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Getting to the Gym May Not Be Enough

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Like most of us, you probably have a job that doesn’t require a lot of physical output or energy. To compensate, like most of us, you head to the gym several days a week to get some exercise and get the body moving. That’s great, but it may not be enough to decrease your chance of premature death if you are sitting most of the time throughout your day.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society tracked 123, 000 subjects and examined the participants’ amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality over a 13-year period. What they found was those who spent the most leisure time sitting had the highest risks for mortality. Even more surprising was the risks were slightly higher for women.   When combined with a lack of physical activity, the association was even stronger. Women and men who both sat more and were less physically active were 94 percent and 48 percent more likely to die during the study period, respectively, compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.

What does all of those numbers mean to you? For a female couch potato you are nearly TWICE as likely to die as a similar woman who is active! I don’t know about you, but that scare the heck out of me.

Bottom line is that hitting the gym simply isn’t enough to counter the effects of a lifestyle that has little physical motion/exercise. I won’t go into the finer points of what you can do to increase your activity levels throughout the day; you already know what you can do to get moving more often.  As the huge sneaker empire says, “Just do it.” It literally can mean the difference between life and death.

Sometimes It’s Good to be Blue

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Contrary to its name, the blueberry is actually meant to make you enjoy a more fruitful life. This superfruit’s strong presence of dietary fiber, vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants make the tiny berry pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Blueberries help the body stand against the test of time. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging have been using feeding trials to study the effects of aging in the brain and motor functions of rats. The research concluded that a blueberry diet increased memory and gave the rats better motor skill performance. Scientists are currently working on further identifying the substances in the blueberry that directly contributes to the positive results.

In the same USDA laboratory, researchers have found that blueberries rank number one in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other age-related diseases. Anthocyanins, the compound that makes blueberries blue, is thought to be responsible for this major health benefit.

While carrots typically come to mind when one thinks of pro-eye foods, you’re better off to rely on the blueberry. During World War II, Royal Air Force bomber pilots ate blueberries to help them see better at night. A recent Japanese study found that blueberry consumption reduces eyestrain and improves weak eyesight.

The book of research on these amazing fruits is wide open. North Carolina State University is currently researching how blueberries may be used to alleviate hyperglycemia. The researchers found that blueberry phytochemicals proved effective against hyperglycemia in rodent models. New research has shown that consuming blueberry juice might be just as effective as cranberry juice for the prevention of urinary tract infections. The researchers from the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Reading plan to study the effect that flavonoid rich foods, like blueberries, have on memory impairment in Alzheimer’s patients.

Blueberries have a rich historical bond with North America, as the continent accounts for nearly 90% of the world’s production. Native Americans used blueberry juice to treat persistent coughs and other illnesses. During the Unites States Civil War, blueberries were collected, packaged, and sent to Union troops as a food staple. Maine is the blueberry production capital of North America and produces almost 100 percent of all berries harvested in the country. Minnesota claims the blueberry muffin as its official state muffin and New Jersey claims the berry as its official state fruit. Blueberries are the official berries of Nova Scotia, Canada.

What makes this super fruit even better is the versatility blueberries offer in the kitchen. From pancakes, to muffins, to smoothies, to blintzes, to parfaits… there are always new and delicious ways to consume blueberries. A quick visit will reveal over 250 delightful recipes! Indulge in your health.

Food Color and Nutrition

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Nutrition experts suggest you include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet for maximum health benefits.   Scientists have been researching the compounds and phytochemicals that give fruits and vegetables their color to learn which one are best included in a healthy diet.

Red, blue and purple colored fruits and vegetables contain many phytonutrients including lycopene and anthocyanins. Lycopene has been shown to have anti-aging and cancer protecting properties. Anthocyanins are a class of antioxidants which protects cells from damage and helps in reducing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Some research suggests that eating blueberries, in particular, may help with memory functions and prevent some of the aging by improving cell communication in the nervous system.

Keep in mind that an overall balanced diet should consist of foods from a wide variety of colors. Learn more