Cholesterol – The Unseen Enemy

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Diet, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts,Tags: , , ,
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High Cholesterol runs in my family so I am always (read: try to) watching what I eat.  I also get tested every year or so, to see how I am doing.  The last test I had showed a 8 point increase over 2 years, still in the healthy range, however, near the top of where my levels should be for my age/gender.  Basically I take it seriously but not so seriously that I don’t enjoy what I eat.  I’ve been cut open enough times to understand that if it can be avoided it should!  If you don’t believe me, please take my word for it.  With that in mind you can imagine my surprise when my brother-in-law (visiting from out of state) announced that his Cholesterol level was around …700!  What can I say, it surprised me he had a pulse!!

That is when I decided to write this article, not as an expert (I am not), but from my practical experience.  I do not take medication and will resist taking any for as long as possible.  I am not adverse to medication but do believe less is better.  So I focus on natural ways to lower cholesterol, my doctor may not agree with me and wish he could get the commission from the prescription, but I have at the least maintained my levels through personal effort.  I also realize every one’s body chemistry if different and you should listen to your doctor and yourself, not me.  You need to understand the differences between the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, I leave that up to you.  But if you find a few useful tips here, my effort is not wasted.

It is important to note that cholesterol is actually necessary for several very critical functions in the body.  However, excess cholesterol in the blood stream can be deposited in arteries and can cause plaque formation as well as harden arteries. Heart disease, heart attack and stroke may then result.

How do you reduce your Cholesterol naturally?  Basically you have to alter your lifestyle and diet.

Is it easy? Not always.

First of all, you need to maintain a healthy body weight.  While thin people can have unhealthy levels of cholesterol being overweight usually indicates an unhealthy lifestyle (to much food not enough activity).  Being overweight raises your LDL (bad) levels and lowers your HDL (good) levels.  That is why the first step to lowering your cholesterol is to loose weight.  Often this only requires a change in the foods you ingest.  The side benefit of this is you will feel better and have more energy!

There it is, Step One: Get to and Maintain a Healthy Weight.

Weight loss in general requires one thing, burning more calories then you consume.  The fastest way to lose weight is to reduce your calories and increase your level of exercise.  What is interesting about this process is the more you exercise the less hungry you will be…sound ridiculous but unless you are starving yourself it’s true!  Junk food can be quiet addictive (and bad for your cholesterol levels) so you may not feel this is true immediately, but stick with it and you will.

We need exercise for a lot of reasons, mostly we humans were not meant to be sedentary.  Like it or not you need to move around and get some exercise!  Exercise expends energy and pushes toxins out of your body, but it also forces your body to create more HDL (good) and convert/burn some of that bad cholesterol (LDL) into energy.  Imagine that.  As a Martial Artist, exercise also lubricates your joints, improves your flexibility and  heightens your awareness…sparring anyone?

The rule of thumb is a minimum of moderate exercise of about 30 minutes three to five times per week.  This will improve not only your cholesterol levels but will improve your heart health.  So many benefits!

Here is a no-brainer, stop smoking.  Smoking is stupid so you should stop.  Smoking is bad for you, and stupid, so you should stop.  Smoking increases LDL (bad) cholesterol, and it is stupid, so you should stop.  If you are still smoking, you are stupid…and, why are your reading this?!?

You are now exercising (or thinking about it) so how should you change your diet?

Obviously our diet is important to any aspect of our health.  To coin an old programming saying: Garbage In, Garbage Out.  However that doesn’t accurately depict the human body, probably more accurate would be: Garbage In, Garbage Stays…  If we consume a lot of cholesterol then our bodies are going to retain a lot of cholesterol.  Therefore it is critical to couple diet management with exercise.

There are different dietary factors affecting your body’s cholesterol stores:

Soluble Fiber binds to cholesterol and removes it from your body, making it a great way to naturally lower your cholesterol.  Soluble fiber is found in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  Basically eating natural foods is better…duh!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids can also lower cholesterol levels, these can be found in flax seeds and flax seed oil as well as cold fish such as tuna, sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel.  An interesting note about flax seed oil, it is one of the few oils that does not change it’s molecular make up when heated!  Many oils change when heated thereby reducing or eliminating their beneficial properties.  Olive Oil is another great oil which not only is thought to reduce cholesterol but has antioxidant properties as well.

In case you didn’t get the memo:  Saturated and trans fats are bad for you, as they can raise your total cholesterol.  You can determine if a product has trans fats by reading the label.  Most will identify trans fat in the percentage area, however, even if they say 0%, if they contain partially hydrogenated anything, they contain trans fat!  Basically most processed food contains trans fat, store bought cookies/cakes/etc.  Again natural and home made is better!  Saturated fats are found in meats and some oils, such as red meats, processed meats and poultry skin.

If you have a cholesterol problem you should also avoid dairy products, fried foods and surprising to most, some seafood, especially shell fish.

Well that pretty much seems to rule out most available foods that we tend to enjoy…!  Not true, unless you exist on Devil Dogs and Yoohoo!

Basically I go back to my earlier comment, eat (and cook with) more natural foods.  Don’t buy a box of cookies, make them from scratch.  I actually think it is cheaper to do that now given rising costs.  Cut the recipe’s sugar in half, don’t use margarine, substitute apple sauce for butter/margarine.  I am sure you can find many more tips via google.

To summarize the basics:

  • Get up and moving…exercise!
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Avoid junk foods
  • Avoid/reduce dairy products
  • Avoid all trans fats
  • Eat more natural foods

Easy right?  It actually is, the hard part is the change in behavior and mind-set that it requires.  Like all change it takes some work and effort.  However, I have never heard of denial lowering any one’s cholesterol…

Some people will go to extremes and become vegetarians (not that there is anything wrong with that!) personally I like meat to much for that and it really isn’t necessary.  There are also some herbs (garlic, green tea, psyllium, red yeast rice) that can also help in lowering your cholesterol, but there is no magic potion or secret trick regardless of what you may read online.  Beware of snake oil salesmen/women .

Any gains you will make in lowering your cholesterol by changing your diet are normally made within 3-6 months.  Aside from that you need to listen to your doctor and if necessary take a prescription drug to aid in your fight to lower your cholesterol.  Regardless there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle and it is never to late to change your ways and start living a healthy life style.

Good luck.

Goals & Resolutions

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, Diet, Events & Holidays, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
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A few days ago most of us made some type of resolution for the new year.  You may not admit it to anyone but it is there in the back of your mind, something you’d like to change or do different this year.  Call them Goals or Resolutions they equate to the same thing, a struggle with yourself, often a battle of endurance which requires willpower!  The most common resolutions focus on our personal selves, weight loss, getting into shape, attaining our next belt, other involve our careers or station in life, we will focus on the former here but what we will look at applies to both.  The problem with the resolutions most of us make is, they require hard work and effort.  Let’s face it if they didn’t we wouldn’t need things called resolutions or goals!

I don’t normally go in for a bunch of motivational gimmicks but I found this one that actually makes sense, SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
    (Get more in-depth details about Smart Goals here)

Basically this boils down a combination of “keep it simple stupid” and “being realistic and truthful”.  You can’t change if you set unrealistic goals, like I am going to loose 50 lbs next week, that is setting yourself up for failure, which if simply an excuse not to try.  I have known so many people who take this path, actually everyone takes this path eventually if they are not truthful with themselves.  We can learn a lot from addicts in this regard since it is easier to deny the problem then to deal with the problem.

So how do we get on track with our diet and fitness resolutions?  First keep reading this blog!  Secondly take the baby step method, I remember watching this in the old movie “What About Bob”.  You know what, it makes sense.  Break your bigger goal into achievable smaller goals, take small steps.  It may take longer to achieve your goal but the results will be lasting.  Nothing leads to short gains and long term losses then fad diets and an excessive ‘must have it now’ mentality.  The catch here is to make the goals achievable but useful, don’t be so easy on yourself that you aren’t moving towards your goal!  If you are trying to lose weight and you didn’t lose any last week, don’t have the attitude, “well at least I didn’t gain any!”  If you do, you will be saying “well at least I only gained a pound this week” before you know it.  Be honest with yourself but not easy!  This is training, no wimps allowed!!

I will leave you with this interesting study at the University of Hertfordshire which showed that the people most successful at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions did at least three of the following things:

  • broke their goal into smaller steps
  • rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these
  • told their friends about their goals
  • focused on the benefits of success
  • kept a diary of their progress.

There you have it, simple advice that will hopefully help you achieve your goals, regardless of when you set them…unless…

but you’re not that deluded…are you?

Entering the Health Care Fray

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, OffTopic, Politics, Recipes and Health Facts,Tags: , ,
2

I’ll be frank, I am disgusted with the leadership of this country, on both sides of the isle however moreso with the controlling party.  Having extensive experience with the Health Care system over the past 20+ years I can say with much authority, we have some of the best health care available on the Planet!  It has degraded over the past 20 years however this is due in large part to the culture of greed and increasing government involvement.  Most people speaking out and complaining about the high costs of health care have absolutely NO idea what they are talking about.  They have listened to the trash promoted by poloticians and people like Micheal Moore*.

Twenty or so years ago the government put the insurance companies im charge of health care because the insurance companies complained and lobbied the Doctors were making to much money and ordering tests that were unnecessary.  Sound familiar?  Roll forward twenty years and we have people complaining that insurance companies make to much money and to many tests are being denied!  Sound familiar now?  So who is going to rush in and fix the problem?  The same people who created it!!  And ‘We the People’ are stupid enough and short sighted enough to think they have our interests in mind.

I have two questions for everyone.

First, why do/did people have a problem with Doctors making a lot of money?  I don’t hear anyone asking for sports reform because the athletes are making to much money and that is driving up ticket prices!  Maybe that is next, and then in twenty years we can go after the owners for making to much money?!  That IS a valid example.  But for some reason we had/have a problem with the people who are responsible for keeping us healthy making to much money.  I call that jealousy.  Was there abuse?  Yes, but there were systems in place to stop that problem.

Second, why are people almost always willing to think that the people who caused the problem are capable of fixing it or more importantly admitting they made a mistake?  Because most people are stupid and incapable of critical thought.  If you find that offensive then that statement probably applies to you.

The business reasons against Health Care are obvious to any rational, realistic  person but that is best said here.

I could go on for pages but need to go find a way to pay for my increasing health care coverage!

*(Moore, as in there is more of his ignorant people exploiting, fat millionaire ass by the minute – sorry I couldn’t resist)

Hungry?

ktadmin Posted in Diet, Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes,Tags:
0

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

I am a pretty fit guy but I love to eat, don’t we all?  Like most people I have a couple pounds I could stand to loose, five to be exact.  As a guy who loves to eat I can eat large portions with the best of them!  Lately I have been realizing that I don’t just eat when I am hungry, something else makes me want to fill my face, boredom.  We all know stress can lead to overeating but boredom?  It is true.  When I am home I rarely snack or overeat, but when I’m in the office most days I feel incredibly hungry!  Since I am doing less physical activity there are only two explanations, stress or boredom.  Most days it is not stress since I deal with that pretty well.

The next time you go to put something in your mouth just ask yourself, and I hungry or just bored?  If you’re bored put down the food and excite your mind with a new activity.  Yes you will still feel hungry but you have a strong warrior spirit, focus your mind on your new activity and wait until meal time.  Discipline is the key.

An Amazing Fitness Tool

ktadmin Posted in Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes
3

I just discovered an web tool for anyone remotely interested in better understanding their diet! The web site is Calorie Connect (dot com) and it is by far the simplest and most useful site like it that I have come across and best of all IT IS FREE! In just under 5 minutes I was able to create an account, log in all of my meals and activities for the day. Then I could immediately see not only my calorie intake/burn but the break down of the calories I consumed. Once I record a food it stays in my recent food list so adding it for another day just got even easier. If you are like me your diet from day to day doesn’t vary that much (or perhaps I’m just dull!) Here are two examples of the type of at a glance information you get (I created some random food selections and exercise for these charts):

Nutrition Fast FactsQuick View Diet Exercise Comparisons

Sodding Sugary Soda

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes
0

Extra Big Gulp!Americans have the most access to food in the world and yet we eat the worst, what is up with that?! We eat and eat and never seem to get full too! Part of the reason for this is the lifestyle we live, the other is the food we actually have access to eat. Our lifestyle we can change but can we really change the food we have access to? The answer is that depends…if you are willing to spend the time and of course with the money anything is possible. One of the biggest contributors to health and obesity problems in this country is artificial additives, from radiating our meat to chemical flavor enhancers to the topic today, high fructose corn syrup. In the USA high fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods. Most of us don’t even know we are eating it, as the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year! That means the average American is consuming 51.6 grams of high fructose corn syrup a day! The USDA daily recommends your daily diet contain no more then 32 grams (8 tsp) of added sugar per day for a person with a 2000 calorie diet (calculate how many calories you should consume a day).

Before we continue let’s take a second and examine why we care about high fructose corn syrup. To be clear there is no conclusive evidence (no accepted studies done) that high fructose corn syrup is detrimental to your health. High fructose corn syrup contains the same amount of fructose as sugar. Despite this there is concern in the health community. The reasons include the fact that beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have a higher level of carbonyl’s (reactive compounds) which ARE linked to cell and tissue damage that causes diabetes. Also many nutritionists think that we can better process natural foods then food additives and artificial foods. Makes sense to me but my personal reasons are one foods with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup taste better; and, it just makes sense that natural is healthier. With that out of the way let’s get back to our discussion.

There is some good news and some bad news… The good news is that “added sugar” means “man added” so sugars found in fruits and vegetables are free! Of course eating fruits and vegetables is expensive but that’s not the bad news… The bad news is that the above figures do not include our additional consumption of sugar! See the key word when looking at the daily allowance of 32 grams of “added sugar“. Take a look at what comprises “Added Sugar”…

    Names for added sugars on food labels include:

  • brown sugar
  • corn sweetener
  • corn syrup
  • dextrosePassover Coke
  • fructose
  • fruit juice concentrates
  • glucose
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • maltose
  • malt syrup
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • syrup

So here is the bad news is that the amount we discussed earlier of high fructose corn syrup consumed doesn’t include other sugars! While most of us don’t even know we are eating 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year; we also need to understand that the average American is eating an additional 44.5 lbs of sugar per year! That means the average American is consuming 55.3 grams of sugar a day! Combined the average American consumes 86 lbs of added sugar per year or 106.9 grams of added sugar per day! Remember that the USDA daily recommends your daily diet contain no more then 32 grams of added sugar per day. That means the average American is consuming almost 75 grams more added sugar then the daily recommended amount. Shocking or Not? To illustrate why this is bad news; by drinking one can of soda a day the average person will gain 5 lbs in one year. A can of soda contains between 31 and 36 grams of sugar or your entire daily allowance.

    Foods that contain most of the added sugars in American diets are:

  • regular soft drinks
  • candy
  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pies
  • fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch (not 100% fruit juices)
  • milk-based desserts and products, such as ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk
  • grain products such as sweet rolls and cinnamon toast

Now that we have all of this information and a pretty good picture of what this means to our health; what are we going to do? The scale doesn’t lieI personally do not believe in sudden drastic change unless you are in an extreme situation (health, risk of death, etc). Sudden drastic change is usually to difficult to stick with which can only lead to failure. To really make a change start small, instead of cutting out snacks between meals right away switch to healthy snacks for 3-4 months, then cut down on the snacks and eventually make the jump to no snacking between meals within 6-9 months. This is a realistic plan and will help you cut your overall added sugar consumption since most snacks are high in calories and added sugars. Cutting out between meal snacks will reduce your daily calorie intake which of course will lead to weight loss. It is important that you couple the weight loss with exercise or your body will loos muscle mass before losing fat which can be detrimental to your health (watch for the upcoming article about muscle loss and maintenance!). It takes a minimum of 3 months to make something a habit but if you are breaking a life long bad habit it can take longer so be patient with yourself but not soft on yourself! Improving your diet can be costly however if you are eating less it should be a wash in the long run. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself occasionally as well but be careful it doesn’t make you fall off the wagon. Use your rewards as a goal (ice cream on Friday night, etc) but try to push yourself to better goals too. When Friday rolls around perhaps you forgo the ice cream to Saturday night or the next week, thereby increasing your willpower and shaping new positive habits by proving to yourself that you can go without those extra unhealthy sweets if you really want to, it is empowering and rewarding to have that control!

Now that you understand your diet a little better and what it presently contains perhaps you can improve your situation. The better you feel the better you can train! That’s what it is all about reaching new heights of personal achievement that is why you are working towards your black belt or next rank. Use your goals to help you improve your whole life and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!! Good luck, train hard, train often!

And by all means post your questions, comments, personal stories and additions to the comments section!

Body Part Regeneration

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, News, Recipes and Health Facts, Video
1

This is amazing and well worth sharing here so more people will know this type of technology is available. If this can help you or anyone you know please pass it on and by all means let us know if there is anything we can do to help.

These doctors are the real heroes of our generation. I wish they would get as much press as some of our dysfunctional athletes.

Here is a 3 part talk on regenerative medicine by expert Alan Russell…

Kei Betty Fried Rice!

ktadmin Posted in Entertainment, Recipes and Health Facts, Video
2

Great Chicken Fried Rice! I came across this great recipe with a very amusing presentation. Betty has Martial Arts Appeal and we are more then happy to present her here 🙂


If you couldn’t write that all down fast enough here is the Ingredient list and Directions or you can print it from the PDF Betty was gracious enough to make available. Happy Cooking!

    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Jasmine white rice
  • 2 green onions (aka spring onions)
  • 2 wheels medium sweet white onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ¾ – 1 cup chopped chicken
  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce (to taste)
  • canola oil
  • salt & pepper
    Directions:

  1. Prepare one cup Jasmine white rice. That’s 3 cups cooked white rice, yo.
  2. Allow the rice to cool or even chill out in the refrigerator before you use it.
  3. Dice green onions, white onion and carrot. Mince garlic; set aside. Shred or chop grilled chicken; set aside.
  4. Saute green onions, white onion and carrot in your biggest, flattest skillet with a dash of salt and a crack of pepper in 1 tsp canola oil over medium heat until tender and golden. Remove from heat.
  5. Cook 2 eggs in 1 tsp of canola oil. Start with a fry and end with a scramble. Don’t forget the salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  6. Add 1 tbsp canola oil to medium-high heat pan. Begin cooking the rice in small batches, gradually adding rice to pan. The rice will not brown, per se, but begin to get a little color around the edges. Fry plain rice 5-7 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle low-sodium soy sauce over frying rice. Toss.
  8. Add a scant tablespoon of butter. Toss.
  9. Fry rice, soy sauce and butter for another 5 minutes.
  10. Add sauted vegetable mixture and eggs. Toss.
  11. Lower heat to medium-low and add chicken, garlic and finish of soy sauce. Toss a few more minutes and enjoy!

For an added treat serve with some steamed broccoli. A sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and a dash of Sriracha never hurt either! Buy the ingredients using the provided links and help support the Pride Lasts Scholarship while satisfying your appetite!

Check out some of Betty’s other great Recipes at her site.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

ktadmin Posted in Recipes and Health Facts
0

Oven Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Sweet Yellow Onion
  • 1 Yellow and/or Zucchini Squash (optional)
  • 3 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Mince Garlic

Wash and chop all vegetables. You can either rough cut the vegetables or cut them in strips or cubs, your preference.

Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray. Spread vegetables evenly on the pan, and then spray again (toss with a spatula to coat). Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Remove vegetable from oven and place in a bowl. Toss with vinegar and garlic. Serve!

Prep Time: 40-50 Minutes
Serves: 3-4 People

Yummy Cherry Pie

ktadmin Posted in Events & Holidays, Recipes and Health Facts
0

In preparation for President’s Day I thought I’d share this Cherry Pie recipe:

First you need a Pie Crust:

Standard Pie Pastry
For a 9-inch single-crust pie:
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 tablespoons ice water
1/2 cup Crisco© or other good shortening
For a 9-inch double- or lattice-crust, just double this recipe.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Note: Glass (Pyrex©) pie plates generally make better pie shells than those made of metal.

Put the Crisco in a medium bowl. Over it, pour 1 cup of the flour and the salt, reserving 1/4 cup flour. With your pastry blender (some old timers use a fork), cut the flour and salt into the Crisco until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine the reserved 1/4 cup of flour with the 2-1/2 tablespoons ice water (estimate, or, if you must be exact, a half tablespoon equals 1-1/2 teaspoons) in a cup to make a smooth paste. Pour the paste over the pastry mixture and continue cutting in with the pastry blender until incorporated. Remember, the less you work the dough, the lighter and flakier the pastry. Form the pastry into a ball, flatten and roll between sheets of waxed paper (you may see little veins of Crisco here and there, but that’s okay) to a thickness of about 1/8 inch and 1-1/2 to 2 inches wider than the pie plate.

Peel off the top piece of waxed paper, invert a 9-inch pie plate on dough surface, and turn the sheet of dough and the pie plate over. Center the dough on pie plate, if necessary, and peel off the second sheet of waxed paper (tear off in pieces, if you like). Fit the dough into the pie plate without stretching it. If the dough tears a little, just pinch it back together.) Trim the dough to overhang the edge of the pie plate by about 1-1/4 inches, then turn under to make an edge. You can put a fancy crimp in the edge at this point, if you wish.

Pre-Baked Pie Shells:
For a pre-baked pie shell, prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork to avoid bubbles developing, and bake in a 425°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

Cherry Pie

Now make the filling!

Grandmas Cherry Pie

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-1/3 tablespoons butter (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 14.5-ounce can of pie cherries, NOT cherry pie filling (look for Pitted Red Tart Pie Cherries in water)
  • Pastry for double-crust pie

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and undrained cherries. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils (about 6 or 7 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Pour mixture into a 9-inch unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust, seal edges and crimp. If a lattice crust is not used, put one or several vents in the crust. Bake at 425°F for 30 to 35 minutes until crust is brown.

YUM! Perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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