Friday, 23 September 2016

A Simple Way to Safeguard Your Health. Step by Step

I’ve always been a walker. Maybe it goes back to growing up in a suburban neighborhood with sidewalks and where everything was within walking distance. I was also lucky enough to be in a beach community, with a 4-mile boardwalk that ran alongside the Atlantic Ocean. (Heavenly!)
Walking does so many things for me: it clears my head and makes me feel energized. Walking outside slows me down so I can look around and see all the things I don’t see when I whiz by in a car, like the tiny buds about to explode of the tips of a tree, or the flowers that are just starting to push their way through the soil. And it’s a perfect opportunity for bonding with another person. But besides all my reasons, health professionals have theirs.

Some say you’ll gain two hours of life for every hour of exercise.
Others claim it wards off dementia and helps prevent obesity.
There are so many ways to get fit, and walking is just one of them. I think it’s a pretty effortless way, don’t you?
The American Heart Association has devoted a day in April devoted to walking, with tips to keep you walking healthy no matter what the day.
Later today I’m going to take a break from my writing and enjoy a walk…it’s one step in the right direction to preventing the country’s number one killer, heart disease.

Acne During Pregnancy

In the comments section of my post, “What’s That in My Undies?” on Notes from the Nursery, a newly pregnant reader asked about acne. Specifically she wrote,

“I am 6 weeks pregnant and a week ago I got acne all over my back. Is that because of a hormonal imbalance? What are the signs I can expect to notice related to hormonal changes? Are there any safe products I can use to clear up my skin?”

Acne – just another lovely pregnancy perk! Aren’t we lucky? For the first time since High School, I too began to break out a couple months into my pregnancy. Sadly for me, I got pimples on my face so I’m a little jealous yours are safely hidden on your back :) My OB suggested I try Proactiv which worked beautifully. But, since I’m no MD, RN, OB – or any other medical professional, once again I turned to Dana Jacoby, MD for answers to your questions.

Dr. Jacoby explained that acne during pregnancy is often a normal result of an increase in hormones called androgens, which increase the oil production in your skin. In response to your question about products, he said that topical benzoyl peroxide and certain topical antibiotics are considered safe. Sodium sulfacetamide and tretinoin, however, should be avoided, as many have not been studied sufficiently.

Note: The information provided here is not meant to replace a visit to your health care provider. He or she knows you, and your medical history, better than anyone. We strongly encourage you to speak with your health care professional about your particular health concerns.

Related Links : Acne During Pregnancy

4 Healthy Oils You Should Be Using

Many people think all fats are bad, but that’s far from the truth.
“Fat has a bad reputation,” says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, owner of BTD Nutrition in New York City. Because of that, bringing fat back to the plate is a 

complex issue for our “fat phobic” nation, she says.

Our bodies need dietary fats to function; they supply energy to help our bodies run well. As an example, fats play a role in exercise metabolism: When you exercise, 

your body uses carbohydrates to keep it going for the first 20 minutes and then switches to getting energy from stored fat.

Your body also needs fat to help it absorb important and valuable nutrients found in vegetables, like lycopene and beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K 

(sometimes referred to as fat-soluble vitamins). That’s why eating a salad with a little fat—as in an oil-based dressing—makes the salad’s nutrition be all it can 

But there are fats … and there are fats. And because some can be helpful while others can potentially harm your health, it’s important to know the difference.
According to a recent survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 3 in 10 Americans have recently changed their opinions about the healthfulness 

of saturated fats, with the majority now believing it’s less healthful. That’s progress, but at the same time, many reported limiting or avoiding mono- and 

polyunsaturated fatty acids. Those are the healthful types we should be consuming more of—not abstaining from.

Confusion still reigns, so it’s time to spill the beans on fat. Consumers are slowly coming around to realize that fat is an important part of their dietâ

€”particularly what Taub-Dix calls “fats with benefits.”
Here are some healthy oils you might not know about:
1. Avocado oil
High in monounsaturated fats, this oil is sometimes referred to as “vegetable butter” or “butter pear,” and that’s with good reason. The fruit, which originated in 

Central America, has a high oil content. The extraction method, similar to olive oil extraction, yields an oil high in oleic acid and healthy monounsaturated fatty 

acids. Its high smoke point makes it good for frying. It conveys a grassy and butter/mushroom-like flavor.
2. Grapeseed oil
Pressed from the seed of grapes, this oil has a clean, light taste and is rich in polyunsaturated fats. It also contains a small amount of vitamin E and is great to 

use in salad dressings, dips and soups.
3. Sesame oil
The strong nutritional profile of the sesame seed transfers into its benefits as an oil (high in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) because the seed is 

high in copper, manganese, calcium and magnesium, plus other vitamins and minerals. The oil has a mild, nutty flavor; refined versions can be used for cooking with 

high heat; unrefined are best for marinades.
4. Walnut oil
Made from nuts that are dried, then cold-pressed, this oil contains polyunsaturated fats and has a rich, nutty flavor and a high level of heart-friendly alpha-linoleic 

acid (which partially converts to omega-3 fatty acids). A diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may help your body deal better with stress, researchers find, because it 

can influence blood pressure both at rest and during stressful times. The oil is also rich in manganese and copper and melatonin, which help regulate your body’s 

internal clock.
Store your oils away from heat, light, moisture and air, all factors that can change the oil’s quality and accelerate its spoilage. If you store them in a kitchen 

cabinet, be careful that it’s not located over the stove or refrigerator. If you use oil infrequently, it can be stored in the refrigerator, which will help prolong 

its freshness.
And don’t forget that even though they’re healthy, oils still contain calories—about 120 per tablespoon for most.
“If you’re going to include healthy fats with your meals, you need to remember they should take the place of less healthy options,” says Taub-Dix. “If not, then adding 

them could also add unwanted pounds.”

Related Links :

10 Foods That Promote Weight Loss

Foods that promote weight loss might seem too good to be true—after all, doesn’t nearly everything have calories? But some foods really can help you along your weight loss journey when you choose them over other options.

Here are 10 to add to your diet in moderation.

1. Apples

Research has shown that eating a fiber-filled apple before a meal can fill you up so you eat fewer calories. They’re also great at balancing blood sugar, which can help you make better snacking decisions because you won’t be desperate to get something in your belly quickly.

2. Brown rice

Much better for you than its white counterpart, brown rice has resistant starch, which is a healthy carb that helps boost metabolism and burn fat. It’s also very filling without tons of calories.

3. Eggs

Eat the whole thing, not just the whites. An egg’s filling protein stimulates a fat-burning hormone that helps stave off belly fat.

4. Salmon

Salmon’s lean protein and rich taste keep you feeling satisfied without unhealthy fats. It also has a ton of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart.

5. Oats

A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast has enough fiber to fight off snack cravings until lunchtime. Steel-cut and rolled oats are more filling than instant oats.
6. Chia seeds

These fiber-rich, omega-3-filled seeds absorb up to 20 times their weight in water, acting like little sponges that soak up sugar and balance blood sugar levels, making snack time less of a priority.

7. Red wine

The antioxidant found in red wine known as resveratrol helps prevent fat storage and boosts the amount of calories you burn for about 90 minutes after drinking it. Studies have also shown that moderate wine drinkers tend to have narrower waists and less belly fat than those who drink liquor.

8. Turkey

Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin in the brain. This feel-good chemical boosts your mood and quells your appetite, helping you forget cravings.

9. Mushrooms

Research has shown that people who ate mushroom-based entrees were just as satisfied as they were when they ate the same dishes made with beef, but they got ate fewer calories and less saturated fat.

10. Grapefruit

Eating half of a grapefruit before each meal can lower levels of insulin, a fat-storage hormone, which can lead to weight loss. It also has protein and lots of water, which helps you feel full.

Related Links : Weight Loss 

The Benefits of Bike Riding

When Carolyn Stafford’s leg started hurting her, medical tests couldn’t find a cause for the pain. Her doctor suggested that stress might be creating the problem.

At the time, Stafford was working a pressure-filled job in computer support. “I was constantly trying to solve people’s problems,” she says. “I had a lot of stress coming from that.”

Since she enjoyed bicycling, Ms. Stafford decided to see if riding her bike to and from her job would help. She rode five miles each way. “It worked wonders. If it was a frustrating day, I’d get on that bike and I hammered coming home!” she says.

The effects of daily cycling were so beneficial for the Dallastown, PA, woman that when her employer temporarily moved the office nearly 10 miles from her home, she kept on riding. Her coworkers couldn’t believe that Ms. Stafford, then in her early 50s, was going to continue the bike commute. She did—and when the office moved back to its original location, she adjusted her route so that she could still ride almost 10 miles each way. In winter, Ms. Stafford put studded snow tires on her bike and dressed in layers.

When she retired two-and-a-half years later, she continued her commitment to biking every day. She uses her bike instead of her car when she needs to travel into nearby York (eight miles from her home) for a haircut or a doctor’s appointment or to go to the bank, post office or other errands.
Last year, Ms. Stafford rode 10,400 miles on her bicycle and drove her car a mere 3,000 miles. “I only use my car if I have to go someplace quickly, or if I’m taking people,” she says.
Biking benefits

You don’t have to log thousands of miles to gain rewards from riding your bike more and driving your car less. Regardless of whether you’re on a fancy new two-wheeler or the battered old reliable you bought years ago, bike riding gives you a terrific workout with lots of interest and fun to keep you going. And with U.S. gasoline prices running higher than $3 per gallon, using a bicycle for shopping, commuting, visiting friends or just taking a joy ride may help your financial health at the same time it boosts your physical condition.

Bike riding lets you add a fitness activity into your day even when you think you don’t have time for a workout. “You get the same cardiovascular benefits from cycling that you get from any other form of aerobic exercise—walking, jogging or dancing,” says Lisa Callahan, MD, medical director of the Women’s Sports Medical Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “It can be a very effective cardiovascular benefit.”

Your muscles get a boost, too. Bike riding strengthens your thighs, hips and rear end. If your route includes climbing hills, your arms and upper body will benefit as you stand to pedal. What’s more, cycling is gentle on your joints and helps preserve cartilage. That’s especially advantageous for women who suffer from muscle strain, foot problems, knee troubles, back pain or impact-related injuries caused by running, jogging or walking, Dr. Callahan explains.

“If you’re overweight and start an exercise program, sometimes it’s harder on your joints because you are overweight,” she adds. “So something like swimming or biking that’s not pounding on the joints can be a good thing.”

Daily routine biking also can help fight the incremental weight gain and waistline expansion that many women experience at midlife.

Dr. Callahan points out that cycling on stationary bikes indoors is generally a lighter workout than riding outside because there’s no wind resistance or challenging terrain. “In the gym, you have to work a little harder to get the same result,” she says.

Fit to ride

The health benefits of cycling will be as flat as a punctured tire if your bike doesn’t fit your body correctly. Poor fit causes all sorts of problems, so it’s important to have your bike correctly adjusted specifically for you. “You can’t just go someplace and buy a bike because you like the color,” says Dr. Callahan, who not only treats sports-related problems but enjoys cycling on weekends.
When your bike is too big for your body, you can develop neck and back problems. Seat height is another source of woes—if the seat is too low, it may stress your knee and cause knee cap pain; too high, it can also aggravate your knee.
For the right fit, position the seat so that when you pedal downward to the lowest point, your leg is almost straight. There should be a small bend in your knee of about 10 to 15 degrees.
To get a reliable fit, Dr. Callahan advises taking your bike to a bicycle shop and having them assess how well the frame height, seat and handlebars suit you. A few adjustments can make riding more comfortable and protect you from fit-related troubles.
Stayin’ safe
While bicycle riding is both fun and great for your health, you need to take some wise precautions to make each ride as safe as possible. Although millions of us enjoy bike riding every day, it’s an inescapable fact that bicyclist injuries and even deaths also occur. Annually, in the United States, more than 500,000 people suffer bicycle-related injuries severe enough to send them to hospital emergency rooms, and more than 700 die.

Wear a bicycle helmet on every ride, no matter how short. Head injuries are responsible for about 85 percent of biking-related deaths. Most state helmet laws apply only to children and adolescents, but more than 80 percent of bicyclists killed are aged 16 or older. Yet only 18 percent of adult cyclists in one study reported wearing helmets while riding. Staying away from cars won’t protect you either: about 70 percent of bike injuries occur in situations that do not involve a motor vehicle.

Be visible. Wear bright clothing when riding. Use a flag to maintain space between you and other vehicles. Travel in daylight when possible. If night riding is unavoidable, wear reflective clothing (found in bike shops) and use bicycle headlights and rear lights. For riding at any time, the National Safety Council advises equipping your bike with front, rear and spoke reflectors, pedal reflectors, a horn or bell and a rearview mirror.

Choose your travel time carefully. When possible, avoid early morning and late afternoon rush hours. Bad weather also lowers visibility and negatively affects handling for both bikes and motor vehicles.
Obey traffic rules. Bikes must follow the same road rules as other vehicles. Ride in the direction of traffic flow, use hand signals before turning, obey light signals (make a full stop at red lights and stop signs) and yield right-of-way. Ride single file. Keep to the far right of the road except when making a left-hand turn. Stay alert—watch for opening car doors, debris in the road and turning vehicles. Cross intersections carefully.

Other safety tips: Wear shoes that protect your feet—not sandals. Carry repair gear and a cell phone to call for help if needed. Avoid riding on sidewalks because drivers can’t see you coming at intersections. And don’t drink alcohol if you’ll be cycling, for the same reason you don’t want to drink and drive a motor vehicle. Intoxication leads to serious and even fatal injuries.

Related Links :  The Benefits of Bike Riding

How to Kick Your Sugar Habit Once and for All

Do you have a love-hate relationship with your sweet tooth? Do you love taking a big, chocolaty bite of that candy bar you crave after lunch, but you hate those extra few pounds you put on over the course of the year?

If your sugar habit is out of control and you’re ready to kick it for good, here’s how to go about it in a way that’s more likely to result in success rather than relapse.

Take your time. Going cold turkey works for some people, but not most. Instead of quitting your sugar habit altogether, take your time weaning yourself off of the sweet stuff. This is more likely to help you lose your taste for sugar and reduce your cravings. Start out by cutting your sugar in half. Instead of two handfuls of M&Ms, only take one. Instead of two teaspoons of sugar, add one to your coffee. Do this for a week, then reduce it by half again for another week. Your goal should be to either switch to natural or artificial sweeteners or skip the sweetness completely.

Go easy on the extras. It’s usually extras and add-ins that take your sugar consumption over the top, like sprinkles on your frozen yogurt, sugar on your cereal or chocolate syrup in your coffee. Instead of relying on your old favorites, turn to new add-ins or go without. Instead of sprinkles on your yogurt, go with granola or fruit. Try berries in your morning cereal instead of a tablespoon of sugar. Rather than chocolate syrup, try getting a coffee made with flavored beans.

Break up with soda. Regular, sweetened soda is one of the worst sugary offenders. Wean yourself off of your dependence by mixing half of your regular soda with half of its diet equivalent for a while. This can ease your transition into the switch to diet soda, which doesn’t have the same sugary taste. But research shows that drinking diet sodas isn’t healthy and can increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, kidney damage andobesity, as well as damaging your cells and teeth. Instead, try to skip the soda altogether by drinking more water (with lemon or lime, if you prefer) or making your own bubbly beverages. Seltzer water is a great, healthy alternative that you can dress up in a variety of ways. You could try flavored varieties, but it might be tastier to make your own. Add strawberries, melon slices, lemon or lime wedges, raspberries or mint to your seltzer water for a more interesting take.

Give yourself a limit. You don’t necessarily have to cut sugar out of your life forever if you’re trying to break your habit. But instead of allowing yourself to indulge in whatever you want, give yourself a specific daily quota for the amount of sugar you can have. The World Health Organization recommends a daily sugar intake of less than 10 percent of your daily calories. That’s the equivalent of 40 grams if you’re on a 1,600-calorie diet. Keep track of your serving sizes or decide to splurge on one thing in particular each day, like sugar in your morning coffee or an ounce of dark chocolate after dinner (some chocolates, in moderation, may be good for your heart).

Buy sugar-free condiments. Condiments like ketchup are loaded with more sugar than you think, but you don’t have to let these sneaky foods ruin your commitment. Lots of brands offer sugar-free varieties for people with diabetes or those who are watching their waistlines, so pick these up next time you go to the grocery store. That way, your next burger won’t sabotage your efforts. Avoid foods with labels that have ingredients like sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cane juice crystals, evaporated cane juice, dextrose, molasses or malted barley extract. All of these mean that whatever you’re looking at has sugar in it.

Related Links :

10 Sneaky Ways to Get More Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet

Are you eating your fruits and veggies? In a recent informal poll by HealthyWomen, 42 percent of respondents answered that question with a resounding no, reporting only consuming 0-2 servings a day. A close second (40 percent) say they consume 3-5 servings, which is still lower than the American Heart Association’s suggested amount, which calls for eight servings. The Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend anywhere from 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on age, gender, physical activity and overall health.

We all know that fruits and veggies ward off chronic conditions while helping us to feel healthier and more energized. But even for the most health-conscious eaters, getting more of these nutrients can be a challenge. So, try these 10 tricks for adding more fruits and veggies to your daily diet.

Snack smart: Instead of snacking on chips or cookies, make sure to have healthier alternatives on hand. Some great options include baby carrots and hummus, celery and peanut butter, sugar snap peas or a piece of fruit. Remember that a ½ cup of most raw fruits or veggies equals one serving.

Leave fruit in obvious sight: Passing by the kitchen? You’re more likely to grab a handful of grapes or cherries if they are sitting on the counter displayed in a nice bowl. Or perhaps, if they’re in your view, you’ll grab a banana or orange on the way out the door.

Make soup: Homemade soups can be super simple and a great way to increase your vegetable intake. Cook any amount of fresh or leftover vegetables (for example, carrots, onions, green beans, mushrooms, rutabagas, tomatoes and zucchini) until vegetables are tender and add them to a simple broth for an easy weekday meal. Throw in a can of beans and some leftover cooked brown rice or quinoa for a heartier soup.

Plan ahead: If you find yourself with a free hour on a Sunday morning, get out the chopper and prepare your veggies for the week. Sautee some olive oil with peppers, mushrooms, onions and zucchini so the mix is ready to add to any meal—omelets, salads, sandwiches, pasta and more.

Never go fruit or veggie-less: Make sure every meal or snack you eat is paired with a fruit or veggie. For instance, add salsa to your eggs, avocado to your turkey sandwich and fruit to your cereal or pair string cheese with a handful of grapes or celery with peanut butter, instead of crackers.

Double up: Two serving of veggies please! This is the one time that doubling up on your servings can actually be a good thing. The USDA recommends filling half your plate with fruits and veggies.
Always include salad before or after dinner. And this doesn’t have to mean just boring lettuce and tomato—try spicing it up, maybe with sautéed mushrooms or by making a chopped salad with fruit and nuts.

Freeze your fruit: Looking for a sweet snack after dinner? Sometimes the perfect simple dessert consists of a handful of frozen grapes or strawberries (1/2 a cup equals one serving).

Snack on a smoothie: A blended smoothie can offer the perfect breakfast, lunch or snack. Start with your favorite fruits and some low-fat or almond milk and then throw in a handful of greens for an added nutritional boost (1 cup of greens equals one serving of veggies). If you’re worried that you won’t like the flavor of the spinach or romaine, add a banana or a small spoonful of peanut butter or both, and you won’t taste the greens.

Sneak it in: Picky eaters won’t even notice a layer of spinach in the lasagna or a cup of sautéed diced carrots in the tomato sauce. Making your own hummus? Blend in red peppers and avocado for added flavor and health benefits.

Related Links :

Top 5 Exercise Time-Wasters to Trim

We all know that fitting in a workout isn’t always easy. Between jobs, kids, spouses, friends and downtime, it can be tough to work up the motivation to get yourself moving. So when you do hit the gym, your number one priority should be taking full advantage of the time you have there.

While your fitness efforts may be paying off when you look in the mirror, chances are you could be getting the same—if not better—results in a shorter amount of time if you cut out exercise time-wasters. Here are the top five to trim from your routine.

Getting too much rest

It’s true that your muscles should get a bit of rest in between intense workouts, but sitting idly on the machine or standing around the water fountain isn’t doing you any favors. Instead, Jennifer Beaton, vice president of fitness for Bay Club, an operator of luxury athletic clubs and sports resorts in California, recommends separating your exercises into muscle-specific moves. That way, while you do a set for one muscle group, your other groups are resting. Or, do cardio in between to burn more calories and promote muscle recovery.

Watching TV or reading

It might make working out more bearable, but watching TV or reading while you sweat it out can make your workouts longer, because you could go easy on yourself while you’re focused on these activities. For example, 45 minutes spent at a steady pace on the treadmill while you catch up on the latest bestseller is OK, but you could spend half that time if you focus on walking, jogging or running and do high-intensity intervals every couple of minutes.

Chatting with friends

The buddy system is a great way to stay motivated, but it’s important to keep your socializing to a minimum when you’re getting down to business. You might not achieve your maximum cardio potential if you’re trying to save enough breath to tell your pal about your latest life happenings. Isolate the chitchat to warm-ups and cool-downs.

Using the wrong form

No matter how much time you spend doing exercises and how much energy you exert while you’re at them, you’re wasting your time if you’re doing the moves incorrectly. If you don’t have the right form, you could be hurting or straining your muscles, and you’re probably not getting the benefits you think you are. Do some research online and watch a few videos to learn the proper methods, or ask a trainer at your gym for a demo.

Doing too many reps

It might seem like doing 20, 40 or 60 reps on a weight machine is a good idea, but you can get better results quicker if you just increase the weight you’re using. If you’re using the proper amount of weight, you shouldn’t be able to do that many reps. Anywhere from eight to 15 reps is standard for general muscle conditioning. If you feel like you could do more, add weight.

FDA Orders Food Producers to Stop Adding Trans Fats

You know those guilty pleasures you love, like bags of chocolate chip cookies, frozen pizzas and canned cinnamon rolls? Some of them will get a little healthier soon, thanks to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s move to remove artificial trans fats from processed foods. 

The FDA ruled that partially hydrogenated oils—the major dietary source of industrially produced trans fat—are no longer “generally recognized as safe.” That decision was based on increasing scientific evidence and expert testimony that trans fats can increase the “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and reduce the “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This raises risk for coronary heart disease and heart attacks. 

The FDA estimates that removing artificial trans fats from the nation’s food supply could prevent as many as 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year, according to a HealthDay news article.

The FDA will allow the food industry three years—to June 18, 2018—to phase out partially hydrogenated oils or seek special FDA approval for use of the oils as a food additive. 

Partially hydrogenated oils have been widely used in processed foods since the 1950s. They are created by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oil to make it more solid. They improve the texture, shelf life and long-term flavor of processed foods, according to the FDA.

Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies and other baked goods
Snack foods (such as some microwave popcorn)
Stick margarines and some spreads
Vegetable shortenings
Non-dairy coffee creamers
Refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
Frozen pizzas
Ready-to-use frostings

In 2006, the FDA began requiring food manufacturers to list trans fat on nutrition labels. With pressure from the FDA and an increasing consumer awareness of healthy eating, many companies voluntarily changed the way they processed foods. They stopped using partially hydrogenated oils, thus reducing or eliminating the trans fat in their products. 

The Grocery Manufacturers Association reports that producers have lowered the amounts of partially hydrogenated oils in food products by 86 percent since 2003. 

After the three-year transition period, partially hydrogenated oils will be gone from processed foods (except by special permission), but trans fat won’t be completely eliminated from food, notes Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products and are found at low levels in other edible oils, where they are unavoidably produced during the manufacturing process.

In the meantime, Mayne encourages consumers to read labels carefully. Even if a food package claims to have “0 grams of trans fat,” it’s a good idea to read the ingredient list. Under current regulations, companies can claim to have no trans fat if the food contains less than 0.5 grams. The FDA recommends consumers read the ingredient list to see if a produce contains partially hydrogenated oil and avoid it when possible. Even small amounts can add up.

“This is going to be a huge public health victory,” Jim O’Hara, director of health promotion at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told HealthDay. “It’s time to get trans fats out of the food supply.

Related Links :

6 Excuse-Proof Exercises

If, like many of us, you want to lose weight and tone your body but don’t want to spend the time or money at a gym, you’ve come to the right place. The six exercise Images below are easy to follow and can all be done in the comfort of your home—in less time than you think.

Top 5 Snacks to Fuel Your Workout

It doesn’t matter if you work out in the morning, during your lunch break or at night: pre-workout snacks are always important. They help ensure that your body has everything it needs to fuel itself during whatever activity you’re doing, whether it’s climbing the StairMaster, running on the treadmill, spinning on a bike, pumping iron or playing a tennis match.

But there’s a lot of confusing information out there about what the best kinds of snacks are—should they be high in carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats or some combination of nutrients? Here’s what you need to know about eating before your workout, as well as the top five snacks that’ll keep you going.

Aim for carbs and protein

The best pre-workout snacks have a relatively high amount of carbs, a moderate amount of protein and limited amounts of fat. While protein is important for building muscles and repairing them after exercise, carbs are essential to give you the energy to work those muscles in the first place. Your best bet is to choose a snack with both complex and simple carbs so that the energy released during your workout is slow and steady throughout your regimen. It’s also important that the carbs are easily digestible.

Consider the timing

You shouldn’t eat your snack on the way to the gym down the street or as you head out the door for your run. You’ll get the maximum amount of energy by eating 30 to 60 minutes before your workout, so planning is important.

Adjust the size

A small snack is enough to get you through a 45-minute workout, but if you’re planning a two-hour run or a particularly long cardio and weight-training session, you should adjust the size of your snack accordingly. This will ensure that you have enough fuel to last the entire time.

Top 5 Snacks to Fuel Your Workout

Whole-wheat toast with nut or seed butter, banana and cinnamon. A slice of whole-wheat toast with your choice of something like peanut, almond or sunflower seed butter topped with slices of banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon is a great pre-workout snack. It gives you simple and complex carbs, is easy to digest, increases your potassium levels (which drop when you sweat) and stabilizes your blood sugar.

Apple slices and yogurt peanut butter dip. Mix nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt with peanut or almond butter to make a dip that’s perfect for apple slices. Consider adding grapes or raisins for an extra kick of energy.

Heart-healthy cereal. Pour yourself a serving of whole-grain cereal mixed with uncooked oatmeal, slivered almonds and chopped dates. Add low-fat milk or almond milk and you’re good to go.
Half of a lean protein sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Make yourself a sandwich with chicken, turkey or lean roast beef on whole-wheat bread for a great mix of carbs and protein. Veggies like lettuce, tomato or spinach will add nutrients.

Smoothie. The best thing about smoothies is that they’re portable and easy to customize. Blend sliced fruit, Greek yogurt and some granola or oats for a thicker consistency, and consider add-ins like protein powder, kale or peanut butter.

Related Link :

9 Sunscreen Booby Traps to Avoid

Think you know how to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s damaging rays? Think again. Skin cancer (read more about skin cancer) is the most common type of cancer, probably making up more than half of all diagnosed cases of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The good news is that about 90 percent of all skin cancers could be prevented by properly protecting yourself. Get your facts straight so you—and your family—can safely enjoy the great outdoors all year long.

4 big mistakes with big consequences:

Relying on sunscreen (or sunblock, or suntan lotion) for protection: Too many people think that using sunscreen will allow them to remain in the sun all day without burning. Experts agree: Using sunscreen isn’t enough. In addition to using the right sunscreen properly, shade yourself with a beach umbrella and wear closely woven brimmed hats and clothing (preferably made from fabric treated for UV protection). Don’t forget your eyes! Wearing wrap-around sunglasses with UV-screening lenses will help protect your precious peepers (read more on eye health).

During the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the UV light is strongest, try to avoid the sun altogether. Not watching the clock? The “shadow rule” can help: avoid the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are—that’s when the sun is strongest.

Using the wrong sunscreen: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are six main skin types, from very fair to black, and each has differing risks of enduring sun damage that can cause cancer.
Different skin types need sunscreens with varying SPF (sunburn protection factor) ratings. The American Academy of Dermatology advises, in general, choosing a sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Very fair people—who burn easily and often suffer bad sunburns—should choose higher SPF numbers such as 30 or 45. That doesn’t mean, as some people think, that they can use SPF 45 and stay in the sun 45 times longer than without sunscreen coverage. It’s estimated that SPF 45 provides only 3 to 4 percent more protection than a SPF 15.

According to Dr. Taylor, the founder of, an online dermatological resource for women of Asian, African, Latin, Native American, Pacific and other native descents, skin pigment, or melanin, in the “average” African American gives protection equivalent to SPF 13, but that brown- and black-skinned people should still use sunscreen with as least SPF 15. Think of it this way: although it’s not exactly additive, (SPF) 13 plus 15 equals 28, or close to (SPF) 30.

Using too little sunscreen: If you’re lucky, you might find 8-ounce bottles of sunscreen, but many of the products sold today contain only 4 ounces or less. For adequate coverage, an “average”-sized adult needs to use one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount that fills your palm or a shot glass) each time they apply it. Larger people will need more. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours. If you’re swimming or playing a sweaty sport, you need to apply it immediately after drying off.

When you do the math, you’ll quickly see that if sunscreen is applied correctly, one 8-ounce bottle shared by a few family members or friends won’t last past lunchtime, if that. The American Cancer Society (ACS) stresses the importance of applying sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going outside to let your skin absorb it. The ACS also recommends using sunscreen even on cloudy days. Also, use lip balm containing sunscreen.

Relying on only SPF numbers: Do you purchase sunscreen based only on SPF number listed on the bottle? Next time you’re shopping, you may want to take a closer look at the label. SPF only measures UVB (ultraviolet-B) radiation protection, not UVA (ultraviolet-A) protection. Both types of UV light lead to skin damage and cancer so it’s vital that sunscreens protect from UVA as well as UVB. Make sure the product specifies protection from both or says “broad-spectrum” on the label.
5 other sunscreen booby traps to know about:

Despite advertising claims, no sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” according to the FDA. “Water resistant” sunscreens must be reapplied after 40 minutes of sweaty activity or swimming.

As crazy as it sounds, certain sunscreen ingredients break down in sunlight!  Some ingredients also break down over time, the FDA says, and that deterioration may be speeded by sun exposure. So throw away last year’s bottles and keep your sunscreen in a shaded spot when outdoors. The Environmental Working Group, a public health advocacy organization, found that 54 percent of sunscreens contain ingredients that become unstable when exposed to light and might not offer the advertised protection. The group lists what it deems the “best” sunscreens here.

Don’t look for “sunblock.” The FDA states that no product completely blocks UV rays. “Sunscreen” is a more accurate term.

Watch out for human error and don’t be frugal with sun protection. “Most sunscreen users still get burned because they do not apply enough sunscreen to begin with,” Dr. Taylor says. Slather sunscreen on thickly, covering all exposed skin. Pay attention to the areas that usually get missed: ears, around the eyes, neck (all the way around!), hands, feet and toes.

Use sunscreen or wear long-sleeved clothing when driving, since side-window glass can let in UVA rays as can some windows in buildings. And remember that water, sand, concrete and snow all increase the reflection of sunlight, so put on more sunscreen and shorten your exposure time.

7 Foods for Healthy Hair

You are what you eat, the old saying goes. Whether or not you think that pertains to the brain, nails, skin or hair, I suspect that what we put in our bodies affects all of these things. Simply put, food supplies your body with important nutrients to keep it running at its best. 

For example, a few foods that have been shown to be beneficial to the brain are walnuts, omega-3 fats, blueberries, turmeric, barley and quinoa, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A low-carb Mediterranean diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, legumes, “good” fats and fish are thought to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. 

And what about your hair? While there are many products on the market that can temporarily boost the look of your tresses, why not put some healthy ingredients into your body to go to work for—and protect— those 100,000 hairs on your head? 

Here are some foods with hair-health benefits:

Healthy omega-3 fatty acids can foster hair growth and sheen. Your body is unable to manufacture these healthy fats on its own, so fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna can supply them. The American Heart Association advises eating two servings (3.5-ounce portions) of fatty fish per week. If you don’t eat seafood, omega-3s are also found in some nuts and seeds, such as flaxseeds, but it’s in a different form, so you may also want to talk with your health care provider about taking a supplement. 

Greek yogurt is packed with protein, which is critical for keeping hair healthy. It also contains vitamin B5 (or pantothenic acid), which may help prevent hair thinning and loss. And while we’re on the subject of protein, make sure to get protein from foods like lean meat, chicken and turkey, which can protect against hair loss and promote growth and thickness. Eggs, milk and cheese are also considered complete protein sources. If you’re a vegetarian, find your protein in foods like quinoa, chickpeas and lentils.

Strawberries, citrus fruits and peppers. What do these have in common? They’re high in vitamin C, needed by your body to help produce protein. And since your body can’t make or store vitamin C, it’s important to include foods that contain this vitamin in your daily diet. Other sources include pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit and veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and leafy greens.

Iron-rich foods. Low iron can contribute to hair loss. Treat any deficiency with iron-rich foods like lean meat, turkey, whole grains, dried fruit, beans and egg yolks.

Biotin. This water-soluble B complex vitamin, also known as vitamin H, is found in small amounts in certain foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt, chicken and liver. Biotin helps to strengthen the keratin in the hair and nails and comes in different types of over-the-counter supplements. There is preliminary evidence that it may reduce hair loss caused by an autoimmune disease when biotin supplements are combined with zinc and a topical cream containing clobetasol propionate.  

Sweet potatoes. Your body turns the antioxidant beta carotene into vitamin A, which in turn helps protect against dry or dull hair and encourages production of sebum (an oily fluid produced by the glands in your scalp that keeps your strands from drying out). Beta carotene, which gives veggies and fruit their rich colors, is also found in carrots, apricots, mangoes, asparagus, broccoli and kale. 
Silica. In a study of women with temporary hair thinning, it was found that those who took the oral supplement silica experienced significant hair growth. Foods that contain this mineral include bananas, beer, oats and raisins. 

Related Links : Healthy Hair

Help Heal Yourself With Yoga

As a college student, Julianna Blankenship began experiencing the unpleasant and distressing signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including abdominal cramping, diarrhea and frequently feeling as if she needed to use a bathroom. Julianna’s condition was long-lasting and possibly genetic—both her father and grandmother have IBS.

Doctors gave her medications to dry out her system, but the side effects created new agony. “I felt like I was replacing my symptoms with worse symptoms,” she says.

So Julianna looked for alternatives. She read online that researchers were exploring the role yoga—a mind-body practice of physical poses (asanas), breathing exercises and meditative thought—might play in improving IBS and other intestinal disorders. Using videos and a book about yoga, Julianna started learning basic poses at home.

“Within two days, I saw a difference,” she says. “The yoga restores the balance to my digestive system. I don’t know how it does it, but I can feel it physically.”

After three months of doing yoga, she felt well enough to stop taking medication. The only time she needed medicine again, she says, was when she let her yoga practice lapse due to long hours at work as a financial marketing specialist. Now Julianna, who is 25, practices regularly in her Rochester, Michigan, home.

“I still have symptoms from time to time, but they are markedly down when I do yoga. When I’m not doing yoga, I have symptoms 100 percent of the time,” she says. “If I do it at least three times a week, then I have little or no problem.”

Yoga’s benefits

Scientific investigation into how yoga might help IBS sufferers is still going on, but yoga has long been shown to help reduce stress, a major contributor to IBS symptoms. Yoga also lessens a***y and d***n, which can affect both emotional well-being and short- or long-term physical difficulties.

Does it make sense to roll out the mat the next time you have a health concern?

“Many research studies have shown that yoga is alleviating certain medical conditions,” says Kyeongra Yang, PhD, MPH, RN, an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She conducted a review that found yoga was effective in reducing body weight and other factors linked to diabetes.
“Yoga improves glucose and insulin levels, which is important in both types of diabetes,” Dr. Yang says. “Highblood pressure and cholesterol levels—common problems among people with type 2 diabetes—can be alleviated by practicing yoga.”

Other studies have turned up more good news about how yoga practice, even after only a short time, can benefit your health. There’s evidence that yoga can improve sleep, increase exercise endurance for those with heart conditions or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reduce pregnancy discomforts and lessen low back pain. It also has been shown to help breast cancer patients and survivors reduce fatigue and menopausal symptoms as well as improve emotions.

Yoga also may help prevent or manage cardiovascular disease, according to Kim “Karen” E. Innes, MSPH, PhD, an associate professor at The Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville.

Yet you don’t have to have a medical condition to reap gains from regular yoga sessions. “Yoga can improve physical function, balance and cardiopulmonary fitness in both healthy and chronically ill adults,” Dr. Innes says.

Although the mechanisms underlying yoga’s observed beneficial effects are not yet well understood, yoga likely influences health status in several ways, says Dr. Innes. For example, yoga may enhance both mental and physical health by effecting positive changes in emotional state, in nervous system balance and in brain chemistry and function, which in turn can lead to improvements in mood, sleep, physiological profiles and other measures of wellbeing. She adds that yoga can also lead to increased physical activity and overall fitness, promote social interaction (if taking classes), encourage healthy dietary choices and strengthen spiritual beliefs—all of which may directly or indirectly enhance and protect your health.

Less pain, more gain

Because yoga began in India thousands of years ago, doctors there are more accepting of its health benefits than are many in Western cultures. Mary Cosgrove, a human relations consultant and coach in Salt Lake City, faced resistance when she asked doctors about using yoga to help her heal from pain she suffered in a bike accident.

“My brakes locked up. I hit a post and fell,” says Mary, who was 50 at the time of the accident. The crash twisted the nerves and bones in her pelvic girdle. “I couldn’t sit for six months.”

Mary underwent physical therapy and shots for the pain, with little positive effect. When she raised the possibility of trying yoga, she says, “I got a lot of push-back from my doctors.” They were concerned that she would injure herself again—something that happened when she tried an “easy” aerobics class after the accident and ended up with plantar fasciitis, a heel pain problem.

Although her doctors didn’t support the idea, Mary started going to a “restorative yoga” class, designed for people with health problems. “It was very gentle. You lay in a pose for a period of time,” she says, explaining that foam blocks, bolsters and blankets were used to hold her body in the correct positions.

“It was like kindergarten nap time,” she says, with a laugh. The poses enabled her to begin moving the injured area. “I slowly started to get better,” she adds.

Yoga has been shown to help with musculoskeletal problems, and Mary found relief—both for the injury to her pelvic and hip area as well as for the heel pain. Yet she had to try several yoga teachers before finding one—a former dancer who had also suffered injury—who understood how to help her learn the poses safely.

Like Julianna, Mary finds that her pain returns if she lessens her yoga practice. She tries to take at least two classes each week.

“I feel like I’m resourceful now, whereas before I was so frustrated—it was medications and injections and one thing after another,” Mary says.

That appears to be a typical pattern. “If people are practicing yoga regularly,” Dr. Yang says, “we expect that their health conditions will improve and, thus, they will need fewer medications and have less complications.”

Before you begin

If you’re thinking of trying yoga to help with a health condition, consider these suggestions from Dr. Innes and Dr. Yang:

Consult with your health care provider about your interest in using yoga to help manage your condition.

Find an experienced yoga instructor who knows how to modify poses to make them safer and more accessible for you. Talk to the teacher before signing up for the class, to make sure that the sessions will fit your needs. Some instructors are specially trained in therapeutic yoga.

Many types of yoga have been shown to be beneficial at preventing and managing health problems. Choose a class that lets you start slowly and gently.

To avoid injury, pay attention to how your body feels during poses. Do not push yourself or try to compete with what others in the class are doing.

There’s no recommended frequency, but research shows effects from yoga with one-hour sessions, two or three times weekly, for eight to 12 weeks. Daily practice—even for just five minutes—is very helpful.

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Healthy Skin Dos and Don’ts

The key to healthy skin lies beyond which soap you use. It depends on what you eat, whether you exercise, how much stress you’re under and even the kind of environment in which you live and work.

All of these things affect how fast your skin ages, and thus how it will look, by influencing certain processes that lead to oxidation and inflammation. Sounds complicated, but it really is not.

Basically, complex chemical processes in your body produce unstable molecules called free radicals. Think of them as Skin Enemy No. 1. Left to their own devices, they go on to damage otherwise healthy cells in a process called oxidation. This is the same process that turns an apple brown or changes a copper roof from reddish gold to blue-green, so you can just imagine the way it can affect your skin. Sun, smoking, air pollution and poor diet all speed production of these free radicals.

Luckily, your body also produces antioxidants, molecules whose job it is to sweep up those free radicals before they can do any serious harm. How you take care of yourself—including what you eat—can increase production of these valuable molecules, literally saving your skin.
Nutrition and your skin

Women have been using foods as facial treatments for centuries, making masks of egg whites and olive oil, putting cucumbers over their eyes to reduce swelling. But did you know that the food you put in your mouth can affect the health of your skin more than anything you could put on your face?
Although studies find certain individual foods can help you maintain healthy skin, your overall diet—as well as your weight—matters most. For instance, if you’re overweight and/or you eat a diet high in processed foods, including white bread, cookies, ice cream and packaged dinners, and low in fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables, you have a higher risk of developing a condition called insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

In this condition, insulin, a hormone that “unlocks” the cell so glucose, or fuel, can get in, doesn’t work very well. Thus, all this glucose builds up in your bloodstream instead of disappearing into cells where it’s supposed to go. This, in turn, damages skin. How? By reacting with the protein fiber network (i.e., collagen and other proteins) that make skin resilient. This reaction creates harmful waste products called advanced glycosylation endproducts, or AGEs, those free radicals mentioned earlier. Fibers stiffen, skin loses it elasticity and you become more vulnerable to wrinkling, sagging and damage from ultraviolet (UV) light.

But eat a varied and nutritious diet, and it’s amazing what can happen to your skin. In one study, researchers from Monash University in Australia found people who ate the most fruits, vegetables and fish had the least amount of wrinkles. However, the researchers found, diets high in saturated fat, including meat, butter and full-fat dairy, as well as soft drinks, cakes, pastries and potatoes (called “high-glycemic” foods), increased the likelihood of skin wrinkling. Coincidentally, these high-glycemic foods are also implicated in insulin resistance.

So, if you want to follow a skin-healthy diet, make sure you pack your diet full of these nutrients:

Vitamins E and C. Studies find these vitamins can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, particularly in supplement form. Meanwhile, vitamin C is a valuable nutrient in collagen synthesis, the protein that helps hold skin together and give it tone. If you do supplement, don’t exceed 400 IU of vitamin E because it could increase the risk of bleeding. Best food sources: vegetable oils, margarine, eggs, fish, whole-grain cereals and dried beans for vitamin E; citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers and leafy green vegetables for vitamin C.

Essential fatty acids. Several studies find that the amount of poly- and monounsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet can minimize sun and aging damage to your skin. Best food sources: cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. For healthy mono fats, stick with olive oil and nuts.

Tea. Tea, particularly green tea, is an excellent source of antioxidants called polyphenols. That may be why one Arizona study found that the more hot tea people drank (particularly tea with lemon) the less likely they were to develop squamous cell skin cancer.
Vitamin A. Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin A forms the basis for a slew of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter skin products that contain retinoids. One study found a strong connection between vitamin A levels in the blood (an indicator of the amount in the diet) and skin dryness; the more vitamin A, the moister the skin. You shouldn’t supplement with vitamin A, and it’s hard to get enough via food, but it’s easy to get vitamin A’s precursor—beta-carotene—which is converted to vitamin A in your intestine. Best food sources: orange, red and yellow fruits; vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cantaloupe; and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.

Exercise and your skin

You know the glow your skin takes on after a brisk walk outside or a tough aerobics class? Generally, that’s related to perspiration, which is one way your body gets rid of toxins.

But exercise does much more than flush impurities out of your skin. It also promotes production of sebum, or oil, your skin’s natural moisturizer, and enhances blood flow to the skin. That’s important because blood carries oxygen and valuable nutrients that help maintain skin health.
Plus, regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight and keep insulin resistance at bay. Exercise is also an important way to manage stress. If you’re exercising outdoors, though, remember to protect your face and body from UVA and UVB rays by wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen protection. You don’t want to “undo” all the good of that workout.

The environment and your skin

If you’ve ever had to slather on the moisturizer after a cross-country airplane flight or suffered a breakout while visiting a large urban city, then you know firsthand the way the environment can affect your skin.

It’s never too late to quit smoking. Quit today, and your skin will show the health benefits tomorrow. Air pollution, the dry, recirculated air of an airplane, smoking and, of course, the sun are all enemies of skin health. They increase the production of free radicals, strip antioxidants from your skin and intensify the effects of aging. Smoking, for instance, constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the skin. It also depletes levels of valuable antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, increasing damage to the elastin, the elastic fibers in your skin that provide a healthy tone. Just the smoke curling up from the cigarette can damage skin as much as any other pollutant. In fact, studies find that people who smoke have significantly more wrinkles at an earlier age than those who don’t. Of course, the greatest damage to your skin occurs from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Over time, the sun, like smoking, damages elastin and collagen, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Most of the damage occurs in your childhood years—it just doesn’t show up until middle age.

And it’s not just soaking up the rays on the beach that does the damage. Simply sitting near a window, driving your car and walking outside also expose you to the harmful rays of the sun, and these are all activities in which you’re much less likely to wear sunscreen. No wonder, then, that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year. Overall, one in six Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. The reality is that there is no such thing as a healthy tan—unless it’s one that comes out of a bottle.

Five suncreen facts

The higher the SPF (sun protection factor) the better. That’s not only because of the increased protection higher SPF sunscreens provide, but because most people don’t use nearly enough to begin with. However, the SPF only indicates protection provided against UVB rays—not the invisible, ultraviolet-A rays that can also affect skin health and hasten the aging process. That’s why you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

The more the better. You need to apply at least a shot glass’s worth of sunscreen every couple of hours you’re in the sun. In fact, you should reapply your sunscreen every two to four hours. That means a six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should last just a couple of visits to the beach—not all summer.

UVB protection isn’t enough. Early versions of sunscreen only protected against UVB rays, but both UVB and UVA rays contribute to skin cancer. To find a sunscreen that protects against both, look for Parsol 1789, also called avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on the ingredients list. Stay posted for what dermatologists are calling the superpower of sunscreen protection—a chemical called mexoryl, which has an SPF of 60 and provides much greater protection against UVA rays than anything else on the market. Available in Europe and Australia, it is under consideration for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

SPF has nothing to do with how long you can stay in the sun. Studies find that people think the higher the SPF rating, the longer they can stay out in the sun. That’s simply not true. While higher numbered products (SPF-40, for example) do provide more protection, using sunscreen doesn’t prevent all the possible harmful effects of the sun. Plus, few people use sunscreen the right way—a full ounce every couple of hours; more if you’ve been swimming or sweating.

You need more than sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. You also need a hat, protective clothing and a time limit for your stay in the sun.

Meditation’s Health Benefits

Meditation can have big health benefits. Sitting alone in a quiet room might give you more than a peaceful moment to yourself. That pause in your day could also help 

you reduce stress, ease a***ty, lower blood pressure, improve immune function or lift your mood. Such health changes may be possible through meditation, a centuries-

old spiritual practice that’s gaining attention in the 21st century for tangible, not mystical, reasons.
Although science and spirit seem unlikely partners, Western medicine is increasingly considering the benefits of using meditation in conjunction with traditional drugs 

or other therapies to heal modern woes.
“A lot of hospitals have programs now as a complementary treatment for conditions,” says researcher Kimberly Williams, PhD, assistant professor in community medicine 

at West Virginia University in Morgantown. Studies have found positive results for meditation’s use to support treatment for both physical and psychological ills, she 

Yet meditation is no quick fix. It takes time to develop the technique, and you have to practice regularly.
What’s more, there are different types of meditation. All share certain traits, such as taking a comfortable position, focusing attention and ignoring distractions. 

Among the various meditation approaches, the practice known as mindfulness meditation—sometimes simply called “mindfulness”—has emerged as the method gaining the 

most notice for helping to improve health.
Achieving mindfulness
When we think of meditation, many of us still envision people meditating while repetitively murmuring a word like “om.” This mantra, or specific focus, is at the core 

of concentration meditations. In these modes, distractions are mentally pushed away.
In mindfulness, or insight meditation, meditators focus awareness on their present experience without judging or ignoring distractions. They note their breathing and 

physical sensations as well as random sounds, feelings and thoughts. “You just watch what arises…stay with it as long as it is there and let it go,” Dr. Williams says. 

“The meditator can watch and keep that witnessing perspective.”
Science doesn’t yet know why this may provide health benefits, but it could be by creating changes in thenervous system and brain. By slowing down and taking a 

nonjudgmental view of your thoughts and feelings, proponents say, you become more aware and open, creating greater balance. Mindfulness builds your inner resources, 

allowing you to be calmer and more insightful when facing stress or difficulties.
In an eight-week mindfulness meditation training study conducted by Dr. Williams and her colleagues, participants who completed the course reported a 44 percent 

reduction in psychological distress and a 46 percent lowering of medical symptoms.
“Mindfulness helps you be more present with your life, so you can make conscious choices and engage in all of your experiences in a more meaningful way,” says Shauna 

L. Shapiro, PhD, assistant professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. “You’re training your mind to be more present.”
That sounds easier to do than it is, which is why it’s helpful to learn mindfulness meditation from a teacher or counselor. But does using mindfulness to achieve a 

less-stressed life mean you have to change your religious beliefs? “It’s not about adopting any doctrine,” Dr. Williams says. “It’s about learning the practice, having 

the experience.”
Getting started
Developing a mindful approach through meditation often means fighting yourself. For mindfulness meditation to be effective, you need to take time out from your day’s 

activities, unhook from the steady stream of technological interruptions and recognize that being great at multi-tasking in your personal and work life isn’t 

necessarily wonderful for you all the time.
To begin mindfulness meditation, try these steps:
State your purpose. Ask yourself why you want to practice mindfulness. Many people have a clear idea—they want to improve their sleep, lower stress, or solve a 

relationship issue. As you continue practicing, your intention may evolve, extending the mindful approach to other aspects of your life.
Make a commitment, even a small one. Decide to give over 20 minutes each day for the next two months to practicing mindfulness meditation. “I ask people to see it as 

an experiment, not to be evaluating it every day as you go along,” Dr. Shapiro says. “At the end of two months, you tell me if it was helpful. And, if not, let’s find 

something else.”Dr. Williams believes you can start with as little as five minutes, so long as you meditate at the same time every day. “Can you sit still and be aware 

of your breathing? Try not to miss a day,” she advises. “In the morning, it sets your thermostat for calmness and vitality. In the evening, it lowers stress.”

Train your mind. Each day when you meditate, you will be training your mind to pay attention in an accepting way. “Start with your body and breath as an anchor in the 

moment,” says Dr. Shapiro. “When the mind wanders off, we gently note where it went and come back to (awareness of) breath and body.” Many people are surprised at how 

hard it is to pay attention. When you’re not paying attention, you don’t even feel your breath. “It’s called ‘monkey mind.’ Your mind swings from one thought to 

another, like a monkey in trees,” she adds.”What you’re trying to do is cultivate the ability to pay attention,” says Dr. Shapiro. “You know when you’re mindful and 

when you’re on automatic pilot. There’s a qualitative difference.”
Extend your mindful actions. Mindfulness practice can’t succeed if you compartmentalize it into one 5- or 20-minute session. Once you become comfortable with the 

practice, bring mindfulness into your daily life. Take time to appreciate the experience of simple actions, such as washing dishes, eating a meal or taking a walk. The 

more skilled you become at mindfulness meditation, the more seamless the transition becomes between your “official” mindfulness meditation and everyday experiences.
Find a teacher. It helps to have guidance, as you would in a yoga or spinning class. One good measure is to look for a teacher trained in the mindfulness-based stress 

reduction (MBSR) techniques developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, 

Health Care, and Society. Hospitals with integrative medicine departments are also good resources for meditation programs and instructors.

If you’re experiencing severe, d****n or debilitating, consult with a mental health professional or other health care provider. Some are trained in MBSR and use 

mindfulness meditation along with talk therapy or medications.

8 Ways to Treat Your Feet Right

They’re the workhorses of our bodies, but we give them so little respect.

It’s easy to take our feet for granted. They’re just there, putting up with a host of challenges, from being jammed into high heels and elevated to unnatural heights 

to smothering inside sweaty socks or tight nylon pantyhose.

While suffering those indignities, our feet take hundreds of tons of force impact just during an average day of walking. That pounding explains why feet are the body 

part most likely to get injured.

You don’t need an expensive spa treatment to take care of your feet. Spending just a few minutes a day on foot care and choosing the right shoes can keep you free of 

problems that may lead to pain and even disability. These ideas can help your feet feel great:
Make a point to wash your feet (and between your toes!) with a washcloth carefully and regularly. Yes, that means bending over in the shower to soap them up; if you 

can’t balance safely, use a long-handled shower brush or sit on a chair outside the tub as you wash your feet under the faucets. Be sure to dry feet completely, 

including between the toes. This wash-and-dry system lessens problems such as athlete’s foot, odor, bacteria and fungus.
If you like to soak your feet, forget the Epsom salts—they’re too drying and don’t offer any medical benefit. Instead, just use warm (never hot) water and a little 

liquid soap, such as dishwashing solution, containing skin softeners.
Moisturize your feet after washing. During dry-skin winter months, you may want to moisturize several times a day. Nothing fancy is needed: basic lotions and creams 

are fine.

Alternate the shoes you wear each day. That may mean having two pairs of your favorite everyday style, but shoes need time to air out to avoid triggering foot odor or 

infections. Change socks or stockings more than once a day. If you have a problem with smelly feet, soak them in a mixture of vinegar and water.
Your feet should not hurt—ever. Tight shoes can worsen bunions, distort toe shape and cause painful foot growths. If you wear high heels, choose heels that are wide, 

stable and no higher than two inches. Toe boxes should be wide; pointed toes shouldn’t begin their narrowing shape until well past the ball of the foot. To protect 

your Achilles tendon from shortening, alternate heel heights regularly.
Flip-flops and completely flat shoes don’t provide arch support. Neither does walking barefoot. Women are especially prone to developing flat feet, which can lead to 

other foot problems. To keep feet strong and healthy, minimize the amount of time you wear shoes that lack supportive arches.
Pregnancy, aging and diabetes all affect your feet. Pregnant women need shoes with broad heels, arch support and good shock absorbency. Added pregnancy weight may 

cause your shoe size to change, so get your feet measured. Older women lose some of the cushioning fat on the balls of their feet; choose shoes that provide more shock 

protection. Diabetics can develop serious conditions related to the feet and lower legs. Check feet for any problems daily and see a podiatric physician at least 


Be cautious about having a pedicure in a salon, where cleanliness of tubs and instruments is vital. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor before having a