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Foods That Help Fight Allergies

The leaves are starting to fall. The hot, humid days of summer are giving way to crisp, cool, throw-an-extra-blanket-on-the-bed nights.

And your ragweed allergy has you running for the protection of your well-sealed home and slamming your windows shut. If you feel like your allergies are worse, or lingering longer than normal this year, it’s because they are. Climate change, and the resulting higher temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide, allow pollen-producing plants to live longer and to produce more potent pollen. And this year, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology announced that the season will extend through October, rather than ending in September as it normally does.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer for 4 more weeks. The foods you eat (and don’t eat) can help stifle your sniffling, particularly seasonal foods that are available now from your farmers’ market. So grab your reusable shopping bags and hit the market for these nine fresh finds.

 

Broccoli

This precious piece of produce serves two purposes in annihilating your allergy symptoms: It’s high in allergy-relieving vitamin C and it’s a member of the crucifer family, plants that have been shown to clear out blocked-up sinuses. Researchers have found about 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just 1 cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg. For another fall-flavored vitamin C boost, try cabbage or cauliflower, two other, related cruciferous vegetables. Both pack 56 mg of vitamin C per cooked cup.

 

Kale

Don’t just admire kale as a garnish. Eat it! This superfood packs a one-two punch against allergies. Like broccoli, it’s a member of the crucifer family, but it’s also rich in the carotenoid department, packing a form of vitamin A thought to improve allergy symptoms. A number of studies have shown that people with low vitamin A stores are more likely to have asthma and allergy problems.

 

Collard Greens

Hijacked by hay fever? Put collard greens on the menu. Their phytochemical content, mainly carotenoids, eases allergy issues. The darker the leaves, the higher the carotenoid content. They do require some patience to cook, however. Tough, fibrous veggies like collards need to cook anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour in order for your body to absorb their nutrients easily. Some vitamins will leach out into your cooking water, or “pot likker,” as Southerners call it. Use that water in soups or stews, or use it to cook some rice to serve with your leafy greens in order to maximize the nutrients your body absorbs.

 

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are packed with quercetin, another secret weapon that helps fight allergies by acting like an antihistamine. Quercetin also acts like vitamin C and quells inflammation in your system, which helps stem the side effects associated with allergic inflammation, such as stuffy noses. However, quercetin isn’t absorbed very easily from food. So, although eating lots of onions and garlic may ward off some symptoms, you might consider a 400 to 500 mg supplement if you have severe fall allergies.

 

Pumpkins

Like broccoli and leafy greens, pumpkins are rich in allergy-fighting carotenoids, the form of vitamin A that you need to stockpile in order to better ward off allergies. If your only dietary experience with pumpkin has been in breads or pies, you may not know how versatile it can be. Try it in a main dish, as in this recipe for Beef and Pumpkin Stew, or in Pumpkin Kugel.

 

Carrots

Another carotenoid powerhouse, carrots contain lots of healthy beta-carotene to help ward off your ragweed misery. You’ll get more of the valuable vitamin if you lightly steam your carrots, rather than eating them raw, or sauté them with a healthy fat, such as coconut oil or ghee, a form of clarified butter.

 

Celery

Celery is full of vitamin C and anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a great tool in fighting not just allergies, but also high blood pressure and chronic pain. It’s one vegetable that you can eat raw or cooked without losing access to its nutrients. And don’t ignore the leaves; chop those up for use in soups and stews to get their vitamin C content, as well.

 

Stinging Nettle

Even though it’s not necessarily a food, or a fall-specific herb, you can’t discuss natural allergy remedies without hailing stinging nettle. It helps stifle the inflammation that occurs when you’re experiencing allergy symptoms. Stinging nettle contains histamine, the chemical your body produces during an allergic reaction, so it helps you acquire tolerance. Look for 500 mg freeze-dried nettle capsules in your natural health store, and take three times a day. That’s the best form for allergy relief; it won’t sting because it’s freeze-dried. Long-term use of the herb is not recommended, since it can deplete your potassium stores.

 

Antiallergy Soup!

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup when you’re feeling sick, and while this usually pertains to chicken soup for the flu, an expert on herbs developed this soup to naturally battle allergies. In The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns (Rodale, 2008), herb expert James Duke, Ph.D., recommends this allergy-fighting soup recipe:

Boil an onion (with skin) and a clove of garlic.

Add ½ cup chopped leaves and diced taproots of evening primrose.

After boiling for about 5 minutes, add a cup of nettle leaves and a cup of diced celery stalks, and boil gently for another 3 to 10 minutes.

Before eating, remove the onion skins and eat the soup while it’s still warm.

Season with wine vinegar, black pepper, hot pepper, turmeric, curry powder, or celery seed.

 

What Not To Eat

Even though foods can be great natural allergy cures, some can actually trigger allergy symptoms. The condition is called “oral allergy syndrome” and occurs when your body mistakes proteins in certain foods for the same allergic proteins in ragweed. On the upside, cooking those foods neutralizes the offending proteins. So if you’re a fall allergy sufferer, here are few foods to either cook first or avoid entirely during allergy season: apples, bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew), cucumber, zucchini, chamomile tea, echinacea, honey, and nuts.

 

Source:  http://www.organicgardening.com/living/9-fall-foods-fight-your-fall-allergies?page=0,0&cm_mmc=ETNTNL-_-1061022-_-10042012-_-9Fallfood-body

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Top Foods To Cure What Ails You

What to Eat to Fend Off a Cold

White Button Mushrooms – Foodies rave about exotic mushroom types, but the common white button variety could be your key to a cold-free winter, suggests research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. They contain polysaccharides, which activate natural killer cells that destroy cold- and flu-causing viruses, says Dayong Wu, PhD, a scientist at the center.

Salmon – Three ounces of salmon can supply nearly 800 IUs of vitamin D, close to the amount that some experts recommend you get each day. That’s a good defense against sniffles: Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver found that people with low levels of D had significantly more colds. Without enough of this crucial nutrient, your body can’t produce antimicrobial proteins called cathelicidins, which destroy bacteria and viruses, according to lead study author Adit Ginde, MD.

Sunflower Seeds – This healthy snack is packed with vitamin E, which has been shown to boost the activity level of the body’s infection-fighting T cells. That may be why scientists at the Center on Aging found that this nutrient lowers the risk of getting a cold by 20 percent.

Yogurt – People who ate two cups of yogurt a day for four months had four times the gamma interferon, a natural substance that fights viral and bacterial infections, than those who skipped the calcium-rich food, a University of California Davis School of Medicine study reveals. The key: Choosing yogurt with live active cultures.

What to Eat to Beat Stress

Shrimp – Omega-3 fatty acids in shellfish may boost your mood by reducing stress hormones, like cortisol. People who ate three to four ounces a day lowered their risk of anxiety, depression, and stress by 30 percent, according to a study from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain.

Curry – The curcumin in turmeric — a spice in curry — lowers stress levels by inhibiting cortisol secretion, says a study conducted in China.

Milk – In a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who ate four or more servings of calcium a day had a 30 percent lower risk of PMS symptoms like anxiety and irritability.

Pistachios – Eating one and a half to three ounces of pistachios daily can lower blood pressure when you’re faced with a mental challenge by relaxing blood vessels, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

Red Bell Pepper – Vitamin C, which is abundant in these peppers, lowers stress by limiting cortisol production and stimulates the release of oxytocin, a feel-good chemical. When researchers at the University of Trier in Germany subjected people to the anxiety of public speaking, those who took 3,000 milligrams of C felt calmer and their blood pressure returned to normal faster than those who skipped C.

What to Eat to Soothe Stomach Pain

Yogurt –In a study at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who ate two 4.4-ounce servings of Activia yogurt daily for a month saw up to a 78 percent decrease in bloating. The yogurt contains probiotics — good bacteria that help restore normal stomach and intestinal functioning.

Fennel – Anethole, a substance in fennel leaves, seeds, and oil, is known to alleviate stomach cramping. It even helps colicky babies, says research from St. Petersburg Medical Academy of Postdoctoral Education in Russia.

Ginger – Studies show that this root quashes nausea from motion sickness, morning sickness, and even chemotherapy by 30 percent. This may be because ginger reduces inflammation in the stomach, according to study author Julie Ryan, PhD.

Peppermint Oil – Seventy-five percent of IBS patients had 50 percent fewer symptoms after taking two capsules containing 225 milligrams of peppermint oil twice a day for four weeks, say researchers at G. d’Annunzio University in Italy. The menthol in peppermint appears to soothe irritated intestinal muscles.

Raspberries – Fiber, which is found in oats, vegetables, and fruits like raspberries, was more effective than a placebo in taming symptoms of IBS, according to a review of studies at McMaster University in Canada.

Head Off Headaches

Snapper – The omega-3s in fish are great for your head. Almost 90 percent of people who got migraines reported fewer of the headaches after taking two grams of omega-3 concentrate daily, according to a Brown University School of Medicine study. “Fish and fish oil lower the production of a prostaglandin, a chemical that causes inflammation and pain,” says researcher Zeev Harel, MD.

Black Beans – Beans contain riboflavin, a nutrient that has been found to reduce the number of headache days by at least 50 percent in more than half of sufferers, say researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium.

Cayenne Pepper – The compound that gives cayenne its heat, capsaicin, can ease cluster headaches (which typically affect one side of the head and occur several days in a row), probably by destroying a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. Although people who get cluster headaches often inhale capsaicin through a nasal spray, try adding cayenne to your cooking.

Quinoa – Magnesium, often deficient in migraine sufferers, is plentiful in this grain. “The mineral relaxes blood vessels and normalizes serotonin receptors,” explains Alexander Mauskop, MD, director of the New York Headache Center in New York City. In one German study, patients taking 600 milligrams of magnesium daily saw their headache frequency plummet by more than 40 percent.

Source:  http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/what-to-eat-to-cure-anything/?sssdmh=dm17.619475&esrc=nwfitdailytip092912

 

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Do You Have Low Testosterone?

The sex hormone testosterone gives a man his beard, deep voice and sex drive. It also may give all of us—men and women—better health and a longer life.

Research shows that low levels of testosterone may increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Low testosterone also can trigger fatigue, low libido, erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), muscular weakness, poor endurance, irritability, poor concentration and poor memory. What you need to know now…

LIVE LONGER

An estimated 40% of men age 45 and older have testosterone deficiency—total testosterone below 300 ng/dL. (This phenomenon is called by various names, including andropause, male menopause and hypogonadism.) This deficiency is linked to…

Cardiovascular disease (CVD). In a four-year study, men with one risk factor for heart disease (such as high blood pressure) were four times more likely to develop CVD if they had low testosterone. Other studies link low testosterone to an increased risk for stroke, blood clots, high total cholesterol, high LDL “bad” cholesterol and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats that can trigger a heart attack or stroke). One such study concluded that “testosterone levels may be a stronger predictor of coronary artery disease than high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and body mass index.”

Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome—a risk factor for type 2 diabetes—is a constellation of health problems that can include insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL “good” cholesterol. In a recent two-year study, metabolic syndrome was completely reversed in 65% of men on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Osteoporosis. A study found that men with low testosterone had an 88% higher risk for hip fracture.

Midlife male depression. A study from Columbia University showed that TRT completely reversed depression in more than 50% of depressed men.

Alzheimer’s disease. Research links higher levels of testosterone with better blood flow to the brain, better memory and less risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Death from any cause. In a study of 900 men, those with low testosterone had a 43% higher risk for all-cause mortality (dying from any cause). In another, seven-year study, every 173 ng/dL increase in total testosterone levels was linked to a 21% lower risk for all-cause mortality.

TESTOSTERONE TESTING

The Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male (ADAM) Questionnaire can determine if you have symptoms of low testosterone. If you do, you should be tested for a low blood level. However, you can have so-called “normal” test results for total testosterone and still have a deficiency. That’s because testosterone may be bound to a compound called sex hormone binding globulin, so only a small percentage reaches your cells.

Best: Ask your doctor to test you for total testosterone and free (unbound) testosterone. You may need a doctor trained in the use of bioidentical hormones or a naturopathic physician.

Another problem with testosterone tests is that “normal” values vary widely from laboratory to laboratory. One study from Harvard Medical School found 17 different sets of “normal” values for total testosterone among 25 labs.

What to do: If you have the symptoms of low testosterone…and your level of either total or free testosterone is below normal or borderline normal at whatever lab your doctor chooses…you should consider TRT.

MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES

If you have low testosterone, you can first try to boost it by…

  • Losing weight
  • Managing stress
  • Weight-training
  • Getting eight hours of sleep
  • Eating healthy, monounsaturated fats and limiting processed carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour
  • Eating organic food (estrogen-like pesticides can stymie testosterone).

TREATMENT

If you still have low testosterone after making lifestyle changes, you may need TRT. There are four forms of TRT for men. All are effective and safe. You and your doctor can determine the best treatment for you…

Prescription 1% or 1.62% testosterone gel, such as Testim and AndroGel, which is applied once a day.

Testosterone injections, which typically are given once every two weeks, though some doctors prefer to give them once a week.

Testosterone pellets, which are surgically inserted.

Compounded 1% to 10% testosterone cream is custom-formulated by a compounding pharmacy and applied once a day.

Whatever the form of testosterone, the following is advisable…

Aim for a total testosterone blood level of 600 ng/dL or just a little higher (up to 900 ng/dL).

Recheck blood levels. Many primary care doctors prescribe testosterone gel—and never recheck their patients. Your doctor should check your levels after one month…then every three months for one year…every four months for the second year…and every six months for the third year and thereafter.

WOMEN AND TRT

A deficiency of testosterone in perimenopausal or menopausal women can cause symptoms similar to testosterone deficiency in middle-aged and older men, such as fatigue, depression, weight gain, low libido and osteoporosis.

What to do: Ask your doctor to test your free testosterone. If your level is low, consider treatment with testosterone cream from a compounding pharmacy at a dose of 0.5 milligrams (mg) to 2 mg daily. (This is an off-label use of testosterone, not approved by the FDA.) Most women notice more energy, younger-looking skin, thicker hair and increased libido.

Some women worry that testosterone will give them “manly” characteristics, but this does not happen with female-appropriate doses.

Source: http://www.bottomlinepublications.com/content/article/health-a-healing/get-your-mojo-back-and-live-longertestosterone-helps-prevent-heart-disease-diabetes-more-and-its-not-just-for-men;  Chris D. Meletis, ND, and Bill Gottlieb, CHC. Dr. Meletis is executive director of the Institute for Healthy Aging and coauthor of His Change of Life: Male Menopause and Healthy Aging with Testosterone (Praeger). http://www.DrMeletis.com. Bill Gottlieb, CHC, is a health coach certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and author of Maximum Manhood: Sexual Healing Secrets and Anti-Aging Breakthroughs (OPM), in which Dr. Meletis is a featured expert. http://www.BillGottliebHealth.com

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Health and Science

 

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Remedies For That Dang-Nabbit Itch

 

To scratch or not to scratch, that is the question. When confronted with an itch, most of us tend to throw self-discipline out the door and scratch to our skin’s content. While that may prove momentarily satisfying, scratching excessively can injure your skin. And if you break the skin, you leave yourself open to infection.

 

Itching, medically known as pruritus, is caused by stimuli bugging some part of our skin. There are a lot of places to bother on the body, too. The average adult has 20 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, all open to the world of irritants. When something bothers our skin, an itch is a built-in defense mechanism that alerts the body that someone is knocking. We respond to an itch with a scratch, as most people want to remove the problem. But the scratching can also set you up for the “itch-scratch” cycle, where one leads to the other endlessly.

 

An itch can range from a mild nuisance to a disrupting, damaging, and sleep-depriving fiasco. Itches happen for many reasons, including allergic reactions; sunburns; insect bites; poison ivy; reactions to chemicals, soaps, and detergents; medication; dry weather; skin infections; and even aging. More serious itches, such as those caused by psoriasis or other diseases, are not covered here.

 

Scratching isn’t the only solution to an itch. The kitchen cupboards hold a few more.

 

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Baking soda. Baking soda battles itches of all kinds. For widespread or hard-to-reach itches, soak in a baking soda bath. Add 1 cup baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes and air dry. Localized itches can be treated with a baking soda paste. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Apply to the itch, but do not use if the skin is broken.

Oatmeal. Add 1 to 2 cups finely ground oatmeal to a warm bath (not hot or you might have breakfast for the next month in your tub) to ease your itches.

 

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Lemon. Many American folk remedy recipes call for using a lemon to treat itchy skin — and rightly so. The aromatic substances in a lemon contain anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce itching. If nothing else, you’ll smell good. Squeeze undiluted lemon juice on itchy skin and allow to dry.

 

Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Cloves and Juniper Berries. The American Indians of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Cherokee tribes knew how to stop an itch in its tracks. They used what nature provided, namely juniper berries. (No need to run out in the wilderness to gather berries. They are available in some grocery stores.) These berries contain anti-inflammatory, volatile substances. When combined with cloves, which contain eugenol to numb nerve endings, the result is no more itch. To make a salve of both spices, melt 3 ounces of unsalted butter in a saucepan. In a separate pan, melt a lump of beeswax — about the amount of 2 tablespoons. When the beeswax has melted, combine with butter and stir well. Add 5 tablespoons ground juniper berries and 3 teaspoons ground cloves to the mixture and stir. Allow to cool and apply to itchy skin. Note: It is best to grind the spices at home because the volatile substances are preserved better in whole berries and cloves.

Basil. Splash your skin with refreshing basil tea. Like cloves, basil contains high amounts of eugenol, a topical anesthetic. Place 1/2 ounce dried basil leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Keep it covered to prevent the escape of the aromatic eugenol from the tea. Allow to cool. Dip a clean cloth into the tea and apply to itchy skin as often as necessary.

Mint. If you’re saving that basil for spaghetti sauce, try a mint tea rinse instead. Chinese folk medicine values mint as a treatment for itchy skin and hives. Mint contains significant amounts of menthol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically. In general, mint also contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory rosmarinic acid, which is readily absorbed into the skin. To make a mint tea rinse, place 1 ounce dried mint leaves in 1 pint boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain, dip a clean cloth in the tea, and apply to the itchy area when necessary.

Thyme. If you’re saving that mint for a glass of lemonade, there is one more spice on the rack that makes a good anti-itch rinse: thyme. This fragrant herb contains large amounts of the volatile constituent thymol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, it numbs that darn itch while reducing inflammation caused by all your scratching. To make a thyme rinse, place 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain and dip a clean cloth into the tea, then apply to affected areas. Note: In Chinese folk medicine, dandelion root, easily plucked from most yards, is added to this rinse. If in season, place 1 ounce dried dandelion root and 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves into 1 quart boiling water and proceed as directed.

 

Home Remedies from the Windowsill

Aloe vera. Aloe vera is a must for burns, but how about itches? The same constituents that reduce blistering and inflammation in burns also work to reduce itching. Snap off a leaf, slice it down the middle, and rub the gel only on the itch.

 

Source:  http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-itching.htm

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Health and Science

 

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26 Not-So-Healthy Habits

 

From magazine headlines to wise words from our mother, we’re constantly bombarded with “tips” to keep our health in check. But before drowning in diet soda and daily showers, reassess some of these behaviors that may be doing more harm than help.

 

Foods and Eating Habits:

1. Enhanced water. A little faux fruity flavor might seem like a great way to up H2O intake, but flavored water, like Vitamin Water or even Smart Water, can be filled with sugar. Skip the artificially sweetened water and infuse water with actual fruit.

 

2. Granola and granola bars. Granola is made from whole grains, so it can’t be bad, right? Not so fast. Granola and granola bars are both calorically dense and often contain a ton of sugar. You may as well eat a candy bar…

 

3. Protein bars. Protein bars don’t fall far from the granola-bar-tree. They are often ultra-high in calories and sugar — not exactly what the body needs after a hard workout. Choose a healthier high-protein snack instead.

 

4. Vitamins and supplements. Multiple studies have shown that taking vitamins (in pill form) may not have any positive effect on long-term health. Researchers have surveyed the nonexistent (or even potentially harmful) ties of vitamin E and C supplements with heart disease, cancer, and cancer treatment[1][2][3]. Plus, most people get all the vitamins they need from their food, and substituting pills for whole foods may mean missing out on the benefits from other compounds found in the natural sources.

 

5. Light beer. News flash: Light-beer doesn’t necessarily mean less calories. Instead, many simply have a lower alcohol content. And for those interested in getting a buzz on, the calorie difference may be negated by the need to drink more. Sip a healthier beer instead, and split up the six-pack between friends.

 

6. “Low-fat” foods. Think twice before skipping the fat-filled salmon. While cutting some fat could help weight loss, we may miss out on some big benefits from healthy omega-3 fats, such as boosting brainpower and lowering the risk of heart disease[4][5][6].

 

7. Skipping meals. Skipping meals probably won’t save us any calories in the long haul. Forgoing a meal may result in overeating later on, so choose a healthier lunchtime treat instead[7][8][9].

 

8. Bottled water. Some bottled water may be filled with bacteria or chemicals when bottled in plastic containers[10][11] So grab a water filter and purify tap water instead.

 

9. Passing on dessert. Don’t deny your favorite dessert. If really craving that double chocolate brownie, enjoy a few generous bites instead of going for seconds at the dinner buffet line — which could rack up even more calories.

 

10. Diet soda. Diet Dr. Pepper may not be our friend. Scientists suggest too much of these zero-cal beverages could do as much damage as the sugary stuff, potentially leading to weight gain and an uncontrollable sweet tooth[12][13] The solution? Skip the soda completely and opt for a healthier choice.

 

11. Juice diets. Many of us could use a few more fruits and veggies, but we don’t need to have spinach-apple juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Juice diets may leave out important nutrients and enough calories to stay strong throughout the day.

 

12. Microwave diet meals. Try making your own meals, without the box and frozen plastic tray. Many frozen meals are packed with sodium, while lacking veggies and enough calories. Short on time? Make a large batch of your favorite meal over the weekend and freeze individual portions to eat throughout the week.

 

Hygiene and Health

13. Hot tubs. They may be super relaxing, but hot tubs are a one-stop shop for bacteria and germs, and may even cause a rash. Gross.

 

14. Antibacterial soap. It may not be worth scrubbing down with the fancy stuff: Regular soap and water is just as beneficial when it comes to staying squeaky clean[14].

 

15. Brushing right after every meal. Just ‘cause dessert was devoured doesn’t mean we should grab the toothbrush and paste. Wait at least 30 minutes after a meal so saliva can neutralize the acid in the mouth and strengthen the enamel on those chompers.

 

16. Avoiding the sun. While too much sun could cause a nasty burn (or worse!) sidestepping the sun at all costs may lead to a lack of Vitamin D which is essential for proper muscle and bone development[15].

 

17. Daily showers. Stop the scrubbing! Hopping in the shower too often may irritate and dry out skin. If you really need to freshen up, spray on some perfume or cologne and save the shower ‘till tomorrow.

 

18. Catching up on sleep. We’re sorry to break it to you, but it’s pretty tricky to catch up on sleep. So rather than skimping on sleep in order to cash them in later, aim for a solid seven to nine hours a night.

 

19. Sitting up straight. Yeah, we’re surprised too. Sitting up straight may be bad for the back, so skip the seat and try a standing desk at the office[16][17].

 

20. Cleaning with disinfecting products. There’s some evidence that certain chemicals in disinfecting products could lead to asthma[18][19]. Simply use a regular cleaning product  or detergent without the chemicals instead.

 

Working Out

21. Only doing cardio. Hitting the roads is great and all, but don’t retire the weights for the running shoes. Make sure to strength train to burn fat, lean out, and look badass in the process.

 

22. Doing a million crunches. The secret to six-pack abs probably isn’t crunch after crunch. To flatten out and tone up the core, try running some intervals, lifting a few weights, and cleaning up that diet instead.

 

23. Breathing deeply through the chest. Whether running the final lap or heading down the basketball court, avoid deep breathing with the chest. For a most effective breath to help any athlete’s performance, remember to use the diaphragm!

 

24. Static stretching pre workout. When warming up, static stretching (aka holding positions for a certain length of time) won’t do much in way of preventing soreness[20]. Skip the still motions and do dynamic stretches, like lunges and high knees, instead[21].

 

25. Lifting machines. Most lifting machines focus on single joint exercises, which fail to improve muscle imbalance and does not burn as many calories as hitting the squat rack or swinging a kettlebell.

 

26. Hitting the gym daily. Don’t get us wrong, exercise is important! But spending too much time at the gym leaves little time for muscles — and the mind — to recover. Make sure to get at least one or two days of rest, and dominate those dumbbells the rest of the week.

 

Source:  http://www.greatist.com

 

 

 

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Are Muscles The Key To A Longer Life

If you check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for exercise this year, you’ll notice something different. While the CDC used to simply recommend any type of exercise a few days a week, it now recommends both cardiovascular activities and toning exercises in the form of strength training. Specifically, Americans age 65 and older are encouraged to learn how to build muscle and do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, arms, shoulders, chest, and abdomen) at least twice a week.

 

Why this change to the government recommendations? Experts now realize just how important toning exercises are to your overall health and longevity. “Every health professional will agree that strength training is essential for health, injury prevention, and prolonging quality of life,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Cody Foss, owner of the Fitness Loft in Newtown, Conn.

 

Whether you’re a young person just learning how to build muscle or an older person looking for toning exercises to increase your longevity, strength training has benefits for everyone. “The major advantage of strength training is to keep older adults active and moving,” says Glenda Renee Westmoreland, MD, a geriatrician at Wishard Health Services and an associate professor of clinical medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. “Strength and resistance training are helpful to reduce functional decline and loss of endurance.”

 

When it comes to preventing some of the health concerns and accidents that befall the elderly, this advice about learning how to build muscle with toning exercise is especially true. For example, a group of researchers recently looked at 111 studies with over 55,000 total subjects on the topic of falls in the elderly. After examining all this data, what they found was that exercise programs that focused on at least two of these — building strength, balance, flexibility, or endurance — were the best way to prevent future falls in the elderly.

 

Tips on Toning Exercise

 

If you are an older individual who is first learning how to build muscle, it’s important to start slowly to avoid overexerting yourself, says Dr. Westmoreland. “The major consideration before embarking on strength training as an older adult is to make sure that from a cardiovascular standpoint you are fit to start,” she says. That means getting the okay from your primary care physician before you begin.

 

Once you receive clearance from your doctor, walking is a good place to start. Then, as your fitness improves, you can incorporate some light strength training exercises into your routine. “The older adult should do muscle-strengthening exercises that work all the different muscle groups: legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms,” says Westmoreland.

 

If you’re concerned that strength training means lifting massive weight over your head, you needn’t be. You can do toning exercises that are low-impact but will still build muscle.

 

For example, tai chi is a very effective strength training exercise that has helped promote longevity in many people. Find a local class to participate in or simply follow a video at home to get the benefits of tai chi.

 

Other simple toning exercises are actually not that different from stretches. Val Walkowiak, the medical integration coordinator at Loyola Center for Fitness in Chicago, recommends the following exercises to strengthen your core every other day:

 

Abdominal twist: Sit in an armless chair with your feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be in the center of your torso and your elbows along your sides. Slowly twist to the right, then to the left. Your shoulders should face to the right and then to the left during the movement, but you should not be swinging your arms from side to side. Do two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

Lying abdominal crunch: Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands by your ears. Keep your elbow and shoulder joints aligned during the movement. Slowly curl your upper body upward until your rib cage comes up off the floor. The goal is to create a “C” with your torso by bringing your chest toward your legs. Don’t let your lower back come up off the floor, just your rib cage. Perform two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

Pelvic tilts: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull your belly button in toward your spine until your abdominal muscles feel tight. Slowly shift your pelvis up toward the ceiling until you feel your lower back press against the floor. Your buttocks should not come off the floor. Return to starting position. This exercise works the lower portion of the abdominal muscles.

Bridges: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull your belly button in toward your spine. Slowly lift your torso off the floor until you have formed a bridge with your body. Your upper back, shoulders, and head should remain on the floor. Return your body to the floor and repeat. Perform two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

 

If you have osteoporosis, particularly if you have had compression fractures of the vertebrae in your back, you should get your doctor’s okay before doing these floor exercises.

 

Adding a strenth training component to your fitness routine doesn’t have to be complicated, and the benefits to overall health — including reducing your risk of falling — are more than worth the time you put in.

 

Source:  http://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/physical-health/add-muscle.aspx 

Last Updated: 01/18/2011

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Health and Science

 

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Listen Up!: Toning Requires Weight Training

All of us want to “tone” our muscles to achieve a cut, fit look. But what exactly is “toning”? Let me clarify a little: The word “toning” has nothing to do with the size of a particular muscle; it refers rather to making a muscle lean by burning intramuscular fat, and conditioning the muscle for better performance.

You can’t actually build muscle mass unless you’re eating more calories than you’re burning, but you can tone a muscle to make it leaner. To tone your muscles, you should weight-train four days a week, working each muscle group twice a week. After you work a particular muscle group, you should give it two days of rest before you focus on it again.

Here’s a sample toning program that works each muscle group without overdoing it:

Monday: Work the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, upper abs, obliques.

Tuesday: Work the back, biceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower abs.

Wednesday: Rest.

Thursday: Work the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, upper abs, obliques.

Friday: Work the back, biceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower abs.

Saturday: Rest.

Sunday: Do a cardio-only workout.

Remember: Exercise is the architect, but recovery is the builder. You have to give your body adequate recovery time to heal itself and grow stronger. If you work out too often without resting, you’ll just break your muscles down.

 

JILLIAN’S TIP OF THE DAY

Afraid of Bulk?

Women always tell me that they feel hesitant about toning exercises that require weights because they’re afraid of building bulky muscles. Hear me out, ladies: It’s extremely difficult for women to gain muscle mass simply by doing toning exercises — we don’t have the testosterone that guys do that lets them build mass. Using weights to tone your muscles will make you look trim and terrific, not big and bulky.

 
 

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