Health & Fitness – Fiber

8-19-2016 9-30-59 AMEating healthy may improve your health and lower your need for prescription drugs. Dietary fiber is a component in plant based foods that is linked to a wide range of improved health outcomes, including lower cholesterol, better blood sugar regulation, improved intestinal health, greater satiety (feeling of fullness), and lower rates of certain types of cancer. Fiber is found naturally in plant foods that should comprise the greater part of a healthy diet.

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The typical American diet includes only about half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, primarily due to the amount of processed foods we eat. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 30 grams of fiber per day in your diet; and here are five great fiber sources.


Legumes are a class of vegetables that include beans, peas, and lentils. They are some of the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Because they are a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

Canned beans are affordable and a convenient way to get your legumes. Try subbing pinto beans for meat in your next batch of chili (or add less meat and more beans), add black beans to your burritos or canned beans to your salads, or whip up a batch of lentil soup. If you’re concerned about sodium, rinse the beans under running water first. This will eliminate about 30 percent of the sodium. The fiber in legumes ranges from 5 to 8 grams per half-cup serving.


While fruits and vegetables both contain fiber, fruit generally has more fiber per serving than do vegetables. One cup of berries, for example, contains 4 to 10 grams of fiber (about twice that of an apple). Blackberries and raspberries have 8 grams fiber per cup, while elderberries top the chart with 10 grams per 1-cup serving.


There are many different types of grains that contain bran. Oat bran, for example, contains soluble fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol levels. The bran found in corn, wheat and rice is largely insoluble fiber, which can help fight constipation. High-fiber cereals often include bran in their ingredients. Or if you don’t eat cereal, sprinkle bran on fruit and yogurt or add into casseroles or baked goods. One ounce of wheat bran and oat bran yields 12 grams of fiber, whereas raw corn bran packs 22 grams of fiber per ounce.


Many fruits contain 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving, but pears contain two to three times that much. A large pear has 7 grams of fiber, while a large Asian pear contains 10 grams. Stick with fresh pears because canned pears usually have added sugars and less fiber (because fiber degrades over time and is generally lost during the canning process).


Peas are one of the few members of the legume family that are commonly sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. Black-eyed peas pack 6 grams of fiber per half-cup, and even green-pea powder is popping up with 4 grams fiber and 4 grams protein per 1 ½-tablespoon serving.

To check out the fiber content of some of your favorite foods, visit the USDA Nutrient Database website at For more help with a healthy nutritious diet, talk to a registered dietician or a certified Health Coach.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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8-5-2016 11-46-50 AMMany factors contribute to falls among older adults, from medical problems like arthritis, osteoporosis, poor eyesight, Parkinson’s disease, and drowsiness caused by medications, to environmental conditions like poor lighting, slippery floors and unexpected obstacles. Falls can also be the result of weak muscles, but the biggest contributing factor to falls are shoes.

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Never wear shoes with slippery or worn outer soles. Avoid shoes with smooth leather or plastic soles, which can be slippery on carpets, wood and tile floors, and wet surfaces. Some fitness or athletic shoes made with synthetic soles, which may be ideal for exercising in a gym, can be extremely slippery on a damp or wet surface. Avoid heels.

Avoid wearing shoes and slippers that are loose or ill-fitting. Never wear slip-on shoes or flip-flops. I recommend always purchasing shoes that tie or fasten with buckles or Velcro. Shoes can stretch after they are worn even a short amount of time allowing your foot to slide or slip in the shoe. Laced shoes or shoes that fasten can be adjusted to accommodate orthotics, braces and swelling of the feet.

When walking on carpets, avoid wearing shoes with heavy rubber lugs (lug soles are a type of outer sole found on heavy-duty and utility shoes such as hiking boots or work boots) that can catch on carpets, especially if you are one of those people who barely pick up his/her feet when walking. The rubber tips on the toes of running shoes can also cause a stumble on a carpeted surface.

For an all-around shoe, consider walking shoes, which provide good traction and support but do not have heavy soles or rubber over the toes. I recommend you visit shoe stores like Fleet Feet and ask them to fit you in a good walking shoe. Shoe size often changes with age as feet swell and spread. The shoes you are purchasing off the shelf may not be the correct size any more.
Although shoes with a lot of cushioning can make you feel as if you are walking on air, they can also make an older person unstable and are best avoided.
For more information about safe shoes, talk to a physician that specializes in foot care.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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7-16-2016 10-07-04 AMI realize it is hot outside and most of us are looking forward to cooler weather. For me, no matter what the weather is, I have difficulty spending too much time cooped up indoors. Here are some reasons all of us need to spend more time outside.

A walk outside can boost creativity and concentration. When I am walking, hiking, or just pulling weeds, I find I do a lot of my best thinking. Studies show that a stroll outside can actually improve brain function and mental focus. A study by psychologists from the University of Utah and University of Kansas found that backpackers scored 50 percent higher on creativity tests after spending just four full days in nature without any electronics. Children with ADHD are likely to score higher on concentration tests after time outdoors.

Going outside can improve your mood. Both cold winter and hot summer days that keep me indoors can result in that “blue funk.” SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is the name of a reoccurring depression that has symptoms of anxiety, exhaustion and sadness as a result of shorter winter days. One treatment for SAD, according to the Mayo Clinic, is to spend more time outside, even when it is cold and cloudy.

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More time outdoors results in the production of more Vitamin D. The ultraviolet B (UVB) energy from natural sunlight causes a chemical reaction in our body that forms Vitamin D from a chemical precursor. Vitamin D helps ward off heart attacks, and may even improve various conditions, including osteoporosis and some types of cancer. Although we can obtain Vitamin D from foods like salmon and cheese, we get 80 to 90 percent of it from the sun. But remember – a little sun goes a long way; use sunscreen if you are going to be outsidefor more than a few minutes.

Nature is healing. Natural light may hold healing powers, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers found that spinal surgery patients saw lower levels of both Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment. pain and stress after they were exposed to more natural sunlight. In fact, patients exposed to 46
percent more sunshine took 22 percent less pain medication per hour.

Another study, suggests that getting outside remains just as important as we age. Seventy-yearolds who spent time outdoors daily reported fewer bouts of pain, and had less trouble sleeping. They also seemed to show less of a decline in day-to-day activities. In other words, the outdoors may help us stay healthy later in life.

If you have questions about Vitamin D and your health, talk to your health care provider. If you have been diagnosed with low Vitamin D levels, ask your doctor if he/she recommends more time outdoors.
By: Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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7-1-2016 2-57-04 PMOver the years that I have been working in gyms, teaching fitness classes, and training one-on-one, I have heard the wildest diet and nutrition stories. One of the biggest problems is food manufacturers’ marketing. Much of the information they publish is inaccurate and misleading. Below are some myths and the actual truths.

Myth #1: Extreme calorie cutting helps you lose weight. The energy balance equation says a person must use (burn) more calories than they consume to lose weight. That is true, but the quality of the calories also matters. Processed and packaged weight loss foods are not metabolically satisfying. Your body needs whole foods. Also, extremely low calorie diets ignore your body’s signals for food. If you do not eat when you are hungry, or do not eat for long periods of time, then your resting metabolic rate is reduced.

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Myth #2: Reduced-fat foods are healthier. No, they are only lower in fat. In the past, reduced-fat foods were promoted as healthier options than full-fat foods. Therefore, many of the food manufacturers came out with low-fat dressings and other low-fat processed foods. But to make these low-fat foods taste good, the food companies increased the sugar content. Now, with all the rave about gluten-free, food manufacturers are doing the same when removing the flour. Some fat is needed in our diets, but it needs to come from healthy sources – nuts, lean meats, healthy oils, etc.
Myth #3: Carbohydrates make you gain weight. Excess of any macronutrient (fat, protein or carbohydrate) can end up in weight gain. The average person should consume 45 -65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates. But the reason carbohydrates have a bad name is because most people lack balance or choose the unhealthy fried or sugar- dominated options. The healthy carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits and vegetables that are close to their natural form (not processed).

Myth #4: Sweet potatoes are good for you and white potatoes are not. Over the past few years, white potatoes have been labeled as “bad” because of the glycemic index diet, but both white and sweet potatoes are full of nutrients. Sweet potatoes have higher vitamin A; however white potatoes have more potassium and magnesium. Both potatoes are about equal in fiber content, protein and vitamins C and B6. Neither potato is a good choice when fried or loaded with butter or brown sugar!

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Myth #5: Eat dairy to get your calcium. Many of us are concerned about bone loss and osteoporosis. Throughout our lives, we have been told to drink milk and eat cheese. However, there are non-dairy, calcium rich foods available: beans, dark leafy greens, rhubarb, broccoli, almonds, turnips, bok choy, dried figs, tofu and bony fish. Fewer dairy products usually means fewer calories.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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6-18-2016 11-02-09 AMIt is probably time to decrease the sodium content of your diet. Sodium chloride, or salt, is the most common food preservative. Therefore, it is added to most of our foods. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends that the general population limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg/day. Additionally, if you have high blood pressure or have been diagnosed with prehypertension, you should limit your daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg/day.

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Unfortunately, most Americans age 2 years and older consume more than 3,400 mg/day; nearly twice the recommended amount! This is a concern because excessive sodium intake is linked to increased risk for stroke and heart attack in some people.

There is some good news related to sodium and your diet. Sodium is found in high quantities in foods we shouldn’t be eating that much of to begin with: processed, packaged, and fast foods. So, if you stick to whole foods and ingredients such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and dairy, you’ll automatically start paring down your sodium intake.
Sodium is everywhere in our diet and sometimes hard to avoid. However, nutrition labels do list sodium amounts and food manufacturers must follow strict guidelines on their products. Because food labels are somewhat confusing and misleading, some definitions are listed below:

• Sodium free: Less than 5 mg per serving*
• Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving*
• Reduced sodium: 25 percent less sodium than appropriate reference group
• Light in sodium: 50 percent less sodium than appropriate reference group
• No Salt Added: Unsalted but must also declare “This is not a sodium-free food”
• Lightly salted: 50 percent less sodium than normally added to appropriate reference food
* Note the serving size on the label.
Sodium is pretty easy to identify in typically high-salt foods such as frozen dinners, canned goods, and packaged snack foods. But many other foods might not be so obvious. For example, meat in its pure animal flesh form has a limited amount of naturally occurring salt. However, meat processors often inject meat and poultry with a salt solution to increase bulk, tenderness and flavor. Other meat products may have salty marinades or sauces added to them.
Below are some tips for reducing your sodium.
• Condiments: select low- or reduced-sodium or no-salt added varieties.
• Vegetables: select fresh, frozen or canned (low-sodium or no-salt-added).
• Protein: select fresh poultry, fish and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked or processed.
• Cereals: select ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium
• Cured foods: limit cured foods (bacon ham, deli meats), foods packed in brine (pickles, pickled vegetables, olives, sauerkraut), and condiments (mustard, horseradish, ketchup, BBQ sauce). Limit even lower-sodium versions of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce because these are still high in sodium.
• Starches: Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Limit instant or flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
• Convenience foods: avoid when possible. If unavoidable, choose those that are lower in sodium. Reduce frozen dinners, mixed dishes like pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups, broths, and salad dressings.
• Canned foods: Rinse canned foods, such as tuna and canned beans, to remove approximately one-third of the sodium.
• Spices: Use spices instead of salt. Flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, or salt-free seasoning blends.
Remember to always read labels when in doubt. If you still need assistance, talk to a registered dietician, or a certified health coach.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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6-6-2016 10-51-15 AMEvery joint in our body is surrounded by muscles that produce and control movement. Sometimes muscles on one side of a joint become too tight from overuse, which then causes the muscles on the other side to become too weak from lack of use. This is called muscle imbalance. Muscle imbalances can potentially cause an injury. The right exercise program can improve your muscle strength and improve joint range of motion, both of which are necessary for eliminating muscle imbalances.

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Below are six things that you should know about muscle imbalances.
1. Repetitive motions are one of the most common causes of muscle imbalances. Repetitive movements at work or performing the exact same exercises in every workout are two examples. If you have a job requiring repetitive motions, try to identify ways that you can make small changes to the movement to avoid imbalances. Also, change the exercises in your workouts on a regular basis to minimize the risk of developing muscle imbalances.

2. Staying in a sedentary, seated position for an extended period of time can create muscle imbalances in your hips. When you are seated, your hips are flexed, which places the muscles that cause hip flexion in a shortened position. When the hip flexors are shortened, they will change the way the hip joints move. In addition, tight hip flexors reduce the activity to the gluteus maximus muscles which are responsible for extending the hips. This could be a cause of low back pain. If you spend a lot of time seated, look for opportunities to stand up, move around and try to keep your joints mobile and your hip muscles from becoming too tight.

3. Your driving position can result in muscle imbalances. Keeping one leg bent back or slouching while driving could cause the resting length of your muscles to change, especially if you’re in the car for extended periods of time. Pay attention to how you sit and try to keep your body in a neutral position. If you’re taking a long car trip, stop to get out, move around and stretch.

4. Performing exercises in a single plane of motion can contribute to muscle imbalances because our body is designed to move through multiple planes of motion in many directions. To reduce this risk, make sure that your exercise program includes equal amounts of movements like pushing, pulling, or rotating, as well as moving sideways and in rotational directions.

5. Poor posture can result in muscle imbalances of the upper body, specifically the shoulders and upper back. For example, allowing your body to roll forward in a slouched position can cause shortness in the muscles of the shoulders, which creates unnecessary length in the muscles of the upper back. Using a computer keyboard or texting often can also encourage this slouched position. If this sounds familiar, exercises for core stability or performing pulling movements with your hands in a neutral position can help you stand taller (which also helps you to look slimmer without dropping any weight).

6. Frequently wearing shoes with heels higher than your toes could increase your risk for developing muscle imbalances in your feet, lower legs, hips and shoulders. When your heels are in an elevated position, it can change the position of your knees. This, in turn, changes the position of your thigh bones, which, subsequently, changes the position of your spine and shoulders. Elevated heels can also cause extreme tightness in the calves.
When your car has a tendency to pull to one side, it’s probably out of alignment and you need to see a mechanic. Likewise, with your body. A certified personal trainer has the skill set to help identify any muscle imbalances. These imbalances can be addressed with an appropriate exercise program that improves joint stability, mobility, and enhances overall movement efficiency.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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5-20-2016 2-43-30 PMSeems like almost everyone has lower back pain at some time. Matter of fact it is one of the top causes of missed work in this country. Lower back pain can range from just a dull ache to shooting pains. Lower back pain can make it difficult to move or even stand up straight. Acute pain comes on suddenly and is often the result of an injury or heavy lifting. Chronic pain is pain over a long period. Both acute and chronic lower back pain need to be checked by a doctor.

The kind of back pain that follows heavy lifting or exercising too hard is often caused by muscle strain. But sometimes the back pain can be related to a disc that bulges or ruptures (often called a herniated disk). If a bulging or ruptured disk presses on the sciatic nerve, pain may run from the buttock down one leg. This is called sciatica. Sometimes a job that involves lifting, pulling, or anything that twists the spine, may contribute to back pain. However, sitting at a desk all day can be a problem, too. A purse, backpack, or briefcase over your shoulder can cause back pain because it is the lower back that supports the upper body and anything you carry. Overdoing it during exercise or playing a sport such as golf may result in back pain as well, especially if you tend to be inactive most other times.

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Poor posture is also a problem. Your back supports weight best when you don’t slouch. This means sitting with good lumbar support, shoulders back, and your feet resting on a low stool. Being overweight and an inactive lifestyle can contribute to low back pain.

Back pain due to muscle strain will usually get better on its own. A heating pad or warm bath may provide temporary pain relief. You may not feel like getting out of bed when your back hurts, but if the problem is muscle strain, often doctors recommend returning to your normal activities as soon as possible. Often, bed rest can actually make the pain worse by losing muscle tone and flexibility.

If pain does not go away after a few months, yoga or other conventional stretching exercises may help. Make sure your instructor is experienced at working with people with back pain and can modify postures and stretches for you. Massage therapy may relieve chronic low back pain, especially when combined with exercise and stretching.

Lower back pain can often be helped with over the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. Pain-relieving creams may be helpful for muscle aches. For severe pain or chronic pain, your doctor may recommend prescription medication.

If medications are not helping, injections into the back may help. Injections usually contain steroids. If long-lasting back pain is interfering with your daily life, and other treatments have not provided relief, you may be a candidate for surgery or physical therapy. A physical therapist can show you stretches, strength exercises, and low-impact cardio exercises that may relieve pain and strengthen your back.

There’s no sure way to prevent back pain as you age, but the steps to lower your risk include staying at a healthy weight, exercising regularly, lifting with your legs, not your back, and making sure your work station position isn’t contributing to your pain.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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5-6-2016 10-33-03 AMWhen did you first get involved in fitness?
I began running and participating in aerobic classes when I was in my 20’s, primarily because I wanted to look good. I soon realized it made me feel good too. Exercise helped me with sleep and the stress of my career as a chemist.

What inspired you to start a career in fitness?
I began teaching aerobic classes in order to earn a little extra money and get a free membership at a local gym. I realized I was good with people and really cared about the quality of classes that I was teaching. I wanted classes that welcomed everyone not just the young and fit. Wherever I taught I tried to get the gym to offer classes for beginners. Because I started teaching at a time that certifications were not required, I saw lots of unsafe and poor quality classes. This led me to read as much as possible about fitness and choose to get an ACE Group Fitness Certification.

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I continued to teach fitness classes wherever I lived. Then after I decided I no longer wanted to work as a chemist and tried my hand at some small businesses outside the fitness field, I decided to open Curves. Curves had an excellent program for women new to fitness or women uncomfortable in a gym setting. This was just the group that I liked to work with. While I had Curves, I studied and received my ACE Personal Training certification and then my ACE Health Coach Certification.

What do you like most about the classes you are teaching now?

Most of my classes now and most of my personal training clients are 50+. I think this group is most appreciative. They are more focused on their health and well-being rather than on their looks. I am always thrilled when a student or client tells me the benefits they are seeing after just a few sessions. I look forward to every one of my classes and seeing every one of my clients!
What is your favorite workout to do on your own?

Because I have my own studio above our garage, I work out up there. I usually ride the elliptical doing intervals and then resistance work with free weights or elastic tubing. Sometimes I walk or run the neighborhood. If time allows, I attend a yoga or pilates class.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I guess that depends on the time of year. If weather permits, I like to be outdoors working in the yard. If you want to find me on weekends in the spring, just drive by and look in the yard. I also love antique/junk shopping which is visible by the eclectic yard art. During the cold, dreary winter days, I read, work jigsaw puzzles, and make or fix jewelry. Once or twice a year, my husband and I travel. We enjoy visiting places that involve hiking, history, and culture.
Which client/student has inspired you most?

All my students/clients inspire me for different reasons. I think I have learned just as much from them as they have from me.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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4-15-2016 5-00-59 PMSince activity trackers first came out, I have had dozens of people ask me which one I recommend. I have always suggested that each person do their own research and decide which features work best for them. Most activity trackers today report steps, heart rate, calories burned, distance, and pace. Below are some specifics reported as a result of an ACE survey from earlier this year.

Trackers that measure steps (basic pedometer): This is a great measure for those people that are more sedentary and have a goal to be more active. These trackers give a person a better idea about how much or little they move. These trackers usually just provide information about the quantity of steps but not the quality of the steps. For example, steps strolling through the mall will not be differentiated from steps taken during a brisk walk.

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Trackers that measure calories: These are great for the person than wants to lose weight and needs to see how calories in and out affect weight loss. This is a great tool when teamed up with a food-logging app or just a simple food diary.

Trackers that measure heart rate: These are great for those watching their exercise intensity or for more athletic people who want to gauge one workout against another to improve performance.
Trackers that measure duration, distance, pace: These are great for both beginners and the more athletic person. These trackers measure how long, how fast, and how intensely one exercised during their workout. This allows a person to compare measurable outcomes to improve performance.

The above variables are common in most trackers, but other features are available. Some trackers monitor sleep, information that might be helpful. Other trackers act as a “watch dog” for inactivity by encouraging users to get up and move around to attain their step goal or to break up their sitting/inactivity.

I still recommend you do some homework. Decide what you are looking for in a tracker – do you need all the bells and whistles? Determine what you want to spend. Decide if accuracy matters, as not all trackers have the same accuracy levels. If you just want to compare your steps to the steps you did yesterday, accuracy may not matter. Are you a computer person? If so, maybe you want a tracker that allows you to plot your data. If you want something super simple, maybe a simple pedometer is your best option.

For myself, I have a Garmin that is several years old. I use it when running for checking my distance. I set a distance goal and run in local neighborhoods. Without it, I know I would not run nearly as far.

For more information about setting fitness goals and keeping track of your progress, call Janet at 256-614-3530 or email at
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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4-1-2016 12-03-56 PMIt has been known for some time, and confirmed in a report last year from the World Health Organization, that processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Processed meats are also known to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

So what are processed meats? They are meats that have been salted, smoked and/or cured for flavor and preservation. They include bacon, salami, bologna, ham, and other deli meats, and hot dogs. Unprocessed meats include fresh beef, lamb, pork, etc.

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For any known carcinogen, the effect depends on the dose or amount of exposure. High levels of exposure (consumption) can be quite risky, while low levels may be significantly safer. To prevent colorectal cancer, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends avoiding processed meats except on special occasions. The AICR has concluded that eating about two ounces of processed meat each day leads to an 18% increase in colorectal cancer. AICR also recommends limiting unprocessed red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (based on a review of research on processed meats and risk of heart disease and diabetes, but not cancer,) concluded that that one serving of processed meat per week (three ounce serving) is associated with low risk.

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It is not clear why processed meat poses an increased heath risk more than unprocessed meat. Research is looking at the possibility that higher levels of sodium and preservatives like nitrates are responsible for the higher health risk.

Based on the available evidence, the safe amount of processed meat probably falls between the AICR’s “only on special occasions” recommendation, and three ounces per week.
For more information regarding healthy eating and lifestyle changes, talk to a registered dietician or an ACE certified Health Coach (Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530).
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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