Tuesday, August 15, 2017

9 Amazing Benefits of Almonds Nutrition

Almonds have been prized since ancient times as one of humankind’s most beloved nuts. They were popular in the diets of ancient Egyptians and Indian populations. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic practitioners even believed that almonds were capable of increasing brain capacity, intellectual ability and longevity.
Today, almonds nutrition benefits are praised around the world, and they are used in numerous different ways: eaten raw as a healthy snack; as the base ingredient in almond butter, almond milk or almond flour; and even in many body lotions and fragrances.
Cholesterol reduction is the most celebrated health benefit of almonds, but there are many other vital health benefits of almonds nutrition. Almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain filling fiber, unique and protective phytosterol antioxidants as well as plant protein.
And don’t fear the fat in almonds — almonds are actually beneficial when it comes to losing weight, despite their higher calorie content. One study even found that almonds consumed as snacks reduce hunger and desire to eat later in the day, and when dieters eat almonds daily they reduce their overall calorie intake. (1)

Almonds Nutrition: The Facts Behind the Benefits

Botanically, almonds (scientifically termed Prunus dulcis) are actually very small stone fruits in the Amygdalus family and related to other fruits that contain hard pits, including cherries, plums and peaches. Almonds are a type of drupe nut, which means along with other nuts like macadamias, pecans and walnuts, they have multiple layers that enclose a single, hard seed in the center.
Almonds are considered dry drupes so they first must be extracted (which is called “shelling”) before being sold and eaten, which is why you might see the description “shelled almonds” when you purchase ready-to-eat almonds.
In the medical world, almonds nutrition is most praised due to the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin, and trace minerals such as magnesium. (2)
Although almonds are high in calories and considered “energy-dense” (as all nuts are), they provide a whole range of critical nutrients and chemical compounds that often lack in the standard American diet (sometimes called “SAD”).
¼ cup of almonds nutrition provides about: (3)
  • 207 calories
  • 5 grams of protein
  • 5 grams fiber
  • 7 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of sugar
  • 16 milligrams vitamin E (61 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams riboflavin (44 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligrams manganese (44 percent DV)
  • 97 milligrams magnesium (36 percent DV)
  • 172 milligrams phosphorus (29 percent DV)
  • 96 milligrams calcium (9.5 percent DV)
  • 33 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
Almonds nutrition facts

9 Proven Health Benefits of Almonds

1. Help Prevent Heart Disease and Heart Attacks

Two of the star chemical compounds of almonds nutrition are healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (abbreviated as MUFAs, the same kind of beneficial fat found in olive oil) and antioxidants that support heart health and prevent factors of cardiovascular disease. Almonds specifically supply antioxidant flavonoids, plant-based compounds present in the skin of almonds that work with vitamin E to improve artery health and reduce inflammation.
Almonds nutrition also holds key nutrients to heart health, including arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium. Studies show almonds have a consistent “bad” LDL cholesterol-lowering effect, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. (4)
Almonds help prevent damage from forming within artery walls and protect against dangerous plaque buildup. Almonds nutrition benefits also make them a great food to support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, in addition to fighting weight gain and obesity — three of the biggest risk factors associated with heart attacks and stroke.

 2. Support Healthy Brain Function

Almonds are often considered one of the best brain foods. Almonds nutrition is somewhat unique in that almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, two key nutrients capable of positively affecting neurological activity and preventing cognitive decline. This is one reason why adults, especially the elderly, are encouraged to eat nuts several times per week — since they are associated with a reduction in the risk for inflammation that can cause brain disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

 3. Maintain Skin Health

Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and other antioxidants that nourish the skin and reduce signs of aging. Research finds that almonds nutrition contains high concentrations of catechin, epicatechin and flavonol antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin — compounds that fight skin cancer and damage by reversing oxidative stress from a poor diet, pollution and UV light exposure. (5) Almonds’ healthy fats, plus their ability to improve circulation, also help keep skin hydrated and better able to heal wounds.

 4. Help Control Blood Sugar Levels and Prevent Diabetes

Almonds’ rich supply of MUFAs helps slow the rate at which glucose (sugar) is released into the bloodstream. In addition to managing blood sugar and preventing insulin resistance (which can occur over time when the body becomes less reactive to insulin, the sugar-controlling hormone), almonds nutrition benefits include the ability to lower other common diabetes risks: unhealthy body weight, inflammation and high levels of oxidative stress.

5. Help With Weight Loss and Prevent Overeating

Healthy fats and dietary fiber aid in weight loss because they help you feel full, which curbs overeating and unhealthy snacking. Although nuts are high in fat and calories, they prolong the feeling of satisfaction after you eat and keep your blood sugar more stable than low-fat meals do. Thus, you’re less likely to experience a roller-coaster of energy dips and food cravings.
Studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study, even show that almonds support a healthy metabolism. Also, people who frequently eat almonds and other nuts retain healthier body weights and lower rates of obesity over time compared to those who avoid nuts. Other studies show that when dieters eat almonds daily, they are less likely to overconsume carbohydrates and more likely to reach and maintain a healthier body weight. (6)
For example, one 2003 article published in the International Journal of Obesity found that when women consumed almonds over a six-month period, compared to other women who didn’t eat almonds, they experienced greater reductions in weight/BMI, waist circumference, fat mass and systolic blood pressure.

Almonds nutrition benefits

6. Increase Nutrient Absorption

The body needs adequate amounts of fat in the diet in order to properly absorb “fat-soluble” nutrients, like vitamins A and D. Almonds are also considered one of the only nuts that help alkalize the digestive tract, reducing acid buildup and balancing the body’s pH. A healthy pH level is crucial for proper digestion, immunity and disease prevention. Additionally, the nutrients present in almonds may help regulate digestive enzymes that are involved in nutrient extraction, cholesterol synthesis and bile acid production.

7. Increase Digestive Health

In addition to healthy fats and alkaline-forming molecules, almonds (especially the skin of almonds) contain probiotic components that help with digestion, detoxification and healthy bacterial growth within the gut flora — a key to actually utilizing nutrients from food and preventing nutrient deficiencies.
Studies suggest that almonds and almond skins may lead to an improvement in the “intestinal microbiota profile,” meaning the intestine’s bacterial activities improve and promote numerous health benefits due to the presence of prebiotic properties, the precursors for probiotics.
A 2014 study by the Institute of Food Science & Technology in China found that when women ate a daily dose of 56 grams of almonds over an eight-week period, significant increases in the populations of healthy bacteria called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus were observed. (7)

 8. Can Help Fight Cancer and Inflammation

Almonds contain gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that acts as a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radical damage and oxidative stress that are linked to cancer. Many studies find a link between nut consumption and cancer prevention, including a reduced risk for colon, prostate and breast cancers. (8)

 9. Help Maintain Dental and Bone Health

Almonds are a good source of trace minerals, including magnesium and phosphorus, which is a crucial nutrient for building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. Almonds nutrition benefits include the ability to help prevent tooth decay, fight cavities, lower the risk for bone fractures and fight osteoporosis.

Almonds History and Interesting Facts

Would you believe that today the almond industry is estimated at $4.3 billion annually and over 2 billion pounds of almonds are produced worldwide each year? Unlike many other nuts and fruits, the U.S. — specifically California, which is actually the only state to produce almonds commercially — is the largest producer of almonds, producing about 80 percent of the world’s almonds.
Almonds might be growing in popularity every year as research reveals more about almonds nutrition benefits, but almond consumption actually goes back thousands of years to around 4,000 B.C. The almond tree species is native to the Middle East and South Asia. A tall tree with pink and white flowers, it grows in warm and dry climates, which is why it spread through the Mediterranean region and became a staple in the diet there.
Wild almonds are actually bitter and naturally contain toxic substances like deadly cyanide, so humans had to first find a certain type of “sweet” almond among the many different almond tree species before domesticating them. In India and Pakistan, almonds have been a mainstream part of the diet for centuries, where they’re called badam. Almonds were first spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa, Asia and southern Europe, eventually making their way to the U.S. Along the way, the word “almond” was given to the nut, which comes from the old French word almande.
Historically, almonds have meant many things to various cultures. Hebrew literature from 2,000 B.C. mentions almonds, as does early literature from Turkey, Romania and the Baltic peninsula. The Bible also makes numerous references to almonds, describing them as an object of value and a symbol of hope, for example, in Genesis 43:11.
King Tut also took several handfuls of almonds to his grave dating back to 1352 B.C., and years later almond trees were believed to grow near trade routes like the famous Silk Road that connected central China with the Mediterranean.

How to Buy and Use Almonds

Not all almonds are created equal — you definitely want to avoid almonds and any nuts coated in sugar, hydrogenated oils and tons of sodium. Many nuts undergo processing that lower the nut’s health benefits. For example, by heating nuts to very high temperatures, some of their antioxidants can be destroyed.
One downside of consuming almonds produced in the U.S. is that United States law demands that all raw almonds be pasteurized or irradiated before being sold to consumers. According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are several mandatory pasteurization treatment processes to reduce the level of potential contamination in almonds “without diminishing the product’s quality, nutritional value or sensory qualities (taste and crunch).” (9) These include: oil roasting, dry roasting and blanching, and steam processing.
Almonds contain natural fatty acids and oils that are sensitive to high heat, so when they’re highly processed it’s possible to turn these oils “rancid.” For example, when almonds are roasted, they’re usually soaked in hydrogenated or GMO oils, a fat that’s harmful and promotes heart disease.
As a rule of thumb, the less processing done to almonds the better. Preshelled and roasted almonds are likely less beneficial than raw almonds still found in their natural casing.
One step that can actually increase the nutrient content of almonds is soaking and sprouting them. Soaking and sprouting almonds removes some of their naturally occurring antinutrients that block the body from absorbing some minerals. I like to soak mine overnight for 12–24 hours in a big bowl, covering them with water and rinsing them the next morning.
Almonds come in two varieties: sweet and bitter. Sweet almonds are used in many recipes in Asia, the U.S. and the Mediterranean. One popular use in Italy is to crush almonds into marzipan, which is used as a sweet ingredient in baked goods. They’re also added to stir fries, used to make almond oil for cooking and produce almond extract that makes a good stand-in for vanilla extract.
Additionally, oils from sweet almonds are extracted to form almond essential oil, a beneficial oil with many healing body and household uses.

How About Almond Butter or Almond Flour?

Both are great options for adding more almonds nutrition into your diet. Almond butter is simply ground almonds, but look for butters that contain no added oils or sugar. Your best bet? Make almonds yourself by grinding them in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth.
When it comes to almond flour (also called almond meal), again look for simple and straightforward ingredients, usually just almonds. Use almond meal to replace bread crumbs, and combine it with other gluten-free flours or coconut flour to make baked goods.

Recipes Featuring the Almond!

Almond Butter Banana Protein Bars Recipe

Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 9
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 4 scoops vanilla whey protein powder (1 cup)
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground
  • 1 cup sprouted almond butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla Extract
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease 8×8 pan with coconut oil.
  3. Mix the oats, whey, oat flour and flaxseed. Once combined, add almond butter, applesauce, vanilla and honey.
  4. Mash the bananas into the mixture and combine.
  5. Spread batter into pan and bake about 15 minutes.
banana-nut-bars
You can also take advantage of almonds nutrition by making some of these healthy and easy recipes:
  • Almond Berry Cereal Recipe — Conventional cereal can be full of refined sugar! Instead, try this almond berry cereal recipe. It’s full of healthy fats to help support hormone health and give energy throughout your day.
  • Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Recipe — This recipe is an amazing addition to any snack. Try this fun twist on a classic and enjoy.
  • Coconut Almond Joy’s Recipe — Coconut is another one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Coconut is a medium chain fatty acid that is easily digested and converted to energy instead of being stored as fat. Thus, coconuts can aid in weight loss, help stimulate the metabolism and have amazing antimicrobial properties.

Are There Possible Side Effects of Consuming Almonds?

As with all nuts, allergies can be an issue for some people when it comes to almonds. Children are more susceptible to nut allergies and should avoid almonds if they have a known allergy.
For those not allergic almonds, there are a few other potential downsides to almonds when eaten in large amounts — mainly that they provide a high amount of calories and too much vitamin E in some cases. Eating too many nuts can trigger weight gain, cause certain medicine interactions (like vitamin E overdose) and might lead to gastrointestinal problems in some, but this is usually only a risk if you consume a very high amount. As with all sources of healthy fats, they should make up a substantial part of your diet, but portion control is important.
One final note is that raw almonds have the potential to carry bacteria, which is why the USDA requires them to be processed. In rare cases, salmonella and e-coli have been carried by raw almonds, so as of 2007, raw, untreated California almonds aren’t technically available in the U.S. — although most people experience no problems eating raw almonds.
When it comes to bitter almonds, according to the FDA, bitter almonds are considered “poisonous” since they contain certain acids that can cause problems in rare cases, so they aren’t recommended for consumption — although some alternative health practitioners disagree with this.

Don’t let the side effects scare you. Almonds nutrition is extremely beneficial for your health! And they’re so many uses for tasty treats and a healthy diet. Incorporate almonds nutrition into your diet today and see the benefits firsthand!

Read Next: The 5 Worst Artificial Sweeteners


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

Source: https://draxe.com/almonds-nutrition/

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stay Optimistic, Live Longer?

Stay Optimistic, Live Longer?



An optimistic outlook may be good for your health.
In 2004 and again in 2008, researchers used a well-validated questionnaire to rate 70,021 women on their optimism. The women were asked to indicate their degree of agreement with six statements (for example, “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.”).
Researchers also collected information on educational and socioeconomic status, smoking, alcohol consumption, cancer, hypertension and other diseases and behavioral characteristics. The women’s average age was 70 at the start of the project.
The study, in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found significant associations between increasing levels of optimism and decreasing risks of death from cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and infections.

The associations were particularly strong for cardiovascular disease. Those in the quarter with the highest optimism scores had a nearly 40 percent lower risk for heart disease and stroke than those in the lowest quarter, even after controlling for other health factors. The associations with cancer were also significant, but weaker.
“People can have low optimism for a wide array of reasons,” said the lead author, Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Twin studies show it’s about 25 percent heritable, but that means it’s 75 percent social circumstances or under our own control.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/well/mind/stay-optimistic-live-longer.html?_r=0

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

7 Home Remedies To Lower High Blood Pressure Without Drugs

High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension is one of the commonly found diseases in men and women. One out of every person in America is a patient of hypertension. And every year more and more are developing this disease.
The risk of developing high blood pressure increases as men crosses 45 years of age. Obesity, diet, stress, and family history are the main causes of developing high blood pressure.
High blood pressure should be controlled; otherwise it can result into various health problems like heart diseases, kidney diseases, etc. Doctors generally prescribe medications for controlling high blood pressure. But, along with this you can also lower high blood pressure without drugs by making some lifestyle changes.

How To Lower High Blood Pressure Without Drugs

Have a look at the best home remedies to lower high blood pressure without drugs that really show positive results:

Diet

Diet plays an important role in lowering high blood pressure. You need to include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products with low fat for lowering high blood pressure. Also consider including potassium rich foods.

Salt

Sodium levels in body increases with intake of salt. This results in increase in blood pressure levels. So, cutting down salt intake is important if you want to lower high blood pressure without drugs. Doctors recommend hypertension patients taking less than 1,500 mg of salt in a day.

Exercise

Exercising regularly is also one of the important things to consider for controlling blood pressure. You should exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes every day to lower blood pressure. You can do exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, etc for lowering high blood pressure.

Stress Management

Stress is also one the major causes for high blood pressure. Thus, you should keep stress on check, if you want to control high blood pressure. You can follow various stress management techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, etc.

Weight Management

Obesity is also one of the important causes of high blood pressure. Maintaining a proper weight is important for controlling blood pressure. Make sure to lose extra pounds, and maintaining waistline.

Quit Smoking

Smoking also results in alleviated blood pressure levels. Smoking not only results in high blood pressure, it also results into many dangerous health problems. So, make sure to quit smoking, if you want to lower blood pressure.

Alcohol Intake

Make sure to lower alcohol intake level. Alcohol intake in small quantities is actually good to lower high blood pressure without drugs. But, if alcohol is taken in more quantity is can actually alleviate blood pressure.

Caffeinated Drinks

You should also control the intake of caffeinated drinks for lowering high blood pressure. Short-term spikes in blood pressure are created even in non-hypertension patient by taking caffeinated drinks. So, it is best to limit your coffee intake per day.
Photo Credits: voedingnu.nl

Source: http://www.themenshealthblog.com/2016/08/7-home-remedies-to-lower-high-blood-pressure-without-drugs/

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Sitting Is the New Smoking: Ways a Sedentary Lifestyle Is Killing You


09/29/2014 10:32 am ET
| Updated Nov 26, 2014
The ticking clock and furious patter of computer keys are staples in offices around the world. Regardless of specific business, offices share many similarities. One such similarity is a sedentary culture and studies show all that sitting is taking a major toll on employee health.

Click Here to see the Complete List of Ways Sitting is Shortening Your Life

From the driver’s seat to the office chair and then the couch at home, Americans are spending more time seated than ever, and researchers say it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies. The Los Angeles Times recently interviewed Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. Levine has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in two sentences.
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.

Levine is credited with coining that mantra — “sitting is the new smoking” — but he’s not the only one who believes it. Researchers have found and continue to find evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Another reason the smoking analogy is relevant is that studies have repeatedly shown the effects of long-term sitting are not reversible through exercise or other good habits. Sitting, like smoking, is very clearly bad for our health and the only way to minimize the risk is to limit the time we spend on our butts each day. If you need a bit more encouragement, take a look at all of the ways sitting is killing you...and then scour Pinterest to make your own standing desk.

Click Here to see the Original Story on The Active Times
- Diana Gerstacker, The Active Times
More Content from The Active Times:
Better Sex, Healthier Teeth, Clearer Skin: 12 Surprise Benefits of Exercise
5 Things You Can Do Today That Will Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals
7 Reasons Your Weight Loss Goals Are Failing
The Surprising Way Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight
The Health Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep










A study released by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that, because you’re human, you lose 11% to 14% of your productivity-potential every day. You check the news. You chitchat with a colleague in the next cubicle. You daydream about dinner, who is going to be on Jimmy Kimmel tonight, or your upcoming weekend road-trip. We’re all human. We’re not machines. And there’s not much we do to change it.
Here’s something you can change. Research also suggests that for every health risk you possess, you lose an additional percentage of your productivity-potential (small health risks obviously impact productivity less than serious health concerns). Some studies suggest that the average person has between 10 to 12 health risks every single day. Do the math. Even if a minor risk reduced your potential by 3%, but you possess 10 small risks, you could be operating at about half of your potential.
Curious about how these seemingly small physical changes could impact performance at work, we started digging for more research. And, we found it—a ton of it, packaged neatly into one book.
“Losing four hours of sleep is comparable to drinking a six-pack of beer ,” says Tom Rath, Author of the New York Times bestselling book, Eat Move Sleep. “I don’t want to be in a serious meeting with a person who drank six beers or lost four hours of sleep. I don’t want my child’s teacher to be that person. I don’t want my doctor to be that person. Still, we don’t view the two scenarios (beer drinking and not sleeping) as equal. In fact, our culture views a person who needs sleep, as a person with a weakness. In fact, in the business world, many professionals take pride in burning the midnight oil.”

Rath, most known for his thought-leadership in the business space—the author of Strengths Finder 2.0, How Full is Your Bucket, and the more recent bestseller Strengths Based Leadership—has both personal and professional reasons for shifting his attention toward health and wellness. “I’ve battled health issues of my own,” he recently told us during a podcast interview. “But when I started doing research for personal reasons, I realized the impact small changes could make in elevating performance as well.”

In Eat Move Sleep, Rath cites a study from Harvard Medical School, which suggests ‘lack of sleep’ costs the American economy $63 billion in lost productivity.  And it’s not because employees aren’t showing up for work—we’re not talking about absenteeism.  A concept called presenteeismis apparently slaying our ability to perform. Basically, the word means being sick in some way, but showing up to work anyway. We’ve all had those days where we’re not performing at our best—too little sleep, a headache, or the common cold. We’re present; we’re just not in the game.


“Not reaching your potential is not just about having an illness,” said Rath. “It’s about not being fully healthy. Our culture has spent a lot of time talking about how not to be sick—don’t smoke, and don’t eat junk food. We also talk a lot about how healthy habits prevent disease. But most people don’t talk about how healthy habits improve you—your energy, your focus, your mood, and your performance.”
Surprising your colleagues at work with a box of glazed donuts might seem like a great idea to motivate people to work harder. But, when the sugar-rush dies, so will their energy. And, according to Rath, it’s not just the donuts, or sodas, or candy bars that have an impact. “Every ounce of food or liquid you consume has either a net positive or a net negative effect by the time it runs through your body,” said Rath. “You don’t get healthier by simply trying to eat better in general. You improve your health on a bite-by-bite basis. One of my favorite meals was hickory-glazed salmon at a local restaurant. I loved it, and assumed it was healthy until I started doing research on barbecue sauce. Basically, it’s almost all sugar—like syrup for meat. But, if you want big change, you’ve got to think about every small bite and the impact the ingredients will have either positively or negatively.”
For anyone who’s experienced the afternoon coma that follows lunch, you understand exactly what bite-by-bite means—that the food you eat today, affects your performance today.
Still, when it comes to the impact our health choices make on our abilities to accomplish great work, one specific comment made by Tom Rath shocked us—because it challenges a common workplace habit that has been baked into most workplace cultures. Rath said, “ Sitting is the most underrated health-threat of modern time. Researchers found that sitting more than six hours in a day will greatly increase your risk of an early death.”
That comment might be hard to digest if you spend your day in a chair. And, for those of you who have a ‘butts in chairs equals productivity’ mindset, Rath also mentioned that walking could increase energy levels by 150 percent. “Inactivity is dangerous,” he said, “In fact, some research shows inactivity now kills more people than smoking .”
“Any advice on where a person should start making small changes?” we asked.
“The business world is really good at tracking and accountability,” Rath replied. “At work we’re really good at setting goals and creating systems and processes to reach those goals.  Our culture, however, has never been good at tracking and accountability when it comes to health, until now. Technology (like Fitbit and Jawbone devices) now makes it effortless to track activity, and sleep. And when you’re aware of what you’re doing in real-time, it’s easy to see how small choices lead to big changes.”
Rath paused. “Beyond that…” he said, “It is about eating, moving, and sleeping well in combination.”

by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom
Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsturt/2015/01/13/is-sitting-the-new-smoking/#5b95363c239a

Being Unfit May Be Almost as Bad for You as Smoking

Being out of shape could be more harmful to health and longevity than most people expect, according to a new, long-term study of middle-aged men. The study finds that poor physical fitness may be second only to smoking as a risk factor for premature death.
It is not news that aerobic capacity can influence lifespan. Many past epidemiological studies have found that people with low physical fitness tend to be at high risk of premature death. Conversely, people with robust aerobic capacity are likely to have long lives.
But most of those studies followed people for about 10 to 20 years, which is a lengthy period of time for science but nowhere near most of our actual lifespans. Some of those studies also enrolled people who already were elderly or infirm, making it difficult to extrapolate the findings to younger, healthier people. 

So for the new study, which was published this week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and other institutions turned to an impressively large and long-term database of information about Swedish men.
The data set, prosaically named the Study of Men Born in 1913, involved exactly that. In 1963, almost 1,000 healthy 50-year-old men in Gothenburg who had been born in 1913 agreed to be studied for the rest of their lives, in order to help scientists better understand lifetime risks for disease, especially heart disease.
The men completed baseline health testing in 1963, including measures of their blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, and whether they exercised and smoked. Four years later, when the volunteers were 54, some underwent more extensive testing, including an exercise stress test designed to precisely determine their maximum aerobic capacity, or VO2 max. Using the results, the scientists developed a mathematical formula that allowed them to estimate the aerobic capacity of the rest of the participants.
Aerobic capacity is an interesting measure for scientists to study, because it is affected by both genetics and lifestyle. Some portion of our VO2 max is innate; we inherit it from our parents. But much of our endurance capacity is determined by our lifestyle. Being sedentary lowers VO2 max, as does being overweight. Exercise raises it.
Among this group of middle-aged men, aerobic capacities ranged from slight to impressively high, and generally reflected the men’s self-reported exercise habits. Men who said that they seldom worked out tended to have a low VO2 max. (Because VO2 max is more objective than self-reports about exercise, the researchers focused on it.)

To determine what impact fitness might have on lifespan, the scientists grouped the men into three categories: those with low, medium or high aerobic capacity at age 54.
Then they followed the men for almost 50 years. During that time, the surviving volunteers completed follow-up health testing about once each decade. The scientists also tracked deaths among the men, based on a national registry. 

Then they compared the risk of relatively early death to a variety of health parameters, particularly each man’s VO2 max, blood pressure, cholesterol profile and history of smoking. (They did not include body weight as a separate measure, because it was indirectly reflected by VO2 max.)
Not surprisingly, smoking had the greatest impact on lifespan. It substantially shortened lives.
But low aerobic capacity wasn’t far behind. The men in the group with the lowest VO2 max had a 21 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those with middling aerobic capacity, and about a 42 percent higher risk of early death than the men who were the most fit.
Poor fitness turned out to be unhealthier even than high blood pressure or poor cholesterol profiles, the researchers found. Highly fit men with elevated blood pressure or relatively unhealthy cholesterol profiles tended to live longer than out-of-shape men with good blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Of course, this study found links between poor fitness and shortened lifespans. It cannot prove that one caused the other, or explain how VO2 max might affect lifespan. However, the findings raise the possibility, as the scientists speculate, that by strengthening the body, better fitness may lower the risk of a variety of chronic diseases. 

This study also involved men — and Swedish men at that. So whether the findings are applicable to other people, particularly women, is uncertain.
But “there is no reason not to think” that the rest of us would also share any beneficial associations between fitness and longevity, said Per Ladenvall, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, who led the study. Past studies involving women have found such links, he said. 

Encouragingly, if you now are concerned about the state of your particular aerobic capacity, you most likely can increase it just by getting up and moving. “Even small amounts of physical activity,” Dr. Ladenvall said, “may have positive effects on fitness.”


Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/being-unfit-may-be-almost-as-bad-for-you-as-smoking/?_r=0

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

7 Steps to Have More Energy All Day

If you’re like me, you have less time to juggle more tasks these days. Those overwhelming responsibilities and demands can drain every ounce of energy before morning even ends. But there are things you can do to have more energy all day…without short-term stimulants like coffee and energy drinks.

get more energy

The Problem with Short-Term Stimulants

I see so many people reach for a quick stimulant to keep them going all afternoon to complete their ever-growing to-do list. Food manufacturers capitalize on that fatigue with hyper-caffeinated energy drinks and amped-up coffee.
Believe me, I get it: some days you feel like you’re running on empty and desperately seek a boost to pull you through that afternoon meeting and then fight rush-hour traffic.
A tall late-morning java gives you a jolt, but coffee also raises your cortisol levels, stressing your already-overworked adrenals. Inevitably you crash, though your next fix conveniently lies around the corner at your favorite coffee place or in the break room where your receptionist left freshly baked cookies.
Related Article: Want a Natural Pick-Me-Up? Try Functional Herbs
You don’t have to feel this way and you needn’t succumb to short-term solutions that contribute to long-term energy crashes. I use these seven strategies to maintain steady, sustained energy all day:

How You Can  Have More Energy From Morning Through Night

1. Get 7 – 9 Hours of High-quality Sleep Every Night
Nothing zaps your energy like a restless night. You wake up feeling lousy and start the day’s caffeine cycle. Even one night’s poor sleep can adversely affect your hunger hormones and set the stage for cravings, lethargy, and a miserable day at the office.
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night. You need to prepare for sleep. About an hour before bedtime, turn off electronics (your email will still be there in the morning), take a hot bath with some chamomile tea, practice deep breathing or meditation, and relax.
Related Article: 4 Ways to Sleep Better
2. Check Your Thyroid Levels
Fatigue could signify something deeper like thyroid problems. Ask your doctor to run a thyroid panel and include free T3 to make sure you convert well to the active form. Signs of low thyroid include low body temperature, dry skin, weak nails, poor hair growth, high cholesterol, constipation, slightly yellow palms, and missing the outer third of your eyebrows. Aim for a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level between 1 and 2.
3. Eat by the Plate
Start your morning with a low-fat muffin or cereal and you’re due for a mid-morning energy crash. Instead, make breakfast a protein shake for blood sugar-balancing protein, good fats, and fiber to keep you full and focused for hours.
I load mine with plant-based (but not soy) protein powder, berries, kale, flax or chia seeds, blended with unsweetened coconut or almond milk. To maintain that steady energy all day, load your plate with lean protein, good fats like avocado and olive oil, leafy greens, and slow-release high-fiber carbs.
Related Article: 12 Ways to Eat Right on a Budget
4. Zap the Energy Thieves
No, not your in-laws! (Though toxic relationships can certainly drain your energy.) I’m talking about coffee, alcohol, and other stimulants or relaxing substances that help you in the moment but leave you listless later. I enjoy a cup of organic dark roast or pinot noir as much as anyone else, but over-relying on these for energy and relaxation can create long-term problems.
5. Burst to Boost Energy
Kind of ironic that exerting energy creates more energy, but that post-exercise endorphin boost can make you feel exuberant. Who has hours for the gym? That’s why I love burst training, which can help you blast fat and boost energy in just minutes a day.
You don’t need any special equipment: a park hill or mall stairs provide the perfect place for bursting.
Related Article: Why Burst Training is Your Best Fat Burning Workout
6. Get your Vitamin D
Sunshine helps regulate your circadian rhythm and improve energy levels. Studies show[1] among its many problems, vitamin D deficiency contributes to fatigue. Ask your doctor to test your D levels and aim for 60 – 80 ng/ ml. Once you’ve hit that mark, I recommend 5,000 IUs of vitamin D as a maintenance dose. And get out: even 10 minutes of sunshine on unprotected skin can boost your D levels.
7. Try this Energy Cocktail
Supplements aren’t magic potions, but they can provide nutrients that replenish energy at the cellular level. If you’re eating correctly, exercising, and getting optimal sleep, but still can’t sustain steady energy levels, my favorite nutrient cocktail includes a B Complex, CoQ10, carnitine, and tyrosine. Don’t forget the basics too. A good multivitamin/ mineral could be the missing link to feeling revitalized.
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jj virgin Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is author of The New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet.
Featured photo by Hugo Bernard

[1] Sinha A, et al. Improving the vitamin D status of vitamin D deficient adults is associated with improved mitochondrial oxidative function in skeletal muscle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Mar;98(3):E509-13. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3592. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Source: http://inspiyr.com/ways-to-have-more-energy-all-day/

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to Figure Out the Cost of a Medical Procedure Before it Happens

"How much will that cost?" It’s a question we aren’t used to asking in the healthcare marketplace. Many of us grew up with the $10 co-pay, but that’s rapidly becoming a thing of the past. With rising deductibles, more out-of-network providers, more uninsured people, and more out-of-pocket spending, it’s increasingly a question we need to ask—and before the medical procedure, not after, when the “gotcha” bill upsets us.
This post originally appeared on Credit.com.
So, how do you find out what things cost in the healthcare marketplace?
First, let’s distinguish between two groups: routine care (preventive checkups, the garden-variety strep infection, etc.), and emergency care (or other big-ticket medical events like crisis appendectomies). The first group is fairly easy; the big-ticket stuff, less so, though you can do some things to help yourself.
When you’re insured, you have to deal with factors like: Have you met your deductible? Does your plan require pre-approval? Are you in network or out? So indeed it can be complicated. But we’re hearing more people asking for cash or self-pay prices, negotiating surgical fees (a friend just negotiated a $40,000 fee down to $10,000), and being thoughtful about purchasing.
If you’re insured, ask your provider or check the company’s website for pricing tools. Many insurers now offer them, though not all are extremely useful. Some states have terrific pricing tools, such as Minnesota and New Hampshire, but a lot of the state resources are not so great. In Ohio, for example, the prices are simply the list or “chargemaster” prices, which are the top-end rates, and thus not very useful. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a scorecard of those resources.
Here are some easy steps to find out what things cost.

Routine or Non-Emergency Care

1. Find out the exact name of the procedure, and how it’s referred to in the medical billing system, (the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) or CPT codes). These codes categorize the mind-numbingly huge number of medical procedures that go through the nation’s billing system. There’s often a five-digit code: for example, a simple MRI of the lower back is coded 72148. To find the procedure name and number, ask the provider, or try the search box on the clearhealthcosts.com site: type in “MRI” and pick from the choices offered. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask the provider: “Is that a 72148 MRI or a 72156?”
2. Find out the price paid for that procedure by Medicare in your locale. The Medicare price is the closest thing to a fixed or benchmark price, and there’s a byzantine formula for determining that price. For a 72148 MRI, for example, the Medicare price in Manhattan is $497.
3. Now it’s time for a little spadework. There may be several providers–say a colonoscopy, which might include the doctor, the anesthesiologist, the pathology charges, maybe even a “facility charge” for the building where it all takes place–so ask about each of them. We often hear of people encountering out-of-network anesthesiologists, emergency-room docs, and even pathologists—not to mention the ambush “facility fee.”
4. Are you uninsured, or is it not covered by your insurance? Then ask for a cash or self-pay price. Quite often, providers will offer a discount if you pay upfront, in advance—not just for discretionary procedures like Botox and Lasik eye surgery, but also for things like an MRI, a mammogram, or an ultrasound. We hear a lot from people who are asking to pay the Medicare price, or something close. The first price that is quoted, we often find, is a “chargemaster” or sticker price–like an MSRP in electronics. Depending on where you live, you might be entitled by law to a much lower price. In California, for example, discounts off the sticker price must be given to uninsured or underinsured patients below a certain income level. Ask if there are any price breaks. Then ask again.
5. Are you insured? Is it covered by your insurance? Ask “Is Dr. X in my network? Is it covered? What’s my co-pay? Am I required to pay a percentage?” Ask if the price being quoted to you is the chargemaster or sticker price—or if it is the “negotiated rate,” negotiated by the provider and the payer (in this case your insurance company). Know your plan: Have you met your deductible? Is this something your plan doesn’t cover at 100%? Ask, and keep asking. You may need to ask both provider and insurer; you may have to ask for “pre-authorization” to assure it will be covered. Know your policy. Take notes. Take names.
6. If you think the prices are high, you may be right. Hospitals generally charge more for things like an MRI than a self-standing radiology center does. If your provider is offering a $2,300 MRI, you might feel comfortable asking if you could go to the place up the street that charges $500.
7. Keep a record of who you talked to and when, what they said, and how to reach them again. We have heard many times that people asking these questions get several different answers from different people at the same provider or insurance company.
8. Check online resources. Clearhealthcosts.com is part of a growing ecosystem of transparency tools. Some of the others:
  • healthcarebluebook.com (gives a “fair price” based on your location);
  • fairhealth.org (price information for consumers and businesses);
  • newchoicehealth (offers generally high prices, then invites users to connect with featured providers or request a bid);
  • faircaremd.com (offers a range of provider-supplied prices and an opportunity to negotiate).

Emergency Care: Walk-In Center Before Emergency Room

You’re not likely to be shopping around if you’re in an ambulance with a broken leg, or unconscious on a gurney. But there are things you can do to make smart choices about emergency care.
First, if you’re insured, know the hospitals close to you that are on your plan that will be your ER of choice in case you or a family member needs crisis care. But also–and this is new for many of us–a walk-in center could be a better choice. Walk-in centers tend to be much less expensive than full-blown hospital emergency rooms. Many of us routinely took croupy kids to emergency rooms in the middle of the night, but that’s changed in a big way.
Walk-in centers of all kinds are the fastest-growing part of the medical marketplace. They range from pharmacy and big-box clinics (Dr. Walk-In at Duane Reade, The Clinic at Walmart) to Concentra, a big chain with more than 300 clinics in 39 states, to mini-chains like CityMD in New York. If your problem is a sore throat, a urinary tract infection, or a croupy kid, your first choice is likely to be your doctor—if you’re insured and you have one. But if you’re uninsured or can’t get to your doctor quickly or easily, this is another option. It’s not a bad idea to call around just to know providers near you.
Walk-in centers may not feel comfortable quoting a price in advance, because the price can depend on treatment: Do you need lab tests, X-rays, a cast? So you might inquire: Do you take my insurance? What kind of cases do you treat? What is the charge for a basic office visit? What are your hours? What’s the charge for a cash visit for a sore throat if you’re uninsured? Not all walk-in centers are created equal. Some are staffed by nurse practitioners, by emergency room doctors, by owner-operator doctors, or by a pharmacist. Some may not take people with gynecological issues, or gaping chest wounds, or broken bones. It’s worth knowing the territory to save yourself time, trouble, and money.
Ask friends and neighbors for their experiences. Social media can help: in my village, we’ve got a “Moms” Facebook page where people share recommendations for gynecologists, primary-care providers, and the best place to take a croupy kid on the weekend. Use those resources. Also, beware of the rising trend toward free-standing emergency rooms, which are separate from hospitals. They present what appears to be an attractive alternative, but the word on the street is that they can be expensive.
And if you’re in an emergency situation and still able to ask, do yourself a favor: Make sure that all the providers you see are participating providers. We hear a lot about people who receive bills telling them that they were at an in-network hospital with an in-network doctor and in-network pathology, but the anesthesiologist was out of network and therefore the bill blows back on them. Insist that you want an in-network provider.
How much will that cost? Always ask.
How to Figure Out the Cost of a Medical Procedure Before You Get It | Credit.com

Jeanne Pinder a contributor at Credit.com. She is the founder and CEO of clearhealthcosts.com, bringing transparency to the health-care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. A former New York Times editor and reporter, she loves finding things out and telling people.
Image remixed from piotr_pabijan (Shutterstock).

Source: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-figure-out-the-cost-of-a-medical-procedure-befor-1348059616