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Best Natural Fruit Juices to Cleanse the Colon

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You don’t have to be a die-hard detoxer to do a typical colon cleanse. In fact, there are so many simple ways to cleanse the colon, finding a system to fit your individual level and goals should be a piece of cake. Speaking of sweet carby treats, if your goal is to slim down a few days before your Thanksgiving feast (just to give yourself some um, wiggle room), there are a number of quick and easy ways to get cleansed.


A pre-Thanksgiving cleanse can help you walk away from your feast feeling satisfied and energized, not bloated and sleepy!


Our vote for one of the easiest (and most natural) ways to cleanse the colon and detox the body is a fruit juice cleanse. While all fruit juices offer major health benefits, several are tops for cleansing the colon, and some are even tastier than you might think. 


Some of the best natural fruit juices to cleanse the colon are:


  • Apples - One small apple contains 17.4 percent of the daily value for fiber, as well as vitamin C.

  • Apricots - One tiny apricot contains 2.7 percent of the daily value for fiber along with vitamins A and C, plus potassium.

  • Oranges - One Orange contains 12.5 percent of the daily value for fiber, along with 116.1 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. Oranges also contain a good amount of folate, vitamin B1, potassium, vitamin A, and calcium.

  • Pears - A single pear contains a whopping 22 percent of the daily value for fiber, along with vitamins C and K.

  • Prunes - Just a half cup of prunes contains the most fiber of them all—nearly 25 percent of the daily value. These sweet dried plums also contain an impressive amount of vitamin K—nearly 65 percent of the daily value, and loads of potassium.

Boost the Power of a Natural Fruit Juice Cleanse


To enhance your natural fruit juice cleanse, try adding a few greens. Yes, greens! A popular pick is kale. This cruciferous vegetable is popular because it contains sulfur-rich phytonutrients that assist the liver with the detoxification process. And because kale is also fiber-rich, it helps cleanse the colon comfortably and naturally.


Finally, although the taste can be rather strong when eaten raw, a few kale bits blended into fresh fruit juice or a smoothie still offers plenty of benefits, without being too overpowering.


Other viable options include collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, parsley, and watercress—to name a few.


Make Your Fruit Juice Cleanse at Home 


All you need is a juicer and fresh organic fruits (and greens if you wish) to make the perfect fruit juice cleanse. For those of you with sensitivities to acidic fruits, skip the oranges and go for lower acid and higher alkaline fruits like apples, apricots, and pears.


And remember, everyone’s body detoxes differently. You may achieve good results with replacing one meal a day with a natural fruit juice blend, while others might need to replace two or three meals daily. Further, a 3-day cleanse may be enough for some, while others might need a week or more to achieve that light, clean detoxed feeling. In this case the Master Cleanse is indicated.


For more information about the fiber and nutrition content in other fruits, visit The World’s Healthiest Foods website at Whfoods.org

Benefits of Wheatgrass Detox

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Wheatgrass is a form of edible grass that is related to wheat. It is rich in minerals and other nutrients and is sold as a nutritional supplement. It is available as juice or in a powdered or tablet form. It has many nutritional and health benefits and is a healthy part of a body detox diet when you want to eliminate toxins from your body.


Nutrients
According to nutritionist Pat Reeves, wheatgrass is richer in vitamin C than oranges and contains twice as much vitamin A as carrots. It is also high is vitamins K, E and B-complex. This makes it an excellent source of nutrients for the elderly, who are at risk of malnourishment due to reduced appetite, medications, digestive disorders and diabetes.


Wheatgrass and Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis can cause severe malnutrition due to inadequate absorption of necessary vitamins and minerals. Wheatgrass can help to alleviate the symptoms of the digestive disease ulcerative colitis by reducing the inflammation of the colon.


Wheatgrass and the Immune System
As we grow older, our immune systems begin to change and become less responsive, putting us at greater risk of illness. Wheatgrass juice boosts the immune system. This can help fight off disease, viruses and infections.


Wheatgrass and Digestion
Many people suffer from digestive disorders such as indigestion, heart burn, acid reflux and constipation. Wheatgrass helps strengthen the digestive system, and is particularly helpful with the digestion of starches and proteins.


Wheatgrass and the Skin
Wheatgrass also helps maintain radiant and young looking skin and may also slow down the effects of aging and reduce wrinkles.


How to Take Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass juice must be drunk immediately after juicing, before the nutrients begin to deteriorate. If the flavor of wheatgrass juice is not to your liking you can mix your own drink with powdered wheatgrass by adding it to fruit juice. Wheat grass tablets are also available. The suggested dose for adults is 3grams per day.


pHion's Green Superfood contains wheat grass other grasses, veggies and sprouts, combining over 30 alkalinizing foods. It is a super alkalinizing, great tasting and raw, adding a concentraded amount of vital minerals and nutrients to your diet.


Heard About Any Good Detox Diets Lately?

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Detox devotees report that these diets didn’t leave them feeling deprived and they were much more budget-friendly than most would expect.While most detoxers are looking to cleanse their bodies, feel more energized, and ward off illness, many report weight loss as a welcome side effect. This encourages better eating habits, which can help keep that extra weight off—for good!

Some of the top
body detox diets include the 1 Pound A Day, The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox, The BluePrintCleanse and The Gut Flush Plan.

1 Pound A Day: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox

This detox diet is built on three simple principles (1) consuming foods in small doses, (2) nourishing your body every two hours, and (3) consuming all nutrients in liquid form. Detoxers consume the equivalent of at least 22 servings of fruits and vegetables (the USDA recommends five to nine servings a day) in the form of fresh juices, soups, and supplements. Detoxers will also drink pure distilled water only for the duration of the diet and it will be used to make all teas, broths, and soups.
 

The plan calls for a 21-day commitment, along with a juicer, blender or food processor, and a slow cooker (optional).

According to Roni Deluz, creator of the diet and founder of Martha’s Vineyard Holistic Retreat, 1 Pound A Day will help you lose weight, feel great, lighten up, and stay that way.

BluePrintCleanse (BPC)

Hailed as the “Best Juice Cleanse” by New York Magazine and “The Cleanse for Foodies” by Food & Wine Magazine, the BluePrintCleanse takes all of the work out of your average 
detox diet (shopping, prepping, chopping, blending) and puts it into a bottle of goodness delivered right to your door. Here’s how it works:

Detoxers can choose a level including beginners (Renovation Cleanse), average (Foundation Cleanse), and advanced (Excavation Cleanse). The Renovation Cleanse is for the absolute beginner with average eating habits. According to BPC, this level is considered “a gateway cleanse,” as it may encourage you to experiment with the next two levels of the BluePrintCleanse.

The Foundation Cleanse is for intermediate level detoxers and it is designed to “trigger your body to cleanse and gently detox.”

The Excavation Cleanse is for experienced detoxers and others that live a well above average healthy lifestyle. According to BPC literature, this level is the “most intense level of BPC,” and it “is designed to flood your body with chlorophyll, restore your 
alkaline balance, and seriously rest your insides.”

Each 
cleanse features six juices per day with names like “Spicy Lemonade,” “Green Juice,” “P.A.M.” and “Cashew Milk,” and you can choose a 3-day, 5-day, or 10-day cleanse.

The Gut Flush Plan

This body detox plan is a high fiber, high probiotic/prebiotic program that eliminates sugar (including artificial sweeteners), sweets, starches, salt, fatty foods, alcohol, and basically anything that’s considered “bad” for you. The diet replaces these unhealthy foods with plenty of water, vegetables, fish, homemade sodium-free soups, lean meats, and even protein-rich dairy products such as eggs. 

The gut-flush program is designed to “rebuild the digestive system from the cellular level up,” to “help you feel better, lighter, cleaner, healthier and more vital than ever before.”

Developed by Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., CNS, The Gut Flush Plan lasts 21-days. The following is a sample menu from *Week One, Day 1:

Breakfast
: Oatmeal, flaxseeds, yogurt

Midmorning Snack
: Steamed mixed bell pepper and jicama strips

Lunch
: Arugula, spinach, and chicken salad

Mid-afternoon Snack
: 2 hardboiled eggs, celery stalks, almond butter

Dinner
: Wild salmon, steamed asparagus, butternut squash

For the complete plan, pick up a copy of The Gut Flush Plan at your local library or favorite bookseller. *Complete menu plans are available in print only. 

Coffee – How Much Is Too Much?

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According to the World Resources Institute, the average American drinks about 1.6 eight-ounce cups of coffee daily. Like most statistics, the WRI’s estimate is misleading: we all know there are lots of folks who don’t drink coffee, and there are others who get more than their share. Among people who drink coffee – that’s about 150 million American adults – the average daily consumption is closer to 3 cups a day. And most of that is downed during the morning hours.

A lot of health benefits have been attributed to coffee. Studies suggest that regular coffee consumption could protect you from type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, liver cancer, cirrhosis, heart attack, and stroke. Coffee’s salubrious effects begin to kick in when you drink 3 to 5 cups daily, but you may have to gulp 6 to 7 cups to gain any significant advantage over, say, type 2 diabetes. Even for people who can’t pass a coffee shop without diving in for a fix, that’s a lot of Joe.

But is it too much?

Well, it depends. If you’re a devotee of caffeinated coffee, half a dozen mugs in 24 hours may leave you feeling jangled, irritable, and unfocused. If you drink coffee late in the day, your sleep is likely to be disrupted. Some nutritionists claim coffee’s mild diuretic effect washes out magnesium and other important minerals, so too much coffee could lead to magnesium deficiency. And if you have certain health problems, such as hypertension or an abnormal heart rhythm, even 2 cups daily might boost your blood pressure or trigger palpitations.

How about the unleaded stuff? Researchers are pretty sure it isn’t the caffeine in coffee that’s responsible for its purported health benefits. Coffee’s desirable properties are more likely to stem from the chlorogenic acid and other phenolic compounds found in both caffeinated and decaffeinated brews. So, drinking decaf would alleviate some of the problems associated with excess stimulation. However, decaffeinated coffee still contains compounds that can stir up acid reflux or aggravate an ulcer. If you have a touchy stomach, you might have to curb the decaf, too.

Finally, the problem for many people isn’t the coffee they pour into their cup. It’s the embellishments – cream, sugar, flavorings, maybe a splash of alcohol – that should give them pause. Coffee itself doesn’t come with a burden of calories. Those lattes and café mochas, on the other hand, can really stack up. If you’re watching your weight and you don’t like black coffee, you might want to consider other beverage choices.

There is no well-defined upper limit where coffee exerts undesirable effects on all people. Like so many things in life, what works for you might not work so well for someone else (and vice versa). If your coffee habit seems to be causing any ill effects – or if you get a crashing headache when you don’t get your java on schedule – you’re probably drinking too much. 

Here's to your wellness,


How to Be Your Own Health Advocate

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At least once, each of us has walked out of the doctor’s office feeling a bit like a child fresh from a principal’s paddling. We needed some to help us, but instead got a lecture about how we wasted the doctor’s important time with our insignificant problem. Fortunately, over the past couple of decades, there has been a move to teach patients of all ages how to be their own health advocates. It has helped patients feel more confident about getting the proper care they deserve, as well as making medical information more accessible. Because we are an aging population, the cause for self-advocacy in healthcare has never been more important.
   
The majority of doctors do want to be your partner in keeping you healthy; however, they have such strict limitations on the amount of time they can spend with you, it is up to us to help them become better health care partners. It’s important that you have one primary care physician that you know and trust who can act as your main caregiver. Building a relationship based on mutual respect with someone who you feel comfortable asking general questions and even requesting articles about conditions like high blood pressure will help you in case you do have a more serious health crisis. Most individuals don’t tend to feel vulnerable when getting their cholesterol checked, but a cancer scare or a heart attack can make even the strongest person feel frightened and alone.
   
It is during these crises, however, when we cannot just let someone else take over completely. Make sure you have a family member or friend with you whenever you speak to a physician and take notes. If you are having back surgery, you will need to know specific details such as how long the recovery will take, how much pain you will be in, how any medications will affect you, and when you can expect to go back to work. For unplanned crises and surgeries, you’ll need to rely on your family and friends to be your advocate at first, but once you are up to it, start asking questions, including written information on your condition. For scheduled surgeries, make a list of everything you want to know. Never leave the hospital without finding out what to expect during your recovery. If you still have questions, make sure you have the doctor’s office number.
   
Ideally, you and your physician should be partners in keeping you healthy. Keep in mind that at the office, your physician has limited time, so try to focus on three essential questions. Don’t be afraid to let them know about any financial limitations. Sometimes fees can be charged on a sliding scale and you can get samples of medications. Don’t make the mistake of avoiding medical care because you are afraid, embarrassed, or intimidated. And never make the even bigger mistake of not asking questions.

Here's to your wellness,


Get More Energy

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A recent SELF reader survey revealed that just seven percent of female respondents have enough energy to make it through the day. The other 93 percent can make it through the day, but it’s a struggle. Understanding the many reasons for lack of energy is the first step in controlling this common condition.

Although lack of energy may be a sign of a serious condition, more often than not it is caused by a number of non-life threatening issues such as lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, grief, and even negative feelings. Fortunately, these issues are either short-lived or easy to control. Whether you want an alternative to riding it out or you’re the proactive type, the following fixes should do the trick.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep is one of the most common reasons for lack of energy.
The average adult needs at least eight hours of sleep per night. Any less may cause a dip in energy levels. To ensure a good nights sleep consider limiting caffeine intake to just a few cups a day and never drink caffeinated beverages in the evening. This can cause insomnia. Stop using electronics several hours before bedtime, consider minimizing light in the bedroom (LED lights especially), and do your best to incorporate exercise into your daily routine—at least most days of the week.

Lack of Exercise

Lack of exercise is another major cause of lack of energy. According to the Better Health Channel of the State Government of Victoria, "physical activity boosts energy levels, while a sedentary lifestyle is a known cause of fatigue. Physical activity has many good effects on the body and mind. A good bout of exercise also helps you sleep better at night." Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Jogging, walking, biking, dancing, swimming are just a few ways to keep energy up and weight down. And yes, carrying excess weight can also zap energy.

Poor Diet

Poor diet affects more than just your waistline. Large meals, sweets, excessive alcohol, and fatty foods can zap energy making you feel fatigued, unfocused, and even depressed. The best thing you can do for your overall health and energy levels is to replace alcohol and sugary drinks with plenty of water. Instead of fatty foods and large meals, eat smaller meals consisting of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, grains, beans, nuts & legumes.

Grief

The end of a relationship, a move, the death of a loved one, or a much-anticipated opportunity that just didn’t pan out—all of these things can trigger The good news is there are ways to keep going and feel energetic, even when things seem hopeless. The University of Washington, Division of Student Life Counseling Center says acceptance, keeping a journal, regular exercise, helping others, and even pampering yourself can help you bounce back and boost energy.

Negative Feelings

The editors at SELF Magazine say negative feelings, such as jealousy, can slow you down. Even worse—pretending that you’re happy when you’re not zaps energy even more. The best thing to do in this situation is to truly accept your feelings. Then smile. “The physical act of grinning tricks your brain into thinking you’re more upbeat, which makes you feel peppier.”

If you are experiencing a lack of energy that has lasted for a few weeks or more, with no obvious cause, this could be a sign of a serious condition. Consult your doctor for an evaluation. 

Here's to your wellness,


Banish Cellulite with Yoga

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Cellulite is the fatty substance found under the skin, most commonly on the thighs, buttocks and stomach. Women tend to be more prone to cellulite than men, and though it isn’t harmful, many people would prefer to be rid of it because of how it looks. There are a number of factors that will affect how much cellulite you have and how noticible it is, these are:

• An unhealthy diet.
• Yo-yo dieting.
• A slow metabolism.
• Overweight or obesity.
• Hormone changes.

Incorporating yoga into your daily fitness regime can help reduce the effects of cellulite.
Yoga has an overall strengthening effect on the body and is a great way to tone up the larger muscles in the thighs and buttocks. Yoga exercise can also help you build lean muscle, improve circulation, and reduce fluid retention. It also helps to reduce stress and create a calm state of mind. Yoga can help to beat cellulite because it boosts the metabolism and helps to regulate the flow of hormones. Here are some yoga poses for reducing cellulite.

Shoulder Stand

Lie on your back with your arms resting at your sides. Raise your knees and bring them up to your forehead. Place your hands under your hips with your elbows on the floor. Straighten your legs and point your toes to the ceiling. Hold for ten deep breaths. Bend your knees and slowly lower your legs to the floor.

The Plow Pose

Lie on your back with your arms resting at your sides. Raise your knees and bring them up to your forehead. Straighten your legs and push your feet over your shoulders until your toes are touching the floor. Hold for ten deep breaths. Bend your knees and slowly lower your legs to the floor.

The Chair Pose

Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees and push back your hips as though you are about to sit in a chair. Raise your arms by your ears and hold the pose as deep as possible for ten deep breaths then relax.

Try these poses at home to help blast your cellulite away!

Here's to your wellness,


Sugar Hit on Your Health

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Also known as glucose, sucrose, lactose, fructose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses and dextrose, no matter what it’s called, it is still…sugar. Eating too much sugar causes blood sugar to rise rapidly. This sends a message to your organs that there is plenty of energy available as fuel for your body to use. Your body thinks it should stop burning fat as fuel and should store it instead. It also thinks that because so much fuel is readily available, it slows down a little bit, resulting in fewer calories burned each day. Consistently having too much sugar in your bloodstream, whether because of what you've eaten or because of low or no insulin, makes you feel thirsty, tired and weak and causes you to urinate more frequently, commonly known as hyperglycemia. If not treated, conditions may worsen, to include shortness of breath, dry mouth, breath that smells fruity, nausea and vomiting, a condition known as ketoacidosis. Eventually, it can also cause blurred vision, unexpected weight loss, bladder infections and dry skin. Not surprisingly, these are all warning signs of diabetes. If you don't produce enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or you are insulin resistant (Type 2 diabetes), glucose does not move into the cells efficiently. Your cells do not receive the energy they need, so you feel tired. Your kidneys work overtime, making you thirsty and sending you to the bathroom more often. In Type 1 diabetes, because glucose isn't getting into the cells from the bloodstream, your body burns muscle and other tissues for energy, causing weight loss. High blood glucose concentrations create a friendly environment for bacteria, making you more prone to infection. If you perspire, your sweat contains glucose, which dries on your skin, making it itch. Glucose is a fairly large molecule, which attaches to your red blood cells. As your blood circulates, insulin helps the glucose molecules to leave the blood and enter other cells. When the levels of glucose in your blood are consistently too high, you have diabetes. The excess glucose can result from your pancreas not producing insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or from insulin resistance (Type 2 diabetes). Because the glucose molecule is large, blood circulation through your smallest blood vessels is diminished when you have an excess of sugar in your blood and eventually those capillaries can be damaged. Damaged capillaries and decreased blood flow cause serious health problems.

Gaining Weight

People who eat too much sugar can gain weight because of the rise in blood sugar and its effect on metabolism and the body's ability to burn fat. Also, eating a lot of sugar causes the body to crave more sweets, which may lead to over eating. A 2011 study using survey data collected over two decades by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that weight gain in men and women corresponded with the increase in eating foods with added sugars. The researchers also found an increase in sugar in processed and pre-packaged foods since survey data was collected in the first Minnesota Heart Survey in the 1980s.

Dental Health

Eating too much sugar can cause erosions of tooth enamel, decay and cavities. The bacteria on your teeth use sugar as energy to make plaque to stick to your teeth, resulting in decay. If you do eat something sweet, it is a good idea to brush your teeth afterwards.

Eye and Kidney Disease

Damaged capillaries in your eyes can cause diabetic retinopathy. Early on, symptoms are nonexistent, but can later include blurred vision, loss of vision, floating spots, loss of night vision and dark or red streaks across your sight. Ultimately, diabetic retinopathy will cause blindness. Your kidneys contain millions of clusters of tiny blood vessels. Damaged capillaries in your kidneys can cause kidney failure or disease, and require dialysis or a kidney transplant.??

Nerve Damage

Because the blood vessels in your nerves are tiny, excess glucose, which damages those capillaries, creates neuropathy, or nerve damage in your extremities. Numbness, tingling or burning sensations begin at the farthest points the tips of your fingers and toes, and spread toward the torso over time. Cuts, bruises, blisters and other damage to the feet can end up as severe infections, possibly requiring amputation of toes, the foot or the leg. If nerves in the digestive system become damaged, constipation, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting can occur.

Heart Disease

The most important muscle in your body, your heart, is not immune to blood vessel damage. Stroke, coronary artery disease and other heart conditions are twice as common among diabetics as among the general population.


Carbohydrates and Sugar


Low sugar diets are essentially the same thing as low carbohydrate diets. Your body processes sugar the same as it does carbohydrates, using it as fuel. Low carbohydrate diets, such as the Zone and Nutri-System, are based on eating foods that don't cause spikes in blood sugar levels. These diets don't make you count calories, but instead have you eat foods based on what's called the "Glycemic Index," in which foods with carbohydrates are rated on how they affect blood sugar. High GI foods include white rice and white bread. Foods ranked with a low GI include some raw vegetables and fruits, and skim milk. The Mayo Clinic website reports that some research has shown that eating foods with a low glycemic index can help maintain a healthy weight, although other studies have shown that this is not always the case.

Recommended Sugar Intake


Whenever possible, avoid eating foods with labels that indicate added sugars. Beware of terms that attempt to mask the amount of sugar in foods, such as "fructose corn syrup," "cane sugar" and "corn sweetener." The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugars to about 100 calories a day and men cap it at 150 calories a day.

Solution

If you have diabetes, keep your blood glucose levels within acceptable parameters by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting adequate rest. You may not be able to eliminate the damage caused by too much glucose, but you can minimize it.

Here's to your wellness,


Training for a Triathlon

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Two words sum up what it takes to compete in a race that combines swimming, cycling and running, often in extreme conditions: strength and will. Training for a triathlon requires the strength to build up endurance for each separate sport as well as the will to make it through the difficult transitions and mental challenges required to cross the finish line. Yet everyone is capable of competing in a triathlon, whether you are at peak physical shape, completely inexperienced at any or all of the events, or have never exercised. The key is finding the right training plan as well as the right race.

There are four types of triathlons: Sprint, Olympic (Intermediate or Standard), Long Course, and Ultra Distance (commonly called Ironman). For beginners, a Sprint triathlon is an ideal place to begin and consists of a course of 750 m swimming, 20 k cycling and 5 k running. For many athletes, the ultimate competition is the Ironman, which consists of a grueling 3.9 k swim, 180 k bike ride and to finish, a full marathon (that’s 42.2 k or 26.2 mi). All races include transitions – called T1 and T2 – between the events. Triathlons take place all over the world which means athletes have to be prepared to swim in open water, including lakes, seas and oceans; cycle and run through terrains like mountains and desserts; and compete in a variety of environments like high altitudes and tropical climates.
   
Before you begin training, make an honest assessment of your fitness level and your strengths and weaknesses in each event. Then, decide which level of triathlon you want to try and find an event that you feel is realistic. For your first triathlon, be confident you can complete the course; once you’ve completed one race, you’ll have the confidence to take on more challenges. Next, give yourself enough time to train. While some people claim you only need 12 weeks to train, be realistic. You may need months. The good news is that triathlon training is less intensive than marathon training and, because you will be cross-training, your body will feel less stressed.
   
Your training goals are to build endurance, strength and mental stamina as you slowly increase your distance. If you are weak on a single event, make sure you devote one day a week to only that event. Strength training with several of repetitions of lower weight, along with yoga and stretching, will increase strength without adding bulk. Give yourself days off every week, a lot of sleep and a nutritious, protein-rich diet.
   
You will need at least one competitive style swimsuit, goggles, a swim cap; a good fitting bike, whether it is a road, mountain or hybrid; cycling shorts; clip-less pedals and cycling shoes (helpful but optional); and good quality running shoes that fit well. The Internet is a great source of triathlon timetable workouts for all levels. Take it easy the week before the race and get ready to experience a truly wild ride.

Here's to your wellness,


Get Fit For Life

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It’s time to stop making the same old excuses about your unhealthy diet and your poor exercise regime and get fit for life. No matter what your age, exercise is not only beneficial, but essential for good health. Insufficient exercise and poor diet are the second largest underlying cause of death in the United States. Regular exercise can also help prevent or delay many diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Exercise will also give you more energy and make you feel more cheerful.

The easiest way to make exercise a part of your daily routine it to finds things you will enjoy, such as a walking the local park or hiking trail, take dance glasses, join a cycling club. Do several different types of exercise each week so that you don’t get bored.

You should do at least thirty minutes of physical activity that makes you breathe harder than normal, each day. You don’t have to do the whole thirty minutes at the same time. If you don’t have a half-hour opening during the day, break your exercise down into ten minute sessions. Don’t push yourself to hard. Most medical experts point out that if you can talk without any trouble while exercising, you are not working hard enough, but if you can’t talk at all, you’re over doing it.

Tips For Exercising Safely


• Start slowly and build up gradually, that way you’ll steadily increase your stamina and avoid injury.

• Always warm up before you begin any exercise. This prevent you straining and puling muscles.

• Breathe evenly while you are exercising, especially when you are doing muscle toning exercises. Hold your breath can cause negative changes in your blood pressure.

• If you are taking medication which changes the normal rhythm of your heart, such as beta blockers, don’t just your exercise level by your pulse rate.

• Exercise safely; wear the correct shoe for running or sports, wear a helmet if you are cycling.

• Drink plenty of water while you are exercising, so that you don’t become dehydrated.


You should talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regime if you suffer from any of the following conditions:

• heart disease
• blood clots
• chest pain
• irregular heart beat
• joint swelling
• detached retina
• a hernia

There is no better time then the present to start becoming a healthier happier person!

Here's to your wellness,

Got Gas? NIH Suggests Digestive Enzymes

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Suppressing something as natural as gas won’t lead to a life-threatening condition. However, this needless practice can cause stomach cramps, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, belching, and even more gas. In some cases, the cramps, bloating, and pain can become so uncomfortable that it can interfere with normal daily activities. Letting it fly when it’s supposed to is the best way to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering, but you can also do a number of other things to minimize the frequency of farts—starting with finding the right combination of foods.

The foods we eat and how we eat them (eating rapidly results in too much swallowed air) contribute greatly to gas buildup in the digestive tract. Common culprits include fiber, starches, and sugars (fructose, lactose, raffinose, and sorbitol).

Fiber                  Starches            Sugars

       
Beans                  Corn                Apples, Peaches, Pears
Most Fruits         Pasta               Asparagus, Onions
Oat Bran             Potatoes          Milk Products
Peas                    Wheat             Soda, Sugar-Free Candy

Fatty foods—the stuff you pick up at the drive-thru, cause gas as well. Fast-food burgers and fries, deep-fried mushrooms, fish, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks are just a few examples. Because high-fat foods are unhealthy and because they cause the stomach to empty slower (which leads to a build-up of gas in the large intestine) they should be avoided at all costs. Avoiding many of the other foods that cause gas, however, may be challenging and even unhealthy simply because most of them (vegetables, fruit, and many starches) are good for you.

What you can do is limit the number of and/or portion sizes of gas-producing foods at each meal. You can also choose gas-producing foods that cause less intestinal aggravation than others. Instead of beans (produces the most gas), try cabbage. Instead of pasta choose rice. Surprisingly, rice is the only starch that does not cause the body to produce gas.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has another suggestion if food restrictions might make you a little batty. Many people lack certain enzymes needed to digest certain foods such as lactose—the natural sugar found in milk. Asians, African-Americans, and Native Americans lack lactase, which is the enzyme needed to properly digest lactose. Older individuals may also experience a decrease in lactase or other enzymes that are necessary to digest certain foods. In these cases, and many others, the NIH recommends digestive enzymes.

Digestive enzymes, particularly one that aids it the digestion of carbohydrates, fats, protein, and sugars, may be the best option for folks that feel just about anything makes them gassy. However, digestive enzymes are safe for use by most individuals, but consult with your doctor first to make sure an underlying (serious) condition is not the cause. If you notice that you only have gas after eating beans or vegetables, the NIH suggest trying Beano. According to the NIH, Beano contains the sugar-digesting enzyme that the body lacks to digest the sugar in beans and many vegetables.

If lactose is the problem, the NIH suggests taking Lactaid or Lactrase. The NIH states that enzymes such as these aid with lactose digestion and is effective in caplet or chewable form. All you have to do is take the supplement just before eating foods that contain lactose. This should minimize or possibly eliminate the gas lactose may cause.

For milk lovers, lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk is also an option. Two common brands are Lactaid and Dairy Ease. Both products are readily available at grocery stores across the U.S. Digestive enzymes (Beano, multi, and more) are available without a prescription and can be found at your local vitamin store, drugstore, or supermarket.

Here's to your wellness,


Do Resveratrol Supplements Provide Benefits?

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This is an interesting topic, because my question would also be, does any supplementation provide benefits? I know that I get a reinforce feeling of healthy assurance when I take my multi-vitamin-mineral tablet, or a capsule of the many herbs that claim greater wellness. At the end of the day, most supplements are like insurance, we don’t necessarily want to have to use it, but in the case that we do, it’s there. The needs of individuals vary greatly, and experts don't agree about the benefits of supplements. Thus, people are making their own choices about what supplements to take -- both botanical and nutritional -- for purposes ranging from sports nutrition and longevity to dieting aids. Many people are taking several different supplements at the same time. For all these reasons, there is a clear need for more and better information for consumers to act both safely and wisely.

Over half of all adult Americans view dietary supplements as a necessary and effective regimen, according to a recent survey -- and would continue to take them even if their doctor advised them to stop. Articles describing new and exciting research results appear regularly in the media.

When it comes to maintaining optimal health, resveratrol may offer even better protection than taking aspirin. It is generally believed that high cholesterol is the main cause of heart disease. However, based on thousands of heart surgeries, many cardiologists believe that a large number of heart attacks are not caused by high cholesterol, but rather, they are the result of inflammation. Different foods may cause different levels of inflammation in our body, and even one meal can cause an instant heart attack. Resveratrol's anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties may prevent blood clotting and increase blood flow, both of which may decrease or even prevent heart attacks.

Selecting a Resveratrol Supplement

Buying resveratrol may be a confusing task. Resveratrol is a general name for a product that is available in various purities, for example 5%, 10%, 20%, 50%, or 99%. Resveratrol provides no health benefits unless it contains trans-resveratrol. Prior to purchasing any resveratrol product, it is important to find out the purity content. If the manufacturer does not list this on the "Supplement Fact" label, or the label does not include purity specification, then there is no way of knowing the amount of trans-resveratrol in the product, and if, in fact, what you buy has any health benefits at all.

Low purity resveratrol products contain low amount of trans-resveratrol and high amount of cis-resveratrol, emodin and other parts of the plant which provide no health benefits. .

Price comparisons can only be done if companies clearly list all of the ingredients on the "Supplement Facts" label, including the percentage of trans-resveratrol. Consumers can then assess the "price-per-gram"of beneficial resveratrol by comparing the amount of trans-resveratrol per capsule, (not per serving size). 

As an example, two different resveratrol products claim to contain 100 mg of trans-resveratrol each, and are offered at a slight price different. Without a clear "Supplement Facts" label, it would be impossible to figure out the purity of the product. In this example one product contains 100 mg of resveratrol (per capsule) providing 99 mg of trans-resveratrol (99% pure), while the other product contains 400 mg resveratrol (per capsule) providing 100 mg of trams-resveratrol (25% pure). Other than possible side effects, the low purity products should be sold a price of about 1/4 of the pure product price.

Last but not least, most dietary supplements are made with the so called "Excipients" or better known as "Inactive Ingredients".  These ingredients include fillers and binders which benefit the manufacturer but not necessarily the consumer. In most cases these ingredients are added for the purpose of lubricating machinery to aid with the flow of the product during the encapsulation process, which makes it faster and thus increasing manufacturer profit.

Here's to your wellness,


Eat To Protect Your Heart

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Nutrition is a difficult subject to reason with once a person has become addicted to his or her unhealthy eating habits. However, for over the last one-hundred years more Americans have died from heart disease than any other disease. So, is not that a good enough reason for nutrition to be an easy subject to listen to? According to the latest reports on the largest fast food companies in the world, there has been more fast food joints added to more countries, more countries that eat like Americans. As a world leader, America definitely has countless benefits of living in such a wonderful country. However, with American lifestyles one may assume the same health risks of a Nation plagued with disease and preventable deaths at epidemic levels. More than 1 million Americans will have a heart attack or stroke, making heart disease the leading cause of death in men and women in this country. Fortunately, taking a preventive approach can help you lower your risk and keep your heart strong and healthy for years to come. Arm yourself with this life-saving information and expert advice on heart health.

What to Eat to protect Your Heart


Making simple, but important, dietary changes that include healthy heart food can benefit you immediately; the following are a few recommendations for a heart healthy diet:
• Increase your high fiber foods such as raw or lightly steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, beans and nuts.
• Keep your fat calories between 25% and 30% of total daily calorie intake.
• Reduce saturated fat to 10% or less of total calories. Saturated fat, found mainly in fatty meats, high-fat dairy, poultry skin, processed foods and some tropical oils raise your LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol level more than anything else. Instead, choose healthy fats, found in whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil.
• Eliminate trans fatty acids found in processed and deep fried foods.
• Eat good quality protein. Choose lean poultry, low or non-fat dairy, soy products or fish over meat, which is high in saturated fat.
• If you're overweight, lower your daily calorie intake. The overweight and obese are far more likely to have heart disease than slender people. Eat just enough calories to achieve and maintain a healthy blood cholesterol level and body weight.
• Cut down on sodium to 2,400 milligrams a day or less. Too much sodium can elevate blood pressure. Be spicy instead of salty. Flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar or salt-free seasonings rather than high sodium table salt.
• Take quality nutritional supplements and cold-pressed and extra virgin oils such as grape seed, coconut, and olive oil for heart health.

Be smart, eat to protect your heart.

Here's to your wellness,

Acupuncture Fact vs. Fiction

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Originally developed in China, acupuncture has been providing relief to patients worldwide for over 3,000 years. Today it’s becoming increasingly popular for those seeking an alternative treatment for a range of ailments including migraines, allergies, arthritis, asthma, and stress. Many people have even used it successfully to cure insomnia and help them quit smoking.

This form of alternative therapy is based on the understanding that a vibrant energy, known as Qi, circulates throughout the human body, along specific pathways. The pathways, or meridians, are believed to connect to specific organs or biological systems. When you are in good health qi flows along these pathways unhindered. When you are suffering from an illness or injury, or you are experiencing pain, this indicates that the flow of qi has been disrupted. Acupuncture aims to restore the flow energy using the body’s natural healing ability.

Acupuncture involves the placement of very fine needles of varying lengths into different regions of your skin. As few as three and as many as twenty needles may be used. An acupuncture session usually runs between 45 minutes to an hour and the length the needles remain in place will depend on the condition being treated. During the treatment, the practitioner may twirl, warm or electrically energize the needles to enhance their healing effects.

Facts

Acupuncture is an effective treatment – In a 2003 report , The World Health Organization (WHO), acknowledged that acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat a wide range of conditions including:

• back and knee pain
• headache
• sprains
• hypertension
• dental pain
• rheumatoid arthritis
• nausea and vomiting
• postoperative pain
• allergies
• adverse reactions to chemotherapy
• depression

Many insurance plans cover acupuncture – Health insurance coverage for acupuncture is increasing. Surveys show that by 2004, around 50 percent of Americans were covered for acupuncture treatments by their employer health insurance plans.  The number of hospitals and clinics offering acupuncture also continues to rise.

Acupuncture can enhance the effects of some pharmaceutical drugs - According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine , acupuncture may help boost the effects of some prescription medications, such as antidepressants, and assist with the healing process. Reducing the dosage of certain medications and adding acupuncture may also diminish the drug’s side effects.

Fiction

Acupuncture hurts - Acupuncture needles are hair-thin; much finer than the needle your doctor uses to draw a blood sample. If you feel anything at all it will be a slight pinch. Once the needle is in your skin you will not notice it is there. Many patients fall asleep during an acupuncture session.

Acupuncture is only effective if it is ongoing – Many people believe that acupuncture only works if you have the treatment for the rest of your life. This is not the case. If you are suffering from an acute ailment, such as stress, a sports injury or a sudden digestive upset, these problems are usually resolved quickly. Chronic problems will generally require more treatments. Your practitioner will
assess your condition and advise you on the appropriate length of treatment.

Acupuncturists are not licensed practitioners –Though the exact legal requirements vary from state to state, most states require that anyone practicing acupuncture holds a Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine degree from a college that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).

Here's to your wellness,


The Water Supply

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Water is the vehicle for every nutrient we humans require. It bathes our tissues, suspends our cells and cradles our organs. We are conceived in water, we’re immersed in an ocean of amniotic fluid for the first 38 weeks of our existence, and our bodies are vessels for water throughout our lifetimes. Water heals our physical and psychic wounds, and we turn to this precious substance in our religious ceremonies.

And yet, we treat the water around us like it was a disposable commodity. We use water that has been prepared for drinking to flush our toilets, wash our cars, irrigate our lawns and launder our clothes. Because of such indiscriminate waste, clean water is getting increasingly difficult to find – and it isn’t available at all to some populations. Dwindling supplies of potable water could soon pose a serious dilemma for a species that depends on pristine water for its very survival.

In order to provide water that is safe for us to drink, municipalities process it in ways that alter its natural properties. Unlike the tumbling water in a mountain stream or the extracellular fluid that washes over our cells and circulates through our bodies, our drinking water is largely devoid of minerals that are important to human health. Furthermore, treated water contains compounds – charitably called “disinfection byproducts” – that are potentially toxic. (By the way, if you think you can get around this issue by drinking bottled water, think again: tests conducted by the Environmental Working Group in 2008 revealed that 10 popular brands of bottled water contained a frightening array of carcinogens, disinfection byproducts, pesticides and cast-off medications – all at a price that’s about 2,000 times that of tap water.)

The enzymes that catalyze your cells’ minute-by-minute activities are persnickety. They demand an environment that’s a bit on the alkaline side and laced with nutrients and trace elements, many of whose functions haven’t even been fully characterized. Fresh, mineralized, oxygenated water is the principal ingredient in this recipe, where the slightest variation can make the difference between vitality and collapse. That’s worth pondering the next time you hose down your dirty driveway.

Here's to your wellness,


What’s your Yoga Type?

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Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian Philosophy, which has widespread influence on many schools of Indian thought. Developed in India more than 5,000 years ago, Yoga is better known through its practical aspect than its intellectual content, which is largely based on the philosophy of Sankhya. Holding that the evolution of the world occurred in stages, Yoga attempts to reverse this order so that a person reenters his or her state of purity and consciousness.

Generally, the Yoga process involves eight stages, which may require several lifetimes to pass through. The first two stages are ethical preparations emphasizing morality, cleanliness, and devotion to God. The next two stages are physical preparations that condition the body to make it supple, flexible, and healthy. The fifth stage involves control of the mind and senses to withdraw from outward objects. The remaining three stages entail the cultivation of increasingly concentrated states of awareness, which will ultimately lead to the release from the cycle of rebirth.

Sound serious? It is, which is why the physical aspects of Yoga have been most successfully popularized in the West. In fact, over the past 15 years, Yoga has been vigorously Americanized with more than 16 million people practicing in the U.S. alone—up from 12 million in 1998. This means, traditional Yoga (at least the physical aspects) may be experienced at just about any health club and at Yoga studios across America, and there’s even more variety for non-purists.  A number of hybrid routines have been created to compete with common cardio routines such as spinning, step, and salsa. Depending on your goals, one of the following popular Yoga types might be for you. 

Just a few of the most popular Yoga types include Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Power, and Restorative.

Anusara 
Best for beginners because it teaches proper alignment and it’s less intense than Ashtanga and Bikram. Ashtanga is strenuous and it’s excellent for weight-loss and toning. This Yoga type is best for individuals in good to excellent physical condition.

Bikram
Or “Hot Yoga” takes place in a steamy studio (105 degrees and 40 percent humidity) and it’s excellent for building stamina and weight loss. Total calorie burn = 350-600 per session.

Hatha
While this is one of the original six branches of Yoga, what you will find at your local Yoga studio or health club will have elements of many different types of modern Yoga. Students engage in basic postures and breathing exercises. Hatha is good for beginners, but all are welcome. 

Iyengar
Props such as straps, blocks, incline boards and harnesses are used to help perfect positions. Best for all ages and levels. Students learn the fundamentals of Yoga while building lean muscle.

Power
Very challenging. Best for conditioned fitness buffs looking to sweat and burn lots of calories.

Restorative
Appropriate for all ages and levels. Helps relieve stress and healing of injuries. Best for individuals interested in relaxation and limited movement. Each of the four to five poses may be held for up to 20 minutes.

Hope this helps you discover your correct inner yogi!

Here's to your wellness,


Tricks for Eating Less

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If you want to maintain a healthy weight there are ways that you can trick your body into eating less. Here is a rundown on the most effective ways to use your mind to trick your tummy into feeling full.

Portion Control – Believe it or not, using smaller dishes and plates will trick your body into feeling full. A smaller plate means a smaller serving and an empty plate will make you feel full.

Location, Location – Sit at the dining table to eat your meals. When you eat in front of the TV or your computer you are more likely to feel less full than if you eat without any distractions. Take your lunch break away from your desk.

Dishware Contrast – It may sound strange, but studies have shown that people eat less when their dishware is a different color that the food served on it. The greater the contrast between the color of the food and the color of the plate, the less likely you will be to over-serve yourself. So serve your chocolate pudding in a white bowl, not a brown one.

Snack Attack – Everyone snacks from time to time. Spare yourself the extra pounds by sticking to a 100-calorie snack pack. Research shows that these min-packs contain just enough to fill you up and will work better than trying to eat the same amount of calories from a larger pack.

What’s a Forkful?
– Another surprising result of dietary research has shown that people eat less with a large fork than with a smaller one. Maybe it’s time to upgrade your silverware.

Keep at Arm’s Length – Keep snacks life candy and cookies out of reach, and preferably out of sight. If you keep a bowl of candy on your desk, you will eat far more of them than if they are several feet away or in a draw or cupboard.

Try using these helpful tricks and you will be eating less and feeling fuller in no time.

Here's to your wellness,

Secrets for Better Sleep

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According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 30 percent of American adults have occasional trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep. And about 1 in 10 of us has chronic insomnia, meaning our sleep gets disrupted for a month or longer.

If you’re one of those people who rely on medications when you can’t sleep, you could be asking for trouble. Sleeping pills – either prescription or over-the-counter – often cause a daytime hangover that’s almost as bad as not getting enough sleep. And if they’re used for more than a few days these agents can actually aggravate insomnia by altering the architecture of your sleep (the time you spend in the various stages of sleep).

As with most medical issues, insomnia usually responds to lifestyle changes. Adopting a more sleep-friendly routine – what experts call “sleep hygiene” – will be more beneficial in the long run than even the most potent medication. So before you get into the habit of reaching for that little bottle of pills, try a few of these tips:

• Stick to a schedule. Establish regular times for retiring and waking up, even on weekends and holidays. This helps keep your “diurnal clock” set.

• Exercise every day. There aren’t many problems that won’t improve with a bit of physical activity, which does more than just keep you in good shape. Moderately vigorous exercise at least five hours prior to bedtime generates a physiologic pattern that is conducive to good sleep.

• Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only. Watching TV, reading, or working at a computer while in bed is a sure way to disrupt your sleep. Get these things out of the way before you head for the bedroom.

• Create an environment that encourages sleep. The darker your bedroom is, the better you’ll sleep, so cover your windows and eliminate those little “vampire lights” that seem to have invaded every niche of modern life. Try using a white-noise generator or fan to drown out extraneous, unpredictable sounds. And hide your alarm clock, cell phone, and wristwatch. There’s nothing more aggravating than repeatedly looking at a timepiece when you’re already having trouble sleeping.

• Take a warm bath or get a relaxing massage before retiring.

• If you can’t sleep, get out of bed. The harder you try to fall asleep, the less likely you are to do so. If it takes longer than 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep, go to another room and do something relaxing, like reading. When you start to feel drowsy again, go back to bed.

• Avoid caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol late in the day. Using any of these substances after 2 or 3 in the afternoon can disrupt the magical neurochemistry that allows you to sleep later on. Similarly, taking a nap late in the afternoon will push your sleep time farther into the evening.

• If you feel you really need something to help you sleep, try melatonin. Doses from 2 to 5 mg are generally safe. Take this over-the-counter supplement about 30 minutes before retiring, and try not to use it for longer than a week or two. If you have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other autoimmune condition, don’t take melatonin without talking to your physician first; melatonin can stimulate your immune system and trigger a flare of your disease.

If you have medical conditions that keep you awake at night, such as frequent urination or painful arthritis, see your doctor to get these issues addressed.

Here's to your wellness,


How Animal Companions Can Make Us Healthier

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Every pet owner can tell you that caring for an animal enriches his or her life, whether it is a lizard, a dog, a cat, or even a goldfish. A pet is not just a companion, but a friend, a therapist and for some people, help in living independently with a serious illness or physical disability. Our animal friends give us significant health benefits in three categories: physical, mental and special needs assistance.

Studies show that pets help significantly reduce blood pressure, heart rates and hypertension, leading to improved heart health. The act of simply petting a dog a calming effect that lowers stress and anxiety, both of which, over time, can cause significant wear and tear on the cardiovascular system. Cat owners have been found to have a 40% decreased risk for heart attacks and dog owners have a better survival rate one year after a heart attack than non-dog owners. Overall, pet owners have a decreased risk of dying from all heart diseases, including heart failure.

Dog owners who walk their dog at least 30 minutes a day have lower cholesterol, a higher physical fitness level, less chance of being obese and an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. Some infants who are exposed to pet hair at any early age are less likely to develop allergies, asthma and eczema, a skin allergy. This early exposure combined with contact with dirt carried on pet increases levels of certain immune chemicals, resulting in a strong immune system.

Stroking a pet causes the release of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that cause us to feel as sense of well-being. Animals are natural mood enhancers; spending only a few minutes with your pet decreases your cortisol levels, decreasing stress. Because pets offer unconditional love, caring for them can help fight depression by diverting your attention away from yourself and on to playing, grooming and walking your pet. Pets also help individuals become more social. A photo of your pet on the desk at work is a great icebreaker. Dog parks and beaches or clubs for cat, horse or reptile enthusiasts are ideal places to socialize.

Seeing eye dogs have been used since the mid-16th century. Today’s therapy dogs continue to help people by detecting whether a diabetic’s blood sugar level is too low, sensing the chemical change indicating a seizure is about to occur in an epileptic and assisting individuals who are limited due to disabilities by picking up objects, acting as balance and support for the individual, turning lights on and off, and so on. Therapy cats and dogs are regular visitors to hospitals and nursing homes and provide the gift of cuddling and gentle affection. Horses, dogs and dolphins have provided autistic children a whole world to explore that offers no judgment, only patience. Long ago, our ancestors invited animals to share our fire. In return, we were gifted beyond measure.

Here's to your wellness,


12 Ways to Prevent Diabetes

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If you think you’re destined to become diabetic based on family history, think again. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), diabetes is preventable—regardless of family history. While family history may increase the risk of developing diabetes, being overweight or obese (with no family history of the disease), increases the risk just as much. The good news is, the NDEP says, “you don’t have to knock yourself out to prevent diabetes” and “diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful.” Even for high-risk individuals, prevention may come down to dropping just a few pounds and adding exercise to your daily routine.

If you are overweight, the NDEP recommends losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight to help prevent diabetes. For a 200-pound person, that’s 10 to 14 pounds. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, eating a variety of low-fat foods, and cutting down on the number of calories you eat each day can help you shed those excess pounds. In addition to losing weight, adding exercise, and adopting a low-fat, low-calorie lifestyle, you can prevent diabetes by:

4. Drinking More Water
Water helps regulate blood sugar, which helps protect against hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

5. Focusing on Fiber
Healthy fiber from fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole-grain foods help control blood glucose. These foods are also low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals.

6. Getting Ample Amounts of Rest
Rest helps reduce stress, which effects blood sugar levels. Rest also regenerates and helps the body fight disease and infection.

7. Limiting Alcohol Consumption
According to Dr. Maria Collazo-Clavell of the Mayo Clinic, too much alcohol can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and ultimately lead to diabetes.

8. Decreasing Sugar Intake
Eating excess amounts of sugar can lead to weight gain, and according to research, foods such as sugary drinks are linked to type 2 diabetes.

9. Monitoring Blood Sugar
This may be an extreme measure for low risk individuals, but it might be worth it for high-risk individuals. Your doctor can recommend several alternatives (to needles) for testing your levels. Infrared light monitors and skin testing are just a few painless options.

10. Quitting Smoking
Dr. Collazo-Clavell states that tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of diabetes. Heavy smokers (those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day) almost double their risk of developing diabetes, when compared with nonsmokers.

11. Reducing Stress
Stress can send blood sugar levels on a roller coaster. When blood sugar levels are out of control, the risk of developing diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease rises.

12. Sticking to a Set Eating Schedule

Eating three evenly spaced meals a day, with healthy snacks in between, prevents dangerous blood sugar spikes. Try to limit your intake of white rice, white bread, sodas and sweet drinks, red meat, pork, cold cuts, fast food, and packaged foods. These foods can cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar.

Try incorporating these easy tips into your daily life to help prevent diabetes.

Here's to your wellness,

Calories: Input vs. Output

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Understanding calories, particularly the importance of input vs. output is key to maintaining a healthy weight. Learning how to measure and regulate your daily calorie intake is essential for any diet plan, no other factor influences your diet more.
 
Calorie Input

Just about everything you eat and drink contains a certain amount of calories. Water is the only exception. Because these calories are metabolized in your body and used to create energy or store fat, they are called input calories.

Calorie Output

Every action you take, even breathing, burns calories. If you are performing intense exercise, obviously your body will use more calories that if you are sitting at your computer. However, your body uses up a certain number of calories each day just maintaining your normal body functions, such as digestion and blood circulation. Because these calories are being used, they are known as output calories.

Input vs. Output


There are three combinations of Input vs. Output, each of which has a different effect. If your daily calorie input exceeds your daily calorie output, this will cause fat or muscle gain, or both. What will make the difference between fat or muscle storage is how you exercise, so you need to design a workout routine that lets your body know that it needs to use the extra calories to build muscle rather than fat.

If your daily calorie output exceeds your input, you will lose fat or muscle, or both. If you are burning more calories than you consume because you want to lose weight, then this is a good way to get rid of excess fat storage, However, if you begin to lose muscle, then you probably need to increase your calorie intake slightly, or change your exercise regime.

If your input and output are the same, you will see no change. In this case you are maintaining your current weight. This is fine if you have reached a healthy weight and you want to stay there. Otherwise you will need to adjust your calorie input and output.

You daily caloric needs will depend on a number of factors including your age, weight, height, gender, and how active you are. If you want to calculate your own personal need you can use an online calorie calculator.

Here's to your wellness,


Shop Smarter Supermarket Survival

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It should come as no surprise that your local grocery store is designed to extract the maximum number of dollars from your pocket before you get out the door. For years, marketing experts, psychologists, and even music composers have been busily working in the shadows, laying out store aisles, devising displays, and creating other subtle ways to separate you from your money.

If you think you’re immune to the marketing ploys used by store owners, try to remember the last time you came home with only the items you’d intended to purchase when you went shopping. If you’re like most people, at one time or another you’ve stood over a grocery-laden counter and wondered, “Why on earth did I buy that?”

We’re all susceptible to what has been appropriately labeled “supermarket psychology.” So, if you want to return to your car with enough money to fill its tank, try some of these time-tested tips: 

Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
The surest way to fill your cart and empty your wallet is to wander the aisles of a grocery store while your stomach is growling. Eat before you leave home.

Make a list and stick to it.
Sure, there will be times when you’ll buy something you forgot to put on the list, but if you’re frequently plucking items from the shelves that aren’t on your list you’re probably succumbing to supermarket psychology.

Don’t use coupons unless they’re good for items you’d ordinarily use.
You’re not saving money if you use coupons to buy novelties or rarely used products. And compare those coupon prices to the brands you typically use. Many times coupons can only be applied to brands that are more expensive than the ones you’re used to.

While you’re checking prices, make sure the generics you buy are really cheaper than brand-name products.
Compare unit prices. If generics really aren’t cheaper by the unit, you might as well go with brand-name products, which are often of better quality.

Learn your store’s layout.
Supermarkets are typically arranged so staple food items — milk, bread, eggs, and so on — are far apart. This encourages browsing, which translates into purchasing. Once you know where things are located, use your list to guide you directly from item to item, and don’t dawdle.

Skip the samples.
Why do you think those folks with the little paper cups are strategically scattered throughout the store? It certainly isn’t to feed you and your family as you labor up and down the aisles. If you accept a sample, no matter how insignificant it may be, you’re opening the door to a powerful social force called “reciprocity” — the need to return favor for favor — and you’ll end up buying something you don’t need.

Human nature dictates that you’ll fall victim to supermarket psychology from time to time. However, if you’re prepared to deal with it before you walk through the store’s front door you may find your grocery budget stretching a lot farther.

Here's to your wellness,


How to Prevent Bone Loss

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Bone loss, or osteoporosis, is the breakdown of bones in which they become porous and fragile, increasing the risk of fractures. Elements that influence the onset of bone loss include family history, history of easily fractured bones, lifestyle choices such as heavy or binge drinking early in life and smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and a lifelong poor diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals.
   
Fortunately, you can do actively prevent serious bone loss before it begins and even decrease the impact after a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Getting a bone density report is the first step. In general, it’s recommended for women at 50 and men at 70 years. The DEXA or Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry test measures bone density at the spine and hip where bone loss first occurs. It will identify the earliest stages of bone loss by defining weak spots on bones. It’s essential to keep all visual and written reports for future comparison.
   
Keeping active and adding strength training is the best thing you can do to prevent and slow bone loss. Even an individual with osteoporosis can work with a physical therapist with light weights to decrease the chances of falls and improve mobility, focusing on weak spots and giving special attention to building muscle around those bones. Many seniors add low impact aqua-exercise classes to their regime because the water allows for greater mobility without fear of injury. Finally, it is crucial to add balance exercises. Personal trainers can teach exercises to improve balance, which also strengthens the muscles in the legs and core, all essential in preventing falls that lead to potentially debilitating hip fractures.
   
There are several medications to slow bone loss, however most have significant side effects and are usually reserved for individuals with significant bone loss. Your physician may prescribe supplements, but essential vitamins and nutrients like Calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium are better absorbed when eaten as part of a low fat diet that includes dairy products, soy and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Certain lifestyle changes may be necessary. Nicotine is toxic to bone formation and decreases the bone friendly hormone estrogen. Ask you physician to help you quit smoking today. If you drank heavily in your 20’s and 30’s, you may have caused irreversible damage that you will now have to work hard to overcome. The good news is that studies show moderate drinking (defined as 1-2 glasses of wine daily) may suppress the breakdown of bones.

Finally, great news for everyone tired of dieting. Thin is officially no longer “in”. Being too thin leads to a decrease in bone mass and physicians agree that having an extra 10-20 pounds is healthy for the bones. Not only does it protect you from fractures from light falls, it promotes the presences of circulating bone-building hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

Here's to your wellness,


Food Fraud

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Chemists create them in labs and in most cases, the flavor is richer and more addictive than the real thing. During a recent 60 Minutes segment, several proud “flavor” chemists discussed a daring approach to pleasing the palate—use carefully selected chemicals to mimic everything from mangoes and oranges to hybrids like hazelnut-chocolate and blueberry-pomegranate.

Although synthetic flavor is nothing new, many are unaware of its existence thanks to creatively distracting labels on the front, and a hard-to-see ingredients list on the back, and an easy-to-fool palate. These fake flavors are designed to stimulate dopamine, but only for a few seconds because if the flavors don’t linger, people eat more and buy more product.

So, is faux flavoring blatant food fraud? Technically, no, but it should raise more than just an eyebrow. For the same reasons manufacturers enlist flavor chemists, using impostor ingredients in otherwise healthy foods is on the rise. Unscrupulous food manufacturers also practice food fraud simply to cut corners and save money. Unlike the chemicals used by food flavor chemists (they claim the chemicals are safe), the fake ingredients used in many other laced foods can be hazardous to your health—especially if you have allergies.

Some of the most common fraudulent foods include apple juice, coffee, honey, milk, olive oil, orange juice, and saffron.

Apple Juice

If it doesn’t say 100% Juice and “Ingredients: Apples”, it’s probably not pure apple juice. Ingredients like fructose, high fructose corn syrup, malic acid, and raisin sweetener have no business in a bottle of apple juice. And although not harmful, fig juice, grape juice, pear juice, and pineapple juice don’t belong either, unless the bottle specifically says it’s a blend.

Coffee

Coffee purists won’t like this and neither should novices. Everything from figs to twigs have been found in some coffee. Other common dilutants include barley, caramel, cereal, chicory, corn, malt, and parchment.

Honey

According to a recent Prevention Magazine article, faux honey may contain
corn syrup, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, sugar syrup, and even heavy metals and illegal Chinese antibiotics from abroad and heavy metals.

Milk


Unscrupulous milk manufactures have cut milk with reconstituted milk powder, rennet, and urea. A blend appropriately called “fake milk” is floating around out there as well and it’s made of a stomach turning mix of oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder.

Olive Oil

The big print may read “Olive Oil” but the small print may read “blend,” if anything at all. Some manufacturers blend olive oil with corn oil, hazelnut oil, palm oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, or walnut oil, and they don’t bother listing them. Not only does this affect taste and the way olive oil interacts in cooking and in foods, cutting olive oil with inferior oils zaps the benefits that come with consuming pure olive oil. eating olive oil can lead to lower cholesterol levels, healthier skin, and more.

Orange Juice

Bad OJ may be mixed with unlisted beet sugar, fungicide, grapefruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, lemon juice, and mandarin juice. In the case of fungicide, you may not be able to detect it.

Saffron

The world’s most expensive spice is darn difficult to find. If you do happen to find a batch, be cautious. Dishonest manufacturers will add everything from glycerin and tartrazine to sandalwood dust, borax, and barium sulfate to make a buck. Tartrazine is a yellow dye linked to lupus and hyperactivity in children and barium sulfate is a fluid used in oil well drilling.

If you stick with well-known brands, you won’t have to worry about odd or dangerous ingredients lurking in your food. If you’re considering purchasing an obscure brand from a questionable source, think twice. 

Here's to your wellness,


Fitness Secrets

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Many celebrities swear by their personal trainer, but not all of us can afford one. The fact is, you don’t really need one once you know about the trade secrets that enable them to get their clients to lose weight and tone up. Here is a rundown on the top five fitness secrets that will help you attain your peak condition.

Monitor your Diet

Expert trainers emphasize the importance of tracking what you eat, because it increases your chances of weight-loss success. This is because we often eat more than we realize. Studies show that normal-weight people still underestimate their food intake by an average of 20 percent.

Check your Form

Every personal trainer will tell you the same thing about form: it’s crucial if you want to work the right muscles and avoid getting an injury. The best way to learn the correct form without a personal trainer is to exercise with a video. That way you will be able to see exactly how you should be holding your posture and moving your body.

Reach Beyond the Zone

It you really want to make the most from the intensity of your work out regime, trainers recommend reaching beyond your comfort zone. Find out where you base line is, this will usually take about two weeks of working out steadily if you already moderately active. Once you’ve built a solid base, begin to slowly intensify your workout by adding resistance, increasing your reps or adding short bursts of intense activity.

Stick to a Schedule

According to the top trainers, you are more likely to stick to your exercise regimen if you maintain a regular training routine. So don’t waste your gym membership fee. If you’re really struggling to motivate yourself, think of some creative incentives, such as small (but healthy) rewards you can allow yourself after a successful week of training.

Keep a Record


If you had your own personal trainer, he or she would keep a record of your so you can see how you are improving. Maintaining a personal record of your workout will help you do the same. Keep a daily journal and note down how you exercise, and changes in weight and muscle tone. On days when you’re feeling less than motivate, looking back through your journal will help remind you how much progress you’re making.

These five tips will help fast track your fitness level and increase results in no time.

Here's to your wellness,

Artery-Cleansing Foods

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Artery-cleansing foods begin with the conscious selecting of food. You can reduce your chance of developing artery disease such as atherosclerosis and obstructed arteries. If the artery-clogging process has already begun, you can at least slow down the process.

Heart Health

Feeding your heart well is a powerful way to reduce or even eliminate some risk factors. Adopting a heart-healthy nutrition strategy can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), lower blood pressure, lower blood sugars, and reduce body fat and weight. Knowing what to eat is truly one of the most important factors of lowering your risk for artery disease, as well as knowing when to eat. In fact, heart disease research has shown that adding heart-saving foods is just as important as cutting back on others.

Artery cleansing foods are the same foods that should be on your grocery list, the following are tips that can compliment your healthier and conscious food selections:

1. Fish is a good source of protein and other nutrients. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends two servings a week of omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish like salmon.

2. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. These beautiful and delicious wonders of nature may be one of the most powerful strategies in fighting heart disease.

3. Drink more water. If you haven’t begun drinking more water daily, it’s still time to start…now.

4. Limit total fat grams.

5. Eliminate trans-fats and no more than 7% to 10% of calories from saturated fats (for example, fats found in butter, hard margarine, salad dressing, fried foods, snack foods, sweets, and desserts).

6. When you use added fat, use fats high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats (for example, fats found in canola, olive, and peanut oil).

7. Eat a variety of protein foods. Commonly eaten high-fat protein foods (meat, dairy products) are among the main culprits in increasing heart disease risk. Reduce this nutritional risk factor by balancing animal, fish, and vegetable sources of protein and choosing the leanest protein sources.

8. Limit cholesterol consumption. Limiting dietary cholesterol is recommended in nutrition guidelines. Get energy by eating complex carbohydrates (whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, and whole-grains breads) and limit simple carbohydrates (regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets). The American Heart Association says it is OK to have an egg a day for healthy adults. When it comes to lowering blood cholesterol levels limiting saturated fats is more important than dietary cholesterol intake. The recommendation is not to exceed 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol each day.

9. Reduce salt intake. This will help control blood pressure.

10. Physical activity. Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, improves blood flow, reduces high blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), and helps control blood sugars and body weight.

Incorporate these tips into your weekly routine and before you know it you will have clean and healthy arteries.

Here's to your wellness,

Stay Active, Stay Sane

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Research is continually showing the absolute necessity to introduce and challenge your brain with ideas, games, and in some cases problems.

Given the explosion of research into brain structure, organization and function, we may expect that, just as its sister "physical fitness", brain fitness, too, will become a full-fledged field of scientific investigation. This is because the concept of brain fitness seems to cut across several major concepts (such as learning, plasticity and environment) in the field of brain research.
Below is a tentative definition for the concept of staying active and staying sane.

"Staying active allows the ability of the brain to learn what the organism needs to know in order to survive in a changing environment."

It is apt that the concept of staying active and staying sane should have waited for the 21st century to emerge. No other civilization has witnessed greater inter-generational divides and changes so rapid that a significant portion of knowledge learnt by the parents' generation may be outdated for the following generation, creating a need to rapidly assimilate new learning and devise new information processing circuits in the brain for generational updating. As man is transforming his civilization from sectarian to global, from a knowledge-limited society to an ever evolving open-knowledge one, he will need to create environments that produce fitter brains capable of maintaining a life-long ability to learn. Arguing for the possibility of staying active, staying sane implies levels of brain plasticity so significant that brain function can be enhanced or rehabilitated by the manipulation of environmental influences and that these, in turn, will continue to further affect brain plasticity and the ability to learn in a never-ending cycle.

Staying active, staying sane implies that, due to the wonders of brain plasticity, skill learning must inevitably lead to skill mastery. Yet, we know that, despite adequate intelligence, appropriate instruction and sufficient opportunity for practice, some people cannot master the skills they are taught. For example, individuals with dyslexia have difficulty master reading, individuals with dysgraphia writing and those with dyscalculia, arithmetic. In a wonderful tour-de-force many among these individuals show extraordinary compensation ability and, despite impaired reading, writing and arithmetic skills, succeed in achieving goals, which require those very skills. They use what is available in the environment to compensate for their brain's inability to master a certain skill. For example, an individual with dyslexia will guide his reading by listening to the oral readings provided by the teachers and parents. His brain learns to process written language in a way profoundly different from that of other reading brains, which can decode letters and sounds on their own. This compensation will take place provided the environment (parents, schools, libraries, publishers) supplies sufficient oral reading materials. Therefore, staying active, staying sane implies, the ability of the brain to rely on more than one learning style and one problem solving strategy. As is made clear by the previous example, the development of those alternative information-processing circuits is impossible in the absence of rich environmental input. However, a clear functional goal is also important to achieve brain fitness. To remain with our example of dyslexia, understanding the general meaning conveyed by the written text is the goal, not success in reading the isolated letters and words. In summary, brain fitness is more likely to develop when the environment provides several parallel sources of information, in our example, both the written text and its oral reading. However, although such richer environment are conducive to learning and improve brain structure, organization and function, they are not sufficient. Research on brain plasticity has also taught us that, in order to be successful, learning must confer a survival-oriented behavioral advantage to the learner.

The greatest challenge to the validity of the staying active, staying sane concept is posed by the hopelessness associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Whether all human brains can achieve fitness and continue to learn and develop in order to survive will, in the future, be investigated using the tools of neuroscience, psychology, medicine, education and the social sciences. This research will guide neuroscientists, parents, educators, psychologists, nutritionists, doctors, and governments in designing environments that are conducive to the continued development of a fit and well-functioning brain at all ages and for all individuals.

Here's to your wellness,


Workouts that Fit Your Schedule

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If you’ve ever skipped a workout – or if exercise isn’t a part of your regular routine – you’ve probably uttered these words. For a lot of people, carving an hour or two from a busy schedule to head for the gym or go for a run is just out of the question.
Thankfully, research has revealed that you don’t have to be a “gym rat” to stay in shape or reap the cardiovascular benefits of exercise. In fact, if you exercise for more than an hour daily, you could be doing more harm than good. Studies show that 15 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity confer the most health benefits, and you can reap those benefits even if you break your daily exercise allotment into several short sessions.

Now that you know a tight itinerary is no longer a viable excuse for avoiding exercise, just what kind of workout can you pack into a 5-, 10- or 15-minute window?

Climb the stairs: If you have stairs in your home or workplace, use them to your advantage. At work, avoid using the elevator whenever possible. If you only have to go up (or down) two or three floors, every time you have to make the circuit, do it twice. (Your coworkers and your boss won’t miss you for that extra thirty seconds.) At home, you can get a pretty good workout by repeatedly stepping up and down on the bottom one or two stairs. Start with 20 repetitions on each leg and work up to 50 or 100. If you’re a little unsteady on your feet, use the handrail for balance. This “step-test” workout only takes a few minutes, but it’ll get your heart rate up.

Take a walk: Although you’ll burn more calories by jogging, walking is a proven way to keep your heart healthy. And all it takes is a pair of good shoes and 10 to 15 minutes. If you walk briskly, you can cover a half mile or more in only 10 minutes (that’s 1/4 mile out and back). Choose a different route each day to keep things interesting. If you have a dog, get out the leash and take your companion for a walk, too. (Your pup probably needs the exercise as much as you do.)

Milk-jug workout: Weight lifting has health benefits, too. When properly done, resistance exercise improves balance, strength, flexibility and bone density, and it improves “after-burn,” which accelerates weight loss. Unfortunately, most people can’t spend all day at the gym where the weights are. If you’re pinched for time, grab a couple of empty one-gallon milk jugs, fill them with water, screw on the caps, and take your new 8-pound dumbbells for a spin. You can do curls, triceps extensions, overhead presses, upright rows and upright “flys” with these ersatz dumbbells, and you can easily adjust their weight by spilling or adding a little water. Three sets of 10 repetitions for each of the abovementioned exercises will only consume about 10 to 15 minutes.

Work out at your desk: Sitting all day is hard on your heart, back, neck and joints, and it heightens your risk for blood clots. At least once every two hours, get up, stretch, bend side to side, twist back and forth at your waist, and slowly reach down to touch your toes. Now walk behind your chair, grasp the chair back for balance, and do 20 or 30 toe-raises. Next, do 10 or 20 squats. Believe it or not, you’ve just had a workout, and it probably took all of 2 minutes.
Now...get back to work!   

Here's to your wellness,


The Health Benefits of Meditation

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Many practitioners of meditation praise its many benefits, based in traditions found in many cultures where silence and quieting the mind is used to focus prayer, achieve a state of elevated consciousness or centering oneself in the moment. It is a practice that is part of what is called the mind-body connection, in which the two parts are joined as complements to heal several types of ailments. Studies have proven that even a few minutes of daily mediation can restore calm and inner peace, providing an enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

There are several types of meditation. Some of the most common mental practices include: guided mediation, in which one follows a script that is read by another person or a recording; mantra-based meditation, where a phrase or word is repeated over and over; mindfulness, a meditation which seeks to attain a sense of one’s presence in regard to the universe; and transcendental, which also uses a mantra to gain a perfect stillness. Some meditation forms can be more physical and include: Qi gong, which comes from traditional Chinese medicine and includes a combination of meditation, relaxation exercises, physical motion and breathing exercises; Tai chi, a form a Chinese martial arts that involves postures and movements accompanied by deep breathing; and yoga, which combines holding postures and different breathing techniques.

Recent studies have been concerned with discovering how meditation works in the brain to block out distraction and alleviate pain. MIT and Harvard have done landmark studies to examine how meditation specifically affects alpha waves in the brain. As the brain is trained to meditate and the longer a person practices meditation, alpha waves minimize distractions and increase concentration by pushing away outside stimuli. As the alpha waves move through the brain cortex, they also disrupt sensory signals and can disrupt tactile signals like pain.

A 1966 study of Buddhist monks who meditated regularly showed they had elevated brain waves, demonstrating that a person can increase alpha waves over time. Other recent studies have shown exactly how individuals who meditate are better able to control pain. There seems to be a natural connection when meditating to receiving tactile information from the hands and feet specifically. When asked to pay attention to body sensations, subjects in a study used breathing techniques to focus on physical sensations. From this, subjects moved to feet, hands and other body areas.

After the study, the amount of alpha waves in the subjects had increased, especially when asked to focus on a body part. The message of this experiment was not only how powerful meditation was as a tool, but also the potential it holds it unlocking our own body’s healing and pain relieving abilities. While the secret of curing chronic pain through meditation still needs further investigation, we know meditation can help patients tune out pain signals and make them less reactive to the stress caused by pain.

Here's to your wellness,


Blast Away Back Fat!

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For many women, battling the bulge is an around the clock affair fraught with frustration and an overwhelming feeling of failure when all of (what felt like) hard work results in little or no movement on the scale. Sound like you? Unless you have been diagnosed as “weight loss resistant” or you take one the more than 100 medications that cause weight gain, you don’t have to be. You can get rid of those unsightly bulges around your back, butt, and belly by dedicating your life to two things—eating right and exercising.

You’ve probably heard that you can “spot reduce” without paying much attention to other areas that need help. Unfortunately, no matter where the fat may have settled, focusing on that one trouble spot won’t work. You have to work on your entire body inside and out if you want noticeable and lasting results.

So, to blast away back fat you have to start with blasting all of the bad food in your icebox. Stock your fridge and cupboards with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans & legumes, and healthy proteins such as fish and skinless chicken. At every meal, pile on the fruits and/or veggies (should make up 50 percent of more of your plate), a serving of protein (beans are packed with protein too), and a grain such as cereal, brown rice or whole wheat bread. Eating this way will also help your system process and eliminate food waste better because fiber intake will increase, naturally.

While snacking between meals is an excellent way to keep the metabolism revved, you have to know what types of snacks to choose. Stay away from refined carbs (cookies, cake, candy, chips) and reach for snacks such as Brussels sprouts and carrots, seaweed (roasted of course), apples & almond butter, Greek yogurt, avocado, nut mix (raw),  hard boiled eggs, berries, or edamame. Once your diet is under control, you will likely notice some weight loss, which is likely water weight. Exercise will help you continue to lose fat and tone those trouble areas.

While exercising and dieting, you might notice that the one half to two pounds you’re losing each week seems to be disappearing from everywhere but your back. The back is one of the most stubborn areas of the body, so you must learn to be patient. If you are truly dedicated and persistent, the fat will start to melt away when you least expect it. Just stick with it. To ensure success, you must cross train (cardio) and strength train.

Cardio should be done anywhere from three to five days a week, and weight training at least two days a week with a day or two of rest in between. Shoot for 30 minutes to an hour of cardio exercise such as jogging, swimming, cycling or power walking or take an aerobics class such as Zumba or Step. If you can squeeze it into your schedule, try Pilates or Yoga a few times a month. Both routines, whether done at home or at the health club, lengthen and tone the body all over to create muscles that help burn fat without the bulk.

As for strength training, head-to-toe training is key, with a strong focus on exercises that tone and strengthen the back. Prevention Magazine recommends engaging in these back exercises five times per week, but the routine might be too demanding to maintain long-term. Engaging several times per week is plenty and this will help prevent burn out. Good luck!

Here's to your wellness,


Vitamins A to Zinc

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You should strive as much as possible to obtain the vitamins and minerals your body needs from your diet. Here is a rundown on the most important ones and where you’ll find them.

Calcium – helps keep bones and teeth healthy, maintain the nervous system, and with blood clotting. Sources: milk, hard cheese, yogurt, and spinach.

Copper – important for iron metabolism. Sources: nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Folic Acid (Folate) – helps cell development, heart health, and protein metabolism. Helps prevent birth defects during pregnancy. Sources: whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, and fortified cereals.

Iron – helps maintain healthy red blood cells. Sources: red meat, eggs, and lentils.

Magnesium – helps keep nerves and muscles healthy, and strengthen bones. Sources: almonds, Brazil nuts, soybeans and cruciferous vegetables.

Selenium – helps prevent cell damage, keep thyroid hormones regular. Sources: seafood, organ meats, and Brazil nuts.

Vitamin A – keeps vision and immune system healthy. Sources: sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, and pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – helps process carbs and protein. Sources: cereal, and whole grains.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – converts food into energy and helps make red blood cells. Sources: milk and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – helps with digestive processes and production of cholesterol. Sources: poultry, fish whole grains and enriched cereals.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) – helps with metabolism of fatty acids. Sources: tomatoes, potatoes, oats, and cereal.

Vitamin B6 – keeps nervous system healthy, helps with metabolism of sugar and proteins. Sources: organ meats, fortified soy products, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin) – helps the body synthesize amino acids, glycogen, and fats. Sources: Fruit, liver, and meat.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) – helps make red blood cells. Sources: meat, fortified cereal, poultry, fish.

Vitamin C – protects cells, boost immune system. Sources: citrus fruits, broccoli, red and green peppers.

Vitamin D – helps keep bones healthy by metabolizing calcium. Sources: fish liver oils, flax seed, fortified milk and cereal, exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin E – protects cells. Sources: peanut butter, sunflower seeds, almonds, and vegetable oil.

Vitamin K – vital for bone health and blood clotting. Sources: Brussels sprouts, collards, cabbage, and spinach.

Zinc – helps support reproduction, immune system, and nerve function. Sources: seafood, red meat, fortified cereal.

Try and incorporate the foods that contain these vitamins into your daily & weekly routine and before you know it you will be on the road to better health.

Here's to your wellness,


7 Ways to Defy Your Age Inside and Out

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You have to hand it to humankind: we’re a tragicomical lot.

Despite the fact that more of us are growing older than at any time in history, we’re fighting harder than any previous generation to stay young. And, rather than approach this absurd paradox with anything resembling common sense, we turn en masse to Botox injections, anti-aging hormones, and a cosmetic surgery industry that promises to lift and contour just about any body part we can drag to the operating table.

As a result, a slew of Americans now look suspiciously like Batman’s “Joker,” and they’re collectively spending over $10 billion a year for the privilege. While cosmetic or reconstructive surgery undeniably has its place, there are much simpler – and possibly more effective – ways to defy the aging process:

1. Get some exercise. Regular physical activity not only keeps your weight down and helps you stay light on your feet; it tones the muscles that support your pelt. Breaking a sweat a few times a week also helps clear your pores, which can’t help but make your skin look more youthful.

2. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. You may have been a party animal once upon a time, but research shows that people who get adequate sleep have fewer health problems, including high blood pressure, musculoskeletal pain, and obesity. Besides, there’s nothing that will make you look older faster than a couple of handbags beneath your weary eyes.

3. Eat properly. Those preservatives they put in processed foods are designed to improve the foods’ shelf life, not yours. The saturated and trans fats, preservatives, sugars, and other oxidizing agents found in processed foods are tough on your skin as well as your insides. Limit your intake of animal proteins and eat more fruits and vegetables, which are packed with antioxidants and other phytochemicals that will keep you glowing all the way through.   

4. If you smoke, quit. In addition to subtracting years from your life, smoking adds years to your face. Gazing into the visage of a longtime smoker is like perusing a topography map of South Dakota’s badlands.

5. Don’t be a slave to the sun. Sunlight can be your friend, but it can be your skin’s worst enemy. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure each day will infuse your system with up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D, and that’s a good thing. But 10 to 15 minutes beneath el Sol is plenty; prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light breaks down the elastin in your skin, which eventually lets your skin sag and droop…and there’s no good way to compensate for the loss of your skin’s youthful stretch.

6. Unload some stress. Get a massage, meditate, or go for a run. If you can’t get a handle on stress, seek counseling. Chronic worry increases your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, and it shows on your exterior, too. People who are stressed tend to frown or scowl, which creates furrows that make them look older. (Ever notice how people with “laugh lines” look younger than those who wear their stress on their faces? If you’re going to get some facial wrinkles anyway, go for the ones that shout, “I’m still a kid!”)

7. Keep the romance in your life. People who are in love simply look and feel younger. According to scientists who are supposed to know such things, we make youth-preserving hormones when we touch our lovers. On a whim, pick up a card or a bouquet of flowers for your mate; go on a date at least once a month; take walks that are specifically designed to discuss your hopes and dreams, rather than your worries and fears. And leave your work behind when you come home.

None of these tips is earth-shaking, and none will suddenly erase those pesky “elevens” between your eyebrows. However, they’re all doable, they all confer long-term benefits, and they’re all safe and cheap.

Here's to your wellness,


How to Train for a Marathon

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If you are looking for a way to add a sense of purpose and adventure to your workout, training for a competitive event like a marathon can be extremely rewarding. Running a marathon – that’s 26.2 miles for a full marathon or 13.1 for a half-marathon - is a unique experience that will set you apart from the crowd. In fact, less than 1% of the world has successfully completed a marathon. Preparing for a marathon requires the right motivation, safety, proper nutrition and a training schedule. Even the greatest willpower and determination will not get you across the finish line without these crucial elements.

Before you start your marathon training, you should identify what you hope to gain from this intense experience. If it is weight loss or improving your fitness level, you may want to reconsider; having a deeper purpose or motivation may be what carries you through the most difficult moments of the race. Many racers run in tribute to a loved one who has passed away or after surviving an illness or traumatic event. Just about anyone can run a marathon with the right motivation combined with the right training.

For beginners, training should begin at least 16 weeks before the race, although some runners choose a less intense 26-week schedule. Make sure you have the proper gear, which includes two to three pairs of shoes from a specialty running store. You want your shoes to provide proper support for your arches and pronation. Nutrition is at the core of training. 65% of your diet should consist of complex carbohydrates, 10% protein and 20-25% unsaturated fats. You must maintain proper nutrition to stay strong during training and recovery periods. Recovery is also essential as you must take days off so your body can recuperate. These days are ideal for icing sore areas like shins and knees and performing stretching exercises. Maintaining hydration before, during and after a run will keep your body healthy and maintain body weight. As you run, you should consume six to eight ounces of liquid every 20 minutes; if you are running in the heat or cold, drink additional fluids.

Before you start your marathon training, you should be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. Gradually increase mileage each week; your longest run should be 18-20 miles. Taper off before the final weeks of the marathon so your body can recover and be strong on marathon day. Carbo-load the entire week before the race.

There are marathons all over the world to choose from. Some beginners prefer larger ones because of the support of running with a group. Make sure you get a copy of the map of marathon route. Be aware if you will be running a flat or hilly race and train accordingly. Finally, bring your family and friends to cheer you on throughout the course and as you reach the finish line.

Here's to your wellness,


Symptoms of Depression

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We’ve all been there. You wake up feeling blue and you look at the window only to see that its dark and rainy outside and its not letting up. You sigh and say to yourself, “I am so depressed,” as you bury your body beneath your blankets and vow never to leave your bed again. Fortunately, like the rain, your mood will let up eventually and the sun will shine again. You are not depressed. Clinical depression is more complicated than the feelings of sadness triggered by a few raindrops.

Depression is an intense feeling of sadness that won’t go away. The feeling is so severe, it interferes with normal functioning. While a feeling of general (and temporary) sadness may follow a break-up, job loss, death in the family or other sad event, with depression, the feelings are out of proportion to that event and last well beyond an appropriate length of time. A depressed person can also feel intense fear, they may be overly anxious, and feel sluggish. A depressed person may be unable to complete simple physical tasks such as showering or brushing their teeth while in a depressive state.

Besides an emotionally draining event, imbalances in the body, a brain or nervous system disorder, certain cancers, infections, nutritional disorders, connective tissue disorders, heredity, and certain drugs may contribute to depression. Gender may also play a role in depression. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, although the reasons for this are unclear.

Symptoms of depression include:

• Anxiety
• Being withdrawn
• Feelings of despair and loneliness
• Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
• Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
• Indecisiveness
• Intense feeling of sadness
• Intense feelings of guilt
• Irritability
• Lack of concentration
• Low self-esteem
• Preoccupation with death
• Self-denigration
• Thoughts of death and suicide
• Significant weight gain or loss

In addition, depressed people may be unable to experience emotions such as grief, joy, and pleasure in a normal way. It is important to note that many of the symptoms listed above are symptoms of other conditions. This is why it is important to speak with your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of depression for extended periods. While most symptoms of depression are considered serious, thoughts of death and suicide are among the most serious. Around 15 percent of untreated depressed people commit suicide. The other 85 percent (if left untreated) may experience depression for several years or they may have repeated episodes averaging four to five times during their lifetime.

Treatment for Depression

Depression is a serious condition that requires intense treatment. Drug therapy (antidepressants), psychotherapy (in mild cases), and electroconvulsive therapy (in severe cases) are used to treat depression. A combination of psychotherapy and drug therapy may be used in severe cases as well. The type of treatment will depend on the type and level of depression. So again, speak with your doctor immediately if you suspect depression. 

Here's to your wellness,

Your Body on a Detox

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In this day and age, there is a certain inevitability that your body is going to be exposed to levels of toxic substances whether you like it or not. Unfortunately these come from many sources, including exposure to environmental toxins such as lead, mercury and other chemicals that are dumped into our environment daily as well as health-threatening chemicals found in processed foods.

Fortunately, there is something you can do about it. You can detoxify your body. Detoxification is a process of removing the health-threatening toxins from your body to promote wellness and reduce your risk of disease. A detox program can help eliminate toxins from your liver and boost your immune system. There are several different ways you can do this.

Cleansing Supplements


These packages generally contain a series of drinks and supplements that are rich in fiber, herbs and vitamins. There are a number of safe products on the market. They are designed to flush out your intestinal system allowing you to start afresh.

Fasting

A 24-48 hour fast is another way of removing toxins from your system. Though it takes a little discipline it can pay off in the end. Of course you will need to drink plenty of water or fruit juice so that you stay hydrated. You should always consult your physician before considering fasting.

Probiotic Supplements

Probiotic supplements contain live bacteria that naturally populate our gastrointestinal tracts. They aid digestion and help fight disease. If your diet is unbalanced or you have recently suffered an illness, the healthy bacteria in your gut and intestine may be depleted. Taking a probiotic supplement can help to rebalance your gastrointestinal eco system.

You can also:

• Reduce the amount of processed food in your diet, such as processes meat and cheese, and foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.
• Quit smoking.
• Reduce your alcohol consumption.
• Cut down on coffee, sodas and other caffeinated beverages.

Once you have cleansed your body and you start to maintain a healthier lifestyle, you will begin to notice the following benefits:

• improved immune functions
• fewer allergies
• improved concentration
• better sleep patterns
• improved digestion and absorption of nutrients
• ability to maintain a healthy weight
• increased energy levels

It won’t take long before you are reaping the rewards of detoxification. As well as feeling physically and mentally healthier, you can also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you took control of your life.

Here's to your wellness,

Increased Anxiety in America …Why?

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Anxiety is increasing and affecting more Americans than ever… Is it because we accept our disorders as normal and acceptable behavior? Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder.

Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek information and treatment right away.

Your doctor or health professional should:

• Describe the symptoms of anxiety disorders
• Explain the role of research in understanding the causes of these conditions
• Describe effective treatments
• Help you learn how to obtain treatment and work with a doctor or therapist
• Suggest ways to make treatment more effective

Other anxiety disorders are:

• Panic disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)
• Specific phobias
• Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, but all the symptoms cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread. Panic disorder is a real illness that can be successfully treated. It is characterized by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness. During these attacks, people with panic disorder may flush or feel chilled; their hands may tingle or feel numb; and they may experience nausea, chest pain, or smothering sensations. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control. A fear of one’s own unexplained physical symptoms are also a symptom of panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or on the verge of death. They can’t predict when or where an attack will occur, and between episodes many worry intensely and dread the next attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, even during sleep. An attack usually peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last much longer.

Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults1 and is twice as common in women as men. Panic attacks often begin in late adolescence or early adulthood, but not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder. Many people have just one attack and never have another. The tendency to develop panic attacks appears to be inherited.

People who have full-blown, repeated panic attacks can become very disabled by their condition and should seek treatment before they start to avoid places or situations where panic attacks have occurred. For example, if a panic attack happened in an elevator, someone with panic disorder may develop a fear of elevators that could affect the choice of a job or an apartment, and restrict where that person can seek medical attention or enjoy entertainment.

Some people’s lives become so restricted that they avoid normal activities, such as grocery shopping or driving. About one-third become housebound or are able to confront a feared situation only when accompanied by a spouse or other trusted person. 2 When the condition progresses this far, it is called agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces.

Early treatment can often prevent agoraphobia, but people with panic disorder may sometimes go from doctor to doctor for years and visit the emergency room repeatedly before someone correctly diagnoses their condition. This is unfortunate, because panic disorder is one of the most treatable of all the anxiety disorders, responding in most cases to certain kinds of medication or certain kinds of cognitive psychotherapy, which help change thinking patterns that lead to fear and anxiety.

Panic disorder is often accompanied by other serious problems, such as depression, drug abuse, or alcoholism. These conditions need to be treated separately. Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, low energy, and difficulty concentrating. Most people with depression can be effectively treated with antidepressant medications, certain types of psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

Here's to your wellness,

Cut Sugar, Shed Pounds

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What could the American Heart Association have been thinking back in 2010 when it recommended that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar every day and women limit themselves to a scant 6 teaspoons? After all, a teaspoon of sugar only packs about 17 calories, so how much damage can a few teaspoons really do to America’s collective waistline? And how bad can sugar really be if the U.S. government pays growers nearly $2 billion annually to keep bringing it to our tables?

Farming subsidies and the associated politics aside, sugar has recently garnered the attention of scientists who probably aren’t impressed by the bucolic vista of a sugar beet or cane field. Those researchers have been churning out lots of data about sugar – and the news isn’t good.

Table sugar, or sucrose, is a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. As soon as sucrose hits your small intestine it is rapidly broken into its constituent monosaccharides and absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, glucose barrels into your circulation; fructose gets sequestered in your liver, where it can be converted to glucose, stored as glycogen, or transformed into fatty acids and triglycerides.

One of the immediate effects of a rising blood glucose level is an outpouring of insulin from your pancreas. Insulin drives glucose into your cells – mainly those in muscle, liver, and fat – where it can be used for energy or stored as glycogen or fat. Because the glucose from table sugar hits your bloodstream so quickly, your system sees a “spike” of insulin every time you guzzle a soft drink or slurp down a bowlful of breakfast cereal. Since one of insulin’s primary effects is to make your cells store fat, an insulin spike is not a good thing for someone who’s trying to lose weight.

As for the fructose you get from a spoonful of sugar, your liver will convert it to glycogen and squirrel it away if it’s short on energy stores. However, this doesn’t take long, especially in well-fed individuals…like most Americans. Thus, it only takes a small amount of sugar in your diet to ramp up your liver’s triglyceride-making machinery. All of the resulting triglycerides are then either stored in your liver, where they can contribute to fatty liver disease, or they get dumped into your bloodstream and transported to your hips, abdomen, breasts, or wherever else your body likes to store fat.

Depending on your personal metabolic makeup, then, even a little sugar could frustrate your efforts to lose weight. And it could have even more serious long-term health effects. A compelling body of evidence suggests that excess sugar consumption (i.e., more than those 6 to 9 teaspoons daily) increases your risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

It’s a good thing “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”: America’s love affair with sweets might have a lot of us visiting our favorite pharmacies fairly regularly.  

Here's to your wellness,


How Probiotics Work

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Probiotics are live, single cell, microscopic bacteria that are beneficial for the body. The word “probiotic” is from the Latin “for life.” While they are most commonly associated with gastrointestinal health, research and practice has demonstrated the potential for probiotics in the field of immunology and study of allergies.

With our hand sanitizers in tow, it seems we are always on the hunt to kill bacteria that might cause us to become ill. It might overwhelm you to know that the number of bacterial microbes in the human body is in the quadrillions (that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000 bacterial cells!) divided into 1,000 bacterial species found primarily in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. In the 25-35 feet of the gastrointestinal tract alone, there are 400 species of bacterium. Some of these are beneficial to human health while others cause harm. One of the most important jobs probiotics perform is to create a barrier against harmful bacterium and viruses. Others help to defend the body by overpowering invading organisms.

An overview of positive functions that probiotics contribute include: breaking down food for digestion; providing the lactase enzyme in order to help digest milk sugars; contributing vitamins in the intestinal tract; helping the gastrointestinal tract maintain an optimal pH that is not too acidic that would damage tissues and organs; alleviate lactose intolerance; decrease and prevent diarrhea; increase the body’s immune system; decrease inflammation not only in the gastrointestinal tract but throughout the body; prevent allergic reactions; and decrease chronic constipation.

Specific situations will upset the body’s equilibrium of healthy bacterium. One is the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics do kill illness-causing bacteria that make us sick; unfortunately, they also destroy all other life around it, specifically the probiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. One especially predatory bacterial illness, often found in nursing homes and hospitals, is Clostridium difficil, or C. difficil.  Patients who are on long-term antibiotics are vulnerable to C. difficile because it attacks individuals whose protective gastrointestinal bacteria has been wiped out. Part of the treatment involves introducing probiotics back into the system. Taking helpful oral probiotics can help the beneficial bacteria overpower the harmful bacteria more effectively than prescription yeast infection medications.

The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, which present problems for thousands of individuals for whom doctors cannot offer any specific treatment, can be alleviated significantly by certain probiotics. Patients have found a decrease in intestinal pain as well as stomach pain and overall discomfort.
   
Current medical research into the value of using probiotics is making progress in certain hard to treat illnesses like Ulcerative Colitis and Eczema. In treating any specific illness, you must use the specific fresh, live probiotic for that illness. Taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic rich foods like yogurt with live cultures is good for you, but it won’t cure a specific complaint.

Here's to your wellness,


Water's Not Just for Drinking

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Ok so water isn’t the number one drink in the U.S.—soft drinks currently hold the crown, but this beneficial base for all beverages runs a close second to soft drinks thanks to thanks to all out war on sugar-laden drinks and aggressive bottled water companies that have made it easy to drink plenty of H2O on the go. Many Americans now follow the advice “drink eight to ten glasses a day” to avoid dehydration, energize the muscles, rid the body of toxins, and keep skin looking healthy. But did you know that water offers an endless number of other benefits that have nothing to do with drinking it?

From your local YMCA to 24 Hour Fitness, water is one of the most utilized forms of resistance in group fitness classes across the U.S. You may have seen them on your monthly class schedule or on a bulletin board with names like aqua aerobics, warm water exercise, water fitness, and HydroRide. Besides offering one of the safest forms of resistance for all levels, water exercise classes such as these can help relieve symptoms associated with conditions from arthritis to fibromyalgia to stiff and stubborn joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water-based exercise improves the health of diabetes and heart disease patients, it can improve bone health, assist in healing injuries, and it can decrease anxiety and depression.

What’s even better about water-based exercise is you don’t have to engage in hours and hours of activity to reap the benefits. The CDC states that just two and a half hours per week of aerobic exercise (such as water-based exercise), can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. Most group classes last an hour, so logging 2.5 should be easy, especially if you have access to a health club or a YMCA. You can even do aqua aerobics on your own in any of the environments listed, or at your local public pool or the beach!

So, what’s the best water-based exercise? All are excellent options, but let’s talk a bit about HydroRide. Water resistance is around 12 times greater than air resistance. HydroRide combines this water resistance with a stainless steel “hydrobike” to create an intense form of exercise that conditions the body from head to toe. It’s like taking a spinning class—but the pool is your studio.

HydroRide is highly effective for a number of reasons. The use of underwater exercise machines allows the muscles to be exercised in all directions. The natural buoyancy of water supports the body while moving the arms and legs is equivalent to exercising with weights. The end result? The muscles involved receive a more comprehensive workout and are not isolated as with typical dry land exercise routines. In addition, there’s no forward impact on the joints. This is a plus for those with sensitive joints and injured athletes. The use of freestanding underwater fitness equipment allows these individuals to continue working out through even the toughest injuries.

HydroRide consists of a 15-minute warm-up of low intensity cycling and arm movements designed to get the heart rate up and increase circulation. For the next 30 minutes or so, riders slowly increase resistance and engage in more aggressive moves such as sprints and jumps. In addition, webbed gloves and water weights are used with arm movements to work the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and forearms. The lower back and abs get a challenging workout as well due to water resistance.

At the end of the workout, slow cycling and stretching moves help to cool down and release tension in the joints. Crunch Fitness Center (where HydroRide made its debut) estimates that HydroRiders burn an average of 600 calories per hour, but everyone's metabolism is different. Keep in mind, however, that even if you don't burn 600 calories during class, exercise at any level still helps increase metabolism, muscle mass, bone density, and it releases endorphins—the body’s natural pain killers.

So far, Hydrobikes cost around $800 each. No word yet on when they'll become available to the public. Until then, check your local health club, YMCA, game center, park district, or rehab institute to find out if they offer HydroRide. If they don’t, chances are another type of water-based class will be on the menu.

Here's to your wellness,


Stretching: The Key to an Effective Workout

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Stretching (strech•ing): Any activity that singularly promotes flexibility by increasing range of motion through movement and formal stretching techniques such as static (reach-and-hold) and ballistic (stretch-reflex) stretches.

Back in the 80s when high-energy aerobics dominated the fitness landscape, it was believed that running, jumping, or sweating up a storm alone were the only paths to physical fitness. Today, physical fitness has less to do with sprints and sweat storms and more to do with total body conditioning, strengthening, and sculpting. Fitness has evolved into a physical, mental, and spiritual journey, and today’s top trainers agree that fitness is a complete package of elements—and it's a lot more fun!

There are three major elements to achieving the maximum benefits from your workout:

-Cardiovascular Exercise
-Strength Training
-Flexibility

Cardiovascular exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and a healthy weight. In addition, cardio exercise helps to stave off the ravages of sedentary lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The significance of cardiovascular exercise (along with a healthy diet, and the other elements listed) prompted the Surgeon General to issue this warning:“Not exercising can be hazardous to your health.”
 
The Surgeon General expounds on the importance of cardiovascular exercise and how to reap the most benefits:

“Some physical activity is better than none, and more is even better. Physical activity should not be viewed as an all-or-nothing venture; this mindset welcomes barriers and, ultimately, inactivity. Research shows that at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or an equivalent combination of the two) each week consistently reduces the risk of many chronic diseases and adverse health events among adults. Doubling those numbers to 300 and 150 minutes per week, respectively (or an equivalent combination), is associated with additional and more extensive health benefits.”

Strength training has become an integral part of a good exercise regimen as well for several reasons. The muscle gained from weight bearing exercise boosts metabolism and helps burn fat. Simply put, with continued strength training, muscle gradually replaces fat and that muscle continues to help burn fat. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that strength training helps reduce the signs and symptoms of diseases and chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.

The Surgeon General recommends adding strength training to your routine two or more days per week to enjoy maximum benefits. 

Flexibility is the one element that's often overlooked. Some people may feel that a half-hearted attempt at a few floppy arm stretches or clumsy leg moves is enough to stretch the muscles before and after a somewhat rigorous exercise routine. What they don’t realize is stretching is absolutely necessary before and after any form of exercise.

Stretching major muscle groups is essential to any exercise program and for optimal physical health particularly since tight muscles can cause you to exercise and move incorrectly by shifting body weight and motion to other muscles. Also, if a muscle isn't used enough it tends to become shorter, tighter and much weaker. This happens gradually over time, leaving many adults vulnerable to connective tissue injuries, back pain or chronic muscle overuse/overstress.

Aesthetically speaking, stretching on a regular basis lengthens muscles, which prevents them from becoming bulky. This is good news for women that don’t care for the “muscley” look. Stretching also gives the body a more lean or toned look and it improves posture and balance.

So how does stretching help accomplish all of these wonderful things? Stretching causes the elastic connective tissue (called the fascia) surrounding a muscle to lengthen. Stretching on a daily or near daily basis can make the entire muscle longer. Any Pilates practitioner can attest to this as one of the side effects of Pilates is a longer body—however slight.

For stretching to have a permanent effect, the connective tissue must be warmed-up first either through a heating device (this is common in physical therapy situations) or physical activity. Try running on a treadmill or pavement for 5-10 minutes (give it your all) or biking (stationary or other wise). Experts agree that stretching is always best after a brief warm-up.

Here are a few tips for stretching:

• You should incorporate stretching into your strengthening workout a bare minimum of three times a week. Stretching before and after every workout is always a better.

• Technique is extremely important. Moves should be slow and gentle. The body should not be forced into position. Once in position, don't bounce as this may make the muscle tighter or even cause injury. As you relax into the stretch, the amount of stretch may increase. It takes at least 20 seconds for the muscle to begin relaxing, which is why a minimum of 20 seconds is necessary for any stretch. As your muscles continue to relax into the stretch, consider extending the time commitment to a minute or so.

• Breathing correctly helps relax the muscles even further. As you inhale deeply, visualize the new supply of oxygen going directly to the area you are stretching. On a slow exhale, feel yourself melting into the stretch. Always come out of the stretch in a slow and controlled motion.

• Always work at your own pace to ensure safety for yourself. Never compare your flexibility to anyone else’s. A safe stretch generally feels good, especially if you keep it in your comfort range each time. This will increase if you are stretching on a regular basis.

And finally, remember—stretch slowly, holding and releasing slowly, and breathe.

Here's to your wellness,


Fat Frying Fitness Foods

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After you have eaten a meal, your body uses energy to process the nutrients. This causes an increase in your rate of metabolism known as the thermic effect. Some types of food have a greater thermic effect than others, meaning that they increase the rate of resting metabolism, helping burn calories a little faster. Adding more of these foods to your diet can increase your metabolic rate, helping you maintain a healthy weight. Here’s a rundown on some of the most thermic foods.

Whole Grains

Whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal put your body to work burning twice as many calories as other foods.

High-fiber Carbs

You can boost your metabolism by increasing your daily consumption of high-fiber carbs such as yams, multigrain cereal, pears, apples, cantaloupes, oranges, asparagus, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and grapefruit.

Green Tea

Green tea contains chemicals called catechins as well as caffeine. Both of these can increase thermic effect, and in combination, may also boost each others effect.

Protein

A diet that is high in protein is has a greater thermic effect that one which is high in fats or carbs. Around 30 percent of the calories in high-protein food is burned during digestion. Good sources of protein include eggs, nuts, legumes, lean red meat and poultry.

Hot Peppers

You can kick your metabolism up a notch with red peppers. If you can stand the heat, jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne and paprika are particularly beneficial.

Foods to Avoid

Some foods have a very low thermic effect, such as fats. These have only 3 percent effect, which is why they are so easily stored in the body. Simple carbs also have little thermic effect. Avoid foods containing saturated fats, processed foods with a high content of refined sugar, commercially baked goods like cookies, crackers and cake, and fried foods.

Try including these in your diet to rev up your metabolism and burn calories quickly!

Here's to your wellness,


Facts about Trans Fats

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Researchers have discovered that fat is an important part of a healthy diet. Increased evidence presents that many fats are healthy to ingest and actually reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Healthy fats also help our glucose and insulin metabolism and therefore contribute to our goals of long-term weight loss and weight maintenance. Furthermore, healthy fats make foods taste better they help us enjoy the journey to a healthier lifestyle. However, all fats are not the same--there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats.

Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats, found in coconut, olive and canola oils, peanuts and other nuts, peanut butter, and avocados. Monounsaturated fats lower total LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol - which accumulates in and clogs artery walls--while maintaining levels of HDL (healthy) cholesterol, which carries cholesterol from artery walls and delivers it to the liver for disposal.

Omega-3 fatty acids - polyunsaturated fats found in cold-water fish, canola oil, flax-seeds, walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts--also count as good fat. Recent studies have shown that populations that eat more omega-3s, such as Eskimos (whose diets are heavy on fish), have fewer serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. There is evidence that omega-3 oils help prevent or treat depression, arthritis, asthma, and colitis and help prevent cardiovascular deaths.

Unhealthy fats include saturated fats - the heart-clogging kind found in butter, fatty red meats, and full-fat dairy products. Very unhealthy fats are the man made trans fats. Trans fats, which are created when hydrogen gas reacts with oil, are found in many packaged foods, including margarine, cookies, cakes, cake icings, doughnuts, and potato chips. Trans fats are worse than saturated fats; they are unhealthy for our blood vessels, nervous systems, and waistline.

Technical Trans Fat Facts

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) - - These are also commonly known as trans fats. They are formed during the process of making cooking oils, margarine, and shortening and are in commercially fried foods, baked goods, cookies, and crackers. Some are naturally found in small amounts in some animal products, such as beef, pork, lamb, and the butterfat in butter and milk. In studies, TFAs tend to raise our total blood cholesterol. TFAs also tend to raise LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol and lower HDL (healthy) cholesterol. One study found that the four main sources of trans fatty acids in women’s diets come from margarine, meat (beef, pork, or lamb), cookies, and white bread. At this time, TFAs are not listed on nutrition labels, but that will soon change. Although it might take a couple of years to begin seeing it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now asking food manufacturers to begin labeling TFA content. And some food manufacturers are announcing they are taking TFAs out of their food.

Fats are required by the body to function properly. Besides being energy source, fat is a nutrient that has the component required in the production of cell membranes, as well as in several hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids. These compounds help regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting and the nervous system. In addition, dietary fat is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins - vitamins A, D, E and K - from the food into the body. Fat also helps maintain healthy hair and skin, protects vital organs, keeps your body insulated, and provides satiety - a sense of fullness after meals.

However, too much fat can have negative impact on health. Eating large amounts of high-fat foods adds excess calories, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. High-fat foods add weight and excess burden on health.

Here's to your wellness,


Mind Power Foods

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When you need to share your problems with someone who truly feels your pain, choose a friend who is vegan or vegetarian. According to a new study by a group of European researchers, people who don't eat meat are more empathetic to the suffering of others.  

The investigators recruited 60 subjects—20 omnivores, 19 vegetarians and 21 vegans—and conducted a series of tests aimed at measuring empathy. On a written test—the empathy quotient questionnaire—the vegetarians and vegans scored significantly higher than the omnivores. There were also striking differences in neural activity when the subjects viewed images of human suffering and animal suffering.

Using brain scans, the researchers showed that “empathy related” areas of the brain were more active among the vegetarians and vegans in comparison to the meat-eaters as they viewed the images depicting both human and animal suffering. In addition, when viewing images of animal suffering, the vegetarians and vegans experienced activity in empathy-related areas of their brains that weren’t affected by the images of human suffering.

The study is preliminary with a number of design weaknesses, but it adds support to the idea that vegetarians may just be different from the rest of the population—and in a good way. For example, earlier research suggests that kids with higher IQs are more likely to grow up to be vegetarian.

That people who make the most compassionate lifestyle choices happen to be smarter and more empathetic than their peers shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you are part of the smart and empathetic crowd but haven’t yet gone vegan, here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Foods Rich in Healthy Fats

Your mental system requires foods rich in healthy fats in order to stay in top gear. The most important type of fat nutrient it requires is known as Omega-3 fatty acid. This is a real miracle food nutrient that helps a lot in improving your brain and every aspect of your mental system. The best sources for Omega-3 fatty acid include fishes such as Salmon, Albacore Tuna. It can also be gotten from Flax-seed oil, Canola oil, Walnuts, Eggs and other sources.

2. Foods Rich in Antioxidants

The human mind also needs special foods items rich in antioxidants in order to stay healthy. In most cases, antioxidants help a lot in dealing with free radicals and other toxins that may harm your mental system. There are several sources for antioxidants. You can easily get that from Blueberries, Broccoli, Carrots, Garlic, Red Grapes, Spinach, Tomatoes and Whole grains. Antioxidants are also contained in some tea products such as Ginger tea, Lemon Tea, Green tea, and so on. When you take such teas every morning, your mental system is sure to be improved.

3. Foods Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

If you must improve Mind power, there's every need for you to eat foods rich in minerals and vitamins. These two nutrients are very vital for maintaining sound mental system. Apart from that, they are also very important for the nourishment of your body. Among the basic Vitamins required for mind improvement include Vitamins B6, B12, C and E. The basic sources of Minerals and Vitamins include fruits, vegetables and other food items.

In all, the above are the 3 sets of miracle food items you need to be taking often in order to improve your mind power. Apart from the 3 discussed above, there are other food nutrients you need. Your mind needs protein which can be gotten from dairy products and eggs. It also needs some levels of carbohydrate, iron, calcium, fiber and other nutrients.

Again, you need to take enough water often in order to boost your mind power.

Drink 8 glasses day to keep you hydrated all day. This is sure to help you a lot in the process.

Finally, you can only improve mind power when you take the miracle food items on daily basis. They ought to form part of your daily balanced diet. You may need to consult a dietician to help you plan the diet. You also need to have enough sleep on daily basis in order to augment the efforts of the food items. With these pieces of information discussed here, you're sure to maintain a healthy mind at all times.

Here's to your wellness,


How Much Should I Hydrate Every Day?

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There are different recommendations for water intake each day. Most people have been told they should be drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, which is a reasonable goal. However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Other people may need more than 8 glasses each day.

Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including those who get a lot of exercise, have certain medical conditions, are sick, or are not able to get enough fluids during the course of the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you age, your brain may be unable to sense dehydration and send the signals for thirst.

If you are concerned that you may not be drinking enough water, check your urine. If your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, you are most likely staying well hydrated. On other hand, if your urine is dark and malodorous you may need to increase your daily water intake.

You may need to increase the amount of water you are drinking if you:

• Have certain medical conditions, such as kidney stones or bladder infection
• Are pregnant or breastfeeding
• Are going to be outside during hot weather
• Are going to be exercising
• Have a fever, or have been vomiting or have diarrhea
• Are attempting to lose weight

Body Water Balance

Body water balance represents the net difference between fluid intake and loss. Normal body water turnover in a sedentary adult is from 1 to 3 L/day, the range accountable primarily to differences in insensible water loss, or the evaporation of moisture from the skin. Large variations in fluid intake are controlled by the kidneys, which can produce more or less urine, depending on changes in body fluid volumes. Water loss in air exhaled from the lungs is often ignored with respect to water balance because it is usually offset by water production occurring during aerobic metabolism. Over the course of a day, humans usually regulate daily body water balance remarkably well as a result of thirst and hunger drives coupled with free access to food and beverage. This is accomplished by physiological responses to changes in body water volume and to changes in concentrations of dissolved substances in body fluids, as well as by non-regulatory social-behavioral factors, such as drinking fluids at meetings and parties.

Although minor perturbations in daily body water balance are easily restored to normalcy, the imposition of exercise and environmental stress onto daily activity can seriously threaten fluid balance homeostasis, performance, and health. Abating these consequences is the underlying and unifying basis for developing guidelines for fluid intake before, during, and after exercise, but hydration assessment remains a key component for ensuring full re-hydration in athletes performing frequent and intense exercise in hot weather.

The selection of an appropriate hydration assessment method is a controversial aspect of fluid balance science. All hydration assessment techniques vary greatly in their applicability due to methodological limitations such as the necessary circumstances for measurement (reliability), ease and cost of application (simplicity), sensitivity for detecting small, but meaningful changes in hydration status (accuracy), and the type of dehydration anticipated.

Most circumstances involving strenuous physical exercise require the formation and vaporization of sweat as a principal means of heat removal. When sweat losses produce a body water deficit, the reduced volume of body fluids contains a greater than normal concentration of dissolved substances such as sodium and potassium; this is known as hyper-tonic hypo-volemia, the norm for dehydrated athletes. Clinical hydration assessment techniques for detecting changes in hydration status rely heavily on this alteration in body fluid chemistry.

Here's to your wellness,


Natural Appetite Suppressant Foods

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If you fancy yourself a diligent dieter, then you don’t have to down a diet pill to tame your appetite. Sure, powerful anorectics such as phentermine and amphetamines do work short term, but stop taking them and your normal appetite will return with a vengeance. Take any synthetic appetite suppressant long term and you can count on some disturbing side effects such as dizziness, diarrhea, heart palpitations, insomnia, elevated blood pressure, and even impotence. Fortunately, many natural appetite suppressant foods will do the trick for just about any dieter on a mission.

From American staples such as red delicious apples to exotic Asian edibles such as umeboshi plums, the world is filled with deliciously healthy foods that satiate for hours longer than your average pasta dinner. Whether you’re looking to shed just a few pounds or more than 50, the 24 foods listed below are just a few that can help you reach your goal.

Almonds, Coffee, Green Leafy Vegetables, Salmon, Vegetable Juice, Apples, Dark Chocolate, Green Tea, Skim Milk, Avocado, Eggs, Hot Sauce, Sweet Potatoes, Wasabi, Cayenne Pepper, Flax Seeds, Oatmeal, Tofu, Water, Cinnamon, Ginger, Salad, Umeboshi Plums,   Whey Protein

Let’s look at a few favorites and how they work:

Almonds are rich with antioxidants. Just a handful increases feelings of fullness so you’ll eat less.

Apples take forever to eat. This gives the body time to receive the message that it’s full. Apples boost energy levels and regulate glucose. Whether sweet or tart, apples are also chock full of soluble fiber and pectin—things that make you feel full.

Cayenne Pepper, lemon, and hone
y—this is one of today’s most popular crash diets among celebrities. Though extreme, the cayenne pepper component holds water. Cayenne pepper gives the metabolism a huge boost. Just one teaspoon helps the body burn an extra 10 calories. This super spicy pepper also cuts an average of 60 calories from the next meal.

Coffee (caffeine) and the antioxidants from the coffee beans help boost metabolism and suppress the appetite.

Dark Chocolate (made of at least 70 percent cocoa) contains stearic acid. Stearic acid slows digestion and helps you feel full longer. The bitter taste also sends a signal to the body telling it to decrease the appetite.

Ginger (pure ginger) is a stimulant. It increases energy and improves digestion leading to a less hungry you. 

Green Tea contains catechins, which hinder migration of glucose into the body’s fat cells. This slows the rise of blood sugar, so it remains stable. When blood sugar is stable, your appetite stabilizes as well. 

Oatmeal (particularly steel cut oats) packs a double punch. Oats are slow digesting, which makes you feel full longer. They also suppress the annoying hunger hormone “ghrelin.”

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help increase the appetite suppressing hormone “leptin.”

Water helps the body feel full without adding calories. Drink two 8 oz. glasses before each meal and you’ll cut an impressive 75 to 90 calories per sitting.

By incorporating these foods into your life you can help tame your appetite and suppress spikes of hunger.

Here's to your wellness,


Just How Important Is My BMI?

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Few acronyms have gained as much notoriety as “BMI,” and it’s no wonder: over two thirds of Americans are overweight, and many of us calculate our body mass index to determine where we are on the spectrum of…well, fatness. Once you know your BMI, you have a clear idea of whether you’re underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese, and you can gauge your risk for acquiring certain diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancer.

Or can you?

Although BMI has its uses, it’s far from perfect. BMI has become so popular mainly because it is easy to calculate: you measure your height, you measure your weight, and you plug the two numbers into a mathematical formula that spits out your BMI. In fact, if you look up “BMI” online, you’ll find calculators that will do the math for you. (For those who are mathematically inclined, the formulas for calculating your BMI in metric and avoirdupois systems, respectively, are: BMI = mass (kg) ÷ (height [meters])2 ; BMI = 703 x [mass (lb) ÷ (height[inches])2)

Before you consult the nearest computer to crank out your own BMI, though, it may interest you to know that the result of that calculation may not accurately reflect your true body composition. If you happen to be a well-muscled athlete (male or female), your BMI might indicate that you’re overweight when, in fact, you have very little body fat. Individuals with more robust skeletons (i.e., “big-boned” people) tend to have higher BMIs, too. And if you have a condition that causes you to retain fluid, such as heart failure or liver disease, your BMI is practically meaningless.

Furthermore, the formula we currently use for calculating BMI is flawed. When Adolphe Quetelet (the “father of BMI”) originally devised his method for quantifying variations in human body weight in 1832, his formula was slightly more complicated than today’s cipher: Quetelet used exponents that varied from 2.3 to 2.7, rather than the simple square. If you’re a numbers fanatic you’ll understand the consequences of such a tweak in the denominator of a mathematical formula. Suffice it to say that Dr. Quetelet probably wouldn’t have calculated your BMI the same way your physician did.

Besides, BMI was never really intended to diagnose individual obesity. It is far more useful for following weight trends in a population, which was its original purpose.  In this setting, individual inconsistencies tend to get cancelled out by statistical trends. Even when it’s appropriately used to track groups of people, BMI cutoff values for a given demographic group may need to be adjusted to account for traits that are unique to that group. Despite the limitations of BMI, however, it is still widely used to diagnose individual weight disorders.

Ultimately, BMI provides only a rough estimate of a person’s body composition, and it might not provide any meaningful information about a given individual’s health risks. Clearly, someone with a BMI over 30 (the cutoff for frank obesity) is likely to be confronting some health issues, but other indicators — waist-to-hip ratio, for instance — might be more useful assessment tools.

Here's to your wellness,


Six Secrets to Firing Up Your Metabolism

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Everyone who is determined to lose weight and keep it off should know the secrets to firing up your metabolism. How quickly your body burns calories depends on a number of critical factors including:

• Your genes—some people are born with a speedier metabolism than others.
• Your gender—men burn calories faster than women even when they are resting.
• Your age—your metabolism starts to slow down after the age of 40.

By paying attention to your daily diet and lifestyle habits you can take control of your metabolism and encourage it to work in your favor. Here are six guaranteed ways to boost your metabolism and burn more calories.

Start the Day Right

The first step to kicking your metabolism up a notch is starting the day with a healthy breakfast, every day. If you skip this important meal, you’ll drive your body into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow to a crawl to conserve energy. You should aim to get between 22 – 40 percent of your daily caloric intake at this first sitting; this will help you avoid gaining weight over time. Scrambled eggs and oats ate the perfect way to start any day.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water throughout the day will help keep your metabolism up to pace, If you drink your water icy cold, this will increase your metabolism slightly as your body works to warm your core temperature.
 
Protein-up for Lunch

A protein-packed lunch will help you maintain lean muscle and muscle burns a higher amount of calories than fat does, when when you’re resting. You should aim for around 40 grams of protein with your lunchtime meal. That’s the equivalent of a 4oz boneless chicken breast or a cup of low-fat cottage cheese.

Sip Some Green Tea

Replace your late or coffee with green tea. This delicious drink provides a great boost to your metabolism and is packed with antioxidants to keep your immune system healthy. Studies show that drinking three to five cups of green tea each day may reduce your body weight by over 4 percent in just 12 weeks.

Spice Up your Life

Adding spice to your meals can also help your body burn calories faster. Peppers like chilies and jalapenos are rich in a compound called capsaicin; this is what gives them their kick. According to the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, eating a teaspoonful of mashed green or red chili before a meal can produce up to a 23 percent spike in your metabolism.

Switch your Pace

When you’re working out, don’t be tempted to go full speed ahead just to get it over with. Alternating a steady paced cardio with short, quicker bursts of activity kicks your metabolism up a notch and help your burn more calories over the long term.

Amp up your metabolism by using these helpful tips and you will see results before you know it!

Here's to your wellness,


Truth About Belly Fat

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Constantly, we see a downpour of ads claiming the benefits of certain supplements will “burn away belly fat”. As good as it sounds and as easy as it would be, the truth about belly fat is there is no such supplement that burns, blocks, or dissolves belly fat. Belly fat is a clear indicator that you are a greater health risks. Deep belly fat (the kind that makes for a classic beer belly) actually churns out proteins and hormones that make all kinds of bad things worse, including unhealthy cholesterol (LDL), blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides. It's also a major cause of insulin resistance and inflammation.

Losing belly fat is not only an issue of what kind of food you eat, it is also extremely important to eat certain foods at a certain time, the type of food you eat affects whether belly fat stays or goes. In a study, two groups of people ate the same number of calories. One group got their carbs from refined grains, the other from beans and whole grains. The latter group lost more belly fat. You can, too! Replace two servings a day of refined grains (e.g., white bread, white pasta) with a couple servings of satisfying lentils, chickpeas, or kidney beans.

In a study in which obese people consumed either 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or a placebo each day, the apple cider vinegar group shed more body and belly fat than people who took the placebo -- even though everyone was on the same diet and did the same workout. Don't take it straight. Eat it with food, like on salad or mixed with beans or blended in a healthy sauce.

Movement: The original fat burner

Lying around the house or sitting comfortably in your easy chair instead of involving yourself in a physically active routine, is easily the way to continue to accumulate more belly fat. Movement is key to getting rid of unwanted belly fat and preventing additional belly fat. Crunches can firm up the muscles under your fat and keep your core strong, and that's important for many reasons. But they won't make that fat magically vanish on their own, and magically turn into muscle. To reduce or rid yourself of excess belly fat, you need regular aerobic exercise, such as walking and other simple but effective movements. Exercising can have an even more significant result when drinking green tea as a part of your regimen. Now, this doesn’t mean any green tea, I mean the herbal tea that has not been refined or processed. So, green tea in those fancy bottles with attractive labeling, are not just green tea. A very effective component in green tea called catechins, a compound in green tea, may boost your body's calorie- and fat-burning mechanisms. It takes about 7 cups a day, but that's not as much as it sounds. A large glass of iced tea often contains about 3 cups of liquid.

Change a few habits

Use a tape measure instead of a scale. This is a better way to monitor belly fat because everybody's weight tends to fluctuate a little from day to day and watching your waistline is a more accurate view of potential health risks. Television is one of the most favored pass-times and instant entertainment, however, people who cut their TV time in half consume 100 fewer calories a day without even trying. That's a pound every 35 days or about 10 pounds a year. Calories, coupled with stress combines for a bigger your waist. Stress makes the hormone cortisol climb, which makes you crave high-calorie snacks that get stored in your belly as fat. Studies have shown that people who eat six small meals a day have smaller waists than people who eat two or three large meals a day. Of course, "small" is the key. To rid belly fat for good, reduce and eventually eliminate sugar, syrups, and saturated and trans fats, and replace them with whole grains, vegetable proteins, fiber, exercise, and adequate rest.

Staying active is key to keeping in shape. By eating right and exercising you can whittle away your middle in no time!

Here's to your wellness,


Burn More Calories in Less Time

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Though you may not be aware, you are probably like most people in America and consume at least a hundred calories more than you need each day. If this is the case and you don’t feel you can cut down on your calorific intake, then what you need to do is incorporate a couple of short bursts of extra activity into your day to burn them off. If you want to increase your chances of maintaining a healthy weight there are a few ways you can burn extra calories and dropping a few extra pounds without having to go on a strict diet, in fact, you'll hardly notice at all.  Here are a few simple changes you can make and with just a little effort you will soon begin to notice results.

Quick tips for burning calories:

• Avoid the temptation of taking the elevator at work. Climbing the stairs is great for toning your calf and thigh muscles and in just five minutes you will have burned about 140 calories.
• If the weather’s great at the weekend why not get into the garden and do a spot of weeding. You can use up 250 calories in an hour and your garden will look great. Put the leaf blower away and rake your lawn that will use up another 50 calories in just 30 minutes.
• Don't spend your lunch break in the cafeteria, go and do some window shopping. Just an hour of walking can burn 250 calories or more.
• Forget the car wash, save your quarters and lose some calories. Washing the car by hand will consume 280 calories and hour.
• Put some music on and get on down. Dancing is a great way to elevate your mood and also burns at least 180 calories and hour.

 Quick tips to shed a few pounds:

• Use fat free milk instead of whole or skimmed milk.
• Opt for low fat or fat free salad dressings they are just as tasty.
• If you drink soda, replace regular soda with a sugar free substitute.
• Keep fast food to a bare minimum. Make it something you treat yourself to once a month.
• When you're snaking between meals choose fruit and vegetables rather than chips and cookies.
• Use low fat spreads instead of butter or full fat cream cheese.

Quick tips for curbing your cravings:


• Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Many people are dehydrated without knowing it, this makes your body store extra water which adds a few extra pounds.
• Cravings typically last about ten minutes so do something to distract yourself like exercise or read a book.
• Always keep healthy snacks at hand.
• Don’t be tempted to skip meals; this will always backfire because you'll end up over-compensating later.

By incorporating a few of these tips per week you can maximize your results while being more efficient with your time.

Here's to your wellness,


Best and Worst Foods for Pain

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According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, around 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. We all know how important a healthy diet is, but you may not be aware that if you suffer from chronic pain, what you eat can help ease your discomfort or can exacerbate it even more. Here’s a rundown on food items than can help eliminate pain and those to avoid.

Pain-busting Foods

Salmon

Salmon is easy to digest and metabolize and is a plentiful source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation within the body that leads to pain. It also offers protection against a range of diseases including, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. As well as helping control pain, this fatty fish can help your brain function better and improve your memory.

Turmeric

This mouthwatering Indian spice has anti-inflammatory properties and can thereby help reduce pain, although the effects will be very mild. The active ingredient is curcumin. Curcumin’s other health benefits include reducing the risk of tumor growth, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil has very similar effects on the body as omega-3 fatty acids to, by reducing pain-causing inflammation. It is beneficial for those suffering from fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that consuming two tablespoons of olive oil relives joint pain as effectively as 200mg of ibuprofen.

Pain-increasing Foods

Sugar

Chronic pain sufferers should limit their intake of sugar as much as possible. Sugar steals minerals from the bones and joints and increase inflammation, which will exacerbate conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
 
Caffeine

Because fibromyalgia often causes disrupted sleep, sufferers sometimes try to compensate by drinking caffeinated beverages. However in the long run this will do more harm than good as excessive caffeine can increase pain.

Fatty Meats

Fatty meats, like pork or beef the dark meat from chicken and turkey with the skin on can increase inflammation due to their high content of cholesterol and saturated fat. This can cause flare-ups in suffers of chronic pain conditions.

By adding the pain-busting foods to your diet and trying to avoid or reduce the use of pain-increasing foods, it will help to minimize your discomfort.

Here's to your wellness,


Is It Legal to Sell Unsafe Meat?

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Consumer surveys show that 45 percent of Americans believe it is illegal to sell meat or poultry that is contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. That means nearly half of us are wrong…perhaps dead wrong.

Ninety-two percent of chicken carcasses are contaminated with fecal residue when they leave slaughtering facilities, and half of retail poultry samples are contaminated with strains of bacteria commonly linked to human urinary tract infections and food poisonings.

Analyses conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System demonstrate that meat and poultry products on the U.S. retail market are frequently contaminated with multidrug-resistant species of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus, and E. coli. On average, half of all meat samples tested are also contaminated with staphylococcal bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

These are the same organisms that keep infectious disease specialists awake at night and worry the epidemiologists who roam the vaunted corridors of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. The bugs that are finding their way to our tables can be lethal, and they don’t always respond to medical therapy.

The widespread use of antibiotics, the use of intestine-tearing hooks to open the abdominal cavities of slaughtered animals, and other common meat-industry practices are undoubtedly at the root of these alarming statistics. Unfortunately, not much is being done to correct the situation.

When pressed about the public health hazards of marketing contaminated meat, industry officials claim that it would be prohibitively expensive to adopt processing methods that eliminate bacterial contamination. Oddly enough, though, other developed countries seem to have a better handle on this problem, and their citizens can still purchase meat without taking out a second mortgage. (In Sweden, for example, it is illegal to sell poultry contaminated with Salmonella, which is the leading cause of food-poisoning fatalities in the United States.)

And, if you pose the same questions to the folks who are in charge of food safety and production policies in the U.S. (namely, the United States Department of Agriculture) you’re likely to be handed a pamphlet that warns of the dangers of undercooked meat — but there will probably be some great barbecuing recipes on the back. According to the USDA, “safety” is in the hands of the preparer.

In other words, if you (or your kids) get sick from eating contaminated meat, it’s your fault.

Here's to your wellness,


Portion Distortion (Correct Food Portions)

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It’s no wonder that more than two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. According to the National Institutes of Health, we’re piling a lot more food on our plates than we were 20 years ago. In fact, the portions of food you consume at any given meal might be sufficient to feed two or even three people.

Now, before you get huffy and start pointing fingers at the food and beverage industry, take a moment to go to your pantry, pull a can of soup, chili, fruit, vegetables or tuna from the shelf, turn it over, and peruse the “Nutrition Facts” section of the label. Direct your attention to where it says “Serving Size” and “Servings per Container.” If you’re like many people, you’ve just discovered that a can of soup (or whatever) contains enough servings for a couple of meals…maybe more. So, unless you’re illiterate or visually impaired, there’s only so much blame you can heap on the shoulders of the food packagers.

We need to make some important distinctions before we proceed: a serving size is a measured amount of a specific food or beverage — one-half cup, one ounce, 20 pieces, 5 chips, etc. The serving sizes posted on cans, boxes, bags and bottles are extrapolated from an agglomeration of population-based data that estimates the daily caloric needs of healthy, normal-weight people.  In contrast, a portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at any one sitting. A ‘portion’ is the consumer-controlled lever on the calorie mill. Thus, you can limit yourself to the single serving specified on a product’s label, or you can eat a whole can (or bag, or box) containing multiple servings.

It doesn’t require a degree in linear analysis to see that people who consistently consume larger portions (i.e., several servings) are ingesting more calories than they need.

This isn’t to say the food industry isn’t complicit in the “portion distortion” phenomenon. Two decades ago, a bagel was approximately 3 inches in diameter. Today’s bagels are twice that size. Likewise, soft drinks are now available in bigger bottles, modern fast-food burgers contain nearly twice as many calories and restaurant meals arrive on bigger plates — fully occupied, of course. Alas, human physiology hasn’t changed to accommodate this onslaught of calories. In other words, serving sizes haven’t magically increased. And, since most of us are far less active than our predecessors, the larger portions we’re consuming are exposing us to higher caloric intake in the face of decreased caloric expenditure.

From a mathematical viewpoint (though not necessarily a behavioral one) it’s relatively easy to control your portions when you’re consuming prepackaged items: serving sizes are prominently posted on labels, and you just follow directions. It’s a bit more difficult when you’re dining out, because most of us tend to eat whatever we’re served. (This is one compelling reason to prepare your own meals whenever possible.) However, if you assume you’re being served more than you really need — which is a good bet — it’s a simple matter to ask for a doggy bag or cut your sandwich in half, thereby converting your restaurant meal into two or three portions. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll leave some food on your plate.

While your waistline will undoubtedly shrink if you cut back on portion sizes, you might just find your food budget diminishing, too.

Here's to your wellness,


Controlling your Cravings

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Despite your best intentions you  may find yourself craving pancakes loaded with syrup for breakfast, you may have difficulty making it through dinner without following your with a dessert loaded with sugar, and you may struggle to eat a cookie or two without plowing through the whole packet.
 
Many people find it almost impossible not to succumb to their food cravings, even though they know they are making unhealthy choices. But where do these cravings come from? Though food cravings sometimes seem overwhelming, they do not actually amount to an addiction, but neither do they stem from basic hunger. When you are genuinely hungry you will eat almost anything, whereas cravings tend to be directed towards very specific foods. Whether it’s a bag of chips while you’re watching TV or you get up in the middle of the night for a bowl of ice cream. Cravings are often linked to an imbalance in your daily diet, a less than healthy lifestyle or your emotional state.
 
You may already be aware that the foods you crave for most strongly are snacks loaded with fat and sugar. This has little to do with the nutritional content of the foods but is mainly because they take little or no time to prepare and you get instant satisfaction. Your favorite snacks may also depend on your emotional connection to them.

What can you do to curb cravings before they get out of hand? Here are some tips to help you regain control.

• One of the first steps is to avoid temptation. Stop buying trigger foods like cookies, ice cream or potato chips.
• When you do have cravings, instead of eating trigger foods, drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack like nuts, fruit or low-fat yogurt.
• Stress can be a big trigger, so work on reducing stress levels by getting more exercise or practicing relaxation techniques.
• Brushing your teeth can help. If your mouth is feeling clean and fresh, you’ll be less inclined to mess it up.

Don’t eliminate all your treats, this will only set you up for binge eating. Allow yourself one of your favorite foods now and again and eat them in moderation.

Here's to your wellness,


Breaking Bad Eating Habits

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When it comes to food, most people are creatures of habit. They eat the same types of meal on a regular basis and usually purchase the ingredients from the same store. Though this may seem just a normal part of your daily routine, if you are serious about maintaining a healthy weight and improving your health, you made need to start thinking very differently about your eating habits.  If you’re determined, this shouldn’t be as hard as you may imagine.

The important thing to remember at the outset is to try not to make too many changes too soon, otherwise you will begin to feel overwhelmed and you’ll soon revert back to your previous habits. Here are some tips to get you on the right track:

• Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night at a regular time; insufficient sleep can lead to overeating.
• Start each day with a light but healthy breakfast so you won’t be fatigued and ravenous by lunch time.
• Eat each meal at the dining table or in your lunch room so you won’t be distracted from chewing your food properly and allowing it time to digest.
• Try to eat as many meals as you can in the company of your partner or family.
• Do not prepare overly-large portions. Make sure you recognize when you are full and stop eating, even if there is some food left on your plate.
• Replace your dairy products with low-fat alternatives.
•  If you enjoy sandwiches, switch to whole-grain bread and skip the mayo.
• Try baking, grilling or poaching instead of frying.
• If you want to treat yourself to calorie-laden foods like pizza, have a small slice and fill up on salad or soup.

Another very important factor to consider is snacking. If you constantly graze between meals, you should to adjust your habit. One or two healthy snacks between your main meals are fine, but watch out or you may end up over-eating. Replace typical snack foods like pretzels, chips and cookies with fruit slices, nuts, seeds or raw vegetables with a low-fat dip. Also keep your eye on how much you snack while watching TV. In general, people who eat in front of the box eat up to 60 percent more than when they are not distracted. If you must eat while viewing, give yourself a small portion of a healthy snack to sit down with, rather than a sack or chips or large bowl of popcorn.

Here's to your wellness,


Fasting Fast Asleep

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Purists might not agree with what I’m about to say, but you don’t have to be awake to fast. For purists like Niklaus Brantschen—Zen Master and author of Fasting: What · Why · How, fasting is more than just the “passive process of not eating when asleep.” But if you think about the word breakfast and its literal meaning (“Breaking the Fast”) or what every nurse or doctor might ask you before a simple blood test—“are you fasting?” it’s easy to understand why one would conclude that we all fast while sleeping.

It’s easy to understand why purists prefer fasting awake to fasting asleep too. After all, purists agree that fasting is about awareness first, blood purification, fitness, and inner tuning. Others may do it for religious reasons or all in the name of increasing longevity. But, if we revisit that simple question mentioned above, then yes, we’re all fasting fast asleep simply because we’re not eating or drinking during these peaceful hours.

The body enters a state of fasting all on its own and this is certainly a good thing. These nightly fasting periods allow the body to continue processing the day’s food and drink intake, and help prepare what the body doesn’t need for disposal. Fasting also allows the body’s systems to settle down—if only for a brief period.

Speaking of time periods, FYI—some say that in order for the body to enter a state of fasting, the fast must last for at least 12 hours. According to the Communities in Action (CIA) Ramadan Health Guide, fasting is complete abstinence from food and drink between dawn and dusk, and a Chicago-based M.D. mentioned that four to six hours is a long enough “fast,” prior to taking many tests and in preparation for a multitude of procedures.

Now, if fasting wide awake on a set schedule sounds a bit more intriguing to you, you can do it safely by checking with your doctor first to make sure you are healthy enough to fast, then think carefully about what type of fast you want to do. On the moderate side, some people fast from certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, dairy, meat, or sugar. At the mid-range is the popular juice fast, which allows for carefully planned liquid “meals,” but solids are forbidden. On the extreme side is fasting for several weeks or more. This type of fasting allows for water only.

Total fasting (the ultimate extreme), involves abstaining from both food and water for extended periods (typically, 24/7 for weeks). This is extremely dangerous, as the body needs at least two to two and a half quarts of water daily for proper functioning. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and damage to the tissues will result if you abstain from water intake.

If you’ re brand new to fasting, most veteran fasters recommend starting with a juice fast and only for several days. You can work your way up, gradually over time. By choosing a juice fast instead of an all water fast, the body will get the fluids it needs, PLUS all of the nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, and phytochemicals it needs. These beneficials help neutralize toxins and give the fuel you need to make it through the day. While the cosmetic benefits of a juice fast (or any fast for that matter) may sound appealing (yes, you will lose “weight”), much of the weight loss is temporary because a large percentage of it will be water weight. Once you resume eating solid foods, the weight will return, albeit gradually.

Here's to your wellness,


To Go Organic or Not

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In the 15 years between 1996 and 2011, the US market for organic foods grew from $3.5 billion to nearly $30 billion annually. Organic foods have gone from being farmers’ market fare to being big business. However, many shoppers opt for organic items with only a vague notion of the difference between “organic” and “non-organic.”

To be certified as organic, plant foods must come from farms that have not been exposed to synthetic insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers for at least three years before harvest, and there must be a sufficient buffer zone between an organic farm and adjacent lands to decrease contamination. Genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge are prohibited during the cultivation, growth or processing of organic crops.

Organic livestock must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics or growth-inducing hormones, and livestock feed must be free of these contaminants. While vaccinations and vitamin and mineral supplements can be used in raising organic livestock, any animal treated with antibiotics cannot be sold as organic. Animals on organic farms must be provided with access to the outdoors.

In the United States, organic farming is overseen by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). A subsidiary of the USDA – the National Organic Program (NOP) – establishes labeling and production standards that govern the American organic food industry. (It’s worth mentioning that the NOP’s standards are subject to modification following input from the National Organic Standards Board, which seats individuals from large organizations like General Mills and ConAgra.)

When compared to conventionally produced foodstuffs, organic diets expose consumers to fewer of the pesticides that are known to be harmful to humans. Furthermore, organic farming has fewer environmental impacts than conventional farming methods. However, current scientific data does not demonstrate any consistent nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods, nor is there any convincing evidence that “going organic” prevents disease or confers specific health benefits.

Without question, the operative phrase in this discussion is “current scientific data.” Meaningful epidemiologic studies – those that allow scientists to draw valid conclusions about long-term health issues – require observing hundreds or thousands of people for years or even decades. To date, the connection between organic diets and long-term human health outcomes simply hasn’t been adequately explored. While it seems intuitive that people will be healthier if they’re exposed to fewer harmful chemicals, scientists (a compulsive, persnickety bunch) demand empirical proof. So – as far as your health is concerned – it will probably be years before there’s any “evidence-based” support for consuming an organic diet.

In the meantime, if you choose organic you’ll have to be content with knowing that you and your children aren’t a walking chemistry lesson, and you can always take solace from the notion that you’re imposing less pressure on our increasingly strained planet. 

Here's to your wellness,


Feeling Over-caffeinated? Try These Four Alternate Energy Boosters

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You’ve made it to the end of another tough week: just one more round of tedious meetings to wade through before you kick off your weekend. As you head out the door, you shift your third cup of coffee from one hand to the other while you paw through your pockets for your keys. You’re beginning to feel jangled from all that caffeine, but you just can’t seem to summon the energy you’ll need to get through the morning.

A lot of people use caffeine as a matter of course. Approximately 60% of Americans drink coffee – and nearly that many consume other caffeinated beverages – on a daily basis. If you wander the aisles of any grocery store in the country, you might think we were in the midst of an energy crisis: mood-boosting supplements and energy drinks seem to be everywhere, and most of these products contain caffeine in one form or another. If caffeine itself doesn’t appear in the list of ingredients, you’ll probably see guarana, yerba mate or kola nut.

Caffeine certainly has a devoted following, and it even appears to have some health benefits...as long as you’re not downing a whole pot of coffee every day. And that could be the problem. Many of us don’t know when we’ve had enough of a good thing, so we tank up on coffee, energy drinks or caffeine-laced supplements until we’re tremulous, irritable, distracted and unable to sleep. If you think you might be joining the legions of “over-caffeinated,” consider these alternative ways to boost your energy:

• Green tea extract contains a modest dollop of caffeine and a caffeine-like chemical called theophylline. More importantly, it is an excellent source of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. Studies in both animals and humans suggest that EGCG accelerates your metabolic rate and improves energy levels. Choose an extract standardized to 80% polyphenols and 55 to 60% EGCG, and try a daily dose of 300 to 400 mg.

• Ginseng has long been considered an “adaptogen” in those cultures where it is used regularly. Adaptogens reportedly regulate energy levels and improve stamina. While there are subtle differences among the various types of ginseng, it doesn’t appear to make a difference which one you choose: Oriental, American and Siberian ginseng (Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolium and Eleutherococcus senticosus, respectively) all have similar effects. Dosages vary, so follow label directions.

• Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a complex molecule that is needed for cellular energy production. People who eat a balanced diet and who aren’t under a lot of stress probably have enough CoQ10 in their tissues, but athletes, individuals who are stressed and people who eat poorly (i.e., most of us) are likely to be deficient. Individuals who take certain medications, such as acid-blockers, statins or antibiotics, might also need some extra CoQ10. Doses of 20 to 200 mg daily are well tolerated.

• The most effective way to boost your energy level is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Exercise for15 to 60 minutes at least five days each week. And take a hard look at your diet: if you’re consuming foods that contribute to your acid load, your metabolic machinery is probably being overtaxed in an effort to modulate your pH. This, in turn, lowers your overall energy level. A few simple dietary changes might make that second, third or fourth cup of coffee unnecessary, and you’d probably feel better all day long.    

There are healthy ways to keep you energy up without being over-caffeinated. By keeping your caffeine intake to a minimum, you will not have the crashing feeling at the end of the day.

Here's to your wellness,


Cholesterol Lowering Foods

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Understanding cholesterol is a key to good health. Your liver and other cells make about 75% of cholesterol and 25% is derived from your diet. There are two kinds of cholesterol: HDL, the “good” cholesterol which helps keep the “bad” cholesterol, LDL, from getting lodged into the artery walls which leads to coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. A high LDL level can be genetically inherited from your grandparents. It is also commonly caused by eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fats, and foods with high fat content like meat and dairy. Increasing your HDL levels through physical activity and diet is the best way to lower your LDL.

Soluble Fibers: Oats, Oat Bran, and Beans

Soluble fibers from nutritious foods like steel cut oats, barley, fruits and vegetables prevent the absorption of cholesterol. Beans have the highest cholesterol soluble fiber content of any food and 1 cup of beans per day can lower your cholesterol by 10% in 6 weeks.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil contains a mix of heart healthy antioxidants that can replace other cooking oils. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it is less processed and retains its antioxidant properties. “Light” Olive Oils are misleading because they only lighter in color due to over
processing, not lower in calories.

Cold Water Fish


These fish are high in EPA and DHA, Omega-3 fatty acids that increase HDL, lower LDL and decrease the risk of sudden death in individuals who have had a heart attack. Enjoy two servings a week of salmon, albacore tuna, halibut, lake trout, anchovies, herring, sardines, and mackerel.

Soy

One of the most important diet changes you can make is to transition from a diet high in animal products to one that includes more vegetable based protein. LDL is found in high concentrations in high fat dairy as well as beef, lamb and pork. Try to eat these foods sparingly and eat more meals with high protein, low fat soy in products like tofu, soy sausage, tofurkey or ground soy that can be used like ground beef. Soy is high is isoflavones which lowers LDL.

Garlic

One of the oldest medical remedies, garlic has many healing properties; it can lower LDL, prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and prevent infection. New research has found that garlic can prevent clogging of arteries at the earliest stages, when they are known as nanoplaques, by keeping individual cholesterol plaques from sticking to the arterial walls. Buy pre-peeled cloves to add to soups, sauces, top pizzas or add to casseroles. To get the best benefits, eat 2-4 cloves a day.

Tea

Black and green tea contains several antioxidants that relax the blood vessels and prevent blood clots. Flavanoids prevent the oxidation of LDL which prevents it from forming plaque on the artery walls. One cup of homemade tea, hot or cold, contains more antioxidants than one serving of any other fruit or vegetable.

By incorporating these foods into your diet you can keep your cholesterol down while continuing to eat healthy.

Here's to your wellness,


Warm Up to Winter Workouts

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While the weather outside may not inspire you to pull on your workout gear and go for a run, there’s no reason not to continue a fitness regimen throughout the coldest and darkest months of the year. In fact, the exercise you do in winter provides the foundation for your spring and summer training by working alternate group muscles, learning new skills and gaining strength. Unfortunately, over 30% of people stop exercising over winter, a time when the cold helps increase the body’s metabolism and burn more calories. While a short rest period can re-energize the body, over resting the body has a negative effect and ultimately makes it harder to restart your fitness regimen.
   
One solution is to take your workout indoors to a gym, which provides excellent opportunities for improving strength, and learning new skills through personal training, fitness and dance classes and indoor swimming, all of activities like running and cycling. You might also investigate a fitness challenge, like a marathon or 5K walk, for the upcoming spring or summer to help direct your workout.
   
Another plan is to embrace winter and enjoy the diverse sports that provide intense, challenging and calorie burning fitness fun. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Snow Hiking:

Take a walk in deep snow and give your heart and legs a great workout. Make sure to wear insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry.

Cross-Country Skiing:


This aerobic exercise can be done just about anywhere: a field, a park or a specific course. It gives you a full body workout with special emphasis on the biceps, glutes, hamstrings and triceps.

Snowshoeing:

Snowshoeing, a hybrid of cross-country skiing and running, is becoming one of the most popular winter sports with high tech gear that is low impact on the joints. As you progress in intensity, you will improve your overall stamina and leg muscle tone, making it an excellent winter conditioning sport for runners.

Snowboarding:

Snowboarding, once associated with young kids, is popular today among people of all ages and is a less expensive option than downhill skiing. It provides an overall body workout with emphasis on the glutes, abs and arms.

Downhill Skiing:

Still the most popular winter sport, downhill skiing requires strength, coordination and flexibility and provides a high intensity experience. Expect to be sore the next day because you will work every muscle in your body.

A few tips for winter sports:

• Wear sunscreen and sunglasses, especially in snowy conditions
• Start warming up inside about ½ hour before you exercise
• Make sure you stretch before and after your workout
• Wear a few thin layers of breathable fabrics, preferably made for winter sports
• Change out of workout clothes as soon as possible into dry clothes
• Pay attention to signs of frostbite – numbness, loss of feeling, stinging – and warm area up slowly
• Cover your mouth and nose to help humidify and warm air
• Move your early morning workouts to the sunnier afternoon

With these winter workout ideas you can stay fit and healthy while having fun during the cold months.

Here's to your wellness,

10 Health Myths

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1. You can catch up on missed sleep. False.

Trying to catch up on sleep by sleeping in on weekends can actually sabotage you. Your sleep-deprived brain will be more prone to mistakes and cognitive dysfunction. Give your body several days to catch up by consistently going to bed and waking up at the same time and getting at least 6-7 quality hours of sleep.

2. Cold weather causes you to get sick. False.

While it is true the cold/flu season runs October-March, we become sick because we spend more time indoors where there is a decrease in humidity and increase in indoor temperature, making our mucous membranes vulnerable to germs, the real cause of illness.

3. You’ll lose weight if you eat smaller meals throughout the day. False.

A recent study in Cell Metabolism indicated that restricting food to specific periods of day leads to less weight gain in comparison to grazing which caused obesity in test subjects, suggesting the traditional three meals a day plan is best for the average person.

4. If you swallow gum, it stays in your body for seven years. False.

Gum digests as quickly as any other foods – about three days.

5. Coffee is worse for you than soda. False.

A tall iced coffee may have more caffeine than a can of Coke but it won’t give you ulcers, it’s not full of artificial ingredients, it won’t destroy tooth enamel and it won’t lead to obesity and diabetes (unless you add a lot of sugar or artificial sweetener). Coffee is also one of the largest sources of life-extending antioxidants.

6. Cracking knuckles causes arthritis. False.

The popping sound is caused by an air bubble in the sinovial fluid that gathers in the cavities of digits and joints. It may cause some grip weakness later in life.

7. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. True.

Eating apples reduce LDL cholesterol levels significantly. Apples contain the antioxidant poly-phenol that fights heart disease, prevents colds, protects against cancer and slows the aging process in cells.

8. Feed a cold and starve a fever. False.

Feed and drink both a cold and fever based on how the patient feels, focusing on keeping the patient hydrated. Avoid dairy, acidic juices or lemonade. Clear liquids like flat 7-up or Coke and electrolyte fluids such as Pedialyte are best. Avoid plain water. Start with light food like Jell-O and broth.

9. You lose 30% of body heat through your head. False.

An adult only loses about 10% of body heat from his/her head, the same amount lost from any exposed body part such as hands, neck or face.

10. Never swim one hour after eating. False.

Feel free to dive in after a huge buffet lunch. Because your blood is now directed towards your gastrointestinal system to digest you food, you don’t have to worry about muscular cramps. Don’t expect to win any Olympic medals in freestyle, but enjoy a relaxing game of water volleyball.

Where these myths come from? How do they even start? I don't think we will ever find out, but now we know the truth!

Here's to your wellness,


To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

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One of the most popular trends today are cleanses which make a variety of promises including weight loss, increased energy, a rejuvenated digestive system, great skin and increases in sex drive. Cleansing has replaced dieting  - now considered negative and unhealthy - in our culture; in fact, most people assume all cleanses are healthy. Is this true? Let’s consider the pros and cons of cleansing as well as the claims made by the cleanses.

Weight Loss: Cleanses like the Master Cleanse and other juice cleanses usually involve a liquids only diet for ten days or longer. Because these cleanses are so calorie restrictive, the body goes into starvation mode and burns fat instead burn lean mass. Weight lost on this cleanse is regained as soon as a normal diet is resumed, often as fat.

Dietary cleanses can also cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and diarrhea. Other side effects include fatigue, insomnia, weakness, headaches, dizziness and extreme irritability. Some cleanse diets allow you to eat fruits and vegetables and encourage you to drink water, factors which will can a cleanse healthier and easier on your body.
   
Detox: Certain cleanses claim to “detox” the body from a number of unspecified toxins. While it is true we encounter a number of toxins in the environment and in our food, there is no scientific evidence that cleanse/detoxes are more effective than the organs in our body designed to rid us of toxins: the kidneys, liver and intestines. These organs are sophisticated mechanisms designed to process toxic substances like alcohol and drugs, excrete ammonia and heavy metals and prevent carcinogens from entering the bloodstream. A calorie restrictive cleanse can interfere with these systems by irritating the gastrointestinal system and causing dehydration which can lead to kidney and urinary tract complications.
   
“Resting” the gut: Some cleanses claim there is a benefit in “resting” the gut by only consuming liquids, thereby allowing it to more easily absorbing nutrients. In reality, the gut works best when it has a constant flow of a variety of healthy fibrous, nutrient-rich foods. This allows the beneficial gut bacteria to flourish and keeps the gastrointestinal system’s pH at an optimal level.
   
Are there any reasons to cleanse? A short cleanse to lose a few pounds for a special occasion is reasonable for a healthy individual, and it can also be a good way to jump start a new diet. An oral colon cleanse, designed to fully evacuate your large intestines, may give you relief from severe constipation. It is also used before undergoing certain medical procedures, such as a colonoscopy. Many people report that a 24-hour cleanse energizes the body and mind.
   
If you do decide to use a cleanse, make sure you consult your doctor. It’s also important to define what you want to get out of your cleanse. Make sure you research the products and regimens to find the right cleanse for your needs.

Here's to your wellness,


Change Your Life: Eat Breakfast!

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In Egypt, they eat a dish called ful medames (fava beans) and pita bread. In Japan rice and miso soup is the preferred choice. And in Germany, soft boiled eggs, fresh bread from the local bakery, cold cuts, jams, and sweet rolls stimulate the senses. No matter where you are in the world, breakfast is the best way to start the day and part of the proof is in sheer number of traditional tasty breakfast items on the menu.

In America, coffee-on-the-go is king as well as muffins, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and other quick bites. Although eating “something” is better than nothing first thing in the morning, experts say it’s best to swap the sugary stuff (and greasy foods) for fresh healthy foods that offer more than a jolt that fades within a few hours. Before we talk about how you can make breakfast better, take a look at just a few benefits of resisting the urge to skip that all important first meal of the day.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults and children can reap the same benefits of starting the day with a healthy breakfast.

Breakfast eaters:

• Are better at interacting with others at work and at school
• Concentrate better than non-breakfast eaters  and perform problem-solving tasks better
• Have improved memory and are more attentive
• Are less likely to call in sick or show up late to work or school
• Get more vitamins and nutrients than those that do not eat breakfast. They get more calcium, dietary fiber, folate, protein, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and more.
• Are less likely to be overweight
• Are less likely to overeat, meaning they usually have healthier eating habits and make smarter choices throughout the day

According to the Mayo Clinic, breakfast eaters also have lower cholesterol levels and more strength and endurance to handle whatever physical challenges may come their way during the day.

To enjoy the many benefits of eating breakfast, you have to do it daily and choose the right foods. First, forget the calorie-laden coffee drinks and opt for 100% fruit juice or low-sodium vegetable juice, tea, plain coffee, or water.  Soy, almond milk, and low-fat milk are also excellent choices. Next, ditch the fast-food breakfast sandwiches, donuts, Danishes, and other sugary eats and choose yogurt, whole grain cereal or toast, fruit, nuts, or oatmeal instead. Finally, fruit should always be on the menu. Bananas, berries, melons, apples, oranges or just about any fresh fruit you can think of should be eaten at breakfast and throughout the day.

While it is perfectly ok to have pancakes, waffles, biscuits and gravy or other rich breakfasts every now and then, try not to stray too often, and stick to healthy staples that will keep you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed well beyond the 12 o’clock whistle.

Here's to your wellness,


10 Best Exercises for Women

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Trainers and medical professionals alike agree that strength training is one of the best forms of exercises for women. Unless you’re a body builder, however, the last thing a woman wants to do is bulk up. What women do want is a lean, strong body that still looks feminine, but fit. Fortunately, a number of exceptional strengthening exercises target the most common trouble areas for women—the hips, butt, and thighs.

Along with an average amount of cardio exercise and a sensible diet, these exercises can help halt bone loss, improve energy and balance, trim and tighten, control weight, improve flexibility, replace fat with lean muscle, and revitalize. It doesn’t take much to get started either. You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to get results. All you need is your own body weight, a quiet, clutter-free space, and comfortable workout clothes.

Although dozens of exercises can help you reach your goals, the 10 best exercises for women below are the easiest to do at home.

Calf Raise

For strong, toned calves, stand up straight with your hands on the back of a chair, feet hip width apart. Slowly raise your heels until you’re on tiptoe, pause, then lower. Do 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps for maximum results.

Close Grip Push-Up

The close-grip push-up (hands are held in a diamond shape) helps strengthen the entire upper body. To feel the burn, do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Jump Squat

Trainers love this one. Squat down, then jump as high as you can before returning to a squat position. Repeat immediately. Try 3 sets of 20 for lean legs.

Push Up

Although less challenging than the close grip push-up, the push-up has been a staple in the fitness world since the beginning of time. Push-ups strengthen the entire upper body. Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps per session. 

Reverse Lunge

Reverse lunges can help shape, tone, and strengthen the entire lower half. Stand straight up, then take a giant step back with your left foot, and drop your hips towards the floor. Reverse the motion and press back to standing. Alternate sides. Try 3 sets of 20 reps on each side.

Single Leg Bridge

Lie on the floor and bend your right leg to a 90-degree angle, foot flat on the floor. Keep the left leg straight and raised 45 degrees. Press through the right heel and contract the glutes to lift the hips towards the ceiling. Count to two and return to starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps. Switch sides.

Single Leg Squat

Grab a chair, stand in front of it with your back facing the chair. With your hands on your hips, extend one leg back placing it on the seat of the chair. Take a dip and come back up. Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps. Repeat on the other side.

Sit-Ups

Good old-fashioned sit-ups help strengthen the abdominal muscles. Along with a sensible diet and cardio, it is possible to achieve a flatter stomach and stronger ab muscles by committing to 3 sets of 10-15 reps at least three days a week.

Standing Butt Blaster

Stand up straight or press your arms against a wall or door. Extend your right leg back slowly. Try 3 sets of 30-50 reps on each leg.

Walking Lunge

Stand tall with your hands on your hips. Lunge forward on your right without letting the left knee touch the ground. Try 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps per side. This exercise tones the thighs and butt.

Together, they take less than 30 minutes to complete. Shoot for two to three strength training sessions per week with at least one day of recovery between sessions. This is when the actual strengthening of your muscles happens.

Here's to your wellness,


Meal Replacement Bars vs. Fresh On-the-Go Snacks: What’s Better?

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Americans are always on the go. Between work and home life, who has time to eat healthy or sit down for a meal at all? Well, many think that they have found a way to get a significant amount of sustenance and still stay on schedule. The fix (they say) is tiny little packages and cans filled with promises of a big energy boost, all the vitamins and minerals you need, and even weight loss.

Go into any grocery store, drug store or even many convenient stores and you’ll find a large selection of meal replacement bars and drinks. In addition to the claims they make, meal replacement bars (MRBs) and drinks are popular because they’re portable, convenient and they offer a relatively cost-efficient way of replacing a meal. But are they a healthy? Yes and no.

Opting for a “meal in a can” or a package in moderation won’t hurt, but making a habit of it will. For starters, liquid meal replacements were originally developed to meet the nutritional needs of people too sick or weak to eat. Manufacturers soon discovered a new market for these products—people looking for a quick fix or an energy boost between meals. While some of these products do contain vitamins and minerals, regular use doesn’t provide all the benefits of a varied diet.

Energy bars are packed with carbs (sugar and starches) that provide the body with quick energy. The added vitamins and minerals don’t provide the body with energy and have no value if you’re already eating a healthy diet. Many people mistakenly believe that eating a bar in the place of a meal with help them lose weight. The thing to remember is this: MRBs still contain fat, sugar, calories and carbs. Moreover, not eating enough calories to fuel your body (and the right calories to boot) will have the opposite effect—the metabolism will become sluggish, making weight loss difficult.

In the end, meal replacement bars and meals in a can won’t provide the same benefits as a regular, well-balanced meal. In addition, they rarely stop you from eating more than you normally would. Simply put, MRB’s lack the health-protecting factors your body needs, so it’s best to use them as a last resort.

If your options are a Butterfinger or Balance Bar, by all means grab the Balance Bar! If your options are a fudge brownie or a Slim Fast Shake, yes—drink the shake! There’s no evidence that MRB’s can do more for you than carbohydrate rich foods like cereals, breads and other grain products, and fruits and vegetables, so if you can help it, skip the MRBs and liquid meals altogether and grab some real food.

Here are a few fabulous foods you can eat on the run that provide the vitamins, minerals and energy you need, naturally.
   
• Bananas, apples and other fresh fruits
• Carrots, green peppers, cherry tomatoes or other raw vegetables 
• Snack size fruit cups or apple sauce
• Dried fruits
• Tetra pack fruit juices
• Grain products
• Raisin Bread
• Whole grain bagels, crackers or pita wedges
• Raisin bran mini muffins 
• Single serve box cereals
• Rice cakes
• To-Go milks such as almond, hazelnut, hemp, oat, rice, soy
• To-Go skim or 1% milk
• To-Go low-fat flavored milks 
• Fruit yogurt (2% or less) 
• Cheese cubes (20% fat or less) 
• Hard boiled eggs 
• Peanut butter and crackers
• Celery and peanut butter
• Trail mix (nuts, seeds, cereal, dried fruit) 
• Roasted soybeans or chick peas 
• Gingersnap, arrowroot or fig Newton cookies

Remember—keep whole food consumption high and meal replacement use low to nil. You’ll look better, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be healthier!

Here's to your wellness,


Winter Biking: Yes, Winter Biking

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Did you know that biking for just 30 minutes each day reduces the risk of heart disease by a whopping 50 percent? Did you know that biking also relieves stress and anxiety, it helps shed pounds, and it even tones the arms and legs? Not only this, but biking has become one of the fastest growing forms of transportation in the U.S. No doubt, biking is all the rage, but winter biking seems to be taking center stage these days.

Fitness buffs and commuters alike are grabbing their bikes and taking to the street in droves, even when the ground is covered with snow and ice. Although biking during other seasons offers many benefits, winter biking presents much tougher, yet positive physical challenges and it’s sure cure for cabin fever.

Even if it’s just 20 minutes, researchers say soaking up some sun while exercising in the a.m. during the winter months can combat winter depression or SAD (seasonal affective disorder). You see, light rouses the production of cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), which helps keep serotonin levels high during the winter months. Higher serotonin levels (serotonin is also called the "happy hormone") help boost the mood.

Reaping the benefits of extra serotonin production would be tough to accomplish while darting from warm place to warm place during the winter months. So, if you think you’re ready to embrace the cold weather and start a winter biking routine, all you have to do is make sure you have good set of wide, high traction tires, excellent biking skills, and the right gear.

The three most important areas to consider before gearing up are the feet, hands, and head. For the feet, consider wearing a solid pair of waterproof boots with Thinsulate. For the hands, the best bet is to buy leather glove shells and synthetic liners. You can also layer regular gloves, but just make sure you are able to maneuver your bike, and brake, without fully removing your gloves. Keeping the head warm is easy. A few thin layers should do the trick and don’t forget to wear a helmet.

For the rest of the body, think layers. Long underwear and/or sweats, and a pair of waterproof/windproof outer pants should work just fine for the lower body. Dressing the upper body varies based on your level of comfort, level of exertion, and weather conditions. A polypropylene undershirt combined with a medium-weight synthetic middle layer and a water-resistant, breathable shell is probably all you need on cold days.

On days when the wind chill factor is particularly low, cover your body from head to toe. Wear a *balaclava to guard your face as well as a headband and ski hat to cover your ears. Goggles can protect your eyes as well as fill any gaps between the ski cap, headband, and balaclava.

If you’re not on a bike path or other trail absent of street traffic, remember to always obey traffic signs and signals. Use designated bike lanes whenever possible, and if you find yourself riding at night, use the brightest headlights and taillights you can find. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun!

Here's to your wellness,

The Truth About Salt

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The sodium in salt helps maintain the fluid in blood cells. It is used to transmit information in our nerves and muscles, and it assists in the absorption of certain nutrients. Because the human body does not make salt, humans rely on food to get the amount needed to keep the body functioning properly.

Centuries ago, salt was primarily used as a preservative for cheese, fish, meat, vegetables, and even fruit. Today, more salt is used in the industrial world than in the food supply. This is good news. However, because Americans have become so accustomed to the taste of salt, table salt sales haven’t suffered and salt is a main ingredient in restaurants across the country. And yes, many packaged and processed foods still contain salt.

Because salt is still used as an additive in homes across America, at restaurants, and in many packaged foods (canned soups are a major source of sodium), sodium consumption is at an all-time high. Most Americans consume 3,000 to 3,600 milligrams of sodium per day and just 10 percent comes from the natural salt found in food. Roughly 75 percent comes from processed foods and dining out. Consuming too much salt can lead to water retention, which causes high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause heart and kidney disease, stroke, and even heart failure.

Fortunately, convincing America to cut back on salt is not a lost cause. Education is the key to helping curb consumption. Knowing how much salt the body actually needs is the first step. The truth is, for proper functioning the body requires a mere 200 milligrams of sodium per day. However, the FDA recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is equal to a teaspoon of salt. Individuals with hypertension, African-Americans, older adults, and the middle-aged should limit salt intake to 1,500 or less per day. The American Heart Association (AHA) has stricter requirements. The AHA says all Americans should limit salt intake to less than 1,500 milligrams per day. 

Limiting salt intake to less than 1,500 milligrams per day is not as difficult as it sounds. Following a few simple rules while shopping and cooking can help keep salt intake in check. Salt is an acquired taste, so most foods are excellent without it. Try this simple test—taste your food first before reaching for the saltshaker. You might be surprised at how much better your food tastes without it!

Consider leaving the saltshaker in the cabinet or ditch it altogether. Skip salt in cooking water, use fresh herbs and spices to season food and enjoy plenty of fresh vegetables. Read nutrition facts on food labels, and choose reduced sodium or “no salt added” food. You should also limit intake of processed meats or buy fresh meats with low to no salt, and limit sodium-laden condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, and tartar sauce. Stock up on lemons and olive oil, which are excellent alternatives to salty condiments.

Here's to your wellness,


Eating your Omega-3s

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You saw a news segment about it a few months ago. You read about them in your favorite fitness mag last week. And just yesterday, your doctor suggested adding fish oil to your diet for better health. If it seems like you’re hearing more and more about omega-3s, and more often, it’s not your imagination. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids (EFAs) that the body needs for good health, but the body cannot manufacture them. Fortunately, you can get the amount you need through a variety of healthy foods and even supplements.


There are several types of omega-3s including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic (ALA). Fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, grains, beans, greens, and healthy oils are the best dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Although mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts offer the highest number of grams per serving, a variety of other foods on the list can help you obtain the amount recommended by healthcare professionals.

Healthy individuals should consume at least one rich source of omega-3 fatty acids each day or between one and two grams per day. If you don’t eat omega-3 rich foods such as fish and flaxseeds, doctors recommend taking an omega-3 supplement of at least 500 mg daily. If you have a heart condition or have had a heart attack, your doctor may recommend double the amount.

For your reference, specific dietary sources of omega-3s include: Mackerel, Sardines, Herring, Salmon, Swordfish, Bluefish, Cod, Crab, Scallops, Tuna, Lobster, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Pecans, Soybeans, Tofu, Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Flaxseed Oil, Canola Oil, Walnut Oil and Olive Oil.      

Walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, and flaxseed oil contain alpha-linolenic (ALA), while fish contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA have been shown to significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels. Low to normal triglyceride (fat) levels is safe, while high triglyceride levels raise your risk of heart disease. ALA may not be as beneficial as DHA and EPA, but the body can convert it to DHA and EPA, although in minimal amounts.

In addition to contributing to better heart health, omega-3s fight inflammation and they may help alleviate symptoms associated with depression and rheumatoid arthritis. A recent study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) even suggests that the omega-3s found in fish oil might enhance cognitive performance in healthy people by boosting their working memory. Now there’s an argument for eating your omega-3s!

Here's to your wellness,


Anti-Aging Foods

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Aging is something we all struggle against, but you can improve your vitality, overall health, prolong and improve the quality of your life but adding certain foods to your diet. These foods can lower the risk of age-related illness and prevent diseases. Many of these foods contain antioxidants, which protect cells against free radicals, which diseases such as cancer as well the cosmetic effects of aging such as wrinkles.

Fish

Fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which protects against heart disease, decreases the risk of arrhythmia and lower blood pressure. It also decreases inflammation, a property many anti-aging foods have; this is not inflammation resulting from a sprained ankle but tissue aggravation that leads to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the highest quantity in coldwater fish like salmon, herring, tuna and sardines. Studies show a 40% decrease in mortality when a person consumes 2-3 servings per week, the recommended serving endorsed by the American Heart Association.

Red Wine

Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which is thought to prevent blood clots, decrease bad cholesterol and improve heart health by protecting the arteries and the lining of blood vessels. The recommended amount is 5 oz a day. While white wine does contain some reveratrol, the amount is significantly lower because red wine stays in longer contact with the skin of the grape, which not only gives it its red color but its antioxidant properties. Grape juice is also a great source of reveratrol.

Dark Chocolate

Good news for chocolate lovers! Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of antioxidants than any other food. Flavanol, derived from the cocoa bean, protects you from the harmful effects of UV exposure by increasing circulation in the skin tissue and helping it retain moisture, decreasing wrinkles and giving you a younger appearance. It also keeps the heart healthy by preventing blood clots from forming, maintaining blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart attacks. Only dark chocolate (at least 75% cocoa) has these properties as the processing used to make other chocolate strips it of antioxidant property.

Tea

Green, black, white and oolong teas –leaves from the Camellia sinesis plant - contain polyphenols which contain antioxidants, fluoride and caffeine. In addition to decreasing the risk of heart attack and boosting the immune system, tea protects tooth enamel and fights age-associated memory loss.

Fruits and Vegetables

You will find the best anti-aging properties in the darkest and most colorful fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables like kale contain lutin and zeaxantin which protect against the side effects of UV as well as boosting the immune system. Dark berries, like blackberries, promote cell health and have been shown to protect against cancer. Among its many properties, blueberries have been shown to reverse neurodegeneration and increase memory cells. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of cancer by 25%.

Other Anti-aging foods

Beans, Nuts, Whole Grains, Garlic, Avocado, Yogurt and Coffee

Just by adding a few off these foods a week can help with the anti-aging process.

Here's to your wellness,


How Healthy Is Your Diet, Really?

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If you’re among the millions of Americans who are overweight, obese, or afflicted with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, you’ve probably heard of “heart-healthy” diets: Ornish, Pritikin, DASH, Mayo Clinic, Esselstyn, Mediterranean, and so on. Your doctor may have even recommended that you begin one of these programs.

Even if your physician has never urged you to adopt a healthier eating plan, you may have tried one of the innumerable trendy diets that seem to dot the landscape, such as Zone, South Beach, Atkins, Paleolithic or Biotype. Most of these programs – and their promoters – fade from the scene when the latest “best-seller” diet comes along. This is not to say they don’t have merit; it’s just that none of them seems to be sustainable, either on a personal or societal basis.

Unfortunately, despite decades of research, not even the experts can agree on what constitutes a healthy diet. In large part, that’s because human physiology is incredibly complex; nutritional concepts that seem to be corroborated by one group of researchers are often challenged by others. Marketers who are more interested in monetary gain than health promotion take advantage of this confusion and misrepresent otherwise meaningful data from clinical studies. Finally, a powerful food industry exerts pressures that influence dietary guidelines disseminated by health policymakers.

So, what’s the average non-scientist citizen supposed to do? Well, you may just have to pick one or two trustworthy sources of information and stick with them. One reasonably reliable authority is the American Heart Association, an organization that pools data from well-designed studies and distills it into recommendations that most of us can understand. The following guidelines are among the more durable counsel that has emanated from this and similar agencies in recent years:

Watch Your Portion Sizes

This is one dietary issue that seems to challenge almost everyone. Serving sizes are listed on most food items, but many people don’t even read, much less heed them. When a can or box of prepared food contains four servings and you down the whole thing yourself, you’re headed for trouble.

For foods that don’t have serving sizes listed, consumers can turn to online or printed guides. A serving size is a specific amount based on measurements most people recognize, such as ounces or cups. For example, a serving size of cooked pasta is about 1/2 cup, while a portion of meat or fish is 2 ounces (about the size of a card deck).

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Like it or not, plant foods are simply the best way to get the antioxidants you need to ward off cancer, delay aging, keep your arteries pliable, reduce inflammation and preserve brain function. In addition to their antioxidant content, fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and low in calories, so they’ll help fill you up without tipping the scale in the wrong direction. And, if you’re consuming more fruits and vegetables (you should try for 7 to 10 servings daily), you’ll likely eat fewer of the foods that aren’t as good for you.

Whole Grains Are Good

Notwithstanding the claims of low-carb fans, carbohydrates have always been an important energy source in human nutrition, and you need some carbs to stay healthy. However, not all carbohydrates are the same. Avoid refined and processed grains and limit your intake of simple carbohydrates (you’ll recognize these by their sweetness). Instead, rely on whole grains, which are richer in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure, whole grains won’t trigger a post-meal insulin surge that leads to insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Be Fat-Selective

Despite the perennial controversy about the importance of different types of fat in human health, it’s pretty clear that some fats increase systemic inflammation and increase your risk for heart disease and cancer. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats comprise no more than 7% of your total calories, and you should avoid trans fats altogether (1% of total calories is the upper limit here). Use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil, and choose margarine's that contain cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, such as Benecol or Smart Balance.

Most foods list their fat composition on the label, which is put there for your convenience. Beware of items that are advertised as “low fat”; some contain trans fats, which may be disguised in the ingredients list as “partially hydrogenated oils.”

Be Picky about Protein

In addition to carbohydrates and fats, proteins are the third “macronutrient” required for human nutrition. Proteins furnish essential amino acids that your body uses to synthesize hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, immune molecules and structural components. Choose high-quality sources of protein, such as lean meats, fish, egg whites, low-fat dairy products, legumes and soy products. And remember that most people only need about 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of lean body weight per day – that’s about 50 to 60 grams – so don’t overdo it. Excess dietary protein will simply be converted to fat.

Shake Off the Salt Habit

At least30% of American adults have hypertension (high blood pressure) and at least half of these people are salt sensitive, meaning their blood pressure rises in response to the sodium in their diets. Ideally, you should consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium daily from all sources (about 2/3 tsp of table salt). If you become a label reader, you’ll probably discover that you’re consuming too much salt; most processed foods are packaged with salt to make them more palatable.  

Americans are a faddish bunch. In the midst of an obesity epidemic that is threatening our collective well being and eroding the underpinnings of our healthcare system, we’re more likely to leap headfirst into the latest vogue diet than we are to critically examine what’s wrong (and what’s right) with our current eating habits and make a few sensible changes. However, if you adopt the recommendations listed here, you could rightfully claim that your diet is healthy. Really.

Here's to your wellness,


High Protein Foods

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Protein is one of three essential macronutrients in human nutrition. (The other two are fats and carbohydrates.) Proteins comprise about one-fifth of your body weight and form the architectural underpinnings of your eyes, skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and internal organs. Only water is more abundant than protein in your tissues.

Amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, can be used by your body for energy; more importantly, they are used to synthesize hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, antibodies and other immune molecules, carrier molecules (hemoglobin and albumin, for example), pigments, and structural components.

Obviously, proteins are an essential component of your diet. However, in developed countries like the United States, protein deficiency is uncommon; most Americans actually consume more protein than they need. In fact, surplus dietary protein is one of the driving forces behind the obesity epidemic. After all, like other energy-containing nutrients, protein that isn’t immediately utilized is converted to fat.

The trick, then, is to eat high-protein foods – more specifically, foods that contain high-quality protein – that furnish the amino acids your body needs without supplying excess calories. High-quality proteins are those that contain most or all of the essential amino acids, which are amino acids that cannot be synthesized within your cells and consequently must be obtained from your diet.

Certain animal foods, such as pork, eggs, milk, cheese, beef, lamb and poultry, are often called “complete” proteins, because they contain all of the eight to ten amino acids your body cannot manufacture – that is, the essential amino acids. However, most of these foods contain substantial amounts of undesirable saturated fat, and when they’re metabolized they can make it more difficult for your cells to maintain an optimal acid-base equilibrium.

Many plant-based foods are excellent protein sources, too, although you’ll need to eat several different types of plants to obtain all of the essential amino acids. That’s because many vegetable proteins contain adequate levels of most essential amino acids but may be lacking in one or two. Examples of high-quality plant proteins include whole grains (much of a grain’s protein is housed in its germ covering), legumes, nuts, seeds, soybeans and fermented soy products, brown rice, sprouts, quinoa and wheat grass. In addition to being good sources of protein, most plant foods are more “pH-friendly,” they contain healthier types of fat, and they’re usually packed with beneficial fiber.

All whole foods contain protein, so it isn’t difficult to get enough in your diet. (Humans only need about 1/3 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight daily.) It’s the source of protein that ultimately determines how healthy you are. If you’re an inveterate meat-eater, try adding more plant proteins to your diet. You’ll not only feel better in the long run; you’ll make mealtimes more interesting!

Here's to your wellness,


Secrets of the Caveman Diet

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The secret to the Caveman Diet is…there is no secret. The Caveman Diet also known as the Paleo Diet claims “to be the healthiest way you can eat because it is the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility”-Robb Wolf

Briefly, I think that the Standard American Diet is in such a terrible state, with a history of wrecking the health families, great leaders and teachers, athletes, etc. that almost any diet would be an immediate improvement. The secret to the Caveman diet is that its promoters make it sound like it is nutritious and delicious. Further, it is a diet that that people have strayed from and that’s why so many people are struggling today with their weight, energy, leanness, and for some…their strength. This is what I read in a Paleo Diet article recently:” One of the greatest deviations away from our ancestral diet is the amounts and types of fat found in modern grain feed animals vs. the amounts and types of fats found in grass fed or wild meat, fowl and fish. What we observe is wild meat is remarkably lean, and has relatively low amounts of saturated fats, while supplying significant amounts of beneficial omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA in this paper Prof. Cordain and his team analyze the complete fatty acid profile from several species of wild deer and elk. The take home message is that free range meat is far healthier than conventional meat.”

Is this a diet that people have strayed from? By the way aren’t we as humans suppose to evolve? And is not evolution a process of developing, getting better, wiser, faster and economical? So, we haven’t strayed from anything, but eating to survive and even for those who could afford eating above the level of survival, they were limited in the knowledge of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, physical activity and rest.

Although there appear to be many benefits to following the Paleo diet, it doesn't come without some downsides. The Caveman diet is very restrictive, which may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as calcium and vitamin D. Depending on individual protein choices, this diet can also be high in saturated fat, a nutrient linked to increased inflammation.

Here's to your wellness,


Healthy Snacks

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Most of us have grown up thinking that snacking is a bad habit, that it is something that will “ruin our dinner” or was possibly the reason we are overweight. In some cases, snacking is a bad habit, such as when you eat an entire bag of chips and soda in front of the TV a half hour after you’ve just eaten dinner. But when you make the decision to make your snacks work for you, especially if you are actively trying to lose weight, you will amazed at how much more effectively you and your body work throughout the day.
   
The first rule to healthy snacking is to be prepared. You need to load your refrigerator, freezer, pantry, work drawer and even your car with healthy snacks so that you always have something on hand in case you get hungry. This will require effort on your part, but good preparations will lead to making good choices. Packing a few bags of almonds and dates to keep at work when you hungry will make you less likely to head for the candy machine. You’re more likely to stick to your diet and have the energy for a better afternoon workout.
   
Before you think you can get off easy by buying prepackaged 100 calorie snacks or energy bars at the supermarket, keep in mind that most of these products are full of ingredients like sugar, sodium, trans fats and preservatives. Creating the perfect snack combination by combining 2-3 of the following elements: low calories (about 200), whole grains, fiber, protein, nutrients, complex carbohydrates and a small amount of “good” fat (monosaturated or polyunsaturated fats). It should provide energy and be satisfying enough to get rid of hunger.
   
Contrary to what many people think, eating more frequently, for example 5-6 small meals or 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks will speed up your body’s metabolism, causing you to burn more calories and give you enough energy to exercise. When you starve yourself, your body will ration calories for energy storage. Make sure you eat complete meals and don’t substitute snacks for meals. A good way to avoid overindulging at a dinner or a party is to eat a small snack before you go.
   
Here are some examples of healthy snack ideas:

Savory:
• Edamame in the shell
• Whole wheat toast with 2 microwaved egg whites
• 2 slices lean deli meat (no nitrates) wrapped around nonfat string cheese
• Cup of soup (lentil, vegetable or lean protein) with 5 whole wheat crackers – low sodium, preservative free
• Tuna with whole wheat crackers
• Hummus with fresh, raw vegetables

Sweet:
• ½ melon with scoop of nonfat cottage cheese
• Almonds and dried fruit (dates, figs, raisins)
• Fruit smoothie: ½ c nonfat yogurt, frozen fruit, ice, 2 T juice
• Oatmeal and berries
• Cup of nonfat Greek yogurt with teaspoon of honey
• Apple with almond butter
• Glass of Almond milk

Snacking is good and actually recommended. The key to keeping healthy is to snack smart! 

Here's to your wellness,

How to Lose Belly Fat

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One trait that sets an athlete apart from the rest of the herd is a ripped six-pack, that ladder-like array of abdominal muscles that bears witness to thousands of crunches, sit-ups and knee-raises. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the ignoble “spare tire,” an abdominal ornament that attests to too many trips through the take-out line and too many remote control-punching hours on the couch.

Having an apron of fat around your middle – what doctors call “visceral fat” – is more than just a cosmetic issue. Abdominal fat is one of the diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome, a condition that heightens your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. There’s something about visceral fat that sets off an inflammatory fire in your body, a slow conflagration that damages blood vessels, triggers insulin resistance and incites revolt within your immune system.

While any excess visceral fat poses a health risk, the odds for serious trouble really ratchet upward when your waist size reaches a critical limit: 35 inches (89 cm) if you’re a woman or 40 inches (102 cm) if you’re a man. Your waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index are also useful for determining health risks, but these clinical tools are confusing for some people. Nearly anyone can wrap a tape measure around his or her waist. (Place the tape against your bare skin just above your hipbone to get an accurate measurement.)

So what’s the best way to unload your beer belly or trim the overhang from your muffin top? Like excess fat anywhere on your body, visceral fat will disappear if you increase your activity level and reduce your caloric intake. Unfortunately, there’s no diet plan, supplement or specific exercise that will magically dissolve abdominal fat. Sit-ups will strengthen your abdominal muscles, but such “spot reduction” exercises aren’t any better than other types of exercise for getting rid of belly fat.

Increasing muscle mass in any area of your body will help burn visceral fat, because muscle tissue is metabolically active and demands lots of energy even between exercise sessions. So mix a little weightlifting into your workout routine. Strive for 15 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise – mixing aerobics with resistance training – every day. If you can’t fit a one-hour session into your schedule, break your daily exercise into several 10- to 15-minute workouts.

In addition to the empty calories it provides, alcohol elevates hormones that help visceral fat grow and make it harder to lose once it’s nestled around your waistline. If you drink more than two alcoholic beverages daily, cutting back will help you lose your belly roll. Cortisol, another hormone that contributes to the deposition of visceral fat, is higher in people who are chronically stressed or who are sleep-deprived. Get at least seven hours of restful sleep each night; if you’re under a lot of stress, seek ways to reduce it (counseling, delegating responsibility, exercise, etc.).

Belly fat can be stubborn, but it will disappear if you develop a routine and stick to it. And even if it takes you six months, a year or even more to slim down, you’ll start reaping health benefits long before that last obstinate bulge slides off your middle.  

Here's to your wellness,


Preserve Your Memory

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For some of us, the most frightening consequence of aging is the possible loss of our mental faculties. Utter the phrase “Alzheimer’s disease” – especially to someone whose family has been touched by it – and people’s expressions tend to get a bit strained.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of memory loss among the elderly – although it can hit younger people, too. With America’s first baby boomers reaching age 65 in 2012, healthcare experts are predicting that many citizens will spend their final years either suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or caring for a loved one who has it.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is currently the only condition among America’s top ten causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even significantly delayed. While death rates for other major diseases – stroke, heart disease, HIV, and several cancers – are declining, those for Alzheimer’s continue to climb. Despite this grim trend, in 2011 the National Institutes of Health spent about one-tenth as much for Alzheimer’s research as it did on cancer, heart disease or HIV/AIDS research.

Therefore, since it could be a while before any meaningful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is forthcoming, you might want to start taking better care of your brain right now:

• Unload the brain-unfriendly habits: Stop smoking, avoid recreational drugs and limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks daily. Smoking damages the blood vessels that feed your brain, and substance abuse destroys neurons that simply cannot be replaced.

• Adopt a healthy diet: When planning your menu, rely heavily on vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other compounds that are essential for neurotransmitter synthesis, healthy nerves and robust circulation. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in oily, cold-water fish (salmon, trout, sardines, etc.) is essential for normal brain function, so get a couple of servings of fish each week. Limit red meats, which can be artery-clogging.

• Exercise your body: Fifteen to 60 minutes of exercise daily not only protects your heart, strengthens your muscles and builds strong bones; it helps delay the onset of dementia like no medication will. Take up walking, and change your route from time to time. Walking improves balance, aerobic conditioning and cerebral blood flow, and altering your routine presents your brain with novel stimuli.

• Exercise your brain: A 2009 study in the journal Neurology demonstrated that people who read, write, do crossword puzzles, play board games or cards, play musical instruments or regularly participate in group discussions are less likely to develop dementia. The study’s authors reported that every mentally stimulating activity you undertake will delay the onset of dementia by 2 to 3 months. That might not seem like much, but a few months can mean the difference between getting your affairs in order and leaving them in total disarray.

• Consider supplementation: Although research hasn’t convincingly proven that supplements can prevent, reverse or slow the progression of memory loss, several have shown promise in limited studies. For example, ginkgo biloba could be as effective as some medications for managing dementia, particularly in individuals who have reduced blood flow to their brains (e.g., smokers). Similarly, huperzine A, omega-3 fatty acids, acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin E, Panax ginseng, alpha-lipoic acid and curcumin have all garnered the interest of scientists looking for ways to treat Alzheimer’s patients. (Before taking any supplement, check with your doctor first; some supplements should not be used by people with certain medical conditions or those taking prescription medications.)

• Get a handle on your medical issues: If you have high blood pressure, high lipid levels or diabetes, or if you’re packing around more weight than you should be, see your medical provider to get these problems addressed. Uncontrolled hypertension or chronically elevated blood glucose or lipid levels wreak havoc on your brain and contribute to memory loss. And studies show that people who are obese during their youth and middle age are 40 to 80% more likely to develop dementia than their normal-weight counterparts.

More people are living longer these days, and there’s no reason to believe you won’t be one of them. Making a few lifestyle changes right now just might keep you sharp-witted well into your twilight years.

Here's to your wellness,


Supplements Done Simply

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If you walk into any supplement store in America, you’ll be dazzled by hundreds of colorful bottles, vials, phials and flasks; you’ll encounter enticing advertisements exhorting you to buy the latest revolution in natural health – and if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you could easily be overwhelmed. Depending on the expertise of the person behind the counter, you may or may not find the information you seek, and if you asked your physician about a particular supplement before heading to the store, you may have been less than satisfied with the answer.

For better or worse, when it comes to choosing a supplement – whether it’s for general health maintenance or a specific health concern – you’re pretty much on your own. The Internet has made it easier to track down basic information about many supplements, but the worldwide web is also the domain of marketers and others who put their own interests before yours. So you must learn to separate the misinformation and hype from the real science. And that’s where things can get a little tricky.

Unfortunately, there’s little scientific data available for most of the supplements found on health-food store shelves. Since supplements aren’t subjected to the same regulatory scrutiny that prescription drugs are (and since they’re seldom the cash cows prescription drugs are), most research dollars are diverted to the pharmaceutical industry. Except for what has been learned through observation, much of what we know about supplements is derived from “in vitro” (test-tube) or animal studies, which may have little bearing on human physiology. 

Thankfully, you can learn about some of the supplements you’re taking – or about a new supplement you’re considering – in a number of places: the Office of Dietary Supplements, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Linus Pauling Institute,  and PubMed Health are good sources for “evidence-based” information – the sort of information generated by scientific trials – when it is available.
 
In general, you should approach your supplements in much the same way you’d approach a new prescription medication. Before you use any supplement, consult sources that aren’t affiliated with the product’s manufacturer. If you find studies that allude to in vitro or animal studies, be aware that the supplement may not exert the advertised effects in your body.

When purchasing supplements, look for manufacturers that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (you’ll see the initials “GMP” or “CGMP” [Current Good Manufacturing Practices] stamped somewhere on the label). Although they’re not equivalent to the FDA standards that govern the production of pharmaceuticals, Good Manufacturing Practices are your best assurance of the purity, quality and consistency of the ingredients in a supplement. Just as you would do your homework before taking a prescription medication, every supplement you put in your body should get the same critical review. Most supplements have medicinal activity – albeit less profound than prescription drugs – and many supplements interact in undesirable and occasionally dangerous ways with each other or with prescription medications.

Although it seems counterintuitive, the best way to simplify your search for the right supplement is to do a bit of research first. Dig for sources that don’t have a vested interest in what you’re buying. Talk to your healthcare provider. Consult an herbalist, nutritionist, homeopath, Chinese physician or naturopath if your medical doctor isn’t helpful. Read the testimonials of others who have tried the product(s) you’re thinking of using.

Then, the next time you walk into your favorite supplement store, you can do so with confidence. 
          
Here's to your wellness,


How Fit are You?

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This is a great question to ask yourself, whether you are someone who follows a strict exercise regime, a senior with age-related health issues like arthritis or you are interested in starting an exercise program for the first time. If you are 18 to 30 years old without any major health issues, most doctors agree you can safely begin an exercise program however like the of the population, it is extremely valuable to make certain assessments of one’s fitness level to determine strengths and weaknesses, as well as to record a starting point from which to measure progress.

Fitness is divided into two categories. Performance-Related Fitness applies to athletic fitness, demonstrated in professional or Olympic athletes, as well as in your own neighborhood softball team or pickup basketball game players. Skills related to this type of fitness include speed, reaction time and coordination and are demonstrated in abilities such as pitching a fastball and performing a routine on the parallel bars.

The second type of fitness is Health Related Fitness, the purpose of which is to lower health risks like high blood pressure, diabetes and joint pain. This type of fitness is measured by aerobic strength, muscle strength, flexibility and body composition, among other criteria. Health related fitness is necessary to perform everyday tasks like carrying groceries, doing house and yard work and lifting boxes of paper for the copy machine at work.

There are several methods of testing levels of the different components of fitness, many of which can be found online. One of the most established tests is The President’s Challenge, which many adults may remember taking in grade school. A specific test for adults can be found on www.adultfitness.org and presents simple exercises to test four components of fitness which represent a base standard of fitness. It tests four principles that enable individuals to measure their fitness levels against the wider population. This information acts as a tool, allowing a person to make healthier changes in his or her life and set personal fitness goals
 
Aerobic fitness is tested by a 1-mile walk or 1.5 mile run. Half sit-ups and pushups assess muscular fitness. A half sit up with restrained legs measures flexibility and body composition is determined by calculating BMI (Body Mass Index). (The calculation for BMI and the interpretation of your number is available on the above web site.) In addition to encouraging you to record your results and retake the test periodically to reassess your fitness level, you can send in your results for a professional assessment.
   
No matter what your age or weight, don’t get discouraged if your initial scores are not ideal. Keep in mind that even the most elite athlete must begin at the starting line. Building good fitness is one activity in which hard work is guaranteed to pay off with concrete results.

Here's to your wellness,


Food Pyramid Goes Flat

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If you like pie, you’ll love the USDA’s new food guide. Ok so, you can’t eat all of the pie you want, but the full-bodied (and mighty flat) food guide now looks more like a pie than one of the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The folks behind the new design (First Lady Michelle Obama included) call it a “plate,” but just for fun, I think we can call it a pie. It’s even divided into four hearty pieces!

You don’t have to peer at the pie for long to notice a number of significant changes. Not only has dairy completely lost its platinum status in the upper tiers of the old pyramid, it’s been reduced to nothing more than a side dish. Some might argue that dairy is even optional with the addition of soy milk to the category. And here’s something many might not know—most soy milk products have more calcium and vitamin D than good old fashioned cow’s milk.

One of the reasons dairy lost its status is the high fat and calorie content. Other issues associated with dairy consumption such as bloating, constipation, and all-out lactose-intolerance are just a few others. Other forms of fats, oils, and sweets have been banished from the pie as well. However, good fats/oils such as olive oil and fish oil are included in USDA food patterns, but you still won’t find them listed in any piece of the new pie.

Here’s what you will find—fruits and vegetables occupy 50 percent of the plate, and the other half consists of grains and proteins. This means at every meal, half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables and the other half should be a combination of grains and healthy proteins—so ditch the deep fryer.

If you must include dairy, the USDA says: Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not.

As for the groups that made the plate, you’ll find so many options that will help you meet the USDA’s daily recommendations you’ll lose count. The fruit group includes everything from appetizing American staples such as apples, bananas, and strawberries to exotic edibles such as the African cucumber fruit, mangosteen, and star fruit. With so many choices, it’s impossible to get bored, so get out there and explore.

The vegetable group offers the same overabundance of options ranging from healthy American bites such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beets to unusual fare such as fiddle-head ferns, fresh ramps, and taro root. The USDA recommends the following foods from the protein and grains groups:

Grains

Brown Rice, Bulgur, Oatmeal, Whole Cornmeal, Whole-Wheat Flour

Proteins 

Beans and Peas, Eggs, Lean Cuts of Red Meat, Game Meat, and Ground Meats, Nuts and Seeds, Poultry, Seafood, Shellfish, Soy Products

It’s best to strictly limit or eliminate refined grain products from the diet. White flour, white bread, white rice, and de-germed cornmeal are just a few. Refined grain products undergo a procedure called “milling.” During the process, bran and germ are removed, giving grains a finer texture and a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, milling also removes essentials such as dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

Portions are key to maintaining a healthy diet. Keep food in moderation and you will have success.

Here's to your wellness,


Staying Healthy on the Go

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We live in a 24-hour society, which makes it even more important that we keep ourselves healthy and energized. Whether you at home, at work or traveling, you can focus on four simple principles: 1) eating nutritious, energizing foods, 2) hydration, 3) exercise and 4) sleep.

During our busy lives, time seems to move faster than we do. By nightfall, you glance at the clock and realize it’s not only dinnertime but lunchtime went unnoticed. Missing meals disrupts our blood sugar levels and can interfere with our biochemical functions. To break this habit, learn to plan your meals, starting with a nutritious breakfast. Prepare the ingredients the night before, whether it is a breakfast wrap or hearty oatmeal with berries. After you tackle breakfast, take the leftovers from dinner, chop them up and add green leafy lettuce. Make a light olive oil and lemon juice dressing and tomorrow’s lunch is ready.

The grocery store is full of healthy, ready to go snacks like fiber-rich energy bars, snackable fruits, nuts, nonfat Greek yogurt cups and individual nut butter packages. Make sure you eat something every three hours to avoid dips in blood sugar.

Keep hydrated by carrying around your own BPA free with individual filter water bottle. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day to help your immune system flush out toxins and ward off cold and flu viruses. Instead of coffee, have a cup of green tea.

Make exercise a priority. If bad weather keeps you indoors, DVDs and hand weights provide a hearty workout. Expending calories along with balanced blood sugar make it easier for your body to relax at night and get the essential eight hours of sleep it needs.
   
If business requires you to travel, you need to bring your healthy habits on the road. The four rules still apply. Take your healthy snacks with you, both for the trip and especially on the airplane. Unless you are flying first class, you will want to avoid airplane food. Pack a healthy sandwich and a bag of cut fresh vegetables or, if it’s a morning flight, take a paper bowl with a bag of multigrain cereal and berries. Ask the flight attendant for some milk and you’ll arrive energized on a full stomach.
   
Empty your water bottle before going through security and fill it on the other side. Request water from the flight attendant or bring relaxing herbal tea and ask for hot water. Avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee, soda and alcohol.
   
Exercise is especially important when you travel as it helps your body acclimatize to local time and improves sleep quality. Create a special basic workout bag just for travel that includes clothing, shoes, favorite workout DVDs, a jump rope and strength bands. Most hotels have a gym with cardiovascular machines, weight machines and a pool. Ask the concierge for a good place to run, walk or rent a bike. In addition to a staying healthy, it’s a great way to see the local sights!   

We all lead hectic lives, but it is important to stay healthy even when you are on the go. Doing so will help you to have enough energy to complete the daily activities that keep your schedule so busy.

Here's to your wellness,


10 Reason Why You Are Tired

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Are you always exhausted? Is your energy low? Do you feel sluggish throughout the day?

Here are a list of 10 reasons why you may be feeling tired:

1. You are too plugged in.

From the moment we wake up to the time we close are eyes, so many of us are attached to an electronic device, be it a computer, tablet or phone. Keep electronics, including televisions, out of the bedroom, and make it a goal not to use your cell phone an hour before bedtime.

2. You are dehydrated.

Dehydration causes a decrease in blood volume and forces your organs to work harder, which can lead to fatigue.

3. Your diet is unhealthy.

A detoxifying diet, such as an alkaline diet, will assist the liver in releasing toxins and acids from the body, eliminating the feeling of achy lethargy.

4. Your body does not have an established sleep cycle.

Going to bed at consistent bedtime is a good habit, but waking up at the same time is far more important because it sends a message to the brain that the sleep cycle is over. The idea that you can “make up” lost sleep is false; in fact, sleeping in will make you feel more sluggish.

5. You consume too much caffeine.

Caffeine can stay in your system long enough to effect your sleep by interfering with your REM patterns. The first step is to stop drinking or eating food with caffeine several hours before bedtime. If you rely on caffeine to wake you up or get you through your day, you might have a serious dependence on caffeine. Cut back slowly over time to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

6. You are a snorer.

In many cases, snorers suffer from sleep apnea, a serious condition in which the upper airway becomes blocked. In severe cases, the snorer can stop breathing for a few seconds several times during the night. This exhausting cycle of oxygen deprivation leads to unending fatigue without treatment.

7. You are anemic.

Anemia is a condition in with there is a low amount of oxygen carrying hemoglobin in the red blood cells. As a result, the body has to work harder to get oxygen. Anemia is caused by mineral inefficiencies like iron, certain illnesses or internal bleeding, like an ulcer, and requirement medical assessment.

8. You have an under-active thyroid.

Your thyroid sets the metabolic rate for your body, which is the rate in which you burn calories. Several things can affect the thyroid; it is a side effect of several medications. Symptoms include feeling excessively tired, sensitivity to cold and weight gain without consumption of increased calories.

9. You may be depressed.

If you don’t have any physical symptoms but still have an overwhelming sense of fatigue and malaise, talk to your doctor if you think you might have depression.

10. You have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

CFS usually presents as excessive tiredness for no specific reasons for 6 or more months with a constant sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headaches.

By making minor changes to your lifestyle with diet & sleep you can easily increase your energy level. However, if you think you might have any of these medical conditions, make an appointment with your doctor. Better to be safe then sorry!

Here's to your wellness,


Heart Healthy Eating

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The heart is a complex organ that beats more than two and a half billion times in an average lifetime. Exercise can improve the condition of your heart by strengthening the heart muscles, improving its function though it does not actually make it grow in size. An enlarged heart, however, is a result of one of a number of conditions such as stress or weakening of the heart muscles.

In the United States, heart disease is the primary cause of death in women and men. According to the American Heart Association, more than 64 million American adults currently suffer from a form of heart disease. Along with exercise, a healthy diet is one of the main ways that you can keep your heart healthy. It can help to strengthen your heart, make it function better and significantly reduce the risk of heart conditions including an enlarged heart.

Nutritional experts recommend switching to a Mediterranean style diet as this has a beneficial effect on insulin resistance and dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease. There is no one specific ‘Mediterranean’ diet. More than 16 countries border the Mediterranean Sea so the diets do vary somewhat between these counties. However there are common characteristics among them.

These are:

• A daily diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, beans, seeds and nuts.
• Daily consumption of oily fish, such as salmon, baked or grilled poultry with small amounts of red meat.
• Olive oil as a monounsaturated replacement for saturated fats.
• Eggs to provide protein up to four times each week.
• Red and white wine consumed in moderate amounts.
 
The Mediterranean diet does not just provide heart health, it also reduces the risk of some forms of cancer, protects against obesity and diabetes, as well as improving digestion. What’s more, with this type of diet it’s easy to stay healthy while still enjoying a wide range of flavorful foods.

Here's to your wellness,


The Real Truth About Organic Food

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Utter the word “organic” and any self-respecting chemist will conjure visions of carbon-based molecules and saturated bonds. A health-conscious mom, on the other hand, thinks of foods she can put on her family’s table without worrying about pesticides, hormones and heavy metals. 

While there aren’t throngs of people kicking down doors to become chemists, the demand for organic food has steadily risen since Lord Northbourne reintroduced the concept of “organic farming” in his 1940 book, Look to the Land. (I say “reintroduced” because it was only during the 20th century that the concept of industrial farming really took hold. Before then, practically all farms were organic.) As more people began browsing for organic foods at grocery stores or shopping at exclusively organic venues, traditional suppliers of organic foodstuffs – family farms and small co-ops – simply couldn’t keep up.

Enter big business. It’s no secret that whenever there’s a demand for a profitable commodity, big industry will gear up to meet that demand and do its best to corner the market. In this respect, organic foods appear to be no different than toothbrushes or toilet paper. According to a July 2012 article in The New York Times, many of the well-known producers of organic foods – Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi, Spectrum Organics, etc. – have been gobbled up by the likes of PepsiCo, Kellogg, General Mills and ConAgra. In addition, most of the nation’s organic farms are now in the hands of large agri-food corporations.

Now, just because the mega-corporations have an abysmal record in other arenas doesn’t mean they’ll run roughshod over the organic food industry. After all, some organic standards are firmly entrenched, both by convention and by law: regardless of size, organic farms aren’t allowed to use synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers; there’s a fairly long list of “blacklisted” pesticides, and genetically engineered seeds are strictly verboten. Furthermore, land that has had any prohibited substance applied to it within three years cannot be used to produce organic crops.

Unfortunately (and not too surprisingly), there are some disconcerting trends developing in the organic industry. One of the most compelling issues is the shifting membership of the National Organic Standards Board, which makes many of the decisions about what defines “organic” and what additives are acceptable in organic foods. The NOSB, which is comprised of 15 members, is increasingly weighted with representatives from what we should probably start calling “Big Organic.” As an example of where this could be headed, one year ago the board nearly voted to include a nitrogenous herbicide – for the very first time – on its list of accepted substances. And, in the last decade, nearly 80 non-organic compounds have been added to the list of agents that are allowed in “certified organic” foods.

A lot of people squabble about whether organic foods are more nutritious, more environmentally friendly or any safer, in the long run, than foods derived from industrial farming – and there are valid arguments on both sides of these debates. However, if organic foods are an important part of your health regimen, what you should really be worrying about is whether organic foods, in another decade or so, will even be distinguishable from what the big corporations have already been putting on America’s tables for the last 100 years.  

Here's to your wellness,


10 Foods for Healthier Skin

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As we age our skin gradually undergoes a number of changes. These changes, though subtle at first, often become the body’s most visible signs of aging. They are due to changes in the skin’s connective tissue which cause it to lose some of its original elasticity. Changes also begin in the skin’s outer layer (the epidermis), where the skin becomes thinner. The number of cells containing pigments gradually decreases, which can often leave the skin appearing translucent in parts, liver spots may also appear particularly on the face and hands. Just because your skin is getting older doesn’t mean you have to lose your freshness and vitality.

Here are ten foods that will help you maintain healthier skin.

Blueberries

One of the highest sources of antioxidants, blueberries protect the skin against free radicals which damage skin cells. Blueberries help protect against cell disintegration, keeping the skin looking younger.

Green tea

Green tea is also packed with antioxidants, these help to reduce inflammation and protect tissue and cell membranes. Green tea has been shown to reduce the effects of sun damage, which reduces your risk of skin cancer. Green tea also contains beneficial vitamins C, D and K.

Sweet Potato 

This delicious vegetable is packed with vitamins C, E and fiber. It keeps skin looking young by fighting of free radicals and improving the skin’s elasticity.

Salmon

Like other oily fish, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are very beneficial for the skin because they help keep cell membranes healthy and prevent toxins from entering and damaging the skin.

Carrots

A great course of vitamin A, carrots help the skin by boosting antioxidant levels and maintaining the health of skin cells.

Avocados

Avocados are tasty fruits that contain monounsaturated fats and are great for your skin. They keep you looking youthful by preventing your skin from drying out and reducing inflammation.

Yogurt 

Yogurt can benefit the skin, especially Greek yogurt because its nutrient help reduce wrinkles. Used topically it can soothe irritated or dry skin.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate juice is great for helping your body to eliminate toxins. This means your skin will remain youthful and glowing, longer.

Almonds

Almonds are a great source of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, as well as the antioxidant vitamin E. This means that almonds protect your skin from damaging UV rays and also help improve your skin’s elasticity by increase collagen.

Water

Staying hydrated is vital for healthy skin and will keep you young-looking. Water not only hydrates cells but helps them to remove damaging toxins.

While eating to maintain a healthy body you can also keep your skin feeling healthy and looking young.

Here's to your wellness,


Seven Fat-Fighting Foods

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If you’ve ever struggled to get from a size 10 to a size 8 before a honeymoon cruise, or if your doctor has ever told you to shed a few pounds to get your blood pressure under control, you’ve probably wondered why everything you eat seems to triple in caloric value as it settles on your waist or hips. And you’ve probably engaged in the same magical thinking that occurs to most dieters at one time or another: Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat as much as you want and still lose weight?

Well, it’s unlikely anyone will ever whip up a German chocolate cake or pasta Alfredo that will make your scale spin backwards (at least not in this universe). However, the following seven foods are among many that will encourage weight loss by suppressing your appetite, slowing your absorption of calories or revving up your metabolic rate. Some of these items may not be traditional fare for you, but it really isn’t that difficult to incorporate them into your menu:

Grapefruit

Long promoted as a “fat-burning” food, grapefruit really doesn’t possess any mystical properties for dissolving fat. Rather, its high soluble fiber content makes you feel fuller with fewer calories. If you eat a half grapefruit or drink a glass of grapefruit juice 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, you’ll eat less than you normally would when you sit down at the table. (Keep in mind that grapefruit alters the absorption of several prescription medications, so check with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your daily routine.)

Watermelon

Like many raw fruits and vegetables, watermelon is loaded with fluid, fiber and nutrients, including lycopene, arginine, B vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium and potassium. However, since watermelon’s nutritional bounty is packaged with relatively few calories, a wedge of this tasty summertime treat offers lots of health benefits at a low caloric cost – and all that water and fiber will help put a lid on your appetite.

Sweet potatoes

Unlike their bland, pale cousins, sweet potatoes don’t need loads of butter, sour cream, bacon bits and other high-calorie companions to make them palatable. And sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, potassium, ascorbic acid and fiber. So plant a baked sweet potato on your plate instead of a traditional baked potato; you’ll be amazed at how many calories you won’t eat.

Green tea

Recent studies suggest that green tea, unlike a lot of other widely promoted weight-loss aids, actually does accelerate your metabolic rate – at least temporarily. More importantly, green tea seems to specifically target abdominal fat, which has been linked to diabetes and heart disease. You’ll need to drink 3 to 5 cups of green tea daily to reap its weight-reducing benefits. (Avoid putting high-calorie sweeteners in your tea, though, or you may take in more calories than green tea will help you burn.)

Greek yogurt

With twice as much protein as regular yogurt, Greek yogurt provides a couple of weight-shedding benefits: since protein stays in your stomach longer, yogurt will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. In addition, your body burns more calories when digesting protein than it does when metabolizing an equal amount of carbohydrates. As an added benefit, the probiotics in yogurt will aid the digestive process. (To shave even more calories from your diet, always choose unsweetened and low-fat yogurt.)

Quinoa

Rather than spooning heaps of white rice onto your plate, try quinoa, which contains more protein and fiber than an equal amount of rice. Quinoa is prepared in the same manner as rice, and you can add steamed vegetables, scrambled eggs or crushed nuts for a well-balanced and appetite-quenching meal.

Coffee

There’s more good news about that morning cup of java. One of coffee’s chief constituents – a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid – appears to accelerate fat metabolism and suppress the release of hormones that trigger weight gain. The bad news? If you simply must get your caffeine fix in the form of a latte or cappuccino, you’re cancelling out the weight-paring effects of chlorogenic acid.

By incorporating one a day you can fit all seven into your diet weekly. Pairing these foods with exercise and a healthy diet will keep you on the right track to fight fat.

Here's to your wellness,


Boost your Energy Now

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If you’re feeling lethargic and having difficulty concentrating on the tasks at hand, you may need a quick energy boost. Here are five great ways to boost your energy now.

Eat Regular Meals

You need to re-fuel your body regularly with a balance of nutrients to maintain your energy. Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast. It’s probably the most important meal of the day, and if you skimp on it you will already be feeling fatigued by lunch time. Healthy energy–powered breakfasts include low-fat yoghurt with fruit and quinoa, cottage cheese and apple, and cheese and spinach scrambled egg.

Increase Your Magnesium Intake

Maintaining a balanced diet is vital to keeping your energy flowing, but if you need an extra pick-me-up increasing your magnesium intake may help. Magnesium is vital for more than 300 biological reactions in the human body. If your levels of this mineral are low, you will notice a drop in energy. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 300mg. Natural sources include bran, fish, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds.

Take a Walk

Waking is great exercise because it doesn’t require any especial equipment and you can do it anywhere. Although it may sound counterproductive to exercise when you are already feeling tired, physical activity, such as walking, will increase your energy level.

Get a Dose of Sunlight

You can increase your energy by making sure you have the right type of light. Sunlight gives you a boost and helps your body make vitamin D. If you work in an office with no windows or poor lighting, get a lamp for your desk and fit it with a daylight bulb. You’ll feel more awake and more cheerful.
 
Eat Protein

Eating protein throughout the day help maintain energy levels. Protein contains the amino acid tyrosine, which helps increase the levels of nor-epinephrine and dopamine in your brain. This makes you feel more alert and will also make you feel fuller, so you’re less inclined to over-eat. An egg or high-protein cereal is a great way to start the day. You can snack on nuts and fat-free yoghurt to boost energy throughout the day.

Hopefully these tips will help keep you energized, healthy and happy in the new year!

Here's to your wellness,


Ten Diet Tricks that Actually Work

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According to the National Weight Control Registry (America’s largest registry of people who have lost weight and kept it off), 98% of “successful losers” modify their food intake in order to lose weight. Since it’s unlikely any of these folks ate more to shed those pounds, just how did they change their diets to attain their goals? Is there some magical formula for losing weight?

Unfortunately, if there is a magical formula for weight loss, no one is sharing it. For better or worse, everyone has to find his or her personal path to weight control. Toward that end, one of the following “tricks” might just supply the alchemy to get things moving in the right direction for you:

1. Choose a diet you can love for the rest of your life.

Anyone who’s tried to lose weight and keep it off knows that fad diets, cleanses, and fasts don’t work. The reason they don’t is pretty straightforward: they’re simply unsustainable. A balanced, varied menu, such as a Mediterranean diet, is not only effective for losing weight; it’s the best way to maintain overall health over the long haul.

2. Eat smaller portions.

While this might seem pretty basic, when was the last time you compared the slab of meat on your plate to a deck of cards? That’s about three ounces of flesh, and that’s plenty for one meal. If you’re not into weighing and measuring your food, start using eight-inch plates instead of those spacious ten or twelve-inchers most Americans use. If you can’t fit your meals on the smaller plate, you’re probably eating too much.  

3. Count calories.

Not all foods contain the same number of calories, so portion size is only one of the hurdles you have to clear. It’s important to know how much energy you’re consuming. Count carbs, weigh your food, keep a diary…pick a method that works for you, and make it a habit.

4. Weigh in at least once weekly – better yet, get on the scale every day.

Accountability is a good thing. After all, if you don’t know where you’ve been and you don’t know where you are, how can you expect to know where you’re going? If your weight creeps up a few ounces on one day, it’s not a catastrophe: reevaluate your plan and do better the next day.

5. Eat more often.

Eating frequent, small meals keeps your blood glucose and insulin levels at an even keel and heads off those sudden hunger pangs. If you know how many calories you should consume every day, divide those calories into five or six meals, rather than three.

6. Eat at the table.

Studies show that people who eat their meals at the table tend to eat fewer calories, especially when they have someone to talk to. Those who dine in front of the TV eat the most.

7. Give your utensils a rest between bites.

Your brain knows you’re eating; if you give it time, it will release hormones that will put a lid on your appetite. Pausing between bites allows your hunger to abate before you’re tempted to head back for seconds...or thirds. (You could even talk to your family, if you’re so inspired.)

8. Eat breakfast every day.

If you don’t eat before you head out the door, your blood glucose will slide toward the basement, triggering hunger and (eventually) overeating. And while you’re fixing breakfast, fix a healthy snack to take to work, too. It’ll keep you from sharing that box of donuts with your coworkers.

9.  Don’t eat sweets before bedtime.

If you have a snack before bedtime, avoid sugary foods. Simple carbohydrates boost insulin levels sharply, which drives your blood glucose downward and triggers hunger. Upon awakening in the morning, you want to be pleasantly hungry, not ravenous.

10. Get plenty of sleep.

If you’re sleep deprived, you body produces stress hormones – most notably cortisol – that contribute to weight gain. Recent studies reveal that overweight people who don’t get enough sleep have a harder time losing weight.

Once you’ve picked a few tricks that will fit into your daily routine, don’t forget the other half of the weight-loss equation: you have to burn the calories you consume. Like it or not, 90% of successful losers spend about one hour exercising every day.

Here's to your wellness,


How to Start Running

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There are more than 700 marathon events throughout the country every year, and that number is growing. It’s a fact, American people love to run, and it’s not surprising because running is great for your health. Runners who cover at least ten miles per week lower their risk of high blood pressure by 39 percent and reduce their chance of high cholesterol by 34 percent.  Running also has a number of other health benefits, such as strengthening your bones, improving concentration, reducing insomnia, increasing longevity and of course, helping you maintain a healthy weight.

With all those benefits you can see why it is such a popular sport. But it’s not quite as simple as just putting one foot in front of the other. If you’re new to running there are a few things you need to take into consideration before you hit the road, the track or the treadmill.

Putting your First Foot Forward

Though you may not realize, the best way to get into running is to start walking. Regular walking will strengthen the muscles and tendons in your legs so that your body will become used to the impact of running. Build up gradually starting with a 30 minute brisk walk twice each week for one week and then four times on the second week. For the next three weeks building up a combination of walking and running, alternating between a five minute running burst and one minute of walking for thirty minutes.

Picking up the Pace

Once you get your pace going you can quite safely increase your running time by10 minutes per week as you build up your endurance. Try not increase your time or speed too soon, this will only increase your risk of injury and make you feel frustrated when you can’t meet your goal. Speeding up your pace puts extra strain on your musculoskeletal system so you should develop your endurance before picking up your pace.

Staying in Good Form

Everyone’s running style is different but it is important to keep to a good running form in order to put minimum impact on your joints, reduce your risk of injury and increase your efficiency. As you run remain relaxed, keep your chest forward and your shoulders down. Maintain an even pace. Your feet should hit the ground beneath your hips with soft footfalls. Your torso should be straight, avoid the temptation to lean forward otherwise you will put extra strain on your lower back. Keep your hands loose and your elbows close to your waist so that your arms don’t swing.

Be Kind to your Feet


If you’re serious about running regularly you should also make sure that you have appropriate footwear. Running shoes are made specifically to cope with the impact that running produces. The right shoe for you will depend on a number of factors including your weight, how often and where you run, and the height of your arch. If you’re a new runner you can get an evaluation from a specialty running store.

Running is a great way to stay healthy year round. With these tips you will be ready to conquer your first marathon in no time!

Here's to your wellness,


20 Ways to Stay Healthy on a Budget

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1. By frozen fruits and vegetables.

2. Buy in bulk.

Only buy staple products, like rice or toilet paper. Make sure that bigger really is cheaper.

3. Stop drinking bottled water.

Start filtering your own water with an inexpensive system.

4. Take control of your shopping experience.

Organize your shopping by making and committing to a list. Regularly cut coupons, keep them organized, match them to weekly grocery flyers to get more savings and attach coupons you want to use to your shopping list with a paper clip. Don’t shop hungry. If possible, shop alone (no kids asking for ice cream) Visit only one or two stores to save on gas. Sign up for store membership cards.

5. Bring your own meals, snacks and COFFEE.

6. Cook more meals at home.

Take leftovers to work for lunch.

7. Keep your yearly checkups.

Getting sick is one of the most expensive things we can do.

8. Workout without a gym.

Borrow DVDs from library look for workouts on youtube and get back to basics with sit-ups, pushups, jumping jacks, strength cords, etc.

9. Eat oatmeal for breakfast.

Not only does oatmeal continue to release energy throughout the day, it also keeps you feeling fuller longer and less likely to snack.

10. Stay connected face to face with friends and family.

A true connection with a friend gives you a sense of well-being.

11. Reuse overripe fruits and vegetables.

Great for smoothies or to help sweeten and moisten baked goods. Reuse baked potatoes and skins in a stew or as an appetizer.

12. Cut water bill.

Take shorter, cooler showers for more softer, supple skin and hair.

13. Choose Urgent Care over the ER.

If you need non-life threatening after hours emergency care, using an Urgent Care can save you time and money while providing you will excellent care, basic x-rays, lab work and prescriptions.

14. Sign up for a prescription savings programs.

This program can reduce your co-payment by half on any generic medication.

15. Even during cold months, stay physically active, even outside.

Make sure you are warm enough (look for sales online on basic warm weather gear). Germs love hot, moist, confined places like gyms but are not as happy in cold, clean air.

16.Check out a free self-help group.

Self-help groups, both live and online meetings, can help with just about any issue, all anonymously. Check out MentalHelp.net/selfhelp for more information.

17. Make sleep a priority.

Give your body time for extra rest and repair by turning in an hour early.

18. Add some spice to your life.

To keep your digestion at peak health and boost your immune system, try adding these spices into your recipes: ginger, cumin, oregano and cinnamon.

19. Get a skin checkup.

Look up skincancer.org for information about skin cancer, your risk and where you can get an exam.

20. Check out more than 3000 health related apps.

These tips should help keep you healthy and fit while keeping your costs down!

Here's to your wellness,


Vapor Distilled Water + Electrolytes – Who needs it?

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Depending on whether you’re a baby boomer or a member of Generation Y, the question “what type of water do you drink?” may sound ridiculous or like a perfectly normal question. Many decades ago, plain old tap water was the norm and most folks didn’t worry too much about filters and purifiers? I mean, who would dare question the local water purification plant? Today, the “who” is just about everyone!

Thanks to high demand for high-quality water, there are so many different bottled water brands and types, you’ll lose count. Let’s start with the simple stuff. The most common types of plain water are natural mineral water, spring water, and tap water.

Any product bearing the label “natural mineral water” must originate from a subterranean source that is protected from all contaminants. It must be analyzed for purity (more than 200 required tests), and it must be bottled at its source. Natural mineral water contains higher amounts of beneficial minerals that other types of water. Calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), and sodium (Na+) are just a few beneficial minerals found in natural mineral water. Some of the most recognized natural mineral water brands include Celtic Spring, Eden Falls, Evian, Nestle Pure Life, and Perrier.

Spring water is also obtained from subterranean sources (springs), but it does not require the same level of testing as natural mineral water. Further, spring water has not been proven to offer the same benefits as natural mineral water. Just a few popular spring water brands include Arrowhead, Evian, Ice Mountain, and Poland Spring.

Depending on the region, tap water may be sourced from lakes, rivers, and/or streams (surface water) or from a well (groundwater). Tap water is treated through the local water purification plant before it makes its way to your tap. Although tap water does contain minerals, the amounts are typically smaller than the amounts found in natural mineral water.

Bottled water makers may use just about any type of water to create enhanced waters such vitamin water, flavored water, and electrolyte-enhanced water. Vitamin water makers add vitamins to water for their obvious health benefits, while flavored water makers add flavor simply for taste. The makers of electrolyte-enhanced water add electrolytes for several reasons.

Like flavored water makers, some bottled water makers add electrolytes for taste only, but there is a tremendous side benefit to this practice. Electrolytes (calcium, chloride, phosphate, potassium, sodium, etc.) have excellent restorative/replenishing properties. In fact, electrolyte-enhanced fluids are used to help patients recover from extended bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, and it is used in the world of fitness and sports to help replace lost minerals after strenuous activity. Electrolyte-enhanced water is also believed to aid in the prevention of muscle cramps.

Electrolyte-enhanced fluids are used to help stave off the effects of conditions such as anorexia and bulimia. They can also help quell dozens of other conditions that cause dehydration. Fever, diabetes, excessive sweating (with our without exercise) are just a few.

While Gatorade is one of the most popular electrolyte-enhanced drinks for athletes, and Pedialyte is the recommended choice for (sick) children, electrolyte-enhanced water is fast becoming the drink of choice for the average fitness enthusiast and many novices. Many fitness enthusiasts prefer electrolyte-enhanced water to Gatorade or other similar brands because it has zero carbs, zero sugar, and zero calories. One of Gatorade’s original (and lowest calorie) drinks has 50 calories, 14.0g carbs, and 14.0g sugars per 8 oz. serving.

While the type of electrolyte-enhanced water you choose is a personal choice, distilled waters offer several benefits. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) distilled water results when steam from boiling water is recondensed and bottled. Distilling water “kills” microbes and removes water’s natural minerals, debris, and other contaminants, giving it a flat taste. In addition to electrolyte-enhanced water, distilled or vapor-distilled water is often used in cooking. The flat taste is preferred by chefs as it rarely clashes with other ingredients.

So, the question remains—do you need vapor distilled water + electrolytes? In the U.S., it doesn’t matter whether you drink tap water or bottled spring water, electrolyte-enhanced or vitamin-infused water—water is good for you, period. The benefits of drinking a minimum of eight 8 oz. glasses per day are endless, but I’ll name a few. Drinking water helps:

-Control Calorie Intake
-Energize Muscles
-Keep Skin Looking Healthy
-Keep Your Kidneys Functioning Properly
-Maintain Normal Bowel Function
-Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids

However, if you exercise (whether moderately or rigorously), if you are ill (diarrhea, vomiting, eating disorders), or you feel dehydrated, electrolyte-enhanced water may help your body balance and heal better than bottled water or tap. 

Stay Hydrated and Stay Healthy!

Here's to your wellness,


Tips for Raising Healthy Kids

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Though rewarding, being a parent can be a tough job, but growing up can be hard work too, that’s why it’s important that you have all the ingredients for a good recipe for healthy children.

A Healthy Diet Means Strong Kids

Eating regular, balanced means is essential for your children. Not only will a good diet help them develop physically and mentally, it will also lay a solid foundation for good health in later life. Pay particular attention to the type of food they eat; help them choose snacks that are healthy, like fruit, nuts and sunflower seeds. Keep an eye on how much they eat so that they maintain a healthy weight. When it comes to healthy meals it’s not just diet that is crucial. Make sure that you sit down to eat as a family at least three times a week. This is an important time to share stories and experiences and to strengthen family bonds.

Love and Support Promotes Emotional Health

Children need the love and support of their family in order to grow into emotionally strong adults. Talk to your children and learn how they feel about what’s going on in their lives. Always respond positively to their emotional needs and help them to build confidence in themselves. Good emotional health at an early age leads to strength and ability through the academic years and into adulthood.

Physical Health Check-ups are Important

Routine visits to your family practitioner will not only help you find ways to keep your children healthy, they will also find health problems early on, when the chances of successful treatment are better. Keep a record of health visits and make sure that your children’s vaccinations are up to date.
 
Safety Inside and Outside the Home at all Times

Take necessary measures to ensure that your children are safe at all times, in the home, the car and outside. Make sure your home is fitted with safety locks where needed and fire alarms throughout. Use safety seats and seatbelts in the car. Remain aware at all times of any signs of physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment. If you suspect your child is being maltreated, discuss this with your pediatrician immediately.

Balanced Daily Routines are Good for Health


Keeping a regular daily schedule will help your children feel safe and secure. It will also promote good habits. Help your children learn by example by showing them how you keep a balanced lifestyle. From brushing your teeth morning, washing your hands before meals and having a regular bedtime, routine sets healthy boundaries and promotes stability.

Provide Activities for your Children

Fun activities are not only a great way to provide physical exercise for your children, but also to give them mental stimulus and to increase their creativity. Setting children activities that they can do by themselves is great for building on their independence, but group activities are also important. Make time every week to initiate a family activity that everyone can enjoy.
 
Through a balance of a healthy diet, exercise, and consistency; you can start your kids on the path to healthy living!

Here's to your wellness,



Superfoods that Help you Fight Colds

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During cold and flu season, we all want to know the secrets to fighting off these viruses. It may come as a surprise that items our kitchen can help us more than any over the counter medication. Several fruits and vegetables, as well as proteins and spices have amazing cold fighting powers. These amazing Superfoods are extremely effective for specific cold symptoms, but because they are high in vitamins and nutrients, they also help build a strong immune system, which acts as your best preventative medical care program all year round.

Some of the most effective cold-busting Superfoods listed are listed here.

Anise seeds are licorice-flavored seeds found in the baking aisle of your grocery store. They possess anti-bacterial properties and have the ability to ease coughing as well as clear congestion.  Take 1 teaspoon of anise seeds and add to 1 cup of boiling water to make tea. Add honey to taste.

Dark leafy greens like kale and arugula increase in nutritional value the darker their color. Not only does this Superfood help build immunity, making it an excellent choice year round, they are also very helpful during a cold. Eating bitter greens like arugula can help chest congestion, sniffles and cough. Studies by Dr. Emerson Bigelow in Britain have also shown that eating green leafy vegetables can increase the amount of infection fighting white blood cells.

Fennel is another Superfood that is drunk as a tea and is used as a natural expectorant to clear chest congestion and sooth coughs. The tea is made with 1.5 teaspoons fennel seeds and 1 cup boiling water which you steep for 15 minutes, strain and add honey to taste. The vegetable can be cooked for similar results.

Oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which are excellent in decreasing harmful inflammation in the body. Studies have demonstrated a direct link between chronic inflammation in the body and susceptibility to cold and flu viruses. Omega-3 fatty acid also decreases anxiety, a condition that can make you vulnerable to colds and flus.

Orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and persimmons are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A, an essential nutrient needed to maintain a strong immune system. Vitamin A aids the body when it is under duress, specifically when a cold virus is attacking the immune system, and makes sure that the mucous membranes lining the nose and throat are healthy and functioning properly. This is essential to protecting against further viral or infectious attacks, as the mucous membranes are part of the body’s first lines of defense.

Oysters contain more zinc than any other food. Zinc is an extremely effective in preventing illness during the first 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. Zinc tablets are available but cause nausea and headaches; if possible, eating zinc rich foods is the best source. If you can find clean, fresh oysters, you should eat them cooked; canned oysters are another option.

This is the time of year where none of us can afford to slow down. Instead of rushing out to the pharmacy, try adding these Superfoods to your daily diet. Not only will they fight your cold but they will help keep you healthy all year!

Here's to your wellness,


It Is Up to Me to Be: Re-framing Personal Responsibility

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Mental health and wellness is just as important as physical health. Low Self-Esteem and mental negligence can lead to a unhappy and unhealthy life. It is up to you to make the decision to live wholesome which leads to productive consequences. The first thing is that we need to focus on is that self-love is most effective to gain through ourselves, and that everything that is happening to you, is happening for you. Here are some easy tips to get you started:

Be clear on your goals.

The first thing that should do is that we should be clear on our goals. What is the purpose for us to do an activity? We should set a goal for whatever we plan to do, and then only if we plan to challenge ourselves to achieve that target. It is an important step because it will lead us to create another goal and reach another larger goal.

Face your fears.


We usually cope with fear in whatever things that we do, and this emotion will have great impact against self-reliance. Just because your afraid of it, doesn’t mean that you cannot accomplish the goal at hand. Facing your fears is the best way to get rid of them.

Constructive thinking.

Constructive thinking and emotions such as excitement can greatly affect the way we think of personal responsibility, the way we deal with any difficulties. You can make this a great motivation step to control your feelings and do not let those negative feelings stop you for reaching your goals.

Find more guidance.

It is true that confidence can be gained through ourselves, but sometimes we need some intensive guidance from successful people. We can learn from them, treat them as our mentor, and emulate their success and confidence. This is essential because whenever we are facing any difficulties, we will continue to be inspired and motivated by these successful persons. Hence, this will eventually greatly improve the way you perceive personal responsibility.

Take action and make it happen.

We receive information to gain confidence, self love and knowledge, even if that information was accumulated from seminars, self-help books, etc. It will not work if we are reluctant to take this last step. Keep fresh in your mind the goals you’ve set and visualize and emotionalize your thoughts. Take time for personal acuity, revise what went wrong and take the necessary steps to improve it.

Make the choice each and every day to have a positive attitude and a healthy happy mind. If your mind is clear and focused you will live a better life!

Here's to your wellness,


What are the benefits of an alkalizing diet?

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An alkalizing diet should ideally make up your fundamental source of nutrition, not only because of the high content of nutrients it provides, but because an alkalizing diet will help your body achieve maximum results from our program. It also leads to significant health benefits by neutralizes acidity within the body, whether it is due to consuming too many acidic or acidifying acids, or metabolic acidosis.

An alkalizing diet has benefits both inside and outside your body:

Urinary Tract Health 

Raising the pH of the urine can help prevent most types of kidney stones.

Increase in Bone Density, Muscle Mass, Bone Reabsorption and Prevention of Muscle Wasting and Osteoporosis in Older Adults:

Maintaining the ideal alkaline balance of 7.35 allows cells to be more
effective in absorbing key minerals like Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. In an unbalanced, acidic environment, these nutrients are used to clean up extra acids; however, once balance is restored, the nutrients are available for more important jobs, such as reducing tissue inflammation and joint pain.

Immune System

Just a few of the heroes of this diet are the spices, including cinnamon and chili, which act as immune system boosters.

Oral Health

A common problem with people with an over acidic diet is tooth and gum disease. An alkaline diet, which includes citrus fruits, can restore you to good oral health.

Digestive Health and Weight Loss

Because fruits and vegetables are at the centerpiece of the alkaline diet, it is ideal for individuals with digestive ailments such as constipation, diarrhea and even diverticulitis. It can be great for weight loss or to help maintain your current weight.

Energize Me

The alkalizing diet has a variety of oxygen rich foods that will boost your energy. By adding nutrient rich vegetables, fruits and fats such as avocados, and removing energy robbing high salt, processed foods and large amounts of animal proteins, you will not only benefit from your alkaline diet today, you will rewrite the way you age. These cumulative changes will lead to lower cholesterol and blood pressure in addition to contributing to a healthy weight. Higher energy will get you exercising and fighting bone density loss.

Final Thoughts

Many of you who suffer from chronic illnesses such as Diabetes Type II, Kidney Disease and Colitis have found that an alkaline diet helps makes daily maintenance easier because it is provides so many energy rich nutrients, it provides natural fiber and it assists in keeping blood sugar levels even. For many chronic illnesses, an alkaline diet can part of an overall disease management program. (NOTE: Please speak to your physician before starting any diet.)

The Future

We are constantly learning from new studies about ways in which an alkaline diet can affect every body system, from our mental health to how we might be more responsive to chemotherapeutic drugs to preventing strokes.

As you can see there are many immediate and long term benefits of adopting an alkaline diet. You can make changes daily to improve your health and diet. Don't wait...get started today!

Here's to your wellness,


Eat This Now! 13 Foods You Should Eat to Stay Healthy

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Modern medicine being what it is – a system seemingly designed to dispense a pill for every ailment – if you don’t want to become a walking formulary you should probably be doing everything you can to stay healthy for as long as possible. Diet is arguably one of the most important facets of any healthy living plan: what you eat has a lot to do with how well you fare over the long haul.

Fortunately, the same research paradigm that has given us “evidence-based medicine” has also provided valuable information about which foods are good for us. The thirteen that follow are among the healthiest:

Beef

We might as well get this one out of the way first. Yes, beef can be good for you. Red meat is one of the best sources of easily absorbed iron (heme iron), and it’s loaded with essential amino acids, zinc, and B vitamins (including B12, which isn’t found in plant foods). However, if you’re going to eat beef, limit your daily consumption to a couple of ounces – a portion about the size of a deck of cards – and go for lean, grass-fed beef, which is higher in vitamin E and vital omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish

Speaking of omega-3 fatty acids, there simply aren’t many good dietary sources of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are essential for a healthy nervous system and for controlling inflammation in your tissues. Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna, trout and sardines, represent the best sources of DHA and EPA. Two or three servings weekly are recommended.

Grass

The stuff that improves the nutritional quality of beef is good for people, too. Alfalfa, barley, wheat and oat grasses are laced with vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Grasses can be juiced, or they can be added to salads, stir fries or sandwiches (and some of us just stuff ‘em into our mouths by the handful). If you want to grow your own “green foods,” a small, open container, some potting soil, fresh water, seeds, a sunny windowsill and a week or two are all you need.

Dairy

Nonfat dairy products (skim milk, Greek yogurt, etc.) are excellent sources of protein: one serving of Greek yogurt provides up to 15 grams of protein – roughly 25% of the average person’s needs – along with healthy doses of food-based calcium (the kind that is most beneficial). And, if you consume vitamin D-fortified dairy products, you’re less apt to be one of many Americans who are vitamin D-deficient.

Oatmeal

About a decade ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sanctified oats as a “heart-healthy” food, largely due to the grain’s cholesterol-lowering effects. In the interim, research has also shown that people who eat at least 1/2 cup of oats daily (typically as oatmeal) have a 60% lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Adding fresh fruit or nuts to your oatmeal boosts its benefits even further. If you don’t like oatmeal, you can always disguise your oats in a meatloaf, or you can add them to breading for baked or fried meats.

Broccoli

Although President Bush (the elder) didn’t like broccoli, you should. Broccoli, along with its cruciferous cousins – cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage – contains compounds like indoles, polyphenols and sulforaphane that reduce your risk for heart disease and cancer. In fact, people who eat four or more servings of cruciferous vegetables weekly cut their risk of dying – from any cause – by over 25%. For maximum benefit, these powerhouses of health should be eaten lightly steamed.

Nuts

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eating tree nuts will cut your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Alpha-linoleic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid found in nuts, helps lower LDL cholesterol levels. Like DHA and EPA (the omega-3s found in fish), ALA may also reduce systemic inflammation. Nuts are a good source of beneficial polyphenols, too. If you like nuts, remember they are fairly high in calories; an ounce or so every day (a small handful) is plenty.

Beans

If you’re looking for lots of nutrition in a small package, think beans. Whether they’re red, white, black or pinto, beans are loaded with soluble fiber, which helps lower LDL cholesterol and improves insulin sensitivity (which helps prevent diabetes). Beans are also good sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin C and B vitamins. Eating three cups of beans every week will reduce your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancers of the breast and colon.

Garlic

It’s official: garlic not only discourages vampires; it lowers your blood pressure, and it might reduce your risk for infections and even some types of cancer. Researchers haven’t characterized all of garlic’s constituents yet, but they know that allicin, the sulfur-like compound that’s responsible for garlic’s distinctive aroma, is at the root of many of its effects. To reap the most benefit from garlic, crush the cloves and let them sit for a half hour or so; this activates and stabilizes garlic’s salutary properties. 

Olive Oil

There are those who claim that olive oil is the most important constituent of the Mediterranean diet, which is widely touted as one of the healthiest diets in the world. Whether that’s true or not, olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acids are apparently capable of nudging cholesterol values in desirable directions, and olive oil’s antioxidants may help protect you from cancer. Use extra-virgin oil to flavor breads, concoct your salad dressings and sauté or stir fry vegetables.

Sweet Potatoes

Usually only seen on holiday tables, sweet potatoes deserve far more attention than they get. They’re among the best dietary sources of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in your tissues. (Vitamin A is essential for vision, skin health, red blood cell production, immune function and normal growth and development.) A single seven-ounce sweet potato contains only 180 calories but supplies 800% of your daily vitamin A needs, as well as healthy doses of vitamin C, B vitamins, protein and fiber.

Apples

Nearly everyone munches on an apple from time to time; we should probably eat more. Studies show that the fiber in two average-sized apples helps lower cholesterol (so the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is about half right). And data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a huge study involving tens of thousands of women, suggests that apples are one of three foods that reduce the risk for heart disease among postmenopausal women. Type 2 diabetes and lung cancer are less frequent in people who regularly consume apples, too. If you choose to add more apples to your diet, refrain from putting them in sugary desserts; if you don’t like them whole, freshly sliced apples can be incorporated into any number of dishes.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it’s nirvana for many. The flavanols in cocoa are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories; people who consume an ounce or two of dark chocolate at least three times weekly have lower LDL levels, higher HDL levels, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and improved mood when compared to people who don’t eat chocolate. Dark chocolate is also a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium and copper. (Keep in mind that “dark chocolate” refers to chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa.)

There you have it: thirteen “lucky” foods for a healthier diet.

Here's to your wellness,


Three Key Factors in Successful Weight Loss

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If you’re overweight, you don’t need someone to point it out to you. You know you need to shed some ballast. If you’re like most overweight Americans, though, you’ve already tried dieting, exercise, weight-loss supplements and possibly even prescription drugs. And, if you’re like most other people in your situation, you’re probably not having much luck.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans are overweight or obese, a situation that portends dire consequences for our society, both on an individual and collective basis. Obesity increases your risk for heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer and a number of other serious illnesses, and being overweight significantly increases your risk for premature death. As for society at large, the costs of treating obesity now exceed those associated with smoking, and many healthcare experts predict that expenditures on obesity and obesity-related complications could bankrupt the country.

If you haven’t yet capitulated to your frustration, and if you’re still striving to get your weight under control, you may also still be looking for that one “secret” that will (ahem) tip the scales in your favor. Unfortunately, there are no earth-shaking weight-loss secrets, and (alas!) there are no easy fixes. Despite intensive research (which admittedly has yielded some fascinating information about the physiologic underpinnings of human obesity), successful and sustained weight loss still boils down to a formula that consists of three basic elements:

You must adjust your caloric intake to account for your daily metabolic needs and the amount of weight you wish to lose. In general, a pound of body weight contains about 3500 calories. Therefore, if you want to lose one pound every week, you’ll have to consume 500 fewer calories each day than your body needs to maintain its current weight (7x500=3500). Ninety-eight percent of people who lose weight and successfully keep it off modify their caloric intake. If you can’t design your own diet, or if you’re not good at wrestling numbers, see a dietician. (And keep in mind that as your weight drops, you’ll have to keep modifying your diet.)

You must improve your body’s ability to burn calories. Despite the hyperbolic claims of many supplement manufacturers, exercise is the most efficient and consistent way to accelerate your metabolic rate. Individuals who claim exercise doesn’t help them lose weight are typically stuck in an “activity rut”: they walk for 20 to 30 minutes every day, they get on the scale after their walk, and they throw up their hands in disgust when the numbers don’t budge. Research shows that people who mix aerobic exercise, such as walking, with resistance exercise, such as weightlifting, are more efficient calorie burners. So if you want to make your exercise count, become a “cross-trainer.” Go to the gym if you think that will improve your motivation, but you can design a reasonably good set of weights with two plastic gallon-sized milk jugs and some sand or water (the amount of weight can be adjusted by adding more or less sand to the bottle). With your no-cost weights in hand, you can do curls, triceps extensions and overhead presses in your own living room; pushups and sit-ups are free, too. And while you’re cursing your way through your workout – whether it’s “aerobic day” or “resistance day” – remind yourself that 90% of successful weight-losers exercise, on average, about one hour daily.

Get some sleep. Scientists have known for a long time that sleep-deprived people produce more stress hormones – including cortisol – and these hormones throw a big wrench into the cellular machinery that burns calories. Recent epidemiological studies confirm that obese individuals who get fewer than 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night have far more difficulty losing weight, even when they’re doing everything else right. And consider this: if you’re overweight you might have obstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to sleep deprivation even if you’re in bed for 12 hours. Check with your doctor to see if sleep apnea could be an issue for you.

Once you accept the importance of proper diet, daily exercise and adequate rest, there’s one more hurdle to leap on your way to successful weight loss: like any other healthy behavior, weight control is an ongoing process; persistence will become habit, and habit will carry you through to a longer, happier life.

Here's to your wellness,


Is Organic Worth It?

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It’s all the same stuff, right? Well, after this in depth look into the importance of organic foods and organic soil, perhaps you will answer this question before you finish reading this article. We can easily agree that one of the most outstanding features for most people concerning organic foods is the price difference. We are so indoctrinated with shopping for bargains and comparing prices to get the largest quantity per purchase. However, today price can and will be paid now or…later.

When thinking of the important facts and benefits of organic foods, the bottom line isn’t price at all with me. Let me share a very short story with you. During the months of September and October 2012, the gas prices escalated to a height that I wasn’t comfortable with because of my long distance commute on a daily basis. Sometimes it would feel like I was paying to work, but what I learned from it was, I chose to risk what was healthiest for not only myself, but for my family and others that depend on me. So, regardless how high the gas prices ascended, I was willing to find a way to make it work. The same goes for organic foods, sometimes the price is significantly different (the organic food is usually priced higher than the commercially produced food), but once we compare price with possibly higher nutrients and lower to no contaminants, then for those who prioritize their health, this becomes a non-issue. Food produced organically contains fewer contaminants and there are current scientific studies that that show that there are more nutrients in organically produced food.

Further supporting the claim that organic foods in general are more nutritious is a report by Virginia Worthington, M.S., Sc.D., C.N.S. Reviewing 41 published studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains, Worthington concluded there were significantly more of several nutrients in organic crops. These included 27% more vitamin C, 21.1% more iron, 29.3% more magnesium, and 13.6% more phosphorus. A 2008 report jointly produced by The Organic Center and professors from the University of Florida Department of Horticulture and Washington State University provides evidence that organic foods contain, on average, 25% higher concentration of 11 nutrients than their conventional counterparts.

We, the consumer continue to eat as we do because we continue to shop as we do, and when we shop as we do, which is impulsive, there is no plan, no list, no order for which makes healthy sense. Healthy shopping requires a plan; a plan is paramount to any level of sustainable success. With that said, the insane circle of unhealthy living begins its materializing right before your eyes and “organic” is most probably the last thing most common shoppers are concerned about.

Here's to your wellness,


To Supplement or Not

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According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Americans spend nearly $30 billion a year on dietary supplements, and more than half of the adults in the U.S. supplement their diets with vitamins.

According to scientists, they’re all wasting their money. There’s no evidence, they say, that supplements extend your life or protect you from disease.

Even worse, some researchers contend that people who regularly take vitamin or mineral supplements could actually be shortening their lives. For example, one arm of a large European nutrition study (the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) demonstrated that individuals taking daily calcium supplements had an 86% higher risk for heart attacks than those who took no extra calcium. In another widely publicized study conducted by the National Cancer Institute between 1985 and 1993, the adverse effects of beta-carotene supplements were unveiled: men who took beta-carotene were 18% more likely to develop lung cancer and 8% more likely to die from any cause than men who took placebos.

Here’s the rub, though: during the same time periods those studies were conducted, other no less meaningful (but, oddly, less widely publicized) trials produced conflicting results. A study published in the October 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that individuals who took daily calcium supplements had a lower risk of all-cause mortality than non-supplement users. As for beta-carotene, high dietary intake is associated with a lower risk for cervical cancer, and beta-carotene supplementation appears to improve cognitive function – an important consideration if you’re at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, there are some inconvenient statistical issues that could have diluted the strength of the aforementioned studies. First, it’s difficult to collect accurate information from “recall surveys” (a common practice in nutritional trials); thus, the data built into such studies is a bit fuzzy even before it gets masticated by the mathematicians. Second, people who take certain supplements may be doing so because they already have or are at risk for specific diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.); thus, their odds for reaching a “clinical endpoint” – death, for example – are already higher.

On the other hand, just because the same research paradigm that gave us Vioxx, Redux and Seldane (drugs withdrawn from the U.S. market due to potentially fatal side effects) is churning out studies that cast aspersions on your favorite supplement, this doesn’t mean you should disregard the scientists’ warnings. There’s clearly something going on here that deserves scrutiny, no matter what your stance on supplementation might be. And it’s clear that some supplements simply should not be taken indiscriminately: due to the risk of iron overload, no healthy adult male should take iron-fortified vitamins or iron supplements; in some situations, it can be dangerous to take folate without also taking vitamin B12; if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, you probably shouldn’t take more than 900 to 1,000 mg of calcium daily without consulting your health provider; if you’re a male smoker, you’d be well-advised to avoid beta-carotene supplements.

These days, most physicians and dieticians tell patients: “You don’t need to take a daily multivitamin as long as you’re eating a balanced diet.” Mind you, these are the same professionals who contend with the results of this nation’s collective malnutrition – masquerading as obesity – every single day. For a multitude of reasons, a balanced diet seems to be beyond the reach of most Americans. In the end, then, your decision to take supplements – and what those supplements will be – must be based on personal research and personal need. 

Here's to your wellness,


A Guide to Natural and Artificial Sweeteners

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There are many different types of sugar. How do you know which one to choose? Which is actually the healthiest? Which is right for you? Here is a breakdown of the most commonly found sugars and how they can affect you're body and how they should properly be used.

Sugar

Sugar is a natural sweetener that is extracted from sugar beets or sugarcane. Brown sugar comes from the same plants but has molasses added. One teaspoonful of sugar contains 16 calories. You should avoid eating foods with a high sugar content on an empty stomach as this will cause your blood sugar to soar then quickly crash, which will leave you feeling drained and hungry again.

Stevia

This is a no-calorie natural sweetener extracted from the stevia plant. You can use it in baking though it works best at moderate temperatures.

Agave Liquid

This natural sweetener is extracted from the agave plant. It doesn’t cause your blood sugar to soar as fast as sugar does. It tastes similar to honey.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

This is a very sweet liquid extracted from cornstarch. It is found in processed foods, condiments and baked goods. It can cause you to overeat by preventing your body form releasing hormones that indicate when you’re full.

Saccharin

Saccharin is an artificial sweetener with zero calories. It is considered safe for diabetics. It is made from combination of hydrogen, oxygen and sodium. It is 300 times sweeter than table sugar, which may lead to sugar cravings if you use it regularly.

Sucralose

This is a form of sugar that has been chemically altered. It contains no calories, making it safe for diabetics. Known also as Splenda, it is found in baked goods, cereals and soft drinks. It is around 600 times sweeter than sugar and can withstand high temperatures.

Aspartame

This is another artificial sweetener that is safe for diabetics. It also has zero calories. It is often a constituent of diet sodas and sugar-free gum. It is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It can’t be used in baking or hot drinks as it breaks down at high temperatures.

Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of sugar in all its forms. In any case you should really keep your sugar intake to a minimum to remain healthy.

Here's to your wellness,


Staying Healthy Through Flu and Cold Season

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Each year, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will get the flu, on average around 200,000 are hospitalized due to flu-related complications. The best way to protect yourself from influenza is to get the flu vaccine, but there are other measures you can take to reduce your chances of getting colds or the flu.

Strengthen your Body’s Defenses

Keeping your immune system in tip-top condition will reduce your chance of catching colds or the flu. Should you become infected, a healthy immune system will lessen the severity of your symptoms. Eating a nutritious diet is the best way to keep your immune system strong. This means eating plenty of lean protein and at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. You can give it an extra boost by taking a vitamin or probiotic supplement.

Eliminate Germs

You can significantly cut down your risk on catching colds or flu by washing your hands often, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing, coughing, if you have been close to someone who is sick, and before you prepare or eat food. Use tissues to capture sneezes and coughs then through them away after using them.

Stay Active

Exercise strengthens your body and your immune system. By just taking a brisk 20 minute walk each day, you can increase the activity of white blood cells which fight infection.

Avoid Stress

High stress levels will compromise your immune system and make you more vulnerable to colds and flu. If you are going through  a stressful period in your life, try to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Yoga, tai chi, meditation, and progressive relaxation exercises are good ways of eliminating stress. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. You should aim for seven or eight hours sleep each night.

Here's to your wellness,


Seven Ways to Beat Food Addiction

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Food addiction is a real disorder that affects more people than you may realize. People suffering from this disorder think about food constantly, have trouble stopping themselves from eating, and may often binge large quantities of food at one time. Beating a food addiction isn’t always easy but there are steps you can take to conquer your unhealthy desire for food.

Recognizing the Problem

If you are concerned about your eating habits but uncertain if you have a food addiction you can take a self-assessment test that will help you understand your relationship to food. If you feel that you do have a food addiction talk to your doctor. 

Process of Elimination

Take a look at the foods you eat and gradually eliminate items that are high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Little by little your body will stop craving these food items so often. Add healthier foods to you diet like fresh fruit and vegetables.

Portion Control

If you are used to eating a large quantity of food at one sitting, start to reduce the size of your portions. This way your body will begin to stop expecting so much food and you will be able to assess your true level of hunger.

Non-food Rewards


Treat yourself for making progress with your addiction recovery, but not with food. Instead buy yourself a new outfit or take a mini-vacation. This will help to break your association of food as a reward.

Stay Active

Adding exercise to your daily routine will not only help you get in shape it will also help to take your mind off food. Social activities can also help to replace you preoccupation with eating and increase your sense of well-being.

Mind Control

If you find it difficult to stop thinking about food, do some simple tasks to shift your focus, like washing laundry, reading a book or working in the garden. Each time you distract yourself from thoughts of food you are gaining more control over your addiction.

Seek Support

If you are struggling to beat your food addiction, it may help to join a support group. You can find information about support groups in your area online or by asking your doctor. Taking to other people with the same problem will help you feel less isolated and may strengthen your determination to overcome the disorder.

Here's to your wellness,


Why eat healthy?

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Most people have been on some kind of a diet during their life. Whether the goal was to lose a large amount for an upcoming special occasion or 5-10 pounds, one thing these diets all had in common was food deprivation. And, more significantly, these diets were also meant to be temporary.

A change to a healthy lifestyle, which includes a change in what you eat as well as adding regular exercise to your regime, can transform every aspect of your life. To ask the question “Why eat healthy?” I answer with another question “How can you not eat healthy?” Food is essential for life, but not just any food. Processed, convenience or fast food acts like a poison in our bodies, preventing even the most basic functions from taking place. For example, good food such as fiber rich vegetables provide nutrients to the digestive system, help move other foods through and keep our system regular. However, caffeine can act like a toxin to the digestive system, leeching the nutrients and can cause diarrhea in some people and constipation in others.

Eating a diet free of sugar can lead to Type II Diabetes, a condition rising at alarming rates. Sugars found in unhealthy carbohydrates and soda increase the blood glucose in the circulatory system. We do need some glucose for energy but we can get that from our healthy fruits and vegetables. The overabundance of glucose leads to insulin resistance, which causes diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that unlocks the cell’s ability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, however cells that become resistant can no longer absorb glucose, which remains in the bloodstream. Glucose levels increase without any regulation. Type II Diabetes is a very difficult disease to manage but is easily preventable with a healthy diet.

Think of eating healthy foods as your investment in low cost preventative care medicine. Numerous studies have proven that a diet high in fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables are the best ways we can prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure as well as certain types of cancer. If you have children, you will be saving another generation through your example. Healthy eating is a great way to prevent obesity or maintain weight.

A few other benefits might be especially meaningful to you. Healthy foods may cure you of tiredness and depression, especially if you have been eating too much fast food. You’ll notice you have more energy and focus. You can also look forward to looking great, with glowing skin, glossy hair and strong nails, all due to your increase in essential fatty acids.

It’s understandable that on a hectic day, it’s easy to stop for fast food with a car full of kids. As long as you try to limit those trips, and learn to get creative with slow cookers or premade, prefrozen home cooked meals, you and your family will enjoy the benefits of healthy, nutrient-rich foods.

Here's to your wellness,


7 Ways you are Aging Your Skin

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Many people come to this site in order to learn how to get healthier, but it is also important to discover ways to looks good. Many of tips here serve as reminders to stop bad habits and hopefully, get you back on track to healthy, rejuvenated skin. While studies show 50% of how you age is genetically predetermined, the other 50% is determined by lifestyle choices, which means we can make meaningful changes.         

Every dermatologist agrees that all of us are not using enough sunscreen. Whether it is sunny, cloudy, rainy or snowy, you should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both types of UV rays, UVA and UVB, and has an SPF of at least 30. It’s also a good idea to keep a tube of sunscreen in the care for you and your passengers.

Keeping your face clean is important for everyone, but especially for women over 40 who may begin to experience acne-causing hormone. A mild all-over acne fighting cleanser can help avoid breakouts, which can also be triggered by stress. Avoid spot treating a pimple as this cause the area to redden and dry out, two things that age the skin and leave permanent dark spots. Wash your face every night before bed to remove cosmetics and cleanse your pores.

The best anti-aging gift you can give yourself is eight hours of sleep. No Superfood in the world can replace the healing that occurs during this time when your body’s stress hormones drop (a decreased stress level lowers the chance of a breakout) and cells throughout your body repair and rejuvenate. Sleep deprivation interferes with this process; look in the mirror at the puffy black under eye circles to get an idea of how sleep deprivation affects our face.

One of the best ways to tell someone’s “real age” despite cosmetic surgery or botox is by looking at their hands and neck, whose delicate skin show age if you do not keep the neck and hands moisturized. Both areas consist of thin delicate skin that is easily prone to dryness, dark spots and loss of firmness. Take care of these areas by using a rich face cream, a habit you should begin early and will be rewarded by the many compliments you receive as you gracefully age.

Here's to your wellness,


Secrets to Fabulous Abs

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Looking for ways to get fabulous abs? Whether it’s time for swimsuit season or making the rounds at the holiday parties, having great abs is a top fitness priority. Unlike the past when the plan of attack was endless abdominal exercises, today’s trainers say that abs workouts should be no more than 12 minutes, three times a week in order to give the muscles time for rest and recover, necessary for progress to occur. Trainers also emphasize that abs work should include core exercises to help improve strength, flexibility and balance.

Reducing overall fat level is the most significant step in getting those fabulous abs. Few debate whether fat reduction or muscle building is more important; both must be done in concert.  Part of your workout must include intense cardio exercise such as running, biking, dancing or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Interval training is gaining in popularity because it offers variety. It can be done anywhere with a combination of your favorite types of workouts and is an efficient fat burner.  In addition to cardio, you need have a full body weight training routine, though lifting heavy weights is not necessary. When your muscle percentage increases, your body becomes a more effective calorie burner – even at rest. Cardio and weights compliment each other because cardio alone can cause muscle loss and weight training without cardio can lead to inflexibility and bulkiness.

Because you will be burning so many calories and building muscles, you need to eat nutritionally; skipping meals will only slow down your metabolism. You keep your energy and blood sugar levels constant; eat 5-6 small meals spaced out about between 3 hours, with each mini-meal consisting of fruits, vegetables and a lean protein. Breakfast should be the biggest meal and dinner should resemble a snack. Avoid eating after your last meal. If you need to add a meal, don’t deprive yourself; nonfat, unsweetened Greek yogurt with blueberries will fill you up. Because you are training so hard, it’s also essential you take all your vitamins and nutrient supplements.

Some of the key exercises for your abs are very familiar: crunches, sit-ups, core exercises and leg lifts. You can focus on two or more exercises one day and work the others the next, alternating so you give the different muscle groups in your stomach recovery time. Increase intensity by adding weights, using a lightweight medicine ball or positioning yourself on an incline bench to make a sit-up more challenging.

Before you start your Fabulous Abs program, decide on a specific goal – the amount of pounds to lose, a time frame, even a picture of an Olympic athlete whose abs you admire - so on those days when you get frustrated, want to skip your workout and eat the frozen cheesecake your mother left in the freezer, you can visualize yourself achieving that goal – and into your workout gear!

Here's to your wellness,


How hydration affects overall wellness and health

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You probably remember your high school science teacher telling you that your body is made up of 60-75% body weight and thinking, “No way!”  Are we really just walking sacks of water? I hope you answered “yes” to that question on your midterm because the majority of our physiology is water.  Keeping that high percentage of water in our bodies, or maintaining hydration, is essential.  Equally important is not allowing our bodies to become depleted of water, or become dehydrated.

The three main reasons we need to be properly hydrated are 1) to regulate body temperature, 2) to lubricate joints and 3) to transport nutrients and waste throughout the body. Water is involved in every system of your body, including maintaining homeostasis. In other words, water is in the control tower, making sure the body is running smoothly and on the lookout for problems such as a buildup of toxins or chemicals which are destructive at the cellular level. Without proper hydration, essential functions like digestion and absorption of nutrients and minerals will not function at ideal levels. Water is also the conductor of biochemical and electrochemical activity and can monitor reactions such as neurotransmitter activity to make sure it is working effectively.

Hydration is the most underrated, yet water is the most essential compound the human being needs to survive.  A person can live quite a while without food, but only approximately 72 hours without water. To maintain proper hydration, you should drink a gallon of water a day or 8 glasses of 8 oz cups of water. While that sounds like a lot, think back to what you had to drink today: 2 or 3 cups of coffee in the morning; a large soft drink for lunch, followed by a jumbo energy drink in the afternoon; another soda or a fruit flavored drink with dinner and few beers or glasses of wine in the evening. While none of those drinks in moderation will dehydrate you, by examining how much liquid you currently consume, it’s easy to see where water can be substituted. Another good recommendation is to lower your consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Both are diuretics which will increase your urine output and cause dehydration. If you feel thirsty, most likely you are already dehydrated. Your goal should be to drink water continuously throughout the day.

Most athletes, amateur and professional, know that hydration is the centerpiece to proper training. During exercise or exertion, the muscles generate heat causing us to sweat. Sweat must be replenished with a hydrating liquid. Even losing as little as 2% of your body weight through sweating can decrease blood volume enough to force the heart to work harder to circulate blood, causing cramping, dizziness, fatigue, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. For individuals exercising for fitness Water is literally involved in every system of your body, including maintaining homeostasis. In other words, water is in the control tower, making sure the body is running smoothly and on the lookout for problems such as buildup of toxins or chemicals, which are destructive at the cellular level., water is ideal for hydration. For performance and competitive athletes, sports drinks that contain electrolytes and a mix of minerals including sodium, are necessary when pushing the body to extremes, especially in high temperatures and high altitudes.

Here's to your wellness,


Weights vs. Cardio: which is the most balanced workout?

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A cardiovascular workout is any activity that raises your heart.  Regular cardiovascular workouts can change our physiology. For example, we pump oxygen with less effort, requiring fewer heartbeats. The muscles receive an increase in blood supply, which gives us more endurance, stamina and helps our body work more efficiently. As we engage in cardiovascular exercise, endorphins are released - those neurotransmitters that make us feel happy and social after our workout. Endorphins are the body’s painkillers that help regulate mood; this outflow of endorphins helps decrease stress, anxiety and depression.

Numerous studies have proven cardiovascular exercises ability to reduce the chances for several diseases when paired with weight gain, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and forms of cancer. In 1986, the New England Journal of Medicine published research that definitively linked exercise with an increased life span. One example in how exercise improves our physiology is by stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels called capillaries in muscles. In turn, the body increases oxygen delivery to the muscle, making it more efficient not only as a muscle but to remove waste products such as lactic acid. Lactic acid buildup is responsible for your muscle cramps, “charley horses” and even chronic back pain.

On the negative, many cardiovascular exercises are high impact and the cost can include stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, dehydration, heel spurs and strained Achilles heel and calves. You may also be vulnerable to knee, ankle and joint injuries. One of the most important things you can do is go to a specialty shoe store (the best seem to be for serious runners) to make sure your feet are in the right shoes.

Weight, or strength training, offers a lot as a workout. It is goal oriented and, with consistency, your hard work will not only pay off, you’ll be able to show it off very soon. Strength training also boosts your muscles’ stamina and is an excellent way to prevent osteoporosis at any age. Despite common beliefs, strength training can help you lose weight faster and more effectively than cardiovascular exercise. With a healthy diet, in a year you may at first only see a loss of 8-10 pounds when strength training compared to the 10-12 lost pounds of your cardiovascular counterpart. However, over that year, you will burn an extra 120 calories a day regardless of what you eat or do, resulting in an extra 10-pound loss.

Beginners should start out on machines to build up their strength before they move to free-weights. It’s very important is you are a beginner to get some guidance. Trainers at gyms are helpful and can give advice which machines or exercises to avoid based on past injuries. Once you move to free weights, the natural range of body movements guides the movement of the weights. Stamina and strength grow at an incredible speed. There are an unlimited variety of exercises and reaching goals is an excellent confidence builder. Weights are also excellent for injury rehab.

In conclusion … Cardio vs. Weights: Some cardio for heart health with a few days in the gym to build strength and improve my bone mass.

Here's to your wellness,


Do supplements really work?

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In short, the answer to the title question is YES, supplements absolutely work and this post will illustrate some of the most popular ways we use supplements. In my next post, I will specifically cover the relationship between supplements and an alkaline diet in detail. For this post I want to provide some background information about supplements, including defining what a supplement is and how it works in the body and how they are most commonly used.

Supplements are over the counter, non-prescription tools used to add to add or “supplement” a healthy diet. They include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, prebiotics, probiotics, athletic performance supplements and weight loss aids. In addition to being made from actual vitamins and minerals, supplements are produced from leaves, seeds, roots, berries, stems, flowers as well as ingredients such as ginseng and garlic. Other supplements come from oils, amino acids, glandular extracts, hormones and amino acids as well as other organic ingredients. Approximately ½ of all Americans take at least one type of supplement in the form of pills, powders, capsules, extracts and even items such as protein bars.

Most supplements, for example vitamins, work by building up a surplus in the body. For example, Biotin, a member of the B vitamins, assists in the maintenance of hair, skin and nails and is usually bundled with other “beauty vitamins” such as lycopene and Vitamin E, to name a few. A deficiency in Biotin can lead to scaly skin, hair loss and brittle nails and using this supplement along can help correct this deficiency However, don’t expect to see any changes after only a few days of taking your supplements; while it varies for each supplement and each person, it can take weeks to months to see or feel improvements. Newly introduced nutrients must pass through the harsh conditions of the digestive system and be absorbed into the blood where they are stored until there is a surplus. Once this surplus stored to overcapacity, the nutrients will get sent where they are needed.

While supplements are very helpful for individuals whose nutrition has been compromised, such as the elderly, chronically ill or immuno-compromised, they are also useful tools for anyone seeking an optimal level of health and fitness. They can boost the immune system, stabilize mood and improve general body functions. Certain key vitamins assist in forming bone and other body tissues as well as regulating body metabolism. Antioxidants protect cells by destroying potentially dangerous free radicals. Mineral supplementation works to improve the body’s ability in basic bone formation as well as maintaining normal function of the cardiac and digestive system.

While the multivitamin remains a popular product, the use of bundling specific nutrients in order to target certain health issues is no longer just in the health food aisle but in your doctor’s prescription as a tool to heal ailments from mental health issues to irritable bowel syndrome.  As consumers, many of us are familiar the bundled supplements used by athletes to help build muscle mass and reduce fatigue. Equally familiar are the joint health supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. For most of us, specialized supplements can give us the greatest benefits to fit our needs.

Here's to your wellness,


Setting Health Goals

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Everyone wants to be healthy, and most people have at least a vague idea of how to get that way. But if you ask ten people what “good health” means to them, you’re likely to get ten different answers: to the 20-year-old marathon runner, pounding out a hundred injury-free miles every week is what good health is all about; to the middle-aged office worker, it’s hitting that elusive target weight after 18 months of aerobics classes; to the breast cancer survivor who’s trying to maintain an optimal internal pH, it’s getting seven servings of fresh vegetables and sprouts in her diet each day.

Although their expectations may differ, these individuals have one thing in common: they all have a goal.

Let’s face it: humans are goal-oriented. Put a reasonable and interesting objective out there on the horizon somewhere, and most people will feel compelled to reach it. About thirty years ago, with this “goal-orientedness” in mind (and faced with the realization that most Americans are not as healthy as they should be), the US Department of Health and Human Services launched its Healthy People initiative. Each decade since its inception, Healthy People’s expert panel has revamped its agenda of population-based objectives – from preventing arthritis to providing universal vision care – in an effort to improve the nation’s overall health. Unfortunately, the Healthy People initiative has been a bit less effective than its founders hoped it would be. In large part, this is due to the sheer volume of the program. After all, its latest incarnation, Healthy People 2020, includes nearly 600 objectives and more than 1,300 measures – enough to dampen the enthusiasm of even the most zealous health nut.

As laudable as our government’s intentions are, it’s pretty clear that the ultimate responsibility for our wellbeing rests in our own hands. It’s equally clear that most people aren’t able or willing to address more than one or two health-related issues at a time. So, in order to set your feet firmly on the path to better health, start with a small, attainable goal and commit yourself to this objective until it is realized:

If you smoke, choose a quit date…and stick with it.

If you’re sedentary, start exercising (a walk is all it takes). Then stick with it.

If you eat too much sugar, eliminate desserts or sweetened beverages from your diet…and stick with it.

If you need to cut back on salt (as most Americans do), remove the saltshaker from your table and use other spices when you cook your meals. Then (you guessed it) stick with it.

Health goals are like any other worthwhile objective. Once they have been attained and practiced for a while, they become habit. And as soon as one health goal becomes a habit, you can tackle the next one! 


Here's to your wellness,


Using Natural Supplements to Boost your Mental Clarity

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Are you struggling to remember things that happened just a few days ago? Have you been late for appointments recently? Are you finding it difficult to concentrate at work? If this sounds familiar then you may need to boost your daily nutrition with a natural supplement that can help to improve your mental clarity.

Your brain needs a regimen of balanced nutrition every day to maintain optimal performance. When this need is not met, you will soon begin to notice that your memory, concentration and ability to cope with stress are soon impaired. There are a number of natural supplements you can use to get your brain back on track.

COQ10

Coenzyme Q10 is a very potent antioxidant that combats the damaging effects of free radicals. It plays a vital role in generating energy within the human body and can actually improve the energy levels of brain cells. This supplement may also help reduce the risk of degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Green Tea Extract

Organic compounds extracted from green tea can actually help generate new brain cells as well as improve memory and increase spatial learning. The chemical responsible for these actions is known as epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), and is a powerful antioxidant.

Curcumin

Curcumin is an active chemical extracted from the Indian spice turmeric. As well as having anti-aging, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits, curcumin can also improve brain function. This is mainly because of its antioxidant properties. Although antioxidants cannot prevent free radicals from causing damage to the brain, they can help the brain to repair itself more effectively.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba extract comes from the leaves of the world’s oldest tree. It helps to improve the circulation of blood to the brain, which in turn increases memory function and concentration. It also strengthens the body against free radical damage.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid that has the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier. This means it can easily get into the blood that is circulating through the brain, where it acts as a potent antioxidant. Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplements can give the brain an energy boost, helping you focus and improving your memory. This supplement may also help your body deal with high levels of stress.

Here's to your wellness,

Balancing Supplement Use with your Alkaline Diet

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If you are following an alkaline diet, you may be wondering why you need further supplements. This is an important question because the answer will help you understand how to obtain optimal health. Whether you are eating a 60/40 or 80/20 alkaline diet (you will recall that these numbers represents the ratio of alkaline to acid or acidifying foods), there are certain nutrients that are difficult to get from food alone. In many cases, you would have to eat extreme amounts of raw vegetables which, while possible, can be hard for your digestive system to process. Thus, some specialized supplements are recommended. Here are five that we recommend and offer as part of our program:

1. pHion Alkaline Minerals

You are probably already familiar with these minerals - Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese and Iron – which help accelerate the process of deacidification in the body tissues which help the body maintain normal functioning.

2.  pHion Green Superfood Powder and Capsules

A Green Drink contains over thirty alkalizing ingredients to help bridge any gaps in your diet. This is especially helpful for individuals who are just beginning their alkaline diet and are not used to eat large volumes of fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. Antioxidants (pHion Berry Supplement)

It is difficult to eat enough of the specific antioxidant foods consistency to get ideal effects, thus a supplement is a great tool. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are believed to cause harm at the cellular level leading to diverse health hazards such as premature aging of the skin and cancer.

4. Prebiotic Fiber (pHion Prebiotic Fiber)

This supplement is one of the two digestive enzyme supplements that is excellent for anyone with mild stomach irritation, irritation caused by acidity, irritable bowel syndrome and anyone who wants a healthy digestive system. Both prebiotic fiber and probiotics are staples in both alternative and traditional medical treatments of gastro-intestinal disorders. It is possible to create prebiotic fiber in your digestive system by eating starchy or large quantities of raw vegetables, however you must continue this regime, which is especially difficult if your stomach is already in distress. Prebiotic fiber supplements, made up of beneficial soluble and insoluble fiber, increase intestinal health by assisting in the body’s natural defenses.

5. Probiotics (pHion Probiotic Blend)

The better known of the digestive supplements, probiotics are multifunctional. Not only are they able to balance the pH of the digestive system, they also help manage the “good” and “bad” microorganisms in our stomach. Within our stomach, colonies of potentially dangerous bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, share space with helpful bacteria that assist in activities such as digesting food. Probiotics help maintain this delicate balance by acting as food for the beneficial bacteria and aggressively combat unhealthy bacteria. Specific live organisms like Lactobacillus acidophilus, such as those found in live culture yogurts, are found in probiotics and ensure the population of potentially destructive microorganisms remains inactive.

By combining these supplements with a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine, you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Here's to your wellness,

The Only Route to Total Health

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Are you feeling burned out from your fitness program? Does your diet leave you feeling sluggish and unfulfilled? Do you need to lower your stress levels? If you answered yes then you should consider a holistic health and fitness program. This type of program is not only the best way to achieve optimal health and fitness benefits, it’s the only way. Your success depends on the correct balance of fitness training, weight management, nutrition and stress management. There are a number of key factors to integrating your health and fitness, here’s a run down on what you need to consider.

The Benefits of a Personal Trainer

Having a personal trainer is more beneficial than working out alone. The number one advantage is that she will help you design an individualized program to suit your needs. Whether you are a fitness fanatic who is looking for a stimulating new workout or a newbie to exercise, this will work in your favor. A personal trainer will also keep you motivated and help you avoid burn-out. Mental and physical burn-out occurs when your exercise regime is no longer fun. Together with your trainer, you will work out a program that suits your own pace and sets realistic goals, this also ensures your physical safety so you don’t have to have weeks away from the gym with pulled muscles.

Nourishing Nutrition Counseling

The next step is to find a dietician or nutrition counselor who can help you put together a diet plan that will ensure you get all
the daily nutrients you need and to maintain a healthy weight. Without proper nutrition you will not have enough energy to make it through the day, you will have problems concentrating and you will be more susceptible to illness. Your personal counselor will assess your dietary needs in relation to your health needs and your exercise regime. She will help you to set achievable goals and to maintain them, so you can ditch the dashboard dinners and junk food and learn how to put together a healthy meal. Most nutritional counselors will also give you advice on nutritional supplements to improve your overall health.

Stress Management is A Must

If piles of things-to-do are springing up in every corner of your life and you’re feeling that there are too few hours in a day, you are suffering from stress. It’s a common problem and it can also be a killer. Stress doesn’t have to be your enemy. In moderate amounts, eustress (the beneficial kind) can boost your performance and productivity. But if you’re clenching your teeth till your face aches then you’re suffering from distress and you need some relief. Exercise and a balanced diet will help but you may also want to consider other options to enhance your lifestyle. Massage is wonderful for stress relief and it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find a qualified practitioner near you. There are different types of massage to choose from including Swedish, which helps to reduce stress and increase blood circulation to the muscles and joints, hot stone massage, which soothes tension hotspots and aromatherapy massage, which is relaxing and mood enhancing.

Weight Loss Consultants

If weight loss is a specific goal in your integrated health program then you may want to consider a weight loss consultant. She will advise you on how to stick to a healthy diet with manageable weight loss goals. If you are not in good shape and you want to a more radical weight loss and fitness program you could check in at your local boot camp. Fitness boot camps offer small group workouts with all the benefits of a personal trainer and can lower your weight and improve your energy and fitness levels in no time.

Training for a Specific Sport


If going to the gym is not your scene or you’re looking for a sport that is more focused or challenging there are plenty of classes out there with professional trainers. Whether you want a relaxing weekly yoga class to improve your flexibility and reduce stress, or you prefer the fast paced challenge of a martial art, you are sure to find something. Group classes can easily be included in your total integrated health program and will not only improve your fitness but can also help to keep you motivated.

There are many benefits to holistic health and fitness program. Within as little as two months you will begin to notice increased strength, improved endurance and performance, better flexibility, improve joint mobility, healthy weight loss, muscle tone and reduced stress. Once you’re on the road to total health you’ll never look back.

Here's to your wellness,


Beneficial Fitness Trends for Women

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Fitness trends tend to vary from year to year especially for women. Since the beginning of 2012 we have seen a number of fitness fads come and go. Here is a rundown on the more enduring beneficial health trends this year.

Functional Fitness


Functional fitness is a buzzword at the gym these days and it’s not surprising. This trend uses strength training to improve posture and balance as well as increase flexibility. The training method centers on using your body using real-life movements and activities rather than focusing on gym machines. This makes functional fitness a perfect fitness regime for more mature women.

Zumba


Zumba is a fun and effective fitness system that is currently very popular among women. It is a dance-fitness program that was developed by professional dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez over a decade ago. Zumba is a fast-paced combination of aerobic and dance elements incorporating a variety of styles including salsa, merengue, hip-hop, samba and belly dancing moves. Around 14 million people throughout the world take weekly Zumba classes in more than 140 countries.

Barre Fitness


Barre offers an invigorating workout that will tone your whole body. A one-hour Barre session comprises a combination of Pilates, ballet and strength training using a ballet barre. This regime provides a surprisingly intense workout session that strengthens and sculpts your body along to the latest music.

Spinning

Spinning is a fitness trend that has been around for a few years, but continues to grow in popularity. This form of indoor cycling is a very efficient way to get a fun, vigorous workout that will burn those calories and tone your muscles. Spinning classes take place in  a gym or fitness studio with music and video to enhance the experience. The session usually lasts for an hour, during which time you will be guided through several different workout stages including a warm-up, a fast tack, a climbing stage and a cool down.

Try one or a few of these trends and see how it works for you. Whichever trend you choose you are sure to burn some calories, tone your muscles and have great fun staying in shape.

Here's to your wellness,


What to Eat…and Why You Should Eat It

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Americans are eating themselves to death.

Nearly three-fourths of the men, women and children in the US are overweight or frankly obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will have type 2 diabetes by the year 2050.  A number of other chronic diseases – arthritis, autoimmune illnesses and cardiovascular disease, to name a few – are also on the rise.

For the first time in history, America’s current generation of young adults is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than the generation preceding it. What we’re putting in our mouths has a lot to do with that. But with all of the hype about diets (low-carb, low-fat, vegetarian, South Beach, Zone, DASH, Mediterranean, etc.), it’s difficult for the average person to formulate an eating plan that’s both healthy and satisfying. And, just about the time we think we have a bead on things, some new nutritional study comes out that refutes prior studies…or yet another book touting the latest miracle diet hits the market.

To make things worse, Western medicine seems determined to make all discussions of diet superfluous. Having concocted an array of criteria to help us estimate a person’s risk for a given disease (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, blood glucose and C-reactive protein are just a few of the parameters your doctor might check at your next annual physical), we’ve also manufactured a bagful of medications to coax these numbers toward “endpoints” that are presumed to indicate good health. This has led many people to believe that drugs can take the place of a healthy diet, even though lifestyle changes are usually more beneficial – and far less expensive – in the long run.

Unfortunately, some important issues get bypassed in this misguided effort to avoid the uncomfortable “diet issue.” For one thing, those precious endpoints we rely on so heavily are a moving target: recommendations for optimal cholesterol levels have changed significantly over the past two decades; recent studies have questioned the protective value of a high HDL level; high-sensitivity C-reactive protein may not be as predictive of vascular inflammation as was initially believed. And so on. Not surprisingly, it’s hard to convince someone to change his or her diet to comply with recommendations that even the experts are haggling over.

Another concept deserving more attention is the metabolic cost of the average American’s diet. For example, simple carbohydrates (sugars, cakes, white bread, etc.) do more than simply nudge your blood glucose upward for a few hours; they challenge the physiologic machinery that maintains your acid-base balance, they clog the enzymatic pathways that channel fuel molecules through your liver, and they generate inflammatory responses within the walls of your blood vessels. Similarly, red meats overwork cellular acid-buffering mechanisms and contribute to systemic inflammation that is the hallmark of many disease processes.

So, what to eat…and why? There’s compelling epidemiological evidence that you can reduce your overall risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease and death by adhering to a diet that leans heavily on vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits, herbs, monounsaturated oils and whole grains (in fact, every meal should be built around these foods); you should consume fish fairly often, but not at every meal (three times weekly is sufficient); if you drink alcohol, choose wine over beer or liquor; sweets, processed foods, beef and other red meats should make up a very small part of your diet, if they’re consumed at all. (If you do eat red meat, opt for organic, free-range animals, whose flesh contains more omega-3 fatty acids and fewer hormones and antibiotics.)

If every adult in the United States adopted such a diet – and if we did the same favor for our children – we would nullify some alarming trends that are otherwise destined to bankrupt our healthcare system and erode our collective quality of life.

Here's to your wellness,


Water Supply

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What exactly is in our water? Do you know what you are drinking? Is it as clean as you think?

As a professional in the health field, I am use to being introduced to the latest gizmos, supposedly to improve health. These gizmos come in all sizes and shapes, and accompanied with their own unbelievable testimonials, studies, and dare it say, “Miracles”. To set the tone of how serious this matter can be, I personally feel that most people are sincere about what they share with prospects, although most of them a selling what they think, believe, and know will close the deal. From juice to cosmetics, from MLM to personal favorites, it’s almost impossible to detect what is true and what is not. So, the more inquisitions would seem to ignite a demand for more proof, but what seems to increase is more ways to get the product sold.


Water is no exception. Water is such a perfect product to sell, just find and angle to convince enough people that the “free” water is not as healthy as the water for sale. But, focusing on the water supply, it is very easy to see how far we have strayed from the main purpose and benefit of water. Fore mostly, water is irreplaceable. There is nothing known to man that can replace water, we need it to maintain and to sustain life…all life. However today, we find our water supply in contaminated with toxins, toxins that appear impossible to avoid. We are constantly exposed to low levels of toxic contaminants in our drinking water. However, with the proper water filtration system installed in your home and workplace, you can reduce your exposure and minimize sources of environmental toxicity.

Over time, drinking and showering in water tainted by toxic chemicals, heavy metals, parasites, radioactivity, and chlorine by-products contribute to a wide range of health disorders. Even at extremely low levels these toxins wreak havoc on our immune systems and exacerbate symptoms in chemically sensitive individuals. Perchlorate is a chemical used in munitions, found in fertilizers, and now detected in drinking water in 35 states. It is known to inhibit production of thyroid hormone and may also affect brain development in children.

Then there is the issue of chlorine. It is required that all sources of water be treated with it to prevent disease-causing bacteria. The downside of chlorination is the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs), chemicals formed by the action of chlorine combining with naturally occurring organic matter in water. Scientific studies have linked THMs to increased risk of bladder and colorectal cancers and may be linked to miscarriages, and heart, lung, kidney, and liver damage.

Claiming the industry has been working to convince consumers that bottled water is more pure than tap water despite no evidence to support the claims. The takeaways from the report: Bottled water costs over 1000 times more than tap water per fluid ounce and uses more than 2000 times more energy to produce; the purity of tap water is better regulated; and in fact, most bottled water is filtered tap water, anyway.

Not surprisingly, a coalition formed by the International Bottled Water Association called Bottled Water Matters has taken issue with the report. In fact, the organization counters, “At a time when obesity, diabetes and heart disease are so prevalent, the consumption of water, whether from the bottle or the tap, is a good thing, and any actions, such as CAI’s report, that discourage people from drinking bottled water are not in the public’s interest.

After the purification process, there’s a big difference between tap water and bottled water, IBWA says, and suggestions that bottled water isn’t as well regulated as tap are patently false. Not only does it contend that the CAI overstates the oil use in producing bottled water (54 million barrels each year), it says bottle water plastic container recycling is up to 31 percent, double the rate of five years ago. In the end, it argues, bottled water is good for the nation’s economy: “In 2009, the bottled water industry was responsible for as much as $130 billion in total economic activity and generated over $12.7 billion in property, income and sales taxes in the US.”

But according to a Scientific America article, bottled water is ripping off consumers to the tune of 1900 times the cost of tap water, and bottlers aren’t revealing where their water comes from: “…18 percent of the 173 bottled waters on the U.S. market today fail to list the location of their source; a third disclose nothing about the treatment or purity of the water inside their plastic bottles.” The Natural Defense Council reports that 90 percent of the money consumers pay for bottled water actually covers everything but the water itself: bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing and other expenses, and profits.

There are a lot of issues at work in the bottle vs. tap debate. Which camp do you fall into: Do you buy the idea that the pro-tap folks are discouraging water drinking, or do you think the bottlers are going on the offensive to hide environmental misdeeds?


What is an aquifer?


An aquifer is an underground layer of rock or soil that contains water. The water is held in the spaces between the rock or soil particles. There are two kinds of aquifers: 1. a confined aquifer is a water supply which is sandwiched between two layers of soil or rock that water cannot pass through (impermeable layers), and 2. An unconfined aquifer is a water supply that has an impermeable layer below it, but not above it. A confined aquifer that is under pressure is an artesian aquifer. The pressure can often push water to the surface in a well drilled into an artesian aquifer; usually wells need a pump to bring water to the surface from the aquifer they are drilled into. We use aquifers as a source of drinking water and of water to irrigate crops or to use in industry, pumping water from the aquifer using a well. As with any container of water, pumping from the aquifer empties it--or at least decreases the amount of water it holds. Aquifers are refilled, or recharged, in areas where they are exposed on the surface of the earth. Water can re-enter the aquifer in these recharge areas.


Water is essential for life


All mineral water is not equal, just as all bottled water is not equal. Minerals - a wide variety of them - are vital to human and animal health is hardly questioned. All living things need minerals in specific amounts - some minerals are needed in higher concentration than are others. Many people who would never question the health benefits of a daily vitamin are less sure when it comes to taking minerals as a daily regimen. Many cheaper vitamins contain no or nearly no minerals, or minerals in a form that are not readily absorbed. And there are no real requirements for the minimum amount of specific minerals to be included in bottled mineral water.

All water is technically mineral water unless it is softened or distilled. Water softeners remove minerals that cause scale on plumbing pipes. Distilling removes all minerals. When water comes out of the ground it is suffused with whatever minerals are present in the rock strata it is pumped from or those above it that leach into it. Some areas of the country have a higher complement of minerals in the water than others.

Mineral water in its natural state is usually called "hard" water, and anyone with a well which pumps rusty or lime scale water has either much iron or calcium in their water. In some areas of the country, there is concern that there is a high level of natural arsenic in the water and it is usually filtered out. Minerals are what lend a specific "taste" to water and many households are drinking water of considerable mineral density without even knowing it. Hard water usually has a bad reputation among home owners because of the expensive plumbing problems caused by scale and the fact that hard water does not allow detergents to work so well. This has kept water softener businesses in business for many years.

A couple of generations ago, the majority of the country drank "hard" well water and ate vegetables grown in soil that provided a variety of minerals. These soil minerals are taken up into the plant and provide the most digestible form of minerals for human health. Unfortunately, as the home garden has disappeared, to be replaced with mega-farm fruits and vegetables grown only with the use of fertilizers on worn-out ground, fewer minerals are absorbed into the food crop. Because plants need specific minerals to even grow, most fertilizers are primarily a concentration of minerals. This fertilizer is not balanced to provide optimum human health benefits, however - only to allow the plant to grow and produce. It should be obvious, then, that additional minerals should be added to the diet.

Iron is well-known as vital to the development of a healthy blood system but is readily available in meats, eggs and many legumes. Two other minerals are commonly referred to as being vital to circulatory health. These are calcium and magnesium. Other minerals, such as potassium are also necessary to proper heart function. Calcium in particular is stressed as vital to bones and teeth and as a preventative for osteoporosis. However, the usual recommendation to assure an adequate supply of calcium is to consume lots of dairy products, which I suggest is out-dated and misinformation. Many vegetables are loaded with enough calcium and other minerals to maintain and improve our health. Besides suggesting dairy products is a big problem as many adults are lactose intolerant. Races particularly prone to "milk allergies" are African-American and Asians. As calcium is the most common mineral to be found in mineral water, it can be a vital addition to the diet of the lactose intolerant. Scientific medical studies have proven that calcium-enriched mineral water is just as bio-available as that in milk in a study group of young women.

Often doctors and nutritionists recommend the dark, leafy vegetables such as broccoli as a source of calcium. Once again, the historical concentrations of minerals in plant-based foods has been dropping since at least 1945 and there is little way to tell if a particular head of broccoli, mustard greens or Chinese vegetables contains an optimum amount of calcium. Properly labeled mineral water may well be a better choice in this instance for obtaining needed calcium, and may be of great benefit in the prevention of osteoporosis in the elderly.

There are some concerns over bottled mineral water: a 1977 study in India placed part of the blame for the spread of a cholera epidemic on polluted locally-bottled mineral water. There is less concern over the cleanliness of commercially bottled water in the more developed countries, however, and there is no evidence such water has even been responsible for a disease outbreak here. Other concerns, those regarding the formulation of plastic bottling materials are somewhat valid. A recent study found that harmful chemicals can leach from the plastic into the water but usually only if the water is stored at higher temperatures. Water kept under refrigeration is not suspect, but one never knows the conditions under which it was stored before it gets to your kitchen. This is true of any bottled water, not just mineral water.

Yes, mineral water can have valuable health benefits, but this is a qualified yes: the minerals included, the underlying base of the water (much bottled drinking water is municipal water from one location or another), the bottling method and how the water was stored make a great deal of difference. Medical science need to devote much more study to the availability of minerals in local ground waters and the needs of particular individuals for mineral supplementation to improve their health.

Make sure you stay hydrated and you know where your water is coming from.

Here's to your wellness,


Working Out and the Aging Athlete

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No matter how old we are, we must always feel young. This especially applies to health and exercise. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle at any age.

What defines the aging athlete today?  Some may be athletes in the eighties who continue to perform at performances levels. These men and woman are simply continuing to run, swim, play tennis and other high impact endurance sports, challenging themselves by competing in triathlons and marathons just as they did when then were in their twenties. Two important reasons for their longevity are maintaining a constant daily rigorous training program and a healthy history of bone and joint history, which includes rest and recovery.

However, most aging athletes – defined as lifelong participants in sports and activity as well as individuals who exercise for fitness – encounter some specific difficulties during aging. This blog will briefly describe these age specific injuries common to aging athletes, some activities you can add to workout to prevent injuries and finally some thoughts on making good exercise choices.

The number one problem in aging athletes is chronic overuse injuries, specifically in the bones, joints and muscle. Both muscle strain and tendonitis decrease muscle flexibility, which drastically increases the chance of an injury. A common example of an overuse injury is in the shoulder blade or rotators cuff injury. Overuse injuries can lead to long-term disability and requires rest.

The other important injury older athletes face from years of high impact activities like tennis and running is age-related decline of muscles and bone. Loss of bone mass, tendons and ligaments leads to a decrease in elasticity and vulnerability to painful wear and tear injuries.  Common tendon related injuries, Tennis Elbow and Golf Elbow, are extremely painful, may require cortisone shots and special immobilization braces.

For lifelong athletes, biggest disappointment may come in having to give up your favorite sport. For a person who has run all his or her life, it is an enormous loss that only other older athletes can sympathize. Your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist can help you find a new, low impact sport such as swimming, cycling, walking and others.

Two new regimes should be added to every older person’s regime. The first is weight training. First, ask the trainers at your gym to assist you in starting a new program. The first is weight training. For beginners, this can be done with light hand weights. Lifting weights is the most efficient was to fight against osteoporosis, also known as “wear and tear arthritis,” which causes joint pain and stiffness. Weight bearing exercises will help increase bone density and can aid balance.

Finally, you should become fanatic about stretching your muscles; especially the ones you feel are the tightest. Stretching is one of the best tools you have to prevent future injures by keeping your muscles loose. Your gym, physical therapist, orthopedist and Internet will have worksheets on stretching. Stretch before and after you exercise, while waiting in line, if you’ve been standing or sitting in one place for 45 minutes, watching TV and before you go to bed.

As every training athlete knows, sleep is even more essential when you are regularly exercising, so take the time for Rest and Recovery!

Here's to your wellness,


Nature’s Pharmacy

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Man made and manufactured or Nature made and natural? This is a question we are all asking now more then ever.

Long before the pharmaceutical industry patented its first drug, aboriginal healers, tribal shamans, Eclectic physicians and herbal “simplers” were relying on plant-based medicines to combat disease in their homes and communities. Nowadays, the majority of people in industrialized countries are far removed from nature and its trove of herbal remedies, but a large portion of the world still relies on native plants for food, medicines and materiel.

In some respects, people who dwell in less developed countries are healthier than the residents of richer nations. Granted, infections, injuries and malnutrition are more common in poorer countries, and these issues do shorten the lifespan of individuals living in these regions. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune illnesses are practically unheard of in many developing countries, and the age-adjusted incidence of most cancers is lower. Arguably, then, the farther people stray from the natural world and its plant-based resources, the more likely they are to suffer from chronic, debilitating illnesses.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, counseled his followers to “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Therein rests the understated secret – and the untapped power – of “nature’s pharmacy.” People who can obtain enough fresh vegetables, legumes, leafy greens, grasses, roots, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains are already fortified against illness. They are eating foodstuffs that have evolved beneath their feet, at their elbows and over their heads. Unlike refined and processed foods, these seemingly mundane items can be consumed without unhinging the metabolic machinery or delicate pH within human cells.

America is the wealthiest nation on earth, but it is far from being the healthiest. In 2007, the US ranked 26th and 27th out of 33 peer nations for life expectancy among men and women, respectively. In 2008, 107 million Americans – nearly one-half of adults age 18 and older – suffered from at least one of six reported chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and cancer), and these conditions currently account for 7 of every 10 American deaths. Such statistics suggest that widespread use of pharmaceutical agents isn’t the sole answer to the world’s health problems.  (Indeed, more than 180,000 Americans die each year as the result of adverse reactions to prescription drugs, which is chilling when you consider that many of these drugs were taken for minor problems.)

This is not to say that you should abandon your medications or shun your physician the next time you get sick. For acute illnesses and injuries, no medical system is better than America’s. But if you’re a regular patron of nature’s pharmacy, you may just find yourself using that high-tech medical system less often.  

Here's to your wellness,


Alternative Ways for Women to Maintain an Alkaline Body

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Women are busier today then ever before. Between work, family, friends, personal commitments and trying to stay in shape sometimes it's hard to keep up. If you want to enjoy a healthy life, have lots of energy and reduce the effects of the aging process, it is vital to maintain a slightly alkaline body.

An ideal alkaline body is one with a pH reading between the range of 7.3 and 7.43. Keeping within
these limits is simple once you know how to adjust your diet and your lifestyle. Alkalinity is particularly important when you are going through hormone changes, stress, and major lifestyle disruptions; all situations that can cause an imbalanced pH and lead to health issues, such as urinary tract infections, menstrual cramping and skin problems. As well as maintaining a balanced diet, there are a number of alternative ways to keep your body’s pH in check.

Barley Grass

This nutrient-packed food is comprised of seedlings from the barley plant that are harvested around 200 days after germination. Barley grass is rich in A, C, B1, B2, folic acid, and B12, calcium, iron, potassium, and chlorophyll. It also contains all nine essential amino acids. As well as having alkalizing effects, its powerful antioxidant properties enable it to protect you from digestive disorders, skin ailments and to reduce your risk of cancer. Dissolving 2 – 6 g of barley grass powder into juice or water, taken three times each day will help to balance your pH and protect your health.

Wheatgrass

Like barley grass, wheatgrass can be used to boost your health and vitality. It is rich in Vitamins A, B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 12, C, E and K and a host of minerals including, Calcium, Iodine, Selenium, Iron, Zinc, and all nine essential amino acids. Wheatgrass’s powerful antioxidant activity is due to its superoxide dismutase content (SOD). This enzyme is known for its ability to destroy free radicals and help prevent the formation of cancer cells. It also helps to promote healthy aging and reduce the effects of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. What’s more, wheatgrass has a high chlorophyll content, which helps counteract the many toxins in your body, reduces inflammation and has significant alkalizing effects.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microbacteria that inhabit your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These beneficial bugs help your body to fight invading pathogens and boost your immune system. Probiotics can help you balance your acid-alkaline balance by neutralizing toxins within your system. Try a combined probiotic supplement of B. bifidum and L. acidophilus with at least 5-10 billion viable bacteria 2 -3 times daily just before meals for the full benefits.

The Importance of Ionic Minerals

As your body performs its necessary chemical processes, waste products are produced that may become toxic for your body it they are not properly disposed of. A significant percentage of these waste products find their way into your blood stream and if not quickly metabolized, they can have negative effects on your health. Some of the key nutrients for maintaining your body’s acid-alkaline balance are the alkaline minerals, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and bicarbonate. These are vital for maintaining your body’s energy levels. You can give yourself a boost with pHion Balance pH Booster, which contains more than 72 ionic minerals.

You may not be Superwoman but you can feel like it when you combine our super products. You will feel healthier, more energetic and ready to conquer your busy day!

Here's to your wellness,

Are Alkaline Water Ionizers any good?

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Hey everyone. So...I get a lot of questions about alkaline water ionizers...like these:

•  How do they alkalize water?

•  Are they better than using pH drops (like pHion Booster)

•  Are they worth the money?

Let me try to answer them for you...

How do they alkalize the water?

Water ionizers use electrodes to "pull" positive ions...minerals...out of the water. They then convert them to negative ions. The net result is that the relatively few positive ions in the water have been reduced to none.

Water, however, is considered an unbuffered or low ion solution to begin with. Meaning that there's not a very high
concentration of positive ions to begin with. So while you can reduce the water to an alkaline state, the water that is made is STILL weakly ionized! So, while it may be alkaline, it really doesn't do much to ADD many negative ions or alkalinity to your body.

Are they better than using pHion Booster?

Not so much. First of all, water ionizers should actually be called water alkalizers. Because they do more to alkalize your water than to ionize your water. But, as I just explained, they way they alkalize your water isn't very effective. pHion pH Booster adds or DONATES a whole lot of negative ions into your water...thus making it ion dense. This can be demonstrated in our "Alkaline and Ionic Water Video".

By adding negative ions and alkaline elements into your water, you benefit big time. You'll have better conductivity of electrical charges which will result in higher energy...plus you'll be getting a lot more alkaline minerals that will help to neutralize acids. pHion pH Booster is the only product out there that can ionize (electrify) your water (like gatorade...but without sugar and salt) AND alkalize it. We're putting together a new video that will show you how much better pHion Booster water HOLDS its pH as well. It will be out soon.

Are they worth the money?

I think not!

Here's to your wellness,


Setting Goals for a Healthy Life

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It would seem that feeling better would be the ultimate goal in health, but it requires a more specific image, with a perspective of purpose and value. The bottom line is to know your value. Self knowledge is the beginning to any plan for better health, or it simply doesn’t make any sense. Why should one care for his or herself without having a worthwhile reason to attain better health in the first place? Well, personally I am thankful for so many opportunities that I get directly because of my physical condition, my positive outlook on life, and my smile that I share with each person with whom I am in the presence of…But, that’s me! Setting goals in health is a serious undertaking that requires discipline, patience, forgiveness, and endurance just to name a few important principles. Values are subjective, because every single human being views life through his own subjective point of view. Every person’s point of view is unique and therefore every person’s set of values is unique. Our values are our compass in our lives.

There are values that are positive and there are values that are negative. There is friendship as well as hate. There is charity and there is grief. There is happiness and depression. There is family, honor, individuality, work, tolerance, respect, and hundreds of other values. We are made up of our personal values. Our personal values are a combination of values ingrained in us from an early age as well as ones we have adopted ourselves over the years. Society may expect certain things from us, yet we are the ones who choose whether or not we internalize external social values and make them our own.

Each of us has many values. Not all of our values are as important to us at the same time. Write down five to ten of my top values every few months. Sometimes they change, sometimes they stay the same. By listing the values that are most important in your life at any given time, you are choosing to focus on them and work on them. Sometimes we have values that clash, not because they’re opposites of each other, but because we can’t honor both at once. For example, family and work are two of my values, and I find myself working more and having less time for my family. My family wants my attention and pulls at me. I want to feel fulfilled through work and career and that pulls at me.

The more my work value is being fulfilled, the more integrity I have with regard to that value. On the other hand, I am not living my family value with as much integrity as I would like to. When there’s a rift between how you’d like to honor a value, it leads to a loss of integrity. If you have low self-esteem, that means you need to go back to your values and reassess how you can rearrange your life to feel like you are living with integrity based on what matters to you. If you’re like me, you might wonder you can possibly live with integrity based on all your varied values. What helps me is to challenge all-or-nothing thinking. Sometimes it can seem that if you can’t do things right or all the way, it’s a non-accomplishment. Integrity is built from a pattern of small and consistent actions. Little changes can indeed build into big changes. One step at a time, a little bit each time, really does work magic. Self esteem is like a bank account. When you live your values with integrity, you are making deposits into the bank of self esteem. We can be rich or poor. We are the ones who decide how many deposits we make.
Whether the goal is promotion at work, a streamlined work process, a new customer, a published article, an exercise program, better health or weight loss, the goal must be your goal. You are unlikely to achieve your manager’s goal, your spouse’s goal or the goal you think you “ought” to work on this year. Your goals must generate excitement when you ponder their accomplishment. You must believe there is something in it for you to accomplish them. Sometimes, especially at work, if you perceive the end reward is worth the work, you will take on challenges in support of the organization’s goals. These goals might not be as close to your heart as your personal goals, but you work to achieve them for the good of the organization and your success there.

Setting Your Goals

When you set goals for better health, they can help you stay on track. But it's important to set goals that are realistic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests how to set health targets:

•  Talk to your doctor about exercise, and set up time on your calendar to work out

•  Establish long-term goals, including incremental increases to your exercise plan

•  Make your goals specific and measurable so you can gauge whether or not you're meeting them

•  Make your goals attainable and realistic

•  Make your goals relevant to living a healthier, longer life

•  Set realistic time limits for achieving your goals

•  Prepare for trouble. “This is perhaps the most underutilized yet important tactic: You’re going to experience setbacks, like working late or bad weather. Plan for these times, and know exactly how you’ll adjust and what you’ll do, so you can eliminate the opportunity for impulsive decisions”

•  Remove personal obstacles. “Identifying your health obstacles is a simple first step. I had one patient who wanted to lose weight, but was self-conscious about women looking at him. So we decided that he would run in the woods where no one could see him, It wasn’t about overcoming his anxiety. We just made it easier for him to exercise.

So, be realistic with your goals and remember, you are writing the goals to work for you, that means design your plan with you in mind to achieve, and to be successful without suffering and punishment. You hold the pen, what you write for yourself should work like you know yourself better that anyone else.

Here's to your wellness,


The Increasingly Popular Acidosis

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When you do not maintain a proper acid alkaline pH balanced body, acidic conditions such as occasional fatigue, heart burn, acid indigestion, migraine headaches, blurred vision, diabetes, insomnia, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, irritable bowels, constipation, lack of energy and even more serious conditions can occur.  Acid foods like: meat, soda, sugar and even conditions like stress can cause acid imbalances that can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, stiff and sore muscles, fatigue, weak resistance to colds and even more serious problems.

An acidic pH can occur from any number of sources or reason. Some of the more common are eating an acid forming diet, emotional stress, toxic overload, and/or immune reactions or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients.  The body has built in methods to compensate for acidic pH by using alkaline minerals within itself, like bone.  If the diet does not contain enough minerals to compensate, a build up of acids in the cells will occur.

An acidic balance will: decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease it’s ability to repair damaged cells, decrease it’s ability to detoxify heavy metals, make tumor cells thrive, and make it more susceptible to fatigue and illness. A blood pH of 6.9, which is only slightly acidic, can induce coma and death.

The reason acidosis is more common in our society is mostly due to the typical American diet, which is far too high in acid producing animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, and far too low in alkaline producing foods like fresh vegetables. Additionally, we eat acid producing processed foods like white flour and sugar and drink acid producing beverages like coffee and soft drinks. We use too many drugs, which are acid forming; and we use artificial chemical sweeteners like NutraSweet, Spoonful, Sweet ‘N Low, Equal, or Aspartame, which are poison and extremely acid forming. One of the best things we can do to correct an overly acid body is to clean up the diet and lifestyle.

To maintain health, the diet should consist of 60% alkaline forming foods and 40% acid forming foods. To restore health, the diet should consist of 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods.
Generally, alkaline forming foods include: most fruits, green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, spices, herbs and seasonings, and seeds and nuts. Generally, acid forming foods include: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, grains, and legumes.

Here's to your wellness,

The Raw Food Diet and the Alkaline Diet

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Question: Is the raw food diet the same as an alkaline diet?

Answer: A true "alkalarian diet" is 80% + raw, but "raw diets" are not always alkaline.


The raw food diet is built on one basic premise... cooking your food destroys enzymes, leaches minerals, damages vitamins, and denatures antioxidants. All of which are true.

The Alkaline Diet (acid - alkaline diet / pH diet) is built on one basic premise as well...certain foods contribute to acidification of your body, and some help to alkalize your body. It just so happens that most foods are more alkaline forming when they're in their raw state.

Alkaline diets are mostly raw, but raw diets aren't necessarily alkalizing.

For example... raw foodists eat a lot of raw fish (sushi), raw dairy (cheese), and raw meat (tartare) - all of which are acidifying. You'll also see a lot of "raw treats" in raw food books (like cookies, ice cream, etc)...which are also acidifying. While raw food diets are certainly much more healthy than our conventional cooked diets, eating just "raw" isn't going to necessarily help you get your pH up.

If you are acidic, then you need to get more alkalizing foods into your diet. We have a great report that you can download for free called The Acid Alkaline Foods & Recipes Report. It lists which foods are acidic, which ones are alkaline and it also has 45 great recipes in there. Check it out!

As you'll see, foods are more alkalizing in their raw form, but you have to be eating the right kinds if you want to get your body back into a pH balanced state.

Here's to your wellness,


Fat is pHat!

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It's very interesting how "programmed" we are. When I tell people - especially those who want to lose weight - to get more fat in their diet, they look at me like I'm an alien. Well, I am a bit strange, but...

Really. Fat is is good for you - that is IF it is the right kind of fat. Saturated animal fats are not good. Hydrogenated fats from oils are not good.

But polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are really good for you. Not only do they help to build healthy cells (every cell in your body has a fat membrane), but they also bind fat soluble toxins and take them out of your body - and most toxins are fat soluble. Getting an ample amount in your body every day will help keep your body healthy and your pH prime.

Also, fat makes a much better fuel for your body to burn than sugar does. Protein is a horrible fuel to burn...it's meant to build cells - not to be used as fuel. That's why high protein diets are toxic - they create too much acid.

Here are the 3 fats you want to get into your body every day...and by the way...you need about 50 - 70 grams a day just to hep build healthy cells:

All of these are best in raw / cold pressed form. Avoid oils that say refined or "light"...they've been tampered with.

1. Polyunsaturated - Flax seed oil. Take a tablespoon a day.

2. Monounsaturated - Olive Oil. Take a tablespoon a day.

3. Medium Chain Triglicerides - Coconut Oil. Take a tablespoon a day.

This will give you about 40 - 50 grams of cell building fats plus all of your omega 3's 6's and 9's.

Fat really can be pHat!

Here's to your wellness,


The Ultimate Cleansing & Detox Flush

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If you're feeling toxic, sick, slow, lethargic, any and / or all of the above, I want you to try something. It's a flush I do at least 2 - 3 times per week. It's as close as I can get to sticking a hose down my throat and flushing my whole body out...but without having to be so crazy.

It is not a conventional flush, but if you're brave enough to try it, I'm sure you'll come back and tell me how great you felt afterwards.

This is going to require a few things:

1. A sauna (like @ the gym)

2. 2 - 3 liters of water - pHion Booster

3. Minerals - pHion Alkaline Minerals

Some added things to increase the benefits:

4. pHion Acid Drainage

5. pHion Whole Body Detoxification

This flush will aggressively purge acids, toxins and waste out of your body through your skin...and your skin will be glowing the day after.

If you have a sauna...great. If you don't, but you belong to a health club with one...great. If you don't belong to a gym or club, call a friend who does and see if you can go as a guest. If not, call around to gyms that do have a sauna and see about a 30 day trial membership. Once you do this flush, and see the results, I KNOW you'll do it again...and again. The process is very therapeutic...very spa-like. Relaxing, rejuvenating.

If you want the ULTRA flush, go to the sauna AFTER getting an hour long hot stone massage. You'll get 2x the results. It will release a ton of toxins and acids that have been stored deep down in your tissues.

Here are the steps:

If you're going to do the massage first:


Take 5 - 8 pHion Whole Body Detoxification capsules and 5 pHion Blue capsules (or a teaspoon of powder) with at least 20 ounces of water before you depart to get your massage. This will supply your body with the elements to grab onto the toxins and acids that are released during the massage.

On your way to the sauna:

Drink as much water as you can. A liter is great. Also, bring two liters with you. If you have pHion Alkaline Minerals, take 3 - 5 capsules, and if you have pHion Acid Drainage, take 5 capsules too - this will help you sweat even more than normal. Another thing I do is bring some smooth rocks with me. They heat up in the sauna, and I massage my body with them. It gets the heat deeper into your tissues, and activates your ion pumps and enzymes to kick acids and toxins out faster. People in the sauna look at me like...dude - WHAT are you doing? I then use it as an opportunity to teach them a bit :) Ha. If you're bashful, then skip this part.

Go in and out of the sauna for an hour. Like 10 minutes in, and 5 minutes out in order to cool off. Keep your water outside of the sauna...you want to keep it nice and cool. 

Keep drinking...keep sweating. Bring some pH test strips along with you and test the first sweat that comes out...then test 30 minutes after. You'll be shocked to see it go from 5.0 to 7.0 that fast. It indicates how much acid you are releasing.

Just keep drinking water and sweating it out. While you're sitting in the sauna, do some stretching...deep breathng...self massage...bouncing up and down to stimulate lymph flow. Bend over for 30 seconds to get blood flowing to your head - do this a few times.

All of these things will help. Let me know how it works for you, and good luck!

Here's to your wellness,


pH Miracle ... or just basic science?

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I get this question often... "What do you think of The pH Miracle by Dr Young"?

Well... I have a lot of thoughts...both positive and negative. Here they are:

Positive


I first learned about the effects of pH on and in my body by Dr. Young. He's one of the more published authors on the subject. I implemented his principles and experienced a TON of great changes in my health: I lost 25 pounds in 40 days, I experienced an explosion in my energy, the skin problems I had for years cleared up, I found that I was "sharper"...clearer in my thoughts. It was "real".

Negative


Dr Young's regimen is VERY hard to maintain for most folks. No meat, no dairy, no sugar, no cooked foods, no coffee or alcohol, no condiments, no "treats"...no fun.

What I found over the course of time was that when talking about pH Balance, the key word is really BALANCE. Think of it as a simple math equation in your body:

Every acidic element ingested or created MUST be neutralized - every day. If your intake or creation of acids exceeds your buffering capacity, these un-buffered acids will get stored. When days turn into weeks and then months and years, these acids build up to the point where they become VERY problematic.

So, are acids worse than alkaline elements are? Are acids "bad"? The answer is no...absolutely NOT. They are what they are...which is a byproduct of metabolism. Is garbage bad? No...it's a byproduct of living. It's only bad when it's not properly disposed of. Right? I find that Dr Young demonizes acids. Which I also find silly.

I also don't think that there is any miracle here folks...it's actually basic chemistry. When your pH is right, the environment inside your body is right for the trillions of cells to thrive. Too much acid is bad, and too much alkalinity is bad...life hangs in the balance!

So...What is Balance?


First of all, understand that if you are really acidic right now, you should probably approach the solution in an unbalanced manner...because it's something you should begin changing right away. Also, if you've been living in an unbalanced manner for a while - in the acidic ditch - live in the alkaline ditch for a bit until you get in balance.

But after you get back in balance, you don't have to live a life that's devoid of foods you like in order to stay in balance. You don't need to do the alkavorian or alkalarian diet of tofu & veggies. You can eat some acidifying foods, but you must also eat foods or supplement your diet elements that will neutralize the acids from foods and metabolism.

This is one of the reasons I started pHion. I wanted to make really good alkalizing and ionizing products that would KEEP me in balance - even if I do have a glass of wine or a hunk of pecan pie :) and trust me... I use our products (in mass quantities) every day. I probably go through 3 boxes of pH Booster and 4 bottles of pHion Green a month. When I make a green drink, I put 3 huge teaspoons in there. Why? Because I love FEELING healthy and vibrant...but I'm also busy...so it's convenient for me.

Here's to your wellness,


Are we keeping our kids...our nation's future... alkalized and healthy?

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We know how hard it can be to get your kids to eat healthy - I have three of them :) It seems like it's always a battle to keep their diet balanced. And while I don't let them drink a lot of soda or eat much candy, they do eat a lot of processed foods - many of which are "organic" But are these packaged "organic" foods really much better? Well...yes...and no.

Packaged organic foods are more "pure"...they lack of pesticides...and they might even have a higher vitamin content in some cases. , natural and organic processed foods are certainly a better choice then the conventional choices. But ALL packaged foods lack what they possessed in their raw state. Namely minerals and enzymes.

During the manufacturing / processing / pasteurization process, foods are heated. During this process - especially during pasteurization - minerals and enzymes are destroyed or denatured. What does this mean to your child? It means that their food is harder to digest and void of the minerals that are supposed to neutralize the acids that are created from these foods during metabolism.

We find that children are often times more acidic than many adults. Why? Because of all of the packaged and processed foods they eat. Do you remember kids being as unhealthy as they are when you were growing up? We sure don't. And the stats prove that out. Kids are heavier and sicker than they have ever been. And the culprit is primarily something called ACID.

When these acids build up in the fluids and tissues of your body, your internal ENVIRONMENT is changed. Instead of being clean and alkaline, it gets acidic and toxic. And its these acid wastes that can lead to allergies, weight gain, digestive problems and low energy levels - and even kidney stones in little kids.

Here are two simple things you can do to keep your kids from getting too acidic, and help their inner environment stay clean, green and pure:

1. Give Them Alkaline, Ionic Water To Drink - pH Booster

Your child's body is made up of more than 75% water. It can be found in the blood, lymph fluid, inside cells (intracellular fluid) and in the fluid that surrounds each cell (extracellular fluid). All of these fluids should be slightly alkaline and should contain the elements to neutralize acids so they can be eliminated. Water is the most important element in the process of eliminating acids. When your child drinks alkaline, ionic water every day, it will help flush out acid wastes and keep them from building up. You can boost the pH of your ordinary water to 9.5 and infuse it with more electrolytes than Gatorade at the same time with pHion pH Booster.

2. Give Them The Natural Green Foods Their Diets Lack

Fruits and vegetables supply vital nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants and fiber...plus the alkalizing minerals that you need to kick those acids out of your body. It's important that your child get at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day - and they're more nutritious when they're raw. Each serving of pHion Green is loaded with 40 different veggies, fruits, grasses and sprouts - and a teaspoon equals a over a pound of fresh produce!

Let's keep our nation's future - our kids - clean and healthy on the INSIDE!

Here's to your wellness,


Why Test Your pH?

pHion Balance |  6 comments  | Add a Comment

As a matter of fact, this was the birth of pHion Balance. Personally, I was frustrated trying to test my urinary pH using pH Paper (litmus paper) - so after developing these for a couple of years, we introduced them in 2003. pH Stix are the most widely used pH test strips today for two simple reasons... they work the best, and they cost less :) We encourage you to make a habit of testing your pH at least weekly. pH Balance = Health!

Here's to your wellness,


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