Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

When you hear the words "vegan" or "vegetarian", you may think of trendy people who disavow T-bone steaks and leather jackets and are ardent supporters of PETA. You may think of activists who throw red paint on people wearing fur. You may even think of yoga-practicing, granola-crunching hippies flashing peace signs. But what you might not realize is that a plant-based diet has many health advantages, and can benefit anyone regardless of age, gender or personal philosophy.

The Cure

A plant-based diet can reduce the risk of developing a number of diseases and serious conditions. Loma Linda University found that vegetarians are 36 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by a large waist circumference and high cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This condition can drastically affect your life, making you less able to perform your daily activities. If not treated properly, these illnesses can lead to physical incapacitation to the point where you rely on wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vans to stay mobile.

A vegetable-rich diet can lower your risk of obesity and certain types of cancer, as well as your cholesterol and blood pressure. This is because a plant-based diet includes more nutrients the body needs like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, as well as fewer of the elements that should be limited like cholesterol and saturated fat. Additionally, vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories and keep a healthy weight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Growing Problem Of Prescription Drug Abuse

Behind the everyday activities of life in America—going to work, socializing with friends and family, running errands, etc.—lies the untold story of prescription drug abuse. For many, the use of a powerful pain reliever (Vicodin, Percocet, morphine, etc.) happens only on a rare occasion that usually after a trip to the dentist to get a root canal or a bad accident ending in a broken bone. But for others, it's a daily struggle as these same drugs have taken over their lives causing both physical dependency and addictive behaviors that they can no longer control. In short, narcotic drug abuse can turn into a disease just like any other disease.

Opioids - Overview And Background

Opioids are the strongest of all pain relievers. They include a number of different products including both prescription and illicit drugs. They can be classified into 3 main types[1]:

1)  Natural Opioids - Extracted from the poppy seed plant Papaver somniferum. Common products are opium and the primary active component of opium—morphine.

2)  Semi-synthetic Opioids - The chemical synthesis of compounds naturally found in plants (alkaloid substances derived from opium). These include heroin, oxycodone (Percocet, Roxicet), oxymorphone, hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab).

3) Synthetic Opioids - This class of opioids is created using completely unnatural substances (petrochemicals) to create a number of different opioid products. Common items include methadone, buprenorphine (Subutex), fentanyl (Duragesic), codeine, meperidine (Demerol), propoxyphene (Darvocet and Darvon - recently withdrawn from the U.S. market).

Many will refer to all of the above medications as narcotics which is only partially true. The term narcotic originated from the ancient Greek words ναρκῶ narkō  which means "numbness" or "stupor". Narcotics have been associated with any psychoactive compound that dulled one's senses, relieves pain, and has sleep-inducing properties.

Narcotics have been widely used without a prescription for thousands of years all over the world for their pain relieving properties, but the U.S in 1915 made these drugs available via prescription only due to the potential for serious consequences if used inappropriately. Stricter regulations have been put in place over the years to try and reduce the amount of harm or even death that occurs from misusing these powerful drugs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Five Tips For De-Stressing While Working Toward A Degree

You can feel it happening. You’re starting to get so worried about tomorrow’s exam that you can’t focus on preparing for your meeting at work. That’s giving you writer’s block for the paper that’s due next week, and the thought of failing has just made you yell at your daughter for no good reason. Relax. Stressing out isn’t going to help anything, and it’s going to make a lot of things worse than they need to be. Sure, going to school while working full-time and being a good spouse and parent can be hectic, but you can get the better of your stress. The following tips can help you de-stress during intense moments as well as help you prevent too much daily stress.

Work Out

This one’s pretty common because it works. A daily exercise routine in the morning or evening can give you more energy throughout the day, help you think more clearly for better learning and keep you calmer at work and home. Everyone can find some physical activity to love. You may discover that you’re a swimmer, a runner or a weight lifter. Some people find that using a punching bag is an excellent way to get rid of excess stress. When you’re at work and you feel stressed, try walking briskly for a few minutes.

Set a Schedule

A common source of stress is the fear that you won’t get everything done in time. A schedule plays the role of timekeeper and security blanket. Write out your schedule, including your work hours, study time, family time and fun time. During your fun time, have fun. Don’t think about work, school or anything else that is troublesome. During your study time, focus on your studies. You’ll be able to relax more when you know at each moment that you’re on track for achieving your goals.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Five Ways to Get More Out of Your Workout

Maintaining a commitment to fitness has limitless benefits. Unfortunately, when you aren't seeing results it can be pretty hard to keep up with your routine. Follow these tips to help amplify your workouts and start seeing more drastic results.

Protein Rich Diet
Just because you may have an aversion to meat doesn’t mean you can’t get plenty of protein in your diet. Protein works as fuel for your muscles and keeps your body going at full speed. Nuts and beans are a great way to get lean protein worked into your diet. Adding more protein and reducing your carbs will allow your body to get the energy it needs to shape long, lean muscles. Throw them into your diet as a snack before and after lunch.

Water and Oxygen
Staying hydrated keeps your muscles energetic. If you pass on drinking water, then you'll quickly feel weak, light headed and even downright cranky. Not only is this bad for you, it is not conducive to a good workout. Plenty of oxygen is also important. Many people hold their breath when lifting a heavy weight. This is the worst thing you can do. Your blood needs plenty of oxygen to keep the muscles fueled. Taking a deep breath in and out with each repetition is necessary.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Extend The Life Of Your Produce: 5 Easy Ways To Keep Them Fresher, Longer

by guest blogger Jemima Lopez

Age, income, size of household—these are all factors that can determine how much money one chooses to spend on groceries. While the amount may vary, one thing is certain: most of those groceries go to waste, especially perishable items like produce. In fact, Americans chunk about 470 pounds of groceries into the trash each year because they spoil too quickly, according to  statistics. But there are a few tricks to help keep some of your groceries— especially your fruits and vegetables—stay fresher, longer.  To learn how to get a better bang for your buck, continue reading below.

1)  Shop Responsibly 

For many, grocery shopping is a hassle. This is why some choose to grocery shop only once at the beginning of each week. But "stocking up" on a week's worth of produce on a Sunday for example won't save you any money—you'll most definitely have a few rotten items by the week's end (most produce only lasts about five days). So instead of selecting produce you think will last you an entire week, only pick out items you plan on using immediately.  Shop with meals already in-mind so you know what you need and don’t need. This trick will also help prevent you from "over shopping" which also leads to unused food and a waste of money (you don’t need all six avocados just because they're on sale). In other words, do not buy more than you will consume. Also, be realistic. If you know you don’t have the energy to cook healthy during work days, shop for a few fresh items on the weekend and just cook then. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Natural Foods" - Don't Be Fooled!!!

What comes to mind when you see the word “natural”? Ice cream, key lime pie, chips? Probably not. But that is what I saw on packaging when I made a trip to the grocery store last week.

“Natural” filled the shelves – tortilla chips, lemon-lime soda, crackers made with refined flour, pies, lemonade powder with a long list of ingredients including yellow dye #5, vegetable oil made with genetically modified soybeans, fruit juices with “natural” flavors added, potato chips – the list goes on.

For some reason, I think of “natural” foods as being bananas, broccoli, apples, lettuce, potatoes, carrots and the like – foods that are unaltered and recognizable for what they are.

Unlike many descriptions listed on food packaging, the term “natural” is not regulated by the FDA. Therefore, the term “natural” can be put on anything. A recent study concluded last year 28% of Americans bought more foods labeled “natural”. “Natural” sells. But don’t be fooled! Unless you recognize the food in its truly “natural” state, it has been reconstructed and has had unnatural chemicals and preservatives added.

For optimal health, eat “natural” foods in the form nature intended them to be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Exercising With Your Dog

by guest blogger Rob Toledo

We hear it pretty much every day. You want to be fit? You need to exercise. You want to lose weight? You’re going to have to exercise. Want to be in a good mood? The key to that is exercise. And yet it seems like we’re still never getting enough exercise. How much is enough? It’s not as bad as you might think. Studies have found that as little as 20 minutes of physical exercise a week can have a profound impact on keeping us mentally healthy and happy. What’s more, if you can manage to work in those 20 minutes of exercise every day, you’ll see a marked improvement in your physical well-being as well. 

But what about motivation? We all know working out on your own can be tough, especially during the winter months where you just don’t want to get out of bed. However, if you’re a dog owner, or thinking about adopting one, it means you have access to one of the best workout partners in existence.