According to the Red Cross, blood is traditionally in short supply during winter months. Holidays, poor weather conditions, vacation travel and illness often prevent people from donating blood during this season. A shortage of blood can mean - literally - lives lost, as thousands of units of blood are needed every day of the year in hospitals nationwide. If you are interested in donating blood, visit www.redcross.org for more information on donor requirements. Or, learn how set up a blood drive in your neighborhood or workplace. Help celebrate life, and consider giving blood.
While they may not have been your favorite as a child - especially if cooked to a mushy consistency - Brussels sprouts are worth another try. A natural source of dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene and several key antioxidants, Brussels sprouts:
- Support optimal functioning of the heart and immune system
- Reduce the risk of colon cancer and other cancers
- Promote healthy elimination
- Protect against birth defects
For the best taste (and most nutritional value) eat Brussels sprouts that are as fresh as possible. And to avoid the mush, try slicing them in half, brushing or tossing with some extra virgin olive oil and roasting at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, until just browned. Shake the pan once or twice during cooking for even browning.
Why not make some Roasted Root Vegetables as well?
This news comes from Harvard, where researchers found that people whose diets contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (like fish oil) are less likely to develop gum disease that can lead to tooth and bone loss. Gum disease is usually treated with cleaning and antibiotics, but the Harvard investigators suggested that including omega-3s in the diet might work as well. This strategy may also be less expensive and safer than traditional dental work. The researchers looked at data from more than 9,000 adults who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. Omega-3 intakes were estimated from 24-hour food recall interviews; the survey also collected data on the use of supplements, as well as ethnic, educational and socioeconomic information, all of which was factored into the analysis. Results showed that the prevalence of gum disease among the study participants overall was 8.2 percent and that those who consumed the highest amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, a component of omega-3s) had a 20 percent reduced prevalence of gum disease. Significantly reduced odds of gum disease were seen even when omega-3 intake was modest, the researchers reported.
More on Dental & Oral Health.
Diet and nutrition can play a significant role in the chances of developing breast cancer, especially if you have a family history of the disease. The following foods may help to prevent or lessen the risks - I encourage all women to give them a try:
- Use healthy fats: Monounsaturates such as a high quality, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground flaxseed and oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines (which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids) may help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Include whole soy products in your diet. Soy foods contain many cancer-protective substances, including isoflavones. Try to eat one to two servings of whole soy-based foods a day.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables! Especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower, which contain many different cancer-protective phytonutrients.
Are you traveling by air over the holidays? Even the best travel plans can include unwanted side effects such as jet lag. You can help prevent and lessen the effects with these simple steps:
- Drink plenty of water. Keep yourself well hydrated throughout the flight.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and limit your sugary drink intake - these beverages can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride.
- Food is harder to digest at high altitudes so eat lightly during the flight and avoid the high-salt, high-fat entrees the airlines and airports tend to serve.
- Get up and stretch now and then to stimulate your circulation and dress comfortably. Learn more about stretching here.
- When you arrive, expose yourself to as much natural daylight as you can. Light is the most powerful influence on the timing of your body’s internal clock.
- Consider melatonin. You can take 2.5 mg of melatonin sublingually at bedtime for one or two nights to significantly reduce jet lag, regardless of the direction of travel.
Concerned about airplane air quality? Some tips to help you breathe easy.
If you experience anxiousness and troubled sleep, but don’t want to use prescription or over-the-counter sedatives, consider jasmine. Researchers have found that the scent of jasmine is as effective as Valium and similar drugs for relieving anxiety, promoting more peaceful sleep, and reducing anxiety upon waking. Particular jasmine fragrances were even shown to have the same neurochemical mechanism of action as barbiturates.
You can get the benefits of jasmine by taking a warm bath or shower with jasmine-scented soaps before bedtime, or placing a diffuser containing jasmine in your bedroom. Other recommendations for getting quality rest include paying attention to your sleep hygiene - don’t drink anything containing caffeine or alcohol before bedtime, keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature and make sure there is minimal or no light when you go to sleep. It's also helpful to spend time outdoors during the day, and take short, daytime naps when you feel tired and are able to do so.
Yoga can invigorate your immune system, release stress and enrich your life overall. The Cobra Pose is especially powerful: It is said to promote flexibility in the spine and encourage the chest to open. It can also:
- Strengthen the spine
- Stretch chest and lungs, shoulders and abdomen
- Firm the buttocks
- Stimulate abdominal organs
- Relieve stress and fatigue
Plus, it soothes sciatica and may even help to relieve asthma.
Learn how to do the Cobra Pose.
Five simple healthy habits could do the trick, according to a newly published study from Denmark. Researchers there reviewed data on more than 55,000 adults age 50-64 who were followed for 10 years. The lifestyle factors that appear to be protective include 30 minutes per day of physical activity, no more than seven alcoholic drinks per week for women and no more than 14 for men, not smoking, a healthy diet and a waist circumference below 88 cm (just under 35 inches) for women and 102 cm (40 inches) for men. Adhering to even one of the recommendations could have prevented 13 percent of colon cancers, the researchers calculated; following all five would have reduced colon cancer cases by 23 percent. On entering the study, participants answered questions about social factors, health status, reproductive factors and lifestyle habits. They also filled out a food frequency questionnaire developed to assess average intake over a year. The study was published online on October 26, 2010 at www.bmj.com.
More information on reducing colon cancer risk.