Monday, 30 December 2013

6 Ways to Boost Women's Health

Women's health concerns are a little different from those of men. If you're a woman, these tips will soon have you feeling fit and energetic.

To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:
Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.
Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.
If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.
Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.
Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).
Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.
Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.
Health Tip #6: Check for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly breast self-exams for women. However, it still suggests them as “an option” for women, starting in their 20s. You should be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report any concerns to your doctor. All women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram as a mammogram is the most effective way of detecting cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.
A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these six simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Healthy Living Center.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Short Bouts of Exercise Can Boost Self-Control

A quick sweat session can improve your brain function in the short term, a new analysis finds, even if you don't regularly work out.

When it comes to exercise and your health, most evidence favors consistency over occasional bursts of activity. But a one-off bout of exercise could be enough to provide some brain benefit, researchers from VU University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Quick workouts can impact higher brain function, particularly the part of the brain that regulates self-control, across 6- to 35-year-olds, researchers found after analyzing 19 studies involving short spurts of exercise. Exercise immediately boosts cerebral blood flow to the pre-frontal areas of the brain, or the part responsible for higher brain functions.
Boosting self-control on a daily basis can be valuable. Self-control is a limited resource in the brain, according to past research, including a landmark paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. By exerting too much self-control too soon, you could risk giving in to temptation later. For example, ordering egg whites over French toast for breakfast could deplete your self-control tank enough that you dive into a hamburger and fries for dinner.
The new analysis finds that exercise's impact on self-control is small, but measurable. It could be particularly important for children and teens, who require well-developed brain functions for academic achievement and daily life, the analysis authors write. "These positive effects of physical exercise on inhibition/interference control are encouraging and highly relevant, given the importance of inhibitory control and interference control in daily life," they say in the study.
This echoes a study published last year that found that a short walk in the middle of the workday can cut the amount of chocolate and other snacks you consume on the job. In the study, participants either took brisk 15-minute walks or rested before being given tasks to complete. Each individual had a bowl of chocolate on their desks while they worked on their tasks. On average, those who exercised before the task ate half the amount of chocolate as those who rested beforehand — 15 grams versus 28 grams. (Fifteen grams is equivalent to a small, "fun-size" chocolate bar.)
In the new analysis, regular exercise was not linked to chronically better self-control, meaning exercise might only benefit self-control in the short term.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Should You Try Yoga?

Pressures to conform one's body to the 'thin ideal' are extremely prevalent in our society today - so much so that it is considered somewhat 'normal' to be unsatisfied and critical of one's body.
In an effort to find out what fights against negative body image and self-objectification, researchers at San Jose State University in California, interviewed adult women who practice yoga on a regular basis.  Out of all of the participants, 74% reported that at some point in their lives they had struggled with their weight or with negative body image.  Interestingly, 75% of participants reported that their body acceptance and appreciation increased after developing a yoga practice.
Not only did these women report increased body acceptance, but they also reported that they attribute positive feelings and a feeling of well-being to their yoga practice.  They also expressed "greater connection to themselves, to others, and to their notion of the divine" and were more likely to practice intuitive eating.  The researchers concluded that yoga seems to have helped these women by improving physical and emotional awareness and providing a method for grounding and introspection or meditation.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Facebook Effect: Good or Bad for Your Health?

News-grabbing headlines like "Facebook Linked to Depression" get all the attention, but other research shows that social networking can actually make you healthier. Read this report before you "like," "poke," or "friend" again.

Is it us, or are news headlines about Facebook’s impact on our health popping up more and more these days? Considering that 51 percent of Americans over age 12 now have profiles on the social networking site compared to 8 percent just three years ago, according to new data from Edison Research, it’s no wonder there are entire scientific journals devoted to the psychology of social networking, and piles of studies analyzing such sites’ effects on our moods, body image, friendships, and marriages.
Negative conditions such as “Facebook depression” or Facebook-fueled divorces bear the brunt of the media blitz, but much of the body of research actually points to positive perks from Facebook use. Here, a deeper look at how all those “likes,” “pokes,” and status updates are really affecting you and your family’s well-being, and how you can outsmart some of the potentially negative side effects.
Health Benefits of Facebook
Research shows that Facebook can:
  1. Fuel self-esteem. In a Cornell University study, students felt better about themselves after they updated their Facebook profiles; a control group of students who didn’t log onto the site didn’t experience such a mood lift. The very act of posting something about yourself — regardless of what you write — can boost your self-confidence because you control the image you present to your network of friends, according to researchers.
    Similarly, according to a Michigan State University study, students with low self-esteem and happiness levels who used Facebook more frequently felt more connected to friends and campus life than those who logged on less often.
  2. Strengthen friendship bonds. In a small study of heavy Facebook-using young British adults between ages 21 and 29, Lancaster University researchers found that the site helped cement positive interactions among friends. Both private messages and wall posts allowed Facebook users to confide in their friends, surf down memory lane, and laugh out loud, promoting happy feelings.
  3. Stamp out shyness and loneliness. In a soon-to-be-published Carnegie Mellon study, researchers who surveyed more than 1,100 avid Facebook-using adults found that receiving messages from friends and consuming info from friends’ news feeds boosted feelings of connectedness, especially in people with self-described “low social skills.” Authors say that for shy people, gleaning information from news feeds and profiles can help start conversations they otherwise might not be comfortable enough to strike up. “People who are uncomfortable chatting face to face gain more through their use of the site,” says study co-author Moira Burke, a PhD candidate in the university’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.
    Similar benefits hold true for tweens and teens: Australian researchers who studied more than 600 students between age 10 and 16 found that communicating online helped improve communication skills for lonely adolescents, giving them an outlet to talk more comfortably about personal topics.
Health Risks of Facebook
Research also shows that Facebook can:
  1. Cause depression. A recently published American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) paper made a major splash when it described Facebook depression — a condition said to result when tweens and teens spend too much time on social media, leading them to turn to “substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive or self-destructive behaviors.”
    However, the phenomenon is more anecdotal than based on solid science, and some experts suggest that it’s more of a correlation — that people who are depressed may simply be more likely to use Facebook. “People who are already feeling down or depressed might go online to talk to their friends, and try and be cheered up,” wrote John M. Grohol, PsyD, founder and editor-in-chief of on his blog. “This in no way suggests that by using more and more of Facebook, a person is going to get more depressed.”
    In one of the papers cited by the AAP report, researchers found that the more time first-time Internet users spent online, the more likely they were to experience loneliness and depression but a follow-up study showed such effects disappeared a year later, according to Dr. Grohol. “It may simply be something related to greater familiarity with the Internet,” he wrote. In another paper referenced by the AAP report, the depression-Facebook link only held true among people with “low-quality” friendships; people with good pals did not experience depression with increasing Facebook use.
  2. Trigger eating disorders. The more time adolescent girls spent on the social networking site, the more likely they were to develop eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and extreme dieting, Israeli researchers recently found. Exposure to online fashion and music content, as well as watching TV shows like Gossip Girl, were also associated with an increased risk for eating disorders.
    But researchers aren’t saying that social networking sites necessarily cause eating disorders; as with Facebook depression, it may be that people prone to eating disorders spend more time online. What’s more, the researchers found that parents can help protect their daughters from harmful effects of media: The children of parents who were aware of what their daughters were viewing online — and talked to them about what they saw and how much time they spent — were less prone to develop eating disorders, according to study authors.
  3. Split up marriages. Facebook was referenced in 20 percent of divorce petitions processed in 2009 by Divorce-Online, a British law firm. Time magazine reported that feuding spouses use their Facebook pages to air dirty laundry, while their lawyers use posts as evidence in divorce proceedings. Sexual health expert Ian Kerner, PhD, recently blogged on CNN that he’s seen many relationships destroyed by “Facebook bombs” — people reconnecting with high school sweethearts or other blasts from the past that can lead to emotional, if not actual, cheating.
    “The mistake I often see is when someone gets friended or messaged by an ex and doesn’t tell their partner,” Kerner told Everyday Health. “It’s a slippery slope from the moment you don’t disclose information.”
    He warns that it’s easy to over-romanticize the past, which can cause people to check out of their current relationship. Kerner advises couples to not keep secrets about whom they’re chatting with on Facebook. And while the site certainly makes it easy to reconnect with old flames and flirt behind the façade of your computer, the potential damage it can do depends on the stability of your relationship in the first place. “It all depends on your level of trust in your spouse,” says Kerner. “Have a dialogue, set some rules. The key is transparency.”
Bottom line: For most people, how or whether Facebook affects your mood, your health, or your marriage probably depends far more on your off-line well-being, activities, and influences than what you do when you log on.
Source; Everyday Health

Saturday, 16 November 2013

5 Tricks for Keeping Up the Healthy Lifestyle Momentum

Starting “getting healthy” is easy. The rush at the beginning of a detox or cleanse; exciting! The signing of the gym or yoga membership; exciting! Buying the new workout gear or kit; exciting!
When we start out on a Get Healthy endeavour the beginning is the easy bit. The vision of the slimmer, fitter, more toned, bikini/speedo ready version of ourselves dangling before us. It’s easy to take action, and it feels good.
The thing is, as many of us know, after a few weeks that initial rush of enthusiasm has worn off and the Get Healthy practice we were initially so inspired by has become a chore, a grind, and a pain in the ass.
Gradually the “yoga every day” commitment becomes every other day, then twice a week until the mat just sits gathering dust in the back of the car.
The juicer whispering the promise of kick-starting each day with green juice made from kale and parsley becomes a white elephant taking up space on the kitchen worktop, a continual reminder we have not kept our promise to ourselves.
So, how do we beat this common phenomenon? How do we make Getting Healthy a happy habit we actually keep?

1. Set the bar lower: do what you can do on a bad day not a good day

Most Get Healthy projects fail because we set the bar too high. We set it based on the dream ideal, what we would do in our perfect week when we leave work on time each day, the weather is great and life is a breeze.
This sets us up for failure because, inevitably, this is life; shit happens! The kids get sick; the washing machine springs a leak; there is a crisis at work; the bus is late.
So, the key is to plan your Get Healthy plan around what you could do in your WORST week, not your best. Set the bar a little lower. This is then a commitment you can actually keep, no matter what.
Is it a cop out? Hells no! You can increase your commitment on the weeks life is all going like a dream as a bonus, but the most important thing is keeping that commitment on the tricky weeks when you have the in-laws staying, the dog needs to go to the vets and your assistant is on annual leave.
Those are the weeks that count in terms of building a habit that sticks.

2. Replace a bad habit with a good habit, one at a time

It’s easier to stick to a new healthy habit if you replace a bad habit with a good one, rather than just trying to stop a bad one. By substituting a more positive habit rather than just depriving yourself of something you are far more likely to keep the habit up.
So give up the Friday Fish and Chips by instituting a Healthy Night once a week where you and your partner take it in turns to cook a new recipe.

3. Make it a happy habit not an effort of willpower

Willpower is a finite resource. Sooner or later it will run out. Fact! So if you are relying only on willpower to get you to the gym or to drag out the juicer then eventually you are bound to fall off the wagon.
Far better to focus on what naturally pulls you forward rather than what you have to force yourself to do. That means choosing exercise that you LOVE and food that you actually ENJOY.
The less effort required the better, and the key to that is choosing what really feels delicious and fun for you.

4. Find an accountability system that works for you

Accountability is great. Different strokes for different folks, one person's inspiration is another person’s nightmare. So do what works for you. Maybe it’s committing to compete in a sports event.
Maybe it’s hanging a pic of Jennifer Aniston in her bikini next to the date of your next beach holiday. Maybe is getting three of your colleagues from the office commit to a walk around the block at lunchtime three days a week.
You are smart; figure out what keeps you accountable and motivated.

5. Reconnect regularly with your WHY

Your WHY is your Spiritual Fuel that powers you towards your goal. Reconnecting with why you chose to commit to this Get Healthy journey at the beginning when it was all shiny and exciting will help you to stay on track when the going gets tough and the shine has faded.
Was it to feel good in your jeans? Or to have the energy to run around with your kids? Or to do a sub-4 hour marathon? Or to have toned arms? Or to be peaceful and calm and sleep well?
Reconnect with why you started in the first place. And ask yourself, what habit do I wish I had started a year ago? Drinking more water? Running? A weekly yoga class?
A daily green juice? Ask yourself what will you wish you had stuck at a year from now? Reconnect with your WHY and stay on course.
Making Getting Healthy a happy habit that sticks is totally possible, start small, be consistent and work with what pulls you forward with love not force, that is the key.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Starchy foods

Starchy foods are our main source of carbohydrate, and play an important role in a healthy diet.

Low-carb diets

Low-carbohydrate (low-carb) diets usually involve cutting out most starchy foods. These diets tend to be high in fat, and eating a high-fat diet (especially saturated fatfrom foods such as meat, cheese and butter) could increase your risk of heart disease. Low-carb diets could also restrict the amount of fruit, vegetables and fibre you eat, so try to ensure starchy foods make up about a third of your diet.
For information and advice about healthy weight loss, see Lose weight.
Starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, cereals, rice and pasta should make up about a third of the food you eat. Where you can, choose wholegrain varieties, or eat potatoes with their skins on for more fibre.
Starch is the most common form of carbohydrate in our diet. We should eat some starchy foods every day as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Data published by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which looks at food consumption in the UK, shows that most of us should be eating more starchy foods.

Why do you need starchy foods?

Starchy foods are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet.
As well as starch, they contain fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins.
Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram they contain fewer than half the calories of fat. Just watch out for the added fats used when you cook and serve them: this is what increases the calorie content.
Learn more about fat in Fat: the facts.

Starchy foods and fibre

Wholegrain varieties of starchy foods, and potatoes – particularly when eaten with their skins on – are good sources of fibre. Fibre can help to keep our bowels healthy and can help us to feel full, which means we are less likely to eat too much. This makes wholegrain starchy foods and potatoes eaten with their skins a particularly good choice if you are trying to lose weight.
Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants. There are two types of fibre:
  • Insoluble fibre. The body can’t digest this type of fibre, so it passes through the gut, helping other food and waste products move through the gut more easily. Wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals, brown rice, and wholewheat pasta are good sources of this kind of fibre.
  • Soluble fibre. This type of fibre can be partly digested and may help reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Oats and pulses are good sources.

Tips to eat more starchy foods

These tips can help you to increase the amount of starchy foods in your diet.
  • When you choose wholegrain varieties, you’ll also increase the amount of fibre you are eating.
  • Porridge is perfect as a warming winter breakfast.
  • Whole oats with fruit and yoghurt make a great summer breakfast.
  • Opt for wholegrain cereals or mix some in with your favourite cereal.
  • Have more rice or pasta and less sauce.
  • Try different breads, such as seeded, wholemeal and granary, and go for thick slices.
  • Try brown rice: it makes a very tasty rice salad.
  • Try a jacket potato for lunch, and eat the skin for even more fibre.
  • If you're having sausages and mash, have more mash, some vegetables and cut down on the number of sausages you eat.

Types of starchy foods

Below you'll find more detailed information about the nutritional benefits of some of the most common starchy foods, along with information on storage and preparation from the Food Standards Agency and the British Dietetic Association.


Potatoes are a great choice of starchy food, and a good source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium. 
In the UK we get a lot of our vitamin C from potatoes because, although they only contain between 11–16mg of vitamin C per 100g of potatoes, we generally eat a lot of them. They’re good value for money and can be a healthy menu choice.
Potatoes are a healthy choice when boiled, baked (jacket potatoes), mashed or roasted with only a small amount of fat and no added salt. French fries and other chips cooked in oil or served with salt are not a healthy choice.
Although a potato is a vegetable, in the UK we mostly eat them as the starchy food part of a meal. Because of this, potatoes don't count towards your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but they can play an important role in your diet. 
When cooking or serving potatoes, try to go for lower fat (polyunsaturated) spreads or unsaturated oils such as olive or sunflower oil, instead of butter.
Leave potato skins on where possible to keep in more of the fibre and vitamins. For example, eat the skin when you're having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato.
If you’re boiling potatoes, some nutrients will leak out into the water, especially if you’ve peeled them. To stop this happening, only use enough water to cover them, and cook them only for as long as they need.
Storing potatoes in a cool, dark and dry place will help stop them sprouting. Don't eat any green or sprouting bits of potatoes.

Rice and grains

Rice and grains are an excellent choice of starchy food. They give us energy, are low in fat and good value for money.
There are many types to choose from, including:
  • couscous
  • bulgur wheat
  • all kinds of rice, such as quick-cook, arborio, basmati, long grain, brown, short grain and wild  
As well as carbohydrates, rice and grains contain:
  • protein, which the body needs to grow and repair itself
  • fibre, which can help the body get rid of waste products
  • B vitamins, which help release energy from the food we eat, and help the body to work properly
Rice and grains, such as couscous and bulgur wheat, can be eaten hot or cold and in salads.
There are a few precautions you should take when storing and reheating cooked rice and grains. This is because the spores of some food poisoning bugs can survive cooking.
If cooked rice or grains are left standing at room temperature, the spores can germinate. The bacteria multiply and produce toxins that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Reheating food won't get rid of the toxins.
Therefore, it's best to serve rice and grains when they've just been cooked. If this isn't possible, cool them within an hour after cooking and keep them refrigerated until reheating or using in a cold dish.
It's important to throw away any rice and grains that have been left at room temperature overnight.
If you aren't going to eat rice immediately, refrigerate it within one hour and eat within 24 hours. Don't reheat rice and grains more than once.
Follow the "use by" date and storage instructions on the label for any cold rice or grain salads that you buy.


Bread – especially wholemeal, granary, brown and seeded varieties – is a healthy choice to eat as part of a balanced diet.
Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown breads give us energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fibre and a wide range of minerals. White bread also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but it has less fibre than wholegrain, wholemeal or brown breads.
Some people avoid bread because they think they're allergic to wheat, or because they think bread is fattening. But cutting out any type of food altogether could be bad for your health, because you might miss out on a whole range of nutrients that we need to stay healthy.
Bread can be stored at room temperature. Follow the "best before" date to make sure you eat it fresh.


Pasta is another healthy option to base your meal on. It consists of dough made from durum wheat and water, and contains iron and B vitamins, as well as a small amount of sodium (salt). Wholewheat or wholegrain are healthier alternatives to ordinary pasta as they contain more fibre. Also, we digest wholegrain foods more slowly so they can make us feel full for longer.
Dried pasta can be stored in a cupboard and typically has a long shelf life, while fresh pasta will need refrigerating and has a shorter lifespan. Check the food packaging for "best before" or "use by" dates and further storage instructions.

Cereal products

Cereal products are made from grains. The benefits of eating wholegrain cereals are that they can contribute to our daily intake of iron, fibre, B vitamins and protein. They can also provide a slow release of energy throughout the day.
Wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice are commonly available cereals that can be eaten as wholegrains. This means cereal products consisting of oats and oatmeal, like porridge, and wholewheat products are healthy breakfast options.
Barley, couscous, corn, quinoa and tapioca also count as healthy cereal products. 
Many cereal products in the UK are refined, with low wholegrain content. They can also be high in added salt and sugar. When you’re shopping for cereals, check the food labels to compare the nutrition levels of different products.
Always check the food packaging for "best before" or "use by" dates and for storage instructions.

Acrylamide in starchy food

Acrylamide is a chemical that can be found in some starchy foods when they are toasted, roasted, baked, grilled or fried at high temperatures.
Some studies have suggested that acrylamide could be harmful to our health. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that bread should be toasted to the lightest colour acceptable, and, when chips are made at home, that they are cooked to a light golden colour. Manufacturers' instructions for frying or oven-heating foods should be followed carefully and, when roasting or baking root vegetables and potatoes, or baking bread or pastry, it is a good idea to avoid overcooking or burning.
Boiling, steaming and microwave cooking are unlikely to produce much acrylamide.
When storing potatoes, keep them somewhere dark, cool and dry, and not in the fridge. Storing potatoes at a very low temperature can increase the amount of sugar they hold, which could lead to higher levels of acrylamide when they are cooked. For more information, see the FSA survey on acrylamide.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Finding Fitness: 10 Ways to Fit In Exercise

The "E" word can make you cringe, but exercise is really necessary. Besides, it can be fun: Learn how to squeeze fitness into your busy day.

The benefits of regular exercise are unrivaled: Physical activity can help you lose weight and prevent a host of ailments, including heart diseasediabetes, and osteoporosis. Being fit also can help you stay mentally sharp.
While most people know they should exercise, you may not know where to start or how to fit it into a busy schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread out over five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on each of three days a week.
“This is something we recommend to all Americans,” says Gerald Fletcher, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and a spokesman for the AHA.
An ideal fitness routine also includes resistance or weight training to improve muscle strength and endurance. The ACSM and the AHA recommend that most adults engage in resistance training at least twice a week.
Finding Fitness: 10 Ways to Get in Exercise 
Sometimes the problem isn’t motivation — it’s simply finding the time. But scheduling exercise isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are 10 ways to get you moving more often:
  1. Be less efficient. People typically try to think of ways to make daily tasks easier. But if we make them harder, we can get more exercise, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Bring in the groceries from your car one bag at a time so you have to make several trips,” Merrill says. “Put the laundry away a few items at a time, rather than carrying it up in a basket.”
  2. Shun labor-saving devices. Wash the car by hand rather than taking it to the car wash. “It takes about an hour and a half to do a good job, and in the meantime you’ve gotten great exercise,” Merrill says. Use a push mower rather than a riding mower to groom your lawn.
  3. Going somewhere? Take the long way. Walking up or down a few flights of stairs each day can be good for your heart. Avoid elevators and escalators whenever possible. If you ride the bus or subway to work, get off a stop before your office and walk the extra distance. When you go to the mall or the grocery store, park furthest from the entrance, not as close to it as you can, and you'll get a few extra minutes of walking — one of the best exercises there is, Dr. Fletcher says. “Walking is great because anyone can do it and you don’t need any special equipment other than a properly fitting pair of sneakers.”
  4. Be a morning person. Studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick with it. As Merrill explains, “Are you going to feel like exercising at the end of a hard day? Probably not. If you do your workout in the morning, you’re not only more likely to do it, but you'll also set a positive tone for the day.”
  5. Ink the deal. Whether morning, afternoon, or evening, pick the time that is most convenient for you to exercise and write it down in your daily planner. Keep your exercise routine as you would keep any appointment.
  6. Watch your step. Investing in a good pedometer can help you stay motivated. “If you have a pedometer attached to your waist and you can see how many steps you’ve taken, you’ll see it doesn’t take long to walk 5,000 steps and you will be inspired,” Merrill says. And building up to 10,000 steps a day won’t seem like such a daunting a task.
  7. Hire the right help. While weight training is important, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of injuring yourself or not being effective, Merrill says. It’s best to get instructions from a personal trainer at the gym. You also can buy a weight-training DVD and follow along in your living room.
  8. Keep records. Grab a diary or logbook, and every day that you exercise, write down what you did and for how long. Your records will make it easy for you to see what you’ve accomplished and make you more accountable. Blank pages? You’d be ashamed.
  9. Phone a friend. Find someone who likes the same activity that you do — walking in the neighborhood, riding bikes, playing tennis — and make a date to do it together. “Exercising with a friend or in a group can be very motivating,” Fletcher says. “You are likely to walk longer or bike greater distances if you’re talking to a friend along the way. The time will go by faster.” Don’t have a buddy who is available? Grab an MP3 player and listen to your favorite music or an audio book while exercising.
  10. Do what you like. Whatever exercise you choose, be sure it’s one that you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with it if it’s something you have fun doing rather than something you see as a chore, Fletcher says.
If you can’t fit 30 minutes a day into your schedule, get more exercise simply by being less efficient with your chores and adding a little extra walking distance everywhere you go. However, if you pick an activity you like, finding time for fitness will become effortless and the rewards enormous.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Drinking Alcohol: Health Boost or Health Risk?

When it comes to alcohol, how much is too much? Find out what the experts recommend and how to recognize the signs that you're drinking too much.

A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Moderate drinking means one drink per day for women and one to two for men, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “The difference in amounts is because of how men and women metabolize alcohol,” Dr. Novey explains.
“When you say one drink, the size of that drink matters,” Novey adds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one drink is equal to:
  • 12 ounces of beer or
  • 5 ounces of wine or
  • 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof)
The Dangers of Drinking Too Much
Unfortunately, some people can’t stop at just one or two drinks. Too much alcohol can result in serious health consequences. Heavy alcohol intake can damage the liver, causing cirrhosis, a fatal disease. Excessive drinking also can raise blood pressure and damage the heart, and is linked to many different cancers, including mouth, esophagus, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. The health risks are even greater for those who not only drink but smoke as well.
The consequences of excessive drinking can be serious not only for the alcoholic, but also for their friends, family, and even innocent bystanders. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 16,000 people die each year in automobile accidents that involve drunken drivers. Other data indicates that one in three violent crimes involves the use of alcohol and as many as three out of four violent incidents against a spouse involve alcohol. “Alcohol is a depressant. It makes people sad over time, not happy,” Novey says. When depressed, people can do some rather unfortunate things to themselves and their loved ones.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
How can you tell if you or someone you know might have a drinking problem? Physicians often use the CAGE test, which involves four simple questions, Novey says:
  • Cutting down. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Annoyance by criticism. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Guilty feeling. Have you ever felt guilty about drinking alcohol?
  • Eye-openers. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (an “eye-opener”)?
If the answer to just one of these questions is yes, a drinking problem is likely and professional help is needed, Novey says.
Other signs of a drinking problem:
  • You find you can’t stop drinking once you start.
  • You’re having problems at work or at school.
  • Other people notice your drinking and comment on it.
  • You can’t remember what you did when you were drinking alcohol.
Moderation Rules
Consuming no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks for men is safe, and perhaps even heart healthy. On the other hand, excessive drinking can have serious consequences. If you think you may have a drinking problem or suspect that someone you love does, seek professional help. Contact your family physician or a support group for substance abuse before irreparable damage is done.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Healthy Living Center.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The secret to staying young: How thinking like a bee can reverse brain aging

  • Older bees 'stay young' when doing tasks normally handled by younger bees
  • Remain mentally sharp 'for as long as we observe them' says researcher

The secret to living a longer life may lie in the way that bees think.

Scientists at Arizona State University discovered that older honey bees can effectively reverse brain aging when they take on responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees.

As bees have the same kind of brain cells as humans, the findings have suggested that people can adapt their social lives to help their minds stay younger as they grow older.

Questions: Scientists at Arizona State University discovered that older honey bees can effectively reverse brain aging when they take on responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees
Questions: Scientists at Arizona State University discovered that older honey bees can effectively reverse brain aging when they take on responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees

'We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae - the bee babies - they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them,' Gro Amdam, who led the research that was published in the journal of Experimental Gerontology, told Live Science.

'However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly.'

The scientists found that the aging process in bees resembled that in humans. 'After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function - basically measured as the ability to learn new things.’

But, once the bees were presented with the opportunity to care for the larval babies again during an experiment, those that did ‘significantly improved their ability to learn new things.’

Research: As bees have the same kind of brain cells as humans, the findings have suggested that people can adapt their social lives to help their minds stay younger as they grow older
Research: As bees have the same kind of brain cells as humans, the findings have suggested that people can adapt their social lives to help their minds stay younger as they grow older

When scientists compared the brains of the bees that had improved to those that had not, they discovered changes to a protein called Prx6, which is also found in humans and is known to help protect against dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

'Maybe social interventions - changing how you deal with your surroundings - is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger,' Amdam said. 

'Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences.'

CBS adds that bees, like humans, do not cope well under stress and will usually not survive more than about a week or ten days in isolation as they are social beings.

Read More;

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Health Benefits of Water

We all need water to survive, but how exactly does it help?

Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it's important to re-hydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you're experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.
Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints
Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body's temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.
Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste
Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you've eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.
Water Aids in Digestion
Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.
Water Prevents You From Becoming Dehydrated
Your body loses fluids when you engage in vigorous exercise, sweat in high heat, or come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you're losing fluids for any of these reasons, it's important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body's natural hydration levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you drink more fluids to help treat other health conditions, like bladder infections and urinary tract stones. If you're pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult with your physician about your fluid intake because your body will be using more fluids than usual, especially if you're breastfeeding.
How Much Water Do You Need?
Some recent research suggests that increased amounts of water — such as the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day — may not have as many health benefits as experts previously believed. Most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water and other beverages when they're thirsty, and also by drinking a beverage with each of their meals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you're not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it's clear, you're in good shape. If it's dark, you're probably dehydrated.

Friday, 18 October 2013

What are the health benefits of honey?

Honey is a sweet liquid produced by honey bees using nectar from flowers through a process of regurgitation and evaporation.

This Medical News Today information article includes a brief history of honey in traditional medicine and explains some of its potential health benefits.

The possible health benefits of consuming honey have been documented in early Greek, Roman, Vedic, and Islamic texts and the healing qualities of honey were referred to by philosophers and scientists all the way back to ancient times, such as Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) and Aristoxenus (320 BC).

Honey has high levels of monosaccharides, fructose and glucose, containing about 70 to 80 percent sugar, which gives it its sweet taste - minerals and water make up the rest of its composition.

Honey also possesses antiseptic and antibacterial properties. In modern science we have managed to find useful applications of honey in chronic wound management.

More information can be found at;

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better

Simple tips for livening up your drinking water

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren't crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:
1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.
2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don't just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.
3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn't inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.
4. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that's so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.
5. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you're interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.
6. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption.
7. Add fast flavor. If you're looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Organic Milk and Your Health

Organic milk has all the nutritional goodness of non-organic milk but, due to the cows’ more natural diet, it also has some additional potential health benefits.
Science – understanding food and health
Scientific understanding about nutrition and health is always advancing. Results of scientific studies on the potential health effects of different substances in our food are being published in scientific journals all the time.  These studies are checked by other scientists before they are published  -  this is called ‘peer reviewed’.
We take an active interest in the results of scientific research and want to keep you informed about the latest information published in peer reviewed journals. We know that there is uncertainty in science and that scientists don’t always agree on the health effects of the different components and contaminants of food – it can take time for consensus to be achieved.
A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and little processed food is the most important route to health. We believe organic food is better for your health because:
  • There is an increasing evidence that it has more beneficial nutrients
  • It contains far fewer additives
  • It is produced without the use of almost all chemical herbicides
Here are some examples of research outlining some of the health benefits of organic milk:
Organic milk and eczema
A recent study[i] published in the British Journal of Nutrition and carried out in the Netherlands showed that the incidence of eczema in young children was reduced by 36% where the children consumed organic dairy products. The scientists studied 2834 women from the final weeks of pregnancy through to when the children were two years old. One-third of children in Western societies have one or more allergic-type reactions like eczema. Some parents have observed that changing the child’s diet can help reduce the problem. We think that this study provides some scientific evidence to back this up.
Organic milk and Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Organic milk is naturally higher in certain nutrients than non-organic milk and one such nutrient is the “Omega 3” essential fatty acid Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA).
The results of independent research carried out by Dr Kathryn Ellis at the Universities of Liverpool and Glasgow from 2002 to 2005 looked into the compositional differences between organic and non-organic milk. The results, published in the Journal of Dairy Science in 2006[ii], showed that organic milk is on average 68% higher in total Omega-3 than non-organic milk. Following this research, 11 independent scientists wrote to the Food Standards Agency in the UK, and the Agency now acknowledges that organic milk contains more Omega 3 essential fatty acid than non-organic milk.
Organic milk is thought to contain more Omega 3 because of the high levels of natural red clover fed to the cows on an organic dairy farm. In 2003 Dr Richard Dewhurst, Joint Leader of the Nutrition and Microbiology Team at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, published a peer reviewed study which showed that cows fed red clover produced milk with higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids[iii].
ALA is a poly-unsaturated fatty acid, different from the poly-unsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon. These have well accepted benefits for heart health, functioning of the immune system and are important components of our brain and nervous system. The Food Standards Agency recommends that we eat two portions of fish (one oily like salmon or mackerel) each week, although nutritionists acknowledge that we do not achieve this recommended level of consumption.
Scientists do not agree on the direct benefits of ALA to human health. The Food Standards Agency considers that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that ALA is important for cardio-vascular health. However, some studies do show that ALA can help protect against heart disease[iv], and contribute to healthy bones[v], but until there is more evidence we can’t be sure that ALA has direct benefits for human health.

A workshop convened by the Food Standards Agency[vi] to discuss the health implications of the greater amount of ALA found in organic milk concluded that ALA can be converted in the human body to the types of Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish – important for a healthy heart, immune system and brain. Rates of conversion are much higher in women than in men. The scientists at the workshop concluded that increasing the consumption of ALA could be particularly important in women during pregnancy when the foetus has a high demand for these fatty acids for brain development. They also stated that higher intake of ALA could be important for children who also have a huge demand for these types of fatty acids for brain development.