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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Beauty Products

Chemicals in cosmetics and beauty products can wreak havoc on your hormones.

 

What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. Even if you buy your groceries at Whole Foods, get your pesticide-free produce at the local farmers market and have purged your kitchen cabinets of artificial flavors, you may still be exposing yourself to hazardous chemicals everyday. Many cosmetics and personal care products contain endocrine system disruptors, which may lead to health issues like allergies, infertility, and even cancer.

The endocrine system is made up of all the glands in the body that produce hormones. These hormones control our sexual function, reproduction, metabolism, growth, development, tissue function, sleep, and mood. Endocrine disruptors interfere with the normal functioning of hormones and can affect the reproductive, neurological and immune systems.

Although numerous government-funded studies have linked a variety of health problems to endocrine disruptors, the Food and Drug Administration still claims they are safe. These chemicals are widely used in cosmetics, fragrance, hair products, soaps, toothpaste and sunscreens. They probably show up as ingredients in many of the lotions and potions sitting in your medicine cabinet right now.

Even if you’ve unknowingly used products containing these hazardous chemicals for years, you can quickly reduce their levels in your body by cleaning up your medicine cabinet and detoxing from dangerous beauty products. A recent study shows that taking even a short break from using products with endocrine disruptors can lead to significant decreases in their levels in the body.

Researchers from University of California, Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas gave 100 teenage girls personal care products claiming to be free of endocrine system disruptors. Urine samples were analyzed before and after a three-day period in which the teens used the chemical-free products. After just three days, there were considerable reductions in the levels of the chemicals in the subjects’ bodies.

Metabolites of a phthalate used in fragrances dropped 27 percent after the 3-day period. Both triclosan and benzophenone-3 fell 36 percent. Methyl and propyl parabens decreased 44 and 45 percent respectively.

“Seeing the drop in chemical levels after just three days shows that simple actions can be taken, such as choosing products with fewer chemicals, and make a difference,” said study co-author Maritza Cárdenas in a news release from UC Berkeley.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure to endocrine disruptors in the personal care products you use.

1. Learn what to look for on labels, then read carefully.

Always examine the list of ingredients before buying. Look out for the following:

Phthalates: Sometimes referred to as “plasticizers”, phthalates are used in PVC plastics, solvents, and synthetic fragrances. They’ve been linked to reproductive system problems such as low sperm count, decreased sperm motility and genital abnormalities.

Parabens: Used as preservatives in makeup and beauty products, parabens have been detected in breast cancer tumors and are known to mimic estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen receptors. Be careful – if an ingredient has “ethyl,” “butyl,” “methyl,” and “propyl” in the name, it’s from the paraben family, even if “paraben” isn’t explicitly written out.

Triclosan: Commonly found in products labeled “antibacterial”, triclosan is added to many products to decrease the risk of bacterial contamination. It may contribute to liver toxicity and thyroid dysfunction. Also beware of triclocarban, a cousin of triclosan.

Oxybenzone: A chemical that is nearly ubiquitous in sunscreens, oxybenzone penetrates the skin and may cause allergic reactions. Like parabens, it is estrogenic and mimics estrogen in the body. Animal studies have shown that oxybenzone alters sperm production. It’s also associated with endometriosis in women.

2. Do your research before you buy.

Two helpful websites are the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep and GoodGuide. Each site rates tens of thousands of beauty products according to the safety of their ingredients. They also list the ingredients in each product and indicate which may be harmful and why. The Good Guide ranks each product not just for health safety, but also its societal and environmental impact.

3. Skip the scent.

Synthetic fragrances often contain phthalates. If you absolutely must have scented products, opt for those made with essential oils only.

4. Avoid “antibacterial”.

Antibacterial products are a double whammy: they expose you to the dangers of triclosan and the FDA has warned consumers that they encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Basically, they’re a lose-lose.

5. Ditch big-name manufacturers and buy artisanal beauty brands.

Small-batch cosmetics and personal care products are often made by hand and use only natural, organic ingredients.

6. Discover how to DIY.

Become your own small-batch beauty products manufacturer! There’s no better way to know exactly what’s in the products you use than to make them with your own two hands. Do a little digging on the internet and you’ll find many recipes for homemade makeup, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer and soap.

7. Look for the EWG VERIFIED™ mark on the label.

To carry this mark, the company that manufactures the product must provide EWG with additional information beyond what’s on the label. EWG’s strict vetting process ensures that the product is free of toxins and preserved properly, and that the company is transparent with customers about ingredients and manufacturing procedures.

 

Article sources:

Darbre, R. Journal of Applied Toxicology, January-February 2004; vol 24(1): pp 5-13.

EWG: “The Trouble with Sunscreen Chemicals”

FDA: “FDA Taking Closer Look at ‘Antibacterial’ Soap”

FDA: “Parabens”

NIH: “Endocrine Disruptors”

News release, University of California, Berkeley

 

 

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Squeeze Exercise into Your Day

 

You already know you should exercise more. You’ve heard that it’s good for your heart, helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens muscles and bones, improves mental health and mood, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers and could increase your life span. Even knowing all this, it still can be tough to find the time to exercise when your day is jam-packed with work and family obligations.

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to improve cardiovascular health and decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. That works out to approximately 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.

Michael Jonesco, DO, a sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center, suggests that shorter spurts of intense exercise could be just as good for your health. “More intense activity is equally effective at preventing premature morbidity,” he says. “The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week as a less time-intensive alternative.”

Jonesco goes on to say that, according to the ACSM, “duration matters little, meaning 10 minute bursts of activity several times a day are equivalent to one longer duration of exercise.”

If you’ve been skipping exercise altogether because it feels impossible to fit in long sessions at the gym, this is great news. Scattering short bouts of exercise throughout your day feels more manageable than carving out 30 minutes to hit the gym. Several mini workouts can add up to a huge impact on your health.

We asked health and fitness experts for simple ways to squeeze exercise into a busy day. Here are their suggestions.

  1. Walk to work

You have to get to the office somehow, so why not exercise on your way to work? Ditch the car, subway or bus, and lace up your walking shoes instead. Walking is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that people of all shapes, sizes and ages can do.

What if it’s too far to walk the whole way? Brad Thomas, a fitness trainer, wellness expert and founder of Brad Thomas Mind Body in New York City, suggests you “stroll the final forty [city] street blocks. This distance is equivalent to 2 miles. The average man or woman would burn over 300 calories walking just one-way.” If you don’t live in the city, park your car a reasonable distance from your workplace and walk the rest of the way.

  1. Take the stairs

Once you’ve made it to work, “take the stairs instead of the elevator”, says Dan Inglis, director of Sports Performance at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. Climbing stairs has numerous benefits. It increases aerobic capacity, raises the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood, strengthens the legs, and improves bone density in post-menopausal women.

  1. Core work on the couch

You don’t have to be a couch potato when you’re lounging around watching TV after a long day. Exercise your core muscles while catching up on your favorite shows. Mindy Kim, a yoga instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas, NV, suggests the following exercise: “Sit up and lean back, back long, belly button to spine. Lift legs onto the coffee table and do toe taps up and down with the option to alternate legs. You’ll start to feel the burn!”

  1. Cut loose with the kids

What could be better than spending quality time with your kids while reaping the health benefits of exercise at the same time? Activities that kids do all the time just for fun are also excellent workouts for adults. Playing hopscotch, jumping rope, running around the yard, riding bikes, doing jumping jacks, and splashing in the pool are all ways to increase your heart rate and burn calories.

From Dr. Jonesco: “I use my toddler as my own personal kettlebell.  I lift her overhead, let her ride my back as I do pushups, or add some knee bends when I’m rocking her to sleep.  She sleeps, I sweat. It’s a win-win.”

  1. Strengthen at the supermarket

While walking up and down the aisles of the supermarket, use your groceries to strengthen your arms. Cristina Osorio, a kettlebell instructor at TruFusion, suggests using baskets instead of a cart. Baskets full of food act as weights to challenge your arm muscles.

The trip home from the market is an opportunity for exercise too. “Pile up as much as you can carry and walk home (if you can) with bags in-hand,” says Osorio. “Two miles with about 10-15lbs of groceries in your hands leaves you sweaty by the time you get home.”

 

Article Sources:

Dan Inglis, director of Sports Performance at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Michael Jonesco, DO, sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Mindy Kim, yoga instructor, TruFusion

Cristina Osorio, kettlebell instructor, TruFusion

Brad Thomas, ACSM, MFA, MA, fitness trainer & wellness expert

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “The Benefits of Physical Activity”

American Heart Association: “Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults”

Duke University: “Benefits of Taking the Stairs”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons You Should Not Take Aspirin Daily

Research has found that aspirin can help people who are at risk for heart disease. People have started aspirin therapy on their own because of this research. If you’re one of these people, you need to know these five reasons you should not be taking it.

#1: It’s a Preventative for Low Risk Individuals

According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, one in 10 patients were found to be taking aspirin inappropriately. Aspirin therapy is recommended as a primary prevention, which reduces the risk of a first heart attack or stroke. Those who are at risk for heart attack or stroke because of previous one or other factors should not take aspirin, as it does not reduce the risk of dying from subsequent episodes.

#2: Users Need a Cardiovascular Risk Assessment

Anyone interested in starting aspirin therapy should seek an assessment from their doctor. When speaking to your doctor, be sure he is not using the Framingham Risk Score, as it is outdated. Your doctor should look at risk factor and perform a simple, safe, but effective test. Most experts believe the best way to assess heart attack risk is with a CT scan. This shows coronary calcium in the heart, or atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries. A calcium score should show how much you have inside the arteries, which then provides a reasonable prediction of a heart attack or stroke.

#3: Gastrointestinal Bleeding Is Possible

A study in Heart finds the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding increases with age. Aspirin therapy can further increase the risk, especially in women. This means that the risk of aspirin therapy far outweigh the risks of it.

Usually, men are only prescribe a daily aspirin regimen when their calcium score is high and they have other risk factors for heart attack or stroke. It is taken with caution though, especially those over the age of 65.

#4: Risk of Cerebral Hemorrhage

Aspirin has been linked to cerebral hemorrhage. Even the smallest dose of 81 milligrams can increase the risk of this devastating medical condition. Knowing the symptoms of cerebral hemorrhage can save your life:

  • Severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased alertness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficult time swallowing
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Problems with coordination
  • Abnormal sense of taste
  • Unconscious
  • Falling or feeling unstable when standing

#5: Possible Drug Interactions

Aspirin should not be mixed with other drugs that treat certain medical conditions. For example, when aspirin is taken with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, the effects of the drugs may be reduced or eliminated. When aspirin is taken with anticoagulant therapies such as Heparin and Warfarin, the risk of bleeding is extremely high.

You should always speak to your doctor whenever you start taking a new medication while on aspirin therapy. It’s important you know the risks of taking both of them.

Other Important Information to Consider

If you’re generally healthy, but have a high risk of heart disease, aspirin therapy may be best for you. The only person who can tell you that you should start a daily aspirin regimen is your doctor, after he has given you a thorough examination and assessment for heart disease.

When you begin your aspirin therapy, be sure to let your doctor know of any side effects. This can help prevent any bleeding conditions that could result from taking the aspirin.

Never take more aspirin as recommended by your physician. If you suffer from another medical condition, such as a headache, check with your doctor before you increase your dose. It may be possible to take another pain reliever with the daily aspirin without increasing your risk of other medical conditions.

If you’re concerned about taking aspirin, there are many other ways to reduce your risk of heart disease. Healthy eating and exercise are the first steps. You should also work on your stress levels to keep them as low as possible. You may want to consider supplements such as Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 and fish oil. Garlic and green tea have been found to lower the risk of heart disease too.

Take care of yourself as best as you can each and every day, and follow the advice of your doctor. Heart disease is a risk, but you can reduce your risk.

Unexpected Blood Clot Threats Most Women Don’t Know About

Women often take on the world. They are successful at being a wife, mother, and/or business professional. As they take care of anything and everything, they often forget to take care of one thing – themselves. This can be devastating because as much as they want to continue to help everyone, they end up not being able to because of health issues.

One of the most serious health concerns for women is blood clots. One in four people die of blood clots each year. While blood clots can’t always be avoided, it is possible to prevent them in some situations. The following are some of the threats that can lead to serious blood clots.

What Are Blood Clots?

Blood clots can lead to:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Venous Thromboembolism

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is a medical condition in the veins that causes blood to stop moving. In a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the clot moves towards the lungs and becomes stuck there. This can be fatal.

The good news is you can prevent some blood clots and reduce the risk of them.

Estrogen Medication

Medications such as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy that contain estrogen put women at an elevated risk for blood clots. Women’s risk of getting a blood clot is five times higher than those who don’t take medication with estrogen in it.

Women who have a family history of blood clots are at more of a risk of suffering from them. Being overweight and smoking can also increase your chances.

Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnant women are at an outstanding risk of blood clots. During pregnancy, blood gets thicker, which makes clots more likely. Actually, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to suffer from them. This lasts until six to eight weeks after giving birth.

Those who have suffered blood clots in the past are more at risk for reoccurrence of them when pregnant or after giving birth, so it’s important to speak to your doctor about it. It’s also important to move around often when you’re pregnant to prevent blood clots. Walking around once every hour or more can reduce your risk for them.

Older Women

As you age, your risk for blood clots increases. When older women take estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy, they increase their risk of blood clots by two or three times.

It’s important to avoid hormone replacement therapy with estrogen if you have a history of blood clots. If you must, speak to your doctor about it. Many doctors will keep an eye on it and recommend at least 30 minutes of walking a day and avoiding sitting for long periods of times. There are also medications that can be prescribed, which will thin the blood to reduce the risk of blood clotting.

Getting an Assessment for Blood Clots

Doctors have an assessment they can give you to figure out your risk for blood clots. You will need to answer all of the questions truthfully, so you can have all of the information possible to reduce your risk.

Preventative treatment is available. Blood thinners can be prescribed and there are all compression stockings that can be worn to decrease your risk of blood clotting. These preventative steps only decreases your chances of blood clots, they don’t eliminate the risks.

You should know the symptoms of a blood clot, in case you ever suffer from one.

  • Swelling is typical with a blood clot and will usually only occur in the extremity where the blood clot is such as in one leg or arm.
  • Pain and tenderness are common. Some people describe it as having a Charley horse.
  • Skin will turn red or blue, as if it is inflamed or losing circulation.
  • The extremity is unusually warm.

Many people suffering from a blood clot say it feels as though there is a pulled muscle or Charley horse in the arm or leg. The difference with blood clots is that it swells, discolors, and becomes warm to the touch.

Be sure to keep these risks and symptoms in mind. You may not be at risk now, but you may later in life. Knowing about it can save your life. Share it with friends and other loved ones to ensure they can also prevent life-threatened blood clots.