What is QiGong

June 22, 2019


The word “qi” in Chinese means “energy.” According to traditional Chinese philosophy, qi is a form of fundamental life energy that is found throughout the universe and is responsible for health and vitality. “Gong,” meanwhile, means “skill.” Qigong (the skill of attracting energy) is an ancient system of healing that combines postures, exercises (also known as “movements”), breathing techniques and meditation to improve and enhance the body’s supply of qi, and to increase one’s sense of well-being.

History of Qigong

No one knows exactly who invented qigong, or when it originated. Some scholars estimate the practice of qigong to be upwards of 5,000 years old, and believe that it was first implemented by monks and other teachers.

Although qigong has been practiced for thousands of years, it remained relatively unknown in the United States until the 1970s, when acupuncture was first publicized. As the public began to understand and appreciate the benefits acupuncture had to offer, the use of other forms of traditional Chinese medicine, such as qigong, increased. Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans practice qigong every day, an interest shared by more than 60 million Chinese.


Qigong has been influenced by many parts of Chinese philosophy, most importantly the Taoist philosophy, which holds to the belief that the universe operates within certain laws of balance and harmony, and that people must live within natural rhythms. These beliefs are rampant throughout qigong.

Traditional Chinese medicine shares many of the concepts of qigong, including the idea of energy patterns in the body. Qi is believed to flow through the body along certain channels, or meridians, with a meridian corresponding to each of 12 principal organs. With acupuncture, points on each meridian are stimulated to increase or decrease the flow of qi and promote healing. Similarly, qigong techniques are used to improve the balance and flow of qi throughout the meridians, and to increase the overall quantity and volume of qi.Qigong practitioners use the same points that practitioners of acupuncture and acupressure seek to stimulate.

Another important concept in qigong is the relationship between mind and body. In qigong philosophy, mind and body are not separated; rather, the mind is present in all parts of the body, and can be used to move qi throughout the body.

A third concept practiced in qigong is the relationship between yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposites, yet they interact with each other and influence the others actions. One of qigong‘s goals, in addition to improving the balance and flow of qi, is to balance yin and yang. Therefore, when qigong is practiced, complementary techniques are used to balance things out. For instance, a technique using the left hand may be followed by a technique involving the right hand; a strong technique may be balanced by a lighter technique, and so on.

Qigong Techniques

There are literally thousands of qigong exercises and exercise combinations. Specific techniques are used depending on the teacher giving the instruction; the school where one learns qigong; and the objective one is trying to attain.

As mentioned previously, there are four major components of qigong. Postures may involve standing, sitting, lying down, or a combination of all three. Movements include long stretches, slow-motion exercises, thrusts, jumping, and bending. These postures and movements often occur together, and are used to strengthen and tone the body.

Breathing techniques and meditation comprise the other components of qigong. Sometimes, patients may hold their breath; other times, they may take deep breaths from the chest or abdomen, or relaxed breathing. Meditations are used to stimulate the mind and move qi throughout the body. Many meditations are visualization-type exercises in which the subject visualizes moving energy from one part of the body to another (or from one organ to another).

There are also two forms of qigong — internal and external. Internal qigong is performed by people who wish to increase their own energy and well-being. External qigong is usually performed by trained qigongmasters, who pass extra qi from themselves to patients to facilitate healing. While this may sound far-fetched in the West, external qigong is widely utilized in China. Entire medical qigong hospitals exist, in which practitioners combine external qigong, acupuncture, herbs and other forms of care to help subjects get well.

How (and Where) to Practice

Like any form of exercise, qigong takes discipline and dedication. Exercises should be performed every morning and evening, for a minimum of 15 minutes per session (advanced qigong sessions may last an hour or more). Qigong should be performed in a clean, pleasant environment, preferably outdoors, which provides fresh air and allows people to move freely. Jewelry should be removed, and loose, comfortable clothing should be worn.

Those interested in practicing qigong are advised to practice once or twice a week, and ease into more sessions gradually. In addition, beginners should learn from an experienced qigong practitioner so as not to perform the exercises or techniques incorrectly. Qigong should not be performed on a full (or empty) stomach, nor should it be performed in extremely hot or cold weather.

Are There Any Side-Effects?

While side-effects are rare, they do occur occasionally in people who are just learning qigong, or practice it incorrectly. Subjects may feel dizzy, fatigued, or suffer from headaches or shortness of breath. Other side-effects include insomnia, emotional instability, anxiety, or a loss in concentration. These side-effects usually clear up with rest and proper instruction from a qualified qigong practitioner.

Regulation of Qigong

While qigong has been subject to much government in regulation in China, it is not regulated in the U.S. at this time. Different qigong schools may provide training for instructors, but as of yet, there are no generally accepted training standards. Qigong teachings themselves may also vary. To ensure quality training and instruction, contact a local or national qigong organization, such as the National Qigong Association or the Qigong Association of America, for a qigong practitioner in your area.

Reprinted from Acupuncture Today

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Wild Alaska Rockfish with Cauliflower Steaks

June 22, 2019

From The American Institute for Cancer Research

March 26, 2019

Wild Alaska Rockfish with Cauliflower Steaks, Turmeric and Curry Butter

Sponsored by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI)

Enjoy this Wild Alaska Rockfish with Golden Cauliflower Steaks for a flavorful and creative presentation. The turmeric topping on the cauliflower contains curcuminoids which provide a warm, golden color. One of these compounds, curcumin, is studied for its role in cancer prevention. Cauliflower also boasts cancer-protective compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates. Mix up your healthy fish menu with this unique, delicious recipe.

Wild Alaska rockfish



  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 large (at least 3 lbs.) or 2 small heads cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds, coarsely crushed with a rolling pin or mortar
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges


  • 1 lemon for 1 tsp. zest and 1 Tbsp. juice
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of black pepper


  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tsps. for coating foil lining
  • 4 (6-ounce) Alaska rockfish fillets
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced, including some of the green part (for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 390 calories, 23 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 13 g carbohydrate, 36 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 560 mg sodium.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes


  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Spray or brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Slice cauliflower into steaks: Remove all outer leaves from cauliflower and stand it upright on a cutting board (trim the bottom of stem as needed to keep cauliflower stable). With a large knife, cut it into 3/4-inch thick slices. You will have some “scraps”—slices or florets of cauliflower – not attached to the core that fall apart, but you should get at least 4 slices that are intact.
  3. Roast cauliflower: Brush both side of steaks with oil, and toss “scraps” with a little oil. Arrange on the baking sheet, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, followed by turmeric and coriander. Squeeze lemon wedges over top. Roast 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and tender when knife tip is inserted into steak. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Lower oven temperature to 400ºF.
  5. Make lemon-curry butter while cauliflower bakes: Zest lemon and squeeze juice. In food processor, process lemon zest and juice, butter, ginger, curry powder, salt and black pepper until combined. Scrape down the bowl once or twice as needed. Transfer to a bowl.
  6. Cook fish: Line baking sheet with foil and lightly brush with 1- 2 teaspoons olive oil. Set fillets on baking sheet. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake at 400ºF for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and opaque. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil, and let fish rest for 5 minutes.
  7. To serve: Cauliflower can be served warm or room temperature; return to oven for a few minutes to rewarm, if desired. Transfer cauliflower to large platter. Set fillets on top and dot each with curry butter. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and parsley and serve

*All AICR Health-e-Recipes meet AICR recipe guidelines and are reviewed and analyzed by AICR Registered Dietitians.

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Exercise Intensity: How to Measure It

June 22, 2019

From the Mayo Clinic

Exercise intensity: How to measure it

Get the most from your workouts by knowing how to gauge your exercise intensity.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

When you exercise, are you working hard or hardly working? Exercising at the correct intensity can help you get the most out of your physical activity — making sure you’re not pushing too hard or too little. Here’s a look at what exercise intensity means, and how to maximize your workout.

Choosing your exercise intensity

How hard should you be exercising? The Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines for most healthy adults:

  • Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity — such as brisk walking, swimming or mowing the lawn — or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — such as running or aerobic dancing. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. It’s best to do this over the course of a week. You can achieve more health benefits if you ramp up your exercise to 300 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity a week.

    Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefits.

  • Strength training. Do strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Consider free weights, weight machines or activities that use your own body weight — such as rock climbing or heavy gardening. Or try squats, planks or lunges. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

Your exercise intensity must generally be at a moderate or vigorous level for maximum benefit. For weight loss, the more intense or longer your activity, the more calories you burn.

Balance is still important. Overdoing it can increase your risk of soreness, injury and burnout. Start at a light intensity if you’re new to exercising. Gradually build up to a moderate or vigorous intensity.

Consider your reasons for exercising. Do you want to improve your fitness, lose weight, train for a competition or do a combination of these? Your answer will help determine the appropriate level of exercise intensity.

Be realistic and don’t push yourself too hard, too fast. Fitness is a lifetime commitment, not a sprint to a finish line. Talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or you’re not sure how intense you should exercise.

Understanding exercise intensity

When you’re doing aerobic activity, such as walking or biking, exercise intensity correlates with how hard the activity feels to you. Exercise intensity is also shown in your breathing and heart rate, whether you’re sweating, and how tired your muscles feel.

There are two basic ways to measure exercise intensity:

  • How you feel. Exercise intensity is a subjective measure of how hard physical activity feels to you while you’re doing it — your perceived exertion. Your perceived exertion level may be different from what someone else feels doing the same exercise. For example, what feels to you like a hard run can feel like an easy workout to someone who’s more fit.
  • Your heart rate. Your heart rate offers a more objective look at exercise intensity. In general, the higher your heart rate during physical activity, the higher the exercise intensity.

Perceived exertion may not always be similar to your heart rate level, and it depends on the individual. But it can be a general guide to measure your exertion level. If you think you’re working hard, your heart rate is probably higher than usual.

You can use either way of gauging exercise intensity. If you like technology, you can check your heart rate with an activity tracker that includes a heart rate monitor. If you feel you’re in tune with your body and your exertion level, you’ll likely do fine without a monitor.

Gauging intensity by how you feel

Here are some clues to help you judge your exercise intensity.

Moderate exercise intensity

Moderate activity feels somewhat hard. Here are clues that your exercise intensity is at a moderate level:

  • Your breathing quickens, but you’re not out of breath.
  • You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.
  • You can carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing.

Vigorous exercise intensity

Vigorous activity feels challenging. Here are clues that your exercise intensity is at a vigorous level:

  • Your breathing is deep and rapid.
  • You develop a sweat after only a few minutes of activity.
  • You can’t say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

Overexerting yourself

Beware of pushing yourself too hard too often. If you are short of breath, are in pain or can’t work out as long as you’d planned, your exercise intensity is probably higher than your fitness level allows. Back off a bit and build intensity gradually.

Gauging intensity using your heart rate

Another way to gauge your exercise intensity is to see how hard your heart is beating during physical activity. To use this method, you first have to figure out your maximum heart rate — the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.

You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. This is the average maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise.

Once you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your desired target heart rate zone — the level at which your heart is being exercised and conditioned but not overworked.

The American Heart Association generally recommends a target heart rate of:

  • Moderate exercise intensity: 50% to about 70% of your maximum heart rate
  • Vigorous exercise intensity: 70% to about 85% of your maximum heart rate

If you’re not fit or you’re just beginning an exercise program, aim for the lower end of your target heart rate zone. Then, gradually build up the intensity. If you’re healthy and want to exercise at a vigorous intensity, opt for the higher end of the zone.

How to determine your target heart rate zone

Use an online calculator to determine your desired target heart rate zone. Or, here’s a simple way to do the math yourself. If you’re aiming for a target heart rate in the vigorous range of 70% to 85%, you can use the heart rate reserve (HRR) method to calculate it like this:

  • Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
  • Calculate your resting heart rate by counting how many times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest, such as first thing in the morning. It’s usually somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute for the average adult.
  • Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR) by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
  • Multiply your HRR by 0.7 (70%). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
  • Multiply your HRR by 0.85 (85%). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
  • These two numbers are your average target heart rate zone for vigorous exercise intensity when using the HRR to calculate your heart rate. Your heart rate during vigorous exercise should generally be between these two numbers.

For example, say your age is 45 and you want to figure out your target heart rate zone for vigorous exercise using the HRRmethod. Follow these steps:

  • First, subtract 45 from 220 to get 175 — this is your maximum heart rate.
  • Next, check your resting heart rate first thing in the morning. Say it’s 80 beats per minute. Calculate your HRR by subtracting 80 from 175. Your HRR is 95.
  • Multiply 95 by 0.7 (70%) to get 66.5, then add your resting heart rate of 80 to get 146.5.
  • Now multiply 95 by 0.85 (85%) to get 80.75, then add your resting heart rate of 80 to get 160.75.
  • Your target heart rate zone for vigorous exercise is 146.5 to 160.75 beats per minute.

How to tell if you’re in the zone

So how do you know if you’re in your target heart rate zone? You can use an activity tracker to check your heart rate regularly while you exercise.

Or use these steps to check your heart rate during exercise:

  • Stop briefly.
  • Take your pulse for 15 seconds. To check your pulse over your carotid artery, place your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery — which is located on the thumb side of your wrist.
  • Multiply this number by 4 to calculate your beats per minute.

Here’s an example: You stop exercising and take your pulse for 15 seconds, getting 37 beats. Multiply 37 by 4, to get 148. If you’re 45 years old, this puts you in the target heart rate zone for vigorous exercise, since the target zone for that age is between 146.5 and 160.75 beats per minute using the HRR method. If you’re under or over your target heart rate zone, adjust your exercise intensity.

Target heart rate tips

It’s important to note that maximum heart rate is only a guide. You may have a higher or lower maximum heart rate, sometimes by as much as 15 to 20 beats per minute. If you want a more specific range, consider discussing your target heart rate zone with an exercise physiologist or a personal trainer.

Generally only elite athletes are concerned about this level of precision. They may also use slightly different calculations that take into account sex differences in target heart rate zones. These differences are so small that most casual athletes don’t need separate calculations for men and women.

Also note that several types of medications, including some medications to lower blood pressure, can lower your maximum heart rate, and then lower your target heart rate zone. Ask your doctor if you need to use a lower target heart rate zone because of any of your medications or medical conditions.

Interestingly, research shows that interval training, which includes short bouts (around 15 to 60 seconds) of higher intensity exercise alternated with longer, less strenuous exercise throughout your workout, is well tolerated. It’s even safe for those with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This type of training is also very effective at increasing your cardiovascular fitness and promoting weight loss.

Reap the rewards of exercise intensity

You’ll get the most from your workouts if you’re exercising at the proper exercise intensity for your health and fitness goals. If you’re not feeling any exertion or your heart rate is too low, pick up the pace. If you’re worried that you’re pushing yourself too hard or your heart rate is too high, back off a bit.

Before starting a vigorous exercise program, you may want to talk with your doctor. He or she may suggest that you have certain tests first. This may be the case for people who have diabetes or more than one risk factor for heart disease, and for men over age 45 and women over age 55.

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Fitness training: Elements of a well-rounded routine

May 31, 2019
Reprinted from MAYO CLINC-Healthy Lifestyle

Fitness training: Elements of a well-rounded routine

Fitness training balances five elements of good health. Make sure your routine includes aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and flexibility and stretching.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Whether you’re a novice taking the first steps toward fitness or an exercise fanatic hoping to optimize your results, a well-rounded fitness training program is essential. Include these five elements to create a balanced routine.

Aerobic fitness

Aerobic activity, also known as cardio or endurance activity, is the cornerstone of most fitness training programs. Aerobic activity or exercise causes you to breathe faster and more deeply, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs.

The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body — and the easier it is to complete routine physical tasks and rise to unexpected challenges, such as running to your car in the pouring rain.

Aerobic activity includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate. Try walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, water aerobics — even leaf raking, snow shoveling and vacuuming.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. You can even break up activity into shorter periods of exercise and aim to move more during the day. Any amount is better than none at all.

You can also try high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bursts of intense activity (around 30 seconds) with subsequent recovery periods (around three to four minutes) of lighter activity. For example, you could alternate periods of brisk walking with periods of leisurely walking, or include bursts of jogging in your brisk walks.

Strength training

Muscular fitness is another key component of a fitness training program. Strength training can help you increase bone strength and muscular fitness, and it can help you manage or lose weight. It can also improve your ability to do everyday activities. Aim to include strength training of all the major muscle groups into your fitness routine at least twice a week.

Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines, free weights and other tools for strength training. But you don’t need to invest in a gym membership or expensive equipment to reap the benefits of strength training.

Hand-held weights or homemade weights — such as plastic soft drink bottles filled with water or sand — may work just as well. Resistance bands are another inexpensive option. Your own body weight counts, too. Try pushups, pullups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.

Core exercises

The muscles in your abdomen, lower back and pelvis — known as your core muscles — help protect your back and connect upper and lower body movements. Core strength is a key element of a well-rounded fitness training program.

Core exercises help train your muscles to brace the spine and enable you to use your upper and lower body muscles more effectively. So what counts as a core exercise? A core exercise is any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support, such as bridges, planks, situps and fitness ball exercises.

Balance training

Balance exercises can help you maintain your balance at any age. It’s generally a good idea for older adults in particular to include exercises to maintain or improve balance in their routine exercises. This is important because balance tends to deteriorate with age, which can lead to falls and fractures. Balance exercises can help older adults prevent falls and maintain their independence.

However, anyone can benefit from balance training, as it can help stabilize your core muscles. Try standing on one leg for increasing periods of time to improve your overall stability. Activities such as tai chi can promote balance, too.

Flexibility and stretching

Flexibility is an important aspect of physical fitness, and it’s a good idea to include stretching and flexibility activities in a fitness program. Stretching exercises can help increase flexibility, which can make it easier for you to do many everyday activities that require flexibility.

Stretching can also improve the range of motion of your joints and may promote better posture. Regular stretching can even help relieve stress and tension.

Consider stretching after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching. But if you want to stretch before a workout, warm up first by walking or exercising for five to 10 minutes before stretching.

Ideally, you’ll stretch whenever you exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly, you might want to stretch at least two to three times a week after warming up to maintain flexibility. Activities such as yoga promote flexibility, too.

Cover all the bases

Whether you create your own fitness training program or enlist the help of a personal trainer, your overall exercise plan should include several elements. Aim to incorporate aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and flexibility and stretching into your exercise plan. It isn’t necessary to fit each of these elements into every fitness session, but factoring them into your regular routine can help you promote fitness for life.

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Poor, Fine, Good, Better, Best: A Guide to Processed Foods

December 20, 2018

Reprinted from: Acefitness   

Poor, Fine, Good, Better, Best: A Guide to Processed Foods

by Michelle Zive

What do bagged spinach, canned tuna, olive oil, granola bars and frozen burritos have in common? They all are processed foods. Yet, we have been inundated with warnings about the harmful effects of eating processed foods. In fact, these foods have been blamed for our nation’s obesity epidemic, high blood pressure rates and the rise of type 2 diabetes. Based on the examples above, however, you can see that processed foods are more than packaged ramen noodles, potato chips and drive-thru chicken nuggets. This article helps you differentiate between the processed foods you should be cautious of and those that can play a role in a balanced, healthy diet.

What is Processed Food?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, processed foods include any food that has been deliberately changed in some way before consumption. Examples of processing include foods that are cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition through fortification (adding folic acid to bread products or calcium and vitamin D to milk and juices). It also includes foods that are preserved (beef jerky or canned fruit) or prepared in different ways (fermentation).

Processed foods range from minimally to heavily processed, including:

  • Minimally processed foods—such as bagged spring mix lettuce, cut-up vegetables and roasted nuts—are simply pre-prepped for convenience.
  • Foods that are processed at their peak to preserve nutritional quality and freshness and include frozen fruit and vegetables, canned tomatoes and canned tuna.
  • Jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing and cake mixes are examples of foods that contain ingredients such as sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives, which are added for flavor and texture.
  • Ready-to-eat foods, such as cookies, breakfast cereals, and deli meat, are more heavily processed.
  • The most heavily processed foods on the processed food spectrum are often pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners.

How to Incorporate the Best Processed Foods Into Your Diet

Processed foods can be helpful and convenient for preparing healthy meals. Unfortunately, most Americans get too many calories from the more heavily processed categories and not enough from lightly processed foods.

The key to consuming the healthiest processed foods is to be able to distinguish between those that have been lightly processed versus those that are heavily processed. Basically, lightly processed foods are ones you can recognize in their original form such as pre-cut apple slices, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna and frozen vegetables. Those that are highly processed are not in their original form such as potato chips and crackers, or foods that are not naturally occurring such as sodas, cookies and candy. The best way to understand where foods fall along the food-processing spectrum is by understanding the Nutrition Facts Label and ingredient list. This is especially important when looking for hidden sugars, sodium and fats.

Added Sugars

Added sugars are any sugar that is not naturally occurring in the food and has been added manually. For example, milk and dairy have a large amount of lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar in these products. However, sugars are added to fruited yogurt. Be aware that sugars are added to a wide variety of products including bread, fruit drinks, granola, protein bars, tomato sauce, canned or boxed soups, nut and seed butters, salad dressings, protein powders and sports drinks. When looking at the food label, some examples of names of added sugars are dextrose, fructose, raw sugar, nectar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar and fruit juice concentrate. Read a product’s ingredient list and look for added sugars among the first two or three ingredients. Beginning in July 2018, grams of added sugar will be included in the Nutrition Facts Label.


Highly processed foods often have a substantial amount of salt added to preserve foods and extend shelf life. In fact, they are major contributors to sodium in our diets. Therefore, choose foods labeled no salt, low-sodium or reduced-sodium to decrease your sodium consumption. We need some sodium, but we often consume more than the Dietary Guidelines for American’s recommendation of less than 2,300 milligrams per day.


Added fats can help make foods more shelf-stable and give them texture and taste. While trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels, are on the decline in processed foods, you still might find them when reading food labels. The Food and Drug Administration banned artificial trans fats from the food supply, but food companies have until 2018 to comply. Look for zero grams of trans fats and no partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.

Below is a list of strategies for choosing processed foods that are good for you:

  1. Frozen vegetables and fruits: If fresh produce is not available or if you often find a “soup” of wilted and spoiled produce at the bottom of your refrigerator drawer, purchase frozen fruits and vegetables instead. Because of the process used to freeze produce (blanched and then quick-frozen), many of the nutrients (vitamins C and E) are the same or even higher in frozen produce as compared to fresh.
  2. Fermented foods: Foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and tempeh contain probiotics, which may help bolster the immune system and relieve constipation.
  3. Sprouted foods: Whole grains and beans are living seeds, and some processing with the right amount of moisture and temperature can make them sprout. These foods have been found to be easily digestible, have a minimal effect on blood-sugar levels, and contain more protein, fiber, and B vitamins than their non-sprouted counterparts. Look for “sprouted” on the food package.

Clearly, processed foods have a place in our busy lives. Prepackaged fruits and vegetables are a convenient way to eat healthfully. In addition, methods of processing, such as fermentation and sprouting can help us obtain the nutrients we wouldn’t otherwise be consuming.

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Cat Cow Pose

December 20, 2018

Cat/Cow Pose

This is such a relaxing and releasing combination of postures if done properly. Keep your eyes closed to focus on connecting each movement to your breath.

  • Cat Cow Yoga Pose

    Come onto all fours with your hands below shoulders and your knees below your hip bones, keeping your back straight in a neutral position.

  • Inhale, lower your belly, draw your shoulder blades together and peel open your chest, lifting your gaze to find Cow Pose. Exhale, press against your palms, round into your back body as you draw your shoulder blades apart from each other, gazing toward your navel to find Cat Pose. Continue these movements following your breath.
  • Feel the arching movement up and down throughout your back while inhaling and exhaling with the rhythm of the movement.
  • Move slowly to feel the movement of each vertebra of your spine.

If you’re having problems getting to the floor, or, being on your knees, the pose can be done while seated in a chair.


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Breakfast Energy Drink

December 20, 2018
Reprinted from: The American Institute for Cancer Research

Breakfast Energy Drink

Energy drink with cinnamon sticksFebruary is Cancer Prevention Month – a time to focus on healthy habits that can lower your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. Getting more fruit and vegetable servings is one important thing you can do today. And it just got easier. This nutritious breakfast smoothie combines leafy super greens, kale and spinach, with seasonal fruits, nuts and seeds for a cancer-fighting kick-start to your morning. Pumpkin will give you plenty of beta-carotene, a compound important in controlling normal cell growth and preventing

Makes 2 (about 1½ cup) Servings

Per serving: 231 calories, 12 g total fat (1 g saturated fat),
24 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 111 mg sodium.


  • 2 medium kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup spinach leaves loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1/3 cup plain canned pumpkin*
  • 3 Tbsp. seeds or nuts
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups soy or dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6-8 ice cubes (1 cup)


Combine all ingredients in blender or food processer and blend on high until smooth. Let sit for 1 minute to thicken before serving.

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Too Busy For Your Regular Workout?

December 20, 2018
Reprinted from:  MD Anderson Cancer Center

Holiday exercise: No Gym Required
BY Laura Nathan-Garner

cartoon figures of exercising

Exercising won’t just help your body burn those extra holiday calories before they turn into extra body fat. It also helps curb stress, lower blood pressure and improve your mood, so you can actually enjoy the holidays.

Forget the excuses for not exercising this holiday season. Even if you’re too busy for your usual workout, you can still get the 150 minutes of weekly moderate physical activity that help you to maintain a healthy weight and lower your cancer risks. All it takes is adding some heart-pumping twists to the tasks already on your holiday to-do list.

Keep in mind that you can break up your weekly, and even daily, workout to fit your schedule. “If you plan to work out 30 minutes a day for five days, you can break those daily minutes into three 10-minute or two 15-minute chunks as your schedule allows,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson.

Can’t get your full 30 minutes of exercise for the day? Even 15 minutes of daily exercise can increase your life expectancy by up to three years, says recent research.

Here’s how to turn your exercise excuses into heart-boosting opportunities this holiday season.

Shopping: Use the stairs and carry bags 

Stop looking for a parking space near the door and park far from the entrance. Or, if you’re taking the bus or train, get off a stop or two early. Either way, you’ll pack in some extra walking.

“For walking to count as exercise, you should be a little out of breath and feel your heart beating a little faster,” Basen-Engquist says.

While shopping, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. If possible, carry your purchases instead of using a shopping cart. You’ll get your heart pumping and sneak in some strength training.

Hosting guests: Boost your house cleaning activities

Readying your home for visitors is a great way to slip in aerobic activity, but not just any tidying will do the trick.

“The most important thing is to get your heart rate up at a consistent level,” Basen-Engquist says.

So, focus on repetitive activities that use large muscle groups, like your legs and back. This includes vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, gardening and even taking multiple trips upstairs to put away laundry or holiday decorations.

Traveling: Take physical activity breaks

You can get your heart pumping on the road with these tips:

  • Flying or taking the train or bus: While waiting to depart, take a brisk walk around the terminal — and skip the moving sidewalks. When you reach your destination, make your walk to baggage claim or the exit a quick one.
  • Driving: Add physical activity to gas and bathroom breaks. Kick around a soccer ball, throw a Frisbee® or take a brisk walk.
  • Staying at a hotel or with friends or relatives: Many hotels offer gyms and even exercise classes. If that’s not an option, find an exercise video online, or use an exercise DVD or an exercise app. Or, explore the area by taking a jog, hike or brisk walk.

Surrounded by family: Do group activities

Help your entire family exercise by teaming up to:

  • Train for a holiday race. Many cities hold a turkey trot on Thanksgiving.
  • Go hiking.
  • Go horseback riding.
  • Ice skate.

Extra tips to help you move more

Still can’t work exercise into your holiday activities? Try these tips:

  • Use your lunch hour to jog or take a brisk walk.
  • Take the stairs at work.
  • Schedule workouts ahead of time.
  • Enlist a friend or family member to walk with you during the holidays. Buddying up motivates both of you and gives you a chance to catch up and stay connected.

Remember, some things can wait until after the holidays, but your health isn’t one of them.

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Life with Cancer Nurse Receives Prestigious Award

November 6, 2018

Christine Stone RN, MSN, OCN, was awarded the 2018 Cure Magazine Extraordinary Healer Award at the Oncology Nurses Society Annual Conference.  Christine was surrounded and celebrated by family, Inova colleagues and hundreds of oncology nurses from throughout the country. It is an INCREDIBLE honor and testament to Christine’s incredible work and career as an oncology nurse navigator to be recognized as the Extraordinary Healer across the entire nation’s Oncology Nurses. Please join me in congratulating and celebrating Christine in this tremendous accomplishment.

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Green Goddess Buddha Bowl (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

August 15, 2018

Thanks to Sharon Palmer, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, for this tasty AND healthy meal!

salad with grains and vegetablesBuddha bowls – light, healthy meals comprised of a whole grain, lots of vegetables, a healthful protein source, and a flavorful sauce – are all the rage.  This bowl combines the star nutrition power of whole grain sorghum and beans with cool green veggies, such as arugula, avocados, cucumbers, asparagus and pumpkin seeds.  Plus, it’s topped with a house-made, Green Goddess Dressing. This yields 4 entrée-size servings + 2 tablespoons dressing


Buddha Bowl:
    • 2 cups cooked whole grain sorghum, cooled
    • 1 15.5-ounce can white beans (i.e., Great Northern, cannellini)
    • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed, sliced
    • 4 cups packed baby arugula leaves
    • 1 medium avocado, sliced
    • 1 medium cucumber, sliced
    • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
Green Goddess Dressing:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened plant-based milk (i.e., soy, almond, coconut)
  • 1/4 ripe large avocado, peeled, sliced
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumber, with peel
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (i.e., dill, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, cilantro)
  • 1 stalk green onion, white and green parts, diced
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed


To make Buddha Bowls (makes 4):
    1. Cook whole grain sorghum to make 2 cups, according to package directions, and cool, draining any remaining liquid.
    2. Rinse and drain white beans and set aside.
    3. Blanch asparagus by cooking it in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until tender, but bright green; set aside.
    4. Arrange 1 cup arugula leaves at the bottom of each large, individual serving bowl (4).
    5. Arrange over the arugula leaves in each bowl (4):
¼ of the white beans (about ½ cup)
½ cup cooked, cooled sorghum
¼ sliced avocado
¼ of the cucumber slices (about ½ cup)
¼ of the blanched, cooled asparagus
A dollop (about 2 tablespoons) of Green Goddess Dressing (see below)
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
    1. Serve immediately.
To make Green Goddess Dressing:
  1. Place all of the dressing ingredients into the container of a small blender and process until smooth.
  2. Makes 1/2 cup (4 servings).


This recipe is excellent for meal prep by preparing 4 individual servings in sealed containers and refrigerating it to be enjoyed during the week. You can also serve this recipe in one large dish by following instructions and arranging all ingredients in one large salad bowl instead of 4 individual serving bowls. If you prefer more dressing with the bowls, you may double the dressing recipe, and keep leftovers in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Nutrition information for 1 serving (Buddha bowl): 372 calories, 8 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 16 mg sodium, 67 g carbohydrate, 17 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17.5 g protein

Nutrition information for 1 serving (Green Goddess Dressing): 21 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 0.5 g sugar, 0.5 g protein

To visit Sharon’s site go to Sharon Palmer The Plant-Powered Dietitian

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