Tag: health

5 Fabulous Reasons for Dental Implants

 

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We all experience bone loss as we get older, but unfortunately when we lose a tooth, bone loss occurs much more rapidly if we don’t replace the missing tissue. In the same way that weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone growth and increase bone mineral density in our other bones, the pressure applied to teeth when we chew stimulates the jawbone and keeps it strong.

In the empty space where a tooth used to be, the jaw receives no stimulation, and bone resorption will soon begin, essentially dissolving the solid matter below the gap in the gum line. The good news is that this disuse atrophy can be easily prevented with a bone graft or dental implant.

With that most important dental implant benefit in mind, here are 5 more great reasons dental implants are important:

 

  1. Preserved Self-Esteem—

Dental implants can maintain your face shape by keeping your jaw in solid condition, helping you look younger in the process.

Having a missing tooth can also undermine your self-confidence, making you feel less attractive than when you had a full mouth of teeth. A dental implant can give you back your confident smile and make you feel better about yourself.

 

  1. Increased Comfort—

When you remove a tooth and don’t hold the space with a dental implant or bone graft, the other teeth in your mouth may start to move out of place, giving you an improper or crooked bite. This can make chewing and eating uncomfortable, and can even affect your speech.

A proper bite is also important for muscle tone and alignment, making dental implants necessary for maintaining your facial muscles after the loss of a tooth.

 

  1. Maximum Durability—

Once you start losing teeth, if you don’t replace them with dental implants or bone grafts, you have officially started down the treacherous path to jawbone loss and possibly dentures.

A dental implant can halt this process before it even begins, preserving your jaw and the rest of your teeth with a replacement that will most likely last more than 20 years.

Many people lose a tooth and skip the replacement dental implant to save money without realizing they are actually costing themselves money in the long run after bone resorption and further tooth loss inevitably follow. And unlike dentures, bone implants are permanent, minimizing maintenance trips to and from your dentist.

 

  1. Gastrointestinal Benefits—

The mouth is where the lengthy process of food digestion begins, starting with the enzyme production that helps us digest our food and remove valuable nutrients when we chew.

When you remove one piece of the puzzle by not replacing a missing tooth, you make chewing more difficult, which in turn makes it harder for your body to process the food you eat. This poor digestion can affect the sufferer in different ways, such as malnutrition, indigestion, constipation, bloating, gas and heartburn.

 

  1. Oral Health Maintenance—

Having a missing tooth makes a person more prone to gum disease, in addition to causing the other teeth in the mouth to shift and move out of place.

But if you fill the missing spot with a dental implant, the enamel and structural integrity of the surrounding teeth is completely maintained. This is because a dental implant stands alone and doesn’t require the grinding or alteration of other teeth to support it.

 

Your dentist will do everything possible to save your teeth, but sometimes tooth loss is an unfortunate fact of life. Thanks to dental implants, tooth loss no longer has to mean jawbone resorption, and the inevitable negative side-effects it can cause.

So if you happen to lose a tooth, don’t worry; just be sure to preserve your self-esteem and health by getting a dental implant.

 

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5 Powerful Foods for Superhero Health

 

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Some excellent reasons for including many fresh fruits, vegetables and juices in our diets is for their vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory, and potential cancer-preventing properties.

Many foods, commonly known as superfoods, have been found by researchers to help prevent cancer, and have even been shown to stop the progression of cancer cells in studies.

Below are some powerful health-boosting edibles you should definitely include in your diet:

  1. Broccoli—

Broccoli and cauliflower, both members of the cruciferous vegetable family, contain powerful health agents. Not only do these vegetables lower your risk of getting certain cancers, researchers are discovering they can even fight off existing cancers by preventing them from growing.

Scientists have found that a chemical found in broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables called isothiocyanate can stop cancer growth by killing cancer cells.

Broccoli is also full of antioxidants, vitamin K and vitamin C, making it a wonderful addition to any detoxification program or cleanse.

  1. Kale—

Kale is in the same plant family as broccoli, and contains the same cancer cell-killing phytonutrients, plus it packs a punch loaded full of antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) and anti-inflammatory nutrients that help your immune system fight off disease and illness.

Studies have shown that a diet including kale can not only help prevent cancer, but may also help with its treatment. Kale is extremely alkaline, and if you are fighting disease, one of the best things you can do is to lower your body’s acid levels and increase the alkalinity, giving it more power to fight off the bad guys.

Kale also contains enzymes involved with detoxification, and can help cleanse toxins quickly, allowing us to perform at maximum capacity.

  1. Purple Sweet Potatoes—

A new type of sweet potato has been grown specifically for its cancer fighting benefits. With purple pigment inside rather than the usual sunny hue, this strange new vegetable contains the chemical anthocyanin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and even slow the progress of existing cancer cells.

The purple sweet potato is loaded with the same antioxidants found in similarly-colored grapes and berries, but don’t count out those good old-fashioned orange-toned sweet potatoes, because they have plenty of vitamin A and antioxidants to offer as well.

  1. Flaxseed Meal—

Flaxseeds are loaded with much-needed Omega-3s (which are helpful for reducing inflammation and preventing skin cancer), vitamin E and dietary fiber, which is great for colon health (and the prevention of colon cancer).

It’s important to grind whole flaxseeds up or buy them in the already-ground meal form to reap the full benefits, as they can be hard to digest.

In scientific studies, daily ingestion of flaxseed meal has been shown to reduce cancer cell growth in patients, making flaxseeds an important addition to your daily smoothie, juice or breakfast cereal.

  1. Spinach—

Well known for its high iron content, spinach is one of the best superfoods you can feed your body, as it also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, folate and magnesium.

This nutritional powerhouse vegetable has been shown to lower the risk of macular degeneration, making it an excellent daily juice or smoothie choice for those genetically prone to eye disease.

Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences discovered that eating carrots and spinach more than twice weekly reduced breast cancer risk by 44%, so mixing in some carrot juice with your daily spinach juice would be a great idea. (Source: Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, November 1997)

Other studies have proven spinach to lower the risk of ovarian, stomach, skin, prostate and bladder cancer, so do your body a favor and eat your daily spinach.

 

Fruits and vegetables have long been considered powerful weapons in the fight against cancer, and research only continues to show this over and over again. Nearly every study conducted proves the anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting protection these plant-based superfoods can provide, so be sure to include them in your diet today.

5 Green Vegetables That Will Make You Glow

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Eating green vegetables and other nutrient-dense green foods such as spirulina, wheat grass, blue green algae, sea vegetables and seaweed (a.k.a. “superfoods”) can give us large amounts of the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy and strong.

Chlorophyll, which we learned in grade school science class is what gives plants their green color, also happens to be quite similar in molecular structure to human blood. Isn’t that amazing? The same pigment oxygenating the plants in your yard can also help oxygenate your blood. But first, you have to get that green goodness into your body.

That’s where fresh, green juices come in. Starting your day with a juice or smoothie full of green vegetables is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. If you get into the habit of drinking fresh juices every day, you’ll likely notice your energy levels increasing, your digestion improving, and your eyes and skin looking bright and clear.

As they detoxify their bodies by eating raw whole foods, and drinking pure, fresh juices, many people begin to notice their entire systems have begun to work more efficiently, and they will naturally lose weight.

By ingesting green juices, you’ll also be giving yourself the gift of antioxidants, as well as decreased chances of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Certain green vegetables have even been shown to help prevent the occurrence of certain cancers.

Here are 5 of the best green vegetables to give you maximum nutrition for a minimum investment:

 

1. Spinach is a wonderful green vegetable to include in your daily juicing and smoothie regimen. It’s high in the aforementioned cancer-preventing antioxidants, and has also been shown in studies to reduce macular degeneration, heart disease and stroke. One of the best things about spinach as a fresh juice or smoothie additive is that it has a surprisingly mild flavor.

When mixed with carrots, apples, and ginger, even the pickiest children have been known to give spinach the thumbs-up. If you find the right blend, it can be a great way to quickly get some healthy greens into your kids.

 

2. Kale is another amazing green vegetable that has been rapidly growing in popularity, with delicious new kale products (such as kale chips) currently hitting the markets. In addition to giving our bodies loads of vitamin C and vitamin A, kale is widely appreciated for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.

It seems to be no mistake that the word kale starts with a ‘k’ as it is absolutely loaded with vitamin K, to the tune of over 600 percent of our recommended daily allowance. Also abundantly found in spinach, broccoli, parsley, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, vitamin K is very important in the formation and protection of bones, as well as blood clotting and cancer prevention.

Kale is also high in calcium, providing the lactose intolerant among us with an easy way to get the nutrients necessary for proper bone health.

 

3. Parsley has long been known in the world of nutrition as a major player in the treatment of anemia, thanks to its high iron content. In addition to vitamin K, parsley is loaded with the well-known immune system boosters, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin B12. Parsley contains vitamin A, which is important for eye health.

Folic acid is also abundant in parsley, which lowers cancer risk, and is especially crucial for pregnant women, as it can prevent birth defects in unborn babies.

 

4. Cucumber can play an important role in your detoxification, which is one of the goals of any juice fast, smoothie or healthy eating program.

Cucumber acts as a natural diuretic in the body by eliminating excess water, and as long as you make sure to re-hydrate to replace what you’re losing, this process can cause your body to remove toxins at a faster rate. This diuretic quality is also why cucumber is used to clean the kidneys, with many using it daily to remove kidney stones.

An excellent source of silica, cucumber can help those with achy joints, as well as assist in preventing many types of cancer.

 

5. Celery will give you the same diuretic effects as cucumber, with the added benefit of a natural laxative effect that will help speed up the body’s removal of toxins.

Celery has been shown to reduce cholesterol and prevent stomach cancers, and helps reduce acid levels in the body. Creating an alkaline environment is highly desirable, as it will allow your body more energy to dedicate to fighting the bad guys.

 

Do you want to feel stronger, live longer, have more energy, and feel better about the way you look? Are you ready to glow with good health and vitality? Let green vegetables come to your rescue.

With their mega-doses of antioxidants and high levels of vitamins and minerals, green vegetables can be the superfood hero your body has been seeking. To healthy living, fresh juicing, and beyond!

 

5 Fabulous Reasons to Own a Pool

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If you’re thinking about getting a pool, give yourself a pat on the back because you’re making a very smart choice.

In addition to the many health benefits swimming has to offer—such as reduced blood pressure, low-stress exercise, a stimulated metabolism and the ability to burn around 500 calories an hour—there are many other wonderful reasons to own a pool.

To help you feel even better about your decision, we’ve compiled a list of 5 great things owning a pool can do for you and your family:

 

  1. Take a Virtual Vacation—

Question: What’s the first thing your kids ask on any vacation upon checking into a hotel? Answer: “Does it have a pool?” Well guess what, kids? Now you have a pool forever.

Having a little bit of the big blue in your backyard feels like a permanent vacation every time you step outside and see it glimmering there before you. Set up a lounge chair and read by the water, and take a dip whenever the mood hits you.

Bonus: No flights to catch home or travel hassles required when you’re done; just walk back inside your home.

  1. Be the Cool House on the Block—

Yes, if you have children, get ready to be the popular house in your neighborhood, especially as the summer swelter starts to scorch.

Having other kids over to swim with your children will give them wonderful friendship opportunities, and will give you a chance to keep an eye on them while they are getting fresh air, exercising and being social. You will always know where your kids are, and they will have a positive entertainment alternative to sitting in front of a screen that will keep them fit and healthy. It’s a win-win!

  1. Pool Parties are Priceless—

People pay good money to rent out the local pools for birthday parties and social gatherings. Well, those days are over for you, new pool owner.

Also gone are the days of being forced to rent out the local germ-infested pizza and game arcade for your kids’ birthdays, because now you can have pool parties! And pool parties aren’t just for kids—having an adult pool party is a great way to get to know your grown-up neighbors, too.

  1. A Good Investment—

If the day ever comes that you decide to sell your home, having a swimming pool can drastically improve your property value, allowing you to sell the home for more money.

Many prospective buyers are particularly excited by the idea of owning a swimming pool, and in a tough realty market, your swimming pool might be the sparkling gem that makes your house stand out in a dull throng of for-sale homes with boring backyards.

  1. Make Memories—

Pool time is family fun time, and if you have a pool, it’s likely your kids will have wonderful childhood memories of learning to swim and playing pool games with friends and family.

Family board game night is fun on a cold winter night, but when you want to beat the heat and have some family bonding time, there’s nothing more refreshing than splashing around together in a swimming pool.

 

You and your loved ones will enjoy your pool for years, as the soothing crystal waters lend rejuvenation, relaxation and balance to your life. By adding a swimming pool to your home, you’re giving yourself a guaranteed backyard vacation any time you need one, and a gentle form of exercise that will keep you healthy and strong. Congratulations!

My Trashy Neighbors Part 1598

(Writing from September 12, 2010. The neighbor I wrote about giving the kids marshmallows as an after-school snack would later encourage her daughter, who was overweight, much taller, and a grade older than my son to bully him for being neurologically atypical. Try to act surprised.)

***

My weakest subject in the school of parenting is socialization. I’m shy, and this simply does not work when you have a very outgoing little boy.

My 4-year-old son is in kindergarten with other kids 8:30-2:30, five days a week, and still wants to play with someone when he gets home. I was a loner kid, and don’t understand this at all.

I am home alone during his schooling, and often feel I could use more alone time. I have almost always lived alone, since I moved out at 17, and in relationships, often stayed at my own place for space. I require a lot of silence, yoga, and long, centering walks, so as you can imagine, motherhood has turned me into a nervous, twitchy mess. It’s a living.

So here’s my neighborhood dynamic: we have a few nice moms with a 2-3 kids each on my street. We tried group play dates for awhile, but that petered out after a few months when one mom decided that we were close enough friends to start coming over to my house unannounced, which I find nervewracking and rude. Call me southern, but my mama taught me better than that.

I finally started completely avoiding her after she came by unannounced to leave her baby with me because her husband accidentally took the carseat to work with him, and she needed to shop for a birthday present for her mother. I’m not even kidding.

First of all, babies scare me. I know that now that I’ve had one, I’m supposed to be over my fear and grab any squirming infant that I stumble across, cooing with confident glee, but it didn’t happen. I have no baby experience other than my son, and was relieved when he came out of me weighing 9.5 pounds because it made him seem so much less fragile than other newborns. I’m not a baby person. I’ve accepted this.

Secondly, this particular baby was hugely attached to his mother and cried nonstop when anyone else tried to hold him – even his own father. And she knew this, because she’s the one who told me.

Thirdly, who does that? I don’t think she even knew my last name at this point. Who just leaves their kid with someone they don’t really know? Here, lady across the street with whom I’m on a first name basis, please unexpectedly take my child who will cry nonstop while I am gone and watch him for a few hours. Enjoy!

When I told my husband about it, he said, “Why couldn’t her husband just drive the car seat home during his lunch break? That’s what I would have done.”

Right?

Anyhow, that was the end for me. Plus, with my 1 kid to their 2-3 each, I was really never going to win at the trading babysitting services game, was I?

So I stopped answering the door when she would knock, and excused myself out of the playdates.

The part that makes me feel like a motherhood failure, though, is worrying that my son suffers because of my social weirdness. I don’t want to play nice with the neighborhood mommies, but these are the people with children, so he is deprived of playmates. All because I don’t want high-maintenance friendships with women that will eat into my precious alone time. And because I don’t want to watch other people’s screaming infants, with no notice, for free.

Can you blame me?

So with this in mind, a few evenings ago, when my son was begging me to play with the neighborhood kids across the street as they raced down the sidewalk on their bikes, I let him. I put on his helmet, helped him cross the street with his bike, and away he went.

I dragged a fold-up canvas sports chair into the front yard, stuck a beer in the cup holder (my husband was home – I don’t drink on the job otherwise), waved at the moms a few houses down across the street to whom the gaggle of children belonged, and tried to relax.

Within seconds, I noticed my son had stopped biking with the other kids. I stood up to see that he was hovering near the mothers, drinking something. Sighing, I walked down the street and crossed the road to see what he was holding.*

It was a Capri Sun. Which I never give him because it is high fructose corn syrup and water with a tiny splash of juice thrown in so they can very largely plaster WITH NATURAL JUICES on the front (http://www.cspinet.org/new/200701081.html). I was annoyed, but realized they were just trying to be nice, since the other kids had the drinks, so I thanked them. (Yes, I’m a non-confrontational pussy. I think we already covered this.)

I allow occasional treats, and don’t want him to grow up with a later-in-life addiction to sugar because he was deprived as a kid, but there is so much high fructose corn syrup in everything that I make a point of reading all labels and buying the versions of foods that don’t use it (HFCS-free peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, and juices, for example).

I don’t think they should have given my child something unhealthy without asking me. I would always make someone else’s child run and ask their mother. But then I was the socially-challenged weirdo sitting in my own yard rather than hanging out with them, so I wasn’t really there to be asked. Fair enough.

I told my son that I would keep the drink for him and he could come over to our house if he wanted to drink more so he could go back to playing. Because I am a very polite liar. I walked back to my house and threw the rest of the Capri Sun away. We were going to have dinner in a while and I didn’t want him to be full of corn syrup water.

I sat back down to observe. Within minutes, my son was missing from the bike gang again. I stood up and noticed he was holding a bag of something and eating from it. I figured it was potato chips or something. Again, not a food I keep around or give my kid, because at his age, they don’t eat much. When he does eat, I want it to be good quality food so his growing body gets the nutrition it needs.

(This seems blatantly obvious to me, by the way, and I am constantly shocked by the junk food I see people feeding young children. Gee, I wonder why health problems related to poor diet and obesity are such a growing problem in our country?)

I let it go on a few minutes, thinking he’d get bored and put the bag down any minute, but I soon realized he was just going to town on that bag of whatever. He was going to completely ruin his appetite for dinner, so I once again got up and ambled down the street to investigate.

It was a bag of marshmallows. Motherfucking marshmallows. My son was shoving mini-marshmallows into his mouth as fast as he could. When he saw me coming, he knew the jig was up and started cramming them in faster, until he could no longer talk without spitting marshmallows.

Best part: the woman who apparently gives her children marshmallows as a snack was just telling me a few minutes before about how her husband is having heart trouble and diabetes-related issues. This woman has a college degree, so I was blown away that she couldn’t see the connection between her horrifyingly unhealthy snack selection and poor familial health.

So my son had high fructose corn syrup water and marshmallows for dinner that night because he wasn’t hungry anymore when we got home. Gross.

And I decided that, mommy guilt be damned, that is the last time I’m going to let him hang out with the neighbor kids.

Yes, because I am flawed and psychologically uncomfortable hanging out with people I don’t know simply because we have procreation in common.

But also because I love my son, and I want him to grow up knowing how to eat healthfully and take good care of his body so he won’t have weight issues, heart problems and type 2 diabetes.

It has finally sunk into my thick skull that no socialization is better than negative socialization. I’m not failing at motherhood, as I feared. Not at all. Because every decision I make is based on what’s best for my kid.

And also, these are not my people. These are my trashy neighbors, and I don’t have to hang out with them simply because we bought homes near each other. I can choose my friends based on who they are, not their location.
Eat yer vegetables, kids.

xoxo.

 

My Rogue Left Arm

(Writing from January 29, 2011.)

I tried to hurt a nice lady at the Urgent Care clinic this morning.

Let me explain. I’m sick. My throat has been burning all week, and I’ve been drinking hot liquids and overdosing on vitamin C (known on the streets as chasing the orange), waiting to see if my body was going to take care of it. But over the last few days, my bright red throat has decided to festively adorn itself with white blisters, so I decided to go to the doctor.

After waiting in another version of the hellish line I endured earlier in the week when I brought my sick son to the same clinic, I was led from the big room into the little room for my visit with the Wizard. Before I saw him, the nurse lady decided that because I had white pustules all over my throat, I would definitely need a strep test. She proceeded to, like, totally gag me with a cotton swab (<—read last sentence in a valley girl accent, please), and then left me alone for thirty-five minutes to wait.

I hate when they do that. It’s such a mindfuck. Don’t call me in from the group waiting room to sit by myself in a tiny cell, thinking I’m about to see the doctor, and then make me wait forever. I felt so shitty and weak that I decided to lie down on the table and take a nap. The doctor woke me up when he finally came in. Jerk.

He thought I had mono, or maybe the flu, so the nurse came back in to prick my finger for mono test blood, and swab my nose for the flu test.

Needles don’t bother me, but I casually mentioned that I would rather have blood drawn from my arm because there are so many more nerves in our fingers. So of course, my sweet nurse lady had diabetes, and responded by telling me about how she has to prick her fingers every day. I felt like such a whiny baby for saying anything about finger nerves. I decided at that moment that I am going to stop whining about everything, forever, because I’m a lucky, ungrateful shithead who complains about stupid, petty things, and I have all I could possibly need, including fingers to hurt and not diabetes. I’m also a ridiculous excuse for a human being, and I should probably not talk, ever.

Anyhow. Next came the nasal swab flu test. This involves taking a long, wooden swab and shoving it deeply into the sinus cavity via nostril. It is highly invasive and burns like a motherfucker when they scrape the demon Q-tip against the sinuses. (Not that I’m whining. I’m sure it’s better than having diabetes. Ahem.) It kind of feels like having one’s eye poked out from the inside with a stick, if I may engage in a bit of hyperbole.

As the nice lady shoved the stick into my brain, my left arm shot up and grabbed her arm. I grabbed her arm. It was pure instinct, but I was absolutely mortified. I actually grabbed my own left arm with my right arm and held it down while she finished, as if my left arm was an attacking dog, and my right arm was its distraught owner. But I could tell it freaked her out. She was flustered. I said, “Oh my god. I’m so sorry. That reaction was completely involuntary,” and she laughed nervously. She walked out without reassuring me that it was okay. Just a nervous little “huh-huh” chuffing noise, and then gone. I felt like such an asshole.

I texted my husband, “I just grabbed the arm of the nice nurse who was giving me the nasal flu swab. I feel like an asshole.”

This isn’t the first time. I’m a repeat offender. I have a history of grabbing the arms of medical people doing hurty things to me.

The last time I did this, I was getting an amniocentesis procedure done in Los Angeles, at four months pregnant with my son. The doctor pushed the really long needle through my belly and into my uterus, and I had a cramp or contraction which caused my left arm (he was standing on that side of the table) to reach out and grab him. It was just a baby-protecting instinctive move; I wasn’t trying to be aggressive. I immediately pulled the arm down and felt like a jerk, but the damage was done. He gave me a shocked look and got flustered.

I fluster medical people. It’s a problem.

Anyhow, I’m on antibiotics. I’m fine. End whining.

Oh, and my husband thinks I’m disgusting. Yesterday, he flopped down next to me in bed, where I had been lying, feeling awful, amid stacks of books and tissues. He looked at my face, and I watched his mouth curl in disgust as he suddenly remembered I was sick. He muttered, “Gross,” and quickly jumped out of the bed, as if I was a giant maggot and the mattress was my dead animal carcass.

“Did you just call me gross?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Gross? You actually got down next to me in bed so you could call megross and then get back up?”

“I forgot you were sick.”

“And then you remembered. So I’m just gross. That’s all you have to say to me.”

“Yes.”

Marriage is awesome sometimes.

My husband is out bowling with friends right now. I was looking forward to going out all week, but he forbade me to come along and infect other people with my rancid, filthy grossness. It’s okay, though. I can’t drink a beer because I’m on antibiotics, and I don’t think I could bowl without beer. They just go together so well.

And I get to write instead, which makes me happy.

Until I got sick, I had a great early week, actually. I got to talk to an online friend in real life, and I posted my first piece on a favorite website for which I am being allowed to write (The Nervous Breakdown). It was all very positive, despite the illness. And I haven’t been sick since June, which is pretty great for a lady with a kid attending a preschool, so I’m not complaining. (Because I don’t do that anymore, remember?) I had a long healthy streak.

I’m going to go snort a few lines of Emergen-C powder now. Stay healthy, friends.

xoxo.

My Easy Hippie Granola Recipe

 

I’ve been making granola for my family for a few months now. I combined two random Internet recipes that seemed simple, and it worked out great first time, which almost never happens for me.

I had no idea it was so easy to make granola. Why have I been paying so much money for these fancy cooked oats for my entire life? I feel kind of stupid.

I love peanut butter granola. It has always been my favorite, so I like to make it with peanut butter. For the last batch I baked, I added chopped crystallized ginger chunks, and it absolutely rocked, so if you want to try it that way, I recommend.

Ginger is also great for soothing nausea, and I’m a big fan of it in the mornings. I can never eat first thing in the morning, even though I know it’s the most important meal of the day and blah, blah, blah. I just want to sip coffee for a few hours every morning… is that so wrong?

I took pictures of the last batch of granola I made. Here they are with and without flash:

It turned out with a great consistency. When I stirred it, it broke apart into little pieces and clumps, and was completely indistinguishable from store-bought granola. And I know exactly what’s in it, which I find comforting. I store it on my counter at room temperature, in a glass jar, and it lasts over a week, no problem.

Here’s the recipe:

Honey-Peanut Butter Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In saucepan, mix:

2 tbsp margarine or butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Cook on stove top until smooth, then mix with:

3 cups old-fashioned oats

Spread mixture in a 9×13 glass baking pan, bake 10 minutes, mix, then bake 10-15 minutes until golden.

You’re going to love it, you damned dirty hippies. I promise.

xoxo.

7 Surprising Reasons to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

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Thanks to research, education and advertising, most people are aware that smoking cigarettes can lead to heart disease and lung cancer.

But did you know there are many other less-publicized benefits to kicking the addiction to cigarettes, besides the obvious improvement in lung quality and heart health?

Below are 7 reasons to quit smoking that might surprise you:

 

1. Vanity—

We can’t see the damage being done by cigarettes inside of our bodies, but perhaps the realization that smoking causes wrinkles and dark under-eye circles will give smokers the motivation to quit. The premature aging and skin damage caused by smoking can be easily viewed by looking into a mirror.

In addition to wrinkling the face by reducing the skin’s elasticity, smoking has also been shown to contribute to the sagging of breast tissue. On the positive side, once you quit smoking, this process stops, with skin quality improving soon thereafter.

 

2. Breast Cancer—

Speaking of breast tissue, researchers are now finding that smoking plays a bigger role in the development of breast cancer than previously realized.

The National Cancer Institute has announced that women who’ve smoked have a 30% greater risk of breast cancer than those who have never smoked.

 

3. Blindness—

Age-related macular degeneration is a genetic and progressive condition that leads to the loss of central vision. It has recently been determined that smoking increases the chances of age-related macular degeneration, making smokers four times more likely to eventually become blind than non-smokers.

On the positive side, quitting immediately lowers this risk, making dropping the cigarette habit a great idea, especially if macular degeneration runs in the family.

 

4. Impotence—

Yes, smoking can affect sexual desire and performance, lowering the sex drives of both women and men, and leading to impotence in males.

Men who smoke have been shown in studies to have a 60% higher erectile dysfunction rate than non-smoking men. This is because nicotine constricts blood vessels and impairs blood flow, which directly affects the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.

While this can cause permanent damage, the vascular system may heal over time, and many patients find that after cessation of smoking, blood flow increases immediately.

 

5. Depression—

Smoking can make you sad. This goes against what is commonly believed because nicotine is a stimulant, which we generally associate with mood and energy elevation. But despite their stimulant status, smoking can lead to depression and anxiety disorders.

A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that smokers were twice as likely to suffer from depression as non-smokers. So if you’re hanging onto this unhealthy habit because you think it makes you happy, give life without cigarettes a try—it may boost your spirits.

 

6. Lupus—

A painful autoimmune disease that can cause tissue damage via inflammation, lupus is exacerbated by the negative health effects of smoking.

Smokers have been also been shown in studies to have a slightly increased risk of developing lupus, but fortunately, this risk disappears once they stop smoking.

 

7. Heartburn—

Often, food and drink are blamed for acid reflux disease, but research has proven that smoking drastically increases the occurrence and severity of heartburn.

Those with acid reflux issues often also have esophagitis, which can be irritated by cigarette smoke, making heartburn more painful.

 

If you’re seeking the motivation to quit, maybe one of the lesser known ways that giving up cigarettes can improve your health, body and life you’ve learned about above will give you the push you need to stop smoking.

There are many tools available today to help people quit smoking, such as nicotine gum, nicotine patches, medications and eCigs that wean you off traditional cigarettes by replacing smoke with vapor. Talk to your doctor today about the best plan for you, and good luck on your journey to better health!

When Gain Makes Pain: 6 Ways Remove Lactic Acid Build-Up

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When we work out strenuously, our muscles compensate for lack of oxygen by producing lactate, a.k.a. lactic acid, which allows the muscles to utilize glucose for energy.

Once lactic acid is produced, it can remain in the muscles, causing pain and soreness that usually peaks between 24-72 hours after the vigorous workout. Unfortunately, anyone who has started working out again after a lapse in activity knows this feeling all too well.

But there are ways to clear lactic acid from the muscles faster, and below are 6 top recommended tips:

 

1. Wonderful Water—

Water is first on the list because it’s every athlete’s number one workout assistant. Not only will staying hydrated help anyone have a more energetic and productive workout, it will help all of the systems in the body designed to remove toxins work efficiently.

If you work out more than 60 minutes, consider adding electrolytes to your hydration regimen, because you’ll need to replace the sodium and potassium you’re losing as well.

Be sure to drink extra water the day after a rough workout to clear lactic acid from the system faster, and to help your body heal.

 

2. Top Temperature—

If you have the opportunity to warm up before you start exercising, this will help the muscles clear waste better during exertion.

Many people get on the treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike to heat up their body before moving onto more forceful or weight-bearing exercises.

In addition to preventing lactic acid build up, this can also reduce the chance of injury by preparing the muscles for pressure.

 

3. Nurturing Nutrition—

You made those muscles work hard and had a great training session, now pay them back for their performance with some healthy foods and nutrition.

You’ve got to give a powerful engine the fuel it needs to run strong, so eat vitamin-dense foods, amino acids and protein after you exercise, and go heavy on the Omega-3s, as this fatty acid has been found to help reduce inflammation.

 

4. Crucial Cooling—

Prevention is one of the best ways to avoid the next-day post-workout pain, and cooling down gently after a workout has been shown to help remove lactic acid from the muscles, allowing the exerciser to avoid this problem.

Cooling down can mean a casual stroll on the treadmill immediately after strength training, riding the stationary bike, or a mellow swimming session if your gym has a pool. Remember to take it slow, and allow your heart to gradually reach a resting rate.

 

5. Super Stretches—

After the post-workout cooling down exercise, it’s also a good idea to stretch to increase blood flow.

Stretching will help your body heal faster by increasing circulation, averting the pooling of blood and lactic acid in the muscles, and prevent the stiffening that can contribute to pain in the days to follow.

Stretching before a workout is also recommended to keep the body limber and prevent injuries caused by suddenly moving tight, cold muscles, and to prevent muscle waste build up.

 

6. Shocking Showers—

Although alternating between hot and cold showers seems like a system-shocking situation, many proponents of this approach swear it reduces the levels of lactic acid and prevents day-after muscle soreness.

To take a contrast shower, switch back and forth between cold for as long you can handle and then hot a few times.

 

Some fitness fans also swear by post-workout ice baths and massages, and some use the tips discussed above to avoid muscle pain and weakness. If lactic acid buildup is causing you discomfort, you might want to give these removal methods a try. You’ve got nothing to lose but muscle pain, and a faster recovery to potentially gain.

Are Your Knees Being Naughty? Top Tips to Stop Knee Pain

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Knee pain can happen to anyone—old, young, fit, overweight, active, sedentary—knee pain doesn’t discriminate. Genetic factors may bring arthritis to the knees, and sometimes over-pronation, bodily misalignment or good old-fashioned exercise can cause knee soreness.

But no matter why the knees are hurting, the good news is that there are things anyone can do to lessen the aching. Below are some tips recommended by health and fitness experts, doctors and researchers to help stop knee pain.

 

1. Weighty Matters—

Nobody likes to hear this important tip, but it must be said that one of the most effective ways to lessen knee pain is to reduce the amount of weight the joints are supporting.

Many people use their bad knees as an excuse to avoid exercise, exacerbating the problem with weight gain, but this is actually not a legitimate excuse because there are knee-friendly exercises (see: next tip).

 

2. Do Gentle Knee-Friendly Exercises—

If you can walk, you can exercise, no matter how out-of-shape you may feel. But if even walking hurts your knees, consider swimming. Swimming builds the muscles around the knees to support them while placing no strain on the joints.

Another knee-friendly exercise is biking, especially on a stationary bike to reduce the potentially jarring effects of outdoor biking. Elliptical and rowing trainers can be helpful as well, and always remember to stretch first.

 

3. Comfort Trumps Fashion—

Don’t let vanity tighten your calf muscles and increase knee and foot pain. High-heeled shoes place extra pressure on the feet and knees, causing inflammation and permanent damage over time.

Be sure to wear the right shoes with good cushioning while exercising, or embrace the barefoot trend which has been shown to encourage proper muscle and tendon alignment.

 

4. Sample Some Supplements—

Recent studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements work for some people, making them worth a try.

Other supplements known for having anti-inflammatory effects are cherry juice, vitamin C, Omega-3s, turmeric, grape seed, ginger, oregano, coriander, flaxseed and yucca root.

Spinach, onions, walnuts and salmon are also great anti-inflammatory foods to include in your weekly diet, and avoiding inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugar is always a good idea.

 

5. Build Your Buns—

When the sitting muscles weaken, this can have a domino effect down the legs. As rear end muscles drop, the pelvis lowers, throwing the thigh muscles out of alignment to strain knees and feet.

The solution is to start at the top by doing strength training exercises for the glutes and the quads, because strengthening all of these muscle groups will support the knee joints to reduce pressure.

And don’t forget to work the calf muscles while you’re at it, because weak calves can also contribute to knee pain.

 

6. More Core, Less Sore—

If you can strengthen your core, you will not only be doing your knees a huge favor; the rest of your body will benefit along with them. As the core grows stronger, it assists many of the muscles of the body, reducing pressure on the joints.

Another positive about strengthening core muscles is that it can be done via floor exercises and other forms of strength training that don’t involve the knees.

 

7. Use Ice and Be Nice—

Using ice on the knees post-exercise for 20 minutes can reduce inflammation, and elevating the legs while icing will increase the positive results.

Also, know your limits during workouts and be careful not to get caught up in the activity, pushing knees past what you know they can handle. If you do take it too far, be sure to allow knees adequate rest and healing before your next session.

When it comes to joints, pain doesn’t equal gain, and can actually set back your fitness goals.

 

People are different, so what might work in a study or anecdotally for one person may not work for somebody else, but maybe if you try some the tips and suggestions above, you’ll find the one that works for you. You’ve got nothing to lose but knee pain, after all.