Friday, March 14, 2014

7 ‘Good’ Habits That Are Bad For Your Health

7 seemingly healthy habits that can be bad for your wellbeing

Think you know what’s good for you? You may be surprised. Take a look at these seven seemingly good habits that can actually be bad for your health.

Drinking water

While we are probably all familiar with the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day, more recent research has suggested that there is actually no scientific evidence supporting this recommendation and that drinking excessive amounts of water can actually be dangerous by lowering the concentration of salt in your blood. Health-conscious water drinkers should also be wary of the trend for drinking bottled water, as studies have suggested that the chemicals (phthalates) from plastic bottles can leach into water and disrupt hormone levels.

Talking over your problems

Talking through your problems can be a great way to gain some perspective and get things off your chest. However, studies have suggested that, after a certain point, rehashing and dwelling on problems can actually be bad for your health. According to research, revisiting and analyzing the same problems with friends (“co-rumination”) can lead to anxiety, stress disorders and depression. Next time a problem arises, by all means talk it over with a friend, but try to focus on problem-solving rather than simply dwelling on the issue.

Sipping on mocktails

You may think that by swapping cocktails for mocktails you are doing your health a favour, but this may not actually be the case. While cutting down on alcohol is beneficial for your wellbeing, mocktails are often high in refined sugar which research suggests is just as damaging and addictive as alcohol. For a safer swap and a shot of nutrients, make sure you stick to mocktails made from pure fruit juices instead of those made from syrups.

Early morning workouts

While a daily workout is great for your health, studies suggest that getting up for early morning exercise may not be as ideal as it seems. A study by a researcher from Brunel University, Middlesex, found that heavy training sessions early in the morning can compromise the immune system and put athletes at increased risk of bacterial and viral infection. While a morning jog or gentle exercise session is unlikely to put you at risk, it may be better to save heavier workouts for later in the day.

Taking nutritional supplements

We all know that vitamins are good for us, but relying on nutritional supplements can actually be bad for your health. Separate studies have shown that high doses of vitamin supplements including iron, magnesium and vitamin B6 raise the death rate of older women, while taking vitamin E can increase men’s risk of prostate cancer. While certain people may be required to take vitamins (those with low levels of vitamin D, for example, or vegans who may be deficient in vitamin B12), for most people a better approach is to opt for a varied diet full of fruit and vegetables which will give you all the nutrients you need.

Slathering on sunscreen

Official advice for many years has warned about the dangers of skin cancer, causing many of us to take measures to cover up in the sun at all times. However, while it is extremely important to protect your skin, experts have more recently advised that little and frequent sun exposure is good for us, preventing vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to rickets, osteomalacia and depression. Official advice in the UK, where rickets has recently made a comeback, is to spend 10 minutes in the midday sun without sunblock each day before covering skin up.

Switching to low fat foods

When getting started in healthy eating, it is tempting to opt for low fat foods in order to help keep off excess pounds. However, cutting out ‘good’ fats such as omega-3 fatty acids could be detrimental to your health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds, not only help to keep skin supple and wrinkle-free, they are also essential for good brain and heart health and can help prevent arthritis.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

8 worst habits you need to give up - And reasons why you need to quit

Everyone has bad habits from overdoing it on the booze to watching fantastically mindless, trashy TV. But although some things might seem like a hard habit to break, there are often really good health reasons why we should stop. So with that in mind, here’s our top 8 worst habits that really need to go.


This is one of the classic New Year resolutions that so many people make and yet so many fail to break. Research has consistently highlighted just why smoking is bad for you.  Cancer, heart disease and long-term respiratory problems are just some of the health risks associated with the habit. It kills over 100,000 in the UK annually and over 400,000 in the USA. And it’s anti-social. So go on. Say no to nicotine.


When you wake up with a hangover, it’s a fairly common reaction to ponder the point of over-indulging on the alcohol front. But as well as adding pounds we don’t need in areas we don’t need them, too much alcohol can lead to a stroke, cardiac arrest, liver problems and heart issues. Indeed a recent study at University College London found that almost half of adults in the UK are binge drinkers. Time to hit the wagon huh?

Too much caffeine

Nothing beats that first cup of tea or coffee in the morning to beat the bleary eyes, but could you live without it?  Although we might think of the USA as the coffee capital of the world, Europeans consume more caffeine than anyone, with the UK 15th in the world charts.  Too much caffeine accelerates the heart rate and leads to insomnia, headaches and irritability. That said it can have a beneficial effect on fat-burning and exercise, so why not think about limiting your intake instead.

Junk food

Practically everyone has had the munchies after a night out and succumbed to a kebab or a burger and chips. The trouble is, that kind of food is full of empty calories. That means your body can’t effectively convert junk food into anything other than fat. So eat before you go out and salmon makes for the perfect pre-party evening meal. Not only is it an amazing source of protein, but it also contains all sorts of other benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids, which improve cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation throughout the body. Protein also lessens the effects of alcohol, as it takes a long time for your body to digest and minimises alcohol absorption.

Fizzy drinks/soda

Yes they taste good but no, they aren’t good for you. Apart from their teeth-rotting potential, fizzy drinks are packed with sugar, calories and caffeine. There are 139 calories in a can of Coca Cola, which is 14% of a woman’s recommended daily allowance. So yes, have one as an occasional treat, but come on, have a healthy fruit smoothie instead and radiate vitality and a Hollywood smile.

Too much technology

Research has shown recently that children’s thumbs are actually getting bigger because of the amount of time they spend texting and on tablets/android technology. We all do it, check our phones and tablets and play pointless computer games when we could be outdoors getting some fresh air. So ditch the technology. Angry Birds can wait. A gorgeous sunset can’t.

Vegging out in front of the TV

According to a Belgian study, people can consume up to 71% more food when they watch TV. When you do the maths that means that if you watch more than 19 hours of TV a week (and it adds up very quickly), you suddenly have a whopping 97% chance of being overweight. As if that wasn’t bad enough, TV isn’t great for engaging the brain either. Why? Because researchers at Case Western Reserve University discovered that for every hour beyond 80 minutes you watch, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases by 30%. Wow. Time to read a book and do something active in the evenings.

Late night eating

Eating late at night is a sure fire way to pile on the pounds. US researchers have discovered that our internal organs have a body clock, which means they are more effective at certain times of the day than others. So, if you eat late at night, when the liver and intestines are not at their peak intensity, you could be asking for trouble and a bigger waistline.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

7 Reasons Why You Have Bad Breath

We all get bad breath sometimes, but if yours is becoming a chronic issue, you need to get to the root of the problem. For the most part, halitosis -- the fancy medical term for stinky breath -- just means you need better dental hygiene, but sometimes it signals a more serious medical condition. Here are some potential causes to watch out for.

1. You're not taking care of your teeth.
Bad dental hygiene causes about 85% of halitosis, according to a 2012 study in the International Journal of Oral Science. "Food that is not properly cleared from the mouth serves as a platform for bacteria to latch onto," says Marc Gibber, M.D. an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) at Montefiore Medical Center. Since germs like wet, warm environments, if you don't clean your mouth properly, it can become a cesspool and start to smell -- bacteria produce the sulfur compounds that give off that infamous rotten-egg stench. Brush and floss twice daily, and don't forget to scrape your tongue, too. "These living-without-oxygen bacteria will collect in the back part of the tongue," says dentist Richard H. Price, an American Dental Association consumer adviser.

2. You're not drinking enough water.
Being dehydrated can make you produce too little saliva, which is a problem because saliva washes away those smell-causing bacteria. "The saliva we produce will keep the cells in the mouth alive," says Gibber. "When we decrease the saliva, the cells will start to die off." Dead, rotting cells stink. Drink water: Nutritionists recommend six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day. Green tea helps hydrate, too -- and a 2012 Israeli study found the antioxidants in it change some of the sulfur compounds in bad breath.

3. You're dehydrated because of allergies.
People with allergies who can't breathe through their noses end up breathing through their mouth, which is also drying, says Dale Amanda Tylor, M.D., MPH, general and pediatric otolaryngologist in Freemont, Calif. If you have allergies, make sure to treat your congestion -- and also hydrate.

4. You're eating too much of the wrong stuff.
It's a no-brainer that garlic causes bad breath, and we bet you already know to pack your (sugar-free) breath mints when heading out to the Italian restaurant. But did you know that milk products can thicken nasal mucus and lead to a sulfurous smell? "Many professional singers will tell you they try to avoid dairy products so they have a clear voice and don't have that mucus," says dentist Martha Ann Keels, division chief for pediatric dentistry at Duke Children's Hospital. It can't hurt to go easy on the bread and pasta either. "High-carbohydrate foods promote more bacteria because they're high in sugar," says Baldeep Singh, M.D., clinical chief of internal medicine at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. "Eating fibrous foods may help."

5. You have a sinus or tonsil infection.
"Infection can fester in the sinuses," says Singh, which leads to bad smells. Go to a doctor who can prescribe you antibiotics. Clearing out your sinuses with a Neti pot or Neilmed sinus rinse in a squirt bottle can often help too, says James N. Palmer, M.D., an otolaryngologist and director of rhinology at the University of Pennsylvania. Multiple tonsil infections or cases of strep throat can result in tonsil stones, which are calcium stones that feel like little pebbles in the back of the throat -- and emit a strong odor, says Gibber. The best treatment is an old-fashioned salt-water gargle because the high salt content kills bacteria, says Palmer. Add a tablespoon of salt to six ounces of warm water and gargle with it every morning for two or three days. After the salt rinse, eat yogurt with live active cultures -- good bacteria.

6. You have acid reflux.
People with heartburn are "burping up stomach acid, and that's on their breath," says Keels. It produces an acidic, vinegary smell. "A lot of people just think of reflux as heartburn, indigestion," says Tylor. "[But] it can even go as high as the sinuses or the ears." How to prevent it? "Everything good is bad for reflux -- alcohol, citrusy things, cinnamon, chocolate," says Tylor.

7. You have a more serious condition, like cancer.
In very rare cases, extremely bad breath can be one of the warning signs of cancer in the nose, ear, neck, or throat. "It's what we call amongst ourselves the cancer smell," says Gibber. "It's a kind of sour, cheesy smell." People who have been exposed to radiation, such as those with head and neck cancers, make less mucus -- which makes their breath smellier. But remember that bad dental hygiene is a far, far more common cause of bad breath, so don't panic.

Monday, March 10, 2014

9 Habits that Mess with Your Hormones

The seemingly innocent habits that throw your body for a loop
By Esther Crain, Women's Health
Admit it: any time you feel off or out of whack and have no idea why, you probably chalk it up to hormones, right? The crazy thing is, you're probably right. These chemical messengers buzzing around inside you pretty much rule your entire system, influencing your appetite, weight, sex drive, cycle, and more. But hormonal weirdness isn't just a random occurrence over which you have no control. Certain behaviors can cause them to surge or sink--and do a number on your body in the process. Check out these nine habits that can screw them up and alter your mental and physical health.
Your Candy Bar Addiction

Eating foods with too much added sugar is directly linked to weight gain--and excess pounds can lead your body to become resistant to insulin, the hormone that moves sugar into your bloodstream so your cells can get the energy they need, says Holly Phillips, M.D., a women's health specialist in New York City and medical correspondent for CBS News. The result: a precursor to diabetes called metabolic syndrome or even full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Stressing Out Late at Night
Normally, levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop at nighttime, which helps you wind down and sleep. But becoming anxious or tense in the p.m. means your cortisol levels keep surging, so you're too wired to catch Zzz's, says Phillips.

Regular Bouts of Insomnia

It's a vicious cycle: Lack of sleep raises cortisol levels, and cortisol cranks up your blood sugar…which then plunges, making you stressed and craving junk food, says Phillips. Start scoring more snooze time, and your cortisol levels will even out.

Or Just One Night of Sleep Deprivation
When you sleep, levels of a hunger-related hormone called leptin surge, signaling to your body that you don't need to eat. Toss and turn all night, and your body won't produce the right amount of leptin--so you'll feel extra hungry the next day and be more prone to weight gain.

Late-Afternoon Starbucks Runs
Cortisol is the culprit again here: Caffeine signals to your body to boost production of cortisol, which can make you feel anxious and definitely not in a sleep-well mindset. Limit yourself to no more than two regular-size cups of joe a day, preferably before 3 or 4 p.m.

Your Spotty Attendance at the Gym

Without regular exercise, your body won't produce and release the optimal amount of endorphins, says Phillips. You know endorphins: They're the feel-good chemicals in the brain that make you feel positive and alert. They also keep your immune system functioning well and increase levels of sex hormones so you score a libido lift. The more you move (cardio, Pilates, hiking, any kind of activity), the more endorphins your body will produce.

Crash Diets

A plunge in body-fat levels due to either a super low-calorie weight-loss regimen or intense exercise sessions lowers estrogen levels, halting your cycle until your body fat returns to a healthy level, says Phillips. Scary stuff.

Skimping on Cardio
You know how a heart-pumping workout can make you temporarily forget about where to go for dinner? It has to do with the way aerobic exercise prompts a drop in levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which suppresses appetite, studies show.

Easing PMS With a Sweet Treat

Besides leaving you wired, sugar also does a number on brain chemicals that are already thrown for a loop during your PMS week. If your premenstrual symptoms leave you cranky and moody, sugar will just make you feel like more of a basket case, says Phillips

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are you confused about fats and oils in your diet?

There has been a trend to eliminate fats to lose weight and try to be healthy.  Eliminating dietary fats is not good for the body.
We need dietary fats.  It is impossible to eliminate them totally as fat is found in most foods; even green peas and carrots have small amounts of fat in them.

Dietary fats help with many basic functions in the body:
  • Protects your organs
  • Helps keep your body warm. 
  • Fats help your body absorb “fat-soluble” vitamins A, D, E and K and stores them in the liver and in fatty tissues for future use.
  • Cholesterol which is created by fat produces important hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
 Yes, we need fat but usually not as much as we usually eat.
 There are three main dietary fats. Each fat has different chemical structures and physical properties.
  1. Unsaturated Fats (called the good fats) can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation and stabilize heart rhythms. They are liquids at room temperature.
Two types of unsaturated fats:
  • Monosaturated Fats are found in high concentrations in olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats are found in high concentrations in sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, walnuts, flax seeds, and fish.  Omega-3 fats are one important type of polyunsaturated fat. The body can’t make these, so they must come from food.
Most of us don’t get enough of these healthy unsaturated fats. The traditional Greek diet gets up to 30 percent of its calories from monounsaturated fats, mostly from olive oil.
  1. Trans Fats raises bad cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease. Even worse they lower good cholesterol!  The American Heart Association advises to limit trans fat daily consumption to less than 1%. 
 Scientists have now established that trans fats found in many fast foods, bakery products, and margarines—increase the risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammatory processes.
  1. Saturated Fats according to old research raises blood cholesterol levels. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Foods containing saturated fat include: Lard, pork, regular ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, full-fat cheese, ice cream, whole milk, sour cream, butter, palm oil, coconut oil, chicken and turkey skin.
The Cholesterol Myth 
Cholesterol is a natural part of our body; we have between 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams of cholesterol in our body at any time depending on our body size. Three quarters of it is produced our body’s liver and a one quarter comes from our diet and much of that is unable to be absorbed by our body. We have a sophisticated control system that controls the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production.  When there is not enough cholesterol coming in – your body makes more.  When there is too much coming in our body makes less.

Saturated fats like butter and coconut oil have a bad public image.  Research studies in both animals and humans more than half a century ago has said it raises blood cholesterol and causes heart disease. Coconut oil research used hydrogenated coconut oil which is a trans fat.  Also, these studies were for only a few weeks, not long term.  There are recent studies of a higher quality that does not support it.
  • Data from 21 studies with nearly 348,000 adults found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
Unsaturated Oil is Not as Good as We Thought!
Unsaturated oils in cooked foods become rancid within a few hours, even in the refrigerator. Once fresh unsaturated fats are inside the body, they oxidize (turn rancid). Coconut oil does not go rancid even after one year at room temperature. Even ghee, made from butter, will last for 3 to 6 months at room temperature. Most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is easy to digest and converts into quick energy so people are less likely to become obese, as the fat is not stored.

To quote Dr. Mary Enig: “The research over four decades concerning coconut oil in the diet and heart disease is quite clear: coconut oil has been shown to be beneficial.” Coconut oil has been used as cooking oil for thousands of years.

Stay Away From Trans Fats!
Remember when they told us to eat margarine instead of butter?  It turns out that most margarine is filled with trans fats and butter is fine when used in moderation.
The real problem-fats in our diets are the trans fats also known as hydrogenated oils; they are found in most processed food, including margarine, potato chips, baked goods etc. They are toxic, blocking absorption of essential fatty acids and raising blood cholesterol.

All Fat Have Calories!
Also, whether it is olive oil, ghee, butter or coconut oil … they are all 100 percent fat! No matter how good the oil sounds…..remember that it is still a fat, with 120 calories per tablespoon. Consuming a high fat diet may lead to becoming overweight and that is not healthy!