Archive for May, 2013

Yoga – For a Healthier You

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Yoga is fast becoming one of the most popular relaxation exercises. Yoga techniques include physical postures, body and mind discipline, breathing control and meditation. Allowing cancer patients to do simple yoga meditation exercises can help reduce stress and condition their minds for cancer treatments. Below are some of the benefits of practicing Yoga:

  • Promotes sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves breathing
  • Gives patient a sense of well-being
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Enhances blood circulation
  • Strengthens muscles

Basic Yoga Techniques

Pranayamas are yoga breathing exercises designed to eliminate impurities in the body and improve the mind. All exercises must be performed while sitting with eyes closed. All breathing must be done with the tongue’s tip touching the mouth’s roof.

Deerga Swasam: Complete Breath

This is a type of breathing exercise which promotes proper breathing technique. Breathe slowly and deep thru the nose with the tongue’s tip touching the mouth’s roof. Direct the air to your diaphragm and slowly fill your stomach with air. Inhale until chest area is completely filled with air. Gently lift your shoulders as you slowly feel the air filling your lungs. Exhaling, pull your stomach in as deeply as possible while releasing the air. Relax all chest, shoulder and chest muscles as you expel air thru your nose. Total duration for each exercise should take 1 minute, 30 seconds to inhale and 30 seconds for exhaling.

Brahmari: Humming Bee

This breathing exercise teaches how to properly control exhaling and reduce stress. Students are instructed to enter a meditative state before each exercise and instructed to reduce their pace of breathing.  Perform complete breath exercise and produce a humming sound as you exhale slowly. Listen carefully to the pitch and tone of the hum produced and continue to perform the exercise until a pleasant sound is produced.

Kapalabhati: Skull Shining
Kapalabhati is a relatively simple breathing exercise. It is based on the lungs natural property to fill itself with air when open. This breathing exercise doesn’t focus on breathing but on moving your diaphragm. Abdominal muscles are used to move the diaphragm while you concentrate on keeping your lungs open. The diaphragm controls the movement of air in the lungs. Pushing the diaphragm up forces the air in the lungs to be expelled (exhalation), relaxing the diaphragm increases lung volume forcing air to be pushed in back to the lungs (inhalation). This breathing exercise is required prior to performing Bastrika.

Bastrika: Bellows

Practice rapid breathing movements similar to those in Kapalahati. Perform these movements as fast as possible with emphasis on more forceful exhalation. Perform inhalation slowly and hold breath for a few seconds. While holding your breath, lean forward to press your chin to your chest as far as possible. Gently raise your head as you exhale thru the nose.

Anuloma Viloma: Opposite Nostril Breathing
Anuloma Viloma is a breathing exercise that aims to improve air movement thru nasal passages. It also promotes a smoother and slower movement of air while both nasal passages are equally trained. The breathing exercise also increases the amount of air that could pass thru to the lungs. Anuloma Viloma decreases and eliminates snoring and prevents sinus clogging.

First perform Kapalabhati or Bastrika to prepare body for a lesser oxygen supplies. Mild oxygen levels maybe experienced as covering one nostril constricts the flow of oxygen to the body. Perform the Vishnu mudra. Fold the first and middle fingers into the palm, taking note to keep the pinky, thumb, ring fingers straight. Perform complete breath technique thru both nostrils. Cover one nostril by using the pinky and ring fingers and exhale using the other nostril.

Still covering the other nostril, inhale thru the nostril which you just exhaled thru. Cover this nostril and exhale thru the nostril which was previously covered. Alternate nostrils and perform the exercise for about 10 minutes.

How to Encourage Good Eating Habits for Children

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Having troubles with your child’s eating habit? Well, you’re not alone. Most of the parents today are having the same problem like you have. Toddlers nowadays are picky when it comes to food. They always have their favorites, which usually doesn’t supply the proper nutrition that their body needs.

If your kid does not eat sufficient calories for their body in a day, well don’t panic. Instead, consult your doctor to start developing a healthy eating habit for your child.

Here are some tips to help you encourage your child’s good eating habits:

1. You can start by giving your child three regular meals and three snacks in a day. Being consistent with meal and snack times makes a child less likely to try to tell you when they will or won’t eat.

2. In choosing the right foods in each meal or snack, try giving them a variety of foods. Offer foods that your child likes, but also some that they haven’t tried or liked yet. Usually, your child may not show interest eating those foods, but there’s no harm in trying. You can always try several times, maybe even ten times, offering the same foods they initially rejected because high familiarity with the food may increase your child’s interest on the food.

3. Play with food, in a good way. Sometimes, playing with foods will make your child more interested in it. Some children form faces with their meals, some form animals. Children can be creative with their meals, so let them enjoy it–as long as they’re eating it eventually.

4. Adding some salt, sugar or cheese works most of the time. Cheese could be added to vegetables. Some likes to have it melted as toppings. Of course, you’d want to use these ingredients in moderation.

5. Watch the liquids. We all know soda pops are not healthy. But too much of milk and juice may not be good, either. Limit those fluids to a few cups a day. It’s best to get fruit juice from whole fruits, anyway. Encourage the drinking of water, since it is so good for the body, and is a great habit to develop. And remember, drinking liquids before a meal will make one feel satiated, and likely to eat less food.

6. Forcing your child to eat their whole meal was once the norm, but it’s been a long held belief in modern times that this practice is not healthy. Children always know if they’re hungry or not. If they insist upon not eating dinner but prefer to eat snacks, then cut down on the size of snack portions so they’ll be hungry at meal times. You can also offer them a deal or bargain. For example, if they eat a set amount of their meal, they get to eat a snack afterward. But forcing children to always clean their plate discourages them from learning to stop eating when they’re full.

7. If you have a malnourished or underweight child, adding dry nonfat milk into their milk, soup or even on pudding could help them get some extra calories. Some of these other tasty, calorie-rich foods may help: margarine, cream cheese, peanut butter and syrup. Just make sure they’re not allergic to any of those ingredients, of course.

8. Eat together. Eating is a social event. Studies have shown that eating alone is bad for the digestion. So if you’re so busy that you plop your kid down at the dinner table to eat by themselves while you do dishes or get your office work together, you may want to rethink that lifestyle. Much quality time and conversation with family and friends occurs during meal times. Use this rule of eating together as an opportunity to force yourself to stop being busy for a few moments so you can enjoy the company of others. Eating together not only will make meals more pleasant for your child, but for yourself, as well.

If all else fails, never hesitate to consult your doctor. If your child is excessively overweight or underweight, trying to determine the best way to get your child to eat nutritiously is like taking medicines: never self-medicate. Always consult the experts.

Managing Chronic Pain Naturally

Monday, May 27th, 2013

It is estimated that around 100 million Americans are chronic pain sufferers. And a quick stroll into your local pharmacy’s extensive pain management section will confirm this. In today’s hustle and bustle world, finding relied from pain can be as easy as popping a pill. But even the “safest” pain medication is bound to have its own share of dangers and risks if not taken properly.

The danger with long term use of pain medications is that the body may become immune to its effects or worse damage vital organs such as the kidney. Some of us even go as far as self-medicate which could be dangerous even with the use of over the counter drugs.

There are definitely safer and more natural ways to manage pain. These methods do not only help in controlling pain but also restores the natural balance in our body. And one little known way is by simply switching to a healthier diet. This could be done by eating a plant-based, nutrient rich diet that reduces inflammation naturally.

A huge contributor to nagging chronic weight problems we see today could be traced to the Standard American Diet which has been described as one of the more inflammatory diets. Our fast food culture and salty snacks have lead to overweight, chronic pain and fatigue problems. Most of us seem to be unaware or generally unconcerned with how a typical western diet affects our health.

We are what we eat and most of the health problems we see today are diet or lifestyle related. Finding relief from chronic pain can be done by switching to a healthy diet. So the next time you’re planning a short trip to the pharmacy for some pain medications why not take a look into these simple tips before popping in that pill.

Eat green-leafy vegetables. If there is one great reason to start going the veggie route, it’s because it helps reduce chronic pain by increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut. This area of the body is constantly exposed to toxins from food and the environment. A healthy digestive system keeps our body in tip-top shape. Nutrients from food are processed better therefore strengthening our immune system. This is also the area where 96 percent of our serotonin is produced. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that lessens the stress of chronic pain.

Cane sugar can be a good way of providing temporary relief from pain by stimulating reward centers in the brain but also increases pain levels in the long run. Sugars could set people suffering from chronic pain by 3-4 weeks. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Just because these are alternatives it does not mean that they are not likely to produce the same effects as other sugars.

Margarine and other hydrogenated contain fatty acids that coat cell membranes which interfere with cellular communication. It could also lead to toxin buildup and disrupt waste removal. A body full of toxins and lactic acid increases our risk for chronic pain.

Other foods that chronic pain sufferers should avoid include wheat and all its products. People should also avoid common allergens such as corn, eggs, peanuts and other dairy products.

Healthy sources of essential fatty acids include avocados, walnuts, fish and flax seed oil. Anti-inflammatory fatty acids reduce symptoms of asthma and chronic pain. Build your immune and inflammatory system by strengthening it with healthy fatty acids.

Stress is a major trigger for pain. This might only be psychological but it places so much pressure on our body that constant high levels of stress could lead to chronic pain. Low impact exercises such as swimming, brisk walking or yoga helps release pent-up stress. Getting enough sleep also helps the body recuperate more quickly.

Get that natural high by helping your body release more endorphins, the body’s answer for pain medications. Pain is our body’s signal that something is wrong physically. Pain is a personal experience and the intensity varies from one person to another. A positive attitude helps reduce the stress of pain and lessens our need for pain relievers. When we are able to handle pain naturally, we are able to live fuller and happier lives.

There’s An App for That

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

there's an app for thatWith the popularity of smart phones growing by the day, the health world has joined in on the hype by creating numerous apps that bring the keys to better health right to your phone.

Here are some of the best health apps available today.

Heart Disease Risk Calculator

If you are in need of a reality check and you are in possession of an iPhone, simply download the free Heart Disease Risk Calculator app to find out what your odds are of having a heart attack, stroke or heart failure within the next decade.  While the advice given within the app is not to be taken over the advice of a medical doctor, it will still help you to encourage healthy eating and living.

My Last Cigarette

If you made a New Year’s Resolution to quit smoking and nearly four months later you still haven’t quit, then perhaps you should download the My Last Cigarette app.  Only $1 for the iPhone, this app tells you how much money you are saving by not smoking and how much you have altered your life expectancy by quitting.  The app also provides motivational messages to keep you smoke-free, which most researchers believe help people to stay their course after quitting.

Instant Heart Rate

Using just your smart phone camera and the Instant Heart Rate free app for both iPhone and Android, doctors agree that this is one of the most accurate heart rate monitor apps.

Allergy Caddy

For those with food allergies, Allergy Caddy available for the iPhone for just $2 helps you to avoid certain foods at more than 30 different restaurant chains by consulting the public accessible data available through the app.

MelApp

Utilizing the extensive database at Johns Hopkins University coupled with pattern-recognition technology, MelApp, available for $2 on the iPhone, can access your melanoma risk by simply scanning your photos of lesions that are questionable.

ZocDoc

Available at no cost for the Android, Blackberry and iPhone, ZocDoc allows you to search for dentists and physicians in many major U.S. markets.  After reading the review and choosing a doctor, you can make an appointment without making any phone calls.

Medscape

This free app for all three major smart phones tracks any drug interactions and safety data for more than 8,000 drugs. Medscape also provides medical news and information on more than 4,000 diseases and conditions.

Healthy Weight Gain – Naturally and Safely

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Most of us are concerned with shaving off unwanted pounds in our body but there are also a good number of people who are actively seeking ways to put on weight. But before you start gorging on fatty foods or salty snacks, you should also consider what you put in your body. Everybody should know their ideal weight. While being overweight is unhealthy, dieting to the point of depriving our body of badly needed nutrients is far from being healthy.

Each person might have different needs in terms of maintaining their ideal body weight. It is totally normal for a taller person to weigh more than those who are shorter but they can still be considered healthy.

For those who feel that they are tool lanky and would like to create more curves or guys who would like to develop their physique then gaining some much needed pounds is a must. Below is a simple guide to healthier weight gain:

Determining your Ideal Body Weight

Before starting your journey, you must first consider your ideal body weight. This is crucial in keeping weight gain within healthy limits. Gain too much and you risk suffering from medical conditions due to overweight problems. Make a diet program and calculate the amount of pounds you need to reach your ideal weight. Working with a dietitian could help you plan effectively. You should also consider the amount of time needed to achieve this. After all, your body needs time to adjust itself to these extra pounds.

Count your calories

After determining the amount of pounds you need to achieve your ideal weight. Make a conscious effort to record your calorie intake. This way you could increase your weight safely. This allows you to plan your meals accordingly. Gaining weight does not give you the license to go on an eating spree and grab all the food you could find.

Keep off the junk

Eating salty snacks could be the easiest way to gain some pounds. If you’ve managed to keep yourself slim by staying away from salty snacks then this would not be the right time to start another unhealthy habit. Gain weight by stocking up on healthy food and nutrients. Fast food, processed food, salty snacks and chocolate bars might give you an instant boost on your road to gaining weight but these could exact a huge toll on your health.

Stick to healthier alternative rich in protein and nutrients. Tofu, fish, lean meat, beans and white meat in general are healthy choices. Switch to healthy snacks like fruits to gain healthy pounds and not stuff yourself with excess fats.

Eat more frequently

If eating large meals is not your thing then eat small frequent meals. Instead of targeting three large meals a day then why not insert healthy snacks between meals. This also improves your digestion. Improved digestion means food is processed more efficiently.

People with a busy lifestyle could also benefit by bringing healthy snacks to work. The problem with today’s hectic world is that we often grab the first food available. Gain weight while building your discipline by sticking to healthy snacks. You can avoid this unhealthy habit by preparing snacks and meals at home. Fruits, juice drinks, fiber rich rice, whole wheat bread and vegetable salads are some of the healthy alternatives.

Protein and health Shakes

Health shakes are the quite popular now with those hoping to gain some pounds or those building muscles because they are easy to consume nutrient rich sources. This is especially useful for people who regularly visit the gym. It gives them an instant source of nutrients for muscle building.