How Pilates Can Promote Good Health In Both Mind And Body

It’s been known for some time that a good daily exercise routine can help both improve a person’s physical health and also their mental outlook as well. The body just seems to respond well to being kept in tune. But even further advancement in mind/body health has been brought about in recent years through the use of the pilates exercise method.

Joseph Pilates formulated the basic exercises that comprise the system over 70 years ago, and so the system of graceful movements is named after him. Of course, since that time many more exercises have been added and refinements made, but many of the original exercises are still in use as well.

Pilates felt that the mind and body were connected as a unit and that the mind could help strengthen and control the body’s health if focused properly. So he worked up a system of movements that must be done gracefully and accompanied with proper breathing techniques to build up the core muscles of the body and enhance flexibility in the process. His work became quickly adopted when he opened his studio in New York City and since then has been carried on and expanded after his death.

Pilates exercises try to build strength and stamina not through aerobic and weight training as much as controlled body movements that use isometric principles instead. They can be performed just about anywhere and the only really necessary piece of equipment is a mat upon which to lie down.

Although pilates may sound like a very simple thing to do, there is more to it than you may initially think. Of course, it can be very gentle for those who have been injured and need to start slowly, but for those who are long time practitioners pilates can be challenging as it calls for stretching almost every muscle in your body as you go through the movements and to even hold those stretches for a period of time.

But pilates has another very beneficial effect on one’s health as it contributes to a positive and relaxed mental outlook. That is something that many people would love to have these days, and so they are surprised to learn that pilates can help in this area. But the combination of breathing exercises and total concentration on the movements seems to help many release the worries that cloud their mind from each day’s activity as they go through their pilates workout.

So if you feel that you need to improve both your physical and mental health, why not take a good long look at pilates to see if it can benefit you? It doesn’t take much to get started, and is not expensive at all like other fitness routines. There is no time like the present to begin.

Discover the Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

If you’re like most Americans, you don’t eat a lot of fermented foods. Fermented foods are more popular in the Chinese, Korean and Japanese culture where fermented soy products like tempeh and kimchee are a dietary staple. In fact, the only exposure many Americans get to fermented foods is when they eat a container of yogurt with active cultures – but that’s rapidly changing.

Fermented products are growing in popularity including fermented beverages like kombucha, a beverage prepared from fermented mushrooms, and kefir, a fermented milk drink. More natural food stores are carrying fermented foods and beverages because of the health benefits they offer.

What Are the Health Benefits of Fermented Foods?

One reason fermented foods and beverages are good for you is because of the natural probiotics they contain. Probiotics are “good bacteria” that keep disease-causing bacteria in check by competing for the same resources. There’s only so much room available in your gut for bacteria and when the good guys move in, they push the bad ones out. Unfortunately, most people who eat Westernized diets don’t get many natural probiotics in their diet. That’s changing as yogurt and other fermented foods grow in popularity.

Probiotic bacteria not only keep bad bacteria in check, they also help to “tune up” your immune system. You may not know it but 70% of your immune system lies in your gut – so nurturing your gut immunity with probiotic bacteria keeps your intestinal tract healthy.

Some studies also show these friendly bacteria offer added resistance against infection. Plus they offer potential benefits for treating irritable bowel syndrome, some types of diarrhea and for preventing vaginal yeast infections. If you have gas and bloating after meals, probiotics may help with these symptoms because fermented foods are a natural source of intestine-friendly bacteria.

Fermenting Foods Reduces Anti-Nutrients

Another benefit to fermenting foods, especially soy, is it inactivates anti-nutrients that block the absorption of minerals from the foods you eat. Soy contains phytates, compounds that reduce the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium from your gut. Fermenting soy inactivates phytates, making it a healthier way to eat soy.

Examples of fermented soy foods you can buy at most natural food markets are miso and tempeh. You may have enjoyed a cup of miso soup at a Japanese restaurant and not realized you were doing good things for your intestines. Believe me – your intestines would thank you if they could.

Other examples of probiotic-rich foods are sauerkraut, kimchi (fermented cabbage), fermented cheeses and soy sauce. Just as there are fermented foods, you can nurture your intestines with probiotic beverages like kefir and kombucha.

Fermented Beverages: Another Source of Probiotics

Kefir is a probiotic -rich beverages that has the consistency of thin yogurt and is available in a number of flavors at natural food markets. It has a slightly tart taste like yogurt, but you can blend it with fresh fruit for a sweeter taste. You can even make your own kefir at home.

Kombucha is fizzy and has a rather tart taste. Some companies that produce it like Synergy add flavors like lemon, strawberry and cranberry to it to give it more mainstream appeal. Being an acquired taste, some people don’t like it when they first try it but after drinking it a few times, its fizzy effervescence becomes addictive for some.

How to Enjoy the Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

You can enjoy the benefits of probiotic bacteria by simply eating a container of yogurt with active cultures every day. If you’re a little more adventurous, give kefir or kombucha a try. There are ways to make eating kefir more fun. Try making a kefir parfait by adding nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and spices to kefir. It’s a healthy way to start the morning. Sip on a bottle of flavored kombucha as a healthy replacement for soft drinks.

Why not make your own sauerkraut? You’ll get the benefits of the probiotic bacteria and the anti-cancer compounds in cabbage at the same time. Sauerkraut you buy in cans at the grocery store don’t contain live probiotics. Here’s a video to show you how:

When buying cheese, skip the packaged cheese at the grocery store and buy aged cheese with natural probiotics. Fermented soy is rich in isoflavones, natural compounds that may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. You can buy miso at most natural food markets and use it to make soup, sauces and salad dressings. You can also add it to soups and stews for greater health benefits.

You’ll want to avoid using high heat since it can destroy the probiotic bacteria. Try tempeh, another fermented soy product, as a substitute for meat. It’s a good choice for meatless Mondays. By scouring the web, you’ll find a number of tasty recipes using tempeh.

Next time you’re at your local natural food market, pick up some kimchi. It’s a popular vegetable side dish in Korea made of fermented cabbage and other fermented veggies. It has a spicy taste that’s as tongue tingling as it is healthy. In fact, you can ferment your own vegetables at home using a starter culture you buy at health food stores or online.

The Bottom Line?

Enjoy the health benefits that fermented foods and beverages have to offer. You might discover you enjoy the taste as much as you do the health benefits.

References:

British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 107 / Issue 06 / March 2012, pp 876-884.

Eden Foundation. “Fermented Food: Safer to Eat”

Popular Health and Fitness Books Online

Health and fitness is of topmost priority to everyone. Then what happens when your book love unites with the fitness freak in you? Magic happens! The joy is unparalleled when you curl up in a blanket at the corner of your bed with one of the favourite books in hand. The book that was written just the way you want to teach you with the ways to stay fit and healthy following a good diet. What could be better than somebody telling you about how to do the right things exactly?

Find below the popular health and fitness books that may help you keep your diet in check and weight within limits.

The VB6 Cookbook By Mark Bittman

This edition is special because it contains recipes for around 350 healthy and delicious vegan meals. The VB6 diet plan is one of the bestsellers and it helps you stay vegan till six in the evening. Follow part-time veganism which is a smarter way to control weight and become food-friendly. The regimen is easy to adopt and can last for a lifetime. The challenging meal of a breakfast itself is full of dairy-free smoothies, hot cereals, brunch-worthy entrees and toast toppers. Lunches comprise sandwiches, grains, beans, hearty soups and pastas and the snack recipes are the perfect afternoon pick-ups to avoid those vending machine cravings. If you do not want your vegan meals to appear boring or you do not want to give up your favourite food item, this book can help you see your food in a new light.

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom By Melissa and Dallas Hartwig

It is a recipe-by-recipe and step-by-step guidebook to help people transform their lives in only a month. Go through it for an effortless weight loss by just improving your sleep quality, pepping up your mood, increasing energy levels and your self-esteem. Follow some basic steps and you are near to breaking your unhealthy habits, regulate digestion, reduce cravings and strengthen the immune system. It also includes real-life success stories, an extensive list of frequently-asked questions and community resources to embark upon a journey towards food freedom.

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease By Michael Greger

It provides the groundbreaking scientific facts related to the diet that may prevent and reverse the causes behind disease-related deaths. The author examines top 15 reasons for premature deaths covering heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and more. He describes how making lifestyle and nutritional interventions can help us avoid medicinal and surgical approaches to elad healthier lives. Did you know that hibiscus tea works better than hypertensive drugs in fighting high blood pressure. Drinking coffee can ward off liver diseases and breast can be avoided by consuming soy. The writer makes a checklist of 12 food items consumed everyday to evade deadly ailments.

Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells and Lose Weight Permanently By David Ludwig

In this book, the author is ready with his tips on losing and controlling weight without starving. Eating lots of fat slows down the metabolism rate of body. Believing in the philosophy of ‘eat less, work more’, the program given down here targets the causes behind weight gain while prescribing a diet that reduces insulin levels of the body. This leads the fat cells to release the surplus calories back inside the body and the hunger eventually decreases, speeding metabolism and reducing weight.

Become a Fat- Burning Machine: The 12 Week Diet By Mike Berland

This one is among the best selling health and fitness books. It follows a doctor-approved procedure to eating and exercising to transform you from a fat storage device to becoming a fat-burning machine. The epic busts the myths that prevent you from achieving the fitness goals thus, changing the way you see yourself.

Visit the nearest bookstore for buying them to read. Otherwise, go to any online bookstore and add all of them to your wish list if you want an easier purchase.