Boosting Your Immunity With Breakfast

breakfast

If you’re beginning to worry about the cold and flu season, you’re not alone. Maybe you’ve made it this far with no symptoms, but it’s always a good idea to give your immune system an extra boost. Two percent of Americans have already suffered with the flu this season, and seven percent have battled a cold—and the season has just begun. Eight to ten percent of people will have a case of the sniffles by December and January. It’s vital to keep up with your multivitamins, sleep, and hand washing, but there are other things you can do. Here are some immunity-boosting breakfasts that can help you start your day off on the right foot.

Fruit Salad. Full of vitamin C, a citrus-y salad might be just what the doctor ordered. Choose fruits like papaya, kiwi, and even cantaloupe for a bowl of juicy, vitamin-packed goodness.

Sunny-Side Up. As the weather gets cooler, chances are you’re not getting as much sun. Lack of vitamin D in your diet during the fall and winter months might be one of the reasons you’re getting sick, and getting enough of the vitamin might be exactly what your body needs to help reduce your risk of catching the sniffles, and can even fight colds. According to Time, the benefits are even bigger in people who were lacking the vitamin already. Try sunny-side up eggs—one egg yolk has 37 IUs of vitamin D, which is six percent of your recommended daily intake.

Yogurt Boost. For some serious zinc—three milligrams, to be exact, try adding an ounce of wheat germ to your morning cup of yogurt for a nutty, sweet flavor boost. It’s a vegetarian source of the mineral, and zinc can help to shorten a cold by about a day and a half.

Salmon Toast. Another great source of vitamin D is salmon, so try some smoked salmon on whole grain toast with cheese for a hearty—and healthy—breakfast. According to Ilyse Schapiro, RD, CDN, dairy products can aggravate congestion in some, but not others, so a bit of protein-packed cheese might still be a good addition to your meal. Protein can help your body create more white blood cells to fight off infections like colds.

Omelet. Another way to get eggs, this time with a boost of vitamin C. A cup of chopped red pepper contains 190 milligrams of vitamin C, and comes with a walloping dose of vitamin A, which can help to grow mucosal cells—the first line of defense against harmful bacteria, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Autumn Granola. Add some pumpkin seeds to your homemade granola for a kick of three milligrams of zinc, which is about 20 percent of your recommended daily intake. You can also add them to cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt.

Tea. Want the best addition to your breakfast during the cold months? Try a cup of tea—especially green tea—to help boost your immune system with antioxidants that can help fight viruses. Any additional liquid can also help to reduce congestion, so a cup of tea and good hydration with water can help tremendously. 

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: breakfast by meglet127, used under a creative commons license.

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4 Ways Your Hair Shows Your Health

NEW HAIR

If you struggle with hair that is thinning, or your once glossy, thick hair is now limp, your health might have something to do with it. Your hair can help give you clues when something is amiss in your overall health. If you’ve been swimming a lot in chlorinated water, or dye your hair often, your hair can be directly affected. But here are four other ways your health can be shown through your hair.

Hypothyroidism. Limp, dry hair, followed by weight gain, fatigue, and a sense of being cold often, could mean that you’re suffering with hypothyroidism—which is when your metabolism slows down due to a lack of hormones being produced by your thyroid gland. It’s important to see your doctor if you believe hypothyroidism to be the culprit, since a prescribed medication can help to steady your hormone levels.

Psoriasis. Anti-dandruff shampoo can help with dandruff problems, but if you’re seeing scaly patches, you might have psoriasis. This is an autoimmune disease that can cause the skin to go into overdrive. Multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease can lead to psoriasis, so it’s important to pay attention if you already have another autoimmune disease.

Stress. If you lose about 100 hairs a day, you’re pretty average. It’s common to lose hair daily, as long as it doesn’t make your hair feel thinner. If you feel as though your hair is thinning or is coming out in clumps, chances are something is amiss. Stress from a recent surgery or trauma can sometimes be the culprit, and other times it could have something to do with a hormonal imbalance like PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. Medications like birth control and antidepressants can sometimes cause hair loss as well.

Protein. Or really, lack of protein. If you’re not getting enough protein in your diet to strengthen the keratin in your hair, your hair may end up weak, dry and brittle. Dry and brittle hair can also be caused by a thyroid problem, so if you suspect a problem, a doctor’s visit is in order.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: NEW HAIR by Keely Yount. Used under a creative commons license.

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Exercises That Torch Calories

Exercise bikes

You might love running on the treadmill and hitting the stationary bike, but you may be missing out on other exercises that can burn a tremendous amount of calories without a machine. If you’re on vacation or you’re short on time, these exercises can help you to stay in great shape without having to hit the gym. These five exercises also target several muscles at one time while burning maximum calories—just keep in mind these calorie estimates are based on a person who weighs about 155 pounds.

Plank drag. This exercise targets your core and burns 12 calories per set. Take a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders while placing each of your feet on a small towel (make sure you’re on a hard surface). Brace your abs and drag your body from one side of the room to the other, using your arms to pull your weight. Do three sets—with one trip across the room and back counting as one set.

Burpees. Take a push-up position again, and jump your feet in towards your chest. Next, jump into the air, lifting your arms up towards the ceiling, and land back on your feet. Go back into your push-up position right away and repeat. Do as many as you can do safely—this burns 10 calories per minute.

Jump lunges. Starting with your feet together, lunge forward with one foot. Keeping your elbows bent, jump up and land with your opposite foot forward, using your arms to help propel you into the air. This exercise burns 12 calories per minute.

Renegade row. Take two hand weights, making sure they are large enough to support your hands without your knuckles being smashed into the floor. Take a push-up position with your weights supporting you, and lift one elbow up to the ceiling—think of your elbow almost brushing the side of your body. Hold for two seconds, and lower the weight back down to the floor. Repeat on the other side—this exercise burns 15 calories per minute.

Squat to press. Using two light hand weights, take a hip-width stance. Place your elbows at 90 degrees with your palms forward. Take a squat position—holding it for two seconds—then lift up. As you stand up, lift your weights up to the ceiling. This exercise burns 14 calories per minute. 

Keep in mind these exercises are intense, so it’s important to work up to a certain fitness level first. Make sure to see a physician or other health care professional before beginning any kind of new fitness routine. 

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: Exercise bikes by Keith Ramsey, used under a creative commons license.

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Why Diets Don’t Work … And How To Change That

Seattle "Night Out"

If you’ve tried dieting in the past, you know how difficult it is to maintain. What seemed so doable when you first decided to take the plunge becomes unbearable by day two. Suddenly you’re surrounded by temptations calling your name—it’s someone’s birthday at the office and the cupcake shop you’ve been dying to try is catering, or your spouse brings home a surprise pizza for dinner so you don’t have to cook—and it’s your favorite kind, of course.

Before you know it, you’re “off” your diet—at least until Monday, when you will go back “on” your diet—for good, this time. According to a UK food company, only 20 percent of people who diet on a regular basis reach the three-month mark. Two out of five quit within seven days, and one out of five stop within the first month. Here are five ways to stay on track to long-term weight loss.

Body Rebellion. If your body is unhappy, you know it—and extreme diets can bring on headaches, mood swings, fatigue, brain fog, an upset stomach, and even withdrawals. This is the opposite of what you should be feeling—a healthy diet should bring more energy and feelings of being happy, light and clear-headed. To fix this problem, it’s important to give your body the nutrients it needs, and anything less can leave you miserable while compromising your metabolism. Try finding the right balance by adding an extra healthy snack, adding in a bit of fruit, or increasing your portions enough to avoid extreme hunger.

Hunger. Hunger does not necessarily mean you’re losing weight, and chronic hunger can actually keep you from losing weight. Your body conserves energy when you’re hungry all the time, due to the imbalanced and nutrient-deficient diet you’re on. Stick to healthy foods that also keep you satisfied for a longer period of time—lean protein (eggs, poultry, fish, and beans), fiber-filled foods (fruits, whole grains, and veggies), and healthy fats (avocados, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil). Eating extra fruits and vegetables can also help you to fill up without the excess calories.

Cravings. If you’re craving something every day of every week without ever giving in to eating it, you may end up resentful, angry, or even depressed—which can lead to bingeing or abandoning the diet altogether. But long-term weight loss and maintenance is a life-long commitment—which means you have to decide what you cannot live without forever. Try splurging on your cravings in small doses—maybe buy a cookie once a week or split one dessert during a date night out. Adding nutritious-but-creamy healthy foods can also help—try dark chocolate or a nut butter to help satiate your cravings in a healthy way.

Social Pressure. When others pressure you into dessert or a few more drinks at a family gathering or on a girls’ or guys’ night out, it can be difficult or embarrassing to say no. Since friends tend to give each other “permission” to overeat, it’s easy to fall into the trap over and over again. Try mixing things up with friends by going to see a play instead, or take dance lessons and workout classes. When you do get stuck in front of a large cake, explain your new lifestyle choices and ask for the support of your friends and family.

Emotions. Food can be an emotional thing—it’s the center of attention at birthday parties, family gatherings, holidays, and many other celebratory occasions. When you’re feeling emotional, it’s easy to overeat. You’re not feeling rational, and that ice cream hidden in the back of the fridge is going to win no matter what, so why not just give in now? The best thing you can do is to choose to do something else that will distract you to begin changing the pattern. Read inspiring stories, do yoga, go for a run, meditate, or simply go to the gym to work off your stress. 

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: Seattle “Night Out” by Bridget Christian, used under a creative commons license.

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How Healthy is Veganism?

Veganism is on the rise; in fact, it has gone from one percent of the population to two percent of the population.  That might not seem like much, but it is a decent percentage of growth.  Is a vegan diet really healthy though?  There are numerous conflicting studies on veganism, so this is a controversial issue.

While dietary choices are entirely up to each individual, there are some positive aspects to having a plant-based diet.  Vegans are reported to have lower levels of cholesterol, but they often have lower levels of certain vitamins too.  It is possible to be a vegan and still get all the protein you need without having to eat any animal products.  It must be a monitored diet and you have to be proactive about everything you eat.

VeganIt is never recommended that a person all of a sudden eliminate all animal products from their diet.  They should should talk to their physician or a registered dietician first and foremost.  The bottom line is that you can be healthy and unhealthy even if you’re a vegan, just as you can be healthy and unhealthy on a diet that includes animal products.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Image Credit: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Eliot Phillips

How To Reset Your Sleep Cycle For Fall

Fall leaves

Fall is on the way, and as excited as you are about hot mugs of chai tea and cocoa—there’s probably another thought on your mind. Fall and winter bring on shorter days, and the adjustment into the new schedule after the long summer days of fun can seem daunting. You might still be engaged in activities late into the night, which causes you to be exhausted the next morning. So how do you reset your sleep patterns to prepare for the fall season ahead? Try these steps to put your sleep schedule on track.

Make your own sunset. Sure, it’s fake, but it might help you get to sleep sooner. Dim the lights and stay away from electronics for about one or two hours before heading to bed. Bright lights can affect your melatonin production—which means the blue light from your cell phone can also affect your ability to become sleepy and stay asleep throughout the night.

Calm down. Allow your body to prepare for sleep by engaging in activities that keep you relaxed. Avoid working up until the moment you go to sleep—and half an hour before you go to bed is probably not the best time to jump into a high-energy dance game. Whether you stretch or sit calmly and breathe, take the time to wind down.

Open the windows. As soon as you wake up, fill your room and home with bright natural light. Open the windows and maybe step outside while you drink your coffee. This helps to halt your melatonin production so that you wake up—and puts your body on a routine wake and sleep schedule.

Stay on track. It’s easy to allow yourself to have a varying sleep schedule once the weekends come around. Try to keep your sleep schedule on track every day of the week, without too many major variations.

Take it slow. Adjusting to a new sleep schedule might take some time, so be patient and give your body some time to really adjust. Try changing your schedule in 15 minute increments until you reach your goal sleep schedule.

Pay attention to your diet. Summer means extra ice cream and vacation food, so try to get back on a healthy diet. Avoid sugar, alcohol, and caffeine at night.

If you still have trouble sleeping, your doctor or a sleep specialist may be able to help you settle into your fall routine.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: Fall leaves by sponselli, used under a creative commons license.

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How To Keep Your Skin Healthy

Skin...

As the body’s largest organ, your skin is naturally something that you want to take care of. One look at your skin can tell you a lot about your health. When you’re dehydrated, your skin loses its elasticity—and you may end up with a combination of dry skin and chapped lips. Your skin can also tell you a lot through breakouts, rashes, hives, and other unsightly problems. It’s important to take care of your skin, not only from the outside—but from the inside, too. Here are some foods that you might want to consider avoiding for optimum skin health.

Salt. The culprit behind puffy eyes, salt can cause you to retain water—which can lead to swelling, especially around the eyes. Although that bag of chips for cheat night might sound appealing, you may want to consider eating them earlier in the day.

Shellfish. Certain seafood items such as shrimp, crab, lobster, or shellfish can put you on track to a breakout. These foods and other iodine-rich items—like seaweed and spinach—can put you at an increased risk for acne. This can happen over time if you eat a diet high in iron, so if you are prone to breakouts—stick to eating these foods only a couple of times a month.

Milk. According to a 2005 study, consuming higher amounts of milk has been linked to acne breakouts—although these particular participants had to recall how much milk they drank instead of recording it. However, recent research from a 2012 study found skim milk to be the link between milk and acne breakouts. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the increased amount of bioavailable hormones can over-stimulate the glands that produce the skin’s natural oily secretions.

High-glycemic food. Starch-filled foods, such as white bread, pasta, or cake, might keep you from having the skin you desire. These foods can spike your blood sugar, and a 2007 study found that a low-glycemic diet helped young men to reduce their acne.

Sugar. You already know that starchy foods break down into sugar, which is a problem, so naturally, the consumption of refined sugar is also an issue. According to Daily Glow, high blood sugar can cause the skin to weaken. So relax, your weekly intake of chocolate isn’t the problem—it’s the sugar content. If you must have your chocolate fix, stick to dark chocolate.

Alcohol. This diuretic can dehydrate you, which will zap the moisture from your skin. Stick to one or two drinks to avoid becoming too dehydrated—and drink water in between sips to rehydrate.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: Skin… by wetwebwork, used under a creative commons license.

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Fight Breast Cancer With Exercise

Karyn Marshall is an extremely active woman, who is driven toward success.  She has worked extensively on Wall Street, and she is a former World’s Strongest Woman.  Marshall cherishes keeping her body fit and strong.  She was an early proponent of CrossFit and even after her Strongest Woman success, she continued to stay in shape and active.  However, one day while performing a routine self breast examination, she discovered a lump which she soon found out was breast cancer.

CancerShe underwent a lymphectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.  Due to her active lifestyle, it was hard for Marshall to completely give up on exercise due to the fatigue caused by chemotherapy.  Even this couldn’t keep Marshall from working out.  She kept up with a regular exercise routine throughout her entire cancer treatment.

One year following her treatment, Marshall is back working out at full speed and hopes to compete in a CrossFit tournament.  Doctors recommend that their patients try to stay as active as possible, even if that means just getting up and walking.  Exercise is an important part of life for everyone, no matter what health they are in.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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How To Strengthen Your Back In Four Moves

17 Back Exercise

Do you struggle with back pain? Whether you work at a desk all day or spend your hours picking up small children, you might be feeling the effects on your body—specifically your back. According to celebrity trainer Kathy Kaehler, back pain is generally caused by muscle imbalances. She suggests trying this test: “Stand with your back to a wall, shoulder blades pressed against it. Can you hold the position for the length of the song ‘Happy Birthday’? If not, you’ll need to strengthen your back and core. This can help relieve and prevent back pain, and you’ll improve your posture, too—making you look longer and leaner.”

Here are some exercises to help strengthen your back and improve your posture”

Reverse fly. Stand with your feet about hip-distance, with a flat back and slightly bent knees. Using a 5 or 8-pound dumbbell (or more if you’re stronger), hinge forward from the waist and brace your abs. Lift both dumbbells out to the sides until you’ve reached your shoulder height, then release them back to your hips. Do about 16 reps in two sets, and make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other at the top of each rep.

Bent-over row. Using the same weights, stand with your feet about hip-distance and hinge forward from the hips. Again, keep your knees slightly bent with a flat back. Holding the dumbbells, bring them up from your knee level to your rib cage—and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Do 12 reps twice through.

Arm and leg reach. Go on all fours and reach one arm forward. As you do this, reach your opposite leg back with a flexed foot. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and then let it go. Repeat on the other side, and do about 15 reps on each side.

Swan dive. Lie face down on a mat, abs pulled in, reaching your arms forward. Lift your head (looking facedown), arms and legs up—hold for one count. Circle your arms back and to your sides, lifting your head up and looking forward. Turn your palms in and reach your fingers toward your toes. Hold for one count, and then return to the starting position. Repeat eight or more times.

These back exercises can help to improve the strength of your back, which is vital for long-term back health. Try these exercises at your gym or in your living room to get on the right track to a stronger back. It’s important to check with your physician or other health care professional before beginning any kind of new fitness routine, especially if you’re already under a doctor’s care for back problems. 

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Image Credit: 17 Back Exercise by bwanderd, used under a creative commons license.

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Is Agave Healthy?

You may have heard about all the negative facts about chemically created artificial sweeteners; so if the artificial ones are bad and regular sugar is unhealthy, what is left for all of us with a sweet tooth?  If you’re a fan of honey, but want to switch things up, there is a sweet nectar that you may have not heard about.  When you want a sweet touch to your coffee or favorite dessert, you can add in some agave nectar.

Agave is much like honey with its sticky and sweet taste, but it is made from blue agave plants, which have been used for centuries as natural remedies for skin wounds and infections.

agaveThe medicinal benefits of agave aren’t proven, but the sweet taste is savored all over the world.  While agave does contain some vitamins and nutrients, the concentration is not enough to provide any substantial benefits.  You may have heard about how healthy agave can be, but the facts say otherwise.  Agave is not any healthier than refined sugar, but it does not bring with it all the chemicals of artificial sweeteners.  The bottom line is to enjoy agave in moderation.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Image Credit: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Heather Kennedy