Personal Health Zone

Paying Attention to What You Eat and Getting Regular Exercise Affects More Than Your Waistline!

Studies show that the foods we eat and the exercise (mental and physical) we get can help our brains work better, our hearts and bodies be healthier and help us overall feel better.

Many of the illnesses that we treat with medications today can be better controlled and in some cases prevented by changing how we eat and exercise:

  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Alzheimers disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • High Triglycerides
  • Osteoporosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease


Calories aren’t everything! A diet low in fat and high in refined carbohydrates can make you gain more weight than the same number of calories from a higher fat diet (containing good fats) and eating carbohydrates primarily from vegetables and fruits. We now know that sugar and refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice can cause your body to use food less efficiently, store it as fat and cause you to gain weight.

You don’t want to go on a “diet.” You want to change your diet by reducing or removing the sugar (added sugar containing foods – sugar sweetened cereals, pop, fruit juices, salad dressings with sugar etc) the refined carbohydrates (low fiber) and trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) in your diet and replacing them with real food.

Do you know how many calories you eat everyday and what foods have the most sugar in them? Take a few days to look at food labels and write down everything that you eat and drink. Click here for a printable food journal page. Or even easier, visit a website that will keep track of your food choices and give you a breakdown of nutrients. Click here to go to and click on track. Or try Choose at least 1 weekend day and 1 week day because diets vary on weekdays and weekend days.

Are you curious if you are eating too much or too little? To get a ballpark idea of how many calories that you should eat in a day based on how much you currently weight and how active you are, Visit Ask the Dietician Website at fill in the questions it asks and put their Healthy Body Calculator to work for you. (If you don’t have a computer or don’t know how to use the internet, we can help you fill this information out at Kemper Drug). You will be provided with a printout of the total number of calories that you should be eating along with essential nutrients.

Do you recommend any good healthy eating guide books? The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor. He explains that all calories are not the same, and that focusing on the kinds of foods you are eating, rather than just the quantity of food, can boost brain power, help lose weight and promotes long term health. Also, The Blood Sugar Solution 10 Day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman. The theory here is that the first step you need to take is to get your hormones in better working order to reduce food cravings and insulin swings.

Podcasts are fun to listen to while you are exercising or riding in your car. They can help you stay engaged and provide you with useful healthy lifestyle information. Some that I like are:
Sane Show: Welcome to Wellness 2.0!
Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous
Dishing Up Nutrition
Diet Science

How much exercise is enough? Keep in mind that no amount of exercise can totally reverse the effects of an unhealthy diet. To keep your body healthy, 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (brisk walking for most people)is sufficient. If you are short on time, you can exercise harder for a shorter amount of time. You want to exercise on 5 days a week. The exercise does not have to be all at once – it can be 10 minutes before or after meals. It is important to not sit for long periods during the day – try to be more active and stand more.

Add Strength Training and Resistance Exercise to help build muscle, improve balance and use calories better. It is important to include this in your exercise program 1 to 3 times weekly on non-consecutive days.

Can I exercise too much? It is good to be active and 150 minutes a week should be looked at as a minimum. Too much exercise however, can be stressful on your body and increased stress hormone (cortisol) can lead to weight gain.

Can exercise affect medication for blood pressure or diabetes? Medications can affect how your body reacts to exercise. Ask your Pharmacist or Doctor or Dietician for advice on your specific medication.

I have put together a list of websites that can help you learn more about how the way you eat and exercise can affect you. This isn’t about losing weight – although it could be a good side effect from changing how you eat and exercise. Remember, making small changes can have big results.

If after looking at these websites you have questions or need help making changes to how you eat, you can schedule an appointment to sit down and talk about it. Call 763-441-1353 or email Wendy at Kemper Drug

The first website I suggest is The Nutrition Source. This is a Website maintained by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Aside from not smoking, the most important determinants of good health are what we eat and how active we are. The Nutrition Source is designed to get you started down the path toward the healthiest diet possible.

The second website I suggest is an Ask the Dietician Website. This website will help you figure out approximately how many calories you should eat in a day. Have a tape measure ready and think hard about how active your lifestyle is. One of its strengths is that it can let you decide what percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The number of calories you eat is only part of the key to healthy eating.

For information on the composition of different foods go to Nutrition Facts and Calorie Counter This site provides complete nutritional information for any food or recipe