Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of deaths in the world accounting to 17.7 million people dying of the disorder of the heart and blood vessels every year. Though a leading global killer, most CVDs can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, and harmful consumption of alcohol. As we celebrate Philippine Heart Health Month this February, we emphasize the need to protect our heart. A study from Harvard Medical School suggested to start with ten small steps which people of all ages can easily follow:

1. Take a 10-minute walk. A brief walk is a great way to start the day even if you don’t exercise.

2. Lift yourself up, and some weights too. Lifting a two-pound weight a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles. When you start to become used to it, you can move on to heavier items by joining a gym as strength training helps condition your heart to be more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout the body.

3. Eat more fruits or vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are cheap, ready available, nutritious, and good for both your brain and body. By eating more fruit, you avoid consuming more calories, more sugar, more unhealthy fats.

4. Start your day with breakfast. Start the day with fruit and whole grains such as oatmeal, cereal, or whole-wheat bread. Whole grains help lower blood cholesterol levels and lessens heart disease risk.

5. Hold the caloric drinks. Cutting out one glass of sugar-sweetened beverage or calorie-filled coffee can easily save you 100 or more calories a day.

6. Have a handful of nuts. Having a craving for chips and cookies? Try to grab a handful of nuts instead. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts contain unsaturated fats, which are the good guys You can also add them to salads for a healthful and tasty crunch.

7. Check what’s under the sea. Eat fish and other types of seafood instead of red meat once a week. It's good for the heart, the brain, and the waistline.

8. Breathe calmly and deeply. Take time gather your thoughts and breathe. Slow and deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure and calm your mind.

9. Wash your hands. Washing your hands with soap and water regularly is a great way to protect your heart and health. Flu, pneumonia, colds, and other infections can have an impact on your heart.

10.Take it easy. When life gives you lemons, try tapping into other positive emotions. Positivity has been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, the same way anger, worry, hostility, and negative emotions could trigger high blood pressure and heart disease.

 Achieving a healthier heart and a healthier life doesn’t need to be costly. By starting small and maintaining your drive to do it every day, it gets easier and you get to go for larger goals.

Live healthy, live longer

Making just a few changes in your lifestyle can help you live longer.

A recent study found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.

Fortunately, you can do something to correct these and other unhealthy behaviors. Adopt the following nine habits to keep your body looking and feeling young.

Don't overeat

If you want to live to 100, leaving a little bit of food on your plate may be a good idea. Author Dan Buettner, who studies longevity around the world, found that the oldest Japanese people stop eating when they are feeling only about 80% full.

St. Louis University researchers have confirmed that eating less helps you age slower; in a 2008 study they found that limiting calories lowered production of T3, a thyroid hormone that slows metabolism—and speeds up the aging process.

Get busy

Having satisfying sex two to three times per week can add as many as three years to your life. Getting busy can burn an impressive amount of calories—sometimes as much as running for 30 minutes. (Which would you rather do?)

Regular sex may also lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, boost your immunity, and protect your heart.

Turn off the TV

Too much time in front of the boob tube can take a serious toll on your health. In fact, a 2010 study found that people who watched four or more hours a day were 46% more likely to die from any cause than people who watched less than two hours a day.

Even cutting back a little can help; each additional hour you watch increases your overall risk of dying by 11% and dying from heart disease by 18%.

Stay out of the sun

Avoiding too much sun can head off skin cancer, and it can also keep you looking young by preventing wrinkles, fine lines, and saggy skin.

It’s never too early—or too late—to add sunscreen to your daily skin-care regimen (look for an SPF of 30 or higher). And don’t focus only on your face. Sun damage spots and splotches on your chest and neck will also make you appear older.

Reach out

Research shows that you’re at greater risk of heart disease without a strong network of friends and family. Loneliness can cause inflammation, and in otherwise healthy people it can be just as dangerous as having high cholesterol or even smoking.

Loneliness seems to pose the greatest risk for elderly people, who are also prone to depression.


Drink in moderation

Women who have two or more drinks a day and men who have three or more may run into detrimental effects ranging from weight gain to relationship problems. But in smaller quantities, alcohol can actually be good for you.

A 2010 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology linked light drinking (defined as one drink a day for women and two for men) to significant heart benefits.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Getting fewer than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day can eat away at your health. Nutritional powerhouses filled with fiber and vitamins, fruits and veggies can lower your risk of heart disease by 76% and may even play a role in decreasing your risk of breast cancer.

As an added bonus, the inflammation-fighting and circulation-boosting powers of the antioxidants in fruits and veggies can banish wrinkles.

Focus on fitness

Daily exercise may be the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. A 2008 study found that regular high-intensity exercise (such as running) can add up to four years to your life, which isn’t surprising given the positive effects working out has on your heart, mind, and metabolism.

Even moderate exercise—a quick, 30-minute walk each day, for example—can lower your risk of heart problems.

Don’t smoke

Quitting smoking is perhaps the single most important thing you can do for your health—and your life span. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that women who quit smoking by age 35 add roughly six to eight years to their lives.

It’s never too late to kick the habit. Quitting can slow disease and increase survival odds even in smokers who have already caused significant damage to their lungs, like those with early lung cancer or COPD.



With good food habits and daily physical activity you will be well on your way to a healthy life.  Easy to say, but sometimes not so easy to do!


Our busy lifestyles can be hard on our family’s health. Rushing to and from school and work can make it hard to find time to be physically active. We can also slip into the habit of choosing unhealthy snacks and take-away foods or spending our free time watching TV or in front of the computer.


However, these choices can be dangerous for our health and our children’s health – both now and in the long-term. That’s why it’s so important to stop, take stock and make a conscious decision to follow a healthy lifestyle.


How to lead a healthy lifestyle

There are five simple ways for your family to lead a healthy lifestyle and get back on track:


1. Get active each day

·         Regular physical activity is important for the healthy growth, development and well-being of children and young people.

·         They should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including vigorous activities that make them ‘huff and puff’.

·         Include activities that strengthen muscles and bones on at least 3 days of the week.

·         Parents should be good role models and have a positive attitude to being active.


2. Choose water as a drink

·         Water is the best way to quench your thirst – and it doesn’t come with the added sugar found in fruit juices, soft drinks and other sweetened drinks.

·         Reduced fat milk for children over two is a nutritious drink and a great source of calcium.

·         Give kids whole fruit to eat, rather than offering fruit juices that have a lot of sugar.


3. Eat more fruit and vegetables

·         Eating fruit and vegetables every day helps children grow and develop, boosts their vitality and can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.

·         Aim to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day.

·         Have fresh fruit available as a convenient snack and try to include fruit and vegies in every meal.


4. Switch off the screen and get active

·         Sedentary or ‘still’ time spent watching TV, surfing online or playing computer games is linked to kids becoming overweight or obese.

·         Children and young people should spend no more than two hours a day on ‘small screen’ entertainment. Break up long periods of use as often as possible.

·         Plan a range of active indoor and outdoor games or activities for your children, as alternatives to watching TV or playing on the computer.


5. Eat fewer snacks and select healthier alternatives

·         Healthy snacks help children and young people meet their daily nutritional needs.

·         Snacks based on fruit and vegetables, reduced fat dairy products and whole grains are the healthiest choices.

·         Avoid snacks that are high in sugar or saturated fats – such as chips, cakes and chocolate – which can cause children to put on excess weight.










How can I tell if I am overweight? What are the diseases that fat people are prone to? — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

At present, Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most widely utilized gauge in determining whether a person is overweight or obese. For a long, long time, experts used standard sex and age-adjusted height and weight tables to estimate a person’s “ideal” body weight, but in 1985, the US National Institute of Health recommended BMI to measure obesity because it is a more accurate estimate of a person’s body fat than the traditional tables. In 1997, the World Health Organization jumped on the BMI bandwagon.

How to compute and interpret BMI

You can compute for your BMI by dividing your weight (in kilograms) with the square of your height (in meters). BMI cut-off values vary from country to country. For adult Filipinos and Southeast Asians, they are as follows: Underweight – BMI of less than 18.5; Normal – BMI of 18.5 to 22.9; Over-weight or Pre-obese – BMI of 23 to 24.9; Class I obese – BMI of 25 to 29.9; and Class II obese – BMI of 30 or higher

Limitations of BMI

BMI is a reasonable indicator of body fat, but many experts do not recommend its use as a diagnostic tool. That’s because BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle—the weighing scale needle moves for both. Broad-framed and muscular people, including athletes, are often labeled overweight by BMI calculations. Yet, they do not have the level of body fat that will threaten their health. BMI also underestimates the threat for people who are skinny but have big bellies. Researches show that belly fat is in fact more dangerous for health than excess fat elsewhere in the body.

Results of a study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health showed that using BMI as the lone measure for obesity missed 50 percent of cases of people who had what was determined to be the amount of fat that could be dangerous to their health.


If BMI is not a reliable measure of body fat, what is?

There are more exact ways to measure obesity, but they can be expensive. The DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry) Scan estimates lean tissue, bone, mineral, and fat across regions of the body with amazing accuracy, but it uses x-rays. Another accurate method is with the use of a machine for a bioelectrical impedance analysis, which runs an electric current through body tissue to determine fat composition. The Mayo Clinic meanwhile uses a Bod Pod, which takes measurements based on body volume.

How much body fat is allowable and why is excess fat bad?

On the average, fat accounts for only 14 to 17 percent of the body weight of physically fit male adults and 21 to 24 percent of the body weight of physically fit female adults. Males are obese if fat represents 25 percent or higher and females 32 percent or higher of their body weight.

Excess body fat entails numerous health risks. In fact, obesity is the single greatest contributor to chronic disease and it increases one’s risk of dying prematurely by two to three times. It contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, high blood levels of cholesterol, gallbladder disease, sexual and reproductive problems, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.

Obesity also impairs a person’s quality of life. Excess weight stresses the body’s joints particularly the hips, knees, and ankles, which results in or aggravates osteoarthritis. Excess weight is also a common cause of low back pain and is a predisposing factor to the development of varicose veins.

Practical ways to tell whether you have excess body fat

There are actually practical and fairly accurate ways to find out if you are fat or not. Measure your waist circumference at your belly button. If it is half your height or less, you are healthy, otherwise, you are fat. Alternately, look at your hip to waist ratio. If your waist is bigger than your hips, you are in trouble.

Email inquiries on health matters to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Written by: Eduardo Gonzales, MD


The rainy season brings about that tempting, lazy bed weather. People become less motivated to exercise. Why don’t you ladies spice up your weekend by planning a wellness party from scratch? It will not only bring out the fun and laughter but will also make you feel more energetic and beautiful. Working out with friends is always a good idea because it won’t feel like you’re exercising at all.

Begin by choosing an activity that you ladies will enjoy. It could be high intensity zumba or a calming yoga practice, whatever suits your preference or lifestyle. You have an option to hire a professional or play videos to guide your group throughout the workout.

Next comes the hydration and nourishment part, post workout. Toss the usual fruit, protein shake, or peanut butter sandwich you’re so used to having in the gym. After all, this is a party!

It’s unwise to drink alcohol post workout. Instead, serve any delightful non-alcoholic drink that will give you that fizz. I like May 100% Sparkling Grape Juice from Belgium or I combine sparkling water with Welch’s 100 % grape fruit juice. Have a drink or two of this wine substitute and hydrate yourself more with lots of fruit and vegetable infused water afterward.

Refuel yourselves with carbs, protein, good fats, and fiber. Here are two easy peasy recipes created by Doña Elena Olive Oil that will guarantee your guests to eat healthily and pleasurably post workout.

wellness party1

Shrimp Puttanesca Rice Bowl with Capers & Tomatoes


1 tbsp.pure olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 fillets anchovies, chopped

¼ pepper flakes

800g diced tomatoes

2 tbsp.capers, drained

¼ cup sliced black olives

1 lb.shrimp, shelled and deveined

¼ cup Italian parsley, minced

2 cups white rice, cooked


  1. Heat pure olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic, anchovy fillets, and red pepper flakes. Break anchovies using a wooden spoon. Cook for two minutes.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, capers, and sliced black olives. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens
  4. Add shrimp and simmer until just cooked through, turning partway through, about three minutes. Stir in the parsley.
  5. Divide rice between four bowls. Top each portion with ¼ of the shrimp puttanesca.

wellness party2

Fusilli with Anchovy Caper Sauce


1 pack Fusilli pasta, cooked
8 fillets anchovies, mashed
1/2 stickbutter
1 tbsp.pure olive oil
1/2 pc.white onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp.capers, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 pc.lemon, juiced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. dry tarragon
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
pasta water (from boiling pasta)
extra virgin olive oil


  1. Heat pan to medium low. Add a drizzle of pure olive oil and butter. When butter melts, add onion, garlic, 1/2 the parsley (set aside other 1/2 of it for topping), tarragon and mashed anchovies and combine. (If using fillets, add them first and allow them to break apart in the butter before adding onions, garlic, and herbs.) Cover and cook until onions become somewhat soft.
  2. Add capers, cherry tomatoes, pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt, continue cooking uncovered.
  3. When the sauce begins to thicken, squeeze a little lemon juice on it and add a ladle of starchy pasta water from the pot and stir it in.
  4. Stir in the cooked fusilli pasta and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the remaining parsley, then toss until well combined.

After that exhilarating and gastronomic wellness party, don’t let your friends leave without taking home something that will make them remember their experience. A party is never complete without party favors, which, in my opinion, is like the cherry on top of the ice cream.

Prepare a beauty and wellness kit, each labeled with your guest’s name. You can get creatively feminine with the contents. It’s always best to give stuff that you yourself have tried. I’d throw in a good moisturizer like Jergens Hydrating Coconut Dry Skin Moisturizer; include a handy perfumed Caronia Hand Sanitizer which kills germs and moisturizes the skin; and add something that will help my friends stay fresh and odor free, all day everyday like the Jeunesse Anion Sanitary panty liners. You can add more health and beauty products depending on your preference and budget.

What are you waiting for? Gather around ladies! It’s time to plan your wellness party.

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Written by: Cheshire Que, RND, RN, RD

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