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 >

Why Fitness is Important

Women Showing Why Fitness is Important

When we refer to fitness, we usually think of fitness of the body. But fitness can also refer to our state of mind and well-being. Good nutrition and a quality exercise program can help reduce stress and improve overall health. Aside from the health benefits, exercise can also go a long way to improve mental well-being. Being both physically and mentally fit is optimal for good health. In this article, we will discuss why fitness is important for everyone.

Why Fitness is Important

Reduces the Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease

Regular physical activity can help strengthen your cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular disorders. Daily physical activity can also help reduce your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels, which improves your blood circulation and reduces the risks of stroke and peripheral vascular diseases. High levels of body fat are also risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease, and getting physically fit can help reduce excess fat in your body.

Control of Diabetes and Obesity

Doctor Discussing Why Fitness is Important with PatientWhen you ask any expert the reasons why fitness is important, one of the reasons that are brought up almost every time is the reduction in body fat and prevention of risk factors associated with obesity such as metabolic syndrome. Fitness levels can also improve overall metabolism by increasing muscle mass and reducing fat, which helps your body process the nutrition taken in more efficiently. Reduced body fat and improved fitness can also help control non-insulin dependent diabetes.

Fitness Reduces

 . . .  Read more >

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.

FITin56 is a fitness program that will help you achieve that fit and healthy body you’ve always wanted. Sign up now to get on the road to health and fitness!

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.

What Is Organic Food?

What Is Organic Food

Organic foods have increased in popularity over the last decades. Most people believe organic food is healthier, safer, and tastes better than regular food. It’s also a common perception that going organic is good for the environment. But it cannot be denied that there is ongoing debate whether it’s really better to consume organic food. So in this article, we will discuss what is organic food and how it compares to conventional food.

What Is Organic Food?

What Is Organic FoodOrganic food is food produced using methods that meet the standards of organic farming. These standards may vary among different countries. But generally speaking, organic farming involves practices that cycle resources, conserve biodiversity, and promote ecological balance. The use of certain pesticides and fertilizers is not allowed. Processing using irradiation, industrial solvents, and synthetic food additives are also prohibited.

Organic crops are grown from non-GMO seeds and care is taken that no artificial fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, additives or growth regulators are used. This is aimed at reducing the chemical residue in these foods. Planting should be done using only natural fertilizers. Pest control should only be done using biological, environmentally friendly products and homeopathic remedies.

What Is Organic FoodMeanwhile, organic meat should be sourced from free-range animals only, and no growth hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals should be involved in the raising of the animals. Only when these measures are met can food be considered organic. It is very difficult to find true organic meats in the United States, as factory farms are rampant. This is another reason why we strongly recommend going vegan. And don’t forget, by being vegan or vegetarian, you are also not contributing to the suffering that animals experience on factory farms.

How to Know if You Are Buying Organic Food

What Is Organic FoodFood producers selling organic food must meet strict government standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture. When buying organic good, look for the USDA organic seal.

It’s also important to read food labels. Here is what the word “organic” means as used in food products:

• 100% organic – made entirely from organic ingredients.
• Organic – at least 95 percent of ingredients are organic.
• Made with organic – at least 70 percent of ingredients are organic.

If a food product has less than 70% organic ingredients, it can’t use the USDA seal or be labeled organic. Similar standards are enforced in Canada, Australia, and Europe. Different countries have their own seals to aid consumers in identifying organic food.

Is Organic Food Better than Conventional Food?

What Is Organic FoodStudies that attempted to find out whether organic food is more nutritious than conventional food produced mixed results. Some studies reported that organic foods contain more antioxidants and nutrients such as zinc, iron, and vitamin C.

However, other studies concluded that there is not enough evidence to support claims that organic foods are healthier than conventionally grown food. While there may be differences in the nutritional content of organically and conventionally produced food, the variable nature of food production makes it hard to generalize results. Claims that organic foods taste better than normal food are generally not supported by evidence.

Many people buy organic food to avoid chemicals, nitrates, and pesticide residues. But in some cases, environmental and biological pollutants can also be found in organic foods. Therefore, organic food should also always be washed well prior to eating to ensure all pathogens are removed.

Organic foods are generally more expensive due to higher labor costs, specific requirements for land to remain fallow for periods of time, lower yields, higher start-up costs, as well as the cost of getting the accreditation.

What Foods to Always Buy Organic

There are some types of produce that you should always buy organic whenever possible, since non-organic versions of these foods tend to have more pesticides and herbicides and/or the pesticides and herbicides are more difficult to remove by washing. These are often referred to as the Dirty Dozen:

  • What Is Organic FoodApples
  • Celery
  • Cherries

 . . .  Read more >

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.

 . . .  Read more >

How to Lose Belly Fat

How to Lose Belly Fat

When you think of belly fat, you may think of how your lower abdomen looks in a swimsuit or think of the reason why your jeans are a bit tight. But belly fat is a lot more than that. Belly fat can actually be harmful to your health.

Visceral fat, which belly fat falls under, is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Your risk is not only determined by your Body Mass Index (BMI), but more by the excess fat you carry — such as belly fat. You may even appear to be thin but still carry some visceral fat. So do you want to know how to lose belly fat?

Tips on How to Lose Belly Fat

1. Fiber, fiber, fiber. Can we stress

 . . .  Read more >

What Is Physical Fitness? The Components of Physical Fitness

Yoga as a Great Way to Develop Physical Fitness

What is physical fitness? Physical fitness is a measure of the body’s ability to function effectively in daily activities, work, and sports. It is a person’s overall state of health and well-being. However, physical fitness can be difficult to achieve, especially with today’s modern and stressful lifestyles. Most people don’t get the chance to do enough exercise and be physically active. To help you get fit, we will discuss the various components of physical fitness

Components of Physical Fitness

Some people exercise only when they have time to spare. Others exercise without a specific fitness program in place. But to successfully achieve your fitness goals, you must first understand the components of physical fitness.

1. Cardiovascular Endurance

Man Running on a Track for Building Endurance, which is One of The Components of Physical Fitness

This involves proper functioning of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It is the ability of your body to deliver nutrients and oxygen to tissues and remove metabolic waste products. Physical activities intended for cardiorespiratory endurance focus on repetitive, prolonged, and dynamic movements using major muscle groups.

The most common tests used to assess cardiovascular endurance are the Cooper Run (running as far as possible within 12 minutes) and the Step Test (stepping up and down on a platform for 5 minutes). Some examples of cardiovascular exercise include jogging, running, cycling, hiking, and swimming.

2. Muscular Strength

Pair of Dumbbells which can be Used for Building Physical Strength as One of The Components of Physical Fitness

Muscle strength is defined as the ability of the muscles to lift weight and carry heavy objects. Without muscular strength, the body would become weak and less capable of doing physical tasks.

Doing weight training exercises regularly can help increase muscle strength. The heavier the weight, the fewer the reps. Examples of exercises for muscular strength include squats, bicep curls, and bench presses.

3. Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of the body to do repeated exercises without getting tired. The muscles should be able to perform contractions for an extended period. If you can perform more repetitions of a strength training exercise without resting, then it can be said that you have good muscular endurance.

Rather than just lifting something for a few seconds, muscles are used for several minutes. To train for muscular endurance, perform many repetitions using lighter weights. Some exercises that you can do to develop muscle endurance include cross-training, sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups.

4. Flexibility

Man Performing Tai Chi for Flexibility, One of The Components of Physical Fitness

Flexibility is one of the important, yet overlooked aspects of physical fitness. It is the ability of the joints to move through their full range of motion. Without flexibility, muscles and joints will become stiff and movement would become limited.

Flexibility training allows you to move without pain or stiffness. Two ways to improve flexibility are dynamic stretching (holding a stretch for a few seconds and repeating it several times) and static stretching (holding a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds). Some flexibility exercises that you can do include yoga and Tai Chi.

5. Body Composition

Woman Showing a Fit Body as Part of Physical Fitness

Body composition is the ratio of fat to muscle. A person’s body type, height, and weight are taken into consideration. A person who is fit has minimal fat and maximum lean mass. To give you an idea, a 100-pound person with a 25% body fat composition will have a lean body mass of 75 pounds.

To qualify as fit, men should have a body fat composition lower than 17%. For women, it should be lower than 24%. Aside from exercising regularly, it’s also important to pay close attention to your diet.

Importance of Physical Fitness

Weight

 . . .  Read more >

Minerals for the Body – Why You Need to Consume Minerals

Minerals for the Body

Why do we need minerals for the body? The answer is simple – the body cannot produce all the nutrients that it needs to function properly, so we have to eat foods that contain them. Minerals are inorganic substances that occur naturally in plants, animals, and non-living things. Like vitamins, minerals support normal growth and development. There are two types of minerals for the body – macrominerals and trace minerals.

Macrominerals are needed in relatively large amounts. Examples include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Meanwhile, trace minerals also need to be consumed, but in smaller quantities. Iron, manganese, zinc, copper, iodine, fluoride, and selenium are some examples of trace minerals.

Minerals for the Body

Macrominerals

Minerals for the Body
Minerals for the Body

Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the body. It helps build strong bones and teeth. In addition, it plays an important role in the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, nerve impulse transmission, and muscle contraction. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, and green leafy vegetables.

Phosphorus is essential for growth, maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. It is also needed in producing proteins the body needs. Some examples of foods that contain phosphorus are eggs, meat, nuts, fish, poultry, and legumes.

Magnesium boosts immunity, supports muscle and nerve function, and keeps the heart beating regularly. Also, it helps balance calcium levels, stimulate enzymes, and contribute to energy production. Good sources of magnesium include beans, nuts, whole grains, almonds, and green leafy vegetables.

Sodium helps maintain blood pressure and plays an essential role in muscle and nerve function. The most common type of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride). Sodium occurs naturally in foods like celery, beets, and milk.

Minerals for the Body
Minerals for the Body

Potassium controls electrical activity of the heart. The body also needs it to break down and use carbohydrates, build proteins, and maintain the pH balance of the blood. Furthermore, this mineral supports muscular and digestive functions. Meats, salmon, legumes, potatoes, and dairy products are good sources of potassium.

Chloride balances the fluids in the body and plays an important role in the production of digestive juices. Some examples of foods that contain chloride include lettuce, rye, olives, and tomatoes.

Trace Minerals

Iron is an integral part of hemoglobin found in red blood cells which provide oxygen to the body tissues. Iron rich foods include eggs, dried fruits, beans, and leafy green vegetables.

Zinc promotes a healthy immune system and also contributes to cell growth. Good sources of zinc include beef, pork, nuts, and legumes.

Manganese helps the body make connective tissue, bones, sex hormones, and blood clotting factors. The best sources of manganese are pineapples, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Minerals for the Body
Minerals for the Body

Copper helps keep the immune and nervous systems healthy. Foods that contain copper include seafood, black pepper, legumes, organ meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Iodine helps the body make thyroid hormones that play an important role in growth and development. Good sources of iodine are spinach, Swiss chard, lima beans, summer squash, turnip green and sesame seeds.

Fluoride keeps the teeth strong and helps maintain bone structure. Aside from fluoridated water, other sources of fluoride are tea, gelatin, and seafood.

Selenium helps the immune system function better and plays an essential role in thyroid function too. Butter, garlic, sunflower seeds, and Brazil nuts contain significant amounts of selenium.

Conclusion

While different types of minerals for the body are required in varying amounts, they’re all essential. They are important for a healthy immune system, bones, blood, nerve function, metabolic processes, and much more. Our bodies need minerals to work properly and are therefore important to our overall health. If you want to supplement your daily intake of minerals, 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

 . . .  Read more >