The Best Drink on Earth

Water is crucial for good health, but the needs vary by person.  So how much to drink depends on a lot of variables.  We will break some of them down.  

The amount of water that a person needs depends on their health, where they live and how active they are.  The are many benefits of water.  Water is the main component to the human body and makes up about 60% of it’s weight.  Every system of the body depends on water.  It carries nutrients and flushes toxins out.  Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water to carry out regular functions.

So have much is the question?  You are constantly losing water through breathe, sweat, urine, etc.  It is important to replenish the water loss.  The average healthy adult needs 8 to 9 cups a day.  Many live by the 8*8 rule, drinking eight 8 ounce glasses a day.  You may need more or less depending on the climate that you live in.  People living in hot, dry areas are going to need more water.  Also people that exercise will need to drink an extra 1 to 2 cups for each hours of physical activity.  Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding will need to increase their fluid consumption.  Pregnant women should try to drink about 10 cups each day.  Breastfeeding women should try to drink about 13 cups a day because of the greater fluid loss.

With summer being here, there are lots of fun, fresh drink options.  Remember to be careful when consuming these because they are often packed with sugar and not beneficial for your health.  Here is a list of the 7 worst summer drinks for your health.

The following video gives some new insightful benefits of water!

Diet vs. Exercise

There is always a lot of debate of diet vs. exercise. Which is better or more important?  Well I found out here that it depends on what your focus is.  Obviously when put together they will have a greater impact on your health but some experts have broken it down for us. 

Losing Weight.  The winner is diet.  Why?  Simply because cutting out 500 calories is much easier than spending an hour+ at the gym.  Although, it is important to remember that both are important for keeping weight off.

Boosting Energy.  The winner is exercise because it causes the brain to pour out invigorating neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.

Reducing Risk of Heart Disease.  The winner is diet.  If it came down to one nutrient that would reduce the risk the most, it would be omega-3 fatty acids.  Some studies show it can reduce the risk up to 64%!

Preventing Diabetes.  The winner is exercise.  Both are important but exercise has a slight edge.  Active muscles eat up glucose from the blood for fuel which keeps the blood sugar levels stable.

Preventing Cancer.  It is a tie! Both play a crucial role in preventing cancer.

Improving Moods.  The winner is exercise.  A 20 minute workout can be enough to perk your mood for up to 12 hours! It has also been shown to be as effective as medication treatment for depression.  It strengthens the brain to protect you from stress.

One of the best exercises is running.  For guide to get you going visit here.

3 Things That Can Calm You Down Fast!

Are you still having a stressful week? If the fact that it’s not Friday isn’t enough to make your stress levels take a dip, then try one of these three things…

Sniff some lavender: Multiple studies have confirmed the soothing properties of lavender. Whether you just keep a little sachet at your desk or try it in the form of lavender-scented shampoo or candle (I like this one) it’s a cheap and easy way to feel zen. I LOVE lavender, do you?

Eat a mango: Oddly, Japanese researchers say that the scent of mango produces calm feelings. They’re not sure why, but since mango is such a healthy snack, it’s worth trying!

Have a good cry: Confession: I cried recently, and it felt really good. I felt calmer afterward, less worried about the thing I was crying about in the first place. Turns out, I’m not alone. More than 85 percent of women say that crying helps them feel calmer. So don’t hold back those tears! If you need something to help, try watching this.

Other ways to get calm, aside from the above, are:

*Go for a run (seriously, it’s best thing I’ve found to clear my head and make me feel less anxious)

*Listen to music (it’s a mood-altering substance, say experts)

*And take a nap or go to bed early, preferably after taking a hot bath.

If you are still not convinced of the negative affects that stress can have, watch the following video.

The Health Tests Every Women Should Have

There are many tests out there, it is hard to remember what we need to worry about.  Tests are a step to help you be aware of your health stats also so that you and your doctor can spot problems early, when they’re easier to treat. Below is a rundown of the most important tests recommended by experts for women from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.Talk to your doctor about which ones apply to you, and when and how often you should be tested. He or she may suggest other tests as well.  

  • Obesity: Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. (BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.) You can also find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
  • Breast Cancer: Have a mammogram every one to two years starting at age forty or fifty, depending on your doctor’s opinion. There is a dispute among the experts over whether to start at age forty or fifty — the American Cancer Society recommends forty, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends fifty. Ask your doctor how the risks and benefits apply specifically to you and at what age you should start routine screening.
  • Cervical Cancer: Have a Pap smear every one to three years.
  • High Cholesterol: Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age forty-five.
  • High Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
  • Colorectal Cancer: Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age fifty. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.
  • Diabetes: Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Depression: Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt “down,” sad, or hopeless over the last two weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.
  • Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones): Have a bone density test beginning at age sixty-five to screen for osteoporosis. If you are between the ages of sixty and sixty-four and weigh 154 pounds or less, talk to your doctor about being tested.
  • Chlamydia and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections: Have a test for chlamydia if you are twenty-five or younger and sexually active. If you are older, talk to your doctor about being tested. Also ask whether you should be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • HIV: Have a test to screen for HIV infection
The following video is an interesting story on stroke screening.  It is quite motivating.
 

Trouble Sleeping?

Women are more likely to have insomnia than men. One reason is that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and menopause can affect sleep. During menopause, women may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Hot flashes and night sweats often can disturb sleep.

During pregnancy, hormonal, physical, and emotional changes can disturb sleep. Pregnant women, especially in the third trimester, may wake up frequently due to discomfort, leg cramps, or needing to use the bathroom.

Some medical conditions that can cause secondary insomnia also are more common in women than men. These include depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and some sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome.

Tips for better sleep

  • Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Do not take naps after 3 p.m.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day or at night.
  • Get regular physical activity. But exercise or physical activity done too close to bed time can make it hard to fall asleep. Make sure you eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a “white noise” machine to cover up the sounds.
  • Follow a routine to help relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
  • If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or don’t feel drowsy, get out of bed and sit in your bedroom or another room. Read or do a quiet activity until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
  • If you lay awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed so that you don’t use time in bed for worry.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • See your doctor or a sleep specialist if you think that you have insomnia or another sleep problem.

The map below depicts age-adjusted percentage of adults who reported 30 days of insufficient rest or sleep during the preceding 30 days. Data is from the 2008 BRFSS found here

For more information visit womenshealth.gov

The Better U Program

A Free Better U Program?  Yes, please!

 The American Heart Association has developed The Better U Program which is a 12-week program to a better, healthier heart.  The program includes 3 parts to serve as a helpful guide.  The following are parts of the program.

Journals

  • Write down your personal thoughts, successes and obstacles. Whether you journal daily or weekly, this is your space to create inspiration and find it by reflecting on how far you’ve come.

Weekly Guidance

  • Each week, the BetterU program will focus on a different area of heart health, providing you information, tips and guidance to better your health and your heart.
Quizzes
  • Find out what you do – and don’t – know about improving your heart health. Take weekly quizzes to test your knowledge about heart disease and learn how activity, diet, and lifestyle changes can affect your risk.
Need some reasons to worry about your heart?  Here are some stats from the CDC’s website about women and heart disease.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. In 2006, 315,930 women died from it.
  • Heart disease killed 26% of the women who died in 2006—more than one in every four.
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Unfortunately, 36% of women did not perceive themselves to be at risk for heart disease in a 2005 survey.

The Perfect Skin Diet

This post was inspired by a recent article in the Women’s Health Magazine.  Many women, including myself, may be surprised to learn that our diets can indeed affect our skin.  The magazine has broken down into 10 skin super foods that can help us eat our way to a better complexion.

#1 Almonds: They are seeds, not nuts, and they’re stuffed with vitamin E, a potent sun blocker. Volunteers who consumed 14 milligrams of the vitamin per day (about 20 almonds) and then were exposed to UV light sunburned less than those who took none

#2 Carrots: Think of them as orange wonder wands—good for eyeballs, good for clearing up breakouts. Credit vitamin A. “It helps prevent the overproduction of cells in the skin’s outer layer,” says Howard Murad, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA.

#3 Dark Chocolate: It’s medicine—so of course you need it! Flavonols, the antioxidants in dark chocolate, reduce roughness in the skin and protect against sun damage.

#4 Flaxseeds: These wee seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which erase spots and iron out fine lines.

#5 Green Tea: What can’t green tea do? The bionic brew releases catechins, a type of antioxidant with proven anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. (The tea’s antioxidants start to degrade as it cools, so drink it while it’s hot.)

#6 Safflower Oil: The omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower oil can be the ultimate moisturizer for people who suffer from painfully dry, flaky, itchy skin.

#7 Spinach:   It’s thought that the folate in these veggies may help repair and maintain DNA—basically bolstering cells’ ability to renew themselves. That reduces the likelihood of cancer-cell growth.

#8 Sweet Potatoes: They not only pack a big yum; they’re also loaded with vitamin C, which smooths out wrinkles.

#9 Tomatoes: Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays.

#10 Tuna in a Can: Your favorite sandwich melt has a little secret: selenium. This nutrient helps preserve elastin, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and tight. The antioxidant is also believed to buffer against the sun.

And just as a reminder, always remember to protect your skin from the sun,  refer back to this post.