Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for December 10, 2012

6 Health and Beauty Secrets from Across the World

6 Health and Beauty Secrets from Across the World


Each culture has its own set of “secrets” for feeling and looking great. Here  is my opinion on the top 6, from Japan to Turkey!

Japan: Japanese people eat a lot of fish and  fruit and  drink many cups of tea. Eating their food with chopsticks helps them eat slowly  and consume less.

India: Our love of spices and herbs, of course, has its  health benefits. Spices such as cumin, turmeric, black pepper and coriander  boost immunity. Mint, Holy basil and cilantro– our favourite herbs– lavish us  with antioxidant benefits, vitamins and other nutrients.

China: In addition to healthy cooking techniques such as  steaming and stir-frying, the Chinese like to stay away from sugary foods. At a  Chinese restaurant, dessert is usually something light, featuring seasonal  fruit. And sugar, as we all know, is notorious for causing all sorts of health  problems, right from weight gain to diabetes.

Germany: Sure, they love their meat and potatoes, but the  Germans are very fond of whole grain bread, particularly rye bread, which is  high in fiber and helps good digestion.  Their love of sauerkraut (sour  cabbage) keeps them protected from coughs and colds.

France: French women are very particular about their beauty  routine. They regularly apply face masques, keep their skin well hydrated and  love to use face oils and natural spa waters to keep their skin glowing.

Turkey: Turkish people love to munch on chestnuts, pistachio  and walnuts, which are fiber-rich, contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and  reduce bad cholesterol.

By Shubhra Krishan

Shubhra Krishan

Writer, editor and journalist Shubhra Krishan is the author of Essential  Ayurveda: What it is and what it can do for you (New World Library, 2003),  Radiant Body, Restful Mind: A Woman’s book of comfort (New World Library, 2004),  and The 9 to 5 Yogi: How to feel like a sage while working like a dog (Hay House  India, 2011).

5 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

5 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies
It has been an extra sickly flu season for a lot of the folks in my life, and  I bet that a lot of you are battling the wintertime ick, as well. With more cold  weather on the way in a lot of the northern hemisphere, it felt like a good time  to round up a few of the cold and flu remedies that seem to actually make a  difference. While there’s no way to totally cure a cold or the flu once it’s taken hold, these remedies  can definitely help reduce your sickness’ severity and duration.


1. Oil of  Oregano

I wish I could remember who hipped me to oil of oregano, but this stuff has  been great for me this flu season. Oil of oregano is rich in vitamins and  minerals and is said to reduce pain and inflammation.

The second you start feeling run down, you’ll want to pop oil of oregano  pills twice a day between meals. I normally get a couple of bad illnesses during  the winter, and this time around I managed to kick the sick in just a few days,  rather than battling symptoms for a week.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by frostnova

hold the sun

2. Vitamin D

I’ve talked about vitamin D’s flu-fighting abilities before, and it bears  mentioning again. You can get your vitamin D through dietary sources, supplements, or good old sunshine. The only trick with vitamin D is that you  want to be careful not to take too much. Since this is a fat soluble vitamin,  your body doesn’t eliminate it as efficiently as water soluble vitamins.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by danibelle2906


3. Zinc

According to a recent article in the New York Times, zinc is a powerful natural cold and flu remedy. The trick is finding a  reliable lozenge. Many of the ones in the drug store have additives that either  make the zinc less effective or lower the zinc content too much. Stick to a  brand you trust and do some careful label reading to find a zinc supplement  without too many extra ingredients and a higher percentage of zinc.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by ethorson

man using a neti pot

4. Neti Pot

I can’t say enough good things about the neti pot! While it’s a little bit  tricky to use at first, once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to be  without yours. If you’re feeling congestion coming on, I’d suggest flushing with  the neti pot a couple of times a day. Even if you still get sick, you’ll spend  fewer days mouth breathing and nursing a dry, painful nose.

New to the neti pot? Here are some tips for getting started with a neti pot.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Buffawhat

Rest is key to fighting cold and flu

5. Rest

When all is said and done, rest is one of the best things you can do for your  body when you’re under the weather. Your immune system needs time to do its  thing, and resting gives your body a chance to heal. It’s sometimes hard to take  a day off from work to nurse yourself back to health, but a day or two of rest  now can help cut down the duration of your illness and save you many days of  discomfort.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by planetchopstick

By Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta,  Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible  to everyone! Like this article? You can follow  Becky on Twitter or find her on  Facebook!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Anna Gutermuth

10 Risk Factors and Warning Signs of a Stroke

10 Risk Factors and Warning Signs of a Stroke

According to an American Heart Association survey, young adults have a  disconnect about how their lifestyle choices affect their chances of stroke, a  leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

More than 1,200 adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were surveyed on their  thoughts about health and stroke risk.

Of the 18-24 year-old group, most expressed desire to live a healthy and long  life — 98 years was their average desire — but one-third of those said they  don’t think their unhealthy behaviors today will affect their risk of stroke  later. Eighteen percent couldn’t even name one stroke risk factor.

Ralph Sacco, M.D., neurologist and president of the American Heart  Association/American Stroke Association, said in a press release:

“This survey shows the dangerous disconnect that  many young Americans have about how their behaviors affect their risks for  stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Starting healthy behaviors at a young  age is critical to entering middle age in good shape. The investment you make in  your health now will have a large payoff as you age. We want everyone – especially young people – to strive to avoid stroke, which can affect anyone at  any age.”

The survey also indicated that people become more aware of their overall  health as they age:

  • In the 35-44 year-old group, 22 percent were not worried about  cardiovascular diseases.
  • In the 18-24 year-old group, 43 percent said they weren’t concerned.

Lifestyle Choices to Lower Stroke Risk

Healthy lifestyle choices can lower risk of a first stroke by almost 80  percent, according to American Heart Association/American Stroke Association  guidelines. Those choices include:

Risk Factors for Stroke

  • Age: The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles  for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the  elderly, a lot of people under 65 also have strokes.
  • Heredity/Race: Your stroke risk is greater if a parent,  grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. African-Americans have a higher  risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians.
  • Gender: Stroke is more common in men than in women, but  more than half of total stroke deaths occur in women.
  • Health Conditions: Having high blood pressure, diabetes,  heart disease, sickle cell disease, or high blood cholesterol raise your risk of  stroke.
  • Prior Stroke, TIA, or Heart Attack: The risk of stroke is  many times greater for someone who has already had one. Transient ischemic  attacks (TIAs) produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage, and if you’ve  had one or more TIAs, you’re 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone  of the same age and sex who hasn’t. If you’ve had a heart  attack, you’re at higher risk of having a stroke, too.

Warning Signs of Stroke

  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side  of the body
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden, severe headache with no known cause

If you, or someone near you should experience these symptoms, immediately  call 9-1-1.

Facts About Stroke

  • About 795,000 Americans each year have a stroke.
  • Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year, making it the third leading  cause of death, after diseases of the heart and cancer.
  • About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males, and 60 percent in  females.

By Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis.  She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a regular  contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2  Causes. Follow on  Twitter @AnnPietrangelo


The Health Benefits of Smiling

The Health Benefits of Smiling

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that  person, a beautiful thing.” ~ Mother Teresa

It’s so easy in our everyday lives to become consumed by all the things we  have to do, as well as the financial pressures we must endure when money is  tight. Feeling down and negative about it all, from time to time strikes all of  us, but even when you feel your own stress building up inside you, did you know  that perhaps the very best thing you can do is put on a happy face? Yes, even if  it means you have to force a phoney smile.

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

It has been said that a photograph or the happy face of a wholesome model or  actor, looking right into the camera induces people to buy products–so we know  advertisers know the power of a smile! We all inherently know the power of a  smile too! We feel good whilst smiling and we feel good when we are smiled  at.

Recently however, studies have shown that the simple, natural act of smiling  actually helps our health by lowering our heart rate and relieving our stress  levels.

An interesting study from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, required  participants to hold a variety of facial expressions while enduring  stress-provoking situations. The researchers recruited 169 college-age  volunteers, of whom half were men and half were women. They were provided with  chopsticks and taught to hold them in their mouths while making certain facial  expressions. They produced a neutral look, a smile that only involved the mouth,  and a Duchenne smile, which is  more of a true smile that requires activity in muscles of both the mouth and the  eyes. To half of the subjects, the suggestion was made that the Duchnenne smile  was to be made like a smile. The other half was simply directed on the muscular  action needed.

The entire group of participants were told they would be multi-tasking while  holding the chopsticks in their mouths and keeping a particular expression on  their faces. The tasks they needed to perform were designed to be difficult and  therefore heighten their stress levels. For instance, the volunteers were made  to trace a star shape using their non-dominant hand working off a mirror  reflection or plunging a hand into ice water (not something we usually would  want to smile about).

The researchers monitored the heart rates of the subjects both during and  after the tasks. The smilers had lower heart rates than those wearing neutral  expressions. The greatest difference was found in those who executed a Duchenne  smile that is most similar to a true smile. However, even the participants who  formed a smile with their mouths only had lower heart rates than those keeping a  neutral face, suggesting that any sort of grin–even a completely fake smile–can  be beneficial.

Researchers know today that we produce greater quantities of both adrenaline  and cortisol when undergoing stress. This “fight or flight” response increases  the heart rate and affects blood flow to ensure the vital organs of the core of  the body are receiving their fair share at the expense of the extremities.  Therefore, having a lower heart rate means we are not feeling or reacting to the  stress nearly as much.

According to the results of this study, smiling would appear to have some  sort of calming effect. In fact, blood pressure rates were also noted to be  lower in many of the smiling volunteers, but not all. Since the same hormones in  the body that affect heart rate also increase blood pressure, it’s interesting  that those results were not as consistent. The difference could possibly be due  to high blood pressure being a long-term condition that develops over time. High  blood pressure is affected by overeating and other poor health habits, whereas a  quickened heart rate is generally short term. Then again, in some people the  higher blood pressure could have been the result of hardened arteries, which  would not have changed no matter how much one smiled.

Earlier research about smiling has produced mixed results. A 2011 study at  Michigan State University in East Lansing found that people who had to be polite  all day at work and produce fake smiles ended up with overall worse moods than  others. Yet, when those same subjects were told to conjure their smiles based on  happy thoughts, both their moods and their productivity levels increased.

When we smile, we release a chemical message deep within our brain known as  an endorphin. Once released these endorphins travel down our spine sending feel  good messages throughout the rest of our body. Endorphins are strong enough  to reduce symptoms of physical, or emotional pain, as they envelop us in a  nice warm feeling of well being. They are a chemical of approximately the same  strength as another pharmaceutical chemical that we all know of called  Morphine.

Endorphins have that wonderful ability to make us feel happy, and whenever we  all smile, we release them. So even if you are not happy when you begin to  smile, you will be afterwards, and the more often that you smile then the  happier you will feel!

I think, since it costs us nothing to smile, then why not smile as often as  possible? If the first thing we would do when faced with stressful people or  situations was smile, we might unnerve them to such a degree that we neutralize  the stressful event right in its tracks. This might even turn into a giggle or  full on laugh fest.

It’s worth remembering that smiling is contagious. Let’s starting  spreading smiles, because they might just turn to all out laughter, just like  what happened to these folks on a German  train. Before everyone knew it, everyone was laughing!

It all starts with a smile!

By Celeste Yarnall, PhD

Celeste Yarnall

Celeste Yarnall, PhD shares  musings on a myriad of topics at her Celestial  Musings Blog. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care  with Jean Hofve, DVM and Natural Dog Care.  Celeste is an actress and speaker  who frequently does book signings and personal appearances. She and her husband  Nazim Artist created the Art of Wellness Collection and are the co-producers of  Femme: Women Healing the World. They live in Los Angeles, California with their  beloved Tonkinese cats! Join Celeste at her  website or on Facebook.

Photo of Celeste Yarnall by Alan Mercer

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