Monday, 30 May 2016

5 Proven Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a prime example of getting too much of a good thing. Your body needs cholesterol, but too much leads to blockages that hamper blood flow to your heart and brain. Whole grains, black tea, and a good breakfast are among the easiest ways to lower your cholesterol. Take a look at these five proven ways to lower your cholesterol without sacrifice or medication.

1. Drink black tea
Other benefits aside — and there are many — drinking black tea has been proven to lower cholesterol. That cup of tea does more than just soothe on a stressful day. Flavonoids, the major antioxidants in tea, prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the type that leads to plaque formation on artery walls.

In one study, participants drank five servings of black tea daily, and there was a 6% to 11% reduction in blood cholesterol in tea drinkers compared to those drinking a tea-flavored placebo. Drinking tea can affect your cholesterol levels in as few as three months.

Even if you’re not up to drinking five cups of tea a day, start with a cup or two per day — every little bit helps.

2. Eat less bad fat and more good fat
If you see “partially hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients, pass that product by. It isn’t doing your body any favors. According to Harvard Health: “Partially hydrogenated oil is not the only source of trans fats in our diets. Trans fats are also naturally found in beef fat and dairy fat, in small amounts. Trans fats are worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fats because they raise bad LDL and lower good HDL.”

Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, which are derived primarily from animal products, aren’t exactly heart-healthy, but it’s OK to eat them in small amounts. So-called “healthy fats” are your best option. These fats reduce the bad LDL cholesterol in your blood and increase the good HDL cholesterol.

The Heart Association recommends these sources of healthy fat: olives; nuts; seeds; oils made from olives, nuts and, seeds (e.g. olive oil, canola, sunflower, safflower); fish; lean meats and poultry; and eggs.

3. Stick to a plant-based diet
True, it’s trendy these days, but that doesn’t mean that a plant-based diet is just a fad. Getting your fill of fruits and veggies has a serious impact on your health — it’s seriously good for you. Results from a study conducted by Stanford University showed that after four weeks, participants eating a plant-based diet rich in nutrients and phytochemicals reduced their total and LDL cholesterol significantly more than the participants consuming a standard low-fat diet.

Eat a diet with a low glycemic load that is high in fiber and includes healthy fats. It should be plant-based, and you should consume plenty of good-quality protein, such as beans, nuts, and seeds.

This doesn’t mean that the only way to be healthy is to cut out meat completely. Focus instead on devoting a larger portion of your plate to plants.

4. Exercise
It should go without saying: exercise, exercise, exercise. You don’t have to run a marathon. Just get moving. One way exercise can help lower cholesterol is by helping you lose or maintain weight.

Being overweight tends to increase the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in your blood, the kind of lipoprotein that’s been linked to heart disease. Exercise helps lower your LDL and even raises the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in your body.

Although any type of exercise helps your heart health, studies have found that cardio done for 30 minutes or more (and that include intervals) seem to increase good-for-you HDL cholesterol levels.

5. Eat plenty of whole grains
A heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering diet doesn’t have to leave you hungry. In fact, whole grains are on the “friendly” list, and they’re super filling. The fiber in whole grains may act as a natural anticoagulant and appetite suppressant, both of which can keep cholesterol from blocking blood vessels.

According to Harvard Health, “Eating whole instead of refined grains substantially lowers total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels. Any of these changes would be expected to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Try some of these whole-grain, delicious, and heart-healthy combos: whole-grain toast with avocado, a whole-grain cereal topped with fresh fruit, or oatmeal with bananas and almond butter.

6 Foods That Can Soothe Sore Muscles

Intense HIIT sessions and bouts of strength training leave most gym goers leaner, stronger, and incredibly achy the next day. Ending your workout with a proper cool-down and plenty of stretching can help prevent sore muscles, but these efforts will only take you so far. In order to get your body back to feeling great, healthy food is a must. And if you pick the right eats, your muscle soreness will disappear remarkably fast.

Nutrition also plays a key role in maintaining a healthy weight, which is something everyone should remember. Consider this list a two-for-one because these foods can both alleviate muscle soreness and keep you lean. You’ll be feeling and looking better in no time.

1. Ginger

This root has been hailed for its medicinal properties among different cultures for thousands of years, and research continues to come out in its favor. A study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition took an in-depth look at how herbs and spices impact certain biomarkers in the human body. According to the researchers, ginger proved effective both as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. Since inflammation contributes to muscle soreness, this means ginger can help you during the recovery process.

One group of researchers even studied ginger as it relates to exercise recovery. The study, published in the Journal of Pain, had participants perform muscle contractions to induce pain and each was given raw ginger, cooked ginger, or a placebo. Those who consumed ginger, both raw and heated, experienced less pain the next day than the control group.

2. Fatty fish

Those looking to build muscle already reach for protein-packed fish to fuel their efforts, but any type of athlete can benefit from getting plenty of this food in their diets. While the protein certainly helps in building muscle, it doesn’t actually do much for alleviating soreness. Omega-3 fats are what shine in that department.

According to one 2009 study, subjects who received an omega-3 supplement during a training program benefited from reduced soreness 48 hours after exercise. With just 27 participants, the study was small, but it’s not the only example. More recent research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found similar muscle-soothing results.

3. Olive oil

One of the trademark ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has become a favorite for those looking to protect their hearts. This fat can also seriously help sooth aches and pains after a strenuous workout. Olive oil contains a type of antioxidant called oleocanthal, which has caught the attention of researchers. One 2014 review reported the nutrient can help fight inflammation and may protect against cancer and arthritis. The review even mentioned its ability to reduce pain may be comparable to ibuprofen.

4. Tart cherry juice

Instead of baking summer’s tart cherries into a pie, you might want to consider tossing them into your juicer. A few studies have demonstrated their muscle-soothing affect. One example from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports had 20 marathon runners drink tart cherry juice or placebo in the days leading up to and after the 26.2-mile event. Those who went with the juice benefited from reduced inflammation and a faster path to regaining strength. A similar study involving a larger sample size reported that drinking tart cherry juice led to a significantly smaller increase in pain after a race.

5. Coffee

Most of us would struggle to make it out of the house without at least one cup of coffee. When it comes to recovering from strenuous workouts, getting your caffeine fix can actually be a good thing. One review published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation highlighted a few studies that have demonstrated caffeine’s ability to alleviate post-workout soreness. The researchers acknowledged more studies need to be conducted, though.

Starting your day with a cup or two of coffee could benefit your efforts at the gym even if you aren’t addressing sore muscles. One 2008 review reported moderate doses of caffeine can boost performance for a range of different sports. But don’t overdo your java consumption. Mayo Clinic recommended no more than four cups per day.

6. Cruciferous vegetables

Whether you prefer broccoli, kale, or cabbage, filling your plate with any of these cruciferous veggies can help your body bounce back after a tough day at the gym. One 2014 analysis involving more than 1,000 women found those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables benefited from lower levels of inflammation. This type of produce is also packed with fiber, which will help fill you up after your exercise efforts leave your stomach grumbling.

6 ways to befriend your bones and fend off osteoporosis

What have you done for your bones lately? One in two women — and one in four men — age 50 or older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. And until they break that wrist, or hip, or vertebrae in the spine, odds are they will have no idea they have osteoporosis.

If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you are at greater risk, because 70 percent of our bone destiny is due to heredity. But you still can help shape the health of your bones.

We actively build bone until our mid-20s. After that, we start to slowly lose bone mass, a decline that temporarily steepens for about five years postmenopause in women.

If you have bone-healthy habits during your youth, your bone will be better able to withstand some of the natural erosion that comes with age. Your bones may become less dense, but it might never progress to osteoporosis.

While it’s ideal to develop bone-healthy habits in childhood, you can take action at any age to improve both bone and muscle health. What does muscle have to do with osteoporosis? The more muscle you hold on to as you age, the more likely you are to avoid falling if you start to lose your balance. Contrary to popular belief, you hardly ever break a hip, then fall. You fall — often to the side — then break a hip.

Here are some of the best bone-building nutrition and lifestyle tips:

Count on calcium. If we don’t get enough calcium in our diet, our bodies will take it from our bones. Adults should aim for 1,000-1,200 mg from foods and supplements, but more isn’t better. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, canned sardines and salmon (because you eat the bones), tofu made with calcium, calcium-fortified foods and some dark leafy greens. Kale, collard and mustard greens are good (so is broccoli), but spinach and beet greens contain oxalic acid, which makes its calcium unavailable to us. Oxalic acid is greatly reduced by cooking, and consuming a food with oxalic acid does not affect absorption of calcium from other foods you eat during the same meal.

Stock up on vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium, but it also helps build muscle. We don’t get much vitamin D from food, and if we are vigilant about preventing skin cancer, we aren’t getting much natural vitamin D through our skin. Taking 800-1,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D with food is recommended for osteoporosis prevention, especially here in the Northwest.

Power up with protein. Getting adequate but not excessive protein is important to protect both muscle and bone mass. Divide your weight in pounds by two to get your rough protein goal in grams. So, if you weight 150 pounds, aim for 75 grams of protein per day.

Load up on produce. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables creates an environment in the body that prevents bone and muscle breakdown.

Get — and stay — active. Weight-bearing exercise — walking, running, strength training — stimulates bone-building activity and builds and maintains muscles. Exercises that help maintain balance, such as tai chi, can also help avoid falls. If you already have osteoporosis, ask your doctor what exercises are safe for you to do.

Avoid “bad to the bone” behaviors. These include smoking and excessive intake of alcohol, caffeine and sodium. Yo-yo dieting has also been shown to reduce bone density.

The 7 Best Herbs That Will Improve Your Health

While getting the proper intake of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats is essential to a healthy diet, you may be missing one key component — fresh herbs. Though you may only buy your herbs for special occasion dishes or when you’re entertaining guests, consider putting away the dried parsley flakes and reaching for a few snips of fresh herbs for everyday use. Though adding that sprinkle of basil over the top of your pasta dish or chives onto your salmon dish may not seem like a boost to your health, you may be surprised to find that, like other greens, herbs can help ward away cancer, protect your heart, improve brain function, and fight infection. Here are 7 of the best herbs for your health.

1. Sage

Though sage may not be in your usual repertoire of herbs to include in your meals, it pairs excellently with turkey and chicken dishes and with herb stuffing, making it a staple right around Thanksgiving. While it was originally known for its healing properties and its aid in plague prevention in the 1500s, Authority Nutrition explains how studies are currently showing that sage may aid in proper brain function and memory.
This may be especially useful for those suffering from Alzheimer’s — in a four-month study outlined within the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, a fixed dosage of sage extract (60 drops per day) was shown tosignificantly improve brain function in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint isn’t just the flavor of your holiday candy canes anymore — drinking peppermint tea or adding mint leaves into pesto dishes, salads, and couscous is the perfect way to reap the health benefits that this small plant has to offer. There’s a reason that peppermint tea is consumed worldwide and is considered to be one of the most beneficial teas to sip on. The Global Healing Center explains that when steeped in hot water, just a single tea bag of peppermint leaves offers antioxidants that can help prevent illness and chronic disease.
Peppermint can also help with irritable bowel syndrome, as it supports digestion by increasing bile flow and assisting in the break down of fats. This also means that it helps support proper liver function, as it can help reduce the bad cholesterol that can slow the liver down. If you’re feeling nauseous, forget the OTC medicines and try reaching for some peppermint instead, as it can help relieve gas, indigestion, and vomiting.

3. Rosemary

While you may be used to sprinkling a bit of dried rosemary over your beef, chicken, pork, or lamb, you’re actually doing your body a bigger favor than you realize by consuming this herb.
You’ll want to be wary when boiling, frying, or grilling meats at high temperatures, as this can produce dangerous carcinogens, or substances that are known to cause cancer. Prevention explains how the use ofpowdered rosemary extract has been shown to reduce the levels of these carcinogens — you can even toss this powder with your proteins before cooking to lower your carcinogen intake. J. Scott Smith, PhD, lead researcher at Kansas State University, says that rosemary contains carnosol and rosemarinic acid, which are two antioxidants that are known to destroy the specific type of carcinogen produced from cooking meats. Aim to marinate your proteins in rosemary and any other herbs and spices of your choosing before you begin cooking to get the most benefits.

4. Holy Basil

You may think you recognize this herb as the basil you know and love that might be sitting on your countertop or in your garden right now, but holy basil is different than the sweet or Thai varieties often found in popular dishes. Holy basil is native to Southeast Asia, and it’s been cultivated for its medicinal properties for centuries. This particular type of basil is a member of the mint family but can also be cooked in the same ways as other basils, its flavor is much the same as other types of basil as well. Including holy basil in your pesto, your pasta dishes, and in a sauce for your proteins is the perfect way to incorporate it into your diet.
Medicine Hunter explains how holy basil is an antioxidant with both anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Though there has not been much formal scientific research dedicated to holy basil in the past, it is garnering much attention from the medical community in recent years because of its natural therapeutic effect. Holy basil is an effective stress reliever as well due to the fact that it is considered to be an adaptogen. While adaptogens don’t relieve stress themselves, they help the body function at its best when faced with physical or emotional stressors. This herb is considered to be one that can help relax and ease the mind most effectively, and it is available in its fresh form and as an extract for easy usage.

5. Cilantro

Mexican food may come to mind immediately when thinking of cilantro, but this herb is more than just a taco topper. While the taste of cilantro has a love-it-or-hate-it reaction from many, those who love it should feel free to pile it high on their rice and bean dishes or even add plenty of it into your favorite juices and smoothies for that extra punch of flavor and extra health boost.
Cilantro is known for its ability to cleanse and heal the body from the inside out. Natural Health 365 explains that cilantro has an array of antioxidants and can also aid in digestion, and it is a fungicide and aphrodisiac that can also help with healing and warding away infections. It is also high in vitamins A, K, C, and has traces of B vitamins as well as being rich in iron and manganese. Though cilantro is rich in the vitamin and mineral department, its most coveted trait is the fact that it can help remove heavy metals from the body like mercury and aluminum. When consumed for long periods of time, cilantro will assist in removing mercury from tissue.

6. Milk Thistle

Though you may not have considered adding milk thistle into your salads to replace greens like spinach, this flowering herb has amazing benefits to the liver that you can reap just by eating the herb itself, steeping it to create a tea, or taking an oral milk thistle supplement.
Silymarin is the active ingredient in milk thistle that protects the liver, and the herb was approved in 1986 to treat liver diseases like alcoholic fatty liver, cirrhosis, both alcoholic and viral hepatitis, and liver poisoning. This ingredient also works as an anti-inflammatory agent and encourages the growth of the liver as well. Herb Wisdom explains how milk thistle works to detoxify chemicals that enter the body, and these chemicals can be in the form of medicines like acetaminophen to recreational alcoholic beverages to heavy metals. If you’re feeling like you may have had too much to drink at the bar the night before, it’s not a bad idea to consume some milk thistle the next day to help your liver repair itself from the damage.

7. Oregano

Oregano is another common herb that we all know, love, and sprinkle atop many Italian, Greek, and Spanish dishes. While it’s the perfect accompaniment to pizza, fresh salads with feta and olives, or vegetarian dishes, one tablespoon of the fresh herb has the same antioxidant super power as a medium-sized apple, says Vegetarian Times. With such a high concentration of antioxidants, consuming this unassuming herb may help ward away cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure while also preventing cellular damage. Its antimicrobial properties are also of the utmost importance, as oregano can prevent fungal and bacterial infections.
Medical News Today also describes the advantages of eating oregano for its anti-inflammatory properties. Beta-caryophyllin, an active ingredient in oregano, can help fight osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis. Oregano has also been used to help fight acne, dandruff, headaches, allergies, and menstrual cramps, among other illnesses and other conditions. If you don’t love the taste of fresh or dried oregano in your food, then oil of oregano supplements may be the route best suited for your consumption.

5 REASONS RED WINE IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU

1. It raises your good cholesterol
In a two-year study on patients with type-2 diabetes, red wine was found to significantly boost levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. But in order to reap the benefits, you really do need to be drinking in moderation – the research suggests that the sweet spot is probably a glass of red wine a night.
2. It fights off colds and flu
While traditional wisdom might tell you that alcohol suppresses the immune system, studies have actually found the opposite to be true – but again, moderation is key. A Spanish study found that those who drank two glasses of red wine a day were much less susceptible to the common cold than beer or spirit drinkers.
3. It can help to manage type-2 diabetes
Though diabetics will often be told to avoid alcohol, a study from last year showed that drinking a glass of wine with dinner improved blood-sugar control in those with type-2 diabetes.
4. It can reduce your calorie intake
Drinking red wine before a meal has been found to increase satiety – in other words, make you feel more satisfied – and therefore make you less likely to over-eat. You have to take the wine calories into consideration here, of course, but much like with dark chocolate, the satiety factor makes it easier to stop after one glass of red.
5. It increases your lifespan
A 29-year-long study showed that red-wine drinkers have a 34 per cent lower mortality rate than beer or vodka fans. Researchers attributed this to the fact that red wine is packed with polyphenols (a micronutrient known to protect against several types of diseases), which you can get from places other than wine. Still, not a bad argument for that nightly glass of red.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

8 Reasons You Should Never Drink Coffee


1. IT TASTES LIKE EVIL.

That foul flavor haunts me to this day. If you have to pack in teaspoons of sugar and almond milk and hazelnut whathaveyou, you're masking the fact that you're consuming poison. Yes, you can eventually get used to that bitterness, but you could likely add sugar to antifreeze and it would taste good at some point. (Just kidding, please don't ever do this).

2. IT'S BAD FOR YOU.

Rejoice over all of those studies that come out regularly swearing that a cup is like, maybe fine for your body. But any product packed with caffeine and (typically) sugar isn't something that you should be pounding back multiple times a day. Three mugs of soda in the morning seems pretty gross, too. Which brings me to...

3. EVERYONE'S ADDICTED.

And we're just supposed to pretend that's okay?! I'll read those testimonials about people who tried to reduce their coffee habits, or watched friends try to cut back, and then get headaches and feel very real symptoms of withdrawal. What kind of socially sanctioned drug abuse is this?! 

4. THE CROP HAS LED TO SOME SHADY DEALINGS OVER THE YEARS.

"Fair trade" is a concept based on the fact that coffee-bean production is often unethical: as in, the farming and selling leads to trade wars and relies on child labor. Fantastic. And there's even debatethat fair trade is a label that makes us feel better but often means little. 

5. IT GIVES EVERYONE AN EXCUSE TO BE A TOTAL ASSH*LE IN THE MORNING.

I won't say I wake up with birds chirping in my hand like Snow White. But because I've never benefited from that caffeine jolt in the morning, I'm bewildered by friends and coworkers who grumble-grumble-grumble like 5-year-olds and refuse to even speak until they've had their fix. 

6. COFFEE MAKES EVERYONE PRETENTIOUS.

Statements that would be absurd or wildly impolite to say about anything else suddenly seem okay if they're in regards to coffee. "Ugh, the coffee here is disgusting," someone will complain after a fancy meal in a restaurant, or "You've never really had coffee until you've had an espresso in Italy." Ugh, get over yourself. 

7. IT LEAVES YOU WITH REALLY FUNKY BREATH.

Sorry not sorry. If anything, coffee drinkers should apologize to the rest of us with noses. 

8. THOSE LITTLE K-PODS ARE DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT. 

Aside from all the other waste that coffee consumption creates—the discarded Starbucks cups, the sugar packets, the plastic lids and stirrers—there are the piles of Keurig cups. Go ahead, enjoy that quick brew! Our grandchildren will one day spend a day at the beach doing the back stroke through your little plastic capsules, just lying there crumpled and still somehow smelly even in the ocean.

7 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just wanting to maintain your sleek physique, boosting your metabolism to a higher rate is always a good idea. There are several ways to give your metabolism an extra push—including exercising early in the day—but eating can also be a factor in its elevation.
Increasing your metabolism means your body burns calories at a higher rate. So if your metabolism is high, it’s burning calories even when you aren’t working hard at the gym. A sluggish metabolism can cause you to gain weight, because you’re consuming more than your body is burning.
Here are 7 ways to boost your metabolism, so you can burn fat fast:
  • The first thing you need to do is add breakfast to your daily meal planner. Although many people don’t like eating breakfast, it gives your body the rev up it needs to launch your metabolism. A 250-calorie snack is all it takes to boost your metabolism in the morning. 
  • Another way to increase your metabolism is to add spices to your food. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, Cinnamon is one spice that increases your metabolism twentyfold—and all you have to ingest is a mere 1/4 to 1 tsp per day!
  • While you’re planning your meals, you may want to add kiwi fruit to your diet. Kiwis pack a lot of vitamin C, but if you add 500 mg of it to your day, you burn up to 39% more fat when you’re exercising. Don’t get too much C, though, because once you get to the 2,000 mg mark, you start experiencing adverse effects like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
  • Another metabolism boosting measure is to watch what you drink. Adding ice to a drink makes your body work harder because it has to heat it up in your stomach, which increases your metabolism. Also, ingesting a caffeine drink like coffee or tea can raise your heart rate and increase your metabolism. 
  • Where you’re eating can be just as important as what you’re eating. When you’re having breakfast in the morning, try positioning yourself near a window so that you can soak up some sun. The bright light boosts your metabolism and also helps you increase bone and muscle strength.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough chromium in your diet to help your body burn more calories. Chromium, which is found in tomatoes and in a supplement form, also boosts the way you burn fat. According to MedlinePlus, meat, eggs, green pepper, apples, banana and spinach are also good sources of chromium. When you supplement 120 mcg of chromium daily, your body benefits by revving up its metabolism. 
  • If you really want to kick-start your metabolism, you may also try dividing your meals up into smaller portionsthat you eat more often throughout the day. Every time you eat, it helps your metabolism rise, so as strange as it may sound, eating frequently can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

There's nothing like beets to boost your workout — huh?

A single serving of beets can boost your energy and lower your blood pressure. Eating beets long-term can help you fight cancer, reduce arthritic pain, and lose weight, as well as assisting in a number of other health areas.
Many people don’t like beets or consider it only a special occasion dish, but we think this powerfood should be on your plate every day.
8 Healthy Reasons to Eat Beets:
1.  Weight Loss
Beets taste sweet, but a cup of cooked beet contains only 60 calories and is full of fiber. This is a perfect food for weight management.
The sugars in beets are smart carbs, since they come in a natural whole food form.  Unlike white sugar, the beet calories come with a lot of nutrients and phytochemicals.
2.  Brain and Energy Boost
Beets are high in natural nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is known to expand the walls of blood vessels so you can enjoy more oxygen, more nutrients, and more energy.
Studies have shown nitric oxide to increase the efficiency of the mitochondria (your energy powerhouses). The results of these studies were impressive.
  • A single small serving (70 ml) of beetroot juice reduced resting blood pressure by 2%.
  • A single small serving increased the length of time professional divers could hold their breath by 11%.
  • Cyclists who drank a single larger serving (500 ml) of beetroot juice were able to ride up to 20% longer.
3.  Nature’s Viagra
One of the first known uses of beets was by the ancient Romans, who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. Many plants have been considered an aphrodisiac by some culture at some time, but in this case it may be more than just wishful thinking.
As noted above, beets can increase blood flow due to their nitrates. Increased blood flow to the genital areas is one of the mechanisms Viagra and other pharmaceuticals create their effects.  Beets also contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. 
4.  Super Antioxidant for a Long, Healthy, Pain-Free Life
Antioxidants help to reverse the daily accumulated wear and tear on the body, known as aging. Beets are a very good source of commonly known antioxidants like vitamin C and manganese, but it is their lesser-known antioxidants which give them their true value.
The blood-red color of beets comes from a powerful group of antioxidants called betalains. There are hundreds of studies on the positive health benefits of betalains.  A short summary of the results shows that they help in the areas of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation. If you go to Google Scholar and type in ‘betalains,’ you will see 3790 scholarly references on this subject.
5.  Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
The inflammatory response is a natural function of the body which saves our lives when it responds to the acute stresses in our lives, like bacterial infection and injury. Due to the constant stress in our modern lives, however, this inflammation becomes chronic. It is as though our body is constantly in a battle. Inflammation has been linked to a number of symptoms and diseases including:
  • Wrinkles
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Candidiasis
The blood-red betalains in beets have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. 

6.  Cancer Prevention
Preliminary tests suggest that beetroot ingestion can be one of the useful means to prevent lung and skin cancer. Other studies have shown that beet juice inhibits the formation of cancer-causing compounds called nitrosamines.
7.  Cell Detoxification and Cleansing
The antioxidants in beets have been shown to support what is called phase 2 cleansing.  In phase 2 cleansing, unwanted toxic substances are chemically combined with a small nutrient group. This combination neutralizes the toxin and makes them sufficiently water-soluble so they can be excreted through the urine.
This is therefore deep cleansing on a cellular level, that may have long term health benefits.
8.  Improved Mental Health
The betalains in beets has been used in certain treatments of depression. It also contains tryptophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to chocolate. Enjoy! 

6 Surprising Ways That Beer is Good for Your Health

Thanks to its association with the Mediterranean diet, wine has gotten the green light as a healthy beverage for years. Beer, on the other hand, usually makes people think of keg stands and frat parties — hardly the picture of health. It’s time to change beer’s bad reputation because it boasts health benefits just like wine. As long as you’re not overdoing it, your favorite brew can help you score these six benefits.

1. Healthier heart 

Many studies have looked at the link between alcohol consumption and heart disease over the last few decades, and the results have been relatively favorable for those who like to enjoy a few drinks. One study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found men who consumed at least three or four alcoholic beverages a week, including wine, beer, and liquor, had a lower risk of heart attack than men who drank alcohol less than once per week.
Though most research has investigated alcohol as a whole, some have taken a more specific look at beer. One example appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study prescribed one beer per day for a month to men with coronary heart disease. At the end of the month, those who downed the daily brew experienced a decrease in a type of protein called fibrinogen, which equates to a lower risk of heart disease.

2. Brain boost 

In addition to giving beer a bitter taste that every IPA drinker adores, hops also contribute a potent flavanoid called xanthohumol. In a 2015 study, researchers found this compound can exert a protective power over brain cells in a way that may ward off neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The research is still in the early stages, so time will tell just how effective the flavanoid really is.
Brain benefits don’t end there, either. While enjoying a few brews isn’t likely to turn you into the next Einstein, doing so may boost your creativity. One group of researchers discovered men with a blood alcohol content of .075 were able to solve problems in a type of creative word association test more quickly than their sober peers.

3. Nutritional value 

When it comes to antioxidants, it turns out beer may actually be better than wine. NPR reported beer contains many of the same antioxidants found in wine and dark chocolate, and some of them may actually be more readily absorbed by our bodies. What’s more, beer boasts more protein, selenium, and B vitamins than wine.
But what about the dreaded beer belly? There’s really no truth to it. Time explained the calories from beer don’t zero in on your gut. Your midsection will accumulate fat from consuming too many calories in any form. Maybe it should be called a beer, bacon, and brownie belly from now on. While any alcoholic beverage contains a fair number of calories, drinking beer in moderation can be completely healthy.

4. Stronger bones 

As we get older, bone density naturally decreases. This explains why elderly folks are more prone to fractures after falling. Health professionals typically urge aging people to consume adequate amounts of calcium and engage in weight-bearing exercises to combat this loss. They also might want to consider advising patients to enjoy a beer or two because a 2009 study from Tufts University found men who drank one to two beers per day showed greater bone mineral density than those who refrained from alcohol.
Researchers think beer’s bone-protecting power may be due to its silicon content. This mineral has been shown to boost bone health, particularly when it comes from a liquid source rather than a solid food.

5. Digestive health 

Though it might sound a little bit backwards, having a high level of acid in your stomach is a good thing. According to SFGate, too little acid in your gut makes it difficult for your body to break down food andabsorb vital nutrients. Once again, beer can help you out. One 2012 study showed consuming beer, particularly bitter ones, helped to stimulate gastric acid secretion.

6. Aids exercise recovery 

While you might think you need to down a few glasses of water post-exercise before hitting the bar with your friends, research indicates it isn’t necessary. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the effects of rehydrating with beer versus water after exercising during hot conditions. The results found those who tanked up with beer were no worse off than those who consumed water. It turns out those free beer tickets road races offer actually make some sense.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Historic Dollhouses Capture 300 Years of British Domestic Life

The National Building Museum in Washington DC has a new exhibit. On loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London, this new exhibit called “Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse” is a collection of 12 historical dollhouses that offers a unique glimpse into British residential architecture and home decor for the past 300 years.

“The homes show developments in architecture and design, encompassing country mansions, the Georgian town house, suburban villas, newly-built council estates, and high-rise apartments. Many of the houses, their furniture and dolls have been specially conserved for the exhibition, with around 1,900 objects being restored over two years in the V&A Museum’s conservation department,” says the Museum’s website.










Parque de Bombas: The Old Ponce Fire Station

One of Ponce’s most recognizable landmarks is Parque de Bombas, the city’s old firehouse building and now a firefighting museum. This brightly colored red and black candy striped building, located at the Plaza Las Delicias town square, directly behind the Ponce Cathedral, was Puerto Rico's first ever fire station.

The building was built in 1882, originally as the main exhibit pavilion dedicated to agricultural and industrial exhibits for the 1882 Exhibition Trade Fair. It was designed by a Spanish army officer, who also happened to be a professional architect. Made mostly out of wood, Parque de Bombas draws influence from Moorish and Gothic Victorian architecture, and consist of a large and open central space flanked by two lateral towers, two stories in height. The open space was used as garage facilities for the fire trucks, and the two towers as living quarters and exhibition areas. An elegant central two-sided stairway with elaborated cast iron railing leads to a mezzanine area used as administrative offices.











9 Foods You Should Never Eat Just Before Going to Bed

Healthy sleep is trending and, as odd as it may sound, finding ways to sleep more efficiently is one of the latest crazes in the world of health and fitness. There are unusual beverages that can help you fall asleep and there are even a bunch of snacks you can eat before bed in order to help you build muscle. And, while everyone knows that caffeine before bed doesn’t equate to a great night’s rest, it’s possible that you are not aware of the many foods that aren’t great to have before bed.

In addition to our 21 Sleep Hacks to Rest Your Way to a Better Body and Better Health, we urge you to avoid the following caffeine-containing, sugary, high-carb snacks before bed.

Boxed Cereal
Even some of the healthier options from our list of 9 Healthiest Breakfast Cereals to Enjoy and 6 Unhealthy Options to Avoid at All Costs are on the bedtime-snacking naughty list. Why? Even the healthy boxed cereals contain carbs, and, while they may not be as unhealthy as these 10 Breakfast Cereals That Have as Much Sugar as Candy, any carbohydrate should be approached with caution before bed time. Carbs, especially sugars, can inspire a blood sugar spike while your body is winding down at night, often resulting in undesirable weight gain.

Burgers
Red meat — a carnivore’s best friend and the bane of every vegan’s existence. While the nation is torn between loving and hating red meat (decide for yourself after reading 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Eat Red Meat — and 8 Reasons Why You Should), one piece of advice we should all take seriously is that eating a burger before bed isn’t a recipe for peaceful sleep. In fact, burgers tend to have a high fat content and, when compared to the other macronutrients, fat is denser calorically (we’re talking nine calories per gram of fat versus four calories per gram of protein and/or carbohydrates). Fat can trigger heartburn, so if you want to

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate can be incredibly beneficial for one’s health; this isn’t breaking news. What you may not have known, however, is that cocoa naturally contains caffeine (about 12 milligrams of caffeine per ounce of chocolate). You (probably) aren’t downing a hot cup of coffee before bed, and we suggest avoiding dark chocolate as well. As wonderful as a slice of chocolate cake before bed may sound, you may want to save your amazing chocolate cake recipe for earlier in the day.

Ice Cream
Remember how sugary cereals were a nighttime no-no? Well, as tempting as a cup or cone from one of the world’s 30 best ice cream parlors may sound on your late evening walk home from the boardwalk or park, you better make sure you have ample time to digest its high sugar content before sleeping; your sleep can be disturbed as your body attempts to process large amounts of sugar consumed directly before bed. Also, many popular ice cream brands contain dark chocolate. Pop quiz: Are you supposed to eat dark chocolate before bed? Answer: No!

Jalapeño Peppers (and Other Spicy Foods)
Drowning your food in hot sauce isn’t unhealthy, but you better make sure you’re saving the Cholula for breakfast and lunch. Hot sauce, spicy cuisine like Indian dishes, and fiery peppers like jalapeño (and especially these 11 Spiciest Chile Peppers on Earth) amp up your metabolism, often resulting in a higher body temperature that can, in turn, lead to a restless night. Additionally, gastrointestinal distress (actually, we’re adults here — we can call 2 a.m. fits of gas 2 a.m. fits of gas) caused by spicy foods can keep even the most sincere Scoville enthusiast up all night.

Pasta (and Other Carbs)
Pastas, breads, and other foods made with all-purpose flour can put you at risk of getting cancer. All-purpose flour, also known as white flour, can also kill your sex drive. Do you really need another reason to avoid this commonly used baking ingredient? We’ll give you one: The blood sugar spike caused by eating high-GI foods like pastas and breads made with all-purpose flour before bed can result in restless sleep and undesirable fat accumulation.

Pizza
We’ve all been there: It’s three in the morning, you just left the bar, and you’re ready to down roughly eight-out-of-eight slices of a pie. If you absolutely need to order food late at night, please avoid the pizza in favor of one of these 15 healthy meals you can have delivered. Ignoring the fact that many late night pizza orders are booze-inspired (alcohol being another thing to avoid before bed), pizza itself is packed with carbs, sodium, and fat, making your digestive system switch from “comfortably cruising to slumber land” to “holy hell, we’ve put too much coal into the fire!”

Pretzels
For many, “Netflix and chill” really means “scrolling through Instagram while Netflix is on and splitting a bag of pretzels with the dog.” As tempting as a bag of pretzels (even the world’s best pretzels) may be while watching mind-numbing television after a long day, pretzels can also cause an undesirable GI spike before bed and, further, you’re more likely to lose track of just how many of these hard, salty treats you’ve eaten.

Pretzels
For many, “Netflix and chill” really means “scrolling through Instagram while Netflix is on and splitting a bag of pretzels with the dog.” As tempting as a bag of pretzels (even the world’s best pretzels) may be while watching mind-numbing television after a long day, pretzels can also cause an undesirable GI spike before bed and, further, you’re more likely to lose track of just how many of these hard, salty treats you’ve eaten.


5 ways you can stop feeling older and more tired than you do now

Have you ever thought about your age? Not the one on your driver’s license, but the effective age of your body when factors like diet and stress levels are taken into account. A healthy lifestyle can help keep you young, just as gorging on junk food, skipping exercise and indulging in bad habits like smoking can cause premature aging. But even if you’re not in the best shape, don’t panic: it’s not too late to try and turn back the clock with these simple steps. 
Take charge
Before jumping on the treadmill, it’s important to know what condition you’re in. With an app like CustomFit by Fitness First, it will be easy to assess your fitness level and then develop a suitable workout and lifestyle regimen. The app asks four questions about your experience level, the type of workout you want, the equipment you wish to use and how long you want to exercise. Using this information, it then creates a customised plan; and once you start working towards your goal, the BioScore health and fitness assessment keeps track of your progress.
Have a stress-busting solution
Leading a healthy lifestyle requires taking care of your mind as well as your body. How you handle stress seriously impacts your wellbeing, so when times get tough make sure you find coping mechanisms like taking long walks or having lunch with friends. Having a pet can also reduce stress and keep you active, while yoga and other forms of exercise can also calm the mind and body.
Dream a little dream
Don’t underestimate the value of rest when it comes to health; most people need seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night. Studies have connected a lack of sleep with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Getting proper rest has numerous benefits, including a decreased risk of accidents and injury, a clearer mind and an easier time maintaining a reasonable weight.
You are what you eat
Eating right is extremely important, but the world is filled with confusing and contradictory dietary advice. Fortunately, some basic tips can help almost anyone. Consume a good variety of foods, including five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Try to avoid processed fare like frozen pizza, and choose wholegrain bread and rice instead. Limit your consumption of sugary drinks; even diet soda has been linked to weight gain, so when you’re thirsty have a glass of water.
Get CustomFit
Staying active requires dedication, but CustomFit, a digital training system designed by experts, makes it much easier. The app creates bespoke workout plans based on your unique needs, but you can also create your own from a library of over 800 exercises. Check out the group classes and timetables at your local club and sync the workouts you’ve planned with your calendar so you don’t accidentally miss a day. If you’re not sure how to do a move, watch the videos for guidance. A personalised dashboard monitors your progress, letting you see how far you’ve come.
And always remember: where there’s a will there’s a way!

The Problem with ‘Superfoods’

The idea of superfoods intoxicates us. We listen with ears cocked when marketers and health gurus tell us to eat goji, acai and spirulina. And who can blame us? We want that silver bullet that makes us feel great and live longer.
But too strong an emphasis on exotic superfoods takes the focus away from everyday fruits and vegetables, and that’s a problem.
In the United States, only about 9 percent of Americans eat the daily recommended amount of vegetables, and only about 13 percent eat the recommended amount of fruits. Since most of us struggle to eat enough fresh plant foods, we should prioritize daily consumption first, and worry about “superfood”-status later.
The easiest way to increase daily consumption is to focus on ordinary produce you can find and afford easily. Often, these “ordinary” fruits and vegetables stand up to “superfoods” in terms of nutritional benefits, anyway. Take a look at this list of produce items that deliver stellar nutrition and help you meet your daily quota without having to stress about superfoods:
1. Onions
Onions supply vitamin C, fiber and quercetin (a flavonoid that quells inflammation.)
2. Oranges 
Oranges provide folate and potassium, which protect heart health, and carotenoids, which maintain healthy eyes.
3. Celery
Celery boasts plenty of vitamin K and phenolic acid antioxidants for healthy blood vessels and good digestive health.
4. Broccoli
Broccoli contains immune-boosting phytonutrients, including sulforaphanes, which can fight cancer.
5. Strawberries
Strawberries’ polyphenols reduce spikes in blood glucose, and the berries contain plenty of vitamin C and manganese, a trace mineral that supports bone and skin health.
6. Spinach
Spinach supplies ample vitamins K, A and C. The darker the leaf, the greater the concentration of vitamin C.
7. Romaine Lettuce
Include romaine lettuce in your salad for plenty of folate, potassium and fiber.
8. Carrots
Beta-carotene in carrots reduces cell damage and helps maintain healthy eyes during aging.
9. Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain large amounts of lycopene, which can inhibit breast cancer growth. A tomato-rich diet can also reduce LDL cholesterol and the risk of stroke.
10. Green Beans
Green beans provide fiber, vitamin K, manganese, and plant-based iron.
If you already love a food with a super status, (chia pudding, anyone?) keep eating it! Otherwise, remember that consistent daily consumption of whole plant foods is more important than occasional consumption of superfoods. In other words, an apple a day will likely improve your health more than a mangosteen a week.