Fit Minute | Why Pumpkin Promotes Anti-Aging

pumpkin_adobestock_117487967‘Tis the season for pumpkin! Here are the nutrition bullet points that make them well worth eating:

  • Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene (an important antioxidant).
  • Beta-carotene (a bright orange plant pigment) is converted to vitamin A in your body.

Vitamin A is for Anti-Aging

Foods rich in beta-carotene:

  • May reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.
  • Offer protection against heart disease and some degenerative aspects of aging, including cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Keep your skin soft and smooth. Vitamin A rebuilds body tissues and helps control the production of sebum (oil) that lubricates your skin.  If you’re deficient in this vitamin, you’ll end up with dry, scaly skin.
  • Destroy free radicals, that is, the by-products of oxidation from normal metabolic processing. These little scavengers cause cellular damage and are responsible for aging skin.
  • Attack the free radicals that break down your skin’s elastin and collagen – the vital components of youthful, firm and resilient skin.

pumpkin-seeds_adobestock_24256286Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a good souce of fiber and healthy fats and an excellent source of iron — especially for vegans. A handful of pepitas (about 85 little seeds) contain about 1 mg. of iron. That’s about 4% of the recommended amount of iron you need each day.

Iron is essential due to its oxygen-carrying capacity. An iron deficiency can impair muscle function, normal function of the nervous and immune systems, and can limit your work capacity during exercise.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Roast and season pumpkin seeds and kernels for a bone-building high-fiber snack. To spice them up, sprinkle them with garlic powder, cayenne and smoked paprika. Also, try some Super Moist Pumpkin Bars for a boost of vitamin A!

Fit Minute | The New Definition of Being Fit

Group running on treadmills

Being “fit” is no longer about how much time you spend working out, but how much time you spend sitting as well. A study by the American Cancer Society compared people who sat less than three hours per day with those that sat more than six hours per day. The results were quite dramatic.

If you’re physically active and sit more than 6 hours per day, you are:

  • 18% more likely to die if you’re a man.
  • 37% more likely to die if you’re a woman.

If you’re NOT physically active and sit more than 6 hours per day, you are:

  • 48% more likely to die if you’re a man.
  • 94% more likely to die if you’re a woman.

Over 123,000 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) were studied and none had a history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema or other lung disease at the start of the study.  Here are the results after 14 years:    Continue reading “Fit Minute | The New Definition of Being Fit”

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 | ‘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.

Heart failure, often referred to as congestive heart failure or (CHF), is a serious condition, but people often mistakenly think that it means that the heart has stopped beating. Heart failure occurs when your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to maintain blood flow to other organs in your body. The reoxygenated blood from your lungs starts building up inside your lungs when your heart can’t keep up with ejecting it to other organs in need. The first signs and symptoms that you’ll notice are:

  • Shortness of breath (worse with exertion and/or while lying down)
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Swelling in the lower extremities (legs, ankles, feet)

Chest pain, including angina, is not typically a complaint with CHF. 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
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Excess alcohol intake

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.

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.