Eat Light & Stay Cool

DSCF7627The temperatures are rising and soon the full heat of summer will be upon us. The summer heat can diminish  your appetite. You may not feel much like eating especially when the heat combines with high humidity, but you still have to eat to maintain your health. Eating light and fresh foods can provide your body with all the minerals, vitamins and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy without bogging  you down. Fresh fruits and vegetables taste great, won’t weigh heavy in your stomach and you might even lose a little weight too.

Avoid Fatty Foods

During the summer heat  you should eat light meals and limit the size of your portions. Your body creates heat when digesting food and burning calories. You want to get nutrition without making your body work too hard extracting those nutrients. Fats, grease and oils fill you up quickly but can bog you down. Summer is the time when many people grill outdoors. Limit fried foods and avoid too many burgers and processed meats.  Heavy breads, cheeses, pasta and meats can make you feel lethargic. You can make delicious meals on the grill with light fare, such as shrimp, skinless chicken breasts, fish and vegetables.  You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when eating light. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious alone, but you can perk up the flavor of your veggies with your favorite spices. Try some light, grilled lemon-pepper fish or coconut shrimp on your barbecue along with some grilled red, green and yellow peppers.  Stir fry is also a delicious way to enjoy vegetables. Chop fresh peppers, broccoli, snow peas, onions, and cabbage. Stir fry lightly to preserve the crisp and retain nutrients. Top some fresh spaghetti squash with the vegetables for a light dish that will fill you up without bogging you down. Take it easy on the soy sauce as it is loaded with sodium. Choose colorful vegetables and fruit for energy and nutrients including antioxidants. Free radicals are a natural result of cell oxidation, but can lead to cell damage. Antioxidants help to remove free radicals from your cells. Berries, including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are a delicious way to get nutrients and rid your body of free radicals.

Stay Hydrated

Remember to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is dangerous and you are especially susceptible to dehydration during the summer months. Eating fruits, including apples, watermelon, strawberries and fresh peaches are not only rich in nutrients like iron and vitamins including vitamin C, they contain water too. Fresh fruits contain natural sugars that can help boost your energy level too. A delicious way to enjoy a variety of fresh fruits is to make a fruit salad. Slice fresh fruits and mix them together well. You can add a bit of fresh fruit juice, or simply enjoy the fruits in their natural juices. Watermelon is delicious after being chilled in the refrigerator. Keep some slices ready for when you need a boost and a cool, refreshing snack.


Does Joint Popping Cause Arthritis?

Photo Credit:  Jojo PD-User 2009
Some people are in the habit of popping their knuckles and other joints. The joints make a “pop” sound when pulled or pressed due to a build up of tiny amounts of nitrogen gas in the fluid surrounding the joint. Pressing or pulling on the joint can force the gas out of the joint, which causes the joint to “pop.” You’ve probably heard that popping your knuckles or other joints can cause arthritis. There is no evidence to support a causal connection between joint popping and arthritis. Generally, cracking your knuckles and popping other joints is not harmful. The knees, elbows, ankles or back may “pop” during exercise. This is normal and not cause for alarm, unless the pop is followed by pain, swelling or discoloration. Seek medical attention if you experience pain following a joint pop. Pain may be an indication of an injury or joint condition, such as arthritis, and should be treated by a physician. Stretching exercises can help reduce joint popping during exercise. It is also important for those suffering from arthritis to remain active and continue to exercise to improve their range of motion and flexibility. 
Exercises that focus on stretching and balance include yoga, Pilates and tai chi. See your doctor before beginning an exercise program. A personal fitness trainer can help you design a program to keep your joints flexible and reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis. Strengthening the muscles can also help relieve joint pain and swelling due to arthritis. 
Isometric exercises increase the strength of the muscles without moving the joints. Isometric strength exercises include hand presses, wall presses, abdominal squeezes and muscles flexing. To do hand presses, place your palms together and press your hands together in a “prayer” position in the middle of your chest. Keep your elbows down and press your palms together. Hold the press for about 10 to 20 seconds and relax. Repeat this exercise 5 times and increase the number of repetitions as your arm strength increases. Wall presses are performed by standing about 1 foot from a wall and pressing your palms against the wall. Gently lean in toward the wall and support the weight of your body with your arms. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat 5 times. Increase the number of repetitions as you become stronger. You can strengthen the leg muscles by standing on one leg for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other side. Increase the length of time you stand on one leg as you become stronger. 

For more information about joints and arthritis, see: