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What’s The Worst Injury You Have Suffered? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed whiplash and some natural remedies for treating the injury: What to Do About Whiplash? Check out the article and let us know what injury was the worst you have suffered.


Is “Hot Yoga” Healthy?

Bikram yoga was created in 1971 by Bikram Choudhury, an Indian entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. It is called "hot" for good reason: classes are held in rooms with the temperature set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity controlled at 60 percent. It consists of 26 yoga poses (asanas) designed to warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a specific order. Choudhury claims that the 26 poses work every part of the body, and provide internal organs and muscles with what they need to maintain optimum health. He maintains that the high heat is necessary for protection of muscles and allows for deeper stretching, detoxification of the body and other benefits.

While it's true that warmer muscles are more flexible and better able to stretch, I have concerns about exercising in high heat since it can be particularly stressful on the body - even for those who are very fit. It is also easier to overstretch muscles in a hot environment without being aware of it at the time, possibly resulting in muscle strains or even damage to joints.

If you decide to try Bikram yoga, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the routine and pay close attention to how you feel. Take a break if you find the poses too strenuous and stop immediately if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, overheated or experience chest pain. In general, I suggest avoiding Bikram yoga if you're sensitive to heat and have experienced heat stroke or dehydration in the past. If you have arthritis or any type of joint problem or high (or low) blood pressure, be sure to check with your doctor before taking a Bikram yoga class. If you have heart disease or are pregnant, I advise you to choose other types of yoga.


Cayenne - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Cayenne pepper is known for its immune boosting potential: besides the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin, cayenne is also an excellent source of carotenoids, including beta carotene - a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent free radical damage. Its high levels of vitamin A (two teaspoons of cayenne pepper provide 47 percent of the daily value for vitamin A) support immune function as well.

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Dr. Weil Recommends: The Healthiest Oil

Olive oil, once used in the U.S. primarily by immigrants from Mediterranean countries and adventurous gourmets, is now mainstream. In 2013, Americans consumed over 338 metric tons, about ten times the amount used in 1982. This is good news, as olive oil has multiple health benefits:

• It has the highest percentage of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat of any edible oil.

• Quality brands contain abundant antioxidants - substances that have been shown to provide cardiovascular and anti-cancer effects.

• If you're watching your weight, adding extra olive oil to your diet can help you feel full longer.

• Regular consumption of olive oil may help increase concentrations of a bone protective protein known as osteocalcin.

Plus quality extra-virgin olive tastes wonderful: the vibrant green treat has probably helped many Americans realize that there is no need to sacrifice sensory pleasure in pursuit of healthy eating. One easy way to get more olive oil is to use it instead of butter in low temperature cooking, on top of fresh vegetables or as a salad dressing.

When buying olive oil, choose small bottles of certified organic oil. Check the label for the ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale, which means Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute) logo, or that of another organic certification body such as the USDA's green-and-white ORGANIC logo.


Want To Get More From Your Workout?

If you want to make your workouts more effective, consider a workout partner. A study from Michigan State suggests that the best approach to developing a longer, better workout may be exercising with a partner who is stronger than you. Most people don't meet the goal of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. But when paired with a partner, study participants exercised 200 percent longer than those without partners.

I have long recommended spending time in the company of those who practice habits that you wish to emulate. Exercising with a friend is a good way to maintain a commitment to a regular workout, and exercising with someone who is a bit more fit than you are may motivate you to ask more of yourself, as did the students in this study. While it's good to be a bit uncomfortable with a routine that requires effort, and your workout should challenge you, be careful of injury - competition can be a powerful motivator, but a competitive spirit shouldn't override your body's signals that you're overdoing it.


What Mushroom is Your Favorite? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the health benefits of some common mushrooms: Mushrooms for Good Health? Check out the article and let us know which mushroom is your favorite to eat.


Is Bad Cholesterol Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease?

Here’s another potential reason to watch your cholesterol levels. New research from the University of California, Davis, suggests that the cholesterol levels often associated with cardiovascular disease may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease as well. For the study, investigators measured the blood lipid levels of 74 seniors with normal to mildly impaired cognitive function. They also measured deposits of beta amyloid protein in their subjects’ brains with PET (positron emission tomography) scans and found that participants with higher levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol had higher levels of Alzheimer’s-related amyloid in the brain. High levels of LDL cholesterol have been considered a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease while high levels of HDL cholesterol are believed to protect the heart. Some earlier studies have suggested that drugs that lower LDL might protect against Alzheimer’s but results have been inconsistent. In the new study, no links were seen between amyloid levels and the use of cholesterol-lowering medication. The researchers wrote that the study doesn’t prove that cholesterol levels in the blood directly affect deposition of amyloid proteins. They suggested that high LDL levels could be predictive of vascular damage from small strokes that might play a part in amyloid deposition. In other words, high LDL could be an effect, rather than a cause, of another process that raises stroke risk. They concluded that their findings should be replicated in other studies to confirm the association between Alzheimer's and cholesterol.

Bruce Reed et al, “Associations between Serum Cholesterol Levels and Cerebral Amyloidosis,” JAMA Neurology, doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.5390


Nutritional Yeast - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, providing all 18 amino acids, making it a good alternative to animal-based proteins. It is also a good source of fiber, and contains B-complex vitamins. It is sometimes fortified with vitamin B12, which is naturally obtained through red meat, eggs, fish, shellfish and dairy - another reason it is popular with vegans (and vegetarians). It is low in sodium and provides iron, selenium, folic acid and potassium.

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