Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy 1!

A year ago, there was an IDEA about a blog; a blog people would read and enjoy; a blog people would learn from; a blog that could touch and change lives through its tips for a healthier lifestyle.

So I started creating material; and with the help of a certain someone (you know yourself!), this material starting reaching you. Tweeps I had never met were sharing, retweeting, commenting and loving my posts. My facebook friends, some that I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time, were congratulating me on a “job well done”. My name was associated with that common sentence we all use: Point a la ligne!

And through my rough times, when I couldn’t write, when my blog was silent, I was asked about it. And this is more than I could hope to accomplish in this year!

Today, I’m hoping and planning for a better future for this little creation of mine. So stay here, check up on us from time to time and expect to be surprised!

Thank you all!


Monday, June 18, 2012

All there is to know about Kidney Stones!

All weekend, I had to watch a friend go through excruciating pain because of a silly stone in his urinary tract. It finally led to an operation. So, I thought that maybe it was time to talk about it! Although extremely painful, kidney stones are somewhat an easily preventable disease. So, what are they and what is the role of one’s diet?

Urine normally collects in the kidneys, flows to the ureter and continues to the bladder. Some substances found in urine (calcium, oxalate and sometimes uric acid) can crystallize and form stones. The small ones can go unnoticed; however, the large ones can block the ureter and become extremely painful. You can then either pee the stone out after medical treatment of course or it will require an operation.

There are several types of kidney stones:
Calcium oxalate stones: They are the most common. They form when urine is acidic. Dietary calcium and oxalate may play a role in their formation but not exclusively.
Calcium phosphate stones: They are less common. They form when the urine is alkaline.
Uric acid stones: They are more likely to form when the urine is persistently acidic, which may result from a diet rich in animal proteins and purine substances found naturally in all food but especially in organ meats, fish, and shellfish.
Struvite stones: They result from infections in the kidney. Preventing struvite stones depends on staying infection free. Diet has not been shown to affect struvite stone formation.
Cystine stones: result from a rare genetic disorder that causes cystine-an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein—to leak through the kidneys and into the urine to form crystals.

Many factors influence kidney stone formation. They include gender (sorry boys but you have a higher risk of stone formation!), genetics, environment, weight, fluid intake and of course diet. As you have probably realized, there are factors we don’t have any control over such as gender, genetics and environment and other we can definitely change: weight, fluid intake and diet.

1.     Weight

Overweight people seem to be more at risk of forming kidney stone. Thus, it is important to maintain a healthy diet in order to stay on the safe side.

    2.     Fluid intake

Water, water, water and more water! Our dear H2O can prevent the formation of all types of kidney stones. We normally should drink around 2 liters a day. But of course, that amount should be increased in a hot weather and according to physical activity.

Some studies suggest that citrus juices may decrease the risk of calcium oxalate and uric acid stone formation. Nothing confirmed yet; however, there’s nothing wrong about a cold lemonade on a hot sunny day!

It seems that grapefruit juice, dark sodas and cranberry juice can increase the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. So, it’d be better to keep your distance!

      3.     Diet

It is very important to know what type of kidney stone you have in order to prevent it with the appropriate diet.

Get enough of…

- Calcium: weirdly enough, people who are at risk of calcium oxalate stone formation should consume 800 mg of calcium a day. Why? Well, calcium binds with oxalate in the digestive tract, preventing it from being excreted into the urine.
- Fibers: go for whole grains, vegetables, legumes, etc.

Get less of…

- Salt: it increases calcium excretion thus the risk of stone formation
- Animal products in case of uric acid stone formation because they increase excretion of uric acid in the urine. Non dairy animal products increase the excretion of calcium thus the risk of calcium stones.
- Oxalate: most of the oxalate in the urine is produced by the body. However, consuming foods rich in oxalate can increase the risk of stones. Reduce your consumption of dark green vegetables such as spinach, nuts and chocolate.
- Alcohol: It may promote purine production in the body. It is important not to drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day. And this doesn’t mean you can save them all for the weekend!

Preventing stones is much more fun than curing them! So act now. And if you have any inquiries, ask your doctor or your dietitian!


Monday, June 11, 2012

5 ways to stay fit while on vacation!

It is that time of year when you allow yourself to let go, break free from your life, your worries and your troubles.

It is that time of year when you forget who you are, what you do and you just relax!

But it is also that time of year when you fear that all your efforts in losing or maintaining your weight will go to waste.

Well, not anymore! Because here are a few smart tips that will help you stay fit during your vacation.

1. Always be prepared
When planning a trip, you usually book the ticket, the hotel and the tours. You google potential sightseeing areas, night clubs and good restaurants. Well, this time, you should add to this to-do list extensive research concerning the food habits of the country you’re visiting. You should know in advance what you are going to face on your vacation. That way, there will be no surprising super fatty foods or even dull, tasteless ones.

You can also intensify your physical activity the month prior to your vacation. That way you will give yourself a margin of liberty during the trip.

Finally, head to the supermarket and stock up on healthy snacks such as cereals or cereal bars, light cookies and crackers, etc.

2. Balance and moderation
These are two key words to surviving a vacation.

-     Balance heavy meals with lighter ones. So, if you know you’re going to dinner at that super delicious restaurant everyone was telling you about, have a light lunch. And if you know that you are going to try that gelato after lunch, you don’t need to finish your entire pizza.

-     Make smart choices at restaurants: read the menu, the ingredients in particular, and evaluate whether it is the right moment to have that dish. In fact, choose one specialty a day and another low fat meal.

-     Some people, for economic and health purposes, choose to have 2 large meals a day: breakfast and late afternoon. This is not entirely wrong. In fact, it is acceptable as long as you’re packing healthy snacks for those hunger moments. Having several meals a day, as small as they are, will help you keep a high metabolism.
-     Exercise portion control: eat everything but in small quantities. You can always share your food with a friend especially when the portions are very big.

3. Physical activity is a must
Don’t worry, I’m definitely not using the word GYM here! However, there are easier and more fun ways to exercise while on vacation:

-     Walking: exploring the city on foot is so much nicer than just taking a cab. In fact, you can ban yourself from using taxis unless you’re going to a very far area. In Monaco, you can walk all the way to the castle without taking the bus!

-     Use the stairs: walk the stairs of Montmartre twice. That way you will enjoy it twice and exercise more!
-     Biking: Rent a bike in Amsterdam and explore the city while training your muscles!
-     Swimming: Enjoy a great swim wherever you are. Even in rainy regions, there is something called the INDOOR POOL!!

-     Beach activities: Go for some beach volleyball, palette or rollers when in Thailand, Florida, Cyprus, etc.
-     Dance till you can’t feel your feet! And that you can do anywhere in the world!

4. Watch your alcohol
You are definitely going on a vacation to have a blast. So do that, but do it responsibly and cut down on your alcohol intake for safety and health reasons.

5. Enjoy your trip
As we previously mentioned, this is a time to relax. You can’t constantly think about what you’re eating, the calories, whether you’re gaining weight or losing some, etc. Have a little control over what you’re eating but don’t forget to try absolutely everything!

It only needs a little organization for you to enjoy your vacation and not worry about food and weight all the time! So bon voyage and please get me a snow globe with you ;)