different shapes to choose from: fettuccine, elbow, angel hair, and spaghetti. (I prefer their larger, flat fettuccine shape over the spaghetti.)

Tofu shirataki has the following nutrients per 4-oz. serving:   Continue reading

Fit Find | Monte Bene® Pasta Sauces

Monte Bene Pasta Sauce_05500b5f49817700b4cf933bb1ece114One of the problems with using a prepared spaghetti sauce is that they contain added sugar and are high in sodium. Here’s a Fit Find you can use on anything that needs sauce, such as your favorite pasta, fish, or chicken.

The Monte Bene® Farm Fresh Tomato Basil, Garlic Marinara, and Spicy Marinara Pasta Sauces are delicious as well as truly “all natural” — just tomatoes, Italian San Marzano tomatoes, fresh onions (not dehydrated), extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and garlic, and seasonings.

Each sauce contains just 240 mg sodium per 1/2 cup serving, less than 1 g sugar, and 40 calories. Other commercial sauces can contain up to three times the sodium and up to 10 times the sugar.

Monte Bene® sauces are also reasonably priced ($4.99 per 24-oz jar at Whole Foods). To find out more: http://www.montebene.com. Click here for more Fit Finds.

♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes

Question: What’s your take on Stevia as a sugar substitute? I use a flavored coffee creamer (French vanilla or Irish cream) in my coffee and would like to add some kind of sweetener. From John S., San Ramon, CA

Answer: First, the flavored coffee creamers are already sweetened.  The primary ingredients of commercial creamers are oil, sugar and artificial flavor/color. See my post on Creaming Up Your Coffee for healthier alternatives.

SteviaSecond, almost all of my patients with type 2 diabetes are hooked on calorie-free sugar substitutes, struggling with their weight and have cardiovascular disease. Coincidence? Maybe not. Studies on artificial sweeteners show these compounds contribute to weight gain, sugar cravings and obesity. Also, compared to people who avoid diet or regular soft drinks, diet soda drinkers also appear to have elevated risks for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease 
  • Metabolic syndrome (the name of a cluster of risk factors that occur together and increase your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

But It’s “Natural”…

Stevia leaf

For centuries, stevia was used medicinally as a cardiac stimulant.

Stevia is a plant native to South America, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf, and is processed to produce a calorie-free sugar substitute. Because it’s derived from a plant, food companies market stevia as a “natural” sweetener to appeal to dieters, diabetics and health-conscious individuals who presume it must be healthier and safer than those originating in a lab. But unless you are eating stevia in its whole-leaf or crude form (which is NOT FDA-approved due to possible health effects), it isn’t all that “natural”.   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Arterial BlockageWhen you walk or climb stairs, do you have… cramping, pain, aching, or tiredness in the muscles of your calves, thighs, buttocks, or hips? If so, you could have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of arteries (blockages) in your pelvis and legs.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Sores on lower extremities that won’t heal
  • Toenail color change

When PAD worsens, it’s typical to develop ‘exertional leg pain’, a symptom known as claudication. It occurs when you’re exerting yourself and feels like a muscle cramp. These symptoms usually go away after resting, but return when you walk again.

Do NOT try to “walk off the pain” or “tough it out”. Your limbs need to reoxygenate. Claudication does NOT go away if you continue to walk — it is only relieved by rest. 

The pain is no different from ischemia (lack of oxygen) of your heart in that the delivery of oxygen does not meet the metabolic oxygen demand of working muscles. What makes it worse when you’re walking is your blood has to move ‘upstream’ through narrowed arteries in your lower extremities to get back to your heart for more oxygen.   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics

For good health, aim for getting in 40 gm of fiber every day — but all fibers are not alike. If you’re a diabetic, cardiac patient or at risk for heart disease, it’s a good idea to know the difference.

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re the parts that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble and insoluble. They’re both important, but they have different properties (how they react with water) and have a different effect on your body.

NOTE: Since some fibers absorb water, be sure to drink more fluids as you increase your fiber intake.

Oatmeal

Oat fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar.

Soluble Fiber

  • Dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel in the intestines which slows down digestion.
  • Helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.*
  • Slows the emptying of food through the G.I. (gastrointestinal) tract, so it helps control blood sugar and diabetes.
  • Makes you feel full longer which helps control body weight.
  • May reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.  

Did You Know…

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge“. It soaks up cholesterol-laden bile salts in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. To produce more bile acids (compounds needed to transport and absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins), your liver must use the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. That means there’s less to collect and harden on the walls of your arteries!   Continue reading

Fit Find | Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/FlourHere’s a nutty alternative to using white or wheat flour… almond meal/flour. It’s lower in carbohydrates and high in fiber which makes it better for diabetics (won’t spike your blood sugar).

Almonds contain nut phytonutrients and are a good source of fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. Nut phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have been shown to help fight free-radical damage,  prevent inflammation, and lower blood cholesterol. That is, nuts can reduce your risk of death from major chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. See ♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q.?

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour is nothing more than super finely ground whole, blanched sweet almonds. That’s it…. no other additives! But besides being super healthy, nuts are also calorie dense, so almond flour is higher in calories than regular flours. If you want the benefits of the nuts with fewer calories, you can substitute 1/3 of the flour in your favorite healthy muffin or cookie recipe with almond meal/flour.

Compare the nutritional information from a 1/4 cup serving of these different flours:   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | What Makes a Good Breakfast?

Empty gas tank_PDAre you running on an empty tank? People who start their day without an a.m. meal often feel depleted, overeat later in the day, and make some not-so-smart decisions as they go along. Eating a good breakfast sets the stage for making healthy choices that will power up your body as well as your brain.

Why Eat Breakfast?

As you sleep, your body works hard to digest last night’s dinner. By the time you wake up, your body and brain demand fuel.

Three Breakfast Components

Morning menus are filled with options — from breakfast wraps to smoothies in every color — and need not be complicated. Breakfast can be simple, quick and satisfying. Be sure it includes a heart-healthy mix of whole grains, protein, and healthy fat to satisfy you as well as sustain you.   Continue reading

Mended Hearts® – Guest Speaking Dates

Mended Hearts logoMended Hearts, Inc. is a national non-profit cardiac support group that is dedicated to inspiring hope, offering encouragement, and improving the quality of life for heart patients, their families and caregivers. The organization was started by Dr. Dwight E. Harken, a heart surgeon, with three of his open heart surgery patients in January 1951.

Over 60 years later, there are 300 Mended Hearts chapters in the U.S. and Canada where heart patients meet monthly for ongoing social, emotional and practical support. They are partners with over 460 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics. Mended Hearts offers services to heart patients through visiting programs, support group meetings and educational forums.

A few months ago I had the honor of speaking to an engaging group of heart patients at their Oakland chapter (#188) that meets one Saturday a month at the Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. I talked about the “Keys to Cardiac Health” and covered the top eight strategies to living a longer and stronger life.

Since then, I have been invited to speak at the following Mended Hearts chapter meetings. Continue reading