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White Rice or Brown Rice: The Healthier Choice

Want to get more fiber and nutrients out of your rice choice? Find out which one you should pick next time you grocery shop!

Wheat remains one of the primary staple grains in the United States, and the glycemic load of processed wheat is a likely contributor to America's obesity epidemic. Rice-based diets have been used historically to address a number of medical conditions, and have gained some popularity as a means to help lose weight.

The health benefits of unpolished, brown rice outweigh those of white rice, as its whole grain provides more fiber, iron, B vitamins and other nutrients. (There are 1.5 grams of fiber per half cup of brown rice - almost three times the fiber in the same amount of white rice.) So next time you are making a rice dish, opt for brown - your body will thank you!


Worried You Have GERD?

Frequent heartburn may mean you have GERD. Learn more about GERD, what causes it, and natural treatments that can bring relief.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn - twice a week or more - you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs in people whose lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck areas. It can also cause nausea, coughing, belching, the feeling of a ball in the throat, a bitter taste and respiratory problems, including aggravation of asthma. Diet, stress, smoking and pregnancy can all trigger or worsen symptoms.

If you think you have GERD, see a doctor to rule out other concerns, such as angina, which has similar symptoms. Discuss any medications you are taking: some can trigger reflux. If you are started on an acid-suppressing medication, try to view this as temporary relief while you work on the root concerns, as the long-term side effects are concerning. If you want to naturally treat GERD try the following: 

  1. Keep a food and beverage journal. It can help you identify, track and later avoid triggers.
  2. Eat small, frequent meals.
  3. Wear loose clothing and maintain a healthy weight. Both can prevent stomach constriction and help reduce GERD.
  4. Avoid lying down after eating.
  5. Try a 3-week elimination of common food sensitivities like gluten and dairy.
  6. Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
  7. Sip chamomile tea or chew DGL licorice tablets. Both can help soothe inflamed tissue in the esophagus.
  8. Try sleeping on your left side. This may help move acid away from the entrance of the esophagus. Raising the head of the bed by a few inches can also help.



Getting Better Rest, Part 2

Our last tip covered four ways to promote better rest and sleep, which are vital for overall, optimal health. Get five more simple suggestions here!

Rest is as important as physical activity for general health. Identify periods during the day when you can be without stimulation, doing nothing, and make time for them. Consider the following when planning rest into your schedule:

  1. To minimize early waking, try to postpone the evening meal until after dusk.
  2. If your mind is too active when you get into bed, you will not be able to fall asleep - no matter how tired you are. Learn and practice one or more relaxation techniques that can help you disengage from thoughts.
  3. Consider natural sleep aids. Valerian and melatonin are both effective remedies for occasional insomnia.
  4. Determine how much sleep is optimal for you. People vary in their need for sleep, from as few as four hours a night to as many as 10. Most require seven to eight hours, but ideal amounts can change over time, and may vary from day to day. You can adjust your bedtime and see how you feel after sleeping for various amounts of time, or simply note how much you slept on days when you feel rested and productive.
  5. If you do wake early, try to use the time productively. Read or write for an hour, then try to go back to sleep until morning. Think of the yin-yang symbol, which symbolizes harmony with a small dot of white on a black background and vice versa. Seen from this perspective, a period of nighttime wakefulness complements your daytime nap.



Want Better Rest? Try These Tips

Rest is as important as physical activity for general health. Identify periods during the day when you can be without stimulation, doing nothing, and make time for them. Consider the following when planning rest into your schedule:

  1. Try to get into the habit of napping 10 to 20 minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
  2. Spend some time outdoors as often as you can to get exposure to bright, natural light. If you are concerned about harmful effects of solar radiation, do it before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. or use sunscreen.
  3. Try to give yourself about an hour in dim light before you go to sleep at night. Lower the lighting in your house and bedroom. This includes exposure to computer, phone and tablet screens. If other members of the household object, wear sunglasses.

  4.  Pay attention to sleep hygiene. All the details of lifestyle, including intake of caffeine, quality and comfort of your mattress, and bedroom design affect the quality of sleep. When you are ready to go to sleep, try to keep your bedroom completely dark.

Don't miss our next post for five more suggestions for better rest!


Youthful Looking Eyes in 6 Steps

If eye wrinkles, puffiness or dark circles are bothering you, skip the invasive procedures and try these effective, natural techniques for firmer, brighter eyes!

  1. Don't resort to invasive procedures for youthful-looking eyes - try these simple steps:
  2. Wear sunscreen. Ultraviolet rays can weaken collagen, causing premature wrinkling and sagging.
  3. Invest in quality sunglasses. Look for ones that block out UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Don't smoke. It affects the blood supply that keeps skin tissue looking healthy and supple.
  5. Use a moisturizer for hydration.
  6. Consider a vitamin A cream, which can help prevent wrinkles and minimize ones you already have.
  7. Cool down inflammation around your eyes. Puffy eyes can be addressed with cucumber slices, cold spoons or chilled teabags.



3 Steps to Healthier Cheese Choices

Get the most out of your cheese choices by skipping the low-fat, processed cheeses and instead following these recommendations.

From cheese-stuffed sandwiches to the samples on toothpicks in the grocery store, cheese seems to be everywhere. While it is a good source of calcium, its high calorie (and often high sodium) content suggest it should be enjoyed in moderation. On the other hand, calories from fat don’t appear to drive weight gain to the extent that calories from carbohydrates do – this may help explain why the cheese-loving French have far lower obesity rates than we do in the U.S. In any case, try the following when the cheese plate comes your way:

  1. Choose a cheese you really enjoy and savor it all by itself – skip the cracker!
  2. Opt for high-quality, full-fat, organic versions.
  3. If you're pregnant, avoid soft cheeses (such as feta, goat, blue and brie) as they may harbor Listeria, a bacterium that can harm a growing baby. Instead, choose hard cheeses like true Parmesan, Gruyere and hard Swiss cheese when you're eating for two.

For more healthy food information, join Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - where you’ll find hundreds of recipes, articles and guides based on the Dr. Weil-recommended Anti-Inflammatory Diet!


Want to Try Magnet Therapy?

You may have seen athletes wearing magnetic bracelets or necklaces – used for a variety of reasons. Learn more about magnet therapy and who may benefit from it.

Magnets have long been promoted as treatment for a wide variety of disorders. Proponents claim magnets can minimize pain and anxiety, and treat cancer, heart disease, snoring, incontinence and just about everything else. While most of these claims are unproven, and most magnets on the market are unlikely to do any good at all, several studies do suggest that magnets may have something to offer for pain relief:

  • A 1997 study at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston showed that 76 percent of patients treated with magnets for severe joint and muscle pain due to post-polio syndrome reported less pain compared to only 19 percent of those who received placebos.
  • University of Virginia researchers said participants reported clinically meaningful improvements when using magnet therapy to reduce the intensity of pain from fibromyalgia (researchers also cautioned the overall results of their study were inconclusive).
  • A University of Tennessee study showed that 60 percent of women with pelvic pain reported improvements after three weeks of magnet therapy compared to 33 percent of those treated with placebos.

Taken as a whole, studies suggesting that magnets help with pain relief are outnumbered by those that find no benefit.

If you do try magnet therapy, keep in mind that using magnets is not without risk, particularly for those with a pacemaker or other implantable medical device such as a defibrillator, insulin pump or liver infusion pump. In addition, therapeutic magnets are often pricey, there is no evidence that magnet therapy is safe during pregnancy, and there have been anecdotal reports of dizziness, nausea and prolongation of wound healing and bleeding among those wearing magnets.


Sitting or Standing: What Should You Choose?

It’s been said that sitting is the new smoking – in other words, sitting for hours daily is now being linked to dangerous health conditions, just as smoking was in previous decades. Find out what makes standing the healthier option, and ways to make standing something you do easily and naturally.

If you are concerned about heart disease and weight gain, one simple move can make a big difference: stand up! Even if you get regular exercise, prolonged sitting can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. When you are inactive for long periods of time, your body's metabolism slows down; this can lead to weight gain, which raises the risk of many diseases including type 2 diabetes and many cardiovascular conditions.

Some simple ways to stand more often without even thinking about include:

  1. Getting up every hour and filling your glass with water - drink it while standing up.
  2. If you are in a long meeting at work, stand in the corner for a period of time. Better yet, if the weather is cooperative, schedule "walking meetings."
  3. When you are on the phone or writing emails, try standing instead sitting - you can do this at home by writing emails at your kitchen counter.
  4. At work, look into a stand-up desk. These raise and lower via a built-in motor, and offer the flexibility to stand or sit.
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