Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Downsides of Diet Soda

Let’s face it, losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. However, those tantalizingly sweet – and oddly addicting – “diet” soft drinks are always there to save the day when that candy bar is luring you to the sweet side. But are these artificially sweetened “diet” drinks the hero or villain in your weight-loss efforts?

Unfortunately, researchers with the University of Illinois have found that diet sodas are not only causing weight gain but also contributing to a variety of harmful side effects.

Bel Marra Health highlights just a few (of many) ways your body reacts negatively to diet soda:

  1. Dulling your senses to sweetness. The harshness of artificial sweeteners is much more potent compared to regular sugar, affecting your sense of taste.
  2. Increasing your risk for type-2 diabetes. Artificial sweeteners affect your body similarly to sugar. According to the University of Minnesota, those who drink diet soda are 36 percent more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
  3. Damaging your smile. Those who drink diet sodas have tooth erosion similar to those who use cocaine and methamphetamine.
  4. Putting your mental health at risk. According to the American Academy of Neurology, those who drink four or more diet sodas daily have a 30 percent higher risk for developing depression.

So, if you find yourself reaching for a can of diet soda in hopes of leading a healthier lifestyle, do your body a favor and choose water or natural fruit juices instead. Your body will thank you!

Which Cities are Friendliest?

NYC Skyline

As you may have noticed, the media doesn’t always portray New York City as one of the friendliest cities. Almost every New York-based movie or film features the “surly” New Yorker or the businessman or woman who doesn’t seem to have much regard for anyone else.

However, being from the Big Apple, I’d beg to differ. While there are a few impolite people in every crowd, I’ve encountered thousands of friendly citizens from New York!

Being a lover of all things travel, I researched which cities have reputations for being the friendliest in America. As it turns out, the Huffington Post asked readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine the same question. Based off the answers from about 77,000 readers, here are the top five most welcoming cities in America:

  1. Park City, Utah. Coming in at #1, Park City is known for its authentic people, 400 miles of wooded trails for hiking and the annual Sundance Film Festival.
  2. Savannah, Georgia. Savannah has plenty of friendly faces! The city is also known for its history and abundant nightlife.
  3. Charleston, South Carolina. This city is full of Southern hospitality, rich history and well preserved architecture.
  4. Nashville, Tennessee. Music City is known for its Southern charm and big-city feel. They’re also the only city in the United States with a life-size reproduction of the Greek Parthenon!
  5. Austin, Texas. In addition to the friendly citizens, Austin is also home to legendary live music, a burgeoning restaurant scene and unique culture.

These cities welcome visitors with open arms, but that doesn’t mean other cities can’t also! Maybe we’ll see New York City on next year’s list of America’s friendliest.

Finding the Right Balance

September is National Yoga Awareness month, and if you’ve never given this relaxing routine a shot, I highly recommend it!

Various cultures have been practicing this routine for over 5,000 years, and there are quite a few mental and physical benefits to yoga. It’s common knowledge that yoga can make you more flexible and help you cope with stress, but an article from Everyday Health shares even more unexpected benefits!

  • Yoga has been shown to fight insomnia. Practicing posture poses such as a ‘forward fold’ helps blood circulation. Improving your circulation is crucial for relaxing your body and calming your mind – helping you get to sleep.
  • Researchers also say yoga helps with memory. By reducing mental stress, we are able to recall facts and figures much more easily and use our mental capacity more efficiently.
  •  Interestingly, some yoga studies have shown reduced asthma symptoms. “Breathing practice, known as pranayama, is an essential part of yoga, and such exercises have been shown to help ease the symptoms of asthma,” one researcher reported.

You don’t have to be a connoisseur or a hardcore yogi to reap the benefits of yoga. Even trying just a few poses each day can boost your health in all sorts of ways!

The Best Diet for Weight Loss

In the ongoing quest for that elusive, miracle-working weight-loss program, many Americans have hopped on the low-carb bandwagon. However, a recent study has shown that the best way to lose weight may not involve cutting carbohydrates. Instead, it suggests fats should be targeted.

In a new Cell Metabolism study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, researchers compared the effects of low-carb versus low-fat diets in 19 obese individuals. Each participant cut their overall total calories by almost one-third of their original diets. The overall study population was then divided into two groups: half cut carbs, while the others cut fats.

The study results may not be what low-carb eaters (or die-hard followers of the Atkins Diet) want to hear.

The results suggest that while low-carb dieters may lose slightly more weight and lower their insulin levels than those who cut fat, the reduced-fat dieters actually lost more body fat than those who cut carbs.

While these findings are promising, it’s also important to remember not to deprive yourself of too much. This can actually have the opposite effect — when your body feels deprived of a certain food, it can crave it even more. These cravings can often lead to impulse-eating, which is obviously not conducive to weight loss.

Preventing Work Burnout

Being stressed at work occasionally is normal. Whether it’s completing a presentation on a deadline or sending an email to your entire organization, these are all different situations that cause our body to tense up. However, where stress changes from “normal” to irregular is when it becomes an everyday occurrence.

This is known as “work burnout” – a situation where our emotional wellbeing and job performance are affected due to daily stress. According to a Gallup survey, full-time American workers work 47 hours/week on average, just over nine hours per weekday. Within these hours, feelings of frustration and pressure can further enable work burnout. So how can we prevent this?

According to Yahoo Health, an Australian study found that work burnout could be curtailed and reversed through exercise. Using three different tests including the Perceived Stress Scale before and after four weeks of a minimum of three 30-minute sessions per week, it was found that those who exercised had less mental distress, emotional exhaustion and perceived stress.

Fitness is an important part of keeping healthy. As it turns out, it’s also an important part of preventing work burnout.