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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,

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