Lung Cancer Risk Factors Reduced With These Habits

There’s a new study that shows that eating dairy products, apples, veggies, drinking milk or wine and exercise had a clinically significant protective affect against lung cancer risk factors in women smokers, though not in nonsmokers. The work also found that drinking black tea protects against the disease in those women who don’t smoke, but had no benefit for those who did smoke.

The findings were presented at the American College of Chest Physicians annual meeting held in Canada from October 30 to November 4, 2010.

The researchers out of the Faculty Hospital Bulovka in Prague, Czech Republic interviewed 533 female lung cancer patients at the facility and compared them to 1,971 female control subjects who didn’t have lung cancer. The team was trying to understand the impact of diet and exercise on lung cancer risk.

Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 106,374 men and 90,080 women were diagnosed in the U.S. during the year 2006, the latest statistics available. Lung cancer death rates for U.S. women are some of the highest in the world. This form of cancer accounts for more deaths than colorectal, prostate and breast cancers combined, and as smoking is a major risk factor for the disease (90% of these cancers are the result of smoking) you can see why there are such virulent anti-smoking efforts, especially in the U.S.

Beyond smoking cigarettes, other risks for lung cancer include:

- Second hand smoke brings nonsmokers a 24% increased risk for lung cancer. An estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year are attributable to passive smoking.

- Asbestos fibers are silicate fibers that can stay in lung tissue for a lifetime after the exposure. Workplaces are the most common sites for exposure.

- Radon gas can travel up through soil and enter homes through gaps in the foundation, pipes, drains or other openings. The U.S. EPA estimates that one in every 15 homes in the U.S. has dangerous levels of radon. An estimated 12% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to radon gas.

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These Two Tips Might Cut Risk Of Lung Cancer… Continued…

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, about one in every 14 men and women in this country will be diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lifetime. Almost 70% of those diagnosed with the disease are over 65 years old, while under 3% of lung cancers happen in those under 45 years old. This form of cancer was virtually unknown before the 1930s, but rose dramatically as smoking became more popular.

Earlier work has found that what we eat (or drink) may have an impact on the risk of lung cancer. A study published in September 2010 in the European Journal of Cancer found an association between a high intake of fruits and veggies and a lower risk of lung cancer. Further, a 2009 study appearing in the journal Lung Cancer found that drinking a lot of green tea was tied to a lower risk for lung cancer, but no such benefit came from drinking black tea.

The team conducting the current study calls for more work on lung cancer risk factors. Clearly black tea, dairy and exercise affect lung cancer risk in different ways depending on the subjects’ smoking status.

Surprising Benefits of Chocolate on Health

Who wouldn’t love this? Some surprising benefits of chocolate on health by eating a little every day was linked with a lower risk for atherosclerosis, along with hospitalizations and early deaths from both heart failure and heart disease.

This sweet bit of research appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine and was conducted by a team out of the University of Pennsylvania who compared the effects of eating chocolate on heart health using more than 1,200 older women.

The subjects completed dietary questionnaires that told how often they ate chocolate, and the subjects also underwent ultrasounds to get images of their carotid arteries. This is the artery that will show signs of thickness, an indication of atherosclerosis, the condition where arteries harden and blood flow is impaired as a result.

The chocolate consumption of the subjects was divided into three groups; less than one serving a week, between one and six servings a week and seven or more servings (everyday chocolate eaters) of chocolate.

A serving was defined as between 25 and 50 grams (0.9 to 1.8 ounces) and having 5-15% of cocoa by weight. Believe it or not, 47.6% of the subjects ate chocolate less than one time a week. A full 35.8% ate chocolate from one to six times each week, and 16.6% ate some chocolate every day of the week.

There were 158 atherosclerosis related events among the subjects who ate chocolate one time a week, but there were 90 events among those who ate chocolate from one to six times, and only 42 evens for those who were eating chocolate every day. You see? It IS good for you.

The team did a secondary analysis among those who ate little or from one to six servings of chocolate and found that hospitalizations and deaths were lower among those who ate more chocolate. This group had a reduced rate of ischemic heart disease, heart failure and generally fewer atherosclerotic plaques, the blockages that reduce blood flow.

Experts do know that the cocoa in chocolate is full of flavonoids that have been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. It makes sense as cocoa does come from plants, and would naturally bear some of the same good-for-you substances as the darker fruits or veggies.

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Good News: Sweet Treat Linked To Lower Heart Risks… Continued…

It’s important to understand that this study did not provide cause-and-effect evidence, still it may be helpful to enjoy a bit of chocolate to prevent disease in those most at risk.

When it comes to chocolate, the milk chocolate that’s so popular in the U.S. has lots of fat, a limited amount of beneficial cocoa, and milk that may actually keep your body from absorbing the helpful nutrients. Chocolate in other parts of the world has almost double the cocoa solids of U.S. dark chocolate, and it’s this higher cocoa content that’s been linked to all the benefits to the heart.

And since chocolate is a pretty calorie dense food, eating too much is going to up the chances you’ll pack on some pounds as well. So this is hardly an “eat all you like” type message – rather the experts are calling for people to enjoy the benefits of chocolate on health in moderation as a tasty treat that might just also be good for your heart.

Lower Stress and Improve Mood With These 5 Minute Fixes

It might sound too good to be true, but in a few short minutes you can do one thing that’s likely to lower stress and improve mood – in short turn your whole day around. In our 24/7, always on world, it’s hard to find time to get to all the tasks we set for ourselves… never mind having a chance to unwind or enjoy life. So here’s the challenge… take five minutes and give any one of these ten simple ideas a try, see if your day doesn’t take a turn for the better.

1) Make your bed – it’s what Mom always told you, and the truth of it is, starting off each day with the bed made is a simple way to ensure a calm, clean environment in your bedroom. It also lets you start the day with a feeling of accomplishment, always a good thing.

2) Pack a snack - grab something quick, a banana or another fruit, low fat cheese or unsalted nuts and take it to go. When the hungries hit (always at your worst, weakest time) you’ll have something healthy on hand and won’t need to go for the chips or candy.

3) Clear your work surface - this is an easy five-minute task, and clearing away the clutter of papers, empty mugs and gum wrappers will have you feeling more focused and productive. You’ll be more organized, in command and have a pleasant place to work for the rest of the day.

4) Enjoy the music - there are some studies that find that listening to music lowers blood pressure, cuts stress and enhances mood. There are some songs that can do wonders for your attitude, and your workout. Today’s technology makes having music you love on hand easier than its ever been.

5) Sniff a lemon - smell is an under-rated sense, but it works wonders on your stress level. A Japanese team of researchers found that linalool, found in lemons, has anti-inflammatory properties and might cut back the fight-or-flight response. Scents such as lavender, basil and juniper have also been found to have similar properties.

6) Stretch - lift your arms above your head as you sit at your desk, or stretch your legs by taking a short walk out in the fresh air. Getting up and moving helps improve your circulation and flexibility while easing the tightening of muscles that comes with stress.

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Got 5 Minutes? 10 Ways To Improve Your Day… Continued…

7) Meditate – deep breathing is a great way to relax, to slow your body and turn your mind off. There’s no special equipment, you need only find a comfortable position in a chair or floor, focus on your breathing, perhaps repeat a calming word or keep a peaceful image in your mind while breathing slowly and evenly. Doing a bit of meditating every day, even just five minutes, has been shown to fight depression, ease stress.

8) Try a gratitude diary - use a minute each day to write down a few things (or even just one) that you are truly grateful to have in your life. They can be big or small, but focusing on these helps dispel the negative energy of complaining and a chance to focus on all the positives you have.

9) Unplug - turn off all the devices, you don’t need to be connected every minute of every day. Remember people lived just fine without cell phones and internet access not all that long ago. Log off and give yourself time to truly relax, even if it’s only the five or ten minutes before bed. It’ll all be there in the morning… promise.

10) Prioritize – don’t let lots of things overwhelm you… instead make a list of what you need to do, set priorities and work toward finishing each, checking them off (literally) as you go. It helps to put the most dreaded tasks first so you lower stress and improve mood by avoiding the anxiety of procrastination and have the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that checking them off your list will provide.

Drinking Soda Increases Risk of Gout

A new study finds that women who enjoy drinking soda or other fructose-rich beverages (i.e. sweetened juices) are at an increased risk of gout, a condition that has the distinction of being known throughout history.

Though the ancient didn’t understand much about it, today we know that gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that in the U.S. has gone from 16 cases per 100,000 in 1977 to 42 per cases 100,000 in 1996. This time period also saw a huge rise in soda and fructose consumption. It now appears that fructose rich beverages can cause a buildup of uric acid in the blood and this leads to gout.

Too much uric acid causes the formation of tiny crystals of urate that then deposit in tissues of the body, especially the joints. It’s a chronic, progressive disease that can bring joint destruction, kidney stones and decreased functioning of the kidneys themselves.

For the work, the researchers analyzed data from 78,906 women who took part in the prospective cohort study known as the Nurses’ Health Study and had no history of gout at the start of the study.

Over the following 22 years, 778 of the subjects were diagnosed with gout using standards that met the American College of Rheumatology criteria for the condition. Those who drank one serving per day of sweetened beverages were 74% more likely to develop gout than those who drank less than one of these drinks per month. Those who drank two or more servings a day had a 2.4 times higher risk of the painful condition.

What’s more, the women who took in a serving of orange juice (6 ounces) were 41% more likely to develop gout. Those who drank 2 or more servings had a 2.4 times greater risk. Women in the highest fifth of daily fructose intake were 62% more likely to develop gout than those in the lowest fifth.

You are at risk for gout if you’re obese, gained a lot of weight in your youth, a moderate to heavy drinker of alcohol, have high blood pressure or abnormal kidney function.

Some medicines can also cause elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Certain diseases also lead to excess production of uric acid, conditions like leukemia, lymphoma and hemoglobin disorders. Abnormally low thyroid hormones have also been identified as contributing to gout.

If you have gout, there are some things that will precipitate an acute attack. Things like being dehydrated, injuring the joint, fever, eating to excess; heavy alcohol intake or recent surgery can all have an impact.

The joints most commonly affected are at the base of the big toe, the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. An acute attack comes with a rapid onset of pain in the joint, followed by warmth, swelling, a reddish discoloration and incredible tenderness.

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Warning: For Those Who Drink Sweetened Drinks… Continued…

Your doctor will suspect gout if you have a history of attacks of arthritis, especially at the base of your toes. Gout usually attacks one joint at a time. The most reliable test for gout is to find uric acid crystals in a sample of the joint fluid with a test that can be done in your doctor’s office under local anesthesia. A rheumatologist is the best specialist to perform this type of evaluation.

Treatment of gout has two goals. First is to stop the acute inflammation of the joint. This usually involves measures and medications that bring down inflammation. Second to address the long-term management of the disease so you won’t have to deal with the risk of gout flare ups. This calls for keeping your fluid intake up (but avoiding drinking soda), losing weight, making changes to your diet (cutting or limiting purine rich foods like shellfish, organ meat and sweetbreads), cutting how much alcohol (beer and liquor) you drink along with taking medications that reduce the uric acid level in the bloodstream.

Risks of Developing Diabetes

November was American Diabetes Month, an occasion to build awareness of this all too common disease that’s actually a leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer. The American College of Physicians is suggesting that everyone needs to be aware of the risk factors for diabetes and what they can do to help themselves.

Diabetes is believed to affect 17 million (about 8%) of the population in the United Sates alone. There are another 12 million in the U.S. who have diabetes and don’t even know it. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can be controlled, though it will be with you for the rest of your life.

While type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and is the result of the body not producing any insulin, the hormone that’s needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into the energy we use every day. In type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells simply ignore it

Those who don’t take steps to manage their condition run the risk of some pretty significant complications – heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, high blood pressure, nervous system damage.

The known risk factors for type 2 diabetes, by far the most common type, are…

- Being overweight

- A family history

- Lack of physical activity

- Gestational diabetes during pregnancy

- High blood pressure or high cholesterol numbers

- Being over 45 years old

- Being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander

Naturally you can’t do much about your genetics, your age or your family history, but there are other risk factors that are well within your control. These are the ones the experts want us all to understand and take steps to address.

The typical symptoms of diabetes are sometimes mild (or even nonexistent) but are something you should watch for, especially if you have other risk factors for the disease. Patients can have extreme thirst and/or hunger, fatigue, need to urinate often (from drinking so much), unusual weight loss, blurred vision, tingling or numbness in hands/feet, frequent infections and bruises that are slow to heal. If you’re having one of more of these symptoms, a blood test can tell you for sure.

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———————————————————————-Are You At Risk For This Chronic Disease..? Continued…

If you’re diagnosed, controlling your disease is the best way to ensure you live well and avoid the more devastating complications. Some of the things you can do are what you’d expect… exercise every day and start eating a healthy diet that’s loaded with veggies, fruits, fish, poultry and whole grains. Stick to these two and you’ll naturally lose any extra weight, and likely be amazed at the difference in your condition.

You’ll also want to monitor your blood sugar levels and keep track of them so you can work with your doctor to keep your disease in check. If you’re given medication for your condition, taking it exactly as prescribed is the most important thing you can do to keep yourself healthy.

The ACP Diabetes Portal (diabetes.acponline.org) is a handy source for the latest evidence based information about diabetes. Whether you’re a patient or clinician, you’ll find tools, resources and research all in one place, updated regularly too.

Obesity Link To Sense Of Smell

Nothing beats the smell of a delicious meal… and now researchers from the University of Portsmouth find an obesity link between those who are overweight and have a heightened sense of smell for food than the rest of us.

With obesity rates reaching epidemic numbers in both the U.S. and Great Britain, experts have been searching for any underlying cause that might be encouraging us all to eat so much more. And smell affects how we interpret food – the majority of what we think of as taste comes from our sense of smell.

Experts know that our noses are not just organs of smell, but of taste as well. In fact, the taste buds can only distinguish four qualities, sweet, sour, bitter and salt. All other tastes are detected by the receptors high up in the nasal passages.

As you chew, odor molecules from the ground up food float up into your nasal cavity to an area about the size of a postage stamp that’s covered with five to six million microscopic nerve cells capable of detecting different smells. The mechanism is much like a lock (the nerve cell) and a key (the molecule) itself.

If you’re still doubting the power of smell over what you eat… think about this: would you really eat the entire tub of greasy, lukewarm movie theater popcorn if it weren’t for the smell?

Dr. Lorenzo Stafford and his team decided to study the idea that a skewed sense of smell might play a role in the rising numbers of overweight and obese people.

The researchers asked 64 volunteers to take part in a series of tests to check their ability to smell. Subjects had a better sense of smell for non-food odors when they were hungry, but were better at smelling food after eating.

Why can we smell food better when full? Dr. Stafford suspects it might be the body’s natural way of detecting and rejecting foods no longer needed. A built in mechanism to keep us from eating more than we should.

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How Your Sense Of Smell Is Linked To Weight… Continued…

Taking the results one step further, the team found that those with a higher BMI had a poorer sense of smell for non-food smells, a greater sensitivity to food smells. This especially keen sense of smell might have these people continuing to eat, even when they are full. The research suggests that smell might play a far more active role in food intake than we ever thought possible.

Interesting that women consistently outperform men on all tests of smelling ability, and that newborns are highly sensitive to some important smells, not all smells. Smoking doesn’t always affect our sense of smell, even though it is widely believed to reduce the sensitivity to smells… especially the smell of smoke.

Humans can distinguish between 4,000 to 10,000 different smells, a rather poor show compared to the animal kingdom, and the ability declines with age. How well you’ll retain your sense of smell in your later years depends on your physical and mental health, despite research that claims the ability to smell starts to go downhill very early in life

Garlic Benefits Include Treatment For Hypertension

Australian researchers out of the University of Adelaide find that garlic benefits might be useful, along with medications, as a treatment for hypertension. The team enrolled 50 patients in a trial to see if garlic supplements could help those who had high blood pressure readings, despite being on medications.

Blood pressure is the term doctors use for the force of blood pushing against your artery walls as the heart pumps. If the pressure is high, and stays high over time, it can hurt the body in all kinds of ways. This condition is known as the “silent killer” because it can exist, without symptoms, for years. About one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure.

Poorly controlled blood pressure is a problem in both the UK and the US and brings an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. If you’ve been told your numbers are high, over 140/90 mm Hg, you need to take steps to bringing those numbers down. Doing nothing can hurt or even kill you.

Research into garlic supplements has found that they can lower cholesterol and cut high blood pressure in those with untreated hypertension, and garlic has long been thought to be good for the heart. This is the first study to look at the effect, tolerability and acceptability of aged garlic extract given in addition to existing drug therapies for blood pressure that isn’t responding to medication.

In the most recent 12-week trial, those subjects who got four capsules of garlic extract a day had lower blood pressure than those given a placebo. Systolic blood pressure was around 10mmHg lower.

The British Heart Foundation believes more work on garlic and hypertension is needed before other experts will agree that it is a useful treatment for hypertension. The study wasn’t long enough or large enough, and garlic’s affect on blood pressure rather small, hardly enough to have us all running for the garlic right now.

Yet garlic has long been used for medicinal purposes. Garlic is rich in antioxidants, and these are known to neutralize naturally occurring free radicals that cause damage to cell membranes and possibly contribute to both aging and the development of a number of diseases. While more work on garlic is being done, research is showing promise in the area of cardiovascular disease, the common cold as well as strengthening the immune system and helping it function better in times of need.

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This Natural Remedy Helps High Blood Pressure… Continued…

If you’re worried about blood pressure, your own or someone else’s, here are some simple things you can do to help.

- Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including cutting down on salt

- Get active on a regular basis

- Keep your weight at a healthy level

- Manage your stress

- Don’t smoke

- Use a hot tub wisely and safely

- Take your medication exactly as prescribed

- Limit how much alcohol you drink on a regular basis

Garlic supplements as a treatment for hypertension should only be used after talking with your own doctor as garlic benefits aren’t the only side effect – some can be quite unpleasant. It can thin the blood and interact with other medications you may be taking.

Suffer With A Bloated Stomach? 10 Ways To Have a Flat Belly

A bloated stomach is something that you can avoid pretty easily, so long as that bloat doesn’t come from extra pounds or is the result of a medical condition (liver or heart disease for example) according to Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity researcher at the Mayo Clinic. The way to do it – avoid accumulating gas in your abdomen or intestines, as this will bring the uncomfortable feeling and the awful looking bulge.

It’s actually a well-entrenched myth that bloating in the stomach is the result of fluid accumulation, so called water weight. This isn’t true at all. In fact, the abdomen isn’t the place fluids will accumulate first in a healthy individual – they would be noticed in the feet and ankles for anyone up and about.

So if it’s not water, what is causing the gas to build in your belly and impact how you look and feel? Here are ten likely suggestions that might just explain that bloated belly.

1. Constipation: too little fiber, fluids and activity can bring on constipation and this causes bloating. Eat a diet high in fiber (25 daily grams for women; 38 for men) from whole grains, fruits and veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. You’ll also want to be sure you’re taking in enough fluids – aim for 6-8 glasses a day. Be active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

2. Food allergies/intolerances: can cause both gas and bloating and can be confirmed by a visit to your doctor. Resist the temptation to self-diagnose and then eliminate healthy dairy and whole grains from your diet when this isn’t necessary. You can reduce the amount of the suspect food, or eat it with other foods, or try aged cheeses and yogurts as they are lower in lactose to see how your body responds.

3. Eating too fast: it’s what Mom always warned you about… eat too quickly and you swallow air and this brings bloating. You need to slow down, chew well and enjoy your meals. A meal should last at least a half hour, and remember digestion starts in the mouth. So try and cut that bloating by chewing your food better… just like Mom told you.

4. Limit carbonated drinks: as the fizz in those tasty sodas and other drinks can cause gas to get trapped in your stomach. Instead try water flavored with lemon, lime or cucumber. If you must have those carbonated drinks, at least cut the number you have a day and try other beverages – peppermint tea for a soothing, healthy change.

5. Don’t chew too much gum: as this can have you swallowing air, which leads to bloating. If you have a hard-core gum habit, alternate a piece of gum with sucking on a mint or hard candy instead. A healthy, high-fiber snack is also a good choice.

6. Watch sugar free foods: as these can cause you to take in too much sugar alcohol in those artificially sweetened foods and drinks, this can lead to bloating. You want to limit your consumption of artificially sweetened foods/drinks to no more than 2 to 3 servings a day.

7. Limit sodium: highly processed foods are high in sodium and low in fiber, both of which can contribute to feeling (and looking) bloated. You need to start reading food labels and shoot for no more than 500 mg of sodium per serving in any processed, canned or frozen food. You want to keep your total sodium intake to 2,300 mg a day.

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10 Natural Ways To Beat Belly Bloating… Continued…

8. Go slow with gas producing foods: there are some foods, like beans and members of the cruciferous family of veggies, that if you’re not used to eating can cause that bloated, gassy discomfort. Work these good for you foods into your diet slowly, or try to take an anti-gas product as directed when you plan on eating them.

9. Eat smaller meals, less often: this alternative meal schedule can help you stay free of the bloated feeling that comes after a large meal. Eating more often can also help keep your blood sugar stable and manage your hunger. Just be sure that the quantity of food and calories are in line with what you need, and don’t make more meals, bigger meals.

10. Try anti-bloating foods/drinks: as a few studies suggest that peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple, parsley and yogurts that have probiotics (good bacteria) might help bring down the bloating.

Understand that spot exercises will help your belly appear flatter, but that’s because you are toning and strengthening the abdominal muscles, not because doing a specific ab exercise has worked wonders. Pilates and exercise ball workouts are some of the best ab workouts we know.

Experts agree that laxatives, water pills and fasting are not the way to get rid of bloating, or lose weight. Losing even a few pounds will help your belly look (and feel) trimmer, that’s because for almost anyone who is losing body fat usually does so from the belly area more than other parts of the body. This holds true for every body type and weight loss type.

People With Skin Moles Delay Aging

Here’s some intriguing news… those who have plentiful skin moles might actually be younger on the inside than people who don’t have them. Most of us have between 30-40 moles on our body, but some have as many as 600. Researchers at King’s College London believe that moles could mean younger skin and better bone density. It seems the cells of those with lots of moles have properties that allow them to delay aging by renewing themselves more often.

However more moles on the skin has also been linked to a higher rate of skin cancers like melanoma and cancers like breast and colon cancer too. Knowing about your family history of cancer can be helpful here, as it suggests whether you need to be more active in your prevention efforts.

A series of studies conducted by the King’s College team, led by consultant dermatologist Dr. Veronique Bataille, looked at the relationship between the number of moles and other physical characteristics. First she noted that those who had lots of moles seemed less vulnerable to some of the effects of aging on the skin – wrinkles and blemishes for example.

A study of 1,200 twins (identical and non identical) aged 17-89 suggests that a high mole count also meant that subjects were less affected by age related reductions in bone density. This indicates a good chance at a lower risk of brittle bone disease and bone fractures in later years. When a patient had lots of moles the team noticed they tended to age better, looking from 6 to 7 years younger than their chronological age. Why?

The study also found that subjects with over 100 moles were half as likely to develop osteoporosis later in life compared to subjects who had 25 or fewer moles. It’s not clear why, but researchers can say that those who have large numbers of moles have differences in the strands of DNA in each cell of their body. The sections at the end of DNA strands, called telomeres, are a sort of countdown timer that tells how many times a cell can divide to produce new cells. The longer the telomere the more division can take place. More moles equals longer telomeres.

The findings were presented by Dr. Bataille at a Royal Society of Medicine conference, though she cautions that we have a DNA system that came about over millions of years and it won’t be an easy thing to create a cream to affect that.

Continues below…


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These Blemishes Keep You Looking Years Younger… Continued…

Moles are influenced by both genetics and environmental factors. They are usually brown or black, and may be alone or in groups anywhere on your skin.

Most often moles appear in early childhood or sometime during the first 30 years of your life. By early adulthood most of us have from 10-40 moles. They can darken after being out in the sun, during your teens and during a woman’s pregnancy. As the years pass moles can change and may sometimes grow hairs.

While most skin moles are not at all dangerous, you should know that if a mole changes in size, shape or color, you need to see a doctor at once. If a mole bleeds, oozes, itches, appears scaly or gets tender or painful you also need a checkup by a dermatologist.

Walking For Exercise and Weight Loss

Walking for exercise and weight loss has never been so easy. Today’s technology lets you take your music, a podcast or audiobooks right along with you. Before you realize it you could be walking distances like Janet Zinn, age 51 of New York. She walks from three to ten miles a day. After a year, she’s dropped over 60 pounds, kept it off for eight months, and uses walking as her main exercise.

Those are some impressive results. But they aren’t the only ones walking can bring to you. Regular walking helps lower cholesterol, cuts the risk of type 2 diabetes, builds bone strength and improves your circulation – all huge benefits to the body, today and as you age.

What many people forget is that walking is one of the simplest things we can do – you need a good, supportive pair of shoes, but nothing else. It’s great for any age or any fitness level, whether you’ve been working out a while or are just getting active after years on the couch.

What’s more, you don’t have to manage that 30 minutes of recommended activity all at once. You can break this into two (15 minute) or three (10 minute) sessions so that you can fit it in between all the other things you have going on. Sounds do-able, though if you’ve been inactive for a wile, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before you start walking as your workout.

Here are some tips for getting started, once you do get the go ahead:

1. Establish a baseline that’s realistic – you want to start slow, say three times a week for 20 minutes, then work up to five (or more) days a week for a half hour. This will add from 2.5 to 3 hours of activity each week to your routine.

2. Use distance, time and heart rate - some walkers key in on how far they go, others walk for time, though ultimately according to Courtenay Schurman, MS, CSCS, author of The Outdoor Athlete, you’re going for speed. Combine the distance and time so that you get your heart rate up – doing five miles in five hours is not what you’re after.

3. Watch your intensity levels – if you’re working out at a certain heart rate percentage, this helps you judge how difficult your workout is on your body. Check your heart rate by manually taking your own pulse, or try a heart rate monitor. Remember that the heart rate standards you may see don’t fit everyone. Most recommendations call for you to start at 70-75% of your maximum heart rate, but this might not be tough enough for those who are already fit.

A great way to see if the intensity of your workout is right is to use the “talk test” – if you can put together 6-8 words or talk briefly then you’re good. But if you’re gasping for air, bring down the intensity. On the other hand, if you can say a sentence or two with one breath, you might not be working hard enough.

Staying motivated is another challenge when it comes to walking… or any exercise program for that matter. Here are some great tips on keeping things going…

- Wear a pedometer and bit by bit, up your daily steps. Look to see what days you’re taking the most steps and add another 500 steps, ultimately working toward 10,000 steps a day.

- Keep a walking journal as a motivator, and so you can see the progress you’re making in black and white. Surprising how helpful this is.

- Get a partner to keep you accountable, or find support online. There are programs like the American Heart Association’s StartWalkingNow.org that help many get going. The design of the American Council on Exercise, the program is offered free and includes a monthly newsletter, an online activity and nutrition tracker, access to an online walking journal and the chance to connect online with others for support and motivation. You can even search for walking paths in your area.

- Sign up for a race/charity walk which will give you a goal to work toward and the chance to help a good cause at the same time.

And if you’re already fit, but want to give walking a try… here are some ways to up the intensity level to suit your needs…

- Speed up or consider race walking. Brisk walking at 4 miles an hour burns 334 calories; at 3 miles an hour it burns 221 according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Don’t forget to pump those arms!

- Head for the hills as going uphill increases the intensity. You can lift the incline on your treadmill for a similar effect, just don’t hang onto the bar or you’ll not get the benefits.

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Working Out Made Easy… Continued…

- Change your surface, walking on trails and dealing with the demands of the terrain increases muscular demand. Other ideas include a walk in the snow, on the sand or in the grass.

- Use Nordic poles to get the muscles of the upper body involved too.

- Add a weighted backpack or weight vest. You can fill the backpack with water, sand or kitty litter so the weight is distributed evenly. Ankle and hand weights aren’t a good idea, as they change your gait and can cause an injury.

Always, always, if you do your walking outdoors, walk safe. Here are nine smart tips on that score…

1. Walk with a buddy whenever you can.

2. Don’t use headsets that keep you from hearing what’s around you.

3. Walk against oncoming traffic.

4. Wear reflective materials and/or carry a flashlight so you can be seen.

5. Wear a medical bracelet if you have diabetes, an allergy or another condition.

6. Carry your name, address and a contact phone number on your person.

7. Carry a cell phone and be sure a friend/relative knows your walking route.

8. Carry a whistle/noisemaker or pepper spray (if you know how to use it).

9. Avoid deserted or unlit streets, especially at night or near dusk.

Being following these tips your walking for exercise and weight loss program will not only be effective but safe too.