Monday, June 30, 2008

Are You Going Nuts For Your Health?

Remember when nuts were considered fattening and best avoided? Not any longer: they’re now being hailed as dietary panaceas. Rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants such as vitamin E, walnuts contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than other nuts and are one of the best plant sources of protein.
Incorporated into a healthy diet, they reduce the risk of heart disease by improving the elasticity of blood vessels, and lowering bad cholesterol and the C-reactive protein, which was recently recognized as a predictor of heart disease.
A walnut looks like a brain, and that’s what it’s good for: it’s the primary brain nut. But it’s difficult to find hulled walnuts that are still fresh, so buy them in their shells, it’s much better. The recommended amount to eat is ten whole walnuts a day - but beware: they may be good for you, but they are high in calories.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Want to boost your energy?

For an energy boost when you're feeling fatigued, try taking a leisurely stroll or bike ride. In a recent University of Georgia study, sedentary people who complained of fatigue had a 20 percent spike in energy levels when they engaged in regular, low intensity exercise. Try walking, gentle yoga, or easy biking.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How To Stay Healthy While You Sit

Americans spend nearly eight hours a day sitting (and another four hours watching TV and playing computer games) according to a Harris poll conducted by the America On the Move Foundation. Now consider your own day. How many hours per day do you spend sitting at a desk, either in your office or at home?Chances are it's a pretty substantial amount of time. Between work and the endless number of things people now use computers for, you may easily be spending more time at your desk than anywhere else, which is why learning how to sit at a desk and still be healthy is so important.The Downfalls of Sitting Too MuchIn general, sitting (whether at a desk, in the car or elsewhere) for too long is not a health-promoting thing to do. For one thing, it can cause you to gain weight. A study in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that those who had high daily levels of sitting (7.4 hours or more) were significantly more likely to be overweight or obese than those who reported low daily sitting levels (less than 4.7 hours a day).A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine even found that the longer a man sits at a desk at work, the greater his chances are of being overweight.Sitting at a desk all day also puts you at risk of back pain, particularly if you sit with poor posture, leg cramps, tense muscles and, of course, boredom.Healthy Tips for Sitting at Your DeskMany of us don't have a choice and must work at a desk, at least for a portion of our day. During this time, use the following tips to keep your mind and body at their best.
Keep your body in a neutral position. This means that your joints are naturally aligned, reducing your risk of stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and skeletal system and developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To achieve a neutral body position:
Adjust your chair so your thighs are parallel with the floor.
Choose a chair that supports your back, including the curve in your lower back (if not, place a rolled up towel or pillow behind your lower back for support).
Your hands, wrists and forearms should be in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
Your head should be in-line with the torso and at a level, balanced position (or just slightly forward).
Your elbows should be close to your body, bent at a 90- to 120-degree angle.
Your shoulders should be relaxed and upper arms hanging naturally next to your body.
Your feet should be flat on the floor or supported by a footrest.
Your chair should be well-padded.
Move around often. Your body can only tolerate being in one position for about 20 minutes before it starts to feel uncomfortable, according to the Mayo Clinic. About every 15 minutes, stand, stretch, walk around or change your position for at least 30 seconds.
Reduce repetitive movements. Movements that you repeat over and over (such as answering the phone or reaching for a book) can lead to strains and stress. Reduce unnecessary movements as much as possible by keeping items you use often within arm's reach and using tools, such as a phone headset, to reduce repetitive movements. You should also alternate the hand you use to operate your computer's mouse.
Keep your computer monitor in a healthy position. This means directly in front of you, but at least 20 inches away. The top of the screen should be at or below your eye level, and it should be perpendicular to the window (to reduce glare), according to OSHA.
Look away from your computer screen often. Focusing on a computer screen for too long can lead to dry eyes and eye fatigue. Be sure to change your focus often, looking at a point in the distance, and blink regularly to keep your eyes moist.
Use a document holder. It should be at the same height and distance as your computer monitor (holders mounted to the monitor are ideal).
Keep your keyboard and other office accessories clean. Keyboards, phones and other office equipment are breeding grounds for germs. Desks themselves can even harbor more bacteria than a toilet seat!
Declutter your desk. About 40 percent of U.S. office workers say they are "infuriated" by too much clutter on their desks. Save yourself this mental strife by taking a few minutes each day to go through papers. Throw away those you don't need and file those you do.
Don't keep junk food at your desk. The temptation is simply too high to eat the junk, and subsequently feel sluggish, tired or guilty. Instead, keep a supply of healthy snacks nearby to satisfy your hunger in a smart way. Great snack ideas include cut-up vegetables, a few nuts, fresh fruit, a hard-boiled egg, etc.
Make your desk your own. While keeping away from too much clutter is good, adding a few items that mean something to you will make your desk more enjoyable to work at. Some items to consider include a few pictures of family or friends, a plant, inspirational posters or paintings for the wall, and any other mementos that make you feel good.References:
International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 2003 Nov;27(11):1340-6.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2005 Aug;29(2): 91-97.
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
America on the Move

Friday, June 27, 2008

Are You Exercising Your Brain?

Neurobics for your mind. Get your brain fizzing with energy. American researchers coined the term ‘neurobics’ for tasks which activate the brain's own biochemical pathways and to bring new pathways online that can help to strengthen or preserve brain circuits. Brush your teeth with your ‘other’ hand, take a new route to work or choose your clothes based on sense of touch rather than sight. People with mental agility tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and age-related mental decline.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Healthy Teeth = Healthy Heart

Brush and floss
It takes only six minutes a day to keep gums in the pink…and help prevent heart disease. People with periodontal disease face nearly twice the risk of heart attack as their healthy-gummed brethren. But you can zap that risk by brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day and flossing for two minutes each night.
Doctors aren’t sure why people with gum disease get more heart disease. One theory is that bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums and cause small blood clots that contribute to clogged arteries. Another theory is that diseases such as gingivitis, later-stage periodontitis, and even cavities cause the release of an inflammatory chemical that plays a role in the buildup of fatty deposits in the heart.
Either way, diligent brushing and flossing can help. The secret is in the technique, says Sally Cram, D.D.S., a periodontist in Washington, D.C., and spokesperson for the American Dental Association: after brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush, hold the brush against your gums at a 45-degree angle and lightly massage with short, circular strokes. For the best protection, go the full two minutes; most people brush for fewer than 30 seconds. Mouthwash isn’t necessary, but if you like to use it, look for products that contain menthol, thymol, and eucalyptol.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Catch Some Rays

We’ve been bombarded with advice to stay out of the sun—and for good reason, because the sun’s rays have been linked to a greater risk of skin cancer. But spending a small amount of time in direct sunlight, without sunscreen, could help ward off serious illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and even some cancers. Reason: each of these conditions can be triggered by a vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight is our primary source of the vitamin, says Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston University Medical Center. “But when you wear sunscreen, it reduces the production of vitamin D in the skin.” What’s more, the vitamin D that comes in many pills doesn’t contain the health-protecting D3 type of the nutrient that comes from sunshine.
By sunning your unprotected face, arms, and hands for a few minutes, you can produce as much vitamin D as is in ten glasses of milk. (The darker your skin, the longer it takes, though. For fair skin, spend 5 to 10 minutes in the sun, two or three times a week. If your skin is dark, spend 15 to 30 minutes.) Just be sure to keep the session short. More is clearly not better. After your sunbath, be sure to apply sunscreen, and reapply it every two hours for as long as you’re outdoors.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Perks of a Happy Marriage

A happy marriage comes with the unexpected advantage of lower blood pressure, says researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU). They found that happily-married adults experienced lower blood pressure than singles who have supported social networks.

The study, newly published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, evaluated 204 married and 99 single adult volunteers who agreed to wear portable blood pressure monitors for 24 hours. "We wanted to capture participants' blood pressure doing whatever they normally do in everyday life," says BYU professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who notes that the monitors were concealed by their clothing. She adds, "Getting one or two readings in clinics is not really representative of the fluctuations that occur throughout the day."

The volunteers also were asked to complete rosters of friends in their social networks and answer questions about the quality of their relationships with friends and spouses.

Researchers were surprised to learn that the blood pressure of adults who considered themselves in a happy marriage dipped more during sleep than that of singles. This finding is particularly important, because other research has shown that higher blood pressure throughout the night produces a much greater risk of cardiovascular problems.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Are You a Healthy Role Model?

According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, you may not be a perfect health model for your kids, but if they see you making real effort to improve your own habits, they will realize that being healthy is important. Here are simple ways you can help yourself and set a good example for your kids:

  • Make gradual changes: Drink 1 or more glasses of water daily. Walk 10 minutes longer every week. Have 1 less indulgent food every week.
  • Balance bad habits with good ones: Watch TV while you're on the treadmill.
  • Start walking: Take the stairs instead of the escalator.
  • Drink more water and less soda: If you don't cut back on soda, neither will they.
  • Listen to when you're full: Ban the "clean your plate" rule.
  • Grocery shop on a full stomache: It helps prevent impulse buying of unhealthy snacks.
  • Slow down: It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you've been fed.
  • Be positive: Don't talk about your weight or put yourself down in front of your kids. Don't complain about how much you may dislike exercising or eating healthy foods, your kids will hear you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Creativity at Work Pays

Employees who have more control over their daily work and apply creativity in tackling challenging tasks are healthier than workers who don't, according to a recent study from The University of Texas at Austin (UT). "Creative activity helps people stay healthy," says lead author John Mirowsky, a sociology professor with the Population Research Center at UT, because "it's non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems."

The study evaluated more than 2,500 adults who responded to an initial national telephone survey in 1995 that was followed up in 1998. Questions addressed general health and physical functioning, as well as how individuals spent their time at work and, whether paid or unpaid, it gave them a chance to learn new things or do things they enjoyed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How Is Your Nerve Supply?

There are 24 moveable bones of the spine. Collectively they are called the spinal column. Between each of these bones is where nerves exit to give electrical energy or life force to the rest of the body ( heart, lungs, muscles, glands, etc.). The brain communicates through these nerves to the rest of the body.

Research at the University of Colorado in Boulder discovered that the pressure on spinal nerve roots of as little as 45mm of mercury (about the weight of a quarter) decreased nerve transmission by 60% in just a matter of minutes.

What would happen if your heart, lungs, muscles, kidneys, liver, glands, etc. only received 60% of the nerve transmission? Make sure the entire family is getting regular chiropractic care as part of there lifestyle.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Green Tea Gets a Boost

Green tea is rightly known as one of the healthiest beverages around, due to its rich content of unique antioxidants. A new study has now upped the ante by suggesting we add vitamin C to green tea, which significantly boosts the tea's antioxidants by making them more available to the body.

"Although these results are preliminary, I think it's encouraging that a big part of the puzzle comes down to simple chemistry," says Mario Ferruzzi, assistant professor of food science at Purdue University.

It turns out that catechins, the green tea type of antioxidants, have many health-promoting qualities, including an anti-cancer skill set, but they're not as readily absorbed by the body in a non-acidic environment. In fact, typically less than 20 percent remain effective after digestion.

By testing a variety of juices, creamers and other additives commonly drunk in green tea, Ferruzzi found that citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, or alternately, the ingestion of a vitamin C supplement, greatly enhanced the staying power of catechins. Ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C, increased the effective levels of green tea antioxidants up to 13-fold.

Taking lemon in one's tea has never looked better.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How Is Your Memory?

Some of the memory erosion that comes with aging can be slowed or even reversed. For example, when aging cells in the front part of your brain, known as the prefrontal cortex, shrink, it causes a loss of "executive function," skills that let you multitask and focus intently on what you are doing. But you can improve executive function through physical exercise, which increases the blood flow and the availability of oxygen and glucose to your brain cells.

To do this, you need at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as aerobics or fast walking, three times a week. Even if you have been sedentary for a while, your ability to focus can improve markedly within a few months of starting an exercise program

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boosting Your Child's Brain Power

A new study published in the Journal of School Health (2008;78:209-15), found that a high-quality diet is linked to a higher level of academic performance in school children.

Children who had the highest diet quality scores and therefore the healthy diets were 41% less likely to fail a standard literacy test than children with the lowest diet quality scores (indicating a poor diet). Variety and adequate nutrition were linked to academic performance, and children who ate more fruits and vegetables and fewer calories from fat did better on the test.

Previous research has shown that eating a healthy breakfast can help children do better in school. Other studies have found that being overweight has a negative impact on academic performance. So, both healthy eating and physical exercise might have the best effect on raising achievement in school.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Many Cancer Survivors Ignore Lifestyle Changes

Cancer survivors who make healthy lifestyle changes and alter their diets to eat more fruits and vegetables, stay physically active and avoid tobacco have a higher quality of life than those who do not do these things.

The bad news, according to a study published in May 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is that many cancer survivors are not eating right and aren't exercising enough.

"We all know that living a healthy lifestyle, eating well, being physically active and not smoking reduces the risk of physical problems and improves overall physical health," said Kevin Stein, director of Quality of Life Research at the American Cancer Society's Behavioral Research Center and lead author of the Clinical Oncology study. "Here we have additional evidence that it not only reduces disease burden but also improves emotional health and quality of life and, moreover, the effect appears to be cumulative. The more you comply, the better your quality of life."

Unfortunately, the message doesn't seem to be getting through enough so that people can really grasp the importance of what they do in their lives in terms of how it affects what happens to them. This includes behaviors engaged in both before and after a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

After dodging a bullet, having a second chance to live a healthy lifestyle, reduce the risk of a second cancer and improve their quality of life, it seems old bad habits die hard.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Don't Sweat It

Did you know that underarms can absorb applied substances directly into the bloodstream? Most conventional deodorants contain artificial fragrances, harsh chemical antiperspirants and preservatives. Natural deodorants, on the other hand, use herbs or salts found to be very effective at reducing odor-causing bacteria. Nor do they contain the type of aluminum-based chemicals suspected for various health issues. What do you want to absorb?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Double Whammy

What's good for the heart is good for the prostate.

New research suggests that men who eat a diet low in fat and red meat and high in vegetables and lean protein, and who drink alcohol in moderation, are doing both their hearts and prostates a favor.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Improve Your Memory Quickly With These Nine Tips

Though you may not nitice it until you reach your mid-60's, your memory starts a gradual decline around the ripe old age of 25, according to University of Michigan psychologist Denise Park.

"Younger adults in their 20's and 30's notice no losses at all, even though they are declining at the same rate as people in their 60's and 70's, because they have more capital than they need," says Park in Scientific American.

Most of this mental decline is quite harmless, though it may lead you to have trouble recalling certain facts or make multitasking more difficult. The good news is that, like your muscles, your brain can be built up and strengthened at any age, and here are the top tips to do so.
  1. Exercise
  2. Meditate
  3. Get a good night's sleep
  4. Concentrate
  5. Make sure you'r getting enough iron
  6. Eat apples
  7. Use your brain
  8. Don't worry about it
  9. Have a cocktail (in moderation)

Scientific American

Friday, June 13, 2008

The World's Best Diet

Boost the planet's health, not to mention your own with essential strategies for eating well every day.
  1. Eat local and organic foods
  2. Wean yourself off the plastic water bottle
  3. Drink organic, too
  4. Ask for sustainable seafood
  5. B.Y.O. non plastic bag
  6. Grow your own
  7. Be takeout savvy
  8. Become whole food conscious
  9. Eat less meat
  10. While you're at it, eat less of everything

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rice for Words

John Breen had two lofty goals: help end world hunger and prepare his son for the SAT's. For this computer programmer, the solution was simple. He created, a non-profit online vocabulary quiz that gives 20 grains of rice to someone in need for each word defined correctly. (the rice is paid for by the site's advertisers and distributed by the United Nations World Food Program.) The more you get right, the more you help one of the 25,000 people who could potentially die from hunger each day. Don't expect it to be easy, though. Breen wrote the program to get more difficult with each correct answer, making the donations you do achieve that much more rewarding.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Keeping hydrated is very important - especially in the summer months. Each day you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. (for example - 140 lbs. means you drink 70 oz. of water daily. Make it cool water to experience a temporary boost in your metabolism. Drinking cold water rather than room temperature makes your body work harder to warm it - hence the boost in metabolism.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Are Artificial Sweetners Safe and Help You Lose Weight?

If you're looking to lose weight, turning to artificial sweetners might actually backfire. Scientists at Purdue University recently discovered that choosing saccharin-sweetened foods and drinks may cause greater weight gain than plain old sugar. Although their research focused on lab rats, it gels with emerging evidence that obesity risk could be higher among people who frequently drink diet soda.

When you consume sweet foods or drinks, your body readies itself to take in a lot of calories. If those calories aren't delivered, the new study suggests, your metabolic system can get thrown off, making it harder to burn off calories and increasing your chances of overeating later on.

What's more, saccharin (and aspartame) has been linked to cancer in a number of other animal studies. So instead of chugging diet soda or eating artificially sweetened snacks, try satisfying your sweet tooth with healthier foods like fruit, sorbets, or a few square of dark chocolate.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Making Makeup Safe for Kids

Whether or not to let children use makeup for playtime is a personal decision for parents to make. But if you do decide to let them make themselves up, there are steps you can take to make it safer.
  1. No powders. Makeup in powder form is easily inhaled into lungs, and can damage them.
  2. Phthalate and touluene-free nail polish. These are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and allergies.
  3. Fragrance free. Fragrances are common allergens, and they usually contain phthalates.
  4. Easy on the lipstick. It can contain lead. Opt instead for a tasty, shiny, beeswax-based lip balm.
  5. Use common sense. This is self explanatory.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fruit Can Keep Your Arteries Squeeky Clean

A study on juices made from apples or purple grapes showed that both the juices and the fruits themselves can help prevent clogged arteries.

Purple grape juice was the most potent, followed by purple grapes, apple juice, and apples. Other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and carotenoids may also contribute to their overall effect.

BBC News

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dangers of Phthalates

Phthalates are a common industrial chemical used in PVC plastics, solvents, and synthetic fragrances. They've been around since the 1930's and now they're pretty ubiquitous; when they tested 289 people in 200, the CDC found phthalates in all of the subjects' blood at surprisingly high levels. They're often referred to as a plasticizer, which we think sounds rather like a kind of exercise to be done on the living-room floor in front of videos hosted by Jane Fonda. But we digress.

What are the possible health effects?

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors linked to problems of the reproductive systems, including decreased sperm motility and concentration in men and genital abnormalities in baby boys. (The average sperm counts have decreased significantly since the 1940's) More recently they've also been linked to asthma and allergies.

Avoid these, and you'll also be avoiding phthalates:
  1. Nail polish
  2. Plastics in the kitchen
  3. Vinyl toys
  4. Paint
  5. Frangrance
  6. Vinyl
  7. Air Fresheners

Friday, June 6, 2008

Can Hair Dyes Give You Cancer?

Hairdressers and barbers are at increased risk of developing cancer as a result of their use of hair dyes. These risks could also extend to personal use of the dyes.

A panel of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France reviewed the evidence and found a consistent risk of bladder cancer in male hairdressers and barbers. A second review of the evidence on personal hair dye use found some studies suggested a possible association with bladder cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.

However, the panel found that the evidence was inadequate to classify the carcinogenicity of personal hair dye use.

IARC Monographs

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What's On Your TV?

Nine out of ten food advertisements shown during Saturday morning children's television programs are for unhealthy fare, like sugary cereals and fat-laden snacks. Be careful what you let your children watch, it could develop bad habits early on in life that could effect their health for the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stay Young in Your Spare Time

Devoting your free time to vegging out won't just burden your waistline. It could cause you to age faster. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers discovered that adults who kept active during their leisure time were biologically younger than sedentary folks. The study measured biologically younger than sedentary folks. The study measured biological age by focusing on white-blood-cell telomeres, chromosomal structures in the body that progressively shorten over time.

Working with DNA samples from 2,401 volunteers, researchers found that those who exercised an average of 199 minutes weekly had telomeres about the same length as those of sedentary people up to 10 years younger. The high levels of oxidative stress, inflammation, and mental stress that accompany a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to shortened telomere length, the authors say.

You don't need to hit the gym, says Elissa Epel, Ph.D., of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Activities like gardening, walking, or gentle yoga can improve fitness while lowering stress hormones thought to play a role in the shortening of telomeres.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nothing to Laugh At

Creating a healthy lifestyle can feel like serious business, with the whole-foods diet to plan, the regular exercise to get, and the yoga classes to attend. But don't forget to laugh. Research shows that giggling and guffawing release feel-good chemicals, soothe tension, and may boost immunity and ease pain. And laughing is free.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Beets Beat High Blood Pressure

Nearly one in three American adults has hypertension, a major heart-disease risk factor that's on the rise among women. But sipping beet juice might bring your blood pressure down, says a study published in Hypertension. Within an hour of drinking about two cups of beet juice, healthy volunteers showed a significant blood-pressure drop, an effect that peaked as a chemical called nitrite entered their bloodstream. Known to relax blood-vessel muscles, nitrite is formed from nitrate, a compound found at high levels in both beets and dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.

Blending beets with other fruits and veggies can make the intensely flavored juice tastier, says Cherie Calbom, author of the upcoming Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life. Calbom suggests a beet-carrot-lemon-ginger combo or a beet-carrot-apple blend. Don't have a juicer? Look for bottled beet juice at natural-food stores.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Alzheimer's, Cholesterol and Vitamin E

Researchers at Finland's University of Kuopio and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston may have uncovered a link between Alzheimer's disease and high cholesterol and vitamin E supplementation just might be the answer.

According to the study, concluded by researchers from Finland, Sweden and California, people in their early 40s with cholesterol levels between 249 and 500 milligrams per deciliter are about one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's later in life as those individuals whose levels are below 198 milligrams per deciliter. What's even more interesting is that these findings appear to be independent of other risk factors for high cholesterol like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

At Baylor College of Medicine, researchers discovered that Alzheimer's patients who took high doses of vitamin E - high levels of which are also found in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruit and some eggs - had mortality rates 26 percent lower than those taking no supplements. There is also evident that a diet rich in vitamin E may lower the risk of getting alzheimer's in the first place.

Just the latest example of how proper diet can help you avoid some serious health issues later in life.