Category Archives: Putting It All Together

Sesame Skin Street

Hi, and welcome to Sesame Skin Street! Skin health is brought to you today by the letters A, C, and E and by the number 3.

sesame skinLet’s learn the ABCs of eating for skin health. Ready?

sesame aA is for Vitamin A which helps the skin cells grow. Making new cells is how your skin repairs itself. Beta carotene converts into Vitamin A, so you should eat orange foods. Carrots are orange. What other foods are orange? Oranges, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Good job, you get an A…a Vitamin A+, to be exact! Your parents are so proud.

sesame c

C is for Vitamin C which helps synthesize collagen. Collagen keeps your skin smooth and taught. Strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, and broccoli are high in vitamin C. C is for Collagen, kids! You get a sticker.

 

sesame eE is for Vitamin E.

3 is for Omega 3. E and 3 work together to boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect your skin from skin damaging, wrinkle causing free radicals. They’re found in similar foods such as nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil.

 

Sing a song with me!

sesame 3A C E, 3 letters spell ace

Keep skin pretty on your face

Repair skin cells at a fast pace

Eat these foods after saying grace

Healthy fats are a power base

Leafy greens like nature’s lace

For orange foods we’ll make a case

Keep skin healthy in its place

By eating foods with 3 and ACE

 

Sesame Skin Street has been brought to you by the letters A, C, and E and the number 3.

 

And his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”

2 Kings 5:14b-15a

 

Images courtesy of sesamestreet.org

Advertisements

Skin a Deer, I mean Doe

skin sound of musicDid you know that healthy weight loss habits like exercise and drinking plenty of water help keep your skin healthy and looking great? Next week we’ll look closer at foods that support skin health, but for today, we’re going to sing a silly song. This is to the tune of “Doe a Deer” from The Sound of Music.

 

skin musicSkin, an organ, the largest organ

Covers you from head to toe!

Skin, with pores, layers, and hair

needs hydration every day.

vitamins like A and E

give it health that you can see.

Skin protects you from disease

and that brings us back to skin!

 

“I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:6

 

Images courtesy of The Wrap (sound of music), musicnotes.com (music)

Eating to Reduce Hypertension and Lose Weight

We’ve been learning about heart health for a while now and some of you may be wondering why a weight loss blog would spend so much time on one organ. It happens to be a very important organ, but still, what’s up with that? The answer is simple: the same habits that improve the health of your heart also help you lose weight. Exercising regularly, sleeping 7-8 hours each night, eating plenty of plant foods like vegetables…the weight loss habits and the heart health habits go hand in hand.

If you’re losing weight by developing healthy habits, I want you to know you’re getting a bonus: your heart is getting healthier every day. Lucky you! It’s not just about how great you look on the outside; you’re looking sexy on the inside too.

 

hypertension 6The Three Musketeers are great dinner companions so invite them onto your plate every chance you get. (If you invite Salt, do so cautiously; Salt belches and forgets his wallet, so a little of him goes a long way.) The Three Musketeers—or Three MagCalPots—are high in magnesium, calcium, and potassium which work to lower blood pressure which helps keep your heart beating long and strong. The following foods are high in all three MagCalPot elements:

Leafy greens

Seeds and nuts

Yogurt or kefir

Legumes

Fatty fish like salmon

Broccoli

Figs

Bananas and avocados are high in two of the three, so they can tag along. This list looks suspiciously like the ingredients in Fat Fish Fiber Fruit™. I wonder if the Three Musketeers are shareholders.

 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Obesity: Post Mortem is a Must-See

obesity post mortemObesity: Post Mortem is fascinating. It’s not for everyone, perhaps: there are people who would rather bathe in kale chips for a year than see a dead body cut open. But for those who can stomach it, I highly recommend watching it. The show offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of an obese body. I’ve researched heart disease and type two diabetes for blog series on those topics and I have to tell you, I felt like Buddy in Elf when he sees Santa: “I know him, I know him!” except I was yelling “I read about that! I read about that!” at the TV.

It’s one thing to read about the heart working harder when you have high blood pressure and it’s another thing to see the physical heart of a woman who had high blood pressure and see how thin and weak the muscle was by the end.

It’s one thing to read about how high blood pressure (and a weakening heart) leads to fluid build up in the lungs and it’s another thing to see a mortician squeeze water out of those lungs.

It’s one thing to read about fatty liver disease and it’s another to see what an enlarged fatty liver looks like, each microscopic cell so full of yellow fat that the organ appears orange-pink instead of blood red.

obesity post 2Obesity: Post Mortem proves that obesity does, indeed, affect internal organs. I don’t need to have faith that it does because I’ve seen it. That strengthens my faith in the logical opposite: exercising, drinking water, eating lots of vegetables and fruits and losing weight in the process is helping my organs.

Obesity: Post Mortem is a strong motivator. Whether you’re working to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight, Obesity makes you want to stick with those healthy habits. Living a healthy lifestyle takes faith that what you’re doing makes a difference. You can’t always see the effect of your efforts right away. You can do everything right– eat well, exercise, sleep adequately, drink water– and not loose a pound for weeks. You have to have faith that your body is reaping the benefits cell by cell, system by system, on a level you can’t see yet.

So, pull up a chair, skip the popcorn (it is an autopsy, after all), and enjoy the show!

 

From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the Lord: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them. Leviticus 3:3

 

Images courtesy of Netflix.

Take Heart: Stress and Heart Health

“Limit stress” is probably the most difficult heart healthy habit to adopt because stressful situations are often out of our control. Many times you know exactly what is causing your stress but there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes there are things you can do: change to a less stressful job, de-clutter your living spaces, send the children to Grandma’s for a month, break a big problem down into small actionable steps, etc., but sometimes all you can do is exercise and pray.

Why pray? It’s out of your control, but nothing is out of God’s control.

heart stressWhy exercise? Ongoing stress isn’t good for your heart because it raises your blood pressure. Exercise lowers your blood pressure therefore helping to “destress” your body. Stress saps your energy, exercise increases it. Stress robs you of sleep, exercise improves sleep. Stress produces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, exercise reduces those and produces endorphins which are to the brain what chocolate is to womankind.

Sometimes looking at heart health can stress you out too. All of the do’s and don’ts can be overwhelming, especially if you have a long way to go to make your cardiologist proud. You don’t have to change everything all at once; you’ll drive yourself crazy and give up. The goal is a heart healthy lifestyle, so adding one healthy habit at a time and building on your progress is a good way to go. (NOTE: if you have had a heart attack or stroke, ignore me and do what your doctor tells you! If s/he says you should change many habits at once, do it! Those of us who haven’t almost died sometimes need a gradual approach because we’re lazy or stubborn or don’t think it’ll happen to us. Silly us.)

heart stress 2Here’s the list of recommendations to keep your heart healthy:

  1. Sleep 7-8 hours each night.
  2. Eat plants: Roughly half of what you eat should be plants: fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains (as in “not processed and looks like a grain”: rice, oatmeal, lentils, quinoa, etc., not bread or pasta even if they’re labeled “whole grain”.)
  3. Exercise 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week.
  4. Don’t smoke.
  5. Limit stress.

Put a check next to the ones you already do. Great job! Now look at the ones you didn’t check. Which one is the most important for you to focus on first? If you’re pre-diabetic, start with exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, replace half of what’s on your plate with plants. If you’re too tired to change your life, start with sleep. What measurable goals can you set to get that habit rolling? What specifically can you do today?

The holidays can be a stressful time. Make time to move your body and give yourself the gift of a stress free heart.

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (said Jesus) John 14:1

 

References:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax

 

Images courtesy of: Amazon.com (stress balls), health.harvard.edu (stethoscope)

With All my Heart: Hypertension and Heart Health (Part 2)

Last week we talked about global body shipping and how high blood pressure (also called hypertension) can damage our body. This week we’ll look at the leading causes of hypertension and what we can do about them.

Atherosclerosis – This is a big word that I like to call Gather-old-Playdoh-sis. You know how new Playdoh is soft and pliable and so pretty you just want to eat it? That’s how blood vessels are supposed to be. Over time Playdoh hardens and shrinks as it dries out and that’s what happens in your blood vessels. Blood vessel linings gets pot holes, cholesterol fills in the pot holes and hardens there like Playdoh, and then your blood vessel can’t expand and contract easily like it used to.

Atherosclerosis can be prevented or slowed by exercising and eating a diet high in plant parts. Diet and exercise prevent pot holes from forming and reduce the amount of fat Playdoh in the blood looking for a pot hole. Science isn’t sure if hypertension increases atherosclerosis or if atherosclerosis increases hypertension. They do know that exercise and eating greens helps decrease both. It’s kind of like the “What came first: the chicken or the egg?” debate. Answer? Doesn’t matter; they’re both delicious. Eat your greens and move your body and don’t worry about it.

Sleep Apnea – More than half of people with hypertension also have sleep apnea, so scientists are pretty sure there’s a connection. (Let’s face it: when we talk about the human body, there is always a connection.) High blood pressure can trigger sleep apnea which causes poor sleep or a lack of sleep which raises your blood pressure which can trigger sleep apnea. A doctor can direct you to a helpful mask to improve your sleep. You can also lose weight and exercise.

Smoking and Drinking – Stop smoking and don’t drink more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day. Yes, I am a party pooper.

Too much salt – Remember how your blood vessel walls are made of smooth muscle? Blood pressure is all about those wall muscles being able to relax to let blood flow. For the walls to relax and contract regularly, they need regulators: namely the Three Musketeers (or the Three MagCalPots): magnesium, calcium, and potassium. There is a connection between hypertension and insufficient magnesium, calcium, and potassium and it may have something to do with salt.

You see, Salt is supposed to be the fourth musketeer, but he went off and recruited so many many many of his friends that they turned evil and wrought havoc. The Three Musketeers must be present to balance out Salt and his friends; if there aren’t enough of the Three MagCalPots, then Salt wins and blood pressure goes up. You can help the Musketeers by putting less salt and more magnesium, calcium, and potassium in your mouth.

By the way, it’s recommended that you eat no more than 1 teaspoon (2300 mg) of sodium (salt) each day. The ideal goal is 1500 mg, but Americans eat so much sodium that even cutting down to 2300 is a plus. Be aware that 75% of the sodium most of us eat is in processed, pre-packaged, and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker.

Genetics and Family History – hypertension runs in the family. If hypertension runs in your family, it’s even more important that you exercise and eat well. Sorry. Maybe you also inherited a sharp wit or great hair.

 

Note: I should to point out that the medical community isn’t 100% sure what causes hypertension. They observe connections between hypertension and heart attacks, atherosclerosis, sleep apnea, etc., and make highly educated guesses. They also observe the connections between healthy habits and improved hypertension and make highly educated recommendations. What is 100% certain? We can take hypertension as the warning sign it is and make healthy changes.

 

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  2 Corinthians 1:8b, 9b

 

All these changes stressing you out? Take Heart: Stress and Heart Health is next week.

 

References:

Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868

Web MD https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-pressure-causes#1

Calcium and hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2448982

Calcium and hypertension https://www.livestrong.com/article/149390-calcium-and-hypertension/

Potassium and Calcium https://www.everydayhealth.com/hypertension/get-your-minerals.aspx

Calcium https://www.healthcentral.com/article/lower-high-blood-pressure-with-calcium

Sodium https://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/how_much_sodium_should_i_eat