Sunday, 23 July 2017

Medical miracle! US doctors successfully reverse brain damage in unresponsive drowned toddler

In what can only be termed a medical miracle, the doctors successfully reversed the damage that the drowning had caused in her brain.

 In a tragic accident, a two-year-old toddler experienced cardiac arrest after drowning in a swimming pool.
She was rushed to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in the US, but she wasn't responding to any stimuli, even after being resuscitated.
An MRI scan revealed deep brain injury as well as grey and white matter loss. She had no speech, gait or responsiveness to commands, and was constantly squirming and shaking her head.
However, in what can only be termed a medical miracle, the doctors successfully reversed the damage that the drowning had caused in her brain.

Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy was not available in the patient’s location, doctors at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in the US began a bridging treatment to prevent permanent tissue degeneration until they could get the patient to a hyperbaric treatment center.
Fifty-five days post-drowning, they began short duration treatment with 100 percent normobaric oxygen for 45 minutes twice a day through a nasal cannula. The girl became more alert, awake and stopped squirming, doctors said.
Her rate of neurological improvement increased amd she started laughing, increased movement of arms, hands, and taking some food orally. She also showed pre-drowning speech level, but with diminished vocabulary.
The patient and family then traveled to New Orleans 78 days after drowning, where doctors began treating her with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). She “dove” in a hyperbaric chamber for 45 minutes a day, five days a week for 40 sessions.
“At the beginning of each session, the patient showed visually apparent and/or physical examination-documented neurological improvement,” doctors said.
“After 10 HBOT sessions, the patient’s mother reported that her daughter was “near normal” except for gross motor function, and physical therapy was re-instituted,” they said.
After 39 HBOT sessions, the patient exhibited assisted gait, speech level greater than pre-drowning, near normal motor function, normal cognition, improvement on nearly all neurological exam abnormalities, discontinuance of all medications, as well as residual emotional, gait and temperament deficits.
Gait improvement was documented immediately upon returning home. An MRI at 27 days following HBOT session 40 and 162 days post-drowning demonstrated mild residual injury and near-complete reversal of grey and white matter loss.
The synergy of increased oxygen and increased oxygen with pressure in the hormone-rich environment in a child’s growing brain is consistent with the synergy of growth hormones and hyperbaric oxygen caused by normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen-induced activation of genes that reduce inflammation and promote cell survival.
“The startling regrowth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration,” said Paul Harch, Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health.
“Such low-risk medical treatment may have a profound effect on recovery of function in similar patients who are neurologically devastated by drowning,” said Harch.
The case was reported in the journal Medical Gas Research.

What It's Really Like To Be A Parent (21 pics)

Parenthood isn't always fun and games. These are the serious issues you have to deal with on a daily basis.  

Saturday, 22 July 2017

5 Hidden Health Benefits of Alcohol

The pillars of good health: diet, exercise, and strawberry daiquiris. OK, maybe not. But it’s not as far off as you’d think.

“One of the most consistent findings in recent nutrition research is that moderate alcohol consumption can improve health and lead to a longer life,” says Eric Rimm, Sc.D., associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

But before you down an entire bottle of celebratory bubbly, bear in mind that moderation is the key to booze’s benefits. That means one drink a day on average for women and two drinks a day for men (beyond that, you up your risk of a whole host of diseases). Stay within that saucy sweet spot, and the side effects of alcohol benefit your body in some surprising ways. Here are five good reasons to raise a glass.

Protect Your Ticker

Red wine has long been considered the elixir of heart health. But you don’t have to crack a bottle of Merlot to drink to your heart’s content, Rimm says. Moderate intake of any boozy beverages can cut your risk of heart disease by up to 40 percent, according to a review of more than 100 prospective studies from the Harvard School of Public Health.

HOW IT WORKS: Much of alcohol’s benefit to heart health has to do with its ability to raise good (HDL) cholesterol, lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, and reduce blood problems that can lead to clogged arteries (and the heart attacks they cause).

DRINK THIS: Pinot Noir. It contains more disease-fighting antioxidants than any other alcoholic beverage. Just be sure to put a cork in it after one glass if you’re a woman, two if you’re a man.

Beat Belly Bulge

Forget the ill-fated beer belly—when regularly consumed in moderation, alcohol can actually help fight fat. A 2010 study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who had one or two drinks a day were less likely to gain weight than those who shunned the sauce.

HOW IT WORKS: Researchers believe that the bodies of long-term moderate drinkers somehow adapt to metabolize alcohol differently than those who concentrate their cocktails into the occasional big night out. Plus, women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol tend to eat less food, particularly carbohydrates, according to Lu Wang, lead researcher on the study and an instructor at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

DRINK THIS: A bottle of light beer. The women in the Archives study were served no more than two 4-ounce glasses of wine or two 1.5-ounce shots of liquor a day, which is a lot less than you’ll get from most bartenders or waitresses. Sipping from a bottle makes it easy to keep portions under control. Sam Adams Light, Michelob Ultra, and Guinness Draught all keep calories in check without sacrificing flavor.

Reduce Risk of Diabetes

A drink a day keeps diabetes away? Surprisingly, it can help. A 2005 report published in Diabetes Care found that moderate amounts of alcohol—up to a drink a day for women, up to two drinks a day for men—reduces risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 30 percent.

HOW IT WORKS: Alcohol increases levels of a hormone that improves insulin sensitivity. In other words, it makes it easier for your body to process glucose and use it as energy. This helps reduce the amount of sugar in the bloodstream and ultimately reduces risk for developing diabetes.

DRINK THIS: Bloody Mary. You’ll be completely satisfied by just one serving and the antioxidant lycopene in tomato juice offers a heart-healthy bonus.

Boost Brainpower

Your brain’s probably familiar with the downsides of drinking (Karaoke was such a great idea… until a video of your performance showed up on Facebook), but if you sip smart, a little tipple can help prevent cognitive decline. Researchers from Loyola University found that moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia compared to non-drinkers.

HOW IT WORKS: Researchers hypothesize that since moderate drinking raises good cholesterol, it can improve blood flow to the brain. Alcohol could also “toughen” brain cells by stressing them a little, preparing them to cope with major stresses later in life that could cause dementia.

DRINK THIS: Wine. It was found to be more beneficial than beer or hard liquor for boosting brainpower, according to the Loyola researchers.

Say Goodbye to Gallstones

Gallstones—hard, pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladder and are generally made up of hardened cholesterol—might cause pain or cramping in the pit of your stomach. Avoid that unfortunate feeling by adding a little alcohol to your daily diet. Research shows that regular moderate alcohol consumption (5-7 days per week) reduces risk of gallstones. In contrast, infrequent alcohol intake (1-2 days per week) showed no significant association with risk.

HOW IT WORKS: Remember how alcohol increases good cholesterol in your bloodstream? Well, it affects cholesterol in the gallbladder too. Plus, being overweight is one of the main risk factors for developing gallstones, so moderate drinking can reduce your risk by helping you maintain a healthy weight.

DRINK THIS: Eppa Sangria. It’s the first certified organic sangria and delivers twice as many antioxidants as a glass of red wine. Plus, one glass only sets you back 120 calories.

6 Foods That Help Alleviate Sugar Cravings When You’re Quitting Sugar

Most of us have witnessed the addictive properties of sugar: one innocent piece of cake at a birthday party, and next thing you know, you’re hoarding Swedish Fish in your desk drawer with red-stained fingers. Unfortunately, all the sugar we’re eating is really not healthy.
Since sugar is so addictive, many people have a hard time nixing it from their diets. Plus, it’s everywhere, especially in processed foods.
So what can you do? For one, feed your body a balanced diet and provide it with healthy options to alleviate your body’s cravings. Here are 6 foods to make you forget all about sugar:


The coconut is inherently sweet, and once you quit sugar you may be surprised at how the subtle sweetness becomes more pronounced. But more importantly, coconuts are fatty in the best way. Eating plenty of healthy fats and proteins can help keep the body nourished so that you don’t succumb to intense cravings due to feelings of deprivation. 
Ease up on carbs and really focus on fats and proteins. Focusing on foods that won’t have much of an effect on your blood sugar is important if you want to avoid the unpleasant spikes of the sugar ‘hangries.’


Cinnamon is not only inherently sweet, but it also helps to balance blood sugar levels. And this is not a theoretical overstatement. Studies abound that recommend cinnamon supplements for those with diabetes and insulin resistance. It is very powerful. Whether you are using natural sweeteners or no sweeteners at all, sprinkle a little cinnamon to promote tastiness and health.


Don’t worry, there’s always room for more chocolate. If you’re quitting sugar, super dark chocolate (80 percent or higher) can help satiate those nagging sweet teeth. Taza Chocolate makes a delicious, 95 percent cacao stone ground organic bar called “Wicked Dark” that is 95 percent, which is just enough to get the small hit of sweetness with your cacao fix.
They also make great single origin bars that are around 87 percent dark chocolate. Or, you can be a badass and just opt for raw cacao nibs.


Berries are naturally a low sugar fruit, but you wouldn’t know it. Utilize berries as a healthy treat. If you want to feel especially decadent, top your fresh bowl of berries with a dollop of unsweetened, whipped coconut cream. How delightful!


Roasting or grilling root vegetables can bring out their natural sweetness, so they can be hugely helpful in alleviating sugar cravings. But, veggies are also loaded with fiber, which promotes blood sugar balance.
Snacking on some roasted sweet potato (maybe sprinkled with cinnamon and a little coconut cream for extra blood sugar balance), for instance, is a smart choice for quelling a sudden cupcake craving.


These little tubers are surprisingly sweet. They are also loaded with plenty of insoluble fiber, which makes them an excellent prebiotic for the digestive system. Tigernuts are the key to quieting down my incessant chocolate chip cookie dough cravings. I mix tigernut flour with just a spoonful or so of coconut oil (enough to massage into a type of dough). Then, I chop up and toss in some dark chocolate. Maybe a pinch of salt, too. Mix well and snack away — no sugar needed!
One word of caution, tigernuts have a lot of fiber, so be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you go overboard on the cookie dough.
There is more to life than sugar. While the first week of quitting sugar can be tough, stock your pantry with an arsenal of delicious, healthy foods to keep you on track. And don’t be too hard on yourself. If you have a little sugar, oh well. You’ll do better tomorrow! You are only human. Eventually, with the right mindset and preparation, you’ll be sugar-free and feeling great!

5 Healthy Foods That Keep You Fuller Longer

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know the awful feelings of deprivation and hunger that come over you as you cut back on the amount of foods you eat each day. Feeling this way for too many days in a row can almost guarantee that you will give up on your efforts, and stop dieting altogether. Even worse, it may cause you to fall into emotional binge eating and end up gaining more weight. So, the key to any successful weight loss effort is to cut calories by consuming foods that curb hunger and keep you satisfied. And if those foods are highly nutritious and delicious, you can almost guarantee a successful outcome.
Protein and fiber are the best types of nutrients to help you feel full and keep you eliminating regularly. Elimination is key, as constipation leads to excess of toxins, which your body wraps in fat molecules, making it a lot harder to lose the weight.
Most of us assume that the best protein comes from animal sources, like chicken, fish and some lean meats. However, this type of protein is also accompanied by fat (all animal protein contains saturated fat) and cholesterol, which have both been directly linked to an increase in heart disease, cancer and some auto-immune disorders. Lucky for us, there are plenty of food choices that are high in protein, high in fiber and packed with nutrients, making them perfect foods when it comes to losing weight without feeling hungry.
1. Chia Seeds

These ancient seeds are a godsend for those people trying to eat nutritious foods that suppress their appetite. The seeds expand and become like a gel as they get in contact with water in your stomach, making you feel full for hours. They are a source of complete protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. You can add them to almost everything, from smoothies and cereals to salads and other grain dishes, because they have little taste of their own.
2. Vegetable Soups

Water is one of the best appetite suppressors there is. Have a glass of water when you’re hungry, and the hunger will go away for awhile. Soups can help you control or suppress your appetite even longer and provide a wonderful opportunity to add nutritious ingredients like whole grains and vegetables to your daily routine. Studies have shown that people who consume two portions of low-calorie soup every day lose up to 50 percent more weight than those who consume the same calories through other means.
3. Whole Grain Oats

Whole grain oats are very high in fiber and very low on the glycemic index, which means that they take longer to digest, helping you feel fuller, longer. It is important to note here that the oats must be consumed in their whole grain form (not the sugary, instant formula available in supermarket isles), and without all the added stuff that could turn it into a sugary snack instead of a healthy meal (milk, sugar, etc.). Dress it up with cinnamon, walnuts or pine nuts, which can help curb your appetite even further.
4. Quinoa

Another ancient American grain, Quinoa was a staple in the diet of the native peoples of Central and South America. Quinoa is considered a complete protein (i.e. includes all essential amino-acids), it’s a great source of fiber, calcium and other nutrients, and it is very easy to digest.
5. Apples

This fruit is relatively low in sugar, and it will make you feel full for a long time. Apples are great at suppressing your appetite, because they contain a lot of a bulky type of fiber. This fiber has the ability to expand in your stomach, making you feel full and turning off your appetite longer than other fruits, and far longer than other processed snacks!

Boost your Immune System with Nutrition

Eat more red peppers

Did you know that one red pepper contains as much vitamin C as two navel oranges? When you get sick, everyone says to stock up on Vitamin C for a good reason – it has been shown to prevent the proliferation of bacterial growth, as well as increase the efficacy of our white blood cells in fighting off disease by making our cells more mobile and faster acting.

Get some sunshine

We’ve all heard the recent reviews about the importance of vitamin D in many aspects of our health, but what happens if you live in a climate where you don’t have year-round access to sunshine? Try increasing your intake of seafood such as herring or shrimp, or try opting for a whole-egg omelette (not just the whites), because vitamin D is found in the yolk.
Vitamin D boost our immunity by acting as a regulatory agent in the expression of T-Cells; this means that vitamin D works as a traffic light, telling the T-cells when to attack invaders and when to stay dormant.

Go coconuts (with coconut oil)

Coconut oil is a great substitute for olive oil when you’re cooking because olive oil will start to degrade and oxidize above medium heat, whereas coconut oil can withstand much higher temperatures due to its properties as a medium chain triglyceride. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid that’s used by the body to create antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal agents that ward off the foreign invaders in your body. Lauric acid is also currently being researched to treat acne vulgaris, so try using coconut oil as a moisturizer, too.

Back up your bacteria

Increasing your intake of healthy bacteria will allow your body to properly identify and attack the bad bacteria. Probiotics such as L. Casei found in yogurt, kefir, miso and tempeh actually re-inoculate your intestinal tract so pathogens cannot enter your bloodstream. This will help stop illness before it starts.
But remember, those healthy bacteria also need to feed on something – so make sure you’re getting enough soluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber is often referred to as “prebiotic” because it has the ability to be fermented and partially digested by the good bacteria in your gut, leading to improved elimination and immunity.

Pump some iron

It’s more common for women than men to suffer from an iron deficiency, and it can be especially dangerous in children and pregnant mothers. Even a sub-clinical iron deficiency has been shown to result in a decrease in size and activity in the thymus gland and the lymph nodes. The thymus gland is a master immune regulator and distributor of those T-cells that help destroy pathogens.
In addition to the nutritional additions you can make to your diet, it’s also possible to boost your immunity through lifestyle changes. Reducing your stress levels and increasing your physical activities are both great places to start.

In the 1970s, studies began to emerge as to why widowed spouses were getting sick more often after their spouse had passed away. These studies indicated that the long term stress levels of losing a loved one actually inhibited their immune system, allowing them to get sick more often. This is because the adrenal glands constantly release cortisol and epinephrine, which inhibit the development of white blood cells. So consider activities that make you happy and decrease stress levels to ward off unwanted pathogens.

To that end, physical activity is an amazing stress reliever. Participating in physical activity that lasts at least 20-30 minutes starts to encourage the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) and increases circulation to the brain as well as lymphatic circulation. That helps to rid the body of stagnant debris, as well as allowing oxygen to circulate more freely in your blood and tissues, which in turn helps to boost your immunity. So stay healthy, get active and decrease your stress levels to boost your immunity and help you enjoy every part of the season.

5 Health Benefits of Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a large subtropical citrus fruit generally recognized for its slightly bitter and sour taste. It was first produced in Barbados as a hybrid fruit that resulted from a cross between pomelo and sweet orange. Grapefruit was named after the grape, because grapefruits grow in clusters like grapes.
Many grapefruit varieties are being cultivated in different countries such as the United States and China. The well-known varieties include those with red, pink and white pulp. Like all other citrus fruits, grapefruit is loaded with vitamin C, although this is not the only benefit that you can get from grapefruit. Here are five other health benefits of grapefruit.

1. Grapefruit Helps in Losing Weight

Grapefruit is high in enzymes that burn fats, has high water content and has less sodium. A combination of these three characteristics make grapefruit a perfect food for increasing your body’s metabolism. Try eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice every day and you will notice how quickly you lose those extra pounds.

2. Prevents Arthritis and Works as an Antiseptic

Grapefruit contains salicylic acid that helps break down the body’s inorganic calcium, which builds up in the cartilage of joints and may lead to arthritis. If you have arthritis, try drinking grapefruit juice with apple cider vinegar. You will notice a reduction in your arthritis symptoms.
The salicylic acid in grapefruit also works as a powerful antiseptic. In addition, grapefruit seed extracts can be added to water to make an antiseptic spray for treating bacterial and fungal infections.

3. Grapefruit Helps in Cancer Prevention

Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that is responsible for the red color of grapefruit. It is a powerful agent against tumors and cancers as it acts as a scavenger of cancer-causing free radicals. Lycopene works best with vitamins A and C, which are also found in grapefruit.
An antioxidant compound, called naringenin, is also found in grapefruit. Naringenin helps repair damaged DNA in prostate cancer cells. DNA repair contributes to cancer prevention as it impedes the reproduction of cancer cells.

4. Grapefruit Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels

The antioxidants found in grapefruit are effective in reducing cholesterol levels. However, if you are on prescription drugs, do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice. Grapefruit has a negative reaction against many prescription drugs such as those used in treating depression, allergies, high blood pressure, seizures, impotence, heart palpitations and even HIV. Inform your physician if you want to use grapefruit as a regular form of treatment.

5. Grapefruit Treats Common Ailments

Eating grapefruit or drinking its juice helps treat common cold and fever, dissolve gallstones, boost liver function and enhance immunity against infections. As grapefruit contains a dietary fiber called pectin, it thus promotes better digestion. In addition, if you want to have a healthy and smooth skin, try including grapefruit in your diet.
You can get many other benefits from grapefruit because it also contains essential elements such as iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folic acid and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin and niacin). You can even extract oil from grapefruit peel for use in aromatherapy.

Stoners Make Some Really Good Points (12 pics)

These stoner tweets actually have some hilarious insights into life. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Is It Healthy to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

At the same times every day, my grandpa Joe sat down and ate the same three meals and three snacks. He also walked 3 miles daily, in rain or shine, until the day he passed. He lived until 93. Is my grandpa Joe's longevity attributable, at least in part, to his monotonous diet? From a nutrition standpoint, there are pros and cons to following his lead. Let me explain:
The Pros
If the meals and snacks you already have in your repertoire are filled with fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, healthy fat and dairy, then you're off to a great start. Kudos for developing a habit to eat a varied diet that includes all the recommended food groups, as this in itself is no easy feat. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, about 90 percent of Americans don't get enough of the recommended daily amount of vegetables and 85 percent don't get enough of the recommended daily amount of fruit. 
Creating a repetitive but well-balanced daily meal plan is also a good way to practice meal preparation and planning. It's better to have this healthy eating plan in place, as opposed to grabbing a bag of chips or running to the nearest fast-food joint.
What's more, some science suggests a non-diverse diet is the way to go. One 2015 study, for instance, looked at diet quality and diversity in over 5,000 adults of various backgrounds. It found that a more diverse diet was associated with a greater waist circumference and a higher-quality diet was associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that a more diverse diet does not necessarily lead to a higher-quality diet or better metabolic health. A more diverse diet can also include unhealthy foods, which isn't necessarily good for you.
The Cons
On the other hand, even if your daily diet is well-balanced on paper, there's a good chance it still doesn't contain everything you need. "I definitely don't recommend repeats of the same foods and meals," says Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian and certified athletic trainer in Fairfield, Connecticut. "It's certainly all right to frequently eat your favorites, but there's no way you can meet all your nutrient needs by eating the same things day after day. Variety is essential to a healthy, balanced diet." 
Most science also backs up White's claims. Studies have found health benefits associated with eating a more varied diet. A 2015 study, for example, examined the diets of over 7,000 adults who were at least 20 years old. It concluded that greater food variety was associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome compared to those who consumed a less varied diet.
The Bottom Line
Although eating a variety of foods is important, what you choose to eat is most important. A 2002 study looked at how the variety of healthy and less-healthy foods affected mortality in close to 60,000 women. It found that women who followed a healthy diet by eating a high variety of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, cereals, fish and low-fat dairy products had significantly lower mortality than women who consumed few of these foods in their varied diet. The study further found that the risk of death from heart diseasewas particularly low in women who reported eating a high variety of healthy foods. The researchers concluded that it's probably better to increase the number of healthy foods in your regular diet than to decrease the number of unhealthy foods.
Of course, eating a variety of healthy foods can be easier said than done. In the craziness of everyday life, it's tough to find time to try new healthy recipes. But White encourages experimentation to prevent getting stuck in boring food ruts. "If you love quinoa, but always have it for dinner," she says, "try cooking it like oatmeal for breakfast or mixing some into a veggie burger for lunch." 
You can also make life easier by doing some meal preparation. If you find a simple dish you want to try, give it a whirl on Sunday when you have downtime and are not rushing to get food on the table. If it's successful, you can rotate it through your healthy meal repertoire and even make a double batch the next time. Just be sure to freeze it for later – and not rely on it for breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day. 

6 Ways to Increase Your 'Good' Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol gets a bad rap. But the truth is, you need it to live, let alone lead a long, healthy life. Without this waxy, fat-like substance, you couldn't make sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, adrenal hormones that help regulate blood pressure and metabolism, or essential nutrients such as vitamin D.
Floating through your bloodstream, two different fat- and protein-containing carriers, called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol to and from your cells. At healthy levels -- ideally less than 100 milligrams per deciliter -- low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, delivers the cholesterol you need into your tissues for cell stability and healthy function. Meanwhile, high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, scavenges the excess cholesterol and carries it to your liver, which breaks down the cholesterol and removes it from the body, says Dr. Nauman Mushtaq, medical director of cardiology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Illinois. Hence the name "good cholesterol."
However, when HDL levels are low -- typically defined as less than 40 mg/DL -- LDL can build up in the blood vessels, earning it the reputation of "bad cholesterol." This buildup can cause plaque to form in the arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke
Thankfully, research has shed new light on several lifestyle changes you can make to ensure your good cholesterol stays ahead of the bad. Here, experts share their top six methods for raising HDL levels and keeping your heart happy:
1. Be a cardio bunny. Cardiovascular exercise can help keep your weight down and HDL levels up. For instance, in one study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, by walking or running 50 to 60 minutes per day, five days per week for 12 weeks, overweight men significantly decreased their body fat, insulin resistance, blood pressure and "bad cholesterol" levels while upping their "good cholesterol." Meanwhile, an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking, cycling or continuous swimming for at least 15 minutes) consistently increases HDL levels.
Increase your HDL levels: Perform at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise daily, Mushtaq says. Examples include brisk walking or light jogging, swimming or cycling. On a scale of 1 to 10, you should feel like you're working at about 4 to 6.
2. Quit smoking. Smoking can do a number on more than your lungs, actually reducing the body's concentration of HDL cholesterol. Fortunately, it's never too late to quit: One review published in Biomarker Research concluded that HDL levels can rise by as much as 30 percent within three weeks of quitting.
Increase your HDL levels: Giving up cigarettes isn't easy, but it can be done. According to Mushtaq, quitting cold turkey is the most effective method. Research in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who quit abruptlywere more likely to be smoke-free at four weeks than those who gradually cut back (49 percent versus 39.2 percent). Try nicotine patches and gum to help tamp down cravings. 
3. Go nuts. Eating a small serving of almonds (about eight kernels) daily is enough to raise HDL levels by as much as 16 percent after 12 weeks, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition Researchers believe the nutrients in almonds help limit the amount of LDL cholesterol that the body absorbs from foods while increasing the amount expelled by the body.
Increase your HDL levels: Pair a small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit for a snack, add slivered almonds and berries to yogurt or use sliced almonds as a topping for green beans or grain salad, recommends registered dietitian nutritionist Libby Mills, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
4. Stick to moderate amounts of alcohol. Higher alcohol consumption can drastically increase your risk of heart disease (not to mention other conditions), but drinking moderate amounts of alcohol has been shown to raise HDL. A study in PLoS One suggests that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption -- defined as one drink per day for women and two for men -- may help increase the transfer of proteins involved in moving HDL through the bloodstream.
Increase your HDL levels: If you don't drink, there's no need to start. However, if you do drink, keep yourself in check by limiting yourself to one drink per day if you're female and two drinks per day if you're male. One drink equals 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
5. Limit processed foods. The average American diet is rife with processed foods, which contain high amounts of trans and saturated fats. When consumed in excess, trans and saturated fats have a negative effect on cholesterol levels, according to Mills. Trans fats in particular have been shown to lower HDL levels.
Increase your HDL levels: Check food labels for hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated ingredients, which contain trans fats, Mills says. Cut back on prepared desserts, packaged snacks, fried foods and powdered creamers.
6. Get your fiber. Fiber does more than regulate bowel movements. According to a report published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, once ingested, soluble fiber (which, unlike insoluble fiber, absorbs water during digestion) helps to block the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the average American gets only about half the daily recommended intake of 25 to 30 grams.
Increase your HDL levels: According to Mills, some of the best cholesterol-lowering sources of fiber include beans, lentils, apples, blueberries, flax seeds and oatmeal. However, adding too much fiber too quickly can cause gastric distress (think: constipation or diarrhea). Mills recommends increasing your fiber intake slowly and drinking plenty of water to help keep your gut happy.