Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Coffee has been found to reverse liver damage caused by alcohol.
  • The brain naturally craves 4 things: Food, Sex, Water and Sleep.
  • Studies show that by eating a big breakfast, you won’t feel as hungry the rest of the day, which can lead to more nutritional food choices.
  • 70% of people pretend to be okay simply because they don’t want to annoy others with their problems.
Tomatoes
Eating tomatoes helps prevent sunburn.
  • The average woman smiles 62 times a day. The average man smiles only 8 times.
  • Self-discipline better predicts success than IQ, according to research.
  • Eating tomatoes helps prevent sunburn.
  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.
Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Coffee vs. Tea: Is One Better for Your Health?

A hot cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning. A soothing cup of tea can help you relax after a stressful day. And the latest research about the health benefits of each might help you feel a little better about them, whichever beverage you drink.

After years of studies that seemed to swing between dire warnings and cheery promises about what our favorite caffeinated beverages do and don’t do, much of the recent science regarding coffee and tea is generally positive.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently took coffee off its list of suspected carcinogens, and some research suggests it could help keep colon cancer from coming back after treatment. Other studies suggest drinking coffee might stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Various studies have pointed to tea drinkers having lower odds of skin, breast, and prostate cancers. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact ways that happens. But tea, particularly green tea, is rich in compounds like antioxidants, which can limit cell damage and boost the immune system; and polyphenols, which have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease through a polyphenol known as EGCG, which prevents the formation of plaques that are linked to that brain-damaging illness.

Is one better for you than the other?

Experts say that’s hard to say. That’s because it’s difficult to separate out their different ingredients, their role in your diet, and their effects on different body systems.

“I think people are looking at both coffee and tea and how they affect everything, including cancer and GI disease and cardiovascular diseases,” says Elliott Miller, MD, a critical care medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

Miller and his colleagues recently looked at signs of heart disease in more than 6,800 people from different backgrounds across the country. About 75% drank coffee, while about 40% reported drinking tea. Drinking more than one cup of tea regularly was linked to less buildup of calcium in arteries that supply blood to the heart, a development that can lead to heart disease.

Coffee didn’t have an effect either way on heart disease, but that was significant in itself, Miller says.

“Very often patients will ask their doctors, ‘Hey, doc, I’ve got coronary artery disease, or I’ve got risk factors like high blood pressure or cholesterol. Is it safe for me to drink coffee?’ Because everyone thinks drinking coffee makes your heart excited and is potentially bad,” Miller says. “So finding that it’s neutral, I think, is pretty important.”

Researchers say it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how both drinks affect health. Both coffee and tea are “complex beverages” that contain a variety of ingredients. They include caffeine, polyphenols, and antioxidants – compounds researchers are studying for their potential cancer-fighting properties, says Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

“It’s more of a dynamic interaction than one single compound,” Cimperman says. Some people have tried to isolate one element in tea or coffee that they think is the secret to one effect or another, “and then they realize that it doesn’t have the same effect.”

 © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com Title: Coffee mug Description: Coffee mug on white background. Photo taken on: December 21st, 2010 * ID: * 17527982 * Level: * 3 * Views : * 252 * Downloads: * 17 * Model released: * NO * Content filtered: * NO Keywords (Report | Suggest) bean beverage breakfast cafe ceramic coffee cup drink handle hot mug relax

Cimperman said drinking tea has been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, improved weight loss, and a stronger immune system. Meanwhile, studies point to coffee as a potential way to head off not just Parkinson’s but type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart problems, Cimperman says.

Another recent study, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found regular coffee drinking may help prevent colon cancer from coming back after treatment.

In his study of nearly 1,000 patients, Fuchs says, there was a “significant and linear” association between drinking coffee and lower risk of colon cancer returning in those who drank four or more cups a day. “The more coffee they drank, the lower risk of recurrence.” But the researchers aren’t clear on which element of the drink contributed to that result, and there didn’t seem to be any effect from drinking tea, he says.

“I think you can have two or more cups a day without any concern, and certainly that may benefit you,” Fuchs says. But what about for those who don’t drink coffee? “If it was somebody who hates the stuff and asks, ‘Should I drink it?’ I’d say no. I’d counsel them about diet and exercise and avoiding obesity as measures I think would have a similar benefit.”

Other researchers are asking questions about what role genetics and lifestyle play into the effects of drinking coffee or tea. For instance, coffee and cigarettes once went together like … well, like coffee and cigarettes, which cause cancer and heart disease.

Some people’s bodies process coffee differently than others, says Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Meanwhile, a preference for tea over coffee might reflect other healthier behaviors, she says.

“Does someone who drinks tea do yoga or meditation more?” Gulati says. “I’m not necessarily saying they’re associated, but do they exercise more? Are they drinking things like green tea to maintain their weight better than other types of drinks?”

And Robert Eckel, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Denver, says an overall heart-healthy diet is “probably the most important aspect” of preventing heart disease.

“We’re talking about fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and avoiding saturated fat. That nutritional message is unchanging,” Eckel says.

There are other variables. The WHO’s ruling on coffee nonetheless cautioned that any kind of extremely hot drinks could raise the risk of esophageal cancer, while Cimperman says dumping a lot of cream and sugar into your drink can blunt any benefits.

“No one beverage or food will make or break your diet,” she says. “The quality of your diet is always the sum of all the parts.”

By Matt Smith      Dec. 23, 2016         WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Sources:
International Agency for Research on Cancer: “Evaluation of drinking coffee, maté, and very hot beverages.”
American Journal of Medicine: “Associations of Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine Intake with Coronary Artery Calcification and Cardiovascular Events.”
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
News release, American Academy of Neurology.
Journal of Clinical Oncology: “Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
National Cancer Institute: “Tea and cancer prevention.”
Current Pharmaceutical Design: “Reported Effects of Tea on Skin, Prostate, Lung and Breast Cancer in Humans.”
Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition: “Tea and its consumption: benefits and risks.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Catechin- and caffeine-rich teas for control of body weight in humans.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Tea and flavonoid intake predict osteoporotic fracture risk in elderly Australian women: a prospective study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Coffee and tea consumption are inversely associated with mortality in a multiethnic urban population.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Effect of increased tea consumption on oxidative DNA damage among smokers: a randomized controlled study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Black Tea Consumption Reduces Total and LDL Cholesterol in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Adults.”
Diabetes Journals: “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.”
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: “Coffee consumption and risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
Circulation: “Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.”
Journal of Clinical Oncology: Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
Neurotoxicology:  “Onset and progression factors in Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review.”
Nature: “Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.”
Elliott Miller, MD, critical care medicine specialist, National Institutes of Health.
Lisa Cimperman, dietitian, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Robert Eckel, MD, former president, American Heart Association; University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.Charles Fuchs, director, Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Studies show that the walking through a doorway causes memory lapses, which is why we walk into another room, only to forget why we did.
  • A man named Walter Summerford was struck by lightning 3 times in his life.  After his death, his gravestone was also struck. 
  • Long distance relationships are as satisfying as normal relationships in terms of communication, intimacy, and commitment, studies show. 
overthinking
  • Emotional pain lasts for 10 to 20 minutes, anything longer is actually self inflicted by over thinking, making things worse.
  • Just 20 minutes of exercise three days a week will increase your happiness by around 10 to 20% .
  • A sunflower is actually a cluster of hundreds of flowers.
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth after oil.

 

Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Is Your Diet Making You Aggressive?

Do you find yourself angry and irritable more often than you’d like? Does your mood swing out of control at certain times of day? While larger issues could be at play, the cause of your increase in agitation and aggression could be your diet. Let’s take a look at the foods that are most likely responsible for an increase in aggression:

Unhealthy fats

Studies have shown that consumption of trans fats interrupts fat metabolism in the brain, leading to aggressive behaviors. To be specific, trans fats interfere with omega-3 fatty acid metabolism. Since the standard American diet already lacks in omega-3s (in favor of omega-6s), this throws the body way out of whack, which manifests as anger and anxiety. Additionally, trans fats cause inflammation in the body, which isn’t going to do anything to improve your mood. Ditch the Crisco and opt for whole foods instead.

Coffee

Liquid stimulation! Coffee is one of the most stimulating foods you can put into your body, which can be both beneficial and detrimental. When you drink too much coffee (an amount which is different for everyone since we all tolerate coffee differently), it can induce an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. This is because caffeine blocks calming adenosine receptors, which allows other, more active and energetic neurotransmitters to take hold and flood you with energy. Unfortunately, because of this, too much coffee can turn small annoyances into high agitation and crankiness. That being said, too little coffee when you’re addicted can lead to withdrawal crankiness as well. Try to nix your addiction to coffee and enjoy caffeine as a treat every other day to keep your moods more stabilized.

coffee_dognuts

Too few carbs

We all know that dieting can make you more cranky and aggressive than usual. Ridding yourself of an addiction to certain foods can be a good thing, but if you aren’t giving your body the nutrients it needs, you’re not going to feel great. Consuming too few carbohydrates, as is common in some Paleo dieters, may cause your mood to steadily deteriorate. Some of us, especially some women, may not thrive on ultra low-carb diets. Pay attention to your energy levels. If you’re low-carb and you feel sluggish, cranky and tired all the time, you probably aren’t eating enough carbohydrates. Your bad mood is your body just trying to tell you what it needs.

Too much sugar

Have you ever eaten a giant cookie and felt absolutely horrible afterwards? Have you, as is natural when you are feeling horrible, become steadily crankier with those around you? Yeah, that’s because you’ve consumed way too much sugar. This is especially apparent in children. Ever notice the post-sugar crash tantrum? Spikes in insulin levels directly affect our moods. Regulating your blood sugar by avoiding excess sugar and eating foods rich in protein, fat and fiber can help to regulate aggressive moods.

Artificial sweeteners

For some people, an unfortunate side effect of artificial sweeteners is anger and aggression. While the mechanism that causes this isn’t exactly clear, agitation is clearly associated with artificial sweetener consumption in some. If you’re going to eat something sweet, opt for natural sweeteners, like honey or maple syrup, instead of filling your body with artificial replacements.

While the aforementioned foods can be anger-inducing, certain foods can have a calming effect on your outlook and behavior. Mango and lemon both contain a compound called linalool, which promotes lower levels of stress and anxiety when inhaled. Many teas are also extremely calming, especially those lacking caffeine, like chamomile. And, of course we cannot forget—drumroll—dark chocolate. One bite of good chocolate makes you realize that the universe isn’t so bad after all.

Overall, keeping a consistently healthy, wholesome, moderate diet will help to keep your moods balanced. Pay attention to what you eat. If you feel consistently off when you eat a certain food, try not eating it for a while. Your diet should make you feel good, not grumpy.

By: Jordyn Cormier      August 10, 2016       About Jordyn
source: www.care2.com


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7 Foods That May Help Lengthen Your Lifespan

If we want to live longer, healthier lives where our risk of suffering from major illnesses and health conditions is minimized, cleaning up our diets is a must. According to WebMD, the amount of research we now have access to is proving that there could be such a thing as a “longevity diet.”

Most people grasp the general understanding of what a healthy diet looks like. We know it’s all about fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean sources of protein while keeping processed foods at a minimum. But are there any specific foods we should be focusing on adding to our diet that contribute to longevity?

Well, we’d have to look at the research. Here are some healthy foods that might as well be a part of a “longevity diet” based on how they’ve been shown to impact people’s health and wellbeing.

1. Walnuts

In one study, people who ate more than three servings of nuts per week — especially walnuts — had a reduced risk of dying from from cardiovascular disease or cancer when compared to those who didn’t consume nuts. More recent research also shows that walnuts may actually alter gut bacteria in a way that reduces colon tumor development from colon cancer, which is the third most prevalent cancer type in the world.

2. Seafood and Plant-Based Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for helping heart health and potentially preventing age-related cognitive decline. A 2010 study found that heart patients with an increased intake of omega-3s also possessed longer stretches of DNA called telemores, which is linked to longer lifespans. Good sources of seafood-based omega-3s (DHA and EPA) include wild Pacific salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel, lake trout and some other types of cold water fish. A couple of your best sources of plant-based omega-3s (ALA) include flaxseed and chia seeds.

3. Coffee

There’s been a lot of research on coffee, and it seems as if the findings have been all over the place. While it may offer a lot of benefits, it may also have some drawbacks, too. At least one study that examined coffee consumption among nearly 75,000 adult women found that higher consumption of coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated) was linked to a lower risk of death.

bread

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains may not have much of a place in a low-carb or paleo diet, but it’s an essential part of the Mediterranean diet — a diet that has been associated with lower risks of heart disease, lower levels of bad cholesterol and an overall lower risk of death. Based on recent research, the American Heart Association says that three servings of whole grains per day can help people lower their risk of death by nearly 20 percent compared to those who eat fewer or no whole grains at all.

5. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is healthy as long as it’s dark (ideally 70 percent or more) and consumed in moderation. Researchers have found that this sweet treat helps lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. In a study that observed the health habits of nearly 21,000 British people for over a decade, only 12 percent of those who consumed dark chocolate died of cardiovascular disease compared to 17.4 percent of those who did not consume chocolate.

6. Blueberries

Many berries lend themselves to promoting good health, but some like blueberries (and also strawberries), are significantly powerful for being rich in chemical compounds called anthocyanins. They help lower blood pressure and promote elasticity in the blood vessels. Data taken over an 18-year period from almost 94,000 young women showed that those who ate the most berries experienced a reduced risk of suffering a heart attack by 34 percent compared to those who ate the fewest berries.

7. Leafy Greens

We all know that making vegetables a part of every meal, every day is one of the healthiest things you can do for your diet. Leafy greens may be ultra low in calories, but there’s been some research to say that they may help prevent dementia. For the study, eating habits and cognitive function of 950 older adults were tracked for about five years, with results showing that those who ate 1 to 2 daily servings of leafy greens experienced a decreased rate of cognitive decline compared to those who ate no leafy greens.

Now you know what to put on your grocery list the next time you head out to the store or to your local farmers’ market. And if you already eat some of the above mentioned “longevity” foods, then keep it up! Your future self will thank you for it.

By: Elise Moreau     July 4, 2016     Follow Elise at @elisem0reau
 


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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 Ways You Can Increase Dopamine Levels In The Brain Without Medication

January 20, 2016 by Stephan Gardner

“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional response, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.” – Psychology Today

There are a lot of articles on the internet about dopamine and how it affects your mood, behavior, energy, and focus. What’s not commonly spoken about, however, is how dopamine is affected by your perception. Discussed more rarely still is the reason why your dopamine levels may be low. Below are 10 ways to increase your dopamine levels, courtesy of Power of Positivity, as well as my own observations regarding the underlying issues which may have led to each situation, and how to tackle them.

1. Don’t Get Addicted

“Many people get addicted to something because it gives them some kind of instant gratification – drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, shopping, and other addictive behaviors actually have the opposite effect on dopamine levels in the long-term. In essence, when we get overly addicted to something, the ‘reward circuitry’ of our brain kicks into overdrive and we crave the ‘quick hit.’ This is not a sustainable solution for dopamine production, which can and should be done naturally.”

What’s missing here is the fact that addiction is quite often a result of low dopamine, meaning addiction is more of an attempt to fix an already existing problem. In essence, “the underpinning of your addictive personality is a lack of fulfillment from within, with a resulting urge to achieve fulfillment through substances, objects, or events that relieve the inevitable pain – for a while.” (source)

“When we receive a reward of any kind, dopamine is released in our brains. Over time, this stimulus and release of dopamine can lead to learning. Researchers have recently found that how quickly and permanently we learn things relates directly to how much dopamine we have available in our brains. As we get rewarded over and over again for something, we learn that we should keep doing whatever that is very deeply, and it’s hard to unlearn those kinds of behaviours.” (source)

What this means is that low-dopamine is a response to a lifestyle which doesn’t offer much in terms of reward to the person living it. It may be a response to the environment you’re living in, the clothes you’re wearing, the tight budget you’re working within, the relationship choices you’ve made or have been made for you, or a result of trauma where there was no perceived reward. It’s very easy to understand how dopamine levels may appear low when we consider all the potentials leading to less-rewarding lifestyles and life-experiences.

What’s necessary then is less of a ‘don’t get addicted’ approach and more of an ‘increase the rewards in your life’ style of applied advice. Fact is, you’ll constantly feel less fulfilled through low dopamine when you’re not (or are unable to) fill your day with things that inspire and reward you. Meaning, the most effective protection against addiction and greatest advantage to high-dopamine levels is a defense against low-rewarding activities and an offence working towards rewarding actions, activities, and ultimately, a lifestyle of fulfillment and achievement.

Also, because addiction is most often rooted in past traumatic experiences, where emotions create a fight or flight response that becomes rooted in your core emotions, it’s vitally important to seek proper and effective help in dissolving past trauma. Doing so can only help you perceive more rewarding experiences in your life, rather than filtering experiences through a ‘traumatized’ awareness.

2. Checklist Small Tasks

“Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks – regardless if the task is small or large. So, don’t allow your brain to worry about things that need to be done. Instead, write these tasks down and then check them off one at a time. It’s been shown that it’s more satisfying to the brain’s dopamine levels when we physically check something off of our to-do list. Also, write down and check stuff off regardless if you can mentally remember the tasks.”

In reading the book Principles of Self-Management, I came across a brilliantly well-researched understanding of motivation when it comes to tasks. In short, if a task is greater than 25% of a change in a person’s routine, the person will be overwhelmed with feeling incapable of achieving it. This leads them to self-defeat and self-sabotage to avoid accomplishing the task. On the other side, if a task is less than 10% different than a person’s normal routine, they don’t do it because it won’t have enough meaning for them to do so. As such, it’s wise to make sure you write down goals and tasks that are in between this 10% to 25% range of new behaviors and actions, otherwise, you just won’t do it.

However, this 10-25% range is simply a guide for tasks that are not directly linked to our highest values. In reality, if you can link a task to your highest values and see clearly how it will help you accomplish what’s truly most important to you, you’ll do it. If you can’t see how it will help fulfill your highest values, you’ll procrastinate, hesitate, and get frustrated in the attempt to do it. By linking a task to your highest values, you’ll both increase the chances of you doing it and also increase the reward you will feel when you accomplish it, a result of producing more dopamine in the brain.

3. Create Something

“For us writers, painters, sculptors, poets, singers, dancers, and other artists, we can identify with this. When we’re in creative mode, we can become hyper-focused. As a result, we can enter a state called flow. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to achieve this state. The lesson is this: take up a hobby or activity in which you actually create something tangible. Try something like arts, crafts, auto repair, drawing, photography, or something else that sounds interesting.”

Sparking your creative drive is an effective way to increase your potential for feeling great, achieving goals and inspiring yourself through your accomplishments. However, it can also be a distraction from a feel-bad lifestyle, if it’s not maintained with a purpose in mind. Whenever you’re working on a project, creative or not, that truly inspires you, you’ll activate your ‘flow state,’ where time and space seem to stand still. So how to you determine what it is that truly inspires you?

The most important goal in revealing your most authentic creative energy is to remove the creative energies of other people from your life. So many of us look up to the creations of others, whether works of art or music, and their works or talents take up time and space in our own minds. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can influence your own beliefs about what you can create. If you compare yourself to others and minimize yourself, you’ll repress your own creative ability. This can affect your dopamine levels, because if you can’t see your own creations as rewarding to you, as much as someone else’s, you’ll feel inferior and incapable.

One very effective way of neutralizing the influence other people have on your mind is to literally look at the negatives or downsides of their accomplishment. This isn’t to practice being a critic, but it can enable you to de-infatuate with their creative powers, helping you to stop minimizing your own. Once you recognize that your creative endeavors can exist on the level of those you admire, through practice (just like they did), you’ll increase your ability to see your own creations as meaningful and rewarding.

happy-chemicals-dopamine-serotonin-endorphin-oxytocin

 4. Exercise

“Same ‘ole, same ‘ole, we know. We’ve discussed repeatedly the importance and benefits of physical exercise, and we’re just going to add to this list again. So, not only does exercise help us relieve stress, achieve better physical health and make us more productive; it boosts our dopamine levels. More specifically, exercise increases multiple neurotransmitters – serotonin and endorphins, besides dopamine, receive a boost. Here’s something else cool: the exercise needn’t not be arduous. Simply taking a stroll or climbing some stairs will achieve a good dopamine jolt.”

Exercise is important, but it can also become a crutch or an addiction if it’s not something being integrated into your daily life. Many people go to the gym to work out, yet don’t live a life that requires the body they’re building. Another thing is actually placing a value on exercise itself. Many people buy the gym memberships, yet never use them. So what’s the easiest way to make exercise a part of your life?

There’s a branch of exercise called ‘functional training’ in which exercises are tailored to help you with your daily tasks. This is much more helpful than just ‘workouts,’ because if you can train your body into a state where your daily tasks are not taxing on your energy, you’ll breeze through the day and have more energy at the end of it. Staying in a high energy state instead of being brought down by your daily tasks will help you be more inspired during your day and innately feel more inspired to exercise.

5. Get a Streak Going

“As with creating a checklist, getting a streak going is a great way to increase dopamine levels. For the purpose of this article, a streak is a visual reminder of how many days in a row you’ve achieved something.

Get a calendar specifically for this purpose: write down whatever goal you have and the days of the week or month when they are scheduled. For example, if you work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, mark these days on the calendar for the month. As you finish a workout, mark it off on the calendar. Keep a streak going, and you’ll keep the dopamine coming.”

While the ‘streak’ is a useful tool for celebrating accomplishments, it unfortunately has a downside—routine. Doing something enough times becomes a routine, especially if the action isn’t continuously fulfilling to your highest values. To counter this, try adapting the ‘goal’ or ‘action’ in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. By continuously finding ways to improve the performance of the behavior, over time, you can look back at how many times you’ve done it, but also how much better you’ve become at it. This way, your performance becomes a competition with yourself, which increases your potential for feeling rewarded as you master a skill.

6. Increase Tyrosine

“Of the chemicals that make up dopamine, none are more important than tyrosine. In fact, tyrosine is considered the building block of dopamine. Therefore, it is important that you get enough of this protein. There’s a large list of foods that increase Tyrosine, including: Almonds, Avocados, Bananas, Beef, Chicken, Chocolate, Coffee, Eggs, Green Tea, Watermelon, Yogurt.”

Food is a reward, not a chore. This is the difference between living to eat and eating to live. While it’s important to utilize foods to your advantage, it’s just as important to recognize that the brain is its own best pharmacy. Few foods actually make it past the blood-brain barrier and this actually includes Tyrosine.

“Tyrosine is one of the 22 key amino acids that are used for building proteins around the body. In addition to this, however, it also raises the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, namely dopamine and norepinephrine. These are famous for being ‘feel good’ chemicals that can help boost mood and elevate concentration, making tyrosine a popular nootropic. However, tyrosine is completely incapable of passing the BBB. This way, no matter how much of it you were to take, you’d feel almost no effects.” (source)

The truth is, tyrosine must be bonded with another molecule to make it past the blood-brain barrier, so tyrosine in itself isn’t capable of making significant impacts on the brain. However, through natural digestion and regulating healthy bodily function, it can assist the brain in having to work less on fixing an unhealthy system, which in turn can help increase the potential for dopamine and dopamine related good feelings.

7. Listen to Music

“Do you ever wonder why music makes you happy? I mean, we can be in the dumps one moment but once we put on our favorite jam, we’re swaying and shaking away…feeling pretty good about ourselves too! The reason for this is that listening to music increases dopamine levels. In fact, scientists say that listening to music has the same effect as eating our favorite foods or watching our favorite T.V. show. So, when you’re feeling down, throw on some of your favorite tunes and jam out!”

Listening to music can increase dopamine levels temporarily, but what we’re really looking for is a lasting fulfillment feeling so you can make your daily life enjoyable and productive for your goals. Also, popular music these days is often manufactured in such a way as to prey on your brain’s chemical dependency, making much of music a form of substance addiction.

However, music has been a part of human history since as far as we can see, so its influence on our brain is greatly appreciated. In fact, one of the greatest cultural appreciations throughout history has been music. So, listen to music, but just make sure it’s not the only source of dopamine in your life.

 8. Meditate

“As with exercise, we are discovering more and more benefits to meditation. We are again adding to the list. As we discussed, the human brain is susceptible to a variety of addictions. One other addictive habit that we have is overthinking. In fact, some Buddhists have a phrase for this addiction: ‘monkey mind.’

Overthinking is not merely a distracting habit, it’s also a genuine compulsion that leaves us in a perplexing state, while also having a negative effect on our spiritual development. However, scientists are finally catching up to what Buddhists have known for thousands of years: meditation and mindfulness are essential to a healthy mind.”

Meditation can be a highly effective form of dopamine increase if done properly, as it can weed out the mental influences which may be causing your chemistry to be less than desired. With the intent of reaching a state of self-fulfillment, meditation clears out the mental clutter and replaces it with presence and fulfillment for just being alive. This is a state available to every human and can help assist our daily lives by increasing our awareness of what feels good for us and what we don’t resonate with.

9. Take Supplements

“While there are some great ways to increase dopamine levels, sometimes we’re facing a time crunch. Fortunately, there are natural supplements on the market that have been shown to increase dopamine levels. Here are a few:

  • Acetyl-l-tyrosine: Another building block of dopamine. A healthy dose of this makes it easier for the brain to produce dopamine.
  • Curcumin: An active ingredient that’s also common in curry spices and turmeric.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: A tremendously popular wonder supplement that’s also believed to boost dopamine levels and keep it circulating in the brain longer.
  • L-theanine: Increases multiple neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine. Green tea is a terrific source for this.” (source)

While supplements can impact our dopamine response, they should by no means replace your own inner potential for fulfillment. That responsibility lies with you and you alone. However, with respect to inner wisdom, without knowing what feeling amazing actually feels like, it’s difficult to strive for it as a goal. Supplements can help us get there so we can have a reference point for what our potential can be. The trick is to facilitate change in our lives, enough so that the need for supplementation to feel good is lower than the feel goods we actually experience in our life.

10. Toxic Cleansing

“As miraculous as our bodies are, we do accumulate toxins and bacteria that is bad for us. Endotoxins are the kind that can cause our immune systems to get out of whack, and it also constrains the production of dopamine. Here are a couple tips for helping cleanse the gut of endotoxins: eat fermented food, get enough sleep, and resist the urge to indulge in fatty or sugary foods.”

Whenever you’re not fulfilled in your life, you run the risk of over-indulging in sugary and sweet foods in an attempt to temporarily fulfill yourself. However, if you find fulfillment through the challenge and support of your day, you’re more likely to eat for the tasks you’re doing instead of eating just to feel good.

How you eat and how fulfilled you are, are directly correlated. If you’re actively enjoying the challenges of your life, you’re more likely to consume foods that serve your highest interests and health, because you see a reason to eat well. Controlling how you eat is less important than finding fulfillment in what you do.

So the next time you find yourself craving that candy bar, ask yourself if there isn’t something else you could eat that could help you find fulfillment. Also, notice what you are doing at the time you’re craving sugar and ask yourself if it’s really something you need to do, or can you delegate it to someone else so you can get back to things that inspire you. By focusing on what inspires and fulfills you, you’ll find yourself actively seeking to better your health without having to really focus on it.


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5 Wellness Trends That Are Worth Your Time

by Carey PetersMarch 2, 2016

Let’s face it, the age of dieting and fat-free culture is over. It’s 2016, and instead of looking for a magic pill to make us healthy, this is the year to shift our cultural mindset to a healthier lifestyle — a lifestyle that is fun, easy, and works for our bodies and the planet.

This means changing the way we think about health and wellness and opening our minds to alternative ways of nourishing ourselves, which actually includes way more than food alone.

It’s time for a radical paradigm shift in the way we “do” health, because major illnesses like heart disease and diabetes can be prevented by simple lifestyle and diet changes.

But just because the changes are simple doesn’t mean they’re easy. Here are the health trends that are actually worth paying attention to.

1. Ditching diets

The majority of people who lose weight regain it — and sometimes more — within a few months.

Yet we are so convinced that there’s one magic diet out there that will keep the weight off, so we keep looking for it. The truth is, though, that obsessing about what we eat (which is essentially what diets are) only creates anxiety and restriction, which is counterproductive to losing weight and feeling happy.

Enter health coaches.

A health coach is professionally trained as a master of habit change. Having a health coach in your corner is the difference between knowing what to do to get healthy (“I should really drink more water …”) and actually doing it (“I drank 2 liters of water every day this week!”).

Health coaches don’t enforce rules; they offer guidance and goal setting. They don’t punish and shame; they support, stretch, and hold clients accountable so that success around your health goals is inevitable.

Instead of pushing dieting, points, or calorie counting, it’s about discovering the perfect lifestyle for our unique body, one that is sustainable for a lifetime.

2. Embracing healthy fats

For decades, fat-free products have lined our supermarket shelves and become the American norm. But what many people don’t realize is fat-free foods make up for the lack of fat with something — usually sugar.

Many “fat-free” products labeled as such are misleading and unsatisfying because they lack the fat our bodies need and crave. We end up eating more and more of these foods to try to feel satisfied but never really do.

We’ve also done ourselves a huge disservice as a culture by labeling all fats as bad.

Certain fats like hydrogenated oil (aka trans fats) should be avoided. These are found in many products with long shelf lives from crackers and frosting to deep-fried food and microwave popcorn.

It’s good to get in the habit of reading the list of ingredients on food labels. Look out for the word “hydrogenated” — that’s the killer clue.

Healthy fats, on the other hand, can lower cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease and offer myriad health benefits from better reproductive health to glowing skin.

Healthy fats like the ones found in avocados, nuts, olives, and wild fatty fish are crucial for our well-being, and they’re back in fashion. So eat them with pride. We do!

almonds

3. The power of fresh air and green space

We’ve been so focused for so long on food and how it affects our health that we’ve neglected the health benefits of our natural environment — which offers us totally free, 24/7 nourishment for our souls.

It’s time to take an hour a day to shut down screen time, take a break from the office cubicle, and get outside. Our bodies and minds crave fresh air, sunshine, and green space just like it craves food.

So take that hour-long lunch break, walk to a nearby park, and breathe in the air. Even 15 minutes of fresh air (even if it’s city air or it’s raining) is more refreshing than an air-conditioned office.

On weekends make a point to get into nature — go for a hike in the woods, ride a bike along the pier, have a picnic in the park — and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your cravings disappear and how recharged your system feels.

4. Modest meat consumption

We’re not suggesting everyone swear off meat forever, but our current level of animal consumption is simply not sustainable for the planet or our bodies — especially meat from factory farm animals pumped with antibiotics and unnatural (often harmful) diets.

The meat industry is also one of the highest contributors to global warming due to the methane gases emitted by livestock waste, which converts into greenhouse gases. An enormous amount of water is also needed to produce meat — it takes approximately 1,300 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef!

There are plenty of ways to consume nutrient-dense, non-animal protein sources like pumpkin seeds, non-GMO tofu, chia and hemp seeds, quinoa, garbanzo beans, and lentils. Think of animal protein as a condiment — sprinkle in a little grass-fed, organic animal protein here and there.

5. Coffee + grass-fed butter for better digestion

Our society is obsessed with caffeine, and coffee is our drug of choice. The truth is that caffeine combined with a diet low in healthy fats and fiber can wreak havoc on our nervous system and digestive function.

If quitting caffeine is just not an option, then try the new “Bulletproof” coffee from health expert Dave Asprey. It’s a blend of high-quality coffee beans and grass-fed butter.

The fats in the butter slow the absorption of the caffeine and prevent that caffeine rush, replacing it with a slow release of high energy for hours. Combine Bulletproof coffee with a breakfast that’s high in healthy fats and fiber, and you’ve got yourself a trendy (and healthy) start to your day.


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The Drink That Fights Depression

Sip this to stave off sadness

By AMANDA FIRST    MARCH 26, 2013

If you’re a java junkie—you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day—you’re about 10% less likely to be depressed than someone who has never stepped inside a Starbucks, says a new study from the National Institutes of Health and AARP. (Good news: Other studies suggest that just 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day may be enough to perk you up.)

Coffee’s benefits may not be due solely to its caffeine high, because depression protection doesn’t extend to all caffeinated drinks. (Cola was among the many sweetened beverages linked to a higher risk of depression, and drinks with artificial sweeteners were even more strongly linked.)

Coffee’s mood-lifting effect might be traced to its antioxidants, says lead researcher Honglei Chen, PhD, an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. So drink up: There’s also research that indicates regular coffee consumption delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and protects against type 2 diabetes.

 © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com Title: Coffee mug Description: Coffee mug on white background. Photo taken on: December 21st, 2010 * ID: * 17527982 * Level: * 3 * Views : * 252 * Downloads: * 17 * Model released: * NO * Content filtered: * NO Keywords (Report | Suggest) bean beverage breakfast cafe ceramic coffee cup drink handle hot mug relax

“Cup of joe” found to have more health benefits

Published on May 7, 2007 

According to a new study drinking coffee may offer protection from type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

These latest findings also suggest that the antioxidants present in coffee can also lower the risk of heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

Coffee contains hundreds of components including substantial amounts of chlorogenic acid, caffeine, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B3, trigonelline and lignans.

Chlorogenic acid has been shown in animal experiments to reduce glucose concentrations; coffee also contains tannin, which is beneficial for heart and arteries.

Researcher Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that coffee, if taken in moderate amounts, can actually prevent colon, liver and rectal cancer.

Other experts also believe that coffee reduces the amount of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol secretion in the colon which accelerates the passage of stools through the colon and cuts down the exposure of the lining of the intestine to potential carcinogens in food.

Recent research in Norway has found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day had a 28 percent reduced risk compared with people who drank two or fewer.

They also found that women who drank one to three cups a day reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24 percent compared with those drinking no coffee at all.

It is also suggested that coffee contains more antioxidants than a serving of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries and oranges.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and experts say the volume of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption may halve the risk of certain disease conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, kidney stones, gallstones, depression and even suicide.

In other research Dr. Lenore Arab, a nutritional epidemiologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, reviewed the latest epidemiologic literature on cancers and coffee.

Dr. Arab found almost 400 studies on the association between coffee consumption and cancers at various sites.

Dr. Arab says the evidence suggests there are two areas where there is some evidence of increased risk: leukemia and stomach cancer.

Experts do however warn that excess coffee intake is also linked to increased nervousness, rapid heartbeat and trembling hands.

Future research may well lead to the development or selection of coffee types with improved health effects.


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9  Powerful Eating Habits to Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s

Everything from how you cook meat to what you eat for dessert
can play a role in your brain health.

Here, how to eat to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.

by Kenneth S. Kosik, MD

There is no one best dietary pattern when it comes to eating for optimum brain health. Nor is there one magical food or supplement. Instead, a wide range of eating patterns—Asian eating, the MIND diet, the Mediterranean diet, vegan eating—has been shown to protect your brain. Although those eating patterns vary—for example, some include meat, others don’t; some place a heavy emphasis on fish, others suggest no fish—they all tend to have one thing in common: a preponderance of antioxidant-rich plant foods.

Plants manufacture antioxidant chemicals to protect themselves from ultra- violet light and disease. When we eat these plants—in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains—we consume this built-in protection, and their antioxidants can then protect our cells from disease, too. This includes disease protection for cells in the brain, and we know this, in part, thanks to beagles.

Carl Cotman, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine, and other researchers have studied how kibble enriched with tomatoes, carrots, citrus, spinach, and antioxidant supplements (vitamins E and C, lipoic acid, and carnitine) affects the brains of beagles. He and his team divided the dogs into four groups. One control group ate a regular diet. A second group ate the enriched kibble that included the equivalent of six servings of fruits and vegetables. A third group ate regular kibble but were offered the canine equivalent of daily school education: an abundance of exercise, playtime with other dogs, and access to novel toys. The final group ate the enriched kibble and went to dog school.

Brain Smart eating isn’t about gorging on just blueberries or chia seeds or some other healthy food du jour. Many different foods and different dietary patterns have been shown to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease.

As the study progressed, the researchers repeatedly tested the dogs with increasingly difficult learning problems. In one, the dogs had to learn whether a treat was hidden under a black or a white block. Overall, the dogs in the combined group—the ones who played, exercised, and ate fruit-and-veggie-packed kibble—did the best on the learning tasks. No surprises there, as playtime and intellectual enrichment are just as powerful Brain Smarts as good nutrition. But even the dogs who only ate the enriched kibble and who were not offered extra playtime performed better than the dogs who only ate regular kibble. Sixty percent of them were able to continually find the hidden treat, whereas only 25 percent of the dogs who ate regular kibble could do the same.

Antioxidant-rich foods are just one important component of a Brain Smart eating pattern. In addition to antioxidants, many foods also contain substances that lower inflammation throughout the body and brain, as well as nutrients needed for cells to do their jobs.

All of these nutrients seem to work together to create good health. It’s for this reason that there is no one food or beverage to consume for good health. Brain Smart eating isn’t about gorging on just blueberries or chia seeds or some other healthy food du jour. It’s not even about just one specific eating pattern. It turns out that many different foods and different dietary patterns have been shown to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease, and this is great news for all of us. It allows us the freedom to tailor our Brain Smart food choices to our personal tastes and lifestyle. Consider embarking on one of the following Brain Smart eating patterns—or perhaps even a combination of them.

Chia

1. Fill up on fewer calories: Start your meals with veggie-packed salads or soups, or use small plates to trick your brain into thinking your meals look bigger than they actually are. Filling up on fewer calories allows you to shed pounds, which can help reverse other risks for Alzheimer’s disease, including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Cutting your daily intake of calories by 30 to 50 percent also reduces your metabolic rate and therefore slows oxidation throughout the body, including the brain. It lowers blood glucose and insulin levels, too.

2. Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Higher vegetable consumption was associated with slower rate of cognitive decline in 3,718 people aged 65 years and older who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Study participants filled out food logs and agreed to undergo tests of their cognitive abilities periodically for six years. All of the study participants scored lower on cognitive tests at the end of the study than they did at the beginning, but those who consumed more than four daily servings of vegetables experienced a 40 percent slower decline in their abilities than people who consumed less than one daily serving.

3. Use spices liberally. Herbs and spices add flavor to food, allowing you to cut back on butter, oil, and salt. Because they come from plants, many herbs and spices also contain antioxidants and offer many healing benefits, including Alzheimer’s prevention. Several different studies show that curcumin, for example, helps to reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Just a quarter teaspoon of the spice twice a day has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar up to 29 percent in people with type 2 diabetes. This is important, because type 2 diabetes can raise your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Marinate meat before cooking. When fat, protein, and sugar react with heat, certain harmful compounds form called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They are found in particularly high levels in bacon, sausages, processed meats, and fried and grilled foods. The consumption of high amounts of AGEs has been shown to cause harmful changes in the brain. But there’s an easy way to slash your AGE consumption: Make your food (especially meats) as moist as possible. By boiling, braising, poaching, or marinating meat and fish before grilling or broiling, you allow moisture to permeate their flesh, dramatically reducing the AGEs.

5. Eat coldwater fish once a week. Fish that swim in cold waters tend to develop a layer of fat to keep them warm. Called omega-3 fatty acid, this type of fat has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body when consumed by humans. In a study of 815 people, people who consumed fish at least once a week reduced their Alzheimer’s disease risk by 60 percent compared to people who rarely or never ate fish.

6. Snack on nuts and seeds. In addition to being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds also provide a good dose of selenium and vitamin E, two other nutrients that may promote brain health. Walnuts may be a particularly potent source of edible brain protection. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are rich in antioxidants that have been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

7. Drink several cups of tea a day. Black and green tea are rich sources of antioxidants called catechins that may fend off oxidative damage throughout the body, including the brain. Green tea is also a rich source of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to reduce beta-amyloid plaque and tau tangles in mice. Tea has also been shown to drop blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

8. Enjoy coffee in the morning. Caffeine consumed too late in the day may disturb your sleep. But coffee consumed in the morning and perhaps the early afternoon, depending on your personal caffeine sensitivity, may reduce risk. Coffee contains a chemical called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) that, in studies done on rats, has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine itself may also be protective: Mice developed fewer tau tangles in their brains when their drinking water was infused with caffeine. In humans, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that 200 milligrams of caffeine—the amount in one strong cup of coffee—can help us consolidate memories and more easily memorize new information.

9. End dinner with dark chocolate—not chocolate cake. Most desserts are rich in blood-sugar-spiking sugar, and recent research has linked high blood sugar levels with oxidative damage as well as an elevated production of beta-amyloid protein plaque. Chocolate, however, may be one exception. Chocolate contains antioxidant chemicals called flavonoids, protective substances also present in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Baby boomers who consumed chocolate-rich drinks twice a day for three months performed as well on memory tests as did people a few decades younger. In part of the same study, tests revealed that the chocolate drinks also seemed to improve blood flow to the hippocampi regions of the brain.

source: www.rd.com