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Archive for September 5, 2011

7 Tips For Eating to Look Younger That Actually Work

7 Tips For Eating to Look Younger That Actually Work

 

The day I turned 25 years old I headed straight to thestore and bought loads of different ultra pricey skin creams. I was sure this would keep me wrinkle-free. By 30 my tone had changed. I began to realize that while I still wanted to look young and vibrant, youth came from the inside. The foods you eat show through your skin. They’re what end up keeping you looking young or not so much. After all, your food is your medicine, three times a day, everyday.

As you already knew it’s loads of fruits and vegetables as well as other whole foods that end up doing the trick. If you’re concerned with aging gracefully, start where it matters, in your diet. Here are seven foods that will keep you looking younger longer.

1. Avocado and Other Good Fats

Avocado has a lot of things going for it not the least of which is its fat content. You’ll notice that as you age those with little flesh on the body, especially in the face, begin to age faster. A little flesh keeps us looking younger. Bathe yourself in good fats like olive oil and avocado. If you’re concerned with cutting the fat, focus on the bad fats like lard and excessive amounts of butter.

2. Water-Based Fruits and Vegetables

Hydration is a big part of looking young because it helps that skin retain moisture. When the skin is dehydrated it lays flatter on the body and wrinkles begin to show. This means not only drinking loads of water, but also making sure that you’re loading up on water heavy fruits and vegetables. Some really good choices include watermelon, cucumber, and citrus fruits.

Image Credit: mckaysavage via Flickr.

3. Guava

Guava is great for your skin because it’s loaded with vitamin C. According to the Dr. Oz Show, it has 4 times as much as citrus fruits. Vitamin C serves as the body’s natural Botox, keeping your skin cells full and wrinkle-free.

4. Oysters

Depending on type and variety oyster, they provide 16 to 182 mg of zinc per 100g serving, according to Healthalicious. This accounts for 110 to 1200 percent of the RDA for zinc. Zinc serves to repair damage done to skin cells. So if you spent too much time out in the sun as a child and caused problems for your skin, zinc can prepare it.

6. Seasonal Berries

Berries are among the highest is antioxidant content. Berries like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries have some of the highest antioxidant capacity. These antioxidants fight the free radicals that cause wrinkling on the skin.

7. Omega Fatty Acids Oil

“Essential fatty acids are responsible for healthy cell membranes, which is not only what act as barriers to harmful things but also as the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell,” Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, a nutritionist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston told WebMd.

Omega 3 is made up of three acids EPA, DHA, and ALA. ALA can be found in hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. DHA and EPA are found in algae, spirulina, blue-green algae, and chlorella. Omega 6′s are found in many vegetarian foods including olive oil, whole grains, and avocados.

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

5 Ways to Fight Inflammation

5 Ways to Fight Inflammation

Some aging factors are beyond our control, but one of the biggest – inflammation – needn’t be. Here’s how you can extinguish the flames of chronic inflammation before they ignite.

What is Inflammation?
Under ordinary circumstances, inflammation is a healthy process that comes to the body’s aid when it’s injured. For instance, if you cut your finger while making dinner, the body’s inflammatory response sends in an army of white blood cells to the scene.

Unfortunately, inflammation isn’t always so exact. Like a houseguest who overstays his welcome, inflammation sometimes hangs around too long and refuses to leave. Aging is one of the biggest risk factors for inflammation, since, as we age, our bodies are less able to disarm the inflammatory process. A genetic predisposition, high blood pressure or even smoking can also fuel the flames. When the inflammation switch refuses to turn off, the body operates as if it is always under attack. White blood cells flood the system for weeks, months and even years.

The problem is that the immune system can’t handle the constant demand. When the immune system becomes drained, the body then has difficulty warding off other illnesses. For instance, viruses, bacterial infections, even cancer cells that are normally destroyed by a healthy immune system can now slip under the body’s radar. Ultimately, the immune system may even turn against the body itself – the consequences of which are quite serious: Lupus, Graves’ disease, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia are all autoimmune disorders that come about when the body is assaulted by its own defenses. Scientists have known about autoimmune diseases for years, but now a new theory paints an even broader picture of how chronic inflammation helps other killers gain footholds.

Cancer Connection
Some forms of cancer can also be attributed to inflammation gone awry. Recent research indicates that inflammation plays either a leading or supporting role in many of the most common types of cancer – colon, stomach, lung and breast. Chronic inflammation wreaks havoc in the body by creating an ideal environment for free radicals, rogue molecules that travel through the body leaving a path of destruction in their wake. If a healthy cell’s DNA is damaged by free radicals, it may mutate. As it continues to grow and divide, it may set the stage for a cancerous tumor. Free radicals stimulate inflammation and thereby perpetuate the inflammatory cycle.

Chronic inflammation alone won’t always spark cancer, but left untreated it may create a more hospitable place for cancer cells to thrive, according to Dave Grotto, director of nutrition education at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Chicago.

The good news: Unlike many uncontrollable risk factors for serious illness, such as family history of heart disease or living in a polluted city, chronic inflammation is something you can control and even prevent through diet and exercise. Here’s a closer look at how both can influence inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Eating
Most foods either rev up inflammation or tamp it down. A diet high in trans-fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugar drives the body to create inflammatory chemicals. On the flip side, a diet heavy on vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids puts the brakes on the inflammatory process.

If you have an inflammation-related illness, such as atherosclerosis or arthritis, altering your eating habits may help you tame your symptoms, or even change the course of the disease. And if your genes or a sedentary lifestyle put you at risk for chronic inflammation, eating right may make the difference between staying healthy or drifting downhill.

1. GET FRIENDLY WITH FISH: Fish overflows with two key omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA for short). Both are potent anti-inflammatories. Studies show that people who eat fish regularly are less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke, or develop Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, studies have shown that eating omega-3-rich fish just once a week may lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 60 percent.

To reap fish’s health perks, nutritional experts recommend indulging in a fish dish at least twice a week (baked or broiled, not fried). To get the most omega-3 fatty acids, stick to either fresh or frozen coldwater fish, including mackerel, salmon and tuna. Avoid oil-packed tuna, since the omega-3s tend to leach into surrounding oil.

You also need to watch out for fish that may contain toxins, especially if you’re in a high-risk category. Women who are either pregnant or hoping to be should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, all of which may hold potentially dangerous levels of mercury, which can damage a developing fetus. (Nursing mothers and young children also should avoid these fish.) Studies have shown that some albacore tuna (often packaged as canned white tuna) has unsafe mercury levels. This past March, the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency published a joint statement recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna each week, or approximately one serving.

There are options for vegetarians, too. The body can make its own EPA and DHA from omega-3 fats (called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), which are found in flaxseed, wheat germ and walnuts (as well as some oils). But you’d better be hungry. The body’s mechanism for converting plant-based omega-3s isn’t particularly effective. You’ll need to eat four times as much ALA to equal the amount of bioavailable omega-3s found in a 3-ounce serving of fish.

Although flaxseed is often touted as an equal substitute to fish oil, it just can’t compete, says Jim LaValle, a naturopathic physician at the Longer Living Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, and author of The Cox-2 Connection (Healing Arts Press, 2001). Vegetarians concerned about inflammation should consider fish-oil supplements. If fish oil is out of the question, focus instead on lowering intake of bad fats and ingesting more good fats, including extra virgin olive oil, wheat germ oil, hemp oil and flaxseed oil.

2. CHOOSE FATS WISELY: The body uses fatty acids to make prostaglandins, the main hormones that control inflammation. Because the body must make do with what’s at hand, a diet heavy in pro-inflammatory fats will fan inflammation. Conversely, meals that balance pro- and anti-inflammatory fats cool things off. Fats to avoid include safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and all partially hydrogenated oil. Fats that get a green light are fatty coldwater fish, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts and flax (plus those listed above).

Begin tackling fat by cutting out the worst offender: trans-fatty acids. “If your diet is rich in trans-fatty acids, you’re going to drive your body to make more inflammatory chemicals,” says LaValle. The top sources for trans-fatty acids are vegetable shortenings and hard margarines, but most processed foods also contain them in various levels. Soon, trans-fatty acids will be easier to spot, thanks to new legislation requiring food makers to add trans-fatty acids to ingredient labels by 2006.

3. EMBRACE YOUR INNER HERBIVORE: Fruits and vegetables are storehouses of antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. The best sources are brightly colored fruit and vegetables, such as blueberries, strawberries, bell peppers and spinach. “Anytime you go with a large variety of colors, you get a powerhouse of phytochemicals, some of which have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

An easy way to up your phytochemicals is to select foods that are deeper shades of colors than you already eat, Polk says. For salad greens, choose the darker spinach over iceberg; grab a ruby strawberry instead of a banana.

For a simple way to eat more plant-based foods, Polk suggests using your dinner plate as a measuring tool. Ideally, two-thirds of the plate should be covered with plant-based foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans, she explains. The remaining one-third can be filled with lean animal protein, like a chicken breast or fish fillet. Consider eating more anti-inflammatory herbs, like ginger and turmeric, and augmenting your diet with antioxidant supplements.

4. CUT BACK ON WHEAT AND DAIRY: Not heeding food intolerances and sensitivities is a one-way ticket to chronic inflammation, and no two foods are bigger triggers than dairy and wheat. For people who suffer from lactose intolerance or celiac disease (gluten sensitivity), the stomach treats dairy and wheat products as hostile invaders. Often it only takes a bite of bread or a spoonful of ice cream to kick the immune system into high gear.

5. SAY NO TO SUGAR: Sugary foods can also be a problem, especially when eaten between meals, since they cause a surge in blood-sugar levels. To regain balance, the pancreas releases a rush of insulin, which in turn activates the genes involved in inflammation. This biochemical roller coaster is thought to contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes. “When I’m trying to quell people’s inflammation, I make sure they knock out refined grains and refined sugars,” says LaValle. “You’ve got to get rid of the inflammatory chemistry.”

Get a Move On
Although the role of exercise in staving off chronic inflammation is less well documented than dietary changes, experts still tout physical activity as one of the best ways to keep inflammation at bay. The best part? It doesn’t matter how you move – just get out and go. The indirect results of exercise on inflammatory diseases are bountiful.

Running for an hour or more per week lowers a man’s risk of developing heart disease by 42 percent, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (Oct. 23, 2002). People who exercise regularly are also less likely to be overweight, which lowers the odds of suffering from an inflammation-related illness.

Exercise also may directly muffle inflammation. In studies, both aerobic and nonaerobic exercise have been shown to lower levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP (the body’s marker for inflammation). The lower the body’s CRP, the less inflammation is present.

In a recent study published by the American Heart Association, researchers at the Cooper Institute in Dallas recruited 722 men to observe how fitness affects inflammation. The men’s fitness levels were measured by how long they could walk on a treadmill at gradually rising inclines. Inflammation levels were calculated by performing blood tests for CRP.

In the end, researchers saw a clear trend toward lower CRP levels among those men who aced the treadmill test and higher CRP levels among those who struggled. Among the men in the lowest fitness group, 49 percent had dangerously high CRP scores. Conversely, only 16 percent of those in the highest fitness group had elevated CRP levels.

The rub is that scientists aren’t sure exactly how exercise diffuses inflammation. One theory is that exercise goads the body into making more antioxidants, which then seek and destroy free radicals associated with prolonged inflammation. William Joel Meggs, MD, PhD, author of The Inflammation Cure (McGraw-Hill, 2004), believes exercise may fool the body into thinking it’s younger than it is. “If the body senses it has a biological need to stay healthy, it will produce more antioxidants to control inflammation and slow the aging process,” he says.

For more on how and why to exercise as you age, see “Power Aging.”

To maximize the anti-inflammatory properties of exercise:

MAKE IT A HABIT: Aim for 30 minutes daily of moderate physical activity, such as walking, running, swimming or even yard work. Remember, a little each day is more beneficial than squeezing in a week’s worth of exercise on the weekend.

MIX AND MATCH: For your best shot at lowering CRP levels, get a mixture of both aerobic exercise, such as walking, running or riding a bike, and moderate weightlifting, either at a gym or with small hand weights at home.

DON’T OVERDO IT: If you find yourself hobbled for days after each trip to the gym, dial down your workout. An overzealous workout can leave muscles and joints sore, which may ultimately fuel the inflammatory fire instead of quell it.

RECRUIT YOUR MIND: “Mental states are important,” says Meggs. “We know that angry, hostile people have higher CRP levels than people who keep their cool.” The thinking goes that cortisol, a stress hormone, triggers the body to release a host of chemicals that contribute to the inflammatory cascade. Activities that calm the mind, such as meditation and guided imagery, lower CRP levels, he says. Better yet, try combining a meditative focus with physical movement in practices like yoga, tai chi or qigong. (For more on this topic, see “Emotional Biochemistry” in the Nov./Dec. 2003 Experience Life.)

Squelching chronic inflammation with diet and exercise is in many ways a no-brainer. Certainly health experts have touted much of this same advice (less junk food, more vegetables and regular exercise) for years.

But who knows, maybe understanding the inflammation connection will be enough to convince more folks to straighten up and fly right – particularly if keeping a lid on inflammation turns out to be the secret of healthy aging, or wellness in general, as Meggs suggests. “Inflammation may well turn out to be the elusive Holy Grail of medicine,” he notes, “the single phenomenon that holds the key to sickness and health.”

By Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is a freelance health and fitness writer in Louisville, Ky.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

Chlorella: Detoxifying Super Nutrient

Chlorella:  Detoxifying Super Nutrient

chlorella-microscopic

Chlorella, a single-celled fresh-water algae, is one of the most heavily researched algae in the world. It’s often referred to as a near-perfect food as research through the years have identified an astounding range of health benefits.  While being well known for its ability to detoxify your body by binding to toxins and carrying them out of your system, that’s certainly not all it’s good for.

Chlorella’s Impressive Range of Health Benefits

As you will see, chlorella seems to fit the description of a “wonder nutrient” that serves far more than just one function. Here’s a sampling of some of the health benefits associated with this green algae:

  • Repairing nerve tissues
  • Enhancing your immune system
  • Improving digestion
  • Promoting healthy pH levels in your gut, which in turn helps good bacteria to thrive
  • Enhancing your ability to focus and concentrate
  • Increasing your energy levels
  • Normalizing your blood sugar
  • Normalizing your blood pressure
  • Removing potentially toxic metals from your body
  • Eliminating bad breath

Chlorella can also be of benefit to vegetarians and vegans looking for proteins and B vitamins from a non-animal source. About 60 percent of it is protein, and because it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs, it’s considered to be a “complete protein.”

Chlorella is also rich in:

  • GABA
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron

Seven Health Conditions Chlorella May Help Prevent or Treat

As mentioned earlier, chlorella has and still is being researched for a number of health conditions. Here’s a list of seven common health problems and diseases where chlorella may be of particular benefit:

  • Insulin resistance—Earlier this year, researchers discovered that chlorella has the ability to improve fructose-induced insulin sensitivity.  As I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, excessive fructose consumption is the number one cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In this animal study, after being fed fructose-rich chow for four weeks, the rats were then given chlorella three times a day for five days, which brought their elevated glucose-insulin values back to normal. The authors concluded that: “Oral administration of chlorella has the ability to improve insulin sensitivity, which may be used as an adjuvant therapy for patients with insulin resistance.”
  • Detoxification—Chlorella is particularly helpful when used in conjunction with an infrared sauna and taken two hours before you go in the sauna. This way the chlorella will be in your intestine and ready to bind to the toxins that are released when you are in the sauna. It will bind irreversibly to the toxins and be safely excreted when you have your bowel movement.
  • Diabetes—Additional evidence supporting the theory that chlorella can improve insulin sensitivity can be found in an earlier study. Here, the algae was found to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in the liver in type 1 diabetic rats. The authors suggest chlorella’s hypoglycemic effects may be due to improved glucose uptake in the liver and the soleus muscles. Another mechanism may be related to decreased levels of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), since insulin sensitivity is usually blunted by elevated NEFA in type 1 diabetes.
  • Hypertension—The results from a placebo-controlled, double-blind study published two years ago suggest that chlorella can significantly decrease high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension. The authors proposed that it may be a beneficial dietary supplement for preventing hypertension, with no apparent adverse side effects.
  • Anemia, proteinuria and edema in pregnant women—Pregnancy-induced hypertension and anemia are common, and potentially dangerous. One of the primary causes for these conditions is the woman’s nutritional status. A study published last year found that chlorella may help improve both of these conditions in pregnant women, likely due to its high folate, B12 and iron content.Subjects took six grams of chlorella per day, starting somewhere between the 12th to the 18th week of gestation, until delivery. The chlorella group had significantly lower rates of anemia compared to the control group. They also had fewer incidences of proteinuria and edema; two symptoms associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension. Here too, the authors concluded that: “Chlorella supplement may be useful as a resource of natural folate, vitamin B-12 and iron for pregnant women.”
  • Fibromyalgia—Although the individual results were varied, it may be worth considering chlorella if you suffer with fibromyalgia. A study published in 2000 tested the effectiveness of two commercially available chlorella-based products on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and the overall results showed a 22 percent decrease in pain intensity. However, while seven patients reported improvement in their fibromyalgia symptoms, six reported no effect at all, and five claimed their symptoms had worsened during the trial. So keep that in mind if you decide to try it. While it may help some, it might not work at all for others.
  • Liver cancerA study published in 2009 discovered that chlorella triggers cell death (apoptosis) in rat liver cancer cells, which suggests it may be useful in the prevention of liver cancer. The authors concluded that: “Our study shows that chlorella has definite chemopreventive effect by inducing apoptosis via decreasing the expression of Bcl-2 and increasing the expression of caspase 8 in hepatocarcinogenesis-induced rats.”

For additional research findings, check out Green Med Info’s chlorella page, which lists more than 40 health conditions for which chlorella may be of benefit.

Chlorella—A Potent Detox Agent

Heavy metal toxicity, just like chemical toxicity, has become one of the most pressing health hazards of our day, and this is where chlorella may be profoundly useful. Its ability to bind to heavy metal toxins, allowing them to be safely excreted from your body, has been well established. It’s particularly crucial for systemic mercury elimination, because the majority of mercury is rid through your stool. Once the mercury burden is lowered from your intestines, mercury from other body tissues will more readily migrate into your intestines where chlorella will work to remove it.

You can also add cilantro, which works as a synergetic detoxification aid along with the chlorella. This combination is particularly useful to take when you’re consuming seafood, as most are invariably contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals. Ideally you would take it with the meal so the chlorella can bind directly to the toxins while they are in your gut, before they absorbed into your body.

In order to optimize heavy metal detox, you’ll want to take at least four grams of chlorella every day, year-round.

Be aware that side effects may occur. As your body starts to detox, you may initially experience some slight nausea, and/or mild diarrhea. If these symptoms are too bothersome, you may want to lower your dose initially, and slowly increase the dose. As your body is cleansed of toxins, these side effects should disappear. Infrared saunas are another phenomenal detox approach. I seek to do a 20 minute sauna virtually every day I am home. I will be writing more about this useful tool in the near future.

The Crucial Detail that Determines Chlorella’s Effectiveness

The key to chlorella’s detoxing abilities lies within its membrane, but the fibrous cell wall of chlorella is actually indigestible to humans. This is why most chlorella products use the term “broken cell wall,” to describe the fact that the chlorella has been rendered digestible.

If a product does not specifically tell you that the cell wall has been broken, you are likely flushing your money down the toilet as the chlorella will simply pass right through you without doing you any good. As Ginny Banks explains in this previous chlorella interview, it’s in your best interest to make sure you’re getting a high quality product for this reason.

How to Verify the Quality of a Chlorella Product

While there are a number of proprietary methods to break the cell wall, the key comparison you need to pay attention to is the nutritional profile of the end product. In addition to making sure it’s “broken cell wall” chlorella, this is the other factor that will help you evaluate the quality of any given product. Keep in mind that, according to the legal requirements, a natural product may contain plus or minus 20 percent of the stated level of any nutritional component. Therefore, I recommend sticking with reputable companies only, as they will adhere to certain processes that increase your chances of getting the levels of nutrients stated on the label.

Recent changes to the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) guidelines and the labeling requirements now make it much easier for you to investigate and verify company claims, because companies are now required to list their phone number and website on every label. They must also maintain a paper trail showing where the material came from and any testing that has been done.

Key questions to ask when calling a company directly include:

  • How often do you test batches for nutritional consistency?
  • Ask for a specification sheet (“spec sheet”), or the Certificate of Analysis, known as the “C of A.” These are documents that itemize every single test that the final product gets tested for.
  • How and where is the chlorella grown? Variations in climate and season can cause nutritional variations, but if the chlorella is grown in artificial ponds the producer has greater control over consistency. You’ll also want to make sure the chlorella is grown in unpolluted areas, since chlorella binds to heavy metals.
  • Does the producer test for heavy metal contamination? A high quality producer will perform regular heavy metal analysis’, for which there should also be a verifiable paper trail. And organic producers must adhere to even more stringent rules in order to become certified organic, which is another sign of a clean, high quality product.

Although I do not promote the use of many supplements in general, believing it is far better to get your nutrition from food, there are exceptions to this rule. In this case though, chlorella truly is a food, but it must be properly processed into supplement form in order to unlock its greatest health benefits. Whether you want to help reduce your toxic burden, prevent a particular health ailment, or just boost overall nutrition, I believe chlorella can be a phenomenal addition to a healthy diet.

(Leesa recommends getting your daily dose of Chlorella in GT’s Multi-Green Organic Raw Kombucha like she does!)

By Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, he treated many thousands of patients for over 20 years. In the mid 90’s he integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the internet and developed a website, Mercola.com to spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health.

12 Home Chores that Burn the Most Calories

12 Home Chores that Burn the Most Calories

Running marathons and swimming laps are not the only way to burn calories. Housekeeping and yard work can also help you keep off the pounds. Here are 12 of the top calorie-burning home and garden chores, with estimated hourly calorie-burn rates for an average 145-pound person. Of course, each person mows, mops and dusts at a different pace and burns a different number of calories, so these are general estimates.

The first number is provided by the Livestrong Foundation, which lists the number of calories burned for a wide variety of jobs, sports and other activities. Wherever possible, a second number is provided by My Fitness Pal, which offers tracking for both caloric intake and caloric burn, online or with iPhone and Android apps.

My Fitness Pal has a smaller list of activities, so not all chores have two estimates. For example, the site does not break down specific cleaning activities but estimates that cleaning burns between 164 and 197 calories per hour for a 145-pound person. Likewise, gardening burns about 263 calories per hour, according to My Fitness Pal.

We also list caloric equivalents for the number of calories burned per hour. Many of the items and their caloric values are listed at Fatsecret.com.

1. Vigorous barn cleaning (526 calories per hour): My wife’s grandmother believes jeans should never be worn in polite company, and are only good for mucking out the barn. However, a few hours of barn cleaning could help you fit into smaller jeans. Mucking a barn for an hour burns off the caloric equivalent of one pound of pink salmon, and is by far the heaviest calorie-burning chore.

2. Stacking wood, digging dirt or exterior painting (435): One hour of any of these rigorous activities can burn off a healthy, complete dinner, such as three ounces of skinless chicken breast with two cups of steamed vegetables and a ½ cup of brown rice. In fact, these jobs are laborious enough to warrant talking to your physician before taking on any of them.

3. Shoveling snow or splitting wood (395 to 408): You can sit in front of the fire and eat a guilt-free 8-oz portion of meat lasagna after spending an hour burning off the caloric equivalent of the meal by chopping your firewood or shoveling the sidewalk. Pushing a snowblower instead of a shovel cuts the caloric burn by 100 calories.

4. Weeding or planting trees and shrubs (400): One hour of heavy yard work burns the equivalent of a McDonald’s hamburger and low-fat ice cream cone. Livestrong also lists caulking, interior painting, refinishing furniture and power-sanding floors at the same caloric burn rate.

5. Manual mowing (395): Eco-conscious homeowners realize the environmental benefits of manual push mowers, but there are health benefits as well. One hour of manual mowing can burn off the famous $3.95, 395-calorie KFC meal, which includes two pieces of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Pushing a gas or electric mower is a lesser workout, burning 296 calories per hour.

6. Baking (168 to 348): You can pre-burn a few cookies-worth of calories while preparing them. The caloric burn level of baking varies widely depending on how much effort you put into kneading and rolling. However, keep in mind that each classic Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie has 108 calories, so plan on some strenuous baking if you plan to indulge in a plateful.

7. Cleaning gutters (329): Cleaning gutters burns as many calories as ballroom dancing, and an hour of climbing, reaching and scraping can burn the equivalent of one cup of chicken fried rice.

8. Raking and bagging leaves (263 to 283): One hour of raking fall leaves can burn the equivalent of a buttermilk biscuit.

9. Scrubbing bathtub and tile (260): The most vigorous indoor cleaning activity is bathroom scrubbing. It is probably my least favorite chore, but at least we can take comfort in knowing one hour of bathroom scrubbing will burn off slightly more than a McDonald’s hamburger.

10. Vigorous cleaning (220 to 250): Mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, edging the lawn and using a leaf blower all burn about the same number of calories. These tasks are not quite as much work as bathroom scrubbing, but they will burn off at least two chocolate chip cookies per hour.

11. Washing windows (197): Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but washing windows seems at least as strenuous as mopping. Livestrong puts it lower on the exertion scale, and suggests window-washing burns less than two cookies per hour. Also, washing cars, carpentry and electrical work all burn an equal number of calories to washing windows.

12. Light cleaning (164): Livestrong lists the following light, basic chores at the same caloric burn rate, which is equal to about one ounce of almonds: dusting, clearing dishes, taking out the trash, feeding animals and changing the sheets. Carrying groceries for an hour will also burn off those almonds, but the rate jumps to 493 if you carry groceries upstairs for an hour.

Finally, the Livestrong folks put ironing at the bottom of the chore list. However, they note that ironing is a full upper-body workout. At 151 calories per hour, ironing more than doubles the caloric burn of sitting and watching TV.

Instead of procrastinating on chores, think about the weight loss potential of all those tasks. Chores from mucking barns to ironing offer solid health benefits.

By Steve Graham, Networx

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