The 3 things that could turn your health around
Theresa Albert, Toronto Star
If there were three simple things that you could do every day that would virtually turn your health around, would you do them? What if all three were easy to do, did not take any time and cost you exactly nothing?
Any one of these habits will help you live healthier and longer and take years off the appearance of aging skin. Together they are the secret to transforming your inner universe. Are you ready? Of course you are!
Life Altering Tip #1: Add half a cup of beans to your diet each day.
There is now sound evidence that it takes one small serving to make a world of difference in your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Beans and pulses can come in any form and need no longer be the overnight-soaking-pain-in-the-pants they used to be. Here are some ways to work beans in:
- Serve hummus (made from chick peas) as a dip for an afternoon snack. Hummus comes in a variety of flavors so you will never get bored. Add a tablespoon to every wrap and sandwich instead of mayo.
- Add drained, rinsed canned beans to any pasta dish. White navy beans and lentils work best.
- Make a crockpot full of lentil or minestrone soup weekly and store in the freezer in single servings for lunches or appetizers
- Top salads with canned kidney beans or chick peas.
- Look for bean-based veggie burgers instead of beef burgers
- Snack on roasted soybeans instead of nuts or popcorn
Life Altering Tip #2: Remove liquid calories
The brain does not process liquid calories the same way it processes calories that must be chewed. When you chew, your human internal food mechanism indicates satiety, when you sip...nada. If you added up all the useless calories that come by way of cream and sugar in your coffee, sodas, alcohol and even juices, you would likely find 300 calories each day that you could do without. And don’t go switching to aspartame-laden beverages; they are even worse! Try this juice substitute instead.
Just Breathe: Confirming Meditations Benefits
Michael Haederle, Pacific Standard
Plenty of followers swear by meditation to cure a long list of ails. But how does it work? Neuroscientist Clifford Saron, of the University of California, Davis, and a Who’s Who of peers, are spending millions to find out.
IN THE SPRING OF 1985 THINGS STARTED TO GO WRONG. A jittery teenager held a pistol to my wife’s head and robbed us a few blocks from our home in Houston. A few months later, I had too much to drink at a party and felt as though I was asphyxiating. At the emergency room, they decided I was just hyperventilating but the next morning I woke up feeling disoriented, with tingling extremities. Our doctor thought I had mononucleosis, so I spent the next three weeks resting, obsessing about what was wrong. Before long, I was taking antidepressants and seeing a therapist. We spent months unraveling the skein of childhood dysfunction I had long taken for granted. Divorced parents? Check. Domestic violence? Check. Catholic upbringing? Check. Therapy gave me a deeper understanding of what made me tick, but brought little relief. I still spent most of my waking hours registering every wayward thought and physical sensation.
One day I came across a copy of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, by Joan Borysenko. A biologist and psychologist, Borysenko had collaborated at Harvard with Herbert Benson, who in the late 1960s began investigating how mental states can affect physical well-being. Her book, published in 1987, perfectly described the intense anxiety I’d been experiencing. The author suggested something novel: sit down, relax the belly, and follow the breath as it comes and goes; when a thought arises, let it go and return to following the breath. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try. And for the first time in two and a half years I found some respite, some intervals of feeling whole and relaxed.
Curious about the roots of meditative practice, I started reading about Buddha’s quest to diagnose the cause of human suffering, and came across the idea that we suffer because we are attached—we always want things to be other than the way they are. Soon I was pulling out a cushion every morning and evening to meditate for 30 minutes. I certainly felt better, yet I couldn’t help wondering why meditation “worked.” How might modern science explain the benefits of a mind-focusing technique taught 2,400 years ago by an Indian spiritual teacher? It turned out that a lot of scientists wondered the same thing.
To read the full article: http://www.psmag.com/health/just-breathe-42763/
Seniors' sexuality explored at Guelph conference
GUELPH — Afternoon naps aren’t the only activity underneath the quilts at retirement homes, according to one expert at the Guelph Sexuality Conference.
Valerie Barr, training centre manager of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, discussed the current attitudes, beliefs and practices surrounding aging and sexuality on Friday with a room of around thirty interested professionals, students, and researchers in the field of senior sexuality.
“This is the topic that needs to be talked about,” said Barr. She noted that faulty perceptions of seniors and sex – such as having no desire, needing pharmaceuticals, or risking injury – are one of the major pitfalls to talking about the issue.
With the cultural message that sex among seniors is not attractive, Barr said that seniors often internalize that and feel shame that they feel the way they do. Further, she said widowed men or women shouldn’t feel like they will never experience sex again.
“We are sexual beings from birth to death,” she said. “Whether they have a partner is not the key.”
Barr said it’s important to define sexuality broadly, not as just intercourse, but as a holistic view of wellness in body, mind, and spirit.
“Make sure it is on the agenda, and that it’s not just the absence of problems,” said Barr. “I think that’s the most challenging for us. We can get really medical, easily. But to actually talk about desire is important.”
Even if seniors aren’t willing to talk about sex, and many aren’t, Barr said, it’s still happening.
According to a University of Chicago study, 54 per cent of those aged 75 to 85 reported having sex at least two to three times per month, with 23 per cent having sex once a week or more.
With many of the older adults, who simply learned by doing, their awareness of sexually transmitted infections can be lower. Many fail to use condoms because they aren’t worried about pregnancy. In fact, HIV rates in those aged 50 and older rose from 7.5 per cent in 1995 to 13.5 per cent in 2005, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. This coincides with the low rate of condom use – just 13.2 per cent – reported among older women.
Additionally, gay and lesbian seniors often face discrimination, much like younger homosexual individuals. Barr said health care practitioners often are unaware of their needs and the seniors continue to face a variety of discriminatory attitudes and practices in a system that is unprepared to address their reality.
To read the full article: http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/local/article/736048--seniors-sexuality-explored-at-guelph-conference
The Last Diet You Will Ever Need
Mark Hyman, MD, Huffington Post Canada
Why is it that we believe we can feed our bodies industrial, nutrient-depleted food-like substances empty of life and be healthy? How did we come to believe that food industry chemicals and processing could replace nature-made foods?
A hundred years ago all food was organic, local, seasonal, fresh or naturally-preserved by ancient methods. All food was food. Now less than 3 percent of our agricultural land is used to grow fruits and vegetables, which should make up 80 percent of our diet. Today there are not even enough fruits and vegetables in this country to allow all Americans to follow the government guidelines to eat five to nine servings a day.
What most of us are left with is industrial food. And who knows what lurks in the average boxed, packaged, or canned factory-made science project.
When a French fry has more than 20 ingredients and almost all of them are not potato, or when a fast food hamburger contains very little meat, or when the average teenager consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, we are living in a food nightmare, a sci-fi horror show.
The very fact that we are having a national conversation about what we should eat, that we are struggling with the question about what the best diet is, is symptomatic of how far we have strayed from the natural conditions that gave rise to our species, from the simple act of eating real, whole, fresh food. When it becomes a revolutionary act to eat real food, we are in trouble.
The food industry, which is the second biggest employer in America after the federal government, heavily influences the media and government agencies that regulate it (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Congress) and intentionally confuses and confounds us.
Low-fat is good -- so anything with a "low-fat" on the label must be healthy. But Coke is 100 percent fat-free and that doesn't make it a health food. Now we are told to eat more whole grains, so a few flecks of whole grains are sprinkled on sugary cereals. That doesn't make them a health food either.
The best advice is to avoid foods with health claims on the label, or better yet avoid foods with labels in the first place.
In the 21st century our tastes buds, our brain chemistry, our biochemistry, our hormones and our kitchens have been hijacked by the food industry. The food-like substances proffered by the industrial food system food trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure, but not our biology, which reacts, rejects and reviles the junk plied on our genes and our hormonal and biochemical pathways. We need to unjunk our biology.
Industrial processing has given rise to an array of addictive, fattening, metabolism-jamming chemicals and compounds including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, to name the biggest offenders.
MSG is used to create fat mice so researchers can study obesity. MSG is an excito-toxin that stimulates your brain to eat uncontrollably. When fed to mice, they pig out and get fat. It is in 80 percent of processed foods and mostly disguised as "natural flavorings."
And trans fat, for example, is derived from a real food -- vegetable oil -- chemically altered to resist degradation by bacteria, which is why modern cookies last on the shelf for years.
But the ancient energy system of your cells is descended from bacteria and those energy factories, or mitochondria, cannot process these trans fats either. Your metabolism is blocked and weight gain and Type 2 diabetes ensue.
Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot, and the result is the disaster of obesity and chronic disease we have in America today.
To read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/food-industry_b_1559920.html?ref=fb&ir=Canada+Living&icid=maing-grid7%7Ccanada-toshiba%7Cdl5%7Csec1_lnk2&pLid=166689&src=sp&comm_ref=false
Stress, Willpower, and Wanting What You Want to Want
Jeremy McCarthy, Positive Psychology News Daily
The American Psychological Association recently commissioned some research on stress and willpower in America to understand American perceptions of stress and the motivation to make lifestyle and behavior changes. Almost everyone that they surveyed (93%) had goals to change some aspect of their behavior in 2012. Lack of willpower is the top reason people give for falling short of their goals.
As you might expect, most of the goals people set are around improving health. In the last 5 years almost everyone has set one or more health goals including to eat better (77%), exercise more (75%), lose weight (66%), reduce stress (60%), or get more sleep (58%).
In spite of all of these noble goals, the APA’s research suggests that less than half of adults who recognize a needed change in lifestyle are able to maintain the change. There is good news for those wanting to cut back on alcohol because this is the exception. Quitting smoking and reducing stress seem to be the two hardest lifestyle factors to modify.
Why is change so difficult?
The #1 barrier to change that the Americans in the survey cited was a lack of willpower (27%.) But it is interesting to note that not having enough time is growing year over year as a perceived barrier. It is up to 26% in 2011 from 22% in 2010 and 20% in 2009. Time and willpower seem to be related since time was the number one thing respondents felt could help them to be more disciplined about behavior change. This makes sense since reducing time pressure does seem to be better for health.
But if willpower is the biggest barrier to overcome, this is good news, since scientists such as Roy Baumeister have shown that willpower can be developed with exercise. “Like a muscle,” Baumeister would say. About 71% of the adults surveyed believed that willpower can be learned so most people are not constrained by their own self-limiting beliefs.
So what’s missing?
Why isn’t change easier? The answer seems to be motivation.
The participants who reported the highest levels of motivation were significantly more likely to be successful. It should be noted that participants reported that all or most of their motivation comes from within. Only 12% had the motivation of a family member, friend, or health care provider as the driving force.
To read the full article: http://positivepsychologynews.com/news/jeremy-mccarthy/2012060522562
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