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Healthy habits have immediate impact on body

May 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Your body responds quickly to positive changes, but how quick?"First of all, if you cut your calories, your insulin level drop, you don't hang on to so much salt and water, and you immediately feel more energy, you feel more bounce in your step," said Dr. David Heber, UCLA professor of medicine.

Heber says start with breakfast.

"If you eat more protein for breakfast and you've been skipping breakfast, you're going to feel more energy in your brain that very first day," Heber said.

Another way to improve health is to cut saturated fat found in meats, cheese and other animal proteins, which produces LDL - the bad cholesterol associated with heart disease.

"If I took a blood sample for most people after they'd eaten a fast food meal, it's going to look like creamy clam chowder with a little bit of tomato sauce in it because there's so much fat circulating our body. It's the wrong fat," Heber said.

Cut saturated fat to just 7 percent of your daily calories, and you can see cholesterol improvements in as little as three months. Piece together adding more produce to your life, and you can see benefits in two weeks.

"They're giving you a lot of vitamins, a lot of minerals, they're very, very low calorie for the amount of food that you are able to eat," said dietician Susan Bowerman from the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.

Bowerman says add fruit to your cereal, lettuce and tomato to your sandwich, and have a salad with your dinner. It's all easy extras.

The natural antioxidants will help protect the heart, while blood pressure can drop with the boost of potassium in the blood that fights the ill effects of sodium.

Slashing salt intake to 1,500 milligrams daily can drastically reduce the risk of hypertension, which over time leads to heart disease.

And while most people take seven to nine attempts, losing the smokes improves health almost immediately. Carbon monoxide in blood drops, oxygen levels increase and lungs become more clear in as little as two weeks.

Lose the smokes, salt and saturated fat, your body will see results pretty fast, and if you add a walking program and strength training to your life, you can gain benefits in as little as 90 days.

Pick your favorite activity to earn a healthier heart, stronger muscles, reduced body fat, cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

"Try to focus mostly on the trip, and not so much on where you are trying to go," Bowerman said. "You have to remember too that you've had these habits for a long time, so you're not going to just suddenly stop them. It's an evolving process."


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