Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Have You Ever Heard of Farro?

Farro is an ancient grain that resembles brown rice, and is packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Popular in Italy, this healthy dish is gaining favor in North America for its versatility and health benefits. It is perfect in salads or as a side dish. It tastes a little bit like brown rice or barley.

It can also last in your pantry for about six months. Unlike, say, white rice, farro is loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. According to the Mayo Clinic, it also improves heart health and digestive health on account of its impressive fiber content.

farro

Farro is an extremely nutritious grain. It’s an excellent source of protein and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. It’s a much healthier alternative to white rice or other refined grains.

It is an excellent source of fiber. Fiber, in turn, helps regulate the digestive system. So it’s no surprise that farro has been shown to improve digestion in humans. If you have constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or other digestive disorders, you may especially benefit from adding farro to your diet.

The fiber in farro helps in controlling carbohydrate digestion and absorption, doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike after eating. Farro is a great choice if you’re trying to manage or prevent type 2 diabetes. as it increases insulin sensitivity and can improve blood sugar levels after eating.

It’s “a good carb,” easier on the blood sugars than pasta or white rice and it’s easy to cook! Farro also can help lower cholesterol levels.

Related – www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-farro

sources :  www.spendwithpennies.com    www.realsimple.com


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Accepting Things As They Are: Why and How to Do It

Life is full of situations that shouldn’t be the way they are! Sometimes you can fix these situations, but sometimes you can’t. Accepting things as they are is a powerful way to cope with situations that you don’t want or that shouldn’t happen.

Many things in life are beyond your control. Examples are everywhere: traffic, the weather, a burst bathroom pipe, difficult family members, or the death of a loved one — all things you don’t want or need, but things you cannot always prevent. Not having control over things can make you feel sad, angry, frustrated, or anxious.

Sometimes people try to gain a sense of control by trying to make changes, even if they’re unlikely to help. Other times people try to regain the feeling of control by ignoring what’s happening. The sad truth is that trying to change something you cannot (or denying it) only leads to more pain and suffering.

So, what’s a healthy way to deal with things beyond your control?

Accepting Things As They Are

To accept things as they are means to let go of your expectations of how things should be. Instead, allow things to be what they are. It means to say to yourself, “It is what it is, and there is nothing I can do to change the current situation.” This is a contrast to asking the universe “why is this happening to me?”

Why Is Acceptance So Important?

There are three main reasons why it is good to accept things as they are.

First, trying to change reality is a battle you’re guaranteed to lose. It leads to feelings of bitterness, anger, and sadness.

Second, acceptance allows you to recognize and face the actual problem. This can allow for problem-solving. For example, if you’re unhappy in your career, it’s impossible to make any changes before you face the reality of your current situation. Denying reality prevents you from problem-solving and may lead to more serious consequences — in this example, further years of career dissatisfaction.

Third, accepting things as they are leads us toward a sense of peace and calm. It is normal to feel angry, sad, or disappointed when you first acknowledge that you have no control over a difficult situation. However, acceptance will help you eventually feel lighter — as if a burden has been removed.

How to Accept Things As They Are

  1. Notice when you are trying to change or deny things that can’t be changed. For some people, warning signs include thoughts like This is unfair, It shouldn’t be this way! or Why me? For others, warning signs tend to be emotions like anger or frustration.
  2. Remind yourself that “it is what it is” and there is nothing you can do to change it right now. You may need to do these multiple times a day/hour/minute depending on the situation.
  3. Allow yourself to feel sad and disappointed; these feelings are healthy! At the same time, trust that acceptance will eventually bring you peace and calm.
  4. Seek out social support. Engage in self-care activities to help you cope with difficult feelings and improve your mood.

Remember: accepting things as they are does not mean that you have to enjoy what’s happening. It also does not mean that you are giving up. It simply means that you acknowledge that you don’t have control over the situation, and it is what it is.

September 14, 2020 by Rachel Chang, Psy.D.

source: www.manhattancbt.com


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A Diet to Boost Your Mood and Energy Level

Can Food Boost Energy and Mood?

Though it’s too soon to say, “An apple a day keeps the doldrums away,” researchers are studying the links between what we eat and how we feel. There is evidence that changing your diet can change your metabolism and brain chemistry, ultimately affecting your energy level and mood.

Getting Started

Foods can boost energy by supplying calories, by pushing your body to burn calories more efficiently, and, in some cases, by delivering caffeine. For a better mood, the best foods are those that help keep your blood sugar steady and trigger feel-good brain chemicals. Keep clicking to learn which foods and drinks do that.

Smart Carbs

Carbs may be the foe of fad diets, but they’re vital for boosting energy and mood. They are the body’s preferred source of fuel, plus they raise levels of the feel-good chemical, serotonin. The key is to avoid sweets, which cause blood sugar to spike and plummet, making you feel tired and moody. Instead, pick whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and cereal. Your body absorbs whole grains more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, and Hazelnuts

These nuts are rich in protein and magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in converting sugar into energy. Being low on magnesium can drain your energy. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, particularly bran cereals, and some fish, including halibut.

Brazil Nuts

Add Brazil nuts to the mix for selenium, a mineral that may be a natural mood booster. Studies have linked low selenium to poorer moods. Smaller amounts of selenium are also found in meats, seafood, beans, and whole grains. Don’t overdo it: Too much selenium is harmful.

Lean Meats

Lean pork, lean beef, skinless chicken, and turkey are sources of protein that include the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts levels of two brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that can help you feel more alert and focused. Meats also contain vitamin B-12, which may help ease insomnia and depression.

Salmon

Fatty fish, such as salmon, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against depression and be good for heart health. Besides fish, sources of omega-3 include nuts and leafy, dark green vegetables.

Leafy Greens

Folate is another nutrient that may lower the risk of depression. Find it in leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and romaine lettuce), legumes, enriched grains, nuts, and citrus fruits.

Fiber

Fiber helps keep your energy steady throughout the day. Many people don’t get enough fiber. You can fix that by eating more beans, whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

bread

Water

Staying hydrated can help you avoid getting tired. Some studies suggest even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism and sap your energy. The solution is simple – drink plenty of water or other unsweetened beverages throughout the day.

Fresh Produce

Another way to stay hydrated and energized is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally full of water. Snack on apple wedges or celery, for example. Other hydrating foods include soup, oatmeal and pasta, which sop up their cooking water.

Coffee

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular pick-me-ups, and it works — at least in the short-term. Caffeine steps up the body’s metabolism, temporarily improving mental focus and energy. Frequent mini-servings will keep you alert and focused longer than one large dose. Just beware of drinking so much coffee that you can’t sleep at night — losing sleep won’t help your energy!

Tea

You can also get caffeine from tea. Studies show that it may improve alertness, reaction time, and memory. And having a cup of tea is a time-honored tradition, which may take the edge off your stress.

Dark Chocolate

Chocoholics, good news: A little bit of dark chocolate can boost your energy and mood. That’s because of the caffeine in chocolate, along with another stimulant called theobromine.

Breakfast

Breakfast is a gold mine if you want more energy. Studies show that people who eat breakfast every morning also have a better mood throughout the day. The best breakfasts deliver plenty of fiber and nutrients through whole-grain carbs, good fats, and some type of lean protein. And of course, they taste good!

Frequent Meals

Here’s another way to keep your energy, mood, and blood sugar steady: Eat small meals and snacks every three to four hours, rather than a few large meals. Some options: peanut butter on whole-grain crackers, half a turkey sandwich with salad, or whole-grain cereal with milk.

Energy Supplements

Examples include kola nut, yerba mate, green tea extract, and guarana supplements. They may give you a temporary boost, but the effect is probably not much different than drinking coffee, since many energy supplements feature caffeine or similar compounds. Energy supplements are not recommended.

Energy Drinks and Gels

Most energy drinks and gels give you simple carbohydrates – in other words, sugar – which the body can quickly convert into energy. This is a convenient way for high-intensity athletes to keep going, but less active people may not need them. Energy drinks are usually high in calories and low on nutrients.

Exercise for Energy

Besides diet, exercise is another tried-and-true way to boost energy and mood. Even a single 15-minute walk can be energizing, and if you’re more active, you’ll get more benefits. Studies show that regular exercise may help ease depression and trigger other changes in your body that give you more energy all day long.

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD        June 21, 2021

source: www.webmd.com


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6 Weird Ways To Trick Your Mind Into Sleep That Actually Work

Got insomnia? Sleep psychologists share a few unconventional tips that will help you get those Zzzs.

When it comes to falling asleep, the single most effective thing you can do is calm your mind.

Sure, that might be easier said than done — especially when it’s the middle of the night and you’re desperately waiting to fall asleep. But there are several not-so-obvious ways to quiet your thoughts and prep the brain and body for sleep.

Instead of taking a hot bath, pouring yourself a night cap or squeezing in a workout before bedtime, here are a few expert-backed ways to dupe your mind into sleep:

Don’t sleep

One of the most effective ways to trick yourself into falling asleep is to, well, try not to sleep. Trying too hard to sleep never works, and all that worry and anxiety about falling asleep is what actually keeps so many people up at night, said Deirdre Conroy, a sleep psychologist and the clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at the University of Michigan Health Sleep Disorders Centers.

By doing the opposite and forcing yourself to lie in bed and stay awake all night — a phenomenon called paradoxical intention — you’ll unintentionally doze off at some point. “In your mind, you’re actually trying to stay up but sleep will eventually kick in,” Conroy said.

Focus on your mornings

The key to getting good sleep isn’t all about what you do, and don’t do, at night. In fact, your morning routine can have an even bigger impact on your sleep. According to Cathy Goldstein, a sleep neurologist at University of Michigan Health Sleep Disorders Centers, good sleep starts in the morning.

“Set your alarm and get light first thing — this doesn’t just cue your body when wake time is, but also when sleep onset should occur,” Goldstein said. Waking up when your alarm goes off, at the same time each day, and exposing yourself to daylight sets your internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep at bedtime.

Let yourself worry

Conroy said carving out time to worry earlier in the day can help you fall asleep at bedtime. Instead of dismissing your worries altogether, if you spend time worrying about things a few hours before bed — not right at bedtime — you can sleep better at night.

A quick tip: Take 15 minutes to jot down those concerns in a journal, so you can get them out on paper and leave them there. “That actually can decrease the amount of worry that happens at bedtime,” Conroy said.

sleepless

Think about nature

Jeffrey Durmer, a board-certified sleep medicine physician and sleep coach to the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team, said the sounds and darkness of nature are natural ingredients for inducing sleep. After all, nature is known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce hard rate, and decrease muscle tension.

To get to sleep, Durmer recommended thinking about nature — like the last time you slept in a remote cabin or laid out under the stars. This can even be as simple as starting a fire, lighting a candle or spending “time on a porch, patio, or deck to allow darkness and quiet to reverberate in your mind, rather than light and noise,” Durmer said.

Focus on the sound of your breath

Slow, deep belly breathing — like the 4-7-8 method in which you inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds ― is known to increase relaxation and bring on sleep.

Furthermore, simply focusing on your breath can take the mind off other concerns and worries and bring you to the present moment. “Taking your focus away from the environment and placing it on something entirely in your control (the breath) helps the mind to settle and become calm,” Durmer said.

Exhaust your mind, not your body

There’s a common misconception that exercising at night can help you sleep easier. But while working out tires your body out, it doesn’t necessarily exhaust your mind.

“After a marathon, your body might be tired but that doesn’t mean your mind will be ready for sleep,” Conroy said. Note: Regular exercise improves sleep, in general, but exercising in order to fall asleep won’t do you much good.

Instead of working out to facilitate sleep, Conroy recommended engaging in activities that can tire you out mentally. “We are social people, our brains love to learn and so if you’re not engaging with the world in the day, it may affect your sleep,” Conroy said.

Read a book, do puzzles — have something that you are really mentally engaged in. “Otherwise, there is no difference between the day and the night for some people,” Conroy said.

Julia Ries          Jun 6, 2022

source: www.huffpost.com


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Top 10 Cholesterol Lowering Foods

Cholesterol is a steroid lipid (fat) present in the blood, necessary for the proper functioning of cell membranes and the production of vitamin D and certain hormones.

High cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. (1) Cholesterol-lowering foods are therefore a great addition to anyone’s diet for optimal health and as a preventative measure.

Cholesterol-lowering foods include oat bran, flax seeds, garlic, almonds, walnuts, whole barley, and green tea. Below is a detailed list of foods which lower bad LDL cholesterol, while leaving the good HDL cholesterol largely unaffected.

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
(Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil, Peanuts, Olives, Avocados)

Cholesterol Reduction: 18%

Substituting saturated animal fats with healthier fats like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and avocados results in a drastic reduction in your LDL cholesterol. (2,3) Specifically, in one study, a diet high in olive and sunflower oil, that contains 12.9% saturated fat, 15.1% monounsaturated fat, and 7.9% polyunsaturated fat led to an 18% reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with people on a diet higher in saturated fat. (2)

Bran (Oat, Rice)

Cholesterol Reduction: 7-14%

Bran, particularly oat bran, has been proven effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels. (4, 5) You can try adding bran to hot cereals and bread. Also, eating whole oatmeal every morning, and switching to whole-grain products such as brown rice is beneficial.

Flax Seeds

Cholesterol Reduction: 8-14%

Up to 50 grams of flax seeds a day has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol in healthy young adults by up to 8%, (6) and 38 grams per day of flax seeds per day reduced LDL cholesterol by 14% in people with high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). (7) In both studies, the flax seeds were consumed in a muffin or other bread product. Flax seeds are easily incorporated into baked goods, as well as added to hot cereals like oatmeal.

Garlic

Cholesterol Reduction: 9-12%

Studies show that less than half a clove (900mg) of raw garlic a day can lower cholesterol by 9-12%. (8,9) Raw garlic is best and can be added to olive oil salad dressings, or as a garnish on soups and sandwiches.

Almonds

Cholesterol Reduction: 7-10%

Several studies report that eating up to half a cup of almonds can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 10%. (10,11) In a dose-response study, it was found that a quarter cup of almonds reduces cholesterol by 5% and half a cup causes the full 10% reduction. (11) Almonds are great as a snack, or as an addition to breakfast cereals like oatmeal.

Lycopene Foods

Cholesterol Reduction: 0-17%

Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their red color. It is found in tomatoes, watermelon, and various other high lycopene foods. Studies are conflicting as to whether lycopene reduces LDL cholesterol or not. Some studies report a 10-17% reduction (12,13) while other studies find no difference. (14) Despite this difference, lycopene is thought to generally promote heart health whether it lowers LDL cholesterol or not.

Walnuts and Pistachios

Cholesterol Reduction: 10%

Numerous studies report a reduction in cholesterol with consumption of walnuts or pistachios. (15,16,17) This is especially true when the fats from the nuts replace consumption of saturated fats. Consuming around 30 grams of walnuts is necessary to achieve the cholesterol-lowering benefits. (18)

Whole Grain Barley

Cholesterol Reduction: 7-10%

Like the bran from oats and rice, barley reduces cholesterol, particularly when it is used as a substitute for wheat products. (19) Barley can easily substitute for wheat in the form of barley noodles, barley flour, or whole pearl barley.

Dark Chocolate

Cholesterol Reduction: 2-5%

The plant sterols and cocoa flavanols in dark (non-milk) chocolate reduce cholesterol by 2-5%. (20) Further, plant sterols (phytosterols), found in all plants, and particularly plant oils like corn oil and soybean oil have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by up to 16%. (21) However, this reduction is largely due to inhibiting absorption of cholesterol, and would not have a large effect if you consumed little or no cholesterol.

Green Tea

Cholesterol Reduction: 2-5%

Green tea has long been a staple in East Asia where it is believed to wash oil (fat) out of the body. Studies suggest this may be true as green tea can lower cholesterol by 2-5%. (22) Green tea without sugar also has few calories (typically less than 10) and can make a great substitute for a variety of beverages.

Tea

More Lifestyle Choices to Lower Cholesterol

Take Niacin (Vitamin B3) Supplements – Niacin has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise the level of HDL (good) cholesterol. (23) The degree to which it lowers LDL cholesterol has not been measured, but one study reports a 20% increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. (24) There are no studies on the effect of high niacin foods as compared to the supplement. However, it is commonly construed that eating high niacin foods will help lower bad LDL levels while raising good HDL levels.

Exercise – Studies suggest that regular aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, running) can increase levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. High HDL cholesterol protects your cardiovascular system. Exercise especially helps people with low levels of HDL cholesterol. (25,26) Further, exercise can enhance the effect of a cholesterol-lowering diet, reducing levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. (27)

Lose Weight – Losing weight, particularly belly fat, will help lower LDL cholesterol levels, and will certainly help prevent type II diabetes, a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease. (28,29) Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) and aim for a BMI between 20-22.

Become Vegan – Being vegan involves eating only plant foods and avoiding all animal foods such as dairy, meats, seafoods, etc…Veganism has been shown to lower cholesterol numbers as well as triglyceride levels. (30) This is especially true for vegan diets that do not contain refined sugars, processed foods, or trans-fats, and consist mostly of high fiber foods like beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Reduce Stress – Studies show that mental, emotional, or psychological stress can increase cholesterol levels by 10%.(30,31,32) One study, in particular, found that college students have high cholesterol levels before tests than other times in the semester. (32) Another study found that performing a stressful mental activity, like math, increases cholesterol levels. (33) To reduce stress in your life try soothing herbal teas such as chamomile, yoga, meditation, or spending time with friends. Try new things till you find something that works for you.

Data Sources and References

  1. Ten-Year Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease in Relation to Cholesterol Level among Men with and without Preexisting Cardiovascular Disease
  2. Mensink RP, Katan MB. Effect of a diet enriched with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids on levels of low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in healthy women and men. N Engl J Med. 1989 Aug 17;321(7):436-41.
  3. Penny M Kris-Etherton, Thomas A Pearson, Ying Wan, Rebecca L Hargrove, Kristin Moriarty, Valerie Fishell and Terry D Etherton. High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 6, 1009-1015, December 1999
  4. Oat-bran intake selectively lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations of hypercholesterolemic men.
  5. Full-fat rice bran and oat bran similarly reduce hypercholesterolemia in humans.
  6. SC Cunnane, MJ Hamadeh, AC Liede, LU Thompson, TM Wolever and DJ Jenkins. Nutritional attributes of traditional flaxseed in healthy young adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 61, 62-68, 1995.
  7. Bahram H Arjmandi, Dilshad A Khan, Shanil Juma, Melinda L. Drum, Sreevidya Venkatesh, Eugenia Sohn, Lili Wei, and Richard Derman. Whole flaxseed consumption lowers serum LDL-cholesterol and lipoprotein(a) concentrations in postmenopausal women.
  8. AJ Adler and BJ Holub. Effect of garlic and fish-oil supplementation on serum lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in hypercholesterolemic men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 65, 445-450, 1997
  9. Stephen Warshafsky, Russell S. Kamer, Steven L. Sivak. Effect of Garlic on Total Serum Cholesterol A Meta Analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004.
  10. Abbey M., Noakes M., Belling G.B., Nestel, P. Partial replacement of saturated fatty acids with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994;59:995-9.
  11. Dose Response of Almonds on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors: Blood Lipids, Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins, Lipoprotein(a), Homocysteine, and Pulmonary Nitric Oxide. The American Heart Association, 2002;106:1327.
  12. Karin Ried, Peter Fakler. Protective effect of lycopene on serum cholesterol and blood pressure: Meta-analyses of intervention trials. Volume 68, Issue 4 , Pages 299-310, April 2011
  13. Tomato juice decreases LDL cholesterol levels and increases LDL resistance to oxidation. British Journal of Nutrition (2007), 98: 1251-1258
  14. No Significant Effects of Lutein, Lycopene or Beta-Carotene Supplementation on Biological Markers of Oxidative Stress and LDL Oxidizability in Healthy Adult Subjects. J Am Coll Nutr June 2001 vol. 20 no. 3 232-238.
  15. Effects of walnuts on serum lipid levels and blood pressure in normal men. N Engl J Med. 1993 Mar 4;328(9):603-7.
  16. Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review
  17. Effect of Pistachio Nuts on Serum Lipid Levels in Patients with Moderate Hypercholesterolemia. J Am Coll Nutr June 1999 vol. 18 no. 3 229-232
  18. Including Walnuts in a Low-Fat/Modified-Fat Diet Improves HDL Cholesterol-to-Total Cholesterol Ratios in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. doi: 10.2337/diacare.27.12.2777 Diabetes Care December 2004 vol. 27 no. 12 2777-2783
  19. Barley and wheat foods: influence on plasma cholesterol concentrations in hypercholesterolemic men. Am J Clin Nutr May 1991 vol. 53 no. 5 1205-1209.
  20. Daily Consumption of a Dark Chocolate Containing Flavanols and Added Sterol Esters Affects Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Normotensive Population with Elevated Cholesterol. American Society for Nutrition J. Nutr. 138:725-731, April 2008
  21. Unesterified plant sterols and stanols lower LDL-cholesterol concentrations equivalently in hypercholesterolemic persons. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 6, 1272-1278, December 2002
  22. Green tea consumption and serum lipids and lipoproteins in a population of healthy workers in Japan. Ann Epidemiol. 2002 Apr;12(3):157-65.
  23. Pubmed Health Page on Niacin
  24. A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Extended-Release Niacin on Atherosclerosis Progression in Secondary Prevention Patients Treated With Statins. American Heart Association Journal. Circulation.2004; 110: 3512-3517 Published online before print November 10, 2004, doi: 10.1161/?01.CIR.0000148955.19792.8D.
  25. Exercise acutely increases high density lipoprotein-cholesterol and lipoprotein lipase activity in trained and untrained men. Metabolism Volume 36, Issue 2, February 1987, Pages 188-1922001; 21: 1226-1232
  26. Effects of Endurance Exercise Training on Plasma HDL Cholesterol Levels Depend on Levels of Triglycerides. American Heart Association Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.
  27. Effects of Diet and Exercise in Men and Postmenopausal Women with Low Levels of HDL Cholesterol and High Levels of LDL Cholesterol. N Engl J Med 1998; 339:12-20July 2, 1998.
  28. Cholesterol lowering effect of dietary weight loss and orlistat treatment–efficacy and limitations. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Jun 1;19(11):1173-9.
  29. Weight loss improves lipoprotein lipid profiles in patients with hypercholesterolemia. J Lab Clin Med. 1985 Oct;106(4):447-54.
  30. Diet and serum lipids in vegan vegetarians: a model for risk reduction. J Am Diet Assoc. 1991 Apr;91(4):447-53.
  31. Relationship of Mental and Emotional Stress to Serum Cholesterol Levels. doi: 10.3181/00379727-97-23676 Exp Biol Med January 1958 vol. 97 no. 1 163-165
  32. Further studies on cholesterol levels in the Johns Hopkins medical students: The effect of stress at examinations. From the Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md. USA Received 5 September 1958. Available online 23 March 2004.
  33. Acute Cholesterol Responses to Mental Stress and Change in Posture. Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(4):775-780.

 by Daisy Whitbread, BSc (Hons) MSc DipION         April 21st, 2022

Source: www.myfooddata.com

related ~ Top 10 Foods Highest in Cholesterol


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Negative Thinking Linked To Dementia In Later Life, But You Can Learn To Be More Positive

Are you a pessimist by nature, a “glass half empty” sort of person? That’s not good for your brain.

A new study found that repetitive negative thinking in later life was linked to cognitive decline and greater deposits of two harmful proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia,” said lead author Dr. Natalie Marchant, a psychologist and senior research fellow in the department of mental health at University College London, in a statement.

Negative thinking behaviors such as rumination about the past and worry about the future were measured in over 350 people over the age of 55 over a two-year period. About a third of the participants also underwent a PET (positron emission tomography) brain scan to measure deposits of tau and beta amyloid, two proteins which cause Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.

The scans showed that people who spent more time thinking negatively had more tau and beta amyloid buildup, worse memory and greater cognitive decline over a four-year period compared to people who were not pessimists.

The study also tested for levels of anxiety and depression and found greater cognitive decline in depressed and anxious people, which echos prior research.

But deposits of tau and amyloid did not increase in the already depressed and anxious people, leading researchers to suspect repeated negative thinking may be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, we expect that chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia,” Marchant said.

“This is the first study showing a biological relationship between repetitive negative thinking and Alzheimer’s pathology, and gives physicians a more precise way to assess risk and offer more personally-tailored interventions,” said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, founder of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at NYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

“Many people at risk are unaware about the specific negative impact of worry and rumination directly on the brain,” said Isaacson, who is also a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, which funds research to better understand and alleviate age-related cognitive decline.

“This study is important and will change the way I care for my patients at risk.”

smile

More study needed

It is “important to point out that this isn’t saying a short-term period of negative thinking will cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Fiona Carragher, who is chief policy and research officer at the Alzheimer’s Society in London. “We need further investigation to understand this better.”

“Most of the people in the study were already identified as being at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, so we would need to see if these results are echoed within the general population,” she said, “and if repeated negative thinking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease itself.”

The researchers suggest that mental training practices such as meditation might help promoting positive thinking while reducing negative thoughts, and they plan future studies to test their hypothesis.

“Our thoughts can have a biological impact on our physical health, which might be positive or negative, said coauthor Dr. Gael Chételat of Inserm/ Université de Caen-Normandie.

“Looking after your mental health is important, and it should be a major public health priority, as it’s not only important for people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it could also impact your eventual risk of dementia,” Chételat said.

Looking on the bright side

Previous research supports their hypothesis. People who look at life from a positive perspective have a much better shot at avoiding death from any type of cardiovascular risk than pessimistic people, according to a 2019 study. In fact, the more positive the person, the greater the protection from heart attacks, stroke and any cause of death.

It’s not just your heart that’s protected by a positive outlook. Prior research has found a direct link between optimism and other positive health attributes, such as healthier diet and exercise behaviors, a stronger immune system and better lung function, among others.

That’s probably because optimists tend to have better health habits, said cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who studies optimism’s health impacts. They’re more likely to exercise, have better diets and are less likely to smoke.

“Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem-solvers,” Rozanski told CNN in a prior interview. “They are better at what we call proactive coping, or anticipating problems and then proactively taking steps to fix them.”

Train to be an optimist

You can tell where you stand on the glass half-full or empty concept by answering a series of statements called the “life orientation test.”

The test includes statements such as, “I’m a believer in the idea that ‘every cloud has a silver lining,'” and, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.” You rate the statements on a scale from highly agree to highly disagree, and the results can be added up to determine your level of optimism or pessimism.

Prior research has shown it’s possible to “train the brain” to be more optimistic, sort of like training a muscle. Using direct measures of brain function and structure, one study found it only took 30 minutes a day of meditation practice over the course of two weeks to produce a measurable change in the brain.

One of the most effective ways to increase optimism, according to a meta-analysis of existing studies, is called the “Best Possible Self” method, where you imagine or journal about yourself in a future in which you have achieved all your life goals and all of your problems have been resolved.

Another technique is to practice gratefulness. Just taking a few minutes each day to write down what makes you thankful can improve your outlook on life. And while you’re at it, list the positive experiences you had that day, which can also raise your optimism.

“And then finally, we know that cognitive behavioral therapies are very effective treatments for depression; pessimism is on the road toward depression,” Rozanski said.

“You can apply the same principles as we do for depression, such as reframing. You teach there is an alternative way to think or reframe negative thoughts, and you can make great progress with a pessimist that way.”

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN     Sun June 7, 2020

source: www.cnn.com

Want to live longer? Be an optimist, study says


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Which Foods Boost the Immune System?

Can certain foods boost the immune system? We look at what to eat to prevent illnesses and stay well

Can foods boost the immune system? If this thought has ever crossed your mind, you’re not alone. When it comes to preventing infections, we roughly know the drill. Wash your hands thoroughly. Sanitize surfaces. Stay home if you’re not feeling well. But many of us remain unsure as to what to eat to prevent our bodies from constantly getting ill.

It’s easy to fall prey to marketing gimmicks deployed by food brands. After all, it’s comforting to think that there is a single superfood or supplement out there that can supercharge our immunity and solve all of our health problems. But in reality, it’s way more complicated than that.

It’s definitely true that certain vitamins can provide a boost to our immune system. But at the same time, our bodies are complex machines with sophisticated needs. Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet may be much more beneficial to our health than popping vitamin supplements. So if you’re interested to know whether foods can actually boost the immune system, keep reading. Here, we’ll discuss what and how to eat in order to keep yourself fit and healthy.

WHICH FOODS BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

Fruits

Fruits are one of the most nutrient-dense food groups. Packed with vitamins, minerals and many different biologically active compounds, they can provide a great boost to your immune defenses. Every type of fruit has something to offer your health and wellbeing. To get the most benefit, make sure to include a whole rainbow of plants in your diet.

Having said this, certain fruits may have stronger immunoprotective properties than others. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes, are a perfect example of foods that can boost the immune system. They’re widely known to be one of the best sources of vitamin C, a nutrient routinely used to treat viral and bacterial infections. But that’s not the only compound that makes them so effective. Citrus fruits are also rich in flavonoids, particularly hesperidin. Hesperidin is a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation and respiratory viruses. According to an article in Frontiers of Immunology, regular consumption of citrus fruit juices can increase the number of infection-fighting white blood cells and decrease the levels of inflammatory markers in the body.

Another family of fruit that’s been shown to promote a healthier immune system is berries. Multiple studies have shown that berries contain antioxidant, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.

Vegetables

If you want to boost your immune system, one of the best ways is to include more vegetables in your diet. Similarly to fruits, this food group provides a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They’re also a great source of fiber and prebiotics – compounds that feed the good bacteria living in our gut. And keeping our gut health in check will in turn have a beneficial impact on our immune responses. To maximize your chances of staying free from infection, include many different types of vegetables in your diet.

Red bell and chili peppers are a great source of vitamin C, almost on par with citrus fruits. They also contain an alkaloid called capsaicin. According to a review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, capsaicin possesses strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and as such, has the potential clinical value for pain relief, cancer prevention and weight loss.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, can also contribute to a stronger immune system. They contain high levels of vitamin C and E, as well as compounds called glucosinolates. As described in the Molecules journal, glucosinolates have been shown to be protective against many different types of cancer, including breast, brain, blood, bone, colon, gastric, liver, lung, oral, pancreatic and prostate.

Broccoli is another great example of a food that can boost your immune system. Apart from containing many vitamins, polyphenols and glucosinolates, it’s also a great source of substances called sulforaphane and quercetin. According to a review published in Phytochemistry Reviews, sulforaphane is highly involved in detoxification and neutralization of chemical carcinogens and free radicals. Quercetin also displays powerful antioxidant, anti-allergic and antiviral properties.

Special attention should also be given to green leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce and spinach. Spinach is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables. Multiple studies have demonstrated its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, and cholesterol-lowering abilities. It provides a solid dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including a carotenoid called lutein. As suggested in a review in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, lutein has been shown to stimulate the production of antibodies and fight bacterial infections.

Mushrooms

There’s been a growing interest in the immune-strengthening properties of mushrooms. This food group provides a good deal of selenium and B vitamins, both of which have an important role in our immune health. Furthermore, mushrooms contain a range of highly specific immunomodulatory and anti-cancer proteins, as described in the Journal of Autoimmunity.

Many types of mushrooms are beneficial to our health, but recently the attention has been directed particularly at shiitake mushrooms. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, regular consumption of shiitake significantly improves white blood cell and antibody production in the body.

Fermented foods

Fermented food and drink has a long history. They were among the first processed food products consumed by humans – and for many good reasons. The fermentation process improves the shelf life, safety and flavor of foods like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi. It also enhances their nutritional properties.

Many fermented foods contain strains of beneficial live bacteria, often referred to as probiotics. Probiotics can stimulate immune system function through enhancing natural killer cell toxicity, regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and increasing white blood cell count, according to a study in the Food Control journal.

Seafood

When it comes to foods that boost the immune system, seafood may not be the first thing to cross your mind. But this food group has a lot to offer. Oily fish, for example, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, melatonin, tryptophan and polyamines. According to a review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, regular fish consumption can lead to better gut health and a reduced risk of developing inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Shellfish – including shrimp, lobsters, oysters, mussels, scallops, clams, crabs, krill and snails – also contain significant quantities of immune-stimulating bioactive peptides, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In fact, oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, which is linked to immune health.

Spices and condiments are great for increasing the flavor of dishes, but that’s not the only thing they’re useful for.

Garlic is a great example of a food that can boost the immune system. According to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition, garlic appears to stimulate the production and regulate the functioning of white blood cells, cytokines and immunoglobulins. Regular consumption can contribute to the treatment and prevention of respiratory infections, gastric ulcer, and even cancer.

Garlic

Ginger is another example. According to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, ginger has a strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and anticancer potential.

What’s more, black pepper may also be able to boost the immune system. Due to its antibacterial properties, it’s long been used as a food preservative. It contains a compound called piperine, which according to a review published in the Phytotherapy Research journal, displays numerous health benefits.

In the last several years, researchers have also been extensively studying the immunomodulatory properties of turmeric. Recent studies have demonstrated that curcumin – the main active ingredient of turmeric – shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-regulatory properties and can reduce the risk of several types of cancers.

HOW TO INTEGRATE IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS INTO A BALANCED DIET

Many foods have the ability to boost the immune system, but how can you make sure you’re including them in your diet?

Firstly, make sure to focus on eating wholefoods and cooking from scratch. Also, try to avoid highly processed foods – items such as packaged bread, microwave meals and breakfast cereals may appear healthy, but they tend to be largely devoid of immune-supporting nutrients. If you feel peckish, try to snack on citrus fruit and berries. When it comes to larger meals, try to add a solid portion of vegetables, mushrooms, fish, shellfish and fermented foods to your plate. Experiment with spices and condiments too.

It’s also good to make sure that your cooking processes don’t destroy immune-boosting nutrients. For example, fruits and vegetables are sensitive to heat, so don’t overcook them. Instead, stick to steaming and gentle processing. According to an article published in Food Science and Biotechnology, prolonged boiling, frying and baking may result in reduced levels of vitamin C, A, D, E and K, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium. In fact, broccoli may lose up to 50% or more of its vitamin C when boiled.

If you’re not a fan of the taste of turmeric or mushrooms, consider dietary supplements. Many brands offer good quality extracts made from immune-boosting foods. It’s also relatively easy to top up on probiotics in the form of tablets or capsules – for best results, look for quality products with multiple different bacteria strains. If you are thinking of changing your supplement routine, however, it’s best to consult your doctor first.

OTHER WAYS TO BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Increase your physical activity levels

There’s no doubt that being more active is one of the best things you can do for your physical health and mental wellbeing. It’s also a great way to boost your immune system. According to an article published in the Nutrition journal, exercise intensity and duration are closely linked to the functioning of multiple immune system components.

Researchers from the Sports Medicine journal also pulled together the results of multiple studies and concluded that higher levels of habitual physical activity is associated with a 31% lower risk of contracting an infectious disease and a 37% reduced risk of dying from it.

Prioritize quality sleep

Maintaining good sleep hygiene can make a huge difference to your quality of life. But getting enough sleep is also an important factor in immunity. A good snooze helps to balance the levels of hormones and cytokines that are responsible for regulating the inflammatory responses in the body, as described by a study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Some animal studies have also shown that interactions between immune signaling molecules and brain neurochemicals increase significantly during infection, indicating that we tend to sleep differently when we are sick. Researchers suggested that during infection, these sleep alterations help our body to recover faster.

Keep your stress levels under control

Short bouts of stress can help us to survive dangerous situations. But when that stress becomes chronic, it can have a serious impact on our physical health.

In an article published in the Brain and Behavior journal, researchers speculate that chronic stress severely disrupts immune system signaling and increases the levels of inflammation in the body. There’s also a growing body of evidence to suggest that stress-reducing interventions have a direct impact on our susceptibility to infections. For example, multiple studies have shown that engaging in mindfulness meditation may result in decreased markers of inflammation and improved immune signaling.

By Anna Gora

www.livescience.com


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Having a ‘Life Purpose’ Is Linked with Better Brain Health, Study Shows

  • New research shows that positive mental well-being may help protect brain health as we age.
  • The findings strongly linked having purpose and meaning in life with a reduced risk for mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
  • Meaningful activities that engage the mind, body, and spirit may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The meaning of life might just be about finding meaning in life itself.

A new meta-analysis in Ageing Research Reviews suggests that a life lived with purpose and meaning is good for brain health, offering implications for cognitive impairment in older adults..

According to the National Institute on Aging, people over 65 will account for 16% of the world’s population by 2050 — a 50% increase from 2010. The global prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is expected to triple by 2050Trusted Source, from about 57 million to 152 million.

While prior evidence shows that a healthy lifestyle — such as keeping your brain active, regular exercise, and a balanced diet — reduces the risk of dementia, the new research offers insight into how psychological well-being may also play an important role in slowing cognitive decline.

How does having a sense of purpose improve brain health?

Older adults with dementia face increased risks for mental health conditions like depression.

Prior research has shown a strong link between positive psychology and physical health outcomes, while healthy aging research shows that mental well-being may play a role in longevity.

To better understand how mental well-being is associated with cognitive function and dementia risk, researchers at University College London examined data from 62,250 people across three continents with an average age of 60.

The systematic review of 11 studies observed the link between positive psychological constructs (PPCs) like purposeful living and the risk of dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older adults.

The results indicate that having purpose and meaning in life is significantly associated with a 19% reduced risk for dementia. This was more statistically significant than other positive constructs like optimism and happiness.

Still, the mixed findings for different PPCs highlight a need for further research to explore the causal relationship between positive psychological factors and cognitive health.

Purpose vs. happiness: What’s the difference?

Georgia Bell, a PhD student at University College London and lead author of the study, told Psych Central that purposeful living may be more impactful for reducing MCI risk than happiness due to the differences between eudemonic (e.g., purpose or meaning) and hedonic (e.g., positive affect or pleasure) well-being.

“People with higher eudemonic well-being may be more likely to engage in other protective behaviors, such as exercise and social interactions,” Bell said by email.

“Whilst an individual may gain happiness from these, the goal-oriented pursuit to live in a way that is purposeful [or] meaningful may act as motivation to live a healthier lifestyle.”

Hedonic pursuits

David A. Merrill, MD, an adult and geriatric psychiatrist, and director of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Pacific Brain Health Center in Santa Monica, California, explained that hedonic activities that bring you happiness are often fleeting, satisfying needs or urges.

“The hedonistic pursuit of happiness can involve mindless or unhealthy behaviors, like overindulgence, at times,” Merrill said by phone.

Eudemonic pursuits

According to Merrill, eudemonic pursuits meet a certain human need through purpose or meaning.

Older adults may find meaning in strengthening interpersonal relationships, especially for those who’ve lost loved ones or have become estranged from other family members.

“If you can find a purpose in deepening your relationships with others, that may end up promoting all these other health behaviors that protect your brain and your body,” Merrill said.

hugs

The science of living with purpose

If having purpose or meaning in life leads to better brain health, it’s possible that biological and neurological factors play a role.

For instance, a study published in April 2022 in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience shows that life satisfaction increases with age due to the increased release of oxytocin.

According to Bell, it’s possible that purpose and meaning are also associated with key dementia-related biomarkers, such as neuroinflammation and cellular stress response.

“Whilst we offer possible explanations, we would like to emphasize these are only speculative and largely based on mechanisms for depression and dementia risk,” Bell said. “More research is needed to better understand this.”

Merrill agreed that having a purpose could play a protective role in decreasing the stress response. “If you have lower levels of cortisol, then hopefully it’s dampening any chronic neuroinflammation response or cellular response,” Merrill said.

What lifestyles can improve brain function?

Exercise is good for the body and the brain. Research shows that lifestyle factors, such as physical activity and social connectedness, may be helpful for preventing cognitive decline.

An April 2022 study published in The BMJe suggests that a healthy lifestyle is associated with a longer life expectancy and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Meanwhile, a March 2022 study in Alzheimer’s & Dementia suggests that managing cholesterol and glucose in early adulthood can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

If purposeful living is indeed a protective factor for memory loss, Merrill suggested modifying your behaviors to pursue meaningful activities.

“Excessive amounts of resting or inactivity aren’t really promoting physical health or brain health,” Merrill said.

“Just because you’re happy that you’ve obtained or achieved something, it may not necessarily reinforce any of the positive biological effects that are related to behaviors that improve physical health or brain health.”

Purpose-driven tips to promote brain health

Pursuing purpose protects against depression, and depression is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

“When people are not depressed, they take better care of themselves overall — from their general physical health to their mental well-being, social connectedness, and activities.”

Merrill recommends goal-directed activities that are cognitively stimulating and help you stay physically active and engaged.

“There’s a chain reaction of positive events when you’re pursuing purpose,” Merrill said. “You’re boosting your mood, which boosts how well you take care of yourself.

Try engaging in volunteer work

If volunteering gives you purpose, you might prioritize a good night’s sleep and nutritious breakfast to hold yourself accountable for the job you need to do. You’re also socializing and connecting with others who are passionate about the same cause.

Spend more time outside

A large body of research shows that being outside in nature is beneficial for mental and physical health and improves cognitive function. Outdoor activities also tend to inspire social connections with others.

Prioritize your relationships

The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest studies of adult life for more than 80 years, found a strong link between longevity and meaningful relationships.

According to Merrill, nurturing our relationships with our family, friends, and community, may also help protect us against depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Well-being and health are related to the success of our relationships,” Merrill said. “Purposefulness can decrease the pain that comes from disconnect, shame, and isolation.”

Takeaway

While there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a healthier lifestyle combining diet, exercise, and purpose may help prevent cognitive impairment in older adults.

Still, adults of all ages may wish to consider how we could make our lives more meaningful now.

Remember, there’s a distinct difference between hedonistic pleasures and purposeful activities.

Engaging in what gives you purpose and meaning may also make you more inclined to choose other healthy behaviors.

“It’s kind of futile to just chase after pleasure,” Merrill said. “Purposefulness, by happy coincidence, activates these other behavioral changes that are healthy for your body and your brain.”

source: psychcentral.com


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9 Simple Ways To Be Happy Every Day

Cloud 9 isn’t as far out of out of reach as you might think. We asked the experts for simple strategies to wake up with a smile each and every day.

Sure, life is filled with ups and downs. Who doesn’t feel sad, anxious or a little bit lost every now and then? But these feelings don’t define us—and they don’t define our year, our week or even our day. The ability to change our thoughts, moods and, in effect, lives lies in the power of positive thinking, so we consulted the pros about what we can do from day to day to turn that proverbial frown upside down and discover greater happiness within.

1. Take frequent breaks.

Though easy access to smartphones and com­puters means we can solve most conundrums with the touch of a but­ton, many apps are highly addictive and take time away from the things that really matter, such as family, friends and com­plex problem-solving that leads to personal growth. “These days, tech is in charge of us; we’re not in charge of it,” says leadership coach Ellen Petry Leanse, author of The Happiness Hack. To break the cycle, take a tech time­out at the start of every day and during social inter­actions.

2. Interrupt adverse thought patterns. 

“Negative thinking creates negative feelings,” says California-based corporate-culture consultant Larry Senn, author of The Mood Elevator. “And grateful thinking creates grateful feelings. If you can change your thoughts, you can change your life.” One easy tactic for transforming your mindset is to interrupt it. If you notice you’re bombarded by stressful thoughts, go for a walk, help someone with a problem or play with your pet and see if you feel your mood shift.

3. Stay curious. 

When someone cuts you off during rush hour or a coworker argues with you during a presentation, it can suddenly seem like the world is out to get you. But feeling affronted and judgmental is a choice—and you can pick a different attitude. “Everybody is doing what makes sense to them based on their own think­ing,” says Senn. “We don’t have to agree with it, but we can decide not to take it personally.” Instead, choose to be curious about the thought processes and circumstances that lead to a person’s actions, and while you’re at it, consider the underlying reasons for your reactions.

happiness

4. Build deeper in-person connections. 

“The majority of the people I interact with in my work as a teacher and a coach say that the thing they want most is a sense of deeper connection,” says Leanse, who’s an instructor at California’s Stanford University. “They say things like, ‘I want to find my tribe’ or ‘I want to be with people I understand and who understand me.’ ” Building those connections is easier than you think. “It can be as simple as trying to engage with others by being curious about them and asking questions to under­stand more.” Try to follow this simple rule: Listen more than you talk.

5. Take care of your body.  

It’s tough to have a positive mindset if you’re running on little sleep, no exercise and a steady diet of burgers and chocolate bars. “We know that when people get run down physically, they catch colds more easily,” says Senn. “When you get run down physically, you also catch moods more easily.” By ensuring that you maintain a healthy diet, engage in vigorous exercise and get adequate sleep, you’ll build resilience to life’s hardships—and you’ll probably feel better about yourself overall, which is another key component of positive thinking.

6. Make time for meditation. 

Spending quiet time focusing on breathing or completing guided meditations is one way to train your reactive mentality—the one that jumps to conclusions and is quick to react—to pause before acting and can promote greater emotional intelligence and a profound sense of calm. “It’s like weight lifting for the mind,” says Leanse. But if setting aside a spec­ific chunk of time seems impossible right now, simply try to be more mindful in your day-to-day life. “Find moments to be reflective and pay attention to the ‘now’ as you navi­gate everyday tasks,” says Leanse. For instance, when you wash the dishes, focus on the temperature of the water, the smell of the soap and the feel of each item in your hands.

7. Practice gratitude.

According to Senn—and a whole host of researchers—cultivating a perspective of gratitude is one of the best ways to tap into a happier life. To do so, keep a gratitude journal, take a few minutes each day to think of three things you’re grateful for or compliment other people to show appreciation. “If you want to be happier, forget the myth that achievements or acquisitions bring happiness,” says Senn. “Instead, focus on activities that will nourish gratitude for the blessings you’ve already been granted.”

8. Challenge yourself.

Guilty pleasures like watching TV or checking social media reward our brains with quick spikes of dopamine, but they don’t offer a lasting sense of satisfaction in the same way that “completing projects, being creative, learning, working on long-term goals or doing routine tasks like weeding the garden will,” says Leanse. That’s not to say we should never enjoy a mindless distraction, but completing “deep work”—the things that actually matter to us as individuals—will provide far more happiness in the long run.

9. Delay reactions.

You will have hard days. That’s a given in life. But the occasional bad day or mood can’t hurt you if you press pause on rash actions (think yelling at a loved one or sending a snooty email). “Your thinking is unreliable in the lower mood states,” says Senn, meaning that you may not be able to think clearly if you’re anxious, angry, impatient or sad. “Don’t trust your feelings during lower mood states. Instead of acting on unreliable thinking, delay important conversations and decisions.”

BY: ANDREA KARR

source: www.canadianliving.com


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How To See Through The ‘Health Halo’ That May Be Hiding Ultra-Processed Foods

The main issue is finding time to read labels and figuring out what they really mean, experts say.

Most of us have probably heard that food marketers play it a little fast and loose with health claims.

So how much of what we read on a label can we trust? What, exactly, makes my bag of cereal clusters “lean,” for example? We asked two Toronto registered dietitians to separate fact from fiction to make it easier for us to navigate the grocery aisle. And the first thing we learned is that, even though there are tricky terms out there, words still have meaning and many of them are actually tightly regulated.

Sugar, Fat and Salt

“The truth is, the Government of Canada, specifically the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, does govern many of the terms that are seen on food packages,” explains Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and co-author of the book, “Food to Grow On.” “So, calories, salt, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, fibre, vitamins and minerals, all of these are all highly regulated.”

Every claim related to any property listed on the nutrition facts table is regulated, explains Rosenbloom: “So, if it says 25 per cent less sugar, that manufacturer has to be able to prove that product has more than 25 per cent less sugar than the most well-known competitor product.”

Cholesterol-Free and gluten free

Even though the nutritional world has softened its stance on cholesterol, most people like to see the words “No Cholesterol” on a package. Often, though, those words are found on foods that never would have contained cholesterol in the first place.

“Some clients can get confused as to what cholesterol is and where it comes from,” says Amanda Li, registered culinary dietitian and founder of Wellness Simplified, a practice in Toronto. “It only derives from animal products, but marketers know that not everyone knows that and use that to their advantage, because people think it’s better for their heart.”

Similarly, the term “gluten free” is slapped on a lot of packages, from potato chips to coleslaw, even though gluten comes from grains, most commonly wheat, barley and rye. “I’ve seen the words ‘gluten free’ on water,” says Rosenbloom.

food.label-reading

No Refined Sugar

“The other one I see a lot that is a source of irritation is ‘no refined sugar,’” says Rosenbloom, who says that a lot of consumers infer that product is sugar-free.

Sadly, there are a lot of sugars that come from a less-refined source, such as agave syrup or honey, that sneak through on a technicality. That doesn’t make these sugars any healthier, though.

“At the end of the day, your body just knows it’s had sugar,” says Li. “People think maple syrup is better just because it contains tiny amounts of minerals, but there are much better ways to get minerals.”

A cup of maple syrup might supply about 20 per cent of our recommended daily intake of calcium, potassium and iron but, chugging back a cup of maple syrup is, um, really not a good idea.

Made with “Real Fruit”

“The other thing that bothers me is when a food package says ‘made with real fruit,’” Rosenbloom says. “Like, for example, there are ‘real fruit’ gummies which are literally candies made by taking some fruit juice concentrate and turning it into a sugar.”

The same is true for many “plant snacks” (including veggie straws and chips) that appear to be “healthier” choices but may not be any better than a (gluten free and cholesterol-free) potato chip. It’s worth pointing out that potato chips are also plant-based, they’re just plant snacks with an image problem.

“I like to call them hyper-palatable foods,” says Li. “Moms often say ‘I give my kids veggie chips’ and I’m not sure if they understand that they aren’t really vegetables. Most of them are just a lot of refined carbohydrates.”

Rosenbloom says she’s seen school lunch boxes packed with fruit candy and veggie straws and known that parents think they’ve done a great job and covered all the major food groups. “It tricks many Canadians into believing they are eating fruits and vegetables when they’re not getting the real deal.”

If we had the time to really think about what we were buying at the grocery store, we’d be able to see through a lot of meaningless sales pitches on packaging. The problem, especially for parents, is that time is a precious resource and decision fatigue is a real thing.

Marketers know that. Which is why, over the past decade, a lot of food has been rebranded as accessories to wellness culture. Increasingly, food is packaged in shiny white bags that are decorated with a splotch of green or eye-catching pictures of colourful fruits that pop, all of which give it what American nutritionist and food studies scholar Marion Nestle calls a “health halo” — a carefully constructed image that often hides yet another ultra-processed food.

So, it’s not so much that you can’t believe anything you read, since a fair bit of the information on packages is actually quite reliable. It’s finding the time to do it that’s the real problem.

Christine Sismondo        Mon., April 18, 2022

source: www.thestar.com