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Saturday
Feb192011

3 Ways to Practice the Slow Food Movement

The Slow Food Movement - which started in Italy in the 1980s - encourages people to slow the pace of life in order to truly savor not only foods and beverages but the pleasure of eating and the companionship of friends and family sitting around the table. Traditional foods that are fresh, made from local ingredients and served during leisurely meals are the focus of this movement. From a health perspective, this philosophy is a much-needed departure from "fast food," which is designed to be eaten on the run. If you want to get involved in the Slow Food Movement, try the following:

  1. Shop for fresh, organically grown local produce and baked goods at farmers' markets.
  2. Patronize restaurants that specialize in local or regional foods.
  3. Keep family traditions alive. Think about the foods your grandparents prepared for holidays or family gatherings, and try to replicate what you can.

Make your food even "slower" by growing your own vegetables!

Friday
Feb182011

The Two Most Vital Choices for Health

The number one lifestyle choice you can make to remain healthy is not smoking. Second on the list is regular exercise, at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. These commonsense recommendations were the principal findings of a review of 40 scientific studies published between 2006 and 2010. Not surprisingly, the report indicated that regular physical activity cannot only reduce the risk of some two dozen diseases including dementia, but can also slow the aging process. If you want additional protection against cancer, increase the half hour of daily exercise to an hour - that could slice another 16 percent off your risk, the investigators said. More specifically, the review found a strong, inverse relationship between physical activity and colon cancer in both men and women. It also showed that men whose jobs involve some activity (as opposed to sitting at a desk all day) have lower rates of prostate cancer. In addition to brisk walking (or 20 minutes of jogging three times a week), the review recommends two strength-training sessions per week to build muscles and, as you get older, exercises to help you maintain balance and flexibility. The review was published in the December, 2010, issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

My take? You won't get any argument from me about the need for exercise to maintain good health. I am a great believer in the benefits of sensible, moderate exercise for healthy living and healthy weight loss. Our bodies evolved in very demanding environments and are meant to be used. If they are not, they deteriorate.  Many of the illnesses that plague our society result from underuse of bodies. The prevalence of heart and artery disease correlates as much with lack of aerobic exercise as it does with unhealthy diets. Insufficient aerobic activity also predisposes us to musculoskeletal disorders, gastrointestinal problems, nervous and emotional illnesses, and a long list of other ailments.

Thursday
Feb172011

5 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

Looking for a simple resolution to improve your overall health? Start drinking green tea. My beverage of choice, green tea is a potent source of catechins - healthy antioxidants that can inhibit cancer cell activity and help boost immunity. Need more reasons to drink green tea? It can also:

  1. Lower cholesterol levels and rates of heart disease
  2. Help protect against bacterial infections
  3. Promote joint health and stronger bones
  4. Reduce inflammation
  5. Enhance the effects of antibiotics, even against drug-resistant bacteria and “superbugs”

Green tea is available in a wide range of varieties - introduce yourself by substituting a cup of green tea for a cup of coffee and you will soon be enjoying the health benefits of this delicious beverage! Learn to appreciate the subtle fragrance of good-quality green tea and use tea time to unwind, meditate and take respite from your stress du jour.

Read about my life with tea.

Wednesday
Feb162011

Cell Phone Allergy

If one side of your face is dry and itchy, consider your cell phone as a likely culprit. Allergists report that contact allergies to nickel are common - they affect up to 17 percent of women and three percent of men - and there's nickel in many cell phones.  The allergy symptoms also include redness, swelling, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and, sometimes, oozing and scarring. The best treatment is avoiding contact with nickel. That may require covering your phone with plastic, using a wireless earpiece or switching to a phone that has no metal on the part that touches the face. Cell phones aren't the only source of nickel that can come in contact with your face. The metal is commonly found in jewelry, watches, eyeglass frames and body piercings. You can also transfer nickel to your face with your hands after touching keys, coins or paper clips.  Nickel allergies were the focus of a recent presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Phoenix in November, 2010.

More on cell phone safety.

Tuesday
Feb152011

Dr. Weil's Heart Health Weekly

New! Dr. Weil’s Heart Health Weekly
Is a healthy heart important to you? Then don’t miss our free, weekly newsletter covering heart health. Get information on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to help prevent heart attacks, manage cholesterol levels and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Each tip includes a heart-healthy recipe - learn more here!

Monday
Feb142011

Happy Valentine's Day

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!

Read my thoughts on healthy gift ideas: A Healthy Valentine's Day? And try sharing this delicious recipe with a loved one: Persian Rose-Water Pudding

Saturday
Feb122011

Joints Feeling Achy?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Found in fresh vegetables and fruit, antioxidants may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Losing just a few pounds can alleviate excess mechanical stress on joints.
  4. Avoid intense activities that can injure or strain the joint cartilage. 
  5. 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.

Friday
Feb112011

Breast Cancer - 4 Foods to Avoid

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.

  1. Eating too much fat. Keep your dietary fat content low - below 25 percent of your daily calories is ideal.
  2. 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.
  3. Drinking alcohol. Even in modest amounts, alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
  4. 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.