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10 Sources Of Carbs That Will Surprise You

When you think carbs, bread, pasta and cake are the first things that come to mind. You likely do not expect that carbs can be found in some pretty surprising places, and It’s good to know just where they are. For those who are diabetic, carbs are especially important and most patients aim for 45-60 grams of carbs at each meal, though you need to talk with your own healthcare team to see what amount of carbs is best for you.

Here are then surprisingly sources of carbs and options you might try instead.

1. Milk substitutes like soy and almond milk are good choices for those who are lactose intolerant, or anyone who wants to try a few different types of milk, but watch out for the varieties with flavor as they also tend to have lots of sugar. Vanilla almond milk has 16 grams of carbs; chocolate soy milk has 23 grams compared to plain soy, which has only 12 grams.

2. Yogurt is a tasty source of calcium and offers good bacteria known as probiotics (you want the words “live active cultures” on the label), but some low fat, fruit filled options have near 40 grams of carbs in an 8 ounce portion. If you want a lower carb alternative, try Greek yogurt as the plain, no fat kind has almost 9 grams of carbs at the same size and also has more protein than regular yogurt.

3. Baked beans in the can offer lots of protein and fiber, but they also bring you a surprising 54 grams of carbs… likely a whole day’s carb budget blown in one meal. Try to limit yourself to a half cup serving instead.

4. Tomato sauce in a jar is most likely to have added sugar and carbs (nearly 12 grams per half cup) so you’ll need to check the nutrition facts carefully. Many brands also have lots of sodium, so when in doubt, use the sauce sparingly.

5. Salad dressing, no matter the kind, anything that comes as bottled dressing will have sugar, varying by brand, so check the labels. Stick to the serving size given on the bottle, or dip salad into the dressing rather than smothering the whole salad with a mountain of Italian, Caesar, French or Russian dressing in order to do best in terms of carbs.

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10 Sources Of Carbs That Will Surprise You Continued…

6. Barbecue sauce is another place where the portion size makes all the difference. A tablespoon will give you almost 7 grams of carbs, but if you keep on dipping to consume a half-cup, you’ll have taken in a whopping 58 grams of carbs just from the sauce.

7. Orange chicken seems like a tasty, healthy takeout combination, but a standard order of this dish brings you an astonishing 146 grams of carbs. So next time you order Chinese food, skip this option in favor of something steamed instead of loaded with batter.

8. Split pea soup centers around peas, which are starch veggies to begin with, so you’ll be getting a lot of carbs (26 grams per cup) along with the other nutrients in the soup. Many also have lots of salt, so choose low sodium varieties when possible.

9. Sugar free cookies are not free of carbs, unfortunately. Some have nearly as many carbs in a serving as a regular cookie would, so look to the nutrition facts before making a purchase.

10. Protein bars are intended for athletes who need extra energy and they are not intended to be low carb. In fact many have plenty of protein and carbs. For a low carb snack, try a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter instead.

Surprised? We certainly were.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

9 Surprising Ways You Make Allergies Worse

Yes, you read that right. You may be doing things that make your allergies even worse. Anyone who has them knows first hand that allergies cause the most disruptive, most lingering and unpleasant symptoms. For the estimated 60 million Americans who struggle, it might surprise you to hear that though you keep your windows closed, you stay indoors when pollen counts are high, you may still be doing things that contribute to your symptoms.

Here are nine, along with quick fixes.

1. A friend who smokes cigarettes around you, as allergy sufferers appear to be especially vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke. Some times particles from a heavy smokers clothing or hair can also be problematic.

2. Showering only in the morning. Those who deal with hay fever actually benefit from a quick shower as soon as they get home, or after being outside for any length of time. This helps remove hidden pollen particles on your body, hair, clothing and shoes that can keep on triggering symptoms even after you’re inside. If you’re dealing with a pollen allergy, make it a habit to slip out of your shoes, change and put your clothes in the hamper and shower as soon as you come inside.

3. Stress laden deadlines at work. Research from 2008 found that subjects with allergies had more symptoms after taking a test designed to induce anxiety, compared to when the same subjects did something that didn’t make them feel anxious. Those troublesome stress hormones may increase the body’s production of blood proteins that bring on allergic reactions. So if you’re under stress, be sure to get enough sleep and keep up with any stress reduction strategies that work for you. If you don’t have any, find some, fast.

4. Having another glass of wine with dinner. Surprisingly, alcohol can increase the chances of perennial allergic rhinitis by 3% for every added alcoholic drink consumed in a single week. It may be that the bacteria and yeast naturally part of wine produce histamines and these are the cause of those uncomfortable allergy symptoms… stuffy nose and itchy eyes. You’ll might want to hold off on the alcohol when your symptoms are acting up.

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9 Surprising Ways You Make Allergies Worse Continued…

5. Waiting too long to take your medication. The drugs you’ve been given to help your symptoms work best before you’re ever exposed to the allergen. Your best bet is to start taking your allergy medications a few weeks before the season starts, or before you’ll have to be around your own allergy triggers.

6. Wash water that’s not hot enough. If you find you sniffle a lot in bed, turn up the temperature of the water in the washing machine to the hottest setting you have and launder your bedding again. In South Korean research, washing cotton sheets at 140 degrees killed all the dust mites, but at a warm, 104 degree just 6.5% of the dust mites were killed. Hotter is better.

7. You’re allergic to a houseplant – over 75% of hay fever allergies come from at least one of the most common plants we keep indoors according to a Belgian project. The allergens in plant sap can diffuse into the air. The plants most likely to cause trouble are the ficus, yucca, ivy, palm, orchid and fern.

8. Skipping evening medications is not a good habit to get into. Taking your allergy medication at bedtime allows for the drug to be circulating in your bloodstream all night long and first thing in the morning. Allergy symptoms like sneezing, weepy eyes and runny nose actually are worst in the morning according to Richard J. Martin, MD, who is chair of the department of medicine at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Colorado. A smart suggestion is to choose the regular (instead of non drowsy) formula so you’ll fall off easily.

9. Water workouts in an indoor pool can cause lots of problems for your system thanks to all that chlorine. It disinfects the water but also is super hard on your skin, eyes and respiratory tract. A study in the journal Pediatrics reports that teens who spend more than 100 hours per week in a chlorinated pool have a 3 to 7 times greater risk of suffering from hay fever when compared to swimmers who do laps in chlorine free pools. A good strategy here is to wear a mask or goggles, try not to swim in a chlorinated pool every day, and swim outdoors instead of inside, where chlorine fumes can build.

To your good health,

cocoparisienne / Pixabay

The Cancer Risks Of Long Term Sitting

Here’s something that will get you up, on your feet and out of that chair. Every two hours a person spends sitting ups the risk for some very dangerous types of cancer by as much as 10% when compared to those people who sit very little according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The cancers affected by sitting include those of the colon, endometrial and lung.

Sitting for long time periods has been linked to other health issues to be sure… obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes. Even an earlier death.

The most recent work in this area was a meta-analysis using 43 studies that included almost 4 million subjects and involved 70,000 cases of cancer. All the research used had periodically asked participants on how much time they spent sitting watching TV at home, at their desk at work as well as total time spent seated. The team saw that each 2 hour increase in time spent sitting was linked to an increased risk of cancer – 10% higher risk for endometrial (uterine) cancer, 8% higher risk for colon cancer and a 6% higher risk for cancer of the lung.

If there is any good news to come from the analysis, it’s that cancers of the breast, rectum, ovary, prostate, stomach, esophagus, testicle, kidney and non-Hodgkin lymphoma were not tied to sitting.

Surprisingly, the findings on sitting and cancer risk held true even for those who exercise regularly. Regular workouts, it turns out, do not help you if you sit too long in a chair. It seems clear there’s something bad about sitting that’s not related to lack of exercise. One of the reasons may be because long term sitting causes blood sugar and levels of insulin to spike. That spike is related to both diabetes and colon cancer. Experts know that endometrial cancer is related to estrogen, a hormone that rises in response to obesity in women who have gone through menopause.

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There may be something else going on as well. If you keep body weight constant, there’s still a link between cancer and spending time in a chair. One reason may be that the lack of movement triggers an inflammatory response that includes a rise in biomarkers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). In trials, 14 days of bed rest in young subjects upped C-reactive protein and pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 in the participants. Animal studies have demonstrated the same thing.

These findings add to the mounting evidence that sitting for long periods… at your desk, in the car, on your own couch (or recliner) just isn’t a good thing for your body. You need to try to work light bouts of physical activity into your routine. Take regular breaks at work, forgo email and get up and walk over to talk face to face with a colleague and avoid eating lunch at your desk. At home try to cut down on the TV watching and screen time, getting up and moving with some light activity every so often is also a smart strategy to keep yourself healthy and perhaps cancer free.

To your good health,

ramicm / Pixabay

Tip To Look Good and Refresh

Sleep is no longer a luxury… more and more people (healthcare pros too) are recognizing the value of sleep. It helps you stay healthy, functioning at your best and not surprisingly, keeps your skin glowing and fresh. The term “beauty sleep” is no myth, your skin uses the time you sleep to heal itself from the damage of the day. As you snooze, your skin takes the chance to improve.

To keep your skin smooth and soft, be sure to practice a nighttime skin-cleansing regimen. Start with a mild cleanser to get rid of the dirt of the day. Next apply a good quality moisturizer. Finish with an eye cream that has glycerin and a petrolatum based balm for the lips.

Another nighttime ritual that’s great for skin is a warm bath. It’s relaxing and the warm, steamy air is good for your skin as well. An alcoholic drink might seem like it’s just the thing before bed, but it’s not a good idea as this ritual is more likely to show itself in large pores and dry skin the next morning. Drinking clear, zero calorie water instead helps your skin flush toxins, look better, fresher. Using a toner that has zinc sulfate or alum will help make your pores look smaller.

Here are six benefits to your skin of getting enough sleep.

1. You’ll have fewer breakouts as more sleep helps clear
. A lack of sleep can bring on stress, and this causes both blackheads and pimples to emerge, even in adults. In one research project, experts saw that college students had more breakouts when they were stressed, like during exam time, then when they were not stressed.

2. You outsmart eye puffiness that comes when fluid collects around your eyes as your head lies flat on a bed during sleep. Instead, prop your head so it’s above your heart when you sleep at night. An ice cold cloth applied to your eyes in the morning can also help the remaining puffiness
and leave you feeling awake.

Another tip on puffiness, night owls need to avoid salty snacks before bed as these can leave you with a swollen face. Foods high in salt cause you to hold onto fluid, and this brings on the puffiness we all hate.

3. Your
eyes will sparkle
. Dark circles often do run in families, but they don’t have to steal the focus from those beautiful eyes. Getting enough sleep helps this. You might also try to apply a light layer of eye cream as a primer, then dab on and blend concealer that’s one to two shades lighter than your natural skin tone.

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Tip To Look Good and Refresh Continued…

4. Retinoids (products with vitamin A) work best at night to smooth out any wrinkles. Using these products in the evening avoids the sensitivity, redness or marks on the skin that can come when wearing these products during the day. Also, when it comes to wrinkles, sleep face up to keep from getting lines and creases in the skin from your pillow. These can become permanent over time. If you can’t sleep this way, try satin sheets.

5. Your skin tone will be more even. Lack of sleep can make your skin look blotchy or pale as death. Sleep encourages healthy blood flow to the skin. If you wake and your skin isn’t as even as you’d like, apply foundation and set with translucent powder or one tinted green to balance out any redness.

6. You just look “better” with enough sleep. Researchers in Sweden asked a group of subjects to look at pictures of sleep-deprived people compared to those who’d had a full eight hours of sleep. The well-rested people appeared healthier, less tired and more attractive to the participants.

To your good health,

mcconnmama / Pixabay

Less Is More When Pitching Veggies to Kids

As a parent, you try many things to get your young children to taste, and perhaps even enjoy, healthy foods like vegetables. Marketers certainly try hard to sell us all on the health benefits, but perhaps they should tout those benefits to parents, and keep the kids in the dark. New research finds that the problem many parents have with getting kids to try veggies is the pitch we make… it’s too aggressive, even when we think we’re being subtle. In fact, anything we say is likely to do more harm than good. The best way to expose children to good food is to present it with no marketing message at all.

So forget telling a child that a food is healthy, or that it will make them strong, or smart. If you push a young child to eat healthy food with a message on the benefits the child eats less. Telling them it tastes good is fine, but even that wasn’t shown in the research to help the case very much. Instead you need to make the food available… parents mess it up by adding all the messages. In the end, the best approach is no message at all, make the food available, enjoy it yourself but don’t say anything about a goal the food might serve.

The not altogether surprising findings will appear in October 2014 in the Journal of Consumer Research, and help us understand a child’s decision making process when it comes to food. It also lets us into the powerful and counter intuitive ways overzealous marketing can do more harm than good, with kids and even adults. Kids will make negative inferences on the spot if the “good for you” benefits
are pushed too hard.

The idea for the study came from Michal Maimaran; a visiting assistant marketing professor from the Kellogg School of Management who wondered why her kids (7, 4 and 2) would not respond to her tactics to sell them healthy food. So to be scientific and test the theory, Maimaran and colleague Ayelet Fishbach a behavioral science professor at the University of Chicago, came up with a series of experiments that they ran with the help of a YMCA outside Chicago.

In one particularly intriguing experiment, subject children (aged 4-5) were read a story about a little girl named Tara who ate some Wheat Thins before going out to play. Not all the children heard the same story, in one version Tara ate Wheat Thins and “felt strong and healthy” and had “all the energy she needed to play outside”. Another group of children heard that “Tara thought the crackers were yummy and she was happy.”

A third group heard that Tara ate the Wheat Thins but without any description of if the crackers were tasty or healthy.

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Less Is More When Pitching Veggies to Kids Continued…

The subjects were then given time alone with a bowl of Wheat Thins. The amount of crackers eaten varied sharply based on which version of the story they heard. If they hard the Wheat Thins were healthy they ate 3 crackers. If they heard the crackers were yummy, they ate 7.2 crackers. The kids who got no Information on Wheat Thins, ate 9 crackers. The researchers saw the same thing with younger children and a change in snack to carrots.

Across all five experiments the researchers saw that even 3 to 5 year olds judge the tastiness of a food, and adjust how much they eat, based on message they get about the food. Children also inherently believe that foods can’t serve two purposes. Kids learn that food presented as healthy doesn’t always taste as good, and thus they eat less of it.

Why? One reason could be the “dilution effect” – the watering down of a sales message that is making a multitude of claims. Too many claims take the value from each one. Kids may also think that if food is healthy, it can’t taste good. It appears to be best simply to put food in front of them, don’t pitch. You will also need to exercise parental control over shopping and meal planning.

To your good health,

bohed / Pixabay

An Explanation For Hunger In Obesity

If you wonder why food plays such a big part in so many lives, think about this. Over the past hundred years, things have changed very drastically when it comes to food but the basic laws of nature – that energy can’t be created or destroyed – hasn’t changed. This supports the idea that calorie intake minus calories spent equals calories stored. And these days, with food abundant and readily available in most parts of the world, people overeat almost without realizing, taking in more calories than can possibly be burned off in a single day, leaving the extra to be stored in the body as fat. Unhealthy, uncomfortable fat.

Advising obese people to just “eat less” is not very realistic, and it really does not work for most people in the long term. If it worked our hyper focus on calorie balance would have succeeded and we’d have fewer numbers of obese and overweight, not more. All that attention, all that talk, isn’t helping the weight problem. Looks like it might be time for a new approach.

Consider this. The more calories you lock into your fat, the fewer are left to circulate in the bloodstream, and this number is not enough to satisfy the requirements of the body at rest. Obese people have calories, they’re just in the wrong place, resulting in the obese body needing to take in more calories to meet their needs. Obese people get hungrier even as they are undergoing the process of getting fatter.

A good example is edema, a condition where fluid leaks from blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. No matter how much water a patient might take in, those who have this condition, find the fluid continues to leak. These people can also experience unquenchable thirst simply because the fluid won’t stay in the blood, where it should be.

It’s the same thinking for fat cells in the body, they suck up too many of the calories from food so they can keep themselves growing, and thus leave less to serve the energy needs of the body. It’s hard not to eat too much under these circumstances. This very intriguing hypothesis is discussed in an article that appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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This view holds that factors in the environment trigger fat cells in our body to take in and store more glucose and other calorie rich substances. That leaves fewer calories to fuel metabolism, and even at rest, a body burns some calories.
The brain tells the body to take in more calories to meet its needs while also going into an energy saving mode. Eating more solves the problem, but causes all those extra pounds to creep on.

Cutting the calories reverses the weight gain for a bit, which makes us think we’re in control of our weight, but calorie restriction can also up your feelings of hunger and slow the metabolism even more. Just as with a fever, a cold bath will bring down the body temporarily, but will also set biological responses in motion – shivering and constriction of blood vessels to heat the body once again. Our current advice to “eat less” is very much like thinking of fever an issue of heat balance – technically not wrong but not all that helpful either.

This is why, researchers feel, that diets relying on consciously cutting calories don’t work all that well. Why telling people to just “eat less” is unfair. Only one in six overweight or obese people in a national survey say they have ever maintained a 10% weight loss for at least one year using such an approach. Even this small number might be wrong as people tend to overestimate their success when self reporting on a survey.

Clearly it’s time for something new.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

5 Key Strategies For Extreme Weight Loss

You’ve seen major weight loss, in the order of hundreds of pounds, on TV often enough. People can, and do, transform themselves every day (and not just on TV), breaking bad habits, getting fit, eating better and going from sedentary souls to fit and active adults… enjoying happier, healthier lives. Many of us, struggling to lose far less, wonder how those who drop this kind of weight, make this kind of life altering change, do it.

Learning to eat very differently, to be more active is certainly important; but these smart behaviors aren’t enough to get truly extreme results. For those you need to make truly foundation shaking changes to how you think as well. Here are five life-changing strategies to start you out on the road to losing big.

1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In other words, step out of your comfort zone as no transformation happens when anyone is inside his or her comfort zone. Being comfortable and doing the things you’ve always done (and enjoyed) it what’s gotten you to this uncomfortable and unhealthy place… so they haven’t been exactly a success. If you want to change things you need to get used to the feeling of being uncomfortable.

2. Change how you think. Just as important as eating right and exercising, is changing the way you think, what you tell yourself. Success in major weight loss comes to those with an optimistic (positive) attitude about making a new life, who expect success, and believe they can (and will) reach their goal. They focus on what they get to do in their new life, NOT what they can no longer do. They hold onto positive moments and take pleasure in the journey.

3. Figure out your deeper motivation. Peel back the layers, look at why you really want to lose the weight… try to understand who you are on the inside, to see the purpose in your own life. The trick is to then link your new lifestyle to the things you want most from life. Seeing how your new lifestyle will help you achieve your goals is what will get you to the gym or help you resist temptation when it appears. Understanding those motivations is what helps to make your transformation permanent.

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5 Key Strategies For Extreme Weight Loss Continued…

4. Be the hero in your own life. Only you can make changes for yourself. Deciding
to stop playing the victim is a key first step. Recognizing you have the power
in your own hands to write your very own story can be life-changing. It’s this
attitude that’s needed to achieve true transformation.

5. Pay it forward. Those who’ve been a success at transforming themselves appreciate what they’ve been given and how their lives have become so much better. They want to help others, who were in their very own shoes, to do the same. The benefits of helping out others cut both ways.

So you see that while eating right, getting active are Important, making changing is your attitude, how you think and what you believe about your own self, are also very vital to success with extreme weight loss. Remember only you have the power to make the changes – no one can do it for you.

To your good health,

geralt / Pixabay

Important Things To Know About Heart Attack

Almost 785,000 Americans will have a first heart attack sometime during 2013. That’s scary. One of the most important things to realize is that the symptoms of a heart attack might not always be what is shown on TV or in movies. What you do in those first vital moments can change the course of the rest of your life.

When a heart attack happens, time is critical and seconds count. Here’s what the experts want you to do.

Don’t wait to get medical attention, the longer your symptoms last, the greater damage is being done to the heart muscle. The start of symptoms is a signal from the body that blood flow to your heart has been blocked. At the hospital they can take steps to quickly restore the blood flow, preventing more damage.

Don’t drive yourself, or let someone drive you, to the hospital. Call 911 for an ambulance as this vehicle has equipment to perform an EKG on the way to the hospital and treat any heart rhythm abnormalities you might have. During a heart attack your heart can stop, and the ambulance has the equipment your car does not to restart the heart, as well as EMTs to perform CPR.

Chew one uncoated aspirin while waiting for the ambulance as this can help slow the formation of blood clots that can be the cause of a heart attack.

Once at the hospital there are many treatment options for heart attack. The most effective is angioplasty, a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure that opens the blocked artery; sometimes clot-destroying medications are given to remove the clot that is blocking the artery. In rare, rather serious cases, emergency coronary artery bypass is performed.

So what symptoms should you watch for? In real life, heart attacks are nothing like the grasping the chest in agony and falling to the ground scenes on TV. Heart attack symptoms are truly quite variable, many patients say they felt more of an ache or discomfort, a dull pain in the chest that might seem like indigestion, but there’s also nausea, shortness or breath or heartburn. Some patients have arm, neck, jaw or even back pain as well as upper stomach discomfort, dizziness, change in heart rhythm and sudden cold sweats.

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A woman experiences different symptoms when she’s having a heart attack, ones that are sometimes subtle and hard to identify. They may not even feel chest pain, though some women do of course. For a women, sudden weakness/fatigue, body aches or flu like symptoms are often what you see.

The amazing thing is how far we’ve come in treating heart attack; the medical technology available today is doing wonders for people. Most patients can go home, and back to their regular lives, within days of being treated. Still heart attacks are life-changing events and you need to look at your current lifestyle. Can you be eating better? How can you work regular activity into your life going forward? Can you cut your stress levels? And what about quitting smoking?

You’ll be taking medication regularly after your heart attack, and you’ll need to be consistent about follow up with your cardiologist and primary care doctor. The good news is that making these changes will truly increase your odds of never having another heart attack.

To your good health,

byrev / Pixabay

Good News To Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is an ever-present danger, which is why so many of us are looking for ways to prevent it. Consuming omega-3 fish oils may be one of those ways, so says the first of its kind clinical trial in humans to examine the influence of fish oils on skin immunity. The work was conducted by researchers out of the U.K.’s University of Manchester and financed by the Association for International Cancer Research and included 79 healthy subjects.

The volunteers took in a 4g dose of omega-3 (about one and a half portions of oily fish per day) and were then exposed to summer midday sun for either 8, 15 or 30 minutes using a special light machine. Other subjects took a placebo pill before being exposed to the sun machine.

There had been work in this area on mice, but this time the research included human subjects. To get to this point has taken years, and is exciting, because though the changes were small, the work provides evidence that omega-3 has potential to protect against dangerous skin cancer, and raises the question if a continuous low dose of omega-3s could bring down skin cancer risk over a lifetime.

The work appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and found that taking in regular doses of fish oils appears to improve immunity to sunlight. It directly decreases immunity suppression induced by sunlight (immunosuppression), which impacts the power of the body to control both infection and skin cancer. Immunosuppression was 50% lower in the subjects who took the omega-3 and were exposed to the two shorter (8 or 15 minutes) periods compared to those who didn’t take a supplement. There was little to no impact for the 30-minute sun exposure group.

What this means for skin cancer prevention is huge. Earlier work has always found that sunscreens are not applied correctly, and only used on vacation, where omega-3s could be a part of the regular daily eating plan. Not that omega-3s are a substitute for other protections against skin cancer mind you, but they may add to the arsenal.

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Good News To Prevent Skin Cancer Continued…

Fish oil has also been linked to benefits like protecting against heart disease, age related vision loss and even slowing down the growth of prostate cancer cells. They are also thought to play an important part in bringing down inflammation all through the body. The two most critical omega-3s, EPA and DHA are naturally a part of some types of fatty fish (anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sturgeon, lake trout, tuna) and are best gotten though food sources as opposed to supplements.

If you do decide to go the supplement route, talk with your doctor first so that you’re sure you’re taking the right amount for your unique needs. The only side effects reported with fish oil supplements are gas and indigestion, though a supplement with an enteric coating can be helpful to address these issues.

We know that skin cancer is one of the fastest growing forms of cancer, with the numbers only expected to rise. More work in the area of fish oils and skin cancer protection is expected from the team going forward.

To your good health,

geralt / Pixabay

Using Your Brain To Slow Aging

Everyone agrees that aging is not well understood, though there are lots of opinions out there, often stated as fact. There are many theories, some very intriguing, but few facts to back them. In California ads that promote brain training (or brain workouts) are touted as a way to reverse the effects of aging. Can there be something to this?

One approach to counter the affects of aging on the brain is advanced by Dr. Daniel Amen, a well-known California based psychiatrist who says that his brain scanning programme can spot a problem that would keep you from living longer, looking younger. He is the author of a book entitled Use Your Brain To Change Your Age, and believes that the brain starts deteriorating years before you see a symptom. The program includes blood tests, cognitive exams, exploration of family history and a brain scan called a Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) that shows how blood flows in the brain. Patients end up with a three dimensional image where areas of low blood flow are shown as holes on the brain surface. From this recommendations can be made for lifestyle changes to improve things, to have your feeling better, sleeping better.

As you might expect, there are experts who find little value to the SPECT scans. Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and radiology at Emory University in Georgia is one of those. While she admits Dr. Amen is an engaging speaker, the advice he gives is simple good common sense that resonates because it echoes our general sensibilities. As to the SPECT scans, there’s just no evidence that these types of procedures can be used to do general screenings to confirm health or highlight potential illness. They act as a prop, adding a level of science gloss to the process.

No matter how you feel about what Dr. Amen does, it’s hard to ignore the idea that the more you use the brain, the stronger, more adaptive and more resilient it will be, no matter what your age. A brain workout can be as simple and fun as doing a crossword puzzle or remembering bits of trivia, to the more practical keeping track of phone numbers or email addresses. The lingering question is; can such techniques help a mind stay young, or impact an age related memory condition like Alzheimer’s disease? Debate continues, with lots of promising theories but little data to back them.

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Using Your Brain To Slow Aging Continued…

Experts do agree that memory problems are not a normal part of aging, even at 70, so if you’re starting to forget, your brain is starting to struggle. Those who’ve had one of the SPECT scans say seeing your brain can prompt you to make those healthy lifestyle changes you’d been putting off. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, avoiding overindulging… all these will have you feeling better, and can only be beneficial for your brain as well.

Certainly there’s no shortage of opinions on aging and the brain; nor has this area been well studied. It’s important to understand there are wide variations in brain health among different people of the same age, and discoveries in the lab often don’t translate to the real world. What’s more, there are positives in the aging brain, improvements in creativity, having a greater capacity for empathy and being better able to find patterns and see the “big picture” are all benefits that only come with the years.

To your good health,

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