Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011 Posted Under: Weight Loss

Understanding the Concept of Cardio for Fat Loss

Conventional wisdom has told us for decades that the concept of cardio for fat loss is crucial towards any understanding of real and legitimate weight loss success. It’s a great stepping-stone, but it lacks focus. There is no doubt that the cardiovascular exercises you see at step classes, kenpo and zumba pose a plethora of benefits for your heart, lungs and general vitality, but there is so much more to weight loss -and specifically fat loss- that everyone must be aware of.

Let’s take a look at precisely how cardio for fat loss works and how it, when paired with the following important habits, can actually accelerate your weight loss and fat loss potential.

Eating Plenty of Healthy Food

Fat loss requires a successful transformation on two fronts: your physical activities and your eating habits. The most common mistake people make when trying to lose weight is a failure to eat a sufficient amount of food to burn the fat they want to lose. Fat loss is, in so many words, the process of your metabolism breaking down fats. Metabolic rates can only increase when there is a consistent and nutritionally dense intake of food throughout the day. The generally recommended diet involves 5-meals per day at 350-450 calories each, approximately three hours apart.

Strength Training

Consciously incorporating cardio into any weight loss plan makes strength training even more essential to ensuring that layers of fat become replaced by lean muscle. If muscle development, in the form of strength training, ceases to become a priority, the cardio exercises will resort to burning off muscle as well, leaving the body lighter, but much looser and less than ideal.

Long Duration and/or HIIT

Up until recently, it had been thought that cardio’s maximum benefits are met only through prolonged low-intensity exercise. Today, more and more studies are revealing that short High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) bring about the same (and sometimes better) results.

Each form has its own advantages and disadvantages, so sometimes people are better suited for one over the other given the state of their physical fitness. For example, a newcomer to cardio who has a body fat percentage over 25% would gain the most benefit from elongated low-intensity workouts to develop their body’s athleticism. Most people are prepared for HIIT by the time they’re able to leg press 150% of their body weight for at least 6 reps.

This article only taps the surface of the incredibly vast world of using cardio for fat loss. The good news is that it is one of the fastest growing trends in the realm of fitness, so the wealth of knowledge on the topic will continue to increase.

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May 27, 2011 Posted Under: Nutrition

Why Chocolate Is Good For Us

If there’s one thing all women seem to love, it’s chocolate. Unfortunately, if it’s one thing most diets seem to prevent us from eating, it’s chocolate, but why? Chocolate, more specifically dark chocolate is good for you. So diets that prevent us from eating chocolate in moderation are actually making us more prone to cheat, and are limiting us from food sources that have been shown to be good for our health.

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Chocolate is derived from the cacao plant, which naturally grow in areas 20 degrees above and below the equator. Most of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa, the most along the Ivory Coast. Chocolate is typically classified into three different types, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate, all of which are made from cacao butter, but have varying degrees of cacao solids (white chocolate in fact has no cacao solid, which is why it maintains a white appearance).

Because dark chocolate has the highest concentration of cacao solids, and is considered to be the lease processed version of chocolate, it is considered to be the healthiest form of chocolate available. Dark chocolate is good for us in moderation, as it has the most antioxidants, and has been linked to reducing the possibility of having a heart attack when consumed regularly in small quantities. This might have something to do with the fact that chocolate has also been shown to make those who eat it happier. This is due to the presence of alkaloids or nitrogen rich compounds that have been linked to the production of serotonin. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters in our bodies that allow us to feel good. Serotonin also readily interacts with our blood, where it has been shown to work as a vasoconstrictor and helps regulate blood flow and blood clotting.

Many individuals don’t like dark chocolate stating that it has a “bitter” taste. The truth is that dark chocolate has such an intense flavor that our taste buds quantify it as being bitter if we take too big of a bite. However, this intense flavor is why dark chocolate is preferred when cooking, as it yields the best chocolate flavor. Try letting the chocolate slowly melt in your mouth the next time you take a bite. Not only will this increase your heart rate and brain activity more than a passionate kiss, it will last four times longer.

In the end, chocolate is good for us and we should enjoy it in small quantities, especially dark chocolate. Not only will you receive the benefit of increased serotonin levels, but you’ll get anti-oxidants, improve your cognitive abilities, and reduce your chances of having cardiovascular disease.

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May 24, 2011 Posted Under: Health

Make Smoking Less Pleasant

You will be surprised to know that experts sometimes recommend smoking MORE before quitting. Why you ask…. Smoking cessation experts think that if you can make smoking less pleasant it will be easier for you to quit. The logic is that if you start to associate smoking in bad feelings, that memory will last after quitting. There are a number of ways that you can make smoking feel awful.

  • Smoking by the clock is the most commonly recommended method. This means figuring out how many cigarettes you typically smoke during the waking hours of your day, then smoking that many per hour you are awake on a schedule. So if you are awake 17 hours a day and smoking usually smoke 2 packs of cigarettes, you will smoke at the beginning and middle of each hour all day. So for example, if you get up a 7:00 am, smoke a cigarette at 7:00, then 7:30, then 8:00, and so on. Or if you smoke significantly less than that just smoke at the typical time on the hour each hour. Just don’t smoke more than 4 cigarettes in one hour. The idea is that you will make yourself smoke a cigarette even if you don’t want to, making smoking unpleasant.
  • Another common recommendation by the experts is to switch brands of cigarettes or switch to a flavored cigarette like menthols. Menthols are a the only flavored cigarette available in the United States so if you are going to try a flavor you are limited. You have to make sure that if you switch to another brand, it is a brand that you don’t particularly enjoy the flavor of, that is assuming there is another brand that just doesn’t taste good to you. Either way, before quitting this is another way to make smoking less pleasant.
  • The prescription drug Chantix sort of works in this way. The drug works by stopping the absorbsion of nicotine into the neurons in the brain. Pfizer, the maker of Chantix, recommends smoking for at least a week while on Chantix. The purpose is somewhat similar, if nicotine is not being absorbed then smoking is just a burning sensation in the mouth and lungs and therefore unpleasant.
  • There is another product sold in Europe that is the exact same idea, blocking nicotine absorbtion, but is not a pill and so doesn’t mess with your brain and cause awful side effects like suicidal thoughts. The product is a liquid that is injected into the filter of the cigarette right before smoking. The liquid sucks up the nicotine and so it never enters your body with the smoke.

Then are the mental tricks. I always like to remind people how unglamorous cigarettes really are with pictures of someone really unattractive smoking.

These tricks to make smoking less pleasant may or may not work to help you finally quit. There are statistics that show people only actually enjoy the first few cigarettes of the day, and the rest are only smoked out of habit or cravings for nicotine. Either way, any of these tricks are definitely worth a try, anything to help kick the habit.

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May 20, 2011 Posted Under: Back Pain

Transverse Abdominal Muscle Function

The Transverse Abdominal Muscle is the prime mover in stabilizing the lumbar spine. It is responsible for controlling movement and hence pain in the lower back. The transverse abdominal muscle when tight and controlled becomes functional. The benefits of the transverse abdominal muscle are many. When it is used consistently and correctly it will flatten your tummy, align your spine and control your back pain. The use of this muscle must be taught by an expert and it must be understood to actually get the maximum benefits from using it.

This muscle is also known as the Transversus Abdominis muscle. So if you see these two names used together or separately then don’t think they are talking about different muscles, they are one and the same. This muscle is the key stabilizer for people to function during daily activities. It is the single most important muscle for every human to have control of. Every person needs good core strength to perform their daily activities. The transverse abdominal muscle will do this if trained properly. It is not enough to just attend an exercise or Pilate’s class to think you are working this muscle. You must know you are or you are not.

A Quick Test
Breathe in through your nose (not a big breath). Now blow slowly and gently out through pursed lips. Do this 4-5 times.

Now as you do the blow parts, draw your belly button and the muscle below your belly button in toward your spine. Keep blowing and keep tightening until you need to breathe in. Did you feel the tightening through your lower tummy? If you didn’t then keep practicing the pattern as worded and focus on the muscle not the breath.

You will also feel your pelvic floor tighten if you have it right. If you got this then over the period of your day practice this little muscle crunch of the Transverse abdominal muscle. For the muscle to be trained and become functional this is the first step. That is you can feel it and actually tighten it on command and then progress on to train it to be strong and functional.
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Training the function of the Transverse abdominal muscle must be taught by and expert though, don’t think just any exercise class will do it for you.

To have a strong functional core means a better posture, stronger muscle tone generally and certainly pain control in the lower back. The benefits of this training are many explore your core and enjoy.

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May 17, 2011 Posted Under: Heart Disease

Cut Heart or Stroke Risk With a Heart Healthy Diet Plan

The average daily intake of potassium, considered an essential dietary mineral, is a lot lower than health authorities would like. Researchers are convinced that increasing the amount you get might actually provide protection from heart or stroke risk and other forms of heart disease.

Potassium is known to be important to heart function, now Italian researchers have found that eating potassium rich foods can lower stroke risk by 21%, as well as possibly bringing down your chances of heart disease as well.

A stroke is defined by doctors as an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain due to a clot (ischemic stroke) or burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke) that leaks blood into the surrounding tissues.

When the flow of blood stops, even for a few seconds, the brain is kept from getting the oxygen it needs and cells in that area die off. This is what leaves patients with permanent damage.

For the research the team pulled information about heart disease and potassium intake from 11 different studies. These studies included 358,620 men and women and information on what these subjects ate the day before. The procedure the team used, known technically as a meta analysis, looks for trends that might support a conclusion even if this was not the main focus of the original study.

They discovered that subjects who took in at least 1.64 g of potassium on daily basis had a 21% lesser risk of stroke, with lower risks of heart disease as well.

Five plus servings of fruits and veggies each day is enough to give you the protective effect, the researchers note. Supplements do not appear to offer the same protective benefits in terms of stroke risk.

The reduced stroke risk and heart benefits may be due to potassium’s ability to lower blood pressure, particularly when someone has hypertension and elevated salt intake.

Potassium may also contribute to cardiovascular system health by slowing atherosclerosis and keeping the walls of the arteries from thickening as the result of a build-up of fatty materials like cholesterol – both important in terms of preventing heart disease.

Doctor’s know the number one risk for stroke is high blood pressure. Typically men have more strokes than women do, however a woman has a higher risk of stroke during her pregnancy and the weeks immediately after delivering the baby.

Symptoms of a stroke usually come on suddenly, without any warning, or they can come and go over a day or two. If your doctor suspects you’ve had a stroke, you’ll undergo a complete physical and neurological exam to see where you stand.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tells us that sweet potato head up the list of foods high in potassium. Fruits like bananas, cantaloupe, grapefruit and oranges are other great sources. Veggies such as tomatoes along with low-fat dairy are also great sources of dietary potassium.

Getting more potassium is a safe and easy way to cut heart or stroke risk and is a recommendation of the American Heart Association. In fact, the well known DASH diet is one of the best examples of heart healthy eating diet plan because it’s full of fruits, veggies and nuts, supports moderation in low fat dairy and sodium while also being high in potassium. Might be a smart move to implement a heart healthy diet plan that has you eating betterputting good things into your body to help it stay healthy, strong and vibrant now and in years to come.

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May 14, 2011 Posted Under: Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes – Checking For Ketones

If you are a Type 2 diabetic, it’s possible that your doctor has mentioned to you about checking your ketones, but do you really know what that means or how to do it?

You can test for ketones using your urine. Ketones are a sign that your body is breaking down fat for energy. The body breaks down fat when it can’t use glucose. This can occur for a couple of reasons; for example:

  • when you haven’t taken enough insulin to help move sugar into your cells
  • when you haven’t eaten enough to provide glucose for energy

Ketones in the urine are actually more common in Type 1 diabetics.

So when should you check for ketones?

  • You should check if your blood glucose is more than 300 mg/dL (16.7 mmol/L), you feel nauseated, are vomiting, or have abdominal pain.
  • You should also check if you’re sick with a cold or flu, feel tired a lot, have a dry mouth, feel thirsty all the time or your skin is flushed.
  • You should additionally check if you’re having a hard time breathing, your breath smells fruity or you feel like you’re confused or in a fog.

All of these can be signs you have high ketone levels that may need your doctor’s intervention.

It’s very simple to test for ketones. You do need to follow the directions very carefully, however. Make sure your strips are not outdated and read the instructions that come with them. You might even want to speak with your doctor or nurse to learn the correct way of doing it. Most urine tests have you get a urine sample in a clean container and then place the strip into the sample. You could also pass the strip through a urine stream.

Then, you will shake the excess urine off the strip and wait for it to change color. The directions of the test will tell you how long you need to wait. You compare the strip color change to a color chart that comes with the kit. This will tell you the amount of ketones in your urine and then you will record your results.

If you find a small or trace amounts of ketones (normal is negative or less than 0.6 mmol/L), that can mean you’re getting a build up. You need to test again in a few hours. If you see moderate or large amounts, that is a danger sign. This can upset the delicate chemical balance in your blood and can be toxic to the body. You should never exercise when your urine shows these moderate or large amounts of ketones and your blood sugar is still high. That is a sign that your diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, is out of control. You need to speak with your doctor at once.

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May 13, 2011 Posted Under: Other

Causes for Lower Back Ache

The most common cause for lower back pain is strain. Muscles and ligaments in the back support the vertebra and keep it in position. When these muscles and ligaments are unduly stressed it causes pain the lower back region.

  • Back pain can occur if you suddenly lift something heavy or if lifting heavy weights, is a normal practice with you.
  • Sedentary jobs are also a reason for the onset of back ache.
  • Overweight people are prone to suffer from back ache, as the body weight stresses the muscles in the back.
  • Another reason for pain in this region is inflammation of the joints and connective tissue.

Back Pain Relief
If the back ache is very severe or recurrent, then you must see a doctor, for advice and treatment. Don’t neglect continuous nagging pain in the region. However, if the pain is due to an injury, then you can try some of the following remedies for relief.

1. The best way of getting relief from pain is to give the lower back area hot fermentation. For this you can either use a heating pad or a hot water bag or bottle. If a hot water bottle is not readily available, do not panic. Fill an old sock with rice and tie a knot to it. Microwave the sock with the rice in it on high, for two minutes and use this on your back instead of the bottle for pain relief.

2. Rest, is also very important when you injure your back. When back ache is severe make sure you sleep on a firm flat surface. A soft mattress will only aggravate the pain further. Lying on the side also relives pain, but it must be done on an absolutely flat bed.

3. If you are not seeing a doctor, then take a mild off-the-counter, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. This will give you instant relief from pain in the region. Do not rub balms without consulting a doctor as rubbing the inflamed area, may further aggravate the situation.

4. If you feel the need of a massage, get professional help. A physical therapist or trained masseur must be engaged for a massage.

5. Immobilize the lower back region by wearing a belt specially designed to support the back. Immobilizing the back gives it time to heal, and sometimes this is all that is required to ease the pain.

Precaution is the best way of keeping your back, pain free. Do not stress the back unnecessarily, by carrying heavy items. Take care of your posture. Don’t slouch, and always stand erect and sit straight, this will help the back muscles to stay well toned and healthy.

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May 12, 2011 Posted Under: Allergies

Kinesiology for Allergy Testing

Allergy testing

Allergies or insensitivities to foods and substances may cause impaired health, weight gain or symptoms which doctors find difficult to resolve. The starting point is to detect, what are the problem foods or substances for you? There are different methods which can be used, including blood tests. However, one method, kinesiology is less invasive and highly effective, and allows many different foods or substances to be tested.

What is kinesiology?

Kinesiology applies a light pressure to the muscle being tested, while a test vial is held against your body. When your muscle goes weak it indicates a sensitivity to the food, or the presence of a pathogen. Patients find it fascinating to feel the difference to their muscle strength as different allergens are held against their body. The results are tangible! Furthermore, results generally concur with other more conventional tests, e.g. blood tests.

Kinesiology was developed in 1964 by George Goodheart, a chiropractor, and has gained widespread use amongst chiropractors, naturopaths and a few medical doctors.

Allergy testing using Kinesiology

Allergy testing using kinesiology (muscle testing) can determine food and substance intolerances, nutritional deficiencies and the presence pathogens. This method gives very specific results, unique to you. This helps to reveal the source of your symptoms.

Allergy testing uses homeopathic quantities of foods, substances or pathogens in sealed glass tubes, these test vials are harmless.

What can be tested?

  • All common foods including wheat, yeast, dairy, fruits, meat and vegetables.
  • Deficiencies in any proteins, vitamins, amino acids or essential fatty acids.
  • The presence of pathogens: viruses, bacteria, parasites including candida.
  • The presence of chemicals, toxic metals and radiation (eg. from mobile phones).

Allergy testing for children

This treatment can be used to test food allergies in children


Initially, it will be suggested that the allergens (foods and substances detected) are removed from the diet. Although, through an understanding of the allergens, and potentially the pathogens, there may be a route to health, which might ultimately allow a normal diet and routine to be resumed.

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Allergies can develop due to stress or due to “poor living”. However, if a healthy lifestyle is adopted, and a method or habits adopted to reduce stress, symptoms will start to resolve. Kinesiology is a route to determine what is going on in the body, what is stressing it, and what might be the path to health.

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May 07, 2011 Posted Under: Other

Kids With Cancer – One Type Being Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland is located at the base of the throat just below the Adam’s apple. The butterfly shaped gland has two lobes joined by a strip of tissue called the isthmus. The function of the thyroid gland is to produce the thyroid hormones, thyroxine, triiodothyronine and calcitonin.

When evaluating children with a thyroid nodule, they are usually divided into either prepubertal or post-pubertal allowing to make some distinctions. Children will usually present perfectly healthy but will have a lump or nodule in the thyroid and/or hard persistent swollen lymph glands in the neck. If the nodule is large the child may have trouble breathing or swallowing and have a hoarse voice.

The 3 types of thyroid cancer in children:

  1. Papillary cancer is the form of cancer that occurs in the cells that produce thyroid hormones containing iodine. It is the most common of thyroid cancers in children. Although it grows very slowly it can spread to the lymph nodes via lymphatics in the neck and occasionally may spread to other areas.
  2. Follicular cancer also develops in the cells that produce thyroid hormones containing iodine. This type of thyroid cancer is more common in the slightly older age group and less so in children. It may spread to the neck via blood vessels, causing it to spread to other areas of the body, making it more difficult to control.
  3. Medullary cancer is a rare form of cancer that develops in the cells that produce the hormone calcitonin. In children, usually the older age group, this cancer is usually associated with specific inherited genetic conditions. It is the fastest growing type of thyroid cancer and the abnormal cells grow and spread quickly to the neck area.

As a parent, if symptoms present themselves,take the child to the doctor. The doctor will then examine the head and neck area, looking for unusual lumps or nodules.

To determine the production of the thyroid hormones blood testing will be done.

Ultrasound imagining may be ordered to create an image of the neck area to have a better look at the thyroid gland and the lymph nodes. The ultra sound is normally followed by a needle biopsy if necessary to determine the cause of the lump.

A radioactive iodine scan providing information about the thyroid function and areas of the gland that do not absorb iodine normally is sometimes warranted.

Treatment for this condition in children will usually be surgery and possibly followed by radioactive iodine treatment to destroy any remaining cancerous thyroid tissue.

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May 06, 2011 Posted Under: Alternative Medicine

Use Lavender Oil to Reduce Work-Related Stress

The daily demands and pressures of life can be quite distressing and in particular those demands that are work-related. Work-related stress is a fact of life with which most individuals deal. Work-related stress not only negatively impacts work performance, but it can also adversely affect personal relationships as well. Stress from work can lead to fatigue, aching muscles, headaches, stomach problems, and emotional difficulties such as anxiety or depression. When you need to relieve work-related stress, you may want to consider using lavender oil.

Using natural ingredients to combat the ill-effects of stress is both safe and effective. Treating stress with chemicals, such as those found in anti-depressants and over-the-counter medications, can be counterproductive to one’s overall health. Since many medications carry with them warnings of dangerous side effects, it seems only rational to opt for natural alternatives instead. Reducing work-related stress naturally can be better for physical, mental, and emotional health.

There are many ways in which lavender oil can be used to reduce work-related stress. The fragrant, calming vapors of this oil can be inhaled directly or the oil can be added to a hot bath. Most people can apply lavender oil directly on the skin without a carrier oil, but you may find after a patch test that you prefer to dilute the lavender oil with some jojoba or another base oil. The oil from the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia) produces a calm, soothing, and sedative effect that can restore balance to the nervous system thereby promoting relaxation and uplifting one’s mood.

It’s not always practical to use a diffuser at work because everyone else may not want to smell lavender, and it can be overly relaxing for some people… which is not usually something everyone else in the office wants or needs. The easiest way to take full advantage of the benefits of lavender oil is to simply keep the bottle on hand, either in a purse or in your pocket, and simply breathe in deep inhalations of the scent from the open bottle. Alternatively, you can put a couple of drops of the pure oil on a tissue and then breathe in the aromatherapy from the tissue. This is generally a milder option and sometimes subtlety is the better method when it comes to full strength essential oils.

Remember that pure essential oils are very concentrated therapeutic substances, but they are not to be over used. Moderation is always the best practice with natural healing substances.
Michael D. Thompson, an organic perfumer and accredited Master Herbalist, is the founder and director of Florapathics, LLC which manufactures all-natural, organically-derived personal care products that are infused with pure essential oils for aromatherapy.

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