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How to Avoid Snoring While Sleeping

According to a recent survey, 45% of the world’s population would have snored at least once-in-while during their lifetime; whereas, 20% of this crowd turn into chronic snorers after sometime. By definition, snoring is a health issue caused by the throat muscles. It shows that the individual has obstructed breathing patterns. In most cases, snoring can be cured through simple lifestyle changes, usage of nasal strips and healthy oral appliances. With all this being said, how will you avoid snoring in the long run? Here in this short write up, you will come across few natural yet effective tips to avoid snoring.

First, Sleep On Your Side: The list of snoring remedies begins with “Sleep on your Side”. Mayo Clinic believes that sleeping on any one of your sides will reduce the risks and chances of snoring. On the other hand, lying upside down will force your tongue to fall backwards. This will obstruct the flow of air through your throat and increase the likelihood of snoring. A narrow airway has high chances of snoring. Conversely, you should stop or at least avoid sleeping on your back. And, American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) believes that by stitching a tennis ball to your pajamas back will prevent you from resting on your back.

Second, A Perfect Diet: Secondly, you should engage in a wise routine change. Being overweight will definitely increase the chances of snoring. This is because bulky throat muscles will undeniably vibrate when you breathe. According to modern science, bulky muscles can block your throat’s airway and trigger faster vibrations. By reducing just 10 pounds, you will see a massive difference in your sleep pattern. This is a declarative statement devoured by the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). If you are used to food items with excess fat, try to cut them down from your dietary routine. Also, consume plenty of fiber and water to maintain a clean throat!

Third, Stay Away From Alcohol: Thirdly, stay away from alcohol. A recent study declared that 99.2% of those who consume alcohol before sleep hours tend to snore extensively. Likewise, 97% of habitual drinkers are ardent snorers. Alcohol is an amazing sedate that relaxes throat muscles and tissues. Relaxed throat muscles can obstruct the flow of air effortlessly. As a result, you are more likely to snore. Regardless of whether you are an ardent drinker or not, try to avoid alcohol at least five hours before hitting the bed.

Fourth, Singing: Do you know that singing can reduce the chances of snoring? When you sing, the upper throat and soft palate will become extremely strong. Consequently, you will have better muscle control. Mayo Clinic stated that 20 habitual snorers witnessed prominent changes in their snoring patterns by singing for just 20 minutes every day.

Fifth, Ultimate Bottom Line: On the whole, snoring is not a deadly disease. Simple changes in your day to day life will help you prevent snoring in the long run. From diet to sleep hours to lifestyle changes, there are several ways by which you can avoid snoring.

Is Back Pain Hereditary?

There are many characteristics that follow down from generation to generation but could back pain be one of them? Could it be that just like hair and eye colour, the chances of developing certain forms of back pain may be inherited?

Quite possibly.

Many medical professionals have long had suspicions that genetics play a role in the development of back pain and various studies have shown that persistent back pain often runs in families.

When evaluating the cause of possible inherited back pain, it’s important to take into account that we get many of our emotional and physical traits from our parents. Many of these dispositions, physical forms and personality traits are trickled down through the genes and enhanced by the lifestyle choices we make. In other words, being aware of our family’s medical history may be significant in discovering any increased risks of developing back pain. Early diagnoses and accurate treatment play a major role in the successful cure of many spine conditions. It is therefore important to know of any major back problems experienced by our immediate relatives so that we can be aware of any potential risk to ourselves.

Those of us with a family history of back pain can lower our risk by properly looking after our spines, maintaining a healthy weight and undertaking regular exercise.

One puzzling aspect of low back pain is the perception of pain between patients. For example, some people suffering from a herniated disc may report severe or even unbearable pain while others may experience no discomfort at all. With the growing number of studies suggesting that pain susceptibility or pain tolerance is inherited, it may be that some families have a higher awareness of pain than others.

Similar lifestyle choices between family members also must be taken account. Obesity within a family or how a family tend to “carry” their weight is one example. An overweight or obese person who carries their weight around their abdomen will experience additional stress on the lower back. As the extra weight is not evenly distributed, the weight at the front of the body can result in an abnormal curve in the lower spine.

It must also be considered that people who are overweight or obese perhaps may not undertake regular exercise. A reduced amount of physical activity can contribute to poor muscle tone and muscles weakness. Untrained or reconditioned muscles do not have the optimum level of strain resistance to combat the risk of back pain.

Poor lifestyle choices such as being overweight can also aggravate almost all types of existing back pain.

Here are some simple tips to reduce your risk of developing back pain

1. Implement regular exercise into your lifestyle. Swimming and walking are great ways to strengthen the muscles in your back.

2. Make an effort to maintain a good posture. Avoid slouching and hunching and take breaks from sitting every 30 minutes.

3. Quit smoking. It has been suggested that smoking hinders the blood supply to the discs in your spine which could lead to disc degeneration.

4: Maintain a healthy weight and a varied diet.

5: Invest in a mattress that is correct for you. A good bed specialist will be able to provide you with bespoke advice.

Strategies to Avoid Negative Effects of Prolonged Sitting at Work

I started working in an office 5 years ago, and during the past two years I have started to suffer a few consequences of bad habits that can were formed while sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day.

The reality is that a large amount of people work office jobs these days, and a lot of them do not correlate their type of work with their health condition. It is hard to change the way society works and avoid working office jobs altogether, as we often don’t have that choice. However, we do have the choice of making a few adjustment at work that will allow us to prevent illnesses and health issues caused by sitting at your job for long hours each day.

In my case, I exercise very regularity, and always have made a decent effort to eat healthy. However the past two years a few health issues have started to manifest, and it took some digging to find out the root causes. I started to develop a lot of gastrointestinal problems, and inability to breathe properly. I had to make a conscious effort to intake enough oxygen, as I often felt as if I was choking.

I also noticed that I started to hunch over when I walked and even after doing yoga I had a hard time standing straight without effort. My spine started to feel weak, and I experienced a lot of back pain.

When I visited a chiropractor, I discovered that a bad posture when sitting at my desk, plus not breathing properly had compressed some vertebrae in my spine, and had shifted my stomach in a way that impeded proper emptying into the small intestine. A series of chiropractic sessions and dietary adjustment made a lot of improvement, and now I make a conscious effort to breathe deeply throughout the day and to have a correct posture while sitting at my desk, so that the problem does not come back.

A very well researched article by Dr. Mercola discusses part of the controversy about the negative effects of sitting for prolonged hours and whether or not standing at your desk is better that sitting. The article also mentions several studies that point at a variety of negative health effects that can result from sitting more than 7 hours a day.

I won’t discuss the details of those studies, but I will share with you the most important piece of information.

The bottom line as the article suggests is that the overall lack of movement might be the most detrimental issue for health, whether it is from standing or sitting; that said, it is important to mention that when you stand at your desk you are likely to get a lot more movement that when sitting, and I can attest to that because I tried standing at my desk for a while, and I did naturally move a lot more; I took some steps to reach things, I moved from leg to leg, and I changed my posture several times while standing, which increases the amount of overall movement in a day. I also felt more alert and less tired during the day. Standing is also a weight bearing posture which is beneficial for musculature and bone density.

Nevertheless, while standing might have less disadvantages that sitting, I agree with Dr. James Levine author of the book Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It in that the emphasis should be on increasing movement of the body throughout the day rather than on simply switching from sitting to standing.

That said, if you decide to try standing at your desk I strongly recommend that you position your screen, and keyboard at the right level to avoid developing issues, as a bad standing posture can be as harming as a sitting posture.

As someone who works a full time office job, but who is also committed to improve my health and prevent future health issues, for the past year I have tried several strategies in order to reduce sitting time, and more importantly to increase the amount of movement of my body on any given day at the office, which has also helped me in my weight loss efforts.

Today I want to share with you some of the strategies I have implemented, and that have made a big difference in improving and relieving neck and back pain, indigestion, muscle soreness, and general energy levels.

1. Change positions several times throughout the day. For this, I Set a timer on my phone or computer to go off every 25 minutes, because it is very easy to get carried away with work, and before you know it 2 hours have gone by.

Dr. Mercola recommends to not sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. This might be a big compromise for a lot of people, depending on where you work. If you are lucky and have your own private office like me, this will be feasible if you are determined. I change positions every 25 minutes most of the time, and move for 2 minutes every time.

If you share office space or have a time of job where it is impossible to stand every 20 minutes, don’t worry! The point is to increase movement in general, so you will still benefit from changing positions in longer intervals.

How changing positions looks like? When your alarm goes off, stand up, walk around your own office, walk to the printer, walk to the water dispenser, walk around the hallway, do stretches, squats, walk in place, and roll your wrists, your ankles, do some standing yoga poses, anything that moves your body will benefit you.

If you are not able to stand up and move around, you can practice extending your legs while seated, do the rolling of the wrists, ankles, stretch your neck, etc.

You can also try sitting on an exercise ball and switch between that and your regular chair, like I do.

Trust me, I understand this is challenging in today’s world, but if you are serious about your health and understand that you are your first priority, you will make it happen!

2. Take deep breaths throughout the day. Breathe into your diaphragm, expand your chest, and ribcage to ensure adequate oxygen intake. This can also help you improve your posture, because it is hard to breathe deeply when you are slouching at your chair. Breathing deeply will also force you to keep your back straight.

3. Take a walk during your lunch break and/or coffee breaks. Your breaks are the best opportunity to get more movement in. Make a conscious effort to go out for a walk instead of staying in your office to read news or sitting in the lunch room. This is also extremely beneficial to give your brain a break, sometimes we come back with a much clearer mind and new ideas on how to solve problems.

Even if you walk only 20 minutes a day every day you work, and you work about 20 days a week like most people, you will put in 400 minutes of walking every month! That is 6.6 hours! That your body will thank you for.

Don’t underestimate the power of walking. It is a great weight-bearing exercise that the body was built to do!

4. Mindful Eating

Usually, People who work office jobs, myself included, have much more opportunities to eat throughout the day, than say, constructions workers, and yet us office workers move a lot less and therefore require less energy. You see the problem?

Food is comforting when we are stressed out, and even entertaining when we are bored, but eating under those circumstances can potentially lead us towards making bad eating choices or eating more than needed.

We must be aware of our emotional state before reaching for a snack. It takes awareness of your body to know how you feel and understanding your choices. However, as a rule of thumb it is better not to eat when you are under stress. Take a few minutes to calm down and ask your body: what will really nourish me right now? Sometimes a few deep breaths or a walk are much more relieving in the long term than food.

Recognizing when we are bored is important to avoid eating out of boredom. This happened to me a lot, when work started to be a bit daunting, I used to go to the nearest bakery as a way of having some distraction, and I would buy a pastry even though I wasn’t really craving it. Eventually, I noticed some weight gain after a few trips to the bakery!

Now I recognize when I am bored, or tired and I pay attention to my choices. I try to read an article instead or just go for the walk, pass by the bakery but don’t stop by. Usually after a walk I will have a better idea whether I am hungry or not.

Bottom line: Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored, stressed or tired.

5. Proper Posture. Whether you sit or stand at your desk, ensuring that you have the correct posture will prevent a lot of pain and discomfort. There are several resources on the internet that you can use as a guide.

Some suggestions to always keep in mind are: Avoid slouching, sitting cross legged, cradling the phone, and shrugging your shoulders.

Remember that when it comes to avoiding health problems from working at a desk, the key is to improve posture, and increase movement throughout the day.

Tips for Finding Relief During Horrible Allergy Seasons

If you’re planning to travel this summer, you may end up in a location with high pollen counts. These tiny little particles can become lodged in your nose, throat and eyes, triggering common symptoms associated with allergies, including itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing, headaches, diarrhea and runny nose. You should plan your family trips carefully with the help of a naturopathic care physician.

Seasonal Allergies Increase

The amount of people struggling with seasonal allergies is increasing, along with the severity of the symptoms. Remember, allergies is nothing but an over-reaction of your immune system to particles that aren’t harmful. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there has been a rapid increase over the past 15 years, bringing allergic rhinitis cases up to 10 to 16 percent of the American adult population. This costs the healthcare system around $18 billion every year.

So far, there aren’t any solid reasons for the increase in allergies. However, there are various steps and techniques naturopathic family care professionals recommend.

Get Allergy Testing

Are you sure why you’re having allergic-like reactions? Some people mistake allergy symptoms for a cold or virus. One way to know for sure is to go to a naturopathic center to have allergy testing performed. This will help identify the triggers of the symptoms. At this point, you can consider natural allergy treatment, such as SLIT. This is a non-invasive method that can help gradually diminish your allergies.

Try Salt Water

The allergy medications sold in stores can leave you foggy-brained and drowsy, making them a non-popular choice for many people. Most naturopathic doctors don’t recommend over-the-counter drugs because they just cover up the symptoms. Salt water is an alternative you can try. A saline nasal rinse can help clarify your nasal membranes of pollen and other particles. You can also gargle with salt water to help alleviate your sore throat. This should be done once or twice daily to reduce congestion.

Take Off Your Shoes

When you get home from work or school, it’s a good idea to remove your shoes and clothing near the door. This will help to reduce the amount of pollen and other airborne contaminants that enter your home. Keep a hamper near the door, so you can have a place to put your outdoor clothes.

How To Know If Your Child Is Suffering From A Seasonal Allergy

You may have noticed that your child tends to fall ill during a particular season every month. Or you may suspect an allergy but not be sure of it. If you know what to look for, it will help you get one step closer to helping your kid deal with it better and possibly preventing certain allergies. If you know what has caused the problem, simple things like cleaning your air conditioner or washing your linens more often could help cut down the allergens in your home.

Common Allergens to Look Out for

While a lot of kids do get affected by the pollen in the air during the spring, many of them also react to indoor allergens during the fall. So it can be a little difficult to pinpoint what is causing the problem. For example, dust is one of the leading causes of an allergy. Dust is made of tiny dust mites along with pollen, mold and a number of other fine particles that can affect a lot of people. The fur of animals like dogs and cats may not agree with some children while others may react to certain materials used in clothing or toys. Many different foods cause reactions in kids and bacterial enzymes used in cleaning products may also bring out allergic reactions.

When to Suspect an Allergy and Common Symptoms

Some allergies are very easy to detect because your child may noticeably react to a particular substance or in particular conditions. But some of them can be a lot more subtle, making it difficult for a person to pinpoint the allergen. However, there are certain signs or symptoms that you should look out for. If they keep occurring in a certain place or at a certain time, keep our eye out for a common factor that may help you figure out what your son or daughter is allergic to. These are the common signs:

• Sneezing or sniffling
• A runny nose
• Rubbing of the nose frequently
• Continuous clearing of the throat
• Itchy or runny eyes

Visiting the Pediatrician

Tackling your child’s allergies will require the help of your pediatrician. Since this is an on-going process and needs to be given attention to every year, it is best that you work with your pediatrician in order to diagnose what your child is allergic to and then try to control the symptoms. The pediatrician may prescribe certain medication like decongestants, nasal sprays or anti-histamines. In certain cases they may also send you to an allergy specialist if they feel that your kid requires some form of special treatment.

Things to Know About Drug and Alcohol Detoxification

Making a decision to seek treatment for addiction to drug or alcohol, and then sticking to it is very difficult. A great deal of courage and grit is required to accept the fact that one needs treatment for attaining sobriety. Detoxification, which helps remove the toxins from the body accumulated for years due to continuous drug and alcohol abuse, is the first step toward the recovery process.

However, many people have preconceived notions about detox that might be deceiving. One needs to understand that a successful recovery is a grim affair without detox. Listed below are some of the facts that an individual needs to know about the detoxification process:

  1. Drug and alcohol detox is the first part of the treatment process: Just by opting for a drug or alcohol detox does not make you sober. A comprehensive treatment follows detoxification that includes therapies, medications, counselling, and alternative treatments, etc. Detox helps to free the body of all the harmful toxins accumulated due to the prolonged abuse of a drug or alcohol and also helps manage difficult withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Detox must be completed before starting the next part of treatment: The body should be free of all the toxins before a comprehensive process of therapies and medications can be administered to a patient.
  3. Detox should be done under a medically controlled setting: Quitting the substance of abuse without any medical supervision can have adverse consequences. Detox must be carried out in a clinically controlled setting, under the supervision of medical professionals who are able to handle the painful withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Undergoing detox is not easy: The process of detox is not easy. The body will crave for the substance during the process and there will be withdrawal symptoms. However, doctors are well equipped to handle such situations and a focused mind can help a patient come out of the agony of drug abstinence.
  5. Detox length is not same for all: The detox length is not the same for all. It will depend on the severity of the condition, the type of drug or alcohol consumed, his/her ability to overcome the withdrawal symptoms or any other mental health condition, etc.
  6. Relapse after detox can increase dependence: One should try to avoid drugs after detox because relapse will only increase dependence on the drug. In fact, seeking detox treatment from clinically supervised treatment centers helps in relapse prevention and prepares the body for a holistic treatment.

Benefits of detox

Detox is the first and an indispensable part of the recovery process because it frees the mind and body of drug and alcohol dependence. As the body gets rid of the toxins, an individual regains control over his behavior and the body slowly starts to heal from the acute exploitation by the drugs or alcohol. Patients regain their brain chemistries with their health getting back on track. The risks associated with drug or alcohol addiction start minimizing once the body is cleansed.

It is, however, true that detox is not the first and last step of a recovery process. It needs to be followed by proper therapies, medications and other alternative treatments, like yoga, meditation or exercise, which can help an individual thwart the ill effects of long-time drug or alcohol indulgence.

Detoxifying Carcinogens in Smokers Through Watercress Extract

Watercress extract can be a potent detoxifier for smokers, according to a recent study. If taken multiple times a day, it has the ability to detoxify carcinogens produced in the body due to prolonged cigarette use. Watercress is an aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial plant that is one of the oldest leafy vegetables consumed by humans.

In a phase-II clinical trial presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans in April 2016, researchers of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC Cancer Center stated that watercress hinders the activation of a tobacco-derived carcinogen in smokers.

The trial also showed that all the environmental toxicants and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke can be detoxified by using the watercress extract. The effect of the extract is particularly stronger in people who lack the genes engaged in processing carcinogens.

Cigarette smokers are more prone to develop lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is linked with about 90 percent of lung cancer cases in the United States. Moreover, people who smoke 15 to 30 cigarettes are more susceptible to developing lung cancer in comparison to non-smokers. Even smoking a few cigarettes occasionally increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Watercress extracts reduce activation of carcinogen in smokers

The researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial among 82 cigarette smokers who were divided into two groups. One group was administered 10 milligrams of watercress extract mixed in 1 milliliter of olive oil four times a day for a week and the other group received a placebo. After this, each of the two groups had a one-week “wash-out” period where they did not take anything. After a week, the groups replaced their intakes so that those getting placebo took the watercress extract and vice versa. However, all the participants continued with their smoking habits throughout the trial.

The researchers noticed that within a week of the administration of watercress extract, there was a 7.7 percent decrease in the activation of a carcinogen called nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone. Moreover, it also increased detoxification of benzene by 24.6 percent and acrolein by 15.1 percent. The researchers, however, noted that there was no effect on crotonaldehyde. All these elements are actively found in cigarette smoke.

Smokers who lacked the two genes involved in processing carcinogens saw an even bigger benefit of taking the watercress extract for detoxification. Benzene was detoxified by 95.4 percent, acrolein by 32.7 percent and crotonaldehyde by 29.8 percent.

Watercress extract can help prevent lung cancer among smokers

Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the UPCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Science and an epidemiologist with the Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, said, “Nicotine is very addictive, and quitting can take time and multiple relapses. Having a tolerable, nontoxic treatment, like watercress extract, that can protect smokers against cancer would be an incredibly valuable tool in our cancer-fighting arsenal.”

However, he and his team recommended a phase-III trial among a larger group of people so that it can be recommended for smokers. He also said that consuming cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress and broccoli, were good for health but they were unlikely to have the same impact as the extract.

Eat Your Way to Heart Health

The frustrating thing is, heart disease is entirely preventable, yet I have met countless people who seem to think it is just something you “get.” Although most will admit they could have eaten healthier or exercised a tad bit more, they perceive it to be mostly out of their control. This perception is not entirely their fault, however. Some doctors barely even mention diet or exercise (although some do, or refer to RDs, and kudos to them). In most cases, meds are dispensed and symptoms are monitored.

But that’s why I’m here. I’m here to tell you that number one, heart disease is preventable and reversible. Number two, there are a plethora of healthy foods you can eat to “treat” yourself to better health. Let’s visit a few categories.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids are heart healthy fats. They help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce overall inflammation in the body. Whenever there is inflammation there is a higher likelihood of oxidized LDL being deposited in the arteries. We need to keep LDL at healthy levels and decrease inflammation in the body. Omega 3 fats can help us do that. Where do we find them? Unfortunately Omega 3s are not prolific in the food supply, but there are some great foods rich in Omega 3s that you can start incorporating in your diet. Examples include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, grass fed beef, and plant based foods such as walnuts, flaxseed, and soy.

Other Healthy Fats

Besides Omega 3s, there are other healthy fats that make up a heart healthy diet. Unsaturated fats, such as those from olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are great for the heart. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats aren’t all that bad either. In fact, coconut oil, butter and eggs can be heart healthy choices as well, provided they are in moderation and part of a diet that avoids or limits refined carbohydrates. While in research we have seen saturated fats cause increases in LDL cholesterol, it’s actually diets high in refined carbohydrates (sweets, bread, pasta, etc) that lead to the dangerous, atherogenic type of LDL cholesterol that leads to heart disease. I’d prefer you give up the pastries before you give up the butter.

Fiber

We all know fiber is healthy, but it is especially helpful for heart disease, especially when it replaces refined carbohydrates in the diet. One particular fiber, soluble fiber, is known for its ability to lower LDL cholesterol, but all fiber is helpful. High fiber foods are all of the whole grains and plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Foods that are specifically high in soluble fiber include nuts/seeds, oats, buckwheat, apples, pears, soy and legumes. Eat more of these foods. Eat less refined carbohydrates, especially those high in sugar.

Antioxidants

Antioxidant rich foods are wonderful! Think of those plant based foods that are vibrant in color and full of flavor. That color and distinct taste are often a result of the phytochemicals, aka antioxidants. What do these antioxidants do for you? They help scavange free radicals so they aren’t left to do damage to your arteries or other organs. They essentially neutralize them. Since inflammation in the body tends to increase free radicals, antixodants are very important for heart disease. Good food choices? Colorful berries (think blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc), grapes, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, all types of vegetables, green tea, and even coffee. But this list is certainly not exhaustive. All plant foods have some sort of antioxidant component (and many of them work synergistically together), so eat a wide variety of plant based foods and you can’t go wrong.

Lean Protein

Protein is obviously an essential part of our diet. While higher fat meats aren’t necessarily unhealthy if part of a balanced diet, they can lead to weight gain which is not what you want if at risk for heart disease. Lean protein therefore is ideal because it’s not typically excessive in calories and helps keep your blood glucose stable, thereby helping you maintain a healthy weight. Make sure to have some sort of protein source with each meal. Healthy options include lean chicken, pork, grass fed beef, seafood, organic soy/tofu, low sugar dairy products and nuts/seeds.

There we go. Those are the key components of a heart healthy diet. If you focus on the foods in these groups while simultaneously cutting out the refined carbohydrates (namely sugar), you will be on a good path towards better health. Seems easy enough, right?

But what if it’s not? As with most things on the internet, including this article, words on paper don’t exactly translate to actions at home. I totally get it. I can read all day about accounting on the internet but I’m not one who gets those concepts on my own. I need help, hence I have a book keeper! The same goes for diet. Don’t be ashamed if you have more questions. That’s why us Registered Dietitians are here.

The beauty of a visit with an RD is that we get to sit down with you for an hour (and sometimes even longer) to discuss and create the best diet for YOU. Unlike in a doctor’s office, you have time to ask all your questions and receive lengthy feedback. Often people are confused as to where to start, what are appropriate portion sizes, what are some good meal ideas, etc. We can walk through this with you and create a plan that will work for you and your lifestyle. While some are afraid, thinking of us as the “food police,” we should be though of instead as the “food guidance counselor.” We are not here to judge, just to guide. We might suggest new diet options and new lifestyle goals, but always alongside you and with your complete agreement.

Please, if you have or are at risk for heart disease, incorporate these foods mentioned above. If you have never seen an RD before, I highly recommend finding one in your area. Maybe it’s just a one time visit, but at least you will get tailored advice and guidance to ensure you are doing things the right way. Eating shouldn’t be rocket science, but in our day and time it’s starting to become that way. Take charge of your health and let’s together reduce the incidence of heart disease in this country.

 

Tips for a More Enjoyable Night Shift

Night shift is always a challenge and can have a dramatic effect on your overall health. Most people are extremely sleep deprived. They also do not know how to adjust to this new shift and survive and thrive during while working this shift. There are definitely challenges and the need for support from those you live with. There are a few tricks to help you get started.

    • Sunglasses are your friends. Light exposure as you are driving home will stimulate your brain that it is time to stay awake so invest in a good pair of dark sunglasses so you do not get too much light exposure.
    • A daylight simulation light that is at least 10,000 luxe will help your brain to say it is time to be awake. One to two hours of light exposure when you wake up works wonders for your alertness. You use it while getting ready; just keep the light in your peripheral vision.
    • I always kept a sign next to my doorbell warning that I was a night shift worker and to not wake me unless it was an emergency and that worked well.
    • Eating is your friend and your worst enemy. When you are sleep deprived it is difficult to make correct decisions about what to eat. You will crave more high carbohydrate foods because it will increase your sugar levels. The jolt is what you are craving. If instead you realize and plan for these cravings by having some fruit or oatmeal you will avoid the weight gain that is usually associated the change to night shift.
    • You will be cold at around 3am so plan ahead and have a sweater or sweatshirt. This is part of the body’s circadian rhythm and will just be part of the experience.
    • Do not sit in a dark room during the night. You may find that you get headaches from sitting in a room with light but if you are in the dark room your body will say it is time to sleep and release Melatonin. Light is your friend while working at night.

Movement is also your friend. Walk around, move around, do jumping jacks or squats. Anything that causes you to take deep breathes and raise your heart rate will help your concentration.

As you are adjusting to this new shift you will find that there are tricks for creating routines, working during the shift and how to work with your family and friends to be enjoy your life.

 

Is Cholesterol Healthy or Unhealthy?

‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol and ‘good’ HDL cholesterol – the former kills while the latter is beneficial to health. Some people are extremely fit and lead healthy lifestyles, yet have high levels of LDL and very low HDL levels. What is going on?

The truth is that no one knows everything about the workings of cholesterol in the body.

Cholesterol is an insoluble lipid – a fat. That means this compound must travel in the blood by binding to and being carried by protein molecules.

Combinations of fat and protein are unsurprisingly called lipoproteins. There are two types: low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). The former is ‘bad’ because it is a risk factor for atherosclerosis – furring up of the arteries, which can cause heart attack or stroke.

However, there are many other factors involved with atherosclerosis that add to the confusion, such as immune responses and inflammation.

Cholesterol levels are affected by how much dietary fat is absorbed into the bloodstream from the gut, and how the liver makes ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

There are also genetic factors involved with an individual’s cholesterol levels. These are linked to levels in parents and siblings. They might be perfectly healthy, but have elevated levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.

While high levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol are known to be protective, there is no evidence that low levels of HDL are in any way harmful. All the blame for atherosclerosis therefore appears to lie with ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

The advice from medical practitioners is to do all we can to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels to below 3 mmol per litre, and for total cholesterol levels to 5 mmol per litre or less.

In order to do this they suggest having a diet based on plants, fruit and vegetables. They suggest minimizing animal fat intake, and obtaining proteins and fats as much as possible from oily fish. In addition they suggest to lose weight if overweight, and not to smoke.

However, in the light of the new health idea to reverse obesity and heart disease by severely cutting down on sugar, and increasing healthy saturated fats in the diet, these recommendations now seem rather simplistic.

Could it be that today’s widespread sugar-filled, carbohydrate-rich diets that are clearly the root cause of obesity might have something to do with high levels of bad cholesterol?

Perhaps excessive sugar consumption interferes with cholesterol metabolism?

That there is a global obesity crisis, and concern over the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in many people, it seems that there may be a link between these two diseases.

Or perhaps is it because too much polyunsaturated man-made vegetable oils are consumed? The current recommendations are to ‘avoid’ natural fats in foods such as butter, whole fat milk, and cheese. Perhaps this ‘abnormal’ way of being told what to eat is actually causing high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol?

The results of studies on these ideas should be rather interesting.

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