It's American Heart Month and I love the idea of focusing on our heart health instead of on heart candy! Increasing your cardio vascular health is very important when you consider that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. for both men AND women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three women die from heart disease each year. The good news is, you can take action to minimize your risk. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. From a nutrition standpoint, think about eliminating all sugar from your diet. Knowledge is power, so check out the article below on Sugar: The Sweet Lie. Since it is love month, how about showing yourself a little love this month. Honor your body by treating it well with a well-balanced diet and exercise. Both are important for your future. You only have one body to live in. It is a temple, so learn to honor and respect it by making small changes one day at a time.
SUGAR: "The Sweet Life"
I’m not sure how chocolate and candy hearts became the symbol for Valentine’s Day, but I do know that the latest research continues to show us that sugar can be significantly detrimental to our health. Here are just a few of the most noted harmful effects of sugar:
• Sugar causes inflammation. This is particularly harmful to those suffering from joint pain, arthritis, migraines and autoimmune conditions.
• Sugar suppresses the immune system. If you are suffering from a cold, the flu, bronchitis, or cancer, avoid sugar to give your body’s immune system the best opportunity at healing.
• Sugar feeds every cell in our body – including cancer cells. Several recent studies indicate that sugar may increase the growth of cancer cells; other research shows that it is the weight gain from sugar that increases our risk of cancer; especially harmful is increased fat around our heart and organs. Either way, reducing sugar may reduce our risk of cancer.
• Sugar is a main culprit in the growing epidemic of obesity and adult-onset diabetes in the U.S. According to health scientists at MD Anderson, the average American eats 260 cups of sugar a year! This isn’t just from sweets, it’s also from hidden sources, such as tomato sauce, salad dressing, “healthy” cereals, sodas, protein bars and more. READ the ingredients! If sugar is one of the first few ingredients I ALWAYS put it back.
• Sugar increases your triglycerides levels. Excess sugar (alcohol included) in the body turns into triglycerides and are stored in the fat cells throughout the body.
• Lastly, sugar is addictive. When we eat sugar our body releases the brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These are the same chemicals that addicts crave. So while you think having one or two pieces of heart-shaped chocolates or a few pieces of that Easter candy coming up won’t be too bad, your brain is thinking “I want more!” That’s why so many of us find it hard to resist sweet temptation. We crave what we eat.
WHAT CAN HELP?
Make small changes. We can do it all at once but each small change creates big results. Being proactive is much better and less expensive than being reactive.
One tool we use in my family to benefit our health is Juice Plus. My father had heart issues and it can sometimes be genetic and I want to do everything I can for me and my family and to educate ourselves on how to prevent heart disease. Juice Plus is not the end all be all to health, but it is a great tool, just like exercise, sleep, water, rest and a clean diet can be.
Research subjects who consumed Juice Plus+ were better able to maintain the normal, healthy elasticity of arteries, even after a high-fat meal; maintain normal levels of homocysteine, a waste product associated with heart health; and demonstrated positive effects on several other measures of vascular health.
Shown by four studies:
University of Maryland School of Medicine University of Sydney in Australia Vanderbilt University School of Medicine University of Milan, Italy
My advice? Make some changes, skip the sugar and add some good tools to your lifestyle!
Below is a clean and healthy sweet treat to enjoy!
Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Energy Bites
1 cup (dry) gluten free oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter or any natural nut or seed butter
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, to make the mix easier to handle and mold.
Once chilled, roll into bite sized portions. (Mine were about 1" in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
You can also make extra and put in freezer.
Makes about 20-24 bites.
*If the mix seems to dry, add in an extra tablespoon or two of honey or peanut butter. If the mix seems too wet (which may happen if you use natural peanut butter), add extra oatmeal.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”