Why Sleep is Important and How to Get Enough Sleep

How to Get Enough Sleep

Why is sleep so important? The fact is, sleep is just as important to your health as diet and exercise. Sleep deprivation can cause many health issues, increase stress and even cause you to gain weight. The  . . .  Read more >

How Much Sodium in a Day Should You Consume?

How Much Sodium in a Day

We all need sodium. It is essential in small amounts. The problem is, many of us are consuming way too much sodium than what is recommended. This could lead to various health problems. To prevent that from happening, you should know how much sodium in a day to consume.

What is Sodium?

Salt in a BowlSodium is a nutrient that helps maintain the right balance of fluids in the body. It influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles and also helps transmit nerve impulses. A major source of sodium in our diet is salt in the form of sodium chloride (which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride).

How Much Sodium in a Day?

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults and children over 14 years old should limit their daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg (the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt). Other organizations have different recommendations. The World Health Organization suggests consuming 2,000 mg of sodium per day, while the American Heart Association advises a sodium intake of between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day.

Too Much Sodium Can Cause Health Problems

The different recommendations notwithstanding, one thing is clear. Many people are consuming way too much sodium. The average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, much more than what is recommended.

The kidneys balance the amount of sodium in the body. When the body is low in sodium, the kidneys hold on to this nutrient. When the level of sodium in the body is high, the kidneys excrete the excess in the urine.

But if the kidneys cannot eliminate enough sodium, it starts to build up in the blood. Excessive daily sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, which causes damage to arteries and blood vessels when chronically elevated. Too much sodium can also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

Main Food Sources of Sodium

Processed MeatsProcessed foods – Processed foods are usually high in salt and additives which contain sodium. Examples include cold cuts, bacon, bread, pizza, soups, cheese, and fast food.

Natural sources – Some foods that we eat naturally contain sodium. These include meat, vegetables, shellfish, and dairy products. Eating these foods adds to your overall daily sodium intake.

Salt and other condiments – Many food recipes require the use of salt. Condiments may also contain sodium. For example, one tablespoon of regular soy sauce has about 1,000 mg of sodium.

Sodium-related Terms on Food Packages

When buying food, it’s important to read the label. Here are some terms that you might see in the food packaging and what they mean.

  • Sodium-free

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10 Foods That Are Good for the Skin

Woman in Swimsuit with Good Skin

The saying goes: “You are what you eat.” Our skin is our largest organ and is affected by our nutrition (or lack thereof). A poor diet can cause metabolism changes, weight gain, and damage to organs — including the skin. It is important to eat healthy foods and include foods that are good for the skin in order to improve your health and keep your skin looking young and healthy.

Foods That Are Good for the Skin

1. Broccoli

Broccoli: One of the Foods That Are Good for the SkinFirst on our list of foods that are good for the skin is broccoli. Broccoli is packed full of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and zinc. It also has the carotenoid lutein, which is known to help protect from oxidative stress, which can cause your skin to become dehydrated, damaged and wrinkled. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and contains sulforaphane which has the potential to combat cancer and also protects against damage from the sun. Sulforaphane may also help keep collagen levels stable in the skin.

2. Fish High in Omega-3s

Fatty fish such as herring, salmon, and mackerel are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for skin health. Omega-3s are required to help your skin stay moisturized and supple. A lack of these acids can cause the skin to become dry, inflamed and even increase acne and other skin blemishes. Your skin can also become more sensitive to damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Omega-3s may also help your skin recover from inflammation caused by autoimmune ailments such as lupus and psoriasis. Fatty fish also provides protein which improves the overall health and strength of the skin. The vitamin E in fatty fish is a well-known antioxidant which helps protect your skin against damage from free radicals as well as inflammation. Another mineral, zinc, helps the skin with cell renewal and overall skin health.

Vegans can get their Omega-3s from plant-based foods such as flaxseeds, walnuts, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and more. PETA offers some great suggestions for vegans in their Vegan Guide to Omega-3s.

3. Sweet Potatoes

Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in sweet potatoes that can convert into vitamin A which helps with skin health and protection against sun damage. This also helps to keep your skin looking healthier and less wrinkled.

4. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are full of vitamin C as well as all of the main carotenoids such as lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene. This means that tomatoes help protect the skin and improve overall health. Eating tomatoes with fats such as olive oil or cheese helps improve the absorption of the essential carotenoids.

5. Walnuts

Walnuts are Good for the SkinWalnuts are a great source of Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation, but this is balanced out by the inflammation reducing Omega-3s. Walnuts contain zinc which helps your skin with wound healing and preventing bacteria from taking hold. Walnuts also contain Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and selenium which help improve skin health.

6. Soy

The isoflavones in soy benefit your skin by improving skin elasticity and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Soy is especially good for improving skin moisturization and collagen production in postmenopausal women. Soy may also help your body combat sun damage.

7. Avocados

Avocado Sliced in HalfThe healthy fats in avocados are instrumental in improving skin moisture and flexibility, making it appear more supple and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Avocados are also a source of vitamin E which helps protect your skin from the damage caused by oxidative stress. Avocados also contain vitamin C which helps grow collagen and keeps skin moisturized and healthy.

8. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E, zinc, protein and selenium which are all nutrients that are great for skin health.

9. Bell Peppers

The yellow and red varieties of Bell peppers are full of beta-carotene which can convert to vitamin A in the body. Peppers also contain vitamin C which helps reduce the risk of dry, wrinkly skin and helps with collagen growth.

10. Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate is a Food that is Good for the SkinYes, dark chocolate is good for the skin. The cocoa in dark chocolate is packed full of the antioxidants that your skin needs to stay healthy, hydrated, and firm. These antioxidants protect against sun damage and can also improve blood flow, which improves the delivery of nutrients to the skin, making it healthier. Try to stick to chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa to get the best effects. Avoid chocolate with high levels of added sugar, which is not good for your body.

Conclusion

Eating foods that are good for the skin will help your skin stay smoother, healthier and less wrinkled. Improved blood flow and collagen production keeps your skin flushed and plump to reduce fine lines. Eating these foods will also help your skin protect against damage from UV rays as well as oxidative stress, giving you better-looking skin for years to come.

The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Man Sitting with Laptop Showing The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle are numerous, and different individuals can experience some or all of these effects. What is meant by a sedentary lifestyle? A sedentary lifestyle is one where the individual is not taking part in an adequate amount of physical activity on a regular basis.

According to the CDC, the minimum recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This can also be achieved by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. More than half of the world’s population is not getting enough physical exercise on a daily basis. So what is the impact of this?

Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Doctor Consultation About The Negative Effects of a Sedentary LifestyleWorldwide, a sedentary lifestyle has been identified as the major cause of around 7% of type 2 diabetes cases, 6% of coronary heart disease cases, 10% of colon cancers, and 10% of breast cancers. A lack of physical activity is responsible for more deaths annually than smoking. The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle include these health issues:

• High blood pressure
• Cardiovascular disease
• Increased risk of stroke
• Obesity
• Elevated cholesterol levels
• Increased risk of certain cancers
• Reduction in skeletal muscle mass which can result in osteoporosis
• Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
• Anxiety and depression
• Reduced cognitive function
• Metabolism disorders
• Reduced libido
• Sleep problems

Why Have People Become More Sedentary?

Sedentary Woman Using a SmartphoneThe main factor for people becoming more sedentary is technological advancement. People commute using services whereby they are passively transported, jobs require more time sitting behind a desk and even at home, people spend time on the computer, playing games or watching TV. In the past, more than 50% of jobs involved a lot of activity, but this is now down to around 25%. This means that around 75% of working people are mostly sedentary at work. People also work longer hours, which means that they spend more time sitting down.

How Can We Reverse This Trend?

While many people will head to the gym or sports club after work, many people feel that they just do not have time to exercise. There are ways to improve the amount of physical activity while at work. You can look at having a treadmill or bike desk if your office allows for it, which allows you to exercise and work at the same time. Or find out about a standing desk, which can also help reduce the amount of time spent sitting.

If these are not possible, you can always get up and walk around for a few minutes. Take the stairs. Park further away if you drive to work so that you have to walk further to the office. Use a wearable step counter and try and meet your step count daily, even if you have to pace around in your office. Any exercise is better than none at all.

Conclusion

Mitigating The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle by JoggingThe negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle are becoming more and more apparent as people spend more time sitting than ever before. This can only be mitigated by people actively ensuring that they get a certain amount of exercise every week. Even five minutes of physical activity every few hours can have a marked effect on overall health. Where possible, try and set aside the time to do at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week. But if this is not possible, do as much as you can, whenever you can. Your body and mind will be much better off in the long run.

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What is Acrylamide and How Does it Get in Foods?

What Is Acrylamide

You might have heard about acrylamide in the media. This is more than just a buzzword, though. Acrylamide is a chemical that can be found in foods that have been processed at high temperatures. Deep frying, baking, and roasting can cause the formation of acrylamide in foods. Acrylamide is created in these foods by a chemical reaction with the actual amino acids and sugars found in the food. So what is acrylamide?

What Is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical which is used mostly in making acrylamide copolymers and polyacrylamide which is found in the production of plastics, dyes, paper, and also used for treating wastewater and potable water. These chemicals are also found in various adhesives, caulking materials, and food packaging.

Acrylamide can develop in various foods that contain the amino acid asparagine. When these foods are heated past a certain temperature and they also contain certain sugars, acrylamide is formed. This typically occurs when frying carbohydrate-rich foods. Tobacco smoke also contains acrylamide.

What Foods Potentially Contain Acrylamide?

What Is AcrylamideOne of the main sources of acrylamide is frying potatoes. When these vegetables are made into french fries or potato chips, they develop varied levels of acrylamide. Other foods that contain this substance to a lesser extent are cookies, various cereals, crackers, canned black olives, coffee, prune juice, and even bread.

The levels of acrylamide depend on the temperature, method and cooking time of the products. Avoid storing potatoes in the refrigerator before cooking to help reduce cooking time. Potatoes should be blanched prior to frying or roasting to further reduce the cooking time. Do not dry the potatoes out in a hot oven after you have finished frying them as this also increases their overall heat exposure. Cooking potatoes in their skins also appear to reduce their acrylamide build up.

What Is AcrylamideThe main source of acrylamide in humans is from tobacco smoke, followed by eating foods exposed to extreme heat for longer periods. No acrylamide has been found in fish, meat or dairy products. In industrial settings, the exposure is normally regulated, reducing the chance of being contaminated with the chemical. The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report which recommends continued efforts in reducing acrylamide in foods.

What Are the Risks of Acrylamide in Our Bodies?

Acrylamide can increase the risk for cancer as it is converted to glycidamide in the body which is known to cause DNA damage and mutations of cells (in laboratory studies on rats). Further studies are needed to determine the effect in humans, but it is currently listed as a carcinogen due to the studies done to date. Acrylamide can cause neurological damage at high levels in the human body as well.

Conclusion

While the entire risks of acrylamide are not yet fully known, it is well-accepted that acrylamide is a carcinogen, and therefore should be avoided. This means you should reduce or eliminate your consumption of fried carbohydrate-rich foods like french fries, which are also bad for you because of the high fat and calorie content. Instead, focus on a more a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients and contains more fruits and vegetables.

10 Benefits of Positive Thinking

Benefits of Positive Thinking

We’ve been told since we were young to think positive, be optimistic, dream big, and good things will happen. While these may sound like cliches, there are actually quite a number of benefits you’ll get if you think positively. In this article, we will enumerate 10 benefits of positive thinking.

Benefits of Positive Thinking

1. Positivity improves quality of life

Improving your outlook makes you enjoy life more and makes you feel that your life is more worthwhile. Positivity improves your happiness and enjoyment of life in general.

2. Positive thinking gives you confidence

Benefits of Positive ThinkingWhen you are positive about yourself and what you can achieve, your self-confidence is boosted at the same time. When you believe in yourself and your potential achievements, you tend to look at solutions and not problems and often end up reaching your goals.

3. Positive thinking improves your self-esteem

Higher confidence levels, a better outlook, and looking at yourself in a positive light improves your sense of self-worth.

4. Positive thinking makes for a happier life

Benefits of Positive ThinkingWhen you spend more time looking at the positives as opposed to the negatives, you tend to be happier. When you are happier, your outlook improves further and you experience a greater sense of well-being.

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The Importance of Skin Care

Skin Care

We all know that our skin is the largest organ on our bodies and it helps protect everything that lies beneath it. While this aspect is vastly important, for most people, the appearance of the skin is what the focus tends to be for most people. Here are a few skin care tips to reduce the ravages of time and keep your skin looking great for longer.

Why Is Skin Care Important?

Skin Care
Skin Care

We shed skin cells constantly as the cells die and are replaced by the body. This means that you need to actually work at keeping your skin and body healthy on a daily basis. Your skin might look lovely today, but it may not be as healthy tomorrow if you don’t maintain a daily skin care routine.

Dry, wrinkly skin may not be quite as appealing as youthful, line-free skin, but poor skin care, time, health and the environment do tend to have some effect on the appearance of our skin.

How to Take Care of Your Skin

Skin Care
Skin Care

Taking care of your skin on a daily basis will help avoid issues such as dark marks, permanent blemishes, and scars on your skin. Existing marks and blemishes can be treated to reduce their appearance before they become permanent.

Avoid damage from the sun by using a good quality sunscreen when you are out in the sun for any length of time. The sooner you start practicing a good skin care routine, the less chance there will be of long term damage to the skin.

When you decide to practice a good skin care routine, this can also carry over to benefit your health in general. A skin care routine is more than just cleansing, toning and moisturizing. You need to eat healthy and hydrate your body well in order to keep your skin healthy and glowing.

Good skin care also includes regular cleansing to remove oils and unblock the pores. Those with drier skin can also benefit from a good moisturizer. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which is a hydrator, and retinol, which is derived from vitamin A and can help with fine lines and wrinkles.

Tailor Your Skin Care to Your Skin

Everyone’s skin is not the same. While it plays the same role, your skin may be very different to the next person. Tailor your skin care routine to your specific skin type to ensure your skin stays blemish free and healthy looking.

Some people have naturally oily skin and can benefit from cleansing the skin (especially the face) more often with astringents such as witch hazel and alcohol combinations. Others have drier skin. This type of skin is best treated with quality moisturizers after cleansing.

Keep the Future in Mind

Skin Care
Skin Care

A good skincare routine means that your skin will keep looking great for years to come if you keep it up. While your skin may look good now even without a skin care routine, you may be doing harm to your skin that will only show up in the future. Make sure that any skin problems are dealt with as they occur. Neglecting your skin now may mean a lot more serious problems when you are older.

Conclusion

Maintaining the healthy appearance of your skin means that you need to start taking care of your skin as soon as possible. Keeping your body healthy and maintaining a good skin care routine, including cleaning the skin well and moisturizing effectively, are all factors that will keep your skin glowing and youthful looking for longer. If you want to buy the best high-quality skin care products, please click here.

How to Breathe Properly – Breathing Exercises and Techniques

How to Breathe Properly

How to Breathe Properly
How to Breathe Properly

As babies, we all knew how to breathe properly. But as we grew older, leading a stressful lifestyle can cause us to lose that ability. As a result, most of us breathe in a dysfunctional way. Dysfunctional breathing can make us feel winded during physical and mental exertion. And one reason for feeling fatigue is not getting enough oxygen through our breath. The good news is, it’s easy to rectify this situation through breathing exercises to learn how to breathe properly again.

How to Breathe Properly

Benefits of Breathing Properly

• Reduces Stress

Breathing exercises are an effective way to reduce stress. It just requires practice and commitment on your part in order to achieve results. Shift your awareness to your breath whenever you’re facing a stressful situation. The long-term benefits of proper breathing are well worth the effort; a person with a relaxed body and mind is less prone to health issues.

• Clears the Mind

Paying too much attention to negative thoughts can cause anxiety and unhappiness. Breathing influences physiology, moods, and thought processes. If you’re feeling a bit anxious and need something to calm you down, focusing on breathing can help you relax and bring clarity to your mind.

• Enlightenment

How to Breathe Properly
How to Breathe Properly

Breathing is an important aspect of yoga and meditation. You can achieve an enlightened state by just paying attention to the rising and falling of your breath. Focus on breathing in and breathing out, and feel what it’s like to be dimensionless. By doing so, you can relax and change your state of awareness.

Breathing Exercises

1. Stimulating Breath

This exercise is adapted from yoga breathing techniques, with the goal of raising energy and alertness.

  1. Inhale and exhale quickly through your nose with

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10 Best Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Best Ways to Relieve Stress

We all deal with stress. It may arise from work, family, finances, or personal relationships. Stress is a part of everyday living. However, excessive stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Don’t let that happen. Try these 10 best ways to relieve stress and anxiety.

1. Listen to music

Best Ways to Relieve Stress
Best Ways to Relieve Stress

Music can have a positive effect on your mood and mental state. In particular, listening to relaxing music can help calm you down. It can lower blood pressure, and reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Keeping music playing in the background while doing daily activities is an effective way to reduce stress levels.

2. Talk to a friend

When you’re feeling stressed, talk to a friend or loved one so you can share your problems. A reassuring voice can help you put everything in perspective. During stressful times, having a shoulder to lean on can ease the burden.

3. Reduce your caffeine intake

Best Ways to Relieve Stress
Best Ways to Relieve Stress

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, chocolate, tea, and energy drinks. In high doses, it can increase stress and anxiety. People react differently to caffeine. If you think that caffeine makes you more anxious, consider cutting back.

4. Write

Writing down your thoughts is another way to cope with stress. When something is bothering you, or you feel bogged down with some emotional stress, write about it in a notebook or journal. It is a judgment-free place to get out all your thoughts, worries, emotions, and feelings. Writing can help you find out what is causing your stress and figure out how to deal with it.

5. Do something you enjoy

Best Ways to Relieve Stress
Best Ways to Relieve Stress

Making time to do something you find enjoyable can help you relax. Try a hobby (such as gardening), a creative activity (such as writing, art, or crafts), caring for pets, or better yet, try doing volunteer work in your community.

6. Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause stress. For most of us, if we don’t get seven to eight hours of sleep each day, it affects the ability of both the body and the mind to handle various types of stress. To help you sleep better, turn the TV off, dim the lights, and give yourself some time to relax before going to bed.

7. Be organized

Often, stress arises from feeling overwhelmed with work. To counteract this, use a planner to keep track of your tasks. Additionally, clean and organize your desk so you can manage paperwork more efficiently. Being organized can help you break tasks into manageable pieces and focus on the things that are important.

8. Get regular exercise

Best Ways to Relieve Stress
Best Ways to Relieve Stress

Physical activity releases endorphins that can help improve your mood. To manage stress better, get your blood circulating by doing regular exercise. Pick up some weights, head for a bike ride, or play sports to gain physical and mental health.

9. Change your environment

If making little changes isn’t enough, consider moving to a completely new environment, i.e., look for a new job, school, or neighborhood. Having a new environment can help you get away from your stressors and allow you to recover.

10. Practice meditation

Best Ways to Relieve Stress
Best Ways to Relieve Stress

This has been proven to relieve stress remarkably. Various meditation techniques can calm your mind to help you focus better and think more clearly. The concept of “mindfulness” is a meditative and somatic approach to mental health and is used in modern psychotherapy. From yoga, tai chi, to Pilates, mindfulness training incorporates physical and mental exercises to hep alleviate stress.

Conclusion

Consider these tips to reduce stress and anxiety. Find what works for you and practice them when faced with stressful situations. With this in mind, together with a positive attitude, you can rise above whatever it is that’s causing you stress and focus on the things that will make you happy.

5 Health Benefits of Meditation

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a practice wherein an individual focuses on a particular thought, object, or activity to achieve a clear and peaceful state of mind. It has been practiced in numerous traditions and beliefs since ancient times. Meditation is all about having a healthy sense of perspective. There are many health benefits of meditation, some of which are discussed below.

The recent popularity of mindfulness, which is the process of bringing one’s attention to what is happening at the current moment, can also be developed and improved through the practice of meditation.

Benefits of Meditation

1. Reduce Stress

Benefits of Meditation
Benefits of Meditation

Stress reduction is a common reason why people try meditation. Mental and physical stress cause the levels of the stress hormone cortisol to increase. It can produce negative effects, such as poor sleep, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, fatigue and cloudy thinking.

One study suggests that a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” can reduce the inflammatory response caused by stress. Meditation can also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

2. Improve Sleep

Nearly half of the population experience insomnia at some point in their lives. One study divided participants into two groups. One group practiced meditation, while the other did not. Participants who practiced meditation fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who did not meditate.

Meditation can help people control runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia. In addition, it can help your body relax, releasing tension and placing you in a state in which you are more likely to fall asleep.

3. Can Decrease Blood Pressure

Benefits of Meditation
Benefits of Meditation

High blood pressure makes the heart work harder, which can lead to poor heart function. It also contributes to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), which can lead to a heart attack. Meditation is beneficial because it induces relaxation, causing blood vessels to open up and blood pressure to drop.

A study concluded that meditation produced improvements in blood pressure. Meditation seems to control blood pressure by relaxing nerve signals that coordinate heart function, tension in blood vessels, and the fight-or-flight response (which increases alertness during stressful situations).

4. Help Control Pain

Pain perception is connected to one’s state of mind and may be elevated during stressful situations. One study used MRI techniques to observe brain activity as participants experienced a painful stimulus. Some of the participants had gone through days of mindfulness meditation training, while others did not.

The meditating participants showed increased activity in the part of the brain known to control pain. More importantly, they reported less sensitivity to pain. Another study looked at the effects of meditation in 3,500 participants. It found that meditation was associated with reduced frequency of intermittent and chronic pain.

5. Promote Emotional Health

Benefits of Meditation
Benefits of Meditation

Some forms of meditation promote a more positive outlook on life and an improved self-image. In times of stress, inflammatory chemicals called cytokines are released. These chemicals affect mood and can contribute to depression. Meditation can lessen the effects of depression by reducing cytokines.

One controlled study compared the brain electrical activity of people who practiced mindfulness meditation and those who did not. Those who practiced meditation showed changes in activity in areas related to optimism and positive thinking. Simply put, people who practice mindfulness meditation are less likely to experience depression.

Conclusion

These are just some of the health benefits of meditation. Meditation also has other benefits such as improved concentration, cessation of bad habits, and increased feeling of happiness. Try it for yourself. Improve your health and well-being by practicing meditation today.