Everyone knows that a good night's sleep gives you energy, reduces levels of mental health disorders, and gives the body time to repair itself. In addition to the more obvious benefits, there are a host of lesser-known advantages that solid rest provides. Here are three surprising things that a good night of sleep can do for you.
May Prevent Cancer
Research has shown that inadequate sleep may lead to certain types of cancer. Experts believe that too much light exposure reduces the amount of melatonin in the body. It is this hormone that regulates your body's natural circadian rhythm and protects against cancer by suppressing tumor growth. You can help your body to produce quality levels of melatonin by keeping your bedroom dark and by limiting the use of electronic devices before going to sleep.
Help You Lose Weight
People who do not get enough sleep each night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is believed that this happens because inadequate sleep negatively affects the natural balance of hormones in the body that impact the appetite. A lack of solid sleep disrupts the hormones ghrelin and leptin. It is these two hormones that affect your appetite. Getting a full night's rest even helps with overeating. A body that is deprived of adequate sleep will produce more cortisol, causing you to crave more food. Making an effort to stay true to your body's natural sleep cycle will help you to keep off the pounds.
That fogginess in your brain may be attributed to a lack of sleep. Research has shown that sleep plays a critical role in the retention of memories. While your body is resting when you sleep, your brain is actually working in overdrive processing the events of the day, making connections, and sorting emotions. This all happens when your body enters the deep sleep phase. Without this regular deep sleep, your brain is not able to function at optimum levels. Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night will assist your brain in remembering and processing things more accurately.
Making the effort to get a good night's sleep will pay off big dividends for the future of your health. Not only are the short-term effects of good physical health a result of solid rest, but the long-term effects will also improve your overall quality of life and longevity.
While it certainly is true that muscle mass can be lost when calories are cut, the ratio of lost strength to fat is going to differ depending on your body type and the method you use to lose weight. It is also entirely possible to lose body fat percentages while maintaining or even increasing muscle mass if you use the right strategies.
Heavy cardio is a great way to burn calories, but it’s also a good way to lose hard-earned muscle mass, according to Johnson Fitness & Wellness. That's not to say that cardio is terrible, but a routine based primarily around it is going to negatively impact the muscles you’ve worked to build up. You’re going to want to add more to your routine than just running yourself ragged on the treadmill. Swimming or HIIT are excellent methods to gain a functionally powerful frame while maintaining that lean look. For those of you who want to sculpt your body in specific ways, weightlifting interspersed with bouts of cardio here and there is the go-to method. The basic idea is to use the muscle groups you want your body to keep around so that you don’t lose them during the dieting process. Some of you who are newer to the gym may find yourselves pleasantly surprised at how dense your body will feel even after losing weight!
According to TruVision, losing fat while maintaining muscle, like everything else in fitness, involves what you eat more than anything else. By using protein effectively, as well as being careful of carb intake, you can maintain muscle while losing fat. The tough part about losing body fat isn’t the number-crunching required to get to a caloric deficit. For most people, it’s about keeping away from temptation and getting used to proper portion sizes. As far as when and how to eat, that’s totally up to you. Some people insist that eating many small meals a day works great, while others are into eating one huge meal a day followed by a set period of fasting. Experiment and see what works for you.
It’s going to take a lot of protein to build up a strong body, and you’re going to need quite a bit of it to maintain what you’ve got. You also have to do this while in a caloric deficit, which isn’t going to be easy until you get used to it. Thus, protein powders are going to be almost essential for maintaining your strength. The two basic types of protein powders on the market are whey and casein. The former is a quick absorption protein that is meant to be taken immediately after a workout for maximum muscle building. Casein is a slow-digesting powder you take before sleeping so that your body has the fuel it needs to rebuild your body during this healing period.
No one wants to lose muscle when trying to lose weight, but it happens sometimes. With a combination of exercise that's geared for building muscle, a proper diet, and some supplemental help, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to maintain muscle.
Not all strokes can be prevented, but making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure can help reduce your risk of another one. Consider following these tips to achieve ideal health.
Don't Let Stroke Strike Twice
(Family Features) Not all strokes can be prevented, but making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure can help reduce your risk of another one.
While there are about 7.2 million stroke survivors in the United States, people who have had a stroke are at high risk of having another one. In fact, about one in every four stroke survivors will have a second one.
Efforts like Together to End Stroke, an American Stroke Association initiative, nationally sponsored by Bayer Aspirin, work to educate stroke survivors and caregivers about how they can avoid a second occurrence.
Because the consequences of a second stroke can be more detrimental than the first, it’s important to recognize the signs, which come on suddenly, and act quickly. An easy way to remember the most common warning signs is the acronym F.A.S.T., (F – face drooping, A – arm weakness, S – speech difficulty, T – time to call 911).
Talk to your doctor about medications that may help you with your stroke prevention efforts. For example, taking aspirin regularly or other blood clot prevention medications can help reduce the risk of another ischemic stroke.
Consider following the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s “Life's Simple 7” to achieve ideal health:
Don't smoke. Smoking puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and add years to your life. You’re more likely to quit for good if you prepare for your last cigarette and the cravings, urges and feelings that come with quitting.
Eat a healthy diet. Healthy eating starts with simple, healthy food choices. You don’t need to stop eating your favorite meals, just use substitutions to make them healthier. Learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, your workplace and other eating occasions so you can confidently make healthy, delicious choices whenever and wherever you eat.
Maintain a healthy weight. The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you can also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. There’s no trick to losing weight and keeping it off, but the majority of successful people modify their eating habits and increase physical activity.
Control cholesterol. Having large amounts of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, in the blood can cause build up and blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Reducing your fat intake, especially trans fats, often found in fried foods and baked goods, can help reduce your cholesterol. Adding more foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and nuts, as well as soluble fiber and whey protein, helps in managing cholesterol.
Manage blood pressure. Nothing causes more strokes than uncontrolled high blood pressure. Of the 116.4 million people in the United States who have high blood pressure, fewer than half have it under control, putting them at increased risk of stroke. Lowering your blood pressure by 20 points could cut your risk of dying from stroke by half.
Control blood sugar. By managing your diabetes and working with your health care team, you may reduce your risk of stroke. Every two minutes, an adult with diabetes in the United States is hospitalized for stroke. At age 60, someone with type 2 diabetes and a history of stroke may have a life expectancy that is 12 years shorter than someone without both conditions.
For more information on how to prevent stroke, and a complete list of warning signs, visit strokeassociation.org/americanstrokemonth.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Stroke Association
The following are 5 creative approaches to combat menopausal symptoms, from Dr. Mache Seibel, author of The Estrogen Fix.
(BPT) - The use of hormone therapy (HT) can minimize risks and maximize menopausal relief for common symptoms like hot flashes, dryness, mood swings, fractured sleep, brain fog, irritability and weight gain, according to Dr. Mache Seibel, author of The Estrogen Fix: The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced. When taken at the right time, estrogen therapy can lead to substantial improvements in health and quality of life and lower the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and dementia. Women should be aware of one caveat: Beginning estrogen after a woman’s estrogen window closes at age 65 may increase their risk for breast cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and osteoporosis.
Heeding advice about how and when to stop taking HT is important and revealed in new studies featured in Seibel’s book. The book reaffirms the safety of vaginal estrogen, as well as its effectiveness in controlling weight; it outlines newly available estrogens and progesterones and offers the latest hormone-free FDA solutions for women with vaginal dryness.
The following are 5 creative approaches to combat menopausal symptoms:
1. Hot flashes: Women experiencing hot flashes and night sweats can find relief using an FDA-approved estrogen hormone therapy called Divigel, a gel that is applied to the upper thigh daily. It contains the plant-based estrogen hormone estradiol, the same hormone made naturally by a woman’s ovaries before menopause and delivers estrogen identical to that naturally produced in the body.
2. Irritability/sleeplessness: Lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A natural supplement with melatonin like Vitafusion Beauty Sleep promotes a good night's sleep without prescription medication. Sex and/or self-pleasure are natural ways to decrease stress and can help with the onset and quality of sleep as well.
3. Painful sex: Internal vaginal dryness can be relieved for three days with hormone-free Replens Vaginal Moisturizer. Alternatively, prescription remedies like vaginal estrogen or DHEA can be used.
4. Weight gain? Eat to defeat menopause: Food is the fuel for every cell in your body, so avoid packaged and processed foods and limit sugary drinks and desserts to ensure you’re optimizing energy. Stick to unprocessed whole foods as there are no hidden ingredients or calories. Your body will also appreciate fresh and/or organic produce and hormone-free meat or grass-fed beef as often as possible.
5. Hair lacking luster, less-than-glowing skin and brittle nails: Loss of estrogen leaves many women dealing with thinning hair, increased dry skin and brittle or breaking nails. Introducing biotin into your diet with a raspberry-flavored gummy like Vitafusion Gorgeous Hair, Skin & Nails can ensure you’re consuming sufficient biotin and other helpful nutrients including vitamins C and E.
Every woman has safe, new options, from prescription HT to those available over-the-counter, to suit her unique needs. Schedule a chat with your health provider to discuss the right hormone therapy or alternative option for your personal menopausal challenge.
There are small, everyday steps you can take to make a big impact on your overall health, using available resources in your city or county. Here are five easy tips to help increase your daily wellness.
(BPT) - No one wants to come home from vacation packing extra pounds in addition to great souvenirs and fond memories. Yet even the most dedicated, healthy eater can find it difficult to maintain good dietary habits while traveling. New surroundings, new cuisines, a need for convenience and all that appetite-building activity can tempt you into making poor dining choices. Nevertheless, it is possible to stay on track while on the road.
“Just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean your food conscience — that little voice inside that tells you what’s healthy or unhealthy to eat — needs to go on vacation, too,” says Millie Wilson, a registered dietician with My Fit Foods, a unique retail concept that specializes in handcrafted, fresh, grab-and-go meals as well as meal-planning services. “In fact, when you’re on a trip, eating well is even more important so you can feel energized and healthy, and able to enjoy every moment of your vacation.”
However, healthier dining while on vacation doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor. Here are four tips to help ensure you make better food choices while still savoring the fun of your trip:
1. Don’t delay dining
With so many things to see and do on your vacation, it’s easy to forget to eat — until you find yourself so hungry you’ll eat just about anything. Extreme hunger is a recipe for binging and unhealthy choices.
“After about three hours without food, blood sugar begins to fall,” Cleveland dietician Amy Jamieson-Petonic says on WebMD. “Once you’ve crossed the five-hour mark, your blood sugar begins to plummet, and you grab whatever you can to refuel.”
Instead of letting your hunger reach crisis point, try to stick to your regular dining schedule. Pack some healthy snacks in your travel tote or handbag to tide you over in case you get hungry between meals.
2. Map out healthy meals
Just as you planned other aspects of your trip — the sights you’ll see, how you’ll get there, etc. — it’s important to plan meals, too. Make a map of where and when you will eat to avoid unhealthy temptations.
Resources like HealthyDiningFinder.com can help you locate restaurants that serve healthy and delicious fare, like My Fit Foods. The retail concept is the first-ever restaurant to have its entire menu certified to meet Healthy Dining’s nutrition criteria.
With more than 50 locations in California, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Illinois, My Fit Foods serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and specializes in handcrafted grab-and-go meals made with fresh and flavorful ingredients. The menu emphasizes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fat, making it easy – and delicious - to stay on track while traveling. Visit www.myfitfoods.com to learn more.
3. Avoid liquid calories
It’s fine to indulge with a little imbibing, but avoid going overboard and look for lighter options. Cocktails can be loaded with calories; a pina colada can pack more than 600 calories and a Long Island Iced Tea can ring in at nearly 800 calories! Since those calories are in liquid form — and taste so good — it’s easy to consume a lot of them at a time and not realize the impact until you step on the scale later.
Choose less calorie-intense alcoholic options such as wine, light beer, a rum and Coke (about 65 calories), gin with diet tonic (115 calories) or a cosmopolitan (150 calories).
4. Walk, hike, bike, swim and jog it off
Maintaining your physical activity level can help keep you in the healthful mindset you need in order to make better food choices. But who wants to take the time to exercise while on vacation? You do — and you don’t have to spend a single minute in the hotel gym to get in plenty of physical activity. Many fun things to do on vacation also involve beneficial exercise.
(BPT) - Savannah Kerr battled anorexia for 18 years before she hit rock bottom and decided that it was finally time to seek treatment.
"Suffering from an eating disorder was so hard, not just on me, but my family as well. It felt like having this dark part of my personality that controlled what I could eat and how I felt about my body," Kerr said.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses; almost one person an hour dies as a direct result from the disease. While it is estimated that up to 30 million people in the United States currently suffer from one of these illnesses, it is an issue that remains a taboo topic.
"Eating disorders can impact anyone-men and women, young and old, and all economic classes and races. Despite the high mortality rate, there is still a stigma and many people avoid seeking treatment and are unaware of how serious and life-altering eating disorders can be," said Ken Weiner, founding partner and chief executive officer of Eating Recovery Center.
Eating disorders can threaten a person's health, well-being, joy, confidence and overall life, as well as that of their families and friends.
Talking: the first step
Despite the pervasiveness of eating disorders, many myths about eating disorders continue to persist. A common misconception is that eating disorders are caused by an issue with food alone when, in fact, they are often caused by a desire to control or seek relief from painful emotions and experiences. They can develop due to a person's genetic makeup, or by environmental factors like stress.
However, as widespread as these illnesses are, recovery is possible.
"Getting treatment was one of the hardest challenges I've ever gone through, but was more rewarding than I could have ever expected," Kerr said. "People go into treatment thinking that they can't do it, but if you give it a try and succeed, you'll never want to go back."
On May 3, Eating Recovery Center, a healthcare system dedicated to providing the best care in the treatment of serious eating disorders, will bring stories of recovery to the forefront with the first-ever Eating Recovery Day. People can join the conversation on social media by using #EatingRecoveryDay.
"To make an impactful change, it is imperative to build awareness and create better understanding that recovery is possible through proper treatment," Weiner said.
Using social channels to educate patients and families and to shift the public's perception of eating disorders, the goal of the campaign is to encourage self-acceptance and create a dialogue that is both hopeful and empowering.
(BPT) - The dress, the tux, the guests, the honeymoon - there are so many details that go into your wedding day. All eyes are on you from the moment you walk down the aisle until the last dance of the night. Understandably so, brides and grooms often feel a lot of pressure to look their best on this important day - there's nothing like a wedding to motivate you to get serious about your health and fitness goals.
But crash diets or extreme exercise programs are never the answer. "It's usually best to start thinking about your specific goals three months before your wedding day to allow plenty of time to establish your routine and adjust to a healthier lifestyle," says Steve Bronston, certified personal trainer with Life Time, a healthy way of life company that operates more than 115 health and wellness centers nationwide. "This creates a great opportunity for the bride and groom to support each other and get in shape together."
Bronston and Life Time offer a three-month countdown plan to get you ready for the big day:
Focus on changing your unhealthy habits. Nutrition is key when trying to lose weight, decrease body fat and increase your overall health. Work with a professional to lay out a detailed nutrition plan that consists of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats at each meal. Then, begin with a fitness program that incorporates weight training and cardio intervals. Arm exercises like overhead press, tricep push-ups and bicep curls, and back exercises like rows and rear flys help brides looking to tone up for a strapless or low-back dress. Bronston suggests starting with two or three days of weight training, two or three days of cardio and one day of Pilates or yoga.
Now it's time to switch up your exercise routines. It's a good idea to work with a personal trainer or join a group fitness class once or twice a week to shake up your routine and stay motivated. Your workouts should include one to two weight training exercises per body part throughout the week. If you can, try to shift the amount of weight you use and number of repetitions you do to help stimulate change within your body. Continue a cardio routine of two to three days per week and add in another day or Pilates or yoga.
It is important to keep up with your developing healthy habits as the weeks progress, but as your wedding day approaches, you're sure to feel the stress of planning. "A new focus on rest and relaxation during this time period is key," Bronston says. You can eat well and exercise perfectly, but without sleep, stretching, rest and recovery, your body is at risk of not functioning properly.
Planning a wedding can be stressful and tiresome, but if you commit to a healthy diet and fitness plan, you'll walk down the aisle feeling confident and ready for your new life ahead.
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