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Studies recently published by the American Heart Association in combination with scientific findings by Michael Bancks, Ph.D., of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL have tested and found that how you treat your heart today, can significantly impact your quality of life and your brain functionality as you age.
Anyone serious about maintaining a healthy heart – and mind – should first consider the following seven steps which might “guarantee” a healthier life, you, and increased overall happiness.
1. Firstly, watching and maintaining a healthy blood pressure is at the top of the list. This means not only watching the foods that you eat, but also your physical activity levels (see more below), overall stress levels, and how you manage each.
2. The advice of properly managing your cholesterol is not something new, although it is a piece of health advice that is being pushed on the public and broadcasted more aggressively in recent years. And believe us, this deserves a place at the top of the list, as it can mean the difference between life and death – or your susceptibility to a heart attack!
3. Monitoring and taking care of your blood sugar we know it sounds simple, and unfortunately, a lot of people assume that if they just avoid sweets, coffee, and soda that they’ll be just fine. But the truth is, there are plenty of fruits and other healthy foods that can just as easily raise your blood glucose (sugar) levels to unhealthy heights. Worse, doing so consistently over the years can harm both your heart, and in turn your brain reducing performance, and overall longevity of the human body aging process.
4. Being more active – Who could forget this? Research has shown that those who exercise more frequently, even a simple 15-30 minute walk once a day or every other day will dramatically their overall health, and happiness. Walking also serves as an excellent way to reduce stress or even quit bad habits like smoking and drinking (see more on this below.) Taking care of your muscle and bone growth today can make the aging process and your body all the more happy, and likely to be still properly functioning by the time you’re 40 or 50 years old.
5. Finally, quit smoking. We know it sounds easier said than done, but stopping today can make a world of difference for how you feel, and the ways which you grow tomorrow. Protect yourself from a wide range of various likely cancers you can develop by smoking, and breathe better in just a matter of weeks by quitting today!
Be Happy, and Be Healthy!
Picture Credit: ElisaRiva
Recent studies have shown that the primary “carotenoid” found in tomatoes – especially concentrated cooked tomatoes – is a natural biological protective agent and chemical against sun damage.
Naturally, given the typical tomato growing season (around May to August or October) tomatoes are exposed to serious sun rays, and for good reason. That is, as, like most vegetables, fruits, and of course trees, the sun provides the necessary nutrients for positive, healthy growth.
According to a study released this month by Scientific Reports, consuming tomatoes regularly – or even using tomato paste on your body – can offer serious protection again both UVA and UVB rays, which in turn will reduce the likelihood of exposure to various keratinocyte carcinomas (forms of cancer.)
It’s worth pointing out, however, that this does not necessarily mean that consuming (excessive) amounts of tomatoes daily is an alternative to applying sunblock regularly! In fact, a lot of people don’t realize it, but even on cloudy days, there can be significant UV exposure, damage, and development of skin cancer later on in life.
Interestingly enough, clinical studies also showed that other forms of cancer such as lung, prostate, and even stomach cancers can be prevented through regular consumption of tomatoes – thanks to the lycopene content in each one you take a bite out of.
Tomatoes and its significant health benefits to preventing cancer and blocking UV-ray damage are indeed impressive in of itself. But, unlike other (raw) vegetables or fruits, in this case, it’s best to cook the tomatoes first – make a paste – and even eat it on your favorite pizza to get the most cumulative nutrients effects! This is because cooking tomatoes activate more of the “lycopene” than those left uncooked – much similarly to the health benefits and lycopene contents made bioavailable in other fruits like tangerines.
While current scientific studies and reports do verify to an extent that tomatoes and tomato sauce will help prevent short-term sun damage, whether or not it can protect against the long term effects is still something researchers are trying to find out.
What makes this study and scientific research most significant is that test participants were also found to have higher levels of procollagen, which is the precursor of collagen – this again emphasizes the nutritional values tomatoes have on your skin.
Many people already consume tomatoes daily, merely for this reason alone – and experience smoother, more supple skin in doing so!
Picture Credit: sphaeroid
Studies of relaxation and holistic approaches to stress.
Recent studies conducted by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston demonstrated a substantial decrease in medical-services usage, submissions, and health treatments necessary over a years time. Through this study, 17,400 test subjects were evaluated, and approximately 4,400 of these subjects showed great improvement in their need for medical services. Although such categorization of elements within a scientific study are broad, to some extent, they do demonstrate that upwards of 1/3 individuals later did not require ER services within that one year period. While there are many different variables to take into consideration, such as the social interactions involved with Yoga and Meditation, it’s worth noting that exercises such as these are not only useful for the mind as it releases positive dopamine and serotonin to your brain, but also because it’s a good way to overall distress and focus your mind on something more not only positive, but also productive.
Health experts say that due to the various ‘movements’ involved in yoga, as well as the concentration and practice, that individuals are more prone to begin relying on such exercises or ‘adaptors’ to help cope with stress in the future. The fluid movements involved in yoga, as well as deep-breathing exercises are likely to condition your mind to also better cope with fight or flight responses throughout your daily activities and experiencesas opposed to just impulsively, often negatively, responding to a reaction or undesired experience. Yoga and meditation are also shown to improve health as they tone the body, making you both feel better about yourself as well as look betterespecially your physique in the abdominal area, which is a common aspiration for many!
The reality and evaluating your options…
While Yoga and Meditation are not for everyone, it is gaining great popularity across the United States as a holistic approach to better managing stress, as well as traumatic experiencesaccording to Dr. James Stahl, director of the Institute for Technology Assessment at Massachusetts General. In addition to this, cardiac conditions are improved, and inflammation is commonly reduced throughout the body as individuals rely on such activity(s) for within a daily or weekly routine. Training your mind to do something different, or feel different ways is a very effective attempt and measure at improving the flexibility of your mind and how it decides or attempts to handle different kinds of stressors. In fact, it’s been reported that Yoga and Meditation have not only aided in improving physical and mental health, but specifically contributed to individuals quitting nasty and dangerous habits such as smoking and drinking. Unlike drinking and smoking, there is no ‘hangover’ or guilt later on. In fact, after a class of Yoga or Meditation you also feel rejuvenated for an extended period of time, as well as accelerate your metabolism for at least one to two daysanother common health goal for individuals looking to better manage or lose weight.
Of course while such activities are not going to practically be affordable for everyone, there are always alternatives, pointed out a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In fact, collecting videos online and creating your own relaxation and meditation group is a perfect example of a more cost-effective approach for trying it out on your own!
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One area that the fast-growing alternative wellness space has not focused on in marketing campaigns to date is pediatric care. Despite this, there is a large and growing body of young people who are practicing various natural remedies to remain fit and treat their health issues. Over ten percent of all children under the age of 18 practice yoga, see a chiropractor, take natural supplements such as fish oil, or use another form of alternative treatment according to a recent survey. Amongst these supplements such as fish oil, flaxseed-based products, various herb capsules, and probiotics are the most popular.
The high rate of use, especially of professionals such as chiropractors, was surprising to some within the field given the relative healthiness of the pediatric population relative to their adult counterparts. Some of the surprise has translated into a push to do more- increased research in pediatrics, especially with some of the supplements, to ensure safety and perhaps efficacy. Things like dosing can be especially tricky in kids as most healthcare professionals know. Beyond that, the survey results are an interesting glimpse into what newer generations might look towards and how they might utilize various forms of care.
The largest driver of pediatric use of alternative and complementary options seems to be parental use. Children whose parents use alternative therapies are five times as likely to use them themselves, especially as they get older and witness their parents’ choices and better understand them. Teenagers are especially likely to turn to alternative treatments based on parental use.
An interesting aside that is relevant to the discussion is that the definitions of alternative treatments are constantly changing, which do have an impact on surveys and results such as these. Many in medicine have seen a shift that suggests a blurring of the lines between traditional medicine and alternative medicine, which may turn out to have unwanted side effects as people have more trouble differentiating what is what and what is backed by evidence and what is not. This is where healthcare providers and alternative practitioners such as chiropractors will have a growing role- in patient education in this regard.
Some allopathic doctors have questioned the new study results due to the inclusion of certain products labeled as alternative treatments. Namely, fish oil is one that has raised some eyebrows because that is a product that is regularly recommended in traditional medicine for those with lipid abnormalities. There are even a couple of FDA-approved prescription products in the United States which are fish oil. Including these as alternative treatment might be misleading, throwing the numbers off in turn, especially because they constituted a significant portion of use. More research is likely needed to really get down to where the trends are in natural product use amongst young people. Future studies may focus more on strict definition of natural products and greater stratification of types of natural products used. Either way, it is undeniable that things appear to be changing and the healthcare and wellness space continues to evolve as new information comes out.
Image credit: filmfoto