If you’ve worked hard to achieve a healthy weight, you want to see (and maintain) the results inside and out.
To do that, avoid refined carbs (white bread, white rice) and fatty meats (including all red meat). They deliver saturated fat and trigger blood-sugar levels that bounce all over, fueling cravings and making it harder to stay trim.
The healthiest way to keep weight off once you’ve lost it is not to slash all carbs or eliminate healthy fat. A low-fat diet (20 percent of daily calories) causes your metabolism to slow down, so you burn fewer calories a day than you would (with the same amount of activity) on a more moderate diet. A low-carb diet (10 percent of daily calories) may crank up the fat burn, but it raises stress hormone levels. That increases inflammation and your risk of heart disease, cancer and overall grumpiness.
So, to keep from regaining weight, the winning formula is found around the shores of the Mediterranean: lots of unrefined carbohydrates (40 percent of calories from veggies and 100 percent whole grains); mono- and polyunsaturated fats (from olives, canola, avocados, walnuts, peanuts) and minimal saturated fat. Go easy on animal protein; make it from fish and skinless poultry. And do daily physical activity — keep up a 10,000-steps-a-day habit.
Bonus: A consistent diet reduces rebounding. If you keep your weight loss off for two years, your chances of keeping it off forever skyrocket.
That healing touch
If you’re standing at the soda machine with a buddy, and you think he’s put his hand on your shoulder, most likely the touch feels comfortable. If it turns out it’s a stranger, the same touch may feel intrusive or even aggressive. That’s because the area in your brain that registers the sensation of touch also serves up your emotional reaction to it. That’s what makes touch such a powerful force and why you want to make it (everything from massage to intimate cuddling) part of your routine to stay healthy.
Dr. Oz likes his cardio patients to have touch therapy before and after they’re in the operating room. He says reflexology (targeted foot massage) can ease everything from low libido to high blood pressure. Dr. Mike tries to get a massage weekly and advocates infant massage to promote bonding and neuromuscular development. Now, research shows that cancer patients get relief from depression and chemo-induced nausea and pain with Healing Touch or Therapeutic Touch massage. They also may see increased immune strength and better wound healing. And it may not matter if the healing powers of touch come from some magic medicine or simply from a placebo response — as long as you feel the benefit.
So reach out and touch someone. And let yourself be touched. Whether you hire a masseuse, do at-home reflexology or ask your doctor for massage to be part of your recovery, when mind and body work together, you harness the power to heal faster.
Vacation benefits without the hassles
What can boost your sex life, reduce your risk of heart attack, make you more successful at work and help keep your brain young? Omega-3 DHA? Aspirin? Well, maybe both. But there’s one sure thing: A vacation.
It breaks your routine, clears your mind and relaxes you. But these days, balancing work, family and a budget can put holidays on hold. So we’re dedicated to making sure you get the health benefits even if you stay home.
1. Get safe sunshine. In your backyard, hiking with the kids or touring a new city, getting more vitamin D-3 and relaxation is life-extending. Go for 1,000 IU of D-3 per day from vitamins, D-fortified foods and sun exposure.
2. Find nature. Whether you trek up a mountain or plant a bed of tulips, the sights, scents and sounds of nature reduce stress and crank up passion, and help you make better decisions at work. (Bring nature to work with plants or photographs.)
3. Laugh loud and long. Tickle your funny bone to bathe your body in feel-good hormones, fill your organs with oxygen-rich blood and lower your blood pressure.
4. Plan your next break. The delight of thinking about a holiday is as relaxing — or even more so — as taking one.
Exercise helps manage pain
Researchers in Germany looked at the difference between pain threshold (the point when a person first starts to feel pain) and pain tolerance (how much a person can take) in 550 athletes and more than 330 nonathletic adults. They concluded that the two groups had about the same pain threshold. But when it came to how much pain they could stand, athletes tolerated more than nonathletes.
So what does this mean? It means that if you thought that a sweat-packed exercise routine just reduced stress, decreased wrinkles, prevented obesity, type 2 diabetes and a host of other diseases, improved your brain power and cardiovascular and sexual health and sent happy-hormones coursing through your veins, there’s one more reward to add to the list. Regular exercise helps you tolerate pain better.
So put on a pair of walking, running or cross-training shoes and head out for those 10,000 steps, a 2-, 5- or 10-k run, and some weight training (two to three times a week) at the gym. But do it with some intensity. That way, when you’ve got a headache to push through or some minor back pain, you’ll be able to keep going and going and going.
Save your life: Leave your car at home
Every short hop you make in your gas mobile takes years off your life. We’ve gotten so leg-lazy that some say cars are the new tobacco and just as dangerous for public health.
Almost 50 percent of car trips in the U.S. are three miles or less; 25 percent are less than a mile. So you’ve got many chances to meet our new challenge: Replace one of your short car trips a day with a walk.
This is a great first step toward getting in your 10,000 steps a day. Steps that reduce stress, protect you from heart disease and type 2 diabetes and keep your brain sharp, skin less wrinkly and sex life lively. (You can walk about a quarter mile in five minutes; that equals around 500 steps.)
Other great ways to increase your stride time:
• Invest in a rolling shopping bag or trundle bag to carry whatever you’d have transported in the car.
• Eliminate elevators and escalators whenever possible.
• Play dates during the day? Walk your kids to their friend’s house, and walk back to pick them up later.
Walking opportunities are everywhere. You can slash your risk of death in the next few years by 24 percent if you get in seven hours of moderate activity a week. So drivers, turn off your engines.