Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for January 12, 2011

6 Healthy Habits That Can Make You Sick

6 Healthy Habits That Can Make You Sick

I dance the Macarena whenever I come across an article that argues against extreme healthy living. I laughed while reading research about dark chocolate firing up the happy brain. And I high-fived the doctors who warn folks against too much sunscreen–because it blocks the vitamin D that all of us need. I hate that stuff and was looking long and hard for an excuse not to look like a clown this summer. Thank you! I’ve even performed the opposite of an intervention with one of my friends last week who was trying to give up alcohol and nicotine at the same time.

And now, I bring you one more doctor you will like: Dr. Erika Schwartz, Medical Director of Cinergy Health. She’s here to tell us not to get too carried away with our healthy habits. Thanks, Erika!

As a society, we are constantly striving to lead healthier, happier lives. But with these efforts, we sometimes run the risk of going too far. As a rule of thumb, any extreme is unhealthy, but rarely are we made aware of the “cons” of healthy habits, instead led to think any good thing is better if done as often as possible. Not so fast …

Here are some examples of healthy habits that can backfire when done in excess:

1. Over-Exercising
Your body and mind do not need more than three to four days a week of 30 to 45 minutes of cardio activity. Cardio/aerobic exercises should be done every other day alternating with Yoga, Pilates, walking, and weight training on the off days. Hiking, swimming, tennis, golf, team sports and a simple variation in exercise over the course of the week, month and season is the best way to stay lean, toned and energized.

2. Staying Out of the Sun
Our bodies need Vitamin D to stay strong by making healthy bones and ward off illness by boosting our immune system. The only way to get Vitamin D into our system is via sun exposure. Don’t make yourself overly neurotic about sunscreen. If you are going to the pool or beach or participating in outdoor sports that involve more than 20 minutes of sun exposure, slather on the SPF 30, but if you are simply doing your daily errands outdoors, enjoy the feeling the sun on your skin. The only part of your body that should always be protected is the face.

3. Using Antibacterial Soaps and Gels
Antibacterial soaps and gels are good to carry in your purse or car but becoming obsessed with the sanitization they promise could weaken your body’s ability to fight off “good bacteria.” Washing your hands with warm water and soap for twenty seconds will do the trick.

4. Sleeping
The average person needs eight full hours of undisturbed sleep at night. If you are regularly getting fewer or more than nine hours sleep, you are not doing yourself much good. Human beings are not built to think, process, or function optimally on more or less than seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not to mention too little or too much sleep is bad for our skin and causes bloating, overeating, confusion and depression.

5. Relying on Air Conditioning
While air conditioning feels great on a hot, humid summer day, don’t sit and breathe in cold recycled air all day and night long. The air may contain bacteria and germs and certainly all kinds of particles of dust. Every few hours, turn the air off, open the windows, go for a walk outside and breathe in the fresh air–don’t forget to wash your air conditioning filters with warm water and soap and let them air-dry every month you’re using them. And if you work in an office building where windows never open, bring a sweater to keep your core temperature warm and get out of the office at least for lunch and a mid-afternoon break.

6. Eating Organic Food
While organic foods–such as fruits, vegetables, and packaged goods–tend to be expensive, the real problem is that they can still be heavily processed. Make sure to read the labels of the food you are purchasing carefully even if you are buying them from the health food store. Foods don’t need to be “organic” to be healthy. Stick with labels that have simple and few ingredients, and a low amount of natural sugars (like honey, turbinado sugar, cane sugar), sodium and processed carbohydrates.

By Therese J. Borchard, DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

New Year’s Resolutions Your Dog Wishes You’d Make

New Year’s Resolutions Your Dog Wishes You’d Make


In 2005, Veterinary Economics reported that 40 percent of U.S. dogs are overweight. And according to a report from the National Academies’ National Research Council, 25 percent of pets in Western societies are obese. Our advice? Keep your dog moving.

Forget going to the gym or learning Italian. 2009 is the year to let your dog make your resolutions for you. After all, your pup’s life-long endeavor is to be your loving pet and loyal companion—the least you can do this year is bring an extra wag or two to his world. Besides, his resolutions will have you both feeling great, and the best part is, none involve spandex, spinning classes, or low-fat butter.

I resolve to take quality walks.
Chances are, your pup never says no to a walk, even if it’s the same old stroll up the block and back. But know that your dog craves new scents and sounds as much as you enjoy new scenery. So mix up your weekday walks with new routes, unfamiliar trails, and uncharted side streets and explore new neighborhoods and parks on the weekends. Better yet, research dog-friendly hiking spots in your area and venture somewhere new once a month.

I resolve to give fewer hugs, play more.
Maybe you’ve noticed that squirmy, help-let-me-out wriggle your dog does during what you consider to be a loving embrace. Unlike us primates, dogs don’t feel all reassured and gooey inside after a nice long hug. In fact, most likely they feel trapped—it’s just a canine thing. A hearty round of tug however, played appropriately, can be a huge stress reliever and a nice bit of exercise as well. Note: If you intend to make tug a permanent activity in your repertoire, “drop it” is an important command to know.

I resolve to regularly introduce “new” toys into the mix.
Remember, they don’t have to be store-bought new, just new to your pup—that is, something he hasn’t seen before (or at least in a very long time). So swap toys with your dog-owning friends and neighbors so that every few weeks there’s something new for Fido to chase, charge, or chew on.

I resolve to throw a party.
We’re not (necessarily) talking about a fancy birthday fete or a bark mitzvah—though those are fun, too. A rendezvous with a couple of his favorite people—or at least people who adore him—will do. Play a few of his preferred games or simply ask invitees to practice a couple basic commands with him. It’s a chance for your dog to get praised, treated, and rewarded by someone else—great for socialization and a real boon to his confidence.
I resolve to bond outside the home.
Agility classes may just be the perfect combination of mental stimulation, physical activity, and most important, team building between you and your best friend. Dogs and humans both have a ball. But if weave poles and tire hoops seem too daunting, consider a Canine Good Citizen class, a program designed by the AKC (and offered in cities across the country) to promote responsible ownership and well-mannered dogs. You’ll brush up on your training techniques and your dog gets a refresher course in good behavior.

I resolve to keep my dog physically fit.
And truly, this is the only one that requires any willpower—we know that pleading puppy eyes are harder to resist than any French pastry or sloppy cheeseburger, especially when there’s a stash of treats at hand. But even though it seems like your dog is harnessing the world’s entire supply of Cute Power to get you to surrender that big hunk of cheese, know that he really means this: Please do everything you can to ensure that I’m healthy, mobile, and comfortable for a long, long time.

Grated carrots and a game of fetch, here we come.

By DogTime, DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

Healthy Diet Linked to Longer Life

Healthy Diet Linked to Longer Life

 Healthy Diet Linked to Longer Life

According to research that will be published in the January 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, seniors between the ages of 70 to 79 who ate a diet rich in high-fat dairy products had the highest risk of death over a ten-year period.

However, seniors the same age who ate a healthy diet–one with high amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, poultry, and fish–lived longer lives.

The researchers analyzed the diets of 2500 American adults and found that during the ten-year period, those who ate a diet rich in high fat dairy products had a 34 percent death rate.  Those who ate a diet fairly high in sweets and desserts had a 32 percent death rate, while only 21 percent of the healthy diet category died during the decade-long study.

The researchers took into account a number of other factors, such as gender, age, race, education, physical activity, smoking, and total caloric intake as part of the study.

To people who already eat a healthy diet and notice the health improvements this type of diet affords, the outcome of this type of research may seem fairly obvious but positive outcomes with this type of research may help to support further research into other health benefits of healthy diet.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, BSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, is an international best-selling and seven-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Phytozyme Cure and HealthSmart News. Learn more at www.DrMichelleCook.com.

Top 10 Sex-Drive Killers

Top 10 Sex-Drive Killers


If you don’t remember the last time you felt like having sex with a partner, you are probably suffering from low sex drive. A number of psychological and physiological factors can have a major impact on your libido. Read on to know more about the top ten sex-drive killers.

Stress
Many people perform best under intense pressure, but sexual performance certainly isn’t one of those. Stress at the workplace, financial troubles, a sick family member, or simply a hectic lifestyle with poor eating habits can take a toll on your sex life. You and your partner can seek counseling from a sex therapist, learn techniques for managing stress, and work toward having a better lifestyle—if it’s stress that’s wreaking havoc with your sex life.

Relationship Problems
Knotty relationship issues need to be resolved and major differences ironed out if you want to reclaim the intimacy and affection that you once shared with your partner. Emotional closeness plays a major role in sexual passion, particularly for women. Poor communication, infidelity, constant arguments, and other relationship-breakers need to be eliminated before mutual sexual desire can be regained.

Alcohol
If you always require a couple of drinks before you can get in the mood for sex, there’s something seriously wrong with your sex life. Alcohol is commonly perceived as an aphrodisiac that breaks down barriers and inhibitions before sex, but all it actually does is numb your libido in the long term. Getting drunk might even put off your partner and you might end up having lousy sex. The same goes for recreational drugs and other so-called libido boosters.

Too Little Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest killers of sex drive. After all, if you start snoring as soon as you are under the covers, you are not likely to have a very active sex life. If it’s sleep apnea or insomnia that’s causing all the trouble, you can get suitable treatment for it. Try and get rid of whatever it is that is interfering with your sleep patterns, because sleeping too little gives you fatigue and saps the libido.

Medication
Loss of libido is a side effect that accompanies a number of medications. Ask your doctor to prescribe alternatives or change the dosage if your sex drive is being affected by medications, such as: antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, oral contraceptives, anti-HIV drugs, synthetic progesterone-medroxyprogesterone, finasteride, or chemotherapy.

Body Image
If you feel you just aren’t sexy enough to please your partner, you are suffering from poor body image linked to low self-esteem. Many men, for instance, feel that their penis is too small, and these feelings of inadequacy can affect their sex life. If you are a woman and are too concerned about your breast size, you are probably ruining your sex life. Talking to a psycho-sexual therapist or a qualified counselor will help you develop a positive body image and dramatically enhance your libido.

Obesity
Obesity is directly related to lack of sexual desire and poor sexual performance. The causes for this are usually linked to social stigma, low self-esteem, unsatisfactory relationships, and simply difficulties in having sex. Losing weight can certainly lead to better sex.

Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition characterized by a restricted flow of blood to the penis, thus leading to difficulties in getting or retaining a satisfactory erection. Men suffering from ED are likely to worry about their sexual performance and kill their sex drive. ED medications such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis can address this problem to a great extent.

Low Testosterone
The amount of testosterone in your body determines the level of your sex drive. If your testosterone levels dip too low, your libido is likely to decline. Testosterone therapy is recommended for boosting your sex drive.

Depression
Depression is a double-edged sword because it saps sex drive, while antidepressants do so too. Seeking treatment for clinical depression is necessary; you can deal with the low libido once the depression is under control.

By Aderline Peech, DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

Questions to Ask After a Heart Attack

Questions to Ask After a Heart Attack

If your parent has recently been hospitalized for a heart attack, the future may seem very uncertain. Now is the time to organize medical care and figure out how to make the transition from hospital to home as smooth as possible. Ask your parent’s doctors and nurses the following:

1. How serious was the heart attack?

Some heart attacks are worse than others. Knowing how badly your parent’s heart was damaged will give you a clearer sense of his prognosis and timeline for recovery. The extent of damage will also determine any complications your parent might have.

2. What complications should we watch for?

If your parent suffered a very mild heart attack, you might not need to worry about complications at all. But if the attack was more severe, your parent could develop complications, such as an arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, or stroke. Ask the doctor about your parent’s risk for these complications and how to recognize them if they develop.

3. How much care will my parent need — and for how long?

If your parent will need more care than you can provide, now is the time to make plans. The doctors and nurses should be able to give you an idea of how badly and how long your parent will be disabled.

4. When can my parent resume normal activities?

How much and what type of activities your parent can do will depend on the condition of his heart. In most cases, heart attack survivors can get back to normal activities within a few months; others may need to take it easy for a longer period of time. Depending on his state’s laws, your parent may be able to start driving within a couple of weeks. The doctor can help you and your parent set a realistic timetable for recovery.

5. What exercises should my parent do?

Physical activity strengthens the heart muscle and is important for overall health. Exercise can help your parent reduce his cholesterol level, lose weight, and lower his blood pressure. But it’s important not to overdo it, especially soon after a heart attack. Ask the doctor if your parent could benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation program, in which an exercise specialist will help him develop a program he can continue on his own.

6. What kinds of dietary restrictions are necessary?

You probably already realize that your parent will need to make changes to his diet, but the thought of implementing those changes may daunt you. The doctors and nurses can help you figure out the best diet for your parent. Ask what foods are good for heart health, what foods he should limit, and how to control portion size. If you need more help, ask for a referral to a nutritionist who specializes in cardiac patients.

7. What medications will my parent need to take — and what are the likely side effects?

The doctor has probably prescribed a bewildering array of different medications for your parent. Make sure you understand each medication and its potential side effects. For each medication, ask: What does it do? How often should my parent take it? Should my parent take this medication with food? Is there anything my parent should not eat or drink with this medication? What side effects might we expect?

8. What doctors should my parent see?

If your parent’s heart attack was fairly mild, he may be able to continue to see only his primary care physician. But if his heart was badly damaged, he’ll probably need to see a cardiologist as well. Ask what doctors he’ll need to visit and whether your insurance will cover those appointments.

9. What’s my parent ’s risk for another heart attack, and what signs should we watch for?

Most heart attack survivors are at a higher risk for a second attack. Ask the doctor how you can tell the difference between angina and a heart attack. Be aware that the second heart attack may not exhibit the same symptoms as the first. With that in mind, ask the doctor for a list of signs to watch for and what to do if you see them, including where you should seek emergency care.

10. What local support and other resources are available?

Your parent’s doctors and nurses are a great source of information about the support network available for cardiac patients and their families. Don’t hesitate to ask them for referrals.

by Lara, selected from Caring.com

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

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