Showing posts with label Healthy Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Healthy Living. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vitamin Nature

This is Day 8 of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is A dose of Vitamin N. Please visit the other participants for more interesting views on this topic.


What is Vitamin N? The answer is simple. It is Nature. You may be wondering why nature is now classified as a Vitamin.

Let's look at it this way. Think about how you feel after a walk in the park, a picnic by the lake, a visit to the zoo, or a camping trip. Okay so all camping trips aren't great, particularly when Mother Nature is not cooperating, e.g. rain. But still, you are out in the wide open spaces, building fires, playing ball, or whatever gets your nature-related groove on. You get the idea - you just feel better.

We are connected to the earth, grass, trees, sky and water. All of these are things we, as humans, are hard wired to love. It's in our DNA so to speak, and we can actually suffer from withdrawal when we are deprived. Our connection with nature helps reduce the stress that builds up in our technologically-powered lives.

Being one with nature is also good for the brain. While getting some exercise outdoors in the fresh air, we breathe more deeply thus supplying our brain with an abundance of oxygen. Did you know that your brain uses 20% of body's oxygen supply? Studies have even shown there to be a connection between ADHD and the lack of vitamin N. Children across the board respond to nature therapy with a reduction in symptoms.

There is even a term for the lack of nature in our lives. It is called Nature Deficiency Disorder? The good news is that it is totally curable.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get yourself a big dose of Vitamin N, the ultimate natural vitamin.



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Thursday, March 19, 2015

8 Ways to Improve Your Memory

Do you keep misplacing your keys? Do you go upstairs to get or do something and can't remember what? Did you forget the name of the person you just met?  

Even if you think your memory is too bad or it's too late to change, know this, the brain has an enormous capacity to adapt and change - even into your senior years.  Your brain is part of your body so it stands to reason that what keeps your body happy and healthy would do the same for your brain.  Here are some tips to keep your faculties at their best.



Sleep. Get plenty of sleep.  Sleep deprivation compromises all mental function, including key memory enhancing activity.

Physical Exercise.  Exercise increases oxygen to the brain, reducing the risk of diseases that can lead to memory loss and enhancing the effect of helpful brain chemicals like serotonin, noradrenalin, and dopamine.  Each of these chemicals is vital to a physically, emotionally and mentally healthy body.

Focus.  Pay attention and be patient.  It takes about 8 seconds to process a piece of information into memory.  It helps to make a connection between new information and previously stored information. I think this one could make the most difference because in our fast-paced lives we are just moving from one thing to another so quickly we are not absorbing the information.

Mental exercise is also essential for a healthy brain.  Like our bodies, our brain becomes used to the same exercises, so keep your mental exercises new, challenging and fun. Try working the Sunday crossword puzzle or play memory games, such as Lumosity, on the computer.

Nutrition.  We all know that eating a healthy, balanced diet with less fat, carbs and fewer processed foods, is supposed to keep our bodies healthy. The same applies to our brain health as well.  Try adding more whole foods to your diet including fatty fish (omega 3), colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and wine (in moderation, of course).

De-Stress.  Stress plays a large part in short-term memory loss. For improved mental function, try some form of meditation.  Meditation means awareness, so anything done with a single focus, blocking out all other distractions, is effective meditation. Notice that there is only a one-letter difference between meditation and medication.

Friend Therapy. Humans, being highly social animals, do not thrive in isolation. We need meaningful relationships for both emotional and mental health. Research has shown that the more active your social life, the slower your memory decline.  To stay socially active consider volunteering, join a club or church, get together with friends more often, and don't overlook the value of having a pet - animals are very therapeutic. 

Laughter. Laughter is the best medicine for brain and body alike.  It engages multiple areas across the whole brain. Focus on finding the funny in everyday life, hang out with fun, happy people, and surround yourself with things that evoke good memories and make you smile.

Keep in mind that there is a boatload of information and tips for healthy brain function and better memory. These are just few ideas to get you thinking, reading and becoming invested in yourself. 


Sources:
How to Improve Your Memory
Brain Chemical Messengers
Memory Loss

Disclaimer:  For information purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice.




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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Designer Blues


“Well this just sucks,” Amy complained bitterly to her friend, Sharon, as they tried on designer jeans.  She had been a six forever, and now she was squeezing into a size ten.  On her wedding day everyone raved about how she looked in that figure-hugging gown of satin and lace.  Ever since her divorce, however, things went downhill while her weight crept upward.

“Cheer up” replied Sharon, “you still look great.  I saw that TDH checking you out at the club last week.”  TDH in their code stood for tall, dark and handsome, or in today’s lingo, a "hot guy".

“Yeah, I camouflage it very well," she said wryly.  "Some days I convince myself it’s not so bad, and other days I rationalize that I’m not the only one whose waistline has expanded or have parts that jiggle that were never meant to.”

“C’mon, let’s get a smoothie” Sharon suggested, hoping to take her friend’s mind off her woes.  “We’ll get one of those healthified ones made with fat-free frozen yogurt and skim milk.”

“All right,” Amy agreed.  “I haven’t had lunch yet anyway.  Hey, maybe I’ll renew my membership at the gym.  I sure won’t change my life sitting on the couch watching Law and Order reruns.”

“Atta girl!  I may just join you.  What have I got to lose?”

Ann sighed.  “In my case, about twenty pounds!”

Two weeks later Amy and Sharon met at the gym after work.  They each had set up a workout schedule, and Sharon was excited to see her body changing.  “I’ve already lost an inch around my waist” she exclaimed.  “That’s awesome!”

“I’m glad one of us is seeing some results,” Amy said glumly.  “I’ve lost about five pounds, but apparently in all the wrong places, if you know what I mean.  I might have to look into one of those low-cost tummy tucks.  If I lose weight, but still have lumpy, bumpy fat bulging out, what’s the point.  Covering up only works so long, you know?  Soon it will be time for swim suits.  Arrrrgggghhhh!

“Well, there’s that,” responded Sharon with a groan as she put down her weights.  “I know. How about liposuction.  I’ve got a cousin who had liposuction to lose some excess weight.  It worked for her, and she looks fantastic.”

"I guess it's something to think about," said Amy, already imagining herself at the beach in a brand new hot pink bikini.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Under the Weather?


Ever wonder where the expression "under the weather" came from?
With everyone waxing poetic about the beauty of fall, there is also a down side of this lovely season; it heralds the coming of the cold and flu season.  When we fall prey to these nasties, we tend to say that we are "under the weather".  Just this past weekend, I used that phrase myself and began to wonder of its origins.

The phrase "under the weather" dates back to the 1800s.  When sailors would become seasick, they would be sent below deck to get away from the weather, thus literally being "under the weather".  Author Donald Grant Mitchell was the first to use this phrase in his 1850 book Reveries of a Bachelor, and it has since been used for everything from being "ill" or "indisposed" to "financially embarrassed" or "drunk".

Some state that the correct term is "under the weather bow".  The weather bow is the side of the boat being hardest hit by the nasty weather.

Also there is the belief that the weather can affect one's health, so a sick person is deemed to be "under the weather".  From this theory, it stands to reason that the weather can also influence a person's mood, rendering them under the weather as well.  This is documented as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I touched on last fall in my post Just Another Monday.

We all know the steps to staying healthy during the cold and flu season, but here's a recap so we don't have say, "Sorry, I can't.  I'm under the weather."

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer when you can't wash.
  • Do not touch your face - nose, eyes, mouth - that is the germ's way into your system.
  • Keep your distance from those are already sick.
  • In turn, if you do get sick, stay home away from others.
  • And of course, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yogurt...Good and Good For You?

OK, today we're going on a little trip, a health trip that is.  Are you a fan of yogurt?  The regular stuff that has been around for years or the new, supposedly more healthy versions such as Activia or Dan Active yogurt drink?  I don't always jump on any new bandwagon that happens along, but lately, I thought what the heck, let's give it a try, since we eat yogurt anyway.   So now what to choose?

Activia is supposed to be good for your digestive health.  They even have a money-back guarantee of up to about $12, if it doesn't work for you.  Yoplait has their own version called Yo-Plus, and they are offering free Yo-plus for switching from Activia (receipt, completed form and UPC required).  Activia comes in a variety of flavors, a light version and a drinkable yogurt.

Dan Active claims to help support your immune system.  This product is a drinkable yogurt that comes in a variety of flavors (some in light).  Do any of these do all that they claim?  Check out their websites, do your research and come to your own conclusions.

I read about both products, and regularly purchase both.  Will it make a difference in our overall health, I don't know, but I figure they won't do any harm, and I still get calcium and the good bacteria that we've know for years are good for us.  These fancy new products are more expensive, but with sales and coupons you can still get a reasonably good deal.  Also, Costco has Activia and Dan Active in bulk packaging.  There is yet another way to score a deal on all things Dannon.  They have a program called Dannonomics where you buy products, mail in receipts and completed form and receive dollars off coupons.  The coupons you get are based on the quantity and variety of items purchased.  The program continues through December 31, 2009, so save your receipts, download the form and get up to $15 in coupons.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Weight Loss: Is it realistic?

This is directed toward those with minor weight gain, but still within safe weight and body mass indicators, not those with severe weight problems that may require more drastic measures such as surgery or a medically supervised weight loss program.

After years of battling weight gain issues, this is what I have concluded:

There is no secret to weight loss, no magic pill, or potion, no other legitimate way other than to eat less and exercise more. Calories in, calories out. It's as simple as that.  However, there are things you can do to make the journey to a slimmer you easier.
  • It takes 3,500 calories to make a pound.  Every 3,500 calories you take in that you don't burn off adds another pound of weight to your body.  To lose weight, you need to either eat an average 500 fewer calories per day or burn 500 more calories through exercise, or a combination of both.  
  • You don't have to give up the foods you love; all things in moderation. You can still eat at your favorite fast food place.  The key is moderation. Don't load up on the extras.  Super-sizing is a no-no.  After you have determined your calorie needs, then look at the nutrition charts for each restaurant.  Many fast food restaurants have this information on-line. Just google the restaurant name and the word "nutrition", and it should take you to that area of the web site.  Armed with this information, you can choose something that fits your new lifestyle.  We don't call it a diet here.
  • Eating 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day will keep your body fueled with energy and help fight hunger.  
  • Make sure you eat enough food.  You've heard all your life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This is true. If you skip breakfast your body will go into starvation mode.   If you don't eat enough, your body thinks it is starving and will start to consume muscle for energy instead of fat.  Your muscle mass is key to burning calories.  Use this muscle for energy and your metabolism will slow down, you may stop losing weight, or even gain weight.  This can happen in as few as 3 days of extremely low calorie intake.  In other words, you can sabotage your weight loss program by eating too little.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Some experts recommend 8 glasses per day.  This will also help keep your metabolism on an even keel.
  • Exercise.  There are countless sources touting their exercise plans and as many guidelines as to how much, and how often to exercise.  One thing to keep in mind when creating your own exercise routine is to keep it balanced.  There are 3 major types of exercise:  Cardio, such as cycling or aerobics, or even just walking, which increases the heart rate and burns fat.  Strength training (using weights or other forms of resistance), which helps strengthen, tone and build muscle mass.  Flexibility and core training such as yoga and pilates to keep you limber and reduce the chance of injury while performing everyday tasks.  A well-rounded exercise program should incorporate each of these types of exercise.
I advocate neither the "ultra-thin, size 2 or else look" nor the "there's just more of me to love" look.  It is all about finding your healthy weight, and learning how to maintain it. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cranberry Juice: Fab or Fad?

I have never been a fan of cranberries or cranberry juice.  I thought it had a harsh, strong taste that I didn't like.  I am the one who always passes on the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.  When I accidentally picked up a cranberry muffin, I picked all the cranberries out...yuck.  Well, I am proof of how your taste can change over time, although my change stems somewhat from a desire for healthier living, as well as a change in taste buds.

As such, I have been researching the health benefits of cranberry juice, beyond bladder infections, and have found that cranberry juice benefits a whole host of other issues.  It is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which is why it is so good at fighting off infections including respiratory and middle ear infections.  For instance, some studies show that it changes the E. Coli bacteria in ways that prevent it from causing infection. 

Cranberries are also heart-wise.  The antioxidants may protect the heart by lowering bad cholesterol, relaxing blood vessels, and reducing plaque buildup in the arteries.  Seems like a good reason to drink it to me.

Cranberries contain a compound shown to kill or inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory.  It is not known if this can be repeated outside the lab. Drinking cranberry juice, however, will not cure cancer.

We have touched on some of the ways cranberries are good for us.  Later we will explore the cranberry from a culinary view.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Just Another Monday

It dawned a clear sunny day here.  It's really nice after all the dreary days last week.  Not that I am complaining about the rain after all the drought we've had the last several years, but a little balance is nice.  

About 5 years ago, we had an extended dreary period.  My husband was out of town a lot, and I had no family left in town so I was, for all practical purposes, alone except for my cats.  Every day I hoped for sunshine, and every day it was dark and dreary.  I'd rather it had rained and gotten it over with.  I had never before considered how the lack of sun could affect one's mood.  There is a real medical condition caused by the lack of sunlight called SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

These are the symptoms of SAD.
  • Afternoon slumps with decreased energy and concentration
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Decreased interest in work or other activities
  • Depression that starts in fall or winter
  • Increased appetite with weight gain
  • Increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Social withdrawal
I'm pretty sure I didn't have it, or if I did it was very mild.  I was definitely down in the dumps, though, and sad in the normal sense of the word.  I felt a keen sense of boredom even though there was, and always is, plenty to do around my house.  I did the chores, and worked in the yard, as it was fall, and the leaves were coming down, but I was always waiting for something...When this weather pattern finally broke and the sun came out, I cheered up somewhat.  Now I was still alone most of the time, but things did seem better.  I had read about SAD before, but hadn't experienced the glumness.  I believe it is a very real condition, and thankfully I didn't have it full out.

For those truly affected, there are treatments such as antidepressants and light therapy, and it will clear up on its own with the change in seasons.  Sometimes, however, SAD can progress to a major depression syndrome.

There is a lot of data on the internet about seasonal depression.  Check here for more information, or search on "Seasonal Affective Disorder".
I'm not a doctor and have no medical knowledge on this subject, so please seek professional help if you feel you may be affected by SAD.

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