What Can You Do to Prevent the Flu?

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Flu season is upon us which means that almost everyone is sniffling, coughing and sneezing so you have to take many precautions if you don’t want to get the flu as well. The University of Arizona found that when even one person is sick in an office, it only takes about four hours for surfaces like copy machines, door handles, etc. to show trace of the flu virus. The 2014-2015 flu season was one of the worst the U.S. has had, it was even considered an epidemic. It is important that you take all the precautions possible to prevent getting the flu this season.

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Everyone knows you should wash your hands often, avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes, cover your mouth when you sneeze and so forth. It is also imperative that you are getting enough quality sleep. Lack of sleep can actually weaken your immune system, thus making you more susceptible to get a virus if exposed to one. Excessive amounts of stress can also weaken your immune system and prevent you from getting enough sleep, so it is important you maintain your stress levels as low as possible. Furthermore, your diet can also affect whether or not you get the flu, or any other virus for that matter. You should try to get enough protein in your diet like fish, beans and lean beef. Diets that are low in protein may deplete the immune system as well. You may also want to consider drinking a lot of tea… and sniffing it. It has been found that the steam of the tea stimulates the cilia to move out germs. Adding lemon thins the mucus and honey is an antibacterial. Lastly, one of the most effective precautions you can take is getting the flu vaccine.

  •  avoid touching your face
  • wash hands often
  • minimize stress
  • eat well and hydrate often
  • sleep

So, as you can see there are so many ways to prevent the flu and stay healthy this time of year. Remember, getting the flu vaccine doesn’t mean you are immune so you should still take other precautions to stay healthy. The holiday season is here and you are not going to want to miss it because you have the flu, stay healthy!


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Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

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With holiday season just around the corner, it is important to realize how the food you eat this time of year affects your health. We tend to put on weight around the time of Thanksgiving and Christmas which shouldn’t be surprising at all, but there are ways for you to avoid gaining weight this time of year.

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Choosing to maintain healthy habits during the holiday season doesn’t mean you will be eating a bowl of vegetables while your family is indulging in your favorite dishes. You can start by modifying the recipes of these dishes with healthier ingredients or the cooking technique, this can go a long way. You may also decide to eat smaller portions so you can enjoy a little bit of everything without overeating. It is important that you eat slowly, it can be easy to get carried away and eat your food fast so you can get to the next dish. Pacing yourself allows your body to really register how full you are, which prevents overeating. You should also drink water, low fat milk, or unsweetened tea as opposed to alcoholic or sugary beverages. Your choice of beverage is often responsible for many of calories you get from your holiday meal. Lastly, don’t try to starve yourself all day prior to your holiday meal because this will actually cause to overeat. Instead of preventing weight gain, it might actually cause you to gain weight.

Remember to be conscious of what and how much you eat this holiday season and you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite dishes without the burden of weight gain. Holiday season shouldn’t have to mean you’ll put on a few extra pounds, as long as you make healthy eating choices.


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Do You Have Carb Phobia?

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When you are trying to lose weight you often try to reduce or eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet, but in the process you will also be eliminating some vitamins, minerals, fibers and phyto-nutrients. It is important to not group all carbs as the same because there are different types; some are more beneficial than others.

Everyone knows that bread, pasta, cereal, etc. are high in carbs; but so are some vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Carbs have such a negative connotation so it’s important for you to be able to differentiate the “good” vs “bad” carbs.

Why Do People Avoid Carbs?

Generally, carbs are avoided by many people because they are thought to cause weight gain; and in some cases that is true. All carbs are equivalent to 4 carbs per gram, but the quality of the carb you eat can determine whether it will make you gain or lose weight. Any sugar sweetened foods or refined grains such as white bread are related with weight gain. On the other hand, consuming whole grains, dairy, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are associated with weight loss.

Furthermore, the quality of the carbs consumed may also increase or decrease risk of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating quality carbs like total fiber, grain fiber, and fruit fiber decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. It also showed that consuming a lot of starchy carbs like white bread, corn, and white potatoes are related with 23 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Consuming carbohydrates is an important part of your diet, without them you may even struggle with everyday activities. They are like fuel for your muscles. It is important for you to choose quality carbs instead of completely cutting all carbs out of your diet.

 

 


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A Healthy Diet Promotes Better Memory!

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Memories influence and shape your personality. It’s your thoughts, connections, and all other recollections that make you who you are, and memory loss is essentially a loss of a part of you. However, there might be more you can do to boost your memory. Studies show that healthier diets help improve memory in the long run.

brain memoryDiets high in cholesterol and fat could increase the rate at which beta-amyloid plaques in the brain are created. Amyloid beta is a protein involved with Alzheimer’s disease; it is the main component found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  Also affected are the blood vessels in the brain which can be damaged thus preventing brain cells from receiving the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally.  The end result may be a a degradation in thinking and memory.

Although there is still not much information available about a brain-healthy diet, a hearty-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat, reduces risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity and may also help prevent memory loss. A heart-healthy diet is very similar to a Mediterranean diet which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and limited red meat. There are limited studies that dietary supplements such as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids may stall memory loss, but may be considered for some.


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Why Does Stress Cause Weight Gain?

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Stress has a short term effect of lost of appetite; the brain releases corticotropin hormones that reduce hunger.  Adrenaline is also released, which activates the fight or flight response in the body to temporarily decreases your appetite. However, if you are experiencing constant stress, the suprarenal gland will start releasing cortisol which actually increases appetite as well. Cortisol levels will fall once the body returns to homeostasis, but if the body continues to be subjected to stress in the long term, cortisol levels will remain high and can negatively affect your health.

How Cortisol and Stress Increase Eating

When your body is under pressure and stress with cortisol in an elevated state, your body tends to crave foods that are higher in sugar and fat.  This is considered emotional eating.  Emotional eating can be so strong that many eaters feel powerless over their food cravings; they can’t control their desires for unhealthy food or eating it.

Additional factors include the sleep deprivation, increased alcohol intake and a decrease in exercise for those experiencing physical or emotional distress in the long term.  All of these factors exacerbate stress and may play a large role in weight gain.

Decrease or Address Stress, Get Plenty of Sleep and Eat Well

There are many ways to reduce stress to prevent weight gain. First off, you should avoid buying foods high in fat and sugar. If they are not easily within reach, you are less likely to eat them.  Meditation is also a great technique to reduce stress and also become more mindful of your eating habits. You may want to try tai chi or yoga because they are a combination of meditation and exercise which helps to significantly reduce stress.

Take Control of Your Health!

 


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Controlling Inflammation levels

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Inflammation is the body’s reaction to infections and it occurs to protect your body and  keep it healthy. There are two types of inflammation that may happen in your body: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation would be the “good” type of inflammation, as it helps your body heal by sending white blood cells to the troubled area. Acute inflammation also doesn’t last very long because your body typically heals quickly. Chronic inflammation does the opposite of acute inflammation, the white blood cells burn through healthy tissue or organs instead of healing your body. It is important to have your inflammation levels tested by getting a C-reactive protein blood test (CRP).  The CRP will be elevated if your body is dealing with inflammation.

The CRP test is not diagnostic, but it does provide relevant information to your health provider if inflammation is present.  The test results, along with other information from a physical exam can determine if there is acute or chronic inflammation occurring in the body.

Diet and exercise are the primary ways to beat inflammation.  Try to avoid processed foods which contain high amounts of sugar and fats.  Increase your level of activity.  This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym everyday.  Adding activity can be as simple as decreasing the amount of time you spend sitting, increasing walking and other activities throughout the day.

The CRP test is offered on our website: www.HealthOneLabs.com. You may read more about inflammation in this article.


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Chocolate – Healthy or Not?

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Some argue that chocolate may help prevent cardiovascular disease and better your memory, but is it true? There have been studies conducted to see if chocolate really was correlated with the prevention of heart disease and dementia and it seems that it’s not really the chocolate that is helping but the flavanols that the cocoa beans contain. Flavanols are bioactive compounds that have a unique blend of phytonutrients which can only be found in the cocoa bean. Although there has not been enough clinical trials to determine whether or not flavanols can help prevent heart disease, flavanols can relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow to the brain.

chocolateChocolate is made with many components but cocoa solids and cocoa fat are the main ones. Cocoa solids are rich in flavanols but the cocoa fat doesn’t have any flavanols at all. Using those two components, plus other ingredients, you can make the four most popular types of chocolate; cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate.

Cocoa powder is produced by fermenting, roasting, and crushing cocoa beans into a paste-type of substance. Then the fat is removed and ground into a fine powder. Naturally processed unsweetened cocoa powder is great for you because it is rich in flavanols and low in calories.

Dark chocolate is made of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. The amount of flavanols you get from dark chocolate varies: You might be getting a high dosage of flavanols but in the process you will also be digesting a lot of calories.

Milk chocolate contains cocoa powder, cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar. It has less cocoa than dark chocolate therefore having less flavanols.  In order to get a high dosage of flavanols from milk chocolate you would have to consume over 1,000 calories of it.

Chocolate is a great source of flavanols but just make sure you watch how much chocolate you eat because it is also high in calories.  Eating chocolate is a great alternative to eating baked goods, so if you eat it in moderation it shouldn’t do you any harm!

Flavanol-rich Food for Thought


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How to Have a Less Stressful Lifestyle

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Having a little bit of stress or pressure on you can often better your productivity and senses, however, having a high amount of stress on you can hinder you from doing everything that you’d like to get done. A lot stress can make you sick both mentally and physically. In order for you to lower your stress level, you need to first identify the symptoms of stress and then take action. If you experience moodiness, trouble falling asleep, negative thoughts and an overwhelming feeling then you might be too stressed out.

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The first step to reduce your stress is to identify the symptoms, and the second is to take action. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and lead a healthier lifestyle. You should try to have a more positive attitude to things that are in your control, don’t worry too much about things that you can’t change. Exercise is key when trying to reduce stress levels, it is recommended to exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. Exercise goes hand in hand with your eating habits. You should strive to eat foods that are high in protein and contain vitamin C, B, and A which help to lower stress. It is also important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, being well rested allows you to have a more positive attitude. You should have a group of people who support you and that you can count on for help, like if there’s something bothering you, you can go to these people and express your feelings. You should never have feelings bottled up, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or a family member about something, seek help from a counselor. Lastly, you should simplify your schedule for the things that are really important in your life, spreading yourself too thin might be the source of your stress.

Take Control of Your Health

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Practice Mindful Eating

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Many times you eat meals, and a couple of hours later you don’t even remember what you ate. It is important that you acknowledge what you’re eating and that you are mindful because this can help lead into healthier eating habits. Lack of awareness of the food you eat may be a huge contributor to the national obesity epidemic. Mindful eating is focusing on what you’re consuming without doing anything else. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change what you eat, but rather how much of it you eat. While practicing mindful eating take into consideration the following:

  1. where you bought your food,
  2. how it was prepared and served, and
  3. how much you consume of it.

Practicing these mindfulness and making them a habit often leads to consuming less junk food and maybe eating smaller portions.

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When trying to practice mindful eating you try using the following checklist to help guide you:

  1. Consider the health value of the food or meal you want to eat, don’t make impulse decisions. If you are at the grocery store, try to get the majority of your food from the produce section and try to avoid processed food.
  2. Eat when you have an appetite but not when you are starving. Skipping meals can cause you to just want to fill the void in your stomach as opposed to actually enjoying your food. You should eat every meal and small snacks in between so that you don’t eat excessively.
  3. Start off with a small portions
  4. Before you begin eating, take a few minutes to appreciate your food and everyone who prepared it
  5. While eating, try to identify all the different ingredients
  6. Take small bites, this allows you to be able to taste all the flavors
  7. Chew thoroughly, you should chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times depending on the food
  8. Eat slowly, if you practice the steps above then this step is a given.

Bon Appetit!


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Is Your Medication Affecting Your Thinking?

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Is your medication affecting your thinking skills? Every time you take medication there are possible side effects:

  • dry mouth,
  • nausea or
  • drowsiness.

brain memory

Certain medication may affect your thinking skills; a lessor known and potentially debilitating side affect:

Anticholinergics, which can be found in over-the-counter and prescription medication, can alter your mental status and put older people at a higher risk for falls. Anticholinergics may be found in medications that treat for muscle spasms, depression, incontinence and allergies.  Many of these medications are taken by the elderly thereby further increasing their risk for falls and cognitive function.

How does Acetylcholine affect the brain?

These common medications can block acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for stimulation and activity in the brain. Slow brain activity caused by the acetylcholine being blocked, leads to confusion. People who are older tend to take more medication which leads to a chemical reaction that may impact the brain activity and also leaving the brain with higher concentration of acetylcholine.  High levels of acetylcholine can eventually cause the body to have a difficult time to rid the chemical out of their bodies quickly.

Considerations for you and your physician

The medication dosages should be based on the patient’s kidney function and your physician can assist with providing you the dosages that can treat symptoms while minimizing negative side affects. Frequently, the side effects of these medications can be mistaken for side effects of old age, so it is important to monitor side effects after starting to take medication with acetylcholine. You should also talk to your physician or pharmacist to find out how much acetylcholine you are taking, and let them know any over-the-counter medicine you are taking to ensure you’re not taking a high dosage of acetylcholine.

Additional reading:  The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory


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