Thursday, September 30, 2010

Working mums suffer most stress

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Increasingly hectic work schedules are wreaking havoc with most people's lives these days, but a new study revealed that working mothers and full time working- women are affected the most.

The study by the Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia, found working women were the most unhappy. They also found that males aged 29-49 (Gen X) worked the longest hours and had the worst work-life balance.

The value of time-off has increased so much that workers would rather have an extra two weeks of holiday than an equivalent pay rise, but about 60 per cent of workers stockpile holidays because they are on short-term contracts, lacked security or were under pressure at work, reports theCourier Mail.

"Indeed, the situation of full-time women has deteriorated, with a 10 per cent increase between 2007 and 2010 in the proportion who find that work interferes with activities outside work," the study showed.

About 25 per cent of women working full-time and 20 per cent of men were dissatisfied with their work-life balance in 2010.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheat guide for those on diet!

Source: http://www.mumbaimirror.com

The experts agree that it’s important to go easy on your diet plan about once a week. Nutritionists say that those who allow themselves that ‘weekly treat’ are less likely to go on a bingeing spree. That’s because your cravings are satisfied. Also, being on a diet for several months may put your body in ‘starvation mode’. So increasing your calorie intake and biting into foods that you’ve been restricting for long can speed up your metabolism and make you look leaner. While cheating has its own benefits, do remember that the key lies in moderation.

Here's how you cheat smart:
- Pick a weekday: You are less likely to go overboard when you’re busy at work. And as opposed to cheating the entire day, pick one meal when you allow yourself a treat.
- Exercise discretion: Whatever you choose to gorge on, make sure you feel like you’ve given yourself something special, as those feel-good bites will go a long way in keeping you on track throughout the week.
- No back-to-back: You are not allowed to pick two cheat meals together, even if you promise not to cheat for the next two weeks. Its impact lies in the psychological satisfaction of cravings. Therefore, this method, no matter how valid you may think it is, just won’t work.
- Go public: Call off that illicit affair between you and crispy French fries. When you cheat in public, you cheat in moderation.
- Eat before you cheat: If you cheat on an empty stomach, you’ll stuff yourself silly. Instead, eat food that’s high on fibre just before you give yourself that weekly treat.
- Don’t stock up: Don’t fall for those ‘Buy one, get one free’ offers. When you cheat, buy single servings.
- Do your math: A single super-high calorie binge, loaded with fat and sugar will easily set you back by several days.
Instead follow our cheat guide that will bring you your favourite meal with just a slight change!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Veggie of the Week: Watermelon (yes, its not really a fruit!!)

People can't seem to get enough of the sweet treat, and nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits watermelon provides. Recently research has shed new light on its potential health benefits. Watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risks of cancer and other diseases.

Watermelon, the fruit that is really a Vegetable. Watermelon can be traced back to Africa and is part of the cucumber and squash family. It is perhaps the most refreshing, thirst quenching fruit of all. Watermelon consists of 92% water and 8% sugar, so it is aptly named. There are more than 50 varieties of watermelon. Most have red flesh, but there are orange and yellow-fleshed varieties.

Watermelons are available all year. The natural sweetness of watermelon makes it a favorite anytime of the year.

Selecting
Choose firm, symmetrical, fruit free of cracks, bruises, soft spots or mold. Ripe watermelon will have a healthy sheen, a dull rind, dried stem, and a buttery yellow underside where it touched the ground. There should be a melon like smell or fragrance. Thump if you must, sound should be dull and hollow. Lift them, weight should be heavy for size. Avoid watermelons that are very hard, white or very pale green in color on the underside, indicating immaturity. An immature watermelon will be slightly acidic.

Storing
Once picked, watermelon will not ripen easily. If unripe, try putting the whole melon in paper bag un-refrigerated. This sometimes works to ripen them. Watermelons can be kept for short periods of time, up to 2 weeks, uncut at room temperature. Wash watermelon with soap and water before cutting. Once cut, package what is not eaten in closed plastic containers or bags and put back in the refrigerator.

Health benefits of watermelon:
- Prostate cancer: Watermelons contain lycopene, the pigment that gives them their red color on the inside. Some studies have suggested consuming plenty of lycopene actually can lower the chances of a person contracting prostate cancer.
- Immune system: Watermelon also contains an amino acid known as citrulline, which the body can metabolize into an amino acid called arginine. Arginine helps to build up nitric oxide in the body. And nitric oxide helps to boost the body’s immune system. Watermelon also has it’s fair share of Vitamin C, which also works to boost the immune system.
- Impotence: Arginine is also good for relaxing blood flow. Studies have shown that arginine can actually help to improve upon impotence in men.
- Sight: Vitamin A is good for healthy eyesight and improving eyesight. An watermelon contains lots of Vitamin A.
- Heart disease: Those amino acids in watermelon not only relax the blood flowing through the veins, but they also help to maintain the strength of the arteries. That lycopene mentioned above also works as an anti-oxidant in the bloodstream, working to defeat damaging cells.
- Blood pressure: Potassium is important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, in part because the potassium combats sodium in the body. Sodium tends to hold fluid in the body, which is not a good thing for those with high blood pressure and possibly heart disease. Watermelon has plenty of potassium, thus making it a great natural food for cleaning sodium out of the body and helping with blood pressure.
- Losing weight: Watermelons contain no fat and are low in calories. That, combined with all the vitamins in watermelon, make this fruit an excellent choice in the battle of the bulge.
- Teeth and gums: The Vitamin C in watermelon helps to strengthen and actually clean to a small extent your teeth and gums.
- Energy: Feeling a little tired? If so, skip the caffeinated drinks. Watermelon is what you want. Watermelon has loads of B Vitamins, and B Vitamins work to boost the body’s energy levels.
- Kidney stones: Potassium was mentioned above for helping blood pressure. But potassium is also good at helping the body to prevent kidney stones from occurring.

Sources: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, http://healthmad.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Heart-Healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent Heart Disease - Part 2


We covered three out of eight strategies to kick-start your way toward a heart-healthy diet, posting the rest in the concluding part of the two-part post.

4. Select whole grains
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.

Another easy way to add whole grains to your diet is ground flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce or hot cereal.

5. Reduce the salt in your food
Eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing the salt in your food is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about a teaspoon).

Although reducing the amount of salt you add to food at the table or while cooking is a good first step, much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can reduce the amount of salt you eat. If you like the convenience of canned soups and prepared meals, look for ones with reduced sodium.

6. Control your portion size
In addition to knowing which foods to eat, you'll also need to know how much you should eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories, fat and cholesterol than you should. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs. Keep track of the number of servings you eat — and use proper serving sizes — to help control your portions.

7. Plan ahead: Create daily menus
You know what foods to feature in your heart-healthy diet and which ones to limit. Now it's time to put your plans into action.

Create daily menus using the six strategies listed above. When selecting foods for each meal and snack, emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and limit high-fat and salty foods. Watch your portion sizes and add variety to your menu choices. For example, if you have grilled salmon one evening, try a black bean burger the next night. This helps ensure that you'll get all of the nutrients your body needs. Variety also makes your meals and snacks more interesting.

8. Allow yourself an occasional treat
Allow yourself an indulgence every now and then. A candy bar or handful of potato chips won't derail your heart-healthy diet. But don't let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your healthy-eating plan. If overindulgence is the exception, rather than the rule, you'll balance things out over the long term. What's important is that you eat healthy foods most of the time.

Incorporate these eight tips into your life, and you'll continue to find that heart-healthy eating is both doable and enjoyable. With planning and a few simple substitutions, you can eat with your heart in mind.

Heart-Healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent Heart Disease - Part 1

Source: www.mayoclinic.com

Changing your eating habits can be tough. Start with eight strategies (given in this two-part post) to kick-start your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

Although you might know eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it's often tough to change your eating habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, we have eight heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you'll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet. So lets start with the first three today :)

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol
Of the possible changes, limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is the most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat. You can also use low-fat substitutions when possible for a heart-healthy diet. For example, top your baked potato with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine.

You may also want to check the food labels of some cookies, crackers and chips. Many of these snacks — even those labeled "reduced fat" — may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat in it is the phrase "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list.

When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.

2. Choose low-fat protein sources
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and egg whites or egg substitutes are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.

Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are heart healthy because they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You'll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.

Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Substituting soy protein for animal protein — for example, a soy burger for a hamburger — will reduce your fat and cholesterol intake.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals; they are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits also contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.

Featuring vegetables and fruits in your diet can be easy. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you'll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredient, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.

Get started with these 3 tips and watch out for more tips in tomorrow's post :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

9 Heart Healthy Exercise Tips!

Source: http://www.heart.com

Activities as Exercise Can Help Your Heart. According to Jennifer Mieres, M.D., American Heart Association (AHA), "to get heart-healthy benefits, you need to get your heart rate up" there are dozens of activities you can do to help your heart. Whether it is a structured exercise program or just part of your daily routine, all physical activity adds up. It’s easy to follow these exercise tips at home, at work, and at play to increase the amount of physical activity in your life.

Tips to help you start a heart healthy exercise plan:
1 - Aerobic exercises done 30 minutes a day is excellent for increasing your heart rate. Climbing the stairs, a brisk walk, orbital exercise machine or treadmill, anything to get your heart rate up. Wii has several fun games such as Wii Sports or Wii Fit Step Aerobics – and its great exercise you can do with your kids. Make it a family affair
2 - Any moderate-intensity exercise like swimming, jogging, Pilates and yoga is good. Exercising your heart muscle means exercising your body. You don’t need a gym, just a bit of motivation and a good pair of walking shoes.
3 - If you “don’t have time” then fit shorter but more frequent periods of time, like 5-10 minutes several times a day throughout your day. Take the stairs, park your car further away from the door, and definitely count in those house chores such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming, or a short brisk walk around the block at lunch or for a break.
4 - If you already do a vigorous aerobic routine or enrolled in an exercise class, then three days a week for 20 minutes a day is good.
5 - For adults that are 65 and older or anyone with chronic conditions or limited mobility, you need the same amount of exercise as younger people – the activity can be less intense. Use good judgment and follow your doctor’s advice. See tip #1 and plan to gradually increase activities.
6 - Strength training is a great complement to aerobic training and helps to prevent age-related bone and muscle-mass losses. Keep in mind that strength training doesn't’t increase heart rate but does increase stamina. Use it to target areas where muscle-tone is needed and don’t forget the other muscle groups.
7 - With any plan, start strength training slowly and build up to heavier weights and repetitions especially if you are new or out of shape. The old adage "no pain, no gain" is more often inappropriate and can be dangerous.
8 - Practice balance exercises to help prevent falls and injuries. Balance techniques are used frequently as exercises in yoga or more simple forms of balancing exercises such as walking heal-to-toe, standing on one foot, or standing up and sitting down without using your hands.
9 - Stretching exercises done twice a week helps keep flexibility, which is very important. Consider 10 minutes of stretching twice a week to improve your flexibility

With any exercise program, it’s good to start slowly by warming up, then increasing the pace. A good cooling down afterwards is also equally important. With any new exercise plan, check with your doctor if you are at risk and follow the advice of qualified professionals.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vegetable of the Week: Garlic


Sources: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, http://healthmad.com

For years garlic has been the topic of much folklore. Garlic has been used for numerous things including embalming, warding off evil spirits, and curing everything from the common cold to tuberculosis and broken bones.

Even in modern times, garlic is still being promoted as a health food with medicinal properties. Garlic is very popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean countries, India and China. It is characterized by it’s strong flavor and smell, stemming from its sulfur compounds. It makes a great flavoring agent for a variety of dishes.
Availability, Selection, and Storage
Garlic is available year-round frozen or fresh. When buying fresh garlic, choose from plump, dry heads that feel firm. Avoid soft, mushy or shriveled cloves. Garlic should be stored in a cool, dark place (though not a refrigerator) and can be kept for several weeks.

Preparation
For a stronger flavor, used chopped, crushed, pressed or pureed garlic in dishes. The more finely garlic is chopped, the stronger its flavor will be. Cooking garlic decreases the strength of its flavor making it much milder. The longer it is cooked, the more mild it tastes.

To remove garlic odor from hands, use salt or lemon juice and than wash your hands with soap.

Garlic has so many benefits, it almost seems to be nature’s wonder drug. It works best, for health purposes, when served raw because cooking destroys many of the natural benefits.
- Heart disease: Garlic is a superb natural supplement to your diet for combating heart disease. Not only does garlic work to lower bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, but garlic also helps protect the aorta in the heart by slowing the aging process of the aorta. Basically, garlic has natural anti-clotting and blood thinning properties.
- Infections: Natural, raw garlic works as an antibiotic. It can even kill some harmful bacteria, including that from staph infections, that are resistant to modern medical antibiotics.
- Allergies: Take at least one garlic pill a day, or eat a tea spoon of garlic a day, to help ward off allergies, especially allergies caused by changes in weather. It’s the antiviral properties of garlic that help with this.
- Tooth aches: Sore tooth? Rub some garlic oil on it. Or place a crushed garlic clove on the tooth and around the gums. Give it a few minutes. The pain should begin to ease.
- Cold sores: Crush a clove of garlic into a glass of slightly warm water and drink it twice a day. The anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits of garlic can help to lessen the effects of and help to defeat cold sores and other forms of herpes.
- Cancer: Studies have shown that regularly partaking of garlic helps to lessen carcinogenic compounds in the body, especially helping to prevent stomach, colon and esophagus cancer.
- Food poisoning: Garlic is loaded with an anti-bacterial chemical called allicin (which also causes garlic’s unique smell). Allicin is a great natural compound for fighting bacteria, which includes bad bacteria that can build up in the stomach due to food poisoning.
- Common cold: Garlic helps to kill viruses in your body, especially cold viruses and other harmful bacteria when the garlic is eaten raw.
- Impotence: Garlic helps with blood circulation, and it also stimulates the male body to create a nitric oxide synthase enzyme, an enzyme needed for males to reach an erection.
- Low-weight birth: Studies done in Great Britain have shown that garlic taken by pregnant women helps the unborn to gain weight.

So many reasons to season your meals with this natural wonder!

Health P.O. celebrate's World Heart Day on 26th September 2010. To join us, do follow Health P.O. all week with posts for a Healthy Heart!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Tips for creating your personal 'Stop Smoking Plan'

Source: http://www.helpguide.org

Designing your personal game plan
Tailoring a personal game plan to your specific needs and desires can be a big help. A good place to start is thinking about why you want to quit and then writing down all your reasons. Some of your choices include: quitting smoking cold turkey, systematically decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke, reducing your intake of nicotine gradually over time, using nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms, utilizing nicotine support groups, trying hypnosis, acupuncture, or counseling using cognitive behavioral techniques.

Questions to ask yourself
To successfully detach from smoking, you will need to identify and address your smoking habits, the true nature of your dependency, and the techniques that work for you. These types of questions can help:
- Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
- Are you more of a social smoker?
- Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
- Is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions?
- Are you open to hypnosis therapy and acupuncture?
- Are you someone who is open to talking about your addiction?
- Are you interested in getting into a fitness program?

Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.

Stop smoking plan (START)
S = Set a quit date.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.
T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Make this the week you quit smoking for good! Shed the chains of addiction and take back your life.
You are worth it!

For more info you can also see the Surgeon General’s Tobacco Cessation Help Pages

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The best time to work out!

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Is it better to exercise in the morning, or later in the day?

Let your circadian rhythms be your guide. In the afternoon or early evening, your core temperature is warmer. A warm core makes your muscles and joints more supple, which helps you avoid strains and sprains. That makes afternoon or early evening ideal for exercises that tap your muscles, like strength training, stretching, and interval workouts.

Mornings are good too!
On the other hand, if endurance activities are more your type —long brisk walks or bike rides — morning may be better. Your body's core is cooler early in the day, which can make endurance activities seem less tiring. And there is less risk of overheating. But a good warm-up will be key, since your muscles are likely to be stiffer in the mornings.

No-Sweat Scheduling
Tune up your muscles, lungs, and heart with these well-timed workouts:
Mornings: Get energised. Walk your way to a slimmer you — in your own home!
After-noons: Muscle up your midday. It can be quick and easy. Then, get flexible with a chi-gong exercise.
Evenings: Stretch yourself to sleep. It really helps.

Happy working out! :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Relaxation techniques: Essential for reducing stress

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Relaxation techniques are an essential part of your quest for stress management. Relaxation isn't just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the wear and tear on your mind and body from the challenges and hassles of daily life.

Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving concentration
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems

Types of relaxation techniques
Health professionals such as complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, doctors and psychotherapists can teach various relaxation techniques. But if you prefer, you also can learn some relaxation techniques on your own.

There are several main types of relaxation techniques, including:
Autogenic relaxation: Autogenic means something that comes from within you. In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind to help you relax and reduce muscle tension. You may imagine a peaceful place and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate, or feeling different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm or leg one by one.

Progressive muscle relaxation: In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. This helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. You become more aware of physical sensations. One method is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.

Visualization: In this relaxation technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. During visualization, try to use as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound and touch. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about such things as the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body. You may want to close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot and loosen any tight clothing.

Other common relaxation techniques include Yoga, Tai chi, Listening to music, Exercise, Meditation, Hypnosis, Massage, etc.

Relaxation techniques take practice
As you learn relaxation techniques, you'll become more aware of muscle tension and other physical sensations of stress. Once you know what the stress response feels like, you can make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique the moment you start to feel stress symptoms. This can prevent stress from spiraling out of control.

Remember that relaxation techniques are skills. And as with any skill, your ability to relax improves with practice. Be patient with yourself — don't let your effort to practice relaxation techniques become yet another stressor.

Also, bear in mind that some people, especially those with serious psychological issues and a history of abuse, may experience feelings of emotional discomfort during some relaxation techniques. Although this is rare, if you experience emotional discomfort during relaxation techniques, stop what you're doing and consider talking to your health care professional or mental health provider.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Walking helps keep body and brain young

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com

Everyone knows that walking limbers the aging body, but did you know it keeps the mind supple as well?

Research shows that walking can actually boost the connectivity within brain circuits, which tends to diminish as the grey hairs multiply. "Patterns of connectivity decrease as we get older," said Dr Arthur F Kramer, who led the study team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Networks aren't as well connected to support the things we do, such as driving," he said. "But we found as a function of aerobic fitness, the networks became more coherent."

Kramer's walking study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, tracked 70 adults from 60 to 80 years old over the course of a year. A toning, stretching, strengthening group served as a control against which to evaluate the previously sedentary walkers. "Individuals in the walking group, the aerobics training group, got by far the largest benefits," he said, and not just physically.

"We also measured brain function," said Kramer, whose team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain networks. A group of 20-to-30-year olds were tested for comparison. "The aerobic group also improved in memory, attention and a variety of other cognitive processes," Kramer said.

"As the older people in the walking group became more fit, the coherence among different regions in the networks increased and became similar to those of the 20-year olds," Kramer explained.

But the results did not happen overnight. Effects in the walking group were observed only after they trained for 12 months. Six-month tests yielded no significant trends.

The findings come as no surprise to Dr Lynn Millar, an expert with the American College of Sports Medicine. She said while walking might seem like a simple activity, the brain is actually working to integrate information from many different sources. "When we walk we integrate visual input, auditory input, as well as input that's coming from joints and muscles regarding where the foot is, how much force, and things like that," said Millar, a professor of Physical Therapy at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

"It's that old concept: if you don't use it you lose it," she said. "In order for something to be beneficial we need to do it repetitively, and walking is a repetitive activity."

Millar, author of "Action Plan for Arthritis," said while some changes are inevitable with age, they don't have to happen as quickly as they do in some people. "We know reaction time gets slower as we age, but activity is a big modifier," she said, "so if we do trip we'll be able to get that leg out and catch ourselves."

Kramer, who also works with the military and people with disabilities, continues to work on mediating the negative effects of ageing with lifestyle choices. "We're interested in understanding brain plasticity but we're also interested in doing something about it," he said. "We can wait for that wonder drug or we can do something today."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vegetable of the Week: Carrot!

Sources: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, http://healthmad.com

Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyesight, skin, growth, and also aids our bodies in resisting infection. Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables with the exception of beets. This is why they make a wonderful snack when eaten raw and make a tasty addition to a variety of cooked dishes.

Varieties
There are many varieties of carrots, but the variety typically found in supermarkets is from 7–9 inches in length and 3/4–1-1/2 inches in diameter.

Selection
Carrots are available and in season all year long. Look for well shaped carrots. Pick carrots that are deep orange in color. More beta carotene is present in carrots that have a darker orange color. Avoid carrots that are crackled, shriveled, soft, or wilted.

Storage
Carrots are best stored between 32–50 degrees in the crisper section of the refrigerator. If you buy carrots with the green tops still on, break off the tops and rinse, place in a plastic bag and store as described above. Storing them in the refrigerator will preserve their flavor, texture, and the beta carotene content. Do not store them with fruits. Fruits
produce ethylene gas as they ripen. This gas will decrease the storage life of the carrots as well as other vegetables. This is why it is best to store fruits and vegetables separately.

Preparation
Although carrots lose some of their vitamins when peeled, dishes prepared with peeled carrots taste fresher and better. Cook carrots in a small amount of water until they are tender, or save time and cook them in the microwave. Season with dill, tarragon, ginger, honey, brown sugar, parsley, lemon or orange juice.

Carrots offer plenty of goodness for our well being, here are 10 reason why we should make carrots a part of our regular diet:
- Vision: All that Vitamin A in carrots in known for helping with eyesight. What carrots, and Vitamin A, can best help with concerning vision is difficult vision at night. Also, studies show carrots help to reduce the chances of cataracts.
- Obesity: Carrots contain plenty of fiber, which helps the bowels to work better and aids in passing food through the body. Less food, less weight. Simple.
- Lower cholesterol: Carrots also contain a good quantity of soluble fiber calcium pectate, which binds with bile acids in the body to draw cholesterol out of the blood stream. This cholesterol then passes out of the body.
- High blood pressure: Sodium is a bad thing when it comes to high blood pressure. And Potassium is good for combating sodium. The potassium in carrots helps to level out the sodium in the body, and the fiber in the carrots helps to pass some of that sodium on out of the body. Thus, carrots help with high blood pressure.
- Clean teeth: Minerals in carrots help to kill germs in the mouth and to clean away tooth decay. So, if you can’t brush, at least chomp into a carrot.
- Anti-oxidant: Carrots contain tons of beta-carotene, which works as an anti-oxidant that helps the body to combat cell damage done to the body by impurities in the bloodstream and the like such as chemicals or even oxygen.
- Diarrhea: All that fiber in carrots can also help to ease a trouble digestive system, including the stomach and intestines, and can help to slow or halt the growth of bacteria in the stomach. Generally carrots served in a liquid form, juice or soup, serve best for purposes of dealing with diarrhea.
- Blood sugar levels: The carotenoid found in carrots affects the level of insulin resistance in the body, thus naturally helping to control blood sugar levels.
- Headaches: If you’re suffering from a headache, give carrot juice a try. Supposedly carrot juice helps the body send blood to the brain, which will help to ease the pain of headaches.
- Cancer: This one is somewhat debatable. Some studies have suggested the beta-carotene in carrots helps to reduce the chances of cancer, specifically lung cancer. But some other studies suggest high intake of beta-carotene can actually increase the chances of cancer. Who is right? Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps a little beta-carotene is good for you, but maybe a lot of it isn’t so good. Again, check with your physician.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

9 Tips to Stop Snoring

Source: http://health.howstuffworks.com

Snoring is a fairly common affliction, affecting 40 percent of men and 25 percent of women. If you snore, you make a raspy, rattling, snorting sound while you breathe during sleep. Older people are particularly prone to snoring: About one-third of people ages 55 to 84 snore.

Despite its frequency, however, snoring is a sleep disorder that can have serious medical and social consequences. The tips that follow may help you sleep more peacefully.

1> Sleep on Your Side: You're more likely to snore if you're lying on your back, and sleeping on your stomach is stressful on your neck.

2> Lose Weight: Excess body weight, especially around the neck, puts pressure on the airway, causing it to partially collapse.

3> Avoid Alcohol and Tranquilizers: Both alcohol and sleeping pills can depress your central nervous system and relax the muscles of your throat and jaw, making snoring more likely. These substances are also known to contribute to sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that has been linked with cardiovascular disease. And they should never, ever be used together. If you have difficulty sleeping without sleeping pills (or if you use alcohol to help yourself fall asleep), discuss it with your doctor.

4> Get Your Allergies Treated: Chronic respiratory allergies may cause snoring by forcing sufferers to breathe through their mouths while they sleep. Taking an antihistamine just before bedtime may help. If your nose is stuffed up, try using an over-the-counter saline spray or a humidifier.

5> Buy a Mouth Guard: Your dentist or doctor may be able to prescribe an antisnoring mouth guard that holds the teeth together and keeps the lower jaw muscles from becoming too lax.

6> Stop Smoking: Smoke damages the respiratory system.

7> Keep a Regular Schedule: Get plenty of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

8> See a Doctor if You Are Pregnant and Snoring: Sometimes, women who are pregnant will begin to snore. The snoring may begin because of the increased body weight and because the hormonal changes of pregnancy cause muscles to relax. Whatever the cause, snoring during pregnancy may rob your baby of oxygen. Talk with your doctor about it.

9> Elevate Your Head: Sleeping with your head raised may take some of the pressure off of the airway, making breathing easier. Raise the head of the bed by putting blocks under the bed posts, or prop up your upper body (not just your head, which can actually inhibit breathing) with pillows.

Excessive snoring may also indicate that you have sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder. The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) recommends that you see your doctor if:
- You wake up during the night choking and gasping for breath
- You have been told that your snoring is disturbing to others
- You don't feel refreshed when you wake up
- You are extremely tired during the day
- You wake with a headache
- You are gaining weight
- You have trouble concentrating, remembering, or paying attention
- Your bed partner notices that your breathing pauses during sleep

It's important to have sleep apnea treated, not only because it interferes with your daily functioning, but because it boosts your risk of vascular disease. Sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle modification, surgery, oral mouth guards, or a CPAP machine, which blows air into the back of your throat while you sleep.