Thursday, August 14, 2008

Six Basic Rules For Healthy Living

1. If you smoke, quit now. Smoking is a leading cause of death in the U.S.A. It is a major factor in coronary heart disease and in cancers of the lung, mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, and cervix. Also, smoking accelerates aging of the skin, bones, and lungs.

2. Don't drink alcohol. Don't drink alcohol if you are pregnant or if you are driving or operating machinery. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, call your physician, or your local hospital for assistance.

3. Find some exercise that you enjoy, such as walking or swimming and do it at least five times per week for a total of at least 30 minutes each day. The 30 minutes can be devided into ten or fifteen minutes segments if these are easier to fit your day.

4. Eat a wide variety of naturally occuring foods, including plent of whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetable. Use moderation in your consumption of foods that contain fat.

5. Keep your body trim. Don't let yourself or children become overweight. Obesity is linked with many serious disorders such as heart disease and diabetes mellitus. If you are overweight, try hard to make permanent changes in your eating and exercise habits.

6. Have regular medical checkups. Screening test can detect many disease in their early stages, when they may be more successfully treated. Your physician can answer any questions you may have about how often a test should be performed.

Healing Power Of Touch

Sure, a massage is relaxing, and always feels great - it's also good for you. Massage has been shown to relieve pain and anxiety, ease depression and speed recovery from medical treatment.
"The benefits of touch show up at almost every age," says psychologist Tiffany Field, who directs the Touch research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Premature infants who are held develop faster than those left alone, and healthy babies who get lots of physical contact cry less and sleep better.

How touch delivers such benefits is unclear, though researchers have documented its ability to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and increase levels of serotonin, the linked to well-being. It also decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can boost immunity.

Massage can even hasten healing. At the University of Colorado Helath Sciences Centre, bone-marrow transplant petients given massage had better neurological function than those in a control group. And researchers in Sweden reported that massage reduced pain by 37 per cent in patients with fibromyalgia, a condition characterised by chronic muscle aches.

Giving may be as good as receiving: A study at England's Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital found that mothers suffering from postpartum depression who massaged their infants related better to them. In another study, elderly volunteers who massaged infants reported feeling less anxious and depressed.

It even works when you do it yourself: A 1999 study found that smokers who were taught self-massage while trying to quit felt less anxiety and smoked less. A study by Italian researchers found that 43 per cent of patients with tension headaches reported massaging their temples and necks to get relief. To try it, apply moderate pressure to your temples, hands, feet or the back of your neck.

Healing Power of Tears

Had a good cry lately? Maybe you should; it's good for your soul - and your body!
When I was a kid and my grandmother died, I couldn't understand why my tear ducts were dry. But that night when my dad tried to lighten the mood with some tickling as he tucked me in, my giggles turned into crying, much to my horror - and relief. So it came as no surprise to learn that researchers believe crying and laughing stem from the same part of the brain. Just as laughing has a host of health benefits (lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system), scientists are discovering that so, too, does crying.

"Whatever it takes for an individual to vent and release stress is essential to our emotional health," says Jodi DeLuca, neuropsychologist at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, who studies crying. And crying seems to work well: one survey found that 85 per cent of women and 73 per cent of men report feeling better after crying.

Even more important than acting as stress relievers, tears attract help from other people. Researchers agree that when we cry, people around us become milder and less aggressive, and they're more likely to provide support and comfort.

Tears enable self-disclosure too; sometimes we don't even know we're upset until we cry. "We learn about our emotions through cryin, and then we can deal with them," says University of Minnesota neuroscientist William Frey, author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears.

Just as crying can be healthy, not crying - holding back tears of anger or grief - can be bad for our bodies. Studies have linked emotional repression to high blood pressure, heart problems and cancer. "We are genetically programmed to cry, and denying that impulse damages our physical wellbeing," says DeLUca.

Despite the benefits of bawling, if crying interferes with everyday life, see your doctor or a therapist. It could be an early sign of depression.

Doctors aren't prescribing sob sessions just yet; how much we cry depends on genetics, gender (women cry four times more than men) and upbringing. But when you feel like weeping, don't fight it. It's a natural - and healthy - emotional response.

Healing Power of Laughter

No joke - guffaws, giggles, chortles and snickers could be the prescription you need. Ever heard the one about the doctor who gave his patient six months to live? When the man couldn't pay his bill, the doctor gave him another six months.

Go ahead, laugh. It's strong medicine, researchers are learning. Even the physical act is good for you, says William Fry, professor emeritus at Stanford University and pioneer in laughter research. It increases blood flow and contracts abdominal muscles. A hundred belly laughs is the aerobic equivalent of ten minutes on a rowing machine, according to Fry. But the benefits go beyond a workout. The most astonishing evidence of laughter's power comes from a 1997 study of 48 heart-attack patients. Half watched comedy shows for 30 minutes every day; the rest served as controls. After a year, ten patients in the control group had suffered repeat heart attacks, compared with only two in the group that watched the shows.

"Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress," says laughter expert Lee Berk at the University of California, Irvine, co-author of the heart-attack study. In earlier research, Berk showed that watching a humourous video decreases levels of two key stress hormones that can cause irregular heart rhythms which may lead to heart attacks. Indeed, heart disease patients are often given drugs called beta-blockers specifically to block these hormones. "Laughter can do exactly the same thing," says Berk. "And it can be a lot more fun."

Can a good laugh help patients get well? In a landmark experiment at the University of California at Los Angeles, called Rx Laughter, scientists plan to test the effect of laughter in children with serious illness, including cancer. Early results suggests that funny videos help kids handle uncomfortable or painful procedures.

Justin Ybarra, 13, already knows that. He was in considerable pain when he woke up from surgery - until Bill Marx, son of the legendary Harpo Marx and a volunteer for Rx Laughter, appeared at his bedside. Marx told jokes, made faces and pranced around the hospital room. "Having something to laugh at took my mind off the pain," says Justin. "When you're laughing, you can't help but feel better."

Down With Diets

1. You can be any shape you want, if you diet hard enough.Although you can morph your body by losing or gaining weight and muscle, you can't do a complete makeover and, like, turn round shoulders into bony points. If you don't believe it, take a good look at the different shapes around you. Bodies are genetically determined and can usually be classified into four categories:

* The Pear normally has narrow shoulders, a small chest and an average waist. On pear shapes, extra weight usually gathers on the hips and thighs.

* The Box looks, well, boxy, with not much of a visible waistline. On box shapes, extra weight concentrates at the waist.

* The Inverted Triangle has broad shoulders and narrow hips. On the triangle, extra weight hangs out in the chest.

*The Hourglass has broad hips, a full chest and a small waist. On the hourglass, extra weight crowds the chest and hips.

If you can't tell whether your generous hips come from genetics ot them eating too many Big Macs, check out your mom, grandmas, aunts, cousins and sisters next time you're stuffed into a room with them. And try to be realistic about what you look like, who you are and what your body goals are.

2. Snacking makes you gain weight.Actually, snacking can be really good for you-if you make smart choices*. Did you know that it's totally normal-not to mention healthy-to eat at least every four hours? (If you don't, you might plow through an entire can of Pringles the second you get home). Plus, healthy afternoon snacks boost your energy, which can ultimately help you concentrate better by maintaining your blood-sugar level.

3. Fat-free foods are always healthier.Reduced-fat foods are trickly because they make you think you can scarf down double the amount. But just because something is fat-free does not mean it's calorie-free. In fact, when the fat level goes down in a food, the sugar level often skyrockets to compensate tastewise. And since excess sugar calories can turn into fat in your body, you're better off eating foods that are naturally lower in both fat and refined sugar in the first place, like fresh fruit , dried fruit, pretzels, veggies, nuts and seeds.

4. Eating breakfast just makes you eat more all day.When you skip meals, your metabolism actually slows down (translation: fewer calories are burned), and research shows this is why breakfast bailers are more likely to be overweight than breakfast eaters. Sorry to sound like your mother, but you really need to jump-start your metabolism in the morning, and the best way to do that is by eating. Other reasons to eat in the morning? you'll be able to concentrate more in the late morning, work more efficiently and avoid feeling irritable, short-tempered and feeble during the afternoon.

5. Fat is bad.Believe it or not, fat is not the enemy. Fat gives you energy, cushions your body organs, regulates your body temperature, absorbs vitamins, makes you feel full and produce hormones. If you refuse to eat any fat, you could stop menstruating, and that would mean major trouble. Plus, a totally fat-depleted diet can cause you to develop flaky skin, dry hair, brittle nails, and to feel tired, cold, bloated and hungry. To be healthy and even lose weight, you must eat fat-the right kind of fat, that is. Healthful fats include those contained in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and canola oil. Unhealthful fats include artificial and man-made fats, like hydrogenated margarine, vegetable shortening and processed vegetable oils. So what's the moral here? Go for low-fat, not no fat.

Be An Instant Genius

The brain often breaks down, usually around closing time. At work, though, you can rely on these cerebral life-savers.

Drop some gingseng. A study at the University of Northumbria found that volunteers who took a 500mg dose of gingseng noticed improved recall within 60 minutes, and reported benefits lasting five hours.
Your Fix: Red Kooga Gingseng.

Down a cocktail - a vitamin one, mind. A report in the South African Medical Journal looked at the effect of high-strength nutrition pills on stressed workerss. Anxiety levels were reduced and comcentration levels increased after they popped pills containing B vitamins, calcium and vitamin H.
Your Fix: Berocca Effervescent Tablets.

Neck glucose. Research at the University of Lancaster found that volunteers who took 25g of the stuff were able to recall 50% more information half-an-hour later than those who didn't.
Your Fix: 330ml can of Lucozade

8 Vitamins And Minerals, Every Woman Needs

This immunity-boosting combo of food and pills is the recipe for wellnessChances are, a significant amount of the food you eat today will have little nutritional value. Researchers from the City University of New York found that 28 per cent of the calories in the average woman's daily diet from junk food and fats, like those in butter or salad dressing. You might think the solution is top pop some vitamin pills, but taking supplements can't replace eating well, says Deborah Galuska, PhD, of the division of nutrition and physical activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Below are the eight key - plus the best food sources for them and guidelines on the right way to use supplements.

Why you need it:Even if you are just thinking about getting pregnant, be sure to stock up on this B vitamin. To prevent serious birth defects in a newborn, you must have adequate folic acid in your at the time of conception. Other benefits: Folic acid reduces blood levels of homocysteine - a substance linked to an increased risk of heart disease - and protect against anameia by helping the body make red blood cells.Daily dose: 200 microgams (mcg); 400 mcg if pregnant; 300 mcg if lactating.Best Sources: Examples of food that are high in folic acid include chicken liver, vegetables especially leafy greens, kidney beans and peas, says nutritionist Grace Seah of the Health Promotion Board (HPB). These foods supply at least 100 mcg of folic acid: 1 cup asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereal, orange juice or spinach; 1/2 cup chickpeas or kidney beans; 1 small avocado.When to take a supplement:'women who could become pregnant should take 400 mcg of folic acid a day and eat lots of foods rich in this vitamin,: says Lindsay Allen, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of California. Moat multivitamins contain this amount.

Why you need it:It helps your body use food for energy, lowers homocysteine levels and plays a role in keeping skin zit-free. There's evidence that it fights depression too, and studies show that in high doses, B6 may help case PMS symptoms slightly.Daily dose:1.5 milligrams (mg)Best Sources:Examples of good sources are fish, poultry, beef, beans, nuts and fruits such as banana, advises Grace. These foods supply at least 0.5 mg per serving: 113 g halibut, yellowfin tuna, lean beef or pork loin; 85 g turkey breast, chicken breast or salmon; 1/2 cup chickpeas; 1 baked potato or medium banana.When to take a supplement:to fight PMS you need 50 to 100 mg a day, and you can't get that much from food, but don't go overboard. Having more than 2,000 mg a day for some months may cause debilitating nerve disorders and skin conditions.

Why you need it:Vitamin C not only promotes clear skin and quick healing but also fights germs and protects against heart disease, cancer and cataracts. It may even help keep you looking young as it is used to make collagen and elastin, which are both responsible for smooth, taut skin. Plus, it helps the body absorb iron.Daily dose:75 mg; 110 mg for smokers.Best sources:Grace says all fruit , especially guava, and citrus fruits such as orange and vegetables are good sources. These supply at least 75 mg per serving: 1 cup grapefruit juice, Brussels sprouts, papaya, orange juice or sliced strawberries; 1/2 cup sliced red pepper.When to take a supplement:Some experts recommend 250 mg of vitamin C a day for maximum benefit, but you can easily get this much from different foods. Despite the hype, there's still no good scientific evidence that higher amounts will fight colds or otherwise improve your health. In fact, if you take 2,000 mg or more a day, you might suffer bouts of diarrhoes.

Why you need it;Iron is used to make haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of your body. That's why a low iron intake can slow you down both physically - and may eventually lead to anaemia.Daily doses:19 mg for women until age 60:6 mg after that.Best sources:These foods supply at least 3 mg per serving: 113 g lean beef or shrimp; 1/2 cup fortified breakfast cereal, lentils, soy nuts or dried apricots; 3/4 cup firm tofu. "Iron from plant sources are not as well-absorbed as that from meats, but including vitamin C-rich foods like orange juice at meal times will enchance absorption of the iron," advise Grace.When to take a supplement:Check with your doctor before taking iron pills; even if you're tired, it may not be a result of an iron deficiency. The 10 to 18 mg of iron commonly found in vitamin-mineral combos is safe, however, and can offer extra insurance for pre-menopausal women who lose iron through menstruation. You don't need more than 10 mg iron after menopause.

Why you need it:In addition to its well-known bone-building role, calcium promotes heart by helping to regulate your heart beat and keep your blood pressure low. Also, studies show that calcium prevents PMS, helps reduce colon cancer risk and may even make it easier for women to lose weight. The Recommended Dietary Allowence (RDA) for an adult is 800 mg a day, yet the 1998 National Nutrition Survey in Singapore showed that over two-thirds of the adult population are not meeting this recommended intake.Daily dose:800 mg until age 50; 1,000 mg after that; 1,00 mg if you are pregnant or lactating.Best sources:According to the HPB good sources include soy products and small fish with edible bones such as sardines and ikan bilis. There are also calcium-fortified products (like soy bean milk, bread and noodles) available at supermarkets. These supply at least 300 mg per serving: 1 cup collard greens, low-fat yoghurt, skim milk or calcium-enriched fruit juice; 100 g sardines or salmon. canned, with bones; 42,5 g Parmesan or cheddar cheese.When to take a supplement:If you don't eat dairy or calcium-fortified foods, you can assume your daily diet has 300 to 400 mg calcium from other food sources, says Richard Wood, PhD, chief of the Mineral Bioavailability Lab at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. People in this group should take 1,000 mg of calcium a day in supplement form.

Why you need it:Like vitamin C, this immune builder defends against heart disease and cancer. It may help ward off Alzheimer's disease too.Daily dose:23 international units (23 IU or 15 mg)Best sources:Nuts, seeds, seed oils and safflower oil are good sources, says Grace. These foods supply at least 5 IU (3 mg) per serving: 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 28 g almonds; 7 g sunflower seeds.When to take a supplement:For most, taking pills that provde 100 to 400 IU a day is safe (if you are on blood thinners, you should check with your doctor first), but the proof of a benefit isn't definitive. In choosing a supplement, pick natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol). It's pricier than the synthetic kind (dl-alpha tocopherol), but studies show that the body retains the natural form better.

Why you need it:Without the mineral you couldn't more a muscle - including your heart muscle - or convert carbohydrates into energy. Plus, magnesium is involved in regulating blood pressure and in keeping calcium in bones, so it helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis.Daily dos: 320 mgBest Sources: These foods supply at least 100 mg per serving of magnesium; 1.25 cups brown rice or spinach pasta; 1 cup lima beans; 2/3 cup spinach; 3/4 cup tofu; 1/3 cup almonds or hazelnuts; 1/2 cup soy nuts; 1/4 cup sunflower seeds.When to take a supplement;If you eat lots of wholegrains and beans, you don't need magnesium supplement. If not, look for a multivitamin that contain about 100 mg of magnesium.

Why you need it:Zinc helps keel your immune and reproductive systems in top shape and plays a role in healing wounds. A deficiency can lead to acne and an impaired sense of taste. Some experts believe that zinc has antioxidant properties, and may help fight heart disease and cancer.Daily dose:12 mgBest sources:These foods supply at least 4 mg per serving: 85 g lean beef or veal; 1/2 cup pork, bean, or tofu; 1 small oyster; 1 large tin of sardines with bonesWhen to take a supplement:If you tend to skimp on zinc-rich foods, take a multivitamin. It usually contains 4 mg of zinc - all the extra that most women need. Studies suggesr that zinc throat lozenges, which contain 5 to 10 mg zinc, may reduce the duration of a head cold, but the result are not all conclusive.