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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) tobacco products kill approximately 5 million people annually, worldwide.  Tragically, 600,000 deaths annually are non-smokers who contract diseases or health implications from second hand smoke.   The latest data shows that tobacco kills up to half of its users; 50% of people who smoke will contract cancer, heart disease or die from other complications as a result of tobacco use, and the World Health Organization estimates that the are more than 1 billion chronic tobacco users in the world, as of 2016. Continue reading “Smoking and Vaping: Is One Healthier Than the Other?” »
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Life Balance
We all sleep, but is it healthy sleep? You may be surprised to learn that according to research by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the National Sleep Foundation, unhealthy sleep behaviors of adults in the U.S. are now a public health concern. Approximately 35% of those surveyed reported insufficient sleep (less than 6 hours) and 62% said that they experience a sleep problem several nights a week. An estimated 40-70 million Americans suffer from sleep or wakefulness disorders.

Unhealthy sleep patterns increase the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and depression.  They have been linked to traffic accidents, occupational hazards and reduced productivity.  Factors contributing to poor sleep hygiene include 24-hour access to media and technology, unconventional work schedules, and medical issues such as chronic pain or obstructive sleep apnea.

Healthy sleep is vital to good health and emotional well-being:
  • You fall asleep easily.
  • You regularly sleep 7 to 9 hours in a 24 hour period (sometimes including a nap) without long periods of wakefulness.
  • Upon waking, you feel refreshed and alert.

During sleep, our brains are active and our bodies replenish themselves. There are five stages of sleep: stage 1 is light sleep; in stage 2 the brain waves are slower; stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep; and stage 5 is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, when breathing and heart rate increase, blood pressure rises, and we dream.  This cycle takes 90 to 110 minutes and repeats three to five times a night for healthy sleep. Most adults experience occasional insomnia, due to stress or worry or excitement, but if you are frequently unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, or if you suspect that your sleep insufficiency is related to a medical issue (e.g., if you snore loudly or stop breathing regularly in your sleep,) your doctor may order a sleep study or other tests to determine a course of treatment. If you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious and you just can’t quiet your thinking, here are some  things you can do to promote relaxation and restful sleep.

Before bed:
At bedtime:
  • “The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise” may not put you to sleep in 60 seconds, but it really does promote relaxation and a calm feeling.
  • See: http://www.medicaldaily.com/life-hack-sleep-4-7-8-breathing-exercise-will-supposedly-put-you-sleep-just-60-332122

What are your favorite tips for improving the quality of your sleep?  Leave us a comment or share a link to some online resources, and help everyone train healthy sleeping habits for improved wellness.
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Antioxidants, Probiotics, Recipes and Nutrition
Summer is here and we’re busy making plans for barbecues, picnics and outdoor fun.  As the days get longer and warmer, our activity levels often increase and our dietary needs change.  Some of the important things to remember are to maintain a balanced diet, to avoid dehydration, and to try to choose proteins and carbohydrates that require less energy to metabolize. Oh yes, and remember to use sunscreen!  Did you know that recent studies suggest augmenting sunscreens with antioxidants to boost immunity to sun damage?

Summertime offers us a wealth of choices for fresh produce, and buying foods in season provides optimal flavor and lower prices.  Visit farmers markets and roadside stands or even your local supermarket for healthy fruits and vegetables that are perfect for summertime meals and snacks.  Some of the best at this time of year are summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, apples, pears, plums, grapes, strawberries and melons.

Have you ever tried frozen grapes on a hot summer day?  They’re sweet and refreshing, and so good for you! Here are some more summer treats that offer health benefits along with great taste.
  1. Sweet summer corn contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.
  2. Watermelon is about 90% water and helps to keep you hydrated while satisfying hunger with minimal calories.
  3. Tangy and refreshing, raspberries are a great source of dietary fiber and they contain pectin, which helps lower cholesterol.
  4. Tropical fruits contain vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes. Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that helps to digest proteins. Oranges are a good source of potassium, which can lower the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
  5. Cauliflower is the new superstar in healthy foods. You’ll find it in everything from cauliflower fried “rice” to cauliflower pizza dough, and pureed, it’s a wonderful substitute for mashed potatoes.
  6. Iced coffee. Yes, really. While caffeinated beverages act as diuretics and in quantity can lead to dehydration, a single cup of coffee each day may reduce the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer by about 10%. And a frosty glass of iced coffee on a hot day is heavenly.
  7. When grilling burgers, try using lean ground meat and whole wheat buns; add unexpected toppings such as guacamole, pineapple slices and feta cheese. These substitutions can reduce fats which require more energy to digest and lead to increased body temperature.
  8. Instead of meats, there are other wonderful sources for proteins such as nuts, seeds, sprouts, beans, soy products, yogurt and cottage cheese.
  9. Adult beverages seem to go hand in hand with summer parties, but alcohol is a powerful diuretic. Alternating drinks with water or fruit juice can prevent dehydration.
On the subject of picnics and barbeques, it’s important to remember hot weather safety tips. Food spoils more quickly in the warm temperatures, especially on sun-filled patio buffets. Make sure grills and prep surfaces are cleaned often and foods are not left out in the sun.

Here’s to summer fun and great seasonal foods. Bon appetit!
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Fitness, Health
Beautiful weather, vacation time and retirement bring thoughts of rest and relaxation. Imagine yourself basking on a sandy beach or swinging in a hammock by a lake. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

But it’s important to remember that a sedentary lifestyle invites numerous health problems including cardiovascular diseases, obesity, bone and muscle weakness, and metabolic disturbances. Inactivity can also impair balance and affect mental health and mood. Good health requires a balance between relaxation and regular physical activity.

How do people know if they are really fit? One way would be to visit the President’s Fitness Program web site at (https://www.presidentschallenge.org/challenge/adult.shtml).  These guidelines were originally established in 1956 by President Eisenhower, and they now have challenges for adults as well as for children.  There is an online evaluation addressing four vital areas:
  1. Aerobic fitness
  2. Muscular strength and endurance
  3. Flexibility
  4. Body composition
You can use the results to help shape a sensible fitness program for yourself and your loved ones. It’s a good idea to review the plan with your health care professional before engaging in any new exercise program.

Whether you choose to engage in moderate exercises such as walking and swimming, or more strenuous activities like playing a game of tennis or beach volleyball, being active outdoors in hot weather puts extra stress on your body and can be dangerous if you don’t take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.

When you exercise in hot weather, your core body temperature rises, triggering dilation of the blood vessels in the skin; your body radiates more heat, you sweat, and your temperature goes down.  But this takes blood from your muscles and increases your heart rate. High humidity inhibits evaporation of perspiration and body temperature goes even higher. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff at (www.mayoclinic.org), heat-related illnesses occur when
natural cooling systems fail:

  • when you are exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long
  • if you sweat heavily
  • when you don’t drink enough fluids

Common heat-related illnesses include heat cramps (painful muscle contractions), heat syncope (lightheadedness or fainting) and heat exhaustion (body temperature as high as 104° [40 C], headache, queasy stomach, weakness, cold clammy skin). If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life threatening emergency condition that can develop when your body temperature rises above 104° (40 C). Other symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and visual disturbances.  If you notice any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and drink fluids. Find a shady spot or wet yourself down in a cool shower or with a hose. If the symptoms persist or get worse, emergency medical attention is warranted. Remember, heat-related illnesses can be prevented by planning ahead and following these simple suggestions:
  1. Check the weather forecast for heat-index warnings.
  2. Avoid strenuous activities between noon and 3 PM, when the sun is strongest.
  3. Dress for the heat with light-weight, light-colored breathable fabrics. Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  4. Use sunscreen and re-apply every two hours.
  5. Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water and/or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
Fitness outside has a number of health benefits, and it is fun!  Invite a friend for a walk, explore new bike paths or a new outdoor sport or hobby that keeps you moving.  Remember to always consult with your family physician before changing your physical activity, for advice and health guidance.
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Health
Since 60% of your body and cellular structures are composed of water, hydration is an essential part of a healthy immune system, organ functioning, digestion and more.  Did you know that by the time you register the sensation of thirst, your body is already moderately dehydrated?  There are no early warning triggers, which means that regulating your daily water intake can be more challenging than many people realize. To complicate matters more, some of the fluids you drink every day can fool you into ‘thinking’ you are adequately hydrating.  Coffee for instance, is a beverage that many of us rely on to fuel our early morning alertness and energy throughout the day.  While moderated amounts of coffee act as a gentle diuretic (with healthful benefits), consuming more than four cups of caffeinated coffee per day can impact hydration, and even contribute to high blood pressure. A diet that is high in sodium, and consumption of alcohol are the two most common causes of chronic dehydration in adults.

Symptoms of dehydration include:
  • Bad breath
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fever and chills
  • Food cravings (for salt and high carbohydrate foods)
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion



Drinking too much water can also have a compounding negative health effect for your body.  Over hydration may seem less of a health concern, but it can be a problem for individuals who are dieting, and using water as an alternative to healthy snacks and meals.  The general rule is to not drink more than one liter per hour of water (or other hydrating beverages) to avoid placing additional stress on kidneys and other vital organs.

Symptoms of over hydration include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion or disorientation

An important fact to remember is that, while hydration does aid as an appetite suppressant, over hydration can lead to a dangerous drop in normal electrolytes (sodium level) called hyponatremia in the body, which if left untreated, can cause seizures, muscle weakness, unconsciousness and coma.

How much is enough?
In an average climate (non arid) and for normal, daily activities, the average male requires 13 cups of plain water for health and wellness, or approximately three liters per day.  The average healthy adult woman requires nine cups of plain water, or roughly 2.2 liters per day for adequate intake (AI), according to the Institute of Medicine.

Tips to Make Daily Hydration Easy
Consider purchasing new, non-plastic reusable water containers (glass or medical grade aluminum) for work, at home and for the gym.  Having an ample supply of safe water containers is not only better for the environment, it is convenient for people with busy schedules. Hydrate on-the-go while driving to work, watching television and especially when exerting yourself, as your body displaces fluid volume faster when engaged in aerobic exercise.  

There are several free apps that you can download to your smart phone to help you train healthy hydration into your day. Improve your personal health and wellness by starting a healthy new habit of routine hydration.  Individuals with health concerns should also consult regularly with their family physician to monitor unique hydration needs.

Looking for a way to supplement your antioxidant support, with a refreshing citrus berry flavor? Learn more about Glutathione Rapid Boost.  For a limited time, American residents can also request a free sample here
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Health, Life Balance
Getting outdoors is both beneficial and fun, especially when shared with family or friends.  But convincing your family to get less “screen time” and more fresh air can be a challenge in today’s connected society. It can difficult to come up with fresh ideas for unplugging and enjoying regular outdoor and athletic activities together. Here are few simple ideas we’ve found to help inspire healthy new habits that will get your entire family moving in the right direction.

Bike Riding
There is something magical that happens when kids and bikes connect. Does the wind in your hair, and the feeling of adventure  bring back found memories? Why don’t you pack up the bikes and head to a bike path or city park and explore!  Not only will you be headed for an exciting day of outdoor exploration and learning,  but you will also be improving your muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance and balance.

Hiking
Prefer to keep two feet on the ground?  Why not have a nature themed scavenger-hunt at your local or national park?  Explore and reconnect with nature in a fun and interactive way.   Get the kids involved in making scavenger list of what they expect to find at your preferred locale.  At the end of the day, compare lists and talk about everything you saw.  Maybe pick one thing and research it as a family project?  Inspire the next generation of conservationists, while reinforcing the value of outdoor fun.

Volunteer Dog Walking
Give back to the community, and show children that being active can also involve helping out as a volunteer!  Explore opportunities with your local animal shelter as a dog walker. The dogs win, families people win, and children can learn a lot about the value of volunteering and becoming responsible pet owners. And it doesn’t feel quite like exercise when you are playing or walking four-legged friends.

Backyard Volleyball
You don’t have to leave home to get out and enjoy the fresh air, all you really need is a length of string and a beach ball for some affordable, outdoor and old school fun.   Set up your own volleyball court, and invite friends and other families over for a tournament. A fun way to get everyone moving, enjoying fresh air and the benefit of healthy exercise (and competition).

Teaching children to balance screen time and healthy, physical activity is an important part to modeling a healthy lifestyle.  For more inspiration, surf for outdoor fitness ideas on  Pinterest.
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