Big Bottoms – Not So Bad After All

If you’re bigger around the hips and butt than you’d like to be, there’s some good news for you.

It seems that fat that settles around your thighs and buttocks may be better for you than a spare tire around the middle according to experts from Oxford University. A new review of the data on body fat distribution actually suggests that fat in and around the backside might even offer some health benefit.

“It is the protective role of lower body, that is, gluteofemoral fat that is striking,” explains the team of British researchers in the January 12, 2009 online edition of the International Journal of Obesity. “The protective properties of the lower-body fat depot have been confirmed in many studies conducted in subjects with a wide range of age, BMI and co-morbidities.”

Of course the reason we have fat at all is so the body can store energy for use later on. Naturally this was more important when there wasn’t a fast food place or smoothie shop on every corner, when we weren’t sitting behind a desk, or on a couch most of the time, and when crops failed and food could be scarce.

The CDC uses the term obesogenic to describe an environment where increased food intake is promoted (notice U.S. portion sizes), unhealthy foods are everywhere and we are not physically active on a regular basis.

Healthy people who are carrying a little extra around the backside (usually women) also seem to have lower cholesterol, lower blood glucose levels and higher leptin (a hormone that regulates energy intake and expenditure) levels than those who put on the pounds around the middle.

Think of fat in the butt, hips and thighs as long-term energy storage for the body, which makes it a lot more sluggish in terms of metabolism than the fat around the tummy.

And while fat in the lower body (gluteofemoral is the medical term) isn’t as easy to put on as fat at the middle, it also doesn’t come off so easily either. The interesting tidbit for women is that fat in the buttocks does come off more readily when the demand for energy is really high, as it is when you breastfeed.

Fat in the caboose also seems to do some good for the body because it helps lower levels of immune system cells known as cytokines that promote inflammation – a key factor that’s been implicated in many health problems, heart disease in particular.

If you do have more of your fat at the middle as compared to fat in the lower body, it’s important for you to understand that you’re at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other problems that come with obesity.

Continues below…


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Big Bottoms – Not So Bad After All Continued…

Experts are now finding that the waist-to-hip ratio is even more predictive of heart disease than the BMI (body mass index) by itself.

To get an idea of your own waist-to-hip number, you can use a measuring tape to measure around your hips at the widest part of your butt, and then measure your waist at the narrowest part, usually just above your belly button. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement and you have the waist-to-hip ratio.

Generally a waist-to-hip ratio over 0.85 for women, or 1.0 for men will be considered risky. If this is you, talk to your doctor and take steps now to make things better.

And while the results of this review might have you feeling a bit better about a bigger backside, don’t expect any medical person to tell you that fat in and around the butt, hips and thighs is safe, though it does appear to be less harmful than fat at the waistline.

For now, your best bet, especially if you’re worried about your risk of heart disease, is to take steps to control your weight and lose any excess fat carried in any part of your body.


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Eat Yourself Healthy

Eating Your Way To Good Health

We’ve all heard the expression, “You are what you eat”… and many of us hope that just by upping our intake of broccoli or other green veggies will be enough to protect against devastating problems such as heart disease and cancer.

Recent research isn’t supporting these hopes, casting doubt on the idea of cure all foods. Some experts are now suggesting significant change needs to come to how we approach diet and disease.

This comes as a result of a major new study that found that while vegetarians do seem to be diagnosed with fewer cancers than meat eaters, they weren’t protected from bowel cancer.

This type of cancer had been thought to be particularly influenced by how much red and processed meat a person eats.

“But the suggestion of a reduced risk with increased fruit and vegetable intake once you take out all the other factors is much harder to prove. We are pretty much drawing a blank,” says Tom Sanders, professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College, London. “One of the myths is that fruit is bursting with minerals – it’s not. It’s essentially vitamin C and potassium – and most of us really have enough of these without five-a-day.”

Somewhere along the way, the idea of eating healthy, without regard for calories seems to have taken hold. And as we all want to get the most for our money, portion sizes have increased dramatically.

Eating huge portions of healthy foods actually brings you a whole lot more calories than you may have realized. We’ve come to think of healthy foods, like fruits and veggies or other low-fat options, as free calories, and don’t decrease our intake of other foods.

At the end of the day we’ve taken in more calories (eating healthy to be sure) and sabotaged our equally worthy weight control goals.

Perhaps public health efforts need to focus less on healthy foods as a cure all, and instead on controlling portion sizes, as well as making other healthy choices in our life that are good for our bodies.

Even eating the best, most healthy foods possible isn’t going to be enough if you’re smoking or engaging in other high-risk behaviors, being inactive, overweight or indulging in drugs and alcohol.

Continues below…


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What You Must Know About Continued…

So when it comes to nutrient powerhouses like broccoli, spinach and cabbage, eat them because you enjoy them, but not because you’re expecting some magical protective benefit.

The research continues to be murky, especially considering the levels of these veggies typically eaten by the general population. And while findings in the lab have not translated to the same thing happening in the real world, there still is hope among researchers that the active chemical in some healthy foods could be harnessed and optimized to be used to prevent cancer.

“I think the next ten years will be about further understanding the human genome and genetic variations – working out why people with similar lifestyles have such different vulnerabilities to disease,” explains Professor Ian Johnson of the Institute of Food Research. “Once we can do this we can – in principle at least – start to target groups, and provide personalized diet information – nutritional genomics, we call it – rather than the blanket advice we issue at the moment.”

The best advice on diet and health, besides giving up smoking and keeping your weight under control, comes from Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK, “The greatest benefit is seen among people who adopt a healthy lifestyle overall, rather than those who focus on one particular aspect.”


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Want A Less Painful Hangover – Avoid Darker Liquors

The miserable hangover that follows a night of fun isn’t just a part of holiday celebrations, but can happen any time of year.

If you’re trying to ease the discomfort to come, research to be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that drinking bourbon brings more hangover pain than drinking vodka.

The reason is likely the materials used in the fermenting process (grains and wood casks) that produce small amounts of toxic byproducts known as congeners.

Bourbon naturally has 37 times as many congeners as vodka.

The researchers monitored 95 healthy heavy drinkers between the age of 21 to 33, both men and women, who lived in the Boston area.

None of them had been treated for alcohol related problems, and none had any sleep disorders either. Over the course of two overnight study sessions, the subjects drank vodka (100 proof Absolut) or bourbon (101 proof Wild Turkey) on one night, a placebo drink of caffeine free soda with no alcohol) on the second night.

The team measured breath alcohol concentration levels until all the participants had reached a reading that reflected inebriation.

The next morning the subjects were asked to rate their hangover in terms of how severe it was – little or no impact to incapacitating. Neuropsychological tests were done to assess the speed, vigilance and concentration skills of the subjects during the hangover period. The sleep quality during the previous night was also assessed.

The researchers found that drinking to inebriation brought cognitive impairment the next morning. Higher congener levels appeared to increase the intensity of the hangover – bourbon drinkers suffered more than vodka drinkers.

“The most important thing for people to realize is that if you’re feeling hungover, you’re probably impaired in terms of performing tasks that require vigilance and making quick decisions, ” cautioned Rohsenow.

Beyond the intensity of the hangover, higher congener levels didn’t lead to worse performance on cognitive tasks, or have any impact on the quality of sleep the night before.

Though they didn’t specifically explore how red wine might affect a hangover, study author Damaris J. Rohsenow, associate director of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University believes this wine has more troublesome congeners than lighter varieties.

It would be safe to assume that red wine would make a hangover more painful, just as dark liquors do.

So if you do decide to indulge, and you want to avoid the hangover to follow, drinking in moderation is best. Experts suggest you choose your liquor with care – brandy is worst for hangovers, then in descending order red wine, rum, whisky, white wine, gin lastly vodka.

To avoid a hangover, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells us to…

- Drink slowly – one drink, or less, per hour

- Drink in moderation – that’s 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 4-ounce

glass of wine or a 1 1/2-ounce shot of hard liquor

- Drink on a full stomach

- Drink a glass of water between servings of alcohol

If you’ve already suffering from a hangover, rest is what you need – A lot of it.

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Want A Less Painful Hangover? Avoid Darker Liquors Continued…

Understand that alcohol is a drug, and when taken in excess, causes reactions within the body, filling it with toxins.

The natural reaction to this is for your body to try to metabolize the alcohol and get rid of the offending substances. It typically takes about 24 hours for this process. The simple passage of time is your best remedy. Here are some other things you might try to help yourself feel better…

- Ginger is a natural nausea treatment, so ginger ale is a good choice to sip; sports drinks are also good if you can tolerate them.

- Honey (natural source of fructose), lemon and hot water is a warming way to replace fluids.

- Try juices like orange if you can tolerate it, apple if you can’t.

- Plain toast, rice or clear soup are good starter foods once you can tolerate something to eat,

- Bananas replace potassium lost to alcohol and are easy on an unsettled stomach.

- An ice pack is super helpful for an aching head.

- Avoid medications with acetaminophen (like Tylenol) which can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol. Use another over the counter pain reliever instead.


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Sun, Smoke, Weight Add Years To Your Skin

When it comes to looking older your skin is the feature that most reliably tells your age. A study by experts at Case Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland using twin subjects finds that lifestyle choices, including smoking, being overweight, not using sunscreen, all take a toll on already sun damaged skin.

Twins were used because they allow researchers to exclude genetic factors (as twins have identical genes) and more accurately judge the effect of lifestyle and environment on the skin.

The work involved collecting data on 65 pairs of twins (fraternal and identical) who were part of the 2002 Twin Days Festival in Twinsburg Ohio. The subjects were asked about their skin type, smoking and drinking habits, their weight and if they had any history of skin cancer.

Skin damage was similar in both identical and fraternal twins, but factors outside of genetics are linked with more skin damage.

The study authors found that long-term sun exposure brings both physical and structural changes to your skin that cause damage. Sun damaged skin has a more coarsely wrinkled surface, extra pigment or spots, lost pigment or dilated blood vessels instead of the fine wrinkles and skin growths you’d normally see in aging skin not damaged by the sun.

In fact, as much as 40% of aging-related changes to skin come from either the environment or lifestyle choices according to the researchers.

Environmental factors included a history of skin cancer, being overweight and smoking.

Drinking was found to bring less skin damage. While added weight usually makes you look older, it was also found to hide damage to the skin because the weight fills out the face.

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Sun, Smoke, Weight Add Years To Your Skin Continued…

One surprise from the research was the skin cancer rate – higher among twins than in the general population.

“This study, with an 8 percent skin cancer rate in twins, seems high when the general population has an incidence of less than 0.5 percent. This in of itself would merit further examination to look at other [potential risk] factors, such as prenatal x-rays, prenatal sonograms and low birth weights,” points out Dr. Jeffrey Salomon, who wasn’t involved in the study but is an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at Yale University School of Medicine.

To assess damage to your skin, stand in front of a mirror and hold up either arm so that the unexposed part is next to your face. If the skin of your arm is softer and smoother than the skin on your face, you have damaged skin.

While you can’t change what’s happened so far, there are things you can do now… today, that might just help keep your skin looking younger and fresher.

- Avoid the sun – it’s your skin’s mortal enemy, so be sure to use daily UV protection (in a moisturizer or sunscreen) as well as avoiding being in the sun during the peak hours of 10:00 am – 2:00 pm or wearing protective clothing if you must be outside.

- Stop smoking – as this causes your skin to age early, robbing it of oxygen and nutrients, as well as causing the breakdown of your natural stores of collagen and elastin.

- Drink plenty of water – as this hydrates your skin from the inside out. Eight to ten glasses per day, which sounds like a lot, is good for your skin.

- Exercise – regular activity gives you skin plenty of oxygen so it stays healthy, as well as being a great way to keep your body fit and your weight under control.

- Exfoliate – to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Exfoliated skin is better able to absorb and benefit from the creams or moisturizers you’re using.

- Daily moisturizing – in the morning and night helps your skin hold on to its elasticity. You might try vitamin C creams for winkle control and fading of brown spots, products with alpha hydroxy acids to keep your skin younger looking.

The work appears in the December 2009 issue of the Archives of Dermatology.


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Real Life Benefit To Video Games

If you added a Wii, PlayStation or Xbox 360 to your home this year, you’re certainly not alone. According to Nielsen figures, 54% of U.S. households now own a video game console or a handheld system.

But before you berate yourself for giving in to your kids passion for video games, or worry when you hear a horrible crime blamed on a video game, new research will have you breathing a sigh of relief (and perhaps picking up a controller).

It seems that there are some rather important benefits that come from playing those action packed video games.

Regular players of video games learn to process information faster and more accurately when they’re playing in both virtual worlds and real situations according to a new study in the December 2009 issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science.

The researchers found that regular players get faster in the games they play often, but also in totally unrelated lab tests of their reaction times.

And since speed can be of vital importance in many everyday situations, this work was especially careful to look at the evidence on video games and reaction times.

The games used included popular titles God of War, Halo, Unreal Tournament, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. All these action themed games call for fast processing of sensory information and acting quickly. This forces the player to make decisions and respond at a much faster pace than what we might do in real life.

Continues below…


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This Doctor Dropped 10 Sizes – Discover Her Shocking Secret

There’s an overwhelming body of research that shows most diets aren’t effective in the long term because they work AGAINST the body…

In fact most people who diet end up putting ON more weight than when they started.

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Real Life Benefit To Video Games Continued…

The team, including Matthew Dye, Ph.D. of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reviewed existing literature on video games and found some things in the data that will surprise the skeptics.

- Players don’t lose accuracy as they pick up speed in the game, but instead they maintain accuracy and get faster too. The researchers think this is due to improvements in visual cognition that come after repeatedly playing the same game.

- Players show enhanced performance on mental rotation skills, visual and spatial memory and tasks calling for divided attention.

- Training on video games might help reduce the differences between boys and girls visual and special processing, and they might also help hold off some of the cognitive declines that come as part of getting older.

“Video gaming may therefore provide an efficient training regimen to induce a general speeding of perceptual reaction times without decreases in accuracy of performance,” the study authors suggest.

More and more, video games are shedding their troublesome reputation and the gaming industry has become a growing source of employment for many talented people.

Gaming systems like the Wii are now part of many rehabilitation programs, and those who play the games are enjoying not only increased skills, but the fun of socializing while playing.

Research continues to show that video games do have educational value, allowing kids to use the scientific method as they learn how to play the game, while others make geography, resource management, math, history, typing or spelling something kids want to do.

So relax, grab that controller, and play along. You just might pick up a few more skills than you thought – All while having a bit of fun, too!


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Fruits, Leafy Greens Also Good For Eyes

You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes… and they are, but according to some new work out of the University of Georgia, leafy greens and colored fruits are also incredibly helpful to our vision.

Researchers have found that foods containing pigments known to science as carotenoids help your visual performance, and are very likely to prevent age related eye diseases.

Experts have long suspected a link between these substances and improved eye function, and the latest work, appearing in the December 2009 Journal of Food Science, offers strong support for this relationship.

The team estimates about 600 carotenoids can be identified in nature, but only a fraction of these (20 have been found in human blood) are absorbed into the body.

Carotenoids are responsible for the red, yellow and orange color of fruits (apricots, mangoes) and veggies (squash, sweet potatoes), and also the rich, dark of those leafy vegetables.

Leafy green vegetables and colored fruits are loaded with two particular carotenoids -lutein and Zeaxanthin – both playing a key role in vision, as well as having a positive impact on the retina according to the team led by Billy R. Hammond, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience and experimental psychology at the University of Georgia.

The researchers write that their review on the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin is important because “it is clear that they could potentially improve vision through biological means.”

Interesting that lutein and zeaxanthin are also found naturally in the lens and retina of your eyes.

The current work involved the team reviewing multiple studies on the effects of these two carotenoids on vision. Lutein and zeakanthin (known to be in kale, spinach, turnip and collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts) were found to be helpful with protecting the eyes from glare, as well as enhancing contrast and cutting photostress recovery times.

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Fruits, Leafy Greens Also Good For Eyes Continued…

They might also help to improve visual range and offer protection against dangerous free radicals that can interact with and break down healthy cells. This pair of carotenoids may also be able to filter high energy blue light, perhaps protecting the underlying cells of our eyes from damage.

The key to protecting your eyes with these helpful compounds is to be sure to get enough – Look for natural sources and take care with preparation – eat foods raw, or lightly steamed, as this helps your body effectively absorb the carotenoids.

While there isn’t a recommended dietary intake for carotenoids, most experts agree that you should try to eat five or more servings of fruits and veggies every day. This intake will provide enough of the raw nutrients your body needs, from all natural sources, to help your vision and lots of other things as well.

If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes today and as you get older, upping the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet is an effective, all natural option and something you can do today to make a difference.

Not only might you lower your risk of cataracts or age related macular degeneration, both of which medicine can do nothing to prevent, but you’re also likely to enjoy many other benefits to your body.


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10 Ways To To Make Changes In 2010

A new year and the start of a new decade… it’s a natural time to make resolutions for the future.

If you want to change your eating habits, relationships with others, work situation or something else as the new year begins, experts have ten common sense suggestions that will help you set goals that are realistic, specific and measurable.

Here’s how you can boost your chances for success in achieving those resolutions.

1) Small goals in small steps – this is what motivates people toward making larger changes according to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, author of the new book The Power of Women and a professor of psychology at Yale University. Take diet for example, rather than making a stark, radical change, make changes to small things in your eating pattern… a salad for lunch… and do that for a week. Once you achieve this, go on to the next small, sustainable change.

2) Focus on the positive – rather than thinking of a habit in the negative, keep your attention on the positive things that come from making the change… saving money if you quit smoking, feeling and looking better for losing weight or feeling more upbeat and positive after making a change in attitude.

3) Look at the pros and cons – a written list of the benefits and costs of a behavior can be very helpful according to Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University. Really write them down and be clear about what you want to change… and why.

4) Get a buddy – knowing that someone else is with you… working toward similar goals or offering regular support for your efforts, helps to keep you motivated. Keeping track of each other’s progress can hold you accountable for what you’re doing, and give you someone to celebrate with as well.

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10 Ways To To Make Changes In 2010 Continued…

5) Be specific – figure out exactly what’s not working for you and then come up with a strategy for solving that individual problem and this will help you keep those goals specific. Attack them one at a time. You might want to use a diary that helps you keep track of what’s happening… then come up with one thing each week that you can do to make things better. Success with small actions takes pressure off and encourages you toward bigger goals.

6) Know yourself – take the time to think about who you are, what’s important to you, and how you want your life to be. Remember real changes happen because you want it… not because others in your life want it for you.

7) Look at deeper issues – sometimes we have problems that need to be addressed before changes can be made. Some of us fear failing so much that we sabotage ourselves unknowingly. Others are held back by lack of self-esteem. If you’ve come to recognize deeper issues that prevent you from moving forward, now’s the time to talk with a mental health professional.

8) Don’t be too aggressive – a long list of impressive resolutions can bring lots of anxiety with it. By limiting resolutions (or goals, if you like) to three, four or five per year you’ll give yourself a challenge you can meet.

9) Be flexible – sometimes it helps to broaden your vision, have a wider idea of what makes for success. For example, rather than replace a lost financial sector job with another of the same, broaden your goal for a new job in another field or profession.

10) Keep your eye on the prize – if you’re under stress, or being encouraged to keep up your bad habits by those around you, making changes to behaviors is especially difficult. Remind yourself every day why your making this change, and how great it will feel when you do.


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Ginkgo Does Not Work – So What Works

Though ginkgo biloba has a reputation for helping memory and brain function, the widely popular dietary supplement has yet to prove itself with hard and fast research.

Despite this, in 2007 Americans spent $107 million on ginkgo. When the herb first became popular in the 1980s and 1990s, everyone (researchers and the rest of us) was optimistic about the effects on the brain and thinking ability.

Sadly, the most recent research, appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, continues to suggest the dietary supplement does little in the way of helping the brain.

“Early studies seemed to show that there might be some cognitive improvement, but those were typically smaller studies and not as well designed,” explains Joshua Steinerman, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. who wasn’t part of the work on ginkgo. “More recent studies, including the GEM study, are large and well controlled, and have showed no consistent positive effect on slowing the rate of cognitive decline.”

Last year a study led by Steven T. DeKosky, MD, the vice president and dean of the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, showed that the popular herb offered no protection against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now a new study by the same team of researchers has found no evidence that ginkgo reduces the cognitive decline that comes with aging. Both are part of the larger Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study that’s funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Institute on Aging.

In this latest work, the biggest of its kind, DeKosky and his team followed over 3,000 subjects between the ages of 72 and 96 for an average of six years. Half the subjects took two, 120-milligram ginkgo capsules a day during the study, and the other half took placebo capsules.

Those who took the ginkgo showed no difference in attention, memory or other cognitive measures compared to those who took the placebo.

Still, if you’re taking the supplement, and having no trouble, should you stop? Not necessarily. The experts point out that this herb has been used for thousands of years to promote mental acuity, and though this research doesn’t support the claims, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to them.

Continues below…


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Ginkgo Does Not Work – So What Works Continued…

If you do decide to keep taking ginkgo, be sure the dose you take is safe, and that your doctor knows what you’re doing. Buy quality products that use natural ingredients and standardized manufacturing processes… so that you put only the best, purest ingredients into your body.

If you’re interested in other healthy habits to work in to your lifestyle that might help your brain, here are a few to try… alone or most effectively, in combination.

- Exercise your brain with things that simulate it… learning a language, playing brain-teasing games or doing puzzles are all good things to try. Computer or video games like Brain Age and Brain Challenge are another option.

- Exercise your body, according to convincing evidence that shows physical activity targets a part of the brain that’s related to memory and aging. Even a weekly workout is enough to help maintain cognitive function.

- Manage your stress as high levels may actually work to kill nerve cells in some of the key areas of the brain associated with memory. Stress can also accelerate decline in mental function and increase your risk for Alzheimer’s.

- Eat a diet that’s good for the heart – one rich in fish, fruits, veggies and healthy fat may play a role in brain health. There’s a 2009 study in the Archives of Neurology that found those who stuck to a Mediterranean Diet had a 28% lower risk of mild cognitive decline than those who didn’t eat this way.

- Have friends… or make them. A satisfying social life is also thought to hold off, though not reverse, cognitive decline.

Studies on ginkgo will continue as researchers hope to develop a drug to prevent, or cure, cognitive decline. In the meantime, a healthy lifestyle that includes some of the suggestions above is your best bet for a natural way to keep your brain sharp and healthy as you get older.


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Winter Exercise Strategies That Work

When it’s cold and icy outside, it’s hard to motivate yourself to go out for a walk or a run, never mind clearing off the car to drive to a health club.

What’s more, time off from regular workouts because of the winter holidays makes getting back into the swing of daily exercise a lot tougher.

Add in those motivation sapping winter blues and you can see why even regular exercisers might find it tough to workout during the long winter months.

But the reward, if you make the effort, won’t just be to your body when bathing suit season comes along, but also to your overall health and mood according to exercise experts out of Saint Louis University.

If you’re struggling to exercise… the experts suggest you think outside the same old workout… get creative. Consider swimming or water aerobics at an indoor pool, or attend a Pilates, yoga or other workout class you’ve been curious to try.

Walk the mall or join a walking group that forces you to be accountable to someone else besides yourself. You might also look at your libraries selection of workout videos you can check out for free.

Winter sports also offer lots of fun ways to exercise. Ice skating and skiing are both winter activities that burn lots of calories, and allow you to enjoy the fresh air and cold sunshine as well.

Winter chores like shoveling the drive or walkway are workouts that get you moving and get a bit of work done to boot. Even a snowball fight or an afternoon sledding with the kids can be a fun, natural and effective way to get your heart pumping and your body moving.

By making some adjustments to your exercise routine during the winter months you can still get those workouts in according to Tony Breitbach, Ph.D, director of athletic training education at Saint Louis University. “A change in weather should bring a change to your mindset,” he advises. “As temperatures get colder … you need to have a winter sports strategy.”

Just what is that? Start by looking at what you wear.

Extreme cold, wind and snow make it vital to dress properly – wearing layers you can take off as you need to. The layer closest to your skin should be of a breathable wicking fabric rather than sweat absorbing cotton.

To this add a layer of fleece or cotton for warmth, and then a windbreaker or another outer layer that blocks wind and water.

Don’t forget to protect your face, fingers and toes – as these extremities are the most likely to get frostbitten while you’re out in the cold. If you start to have pain or tingling in your ears, toes or fingers this is a signal that you need to get inside and warm up.

Continues below…


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Winter Exercise Strategies That Work Continued…

And just as mom always told you… don’t forget the hat.

Even though it’s cold and raw outside, you’ll still want to bring along that water bottle, as staying hydrated during winter workouts is just as important as it is during the summer.

While you might not feel as thirsty, you’ll still need to take in liquid as you exercise. If your outdoor workout occurs in the early winter darkness, be sure to wear light colors or reflective clothing so that drivers can spot you easily.

Probably most important of all to winter workouts are the warm ups you do before your outdoor exercising begins. Cold weather makes muscles tight and more prone to injury, so you’ll want to pay special attention to your warm up.

Before you head out, do some stretching or other exercises to loosen up those muscles… then when you get out, start with a brisk walk before breaking into a jog.

Once you’ve finished the workout don’t stop and peel off clothing when you get back inside – instead let your body adjust gradually to the warmth so that it doesn’t rapidly lose its heat.

By keeping up an exercise routine, indoors or out, during the winter months to come you’ll not only keep your weight under control, but you’ll be improving your health, your strength and stamina… not to mention your mood… just in time for spring!


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Resist Temptation: Exaggerate The Threat

Resisting temptation isn’t easy for anyone… especially when you’ve gotten into the habit of indulging yourself, as many of us have.

But a new study by researchers out of the University of Texas at Austin looked for ways to help us to resist temptation and suggests the key to doing so is to exaggerate the threat.

So if you’re on a diet, focus on the threat of that cookie or piece of delicious chocolate to your weight loss goals. Exaggerating the negative may in fact help you resist just about any temptation.

For this study, researchers focused on two self-regulatory areas – dieting and academic goals.

“Four experiments show that when consumers encounter temptations that conflict with their long-term goals, one self-control mechanism is to exaggerate the negativity of the temptation as a way to resist, a process we call counteractive construal,” the study authors point out.

For one of the experiments, female participants were asked to estimate the calorie count of a cookie, half being offered the cookie as a complimentary gift for their participation, the other half were not offered any reward.

Those with a strong dieting goal saw the delectable treat as having more calories than it actually did… and being more threatening to their long term weight loss goals.

Another test found that environmental factors, in this case posters of fit models (vs. those with nature scenes) helped women stay focused on their diet goals. They too were more likely to exaggerate the calories in a tempting drink that they planned to enjoy later, and drank less when offered the drink.

When self-control conflicts arise, another of the experiments looked at the so-called counteractive construal to see if it would be helpful. This experiment involved 93 college students, finding that those with higher grade point averages were more likely to overestimate the length of time an upcoming party would last (taking time away from studying), and were less likely plan on attending the event when reminded of their academic goals.

Continues below…


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Resist Temptation: Exaggerate The Threat Continued…

So, tricking yourself into seeing that tasty treat (or another indulgence) as a bigger threat to your weight loss goals than it actually is could be a smart strategy to help you resist temptation. Or at the very least, limit how much you indulge.

Besides exaggerating the down side of what tempts you… here are a few more suggestions to help you resist temptation.

- Remember the Law of Attraction (also known as The Secret) where what you think about comes to be. Shift your focus from what you’re trying to resist, to what you want to do.

- Focus on good behaviors like the taste of fresh fruits and veggies, or the sense of accomplishment you’ll have after that workout.

- Reward yourself with healthy, fun treats… going to the beach or watching a favorite program… to celebrate your success.

- Plan ahead to resist temptation, especially in situations where you know you’ll be especially tempted. Give yourself something else to do (or eat) instead of indulging in something less healthy.

- Don’t beat yourself up for not succeeding all the time. Be accepting and compassionate, and keep at it.

These findings are set to appear in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.


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