30.9.10

Keys to looking and feeling younger

Quest for the Fountain of Youth

If you happen to still be awake late at night, you will see any number of infomercials selling one product or another. Many of these products are marketed in a way that appeals to our desire to remain youthful. Examples include infomercials for cosmetics, ab machines, and exercise DVDs.

The efficacy of many of these products is questionable but they are all centered around the idea of bestowing strength, health, and youthfulness upon the consumer. For better or worse, we live in a youth-centric society where millions of people are eternally searching for the enigmatic fountain of youth.

After years of searching for the right product or program, many people become disillusioned with the quest for youth. They gradually become disheartened until eventually they quietly resign themselves to their apparent fate of simply "getting old". Fortunately, the reality of youthfulness and aging is not quite as bleak as some have thought up to this point in time.

Science and Medicine give us hope

Thanks to constant advances in the fields of gerontology (study of aging), psychoneuroimmunology (study of the connection between the mind and body), pathology (study of disease), and other fields of science, we are able to live longer than our ancestors were able to. In addition to increased lifespan, we now have the capacity to enjoy a higher quality of life as we continue to age.

As an example, back in the 1950's, few people truly understood the dangers of smoking. Now over 50 years later, everyday there are constant commercials and ads warning us not to smoke. We can take advantage of our knowledge that smoking can cause diseases like cancer and thus avoid adding to our risk.

Can our thoughts really make us healthier?

In this same way, there are certain key factors that we can manipulate to help us to stay youthful, healthy, and strong as we inevitably get older. The most important of all is to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude toward life. I know it may sound a bit like positive thinking mumbo jumbo to some people, but even science has recently verified the power of positive emotions on health.

Recent findings in the field of psychoneuroimmunology have shown that positive thoughts and emotions really do translate into better health via an improved immune system. Conversely, a negative mental attitude has been linked with lowered immunity against disease and illness. So, in other words happiness actually makes you healthier.

Don't forget diet and exercise

Other important factors for a long, healthy life include cardiovascular health, muscular strength, balance, and coordination. Regular exercise that includes both cardio and resistance training will help immensely in all of these areas. Cardio will strengthen the heart, improve circulation, and improve the body's ability to use oxygen efficiently.

Resistance training will build lean muscle mass (which decreases with age) and increase the density and strength of the bones (lowering risk of osteoporosis). Another benefit of exercise is that it can decrease bodyfat (which lowers risk of diseases such as diabetes).

Reduced bodyfat along with increased muscle mass will give anyone a much more youthful look and even more importantly a feeling of youth and vitality. Of course it is also essential to eat a healthy diet based on lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats such as olive oil.

22.8.10

4 Ways Resistance Training can benefit us as we age

Prevent Osteoporosis

Every year, many older adults suffer injuries from weakened bones due to osteoporosis. Maintaining strong bones and muscles has to be a top priority if we are to retain our freedom of movement.

One of the best ways to keep bones strong and healthy is to do resistance training such as weight lifting on a weekly basis. If lifting weights isn't your thing, you can do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, lunges, knee bends (bodyweight squats), calf raises, etc.

Build Stronger Muscles

Exercising with weights puts a demand on the body to get stronger and the body responds by not only building stronger muscles but also stronger bones. Speaking of muscles, building and maintaining lean muscle mass is beneficial for anyone at any age.

Increase Metabolism

Muscle cells burn more calories at rest than do fat cells so a higher proportion of muscle can result in a higher BMR (basal metabolic rate) which translates into a higher metabolism. Another benefit of muscle is the fact that a lean, muscular body can give you a more youthful appearance.

Develop a Lean, Toned Body

Contrary to popular belief, women who train with weights will not develop huge, bulky muscles like a man. The average woman is not going to look anything like that after a program of weight training. There is no real reason for women to fear lifting weights .

Professional female body builders in magazines and on television are either genetically gifted, train an insane amount of time, take special supplements, or use something illegal like steroids to achieve their massive muscular physiques.

For the average women, weight training will produce a leaner, tighter, more toned and defined body which is what most women consider to be sexy. Another fact to consider is that muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space. Two people can weigh exactly the same weight but the one with the higher proportion of lean muscle mass will appear leaner and slimmer.

10.7.10

Secret of relaxing and allowing our minds to be free

Need for More Personal Power

Ultimately, what each of us really wants in our lives is more personal power. Personal power represents our power to change our lives in a positive and meaningful way. In order for us to increase our personal power, we must replenish our inner reserves of energy on the mental, emotional, and physical levels.

Letting Go

Letting go of our need to micromanage everything in our lives 24/7 is a first necessary step in the process. It almost feels scary like releasing the grip on the steering wheel of a car while driving down the road. It sounds too unrealistic and child-like to allow our minds to be completely free and unburdened with the concerns of our daily lives.

Simplify your thought process

Ironically, a child-like approach is exactly what is required. If we observe little children at play, their minds become completely absorbed in whatever game they are playing. While they are playing, they have no worries, no cares, no concerns about what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow.

Their minds are completely free and they are happy and at peace with themselves and the world around them. We were all like that once. This is our natural state of being. The good news is that we can be like that again. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that by taking time on a daily basis to practice letting go that all of our problems will magically disappear.

But what about the real world?

We live in the real world and we know that is not going to happen. However, we can empower ourselves and increase our levels of happiness, peace, and joy by allowing ourselves to be free from the inside out. There are things we can do to accomplish this objective.

Meditation and visualization are examples of powerful tools available to assist us along our paths of self-realization and personal empowerment. They can help us to free our minds and tap into our true source of inner strength and creativity.

Going for a nice walk, listening to music, reading a good book, taking a bubble bath, engaging in a favorite hobby, going on a vacation, etc. can allow the mind to rest and recuperate only if we are willing to let go of everything else while we are enjoying such activities.

Why is it so hard for us to let go and relax

Releasing the feeling of control

Fortunately for us, our minds can receive tremendous benefits from even taking a short mental rest. As little as ten or fifteen minutes a day of letting go of our problems and concerns can go a long way towards reducing our daily stress and tension.

The problem is that it is not easy for many of us to let go of our problems because we are not willing to give up the feeling of control that obsessing over them gives us. By putting constant focus on actively working on our problems, we feel as if we have more control or influence on them.

All work and no play

We are taught that in order to succeed we must work hard and put in a lot of effort in order to achieve anything worthwhile. It is true that a certain amount of work, focus, and dedication is necessary to accomplish our goals.

After all, we have to put in something in order to get something back right? For example, if we wanted to make money in the stock market, we would have to be willing to invest some of our money in some stocks.

While work and effort definitely have their importance, we also need a break from work and effort in order for us to grow and get stronger mentally and emotionally. The problem is that even when we do take a break oftentimes it is not a real break.

Our minds are still focused on our cares, worries, financial concerns, personal issues, career/work related issues, family problems, problems in the world, etc. These thoughts act like computer programs that are running silently in the background of our minds.

Getting away from it all

We may try to "get away from it all" by watching a TV show, eating food, having sex, going on a vacation, etc. but in reality our problems are still in the back of our minds. We think we are relaxing but what many of us do is press the pause button on the remote control in our minds.

We haven't changed the channel we have only temporarily halted it. Soon those channels of problems and worries start playing again.

A Re-Energized Mind is a Powerful Mind

Running Out of Energy

We spend our days with our minds constantly preoccupied with work, school, responsibilities, financial problems, taking care of our families, worry about the future, personal problems and issues, etc.

We grow up in a society that teaches us that in order to improve our lives we have to work harder and harder. The problem with working harder and harder is that eventually we reach a point in which our inner reserves of energy (both mental and physical) can no longer support our hectic lifestyles. It is like trying to make a car go forward that has just run out of gas.

Look at it This Way

There is another way to look at this. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this condition of expended energy with a lack of reserve energy is considered a Yin/Yang imbalance.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the concept of opposing yet complementary forces of the universe with Yang representing the energy of activity or movement and Yin representing the energy of inactivity and rest (energy reserves).

In simple terms, if you use up too much Yang (energy of activity) without replenishing your Yin (energy reserves), you will become just like that car that has run out of gas.

Many of us spend our lives constantly on the go. Once we no longer have the energy to keep up the pace that we have set for ourselves, we become full of anxiety over what will become of our lives. We think to ourselves that if we don't work harder and harder how will we ever achieve our goals and dreams?

Less is More

The reality is that in life less is often more. For example, sometimes writers need to periodically take a break from writing and do some other less mentally taxing activities in order to give the mind a chance to rest.

Once the mind has refreshed itself, new ideas, solutions for problems, and creativity will flow easily and effortlessly. Personally, some of my best ideas come to me when my mind is completely detached from writing and I'm mentally engaged in some relaxing or pleasurable activity.

A Rested Mind Grows Stronger

Our minds don't just recharge and refresh themselves when properly rested but actually get stronger. The mind grows more powerful during rest than when mentally occupied with activity. Bodybuilding provides a useful analogy to further illustrate this point.

In bodybuilding, muscles grow during rest and not while they are actually being exercised. Weight lifting causes tiny microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. After a workout, the body goes into repair mode and begins to rebuild and strengthen the damaged muscle fibers by making them bigger or stronger than before. As muscles get stronger over time, their capacity to do work is increased.

In bodybuilding, overtraining combined with insufficient rest can lead to injuries and a loss of muscle development. An overworked mind likewise is susceptible to becoming overwhelmed and various negative mental and emotional conditions can occur such as anxiety, depression, frustration, and a feeling of being stressed out.

It is not only important but actually necessary for our minds to get regular intervals of rest and recuperation. In our modern society, the idea of easing up and letting your mind be free of your cares and worries sounds almost ludicrous when we have so many responsibilities and things that demand our attention.

23.3.10

5 Ways Broccoli can keep you looking young and sexy

And the Academy Award Goes To..................

In the movie industry, the best actor of the year receives the Oscar award. In sports, the best player of the year receives the MVP award. They don't usually give out an award for the vegetable of the year but if they did I wouldn't be surprised if the humble broccoli won it.

There are few vegetables that can come close to matching the health benefits of this mighty member of the cruciferous family of vegetables which includes its first cousin the equally humble cauliflower. If you want to maintain your youthfulness or regain some lost youth, it would be wise to include broccoli in your weekly diet.

Broccoli Flexing its Vitamin C Muscles

First off, ounce for ounce broccoli's vitamin C content rivals that of the orange which is more well known for its vitamin C content. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. Vitamin C is needed by the body to produce collagen which acts like a glue that holds cells together and increases their structural integrity.

Younger looking Skin

Collagen is an important component of many parts of the body such as the skin, bones, tendons, etc. Collagen helps to give firmness to bodily tissues. As we age, the body starts to suffer from a loss of collagen.

Wrinkles in skin are a sign of collagen depletion as there is less collagen to maintain the firm skin of youth. By eating broccoli and other foods rich in vitamin C, you can help improve the appearance of your skin.

Broccoli Brings Fiber and Other Vitamins to the Party

In addition to vitamin C, broccoli is a great source of other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and folic acid (a member of the B-Complex vitamins). Broccoli is also a rich source of fiber which is something that the average American does not get enough of on a regular basis.

Broccoli contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and thus can provide you with the distinct health benefits of both which includes reducing your risk for certain diseases and lowering cholesterol levels.

Broccoli Helps Knock Out Cancer

In addition to its supply of vitamins and minerals, broccoli contains natural compounds called phytonutrients that make it a potent protector against cancer. Researchers have discovered that eating several servings of broccoli (and other members of the cruciferous family of vegetables) per week can reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

Preserve Your Eyesight

Broccoli can also help preserve your eyesight due to high levels of carotenoids which have been shown to reduce the occurrence of cataracts. Broccoli is an incredible vegetable that can keep you looking and feeling better as you age.

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25.2.10

5 Reasons Why Fiber is One of Your Best Friends

Can Fiber help you lose weight?

Fiber isn't exactly one of the first things that jumps into the average person's mind when thinking of weight loss. Yet fiber can be your best friend if losing excess weight is a concern to you. Some foods really stand out when it comes to providing fiber that will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. First, let's take a look at what fiber is.

What Exactly is Fiber made of?

Like starches, fiber is composed of chains of sugar molecules. Although technically a carbohydrate, fiber cannot be digested by humans because we lack the right enzymes necessary to break it down into glucose (the same sugar found in blood) so it can be digested. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Types of Fiber

Soluble fiber is fiber that can dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water. Soluble fiber has drawn a lot of attention from the medical community due to some of its health benefits. Soluble fiber promotes the growth of friendly bacteria (probiotics) in the intestinal tract.

Friendly Bacteria Get in the Game

The friendly bacteria are able to partially digest the soluble fiber and break it down into short-chain fatty acids that provide another energy source for the cells lining the colon.

Friendly bacteria in the gut also manufacture some B-vitamins and also help to keep harmful bacteria and fungi in check. Soluble fiber also absorbs toxins and heavy metals such as mercury and helps the body to eliminate them.

Soluble Fiber Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Soluble fiber also lowers cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and preventing them from circulating back to the liver. Soluble fiber helps to normalize blood sugar levels by slowing the body's absorption of glucose following a meal. This can be helpful to diabetics and also to people with weight issues.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Normalized blood sugar levels lessen the amount of insulin the body needs to release to escort sugar into its cells. Since high levels of insulin can promote fat storage, lower insulin levels can help the body to burn fat instead of storing fat.

Keeps Things Moving Along

Insoluble fiber is not without its benefits. Insoluble fiber helps to move food through the digestive tract faster. This prevents constipation and lowers the risk for some diseases.

Feel Fuller Without Adding Extra Calories

Another benefit of fiber in regards to weight loss is the fact that fiber provides a feeling of fullness which makes a meal feel more satisfying without adding extra calories. When consuming a high fiber diet, it is of great importance to drink plenty of water as fiber tends to absorb water in the colon and can cause constipation if you don't drink enough water.

How much do we need per day?


Most foods that are good sources of fiber contain a mix of soluble and insoluble (although most tend to have more of one or the other). So, how much fiber do we need on a daily basis? Adult men up to the age of 50 need 38 grams and adult men age 51 and older need 30 grams. Adult women up to the age of 50 need 25 grams and adult women age 51 and older need 21 grams.

These figures are based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (these figures may change over time so check for the latest recommendations). The best foods to eat to get plenty of fiber in your daily diet are legumes such as kidney beans and green peas, berries such as raspberries and blackberries, whole grains such as oatmeal, and vegetables such as broccoli and leafy green vegetables.

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