Woman drinking water

Healthy Lifestyles Reduce Cancer Risks

If you can manage to avoid getting cancer in your lifetime, you’ll be dodging a bullet. Approximately 39.6 % of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Odds of surviving 5 years or more are pretty good, with 66.9% of people diagnosed with cancer surviving at least 5 years. So your odds are pretty good, and they only keep getting better as medicine advances, but wouldn’t you like to do what you can to avoid having to deal with the insidious disease at all? Let’s talk about some lifestyle changes you can make to do just that.

Don’t Use Tobacco of Any Kind
And if you currently use it, stop. Using tobacco products makes you age faster, makes your skin look awful, makes you generally unhealthy, and increases your risk of cancer, especially (but not only) lung cancer. If you’re currently using tobacco and have had a hard time quitting successfully or are scared to try, reach out to others going through the same thing. You CAN do it, and you will feel much better once you do. Also consider trying a vapor e-cigarette, which has cartridges with a variety of concentrations of nicotine, so you can start with the normal cartridges and gradually switch to the ones with less and less until you’re totally nicotine-free. Vapor is also much easier on your lungs than smoke.

Limit Processed Foods
Consumption of highly processed foods may be linked with cancer risk odds. Processed meats are especially bad in this regard. Try to stick to lean proteins, dark leafy greens, and dark, colorful fruits. Whole grains and beans are also great choices. Try to maintain a healthy weight by avoiding over-consumption of fried foods, and high-sugar foods, especially processed sugars. When you do use sugars, try raw sugars, or better yet, replace sugars in your diet with sweeteners like stevia as much as possible. Some artificial sweeteners may or may not be linked to higher cancer rates, but stevia is not an artificial sweetener, and seems to be completely safe.

Moderate Alcohol
Drinking is fine in moderation, but don’t overdo it. Breast, colon, lung, kidney, and especially liver cancer risk all increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been regularly drinking.

Be Active
Physical activity might actually lower the risk of breast and colon cancer, and it’s just a good idea anyway to stay healthy and feel better in your day to day life. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise. Your heart will appreciate it too!

Limit Sun Exposure
And when you do go out in the sun, use sunscreen! Make sure it’s broad-spectrum and that it’s SPF 30 or higher. If possible, don’t go in the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM, even with sunscreen. And be sure to apply the sunscreen even on overcast days! UV rays can penetrate clouds and are still a danger in winter, too.

And don’t tan. Not with natural sunlight, and not with tanning beds. Just don’t do it. It’s dangerous and damaging and impossible to do safely. Instead, if you really want the tanned look, use a self-tanning product like a tanning lotion or spray tan.

Woman gardening

Get a Hobby

A lot of people associate hobbies with people who have way too much free time, but it turns out, whether you think you have the spare time or not, having a hobby you enjoy may be worth making time for. This is true for everyone, regardless of gender, but in terms of men’s health, this is perhaps especially worth noting, because it’s an area that may often be lacking or not being nurtured in a healthy way. What exactly do we mean by this? Let’s take a look.

A Good Hobby Promotes Healthier Socializing
Toxic masculinity is, unfortunately, ubiquitous in our society. Men are told from a very young age that they need to be territorial, aggressive, domineering, and unfeeling. This can make it incredibly hard for men to form any healthy relationships with friends, family, their partner, etc, etc. Picking up a hobby could give you a reason to get out of the house for something other than work, and you could find yourself in a good environment to make lasting friendships with people who have similar interests. Ever thought painting could be fun, but you figured you’d be no good at it? Or that it wasn’t very “masculine?” Well, screw that, we all know dividing things by gender is generally entirely arbitrary anyway, go sign up for a class at your local community center! Or maybe you like working with your hands in the soil and the satisfaction of watching a little sprout grow big with love and care. Who says men can’t be gardeners? Whatever it is that interests you, make time for it. And if you don’t know what the hell you want to do, just try some new things! Take classes, talk to people about it, dabble until you find something you love to do!

Hobbies Are Good for You
And we mean that in more ways than one. They might actually be beneficial to your physical health! Studies have found evidence suggesting that engaging in enjoyable non-work activities is associated with lower blood pressure, cortisol, and healthier body fat and weight. Doing something you love in your down time relieves stress and gives you a boost that helps prevent or manage depression, anxiety, bad moods…the list goes on.

It’s Important that Your Hobby not Be Work
We’ve said a couple times now that a good hobby outside of your job has a lot of benefits. Thing is, it doesn’t even matter if you absolutely love your job; ultimately, it’s still work, and work feels different from a hobby. If you love your work, great! Even better! But it’s still what you do for a living, and all the positive effects we’ve listed apply more to enjoyable things you do outside your job, because no matter how fun your work might be, it still just feels different, on a fundamental level, than a hobby.

Some people have the experience of their hobby becoming their work. Professional artists or bloggers that started out as hobbyists, etc, etc. This can be a really neat experience, and allows one to do what they love for a living, but if you’re ever lucky enough for this to happen to you, you should really consider finding a new hobby to replace the one that became your job. You’ll probably notice a reduction in stress levels pretty quickly.

Man doing yoga

Yoga's Benefit for Men

Many people find yoga to be relaxing, energizing, and to help contribute to a sense of calm, contentedness, and well-being. It also helps one become more flexible and breathe better and more fully, and conceivably could count as a form of light exercise. It doesn’t replace a good 20-30 minutes of cardio daily, but every little bit counts.

Of course, the vast majority of yoga practitioners are female, so it could be intimidating for men to start a yoga habit. But don’t let that stop you: like most arbitrarily gendered things, thinking yoga is just for women is silly. Let’s talk about a few benefits of yoga, benefits anyone can attain from yoga.

Stress Relief
Many forms of exercise relieve stress in one way or another, but while vigorous or aggressive exercise routines can make one angry or just really tired, yoga uses techniques to make you overall calmer. For this reason, yoga makes a great way to start one’s day, because it promotes a calm but aware state of mind that can help get you through a busy work day with lots of quick thinking and tough choices, as well as help you stay on task better.

Strength
Did you think yoga was only about stretching and getting flexible? You’d be wrong. A lot of yoga exercises involve using your own body’s weight to build muscle. Your yoga routine may have a lot of stretching involved, but it can also include drawn-out pushups, leg lifts, squats, and more.

Flexibility
One of the more obvious benefits of yoga, you’ll find with just a few classes you might already feel more limber and springy. If you’re into any sports, know this: increased flexibility is an advantage in just about any sport. Those funny-feeling spine twists can especially help you relieve major tension and improve your tennis and golf abilities.

Injury Prevention
Yoga also has the benefit of reinforcing mindfulness of one’s own body and its needs and limits, which is a huge boon in other workouts you do or sports you play. The ability to listen to your body and be aware of its state at any given moment, and just how far its limits are being pushed, and most importantly, when you should stop, will be a huge boon in keeping yourself from getting hurt. Because seriously, who wants to nurse a broken bone, sprained ankle, etc, etc, when it could simply be avoided?

Goal Setting
Yoga classes also place a significant emphasis on goal setting. You are likely to be asked to set a goal for any given individual session, and to set goals for the future in other areas of your life. They can be as small or large as you like, but keep them attainable and realistic. Further, be sure and reward yourself whenever you meet or exceed a goal; yoga can, surprisingly enough, help with all of these, as the mindset it fosters is incredibly conducive to calm, clear thinking, which is required to set good goals and then take steps to reach them.

Woman eating healthy food

Eating Healthy on 2,500 Calories

Two thousand and five-hundred calories every day might seem like a lot of food (or it might not, it really depends on your mental concepts of such things), but for a respectable portion of the population, it’s actually an appropriate target. Specifically, sedentary men ages 19 to 30, moderately active men ages 31 to 50, active men over 50, and very active women of various ages all may need approximately 2,500 calories in their diet.

But of course, it’s not as simple as calorie-counting, regardless of the target number. Not all calories are created equal, and to eat healthily, you need to balance things properly. Let’s talk about how to do that.

Lean Proteins
Protein is essential for everyone, and lean protein is the best you can get in this regard. On 2,500 calories a day, you need approximately 6.5 ounces of protein a day. An ounce of protein can be found in an ounce of seafood, poultry, lean red meats, an egg, ¼ cup of tofu, ½ an ounce of seeds and/or nuts, and a tablespoon of peanut butter, roughly speaking.

Woman having food rich in fiber.

Lots of Fiber
Also incredibly important is fiber. Following a 2,500 calorie plan, you should get 3 ¼ cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruits a day. Variety is key here, and generally, dark, leafy greens and vibrant red and purple fruits are best. For conversion purposes, half a cup of dried fruit is equal to one cup fresh fruit or fruit juice (no added sugar!), and 2 cups of leafy greens roughly equals one cup of other vegetables

Opt for Healthy Fats
For every source of trans fat and saturated fat, there’s plenty of alternatives. That said, healthy fats are still fats, and shouldn’t be over-consumed regardless. You want about 7 teaspoons of oil a day on a 2,500 plan; any extra is going to interfere with your heart health. Olive oils, coconut oil (in moderation; it is still a saturated fat), and avocado oil are just a few examples of healthier fats.

You Don’t Actually Need Dairy
It’s a common misconception that dairy is a basic food group and essential for good nutrition. This is actually quite false, and humans are not really designed to consume any kind of milk once they stop breastfeeding. That said, we’ve evolved to tolerate dairy, and in moderation, it’s not necessarily harmful (unless you’re lactose-intolerant, of course), so there’s nothing wrong with having a little as a treat now and then, but don’t get tricked into thinking it’s essential.

Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk are a few examples of tasty non-dairy milk alternatives, and can help you avoid the saturated fats of many dairy products or if you can’t tolerate lactose. Skim milk also features less lactose, which might be okay if your lactose intolerance is mild or moderate (as opposed to severe), and it also, of course, contains less fat.

Woman buying cosmetics from a store

Changing Up your Skincare Products

You know how you can develop a tolerance to things like medications (painkillers are a common example), alcohol, and other substances? It turns out, you might actually be able to develop a tolerance to certain skin care products too. What we mean by this is that there is evidence suggesting that if you use certain skin care products for long enough (around a year) they can stop being as effective, in the same way that if you take a certain painkiller a lot for the same kind of pain, it will get less effective at blocking it out for you after awhile, or how the more you drink alcohol, the more you can drink at a time without the adverse effects being as effective (do note, this is only provided as an example, and we do not encourage irresponsible drinking by any means; try to keep it to one glass of antioxidant-rich red wine a night).

How does this happen? And what can be done about it? Let’s talk about that.

The Process
The process wherein your skin can develop a tolerance to certain ingredients involves the particular enzymes that the ingredient activates. You can’t develop a tolerance to all skin care ingredients, because this applies specifically to ones that are active in a certain way. Some skin care ingredients, like retinol, vitamin C, and others, cause enzymes to be released in the skin cells and attach themselves to a specific receptor, which then triggers the desired effect of the product. However, your cells only have so many receptors, and if you repeatedly flood them with enzymes, eventually they will all be taken up and bonded to an enzyme and unable to accept more for awhile, lessening the effect the product can have on your skin.

How to Fix It
The solution here is to vary the skin care products you use; to change them up on a regular basis. It’s recommended to use the same set of products no longer than 6 to 8 months, and then switch to another set of products which aims at producing similar effects, but with different formulations of ingredients, and/or with ingredients available in different forms (recall, for example, that all vitamins have several different “forms” which all act as the vitamin, but trigger slightly different reactions in cells). Conveniently enough, this span of time lines up relatively well with the change of seasons from summer to fall and then winter to spring. As such, try taking advantage of this convenient timing and do what’s already recommended anyway: a seasonal switch. Use slightly heavier, more moisturizing products in autumn and winter than you do in spring and summer, and kill two birds with one stone.

Overlay of scientific diagrams on woman's skin

Synthetic Skin for Daily Wear

Do you ever feel like you just want to trade in your aging skin for a fresh, youthful coat? Well, with the direction science is headed in, you might just be able to do that…well, kind of. On a small scale, at least. We’re talking small patches of synthetic skin you can get for those rough patches on your elbows, or maybe for the acne scars on your cheek, or…you get the idea. Let’s talk about this revolutionary new emerging technology, how it works, and how it can help you.

It’s Harder Than You Might Think
Right about now, you might be thinking “artificial skin can’t be that difficult, why did it take this long?” Well, the truth is that it’s not nearly that simple, and designing synthetic skin that actually works is, in fact, quite complicated. It needs to be able to act as a protective barrier while still being breathable, the synthetic skin can’t be toxic itself, and it has to have the same amazing strength, elasticity, flexibility, etc as normal skin. The scientists who created this synthetic skin took all this into consideration to create something that looks, feels, and acts like normal skin. They’ve already conducted human trials, too, and to a stellar success. Not only did participants see marked improvement in skin appearance, hydration, and function, but the underlying skin beneath the synthetic skin remained healthy and suffered no adverse effects, even through activities such as running and swimming.

It Has a Lot of Potential Uses
It’s not hard to think of at least one way artificial skin could be used; covering up areas where our natural skin is starting to lose its luster. But it goes way beyond just that. There’s a host of aesthetic applications, definitely, but consider the medical ones too; the highly adaptable artificial skin design these scientists came up with has the potential to help victims of burns and other surface injuries, and the chemistry of the skin is very malleable and can be adjusted according to specific need, further increasing its potential uses.

This synthetic skin hasn’t hit the market yet for medical or aesthetic uses, but it certainly is something to look forward to. Of course, don’t take this upcoming technology as an excuse to slack on your skincare; there’s only so much it can do! A proper skincare routine, with moisturizer, sunscreen, cleanser, etc, etc, is not going to become obsolete anytime soon, although they may have a powerful new emerging technology joining them quite soon.

Baked eggplant with tomato and garlic

Clean Eating Tips

One interesting approach to nutrition that’s rising in popularity recently is called simply “clean eating.” And certainly, if it could help keep you healthy both before and after your wedding day, it’s worth a try, right? Well, we’re here to examine and evaluate this trend to give you the information you need to make healthy choices, and to decide if clean eating is worth pursuing.

But What Is it, Exactly?
Of course, before we can go any further, we need to define what clean eating actually is. In essence, the basic tenets of clean eating are eating five to six times a day (three meals and two to three small snacks), choose organic, clean foods whenever possible, and drink at least two liters of water a day. There are other details, like including lean protein, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate in every meal, but the three pillars of eating five-six times a day, choosing organic food, and drinking two liters of water each day are the basis of this idea. This sounds great in theory, but let’s examine it piece by piece to be sure.

Woman drinking water

Two Liters of Water
This is one realm in which clean eating is a little closer to being on-point, although of course, the truth is more complicated. How much water you should drink actually depends on your weight, location, and activity level. The rule of thumb is that you need between half an ounce and a whole ounce of water per pound you weight, every day. For example, a 150-pound person should drink between 75-150 ounces of water per day. The hotter and more arid your climate, the closer to the upper end of the range you’ll be. Likewise, the more exercise you get, the closer to the top you’ll be.

Eating Five to Six Times a Day
The idea here is that eating more often and in smaller portions is both better for weight loss and healthier in general because you’re spreading out calorie intake throughout the day and keeping your metabolism running smoothly. Sadly, the science does not agree here. Studies actually indicate there is no significant impact whatsoever to the frequency of eating, and that, in fact, eating more often makes you want to eat more.

Avocado sandwich

Organic Foods
Similarly, the need for the foods to be organic (and, by extension, GMO-free) in clean eating is not borne out by actual scientific knowledge. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are largely a positive development, and allow crops to be fortified with necessary nutrients, more reliably protected from diseases, and be produced more cheaply. On the other hand, organic growing is volatile and has a huge chance of failure or of infested crops, because of the restrictions on pesticide use that organic growing entails. In short, while there are some legitimate concerns with the agricultural industry, organic food is not the answer and generally has no benefit to your health.

All that said, this one is pretty close to the mark. The majority of the other tenets of clean eating are highly questionable, though. Just eat a healthy, varied diet, with proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates, fruits, and lots of leafy greens and other vegetables, and you should be fine.

Woman measuring waist with tape measure

Pre-Wedding Weight Loss Tips

It’s easy to get caught up in all the glamor, perfectionism, and stress tied to a wedding ceremony, and it’s easy to fixate on how many eyes will be on you, how there will be no way to prevent them from seeing your “bad” side, etc, etc, etc.

Try not to focus on all that too much. There are better reasons to want to revamp your diet and exercise, like staying healthy and starting positive life habits now that can last the rest of your life, and make your marriage happier and healthier too.

So let’s talk about pre-wedding health ideas, including but not limited to weight loss.

Reconsider Your Diet
No, we don’t mean that kind of diet, but rather the literal meaning of the word “diet,” which is quite simply, what you eat. Strict diets are very rarely a good idea. Instead, just try to eat plenty of dark, leafy greens and some fruits, and make sure you get complex carbohydrates, not just simple ones. Lean protein is also desirable in moderation, and limit your high-fat, high-sodium, high-carb snacks. Don’t cut them out entirely, just indulge sparingly, maybe a small portion a couple times a day at most. And that bag of potato chips? Don’t take the whole bag with you to the bedroom to snack, pour a small amount into a bowl to regulate yourself.

Further, keep water handy all the time and sip whenever thirsty. Monitoring how much you drink isn’t actually necessary as long as you keep it close by at all times, meaning when you feel the need to take a sip, you can. That makes a huge difference in preventing dehydration.

Cardio

Start a Cardio Routine
It’s recommended you get 20 or more minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day, or at least several times a week. We recommend aiming for 20 minutes a day for three days a week, with the eventual goal of reaching a half-hour of exercise five times a week (though it is worthy of note, cardio, unlike weight training, is safe to do seven days a week if you want to). Every week, add a day, or five minutes, or both, until you hit the target of 30 minutes five days a week.

The possibilities here are nearly endless. Jog around the block, use a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or other cardio machine, go for a bike ride, swim laps, take up a martial art, there’s so many ways to go about it. Pick the one that suits you best and stick with it!

Remember to Love Yourself
Last, but most definitely not least, don’t forget to love yourself. This is more important than anything else, to be perfectly honest, because if you love yourself and cultivate your inner beauty, it can take a huge load of stress away from the need for everything to be “perfect.” You WILL look great in that dress no matter your shape, size, or weight, and anyone who disagrees can shove it, so focus less on meeting a socially imposed standard of beauty and perfection, and focus instead on loving yourself. With your wedding day coming up, it’s important to realize that loving yourself is just as important as loving others, and while you and your spouse may love each other to death, loving yourself is equally necessary.

Woman swimming

Public Pool Safety

Summer is here! The temperature is going up, and we are heading to the pool! Trips to the public pool should be fun, so follow these tips this summer to ensure that nothing will ruin your weekend!

Be Aware of Health Standards
We hate to say it, but some pools have been fined or closed for violating health and safety standards. When choosing a public pool to belong to for the summer, ask when the facility was last inspected. Management is usually happy to show you that they are in compliance with all safety standards, and you will get peace of mind!

Stay Hydrated!
Staying hydrated is one of the most important summer tips. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be a big problem during the summer months, and extended sun exposure can cause you serious harm if you aren’t drinking enough water.

Woman applying sunscreen

Slather on the Sunscreen
This is a no brainer. A long day at the pool can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not properly protecting your skin. It is a good idea to put on your sunscreen before you leave the house, at least 15 minutes before you’ll be out in the sun. Also, give your sunscreen plenty of time to sink in, and make sure that you aren’t rubbing off your SPF with your clothing. It’s easy to lose track of time during a day in the sun, but it is important to reapply your sunscreen every few hours- even more often when you’re in the water! The instructions on the bottle will let you know exactly how often to reapply any particular brand. Keep your skin protected at the pool, and don’t let an angry sunburn follow you to work on Monday!

Know Your Surroundings
This is especially important if you have kids. Anytime you are around water, there is danger, regardless of how well you or your family members know how to swim. Public pools can be crowded, and though lifeguards are well trained, it is possible that they will miss a warning sign if there are a lot of people to watch. Make sure you know where you kids are at all times. If you, or anyone in your family, are not  strong swimmers, take a special note of what areas of the pool are safe to be in, and what areas to avoid (deep water, steep inclines, drains, etc). Also, make sure that these areas are properly roped off to decrease the chances of mistakenly entering an unsafe area.

 

Don’t Go Overboard
No, we don’t mean falling into the water. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re having fun in the sun, but it is important to not go overboard, and limit your sun exposure. Too much sun during peak hours can cause serious burns, fatigue, dizziness, heat rash, and several other not so fun complications. Play it safe, and take breaks from the sun every so often so you can enjoy the pool all summer long!

Woman having a neck ache

Fighting Muscle Fatigue     

Summer is a great time to change up (or start) your workout routine. The weather is warmer and the days are longer, and people are getting out of the gym (and off the couch) and flocking to bike paths, fields, and tennis courts to get in their 60 active minutes. We all know how important it is to stay active. Working out a few times a week can help fight muscle fatigue, lose weight, and give you more energy. It’s important to fight lactic acid accumulation and avoid fatiguing your muscles so you can finish strong and stay fit. There are tons of supplements out there that are marketed for stopping muscle fatigue and building muscle faster, but there are a few simple and inexpensive ways you can defend your guns.

Stay Hydrated
This may seem too simple, but getting enough water is essentially for your muscles to function properly. In fact, muscle fatigue and cramping are actually a side effect of dehydration. Always be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. Making a habit of drinking water throughout the day is going to prepare your body for you work out. Increasing your H2O intake can also give you more energy, help you skin, and help you stay focused!

Get Your Protein
Eating a protein rich meal after a workout is going to help you build muscle. Your body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate after your workout ends, so it is important that you are ingesting enough calories at that point, otherwise you can actually lose muscle. Building strong muscles is going to help stop future muscle fatigue. Although protein is most commonly connected with eating meat, it is also high in fat. You can also get your protein boost with beans, nuts, and protein powders.

Add Resveratrol to Your Diet
Resveratrol is a substance found naturally in plants that can prevent muscle fatigue. You may have heard about exciting new studies that have added fighting muscle fatigue to resveratrol’s list of benefits. Muscle fatigue is most often caused by leading a sedentary lifestyle, and resveratrol can actually give you the benefits of exercise, even when eating a diet high in sugar and fat. Scientists have studied animals, and found out that those given resveratrol were able to counteract the muscle fatigue that can come with eating poorly and not exercising. This wonderful antioxidant is sold in supplement form, but it can be found in the skins of different types of berries. This is extra exciting because, as many of us know, resveratrol is found in red wine because it is fermented in grape skins, which have a high concentration of the substance.

Before you kick back with a glass of red and forget about working out, resveratrol is not a replacement for a balanced diet and regular exercise. That being said, drinking red wine can actually help you muscles- so raise a glass!