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Many people have been trying to cut the extra salt out of their diet for years, unsuccessfully. Fortunately, experts are now saying that the best way to cut the salt is to add the spice – hot spice that is!

A recent study shows that adding capsaicin – the spicy ingredient in chili peppers – can help to reduce your sodium intake.

During the study, researchers looked at the “brain scans of more than 600 people and discovered that the areas that responded to spicy and salty foods overlap—and eating spicy foods reduces salt cravings.”

Related information was just released that capsaicin is also a vasodilator—which helps lower blood pressure.

But experts say that you do not have to just eat hot peppers to reap the benefits of capsaicin. The blood pressure-lowering ingredient is found in many spices, like ground pepper, cayenne and paprika.

The study shows that “anyone with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or kidney problems should limit their sodium consumption to 1,500 mg daily.” If you have salt-sensitive high blood pressure, excess sodium is deadly. For those without these conditions, you should aim for around 2,300 mg of sodium daily.

Substituting peppers for salt in your dishes can help you cut back on sodium while infusing your food with delicious flavor… and spice!

It is 2021 and mostly everyone has a smart phone nowadays. There are so many apps and programs that you can now download to your phone to help you reach your fitness and health goals. 

While this seems like an easy thing to do – just download an app – there is much more involved in getting the most out of your smart phone to become healthier. 

Here are five ways that your smart phone can make you healthier. 

  1. Set up healthy appointments on your phone. Use the remind or alarm function on your phone to help you set healthy reminders – like take your medication, get to spin class, go to bed early and take the stairs and not the elevator on your lunch break.
  2. Use your timer. We have learned since we were little that we should brush our teeth for 2 minutes, but do you? Use your timer to achieve these types of goals. You can use your timer to figure out how long tasks take so that you can also better prioritize your time, causing less stress.
  3. Track your progress. Sure, you downloaded that fitness tracker on your phone, but are you using it? Commit to a particular app and actually use it. Basic features include tracking your steps, counting your calories, and helping you to get a handle on your blood pressure.
  4. Eat Healthy. There are quite a few apps that you can download that can help you to be a better label reader and track your food intake.
  5. Motivate yourself. Customize your alarms to give you that gentle nudge that you need to motivate yourself. A “Get to the gym if you want to fit in that dress” message alarm is more motivating than a beeping alarm.
  • Besides containing 40 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, it also contains 15 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, 8 percent of your daily value of potassium, and 7 percent of your recommended dietary allowance of iron for women and 10 percent for men.
  • Lycopene, what gives tomatoes their red pigment, acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that can damage cells in the body.
  • Studies show that men who at least eat 10 servings of tomatoes a week can reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer by a whopping 45 percent.

Recipe: Tomato Casserole with Sweet Onions

6 medium tomatoes, peeled, cored and cut into wedges

1 large Vidalia onion or other sweet onion

1 teaspoon fresh dill, or scant ½ teaspoon dried dillweed

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or scant ½ teaspoon dried leaf thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil 

Place peeled tomato wedges on paper towels to drain.  Peel onions and slice into ¼-inch rings.  In separate bowl combine dill, thyme, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs.  Layer half of the tomatoes and onions in a lightly buttered baking dish and top with half of the minced garlic.  Sprinkle with half of the bread crumb and seasoning mixture, half of mozzarella cheese, and drizzle with half olive oil.  Repeat layers.  Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until bubbly.

Recipe: Corn and Black Bean Salsa

3 to 4 small ears of corn

1 can (15 to 16 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly

1 large tomato, seeds removed, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

¼ cup minced red onion

2 to 3 tablespoons finely minced jalapeno or poblano pepper

Juice of one lime, about 3 tablespoons

3 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro

Dash salt and pepper, to taste 

Grill or broil corn to char slightly; let cool.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Cut corn from cobs and add to the mixture.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving time. 

Great alternative to sauces, and is especially tasty on grilled fish, chicken or pork!

It’s a sign of the times that more people are using computers, ipads, and other electronic devices for large amounts of their day. And while these devices have made our lives easier and more convenient in many ways, they have also done a number on our eyes.

 

There is even now a diagnosed disorder for the chronic eyestrain caused by looking at a screen too much – Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS. 

Symptoms of CVS include dry and burning eyes, aching back, neck, shoulders or head, and blurry vision. 

Here are some ways that you can avoid eye strain and prevent CVS from getting to you. 

  • “Take a break.” Every 15 minutes take an eye break from your screen. Look from side to side, then gaze into the distance. Roll your shoulders while you are taking your eye break to stretch out your neck, too.
  • “Look down, not up.” Tilt your screen (if you can) downwards so that it is 4-8 inches below your eye level.
  • “Stand up.” Take a 10-minute bathroom break – even if you don’t have to go – at least every 2 hours. Walk around, back and forth, letting your eyes idle. Avoid looking your phone during this idle break and let your eyes wander. Do anything except something that requires intense eye focusing. 
  • “Use Eye Drops.” People tend to blink less when they are staring at a screen which results in dry eyes. Keep eye drops nearby and squeeze in some artificial tears when necessary. 
  • “Check your glasses.” People wear glasses for reading and for seeing things far away, but most glasses are not intended for reading type on a computer screen that is 20 inches away from you. Consult an optometrist about getting a pair of computer glasses.

Being physically active is a good idea for everyone, but it is especially important for people with diabetes. According to experts with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “being active makes your body more sensitive to insulin which helps manage your diabetes.”

Other additional benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, losing weight, sleeping better, improving your memory, lowering your blood pressure, and feeling happier.

For those that suffer from diabetes, experts say that the goal is to get approximately 150 minutes of exercise each week. One way to do this is to get about 20-25 minutes of exercise each day, including about 2 days of a full-body workout – or using as many body parts as possible that you can during your workout.

Some great ways to get your 20-25 minutes per day include:

  • Walking briskly
  • Doing housework
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Playing a sport
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Dancing 

All these activities work your larger muscles, increase your heart rate, and make you breathe harder which are all good for you and important goals for fitness.

As with any exercise program, be sure to consult your doctor before starting physical activity. Your doctor can also steer you towards activities that are the best for you.