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Monday
Mar072016

The Extended Side Angle Pose

Today, we look at the Extended Side Angle pose – a good way to stretch the legs and knees. Learn how to perform it and try it this week!

Yoga facilitates the joining or uniting of the mind, body and spirit to enrich the quality of life and enhance health. The Extended Side Angle Pose exemplifies this unity, creating a stretch along the entirety the body, from the back heel through the raised arm. The benefits of this pose include:

  •  Strengthening and stretching of the legs, knees and ankles
  •  Stretching of the groin, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders
  • Stimulating abdominal organs
  • Increasing stamina

You should use caution while performing this pose if you have high (or low) blood pressure or insomnia. Learn more about the Extended Side Angle Pose, including a picture of the proper way to complete the pose. 

Friday
Mar042016

Does Carbonation Make You Fat?

You may have heard that carbonation leads to weight gain – a claim that goes around the internet every so often. If you sip fizzy drinks are you encouraging extra pounds? 

Can imbibing too many carbonated drinks make you fat? While the fizziness of carbonated drinks is not a direct contributor to weight gain, once you factor in the unhealthy amounts of sugar that carbonated sodas contain, adding unwanted pounds can most definitely be a side effect of consuming carbonated drinks.

If you crave the fizz, opt for carbonated mineral waters that have no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. There seems to be no solid evidence that the carbonation itself contributes to weight gain. Add a bit of fruit juice if you want a sweeter taste - you'll get the carbonation without all the empty calories.

Wednesday
Mar022016

5 Reasons to Consider Fasting

 

Intermittent fasting (IF) has its pros and cons, and is not right for everyone. But for some, it can help lower the risk of heart concerns, cancer risk and more. Learn about intermittent fasting, how to do it, and who should avoid it.

Intermittent fasting, or IF, refers to repeatedly going without solid food for longer periods than is typical on a daily breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule. Variations are endless. Some proponents skip breakfast; others dinner. Others fast all day every other day, every third day, once per week, or once per month. Fasting periods accelerate the clearing out of waste left by dead and damaged cells, a process known as autophagy. A failure of autophagy to keep up with accumulated cellular debris is believed by many scientists to be one of the major causes of the chronic diseases associated with aging.

Positive effects of IF suggested by animal and human studies include:

  1. Decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
  2. Decreased cancer risk.
  3. Lower diabetes risk (at least in animals, data on humans were less clear).
  4. Improved cognitive function.
  5. Protection against some effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Dr. Weil does not recommend IF for teens, nor pregnant or lactating women. Some health conditions - such as severe gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD - are easier to manage when food intake is more regular. But getting hungry now and then is clearly a healthy thing to do as long as overall caloric intake stays high enough to maintain a healthy weight. If you do fast, be sure to drink water or other fluids to stay hydrated.

Monday
Feb292016

3 Ways to Prevent Blindness

Keeping your vision as clear as possible is vital – but an unhealthy lifestyle and diet can be detrimental to your eyesight. Try adding these three simple suggestions to your daily routine to help prevent macular degeneration and other vision concerns. 

The leading cause of blindness in those over the age of 60 - affecting more than 13 million Americans - is macular degeneration. The health of the macula (an oval spot in the center of the retina that's essential for central vision) depends on a very rich blood supply, and anything that interferes with circulation can cause damage to the macula and decrease its ability to function.

Unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices can reduce the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients to the eye, eventually leading to the death of cells in the retina and macula. To help prevent macular degeneration and other vision problems, consider the following: 

1. Stop smoking. The nicotine in tobacco smoke can decrease blood supply by causing a narrowing of the blood vessels and a thickening of the blood. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.

2.  Eat a diet low in sugar, flour and oxidized oils (such as soybean oils used in processed foods and deep-fat frying). These can contribute to plaque build-up along blood vessel walls, including those supplying the macula, which impedes blood flow.

3. Get enough antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein. These antioxidant compounds may help prevent plaque from sticking to the blood vessel walls, lessening the risk of damage to the tissue.

Friday
Feb262016

Help Moderate Inflammation with Ginger

Chronic inflammation can take its toll on the body – but taking ginger may help counteract the risks and symptoms. Find out what makes ginger a good choice, and how much to take.

Chronic low-grade inflammation has been linked to the development of many age-related health conditions. Although this process may not be noticed physically, there are things you can do to prevent or delay health issues related to inappropriate inflammation. Consider following an anti-inflammatory diet and taking ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory herb that may help to lessen the risks and/or symptoms of many inflammation-related disorders. Dried ginger preparations are actually more powerful than fresh because of a chemical conversion of its constituents on drying. Capsules of dried, powdered ginger are now commonly sold in health food stores; use only those that are standardized for their content of active components. The recommended starting dose is one gram per day (usually two capsules), taken after a meal to avoid stomach irritation. There is no toxicity and you can stay on it indefinitely.

Wednesday
Feb242016

Plastic in the Microwave: How Harmful is it?

Is using plastic wrap when reheating or cooking foods in the microwave harmful to your health? 

It's not uncommon to see people microwaving leftovers in plastic dishes, heating up meals in the plastic containers they come in, or placing plastic wrap over foods to protect the inside of a microwave from splatters. Is all this as innocent as it seems?

I don't think so. While plastic has many terrific uses, when it comes to cooking it should be avoided. DEHA [di-(2-ethylhexyl)adipate], sometimes found in cling wrap, and other chemicals commonly found in plastic are potential endocrine disruptors, and can negatively influence hormonal activity. While studies are underway to better define the health risks associated with plastics, it is best to steer clear of using plastic and plastic wrap in the microwave, as the heat can drive plastic molecules into your food. Instead, use glass or ceramic containers and cover foods with waxed paper or a paper towel. I also suggest avoiding pre-packaged foods that come in cling wrap (if you purchase such products, transfer these items to a different storage container once you get home).

Monday
Feb222016

Want to Drop the Pounds? Try these Snacks!

If you like to snack but want to manage your weight, consider these suggestions. Each is a healthy option that will tide you over until your next meal!

Eating small, healthful meals throughout the day not only helps keep blood sugar levels stable and energy levels high, but can also help prevent overeating and promote a healthy weight. Start by making your main meals smaller in size and stocking up on healthy, satisfying snack items to round out your day. Good choices include:

1. Fresh or lightly steamed veggies
2. Hummus with crudites
3. Seasonal fruit with a little organic, whole-fat plain yogurt and freshly ground flaxseed
4. A small piece of cheese or smoked salmon

These healthy snacks also have the added benefit of being part of the anti-inflammatory diet that I recommend, and may help reduce the incidence of inflammation-related diseases.

Friday
Feb192016

Yoga: The Cobra Pose

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. See how to do the Cobra Pose!

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