For some, the definition of diet and exercise means to slim down to a desired weight. While a healthy diet and regular exercise routine is a necessary component in accomplishing weight loss, it’s also vital to your overall health! Choosing the right foods combined with regular activity can reduce your risk of illness and disease, as well as improve mental and emotional health.
It’s no secret that good health habits can be hard to develop and maintain from time to time, but that’s where we can help! From cancer prevention and bone health to staving off heart disease, here’s an arsenal of tips and information to help you eat and exercise your way to a healthy lifestyle and a better you!
Cancer-Fighting Food Facts
These cancer-fighting ‘superfoods’ should fly and wear a cape! Incorporating these foods into your diet will pack a punch of health. So, give your grocery list an audit and put these illness-preventing foods on your plate!
- Raise Your Antioxidant Ante
Did you know eating vegetables that are high in antioxidants such as artichokes, basil, and cilantro can help fight against skin cancer? They are packed with agents that stave off free radicals and prevent damage to the skin. So besides diligently applying sunscreen, pack your fridge full of these delicious antioxidant-rich foods.
- Keep Your Plate Colorful
Fruits such as watermelon, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and tomatoes are also high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only are they a delicious snack, but it’s believed that they can also slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
- Immune System Boosters
You may want to start embracing your “garlic breath!” A diet rich with garlic can stimulate your immune system’s natural defenses against a variety of cancers. Not a huge garlic lover? Don’t worry! Red peppers, spinach, papaya, and kiwi are also great foods to eat to put your immune system on super blast!
- Eat “Cruciferous-ly”!
Yes, we said “cruciferous.” It’s an odd word but, according to the American Cancer Society, men who have a diet high in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower have a lower risk in developing prostate cancer.
Serve Up a Plate of Heart-Health!
Establishing a diet consisting of heart-healthy foods can lower blood pressure and keep your cholesterol levels up to snuff. Here are some sustenances that’ll get your heart pumping and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- The Cream of the Crop!
Keep a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables in your diet! Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals as well as fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Remember, 5 cups of fruits and veggies a day may keep the doctor away! A wholesome idea - add some dark leafy greens to your salads and blueberries to your oatmeal. Your heart will thank you for it!
- Chew the “Good Fat”
Cast your hook and catch some heart-healthy fish! High in Omega-3s, salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and tuna contain “good fat” that can reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and slow plaque build-up in arteries. Not only can adding these to your diet minimize the risk of heart disease, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties which can help relieve arthritis pain and aid in Alzheimer prevention. Not a seafood lover? Not to worry, foods such as broccoli, spinach, and walnuts are also rich in Omega-3s.
Feed Your Muscles and Bones!
Your musculoskeletal system is your best friend that’ll always hold you up - if you feed them right! Without muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments that are working optimally, you may find everyday activities challenging. So, here’s how you can eat your way to better movement!
- One Tough Egg!
Eggs are a protein-packed meal! Your body uses protein to form strong muscles, and build the collagen and elastin it needs to keep your tendons and ligaments strong!Other sources of protein include chicken breast, salmon and lean cuts of beef. Adding these protein-packed foods to your diet can help build healthy bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin.
- Go Bananas!
If you are experiencing muscle cramps or spasms after a workout, you may be experiencing an electrolyte imbalance. Try eating foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, oranges and avocados. If muscle cramps are persistent and won’t go away after replenishing your body, then talk to your doctor.
- Make No Bones About It!
To build strong bones, choose calcium-rich dairy foods. Some smart choices are fat-free milk and yogurt. Though many opt for dairy foods to satisfy their daily calcium intake, there are non-dairy options as well. Spinach, collard greens, carrots, figs and sweet potatoes are all foods that are high in calcium.
Exercise Your Way to Health!
Along with eating the right foods, exercising also plays a major role in preventing illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Strengthening muscles and keeping tendons and ligaments limber can help manage chronic conditions such as back and arthritis pain as well as aid in injury prevention.
Here are some exercises that will get your heart pumping and strengthen your muscles all while giving your body an immune system boost to fight off and prevent disease.
- Interval Training
Interval training is not only good for preventing heart disease, but diabetes as well. Think bursts of high-intensity exercises combined with longer periods of active recovery. For example, if you walk, alternate your pace by doing three minutes at normal speed and then one minute of brisk walking. The benefits: raising and lowering your heart rate continuously improves vascular function and clears fat and sugar from the blood.
Namaste! Yoga is great for lowering blood pressure and improving on the elasticity of your blood vessels. The stress-reducing nature of yoga exercises also works your core and can lean and tone your muscles!
- Non-impact Sports
For those with joint issues, non-impact sports can give you a total body workout along with providing health benefits for a stronger cardiovascular system. Swimming and kayaking are good examples of non-impact sports that are easy on the joints.
Making the Changes!
Bad eating habits and lack of exercise can lead to obesity, increased risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Making small changes now can motivate you to move toward better health choices for a long and fit life.
Remember that eating just one particular type of food will not prevent cancer, heart disease or any other ailments on its own. Along with exercise, a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans can help lower your risk in developing many types of cancers and other illnesses. For more information about nutrition and exercise, Parrish Medical Center offers an abundance of services
to meet your health and wellness needs.