Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Major Health Risk You Take Every Day

This article originally ran in Shine from Yahoo Canada!
By The Editors at Sharecare | Healthy LivingMon, 3 Dec, 2012 3:39 PM EST


Sitting all day may be the worst thing you can do for your health.
These tricks will get you moving.

By Rachael Anderson

Most people think smoking is the worst thing they can possibly do for their health. But in reality, perhaps the worst thing of all is something most of us do every day: sit. We sit when we drive, work, eat, use the computer, watch TV and read. In fact, before you read any further, you should probably stand up. It turns out that the more time you stay planted on your rear, the less time you're destined to live on this planet.

Take a break from sitting

Here's what we know:

Eye-opening research shows that keeping your butt in a chair (or on the couch) for hours at a time can lead to cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death. One study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat six hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die by the end of the 13-year study period; men who sat were 18 percent more likely to die. Another study tied 49,000 U.S. cases of breast cancer and 43,000 of colon cancer to prolonged sitting.

Sitting isn't dangerous just because it means you're not exercising. It's dangerous all by itself.

Prolonged time spent on your bum has significant metabolic consequences. It negatively affects your blood sugar, triglycerides, good cholesterol, resting blood pressure and levels of the "appetite hormone" leptin, all of which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Sitting also sabotages the lymph system, which helps the body fend off infections. Lymph vessels, which drain waste materials created by an infection, don't have a pump like the heart; they're controlled by rhythmic contractions of the muscles in your legs. So when you sit, the lymph system can't do its job.

If you sit all day but make sure to get to the gym or go for a walk after work, isn't that enough?

Unfortunately, no.

"Bursts of exercise is not the answer; two hours of exercise per day will not compensate for 22 hours of sitting," says cancer specialist and author David Agus, MD. In fact, sitting for five or six hours a day, even if you spend an hour a day at the gym, is the equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.

How to sit less during the day

Moving more is tough, especially since most people's jobs revolve around sitting. But breaking up endless time on your bum, even for a few minutes, can make a huge difference. Key enzymes move, blood flows, mind and muscles flex. Here is what you can do to sit less:

  • Get up and move at least every 30 minutes. Get water or coffee. Pace up and down the hall or just stand when you're on a phone call. Even fidgeting helps.
  • Go ahead, watch your favorite TV shows-but don't just sit there. Cook, fold laundry, empty the dishwasher or ride a stationary bike.
  • If you have to spend all day at your computer, consider investing in a treadmill desk like Michael Roizen, MD. That way you can keep moving even while you work.
  • Make sure you exercise. Even though working out won't completely rid you of the negative effects of sitting, a study found that active people who sat for long periods lived longer than inactive people who sat for long periods.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

11 Foods Most Likely to Cause Sickness

This article was originally posted in Shine from Yahoo on Tue, 25 Sep, 2012 4:50 PM EDT
No authors were credited on the original article.

As long as there are no allergy issues, a simple peanut butter sandwich seems like one of the safest and most wholesome foods one could eat or feed to a child. However, the recent Trader Joe's peanut butter recall (which has now been expanded to include 100 different products that contain nuts and seeds made by supplier Sunland) highlights how food poisoning can come from our favorite, most nutritious foods. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about 48 million Americans per year are infected with bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens from contaminated food. Nearly 150,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Some sources say that the numbers could be as much as double the CDC estimates. Germs spread from meat and poultry account for 30-40 percent of infections, and according to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), 10 other items cause another 40 percent of cases. Safe handling, washing and cooking are highly recommended to reduce the risks.

Photo by: Thinkstock

Poultry and meat
Raw poultry and meat may contain harmful bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, and E. coli. Estimates vary, at least 30-40% of food borne illnesses are caused by meat and poultry. Thorough cooking kills these pathogens. Be careful not to cross-contaminate other items in the refrigerator, sink, or on the countertop....  

greenleafsPhoto by: Thinkstock

Leafy greens
Lettuce and other leafy greens are super healthy but also susceptible to contamination through improper processing or handling. The CDC says about 14% of food poisoning comes from these vegetables. Most of the bacteria are in the outer leaves, discard and rinse the rest a few times. Bagged salad should also be washed.


 Photo by: Thinkstock

Eggs can be contaminated with salmonella. Store in the refrigerator and cook thoroughly before eating. Avoid raw or runny eggs. In 2010, more than 500 million eggs were recalled after 1,500 people were infected with salmonella.    


Photo by: Thinkstock

Raw tuna that is not properly refrigerated can cause poisoning from a substance that develops in decaying flesh called scrombotoxin. Symptoms include: headache, cramps, nausea, and loss of vision. Cooking does not destroy the contaminant. The FDA warns scrombotoxin is particularly dangerous for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems and say it often goes unreported because people don't associate the symptoms with fish consumption.

         oystersPhoto by: Thinkstock

Raw oysters may be infected with norovirus, which causes gastroenteritis, or vibrio, a dangerous bacterium related to cholera. The FDA recommends that people with certain health conditions avoid raw oysters. For more information, click here.       

 potatoesalad Photo by: Thinkstock

 Food poisoning linked to this popular vegetable is often caused by dishes like potato salad that are improperly refrigerated. Potatoes baked in foil and kept warm can too long can also develop botulism. Scrub well, cook thoroughly, and store prepared dishes in the refrigerator

.        icecream
Photo by: Thinkstock

Ice cream
Outbreaks of food poisoning can occur when pasteurized milk is cross-contaminated with unpasteurized milk. Soft ice cream machines that aren't regularly cleaned may also harbor bacteria. At home, the USDA recommends people making their own ice cream use a cooked egg base.

Photo by: Thinkstock

Cheese can become contaminated during processing, but the greatest danger comes from eating cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Raw, soft cheese, such as Brie or Mexican-style Queso Fresco, may carry listeria, a pathogen that is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. The FDA recommends avoiding cheese that is not labeled pasteurized.    

tomatoesPhoto by: Thinkstock

Because of the way food is distributed through the agricultural system, an outbreak of salmonella at a single facility can affect thousands of people. Salmonella can live in the raw fruit, but multiply when tomatoes are cut and left in a warm environment. Store items like fresh salsa in the refrigerator. Home canned (and occasionally processed) tomatoes may harbor botulism, which the CDC says is destroyed by boiling for ten minutes

      beansprouts  Photo by: Thinkstock

The warm, moist conditions that are ideal for growing sprouts are also great for cultivating bacteria. The CDC recommends that children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system avoid consuming raw sprouts

          strawberries Photo by: Thinkstock

Since 1990, CSPI reports there have been 25 reported outbreaks of food poisoning from berries. The FDA says contamination usually occurs during harvesting or from contaminated water. The big problem is, outbreak can impact thousands of consumers such as when farm worker contaminated 2.6 million pounds of strawberries with Hepatitis A in 1997. Rinse berries thoroughly and find trusted local source for in season fruit.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Surprising ways fish oil improves your health

It’s no secret that fish oil keep inflammation down but it can also protect you from air pollution




The benefits of fish oil: Seven surprising ways it improves your health

Known to improve skin and help manage hot flashes, we find seven new ways fish oil can make you healthier

Chatelaine  Natasha Turner, ND Thu Aug 09 2012


Photo credit: Getty Images

It’s no secret that fish oil keeps your inflammation down and digestion in check. But what you may not know is that its benefits can impact everything from city living and bone density to fat burning and brain power. Here are seven things you may not know about the benefits of fish oils and how you can go about ensuring you get enough each day
1. Protect yourself from air pollution
Who knew that one of the many benefits of fish oil includes protecting your heart from air pollution? But, according to a recent American study it's true. Twenty-nine healthy, middle-aged adults received either three grams of fish oil or a placebo daily for four weeks and were then exposed to unclean air for two hours. Researchers found that those who took the fish oil didn’t have the same negative responses as those who only took the placebo.

Bottom line: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements offer protection against the adverse cardiac and lipid effects associated with air pollution exposure, which makes them a must especially if you live in the city
2. Reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis
According to a University of Bristol study, omega-3 fish oil could significantly reduce the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Omega-3-rich diets fed to guinea pigs, which naturally develop osteoarthritis, reduced the disease by 50 percent compared to those who ate standard diets
Bottom line: If you have joint pain of any kind, you can cut the inflammatory process in half by taking fish oil daily
3. Reduce the signs of aging
Growing evidence suggests that telomere shortening (the DNA at the end of your chromosomes) can inhibit stem cell function and cellular regeneration causing unhealthy aging. A 2010 study uncovered an link between blood levels of fish oil and the rate of telomere shortening over five years, suggesting an explanation for the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

Bottom line: Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco studied more than 600 patients and found that the higher the blood levels of fish-derived omega-3 acids in patients with coronary heart disease, the longer the telomeres. Adding fish like salmon to your diet at least twice a week is a great way to boost your omega-3 intake
4. Improve fat burning
When Peter Howe and his colleagues at the University of South Australia studied the effects of diet and exercise on the body, they found fish oil supplements and exercise made for a powerful fat-loss combination. During the study, overweight and obese adults with metabolic syndrome, and a greater risk of heart disease, took omega-3 fish oil daily in combination with moderate aerobic exercise three times a week for 12 weeks. Body fat stores, particularly abdominal fat, were significantly reduced in the fish-oil-plus-exercise group, but not in those who used fish oil or exercise alone.

Bottom line: The insulin-sensitizing ability of DHA, the anti-inflammatory benefits of EPA, and the fat burning benefits of both make choosing a supplement containing significant amounts of each a good idea
5. Boost brain power and memory
Researchers have found positive associations between fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning as well as differences in brain structure between users and non-users of fish oil supplements. Compared to non-users, fish oil supplements were associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. The unique finding, however, is that there was a clear association between fish oil and brain volume in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking (cerebral cortex and hippocampus). In other words, fish oil use was associated with less brain shrinkage in patients taking these supplements.

Bottom line: A diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities. Add to keep your brain healthy through the years.

6. Preserve lean muscle
Supplementing the diet with fish oil may prevent muscle loss that commonly occurs in cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. The trial involved 16 patients who took fish oil (2.2 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid/day) and 24 patients who did not. Patients who did not take fish oil lost an average of 2.3 kilograms whereas patients receiving fish oil maintained their weight. What’s even more interesting is that 69 percent of patients in the fish oil group gained or maintained muscle mass.

Bottom line: Remember, muscle is metabolically active and burns calories even while you sleep. Adding in fish oil will help preserve muscle, even while dieting.

7. Improve bone health
When it comes to maintaining bone density, calcium, vitamin D and magnesium shouldn’t be your only supplements. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is essential for optimal bone health. Researchers compared the effect of an omega-6 DPA and the omega-3 DHA in the growth of long bones in rats. The results showed that the rats fed the omega-6 supplemented diet had the lowest bone mineral content and bone mineral density compared to the rats fed the omega-3 supplemented diet.

Bottom line: The authors concluded that omega-3s appear to be a vital constituent of healthy modeling bone and maintaining bone mineral density. In addition to the above supplements, be sure to add in a regular strength training routine to prevent osteoporosis.

I recommend taking three capsules (or one teaspoon) of a high quality fish oil with meals twice daily for reduced inflammation, weight loss, healthy skin and these added benefits. Click here for my recommended brands.

Note on contents of capsules: Each fish oil capsule is approximately 900-1000 mg. The amount of EPA and DHA can vary quite a bit according to the brand, but a good rule of thumb is to add the DHA + EPA and ensure it equals half, or more than half, of the content of the capsule. For example, in a 980 mg capsule, EPA + DHA may equal 500 mg in total. Depending on the situation, you may also opt for a different ratio of EPA to DHA. If your goal is to reduce acute inflammation (such as post-surgery), you may choose a capsule that is higher in EPA, whereas if mood/brain health is your goal (such as during pregnancy), you should select a capsule that is higher in DHA. These are often available in a 6:1 ratio.

Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her newest release, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique.
For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Worst Snacks for Your Body

By SHAPE magazine | Healthy LivingMon, 13 Aug, 2012 10:35 AM EDT

To snack or not to snack? That depends on the snack. Done the right way (calorie-controlled, nutrient-rich), snacking can keep cravings in check and up the nutritional quality of your diet. But all too often some of the most common snacks-even the ones that seem healthy-are filled with salt, sugar, excess calories, and even harmful chemicals, according to Tiffany Jackson, ND, and Kate Kennedy, RD, practitioners at Cenegenics Carolinas, an age-management medical practice in Charleston, South Carolina. Here, they share the 5 worst snacks for your health:

Canned peaches

Canned peaches1. Canned peaches: Canned fruits and veggies may seem like a great snack in a pinch, but not only are canned fruits (particularly the highly popular canned peaches) loaded with excess sugar, their nutrient content is typically much lower than fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, which are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness.
Canned fruit, on the other hand, has had its flavor bolstered by sweeteners so there's no need to use the most flavorful fruit, which is also the most nutrient-dense. Even worse, notes Jackson, the cans are often lined with a toxic chemical that acts as a preservative.

Potato chips

Potato chips2. Potato chips: This is a triple threat snack if there ever was one. Not only are potato chips high in fat , calories, and sodium (threat No. 1), they are a high glycemic vegetable (threat No. 2), which can spike blood sugar. And finally (threat No. 3), when potatoes are heated to a high temperature, they release acrylamide, a harmful chemical associated with nerve damage. And no, you can't eat just one.

Rice cakes

Rice cakes3. Rice cakes: Rice cakes, while blandly low in calories, are made from processed white rice, which is high in blood-sugar spiking carbohydrates. Plus, many come with flavorings that are loaded with sugar and salt. So even if your net calories are low, munching on these nutrient-void disks is about as healthy (and tasty) as eating Styrofoam packing peanuts.

Blueberry muffins

Blueberry muffins4. Blueberry muffins: Or, as Kennedy calls them, "sugar-laden calorie bombs." This popular muffin's still fools even health savvy people, thanks to its promise of fruit and the fact that, despite the artificial flavorings, added sugars, and ridiculous portion sizes, they just sound wholesome and harmless. Unless you made the muffin yourself, steer clear (and even then it's better as a treat than an everyday snack).

Granola bars

Granola bars5. Granola bars: Part of the problem with granola bars is their sheer ubiquity as an afternoon snack-and the organic promise that is on so many of these bars' labels. Nearly all of them are loaded with processed carbs, dried fruit (which is high in sugar), and held together with even more sugar in the form of honey or even the health-nut favorite agave . Plus, they don't contain much in the way of filling fiber and are often loaded with calories. Save them for the 10-mile hike.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hidden Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

By AMY HENDEL | iVillage Canada – Tue, 12 Jun, 2012 9:33 AM EDT

You think you're doing the right stuff to keep trim, but just can't seem to shed that extra weight. What are the hidden reasons we can't drop those last few pounds?

Reason #1: You Don’t Realize That Sugar Lurks Everywhere
Many foods that we don’t think of as sweet, like pasta, soups, cereal, salad dressings and sauces, contain sugar and often it goes by another name like agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate(s), glucose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, malt syrup or molasses -- just to name a few!. If your diet is high in sugar you may be missing out on important nutrients and overeating more often than you realize since sugar stimulates taste. A high-sugar diet can also cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar, which can zap your energy and make you feel hungry again.

Solution: Read nutrition labels and steer clear of cereals and sauces that have more than 8 grams of sugar per serving. If you need a sweet fix, choose fresh fruit as often as possible. Skip sodas in favour of water (plain or flavoured with a bit of lemon, lime or juice essence) and unsweetened teas.

Reason #2: You Choose “Healthy” Processed Food
Foods labeled “low sugar,” “low sodium,” “multi grain,” “organic,” “natural,” “vitamin-enriched,” “high fibre,” or “sweetened with honey or agave” may be high in calories or hidden sweeteners or unhealthy additives. And if you assume it’s healthy, you may eat more of it.
Solution: Switch to whole foods like fresh produce, fish and meat and beans and legumes and limit consumption of processed foods.

Reason #3: You Snack On Nutrition Bars
How often do you eat a nutrition bar as a snack rather than to fuel a workout? If it’s often, you could be downing 400 or more calories without realizing it. Although touted as healthy, many nutrition bars are no better than a candy bar. If you use them for fuel, choose carb-loaded bars for aerobic exercise and protein bars for weight training. If you eat them in the normal course of your day, choose 100-calorie bars for a snack and 350-calorie bars for a meal (and don’t combine with them other high-calorie foods) and avoid bars with trans fats.
Solution: Eat whole-food snacks, like sliced apple and peanut butter, and reserve bars for emergencies.

Reason #4: You Exercise Too Leisurely
If you rely on the calorie counts on machines or the numbers of calories you’ll burn promised to you by instructors you could be exerting too little effort to jumpstart weight loss. To burn 100 calories an hour, you need to maintain a high level of aerobic activity the entire hour.
Solution: Determine your target heart rate for optimal exercise then check your pulse several times during workouts (or wear a heart-rate monitor) to make sure you’re consistently in that calorie-burning zone. Try interval training (a mix of fast and slow pace), fun classes (Zumba anyone?) or outdoor exercise to keep you engaged and burning calories at maximal capacity. Choose exercises that offer a challenge or cross train on different equipment to push your body out of weight-loss plateaus.

Reason #5: You Ignore Fibre
Fibre-rich foods are good for weight-loss in two ways: They require more calorie-burning effort during digestion and they are filling and satisfying, which helps curb cravings.
Solution: Aim for 30 grams of fibre a day. Good sources include fruits, vegetables, unprocessed whole grains, beans and legumes and unprocessed nuts.

Reason #6: You're Seduced By "Diet" Foods
Beware of baked chips, whole grain pretzels, low carb dressings, diet sodas, frozen prepared diet entrees and fat-free deli meats. Many of these "diet versions" are actually high in sodium, which can cause fluid retention; or sugar, which can create a rapid rise and fall of blood sugar, triggering another cycle of eating.
Solution: Stick to fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts, fat-free dairy products, portion-controlled whole grains and a bit of healthy fat. Prepare your own food as often as possible so you know exactly what how much sugar, fat and salt you are eating.

Reason #7: You Skip Breakfast
More and more research shows that breakfast eaters lose weight and keep it off more easily than those who skip the morning meal. And the heartier the breakfast, the better – you'll be less likely to overeat later in the day.
Solution: The ideal breakfast is a combination of protein, carbs and fat, and adds up to 400 or 500 calories. Try whole-grain, high-fibre cereal, with low-fat Greek yogurt, berries and nuts; a whole-grain waffle with homemade peanut butter, banana slices and a skim latte; or two scrambled eggs with peppers and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese on a whole grain tortilla.

Reason #8: You Forget About Fat

Pizza isn’t the only food that’s high in oil and fat. Muffins are, too. A lot of processed and refined foods have hidden trans fats, which are partially-hydrogenated oils that can clog and damage your arteries. These fats are predominantly found in fried foods and processed baked goods, stick margarines and shortenings.
Solution: Because manufacturers can claim “zero trans fats” if the food contains less than .5 grams of trans fats per serving, read nutrition labels carefully. If you see “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, put it back on the shelf.

Reason #9: You Eat Out Too Much
Studies suggest that eating out socially often means eating more. Between bread or chips, appetizers, wine and dessert -- on top of an entree -- you can consume a lot of calories without realizing it. You may also feel pressure to clean your plate to get the full value of the meal or not waste any food.
Solution: Commit to eating at home more. Invest in cookbooks for beginners or look for simple recipes online. Plan your meals for the week and create pre-measured snacks ahead of time so you have something healthy to grab on the go. Limit eating out to once or twice a week.

Reason #10: You Eat “Unclaimed” Calories
Do you take candies or treats from bowls at work? Do you sample food from your partner’s plate? Do you nibble and taste as you cook? These unaccounted for calories add up.
Solution: Keep a food journal and jot down everything you eat so you can see how often you nibble, sample and taste. Make a point of cutting back on those unclaimed calories and keep healthy snacks on hand so you’re less likely to munch on empty calories.

Reason #11: Your Environment Encourages Eating

The color of the room, the amount of lighting and whether you listen to music or watch TV can all affect your appetite, according to research by Brian Wansink in the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. Warm colors like red and yellow stimulate appetite while cool colors like blue and green suppress it. Listening to music and watching TV or reading may cause you to overeat either by increasing your appetite or promoting mindless eating. Bright lighting makes you eat faster while eating outdoors slows consumption.
Solution: Dim the lighting, turn off any distractions like the radio, TV or the computer and eat your meal at a set table as often as possible.

Reason #12: You Drink Alcohol Before or During Meals
If you have a drink or two most nights before dinner, your ability to gauge fullness may be blunted making you more likely to overeat, especially at a buffet. You also need to add those liquid calories to your day’s tally -- at average of 100 calories per drink, it's easy to rack up a few hundred empty calories.
Solution: Drink an occasional glass of wine or wine spritzer, but remember to count those calories and be aware of appetizer, entree and dessert portions
Reason #13: You Don’t Discriminate Against Condiments
Calories from condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup, salad dressing and other add-ins like croutons, add up, especially since most of us eat more than one serving. A tablespoon of mayonnaise, which is mostly fat, and one ounce of croutons is 132 calories.
Solution: Choose condiments wisely, substituting lower-calorie mustard, hummus or avocado for mayonnaise, and measure by the teaspoon.

Reason #14: You Graze All Day
Grazing can be healthy but it can also go haywire, if you’re not keeping track of how much you’re eating or paying attention to hunger signals.
Solution: Keep a food journal (or download an app) to track how much you eat, how often you eat, the specific amounts or serving sizes of carbohydrates, fats and proteins you are eating daily and be mindful of how often you graze.

Reason #15: You Think Gluten-Free Equals Calorie-Free
Many people who aren’t allergic to gluten are still choosing gluten-free foods because they equate them with lower calories. The same goes for “diabetes-friendly foods” and foods labeled with terms like “low carb” or “low fat.”
Solution: Skip gluten-free foods if you’re not allergic to gluten. They won’t help your waist, wallet or overall health. If you are allergic to gluten, keep track of your carbohydrate consumption and make sure you get enough protein.

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