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Archive for November 21, 2012

12 Ways to Supercharge Your Digestion

12 Ways to Supercharge Your Digestion

You are what you eat, according to the adage, but I say you are what you eat,  digest, absorb, and assimilate. The building blocks of every cell, tissue,  gland, hormone, organ, organ system are found in foods. If foods are not  adequately broken down into their components like essential fatty acids (from  fats), amino acids (from protein), sugars (from starchy foods), vitamins,  minerals, enzymes (specialized proteins), and phytonutrients, then systems in  the body begin to break down. If you are suffering from almost any health  problem chances are good that your digestion is involved. The flip side is that  if you improve your digestion your health will typically follow. Here are 10  ways to improve your digestion.

1.  Increase the amount of raw foods in your diet. It  may seem counterintuitive but if you chew them well enough, raw fruit,  vegetables, sprouts, and herbs contain the enzymes needed to digest them,  thereby freeing up your body’s energy and improving digestion.

2.  Simplify your meals. Complex meals involving  starches (potatoes, rice, or pasta) and concentrated proteins (meat, poultry, or  fish), topped off with a sweet dessert are a recipe for disaster. Try waiting  for a couple of hours to have dessert and keep the meal focused on either starch  or concentrated proteins along with lots of vegetables.

3.  Using a hot water bottle on your abdomen for about  one hour after eating has been shown to increase hydrochloric acid production.  It’s not difficult to do if you’re sitting down to watch TV anyway.

4.  Ensure you’re getting enough of the nutrients needed by the  body to manufacture hydrochloric acid. That includes several B-complex  vitamins. Research shows that when brewer’s yeast was added to the diet of  animals deficient in the nutrients, stomach acid normalized.

5.  Avoid drinking with meals or drink only enough to  take medications or supplements. Water prematurely increases the pH of the  stomach which neutralizes stomach acid and signals the body to move the food  into the intestines—even if it is insufficiently digested.

6.  Supplement with betaine hydrochloride. Avoid using  this supplement if you are prone to ulcers. Many enzyme supplements also contain  this ingredient.

7.  Take a full-spectrum digestive enzyme to help digest  food. Ideally it should include: lipase (for fats), proteases (for  proteins), lactase (for milk sugar), amylase (for starches), invertase (for  sugars), and cellulase and/or hemicellulase (for fiber).

8.  Avoid eating when you’re feeling severely stressed  or overly emotional as stress hormones can interfere with adequate  digestion.

9.  Taking herbal bitters like common or red centaury  (Centaurium minus or erythraea) or gentian (Gentiana lutea) have traditionally  helped increase stomach acid and improve digestion. They are normally found in  health food stores in liquid form and are taken with meals according to package  directions.

10.  Spices like ginger (Zingiber officinale), black  pepper (Piper nigrum), and cayenne pepper (Capsicum annum) can be added to meals  to aid digestion.

11.  Take a full-spectrum probiotic supplement on an empty  stomach. I usually find first thing in the morning or in the evening  before bed is best. Beneficial bacteria are needed in the intestines to  manufacture essential nutrients like vitamin B12, to keep harmful bacterial and  yeast infections under control, and to ensure proper absorption of nutrients in  your food.  Ideally, look for one that contains a variety of Lactobacilli  (L.) and Bifidobacteria (B.), including:  L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum,  L. acidophilus, L. paracasei, L. salivarius, B. animalis lactis, B. bifidum, B.  breve, B. infantis, and B. longum.

12.  Chew your food well. The stomach can’t do the job  of the teeth so it’s important that food is well chewed by the time it gets to  the stomach.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 12-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: Healing  Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body  Detox, The Life Force Diet, The  Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme  Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and subscribe to her free  e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

 

6 Stress Management Tips from Around the World

6 Stress Management Tips from Around the World

 

How do you decompress after a long day or week? What do you consider  relaxing? They answer may change based on where you live. Check out some of the  ways people across the globe manage their stress, and let us know your  techniques in the comments.

1. Brazil

It’s all about balance in sunny Brazil. In this laid-back country, relaxation  and time with loved ones are built into your everyday life. It’s not about  working hard so you can relax when you retire, it’s about enjoying life’s simple  pleasures every day. Indeed, Brazilians truly have relaxation down to an  art form.

 

2. China

If you stroll through a city park in China, you’re might stumble upon a very  curious sight — several dozen people, sometimes hundreds, all exercising  together. Tai-chi, yoga, ballroom dancing — you name it, the Chinese are doing  it. It’s as much a social event as it is a workout.

 

3. Finland

Nothing says relaxing to Finns like a trip to the sauna. Indeed, in Finland,  letting off steam in a sauna with friends is a weekly activity — it’s not  considered a luxury like it is in most other parts of the world. Most Finns  visit the sauna at least once a week, usually on Saturdays, with close friends  and family. It’s a social event, though a relaxing one. In the sauna, most  people avoid controversial issues and arguments are taboo.

 

4. Italy

Italians are all about after-dinner strolls. Walking through their villages,  these traditional walks allow Italians to catch up with friends and neighbors,  get some fresh air and, of course, get in a little exercise.

 

5. New Zealand

With a more relaxed work environment, where leaving the office early or  taking time off for leisurely purposes isn’t as frowned upon as it is in the  U.S., Kiwis get to enjoy all their beautiful country has to offer. Outdoor  sports are big in New Zealand, and team sports like soccer and rugby are quite  popular, too.

 

 

6. Denmark

Often ranked as the happiest country on the planet, Denmark has a lot of  things going for it in terms of relaxing. To be clear, Sure, a healthy  economy, an excellent social welfare system, and political stability don’t hurt  the tiny Scandinavian nation’s stress level. There’s another crucial aspect of  Danish culture that plays apart in it too: For the Danes, their homes are their  sanctuaries — private places to relax away from the bustle of the city. Taking  pleasure in being at home sure does wonders for your stress level.

Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A  Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives  in Oakland, California.

 

Your Belly Button is Like a Rainforest, and Here’s Why

Your Belly Button is Like a Rainforest, and Here’s Why

After decades of exploring the wealth of biodiversity found in some  of the  planet’s remotest ecosystems, from high atop the forest canopy,  to down deep  within the ocean’s murky depths, scientists have now turned  their attention to  one of the darkest, most foreboding places of all —  your belly button!

Sure, that little built-in lint trap might not seem so terribly interesting,  aside from being a battle scar  from the early days of our infantile  independence. But for a team of  researchers, lead by Dr. Robert Dunn, delving  into the human belly  button is actually like visiting a unknown world. And they  should know;  they’ve bravely participated in dozens of harrowing navel  expeditions in  search of new life.

That is to say, they’ve swabbed and cultured  bacteria samples from 60  participants across the U.S. — discovering in  the process more than 2,000  distinct species, some of which are quite  uncommon.

“As we looked at belly buttons we saw a terrible, yawning, richness of life,” writes Dr. Dunn.  “The average belly button hosted 50 or so  species and across belly  buttons we found thousands of species (and as we  sample more belly  buttons, we continue to find more species). The vast majority  of these  species are rare. Right away something struck an ecological chord. The  belly buttons reminded me of rain forests.”

Interestingly enough,  despite the broadness of their sampling, Dunn and his  team found that  the commonest species found were present in around 70 percent  of belly  buttons tested — though no one bacteria was present in all of  them.

“Although  it remains difficult to predict which species of bacteria might be  found on a particular human, predicting which species are most frequent  (or  rare) seems more straightforward, at least for those species living  in belly  buttons,” researchers write in their study, appearing in the  journal PLOS ONE.

What  Dunn and his team failed to uncover, however, was why each person’s   navel seems to be so distinct — conceding: “what we cannot seem to  account for  is which species are present in any particular belly  button.”

But that should come as no surprise; scientists have  really only begun to  poke around the belly button just recently and  there’s certainly far more to  learn.

“The belly button is one of the habitats closest to us, and yet it remains  relatively unexplored.”

Written by Stephen Messenger

This post was originally published by TreeHugger

Photo: unclefuz/flickr

 

5 Smells That Make You Kinder, Happier, Nicer

5 Smells That Make You Kinder, Happier, Nicer

Cinnabon knows what it’s doing. The smell of baking bread can make us kinder,  says a study from Journal of Social Psychology by scientists from the  University of Southern Brittany in France.

Wanting to test the notion that smells can influence behavior, the scientists  had eight young men and women stand outside either a bakery or a clothing store,  says the Independent. The participants were instructed to pretend to  be searching for something in their bags and then drop an object (a glove, a  handkerchief) while walking in front of a stranger.

People stopped to pick up the object about 77 percent of the time in front of  the bakery, versus 52 percent of the time outside the clothing store, according  to the researchers who observed the proceedings from some 60 feet away.

Eight participants is a small number but the scientists did repeat the  experiment some 400 times, notes the Daily Mail. From their observations, they state that

“Our results show that, in general, spontaneous  help is offered more in areas where pleasant ambient smells are spread.”

“This experiment confirms the role of ambient  food odours on altruism.”

One wonders at possible practical applications of this study. Could the  answer to us all getting along, dealing with anger management, turning the other  cheek for each other and so forth — to nothing other than world peace! — be to  waft the scent of bread baking around?

While contemplating such, here are four more smells that have been found to  lift up our spirits.

Peppermint

Pepper-mint

Researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University found that the smell of peppermint boosted both mood and motivation in  competitive athletes by making them run faster, do more push-ups and squeeze  a hand grip harder.

Spice Apple

Best Apples for Baking

The smell of American spice apple has been found to help reduce blood pressure. Perhaps that’s why a cup of  warm apple cider seems so inviting, not to mention the smell of an apple pie  baking?

Lavender

Lavender hill mob

No wonder some refer to this smell as nature’s own “chill-out oil.” Lavender scent has been found to help reduce stress and relieve pain (possibly).

Coffee

Coffee Beans

Or more precisely, roasted coffee beans: a South Korean study found that this aroma reduces stress in  rats. Scientists found that lab rats (who certainly have reason to be stressed)  had lower stress levels after smelling roasted coffee beans.

As a serious coffee drinker, I would agree with this. But one has to wonder  if not all smells are created equal for all people. My husband does not drink  any coffee and is no big fan of the smell — but then, in some twenty years of  daily contact with coffee’s aroma, he has never once complained.

by

Photos: bread: Thinkstock; peppermint: Sir_Iwan; apples: Veganbaking.net; lavender: Billy Reed: coffee beans: Peg Waggener.

What’s Your Nutrition Personality Type?

What’s Your Nutrition Personality Type?

I’ve noticed that different people respond differently to a major part of our  lives: what we put in our mouths several times a day or how we treat our bodies.

There are 5 personality types within nutrition and health.Where do you stand?

Note: You can make up your own category if you wish!

1. Don’t Care:

These are the people who eat what they like, or what is convenient, or what  they always have eaten. A major part of the population used to be in this  category.

Now, because there is now so much attention in the media on the possible  benefits of food and all the dangers of not having a healthy lifestyle, this  category is shrinking.

But this group is still huge, and the largest segment is men. Men  traditionally just don’t pay as much attention to this aspect of their lives and  rely on their spouses and eventually a doctor to take care of them. Forget about organic. Don’t bother with green.  They are too busy for that.

2. Enthusiastic:

These are people who have been introduced to some food or nutritional  knowledge, and are eager for its benefits.

He who has health, has hope. And he who has  hope, has everything.

The more positive feedback they get from their bodies, the more enthusiastic  they become! They often eagerly share their information with friends, etc.

 

3. Health Nut:

“If you call yourself a health nut, it’s  usually good. When someone else calls you a health nut … it’s definitely bad!”

A health nut is someone who is enthusiastic about nutrition and tries to be  on top of the most recent knowledge, but realizes that not everyone has  the same enthusiasm or beliefs.

Did you know that, ten years ago, if you talked about  antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids, you were branded a health nut by  others?

Now it’s common knowledge. You know it is common when food packagers are  advertising that their yogurt or juice (or whatever) is now packed full of these  amazing ‘new’ ingredients.

Today’s health nut…

  • Has tried vegan, raw, or vegetarian at least once.
  • Of course, eats quinoa and green smoothies. Doesn’t everyone?
  • When asked to bring chips and dip, turns up with kale chip and homemade  hummus.

4. Obsessive:

This category could also be called the old-fashioned word, hypochondriac.

“The trouble with being a hypochondriac these  days is that antibiotics have cured all the good diseases.” — Caskie  Stinnett

Once you have experienced the different effects of food, it’s quite easy to  get obsessed about trying to control it – particularly if you are suffering in  some way.

The danger in this is that the mind is extremely powerful, and can create its  own responses in the body, even if they are not appropriate.

A further complication to this situation is that there is so much new  nutritional information coming out all the time. It’s easy to get confused by  conflicting information, or scared by dangerous toxins, etc.

. Fanatic:

Fanatics are people who have come to believe in a certain food rule, and  think that everyone else should also follow this. They believe this so  strongly that they don’t see other people’s viewpoint or don’t care. Fanatics  can be inspiring and can actually have good nutritional information, but because  they are so rigid, they can be aggressive against those who don’t share their  views.

 

Everyone is doing their best! Once you have been in the  health field long enough, you see that the field of health is still as much an  art as a science – that the details are constantly changing and it is therefore  just as important how you approach the goal as your specific actions.

At Real Food for  Life, Diana and I realized that we didn’t want to be ‘fanatics.’ Even though  we are familiar with all the RULES to eating, we do not want to be always  dishing them out in a rigid way, because that is not the most helpful way.

That is why we focus on principles to eating, instead of  rigid rules. We also teach Healthy Weekend Online BootCamps where people can, for short  periods of time, focus on the skills and knowledge to put  health principles  into everyday use. There are BootCamps for alkalizing your body, or losing  weight, or cooking gluten-free, all from the comfort of your home.

Where do you see yourself in this mix? Leave comments  below.

I must admit, that sometimes I stray to the dark side.  I do worry sometimes  and do judge others. Mostly, I relate most with the ‘health nut’ right now. As a  child, I was in the ‘don’t care’ category. I guess we all started out that  way!

Written by Randy Fritz, co-creator of Real Food For Life

Diana Herrington

Diana Herrington turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for  helping others with healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free, eating and cooking. After  testing and researching every possible healthy therapy on her delicate system  she has developed simple, powerful principles which she shares in her recent  book Eating Green and Lean, and as host to Care2 groups: Healthy  Living Network and Healthy  Cooking. She is the head chef at Real  Food for Life, where she shares recipes and tips. Sign up for the Real Food  for Life weekly newsletter or catch her on Facebook  or  Twitter (@DancinginLife).

 

4 Remedies to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

4 Remedies to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Dense breasts is more than a descriptor of breast mass. It’s a  condition that can have health consequences.

This week, children’s book author Judy Blume announced on her blog that she  recently received a diagnosis of breast cancer after getting a routine  ultrasound, and then underwent a mastectomy. She made a point of saying that her  dense breast tissue had made her cancer impossible to detect through either a  physical exam or mammogram.

Breast density can indeed prevent mammography from highlighting suspicious  markings. The dense tissue literally blocks the view. That’s why an ultrasound  is the better detection option for women who have dense breasts.

Not surprisingly, hormones are a big factor in many breast-related  conditions. Young women have more circulating hormones; therefore, their breast  tissue is typically dense. That’s because breast tissue contains estrogen  receptors, a destination for circulating estrogen. When the liver can’t break  down the body’s excess estrogen, then the risk of estrogen-related breast cancer  increases.

Fat also plays a role in breast density. Because estrogen loves fat,  premenopausal women who are overweight are generally more at risk for breast  cancer because their fat stores are greater than in women of normal weight. And  fat stores in the breast will attract estrogen.

However, even slim premenopausal women who ingest more estrogen than normal  through the environment–or through estrogen-mimickers in products, including  skin care items, cosmetics, and plastic containers–are also at risk for denser  breasts, if their livers are not helping rid the body of these substances.

Postmenopausal women produce only a small amount of hormones through their  adrenals. These hormones are converted, in the fat cells, to estrogen and  progesterone. However, postmenopausal women’s livers, which have often become  more toxic over many years, may not be up to the task of breaking down even the  small amount of circulating estrogen in their systems. Another factor that can  increase breast density is hormone replacement therapy.

The good news is that a woman with dense breasts and too much circulating  estrogen can take action to improve her condition. Here are four potential  remedies and strategies that can help.

1. Eliminate coffee and caffeine. Coffee contains  methylxanthine. Chocolate contains theobromine. Both substances, derived from  xanthine, are stimulants that are associated with creating fibrous tissue in the  breast. By going cold turkey off these two items for several days, a woman can  determine whether her breast tissue is sensitive to either coffee or  chocolate.

2. Go easy on red meat. Unless you buy certified organic  meat, you don’t know what hormone-related feed the animal has ingested. Also,  too much fat congests the liver, which in turn prevents the liver from breaking  down estrogens and other toxins.

3. Try iodine. If a patient has dense breasts, a small daily  amount of iodine–between 150 and 300mcg–from an OTC brand may help. (This iodine  supplement is not the first-aid iodine that one puts on wounds.)

Iodine helps support thyroid hormone production, which subsequently can  decrease estrogen stimulation of breast tissue. Women should also eat seaweed,  which is an iodine-rich food.

4. Eat cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels  sprouts, and cauliflower all containindole-3-carbinol, a compound that helps the  liver break down estrogen into more benign components. The detoxifying qualities  of these cruciferous vegetables make them an excellent choice for women with  dense breasts.

By Dr. Laurie Steelsmith

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and  licensed acupuncturist whose specialty is women’s health. She’s the author of a  new book, Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her  Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine (Hay House, 2012) and the  bestseller Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural  and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Learn more at www.drlauriesteelsmith.com.

4 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

4 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

I travel a lot. Each month, I pack up my suitcase to hit the road,  whether  it be (quite literally) by plane, train, or automobile.

Whether it be for work, for family, or for a holiday/vacation, I  always find  myself with the same quandry–how to stay healthy and fit  while on the road?

I used to use traveling as an excuse to get out of my healthy  habits, but  learned the hard way that damage like that is hard to undo. I  have since  learned, that with little effort, I can stay in shape, not  get sick, and enjoy  traveling, as well as be happy when I get back to  the reality of every day  life.

1. Move around! Though only about 1 in 4,500  airplane  passengers develop a blood clot (npr.com) you should still make  every effort to  move around on the plane, whether it be just standing  in the aisle (once you’ve  reached the proper flying altitude) or by  taking a walk to the lavatory. Have a  layover? Instead of sitting  (you’ll be doing plenty of that on the plane), make  sure to walk around  the airport. Taking a road trip? Make plenty of stops to  move around.  This is also a great opportunity to check out an attraction on the  way!  Once you get to your location, don’t forget to factor in exercise.   Whether it be working out at your hotel, taking hikes, or forgoing  public  transport to walk, you’ll feel much better if you get in some  activity.

2. Snack Smart. While at the airport and on road  trips  you’ll roll past countless fast food restaurants. Though these  seem like a  convenient option, they’re not the healthiest. I like to  pack snacks that are  within my calorie budget for the day and 100  calories or under each. When  traveling and purchasing food, I try to opt  for fresh fruit and veggies (not  only healthy, but also packed with  vitamins!). Fast food the only option and  you’re famished? Stick to  something simple (like a kid’s meal) and whatever you  do, don’t  supersize.

3. Stay Germ-Free. It’s hard to avoid germs  completely, but  the last thing you want to do is come home from a trip  sick or worse – get sick  on your trip. Bring disinfecting wipes with you.  They come in so handy from  wiping down your seat on the airplane to  even cleaning up messes at hotels.  Carry antibacterial gel (without triclosan, or make your own herbal antibacterial spray) or paper soap  for occasions  when a public restroom is out of soap. Up your intake of foods with antibiotic properties. Most importantly,  stick  to your vitamin regimen and make sure to get plenty of vitamin C!

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Due to low humidity  on  planes, many of us can find ourselves feeling thirstier than ever.  Don’t want  to pay for water at the airport? Bring an empty bottle in  your carry on to fill  at a water fountain and carry on the plane. Lucky  enough to be flying an  airline with complimentary beverage services? Opt  for water. Make sure when  traveling on day trips, etc. to carry water  with you at all times. Water will  also help you to be able to stay full  between meals so that you will eat  healthier throughout the day.

Though you will be out of your normal comfort zone, it’s important  to stick  to your regular regimen as much as possible. Happy traveling!

By Julia Porter, 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.

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