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Functional Foods And Exercise: The Ultimate Health Combination

Feb 25, 2008
As your body ages it becomes much more susceptible to many age associated diseases such as cardiovascular and neurological diseases, macular degeneration, cataract, osteoporosis and cancer. Two very effective methods can be used to greatly decrease the risk of these diseases. Consuming functional foods and regular exercise are very powerful preventive medicine. They help to give your body the best natural defenses to fight off any potential problems.

First, let's remember that free radicals are the primary cause of aging. The tissues of the eyes, brain, liver and heart are especially vulnerable to damage from the accumulation of free radicals. High levels of antioxidant vitamins has been associated with the increased lifespan of those who live to 100 years or more. Finding ways to remove free radicals from the body is one of the most important strategies in avoiding age related disease. The two major sources of free radicals in the human body are psychological stress and the foods people consume.

By avoiding psychological stress and eating foods known as "functional foods" we can prevent the excess accumulation of free radicals.

What Are Functional Foods?

Functional foods are basically foods which contain important benefits for our health. They include:

* Fresh Fruits
* Raw Vegetables
* Oily Fish
* Seeds and Nuts

Each functional food does a different job within the body. The fibers in fruit containing pectin, oily seeds such as garlic, walnuts and almonds, and fish oils for example can have Hypocholesterolemic (cholesterol lowering) effects within the body by blocking fat absorption and preventing your body from producing cholesterol. This helps to decrease your risk of both Cerebrovascular (stroke related) and Cardiovascular (heart disease) disorders. Did you catch that? These foods actually block fat absorption!

The carotenoids found in foods like spinach and broccoli have been shown to prevent eye disease like cataract and macular degeneration by protecting macular tissues from damage by free radicals.

So, functional foods are important if you want to keep the body healthy. However, they cannot properly do their job without regular exercise.

Functional Foods and Exercise Combined

Although functional foods can really help the body fight off disease, without regular exercise you are fighting a losing battle. Exercise helps to increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Good cholesterol carries the bad cholesterol to your liver where it is broken down and passed out of your body. You definitely want to do what you can to have more HDL than LDL cholesterol. If you take part in just thirty minutes of exercise several times per week, you will increase your HDL cholesterol levels and greatly reduce your risk of disease.

It is important to note that exercise lowers your blood pressure which is a big concern if you are above thirty. High blood pressure is a very dangerous condition and is usually controlled with medication. However it is possible to prevent it from occurring in the first place through the use of functional foods and regular exercise. Why medicate after you have a severe problem if you can prevent the problem in the first place by living a healthy lifestyle?

AS you get older, your brain is severely affected by reduced blood flow and free radical build up. Every aspect of your life is directly controlled by the function of your brain and maintaining healthy brain tissue should be a high priority. By eating functional foods you can prevent certain brain cells from degenerating. By participating in a healthy and strenuous exercise program you will see an increase and maintenance of both short and long term memory. Regular exercise and a good diet is absolutely essential to maintain a healthy brain.

It is important to note that as your circulatory system grows older, it becomes easier for free radicals to build up and harder for antioxidants to reach deep into your organ tissues. Thus, a good diet and supplement routine is simply not enough. You must take the time to get your blood flowing into every corner of your body to supply those tissues with the supplements and antioxidants.

You've heard it over and over again....diet and exercise. A healthy lifestyle is built on the foundation of consuming antioxidants and then circulating them through out your body. For most people who want to live to 100 or more, this is the only way to get there. Take care of yourself and you will have many healthy and fulfilling years.
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