Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit!

So eat some beans at every meal!

The benefits of beans are so numerous that I can’t say enough in praise about beans. Beans are so outstanding that only green vegetables come close as a valuable food source!

I recommend that adults eat 3 cups of beans per week for health and to reduce the risk of chronic diseases because of the richness of antioxidants and fiber.

Beans are “heart healthy” because they contain soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and unhealthy triglyceride levels.

Research is saying we should be eating more plant proteins. Beans are a great choice! 1/2 cup of beans delivers 7 grams of protein, the same amount as in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish.

With a low glycemic index, beans contain a blend of complex carbohydrates and protein. Because of this, beans are digested slowly, which helps keep blood glucose stable.

Beans contain protein, healthy carbs, fiber, antioxidants, and copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.

Beans can be incorporated easily into a main dish, salads, side dish, soup or dip.

Beans can are the least expensive source of protein, especially when compared to fresh meat.


Can We Talk About…Constipation?

We will all suffer from it occasionally and it’s not pleasant.

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. How often people poop varies from person to person. Some go three times a day while others three times a week is normal. But going more than three days without having one is too long.

How can you avoid this malady? 

Eat enough fiber. Most Americans consume only 15 grams a day on average but The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Processed foods that have had the fiber removed or other foods with little to no fiber like meat, and large amounts of dairy should be avoided by those prone to constipation.

Low fiber intake may be one cause but inadequate fluid intake is another so make sure to be drinking enough water as you are increasing your fiber intake. The fluid makes the fiber work better. A change in routine like traveling may temporarily cause constipation as will stress, lack of exercise, or postponing your trip to the bathroom when you feel the urge coming on. Some medications can also cause constipation. There are other medical causes so if constipation is a chronic condition for you, see your doctor to rule out any serious conditions.

There are two types of fiber and one type is better for preventing constipation. INSOLUBLE fiber is the one to consume to get things moving along your digestive system. They have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. This type of fiber passes through the GI tract fairly intact, and speed up food and waste passage through your gut. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables. If a food seems like it has a tough skin, is stringy, has a hull, seeds or pod, chances are it’s a source of insoluble fiber. Sources of insoluble fiber: whole wheat, whole grains, beans, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, wheat bran, popcorn, green beans, corn, cauliflower, tomatoes, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.

The other type of fiber SOLUBLE fiber, however, slows digestion because attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. It is found in psyllium, a common fiber supplement. Soluble fiber is beneficial because it may help lower cholesterol by binding to it and removing it through the digestive system.

If you decide you need a little help getting things moving along there are several over the counter and prescription oral or enema products for occasional use. But be careful about over-relying on laxatives. Some people over-rely on laxatives which over time weakens the bowel muscles.

And what about more… ahem… “invasive” therapies called colon cleansing, colon therapy, high colonics or colonic irrigation? These include a type of therapy performed by a colon hydrotherapist. The therapist inserts a tube into the anus to inject water sometimes mixed with herbs into the colon. The water and waste is then pushed out through the hose to be disposed in a closed waste system. The intent is to remove feces and “toxins”. Proponents of colon cleansing believe that toxins from your gastrointestinal tract can cause a variety of health problems. They believe that colon cleansing improves health by removing toxins, promoting healthy intestinal bacteria, boosting your energy and enhancing your immune system. The colonic obviously removes accumulated waste from the colon. However, there's little evidence that colon cleansing produces the other stated effects.

The truth is we already have a built-in system the naturally regulates “toxin removal”. Bacteria in the colon naturally metabolize and thereby detoxify food wastes, mucous membranes lining the intestinal wall block unwanted substances from entering the body's other tissues and our liver works to neutralize toxins. The colon sheds old cells about every 3 days, preventing a buildup of harmful material.

In addition to be unnecessary, colon cleansing can potentially be harmful and lead to bowel perforations, risk of infection, removal of useful bacteria from the intestine, or changes in electrolyte and mineral balance.

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Success Story: Joan

Another success! Congratulations to 63 year old Joan.

In 98 days she has lost 18.4 pounds, 4.1% body fat and 14.5 inches.  Only 10 more pounds to go to reach her goal weight of 130 pounds.

I train and give her nutrition advice via my online services with one in-person meeting a month. Joan exercises daily and enjoys jogging, swimming, biking, hiking and cycling. She does my weight training program and cardio in the gym twice a week. She averages a 550 daily caloric expenditure.

She logs her food on My Fitness Pal every day so we can make improvements to her diet.  This week she is on a mission to increase the fiber in her diet.  Yesterday for instance she had Flax Plus cereal, nonfat milk, banana, blueberries and pineapple. A Jamba Juice smoothie, fish, bulgur, yellow squash, red potatoes, chicken, carrots and a small piece of dark chocolate.  Lots of fiber! And all for under 1200 calories.

Although Joan is 63, her “real-age” is probably 25. She moves like she is a healthy 25 year old. I predict her life will be long, healthy and active. (An analysis of 33 studies shows that higher fitness levels are tied to lower risk of dying from all causes of death.

UPDATE 5/31/13 Joan Reached Her Goal

Joan’s Fitness Progress

Date 9-27-12 1-3-12 3-11-13 5-23-13 CHANGE
Height 5’3
Weight 159 140.6 134.0 130 29#
Neck 13 12.25 12.25 12.25 – .75
Arm 13 12 11.25 10.75 -2.25
Forearm 9.5 9.25 9.75 9.25 -.25
Wrist 6 Na
Chest na Rib cage 35
Waist 36 32.75 30.5 31 – 5
Abdomen 36.5 34 31.25 30.75 – 5.75
Hips 41 37.5 37 36.5 – 4.5
Thigh 25.25 23 22.5 22 – 3.25
Calf 15 14.5 14.25 14 – 1
Cardio Fitness 32.9 VO2 37.4 VO2 Improved 8.7% and fitness level is   considered superior
Body Fat 39.7% 35.6% 33.9% 32.9% Decreased 6.8%
Pushups 36 41

In 8 months: 

Lost 30# of body weight

Decreased 6.8% body fat

Lost 22.75 inches

Improved her cardiovascular fitness to what is considered excellent for a woman aged 30-39 years old.