Humans can't truly realize full health without meaningful relationships and connections with others. As many people around the world celebrate Valentine's Day, why not take a moment today and think of the people in your life that bring you joy and love. Family, friends, pets, coworkers, even casual acquaintances that bring a smile to your face all help to make your world more positive. By understanding the power of connecting with others and caring for and nourishing these relationships, you are helping to make your world and theirs a happier and healthier place to live!
Many of us will experience the effects of normal wear and tear on our joints as we age. While we can't keep from growing older, small preventive measures can help keep joints healthy for a lifetime - consider these nutrition and lifestyle tips:
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Focus on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold water, oily fish like salmon and sardines; walnuts; and freshly ground flaxseeds. Spices like ginger and turmeric can also help reduce inflammation. My Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid has more information and specific recommendations.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Found in fresh vegetables and fruit, antioxidants may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Losing just a few pounds can alleviate excess mechanical stress on joints.
- Avoid intense activities that can injure or strain the joint cartilage.
- Get exercise. Performed at a level that does not stress joints, daily physical activity is the key to maintaining lifelong mobility- it strengthens surrounding muscles that support and protect joints. Swimming, stationary cycling and light weight training are good choices, as are stretching and balance exercises such as yoga and tai chi.
Cycling is a form of exercise that is especially easy on the joints.
We've covered foods that women should include in their diet, as they may have a preventive effect against breast cancer. Today, we list some dietary habits to avoid, as they may increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Eating too much fat. Keep your dietary fat content low - below 25 percent of your daily calories is ideal.
- Consuming animal fats, polyunsaturated fats (including many vegetable oils), and hydrogenated oils (margarines and vegetable shortenings) can all increase cancer risks. Minimize consumption of all.
- Drinking alcohol. Even in modest amounts, alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
- A daily intake of conventionally raised meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. These may contain hormone residues that influence estrogen metabolism. Replace with organic, hormone-free versions and use sparingly.
The Bridge Pose is a powerful tonic for body and mind. It provides an invigorating stretch for the chest, neck and spine. Traditionally, its benefits are said to also include:
- Calming the mind and alleviating stress and mild depression
- Stimulating abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid
- Rejuvenating tired legs
- Improving digestion
- Relieving the symptoms of menopause
- Reducing anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache and insomnia
Learn how to do the Bridge Pose.
This light dessert combines the sweetness of pears with the zing of ginger to make a warming winter treat!
Food as Medicine: Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds knowns as gingerols. Several studies have shown that regular consumption of ginger can reduce pain associated with arthritis.
5 firm ripe pears
3 cups apple cider
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Salt to taste
1. Peel the pears, quarter them lengthwise, and core. Slice pears thinly and place in a saucepan with the apple cider and ginger root. Add a pinch of salt.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until pears are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Dissolve cornstarch or arrowroot in 1/3 cup cold water and add to the simmering pears, stirring, until the sauce is thick and clear.
4. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Serve warm or cold.
Learn more about ginger as an herbal remedy in yesterday's post.
If you're concerned about joint health, or suffer from motion sickness, nausea, or chest congestion, consider a naturally helpful anti-inflammatory agent: ginger. From the underground stem of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), ginger can be bought as whole fresh or crystallized root; in honey-based syrups; as capsules containing powdered ginger extracts; and as alcohol extracts. Dried ginger preparations are actually more powerful than fresh due to a chemical conversion and concentration of its constituents. When purchasing, select products with only 100 percent pure ginger standardized for their content of active components. High doses may cause a burning sensation in the stomach; to minimize, take ginger with food. I suggest the following dosages:
- To support healthy joints, take one or two grams of powdered ginger a day.
- For nausea and prevention of motion sickness, take one gram as a preventive and 500 mg every four hours as needed, or eat two pieces of crystallized ginger or take ginger syrup or tea.
- For congestion, brew tea with one-inch piece of peeled and grated ginger root per two cups of water; bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for five minutes; add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and simmer one minute more. Remove from heat. Add two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, one or two cloves of mashed garlic and honey to taste. Let cool slightly and strain.
Tomorrow's post: a recipe featuring ginger.
Having problems falling asleep may mean that you're headed toward metabolic syndrome, a combination of physical symptoms that raise the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. For some, loud snoring may indicate a doubled risk of metabolic syndrome (difficulty falling asleep raises the risk by 80 percent). The risk also increases - by 70 percent - among those who report unrefreshing sleep. All this news comes from a study published in the December 1, 2010, issue of Sleep. Investigators studied 812 adults ages 45 to 74 for three years to assess the relationship between sleeping problems and the risk of metabolic syndrome, which has symptoms including excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL (the "good" cholesterol), high blood pressure and high blood sugar. The researchers reported that loud snoring was associated with the development of high blood sugar and low HDL in particular, but noted that other sleeping problems were only generally predictive of metabolic syndrome. Other sleeping problems weren't associated with the development of any particular symptoms comprising metabolic syndrome but were associated with a higher risk of the syndrome itself. The researchers said that their findings suggest that physicians should screen patients for sleep complaints during routine visits.
Learn more about insomnia, one of the more common sleep issues.
While I believe that attempts to halt or deny the aging process can be roadblocks to aging gracefully, there may be an acceptable alternative to some current “turn back the clock” trends: facial acupuncture. This therapy is far less invasive than a surgical procedure and does not carry the dangers associated with a traditional facelift (not to mention being less expensive). Facial acupuncture is also free of the side effects of therapies such as Botox injections, and it offers psychological benefits - patients may feel relaxed as a result of the therapy. With or without acupuncture, a healthy diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques are still my top recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, and the keys to aging gracefully.