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Disturbed Sleep Shown To Benefit From Mindfulness Training

Disturbed Sleep Shown To Benefit From Mindfulness Training

Woman sleeping on white background
We can now add disturbed sleep to the growing list of problems made better by mindfulness training. Apparently, the practice of non-judgmental focused attention on the present moment leaves a residue that stills the brain/mind enough to help the involuntarily sleep deprived get their rest. At least that’s the conclusion from some solid new research just published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

An especially interesting, and useful, aspect of this research is that it was a randomized clinical trial using real-world interventions with real people. Adults 55 and older with at least moderate problems sleeping were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received a six week sleep hygiene education program. The other group participated in a community-based mindfulness program taught by a certified instructor. They also received sleep hygiene instruction.

The mindfulness group met two hours per week for six weeks. As stated in the NIH clinical trials database, those in this group “will be guided through in-class meditation practices and will be assigned daily meditation homework. Active program components include sitting and walking somatosensory-focused meditation, audio-guided body scan meditation, and loving kindness meditation.” This was the real deal. It was a much more immersive experience than something like just listening to oneself breathe a few times week or relying on one of the increasingly popular mindfulness apps, worthwhile endeavors in their own right but not the same intensity as what this research studied.

The sleep hygiene education group also met twice a week for six weeks. They met as a group so as to provide equal support, attention, time, and expectation of benefit. They were taught “knowledge of sleep biology, identifying characteristics of healthy and unhealthy sleep, sleep problems, and self-monitoring of sleep behavior.” The sleep hygiene component included the kind of advice health-care practitioners—myself included—frequently provide patients with moderate sleep problems. Advice such as no alcohol, caffeine, or screens before bed; establish a regular schedule for sleep; associate bed for sleeping not TV; make bedroom dark, cool, and relaxing; avoid large meals before going to bed; exercise during the day; and (personally my least favorite) avoid napping during the day.

While both groups showed improvements in sleep by the end of the study, the mindfulness training group did significantly better in reporting reductions in sleep problems. Plus, as the authors report, the mindfulness group also showed significant improvements in “secondary health outcomes of insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, fatigue interference, and fatigue severity.”

We know that sleep problems are significantly associated with poor health outcomes. We also know that pharmacological sleep aids all carry significant risk and have significant side effects. We need effective options other than potentially dangerous meds, especially as the population ages and more people develop sleep problems. And the fact that mindfulness training has now been shown to improve sleep among the involuntarily sleep deprived is an important step towards a more well rested, and therefore healthier and happier, population.

It also means I will be changing what I do in my practice when it comes to patients who report sleep problems. From now on sleep hygiene plus a mindfulness practice seems to be the way to go.

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7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

1. Walk outside.

Skip the gym and head for the great outdoors.  While exercise is a great boost to your mental health, going for a walk or a run offer even more vital health benefits.  You’ll exert more effort and will have increased signs of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem, as compared to staying indoors.

 

2. Take vitamin B12.

You’ve always known taking vitamins is important, but do you know about the benefits of B12?
A severe deficiency of B12 can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia and other harmful problems.  Get your B12 dosage from supplements or by eating eggs, poultry and dairy products.

 

3. Write down simple goals.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says setting simple, well-defined goals like, “I will smoke one less cigarette each day for the next three weeks,” is a great way to succeed.   Set goals for yourself in relation to your mental health — such as, “I will take two minutes each day to focus on breathing” — and be as specific as possible.

Once you’ve accomplished that goal, reward yourself!

 

4. Listen to calming music.

Plenty of studies have shown that performing tasks while listening to classical tracks such as Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” eases your mind and reduces anxiety.  If you’re not one for classical music, opt for other tracks that are slow and soothing.

 

5. Use lavender oil.

Put a bit of lavender oil on your pillow. It can improve your sleep quality and ease insomnia.  If you don’t want it on your pillow, try drinking lavender tea before bed to soak up its healthful benefits.

 

6. Spend money on someone else.

You know that victorious feeling you get when you find the perfect gift for someone?  That’s your happiness levels skyrocketing.  People who buy something for someone else feel happier throughout day.  And you don’t have to break the bank every time — spending $5 for someone else is fine.  It’s the thought that counts for others as well as yourself.

 

7. Meditate.

We know this is touted as the mind-clearing fix-all, but it’s for good reason.  Mindful meditation increases the brain’s emotional regulator, and combats depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and more.  Start slowly by meditating for 3 to 5 minutes per day in order to get comfortable with silence.  Listen to your breathing or use a mantra as a way to focus your mind on relaxation, and soon you’ll be getting 20 minutes or more of excellent calmness.

 

 

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13 Reasons To Start Lifting Weights

13 Reasons To Start Lifting Weights

Maybe you’re convinced you shouldn’t lift weights because you prefer not looking like The Hulk. Maybe you figure you just wouldn’t like it, since you’re not one of those CrossFit types.

We hate to be confrontational about it, but frankly, you’re wrong. Despite a prevalent allegiance to cardio machines for things like weight loss and overall health, strength training not only builds muscle but can prevent disease, improve mood and — really! — help you lose weight.

Here are 13 smart reasons to include a little work with the weights into your fitness repertoire.

1. You’ll live longer.
While most forms of regular exercise can add years to your life, strength training in particular has big benefits. As we get older, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely, according to 2014 research from UCLA. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” study co-author Arun Karlamangla, M.D., said in a statement. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.” And what better way to maximize those muscles than by pumping iron?

2. For better sleep.
Regular exercisers — especially those who truly push themselves — report the best sleep, and weightlifting is no exception. In a small 2012 study in older men, researchers found that resistance training reduced the number of times the study participants woke up during the night, as compared to a control group who performed no exercise.

3. Your progress is so noticeable.
There’s nothing that feels quite as rewarding as setting a goal and crushing it. If you’re new to strength work, you’ll find that a weight you once thought was impossible to lift starts to feel easy sooner than you might imagine. And then, you’ll feel like a boss.

4. To protect your bones.
Weight-bearing exercise and particularly strength training is thought to increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and breaks among older adults.

5. To boost your balance.
Of course, one major cause of bone breaks as we age is falling. Some of weightlifting’s benefit in protecting against osteoporosis may be improved strength and balance, resulting in fewer falls. Indeed, research suggests that various resistance routines can reduce an older person’s rate of falling by around 30 percent.

6. It can make you happier.
Like many forms of physical activity, a little lifting can work wonders for your mental health. Strength training has been linked to reduced anxiety and depression symptoms as well as improved self-esteem, and it may even give your brainpower a boost.

7. To look better in your skinny jeans.
Now, we don’t suggest you lift weights (or do any exercise, for that matter) solely for appearance — there are just so many other benefits! — but when it comes to slimming down, endless hours on the elliptical may not be getting you any closer to the results you desperately seek. In fact, building muscle may help you lose fat more effectively than simply doing cardio. “If you’re looking to lose fat, go with strength training,” trainer Nick Tumminello, author of Strength Training for Fat Loss told Business Insider.

8. To burn more calories.
Simply having more muscle on your frame helps your body burn up extra calories — even when you’re sitting completely still.

9. You can do it in under 30 minutes.
Adding strength work to your regular exercise routine doesn’t have to eat up the tiny bit of free time you had left in the day. In fact, lifting is one area where more is not always better — around 30 to 60 minutes a week, total, is plenty, according to Runner’s Times.

10. And you don’t even have to go to the gym.
We’re using the term “lifting weights,” but the world of strength and resistance training includes a whole host of options outside of what you’d find at the gym. You can “lift weights” with cans and jars you find in your kitchen. You can “lift weights” using only your body. You can buy a pair of five-pound dumbbells and lift along with a DVD in the comfort of your own living room, where the only person checking you out in the mirror is you. In fact, if you’re new to strength training, many moves are safer if performed with just your bodyweight until you can get the hang of perfect form. Plus, many of those machines at the gym aren’t adjustable enough for the wide range of bodies that use them.

11. To run faster (really!)
Or swim longer or bike harder or get better at just about any other athletic endeavor you fancy. Why? Because you’ll be cultivating stronger, more powerful muscles to then put to good use. Also, strength training can help prevent injuries in other athletic pursuits, by helping correct muscle imbalances that in turn throw your form — even just while sitting or standing — out of whack.

12. To help your heart.
Despite the name, cardio isn’t the only form of exercise with cardiovascular benefits. A resistance training routine has been shown to lower blood pressure, in some cases as effectively as taking medication. The American Heart Association  recommends adults aim for at least two strength training sessions a week.

13. Because then you can wear shirts like this.

LIFT-WEIGHTS-570Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/12/benefits-of-lifting-weights_n_6432632.html

 

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BMI Calculator: How Healthy Is Your Weight?

BMI Calculator: How Healthy Is Your Weight?

BMI Calculator: How Healthy Is Your Weight?

Body Mass Index can tell you whether you’re carrying too much, too little or
just the right amount of body fat

Your body mass index (BMI) is an estimate of your body fat that is based on your height and weight. Doctors use BMI, along with other health indicators, to assess an adult’s current health status and potential health risks. You can determine your BMI with the calculator below.

Calculate Your BMI

 Click this link to Calculate your BMI:
less than 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Healthy
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 or more Obese
Check your BMI with this online calculator.

Your BMI is an estimate of your body fat based on your weight and height.— Getty Images

(BMI should not be used to assess a child’s weight because the appropriate weight for a child varies greatly by age.)

Typically, people with higher BMIs have a greater likelihood of developing conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes. But many factors — including your family history, eating habits and activity level — also influence your overall health.

BMI calculator results are grouped into the broad categories of underweight, healthy weight and obese.

If you have questions or concerns about your BMI results, consult with your doctor or health care provider.

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What does Meditation do for you?

What does Meditation do for you?

Balance Through Meditation

“Balance” may sound intangible, but there are chemical markers for every benefit that meditation brings. The negative effect of stress on the heart, as well as the recovery process from stress, is driven by the production of hormones and neurotransmitters throughout the body. Meditation has been found to be a powerful means of rebalancing and regulating these biochemicals.

Cortisol is known as a major stress hormone, and meditation has been found to consistently reduce cortisol levels in the blood. Deep relaxation produced by meditation triggers the brain to release beneficial neurotransmitters, including oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin triggers reactions that support your ability to de-stress and also to behave calmly in stressful situations. Not only does it immediately relieve stress symptoms, like high blood pressure, but it’s also been found to have long-term calming effects—up to three weeks. Animal studies have revealed that the heart tissue has oxytocin receptors.

We can also point to the blood vessels specifically. When you relax, your parasympathetic nervous system engages to counter the effects of your sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system, which responds to your direction, is like the gas pedal, while your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary and unconscious processes, is your idle mode. Take your foot off the pedal, and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate slows, blood vessels dilate, breathing slows and deepens, and blood pressure falls back to normal. In most people, unfortunately this automatic return to balance has been compromised by stress and other kinds of subtle imbalance. Meditation effectively restores you to a deeper standing rest rate. Once you’re balanced, your immune system is strengthened, and in terms of the heart, your resistance to stress increases. This reduces a major risk in heart disease and strokes.

The good news is that unhealthy choices can be changed, and while meditation can’t make you exercise and eat better, it can wake you up to your body’s signals in both areas. You can’t change what you’re unaware of, but with increased awareness, any change becomes possible.

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19 Amazing Benefits and Uses of Strawberry Fruit

19 Amazing Benefits and Uses of Strawberry Fruit

Most of us love strawberries because of the fact that they are a treat for the eyes and taste buds. But these amazingly delicious fruits are also packed with nutrition. The strawberry is a red, juicy, conically-shaped fruit belonging to the rose family. In fact, technically, it is not a berry but an aggregate accessory fruit, composed of several small fruits, each with one seed known as achene. It is the only fruit whose seeds are visible from outside.

Strawberries are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, ranging from deep red and pink to off white or yellowish. There are several varieties of strawberries such as the Virginia, Chilean and European Alpine strawberry. Generally the smaller varieties are sweeter and more flavorful than the larger ones which are often watery. Because of their delicious flavor and attractive appearance, strawberries are widely used in ice creams, mocktails, cakes, smoothies and other desserts. They also form a part of several recipes and salads.

Strawberry Benefits for Health:

Strawberry has been hailed as “the queen of fruits” because of its rich nutritional value which offers a range of health benefits as given below:

1. Anti-inflammatory Properties:

The rich variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals in strawberries help fight inflammatory disorders like osteoarthritis, asthma, cancer and atherosclerosis. According to research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, strawberries can lower the blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which is responsible for causing inflammation. It was observed that women who ate 16 or more strawberries per week were at a 14% less risk of having elevated levels of CRP.

2. Cardiovascular Health:

Strawberries are great for heart health. They contain ellagic acid and flavonoids which improve heart health through their antioxidant effects. They also counteract the effects of low density lipoprotein or LDL (the bad cholesterol in our blood which causes plaque build-up in the arteries), thus lowering the risk of heart disease.

3. Blood Pressure:

Strawberries contain potassium which regulates blood pressure and prevents high blood pressure by counteracting the negative effects of sodium.

4. Weight Loss:

Strawberries are low in sugar, calories and sodium, and fat-free. The natural sugars contained in strawberries are extremely low with 4 grams per serving. They also contain nitrates which promote blood flow and oxygen throughout the body, resulting in weight loss. Nitrates also prevent the muscles from becoming too tired after exercise.

5. Bone Health:

Strawberries contain potassium, magnesium and Vitamin K which are beneficial for bone health. It is shown to bring down bone loss and therefore prevents bone breakage that begins with age.

6. Eye Health:

Consumption of three or more servings of strawberries can lower the risk of macular degeneration, which results in vision loss. The antioxidant properties of strawberries help in preventing cataracts, a condition characterized by clouding over of the eye lens which can lead to blindness in old age. Vitamin C in strawberries helps in strengthening the eye’s cornea and retina and also protects them from the harsh UV rays which can damage the protein in the lens.

7. Immunity Booster:

Strawberries are a rich source of Vitamin C which is a powerful immunity booster as well as an antioxidant. One cup of strawberries can provide about 100% of the daily requirement of this vitamin.

8. Cancer Prevention:

Vitamin C in strawberries helps in cancer prevention by boosting our immunity. They also contain a phytochemical called ellagic acid which has anti-cancer properties such as suppressing cancer cell growth. Some studies have proved that dried strawberry powder can help prevent human esophageal cancer.

9. Pre-natal Health:

Strawberries are a good source of folate, a B vitamin required by pregnant women or those trying to conceive. Folate is vital in the early stages of pregnancy for the development of the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord, and for the prevention of certain birth defects like spina bifida.

Strawberry Benefits for Skin:

Apart from being great for your health, strawberry is a treat for your skin. Both consumption and topical application of strawberry provides the following benefits to your skin:

10. Anti-ageing:

Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C which is involved in the production of collagen. By fighting the free radicals, it provides anti-ageing benefits, thereby reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and minimizing blemishes.

11. Anti-pigmentation:

Strawberry fruit extract, being rich in ellagic acid, helps to lighten hyperpigmentation caused by UV rays by inhibiting the synthesis of melanin, the chemical that imparts color to your skin.

12. Good Cleanser:

The presence of Vitamin C, salicylic acid and antioxidants in strawberries make them fabulous skin cleansers. Salicylic acid removes dead cells from your skin as well as tightens pores and brightens your skin. Ellagic acid prevents skin damage, thus making your skin look young and fresh. Strawberries soothe and exfoliate your skin, remove impurities and keep your skin soft.

13. Anti-acne:

Being rich in Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), salicylic acid and flavonoids, strawberry is effective in clearing acne and reducing oil. All you need to do is mash ½ cup of sliced strawberries with 1 tablespoon sour cream and apply it on your face for 10 minutes. This will clear the acne as well as blemishes.

14. Eye Puffiness:

Strawberries can reduce puffiness and circles beneath the eyes. You can place a few strawberry slices under your eyes and relax for 10 minutes. Then moisturize as usual.

15. Effective for oily skin:

If you have oily skin, you can mash equal amounts of fresh strawberries and plain unsweetened yoghurt. Apply it on your face for 10 minutes and then rinse off.

Strawberry Benefits for Hair:

Strawberry occupies the fourth position among fruits in terms of its antioxidant capacity. The rich variety of antioxidants, ellagic acid and vitamins make it beneficial for your hair as well. It offers the following hair benefits:

16. Hair loss and Thinning:

The high content of ellagic acid in strawberry protects your from thinning or falling. It also contains folate and Vitamin B6 which help to combat the problem of hair loss.

17. Strawberry Conditioner:

You can prepare a strawberry conditioner to get glossy, silky and lustrous hair. Mash 8 fresh strawberries with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Massage this mixture into damp hair. Cover with a shower cap for at least 10 minutes and then shampoo as usual.

18. Cure for dandruff:

Combining strawberry with tea tree oil or thyme oil enhances its antifungal effects due to its high content of copper and manganese. This is effective in curing dandruff.

19. Hair Moisturizer:

Due to its antioxidant effects, strawberry protects the membranes of the cells of the scalp and prevents the formation of a hydrophobic layer on the scalp’s surface, thus preventing scalp insulation. Combining egg yolk with strawberry is a great way to moisturize your hair.

Strawberry: Nutritional Value

Strawberries have a rich nutritional value comprising of vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids and other vital nutrients. Let us now have a glimpse at strawberry nutrition facts explained in the chart given below.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
Strawberries (Fragaria X ananassa),
ORAC Value 3577, Nutrition Value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 32 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 7.7 g 6%
Protein 0.67 g 0.1%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.0 g 5%
Vitamins
Folates 24 µg 6%
Niacin 0.386 mg 2.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.125 mg 2.5%
Pyridoxine 0.047 mg 3.5%
Riboflavin 0.022 mg 2%
Vitamin A 12 IU 0.5%
Vitamin C 58.8 mg 98%
Vitamin E 0.29 mg 2%
Vitamin K 2.2 µg 2%
Electrolytes
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 153 mg 3%
Minerals
Calcium 16 mg 1.6%
Iron 0.41 mg 5%
Magnesium 13 mg 3%
Manganese 0.386 mg 17%
Zinc 0.14 mg 1%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß 7 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 26 µg

Calories and Fat: A one cup serving of strawberries provides about 50 calories, 1 gram protein and 11 grams carbohydrates. They are free of fat, cholesterol and sodium. They also contain 9 grams of natural sugar mostly in the form of fructose.

Vitamins: Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C with one cup of strawberries providing 160% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this vitamin. They also have a high content of folates.

Minerals: Strawberries are a rich source of potassium with one cup serving contributing about 170% of the RDA. They also provide 2% of the RDA for calcium and iron.

Source: http://www.healthbeckon.com/

For more information on strawberries, click here.

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13 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

Lemon is a common, inexpensive, easily available and most widely used citrus fruit. Its characteristic flavour and refreshing smell make it a popular fruit for drinks. It is used in lemonade, soft drinks, cocktails and tea. It has a long list of benefits. In India, it is used as medicine for many health problems. Thus, lemon is a popular citrus fruit that can be used in various ways. It can be used with other beneficial ingredients like honey, salt, etc. toenhance its benefits.

Nutritional  Properties of Lemon Water:

As we all know, lemon is a good source of vitamins and minerals which are essential for healthy and proper functioning of the body. It has low calories (29 cal /100gm), low cholesterol and low saturated fat. Like most citrus fruits, it is a very rich source of vitamin C which is an amazing antioxidant. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin B1 (thiamine) in lesser amounts. Minerals present in lemon include copper, calcium and potassium. Copper possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Calcium is good for bones and teeth while potassium helps maintain PH and water balance.

It is this wide array of beneficial nutrients that makes lemon water and other lemon drinks extremely beneficial for health. So we are going to focus on the various benefits of drinking lemon water and lemon juice.

 

Benefits of Lemon Drink:

Listed below are the amazing benefits of lemon water that you can consume in various forms.

Warm Lemon Water:

Warm lemon water is an extremely beneficial drink with innumerable health benefits given below.

 

1. Digestion:

Proper Digestion plays an important role in overall health. Poor digestion can lead to several health complications. Hence warm lemon water is a simple, quick and effective home remedy for digestive issues. Start your day by supping warm lemon water on empty stomacheveryday. It is the best and the healthiest morning drink. Daily consumption of lemon water treats indigestion issues like bloating, belching, heartburn, etc. It treats constipation by helping in waste elimination. Many digestive disorders take place because of poor pH level and lemon water helps restore pH level and helps in digestion.

 

2. Strengthens Immune System:

Our immune system protects our body by combating illness. Weak immune system makes our body susceptible to illness and infections. Warm lemon water has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which fight harmful bacteria, fungus, and virus that cause diseases and infections. Its antioxidant property helps eliminate toxins from the body.

 

Lemon Water in the Morning:

Your health and energy levels for the day depends upon what you eat in the morning. A glass of warm lemon water gives a healthy, energetic and refreshing start to your day. Daily intake of lemon water early in the morning works wonders for your health, providing you the following health benefits.

 

3. Oral Health:

A cup of lemon water in the morning is good for oral health. Its anti-bacterial property eliminates mouth bacteria which is responsible for causing bad breath. It soothes toothaches and many oral diseases like gingivitis. It also helps in teeth whitening as lemon is a natural bleaching agent. Ensure to gargle with plain water after lemon water intake to avoid tooth enamel damage.

 

4. Good Mood:

Bad mood spoils everything. Starting your morning with lemon water enhances your mood. This quality can be attributed to its revitalizing mood enhancing smell. It also minimizes anxiety and depression. Vitamin C in lemon is a natural stress reducer.

 

5. Natural Diuretic (promotes urine production):

Lemon water prevents urinary tract infections. Being a natural diuretic, it increases urination and hence, eliminates bacteria which causes urinary tract infection. Lemon water is effective in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones as it contains citric acid, which does not allow stone formation by breaking it. In case of kidney stone, you can drink lemon water 3-4 times a day for better results.

 

Lemon Water With Honey:

Lemon and honey helps in fighting many health issues because of their antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties. Thus, the combination of lemon water and honey gives you additional health benefits given below.

 

6. Aids Weight Loss:

Honey and lemon water is a popular and effective remedy for weight loss. This drink has formed a part of several weight loss programs. Both are beneficial for health. To lose weight, take a glass of warm water, add 1 teaspoon honey, squeeze 1 lemon to it and drink it on an empty stomach daily in the morning. It increases the metabolism rate which burns calories fast. Stimulated metabolism uses fat as an energy source, causing you to lose weight. Lemon water with honey also boosts your energy level. Pectin fibre present in lemon reduces hunger cravings and makes you feel full. The combination of all these functions goes a long way in promoting healthy weight loss.

 

7. Treatment of Cold and Flu:

Honey and lemon is an age-old home remedy for treatment of cold and flu. Just add two teaspoons each of honey and lemon juice in a cup of warm water. Its consumption eases discomfort. Cold and flu are also caused due to virus. Both lemon and honey have anti-viral property which fights infectious bacteria. Lemon has lots of vitamin C in it which boosts the immune system. Honey soothes sore throat and treats cough. This combination of honey and lemon also treats nasal congestion by eliminating unwanted mucus.

 

Lemon Water and Salt:

Lemon water when taken with salt can be beneficial for your health in the following ways.

 

8. Great Detoxifier:

Lemon diet or the master cleanse diet is a popular weight loss program that involves both lemon juice and salt water. The name itself suggests that having lemon water with salt helps cleanse your system by removing those unwanted toxins accumulated in your body. The result is, of course, visible in the form of reduced weight, glowing skin and better digestion.

 

9. Maintains pH Balance:

Lemon water with salt is an effective way to restore your body’s pH levels. A pH level above 7.0 is alkaline and below 7.0 is acidic. Lemon is acidic, but when it goes inside our body, it turns alkaline and salt is alkaline in nature. Your body should be more alkaline than acidic. Maintenance of pH balance is important as poor pH balance can cause health issues like digestive problems, skin diseases, osteoporosis, arthritis etc. Proper pH balance helps in nutrient absorption, digestion, toxin elimination, etc. Thus, if you are suffering from these problems, consider taking lemon water with salt as these may be caused due to improper pH balance.

 

10. Improves Mineral Absorption:

Our body needs minerals for overall health. It cannot produce these minerals on its own sothese have to be supplied to our body through food. Proper absorption of minerals is necessary for performing important functions like maintenance of pH balance and healthy nervous system, acting as a co-factor for enzyme reactions, formation of bones and teeth, metabolic stimulation etc. Intake of lemon water with a pinch of salt 2-3 times a day improves the absorption of minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium etc. Thus, it helps prevent health issues like osteoporosis (calcium deficiency), anaemia (iron deficiency), muscle weakness and abnormal heart rhythm (magnesium deficiency).

 

Lemon Juice:

Lemon juice is also not far behind as a refreshing and healthy drink. In fact, it is one of the most widely used ingredients. Apart from direct consumption, lemon juice is used as a preservative as well as an ingredient in recipes to impart its sour flavour. But what makes it more valuable is its health promoting qualities as given below:

 

11. Heart Health:

Heart is a vital organ and so its health and care is extremely important. Lemon juice consumption has been found beneficial for healthy health. Potassium present in it controls high blood pressure while vitamin C lowers cholesterol level and prevents blood clotting within vessels. Lemon has antioxidant property which eliminates harmful toxins and keeps blood purified. It also prevents strokes, heart attacks and other serious heart problems.

 

Sweet Lemon Water/ Lemonade:

Lemonade or sweet lemon water is lemon water with sugar sweetness. It is a great option to satisfy your sweet tooth in comparison to other sugary foods and beverages which are nil in the nutrient – quotient. Besides being a tasty and refreshing drink, it is beneficial for your health.

 

12. Beneficial for Skin:

Lemonade is a wonderful drink for your hair and skin health. Having a glass of lemonade daily helps treat hair and skin issues. The high amount of vitamin C in lemonade eliminates free radicals which are responsible for causing wrinkles and ageing. Vitamin C also heals damaged tissues, lightens dark spots, prevents acne and blemishes and helps in reducing sun damage. Lemonade intake provides you with a glowing flawless skin.

 

13. Beneficial for Hair:

Apart from maintaining skin health, vitamin C in lemonade also helps in treating and preventing hair problems like split ends, dry hair and dandruff etc. Its antibacterial property fights bacteria, thus preventing several scalp issues.

Hence, lemon water and lemon juice are more than just refreshing drinks. So give up all those sugary and canned beverages and switch to simple homemade lemon drinks for a boost in your health and energy!

 

Source: healthbeckon.com

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Breathing Techniques to Enhance Your Workouts

Breathing Techniques to Enhance Your Workouts

With every fitness regimen the body is used in different ways. Some workouts require power and strength; others require endurance and resistance; still others require flexibility and mobility. While it’s important to know how muscles function and adapt during exercise, understanding your breathing is another powerful factor that can make or break your workouts. Breath control is an effective tool to help workouts reach their full potential. By utilizing breath properly, you can steadily improve performance in any discipline. Regardless of the fitness type – whether yoga, running, cycling, or lifting weights – proper breathing can help the body adapt to the various challenges that arise when exercising. Just as different muscles are used during different types of training, certain breathing techniques better apply to different workouts. Here are some specific breathing exercises to complement your workout regimen. Yoga Breath awareness lies at the core of any yoga practice. Breathing techniques vary depending on the style of yoga being practiced. They fall into two basic categories: the relaxation breath and the active breath. In general, if a yoga class is gentle or restorative, it is appropriate to employ the relaxation breath. For a more vigorous class (like a vinyasa flow or power yoga), utilize the active breathing technique. In yoga, students are encouraged to breathe in and out through the nostrils. Relaxation Breath This is the breathing technique that is closest to a natural breathing rhythm. When inhaling, imagine the belly filling with breath (hence the term belly breathing). Then when exhaling, allow the exhalation to be long and slow. If the inhalation is a four- or five-count, for example, the exhalation should be a five- or six-count. This breathing technique is best learned while lying down, because the body is able to completely relax when in a supine position. As a result, there are no restrictions or physical tensions to inhibit deep breathing. Once the relaxation breath is mastered lying down, it’s easier to practice it in a seated position. While practicing gentle or restorative yoga, this breathing technique helps maintain focus on relaxation. If you start to hold the breath or feel breathing become labored, return to the relaxation breath and allow the body to adapt accordingly.

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Active Breath

This breathing technique involves the deepest abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominus, and the pelvic floor muscles. The transverse abdominus wraps around the torso like a thick seatbelt and engages, along with the pelvic floor muscles, as the major player in a full, active exhalation. There are additional muscles at work, such as the spinal muscles and other abdominal muscles, but the transverse abdominus and pelvic floor muscles are the most important in facilitating an active breath. When inhaling, envision breathing into the lower belly, the ribs, and the chest. During the exhalation, draw up the pelvic floor muscles, engage the transverse abdominus (imagine a thick seatbelt tightening around the torso,) and push the remaining breath out of the body. Since the transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor muscles are key stabilizers for the spine and pelvis, utilizing this breath during a vigorous yoga class helps maintain a stable body when moving through the postures. The active breath assists with the development of a strong core, supports each movement, and keeps the focus on the body during yoga practice.

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Running or Cycling

Running and cycling encompass a variety of workouts and intensity levels. Some workouts involve maintaining a steady pace, while others require speed or hill work. We’ve focused on two breathing techniques that apply to a steady-paced training session or to hill or speed training.

Counting Breath

The steady counting breath is a technique that facilitates an even-paced breath. When inhaling, breathe in to the count of four (or five, or six) and then exhale for the same length of time. Aim for breaths that come in and out with relative ease. This breathing rhythm supports a steady running or cycling pace that corresponds with strides or cadence. When running, breathe in for two, three, or four paces, and exhale for the same number of paces. The same technique can be employed to maintain an even inhalation and exhalation on the bike. Controlled breathing keeps the heart rate down, which maximizes the ability to run or cycle efficiently. The counting breath helps to maintain a steady pace. By developing breath control in this manner, you can increase the breath count, or adapt it as necessary for each workout.

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Counting Breath Variation

Training on the road, a treadmill, or bike inevitably involves hill or speed work. These workouts can throw off pace, test breathing rhythm, and challenge muscles differently than training on flat surfaces. For these workouts, adapt the steady counting breath to focus on a slightly longer exhalation. The breathing count will naturally be shorter than a steady counting breath because of the demands these workouts place on the body. For the counting breath variation, breathe in for a count of one and breathe out forcefully for a count of two. Running or biking places the body in a position that allows an easy inhalation, but takes abdominal strength and breath control to manage exhalations. When this variation of the counting breath is practiced, the abdominal muscles are trained by controlling the exhalation more than the inhalation. When running, for example, inhale for one stride, but focus on a two-stride exhalation. By concentrating on maintaining a breathing rhythm with a more powerful exhalation, which will vary according to the pitch of the hill or the pace of our speed work, we can use the breath as a constant source of energy to propel the body forward and get us up those hills.

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Strength Training

When lifting weights, the body needs power, stability, and focus. It is common for people to hold their breath when lifting. Unfortunately, holding the breath reduces potential strength, because the full energy of the core and breath doesn’t underlie each movement. This breathing technique will energize and power the body throughout your repetitions. Power Breath The power breath is a combination of the active breath described above in the yoga section and the counting breath variation, with a focus on exhalation described in the running/cycling section. To practice the power breath, inhale deeply and then pause at the end of the inhalation. During this pause in the breath, mentally prepare to lift the weight, be it dumbbells, kettlebell, barbell, or machine. With a powerful exhalation, engage the transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor muscles at the same time as lifting, pressing, or pulling the weight. By using the power breath – which involves core stability and a focus on long powerful exhalations – it’s possible to maintain a stable torso, which is essential for safe lifting. A stable torso also helps protect the spine and back by utilizing the core muscles to support a strong, balanced body. The power and focus of the exhalation energizes the muscles when lifting.

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Employing the relaxation breath between sets allows the muscles to relax and regain energy for the next set of repetitions.

One Last Breath

Regardless of the type of exercise, conscious breathing can give you a greater awareness of your body and its signals. It can help you recognize when you are not working hard enough or overexerting yourself. Whether it’s on the mat, on the trails, or at the gym, being in tune with your breathing for every inhale and exhale can enhance your workout.

WRITTEN BY
ANNABEL FITZSIMMONS

Annabel is a writer, yoga and Pilates instructor, health and wellness speaker, playwright, runner and triathlete. She combines her enthusiasm for wellness with her love of words to encourage healthy and whole living.

– See more at: http://yegfitness.ca/breathing-techniques-enhance-workouts/#sthash.BPLh9LSi.dpuf

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4 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mental Health

4 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mental Health

These are four easy things you can do to make yourself more mentally and physically well:

1) Upgrade Your Diet:

What we put into our bodies is the fuel that we use to run on. Just as there are different octanes of gasoline available at the gas station, you, too, can fuel yourself with higher-octane foods.

Step 1: Cut out fried foods, excessive carbohydrates, sweets and prepackaged foods high in preservatives to improve your energy and health.

Step 2: Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, which make you look and feel better.

The Result: When you take the time to pick out fruits, veggies and meats and prepare a well-balanced meal, you are investing that time in yourself. The process makes you feel accomplished and the upgrade to your diet will make you feel even better.

Pro Tip: If your schedule does not allow nightly food preparation, consider using a crockpot that can stay on and cook food while you are at work or preparing multiple meals for the coming week during the weekend.

2) Improve Your Fitness:

Exercise improves your physical and mental health. Physical activity can decrease stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms. If aerobic exercise is not part of your daily routine, you are not feeling as good as you have the potential to.

Step 1: The key to exercise is to pace yourself. If you have not been active in some time you should to take small steps and set goals that are realistic. When you ease into fitness it can be both enjoyable and highly motivating to achieve your goals. If you set the bar too high you can injure yourself and become increasingly frustrated by lack of progress. Even 30 minutes of walking can improve your health and decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. No matter how cold it gets this winter, you can go to your local mall and walk! Start by walking from one end, to the other end, and back. Next time do this twice. You can walk around your block, bike around the neighborhood or join a local YMCA or another gym.

Step Two: Increase the intensity or frequency of your routine.

Pro Tip: If you are have trouble sleeping, burning calories and working out during the day can burn excess energy and lower stress levels, both of which can improve sleep.

3) Maintain Hygiene:

Taking care of yourself physically can make you feel more comfortable and confident, which can improve your mood. Many times when people are depressed they neglect common things such as shaving, getting haircuts or manicures, and bathing can become more infrequent, as can doing laundry.

Step 1: Take an inventory of how well you are caring for yourself right now.

Step 2: Getting a haircut or manicure can help you to feel better because you are investing in yourself. If you put care into how you look, others will take notice, as well. When you take the time to shave, wear clean and ironed clothes, you will feel better.

4) Create Achievable Goals:

Checking things off of a to-do list and achieving personal goals can be very rewarding. Maybe your goal is to get through a long-neglected pile of mail, return a long overdue phone call or to pay the bills on time this month. Each time you complete a challenge you will feel better and more empowered.

Step 1: If you find yourself in a rut, it is important to set goals that you can realistically achieve. Setting a goal to clean out a box in the garage is likely much more realistic than the goal of cleaning the entire garage. Once you accomplish your first goal and cross it off the to-do list, you will feel good.

Step 2: Now you can build on that momentum and take on a larger goal. For example, you can aim to clean out two more boxes. Before you know it you will have accomplished several small goals which add up to cleaning out the entire garage. Once you begin to achieve your goals it will become part of your routine and you will soon find that that the rut you were in is now a thing of the past.

As you improve the fuel you put into your body, your fitness, the way you take care of yourself and start accomplishing your goals you will begin to feel better. Your new behaviors will become a new healthier lifestyle. Activating these four areas of your behavior, and investing the time and energy in yourself, will improve your physical and mental wellness.

Dr. Goldenberg has written numerous articles about mental health and addiction topics. You can follow Dr. Goldenberg at docgoldenberg.com and http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods on Twitter:@docgoldenberg.

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