woman nursing a cup of tea

Here’s Why You Should Be Drinking More Tea

Tea has been around for centuries, and has long since been linked to a wide array of different health benefits. It comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, and true tea types include:

  • Black tea – the highest caffeine content out of all the tea types, and made from fermented tea leaves. Black tea forms the basis for many other flavored teas, such as chai
  • White tea unfermented and uncured, with more anti-cancer properties than the other tea types
  • Green tea made from steamed tea leaves, the benefits of green tea have been widely studied 
  • Oolong tea packed with antioxidants
  • Pu-erh tea made from aged, fermented leaves that have been pressed into cakes
  • Herbal teamade from fruits, seeds, herbs or roots. Lower in antioxidants than other tea types, but the benefits do vary depending on the exact plants that have been used

Wondering how long to steep these teas? Here’s a helpful infographic.

tea steep times infographic

Do you drink much tea?

If not, here are a few reasons to convince you to brew an extra cup each day.

Hydration

First and foremost, tea consists primarily of water, meaning that it is incredibly hydrating.

Yes, there are plenty of myths out there surrounding the fact that tea could potentially dehydrate the body, due to its caffeine content, but these are not true…

In fact, research has found that drinking four to six cups of tea a day is just as good as drinking a litre of water.

Still concerned about the dehydrating effects of caffeine?

The same study concluded that, when consumed in a moderate amount, caffeine has no effect when it comes to keeping the body hydrated. 

Packed with Antioxidants

Tea contains a range of polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant, as well as several phytochemicals. It is these antioxidants that give tea the ability to protect against a number of different cancers, including breast, skin, lung, liver, prostate and oral.

These antioxidants are also essential in the fight against free radicals, which damage everything from the heart to the brain to the skin.

Lowers Cholesterol

For those who want to keep their cholesterol levels low, green tea is the way to go. Traditional Chinese beliefs also revere pu-erh tea for cholesterol, but there is not much scientific data available to back this up yet.

Both LDL and total serum cholesterol can be lowered by drinking tea, with experts recommending at least five cups a day if you want to experience maximum benefits. 

Wondering how this actually works?

When the tea reaches the large intestine, it is able to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol, therefore decreasing the amount of cholesterol that enters your body.

Lowers Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

The connection between tea and heart health is something that has been studied quite extensively, as the effects that tea can have on the heart are quite significant.

Studies have found that those who drink one to three cups of green tea a day experienced a 20% lowered risk of heart attack, as well as a 35% lowered risk of stroke.

Drinking four or more cups of green tea a day enhances these benefits even more.

Not sure you can handle drinking that much green tea a day?

Give matcha tea a try instead. This is made from ground green tea leaves, and contains a nutritional composition similar to that of ten cups of green tea. 

Prevents Cavities and Decreases Tooth Loss

There are so many beverages out there that are bad for your teeth, but tea does not fall into this category.

In fact, researchers in Japan discovered that when tea is consumed, it changes the pH within the mouth. This then helps to prevent cavities, by suppressing the growth of periodontal bacteria, and therefore decreases tooth loss.

Tea also has quite a high fluoride content, which is something else that helps to protect the teeth. Not only is tea usually brewed with water that contains fluoride, but the plant itself also draws fluoride up from the soil in which it is grown in.

Tea also does not erode tooth enamel, which is something that many other beverages are guilty of.

Aids in Weight Loss

Tea is a calorie-free drink, and does not need to have anything added to it, making it such a healthy beverage to drink.

In addition to this, each type of tea is able to help with weight loss in different ways:

  • Green tea – one of the most effective teas to aid with weight loss, green tea has been linked to decreases in body weight and fat. This is likely due to the fact that green tea, as well as matcha, is high in catechins, which can boost metabolism, and the rate at which the body burns fat 
  • Pu-erh tea – while research is limited when it comes to pu-erh tea, the studies that have been done show that this tea has an anti-obesity effect, and can help to suppress weight gain
  • Black tea – high in flavones, black tea has been found, by several studies, to be effective in helping with controlling weight
  • Oolong tea – speeds up metabolism and increases energy expenditure, therefore helping the body to burn more fat
  • White tea – has similar effects to green tea. White tea extracts have also been proven to be able to break down fat cells, while preventing new ones from forming, although this study has only been carried out in test tubes, and not yet on humans 

Try alternating the teas that you drink, so that you can experience the maximum benefits when it comes to weight loss. 

Helps with Sun Protection

While there is nothing that can compare to wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, it always helps when you can boost the effects of this.

Certain foods contain compounds that are able to help reduce the effects of UV exposure, and green tea is one of these foods.

In addition to drinking more green tea, you can also use green tea extracts directly on the skin, to protect against UV damage and reduce the number of sunburned cells in the skin. 

Prevents and Treats Neurological Diseases

As the body ages, brain health begins to decline, and the onset of degenerative neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, become quite common.

However, tea could potentially help to not only prevent these diseases from developing, but also when it comes to treatment…

How?

It is all down to the polyphenols found in tea, especially green tea. These help to boost brain health, while maintaining the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and learning.

Reduces Cortisol Levels

Many people turn to tea in times of stress, and science has now backed up why this is…

Studies suggest that drinking tea on a daily basis can help drop your cortisol levels back down to normal much faster after a stressful situation has occurred.

What is cortisol?

This is the hormone that your body releases in times of stress. While it is harmless, or even good for you, in small amounts, modern life means that many people now have cortisol constantly running through their bodies, leading to everything from premature aging to belly fat.

Want to control how stressed you actually get during a stressful situation?

Try drinking four cups of tea a day, as this will prevent your cortisol levels from spiking quite so much.

Protects the Eyes

Once again, it is the catechins in green tea that really help to protect the eyes, or the delicate tissues within the eyes in particular.

It has long since been understood that catechins are beneficial to eye health, but experts were unsure as to whether the catechins from tea could actually be absorbed by the eyes.

Well, they soon found out that different parts of the eye absorb different amounts of the catechins, with the retina absorbing the most.

closeup of woman's eyes

They also discovered that the antioxidant activity that the catechins are responsible for can last up to 20 hours after the green tea extract had been consumed.

However, do not get too excited just yet…

The study focused on green tea extract, rather than just green tea. This means that the effects may not be quite as effective when drinking just the tea, but will still be there. The study was also carried out on rats, meaning that human trials still need to be done in order to confirm these theories. 

An Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation within the body can lead to a number of different disorders, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Blindness
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Mental illnesses

In fact, inflammation can be linked to just about every modern ailment out there.

Fortunately, there are many natural ways in which a person can lower the inflammation within their body, and, as you may have guessed, drinking tea is one of these ways.

Thanks to certain active compounds within tea, this beverage is able to lower levels of inflammation, as well as inflammatory reactions.

An Anti-Allergen

Do you suffer from hay fever or any other type of pollen allergy?

If so, you may want to try drinking more tea…

Research carried out in Japan has discovered that EGCG, which is the polyphenol found in tea, can actually help to reduce pollen allergies.

Tea also contains quercetin, which acts as a natural histamine.

Want to boost the way in which tea is able to help with your allergies?

Try adding some local honey to your brew.

Why?

Well, this works in a similar way to allergy shots. By consuming local honey, you will therefore be consuming local pollen. Doing this over time can help you to become less sensitive to the pollen around you, therefore reducing your allergies.

Increases Endurance

Tea, especially green tea, contains catechins, which are antioxidants.

These catechins are able to increase the body’s ability to burn fat, which is why tea is so great for weight loss. But another effect of this is greater endurance, especially when it comes to muscular exercises.

Boosts the Immune System

Green tea in particular is able to boost the number of cells in your body that are responsible for maintaining the immune system.

Research in this area is still quite new, so researchers do not yet quite understand how it all works. However, once they do have a deeper understanding of the processes involved, this could mean that tea could be used to treat autoimmune problems, as well as a wide range of other diseases involving the immune system.

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is not good for you, but neither is being completely dependent on medications, especially if you can avoid it.

Studies have shown that consuming black tea can actually decrease a person’s blood pressure.

However, keep in mind that these effects are not enough to bring a person with hypertension back into a safe zone, so do not rely on tea entirely in times of urgency.

Need Some Tea Inspiration?

Thanks to its incredible versatility, tea is actually the second most widely consumed beverage in the world.

Nevertheless, many people tend to fall into a bit of a tea rut, drinking their tea in exactly the same way every day.

While there is nothing wrong with knowing how you like your tea, it is also worthwhile experimenting with other ways in which to drink it.

Why?

Because as you can see from above, different types of tea have different benefits, so it only makes sense to consume a wide variety of different teas.

Here are some tea ideas to try out:

  • Boston iced tea
  • Iced lemon tea
  • Green tea and avocado smoothie
  • Mint tea punch
  • Cucumber tea spritzer
  • Bubble tea

iced lemon tea

Tea consumption is going through quite the trend at the moment. Around half the population of the USA are tea drinkers, and this is set to continue to increase over the next few years. Even if you do not usually like the taste of tea, there are so many different types and varieties out there, making it well worth finding one that you enjoy drinking.

Can Exercise Help Improve Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia: A condition causing excessive daytime drowsiness. Aerobic exercise: an activity requiring excessive daytime energy. The two would seem to be in direct contrast to one another, but could one be the cure for the other? While it may seem vigorous exercise would be the last thing on a drowsy person’s to do list, new studies show that exercise may be a way to alleviate the symptoms of hypersomnia in depressed individuals. Could there be a science behind this theory? Let’s take a look.

Symptoms of Hypersomnia
Individuals with hypersomnia are likely to doze off regularly and repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times, including during meals, at work, or in conversation. They may show difficulty waking from a long sleep and feel disoriented upon waking. Anxiety, decreased energy, slowness of thought and speech, memory lapses, loss of appetite, and increased irritation are also among the symptoms of the condition. In severe cases, patients may lose their ability to function in social, family, and occupational settings.

Demographics
Hypersomnia is a rather uncommon disorder affecting a very small percentage of the population. Only 5% or fewer adults complain about feeling excessively sleepy during the day, and of that 5% only 5-10% are diagnosed with hypersomnia. It generally appears in a patient between the ages of 15 and 30, and tends to happen gradually, sometimes taking years to develop fully.

woman exercising indoors

The Research
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care are the group behind the findings about the positive effect of aerobic exercise upon the depressive condition. These researchers found that exercise lowered the levels of two biological markers for hypersomnia in blood samples, reducing the likelihood of excess sleepiness.

According to senior study author, Madukar Trivedi, MD, “Hypersomnia, as well as insomnia have been linked in the development, treatment, and recurrence of depression. Identifying these biomarkers, combined with new understanding of the important role of exercise in reducing hyperemia, have potential implications in the treatment of major depressive disorder.”

Previous research had found a negative loop in which sleep, depression, and inflammation interact, with detrimental results. The current findings suggest that exercise may be the key to resetting the loop. Researchers identified biomarkers based on the blood samples of 100 participants who were asked to perform two kinds of aerobic excersises. The subjects consisted of people ages 18 to 70 who all suffered from major depression disorder.

After a 12 week period,researchers had located reductions in tow biomarkers related to hypersomnia. Lead author Chad Rethorst, PhD says, “Identification of biomarkers that uniquely predict or correlate with improvement in hypersomnia and insomnia is an important step toward more effective treatment of MDD.

Do you suffer from hypersomnia or know someone who does? Let us know what you think of the new findings.

Pregnant woman stretching

Exercises That Keep Your Pregnant Body In Great Shape

There was a time when pregnancy was thought of as the ultimate “get out of exercise-and-dieting free” card. Being with child entitled you to nine months of lying on the couch with your swollen ankles propped up surrounded by gallons of ice cream and jars of pickles. Well, that was all well and good until women began realizing that the more time they spent engaging in that behavior, the less likely they were to return to anything resembling their original shape. Although pregnancy should be a time to avoid strenuous activity, it is important for most pregnant women to remain moderately active to maintain healthy vital conditions. Here are some exercises to keep your pregnant body in great shape.

Stretching Exercises

Pregnant women in fitness class

Neck Rotation
Neck rotation can be helpful in relieving neck and shoulder tension. Drop your head forward and slowly rotate it toward your right shoulder. Bring it back to the middle, and then over to the left. Repeat four times slowly in each direction.

Thigh Shift
It is important to keep legs flexible to maintain balance during pregnancy. Start the thigh shift by standing with one foot about two feet in front of the other with your toes pointed forward. Lean forward supporting your body weight with your front thigh. Change sides and repeat, doing four stretches on each side.

Shoulder Rotation
Rotating your shoulder helps to maintain range of motion. Bring your shoulders forward, rotate them up toward the ears and back down again. Reverse direction pulling shoulders back up toward the ears and back down. Do four rotations in each direction.

Ankle Rotation
Ankle rotation is a good way to minimize swelling of the foot and ankle associated with pregnancy, increasing circulation and decreasing fluid buildup. Sit with legs extended. Rotate feet in large circles using your entire ankle and foot. Rotate four times on your right and four times on your left.

Leg Shake
Leg shakes are helpful in maintaining circulation in your lower body. Sit with legs and feet extended and move legs up and down in a shaking motion.

Swim
Swimming motions can help you to remain flexible while reducing tension. Begin with your arms at your sides. Bring your right arm up, stretching your body forward while twisting slightly to the side, as if you were swimming. Repeat using your left arm, completing the entire sequence 10 times.

Kegel Exercises

Pregnant Exercises

Tailor Sit
Sit on the floor in a cross legged position. Lean forward keeping your back relaxed and straight. Assume this position throughout the day as often as possible.

Tailor Press
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Hold ankles and pull feet toward your body gently. Put your hands under your knees and inhale. Press knees against your hands while pressing hands up against your knees to create counter pressure. Hold for a five count.

If you’re pregnant, congratulations! And let us know how your exercising to keep your pregnant body beautiful and healthy.

Woman can't sleep

Don't Let Stress Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep and stress, they may just cancel each other out. How can we expect our nervous systems to shut down when we’re a bundle of nerves? We need sleep. It keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane, it keeps us focused, it keeps our weight down. By that logic, lack of sleep is going to turn us into sick, obese, insane people with attention deficits. That certainly is not going to relax you. So what do you do to keep stress from disrupting your sleep? Read on for a few ideas.

Stress and Sleep
Not only does stress prevent sleep, it decreases its quality. In fact, according to a “Stress in America” survey, 42 % of adults report a low or fair quality sleep when affected by stress. To make matters worth, stress may not only deprive you of a good night’s sleep, it may have a more lasting effect. Recent research published in the SLEEP journal reveals that individuals who suffer from chronic stress are more susceptible to insomnia, with each stressor increasing the risk of insomnia by 19 percent.

Woman clutching head

Stress and Your Brain
Not only does stress interfere with the quality of sleep and increase the risk of insomnia, it also places the nervous system in a physical state inconsistent with sleep. When you sleep, your body switches from the active sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system. When the body experiences high stress levels, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to kick in, keeping your brain in a state of hyperactivity, according to David Spiegel MD.

As if it isn’t enough that stress causes lack of sleep, it turns out lack of sleep can cause more stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly three quarters of adults credit sleep problems with a general increase of anxiety in their daily lives.

What Can You Do?
Wondering how you can prevent high stress from robbing you of precious sleep? Here are a few ideas:

Lavender
Studies show that lavender can be a very relaxing component of insomnia relief.

Woman doing yoga

Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of techniques that may be helpful in decreasing stress. Yoga poses, mediation, and progressive relaxation are all examples of methods of relaxation that may make sleep come more readily.

Stop Distracting Thoughts
Research shows that you can clear your mind of distressing thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper and literally throwing the paper away. Skeptical? Worth a try!

Deep Breaths
The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation activates the body’s natural parasympathetic system. Try taking a few deep breaths in and out before hitting the sack.

See A Specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a professional. He or she may be able to provide insights or recommend techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to address sleeplessness.

How do you prevent stress from disrupting your nightly sleep? Let us know.

Pump Up the Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber is necessary for a person’s well being. It increases the immune system in the gut, keeps the digestive lining healthy, supports the good probiotic bacteria, and absorbs excess cholesterol, fat, and toxins from our bodies. Here are some ways of increasing the fiber in your diet.

Cereal
Eating whole grain, unsweetened cereal with 4 grams of fiber is the ideal, but some studies show that just any old cereal might do the trick. According to research done by the University of California, cereal eaters eat less fat and more fiber than those who make other breakfast choices.

Two Apples A Day
Keep two doctors away? Apples are a source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that digests slowly and helps to keep you full. One study showed that just 5 grams of the stuff left people feeling satisfied for four hours.

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfait
Here’s a great breakfast idea that’s packed with fiber. Mix one small container of yogurt with 1/3 cup all-bran cereal, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 5 diced strawberries. Not only will you get a delicious breakfast, you’ll also get 12.2 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily allowance.

Carrots and Broccoli in Low -Fat Ranch
Each cup of veggies will give you five grams of fiber. Snack on this three times a week.

Oatmeal
If a bowl of the stuff is not your style, you can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs on your meatballs and meatloaf, sprinkle it on your ice cream, or bake it into cookies and muffins.

Trail mix
Mix raisins, peanuts, chocolate-covered soy nuts, and high fiber cereal for a great munchie mix. One handful makes for great high fiber between- meals snack.

whole grain crackers

Whole Grain Crackers
A little cracker can go a long way. One whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber; do the math and that translates to 5 grams in ten crackers. Next time your looking for something to spread your peanut butter on, look for some whole grain crackers instead of bread.

Kidney Beans and Chickpeas
Lisa Andrews, RD, and nutritionist at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, says that you can get an additional 5 grams of fiber by adding a quarter cup of chickpeas and kidney beans to your next salad.

Switch From White to a Brown Foods
Rice is a great example. You can also switch regular pasta to whole wheat along with your corn burritos, white bread and cous cous. Working these into your diet gradually can increase your daily fiber intake by an easy ten grams without making a radical change to your diet.

What are you doing to pump up the fiber in your diet? Let us know!

Improve The Bond With Your Children By Reading Them A Bedtime Story

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” What a lovely thought for a child to contemplate. This is a quote f5om Dr. Suess’s “Horton Hears A Who!” If you’ve ever read to your children, you do not need to be told that it is the right thing to do. Reading to your children is an act as natural as breathing. It becomes obvious with each question they ask and each phrase they memorize. However, if just the act in itself isn’t enough to convince you, here are some more scientific examples of how your relationship with your child is enriched by sharing bedtime stories.

The Research
According to the Reid Lyon, the behavior branch chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “Neural research shows that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children–which includes reading to them–kids learn a great deal more than we ever thought possible.” Reading to a child can help the child develop morals and creativity, and children are never too young to start.

The Benefits

Woman reading to child

Develops Communication
Reading a story to your baby helps them to develop their listening, memory, and language recognition skills. It is also a good way to give them the chance to hear words they might not hear otherwise, especially ones which are less likely to come up in everyday speech. Bedtime stories can also improve a child’s memory. You will find that with repetition, children will begin to remember dialogues and story lines, and will often chime in with a spoiler or two.

Creates Routine
Children like to know what’s coming next. Reading a story is an assuring way of letting your child know its time for bed. Not only does the routine element keep stress levels down, the activity itself calms them and helps them sleep better at night.

Increase Imagination
Sometimes, it is hard to believe children’s imaginations need any stimulation, but listening to a story and looking at pictures gives them ideas and helps to motivate their creativity. Reading to children encourages them to question behaviors and develop comprehension skills and increase general cognition.

mother daughter

Stronger Bond
If you’re a parent you know that nothing is better than cuddling up with your child after a long day. Adding books to that experience can strengthen the bond between you by engaging in a shared activity.

Good Habits
When you read to your children, you are instilling them with a love of books. You are their greatest inspiration and the behavior you model is the behavior they’ll imitate. Although it may be hard for busy parents to carve out time to read to their children, bedtime can be a great opportunity to pass on an invaluable gift.

What are your children’s favorite bedtime tales? Let us know what you recommend for giving children the sweetest dreams.

Causes of Adult Malnutrition

Malnutrition. It is defined as an excess or deficiency in intake of nutrients It refers to both the overweight and the underweight and, for the first time in centuries, the numbers are getting close. While feeding the hungry has always been always a priority, it is increasingly becoming the case that hunger is merely being traded for obesity, with one form of malnutrition simply being replaced by another, resulting in heart disease, cancer, chronic illness and shorter life expectancies. Ironically, at time when out nation has the most potential to eliminate the epidemic, it has boosted to record levels. Here are some of the most common causes of adult malnutrition.

Poor Diet
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is a poor diet. When an individual does not eat enough food, or if the food they do eat does not provide them with the nutrients required for good health, malnutrition may occur. Improper diet my be cause by several factors, including dysphagia, which is a difficulty swallowing due to an illness.

Sad woman

Mental Health Disorders
Poor mental health is often linked to a malnutrition. Depression may interfere with healthy eating habits and patients with eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, may also suffer from malnutrition.

Limited Mobility
Individuals who have a hard time getting around may become victims of malnutrition because of difficulty getting out to go shopping or simply finding food preparation difficult.

Digestive disorders
Despite eating properly, certain people have health conditions which prevent their bodies from absorbing the nutrients necessary for good health. Examples include individuals with ulcerative colitis of Crohn’s Disease.
Patients with Celiac disease have genetic disorders that make them gluten intolerant. This results in an increased risk of damage to the lining of their intestines. This condition also results in poor food absorption.

Woman drinking

Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a long-term disease that can result in gastritis or pancreatic damage. These conditions interfere with the body’s digestion and prevent the body from absorbing vitamins and producing hormones necessary for the regulation of metabolism. In addition, the calories supplied by the alcohol may reduce food cravings, and result in the person’s lack of desire for food. Consequently, the person’s meager diet may not supply him or her with essential nutrients.

Food Shortages
Poor and developing nations often suffer food shortages due to lack of agricultural technology, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and advanced methods of irrigation.

Food Prices and Distribution
Shockingly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 80% of malnourished children live in nations that actually produce a surplus of food. In these cases, economist blame high food prices and problems with distribution of food to the needy.

Lack of Breastfeeding
Certain experts believe that much of the world’s malnutrition in children and infants is due to lack of breastfeeding. Some women are of the belief that bottle feeding is better, while other mothers, usually in the developing countries, abandon breastfeeding because their babies do not latch on properly, or the mothers find breastfeeding to be painful and uncomfortable.

Do you have any ideas for combatting malnutrition? Let us know how you believe this worldwide epidemic can be addressed. We’d love to start the conversation.

Healthy lifestyle

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

Woman elliptical

Kickstart Your Heart With These Cardio Staples

There is such a variety of exercise tapes available today, it is sometimes difficult to determine which ones are meant to be taken seriously. Since Joanna Rohrback created a sensation with her much spoofed “Prancercise” video, the health conscious public has been confused by an assortment of bizarre aerobic tapes ranging from the “Dixie Carter Country Hiphop Workout” to the “Japanese Poodle Workout” to the “Exorcise” video. With all this insanity, it is sometimes hard to define what is meant by cardiovascular exercise.

Cardiovascular exercises are so called because they improve the function of the heart, build muscle mass, and enhance consumption and transportation of oxygen. They also strengthen bones, increase joint support and improve cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a weekly exercise routine consisting of 2 and a half hours of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of more vigorous cardio per week. Here are some tried and true examples of cardiovascular staples to help kickstart your health.

In the Gym
The elliptical trainer, which features footpads that require a pedaling motion to operate. is one of the most comprehensive pieces of gym equipment for cardiovascular activity. This, along with the stairclimber and the treadmill, provide their users with opportunities to build endurance and lung capacity while toning the lower body and burning fat.
If instructed gym classes are more your speed, spinning, exercise dancing, and water aerobics are all challenging options. Looking for something more traditional? Step aerobics are an age old way to work the lower body, while jumping rope provides for full body workout, sharpening coordination and boosting lateral movement.

Couple running

Walking and Running
You can burn 180 calories by speed walking at moderate intensity for 30 minutes, while running can double that number. Although body weight can affect the number of calories burned while running, speed has little to do with cardiovascular benefits. Therefore, you can enjoy perks of lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart attack, and increased lung capacity while still working at a relatively low intensity. However, more vigorous activity has the added benefits of greater calorie melts and metabolism boosts which can last for days after working out.

Sports
If you enjoy competitive sports, racquetball is considered the most heart healthy sport and can burn more than 400 calories in the course of a vigorous 30 minute game. Rowing, skiing and climbing follow hot on its heels, turning in similar figures. Swimming weighs in at a whopping 500 calorie burn in thirty minutes and is known to stimulate circulation, increase endurance and flexibility, and provide stress relief, while strengthening the heart.

Indoor and Outdoor Activities
Biking can be done outdoors or from the comfort of your home and can burn up to 500 calories in a period of 30 minutes. A hilly terrain can increase resistance outdoors for an even greater calorie burn and an increased test of stamina, while stationary bikes include manual intensity adjustments. Equipment free cardio options include unweighted squad, jumping jacks, lunges and squat jumps.

How do you like to kickstart your workout? Let us know how you get your 2 1/2 hours in. We love to hear it!

Woman headache

Triggers For Cool Weather Pain

You may have heard the expression, “kill the messenger,” and indeed that may have been what you wanted to do when, on Groundhog’s Day, this year, the prognosticating rodent came out of his whole and saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. As American columnist and author, Bill Vaughn once said, “The groundhog is like most other prophets, it delivers its prediction and then disappears.”

Although many of us have our own reasons to wish for the early end of winter weather, it is especially understandable for those of us who suffer from cold weather pain. However, if you are included in this number, there may be some precautions you can take before you go on a bloodthirsty hunt for old Punxsutawney Phil. Here are some common triggers of cool weather discomfort you may be able to avoid.

Winter Air
The two main sources for skin hydration are healthy fats and moisture from the air. However, when the air gets dry, there is less moisture for the lips and skin to absorb, which can lead to chapping and flaking. Lip licking can exacerbate the problem and lead to cold sores and dehydrated skin can crack and even bleed, leading to possible infection.

Barbara Doty, MD and family physician says, “Develop the habit of caring for your skin on a daily basis. Have easy access to lip balm, use a good moisturizer, and avoid excessive use of soap.”

Woman shovelling snow

Shoveling Snow
According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, about 11,500 people are treated for snow shoveling injuries yearly, and the wetter the snow, the heavier it is. Sandra Fryhofer, MD explains, “Shoveling puts strain on your heart. If you have heart problem get someone else to do it.”

However, even if your heart is in good condition, you need to take precautions. Fryhofer suggests waterproof shoes and an ergonomically designed shovel, which is lightweight and has a curved shaft to help keep your back straight when you use it, Dr. Doty advises that you, “Pick up smaller portions of snow for less weight per shovel.” It is also best to use your legs rather than your back to lift and to shovel in both directions, rather than in one, to avoid strain.

Dark Days
Headaches are signs of seasonal affective disorders. According to Laura Knobel, MD, changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines and less sunlight can cause a vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to an increase of headaches in the winter and fall.

“If headaches are due to lack of sun,” says Dr. Knobel, “natural spectrum lights can make a big difference for some people.” She also suggests using garden grow lights to grow indoor plants as a relief from winter blues, adding, “Seeing the seedlings grow can give you hope that spring is on its way.”

Woman coughing

Dehydration
Dehydration is a problem in winter as well as summer. Not drinking enough water can make you achy because it prevents the body from processing waste products efficiently.

Try to maintain a healthy water intake by sticking to plain water rather than warm caffeinated drinks, like black and green tea or water. Dr, Doty warns against caffeinated beverages, “which are diuretics,” and leave bodies at a hydration deficit.

Colds
Of course one of the biggest causes of winter pain is the common cold, or flu, and the dry air can make it worse. Doty says, “In winter, nasal passages get plugged more easily, and with a lot more mucus, it can get irritated down in the back of your throat, which means you can’t clear it as well.” To avoid sickness, get your annual flu shot if you haven’t already and try natural remedies and get plenty of rest to soothe symptoms.

Are you thinking of throwing rocks at the groundhog? If so, we want to hear from you. What are your most common cold weather pain triggers and how do you avoid them? Let us know!

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