Nutrition: More Important Than the Workout?

Have you ever committed to a rigorous exercise program for weeks or even months, only to find yourself unhappy with your weight loss results? If so, then you might have been missing the important nutritional aspect of any sustainable weight-loss program. After all, while exercise is certainly one key component of losing weight, the fact remains that you cannot be successful losing weight in the long-term if your nutrition isn’t balanced.

nutrition

Why Nutrition Matters

In general, experts agree that weight loss is about 75% nutrition and 25% exercise. Unfortunately, many people actively trying to lose weight don’t realize the importance of nutrition and then wonder why they’re not seeing the results they want. Believe it or not, in a study of 700 weight-loss reports, researchers found that those who focused on eating healthy (and not exercising) lost more weight on average than those who only exercised and didn’t focus on their nutrition.

The bottom line is that you can lose weight in a healthy manner using nutrition alone, but you can’t undo a bad diet with exercise.

Sticking to a Healthy Diet

So, just what constitutes a healthy diet, anyway? This can vary greatly from one person to the next. For example, one person’s body may respond well to cutting back on carbohydrates in order to lose weight, whereas others may find that cutting out added sugars (such as those found in sodas and processed foods) can result in significant weight loss—especially when combined with an exercise program.

In general, however, a healthy diet is all about choosing a sustainable and balanced nutrition plan that incorporates lots of fresh fruits and veggies, complex (“good-for-you”) carbs, and lean proteins for long-term results. It’s also about aiming for a daily caloric intake that matches your activity level.

The Mathematics Behind Weight Loss

Speaking of calories, how can you determine your recommended daily caloric intake? For the average person who is slightly active throughout the day, you can multiply your current weight by 10. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you would want to keep your daily calories around 1,500 to maintain your current weight, or less to lose weight. Remember that it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound, so plan your caloric intake accordingly.

There’s no denying the importance of nutrition in any weight-loss program. By realizing that both regular exercise and following a balanced nutrition plan are important to reaching your goals, you can take the right steps for your wellness. For more resources and help reaching your goals, turn to Altrua HealthShare today.

Stretching For Strength And Spiritual Growth

Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out? If so, then it can also be easy to feel spiritually and emotionally weak or defeated. Fortunately, there are some exercises you can follow to increase your spiritual strength and enjoy personal growth in the process.

Stretching

Take Time to Meditate Daily

Often times, it can seem nearly impossible to quiet your mind when you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by the things going on in your life. This is where meditation can truly make all the difference. Specifically, meditation exercises allow you to quiet and calm your mind. Consider picking up a book on meditation techniques or checking out some meditation and breathing tutorials online. From there, make an effort to meditate for at least 15 minutes each day; you may be surprised what a difference this can make in your emotional and physical well-being.

Consider Starting Your Day With Yoga

Yoga is great for stress relief and spiritual empowerment because it combines exercise with controlled stretching and breathing. And with different styles of yoga designed for different walks of life, you can be sure to find an option that suits your needs. Yoga stretches are great for building spiritual strength because many of the poses include a meditative component, which means you can knock out your daily meditation and get a decent workout in at the same time. Consider starting off your day with a “sun salutation” exercise, which will provide you the energy and spiritual/mental awareness you need to tackle the challenges of your day.

Read Your Bible Regularly

What better way to fuel your spiritual growth than taking the time to read your Bible regularly? Make an effort to read your Bible daily if possible; if you read three chapters per day, you’ll be on-track to read the entire Bible in a one-year span. Even on days when you don’t necessarily have the time to read, be sure to take a moment out of your day for prayer.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Sometimes, it’s easy to focus on the things that are troubling us, which can weaken the spirit and prevent growth. By keeping a gratitude journal that you fill out daily or even weekly, you can remind yourself of the things you’re most thankful for. As a result, you can improve your overall outlook on life and avoid taking those seemingly “little” things for granted.

Implement these techniques into your daily life to improve strength and spiritual awareness starting today, and don’t forget to turn to Altrua HealthShare for more health and wellness resources.

6 Stress Management Tips For Health

In the United States, about 77% of the adult population reports that they regularly experience physical symptoms as a result of stress. These symptoms can include anything from fatigue and muscle soreness to headaches, a lack of appetite, and everything in between. If you feel that your health is suffering as a result of stress, it’s time to work towards a more peaceful and less stressful lifestyle.

stress management copyDetermine the Triggers of Your Stress

Begin by figuring out what’s triggering your stress in the first place. Some of the most common stress causes include:

  • dissatisfaction with employment
  • divorce or relationship troubles
  • financial problems
  • loss of employment

Only by having a true understanding of what’s causing your stress can you work towards overcoming these issues.

Bring It To God

Understand that it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed out beyond your control, and that is one of the best times to reflect and turn to your faith. Reconnecting with all things spiritual can be just the medicine you may need. Finding a Bible study group or connecting with people of similar faith will help accomplish this. This is one of the reasons Altrua HealthShare was established.

Assess Your Diet and Nutrition

Make an effort to eat healthier, even when you’re stressed (easier said than done). When you’re feeling on-edge, you might want nothing more than to indulge in your favorite comfort foods. However, sticking with healthy foods such as veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins will properly fuel and nourish your body. You should also try to avoid excessive caffeine and sugar intake when stressed.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Rest

Prioritize your sleep quantity and quality. Make sure you’re getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night; doing so will give your body the time it needs to rejuvenate, recover, and be prepared for the challenges of the day ahead.

Learn How to Better Manage Your Time

Stress is often brought on by having too much to get done and not enough time in which to do it. If this is a current cause of stress for you, take steps to improve your time management. Learn to prioritize tasks and utilize a planner to keep on-track. Also, learn how to say “no” to projects that will overwhelm you.

Try Yoga or Meditation

You might be surprised at what a difference a little bit of exercise can make in reducing your stress and relieving tension. Any physical exercise is good for reducing stress, but relaxation exercises such as yoga, meditation, and even tai chi or breathing exercises can be very effective at calming your mind. Even taking time to read your Bible and pray can be a form of meditation and stress management in its own way. For more information about becoming a member, visit our website here.

 

10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting – Part 2

Fasting is not only good for spiritual reasons but studies show that it’s healthy too.

 

Empty dinner plate on white background

Below are Health reasons we should also honor our body in doing a fast:

Intermittent Fasting Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes

  • When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy
  • This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
  • Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Cancer

  • Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
  • Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer.
  • There is also some evidence on human cancer patients, showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy.

Intermittent Fasting is Good For Your Brain

  • Several studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells, which should have benefits for brain function.
  • It also increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) a deficiency of which has been implicated in depression and various other brain problems.

Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease.
  • There is no cure available for Alzheimer’s, so preventing it from showing up in the first place is critical.
  • A study in rats shows that intermittent fasting may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or reduce its severity.

And finally:

Intermittent Fasting May Extend Your Lifespan, Helping You Live Longer

  • One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.
  • Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction.
  • In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In one of them, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who weren’t fasted.
  • Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.

For more information be sure to give us  a call and ask us about our COR:6 health and wellness program. Our phone number is 1-888-244-3839. If you missed part 1, you can view it here.

How Mental Health Affects Your Body

People often tend to think of mental health as being completely separate from their physical well being. In reality, however, there is a very strong link between a person’s mental well being and their physical health. In other words, those who are in strong mental and emotional health tend to have fewer health problems than those with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. By having a better understanding of the links between emotional and physical health, you can take the necessary steps to keep yourself happy and healthy.

 

mental health

Links Between Mental and Physical Health

Studies have led to the discovery of various common connections between physical and emotional health. For example, one study found that those who had been diagnosed with depression were more likely to develop conditions such as:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • back pain
  • colorectal cancer
  • multiple sclerosis

Of course, the connection goes both ways; those who are diagnosed with a debilitating physical condition are also more likely to suffer from mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and even a reduction in social interaction.

Furthermore, one’s personality (and, in turn, their emotions) can lead to the development of physical health conditions. For example, those who tend to be more driven and passionate in life also tend to be at a greater risk of heart disease.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Mental Health

More than likely, you already know the basic steps that you can take to improve your physical health, including eating healthy and enjoying regular exercise. However, there seems to be a lack of information out there regarding how to ensure one’s own emotional well being.

One of the best things you can do for the stabilization of your emotional health is making sure you’re getting enough sleep. It seems so simple, yet it’s estimated that 45% of the United States population isn’t getting the quality or quantity of sleep they need. When you’re well rested, you’re able to make better decisions and think more rationally. If you’re not getting enough sleep, begin taking steps to improve your daily sleep patterns. Whether this means lying down an hour earlier each night or even investing in a new mattress, you might be surprised at what a difference a good night’s sleep can make.

Furthermore, make sure to maintain a strong spiritual connection with God, as this can work wonders for your emotional well being. Taking time for daily prayer and remaining involved with your church will keep your heart and soul happy while helping you develop personal relationships that will strengthen your mental health. All of this, in addition to diligently reading your bible and keeping its message at the forefront of your mind, will help you lead a healthier life overall.

There’s no denying the link between mental and physical health. If you’re serious about improving both aspects in your own life, Altrua HealthShare is here to help.

How To Lower Medical Costs Through Healthy Living

Visiting the doctor or hospital without insurance or assistance is expensive. Even if you have insurance coverage through work, purchase it on your own or choose an alternative—such as a health sharing program—the cost of an unexpected doctor’s visit can be daunting. The best way to lower medical costs is through simple, healthy living. Here are five tips that you should follow for an overall healthier body and life.

 

lower medical costs

  • Get Plenty of Sleep – A good night’s sleep is one of the most important ways you can take care of your body. Every person needs a slightly different amount but put in the effort to make sure you get it. It will pay off in helping you feel your best and keep you healthy.
  • Reduce Your Stress – While you cannot eliminate all stress from your life, it is possible to reduce it. Reducing stress may mean saying “no” to a commitment after work, hiring someone to help with chores around the house or talking to a professional if you feel overwhelmed and depressed. Reducing your stress level is good for the mind AND the body.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet – Snacking on junk food all the time will catch up to you eventually. Try to eat a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Pack your lunch each day so you are not tempted to hit the vending machines, or fast food take out place. Small changes can create significant results and lower medical costs.
  • Exercise – Exercise doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym every day. Even a short walk each day during your lunch break or in the evening with your family is better than nothing. Get moving and get healthy.
  • Quit Any Bad Habits – Bad habits like smoking, drinking or even overeating make it hard to get healthy and can also make it difficult to lower medical costs (since all forms of health coverage may not be available to you). Make it a point to stop today, or get help from an expert, if necessary.

While taking care of yourself can make a big difference in how you feel and how often you need to go to the doctor, it is important that you have health coverage as well, especially with the passage of the ACA. This does not necessarily mean insurance. For many people, a faith-based health sharing organization, like Altrua HealthShare can be a more affordable option. Check out our information book if you would like to learn more about how we can help you achieve better health.

Top 5 Best Vegetables For Weight Loss

It’s no secret that incorporating more of the best vegetables into your diet can help you reduce your caloric intake and lose weight. However, it’s important to realize that not all veggies are created equal in this sense. Specifically, there are five vegetables that are considered the best for weight loss.

vegetables

Hot Peppers

Hot peppers, such as poblanos and jalapeños, are excellent for helping burn more calories because spicier foods are known to boost the body’s metabolism, resulting in you burning more calories in a shorter time frame. Studies have also shown that spicier foods like peppers can make you feel fuller for longer. And because peppers themselves are a low-calorie food, this is a win-win situation.

Spinach

Spinach isn’t everybody’s favorite food, but it’s one of the best vegetables for weight loss by far. Specifically, spinach is extremely low in calories while also being packed with protein; it also contains high levels of thylakoids, which are known to increase feelings of fullness. You can enjoy spinach in a number of ways, including in a salad, sautéed with some garlic, or even mixed directly into your daily protein shake.

Broccoli

If you’re looking for a food that you can eat bowls upon bowls of without loading up on calories, broccoli is your go-to choice. An entire cup of steamed broccoli, for example, has just 50 calories (not to mention, your daily dose of vitamin C). Broccoli is also one of the most versatile veggie options out there; you can enjoy them raw with a veggie dip, steamed with seasoning, sautéed with mushrooms, or even cooked into your favorite pasta sauce.

Onions

Not only are onions rich in flavonoids that help burn stored fat—but they’re also great for your heart health. Plus, they’re super versatile and low in calories. You can enjoy them raw on a sandwich or salad, sautéed with some of your favorite veggies, or chopped in an omelet for a yummy dish.

Pickles

Most people don’t think of pickles when they think about the best vegetables for weight loss, but it’s true! One pickle spear contains just a few calories, so you can snack on them all day long and barely make a dent in your calorie allowance. Plus, they contain a ton of fiber, so they have the added benefit of being filling.

Now that you know more about the best vegetables to help you reach your weight loss goals, it’s time to start incorporating more of these into your daily diet! For help with achieving your fitness goals, consider checking out our COR: 6 fitness program today.

10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting – Part 1

Far too often fasting and nutrition are either thought of as total opposites or some use fasting as a way to start some diet plan. Fasting needs to be thought of as a Spiritual Diet, with the focus on drawing yourself closer to God on a personal level. It’s that some may fast to seek God’s help in bringing about a cleansing of the spirit and body. Whatever your purpose is, always ensure that the main focus behind the fasting is spiritually driven. With that said fasting is not only good for spiritual reasons but studies show that it’s healthy as well.

Below are 5 of the top 10 Health reasons we should also honor our body in doing a fast. Check back at altruahealthshare.com/blog for when we will release the next 5!

Biblical Fasting

1. Intermittent Fasting Changes the Function of Cells, Genes and Hormones

Insulin levels: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning. Human growth hormone: The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits. Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.

2. Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat

Generally speaking, intermittent fasting will make you eat fewer meals. Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss. Intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting metabolism slightly. It is a very effective tool to lose weight and belly fat.

3. Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels. In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31%.

4. Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in the Body

Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of all sorts of common diseases.

5. Intermittent Fasting May be Beneficial for Heart Health

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels.

Belly Fat Loss: Why Hydration is More Important Than You Think

Embarking on a weight loss journey can be quite intimidating, especially for those who have never dieted or gotten into a rigorous exercise routine in the past. Unfortunately, many people end up getting so focused on tracking their caloric intake and exercising that they fail to understand one of the most important aspects of weight loss and overall health: staying hydrated.

hydration

Weight Loss Benefits

When it comes to losing weight and leading an overall healthier lifestyle, water and hydration are key. First of all, water in its simplest form (with no flavor added to it) is a zero-calorie beverage, meaning you can drink it pretty much guilt-free.

In fact, one study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech in 2010 found that those who drank about two cups of water before a meal were able to lose five more pounds than a group of people who followed a similar meal plan but did not drink water before meals. By filling up your stomach with water before and during a meal, you’re able to “trick” your body in to feeling fuller, resulting in you consuming fewer calories and thus being able to achieve more successful weight and belly fat loss.

Another study has found that regularly drinking cold water can actually provide you with a metabolism boost; that’s because the body needs to work to warm cold water when it enters the body. While not extremely rigorous on the body, it does require a slight jump in the body’s metabolism because it requires the body to burn more calories to warm the water.

Tips for Increasing Your Water Intake

Most people don’t know how much water they should ideally be drinking to enjoy weight and belly fat loss. In general, you should drink half an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, then you should be drinking 100 ounces of water each day (in other words, about 12.5 cups).

If you have a hard time staying on top of your hydration goals, then you might consider keeping a water bottle with you wherever you go. If you don’t care for the bland taste of water, consider adding a little lemon juice or an artificial flavoring packet; just be sure to watch the sugar and calorie content on those. For further guidance, you may also consider joining the Altrua HealthShare COR: 6 Fitness program. From there, you’ll be able to stay better hydrated, resulting in an overall healthier body and perhaps some belly fat loss in the process.