Fitness & Nutrition Blog

Ways To Recharge Your Mind, Body and Soul





Recharge yourself physically

Taking good care of your body can make it easier to recharge your mind. Being stressed can take a toll on your body, even if you don’t have a very physical job. You can help recharge your body with the following activities:


Take a warm bath

A warm bath can be relaxing. Try using Epsom salt in your bath. Epsom salt contains chemicals that are believed to remove toxins, improve muscle function, and reduce inflammation linked to stress.


Use an exfoliating scrub

Exfoliating scrubs can help recharge your body by improving blood circulation. Look for scrubs containing natural ingredients, such as oats or salt. Gently rub them onto wet skin and rinse off with warm water. Good circulation can help reduce your stress levels, boost your energy, and keep your body healthy.


Change your diet

Your energy levels are greatly impacted by your diet. Experts recommend a mix of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables, with lean proteins and healthy fat at each meal.

It’s possible to cook and eat nutritious meals, even if you have a busy schedule. If you need some help or inspiration, talk to your trainer, try looking at online sources  find a registered dietitian.


Stretch

A stressed, exhausted body is more prone to injury than one that’s relaxed and healthy. You can help recharge by stretching your muscles for just five minutes every few days. Better yet, take a yoga class once or twice a week for a thorough stretch.


Exercise

When you’re very exhausted, it can be tempting to just sit in front of the TV after a long day. But that usually just makes you feel more tired.

Instead of sitting down to recharge, try getting up and moving around. Walking or biking — even just for 20 minutes — can leave you feeling energized for hours.


Aromatherapy

Scents such as lavender and sage are believed to be particularly relaxing to those under stress. Some aromatherapy essential oils can be mixed with a carrier oil and massaged directly onto the body, rubbed on the wrists or diffused into the air.


Get more sleep

Sleep is the ultimate body recharger. Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night for healthy adults ages 26 to 64. Getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout at work.

Set up a healthy sleep schedule by going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day and following other healthy sleep habits. 


Get regular rest

In between sleep and activity, it’s important to allow your body to rest. According to experts, 60 to 90 minute naps can be a great energy booster. If you feel yourself getting too busy, schedule a nap into your day to help you recharge.


Recharge mentally

When it comes to recharging your personal battery, it’s important to pay attention to your mind. Thinking about the things that stress us out often makes it harder to recharge. Here are some things you can do to soothe and energize your mind:


Make a list of your accomplishments

It’s common to feel like you can’t keep up or are not doing enough. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down and jot down a short list of your accomplishments. This can give you motivation and energy to move forward.


Let go of past mistakes

A common source of stress comes from focusing on past mistakes. Help let go of the past by focusing on your goals for the future.


Do something fun

Having fun is an important part of staying mentally healthy. Taking a weekend trip, seeing old friends, or going out can help.


Take breaks from things and people that bring you down

If certain people or situations have you feeling down, take a break from them. This could mean putting certain relationships on hold until you have the energy to deal with them.


Spend time with close friends and family

Good people tend to radiate good energy. Recharge by spending more time with people who boost you up as opposed to those who bring you down.


Meditate or pray

Studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that meditation or prayer can help people find purpose in their lives if they feel down or stressed.


Avoid multitasking

Multitasking is a quick way to get stressed out. Instead of multitasking, which also makes you more prone to mistakes, try focusing on finishing one task at a time. Making a checklist can help you stay focused and keep track of what you’ve accomplished.


Take a break from technology

Others’ lives often seem “perfect” on social media, but they rarely are. Feeling like you have to live up to a certain expectation can be draining. Put social media on pause.


Do something artsy

Art is an excellent way to help soothe an exhausted mind. Take out some art supplies and draw or paint. Many bookstores also carry coloring books with complex patterns designed specifically as a stress reducer.


Write in a journal

Keeping a journal is a great way to help reduce stress by expressing your feelings. Try to write for at least five minutes a day, at the start or end of each day. Doing so can also help you sort through any problems you might be facing.


Why people feel drained sometimes

In most cases, exhaustion is caused by a busy or demanding lifestyle. Less often, exhaustion is caused by preexisting medical conditions that require treatment.

Most likely, your exhaustion is probably linked to:


too much or too little physical activity

jetlag or something else that confuses your circadian rhythm 

insomnia or lack of sleep

medications such as antihistamines and cough medicine

poor eating habits

stress

trauma

drug or alcohol use


If you’ve tried the methods above but still feel exhausted all the time, you may want to consider seeing a doctor. They can check for any underlying medical conditions that could be making you feel drained.


Takeaway

Making small adjustments to your lifestyle can translate to significant reductions in your stress levels. Recharge your personal battery by taking care of yourself physically and mentally. See a doctor if you still feel drained after taking steps to recharge.

Massage Therapy To Help With Stress



Here are just a few of the reasons massage therapy is so effective at melting away stress:

1. Stress affects more than just your mind. Research has found that stress affects every part of your body – when you carry too much tension, it seems natural that it can lead to muscle stiffness and pain. But what you might not realize is that, according to the Mayo Clinic, it’s also linked to headaches, fatigue, stomach problems, and difficulty sleeping. When you enjoy a relaxing massage session at our clinic, you’ll be doing your stressed-out body a favor.

2. Massage is the perfect way to lift your mood. Think about it – during times of high stress, do you ever find yourself feeling anxious or depressed? Do you have trouble relaxing and getting the rest you need? Is it hard to focus or get things done? Maybe you feel overwhelmed, or just unusually irritable. Whatever effect stress has on your mood, a massage is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ways to let your daily stress simply disappear.

3. Relieving stress can make it easier to meet your other goals for the year. Did you know that a startling 90% of people don’t end up keeping their resolutions each year? Part of the reason for that is that daily stress makes it hard for people to control their behavior. The Mayo Clinic has linked stress to overeating, drug and alcohol abuse, tobacco use and social withdrawal – it’s even a major reason people tend to slack on their exercise plan. Keeping your stress in check is one of the best ways to stay on track to meet your goals.

4. Have a chronic illness or injury? Massage therapy may help. Preliminary research has shown that massage therapy can even help patients manage the pain and stress of chronic health issues, including joint pain, sports injuries, soft tissue injuries, digestive disorders, and even hard-to-manage conditions like fibromyalgia. When combined with a treatment program from your regular physician, it can do wonders!

5. Massage therapy leads to a healthier heart. Research has shown that regular
massage therapy helps lower blood pressure and heart rate, reducing the strain on your heart and helping you maintain a healthier circulatory system. Whether you’re working to be healthier, or trying to stay in shape, massage is a powerful tool to help you reach your fitness goals.

Benefits and Tips for Cardio




In a nutshell, the term aerobic means "with oxygen." Aerobic exercise and activities are also called cardio, short for "cardiovascular." During aerobic activity, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. Your heart rate increases and you breathe faster and more deeply. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood and ultimately helps you use oxygen more efficiently.

How well you use oxygen is called your aerobic capacity. When your aerobic capacity is high, your heart, lungs and blood vessels efficiently deliver large amounts of oxygen throughout your body. As a result, you feel more energized and don't tire as quickly.
If you are a beginner to exercise, start with low to moderately intense cardio activities, so you can do them for long periods of time and gain many health benefits. Common examples include walking, bicycling, swimming, dancing and water aerobics, but don’t limit yourself: You can choose any activities you enjoy, such as canoeing, in-line skating, golfing or martial arts.

Benefits
If you haven’t gotten enough aerobic exercise, you may use your entire aerobic capacity while walking up a flight of stairs. You'll realize this when you get to the top and feel out of breath. But if you're fit, you'll have no problem because your aerobic capacity is greater. That’s just one example of how you can benefit from cardio exercise.

Cardio exercise and activities can also:
- Strengthen your heart and muscles
- Burn calories
- Help control your appetite
- Boost your mood through the release of endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals released by your brain
- Help you sleep better at night
- Reduce arthritis pain and stiffness through joint movement
- Help prevent or manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes

No matter what your age, aerobic exercise will help you in your daily activities and increase your stamina and endurance.

Start slowly
If you're a beginner, start slowly. You might walk five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. Gradually add a few minutes to each session and then pick up the pace a bit. Soon you could be walking briskly for 30 minutes a day. Also consider hiking, cycling, jogging, rowing, elliptical training — any activity that increases your breathing and heart rate.

Take a three-pronged approach
Include three elements in your workout:

Warm-up. Before each session, warm up for five to 10 minutes to gradually rev up your cardiovascular system and increase blood flow to your muscles. Try a low-intensity version of your planned activity. For example, if you plan to take a brisk walk, warm up by walking slowly.

Conditioning. At your own pace, work up to at least 30 minutes of cardio a day to develop your aerobic capacity by increasing your heart rate, depth of breathing and muscle endurance.

Cool-down. After each session, cool down for five to 10 minutes. Stretch your calf muscles, quadriceps (upper thighs), hamstrings, lower back and chest. This after-workout stretch allows your heart rate and muscles to return to normal.

Moderate activity should cause you to breathe faster and feel like you're working. But if you experience unusual pain or alarming symptoms during exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Best Foods For Lung Health



1. Beets and beet greens
The vibrantly colored root and greens of the beetroot plant contain compounds that optimize lung function.
Beetroot and beet greens are rich in nitrates, which have been shown to benefit lung function. Nitrates help relax blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, and optimize oxygen uptake.
Beetroot supplements have been shown to improve physical performance and lung function in people with lung conditions, including COPD and pulmonary hypertension, a disease that causes high blood pressure in the lungs.
Additionally, beet greens are packed with magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and carotenoid antioxidants — all of which are essential to lung health.

2. Peppers
Peppers are amongst the richest sources of vitamin C, a water-soluble nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body. Getting enough vitamin C is especially important for those who smoke.
In fact, due to the damaging effects of cigarette smoke on your body’s antioxidant stores, it’s recommended that people who smoke consume an extra 35 mg of vitamin C per day.
However, many studies show that smokers may benefit from higher doses of vitamin C and that smokers with high vitamin C intake have better lung function than those with lower vitamin C intake.
Consuming just one medium-sized (119-gram) sweet red pepper delivers 169% of the recommended intake for vitamin C.

3. Apples
Research has shown that regularly eating apples may help promote lung function.
For example, studies show that apple intake is associated with a slower decline in lung function in ex-smokers. Additionally, consuming five or more apples per week is associated with greater lung function and a reduced risk of developing COPD.
Apple intake has also been linked to a lower risk of asthma and lung cancer. This may be due to the high concentration of antioxidants in apples, including flavonoids and vitamin C.

4. Pumpkin
The brightly colored flesh of pumpkins contains a variety of lung-health-promoting plant compounds. They’re especially rich in carotenoids, including beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin — all of which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies show that having higher blood levels of carotenoids is associated with better lung function in both older and younger populations.
People who smoke may significantly benefit from consuming more carotenoid-rich foods like pumpkin.
Evidence suggests that smokers may have 25% lower concentrations of carotenoid antioxidants than nonsmokers, which can harm lung health.

5. Turmeric
Turmeric is often used to promote overall health due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin, the main active component in turmeric, may be especially beneficial for supporting lung function.
A study in 2,478 people found that curcumin intake was associated with improved lung function. Plus, the lung function of smokers who had the highest intake of curcumin was significantly greater than smokers who had low curcumin intake.
In fact, high curcumin intake in smokers was associated with 9.2% greater lung function, compared with smokers who did not consume curcumin.

6. Tomato and tomato products 
Tomatoes and tomato products are among the richest dietary sources of lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that has been associated with improved lung health.
Consuming tomato products has been shown to reduce airway inflammation in people with asthma and improve lung function in people with COPD.
A 2019 study in 105 people with asthma demonstrated that a diet rich in tomatoes was associated with a lower prevalence of poorly controlled asthma. Plus, tomato intake is also associated with a slower decline in lung function in ex-smokers.

7. Blueberries 
Blueberries are loaded with nutrients, and their consumption has been associated with a number of health benefits, including protecting and preserving lung function.
Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, including malvidin, cyanidin, peonidin, delphinidin, and petunidin.
Anthocyanins are powerful pigments that have been shown to protect lung tissue from oxidative damage.
A study in 839 veterans found that blueberry intake was associated with the slowest rate of decline in lung function and that consuming 2 or more servings of blueberries per week slowed lung function decline by up to 38%, compared with low or no blueberry intake.

8. Green tea
Green tea is a beverage that has impressive effects on health. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a catechin concentrated in green tea. It boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to inhibit fibrosis or scarring of tissues.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease characterized by progressive, lung-function-compromising scarring of lung tissue. Some research shows that EGCG may help treat this disease.
A small 2020 study in 20 people with pulmonary fibrosis found that treatment with EGCG extract for 2 weeks reduced markers of fibrosis, compared with a control group.

9. Red cabbage 
Red cabbage is an affordable and rich source of anthocyanins. These plant pigments give red cabbage its vivid color. Anthocyanin intake has been linked to a reduced decline in lung function.
What’s more, cabbage is packed with fiber. Studies show that people who consume more fiber have better lung function than those who consume low amounts of fiber.

10. Edamame
Edamame beans contain compounds called isoflavones. Diets rich in isoflavones have been associated with a reduced risk of numerous diseases, including COPD.
A study in 618 Japanese adults found that people with COPD had much lower intakes of dietary isoflavones, compared with healthy control groups. What’s more, isoflavone intake was significantly associated with better lung function and reduced shortness of breath.

11. Olive oil
Consuming olive oil may help protect against respiratory conditions like asthma. Olive oil is a concentrated source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, including polyphenols and vitamin E, which are responsible for its powerful health benefits.
For example, a study that included 871 people found that those who had high olive oil intake had a reduced risk of asthma.
What’s more, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, has been shown to benefit lung function in smokers, as well as people with COPD and asthma.

12. Oysters
Oysters are loaded with nutrients that are essential to lung health, including zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and copper.
Studies show that people with higher blood levels of selenium and copper have greater lung function, compared with those with lower levels of these nutrients.
Additionally, oysters are an excellent source of B vitamins and zinc, nutrients that are especially important for people who smoke.
Smoking depletes certain B vitamins, including vitamin B12, which is concentrated in oysters. What’s more, studies show that higher zinc intake may help protect smokers from developing COPD.

13. Yogurt
Yogurt is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. According to research, these nutrients may help boost lung function and protect against COPD risk.
A study in Japanese adults found that higher intakes of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium were associated with increased lung function markers, and those with the highest calcium intake had a 35% reduced risk of COPD.

14. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are amongst the richest sources of selenium that you can eat. A single Brazil nut may contain over 150% of the recommended intake for this important nutrient, though concentrations vary significantly depending on growing conditions.
Studies show that a high selenium intake may help protect against lung cancer, improve respiratory function in people with asthma, and enhance antioxidant defenses and immune function, which may help improve lung health.
Because Brazil nuts are such a concentrated source of selenium, it’s recommended to keep your intake to just one or two nuts per day.

15. Coffee
In addition to boosting your energy levels, your morning cup of joe may help protect your lungs. Coffee is packed with caffeine and antioxidants, which may be beneficial for lung health.
Research shows that coffee intake may help improve lung function and protect against respiratory diseases. For example, caffeine acts as a vasodilator, meaning it helps open blood vessels, and it may help reduce symptoms in people with asthma, at least in the short term.
Additionally, a review of 15 studies found that long-term coffee intake was associated with positive effects on lung function and a reduced risk of asthma.

16. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a dark leafy green that’s high in magnesium. Magnesium helps protect against inflammation, and it helps bronchioles — tiny airways inside your lungs — stay relaxed, preventing airway restriction.
Higher magnesium intake has been associated with better lung function in a number of studies. What’s more, low magnesium levels are associated with worsening symptoms in people with COPD.
Additionally, many studies have linked greater intake of leafy green vegetables like Swiss chard to a reduced risk of lung cancer and COPD.

17. Barley
Barley is a nutritious whole grain that’s high in fiber. High fiber diets rich in whole grains have been shown to have a protective effect on lung function and may reduce the risk of mortality from lung-related diseases.
The antioxidants found in whole grains like flavonoids and vitamin E also promote lung health and protect against cellular damage.

18. Anchovies
Anchovies are tiny fish that are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, as well as other lung-health-promoting nutrients like selenium, calcium, and iron.
Eating omega-3-rich fish like anchovies may be particularly beneficial for people with inflammatory lung diseases like COPD. A 2020 study found that a higher intake of omega-3 fats was associated with reduced COPD symptoms and improved lung function.
What’s more, consuming an omega-3-rich diet may help reduce symptoms in people with asthma.

19. Lentils 
Lentils are high in many nutrients that help support lung function, including magnesium, iron, copper, and potassium.
The Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with promoting lung health, is high in legumes like lentils.
Research has shown that following a Mediterranean dietary pattern can preserve lung function in people who smoke. Plus, eating fiber-rich lentils may help protect against lung cancer and COPD.

20. Cocoa
Cocoa and cacao products like dark chocolate are high in flavonoid antioxidants and contain a compound called theobromine, which helps relax the airways in the lungs.
Cocoa intake has been associated with a lower risk of allergic respiratory symptoms and may help protect against lung cancer.
Additionally, a study that included 55,000 people found that those with higher flavonoid consumption from foods, including chocolate products, had better lung function than people who had diets low in flavonoids.

The bottom line
Consuming a diet high in nutritious foods and beverages is a smart way to support and protect lung health.  
Coffee, dark leafy greens, fatty fish, peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, oysters, blueberries, and pumpkin are just some examples of foods and drinks that have been shown to benefit lung function.
Try incorporating a few of the foods and beverages listed above into your diet to help support the health of your lungs.

Eat Fiber For A Happier Gut



Get fierce with fiber
It’s easy to get caught up in counting calories and grams of added sugars, fats, proteins, and carbs when you’re trying to eat well. But there’s one nutrient that too often gets thrown to the wayside: dietary fiber.

Scientists have long known that eating fiber is good for health. Decades ago, Irish physician (and fiber enthusiast) Denis Burkitt proclaimed, “America is a constipated nation… if you pass small stools, you have to have large hospitals.” And yet, years later, many of us are still ignoring our fiber intake.

American adults are only eating an average of 15 grams of fiber on any given day, despite the daily recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics being:
25 grams for women, or 21 grams if over 50 years old
38 grams for men, or 30 grams if over 50

Recently, however, fiber has popped up in headlines thanks to people like journalist Megyn Kelly and model Molly Sims, who have both credited their physiques on mainlining roughage. And more importantly, new research has been shedding more light on how fiber helps our bodies. This nutrient has been linked to fending off disease and reducing the risk of a range of conditions, including type 2 diabetes, food allergies and even knee arthritis. 

Star-studded endorsements aside, it’s not about eating a “high-fiber” diet as much as it’s simply this: Eat more fiber. Fiber does more than contributing to weight loss and reducing the risk of disease.

Losing out on those recommended fiber grams per day may significantly change the way your gut functions. It could even make a difference between weight loss or none, and longer life or not.

What we know about fiber today
Many studies have strongly linked high-fiber diets with longer and healthier lives. For example, Dr. Burkitt, as mentioned above, found in the 1960s that Ugandans who ate high-fiber vegetable diets avoided many of the common diseases of Europeans and Americans. In addition, studies in the late ’80s found that long-living rural Japanese populations ate high-fiber diets, as opposed to urban dwellers with lower fiber intakes.

But only recently have we gained a deeper understanding of why fiber is so vital to our well-being.

A 2017 study found that the importance of fiber is intimately tied with the importance of our gut microbes. A proper fiber diet literally feeds and makes these bacteria thrive. In turn, they increase in number and kind. The more microbes we have in our intestines, the thicker the mucus wall and the better the barrier between our body and our busy bacteria population. While the mucus barrier lowers inflammation throughout the body, the bacteria aid in digestion, creating a dual benefit.

A living, walking example of the great connection between fiber, intestinal bacteria, and health are the Hazda, a Tanzanian tribe that’s one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer communities in the world. They eat a spectacular 100 grams of fiber a day, all from food sources that are seasonally available. As a result, their gut biome is packed with diverse populations of bacteria, which ebb and flow with the changing of the seasons and the changes in their diet.

Your biome can change by the season, by the week, or even by the meal. And if you eat a large array of fresh fruits, grains, and vegetables, your gut health will reflect that. Eating low-fiber foods,  or eating only a few types of fiber — such as the same fiber supplement every day — can harm your intestinal biome and the health of your protective mucus wall.

However, eating too much fiber can cause digestive distress, gas, and intestinal blockages. The good news is that it’s hard to get too much fiber, especially since most people don’t get enough. Slowly ramping up your fiber intake can help you avoid some of the above problems. Not overdoing it will help you avoid the rest.

How to eat fiber like they do in Yuzurihara and Tanzania
So how can we ditch our constipated ways and eat more in line with how our bodies have evolved to function alongside our gut biomes? While there are two types of fiber —  soluble fiber and insoluble fiber — high-fiber enthusiasts are all about both types. Each kind has its own functions and benefits. Getting both is key to getting the most out of this nutrient.

Here are some quick tips to build a thriving and diverse gut biome and reap the long-term benefits of a fiber-friendly diet:
Fruits and vegetables are always your friend
Fiber is naturally found in all fruits and vegetables. You can’t really go wrong by adding these components to your daily regime. In fact, one study found that simply eating an apple before every meal had significant health benefits.

Eat what’s in season
The Hazda have a diverse gut in part by eating seasonally. Always check out your grocery store’s fresh, in-season fruits and veggies. Not only are they great for you, but they also often taste better and are less expensive than what’s out of season.

Processed foods usually mean less fiber
Refined foods that don’t contain whole grains or whole wheat are also lower in fiber. This includes white bread and regular pasta. Juicing is also processed in a sense, since it removes the insoluble fiber from your food. The result is that you lose fiber’s benefits — especially its important job of regulating digestion and keeping blood sugar from spiking.

Be thoughtful at restaurants
Restaurants, especially fast-food joints, often skimp on fruits and veggies because they’re expensive. When looking at the menu, be sure to pick something rich in fruit, veggies, and beans or legumes that will help you meet your fiber goals for the day.

Toss a high-fiber component into your meal
Next time you have a piece of pizza, make sure to munch on a handful of snap peas on the side, or add some multigrain crackers if you’re eating soup for lunch. Eating a high-fiber snack  before your meal can also mean eating fewer calories altogether, because you’ll feel more full.

Don’t forget beans, peas, and lentils
We often remember to eat our fruits and veggies, but legumes are a wonderful and delicious source of fiber. Try a recipe that puts legumes in the spotlight, like a three-bean vegetarian chili or a lentil salad.

Make sure fiber starts at breakfast
Most traditional breakfast foods, like eggs and bacon, lack fiber. Integrate fiber into the first meal of your day by eating oatmeal or a whole-grain cereal. You can also simply add a piece of fruit to your regular fare. Eating yogurt for breakfast? Add sliced fruit and nuts.

Explore the world of whole grains
Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some amaranth, bulgur, pearl barley, or wheat berries and start exploring. Other good high-fiber choices are quinoa (a seed) or whole-wheat couscous (a pasta).

Skip the fiber supplements
Fiber supplements can give you a small boost, but the benefits of getting your fiber from whole foods are much greater. What’s more, people taking fiber supplements might not be pairing them with high-nutrient foods. This causes rather than solves health issues.

Too much of a good thing
Just like most things, fiber isn’t great in extremely high quantities. Focusing too much on one aspect of your nutrient intake is neither sustainable nor healthy, either. Try tracking your fiber intake for a few weeks to see if you’re getting enough, then tinker with your intake to see if eating a little more improves how you feel.

Fiber is fabulous without the fad
At this point, there’s enough science out there to strongly suggest something you’ve likely heard before: Eating a robust variety of minimally processed fruits and veggies along with other plant-based foods is a great way to stay healthy and control your weight — and the fiber in these foods is likely a central reason why they’re so great for our bodies. So go forth and repopulate more varieties of bacteria in your gut!

How To Keep Your Balance As You Age




Before your mid-sixties, most people don’t think much about their balance, but this lack of attention could be harmful. Every year, one in three people over age 65 fall; and in 2009, more than 20,000 people in that age group died from falls. In fact, balance begins to decline progressively in your twenties unless steps are taken to prevent it.
The good news is, working on your balance as you age can pay major dividends in the long run. Just like cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart, your body needs exercises to practice balance. Otherwise, you’ll slowly lose the ability to balance. Fortunately, some of these exercises are so simple you can practice them while you brush your teeth.
One-foot balance
When was the last time you stood on one foot for more than two seconds? Try it for ten seconds then switch to the next foot. You can do this for several rotations in a two-minute tooth-brushing session.
Sit and stand
Besides helping with balance, this acts as a leg strengthener as well. Sit upright in a chair with your knees bent in a 90-degree angle. Fold your arms in front of you, and slowly stand up without the help of your hands. Sit down gradually again and repeat this several times.
Walk the balance beam
Walk heel to toe across the floor like you are walking along a balance beam. You may feel silly, but this simple exercise can go a long way.
Lunges
With your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart, step forward on one leg. As you do so, bend both knees until the front thigh is parallel to the floor and the lower leg is bent 90 degrees. Walk around the room doing this.
Learn Tai Chi
Originally a Chinese martial art, this ancient practice involves slow, balanced, low-impact movements done in sequences; it builds confidence, coordination, muscle strength and all-around fitness.  The International Taoist Tai Chi Society can help you find instruc­tors and classes in your area.
Yoga
Like Tai Chi, Yoga is a gentle way to practice balance. It also has huge benefits in strength training and flexibility: all health benefits that are extremely important as the body ages. 
Mini trampoline
If you’re particularly unstable, this is not the best exercise to start with, but some studies show jumping on a mini trampoline increased the ability to regain footing in a forward fall for older individuals.
There are some aspects of aging that can’t be avoided, but by practicing these habits, maintaining balance is one you can proactively fight.   

What Is The Fat Burning Zone?




What Is the Fat-Burning Zone?
When it comes to exercise, particularly cardio exercise, there are different heart-rate zones that equate to different levels of intensity. These levels actually determine which energy systems your body uses during exercise, and that often directly affects how many calories you burn.


There are four different training zones and each is a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR), the maximum number of times your heart can beat in a minute:

Low intensity, also known as the "fat-burning zone," is 50% to 70% of your MHR. It's usually considered light cardio or a warm-up level.

Moderate intensity is 70% to 80% of your MHR. At this level, you'll be working out but still be able to talk. 

High intensity is 80% to 90% of your MHR. This usually puts you well out of your comfort zone and pushes you to your anaerobic threshold,  which is when your cardiovascular system can't deliver oxygen to your muscles fast enough. 

Maximum effort is 90% to 100% of your MHR, something that even the most highly trained athletes can't maintain for more than a few minutes.  


The Truth About Your Fat-Burning Zone
From these numbers, you can see that the fat-burning zone is the lowest intensity. So why is it called the fat-burning zone? Because the body relies on more stored fat (versus carbs) as its primary fuel source when you work at a lower intensity compared to a higher intensity.

Some people have translated this to mean that you actually burn more fat when you work at a lower intensity, but that's a bit of a misconception. In reality, picking up the pace will torch more total calories—and ultimately more fat—in less time. And it's the number of calories you burn overall that leads to the most weight (and fat) loss.

To give you an example, the chart below details both the total calories and the fat calories expended by a 130-pound woman during cardio exercise.
As you'll see, the woman burns more total calories and more fat calories when working out at a higher intensity.

Low Intensity (60 percent to 65 percent MHR)High Intensity (80 percent to 85 percent MHR)
Total calories expended per minute4.866.86
Fat calories expended per minute2.432.7
Total calories expended in 30 minutes146206
Total fat calories expended in 30 minutes7382
Percentage of fat calories burned50%39.85%

While lower-intensity workouts are great for beginners and for building endurance, you need to work harder during some workouts if you really want to burn fat and lose weight.

The Case for Low-Intensity Exercise
Now, this isn't to say that low-intensity exercise doesn't have its place, especially if you're just starting out and can't sustain a faster pace. If you go slower, you may be able to exercise a lot longer, so you'll end up burning more calories and fat that way. 

Even for more advanced exercisers, endurance workouts should be a staple of a complete fitness program along with shorter, higher-intensity workouts or interval workouts.  A type of training in which you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods, intervals are proven to increase fitness and burn more calories than you would when doing the same thing during your whole workout.


Structuring Your Cardio Workouts
If you want to lose weight, a general cardio schedule would include workouts at a variety of intensities within your target heart rate zone.  If you're doing five cardio workouts a week, you might have one high-intensity workout, one lower-intensity workout, and three somewhere in the middle.


Sample Cardio Workout Program for Beginners
A beginner cardio program lets you slowly build endurance while getting you a bit out of your comfort zone. That way you don't have to spend an entire workout miserable, yet you'll still challenge yourself, which will burn more calories.

Below is a sample program that will help get you started. 

DayWorkout/IntensityLength
MondayBeginner-Interval WorkoutUp to 21 minutes
TuesdayLow-Intensity Walking10 to 20 minutes
WednesdayRest
ThursdayCardio-Endurance WorkoutUp to 35 minutes
FridayRest
SaturdayInterval Training Level 2Up to 25 minutes
SundayLow-Intensity Walking10 to 20 minutes

The key is to start with what you can handle and slowly build from there. If you're just getting started, don't worry too much about how hard you're working. Focus more on making exercise a habit you can manage on a regular basis.

Exercise Changes You At A Molecular Level




Exercise is good for you, this we know. It helps build muscle, burn fat and make us all into happier, healthier people. But long before you start looking the way you want, there are other hidden, more immediate, molecular and immunological changes taking place inside your cells. Changes which could be responsible for protecting us from heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes – and even steve off old age and cancer. 

You may think that “molecular” changes may not be that much of a big deal. Surely it is fat loss and muscle gain that are the best outcomes of exercise? Actually molecular changes affect the way genes and proteins are controlled inside cells. Genes can become more or less active, while proteins can be rapidly modified to function differently and carry out tasks such as moving glucose into cells more efficiently, or protect cells from harmful toxins.

Type 2 diabetes causes all kinds of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage, and may lead to limb amputation. The underlying cause is the development of a heightened inflammatory state in the body’s tissue and cells. This damages cells and can eventually lead to insulin resistance and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes.

The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, we have found that even low intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, can increase the body’s insulin sensitivity. This means that people at risk of developing diabetes become less prone because they are able to metabolize glucose more efficiently.

In our study, we asked 20 sedentary people who were at risk of developing diabetes to walk briskly for 45 minutes, three times a week, for eight weeks. Although there was no change in their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol level, on average each participant lost a significant six centimeters from their waist circumference. And, more importantly, there was a reduction in their diabetic risk.

Immune system benefits
Interestingly, there were also exercise-induced changes in the participants’ monocytes – an important immune cell that circulates in the bloodstream. This led to a reduction in the body’s inflammatory state, one of the main risks for type 2 diabetes.

When our body is under attack from foreign invaders such as microbes, immune cells such as monocytes change into “microbe-eating” macrophages. Their main function is to fight infection in our tissues and lungs. There are two main types of macrophages, M1 and M2. M1 macrophages are associated with pro-inflammatory responses and are necessary for aggressively fighting off infections. However, in obese people who do not exercise, these cells become active even in the absence of infection. This can lead to an unwanted, heightened inflammatory condition which may “trigger” diabetes.

On the other hand, M2 macrophages play a role in “switching-off” inflammation and are instrumental in "damping-down" the more aggressive M1s. So a healthy balance of M1 and M2 macrophages is crucial to maintain an optimal immune response for fighting infections – and it may help prevent the heightened inflammatory condition which comes from lack of exercise and obesity too.

Other studies have also shown that exercise has a beneficial impact on tissues’ immune cell function and can reduce unnecessary inflammation. Exercise training in obese individuals has been found to reduce the level of tissue inflammation specifically because there are less macrophage cells present in fat tissue.

In addition, researchers have found a significant link between exercise and the balance of M1 and M2 macrophages. It has been shown that acute exercise in obese rats resulted in a shift from the “aggressive” M1 macrophages to the more “passive” M2 – and that this reduction in the inflammatory state correlated with an improvement in insulin resistance.

Time to move
There is no definitive answer as to how much and what intensity of exercise is necessary to protect us from diabetes. Though some researchers have shown that while higher-intensity exercise improves overall fitness, there is little difference  between high and low-intensity exercise in improving insulin sensitivity.

However, a new study has found that all forms of aerobic exercise – in particular high-intensity interval training such as cycling and running – can effectively stop aging at the cellular level. The exercise caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes. Researchers also observed that these “molecular” changes occurring at the gene and protein levels happened very quickly after exercise and that the effects prevented damage to important proteins in the cells and improve the way in which insulin functions.

Although you might not see the changes you want immediately, even gentle exercise can make a big difference to the way the body’s cells behave. This means that exercise could have far-reaching health benefits for other inflammatory associated diseases and possibly protect us against aging and cancer too.

Why Do We Need Water Filters



Sediment Removal
Mechanical filters are used to remove leaves and other debris from water, along with dirt, silt and clay particles in water. Mechanical filters may be made from metal screens, fabric, ceramic or paper. These impurities, called sediment, can cause an unpleasant taste but aren't usually a health risk. Most home water filtration units use replaceable paper filters that screen out fine sediment.

Reducing Minerals
Iron and other minerals, such as calcium and manganese, are not hazardous to human health, but they can cause drinking water to taste metallic or just unpleasant. Iron or manganese can cause clothing stains on when wash water contains these elements, and they can even discolor porcelain and other dishes washed in the mineral-rich water. These minerals can build up in water pipes, gradually clogging them and reducing water pressure, possibly causing plumbing problems.

Pathogen Removal
Filtering water is essential to keep harmful bacteria and parasites from drinking water. Giardiasis is a type of illness that causes diarrhea and can last as long as six weeks. The microscopic parasite that causes the disease is Giardia intenstinalis, an organism that can survive in the environment for many months. It can be ingested from water that has become contaminated with animal or human feces. Another parasite that can cause similar symptoms is cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine and must be filtered out with mechanical filters. These pathogens are effectively removed by passing water through filters listed as micro-, ultra- and nano-filters.

Lowering Chlorine
Most municipal water utility companies use chlorine to treat drinking water because it's inexpensive, easy to use and highly effective at killing many of the bacteria found in water. It can also eliminate some viruses. While it's a good disinfectant, chlorine can make drinking water smell and taste unpleasant, and it can also react with some metals to form hazardous compounds. An activated carbon filter removes the chlorine smell and taste from water.

Removing Dangerous Lead
Lead is toxic when ingested, and it's essential to remove it from drinking water. Lead commonly gets into drinking water when it seeps into the water supply from old plumbing pipes or the solder used to join them together. It can be removed from water through reverse osmosis filters, distillation and carbon filters designed specifically to remove the metal. If you rely on well water, health agencies recommend that you have your well tested at least once a year for lead and other contaminants.

Pesticide and Chemical Removal
Before the 1940s most common pesticides contained heavy metals that did not readily dissolve in water, but today pesticide residue in drinking water may be on the rise because modern organic pesticides dissolve in water and can easily get into the water supply. Activated carbon filters can remove pesticides and volatile organic compounds from drinking water.

Benefits and Safety Tips For Stretching



1. Increases your flexibility
Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.

2. Increases your range of motion
Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
One study found that both static and dynamic stretching are effective when it comes to increasing range of motion, although proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation PNF - type stretching, where you stretch a muscle to its limit, may be more effective for immediate gains.

3. Improves your performance in physical activities
Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity. It may also help improve your performance in an athletic event or exercise.

4. Increases blood flow to your muscles
Performing stretches on a regular basis may improve your circulation. Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness (also known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS).

5. Improves your posture
Muscle imbalances are common and can lead to poor posture. One study found that a combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment. That, in turn, may help improve your posture.

6. Helps to heal and prevent back pain
Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.
A regular stretching routine can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.

7. Is great for stress relief
When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

8. Can calm your mind
Participating in a regular stretching program not only helps increase your flexibility, but it can also calm your mind. While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break.

9. Helps decrease tension headaches
Tension and stress headaches can interfere with your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.
Stretching techniques
There are several types of stretching techniques, including:
dynamic
static
ballistic
PNF
passive
active stretching

The most common forms of stretches are static and dynamic:

Static stretches involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for a period of time, typically between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise.

Dynamic stretches are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the stretch is not held in the end position. These stretches are usually done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement.

Tips
Use dynamic stretches before exercise to prepare your muscles.
Use static stretches after exercise to reduce your risk for injury.

How to start a stretching routine
If you’re new to a regular stretching routine, take it slow. Just like other forms of physical activity, your body needs time to get used to the stretches you’re performing.
You also need a solid grasp of proper form and technique. Otherwise, you risk getting injured.

You can stretch any time during the day. On days you exercise:
aim for 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching prior to your activity
do another 5 to 10 minutes of static or PNF stretching after your workout
On days when you aren’t exercising, still plan to schedule at least 5 to 10 minutes of time for stretching. This can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness and pain.

When stretching, focus on the major areas of your body that help with mobility, such as your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps. For upper-body relief, try moves that stretch the shoulders, neck, and lower back.
Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and avoid bouncing.
You can stretch after each workout or athletic event, or daily after your muscles are warmed up. 

Risks and safety tips
Stretching may not always be safe:
If you have an acute or existing injury, only perform stretches recommended by your doctor.
If you have a chronic or nagging injury, consider talking with a sports medicine specialist or physical therapist to design a stretching protocol that fits your needs.
If you have any physical limitations that prevent you from properly performing a stretching exercise, consult your doctor for alternative exercises that can help increase your flexibility.

Regardless of your fitness level, there are a few standard safety tips for stretching that you should follow:
Don’t bounce. Years ago, ballistic stretching was thought to be the best way to increase flexibility. Now, experts suggest you avoid bouncing unless these types of stretches have been recommended to you by a doctor or physical therapist.
Don’t stretch beyond the point of comfort. While it’s normal to feel some tension when stretching a muscle, you should never feel pain. If the area you are stretching starts to hurt, back off the stretch until you don’t feel any discomfort.
Don’t overdo it. Like other forms of exercise, stretching puts stress on your body. 

If you’re stretching the same muscle groups multiple times a day, you risk over-stretching and causing damage.

Don’t go into your stretches cold. Cold muscles are not as pliable, which makes stretching a lot more difficult. The best time to stretch is after you work out, but if you’re not exercising before performing your stretches, consider warming up for 5 to 10 minutes with some light cardio, such as walking or jogging.

The takeaway:
Whether you're new to exercise or a seasoned athlete, you can benefit from a regular stretching routine.  By incorporating 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic and static stretches into your daily workout, you can increase your range of motion, improve posture, and ease your mind. 



How To Get Started On A Plant Based Diet

Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

Mediterranean and vegetarian diets
What is the evidence that plant-based eating patterns are healthy? Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based foods; it also includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt a few times a week, with meats and sweets less often.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function.

Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity.

Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. However, some vegans may need to add a supplement (specifically vitamin B12) to ensure they receive all the nutrients required.

Vegetarian diet variety
Vegetarian diets come in lots of shapes and sizes, and you should choose the version that works best for you.
Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian includes eggs, dairy foods, and occasionally meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
Pescatarian includes eggs, dairy foods, fish, and seafood, but no meat or poultry.
Vegetarian (sometimes referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarian) includes eggs and dairy foods, but no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.
Vegan includes no animal foods.

8 ways to get started with a plant-based diet
Here are some tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet.
1. Eat lots of vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include plenty of colors in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
2. Change the way you think about meat. Have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
3. Choose good fats. Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
4. Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week. Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
5. Include whole grains for breakfast. Start with oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley. Then add some nuts or seeds along with fresh fruit.
6. Go for greens. Try a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens each day. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve their flavor and nutrients.
7. Build a meal around a salad. Fill a bowl with salad greens such as romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables along with fresh herbs, beans, peas, or tofu.
8. Eat fruit for dessert. A ripe, juicy peach, a refreshing slice of watermelon, or a crisp apple will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal.
Inspiration for plant-based eating throughout the day.

Over time, eating a plant-based diet will become second nature. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Breakfast:
Rolled oats with walnuts, banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Breakfast wrap: Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with scrambled egg, black beans, peppers, onions, Monterey jack cheese, and a splash of hot sauce or salsa.
Whole-wheat English muffin topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices, and blueberries.

Lunch:
Greek salad: Chopped mixed greens with fresh tomato, Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, crumbled feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Whole-wheat pita on the side, fresh melon for dessert.
Tomato basil soup, whole-grain crackers with tabbouleh, and an apple.
Vegetarian pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, and mushroom. Fresh strawberries for dessert.

Dinner:
Grilled vegetable kabobs with grilled tofu, and a quinoa and spinach salad.
Whole-wheat pasta with cannellini beans and peas, and a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Vegetarian chili with a spinach-orzo salad.

Healthy Morning Habits



Developing healthy habits is on everyone’s agenda but following through with our good intentions is harder than it seems, especially when you’re busy. The good news is that the less time intensive and complicated a habit is, the more likely we are to stick to it. Research shows that people maintain healthy habits when these are small and manageable changes to one’s lifestyle.

1. Stretch
Our feline friends do it naturally after waking up from slumber but the practice isn’t common enough in humans, which is a shame! A simple stretch in the morning can  improve  your posture,  reduce chronic back pain, increase blood flow to your brain for better focus, and energize you all at once. Plus, stretching right after you roll out of bed gives you time to reconnect to yourself and wake up gently.
Experts from the American College of Sports Medicine suggest focusing on hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and chest muscles as these are the most commonly tight and stiff muscles. Hold each stretch 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times on each side of your body. As a rule of thumb, you should feel a slight pull, being careful not to stretch to a painful point.
If starting a stretching routine sounds intimidating, don’t fret! The key is to do what feels right to you. Less than five minutes is more than enough to start reaping benefits from working on your flexibility every day.

2. Have a Cup of Tea
Whether you enjoy green tea, a classic English Breakfast tea, or the trendy chai, forming the habit of having a cup every morning is a good idea. Packed with antioxidants named Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) or catechins, tea leaves hold healing power. They fight free-radicals in our bodies to relieve inflammation, prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurological decline.
Drinking tea as part of your morning rituals is also a good way to wake up gently as it promotes mental alertness without giving you a headache later on. Tea helps with digestive issues as well, and will get things moving so you can start your day feeling light and energized.

3. Get Some Sunshine
Getting a good dose of sunshine right when you wake up — whether by going outside for a short walk or having breakfast in a room with an east-facing window — is one of the easiest and most rewarding morning habits to get into.
Natural light is beneficial to regulate our circadian rhythms especially in the morning hours. It promotes wakefulness by stimulating the neurotransmitters involved with arousal in our brain. Exposure to light is also important to the production of melatonin an hormone essential to proper and restful sleep. How well you sleep at night can be determined as soon as you wake up!

4. Get Creative
Using our imagination and taking the time for creative pursuits is not something most of us are eager to do when we’re fighting with the snooze button but research says that early mornings are actually the best time to give our brains a bit of a workout.
Think of it this way: the demands put upon us during our day require us to make choices, use our willpower, and exercise our focus, all of which are tiring and weaken our ability to be creative. Getting our creative juices flowing not long after we wake up is a good way to seize upon those brain sources before our energies are depleted.
It also turns out this time of day is when our prefrontal cortex is most active. This brain area is closely related to artistic creativity and divergent thinking, or finding new ideas to solve problems.
Instead of scrolling through social media in the morning, why not try stream-of-consciousness journaling or mindlessly doodling for a few minutes while eating breakfast?

5. Eat a Piece of Fruit
Want to have a strong immune system, fight inflammation, get restful sleep, be full of energy, and have good skin?  Consuming fruit on a daily basis can help with all of that!
As the most important meal of the day, breakfast is the perfect time to incorporate at least one of our ‘5 a day’, especially as research shows that our ability to make healthy food choices weakens as the day goes on. Eating a good breakfast with the inclusion of at least one piece of fruit is an easy way to make sure that you get the necessary nutrients and antioxidants your body needs to thrive.

6. Add Chia Seeds to Your Breakfast
These seeds may be tiny, but their health benefits are not. Packed with omega-3s, fiber, a ton of micronutrients (potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and manganese), and antioxidants, chia seeds are good for digestion, regulating blood glucose, and preventing major diseases.

7. Take Your Vitamin B12
Whether you eat a plant-based diet or not, supplementing with vitamin B12 is a good idea. Far from being a vegan issue, it is estimated that up to 30% of the population is deficient in this vitamin.
Essential for maintaining the insulation of our nerve cells to protect our neurological and cognitive functions, vitamin B12 is also responsible for breaking down amino acids and fatty acids to supply our bodies with energy.

While You Are Sleeping



Sleep is essential for good health. In fact, we need sleep to survive — just like we need food and water. So, it’s no wonder that we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping.
Many biological processes happen during sleep:

- The brain stores new information and gets rid of toxic waste.
- Nerve cells communicate and reorganize, which supports healthy brain function.
- The body repairs cells, restores energy, and releases molecules like hormones and proteins.

These processes are critical for overall health. Without them, your body can’t function correctly.
Let’s take a closer look at why you sleep, along with what happens if you don’t get enough.

Why do you need to sleep?
A lot is still unknown about the purpose of sleep. However, it’s widely accepted that there isn’t just one explanation for why we need to sleep. It’s likely necessary for many biological reasons.
To date, scientists have found that sleep helps the body in several ways. The most prominent theories and reasons are outlined below.

Energy conservation
According to the energy conservation theory, we need sleep to save energy. This concept is backed by the way our metabolic rate drops during sleep.
It’s also said this happens because the body needs less energy at night, when it’s inconvenient to find food.

Cellular restoration
Another theory, called the restorative theory, says the body needs sleep to restore itself.
The idea is that sleep allows cells to repair and regrow. This is supported by many important processes that happen during sleep, including:

- muscle repair
- protein synthesis
- tissue growth
- hormone release

Brain function
The brain plasticity theory, says sleep is required for brain function. Specifically, it allows your neurons, or nerve cells, to reorganize.

When you sleep, your brain’s glymphatic (waste clearance) system clears out waste from the central nervous system. It removes toxic byproducts from your brain, which build up throughout the day. This allows your brain to work well when you wake up.

Sleep affects many aspects of brain function, including:
- learning
- memory
- problem solving skills
- creativity
- decision-making
- focus
-       concentration

Emotional well-being
Similarly, sleep is necessary for emotional health. During sleep, brain activity increases in areas that regulate emotions, including the:
- striatum
- amygdala
- hyppocampus
- insula
- medial prefrontal cortex

This change in activity supports proper brain function and emotional stability.
For example, the amygdala is in charge of the fear response. It’s what controls your reaction when you face a perceived threat, like a stressful situation.

When you get enough sleep, the amygdala can respond in a more adaptive way. But if you’re sleep deprived, the amygdala is more likely to overreact.

Weight maintenance
Sleep affects your weight by controlling hunger hormoes. This includes ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which increases satiety.
During sleep, ghrelin decreases because you’re using less energy than when you’re awake.
Lack of sleep, however, elevates ghrelin and suppresses leptin. This imbalance makes you hungrier, which may increase the risk of weight gain.

Proper insulin function
Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use glucose for energy. But in insulin reistance, your cells don’t respond properly to insulin. This can lead to high blood glucose levels and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.
Sleep may protect against insulin resistance. It keeps your cells healthy so they can easily take up glucose.
The brain also uses less glucose during sleep, which helps the body regulate overall blood glucose.

Immunity
A healthy and strong immune system depends on sleep.
When you sleep, your body makes cytokines, which are proteins that fight infection and inflammation. It also produces certain antibodies and immune cells. Together, these molecules prevent sickness by destroying harmful germs.
That’s why sleep is so important when you’re sick or stressed. During these times, the body needs even more immune cells and proteins.

Heart health
While the exact causes aren’t clear, scientists think sleep supports heart health. This stems from the link between heart disease and poor sleep.

Lack of sleep is associated with risk factors for heart disease, including:
- increased sympathetic nervous system activity
- high blood pressure
- increased inflammation
- elevated cortisol levels 
- weight gain
- insulin resistance

What happens when you sleep?
Your body cycles through four stages of sleep. The pattern typically repeats every 90 minutes. This means the stages will repeat about 4 to 6 times during a 7- to 9- hour sleep period.
The pattern includes three phases of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and one phase of REM sleep.

The NREM sleep stages used to be divided into stages 1, 2, 3, and 4, followed by REM sleep. The National Sleep Foundation now classifies them as follows:

N1 non-REM sleep (formerly stage 1)
Stage 1 occurs when you first fall asleep. As your body enters light sleep, your brain waves, heart rate, and eye movements slow down.
This phase lasts for about 7 minutes.

N2 non-REM sleep (formerly stage 2)
This stage involves the light sleep just before deep sleep.
Your body temperature decreases, your eye movements stop, and your heart rate and muscles continue to relax. Your brain waves briefly spike then slow down.
During a night of sleep, you spend the most time in stage 2.

N3 non-REM sleep (formerly stages 3 and 4)
In stages 3 and 4, deep sleep begins. Your eyes and muscles don’t move, and your brain waves slow down even further.

Deep sleep is restorative. Your body replenishes its energy and repairs cells, tissues, and muscles. You need this phase to feel awake and refreshed the next day.
REM sleep
This stage first happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. It can last for about an hour.
In REM sleep, your brain waves and eye movements increase. Your heart rate and breathing also speed up.
Dreaming often happens during REM sleep. Your brain also processes information during this stage, making it important for learning and memory.

How much sleep do you need?
The recommended amount of sleep depends on your age. It also varies from person to person, but the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following durations:
- Birth to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours
- 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours
- 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours
- 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours
- 18 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours
- 65 years and older: 7 to 8 hours

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
Without enough sleep, your body has a hard time functioning properly.
Possible consequences of sleep deprivation include:
- mood swings
- anxiety
- depression
- poor memory
- poor focus and concentration
- poor motor function
- fatigue
- weakened immune system 
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
- insulin resistance
- chronic diseases (like diabetes and heart disease)
- early mortality

The bottom line
Sleep keeps us healthy and functioning well. It lets your body and brain repair, restore, and reenergize.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you might experience side effects like poor memory and focus, weakened immunity, and mood swings.
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to a doctor or sleep specialist. They can determine the underlying cause and help improve the quality of your sleep.







Stand up paddle boarding
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 350 

Stand up paddle boarding (aka ‘SUP’) might look intimidating, but the way the board is designed makes it easy for anyone to do.  SUP is done on a large surfboard, which provides a wider area to stand on and balance. And while this activity can be almost meditative, you’ll still be strengthening your upper back, legs, glutes and abs while developing balance and coordination, too. 

To help maximize your workout—and minimize your chances of falling off, stand with feet hip width apart on the board, maintaining good posture and starting your paddle strokes on your dominant side (right if you're right handed) to help to find your rhythm, balance and strengthen your connection to both the board and the water. Once you're steady, start alternating sides after every third stroke. 

Hiking
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 375 

Not only does hiking offer a physical challenge, it gets you out into nature, which can boost your mood. And the beautiful scenery and changing terrain shifts your focus to your movement and surroundings, taking your mind off exercising (unlike the boring repetition of a treadmill). Hiking is one workout you can't help but fall in love with. 

Hiking is a great cardio workout that challenges all of your muscles as the terrain shifts, going uphill and stepping over rocks.  The pace of your hike will influence the intensity of your workout and how many calories you burn, so pick a trail that meets both your fitness level and goals. 

Never go hiking alone—if you get lost or stuck you need a buddy -- and plan out a route in advance. 

Biking
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 400 

It may have been years since you last rode your bike, but it’s never too late to get back in the saddle! Riding a bike outdoors offers even more benefits than a stationary bike since you’ll have to balance, steer your bike and respond to changing terrain as you pedal. Cycling works your glutes, thighs and hamstrings as well as your core.  

She recommends trying a pedal stroke interval to amp up your calorie burn and improve your cardiovascular fitness: Pedal as fast as you can for 60 seconds, then slow down and recover for 20, repeat five times in total. Make it a cardio and mental game knowing you're getting stronger with each pedal stroke. Wear clothing that is easy to pedal in (such as bike shorts) and stiff-soled or bike shoes. 

Swimming
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 425 

Want a total body workout that’s easy on your joints but still a great calorie burner? Try swimming! Swimming challenges your muscles because of the density of the water. Your own body weight is your resistance and you are working much harder than you will feel in the moment.  Swimming develops strong, lean muscles as well as strengthening your core and low back to help protect your spine and improve posture, she notes. 

Focus on your form and breathing with each stroke -- if you are new to swimming, just get comfortable with moving in the water. The faster your pace and the shorter your rest time in between laps, the more intense your workout (and calorie burn) will be. 

Beach volleyball
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 500

Turn exercising into a fun game with volleyball—you'll get both a strength-training and cardio session. Volleyball is a fabulous total body workout; it’s interval training at its best. You work hard, using the legs and butt to get under the ball, core to maintain your balance, and upper body to power through, followed by a period of rest, but you never know how long.  Playing in the soft, uneven terrain of sand on the beach means you’ll be working even harder (translation: burning up extra calories) than on a flat, indoor court every time you go to spike that ball. If you're not near a beach start a game of pool volleyball – it's just as challenging (and fun). 

Yoga in the park
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 175 

Summer’s warmer weather makes it the perfect time of year to try an outdoor yoga, which is often offered in local parks as a sunrise or sunset group class. Most outdoor yoga classes are for all levels (check with your instructor first to be sure), making it easy for beginners to join in without any prior experience. Depending on the type of yoga, you might experience the benefits of flexibility, strength and/or cardiovascular training. Plus, you’ll have the most amazing backdrop, as you see the sun rise or set around you.

Come prepared for class in an outfit that you’ll feel comfortable wearing in both standing and floor postures. Most classes are BYM (bring your own mat) and toting a towel can be helpful if sweat and dirt start to show up on your mat. 

Gardening
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 250 

If you've never planted a garden, you may not think of gardening as exercise, but it's a great full body workout! If you are doing some serious gardening, such as digging holes, planting and weeding, you will exert a significant workload, which can sometimes work the body harder than most typical exercise. From raking, lifting, pushing, pulling and shoveling, gardening is a complete body workout for the butt, legs, back, chest, arms and abs.


Take breaks every hour from that forward, hunched over position by standing up and walking around. Try a few standing back extensions to help relieve any stiffness. Get inspired to dig into the dirt with these amazing garden designs for spaces and landscapes of all shapes and sizes. 

Benefits of Using Resistance Training Bands During Your Workout



Resistance bands are great for those who want to exercise at home, or who like to take their workouts along when they travel, but their value doesn't end there. There are many benefits to these simple exercise tools, including versatility, convenience, safety, and effectiveness. The more you learn about the advantages of resistance band exercises, the more you'll be motivated to add them to your own home gym.

These inexpensive exercise tools are a convenient option for people of any age or fitness level. But don't let their simplicity fool you. Resistance band exercises are surprisingly effective and offer many benefits over traditional free weights.

1. GET A COST-EFFECTIVE WORKOUT
Whether you buy them individually or as a set, resistance bands are an inexpensive addition to your home gym equipment. Some resistance bands are even are sold with a guided exercise DVD.

2. ADAPT EASILY FOR MULTIPLE FITNESS LEVELS
Resistance bands come in multiple resistance levels, usually light, medium or heavy. You can further adjust the amount of resistance during exercise just by giving more or less slack on the band, as well as by combining multiple resistance bands to increase the challenge.

3. MODIFY FAMILIAR EXERCISES
Resistance band exercises are often based on familiar strength-training moves. For example, if you stand on one end of the cord and curl your arm up while holding the other end, you've replaced your standard dumbbell bicep curl.

4. EXERCISE YOUR WHOLE BODY
Many resistance band kits come with suggested exercises for nearly every major muscle group in your body. Stepping on one end of a resistance band or looping it around a stationary object, for example, opens up many exercise possibilities.

5. SAVE ON STORAGE SPACE
When you don't have a lot of room for a home gym, resistance bands are a great option that store in very little space. You can hang them on a hook after you exercise, or coil them up to store in a box or drawer.

6. EXERCISE ON THE ROAD
Because they are so small and portable, resistance bands are a great way to take your workout with you when you travel. There are many resistance band exercises that can easily be done in the small space of a hotel room.

7. ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUTS
Over time, your muscles adapt to any new exercise routine. It's a good idea to mix it up by cross-training with free weights, machines and resistance band exercises. Each will work your muscles in a slightly different way.

8. EXERCISE SAFELY, EVEN WHEN ALONE
Resistance bands offer strength-training without the risk of dropping a heavy weight on your foot or crushing your fingers between weight plates. That makes them ideal for working out when you don't have a personal trainer or exercise partner to spot you.

9. COMBINE WITH OTHER EXERCISE EQUIPMENT
While resistance bands work great on their own, they can also be combined with other exercise equipment. Performing bicep curls with both a resistance band and a dumbbell will give you the combined benefits of each type of equipment.

10. GET AN EFFECTIVE WORKOUT
Although there are differences between free weight and resistance band exercises, both are effective. Picture the arc motion your arm makes while doing a bicep curl. Free weights will feel heaviest at the beginning of that arc, while resistance bands make your muscles work harder at the end of the arc (when the band is most taut). Either way, your body is moving against resistance, and that will give your muscles an effective workout.

Exercising Outdoor Will Make You Feel Better



The warm weather has finally arrived -- and with it, yet another study showing a health boon to moving among the leaves and blossoms. Strolling through an outdoor green space quiets the mind and lessens brain fatigue. Here are more reasons to walk, bike, run, climb, blade and even strength train in nature.

You'll work out longer. Whether you power up and down a set of bleachers in your favorite park or mountain bike along a remote wooded trail, the distractions of your surroundings take your mind off the work of working out. As a result, you'll end up going a lot farther than you would have if you'd been walled in. You can press 'stop' on a treadmill, but you can't turn back time after you've walked or jogged three or more miles.

You'll zap more calories. Research shows that exercisers burn 10 percent more calories when they walk or run outdoors than they do when they hoof it inside on a treadmill at the same speed. When you're caught up in your environment, you're less focused on how tired you are or how much your muscles ache. 

You’ll get off the mat. Parks are good for more than dog-walking and picnics -- they’re an ideal spot for toning. Try this mini-workout: Using a park bench as your prop, do 12 reps each of tricep dips with one leg extended (then switch legs), power jump-ups (squat, then swing arms for momentum and jump on to the bench, landing in a squat) and bicycles (lean back 45 degrees on the bench, with your hands next to your hips). Then hit the grass for push-ups and punching lunges.

You'll elevate your self-esteem. Nature's stimulation also impacts your brain in positive ways. In an article in Environmental Science & Technology, British researchers shared their findings that exercising outdoors improves self-esteem and that a walk in the country improves one's mood. Outdoor exercise stimulates all five senses in a way that indoor activities can't. Breathing in fresh air, feeling the ground under your feet, and taking in all the colors and sounds in nature are positive stimulants hitting you at the same time. You can't help but feel better about yourself and the world around you.

You'll feel happier and have a greater sense of well-being. Communing in nature makes people feel more alive, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. In a number of recent studies, volunteers went for two walks for the same time or distance -- one inside (usually on a treadmill or around a track), the other outdoors. Virtually all of the participants reported enjoying the outside activity more and scored significantly higher on psychological tests measuring vitality and energy, and lower in anger and depression. 

You'll reduce stress. According to the California Outdoor Recreation Planning Program, over 100 studies found stress was lowered during activities that took place in either the wilderness or urban nature areas. Here are our recommendation for a stress-diminishing walk or run: Direct your focus away from your thoughts and try to get your body moving in a relaxed way. Soften your gaze, breathe deeply into your belly through your nose, drop your shoulders and direct your energy into your lower body and away from your head. Try not to plan, think, judge, worry, describe or consider.

Meditation: A Simple Way To Reduce Stress


If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.
Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment.

And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Understanding meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.
Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.

During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Benefits of meditation

Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

Meditation and emotional well-being

When you meditate, you may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.

The emotional benefits of meditation can include:
Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
Building skills to manage your stress
Increasing self-awareness
Focusing on the present
Reducing negative emotions
Increasing imagination and creativity
Increasing patience and tolerance

Meditation and illness

Meditation might also be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress.

While a growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation, some researchers believe it's not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of meditation.

With that in mind, some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:
Anxiety
Asthma
Cancer
Chronic pain
Depression
Heart disease
High blood pressure
Irritable bowel syndrome
Sleep problems
Tension headaches

Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of using meditation if you have any of these conditions or other health problems. In some cases, meditation can worsen symptoms associated with certain mental and physical health conditions.

Meditation isn't a replacement for traditional medical treatment. But it may be a useful addition to your other treatment.

Types of meditation

Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace.

Ways to meditate can include:
Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions, but let them pass without judgment.
Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE- CHEE), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
Transcendental Meditation®. Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural technique. In Transcendental Meditation, you silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way.  This form of meditation may allow your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of i nner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort.
Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you're encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

Elements of meditation

Different types of meditation may include different features to help you meditate. These may vary depending on whose guidance you follow or who's teaching a class. Some of the most common features in meditation include:
Focused attention. Focusing your attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation.
Focusing your attention is what helps free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. You can focus your attention on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, or even your breathing.
Relaxed breathing. This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.
A quiet setting. If you're a beginner, practicing meditation may be easier if you're in a quiet spot with few distractions, including no television, radios or cellphones.
As you get more skilled at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where you benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or a long line at the grocery store.
A comfortable position. You can practice meditation whether you're sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions or activities. Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation. Aim to keep good posture during meditation.
Open attitude. Let thoughts pass through your mind without judgment.

Everyday ways to practice meditation

Don't let the thought of meditating the "right" way add to your stress. If you choose to, you can attend special meditation centers or group classes led by trained instructors. But you can also practice meditation easily on your own.
And you can make meditation as formal or informal as you like, however it suits your lifestyle and situation. Some people build meditation into their daily routine. For example, they may start and end each day with an hour of meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time for meditation.

Here are some ways you can practice meditation on your own, whenever you choose:
Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function.
Focus all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
Scan your body. When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.
Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.
Repeat a mantra. You can create your own mantra, whether it's religious or secular. Examples of religious mantras include the Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
Walk and meditate. Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking, such as in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall.
When you use this method, slow down your walking pace so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as "lifting," "moving" and "placing" as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
Engage in prayer. Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions.
You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others. Check the self-help section of your local bookstore for examples. Talk with your rabbi, priest, pastor or other spiritual leader about possible resources.
Read and reflect. Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning.
You can also listen to sacred music, spoken words, or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.
Focus your love and gratitude. In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred image or being, weaving feelings of love, compassion and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the image.

Building your meditation skills

Don't judge your meditation skills, which may only increase your stress. Meditation takes practice.
Keep in mind, for instance, that it's common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you've been practicing meditation. If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you're focusing on.

Experiment, and you'll likely find out what types of meditation work best for you and what you enjoy doing. Adapt meditation to your needs at the moment. Remember, there's no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better overall.

Use Exercise As Your Stress Relief



Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Put exercise and stress relief to work for you.  

A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps.

Consult with your doctor. If you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

Also, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.

Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Stick with it

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:

Set SMART goals. Write down SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals.
If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a cycling class.

Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.

Change up your routine. If you've always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can't fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. Interval training, which entails brief (60 to 90 seconds) bursts of intense activity at almost full effort, is being shown to be a safe, effective and efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of longer duration exercise. What's most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

Whatever you do, don't think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it's an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.

Boost Up Your Immune System To Fight Of Viruses



Reduce Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the T-cells(a specific white blood cell) to reproduce and receive signals from the body. Cortisol also reduces the antibody secretory IgA, which lines the gut and respiratory tract, which are our first line of defense against pathogens. To keep your stress in check, practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing in your regular routine.

Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Numerous researches have shown that excess intake of alcohol can tamper with the immune system and its pathway in a complicated manner. However, moderate consumption of alcohol can be helpful to the overall health of the body.

Make Sure You Get Your A-B-C-D-Es
The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can actually be true as consumption of vitamins can boost your immune system. Vitamin A, B6, C, D and E can help increase the strength of the immune system. Vitamin C is the biggest booster of all and lack of it can cause several diseases including Scurvy. You can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits like Orange, Grapefruit, Spinach and Strawberries. You can take multivitamin supplements from your doctor, however, natural intake through food is the best way. 

Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system. Consuming them on a daily basis boosts the immunity. For a healthy liver, cruciferous vegetables like Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage should be included in daily diet. Healthy liver ensures the body’s’ natural detoxification process.

Herbs & Supplements
Herbs like AHCC, Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis and Astragalus can help reduce the duration and severity of illness. On top of that, using vitamin and mineral supplements provide the necessary nutrients for a strong immune system.

Get Your Exercise On
Working out on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise mobilises the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. However, continuous rigorous workout weakens the immune system, leaving you prone to flu and viral infections.

Get Sufficient Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause the inflammatory immune response to activate, reducing the activity of T cells in the body. This can weaken your immune system and response to vaccines. Try to sleep for 7–8 hours and avoid having an all-nighter. If you happen to be traveling in different time zones on a regular basis, consume 2–3mg of Melatonin to reset the circadian rhythm.

Start Consuming Mushrooms
Mushroom are nature’s way of breaking down the organic matters to convert it into fertile soil. One of the healthiest food on the planet, mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Some of the mushrooms that are really good for immune systems are — A Turkey tail mushroom, Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms, Tremella Mushrooms.

Stop The Habit Of Smoking
Stop the habit of smoking because not only does it increases the risk of cancer but it also impairs the immune system. Smoking is said to have a negative impact on both adaptive and innate immunity. It can also increase the chances of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses and smoking also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system’s defenses. 

Step Out In The Sun
Stepping out in the natural light is one of the major contributors to the production of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system as it helps the body to produce antibodies. Low level of Vitamin D in the body has been termed as one of the major reasons for respiratory problems. A brisk walk in the sunlight for 10–15 minutes will ensure that enough Vitamin D is produced in the body.

With these little efforts and tweaks in your daily routine, you can ensure a healthy immune system. A healthy body is not just about being healthy from the outside but also ensuring a stronger immunity and these 11 natural ways to boost your immune system can help you achieve the goal of a healthy body. These steps would reduce the toxins in the body and would provide the needed nutrients which are essential for your health. Keeping a check on the immune system is not only going to keep you safe from getting sick but it will also help you prevent diseases like cancer in the latter half of your life. Also, these natural ways can help you age gracefully.



Ways To Stop Eating Lots of Sugar




1. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks
Some popular drinks contain a heap of added sugar.
Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks contribute an astounding 44% of the added sugar in the American diet.

So-called "healthy" drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, can still contain eye-watering amounts of it. For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams)

Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don't make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate.

Studies have consistently shown that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can help with weight loss.

Here are some better, lower-sugar drink options:
Water: It's free and has zero calories.
Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade soda.
Water with mint and cucumber: Amazingly refreshing in warm weather.
Herbal or fruit teas: Drink them hot or cold with ice.
Tea and coffee: Stick to unsweetened tea or black or flat white coffee.

Cutting back on sugary drinks can massively reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight. 

2. Avoid Sugar-Loaded Desserts
Most desserts don't provide much in the way of nutritional value.
They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar.

Grain and dairy-based desserts, such as cakes, pies, doughnuts and ice cream, account for over 18% of the intake of added sugar in the American diet.
If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:

Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12.
Baked fruit with cream: Try pears, apple or plums.
Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar.
A handful of dates: They're naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.

Swapping sugar-heavy desserts for fresh or baked fruit not only reduces your sugar intake, it also increases the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.

3. Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren't aware of their shocking sugar content.
A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams).
Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.

Here are some other options to flavor your food:
Fresh or dried herbs and spices: Contain no sugar or calories and can have added health benefits.
Fresh chili: Give your food a sugar-free kick.
Yellow mustard: Tasty and contains virtually no sugar or calories.
Vinegar: Sugar and calorie-free, with a zing similar to that of ketchup. Some balsamic vinegars and creams may contain sugar.
Harissa paste: Can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.
Pesto: Fresh and nutty, great on sandwiches or eggs.
Mayonnaise: Although it's sugar-free, it's high in fat, so be cautious if you're trying to lose weight.

4. Eat Full-Fat Foods
Low-fat options of your favorite foods — peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing — are everywhere.
If you've been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to reach for these alternatives, rather than the full-fat versions, when you're trying to lose weight.
However, the unsettling truth is that they usually contain more sugar and sometimes more calories than their full-fat counterparts.

A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.

The same amount of full-fat plain yogurt contains just over a teaspoon (5 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and only 69 calories.
Another example is an 8-ounce (237-ml) coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories.

In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories.
High sugar intake has also been shown to cause weight gain, which negates the reason you might have chosen a low-fat food in the first place.
When you're trying to cut your sugar intake, it's often better to choose the full-fat version instead.

5. Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances.

At the other end are ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar and fats, but also substances not usually used in home cooking.
These substances can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and pies.
Ultra-processed foods differ from standard processed foods, which usually only have minimal ingredients added, all of which you might find in a standard kitchen.
Examples of standard processed foods are simple bread and cheese.
90% of the added sugars in the average American's diet come from ultra-processed foods, whereas only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods.

And it isn't just junk food that contains high amounts of it.
Seemingly healthy options like canned pasta sauce can also contain alarming amounts. One serving (128 grams) can contain nearly 3 teaspoons (11 grams).
Try to cook from scratch when possible so you can avoid added sugars. You don't have to cook elaborate meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious results.

6. Check for Sugar in Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.

Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they're not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does.  Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions that are labeled with "in own juice" or "no added sugar.

If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.

7. Be Careful With So-Called "Healthy" Processed Snack Foods
Most people know that candy and cookies contain a lot of sugar, so they may look for "healthy" snack alternatives. Surprisingly, snacks like granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit can contain as much, if not more, sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars.
Some granola bars can contain as much as 8 teaspoons (32 grams).

Dried fruit is full of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. However, it is also full of natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation.  Some dried fruit also contains high quantities of added sugar. To avoid this, look for ingredients labels that say "100% fruit.

Or try these healthy snack ideas instead:
A handful of nuts: Packed with good calories, protein and healthy fats.
Trail mix: Make sure it's just nuts and dried fruit, without added sugar.
No-added-sugar jerky: Full of protein and low in calories.
Hard-boiled egg: This superfood is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fresh fruit: Contains natural sugar to satisfy those sugar cravings.

Don't be fooled by the "healthy" marketing messages on some snacks. Be prepared and take low-sugar snacks with you when you're on the go.

8. Avoid Sugar-Filled Breakfast Foods
Breakfast cereals are among the worst when it comes to added sugar. One reports found that some of the most popular ones contained over half of their weight in added sugar.  One cereal in the report contained over 12 teaspoons (50 grams) per serving, which made it 88% sugar by weight.

What's more, the report found that granola, which is usually marketed as "healthy," has more sugar than any other type of cereal, on average.
Popular breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles, muffins and jams, are also loaded with added sugar.

Switch to these low-sugar breakfast options instead:
Hot oatmeal: Add some chopped fruit if you like it sweet.
Greek yogurt: Add fruit and nuts for extra good calories.
Eggs: Boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelet.
Avocado: Packed full of nutrition and healthy fats for energy.

Choosing a low-sugar option with high protein and fiber at breakfast will help you feel full until lunchtime, preventing unnecessary snacking.

9. Read Labels
Eating less sugar isn't as easy as just avoiding sweet foods. You've already seen that it can hide in unlikely foods, including some breakfast cereals, granola bars and dried fruit.

However, some savory foods, such as bread, can also contain a lot of added sugar. Two slices can contain 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams).
Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to identify added sugars on a food label. Current food labels don't differentiate between natural sugars, such as those in milk or fruits, and added sugars.

To see if a food has sugars added, you will need to check the ingredients list. It is also important to note the order in which sugar appears on the list, since ingredients are listed in order of the highest percentage first.

Food companies also use more than 50 other names for added sugar, which makes it more difficult to spot. Here are some of the most common:
High-fructose corn syrup
Cane sugar or juice
Maltose
Dextrose
Invert sugar
Rice syrup
Molasses
Caramel

Thankfully, identifying sugar in packaged food in the US just got much easier.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed their rules so that companies have to show the amount of added sugar in their products on the ingredients label in grams, along with a percentage of the daily value.
Companies have until 2018 to change their labels to comply.

10. Eat More Protein and Fat
A high sugar intake is linked to increased appetite and weight gain.
Conversely, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.

Added sugar in the diet, particularly fructose, increases appetite. The signals that usually let your brain know that you are full do not work properly, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

On the other hand, protein has been proven to reduce appetite and hunger. If you feel full, then you are less likely to crave the quick hunger fix that sugar provides.
Protein has also been shown to directly reduce food cravings. One study showed that increasing protein in the diet by 25% reduced cravings by 60%
Fat is very high in energy. It contains 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein or carbs.

A high fat intake is also associated with reduced appetite. According to the fat content of a food, fat receptors in the mouth and gut alter the way it's digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and subsequently, calorie intake.
To curb sugar cravings, stock up on protein and fat-rich whole foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products, avocados and nuts.

11. Consider Natural Sweeteners
For some people, sugar can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that it can affect the brain in a way similar to that of some drugs.

Addiction to sugar produces cravings and a "tolerance" level, meaning more and more of it must be consumed to satisfy those cravings.
It is also possible to suffer from sugar withdrawal.

Studies have found that rats experienced signs of anxiety and depression after a high sugar diet was stopped.

This shows that giving up sugar can be very difficult for some people. If you are struggling, there are a few naturally sweet alternatives that are actually good for you.
Stevia: Extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, it has virtually no calories and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Erythritol: Found naturally in fruit, it only contains 6% of the calories of sugar, but it's much sweeter, so only a little is needed. It also doesn't cause blood sugar spikes.
Xylitol: A sweetener found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It doesn't cause blood sugar spikes.

Once you cut your sugar intake, you'll adjust to enjoying foods that are less sweet.

12. Don't Keep Sugar in the House
If you keep high-sugar foods in the house, you are more likely to eat them.
It takes a lot of willpower to stop yourself if you only have to go as far as the pantry or fridge to get a sugar hit.

Although cravings for snacks and sweet foods can occur at any time of the day or night, they may be worse in the evenings. Evidence shows that your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, increases hunger and cravings for sweet and starchy foods in the evenings.

It is important to consider how you're going to distract yourself when you feel the need to eat something sweet.  Studies have shown that distraction, such as doing puzzles, can be very effective at reducing cravings. If that doesn't work, then try to keep some healthy, low-sugar snacks in the house to munch on instead.

13. Don't Shop When You're Hungry
If you've ever been shopping when you're hungry, you know what can happen.
Not only do you buy more food, but you also tend to put less healthy options in your shopping cart.

Shopping while hungry has been shown not only to increase the amount of food purchased, but also to affect the type of foods you buy. In a controlled study, 68 participants fasted for five hours. Half the participants were then allowed to eat as many wheat crackers as they liked just before going shopping, while the other half went shopping on an empty stomach. They found that the hungry group purchased more high-calorie products, compared to those who were less hungry.
In another study, 82 grocery shoppers were observed to see if the time of day they went shopping had any effect on their purchases.

The study found that those who shopped between 4–7 pm, around dinnertime, when they were likely to be hungry, bought more high-calorie products than those who shopped between 1–4 pm, shortly after lunch.

14. Get Enough Sleep
Good sleep habits are incredibly important for your health. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, poor concentration and reduced immune function.
The link between lack of sleep and obesity is well known. But recently, researchers discovered that lack of sleep also affects the types of food you eat.

One study looked into this phenomenon in 23 healthy adults. Their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), first after a full night's sleep and then following a sleepless night.

The researchers found that function of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision making, was impaired after a sleepless night. Furthermore, the area of the brain that responds to rewards and controls motivation and desire was stimulated.  These changes meant that participants favored high-calorie, sweet and salty foods when they were sleep deprived.

Another study found that people who went to bed late and did not get a full night's sleep consumed more calories, junk food and soda and fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those who went to bed earlier and got a full night's sleep.
So going to bed early and sleeping well may help you reduce your sugar intake.

What Is The Optimal Heart Rate To Lose Fat



The link between heart rate and fat loss
Your body requires glucose as fuel for your muscles. The 2 main sources of fuel are glycogen (a substance that stores carbohydrate) and fat, which breaks down to form glucose and ultimately carbon dioxide and water. Oxygen is required to oxidize (break down) either the glycogen or fat stores into glucose to fuel the muscles.

During a workout, your body requires more energy. Thus, your heart pumps faster and harder to send oxygen to your muscle cells to break down more glycogen and fat to fuel your muscles.

While 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories of energy, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. This makes glycogen (carbohydrate) a less dense form of energy storage that is readily broken down into glucose, as compared to fats. As such, glycogen is your body's first source of energy during exercise. Since high-intensity workouts require more energy quickly, you tap on glycogen rather than fat in your body for fuel. Your body only taps onto the next fuel, fat, when you start to run out of glycogen.

The truth of the fat burning zone theory
The fat burning zone theory seeks to help adherents lose weight by tapping on the body’s fat storage rather than glycogen. They argue that the body burns a greater percentage of fat with lower-intensity exercises than at higher intensities because the body does not require ‘fast energy’ from glycogen. As such, this theory promotes longer and lower-intensity cardio workouts that maintain your heart rate within the ‘fat burning zone’.

However, that is a bit of a misconception. While it is true that the body burns fat during low-intensity workouts, the fat burning rate remains low and you have to exercise longer to burn the same amount of calories you would at higher intensities.
In a high-intensity workout, although your body uses your glycogen stores first for ‘fast energy’, it depletes the glycogen stores rapidly enough to force your body to tap on the fat storage. This means that high-intensity workouts are more efficient in burning way more total calories – both glycogen and fat calories. Ultimately, the total number of calories you burn leads to the most weight (and fat) loss.

The 4 training zones
Working out with a heart rate monitor helps you to gauge the specific zones in which your body is working and how your body benefits from different intensities of exercise. Each of the 4 main training zones can be predicted by your heart rate:
Your warm-up zone is where you prepare your cardio-respiratory system, muscles and joints to exercise harder. Here, you are functioning at 60 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. It is a comfortable pace where you feel as though you can go on for a long time.

Just beyond the warm-up zone is the so-called fat burning zone where you are working out at about 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate. It is still a comfortable rate but you might sweat more and breathe harder than usual. Although you may burn more fat than glycogen at this zone, the absolute amount of fat burnt is much less than the subsequent stages.

Still in the comfortable zone is the aerobic zone. Your heart rate is at 81 – 93% of your maximum heart rate. You will be able to talk but only in short phrases. The calories you burn here split evenly between your fat stores and glycogen. Although you will not burn more fat calories than glycogen, you will be burning more calories overall. (Plus, the aerobic zone makes your heart pump hard, which is great to keep your heart healthy!)

Finally, you will be at 94 – 100% of your maximum heart rate in the anaerobic territory. You are panting and unable to talk. It is hard work and nearly impossible to spend more than a minute here as your glycogen stores are depleted faster than they can be replenished. Anaerobic intervals widen your fat and aerobic zones and zap tons of calories. This is where the afterburn (temporary increase in metabolism) kicks in. Also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), your body continues to burn more calories even after a high-intensity workout, as compared to a low-intensity exercise.

A high-intensity workout reaps many benefits of burning total calories efficiently both during and after exercising, and keeping your heart healthy. But if you prefer a low-intensity workout, it would require you to devote a longer amount of time to burn the same amount of calories!

What Are Essential Oils



Essential oils are found in plants for very essential purposes! It helps with allelopathy, attracts pollinators, defends against insects, and protects against fungus and bacteria.

The process of extracting essential oils is by water or steam distillation, or even cold-pressing. Pure essential oils are those that are not obtained by chemical processes. Some oils are isolated by maceration. The plant material is softened in warm water, which releases the essential oil.  Several factors influence the quality of essential oils, such as; the weather, geographical location, and distillation.

Essential oils are widely used for aromatic and medicinal purposes. You will notice that when you open a bottle, the scent quickly fills the room, and the aroma is potent. These are due to chemical properties in the essential oil that allow it to move rapidly in the air. That is why essential oils are ideal for physical and emotional wellness.  

Essential for Your Health?
Inhaling the aromas can stimulate the limbic system; it involves our emotions, behaviors, smell, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and long-term memory. Have you ever associated a smell with a memory? This explains why certain smells can trigger memories.

Aromatherapy
There are several ways in which to apply essential oils to positively affect the mind and body.

Cosmetic Aromatherapy – Used for cleansing, moisturizing, drying, and toning on the skin, body, face, and air. It is also beneficial to use in a full-body or foot bath.
Massage Aromatherapy – Essential oils are combined with carrier oils to use for massage.

Medical Aromatherapy – Used to promote and treat clinically diagnosed medical ailments, and even for massage on patients during surgery.
Olfactory Aromatherapy – Inhaling essential oils can enhance emotional well-being, encouraging relaxation and calmness.

Psycho-aromatherapy – Since our brain links scents with memories, essential oils can help promote a pleasant memory by infusing it in the room of the patient.

Choosing the Correct Essential Oils
It is important to make sure that the essential oils you purchase are pure and medical grade. Many companies will claim this, but there are ways to determine its true nature. Here are three things to consider:

Purity – Oils that provide mild fragrance or flavors do not have therapeutic benefits like essential oils. Find retailers that specialize in selling essential oils.

Quality  – Look for essential oils that identify with their scientific or botanical name. It is also important to note the extraction process, plant origin, and expiration date. As much as possible, use oils that are organic (no pesticides or sprays)

Reputation – Companies should be transparent about their essential oil products, have done extensive testing on the product, and are able to answer questions relating to it. Another bonus is when companies are members of associations or other affiliations that have ethical standards.

Current Market Trends
In 2016, the global essential oils market size was valued at USD 6.63 billion (2). “It is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 11% during period 2017-202 (3)1.”

This is due to a growing demand for product line extensions, air fresheners with essential oils as the active ingredient, natural personal care products and cleaning products, spa and relaxation, and flavors in pharmaceutical ingredients. Growing consumer income and more knowledge on personal health are expected to contribute to the growth of this industry.

Essential Oil Safety
As with many things that we ingest in or apply to our bodies, moderation and correct application are key. It is also important to do a test patch before applying it in the desired area of the body. Essential oils are considered safe. It should not be ingested but can be used topically when diluted with a carrier oil, through steam inhalation, and in an essential oil diffuser. Essential oils are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Where Does The Fat Go?




Myths About Fat Loss
There are misconceptions about fat loss among doctors, dietitians and even fitness professionals.  In this blog we are going to simplify how weight loss occurs in a molecular level. 
The following are common myths about fat metabolism:
- Fat turns into muscle
- Fat converts into energy
- Fat escape through your colon

What Is Fat?
The clinical term for body fat is adipose tissue. There are two different types in the human body. The white adipose tissue is primarily responsible for energy storage and releasing fatty acids when fuel is low. Your body contains mostly this type of fat. It is stored beneath the skin and surrounding organs. This is the kind of fat that most of us are trying to lose. 

Brown adipose tissue is considered good fat that helps regulate body temperature. It’s derived from muscle tissue and burns calories to keep you warm. Brown fat also contains more capillaries than white fat and shuttles valuable nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Fat is made up of individual cells called adipocytes (cells that contain fat). The human body contains billions of fat cells ranging in different sizes. White fat cells are filled with one large fat droplet surrounded by water, salts, and protein. The fat droplet is comprised mostly of triglycerides (glycerol and three fatty acids). High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Brown fat cells contain multiple fat droplets and considerably more water, salt, and protein. These cells are also filled with lots of mitochondria responsible for the chemical energy that burns calories to produce heat in your body. 

What Does Fat Do?
Fat is made up of cells in your body that are used primarily for stored energy and protection.  The body uses this stored energy for working muscles as well as a host of other metabolic pathways and enzymatic breakdowns.

When you consume more calories than your body needs, it will store the rest within your fat cells or adipocytes. The storage form of energy is known as triglycerides, a type of fat or lipid collected within individual fat cells. Besides providing energy, stored fat also helps insulate the body and protect vital organs. 

During Fat Burning
Before explaining what happens during the fat burning process, it will help to understand where all the weight within the fat cell comes from. 
The average American breathes in about 1.5 pounds of oxygen daily. This is in addition to what you eat and drink every day. According to the latest government figures, the average person consumes approximately five to 7.8 pounds of food and beverages daily. What you eat and what you breathe needs to exit your body somehow if you want to lose weight. 

During the fat burning process, the body converts fat into usable energy causing the fat cell to shrink. This metabolic energy conversion also generates heat which helps to control body temperature. At the same time, oxygen is also converted into byproducts.

Many enzymes and biochemical steps are involved to completely break down a single triglyceride molecule.  Some of the fat is available for usable energy, but carbon dioxide (CO2) and water are also released from the fat cell during the process. In fact, a large percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) is created and expelled from the body when you burn fat. 


Where Fat Goes
Most of us really don’t think about where fat goes when we lose it. We’re just happy the scale says it’s gone. You may be curious to know fat doesn’t magically disappear after going through the fat-burning process.

The research calculations show when fat is lost, 84 percent is exhaled as carbon dioxide. The remaining 16 percent is excreted as water.1 During the conversion of energy, carbon dioxide and water are byproducts or waste. They are excreted via urine, perspiration, and exhalation.

It has also been shown that the lungs as the primary organ used to remove fat from your body.


Ways to Improve Fat Loss
Since fat leaves the body by exhaling carbon dioxide, you may be wondering if breathing faster will help you lose weight. Unfortunately, this isn't an effective method. You will only cause hyperventilation, feel dizzy, and possibly faint. 

There are healthy ways to increase oxygen intake and improve weight loss. Working toward improving your metabolic rate would be a great start. This includes being more active in general and participating in regular exercise.
You can increase carbon dioxide (CO2) exhalation by performing physical activities that double the metabolic rate. For example, swapping out one hour of rest with exercise like jogging removes more CO2 from the body and improves your ability to lose fat.
Other basic suggestions to increase your metabolic rate and rid your body of CO2 include the following:

- Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator.
- Park your car far away and walk more.
- Engage in active playtime with your kids.
- Stand at your computer vs. sitting.
- Take walk and stretch breaks at work.
- Stay active over the weekend and avoid being a couch potato.

Your body is also at work removing CO2 while you sleep. In fact, you exhale approximately seven ounces of carbon dioxide which is 25 percent of the daily amount you need to get rid of. This means you are waking up starting your day ahead of the game.  
What is recommended for successful fat loss is to eat less and move more. This means reducing caloric intake to cause an energy deficit, but also exercising regularly. Exercise will naturally increase the rate of oxygen is used and help remove more carbon dioxide from your body. 


Strategies To Lose Fat, Not Muscle




Maintain your strength as you shed pounds with these proven strategies.

When you lose weight, those pounds can come from either fat or muscle. And you don’t want to lose muscle, especially as you get older.

Not only does muscle help you stay strong and independent, but it’s a leading indicator of overall health and longevity. In fact, research shows lean muscle mass is better at predicting overall health than body mass index (BMI), a score that uses both your height and weight to provide a rough estimate of whether you’re underweight, normal weight, or overweight.

Unfortunately, the state of our muscle is bleak. One out of every three adults ages 60 and older suffers from severe muscle loss, called sarcopenia, according to an Age and Aging review.
Loss of muscle mass is one of the biggest causes of age-related decline. Older adults who get or stay strong can continue to perform daily tasks and active hobbies with fewer limitations. They also have a much lower risk of injury from falls and other accidents.

What’s more, when we lose muscle, our metabolism slows, making it harder to lose or maintain a healthy weight, Juster says. Lean muscle mass is a primary factor in basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body burns per day simply by living.

The more muscle we hold on to, the better we will look and feel, and the easier it will be to lose fat. And those are the pounds you want to lose.

Here are four strategies to help you stay strong and retain—or even build—muscle as you drop pounds.

Fat Loss Rule #1: Cut Calories Gradually
To lose weight, you have to maintain a calorie deficit, meaning that you use more calories than you consume each day. However, cutting your calories too drastically can lead to muscle loss.
If you’re counting calories, aim to cut no more than 500 per day. That will keep you in the healthy, gradual range of losing one to two pounds per week.

You can achieve this deficit by cutting 500 calories from your regular meal plan, burning an extra 500 calories with exercise, or a combination of nutrition and fitness changes that lead to 500 calories total. The good news is cutting even 100 calories a day can help—and may be more manageable for some people.

Now sure how many calories you should be eating per day? It depends on how active you are.  Ask your personal trainer, doctor or registered dietitian for guidance, especially if you have a chronic condition.

Fat Loss Rule #2: Focus on Total-Body Strength
To lose fat and build muscle, the bulk of your exercise time should go to total-body strength workouts. Compound, multi-joint movements, such as squats, pushups, and rows, are especially beneficial. These exercises involve multiple large muscle groups, so they build strength—and increase your heart rate and burn calories with every rep.

For those who are newer to the weight room, I recommend two days of strength training each week. More experienced exercisers can do as many as three or four sessions per week.
These workouts don’t need to be long or grueling, she says. Start with 20- to 30-minute full-body workouts and build from there, focusing on improving your performance from week to week.
That might mean gradually increasing the weight you use,  performing more total reps during your workout, or simply executing the same workout with better form. When you focus on performance in the gym or working out at home, you will maintain or even build muscle as you lose fat.

Fat Loss Rule #3: Double Down on Protein
The protein you eat contains the essential amino acids needed for your muscles to grow back stronger after each workout.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein for adults in their 50s and older is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight (multiply your weight by 0.36). But it’s important to know that the RDA is the minimum amount you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements.

For optimal health, older adults may need almost double the RDA of protein, according to mounting research. One 2015 study found older adults improved their muscle health by consuming 0.68 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (multiply your weight by 0.68).
For an adult who weighs 130 pounds, that’s about 88 grams of protein per day. For one who weighs 150 pounds, 102 grams. And for one who weighs 170 pounds, 115 grams.

If that seems like a lot, take it one meal at a time. Other research recommends adults consume between 25 and 35 grams of protein at every meal for both muscle health and weight loss.
If you’re not interested in counting your macronutrients try including one to two palm-sized servings of protein-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, beans and legumes, or eggs with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And as with figuring out exactly how many calories you need based on your health, your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you figure out how much protein per day is right for you.

Fat Loss Rule #4: Use Cardio for Recovery
For many people, the first step to losing weight is hopping on a treadmill or elliptical for hours of cardio, this is a big mistake, because with excessive cardio, we often lose our hard-earned muscle along with our extra fat.

Avoiding excessive aerobic exercise doesn’t mean cutting it completely—after all, it’s a vital part of a well-rounded exercise plan. But for weight loss, it may help to think of it as a method to help your body and muscles recover in between strength sessions.

Research in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation shows low-intensity aerobic exercise is an effective way to promote muscle strength and recovery after challenging workouts.

On the days you don’t perform strength training, make a point to complete at least 30 minutes of gentle, low-intensity movement such as walking, cycling, or swimming. Choose a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation—without huffing and puffing.

Strength Training Benefits As You Age



Sometimes it feels like the number of things that stop working in your body directly correlates to the number candles on your birthday cake.

But you can regain some control in a number of ways — and improving your strength is one of them.

Muscle strength is important for bone health, balance and just being strong enough for daily activities, such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Regular muscle strengthening has also been shown to help you manage blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, as well as prevent and control heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Research also shows it's good for your brain

There is evidence that both improvements in cognitive function and depressive symptoms in older adults are linked to the amount of strength gains or intensity of the strength training.

Why it's downhill from 30
Each decade from the age of 30 we lose 3 to 5 per cent of the muscle mass we naturally carry, which causes us to lose muscle function — a condition called sarcopenia.  But this doesn't mean you necessarily end up frail, there are studies on men in their 70s who'd been lifting weight for 15 to 20 years and their muscles looked identical to that of 20-year-old men in terms of size and strength.

The really good news — it's never too late to get started, even if you've never picked up a weight in your life.  There are muscle biopsies of people over 100 years old and you can see changes in their muscle cells, even at that age.
Size matters - but strength matters more

While having big muscles might hold some appeal for some of us, it's your strength that really matters when it comes to functioning well in old age. And if you're training right, getting stronger is relatively easy, even if your body type doesn't build muscle easily.

So what's the right kind of training? That depends on your fitness and health goals.
High-intensity resistance training is the best way to increase and maintain muscle function. The best results come from high-intensity interval training, which is lifting weight that's 80 per cent or more of the maximum amount you can physically do. Two, preferably three, sessions a week is ideal and the most important thing is intensity and progression — so increasing the amount of weight you're lifting once it stops feeling hard to lift. If you can tolerate it, increase your power as well as strength by performing high-velocity, high-intensity movements. An example of that would be lifting a heavy weight really fast (concentric phase), then slowly lowering it down (eccentric phase). If you don't have arthritis or other joint problems, adding high-impact movements, like jumping, improves bone density, can help to prevent osteoporosis.

Weight machines good for older people
It is important to get guidance from an experienced trainer, especially if you're new to lifting weights, have injuries or suffer any other health issues, cannot be underestimated. Training the older person needs to have a double-barrelled perspective. It's not just sarcopenia, you also want to prevent falls. So there needs to be two styles of programming: increasing strength and muscle mass safely, and preventing falls.  Machines are a great option for working on strength because they do all the stability work. The machine controls your movement which is great, especially if you haven't trained before and have poor body awareness — you can work hard with good control.

Adding in stability work will help to prevent falls, so include exercises like banded walks, single-leg balancing and woodchops on the cable machine.
Aerobic exercise still important

Despite all the benefits of strength training, it's not going to give you all the health benefits you need. So you still need to make the effort to get some regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling.