Thursday, January 17, 2013

50 Ways To Increase Your Energy Naturally

With the everyday demands of life, we often find ourselves drained before the end of the day. With holding down a steady job, perhaps classes on top of work, spending time with family, chores, maybe a second job, or a hobby(on top of who knows what else!), it is no wonder you’re on E. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Below is a comprehensive list of fifty simple tips and techniques to help you power up so you can get the most out of life.

1. Sip water throughout the day–If you experience an energy crash at work, try sipping water throughout the day. Not only does sipping water keep you hydrated, but it also keeps your blood circulating (which provides you with more energy). Take 3-6 bottles of water to work and refill when necessary.

2. Turn up the volume–If you’re at work, you might want to bring headphones. Otherwise, crank up the volume to some of your favorite jams and sing along. The volume will boost your adrenaline.

3. Take care of your allergy issues–Allergies suck and they also suck the energy out of you, making you feel tired. Try going for non-drowsy meds so that you aren’t woozy and sleepy.

4. Get your rest–The doctor recommended 7-9 hours of sleep is critical. If you don’t get enough rest, your body will function accordingly. Getting too much sleep will also drain you.

5. Indulge in chocolate–But don’t get carried away. Too much sugar will do you no good, but a piece (or two) of chocolate when you’re feeling slowed down will give you the boost you need to stay alert. Chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine and goes to work on endorphins.

6. Have a healthy snack–Go for a trail mix. Nuts are known to give energy boosts. A few hours after we eat lunch can cause sleepiness. What better time to indulge in a healthy snack of nuts, apples and peanut butter, berries, yogurt, or a protein bar.

7. Take a power nap–These gigs are an excellent and proven way to revamp your energy level. The key to taking a power nap is to not nap for too long, otherwise you’ll be more tired than you were before the nap. Aim for 10-20 minutes.

8. Stimulate your senses–Try lighting an incense, candle, or oil to awaken your senses thus awakening your mind. Try peppermint or lavender.

9. Take a brisk walk-Walking will get your heart pumping, blood flowing, and brain alert.

10. Chew gum-Yet another trick that somehow works to keep you alert and focused. Perhaps the exercise of the jaws are to thank.

11. Wear bright colors–Bright colors are attractive colors. The idea is that people find you more approachable and are more likely to respond to you or even strike up a conversation. Brighten your way to more energy by attracting people to socialize with you.

12. Laugh your head off-Laughing is an awesome antidote for energy. As the saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Find a silly comedy sketch on your smart phone, laptop or desktop and laugh your way to alertness.

13. Rise and shine at the same time everyday–This way your body stays on balance. Try to go to bed the same time every night and wake up the same time every morning. Even on weekends.

14. Limit caffeine-Caffeine to stay awake isn’t the best solution in the long run as the body will crash in the afternoon (or during the worst of times if working overnight) making you even more tired.

15. Eat less carbs–Sure, we need carbohydrates for energy, but consumption of too many (or the wrong type) can leave you feeling sluggish.

16. Limit energy drinks–But ultimately they should be avoided and always lead to crash. These short-term energy supplements only worsen your productivity over time until they no longer do the trick.

17. Fill up on fiber–Soluble fiber works against the absorption of sugar, slowing it to avoid a sugar rush and crash.

18. Stretch–Stretching is not only good for the tendons and muscles, but it helps to stimulate blood flow to the brain.

19. Get your Vitamin C–This vitamin allows for more absorption of food nutrients and has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome when there is a deficiency. Whether it’s via orange juice, citrus fruits or supplements, make sure you are getting the required daily dose.

20. Get your required B vitamins–B vitamins are just as important as Vitamin C as it aids in the conversion of blood sugar to usable energy. A well-balanced diet, supplements or injections are ways to ensure the required amounts are met.

21. Kick the habit–It’s no secret that smoking causes horrific effects within the body. Nicotine affects sleep which leads to irritability the next day. And then smoking picks up to aid the irritation. And then a monstrosity of a cycle begins.

22. Play with your pets–Running with Rover and teasing Kitty with a toy fishing pole is enough to increase your energy levels while at the same time boosting your mood.

23. Watch a soap opera or reality show–Yes, they are full of suspense. If you can’t catch them live, record them and watch them when you need an emotional rush to keep you awake.

24. Playstation Please–Or, Xbox, Wii (or even on your PC). Like soap operas, playing video games are suspenseful and can give you the rush of energy you need.

25. Eat mini meals–Consuming smaller, more frequent meals will keep you evenly energized versus downing a heavy meal for lunch or dinner or high fat/sugary foods can leave you feeling miserable shortly after in terms of energy.

26. Water on your face trick–Not just water on the face, but a shower or bath works wonders. Showers stimulate circulation, leaving you feeling energized afterward.

27. Get organized–Spring cleaning and organizing your home or office to the T can seriously impact on your energy levels. Not only will you get a workout, but you won’t have to use up too much energy for a while thereafter by trying to find things you misplaced.

28. Take a vacation–When you’re burnt out and you know it, you know you need to get away, even for just a weekend. Take this time to sleep in or enjoy leisurely activities, or surround yourself with friends/family for a much-needed great time. Before you know it, you’ll be more energized and productive when you return to your normal routine.

29. Give yourself a break–Continuous multitasking is a challenging ordeal. Go easy on yourself at times when you’re feeling the most exhausted. Order out instead of cook. Leave the dishes for the next day, the laundry for the weekend.

30. Think positive–Bad days are inevitable. But pessimistic thoughts can further drain you while optimistic thoughts or looking at the situation from a more positive angle can keep you upbeat and more energetic.

31. Eat a healthy breakfast–But not a highly-fattening breakfast that can zap your energy shortly after eating it. If you crave pancakes with butter and syrup, skip the sausage and maybe even the coffee. A bowl of nutritious cereal or a muffin with a piece of fruit and a cup of yogurt with granola is a much lighter and wiser choice for an energetic start.

32. Lose weight–It is no secret that excess weight can leave you literally breathless and low on energy. It is no secret that shedding excess pounds can make you feel much healthier and lighter. Additionally, you carry around less weight and have significantly lowered your chances of developing a number of health problems.

33. Try yoga–Yoga not only offers improved mental and emotional benefits but has also been known to increase alertness and overall improved physical fitness.

34. Get some sunlight–Sluggishness or sleepiness can be exacerbated by cool temperatures. When you’re cold, you think of getting warm. Once warm, you’re apt to doze into a cozy nap. Often times public places, work places and schools are freezing cold. Take every opportunity to step outside in the sunlight to warm up and wake up. Additionally, sunlight can alter brain chemicals, thus adding to a boost in mood.

35. Lay off the afternoon cocktails–Sure, cocktails help you relax, but alcohol can also worsen sleepiness. Not a good thing if you have to clock back in.

36. Re-evaluate your physical activity–If you don’t exercise, or you do so only a few times a week, try creating a plan to workout 5 days per week for 20-30 minutes per day doing rigorous workouts (after consulting with a physician first). A brisk walk, swim, jog, run, kickboxing or aerobic workout can make a significant difference.

37. Get a massage–A message is the ultimate gift of renewal to yourself. Not only will your masseuse rid your body of toxins and stress buildup, he/she will supercharge your immune system and boost your mood and even appearance if you’re overdue for such relief.

38. Make love more often–While the opposite is true that making love will put you to sleep, it is also true that it can give you energy by releasing endorphins.

39. Work out in the AM–While many people opt to hit the gym in the evening or after work, a morning workout helps you to better start your day with increased blood circulation and the release of endorphins to keep you alert. You may have to wake up extra, but you can also go to bed earlier after a more productive day. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to just go home after work and unwind to something more leisurely?

40. Get a makeover–A new cut, color, style, manicure, pedicure, makeup or clothing style makeover are enough create an instant self-esteem boost. With this boost also comes newfound energy as you (and others) are left to admire the new look for some time.

41. Revamp your to-do list–Be realistic with what you can accomplish on a daily basis. Creating a long list may offer a sense of relief to some. For others, it can be dreadful and result in procrastination. Try creating a to-do list for three days at a time avoid overwhelmance. Categorize your list into Now and Later tasks.

42. Have your thyroid checked–Your thyroid may be the culprit and you may not have a clue unless you get it checked out.

43. Stop eating 6 hours before you go to bed–Easier said than done, but you’ll notice a major difference in how comfortably you sleep. Besides, eating heavily before you snooze may lead to nightmares!

44. Keep a watch on your blood pressure–Not only can high blood pressure lead to heart attack, stroke and heart disease, but it can also leave you low on energy as your heart has to work extra hard to keep blood circulated through the body.

45. Keep tabs on your iron levels–Many people, especially women, aren’t aware they are anemic. Anemia can leave you feeling cold and low on energy. As with your thyroid and blood pressure, have your iron levels checked to see if anemia may be the problem.

46. Increase your magnesium consumption–Magnesium is a key mineral necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions the body must perform. Load up on cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, fish and whole grains.

47. Deal with anger–Anger is draining as it takes a tremendous amount of energy to contain it. Try a kickboxing, martial arts, yoga or Pilates class, or run/walk/job a long distance so that the physical activity can alter the serotonin levels in your brain, which produces a calming effect.

48. Yogurt–Yogurt is a healthy, low-fat snack that contains live cultures that regulate the digestive system. A cleaner system allows for more energy.

49. Spend more time socializing offline–Social media can be fun and convenient, but nothing beats meeting up with friends in person to have a good time. Host a get-together or make arrangements to meet up for lunch/dinner/drinks and socialize your way to more energy.

50. Journaling–Writing down your emotions, ideas, experiences and aspirations is an excellent way to put your life in perspective. Writing provides a release and allows for more optimistic thoughts or better feelings afterward. Thus, journaling is another way to power up.
I hope this list of 50 ways to increase your energy level naturally helps you out. Try several items from the list, some will work better for you than others. Good Luck!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fifty ways to live to 100

Besse Berry Cooper was an American supercentenarian who was the world's oldest living person from June 21, 2011, until her death. Wikipedia

Born: August 26, 1896, Sullivan County
Died: December 4, 2012, Monroe - at the age of 116.

Her secret to long life? As American Besse once put it: “I don't eat junk food, and I mind my own business.” but there are many other ways - backed by science - to boost your longevity. Here’s the latest thinking ...

Read a magazine upside down
Consciously going outside your comfort zone every day, such as reading upside down, puts the brain under mild stress, damaging the cells - in repairing this damage your body also repairs age-related damage, says Dr Marios Kyriazis, a U.S. ageing expert.

He suggests writing with your non-dominant hand, arguing the opposite to what you passionately believe, even listening to music you loathe.

Eat something red
‘A red pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange, beetroot contains nitrates that help to relax blood vessels, and tomatoes are packed with lycopene (a powerful antioxidant), especially when cooked, which may help protect against cancer, heart disease and other health problems,’ says Dr Susan Jebb, of the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research unit in Cambridge.

‘And red grapes are rich in resveratrol, thought to have anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventing and cholesterol-lowering properties.’

Run a mile as fast as you can
The speed at which you can run a mile in your 40s and 50s is a spooky prediction of heart disease 30 or 40 years later, according to a study by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas.

For men, eight minutes is good; for women, nine. But if you struggle to do it in ten minutes (12 minutes for women), you have 30 percent greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. Try walking the distance briskly first. When this becomes easy, break into a jog for a few yards at a time, gradually building up.

Be careful leaving public loos
You might be good about washing your hands after the loo, but there’s no guarantee the person before you was as virtuous. This means the main door handle can be a bacteria hotspot, increasing the risk of infection and putting the immune system under unnecessary strain.

‘I always try to exit using the lower part of the handle, not the part that is grasped by the whole hand - and hope for the best!’ says Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen.

Have a banana
Reduce your blood pressure (and risk of strokes and heart disease) by increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, fruit juice and dried fruit.

‘Potassium helps counteract the damaging effects of excess salt in the diet,’ says nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker.
The recommended daily dose of potassium is 3.5g; to lower blood pressure, you need 4.7g - found in precisely one banana.

Practise squatting

Squatting - lowering yourself as if to sit on a chair, hovering, then standing again - is widely regarded as the single most effective muscle-strengthening exercise of all (and the closest one movement gets to a full-body exercise). It’s important to keep agile so you can get out of a chair (or off the loo) in old age, and to prevent falls.

Drink one tea a day
This has been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones and even boost survival rate following a heart attack by 28 percent. Researchers at Harvard Medical School believe antioxidants in tea may help the blood vessels relax.

Go to bed an hour earlier
Just one extra hour in bed could be enough to lower your blood pressure in as little as six weeks.

A recent study from Harvard Business School of people who slept for seven hours or less a night found that going to bed an hour earlier led to a significant drop in blood pressure (and risk of heart attack and strokes).

The researchers think too little sleep affects the body’s ability to deal with stress hormones.

Take yogurt drinks to hospital
Patients who take a daily probiotic drink in hospital have a reduced risk of the superbug clostridium difficile (C.diff).

‘The simple probiotic in a yogurt drink will not only keep your bowel healthy, but has been shown to have a positive effect on immunity,’ says Dr Sarah Schenker.
‘Many experts believe probiotics provide a better line of defence for hospital patients than hand gels and washing.’

One Scandinavian study showed taking a probiotic a few days before surgery ‘significantly’ reduced the risk of post-operative infections.

Floss every day
Don’t just floss when food gets stuck. ‘Flossing nightly can make a significant difference to how fast you age,’ says Dr Michael Roizen, a leading US anti-ageing expert.

‘It can take as much as 6.4 years off your age.’ Bacteria that cause tooth decay trigger inflammation, which in the arteries is ‘a significant precursor of heart disease’ (flossing may also protect against diabetes and dementia).

Breathe with a straw
Take a few minutes each day to take deep, long breaths through a straw - with this simple exercise you end up breathing more deeply, which can improve your lung function and capacity (which otherwise reduce with age), slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure, says Dr Mike Moreno, author of The 17-Day Plan To Stop Aging.

Keep your home tidy
The best predictor of longevity is how conscientious you are, say US psychologists Dr Howard Friedman and Dr Leslie Martin, who’ve made a study of longevity.

This means being careful with money, thoughtful, detail-oriented and putting everything back where it belongs.

Conscientious people may have more of the brain chemical serotonin, which affects how much they eat and how well they sleep.

They also appear to be naturally drawn into healthier situations and relationships.

Breakfast with bacon, not sausage
Eating lean trimmed bacon instead of bangers for breakfast will cut your intake of artery-clogging saturated fat that can increase your risk of heart attack and dementia.

‘Lean bacon is 332 calories per 100g, with 22.3g of fat; a grilled sausage is 318 calories per 100g and 24.6g of fat,’ says dietitian Lorraine McCreary. ‘But sausages tend to be heavier, so you’ll consume more calories in one sitting.’

Don’t fear the worst
Worrying about your health is not a bad thing, as you’re more likely to take action.

But US researchers have found ‘catastrophisers’ - people who see impending doom everywhere - are more likely to take risks because they figure life is short and brutish anyway, and are more likely to die from accidents or violence.

When they get ill, they become despondent and unmotivated, refusing to take their pills.

Walk every day
Research shows a short walk is enough to bulk up your brain - and slow down memory decline.

One study of elderly sedentary people who covered six miles a week found they did better in memory and decision-making tests after six months - possibly because greater activity triggered new brain cells, as well as new blood vessels and connections between the brain cells.

Less on your plate
US research shows rats, mice, flies and monkeys live up to twice as long when their food intake is reduced by a third.

It’s thought eating less means the metabolism has less work, and so slows down, producing fewer damaging ‘free radicals’.

Choose healthy pals
Sociability isn’t as protective of health as you might think - the key is spending time with healthy people because our friends have been shown to have a huge unconscious influence over our behaviour.

Overweight friends can be particularly harmful. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found people are most likely to become obese if they have a close friend who’s obese - even if the friend lived hundreds of miles away.

A fat best friend means you have a 171 percent greater chance of becoming fat, too.

Get gardening
‘Gardening combines cardiovascular exercise with flexibility, endurance and muscle strength - and real benefits are often obtained in a far more enjoyable manner than by pounding away on a treadmill for hours,’ says GP and anti-ageing expert Dr Roger Henderson. An hour’s steady gardening is equivalent to a five-mile walk. If you don’t do any other form of exercise, garden three to four times a week.

Halve selenium pills
The antioxidant selenium, which comes from soil, is widely accepted as an important trace mineral with cancer-protective benefits.

Modern farming practices mean we’re missing out. However, too much is just as bad as too little (and may be linked to a greater risk of type-2 diabetes). Women need 50-60mcg a day, men up to 100mcg, but it’s hard to find selenium supplements at this level. So split a 100mcg pill, or take a tablet every other day (or eat a Brazil nut - each contains nearly 100mcg).

Have an extra onion
One 80g onion per person (in bolognese, say) is a sneaky way to add to your five portions of fruit and vegetables.

Onions are thought to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer and ovarian cancer - they’re rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that prevents harmful enzymes from triggering inflammation, and contain sulphur compounds that boost the immune system.


Drink milk

Milk’s vitamin D content makes it an effective anti-inflammatory, says anti-ageing expert Dr Mike Moreno. ‘Low levels of vitamin D in the blood have been linked to both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis - two diseases with inflammation as the culprit,’ he says.


Keep fruit out of the fridge

Keeping fruit at room temperature has been shown to boost its health-giving properties. Brightly coloured fruit such as tomatoes, watermelon, and red and pink grapefruit stored at room temperature contain double the beta carotene (which the body metabolises into vitamin A) as chilled fruit.

They’ll also have 20 times more lycopene (another powerful antioxidant) because the warmth allows them to continue ripening.

A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture also found uncut fully ripe melons kept at room temperature overnight increased their levels of carotenoids (disease-fighting substances) from 11 to 40?percent, compared with those in the fridge.

Have sex at least twice a week
A study of men aged 45-50 in South Wales (the Caerphilly Cohort Study) found that regular sex has a protective effect - those lucky Welshmen who enjoyed frequent orgasms (twice a week) had a 50 percent lower risk of early death than those who missed out.

One US expert estimates sex at least three times a week can add two years to your life (by increasing heart rate and blood flow) - do it every day and your life expectancy could increase by eight years!

In addition to boosting circulation and reducing stress, sex releases DHEA, a building block of testosterone which helps repair and heal tissue; it’s also a natural anti-depressant, especially for women.

Forget something every day
Many age-related memory problems are not caused by shrivelling brain cells, but because we try to hold too much in our heads, says Dr John Medina, a leading US brain researcher.

‘Middle-life brains have a really hard time blocking out unnecessary information.’

His solution: consciously dropping unimportant pieces of information to free up space - so let the bus timetable, the names of people you met at dinner, the plot of the TV soap opera drift from your mind.

Ditch the scales
It’s not so much your weight as the amount of fat around your middle that matters - waist measurement is a better predictor of heart disease than BMI (body mass index) because it can point to visceral fat, the dangerous fat around the organs.

For a quick check, lie on your back on the floor - if your tummy flattens, your fat is mainly subcutaneous; a ‘dome’ or paunch indicates visceral fat that could shorten your life.

Build up your biceps
Anti-ageing expert Dr Miriam Nelson, of Tufts University, Massachusetts, says weight lifting is great for anti-ageing.

In a study of 40 post-menopausal women who did strength training, twice a week for 30 minutes, she found after a year ‘their bodies had become 15 to 20 years younger (in terms of restoring muscle mass) and they all regained bone density instead of losing it, as women normally do at that age.’

Skip the sunscreen
The body’s ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight is reduced with age, and lower levels affects your immunity and bones. The over-60s are advised to have a daily 10mcg supplement as well as spending a little time in the sun (ideally 20 minutes a day).

Don’t be TOO happy
Many people believe happiness and optimism are the secret of long life, but research by US psychologists Dr Howard Friedman and Dr Leslie Martin found cheerful children are less likely to live to an old age - the link between cheerfulness and early death was as significant as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

It’s thought relentlessly happy people may be dangerously prone to underestimate risks to their health and thereby fail to take precautions or follow medical advice.

Smile broadly
Smiling triggers the release of chemicals that can make you feel happier, even if you’re faking the grin, but a study at Wayne State University in Michigan showed the wider (and more authentic) your smile, the longer you’ll live - possibly because the smile reflects positive emotion which has been linked to physical and mental well-being.

Eat prunes
Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture have developed a rating scale for the antioxidant content in food - raisins, blueberries and blackberries are ‘super foods’, containing 20 times the antioxidant power of other foods. But top of the list is the humble prune.

Get a challenging job
You’d think a no-stress job would be less harmful, but The Longevity Project, a study of the lives of 1,500 people over 80 years, found hard work and accomplishment is a strong predictor of long life - and those with the most career success were the least likely to die young.

Tell the truth
Lying can trigger stress hormones that increase heart rate and breathing, slow digestion and cause tension and hypersensitivity in muscles and nerve fibres.

Australian researchers found that people instructed to stop telling lies showed significant improvements in health in just ten weeks, with fewer mental health complaints (such as tension) and fewer physical complaints (sore throats and headaches).

One wine a night
Try stopping at one glass (125ml) of red a night (the equivalent of one unit of alcohol) - studies show this provides flavonoids and resveratrol, compounds which could reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

But drinking three units may be enough to increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast and bowel.

Be female
The extra X chromosome women have makes them more resilient when faced with attacks on their immunity, according to a study by Ghent University in Belgium. The researchers identified something called ‘mircoRNA’ which has important biological effects - women appear to have more microRNAs on their additional X chromosome.

Live on a hill
Seven out of ten of the longest-living communities in the US are mountain-based, and in the tiny Sardinian mountain town of Ovodda, as many men as women live to be 100.

Whether it’s the fresh air, or the fact you’re doing a lot of walking uphill (using major muscle groups and giving your heart a good workout), moving up in the world could extend your life.

No more peanuts
There are 622 calories in a 100g fistful - which you can nibble at without even thinking. It would take an hour of swimming to burn off that snack. Stick to crudites (celery, carrots, peppers) instead.

Get on with your parents
A study by Harvard Medical School showed that 91 percent of men who said (in the Fifties) that they weren’t particularly close to their parents ended up developing high blood pressure, alcoholism or heart disease by mid-life.

Only 44 percent of participants who had reported a ‘warm’ relationship with their parents developed these serious illnesses. The researchers believe this shows just how important close relationships are for fostering healing and promoting survival.

Argue with your partner
Don’t bottle it up - researchers at the University of Michigan found couples who suppressed their anger were 25 percent more likely to die early.

Over time, suppressed anger can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems and could increase risk of cancer.

Stay in bed on winter Mondays
You’re 18 percent more likely to die on a Monday than a Sunday (possibly through stress of returning to work) and 25 percent more likely to die during winter than summer, says Dr Sarah Brewer, a London GP and author of Live Longer, Look Younger. Blame the body clock, which influences blood pressure, heart rate and brain activity.

Sleep in separate beds
Sharing a bed disrupts your sleep and affects your health, says Dr Neil Stanley, who runs the sleep laboratories at Surrey University.

His research shows that when one partner moves in their sleep, there is a 50 percent chance the other will also change position (their sleep disrupted without them even knowing it); snoring makes things much worse.

‘People say they like the feeling of their partner next to them when they’re asleep - but you have to be awake to feel that.’

Get in the swing
A study of 600,000 Swedish people suggested playing golf boosted life span by an average of five years longer than non-golfers.

‘A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health,’ said Professor Anders Ahlbom, of the Karolinska Institute.
‘There are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game.’

Take up yoga
An Indian study of people with heart disease found that prolonged stretching (in the form of yoga) combined with moderate aerobic exercise and diet control reduced cholesterol and reversed hardening of the arteries (by as much as 20 percent).

If we don’t stretch our tendons and muscles, they get shorter - ultimately hampering our range of motion and putting stress on the joints.

Chew 20 times
Not only is it a tried-and-tested weight-loss tip, but a study presented at the International Congress of Endocrinology last month suggested not chewing properly can double the risk of type-2 diabetes - partly because people then eat more but also because chewing helps break down the food, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.

Have a gossip
A good gossip with friends boosts levels of the hormone progesterone, reducing anxiety and stress, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. After just 20 minutes, they found gossiping girls had more progesterone than those who didn’t gossip.

Start wriggling
Studies show that the smallest activity (such as fidgeting) is enough to trigger the release of a brain chemical BDNF which, according to Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, acts like ‘Miracle-Gro’ to the brain, reversing cell deterioration associated with ageing. He recommends setting an alarm on your phone and stretching, jiggling or walking around every hour.

Shake less salt
If each shake delivers half a gram of salt, cutting back by one a day means a drop of 3 ½ grams a week. Most of us consume 9g of salt a day, 3g more than is healthy - this small change could be enough to bring you into line, reducing stroke risk by 13 percent and heart disease by 10 percent.

Have children
Children may exhaust you, but they could save your life. Last week a Danish study reported men unable to conceive were twice as likely to die early from circulatory disease, cancers and accidents - childless women were four times at risk. It’s thought they’re more likely to end up drinking, becoming depressed or ill. Adoption reduced the risk.

No late-night TV
After the age of 25, every hour of TV you watch could shave 22 minutes off your lifespan, suggest scientists at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

It doesn’t matter if you exercise - it’s long periods of inactivity the body really hates. Muscles aren’t used properly, sugars and fats are not adequately processed, raising risks of illness and early death.

Humour may boost levels of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells, says Robert Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland.

A really good belly laugh improves blood flow by more than 20 percent. Some studies suggest it can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Professor Provine has found we’re 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than alone - the social nature of laughter has more impact than physiological changes. - Daily Mail

Monday, January 7, 2013

10 Natural Remedies for Swollen Feet and Ankles

Are you coping with swelling? Check out some of these natural solutions to help relieve swollen feet and ankles!

Swelling in your feet and ankles is called edema, and there are a lot of things that can cause the problem, from high blood pressure to pregnancy. What’s happening is your body is having trouble fighting gravity to move blood and fluids back up your legs, so your ankles, feet, and even your legs can begin to swell.

Edema on its own is not harmful, but it is uncomfortable. If you are seeing one foot or leg swelling a lot more than the other, or you face is swelling, you do want to call your doctor, because the cause could be a blood clot, and you don’t want to wait to address that problem.

That uncomfortable swelling is not actually a disorder, just a symptom, and the best way to treat it is to treat the root cause. If you’re swelling because of pregnancy, it should go down not long after you deliver. Talk to your doctor to see what could be causing your swelling.

Whatever the reason, these remedies can help give you some relief while you sort out the cause of your edema.

1. Try a magnesium supplement
Magnesium deficiency can contribute to edema, and taking a supplement can help give you some relief. Most of the recommendations I’ve seen are for 200mg twice a day, but if you’re pregnant you’ll want to talk to your doctor about that first. The RDA for magnesium is 350mg per day, and your doctor might not want you taking an extra 400mg, since you’re also probably getting magnesium in your prenatal vitamin and your diet.

At six months pregnant, I started taking 250mg of magnesium in the evenings, and the difference in my swelling was dramatic without changing anything else.

2. Do a Little Yoga
Exercise can help improve your circulation, and yoga is a great way to get moving and really focus on that circulatory system. Check out these yoga poses to improve circulation to get you going!
Of course, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before staring up with yoga, especially if you haven’t been doing it before. If you’re totally new to yoga, I highly recommend taking a class. A yoga instructor can not only help you overcome any hesitations you have about yoga, but she or he will make sure you are doing the poses properly and might even be able to suggest additional postures to help with your edema! Once you have a swing of how the poses feel, you can practice at home.

3. Soak in Tonic Water
This one might sound a little odd, but soaking in room temperature – or cold, if it’s not too uncomfortable – tonic water can help with swelling. The quinine and the bubbles can help reduce inflammation, and frankly just soaking your poor, swollen feet feels great!

4. Grab Some Grapefruit Essential Oil
A warm bath can also help with swelling, and you can give that water a boost with a few drops of grapefruit essential oil! You can also just fill a bucket with nice, warm water to soak in.

If baths aren’t your thing, you can also mix a few drops of grapefruit oil with a carrier oil like olive or sweet almond oil and give yourself a little foot and leg massage. As you rub your feet, ankles, and calves, focus your pressure upward, rather than downward or in a circular motion.

5. Do a Salt Water Soak
Adding a healthy dose of Epsom salts to the tub is another way to boost that bath. Like the grapefruit oil, you can also just use a bucket, if you’re only having swelling in your feet and ankles. If your calves are swollen, too, a bath is probably your best bet.

Epsom salts are like magic for swelling. Even before I was pregnant, I took occasional salt baths after super long runs to help my muscles relax.

6. Treat Yourself to a Massage
A massage therapist can do wonders for swollen feet and ankles! Don’t be shy about mentioning the problem when you get to your appointment, so she or he can focus on getting things moving in your lower extremities.

If you are pregnant, I’d recommending finding a therapist who specializes in prenatal massage. A prenatal massage therapist will be much more knowledgeable about how to make you comfortable. Seriously, I have never had so many pillows around me in my life, but all of that really does help make it a more beneficial experience.

7. Get Some Support Hose
Support hose or compression gear can prevent swelling, especially from being on your feet. You can find compression socks that come knee- or thigh-high or full-on compression stockings. These suckers are hard to get on, because they’re meant to be pretty tight on your legs, but they can really make a difference.

I have read a lot of great experiences with compression socks, but I’ve found that they start out feeling amazing, and after about four hours they start to make my feet cramp. You can find footless compression stockings, so if you experience the same problem, that might be a good solution for you.

8. Elevate Those Feet
Gravity is not your friend when it comes to edema, so elevate your feet every chance you get! When you’re relaxing in the evening, prop your legs up on some pillows. Ideally, you want your feet above your heart. Take THAT, gravity!

If you work a day job, try to find a way to prop your feet up under your desk. Even elevating a bit can make a big difference in your swelling as the day goes on.

9. Make a Splash
Swimming or even floating in water can help with swollen feet and ankles. The pressure from the water can help get things moving in your legs, and floating gives your circulatory system a break from gravity’s constant pull. If you don’t have a pool, check out local gyms to see what they offer.

10. Drink Up!
Excess salt is a big contributor to swelling, and upping your fluid intake can help dilute the salt in your system. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water per day to flush things out. Even better? Try making cucumber-lemon water! Just drop a couple of cucumber and lemon slices in your glass, and enjoy! Both of these fruits have anti-inflammatory properties, so if gives that water an extra swelling-fighting punch!

Have you guys found any natural remedies that help with swollen feet and ankles? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

6 Superfoods to Boost Your Health

Superfoods are foods that are particularly nutrient-dense and help keep your body healthy.
Eating a diet rich in superfoods can help protect your health and give you more energy. Of course, you can’t live on a cheeseburger and fries diet, add a few superfoods, and expect to feel great. A healthy lifestyle is all about your overall habits, and that means avoiding unhealthy saturated fats, limiting your refined sugars, and getting plenty of exercise.
Superfoods aren’t a silver bullet, but as part of an overall healthy, active routine, they can definitely give you a boost. Some superfoods protect against disease, some have anti-aging properties, and some do both. What all of the superfoods on this list have in common is that they’re delicious and they’re easy to find at the grocery store or your local co-op’s or health food store’s bulk bin.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a chewy grain with a slightly nutty flavor. It’s great in place of rice as a side dish or in salads and even soups and stews. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it’s a superstar for bone health, and it also helps protect your body from stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that’s a complete protein, meaning it provides all of the amino acids that your body needs.
Read more about quinoa here!

2. Pomegranate

An excellent plant-based source of iron, pomegranate has anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect you from heart disease. It’s rich in B-vitamins and folic acid, and studies also have shown that pomegranate helps your body fight free radicals and can help lower blood pressure.
Get some tips on cooking with pomegranate here!

3. Blueberries

As if you needed a reason to eat more blueberries, right? Well snack away, because these berries can enhance brain health and even improve your memory. They’re also rich in antioxidants that can help you cope better with stressful situations.
Read more about blueberries here!

4. Kale

Is there anything this dark, leafy green can’t do? Kale is rich in fiber and in vitamins A, C, and K as well as in manganese. It’s got a good balance of calcium and magnesium, which makes it especially useful for promoting bone health. On top of all that, it even has 2.5 grams of protein in a 1 cup serving. Also, kale is pretty delicious.
Get your kale recipes here!

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have a lot in common with flax seeds, but unlike flax you don’t have to grind chia seeds up to get the nutritional benefits. That means that chia seeds have a longer shelf life than flax meal, and they lose fewer nutrients while they’re sitting in your pantry. Calcium-rich chia seeds are a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and you don’t have to worry about mercury contamination like you do with fish.
Need some chia recipes? We’ve got you covered right here!

6. Avocado

I have to admit that I was over the moon when I learned that avocado – one of my favorite foods – was a superfood. Avocado is high in fat, but it’s healthy fat that actually helps fight heart disease. It’s packed with vitamin E for healthy skin and has powerful anti-aging properties.
Learn more about avocado here!

Read more:

Top 12 Detox Superfoods

Even if you don’t plan on doing a detox program, your health will benefit from adding more detox superfoods to your daily diet. There are many great superfoods with detoxifying properties, but here are my top 12 picks.  And, they’re delicious too.

Almonds—are high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and useable protein that helps stabilize blood sugar and remove impurities from the bowels.

Avocados—lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least 30 different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that elderly people who had high levels of glutathione were healthier and less likely to suffer from arthritis.

Beets—contain a unique mixture of natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and minerals that make them superb fighters of infection, blood purifiers, and liver cleansers. They also help boost the body’s cellular intake of oxygen, making beets excellent overall body cleansers. Aphrodite, according to legend, ate beets to retain her beauty. She was definitely on to a good thing since beets, in addition to all the benefits listed above, also help stabilize the blood’s acid-alkaline balance (pH), which in turn supports healthy detoxification.

Blueberries—contain natural aspirin that helps lessen the tissue-damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while lessening pain. Blueberries also act as antibiotics by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They have antiviral properties and are loaded with super-detoxifying phytonutrients called proanthocyanidins.

Cabbage—contains numerous anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds and helps the liver break down excess hormones. Cabbage also cleanses the digestive tract and soothes the stomach, which could in part be due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage (kale is another excellent choice—see below) demonstrate powerful detoxification activity, including neutralizing some of the damaging compounds found in cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke). They also contain a compound that helps the liver produce adequate amounts of enzymes for detoxification.

Cranberries—have powerful antibiotic and antiviral substances to help the body cleanse harmful bacteria and viruses from the urinary tract.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil— are loaded with essential fatty acids, particularly the omega-3s. They are essential for many cleansing functions and maintaining a healthy immune system. They are also critical to maintaining a healthy brain. The health of every cell in your body is dependent on getting adequate amounts of essential fatty acids.

Garlic—helps cleanse harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites, and viruses from the body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also helps cleanse buildup from the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Garlic has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. It also helps cleanse the respiratory tract by expelling mucous buildup in the lungs and sinuses. I am referring to fresh garlic, not garlic powder, which has virtually none of the above properties.

Kale—contains powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds that help cleanse the body of harmful substances. It is also high in fiber, which helps cleanse the intestinal tract. Like cabbage, kale helps neutralize compounds found in cigarette smoke and contains a substance that jump-starts the liver’s production of cleansing enzymes.

Legumes—are loaded with fiber that helps lower cholesterol, cleanse the intestines, and regulate blood sugar levels. Legumes also help protect the body against cancer.

Lemons— are superb liver detoxifiers. In addition, they contain high amounts of vitamin C, a vitamin needed by the body to make a substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps ensure that phase 2 liver detoxification keeps pace with phase 1, thereby reducing the likelihood of negative effects from environmental chemicals. Vitamin C and other antioxidants found in lemons are integral to ward off cancer, fight the effects of pollution and cell damage. Fresh lemon juice contains more than 20 anti-cancer compounds and helps balance the body’s pH levels.

Seaweed—could be the most underrated vegetable in the Western world. Studies at McGill University in Montreal showed that seaweeds bind to radioactive waste in the body so it can be removed. Radioactive waste can find its way into the body through some medical tests or through food that has been grown where water or soil is contaminated. Seaweed also binds to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. In addition, it is a powerhouse of minerals and trace minerals.

12 Unusual Uses for Garlic

There’s so much more to garlic than cooking and vampire slaying. From treating cold sores and athlete’s foot to repelling mosquitoes and repairing glass, click through for some clever ways to use garlic.

Health & Beauty

1. Maintain Good Health. With properties that are thought to help your heart and liver, boost your metabolism of iron, prevent cancer, and fight against bacteria and viruses, garlic is a vital component of a healthy diet. Try to eat one or two cloves every day!

2. Cure a Cold. For thousands of years, garlic has been known as a treatment for coughs and colds. And, while the science isn’t all there yet, limited research has suggested that garlic will help treat these wintertime ailments. Mince a clove of garlic and steep it in hot water for about 5 minutes. Strain out the garlic and drink. It’s a natural cough syrup! You can also try to eat 3 raw cloves a day around cold and flu season to prevent catching a bug.

3. Get Rid of Acne. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub it over the affected area. Done regularly, the antibacterial properties found in garlic cloves will help to clear up your complexion.

4. Treat Cold Sores. Like in treating acne, cut a clove of garlic in half and apply it directly to the sore. It might sting a little, but it’s been shown to work just as effectively as commercial treatments for getting rid of those unsightly sores.

5.  Treat Athlete’s Foot. If there’s anything garlic doesn’t like, it’s fungus, so treating your athlete’s foot with the stuff works wonders! Crush a couple of cloves and toss them in a foot bath filled with warm water. Soak for about half an hour.

Pest Control

5. Use as a Pesticide in your Garden. Skip those harmful commercial pesticides and use a natural, DIY method with garlic instead! Click here for instructions.

6. Repel Mosquitos & Other Insects. We all know the best way to kill a vampire — garlic. But do you know why? Well, one major theory is that, like vampires, blood-sucking mosquitoes are afraid of garlic. You can rub garlic on your skin to ward off mosquitoes, if you like, but you can also leave out cloves of garlic in areas where mosquitoes flock.

7. Warning: Don’t Feed Your Pets Garlic. There’s a school of thought out there that garlic will help protect your dogs and cats for fleas, ticks, and other pesky critters. While this is true, garlic can be very toxic for animals. As the ASPCA notes, “An occasional small amount, such as that in most commercial pet foods and treats, may not cause a problem, but because of the risk, we generally recommend that you avoid feeding your pets products that contain more concentrated amounts of garlic.”

Other Great Uses

9. Repair Glass. Think of this as a quick fix for mildly-damaged glass — rub the sticky juice of a crushed clove of garlic onto the hairline cracks, wiping away an excess liquid. Garlic is a natural adhesive, so it’ll help the glass to stay together and prevent any further damage.

10. Use as a Glue. On the same note, you can use garlic in place of glue for other things, such as paper crafts.

11. De-Ice Surfaces. In a pinch, garlic salt works wonders in de-icing roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces.

12. Make a DIY Surface Cleaner. Chop up a 3-4 cloves of garlic, and toss them in a spray bottle filled with white vinegar. Add a couple drops of lemon oil and voila — you have yourself a DIY disinfectant spray!

3 Chocolates Making a Difference

When we think of decadent indulgence, we often think of chocolate.  And with the antioxidants present in dark chocolate, this indulgence (in moderation, of course) has some health benefits, as well.  But there is a growing trend in the world of chocolate towards offering products that are socially and environmentally responsible, as well.  Below are three chocolate companies that promote fair trade practices and use organic ingredients.  All products are available at most Whole Foods locations, as well as online and at many independent health food stores.

Theo Chocolate
Seattle based Theo Chocolate was the first producer of organic chocolate in the United States.  Prior to the company’s launch in 2006, all organic chocolate available in the U.S. was imported, primarily from Europe. Theo prioritizes fair trade practices, and purchases its cocoa directly from farmers and farmer co-operatives.  The company also strives to maintain long-term relationships with farmers, in order to support the economic health of the communities in which the farmers live and work.  And the ingredients for the chocolate bars are cultivated using sustainable farming practices.
Theo uses only simple, natural ingredients.  The chocolate doesn’t contain emulsifiers like soy lecithin, which many chocolate companies use to add artificial creaminess to their products.  The result is a bar with an intense cocoa flavor – perfect for the chocolate purist.

Equal Exchange Chocolate
Equal Exchange is a Massachusetts company that offers a range of fair trade, organic products including chocolate bars, coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, olive oil, and almonds.  The cocoa is sourced from farmer co-operatives in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, and Ecuador.  Similarly, the sugar comes from co-operatives in Paraguay.  Even the vanilla, from Madagascar, is fair trade.
In addition to being organic and ethically sourced, Equal Exchange bars cater to the chocolate connoisseur.  They are produced using the same methods made famous by the Swiss, resulting in a gourmet bar that will win over the toughest chocolate snobs.

Alter Eco Chocolate
Like Equal Exchange, San Francisco based Alter Eco offers a variety of fair trade, organic products.  Alter Eco works exclusively with small-scale farmers to ensure equitable trading relationships.
The company works with chocolatiers in Switzerland, but with flavors like dark quinoa chocolate, its bars are sure to appeal to the health nut as much as the chocoholic.