Monthly Archives: December 2015

10 Year-End Tips for Eating Healthier

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It’s been a great year, and we want to celebrate by sharing 10 year-end tips for eating healthier with you to ring in what promises to be an awesome 2016. I’ve begun training for a marathon on the 1st of May earlier this week, and my goal is to get there totally prepared without injury, and to do something about revealing my ab muscles this year. Do you have any resolutions? If you do scroll down to the bottom of this page and leave a comment.

1) Drink water

This is simple, effective, and more necessary for your body’s best functions than most people want to believe. If you drink at least two glasses of water before breakfast, one glass before every meal, and a total of eight a day you’ll not only be hydrating yourself properly, but the water you take in before food prepares your digestive tissues as well as helping you to feel full by eating less.

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4 Telltale Signs That You’re Working Out Too Hard

Healthy eating and exercising regularly are the two best things you can do to help you live a long and healthy life. Most of us concerned with our health closely watch what we eat but we don’t always recognize the less obvious signs that we are over-training.

We usually recognize these obvious signs of over-training:

• Dehydration
• Dizziness
• Trouble breathing or maintaining a conversation
• Disorientation, foggy mental processing
• Rapid heart beat

But what about the less obvious ones? Many dismiss these four as nothing when in fact they are your body telling you something:

1) Withdrawal Symptoms

Exercising can be as addictive as drugs. About every 8 weeks or so, exercisers should take a week off for their body to recuperate and heal. If you find you cannot go that long without exercising and you start to experience withdrawal symptoms, you may be suffering from exercise addiction. Get some professional help.

2) Hormonal Imbalances

Over-training in women can lead to hormone imbalances that manifest themselves in skipped periods. If you don’t have a period for six months in a row, see a doctor as you might be suffering from amenorrhea that can be caused by excessive exercising.

High intensity exercising over a long period of time can also cause excess levels of cortisol in both sexes. Elevated levels of the “stress hormone” can manifest itself in decreased testosterone and a weakened immune system.

3) Weakened Immune System

Our immune systems are slightly depressed right after exercising, but soon recover. However if you are over-training, your immune system stays depressed which increases your risk of getting sick more often than you should. If you often experience flu-like systems, but don’t develop the flu, it could be a sign you are over-training.

4) Chronic Fatigue

Are you always tired or getting progressively more tired as time goes on, even after your recovery period? It could be caused from over-training. That is why fitness professionals recommend taking one week off of training approximately every two months. If you are still chronically fatigued even after taking a week off, see your healthcare professional.

If you are training a lot, then you need to be especially vigilant for any of the above signs of over-training. Many can lead to serious health-related problems if not corrected quickly. Don’t be afraid to go to your healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. Don’t be a victim of your own training.

Why Are Processed Foods Bad for You?

Do you love fast food burgers, baked goods and delivery pizza? If so, you are eating processed foods. When you take a bite out of an apple or eat banana, you are enjoying a food that is free of processing (as long as the apple is not dipped in caramel, and the banana is not found in banana cream pie). As far as your health is concerned, you should limit the amount of processed foods you eat.

What Is a Processed Food?

The International Food Information Council Foundation defines processed food as:

Any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat.”

In that definition, simply chopping up vegetables before you eat them qualifies for the processed definition. In most cases however, processed food means “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.”

That is the definition from the United States Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. So simply by cooking your food, you are technically processing it. The more processes your food goes through before it gets into your body, the less nutrition it provides.

What Makes Processed Food so Bad?

Looking at the above definitions, you can see that foods you eat at restaurants, baked goods, sodas and many of the “ready-to-eat” meals you purchase at your grocer are heavily processed. Food manufacturers use refined sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, preservatives, steroids, trans fats and other unhealthy additives to extend the shelf life of the products they sell.

Unfortunately, most heavily processed foods deliver little nutritional value.

The more things you do to a natural ingredient like a fruit or vegetable, the further you strip it of its nutrients, minerals and vitamins. When all the nutritionally poor ingredients mentioned above are added to that product, it becomes even unhealthier still.

This leads to what are called “empty calories”. That is why you can eat an overabundance of processed foods, and your brain will still send a hunger signal. It notices you have received little or no nutrition, so it tells you to eat more. Since processed food in many cases is extremely addictive, you reach out for the nutrient-poor food you just ate, and create an unhealthy eating cycle.

Chemicals like sugar and salt, found in extremely high quantities in processed foods, lead to heart conditions, overweight and obesity, diabetes and other health problems. This is the danger of addictive processed foods. They deliver next to no nutrition, and trade naturally healthy ingredients with unhealthy chemicals and compounds. Eat more raw foods, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables with little processing and you can avoid the unhealthy negative side effects of processed food.

10 Ways To Improve Your Overall Immunity

What Is The Immune System

The immune system is a collection of special cells, organs, and substances that defends the body against infection and illness.

It monitors the body at the cellular level and attempts to rid it of anything unfamiliar.

Antigens

Any substance that enters the body that the immune system does not recognize is known as an antigen. When an antigen enters our bodies, the immune response is triggered and the attack to get rid of it begins. Our immune system has the ability to destroy anything containing a particular antigen, including, germs, viruses, and cancer cells.

It’s safe to say that without our immunity, we wouldn’t be around too long because it is a tireless warrior protecting our health. There are bacteria and viruses everywhere, not to mention helminths (worms) and tiny mites that carry infection and our immune systems continuously fight all types of bacteria, viruses and various parasites.

We also use our immunity to fight and kill cancerous cells that can pop up in our systems and while of course it is not always successful as people still get cancer, those with a poor immune system get cancer at higher rates than individuals who take care of their immune system.

It is therefore of great importance to be sure and take care of our immune system health. Thankfully, some of the ways in which we can do this are also beneficial in other ways to our overall health.

What are some ways we can maximize the effectiveness of our immune system to stay as healthy as possible? Let’s look at a few:

1. Get immunized. Every year, you are given the opportunity to get an influenza shot. This “shot in the arm” will literally boost your immunity against the likely influenza viruses floating around through the winter months. Older people should get the Pneumovax vaccine, which prevents pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria.

2. Eat well. This means getting enough nutrition through fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. There are nutrients in these foods that act as antioxidants, scavenging your body for oxygen free radicals that can damage cellular systems. Research has shown that increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet can improve the ability of immunizations to “take hold.”

3. Stay away from tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke ruins immunity, even if you aren’t the actual smoker. Kids have an increased risk of getting middle ear infections and lung infections when exposed to second hand smoke by way of parents or family members smoking around them. Adults are more prone to getting bronchitis and pneumonia when exposed to tobacco smoke. The toxic ingredients in smoke lessen your ability to fight off all kinds of infections.

4. Cut down on alcohol. Those who excessively drink alcohol have an increased risk of getting infections from a poor immune system. Pulmonary infections are particularly likely to happen in heavy drinkers.

5. Eat probiotics. Probiotics are one of the best things to reach mainstream medicine. Probiotics are found in some yogurts as well as in capsule form. They consist of living spores of healthy bacteria or living organisms themselves. They colonize the gut and displace the “bad bacteria” that can make you sick. With probiotics, you can have a healthier gut immune system and can avoid gastrointestinal upset from bacteria or fungi in the gut.

6. Eat garlic. Garlic is an antimicrobial agent in and of itself. It boosts the immune system in a general way but is inactivated by heat. For this reason, you should add garlic to foods just before serving the food.

7. Get vitamin D. Many people in the Northern Hemisphere are deficient in vitamin D and this can negatively affect immunity, particularly in the winter months. You can get vitamin D with exposure to the sun or you can take a vitamin D supplement. As some people need a lot of vitamin D and others don’t need as much, have your vitamin D level checked periodically until you find a dosage of vitamin D that brings your level into the normal range. In the summertime, just ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight per day can be a big benefit to your immune system.

8. Eat shitake and Maitake mushrooms. Studies have shown that really concentrated extracts of these types of medicinal mushrooms have enhanced the immune system of women who have breast cancer. While eating the mushroom alone hasn’t been studied, it may have a beneficial effect on the immune system of otherwise healthy people.

9. Immune Supporting Herbs. There are tons of immune-supportive herbs out there and probably yet to be developed. Some important ones are eleuthero, Asian ginseng, astragalus, and American ginseng. These have been used in Chinese medicine for millennia to prevent infection and keep the body healthy. They can be found at health food stores everywhere and even at certain pharmacies.

10. Echinacea tincture. Echinacea is good for respiratory infections, especially when taken early in the course of the infection. Make a tincture yourself or get one from a reputable herbalist.

5 Health Concerns Men Should Never Procrastinate About

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and taking care of our emotional well-being are all-important elements of living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining an optimal level of health. Medical experts and research has confirmed repeatedly that the lifestyle choices we make are crucial for healthy aging, and preventing various diseases that can result in premature death.

However, prevention goes a step beyond, with preventative medical care that can alert both men and women to various medical conditions that can lead to serious complications that can affect health and shorten one’s lifespan. Early detection and monitoring for high-risk conditions is an essential element of good healthcare.

When it comes to healthcare, men tend to see doctors less and do not pay as much attention to their possible health concerns as women do. They can often go years between doctors’ visits—missing valuable opportunities for screening and detection of possible physical diseases.

Here are some health concerns worth keeping on top of so that you don’t end up with unnecessary complications:

• High blood pressure: Men are just as prone to high blood pressure as women. High blood pressure is largely hereditary but can be influenced by environmental factors such as caffeine intake, intake of salt, and obesity. Unless the blood pressure is extremely high, you will have no symptoms and the blood pressure will be left unchecked and unnoticed. Visit your doctor every five years or so to have your blood pressure obtained. Try to check your blood pressure at stations found in most pharmacies. Numbers of 140/90 or greater bear a visit to your doctor.

• Colon cancer: Colon cancer is the second largest cause of cancer death among men. Fortunately, it is largely preventable by being screened for colon cancer, beginning at age 50 (and sooner if it runs in the family). It involves having a colorectal specialist insert a camera at the end of a flexible tube into the colon to look for and remove cancer-causing polyps. This procedure is called a colonoscopy and it should be repeated every ten years as a screening measure, starting at 50 years of age. Keeping a high fiber diet that is low in fat can also reduce the risks of colon cancer.

• Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, after skin cancer. Doctors know that there are basically two types of prostate cancer—slow growing and fast growing. Either way, it is worth getting screened for prostate cancer through the use of digital rectal examination every five years at the doctor’s office. Some doctors also draw blood for prostate specific antigen or PSA. This number can be high in enlarged prostate conditions or in prostate cancer. If it is elevated, doctors can try and determine if it is related to cancer or not.

• Smoking Cessation: Lung cancer caused by smoking is the number one cause of cancer deaths in America. The simplest way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to never smoke or to stop smoking as soon as possible. There are many ways to quit smoking, including medications like Chantix® or nicotine replacement modalities. Gum, lozenges and patches are available that contain nicotine to help you get off the smoking habit. There are even vapor cigarettes that can provide nicotine but not the harmful carcinogens. The Centers For Disease Control recommend only one screening test for lung cancer, known as the low-dose computed tomography, through the test is not always accurate and has its own risk factors. The LDCT uses an X-ray machine that scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to created detailed pictures of the lungs.

The CDC recommends yearly lung screenings for those who: have a history of heavy smoking, smoke now or have quit within the last 15 years and are between 55 and 80 years old. Heavy smoking is defined as smoking at least one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. A 30 pack-year history can equate to 1 pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.

• Heart Disease: Men are at a greater risk of heart disease than women are and must begin making strides toward lowering their risk early in life. Things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, and family history contribute to a high risk of heart disease. Especially with men who have family histories, measures should be taken to reduce the other risk factors. This means adopting a heart healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat. It means a commitment to exercise at least thirty minutes per day, five days a week. Finally it means seeing a doctor to find out about risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. If these are elevated, your doctor may prescribe medications that can further reduce your risk of getting a heart attack.

• The Family Connection: Besides all the conditions listed above, it is also a good idea to find out about any medical conditions that run in the family as genetics can play a big role in the development of certain diseases.

Oftentimes, children, parents, and grandparents share similar health problems because inherited factors put family members at risk through genes. Disease often results from the combined effects of minor changes in multiple genes, and each gene then contributes in a small way to the symptoms of and development of disease.

Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer account for 7 of every 10 deaths in the United States, and they are considered genetic diseases because they run in families. Gathering a detailed family history can give you important information as to your risk factors and that awareness can be used to monitor for and possibly prevent the onset of problems whenever possible.