Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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6 Foods That May Help Curb Your Allergies

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD   WebMD   Feature Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD

Seasonal sniffles, sneezes, and itches got you down? There are things you can eat that may ease your allergy symptoms.

No food is a proven cure. But fruits and vegetables are good for your whole body. They’re full of nutrients that can keep you healthy. They may also protect you from seasonal allergies.

Try these items:

1. Onions, peppers, berries, and parsley all have quercetin. Elson Haas, MD, who practices integrative medicine, says quercetin is a natural plant chemical. According to Haas, this chemical may reduce “histamine reactions.”  Histamines are part of the allergic response.

2. Kiwi is a fuzzy fruit rich in vitamin C. It can also cut down on histamines. You can get Vitamin C from lots of foods, including oranges and other citrus fruit.

3. Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain. According to Lawrence Rosen, MD, bromelain can reduce irritation in allergic diseases such as asthma.

4. Tuna, salmon, and mackerel have Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 can help reduce inflammation. Go for two servings of fish every week. A study from Japan found that women who ate more fish had lower levels of hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis.

salmon

5. Kefir is a yogurt drink that contains probiotics. These are good-for-you bacteria that live in your gut. Rosen says they may help prevent and even treat seasonal allergies. You can get probiotics in fermented foods. Look for yogurts that say “live active cultures” on the label. Sauerkraut and kimchi are also good sources.

6. Local Honey. The research is mixed on whether local honey helps you head off allergies. “If you take small doses of the honey early in the season,” Rosen says, “you may develop a tolerance toward pollen in your area.” One study found that people who ate birch pollen honey had fewer symptoms of birch pollen allergy than those who ate regular honey. It’s not a sure thing, but see if it works for you.

Article Sources :
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers.”
Lawrence Rosen, MD.
Kompauer, I. Public Health Nutrition, June 2006.
Ruiter, B. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, July 2015.
Elson Haas, MD, author; integrative family doctor.
University of Maryland Medical Center: “Allergic Rhinitis.”
Pavan, R. Biotechnology Research International, 2012.
Secor, E. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, September/October 2012.
Schubert, R. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, March 2009.
American Heart Association: “Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”
Miyake, Y. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, June 2007.
Nwaru, B. The British Journal of Nutrition, August 2012.
Gui, Y. North American Journal of Medical Sciences, August 2013.
Panzer, A. Current Opinion in Rheumatology, July 2015.
Reviewed on July 07, 2015

source: WebMD
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3 Ways to Bounce Back from Adversity

There’s new data on how to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. Like the old Timex watch commercials, the key to longevity is resilience – the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. For about 20% of us (some research shows the numbers are higher) it comes naturally: You’re glad to get back into of the swing of life pretty quickly, and feel stronger for having weathered the storm. For others, bouncing back is a long, slow slog through the blues until you come out the other side.

resilience

Fortunately, everyone can learn how to gain the health benefits of resilience: less stress, lower risk of heart disease, and less depression and anxiety. Here are three ways you can strengthen your ability to bounce back:

  1. Cultivate an optimistic outlook. This is an important part of being resilient. For us, looking on the bright side is enhanced with daily meditation. This is how we say bye to the stress that causes grumpiness.
  2. Keep your body strong and limber. How? Eat a diet powered by lean protein and lots of veggies, fruits, and 100% whole grains. When you feel physically strong, your self-esteem increases. That’s another vital part of resilience.
  3. Nurture your social connections. They provide security and love, and help keep emotions on an even keel. As blood pressure decreases, ability to cope goes up.

So, reach out and touch someone – physically and emotionally. Remember, two hugs are better than one!


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Get Outside Every Day. Here’s Why.

By: Jordyn Cormier   May 25, 2016

It’s easy to get holed up in our dens of technology, but stepping outside, nature or not, is the best thing for you in oh so many ways. Whether your suffering from frequent colds or you are simply in a creativity rut, the outdoors may be just the fix you’re looking for.

Ditch your stress. Time spent outside, specifically time spent immersed in nature, can bathe you in meditative relaxation. In Japan, it is known as forest bathing, but you don’t need to get deep into a forest to reap benefits. Just stepping into a park can confer immediate effects. In fact, those who spend more time outside experience lower blood pressure and a reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. If you’ve noticed a new crop of gray hairs emerge along your hairline, maybe it’s time to get yourself a little more fresh air.

Reboot your brain. After some time spent outside, you’ll feel more productive, more focused and may even experience an improvement in your memory. Being outside can especially rekindle the spark of creativity that has dissipated from your daily routine. Above all else, those who spend more time outdoors also experience lower incidences of depression. Think of the outdoors as a soothing balm for your brain. Get as much of it as you can.

Get more physically fit. This is a simple equation, really. You can either be sitting indoors or you can be galavanting outdoors. One takes years off of your life. The other adds quality to your life. You’ll use your muscles more, you’ll smile more, you’ll push yourself harder when you get outside. Addicted to your gym membership? Consider the outdoors a free gym membership that you shouldn’t squander.

Reset your eyes. If your job entails you stare at a screen under flickering florescent lights for 8 hours a day, you need to get outside more. The natural light of the outdoors relieves the eyes from the strain of screens and artificial lighting. For children especially, spending more time outdoors may decrease the risk of development of nearsightedness. Keep your eyes healthy by taking a gander outside on the regular.

Become superhuman! Okay, so maybe you won’t suddenly be able to fly, but getting outside on a regular basis seriously jolts your immune system. According to studies, people who spend more time outside have a significantly higher immune function, including an increase in natural killer cells, than those who spend their days indoors. Natural killer cells are powerful agents in the prevention of tumors forming in the body, so the importance of getting out into nature cannot be overstated. Even if you’ve found yourself simply succumbing to colds more frequently, maybe more outdoors time is just what the doctor ordered.

Load up on sunshine. Going outside into the sunshine allows your body to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D, if you haven’t heard it enough, is crazy important for your health. It helps to stave off depression, strengthen bones and can decrease your risk of heart disease. Getting ten minutes of direct sunlight on your bare skin each day allows your body to produce around 10,000 IU, which is more than ample. Check out my recent post on vitamin D for more information on the safest ways to get it.

Reconnect with your roots. If you’re looking to get more in touch with yourself and with your natural surroundings, just get outside. If you spend enough time in nature, you will begin to sense subtle shifts in your environment. You’ll notice fluctuations in your energy. You’ll become more open and calm when you feel how incredibly vast the outside world is. In a way, spending more time outside puts you more in tune with our surrounding world. Nothing is wrong with a little perspective now and then.

According to an analysis published in the Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, North Americans spend only 8 percent of their time outdoors! Don’t be a statistic. It’s time to live your life to the fullest and get outside.


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Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient and one of your body’s primary sources of energy. Still, there is a constant weight loss buzz that discourages eating them. The key is finding the right carbs — not avoiding them altogether.

You may have heard that eating complex carbs is better than simple carbs. The problem is that nutrition labels don’t tell you if the carbohydrate content is simple or complex. Either way, understanding how these foods are classified and how they work in your body can help ensure you choose the right carbs.

Understanding Carbohydrates

What’s in a Carb?
Carbs are made up of fiber, starch, and sugars.
The American Diabetes Association recommends getting 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
Carbohydrates are an important nutrient found in numerous types of foods. Most of us equate carbs with bread and pasta, but you can also find them in:

  • dairy products
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • seeds
  • sugary foods and sweets

Carbohydrates are made up of three components: fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber and starch are complex carbs, while sugar is a simple carb. Depending on how much of each of these is found in a food determines its nutrient quality.

Simple Carbs = Simplistic Nutrition

Simple carbs are sugars. While some of these occur naturally in milk, most of the simple carbs in the American diet are added to foods. Common simple carbs added to foods include:

  • raw sugar
  • brown sugar
  • corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup
  • glucose, fructose, and sucrose
  • fruit juice concentrate

Simple Carb Foods to Avoid

Try to avoid some of the most common refined sources of simple carbs and look for alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings:

1. Soda:
Choose water flavored with lemon instead.


2. Baked Treats:


Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit.


3. Packaged Cookies:
Bake your own goods using substitutes like applesauce or sweeteners, or look for other mixes that contain more complex carbs. Try our recipe for lemon cardamom cookies, or maybe even our parsnip cookies!


4. Fruit Juice Concentrate:
An easy way to avoid fruit concentrate is to look closely at nutrition labels. Always choose 100 percent fruit juice, or, even easier, make your own at home! Try our recipe for kiwi strawberry juice.


5. Breakfast Cereal:
Breakfast cereals tend to be loaded with simple carbohydrates. If you just can’t kick the habit, check out our rundown of breakfast cereals, from the best to the worst for your health.

carbs

 

The More Complex, the Better

Complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs, because they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. They are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes because they help manage post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol. The main sources of dietary fiber include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • beans
  • whole grains

Starch is also found in some of the same foods as fiber. The difference is certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous, such as potatoes. Other high-starch foods are:

  • whole wheat bread
  • cereal
  • corn
  • oats
  • peas
  • rice

Complex carbohydrates are key to long-term health. They make it easier to maintain your weight, and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.

Complex Carbs You Should Eat More Of

Be sure to include the following complex carbohydrates as a regular part of your diet:


1. Grains:
Grains are good sources of fiber, as well as potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Choose less processed, whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, and whole-wheat pasta.


2. Fiber-Rich Fruits:
Such as apples, berries, and bananas (avoid canned fruit, as they usually contain added syrup).


3. Fiber-Rich Vegetables:
Eat more of all your veggies, including broccoli, leafy greens, and carrots.


4. Beans:
Aside from fiber, these are good sources of folate, iron, and potassium. 

Choosing the right carbs can take time and practice. With a little bit of research and a keen eye for nutrition labels, you can start making healthier choices that will energize your body and protect it from long-term complications.

Article resources
Carbohydrates. (2012, December 11). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html#Simple%20Carbohydrates
Choose Carbohydrates Wisely. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/food/pdfs/hhs_facts_carbohydrates.pdf
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, May 2). Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit into a Healthy Diet. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705?pg=1
Types of Carbohydrates. (2014, February 28). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/types-of-carbohydrates.html

Written by Kristeen Cherney

Medically Reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on 30 March 2015

 


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8 Everyday Activities That Increase Your Mental Health

Which of these uncomplicated activities to you do most days?

Do these most days and it will help protect your mental health.

1. Dwell on the positive

Positive memories could be used as a way to help boost mental well-being, new research finds.

People in the study were asked to focus on positive social memories.

Participants focused on their own positive feelings from that memory as well as on the positive feelings of the other person.

The results showed that people felt socially safer and more positive and relaxed after the exercise.

At the same time feelings of guilt and fear were reduced.

2. Drink some tea

Tea is both calming and can make you feel more alert.

It improves cognitive performance in the short-term and may help fight Alzheimer’s in the long-term.

Finally, it is linked to better mental health.

I’ll raise a cup to that!

From: Tea: 6 Brilliant Effects on the Brain

3. Be calm about minor irritations

Dealing with the minor stresses and strains of everyday life in a positive way is key to long-term health, a new study finds.

The research found that people who remained calm or cheerful in the face of irritations had a lower risk of inflammation.

brain

4. Don’t watch the news

Viewing violent news events on social media can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A recent study has found that almost one-quarter of individuals had PTSD-like symptoms from following events like 9/11 and suicide bombings on social media.

The more people viewed the events, researchers found, the greater the subsequent trauma they experienced.

5. Get your micronutrients

Despite consuming more calories than ever, many people do not get their recommended intake of brain-essential nutrients, a new study reports.

The study explains the best way of getting the required nutrients:

“A traditional whole-food diet, consisting of higher intakes of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, whole grains, lean meat, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods, is more likely to provide the nutrients that afford resiliency against the pathogenesis of mental disorders.”

6. Look out the window

People who live with a water view have better mental health, new research finds.

Don’t live near water? Any sort of green space or even a grassy rooftop will do just as well.

7. A little activity

Compared with inactivity, even ‘mild’ levels of physical activity are linked to 50% better mental health, a new study finds.

The more exercise people performed, the more protected they were against mental disorders, the research also found.

But both low and high levels of exercise were also linked to more than 50% reductions in the risk of suffering mental illness compared with being inactive.

8. Brush your teeth

Brushing your teeth regularly could reduce the risk of dementia by more than one-quarter, new research finds.

People with fewer than 20 teeth are 26% more likely to develop cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

It is thought that chewing increases the blood-flow to the brain, thereby improving memory.

source: PsyBlog


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The Dangers of Using K-Cups for Your Morning Cup of Joe

You might want to stick with your traditional coffee machine.

BY MACAELA MACKENZIE    February 24, 2016  Women’s Health

Opinions on having a morning cup of joe from a disposable coffee pod tend to be pretty divisive—you either love K-Cups or hate ‘em. But as of this week, personal opinions no longer matter for residents of one German city.

Hamburg has officially banned all coffee pods (including K-Cups) from government buildings, citing their negative environmental impact, according to CNN. But is your Keurig brew really that bad? Well, kinda.

Here are four real concerns about getting your caffeine fix from a coffee pod.

1. They Produce a Ton of Waste
Those little cups may not seem like a big deal, but think about how often you have to empty the Keurig bin at the office—those babies pile up fast. For every six grams of coffee, you’re looking at about three grams of waste—much less efficient than sticking with a more traditional brew. To put it in perspective, in 2014 Mother Jones estimated that we disposed of enough K-Cups to wrap around the world 10.5 times. Damn.

coffee

2. They Aren’t Biodegradable
Since they contain more than one type of material, K-Cups are extremely difficult to recycle. In an effort to be more eco-friendly, Keurig has promised to make their cups recyclable—but not until 2020. Until then, you’ll have to separate the aluminum top from the plastic cup yourself and then find a special recycling service.

3. They Contain Aluminum
The fact that K-Cups contain aluminum is also not great for the environment. Even if all that aluminum doesn’t end up in a landfill (and that can pile up with some serious speed), recycling aluminum produces some toxic byproducts that have to be buried in a landfill anyway. Not a problem you have to deal with if you’re using an old-fashioned coffee filter.

4. They Could Pose a Hazard to Your Health
K-Cups have been confirmed to be BPA-free and made of “safe” plastic, but some studies show that even this type of material can have harmful effects when heated. When you come into contact with these plastic chemicals, they can act like estrogen in your body, throwing your hormones out of whack.


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10 Simple Habits Proven to Make You Happier

A new survey of 5,000 people has found a strong link between self-acceptance and happiness, despite the fact that it’s a habit not frequently practised.

The finding comes from a survey carried out by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different.

For their survey, they identified ten everyday habits which science has shown can make people happier.

Here are the 10 habits, with the average ratings of survey participants on a scale of 1-10, as to how often they performed each habit:

  1. Giving: do things for others — 7.41
  2. Relating: connect with people — 7.36
  3. Exercising: take care of your body — 5.88
  4. Appreciating: notice the world around — 6.57
  5. Trying out: keep learning new things — 6.26
  6. Direction: have goals to look forward to — 6.08
  7. Resilience: find ways to bounce back — 6.33
  8. Emotion: take a positive approach — 6.74
  9. Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are — 5.56
  10. Meaning: be part of something bigger — 6.38

(You’ll notice that the first letters spell out the words GREAT DREAM.)

good enough
“You are good enough!” Self-acceptance is a key happy habit,
yet it’s one people practise the least.

The survey showed that one of the largest associations between these happy habits and reported happiness was for self-acceptance.

This category, though, got the lowest rating for people actually performing the habit, with an average of only 5.56.

Top of the list of happy habits that people performed was ‘giving’.

In this category, one in six reported a 10 out of 10; just over one-third scored an 8 or 9; slightly fewer scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less.

One of the psychologists involved, Professor Karen Pine said:

“Practising these habits really can boost our happiness. It’s great to see so many people regularly doing things to help others — and when we make others happy we tend to feel good ourselves too.
This survey shows that practising self-acceptance is one thing that could make the biggest difference to many people’s happiness.
Exercise is also known to lift mood so if people want a simple, daily way to fee happier they should get into the habit of being more physically active too.”

Increase your self-acceptance

Here are three ways to boost your self-acceptance, as suggested by the researchers:

  1. “ Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small.
  2.  Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you.
  3.  Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you’re feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.”
source: Psyblog