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Author: Karen Owoc
Hi! I'm a clinical exercise physiologist, cancer exercise trainer, and healthy lifestyle expert. As a TV host/producer and health & fitness contributor for TV, radio, and print, my goal is to help you cultivate healthy habits in a distinctive, fun and artful way.
If you resolved to lose weight at the beginning of the year, but haven’t reached your goal, here’s some good news. You really don’t have to lose that much weight to reap huge health benefits.
How Losing Just Five Pounds Boosts Your Health
Lower Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association says if you are overweight, losing as little as five pounds may help lower blood pressure.
Lowering blood pressure reduces risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, and kidney failure.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says for every 20 pounds you lose, you can drop systolic pressure 5-20 points. That is, drop a pound, drop a point.
Improve Urinary Incontinence (UI)
Losing weight reduces risk factors for many medical conditions, especially heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Now, there’s a new benefit that can be added to the long list of health benefits: reduced urinary incontinence (involuntary urination). About 25 million Americans have urinary incontinence and about 25% are men. About half of U.S. women over age 65 leak.
Causes and Cures for UI
Gravity, aging tissue, and hormonal changes all contribute to urinary incontinence.
Increased pressure on the bladder during pregnancy and as well a weakened or stretched pelvic floor from childbirth can cause incontinence.
Losing five pounds can reduce the stress on the pelvic floor and reduce incontinence significantly.
A UCSF study of over 338 women (average age of 53), those who lost an average of just three pounds reported 28% fewer urinary incontinence episodes. Those that lost 17 pounds had 47% fewer episodes. These outcomes improved quality of life measures. The study strongly suggests weight loss decreases incontinence episodes, and a reduction of intra-abdominal pressure (due to central obesity, i.e., belly fat) on the bladder and pelvic floor is possibly why.
Weight loss is an effective, nonsurgical, and noninvasive treatment and should be considered a first line therapy for incontinence. Incontinence drugs have side effects (e.g., dry mouth, dry skin, dry eyes, constipation, upset stomach), and it has been reported that 50% of women discontinue drug treatment within one year because of the side effects.
Improve and Prevent Arthritis Symptoms
Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
When you carry extra pounds it puts huge pressure on your joints and puts you at risk of osteoarthritis (degenerative “wear and tear arthritis”).
In knee osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. As the cartilage wears away, the protective space between the bones decreases. The deterioration of the “shock absorber” can result in bone rubbing on bone, pain, stiffness, loss of movement in the affected joint, and painful bone spurs.
Wake Forest University conducted an 18-month diet and exercise study on sedentary, overweight, older adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. They concluded that for each pound of weight lost, each knee bears four pounds less pressure per step.
Amount of Knee Pressure When Walking
If you lose five pounds, you reduce 20 pounds of pressure bearing down on each knee which can lessen pain.
When walking one mile (assuming 2,000 strides per mile), a five-pound loss in weight would be a reduction of more than 40,000 pounds of accumulated pressure on each knee.
Walking on an incline, walking up/down stairs, squatting, and jogging significantly reduce pressure on each knee even more.
Fit Tip:Aim for losing a little weight versus a lot. It’s less daunting and the scientific evidence is clear. You’ll receive the health payoffs long before you drop large amounts of weight.
A 15-year study on “added sugar” and heart disease found that participants were twice as likely to die from heart disease who consumed 25 percent or more of daily calories from added sugar compared to those that consumed 10 percent or less. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about sugar and its link to aging.
Although you may not see heart attacks and strokes until middle age, the process of cardiovascular disease can begin early in life — often as children. If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caretaker of children, this information is vital to their longevity. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about how to identify who’s at risk and what can be done to prevent or delay it.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Children
In a study of young American children, over 50% of children aged 10-14 years showed evidence of early heart disease (fatty streaks and plaque accumulated in the arteries). A higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with:
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Family history of CVD
Inactivity at any age can lead to lifelong habits and result in developing chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Better in School
An American College of Sports Medicine research study found that kids that engage in vigorous-intensity activity were better able to concentrate and even exhibited fewer behavioral problems than kids that participated in moderate-intensity activity.
For good health, you’ve probably been told to eat more fiber — but all fibers are not alike. If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke, such as belly fat, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, it’s a good idea to know the difference. Here’s how fiber in general can add years to your life.
Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re types of carbohydrates that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber refers to carbohydrates, such as:
Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble fiber and insolublefiber.They’re different in how they react with water — and because of that, they have a different effect on your body.
Soluble Fiber – “The Cholesterol Sponge”
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel (soft and sticky) in the intestines which:
Helps lower LDL cholesterol* (the “bad” cholesterol). Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol-laden bile in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. Increasing fiber just 7 gm a day reduced stroke risk by 7% and heart disease risk by 9%.
Slows down digestion which helps control blood sugar and diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.
Helps control body weight by making you feel full longer. It slows the emptying of food through the gastrointestinal tract. An additional 10 grams of soluble fiber per day reduced visceral fat by 4% over a 5-year period.
*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.
Sources High in Soluble Fiber
Many foods have both soluble AND insoluble fibers with some having predominantly more of one than the other.
Oats, oat bran
Beans, split peas, lentils
Apples, avocados, pears, citrus fruits (but not fruit juices)
Insoluble Fiber – “Nature’s Broom”
Insoluble fiber acts like “nature’s broom”. It sweeps through your gastrointestinal tract and helps prevent constipation and colon cancer. Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water, but absorbs water as it travels through your digestive tract which eases elimination, so it: Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life”→
One of my friends reminded me that I need to stop and smell the roses once in a while. Oh my gosh! I took his advice and discovered that my beautiful camellias had bloomed. Thank you, my friend, for reminding me that life goes on and moments pass by whether or not we pause and take them in. I wonder what else I missed…