Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Ways to Stay Healthy This Fall

I'm overjoyed that fall is here. It's my favorite time of year.
Fall means pumpkins, mushrooms, apple cider, and soup. Some of my favorite foods.
Fall can also mean colds, flu, and low energy.
Is there a way to ward off such inconveniences? Well nothing is foolproof, but here are 7 suggestions to stay healthy this fall so you can enjoy all the festivities of corn mazes, apple picking, leaf peeping, pumpkin carving and football.
Eat those apples (and other seasonal fruit). Apples have been shown to strengthen your immune system. Other seasonal fruits such as pomegranates and citrus also help you ward off fall illness by giving you a big boost of vitamin C and phytonutrients. Aim for 2-3 servings of these nutrient dense foods a day.
Slow down. It seems like I've been going full-throttle lately. I know that for those with kids, the start of school is partial relief, partial stress creator. So as the air is turning colder, take some time out to relax and let your body renew. Even if it's just 10 minutes a day, sit in your favorite spot and watch the world go by. Maybe have a cup of herbal tea. Slow down and take in the crispness of autumn air.
Part of slowing down is also getting your 8 hours of sleep a night. I know it's hard to get 8 hours during the long days of summer. The shorter days make fall the perfect time to start a habit of getting to bed earlier and recommitting to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Get those fall greens. We often think of green for spring, but greens are also a perfect fall food. Greens grow better in the cooler weather, and are actually sweeter than when grown in the summer. So now is a perfect time to try kale or mustard greens, arugula or bok choi. Of course don't forget the broccoli and cauliflower.
Wash up. One of the easiest ways for germs to spread is through hand-to-hand contact. You don't have to get excessive about it, but be sure to wash your hands, especially after you sneeze or if you are traveling with lots of people. Plain old soap and warm water do the trick; so don't waste your money on expensive hand sanitizers or antibacterial soaps or sprays.
Spice it up. Spices have been used for centuries to boost your immune system. Try any of these spices to boost the flavor of your dishes, as well as strengthen your immune system. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper and more. For a wonderful relaxing drink that will help you slow down and boost your immune system at the same time, try some homemade chai - not the processed stuff with loads of sugar, but homemade goodness.
Check out my recipe:
In 10 ounces of water, boil the following: 4 whole black peppercorns, 4 whole green cardamom pods, 3 whole cloves, ½ stick cinnamon, ½ inch fresh ginger root. Let boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add ½ cup almond milk. Heat again, strain and enjoy.
Try some herbs. Many tout the benefits of Echinacea, but I have a big fan of Astragulus. It can even be taken by those with auto-immune conditions because it is an adaptogen. That means it is thought to help protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. Like many herbs, you don't want to take it forever. Instead, take it for week when you start feeling run down. Or if you're traveling, take it a few days before, during, and then a few days after your trip.
Hang out with the Fun-Gi. Mushrooms are great for increasing your white blood cells - the cells responsible for fighting off illness. Whether sautéed, marinated or raw, mushrooms are amazing foods. While maitake and shitake are the most coveted for the immune boosting powers, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, your standard white button mushrooms have recently been shown to be pretty powerful immune boosters.
Not sure how to add mushrooms to your diet? Try this easy and delicious recipe.
A Fall Celebration Salad
2-3 shitake mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed and sliced
juice of ½ lemon
1 tbl Bragg's amino acids
½ Asian pear, sliced thin
hand full of walnuts
hand full of dried cranberries (without sugar if you can find them)
2 cups mixed greens
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Place sliced mushrooms in a glass bowl. Pour lemon juice and Bragg's over the mushrooms. Stir. Let sit for 20 minutes or longer
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over greens. Place greens on a plate. Evenly distribute marinated mushrooms, pear, walnuts and cranberries on each plate.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Longing for Longevity

If you had to rank the following activities in order of preference, what would your choices be?
___Floss your teeth every night.
___Get a colonoscopy.
___Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
___Go on vacation.
Now, if you had to guess what all of the above have in common, what would you say?
Give up? Believe it or not, the answer is that each of them can prolong your life.
You probably already know about the standard lifespan enhancers: Watch what you eat. Workout. Schedule regular checkups, routine tests, and immunizations. And if you smoke, quit. Sure, these sorts of efforts are 100% fundamental... but they're 0% fun. They're not the kind of things anyone would long for. That's what I wanted to explore. Was there any way we could put the "long" in longevity? I was happy to find that scientific studies tell us of at least three ways.
An article on the Psychology Today website by Dr. Wednesday Martin summarized research on vacationing and concluded, "skipping vacation can actually put your physical, mental, and fiscal health at risk." (Woo Hoo!! Caribbean here I come!) The article cited numerous studies, including the Framingham Heart Study and quoted University of Pittsburgh researcher Karen Matthews on the clear link between vacation and longevity: "The more frequent the vacations, the longer the men lived." The article also referenced a follow up study done by the State University of New York at Oswego that produced specific numbers: Men who go on vacations annually lessen their overall risk of death by an astonishing 20% and their risk of dying from heart from heart disease by 30%!
The next life-prolonger I discovered really shocked me. Did you know that flossing your teeth can put an extra 6.4 years on your lifespan? That's what Dr. Michael Roizen says in his book, The RealAge Makeover. Look at what a deal that is: Floss one minute a night and get maybe six more years of life. That's an incredible return on investment and the kind of bargain I'd take any day. I love a good bargain. A good bargain excites me. So I guess you could say I long for good bargains and when I find one, it can really motivate me. For years my dentist had been telling me to floss my teeth but frankly, I couldn't be bothered. That was until I came across studies that showed what an impact good oral care can have on longevity. I've been flossing religiously every night ever since. I no longer look at dental floss as a pesky little string. I now behold it as "The Fountain of Tooth." Isn't it interesting how a single bit of information... how viewing something in a new light can change your behavior overnight?
Last in the line of my favorite life-prolongers is a trifecta of treats: Eat. Play. Laugh. I was delighted to discover that dark chocolate and red wine are associated with longevity. And that a Swedish study found people who play golf live longer because they spend more time outdoors. And that research from Norway shows laughter can extend the lifespan. Who wouldn't long for all that? So here's my prescription for adding years: Book plenty of vacations with loved ones who make you laugh. Or if funny bones don't run in your family, catch a couple of comedies at the movie theater while you're away. Play golf during your trip or simply spend some time outdoors while you're savoring a daily dark chocolate bon-bon and sipping some red wine. And of course, don't forget to pack plenty of dental floss so you can add even more years to your life while you're adding years to your life.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Senior Fitness: Identifying Physical Activity Barriers

I haven't been physically active lately and look it. My weight zoomed up and I don't have the stamina I had previously. Though I'm still within the normal weight range, I have small bones, and the extra weight doesn't look good on me.
This fact hit home when my husband and I attended a weekend conference. Our picture was taken before dinner, developed during dinner, and given to us as we left. When I looked at the photo I couldn't believe my eyes? Who was that chubby woman? Who was the large man next to her?
"We've got to lose weight!" I exclaimed to my husband. This spiked my curiosity about the physical activity barriers many older adults face, and I searched the Internet for information. A Mayo Clinic website article, "Barriers to Fitness: Overcoming Common Challenges," lists five barriers: lack of time, attitude, self-consciousness about appearance, fatigue, and lack of motivation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites other barriers on its website. Fear of being injured is one barrier and I suspect it is a common one. Lack of safe parks and safe walking areas are other barriers. "Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less," the CDC advises. Good advice, but how could I follow it?
I read a dozen articles or so and none of them -- not one -- addressed health barriers. What are some of them? These are my health barriers and you may face them as well.
1. Arthritis. During my last physical exam I told my physician about my painful right hip. She ordered x-rays and the results showed I had two arthritic hips, not one. When my hip is throbbing I'm not inclined to go for a walk.
2. Medications. I have high blood pressure and take several prescribed medications to control it. These medications slow my heart and my walking speed when climbing stairs.
3. Injury. Several months ago I fractured a bone in my foot. My foot was so painful I went to the hospital emergency department. I was given a prescription for pain killers, told to stay off my feet, and use crutches. Though my foot is healing nicely, every once in a while I get a stabbing pain in my foot.
4. Occupation. I am a nonfiction writer -- a sedentary occupation. In addition to writing books and articles, I write for two websites. As you might imagine, I spend hours at the computer.
5. Weather. Outside physical activity is difficult in Minnesota when the temperature is below zero and the wind chill freezes flesh. I know how to dress for the weather and enjoy walking in the snow, but have to be on constant alert for icy patches. The last thing I want to do is fall and break a hip.
Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and asthma,also make physical activity difficult for older adults. Have you identified your physical activity barriers? If not, you may wish to take the "Barriers to Being Active Quiz," posted by the CDC.
Twenty-one barriers are listed on the left and rating possibilities on the right. The ratings: very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, and very unlikely. At the end of the quiz you tally your score. It will reveal your barriers, which include lack of time, social influence, lack of willpower, fear of injury, lack of skill, and lack of resources. Once you have identified your barriers, you can work on overcoming them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Treatise on Strength: Part 4

The purpose of this series was to give you a practical definition of strength, and I will give you what it is shortly. First, let's look at a few things.
"He who overcomes others is strong. He who overcomes himself is mighty" - Chinese Proverb
The De-strengthening of society:
The history of humanity is a history of the strong. Our ancestors have had to survive every possible terrain and climate you can think of. Look at where people live now. I come from Minnesota where the winter weather will sit 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero for weeks at a time. Living in a home with central heating and double-paned windows makes this easy, but the pioneers who settled the land did not have these luxuries.
The settlers made houses out of the earth, and before them, the Native Americans had animal hide shelters. In prehistoric times, Man had to fight for every scrap of food, for the right to mate, and to protect his home. During the Industrial Revolution children, would work up to 14 hours a day 6 days a week in coal mines and cotton mills. We have survived every natural disaster that has ever happened, and continue to live in places plagued by earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These feats require strength. Not only has humanity survived these grueling situations; humanity has thrived!
At one point in time, it was survive or die. As stated in the previous instalments, this is no longer the case. The current generation is the unhealthiest group of humans to have ever existed! We no longer have to kill or grow our own food. Now, we don't even have to walk in the grocery store. We can take a scooter. There is no more need to challenge the mind and no struggle to enliven the body. Life is about convenience. We are becoming weak. That is, unless we decide to change it.
"To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." -The Buddha
Need vs. Want:
"Strong people are hard to kill" - John Wellbourne
Do we need to be strong? No. As seen in my previous examples, strength in the modern world is not a necessity for survival. If you live in a first world country, you will probably live to a ripe old age no-matter your physical or mental capabilities. So is there any point to being strong?
Yes. Why would we want to be strong? To thrive. To surpass.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Geniuses will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
- John Calvin Coolidge Jr., 30th President of the United States of America
All of your natural talents will go to waste if you do not have the fortitude to take the first step towards what you want. Once you start on the path of achievement you will need every ounce of resilience and strength to keep moving and surpass all that stands in your way. This is what gets you into the history books.
Do you want to know the definition of strength?
"Strength is the mental and physical fortitude to endure, resilience to bounce back, and force to create change to thrive in any circumstance and during any adversity. " - Me
So what do I do with this knowledge? I build upon it. Every day is a starting point, which I use to improve myself. It doesn't take much. Every day I learn something new, and I am always building up my body. I use my time to progress towards my goals. Each day I am stronger than the last.
It won't take much for you to become stronger. Read through the previous installments and add in something new each day, eat healthier, lift something heavy, remain calm, and breathe. Become stronger and reach your goals.
Take this knowledge and run with it. Life will knock you down, but now you can get up swinging. Take your new-found strength and get stronger. Don't merely drift through life and survive; thrive!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Facial Skin Care - Amazing Tips And Secrets To Amazing Skin!

Getting amazing, supple, radiant skin can be much easier than you ever thought possible. The truth is that there are many tips and tricks to getting great skin and you don't need to go get Botox to get the amazing skin that you've always wanted. Today, our skin care experts are offering some amazing tips to getting incredible skin!
Vitamins And Vitamin Creams
One of the best kept secrets in skin care is that vitamins as well as vitamin creams can make a huge difference. Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin A (also called retinol) all have massive benefits for the skin. While taking these vitamins as supplements can make a big difference, applying them directly to your skin is even more effective.
By applying a vitamin cream or a combination of vitamin creams directly to your skin, you can really maximize the benefits and get incredible, radiant skin much faster.
The best approach and usually the most effective is to apply vitamin creams to your skin and take vitamins as supplements, as this will literally help you to get incredible skin inside and out. However, if you had to choose between one or the other, for great skin care putting them directly on your skin is the best bet because they will seep into your skin and offer maximum benefit.
Amino Acids
One of the best kept secrets in skin care is amino acids. The major protein that makes up skin and keeps it thick, supple and radiant is called collagen. Collagen is mostly made up of two major amino acids, Glycine and Proline. While other amino acids do play a part, Glycine and Proline play the major roles in collagen, and supplementing with these two amino acids can really help your skin produce more collagen a maximize the effectiveness of your skin care regimen!
Lysine, another amino acid also plays a major role because it prevents the breakdown of collagen. By helping to prevent the breakdown in collagen, Lysine keeps the skin supple, radiant and thick, making for a huge benefit in your skin care regimen!
Vitamins, vitamin creams and amino acids all play major roles together to help you get great skin. When utilizing vitamins and amino acids, it's important to remember that while you will likely see immediate results in the short term, the best and longest lasting results come with utilizing these great tools in the long term!