August Healthy Living: Burn More Calories with Less Stress; Family Time; Live Longer; and The Freshness of Fruit & Veggies

Plus3's monthly health tips are brought to you by Amy Bertram, a Wellness Specialist in North Carolina. Learn more about Amy on LinkedIn. 



Stress Eaters Beware: You May Burn Fewer Calories

Comfort food may not be so comforting to our bodies. Research suggests that for a day after being under extreme stress, people have slower metabolisms and burn fewer calories. On top of that, regularly eating high-fat meals after being stressed could lead to additional weight gain, the researchers said. (1)


The study involved women who reported that they had experienced stress in the past day, such as arguments with coworkers or spouses, disagreements with friends, trouble with children, or work stress. Over the next seven hours, the researchers measured participants' metabolic rates, a number that shows how fast the body is burning calories and fat. The researchers also measured the participants' levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin, and the stress hormone cortisol.


The participants who reported one or more stressors during the past day burned on average 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women over the course of the day. They also had higher levels of insulin and lower rates of burning fat, suggesting they were storing more fat.


Since some amount of stress in our lives is unavoidable, the best course of action is to monitor what you eat in those situations. Have healthy foods on hand to fuel your body appropriately (and kindly) when your brain and heart are taxed. Though ice cream might sound satisfying initially, grabbing an apple will ultimately make you happier. Be sure to take deep breaths to slow down your heart rate and reframe your circumstances.



August is National Family Meals Month

One of the best things you can do for your family is simply eat dinner together. That simple act, done on a regular basis, has been shown to decrease drug use and promiscuous activity, and increase stability, security, nutrition, and socialization in kids.


If you do not have family nearby, invite someone to enjoy a meal with you at home. What a great way to grow relationships and share healthy food ideas. Regularly engaging with others is a surefire way to stay young and vibrant.


Check out for some great ideas.


More Muscle Mass Linked to Longer Life

The more muscle mass older adults have, the lower their risk of death, according to a new study. (1)


Researchers analyzed data from more than 3,600 older adults who took part in the study. The participants included men 55 and older and women 65 and older.


People with the highest levels of muscle mass were significantly less likely to have died than those with the lowest levels of muscle mass.


"In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death." stated study co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, "Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass."


However, the study only shows correlation and not causation, meaning that the lower muscle mass didn't necessarily cause death, but was associated with it. It could be that the study participants who had higher muscle mass were also eating healthier, sleeping more, or going to their physician regularly. Regardless, increasing muscle mass can only serve to increase metabolism and decrease injury risk.

Muscle mass here does not indicate size, but only over-all composition. So don't worry about increasing the size of your muscles, necessarily, but the strength of them. And your muscle cannot turn to fat, as muscle and fat are separate tissues.


The best way to increase muscle mass is by doing a weight-bearing activity using your own body-weight, such as squats, lunges, planks, and pushups. It can also include lifting weights. Dumbbells and exercise bands are very readily available at stores such as Walmart, Marshalls, and sporting goods stores. Feel free to email me for more ideas:


1) U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 & 1994.



Do Your Fresh Fruit and Veggies Lose Their Freshness?

It drives me nuts when my strawberries get mushy before I can eat them. Or my lettuce gets brown and limp. So I loved discovering this cool guide to storing fresh produce by a registered dietician. Maggie Michalczyck, RD, shares the following guidelines for making the most of fresh produce:



Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, radishes, corn, and leafy greens belong in the bottom drawer in a plastic or reusable produce bag. This is the coldest area of the fridge..

  • Apples, pears, kiwis, and melon go in the upper drawers.

  • Peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and cucumbers go in the middle drawers.

  • Celery, asparagus, green beans, yellow squash and eggplant go right above the middle drawer.

  • Mushrooms go in a paper bag where they can breathe, not in a plastic one.

  • Store berries on top shelf so they are easy to see—they go bad the fastest.Counter

Once fruit ripens, it can go into the fridge to slow down the ripening and thus spoiling process. Bananas are great to peel and throw into a Ziploc bag and put in the freezer once they are mushy. Perfect for smoothies. I am attaching a handy-dandy guide for storing produce that you can print and post at home or the office.


Check out for more tips. You can also download a great guide to help you by clicking here (PDF).



Bananas, persimmons, pomegranates, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, spaghetti squash, peaches, plums, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, garlic, and avocados.

  • These do not like cold or direct sunlight, so watch where you place them on the counter.

  • Once these are cut, store them in the fridge.

  • Keep garlic and onions away from other produce, as they produce a gas that causes other fruit and veggies to ripen too quickly.

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