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The Dirty Dozen

One thing that most of us have in common is the desire to live a long & healthy life. Part of reaching that goal includes getting adequate amounts of rest, exercise, fresh air and eating a healthy diet. Our diet is a large part of who we are and really contributes to our current state of health. So what should a healthy diet include? Food from the seven food groups of course, but especially fruits and veggies.

Have you heard the term “Dirty Dozen” buzzing around lately online and in the news? Many people will argue the point that organic produce is costly and when compared to non organic produce, it is all the same. But this is far from the truth. There is actually a list of fruits and veggies known as the Dirty Dozen that we must all look out for. Why? When it comes to non organic produce, there are many pesticides used in the farming process, to kill insects and protect the produce. Although these pesticides are successful at doing that, these from the dirty dozen are the fruits and veggies that are the most contaminated. Some of the pesticide residue still remains even after washing and peeling in some cases.

The fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen list include: Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, celery, strawberries, cherries, spinach, imported grapes, lettuce, potatoes and pears.

What does this mean in terms of health? While eating fruits and veggies do help us remain healthy, eating those from the dirty dozen may actually contribute to a few medical problems. Pesticide residue is ingested when we eat this produce and has been shown to cause certain types of cancer, disrupt reproductive function and affect the endocrine system. In addition to these medical issues, heavy toxicity from these pesticides have also been shown to cause birth defects and neurological problems in unborn children.

If you simply cannot afford organic, you may avoid the dirty dozen altogether and buy certain fruits and veggies that are non-organic, but safe from pesticides. These fruits and veggies have very little to none in terms of pesticide residue, or their outer skins are so tough, this prevents any pesticides from touching their edible parts. These include: eggplant, avocado, asparagus, mango, pineapples, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, sweet potatoes, watermelon, cauliflower and cantaloupe. In the end, making even moderate changes to our diet can make a world of difference in overall health and longevity. We are truly what we eat!

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Foods That Provide Hydration

Living in Florida, hydration is very important! Adequate hydration is a key factor in your maintaining your overall health and well-being. Staying properly hydrated is essential for your body to regularly perform important functions such as: regulating your body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Although the consumption of water or other liquids on a daily basis is an essential part of staying hydrated, there are multiple foods that you can incorporate into your everyday routine to increase your water intake.

Eating the USDA recommended amount of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will assist you in providing enough water intake for your body. The foods listed below have a high water content, and contain: fiber, vitamin C, electrolytes, potassium, magnesium, and numerous other essential nutrients. Sufficient nutrient intake can help prevent common medical ailments such as headache, fatigue, and dizziness.

Fruits and Their Water Content
Cucumbers : 96.7%
Watermelon: 91.5%
Oranges: 87%
Cantaloupe: 90.2%
Strawberries: 91.0%
Grapefruit: 90.5%
Tomatoes: 94.5%

Vegetables and Their Water Content
Broccoli: 90.7%
Cabbage: 95%
Sweet Peppers: 93.9%
Celery: 95.4
Spinach: 92%
Iceberg Lettuce: 95.6%
Radishes: 95.3%
Zucchini: 95%

By incorporating fruits and vegetables with a high water content into your diet, and regularly consuming water, you are helping your body to work better for you. If you feel thirsty, you are already in the process of becoming dehydrated. Including high water content foods into your meals is a straightforward way to keep the entire family properly hydrated and healthy. More information about the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables per day is available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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How to Sleep Better at Night

Sleep plays a vital role in your physical health, emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Yet medical reports show that one in three adults experience insomnia. Ongoing sleep deprivation impacts the way that our brains function and can even make us more at risk for certain chronic diseases. However, medical research has shown that there are numerous strategies that can greatly improve our sleep quality!

Exercise:
Daily exercise can help us sleep better. Researchers determined that adults who exercise for 30 minutes at least three to four times per week sleep on average, nearly 45 minutes to an hour longer than adults who do not exercise regularly. In addition to an improvement in sleep quality, people also feel more alert during the day. Although, it’s important not to exercise right before bed because this could actually keep you awake rather than helping you sleep!

Get on a schedule:
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and improve sleep quality. Erratic sleep schedules can leave you feeling groggy during the day since it impacts your body’s biological clock. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a consistent sleep pattern on workdays, weekends and holidays – no matter how badly you might want to sleep in!

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake:
Caffeine, a common stimulant in coffee, chocolate, sodas and tea, causes hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Try to avoid consuming caffeine after lunchtime. Additionally, health experts also claim that tyrosine-rich foods like fermented cheeses, avocados, some types of beer and red wine can worsen sleep quality. While some studies show that moderate alcohol might help you fall asleep, it actually contributes to sleep disturbances and frequent early awakening.

Manage stress:
Stress often contributes to insomnia by making it difficult fall asleep and stay asleep. The right amount of stress can help keep us alert and energetic during the day. Too much stress can make us anxious and tense, making it difficult to stop our racing minds when trying to fall asleep. It sends our brains into overdrive and can create a vicious cycle of insomnia. If you have a stressful job or find it difficult to turn off your mind at night, it may be beneficial to incorporate a stress management program into your daily routine.

Unplug:
Recent studies show just how much the white light from our smartphones, laptops, and televisions impact our sleep. Try to unplug and read a book instead an hour before you wish to fall asleep. This might take away some of your stress too!

Sleep is vital to our health – physical and mental! Get the rest your body needs by following our tips!

healthy-living

Can Healthy Living Save Your Life?

Living a healthy lifestyle and making healthy choices tends to be thought of as an investment in the future. But living a health oriented lifestyle is not just about the benefits to be had down the road. It’s about the benefits that you can see right now. Healthy living can save your life.

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