Prevent Cancer With a Brisk Walk

More important news on being active to prevent cancer. Experts out of the World Cancer Research Fund, WCRF, suggest that almost 10,000 cases of breast and bowel cancer a year could be prevented if we all did some more regular activity each day, like a brisk walk. Any activity is okay; the key is to get your heart to beat faster which makes you breathe more deeply. By being more active you keep extra pounds from taking hold, keeping obesity, a well-known risk factor for cancers, at bay.

Experts know that both breast cancer and bowel cancer are less common in those who do regular moderate exercise.

According to the report, just by being more active some 5,500 women wouldn’t have breast cancer, and an estimated 4,600 fewer cases of bowel cancer would occur. The reason is still unclear, but it may be that activity regulates hormone levels or because it speeds up bodily processes, removing cancer causing agents.

In the latest WCRF report, the emphasis is on the total amount of time you spend being active. You don’t have to set a specific amount of time aside each day… you can also do well with shorter bouts of activity all through the day, as long as these mini workouts total a respectable amount – 30 to 45 minutes a day.

Deputy Head of Science for the research fund Dr. Rachel Thompson believes that by making small changes to your daily routine you can achieve important health gains. Even modest increases in activity could be enough to help keep you cancer free.

Moderate intensity exercise is considered any activity that has you feeling slightly out of breath, but not to a point where it’s unbearable. Beyond brisk walking, you might try cycling or swimming at a leisurely pace. Dancing, gardening and vacuuming, along with other heavy-duty housework, also fit the bill. Carrying heavy parcels is another way to get that activity in.

Here are recommendations from the WCRF on what you can be doing to protect your body from cancer.

- Limit your consumption of energy dense foods, red meats, processed meats and avoid sugar-laden drinks.

- Eat more veggies, fruits, whole grains and beans.

- Limit consumption of salty foods.

- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer.

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Prevent Two Common Cancers With Moderate Daily Exercise… Continued…

- Limit your alcohol intake to 2 drinks a day for men, 1 drink a day for women.

- Be active for at least 30 minutes a day.

- Be as lean as you can, but not underweight.

- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.

Best of all, the new report isn’t urging everyone to pay up and join a gym. In fact, WCRF has launched a Walking Together program to raise awareness of the role that moderately intense activity has for cancer prevention.

Organize a brisk walk with your own family and friends, encouraging everyone to take up the kinds of habits that lead to better health. If you look around you, you’re likely to find there are plenty of lovely spaces to enjoy a stroll. It’s free… it’s completely natural… and it could help you prevent cancer, one of the most dangerous disease of our time.

A Healthy Breakfast is The Fastest Way to Lose Weight

Skipping breakfast is part of many morning routines – often with the thought of cutting calories. The all too common impression is mistaken – there’s actually plenty of evidence that eating a healthy breakfast, every day, is the fastest way to lose weight and keep it off. Those who skip that oh-so-essential morning meal end up being starved by mid morning and more vulnerable to snacking that ends up having them take in more calories for the day.

Eating breakfast daily is a healthy habit for “successful losers” who are listed with the National Weight Control Registry. These people have kept 30 pounds (or more) off for at least a year, some for as long as six years.

Most of these people (78%) reported making the time for breakfast every morning, and almost 90% said they ate breakfast at least five days of the week. This suggests that starting the day with a meal is an important strategy for losing weight, and keeping it off according to James O. Hill, PhD., the Registry’s cofounder.

Eating early in the day keeps us from “starvation eating” later on. What’s more, it also jump starts your metabolism according to Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH nutrition manager for the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. When you skip breakfast, you’re really undertaking a 15 to 20 hour fast, which causes the body not to produce the enzymes needed to metabolize fat to lose weight. Among those she works with professionally, breakfast eaters are usually people who have lost a lot of weight.

What’s more, a pair of studies appearing in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association support this idea. Although the work was funded by cereal companies, dietitians say studies like this drive home the message that breakfast is important to weight loss.

Breakfast is where fruits, veggies and whole grains can be a part of the meal. High fiber foods fill you up, and they bring less fat into the body according to Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., the Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Pennsylvania Sate University.

Foods like oatmeal, strawberries, walnuts and low fat yogurt are high fiber, low energy density choices that let you eat more and take in fewer calories.

Here are a few more good-for-you breakfast ideas…

- 1 cup of oatmeal, ½ cup low-fat milk, 1 cup sliced strawberries, 1 tablespoon walnuts fills you up and brings only 307 calories.

- Two multi-grain waffles, with 1 cup blueberries, 3 tablespoons light syrup, 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt has about 450 calories in all. That’s almost equal to the standard bagel-and-cream-cheese breakfast – except that it’s much more food in terms of volume and is much lower in fat.

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The #1 Most Effective Weight Loss Tip… Continued…

- Peanut butter and banana, eggs, low fat yogurt/milk, frozen blueberries or peaches and canned (in their own juices) are other good-for-you choices. If you have time, make a small tortilla with a few tablespoons of peanut butter and chopped strawberries that you can roll and serve or take along.

- Breakfast smoothies, berries, ice and milk/yogurt are a tasty, healthy option. They go anywhere, fill you up with good stuff and get your day off to a nutritious start. Use granola (read labels carefully) in the low fat version as a condiment, not the main dish.

- Smaller bagels (hockey puck size) with almond or cashew butter, or if you must, low fat cream cheese. Jam or sliced strawberries are delicious toppings.

Even if you can’t choose healthy breakfast options, getting something to eat at the start of the day is better than eating nothing at all when looking for the fastest way to lose weight. If you find yourself tempted by the fast food breakfast sandwiches, choose whole grain English muffins, a cooked egg, low fat cheese on top, with the ham or Canadian bacon optional.

7 Effective Sleeping Tips To Get The Best Sleep Ever

Everyone’s talking about sleep… and how important it is to our health. Not getting enough sleep ups your risks of depression, diabetes, heart disease, even weight gain as well as impacting your home and work life… leaving you dragging and exhausted all the time.  If you’ve done all the right things to help yourself… cutting out late night caffeine, creating a comfortable sleep space and addressing the other things that encourage healthy sleep… and still you lie awake, there are seven effective sleeping tips you can try.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, though most of us only get 6 hours and 40 minutes. It’s our hectic schedules… long workdays… stress filled lives that keep us from getting the sleep we need. But there may be other things sabotaging your sleep according to Kristen L. Knutson, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine.

Here are other suggestions she has for getting the restful sleep you need.

1. Watch your drinks in the afternoon, especially around 4:00. Anything that has caffeine such as teas, flavored waters, orange sodas and energy drinks are all sleep stealing culprits. Stop caffeinated drinks by 2:00 so that you give any caffeine you’ve taken in time to be processed by your body.

2. Choose superfoods, a light, whole wheat pasta with fresh veggies, a little diced chicken breast, tomato sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan for dinner is a sleep inducing choice. This meal has a combo of protein and tryptophan, an amino acid that changes to sleep promoting serotonin once in the body. If you’re hungry before bed, try a small serving of cottage cheese with banana, milk and graham crackers or yogurt with cereal.

3. Sip wine earlier, at dinnertime around 6:00 pm, rather than later on at night. Drinking late may have you falling off to sleep faster, but will make the second half of your sleep cycle restless – cutting deep sleep and increasing the ease you’re roused from sleep. Not to mention the sluggish, headachy feeling you’ll have when you wake.

4. Take an early bath, a warm bath before bed is known to raise your body temperature and make it hard for you to drift off, but a bath earlier – when you get home from work – is not going to impact your sleep and can still give you those restful, serene moments.

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

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Seven Sleeping Tips To Get The Best Sleep Ever… Continued…

5. Stretch before sleep, you don’t want to do an intense workout within 6 hours of going to bed, but a bit of light yoga before turning in can really help. The restful Reclined butterfly pose from Tanya Boulton of Pure Yoga East in New York is a good one to try.

6. Set the mood, even before you get into bed, turn the lights down so that the dimness is a natural signal to the biological clock that it’s time to wind down. Use lower watt bulbs in your bedroom or install a dimmer to make the lighting just right. If you like to read in bed, do so using the lowest watt light you can.

7. Ban all handhelds, do not give in to the temptation to use your handheld devices in bed, as this tends to wind you up, making it harder to fall off to sleep. Unplug at least an hour before bedtime and keep everything out of hearing range. Use a real alarm clock instead of the one in your cell phone.

By paying attention to these seven sleeping tips, you might just find you are finally getting the rest your body needs to stay healthy.

Obesity Gene May Increase Dementia Risk

Some fascinating findings from a recent study on dementia. A variant of an obesity gene, FTO, appears to raise the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease and increase dementia risk according to a Swedish study presented at the July 2010 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Earlier work has shown that the FTO gene is involved with things like body mass index (BMI), leptin (a hormone linked to appetite and metabolism) levels, the risk of diabetes, all vascular risk factors that are known to be linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Previous studies have shown that the FTO gene seems to be more involved with the type of calories you consume rather than how the body manages those calories. Experts are quick to point out that food choices and other factors can counter a genetic disposition.

It’s important to understand that while you might have a gene that puts you at risk, this does not mean you’re destined to get a disease. There may be other genes involved. What’s more, living a healthy lifestyle and reducing stress may be more important than science has discovered.

The Swedish work included over 1,000 Swedish adults over 75 who were followed for nine years. Genetic testing was completed on all participants at the start of the study.

Those who carried an AA gene variant in the FTO gene had a 58% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a 48% increased risk for dementia compared to those who didn’t have the genetic variant.

The researchers believe the risk could be 100% higher for someone who had the FTO-AA variant and a mutation known as APOE4. This is the highest risk variation of the gene APOE experts have linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

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Known Obesity Gene Linked To Dementia Risk… Continued…

Dr. Caroline Graff of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet believes that the intriguing aspect of her team’s findings is that the increased risk of dementia was not tied to other traits (obesity and diabetes, for example) experts had linked to FTO in the past. The findings also fit with the understood connections between heart and brain health according to Maria Carrillo, senior director of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause for dementia in the Untied States and most countries in the world. It’s a slowly progressing disease of the brain that brings memory impairment and disturbances in reasoning, planning, language and perception. Experts know what happens, but they have yet to find any single reason why these cells fail. This condition is not a normal part of the aging process… it’s not inevitable as you get older.

Further work will need to be done to confirm these results.

In the meantime, you need to understand that while there are some dementia risk factors you can’t control – increasing age, family history and your genetic makeup, there are others that you can do something about. Eating right, getting regular exercise and managing your stress level are all important. Keeping your heart healthy, not using tobacco and alcohol and avoiding head injury are other important ways to keep yourself healthy in both body and mind.

Are You Unwittingly Eating These Bad For You Foods?

You’ve heard a lot about bad for you foods to avoid when you’re out, but what about the ones right inside your own kitchen? These ten foods, according to Mayo Clinic nutritionist Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D., are ones that you’ll want to steer clear of at home to keep your healthy eating plan on track.

1) Sugary drinks – including soda, sweetened tea and fruit punch or other flavored drinks. Each 12-ounce can of soda has almost 7 teaspoons of sugar, about 140 calories. Healthier options are water and diet soda or drinks without added sugar.

2) Processed meats - the ones you’d expect like sausages, hot dogs and bacon are high in fat and sodium, even when the label says otherwise. Your healthier options are chicken or fish, or lean cuts of cooked beef, and remember to watch your portion sizes.

3) White bread – a favorite of childhood, and a mainstay of many diets, is made from refined white flour and has very little in the way of nutrients and fiber. You ought to limit your intake, or substitute whole grain varieties that have the term “whole” on the label. Don’t be fooled by color.

4) Whole milk - another staple of our earliest years, this option is loaded with fat and calories kids need, adults don’t. Look for “low fat” varieties instead, and mix with whole or skim/low fat to get your taste buds used to the change.

5) Canned/Instant soup – expensive and loaded with salt (even the low sodium varieties) these soups are a definite no-no for healthy eating. Your best bet is to make your own soup, or choose brands that are considered healthier options.

6) Junk food - all our good-tasting favorites… things like chips, crackers, cupcakes, even if labeled “low fat” or “trans fat free” are still empty calories and loaded with sodium and other chemicals. You’ll want to limit your intake to keep a healthy diet going, and substitute fruits or veggies instead. Even if you can’t or don’t want to eliminate them totally, be aware of your junk food portion sizes, and try to keep these in control.

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Ten Bad For You Foods To Ban From Your Kitchen… Continued…

7) Stick spreads - today the grocery cases hold more choices than ever, but it’s important to understand that butter or margarine in stick form are full of saturated fats and trans fats. Look for trans fat free tub spreads instead, and be sure to limit how much you use.

8) White rice – requires added steps in processing, which removes nutrients that must then be added back in synthetic ways (fortified white rice). Replacing this form with brown rice, whole wheat or barley varieties has been shown to bring drown the risk of type 2 diabetes.

9) Yogurt, unless plain - avoid the brands that are filled with fat and sugar, It’s better to choose plain, low fat yogurt and add your own fresh fruit instead.

10) Processed cheese - anything labeled “cheese food”, “cheese spread” or “cheese product” is short for lots of fat and salt, and in some cases, no cheese at all. Instead choose the real thing and keep your portion sizes in line.

It’s never too late to start eating healthy, and to get your kitchen in shape to support your efforts by getting rid of all the bad for you foods. Remember, what you put into your body is under your control, and can really impact the quality of your life.

Competitive People Have More Heart Risk Factors

We often worry about heart risk factors like stress hurting our hearts, but experts suggest that it’s more about how your personality interacts with stress that has the most impact on your health.

Hostile types… those who are aggressive, manipulative or competitive people, bent on success may be paying a high price in terms of their heart health according to a new study appearing online in the journal Hypertension.

These personality types showed a thickening in the walls of their neck arteries that was linked to a 40% higher risk of having the artery narrow, boosting their risk of cardiovascular disease or heart attack.

For the work, the team, led by Angelina Sutin, a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, gathered information using a large, community based sample, more than 5,600 people in four villages in Sardinia, Italy. Those who had high scores for antagonistic traits were found to have more thickening of the carotid arteries of the neck when compared to more easygoing types. Thickness of carotid artery walls is a risk for both stroke and heart attack.

After three years, those who scored higher on antagonism (low on agreeableness), especially if they were manipulative and had a hair trigger temper, continued to have their artery walls thicken. These personality traits were also predictive of greater arterial wall thickening the researchers found.

Those who scored in the lowest 10% of agreeableness and had the higher levels of antagonism had an almost 40% heightened risk for thicker artery walls.

In general, men had more thickening of artery walls than women, but among women who were antagonistic the risk caught up with that of men. Women who were more agreeable had thinner artery walls than did the more agreeable men, but antagonism had a much stronger association with thickened arteries in women.

Also of interest, while typically thickening of the artery walls is a sign of age, young people with antagonistic traits already had thickening along the artery wall. This finding held up even after lifestyle factors like smoking were accounted for.

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How Your Personality Affects Heart Health… Continued…

The findings are consistent with research that’s been done in more urban areas. According to Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University the active, toxic ingredient in the Type A personality profile is hostility, and angry people do tend to be less healthy. The field of psycho-immunology looks at the many pathways where our emotional state influences hormones and neurotransmitter levels, and in turn changes the functioning the immune and nervous systems.

Chronic anger appears to have as strong an effect on heart disease risk as other known risk factors (high blood pressure, for example). And while everyone gets angry once in a while, if you’re too easily angered, or if your anger is prolonged so that it impacts your concentration, your mood, your relationships, your self esteem, your work and social life, then something must be done.

Understanding is the first step toward changing a behavior, especially if people understand the heart risk factors – a very vital part of the body.

Chocolate Health Benefits Help Prevent Heart Attack

Finally… a good reason to come to the dark side… dark chocolate that is. All the chocolate health benefits.

Eat the right kind of chocolate, in moderation of course, and you just might find you’re doing your heart a huge favor, and prevent heart attacks and failure according to intriguing new research.

While earlier short term studies have found chocolate to be beneficial to blood pressure, this is the first to show long term outcomes that are related specifically to heart failure which can be the result of untreated high blood pressure over time.

About 1% of Americans over the age of 65 experience heart failure. Contrary to the name, heart failure does not mean your heart has stopped or won’t work anymore. It simply means your heart isn’t able to pump blood the way it used to… the way it should. As the U.S. population ages, rates of heart failure are expected to rise as well.

The most recent research looked at the effect of eating chocolate on heart disease. A team led by Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH of Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center examined information from a nine-year study of 31,823 women participating in a research project known as the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The subjects, all between the ages of 48 and 83, reported their chocolate eating tendencies and the team combined the results with data from Swedish hospitalization and death registries between the years 1998 and 2006.

Women who ate one to two servings of high quality chocolate (30% cocoa solids) per week had a 32% lower risk of developing heart failure. Women who had one to three servings per month had a 28% reduced risk. Interestingly, those who at least one serving daily didn’t appear to benefit from a protective effect, the reason may be due to the added calories that come from eating the chocolate in place of more nutritious foods.

You must remember that the difference in the quality of the chocolate is likely quite important. In the U.S., chocolate that has 15% cocoa solids can be sold as dark chocolate. In Sweden, even milk chocolate has more cocoa (30% cocoa solids) than dark chocolate sold in the U.S.

It’s the higher cocoa content that’s been associated with all the health benefits, and in fact the milk seems to keep the good-for-you nutrients from being absorbed by the body.

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Cutting Risk Of Heart Failure… Continued…

What’s more, the serving size the Swedish subjects enjoyed ranged from 19 grams among those over 62 years old, to 30 grams for those 61 years old and younger. In the U.S., the standard portion size is 20 grams.

Because chocolate is a rather calorie dense food, eating lots over the long term is certainly going to increase the chances you’ll gain weight. We chocolate lovers know this all too well. Which is why the experts caution this is not an “eat all you want” message. If you must indulge, dark chocolate, in small, limited amounts, appears to be a rather nice tasting, good for you option when trying to prevent heart attack or failure from occuring.

Chocolate health benefits outweight any negatives as long as other bad behaviors (weight gain or increased intake of lots of empty calories) don’t take over.

7 Causes of Fatigue and Excessive Tiredness

Cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, Director of the NYU Medical Center Women’s Heart Program says that the single biggest complaint she hears from patients is fatigue. For some the trouble is simply not making sleep a priority… burning the candle at both ends for too long. Your doctor will tell you that continually getting 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night is going to catch up with you… at any age.

If you’re getting the recommended, research supported 7 to 9 hours a night fairly regularly, and you’re still tired, it’s time to see your doctor to find out the causes of fatigue. While it could be the first sign of a more serious illness, most often the excessive tiredness is a more straightforward medical issue that has an easy fix.

Here are seven sometimes overlooked causes of fatigue for you to consider and discuss with your doctor.

1) Anemia. A woman in her reproductive years, especially if you have heavy periods, have recently given birth or have uterine polyps or fibroid tumors can lose enough blood to bring on anemia. This is one of the leading causes of fatigue in women. Your doctor will order a blood test and if anemia is the cause of your fatigue, you’ll be given iron supplements and urged to add natural food sources like spinach, broccoli and red meat to your diet. With treatment, your fatigue should lift in 30 days, or less.

2) Underactive thyroid. If you generally feel sluggish, run down or even a bit depressed, a slow thyroid could be the cause. Known as hypothyroidism, Goldberg believes this condition is one of the major health problems of women in the U.S., and may be much more widespread than anyone has realized.

According to the American Thyroid Foundation, by 60 years old, about 17% of women will have a thyroid disorder and not know it. To check, ask for blood tests known as T3 and T4 used to detect thyroid hormones, if they’re low, synthetic hormones can be prescribed to bring you back up to speed. You’ll start feeling better pretty quickly.

3) Undiagnosed urinary tract infection (UTI). In some instances, according to Goldberg, fatigue can be the only clue of a UTI a woman gets. You might have no other symptoms, or symptoms that are mild enough to go unnoticed.

UTIs are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract that can come from improper wiping (back to front) or sexual intercourse. A urine test will tell and the treatment is simple, involving an oral antibiotic medication. Your fatigue should lift within the week… perhaps sooner. If the symptoms return after being on medication, get tested again – sometimes UTIs can be chronic.

4) Caffeine Overload. For some women, the caffeine that revs most people up does the opposite for them. In an article in US Pharmacist, author W. Stephen Pray, Ph.D., RPh. agrees that caffeine is a stimulant, but if you use too much, the opposite can be true – abuse brings fatigue. If you try to solve the problem with yet more caffeine, your fatigue will actually get worse. Your best bet is to eliminate as much caffeine from your diet as you can. Look beyond coffee to chocolate, tea, soda and even some medications.

5) Food intolerances. Hidden food intolerances, even mild ones, can leave you feeling tired. Eat the troublesome food long enough and you could find yourself feeling continually exhausted. Fatigue is sometimes an early warning sign that food intolerance has developed. To find out, Rudy Rivera, MD suggests you start with an elimination diet, cutting out any food that has you feeling sleepy within 10 to 30 minutes of eating it.

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7 Causes For Feeling Fatigued… Continued…

6) Sleep apnea. Some people don’t realize they’re not getting sufficient sleep, and this is particularly true of sleep apnea, a disorder that causes you to stop breathing for a moment, usually many times during the night.

Each time you stop breathing you wake long enough to disrupt the natural sleep cycle. The only clue many patients have is that they experience constant fatigue, no matter how many hours of sleep a night they get.

Women who are overweight or obese are often diagnosed with the condition. Snoring is often another sign; though the definitive diagnosis comes from a visit to a sleep lab, or a physician who specializes in sleep disorders.

If you do have sleep apnea, your doctor will suggest lifestyle changes (stop smoking, lose weight) to help. Left untreated this condition can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.

7) Undiagnosed heart disease. If you’re totally exhausted after doing things that used to be easy… like vacuuming, yard work, even your commute each day, then it’s time to talk to your doctor.

Fatigue is usually not the first sign of heart disease and is often the result of something much less serious. However it is an under diagnosed problem in women, even though heart disease is the leading cause of death for females. Medication or treatment can usually correct the problem and restore your energy level.

Our world is a busy one to be sure, but that does not doom us all to excessive tiredness. To always being tired, feeling awful. Whatever are the causes of fatigue in your life… keeping you feeling exhausted and dragging can be treated… all you need do is get the process started.

Preventing Breast Cancer With Mediterranean Diet Foods

In the United States, a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer goes up from about 0.5% (1 in 233) during her 30s, to about 4% (1 in 27) by the time she reaches her 60s. The risk factors we know about for breast cancer include increasing age, or having a first-degree (mother, sister) relative with the disease. Research has also tied being obese, having a sedentary lifestyle, use of hormone replacement therapy and high alcohol intake to an increased risk.

So how do we get the risk numbers to move in the right direction?

One answer comes from a new study that suggests postmenopausal women who eat traditional Mediterranean diet foods might be successful in preventing breast cancer than those with different eating habits.

The researchers found that among 14,800 Greek women those who kept most closely to the region’s traditional diet were less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those whose eating habits were least like this.

The subjects were chosen from Greece as it is considered the home of the Mediterranean diet and a large segment of the population still adheres to it naturally.

The participants completed detailed dietary questionnaires and gave lifestyle and demographic information. Each participant was given a Mediterranean diet score, from 0 to 9, based on how often they ate according to the plan (veggies, legumes, fruit and nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil or another source of monounsaturated fat) and were given more points for limiting meat and dairy.

Over the course of the study, 240 of the subjects were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Women with the highest adherence to the diet (scores in the 6 to 9 range) were 22% less likely to develop breast cancer during the ten year study period than those with the lowest scores (0 to 3) – who ate least like the traditional Mediterranean diet. Factors like age, education, smoking history, weight and exercise habits were taken into account. The link only appeared in women who had passed through menopause, not in younger women.

The Mediterranean diet isn’t so much a diet plan as a way of eating for life, and is nothing like the typical American diet. This plan is…

- Very low in red meat and poultry

- Uses olive oil as the main fat source

- Very high in fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables and cereals

- High in fish

- Permits low to moderate intake of wine

Science has long though that this way of eating might help explain why countries in the Mediterranean region of the world have lower rates of heart disease and some cancers (including breast cancer) compared to other places in Europe or the U.S.

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Lower Breast Cancer Risk With This… Continued…

Up until now there had been two other studies, both done in the United States, that examined the relationship between the Mediterranean style of eating and the risk of breast cancer. Each one found a connection between the diet and reduced breast cancer risk, though in one study only a certain subset of cancers (those that lack receptors for estrogen) responded.

The findings, preliminary to be sure, appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and do not offer proof that eating Mediterranean diet foods is useful in preventing breast cancer. Remember you can do all the right things and still get the disease… and no one knows exactly why.  But then, with more and more research showing the benefits of eating this way… why not give it a try?

Obesity Health Risks Include Poor Quality of Life

Just what are we doing to ourselves? New research in the September 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that as Americans’ are getting bigger, the obesity health risks include a falling quality of life.

The nationwide study revealed that the number of healthy days per year that we lose due to obesity has more than doubled over the past 20 years, from 7.5 in 1993 to 17 in 2008. During the same time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have data that shows obesity rates nearly doubling (from 14% to 27%) during this same time period.

The amount of healthy time lost was calculated by using information from self reports on health and daily activity to get at the number of days per year people in the U.S. lost to poor health and added this to data from the CDC. Combined the numbers came up with a first-ever estimate of total healthy time lost as a result of obesity. Well known illnesses associated with obesity include heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and depression according to study co-author Dr. Erica I. Lubetkin, an associate medical professor at The City College of New York.

The study found that most of a woman’s loss of healthy days due to obesity was because of illness. Men lost their days as the result of early death.

While what the researchers saw does support a general trend, they found that some groups were more seriously affected than others. Black women lost the greatest amount of time in good health (24 fewer days per year), which is 31% higher than for black men, and 50% higher than for whites.

The study findings support the idea that obesity could overshadow recent hard won gains in public health. Experts believe that the improvements in health that come from decreases in smoking could be wiped out by the growing problem of obesity and the health concerns it brings. The trend, if left unchanged, could have a major impact not only on society but the health care system itself.

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Weight Gain Eroding Quality Of Life… Continued…

If obesity affects the ability to live a normal life, the economic strain will be felt in all sectors. Obese people will end up working fewer years and needing more support as a result. Medical facilities will need to accommodate heavier patients with more health problems who probably can’t walk or climb stairs.

To avoid what lies ahead, Lubetkin suggests interventions on the scale of what was done to fight tobacco. Things like getting junk food out of schools, teaching nutritional basics, having more gym and recess time, discouraging inactive pastimes like TV watching and computer use are all smart strategies that will have us moving in the right direction. More emphasis on counseling for weight loss and offering support, as well as requiring insurance companies to pay for preventative options could also make a big difference. In the end, making healthy choices has to be available, affordable and easy so that more people are able to choose to live this way.

In the meantime, take what steps you can to take charge of your own weight and minimize obesity health risks. Not only will it help improve your physical health, but your overall quality of life might just get better too.