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Straight From the Headlines Getting More Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

Written by Lisa Jillanza

According to an article on CNN Health a recent study suggests that lack of sleep could throw off a diet.

Research from the University of Chicago showed that dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat than dieters who slept 5.5 hours. How is this possible? According to the study not having enough sleep could affect a hormone called ghrelin, known to affect appetite and weight. An increase in this hormone level has been shown to make people hungrier and cause higher fat retention.

The study included 10 sedentary nonsmokers, between the ages of 35 to 49 years with a body mass index considered overweight to obese (BMI 25-32), who stayed in what's considered a closed study environment for two weeks. They ate the same diet, consumed multivitamins and performed the same type of work or leisure activities. Six of them were assigned to 8.5 hours of sleep, and four slept 5.5 hours. Those who slept more lost more fat and maintained fat-free body mass.

The dieters who slept less also reported feeling hungrier throughout the course of the study.

Study authors wrote, "Together, these results suggest that the loss of sleep at times of limited food intake amplifies the pattern of ghrelin-associated changes in human hunger, glucose and fat utilization, and energy metabolism.”

Furthermore, according to About.com inadequate sleep amounts can affect you in a myriad of unhealthy ways:

Lack of sleep interferes with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates and causes high blood levels of glucose, which leads to higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage.

Drives down leptin levels, which causes the body to crave carbohydrates.

Reduces levels of growth hormone--a protein that helps regulate the body's proportions of fat and muscle.

Can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to increased risk of diabetes.

Can increase blood pressure.

Can increase the risk of heart disease.

It may be worth your while health-wise to try to pack in as many zzz's as possible.

 

Prepare Yourself for Cold and Flu Season: Do's and Don'ts

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Now that the kids are back in school and the weather is starting to change, it's time to start worrying about cold and flu season. According to MSNBC, while the flu can resemble a cold, the flu has more severe symptoms including fever, achy joints, sore throat, chills, congestion, headache and hacking cough. In addition, children sometimes come down with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when they catch the flu.

Adults can pass the virus to others a day before they feel sick and up to 7 days after symptoms appear, according to experts. So it is possible to give someone the flu even before you know you've got it yourself. Therefore it's important to take steps to protect you or your family from getting it in the first place. Here's some do's and don'ts to keep in mind:

Do Use Hand Sanitizer- Carry a pocket-size hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it generously whenever you are in public places. Germs are everywhere and on everything and by using hand sanitizer you are protecting yourself from bringing home these flu viruses.

Do Wash Your Hands Frequently- It may seem like the simplest thing to do, but be sure that you are washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, and for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Teachers are now telling students to sing the ABC's or Happy Birthday to themselves while they are washing their hands to be sure you are washing for a full 15 to 20 seconds.

Do Sneeze Into the Crook of Your Elbow- By sneezing into your elbow, you are avoiding transmitting flu viruses to your hands and will keep you from passing the virus to others. It may seem socially awkward at first, but soon you will see more and more people doing this when they sneeze.

Do Fight Back with Food- Research shows that adding certain foods to an already healthful diet can increase your ability to fend off colds and flu. Try yogurt, garlic, black tea, mushrooms, and fatty fish.

Don't Shake Hands- To keep from transmitting germs, avoid shaking hands with people when you greet them. Try a head nod, waving or smiling instead to greet someone. If you can't avoid shaking someone's hand, then be sure to use your hand sanitizer following the hand shake.

Don't Use Someone Else's Phone or Computer Mouse- Phones and computers harbor some pretty heinous germs for hours. Avoid sharing someone else's phone or computer mouse if at all possible. If you do have to use someone else's phone or computer wipe it down with an alcohol swab prior to using it.

Don't Change a Diaper Without Washing Your Hands Immediately Afterwards- This should be a given at all times and not just during the flu season, but stool harbors gastrointestinal bugs that cause diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. It may also contain H1N1, so anyone changing a diaper needs to be sure that they are washing their hands (for 15 to 20 seconds) following the changing.

Managing Stress by Choosing Stress-Fighting Foods

Written by Lisa Jillanza

STRESS. We all deal with it at some point in our lives. But having too much stress in your life can be very harmful to your health and can make you more vulnerable to everything from colds to high blood pressure and even heart disease.

Stress management is a valuable tool to learn when it comes to your overall wellness. While there are many ways to cope with stress, eating stress-fighting foods is one good way to start. From boosting serotonin levels to lowering stress hormones, there are a number of foods that actually counteract the impact of stress on our lives. According to MSNBC, there are three nutrients that have the ability to soothe your nerves including Folic acid, a B vitamin that enhances mood; Vitamin B-12, which boosts your energy; antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E, and the mineral selenium, which help to repair damage to cells caused by stress.

The following foods should be part of your diet for stress management:

Complex Carbohydrates: All carbohydrates give a signal to the brain to produce that “feel good” chemical, serotonin. To keep a steady flow of serotonin, dieticians suggest complex carbs like whole grain cereals, breads and pastas and oatmeal.

Oranges: Because they are a wealth of vitamin C, studies show that oranges are great stress-busting foods, as well as a great immune system strengthener. Experts suggest taking 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C before a stressful event.

Spinach: It's the magnesium in spinach that helps to regulate cortisol levels that particularly get depleted when we are in stressful situations. Not enough magnesium can trigger headaches, adding to stressful situations. One cup of spinach is the recommended amount, as the magnesium goes a long way. Can't do spinach? Try cooked soy beans or salmon instead, for the same effects.

Fatty Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are important to prevent surges in stress hormones, as well as protect against heart disease. Try fatty fish like salmon or tuna for your Omega-3's.

Black Tea: Good for lowering levels of cortisol following stressful events, many experts swear by the healing powers of black tea. Black tea helps you to recover quickly following stresses and helps you to remain calm.

Pistachios: Chosen for their ability to soften the pre- and post-effects of stress, experts suggest eating a handful of pistachios every day to help lower blood pressure so it won't spike when faced with stressful situations.

Avocados: Another great high blood pressure reducing food is avocados, due to their potassium content. Half of an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. Additionally, avocados, in guacamole form, are a great and nutritious treat when stress has you craving snack foods.

Almonds: Chock full of vitamins, like vitamin E and a range of B vitamins, almonds are a great treat to eat that help with resiliency when dealing with stress.

Raw Vegetables: In a purely mechanical way, crunching on raw vegetables can help to alleviate stress. By releasing your clenched jaw and possibly warding off headaches, chomping your carrots, celery and other veggies is beneficial on many levels.

Tips and Tricks for How to Deal with Summer Bummers

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Now that summer is upon us again, it's time to get out and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer. But unfortunately, there are plenty of “summer bummers” : those things that we find in nature that try to ruin our good time. Keep these in mind the next time you are outdoors and your summer can be bummer-free!

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Sumac: Coming in contact with the sap from a poison ivy, oak or sumac plant can cause a pretty nasty rash. Symptoms start as redness and swelling at the infected site, and then progresses to a strong itching feeling. Over-the-counter medicines will help alleviate the pain and all symptoms should be gone in a week or two.

Heat Rash: Also referred to as prickly heat, is a red or pink rash usually found on body areas covered by clothing. According to health.msn.com, heat rash can develop when the sweat ducts become blocked and swell and often leads to discomfort and itching. Children are most commonly affected by heat rash resulting in small pinkish pimples on the skin. Most of the rashes heal on their own, but to alleviate the symptoms take a cool bath, air dry and avoid using lotions on the affected area.

Mosquito Bites: Mosquitoes may be one of the most annoying bugs around. The blood-suckers bite and can leave some major itching in its aftermath. To protect yourself against these annoying little bugs, wear bug spray when you are outdoors for an extended period of time, use screens in your windows and doors, and don't let water sit stagnant in your yard, as this becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

Flip Flops: Despite being fashionable, flip-flops do very little for you in the way of summertime protection. Flip-flops can lead to stubbed toes, cuts, abrasions, having a large object dropped on your foot, and insect or snake bites. If you plan on being outdoors a lot this summer, you should maybe opt for a closed toe shoe instead of your flip-flops. (Not to mention there is NO arch support in your fashionable flip-flops!)

Bee Stings: While most reactions to bee stings are mild, there are a number of people who are severely allergic to bee stings. For those who develop a swollen tongue, feel like their throat is tightening up or are having breathing problems, they need to get to the ER immediately. Mild reactions include swelling, redness, and itchiness, while severe reactions can result in death. According to MSNBC.com, if you don't have a severe reaction, apply ice or cold running water directly to the sting. Remove the stinger if it's still in the skin by brushing the skin with a credit card or using tweezers. To take the pain away, apply hydrocortisone cream or a paste made of baking soda and water.

Fireworks Burns: Burns due to handling fireworks is one of the number one reasons why people end up in the emergency room during the summertime. Most injuries involve the hands, arms, eyes and ears, with most of these injuries being burns. Minor burns can be treated at home by running cool water over the burn and then put a cool, dry cloth on them. More severe burns will need to be treated by a doctor.

Sunburn: Prolonged exposure to the sun and its harmful UV rays can cause pain and redness on the skin commonly known as sunburn. Sunburn can happen within hours of sun exposure and can last for weeks depending on the grade of the burn. Over-the-counter pain relievers, cold compresses, aloe or moisturizing creams can all alleviate the pain and stinging associated with sunburn. Burns that are expressed through blisters need to be treated by a medical professional.

 

Healthy Eyes: Getting the nutrition you need for optimum eye health

Written by Lisa Jillanza

We've heard that there are certain foods you can eat to get healthier looking hair, stronger bones and to prevent diseases. But there are also foods and nutrients that many doctors recommend to help keep our eyes healthy for many, many years.

The eye is a highly complex organ made up of lipids, or fatty tissue. As light enters our eyes and breaks down into free radicals, these free radicals cause major damage to our eye's lipids. These free radicals cause the degenerative effects of aging and eventually the loss of vision over time. Two of the major effects that these free radicals cause are macular degeneration and cataracts.

According to MSNBC more than 13 million people in the U.S. suffer from macular degeneration, and about half of all Americans over the age of 80 have cataracts.

Luckily, free radicals can be neutralized by antioxidants because they help to slow down the damage done and wash the free radicals out of the body completely. More specifically, a research project conducted by the National Eye Institute has shown that the most important foods for preventing macular degeneration and cataracts are ones that are rich in the antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc and omega-3 fats.

To get your share of antioxidants, doctors suggest eating your vegetables. Fresh fruits and green, leafy vegetables are chock full of antioxidants. Here is a list of specific foods from MSNBC that you can eat to ensure that you're keeping your eyes healthy for years to come:

Carrots- Carrots are loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts- Three B's that provide a blast of vitamin C. Vitamin C is another key antioxidant shown specifically to protect the eyes.

Turkey- Turkey is also rich in zinc (plus the B-vitamin niacin, which specifically protects against cataracts). What's more, turkey is incredibly versatile and a terrific lean substitute for high-fat beef.

Sweet potatoes- Beta carotene is found in sweet potatoes thanks to the bright-orange flesh in these sweet spuds.

Spinach- Spinach provides four eye-protecting ingredients! It comes packaged with vitamin C, beta carotene and large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin , a matched pair of antioxidants found in high concentrations in the tissue of the macula. Because they absorb 40 to 90 percent of blue light intensity, these nutrients act like sunscreen for your eyes. Studies have shown that eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can increase the pigment density in the macula — and greater pigment density means better retina protection, and a lower risk of macular degeneration.

Wild salmon and sardines- There are a lot of Omega-3 fats in fish that help your eyes by protecting tiny blood vessels buried within the eyes. Aim for two to three 4-ouce portions a week.

Keep an eye on sugar intake- Monitoring your sugar intake is also important in maintaining healthy eyes, as refined carbohydrates can spike your glucose levels, increasing your chances of acquiring macular degeneration.

Just by keeping these tips in mind and being cautious about what you eat, your eyes will be healthy well into your older years and your vision will only improve over time.