Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

1 Comment

20 Things Happy People Do Every Day

By Jennifer White

Lately I’ve been having some down days. Sometimes life throws me lemons, and I let them make my life sour. Then, I remember that I’m not that kind of person—I’m the sort who makes awesome limoncello and throws a party. So here are some tips on how to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you need to, and become the person that you know you have the power to be—here are 20 things that happy people do every single day.

1. Smile—a lot (pass on that happiness).

2. Say “yes” to something that makes you uncomfortable—because you know it’s actually good for you.

3. Practice kindness.

4. Love enthusiastically and with your entire being.

5. Re-commit to goals.

6. Talk to a friend—even if it’s just on the phone.

7. Be your own best friend (practice self-love).

8. Live your beliefs and convictions.

9. Take care of your body.

10. Do something indulgent (this could be a lot of things—a square of dark chocolate, a glass of wine, treating yourself to a yoga class or reading a few pages of a new book).

11. Remember tomorrow’s another day.

12. Let go of the little things.
13. Laugh out loud and from your soul.
14. Enjoy your alone time—even if it’s just in the shower or on the drive to work.
15. Spend time with people you enjoy.
16. Don’t let the people that you must encounter, and don’t enjoy, affect your mood for too long—let them help you grow as a person instead.
17. Grow a little bit closer to your higher self.
18. Let go of ego.
19. Do something you know you need to do but don’t want to.
20. Find the benefits in obstacles.
When life becomes challenging and a little depressing, it’s not the time to give up and accept defeat—it’s your time to shine and see that you’re made of more than you possibly ever imagined. So let this list of 20 things be just the beginning of your daily to-do list for happiness—and then get out there, put on your best smile, and keep adding to it.
Published July 23, 2012           source: mindbodygreen


Leave a comment

New York City fast food chains cut trans fat under regulations

By Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK | Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:04pm EDT

(Reuters Health) – Fast-food patrons in New York City are eating far less unhealthy fat since restrictions on its use by restaurants were imposed four years ago, a report sponsored by the city said.

Trans fats, especially common in hydrogenated vegetable oils, have been linked to long-term heart disease risk.

The study, released on Monday, found the average meal went from containing nearly three grams of trans fat to just half a gram.

“It’s a small step forward,” said Alice Lichtenstein, a nutrition science researcher from Tufts University in Boston, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine bit.ly/MnBiCA.

“This is just trans fat. It doesn’t have any effect on calories. It doesn’t mean that you can eat as much of it as you want,” she told Reuters Health.

“We have to think about these changes within the context of the whole diet. This is one small change in the right direction. We need a whole lot more.”

In 2006, New York City passed regulations prohibiting restaurants from serving food that contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and has half a gram or more of trans fat per serving. Those restrictions went into effect in 2008.

To test the policy’s result, researchers briefly surveyed customers leaving 168 different fast-food restaurants, belonging to 11 popular chains, the year before and the year after the restrictions were first enforced.

Those chains included McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Yum Brands Inc restaurants KFC and Pizza Hut.

Based on receipts from 6,969 customers surveyed in 2007, the average fast-food meal purchased that year had 2.9 grams of trans fat. By 2009, that figure was 0.5 grams in a sample of 7,885 customers.

The number of meals without any trans fat increased from 32 percent of all purchases before the regulations to 59 percent afterward.

What’s more, there was no spike in the amount of saturated fat in fast-food meals during the study period – as some had feared – so the total amount of “bad” fats in the average purchase dropped substantially.

Trans fat is “fully replaceable with healthier oils, so we knew that was something that could be changed,” said Christine Curtis, from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who worked on the study.

“We were really pleased,” she told Reuters Health. The study “really demonstrates that local regulation can reduce exposure to trans fat.”

Curtis said the trans-fat regulation could end up leading to health benefits down the line. “It does have the potential to have a really big impact on cardiovascular disease risk,” she said.

(Editing by Christine Soares and Xavier Briand)

source: reuters

Leave a comment

6 Superfoods You Need To Know About

Here is a list of six superfoods that pack a nutritional punch. Try and incorporate them into a healthy, whole food diet to experience a wide array of health benefits.

1. Chia Seeds – These seeds originally gained popularity back in the 1990s when they were spread on ceramics and sprouted to grow Chia Pets. Chia seeds are now being raved about in the health community because of the nutritional boost they will provide when added to your diet. They are mineral rich and are loaded with antioxidants. Chia seeds are a good source of healthy fat (omega-3s) and protein. They have lots of fiber which helps bulk up stools. The fiber will also slow down digestion leaving you feeling full for a longer period of time after eating a meal containing chia seeds.

2. Acai Berry – This berry is one of the healthiest berries on the planet. Acai is extremely high in antioxidants which help eliminate free radicals in the body. It increases the overall blood circulation in the body which may contribute to a boost in sex drive, especially in men. Acai is extremely high in ellagic acid and vitamin C which together boost the immune system. This positive effect on the immune system has been shown to suppress the growth of cancer. For centuries acai has been eaten by the people in Brazil to treat skin conditions. If the berries are eaten regularly they can give your skin a healthy glow.

3. Kale – This dark leafy green is a nutrition powerhouse. Kale is packed with vitamins (including vitamins A, C and K) and minerals. It provides the body with omega-3 fatty acids which our body doesn’t produce on its own. We need to get our omega-3s either through the diet or supplementation. Kale is high in iron which is used to produce hemoglobin in the blood. Per calorie kale has more calcium than cow’s milk so it is helpful in preventing osteoporosis.

4. Cacao/Chocolate – I know it may be hard to believe but chocolate in its pure form is a superfood. Cacao is packed with vitamins and minerals including magnesium and zinc. It is loaded with antioxidants, containing ten times as many antioxidants as blueberries! Cacao contains a couple of special chemicals named phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide. PEA is produced naturally in our bodies when we get excited and brings on a similar feeling as when you fall in love. Anandamide makes you feel excited and alert.

5. Broccoli – Broccoli contains an abundance of vitamin C which aids in relieving the symptoms of the common cold and helps with iron absorption. It contains indole-3-carbinol which can help prevent hormone related cancers such as prostate and breast cancer. Broccoli contains sulforaphane that helps increase the level of certain enzymes in the body that block cancer. It is also rich in fiber which helps lower cholesterol.

6. Coconut Oil – This food is diverse in the number of ways it can be used. You can cook with it (very heat stable), use it as a body lotion or add it to your morning smoothie. The lauric acid (saturated fat) found in coconut oil increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and builds up the body’s immune system. Lauric acid will also destroy harmful viruses and bacteria in the body. Applied topically coconut oil provides UV protection by blocking around 20% of UV exposure. Coconut oil can be used as an all natural and chemical free sexual lubricant. Even though coconut oil is over 90% saturated fat it is great for weight loss. It is minimally stored as fat in the body and increases the body’s metabolism to burn more calories.

Enjoy experimenting with this list of superfoods. Always remember – You are what you eat!

1 Comment

Manage your brain — it’s your most important asset

By Charlotte Tomaino, Special to CNN
July 4, 2012

Editor’s note: Charlotte Tomaino is a clinical neuropsychologist with 30 years of experience. Dr. Tomaino is dedicated to helping patients develop practical solutions for the traumatic loss of brain function.

(CNN) – What does it mean to manage your own brain?

The field of neuropsychology — the applied form of neuroscience — is now offering an emerging consciousness about the brain’s inner workings. As with everything, it is when we know how the brain works that we can have something to say about how to work it.
In my new book, “Awakening the Brain,” I discuss the possibility of managing the brain and the questions of how to do it, and why we should want to.

The billions of neurons and the trillions of connections between them in each of our brains keep changing with every experience, even when we sleep. We are in a state of constant change that can happen by choice or will happen by chance. We are evolving in every moment with the chemistry of each sound, sight, thought and emotion that passes through the brain.

As you begin to understand the dynamic nature of you and the movement of chemistry that never ceases, you glimpse the importance of being conscious and making choices. Change is inevitable. The only question is whether you are going to have something to say about it.

Make your ‘rainy brain’ sunnier

As neuroscience has revealed the functions of those inner structures in our heads that create who we are, the capacity for making a “neurochoice” is now available.
Neurochoices are your options for brain change by choice, because you know enough about your brain and care enough to make choices to focus it in healthy, growth-producing ways.

A key concept that reveals your power of influence comes from Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb, who said, “the neurons that fire together, wire together.” This is the neuroscience version of “practice makes perfect.”

Anything you do repetitively will activate the neurons in your brain, which makes the action more likely to be repeated in the future. Neuroplasticity, the adaptability of the brain, is operating at all times. You can have neuroplasticity working for you if you target your outcome, or it can work against you if you allow yourself to just react.

The downside of neuroplasticity is evident in the insidious nature of addictions. Habits that control us start subtly, sneaking up until they take over. The first drink to relieve stress can lead to a need for two drinks to be able to relax. The brain is trained by our choices, and automatic behavior is developed or changed by the neurochoices we make.

However, there are many examples of the upside of neuroplasticity. Engaging in new behaviors to enhance our health like regular exercise will lead to improved muscle tone, cardiac function, stronger bones, better respiratory function, more balanced emotions and calmer nerves, greater mental clarity and a better night’s sleep. Once you start an exercise program, you will notice that after a while, you just feel better on a regular basis and feel worse when you miss a day. Just getting into the habit of regular exercise is a neurochoice that will improve your health and quality of life.

There is no shame in not being Superman

You can manage your brain in times of stress as well. There are three easy steps to keep your balance and stay in touch with your best self to achieve your best outcome.
Shift your focus. As tension mounts and you notice a problem looming large in your mind, shift your focus from a reactive position about the conflict to a focus on the solution.
Ask a question like: How would you like this to work out? The brain loves a question and will search for the answer if you provide the focus. All thoughts produced will then follow a different path if you are seeking an answer to your question.

Breathe, breathe, breathe. As you breathe in and out at a consistent pace, you will notice your heart rate slowing, regulated to a calmer and more even state. As the heart automatically speeds up under stress, it affects the nervous system and hyperfocuses you on reacting to the problem rather than thinking through the solution.

Make a conscious choice. Relax your muscles, which spontaneously tense up in the face of conflict or danger.

In the “fight or flight response,” your body is ready to keep you safe but is often overreacting to events that can be better resolved from a more relaxed state. There is greater creativity and more access to your intelligence in ease.

Remember, you invent your own life. The more aware you are of the outcomes you are creating, the more you can achieve the life you want. Stay smart in life by managing your own brain.

source: CNN

Leave a comment

Tartrazine is not just a food colourant

(NaturalNews) These days, most food products that are specifically marketed to children contain tartrazine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop here. Tartrazine is also found in many medications, cosmetics and personal care products. It is in fact derived from coal tar. Some may not be familiar with what coal tar actually is or where it originates from. The online dictionary at www.dictionary.reference.com refers to coal tar as `a thick, black, viscid liquid formed during the distillation of coal, that upon further distillation yields compounds, as benzene, anthracene, and phenol, from which are derived a large number of dyes, drugs and other synthetic compounds, and that yields a final residuum (coal-tar pitch), which is used chiefly in making pavements.`

Tartrazine can also be seen on ingredient labels as FD&C yellow 5, E102 or C.I. 19140. It is one of a group of dyes known as azo dyes. It is in fact an artificial colouring that is used to make foods and other products more visually appealing or appetizing. It is also used in the printing, textile and paper-manufacturing industries as pH indicators or biological stains.

Side-Effects of TartrazineTime and time again, tartrazine has been proven to cause many different side-effects and allergic reactions in people. These can include: anxiety, migraines, asthma attacks, blurred vision, eczema, other skin rashes, thyroid cancer, Eosinophilia (increase in specific forms of white blood cells), clinical depression, ADHD or hyperactivity, hives, permanent DNA damage, heart palpitations, rhinitis, sleep disturbances/insomnia, general all-over weakness, hot flushes and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). In severe cases, anaphylactic-like reactions to tartrazine have also been reported. It is sometimes even fed to chickens to make their egg yolks more yellow and visually appealing!

Studies have also revealed that consuming tartrazine also aggravates and increases the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (a painful wrist condition which is caused by the compression of the median nerve, which passes between the ligaments and bones in the wrist). The reason for this aggravation is because tartrazine interferes with the metabolism of Vitamin B6 in the body. By eliminating tartrazine from the diet, it is possible to reduce and even prevent the occurrence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The main reason that tartrazine is used is because of the fact that it is a cheap alternative to beta-carotene, which is 100% natural and beneficial to our health. Turmeric can also be used as an alternative colourant in savoury dishes. Malt and Annatto can also replace this extremely unhealthy additive.

Sourcs: NaturalNews.com

Leave a comment

Are ‘Cat Ladies’ More Likely to Attempt Suicide?

By Alexandra Sifferlin       

Women who are infected with the common cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii may be more vulnerable to suicide, a new study finds, adding to the evidence that T. gondii or Toxo, as the bug is known, may cause subtle changes in the human brain that lead to personality changes and even mental illness.
The parasite is excreted in cat feces — which is why pregnant women are advised not to change the litter box — but it also spreads through undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables. Pregnant women who become infected with T. gondii can pass it onto their fetus, possibly causing brain damage or stillbirth. Now the new study finds that expectant mothers who have the infection, called toxoplasmosis, may themselves be at higher risk of suicide.
The finding comes from a study of 45,788 Danish women who gave birth between May 15, 1992, and January 15, 1995. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers tested the women’s babies for T. gondii antibodies, which the infants could only have acquired from their mothers, and compared infection rates to the women’s suicide rates logged in the Danish health registry. The team also cross-checked the mental health registry to find out if any of the women had been previously diagnosed with mental illness.

They found that women who were infected with T. gondii were one-and-a-half times more likely to attempt suicide than uninfected women. The higher the levels of T. gondii antibodies found, the higher the suicide risk. They were also more likely to try to commit suicide violently, with a gun, sharp object or by jumping. When the researchers took into account women’s previous mental illness, they found that those who had toxoplasmosis were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had been mentally ill.

“We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies,” lead study author Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The findings fall in line with previous studies on T. gondii infection in humans. (In animals also, the parasite has been shown to subvert brain chemistry and manipulate behavior, sometimes dangerously.) A Czech scientist, Jaroslav Flegr, has studied T. gondii‘s effect on human personality and mental illness for decades, as detailed in a lengthy article in The Atlantic in March. The bug resides in about one-third of the world’s population (in the U.S., 10% to 20% are infected), but it usually doesn’t cause any noticeable effects — healthy people fight off the flu-like symptoms of an initial infection, after which the parasite lies dormant in the brain. “[O]r at least that’s the standard medical wisdom,” wrote Kathleen McAuliffe in The Atlantic:

If Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”

Still, Flegr acknowledged that the effects of the parasite on personality were “very subtle” and that the “vast majority” of people wouldn’t even know they were infected. As for whether T. gondii infection could be used to predict self-harm or the odds of a car crash, Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky told McAuliffe: “[I]’m not too worried, in that the effects on humans are not gigantic. If you want to reduce serious car accidents, and you had to choose between curing people of Toxo infections versus getting people not to drive drunk or while texting, go for the latter in terms of impact.”

In the new study, researchers couldn’t establish that T. gondii infection caused increased risk of suicide, only that it was associated. And they’re not sure exactly why the link exists. “Is the suicide attempt a direct effect of the parasite on the function of the brain or an exaggerated immune response induced by the parasite affecting the brain? We do not know. In fact, we have not excluded reverse causality as there might be risk factors for suicidal behavior that also make people more susceptible to infection with T. gondii,” said Postolache in the statement.

The authors call for further studies focusing on the biological mechanisms of the parasite and how it may affect people’s suicide risk and other personality factors. If the findings hold up, perhaps T. gondii infection could be used to help prevent some of the 10 million suicide attempts that occur each year. “If we can identify a causal relationship, we may be able to predict those at increased risk for attempting suicide and find ways to intervene and offer treatment,” Postolache said.
In the meantime, people should cook their meat through, wash their vegetables and give their kitchen knives a good scrubbing to avoid spreading or contracting the parasite.
The study was published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

source: Time

Leave a comment

The Most Anti-Inflammatory Mushroom

Dr. Michael Greger   July 6, 2012
Atherosclerotic plaques may be more aptly described as pimples. These inflamed pockets of pus building up in the lining of our arteries can rupture, cut off our hearts’ blood supply, and kill us. In my 2-min. video Arterial Acne, I profile a New England Journal of Medicine review that describes the process.
Death from heart disease starts with cholesterol infiltrating the lining of the coronary arteries crowning our heart. This triggers an inflammatory response. The inner lining of our artery produces adhesion molecules to snag white blood cells, called monocytes, that zoom past in the blood stream to try to repair some of the havoc cholesterol had wreaked inside the artery wall. Other inflammatory cells are called into action, more pus builds up, and it can end up like a big whitehead sticking out into the blood flow inside the artery. The blood pulsating past can rip off the cap and clot off the entire width of the artery, which can result in a fatal heart attack.
The best way to stop this life-threatening cascade is to prevent it in the first place.  As I describe in my 2-min. video Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease, we can block the buildup of cholesterol by increasing our intake of fiber-containing plant foods and decreasing our intake of trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol found in junk food and animal products.
Cholesterol-induced zits in the lining of our coronary arteries can also occur in other blood vessels. In our head they can cause a stroke (videos about stroke), in our back they can cause degenerative disk disease (Cholesterol and Lower Back Pain), in our abdomen they can cause an aneurysm (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Ticking Time Balloons), and in our pelvis they can cause sexual dysfunction in both men (Atkins Diet: Trouble Keeping It Up) and women (Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction). Thankfully, Avoiding Cholesterol Is A No Brainer. It’s Purely a Question Of Diet. Trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol should be kept to a minimum.

Some plants may be too anti-inflammatory to be used during pregnancy though. For the same reason aspirin should be avoided by pregnant women, chamomile has such powerful anti-inflammatory properties that regular consumption may result in a serious fetal heart problem, premature constriction of the fetal ductus arteriosus (which allows the fetus to “breathe” in the womb). More in my recent 2-min. video Chamomile Tea May Not Be Safe During Pregnancy.

Image credit: julie gibbons / Flickr

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

source: care2.com