Can Losing Weight Help With Joint Pain?

Now you have yet another reason to stay active and eat a delicious, healthy diet. According to research from the renowned National Institute of Health, Arthritis Foundation and Cleveland Clinic, losing weight has a major effect on reducing joint pain and improving mobility. Here are 5 reasons why burning those calories should be a priority.

1. Osteoarthritis Relief

Losing weight can alleviate pain significantly in people who have OA. This is because every pound of weight is equal to four pounds of pressure on joints. If you drop just 10 pounds, it’s like you lost 40 pounds when it comes to your joints. Lose 20 pounds and your body feels 80 pounds lighter!

2. Less Cartilage Loss

Weight loss can make life much easier for people who have OA. Losing weight reduces the wear and tear your joints have to deal with. This can slow the damage to your cartilage, especially in knees and hips. Healthy cartilage cushions your joints, so you want to protect it as long as possible.

According to one 2017 study of knee OA patients, people who continually lost weight experienced much lower cartilage damage. What’s especially interesting is that weight loss was directly related to the speed of cartilage loss. The more weight patients lost, the slower OA advanced.

3. Reduced Inflammation

Did you know that fatty tissues send signals to your body that trigger inflammation? Too much fat can cause sore muscles and joints throughout the body, making the pain of arthritis much worse. Stop this inflammation cascade by keeping your weight in a healthy range. A diet rich in inflammation fighting foods can also provide significant relief.

4. Positive Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Hitting your ideal weight helps your body deal with autoimmune disorders such as RA and PsA better. One recent study found that weight loss produced significant positive effects on people who have PsA. This can mean fewer days where you wake up with pain and stiffness. Losing weight also increases your odds of RA remission.

5. Lower Uric Acid Levels

Burning calories can reduce overall levels of uric acid in your blood. If you have a tendency to get gout attacks, losing weight should be top on your list of natural remedies. Want to take gout pain relief to the next level? Here’s what to eat:

  • Grapefruit and oranges

  • Pineapple

  • Cherries

  • Leafy green veggies and broccoli

  • Beans

  • Nuts and peanut butter

  • Lentils

  • Whole grains

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day. Yogurt, low-fat milk and coffee are great for reducing uric acid levels. Yes, several cups of coffee a day can actually help with gout prevention.

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

If you’re experiencing a lot of joint pain, the thought of exercise probably doesn't seem appealing. However, your joints need workouts to stay flexible and healthy. The good news is there are gentle exercises you can do that really work. Even better, they help your body release endorphins, natural pain relievers and mood boosters.

Try low-impact, moderately intense aerobics activities three or four days a week. Swimming, walking, biking or using an elliptical trainer all help you stay active while reducing joint stress. As you shed pounds and eat great, you can look forward to less pain each and every day.

What’s the Best Way To Lose Weight: Dieting or Lifestyle Changes?

For many, the battle of the bulge seems never-ending. We lose weight. We gain it back. We lose more weight. We gain even more weight back. To see real, permanent change on the scale, what’s the best way to ditch those unwanted pounds?

Dieting

From Atkins to The Zone, there are more diets than there are seats in Madison Square Garden. Some diets, like the Mediterranean diet, ask you to fill your plate full of healthy fats. Others, such as the Paleo diet, challenge you to go full “cavewoman” and only eat the foods that our earliest ancestors ate: nuts, lean meats, berries.

No matter what’s on the menu, virtually all diets have two things in common. First, most diets are designed to offer big results in a short period of time. They tend to do this by similar means, too:

  • Calorie restrictions

  • “Eat and “Do Not Eat” lists

  • Calorie counting

  • Prewritten weekly meal plans

  • Eliminating certain foods or food groups from your diet

  • Frequent weigh-ins

The other thing that most diets have in common is that they’re ineffective. In the simplest terms, following a regimented eating plan that’s full of rules and restrictions is a hassle. For starters, it eliminates the possibility to eat, drink and be merry. A slice of birthday cake or that second glass of wine are strictly off limits, which can make socializing a self-conscious slog.

It can also result in a frustrating cycle of eating very little for several days and then eating everything in sight. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who lose weight using a diet gain all of that weight back within five years, and many of those folks pack on additional pounds in the process.

Dieting can also be bad for your health. Extreme diets can be a gateway to eating disorders, particularly in younger women and men. They can also leave you nutrient-deprived. Remember the Grapefruit Diet that was all the rage in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s? It turns out that woman cannot live on citrus fruit (and some strategically placed salads and skim milk) alone. Many diets lack balance. This can have adverse effects on your health, such as iron-deficiency, for example.

Some diets also impart unhealthy, if not downright bizarre, eating tips. Contrary to what you may have believed in the era of Pac-Man and shoulder pads, grapefruits do not burn fat.

Lifestyle Changes

While diets typically provide a temporary fix, healthy lifestyle changes create the potential for lasting weight loss. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Instead of forsaking all carbs, for example, make a switch to healthy whole grains, and incorporate them mindfully. This behavior is far easier to maintain than trying to swear off all bread baskets until the end of time.

Here are several examples of other lifestyle changes that can lead to permanent weight loss:

  • Eating and drinking in moderation

  • Taking the stairs

  • Avoiding processed and prepackaged “convenience” foods

  • Going for a walk everyday

  • Using a fitness tracker or pedometer

  • Drinking more water

  • Treating yourself from time to time

The key to implementing lifestyle changes is starting small. If you want to start walking two miles every day, but you haven’t dusted off your sneakers in years, start by just walking to the mailbox every day — or even just putting on some sneakers. Once you master that walk to the mailbox, start walking to the end of your block and back. You’ll likely find yourself getting to the end of your block and deciding to go even farther — just because you can.

The Verdict

If you want to lose 10 pounds for your niece’s wedding next month, a crash diet might do the trick. If, however, you want to lose weight and make it stay gone, most health and nutrition experts agree that lifestyle changes are far superior to dieting.

Gained a Little Weight During Quarantine? Here’s How To Lose It

Weight loss quarantine

If you’ve been indulging in comfort food more than usual lately, you’re not alone. Trying times call for pasta, cookies and more homemade Chex Mix than you can shake a pretzel stick at. Here’s the thing: All lockdowns must end. When you’re ready to start taking those pandemic pounds off, here are three tips to kick-start the process:

1. Get Moving

Living in a rural or suburban area can make getting outside to stretch your legs and soak up some Vitamin D relatively easy. Strive for 30 minutes of activity each day, even if it’s simply getting down on your hands and knees and yanking some weeds.

If, however, you’re confined to an apartment or other living situation that doesn’t include a spacious backyard or secluded street, you’ll need to get slightly more creative. For example, if you’re missing the gym, you might try a customizable exercise app such as Daily Workouts or Sworkit.

You can also look to YouTube for fitness options. Predictably, the video hub hosts channels dedicated to virtually any kind of movement you may want to start incorporating into your quarantine routine, from weightlifting to yoga and everything in between. For example, Yoga with Adriene, a popular channel with over 4 million subscribers, offers a seemingly endless variety of programs for people of all fitness and mobility levels.

Now might also be the time to dust off those old dance DVDs in your closet or borrow some fitness discs from your local library. If your branch isn’t open or offering curbside pickup of materials, it may have partnered with digital partners such as Hoopla to offer streaming dance videos and other home fitness titles.

2. Start a Weight Loss Program

The quickest way to lose weight is to pair exercise with a healthy diet. One of the best methods for sticking to that healthy diet is tracking what you eat.

Fortunately, the advent of personal computers and mobile devices has made this process far less time-consuming. Online programs such as WW (formerly Weight Watchers), Noom, Lose It!, and

MyFitnessPal all make calorie counting simple. Many weight loss programs also offer individual coaching and small group support to keep you on track on those days when binge-watching “Parks and Rec” with a bag of chips sounds far more appealing than aerobics and carrot sticks.

It’s worth noting that most of these programs offer a free trial period so you can see if it’s a good fit before you commit. Some are entirely free as well.

3. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Mindfulness matters when it comes to weight loss. Even if you’re not writing about food, adopting a mindset that’s firmly rooted in the present and focused on all that you have to be thankful for in these trying times can help you lose weight.

How? By lowering your stress.

According to WebMD, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to skip that healthy breakfast or reach for that peach pie in the fridge. What’s more, your cortisol levels can skyrocket when you’re tense. This can turn your late-night sundae party into a full-time habit, as well as send your insulin levels through the roof.

When that happens, your blood sugar plummets. The result? Even more sugar cravings. Starting or ending each day by focusing on the good in your life can keep your stress in check and boost your odds of successful weight loss.

You’re living through a unique time in history — not a fun one, of course, but a remarkable one — and you’re certainly not the only person who let healthy, mindful eating take a backseat to just making it to tomorrow in once piece. Now that you’re ready to come out of quarantine healthy, fit and fresh, make the choice to embrace an active, mindful lockdown routine and watch the unwanted weight disappear.

Try These 3 Amazing Foods That Lower Your BP

lower blood pressure

1. Salmon

Salmon is a true heart health superstar. This tasty fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, special compounds with incredible benefits for your entire circulatory system. Many studies show that omega-3s can reduce triglyceride levels, keep your arteries healthy, prevent blood clots and fight inflammation. Even better, they can cause a significant drop in blood pressure!

To give your diet a delicious boost of BP-fighting omega-3s, bake or grill salmon fillets with your favorite herbs:

  1. Season the salmon fillets with thyme, oregano or garlic (or all three).

  2. Place each portion in parchment paper or foil.

  3. Sprinkle a dash of lemon juice and drizzle some olive oil on top.

  4. Fold parchment or foil and place in a preheated oven.

  5. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Salmon isn’t the only fish that has omega-3s, but it’s one of the best sources. You can also try mackerel, arctic char, black cod, rainbow trout and albacore tuna. Anchovies and sardines are spectacular for omega-3s, but you need to get them fresh, not canned. Omega-3 oils made from fresh fish are also an option.

2. Garlic

Including more garlic in your meals has two big benefits for blood pressure. First, garlic can make your arteries open wider, improving blood flow and getting rid of hypertension. The easier it is for your heart to pump blood, the less it has to work.

Second, garlic is a natural flavor enhancer. If you’re trying to reduce your salt intake, garlic makes a great replacement. That way you can eat healthy and still enjoy meals that taste amazing.

The next time you feel like something sweet and zesty, make honey-garlic chicken. Use skinless chicken breast, honey, fresh ginger, scallions, low-sodium soy sauce and plenty of garlic. With these tangy and tasty ingredients, you’ll be surprised how flavorful everything is without adding salt!

3. Spinach

Say goodbye to high blood pressure for good with the power of spinach. Leafy greens are a phenomenal source of potassium. In fact, fresh spinach gives you more potassium than bananas. Why is that important for BP?

Potassium is the enemy of sodium. By increasing the amount of potassium you get every day, it flushes excess salt from your system. This can drastically reduce blood pressure.

In addition to these BP benefits, spinach contains a ton of nutrients. It’s rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Spinach can give you stronger bones, better eyesight and a healthier immune system.

Not a fan of spinach? That’s OK. There are other leafy greens you can try instead. Sauteed or steamed broccoli makes the perfect complement to any meal. For a delicious salad, toss together romaine lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard and beet greens with a vinaigrette made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Key To Lowering BP With Nutritious Foods

Lowering your blood pressure is all about eating less salt and unhealthy fats. There are lots of delicious foods that can help, such as fresh blueberries, low-fat Greek yogurt, whole-grain oatmeal and unsalted pistachios. Once you've got a healthy meal plan, you’re good to go!

How to Improve your Cholesterol to Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease

How to improve your cholesterol

If you’re wondering how to improve your cholesterol, your health care provider has probably told you your “numbers” are abnormal. This generally means your total cholesterol is too high, your HDL (good) cholesterol is too low, your LDL (bad) cholesterol is too high, or your triglycerides are too high. (More than one of your cholesterol numbers could be abnormal.) Continue reading “How to Improve your Cholesterol to Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease”

The Effects of Visceral Fat: What it is and Why You Should Care

Effects of Visceral Fat Diagram

The effects of visceral fat are probably not something most people think about. They are much more likely to think about belly fat in general with the goal of getting rid of it as quickly as possible.

If you have problems with belly fat, you can probably identify with this attitude. Studies show a high percentage of people are unhappy with the appearance of their bellies. Most of them want to get rid of their belly fat for aesthetic reasons, but did you know there is a type of belly fat that is not only unhealthy but deadly?

It’s true.

The effects of visceral fat on your health is so much worse than any cosmetic complication, and most people don’t even know they’re in danger.

The Effects of Visceral Fat Vs. Subcutaneous Fat

There was a time when fat (adipose tissue) was simply considered an inert tissue that stores fat. We now know fat is metabolically active tissue that synthesizes and secretes hormones. Fat tissue plays a role in insulin sensitivity, inflammatory process mediation, and more.

This is why the effects of visceral fat on health and those of subcutaneous fat are as different as night and day. Let’s start with subcutaneous fat.

Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat that lies just beneath the skin. It is the fat you can pinch beneath your fingers, the fat that jiggles and dimples, and it is distributed throughout your entire body. Wherever you have skin, you have a layer of subcutaneous fat beneath it. Evidence suggests subcutaneous fat may actually be good for your health. Research shows subcutaneous fat may improve glucose metabolism for better blood sugar control.

Visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity, surrounding and at times even wrapping around vital organs, such as the kidneys, pancreas, and liver. You cannot see or feel visceral fat. But the effects of visceral fat located so close to these organs increase the risk for many serious health conditions.

Researchers have learned that visceral fat pumps immune system and inflammatory chemicals, which they believe probably enters the nearby portal vein of the intestine. These chemicals are then carried to the liver and cause cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and other serious conditions.

The Effects of Visceral Fat on Body Shape: How to Tell by Appearance

Though you cannot see visceral fat, there are a few ways that appearance can indicate the likely presence of visceral fat.

The best way to see the effects of visceral fat on body shape is to look at yourself in a full-length mirror. Are you pear shaped or apple shaped? You see, if most of your fat is in the lower half of your body (your butt, thighs, etc.), you have a pear-shaped body, and your fat is likely to be subcutaneous.

If most of your fat is in the upper part of your body, the abdominal area, you are likely to have a large amount of visceral fat.

Looking in the mirror is not the only way to know if you might have visceral fat. You can also simply measure the circumference of your waist. If your waist circumference is 35 or more inches if a woman, or 40 or more inches if a man, you likely have a high level of visceral fat.

If you want to be absolutely sure you have visceral fat, you can schedule an MRI with your healthcare provider. Though an MRI is expensive, it will give you a visual look at the amount of visceral fat surrounding your organs.

Skinny Fat: One of the Effects of Visceral Fat that is Invisible

Having a large waist circumference is not always the best way to judge the effects of visceral fat on the body. There was a time when everybody judged one’s health and their risk for health problems based on their level of obvious body fat. In other words, a heavy person was thought to be automatically unhealthy, and a thin person was automatically thought to be healthy.

We now know that this isn’t true. In recent years, the concept of metabolically obese normal weight people came into view. Also known as “skinny fat,” these individuals have too much body fat and not enough muscle. Though they may have a slight pouch to their belly, it is usually not that noticeable. To all appearances, they look thin and healthy.

But underneath this appearance, they have high levels of visceral fat subjecting them to all the potential health problems of an obese individual. This means that thousands of seemingly thin and healthy people are being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes. They may also have cardiovascular disease and strokes.

Being skinny fat is worse than being overweight or obese because those who are thin are typically not screened for obesity-related diseases. After all, their body mass index is normal. Why would doctors worry about them?

The Effects of Visceral Fat on Health

The effects of visceral fat on health are many. Having an excess amount of visceral fat increases your risk for many serious conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Abnormal Cholesterol Levels
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Breast Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Metabolic Syndrome

Causes of Visceral Fat

Though there is a genetic component of visceral fat, the biggest causes of this condition are poor-quality diet and inactivity. Your body is an amazingly complex machine. It knows exactly what to do to keep you healthy, and it knows what to do to heal your body.

The body can handle a large quantity of food with no problem. What it cannot handle are aggressive calories.

You see, not all calories are the same when it comes to being stored as body fat. When you eat, a digestive traffic cop tells calories where to go. How aggressively calories approach this cop determines whether they will be stored as visceral fat or subcutaneous fat.

This digestive traffic cop directs calories to repair, fuel, or fatten us, making sure we have all the nutrients we need to repair our body, give us energy, and keep us from starving. If you have a calm, consistent flow of calories coming into your system, the cop does a great job directing these calories to the places they will do the most good.

But if the digestive cop has to deal with a bunch of aggressive requests all at once, he or she just throws them in the fat cells. For example, when you consume refined carbohydrates and sugars, your body breaks them down into simple sugars (glucose), and then sends it to your bloodstream. Because refined carbs and sugars contain no fiber to slow digestion down, the glucose is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, and your blood glucose levels rise.

Whenever you eat foods that rapidly increase levels of glucose in your bloodstream (called aggressive calories), your body is likely to store the excess glucose as fat. That’s because your body can only deal with a certain amount of glucose at one time. According to researchers, the body has only around 40 calories of glucose circulating in the bloodstream at a time. Anything that exceeds that amount has to be rapidly cleared from the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels normal, which means that most of it ends up in the fat cells.

The same effect does not happen if you eat a lot of non-aggressive calories, such as non-starchy vegetables or protein, that gradually enter the bloodstream over several hours. Your digestive traffic cop can deal with them, and the effects of visceral fat will not apply.

5 Healthy Ways to Eliminate the Effects of Visceral Fat in Your Life

There are several ways to eliminate the effects of visceral fat in your life. Here are 6 of the best ways.

Reduce Refined Sugar and Refined Carbohydrate Consumption

One of the best ways to eliminate the effects of visceral fat is to reduce refined sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption. Studies have shown that both may lead to increased visceral fat accumulation.

Refined sugars are processed sugar added to foods. Refined carbs are foods that contain no fiber or nutrients. They are “empty” calories that cause surges in your blood sugar levels that promote visceral fat storage. (Refined carbs include white flour, white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, sodas, and pastas.)

Limit Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods are chemical concoctions made to look, smell, and taste like real foods. They are food-like products that contain no fiber and few nutrients. Because of their lack of fiber, they are digested quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood glucose levels.

A recent study showed more than half of the average American’s calories are composed of ultra-processed foods, which probably explains why the rates of overweight and obesity — along with the levels of visceral fat — are so high.

NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES

10+ servings per day

The fiber in non-starchy vegetables slows their absorption into the bloodstream, stabilizing blood sugar levels. They also contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that nourish your cells.

Here are some examples of great non-starchy vegetables to add to your plate:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Spinach

NUTRIENT-DENSE PROTEINS

3-5 servings per day, 30-55 grams per meal

Nutrient-dense proteins take a long time to digest, meaning they cause a slow rise in blood sugar levels.

Here are some delicious nutrient-dense proteins to try today:

  • Chicken
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Egg Whites
  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Salmon

WHOLE-FOOD FATS

3-6 servings per day

Whole-food fats are satisfying, and like non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense proteins, whole-food fats help regulate your blood sugar levels. Plus, if you replace refined carbs and sugars with whole-food fats, your body will start burning your fat stores — and that includes your visceral fat stores!

LOW-FRUCTOSE FRUITS

0-3 servings per day

Enjoy a serving of low-fructose fruit as a between-meal snack or after dinner.

Here are some tasty choices:

  • Blueberries
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries

Reduce Stress

Studies show chronic stress increases belly fat, particularly visceral fat. That’s because stress causes increased levels of cortisol, which also cause a release of insulin, a hormone that promotes fat storage.

The best way to counteract cortisol and insulin is to make it a point to regularly de-stress. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Meditate
  2. Take a walk in the park
  3. Pet your dog. (Studies show pets have a calming effect on their owners.)
  4. Go out to dinner with friends.
  5. Watch a marathon of your favorite sitcom. (Studies show laughter really IS the best medicine!)
  6. Take up a hobby
  7. Practice deep breathing exercises
  8. Do a good deed for someone. (Studies show doing something good for someone else raises the level of “feel good” hormones for the doer.)
  9. Listen to soothing music.
  10. Soak in a warm bubble bath.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase of belly fat, and that increased visceral fat. Cortisol also plays a role here, but studies show there are other hormones involved that increase hunger and encourage fat storage when we are sleep deprived.

To avoid the effects of visceral fat, it is imperative you get enough quality sleep. Here are some easy tips to help you do that.

  1. Turn off the television, computer, and smartphone 1 hour before bedtime. The light from the screen interferes with melatonin production, making your brain think it’s time to be up and active when it’s really time for bed.
  2. Keep your room dark, allowing no light in, if possible. If necessary, wear a sleep mask. (Any light can interfere with melatonin production.)
  3. Go to bed at the same time every night. Doing so will train your body to get tired at a particular time each night.
  4. Drink a cup of soothing, relaxing chamomile tea before bedtime.
  5. Avoid sleeping in — even on weekend. It is important to stay on a set sleep schedule to be able to consistently achieve a good night’s sleep.