With a wealth of information at our fingertips combined with increased access to a variety of different foods, some may argue that eating healthy has never been easier. So then why are obesity rates at an all-time high? Part of the reason is attributed to a wide deviation from whole foods towards carefully marketed packaged foods that are wrongly perceived as being healthy. To help you stay on track towards a healthier lifestyle, here is a list of five foods you should never place in your shopping cart.
Making the switch from soft drinks to water isn’t always an easy feat, particularly if you’re used to sodas on a regular basis. In such cases, flavored water might seem like a transitional beverage that is healthier than soda. While such waters don’t have the same sugar content as soft drinks, they still pose a host of other dangers. Some products contain vitamins, which may pose the potential for overdoses if you already take supplements, while others still contain sugar and sodium. Your best bet is to skip flavored water and go for the real stuff.
“Healthy” Caffeine Fixes
Increasingly packed schedules often call for a pick-me-up here and there. While coffee itself is not unhealthy, many consumers are aware of the fact that added sugar and creamers make such drinks a dieter’s worst nightmare. As an alternative, some caffeine lovers choose energy drinks that don’t contain the ingredients used in coffee. Not only do these supposed “healthy” caffeine fixes contain large amounts of sugar, but the caffeine levels might also be dangerously high when used regularly over time.
Fat contains more calories per weight than any other nutrient. In order to lose weight, it only makes sense to cut down on fatty, calorie-laden foods. The problem is that so-called fat-free and reduced-fat packaged foods often contain larger amounts of sodium and sugar than their regular counterparts. Subsequently, these meals aren’t as satiating, which may lead to hunger spikes later in the day.
When you’re losing weight, it is smart to focus on foods that will provide you with all the energy you need to carry you through the day while cutting portions. Energy snacks in the form of beverages and bars are often perceived as weight loss must-haves. However, such snacks often do more damage than good, due to high amounts of sugar. Unfortunately, consumers look at the high fiber content of these foods and fail to catch the sugar content.
Corn-Fed Animal Products
In the last decade, consumers have shown more concern over the way animals are treated in farming. A grass-fed meat product label usually indicates that the animal was free-range, but the food source often means so much more. Grass-fed animals produce meat higher in nutrients, as opposed to corn-fed sources. It is important to check out all related labels, including red meat, poultry and eggs.
Researchers have long suspected that a Mediterranean diet leads to better health. Now they have concrete evidence that eat a diet with plenty of nuts, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables lowers a person’s risk of developed cardiovascular diseases. A new study released in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the diet lowers risk by as much as 30 percent.
Why This Study Stands Out
This isn’t the first time that researchers have studied the effects of eating a Mediterranean diet. It is, however, the first time that researchers have followed such a large group (7,400 people).
The research focused on people between 50 and 85 who were at risk of developing heart disease but did not have it when the study began. They were considered high-risk because they were either overweight, had a family history of heart disease, used tobacco, or had high cholesterol and blood pressure.
Researchers put each person into one of three groups. Two of the groups were encouraged to eat a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables daily. One group was asked to supplement their meals with nuts. Another was asked to include at least four tablespoons of olive oil in their daily diets.
The third group was encouraged to eat low-fat meat and dairy products.
And the Results?
The researchers felt that the results were so clear that they ended the study at the halfway point. They found that 4.4 percent of the people in the third group had developed serious cardiovascular problems.
Only 3.4 percent of the people in the nut group had the same problems. 3.8 percent of those in the olive oil group had developed cardiovascular problems.
The Benefits of This Study
The real benefit of this study is that it shows practically anyone can improve his or her health by making a few dietary adjustments. Most people in the developed world don’t have difficulty accessing olive oil, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. It doesn’t even take a large amount of these healthy items to have a positive effect. It just require a tennis ball-sized serving of fruit and two tennis ball-sized servings of vegetables a day (plus about 12 walnuts, hazelnuts, or other nut with high levels of omega-3 fatty acid).
With such simple guidelines, just about anyone can lower his or her risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
1. Bleach – It may be nice to keep those whites extra bright, but bleach is an extremely powerful chemical that can cause damage to your eyes and lungs. Poisoning can occur as a result of ingestion or even inhalation of bleach.
Alternative: “green” products, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide
2. Ammonia – Another strong and dangerous chemical found in many cleaning products. Even the slightest inhalation can cause nasal and throat irritations including burns. Similar dangers are found when ammonia comes in contact with skin. When it is mixed with any form of bleach it has the potential of turning into a very deadly gas.
Alternative: soap and water, “green” products, baking soda and water
3. Oven Cleaner – The oven is one household item that seems to accumulate the toughest grease and grime that seems impossible to remove. Somehow just spraying Easy Off or other oven cleaners are able to remove any trace of meals past. This is due to the extremely strong chemicals found in these products, often some form or relative of lye. There is a reason these products warn to use with proper ventilation, but as the cleaner sits in your oven for several hours or even over night as many suggest for optimal cleaning, these toxic fumes are entering your home.
Alternative: there are various home mixtures out there using vinegar, water, baking soda, salt
4. Air Fresheners – There are countless products devoted to “freshening” the air in our homes, cars, closets, anywhere and everywhere. What many people do not know is these products contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, which can cause a variety of symptoms and health concerns. In fact, if you were to ever read the product warnings on the package you would be cautioned against using it in sleeping areas, unventilated rooms or areas where you keep pets.
Alternative: use a fan, open windows, vinegar and baking soda
5. Antibacterial Cleaners – These products contain triclosan, which has been shown to alter hormone regulation in animal studies and therefore is under review by the FDA. In addition to the unknown health concerns using these products could cause, there is also no evidence to suggest that antibacterial soaps have any extra health benefit over using good old soap and water.
Alternative: soap and water!
Ayurveda comes from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit and means “knowledge of life.” The basic principal of Ayurveda is that everything in existence is part of one universal whole. The key principle of Ayurvedic treatment is that each person is governed by three energy forces called doshas. These three energies are listed below.
Vata is made up of the two elements space and air and is the moving force behind the other two doshas. It governs all movement within the body and emotions. Vata is located mainly in the colon. It also resides in the hips, thighs, ears, bones, and skin.
Effects of Unbalanced Vata
Pitta is made up of the interplay of water and fire. Pitta comprises all the energy stored in our body. Pitta governs digestion, metabolism, food absorption and body temperature. It is located in the small intestine, stomach and eyes.
Effects of Unbalanced Pitta
•poor absorption of nutrients
•Irregular body temperature and perspiration
•unhealthy complexion, blotchy or pallid skin
•dull, listless hair
•loss of energy and enjoyment of life
Kapha dosha is made of the two elements water and earth. Kapha is responsible for the lubrication of the joints which is helpful in the prevention of arthritis and moisture in the skin. It is located in the chest.
Effects of Unbalanced Kapha
•overweight, weak muscles
•prone to sprains
•unhealthy immune system
The key to rebalancing Vata is to get plenty of rest. Learning meditation and practicing yoga are also beneficial. Drink an adequate amount of fluid throughout the day, especially herbal teas; avoid coffee, alcohol and nicotine if you are trying to rebalance Vata. Avoiding over stimulation is important, loud noise and prolonged TV watching will aggravate Vata. Nothing is more replenishing to this dosha than cheerful colors and sun light.
If you’re feeling listless and depressed you probably need to rebalance your pitta dosha. Stay cool and avoid hot temperatures. Again meditation and yoga can help to rebalance pitta because of their cooling and calming actions. Keep your meal times regular. Choose foods that are dry, sweet and bitter. Avoid foods that are sour, salty and oily. Get plenty of cool fluids but not iced drinks.
Add some variety to your life, don’t cling to old habits and hide yourself away indoors. As with the vata dosha meditation is useful because it will help you to wake your alertness. A diet of foods with astringent tastes such as, turmeric, fenugreek, cayenne, chili peppers will stimulate Kapha. Reduce sweet food.
Alcohol consumption has never been closely associated with health benefits. When it comes to binge-drinking, most consenting adults carry no illusions about the potential havoc they might be wreaking on their own minds and bodies. On the contrary, we welcome it with open arms. It’s FUN to get inebriated, and that’s why we all deliberately choose to poison ourselves, time and time again. “As long as I’m not alcohol-dependent,” the thinking goes, “there’s no long-term downside to throwing a few back every once and again.” But wait, further studies suggests that even moderate drinking can have disproportionately adverse effects on your health, especially when it comes to your sleep cycle (passionate recreational drinkers might want to read something else).
A normal sleep pattern consists of two phases: SWS (slow-wave sleep) and REM (rapid eye movement). Although most sleep is SWS, the other phase, REM, plays a hugely important role in maintaining both mental and physical health. Late-night alcohol consumption, though helpful in bringing on the initial drowsiness that leads to SWS, has proven rather destructive toward the drinker’s more important REM sleep. The effects of alcohol disrupt this deeper, second period of the sleep cycle, and that disruption can have disastrous effects on an individual’s cognitive functioning and physical well-being the next morning. The elderly are especially at risk here, given the higher levels of alcohol intoxication they experience in the blood and brain.
However, late night isn’t the only time drinking can be hazardous to your REM. Even a moderate dose (say, one beer or one glass of wine) consumed in the late afternoon can be enough to wake you up during this crucial second phase of the sleep cycle. And even after you’ve expelled the liquid from your system, studies show that REM sleep is still often disrupted, demonstrating that alcohol’s negative effects may last way past the point that the substance actually exits your body. This is bad news for regular and even semi-regular drinkers. Disruption of REM sleep may seem like an innocuous consequence, but piles of hard evidence indicate that a lack of REM can become very serious if the pattern is not corrected promptly.
Scientists deprived rats of REM sleep as part of an experiment on the sleep cycle, and many of the test subjects died within weeks. In humans, continual REM disruption can lead to daytime fatigue, reduced alertness, and increased risk of depression and heart diseases, not to mention its myriad negative social effects.
So next time you’re thinking of binging on a bottle of Jack before bedtime after a hard day’s work, you might want to take a step back and put things in perspective. For most people, consuming alcohol is only a once-in-a-while habit, and for good reason. Moderation has always been the key to a healthy lifestyle, but in light of this new information, even moderation might be classified as pushing your luck.
Spring is looming ever closer; that means it’s time to brush away the cobwebs, clear out the clutter and get your house in order. While the idea sounds great, in practice it can often seem like an overwhelming task. There’s no need to panic. If you break your spring cleaning down into manageable stages, you are much more likely not only to get started on it, but also to complete it. Don’t forget, once it’s over, you can enjoy the benefits of having a clean and organized home for the rest of the season.
The most important part of successful spring cleaning is preparation. Don’t be tempted to skip on this preliminary stage because if you do, you will end up with extra work to do later. So grab your pen and note pad and let’s take a tour of your home.
The first things to take note of are any spots or items within your home that need to be repaired. This list can be broken down into subcategories; repairs you can do yourself, repairs you need to contract out and items that need taking out of the home to be repaired. You can also add the names and phone numbers of service people as well as any tools or products you may need that you don’t have already. Check fire smoke alarm carbon monoxide detector batteries.
Make a list of the cleaning supplies you need. Don’t start your spring cleaning until you have everything you need. If you have to stop in the middle because you run out of window cleaner or you don’t have a toilet brush, this will just give you an excuse to stall. When you have been to the store and bought everything you need, keep them all in the same place so that you have easy access.
Prepare yourself to lighten your load. Rein in your reluctance to part with things that you no longer need or use. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this year you are going to lighten your load. To make the task easier set out some boxes or trash bags. Label them “give away,” “throw away,” and “recycle.” If you find you have a lot of stuff you’re ready to let go, consider having a yard sale.
Set yourself a completion date. This will vary depending on the size of your house and the number of tasks ahead of you. Be realistic in your goal. Some people like to jump right in and get it done in one day, while others like to spread it over a couple of weeks. Do whatever feels right for you. When the going gets tough and you’re praying you’ll never see another mop as long as you live, just picture yourself relaxing with your feet up in your favorite chair, when it’s all over.
There are so many different types of running shoes that make it difficult for runners to know which one is right for your body. Should you purchase regular running shoes or go barefoot? But never fear, with this handy guide to running shoes, you’ll be able to figure out which is the best one for your feet!
This ever-burgeoning subculture of runners claim that if you run barefoot, it will improve the biomechanics of your foot and will help reduce the risk of injuries. Some experts agree with their claims and say that by going barefoot, your running efficiency goes up by four percent and you also help to strengthen your tendons, ligaments, and natural arches as well. Proponents of barefoot running also argue that it teaches runners to naturally land on their forefoot, improves your balance, and helps you feel more grounded as well.
However, others say that barefoot running does not offer protection from debris such as glass and nails or even the weather—who wants to run barefoot in the blistering heat or extreme cold? It can also cause Achilles tendonitis, calf strain, and even increase plantar pain as well.
Still, if you are a seasoned and experienced runner and want to try running sans shoes, just make sure that it’s on a surface free of any debris and the weather is mild.
If running barefoot is something that intrigues you despite the risks of developing blisters or possibly getting hurt from debris, you should look into minimalist footwear because they are designed to help you slowly ease into barefoot running. Supporters of minimalist running shoes help to strengthen your feet because they force you to run on the forefoot or midfoot and also have less of a heel drop then traditional running shoes.
Yet you won’t be able to instantly make the switch from traditional running shoes to minimalist shoes; you will have to increase your mileage over time just like when you first started running. Otherwise, you may run the risk of seriously injuring yourself if you don’t start off slow.
For runners who don’t want their feet to be weighed down by heavy shoes and don’t want to run barefoot, lightweight shoes are a great choice. They make it easier for runners to have a slight forward lean and achieve a more natural stride. They also come in several different models so that you’ll be sure to find the right shoe for your foot.
However, like the minimalist shoes, you need to give your feet time to adjust to the new footwear. You should also work on strengthening your core due to the forward lean from the shoes and make sure that you stretch before and after a run so you don’t develop any injuries.
Traditional Running Shoes
Today, there are several different types of traditional running shoes that were created to help with over-pronation, cushion control, and supporting low arches. New research also suggests that runners who wear shoes are able to increase their efficiency because they’re able to lengthen their stride.
However, some believe that wearing traditional running shoes can weaken the tendons and ligaments in the feet, which will lead to injuries. There is also the issue of losing one’s natural stride and heel strikes, which is far more common if you’re wearing normal running shoes.
In the end, everyone’s feet are different and we all have different running needs. Make sure you research all your options and be sure to try shoes on in the store before you purchase them. Happy running!
Until I did the research for this article, which is about the healthiest cities in America by the way, I had no idea how widely the scope of the word “healthy” could be. There are cities that are healthier for employees, some are healthier because they are great for exercise, and yet others are heralded because of their superior “brain health.” Please don’t ask. So you can see the task set before me was a little daunting.
Without further adieu, the top five healthiest cities according to Forbes Magazine:
1) Minneapolis, Minnesota: The people in this fair city bike more and smoke less than others. It is amenable to walking in the summer and has plenty of indoor fitness centers to keep you fit in the winter. Watch out though. It also has a high rate of depression due to the longer than average winter.
2) Washington, D.C.: Look out tourists! Some of the more popular areas in DC are so full of joggers and cyclists that there is no room for you to sight-see at times. Residents of the nation’s capital have more places for recreation and they eat their veggies. And if you are worried about the crime there’s good news. This city just made it off of the most dangerous cities list. So they don’t have as much stress now either I’m guessing.
3) Boston, Massachusetts: With lower rates of obesity and diabetes, Bostonians are running neck and neck with the big boys when it comes to healthy cities. They are also walking and biking to work which is probably how 80 percent of them get in their regular exercise. Asthma is a problem in Boston so watch out for that if you are contemplating a move there. Otherwise, have a bowl of that great clam chowder!
4) Portland, Oregon: Shame on Portland for having a “lower level of physical education required in schools!” However, it did make number four on Forbes’ list because it is so green. It has food trucks with veggies and plenty of places to get exercise outdoors. It is also a great place to go fishing which is a creative way to get a healthy entree and some peace and quiet on those stressful days.
5) Denver, Colorado: Once you get used to the altitude of Denver the play time there is just heavenly. Sixty-one percent of its residents are in “excellent or very good” health which is in part due to how much fun you can have at their golf courses, swimming pools and other recreational facilities. Oh, yeah. They’ve also got Peyton Manning so Denver kind of rocks.
When your body experiences stress heart rate and blood pressure increase. This prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response and stress hormones are released. However too much stress causes “allostatic overload,” you might experience this after being in a high pressure interview, or nearly side swiping a car pulling out of the car parking lot. What happens when you’re stressed out and overloaded? Your body can have a hard time re-adjusting, stress indicators in the body stay on longer than necessary and cause wear and tear on your body.
The symptoms of stress-overload can be toxic for the body. It is important that in sedentary environments like the office. You practice stress-reducing exercises so that you can respond appropriately to situations. Studies show, that when someone is under high stress they are not able to think as proactively as they might be able to in non-stressful environments.
• Draw boundaries: know when you are on and off the clock. This will help you fully unwind after you leave work, turn off your blackberry and take a moment to yourself. Inversely, don’t check your cell phone at work, avoid internet sites that distract you and stay productive.
• Eat Healthfully: Even though you may feel as though you deserve that donut, loading up on fats and sugars will only make you crash later in the day leaving you less capable of responding to stressful situations.
• Take a Walk: Even if it’s to the water cooler, get up and take breaks, leave your desk at lunch, go to the rest room, do a loop around the building. These breaks will help you calm down and stay even-keeled.
• Take Accountability: If you make a mistake at work, take responsibility and present a solution to the issue. No one is perfect, but problem solving is a valuable skill. Also, do not take responsibility for others mistakes, encourage your team to be accountable and proud of their work. When people ‘own’ their work good or bad, an trustful environment can emerge.
Follow these steps to keep your office stress free. Decorate your space with plants and inspiring photos or art. Keeping a level-head at work is the first step to getting ahead.
When it’s the dead of winter, looking out the window to see a dramatic blizzard coming down doesn’t exactly brighten anyones day. If you live in a city, this usually means that public transportation will soon be shut down, streets will be un accessible, and overall, it’s going to be rough times all around. If you live in a suburb you may not even be able to get out of your driveway. Even with these down moments of life in the winter months, there are ways to get around seasonal depression.
Once the snow stops, take a walk! Cars may not be able to go through but when the sun starts breaking through the clouds, go explore the winter wonderland. Pretend you’re a little kid again enjoy the beauty of the white stuff!
It’s a known fact that regular exercise gives your body endorphins and will make you feel better about the uncontrollable winter climate. Even if you just do simple home workouts on an everyday basis, you will start to work through your seasonal depression.
Change the Lightbulbs!
It may be dark and gloomy outside, but why does it have to be this way in your home? Make sure you adjust all of the lighting in your house so that it is as bright as can be. If you have to purchase a few extra lighting devices, splurge and go for it because a brighter home will definitely minimize your depression level.
The good news is that soon enough it will be Spring which in my opinion is the most wonderful season there is. My greatest words of wisdom is to look forward to the warmer and brighter days that will follow soon!