Healthy living Archive

  • Low exposure to pollution may trigger heart attack, stroke

    The harmful effects of air pollution are a generally accepted fact by much of the population.

    However, researchers have made a slightly alarming discovery – even short-term exposure to air pollution may be enough to trigger a heart attack or stroke in at-risk patients.

    According to this study, up to a week of exposure to most types of pollution may be enough to trigger a heart attack. The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    After 24 hours of exposure to moderate air pollution, the risk of stroke rose 34%. The risk was highest within 12 to 14 hours of exposure to pollution and showed the greatest increase during exposure to pollution generated by traffic.

    What we can say is that exposure to a high level of pollution is harmful to people at risk,” – Dr. Hazrije Mustafic, lead author for this study.

    People at risk for heart attack and stroke are advised to avoid areas of heavy traffic, highways and other areas which may have higher levels of pollution.

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  • 3 ways healthy living can help you lose 5 pounds

    Swimsuit season is just around the corner – are you ready? Each year, millions of people make a resolution to lose weight by the summer. Want to jump-start your weight loss regimen? Here are five ways you can lose five pounds.

    Note: Always consult with your doctor before starting any sort of weight loss regimen, or making significant dietary changes. Your doctor may often have extremely useful advice about what type of weight loss program would work best for your body type and activity level.

    Eat a High-Protein, Low-Fat Breakfast

    Thousands of weight-loss experts can’t be wrong – eating breakfast actually does help you lose weight. Not only will it help get your metabolism on track – eating breakfast actually reduces the number of calories that you consume per day. However, as with any meal, you need to make healthy choices. Stick to a low-fat, high-protein breakfast, such as:

    • Egg white scramble with spinach and low-fat cheese
    • Fat-free Greek yoghurt with blueberries

    Ramp Up Your Activity Level

    Many people don’t get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you’re not in great shape, start with some low-impact exercise. For example, take a 30-minute walk each day, or spend 30 minutes on your feet. When you’re ready, start up an active exercise routine – which could involve at-home cardio or a subscription to your local gym.

    Say No to Sugar

    Cutting simple carbohydrates from your diet has become the basis for many “fad diets” and health regimen programs. The thing is – cutting sugar out of your diet does actually help you lose weight. Eating foods high in sugar actually causes you to eat more, even when you’re not actually hungry. Start by cutting out things like:

    • Muffins
    • Cookies
    • Soda
    • Juice with Added Sugar

    For some people, simply cutting down on the amount of sugar they consume each day was enough to kick-start their weight-loss program.

    Want more info? Check out some of our other articles on weight loss and healthy living.

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  • Drinking Water Enhances Brain Function Study says

    This may seem like a no-brainer – water is essential for healthy living. However, a recent study confirmed what most of us already know.

    Drinking water can help improve your brain function if you’re dehydrated.

    Dehydration has some severe effects on the body, and also causes issues with brain functions. If you’re dehydrated, you might feel “fuzzy brain”, which is characterized by forgetfulness, lack of attention, headaches and other symptoms.

    However, did you know that most people are mildly dehydrated throughout the day? In this study conducted by researchers, drinking water actually caused noticeable improvements in brain function. What’s even more interesting is that the participants in this study weren’t able to identify when they were dehydrated.

    Here’s how the study went down:

    In the three-day study, women were dehydrated through three 40-minute treadmill workouts and in a separate treadmill workout after taking a diuretic. In the final test, they worked out on a treadmill but were allowed to properly hydrate during the exercise. During and after each bout of exercise, the women took a series of cognitive tests.”

    The results are hardly surprising, and give us all yet another reason to stay properly hydrated during the day.

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  • Study says Coffee May Enhance Editing Ability

    Your morning cup of coffee might be doing more than just keeping you awake, according to a recent study.

    A senior cognitive scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center has discovered an interesting link between coffee and certain complex brain performances. One of the notable ways that coffee seems to enhance brain performance is in the area of extracting meaning from written or spoken language. So, basically — it enhances your proofreading skills.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Caffeine only seemed to make a difference in the student’s ability to spot and fix “complex global errors.” These were mistakes in subject-and-verb agreement (for example, billionaire inventor Tony Stark enjoy a lavish lifestyle) and verb tense (for example, customers were misled into believing they had got approved for low interest loans).”

    The study also found that people who consume large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis need higher concentrations of caffeine in order to have the same “editing benefits”. For people who aren’t regular coffee drinkers, a lower amount of caffeine still seemed to enhance editing ability.

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  • Being an angry drunk is actually based on science

    We’ve all heard the stereotypes for the personality changes people experience while intoxicated.

    There’s the “sad drunk”, the “happy drunk” and even the “crazy drunk”. Well, scientists have actually found some basis for people that have been categorized as getting angry when they drink alcohol.

    Drinking doesn’t cause a person’s personality to do a complete turnaround, however.

    According to the study, people who are impulsive, “live in the moment” personality types are more likely to exhibit angry emotions while intoxicated.

    This is actually based around the scientific fact that alcohol can increase aggression levels. When you increase aggression in someone with a certain personality type, it can manifest as anger or frustration.

    The individuals in the study did not have a past history of substance abuse and did not take any other drugs or medications.

    Here’s an explanation of why the results of the study make sense:

    That’s because alcohol is a disinhibitor, explains New York City psychiatrist and regular TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz. It doesn’t cause a personality trait; it reveals what’s already there, hiding somewhere inside your personality. A drunk friend may appear to be acting out of character, but we don’t know what that person might be keeping under wraps, Saltz explains.

    It would be interesting to see what the personality type is for someone who is stereotyped as a “crazy drunk”.

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  • The importance of sleep

    An aspect of healthy living that many people neglect is the importance of receiving enough sleep. It’s estimated that approximately three out of every four people experience difficulty sleeping on a regular basis, while over forty million people in the United States currently suffer from diagnosed sleep disorders. Getting enough sleep can affect nearly every aspect of our lives, from nutrition to concentration, to general mental health.

    Problems a Lack of Sleep Can Cause

    There are many health problems that can develop from a chronic lack of proper sleep. Though not necessarily life-threatening, these health problems can have a distinctly negative effect on your overall quality of life. Here are some of the most common conditions that can arise from a regular lack of sleep.

    Weight Gain

    Recently, the associations between lack of sleep and weight gain have been recognized. It’s speculated that not getting enough sleep can disrupt specific hormones that control a person’s appetite. This can cause overeating, excessive hunger, and eventual weight gain. In a recent study, it was noted that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are much more likely to be classified as obese.

    Increased Risk of Cancer

    Though the associations between development of cancer and a lack of sleep are still subject to debate, a recent study has provided some interesting information. In the Nurses’ Health Study (run by Harvard), it was noted that people who are not sleeping a sufficient amount of hours, or who had irregular sleep patterns were at a much higher risk for developing breast cancer and colon cancer. It’s speculated that this is because disruption of sleep patterns can affect certain types of hormones that contribute to the development of some cancers.

    Lack of Concentration

    If your body is not receiving a sufficient amount of sleep, this is a major factor in reducing your ability to concentrate on daily tasks. This is the main reason that it’s strongly discouraged for you to operate a motor vehicle when you are suffering from extreme fatigue, as this is one of the major contributing factors in vehicle accidents. A loss of concentration also has many negative effects on your daily productivity, which may affect your performance at work.

    How to Get Enough Sleep

    The best way to get used to a sleeping routine is to set a specific time each night that you will go to bed. For the first few weeks, you should not compromise this set time for any reason, since you risk disrupting your new sleeping schedule. If you are having problems falling asleep, you can try using natural sleep aids (such as Valerian or Chamomile tea) in order to help you relax. If your sleep problems are derivative from an anxiety disorder, you may have to ask your doctor about being prescribed a low-intensity, non-habit-forming sleep medication. These medications should be used with extreme caution, as it is best if you train your body to fall asleep without additional aid. To help you fall asleep, you may also try using relaxing essential oil sprays to add a light aroma to your bed, pillow and sheets.

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  • How to get enough sleep at night

    Sleep is an essential part of our daily lives because it allows us to rejuvenate for the following day’s activities. Getting enough sleep at night allows us to keep our heart health. You will have a healthier heart if you can get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

    Getting enough sleep at night reduces stress and lessens the chance of depression. It energizes you to face another day of activities. If you get enough sleep at night, your memory will improve because you are resting your brain. Quality sleep time is one of the best ways to give your brain a needed boost for the next day.

    If you get enough sleep at night, your body is being given a chance to heal because when you are sleeping, your body produces more protein which in turn allows your cells to repair any damages.

    How can you get enough sleep at night?

    1. Avoid eating sugar or food that contain sugar before retiring. What happens is that in the middle of your sleep, your blood sugar might suddenly drop and wake you up, because you feel hungry.
    2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and food that you know you are sensitive to. Although alcohol has been known to get you sleepy, it will not give you a good night’s sleep. You could wake up in the middle of the night, or worst yet, wake up in the morning with a terrible headache. If for any reason you cannot avoid drinking alcohol, drink water soon after or dilute your alcoholic drink with ice or water.
    3. Try not to drink anything two hours before sleeping because if you have a tendency to urinate often, you could wake up in the middle of the night because of nature’s call. On the other hand, if you do not tend to urinate often, you will definitely be forced to get out of bed early in the morning.
    4. A hot bath is a good precursor to a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep at night will definitely be more possible if you have a chance to relax under a hot shower. Just try not to sleep with your hair wet because that would not be good for your hair at all.
    5. Getting enough sleep at night would be a lot easier if your room is set up properly. Why not leave the TV outside, have a choice of bright and dim lights, and set up your room in a way that you know will relax you.
    6. You could also get enough sleep at night by dressing appropriately. If you know that your room temperature has a tendency to drop, make sure you are wearing the right clothes and have enough warm blankets at arm’s reach Socks are also a good idea because we tend to get cold feet faster than any other part of our body.
    7. If reading or writing relaxes you, then have a good, easy reading, non-violent book by your bedside. You could also place your journal beside your bed to jot down any last minute thoughts running through your mind.

    Getting enough sleep at night is possible only if you allow your body and brain to relax before going to bed.

    An active mind will just keep you up at night. An extremely tired body, on the other hand, will need some time to settle down. Plan you sleeping time and the hours before you go to sleep well, and you will get enough sleep for the night.

     

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  • The importance of calcium

    calcium pills

    Did you know that by age 12, only 10% of children are getting enough calcium for proper growth and bone development? Calcium deficiency is becoming a national problem – according to a recent study, 90% of women, 70% of men and 60% of teens don’t consume the recommended daily allowance of calcium.

    Most people know that milk is a good source of calcium. Much of the advertising for dairy products use phrases such as, “Calcium for Strong Bones!” and “Prevent Osteoporosis!”. However, how much do you really know about calcium? Is milk really the best source of calcium, or are there better calcium-rich foods? How much calcium do you need to incorporate into your diet? Here’s a quick overview of calcium that will help you understand the true importance of calcium in your body.

    Why Do We Need Calcium?

    When trying to understand why calcium is important, it’s essential that you know exactly what role calcium plays in your body. Approximately 99% of the calcium currently in your body is stored in your teeth and bones. Calcium is also important for many other bodily functions, such as muscle contraction and exocytosis. Calcium is also essential for nerve conduction, the regulation of enzyme activity and the formation of cell membranes. Your body has very strict guidelines about the amount of calcium required to ensure your body will function normally.

    Calcium’s role in bone formation takes place in a process called “bone mineralization”. Bones are made of a combination of mineral complexes, the most important of which is calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate gives bones their strength, structure and density.

    Calcium Deficiency

    If you become deficient in calcium, several things can happen. First, your bones and teeth will begin to slowly deteriorate. This occurs because your body is pulling calcium from your bones in order to perform other essential functions. Also, being deficient in calcium for a long period of time can cause health problems such as rickets, as well as poor blood clotting. Calcium deficiency is especially dangerous for menopausal women, who are already at a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

    What Are The Best Sources of Calcium?

    Aside from taking calcium supplements, you can enhance your calcium intake by adding certain foods to your diet. While you probably already know that milk is a good source of calcium, did you know that yoghurt contains from 30-40% more calcium than milk? Other great sources of calcium include broccoli, kelp, almonds, quinoa, okra, blackstrap molasses and sardines. By adding these calcium-rich foods to your diet, you can help improve the levels of calcium in your body.

    How Do I Know I’m Getting Enough Calcium?

    There are a few key symptoms that may signal that you’re not receiving enough calcium from your normal diet. Symptoms of a calcium deficiency may include muscle pain, muscle spasms, a tingling or numbness sensation in your hands and/or feet, as well as experiencing frequent bone fractures. If you suspect that you’re deficient in calcium, try increasing the amount of calcium-rich foods you consume, or take a calcium supplement. It’s best to also schedule a checkup with your health practitioner.

    Can I Overdose on Calcium?

    As with many supplements, it is possible to take too much calcium, which can cause adverse reactions in your body. If you take more than 3,000 mg of calcium per day for an extended period of time, you can develop hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels). This can contribute to poor kidney function and a buildup of calcium in blood cells. Symptoms of hypercalcemia may include lethargy, fatigue, constipation, bone pain, depression, nausea and vomiting. Increased urination is also sometimes a symptom of hypercalcemia.

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  • The Difference Between Good and Bad Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are one of the basic nutrients your body needs to function properly. Today, it is now differentiated as either good or bad carbohydrate. The difference between bad and good carbohydrate is that the bad carbohydrate is also known as the simple carbohydrate, and the good carbohydrate is known as the complex carbohydrate.

    The other difference between bad and good carbohydrate is that the bad carbohydrate is the refined, simple sugar. The reason this is not the more desirable carbohydrate to eat is that eating it gives you a surge in your blood sugar and causes you to gain weight. It can also promote the development of diabetes.

    The good carbohydrate does not cause you to have sudden surges in your blood sugar.

    It is also the recommended kind of carbohydrate for those on low carb diets.

    To illustrate the difference between bad and good carbohydrate, let’s look at a simple scenario of eating dessert. If you use a good substitute for sugar in your cake like brown sugar, you are going to be able to enjoy your desert better because of the switch to a less refined carbohydrate.   You don’t expose your body to plain sugar, which can leave you feeling lethargic after the sugar rush. Neither do you gain excessive weight from all the simple white sugar you consume?

    Some good carbohydrates come in the most natural form as possible as fruits and vegetables that contain natural sugar.

    This is good because our body needs it to keep us going. Aside from giving us the energy to do physical activities, good carbohydrates help us in our normal body functions like breathing and digestion.

    Meanwhile, the problem with bad carbohydrates is the weight gain and the sudden crash from the sugar high. Do you ever get that feeling when you suddenly lose energy? After a whole day of stocking up on carbohydrates, at one point in the afternoon, you suddenly feel a heavyweight come down upon you. Your eyes feel tired, your body feels heavy, you can hardly function much more engage in any strenuous activity. You have been eating the wrong kind of carbohydrates. What you have been feeding your body was sugar, plain and simple.

    If you plan on having an active day, instead of eating candy and chocolate to keep you going, why not try some whole grain cereal or pasta? Not only will you be able to stock up on reserve energy to get you through your day, you do not get hungry. This is one of the obvious difference in bad and good carbohydrates that you can personally experience.

    Bad carbohydrates are also easy to digest which will explain why we can get hungry and tired after a while. If we eat good carbohydrates, the nutrients are not as easily digested and are usually packed with fibre.

    Easily the difference between bad and good carbohydrates is that one is refined, and the other is more natural. The problem with refined carbohydrates is that when the process of refining happens, nutrients are lost. Since the concentration is on the sugar content, you can bombard your pancreas with too much glucose. Glucose is the blood sugar that is made when we consume carbohydrates. It is glucose that is used to give us the energy to function.

    Refined carbohydrates are also not good because the fibre is removed from the carbohydrates which are needed to slow down the sugar release into our body. We need to lessen the number of bad carbohydrates in our body, especially if we want to lose a few pounds. The increase in intake of good carbohydrates will more than compensate for the need for sugar by our bodies. Clearly, there is a big difference between bad and good carbohydrates.

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