Healthy Habits – How Many Do You Have?

Recent research reveals that 97% of Americans don’t have all four of these basic healthy habits.

What are the most important things you should be doing for your health? While there’s a ton of advice out there, most doctors agree that it boils down to four basic habits: watch what you eat; exercise moderately and regularly; keep an eye on your body fat percentage; and don’t smoke.

Just doing these four things lowers your risk of many health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Seems simple, right? But according to recent research, only 2.7 percent of American adults adhere to all four habits.

When researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi looked at the behavior of 4,745 adults from across the United States, they were shocked to discover how few people had all four habits. Ellen Smit, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, remarked on the findings in a news release. “This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”

Not smoking was the most popular healthy habit, with 71 percent of subjects avoiding cigarettes. 46 percent of subjects hit or exceeded their activity level goal. 38 percent ate well. A mere 10 percent had a body fat percentage in the normal range.

Rather than simply asking the subjects about their behavior and relying on self-reported data, the study also used actual behavioral measurements. Each subject wore an accelerometer, which is a device that measures movement. The goal was 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week. Smoking status was confirmed by blood samples. X-ray absorptiometry was used to determine body fat percentage. Subjects who were in the top 40 percent of people who ate foods recommended by the USDA were considered to have a good diet.

Some other remarkable findings of the study were:

  • Having a normal body fat percentage appeared to be the most important factor in achieving healthy levels of HDL and total cholesterol.
  • While only 2.7 percent of the subjects had all four healthy habits, 11 percent had none, 34 percent had one, 37 percent had two, and 16 percent had three.
  • There were differences in habits according to gender. Women were less likely to get enough exercise, but were more likely to avoid smoking and eat well.
  • Mexican Americans scored higher on the healthy eating scale than non-Hispanic white or black adults.
  • While adults over 60 had fewer healthy habits than adults ages 20-39, they were more likely to be non-smokers and eat a healthy diet.

While the findings of the study were alarming, hopefully they will serve as a wake-up call to the many American adults who have unhealthy habits. Experts agree that more research needs to be done to discover the best ways to help people incorporate healthy behaviors into their daily lives.

 

Article Sources

News release: Oregon State University

 

 

 

The Natural Way To Relieve Stress

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(source: pexels.com)

With daily pressures mounting up, it’s easy to let stress get the better of you. Taking time out in which to relax and breathe might not be something you get to do regularly and as a result, becoming accustomed to tension is incredibly easy to do. While acclimatizing to stress is a perfectly normal part of modern life over time, it can have adverse side effects on your health, putting unnecessary pressure on both your body and mind. Luckily, however, there is another way. If you’re looking to realign your inner calm, then it might be time to take a few tips from mother nature. Simple, accessible and entirely natural, these stress relievers will have you feeling better in no time at all, no medication required.

Meditation

A relaxation method on the rise, meditation has become increasingly popular in recent years. If you’re new to the whole thing, you can try listening to mindful meditation podcasts, which will talk you through the breathing process and help you to get your mind to focus elsewhere. Better yet, taking recorded clips like this with you on the go means that you can tap into your little area of calm, wherever you might be. Simply by practising meditation for 10 minutes every day, you can significantly reduce your levels of stress and deal more effectively with anxiety in the future. A little meditation and you might be ready to take on anything the world throws your way.

Exercise

Naturally raising your heart rate is one of the best ways to increase the levels of endorphins in your body and release any tension you have built up over the day. Getting involved in endurance sports like running or swimming can help to relieve your body of any stresses and enable your mind to focus more effectively, making solving any problems much more simple. Exercising after work can be one of the best ways in which to unwind from the day’s stresses and prepare yourself for the rest of the week. Good for your body and better for your mind, exercise really can be a miracle cure!

Chamomile Tea

There’s nothing like a cup of tea and when you’re feeling stressed, chamomile can be just the ticket. Components in the plant are known to help calm feelings of stress and tension by attaching themselves to receptors in the brain. Better yet, people who take chamomile supplements over a period of time have been found to have decreased levels of anxiety and a boosted sense of well being. When you feel tension rising, reach for the tea pot.

Passion Flower

Do you have trouble switching off at night? You might just need the healing power of passion flower. While the supplement is often used as a cure against insomnia, it has also been found to be incredibly effective against anxiety and tension, helping to relieve symptoms of sufferers. When taken once a day just before you go to bed, passion flower can help your brain to wind down and your body to relax, leading to a more restful night’s sleep. Better sleep might just lead to a better you!

Lavender

Just one sniff of fragrant lavender and you might be feeling remarkably less stressed. Known as an “emotional” anti-inflammatory, the flower can effectively help to alleviate feelings of tension or anxiety in sufferers, leaving them with clearer minds. While you might like to leave the flower around your house, you can also inhale the plant through its natural oil in times of stress. For a calming boost when you’re on the go, try dabbing a handkerchief or item of clothing with a little of the oil; you might find dealing with stress a whole lot more easy.

While stress is something that we all have to deal with, it doesn’t have to be a part of everyday life and simply by incorporating these natural cures into your regime, you can lessen the effects of anxiety in your daily life. Tension gets the best of all of us but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be beaten. All you need is a little natural calm in your life and things might begin to look remarkably more rosy. Simple!

The Wonderful Walnut

A handful of walnuts is good for your heart and your waistline.

 

Dieters who are watching their waistlines might steer clear of walnuts when they hear that a one ounce serving (a small handful) has a whopping 18 grams of fat and 185 calories. However, a recent study revealed that a walnut-rich diet can actually help you to lose weight and improve your heart health.

The research, led by Cheryl Rock, PhD, RD, of the University of California San Diego, compared the weight loss of women eating a diet with unsaturated fats (like those found in walnuts and olive oil) with those on a lower-fat, higher-carb diet.

“One of the surprising findings of this study was that even though walnuts are higher in fat and calories, the walnut-rich diet was associated with the same degree of weight loss as a lower fat diet,” said Rock in a news release.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also showed that a diet containing walnuts led to improved cardiovascular health.

This finding may seem counterintuitive, given walnuts’ high fat content. However, 13 of the 18 grams of fat in a one ounce serving are polyunsaturated, and include a sizable amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a plant-derived form of omega-3 fatty acids. The heart healthy benefits of polyunsaturated fats have been proven before: a recent study from Harvard showed that polyunsaturated fats may lower your risk of heart disease and help you to live longer.

“Considering the results of this study, as well as previous walnut research on heart health and weight, there’s something to be said for eating a handful of walnuts a day,” said Rock.

Lauren Blake, RD, wellness dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, suggests a few creative ways to eat walnuts each day:

  • Puree or grind walnuts and add them to dips, chili, or smoothies.
  • Chop up a handful of walnuts and sprinkle them over a salad, vegetables, or fruit.
  • Spread walnut butter on fruit or toast or mix into oatmeal. Buy it at the store or, even better, make your own at home.
  • Top off your favorite dessert with chopped walnuts.
  • Give plain yogurt some pizzazz by mixing in crushed walnuts. Add a little sweetness by topping with honey or maple syrup.
  • Walnut oil is great for dipping chips or veggies, blending into a salad dressing, or drizzling over food. Blake cautions against heating walnut oil, which gives it a bitter taste.
  • Add crunch and flavor to fish by coating it with pureed walnuts.

 

Article sources:

California Walnut Board: “California Walnut Butter”

Lauren Blake, RD, Wellness Dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

News release: Edelman Seattle

News release: Harvard School of Public Health

 

 

 

 

 

Miracle Maker: The Health Benefits Of Aloe Vera

These days, there are even more of us than ever looking to get on a health kick and thanks to a boosted interest in clean living, active lifestyles and enhanced wellness, getting on the healthy straight and narrow has never been easier. When it comes to healthy lifestyles, then you would be hard pressed to find a plant as good for your body and mind than aloe vera. Great for your skin and even better for your body, aloe vera is practically a miracle worker and whether you incorporate it into your diet naturally or through supplements, making it a part of your routine could pay off in big ways down the line.

Still not convinced? This might just change your mind.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Do you ever get that sluggish feeling after eating a big meal when your food seems to be sitting on top of your stomach? Feelings of bloatedness could be related to poor digestion in the gut and, when left to manifest for long periods of time, they could lead to a dip in energy levels, pain in the abdomen and poorer health. If you’re on the hunt for a plant that can really work, then aloe vera might be the thing for you. Known to help soothe the digestive tract and reduce inflammation in the gut, the plant can significantly improve poor digestion and leave you feeling decidedly healthier down the line. Decreasing bad bacteria in the gut and keeping things working smoothly, aloe vera is a great natural cure both against IBS and acid reflux.

Improves Heart Health

Want to keep your ticker in tip top form? You might just need to enlist the help of aloe vera. Although recent studies are still in their infancy, they have suggested that when it is injected into the blood, aloe vera extract can massively enhance the oxygen transportation efficiency in red blood capillaries, in turn leading to a healthier, more oxygenated blood stream. Team that with the fact that the plant can help to regulate blood pressure and blood circulation, and you’re on to a real winner.

Boosts The Immune System

There comes a time of year when no matter how healthy a lifestyle we might follow, we begin to pick up a number of coughs, colds and flu viruses. Maintaining a healthy immune system is all part and parcel of staying in good form and while picking up a seasonal cold here and there is something that is hard to avoid, we can boost our ability to fight off infection at a more effective rate by making aloe vera a part of our routines. Known to help boost the production of white blood cells inside the body, aloe vera can help to improve health by increasing our body’s illness-fighting powers. Better yet, the plant is known to be high in antioxidants which work wonders in preventing against diseases by fighting off free radicals inside the body. A better level of general health? Yes please!

Soothes Skin Problems

Suffering from persistent acne or burns on the skin’s surface can feel like a losing battle and no matter the number of chemical cures on the market, actually finding something that works can feel like a full time job. Enter aloe vera. Packed full of nutrients that help to heal wounds, soothe the skin and relieve pain and itching, the plant can really transform the quality of your skin. That’s not all, either; the plant can help to stop bleeding from cuts and grazes, improve the elasticity in the skin’s surface and help to keep your body well moisturized. That’s no mean feat for a little plant.

Detoxifies The Body

Want to boost your all round health? Aloe vera will do it for you. Known as a gelatinous plant food, aloe vera can help to absorb any toxins that might be hanging around inside your gut and digestive system, effectively removing them from your body through the colon. Taken on a regular basis, aloe vera can help to regularly flush any nasty extras from your body, boosting your internal health and enhancing your feeling of wellness.

Good for your skin, great for your heart and working wonders on your internal systems, aloe vera might just be the plant that has it all. The only thing left is for you to make it a part of your diet and see the benefits for yourself!

Surprising Health Benefits of Walking

Walking…it’s simple. You just put one foot in front of the other. Since it is so simple, you probably wouldn’t think there would be much benefit to it. That’s the surprise. It has a tremendous effect on your health. The following are some of those health benefits to motivate you to do this simple but yet powerful exercise.

It Could Make You Live Longer

A new study found that people who walked 20 minutes a day lived three to seven years longer. It would be great to think it’s just the act of walking that would increase your longevity, but it’s really the health effects that are from walking that makes you live a few years more.

 Decreases COPD Risk

Another study found that people who walked at least two miles a day were less likely to be hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Actually, it cuts the risk of COPD by half.

Reduces the Risk of Stroke

Walking ever day can also reduce the risk of stroke for men over the age of 60. For men who walk an hour or two a day, their risk decreases by a third. What’s even more surprising is that it doesn’t matter how fast they walked – they just needed to walk.

Promotes Mental Health

Walking three hours a day can improve your mental health. When you walk, your body releases endorphins. This can be a natural painkiller. So, the more you walk, the more feel good hormones are released, which makes you feel even better.

Improves Sleep

Sleeping can be difficult as you age because of aches, pains, and other ailments. Walking can strengthen joints and bones, which can help with the aches and pains. It can also help people feel more tired, so they are ready for bed at night. This can lead to falling asleep faster and staying that way for longer.

Decreases Risk for Osteoporosis

When you walk, you force your body to stand up straight and move. This exercises your muscles and bones to keep them strong and even increase strength. This can prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

Helps Maintain Body Weight

While you may not burn many calories, you’re still burning them. This can be just enough to keep your weight stable. Just don’t think you can eat a lot and maintain your weight.

Lowers Blood Pressure

When you walk, your heart gets a workout, which keeps it strong. This is what will lower your blood pressure over time. The more you walk, the stronger your heart will be as you get older.

Decreases Stress Levels

Many people don’t realize how much walking can help with stress. Just getting away from a stressful situation or environment with a walk can lower all of the anxiety inside of you. With every step you take away, you’ll feel better and better. When you decide to go back, you’ll be much more likely to deal with it all because you’ve had a chance to process it all.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Walks

Walking is powerful, but the more you can do the better. Try to vary your pace as you walk. Speed walking and slowing down is great for your heart.

You may want to consider barefoot walking. Many people believe that there is an added benefit because your feet absorb free electrons from the Earth. Those electrons can decrease inflammation and kill off free radicals that can cause cancer. Other benefits include curing sleep apnea, helping PMS, and strengthening the immune system.

If you haven’t been walking, check with your doctor before starting this or any other exercise regimen. It’s important to know if you are healthy enough for it, and to ask your doctor for advice on how much you can do.

Always wear comfortable shoes when you go for your walks. Injuries often happen because of not having the right shoes, so this is important. You should also replace them every 6 months. They do wear out, and that can cause injury as well.

With all of these benefits of walking, there’s no reason not to start doing it. Ask some friends to join you to make it much more fun. Before you know it, you may just feel much better physically and mentally.

 

 

 

 

Why You Shouldn’t Be Drinking Lemon Water to Lose Weight

There’s a trend that people who drink warm lemon water will lose weight. You’ve probably seen it on Facebook, and many other places online. Articles tell you that if you drink warm water with lemon juice in it as soon as you make up in the morning, you will be more likely to lose weight.

We hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t work.

Sure, you can trick yourself into losing weight with lemon water. It’s the placebo effect. When you think you are going to lose weight, you will do things that will make you lose weight such as exercising more and eating less. So, with that, it’s not the lemon water, but the exercising and diet change.

What will lemon water provide?

  • Cancer-fighting antioxidants
  • Energy-boosting vitamin C

If you are looking for these effects, then lemon water is exactly what you want to drink. You don’t have to drink it in the morning. You can drink it any time of the day to give you those effects.

The Reason You SHOULD NOT Drink Lemon Water

While there are a couple of benefits to drinking lemon water, you may wonder what’s so wrong about it. The following will help you see you may want to tame down the gallons of lemon water you consume each day.

Causes Heartburn

Lemons are acidic. When you drink large amounts of lemon water, the acid can cause heartburn. Usually, people who are susceptible to heartburn are more likely to experience it, but it can happen to people who don’t normally get it too.

Damages Tooth Enamel

The acid from the lemons can also wear away tooth enamel. This is the protective cover on your teeth that keeps you from getting cavities and having tooth sensitivity.

The damage to your teeth is intensified if you brush your teeth after drinking lemon water. The acid in the lemons loosens the enamel and then your toothbrush brushes it away. Since many people usually brush their teeth after they have their lemon water, this has become a big problem. You should wait about 30 minutes to brush your teeth after having anything acidic.

Can Contribute to  Vitamin C Toxicity

Vitamin C is good to get, but too much can be bad for you. The most you should get a day is 2,000 mg. If you get more than that, you could end up having diarrhea and/or kidney stones.

The good news is that one cup of lemon juice contains 60.5 mg, so it would take A LOT of lemon juice to end up exceeding the 2,000 mg limit. You just need to be careful if you drink lemon juice and eat a lot of foods with lemon in it or lemons themselves.

Aggravates Gastroesphageal Reflux Disorder

Gastroesphageal reflux disorder (GERD) causes heartburn, nausea and vomiting. It is triggered by acid from foods like lemons. When people who suffer from GERD drink lemon water, they irritate their esophageal lining. This triggers the symptoms of GERD.

Slows Healing Time for Ulcers

Lemons can aggravate ulcers, too. Those suffering with an ulcer should stay away from lemon or other acidic foods because they inflame ulcers, which slows down the healing time. It can also cause the ulcer to heal incorrectly, which can lead to pain later in life.

Gives You a Stomachache

Have you noticed you’ve had a stomachache ever since you tried to lose weight with lemon water? It’s not because you’ve changed your diet – it’s the lemon. Again, the culprit is the acid in the lemon juice. Your stomach just can’t take the irritation from the acid, which is why you tummy seems to hurt by the end of the day.

Saying Good-Bye to Lemon Water

Don’t think you should say good-bye to lemon water forever. It’s good for you when you consider the vitamin C and antioxidants in it. It’s just important to cut down on your consumption.

If you’re using lemon water to get in all of the H2O you need to drink a day, try different flavor boosters. You can always add cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, or some other veggie or fruit to the water to give it a better taste. Be creative with your add-ins and you may just end up finding a new favorite.

Age Well Through Exercise

 

Exercise is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle at any age. But as good as exercise is for children, teens and young adults, it grows more and more important with each passing year.

“Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of regular exercise for health in older adults,” says Nathan Wei, MD, clinical director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, Md. “Beneficial effects occur in the brain, heart, and muscles.  Sarcopenia [muscle loss] is retarded.  Plus, exercise increases endorphin production, leading to less perception of pain.”

Expert Advice on Exercise: Make it a Habit

The key to reaping the benefits of exercise as you age is to develop a regular, consistent exercise habit. “Consistency trumps intensity when it comes to exercise,” says Joseph Barry, MD, an internist and geriatrician at SignatureMD in Camillus, NY. “If you push too hard, the likelihood of injury increases. If you aren’t consistent with your exercise, like a daily walk, you won’t develop the habit and you won’t keep at it.”

Wei also recommends exercise consistency, as well as variety. “Exercise regularly – I mean every day – and incorporate cardio, resistance, and stretching or yoga,” he advises.

What the Science Says About Exercise and Aging

Here are the top 5 reasons to keep exercising as you age, and the research behind them:

  1. You’re less likely to injure yourself by falling.

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults, according to the National Council on Aging. Maintaining a steady exercise routine as you age could decrease your risk of falling and hurting yourself. Yale researchers found that regular physical activity, including moderate walking and exercises to increase flexibility, strength and balance, resulted in fewer injuries from falling in older men.

  1. Your brain will look younger.

Americans spend millions of dollars each year to maintain the youthful appearance of their faces, bodies and skin. But most never worry for a second about how old their brain looks.

It might be time to start. Normally, as you age, the volume of the gray matter in your brain decreases. With MRI imaging, scientists can assess the age of your brain based on the volume of its gray matter. The lower the volume, the older the brain looks.

A recent study shows that climbing stairs has an impact on the volume of your brain, and consequently how young or old it looks. Researchers from Concordia University’s Montreal-based PERFORM Centre found that the more flights of stairs a person climbs, the more youthful his or her brain appears in MRI images. For every flight of stairs climbed in a day, the age of the brain decreases by 0.58 years.

  1. You’ll cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.

The decrease in brain volume that usually occurs with age increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A study from UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh indicates that you can drastically lower your risk of Alzheimer’s through aerobic exercise.

Study participants, with an average age of 78, performed a variety of aerobic activities, such as dancing, gardening, walking, and riding an exercise bike. The researchers discovered that increased physical activity was associated with larger volumes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes of the brain. Those who experienced these higher brain volumes due to exercise were 50% less likely to suffer from dementia due to Alzheimer’s.

  1. You’ll lower your chances of developing other age-related conditions too.

One of the reasons people develop various health issues as they age is a process called cellular senescence, in which cells lose the ability to replicate. When senescent cells build up, they contribute to age-related diseases and conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recently looked at the impact of diet and exercise on the process of aging in mice. They found that the mice that exercised gained less weight, had less body fat, and were protected against the accumulation of senescent cells. This slower rate of cell senescence led to a decrease in the development of age-related conditions in the more physically active mice.

  1. Exercise eases pain and improves mobility in arthritis sufferers.

Approximately half of adults 65 years and older suffer from arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis causes achiness, pain, stiffness, and swollen joints. Many sufferers avoid exercise, thinking it will exacerbate their symptoms.

Not so, says Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York. “People believe that if you have arthritis you shouldn’t exercise, but appropriate exercises actually help decrease pain,” she said in a news release from HSS.

HSS offers a low-impact exercise program in senior centers throughout New York City. In a survey of 204 program participants, many reported that they experienced less pain and were able to perform their daily activities more easily.

 

Article sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Arthritis-Related Statistics”

Joseph Barry, MD, board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, member of SignatureMD, Camillus, NY

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR, Clinical Director, Arthritis Treatment Center, Frederick, MD

National Council on Aging: “Fall Prevention Facts”

News release, Concordia University

News release, Hospital for Special Surgery

News release, Mayo Clinic

News release, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

News release, Yale University

 

 

 

5 Ways You’re Beating Up Your Immune System

Did you know your immune system does a lot for you? Every single day you encounter millions of germs, and your immune system fights them off, so you don’t get sick. You can thank this function of your body for days when you are not stuck in bed with a cold or something worse. The problem is that most people don’t take care of their immune system as they should. What happens is that they usually end up sicker than others who do treat their immune system with the respect it deserves. If you’re finding it hard to stay healthy, you may be beating your immune system up without even knowing it.

Pain Medication

Pain medications can wreak havoc on your immune system. Steroids and NSAIDs are the worst because they damage the lining in your intestines. This can cause leaky gut syndrome, which increases your risk for infections.

When you suffer from an infection, your immune system is hit hard. It knows there’s something wrong inside of your body, so it usually uses all of its energy to try to get rid of it. Meanwhile, there are still millions of germs trying to make you sick, and it just can’t keep up. That’s when you become ill.

Discuss alternatives with your doctor. That way you can get the same effects of pain medication without depleting your immune system’s energy.

Antacids

You may not think there’s anything wrong with popping some Tums, but it can end up causing you to get more sick than you feel when you take them. Tums and other antacids have proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), and they alter the pH in your stomach. This chemical sterilizes the food you eat, which is what makes your stomach feel better. The problem is that when you have too much of this, infection can occur. Again, infection causes the immune system to fight harder, which then makes it unavailable to fight off other illnesses and diseases.

In addition to the pH effectives, antacids can cause vitamin deficiency as well. Usually, it’s a deficiency in B12, zinc, vitamin C, and iron. These are all crucial nutrients for the immune system.

It’s best to not take antacids regularly for three months or more. If you need to take them to calm your stomach, you may want to figure out what is causing it to be upset rather than continuing the antacids. Speak to your doctor more about your issues to find out what you should do instead.

Drinking Excessive Amounts of Alcohol

You’ve probably heard you should drink red wine because it’s good for you. While this is true, it’s only moderate amounts of red wine. When you drink too much in the case of binge drinking, you can suppress bone marrow production and red and white blood cells. When there isn’t enough bone marrow, red and white blood cells, the immune system believes it needs to compensate for the loss, so it works harder. What happens is it gets tired and isn’t able to protect you from all of the germs.

Juicing or Starving Yourself

Your immune system needs fuel to work for you. The fuel comes from the food you eat. When you juice or starve yourself, you are depriving your body and immune system of what it needs to keep you healthy. This will wear down the immune system, which will make it hard for it to work for you.

Eat a well-balanced diet. You need all of those vitamins and nutrients. You can still count calories, just be sure you get enough to give your body what it needs. You can also still drink juices; just don’t make it the only thing you consume the entire day.

You’re on the Move

When you are on the move, your immune system is too. If you don’t get enough sleep or rest, don’t eat regularly, or you’re around more germs than usual, your immune system will not be able to keep up. That’s when you’re bound to get sick.

To keep you from getting sick all of the time, especially when you have to travel for business or you’re just busy, be sure to get enough sleep and rest and eat well. While you may still be around a lot more germs, at least your immune system will have the rest and fuel it needs to have a fighting chance against them all.

Keep all of these ways you are beating up your immune system in mind. You will be able to strengthen your immune system, so you can stay healthy and active much more.

Most Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is not fun to deal with, and it’s rather common. According to Journal of American Dentistry, 1 in 8 people have sensitive teeth. Just knowing you have tooth sensitivity doesn’t make you feel better, but the cause may because then you can possibly prevent it.

About Tooth Sensitivity

Your teeth are covered in a protective layer of enamel and dentin. When the enamel wears down, your teeth becomes sensitive to extreme temps and chemicals such as hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks. These foods and drinks seep into the teeth through tubules and then hit the nerves, which is what causes the pain. Some people experience the pain for just a moment, while others will have it for hours.

The Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

To keep yourself pain-free, consider these causes of your tooth sensitivity.

Irregular Bruising

Many times, people have tooth sensitivity because they do not brush their teeth regularly. The enamel wears down from all of the acid that gets left behind. Brushing your teeth will help you build back that enamel.

You should brush after every meal. At least twice a day is what most dentists recommend.

Hard Brushing

When you brush your teeth too hard, you end up pulling your gums from your teeth. This exposes nerves, which is what causes your pain.

Simply brush gently. Remember, it’s the brush that’s doing the work, not you.

Incorrect Toothpaste

People suffering with tooth sensitivity cannot use all toothpastes. Many find their pain is worse when they use whitening toothpaste, so stay away from that type specifically.

You may want to try desensitizing toothpaste. This has a compound that blocks sensitivity from the tooth to the nerve. It can take a few days to kick in, but once it does, you’ll be pain-free for as long as you use it.

Not Using Fluoride

Fluoride is essential to your oral health. It not only protects you from decay and cavities, but it can keep teeth sensitivity away.

Use fluoride mouthwash daily after you brush. Some brands are made especially for people with teeth sensitivity, so seek those out over others.

Drinking Too Many Acidic Drinks

Orange juice, soda, and other acidic drinks can decrease the amount of enamel you have on your teeth. It can also cause your gun line to recede, which exposes the nerve. You don’t have to cut out all acidic drinks, but limit them.

Whenever you do drink someone like orange juice, be sure to brush your teeth, but wait 30 minutes. The acid will loosen enamel and the brushing removes it causing teeth sensitivity.

Bleaching Your Teeth

As much as you want to bleach your teeth, it’s not recommended. It can cause tooth sensitivity.

If you really want pearly whites, speak to your dentist. He may have something especially for people with sensitive teeth.

Not Using a Mouth Guard

People who grind their teeth or more susceptible to tooth sensitivity. When they grind, they wear down their enamel.

Speak to your dentist about getting fitted for a mouth guard. Wearing one every night may be the answer to ending the pain.

Other Ways to End Tooth Sensitivity

If you can’t figure out the cause, it may be genetics. In that case, you can pursue some treatments that have helped people with their pain.

Gel fluoride treatment is an option. You would go into the dental office and the dentist places a high concentrated fluoride on your teeth. This can help build up enamel faster and thicker. You have to do this regularly.

You may also be a candidate for crowns, inlays or bonding. All of these cover your teeth, which would prevent food and drinks from hitting the nerve.

When nothing helps, a gum graft may be performed. This is a dental procedure in which the dentist removes a piece of your gum form one section of your mouth, and places it where the gum has receded.

As a last resort, a root canal may be recommended. The dentist will remove the nerve from where the sensitivity is, so you don’t feel anything anymore. This is not something to jump into because the procedure is expensive and painful, so try all other options before considering this one.

 

 

 

Understanding Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are extremely common in healthy women. While UTIs do occur in men, women are much more prone to them. Approximately 1 in every 2 women will suffer from a UTI in her lifetime.

Commonly known as bladder infections, UTIs have a tendency to come back. According to R. Mark Ellerkmann, MD, Director of the Center for Urogynecology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md, a six-month study showed that 27% of UTIs recurred once and 3% recurred more than once in college age women.

Fortunately, recurrence appears to be more of a painful annoyance than a serious health risk. “There is no evidence that recurrent UTI leads to health problems,” says Dr. Ellerkmann.

What causes UTIs?

Bacteria usually cause infections of the urinary tract. 80% of these infections can be traced to the common intestinal bacteria Escherichia coli. Normally, harmful bacteria are washed out of the body through the flow of urine. A recent study reveals the process by which bacteria evade this normal process of elimination.

A team of researchers from the University of Basel and ETH Zurich found that bacteria attach to proteins called FimH that live on the surface of the urinary tract. A bacterium latches onto FimH through a sophisticated locking mechanism. FimH holds on tightly to the bacterium, which prevents it from being flushed out with the urine. It then travels up the urinary tract into the bladder.

The anatomy of women explains their higher susceptibility to UTIs. A woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s, which makes it easier and faster for bacteria to travel to the bladder. In addition, the opening of a woman’s urethra is very close to the anus and vagina, which are sources of opportunistic bacteria like E. coli.

Signs that you might have a UTI are pain during and after urination, the constant urge to urinate, more frequent urination, pink or blood-tinged urine, fever, chills, and mild pain in the upper abdomen or back.

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that Ellerkmann says may increase your risk of recurrent UTIs:

  • Sexual activity
  • Sexual intercourse with a new sex partner during the past year
  • Use of a diaphragm with spermicide or spermicide-coated condoms
  • Contracting a first UTI at or before 15 years of age
  • Having a mother with a history of UTIs

How to Minimize Your Risk

Here are a few ways to prevent a UTI from coming back over and over again:

Cranberries

Amy Howell, PhD, a research scientist at Rutgers University, has spent years studying the effects of cranberries on urinary tract health. Her research indicates that the consumption of cranberries may avert recurrent UTIs.

“Cranberries help prevent UTIs because they contain active plant components called proanthocyanidins (PACs),” says Howell. “In 1998, my lab published our discovery in The New England Journal of Medicine showing that PACs in cranberries help prevent certain uropathogenic E. coli from adhering to bladder cells.”

An easy way to get enough PACs is to drink cranberry juice cocktail. Howell suggests drinking a 10-ounce glass, which is the amount shown to be effective against UTIs in clinical trials.

Ellerkmann recommends cranberry extract, which is a concentrated formulation taken in pill form.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to your body. “There is some evidence that vaginal and oral probiotics may be helpful in patients experiencing recurrent UTIs,” says Ellerkmann.

How do probiotics prevent UTIs? According to Ellerkmann, those containing a strain of friendly bacteria called lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide, which prevents harmful bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract surface and thwarts their growth. Other types of probiotics produce lactic acid, which makes the pH of the vagina more acidic. Acidic environments are unattractive to opportunistic bacteria like E. coli.

While probiotics show promise in preventing recurrent UTIs, Ellerkmann believes more studies are needed to prove their efficacy.

Wipe front to back.

Because of the close proximity of the anus and vagina, it’s all too easy for harmful bacteria to travel from one to the other, then travel up the urethra. Wiping front to back decreases this risk.

D-Mannose

D-Mannose is a naturally-occurring sugar that can be found in cranberries, peaches, apples, other berries, and some plants. Ellerkmann says there is evidence that it may prevent some bacteria from adhering to the lining of the bladder. Its mechanism of prevention is similar to that of PACs.

Avoid irritating feminine products, such as douches and deodorants.

Chemicals in these products may irritate the urethra and bladder. Ellerkmann warns that douches may actually increase UTI risk by eliminating the “good” bacteria and yeasts that live in the vagina.

Vaginal Estrogen (for post-menopausal women)

After menopause, the vaginal pH rises and becomes alkaline. Uropathogens such as E. coli are attracted to alkaline environments. Therefore in post-menopausal women, opportunistic bacteria are more likely to travel from the anus to the vagina and urethra.

Like some probiotics, vaginal estrogen lowers the vaginal pH. “Estrogen promotes and brings about a more acidic vaginal pH, making the vagina a less favorable environment for colonization by uropathogens like E. coli,” says Ellerkmann.

 

Article sources:

Amy Howell, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, Marucci Center for Blueberry Cranberry Research, Rutgers University, Chatsworth, NJ

Mayo Clinic, “Cystitis”

News release, University of Basel

Mark Ellerkmann, MD, FACOG, Director, Center for Urogynecology, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, Md