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It's All in the Feet

Written by Lisa Jillanza

As odd as it may seem, your feet may be the window to your overall body health. Here are some things to look for regarding your feet that will give you clues that there may be other important body issues to look into.

No hair on your feet or toes If your feet or toes are lacking hair, it can be a sign of having poor circulation because of vascular disease.  If you notice that your feet and toes do not have any hair on them, you will want to consult your doctor to find out ways to improve your circulation thereby reducing your risk of acquiring vascular disease.

A wound that won't heal on your foot Wounds on your feet that just won't heal could be an indication of diabetes.  Over time, elevated blood glucose levels can lead to serious nerve damage in your feet and because of this damage you may not feel when you have a sore or a wound on your foot.  If your wound continues to go unhealed there could be major problems, including amputation.  If you notice a wound that won't heal on your feet be sure to contact your doctor to discuss your wound.  If you are currently living with or being treated for diabetes, be sure to check your feet often and mark any changes.

Cold feet While most women are known for their “cold feet” there may be something even more serious going on if you constantly have cold feet.  For women, having cold feet is a sign of an under functioning thyroid, the gland that regulates temperature and metabolism.  Poor circulation is another explanation of cold feet in both women and men.  If you experience cold feet that simply don't warm up with warm socks or slippers, talk it over with your doctor to have your thyroid checked and explore your options, which may include thyroid medications.

Thick, yellow toenails

Toenails are not supposed to be thick and/or yellow.  Thick, yellow nails are most often an indication of a fungal infection living beneath your toenails.  People that have other medical conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and other immune deficiencies are more likely to get a fungal infection than those that do not have these conditions.  To treat thick, yellow toenails, you will need to consult a podiatrist.  While there are plenty of over-the-counter treatments for thick, yellow toenails, by the time your nails are already discolored and thick it is too late for any over-the-counter creams or medicines to work. You must discuss your options with a professional.

An enlarged big toe Gout is the condition when the big toe suddenly swells up to an uncomfortable size. Gout is actually a form of arthritis due to the buildup of uric acid. This condition typically shows up in your big toe because it affects the part of your body with the lowest temperature, which is often the big toe.  It can also occur in your knees, elbows, Achilles tendon and the instep of your foot.  If you discover that your big toe has swollen to an abnormally large size, contact a foot care specialist, who with diet recommendations and medication, can help to cure this condition.

Get a Quiet Night's Sleep by Eliminating Snoring

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Does your snoring prevent you from sleeping at night? Do you wake up tired and restless? If you answered yes to these questions, you may have a sleep disorder, which is preventing you from getting a good night's sleep. Do not worry, you are not alone. It is estimated that 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women snore while sleeping.

Find out why you are Snoring

The most important thing for you to realize is that there is help available and there are tips that can help you sleep better. The first step that you should take is to try to find a reason for your snoring. You should monitor your snoring to see what your sleep patterns are. Try to note things like, do you sleep on your back, do you sleep with your mouth open or shut, and do you seem to stop breathing while you are snoring. These are important answers to know.

You can make an appointment with your doctor and take along the answers to the above questions. He will be able to completely examination you and rule out any health problem besides your sleep disorder. Your doctor may be able to pinpoint the cause for your snoring. More importantly, he may be able to help you find a treatment plan the will work for you.

Tips to Alleviate Snoring

There are some things you can do at home that may be able to keep your from snoring or reduce your amount of snoring. You should also try to avoid certain foods close to bedtime like dairy products, soymilk, caffeine and alcohol. You should also refrain from taking sleeping pills or antihistamines right before bedtime.

If you sleep on your back, some people have suggested putting a tennis ball down the back of your shirt while you sleep. The idea is that you when you roll over, it will be uncomfortable forcing you will roll back over on your stomach. Some studies have suggested that doing throat exercises and singing throughout the day can reduce your snoring at night.

If these tips are not working for you, there are several medical treatments that are available for you to try. There is the CPAP machine, where you put a mask on while you sleep and it helps you breathe better. There are also several types of nasal strips that you wear while you are sleeping to also help you breathe better during the night. Surgery is another option that many people with sleep disorders try when other options are not working.

Benefits of a Good Night's sleep

The number one benefit of getting a good night's sleep is that it will make you more productive during the day. Studies show that there is a direct link between sleep and a person's productivity throughout the day.  Without a good night's sleep, a person has less energy and they are not as alert and focused. These are the three key ingredients to productivity and without them a person's performance may be at their best level.

The benefits and necessity of sleep was obvious even to Shakespeare 400 years ago and has been recognized by human cultures throughout time. The U.S department of Health and Human services today recommends that most adults get from 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. A more typical amount however, is 6.5 hours, which is plenty enough to function but you should realize that higher amounts of sleep are correlated with

  • decreased chance of sickness
  • healthier weight
  • lighter mood
  • healthy skin
  • not having bags under your eyes

All of these are essential to looking your best, but the healing power of sleep is not limited to your complexion. Sleep is also associated with:

  • clarity of thought, better grades, and higher quality work
  • lower risk of blood pressure and diabetes
  • lower risk of injury "drowsy driving" is responsible for thousands of deaths every year

The amount of sleep recommended varies across age groups; kids need even more than 7-8 hours. The Government endorsed values, backed up by research conducted by the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, are: 9 hours for teens, 10 to 12 hours for school aged and preschool children, and for the koala-like newborns, around 16 to 18 hours of sleep every day. For these youngsters, sleep is safest when it is done on their backs- if you let them sleep on their bellies that will increase the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

There are other benefits that you will receive once you start having a good night's sleep. Since you will not be tired anymore, any depression or anxiety problems may diminish. Your mood will lift and your attitude is likely to become more positive.

Spending your nights not able to sleep and your days being tired can be a stressful way to live and over time it will wear you out. But once you begin getting a good night's sleep, you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.

Simple tips on How to Avoid Dry and Itchy Skin during winter

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Anybody can suffer dry and itchy skin any time of the year but these skin conditions occur more frequently during the winter season. But there's no reason to get concerned over it anymore. We can't control the weather but there are simple things we could do to keep our skin healthy and protected from cold weather conditions.

In this article we will try to explain why our skin is more prone to drying during the cold winter season and how we can prevent it. Below are a few effective tips on how to treat dry skin and how you could keep your skin healthy the rest of the year.

Why does our skin dry during cold days?

Lesser humidity in the air and strong chilly winds during winter strike our delicate skin leaving it dry and itchy. This chips away at our skins natural protective layer exposing it to the elements. The skin is stripped of its oil or lipid layers making it dry and itchy. Little skin moisture is also transferred to the air aggravating dry skin conditions.

Use lukewarm water when taking a bath or washing your face

Avoid using cold water or even hot water when taking a bath or washing your face. Hot water only strips your skin's moisture and only makes it drier. For those who can't stand lukewarm baths during winter, make your baths a bit shorter to avoid exposing your skin to extreme temperatures.

This should be kept in mind even when merely washing your hands or feet. If your skin turns red then this is an indication that the water is too hot. It could only make the condition even worse.

Exfoliate regularly

Sometimes, no amount of preparation could adequately protect our skin from harsh winter conditions. Exfoliating regularly removes dead skin and helps rejuvenates tired skin. This prevents itching caused by dead, dry skin. This should be done at least twice a week since skin is more likely to suffer during the winter.

Natural ways of exfoliating includes using sugar or salts. These could be used to scrub dead skin off without the use of chemical based commercial products that could only irritate sensitive skin. The benefits of moisturizers are enhanced when skin is exfoliated regularly. You could also use coconut oils as a natural moisturizer to add that extra layer of protection and keep moisture trapped in the skin.

Moisturize

Moisturizers preserve and protect oils and moisture to keep the skin healthy. It's like an extra skin layer that keeps cold air at bay. Be sure to moisturize after taking a bath or washing your hands. Because there is less humidity in the air, skin moisture is easily lost in the air.

Get a Humidifier

You can't do much about the weather outside but there are few things you could do inside your homes to protect your skin. Humidifiers help maintain the level of moisture in the air. Low humidity makes it easier for moisture to escape the skin. You could use a humidifier or close doors and windows to prevent warm air from escaping.

Low moisture conditions are not only found in cold climate conditions but also in extremely hot desert conditions. If you feel that your home is too cold and there is not enough moisture then getting a humidifier prevents skin from further drying.

Proper hand and feet care

The best way to prevent dry and itchy skin is proper skin care. Use moisturizers at the first signs of dryness to prevent further skin damage. The feet are often one of the most neglected areas and many fail to notice this because they are hidden from the sight of other people. Using the same amount of attention to hidden skin areas like the feet helps maintain overall skin health. Simply moisturizing the feet and hands after washing could go a long way in preventing the occurrence of dry and itchy skin.

Avoid using strong and chemical based soaps

More emphasis should be placed in maintaining your skin's health than simply cleaning your skin by using strong soaps. Opt for soaps that are gentler and contain a good amount of moisturizers. There are also a lot of natural based soaps that don't contain harmful chemicals that only strip your skin of nutrients and moisture.

Ring in a Healthy New Year!

Written by Lisa Jillanza

We are about to welcome in a New Year once again.  If your New Year's Resolution is to maintain your health and eat better in 2013, then these foods (and drinks) should be high on your grocery list!

Grains

 

Dieticians suggest that you increase your intake of oats, barley and rye in 2013.  For years, doctors have been telling patients that eating oats can bring down your cholesterol and recent studies show that rye can, too.  The American Diabetes Association has also noted that eating a diet high in fiber and grains, like rye, can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.  Adding barley to your diet, whether it is as a side dish or inside a soup or casserole, can also lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Salmon and other oily fish

 

If the diagnosis is to get more vitamin D this year, then get your fill with salmon and other oily fish : such as, mackerel, sardines, herring, fresh tuna, trout and anchovies.  Oily fish are some of the only food sources of vitamin D.  These fish are also good for curbing cardiovascular disease.  The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of oily fish per week, but warns against eating too much more than that because some oily fish contain mercury, which can affect your brain and nervous system.

Soy

 

If 2013 is your year to help reduce your risk of cancer, then soy may be your answer.  Research has shown that soy can ward off certain cancers as well as have an impact on your heart.  The Food and Drug Administration states that 25 grams of soy protein a day can reduce heart problems by helping to lower cholesterol levels.  To add soy to your diet, you can find it in soy burgers, tofu and soy milk.

Red Wine

 

While you will rarely hear any doctor advising that you drink any alcohol, red wine may just be the exception. Research shows that antioxidants in red wine, polyphenols, aid in protecting the lining of blood vessels in the heart.  These antioxidants come in the form of flavonoids and nonflavonoids, which red wine has more than any other food or drink.  Experts advise that you should stick to red over white wine because red grapes have 10 times more benefit to your health than white grapes. But, as with any alcohol, red wine should be enjoyed in moderation : approximately 5 ounces a day for women and 10 ounces a day for men.

How to Keep Your Skin Soft and Moisturized All Winter Long

Written by Lisa Jillanza

The winter months are some of the harshest months on your delicate skin. But you can follow these tips to help protect your skin from the harshness of winter and your body will thank you for it.

Don't forget the sunscreen - Just because the temperature drops doesn't mean the ultraviolet rays have gone away. While the UVB rays are weaker, you shouldn't skimp on the sunscreen during the winter months. Dermatologists suggest using a cream or moisturizer with an SPF of 30 year round.

Turn down the thermostat , just a few degrees - Surprisingly people who spend most of their time outdoors aren't the ones with dry, peeling skin. It is just the opposite. Those people who spend their time indoors with indoor heat constantly are those who experience parched skin the most. If you can, turn down the thermostat a few degrees and use a humidifier to put some moisture in the air. This combination will help to replace some moisture in your skin and will alleviate parched skin.

Nutrients are key to quench dry skin - While many people believe that drinking an abundance of water will help quench dry skin, dermatologists suggest that getting the appropriate nutrients is more important than downing water when it comes to healing dry skin. Getting appropriate levels of omega-3 fatty acids through a diet rich in foods like salmon and halibut can help to combat skin dryness. The acid in these types of fish lessens inflammation and plays a huge role in strengthening the lipid layer, thereby helping your skin retain its natural oils.

Skip the long, hot baths - While a good long soak in a hot bath sounds like just what the doctor ordered after a day out in the elements, that hot bath is a big no-no when it comes to protecting your skin in the cold. Taking a bath that is warmer than your body temperature opens up your pores and releases the moisture that your body desperately needs during the winter. If you would like a bath over a shower, limit your time in the tub to about five minutes and be sure to use a creamy oil wash to give your skin that moisture back that it may lose.

Exfoliate those rough feet - While the logical cure for dry feet is to moisturize them, dermatologists suggest that exfoliating your feet should be the cure instead. A moisturizer cannot work if you continue to put it on dead skin. Once you get rid of those rough spots on your feet, then the moisturizer you use will take to your feet so much better. Try a crystal buffer while your feet are damp or a stainless steel file while your feet are dry for the best results.

Avoid licking those lips - Overusing lip balm is not the culprit when it comes to dry, cracked lips. Instead the culprit is more than likely the acid from your saliva left on your lips when you lick them. The skin on our lips is very thin and when that acid, which is used for digestion, is left on the lips for extended periods of time, dryness occurs. Make a conscious effort not to lick your lips when you are out in the elements and use a lip balm with softeners like shea butter or jojoba oil. Avoid minty lip balms as they may contain a drying menthol which will defeat the purpose of wearing the balm to begin with.

While these are only a few tips to protect your skin this winter, we hope that this is a good jump start for you and that the winter won't be as painful on your skin this year or in years to come.