Located between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America, Costa Rica boasts a proud culinary heritage. Many scorn Costa Rica food selections for being high in saturated fats, but in actuality Costa Ricans are far more active than other cultures.

Costa Rican’s, locally called Ticos, never eat excessively. Limiting their portions is one way they stay so healthy. Also, lunch is the most important meal of their day. In fact, like many Latin nations, businesses and schools close down for a couple of hours at lunch so that employees and students can go home and have a leisurely meal with their family. This allows both a strong focus on family life, but also on slowing down a meal. In America, a typical school lunch lasts a mere twenty minutes at most and work breaks are usually an hour tops, so many must eat at their desk or machine. A Costa Rican’s lifestyle is completely different.

Costa Rica food often revolves around rice and beans, such as Gallo Pinto, a dish that translates to “Spotted Rooster”. Gallo Pinto is a dish that includes black beans at a three to two ratio to rice. Also added are onions, garlic, and salt. Meats are eaten sparingly, while beans provide a high content of fiber. Fiber can help counteract the saturated fats. Costa Rica food choices rarely include dairy or cheese.

As Costa Rica has water on both sides with the Pacific to the west and the Caribbean to the east, fresh seafood is always available. Unfortunately, the seafood is also extremely expensive as the country exports the bulk of its seafood. Chicken, pork, and beef are the more popular meats. Costa Rica food supplies use organ meat as well; so expect to find dishes involving stomach, brains, and other organs on the menu. Other staples of Costa Rica food choices include fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and a variety of beans, fruits, including plantains, and rice.

Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, is packed with outstanding restaurants and cafes. In San Jose, one can experience bold foods and beverages. Staple beverages such as sugarcane soaked in hot water are second only to the nation’s delicious Costa Rican coffee. Drinks mixing corn meal and milk are also common. Plantains are similar to bananas in appearance, but they cannot be eaten raw. Plantains are pounded flat, battered, and fried tender.

As one travels to other regions, the choices for Costa Rica food also decrease and become more traditional with the beans and rice dishes. Beans and rice dishes are usually served alongside a carrot and cabbage or lettuce and tomato salad. Sometimes Arroz, (fried shrimp or chicken), are found on the table instead of beans and rice. The salads are typically larger than the portion of beans and rice and that helps the Ticos to stay fit.

It is possibly to choose healthy selections of Costa Rica food. Stick to plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and enjoy the delightful blend of culinary flavors.

Tea’s origin was China. The Zhuo (1034-246 BCE) Qin (361-296 BCE) and Han (206 BCE-226 CE) Dynasties all embodied extensive tea-drinking. Tea use for medicinal nutritional, health, fitness and longevity purposes is determined via the ‘Wuxing’ or 5 Elements School system underpinning (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Health Qigong, Feng Shui, Keep-fit, Wu-Shu-Kung Fu, Chinese herb-use and more.

Chinese tea, purchased in boxes of sachets or in delightful crystallised blocks involves an astounding number of forms tastes, textures, herbal and nutritional ingredients. Applications-including for health, youthfulness and longevity are guaranteed by the long history of TCM. The history of the 5 Elements or ‘Wuxing’ is longer still.

Drunk at home or work Chinese tea is delightful. Consumed at Tea Houses like ‘Up Tea!’ situated in Little Newport Street is London’s Chinatown such tea-drinking can be a delightful experience.

Tea, Health and the Wuxing

The 5 Elements School ‘Wuxing’ links each of the body’s 5 major internal organs (and much more) to Elements as follows: spleen (Earth) lungs (Metal) kidneys (Water) liver (Wood) and heart (Fire). The Wuxing is a proven internal and external balancing health-system. Many teas involve remedies to cure or prevent common complaints, or encourage optimum health, youthfulness and longevity springing from the 5 Elements system still in popular and official use today.

INSTANT CHRYSANTHEMUM BEVERAGE (ju hua cha)

This chrysanthemum tea comprises 45% dried flower extract crystallised upon 55% cane sugar. Chrysanthemum tea treats irritation and inflammation in the lungs, nasal passageways and throat via its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It also encourages improved vision and helps to cleanse the liver in particular.

Wuxing Students learn how eyes and liver are inter-connected, correspond to the Wood Element and can be both naturally nourished by ju hua cha. They also practise 5 Elements Qigong routines with similar effects.

TIEN-CHI (Heaven Energy) GINSENG FLOWER TEA (ren shen cha)

Tien-chi Ginseng (Panax pseudoginseng) ginseng tea variety from southwestern China is mainly cultivated in Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces. Tien-chi plant root is used as a health product for regulating blood circulation. The flower functions as a heat clearing and toxin cleansing herb used to reduce inflammation, feverish feelings, skin eruptions and sore throats.

XIAMEN GREEN TEA (lu cha)

Green tea stimulates the heart in particular, aids digestion and banishes fatigue. Encouraging the body to metabolize more fat and thus much used in dieting and slimming, green tea also encourages longevity and general bodily detoxification.

However as it slightly inhibits iron-absorbption from the diet, green tea should be avoided by anaemia sufferers and women during their menstrual period

JASMINE FLOWER TEA (mo li hua cha)

There are several distinct jasmine tea varieties including green, jade or black. Good for oral hygiene and palate cleansing (before after or during eating) Jasmine tea’s highly aromatic soothing nature also stimulates digestion, encourages relaxation and helps prevent insomnia.

MORNING STAR GINGER BEVERAGE (sheng jiang cha)

Ginger tea stimulates and balances the activity of the heart, lungs and spleen in particular and assists the balanced functioning of the 5 major internal organs as a system in a tonic fashion. Its anti bacterial properties also make it a popular cold and flu remedy.

LUO HAN GUO EXTRACT TEA (luo han cha)

Luo Han Guo (luohanguo) aka ‘Monk Fruit’ (one of many longevity links) is member of the Gourd Plant Family and a fruit well-known for its sweet taste. Luo han cha. It is also well-known medicinally for treating coughs and sore throats and also encouraging longevity. Luohanguo has more recently been developed into a low-calorie sweetener.

When prepared this tea, dark brown and toffee-tasting, can be drunk hot or cold.

CHONG JI 5 FLOWERS TEA (wu hua cha)

This blend of 5 Chinese medicinal herbs cleans away internal heat, encourages diuresis and detoxification. It can also be used to treat sore eyes, sore throats, dysentery and constipation. Delivered concentrated upon cane sugar crystals it has a pleasant caramel taste

Overall

Drinking Chinese Tea in accord with Elements theory enhances health, youthfulness and longevity in many related ways. 5 Elements Qigong provides internal breathing and external massage routines towards the same ends.

The above brands and types of tea are readily purchaseable at your local Chinese Supermarkets the teas’ Chinese names appear in brackets. They are all inexpensive, represent tremendous value for money, are the real thing and offer the true ‘thrill of the swill’!

 

Being a Health and Fitness Professional, it is my job to understand terms and definitions which are commonplace to this industry, as well to keep abreast of evolving trends. Through my experience, I have found that a number of terms deserve a little more clarification than that which they are granted.

Aside from clarifying the definition of Health Related Fitness, this article intends to shed some light on a few of the associated terms, and to show their respective distinctions.

Is it simply all in a name?

The fitness world seems to use the concept Health Related Fitness like a generic fitness principle – interchangeable with others like “Physical Fitness”, “Health and Fitness” or simply “Fitness.”

While all of these terms can be included under the broad term Health and Physical Fitness, they individually refer to different aspects – both generic and specific. Unfortunately, references to these and other fitness-related terms are often vague, while consistency in their intended use is meager at best; there is a kind of “generally accepted” use for them, but individuals often rely on own interpretation, and this can lead to confusion.

With that said, does Health Related Fitness simply infer fitness by means of good health? Not quite. That is why we need to understand a little more behind these words before digesting the definition.

How did the term Health Related Physical Fitness come about?

That is a good question. One could probably ask what is this concept all about – can we not simply use the terms “Fitness” or “Physical Fitness” instead?” Why Health “Related”?

The main reason stems from the fact that most health and fitness terms are used inconsistently and often refer to different concepts or notions. Subsequent to the 1996 report from the US Surgeon General (Physical Activity and Health; a report of the Surgeon General), there was a move to try and address the alarming rise in obesity levels among the general American public. Studies and initiatives required standardization among clinicians, health practitioners and fitness trainers to grapple with the task at hand. Enter “Health Related Physical Fitness”, a working term to address the general state of health among the public.

The definition of Health Related Fitness

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the main authority in this field, ineffective definitions with unclear and subjective wordings, as well as definitions containing terms which themselves require defining, have contributed to confusing the term “Physical Fitness.”

There exists no reliable guide for Health and Fitness Professionals to measure “Physical Fitness”, because the term has been so loosely and inconsistently defined. It is therefore that one should consider the concept of Health Related Fitness. The definition therefore centers on the 5 Components of Physical Fitness which relate to “good health.” These Components are:

  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Body Composition
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance

On the other hand, Skill Related Fitness Components are:

  • Balance
  • Reaction Time
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Speed
  • Power

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of Physical Fitness emphasizes the difference between Health Related Physical Fitness and Athletic Ability Physical Fitness. Its point-of-departure is the “health” of the US nation, which is often referred to as the “public health perspective.” In that respect, the 5 Health Related Fitness Components are more important than those related to Athletic Ability (or Skill Related Components).

Although the concept of Health Related Fitness has an integral association with “good health”, the 5 Components are addressed individually by health professionals to allow for their measurement.

Now that we have a deeper understanding of the term, what purpose does it serve?

Continuing from where the definition left off, the objective of measuring the 5 Components is to advise clients about their own particular Health Related Fitness, and to use data obtained from the tests to design appropriate exercise programs which can then be evaluated.

The 5 Components contribute evenly to make up a holistic Health Related Fitness, which is of direct interest to the health of the ordinary citizen, in that the concept is normative. In other words, it is a standard which allows for consistent application.

It is therefore important for those working in the health and fitness industry not to mistake “overall physical fitness” with “Health Related Physical fitness.”

To conclude, let us consider this distinction between Physical Fitness and Health Related Fitness

One needs to bear in mind that regular physical exercise can improve overall Physical Fitness, as well as Health Related Fitness. However, overall fitness is a generic term and is up to subjective interpretation, while Health Related Fitness can be assessed.

The distinction therefore, between these two terms, exists in that Health Related Physical Fitness can be measured according to a set of established comparative norms.

This is where the “rubber hits the road.” The guidelines set out by the ACSM enable health professionals to work with clients to assess and measure their response to exercise and prescribe appropriate exercise programs. A client’s progress can then be monitored and adjusted where necessary in order to obtain the desired fitness goals.

 

In the age which we live there is an unprecedented focus on getting and staying healthy. As more and more research points to the effect of fitness and nutrition on our overall health, the findings become more difficult to ignore. There is no doubt that the food that we eat and the physical activity that we perform significantly impact our weight and our body’s overall health and longevity.

When you look at fitness and nutrition and the consequences of ignoring their importance, it is not difficult to see how large a role they play in our health. First and foremost, it is important to understand how powerfully diet can affect us. Natural, whole foods – such as fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins – give our bodies the vitamins that it needs to function effectively. We have energy when we eat right. And when we have energy we burn fat. Eating properly allows us to maintain a healthy weight and keep undue stress off of our hearts; it also allows us to keep our blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the healthy range. Most importantly, good nutrition keeps our bodies stocked with antioxidants that fight off a range of illnesses including cancer.

But nutrition does go it alone; fitness and nutrition go hand in hand for achieving good health. When we keep our bodies active through a consistent exercise program, we are adding to our body’s ability to metabolize food and keep weight down. Further, good fitness means strong and limber muscles and a strong cardiovascular system. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and reduces stress levels.

Learning how to pair fitness and nutrition for optimum health means a commitment to a particular lifestyle. It is essential that you revamp your diet to eliminate fatty, high-sodium, and processed food and replace it with fresh, natural – and even organic – choices. But remember, fitness and nutrition work best as a team. Implement a consistent regime of physical activity into your daily schedule including cardiovascular work, stretching, weight training, and even yoga or Pilates.

When you truly understand the importance of fitness and nutrition in your life, you will understand how crucial these lifestyle changes are in order to live a long and healthy life.