5 Benefits of Medical Nutrition Therapy

Chair Yoga For Strength, Balance and More

What Should You Weigh? Common Weight Loss Questions, Answered

How to Stay Well During the Holidays

7 Ways to Maintain Bone Health

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How to Stay Well During the Holidays

 Staying well during the holidays

Holidays are full of festivities – family time, food, events, traveling, you name it. But sometimes, the holiday season can bring stress and anxiety when you’re trying to stick to healthy eating habits and a consistent exercise routine. The key to staying on track with your goals is to plan well in advance and get creative. We all know how hard it can be to set aside time for yourself during the holiday season, so try to infuse your good habits with your events.

Below are some simple and fun tips to get you through the holiday season without sacrificing healthy eating and exercise.


Pace Yourself & Eat Slow

Holiday meals bring excitement and eagerness to eat the beautiful assortments of savory and delicious food that you may only have once a year, which can ultimately lead to overeating. The key to avoiding this is to pace yourself and eat slow. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full and satisfied. Often times, when you eat fast, you’re likely to overeat and feel too full or sluggish.

To slow down during your meal, try and strike up conversations or take a few sips of water in between bites. That way, you’re taking pauses and realize you’re satisfied without feeling too full.


Drink a Glass of Water Before Your Meal

A great habit to start, even outside of the holiday season, is to drink a full glass of water 20-30 minutes before your meal. We often mistake feelings of hunger for feelings of thirst – so when you’re feeling hungry, you could just be thirsty.

Again, your brain takes about 20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full, so drinking a full glass of water before your meal keeps you hydrated, avoids overeating, and helps your stomach digest food.



This tip is simple – eat your veggies first! By doing this, you’ll be sure to get your most important nutrients before digging into the other delicious items on your plate.


DON’T Skip Meals

A common misconception is to skip your regular meals in anticipation for a large meal later in the day or evening. Do your best to stick to your regular eating patterns until your big feast, even if that means having a light snack; like vegetables and hummus, for example. Skipping meals can affect energy levels, giving way to some mood swings, and setting you up to overeat.


Track Your Movement

Again, here’s another tip that’s useful year-round, but comes in handy during the holiday time. It’s easy to get wrapped up in holiday festivities and forget about exercise or moderate movement.

Using a fitness tracker can help you become more aware of your activity levels throughout the day. Most trackers will notify you if you’re below your normal activity levels, so don’t ignore those notifications and get moving!


Walk After Your Meal

Walking after a meal is another great habit that is useful year-round. A light walk will get you moving, helps aid digestion and combats feeling of sleepiness post eating.


Alternate Water & Alcohol

Around the holiday time, you’re more likely than not to see a holiday themed drink make an appearance. Fun drinks tend to contain more sugar. To help avoid a sugar crash and not stray too far from your healthy dietary habits, alternate between drinking water and alcohol. This will help you stay hydrated while consuming alcohol and reduce your sugar intake.


Think Creatively About Being Active

It can be difficult to set aside time for exercise, and most times, plans change. The best thing you can do to ensure active time during the holiday season is to get creative with it. The great thing about the holiday season is that, while it’s often a busy time, you’ll have more family or free time – so the tip here is to make the most of it and have some fun!


Family Time

The best part about family time is that there’s many ways to get the whole family together while getting in some light-moderate exercise. Here are some creative ideas to keep you moving:

  • Hike or Walk: If you’re in an area with a warmer climate, take the family outside for an easy hike or walk. While you’re getting your body moving, you’re also engaging in some great family time.
  • Kids: If you’re able, play with kids! Kids are always active and are bound to create a game that keeps everyone moving.
  • Dogs: Maybe your family is full of furry friends. Take the family dog for a walk, hike, swim or even play chase in the yard or house.
  • Sledding: If you’re in an area that has snow, take advantage of it and go sledding! You’ll most likely have to walk up a hill while carrying a sled, so you’re guaranteed to get your heart pumping with a leg and arm workout.


Holiday-Themed Events

A great thing about the holiday season is that you’re bound to see a fun activity pop up.

  • Fun Runs & Walks: There’s always some type of holiday themed run/walk. Get family or friends together to spend quality time together while getting exercise.


Home Activities

Sometimes, all you look forward to during the holiday season is sitting with the family and watching TV. Well, there are still fun activities you can do while watching TV. Here are some ideas:

  • TV/Movie checklists: Pick out a TV show or movie and make a list of things that could happen during the show/movie. Then, pair an exercise with each item. Here’s an example:
    • For the Movie “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”:
      • Every time the Grinch makes someone scream: 3 pushups
      • Every time the Grinch steals a present: 1 squat
    • Chair yoga: Don’t feel like getting up to do traditional yoga poses? Take a seat and do some chair yoga – you’ll still reap the benefits. Here’s a light read of the benefits of chair yoga.
    • Kitchen exercises: While you’re waiting for your favorite dish to cook, take the time standing in the kitchen and incorporate some easy exercises like:
      • Squats: Waiting for that pot of water to boil? Do some squats to pass the time and get your blood pumping.
      • Lunges: Do some lunges in place or walking lunges to get a nice core and lower body workout.
      • Table push-ups: Place your hands on the edge of the table or counter and do some up-right push-ups for an upper body workout.
      • Stairs: While you’re waiting for your food to cook, take a few minutes and walk up and down the stairs. You’ll get your heart pumping and feel the burn in your legs.
      • Walking: Take a few laps around the kitchen, house or backyard while you have some downtime between food preparation and mealtime.


We all know how important adequate sleep is for our daily lives, but it’s even more important during the holiday times. Holidays can be a time of stress, and the best way to fight feelings and side effects of stress, is to sleep. Also, the more sleep you get, the more energy you’ll have for activities and exercise, and less food cravings.

From Us to You

Happy holidays from all of us at Sun Health! By taking advantage of the tips listed in this article, you’ll be sure to adhere to your good habits and have a healthy and happy holiday season. Visit our website or contact us for additional information and resources on living an active and healthy life.


Friday, June 24, 2022

7 Ways to Maintain Bone Health

 7 ways to maintain bone health

Osteoporosis, which means porous bone, is a chronic disease characterized by the weakening of bones and significant reductions in bone density, which is the amount of bone minerals in the bone tissue itself. This can result in an increased risk of fractures and other fall-related injuries. Even mild stress can fracture an osteoporotic bone that has become very brittle.  Women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis once they reach menopause due to hormonal changes.

What you can do for healthy bones

While there are many risk factors, there are some methods you can use to strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Read on to learn more about the top 7 ways you can maintain your bone health.

1.      Watch what you eat

Making sure you get a variety of nutrients from your food not only helps your overall health, but it can contribute toward building stronger bones and maintaining normal bone density. The two most critical nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D. Other important vitamins for bone health include vitamin C and vitamin K.

Foods that are rich in calcium such as dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt) and plant-based sources (like almonds, beans, tofu or kale) are the best sources. Sources of vitamin D include exposure to sunlight and consumption of certain foods and supplements. Since there are very few foods that contain vitamin D, your best sources include fatty fish like wild-caught mackerel, salmon and tuna or foods where vitamin D has been added, such as dairy products, orange juice and fortified cereals. Many of these nutrients can be found in a diet made up of dark leafy green vegetables and a variety of colorful fruits.

Some research has correlated a higher intake of fruits and vegetables with higher bone mineral density. Getting your vitamins and minerals from quality food sources is more beneficial than supplements, but your healthcare professional may recommend supplements if it is difficult for you to meet daily recommended levels from food alone.

2.      Maintain a regular exercise routine and a healthy body weight

Building a regular exercise routine that works for your body will help your bones in many ways. In the most direct way, weight-bearing exercises and high-impact activities can help build strong bones and slow bone loss. Exercising regularly will also help build your muscles, which can contribute to stabilizing joints and reducing bone fractures. In contrast, a reduction in exercise can lead to increased risks of bone loss, bone fractures or even a loss of independence.

Also, it is important to know that people who are obese or underweight may be predisposed to bone loss. Some studies have shown individuals who are underweight (BMI range of less than 18.5) are more likely to have lower bone density than individuals who have a normal weight (BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9) and even those who were overweight (BMI range of 25 to 29.9). While some researchers disagree, more recent studies have shown that obesity (BMI range of 30 or greater) negatively affects bone density, and that fat accumulation within the body decreases the overall bone mass in your body.

Overall, building and maintaining a regular exercise routine is vital to protect and strengthen your bones. Staying active is very important for maintaining and improving your bones and the rest of your health. If you have other health concerns which limit your ability to perform weight-bearing or high-impact exercises, talk with your healthcare professional about which exercises will best help you protect your bones and what exercise can be safely incorporated into your lifestyle.

To learn more about how Sun Health Wellness has helped others lose weight, be sure to check out the weight loss journeys of Sun Health residents, Susan Hershberger and Bonnie White.

3.      Quit smoking

It may come as a surprise that smoking can have detrimental effects on your bones, since most public health awareness campaigns on tobacco have historically focused on the risks of cancer, heart disease and early death. However, smoking is absolutely harmful to your bone health – some researchers claim that smoking is a key lifestyle risk factor for bone loss and fractures more so than other risks associated with age and gender. Furthermore, smoking can even reduce your intestine’s ability to absorb calcium – meaning it will be harder for your body to extract calcium from any food or supplements you consume.

4.      Reduce your alcohol and soda intake

To optimize your bone health, women are recommended to limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, and men to limit their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day. Soda consumption has also been linked to bone density issues. In one study, researchers found that older adults were more likely to fracture a hip when consuming soda, regardless of whether it was diet or regular soda. However, while researchers have yet to uncover why this connection exists, it’s probably safe to limit your intake of soda.

5.      Talk to your healthcare professional

If you are concerned about your bone health, talk to your healthcare professional. He or she can review your medications and order tests to determine your risk of bone loss or fracture and uncover any nutrient deficiencies. Certain medications can negatively affect bone density, such as corticosteroids like prednisone, which are often prescribed for arthritis or certain autoimmune diseases. Similar to tobacco consumption, corticosteroids limit the intestine’s ability to absorb calcium and other key nutrients, weakening your bones as a result. If you need to take these medications for a long period of time or at high doses, your healthcare professional may recommend certain medications to protect your bones. Make sure to report any recent falls to your provider as well. A history of falls, combined with osteoporosis, can put you at increased risk for fractures.

6.      Get screened

Since osteoporosis has no obvious symptoms other than a fracture when the bone is already weakened, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional if you have any of the risk factors for osteoporosis. He or she may order a bone mineral density (BMD) test for you, a painless and quick exam that can tell you a lot about your bone health.

Medicare and most insurance providers will cover BMD testing every 24 months for beneficiaries with risk factors for osteoporosis. Some people with diagnosed osteoporosis or other conditions will qualify for an annual exam. A physician order is required for this test.

7.     Add supplements

Your healthcare professional may treat deficiencies found by suggesting supplements. While a balanced diet is key, you may also find yourself needing to boost your intake of certain vitamins and minerals – like calcium and vitamin D for example. Calcium is best absorbed when taken in amounts of 500 – 600 mg or less. Additionally, your body needs adequate levels of vitamin D in order to properly absorb calcium. If you are taking a vitamin D supplement, it does not need to be taken at the same time as your calcium supplement. When shopping for supplements, look for words on the label that state “purified” or have the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol. Supplements with the “USP Verified Mark” on their label have been tested to meet standards for purity and quality. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

You can also boost your vitamin D production naturally by going out into the sun for a few minutes a day – but be sure to check with your dermatologist first to determine whether the benefits of sun exposure outweigh the risks of skin cancer. Other supplements that may be beneficial include magnesium, B vitamins, potassium and folate. Be sure to discuss any supplements with your healthcare professional before adding them to your regimen to assure they are safe and effective, given your existing medications and health conditions.

Consult the experts at Sun Health Wellness

Navigating a tricky disease like osteoporosis and bone health can be difficult by yourself. Consider consulting the health and wellness experts at Sun Health Wellness to learn more about how to optimize your health. Whether it’s taking a Healthy Living Class on bone and joint health, or consulting with a Wellness Advocate who can help you navigate your health condition, there’s an option for everyone.


The information in this blog is not medical information, and any concern about your health, diet or exercise regimen should be deferred to your doctor for their professional expertise.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Dos and Don’ts of Brain Health

 Dos and Don'ts of Brain Health

Brain health is constantly in the news – for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is estimated to triple to 14 million by the year 2060. Navigating what is good and bad for your brain health can be tricky, especially given how much advice exists from so many different sources. This article will serve to outline what you should and shouldn’t do to help promote your brain health and reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.


While these tips can apply to anyone at any age, it especially matters once you’ve entered retirement age. The CDC states that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease tend to appear beginning around 60 years old, increasing as we age. Normal aging is associated with structural changes to the gray and white matter of the brain – meaning, there is a natural progression to brain deterioration that happens to almost everyone. However, diseases like Alzheimer’s – which is characterized by progressive memory loss, impaired thinking, disorientation and changes in personality and mood – are on the severe end of the brain degeneration spectrum and are theorized to be caused by certain lifestyle and risk factors. Making lifestyle changes now, no matter your age, can potentially prevent or reverse certain brain processes that may lead to Alzheimer’s.


What are some things I can do to help my brain health?

Taking steps toward preserving, protecting and improving your brain health can be as easy as changing one small habit, including incorporating the following tips:


1.      Exercise

Maintaining an active lifestyle is vital in preventing cognitive decline. Participating in activities such as light aerobics, dance, tai chi or even a simple walk around your neighborhood can contribute toward reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Not only does light exercise improve your circulation, which brings oxygen to your brain, but some researchers state it can even increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain responsible for memory that normally shrinks with age.


2.      Puzzles and games

It can be fun to keep your mind sharp! Things like puzzles, brain game apps, Sudoku and crossword puzzles or word searches can result in improved memory, visual recognition, concentration and mood. Try to incorporate a puzzle of some sort into your daily routine to boost your brain health.


3.      Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet and ensuring you’re getting your vitamins can make a significant difference in reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Deficiencies in vitamins like folate and Vitamin B12 have been linked to cognitive decline, and some scientists theorize that these vitamins serve as a protective mechanism against dementia. You can get folate from foods like broccoli, asparagus, spinach, beets and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin B12 can be supplemented with dissolvable tablets, sprays or obtained from food sources like beef, eggs, fortified cereals or seaweed snacks.


4.      Get enough sleep

Sleeping enough allows your brain the time it needs to repair, restore and reset after the many activities it does during the day. Sleeping also allows your brain to get rid of toxins, such as beta-amyloids, which is a substance that is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Most experts recommend older adults try to aim for eight hours of sleep per night. You can prioritize your sleep by following good sleep hygiene habits like going to sleep and waking up at the same time each night, avoiding caffeine and exercise at least six hours before bed and developing pre-sleep rituals you follow every night, like taking a bath or reading a book.


5.      Prioritize seeing your friends and family

Keeping in touch with friends and family can do more for your health than you might realize. One study found that certain social activities significantly reduced the rate of cognitive decline in a sample size of adults aged 65 and up. They found that the people who experienced the smallest amount of cognitive decline had the following things in common:

  • Active members of social clubs with their peers
  • Frequently contacted their children and grandchildren by phone, letters or in-person
  • Participated in two or more social activities, such as church groups, alumni societies or volunteer councils


6.      Practice mindfulness and meditation

Practicing a daily meditation routine can do many things for the brain, including decreasing inflammation, fighting fatigue and confusion, reducing rates of depression and promoting the formation of neural connections within the brain. A meditation routine can be as simple as a daily 15-minute practice during which you focus on taking deep and controlled breaths. There are also many tutorials available online.


What are some things I should avoid to help my brain health?

There are also some things you can change or omit entirely from your lifestyle to help improve your cognitive function. Stopping or limiting the following activities can help your brain health:


1.      Drinking in excess

It might come as a bit of a surprise, but drinking in excess for many years can actually affect your brain just as much as it can affect your other organs, like your liver or stomach. Because alcohol is technically a toxin, regular consumption can actually kill your nerve cells. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to brain shrinkage, depletion of the gray matter and permanent chemical changes to the brain.


2.      Smoking

Not only does smoking increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and many kinds of cancer, it can also cause many other issues. Regardless of how long someone has smoked, quitting at any age can provide huge benefits toward their health.


3.      Being inactive

While regular exercise five times a week is the most beneficial for your brain and overall health, participating in light activities a few times a week is better than being completely inactive. Not only can inactivity cause weight gain, muscle loss and osteoporosis, but it can also contribute toward the development of depression and dementia. If you have a chronic illness or physical impairment which restricts your movement, ask your doctor for recommendations on exercises that work well with your body. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy or rehabilitation depending on your individual situation.


How to get a leg up on your cognitive health

Following these steps to improve and protect your brain health can be as easy as finding local classes and opportunities in your community. Sun Health Wellness offers classes offered at little-to-no-cost. These classes range from informative wellness classes to exercise groups, all of which can benefit your mind and your body.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Easy to Miss Signs of a Heart Attack in Women

Common media depictions of heart attack symptoms include a man clutching his chest, falling to the floor with an arm outstretched, instantly knowing he was having a heart attack. However, women don’t experience heart attacks the same way men do. Many women don’t recognize the early signs and symptoms, or mistake them for other health conditions. Read on to learn more about the easy to miss signs of a heart attack in women.


This information is merely informative and should not be construed as medical advice. If you feel as if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or that you may be having a heart attack, please immediately get to your nearest emergency room or call 911.


6 easy to miss signs

About 90 percent of women and men experience some form of chest discomfort during a heart attack. However, some heart attacks present with no chest pain at all, and many people often find that the “pain” associated with a heart attack was similar to that of indigestion or acid reflux. While the symptoms may vary, the cause is almost always a blockage in a major artery that prevents blood from flowing to the heart.  Women are also more likely to experience heart attack symptoms while resting or sleeping than men are.


You should always report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor. These are six easy to miss signs that might mean you’re experiencing a heart attack:


1.      Pain that comes and goes

You may feel a pain, a squeezing, a pressure or a fullness sensation in your chest. However, what makes this an easy to miss sign is that it can often come and go, which can confuse some women into thinking it was anxiety or a random, harmless chest pain. These sensations tend to return quickly and last only a few minutes at a time.


2.      Unusual fatigue

You may have a busy schedule, so you’re used to feeling tired. However, the fatigue associated with heart attacks tends to be more unusual than normal tiredness after a long day. Pay attention to fatigue that is new or that has dramatically increased within a few days’ time. Simple activities may tire you out as if you had just run a marathon and this fatigue may also be associated with difficulty falling or staying asleep.


3.      Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Everyone feels lightheaded from time to time, like when you haven’t eaten recently or if you stand up too fast. But, sudden unsteadiness that’s accompanied by chest discomfort or shortness of breath could be a sign of a heart attack. This occurs when your blood pressure drops because your heart cannot pump the way it should.


4.      Indigestion and/or nausea

The feelings of a heart attack might mimic what you’ve experienced with acid reflux, indigestion or an upset stomach. These symptoms may also include vomiting with no relief. If you find yourself reaching for Tums or Pepto Bismol and your symptoms don’t improve, or if you get worse with time, that may mean you are experiencing a heart attack.


5.      Pain in unusual places, like the stomach, jaw, neck or shoulder

Women are often more likely to experience pain-related heart attack symptoms in unusual places like their jaw, neck, shoulder or even stomach. When there is a problem in the heart, the nerves may fire to different areas in the body, resulting in pain that diffuses into different locations. If the origin of the pain in these locations is hard to pinpoint, get it checked out to be safe. Women may also experience pain in either arm – not just the left arm like many men report. This pain may be sudden and wake you up at night, as well.


6.      Shortness of breath and/or sweating, with or without chest pain

While shortness of breath and sweating are common symptoms women can experience after exercise, if you are experiencing these symptoms with no exertion, it may indicate signs of a heart attack. Shortness of breath may worsen over time and feel severe when laying down and improve a bit after sitting up again. Sweating may also occur with shortness of breath, with chest pain or sometimes even alone. Heart attack-related sweating may produce a clammy, cold sweat feeling that is difficult to distinguish from anxiety. However, it is always safer to get it checked out by a doctor.


Heart attack risk factors

There are a few risk factors that may put you at a greater risk to experience heart attacks. If you’re at risk, you should be extra vigilant about the signs and symptoms associated with heart attacks in women. Risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of heart disease


Ways to reduce your risk and improve heart health

Lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Here are two ways to take control and keep your heart healthy for years to come.


Exercise and move more

Exercise helps you heart by improving your blood circulation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and more. You should aim for at least 30 minutes, but ideally an hour, of physical activity and movement every day. This could be a trip to the gym, a workout class, or even just a long walk around the block. Even making small modifications to your daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can make a big impact on your heart health. And, if you stick to them, they can help you start a new, heart-healthy lifestyle.


Eat right

For heart-healthy food that tastes great, a good place to start is the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet has you consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while cutting back on processed foods, sweets and red meat. D.A.S.H Diet foods include:

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and oats
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes including kidney beans,
    lentils, sunflower seeds and almonds
  • Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes
  • Fruits such as avocado, bananas, dates and oranges
  • Low-fat milk and plain yogurt
  • Fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy


Trust Sun Health Wellness and live well

At Sun Health Wellness, we provide comprehensive help for many common health conditions, including heart attacks. A Wellness Advocate can guide you through the resources we provide, in addition to helping you locate community resources as well. Call (623)-471-9355 or contact us to set up your complimentary one-on-one consultation with a Wellness Advocate today.