7 Tricks to a Speedier Metabolism

By Lucy Danziger, the Editor-in-Chief of SELF magazine

1. Scrimping on shut-eye

Catching zzz’s may help you stay slim, reveals research presented at the annual American Thoracic Society meeting in San Diego. In the study of more than 68,000 women, those who slept seven hours weighed 5.5 pounds less than women who slept five hours or less. Pulling frequent all-nighters may slow your metabolism, impairing your body’s ability to utilize food and nutrients as energy so they get stored as fat instead, scientists say.

2. Stressing out

When you’re on edge, you’re likely to sleep less and eat more, which can affect your thyroid, a gland that produces hormones which regulate metabolism, body temperature, heart rate and more. If your thyroid’s not producing enough of those hormones, it can slow your metabolism and other body functions, leading to weight gain, depression and fatigue. Take time for yourself daily to keep both your thyroid and metabolism humming at optimal levels.

3. Skipping breakfast

People often tell me they hate breakfast foods; I tell them, find something you can eat within an hour of waking up! Missing a morning meal is the worst thing you can do. It slows metabolism and depletes your body of the fuel it needs to function optimally, explains celebrity nutritionist Joy Bauer, R.D. But what you eat matters as much as the fact that you eat something. Simple, unrefined carbohydrates—as in a breakfast muffin or pastry—signal the brain to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that brings on calm when you most want to be up and at ’em. Also, your body digests simple carbs quickly, sending blood sugar soaring and then plummeting, resulting in an energy crash. Try to start each day with a breakfast that contains at least 5 grams of protein, which activates the production of norepinephrine, a neurochemical that increase heart rate and alertness. The nutrient also digests slowly, so blood sugar and energy levels stay stable. Try an omelet made with 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 oz lowfat shredded cheese; it delivers an impressive 22 g protein per serving.

4. Staying seated

Get out of that chair! Staying on your feet revs metabolism and doubles your calorie burn during workdays, a study in Diabetes reports. Sitting for a few hours switches off enzymes that capture fat in the bloodstream, but standing up and getting active reignites them. Surrender your seat when possible (e.g., during phone calls) to start reaping benefits.

5. Eating junk food

I love a French cruller as much as the next gal, but it turns out doughnuts can be double diet trouble. Not only do sugary, fatty treats add calories and fat to your daily tally (a Dunkin’ Donuts cruller packs 250 calories and 20 g fat), but they can also encourage your body to store more fat. Junk food might stimulate a gene that encourages your body to store excess fat, causing you to gain weight over time, a study in The FASEB Journal reveals. (In the study, mice without the troublemaking gene had 45 percent lower body fat after eating a high-fat and high-sugar diet for 16 weeks compared to critters with the gene who ate the same diet.) Quell a sweet craving with berries or an orange: They’re high in vitamin C, a nutrient that can help you sizzle up to 30 percent more fat during exercise, suggests research from Arizona State University at Mesa.

6. Falling into a workout rut

I hear it all the time: “I’ve almost reached my goal weight, but those last 5 (stubborn!) pounds just won’t come off.” Sound familiar? Weight loss can stall along the way partly because you get smaller. As you shrink, there is less of you to provide energy for, so you actually start to need fewer calories. These plateaus can last weeks, so rather than get frustrated, try new workouts or ways to eat healthy to keep your metabolism going strong and your body burning even more calories than before.

7. Dodging the weight room

Although cardio sessions turn up the heat and burn big-time calories (which is why I run, bike or swim most mornings and still enjoy dessert!), lifting weights helps you build calorie-burning lean muscle, says Jeffrey Garber, M.D., author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Overcoming Thyroid Problems (McGraw-Hill). And with more lean muscle, you extend the burn to when you’re just sitting at your desk or in the car. Add weight-bearing exercises like planks, lunges, squats and tricep dips to your workouts three times a week, and you’ll see toning results like you’ve never experienced before!

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Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Uncategorized


9 Fixes for Everyday Clutter

1. “I don’t have enough towel space, despite having a towel rack.”
Use a coat rack instead. You can maximize the space in a small bathroom by standing a coat rack in the corner. A coat rack is perfect for hanging towels and bathrobes without taking up much horizontal space. Plus, your items will dry quickly.

2. “Shoes have overrun my closet.”
Store and stack your shoes in clear plastic containers so you can quickly select the pair you want to wear. If you can’t bring yourself to throw the cardboard shoe boxes out, label each box so you can easily identify what’s in it without lifting the lid.

3. “My kids never hang their coats in the front-hall closet.”

Put hooks within reach. Your little ones may be staging a coat hanging strike because the hooks are too high. Install a second coat rack below the main one in the front-hall closet–this will be the perfect height for hanging the kids’ jackets and it’s a great trick for creating more storage in your closet.

4. “I need even more clothes storage.”

Use big baskets. Creative use of baskets can make up for a lack of closet space. Large wicker baskets with flat lids that look like trunks can easily hold more folded sweaters or T-shirts than a drawer. Plus you can use these baskets as bedside tables or coffee tables.

5. “I want to store my magazines where I can find them.”

Space-saving magazine racks are available at home improvement stores. You might attach a six-tiered magazine rack to the back of a door with wood screws, for example. Or keep magazines in upright magazine holders on a bookshelf so they will be within easy reach but out of the way.

6. “My pantry isn’t big enough.”

Add shelves to your door. If your walls and floor are jammed with cans and boxes, look behind you: Is the back of your pantry door being used effectively? Install narrow shelves or hanging racks on the door to hold frequently needed items such as spices, condiments, and snacks.

7. “I keep collecting hotel shampoos and conditioners.”

Make a basket for house guests. There may be something in human nature that requires us to snap up all those complimentary toiletries. To make use of your collection, stock a small wicker basket with a couple of hotel-size shampoos, conditioners, and lotions. Put the basket out on your bathroom counter when you have guests. Donate the rest to a shelter.

8. “My den is inundated with catalogs.”

Use a large file folder. Keeping catalogs “just in case” can use up a lot of den or family room space. Buy an accordion-style file folder to hold catalogs you are not ready to throw out. Give each catalog a two-month life span. After that, throw them out. You can also save space by jotting down the web sites of each company and going online the next time you want to place an order.

9. “I don’t have much room to store out-of-season clothes.”

Use vacuum seal bags. You can store seldom-used clothes in very little space if you use vacuum-seal bags, which are available at hardware stores. The clothes compress and are totally safe from insects and dust.

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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


8 Smart Strategies to Make Your Home Dust-Proof

By Gary Wentz

1. Keep closet floors clear for easy cleaning.
Closets are dust reservoirs, full of tiny fibers from clothes, towels and bedding. Every time you open the door, you whip up an invisible dust storm. You can’t prevent clothes from shedding fibers, but you can make closets easier to keep clean and vastly cut down on dust.

  • Box or bag items on shelves.
    Clear plastic containers are best — they lock fibers in and dust out and let you see what’s inside. When you dust, they’re easy to pull off the shelves and wipe clean.
  • Enclose the clothes you rarely wear.
    Those coats you wear only in winter shed fibers year-round. Slip garment bags or large garbage bags over them. They help to contain fibers and keep the clothes themselves from becoming coated with dust.
  • Keep closet floors clear.
    If the floor is cluttered, chances are you’ll just bypass it while vacuuming. But a wide-open floor adds only a few seconds to the vacuuming chore. And a wire shelf lets you clear all those shoes off the floor without losing storage space.

2. Upgrade your furnace filter.
If your home has a forced-air heating or cooling system, it can help control dust by filtering the air. Most visible dust settles on floors and furniture before it can enter the heating/cooling system, so no filter will eliminate dusting chores. Still, a filter upgrade can make a noticeable improvement.

The most effective system is an electrostatic filter connected to your ductwork ($700 to $1,500, professionally installed). An electrostatic filter may be worth the expense if you have allergies. But if you just want to reduce dust buildup, it’s smarter to spend $40 to $100 per year on high-quality disposable filters. A standard fiberglass filter traps only the largest dust particles. It’s effective enough to protect your furnace but does almost nothing to reduce household dust. Better filters are made from pleated fabric or paper. Most pleated filters also carry an electrostatic charge that attracts and holds dust. A pleated filter can capture virtually all the visible dust that reaches it. Manufacturers usually recommend that you change these filters every three months, but you should check them monthly, especially if you have cats or dogs, and replace them if they’re dirty. Dirty pleated filters can restrict airflow and damage your furnace.

3. Rotate bedding weekly.
Your cozy bed is a major dust distributor. The bedding collects skin flakes, sheds its own fibers and sends out a puff of dust every time you roll over. To minimize the fallout, wash sheets and pillowcases weekly. Items that aren’t machine washable don’t need weekly trips to the dry cleaners — just take blankets and bedspreads outside and shake them. You can spank some of the dust out of pillows, but for a thorough cleaning, wash or dry-clean them. When you change bedding, don’t whip up a dust storm. Gently roll up the old sheets and spread out the new ones; even clean bedding sheds fibers.

4. Capture dust — don’t just spread it around.
Feather dusters and dry rags pick up some of the dust they disturb, but most of it just settles elsewhere. Damp rags or disposable cloths that attract and hold dust with an electrostatic charge (like Swiffer or Grab-it) work much better. Cloths that attract dust with oils or waxes also work well but can leave residue on furniture. Use vacuum attachments only on surfaces that are hard to dust with a cloth, such as rough surfaces and intricate woodwork, because the exhaust stream from a vacuum whips up a dust storm.

5. Beat and shake area rugs.
In most homes, carpet is by far the biggest dust reservoir. It’s a huge source of fibers and absorbs dust like a giant sponge. Even the padding underneath holds dust, which goes airborne with each footstep. Some serious allergy sufferers find that the only solution is to tear out wall-to-wall carpet and install hard flooring like wood or tile. Those of us who don’t want to take that drastic step have to vacuum regularly. Vacuum pathways and busy areas at least once a week. The dust that gathers under chairs or behind the sofa is less important. It stays put unless it’s disturbed by a toddler, a pet or a breeze. Vacuum large area rugs too. But also take them outside three or four times a year for a more thorough cleaning. Drape them over a fence or clothesline and beat them with a broom or tennis racket. A good beating removes much more dust than vacuuming. Take smaller rugs outside for a vigorous shaking every week.

6. Take cushions out for a beating.
Upholstery fabric not only sheds its own fibers but also absorbs dust that settles on it. You raise puffs of dust every time you sit down. The only way to eliminate upholstery dust is to buy leather- or vinyl-covered furniture. But there are three ways to reduce dust on fabric:

  • Dust settles mostly on horizontal surfaces; vacuum them weekly. Vacuum vertical surfaces monthly.
  • Take cushions outside and beat the dust out of them. An old tennis racket works well and lets you practice your backhand. A thorough beating removes deeply embedded dust better than vacuuming.
  • Slipcovers for chairs and sofas are easy to pull off and take outdoors for a shaking. Better yet, some are machine washable. Slipcovers are readily available at discount and home furnishings stores and online.

Do air cleaners reduce dusting?
An effective air cleaner removes large and small particles from the air in a single room. Within that space, it can relieve allergy or asthma symptoms and even reduce smoke and cooking odors. But don’t expect it to relieve you of dusting duty. Air cleaners are sized to filter a small area, so only a small portion of the airborne dust in your home will ever reach the unit. For air cleaners to have a real effect on overall dust levels, you would need one unit in every room — at a cost of $60 to $500 per room.

7. Clean the air while you clean house.
All vacuums whip up dust with their “agitator” (the cylindrical brush that sweeps the carpet) or blowing exhaust stream. That dust eventually settles on the surfaces you’ve just cleaned. But if your forced-air heating/cooling system is equipped with a good filter, you can filter out some of that dust before it settles. Just switch your thermostat to “fan on.” This turns on the blower inside your furnace and filters the air even while the system isn’t heating or cooling. Leave the blower on for about 15 minutes after you’re done cleaning. But don’t forget to switch back to “auto.” Most blowers aren’t designed to run constantly.

8. Match the vacuum to the flooring.
Suction alone isn’t enough to pull much dust out of carpet. For good results, you need a vacuum with a powerful agitator. Upright vacuums are usually best for carpet, although some canister vacuums with agitators work well, too. When it comes to wood, tile or vinyl flooring, your best choice is a canister vacuum without an agitator (or with an agitator that can be turned off). An agitator does more harm than good on hard flooring because it blows dust into the air.

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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


15 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

1. “Gourmet” frozen vegetables.
Sure, you can buy an 8-ounce packet of peas in an herbed butter sauce, but why do so when you can make your own? Just cook the peas, add a pat of butter and sprinkle on some herbs that you already have on hand. The same thing goes for carrots with dill sauce and other gourmet veggies.

2. Microwave sandwiches.
When you buy a pre-made sandwich, you’re really just paying for its elaborate packaging — plus a whole lot of salt, fat, and unnecessary additives. For the average cost of one of these babies ($2.50 to $3.00 per sandwich), you could make a bigger, better, and more nutritious version yourself.

3. Premium frozen fruit bars.
At nearly $2 per bar, frozen “all fruit” or “fruit and juice” bars may not be rich in calories, but they are certainly rich in price. Make your own at home — and get the flavors you want. The only equipment you need is a blender, a plastic reusable ice-pop mold (on sale at discount stores for about 99 cents each), or small paper cups and pop sticks or wooden skewers.

To make four pops, just throw 2 cups cut-up fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. You might wish to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water so the final mix is a thick slush. Pour into 4-ounce pop molds or paper cups, insert sticks, and freeze until solid.

4. Boxed rice “entree” or side-dish mixes.
These consist basically of rice, salt, and spices — yet they’re priced way beyond the ingredients sold individually. Yes, there are a few flavorings included, but they’re probably ones you have in your pantry already. Buy a bag of rice, measure out what you need, add your own herbs and other seasonings, and cook the rice according to package directions.

5. Energy or protein bars.
These calorie-laden bars are usually stacked at the checkout counter because they depend on impulse buyers who grab them, thinking they are more wholesome than a candy bar. Unfortunately, they can have very high fat and sugar contents and are often as caloric as a regular candy bar. They’re also two to three times more expensive than a candy bar at $2 to $3 a bar. If you need a boost, a vitamin-rich piece of fruit, a yogurt, or a small handful of nuts is more satiating and less expensive!

6. Spice mixes.
Spice mixes like grill seasoning and rib rubs might seem like a good buy because they contain a lot of spices that you would have to buy individually. Well, check the label; we predict the first ingredient you will see on the package is salt, followed by the vague “herbs and spices.” Look in your own pantry, and you’ll probably be surprised to discover just how many herbs you already have on hand. Many cookbooks today include spice mix recipes, particularly grilling cookbooks. But the great thing about spice mixes is that you can improvise as much as you want. Make your own custom combos and save a fortune.

7. Powdered iced tea mixes or prepared flavored iced tea.
Powdered and gourmet iced teas are really a rip-off! It’s much cheaper to make your own iced tea from actual (inexpensive) tea bags and keep a jug in the fridge. Plus, many mixes and preparations are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, along with artificial flavors. So make your own, and get creative! To make 32 ounces of iced tea, it usually takes 8 bags of black tea or 10 bags of herbal, green, or white tea. Most tea-bag boxes have recipes, so just follow along. If you like your tea sweet but want to keep calories down, skip the sugar and add fruit juice instead.

8. Bottled water.
Bottled water is a bad investment for so many reasons. It’s expensive compared to what’s coming out of the tap, its cost to the environment is high (it takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce and ship all those bottles), and it’s not even better for your health than the stuff running down your drain!

Even taking into account the cost of filters, water from home is still much cheaper than bottled water, which can run up to $1 to $3 a pop.

If you have well water and it really does not taste good (even with help from a filter), or if you have a baby at home who is bottle-fed and needs to drink safe water, buy jugs of distilled or “nursery” water at big discount stores. They usually cost between 79 cents and 99 cents for 1 gallon (as opposed to $1.50 for 8 ounces of “designer” water). And you can reuse the jugs to store homemade iced tea, flavored waters, or, when their tops are cut off, all sorts of household odds and ends.

9. Salad kits.
Washed and bagged greens can be a time-saver, but they can cost three times as much as buying the same amount of a head of lettuce. Even more expensive are “salad kits,” where you get some greens, a small bag of dressing, and a small bag of croutons. Skip these altogether. Make your own croutons by toasting cut-up stale bread you would otherwise toss, and try mixing your own salad dressing.

10. Individual servings of anything.
The recent trend to package small quantities into 100-calorie snack packs is a way for food-makers to get more money from unsuspecting consumers. The price “per unit” cost of these items is significantly more than if you had just bought one big box of cheese crackers or bag of chips. This is exactly what you should do. Buy the big box and then parcel out single servings and store them in small, reusable storage bags.

11. Trail mix.
We checked unit prices of those small bags of trail mix hanging in the candy aisle not that long ago and were shocked to find that they cost about $10 a pound! Make your own for much, much less with a 1-pound can of dry roasted peanuts, 1 cup of raisins, and a handful of almonds, dried fruit, and candy coated chocolate. The best part about making your own is that you only include the things you like! Keep the mixture in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid for up to 3 weeks.

12. “Snack” or “lunch” packs.
These “all-inclusive” food trays might seem reasonably priced (from $2.50 to $4.00), but you’re actually paying for the highly designed label, wrapper, and specially molded tray. They only contain a few crackers and small pieces of cheese and lunchmeat. The actual edible ingredients are worth just pennies and are filled with salt.

13. Gourmet ice cream.
It’s painful to watch someone actually pay $6 for a gallon of designer brand ice cream. Don’t bother. There’s usually at least one brand or other on sale, and you can easily dress up store brands with your own additives like chunky bits of chocolate or crushed cookie. If you do like the premium brands, wait for that 3-week sales cycle to kick in and stock up when your favorite flavor is half price.

14. Pre-formed meat patties.
Frozen burgers, beef or otherwise, are more expensive than buying the ground meat in bulk and making patties yourself. We timed it — it takes less than 10 seconds to form a flat circle and throw it on the grill! Also, there’s some evidence that pre-formed meat patties might contain more e. coli than regular ground meat. In fact, most of the recent beef recalls have involved pre-made frozen beef patties. Fresh is definitely better!

15. Tomato-based pasta sauces.
A jar of spaghetti sauce typically runs $2 to $6. The equivalent amount of canned tomatoes is often under $1. Our suggestion: Make your own sauces from canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes — particularly in the summer, when they are plentiful, tasty, and cheap. The easiest method is to put crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh) into a skillet, stir in some wine or wine vinegar, a little sugar, your favorite herbs, and whatever chopped vegetables you like in your sauce — peppers, onions, mushrooms, even carrots — and let simmer for an hour. Adjust the flavorings and serve. Even better: Coat fresh tomatoes and the top of a cooking sheet with olive oil and roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes at 425˚F before making your stovetop sauce. Delicioso!

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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


Ways to Get Lucky

By Richard Wiseman

Live a Charmed Life
To investigate scientifically why some people are consistently lucky and others aren’t, I advertised in national periodicals for volunteers of both varieties. Four hundred men and women from all walks of life — ages 18 to 84 — responded.

Over a ten-year period, I interviewed these volunteers, asked them to complete diaries, personality questionnaires and IQ tests, and invited them to my laboratory for experiments. Lucky people, I found, get that way via some basic principles — seizing chance opportunities; creating self-fulfilling prophecies through positive expectations; and adopting a resilient attitude that turns bad luck around.

Open Your Mind
Consider chance opportunities: Lucky people regularly have them; unlucky people don’t. To determine why, I gave lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to tell me how many photos were inside. On average, unlucky people spent about two minutes on this exercise; lucky people spent seconds. Why? Because on the paper’s second page — in big type — was the message “Stop counting: There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” Lucky people tended to spot the message. Unlucky ones didn’t. I put a second one halfway through the paper: “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” Again, the unlucky people missed it.

The lesson: Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they’re too busy looking for something else. Lucky people see what is there rather than just what they’re looking for.

This is only part of the story. Many of my lucky participants tried hard to add variety to their lives. Before making important decisions, one altered his route to work. Another described a way of meeting people. He noticed that at parties he usually talked to the same type of person. To change this, he thought of a color and then spoke only to guests wearing that color — women in red, say, or men in black.

Does this technique work? Well, imagine living in the center of an apple orchard. Each day you must collect a basket of apples. At first, it won’t matter where you look. The entire orchard will have apples. Gradually, it becomes harder to find apples in places you’ve visited before. If you go to new parts of the orchard each time, the odds of finding apples will increase dramatically. It is exactly the same with luck.

Relish the Upside
Another important principle revolved around the way in which lucky and unlucky people deal with misfortune. Imagine representing your country in the Olympics. You compete, do well, and win a bronze medal. Now imagine a second Olympics. This time you do even better and win a silver medal. How happy do you think you’d feel? Most of us think we’d be happier after winning the silver medal.

But research suggests athletes who win bronze medals are actually happier. This is because silver medalists think that if they’d performed slightly better, they might have won a gold medal. In contrast, bronze medalists focus on how if they’d performed slightly worse, they wouldn’t have won anything. Psychologists call this ability to imagine what might have happened, rather than what actually happened, “counter-factual” thinking.

To find out if lucky people use counter-factual thinking to ease the impact of misfortune, I asked my subjects to imagine being in a bank. Suddenly, an armed robber enters and fires a shot that hits them in the arms. Unlucky people tended to say this would be their bad luck to be in the bank during the robbery. Lucky people said it could have been worse: “You could have been shot in the head.” This kind of thinking makes people feel better about themselves, keeps expectations high, and increases the likelihood of continuing to live a lucky life.

Learn to Be Lucky
Finally, I created a series of experiments examining whether thought and behavior can enhance good fortune.

First came one-on-one meetings, during which participants completed questionnaires that measured their luck and their satisfaction with six key areas of their lives. I then outlined the main principles of luck, and described techniques designed to help participants react like lucky people. For instance, they were taught how to be more open to opportunities around them, how to break routines, and how to deal with bad luck by imagining things being worse. They were asked to carry out specific exercises for a month and then report back to me.

The results were dramatic: 80 percent were happier and more satisfied with their lives — and luckier. One unlucky subject said that after adjusting her attitude — expecting good fortune, not dwelling on the negative — her bad luck had vanished. One day, she went shopping and found a dress she liked. But she didn’t buy it, and when she returned to the store in a week, it was gone. Instead of slinking away disappointed, she looked around and found a better dress — for less. Events like this made her a much happier person.

Her experience shows how thoughts and behavior affect the good and bad fortune we encounter. It proves that the most elusive of holy grails — an effective way of taking advantage of the power of luck — is available to us all.

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Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized


10 Ways to Eat Like a Dietitian

Food Network star Ellie Krieger shares her secrets.
– Jane Farrell,

1. Have a good breakfast. As many times as we’ve all heard this, Ellie says it’s a “key habit.” Her recommendations: whole-grain cereals, plus seasonal berries, in skim milk. Look for “whole grain,” not “multi grain” on cereal boxes; whole grains are healthier. “I also love old-fashioned, steel-cut rolled oats,” she says.

2. Eat seasonally. If you know what produce is in season, you can choose the fruits and vegetables that are freshest (and haven’t been trucked in from thousands of miles away.) If you’re craving a fruit or vegetable that isn’t in season, Ellie suggests buying an equally healthy frozen version – without sauce, butter or sugar.

3. Shop at the right time. Ask your supermarket when its produce is delivered, and shop then. Your vegetables will have a longer “shelf life.”

4. Avoid picking. If you’re going to eat, sit down and enjoy it. Don’t pick at food while you’re rushing around the kitchen or dinner table. “You’ll get the calories without the satisfaction,” says Ellie, “and it’s a bad example for your children.”

5. You can have a high-calorie treat, but only if it’s worth it. If you start eating a pastry and find out you don’t like the taste, there’s no law that says you have to finish it. When you do have a treat you like, says Ellie, “eat it, savor it and enjoy it.”

6. Add spices to make plain dishes zippier. “Curry, ginger, garlic, chili powder have tremendous anti-oxidant effects,” Ellie says. In other words, the spices can help fight certain kinds of cancer. She also suggests that you buy your spices in small quantities (since they usually keep their flavor just 6 to 12 months) and that you go to a store where there’s a frequent turnover of spices so they’ll be fresher.

7. Eat fish twice a week. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon help fight inflammation in your body. That can help people with rheumatoid arthritis. These fish also have omega-3 acids, which help battle inflammation and cancer.
8. Stop when you’re full. Don’t feel that you have to gobble up every bit of food in front of you. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 “starving” and 10 “Thanksgiving full”, Ellie suggests you end your meal at 5 or 6.

9. Get your kids involved in preparing healthy food with you. “They can make a smoothie [strawberries, skim milk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, and a bit of wheat germ]. My daughter loves the way the blender sounds,” Ellie says.

10. Eat the rainbow. Focus on boldly colored fruits and vegetables: red, like peppers and apples; yellow, like bananas; violet, like eggplant. All these are a great source of antioxidants.

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Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized


12 Health Mysteries Explained

By Dana Sullivan

What Is Brain Freeze?

It’s a pain in your head that occurs when the nerves on the roof of your mouth are hyperstimulated by cold foods, like ice cream and frozen drinks. The nerves are in your mouth, but the nerve center is in your brain, “so that’s where you feel the pain,” says Seymour Diamond, M.D., a headache specialist in Chicago and the executive chairperson of the National Headache Foundation. “This is known as referred pain.” Why do humans experience pain in one place when the stimulus is elsewhere? No one knows for sure. “We do know that migraine sufferers are more prone to ice cream headaches,” Diamond says. “We also know that eating slowly and sipping slowly seem to reduce the effects of the cold. Once the headache sets in, the fastest way to make it go away is to drink something lukewarm.”

Why Do You Have Earwax?

To keep foreign matter from invading ear canals. Earwax, or cerumen, is produced by glands in the outer ear to protect the inner ear from infection. The sticky substance prevents dust, dirt, and bugs from getting in. “Just leave it alone,” says Andrew Cheng, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. Ears are self-cleaning: The wax slowly moves up and out of the ears on its own, dries up, and flakes off or washes away when you shampoo your hair. If you’re a Q-tip addict, clean just the outside of your ears. “Ear canals are like dead-end streets,” Cheng says. “Q-tips just push wax further in.” You could also accidentally scratch your ear canal or even puncture the eardrum.

Why Do You Get Goose Bumps?

Because you’re cold or frightened. When you feel chilled, the muscles around your hair follicles contract, causing the hairs to stand up to create a layer of insulation, explains Richard Potts, Ph.D., an anthropologist and the director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, D.C. All mammals share this hair-raising trait. But “humans don’t have enough body hair for the response to make a difference; it’s a vestigial reflex left over from when we had furry coats,”Potts says. The goose bumps people get when they’re scared may be another vestigial reflex. Potts and others theorize that aeons ago, when the plentiful hair on our ancestors’ bodies stood on end, they appeared more menacing, and, he says, “predators would move on to look for less imposing prey.”

Are Carrots Really Good For the Eyes?

“Yes, they are, along with all other foods rich in vitamin A,” says Michael F. Marmor, a professor of ophthalmology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The body uses vitamin A to support nerve cells in the retinas that help maintain normal vision. People who are deficient in A are susceptible to a host of vision problems, such as night blindness. Many red, yellow, orange, and leafy green vegetables―including sweet potatoes, kale, mangoes, and papayas―contain vitamin A, as do eggs and liver.

Why Do Lips Thin as You Age?

The older you get, the less collagen you produce. And collagen, a protein that supports the body’s soft tissue, is what gives lips their pleasing plumpness, says D’Anne Kleinsmith, M.D., a dermatologist in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can also cause collagen to break down and lips to thin. “One way to help preserve the fullness of your lips,” Kleinsmith says, “is to protect them from the sun by wearing a lipstick or lip balm with sunscreen.”

Why Do Teens Sleep Late?

They’re not lazy; they can’t help it. During childhood, melatonin, the hormone that regulates the wake-sleep cycle, is secreted by the pineal gland early in the evening. When puberty hits, from around ages 10 to 14, melatonin is released later, around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. “This shift often makes many teenagers incapable of falling asleep before 11 at night,” says teen sleep expert Mary A. Carskadon, Ph.D., a professor at Brown Medical School and the director of the Bradley Hospital Sleep and Chronobiology Research Laboratory, in Providence. “Since teens still need about nine or more hours of sleep, they try to make up for the time they’ve lost at night by sleeping in.”

What Causes Hiccups?

Excessive eating, alcohol, excitement, or stress can overstimulate the phrenic nerves, which control the diaphragm. The diaphragm then contracts involuntarily. At the same time, the glottis, the part of the larynx where the vocal cords are located, closes up, says Patricia Raymond, M.D., a gastroenterologist in Chesapeake, Virginia. The result is the spasms and the odd hic sound that repeat every few seconds. A typical case of the hiccups lasts only a few minutes, but some can last much longer. While there’s no proven cure, Raymond suggests trying an action that resets the phrenic nerves (akin to rebooting your computer when it’s frozen), such as holding your breath or breathing into a paper bag.

Why Do So Many Women Have Cold Hands and Feet?

Blame it on circulation. “The nerves that control blood flow to the hands and feet are more sensitive in women than in men,” says Mark Eskandari, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago. “So when the temperature drops, their vessels constrict more, warming blood flow slows, and their extremities feel cold.” Women also have lower blood pressure than men. “When they’re cold or stressed and their blood pressure drops, blood is redirected to the heart and away from the hands and feet,” he says. “Some experts believe that women tend to hold heat in the core, where the heart and uterus are, so they can protect developing fetuses,” notes James Applegate, a family doctor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But this is just a theory.

Why Do Joints Crack?

When you stretch a joint by, say, pressing down on your knuckles or twisting your spine, you cause small air bubbles that form between the sacs in the joints to pop. These sacs, called bursas, help cushion the spaces between the bones and keep them lubricated. As creepy as the sound can be, cracking is usually harmless and has no effect on the bursas. “Despite what your mom may have told you, cracking your knuckles or ankles or knees or any other joint doesn’t cause arthritis,” Applegate says. But it doesn’t do your joints any good, either. “Any feel-good benefit people claim from joint cracking,” he says, “is psychological.”

Why Do Some People Have Whiter Teeth Than Others?

Just like the color of your eyes and hair, the natural tint of your teeth is hereditary. “Some people have very white enamel―the thin coating on the surface of teeth―while other people’s enamel has a more yellow hue,” says Richard Price, a dentist in Newton, Massachusetts, and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. Environmental factors play a role, too. “Teeth are kind of like the rings on a tree,” Price says. “They tell a lot about a person’s health and history.” Taking the antibiotics tetracycline or amoxicillin as a child can affect the calcification process, causing discoloration. Certain foods can also darken teeth. “If a substance will stain a carpet,” Price says, “it will stain your teeth.” Coffee, tea, cola, and red wine are common culprits. Frequent cleanings can help, but severe food stains may require a whitening product or procedure.

Why Do People Get Sick More Often in the Winter?

“Lots of hypotheses, not one perfect answer,” says William Schaffner, M.D., chairman of the department of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in Nashville. A leading theory is that confinement breeds infection. “In winter,” Schaffner says, “we spend more time indoors, in rooms that may not get a lot of circulation, giving us more opportunities to be exposed to respiratory viruses.” The winter air, inside and outside, also tends to be less humid, drying nasal passages and making them more vulnerable to viral invasion. Still, Schaffner adds, the cold environment itself has not been proven to make people get sick in the winter.

Why Is Yawning Contagious?

No one knows for sure, but a study published in a recent issue of the journal Cognitive Brain Research theorizes that yawning in response to someone else’s yawn may be an empathetic response, similar to laughter. “A yawn can be triggered not only by seeing a person yawn but also by hearing, reading about, or even just thinking about yawns,” says Steven Platek, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, who directed the research. Platek and his colleagues believe that contagious yawning may be a primitive way of modeling our feelings after other people’s.

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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Uncategorized