Being sick with the flu is the worst, especially during the holiday season when you would rather be eating cookies and sipping on spiked eggnog. So, it might be a good idea to get the flu shot to protect your immune health, especially if you're one of those people that just seems to catch everything that's going around.
The flu vaccine is available in a shot or nasal spray form. While the vaccine doesn't protect against every type of influenza the same as others, it's formulated to reduce your symptoms of the most virulent and common strains of influenza each season. The flu vaccine is advised for anyone older than six months. and it's especially recommended for seniors, pregnant women, children, people with disabilities, those living in nursing homes, people who are overweight or people with lowered immune systems due to health conditions.
You can get the flu vaccine whenever it is available in your area, which often begins as early as September. Most people should try to be vaccinated by the end of October, as there are occasionally shortages of the shot. The flu season typically peaks in January or February, and it has been known to last until May. Thus, even if you don't receive the flu shot until December, it will likely still be worth it.
While the vaccine has been shown to be effective in making one's symptoms less severe, it doesn't automatically prevent you from getting the flu. There are other things you can do to protect yourself. Try an immunity booster like Symbiotics Colostrum Plus Immune Formula, which supports a robust gastrointestinal tract and helps protect you by keeping your immune system strong.
Multivitamins are dietary supplements that contain a combination of vitamins, which are organic substances in plants and animals that our bodies depend on. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in an April 2012 study, the majority of Americans get enough vitamins every day in their diets. However, there are plenty of people who can benefit from a multivitamins. It's important to talk to your doctor first, but here are people who might really need to take a vitamin supplement to support their daily diet:
- Adults who are 50 or older could benefit from a multivitamin that contains vitamins B-12 and D, especially if they don't eat enough B-12-foritified foods. It's common for older adults to be deficient in B-12 for various reasons, and they often can't absorb as much vitamin D as their bodies need.
- People who have several food allergies, are lactose intolerant or are limiting foods from their diets for other reasons will often need a multivitamin.
- Strict vegetarians with limited diets should consider a multivitamin, especially because it can be difficult to get vitamins D and B-12 from vegetarian meals.
- Doctors will often recommend a multivitamin for those with an acute or chronic medical condition who are unable to absorb adequate nutrients from their foods, such as going chemotherapy.
- Pregnant and lactating women will need to take a special prenatal multivitamin.
Sometimes extreme changes aren't as weird as they seem. When Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic took the advice of his doctor to make some major dietary changes in 2010, people called him eccentric. Turns out, the tennis pro – then ranked in the top-10 in the world – had some major surprises up his sleeve, as soon after his dietary restrictions, he became the number one tennis player in the world.
So what were dietary changes did he make? Djokovic decided to go completely gluten-free. He also avoids dairy and caffeine, including two favorites in most people's diets: coffee and chocolate. For some unknown reason, he has also reduced his intake of tomatoes. Djokovic swears by this diet, saying it gives him more energy and he lost 11 pounds right away. Still, in an August 2013 Wall Street Journal interview, he admitted it was difficult at first.
"First few months, you know, I felt that need for sugar instantly after the meal, if you know what I mean. I would just take teas now and kind of try to satisfy my needs. But it wasn't as easy, you know," Djokovic said.
While gluten-free and various other dietary restrictions aren't for everyone, Djokovic surely benefited. He was up against Rafael Nadal in the championship game of the U.S. Open this year. Though Nadal bested him, Djokovic certainly has come a long way and will most likely remain a major force in the tennis world.
If you're interested in going gluten-free or making other dietary restrictions, either for health or weight-loss reasons, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist first to find out if you should supplement your new diet with a multivitamin.
Everyone has heard talk about GMOs recently. These genetically modified organisms have been all over the news, blogs and various social networking sites for awhile. Some people are concerned about them while others are not. If you don't know what the discussion is all about, here's some info to get you tuned in to the conversation:
What are GMOs?
Despite the semi-frightening name, genetically modified organisms are not extra-terrestrial blobs that are ready to take over the world. GMOs in fact are plants or animals whose genes have been modified in a lab by scientists using bacteria or viruses to make them more resistant to pesticides or crop blights or to produce their own insecticides.
What are they in?
According to a study by the Center for Food Safety, GMOs are in 60 to 70 percent of the products on our supermarket shelves. The most common genetically modified crops are soybeans (at least 85 percent of soybean crops in the U.S.), corn, oils for consumption and animal feed. As corn products, soy and various oils make up a large part of processed foods and the majority of farmed animals likely eat GMO feed, some people are very concerned about the amount of GMOs consumed in the U.S. There are various movements to limit GMO production and to label foods containing GMOs, though little research can be done on GMOs because most of the seeds are patented.
Many people say that GMOs cause various health problems in humans. More research needs to be done on their impact on the human body, but GMOs – 80 percent of which are meant to be pesticide-resistant – are likely bad for the environment because they encourage liberal use of pesticides, which have been shown to wreak havoc on the environment, animals and human bodies.
However, not everyone is against GMOs. Genetically engineering crops to resist common diseases or drought can help feed hungry people. Additionally, if the technology is used for good, it can improve the diets of impoverished people around the world, as is the case with the development of golden rice, which includes beta carotene, a very important nutrient for health.
Research has shown that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school – they can concentrate more easily and have improved memory. So, set your children up for success with these foods to give them sustained fuel throughout the day:
- Eggs: Aside from having protein, eggs are also important for kids because the yolks are an excellent source of choline, a B vitamin that is especially important in childhood for healthy brain and liver development and memory. For picky eaters, make eggs more appealing by scrambling them with cheese or serving them in the form of a breakfast sandwich. Other excellent sources of choline – though perhaps less amenable to the young palette – are tofu, beans, Brussels sprouts, yogurt and lean beef. Buckwheat is also an excellent source of choline – use it to make pancakes or waffles, which kids typically love.
- Whole-grain cereal or oatmeal: These breakfast or anytime foods are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber and are kid-friendly foods. Even the pickiest kids like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so put tasty, natural ingredients between whole-grain bread.
- Leafy greens: It's hard to get kids, and even some adults, to eat leafy greens. But they provide plenty of iron, which is good for brain development. Try to hide spinach in a "green smoothie," mixed with berries, Greek yogurt, honey, other fruit and ice. You can even name it to make it more appealing to children.
- Berries: It's often pretty easy to get kids to eat berries, which have important antioxidants that have been shown to improve memory. However, if you have a particularly picky eater, smoothies are always the way to go when it comes to berries.
- Bright veggies: These also have antioxidants important for brain health. If you can't find other ways to get your kids to eat them, bake them as fun and tasty veggie chips.
Even though they’re solid, bones are dynamic, living tissue, made mostly from collagen and calcium phosphate, a mineral that hardens bone exterior. But as you age, existing bone breaks down faster than new bone is made, increasing risk of osteoporosis, a condition that reduces bone density and raises chance of fractures. Support your skeleton at any age with these expert suggestions.
Pump up protein
Collagen, a certain type of protein, forms bones’ scaffolding, enabling them to withstand stress. If you’re protein deficient, bones can become brittle, leading to breakage no matter how much calcium they contain because the body makes collagen from amino acids, protein’s building blocks. Get 15 percent to 25 percent of your daily calories from various protein sources. Good choices include organic, grass-fed buffalo; free-range eggs; and sprouted legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Limit acidic foods
Foods common in poor diets (pizza, white bread, potato chips, sweets) promote an acidic body environment. To achieve and maintain a healthy, neutral blood pH, your body will scavenge important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and silica from more alkaline tissues, such as bone, which weakens them. Limit acidic foods like processed foods, sugar, grains, dairy, and caffeine or alcohol, and increase pH-balancing vegetables like zucchini and cucumber.
Watch calcium intake
Calcium isn’t the only player in bone density; in fact, many people actually have too much calcium in their bodies, which can contribute to kidney stones, joint pain, and possibly heart disease. Vitamin K2 regulates excess calcium deposits and supports bone integrity. Try 100 mcg vitamin K2 per day.
Weight-bearing exercises activate bone cells called osteoblasts, which form new bones. Climb stairs, hike, bike, or run for at least 30 minutes every day. Walking uphill is also a safe alternative if you cannot do high-impact activity. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, exercise with a physical therapist’s guidance.
The hormones parathyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol all influence bone health. When one hormone is deficient, it causes a domino effect that imbalances other hormones, diminishing calcium absorption and deteriorating bones. If you’re a menopausal woman or a man with unusually low energy levels, work with an endocrinologist to get your hormone levels tested and develop a comprehensive hormone balance plan.[box]THE WRINKLES-BONES CONNECTION
Everyone gets wrinkles, whether from sun exposure, processed foods, or ageing. But research from the Yale School of Medicine shows deeper wrinkles may also indicate lower bone density, increasing fracture risk. Why? Skin and bones share the same building block proteins, including collagen, which keeps skin taut.
The Fix: Take 2,000 mg collagen (including types I and III) daily and eat foods containing lysine, an amino acid that helps your body build collagen and absorb calcium. Lysine-rich foods include fish, egg whites, and legumes. For overall skin health and wrinkle prevention, also opt for free radical-fighting fruits and vegetables, along with healthy oils such as alive oil and flaxseed oil.[/box] [hr]
Many people look forward to living a long life. But it’s hard to find someone who isn’t concerned with the physical symptoms that come with aging, from wrinkles to joint pain. In fact, a recent study found that habitual sunbathers are more likely to kick their habit at the threat of wrinkles than that of cancer. And as Baby Boomers reach their golden years, many are looking for ways to maintain their youthful appearance and lifestyle without undergoing injections and other invasive procedures. Shoppers seeking to naturally promote antiaging from the inside out have an ally in the supplement aisle: BioCell Collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body, accounting for 30 percent of our total supply, and it mostly resides in connective tissues in the skin and joints such as cartilage, skin dermis, bones, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. When we’re young, collagen is abundant and allows us to move with ease, plus enables our skin to stretch and move without sagging or developing wrinkles. As we age, collagen production naturally slows and the overall amount depletes, which can result in undesirable wrinkles in the skin and painful stiffness in the joints.
Over 20 different types of collagen have been identified, but generally speaking, you’ll find two types in the supplement aisle: type I, which is abundant and found primarily in the hides, bones, and skin of animals, and type II, which is rarer because it is only found in cartilage where it naturally coexists with hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate in a blood-free environment.
Of these types, collagen is either unhydrolyzed (also known as undenatured) or hydrolyzed. In its original, unhydrolyzed state, collagen molecules are very large and therefore not effectively absorbed by the body. Hydrolyzation breaks down the collagen into small molecular weight fragments to maximize absorption, explains Joosang Park, MD, vice president of scientific affairs at BioCell Technology, makers of BioCell Collagen—a patented ingredient comprised of naturally occurring hydrolyzed collagen type II, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid.
The science of BioCell Collagen
When it comes to skin care, studies show that BioCell Collagen can reduce skin dryness and wrinkles. In a study, a daily 1 gram dose of BioCell Collagen yielded a significant increase in the skin’s collagen (including types I and III) content after just six weeks; the study’s participants saw a visual difference in the skin—a 76 percent reduction in dryness and a 13 percent reduction in fine lines and wrinkles—after the full 12 weeks of treatment.
BioCell Collagen also was shown to offer relief to those suffering from joint discomfort. In a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human study of 80 participants with a chronic history of joint pain, study participants experienced a significant reduction in pain and stiffness.
BioCell Collagen’s patented composition also delivers chondroitin sulfate, which provides shock-absorbing properties to joint cartilage, and hyaluronic acid (HA), which is critical to achieving lubricated joints and smooth, hydrated skin. In fact, in a human study, participants who took daily doses of BioCell Collagen saw hyaluronic acid levels increase 60-fold in their blood during the 28 days of the study period.
Furthermore, BioCell Collagen has been shown to inhibit hyaluronidase, the enzyme that destroys HA. Thus, BioCell Collagen packs an impressive dual HA mechanism to tackle aging-associated dehydration as well as replenish the loss of the various essential structural components of skin.
As a validation of the strong science, Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate has approved BioCell Collagen to help relieve joint pain associated with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee and to help maintain healthy skin.
It’s impossible to turn back the clock on aging, but supplemental collagen can help stimulate the body’s own regenerative potential to achieve younger looking skin and more active joints … without going under the knife.
Look for BioCell Collagen in oral supplements such as Ultimate HA (Purity Products), BioCell Collagen (Health Logics), Jusuru Life Blend (Jusuru International), Hydroplenish (Nature’s Way) and Collagen Booster (Reserveage), and many other fine nutritional and skincare brands.
1. Mind your antioxidants
Known as the body’s “master” antioxidant, glutathione (GSH) combats free radicals and helps support immunity, the gastrointestinal and nervous systems, and more. Your body is most vulnerable to oxidative insult when you wake up—especially if you had a drink the night before, since the body uses glutathione stores to metabolize alcohol, says Lise Alschuler, ND, author of Five to Thrive (Active Interest Media, 2011). A low-nutrient breakfast of coffee and toast will send levels even lower, making this a great time to supplement with glutathione’s precursors, glutamine or N-acetylcysteine (NAC).
2. Moisturize and protect
Every morning, address the two most important skin care concerns—moisturizing and UV protection—by applying one dual-action natural cream.
Look for a product with nourishing oils, protective antioxidants, and minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to fight UVA and UVB rays. If you plan on spending more than 10 minutes in the sun, make sure you also use an SPF 30, or a moisturizer that includes an SPF 30.
3. Sleep tight
Sure, you feel better, but it’s no myth you’ll look better too when you get sufficient rest. Why? When you’re anxious or not getting enough sleep, cortisol, the “stress hormone,” increases and attacks collagen—the important protein that keeps your skin taut. But during sleep, your body produces human growth hormone (HGH), which rebuilds and rejuvenates skin cells. Aim for eight quality hours nightly. If that’s not feasible: Tack on an extra half-hour per week, squeeze in 20-minute naps when you can, and exercise regularly to improve circulation and release stress-fighting endorphins.
4. Focus on cooking technique
Minimize damage from advanced glycation end products (these distort skin’s collagen) by boiling, steaming, poaching, or stewing your foods. “We don’t say, ‘never enjoy a grilled food,’” says Alan Logan, ND, coauthor of Your Skin, Younger (Cumberland House, 2010). But something as simple as poaching an egg, rather than frying it, can make a significant difference in AGE levels. In fact, high water content in the Japanese diet may be one reason why Japanese people tend to have fewer visible aging signs than Caucasians, says Logan.
5. Take skin-supportive supplements
What you put into your body is just as important as what you put on it. In addition to loading up on water- and nutrient-dense foods, supplement with collagen, a protein found in our connective tissues that helps keep skin wrinkle-free, and hyaluronic acid (HA), the hydrating sponge-like substance that provides skin with elasticity and moisture, to support a youthful complexion. As we age, we experience the loss of both, making supplementation important. Learn more about collagen from sponsor BioCell.[hr]
If everyone used the excuse that they're just too busy to work out, no one would be fit. The truth is, we all have many commitments. Of course you're not going to have time for a 5-mile run, 20-mile bike ride or long lifting session at the gym everyday, especially when factoring in the time it takes to get ready, drive to the gym, workout, cool down and shower. We all have too many commitments and responsibilities. But aside from being good for our physical health, exercise is often also an important factor in self-esteem and happiness levels. If you have time to watch your favorite television show for an hour every Monday night, then you definitely have time for a quick 15- or 20-minute workout. Here's a short but serious exercise routine that you can do every morning before hopping in the shower and heading off to work:
This core workout will make you feel the burn with only 15 minutes of exercise! Do the circuit three times, but make sure to rest for one minute between each round.
- 20 crunches: Raise legs and bend at the knees so lower legs are parallel to the floor.
- Leg raise: Lay on your back with your hands under your butt, palms down on the mat. Raise your feet 6 inches off the ground and hold for 30 seconds.
- Scissors: Keep the same position as above but raise one leg 6 inches higher than the other. Alternate your legs in a scissors motion for 30 seconds, making sure they don't touch the ground.
- Plank: Flip over and hold the plank position for 30 seconds. In the next two repetitions of this circuit, do a side plank on your left and then right sides.
- Bicycles: Finish the routine off with 30 bicycle-style crunches, adopting the basic crunch position but alternating touching the elbows to the opposite knees for each repetition.
Everyone loves snacks – they often help us get through the toughest days. But if you're on a diet, you're likely limiting your snacks because they connote something unhealthy that you shouldn't be having. In fact, it's good to eat healthy snacks when you're hungry – denying yourself food when you need it is not a great idea for both health and psychological reasons. But if you choose diet-friendly snacks, you'll stay on course and feel good. Here are some great healthy snack ideas:
- Popcorn: This healthy popped treat adds plenty of good fiber to your diet. Just make sure to choose lightly salted popcorn without artificial butter, which is not a healthy option.
- Chips: No, not potato chips – veggie chips, like beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, kale and carrots. Simply use a mandolin to slice them thinly, place the vegetables on a parchment paper lined sheet and sprinkle modestly with salt and pepper and bake them at 300 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how thinly you've sliced them.
- Yogurt: Try plain Greek yogurt with fresh, in-season berries and a drizzle of honey. This high-protein snack is a good way to get you through the rest of your day.
- Crackers: If you're craving carbs, it's OK to eat a few multi-grain crackers that are low in fat and sodium. Top them with hummus and an avocado slice for a heart-healthy snack that's also delicious. If you just can't say no to cheese, swiss is a great low-fat cheese that's tasty, too.
- Oatmeal: Oats don't really seem like a snack, but they're filling ad provide excellent complex carbs that keep your blood-sugar level throughout the day. Give your oatmeal a protein boost by mixing in Naturade Pea Protein in Vanilla.