Day 65 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Eating Out Alert Edition Part II

not so healthyAs we have written about several times, eating out is never as healthy as eating in with food you prepare. When you choose the fresh vegetables, the organic berries from the local farmers market you pretty much know what you are getting. That being said eating out is fun, eating out is a treat. Sometimes you just don’t want to have another thing to do (make a meal). So reality, this life thing, makes eating out something we all do. There is another really important reason to eat out at healthy places. If you don’t they will go away and you will be left with the waste land of fast food crap. So EAT local, shop LOCAL and support your local businesses. We feel this in spades because we are not just holistic believers we are entrepreneurs so BUY LOCAL. O.K. back on point…..So since we are going to eat out and this is about changing your life to live an extraordinary one by living holistically how do you make the best choices?

There are more and more local, organic based, fresh food cafe’s and restaurants. This is a wonderful choice for two reasons. BUY local is powerful. Don’t complain there is no organic fruit and vegetables in your local market if you don’t suck up the higher cost and buy them. Deb goes a step further and consistently tells whomever she comes in contact with you need more organic…… in the market we go to most often. Be a polite militant and perhaps this food finds itself into their coffee/sandwich shop and now you have another place. In other words you must be politely militant about wanting healthy, locally sourced, truly fresh choices.

What if you are traveling or if there just is not a great local joint? Are there any chain restaurants out there that are decent? We got such a huge thumbs us from our Subway post and the crock that their “eat fresh” tagline is we figured why not tell you where to avoid eating. Now the danger here is you might assume if we do not list it, it is good food, NO it just means it is either to small for us to look at our it is not terrible. Please read the first paragraph again. The best is what you make yourself, second best local organic joints that use locally sourced foods. Last healthy choice is everything else. So here are three broad categories, if you will, of joints to avoid.

First of all forget ALL the chain pizza joints, Domino’s, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Cici’s Little Caesar’s, forget them ALL. CRAZY sodium levels and saturated fat all over the place and that is just for starters. The WORST of the worst is Sbarro’s Pizza. Yes John LOVES Sbarro’s but it is a twice a year guilty pleasure. Over sized portions and just CRAZY fat, sodium and calories.

Next any fried chicken joint. Sounds obvious but people will talk themselves into these places by saying, “the pinto beans are good” or, “The small slaw isn’t bad” KFC, Bojangles, Church’s, Popeye’s etc. FRIED = trans fats and nothing more needs to be said, stay away, stay away.

Lastly the burger palaces. McDonalds and Burger King. We know we have “endorsed” the egg McMuffin but with a bunch of “last resort” disclaimers” As a general rule WAY to many calories and saturated fat in way to much of their food.

Some of these places do have reasonable food choices and are adding more but are you disciplined enough to skip the fried chicken meal for a grilled, skinless breast? Even if you are the odds that the chicken you are eating is not shot full of anti-biotics and growth hormones is a bit of a dice roll.  We will close by saying, none of these places are going to kill you if you indulge once in a while but a steady diet (more than one meal a week) is NOT going to help your health.

Want to read more? Click here.

Eat local, eat truly fresh, eat organic!

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Day 62 of Your 66 Days To Your Extraordinary Life – An Actual Day

holisitc livingFor those of you who have been with us for 61 days, holistic living is becoming a habit. For those just starting to read this blog, this post will serve as an example of a typical non-workday. Perhaps before we hit day 66 days, we will do another for a work day. We decided to write about our day at the end of the day. In other words this was not a planned day. We very naturally live our days including nourishment to mind, body and our spirit, every day.

John got up a bit before Deb, after sleeping for nearly 8 hours (Deb went to sleep after John). He did his morning prayer, took a peak at email and exchanged a couple of texts with his daughter. After Deb got up they had coffee in bed, something they do every day that one of them is not traveling. After getting ready for the day it was off to Panera bread for breakfast. Egg white and avocado sandwiches were the breakfast of choice for both. After this, it was some light shopping, which is much more about moving than it is about shopping. After a couple of hours of walking, it was back home.

They gathered up the dogs and headed to a local park that had a wonderful wooded area to do some trail walking. This was a great connection to nature, since when in the woods you can not see any houses or soccer fields- nothing but the stream that runs along the path and nature. Peaceful and wonderfully simple movement with their 4 legged children. Back home where Deb did some straightening and cleaning, in the house, and John some work outside for a bit. Then it was off to a late lunch/early dinner. This was a new place they had not eaten at before in nearby Belmont NC. (Let us stop for a moment to say we eat out about 3 times a week, in total. So this is an unusual day for but we wanted to record a  perfectly balanced day.) Back to the blog. They shared a wonderful scallop appetizer, and Deb had a salmon salad and John a delicious lump crab sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. Back home they settled in to watch a mindless, but entertaining movie. Then they watched a documentary about the highest peak, in southeast Asia. It was a fascinating and stimulating documentary. The day finished as it started with prayer and reflection.

We obviously did not include our discussions, some personal, but one thing is certain we are always discussing the future and new adventures and how to get there. We never are done growing, challenging ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually.  The one thing that is certain, is that when we do decide on doing something we go for it, always and without hesitation. As the expression goes, faith without works is dead. We have faith and we don’t mind the work. The only thing we never discuss, mostly because we never think about it, is any boundary related to age. We truly do not consider age, unless we are discussing retirement financials, or where we desire to live, when we are both done working. Other than those two areas we truly believe age is irrelevant to anything we want to do.)

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Day 61 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Alkalinity and Your Body Edition

alkaline dcietWe have been hearing a lot about the connection between alkaline and acidic PH in the body and the connection to cancer and other diseases. The premise is this and comes from the extensive research Dr Otto Warburg did on cancer in the 1960s- all normal cells have a requirement for oxygen. Once these cells are deprived of oxygen they can become cancerous. Essentially, alkaline PH is full of oxygen and acidic PH is not. The PH in our bodies depends on what we eat and if we eat right, these levels are balanced. If we eat a diet rich in animal instead of vegetable, the balance is compromised. Sugars and processed food also contribute to creating acid in our bodies and shift us away from the slightly alkaline 7.365 PH our blood should be. As a result of our processed food and high sugar diet Americans are in a state of chronic acidosis more than individuals in other modern countries. In one study high acidic PH levels were associated with osteoporosis in elderly women and as a result, fractures. The theory is that the body borrows calcium in order to correct the issues with PH balance. It can also raid magnesium, iron and other minerals from the body.

Some of the health issues associated with over acidification levels are:
bladder/kidney function
weight gain and obesity
slow digestion
osteoporosis
premature aging
mutations leading to cancer

Foods that improve PH balance:
spinach
sweet potatoes
cabbage
greens
carrots
tomatoes
alkaline water
fresh vegetables

Stay away from artificial sweeteners like Equal, and aspartame. They also create acidity in the body, similar to processed sugars.

One other little tip:
Take 1/3 teaspoon of soda and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Mix together until it fizzes. Add a bit more soda until it stops. Pour into an 8oz glass of filtered water and drink it. Do this a couple times a week, along with a mainly fresh, vegetable diet.

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Day 60 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Wonderful Healthy Meatball Italian Soup Recipe

meatball soupWe talked a couple of days ago about preparing food ahead, so on busy evenings when you are pressed for time, you don’t have to get in the car or pick up the phone for dinner. Our prepared food menu includes quite a bit of soup, salads, corn tortillas with bean or meat fillings-and always fresh picco de gallo. Corn tortillas are pure, just corn and some vegetable oil but again read the label of your favorite product and local is better. The soup I made Sunday which we finished last night is called turkey meatball Italian soup- the recipe is below.

turkey mild Italian sausage

cannelloni beans in the can-organic

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

small box of organic chicken broth

can of organic tomatoes

1/4 onion chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Parmesan to grate

parsley-loosely chopped

Combine broth, tomatoes and spices in  large dutch oven. Heat until just before the liquid boils. Drop onion and garlic into the hot liquid. Meanwhile remove the casings from the Italian sausage. Roll the sausage into small balls, like meatballs. Drop them into the now softly boiling liquid, one at a time. After all sausage has been added, open the can of beans and drain. Add the beans to the now simmering liquid. Simmer for an hour and taste. The taste should be a little salty and full of Italian flavor. If it needs a bit more zap, add another chopped clove of garlic and onion powder and simmer for another 15 minutes. Often we need three garlic but it is personal preference. Before serving grate Parmesan on the top  of the soup and add parsley. It is a low calorie, hearty meal with calories about 225 for a large bowl. Often we eat it with a salad and Ann’s organic bread, made by Ann, in Asheville but choose your favorite local bread.

GUILTY PLEASURE HEALTHY TREAT:

We eat an amazing little square of dark chocolate in the early evening after whatever our dinner is. Make sure it has at least 70% cacao in it. Real research showing it helps lower blood pressure, all be it slightly, and NO evidence it is bad for you in any way :) Deb’s choice…Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt with roasted almonds. YUMMY. John is more of a traditionalist, Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao. GO FOR IT, you earned it. Your empty almond bag proves you hit on all cylinders today!!

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Day 59 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Stress Relief

We are nearly at our goal! 66 Days of transforming our habits so we can be on our way to a new and extraordinary life! Although we know good food, exercise, proper sleep, humor, mental stimulation and  deep spiritual commitment all lead to a greatly reduced amount of stress, we thought we would share a superb article from our favorite web site, mayoclinic.org.

Do you know anyone who isn’t at times stressed out these days? The pace of modern life makes stress management a necessary skill for everyone. Many people juggle multiple responsibilities, work, home life, care giving and relationships. Learning to identify problems and implement solutions is the key to successful stress reduction.

The first step in successful stress relief is deciding to make stress management an ongoing goal, and to monitor your stress level.

Once you start monitoring your stress level, the next step is identifying your stress triggers. When or under what situations do you experience the most stress? Some causes of stress are easy to identify, such as job pressures, relationship problems or financial difficulties. But daily hassles and demands, such as commuting, arranging child care or being over committed at work, also can contribute to your stress level.

Positive events also can be stressful. If you got married, started a new job and bought a new house in the same year, you could have a high stress level. While negative events in general are more stressful, be sure to also assess positive changes in your life.

Once you’ve identified your stress triggers, you can start thinking about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what aspect of the situation you can control is a good starting point.

For example, if you have a difficult time falling asleep because you’re stressed out, the solution may be as easy as turning off the TV when the evening news is too distressing. Other times, such as high demands at work or when a loved one is ill, you may only be able to change how you react to the situation.

And don’t feel like you have to figure it out all on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends. You may want to ask them what stress-relief techniques have worked well for them.

And many people benefit from daily practice of stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, tai chi or yoga. Many people manage stress through practicing mindfulness in meditation or being in nature.

And remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle to help manage stress — eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Having a healthy lifestyle will help you manage periods of high stress.

Stress won’t disappear from your life. And stress management isn’t an overnight cure. But with ongoing practice and incorporation of resiliency into your lifestyle, you can learn to manage your stress level and increase your ability to cope with life’s challenges.

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Day 58 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Not so “fresh” food

junk in our foodEvery time we turn around there is something new about a restaurant, Chipotle and e.coli, the sodium levels at Olive Garden, and it goes on and on. By the way Chipotle’s issues, hurt our heart because overall it is one of the better chain choices (more on this a bit later). We’ve talked about Subway quite often and because Deb generally eats out for lunch, it’s been her “go to” place because it is close.  Deb would have a chopped salad with a spoonful of tuna but now we hear it isn’t any better than a double thick burger at…fill in the blank. Add “fresh” to your list of BAD words and phrases. Words like “natural” or “low sodium”, “fat free” and or “sugar free”.  “Eat fresh” is a great tagline, in fact it sucked us in and we really pay attention to what goes in our bodies. The reality is, is fresh really means the turkey, or at least what Subway calls turkey, may not be frozen but it contains more preservatives and chemicals than the cheapest pack of cold cuts in your grocery store. A few specifics about Subway. The black olives have dye that keep them black. The bread contains azodicarbonamide, a bleaching agent most commonly used, wait for it, in the production of foamed plastics! Of course Deb always knew not to eat the bread or meat, but even Deb never saw that coming. There’s a host of other things we were surprised to hear and now we find ourselves eating out less and less. Now, our go to place is the restaurant at the Organic Marketplace. You know exactly what you are getting and it is delicious. So, how is it possible to live a super, busy life and very rarely get in the car to go out during the week or dial up pizza? Well all is not lost. Deb is going to give you some great ideas on making “mass meals” but we wanted to provide a list of the healthiest chains according to health.com.

-Panera Bread – We eat here once a week and although sodium runs high, overall it is the best large scale chain out there, by far

-Jason’s Deli

-Au Bon Pain

Finally, a drum roll, please. When you are really running late and did not get your protein drink made go to, McDonalds, yes McDonalds and get an egg McMuffin. At 300 calories it is a pretty well balanced breakfast. NOT something you eat daily but it is predictable, available on every corner and gives you a good protein infusion, which is critical in the morning.

On Sundays Deb make meals for the week. This last Sunday she made turkey white bean chili and turkey Italian meat ball soup. For Deb’s turkey white bean recipe see the link below. We actually have a full video (don’t worry it’s like 6 minutes long) on making this very healthy meal. Tomorrow she will provide the recipe for turkey italian meat ball soup.

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Day 55 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Beware of Some Beef Edition

meatWe were reading a great little magazine at a wonderful organic eatery, called “natural awakenings”. It was loaded with great tips and small articles on a wide array of topics. One we found particularly helpful and informative was on beef. First of all eat beef sparingly, if at all. If you are going to it though, read this entire blog. The first part will scare you but you need to know the truth. The second part will give you some specific guidance on eating healthy beef. So for our vegetarian and vegan or pescetarian readers might want to skip over the first section. That being said it is very good information so perhaps it will stimulate the mind, if not your appetite :)

First the ugly, bad news about most of our beef in America. More than 90% of feedlot cattle receive hormone implants to promote rapid growth. Another frightening statistic is the root cause of the growing resistance to antibiotics. Again, those that choose to eat, “normally sourced” beef are consuming large amounts of antibiotics. Over time, our body builds up resistance to these, so when we really have a need for them, they are not effective. If antibiotics become ineffective we could return to the days where simple infections were often fatal. So, where are many of us getting these antibiotics? We are getting them from beef. 70% of all antibiotics sold in America, are sold to stem infection in animals being raised in unsanitary and overcrowded spaces. All of these hormones and antibiotics are particularly dangerous to children. That being said they certainly are not a great choice for adults either.

So if you enjoy beef from time to time what is one to do? Well there are ways to get beef the way beef used to be before it turned into the mess it has become. Here are some specific things to look for, and to do, when buying beef:

-Choose only certified organic meats

-Select grass-fed and grass finished meats

-Buy from locally sourced/family livestock farms

-Do not eat meat more than twice per week.

We would tell you if you cannot find the first three items, don’t eat the meat at all. Stick with fresh fish and a largely vegetarian diet.

Finally portion control. We loved this tip, it really made so much sense we are surprised we have never read it or even heard it before. Pay very close attention to portion size. About 3 ounces. We have all heard of no more than a fist sized portion, well for beef make that about the size of a deck of cards. Here is the really cool tip. Think of beef or any type of meat as a side dish, not the main dish. Have most of your plate filled with fresh vegetables, leafy greens, beans and legumes. The meat is not the center piece of your meal it is a compliment to the other items. What a great way to view any meat, or poultry, for that matter.

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Day 52 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – No, Really, Age is Just a Number

mature fitnessThis is a “continuation” blog, meaning we are writing more about what we wrote on day 51. Yesterday, we had discussed a different topic for this morning’s post but then we went to dinner. We have been visiting churches in our area, still searching for a new church home. Last night we had dinner with the Minister of a church we have been attending for about a month. During the get to know you portion, that always occurs, we realized all of us had 84+ mothers in various degrees of health. The minister shared with us his mother, age 92, was fighting the challenges of post cancer treatments. He also dropped an oh by the way that she just set the world record for the oldest person to complete a full marathon. We were stunned. We had seen this story on CBS Sunday morning, a month or so ago and were brought to tears by the tenacity of this woman. Fast forward to last night and we are eating dinner with her son. How cool is that! The 61 year old minster, also just coming out of a bought with cancer himself, has been inspired to join his Mom next year. Yes, she plans on running the San Diego marathon at age 93.

Well, if you need further proof of the myth of chronological aging, even when fighting something as horrible as cancer, look no further than this lady and her son. We talk about this transformation being a permanent change of lifestyle and along with that change comes many benefits. The primary benefit is a leveling off, or actually a reduction in your functional age- the age your body (including your mind which we always feel compelled to mention even though most of us know our brain/mind is part of our body) really is. You have a massive affect on your health, the earlier you start living holistically, the better, but if you are 85 and have never done anything close to this, start today. We are bombarded with preconceived notions about our age which we need to simply disregard. An example of this is until 10 years ago, it was strongly considered dangerous for people over the age of 60 to do resistance training. They were….too old. You might remember an earlier post when we talked about people past 40 losing 1-2% of their muscle mass per year. We also wrote that this could be halted and in fact reversed, meaning a 60 year old can ADD muscle. What we did not make clear is, why people past 40 lose muscle mass. The assumption would be it is just part of the aging process. This fits nicely into the narrative that our bodies just decline because they do. The reality is the narrative drives the deterioration, not our bodies. Said another way we are told to start “taking it easy” as we age. So since we are getting older we do exactly that, the result is we begin to atrophy. The more we atrophy the more we slow down. We are O.K. with this because after all we are getting older. Even our friends and family join in and typically either give us a pass or even worse warn us about too much activity.

Stop the madness and get control of your life. Absolutely work with your doctor, especially if you have not been living an active, healthy lifestyle, but at the end of the day it is your body. Aging is part of life, getting old is a choice. I’m sticking with that until I stop seeing people like Mom Vincent working out with resistance bands at 92 and the minster’s mom cranking out a full marathon at the same age.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER.

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Day 50 of Your 66 Day To An Extraordinary Life – Dedicate Exercise

fitnessToday is national fitness day, or something like that, so when in Rome….As our regular reader and subscribers know the bulk of what we write about, with respect to exercise, is around either accidental or intentional exercise. The intentional exercise piece, is  centered around planning your workday better to make sure there is movement. Today is about more traditional intentional exercise, we will simply call it traditional exercise.

When Deb and John first met, Deb would get a kick out of John’s view of exercise.  If you did not have gym shorts on, and you were not going for a jog, or working out with weights, for x amount of time, you were not exercising. Very rigid, very old school view of exercise, and frankly not where most of us will get our exercise from. That being said, we should absolutely build in 4 sessions per week of traditional, intentional exercise. That way you assure all muscle groups are being worked consistently. Stretching, followed  by a 30 minute brisk walk, fast bike ride or jog, either out in a mall (no bicycles in the mall, please) or outside if the weather permits, or on a treadmill. Make sure you stretch after you finish as well. Start to finish these are 40-45 minute sessions. Next workout is pure resistance training, free weights or resistance bands. We demonstrate several different exercises in our videos (link at bottom of every blog post). After stretching work two or three specific body parts, i.e. shoulder, chest and back, or legs, arms and stomach. The goal here is each exercise has you performing 3 sets with 10-12 repetitions of exercise in each set. Use enough weight, or tension on your bands to have great difficulty getting to 12 but you can at least do 10. When finished remember to stretch out again. Resistance training is not only critical for maintaining muscle mass as we age ( we lose 1 1/2 to 2% per year beginning around age 40 unless we do something about it) it also raises your BMR because muscle needs to be “fed” all day.  Always give a day or rest between this type of dedicated exercise whether it be running or weight training and never work the same body parts, two workouts in a row. Either the 3rd or 4th workout each week is a stacking workout, which we have talked about in an earlier blog. Basically stacking is combining your cardio with resistance training. Stop jogging and do some squats, lunges, or push ups. Stacking is best done in a gym, or at home (jog in place, do jumping jacks) when you do push ups in the mall there are two issues. First who knows what is in/on that carpet and secondly it might result in having security called on you :). So, do your stacking in a workout friendly environment.

When you build in these 4 traditional sessions, along with all that daily accidental and intentional exercise, it will get you well on your way to maintaining you body in peak condition. Congratulations!!

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Day 47 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Choosing Natural Solutions First When Addressing Medical Issues

deb and john with mylee snowWe are not doctors. That being said we know doctors, we talk with doctors, and we know how to do research on credible medical sites such as the best site ever, mayoclinic.org. So we are getting bolder in this post, than we have in any of the previous posts on this site. Today is about encouraging people to seek non-prescription medicine solutions first, whenever possible. This is not to say all prescription medicine is bad, that is certainly not the case. We see the benefits from them in ourselves, our friends and family. That being said, what we see more of, unfortunately, is step one in many medical situations is to prescribe something. We are going to focus on one fairly common medical issue, high cholesterol and the one class of drug, statins, that often are the first step in solving the problem of high cholesterol- we believe that they should be the last.

Without question high levels of cholesterol, especially if overall cholesterol is high and your “bad cholesterol” number (LDL) is also high, can significantly increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. The issue we have is that often the first stop on the cholesterol lowering plan is statins. Statins absolutely work to reduce stroke risk but growing evidence is questioning how effective they are in preventing heart attacks. That being said, reducing risk of stroke is a good thing, but at what cost?  According to the Mayo Clinic some of the known side effects of statins are;

-Muscle pain and damage to muscle

-Liver damage

-Digestive problems

-Rashes and flushing of the skin

-Increased blood sugar levels leading to increased risk for type 2 diabetes

-Neurological side effects including memory loss and confusion

There are other potential side effects but we think you get the point. Woman, people over 65, and people with smaller body frames are most susceptible to these effects.

The Mayo Clinic specifically recommends before taking statins a serious attempt should be made in lowering cholesterol through life style change. Specifically living a holistic life. We thought this section powerful enough to bring it to you word for word. For our subscribers we know you will see almost word for word what we have been recommending for your extraordinary life transformation, right down to the benefits of whey protein;

  • Choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. As a rule, you should get less than 7 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. Choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and monounsaturated fats — found in olive and canola oils — for healthier options.
  • Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats affect cholesterol levels by increasing the “bad” cholesterol and lowering the “good” cholesterol. This bad combination increases the risk of heart attacks. Trans fats can be found in fried foods and many commercial products, such as cookies, crackers and snack cakes. But don’t rely on packages that are labeled “trans fat-free.” In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving, it can be labeled “trans fat-free.”Even small amounts of trans fat can add up if you eat foods that contain small amounts of trans fat. Read the ingredient list, and avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. They have other heart benefits, such as helping to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol, reducing your triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood, and reducing blood pressure. Some types of fish — such as salmon, mackerel and herring — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds.
  • Increase soluble fiber. There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Both have heart-health benefits, but soluble fiber also helps lower your LDL levels. You can add soluble fiber to your diet by eating oats and oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils, and vegetables.
  • Add whey protein. Whey protein is one of two proteins in dairy products — the other is casein. Whey protein may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL and total cholesterol.You can find whey protein powders in health food stores and some grocery stores. Follow the package directions for how to use them.
  • The article goes on to say, regular exercise, stop smoking, losing weight if over weight and drinking alcohol in moderation are key.

Sound familiar?

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