9 Things That Can Weaken Your Bones

Skeletal and what damages itMaintaining a strong skeletal frame is important as we age for it will protect us from broken bones due to accidents, chronic pain, and arthritis. Most of us know that a healthy diet and exercise help us maintain healthy bones. So, what should we avoid that weakens bones? In this post we’ll explore 9 things that can lead to a weakening of your bones.

Too Much Salt

Salt removes calcium from the body, which can weaken bones. Here is the catch, you need some salt in your diet or else your electrical neural pathways won’t work properly. Find a middle ground and consume no more than 2,300 milligrams/day.
HINT: Breads, cheeses, chips, and cold cuts have some of the highest amounts of salt. If the food has been processed, it will likely have a high amount of salt.

No Exercise

We all enjoy a good television show, website, or a lazy day around the house. But if you always binge watch, spend hours on the computer, or every day is a lazy day, you are hurting your bones. Exercise strengthens bones, whether you are walking, running, lifting weights, gardening, or doing yoga. Allow your body to move against the resistant force of gravity, and your bones will be happy.

Your Only Exercise Is Riding the Bike

Bicycling is FANTASTIC for the heart and lungs and is also a great way to help you drop weight. BUT it is not a weight bearing exercise, which is what your body also needs. If you are an avid cyclist, keep on rolling, but consider adding a walk and or weight training to your routine.

Too Much Time Indoors

Your body needs sunlight as your body produces Vitamin D when exposed to the sun. In our modern society, we spend most of our time indoors, and thus we don’t receive the Vitamin D we need. Your doctor has likely talked to you about supplements. Another course of action is to spend at least 10-15 minutes a day in the sun. No one is saying you need to get a tan and risk skin damage, but some sun exposure is necessary.

Another Round of Drinks

Alcohol restricts your body’s ability to absorb alcohol. Limit your daily alcohol intake to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

Wheat Bran Cereal and Milk

Sounds odd, but 100% wheat bran cereal restricts the absorption of calcium in milk. That doesn’t appear to be the case in other items, like bread with wheat bran. So, consider a two hour separation between your wheat bran consumption and your favorite source of calcium.

Smoking

If you smoke, then stop. No surprise in that statement, and smokers know they should stop. Most of us know what smoking does to the heart and lungs, but what is does to the bones is that smoking restricts bone growth, and thus if you have an accident and break a bone, it will take far longer to heal than if you didn’t smoke at all. And for women trying to reverse bone loss, smoking will stop or greatly hinder your attempts.

Prescription Meds

Long term use of glucocorticoid medications, like prednisone and cortisone, can cause bone loss. You like use these anti-inflammatory drugs if you have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, or Crohn’s disease.

Being Underweight

Being underweight, a BMI of 18.5 or less, means a greater chance of fracture and bone loss. Your doctor can best tell you I you are or are not underweight, so consult with him or her if you are concerned.

 

Thanks to the folks at WebMD for some of these ideas.  https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/ss/slideshow-bone-wreckers

Before you go, if you enjoyed this post, check out our other posts featuring Health, Fitness, and Food. This blog is dedicated to providing the reader everything they need in order to be the everyday athlete that they are.

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Vitamin E: 4 Brands To Consider

If you’ve read “3 Reasons Why Your Skin Needs Vitamin E Oil TODAY” then you may be on the hunt for some Vitamin E oil. I have been able to find Vitamin E oil at the store, but to consistently find the product, I turn to Amazon as they do a good job with keeping a variety of brands in stock.

For your ease, I’ve chosen a few brands that have a good strength, good reviews, good pricing, and one or two that are certified as “organic”.  Note that the higher the IU, the stronger the formula. The higher strength also may be a dollar or two more.
The Amazon link for this product is here
The Amazon link for this product is here
The Amazon link for this product is here
The Amazon link for this product is here

Let me know your experiences with Vitamin E oil by commenting below. But before you leave, be sure to subscribe to the Wide-Body site, at Wide-Body.com. Subscribing is free, and I’ll keep you informed of the activities at the Wide-Body as well as have special offers just for subscribers.

Take care and enjoy life!

3 Reasons Why Your Skin Needs Vitamin E Oil TODAY

Day at the beach“Summertime, and the living is easy”. What isn’t so easy is how Summer’s direct sunlight can play havoc on unprotected skin. You’ve likely experienced a little too much Sun exposure so far this Summer. What I’ll do here is show you a way you can begin protecting your skin today and potentially reverse any damage it has already suffered.

We all need to expose ourselves to the Sun as this is the way our bodies produce Vitamin D, but too much of a good thing is not so good, as too much exposure to the Sun can lead to a break down of collagen within the skin which leads to a premature aging of the skin; excess exposure can cause hyperpigmentation, i.e. dark splotches on the skin; and even worse, excess exposure can lead to skin cancer.

But instead of giving up on going outside and just accepting your damaged skin, here is the solution to heal your damaged skin: Vitamin E oil.

And here is why you will want to start using Vitamin E oil:

  1. Prevents aging and wrinkles: Medical research (here) shows that vitamin E and other ingredients rich in anti-oxidants can delay the wrinkles as well as repair skin damage. This occurs because Vitamin E increases circulation, which helps repair damage, thus leading to firmer skin.
  2. Eliminate Hyperpigmentation: Hyperpigmentation, or dark spots or splotches, occur after too much sun exposure creates a concentration of melanin in the skin. Vitamin E has been shown as an effective treatment for evening out skin color, and paired with Vitamin C, eliminates dark spots.
  3. Fix Chapped or cracked lips: Vitamin E promoted cell regeneration, so if you’re lips are suffering from too much time at the beach, use a little Vitamin E oil to promote faster healing.

BONUS BENEFIT: Eliminates Acne Scarring. Some people swear Vitamin E oil eliminates their acne scarring, though research has not shown the results to be consistent. So, while Vitamin E oil may work on acne scarring for some folks, your results may vary and you need to consider that if this is the reason you purchase the product.

USEAGE TIPS:

A few drops go a long way. Use a circular motion when applying to the skin as this will increase the circulation and thus absorption. And DON’T FORGET THE TOPS OF YOUR EARS as they also are exposed. Vitamin E can also be used on other parts of the body.

Ladies- Use this product before bedtime. The oil is thick, and a few drops go a long way. Because the oil is thick, it will need about 20 minutes to fully absorb. AND because of its thickness, the oil would interfere with any attempts to put on makeup. The good news is that sleep is the time the body repairs and regenerates, and Vitamin E fits well into your body’s repair cycle.

Gentlemen– Besides using the oil on exposed skin, Vitamin E oil can be used on a daily basis as a beard oil, softening the most bristly of beards. BONUS, Vitamin E oil is about ¼ the price of most beard oils.

Let me know your experiences with Vitamin E oil by commenting below. But before you leave, be sure to subscribe to the Wide-Body site, at Wide-Body.com. Subscribing is free, and I’ll keep you informed of the activities at the Wide-Body as well as have special offers just for subscribers.

Take care and enjoy life!

8 Foods To Help You Stay Mentally Strong

8 foods to boost your concentration - with title

So many folks have told me that since the beginning of the pandemic, they have found it difficult to concentrate. Too many distractions, too many changes, and in general.. too much noise! This post won’t begin to solve all the problems that lead to the distractions, BUT I will tackle what you can do to give your brain the boost it needs so that it can stay strong during this trying time, and into the future.

  1. Caffeine – Yep, that morning or afternoon jolt can give you the energy and concentration you need, BUT, the effects are short term AND too much caffeine will actually ruin your concentration as you will be too jittery and jumpy.
  2. Sugar– Sugar can help you with your short-term memory boost, BUT it comes with a few big caveats. 1. The sugar you body wants is glucose, the type you get from carbohydrates, NOT sucrose, the type of sugar derived from table sugar. 2. Too much sugar, will make you groggy, the opposite of what you want. The Solution; a small glass of juice.
  3. Breakfast – For students in particular, a breakfast of high fiber, dairy, and fruit, has shown to improve memory and alertness. Too big a breakfast, you lose your concentration.
  4. Fish – Yep, fish is brain food. A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids has shown to reduce the risk of dementia, lower stroke risks, and slow the progress of mental decline. Some doctors recommend 2 serving of fish a week, mine recommends 5 per week. Hint, a can of tuna counts as a serving and is a fantastic addition to a green salad.
  5. Nuts and Dark Chocolate – Nuts and dark chocolate contain high levels of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant in the effort to prevent cognitive decline. A handful of nuts a day can make all the difference. Choose almonds, walnuts, and pecans as they contain the most benefits. Skip the peanuts and cashews as they can cause inflammation. All you need is 1 oz of dark chocolate a day. 1 oz is about the size of the end of your thumb
  6. Avocado – These little green wonders are loaded with Vitamin E, and as I noted above, Vitamin E is a powerful ally in the fight to keep your brain strong. And while you may read cautions about the fat content of avocado, I wouldn’t be concerned, the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated and is the type your body wants for healthy blood flow.
  7. Blueberries – Think of them as little blue shields, protecting your brain from free radicals that want to attack your brain cells and leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  8. Water – Staying hydrated during the day helps keep your working in the way it is supposed to, i.e. consuming food, creating energy, eliminating waste. Without enough water, your body directs energy to other places besides your brain, leaving you in a fog. So, drink your water regularly. The amount needed varies per person, but 8 glasses a day is not a bad rule of thumb.

You can find more details about these food sources at WebMD

These are easy foods to incorporate into just about any diet. So, when you are taking care of your body, don’t forget to also take care of your brain!

Hi, I’m Chris Stiehl, a.k.a. The Wide-Body. This blog is dedicated to the “everyday athlete”, and that person is you! I sincerely believe an athlete resides in every one of us and I want to inspire you to discover that athlete within you. You are also built with a specific body type, and each type has its own power, so embrace that power and ignore the noise that says your body shape is unworthy. That power is your gift, and thus each week, I will post articles featuring topics about Health, Fitness, and Food so that you can incorporate these ideas into life and enjoy the gift you have been given.

Please leave a message and subscribe to the Wide-Body newsletter. I’ll send out regular updates on what is happening here at the Wide-Body Blog. 

Keywords: mental health, concentration, Alzheimer’s, dementia, caffeine, glucose, breakfast, fish, brain, nuts, avocado, blueberries, water, hydrate, webmd, tuna, salmon, vitamin e, ADHD

Why You Should Care About Your Waistline

At the Wide-Body, we aren’t critical the physical shape with which people were born. Everyday athletes come in all shapes and sizes, and the Wide Body openly encourages everyone to embrace their physique. I will never have the body of a men’s fashion model, and I’m okay with that because I like the fact that my body is built for physical power. The features of sleekness and power in a body is rare, and given the chance to choose, I will choose power every time.

But there does come a time when we must address excess fat that taken up residence on the body. You should embrace your curves, but don’t embrace a pot belly that is damaging your health. How bad is that extra weight around your gut? This is what the Harvard Medical School about abdominal obesity;

Excess body fat has serious consequences for health. It’ associated with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides and low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. It impairs the body’s responsiveness to insulin, raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Excess body fat contributes to major causes of death and disability, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fatty liver, and depression.

Wow. That is a “Who’s who” of the leading killers in North America.

Scientists are studying this closer to better understand why fat around the abdomen is so destructive. The first thing we should do is separate fat into two categories; 1. Subcutaneous fat and 2. Visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that lies just beneath the skin. Reach down your, give yourself a little pinch on your “love handles” and you have found subcutaneous fat. This sort of fat pretty much looks the same throughout the body. And while this fat is not always healthy, it is not necessarily the culprit of poor health issues.

Visceral fat is the fat that is within the abdomen, surrounding the internal organs, and is a danger to the body because of lipotoxicity. As the Harvard Medical School points out;

Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat cells release their metabolic products directly into the portal circulation, which carries blood straight to the liver. As a result, visceral fat cells that are enlarged and stuffed with excess triglycerides pour free fatty acids into the liver. Free fatty acids also accumulate in the pancreas, heart, and other organs. In all these locations, the free fatty acids accumulate in cells that are not engineered to store fat. The result is organ dysfunction, which produces impaired regulation of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol, as well as abnormal heart function.

How do you know if you may have a problem? The best way to determine if you have an issue with body fat is to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) test completed by your doctor. While the test is not perfect, it is comprehensive enough for you to begin taking actions to bring your health in line with where it should be.

BMI’s are expensive, and a simpler test is using a waist circumference test. These tests are more prone to failures because it only takes into consideration one metric, the waist, Nonetheless, it is a simple test and can give you the guidance as to whether you need to take steps to change your health.

Table: Waist Circumference and Your Risk

Waist Circomference test

If you fall within an intermediate of high risk category, schedule some time to have a frank with your family doctor about your health. The best and only way to lose visceral fat is to increase the burning of calories through exercise and to decrease the caloric intake of food.

For more information on this topic, please read this article from Harvard Medical School.

Can Cinnamon Improve Your Health?

A few years ago, I wrote an article about a study that featured some promising news about cinnamon and its ability to control blood sugars. This news was expected to be a huge boon for diabetics, people struggling to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and those wishing to lose weight. As an update to this story, all I can report at this time is that subsequent studies have not shown cinnamon to help groups of people other than diabetics. In other health related research, studies have proven inconclusive as to whether cinnamon is useful in lowering cholesterol, treating yeast infections, and HIV.

This isn’t all bad news. It is known that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, is a power antioxidant, and anti-bacterial properties. That means cinnamon can still be used to help prevent and treat a host of ailments, including heart disease, stroke, and gastrointestinal ailments. So, don’t give up on cinnamon, because research is still being done and this powerful little spice will likely play a part in a healthier you.

Are you looking for some easy ways to add cinnamon into your diet? If you are a fan of Mediterranean cooking, you’ll recall that cinnamon is used in several North African savory dishes. Look for Moroccan recipes and you will likely find cinnamon as a featured spice.

  • Add a teaspoon to your coffee grounds before it is brewed.
  • Add a little to popcorn
  • Add a teaspoon to hearty vegetable soups and beefy stews
  • Try a sprinkle on roasted vegetables, such as hard winter squashes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
  • A little on fresh fruit, such as apples, peaches, and pineapple, will enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Add a little to you roasted meat seasoning and you’ll see that cinnamon is a versatile spice.

Let us all know if you have a favorite way to add cinnamon into your diet.

https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-cinnamon

Whoa! Slow Down: Eating Slowly Is Good For You.

Did your mother ever tell to slow down when you ate? I know that there were times my mother considered giving me and my brother a shovel to eat with during dinner. As growing boys, it seemed like we could not get enough to eat, nor get that food down our gullets fast enough. Fortunately, for our health and dinner time decorum, my brother and I now no longer need the thousands of extra calories and we consume our food at a much slower speed. And while I think my mother was telling me to slow down because she wanted to instill good table manners in me, she was doing me a favor.
In a study released by the American Heart Association, researchers have found that people who eat too fast, are more likely to become obese and develop metabolic syndrome diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Fast eaters were 11.6% more likely to develop these diseases than slower eaters. It is believed the reason for this is that there is a time lapse between when you are “full” to when your brain registers that your appetite has been sated. So, by eating faster, the eater is more likely to consume more calories before they realize that they are full.

Metabolic syndrome conditions occur when a person has three or more of these measurements:

  • Waistline larger than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women.
  • Triglycerides levels of 150 milligrams or more.
  • “Good” HDL cholesterol levels of less than 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women.
  • High blood pressure, with the top number at 130 or more and the bottom number at 80 or more.
  • Fasting blood sugar, or glucose, of 100 mg/dL or greater.

To read more about this study and others, take a look at this report from the American Heart Association here.

6 Foods For Your Brain

On Tuesday, I shared how greens are good for your brain (“Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!“). Today I’ll share which are also good for the grey matter.

Let’s face it, keeping the brain healthy is just as important as keeping the rest of the body healthy. I doubt there is anyone who disagrees with that last sentence, but I do think many people are perplexed as to how we can keep cognitive functions clicking along at full speed. After all, we can feel our muscles getting stronger, and we can when out “guts” are well fed, but how do we know if our brains are being correctly exercised and fed? In future posts, I’ll discuss exercising the brain, but today the post is about feeding the brain.

In a Runner’s World article, six foods are given focus because of their brain protecting qualities. First item on the list is arugula, what I would consider a “stand in” for all leafy greens. (frankly, I would have chosen Swiss, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, “An Ode To Leafy Greens…”,  I’m a little biased) Arugula does a fantastic job of feeding the brain with loads of vitamin K, and can be easy found in grocery stores and served in restaurants.

Others on the list include:

  • Blueberries – could lower Alzheimer’s risks by 53%
  • Egg Yolks – Choline in yolks is beneficial in allowing brain cells to communicate more efficiently
  • Olive Oil – The antioxidant oleocanthal may play a part in the reduction of plaque formations in the brain
  • Salmon – The Omega 3’s in salmon help reduce inflammation and oxidation in the brain.
  • Walnuts – Like salmon, these nuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, and thus protect the brain.

For additional details on why these foods work for your brain, click on the Runner’s World link here. https://www.runnersworld.com/healthy-food/best-foods-brain-health

An Ode to Leafy Greens: Nutritional Values and How to Eat Them

photo created by the author

Yesterday’s post (Tuesday, 1/16/18, “Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!”) I shared how adding a serving of leafy greens to your diet everyday is good for your brain. In today’s post, you’ll see the nutritional values for a variety of leafy greens that you’ll find in the marketplace, and some ideas of how you can consume greens other than in a salad.

For a while, kale has been written about with the title, “Super Food”. When you review the nutrition data associated with kale, “Super Food” is a title that is well deserved. But there is one problem with kale; many people don’t like the flavor. The bitter, astringent flavor of most kale is too strong for the palates of most folks. Personally, I like to add kale to a salad, but I rarely eat it alone. The question then becomes, what other leafy greens offer similar health benefits but not with the same bitter kale bite?

Nutritional values of leafy greens

Click on the table to expand it for better viewing.

I’ve been promoting the virtues Swiss chard to family and friends for years. Chard is a mild flavored green like spinach, but I believe chard has a lot more going for it than spinach. First off, chard is very easy to grow. The colorful leafy chard is very forgiving in a harsh growing environment, like where I live in Central Texas. Conversely, I have found spinach to be rather demanding, especially water consumption. Secondly, the nutritional profile of chard is outstanding. At a 100gr per serving, Swiss chard delivers 692% of the daily vitamin K needs (limits neural damage to the brain and promotes bone growth), 204% of the daily vitamin A needs (critical for good vision, bone growth, cell reproduction and cell growth, and thus supports a healthy immune system and skin), 50% of the daily vitamin C needs (powerful antioxidant that supports your immune system), 22.5% of your daily iron needs (nearly the same amount as spinach, and iron is a much needed supplement for many women) and powerful antioxidants such a beta carotene which turns into vitamin A once the phyto-nutrient is consumed. Why not swap one Super Food for another, and enjoy what you are eating.

Once you start to look at the nutritional profiles of leafy greens, I think you can make a good case as to why you should consider adding one or more of these vegetables into your diet. I suggest that you just eat one by itself, but instead mix them together like a salad because the different flavors and textures make for a satisfying meal. Personal tips: I like to add mustard greens to my salads. The sharp peppery-horseradish mustard flavor adds a punch of flavor to a mild lettuce salad. You don’t need too much to add a “wow” factor to your salad.

Here are some ideas on where to add greens into your diet:

  • Make a salad: This is obvious, and I already touched on this idea.
  • Make a sandwich or a wrap: Add mustard greens, spinach, and watercress to your next sandwich and give your next bite some extra crunch.
  • Add to soup: Hearty vegetable soups like minestrone pair well with collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard. Many Asian soup recipes pair well with bok choy and cabbages.
  • Stir-fry: Add chopped spinach, bok choy or Swiss chard to your stir fry.
  • Steamed: Steaming collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach until they are slightly soft.
  • Saute: Quickly saute your greens with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper.
  • In an omelet: One of my favorite ways to add greens to my diet. Saute the Swiss chard for spinach, then fold the greens into an omelet with tomatoes and little feta cheese. So good!

What are some other ways you have added greens to your diet. Please share your thoughts with the rest of us.

References:
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2917?manu=&fgcd=&ds=Standard%20Reference
https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/vegetable-nutrition.html

Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!

Do you eat greens? Some people eat salads to manage their waistlines. Some eat greens because they want more fiber in their diet. Some folks, don’t think about leafy greens at all. Would you eat more greens if I told you greens are good for your brain? And that if you eat greens regularly, your brain could be younger by an average of 11 years compared to non-greens eaters.

In a study published in the magazine “Neurology”, researchers found that by increasing the daily consumption of greens by 1.3 servings a day, test subjects significantly slowed down their cognitive decline. For those who added the additional serving of leafy greens to their diet everyday slowing of cognitive decline such that their brains appeared to be 11 years YOUNGER that the test subjects who did not eat leafy green.

What is the relation of leafy greens to a younger brain? It is believed that the primary nutrients and bio-actives in leafy greens, vitamin K (phylloquinone), lutein, β-carotene, nitrate, folate, kaempferol, and α-tocopherol, play an essential part in keeping the brain healthy, and thus slowing the natural decline that comes with aging.

A healthy mind and body, in sync with each other, is a great way to live out your life.

If you would like to read more about this topic, you can find the study published in Neurology here 

The LIVESTRONG site also has some additional studies done on this topic and those studies back up the latest study. Check that out here.