Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

August 2023 // Archive

Date based archive
31 Aug

The dreaded term older women dislike hearing. Menopause is an aging obstacle the reproductive hormones are bound to face. Levels of estrogen and progesterone start to lower, which are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. It is a natural process the female body endures, but one not many are fond of facing. The female body runs out of functioning eggs. At birth, females begin with anywhere from 1 to 3 million eggs, which over time gradually decrease in number. By the first menstrual cycle, the female might have about 400,000 eggs left. When menopause hits, a female might have about 10,000 eggs.

The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is the hormone that produces eggs during menstruation. When menopause starts, the eggs start to resist FSH and the ovaries produce less estrogen as well as less testosterone (affecting sex drive). Just when menopause hits varies person to person and is influenced by family history, autoimmune diseases, smoking, and even chemotherapy/radiation. The average age of menopause is 51.

All that being said, menopause does mean the start to the end of one’s menstrual cycles. You have officially been diagnosed as having gone through menopause when there is no menstrual cycle for 12 months. However, the symptoms of menopause are what wreak havoc for many. Those hot flashes, the emotional rollercoaster, and the lack of energy, make this time particularly undesirable. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, sleep problems, weight gain, night sweats, chills, slower metabolism, thinning hair, and dry skin. Weight gain can be the result of genetics or the fluctuation in hunger cues do to hormonal imbalances which could increase appetite. Loss of sleep doesn’t help either.

There are several natural remedies or approaches to help alleviate menopause related symptoms. Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens help mimic the role of estrogen in the body. These include tofu, flaxseeds, beans, sesame seeds, and tempeh. The dryness associated with menopause means it’s important to drink plenty of water. Processed foods and refined sugars should also be kept away or very limited. Some studies have even said that diets high in processed foods can heightened the emotional roller coaster of moods menopause can bring. Managing weight is the key, so skipping meals or eating far less than your body needs would actually be more detrimental than good. Keeping a stable blood sugar by eating more often and less more often would be a good way to assist metabolism. Protein is a good food selection to help keep staying full and satiated. There are natural substances too. Black cohosh has been found to help lessen the intensity of hot flashes. Cranberry extract, probiotics, prebiotics are other suggestions to suppress symptoms.

There are different treatments to help alleviate at least some of the discomfort. Hormone therapy is common which typically consists of a low dose starting with estrogen. This can also be administered in the form of a cream. Sometimes low dose anti-depressants are used as well. This usually is for the hot flashes and moods. Gabapentin and Clonidine are two other medications. These can be taken in the form of pills or worn as a patch. It is important to talk with your doctor about risks and side effects, especially since these should be used temporarily not for long periods of time. For example, hormone therapy for long periods of time can increase the risk for breast cancer. Although many women can relate to one another when it comes to menopause, it does vary from person to person in terms of how the body handles this lovely part of female aging.

Truthfully, menopause is a natural part of life, so much like anything else, the better we take care of our health, the better we navigate through anything our body faces. Hormones are not a simple subject to cover and understand because every body can vary in levels and how the body uses them. The best approach is to have a body positive attitude and to have a few natural remedies to help along the when it comes to menopause.

23 Aug

How many people were raised starting the morning with a glass of orange juice with breakfast?? Apple, grape, orange, pineapple, cranberry…. there’s a type of juice to please everyone’s taste buds. The fallacy is that many believe drinking fruit juice equates to eating fruit. Therefore, fruit juice is perceived as healthy. The word “fruit” is associated with healthy. However, fruit juice contains as more if not more sugar than other beverages. Although fruit juice contains nutrients and antioxidants, these positive traits don’t negate the quantity of sugar.

We are victims to misleading labels on these drinks. Labels that read “100% pure” and “not from concentrate” make us think the juice was freshly squeezed and stored in the container for us to enjoy. The truth is that we are not drinking fruit from its original state. Fruit juice is actually stored in tanks that deplete oxygen for up to a year before being packaged. This process removes quite a bit of the rich fruit flavor, so manufacturers then add back that flavor in with you guessed it…. sugar.

This is not to say that fruit juice is entirely awful. Orange juice does contain vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. However, when the calories from fruit off the tree are compared to those in the bottle, the beverage version contains much more added sugar which ultimately results in many more calories. Here’s a shocking example… apple juice versus Coca Cola. Take for instance a 12- ounce serving of these two drinks. The apple juice contains 165 calories, and 39 grams of sugar which equates to 9.8 teaspoons. The can of Coca Cola contains 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons). The truth lies in the sugar.

The liver becomes sugar overloaded very quickly when these drinks are ingested. It’s as if you quickly ate 5 oranges when you drank one cup of juice. Fructose is the type of sugar this juice contains, and the liver is responsible for metabolizing this substance. Too much sugar is too much work for the liver, and this excessive amount turns into fat. Liquid sugar has been associated with high levels of triglycerides, insulin resistance, increased belly fat, and elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

Many people don’t consider these liquid calories in their diet. They don’t eat less to compensate for these additional calories. Whole fruit is the better choice. Don’t punish your liver and waistline just to please your taste buds. Eat your calories to benefit from the nutrients and fiber that fruit has to offer. No wonder we never argued when we were offered juice as kids.

17 Aug

The human body operates much like a furnace…. it produces heat. Our body is working to keep us alive, and this generates heat. When a person runs cold, the body is trying to communicate that something in the production line isn’t right. Typically, body temperature ranges from 97 F to 99 F for adults, while children have a higher body temperature ranging from 97.9 F to 100.4 F. Everyone’s body temperature is actually different and the person next to you might have their furnace set a few degrees higher or lower than you. Our body temperatures vary all throughout the day. This all depends on your activity, age, sex, what you have had to eat or drink, and what time of day it is. Body temperature also varies based on where you measure it. The underarm pit will be hotter than around the mouth area.

When body temperature is above normal, this is called a fever. A fever is considered anything above 100.4 F. The body is working to fight off germs and getting sick, and this battle produces heat. The body is doing what it is supposed to be doing, so a fever is not always a bad thing. However, if a fever is associated with rash, vomiting, or headache, and persists for more than 3 days, seeking a doctor’s help is advisable. Fevers should be taken more seriously when it comes to children. Getting adequate rest, taking over the counter medications such as ibuprofen, using cold compresses, or taking a cold bath, can help alleviate a fever. The body goes to war when it comes to infections but can be cooled down using these methods.

On the other hand, when body temperature is well below normal, it called hypothermia.  This occurs when the body loses too much heat and it can be very serious, possibly fatal. Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 95 F. This low body temperature is of particular importance when it comes to babies and the elderly. This is usually a sign of sickness. Hypothermia can also be caused by malnutrition, anorexia, certain medications, stroke, nerve damage, and alcohol and/or drug use. It is important to help warm the body up using heating pads, putting on layers of clothing, removing any wet clothing, drinking a warm herbal tea, or sitting by a fire or heating lamp.

Hot or cold extremes are uncomfortable and form of communication that the body is in fight or flight mode to help you. Listen to your body when it speaks to you. Normal body temperature comes and goes throughout the day, so always bring a jacket just in case and stay hydrated to help regulate your furnace.

09 Aug

Dried Fruit: The pros and cons to packaged sweetness

Part of a healthy, balanced diet includes the consumption of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Dried fruit might seem like a handy snack to meet this dietary recommendation. This snack consists of fruit in which the water has been removed by a dehydrator or naturally from the sun. Apricots, cranberries, raisons, dates…. are just a few on the list. Sometimes they’re coated in a spice or sugar for added taste, such as dried mangoes with chili pepper. There are pros and cons to this selection. You be the judge whether you decide to reach for fresh or dried next time you have some.


Fans of dried fruit love its sweet taste, the no mess, how convenient for on-the-go it is, and the long shelf life. Dried fruit outlives and fresh type. We find these snack packs in vending machines, at the airport, while we are checking out at the grocery store, and at gas stations. Seems like a good alternative to a candy bar when the options are limited. Dried fruit is nutritious in the sense that it is just compacted fruit. It actually contains close to 3 ½ times the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber compared to fresh fruit. It is a great source of antioxidants.


Sugar, sugar, sugar. Dried fruit can contain up to three times the amount of sugar compared to fresh fruit. No wonder it is so tasty. Ever heard the word “fructose”?? Well that is the very sugar hiding in dried fruit. When we have extra fructose in the body, the liver converts it to VLDL. This is the bad cholesterol that is high in triglycerides. The health consequences of high triglycerides include heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For example, let’s take a look at popular dried cranberries. Topped on a salad or part of your trail mix, it seems like an added healthy bonus. Wrong. One cup of fresh cranberries has 4 grams of sugar. One cup of dried cranberries has 70 grams. That equates to one bag of M&Ms. This raises the calorie content as well. In general, dried fruit has twice the calories and carbohydrates as fresh fruit. While all these no-no’s are added, calcium is subtracted as a result of the drying process.

The freedom of choice

What we perceive to be healthy doesn’t always equate to be true and this can be reflected by our fitness results. Clean eating involves fresh choices. Mother nature is the only additive. It’s probably a good idea to not eat anything with ingredients we are unable to pronounce. Real fruit doesn’t come with a label. We are also misled to believe that the bag of dried apricots was one serving, when really it was 2 or more which is another indication that we neglect labels and are not fully aware of what is being put in our bodies and how much.  It is easy to justify once bad choice over the other by reaching for a package of dried fruit instead of the candy bar. The truth is that a fresh apple can fit in your purse or bag too. Such a tiny snack pack wrecks quite the damage on the waistline. We are told to always stay hydrated, and this seems like good advice for our fruit too.

01 Aug

Orange juice is a breakfast favorite and comes in different varieties. This liquid extract can come from blood oranges, Valencia oranges, navel oranges, tangerine, or clementines. Some types include more pulp than others. Drinking orange juice can be just a beneficial as eating an entire orange, provided it is not loaded with preservatives, sugar, and additives.

The trouble is that just one cup of this juice contains quite a bit of sugar and carbohydrates, which might be why it can jump start a person’s day. One cup of orange juice contains about 26 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of sugar. Quite a bit for a small amount and not everyone is sticking to one cup per serving. The flip side is that this juice is loaded with vitamin C, up to 120%. Some might argue that the health benefits of this beverage are worth a little added sugar. Orange juice can reduce signs of aging, boost immunity, detoxify the body, boost metabolism, boost cellular repair, improve circulation, improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. The key is how the juice is prepared.

Besides being packed with vitamin C, orange juice contains thiamin, vitamin A, fiber, folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, protein, thiamine, flavonoids. Vitamin C is a primary antioxidant in the body that destroys free radicals before they can do damage to the body. Vitamin A is another type of antioxidant that helps to detoxify the body. It increases the function of the kidneys and is also beneficial to eye health.

It is important to avoid frozen orange juice, canned orange juice, or concentrated orange juice, because they are all loaded with preservatives. The content of these juices is far different from the fresh squeezed type. Too much of any good thing can be harmful. Orange juice is high on the glycemic index which means drinking quite a bit at once can really raise blood sugar levels. This can cause complications for diabetics and pre-diabetics. The best way to reap the benefit of oranges is to eat a whole orange. Manufacturers often add chemicals to their juices in order to replenishes the loss of nutritive values from mass production.

The connotation of juice is healthy. It is assumed to be the same as eating the actual fruit. However, in today’s world of mass production and longer shelf life, we are ingesting and digesting more chemicals than ever. If what we ate was fresh, it should be consumed right away. Yet in a world of expiration dates and false advertising, we look for the best value for the largest amount, that will last the longest. Orange juice was never meant to be purchased under these considerations.