August 31, 2013

Why Sleep is More Important Than We Ever Thought

Sleep Controls Your Diet
 The debate about the best way to achieve a healthy weight always revolves around eating and movement. If you want to look better, the most common suggestion is "eat less and move more." But it's not that simple, or even accurate. Sometimes you want to eat less and move more, but it seems impossible to do so. And there might be a good reason: Between living your life, working, and exercising, you're forgetting to sleep enough. Or maybe, more importantly, you don't realize that sleep is the key to being rewarded for your diet and fitness efforts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. And when you consider that the statistic for obesity is nearly identical, it's easy to connect the dots and discover that the connection is not a coincidence.

Not sleeping enough-less than seven hours of sleep per night-can reduce and undo the benefits of dieting, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study, dieters were put on different sleep schedules. When their bodies received adequate rest, half of the weight they lost was from fat. However when they cut back on sleep, the amount of fat lost was cut in half-even though they were on the same diet. What's more, they felt significantly hungrier, were less satisfied after meals, and lacked energy to exercise. Overall, those on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55 percent reduction in fat loss compared to their well-rested counterparts.

Poor Sleep Changes Your Fat Cells
 Think about the last time you had a bad night of sleep. How did you feel when you woke up? Exhausted. Dazed. Confused. Maybe even a little grumpy? It's not just your brain and body that feel that way-your fat cells do too. When your body is sleep deprived, it suffers from "metabolic grogginess." The term was coined by University of Chicago researchers who analyzed what happened after just four days of poor sleep-something that commonly happens during a busy week. One late night at work leads to two late nights at home, and next thing you know, you're in sleep debt.

But it's just four nights, so how bad could it be? You might be able to cope just fine. After all, coffee does wonders. But the hormones that control your fat cells don't feel the same way.

 Within just four days of sleep deprivation, your body's ability to properly use insulin (the master storage hormone) becomes completely disrupted. In fact, the University of Chicago researchers found that insulin sensitivity dropped by more than 30 percent.

Here's why that's bad: When your insulin is functioning well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. And this is exactly how you become fat and suffer from diseases like diabetes.

Lack of Rest Makes You Crave Food

 Many people believe that hunger is related to willpower and learning to control the call of your stomach, but that's incorrect. Hunger is controlled by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin.Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells. The less leptin you produce, the more your stomach feels empty. The more ghrelin you produce, the more you stimulate hunger while also reducing the amount of calories you burn (your metabolism) and increasing the amount fat you store. In other words, you need to control leptin and ghrelin to successfully lose weight, but sleep deprivation makes that nearly impossible.

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloy and Metabolism found that sleeping less than six hours triggers the area of your brain that increases your need for food while also depressing leptin and stimulating ghrelin.

 If that's not enough, the scientists discovered exactly how sleep loss creates an internal battle that makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. When you don't sleep enough, your cortisol levels rise. This is the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain. Cortisol also activates reward centers in your brain that make you want food. At the same time, the loss of sleep causes your body to produce more ghrelin. A combination of high ghrelin and cortisol shut down the areas of your brain that leave you feeling satisfied after a meal, meaning you feel hungry all the time-even if you just ate a big meal.

And it gets worse. Lack of sleep also pushes you in the direction of the foods you know you shouldn't eat. A study published in Nature Communications found that just one night of sleep deprivation was enough to impair activity in your frontal lobe, which controls complex decision-making. Ever had a conversation like this?"I really shouldn't have that extra piece of cake… then again, one slice won't really hurt, right?"

Turns out, sleep deprivation is a little like being drunk. You just don't have the mental clarity to make good complex decisions, specifically with regards to the foods you eat-or foods you want to avoid. This isn't helped by the fact that when you're overtired, you also have increased activity in the amygdala, the reward region of your brain. This is why sleep deprivation destroys all diets; think of the amygdala as mind control-it makes you crave high-calorie foods. Normally you might be able to fight off this desire, but because your insular cortex (another portion of your brain) is weakened due to sleep deprivation, you have trouble fighting the urge and are more likely to indulge in all the wrong foods.

And if all that wasn't enough, research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that sleep deprivation makes you select greater portion sizes of all foods, further increasing the likelihood of weight gain.

 The bottom line: Not enough sleep means you're always hungry, reaching for bigger portions, and desiring every type of food that is bad for you-and you don't have the proper brain functioning to tell yourself, "No!"

Sleep Sabotages Gym Time

Unfortunately the disastrous impact spreads beyond diet and into your workouts. No matter what your fitness goals are, having some muscle on your body is important. Muscle is the enemy of fat-it helps you burn fat and stay young. But sleep (or lack thereof) is the enemy of muscle. Scientists from Brazil found that sleep debt decreases protein synthesis (your body's ability to make muscle), causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher incidence of injuries.Just as important, lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise by slowing down the production of growth hormone-your natural source of anti-aging and fat burning that also facilitates recovery. This happens in two different ways:

1. Poor sleep means less slow wave sleep, which is when the most growth hormone is released.

2. As previously mentioned, a poor night of rest increases the stress hormone cortisol, which slows down the production of growth hormone. That means that the already reduced production of growth hormone due to lack of slow wave sleep is further reduced by more cortisol in your system. It's a vicious cycle.If you're someone who doesn't particularly enjoy exercise, not prioritizing sleep is like getting a physical examine with your father-in-law as the investigating physician: It will make something you don't particularly enjoy almost unbearable. When you're suffering from slept debt, everything you do feels more challenging, specifically your workouts.

The Better Health Secret: Prioritize Sleep
The connection between sleep and weight gain is hard to ignore. Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who are sleep deprived are a third more likely to gain 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who receive just seven hours of sleep per night. And with all of the connections to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and cognitive failure, the need to sleep goes far beyond just looking better and seeing results from your diet and exercise efforts.

While there's no hard number that applies to all people, a good rule of thumb is to receive between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, and to make sure that one poor night of sleep isn't followed up with a few more. It might not seem like much, but it could make all the difference and mean more than any other health decision you make.

10 Useful Garlic Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

  • Raw, freshly minced garlic has the most health benefits. If you cannot stand the smell and must cook it, you need at least four and a half cloves to get the same effect.
  • Although garlic is sometimes called “the stinking rose,” it can actually cure your rose plants from aphid attacks. Simply mix crushed garlic with water and spritz the leaves and flowers with the spray.
  • Drinking lemon juice or eating a few slices of lemon will stop bad garlic breath.
  • The flavor of garlic is most intense just after it has been minced.
  • Garlic applied on wounds can heal them faster. During World War I, this healing quality of garlic was harnessed intensively by British soldiers.
  • A crushed clove of raw garlic, gently rubbed on skin, can zap a pesky pimple. The secret: a powerful compound called allicin, which makes garlic among the most antioxidant-rich foods on earth.
  • Sprouted garlic loses some of its health benefits, but can still be used.
  • A Pennsylvania University research found that a compound called Diallyl disulfide in garlic could shrink bowel cancer cells. An important Washington State University study has conclusively proved that this compound is 100 times more effective than other antibiotics in easing bacteria-borne digestive ailments.
  • What’s the ideal dosage of garlic for you to derive all its amazing health benefits? The University of Maryland Medical Center, recommends daily 2 to 4 g of fresh, minced garlic clove; 600 to 1,200 mg daily if using aged garlic extract; two 200 mg tablets three times a day if using freeze-dried garlic; 4 ml daily of fluid garlic extract; 20 mL daily of garlic tincture or 0.03 to 0.12 ml three times daily if using garlic oil.
  • Not all is good about garlic and it is certainly not for everyone. Those on blood-thinning medication must not take garlic, because it inhibits the clotting of blood. For the same reason, garlic should not be taken before a surgery.

August 30, 2013

U.S. Geological Survey's Bee Inventory (12pics)

 Augochlorella aurata, Female
New images, captured as part of the US Geological Survey's bee inventory, depict bees in a range of colours including deep blue and bright green.
 Perdita luteola, Female
Researchers spent almost 10 years capturing photographs of North America's 4,000 different bee species.
 Hylaeus modestus, Male
Dozens of individual pictures of each species, taken at different ranges, were combined to make composite images with a greater depth of field, allowing the insects to be studied more closely.
 Nomia universitatis, Male
The system was originally developed by the US Army to capture high quality images of pests found on foreign bases, so that they could be identified by experts.
 Halictus ligatus, Female
This pollen-covered bee was collected in the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia.
 Osmia distincta
Sam Droege, head of the program, explained that the appearance of different bee species varies enormously but that most are ignored because they do not sting us and do not resemble the most common types.
 Xylocopa mordax, Female
He said: Bees come in so many different shapes and sizes because there are so many sizes and shapes to flowers – the two co-evolved together and created specialised systems where certain species of bees only pollinate certain species of plants, using their special bee tools and bee abilities.
 Agapostemon splendens
Most people are completely oblivious to the existence of the many species of small solitary bees nesting in their lawns because they do not sting and don't match our mind picture of what a bee should look like.
Augochlorella aurata
Some are as small as a grain as rice, while others have no stripes and do not sting – hardly fitting the common perception of what a bee is.
 Megachile lanata, Female
While the most common varieties such as honey and bumble bees share a similar, distinctive colour pattern, hundreds of lesser known types have a completely different appearance.
 Augochloropsis metallica
This specimen was collected on a tomato plant in a garden in Laurel, Maryland
Agapostemon angelicus, Male
Male bees, like the one pictured here, don't have stingers.

August 29, 2013

10 Things You Didn't Know About Quinoa

Let's start with what we do know. Quinoa is a versatile, protein-filled superfood. While similar staples like bulgur and barley tend to be relegated to health food aisles and your hippie aunt's vegetarian casserole, quinoa is a crowd-pleaser with enormous global appeal.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Controversy clings to the crop - from Pizarro's 16th Century Andean adventures, to modern-day agricultural analysis spanning Los Angeles to London, quinoa consumption and cultivation is a hot topic. That's why we are taking a closer look at this newer culinary obsession. Nevermind the bombast, here's the truth about quinoa.

1. A rose by any other name: Though it is often called a whole grain, quinoa isn't a grain at all. True grains like wheat and maize are derived from grasses, whereas quinoa is part of a protein-rich plant family that includes fellow iron maidens like spinach and beets.

2. Can't stop won't stop: A superfood in more ways than one, quinoa can grow in diverse climates and terrains, including areas with minimal irrigation and fertilization, or as little as three to four inches of annual rainfall.

3. Late to the party: Andean peoples in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia first cultivated quinoa some 7,000 years ago. Contemporary consumers such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan developed our voracious appetites for the stuff within only the past decade.

4. Devil's crop: In the 1500s, using the peerless logic of colonialism, Spanish conquistadors deemed quinoa unholy due to its elevated status in indigenous cultures, and even prohibited native peoples from cultivating it. But, ultimately, no one puts quinoa in the corner.

5. Intergalactic appeal: Twenty years ago, NASA researchers declared quinoa the perfect inflight snack for astronauts on long-term missions because it is mineral-rich, gluten-free and contains all essential amino acids.

6. Drama queen: In January 2013, UK newspaper The Guardian ran a provocative piece about how quinoa's rising popularity worldwide has rendered it too expensive for the Bolivian farmers who knew it back when it had braces and a bowl cut. No small amount of controversy about food miles, ethical consumption and sustainability ensued. While farmers in Oregon and Colorado look to grow the stuff stateside, other analysts argue that quinoa's rising prices can be good for indigenous smallholder farmers who can profit from their crop's success. Long story short? Food politics are complicated. All things in moderation.

7. Variety pack: There are over 120 different identified varieties of quinoa, but the most commonly cultivated and exported are white, red and black. Quinoa is also commercially available ground into flours or, most recently, compressed into flakes. Similar to quick-cooking oats, quinoa flakes are formed by steam-rolling the groat, or whole kernel, until it is flat and flaky. Throw some flakes in boiling water, and they are ready to eat in under two minutes.

8. Time to shine: The United Nations named 2013 The International Year of Quinoa, citing how its endurance and durability as a crop contributes to world food security. Naturally, this rekindled the sustainability debate amongst agricultural analysts, and Bolivian president Evo Morales even got in on the action. (Again: moderation is key.)

9. Switch hitter: While we norteamericanos typically use quinoa as a rice substitute, locals in cities like Bogota and La Paz drink the stuff. Chicha is a traditional Andean beer brewed from indigenous crops like corn and - you guessed it - quinoa.

10. Rinse and repeat: The quinoa crop protects itself from predators with a waxy, bitter-tasting coat of saponins, an organic chemical compound that gets rinsed away during cultivation. Resourceful Andean families would traditionally save this saponin-heavy wash water to use as shampoo. Waste not want not.

August 28, 2013

Political Photoshopping: photos manipulated to change views and opinions (10pics)

 Francisco Perez Trigueros, from Spain's ruling Popular Party, waded into the ongoing row over Gibraltar, the British territory at the foot of southern Spain, by publishing a mocked up image on his Facebook page. The Photoshopped picture showed a Spanish Army battalion marching across Gibraltar’s runway beneath three fighter jets. The image also showed a Spanish flag flying over the British territory and an Osborne bull — the black silouhette that has become Spain’s unofficial national symbol — installed on the Rock.
 Before the days of Photoshop, manipulaters combined multiple images in the darkroom. This print purports to show Ulysses S. Grant astride a horse, in front of the troops at City Point, Virginia. Originally the horse and the body belonged to Major General Alexander M. McCook. The head shot comes from a famous photo of Grant at Cold Harbor.
 North Korea's government has been manipulating images for over a decade. In 2008 it was reported that an image of Kim Jong-il, posing with the North Korean army, was a fake. In the photo, the shadow cast by his calves ran a different direction from that of the soldiers on either side of him, while a black line running along the strand on which the soldiers were position disappeared when it got to Kim.
This suspect photograph appears to show a number of similar-looking hovercraft landing on a beach somewhere in North Korea.
 This combination picture of two images from KCNA shows a limousine with a portrait of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il leading his funeral procession in Pyongyang. In the top picture released by Kyodo, a group of men clustered around what looks like a video camera is seen on the left side of the picture. In the bottom picture which was sent directly to Reuters by KCNA, the group is missing. Reuters now believes the bottom picture was altered by KCNA. The reason for the apparent photo alteration is unclear, although the doctored image appears slightly tidier than the original.
 A photograph released by the Iranian news service in 2008 shows three missiles streaking into the air while a fourth remains on the launcher during a test-firing in an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert on July 9, 2008. An altered version of this image was published by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards news website, Sepah News, adding a fourth successfully launched missile in place of the ground launcher.
 This image was used to show how heavy the traffic is on the 'peripherique' in Paris. Unfortunately someone photoshopped some cars travelling in the wrong direction.
 In 2010 Egypt's state-run newspaper was criticised after it altered a photograph to suggest President Hosni Mubarak was leading the Middle East peace talks. The photograph, which appeared in Al-Ahram, the country’s most widely circulated newspaper, showed Mr Mubarak walking on a red carpet ahead of the US, Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders. The original image shows Barack Obama leading the way ahead of the three other leaders, with Mr Mubarak trailing behind. The photograph was taken at the White House when talks were formally re-launched on September 1. The doctored image appeared above an article called The Way to Sharm el-Sheikh on page six of al-Ahram on Tuesday September 14.
 In 2009 Spain's spy chief Alberto Saiz resigned amid allegations that he used taxpayers' money to pay for hunting and fishing trips in exotic locations. Spanish newspaper El Mundo published a front-page photograph apparently showing Mr Saiz hauling a large fish on to a boat off Senegal. The paper went on to allege that intelligence agents had doctored one version of the photograph, replacing Mr Saiz's face with that of a colleague...standing a few feet away.
Officials in Toronto felt that the family in this group shot didn't reflect the area's ethnic mix. So they ineptly pasted a stock image of a smiling black man over the father's face.

Amazing Health Benefits of Peaches

Peach is a widely adored delicious juicy fruit. It is origins from China and now popular in all over the world. The health benefits of peaches are merely known to its regular eater. Peaches are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidant and other chemical contents.
This fruit looks like an apple in shape measuring about 7-10 cm in diameter and about 130g in weight. It is naturally juicy and sweet with a lovely aroma. Here are seven major nutrition and health benefits of peaches with some serving process. 

Major Health Benefits of Peaches

Contribute in eye health
Beta carotene is responsible for eye health. Lots of people around the world are in sight problem for lacking of beta carotene. Peach fruit can be their hope. Peaches are a rich source of beta carotene that improves vision health by increasing circulation of blood in the all body parts.
Does excellent for skin
One of the major health benefits of peaches is for skin care. It’s a great source of Vitamin C which is widely used for skin care. You can get plenty of Vitamin C from a large peach. Apart from health benefits, you can directly use peaches for skin care such dark circles and wrinkles.
Toxin cleanser
We take many toxins daily with our daily meals that once does harm for kidneys. Peaches contain high amount of fiber and potassium that reduces kidney related diseases and lessens the risk of ulcer. It’s a hidden health benefit of peaches. 
Weight control
Regular intake of one large peach can help you to lose weight. One peach contains only 68 calories surprisingly with no fat. Peach, however, is an ideal diet for dieters.
Full of Vitamins
Peaches are the rich source of multivitamins and minerals. They have vitamins including A, C, E, and K with seven particular minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, Manganese and Phosphorus).
Rich source of antioxidant and fiber
A study has shown that, peaches are a good source of antioxidant and fiber. Antioxidant, Chlorogenic acid, works as anti-inflammatory in the body. On the other side, fiber is good for digestion. It also prevents constipation. 
Works against Cancer and heart disease
Studies have found that, lycopene and lutein in peach helps to prevent macular degeneration and cancer. And it also significantly decreases risk of heart disease.

Reasons Why Bread Is Unhealthy For You

Did you know that your white slice of bread is actually unhealthy for you to consume at any moment of the day. There are a lot of reasons as to why eating bread is unhealthy, and why you should opt for other sources of food when you are hungry. Eating bread on a daily basis can increase chances of developing certain diseases which will adversely affect your health.
Surprising that for a very long time experts have claimed to say that white bread and refined grains in general are not particularly nutritious but we still consume because of the taste. One piece of advice Boldsky can give you is this - 'The whiter the bread the sooner you are dead!' If you switch to brown bread and not be added to a daily diet, it is healthy and a wise decision. But, if you make it a habit to consume bread daily, then you are inviting trouble for yourself.
Here we have enlisted some of the main reasons why eating bread is unhealthy. Take a look at these reasons and you will understand why we are advicing you to not make this your daily source of food.
It is true that bread has no form of nutrients present in it to keep you healthy. When you are trying to suppress your cravings you are most likely looking at increasing your intake of proteins and vitamins too. But, in any form of bread does not provide you with nutrients that is necessary.
High Level Of Soduim
 Breads contain a very high level of sodium, This high amount of sodium contributes to heart diseases. If you are having bread regularly, then you are contributing to high levels of salt in the body.

 Weight Gain 

Some may think that avoiding rice and switching to bread is ideal. But, did you know that bread does amount to a lot of calorie-intake if you consume it on a daily diet. 

Hunger pangs 
When it comes to choosing between white and brown bread, most people go in for white bread, as it tastes better! But the problem is that white bread does not fill you unlike brown bread. The carbohydrates is higher in white bread than brown bread. But, this does not mean that brown bread should be consumed daily.

Glutten issues 
Wheat contains high amount of a protein called gluten. This protein gives rise to Coeliac disease (a disease where many people experience an upset stomach after they have consumed bread). This is one of the symptoms of gluten intolerance.

High in carbohydrates
 Experts say that those items which have been prepared from bread contain high amounts of carbohydrates. An overdose of carbs will cause brain fog, which only means a decrease of cognitive functioning. 

Increase blood sugar 
The starch in bread gets broken down quickly in the digestive tract and enters the bloodstream as glucose. This causes a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Therefore, this is one of the reasons why eating bread is unhealthy. 

Other substances
 Most types of bread contain a certain amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, just like processed foods. This sugar causes a lot of adverse effects on your health.

Former monk spends 50 YEARS creating a giant cathedral from junk

Justo Gallego Martinez, an 86-year-old farmer from Spain, has spent the last 50 years of his life single-handedly building a large cathedral in a suburb of Madrid, without any architectural knowledge or construction experience.

Considering the sheer size of Justo Gallego’s junk cathedral, almost 40 meters (131 feet) tall, with its large dome and spires towering over nearby apartment buildings, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of a single man. But it just goes to show how far people can stretch their limits in the name of a higher purpose. In Gallego’s case, it was his faith and love of God. His mother was very pious and he grew up with a deep Christian faith and an overwhelming desire to dedicate himself to the Creator. After working as a farmer and as a bullfighter, Don Justo, as everyone calls him, joined a Trappist monastery, where he spent eight years as a monk. He was forced to leave the monastery in 1961, after he contracted tuberculosis, but promised himself that if he survived the illness he would dedicate his life to building a  a chapel in the name of the Lady of The Pillar (the Blessed Virgin Marry), who he prayed to during the ordeal. His prayers were answered and he stayed true to his vow, laying the first brick of what would become a unique cathedral, almost 50 years ago.

Most people thought Don Justo was crazy to take on such an epic challenge, but he never paid any attention to their insults, instead focusing all his efforts on his project. He never had any formal plans for his cathedral, nor did he have the necessary construction materials, but he put his faith in God and knew it would all work out in the end. Martinez has spent every morning for the last half century gathering all kinds of discarded everyday objects as well as building materials leftover by nearby construction companies from their own jobs, and fitting them in his grand design. The columns of his junk cathedral were molded using empty oil drums, and the cover of one cupola is made out of cut up food tubes. Don Justo says his cathedral is partly modeled on St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, but also features elements from the White House, various medieval castles and Madrid churches.
Justo Gallego worked on the cathedral mainly by himself, occasionally getting help from his six nephews and volunteers, and although he always worked in a hurry, hoping to see the whole thing finished, there’s only so much one man can do. The shell of the edifice may be almost complete, but he still has much work to do. There are thousands of windows to paint, the central dome has yet to be covered, the floor is bare and the spiraling staircases are only half done. Don Justo is well aware he might not live long enough to see his masterpiece finished, but still he says ”When I look at what I’ve created, it overwhelms me and I give thanks to the Lord.”
The junk cathedral of Mejorada del Campo has never been authorized, but so far the town council has tolerated the illicit structure. Ever since Gallego’s amazing story spread on the internet, his life’s work has been bringing in a steady flow of tourists. It has become a local icon, and Don Justo hopes it will one day serve as a fully functional cathedral, although chances of that ever happening are very slim. ”It’s very difficult to get a license now,” architect Pablo Queralto told the BBC. ”For example the bricks don’t meet minimum standards, either in themselves or the way they’ve been laid.”
Whatever happens, one thing is for certain, Justo Gallego Martinez doesn’t regret a single day of the many he’s put into his junk cathedral. ”If I lived my life again, I’d build this church again, only bigger. Twice the size,” he says. ”Because for me, this is an act of faith.”

August 27, 2013

7 Heart-healthy Habits Linked to Cancer Prevention

Are you doing your best to live a heart-healthy lifestyle? If so, you have a lower chance of developing cancer, too. A study by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that people practicing healthy heart habits had a significantly lower chance of developing cancer—a 38-percent lower risk, to be exact.

“This is great news for all of us,” says A. Marc Gillinov, MD, cardiac surgeon in Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute. “Research continues to confirm that you can control your health. By following a few simple strategies, we can dramatically reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.”

Heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death for people in the United States. For a long time, it has been known that healthy behaviors are good for our overall health, but knowing that there is a relation between heart and cancer risk factors is novel.
The study by AHA spanned 13 years and followed more than 13,000 healthy individuals. Participants were measured using the seven heart health “metrics” and were tracked for any cancer that developed during that time. Researchers found that the more “ideal” metric factors people had, the less likely they were to develop cancer.
What does the research say?
Compared to people who had none of the seven factors, having just one reduced the risk of cancer by 20 percent. Three factors lowered the risk of cancer by 22 percent; and five to seven pushed the risk down 38 percent. According to AHA, these are the seven metrics for heart health – and now we know, these same metrics make it less likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
Be active. When adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week, they can lower risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Keep a healthy weight. Too much fat, especially around the waist, raises your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. About two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Eat a healthy diet. A diet high in whole-grain fiber, lean proteins and colorful fruits and vegetables and low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars can greatly improve health.
Keep safe blood sugar levels. Protect your vital organs and reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts. If you have diabetes, this can cause blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels, damaging the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves over time.
Manage your cholesterol. When you have too much "bad" LDL cholesterol, plaque can form in veins and arteries, which can cause heart attack and strokes.
Keep blood pressure down. Hypertension is the most significant risk factor for heart disease and it puts a strain on your kidneys.
Don’t smoke. Smoking damages the entire circulatory system and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysms and blood clots.
Speaking at a recent AHA event, physicians were hopeful that their patients would be even more motivated to live healthy if they knew they could avoid heart disease and cancer at the same time.
Dr. Gillinov adds, “Incorporating these seven strategies into your life will make you feel better and live longer.”

August 26, 2013

5 Fraudulent Foods

There are many advantages to a global marketplace, but one of the pitfalls is that not all countries have the same food supply regulations. Experts say that makes the following five products vulnerable to contamination.

Pomegranate Juice

It has been praised for its health benefits, but beware of pomegranate juice that’s been diluted with other juices, water, acids or sugars.

“The safety of the other juices — or the other products, if it’s chemical or sugar or coloring — has not been reviewed by anyone in the food supply chain and answers are unknown to the consumers,” says Markus Lipp, director of food standards for the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.

Question juices that seem too low in price, and stick with the better-known brands. 

Black Pepper

Black pepper can easily add flavor to just about any dish, but it’s also easily tainted. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention has found cheap fillers in ground pepper, including plant stems and buckwheat flour. Since whole foods are easier to identify, opt for whole kernel black pepper and try to grind it yourself. 


Another food that is commonly tampered with is honey. Ingredients like artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup and water are the usual suspects. Plus, manufactures may purposely mislabel its country of origin.

“Certain countries have been banned from importing honey due to a persistent problem in food safety,” Lipp says.

Ground Coffee

Consider this before taking another sip of your cup of Joe: ground coffee can be cut with ingredients like corn, seeds, barley and even twigs! This is more common in products made outside the U.S., but if it’s listed on the label, it’s not considered food adulteration. Also check the label for ground chicory root — another filler, especially in instant coffee. Shop well-known brands and when in doubt, buy whole coffee beans and grind them yourself.


Finally, extra virgin olive oil is a pricey staple in most pantries. A sign that it may be contaminated is if the price is too low — and it may pose a real threat to your health. “Extra virgin olive oil is diluted or replaced by either lower-grade olive oils or peanut oil or by other plant oils,” Lipps says.

August 25, 2013

Cantaloupes / Muskmelon - The Healthy Fruit

Eating Cantaloupes, which are powerhouses of health, at the same time deliciously refreshing and fragrant is ultimately blissful.
Muskmelon is another name given to cantaloupes, which belong to the Cucurbitaceae family; it has a peak season from June to August. This round or oval shaped fruit, with a rough and scaly skin is orange-yellow in color with a high water content. It has a fleshy hollow core in the center with a mesh full of melon seeds. These seeds are dried and also eaten after peeling them, for their high nutritive value.

Cantaloupes are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, pantothenic acid, superoxide dismutase and dietary fiber. As it is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, it helps prevent many degenerative diseases.

Health Benefits of Cantaloupes/Muskmelons:

Cantaloupes are good for diabetic nephropathy – which is a progressive kidney disorder where kidney is damaged. An extract of cantaloupe called oxykine is very effective in arresting the damage.

This fruit has superoxide dismutase which relieves stress and lowers blood pressure. The potassium in the fruit keeps the heart beat regularized. Potassium controls blood pressure and prevents hypertension. The sodium content in the fruit works as an anti coagulant, which controls viscosity and prevents clotting of blood.

Cantaloupes are rich sources of folic acid and help women conceive. The folic acid present is very important in regeneration of dead cells – especially for pregnant women. The high content of folate prevents neural tube disorders in the fetus. It greatly improves the healthy elasticity of skin and prevents wrinkles.

Pregnant women are given supplements of folic acid – in the same way cantaloupes are very beneficial during pregnancy as they have high folate content. It keeps water retention at bay by flushing out extra sodium from the body.

Cantaloupes are rich in vitamin C which is an anti-oxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging cells, thus fighting cancer. The fruit also strengthens the immune system while stimulating and increasing the white blood cells which help in destroying viruses and bacteria. It prevents pre-mature ageing.

Beta carotene present in cantaloupes turns to vitamin A. The natural vitamin A is absorbed by the body and delays the onset of cataracts, is vital to maintain healthy eyesight. By having a cup of the fruit regularly you can actually prevent or delay cataracts.


Those with sleep disorders will find a difference by eating a cup of the fruit as it relaxes nerves and muscles and helps insomniacs to sleep better.

Eating cantaloupe helps when women have menstrual problems - it stops heavy flow and clots while easing menstrual cramps. Muscle cramps also ease out with the fruit or juice.

Lung health benefits with a diet of cantaloupes. When people who are exposed smoke, the carcinogens create a deficiency of vitamin A which is reversed by the fruit. Sometimes smokers who have already damaged their lungs, a regular diet of cantaloupes can rejuvenate the lungs over a period of time and reduce the risk of emphysema.

The natural nutrients and minerals form a synergy to help the body recover from nicotine withdrawal when a person is trying to quit smoking.

This fruit is rich in adenosine which is a compound given to patients with heart disease as it has blood thinning properties thus preventing heart attacks.

It is ideal to eat the fruit during times of stress as it increases the flow of oxygen to the brain making you more relaxed and focused.


It is an ideal substitute for a high calorie snack as 1 cup of diced cantaloupe has just 50 calories – it has 89% water and is best in summer to combat de-hydration.

Some water can be added to fresh squeezed fruit and had as a refreshing juice or add some peaches to it and blend in a juicer for a delicious drink. Dipping sliced cantaloupe in a bowl of curd is a great way to add zinc to the body.

5 Brain Foods You’re Not Eating, But Should Be

Below are five (unconventional) brain foods that you can consume to help power your mental capabilities.

1. Green tea.
The next time you visit your local coffee shop, opt for a cup of this nutrient- rich beverage rather than your usual java regular. A recent study examining the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation patterns found that subjects who were administered 250-500mL of a milk whey-based green tea containing soft drink while performing a working memory task had increased activation in their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) compared to controls1. Because the DLPFC is a key area known to mediate working memory, the study suggests that green tea extract may enhance brain engagement during cognitive processes; thus having preventative implications in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Avocados.
Contrary to popular belief, avocados are not the anti-fruit to avoid for the mere sake of a slimmer figure. Although their delicious creamy texture is a result of their relatively higher fat content, these fats are actually composed of healthy monounstaturated fatty acids which are known to decrease the risk of hypertension2. Previously, hypertension has been linked to cognitive decline among the late to middle- aged population3. Furthermore, high monounsaturated fatty acid intake—such as in the Mediterranean diet—has been found to protect against age-related cognitive decline4.

3. Soybeans.
Thirsty? Try relieving a dry throat with soy milk. A recently published study reported soybean peptides to be associated with an increase in plasma dopamine levels5. Dopamine has several important implications in behavior, cognition, and reward-driven learning. The same study also found soybeans to have an immunomodulatory effect that can improve stress hormone unbalance, brain circulation, and energy metabolism when coupled with neurological responses. Here,the brain and the immune system are thought to “converse with each other” to maintain homeostasis, although the exact mechanism has yet to be elucidated.

4. Sweet potatoes.
Although this food item typically appears on special occasions such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, this need not be the case. Sweet potatoes are abundant in carotenoids which give it its rich orange color6. Because carotenoids function as both anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, intake of dietary components rich in carotenoids may help improve cognitive functioning in the elderly. Indeed, previous research studies have shown that low plasma concentration in carotenoids is associated with cognitive decline7 or mild cognitive impairment8. This leads to speculations that high plasma levels of carotenoids may produce the desired opposite effect.

5. Dark chocolate.
Yes, it’s true! Dark chocolate may have beneficial effects to the brain. A recent double-blind study examined the effect of cocoa flavanols consumption in 90 elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment9. The dietary intervention randomized participants into three groups, each to consume once daily for 8 weeks a drink containing ≈990 mg (high flavanols), ≈520 mg (intermediate flavanols), or ≈45 mg (low flavanols) of cocoa flavanols per day. The study concluded that the regular consumption of cocoa flavanols might be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment, including areas of verbal fluency, executive function, and cognitive flexibility.

Although all foods should be consumed in moderation, these studies give you a slight reason to eliminate some guilt when indulging in “fatty” avocados, “starchy” sweet potatoes, or “sugary” dark chocolates. After all, not only will they satisfy your hungry stomach, but they may also provide you with that mental punch to improve cognitive performance. So let’s crack open that chocolate bar and celebrate its potential to power your brain!

Strongest Antioxidant Foods In Your Diet


Researchers at the University of Oslo wanted to know which foods have the highest concentration of antioxidants, the natural chemicals in food that make it healthy and prevent disease, so they tested 1,113 common foods and drinks, from apples to waffles. Their findings: Ounce for ounce, spices, herbs, nuts, and seeds pack the most nutrients. But if we're talking typical serving size, berries (five different kinds) also dominate the top ranks. The most surprising find? Chocolate ice cream rated higher than fruits like honeydew and green grapes! Here, the best 10 foods to eat to "anti" up.

One cup of blackberries contains the most antioxidants of all the berries tested, beating out blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries. Plus, one cupful provides half your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 62 calories, less than 1g fat, 14g carbohydrates, 7.6g fiber, 2g protein


Just an ounce of walnuts, or 15 to 20 halves, is loaded with antioxidants. They're also cholesterol-free and low in sodium and sugar. Nuts are laden with calories, though, so be mindful of your intake.

Nutrition facts (1 ounce): 185 calories, 18.5g fat (1.7g saturated fat), 4g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 4g protein


Bursting with fiber and vitamin C (149 percent of your daily recommended intake!), a cup of sliced strawberries is a cup full of healthy benefits.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 49 calories, 0.5g fat, 11.7g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 1g protein

Artichoke Hearts

Add a cup of antioxidant-rich artichoke hearts to your diet.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 70 calories, 0g fat, 11.5g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 2.5g protein


One cup of whole cranberries is full of disease-fighting and health-boosting antioxidants.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 51 calories, 0.2g fat, 13.5g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 1g protein

Brewed Coffee

Your morning cup of joe does more than perk you up -- it also boosts your health.

Nutrition facts (8 fluid ounces): 18 calories, 2mg sodium


Another super-healthy berry to add to your diet. One cup is loaded with vitamin C (54 percent of your daily recommended intake) and antioxidants.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 64 calories, 1g fat, 15g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 1.5g protein


As if you needed any more reason to take a bite out of that pecan pie. One ounce, or 20 jumbo kernels, of pecans is rich in antioxidants.

Nutrition facts (1 ounce): 196 calories, 20.5g fat (1.7g saturated), 3.9g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, 2.6g protein

This superfood is good for your health and can help protect your skin from premature aging.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 83 calories, 0.5g fat, 21g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 1.1g protein

Ground Cloves

Just a teaspoon of ground cloves can do wonders for your body. Spice up your meals and boost your health at the same time.

Nutrition facts (1 tablespoon): 21 calories, 1.3g fat (0.4g saturated), 4g carbohydrates, 2.3g fiber, 0.4g protein

August 24, 2013

6 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

What are the top reasons why people sabotage themselves from having complete control over their mojo? 

1. Fear 
Fear holds us back from the best of everything. And that can be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown, and fear of change. 

2. Limiting beliefs 
Limiting beliefs keep us "safe" and stuck. We believe something old, negative, or outdated that doesn't serve us, and hang onto that belief at the expense of our health and well-being. 

3. Negative mindset 
A mindset and perspective that's negative or pessimistic prevents us from being, doing, and having more. 

4. Poor habits 
Some of us simply have habits that prevent us from looking, feeling, and living our best. For example, exercise fits into this category perfectly. A new habit can be getting up early, putting on the fitness clothes before leaving the bedroom, and working out the first opportunity you have. Wearing the clothes gives us that mental head start which is half the battle and is a way to create new habits.

5. Relationships 
Our relationships can propel us forward or they can hold us back. If we're spending time with people who are critical, judgmental, negative, unsupportive, and walk around with a "lack" mentality, we'll take on those qualities and think less of ourselves. When we're with people who are inspiring, uplifting, positive and filled with energy, we step up our game. Take a look at whom you're spending your time with and it will tell you a lot about how you feel. 

6. Lack of awareness 
Unfortunately for many of us, it takes an illness, crisis, tragedy, or trauma to "wake us up" and evaluate how we've been living and if we're headed in a direction that takes us where we want to go. Without that shakeup, many of us unconsciously go through our days with the greatest goal possibly being no more than simply getting through our day. 

7 Reasons to Avoid Beef

You’re an individual. That means, no matter what the latest study says, it may or may not apply to you since your body chemistry is unique and may react differently than what is reported. Most of us have (or know) some crazy uncle who smokes, drinks, and eats hamburgers daily and he just turned 95 and still there’s no sign of dementia, heart disease, cancer — nothing. (Why researchers don’t do studies on people like him, instead of the ones who get sick, I’ll never know.)
But, if you are trying to decide whether red meat is safe to eat, ou should know that the following seven red flags have been raised. Still, it’s up to you to decide. Is it worth it? How much is too much?

Reason 1: Red Meat May Increase Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Scientists believe when proteins called Tau and beta-amyloid accumulate in the brain they either disrupt nerve cells or kill them — and this may be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from UCLA, though, suggests that iron accumulation is another possible contributing factor. Using an unusual MRI technique, researchers found that iron had begun to accumulate in the brains of 31 Alzheimer's patients. Specifically, they discovered this build-up in a part of the brain which is generally damaged in the early stages of the disease. How does this connect to red meat? Well, it's full of iron, and a high-red meat diet can lead to iron build up. 

Reason 2: Red Meat Can Cause Cardiovascular Disease

Time and again scientists have demonstrated a connection between eating large amounts of red meat and an individual’s risk for heart disease. Now, a recent studysuggests this link between red meat and disease does not derive from the saturated fats and cholesterol, but the fact that your gut microbes break down a compound found in the meat known as carnitine, which in turn produces trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). And TMAO has been associated with atherosclerosis, the fatty build-up in your arteries which in turn may cause a heart attack.

Reason 3: Your Risk of Colon Cancer Goes Up

Quite a few studies have provided evidence of red meat potentially causing colon cancer, and a U.S. study which involved 148,610 participants between the ages of 50 and 74 showed that a high consumption of red and processed meats substantially increased the risk of colorectal cancer. Fish and fowl, though, had the opposite effect: long-term consumption of large amounts of these appeared to ward off cancer of the colon and rectum.
Harvard says so.

Reason 4: Lots of Beef Can Lead to Type 2 Diabetes

According to recent research, red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and three extra servings of red meat every week increases the risk of developing diabetes by 50 percent. That’s a pretty disheartening statistic. And you thought it was the cake and ice cream that would get you.

Reason 5: Mad Cow Disease. Obviously.

Mad cow disease was first discovered in the United Kingdom in 1986 and after that, it blossomed into a full-scale epidemic, affecti g about 180,000 cattle over the next fifteen years. There is mounting evidence that it may cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is not only fatal but kills you within fourteen months of diagnosis. So far, only three cases in the U.S. (227 worldwide) have been reported… but that number will eventually rise.

Reason 6: Meat Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

Unlike the steak mom and dad used to cook up on weekends, the meat you eat today has probably been pumped full of hormones to make it grow faster and antibiotics to prevent disease. Although such drugs have all been individually tested and approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), what has never been tested is whether these drugs may be harmful in combination. Meaning, in combination with all other chemicals and drugs you unknowingly absorb, breathe, and drink every day, including those in the air and those in the water. So whether or not an individual chemical, hormone or antibiotic has been proven to have a harmful affect or not, no one really knows what a combination of several chemicals, hormones and antibiotics will do to you.

Reason 7: Cows Are Nice

In all likelihood you drank their milk as a child and I'd bet anything your first coloring book had outlines of cows on its pages. Has a cow ever done one mean thing to you? 

August 22, 2013

Splendid Iceland (13pics)

 Volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajokull with lightning in the ash plume.
 Northern lights over Mount Kirkjufell, Snaefellsnes.
 Rhyolite mountains at sunset, from the top of Haalda, Landmannalaugar, Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
 Godafoss waterfall on the Skjalfandafljat river in snow covered landscape.
 Hverfjall crater at night, Myvatn.
 Boiling bubbling mud, Hverir.
 Steam vents at night, Hverirt, Namafjall.
 Londrangar sea stacks and the Snaefellsjokull mountain under northern lights.
 Hot spring in Hveravellir.
 Glacier ice floating in the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, with Fjallsjokull in the background at sunrise.
 Hraunfossar waterfall in autumn.
 Londrangar at night with Nothern lights over the Snaefellsjokull ice cap, Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Varmahl region.