Tag Archive for: healthy living

Health Benefits of Antioxidants

Benefits of Antioxidants from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What’s the deal with antioxidants? Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body against diseases related to damage to tissues and cells from highly reactive substances. Watch now.

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Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit the oxidation of other substances by stabilizing and neutralizing free radicals. Low levels of free radicals in the body are normal and can be beneficial. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolic reactions in the body and play a vital role in our immune system function. However, too many free radicals can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can destroy cell membranes, proteins, RNA, and DNA, and thereby contribute to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Antioxidants can play an important role in mitigating these potential chronic diseases. Here are a few antioxidants and their health promoting benefits: Vitamin C found in citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables protects DNA, RNA, and cell membranes. Vitamin E found in sunflower seeds and almonds protects cellular membranes. Carotenoids, a phytochemical found in pumpkin and carrots act as a free radical scavenger. Vitamin A found in leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, in the precursor form of beta carotene, protects cellular membranes and reduces inflammation. Selenium is an essential trace mineral and powerful antioxidant that helps to regenerate other antioxidants, including vitamin C. 

It is apparent that the benefits of antioxidants work in combination with each other along with phytochemicals and micronutrients in food to protect the body against oxidative stress from free radicals. The benefits of eating antioxidant-rich foods come from the entire package of nutrients in whole foods, a combination that can’t be replicated in a supplement. Therefore, eating a diet rich in antioxidant-containing foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide you with the health promoting benefits that antioxidants offer.

Thanks for joining this Patient Empowerment Network program. Please remember to ask your healthcare team what may be right for you.

Meditation on Peace

Meditation on Peace from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Learn about taking in the good by attending to the qualitative state of PEACE and making it a more available inner resource. Watch now.

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Greetings everyone. Thank you for joining this Patient Empowerment Network program. In this practice session we will be focusing our attention on positive states of mind that support wellbeing.

The mind can be looked at like a garden. In this practice session we will be planting seeds in the garden of our minds by focusing our attention on positive states of mind. These mental states become inner resources that are more accessible to us in our daily experiences. So, for this particular practice session we will be planting the seeds of Peace.

To start our practice, find a comfortable seat. A chair is perfectly fine. And make any arrangements to support your back if necessary. Allow your eyes to softly close if you feel comfortable doing so. Feeling into the weight of your body being supported by your seat. Bring to mind an experience of Peace. Recalling any experience that brings to mind Peace. Something that has soothed your spirit. Feel into the Peace of the experience. So, you want to tap into the Peace, the feeling of Peace. And letting go of the story about the experience and focus on the feeling of Peace. Maintaining your attention on Peace to best of your ability. If the mind wonders about, gently come back to the feeling of Peace. Without fighting your mind gently come back to the feeling of Peace. Opening yourself to this Peace. Allowing it to fill your mind. Noticing this feeling of Peace. Feeling into it like it’s your first time. Taking it all in. Receiving the Peace. Giving yourself over to it. Allowing it to become a part of who you are. A part of your being. This Peace. This feeling of Peace. Notice what is pleasant about this experience of Peace. Feeling the presence of Peace. Unbounded Peace. Exhaling all your breath out and taking in a full inhalation and exhaling with a soft ah… Gently open your eyes.

We hope you enjoyed this Patient Empowerment Network program.

Benefits of Minerals

Benefits of Minerals from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Minerals are very important elements required in small amounts in the diet that are used in the body to promote various functions and to help form body structures. Watch now.

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Similar to vitamins, minerals are micronutrients that are essential to human health and can be obtained in our diet from different types of food.  

Minerals are inorganic elements from the Earth. Plants extract minerals from the soil they grow in and we humans obtain minerals directly from eating those plants, as well as indirectly from eating animal foods. We also get minerals from the water we drink.

Minerals are classified as either major minerals or trace minerals, depending on the amount needed in the body. Major minerals include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur. Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium help in the building and maintenance of healthy bones. Sulfur contributes to the health of skin, tendons, and ligaments. Sodium, potassium and chloride are important electrolytes that help maintain fluid balance. Sodium and potassium are also important for nervous system function. Trace minerals include iron, copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, fluoride, manganese, and molybdenum. Iron is required for red blood cell function and therefore oxygen delivery. Copper is important for iron absorption and the production of red blood cells. Zinc is required for healing damaged tissue and supporting a healthy immune system. Selenium and iodine are essential for thyroid function. Selenium is also a powerful antioxidant. Fluoride is protective against tooth decay.

While deficiencies are possible with minerals, consuming a varied diet significantly improves an individual’s ability to meet their nutrient needs to maintain health and wellbeing. 

Thanks for joining this Patient Empowerment Network program. Please remember to ask your healthcare team what may be right for you.

Exercising After Breast Cancer: Myths vs. Facts

The benefits of physical activity for people who have undergone treatment for breast cancer are numerous, from reducing fatigue to helping regain a sense of well-being. However, as with diet recommendations, it can be confusing when it comes to how much exercise to take and the type of exercise that is safe during and after treatment.

Recently, I spoke with Cathy Leman, a registered dietitian, nutrition therapist, personal trainer, and survivor of hormone-positive breast cancer. Cathy shared many helpful tips and strategies for those who may be unsure where to start with an exercise routine after a diagnosis of breast cancer.


What are some of the myths associated with exercise and breast cancer? When I had my surgery, I thought I shouldn’t lift anything heavy, such as weights.  And that rest is the best way to heal. Are these beliefs true?


The two thoughts you had are very common! Immediately post-surgery, there definitely are weight limitations in place, yet once your doctor removes exercise restrictions, and gives clearance, there are no limits (other than an individual’s physical ability) on how heavy one can lift. Exercise also helps restore mobility and range of motion after surgery, and there is research identifying exercise as a way to support healing. By the way, it’s important to ALWAYS get your doctor’s approval to add or increase exercise post-surgery.


That’s wonderful to hear, Cathy.  Let’s talk about the benefits of exercising now that we have been cleared to start.


There are so many! Increased range of motion and improved mobility, reduction in fatigue, improvement in strength and stamina, and stress and anxiety management.


What would you suggest to someone who feels intimidated by the current exercise guidelines, which recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week? You may feel exhausted from cancer treatment and this can seem like an overwhelming task.


150 minutes per week translates to ~ 21 minutes per day. I recommend breaking that down even further, for example, 10 minutes of activity in the a.m. and 10 minutes of activity in the evening. Start small, with easy stretches and a walk around the block.


I really like the idea of breaking exercise down into manageable chunks this way.  Okay, let’s move on to where and how to exercise. Gym visits may not be an option for everyone, especially because many of us are still cautious about being in public spaces due to Covid. How can we replicate some of the traditional gym exercises at home?


Body weight exercises like squats, lunges, modified push-ups and planks are great for building overall body strength. Walking or running outdoors offers great cardiovascular benefits. During inclement weather, dancing, walking up and down stairs, and using online in-home workouts are ways to keep moving, even without visiting the gym.


Thanks Cathy for taking the time to talk to us about exercising in ways that are achievable and beneficial, and dispelling some of the common myths around exercise and breast cancer.

About Cathy Leman

Cathy is the founder of HEALTH REBUILD 365, a program that helps post-treatment survivors of hormone-positive breast cancer end food fear, stress, anxiety and guilt, and make confident diet decisions that minimize fear of recurrence.

She also writes the dam. mad. About BREAST CANCER blog, and speaks to groups and organizations about the power of nutrition and lifestyle to optimize survivor health.

www.cathyleman.com IG; @hormone.breastcancer.dietitian

Committing to Eating Healthier Can Lead to Savings in Your Pocket Both Now and in the Future

Have you ever eaten something that you really love but for some reason it doesn’t seem to like you back? I have. For instance, ice cream used to be my favorite desert. But sometime in my 30’s, ice cream started making me feel ill. And because of that, no matter how much I wanted it, I began to lose interest. I also started feeling better. The older I became, the more I realized that most foods containing sugar were making me feel sluggish along with some other no so pleasant symptoms. Additionally, bread became my enemy. Now I have to admit this was particularly hard. I absolutely love some hot crusty bread with pure Irish butter. Yum!!

Now I have more energy, sleep better, and have better focus as a result changing my eating habits. Another real surprise, I no longer had the body aches and joint pain I once suffered. Upon research, I found that sugar and carbs can cause inflammation. So, I also started reading labels. There is sugar in almost everything, including seasonings, ketchup, milk, breads, and so much more. And did you know that a lot of the foods you buy from restaurants are loaded with sugars and salts? To offset too much salt in a dish, sugar is added. And vice versa. So, I’ve begun to eat a lot more vegetables, and whole grains such as whole wheat, and quinoa, as well as nuts and fruit. Doing so also allowed me to explore other herbs and seasonings to add flavor. Also, being more mindful about what I ate made me think about the amount of red meat I was eating and how much I was eating out. Suffice it to say, way too much! I kept a journal of what I was spending eating out and found it added up to over $400.00/ month.

I surmised that a lot of people were in the same boat. And that this was as a country are making us obese, diabetic, have heart attacks and strokes, perhaps making us more prone to cancers, and migraines and neurological problems and learning problems and the list goes on and on. So, how does this relate to saving money? Well. Now that I’m more conscious of what I’m eating, I cook more often with better choices of food. I lean toward organic now and am limiting the amount of red meat. I am learning to shop more from the periphery of the store. In the summer, farmer’s markets are the way to go. I even have a small potted garden, which is so easy to maintain with fresh herbs, and some vegetables. These illnesses are making us less productive and we are taking more sick days from work than we probably used to take. And we are going to the doctors more often than we used to. Spending more on co-pays, deductibles and other out of pocket costs. Now that extra money saved on eating out can be directed to other needs such as medical treatment costs or other expenses or savings programs.

Now I’m teaching my 5-year-old granddaughter how to cook, raise a garden and especially understand nutrition and how to read labels. With the cost of healthcare going up more than inflation every year, I can’t imagine what the cost burden will be for her when she is an adult. In fact, in 2019, according to the OECD Health Statistics database and the CMS National Health Expenditure Accounts data, the US spends more per capita than any other comparable country on health care and related expenses. In 2019 that was $10,966 with comparable countries averaging $6,697.

That was an astounding 17% of the US GDP! And unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we as a country are healthier. So hopefully, educating my granddaughter now, when she is young, will lead to a heathier lifestyle for her and reduce her costs of healthcare. So, if I can get heathier now, perhaps it can help keep me out of the doctor’s office and also save me money.

I shudder to think of all of the money I’ve wasted over the years buying meals that perhaps satisfied my immediate taste but all along was contributing to poorer health. In hindsight, that money could have been put to better use elsewhere. I could have felt better for most of my life if I had paid more attention to what I was eating, and my savings account could be bigger as well. I still occasionally eat out and enjoy the rare ice cream as well as the bread with butter. I’m not a nutritionist, I am a financial advisor, and financial coach. I just know that as a result of my personal experiences, and after 20+years working with my financial clients, many of those who have become more mindful of even just their eating out habits, have drastically improved their health and their financial lives.

5 Simple Habits To Promote A Healthier Lifestyle

We all know that life can throw us some curveballs…so one of the biggest questions many people have is, how do we maintain a healthy lifestyle while juggling everything else happening on a daily basis? The best answer is to form simple habits to incorporate into your everyday routine. This way you don’t have to worry about adding anything else to your day or changing your lifestyle — think of it this way… we’ll work smarter, not harder! Below, are 5 simple, and easy habits to form in order to promote a healthier lifestyle!

1. Create A Healthy Working Space

We spend hours a day working to benefit our careers or carry out a customers’ needs, but often times overlook our own personal needs. If you’re going to be glued to an office space or work computer, make it benefit not only your career goals, but your health goals too! Try adding a standing desk to your office, or swap out those pop-able munchies for a stash of healthy office snacks.

2. Drink Water With Every Meal

One of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet is to drink more water! Our bodies need and crave water to carry out basic functions throughout the day, and upping your water intake will result in numerous health benefits. From improving your hair and skin, to maintaining a healthy blood pressure and even losing weight, your body will surely thank you! Try replacing your go-to beverage with water during mealtimes and after just a few weeks you’ll be shocked at the results!

3. Sleep 7 – 9 Hours Each Night

Whether it’s stress, maintaining your social life, grief, or staying up to watch your latest Netflix binge, it’s very easy for life to get in the way of healthy sleeping patterns. However, giving your body a break and making consistent sleep (7- 9 hours each night) a priority is a MUST. A solution could be as easy as finding the best mattress to compliment your sleeping habits, or using natural remedies like meditation to relax before bed. Another tip for those having trouble sleeping, is to keep a strict sleeping schedule: Wake up and go to bed around the same time every night. That way, your body becomes used to this routine, and prepares you for sleep at the same time each night.

4. Drink Green Tea

Have you been searching for the fountain of youth? Well here’s a secret. One exists. In the form of Green Tea. Other than water, it’s the healthiest beverage out there. It’s packed with antioxidants that improve brain function, regulate metabolism, and ultimately keeps your body looking and feeling young! Bonus: Green Tea contains some caffeine, so instead of loading up on 4 cups of coffee to get you through the day, try replacing one or two cups with Green Tea.

5. Turn TV Time Into Exercise Time

Imagine this. You’re working late, you have to make dinner for your family, AND make sure you tune into Monday Night’s episode of The Bachelor before bed. Unfortunately, you didn’t have time to workout. Or so you thought… Here are a few simple workouts that you can perform in small spaces, such as your living room or bedroom during TV time and/or commercial breaks!

Self-Care During Illness: 
Tips for Cancer Survivors

Self-care is essential for all of us; it’s something that allows you to take a mental health break while also making sure your body is in good shape. After a period of stress or anxiety, you need a little time to heal and get yourself back to a good place. This is especially true for cancer survivors, who battle stress, physical pain, anxiety, depression, and worry every day. Cancer comes in many different forms and affects the body and mind in different ways, meaning no two people will handle it the same way. What works for you when it comes to coping may not work for someone else, and vice versa.

Fortunately, there are many different ways you can learn to cope with your feelings and take a time-out. From daily exercise to learning to listen to your body’s cues, self-care involves a variety of activities for you to choose from. You may choose to practice self-care alone or with a close friend; you can do it from the comfort of your own home or at the gym. Whatever makes you feel good in a healthy way is classified as self-care.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to practice self-care as a cancer survivor.

Take Your Medication as Directed

Most cancer survivors need medication to help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms that will make daily life a little easier. Some take several different medications every day, and it’s imperative to keep track of these and make sure you’re taking them correctly. You might use an app on your phone to help you remember what time you need to take specific pills, or invest in a sorter that will keep all your medicines measured out for each day.

If you feel that the dosage on a medication isn’t right, talk to your doctor immediately rather than attempting to change the dosage yourself or discontinuing use. Because many of these can be habit-forming, using them correctly is important not just in maintaining your health, but because opioids can be highly addictive and can cause many more issues than they treat if used incorrectly.

If you’re concerned about using prescription medication like opioids to treat your pain and nausea, it’s worth talking to your doctor about the option of CBD. It’s a natural, non-narcotic and non-hallucinogenic treatment that provides relief for many of cancer’s most troubling side effects, such as muscle pain, nausea and anxiety. As with any treatment, be sure to consult your physician before giving it a try.

Eat Well

Sometimes, medication or chemotherapy can interfere with appetite, making it extra important to make sure you’re eating well when you are hungry. Try to eat small snacks throughout the day made up of whole, unprocessed foods, and remember to stay hydrated. Talk to your doctor about the best foods for your body’s needs, and consider hitting up the farmers market for fresh produce as often as you can.

Make Your Needs a Priority

Many individuals who are faced with a battle against cancer find that they are so focused on the people around them that they rarely take time out for their own needs. You may be worried about how your family will pay for treatment or how your illness is affecting your children. While these are valid concerns, one of the best ways to help ease your mind is to take a little time for yourself. Go for a short hike, sit down with a good book, or lie in bed and listen to your favorite music. Learning how to slow down and reset your mind isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.

Try Something New

As long as you have the energy for it, now is the perfect time to try something new. Finding something that is enjoyable and allows you to shake off worry or anxiety for a while is a great way to take care of yourself. Whether you want to learn a new language or travel to a place you’ve never been, don’t put it off. Just make sure your health won’t be affected negatively, and talk to your doctor before making any major plans.

Taking care of yourself can be a big job, so remember that there are only so many things you can do in a day. You might try yoga and meditation during this time to learn how to practice mindfulness and focus on the present; this can help you cope with stress in the moment so that you can turn your mind to more important things.