Resistance training that targets the abdominal and lower back muscles builds a strong core to reduce lower back pain. Common exercises include lower back extensions, bridges, crunches, twists, and leg raises. Performing exercises on a stability ball or with pulley machines requires the use of stabilizing muscles for balance which also contributes to a strong core and healthy back.
Yoga for Flexibility
Yoga poses increase flexibility and strengthen core muscles. Research shows that regular yoga practice can reduce back pain in some people. Consider a gentle or restorative yoga class to get started. These classes have fewer poses and focus on improving flexibility and relaxation.
Correct Computer Workstation
A poorly designed workstation can cause incorrect posture that contributes to lower back pain. The U.S. Department of Labor offers advice on how to set-up your computer workstation.
Adjust your monitor so that the top is at or just below your eye level.
Sit so that your head and neck are in line with your torso and keep your shoulders relaxed.
Your elbows should be held close to your side, bent at 90 to 120 degrees, and supported by arm rests, if possible.
Adjust your seat height so that your wrists and hands are in line with your forearms when typing.
Choose a desk chair with lumbar support or roll up a towel and place it between your lower back and the back of the chair.
Keep your feet flat on the floor and consider using a foot riser so that your knees are at hip height.
Lifting heavy objects is a major cause of lower back pain, but using proper form can help reduce your risk of injury. Follow these tips for lifting with your knees and not with your back.
Stand close to the object with feet about hip distance apart.
Bend at the knees and the waist and grasp the object. You should be in a squatting position. Avoid bending only at the waist.
Avoid twisting or turning the body when you are carrying the load. Your feet should face the direction you plan to move with the object before you lift it.
Return the object using the same process. Bend your knees and lower to the ground. Try propping the object on your knee as you slowly slide it to the floor.
Always test the weight of an object before trying to lift it. If the object is too heavy, ask for help or use a dolly or cart.
Supportive Sleep Position
Your sleeping position can reduce the risk of lower back pain. The Mayo Clinic recommends using pillows to make sleep comfortable and safe for your back.
On your side - Pull your knees up to hip level and place a pillow between your knees. The pillow supports the top leg and prevents spine rotation.
On your back - Keep the natural curve of your spine by placing a pillow under the back of your knees and a small, rolled towel under your lower back.
On your stomach - Place the pillow under your hips and also rest your head on a pillow if it does not cause neck strain.
Check with your healthcare provider when you experience lower back pain. When choosing treatment and selecting the best steps to prevent future pain, it’s important to rule out serious causes such as slipped discs.
As a parent, you play the leading role in how your children relate to food and exercise. The following 5 tips will help you steer your children towards happy, healthy lifestyles.
Make sure that you are not revealing negative comments about yourself in front of your daughter or son. Many individuals who struggle with weight issues have a less than ideal body image and often repeat negative self-talk out loud. Standing in front of the mirror and saying that you hate something about your body will teach your children how they should think and feel about their bodies. Focus on positive attributes that you're proud of, both in yourself and in your children.
Be physically active
Integrate healthy activity into your day without making it feel like a chore. Children naturally like to run and play. Make an effort to play outside together on a daily basis. Go on treasure hunts for nature items around the neighborhood, ride bikes to the park, swim, and play freeze tag. Never bring up burning calories or exercising to lose weight. Instead, mention how good it feels to move your body, and have fun.
Learn what you should and shouldn’t control
Ellyn Satter, an author and expert on child feeding, has said parents should be responsible for the type of food that is presented to the child, and when and where it is offered. Children are responsible for whether or not they choose to eat it, and how much. Offering structured, healthy meals and snacks in a peaceful environment is ideal. Forcing your child to eat them is not. The goal is to develop an internal sense of conscious eating in your child.
Avoid the "good food, bad food" trap
Offer a large variety of food. Center your family’s eating habits on healthy items, but include treats and favorite foods in moderation. You are one of your children’s most important role models. By sitting down and enjoying a satisfying and nutritious meal together, you are shaping eating preferences in a positive way.
Don’t focus on weight loss
The goal for overweight children is to reduce weight gain as he or she grows and develops. If you feel your children need to lose weight, consult your doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that children and teens should not be put on a weight loss regimen without the consultation and supervision of a healthcare professional.
These grocery shopping tips will help you fill your kitchen with nutritious foods.
Choose a variety of colors and types of fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables (lettuce, kale), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes), berries, and citrus fruits are all nutrient-packed choices.
Select in-season produce as often as possible for the best flavor.
Pick up a few fresh herbs. Cilantro, mint, and parsley add flavor and nutrition to your meals.
Breads, Cereals, and Grains
Choose foods with "100% whole grain" listed on the label or in the ingredient list. Pasta, pita bread, and tortillas all come in great-tasting, whole grain varieties.
Locate a supermarket or health food store that sells cereals and grains in bulk bins. Buying from bulk bins allows you to try smaller amounts of different grains and flours for less money.
Canned and Dry Foods and Oils
Check the label for serving sizes and sodium content of all canned goods.
Choose "no-salt added" or "low-sodium" products whenever possible.
You can pick up plenty of protein in this section. Canned and dried beans, dry lentils, and canned tuna are protein-rich choices.
Choose bottled olive and nut oils over butter and margarine for cooking and flavoring your food. These oils contain heart-healthy, unsaturated fats.
Pay attention to serving sizes on food labels. Check the "serving per container" and "serving size amount." At first glance, the calorie content may seem acceptable until you find the serving size is very small.
Beware of foods labeled "non-fat" or "sugar-free." Sometimes these products contain more calories and are no better than the original version.
Choose whole grain and baked snacks instead of fried products.
Meats, Poultry, and Fish
The Mayo Clinic recommends round, chuck, sirloin, and tenderloin for the leanest beef choices. Also look for "Choice" or "Select" beef, which is often lower in fat than “Prime” beef. Choose pork from the tenderloin, loin chops, and leg.
Breast cuts are the leanest choices when it comes to poultry. Check the labels of ground poultry as many options contain both dark and white meat and have as much fat as beef.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program provides suggestions for low-mercury fish choices that are environmentally friendly. These include albacore tuna from the U.S. or British Columbia, farmed rainbow trout, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
Avoid deli and processed meats, which are high in sodium.
Buy skim or 1% dairy products rather than 2%, whole milk, or cream. The products with the lower fat percentages contain the same amounts of calcium, vitamins, and minerals as their higher fat counterparts.
Choose only 100% fruit juices without added sugars.
Pick plain or low-sugar vanilla yogurts and add your own toppings, such as fresh fruit or a small amount of honey. Compared to flavored yogurts, this approach will help reduce your added sugar intake.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables without added salt, seasonings, or sugar. When you add flavorings yourself during cooking, you can better control the nutritional content.
When you crave a frozen treat, look for frozen yogurts, ice milk, and sherbet, which have less saturated fat than ice cream.
The number on the scale is not the only thing that will change after adopting healthier habits. Below is a list of 10 positive changes that reflect the benefits of weight loss.
Improved mood and attitude. Research shows that losing weight can improve your mood and decrease symptoms of depression. Better nutrition, higher self-esteem, and the benefits of exercise all contribute to an improved outlook on life.
Breathing easy. When you carry excess weight, your body must work harder. Walking and household chores may have quickly left you out of breath in the past. As your cardiovascular system becomes conditioned through regular exercise and your body weight decreases, fewer of your normal activities will leave you breathless.
Your piggy bank is full. Weight loss can save you money. Cutting out expensive, high-calorie coffee drinks and afternoon visits to the vending machine result in extra financial savings. Clothing will cost you less as you move away from plus sizes. Your health care costs can be dramatically reduced due to a strengthened immune system and a decreased risk of disease, which results in fewer treatments and medications.
Less jiggle in your middle (and everywhere else). Your body can become more toned and smaller without the numbers ever changing on the scale. You may notice there is now firm muscle where soft fat tissue used to be. Pay attention to how your clothing fits. You may need to tighten a notch in your belt before you see drastic weight loss in numbers.
Healthier body fat percentage. As you lose weight and gain muscle, your body fat percentage will decrease. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a body fat percentage of 10-22% for men and 20-32% for women for a reduced risk of obesity-related disease. Have your body fat accessed by a fitness or health professional to determine if you are within a healthy range, and reassess in three to six months as you lose weight and gain muscle.
Slimming circumference. According to the National Institutes of Health, waist circumference is a key indicator for health risk. Waist circumferences should not exceed 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. Measure your waist circumference every few weeks to track your progress, but don’t stop there. Measure your thighs, upper arms, and chest as well. The circumference of these areas will decrease as you lose weight, and become more toned with muscle.
Canceled cravings. As you make eating healthier foods a habit, your tastes will change. Yes, you will always have a favorite indulgence, but over time you will become more selective on where you save and where you splurge calories. For example, you may splurge on chips or fries and not like how you feel afterward, which will reduce the likelihood that those cravings will creep up again.
You keep going and going. Not only does exercise give you energy to face your day-to-day life, but you will begin to notice your current routine getting easier and easier. This is because your body is becoming accustomed to the activity, and it needs to be challenged once again. Over time, you’ll find that you can exercise for longer periods and at higher intensity levels.
Positively painless. Extra weight adds stress to the lower back and knees that can result in pain. As the weight comes off, so does the stress on these parts of your body. You will notice that you can do more with less pain.
Sleeping like a baby. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep problems are common in overweight and obese adults. Research has shown that even as little as a 10% reduction in weight can improve sleep apnea in obese individuals. In addition, regular exercise improves sleep quality when performed at least three hours before bedtime. As you exercise more and lose weight, you will sleep better, and feel rested and energized in the morning.
MyFoodDiary can help you achieve these wonderful benefits and much more.
Not all types of dietary iron are created equally. Iron from a plant source is different than iron from an animal source, and the foods that you eat can influence how iron is absorbed by your body. By understanding more about this mineral and carefully selecting the foods you eat, you can improve iron intake and availability.
The availability of iron depends on its absorption rate. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
Overall, 10 – 15% of dietary iron is absorbed by healthy adults.
The body absorbs 15 – 35 % of heme iron (animal sources), and this is not significantly influenced by other nutrients in your diet.
The body absorbs 2 – 20% of non-heme iron (plant sources). This rate can be greatly influenced by other nutrients you eat.
Several food components can decrease your absorption of iron.
Tannins and polyphenols found in tea, coffee, and cocoa
Calcium found in dairy products and fortified foods
Phytates found in legumes and whole grains
There are ways to increase your iron absorption.
When non-heme iron (plant-based) is eaten with a source of heme iron (animals), this improves the absorption rate of the non-heme iron. According to the NIH, this will increase non-heme iron absorption up to three times.
Vitamin C and other organic acids in fruits and vegetables boost the absorption rate of non-heme iron, according to the American Dietetic Association. Adequate vitamin C intake is especially important for vegetarians who do not consume heme iron.
Tips for enhancing iron absorption
Carefully selecting food combinations and getting enough vitamin C are ways you can increase the amount of iron available for use in the body. Vitamin C can be lost due to heat from cooking and long storage so choose fresh, raw sources most often. Meat-eaters should focus on combining animal-based foods with plant sources of iron for improved absorption.
Sources for heme iron:
Chicken and beef livers
Beef – chuck, 85% lean ground, and top sirloin
Turkey and chicken, especially dark meat
Light tuna canned in water
Sources for non-heme iron:
Beans – kidney, lima, pinto, black, navy
Fermented soy-based foods such as firm tofu
Nuts and seeds
Ready-to-eat, iron-fortified cereal
Sources for vitamin C:
Creatively combining foods can increase the iron absorbed from what you eat. Here are a few ideas for iron-rich meals.
Eat an orange with your breakfast cereal each morning, or top your cereal with sliced strawberries.
Make a tuna salad using light canned tuna, kidney beans, a vegetable such as green onions or celery, and herbs such as parsley. Dress it with lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Choose lentils as a side dish for lean beef or poultry, or make a soup with lentils and shredded chicken or beef.
Top a fresh spinach salad with sliced bell peppers, red onions, strawberries, and a citrus vinaigrette.
Eat tofu with a fresh broccoli salad, or follow it up with melon or pineapple for dessert.
Iron plays a role in the production of proteins responsible for oxygen transport in the body, and it is involved in cell growth and development. Many factors influence dietary iron need, but the NIH recommends that men aged 19 and older, and women aged 51 and older, get 8 mg of iron per day. Women aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg per day.