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    Fitness

    Perimenopause What is it and how does it Affect You?

    Jun 26, 2022 |
    Oh, the wonderful world of womanhood! Puberty, menstruation pains, labor and menopause are all stages of a woman’s life. Menopause is not another curse, it’s a beautiful part of a woman’s maturity. Just like grey hair and wisdom, menopause is a sign of elegant age. Perimenopause are the signs and symptoms of menopause well before your period stops. This stage of “pre” menopause occurs as early as the 40’s.   You will know that you’re transitioning into this stage once you start experiencing some of these symptoms. Hot Flashes, Breast tenderness, irregular periods, mood swings, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, urine leakage, lower libido, urinary urgency, and a worsening symptom of PMS are symptoms of menopause. It’s kind of odd that they sound like symptoms of someone who is either pregnant or PMSing. If you want to be sure that you are experiencing perimenoausal symptoms then get a blood test to check your hormone levels.   Even though you may have an increase of symptoms does not mean that you are infertile. That’s right! You can still become pregnant! If you want to get pregnant then there are fertility enhancing treatment that can help you get there before you become menopausal.     If you want to alleviate some of the menopausal symptoms then take some herbs to help balance your hormones. Black Cohosh is a wonderful herb for the uterus. It reduces cramps and discomfort. It alleviates hot flashes, reduces cholesterol, and blood pressure. Take about a ½ teaspoon of tincture twice daily or capsule form of 250mg 2-4 times a day. Chaste tree which is a dried fruit is a hormone balancer used to fight depression from menopause. 300-600mg tables or ½ teaspoon daily should do the trick. I prefer taking it powder form mixed in juice so that I can cut out the ingredients added to the capsule. It also goes straight into my body versus waiting for the capsule to dissolve.   When you’re on the road then yes, the capsule is convenient. Dandelion is one of my favorite roots to take. It regulates bowel movements; it’s great for the liver and will help your liver when it’s under stress from all of the crazy hormones. You can drink it in tea form 2-3 times a day or 1,000-3,000mg capsules, or take 1-2 tsp of dandelion daily. Who would’ve known the white fuzzy flowers you enjoyed blowing into the wind as a kid would be something that would be beneficial to your body later?   ...

    What to Expect at a Natural Yoga Class

    Jun 26, 2022 |
    Bikram yoga is also sometimes called hot yoga. Once you step into the classroom, you’ll immediately see why – you practice Bikram yoga in a room that’s heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity.   Why so hot? Well, the room is hot for several reasons. First, the heat, especially in combination with the exercises, makes you sweat. This helps you release any toxins that may be built up in your body. Second, a warm room helps keep your muscles limber and relaxed, which may allow you to stretch farther with less work and less risk of injury. Bikram yoga is also a cardiovascular activity – the heat increases your heart rate. This allows you to get a cardiovascular workout that’s low impact and less jarring to the joints.   A Natural Yoga Class lasts about 90 minutes, possibly 2 hours for advanced students. During this time, you’ll go through a series of 26 specific yoga poses. Every class uses the same poses in the same order. This particular sequence is designed to provide a tourniquet effect – restricting blood flow to certain areas during certain poses – which is then released to strengthen the heart and “flush” the arteries and lymphatic system. The poses are also accompanied by pranayama breaths that are designed to bring feelings of serenity and peace, while also increasing blood flow.   Bikram yoga is strenuous exercise. As such, it helps reduce stress and benefits the body in other ways. Regular practitioners usually have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, lower cholesterol levels, and fewer incidents of insomnia.   If you plan to take a Natural Yoga Class, you should first check with your doctor or health care provider to make sure that the class will not be too strenuous for you. If your doctor isn’t familiar with Bikram yoga, make sure he or she knows that the class is taught in a heated room. If you aren’t ready yet, start with one of the less intense forms of yoga and work your way up to this challenging class. During the class, be sure to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after class. Avoid drinking caffeine-containing beverages before and after class, as they can contribute to dehydration. It’s also a good idea not to eat immediately before any strenuous exercise.     In terms of clothing, you’ll want to wear snug clothing, preferably those that are designed to wick moisture away from your body. For women, a sports bra and spandex shorts are a good choice. For men, spandex shorts and a t-shirt will work. Be sure to bring a large towel to class, along with your large bottle of water. You’ll be sweating and so will your classmates. If you have a problem with this, then this isn’t the style of yoga for you.   Another word of caution. While the heat can help your muscles remain limber, it can also tempt you into thinking that you’re more flexible than you might actually be. When practicing yoga you should feel a stretch, but you should never push to the point of pain. Don’t put yourself at risk of injury by overdoing it.   If at any time during the class you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated, or if you have a headache, take a break and drink some water. All of these feelings can be signs of dehydration. Next time, make sure you drink more water before class and during the entire class to help avoid dehydration.   After class, allow yourself to cool down before you take a shower – you don’t want to shock your body by cooling it off too quickly.   ...

    Understanding the Glycemic Index

    Jun 26, 2022 |
    Basically, the glycemic index is a measure of how certain foods affect your blood sugar, making it a popular tool for managing diabetes and weight in general. For diabetics, keeping a stable blood sugar level is essential to maintain health and avoid the many complications elevated blood sugar can cause, from neuropathy to kidney damage and more. For dieters, keeping the blood sugar level in a normal range helps prevent the storage of fat and allows the body to more easily use up the excess energy stores it already has, which means burning and losing fat.   In general, the higher the glycemic index of a food, the higher a food raises the blood sugar. The lower the glycemic index, the less impact it has on blood sugar. Generally speaking, proteins and fats don’t affect the blood sugar, only carbohydrates.   When the glycemic index was being developed, test subjects were fed various foods and then had their blood sugar levels measured. The resulting glycemic index number was based on an average response, as no two people react exactly alike to different foods. The glycemic index number of 100 was assigned to plain white table sugar and all other foods were ranked either above or below that number depending on how they compared.   If you haven’t read much about the glycemic index, you may be surprised to find out that there are foods that can raise your blood sugar even higher than eating plain white table sugar! The widely accepted wisdom that complex carbohydrates are better for you than simple carbohydrates gets turned on its ear when you factor in the glycemic index – some foods, such as baked potatoes, can be as bad for you in terms of elevated blood sugar as candy.     Generally speaking though, foods are considered to be low, medium or high in terms of the glycemic index. The lowest foods are lean protein sources and fats. These foods have minimal effect on blood sugar. Foods in their natural state usually have a lower glycemic index than they do if they’re processed. Even potatoes, which have a high glycemic index to begin with, go even higher when they’re processed into potato chips. The same thing happens with whole grains. Whole grains may have a low or moderate glycemic index ranking, but they more they’re refined and processed – turned into white flour, for example – the higher their glycemic index ranking climbs.   There’s one additional term you may hear when studying the glycemic index, and that’s the glycemic load. This is a measure not just of an individual food, but of how a meal or combination of foods affects you. There are certain things known to slow or lessen the glycemic index of a food. For example, if you eat a carbohydrate food like brown rice alone, it will impact your blood sugar faster and make it go higher than if you eat that same brown rice with a pat of butter and some baked chicken along side. And since we seldom eat foods one at a time, knowing about the glycemic load can be helpful, even if the math can be a bit cumbersome.   Overall, if you eat only foods that have a glycemic index of 50 or less, you’ll be eating a low glycemic diet. If you’re a diabetic, you should be aware that reducing the glycemic index of the foods you eat can dramatically decrease your need for insulin. However, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and decrease your glycemic index gradually to avoid problems.   ...

    What is Nutrient Density?

    Jun 26, 2022 |
    If you’ve been paying attention to nutrition news lately, you may have heard the term “nutrient density” floating around. Simply put, nutrient density is a measure of how the nutrients contained in a food stack up against its other qualities – for example, its total calorie content. There are formulas to calculate nutrient density, and with a little information and math, you can determine this exact ratio for any food you eat.   Obviously, a food that gives you a lot of nutrients when compared to its calorie content is a healthier choice than a food that gives you only a few nutrients but a lot of calories. As you might expect, foods that are low in nutrient density are often said to provide empty calories – meaning that they give you lots of calories, but little or no nutrition. If you want to eat nutritiously or lose weight, you need to choose nutrient dense foods.   When you eat nutrient dense foods, you usually get a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, fiber, phytonutrients and a good amount of protein and healthy fats as well. Typically, the closer a food is to its natural state and the less processed it is, the more of its original nutritional content is retained and the more nutrient dense it will be.   As an example, let’s compare one slice of white bread to one slice of 100% whole wheat bread. In terms of calories, the two breads are essentially equivalent, averaging around 70 calories. Both contain about the same amount of carbohydrates – 11.97 grams and 11.56 grams respectively. However, the whole wheat bread has three times the amount of fiber as the white bread – you get more nutrient bang for your buck when you choose the whole wheat product.   For another example, let’s take a look at rice in a natural form – one cup of cooked, long grain brown rice – and in a very processed form; rice krispie squares made from puffed rice cereal with butter and marshmallows. The brown rice has 216 calories, while the rice treat only has 153 calories. However, the rice will give you just over five grams of protein, while the rice treat only has 1.26 grams. The rice will also give you substantially more fiber – 3.5 grams versus .2 grams for the rice treat.     In addition, eating the bowl of rice will give you 20 mgs of calcium, while the rice treat will only give you one. You also get considerably more magnesium and phosphorus with the bowl of whole rice – 84 mgs versus five mgs on the magnesium, and 162 mgs versus 16 mgs on the phosphorus, respectively.   So does the rice treat ever come out ahead? Surprisingly, yes. From the rice treat you’ll get 33 mcg of folic acid, while the brown rice contains none, as well as 6.025 mg of niacin in the treat, whereas the brown rice only contains 2.9. This is because in the United States, grain products are required to be fortified with B vitamins to help prevent birth defects. The B vitamins are added after the fact and aren’t a natural component of the food.   As you can see, there’s a lot to be gained by eating foods closer to their natural state. Not only do they contain more nutrients for their calories, but they’re also generally more satisfying. A bowl of whole grain oatmeal, for example, is far more satisfying than a single oatmeal cookie. In much the same way, an apple is more satisfying and more nutrient dense than a glass of apple juice. If you choose nutrient dense foods, not only will you be more satisfied overall, but you’ll also be giving your body more of what it needs to be healthy.   ...

    Can Certain Foods Help You Get to Sleep?

    Jun 26, 2022 |
    We all have trouble falling asleep from time to time. So wouldn’t it be nice if having a snack could help you fall asleep? It’d certainly be more fun than tossing and turning, and you’d risk fewer side effects than taking a habit-forming sleep medication. Fortunately, there actually are some foods that can help you get to sleep – check out the following information about them.   First things first. If you’re experiencing repeated incidences of insomnia, if you frequently wake up feeling tired or if you often snore and disturb your partner, you need to see your health care provider. Having trouble sleeping can be a sign of a medical problem that should be ruled out as quickly as possible. Waking up feeling tired and snoring, for example, are common symptoms of sleep apnea, which can cause a number of serious conditions, including high blood pressure. For occasional sleep problems, snacking on the right foods can help, although regular problems need to be addressed by your doctor. Got it?   Every day, our bodies produce and use a chemic neurotransmitter called serotonin. If you have enough of this chemical, your sleep is generally deeper and more restful. You can help increase the level of serotonin in your body by eating foods rich in tryptophan. In the body, tryptophan is converted into L-tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin.   Foods that are rich in tryptophan are also usually high in protein. These include milk, cheese, nuts, eggs, soybeans, brown rice, seafood and lean meats, like turkey. You may think that turkey is high in tryptophan, since many people find themselves sleepy after holiday meals that include turkey. However, while turkey does contain as much tryptophan as most other lean meats, it’s more likely the other foods you consume along with the holiday meal, along with the amount of food and the release of stress once the meal is finished, that account for the additional sleepiness. Incidentally, foods rich in tryptophan can also help people who suffer from depression.   Foods rich in carbohydrates can also help you feel sleepy. These include foods like pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.     With this in mind, some examples of snacks that could help you fall asleep include a turkey sandwich with mayonnaise and cheese on whole wheat bread served with a glass of milk. You could also try a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and a piece of fruit. Another good snack would be whole wheat crackers, cheese, dried fruit and a cup of herbal tea – just make sure it’s decaffeinated! Baked potatoes topped with sour cream and cheese can also make a good late snack for encouraging sleeping, while some herbal teas, such as chamomile, are especially soothing.   Whatever food you choose, it’s a good idea not to try to go to bed on a full stomach. It takes between two to four hours for your body to fully digest your food, so plan your dinner time accordingly. In addition, it takes your body about 90 minutes to process liquids – this means that if you want to sleep through the night without having to get up to hit the bathroom, stop drinking fluids about 90 minutes before you go to bed.   And another important note – although you may get drowsy when you drink alcohol, the effect wears off fairly quickly, leaving you restless and awake. You should also avoid foods and beverages containing caffeine – a powerful stimulant that will have you up well past your bedtime if you indulge too late in the evening.   ...

    A Must Read For Those Thinking About Quitting Smoking

    Jun 26, 2022 |
    Most smokers know exactly how long they have been smoking, how they started, and that it is a very difficult habit to quit. A lot of the people who smoke started at a young age. The reasons a person start smoking vary, but a lot of times it was because they grew up in a home where their parents smoked. Other people tried it because they saw their friends do it and felt pressured into it, or because they felt that it made them look cool.   Whatever initially led a person down the path of becoming a smoker, there usually comes a time when a smoker thinks about quitting. The desire to quit smoking usually comes as randomly and unexpectedly as the desire to start did. Usually the smoker is faced with the never ending stream of information about the health dangers that smoking poses. For others it simply comes down to wanting to quit because they find themselves faced with constant reminders of how much money they are spending on a habit that gives them no real return. Finding reasons for wanting to quit is the easy part, it’s the actual quitting that proves to be the hard part.   The first thing that a smoker who wants to quit will realize is that quitting will be a lot easier if they are quitting for themselves. If they try to quit to please another person, or because they are told they have to by their doctor, it will feel like an imposition and will be more difficult. The decision to quit smoking has to come from the smoker’s desire to be finished with the habit, to have any chance of being successful. To increase the odds of being able to kick this habit the smoker has to be ready to live their life every day as a non smoker. This may seem obvious, but for people who have smoked for several years, life as they used to know it is about to change and if they are not ready for that aspect of quitting, their efforts can be foiled very early on.   It is a good idea for the smoker to have a solid plan of action ready for when they are faced with a situation that they know will be a chance for temptation to get the better of them. They should make a list of times and places they find themselves most wanting a cigarette. They should choose a quit date. One to two weeks before the quit date they should start cutting down the number of cigarettes they have on a daily basis. The first cigarettes they should eliminate are the ones they smoke at the same time or at the same place every day. By the time they quit completely, they will already be getting used to being without the cigarettes they enjoyed the most.     Once all cigarettes are stopped there will be some physical withdrawal symptoms that can range from bothersome to extremely uncomfortable depending on how many cigarettes the person had been smoking. They can include constipation, nausea, cold sweats, extreme fatigue, and depression. The worst of these symptoms lasts about a week and start to lesson by the second week. It will be very helpful to be prepared for them by having a gentle stool softener, time for extra sleep, and healthy light foods to snack on.   Feeling better than you have in years will be the light at the end of the dark tunnel of withdrawal and sometimes that’s all it takes to keep going.   ...