Tag Archives: health

Veganism: More Than a Fad

More than a simple diet, veganism is a lifestyle – and, in fact, it’s one that can significantly improve health and extend lifespan. The misconceptions (and, admittedly, stereotypes) of a plant-based diet have led the public to overlook the many health benefits.

Here are a few examples of how a vegan diet may help improve health:

1.      Anti-inflammatory: Disease, infection and chronic pain can all be caused by uncontrolled levels of inflammation throughout the body. A meat-based diet is highly inflammatory, while a plant-based diet is naturally alkaline-forming. The high levels of alkaline in the blood can prevent inflammation and protect you from a plethora of ailments.

2.      Better digestion: Red meat, dairy and eggs can all linger in your digestive tract for up to a week, while most plant-based foods are fully digested within hours. For the millions of Americans suffering from constipation, a vegan diet may serve as a better alternative to stool softeners and laxatives.

3.      Weight loss: One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the potential for weight loss. The amount of fiber in plants allows the body to feel full for a longer period of time without a heavy serving of calories and fat. And, there are so many different ways to cook plants, you don’t have to worry about bored!

 

How to become an early riser

We’ve all heard someone say, “The early bird gets the worm.”

It’s a cliche, sure, but it may be onto something. Company executives around the world are emulating this phrase and tout the benefits of waking up early. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wakes up every morning at 3:45 a.m. to start his day, and the Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on how 4 a.m. is the most productive hour of the day. Advocates of early mornings say it helps them jump start their day, and get ahead of the chaos.

Here are some simple tips for becoming an early riser:

1)      Go to bed early. Night owls typically don’t make great early risers. Make sure you stop drinking caffeine early in the day and try reading a book in bed to fall asleep.

2)      Slowly transition into the routine. If your morning typically starts at 7 a.m. it isn’t realistic to think that habit will change overnight. Start setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier, and work your way up to the goal.

3)      Plan your morning the night before. Having an outfit set out and breakfast prepared the night before will help you ease into your morning routine without added stress.

4)      Don’t hit snooze. As tempting as the snooze button can be, it interrupts your body from REM sleep. Set your alarm and stick to it, once you’re awake and out of bed you’ll be glad you resisted the urge to snooze.

What is Cupping?

If, like me, you’ve been keeping a close eye on the Olympics, you might have noticed the dark round spots covering several Olympian’s backs and shoulders. While these marks may look like the sign of some serious skin disease, they’re actually just the result of cupping, a Chinese healing therapy. Michael Phelps has been the biggest name to utilize this practice, and he has everyone wondering: What is this new trend?

As it turns out, it isn’t new at all. Although it’s just now making its mainstream debut at the Olympics, cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that dates back to around 2,000 years ago. During cupping therapy, a warm oxygen-free glass cup is placed on the patient’s back. The lack of oxygen draws the patient’s skin into the cup. The aim of this therapy is to release tension in sore muscles, and increase blood flow. Although the bruises may appear to tell a different story, cupping is said to be virtually pain-free.

Skeptics of the practice suggest that there are no real health benefits associated with cupping, but that hasn’t stopped household names like Michael Phelps, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston from partaking in the ancient therapy. Have you given it a try? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience!

zika mosquito

Zika: Not over yet

A few weeks ago, you couldn’t turn on the news without hearing a story on Zika Virus. While other newsworthy stories have started to take over the news cycle, many in the medical community are keeping their attention focused squarely on this infection. Here’s a short summary of why people shouldn’t be ready to stop talking about Zika quite yet:

  1. An infected person may not even know they’re infected. People very rarely die from Zika. In fact, according to the CDC website, most people don’t even get sick enough to go to the hospital and some won’t show any symptoms at all. This means that these infected people can unknowingly spread the virus.
  2. There is no vaccine. You can’t protect yourself from Zika the same way you would from the flu or chicken pox. The only way to ensure that you won’t get Zika is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.
  3. It can spread through sexual contact. Zika virus can be spread from a man to his sexual partner. According to the CDC, this is because the virus is present longer in semen than in blood. From the cases of sexual transmission, doctors have learned that the virus can spread through semen before the man has symptoms, while he is displaying symptoms and after symptoms resolve.
  4. Zika affects unborn babies the most. The virus causes birth defects in newborns. The most frequent defect of children born to a mother with the virus is microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a newborn’s head is not as large as it should be because the brain is underdeveloped.
  5. This year’s summer Olympics are in Brazil. Zika spreads to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, and Brazil’s humidity and hot temperatures foster the kind of environment where mosquitos typically thrive.

Five Ways to Protect Your Skin at the Beach

With summer in full swing, it’s time to start prepping for your highly anticipated beach time. Hopefully you’ve already scheduled a week off work, booked an oceanfront room and stocked up on flip flops and bathing suits.

So, what’s next on your to-do list? One thing that may not stand out as a priority, but most definitely should be one, is arming yourself with the necessary tools to protect your skin from the blistering heat of the summer sun. Too much sun exposure could ruin your vacation with an unpleasant sun burn, and in more serious cases contribute to skin cancer. Here are five ways to protect your skin on your next beach vacation:

1.       Apply Sunscreen. The American Academy for Dermatology recommends using a SPF 30 or higher, and reapplying approximately every two hours. Don’t forget to apply it to your ears, hands and feet too.

2.       Check the UV index. Before heading out for a day at the beach, check the predicted UV index for the area. The UV index provides information on the strength of the sun’s UV rays. If it is too high, take extra precautions with a higher SPF or consider an inside activity that day.

3.       Bring an umbrella. An umbrella can provide some much needed refuge from the hot sun. Don’t rely on the umbrella for complete protection, though, and continue to apply sunscreen regularly.

4.       Cover up. Bring a tee-shirt or a trendy cover up to slip on when taking a walk on the beach or wading in the water. Just remember: Stay away from dark colors that will attract the sun’s rays.

5.       Wear a hat. A floppy hat is the perfect all-in-one beach accessory. You’ll look stylish while protecting your scalp, face and eyes from damaging UV rays.

It’s Time for a Snack Down

Office kitchens often provide the obstacles that knock a person off the “straight and narrow” of healthy snacking. Between company-provided snacks and the box of doughnuts your coworker was kind enough to bring in, these treats can make it tough to stick to your weight goals.

There are ways to stay on the right path, however! Here are some pointers to consider when trying to block the pesky office snack cycle:

Don’t eat the same lunches constantly.

  • If you have the same sandwich or salad daily, it might be playing a role in your snack bar addiction. Switch it up and you might find that you are more satisfied!

Distract yourself.

  • If you’re craving a snack, but aren’t actually hungry, try waiting it out. It can typically take 20-30 minutes for the desire to pass, so try to do something productive that will make passing the time easier.

Bring your own snacks.

  • If you can’t stop the snacking, you will be able to control what you will be snacking on. This could help you stay away from the cheese puffs and closer to the carrots.

Get to the root of the issue.

  • It is likely that your snacking problem has less to do with an addiction to food and more to do with your job. It could be boredom, stress, lack of stimulation or fatigue. Whatever the issue is, tackling it may help lead to a reduction in your snack attacks.

Allow balance.

  • It is okay to occasionally eat a cookie or two from the snack bar. Don’t beat yourself up about it, even if you did happen to skip the celery and peanut butter. This isn’t a war against snacks, so don’t act like a failed general when you give into their allure.

What to do when you have the flu?

If you’ve ever had the flu, you can attest that it’s a miserable experience. Your muscles and joints ache; you have pain and tiredness around your eyes; you have a sense of weakness or extreme fatigue; and any assortment of a headache, fever, dry cough, sore throat and a runny nose. It makes it sound like a common cold, but it’s much worse.

 It’s a good thing February has passed because that is the most common month to get the flu. However, that doesn’t mean we are in the clear just yet! The lingering sufferers are still able to pass germs to the healthy!

 If you’ve been unfortunate enough to turn into a virus incubator, don’t fret! There are a few things you can do to help promote viral eviction:

·         Get plenty of rest.

o This might be obvious, but the flu makes you extremely tired. Don’t fight your body. I know you have to work, but you won’t be able to get work done if you can’t pay attention.

·         Increase your fluid intake.

o   Another obvious solution, but you will need all the fluids you can get. Water, sports drinks, soup, etc.

·         Sweat.

o   Sweat as much as you can. You can use a sauna or a steam room. Sweat in whatever way you can, but don’t exercise. Exercise will only hurt you while you’re trying to heal.

·         If possible, within 24 hours, get an antiviral from your doctor.

o   This can help you feel better sooner and minimize symptoms. Continue to take it easy, though. You might feel better, but your body is still in battle.

·         Dip into some Oil of Oregano.

o   Oregano contains chemicals that might help reduce cough and spasms. Oregano also might help digestion by increasing bile flow and fighting against some bacteria, viruses, fungi, intestinal worms and other parasites.

o   One drop in 8 oz. of water every few hours might help.

Owning a healthy dog or cat

As any good paw-rent can tell you, being the keeper of a fur-baby isn’t always easy. You want to make sure they’re happy, well-fed and entertained. In a society where people are having less children, pets are taking their spots and it is much easier to spoil them. However, like children, pets are also at risk for obesity.

 It is estimated that 54 percent of pets in the US are obese. This puts them at a higher risk for medical related illnesses, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Kidney Disease
  • Many Forms of Cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Limiting your pet’s diet might be easier if it is a dog. Dogs are typically happy as long as someone’s there to play or cuddle. It’s cat owners that seem to struggle the most when addressing issues of obesity with their cat overlords. A recent New York Times article points out a number of fears that cat owners have when trying to correct their pet’s diet. Many owners fear it will lead to increased aggression, depression and vindictiveness.

According to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, however, many owners reported that their cats were actually more affectionate after limiting their diets. So, take a deep breath and feel confident, knowing your dog or cat won’t hate you if their diet starts to tighten up a bit. They’ll thank you in the long run.

Diet Right

If you’re still hanging on and sticking with your New Year’s diet – first off, well done! You’ve made it farther than most. Secondly, there are a few pointers to help you ensure you’re going about dieting in the right way:

1.       Most individuals attempting to change their diets avoid snacking throughout the day. By the time dinner comes around, they are starving and more likely to indulge. Make sure you’re eating balanced meals throughout the day so you aren’t more tempted to quit your mission to a healthier lifestyle.

2.      “Don’t eat before bed or you’ll gain weight,” is a common myth. Eating before sleeping will not make you more likely to gain weight than any other time. The slowed digestion will not increase the likelihood of your body storing your meal as fat. It will likely lead to you not getting a comfortable night’s rest, though. If you can, make sure you eat a few hours before bed – you’ll likely feel better in the morning.

3.       It’s also important that if you’re eating late, you’re still eating smart. Eat foods that help make up for the vitamins, minerals and proteins used throughout the day.

4.      Going out to dinner while attempting to change your diet can be very difficult, especially if you’re trying to cut back on fats and oils. If you’re out to eat, try to ask for no sauce or dressing. They can easily turn your healthy meal into a “cheat-day” meal.

The fact that you’re making improvements to better yourself is important. If you fall off the wagon, it’s fine, as long as you are committed to getting back on. Try to keep these tips in mind as sticking to your diet starts to become more demanding!

Is Zika The New Ebola?

Headline after headline, today’s media is filled with Zika, Zika, Zika. People are treating it similarly to Ebola; however, the healthcare community is being more proactive this time. While the Zika virus poses a big risk to developing fetuses, it’s little more than a mild irritation to everyone else.

Here are the facts:

  • Zika has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, making it a threat to pregnant women.
    • Microcephaly occurs when a person has a brain or head size so small that it prevents proper development.
  • Typically spread through mosquitoes, but can be spread by people – and is sexually transmittable.
  • The symptoms are mild.
    • 80 percent of those infected have no symptoms.
    • If symptoms occur, they are usually a fever and a rash.
    • Other symptoms can be muscle & joint pain, pain behind eyes, headaches and conjunctivitis (pink-eye).
    • Usually lasts two to seven days.
    • Over-the-counter medicine can help relieve some of the symptoms.

A new disease spreading rampant around the world is terrifying, but this disease is essentially harmless to most. If you are pregnant and concerned about contracting the virus, make sure you are wearing a lot of insect repellant. If you’re pregnant, believe you’re at risk and sexually active, make sure your partner is also wearing insect repellent to ensure the pregnancy will go without any additional complications.

Zika isn’t the new Ebola, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be safe if you could be putting someone else at risk.