Category: Health

When Science Says You Should Drink that First Cup of Coffee

Posted on Jul 1, 2015 by No Comments

Most of us coffee drinkers tend to stumble into the new day with a visit to the kitchen for that first cup of joe. It turns out that according to a video recently posted by Asap Science, drinking that cup of coffee first thing in the morning is really not the best time to give our body that jolt of caffeine.

Instead, we are supposed to wait for about an hour after waking up to enjoy that first cup of coffee. The reason behind the timing has to do with our built-in biological clock – our circadian rhythm – which regulates the release of a hormone called cortisol.

This hormone influences, regulates or modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress and even how sleepy we feel throughout the day.

Cortisol levels normally fluctuate throughout the day and night with our circadian rhythm peaking around 8 or 9 a.m. and reaching its lowest levels around 4 in the morning.

According to Asap Science, “This means that your body has a natural mechanism to wake up. And while you may think that caffeine can complement this mechanism, scientists have actually found that consuming coffee or energy drinks during peak cortisol production greatly diminishes the caffeine’s effect and builds up a greater tolerance to the drug in the long run.”

What that means to us coffee drinkers is that over time coffee is less effective and we’ll need more to wake up or stay awake.

The final advice from Asap Science is that we “Wait at least an hour” after waking up before drinking our first cup of coffee because cortisol levels increase by about 50 percent right after we wake up, no matter what time it is.

This cortisol surge we experience is regulated by sunlight and science shows we experience two other spikes during the day. One between noon and 1 p.m. and the other between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

That means we should avoid having a cup of coffee at all these times if we want to experience the maximum effectiveness of caffeine.

I think I’m going to go get a cup of coffee and think this over.

Photo credits: Eneas De Troya

Average Woman’s Weight About 20 Pounds Higher Since the 60s

Posted on Jun 29, 2015 by No Comments

Often when I’m watching old movies, I marvel at how slim everyone looks. I’m not just talking about women, but men, too.

In fact, even if you watch the Three Stooges, you’ll notice that Curly isn’t really fat. They just made him look heavier than he was by dressing him in clothes that were too small for him.

Out of curiosity, I looked up average sizes of women from the 1950s and it turns out they were about two inches shorter than the average woman of today and they weighed around 101.

Their bust and hips were a little more than an inch smaller than today’s woman on average, but their waistlines were 6 inches smaller. Wow! Can you say belly fat!

By the 1960s the average woman had gained some weight with the average around 140. Men weighed around 166 pounds. How does that compare to today? The average weight of women today is 166 pounds and men are around 195.

I know obesity and overweight are problems in this country as well as elsewhere and it does make me wonder where we’ll be by the time our kids reach adulthood.

But an even more important question is, how did we get here? If we can find the answer to that question, it might offer the answer to how to slim down and stay that way.

If we take a look at how people at in the 1960s lived, we’ll see they ate more carbs than we do with about 55 percent of their diet coming from carbs found in vegetables, cereal and bread.

For those carb counters out there I know that may seem high, but today carbs usually make up about 45 percent of our diet and most of them don’t come from vegetables. Today’s dietary intake is 40 percent from fat and back then it was like 32 percent fat.

But here’s the real eye opener. We eat twice as much sugar today. I think therein is our main problem.

Other differences? We were more active then, we didn’t watch much TV (in the early 60s it amounted to about an hour a day), didn’t snack very often, and we made more meals at home.

Plus we didn’t have computers, tablets and other tech gadgets which encourage us to be sedentary. Imagine if we rolled that online activity into our one hour of TV time!

Gradually we’ve changed and the result isn’t really good for our waistlines.

Photo credits: Glamourdaze

Advantage of Greek Yogurt Over Traditional Yogurt

Posted on Jun 29, 2015 by No Comments

Our grocery stores have steadily grown in size over the years. Many now carry much more than food products, but even the food sections are bigger than entire stores used to be. That’s because the number of products on the shelves continues to grow.

Today we have entire aisles dedicated to cereal or soaps, and in the dairy section we have whole milk, 2% milk, skim milk, almond and soy milks.

One of the newest expansions is in the yogurt case. So what’s the difference between traditional yogurt and some of the newcomers that are gaining in popularity like Greek yogurt?

I first learned about yogurt decades ago when my aunt from Germany was eating a plain, unsweetened variety like it was a treat. Once I tasted it, I determined yogurt wasn’t for me.

A few years later, I tried sweetened yogurt with fruit and changed my mind. I ate it because the fermented product was good for me but also because it tasted good.

Now Greek yogurt has become really popular, and other countries are being represented as well with Icelandic and Australian varieties of yogurt starting to enter the market, too.

The popularity of Greek yogurt, however, has really taken the market by storm. In 2011 it made up a little more than 20 percent of the market and by 2013 it made up more than 40 percent of the total market.

The difference? It offers twice as much protein as regular yogurt, and it is creamier than regular unstrained yogurt.

So the benefit is the protein. It works to keep you feeling satisfied for longer, plus protein is important for a number of reasons, especially as you get older.

You need more protein to keep your skin healthy, plus it is vital for building muscle, repairing tissue, and for cell growth. It makes sense that it’s gaining in popularity so quickly!

I’ve joined the ranks and made the switch.

Photo credits: Janine

Pitfalls of Smoothies and Juices

Posted on Jun 26, 2015 by No Comments

Smoothies and fresh juices are a tasty way to get valuable organic nutrition, but they are also a way to pack in the calories if you’re not careful.

I first started drinking fresh juice on an all-raw diet. It was more or less a meal replacement. But now with juice bars in vogue it’s easy to get a juice instead of a soda, and it is no longer looked at as a meal replacement but a healthy beverage.

My sister was talking with me about how expensive it is to buy juice but in the same breath admitted how much better she feels when she does. I agreed.

Juice gives me a measure of energy I don’t get even with caffeinated beverages. However, my sister moved on to tell me how her knees are hurting because of the extra weight she’s carrying around, and we revisited our personal struggles with weight and what we can do.

As we talked, I realized she was drinking her fresh-made juice as a beverage and not really considering how many calories she was consuming.

Because juices and smoothies are “healthy” we don’t think about them being full of calories, but when you buy a juice or smoothie made commercially, there is a good chance they are more calorie dense than you think.

For instance a small cup of Kale Orange Power Juice from Jamba has 190 calories and 33 grams of sugar – and that is for a small cup.

If you want the convenience of a commercially made juice, just pay attention to the nutritional facts. For example, Lakewood’s organic Super Veggie juice is cold-pressed and only 60 calories. When you juice at home you can take advantage of an easy to use juicing calculator to make sure you’re aware of what you’re really consuming.

If you’re not trying to maintain or lose weight, this won’t be an issue for you, but for those of us who are trying to find a balance between healthy, flavor, and calories, it’s worth noting what you’re consuming so you’re not sabotaging your efforts.

Straight vegetable juice is usually not too bad; it’s when we start adding fruits, powders and other additives that the calorie counts start to climb. So if you don’t like to count calories or even worry about them, if you stick with straight vegetable juice that you make yourself, you’re pretty safe.

Photo credits: pixabay

Veggie Chips Not Really a Health Food

Posted on Jun 24, 2015 by No Comments

Our local grocery store has added a bulk food section in their health food/vegetarian department. It saves me a trip to the health food store, but even in a department dedicated to healthy foods it’s good to remember not everything is really good for you.

This week as I stood weighing my raw almonds an older woman stood pondering her selection and asked me if I’d tried the veggie chips. I paused for a minute trying to think of the quickest way to tell her not to bother buying them if she thought they were good for her.

We all know vegetables are good for us, but when we deep fry them we cancel out the real benefit.

For instance, you can eat a serving of steamed green beans for 22 calories and no fat, but when we batter them up and fry them as tempura green beans they transforms into a 230 calorie dish with 11 grams of fat. It’s the same with veggie chips. We choose them as a healthier option than potato chips, but the reality is that they are just as bad.

That news is bad enough, but to compound it, a recent study ranked potato chips as the “worst food for weight gain” out of all the foods in the world.

And veggie chips are not the alternative to reach for. Just take a look at the nutrition label. One serving of Terra Sweet Potato Chips actually contains more calories than a serving of Cape Cod Potato Chips.

I’m just saying don’t assume something is healthier because it is made from a vegetable.

To put it into perspective think of it this way. One ounce of baked potato is 27 calories, while one ounce of regular salted potato chips is 153 calories.

Except we don’t usually only eat one ounce. Lays snack size chips are 1.5 ounces, and when we open a family size bag of chips we are in jeopardy of easily eating 3 ounces or more.

Since chips are one of my trigger foods, my battle plan is not to buy chips – regular or veggie. If I don’t have them in the house, they can’t be my go-to snack.

Photo credits: Amazon

Losing 100 Pounds Has Given Lisa Lampanelli a New Start

Posted on Jun 23, 2015 by No Comments

Comedienne Lisa Lampanelli is known for her stand-up and insult comedy, and now she’s known for something else. She’s lost over 100 pounds since undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in 2012, and she says it has given her a new lease on life.

She told Yahoo! Beauty, “I turned back the clock. I’m reliving my life.” And she even said she felt like she was 19 again and could do things over. That’s what I call I fresh start.

Losing all that weight is just one of the changes she’s made. She’s also shifting the focus of her stand-up routines. The reasons?

First, things have changed over the 25 years she’s been in the business, and secondly, she has grown as a person and a performer. In that regard, she says she’s including more true stories in her routine, with “more of a message of, ‘I’m still working on myself and you guys can, too.'”

Another big change in her life is that she’s gone through a divorce, and she’s taking summer classes at Yale’s drama school. In the future she says she would like to be a “humorous motivational speaker.”

But for now, she has a brand new TV special ready to air called Back to the Drawing Board. In it she’ll be talking about everything from her new look to being single again and over 50.

Lampanelli says that she started gaining weight in college and it didn’t stop. Like many of us, she was an emotional eater and used food as “medication” like many do with alcohol, drugs, or shopping and it led to a 32-year battle with weight and body image problems.

Now, she says the biggest key to maintaining her weight loss is to avoid emotional eating. Before she eats anything, she asks herself if she is physically hungry. If she is, she’ll eat something that’s “hopefully good for me.”

Learning to break emotional eating is for her a lifestyle which requires ongoing mindful eating.

Photo credits: Epix

Light Sunscreen to Protect Your Face this Summer

Posted on Jun 22, 2015 by No Comments

When living in Florida, I learned the importance of applying sunscreen daily, but what most of us don’t learn soon enough is the importance of using sunscreen year round if we’re spending time outdoors.

The trick is finding a sunscreen product that doesn’t feel heavy or clog pores and that works.

I’ve recently come upon a sunscreen that’s light and works for sensitive skin. In fact, Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 40 works for all skin types and can be used as a daily moisturizer which makes the practical side of me happy.

This sunscreen is thick like a facial cream, rubs in well and supplies broad spectrum sun protection that can be worn under my makeup.

While it’s a little late for me to totally prevent the aging effects of the sun, this is my go-to sun protection to help keep my skin hydrated and protect from further damage.

One of the things that drew me to this product is that it is free from chemical sun blockers. Instead, it uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block UVA and UVB rays.

And this sunscreen’s signature ingredient is Colloidal Oatmeal combined with butters and oils, plus it incorporates a botanical-rich FAB Antioxidant Booster to help fight environmental factors that lead to pre-mature aging.

With all this said, the bottom line is that I like it because it works to nourish my skin without a greasy feeling and keeps it protected.

To really do what it is designed to do, Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer needs to be applied 15 minutes before I go out for my walk…or whatever I’m doing outside in the sun.

Then it should be reapplied at least every two hours if I’m staying outdoors. If swimming or sweating it needs to be reapplied after 40 minutes.

Finding the right sun screen is only half the battle. Actually using it as directed is the other half. I’ve been happy with this one because it soaks in well, doesn’t feel oily or heavy, and it leaves my skin feeling conditioned without the chemicals so many other sunscreens use.

Photo credits: Amazon

Is Your Lack of Sleep Making You Look Old?

Posted on Jun 17, 2015 by 1 Comment

Have you ever heard the phrase “get your beauty sleep?” Well it turns out that whoever started that saying actually was on to something.

We all know we don’t function at the top of our game when we don’t get enough sleep. And it’s no secret we can get cranky without enough sleep.

In the past, I’ve talked about how a lack of sleep can actually cause us to gain weight, and increases our risk for depression and has even been shown to shrink your brain!

Now a new study conducted by the Sleep School in London and Bensons for Beds adds one more negative effect to the list. They have found that just missing two hours of sleep for less than a week can severely impact how we look.

This was a small study of 30 women in the U.K. All of them slept eight hours for one night. The next five nights they restricted their sleep to six hours a night.

Researchers tested the participants’ skin for things including enlarged pores or brown spots and documented their findings with before and after photographs. They also measured the women’s self-esteem and feelings of well-being.

After just one work week’s worth of lost sleep, the women participating in the study saw an increase in fine lines and wrinkles (45 percent), spots (13 percent), and researchers measured an increase of bacteria on the skin, too, with red and brown areas appearing.

This isn’t the first study to find a link in how we look and a lack of sleep. A study published in the journal Sleep discovered that after 31 hours of no sleep, people’s eyes looked redder and more swollen; their skin appeared droopier and displayed more noticeable wrinkles.

When you step back and consider how sleep is the time our bodies make repairs, it’s not surprising that a lack of sleep can have a strong impact on the health of our skin.

In fact, when we don’t sleep enough our bodies create more of the stress hormone that breaks down the very collagen needed to keep our skin looking smooth and elastic.

So be sure to get your beauty rest to look your best. Sleep does make a difference in how we look.

Photo credits: skinexpertstalk

Detoxing Made Easy

Posted on Jun 15, 2015 by No Comments

I’ve followed several detoxing methods including raw juice, lemonade diet, and a raw food diet. But the thing about all those is that they start and they finish.

Now I’ve found a way to detox daily. It’s not only easy and good for me, I actually like the tangy taste. The secret is to add the juice of a lemon to a very warm cup of water and to drink it first thing in the morning.

Many people think of lemons as acidic, but when you consume them they are actually a good alkaline food that helps to balance your body’s pH. I’ve replaced my first cup of coffee of the day with this drink since it is recommended first thing in the morning.

Some people drink it in a glass, but I like the feel of that mug in my hands as a wake up, but it does much more than that. It helps wake up my liver, too, and flushes out those nasty toxins.

The thing I like about this approach is that I can do it each morning and it offers me an ongoing benefit.

Along with helping me stay regular by stimulating my gastrointestinal tract, it is also a way to add a good source of vitamin C and natural potassium to my diet. All with one simple cup first thing in the morning.

Another added benefit enjoyed by adding lemon juice to your first cup of water of the day is that it contains pectin, which is a soluble fiber shown to help with weight loss struggles.

Plus, I can drink this lemon water without sweetener, so that cuts calories and because of its alkalinity, it can help reduce acid in your stomach.

I add juice from half a lemon to one mug of water. It is tart, but I like the flavor, and it really is a fresh alternative first thing in the morning. This is an easy daily detox that’s good for you on more than one level.

Photo credits: pixabay