Archive for February, 2014

26
Feb
14

Bad habits that make you look and feel old


Aging is something that everyone faces, and looking and feeling younger is an industry that generates billions of dollars in the U.S. There are some habits that many people have acquired that can make them feel or look older than their years. By making some simple changes and losing these bad habits, you can look and feel younger.

Not getting enough sleep

If you’re a night owl, it can have long-term effects including bags under the eyes and droopy, tired eyelids. It can also contribute to mental fatigue and depression.

Eating processed foods

If you find that you’re eating on the run, or if most of the meals you prepare at home are from a box or can, you’re not doing your health or looks any good. The levels of sodium, fat and cholesterol are heavy, which accelerates the aging process and increases the likelihood of obesity. Avoid processed foods and eat more whole foods to reduce the amount of added sugar and fat in your diet in order to decrease these risks.

You don’t exercise regularly

If you exercise only when you want to lose weight, you may be cheating yourself out of longevity. Regular exercise also helps control high blood pressure, improve mood and keeps us strong and flexible as we age. A good goal is 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day.

Smoking

There is a clear link between smoking and longevity. The earlier you quit, the more years you add to your life. Smoking causes the release of free radicals and smokers have higher risks to develop almost any disease including cancer, heart disease and dementia, just to name a few.

Not drinking enough water

Drinking water is not only good for your metabolism, it could be a key to younger-looking skin. Water helps the skin to retain moisture and helps deliver essential nutrients to the skin. Loss of hydration can cause dryness, tightness, flakiness and wrinkling, which can make you look older.

Drinking to excess

Studies have shown that a moderate amount of alcohol can have heart-healthy benefits, but drinking in excess shortens your life. Excess alcohol has been shown to lead to heart failure and high blood pressure as well as cirrhosis of the liver and weight gain.

Eating sweets

Eating a diet high in sugar adds calories, which we all know adds weight, but it can even cause skin problems, especially acne and wrinkles. Yes, wrinkles. The sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins, which damage nearby protein fibers that keep skin elastic.

Rubbing your eyes

If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer, you can develop tired eyes. But know this: rubbing your eyes breaks down the collagen and elasticity around the area, which produces wrinkles and broken capillaries. For relief from tired or irritated eyes, try brewing two green tea bags and allow them to cool, then place them over your eyes for 10 minutes.

Sleeping with your face in the pillow

If you sleep face down, pressing your face into a pillow can cause trauma to the skin. Over time, this and the aggravation caused by the friction of a cotton pillowcase can create permanent creases in your skin as collagen breaks down. Replace the cotton pillowcases with satin and learn to sleep on your back.

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19
Feb
14

The myths and benefits of the full squat


Over the past few years, core exercises have been becoming more prevalent. One of the core exercises that people neglect is the full squat. Why?

Two reasons, really.

1. They’re hard.

2. There’s been some misinformation about squats floating around for quite some time.

Five popular myths about squats

Squats are bad for the heart. While doing them will temporarily raise blood pressure, the heart adapts to the stress by making the left ventricle grow larger.

Squats make athletes slower. Complete fabrication since many sprinters attest that the exercise is directly tied to their speed.

Squats are bad for the back. Using proper form negates most of the risk for injury and strengthening the back muscles will prevent injury as well.

Squats are bad for the knees. Again, as long as you’re using proper form, there’s little chance of debilitating knee injury. And again, a lot of research indicates that squats improve knee stability and help to reduce the risk of injuries.

Squats will make your butt big. They will help to lift, firm and strengthen your glutes, if you are doing the exercise correctly.

The benefits of doing squats

They help build muscle … all over your body

Obviously doing squats help build nearly all of the muscles in your legs, including quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Squats also promote muscle building throughout the body by triggering the release of testosterone and human growth hormone, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas in both your upper and lower body.

Squats are a functional exercise

Functional exercises help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to do exercises on gym equipment. In addition to building muscle mass, squats promote mobility and balance.

Squats help you burn fat

When you build muscle you burn more calories, even when you’re at rest. For every pound of muscle you add, your body burns an additional 50-70 calories per day. If you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you’ll automatically burn 500-700 extra calories every day.

Help you prevent injuries

Squats help strengthen weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which are the most common victims of athletic injury. Squats help you prevent injury by improving your flexibility by improving the range of motion in your ankles and hips, as well as your balance.

Run fast, jump high

Studies have shown that squats help athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why it is part of virtually every professional athlete’s training program.

Squats help tone your backside, abs and more

The squat is an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs and legs. Building these muscles help to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which can help protect against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Help with metabolism

Squats help to make your body more efficient, especially in the way it pumps fluids, which helps in waste removal and nutrition delivery to tissues, organs and glands.

12
Feb
14

Eating right for eye health

The nutrients in certain foods are good for the health of certain organs or promote specific functions in your body. Fish is brain food. Tomatoes are good for the skin. Blueberries are good for the heart. Oatmeal helps with cholesterol.

But what about your eyes? Certainly there are specific foods that you should be eating to help your overall eye health.

Carrots

One of the stories nearly every kid heard growing up was that if you eat your carrots, they’ll have good eyesight. While seeing like a rabbit may or may not be a plus, it is a good way to get kids to eat carrots. The beta-carotene in carrots helps night vision.

Sweet potatoes

These orange spuds are also high in beta-carotene, so if you don’t like carrots, find a few recipes that use sweet potatoes.

Grapefruit and Orange Juice

Yes, Vitamin C is known to help the immune system, but it’s also been shown to help minimize the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. So drink up!

Other sources of Vitamin C

Citrus fruits aren’t the only source of Vitamin C. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red bell peppers and chili peppers are all excellent vegetable sources for Vitamin C. And there are some fruits, including kiwi, mango, papaya, strawberries and pineapple that contain more Vitamin C than a medium orange.

Nuts & seeds

Vitamin E is essential for protecting the cells from free radicals. It also slows the progression of cataracts and age-related macular generation. One ounce of sunflower seeds or almonds has more than a third of the daily allowance. Other sources of Vitamin E include wheat germ, hazelnuts and peanut butter.

Greens

A cup of cooked kale or spinach contains more than 20 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Collard and turnip greens are also good sources. Don’t like greens? Corn, green peas, broccoli, romaine lettuce and green beans can be included.

Fish

The fatty acids found in fish are essential for brain function and heart health, but they also help your eyes by helping with visual development, retinal function, and possibly protecting against dry eye. Look for natural, not farm raised fish like salmon and tuna.

Shellfish

Zinc is a mineral found in oysters, clams, shrimp and other shellfish. If you don’t get enough, you can develop poor night vision and possibly cataracts. Other sources of zinc include liver, red meat, poultry, whole grains and milk.

Legumes

Bulk dry legumes of all kinds – including black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lima beans – are excellent sources of zinc.

Eggs

In addition to being a good source of protein, the yolk is a prime source of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as zinc.

Tomatoes

Tomoatoes are packed with carotenoids, including lycopene, which helps give them their red color. Lycopene helps prevent light-induced damage to the retina and other areas of the eye. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is also necessary for overall eye health.

05
Feb
14

Common toxins found in practically every home

Toxins exist in the most common household products. The problem is, some don’t come with that skull and crossbones symbol to signify that they may be damaging to our health.

Ridding your home of these common toxins can save you money and protect your family’s health, while helping the environment.

BPA

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is so common it’s difficult for researchers to know what our biggest source of exposure is. It’s a chemical used in plastic used to make bottles, food containers and linings for cans commonly seen on supermarket shelves. BPA is linked to male infertility, diabetes, heart disease, aggressive behavior in children, and other maladies. To avoid BPA, choose fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, rather than the canned variety. Don’t store food or beverages in plastic containers.

Nonstick cookware and bakeware

You’ve seen the black surface of non-stick pots and pans. The black stuff is a chemical, and has been linked to ADHD, high cholesterol and thyroid disease, as well as potent sperm killers. Instead, choose safer cookware such as cast iron or stainless steel. By the way, make sure they’re made in America: the manufacturing process in other countries are not as regulated.

Antibacterial soap

Many health experts believe that overusing antibacterial chemicals is promoting the growth of bacteria resistant to antibacterial treatment. Most antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers contain a chemical called triclosan, which is believed to affect the thyroid and hormone levels in humans. Studies have shown regular soap and warm water will kill just as many germs as antibacterial soap. Read the label of your hand sanitizer and choose one that is alcohol-based and doesn’t contain triclosan.

Synthetic fragrances

Chemical fragrances are found in a number of products in your house. Look for the term “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label and try to avoid the product altogether. The chemicals used to produce fragrance are known carcinogens. Opt for unscented soaps and detergents. Air fresheners, deodorizers, scented candles, gels and lotions are also culprits. It will take some time and effort to eliminate synthetic fragrance from your home, but it will be worth it.

Harsh cleaning products

Again, become a label reader. The cleaners we use to “clean” surfaces can actually contaminate the air. Avoid cleaners that contain a long list of chemical compounds. Ammonia can trigger asthma attacks. Replace the cleaners with ecofriendly ones that have simple, natural ingredients. You can make a general cleaning solution of one part white vinegar and nine parts water that will kill 90 percent of bacteria and many spores. Need a glass cleaner? Mix one part white vinegar with one part water and use newspapers instead of paper towels to wipe the glass clean.

Vinyl

The toxins used in the production process of vinyl have brought some environmental health groups to call it the “poison plastic.” The effects on humans include hormone disruption, stunted growth, obesity, and various other health problems, as well as low IQs. When it’s time to replace flooring in your home, opt for wood, bamboo, cork or real linoleum instead of vinyl. You should also avoid plastic shower-curtain liners, as well as any kind of fake leather that may be found in furniture, clothing and accessories.

Flame retardants

The chemicals found in electronics, carpets, carpet padding, and furniture foam that make them flame-retardant have been associated with a wide range of health problems, including infertility, thyroid problems, learning disabilities and hormone disruption.