Red, Red Wine and Women: A Heart to Heart

Red wine is consistently one of the preferred drinks of the women in our family.  Most of the men prefer an ice, cold beer. But a good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon is also a favorite for women beyond my little circle of influence. What many do not realize is that the benefits of a nice Merlot are greater than just a little indulgence. The benefits are more than just a way to relax after a fully packed day of commitments. Many studies also support numerous health benefits, most importantly the prevention of heart disease, experienced by those who join in the partaking in a nice glass of red. Men, you may be missing out on something.

Here is a short summary of heart to heart findings from studies involving red wine.

  • A 12 year study of over 13,000 men and women revealed a 50% reduction in death from coronary heart disease and stroke. Beer and spirit drinkers did not show the same advantage. Red wine was better!
  • A review of 13 more studies involving over 200,000 men and women subjects showed a 32% decrease in heart disease compared to only a 20% decrease for those that drnk beer. Red wine was better!
  • Red wine decreased a clot forming protein, fibrinogen, which contributes to blockages in the heart.
  • Red wine increased “good cholesterol” or HDL (12% in the study I reviewed) which in turn lowers “bad cholesterol” or LDL.
  • The groups that benefited the most were men and women of middle age (also the age group which increased risk of heart disease begins).
  • Healthy adults, adults with a history of heart attack, and adult diabetics all seemed to equally enjoy the same level of benefits.

It’s important to note that the studies above involved subjects who were moderate drinkers generally defined as 1-2 drinks of alcohol per day, 3-4 days per week.

Red wine appears to have heart health benefits for men and women alike. Women, you should have a heart to heart with your man about the heart health benefits of red wine instead of that ice-cold brew.

red wine and women

Men, you should also know that, in another study I came across, 800 women that drank 1 – 2 servings of red wine per day reported increased romantic desire. Red, red wine!

Stress Eating The Right Way

Stress eating is like a binge gone bad.  I am all too familiar with this phenomenon. The pantry door swings wide open and a full on graze begins.  Handfuls of cereal, spoonfuls of peanut butter, slices of bread, and that is just the beginning.  It is a good thing I don’t buy Ding Dongs. I would eat the whole box.

stress eating

Why do we stress eat?

To begin to control stress eating we first must understand why we do it.  The truth is that stress eating is a natural bodily response to stress. Stress sends our bodies into the flight or fight response. When we feel stressed our blood pressure goes up and our pulse quickens.  We become anxious and nervous.  The natural response is to sustain our bodies with food.  When we feel stressed, cortisol (a stress hormone) is released into our blood stream.  Cortisol increases our cravings for both salty and sweet foods .  We crave. Therefore, we eat.

How Do We Control Stress Eating?

So, if stress eating is a natural bodily response, what can we do about it? Fortunately, there are foods we can eat that will actually help fight stress.

Oranges and Bananas and Avocados:  Oranges, bananas and avocados are rich in potassium which aid in regulating your blood pressure.  Avocados are particularly rich in potassium having more potassium in 1/2 an avocado than a medium-sized banana.

These power foods also help to keep your blood sugar up.  As a side note it is interesting to know that bananas are also known for decreasing heartburn symptoms.

The vitamin C in oranges has also been shown to reduce levels of cortisol.  One such study included a group of people with high blood pressure.  Studies have shown that blood pressures and cortisol levels return to normal more quickly in people who have a diet high in vitamin C.

Salmon:  Salmon is full of Omega-3s which can prevent surges in stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.  Of course, salmon is not the only fish high in Omega-3s.  Tuna and herring are also packed with this heart healthy stress relieving nutrient.  Aim for a 3 ounce serving twice weekly for stress control. Nuts such as pistachios, walnuts and almonds are also full of Omega-3s.  Nuts fight stress as well as help to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and lower the risk of diabetes.  One quarter cup of nuts per day is a perfect healthy serving.

Broccoli:  Broccoli is high in folic acid which has been shown to lower daily stress levels and decrease irritability.  Other foods high in folic acid include orange juice and asparagus.

Black Tea:  Black tea has been shown to decrease the amount of cortisol a body produces.  Studies indicate that drinking 4 cups of black tea a day helps us cope better during stressful situations and recover from stress more quickly.  Black tea is a stress eating buster!

Whole Grains:  A diet rich in  complex carbohydrates and whole grains releases serotonin which is a feel-good hormone that enhances your mood and encourages relaxation. Another serotonin releasing food is milk.  Particularly, warm milk.  This old wives’ tale has been proven effective  and can help you relax and get a good night’s sleep!

Stress Eating can be controlled by reducing stress and the foods above help to do just that.  Being aware of your stress levels is helpful in making good food choices.  Remember to stop yourself from grazing and grab that banana instead.  When you are going through a particularly stressful time in your life add more complex carbohydrates to your diet. Regular servings of salmon, broccoli and a hearty cup (or 4)  of black tea can help you to cope more effectively when stress does occur.

What foods do you find helpful to handle stress more effectively and avoid stress eating?

Heallthy Snack Guide: 5 Snacks with Health Benefits

Snacks can be the death of a healthy diet or, with a little planning, can be the perfect complement. Snacks are often seen as a reward or an opportunity for something sweet and off the health spectrum. However, snacks can be just the opposite. They are an opportunity to add nutrition to your body and energy to your day. There in lies the reward. See our healthy snack guide for 5 snacks with health benefits.

Healthy Snacks are delicious, nutritious, fun and satisfying!

healthy snacks

Snacks With Health Benefits

1. Baby carrots and Hummus: Baby carrots and hummus are packed full of nutrition. They boast a long list of nutrients including manganese, folate, fiber, protein, copper, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. This rich and delicious pairing supports strong vision, steady blood sugar levels, colon health, strong muscles and beautiful skin.

2. Apples and Almond Butter: This cancer fighting heart healthy cholesterol lowering snack is a powerhouse of flavor. For those of you with a sweet tooth, this naturally sweet snack is a good healthy choice. Apples and almond butter are filled with protein, phosphorus, vitamin B6, fiber, vitamin C and quercitin. This powerful pair delivers increased endurance before a workout, supports a strong immune system, builds healthy muscles and is good for your cardiovascular system.

3. Nuts, Oats and Craisins: Mix This simple snack is filled with manganese, magnesium, Protein, selenium, tryptophan, fiber and vitamins E, C and K. The result is a snack that will build muscles, support healthy digestion, restful sleep and heart health. A long-lasting feeling of fullness is another great benefit of this easy snack

4. Greek Yogurt and blueberries: Greek yogurt has 21/2 times the protein of regular yogurt and 15-20% of your calcium needs for the day. Add some sweetness with blueberries which are filled with antioxidants and you may just have the perfect snack. Nutritionally, this snack boasts vitamin A, calcium, protein, vitamin C, manganese, fiber. This couple promotes strong bones, nails, hair, skin, eyes and heart. It also acts as a natural antibiotic preventing disease and infection. Greek yogurt and blueberries is truly a snack with health benefits.

5. Strawberries and Dark Chocolate: Strawberries and dark chocolate are a delectable grouping sure to satisfy any sweet craving but also providing incredible nutrition. Together this duo provides vitamin C, folate, quercetin, kaempferol, polyphenols and manganese. Health benefits of these beautiful enticing food include lowering blood pressure, improved eye health, fighting cancer, and decreasing inflammation.

Prepare a healthy snack every day to boost your energy level and promote a healthy body. Snacks are fun, delicious and healthy. Furthermore, it is easy to plan for snacks with health benefits. Use our healthy snack guide to plan your snacks with health benefits and feel good about your nutrition.

The Heart of the Nurse to Patient Therapeutic Relationship

Developing a close nurse to patient therapeutic relationship can touch the depths of your heart, or theirs. Remembering every single patient I have ever been a nurse to is simply impossible. Last week I walked down the hall and a man called my name and outstretched his arms to give me a hug. I had no idea who he was, but he certainly remembered me. That is the heart of nursing, to me. If I touched someone so much that they call me by my name and want to give me a hug as if we were long-lost cousins, then I have done my job.

Nurses touch the hearts of many. That is the core of the nurse to patient therapeutic relationship. Connecting with my patient is a huge part of my job. I work hard at it. I want my patients to remember me by my name and by the care that I give them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that every single patient will remain in my memory or in my heart forever. Yet, while I am taking care of them, I want them to think they are the most important person I have ever met.

Then, of course, there are those patients who weave their way into the very center of my heart. When a patient touches my heart, they are eternally engraved upon it and there is no sandstone that can buff it away. That is a sacred thing and the reason why I work so hard at developing a nurse to patient therapeutic relationship.

Sometimes it is my patient’s family members that I connect with. Today, I am thinking about a man whose wife was my patient. She was dying of breast cancer. He came to me, sheepish and humble. “I just want to know if it is time for me to call my family?” he asked. I took his hand over the counter and I said to him, “I can’t say for sure, but in my heart I believe it is time.” His eyes welled with tears the size of raindrops. They pooled over the edge of his lower lids like a waterfall and dripped profusely onto his cheeks and off his chin. He never changed expressions and he never removed his eyes from mine. I reached down and tucked a handful of tissues into his hand. He turned, wordlessly and walked away.

A lump lodged heavily in my throat. I turned around and there stood three of my colleagues. They had witnessed the exchange between us and they looked at me expectantly. I literally crumbled when I saw them. One handed me my own box of tissue. The other opened her arms to give me a hug. The third said, “If you ever stop feeling when you stare into the face of grief, then you should not be a nurse anymore.”

With the help of my friends I was able to pull it together and finish my shift without another tear. But that mans face…his face…. is forever emblazoned upon my memory. Yet, I am glad for his memory and that of many others before and after him. Those memories have shaped who I am today, they are a part of my very soul. And that is why I know in my heart that no matter what, the relationship I develop with my patient is the most important aspect of my job as a nurse.