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Healthy Lifestyle

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I am not the best doctor for myself 

Friday, April 28, 2017  by goodlife

Are you a perennial fan of Dr. Oz? Have you read every article in Healthy Living magazine for the last 3 years? You may be like me then and crave to learn how to best take care of your health (though I don't specifically follow those sources). You may also be like me, in a negative way though…

You may be so enthralled with your own knowledge about health that you sometimes neglect seeking visits with medical health professionals.

I was. For the last few years since I began working as an exercise physiologist I have deeply enjoyed the wealth of information I have learned about exercise science and health. I take great pride in my understanding of what exercises I should select for my own workout routines. Of knowing which exercises will improve the mobility in my thoracic spine. Or a well suited combination of core exercises to improve the stability in my hips, lower back, and abdominal muscles. Part of why I enjoy my work is because it directly benefits my own life as well. But sometimes I take on the mindset that because I am in the health field, because I have access to the plethora of information on the internet, that I can manage my health for myself. And that fruits and vegetables can solve a great deal of issues. I do believe in both of those things. They became excessive however. I found myself trying to diagnose the minor issues I had with my health- lack of energy, post-nasal drip. A simple search on google can yield millions of results on health tips to resolve an illness. My mindset too often these last few years is, "This resource looks well-researched and backed by science, I will use this source to improve my health." What I didn't remember in my mindset though is that an actual doctor's visit, or a visit to a health clinic has incredible value in how it is specific to me and my health. The internet sources I like to read so often can be fantastic, but often speak to a broad scope of people.

This realization came full circle about 1 month ago. This past fall I had finally visited my naturopath doctor for a post nasal drip and a drop in my energy levels. My doctor quickly discovered that I often didn't eat enough meals each day due to my schedule. He also determined that the presence of fruits and vegetables in my diet was greatly lacking. After a thorough check-up he gave me my tasks. Eat more fruits and vegetables, eat more calories, and get my blood work done.

I went as far as the first two, although not particularly well.

Finally, after my energy levels hadn't improved, I gave in and had my blood work done 1 month ago. Yes, I put it off for more than a few months. I thought I had it under control. Based off of my own research, I expected my B vitamin levels and my iron levels to be lower than average on the pending blood work. It seemed like one of the most common causes of a drop in energy levels from all the articles I had read. Plus, since I don't eat meat very often (which can be a good source of vitamin B12) I had a high confidence level that B12 was a culprit in my health issues.

I logged into my account with the blood testing company on a Tuesday afternoon. At the very top of the report was a line of words in bold print. Red bold print. "Vitamin D, 25-OH, TOTAL, IA…7L." The number 7 just sat there on my report. Seven seemed like the lowest number I had ever seen in my life. I couldn't believe the result. I couldn't believe how wrong I was with my conclusions. I am severely deficient in Vitamin D. Normal levels are apparently at least 30-50 (ng/mL). And mine were at best only 24 percent of that. A call to my doctor's office immediately following the results put me on the right track.

I thought I could resolve my health issues on my own. And I guess I've had the mindset for some time now. It was and is scary to me that I was so far off on what may have been causing my health issues all along. And there is a lot more for me to find out...except this time with the continuing help of my doctor. For anyone who currently has health issues, I hope that my own learning curve has value to you. Though the internet, books, and knowledge from trusted friends and family can have great value, in many cases it is best to put your trust in a health professional to investigate and diagnose what may be causing your health issues. It is so easy to search for the answer for yourself. Sometimes the hardest step is recognizing that these unlimited sources don't have the answers that a doctor or other professional can find after examining you personally. I turned out to be a poor naturopath with a degree in exercise science.

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Is it really whole-grain?? 

Friday, January 6, 2017  by goodlife

Continuing from last week, we are focused on whole grains vs processed grains again. Right off the bat, here is a question for you: Which of the following is considered a whole grain?


1) Packaged whole-wheat bread from the store

2) Brown rice

3) Quick-oats (Quaker, or Bob's Red Mill)

4) Whole-corn tortillas from the store

5) Whole wheat pasta

6) Quinoa


If you guessed numbers 1 and 2 only, then you are correct! "Whole grain" can be a confusing label to understand when we shop at the supermarket. Whole grains are grains that have truly not been processed. Although the bread, tortillas, and quick oats may say "whole-grain" on their packaging, these foods have undergone multiple steps of industrial processing before they reach your shopping cart. Those foods that weren't actually a whole, unprocessed grain are different from whole grains. And as a result, the quality of nutrition that you can find from brown rice versus whole wheat pasta is much different. You know there is a difference when these more processed foods actually have vitamins and minerals that are added back into the ingredients. Many of you may already know this, but those added vitamins and minerals were lost when the company began processing the food so that it's shelf life would increase.

A takeaway from this is that just because a food you buy in the supermarket says whole grain doesn't mean that the product is in fact a whole grain food. Whole grain foods are grains like brown rice, quinoa, and steel cut oats that have not been heavily processed yet. Whole grain foods contain an extensive amount of nutrition compared with foods in the supermarket that contain this in the label: "contains whole-grains." The next time you are shopping compare a package of steel cut oats with a package of Cheerios. One has vitamins and minerals added back in manually, the other never lost them- and has many more additional health benefits.

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Processed grains- what we miss out on 

Thursday, September 8, 2016  by goodlife

A grain harvested from a field of oat plants is highly nutritious. Within each oat kernel lays multiple components, including the bran, endosperm, and germ (embryo). The components that are left after processing are usually only the endosperm. The same is true in the comparison of a wheat kernel versus its processed cousin- white flour. What is important to remember is that all three of the original components found in a whole grain kernel, before processing, contain valuable nutrients. Many of those nutrients are completely omitted from processed and refined white flours. The bran contains in the original kernel contains important antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber. The germ contains B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats. Processed and refined flours are lacking in the same nutrient profile as whole grains (though the food industry adds in vitamins and minerals afterwards to try and make up for the loss). Many nutritionists recognize that the frequent presence of processed grains, aka flours, in the American diet are cause for many different health issues. David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Children's Hospital Boston says, "refined carbohydrates, including refined grain products, are the single most harmful influence in the American diet today."

Whole foods, such as rice and oats, have the greatest health benefits before they become processed. Since it is the sum of all their parts, including the bran, endosperm, and germ that provide high nutrition, we have to be careful when we isolate the health benefits of each of those three components. But one piece of the whole grain's puzzle that has great implications on our health is the presence of fiber. Without this valuable nutrient there is great potential to overeat. Fiber helps us feel full. Functional nutritionist Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, RD says this about processed foods: "It is so much easier to over consume any food where the work of chewing or digesting or separating fiber from starch has been done for us." Even two slices of whole-wheat flour bread can raise blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of sugar will. It is staggering to see that fact. And even further, it is staggering to realize that if we ate two sandwiches, or ate 2 meals with 2 sandwiches in a day, our blood sugar is repeatedly raised above the levels for optimum health.

What is a takeaway then? We need to be careful of our use of flours, and the foods that we eat that are comprised mainly of flours. These would include pastas, breads, and tortillas, among many others. The next few blog articles will focus on processed grains and simple ways that we can make healthier meal choices to benefit our health.

by Jared Scoville

 

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Mt Adams trip 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016  by goodlife

It was an odd feeling to start our hike at two in the afternoon. Just as odd was the experience of paying a parking fee that was only $1 per day near the trailhead. Usually a good time to start hiking is any time before 9am in my experience. And parking fees of a dollar or under are a bonus. Mt Adams was our challenge. Two of my best friends from college were my company.

As we entered the deciduous forest from the paved highway, everyday life was separated from life in nature. A border of leaves and bark gave us a new start to the day, to the weekend. The temperature sparked our perspiration. I certainly hadn't gotten a great sleep the night before, so that hinted to my mind why everything seemed even more of a challenge. Our first day we hiked along the Lowe's Path trail up towards our campsite. Lowe's path begins on the west side of the range of mountains that includes Mt Adams. We passed through medium growth forests, and mostly quiet woods. Our ascent was pure brotherhood. I looked at my college buddies and thought back to our younger selves. This was what I craved- to step away and be adventurous with these guys once again. We still carried our miniature Nerf basketball hoop and basketball though on the hike...there was no need for that to change. Three grown men climbing a mountain and playing basketball over roots and through low hanging leaf systems. The fountain of youth may actually be a passage through pristine woods.

Four hours later we arrived at our backcountry tent site. Fortunately there was one tent platform left. With ample time before dusk rolled in, we fumbled to make our tent fit on the platform. Of the several tents I own, clearly I had packed the wrong tent poles for this particular tent. But with a good "college try" we made our home for the evening on the side of Mt Adams. With a campsite name like "The Perch," there comes an expectation that the site is perched on something, or has some unique feature. And for the second time that I had stayed there, the perch over the landscape below was spectacular. After we set up our tent and unpacked our gear, my friend Calebe noticed a massive orange ball descending in the sky. We hustled down the uneven root steps to the base of the campsite, joining our fellow hikers. As a campsite we enjoyed a classic orange sunset in the mountains. It was long-lasting in my mind. As the orange ball dropped into the horizon I wanted to somehow block its descent, just to witness it for a little longer.

Day 2 was our summit day. Blueberry oatmeal over the backpacking stove woke up our muscles. Meals are not always guaranteed to be great on trips, but this meal got me even more excited for the day. The incline of the trail started out gradual, but quickly picked up to a significant challenge. After traversing horizontally along the south-western side of Adams, we came to the edge of a ravine. Our trail and weather conditions allowed us fantastic views of the ravine, and Mt Jefferson above it. Now above treeline, the winds recurrently pressed against our shell jackets. It is so comfortable to hike in 50 degree weather with winds. At the top of the ravine and off to the side, we came to a junction with a small pond. Now at 4,000-4,500 feet, Mt Adams appeared up around the clouds. It was a rocky giant.

Our final stretch along the trail was unforgettable. The clouds rolled past the ridge we hiked along. For most of our final ascent we were able to take in the views of Mt Washington out to our right. Mt Adams may be a giant, but Washington is the titan along this mountain range. At about 500 feet higher than Adams, and even higher than the mountains that neighbor it, it can be a delicacy just to see the top of it through the clouds. Through small stands of trees and small boulders, we continued towards Adams like 3 kids approaching a world class roller coaster. We knew of the danger and the risks, but excitement kept our backs straight with our weighted packs, and our feet agile over the uneven boulders. In the quickest moments the weather can change in these White Mountains. Along our hike next to the ravine, just before the trail junction, winds had already impressed us at 50-55mph. Not far from Thunderstorm Junction our trail split for the final several hundred yards up to Adams. Winds were a steady 60mph, with gusts up to 70 or 75mph. The final steps along the boulders before the peak were breezy. Enough to push us over a few steps. Then we stood on top of the giant. In every direction we took in the wilderness, the giants around us. The journey is everything for me. But to top it off with some of the most brilliant views I have experienced...it makes all the work of gathering hiking gear over the years, exercising regularly, and previous trips so worthwhile.

By Jared Scoville
 

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The colors of the rainbow...on your plate 

Monday, June 27, 2016  by goodlife

               Sometimes we become very concerned with how much of each macro nutrient we eat in our daily diet. That includes protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Though certainly it is important to have a healthy balance of those three general nutrients, there may be another detail in nutrition that can set us up for even greater health. It's a detail I don't always concern myself with enough. But since I began my vegetable garden again this year I am reminded of the importance of color. It is essential to have lots of color in our diet. Red, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, orange...how many of those colors do you and I see on our plates each day, or each week? Currently in my garden I have kale, red beets, golden beets, yellow squash, swiss chard (green), tomatoes (yellow, red, orange), and cucumbers (green) growing amongst others. The colors are starting to appear as the fruits, roots, or leaves of each crop appear and mature. For me it was a wake up call. Did I eat anything orange last week? Did I eat anything purple the last few weeks? What is so neat in the nutritional field of study is that each color in the plants we eat also gives great information on what nutrients the plant has. One of the well know ones is the color orange. Orange pigments in plants are greatly associated with the nutrient beta-carotene (among many others), a nutrient that is important for eye health and many other functions in the body. Purple is associated with anthocyanin, a very powerful antioxidant that is associated with helping promote stomach health and fighting against cancer.

              The next time you are buying groceries for yourself or your family, or picking up a meal for lunch, remember that the more colors on your plate, the greater variety of important nutrients you are ingesting. And the greater the variety of nutrients you eat, the greater the chance you are supplying your body with everything it needs to build healthy cells and support organ function. This coming fall I will be planting a radish variety that originates in northern China. It is green and white. The green pigment in this radish gives it a higher magnesium content. I can't wait to try growing it. The color will be neat to see as the top of the radish emerges from the soil. I am just as excited to have greater magnesium in my diet during that harvest. As the seed company I buy from likes to say…"let's eat a rainbow!" (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)

Jared Scoville

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