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The Importance of Good Posture

Everyone can remember their mother correcting them with “Stand up straight!” and “Don’t slouch!” And honestly, mom was right all along- there are medical reasons why good posture is so fundamental to good health.

 

Health Fitness Revolution did some research and here’s what we found:

 

  • Avoid Health Complications: Over time, slouching increases your chances of having a spinal disc slip, back pain, back aches, decreased blood circulation, and chest pressure.  Improper posture takes a toll on muscles and joints in nearly all areas of the body. It can cause pain and limited range of motion in your neck, shoulders, back and hips, and lead to or exacerbate problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrists.
  • Facilitates your Breathing:  There’s a reason pilates, yoga, and meditation exercises pay so much attention to posture- because it helps you breathe.  Close your eyes, slouch, and breathe.  Now consciously pull your shoulders back and breathe, there should be a noticeable difference in the amount of air your lungs take in.  Having good posture opens your airways and facilitates your respiratory organs in their task- which is good for your health.
  • Increases thinking power and concentration: Our brains require 20% oxygen to function properly.  Therefore, by increasing your posture, you facilitate your breathing and take more oxygen in.  Since oxygen is food for the brain, and you are providing more oxygen to it, you have more power for thoughts and ideas.
  • Feel Better About Yourself:  If you consciously adjust your posture now, we guarantee you will notice a difference in how you feel.  When you have good posture, you naturally have more self-confidence, which boosts feelings of self-worth, contentment, and happiness.
  • Improve your Image:  When you feel confident and happy, you portray an attractive image of yourself to others and make a good impression.  People with good posture are viewed as more confident, assertive, and intelligent.

 

So stand up, look forward, pull your shoulders back and be healthy as you take on your day!

Is An Economic Crisis Good For Your Health?

One of the most common reactions to earnest recommendations that we overhaul our eating habits, from a diet based largely on red meat and highly processed foods to one more focused on vegetables, fruit and whole foods, is that we can never really be sure what’s good for us. “Just wait,” someone inevitably jokes. “Tomorrow they’ll tell us that broccoli will kill us.”

 

Well, science has yet to suggest that. But it has delivered proof of the positive effect a societal change in diet can have on citizens’ health.

 

The subjects of the study were the people of Cuba, who unknowingly took part in a large-scale study on the effect of lifestyle change during their country’s extended economic downturn in the 1990s.

 

The economy began to collapse after the government of its state sponsor, the Soviet Union, fell in 1989. The Russian republic that emerged from the former regime soon ended its subsidies of cheap oil for Cuba. As Richard Schiffman reports in a fascinating new article in The Atlantic, the shift sent Cuba “into an economic tailspin from which it would not recover for over half a decade.”

 

The effects were widespread. Most motorized agriculture and food distribution systems halted. The ongoing U.S. trade embargo, strengthened by Congress in 1996, further prevented the import of many drugs, manufactured goods and food products. “Cubans survived drinking sugared water and eating anything they could get their hands on,” Schiffman writes, “including domestic pets and the animals in the Havana Zoo.”

 

And yet the population’s health actually improved, in some ways dramatically, according to a study recently released by researchers working in Cuba, Spain and the United States and published by the medical journal BMJ.

 

Researchers tracking the health of about 6,000 residents and analyzing national data compiled by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health found that mortality in the island country dropped during the depression. Death from cardiovascular disease fell by a third, and from adult-onset Type 2 diabetes by half. The rate of strokes was reduced, too.

 

Despite its economic struggles, Cuba maintained an effective health-care system. But the study found that it was not the doctors that kept citizens healthy but the lifestyle changes poverty forced on them.

 

With public transportation largely idled by the gas crisis, more people walked and bicycled. Adults also ate less, losing an average 12 pounds as their daily calorie intake dropped from about 3,000 to between 1,400 and 2,400, according to the new research. Diets were transformed as well. Protein intake dropped an average of 40% as meat and dairy products became luxuries and families turned to de facto veganism, Schiffman reports, living off “what they could grow, catch and pick for themselves — including lots of high-fiber fresh produce and fruits, added to the increasingly hard-to-come-by staples of beans, corn and rice.”

 

Cuba had gone green, even if unintentionally. With limited access to agro-chemicals, “farmers returned to the machetes and oxen-drawn plows of their ancestors,” Schiffman notes. Community gardens flourished in major cities.

 

Cuba’s state-controlled economy regained some of its footing in the late 1990s, due in large part to the support of oil-rich Venezuela. And as soon as cheap access to oil was restored, Cubans began exercising less and eating more. By 2011, the researchers found, the nation’s obesity rate had almost tripled from its 1995 low. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease rates rose in lockstep with obesity and the national mortality rate returned to pre-downturn levels.

 

In an editorial accompanying the study in BMJ, Professor Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote: “Although the hardships experienced by Cubans in the 1990s were unfortunate, the present findings add powerful evidence that major population-wide benefits will be obtained rapidly by reducing overweight and obesity. To achieve this is perhaps the major public health and societal challenge of this century.”

 

Schiffman joins Willett in wondering what the United States can learn from the Cuban experience as our own health care system struggles to manage soaring rates of Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Rattner, says 1 in 3 American adults could have the condition by 2050. Meanwhile, heart disease, which like diabetes is closely linked to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet, remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

 

The authors of the Cuban study suggest that other countries seek to recreate the Caribbean nation’s experience — without the economic downturn — through public health campaigns, redesigned public spaces, limits on unhealthy food and drink, especially for children, and taxes on sugary and fatty foods. They acknowledge, though, a troubling reality: “No country or regional population has successfully reduced the distribution of body mass index or reduced the prevalence of obesity through public health campaigns or targeted treatment programs.”

 

In the absence of national initiative, it’s up to each of us to do what we can to improve our own health. What can you do? Here are some fundamental steps that could boost your health and prolong your life. If enough of us adopt them, we may see a reduction in our national rates of diabetes and heart disease, and we’ll ward off more cases of dementia, too:

 

  • Eat healthier. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to help prevent 30 percent of heart attacks and strokes for people at high risk of those conditions. It features olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains. Wine, eggs and low-fat dairy products are allowed in moderation. One key to the diet’s success is that it eschews highly processed snacks and prepared foods that are low on nutrients and high on additives. 
  • Try vegetarianism. We saw the impact a meat shortage had on Cubans’ health. Forgoing meat in this country is easier than ever as alternatives continue to improve and become more affordable. Becoming a vegan or vegetarian is no protection against obesity or metabolic syndrome if you continue to feast on processed foods low on fiber and loaded with fat and sugar. Focus on whole foods.
  • Get movingA sedentary lifestyle is one of the greatest health risks. Sitting for more than three hours a day can cut one’s life expectancy by two years and the effects are not entirely offset by regular exercise. C. Everett Koop, a former surgeon general, recommended a minimum of 10,000 steps a day — about five miles. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises all adults to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. Barely half of us do either.

 

The Cubans, in a way, had good health forced on them. The discouraging news is that when it was no longer economically necessary to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, the population basically dropped it. Clearly the challenge for our country — to make such changes voluntarily and stick with them — is even more daunting.

 

As published originally in Forbes

Smile- It’s Good for Your Health!

Smiling is the fun way to live longer! Smiling is a great way to make yourself stand out while helping your body to function better. Smile to improve your health, your stress level, and your attractiveness…

 

  • Smiling is a Stress Buster! Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. This will reduce your stress levels and you’ll be better able to take action.
  • Smiling Lowers Blood Pressure.  Happy people are healthier- because when you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home and we can guarantee you’ll see a difference.
  • Smiling is an Immune Booster. Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. What a fun way to prevent the flu and colds!
  • Smiling indirectly helps Weight Lossbecause when you are relaxed and happy your body produces less cortisol- the stress hormone that make us hold on to belly fat.
  • Smiling Is Attractive.  We are all drawn to people who smile. The subconscious attraction is that we want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good.
  • Smiling is a Mood Changer.   Nexttime you are feeling sad, try putting on a smile. Your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.  As they say… Fake it until you make it!
  • Smiling Is Contagious- so the Happiness can Spread. When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you and make them more at ease.
  • Smiling Releases Endorphins and Serotonin. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three hormones make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug and an anti-depressant.
  • Smiling Makes You Look Youthful.  The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.
  • Smiling Leads to Success.  Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at appointments and meeting and take notice to how people react differently to you.
  • Smiling Keeps You Positive and Happy.  Here is a test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

 

Sneezing is Good for your Health

Sneezing is very important in maintaining good healthy, it plays a key part in our immune processes because it protects our bodies from various antibodies and infections.Here are the top tips from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic to bring your some sneeze facts that might enlighten you to this natural phenomenon:

 

  • Sneezing keeps our bodies safe: Sneezes protect our bodies by clearing the nose of bacteria and viruses. When something enters our noses, a trigger is sent to the “sneeze center” in our brains that immediately signals our reflexes to tightly close our eyes, throat, and mouth. Next, the chest muscles vigorously contract, and then the throat muscles quickly relax. For the finale, air, along with saliva and mucus, is forced out of your mouth and nose.
  • Sneezes are fast: They reach a speed of 100 mph and expel around 100,000 germs into the air.
  • You don’t sneeze when you sleep: When you doze off, so do the sleeping nerves that control the reflexes.
  • Light may make you sneeze:  One in three people is born with a hereditary gene that causes them to sneeze when exposed to bright light, it’s natural and nothing to be worried about.
  • Ancient people knew the benefit of sneezing: they used to sneeze deliberately using grass or feathers or irritants subjects to alert the lining of the nose to cause sneezing.
  • Do not suppress sneezes:  a sneeze is so powerful that suppressing it can rupture eardrums, cause nose-bleeds, or damage blood vessels.

 

Health Fitness Revolution by Samir Becic Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization, to make the world a healthier, fitter place, please donate!

Why Sex Is Good For Your Brain & Staves Off Heart Disease To Cancer & Headaches

Why sex is good for your brain and also staves off everything from heart disease to cancer and headaches – if you keep at it!

Having more sex could not only make us feel good, it could provide far-reaching health benefits.

Unfortunately we are having less of it – on average we have sex fewer than five times a month, compared to six-and-a-half times 20 years ago, according to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.

Yet studies have linked regular sexual activity to emotional well-being, reduced migraine pain and even a lower risk of prostate cancer.

A Canadian study last month found that half-an-hour of sexual activity could burn more calories than walking on a treadmill – the researchers claimed sexual activity could be considered significant exercise.

The study measured the sexual activity of 21 couples aged between 18 and 35 – they were monitored using an armband to calculate how many calories the wearer burned, and the intensity of the activity.

In a typical session lasting 25 minutes, the men burned an average of 100 calories, the women 69. The intensity of the activity was measured in METs (the Metabolic Equivalent of a Task); for men, the average reading was six METs, for women it was 6.6.

It’s roughly the same as playing doubles tennis, or walking uphill, for 20 minutes, 33 minutes of golf on a driving range, 40 minutes of yoga or 19 minutes of light rowing.

The Canadian findings chime with past campaigns by the British Heart Foundation, which suggested that 30 minutes of daily sex is as good for you as walking the dog.

Indeed, research is now showing that sex provides a ‘triple-whammy’ of benefits by combining a workout for the heart and lungs, the release of hormones that could lower stress and the production of new brain cells. And – for women – the added plus is a toning effect on the muscles in the pelvic floor.

Graham Jackson, a consultant cardiologist and president of The Sexual Advice Association, says we’ve known for a long time that sex has health benefits, but it’s only in the past decade that the taboo has been lifted from sex research in Britain.

‘This has led to more studies in the area,’ says Dr Jackson.

A BOOST FOR THE HEART, LUNGS AND BRAIN

Increasingly doctors view sex as ‘an under-used resource in terms of physical and emotional well-being’, says Dr Arun Ghosh, a private GP with a special interest in the health benefits of sex. ‘Plus, it’s not emphasised enough as a really good form of exercise.’

The Canadian research suggests it  can be classed as a moderate intensity exercise – if you do enough of it, but more of that later.

And it’s not just the heart and lungs that get a workout. Last week, scientists at the University of Maryland in the U.S. discovered that middle-aged rats made more brain cells after mating.

The process, called neurogenesis, is thought to restore brain function lost through ageing. In particular, the benefits were seen in the hippocampus, the region of the brain where new memories are formed.

The rats’ brain function improved after long periods of sexual activity, specifically in this hippocampus area.

‘A huge amount of brain stimulus occurs during intercourse,’ comments Dr Ghosh. ‘It’s why we feel so overtaken when we orgasm,’ he says. ‘When researchers do MRI scans on people in orgasm, they observe both sides of the brain being stimulated, including parts of the brain we wouldn’t normally use.’

‘Researchers found men who kept up a regular sex life in their 50s – ejaculating more than ten times a month – were at a lower risk of prostate cancer’

Still, it’s important to note the study was on rats and we still don’t know if neurogenesis happens as significantly in humans, says Dr Simon Ridley, of the Alzheimer’s Research Council.

‘Plus, any improvements in brain power were lost once the animals’ sexual activity stopped, so we can’t assume any benefits to their brains will be long-term.’

Though the study showed the new cells remained, ‘there’s as yet still no compelling evidence to support the idea that regular sex can help stave off dementia or cognitive decline in humans’, adds Dr Ridley.

However, there is no doubt that sex provides a substantial workout to women’s pelvic floor muscles. As Andrew Hextall, a consultant who specializes in genitourinary medicine at Spire Bushey Hospital, London, explains, a stronger pelvic floor can help reduce the risk of prolapse of the womb, which affects half of women over 50.

And a stronger pelvic floor also reduces the risk of stress incontinence, which affects one in four women over 40.

‘During intercourse, the muscles in a woman’s pelvic floor naturally contract and squeeze,’ says Mr Hextall. ‘This increases muscle tone in the area, as the pelvic floor is like any other muscle, it responds to use by getting stronger.’

Even if your sex sessions only last a short time it’s likely you would still get the effects, he says.
‘The recommendation for exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor are to squeeze the pelvic floor only eight times at any one time,’ he explains. ‘It’s likely that during sex you will be contracting your pelvic floor at least that many times, so there’s no need for prolonged sex sessions to get these benefits.’

IT LOWERS MEN’S CANCER RISK

The good news for men – for older men, anyway – is that regular sex may be linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer, according to a study from Nottingham University.

The researchers, who questioned 840 men about their sexual histories, found those who kept up a regular sex life in their 50s – ejaculating more than ten times a month – were at a lower risk of prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in British men. One theory is that if men don’t clear the sperm, it can be re-absorbed by the prostate gland.

Men who kept up a regular sex life in their 50s were at a lower risk of prostate cancer

 Men who kept up a regular sex life in their 50s were at a lower risk of prostate cancer

‘Sperm needs to be regularly flushed out to allow new cells  to develop. It’s a bit like cleaning out a pipe, it may help stop the build-up of old cells that might be more likely to turn cancerous,’ says Dr Ghosh.

A previous study from the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. of more than 29,000 men found that those having the most orgasms had a third lower risk of prostate cancer.

However, the Nottingham University research, which was published in 2009 in The British Journal of Urology International, also found that ejaculating more than 20 times a month in their 20s and 30s could increase prostate cancer risk later in life. This is possibly because higher levels of sex hormones in some men, which may be responsible for a high sex drive, may also be linked to the development of prostate cancer later.

IT’S EVEN GOOD FOR HEADACHES

Sex may also have a positive effect on emotional well-being.

A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour found young women felt more depressed the longer they hadn’t had sex.

One theory is that vaginal absorption of hormones in semen such as prostaglandins, testosterone and luteinizing hormone could help improve the mood of women, says Stuart Brody, professor of psychology specialising in sexual behaviour at the University of the West of Scotland. orgasm also releases feel-good brain chemicals such as serotonin, adds Dr Ghosh.

‘Routinely now, when our patients – male or female – are diagnosed with depression or anxiety we encourage them to maintain their sex lives because it’s so beneficial for mental well-being’.

Research by Professor Brody and his team has confirmed that sex is a stress reliever.

They studied a group of German adults and found those who had sex at least once over two weeks were better able to manage the stress of public speaking and recorded lower blood pressure in response to stressful situations.

Meanwhile, in women, orgasm might help a headache, killing the age-old excuse for abstaining.
‘Orgasm is associated with an upsurge of blood flow from the brain which could reduce headache,’ says Dr Ghosh.

One study of 83 women with migraine found that more than half experienced relief after orgasm. The research, published in the journal Headache in 2001, found that 30 per cent reported some pain relief while 17.5 per cent said it had in the past relieved their symptoms altogether. Orgasm is also associated with a surge of the chemical oxytocin in men and women. This is often called the ‘bonding’ hormone because it induces feelings of fondness and affection.

‘Anthropological research has found that for humans, quite aside from the pleasure we glean from sex, one of the main drivers behind our need for sexual activity is to bond with other humans,’ says Dr Ghosh.

Last week, researchers found that oxytocin may help sustain feelings of love and commitment in long-term relationships.

The study gave 40 men oxytocin, then showed them pictures – one of their partners and one of a woman they’d never met.

Brain scans showed in the majority of the men the brain’s reward systems lit up when they saw their partner’s picture.

‘Regular sex stimulates the brain’s pleasure and reward system through the release of chemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine,’ Dr Ghosh explains. ‘It’s one thing that keeps us going back to our partners for more.’

YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING FOR 30 MINUTES

Dr Jackson says sex could form a part of an overall, varied exercise regimen – if you can make it last long enough. For most long-married couples, sex sessions last around 15 minutes rather than the 30 minutes achieved by the couples in the Canadian study.

‘One study of 83 women with migraine found that more than half experienced relief after orgasm’

he peak moments can lead to an increase in heart rate of around ten beats per minute and sometimes more, he explains.

Foreplay is equivalent in activity terms to running for a bus. ‘A typical game of tennis or squash is around 40 minutes of sustained cardiovascular activity, so to compare these to sex in fitness benefits you would need to perform your peak periods of sex for around the same amount of time,’ says Dr Jackson.

If you last 30 to 40 minutes ‘quite vigorously’, ‘you could get a good cardiovascular workout during sex’. But a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine last year concluded the average bout of sexual activity was only six minutes, expending about 21 calories. ‘Sexual activity is meant to compliment other more sustained forms of exercise,’ says Dr Jackson. ‘You can’t say, “I have sex, I won’t exercise”.’

WHY ARE MEN SO SLEEPY AFTERWARDS?

Research in the journal Neuroscience and Behavioural Reviews in 2012 has explained the sleeping-pill like effect sex has on men. Brain scans showed the pre-frontal cortex, the area associated with consciousness, alertness and mental activity, ‘switches off’ after an orgasm.

Other research has shown that in men an orgasm’s tension-relieving effects are like taking 2 mg of diazepam (a sedative). ‘This  explains why men want to sleep after sex,’ says Dr Ghosh. And hormones released in orgasm – melatonin, oxytocin and vasopressin – are also all associated with sleep.

 

Originally published on Daily Mail

Why Good Friends are Good for your Health

They might get on your nerves at times, but good friends have bigger benefits than you may realize.

“You got to have friends to make that day last long,” sings Bette Midler. But good friends may help your life last longer, too, according to an Australian study. Conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University, the study followed nearly 1,500 older people for 10 years. It found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22%.

Why is this so? The authors suspect that good friends discourage unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and heavy drinking. And the companionship provided by friends may ward off depression, boost self-esteem, and provide support. Also, as people age, they may become more selective in their choice of friends, so they spend more time with people they like.

The following information concerns treatment of grief after the death of a loved one, not necessarily death as a result of cancer. Normal or Common Grief Reactions Some controversy continues about whether normal or common grief reactions require any intervention by medical or mental health professionals. Researchers disagree about whether credible evidence on the efficacy of grief counseling exists.[1,2,3,4] Most bereaved persons experience painful and often very distressing emotional,… 

Close relationships with children and relatives, in contrast, had almost no effect on longevity. Lynne C. Giles, one of the four researchers who conducted the study, emphasized that family ties are important; they just seem to have little effect on survival.

The Health Benefits of Good Friends

Lots of research has shown the health benefits of social support.

One such study, reported in the journal Cancer, followed 61 women with advanced ovarian cancer. Those with ample social support had much lower levels of a protein linked to more aggressive types of cancer. Lower levels of the protein, known as interleukin 6, or IL-6, also boosted the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Women with weak social support had levels of IL-6 that were 70% higher in general, and two-and-a-half times higher in the area around the tumor.

In 1989, David Spiegel, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, published a landmark paper in Lancet. It showed that women with breast cancer who participated in a support group lived twice as long as those who didn’t. They also had much less pain.

Sheldon Cohen, PhD, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, has shown that strong social support helps people cope with stress.

“Friends help you face adverse events,” Cohen tells WebMD. “They provide material aid, emotional support, and information that helps you deal with the stressors. There may be broader effects as well. Friends encourage you to take better care of yourself. And people with wider social networks are higher in self-esteem, and they feel they have more control over their lives.”

Other studies have shown that people with fewer friends tend to die sooner after having a heart attack than people with a strong social network. Having lots of friends may even reduce your chances of catching a cold. That’s true even though you’re probably exposed to more viruses if you spend a lot of time with others.

“People with social support have fewer cardiovascular problems and immune problems, and lower levels of cortisol — a stress hormone,” says Tasha R. Howe, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Humboldt State University. “Why? The evolutionary argument maintains that humans are social animals, and we have evolved to be in groups. We have always needed others for our survival. It’s in our genes. Therefore, people with social connections feel more relaxed and at peace, which is related to better health.”

Friends Can Be Stressful

Friends can be a source of stress, though. In fact, friends can cause more stress than others precisely because we care so much about them.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, has found that dealing with people who arouse conflicted feelings in us can raise blood pressure more than dealing with people we don’t like.

The following information concerns treatment of grief after the death of a loved one, not necessarily death as a result of cancer. Normal or Common Grief Reactions Some controversy continues about whether normal or common grief reactions require any intervention by medical or mental health professionals. Researchers disagree about whether credible evidence on the efficacy of grief counseling exists. Most bereaved persons experience painful and often very distressing emotional…

“My colleagues and I were interested in relationships that contain a mix of positivity and negativity,” she says. “For example, you might love your mother very much, but still find her overbearing or critical at times.”

By attaching people to portable blood pressure monitors, Holt-Lunstad and her colleagues found that blood pressure was highest when people were interacting with someone they felt ambivalent about.

What she found really surprising was that these interactions caused higher blood pressure than those with people the research subjects felt completely negative about. “We suspect that people we feel positive toward can hurt us that much more when they make a snide comment or don’t come through for us because they are important to us. Friends may help us cope with stress, but they also may create stress.”

So would we be better off having no friends at all?

Hardly. “One thing research shows is that as one’s social network gets smaller, one’s risk for mortality increases,” Holt-Lunstad says. “And it’s a strong correlation — almost as strong as the correlation between smoking and mortality.”

The Impact of Loneliness

What about loners? Are they at greater risk of dying because they prefer to be alone?

Only if they feel lonely. One study found that drug use among young people was higher among those who said they were lonely. Older lonely people tended to have higher blood pressure and poorer sleep quality. They also were more tense and anxious.

Another study found that college freshmen who had small social networks and claimed to be lonely had weaker immune responses to flu vaccinations. They also had higher levels of stress hormones in their blood.

Unfortunately, Americans have fewer friends than they used to, according to a recent study, “Social Isolation in America,” published in the American Sociological Review. The authors found that from 1985 to 2004, the number of Americans who feel they have someone with whom they can discuss important matters dropped by nearly one-third. The number of people who said they had no one they could discuss such matters with tripled to nearly 25%. The authors suspect that long work hours and the popularity of the Internet may contribute to the decline in close relationships.

The study also found that the percentage of people who talk about important matters only to family members increased from 57% to 80%. Those who depend solely on their spouse for these talks increased from 5% to 9%.

How Women’s Friendships Are Different From Men’s

In general, women are better at maintaining friendships than men. Women “tend and befriend,” says Shelley E. Taylor, PhD, a psychology professor at UCLA. They respond to stress by protecting and nurturing others (“tending”), and by seeking support from others (“befriending”). This pattern regulates the seeking, giving, and receipt of social support, Taylor says. It produces health benefits by reducing psychological and biological stress.

And Margaret Gibbs, PhD, a professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, found that men and women relate to others differently throughout life.

The following information concerns treatment of grief after the death of a loved one, not necessarily death as a result of cancer. Normal or Common Grief Reactions Some controversy continues about whether normal or common grief reactions require any intervention by medical or mental health professionals. Researchers disagree about whether credible evidence on the efficacy of grief counseling exists. Most bereaved persons experience painful and often very distressing emotional…

“We found that women seemed more geared to empathy, while male friendships are more geared to companionship and altruism,” she tells WebMD. “Male friendships are more about helping each other — mending the lawn mower, that sort of thing. Women’s friendships tend to have a more emotional content — listening to friends’ stories and coming up with helpful solutions.”

 

Originally published on WebMD

Pucker Up- Kissing is Good for Your Health!

There’s more to kissing than meets the eye! Not that you really need an excuse (or the 10 Health Fitness Revolution about to give you) to make kissing a priority, but it triggers a whole spectrum of physiological processes that can boost your immunity and generally spruce up that body you work so hard to keep attractive- kissing is good for your health.   To read the article about the Health Benefits of Sex we wrote, click here.

  •  It Boosts Happiness: Oxytocin is a brain chemical that is released when we kiss- it is responsible for helping to create feelings of pleasure, intimacy, and bonding. When we kiss, our brains respond by releasing this feel-good chemical that helps us feel connected to and trusting of our mates.
  • It Lowers Stress Levels:  kissing lowers our cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone and it has a negative effect on our immune system, endocrine system and brain health, specifically the hippocampus, helping you relax and unwind.
  • It Burns Calories:  kissing for over a minute could burn 25-plus calories.  Sure, kissing may not burn as many calories as, say, running a mile, but it does pump up your metabolism to about twice its usual rate.
  • Our Bodies Find the Right Mate:  During kissing, we exchange vital physiological information via saliva, including information related to our major histocompatibility complex (MHC). MHC is a collection of genes  associated with our immune system, and biologically, it’s important for partners to bring different immune system genes to the table so that their offspring will have a better opportunity for survival.  Kissing subconsciously lets us know if we are kissing someone who is too similar to our bloodline.
  • Boosts Immunity:  if you are both healthy and well, kissing can actually help to boost your immune system. Research from the journalMedical Hypotheses suggests that kissing might actually boost a woman’s immunity to certain diseases.  This boosts becomes heightened if kissing leads to sex.
  • Increases Life Span:  A study from University College London collected research that found that men who kiss their significant others good-bye were less likely to get into a car accident on the way to work. Just another reason not to rush out the door without a good-bye kiss!
  • Keeps You Youthful:  Kissing uses more than 30 muscles in the face! When you pucker up, you are helping to keep those muscles taut, strong, and younger looking!
  • Intensifies Arousal:  Kissing is a great primer for sex- and frequent sex can enhance everything from heart health to your self-esteem.
  • Its a Marriage Booster:  frequent kissers may have stronger marriages because it is great for mental and emotional health.  A 2011 study from the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Indiana, found that kissing, cuddling, and other forms of affection were important predictors for relationship satisfaction.
  • Natural Pain Killer:  During a heated, heart-racing kind of kiss, your body releases adrenaline, which can actually reduce feelings of pain.

10 Good Reasons to Drink Green Tea

It is widely know that Green Tea is good for our health- but Health Fitness Revolution wanted to break it down and give you 10 GOOD reasons why you should drink a cup of green tea daily:

  •  Boosts your immunity: The Polyphenols, Flavonoids, and Vitamin C present in green tea boost the immune system to make the human body stronger in fighting the cold, flu, and various infections.
  • Prevention and treatment of neurological diseases: Drinking green tea daily could help prevent degenerative and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  This is due to the Polyphenols in green tea which help maintain the parts of brain that regulate learning and memory.
  • Aids in Weight Loss:  A new study shows that green tea extract increases the rate of calorie burning by the body.  It reduces blood fat, cholesterol, bloated ness, detoxifies the body and suppresses untimely food cravings. Enabled with diuretic properties, it also eliminates excess water and thereby reduces excess weight.  But remember that the best way to lose weight is to have green tea along with proper nutrition and regular physical exercise!
  • Anti-Aging:  Because it contains high levels of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (one of the most powerful antioxidants), Green Tea is thought to help slow down the premature ageing process.  These Antioxidants fight free radicals which keep aging at bay and promoting longevity.
  • UV Protection:  In the summer, UV rays act as a constant threat. Luckily, according to research, Green tea is rich in antioxidants that scavenge harmful free radicals in the body. In addition, using green tea extracts along with your sunscreen could afford you the greatest level of sun protection.
  • Helps Curb Diabetes: Green tea apparently normalizes and regulates blood sugar levels in the body.  The components in Green tea help regulate glucose levels slowing the rise of blood sugar. It also triggers and stimulates insulin production and activates the functioning of pancreas to some extent.
  • Hydrates:  Contrary to common belief that tea dehydrates, green tea provides hydration benefits similar to water.
  • Boosts exercise endurance:  According to scientific research,  the antioxidants present in green tea extracts increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel which accounts for improved muscle endurance. It also enhances energy levels and boosts your metabolism.
  • Fights Various Cancers:  Green tea extract is reported to induce cancer cell death and starve tumours by curbing the growth of new blood vessels that feed them. The antioxidants in tea also helps protect against a variety of cancers: including breast, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, prostate and oral cancers.
  • Reduces the Risk of Heart Attack:  The flavonoids present in green tea protect the heart by relaxing the blood vessels so blood can flow more easily.  Drinking green tea rapidly improves the health of body cells lining the blood vessels and also helps in lowering one’s risk for heart disease.  So,protect your heart and have green tea on a regular basis.

 

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

Over the past few years, fats have become a hot topic. Which ones are good and which are bad? Many people try to avoid fat completely, but not matter how hard you try it may be difficult to avoid. All food in some way has a little bit of fat contained in them. Here is a breakdown of the types of fats to look for, and which are beneficial to eat.

  • Total fat: Total fat means the percentage of fat in your daily diet. It is a fat that you eat that can impact your health. Our bodies naturally need fat as part of our diet. Depending on the type of fat (saturated or unsaturated), some may be helpful, others bad for you. The key is knowing the difference on how to identify the two.

THE GOOD FATS

  • Unsaturated fats: Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, have a protective effect on your health and can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated. These heart-healthy fats are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, a nutrient often lacking in American diets. An added bonus to monounsaturated fats is that they promote the loss of belly fat.
    • Foods that have monounsaturated fats:
      • Olive oil
      • Sunflower oil
      • Peanut oil
      • Dark chocolate
      • Avocados
      • Olives
      • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
      • Peanut butter
  • Omega-3s There are three different typesofOmega-3s:ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).Though your body can turn ALA into the two other typesofOmega-3s, it’s somewhat difficult; therefore, it’s recommended that you consume the second two types. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish each week. It is best togetomega-3s from food rather than supplements.
    • Foods thatcontainOmega-3s:
      • salmon
      • halibut
      • tuna
      • yogurt
      • pumpkin seeds
      • walnuts
      • spinach

THE BAD FATS

  • Trans fat: This fat comes from mostly processed foods and should be avoided completely. Artificial trans fat can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease. Main sources of trans fats are fried foods, baked goods, cookies,icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some margarines. Consuming even small amounts of artificial trans fats can increase LDL “bad” cholesterol and decrease HDL “good” cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting trans fat to less than 2 grams per day.
    • Foods that contain trans fat (avoid avoid avoid):
      • hydrogenated oils- used in frying
      • pie and pie crust
      • margarine
      • cake mixes and frosting
      • ground beef
      • meat sticks and commercial jerky
      • refrigerator cookie dough
  • Saturated fat: These are fats that are typically liquid at room temperature. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting saturated fats to 10% or less of your total calories, while the American Heart Association recommends keeping them to just 7% of total calories. You can’t eliminate these entirely from your diet because they do serve a purpose in your body, but you want to make sure that your intake is minimal.
    • foods that contain saturated fat:
      • cream
      • beef
      • cheese
      • pork
      • processed meats
      • chicken skin
      • coconut
      • palm oil

It is important to remember not to focus on just fat alone if you’re trying to lose weight or get healthy. It’s also important to remember that we need fat for health, which can be found in both animal fat and plant fat.

Top 10 Teas for Good Health

Samir Becic and the Health Fitness Revolution team have put together a list of the “Top 10 Teas for Good Health”

Herbal teas are a delicious and easy way to up your fluid intake and sneak in some extra nutrients. Unlike coffee, whose health benefits are highly debated and often grown using pesticides, herbal teas offer the benefits and nutrients without the caffeine.  The fun thing about herbal teas is that they can mix and matched to each palate! While the benefits of Green Tea, which we wrote about here, are now widely known, we have made a list of 10 other teas that are good for your health:

  • Chamomile:  one of the most consumed teas in the world behind regular black tea. Chamomile flowers have a naturally sweet taste with a hint of an apple flavor that reduce stress because it has soothing and sedative properties. Chamomile is a good herbal source of  Magnesium, and is known as a soothing and relaxing herb in addition to being an effective cure for pinkeye.
  • Raspberry Leaf: It is highly nutritious and especially beneficial for women as it helps balance hormones and is good for the skin. It is often consumed during pregnancy as it can strengthen the uterus and is a good source of Magnesium, Potassium and B-Vitamins (all important during pregnancy).
  • Peppermint:  peppermint tea relieves the symptoms of abdominal gas and bloating, in addition to stopping muscle spasms. It’s also good for nausea (without vomiting) and for heating up the body and making it sweat.
  • Ginger:  great digestive aid, ginger can be used to curb nausea, vomiting or upset stomach due to motion sickness. Make fresh ginger tea by simmering a piece of ginger root on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes—add fresh lemon juice and honey when you have a cold for a powerful germ-fighting combination.
  • Rooibos:  Known to help common skin concerns such as eczema, it is high in vitamin C as well as other minerals, rooibos has many health benefits. An easy drinking tea, it’s largely grown in South Africa and has been touted for its antioxidant properties—which may in turn help ward off disease and the signs of aging.
  • Milk Thistle and Dandelion:  both teas are gentle liver cleansers. They help the liver to regenerate and function at a higher capacity while also assisting in the production of bile, which can help the digestive process.
  • Rosehip:   comes from the fruit of the rose plant and is one of the best plant sources of vitamin C, which is important for the immune system, skin and tissue health and adrenal function.
  • Lemon Balm:  lemon balm is good at lifting your spirits, helps with concentration, and prevents nightmares in children when consumed before bedtime!
  • Cranberry:  excellent to drink down to help treat urinary tract infections because of the anti-bacterial properties in it that help cleanse the urinary tract from any harmful germs. In addition, cranberry tea is loaded with antioxidants that help treat gingivitis and kidney infections.
  • Echinacea:  boosts the immune system because of the polysaccharides and echinaceoside properties in it.  It can even help ease allergy symptoms such as wheezing, runny nose and eyes and itchy throat.

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