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5 Simple Habits To Promote A Healthier Lifestyle

We all know that life can throw us some curveballs…so one of the biggest questions many people have is, how do we maintain a healthy lifestyle while juggling everything else happening on a daily basis? The best answer is to form simple habits to incorporate into your everyday routine. This way you don’t have to worry about adding anything else to your day or changing your lifestyle — think of it this way… we’ll work smarter, not harder! Below, are 5 simple, and easy habits to form in order to promote a healthier lifestyle!

1. Create A Healthy Working Space

We spend hours a day working to benefit our careers or carry out a customers’ needs, but often times overlook our own personal needs. If you’re going to be glued to an office space or work computer, make it benefit not only your career goals, but your health goals too! Try adding a standing desk to your office, or swap out those pop-able munchies for a stash of healthy office snacks.

2. Drink Water With Every Meal

One of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet is to drink more water! Our bodies need and crave water to carry out basic functions throughout the day, and upping your water intake will result in numerous health benefits. From improving your hair and skin, to maintaining a healthy blood pressure and even losing weight, your body will surely thank you! Try replacing your go-to beverage with water during mealtimes and after just a few weeks you’ll be shocked at the results!

3. Sleep 7 – 9 Hours Each Night

Whether it’s stress, maintaining your social life, grief, or staying up to watch your latest Netflix binge, it’s very easy for life to get in the way of healthy sleeping patterns. However, giving your body a break and making consistent sleep (7- 9 hours each night) a priority is a MUST. A solution could be as easy as finding the best mattress to compliment your sleeping habits, or using natural remedies like meditation to relax before bed. Another tip for those having trouble sleeping, is to keep a strict sleeping schedule: Wake up and go to bed around the same time every night. That way, your body becomes used to this routine, and prepares you for sleep at the same time each night.

4. Drink Green Tea

Have you been searching for the fountain of youth? Well here’s a secret. One exists. In the form of Green Tea. Other than water, it’s the healthiest beverage out there. It’s packed with antioxidants that improve brain function, regulate metabolism, and ultimately keeps your body looking and feeling young! Bonus: Green Tea contains some caffeine, so instead of loading up on 4 cups of coffee to get you through the day, try replacing one or two cups with Green Tea.

5. Turn TV Time Into Exercise Time

Imagine this. You’re working late, you have to make dinner for your family, AND make sure you tune into Monday Night’s episode of The Bachelor before bed. Unfortunately, you didn’t have time to workout. Or so you thought… Here are a few simple workouts that you can perform in small spaces, such as your living room or bedroom during TV time and/or commercial breaks!

6 Nutrition Tips to Protect Your Brain and Balance Your Mood

With 25 percent of adults and 10 percent of children experiencing mental illness each year and major depression burgeoning into a leading cause of disability around the world, it’s easy to feel stressed about the state of stress. However, recent research is revealing a new line of defense against mood disorders that’s a little bit different from the traditional approach of medication and therapy: the diet.

A growing body of data suggests our gut health directly influences brain development and mental health. It’s believed that the microorganisms residing in human guts, known as the microbiome, impact the generation and metabolization of neurotransmitters like mood-boosting serotonin and dopamine, along with other neuroactive chemicals.

Unfortunately, when people are experiencing mental illness or otherwise feeling down, they’re far more likely to reach for comfort foods that are high in fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates than health food. But it turns out that comfort foods aren’t so comforting after all: Simple carbohydrates and processed foods have been shown to increase the risk of depression, while a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods seem to protect the brain.

So if you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mood problems, and want to stop them before larger problems occur (or, if you just want to help prevent these issues from starting in the first place), how can you tailor your diet for a healthy brain?

  • Limit alcohol consumption. While it’s tempting to reach for a glass of wine after a tough day, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to addiction and actually exacerbate mood disorders by interfering with the body’s metabolization of tryptophan, an amino acid that’s critical in the production of serotonin.
  • Stick to complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates like sugar, corn syrup, and refined grains cause blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to mood swings and brain fog. And while simple carbohydrates can provide a short-term serotonin boost, complex carbs like legumes, whole grains, and fibrous vegetables are much more effective at providing your brain lasting, stable serotonin.
  • Eat tryptophan. In order for carbohydrates to effectively boost serotonin, they need to be consumed alongside tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets converted into serotonin, and you’ll find it in proteins like turkey, duck, eggs, and beef.
  • Get your vitamins. Deficiencies of B12, folate, selenium, and vitamin D have all been linked to higher rates of mood disorders like depression. To make sure you’re getting enough of these important nutrients, consume plenty of seafood, lean meats, dairy, and eggs (B12, selenium, and vitamin D), and legumes, nuts, and dark leafy greens (folate). And spend plenty of time outdoors, even in the winter months, because sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D. Supplements can be a great tool, especially for vegetarians and vegans, but too much selenium and vitamin D can be toxic, so consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
  • Look for antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants have been connected to reduced cognitive decline and cancer risk, and evidence suggests that they can even help with moods. Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables like berries, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and carrots are all great sources of antioxidants, as are nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Consume probiotics. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium have been shown to reduce anxiety-like behavior in mice, and scientists believe the mood-enhancing benefits of these probiotic bacteria extend to humans. And while these beneficial bacteria may be difficult to pronounce, they’re easy to find. Look for fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha that contain active cultures.

Eating well can go a long way toward promoting good mental health, whether you’re currently experiencing a mood disorder or just want to protect your cognition as you age. And while diet alone may not be enough to manage a mental illness, it’s an invaluable tool in the fight for a healthy, happy brain.


Image via Pixabay by Foundry

How Your Lifestyle Can Affect Genes That Cause Cancer

There are two schools of thinking about cancer.  School one says that cancer is a hereditary disease, passed from generation to generation.  A good example of this are women who possess the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation.  Women with this mutation have a 70% lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.  Angelina Jolie, for example, lost her mother and aunt to cancer and was subsequently found to have the same mutation.

The second school says that cancer can occur due to lifestyle choices.  A good example of this is cigarette smoking. It is the number cause of lung cancer, linked to 80 – 90% of lung cancer cases.

Recently, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have introduced another theory about the development of cancer.  They proposed that there are processes within our cells that activate certain sequences of DNA.  Those processes act as on/off switches for the development of cancer.

This idea is based on the evolving science of epigenetics. Epigenetics looks at the way genes express or don’t express themselves as we age.  Those gene changes are thought to be influenced directly as a result of our nutrition and behavior, as well as exposure to toxins in our environment.  In a sense, it’s a hybrid of hereditary disease and lifestyle choices.

Epigenetics is a normal process in our bodies.  For example, all of our DNA is the same, yet cells develop into liver cells, brain cells, muscle cells, etc. because of the way epigenetics turns on and off different cell processes.  But our lifestyle choices can impact the way genes express themselves as well.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “Sitting is the new smoking.”  The reason for this is due to research on lifestyle and cancer.  The results of dozens of surveys found that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risks of cancer, specifically colon cancer.  Subjects who spent most of their day sitting were 24% more likely to get colon cancer.  People who watched the most television had a 54% greater risk than those who watched fewer hours.  Uterine cancer was also affected by sitting; women who were the most inactive experienced a 32% great risk.  The female T.V. watchers fared worse; those who watched the most television has a 66% risk of developing uterine cancer.

In all these cases, it’s not the inactivity per se that causes cancer to develop.  It’s the processes of epigenetics that are affected by inactivity that can cause cancer.

It’s a complicated and exciting time.  Next month, more on how unhealthy habits are incorporated into our DNA and passed onto our children.


Sources:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/lifestyle-choices-could-affect-gene-sequences-that-code-for-cancer/

http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895

http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/2/