Have an Orgasm per Day to Prevent Prostate Cancer

A study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that sexual activity shows little impact on cutting prostate cancer risk unless it is in quantities of 21 orgasms a month or more.  By achieving 21 orgasms or more per month, the rate of prostate cancer can be lowered by as much as 30%.

Suggestions for Prostate Cancer Prevention

  1. An Orgasm a Day: While this may be an impossible goal for some, the purpose to try and get to 21 times per month.  It does not matter how the orgasm is achieved, so long as it occurs.
  2. Drink Coffee: The mechanisms of coffee’s aid in prostate cancer prevention are as of yet unknown, however there is a link between drinking regular or decaf coffee and lower incidents of the cancer.
  3. Exercise: Regualr exercise not only prevents prostate cancer, but also skyrockets survival rates amongst those already diagnosed.
  4. Cut out Carbs:  LDL cholesterol levels, associated with carbohydrate intake, are correlated to prostate cancer development.
  5. Eat Cooked Tomatoes:  Cooking tomatoes activates lycopene, which gives tomatoes their color.  Eat two servings per week.
  6. Eat Fish: Omega-3 Fatty Acids are one of the best preventatives of prostate cancer and are abundant in animals that eat plankton, such as fish.

Eat Fewer Calories than “Recommended”

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

For years, health organizations have asserted that 2,000 calories are needed per day in order to maintain health.  However, new studies are showing that cutting that caloric intake by 25%-40% is not only possible, but beneficial to more than just weight loss.  Eating fewer calories helps to slow down the aging process.

Benefits of Eating Less

  1. Increased Cellular Recycling: When fewer nutrients are available to the body, our cells adapt to the scarcity by reusing nutrients and recycling unnecessary cells.  Essentially, old redundant cells are given over to the formation of newer cells, which seems to increase over all cellular health, staving off cancer and signs of aging.
  2. Reversal of Diabetes: While the mechanisms are not yet fully understood, lab tests show that restricting calories not only prevents the onset of diabetes, but can also reverse early stages of the disease.
  3. Prevents Dementia: Calorie restriction causes an increase in the bodies ability to regulate its cells, which in turn allows the brain to better regulate itself, staving off dementia.
  4. Extended Life Span: By conditioning our bodies to use nutrients and recycle cells more efficiently, it is possible to reduce over all mortality risk.  Fewer calories helps to reduce the amount of unnecessary and harmful nutrients than increase body fat and blood pressure, leading to an over all healthier and longer life.

Warnings and Side Effects

It is important to note that cutting down on calories must be done carefully.  Not eating enough food can lead to negative side effects that must be carefully watched.  If you experience any of the noticeable side effects listed below, adjust your calorie intake accordingly.

  1. Memory Loss
  2. Decreased Bone Density
  3. Dizziness
  4. Depression 

Resources

Cook Using Health Friendly Oils

The oils used to cook food have a large impact on the nutritional value of the finished product.  Studies show that using oils that are low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats greatly reduce the risk of heart problems.

Oils to Consider

  1. Olive Oil: It is common knowledge by now that olive oil is an extremely healthy alternative to coin oil and butter.  Olive oil is extremely high in unsaturated fats, and has an extremely pleasant taste.  However, olive oil cannot be used in all situations due to its relatively low smoke point, or the point at which the oil begins to burn and risk fire.  Unless using expensive, high end extra virgin olive oil, it is better to use alternative oils for any cooking over 325° Fahrenheit.
  2. Canola Oil: While this oil is considered labeled as a vegetable oil, the term is very broad, and canola oil does not behave the same as its cousins such as corn oil.  Canola oil contains high levels of unsaturated fats, and is only about 6% saturated fat.  Combined with a more realistic smoke point, Canola Oil is recommended by the FDA as a preventative measure against heart disease.  If you intend to sear meat or cook using a wok, Canola Oil is perfect.
  3. Sunflower Oil: This lesser known yet extremely healthy oil is actually healthier for you than Canola Oil and has a smoke point closer to the high end extra virgin olive oils.  Rich in monounsaturated fats, sunflower oil has an extremely pleasant taste for cooking.
  4. Peanut Oil: If you intend on deep-frying, and don’t have an allergy, peanut oil is perhaps the best choice.  Its extremely high smoke point and delicious taste make it the oil of choice, however it does contain a higher level of saturated fats.  That being said, its unsaturated fat content is also very high and you shouldn’t be deep frying food every day if you want to maintain a healthy heart.
  5. High Oleic Oils: With all the oils on this list, as well as almost anything listed on this site, there are varieties  of lower and higher quality which impact the healthful benefits of the foodstuff.  Oils of any variety that are labeled as “high oleic” are richer in unsaturated fats and healthier for the heart.  This essentially means that the oils are not hydrogenated for shelf life and weight.  (Hydrogenation is the process of flushing the food with hydrogen atoms that bond with the oils, thereby adding saturated fat to the product.)  The process of hydrogenating oils is falling out of practice due to an increase in health concerns, however it is important enough to always check that the oil you are buying is high oleic.

Resources

 

Avoid Sitting

A new study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine has brought to light just how negative a sedentary lifestyle is to your health.  Sitting or lying down for long periods of time, regardless of the exercise done in between, has been shown to greatly increase late-life disability and increase mortality.

Suggestions for Avoiding Sedentary Health Problems

  1. Keep Track: Try and time how much in one day you find yourself sitting.  By simply keeping track of your habits, it is possible to adjust and intersperse mild exercise into your lifestyle.  If you find that you sit for 8 hours a day at work, then consider spending the rest of your time on your feet, even if it leisurely activity.  The study found that 12 hours a day sitting greatly increases mortality, so try to keep it well under than number.
  2. Intersperse Time on Your Feet: During long stretches of the day where you are forced to sit, try and stand for a few minutes every half our or so.  It is also helpful to replace a 3 minute walk with a quick cardio exercise, such as Burpees.
  3. Stand at the Computer:  If you have a standing-height counter, consider doing your internet browsing and computer work from there, instead of at a computer desk.  Simply standing without any movement is extremely beneficial to health when compared to sitting for the same period.

Resources

Assume a Squatting Position to Poop

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Photo Credit: SquattyPotty.com

According to research conducted by multiple organizations, the Western method of bowel evacuation does not fully clear the colon of fecal matter, leading to multiple possible health complications.  Instead, researchers suggest “squatting” while pooping by raising the feet with a platform, thereby putting the torso and legs at a 35° angle to one another.  (See Above Image)

Benefits of Squatting

  1. Easier Defecation:  Squatting while pooping is the natural way in which humans are supposed to poop.  As such, the bowels are designed to line up in such a way that makes pooping faster and easier when squatting.
  2. Prevents Colon Cancer: Western pooping positions leave waste behind in the colon that, when stagnant, can damage cells and lead to colon cancer and other complications.
  3. Prevents Backflow: Protects the small intestine from feces returning from the colon.
  4. Promotes Healthy Urination and Sexual Performance: Proper pooping protects the pelvis floor from unnecessary strain and damage, thereby helping with proper urinary and sexual function.

Resources

Eat a Few Squares of Dark Chocolate per Day

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The American Heart Association recommends regular intake of cocoa as a means of improving cardiovascular health.  A recent survey study conducted by the AHA has found that due to a handful of healthful effects, daily chocolate consumption has positive benefits in reducing over all mortality.

What to Eat

  1. Dark Chocolate: The American Heart Association found that when consumed with milk or as milk chocolate, the potential benefits of cocoa are greatly reduced.  Stick with chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa, and as little sugar as possible.  (American Heart Association)
  2. Try to Eat Cacao: Traditional methods of processing raw cocoa seem to greatly reduce the presence of anti oxidants and flavonoids.  Raw cocoa, known as cacao, is not roasted prior to use. It is a more expensive, yet far healthier way to consume chocolate.  Make sure to read the ingredient labels, as even some chocolates labeled as having cacao do not actually contain any un-roasted chocolate.  
  3. Moderation: As with most things, it is not recommended to over-consume chocolate.  Even 85% cocoa dark chocolates contain refined sugars, and in large quantities, the sugar can negate the health benefits of chocolate.  Keep it to one or two squares of dark chocolate a day.  (AHA)

Chocolate and Health

  1. Polyphenols: The AHA believes that polyphenols are the main reason that chocolate is so good for you.  According to the AHA, the benefits of polyphenols could be due to “activation of nitric oxide (NO) and antioxidant, antiinflammatory [sic], and antiplatelet [sic] effects, which in turn might improve endothelial function, lipid levels, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and eventually clinical outcome.” (AHA)
  2. Improved Platelet Function: Ingesting cocoa has immediate effect of platelet levels within the blood.  It reduces both platelet aggregation and adhesion, thereby reducing the risk of major coronary obstruction.  Again, these results were NOT found in milk chocolate consumption. (AHA)
  3. LDL Cholesterol Reduction: Daily consumption of dark chocolate both reduces LDL cholesterol and raised HDL cholesterol levels.  (AHA)

Resources

Drink Red Grape Juice or Wine to Help Your Body Burn Fat

Two studies conducted by Oregon State University’s Agricultural program have identified that key chemicals in red grape’s can improve the body’s liver function.  While they stress that it is not a miracle fat burner, it is clear that consumption of red grape juice and wine can aid the burning of fat when paired with diet and exercise.

Grape Juice Findings

  1. Protects Liver Against Fat:  While the study did not show that wine or grape juice burn body fat, they did conclude that the liquid protects the liver from the negative impacts of fat, lowers blood sugar in those with high fat diets, and aids the liver in breaking down fat.  This means that for those already attempting to burn fat, moderate consumption could be beneficial in improving the health of a fatty body beyond just removing the fat.
  2. Aids Tissue Metabolization:  Ohio State Researchers found that a particular amino, ellagic acid, helped to stimulate key proteins within tissue cells that aid in burning fat and sugar.

Resources

 

 

Adults Sleep 7-9 Hours per Night

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Photo Credit: sleepfoundation.org

A survey conducted by the National SleepFoundation of 314 peer reviewed studies found that for adults age 18-64,  7-9 hours of sleep per night is recommended to avoid compromising “health and well being.”

The National Sleep Foundation’s Findings

  1. Too Much as Bad as Too Little:  Sleeping more or fewer hours than recommended is linked to increased mortality rate and can cause serious health problems.
  2. Age Dependent: 7-9 is recommended for adults, but for those under 18 or 0ver 64, the numbers are different:
    • Newborn 0-3 Months: 14-17 hours
    • Infant 4-11 Months: 12-15 hours
    • Toddler 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
    • Preschool 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
    • School 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
    • Teen 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
    • Young Adult 18-25 years: 7-9 hours*
    • Adult 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
    • Older Adult 64+ years: 7-8 hours
  3. There is a Safe Range: There is a margin of error of plus or minus 1-2 hours per night (depending on age range), meaning that it is safe to sleep a little more or less than recommended without risking serious health problems.  *The distinction between Young Adult and Adult above is made due to a difference in the margin of error.  Young Adults can probably have an hour more sleep.

Differing View

Resources

Eat Frozen Fruits and Vegetables to Maximize Nutritional Value

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Photo Credit: nutribulletblog.com

If you are planning on storing produce for a period longer than 3 days, purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables will ensure maximum nutrient retention.  Studies published by the University of Chester and Food Chemistry found that significant drops in the nutrient content of fresh produce drops after 3 days of refrigeration.

Suggestions for Nutrient Preservation

  1. Buy Fresh-Eat Fresh: If you are planning on preparing and consuming your produce on the day of purchase, then buying fresh is the way to go.
  2. Three Day Rule: Stored at the average temperature of 39º F, produce loses Vitamin C and Antioxidant qualities after only 3 days of storage.
  3. Buy Frozen to Store: If you plan of buying ahead or storing your produce for longer than the 3 day period, then frozen produce will grant significantly greater nutritional benefits.  Frozen fruits and vegetables not only retain nutrients for longer, but are found to contain similar nutrient levels to freshly picked produce.

Resources

  • The study conducted by Chester University.
  • The study published in the journal Food Chemistry.

Studies

  • Antioxidants in Fresh and Frozen Fruit and Vegetables: Impact Study of Varying
    Storage Conditions.

    • Laboratory Chemical Analysis: Blueberries, rasperries, peas, green beans, cauliflower, and baby sweetcorn were tested in a laboratory setting using published methods.
    • Five Nutrients Examined: Vitamin C, polyphenols, anthocyanins, and two Carotenoids: β-carotene and lutein, were compared within the produce at various stages of storage.
    • Possible Funding Bias: Study was partially funded by the British Frozen Food Federation.

Do 30 Second “Burpee” Reps 4 Times Daily

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research has concluded that 30 second repetitions of the exercise known as “burpees” has as much athletic benefit as intense sprint cycling regiments.  Further data from The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has linked the ability to rise from the floor, the main component of burpees, to over-all indication of mortality.

Why Burpees?

  1. Full Body Workout: Burpees are like doing a pushup, a squat, and a crunch all at once.  They work your core, arms, legs, and chest, as well as greatly improving cardiovascular health.
  2. Athleticism vs Fitness: Burpees improve balance and coordination, key factors in athletic health that traditional fitness leaves out.  The importance of maintaining athleticism over fitness is key to longevity.
  3. More Accessible: While equivalent in benefits to cycling, burpees do not require an already athletic body to accomplish.  Cycling and running are more difficult than burpees for the average individual to perform.
  4. Prevents Mortality: As stated, a recent study has linked a persons ability to rise from the floor with over all mortality.  Broken down, this simply means that burpees can be a good indication of over all health.

How to Do a Burpee

  1. Stand with your Hands by your Side
  2. Squat and Plant Both Hands on the Ground on Either Side of your Feet
  3. Kick your Legs into the Plank Position (The Down Position of a Push Up)
  4. Make Sure that your Hips and Chest Touch the Ground
  5. Throw your Legs Back Toward your Chest, Landing in the Squat Position
  6. Immediately Jump into Standing Position with your Arms up in the Air 
  7. Repeat until 30 Seconds have Elapsed

 Resources

The original study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Breaking Muscle’s report.

Take a Walk During Lunch Hour to Counteract Afternoon Slumps

Merely taking a leisurely stroll during lunch can greatly improve mood, enthusiasm, and aerobic function, according to a new study originally published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Positive Benefits of a 30-Minute Walk

  1. Stress Relief: Walking was shown to improve subjects ability to cope with stress at work.  While the study did not specifically test productivity benefits, other studies have shown a link between work related stress and a lack of productivity.
  2. Immediate Mood Boost: While exercise has been correlated to long term depression management, this study is the first to link an immediate alteration of mood to physical activity.
  3. Increased Positivity: Along with boosting general mood, the participants also experienced greater levels of positivity in relation to their lives and their work, again showing that walking might be of benefit to productivity (unverified).

Resources

Study

  • Observational Clinical Study: Participants were asked to walk 3 times a week and report via smart phone application on their mood everyday, regardless of walking.
  • Multiple Test Groups: One group was asked to walk for a 10-week period while the other group refrained.  After ten weeks elapsed, the group that did not walk at first began a 10-week period of walking while the first group was allowed to cease walking if they wanted to.
  • Small Sample Size: The entire test was made up of 57 individuals with similar health, however most were middle-aged women.  Researchers claim to have found trouble getting men to participate in walking programs due to a male perception that walking is not a viable exercise.

Drink 7 Alcoholic Beverages a Week to Prevent Heart Disease

Defining one drink as 14g of alcohol, researchers publishing in the European Heart Journal have concluded that drinking 7 alcoholic drinks per week decreases the risk for heart failure.  The study points out the cardiovascular dangers of overconsumption of alcohol, but found moderate drinking to be beneficial in early to middle aged individuals.

Suggestions for a Healthy Heart

  1. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Restrained intake of alcohol has been correlated with positive heart healthy for years.  However, alcohol is a known cardiac toxin, and the line between overconsumption and healthy intake is thin.  It is also important to note that no laboratory studies have been performed directly linking the substance of alcohol with heart health, meaning that it is possible that the calming side effects of alcohol prevent stress and therefore promote heart health.  This indicates that alternative stress reliefs might have similar impact.
  2. Exercise: Cardiovascular workouts, such as Burpees, performed for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week can dramatically increase heart function and general health.  (USDA)
  3. Avoid CarbohydratesSugars and other carbs are responsible for high LDL cholesterol levels, and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Resources

Prevent Severe Spinal Trauma by Avoiding “Text Neck.”

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A growing issue in 58% of Americans is spine related trauma resulting from improper use of smartphones.  By following simple safety guidelines, it is possible to prevent cell-phone related trauma that could potentially lead to surgery.  A study published by the National Library of medicine gives tips on avoiding such injuries.

Dr. Kenneth Hansraj Suggestions

  1. Do Not Bend your Neck:Text neck is caused by the over extension of the neck leaning forward.  This can cause upwards of 8-pounds of pressure being pressed upon the spine every time you look at your phone.
  2. Look with your Eyes:   To avoid bending of the neck, hold your neck in its normal position and adjust the angle of your eyes instead.  
  3. Exercise your Neck: Move your head from left to right as often as possible. Brace your head using your hands and push forward and back several times.  This will strengthen your neck muscles and hopefully counteract the negative outcomes of any previous text related neck injury.
  4. Chest Extensions: Brace in a doorway and extend your chest in order to strengthen the torso sections of your spine that promote over-all good posture.

Resources

Avoid Boiling Vegetables to Retain Nutrients

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Photo Source: Wikipedia

A study published by Family and Consumer Sciences has concluded that, of the major methods of cooking vegetables, boiling is the only one that greatly reduced the nutritional content of vegetables.  Boiling is a violent process that destroys weaker vitamins and minerals.

Which Cooking Methods to Use

  1. Pressure Cooking: Pressure cooking is considered to be the most energy efficient and nutritionally sound method of cooking.  The immense pressure that builds up inside the pressure cooker raises the boiling temperature of the water to such a degree that it is impossible for boiling to occur.  Therefore, foods are cooked through a combination of intense heat and pressure, ensuring shorter cooking times and a less violent process.
  2. Steaming:  A popular method of vegetable preparation, the steaming of vegetables works similarly to a pressure cooker, but over a longer period of time with less specialized equipment.
  3. Stir Frying: Because the food is always in motion, stir frying keeps the food from coming into direct contact with the surface for long periods of time.  This prevents charring, and therefore promotes nutrient retention.
  4. Microwaving: Microwaving food as a primary means of cooking is controversial, with many insisting that irradiating food is not good.  However, microwave steaming is among the most nutritionally sound methods of food preparation, and while the results may not be as tasty, it is still an easy, quick, and energy efficient way to cook vegetables.

Resources

Don’t Take Vitamin Supplements; Eat Healthily Instead

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Photo Source: Wikipedia

Studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and The Lancet overwhelmingly conclude that use of vitamin supplements by healthy adults has no impact on overall mortality.  Even relatively unhealthy diets contain the minimum vitamin content necessary to the human body and the overconsumption of Vitamins can lead to serious, even fatal conditions.

Web MD’s Vitamins to Watch

  1. Folic Acid: Folic Acid is one of the easiest nutrients to overdose due to it being supplemented in foods to prevent birth defects.  However, too much folic acid can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rash, sleep disorders, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, gas, and excitability.  Excitability can even mask symptoms of a B-12 deficiency, which can cause its own problems if left unchecked.
  2. Vitamin D: One of the most common supplements, Vitamin D was specifically tested in a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and found to have no impact on over all mortality.  Overconsumption of Vitamin D can lead to long term cardiovascular problems and heart disease.
  3. Calcium:  Excessive Calcium intake can lead to several serious health issues such as heart attacks.  Overconsumption can also cause hyperthyroidism, decreased kidney function, and reduction of stomach acid.   When not in balance with phosphate levels, calcium can cause both hyperphosphatemia and hypophosphotemia, or an excess or deficiency of phosphate, respectively.

Resources

  • The study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  • The study published by The Lancet.
  • WebMD’s report and recommendations on vitamin overconsumption.

Eat “Powerhouse Vegetables” to Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control conducted laboratory tests on the nutritional density of 47 commonly eaten fruits and vegetables, concluding that 41 meet the criteria to be considered Power House Vegetables (PHV).

Fruit and Vegetable Ranking

  1. Cruciferous Greens:  Greens in the cruciferous family of plants such as kale, watercress, Chinese cabbage, collard green, arugula possess the highest density of all vegetables in the average diet.
  2. Green Leafy Vegetables: Non-cruciferous greens, such as chard, beet green, spinach, chicory, and leaf lettuce rank slightly below cruciferous greens.  These two groups occupy the top 50% of nutrient density
  3. Yellow/Orange Vegetables:  Vegetables such as carrot, tomato, winter squash, and sweet potato occupy the top of the lower 50% of nutrient density.
  4. Allium: Scallions and leaks.
  5. Citrus: Lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit.
  6. Berries: Strawberries and blackberries.

These groups fruits and vegetables all meet the minimum nutrient density to qualify as “Powerhouse Vegetables.”  Regular consumption of these foods has been positively correlated with the prevention of Chronic diseases, as well as possessing anti-cancer qualities. Raspberry, tangerine, cranberry, garlic, onion, and blueberries are the only vegetables that do not meet the minimum nutrient density of the study.

Top 10 Vegetables

  1. Watercress
  2. Chinese Cabbage
  3. Chard
  4. Beach Greens
  5. Spinach
  6. Chicory
  7. Leaf Lettuce
  8. Parsley
  9. Romaine Lettuce
  10. Collard Greens

Addendums

  • It is important to note that nutrient density does not directly correlate to nutritional value.  For instance, Kale, while not in the top ten for nutrient density, is rich in Vitamin K, a rare vitamin that aids in blood coagulation and healing.  The allium group, while in the bottom 50% for nutrient density, have been positively correlated with cancer prevention (CDC).  This list is not definitive and eating a variety of foods is the best course of action.

Resources

Study

  • Large Scale Laboratory Tests: 47 Fruits and Vegetables were compared, scored on a scale of 1 to 100 for overall nutrient Density

Eat Probiotics to Increase Immune Response and Overall Health

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Photo Credit: The Huffington Post

Several recent studies into the effects of microorganism consumption have shown that the intake of live probiotic substances can have a positive effect on a myriad of systems within the body.  Improved immune system response, digestion, and prevention of chronic diseases can be greatly improved by eating fermented foods.

Probiotic Benefits

  1. Immune System Response: Key immune system signal responses have been found to be regulated by healthy gut bacteria.
  2. Digestive Aid: Probiotics have long been known to aid in digestive health, not only breaking down food more efficiently, but possibly helping the body break down complex polysaccharides that the body otherwise cannot process.
  3. Treatment of Diarrhea: Symptomatic of infectious diseases and antibiotic treatments, probiotics help to improve or halt diarrhea, especially helpful in children and the elderly amongst whom the condition can be fatal.
  4. Prevention of Common Infectious Disease: Through a combination of immune response, enhanced barrier protection, and the production of anti-pathogenic substances, gut bacteria are shown to reduce risk of pathogenic disease.
  5. Prevention of Colorectal Cancer: Causality remains to be proven, but evidence points in the direction that lower intestinal cancers can be staved off by a healthy micro-biome.  Individual cell health as well as mitigation of carcinogens can be achieved through probiotic consumption.
  6. Prevention of Allergies: An increased risk of children born with allergies has been linked to aberrant gut bacteria.  Probiotics can also halt the progression from allergic reactions to asthma in infants.
  7. Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: While studies are still in infancy, there has been a recent correlation between the prevent low gut flora and IBS.  It is of particular note that IBS is almost exclusive to industrialized nations where fewer fermented foods are eaten and more antibiotics are used.
  8. Treatment of Necrotising enterocolitis: An intestinal disorder common in infants, the 30% mortality rate is greatly reduced by the introduction of probiotics, which protect the infants guts.
  9. Obesity Prevention: Again causality has not been proven, but one major factor in obese persons is an increase in aberrant gut bacteria.  Whether aberrant gut bacteria is the result of poor diet or if obesity is in part caused by an unhealthy micro-biome is yet to be concluded.

Suggestions for Increasing Probiotic Intake

  1. Eat Fermented Foods: Fermentation is the process in which microorganisms form a culture based on the nutrients in common foods.  The result is a living food product that enhances the flavor and nutrients of the original substance.  Common fermented foods are:
    • Yogurt: Yogurt is the result of yeast metabolization in milk.  It is important to eat sugar free yogurt, as refined sugars in the processed varieties benefit aberrant gut bacteria, negating the effects of the yeast.
    • Sauerkraut:  Many commercially available Sauerkrauts use vinegar to compensate for lack of fermentation, but real sauerkraut is nothing more than cabbage, salt, and water that is allowed to culture.
    • Tempeh: Tempeh is fermented soy, far superior in nutritional content than its over processed cousin tofu.  A recent popularity of tempeh means that it can be found at most supermarkets and health-food kitchens.
    • Kefir: Perhaps one of the most probiotic rich foods on the planet, kefir is a dairy product similar to yogurt.  Unlike yogurt, kefir contains a massive quantity of different yeasts and bacteria that form a symbiotic relationship with one another.  Kefir is completely lactose free, as the bacteria convert it all into lactic acid, making this drink safe for lactose-intolerant individuals.  The word kefir translate to “feel good,” an ancient yet anecdotal support of the idea that gut bacteria can impact mood.
    • Kombucha: A fermented tea, this drink can be found on store shelves very commonly since its boom in popularity.
  2. Take Probiotic Supplements: While more expensive than fermented foods, probiotic supplements contain a wide variety of bacteria.  Unlike vitamin supplements, probiotic pills produce real results.

Resources

  • An encompassing study published by the British Medical Journal.
  • A diarrhea focused study published by Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.
  • A study on probiotics and metabolism published by BMC Bioinformatics.
  • A study on probiotics and intestinal mucosa published by Nature.
  • An overview of fermented foods from Eating Well.

Choose Proper Sunscreen to Ensure Skin Health

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

The Environmental Working Group has reported that certain ingredients in popular sunscreens have a detrimental effect to over all skin health.  In order to protect your skin from harmful UV rays while avoiding negative chemicals, follow the EWG’s simple guidelines for choosing sunscreens.

Things to Avoid

  1. Spray-on Sunscreens: Aerosolized sunscreens increase risk of inhalation.
  2. High-SPF’s:  Sun Protection Factor (SPF) protects only against burn-inducing UVB rays.  High SPF sunscreens do not protect any better against sun damage over long periods of time than their low SPF counterparts yet lull consumers into believing they can remain longer in the sun.  There is no consensus that SPF is an accurate indicator of sunscreen protection
  3. Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone has a similar effect to BPA on the body, seeping into the blood stream and blocking hormone receptors.
  4. Retinyl Palmitate: A form of Vitamin A commonly used in night creams, this chemical reacts negatively to sun exposure, increasing tumor risk.
  5. Bug Repellents:  Dosage of sunscreen and insect repellent vary, causing too much repellent to be administered.  Furthermore, increased skin absorption of the repellent is possible when mixed with sunscreen.
  6. Towelletes and Powders: There is no evidence that these methods even work.  Inhalation of powders is possible.
  7. Tanning Oils: By magnifying the sun’s rays, tanning oils greatly increase the risk for skin cancer.

Recommended Sunscreens

  • Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick, Unscented, SPF 30: This sunscreen presents a low risk to skin health while also providing ample protection from UVA rays.
  • Kiss My Face Hot Spots Sunscreen, SPF 30: Slightly less healthy for skin, this sunscreen is still within limits of safety.

Resources

  • The Environmental Working Group’s 2014 report on sunscreen.
  • SPF study published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.

Take a 20 Second Break from your Screen Every 20 Minutes to avoid Eye Strain

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

A report on eye strain from the Mayo Clinic recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20-minutes looking at a computer screen, spend 20-seconds looking at an object or scenery that is at least 20 feet away.  This comes following a study from the American Academy of Optometry concluding that just 2-hours of uninterrupted computer use can lead to serious adverse side effects, such as “eye-related pain and tiredness, blurred vision, itchiness, gritty eyes, photophobia, dry eyes, and tearing eyes.”

Mayo Clinic’s Suggestions for Eye Strain Prevention

  1. 20-20-20 Rule:  This rule is easy to remember and easy to follow, but Mayo also recommends trying to add a 3-minute break every hour or so to stand and walk around or lean back and close your eyes for at least 30-seconds.
  2. Frequent Blinking: Dry-eyes are a major contributor to eye strain and pain.  Mindful blinking is an easy solution   Mayo also recommends over the counter artificial tears.
  3. Regulate your Working Environment: Avoid smoke, lower your thermostat, and humidify your space.
  4. Message Eye-lids and Facial Muscles Twice Daily: Gently rub your eyes, temple, brow, and upper cheek for about 10 seconds each.  This not only relaxes your eye muscles, but also induces tear production, further aiding in dryness prevention.
  5. Find a Good Typeface: This suggestion is from the Huffington Post and recommends finding a font lacking in serif tails with good spacing in between letters, such as Veranda or Arial.
  6. Purchase Proper Eye-Wear: If you wear corrective glasses or contact lenses, ask your optometrist about screen specific versions of your preferred eye-wear.  If you do not need correction, then you can purchase non-corrective protective glasses that block out the more harmful wavelengths emitted by computer screens.

Resources

 

Eat Low Carbs, Full Fat

glass-of-milk

Photo Credit: blogspot

A study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine has concluded that, contrary to popular opinion, low fat diets are actually detrimental to weight loss and cardiovascular health.  The study, being the first long term-analysis of carbohydrate and fat intake, found that a low carbohydrate-high fat diet produces greater weight management and superior cardiovascular health.  In high fat diets, fat mass and triglyceride levels went down, while HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) levels went up when compared to low-fat or no fat diets.

What to Eat

  1. Full-Fat Foods: The study shows that fat, even saturated fat, when combined with a low-carbohydrate diet, actually helps with weight loss.
  2. Eat More Protein: While red meat has been shown to increase LDL Cholesterol levels, proteins such as chicken, fish, beans, and eggs result in lower LDL levels.  The participants were not restricted on red meat intake and in regulated amounts there was no significant negative impact from red meat consumption.
  3. Vegetables: All participants in the study, regardless of their diet, were encouraged to eat vegetables to compliment their diets.  For years, studies have confirmed that a high vegetable diet is healthful and the results of this study in no way contradicted other findings, however proteins and fats are still necessary aspects of a healthy diet.

What to Avoid

  1. Carbohydrates: Processed carbohydrates, such as granola, cereals, and rice, are correlated with higher LDL cholesterol levels and an increase in body fat.  Regardless of calorie intake, participants in the study who adopted a high-carb diet had trouble managing weight and showed a decrease in over-all cardiovascular health.
  2. Low-Fat and Zero-Fat Foods: While the exact mechanisms have not yet been identified, new studies are confirming that foods altered to contain less fat are detrimental to weight loss and cardiovascular health.  Full-fat dairy products, in particular, are much healthier than their low-fat counterparts.

Resources

Study

  • Good Sample Size: 148 men and women, split into groups of 60 and 59, adopted a low-fat high-carb diet or a low-carb full fat diet respectively.  The participants had no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
  • 12 Month Clinical Study:  Researches gathered data on weight, cardiovascular risk factors and dietary composition at 0, 3, 6, and 12 months.