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January 10, 2020

ASU Professors on Mindfulness, Heart Health, Quitting Smoking, and More

The hard part of setting goals for the New Year isn’t necessarily deciding which resolutions to make — it’s keeping them. Fortunately, Arizona State University is full of experts in everything from heart health to screen time to mindfulness.

So if you’re in the market to make lifestyle changes in 2020, here are some expert suggestions from ASU’s College of Health Solutions and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, along with helpful tips. to enforce them.

Be more attentive

Before you start getting discouraged or dismissing New Year’s resolutions as a lost cause, ASU Wellness Manager and Edson College professor Teri Pipe advises you to take a moment and consider the self-acceptance as the first step towards personal growth.

“Resolutions often take us to a place of negativity or addressing a perceived weakness,” she said. “Instead, remember that you can accept yourself for who you are and at the same time be inspired to become a better, more generous, or deeper version of yourself. Self-acceptance and becoming a better person are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they go hand in hand.

And as founding director of ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience, Pipe knows that practicing mindfulness has benefits for both mind and body.

Improve your heart health

Short on time but still want to keep your ticker in top condition? Do not be afraid. Assistant Professor Siddhartha Angadi of the College of Health Solutions is conducting research on the effects of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT – characterized by short bursts of intense activity – on cardiovascular and metabolic physiology in severe chronic diseases .

He found that not only can shorter bouts of physical activity produce the same benefits as longer bouts, but if the shorter bouts go from a moderate level (something akin to a brisk walk) to a vigorous level (where you are almost out of breath but not quite) they may even produce more health benefits than longer, moderate bouts.

“Less can be more for a fitter,” Angadi said. “Just 10 minutes of high-intensity interval training three times a week can improve your cardiovascular and metabolic fitness.”

Get more fiber

Although he recently published work outlining a new tool that allows consumers to weigh both the nutritional quality and environmental impact of protein, Chris Wharton, assistant dean of innovation and strategic initiatives at the College of Health Solutions said the average person probably doesn’t need to worry much about their protein intake.

“Chances are you’re doing pretty well getting (more than) enough protein,” he said. Instead, focus on fiber. Adults should get 30-50 grams daily, mostly from vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes, and fruits for the best health returns.

You may not be the most popular dinner guest, but, he said, “the more gas you have, the healthier your diet.”

Reduce your screen time

If dieting isn’t your speed, Wharton suggests following a screen diet. He and his colleagues are working to develop more accurate ways to measure people’s screen time use, associated health effects and potential interventions.

According to Wharton, the benefits of disconnecting are exponential.

“Reducing the time you spend with screens simultaneously gives you time to plan healthier meals and cook, be active, and spend time with family, friends, and neighbors,” he said. declared. “Because screen time is one of the biggest sources of sedentary time behind sleep and work, it’s actually a gateway behavior. It’s really hard to be healthier in other areas of life if you don’t give yourself the time to pursue healthier habits. Your screens eat up all the time you need to be healthier and happier.

Reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy the health benefits

Apologies to Blue Man Group enthusiasts, but “Blue Zones” are not secretly designated practice spaces for indigo-hued performance artists. A relatively new term, “Blue Zone”, was coined by writer Dan Buettner in his 2005 National Geographic magazine cover story to describe areas of the world where people live longer than the average lifespan – from places like Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, California.

“Here is what no one in these societies has ever done: enter into ketosisKetosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body begins to burn fat for energy because it does not have enough carbohydrates to burn. The popular “ketogenic diet” is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that puts the body into a state of ketosis. or obsessed with going to the gym,” Wharton said. “Coming Home: Low-carb diets and cult exercise routines are do not the basis for a longer life and more functionality in old age.

Instead, Wharton suggests opting for a diet rich in fibrous plant foods and days grounded in modest, utilitarian physical activity.

“Enjoy your beans, avocados, salads and cereals,” he said. “Take walks for fun or hop on a bike to run errands. You’ll do incredible good for your health (and the environment).

Switch from processed foods to whole foods

More than just a grocery store fad, whole foods are plant foods—such as whole grains, tubers, legumes, fruits, and vegetables—that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible. Carol Johnston, professor of nutrition at the College of Health Solutions and associate dean for faculty success, suggests that transitioning to a whole, plant-based diet is easier than you might think.

Simply start by identifying heavily processed foods in your diet (convenience/quick foods, such as pre-packaged and/or frozen meals) and slowly decrease your reliance on these foods by introducing home food preparation and cooking into your routine. daily.

You can also gradually decrease the amount of animal products in your meals by exploring recipes that use plant proteins such as walnuts, edamame, quinoa, and hemp seeds. In particular, Johnston found mung beans to be an excellent protein supplement.

“The whole plant-based diet is flexible,” she said. “Focus on whole, plant-based foods and eat eggs, poultry, seafood, meat, and dairy sparingly; emphasize local/seasonal foods, meatless meals and colorful vegetables.

Stay hydrated

Most Arizonans know the immediate importance of hydration in the desert, but it turns out that drinking water can also have long-term health effects. Stavros Kavouras, assistant dean of higher education for the College of Health Solutions and professor of nutrition, directs the Hydration Sciences Laboratory at ASU, where he studies the impact of water consumption on health and performance, as well as its effects on chronic disease outcomes.

More recently, Kavouras discovered that drinking more water could improve the quality of life for patients with type 2 diabetes and potentially help prevent the disease in others.

He calls water “the forgotten nutrient” and was quoted in a May 2019 ASU Now article saying, “People forget to drink water, forget to study water, they just forget to… include water in anything. MyPlate, the current USDA nutrition guide, doesn’t even include water because every dietary guideline must be evidence-based and we have little evidence for water.

In order to make sure you’re well hydrated, Kavouras recommends monitoring the number of times you use the toilet throughout the day (if it’s been several hours and you haven’t used the toilet, that’s a indication that you have not drunk enough water), as well as the color of your urine: dark yellow urine indicates dehydration. He also suggests his own personal habit of keeping a tall glass of water in front of him at all times.

Sitting less, standing more

Sitting isn’t the new smoking — Associate Professor Matt Buman of the College of Health Solutions and his colleagues managed to debunk the insidious health myth in a paper published in September 2018 — but it can still harm your health. Sitting too much, Buman said, can lead to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure, all of which can be life-threatening.

Since many modern jobs require employees to be sedentary at a desk, Buman’s research focuses on developing interventions for excessive sitting in the workplace.

“While reducing your sitting time at work isn’t a substitute for regular exercise, getting enough sleep, or eating a healthy diet, it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Consider wearing comfortable shoes so you’re more likely to want to move throughout the day, breaking up long periods of concentrated work with a short standing or mobile break (as a bonus, the quick break can improve your focus and productivity), using the restroom on a different floor, or getting up to talk to your co-worker face-to-face instead of sending an email.

Get rid of this bad habit

Speaking of smoking… It’s 2020, not 1985. So maybe it’s time to finally say good riddance and dump that pack of Pall Malls (actually, you probably shouldn’t dump them; it could be bad for the environment and your plumbing.)

It’s a notoriously hard habit to kick, so don’t worry if you need a little help.

“Tobacco addiction is a tough addiction to break because even though there are far fewer smokers than before, it’s a legal drug and it’s a very addictive substance,” said Scott Leischow, a professor at the College. of Health Solutions, which runs Arizona Tobacco. Control Program in college and is a former Senior Adviser for Tobacco Policy at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

In a January 2019 opinion piece for JAMA, Leischow argued that varenicline, an anti-smoking drug, should be available over-the-counter because it is the most effective drug for quitting smoking. He is now in the middle of a three-year NIH-funded study to prove that point and hopefully get varenicline approved as an over-the-counter drug. Until then, you can always call the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline at 800-55-66-222.