A Prescription for a Healthy Spring!

0 Posted by - May 20, 2014 - PREVENTION

Before Memorial Day arrives get your body, your home, and your mindset ready for warmer weather, longer days, and outdoor living.

1.Let the Sun Shine In.  Throw open the windows, enjoy lunch outdoors or take the kiddos to the park.   After a long winter, our bodies are ready to soak up some sunshine and healthy vitamin D.  Long known as essential for healthy bones, recent studies have suggested that vitamin D may help boost immune function, prevent heart disease and lower cancer risk.  The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 600 IU of vitamin D daily, with the majority of vitamin D coming from our diets.  Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are naturally rich in vitamin D, while milk, soy milk, and many cereals are fortified with vitamin D.  Up to thirty minutes of daylight sun exposure twice a week is another excellent source of vitamin D.   For longer sun exposure, don’t forget your hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect against skin cancers.

2.Eat A Lot More Fruits & Veggies.  New research from the University College London suggests that eating 7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables may be the best for optimal health.  Participants in the study who ate at least 7 portions of produce per day had a 25% lower risk of death from cancer, a 31% lower risk of death from heart disease and a 42% lower risk of death from all causes. Rather convincing data to support the wisdom behind an apple a day!  Look for seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables for the best flavor and the best value.  In springtime, apricots, cherries, citrus, kiwis, strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, peas, spinach, and sweet onions are at the height of their growing season.

3.Go for a Stroll.  Grab a friend, a pup, or your headphones and get in the habit of taking an early morning or evening walk around your neighborhood or a local park.   On the weekends, pencil in a longer walk, hike, or bike ride.  Take the time to enjoy the longer and warmer days and to observe the world around you changing each day.

4.Fire Up A Healthier Grill.   Fire up a clean barbie by grilling up fresh vegetables like corn on the cob, artichokes or skewers of veggies with lemon wedges. If meat, chicken or fish is on your menu take a few easy steps to avoid two potentially cancer-causing compounds, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, (PAHs.)   The charred or well-done portions of grilled meat are chock full of HCAs, while PACs are produced as the fat from protein drips down on to the grill.   Simple steps such as removing charred portions from meat and avoiding flare-ups can significantly reduce expose to these toxins. Choosing smaller portions of lean cuts of protein and cutting off any visible fat or skin will minimize the fat on your grill and also cut down on grilling time.  Marinades with rosemary, garlic, onion, tart cherries or honey are the best defense and have been found to cut down on HCA formation by up to 90%! Lastly, hone your skills of regularly flipping using tongs or a spatula to prevent piercing and dripping more juices onto the grill.   Before the dog days of summer arrive, make your grill a leaner and safer machine!

5.Ditch the Drive-Thru.  Make room for more natural and nutritious foods in your diet by swapping out as much processed food as possible.  Fast, easy and cheap are not typically traits we use to describe things we want or desire.  Yet the lure of a tasty meal for little cost often gets the best of us when we are tired, hungry, bored or overwhelmed. While the price of a single meal may be a bargain, the long-term cost to our health is high.  Take the fast food option off the table by making a commitment to steer clear of the fast, easy and cheap.

6.Spring Clean Your Kitchen.  Take 10 minutes to survey your fridge and cabinets and toss away anything that has expired.  Take another few minutes to look at the remaining items and ask yourself how many of them are processed foods that have been occupying shelf life and could be replaced by a healthier option.   This spring aim to go more natural, replacing processed foods with healthier, whole foods.  Consider tossing or donating any product with more than 5 ingredients or any word/chemicals on the ingredients list that you cannot pronounce out loud.

7.Pump Some Iron.   Get toned for summer by adding weight training into your weekly routine. Aim to start weight training for 30 minutes twice a week.   Use free weights at home with the guidance of an online video, hit the gym, or try a fitness class.  Make it even more fun by enlisting a friend to get strong with you.

8.Make Friends at Your Local Farmers Market.  Befriend your local farmers.   Your bank account, your community, and your health will reap the rewards.  Get the most bang for your buck by purchasing organic fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen list which have the highest levels of pesticides when grown commercially.  Whenever available buy organic apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, nectarines, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and leafy greens.

9. Check In with your Docs.   Check in with your healthcare providers and make sure that you are up to date with all of your annual health screenings.  Be sure you that you are seeing your dentist every 6 months and your primary care physician every year or as often as recommended for your age and medical history.  Check in with your doctor to make sure that you are up to date on all your cancer screening based on your age and health history.

10. Set a Summer Fitness Goal.  Participate in a 5K.  Join a tennis league. Try a triathlon.   Walk everyday for a month.  Whatever your level of activity or fitness goals, summer is a great time to try something new and spring is the perfect time to start your training.   Setting a definitive date and challenge enhances the fun of preparing and sweetens the reward of accomplishing your goal.   In Denver this summer you can run in your undies for colon cancer awareness, through bubbles or while solving crimes (check out the Denver Undy 5000 5K Race http://support.ccalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=undy_landing, Bubble Run http://www.bubblerun.com/events/denver/ or Denver Oyster Urban Adventure Race http://oysterracingseries.com/Denver.php).  Choose your own adventure this summer!

Despite the forecast,

live like it’s Spring.

-LILLY PULITZER

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