General Health Issues

5 Sleep Hacks to Wake Up More Refreshed

By Andra Picincu

Are you always tired in the morning? Wonder why you can’t stay focused and get things done? Just because you’re getting eight hours of rest, it doesn’t mean you actually sleep well.

Stress, bad eating, sleep apnea, and certain environmental factors can affect your internal clock. For instance, eating a heavy meal for dinner will cause your body to work harder at night to digest it, leading to a poor sleep.

It’s in your power to catch more Zzz’s and wake up refreshed. Try these sleep hacks to wake up ready for work and boost your energy naturally:

 

Turn Off Your Gadgets

Start by turning off the TV, smartphone, iPad, and other devices you’re using at bedtime. These gadgets emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin production and affects sleep quality.

Researchers have also linked blue light to a higher risk of breast and prostate cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular problems. The more you use electronic devices, the more your health will suffer.

 

Cut Back on Alcohol

Drinking a glass of wine before bedtime may seem like the perfect way to relax. Even though alcohol helps you fall asleep more quickly, it affects your circadian rhythms. This leads to a more disrupted sleep, vivid dreams, and low energy the day after.

 

Try Aromatherapy

Essentials oils are highly concentrated and boast relaxing effects. Inhaling lavender essential oil, for instance, will have a greater impact on sleep quality than drinking lavender tea. All you need to do is to diffuse it into the air or pour a few drops on your pillows – or in bathwater.

Experiment with different essential oils to find one that works best for you. Try lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood, or bergamot oils. These healthful concoctions relax the mind and body, lift your mood, and promote a restful sleep.

 

Create a Bedtime Routine

Humans are creatures of habit. Our bodies need a consistent schedule for sleep, eating, and work. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can improve your sleep and well-being.

Whenever you stay up past your normal bedtime, you’re disrupting your internal clock. Plus, your body begins to produce stress hormones that further affect your sleep and energy levels.

 

Eat for a Better Sleep

What you eat before bedtime can make or break your sleep. Avoid large meals, fatty foods, chocolate, and sugary treats.

The perfect bedtime snack should be high in protein and amino acids. Casein protein shakes, cottage cheese, yogurt, and fish are all a great choice.

Also, get your bedroom ready for a good night’s sleep. Eliminate noise, set the temperature lower than usual, and block any light. Wear an eye mask and earplugs if necessary.

Clean Up Your Diet in 3 Easy Steps

By Andra Picincu

Looking to boost your health and maybe drop some weight? Wonder what to eat to stay in shape? Start by cleaning up your diet! Ditch the junk and make smart food choices on a daily basis.
Whole, natural foods nourish your body from the inside out. Plus, they contain no chemicals or hormones that affect health and well-being.
What are you waiting for? Follow these three easy steps to clean up your diet and stay lean year round:

 

Eliminate Sugar

Sugar is often called the sweet poison for good reason. Believe it or not, it’s one of the most toxic ingredients out there. It not only makes you fat but also contributes to diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance, and metabolic disorders.

Researchers have found that people who took 17 percent to 21 percent of their daily calories from sugar had a 38 higher risk of heart disease compared to those consuming eight percent of their calories from sugar.

Steer clear of candy, cake, cookies, soda, bread, and other foods rich in sugar. Processed meats and ready-made meals may contain this ingredient too.

Beware of hidden sugars, such as maltose, molasses, dextrose, fructose, coconut sugar, agave syrup, and glucose. In fact, many so-called healthy foods are packed with sugar in one form or another.

 

Go Organic

Organic food is your best choice. Unlike conventionally produced food, it’s free of additives, preservatives, and growth hormones. Meat, for instance, contains antibiotics and growth hormones that disrupt your endocrine system and promote the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

If you can’t afford to go organic, at least avoid conventionally grown soy, spinach, strawberries, and other foods on the Dirty Dozen List. These have the higher pesticide content and pose the greatest health risks.

 

Make Smart Substitutions

Now that you know what not to eat, find healthier alternatives to your go-to foods. Stevia, pureed fruits, cinnamon, and vanilla are excellent substitutes for sugar. Avocado and Greek yogurt can replace sour cream, mayo, and heavy sauces.

Almond, coconut, and Konjac flour are healthier and lower in carbs than white flour. The same goes for flax meal, which is a great source of fiber and good fats.

Always choose foods are raw or minimally processed. Cook your own meals and check food labels. Once you make these changes, your health will dramatically improve. Your skin will look younger, your energy will go up, and you’ll find it easier to maintain your weight.

Top 5 Energizing Alternatives to Coffee

By Andra Picincu

The health benefits of coffee have been known for ages. This beverage not only increases your energy but also boosts mental focus, exercise performance, and metabolism.

The downside is that not everyone can tolerate caffeine, its active compound. Those who are sensitive to caffeine may experience chills, restlessness, and insomnia.

Luckily, coffee isn’t your only option. There are plenty of other energizing beverages that contain little or no caffeine.

 

Yerba Mate

This herbal beverage is made from the plant with the same name. It tastes just like green tea and has similar benefits to coffee, but without the jitters and sleep problems.

Yerba mate boasts potent antioxidants and amino acids that support overall health. Theobromine, for instance, improves circulation and has relaxing effects.

Replace your morning cup of joe with this nutrient-dense beverage to keep your brain sharp and get the energy needed for a long day!

 

Coconut Water

Ever wondered why athletes drink coconut water? This beverage is rich in potassium, magnesium, and electrolytes that fuel your energy and help your body recover from stress. It’s a healthy alternative to energy drinks and has just a few calories per serving.

In fact, a single serving of coconut water boasts more potassium than four bananas and less sugar than fruit juices. It keeps you energized, improves digestion, and supports exercise performance.

 

Matcha Green Tea

Matcha green tea has only one-fifth the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Additionally, it contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that slow down aging and boost immune function.

The caffeine in this beverage is slowly released into the bloodstream, providing steady energy with no crashes. Its effects last for as long as four hours. Plus, matcha contains l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and improves memory.

 

Wheatgrass Juice

Wheatgrass is best known for its detox properties. However, it does a lot more for your health! This herbal beverage can naturally boost your energy, slow the aging process, and scavenge free radicals.

Chlorophyll, the primary compound in wheatgrass juice, improves blood flow and supports cardiovascular health. It also delays the aging process due to its high content of enzymes.

 

Siberian Ginseng Tea

Another healthy alternative to coffee is Siberian ginseng tea. Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, it improves mental focus, wards off fatigue, and increases your energy levels.

Ginseng tea also supports digestive function and relieves nausea. For this reason, it’s an excellent substitute for coffee, especially during pregnancy.

Have you tried any of these energizing alternatives to coffee? What was your experience like? We want to hear from you!

5 Foolproof Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

By Andra Picincu

Ever wonder why some people never gain weight? It’s because they have a fast metabolism. A high metabolic rate makes it easier to stay lean and keep the pounds off.

Unfortunately, not everyone is born with a fast metabolism. Additionally, certain lifestyle factors, such as menopause, hormonal disorders, and stress, affect our ability to burn calories.

However, just because you have a slow metabolism, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to gain weight. Here are five foolproof ways to ignite your fat-burning engine:

Fill up on Protein

High-protein foods, such as poultry, tuna, and eggs, take longer to digest and break down. Your body works harder to process them, so you’ll burn more calories during digestion.

Studies show that protein increases metabolism by as much as 30 percent. Plus, this nutrient keeps you full longer and helps preserve lean mass.

 

Go Heavy in the Gym

When it comes to a faster metabolism, nothing beats strength training. This workout method promotes lean muscle growth and burns fat while increasing your metabolic rate. More muscle equals a higher energy expenditure.

You’ve probably seen those super fit super people in their 40s and 50s who look fitter and leaner than their younger peers. Despite their age, they have a fast metabolism and burn calories around the clock.

Their secret? Clean eating and heavy lifting.

 

Drink Green Tea

Green tea is so popular for a reason. This beverage not only promotes fat loss and revs up your energy but also boosts your metabolism.

The benefits of green tea are due to its high antioxidant content. This drink is rich in catechins, which increase fat oxidation and improve your liver’s ability to turn fat into energy. It also contains caffeine, which further elevates your metabolic rate.

 

Spice up Your Meals

Hot peppers, mustard, ginger, and other spicy foods raise your body’s core temperature, leading to a faster metabolism. Chili peppers, for instance, are rich in capsaicin, a natural compound that boosts energy expenditure and reduces energy intake. Basically, they improve your ability to burn calories and help you eat less throughout the day.

 

Get More Sleep

Sometimes, all you need to rev up your metabolism is a good night’s sleep. Skimping on sleep increases ghrelin and cortisol levels, which in turn, affects your metabolic rate.

Get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Take a warm bath, drink a cup of hot tea, and create a bedtime routine to catch more Zzz’s. The results might surprise you.

4 Things to Do Daily to Boost Your Brainpower

By Andra Picincu

A sharp brain makes it easier to focus at work, make smart decisions, and reach your goals. Despite your best intentions, there are times when you simply can’t think clearly or complete the tasks at hand. Stress, poor sleep, and daily worries keep you from functioning at your peak.

The good news is that you can naturally boost your brainpower by making simple lifestyle changes. Small things, such as reading more often and meditating 10 minutes per day, can go a long way toward brain health. Consistency is the key.

Do these things daily to keep your brain sharp and functioning optimally:

Meditate

Meditation triggers positive changes in the brain. It also improves its resiliency under stress, boosts memory, and even raises IQ.

This ancient practice has been shown to activate and sync both brain hemispheres, leading to greater processing power. At the same time, it stimulates the brain areas associated with creativity and learning.

To reap the benefits, meditate for at least 10 minutes every day. Do it at home, on your lunch break, or whenever you have some quiet time.

Do Something New

Whenever you do something new, your brain creates new neural pathways. This results in greater intelligence and improved learning abilities.

Try a new activity, solve puzzles, or learn a new language. Commit to doing something new on a daily basis.

Get More Exercise

Exercise benefits both your mind and body. It promotes the growth and development of nervous tissues, which helps improve brain function. Plus, it relieves stress and anxiety.

Studies indicate that exercise keeps your brain sharp and boosts your productivity. In the long run, it reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and cognitive decline.

To keep your brain healthy, stay active throughout the day. Hit the gym, go jogging, or practice yoga. It’s that simple!

Eat Brain Foods

This may come up as a surprise, but what you eat affects brain health. Certain foods, especially those rich in omega-3 essential fats, protein, and antioxidants, can boost brainpower and sharpen your memory.

Coconut oil, for example, fuels your brain and scavenges free radicals. Due to its high fat content, it maintains the function and integrity of brain cell membranes.

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that prevent inflammation in the brain and neutralize oxidative stress. This lowers your risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

Make sure your diet includes wild salmon, tuna, avocado, eggs, turmeric, walnuts, and other brain foods. Leafy greens, nuts, and berries are an excellent choice too.

Simple Ways to Make Your Recipes Healthier

By Andra Picincu

Healthy eating is anything but boring. Whether you’re looking to cut calories or clean up your diet, it’s no need sacrifice flavor.

With some creativity, you can enjoy delicious meals and still keep fit. The key is to eliminate sugar, white flour, and other calorie-laden ingredients. How you cook your food matters too.

Need inspiration? Check out these simple ways to make your recipes healthier – and more flavorful:

Ditch the Sugar

Craving chocolate cake, ice cream, or pudding? No problem! Recreate your favorite recipes using stevia instead of sugar. Stevia is a natural sweetener that has no side effects and can be used in most dishes. Alternatively, you can opt for cinnamon, vanilla essence, or flavored protein powder.

Beware that honey, pureed fruits, juice concentrate, and other sweeteners are loaded with fructose, which is just another form of sugar. Even though it’s natural, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Researchers have linked fructose to weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, liver diseases, and even cancer.

Cook without White Flour

White flour has little or no fiber, and boasts a high glycemic index. This means that whenever you eat something made with flour, your blood sugar levels will go through the roof.

Since most desserts call for white flour, you need a healthier substitute. Almond flour, coconut flour, whole wheat flour, and flax meal are all an excellent choice.

For single-serving deserts, use protein powder instead of flour. One or two scoops will do the trick! Another option is Konjac flour, which has a lot of fiber and no carbs.

Add Greek Yogurt to Your List

Loaded with protein, Greek yogurt can replace sour cream, mayo, and vegetable oil in most recipes. It also makes a great addition to sauces and salad dressing. Plus, you’ll get just as much creaminess as you’d get with sour cream but without the extra calories and fats.

For instance, you can make a delicious ice cream using Greek yogurt, frozen berries, stevia, and cocoa powder or peanut butter. Or you can mix yogurt with garlic, parsley, sea salt, and pepper for a creamy sauce that goes well in salads and casseroles.

Say No to Fried Foods

Without a doubt, fried dishes taste amazing, but the risks are simply not worth. Frying increases the calorie content and glycemic index of food while releasing toxins that affect your health.

For instance, one serving of deep-fried cod fillet boasts 12 grams of fat and 232 calories. The same amount of baked fish has only one gram of fat and 105 calories. Now you do the math!

Bake, grill, roast, or steam your favorite foods so you can enjoy the flavor without the guilt!

How Does Stress Affect Your Health?

stress

By Andra Picincu.

Struggling with pain and aches? Feeling moody and low on energy? Or perhaps you’re having trouble sleeping at night? These signs might indicate that your stress levels are sky high.

Even though a little stress is normal, chronic stress can wreak havoc on your health. It messes up your hormones, affects your mood, and slows your metabolism.

Acute vs. Chronic Stress: What’s the Difference?

A staggering 77 percent of Americans experience physical symptoms due to stress. About 33 percent say they are struggling with extreme stress on a constant basis. Job pressure, financial problems, poor health, and relationship issues are often the culprits.

Stress is your body’s natural reaction to external threats. For instance, when you’re stuck in traffic or rushing to work, your cortisol and adrenaline levels go up. Your heart beats faster and you’re sweating more than usual.

As soon as you arrive at the destination, stress symptoms subside and your hormone levels return to normal. In this case, we’re talking about acute stress. This chemical reaction is perfectly normal and can be beneficial as it keeps you alert and motivated.

Chronic stress is a whole different story. It usually occurs after a trauma or results from a situation that has not been solved for months or years. For example, you may experience chronic stress if you’re constantly worried about money or work.

With chronic stress, your body is in alert mode 27/7. This means that your cortisol levels are high day and night, which in turn, affects mental and physical health. It can even trigger chronic disorders or worsen their symptoms.

 

The Dangers of Chronic Stress

The longer the stress lasts, the more it affects your mind and body. It drains your energy, leaves you fatigued, and weakens your immune system. Furthermore, cortisol – the stress hormone – promotes fat storage and lowers testosterone levels, leading to weight gain and muscle loss.

Researchers have linked chronic stress to a myriad of problems, from anxiety and depression to heart disease. According to a nine-year study, women who were constantly stressed experienced insomnia and poor sleep. Another study has found that stress affects our food choices and appetite, causing us to eat more and crave unhealthy foods.

In the long run, your risk of diabetes, stroke, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease may increase because of stress. The sooner you do something about it, the better. Make health a priority and squeeze more “me” time into your routine. Learn to relax, get more rest, and focus on the things that make you happy.

5 Surprising Benefits of Going Gluten-Free

By Andra Picincu

The gluten-free craze has taken the world by storm. More and more people are switching to gluten-free foods to enjoy better health and well-being. Even those who don’t have Celiac disease can benefit from making this change.

Gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and other grains, has been linked to digestive distress and allergic reactions. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity affects as much as 13 percent of the world’s population. Millions of people are allergic or sensitive to this protein without even realizing it.

The question is: should you give you up gluten for good? Let’s take a look at some surprising benefits of going gluten-free:

Increased Energy

Do you feel tired or sluggish after eating bread, cake, cookies, and other similar foods? Gluten might be the culprit!

This protein damages the lining of the small intestine, causing leaky gut syndrome. Over time, your body becomes less efficient at digesting and breaking down certain nutrients like zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron.

People with celiac disease, for instance, are at higher risk for iron deficiency anemia, which affects their health and energy levels.

Better Digestion

Gluten causes bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and other digestive problems. Even healthy individuals can experience these issues.

In a clinical trial, subjects with non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported fatigue, bloating, and changes in bowel habits after eating gluten every day for six weeks.

Lower Risk of Cancer

Research indicates that gluten may increase the risk of stomach cancer in people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. This protein has been also linked to a rare form of lymphoma, which affects the white blood cells.

Since gluten damages the GI tract and inhibits nutrient absorption, it may contribute to cancer. If your body doesn’t receive the vitamins and minerals needed to fight disease, its immune system becomes weaker.

Reduced Inflammation

This protein displays inflammatory properties. Over time, it may lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn, puts you at risk for heart disease, gout, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.

Studies have found that going gluten-free may decrease the levels of inflammatory markers and improve insulin response. If you suffer from chronic pain, eczema, psoriasis, or arthritis, ditch this ingredient from your daily meals. The benefits are immediate.

IBS Relief

As much as 25 percent of Americans are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re one of them, eliminate gluten from your diet. The grains containing this protein are also rich in oligosaccharides, which affect digestion and cause bloating.

Once you go gluten-free, you’ll feel a lot better. Studies confirm that IBS symptoms can be easily managed simply by removing this ingredient.

There are many other benefits associated with a gluten-free diet. Improved mental focus, weight loss, and stronger immunity are just a few to mention. Try it yourself – it’s one of the best things you can do for your health!

The Importance of Sleep

By Dr. Sannia Iqbal

Just like exercise is an integral part of a healthy life, so is the sleep. While we always come across recommendations that stress the importance of an active lifestyle, we somewhere forget that an adequate sleep is also necessary to maintain a good health. About 20-40% of adults face insomnia at some point of their lives. 4 out of 5 people have complaint of inadequate sleep.
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Discover the Surprising Health Benefits of Tea

By Andra Picincu
How often do you drink tea? Is it daily, once a week, or just occasionally? If you can’t remember the last time you’ve had a cup of tea, you’re losing out on the health benefits.

This beverage has the power to boost your immune system, increase your energy, and keep stress at bay. Plus, it promotes a good night’s sleep and supports mental well-being.

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