Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

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19 of Maya Angelou’s Most Powerful Quotes to Remember Her By

May 28, 2014

Best known for her poems and essays, Maya Angelou was a Rennaisance woman. She died on Wednesday at the age of 86.

As a poet, author, playwright, director, performer, actress, professor, producer, singer and civil right’s activist, “I have created myself,” she told USA Today. “I have taught myself so much.”

Many of us read her best known book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in school. Published in 1969, it lyrically recounted her years growing up in the Jim Crow South. The memoir was one of the first autobiographies by a 20th century black woman to reach a general readership.

In addition to her six volumes of autobiographies, Angelou wrote iconic poems including “Still I Rise,” which Nelson Mandela read aloud at his presidential inauguration.

Angelou received her most national attention in 1993 when she recited the poem at Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

Angelou’s powerful words are not in danger of losing their relevance. Her brilliance, admired by generations, holds a particular resonance when viewed through the lens of youth. Angelou’s best advice can teach us how to live our lives better. Here are some of her greatest insights on what it means to live.

1. On personhood

“I speak to the Black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition — about what we can endure, dream, fail at and survive.”

2. On history

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

3. On change

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

4. On the meaning of life

“Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.”

5. On courage

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

6. On self-respect

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”


7. On trusting yourself

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

8. On truth

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

9. On a life well lived

“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”

10. On forgiveness

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

11. On perseverance

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

12. On kindness

“People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

13. On common ground

“We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.”

14. On individuality

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

15. On changing lives

“The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.”

16. On love

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

17. On courage

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”

18. On wellness

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

19. On being true to yourself

“We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay — and rise!”

source: www.policymic.com


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How To Benefit From Nutritious Sesame Seeds

Diana Herrington    May 25, 2014

“Open Sesame!” were the words spoken by Ali Baba in the Arabian Nights to open the door to the robbers’ treasure.

Open Sesame, describes how the sesame seed pod bursts open when it reaches maturity.

Sesame is known in Africa as “benne” or good luck.

From what we learned in the 20 Huge Health Benefits of Sesame, we can have lots of good luck in our body by eating them.

Sesame seeds are not just luck, they’re an amazing source of health benefits. Sesame seeds are packed with nutrition.

We have been told we must drink milk for healthy bones, but sesame provides calcium and other benefits without the dairy problems.

Sesame Nutrition:

1. One quarter cup of sesame seeds provides more calcium than a whole cup of milk.

  •     1/4 cup of raw sesame seeds = 351 mg of calcium.
  •     1 cup of whole milk = 291 mg of calcium.
  •     Milk is acid forming and sesame seeds are alkaline.
  •     Calcium is so good for the bones, and can help with migraines and PMS is helped too.

2. Sesame seeds have high quantities of sesamin and sesamolin that belong to a group of beneficial fibers called lignans.

  •     Lingnans can lower cholesterol and help prevent high blood pressure.
  •     Sesamol protects against DNA damage caused by radiation.
  •     Also, sesamin has been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

3. Sesame is a good source of phytosterols, plant sterols.

  •     Plant sterols have been shown to lower blood cholesterol
  •     Also, plant sterols improve heart health.

Sesame seeds are little powerhouses of protein.

4. Sesame seeds contain all the essential amino acids and help achieve a complete protein.

  •     They have a higher protein source than most nuts.
  •     100 g of sesame seeds = 18 g of protein (32 percent of daily-recommended values).

5. Sesame is an excellent source of copper, providing 53 percent of the recommended daily intake in 2 tablespoons of tahini (made from sesame seeds).

  •     Copper is a powerful antioxidant that helps the immune system.
  •     Copper as an anti-inflammatory and can reduce the swelling of rheumatoid arthritis.
  •     Also, copper is used by enzymes that build connective tissue, metabolizing iron and synthesizing neurotransmitters.

6. Sesame seeds are a very good source of manganese.

  •     Manganese is important for the bones.
  •     Manganese is also an essential nutrient for many enzyme systems in the body.

7. Sesame seeds are high in zinc.

  •     This mineral is needed for bone density. A study found a correlation between low dietary intake of zinc and osteoporosis.

8. Sesame seeds have many B-complex vitamins (thiamin (B1), niacin, folic acid, pyridoxine (B6) and riboflavin).

  •     B-complex vitamins help to improve the nervous system, organs, muscles, skin and hair.

9. Sesame seeds are rich in essential minerals such as magnesium and iron.

  •     Minerals are needed for red blood cell production, bone mineralization, enzyme synthesis and hormone production.

10. Sesame seeds are high in mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid.

  •     Oleic acid helps lower bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the blood.

Warning: Sesame seed allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction in some sensitive people. Reactions include hives, dermatitis and itching. Some with an extreme hypersensitivity may have more serious symptoms like vomiting, pain in abdomen, swelling of lips and throat leading to breathing difficulty, chest congestion, and death. Sesame products should be avoided by these people.

Sesame has been used throughout history in many forms.

Sesame Seed Trivia:

  •     Did you know that India ink comes from the black residue from using sesame oil in lamps?
  •     Fragrant flowers were dipped in sesame oil and then used for bathing and hair dressing.
  •     A thousand years ago, the Assyrians, believed that their gods drank sesame wine before creating the earth.
  •     To prolong youth, women in ancient Babylon would eat halva made up of honey and roasted sesame seeds.
  •     In India, sesame seeds are used in sacred rituals, they are a symbol of immortality.
  •     Myanmar, also known as Burma, has the greatest world production of sesame. In 2010, it produced millions of tons of sesame seeds, 18.84 percent of world production.

How to Store:

  •     Sesame contains unsaturated fats, so it is best to store it in a cool dark place in an airtight container, to avoid them turning rancid.
  •     Properly stored dry seeds generally stay fresh for several months.
  •     Always store hulled white seeds in the refrigerator. White sesame seeds have had the hulls removed; they contain 2 to 3 percent oxalic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium and give a bitter flavor.

Tips for eating or cooking:

Sesame Seeds are gluten-free. They don’t contain gluten, making them a perfect food for celiacs and those who simply want to eat gluten-free.

  •     The easiest way to get sesame nutrition into your diet is to use tahini. I love my Tahini Cream Sauce on vegetables or grains like quinoa which can be made savory or sweet.
  •     When making homemade breads and muffins, you can sprinkle sesame seeds on top before baking.
  •     Another easy and tasty way to make a seasoning is to sprinkle sesame seeds called Gomashio onto your foods. Here is my recipe: Gomashio Seasoning



Early Fitness Preserves Thinking Skills 25 Years Later

Even if you are already in middle age or later, the study has some good news.

Young adults who are in good physical shape performed better in cognitive tests 25 years later, a new study finds.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also found that even if you didn’t get too much exercise in your youth, it’s never too late to start, as the benefits can still be seen later on.

One of the study’s authors, David R. Jacobs, said:

    “Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health.”

“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.”

In the study, 2,747 people, whose average age was 25, did a treadmill test which measured their cardiorespiratory fitness (Zhu et al., 2014).

This involved them running on the treadmill while the speed and incline increased, until they had to stop.

Twenty-five years later they were given tests of decision-making, verbal memory and the relationship between their thinking skills and physical actions.


The results showed that for each extra minute they could stay on the treadmill at around 25-years-old, when they reached between 43 to 54-years-of-age, they could:

  •     recall 0.12 more words on a memory test,
  •     replace 0.92 more numbers with symbols in a psychomotor test.

Although these numbers might not seem striking, Jacobs said:

    “These changes were significant, and while they may be modest, they were larger than the effect from one year of aging.

Other studies in older individuals have shown that these tests are among the strongest predictors of developing dementia in the future.

One study showed that every additional word remembered on the memory test was associated with an 18-percent decrease in the risk of developing dementia after 10 years.”

Even if you are already in middle age or later, the study has some good news.

Those who had managed to boost their fitness levels over the 25 years also enjoyed increased cognitive performance.

source: PsyBlog


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Light exercise linked to less disability

By Ronnie Cohen     NEW YORK     Thu May 22, 2014

A woman jogs along the Charles River on an early spring evening in Boston, Massachusetts April 3, 2014.

(Reuters Health) – People who engage in plenty of light movement have a lower risk of developing a disability and losing their capacity to care for themselves, a new study suggests.

The study included middle-aged and older adults who had knee osteoarthritis or were at high risk of developing the condition. It focused specifically on low-intensity exercise, like strolling through a shopping mall or walking around the living room during television commercials.

“This study shows that even light movement is beneficial,” lead author Dorothy Dunlop told Reuters Health.

“We’re asking the couch potato to get off the couch for two hours a day,” said Dunlop, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “You can get up when the commercials come on. You can walk around your block.”

Although public health officials and doctors sing the praises of moderate-intensity and vigorous exercise, the benefits of low-intensity activity remain unclear, the authors write in the British medical journal BMJ.

The new study suggests that any movement has the potential to forestall illness and disability, they add. However, it does not prove that engaging in light activities was the reason certain people maintained their health.

Dunlop and her team studied 1,680 adults between 49 and 83 years old who were living independently in one of four U.S. cities and did not have a disability. All of them had knee osteoarthritis or risk factors for the condition, which occurs when the protective cartilage around the joint wears down over time.

At the beginning of the study, participants wore accelerometers on their hip to measure their physical activity levels during waking hours for seven consecutive days.

Two years later, 149 of those studied had become disabled and could no longer perform basic activities on their own.

The more time participants spent stationary, the more likely they were to develop problems getting around.

As expected, both moderate and vigorous exercise were linked to long-term benefits. But even after the researchers accounted for time spent on those higher-intensity activities, light movement was still associated with a lower risk of disability.

Four or more hours a day of light activity was tied to a 30 percent lower risk of disability, Dunlop said.

What’s more, when the researchers included people who already had disabilities at the start of the study, they found those who engaged in light activity were less likely to see their condition worsen.

“Even among people who cannot do very much moderate activity, there was a strong benefit to participating in light activity to reduce the risk of developing disability as well as disability progression,” Dunlop said.

“We hope this will provide an additional route to better health and will add to the advice physicians give their patients,” she said. “It may be a new route for interventions for people who have health limitations.”

U.S. federal guidelines issued in 2008 call for adults to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. They stress the health benefits of all physical activity but say nothing specifically about light-intensity exercise.

Exercise scientist Todd Manini told Reuters Health he has no doubt about the benefits of moderate exercise. But Manini, from the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, said he remains unconvinced about the benefits of low-intensity movement.

Manini studies the health advantages of exercise and sits on a committee scheduled to make recommendations for new federal exercise guidelines in 2018. He was not involved in the new research.

One limitation of the study is that it cannot determine cause and effect, Manini said. He wondered, for example, if the people who performed more low-intensity activities might have been in better shape to begin with.

He also questioned the range that researchers used to measure low-intensity exercise and whether it could have been so broad that it encompassed moderate exercise as well.

Nevertheless, he praised the study for contributing to a growing body of literature about light-intensity exercise.

“I would love to tell people if you do your light activity, you’re going to get all the benefit,” Manini said. “But it could be a dangerous place to go.”

He fears that expanding federal exercise guidelines to recommend low-intensity activities might provide excuses for people who could exercise more vigorously but would instead move just a little and mostly remain chained to their couches.

But, he said, “You just can’t go wrong with the recommendation of, ‘Just keep moving.’”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1iz7IqG BMJ, online April 29, 2014                  www.reuters.com


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Stressful relationships may raise risk of death

By Shereen Jegtvig     NEW YORK     Mon May 26, 2014

(Reuters Health) – Worries, conflicts and demands in relationships with friends, family and neighbors may contribute to an earlier death suggests a new Danish study.

“Conflicts, especially, were associated with higher mortality risk regardless of whom was the source of the conflict,” the authors write. “Worries and demands were only associated with mortality risk if they were related to partner or children.”

Men and people without jobs seemed to be the most vulnerable, Rikke Lund, a public health researcher at the University of Copenhagen, and her colleagues found.

The health-protecting effects of support from a social network and close connections with family and friends are widely recognized, Lund’s team writes in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

“Less is known about the health consequences of stressful aspects of social relations, such as conflicts, worries and demands,” they write.

To examine the influence of relationship stress on all causes of death, the researchers looked at data from a long-term study in Denmark. They included 9,870 adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s when the study began and tracked their health from 2000 to the end of 2011.

The researchers measured stressful social relations by comparing answers to questions about who – including partners, children, relatives, friends and neighbors – caused worry and conflicts in the participants’ lives.

They also looked at answers to questions about emotional support and symptoms of depression.

During the study period, 4 percent of the women and 6 percent of the men died. Almost half the deaths were from cancer; other causes included cardiovascular disease, liver disease, accidents and suicide.

About one in every 10 participants said that their partner or children were always or often a source of demands and worries. Six percent said they always or often experienced conflicts with other members of their families and 2 percent reported always or often having conflicts with friends.


The researchers also found that 6 percent of participants had frequent arguments with their partner or children, 2 percent with other relatives and 1 percent with friends or neighbors.

People who always or often experienced worries or demands because of their partners had double the risk of dying compared to those who seldom had those experiences.

Participants who always or often experienced worries and demands from their children had about a 50 percent increase in risk of death.

Frequent conflicts also were linked to an increased risk of dying.

Participants who always or often experienced conflicts with their partners or friends had more than double the risk of dying, and if they argued with neighbors, the risk more than tripled.

Having conflicts or worries and demands, and not being part of the labor force was linked to a risk of death about 4.5 times that of a person without those problems.

“I think it really adds to our broader understanding of the influence of relationships, not only on our overall health, but on our longevity – how long we actually live,” Julianne Holt-Lunstad told Reuters Health.

Holt-Lunstad, a psychology researcher at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, was not involved in the study.

“There are a couple of other studies that have shown that negativity in relationships actually is associated with greater risk of mortality, and this study looks specifically across different types of relationships as well and also looks at the gender effect which adds to our understanding,” she said.

Hold-Lunstad explained that just like exercise and eating a healthy diet is good for health, fostering the positive aspects of a relationship can be protective.

“But not all relationships are equal – we need to be careful about the negative aspects as well,” she said.

Holt-Lunstad doesn’t want people to get the impression from this study that ending all imperfect relationships is the right thing to do.

“We know that social isolation is bad for us as well,” she said. “They’re probably both bad and that’s why it might be important to foster the positive aspects rather than just focusing on cutting people out of your life.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1j3AllB Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, online May 8, 2104.     www.reuters.com


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Your “Gluten Intolerance” May Actually Be From Something Else in Wheat

Sarah Zhang

Oh gluten, the least trendy protein of our time. As gluten-free has transcended science and exploded into diet fad, scientists increasingly suspect that gluten intolerance—apart from actual celiac disease—doesn’t exist at all. The true culprit could be a group of carbohydrates, including one in wheat called fructan.

A new story from NPR’s Eliza Barclay does an impressive job of summarizing the recent history of gluten research, which you can be forgiven for finding confusing. In fact, Peter Gibson, the very professor behind the first study with major evidence of non-celiac gluten intolerance, published a paper in 2013 that debunked his earlier study. That’s right, the guy who first came up with gluten intolerance has reversed course.

But where are these “gluten intolerance” symptoms—pain, nausea, bloating—coming from if not gluten? Gibson’s 2013 study also put patients on a diet low in FODMAPs, or a group of carbohydrates called fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols. Gluten-free diets didn’t help these patients, but a low FODMAP diet did.

Now FODMAPs is a real mouthful, so here’s what the group of carbohydrates include. In wheat, the predominant FODMAP is fructan, but it’s found in other foods, too. “FODMAPs include fructose (found in some fruit), lactose (found in some dairy products) and galactans (found in some legumes),” writes to Barclay.

Gluten sensitivity may not have to do with gluten, but it may not totally be a nocebo affect either. “FODMAP-free,” though, doesn’t really roll off the tongue. [NPR]

source: gizmodo.com

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Everyday Psychology You Should Probably Know

1. Sex, danger, and food are meant to draw your attention

Your brain is hardwired to stay safe, reproduce, and eat as a means of survival. Everything else is secondary.

2. Just because you haven’t doesn’t mean you can’t

You have a mental model for just about everything. This allows you to
use past experience and intuitive perceptions to do things you’ve never

3. You see what you expect to see

How we perceive what we see is heavily influenced by context. Our brains
naturally filter irrelevant information in a process called
inattentional blindness.

4. You are built to imitate and empathize

“Mirror neurons” allow us to share other’s experiences and provoke us
to imitate other’s actions. This is why babies imitate facial

5. It’s normal for your mind to wander

Your brain is hardwired to stay safe, reproduce, and eat as a means of survival. Everything else is secondary.

6. We choose the first one on the list

Studies show that when people are presented with a list of options they
are most likely to pick whatever is first. The same is shown to hold
true for voting.

7. You value what’s right in front of you

Being able to hold an object in your hands has more influence on what
people are willing to pay for an item than product presentation or

8. You are motivated by the idea of progress

The “goal-gradient” effect states that the closer you are to your goal,
the more motivated you become. However, your motivation plummets once
the goal is reached.

9. Your social group has a maximum capacity

The size of the neocortex has a direct impact on the number of stable
relationships a species can have. For humans, it’s about 150.

10. You’re more likely to spend money if not asked

Most people are primarily concerned with time, experience and personal connection when making a purchase.