Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Secretly thinking you’re better than everyone else is good for your mental health, researchers suggest.

  • Memory improves when you imagine yourself doing something.

 

  • Drinking 2 cups of cold water on an empty stomach can boost metabolism by 30%.

  • Five Things you can do to help you be happier:

    1. Meditation 2. Smiling 3. Exercise 4. Help others 5. Follow your passion.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact
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Exposure to Bright Light Might Impact Metabolism

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

Most people are aware of the importance of vitamin D for good health and that it comes from the sun in its natural form. And many know that the light from our electronic devices can mess with their ability to sleep at night. But did you know that your exposure to bright light — perhaps natural or artificial — may even be powerful enough to alter your metabolism?

In a recent study conducted by Northwestern University, 19 adults were exposed to bright, blue-enriched light for three hours each in the morning and in the evening over a four-day period. Hunger, metabolic function and physiological arousal were tracked and the results were compared against the results for exposure to dim light.

All participants were exposed to dim light in their waking hours over the first two days. On the third day, half of the participants were exposed to bright light in the morning while the other half were exposed to bright light in the evening.

What the researchers found was that bright light in both the morning and evening hours increased insulin resistance — the body’s inability to move glucose out of the bloodstream to use for energy. Insulin resistance can cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes.

The researchers also found that when the participants were exposed to bright light in the evening, higher peak glucose (blood sugar) levels were detected. And in a related study conducted previously by Northwestern researchers, they had found that people who were exposed to the majority of their light before midday weighed less than people who were exposed to the majority of their light after midday.

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This is the first time these results have been seen in humans, although researchers at this point can’t say why light exposure has the impact it does on our bodies. Previous studies conducted on mice that were exposed to light over a consistent period of time showed higher glucose levels and weight gain compared to mice in a control group.

These findings suggest that the amount of light, and what time of day we’re exposed to it, has a direct impact on our health. This would certainly include all the light we surround ourselves with these days that come from our electronic devices — from smartphones and tablets to television monitors and laptops. If you spend all evening around glowing screens, which we already know is bad for your body’s internal sleep clock, it could very well be partially to blame for why you may be having trouble shedding those few extra pounds.

The good news about this and future related research is that we may be able to find out more about how we might be able to use light to manipulate metabolic function. But for now, it’s probably safe to say that altering your morning and evening routines so that exposing yourself to light earlier in the day will be far better for your overall health than exposing yourself to much of it later on in the day.

Findings like these serve as just another good and healthy excuse to ditch the devices in the evening hours and do something a little more productive, enjoyable or just plain relaxing. Your mind and body deserve it.


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One in Three American Adults Not Getting Enough Sleep: CDC

ATLANTA | BY RICH MCKAY

Did you get enough sleep last night? If not, you are not alone.

More than one out of three American adults do not get enough sleep, according to a study released Thursday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That’s a big problem” says, Dr. Nancy Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who is familiar with the study.
“You don’t function as well, your ability to pay attention is reduced, and it can have serious, long term side effects. It can change your metabolism for the worse.”

At least seven hours of sleep is considered healthy for an adults aged 18 to 60, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

CDC analyzed data from a 2014 survey of 444,306 adults and found 65.2 percent of respondents reported getting that amount of sleep.

“Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, director of the CDC’s Division of Population Health, in a statement.

sleep

Getting less than seven hours a night is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and frequent mental distress, the study shows.

Conducted by the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the study is the first of its kind to look at all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The study found that among those most likely to get great sleep were married or have a job, with 67 percent and 65 percent respectively saying they get enough. Only 56 percent of divorced adults said they get enough sleep, and just over half of jobless adults sleep seven hours a night regularly.

Among the best sleepers were college graduates, with 72 percent reporting seven hours or more.

The study found geographical differences as well as ethnic disparities. Hawaiian residents get less sleep than those living in South Dakota, the study found. Non-Hispanic whites sleep better than non-Hispanic black residents, with 67 and 54 percent respectively.

(Editing by Karen Brooks and Cynthia Osterman)


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5 Foods To Rev Up Your Metabolism

The problem with many diets is that they focus on what you shouldn’t have instead of on what you should have!

“I felt like they were telling me everything I couldn’t have, which left me completely deprived,” my friend confessed, recalling a particular diet she’d adamantly adhered to until finally she got frustrated with all those restrictions.

Instead, think about it this way: before you dump sugary, highly reactive foods that stall fat loss and leave you feeling lousy, fuel up on healthy, crave-busters that edge out bad foods and keep you from feeling hungry and reaching for the junk.

You know, the usual appetite-curbing add-ons like lean protein, fiber-rich veggies, and green tea. these work great. But I’ve also picked up some unique, off-the-beaten-path ones that rev up your metabolism so you blast more fat. Best of all, they taste good and become easy to incorporate into your diet.

Add these five things to your diet and see if they don’t become your needle movers for easy, lasting fat loss:

1. Lemon Juice

You may have heard of having hot water with lemon in the morning to support good digestion. I did this when I lived in Japan years ago.

Turns out, a few tablespoons of lemon juice just before or during a meal may also help lower your blood sugar response from that meal. You might also have a glass of sparkling water with lemon juice during your meal or squeeze on some lemon onto your salad or your fish.

2. Cinnamon

What’s not to love about this delicious spice that helps balance blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity?

cinnamon

Cinnamon also tastes so darn good and helps curb your sweet tooth.

3. Kefir

Speaking of a sweet tooth kefir, or other sour cultured foods, can help zap sugar cravings. The sour taste of cultured or fermented foods kills your sweet tooth and feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

Too much bad gut flora means you can extract more calories from the foods you eat and store them as fat. Not cool! My favorite kefir is made form coconut water (this is available in many health food stores). You can also shop online for culture starter kits to make your own!

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne can help you burn more calories and curb hunger. You can also get the same effect with some hot sauce or hot peppers.

One of my favorite snacks is blending non-dairy, non-soy, plant-based or defatted beef chocolate protein powder with avocado, coconut milk, and a quarter-teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can always increase the amount of cayenne per your personal taste, but a little goes a long way). Cayenne can really provide that get-up-and-go morning kick!

5. Coconut Oil & Coconut Milk

Coconut oil and milk remain kitchen staples for everything from cooking to shakes. Both the oil and milk are antiviral and antibacterial, making them perfect to keep that good balance of good bacterial in your gut.


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7 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism

SpryLiving.com    November 21, 2014

You hit the gym five days a week. You eat all the veggies you can get your hands on. You religiously avoid all white carbs. But in spite of your good intentions, the number on the scale refuses to budge. WTF?!! If this scenario sounds familiar, your metabolism might be to blame. Before you start thinking you’ve been screwed in the genetic lottery, take a deep breath. It’s okay. You can fix this.

First thing’s first. What is metabolism, exactly? After all, it’s a word we hear tossed around a lot in the health world. Your skinny friend who lives solely off junk food credits her thin frame to “a fast metabolism,” but what does that even mean? Is the concept of a fast metabolism scientifically legit, or is it a load of B.S.?

From a purely technical standpoint, metabolism refers to the “chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.” Metabolism is often expressed in terms of “basal metabolic rate” (BMR), the amount of calories expended per day in order to sustain basic life functions—you know, breathing, pooping, heartbeat, all that fun stuff. The faster your BMR, the more calories you burn at rest and the less fat you store.

Metabolism is primarily influenced by three factors: Your age (metabolism slows about 5% per decade after age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and lean muscle mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be). The bad news is that some of these things—like our age and gender—are simply out of our control. The good news? By making a few lifestyle tweaks, it is possible to boost a sluggish metabolism. Here are some ways to help bring your metabolism up to speed.

The best way to rev up your metabolism, hands down, is to put on slabs of lean muscle mass. Here’s why: Muscle has a faster metabolic rate than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest—meaning you’ll scorch more calories even while bumming around on the couch. Every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories daily. That’s just another reason to listen to your instructor when they tell you to grab heavier weights!

Eat more protein.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get on board with lean grilled chicken breast. Protein has a high thermic effect, which means your body burns more calories to digest it. In fact, one study found that high protein diets boosted metabolism by as much as 40%; by contrast, fats and carbs have a much lower thermic effect. Try to eat a lean protein at every meal.

diet

Get more sleep.

We know, we know—you can sleep when you’re dead, right? But skimping on sleep can mess with your circadian rhythm, predisposing you to metabolic disturbances like weight gain and even diabetes. Additionally, inadequate sleep is associated with higher levels of ghrelin, a hunger-inducing hormone, which means that sleep-deprived individuals may be more likely to overeat. As a general rule, aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Metabolism is primarily influenced by three factors: Your age (metabolism slows about 5% per decade after age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and lean muscle mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be). The bad news is that some of these things—like our age and gender—are simply out of our control. The good news? By making a few lifestyle tweaks, it is possible to boost a sluggish metabolism. Here are some ways to help bring your metabolism up to speed.

Sip green tea.

Touted for its waist-whittling effects, this miracle brew contains a compound called EGCG that is thought to fire up metabolism and encourage the body to burn fat. Studies have linked green tea with raising metabolic rates and speeding up fat oxidation in overweight individuals. If green tea isn’t your cup of tea (literally), supplements will do the trick.

Don’t skip meals.

Fasting or skipping meals may seem like a quick fix for dropping unwanted pounds, but this tactic will only backfire. When you eat, your metabolism goes into overdrive to break down the food into smaller, digestible parts. On the flipside, when you don’t eat for extended periods of time, your metabolism begins to slow down. When you finally do eat something, your metabolism responds sluggishly and doesn’t process the food as efficiently as before, resulting in greater fat storage. To keep metabolism fully charged, try to eat a balanced meal or healthy snack every 3-4 hours.

Eat breakfast.

Skipping breakfast is the ultimate nutritional no-no, a bad habit that squashes your metabolism and sets you up for weight gain. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who cut out breakfast were 4.5 times almost more likely to be obese. Too busy for a bite to eat? Try one of these 5-Minute Breakfast ideas.

Drink more H20.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking water—about 17 ounces—increases metabolic rate by 30 percent in healthy men and women. The body needs water in order to process calories, so even if you’re mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may wind down. Even on non-training days, you should aim to drink a minimum of 2 or 3 liters of water a day; on days you do workout, amp up that amount depending on the intensity of your activity.

Turn up the heat.

With spice, that is. Capsaicin, the substance that gives red chili peppers their trademark oomph, may increase metabolism temporarily by up to 23 percent, and in other studies the hot pepper was found to regulate appetite. To reap the fat-burning effects of capsaicin, try spicing foods with cayenne pepper or chili flakes.

by Anna Dickens, from SpryLiving


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9 Factors Affecting Your Metabolism

a Care2 favorite by Megan, selected from Experience Life

In spite of all the information and all the prescriptions offered by modern diets, American people just keep getting fatter. In my mind, this suggests that our knowledge about metabolism is missing something — perhaps some of the old wisdom that kept hundreds of generations of people slender and strong. Of course, having access to modern scientific knowledge is enormously helpful too. The key lies in integrating these two bodies of wisdom, and then applying them to get a better understanding of our entire physiological landscape.

Diet and Nutrition

Food supplies us with nutrients that are critical for healthy metabolism, and for health in general. Vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids and probiotics are all essential nutrients, many of which cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be ingested from an outside source. Missing even one essential nutrient from your diet could have a devastating effect on your metabolism and overall health, so it’s important to understand how they work.

Minerals

Minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc) are critical for all tissue structures, including bones, skin and hair. They also play vital roles as electrolytes, which regulate the body’s electrical charge. That electrical charge is necessary for all cellular metabolic functions, but especially for the assimilation of nutrients and the elimination of toxins.

Proper mineral balance helps moderate our body’s sodium levels, preventing water-retention, inflammations and bloating. It also maintains our body’s proper acid/alkaline balance (overacidity leads to sluggish metabolism and makes the body more vulnerable to infection and disease). Minerals even help protect the body from radioactive toxins.

Because mineral deficiencies are related to serious metabolic problems (with symptoms such as indigestion, headaches, nervousness, depression, exhaustion and impotence), it is wise to eat plenty of mineral-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables grown in mineral-rich soil, as well as seafood and especially sea vegetables.

Proteins

Proteins — and the essential amino acids they contain — are the body’s chief building material. Adequate protein is absolutely necessary for healthy metabolism. However, to be useful, it must be properly digested and assimilated by the body (we’ll address this point in more detail later).

Good sources of complete protein (protein that includes all nine essential amino acids) are animal foods such as chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, fish and seafood. Soy is an alternative for those who wish to minimize their meat and dairy intake, but carefully combining foods is an equally good alternative. In times of short meat supply, ancient people traditionally used the combination of grain and legumes (such as rice and beans) to produce a complete-protein meal. All through the Roman Empire, in fact, beans were considered to be the “poor man’s meat” and were also the gladiators’ main food.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)

Essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) are vital for all bodily functions, and particularly important as building blocks for prostaglandins (hormones that regulate blood pressure, control inflammation and pain and support energy production, including fat burning).

EFA deficiency may cause insulin insensitivity, which negatively affects the conversion of carbohydrates into energy. Many nutritionists recommend eating fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) as a natural source of EFAs. However, that recommendation tends to ignore the fact that most cooking methods (including frying, poaching and baking) destroy most or all of the fish’s sensitive oils.

Taking supplemental EFA oils (such as flaxseed and primrose) is therefore highly recommended.

Probiotics

Probiotics, such as lactobacilli, are the friendly flora (i.e., bacteria) that live in your intestines. They assist with digestion and, at the same time, inhibit all sorts of dangerous, unfriendly organisms that would otherwise take over your digestive tract.

Probiotics help digest proteins. They also neutralize toxins in the colon. When protein isn’t fully digested, it may reach the colon and bloodstream in a toxic form. When that happens, metabolism is compromised. Allergic reactions, irritable bowel symptoms and other pathological complications can result.

Naturally fermented foods (such as yogurts with acidophilus) are a good source of friendly bacteria. Probiotic supplements are another option.

Yogurt

Enzymes

Enzymes are involved in all metabolic processes. These protein compounds work as catalysts to break down foods into nutrients that can then be assimilated or converted into energy. They also work systematically as mediators and catalysts to other hormonal, glandular and sexual functions.

In the presence of adequate and balanced nutrition, the body produces its own enzymes. However, enzyme deficiencies often occur, most often as a result of too much processed and cooked food and too little live, raw food present in the diet.

Some enzyme deficiencies are also related to aging. The older you get, the fewer enzymes your body produces. Conversely, there is some evidence that supporting your body with enzymes may actually help slow the aging process.

In the blood, enzymes work as antioxidants and also as anti-inflammatory agents. Some believe that protease enzymes (enzymes that digest protein) have anti-cancerous properties. Studies show that lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fat) may help accelerate fat burning.

There is a rule of nature that raw foods contain all enzymes necessary for their own digestion. Therefore, natural sources of the fat-burning enzyme lipase can be found in high-fat raw foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Those who want to maximize their enzyme intake can also take plant-enzyme supplements.

Vitamins

“Vita,” in Latin, means life. Vitamins, as the root word implies, are life carriers. They are involved in all metabolic processes, including energy production and assimilation of nutrients for the regeneration of tissues. One of the main functions of vitamins is to protect the body from harmful free radicals and toxins that are the natural byproducts of metabolism.

Vitamins and minerals work together synergistically in a precise biological balance. Vitamin deficiencies or imbalances may force the body to compromise all metabolic processes. Vitamin deficiencies also leave the body vulnerable to the damage of free radicals, which can in turn lead to tissue breakdown, disease and aging.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients, including chlorophyll, polysaccharides, sterols, saponins and lactones, are part of a huge variety of plant compounds that actively support certain metabolic processes. There are thousands of known phytochemicals, and a great deal of current research on the potential uses of these natural substances for medical purposes.

Herbs, a rich source of phytonutrients, have been used for thousands of years as metabolic enhancers and as tonics to help people recover from disease. While it would take pages to even begin to address the different functions of common herbs, let me briefly mention just a few things. Certain herbs, such as panax or Siberian ginseng, may help balance metabolic disorders and help alleviate stress-related and sexual problems. Other herbs, such as ephedra, have traditionally served as energy enhancers and fat burners.

Coffee and black tea are the most popular stimulant substances in the world. Green tea is a milder stimulant, but it contains highly potent antioxidants (polyphenols).

Before using any herbs, do your own research on processing, potency, standardization and possible side effects.

Fiber

Fiber plays a critical role in digestion, elimination and energy production. Besides helping detoxify the body through elimination of waste and toxins, fiber influences certain metabolic processes, including the conversion of carbohydrates and fats to energy. In short, fiber slows the absorption of simple sugars, thereby helping to stabilize blood sugar, regulate insulin activity and supply a steady stream of energy to the body. Certain fibers (such as mucilage and pectin) work like sponges, pulling toxins and fat away from the body so they can be more quickly eliminated as waste. For people who don’t know when to stop eating, fibrous foods can also be helpful in triggering a full, satiated feeling.

Although fiber cereals and supplements are a good way to enhance your fiber intake, consider whole foods your first line of defense. Our bodies are built to metabolize whole foods, which are naturally rich in fiber and essential nutrients. Serious metabolic problems, including excessive fat gain, are often the result of chronic consumption of over-processed, refined food. Diets deficient in fiber and minerals make people crave for the missing nutrients, which leads to a near-constant sense of hunger, and sometimes to compulsive binging.

Exercise

Exercise is the most effective method for instantly boosting metabolism. Combining exercise and proper diet naturally leads to maximum metabolic efficiency.

Both are absolutely essential. That said, I believe that diet should be your No. 1 priority. Here’s why: Both your ability to exercise and your exercise results will naturally accelerate in the presence of proper nutrition. Without proper diet, you won’t be able to effectively access energy stores, nor will you be able replace nutrients lost during exercise. When that happens, metabolism declines.

Naturally, genetics are a key factor. But so is metabolism, and metabolism is inherently dependent on how you treat your body. If you attempt to exercise intensively without supporting your body’s nutritional needs, you won’t get very far.

If you want to live in a young, vigorous, lean body, just give your body what it needs in order to reach a peak metabolic state: Eat well, exercise intensely, get enough rest. Most importantly, get to know your body from the inside out. Enjoy its power, respect its complexity, and it will repay you richly.