How to Raise a Happy Baby and Child

How to raise a happy baby and child (birth to 12 mo.)

by Jill Storey
How to calm a crying baby
 
What makes children happy may surprise you. Child development experts who study the subject say that happiness isn’t something you can give a child like a prettily wrapped present.

In fact, says Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, over-indulged children — whether showered with toys or shielded from emotional discomfort — are more likely to grow into teenagers who are bored, cynical, and joyless.

“The best predictors of happiness are internal, not external,” says Hallowell, who stresses the importance of helping kids develop a set of inner tools they can rely on throughout life.

True for adults too.  My health TV series, “Healthy Within” is based on this simple concept.

The good news is you don’t have to be an expert in child psychology to impart the inner strength and wisdom it takes to weather life’s ups and downs. With patience and flexibility, any parent can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of happiness.

Learn to read the signs

As your child matures from a newborn to a more interactive baby by the age of 6 months, he’ll become a master at showing you when something makes him content or upset.

His face lights up in a heart-melting smile when you enter the room, or he wails when someone takes away his favorite toy. And you’ve probably noticed that he flips between smiling and crying faster than you can pop a pacifier in his mouth.

According to Lise Eliot, a pediatric neuroscientist and author of What’s Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, a baby is so mercurial in his emotions because his cerebral cortex, which controls automatic responses, is barely turned on yet.  

As the cerebral cortex develops over the coming years, your child will be able to better control his behavior and moods.

If it seems your baby spends more time wailing than giggling, that’s because babies actually experience distress earlier than happiness.

Crying and distressed facial expressions are there for a reason, explains Eliot. They serve as an SOS to motivate the caregiver to fix whatever’s wrong.

But if your baby is crying, how do you know if he’s in pain, hungry, or just bored? “A sensitive mother can pick up on different kinds of cries and facial expressions,” says Paul C. Holinger, professor of psychiatry at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago.

“The eyebrows, the mouth, and vocalizations are all signaling systems for the baby.”

For example, a baby in physical distress will cry with the corners of his mouth turned down and his eyebrows arched in the middle.

With anger, your baby’s face becomes flushed, his eyebrows turn down, his jaw clenches, and he lets out a roar.  Most parents recognize that a fearful, easily upset baby isn’t a happy camper, but Holinger finds that many parents don’t recognize that anger is simply excessive distress.

“If there’s a loud noise or bright light,” he says, “the child will show signs of distress. If that noise or light continues to increase, the feeling turns to anger.”

Carrie Masia-Warner, a child psychologist and associate director of the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Institute at the New York University School of Medicine, warns that you shouldn’t read too much into your baby’s moods.

“I wouldn’t call babies happy or unhappy,” she says. “They’re content or not content based on something in their immediate environment.”

While the youngest infants don’t really feel happy when they look happy, the good news is they’re not emotionally aware when they’re screaming, either.

Eliot explains that the “cortical emotion centers” of your baby’s brain don’t begin to function until he’s 6 to 8 months old, when he starts to feel the emotions that seem so vivid on his face.

Your baby probably has his own ways of showing you when he’s not content. Some babies may cry, while others become clingy.

As you get to know your own child’s temperament, you’ll become better at learning the signs that something’s not right in his world. For more insights into your child’s natural temperament, check out the article, “Are children born happy?”.

Make room for fun

Although a colorful crib mobile and her first taste of applesauce may bring a smile to your baby’s face, what makes your baby happiest is much simpler: you.  And that’s the first key to creating a happy child says Hallowell.

“Connect with your baby, play with her,” he advises. “If you’re having fun with your baby, she’s having fun. If you create what I call a ‘connected childhood,’ that is by far the best step to guarantee your child will be happy.”

Play creates joy, but play is also how your child will develop skills essential to future happiness.

As she gets older, unstructured play will allow her to discover what she loves to do — build villages with blocks, make “potions” out of kitchen ingredients, paint elaborate watercolors — which can point her toward a career that will seem like a lifetime of play.

Play doesn’t mean music class, organized sports, and other structured, “enriching” activities. Play is when children invent, create, and daydream.

Help them develop their talents

Hallowell’s prescription for creating lifelong happiness includes a surprising twist: Happy people are often those who have mastered a skill.

For example, when your baby figures out how to get the spoon into his mouth or takes those first shaky steps by himself, he learns from his mistakes, he learns persistence and discipline, and then he experiences the joy of succeeding due to his own efforts.

He also reaps the reward of gaining recognition from others for his accomplishment. Most important, he discovers he has some control over his life: If he tries to do something, he can eventually do it.

Hallowell says that this feeling of control through mastery is an important factor in determining adult happiness.

Hallowell warns that children, like adults, need to follow their own interests, or there’ll be no joy in their successes.

Healthy bodies, happy children

Again, the following can be said of adults too. Healthy bodies, happy adults!

Lots of sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are important to everyone’s well-being, especially children’s.

Giving your baby plenty of space to release her energy, whether that means kicking her legs in the air, crawling toward a beloved ball, or going back and forth — over and over and over — in the infant swing at the park, will help put her in a good mood.

And pay attention to your baby’s need for structure: While some babies are very easygoing, most thrive and feel more settled with a set schedule.

You might also want to pay attention to any connection between your baby’s mood and particular foods; some parents find that while sugar can give their child an energy boost, it can also lead to fussiness.

Food allergies and sensitivities may also play a role in your child’s behavior and mood. If you’re nursing, you may find that your baby becomes fussy after you eat certain foods. Talk to your child’s doctor if you suspect that your baby’s formula or diet is linked to signs of distress.

Let them struggle with problems

In the first six months of a baby’s life, it’s important for parents to respond to their infant’s needs. “You can’t spoil a baby,” says Masia-Warner.

But after about six months, if you run over at every little hiccup, you’re taking away an important learning opportunity. Masia-Warner says it’s good to let babies cry a little as long as you’re giving them lots of positive affection and attention the rest of the time.

But, you say, I’m supposed to be creating a happy child! Shouldn’t I swoop down and make everything better? In fact, Masia-Warner sees this as a big mistake many loving, well-meaning parents make.

“Parents try to make it better for their children all the time, to make them happy all the time. That’s not realistic.

Don’t always jump in and try to fix it,” says Masia-Warner. “Children need to learn to tolerate some distress, some unhappiness. Let them struggle, figure out things on their own, because it allows them to learn how to cope.”

In your baby’s first year, he’s learning so many things: to sit up, crawl, grasp objects, walk, and talk. Each accomplishment brings him confidence and satisfaction in his achievement.

So don’t hurry to pick up the rattle he just dropped or the teddy bear he’s struggling to reach: Give him some time and encouragement to pick it up himself.

Hallowell agrees that allowing children a range of experiences, even the difficult or frustrating ones, helps build the reservoir of inner strength that leads to happiness.

Whether a child’s 7 months old and trying to crawl or 7 years old and struggling with subtraction, Hallowell tells parents, he’ll get better at dealing with adversity simply by grappling with it successfully again and again.

Allow them to be sad or mad

When your baby gets older, you can encourage her to label her feelings and express them verbally. Even before she can talk, you can show her pictures of faces and ask her which one is feeling the same way she is.

Young children will pick up very quickly on “affect” words such as “happy” or “angry.” When they can put words to their emotions, they gain a whole new capacity to recognize and regulate their feelings.

However, Masia-Warner warns, you shouldn’t overreact to your child’s negative feelings. “It’s normal for kids to become oversensitive or clingy or nervous at times because of something in their environment, but it’s not unhappiness.”

You’ll find this is especially important as your child grows. When your child pouts in a corner during a birthday party, your natural reaction may be to push her to join in the fun.

But it’s important to allow her to be unhappy. Hallowell is concerned that “some parents worry any time their children suffer a little rejection, they don’t get invited to the birthday party, or they cry because they didn’t get what they wanted.”

Children need to know that it’s okay to be unhappy sometimes — it’s simply part of life. And if we try to squelch any unhappiness, we may be sending the message that it’s wrong to feel sad. We need to let them experience their feelings, including sadness.

Be a role model

According to Dora Wang, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and mother of 3-year-old Zoe, research shows that you can pass on your temperament to your children — not necessarily through your genes — but through your own behavior and childrearing style.

For better or worse, children pick up on their parents’ moods. Even young babies imitate their parents’ emotional style, which actually activates specific neural pathways.

In other words, when you smile, your baby smiles and his brain becomes “wired” for smiling. Similarly, if you have a colicky baby who cries for hours, the best thing you can do is to stay calm, because babies pick up on their caregivers’ stress.

With a new baby, it’s normal to feel tired and overwhelmed, but if you find yourself constantly stressed out or depressed, it’s important to seek help.

“Parents who tend to be depressed are often not good at being consistent with their discipline and providing structure, or at providing consistent praise and having fun with their children. All of this can contribute to emotional problems,” says Masia-Warner.

Teach them to do meaningful things

As your baby matures, she can be taught — with even the smallest day-to-day lessons — how satisfying it is to help others. Research shows that people who have meaning in their lives feel less depressed.

Even as early as 10 months, you can teach your child the satisfaction of give and take. If you give her a bite of banana, let her do the same by feeding you a piece.

Show her how happy her gesture of generosity made you feel. If you brush her hair, give her a chance to brush yours. These small moments can nourish a sensibility toward sharing and caring for others.

As your baby grows into a toddler, simple household chores, such as putting her dirty clothes in the hamper or setting the table, can help a young child feel that she’s making a contribution.

Sound Off
Do you worry about whether your child is happy? Take our poll and tell us.

The BabyCenter Seven: Ways to turn your child’s frown upside down

What do you do when your child’s in a slump? We asked BabyCenter parents, who shared their favorite tried-and-true tips to chase away the blues and bring a smile to their child’s face.

Read all seven tips for cheering up your child.

I love The BabyCenter. Make sure you visit them at www.babycenter.com.   Check out the wonderful Free Apps below if you’re expecting. ~Maria

 
 Related articles

 

Hope you learned something.  Stay healthy!  🙂 

7 Health Benefits of Playing Soccer

1.  ENDURANCE – Ability to do multiple contractions repeated over a long duration.

2.  TEAMWORK – Each player must rely on the next to reach a goal. 

3.  TONE MUSCLES – The constant stop and go mimics interval training.

4.  BRAIN BUILDING –  You’re alert to anticipate what IS happening & what COULD. 

5.  BONE STRENGTH –  Headers, throw-ins, kicking keep you strong.

6. GREAT FOR YOUR HEART – Non-stop running really gets the heart pumping.

7. BURNS CALORIES – Hundreds of calories burned. Midfielder runs up to 5 miles. 

Why You Need to Stretch

Reasons why stretching is so important for soccer players:

  • Increase Flexibility – A good athlete is flexible. Flexibility works with speed, endurance, strength, agility, and skills to create your total athletic ability.


  • Prevent Injury – Flexibility limits risk of sports injury. Studies show female soccer players are at higher risk for knee injuries; stretching during all practice and games helps prevent that.  Always warm-up before stretching.  So important. 

    The Basics

  • Hydration – Drink plenty of fluids before you exercise to give your muscles the fluids necessary to perform to their best,.


  • Warm-Up – Always warm up before stretching. Jogging or jumping jacks for 5-10 minutes will warm-up the muscles.


  • Breathing – While stretching, remember to breathe slowly and evenly to increase oxygen to your body.


  • Stretch for the right length of time – hold each stretch for at least 10-30 seconds maximum.


  • Stretch evenly – stretch both legs, arms equally. Stretch all of your muscle groups. Don’t stretch the front of your thighs (quadriceps) without stretching the back of the thighs (hamstrings). Also, stretch your whole body, not just your legs – stretch your arms, back, neck, stomach, chest, etc.

    What NOT to do

  • Don’t Bounce – Use slow even movements when stretching, bouncing places too much stress on your muscles and joints.


  • Do Not Over Stretch – Be patient, and never force your joints to go further than they want to.


  • Keep Good Posture – Keep your back straight while stretching, or you risk injuring your back muscles.


  • Do Not Overextend Your Joints – Hyperextending your joints (bending them farther than they were meant to go can cause injury, and does not help you in any way. Female soccer players should pay special attention to their knees, to avoid injury.


  • If It Hurts…DON’T DO IT – Always listen to your body. Stretching correctly, you should feel tension on the muscles, and possibly some discomfort – If you have any sharp or serious pain during a stretch or exercise – STOP!, you may doing harm to your body. Remember, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right, listen to it.


  • If you do have an injury, ask your doctor about any exercise or stretching and follow their advice



    WHAT TO EAT:  Soccer Nutrition and Carbohydrates 


    The slow and fast running which you utilize may easily deplete your glycogen stores. To avoid that you need to eat quality carbohydrates.

    Research have shown that amateur soccer players only eat 1300 calories of carbohydrate/day, which is far below the recommended level of 2300 to 2900 calories.

    The main energy source for your muscles are the glycogen fuels. Glycogen is produced from carbohydrates you eat (apples, bananas, bread, milk etc). It is vital for your performance to have enough glycogen. If not, you will have a fatigue felling, your concentration will be poor and recovering from a match/practice will take longer time.

    If your glycogen fuels are low in the beginning of a game, you will most likely have few carbohydrates left in your muscles at the beginning of second half. This simply means that your performance will decrease significantly. You will for example run slower, sometimes by as much as 40-50 % compared to your first half of the match. Your cover distance will also be reduced by 25% or more with low glycogen fuels.

    Do I need to eat fat?
    Well, as soccer player you will burn many calories but the fat should still be minimized in your soccer food because it is not an efficient provider of energy. This doesn’t mean that a diet for soccer players should not contain fat, instead, you should try to keep it low, because in long running sports, like soccer, your body will use glycogen fuel which is found mainly in carbohydrates.

    What about protein, do I need it?
    As soccer player you need normally to eat 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight per day (1.4 to 1.7 g/kg/day). Protein is a vital part of your soccer diet as it will repair your muscles plus boost your immune system. You may also use protein as fuel before practicing sessions or match but it doesn’t give you any boost of energy as carbohydrates does. Some good sources of protein include fish, chicken, milk and yogurt.

    Is it necessary to drink much water?
    During your practice or matches, your body will lose a lot of water (especially in hot and warm weather kinds). By drinking water you will be able to keep your body hydrated which will give a boost on the field. This is one of the most important parts of nutrition for soccer players and you should really put effort in getting it right.

    Soccer nutrition and sports drinks
    Sports drinks usually claim to boost your performance but they are just full of fast carbohydrates that will just increase your blood sugar for a while. This will not increase your performance to some high level. My advice is to plan your meals and only consume sports drinks when you really don’t have time to eat.

    When To Eat?
    The recommended energy diet for soccer players state that you should eat at least 700 carbohydrates 3-4 hours before the start of your game. After the end of match you should attempt to consume enough carbohydrate to replace all the fluid you have lost during the match.

    MORE STRETCHING TIPS AT LINKS BELOW:

Hope you learned something.

Stay healthy! 🙂

    [photo: Saint Joseph by the Sea Soccer Team Champs Go to Italy in ’09]

 

 

Read more on what muscles soccer works out: http://www.livestrong.com/article/479769-what-muscles-does-soccer-work-out/#ixzz1qULg1ILu

Brian Cuban Interviews Larry North about 11 Healthy Eating Myths

briancuban
A FEW TAKEAWAYS in case you missed it.  Brian Cuban asked Larry what it takes to be lean and some of his answers may surprise you.  
SHINE ON:  Foods for Healthy, Glowing Skin
If you think what you eat doesn’t matter, as long as you “work it off” –that’s a myth.  
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According to Larry North, eating healthy makes MORE of a difference than exercise.  Here are 11 Tips from Larry:
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1. You CAN get food, flavor & satisfaction in healthy meals.  Brian mentioned he doesn’t cook and eats out a lot.  Larry said he actually will call the local grocery store where they prepare take-out meals and have them cook/prepare healthy meals for him. Good suggestion.  He orders carefully when at a restaurant. He said  pieces of a cut roll & sashimi is enough.  He believes in eating a lot of good food. He says it’s all about eating. More about the food choices than exercise.
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2. #1 cause of obesity is sugary drinks. Best thing you can do is cut out sodas & sugary coffees out completely.  I’ve been saying this forever. I did so inn 2005 and feel such a difference.  I can personally tell you that your body starts to reject sugar and junk food.
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3. Genetics play a huge role, but HABITS play an even larger role.  Larry stressed that even if you have a lot of family members that are obese, you CAN make a difference by making behavioral changes.
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4. Cardio is overrated.  See #9.
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5. You CAN’T work it off. You have to eat it off (meaning WHAT you eat is more important)
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6. There’s ONE key to a good meal & fitness program. It’s SUSTAINABILITY. You have to ask yourself if you can stick with it long-term. If you can’t sustain it –it will be short-lived.
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7. Behavioral change is the key to fitness.
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8. Work out less; eat better. Larry kept stressing the importance of your food choices. I’m glad about this because I post a lot about healthy foods. I believe a lot of good health (feeling AND looking your best) is nutritional.
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9. 4 to 5 hours of exercise is enough a week.  Larry says if you’re doing more than that –it’s too much.  Brian mentioned that he loves running, but had a problem with his knee and really hates that he can’t run.  Larry said he could get the same benefits from walking –that he doesn’t need to run.
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10. It’s all about what you eat. Plan meals in advance. Larry has two books you can check out. One is “Get Fit” and the most recent is “Living Lean“.
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11.  I missed one.  It’s probably in the book!!  🙂  Wait. I recall another one.   I suppose I should write things down.  Lifting weights. He says you don’t have to spend a great deal of time lifting weights to have it make a difference.  Again, he stresses what you eat as being the most important behavior change you can make.  30 to 40 minutes of even walking 4 days a week keeps you fit when you are eating right.
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The bottom line is you do not need to be a gym rat.
CHECK OUT LARRY NORTH’S BOOK FOR MORE:
THANK YOU, BRIAN. GREAT INTERVIEW.
Link to Revolution Rant with Brian Cuban Show here:   http://tobtr.com/s/3052629.
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Stay healthy, everyone!

What’s All the Hookah About?

The last time I was in the suburbs, I saw a smoke-filled place with a large sign that read, HOOKAH.  The sign to the right of the entrance said, MUST BE 21 TO ENTER.  

My friend’s 17-year-old son said, “All my friends are in there.”  His friends are 17-years-old.  I asked what it was and he said, “It’s smoke, but it’s not smoke. It’s safe. It’s like inhaling water.”

Oh REALLY?  Looks strange.  Bunch of kids.  What a racket, I think. 

When I get home I look it up.  As suspected, it’s not healthy at all.  It’s not like inhaling water.  Time to educate kids and their parents, as these lounges are popping up everywhere.  

Kids spend about $12.00 to smoke and they sell alcohol in these lounges.  Of course, the alcohol isn’t to be served to a minor, but then how is the whole place filled with kids? 

It’s amazing how NYC goes through so much trouble to ban cigarettes –yet these lung damaging dens are permitted.

FACT:  Recent studies have found that smoking from a hookah is just as dangerous as smoking a cigarette.

Most of the people think hookah smoking as a safer alternative to other forms of smoking because the hookah smoke is filtered through water before it is inhaled.

FACT:  Hookah smoking involves more nicotine than cigarette smoking because of the massive volume of smoke, smokers inhale during hookah smoking.
Is Hookah Smoking Safe?

There is a strong belief that the water in the hookah filters out all the “bad stuff” in the tobacco smoke, but it’s completely a nuisance.

FACT:  A study done by the World Health Organization showed that one hookah session of a mere few hours can deliver as much smoke into your lungs as 100 cigarettes.

FACT:  Hookah smokers get more smoke than cigarette smokers, and here’s an answer to this question:

Cigarette smoke is uncomfortably hot if a smoker inhales it deeply. Hookah smoke has been cooled by its passage through the water. The smoker has to inhale hard to pull the smoke through the hookah.   By this the hookah smoke goes deep to the lungs. In to the duration of a typical hookah session, the smoke deposits in huge volumes into the lungs.

What the Study say about Hookah Smoking ?

  • Research indicate that hookah smoking can be even more harmful to health than cigarette smoking.
  • Hookah smoke has a higher level of heavy metals and carbon monoxide than cigarette smoke, because of the charcoal which is burned on top of the tobacco mixture.
  • A 45 minutes of hookah smoking is equivalent to smoking 50 tobacco cigarettes.
  • It was found that smoking hookah for 45 minutes means consuming tar equivalent in 20 tobacco cigarettes.
  • The amount of cellular chromosomal damage produced inside the mouth in hookah smoking is the same as that seen in cigarette smoking.
  • The WHO advisory note states that “water-pipe smokers inhale more smoke resulting in more exposure to cancer causing chemicals and hazardous gases such as carbon monoxide. … Water-pipe smokers and secondhand smokers are at risk for the same kinds of diseases as are caused by cigarette smoking, including cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and adverse effects during pregnancy.”

What is the bottom line for hookah smokers who think it as a better substitute to cigarette smoking?

Almost every method of making smoking safer is a mere nonsense. There is only one way to totally reduce the chances of fatal diseases caused by smoking, is to quit smoking completely.

What Hookah Smoking Does To Your Health?

The American Lung Association (ALA) identifies hookah smoking as a major health risk. The following are the health risks of hookah smoking:

  • Lung cancer, oral cancer
  • Gastric and esophageal carcinoma
  • Impaired pulmonary function
  • Heart disease
  • Reduced fertility
  • Low birth weight of the babies
  • Hepatitis or herpes (caused due to the sharing of hookah among smokers)

A cigarette may last for about 5 minutes, but a normal hookah session would last for 30 minutes. According to a study, a single hookah session may deliver the following:

  • 36 times the tar produced by cigarette
  • 1.7 times the nicotine produced by cigarette
  • 8.3 times the carbon monoxide produced by cigarette
  • 1 hour of hookah session can deliver 50 liters of smoke whereas a single cigarette delivers only 0.5 liters of smoke

What are the Dangers Of Sharing In Hookah Smoking?

Hookah smokers can use their own mouthpiece while smoking the hookah communally. However, sometimes it so happens that they share the mouthpiece.

FACT:  Sharing of the single mouthpiece can spread diseases such as herpes, hepatitis, tuberculosis.
Hookah Smoking
Hookah smoking is not a harmless form of smoking. It can be as dangerous as cigarettes. The long-term consequence of hookah smoking would be increased dependency. Some youngsters, who innocently try hookah as a safe means of smoking, can get addicted. They can further switch to cigarettes as they can be carried around easily. All this proves that hookah smoking cannot be dismissed as safe alternative. Hence, it always helps to stay away from a hookah.

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From Richard Hurt, M.D.

Hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking. Also known as narghile, shisha and goza, a hookah is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. Specially made tobacco is heated, and the smoke passes through water and is then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece. The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.

While research about hookah smoking is still emerging, evidence shows that it poses many dangers:

  • Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.
  • As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
  • Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking does, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.
  • Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with secondhand smoke.
  • Hookah smoking by pregnant women can result in low birth weight babies.
  • Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

A harmful form of tobacco use, known as the hookah or water pipe, may be spreading among youth in the United States according to researchers from the University of California, San Diego’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and San Diego State University.  In April of 2011, they released a report that hookah use among teens in San Diego county rivals use of cigarettes.   This trend is emerging even as cigarette smoking among high school students is on the decline nationally.  

The team of researchers examined patterns of use, risk perception, and psychosocial risk factors among users, former users, and nonusers of hookah at three San Diego high schools.  The paper, “Determinants of Hookah Use among High School Students,” was published in the April edition of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Wael Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, associate professor and chief of the Division of Global Health in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine is the team’s senior author and a research expert in the field of tobacco control.

“Our study suggests that hookah smoking is taking hold in some high school-aged students at a rate higher than previously reported, which is rather alarming as an emerging public health problem,” said Al-Delaimy. “Our data show that inaccurate perception about hookah harmfulness, its social acceptability, and presence of hookah lounges in residential areas, is driving the higher use among the teens in our study.”


 
More than a quarter of the surveyed students (26.1 percent) reported they have tried hookah, and 10.9percent smoked hookah in the past month, which is comparable to the percentage of high school students in this study population who smoked cigarettes in the past month (11 percent).  Furthermore, close to one third of hookah users have no intention of quitting this habit. 

“Understanding the hookah habits of teens is important because a person’s tobacco use pattern – whether or not, and how often – is usually established by age 18,” said Al-Delaimy.

“Hookah use is related to diseases, including coronary heart disease, adverse pulmonary effects and cancers of the lung, mouth and bladder.  Hookah smoke also contains many of the same carcinogens and heavy metals as cigarette smoke; longer hookah smoking sessions, combined with increased smoke volume, makes it potentially more dangerous than cigarettes.” 

Joshua Smith, PhD, from Al-Delaimy’s laboratory, surveyed 689 students from three high schools within San Diego County and found more than half of the students first learned about hookah from friends (50.3 percent) and another 20.9 percent learned about it when they saw a nearby hookah lounge.  

“The concern here is that the students surveyed believed hookah use to be more socially acceptable than cigarettes, and friends seem to be introducing this habit to others.  They also believe it is less harmful than cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, which has not been reported previously among high school students,” said Smith.

Researchers recommend that the legality of hookah lounges in California and other states be addressed, adding that the banning of one product (cigarettes) with the legality of another (hookah) may suggest an element of reduced risk associated.   

“Policy makers and the tobacco research community should reassess priorities for this age group and address the growing hookah epidemic through continued research, media messaging, and restrictions on hookah lounges,” said Al-Delaimy. 

In addition to Al-Delaimy, the research team includes Joshua Smith, PhD, MPH, UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; Tomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH, San Diego State University; Steven D. Edland, PhD, UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; Richard Hostetter, PhD, San Diego State University; and Suzanne P. Lindsay, PhD, MSW, MPH, San Diego State University. 

Media Contact: Kim Edwards, 619-543-6163, kedwards@ucsd.edu

The bottom line is stay away from Hookah. 

 

60

                                                                                                                              

60.  Minimum # of days it takes to change an unhealthy eating habit.

HOW TO CHANGE AN UNHEALTHY EATING HABIT TO A HEALTHY ONE:

1.  AWARENESS – Be mindful of the unhealthy eating habit.  Think of WHY you reach for certain unhealthy foods. Then, exchange it for something healthy.  See list below.

2.  PLAN MEALS – If you have no time for lunch and that is when you grab something unhealthy, prepare a healthy meal the night before and bring it to the office with you.  If you work from home, put it in the refrigerator for easy grabbing the next day.

3.  REDUCE STRESS – Meditate. Reducing stress will also improve your sleep.  Mediatating just twice a week can help with sleep problems.  Turn off all electronic equipment and find a quiet place with no distractions and simply breathe and stretch.  Nature is wonderful to quiet the noise.

4.  TAKE IT SLOW SO YOU DON’T CRASH – Slow-and-Steady is best.

 20 SMALL CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE THAT ADD UP in 60 DAYS:

  1. Start each day with a nutritious breakfast.
  2. Get at least 8 hours of sleep because lack of sleep can cause you to overeat.
  3. Drink more water instead of sugary drinks, sodas, soft drinks or energy drinks.
  4. Don’t eat meals on the run.
  5. Eat when you’re really hungry.  Stop when you’re comfortably full.
  6. Say no to second helpings.
  7. Eat healthy snacks every few  hours: fruits, veggies, almonds, walnuts.
  8. If you eat dairy, switch to soy or lower-fat dairy products.
  9. If  you eat white bread, switch to whole-grain bread.
  10. Use mustard instead of  mayo.
  11. Instead of sauces, flavor your foods with herbs, vinegars, mustards, or lemon.
  12. If you drink coffee, switch to cafe au lait, using strong coffee and hot skim milk instead of cream.
  13. Limit alchohol to 1 or 2 drinks a day.
  14. Eat larger portions of water-rich foods and less of calorie-dense foods.
  15. If you never exercise –start with walking each day.  Stretch and walk.
  16. Replace unhealthy snacking foods in your house with healthy ones. 
  17. Replace ice cream with  yogurts.
  18. Replace salty pretzels and chips with cereals, almonds, walnuts or popcorn.
  19. Stock your refrigerator with fresh fruits & veggies for snacking.
  20. Make your goal feeling healthy,  rather than a certain weight.

60 DAYS.   TWO MONTHS.  LONGTERM CHANGE.  BE PATIENT.

Spotlight on Alzheimer’s

This morning, I step outside and feel a familiar cold chill –reminiscent of pre-sunrise in San Diego.  Later, I glance out window. Sunshine hides like my favorite red augyle sock after laundry.

Gloomy skies get me thinking about Seasonal Affective Disorder and what new therapies exist.

People generally talk about S.A.D. (pun!) when Fall arrives.  What about cloudy days in Spring?  I’ve never been diagnosed with S.A.D., but I’m a bit of a hypocondriac.  I know.  Ironic.

Other people get to benefit from it. In the past, doctors. They laugh and say I’m the healthiest person they’ve ever seen.  I get sent home with a lollipop.  And a bill.

Friends and relatives benefit because each time I think I have something, I put my glasses on and do extensive research.  Lightning speed.  I don’t need eyeglasses anymore (thank you, Dr. Bell of The San Diego Eye Institute).  Research Ninja at your service.

Ever since I was a little kid, my cousin Josephine and I loved researching our imagined illnesses. We loved  using big medical words too.  Some words made us crack up.  Today, Josephine is a top pediatric nurse and I’m the health journalist ninja.

Anyhow, this morning, while I’m researching light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder, I find a blog about using the same Light Therapy for Alzheimer’s patients.  Never heard of THAT.

It’s written by a caregiver named Gary LeBlanc.

I contact Gary & ask for permission to share his blog. I thought it would help other people. He says yes.  (Don’t worry, I get back to light therapy options for Seasonal Affective Disorder later)

I thank Gary for allowing me to repost his unique experience utilizing light to care for his father with Alzheimer’s disease. I always trust real people sharing their medical experiences, rather than professionals.  I have to read between the lines with the latter. Who is funding them? What’s the agenda? Are they PR flacks?  When it’s real people –there is no agenda.

Gary was the primary caregiver of his father for a decade after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Gary has a book, but it is one based on his experience.  It’s called, “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness.”

I notice his article got 7 clicks.  Since I have over 1.2 million people within my social network, and most work in NATIONAL MEDIA and MEDICAL –I thought I’d share his story and shed some LIGHT on something a lot of other Americans are dealing with right now.   It’s so cool when something little –something you can DO can make a big difference. Gary explains.

Light therapy lessens hardships

By GARY LEBLANC | Common Sense Caregiving
Published: March 22, 2012 Updated: March 22, 2012 – 12:00 AM
For many years now I have preached how beneficial it is to keep the homes of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease well lit. Throughout my father’s illness I kept the lights on at full tilt in both the bedroom and bathroom throughout the night. By doing so it kept him from experiencing mass confusion during his frequent bathroom runs in the wee hours.

Even during the daylight hours he had trouble crossing the threshold into the bathroom. The difference from one room’s carpet turning into tiles had him believing there was a step, making him raise his foot high, stepping over nothing. Color contrast can become very deceiving.

A friend of mine, who cares for her father-in-law with Alzheimer’s, recently told me that when she takes him to his doctor’s office, there’s a black welcome mat that scares him to pieces. He refuses to walk on it because he believes it’s a deep hole.

As caregivers we must keep things as simple and safe as possible for our loved ones. Paying close attention to their habits is a good way to start.

For those experiencing Sundowners, also known as “Sundown Syndrome,” start lighting up the house a good hour before dusk. By preventing shadows from creeping in, this will take away some of the hardships experienced during that time of day. Researchers have even found that by using the correct color temperature light bulbs may have a positive effect on mood and behavior.

For instance, what is perceived to be cool-white light has been reported to help the patients remain more alert and verbally active. On the other hand, warm-white light, which has more of a reddish-yellow tinge to it, is said to keep the patient calmer, helping to temper behavior problems.

Unfortunately, visual perception becomes altered from Alzheimer’s. A good tip to keep in mind is to always consider the color contrast in all situations. If you’re having problems getting patients to eat, take into account the way in which the table is set. A white plate on a white table cloth may be very difficult for them to see. Think “Bold Colors.” Try placing their food on a red plate. Even when it comes to the silverware, bright colored handles may encourage them to start digging in. A recent study has found this method has increased intake by 25 percent.

Let’s say there’s a clear glass of water on a white table; change it to a blue cup. This will help them to visually recognize it easier, actually encouraging them to pick it up and drink from it, preventing dehydration. How important is that?

Gary Joseph LeBlanc can be reached at us41books@bellsouth.net. A new expanded edition of his book, “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness,” can be found at stayingafloatbook.com, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Here’s little refresher for anyone who isn’t aware of Alzheimer’s statistics:

Right now, 15 million Americans serve as caregivers, and this is projected to rise to 45 million by 2050.  I got that from The Alzheimer’s Association.

1 in 8 older Americans has Alzheimer’s Disease and 1 in 7 lives alone.  So, there’s all this cheerleading going on about “Living Longer” but are we living Healthier?

According to Psychiatric Times, as many as 50% of persons older than 85 years have some form of dementia (Alzhemier’s disease being the cause in at least two-thirds of cases).

Psychosis occurs in approx. 40% of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and agitation occurs in 80% or more of persons with dementia at some point.  The photo below on the left is what a normal brain looks like. The middle brain shows mild cognitive impairment. The one on the far right is Alzheimeer’s Diseasse.

When I first saw this photo this morning, I wondered why they can’t track the progression on MRI scans, and then a new study popped up saying researchers discovered they can do just that.  News story below.

A study in March 22 issue of the Journal, Neuron says Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may spread within nerve networks in the brain by moving directly betweenn connected neurons. They’re thinking an MRI could track the progression of it.

This makes absolute sense and I wonder why they didn’t have this A ha! moment sooner. I was also looking at photos of the brain this morning and photos of the brain without Alzheimer’s and with are remarkably different, so I had the same thought. Why can’t doctors track the progression with a brain scan.

I’d LOVE to know how to PREVENT dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Something is causing it in so many Americans. My first instinct tells me it is related to NUTRITION.   Something people are eating or drinking is eroding brain cells. Is it soda? Did you see how when someone said they found a mouse in their soda and tried to sue the soda company –the soda executive’s defense was that it was “impossibe” because the mouse would have dissolved in the soda?  Wow.  If it can erode an entire mouse imagine what it can do to your brain.  I could almost hear the fizzling sound of brain cells.  Until we discover how to prevent it, I am always on the lookout for anything that can help patients, families and caregivers.

maxgomez1

 

Consequently, my dear friend, Dr. Max Gomez from CBS just lost his father to Alzheimer’s.   Sympathies go out to the Gomez family at this time.  If you’d like to reach out, here’s a note from Max:

“Some folks have asked about flowers… please don’t. If you’re inclined, I’d much rather you send a donation in my father’s name, Dr Max Gomez, Sr., to the Alzheimer’s research group at NYU where they diagnosed and cared for Dad; check should be made out to the NYU Center for Brain Health and sent to:  Center for Brain Health, NYU School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, 145 E. 32 St., 5th fl, New York, NY 10016.  Attn: Dr. Mony DeLeon. They will also supply tax receipts. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

 

Natural sunlight is always preferable, but LIGHT THERAPY is fascinating in that it can help with the following:

Migraine Headache

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT  WHERE YOU CAN GET LIGHT THERAPY, PRICES along with REVIEWS from HEALTHYLIVING.COM:

Phillips GoLight BLU

Light Therapy On The Go

Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device

Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device

Amazon Price: $119.95 (as of 03/22/2012)Buy Now

Some researchers and light therapy users believe that blue light is the most important part of the spectrum for treating SAD. The Phillips GoLite BLUE is compact, portable, and operates on a rechargeable battery. It’s easy to bring it and use it almost anywhere. 

Syrcadian Blue Light Therapy Device for SAD

Light therapy for your morning commute

The Syrcadian Blue Light Therapy Device comes with a USB cable to mount on a laptop screen. There’s also a car adapter kit to mount on the visor of a car. With the lamp itself, plus the car adapter set, it costs around $100.
Syrcadian Blue SB-1000 Sad Light Therapy Device

Syrcadian Blue SB-1000 Sad Light Therapy Device

Amazon Price: $59.95 (as of 03/22/2012)Buy Now

This handy device is tiny, inexpensive, and very portable. You can mount on the top of your computer monitor, where it draws power vis USB cable, or plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter and mount it on the visor — you can commute and get your light therapy in at the same time. Two brightness settings allow you to select the amount of light you want.

  

Accessories for the Syrcadain Blue

Use it in your car; charge it from a wall socket

The Syrcadian Blue comes with a USB cable, enabling you to plug it into your computer’s USB port, mount it on top, and get your therapy while you work. But that’s not your only option.
Syrcadian Blue Automotive Adapter

Syrcadian Blue Automotive Adapter

This kit provides clips to attach the Syrcadian Blue to your visor, and a car charger to power the device. Use your morning commute to get your light therapy.

Amazon Price: $29.95 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Syrcadian Blue Wall Mount Power Supply

Syrcadian Blue Wall Mount Power Supply

Multi-country adapters to plug your Syrcadian Blue into a wall outlet.

Amazon Price: $24.95 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

  

Other Portable Light Therapy Lamps for SAD

Bring your light therapy with you!

Having the option of taking your therapy lamp wherever you go can alleviate the frustration of living with seasonal depression. Below are more options for portable, lightweight light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. All devices listed have received an average rating of 4.5 to 5 stars on Amazon.
Philips Hf3321/60 Golite, White / Blue

Philips Hf3321/60 Golite, White / Blue

If entirely blue light is too intense for you, Phillips offers a therapy device that’s half blue light and half white light. It features the same low weight and compact dimensions as the GoLite Blu.

Amazon Price: $78.73 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Litebook Elite Hand-Held Light Therapy Device

Litebook Elite Hand-Held Light Therapy Device

The Litebook Elite runs on a long-lasting rechargeable battery. It features a custom lens to provide a uniform field of full spectrum light.

Amazon Price: $168.95 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Sphere Gadget Technologies SP9882 Lightphoria Sad Light Therapy, 10,000 Lux

Sphere Gadget Technologies SP9882 Lightphoria Sad Light Therapy, 10,000 Lux

This portable plug-in sunlamp offers three intensity settings: 5,000 lux, 8,000 lux, and 10,000 lux. It comes with its own travel pouch so you can bring it anywhere.

Amazon Price: $99.99 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

NEW Bio Brite Lumie Zip Portable Light Lite Therapy Box

NEW Bio Brite Lumie Zip Portable Light Lite Therapy Box

Another portable sunlamp, only this one works on batteries. Coming in at 2,500 lux, it’s a good choice for those who experience eyestrain or headaches with higher lux, or who would like to double it up as a task lamp for longer periods of time.

Amazon Price: $199.00 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Feel Bright Light Visor

Feel Bright Light Visor

This light therapy visor will be the next therapy device I try. It works on a rechargeable lithium battery and emits 10,000 lux of blue-green light. A visor is included in the package, as well as clips to attach to your favorite baseball cap.

Amazon Price: $217.00 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Important!

An Important Fact Light Therapy and Bipolar Disorder

A lot of people with bipolar disorder have seasonal mood problems. However, light therapy can cause hypomania or manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder. This is especially true with blue light therapy. If you have bipolar, DO NOT use light therapy unless it’s under close supervision by your doctor.

Phillips Dawn and Dusk Simulator

Sunrise and sunset, exactly when you want them.

A “dawn simulator” is a large, bright white light that serves as an alarm clock. Say you set your alarm for 8 a.m.; the light in the dawn simulator will start to come on gradually, starting around 7:30 or so, and reaching full brightness at 8. You wake up gradually and naturally. It feels much better than being startled awake by an alarm clock.Since my home has skylights, I don’t need to use the “dawn” feature, but I love the “dusk” feature. One reason I don’t get enough sleep is that I like to read in bed, and no matter how tired I am, I can easily lose myself in a book. Before I know it, it’s 4 a.m. The dusk simulator allows me to set a timer for up to 15 to 90 minutes, and as that time passes, its light will slowly dim. Eventually I can’t see my book anymore, which makes it easier for me to put my book down and go to sleep.
Philips HF3471/60 Wake-Up Light, White

Philips HF3471/60 Wake-Up Light, White

Amazon Price: $84.95 (as of 03/22/2012)Buy Now

The Phillips Dawn and Dusk Simulator allows you to wake up with the dawn, whatever the actual time might be. At night, use a timer so that the light dims slowly, triggering your body’s natural sleep process. The alarm also has some pretty nice sound options, such as birdsong — much nicer than a buzzing, jangling alarm clock.

Wake-up Lights for SAD Therapy from Amazon

Dawn simulators help you sleep and help you wake up.

Dawn simulators increase the light in your bedroom gradually and naturally. The artificial “sunrise” this provides can be especially helpful if you have to wake up when it’s still dark out.
EZ Wake Digital SunRise Alarm Clock - Sea Green

EZ Wake Digital SunRise Alarm Clock – Sea Green

Amazon Price: $89.95 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

BioBrite Sunrise Clock Advanced Model  Charcoal

BioBrite Sunrise Clock Advanced Model Charcoal

Amazon Price: $100.00 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Natural Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Light Box

Amazon Price: $165.00 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Sunrise SRS 260 Sun Simulator Alarm Clock MP3 Player

Sunrise SRS 260 Sun Simulator Alarm Clock MP3 Player

Amazon Price: $169.95 (as of 03/22/2012) Buy Now

Important!

Side Effects of Light Therapy

Compared to medication, light therapy has very few side effects. They include headache, nausea, irritability, eye strain or dry mouth. These symptoms often go away on their own, or they can be mitigated by changing the angle of the lamp, its brightness, or duration of the therapy.

For More Reviews Visit:

Light Therapy Reviews

Stay Healthy, everyone!  🙂

Link to Gary LeBlanc’s book, “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness”  at Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/staying-afloat-in-a-sea-of-forgetfulness?keyword=staying+afloat+in+a+sea+of+forgetfulness&store=allproducts

Israeli Law Bans Underweight Models in Ads

As someone who specializes in health, I am in favor of the Israeli law. How wonderful that Adi Barkan, a top Israeli modeling agent proposed the law.

I have been to fashion shows in NYC where I was so uncomfortable watching corpses try to walk down the runway –I wanted to walk out. 

Yet, I applaud at the end of the show instead of being outraged. 

Outraged at the unhealthy images being promoted, which send the wrong message to men and women through its distortion of body image.  If the fashion industry doesn’t change, consumers need to stop buying whatever they sell.

Sharing an article I wrote in 2006, which is still relevant.

Eating Disorders: Maybe It’s Time for a Little Political Correctness by Maria Dorfner

Recently, I began questioning the usage of the term eating disorders. It used to be referred to as anorexia. The term has since expanded to include not just anorexia, but bulimia, compulsive eating, binge-eating and exercise addiction or as Dr. Margo Maine, a clinical psychologist and author of the book, Body Wars: Making Peace With Womens’ Bodies calls it “excess-ersize”.

I understand the reasoning behind creating a broader term, but I don’t understand attaching the word “disorder” to any of these illnesses considering the sensitive psychological component which exists with them.

By this I mean the negative self-talk and shame which these persons struggle to overcome. Recovery includes avoiding circumstances or environments where negative self beliefs about themselves are triggered. Yet, the very word “disorder”, the label slapped on them by the medical community, conjures up instant images of something negative.

I heard something on the radio this morning which prompted my thoughts on this matter. It was another female celebrity being accused of having an eating disorder and adamantly denying it. It got me thinking that the term “eating disorder” screams, “There is something wrong with you!”

I don’t know anyone that would respond positively when told there must be something wrong with you. Telling someone, “I think you have an eating disorder” sounds more like a harsh accusation than a heartfelt concern for a friend, loved one or significant other. Accusations cause defensiveness, denial and shame.

This can lead people who may need help to isolate themselves from the accusations, feel added shame and not seek treatment. I’m not saying all these celebrities have an eating disorder, but some clearly have bones jetting out from their rib cage and collarbone while boasting about staying in shape with their personal trainer.

Eating disorders are complex and the fashion industry and media are already bombarding young girls, boys and adults with distorted images of what their body should look like. Skinny jeans are back and whereas a size 6 used to be thin, now it’s a size 00. I can only imagine where it will go from here. Size Sub 0 perhaps. If jeans came with warning labels that would be the time to add one, such as Warning: Attempting to squeeze into these jeans could cause an eating disorder.

Recent studies suggest there is a genetic and environmental component which predisposes certain individuals to eating disorders. They have what is referred to as a vulnerable personality which is highly sensitive to the environment or what are clinically called triggers. The odds for recovery get stacked against them when the outside environment is bombarded with them.

Supermarkets and News Stands showing bikini-clad unhealthy images are pervasive, so you don’t have to go far to be exposed to them. Then, when someone achieves this look, they are told they have a disorder. It’s psychologically confusing. When we learned cigarettes cause cancer, the television and print ads with the macho, attractive Marlboro man on a horse stopped. It took awhile, but common sense prevailed. Hopefully, the fashion and media industry will take note that there is a correlation between their mixed messages and behavior.

Change could begin within the medical community as well. No one would dream of calling fat people fat anymore. It may be time the term “eating disorder” be revisited. Most celebs would readily admit to alcohol or drug dependence, but mention an eating “disorder” and all the defenses go up. Who wants to admit to having a disorder? The very word has a stigma to it, and serves only to reinforce or trigger the negative beliefs that are already a part of the eating disorder struggle.

The insensitivity doesn’t end there as the same people who would never dream of saying, “You’re so fat” to someone who is obese or deemed obese by whatever the latest Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator dictates– thinks nothing of saying, “You’re so skinny” to someone who may be suffering from an eating “disorder”.

I don’t profess to know what eating disorders should be called instead. But maybe an open dialogue is needed with clinicians, educators and patients about this topic and whether the term is psychologically detrimental to recovery or to reaching out to friends, family or significant others who may be suffering.

It would be interesting to ask patients how the term makes them feel. I’m thinking the majority of them will say, “It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me — like I’m defective.”

A google search on disorders pulls up an A to Z laundry list that makes your head spin — 204,000,000 hits — so eating disorders are not alone in their defective label. Yet, I don’t know too many other illnesses that can be triggered by a term being used to describe it.

It seems counterproductive to want to help people while potentially unwittingly causing them harm. It may be time for the fashion industry and media to think about the triggering images and mixed messages they distribute, and for the medical community to place a kinder and gentler label on this illness.

Why Not Serve Sushi Rolls with Brown Rice?

A recent study said 3 to 4 servings of white rice a day raises the risk of type2 diabetes.  Media strategist and CFO of Fusion TV, Kelly Lefkowitz said what a bummer that was for sushi chefs. 

Good point.  Makes me wonder…

Why don’t they make sushi rolls and serve sushi with brown rice?  I love sushi. So, the words sushi and bummer absolutely cannot coexist. 

Making sushi rolls with brown rice is just as yummy!  I’ve made my own sushi rolls using brown rice and I also request it when in a sushi restaurant.  Chef looks at me funny, but obliges. 

In fact, why not do away with white rice all together since brown rice is clearly healthier AND it’s been proven that brown rice and other whole grains LOWER Type2 Diabetes risk.  I will find out why they continue to use white rice and update this post (is there a $ factor?).  Meanwhile, let’s take a look at available health info on brown rice:

Why Brown Rice is One of the World’s Healthiest Foods

The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing.

If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layerof the grain–a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats.

Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF BROWN RICE

Brown rice has been ranked as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.

By law in the United States, fully milled and polished white rice must be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3, and iron. But the form of these nutrients when added back into the processed rice is not the same as in the original unprocessed version, and at least 11 lost nutrients are not replaced in any form even with rice “enrichment.”

Here are some of the ways in which the nutrients supplied by brown rice can make an important difference in your health:

Manganese—Energy Production Plus Antioxidant Protection

Just one cup of brown rice will provide you with 88.0% of the daily value for manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, which are important for a healthy nervous system, and in the production of cholesterol, which is used by the body to produce sex hormones.

Manganese is also a critical component of a very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is found inside the body’s mitochondria(the oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells) where it provides protection against damage from the free radicals produced during energy production.

Women Who Eat Whole Grains Weigh Less

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition underscores the importance of choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain, i.e., white rice, to maintain a healthy body weight. In this Harvard Medical School / Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, which collected data on over 74,000 female nurses aged 38-63 years over a 12 year period, weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber, whole-grain foods but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods.

Not only did women who consumed more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who ate less of these fiber-rich foods, but those consuming the most dietary fiber from whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight compared to those eating foods made from refined grains.

Brown Rice is Rich in Fiber and Selenium

For people worried about colon cancer risk, brown rice packs a double punch by being a concentrated source of the fiber needed to minimize the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells, and being a very good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer.

In addition to supplying 14.0% of the daily value for fiber, a cup of cooked brown rice provides 27.3% of the DV for selenium, an important benefit since many Americans do not get enough selenium in their diets, yet this trace mineral is of fundamental importance to human health. Selenium is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function.

Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the cancer-preventive activities of selenium. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.

In addition, selenium is incorporated at the active site of many proteins, including glutathione peroxidase, which is particularly important for cancer protection. One of the body’s most powerful antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase is used in the liver to detoxify a wide range of potentially harmful molecules. When levels of glutathione peroxidaseare too low, these toxic molecules are not disarmed and wreak havoc on any cells with which they come in contact, damaging their cellular DNA and promoting the development of cancer cells.

Not only does selenium play a critical role in cancer prevention as a cofactor of glutathione peroxidase, selenium also works with vitamin E in numerous other vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful in the prevention not only of cancer, but also of heart disease, and for decreasing the symptoms of asthma and the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Lower Cholesterol with Whole Brown Rice

Here’s yet another reason to rely on whole foods, such as brown rice, for your healthy way of eating. The oil in whole brown rice lowers cholesterol.

When Marlene Most and colleagues from Louisiana State University evaluated the effects of rice bran and rice bran oil on cholesterol levels in volunteers with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, they found that rice bran oil lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was divided into two parts. First, 26 subjects ate a diet including 13-22g of dietary fiber each day for three weeks, after which 13 switched to a diet that added defatted rice bran to double their fiber intake for five weeks. In the second part of the study, a randomized crossover trial, 14 subjects ate a diet with rice bran oil for 10 weeks.

While the diet including only defatted rice bran did not lower cholesterol, the one containing rice bran oil lowered LDL cholesterol by 7%. Since all the diets contained similar fatty acids, the researchers concluded that the reduction in cholesterol seen in those receiving rice bran oil must have been due to other constituents such as the unsaponifiable compounds found in rice bran oil. The scientists suggest that the unsaponifiables present in rice bran oil could become important functional foods for cardiovascular health.

But why extract just one beneficial compound from brown rice when you can reap all the cardioprotective benefits supplied by the matrix of nutrients naturally present in this delicious whole food? In addition to unsaponifiables, this whole grain also supplies hefty doses of heart-healthy fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Significant Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women

Eating a serving of whole grains, such as brown rice, at least 6 times each week is an especially good idea for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A 3-year prospective study of over 200 postmenopausal women with CVD, published in the American Heart Journal, shows that those eating at least 6 servings of whole grains each week experienced both:

  • Slowed progression of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows, and
  • Less progression in stenosis, the narrowing of the diameter of arterial passageways.

The women’s intake of fiber from fruits, vegetables and refined grains was not associated with a lessening in CVD progression.

Phytonutrients with Health-Promoting Activity Equal to or Even Higher than that of Vegetables and Fruits

Research reported at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) International Conference on Food, Nutrition and Cancer, by Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues at Cornell University shows that whole grains, such as rice, contain many powerful phytonutrients whose activity has gone unrecognized because research methods have overlooked them.

Despite the fact that for years researchers have been measuring the antioxidant power of a wide array of phytonutrients, they have typically measured only the “free” forms of these substances, which dissolve quickly and are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. They have not looked at the “bound” forms, which are attached to the walls of plant cells and must be released by intestinal bacteria during digestion before they can be absorbed.

Phenolics, powerful antioxidants that work in multiple ways to prevent disease, are one major class of phytonutrients that have been widely studied. Included in this broad category are such compounds as quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, catechins, and many others that appear frequently in the health news.

When Dr. Liu and his colleagues measured the relative amounts of phenolics, and whether they were present in bound or free form, in common fruits and vegetables like apples, red grapes, broccoli and spinach, they found that phenolics in the “free” form averaged 76% of the total number of phenolics in these foods. In whole grains, however, “free” phenolics accounted for less than 1% of the total, while the remaining 99% were in “bound” form.

In his presentation, Dr. Liu explained that because researchers have examined whole grains with the same process used to measure antioxidants in vegetables and fruits—looking for their content of “free” phenolics”—the amount and activity of antioxidants in whole grains has been vastly underestimated.

Despite the differences in fruits’, vegetables’ and whole grains’ content of “free” and “bound” phenolics, the total antioxidant activity in all three types of whole foods is similar, according to Dr. Liu’s research. His team measured the antioxidant activity of various foods, assigning each a rating based on a formula (micromoles of vitamin C equivalent per gram). Broccoli and spinach measured 80 and 81, respectively; apple and banana measured 98 and 65; and of the whole grains tested, corn measured 181, whole wheat 77, oats 75, and brown rice 56.

Dr. Liu’s findings may help explain why studies have shown that populations eating diets high in fiber-rich whole grains consistently have lower risk for colon cancer, yet short-term clinical trials that have focused on fiber alone in lowering colon cancer risk, often to the point of giving subjects isolated fiber supplements, yield inconsistent results.

The explanation is most likely that these studies have not taken into account the interactive effects of all the nutrients in whole grains—not just their fiber, but also their many phytonutrients. As far as whole grains are concerned, Dr. Liu believes that the key to their powerful cancer-fighting potential is precisely their wholeness.

A grain of whole wheat consists of three parts—its endosperm (starch), bran and germ. When wheat—or any whole grain—is refined, its bran and germ are removed. Although these two parts make up only 15-17% of the grain’s weight, they contain 83% of its phenolics. Dr. Liu says his recent findings on the antioxidant content of whole grains reinforce the message that a variety of foods should be eaten good health.

 “Different plant foods have different phytochemicals,”he said. “These substances go to different organs, tissues and cells, where they perform different functions. What your body needs to ward off disease is this synergistic effect—this teamwork—that is produced by eating a wide variety of plant foods, including whole grains.”

Lignans Protect against Heart Disease

One type of phytonutrient especially abundant in whole grains including brown rice are plant lignans, which are converted by friendly flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans, including one called enterolactone that is thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease.

In addition to whole grains, nuts, seeds and berries are rich sources of plant lignans, and vegetables, fruits, and beverages such as coffee, tea and wine also contain some.

When blood levels of enterolactone were measured in over 850 postmenopausal women in a Danish study published in the Journal of Nutrition, women eating the most whole grains were found to have significantly higher blood levels of this protective lignan. Women who ate more cabbage and leafy vegetables also had higher enterolactone levels.

Reduce Your Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

First we were told, “Don’t eat fat, and you’ll stay trim.” After following this advice only to see obesity expand to never before seen proportions, we’re told by the food gurus, “Eating fat is fine. Shun carbohydrates to stay slim.”

In our opinion, neither piece of dietary advice is complete, accurate or likely to help us stay slim or healthy. Just as different kinds of fats have different effects in our bodies (e.g., saturated and trans fats are linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease while omega-3 fats decrease cardiovascular disease risk), some carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are healthful while others, such as refined grains and the foods made from them, are not.

The latest research is clearly supporting this vital distinction. Refined grains and the foods made from them (e.g., white breads, cookies, pastries, pasta and rice) are now being linked not only to weight gain but to increased risk of insulin resistance (the precursor of type 2 diabetes) and the metabolic syndrome (a strong predictor of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), while eating more wholegrain foods is being shown to protect against all these ills.

Common features of the metabolic syndrome include visceral obesity (the “apple shaped” body), low levels of protective HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.

In one of the most recent studies, which appeared in Diabetes Care, researchers who analyzed data on over 2,800 participants in the Framingham Offspring Study, found that the prevalence of both insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome was significantly lower among those eating the most cereal fiber from whole grains compared to those eating the least.

Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was 38% lower among those with the highest intake of fiber from whole grains. Conversely, study subjects whose diets had the highest glycemic index and glycemic load, both of which are typically low in whole foods and high in processed refined foods, were 141% more likely to have the metabolic syndrome compared to those whose diets had the lowest glycemic index and glycemic load.

In other words, compared to those whose diets were primarily composed of whole high fiber foods: whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits.

The researchers concluded, “Given that both a high cereal fiber content and lower glycemic index are attributes of wholegrain foods, recommendation to increase wholegrain intake may reduce the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome.”

Our perspective at the World’s Healthiest Foods is that a way of eating that relies on the healthiest foods from all the food groups—the whole foods that contain the healthiest fats, carbohydrates and proteins—is the most effective, intelligent, and most enjoyable way to not only lower your risk of developing the metabolic syndrome, but to stay slim, vital and attractive throughout a long and healthy life.

Brown Rice and Other Whole Grains Substantially Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Brown rice and other whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.

The FDA permits foods that contain at least 51% whole grains by weight (and are also low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) to display a health claim stating consumption is linked to lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research suggests regular consumption of whole grains also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. (van Dam RM, Hu FB, Diabetes Care).

In this 8-year trial, involving 41,186 particpants of the Black Women’s Health Study, research data confirmed inverse associations between magnesium, calcium and major food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes that had already been reported in predominantly white populations.

Risk of type 2 diabetes was 31% lower in black women who frequently ate whole grains compared to those eating the least of these magnesium-rich foods. When the women’s dietary intake of magnesium intake was considered by itself, a beneficial, but lesser—19%— reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes was found, indicating that whole grains offer special benefits in promoting healthy blood sugar control.

Daily consumption of low-fat dairy foods was also helpful, lowering risk of type 2 diabetes by 13%.

Rice pudding—quickly made by simply adding low-fat milk, cinnamon, raisins, a little honey and 1/4 teaspoon of finely grated orange peel to a cup of cooked rice, then cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes—is a delicious way to enjoy both rice and dairy.

Tune Down and Bone Up on Brown Rice

Magnesium, another nutrient for which brown rice is a good source, has been shown in studies to be helpful for reducing the severity of asthma, lowering high blood pressure, reducing the frequency of migraine headaches, and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. How does magnesiumaccomplish all this?

Magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature’s own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. By blocking calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they ennervate) relaxed.

If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and nerve cells can become overactivated, sending too many messages and causing excessive contraction. Insufficient magnesium can thus contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue.

But that’s far from all magnesium does for you. Magnesium, as well as calcium, is necessary for healthy bones. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed.

Brown rice can help you keep those storage sites replenished and ready to meet your body’s needs. A cup of brown rice will give you 21.0% of the daily value for magnesium.

In addition to the niacin it supplies, brown rice may also help raise blood levels of nitric oxide, a small molecule known to improve blood vessel dilation and to inhibit oxidative (free radical) damage of cholesterol and the adhesion of white cells to the vascular wall (two important steps in the development of atherosclerotic plaques).

A study published in the British Journal of Nutritionsuggests that diets high in rice protein can help protect against atherosclerosis by increasing blood levels of nitric oxide.

In this study, when researchers gave mice bred to be apoliprotein-E deficient a purified diet containing either casein, the principal protein in dairy products, rice protein or soy protein, the mice given casein developed the largest atherosclerotic lesions. (In humans as well as animals, apolipoprotein E plays an important role in cholesterol transport, so a deficiency of this protein increases risk for the development of atherosclerosis.)

Mice given rice or soy protein fared much better. In trying to understand why, the researchers evaluated blood levels of nitric oxide. Mice fed either rice or soy protein diets were found to have increased blood levels of L-arginine (the amino acid that the body uses to produce nitric oxide) and nitric oxide metabolites when compared to those given casein-based feed.

However, the L-arginine content of the rice and soy diets was not high enough to explain the amount of protective benefit they conferred, so the researchers concluded that these foods must also contain other cardioprotective compounds.

A Good Source of Fiber

The health benefits of brown rice continue with its fiber; a cup of brown rice provides 14.0% of the daily value for fiber, which has been shown to reduce high cholesterol levels, one more way brown rice helps prevent atherosclerosis.

Fiber also helps out by keeping blood sugar levels under control, so brown rice is an excellent grain choice for people with diabetes. As we mentioned above, the fiber in brown rice can also help to protect you against colon cancer since fiber binds to cancer-causing chemicals, keeping them away from the cells lining the colon, plus it can help normalize bowel function, reducing constipation.

Fiber from Whole Grains and Fruit Protective against Breast Cancer

When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women’s Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as brown rice, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology).

Pre-menopausal women eating the most fiber (>30 grams daily) more than halved their risk of developing breast cancer, enjoying a 52% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose diets supplied the least fiber (<20 grams/day).

Fiber supplied by whole grains offered the most protection. Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole grain fiber (at least 13 g/day) had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest whole grain fiber intake (4 g or less per day).

Fiber from fruit was also protective. Pre-menopausal women whose diets supplied the most fiber from fruit (at least 6 g/day) had a 29% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest fruit fiber intake (2 g or less per day).

Practical Tip: As the following table shows, it’s surprisingly easy to enjoy a healthy way of eating that delivers at least 13 grams of whole grain fiber and 6 grams of fiber from fruit each day.

Food Fiber Content in Grams
Oatmeal, 1 cup 3.98
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 2
Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 cup 6.3 Brown rice, 1 cup 3.5 Barley, 1 cup 13.6 Buckwheat, 1 cup 4.54 Rye, 1/3 cup 8.22 Corn, 1 cup 4.6 Apple, 1 medium with skin 5.0 Banana, 1 medium 4.0 Blueberries, 1 cup 3.92 Orange, 1 large 4.42 Pear, 1 large 5.02 Prunes, 1/4 cup 3.02 Strawberries, 1 cup 3.82 Raspberries, 1 cup 8.36

*Fiber content can vary between brands. Source: esha Research, Food Processor for Windows, Version 7.8

Help Prevent Gallstones

Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, such as brown rice, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Studying the overall fiber intake and types of fiber consumed over a 16 year period by over 69,000 women in the Nurses Health Study, researchers found that those consuming the most fiber overall (both soluble and insoluble) had a 13% lower risk of developing gallstones compared to women consuming the fewest fiber-rich foods.

Those eating the most foods rich in insoluble fiber gained even more protection against gallstones: a 17% lower risk compared to women eating the least. And the protection was dose-related; a 5-gram increase in insoluble fiber intake dropped risk dropped 10%.

How do foods rich in insoluble fiber help prevent gallstones? Researchers think insoluble fiber not only speeds intestinal transit time (how quickly food moves through the intestines), but reduces the secretion of bile acids (excessive amounts contribute to gallstone formation), increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (blood fats).

Abundant not just in brown rice but all whole grains, insoluble fiber is also found in nuts and the edible skin of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, many squash, apples, berries, and pears. In addition, beans provide insoluble as well as soluble fiber.

Whole Grains and Fish Highly Protective against Childhood Asthma

According to the American Lung Association, almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, which is reported to be responsible for over 14 million lost school days in children, and an annual economic cost of more than $16.1 billion.

Increasing consumption of whole grains and fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%, suggests the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga AH, Thorax).

The researchers, from the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Groningen, used food frequency questionnaires completed by the parents of 598 Dutch children aged 8-13 years.

They assessed the children’s consumption of a range of foods including fish, fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grain products. Data on asthma and wheezing were also assessed using medical tests as well as questionnaires.

While no association between asthma and intake of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products was found (a result at odds with other studies that have supported a link between antioxidant intake, particularly vitamins C and E, and asthma), the children’s intake of both whole grains and fish was significantly linked to incidence of wheezing and current asthma.

In children with a low intake of fish and whole grains, the prevalence of wheezing was almost 20%, but was only 4.2% in children with a high intake of both foods. Low intake of fish and whole grains also correlated with a much higher incidence of current asthma (16.7%). compared to only a 2.8% incidence of current asthma among children with a high intake of both foods.

After adjusting results for possible confounding factors, such as the educational level of the mother, and total energy intake, high intakes of whole grains and fish were found to be associated with a 54 and 66% reduction in the probability of being asthmatic, respectively.

The probability of having asthma with bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), defined as having an increased sensitivity to factors that cause narrowing of the airways, was reduced by 72 and 88% when children had a high-intake of whole grains and fish, respectively.

Lead researcher, CoraTabak commented, “The rise in the prevalence of asthma in western societies may be related to changed dietary habits.” We agree. The Standard American Diet is sorely deficient in the numerous anti-inflammatory compounds found in fish and whole grains, notably, the omega-3 fats supplied by cold water fish and the magnesium and vitamin E provided by whole grains.

One caution: wheat may need to be avoided as it is a common food allergen associated with asthma.

Meta-analysis Explains Whole Grains’ Health Benefits

In many studies, eating whole grains, such as brown rice, has been linked to protection against atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature death.

A new study and accompanying editorial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains the likely reasons behind these findings and recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains should be eaten daily.

Whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. In this meta-analysis of 7 studies including more than 150,000 persons, those whose diets provided the highest dietary fiber intake had a 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.

But it’s not just fiber’s ability to serve as a bulking agent that is responsible for its beneficial effects as a component of whole grains. Wheat bran, for example, which constitutes 15% of most whole-grain wheat kernels but is virtually non-existent in refined wheat flour, is rich in minerals, antioxidants, lignans, and other phytonutrients—as well as in fiber.

In addition to the matrix of nutrients in their dietary fibers, the whole-grain arsenal includes a wide variety of additional nutrients and phytochemicals that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Compounds in whole grains that have cholesterol-lowering effects include polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols and stanols, and saponins.

Whole grains are also important dietary sources of water-soluble, fat-soluble, and insoluble antioxidants. The long list of cereal antioxidants includes vitamin E, tocotrieonols, selenium, phenolic acids, and phytic acid. These multifunctional antioxidants come in immediate-release to slow-release forms and thus are available throughout the gastrointestinal tract over a long period after being consumed.

The high antioxidant capacity of wheat bran, for example, is 20-fold that of refined wheat flour (endosperm). Although the role of antioxidant supplements in protecting against cardiovascular disease has been questioned, prospective population studies consistently suggest that when consumed in whole foods, antioxidants are associated with significant protection against cardiovascular disease.

Because free radical damage to cholesterol appears to contribute significantly to the development of atherosclerosis, the broad range of antioxidant activities from the phytonutrients abundant in whole grains is thought to play a strong role in their cardio-protective effects.

Like soybeans, whole grains are good sources of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that may affect blood cholesterol levels, blood vessel elasticity, bone metabolism, and many other cellular metabolic processes.

Whole grains are rich sources of lignans that are converted by the human gut to enterolactone and enterodiole. In studies of Finnish men, blood levels of enterolactone have been found to have an inverse relation not just to cardiovascular-related death, but to all causes of death, which suggests that the plant lignans in whole grains may play an important role in their protective effects.

Lower insulin levels may also contribute to the protective effects of whole grains. In many persons, the risks of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity are linked to insulin resistance.

Higher intakes of whole grains are associated with increased sensitivity to insulin in population studies and clinical trials. Why? Because whole grains improve insulin sensitivity by lowering the glycemic index of the diet while increasing its content of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.

The whole kernel of truth: as part of your healthy way of eating, whole grains can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Enjoy at least 3 servings a day.

No idea how to cook whole grains? Just look at the “How to Enjoy” section in our profiles of the whole grains, or for quick, easy, delicious recipes, click on this link to our Recipe Assistant and select brown rice or whichever whole grain you would like to prepare.

BROWN RICE HISTORY

Rice is one of the most important foods in the world, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world’s population. No wonder that in Asian countries, such as Thailand, rice is so highly valued that the translation of the word “to eat” literally means “to eat rice.”

Asked to name the types of rice they are familiar with, people may be able to recall one or two. Yet, in actuality there is an abundance of different types of rice—over 8,000 varieties. Oftentimes, rice is categorized by its size as being either short grain, medium grain or long grain. Short grain, which has the highest starch content, makes the stickiest rice, while long grain is lighter and tends to remain separate when cooked. The qualities of medium grain fall between the other two types.

The scientific name for rice is Oryza sativa.

Another way that rice is classified is according to the degree of milling that it undergoes. This is what makes a brown rice different than white rice. Brown rice, often referred to as whole rice or cargo rice, is the whole grain with only its inedible outer hull removed. Brown rice still retains its nutrient-rich bran and germ. White rice, on the other hand, is both milled and polished, which removes the bran and germ along with all the nutrients that reside within these important layers.

Some of the most popular varieties of rice in this country include:

  • Arborio: A round grain, starchy white rice, traditionally used to make the Italian dish risotto.
  • Basmati: An aromatic rice that has a nutlike fragrance, delicate flavor and light texture.
  • Sweet rice: Almost translucent when it is cooked, this very sticky rice is traditionally used to make sushi and mochi.
  • Jasmine: A soft-textured long grain aromatic rice that is available in both brown and white varieties.
  • Bhutanese red rice: Grown in the Himalayas, this red colored rice has a nutty, earthy taste.
  • Forbidden rice: A black colored rice that turns purple upon cooking and has a sweet taste and sticky texture.

MORE RICE HISTORY

Everyone knows that rice is an ancient food, but only recently have we discovered just how ancient it is. Rice was believed to have been first cultivated in China around 6,000 years ago, but recent archaeological discoveries have found primitive rice seeds and ancient farm tools dating back about 9,000 years.

For the majority of its long history, rice was a staple only in Asia. Not until Arab travelers introduced rice into ancient Greece, and Alexander the Great brought it to India, did rice find its way to other corners of the world. Subsequently, the Moors brought rice to Spain in the 8th century during their conquests, while the Crusaders were responsible for bringing rice to France. Rice was introduced into South America in the 17th century by the Spanish during their colonization of this continent.

The majority of the world’s rice is grown in Asia, where it plays an incredibly important role in their food culture. Thailand, Vietnam and China are the three largest exporters of rice.

How to Select and Store

Rice is available prepackaged as well as in bulk containers. If purchasing brown rice in a packaged container, check to see if there is a “use-by” date on the package since brown rice, owing to its natural oils, has the potential to become rancid if kept too long.

Research recently published suggests that some non-organic U.S. long grain rice may have 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. For this reason, select organically grown rice whenever possible. (More detailed information on this study can be found below in the Individual Concerns section.)

Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the rice are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing rice in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.

Since brown rice still features an oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid than white rice and therefore should be stored in the refrigerator. Stored in an airtight container, brown rice will keep fresh for about six months.

While white rice varieties should also be stored in an airtight container, they can be kept in a cool, dry place rather than the refrigerator. Stored properly, they will keep fresh for about one year.

The storage of cooked rice is controversial. Most organizations recommend 4-7 days of storage in the refrigerator at most. From all of the available evidence, however, and to err on the safe side, we believe it’s best to cook only the amount of rice you can consume during the day it is cooked, or at most, the following day.

Several potential toxins can be produced in rice under certain conditions involving time, temperature, presence of moisture, bacterial spores, or fungi. It appears that some fungi can turn one of the amino acids (tryptophan) in rice into alpha-picolinic acid, and that this substance, when excessive, can cause hypersensitivity reactions to rice in some persons.

Another mycotoxin (fungus-triggered toxin) called T-2 can also be produced in rice by the fungus Fusarium. About 300 mycotoxins are commonly found in many grains, not only rice, when these grains are allowed to become moldy.

All of the research we’ve see on these potential toxins involves cultivation and harvesting of rice at the agricultural level rather than cooking and storage of rice at home. However, we still suggest erring on the safe side here. Be sure to keep your cooked rice in a tightly sealed container when stored in your refrigerator.

Tips for Preparing Rice

Like all grains, before cooking rice, especially that which is sold in bulk, rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing brown rice, add one part rice to two parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

To prevent them from sticking, wash medium grain and round rice (like Arborio) under cool running water before cooking.

To cook basmati rice, which has a lighter, fluffier texture, soak it in a bowl of cool water before cooking, stirring frequently and replacing the water four or five times until the water no longer has a milky appearance.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Heat up cooked rice with milk or soymilk. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey for a delicious rice pudding.

Make homemade vegetable sushi rolls by wrapping brown rice and your favorite vegetables in sheets of well-moistened nori.

Use rice leftovers for cold rice salads that are great for on-the-go lunches. Be creative and add either chicken or tofu plus your favorite vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices.

For a simple yet delicious lunch or dinner entrée, serve beans and rice accompanied by the vegetables of your choice.

Rice as a side dish need not be served plain – spruce it up with the toppings of your choice. Some of our favorites include nuts, sesame seeds, healthy sautéed mushrooms, and scallions.

Place rice and chopped vegetables in a pita bread, top with your favorite dressing, and enjoy a quick and easy lunch meal.

INDIVIDUAL RICE CONCERNS

Brown rice is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines. In fact, the hypoallergenic (low-allergy) nature of whole grain, organic brown rice makes it a grain alternative commonly recommended by healthcare practitioners.

Non-Organic Rice May Contain Traces of Arsenic

Research conducted by Andrew Mehanrg and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has found that rice grown in the U.S. contains from 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. However, the U.S. rice contains less of the most toxic species of arsenic than the rice tested from other nations.

U.S. long grain rice had the highest mean arsenic levels at 0.26μg/g with the highest concentration at 0.4 μg/g.

Indian rice had the least arsenic at 0.05μg/g.

Rice from Bangladesh contained the same amount of arsenic as rice from Europe at 0.15 μg/g.

Low doses of arsenic, such as those found in Meharg’s survey, do not cause acute illness; however, long term exposure may increase cancer risk. Higher levels of exposure can affect various organs including the skin and the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, genitourinary, reproductive, gastro-intestinal and nervous systems.

Despite U.S. rice containing the highest concentrations of arsenic, it is difficult to evaluate the possible toxicity of the rice that was tested because inorganic arsenic is five to ten times more toxic than organic arsenic. In the U.S. rice, only 42% of the arsenic was inorganic compared to 81% in the Indian rice, 80% in the Bangladeshi and 64% in European rice. But, as the authors point out, organic arsenic can still cause health problems.

The arsenic contamination of U.S. rice may be the result of earlier cotton farming, which relied on arsenic-based pesticides. Land previously used to grow cotton is now used to cultivate rice, particularly in Mississippi and Arkansas.

When rice was first grown in these states, the crops often failed due to straighthead, an arsenic-induced disease. Varieties of rice were developed that are resistant to straighthead, but this increased the risk of arsenic accumulation in apparently healthy grains. The U.S. is currently reviewing all arsenic-based pesticides.

The World’s Healthiest Foods recommends erring on the side of safety. Choose organically grown rice whenever possible. For any crop to be labeled as organic, including rice, stringent testing of soils for contaminants, including arsenic, must be passed.

Nutritional Profile

Rice is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, and a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Rice.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Brown riceis also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients.

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications).

If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria.

(To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.)

To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart.

Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system.

For most of our nutrient ratings, they adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Brown Rice
1.00 cup
195.00 grams
216.45 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
manganese 1.76 mg 88.0 7.3 excellent
selenium 19.11 mcg 27.3 2.3 good
magnesium 83.85 mg 21.0 1.7 good
tryptophan 0.06 g 18.8 1.6 good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Brown rice

In some parts of the world, the word “to eat” literally means “to eat rice.” All varieties of rice are available throughout the year, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world’s population.

The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value.

The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.

Nutrients in
Brown Rice
1.00 cup (195.00 grams)

Nutrient%Daily Value
manganese88%
selenium27.3%
magnesium20.9%
tryptophan18.7%
Calories (216)12%

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Brown rice provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Brown rice can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Brown rice, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

References

  • Anderson JW, Hanna TJ, Peng X, Kryscio RJ. Whole grain foods and heart disease risk. J Am Coll Nutr 2000 Jun;19(3 Suppl):291S-9S 2000. PMID:17670.
  • Cade JE, Burley VJ, Greenwood DC. Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women’s Cohort Study. Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Jan 24; [Epub ahead of print] 2007. PMID:17251246.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California 1983.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Erkkila AT, Herrington DM, Mozaffarian D, Lichtenstein AH. Cereal fiber and whole-grain intake are associated with reduced progression of coronary-artery atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women with coronary artery disease. Am Heart J. 2005 Jul;150(1):94-101. 2005. PMID:16084154.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York 1996.
  • Jensen MK, Koh-Banerjee P, Hu FB, Franz M, Sampson L, Gronbaek M, Rimm EB. Intakes of whole grains, bran, and germ and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2004 Dec;80(6):1492-9. 2004. PMID:15585760.
  • Johnsen NF, Hausner H, Olsen A, Tetens I, Christensen J, Knudsen KE, Overvad K, Tjonneland A. Intake of whole grains and vegetables determines the plasma enterolactone concentration of Danish women. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2691-7. 2004. PMID:15465768.
  • Liu RH. New finding may be key to ending confusion over link between fiber, colon cancer. American Institute for Cancer Research Press Release, November 3, 2004. 2004.
  • Liu S, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB, Rosner B, Colditz G. Relation between changes in intakes of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Nov;78(5):920-7. 2003. PMID:14594777.
  • McKeown NM, Meigs JB, Liu S, Saltzman E, Wilson PW, Jacques PF. Carbohydrate Nutrition, Insulin Resistance, and the Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Diabetes Care. 2004 Feb;27(2):538-546. 2004. PMID:14747241.
  • Most MM, Tulley R, Morales S, Lefevre M. Rice bran oil, not fiber, lowers cholesterol in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):64-8. 2005. PMID:15640461.
  • Ni W, Tsuda Y, Takashima S, Sato H, Sato M, Imaizumi K. Anti-atherogenic effect of soya and rice-protein isolate, compared with casein, in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Br J Nutr Jul;90(1):13-20 2003.
  • PlanetRice.net. Chinese Archaeologists Find 9,000-Year-Old Rice Seeds. http://www.planetrice.net/newspub/story.cfm?id=1021 2001.
  • Tabak C, Wijga AH, de Meer G, Janssen NA, Brunekreef B, Smit HA. Diet and asthma in Dutch school children (ISAAC-2). Thorax. 2006 Dec;61(12):1048-53. Epub 2005 Oct 21. 2006. PMID:16244092.
  • Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Long-term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 Jul;99(7):1364-70. 2004. PMID:15233680.
  • van Dam RM, Hu FB, Rosenberg L, Krishnan S, Palmer JR. Dietary calcium and magnesium, major food sources, and risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. Black women. Diabetes Care. 2006 Oct;29(10):2238-43. 2006. PMID:17003299.
  • Vogt, T. M. Ziegler, R. G. Graubard, B. I et al. Serum selenium and risk of prostate cancer in U.S. blacks and whites. Int J Cancer. 2003 Feb 20; 103(5):664-70 2003.
  • Williams PN, Price AH, Raab A, Hossain A, Feldmann J, Meharg AA. Variation in arsenic speciation and concentration in paddy rice related to dietary exposure. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2005 July;39 (15):5531-5540. 2005. PMID:16124284.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988 1988. PMID:15220.

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Meanwhile, here’s a recipe for Vegetable Brown Sushi Rolls from Epicurious — followed by more health benefits of brown rice.

Veggie Brown Rice Sushi Roll Ingredients

  • Scant 2/3 cup short-grain brown rice*
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar**
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder**
  • 2 (8 1/4- by 7 1/4-inch) sheets roasted nori** (dried laver)
  • 1/2 Kirby cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/16-inch-thick matchsticks
  • 1/2 carrot, cut into 1/16-inch-thick matchsticks
  • 1/2 firm-ripe small California avocado
  • 3/4 oz radish sprouts*, roots trimmed
  • Special equipment: a bamboo sushi mat**
  • Accompaniments: soy sauce for dipping; sliced gari ** (pickled ginger)
 

Preparation

Rinse rice well and bring to a boil with 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon soy sauce in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat to very low and simmer, tightly covered, until water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice stand, covered, 10 minutes.

While rice is standing, stir together vinegar and remaining teaspoon soy sauce.

Transfer rice to a wide nonmetal bowl (preferably wood, ceramic, or glass) and sprinkle with vinegar mixture, tossing gently with a large spoon to combine. Cool rice, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Stir together wasabi and remaining teaspoon water to form a stiff paste. Let stand at least 15 minutes (to allow flavors to develop).

Place sushi mat on a work surface with slats running crosswise. Arrange 1 sheet nori, shiny side down, on mat, lining up a long edge of sheet with edge of mat nearest you. Using damp fingers, gently press half of rice (about 3/4 cup) onto nori in 1 layer, leaving a 1 3/4-inch border on side farthest from you.

Arrange half of cucumber in an even strip horizontally across rice, starting 1 inch from side nearest you. (You may need to cut pieces to fit from side to side.) Arrange half of carrot just above cucumber in same manner. Peel avocado half and cut lengthwise into thin slices, then arrange half of slices just above carrot in same manner. Repeat with radish sprouts, letting some sprout tops extend beyond edge.

Beginning with edge nearest you, lift mat up with your thumbs, holding filling in place with your fingers, and fold mat over filling so that upper and lower edges of rice meet, then squeeze gently but firmly along length of roll, tugging edge of mat farthest from you to tighten. (Nori border will still be flat on mat.) Open mat and roll log forward to seal with nori border. (Moisture from rice will seal roll.) Transfer roll, seam side down, to a cutting board. Make second log in same manner, then cut each log crosswise into 6 pieces with a wet thin-bladed knife. Serve with wasabi paste, soy sauce, and ginger.

Active time: 25 min Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr. Read More at: http://www.epicurious.com

Fingernail Health: What’s Hot, What’s Not

 

 

Next time you visit your doctor, ask them to take a look at your nails. Tamara Lior, MD, a dermatologist with Cleveland Clinic Florida says she once convinced a patient to have his lungs checked after noticing a blue tint to his nails. She was sure he had fluid in his lungs and sure enough, the tests proved positive. 

Fingernail appearance can reflect our overall health AND a wide range of medical conditions.   Below are some visual clues to possible problems. Of course, it’s not a certainty, but it’s a good idea to get it checked if you find your nails look exactly like one of these photos.    Keep an eye out for elderly parents and loved ones too.  Brace yourself.  Some of the pics aren’t pretty. 

YOUR FINGERNAILS:  NOT HOT

1. Nail Separation – infection, injury, thyroid disease, psoriasis

2. Clubbing – lung disease, low oxygen in blood, AIDS, liver disease

3. Beau’s Lines – diabetes, congestive heart failure

4. Pitting – psoriasis, connective tissue disorders

5. Yellow Nail Syndrome – chronic bronchitis, lymphedema, respiratory disease

6. Spoon Nailsanemia, iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, heart disease

7. Terry’s Nails – liver disease, diabetes, malnutrition

7 Other Color Change Warning Signs:

  1. White nails – Liver diseases such as hepatitis
  2. Half-white, half-pink nails – Kidney disease
  3. Red nail beds – Heart disease
  4. Pale or white nail beds – Anemia
  5. Dark lines beneath the nail – Melanoma
One of the most common conditions is fingernail fungus, this causes the nails to crack, peel and change color or texture. These infections are often difficult to treat and may require professional help from a dermatologist. Basically, you want to be alert to changes in texture, shape, or color that aren’t due to a bruise or fungal infection.
Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you notice any of the above.

Don’t:

  • Abuse your fingernails. To prevent nail damage, don’t use your fingernails as tools to pick, poke or pry things.
  • Bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your fingernail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection.
  • Pull off hangnails. You might rip live tissue along with the hangnail. Instead, carefully clip off hangnails.
  • Ignore problems. If you have a nail problem that doesn’t seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, consult your doctor or dermatologist for an evaluation.

 YOUR FINGERNAILS:   HOT & HEALTHY

Healthy fingernails are smooth, without pits or grooves. They’re uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Sometimes fingernails develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges tend to become more prominent with age. Fingernails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out.

14 Tips for Strong and Healthy Nails from Reader’s Digest

 1. To keep your nails hydrated, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into your cuticle and the skin surrounding your nails every evening before you go to bed or whenever your nails feel dry. Keep a jar in your purse, desk drawer, car — anywhere you might need it. Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Substitute castor oil. It’s thick and contains vitamin E, which is great for your cuticles. Or head to your kitchen cupboard and grab the olive oil — it also works to moisturize your nails.

2. Wear rubber gloves whenever you do housework or wash dishes. Most household chores, from gardening to scrubbing the bathroom to washing dishes, are murderous on your nails. To protect your digits from dirt and harsh cleaners, cover them with vinyl gloves whenever it’s chore time. And for extra hand softness, apply hand cream before you put on the rubber gloves.

3. When pushing back your cuticles (it is not necessary to cut them) come in at a 45-degree angle and be very gentle. Otherwise the cuticle will become damaged, weakening the entire nail, says Mariana Diaconescu, manicurist at the Pierre Michel Salon in New York City.

4. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. This is particularly important if you have diabetes.

5. Dry your hands for at least two minutes after doing the dishes, taking a bath/shower, etc. Also dry your toes thoroughly after swimming or showering. Leaving them damp increases your risk of fungal infection.

6. Air out your work boots and athletic shoes. Better yet, keep two pairs and switch between them so you’re never putting your feet into damp, sweaty shoes, which could lead to fungal infections.

7. Wear 100 percent cotton socks. They’re best for absorbing dampness, thus preventing fungal infections.

8. Stretch out the beauty of a manicure by applying a fresh top coat every day, says Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Virginia, and author of Hello Beautiful: 365 Ways to Be Even More Beautiful.

9. Make your nails as strong as a horse’s hooves, and take 300 micrograms of the B vitamin biotin four to six times a day. Long ago, veterinarians discovered that biotin strengthened horses’ hooves, which are made from keratin, the same substance in human nails. Swiss researchers found that people who took 2.5 milligrams of biotin a day for 5.5 months had firmer, harder nails. In a U.S. study, 63 percent of people taking biotin for brittle nails experienced an improvement.

10. Add a glass of milk and a hard-boiled egg to your daily diet. Rich in zinc, they’ll do wonders for your nails, especially if your nails are spotted with white, a sign of low zinc intake.

11. File your nails correctly. To keep your nails at their strongest, avoid filing in a back-and-forth motion — only go in one direction. And never file just after you’ve gotten out of a shower or bath — wet nails break more easily.

12. Massage your nails to keep them extra strong and shiny. Nails buffing increases blood supply to the nail, which stimulates the matrix of the nail to grow, says Galvez.

13. Polish your nails, even if it’s just with a clear coat. It protects your nails, says manicurist Diaconescu. If you prefer color, use a base coat, two thin coats of color, and a top coat. Color should last at least seven days but should be removed after 10 days.

14. Avoid polish removers with acetone or formaldehyde. They’re terribly drying to nails, says Andrea Lynn Cambio, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. Use acetate-based removers instead.

 

More Healthy Nail Habits:

  • Keep your nails clean and dry
  • Avoid nail-biting or picking
  • Apply moisturizer to your nails and cuticles every day to help prevent cracking
  • File your nails in one direction straight across and round the tip slightly, rather than filing to a point, trim & file regularly
  • Don’t remove the cuticles or clean too deeply under your nails, which can lead to infection
  • Don’t dig out ingrown toenails. See a dermatologist if they become bothersome
  • Avoid nail polish removers that contain acetone or formaldehyde
  • Bring your own instruments if you get frequent manicures
  • If you have artificial nails, check regularly for green discoloration (a sign of bacterial infection)
  • Eat a balanced diet and take vitamins containing biotin (more information on best foods for your nail  health below)
  • Keep your fingernails dry and clean to prevent bacteria, fungi and other organisms growing under fingernails. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals, and avoid long soaks in tub.
  • Use moisturizer on your hands. Rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too

 

QUESTION: HOW DO I STOP BITING MY NAILS?

ANSWER:

Nail biting may result in the transportation of bacteria buried under the surface of the nail that are hard to clean and easy to get in the mouth. Likewise, broken skin on the cuticle may be susceptible to microbial and viral infections. These pathogens can be spread between digits via saliva. I suggest visiting www.quitnailbiting.com for tips on how to stop.

QUESTION: WHAT FOODS ARE BEST FOR MY NAIL’S HEALTH?

ANSWER: Almonds, peanuts, yogurt, eggs, tomatoes, fresh fruits & vegetables and water. Those foods are great for your nails because they contain biotin. You need 2.5 mg of biotin a day for strong nail health. The worst thing you can do for your hair, nails and skin is starve your body. Good health is feeding yourself nutritious foods daily.

  • Fingernails Diagram

If you have a question that wasn’t answered, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

Stay Healthy!  🙂

SHINE ON: Foods for Healthy, Glowing Skin

Well, I got messages from my last blog saying my face isn’t shiny…it’s GLOWING.  Ha!  Turns out, some health experts agree. 

While Negative Nancys point out how celebs like Gwenyth are too shiny, other articles tell you HOW to get SHINY skin.  I prefer to error on the side of GOOD HEALTH, so shine on! 

Here’s how to nourish your skin from the inside/out:

Foods that make Skin Beautiful & Shiny

Everyone wants to have a beautiful and shiny skin.  A healthy lifestyle i.e. daily exercise, adequate sleep as well as nutritionally-balanced diet helps to get a beautiful skin and improve overall health. Consume a healthy and well-balanced diet that rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains to ensure your skin gets all the nutrients it requires.

Foods that make Skin Beautiful & Shiny

Make Skin Beautiful & Shiny by eating below foods:

Walnuts

For a healthy skin, the best-known essential fatty acids i.e. omega 3 and omega 6 must be in balance. Walnuts are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to make skin smoother and younger looking. Walnuts also provide other health benefits, for example put shine in hair, increase vision properties, and help to build strong bones. To enjoy their benefits, you don’t need to consume cupfuls of walnuts. Just consume handful of walnuts or throw some in your pasta, salad, or dessert.

Green Vegetables

Dark green vegetables are great source of nutrients and antioxidants. They contain potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, β-carotene, iron, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid in good amount. Vitamin A helps in the formation of new cells; thus it keeps the skin, eyes and hair beautiful, shiny and bright. The good content of iron contained in these vegetables can recover iron-deficiency anemia, and make the skin shiny and ruddy.

Garlic

Only a small clove of garlic offers so many health benefits. Garlic has natural blood thinner properties so it improves blood circulation. Also, it is a good source of anti-oxidants which destroy free radicals and prevent premature aging. People having oily and acne prone skin can also get benefit from garlic due to anti-septic properties of it. In many ways garlic can be used to battle beauty problems; however regular intake of fresh garlic can help to prevent the topical use of garlic. Consume a clove of minced or chopped garlic every day to get all the beneficial properties.

Green Tea

In the list of skin-friendly beverages, green tea is on top as it is a storehouse of polyphenols. Green tea is one of the best foods for healthy skin as it protects cells and helps to prevent skin cancer and other skin-related disorders. Whether you take it orally or applied on the skin directly, the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea would surely give you glowing skin. Green tea can decrease the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (the burning rays of the sun), and thus decrease the risk of skin cancer. All these properties of green tea are beneficial to skin health overall.

Ginger

Fresh ginger roots contain volatile oils, phenol compounds which are utilized to treat inflammatory conditions, digestive disorders and many other ailments. For beautiful skin, circulation of blood is very important as when circulation is increased, puffiness is decreased and the blood is better capable to provide skin cells with nutrients/take waste away. Ginger increases blood flow, stimulates skin, and will provide a warming effect when utilized to cleanse skin.

Dark Chocolate

Many people have misconceptions that chocolate is responsible for acne but they are not aware about the fact that chocolate is actually helpful to get beautiful skin. Consumption of dark chocolate keeps the skin hydrated for longtime and protects it from sun damage, which is almost contrary to acne belief. Before you include dark chocolate in your diet, remember that the best type of chocolate has at least 60 percent cacao and high flavanol content.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene, the anti-aging antioxidant. Lycopene present in tomatoes is more easily absorbed by body when it is taken in cooked or processed form. So, ensure to take tomato juice, canned tomato sauce, and ketchup. Besides being an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes are also regarded as a high-carotenoid fruit. One study has found that lycopene-rich tomato paste helps to prevent sunburn when it is combined with olive oil and applied on skin daily for ten weeks.

Avocados

Avocado is a high-fat fruit which contains vitamins A, D, and E in good amount. Also, it is an excellent source of biotin, vitamin H. Due to all these nutrients, avocado offers a natural way to keep skin moisturized. Also, it helps to soften the skin and prevent brittle hair and nails. It also works well topically. Peel the fruit and mash an avocado; apply the mashed flesh on your skin. Let it on skin for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with a cool washcloth. If you are prone to acne, don’t use it on your skin too frequently.

Nutritionist, Lisa Drayer, MA, says the Top 10 Foods for gorgeous skin and hair are:

1.   Blueberries

2.  Wild Salmon

3.  Spinach

4.  Oysters

5.  Tomatoes

6.  Walnuts

7.   Kiwis

8.  Dark Chocolate

9.  Yogurt

10.  Sweet Potatoes

Fortunately, those are all favorites of mine and you can add my favorite snack to the list as a bonus.  Almonds are a super food for super skin.  Love it.

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An Overview of Your Skin from The Cleveland Clinic:

The basics

Skin is the largest organ on our body, made up of several different components, including water, protein, lipids and different minerals and chemicals. It takes a lot to protect you, too: just about six pounds (that’s roughly how much your skin would weigh by itself). Throughout your life your skin will change, for better or worse. In fact, your skin will regenerate itself approximately every 27 days. Proper care and treatment is essential to maintaining the health and vitality of this crucial protection.

What your skin demands daily

It’s easy to skip that glass of water during the haste of your daily routines or to cleanse yourself. But over time, those bad habits can take a toll on your skin. Each day you should make certain to provide your skin with

  • Plenty of water.
  • Thorough cleansing – You should perform this twice daily. At night, make sure you remove all your make-up and cleanse properly before going to bed.
  • Balanced nutrition.
  • Toning – that is, after you cleanse with your bar soap or other cleanser, make sure you use a formulated toner or astringent to remove fine traces of oil, dirt, and make-up that you may have missed when cleansing.
  • Moisturizing – this is a necessary step even for those who have oily skin. There are plenty of moisturizers on the market that are oil-free.

Over the course of your life, you should pay attention to all parts of your skin. Familiarize yourself with it, so you’ll notice any changes that might occur, such as different moles or patches that might require further attention.

This information serves as an overview only, and should not replace a professional’s advice.

The skin’s structure

Epidermis: The outer layer

It’s the thinnest layer, but it’s responsible for protecting you from the harsh environment, with five layers of its own: stratum germinativum, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum. The epidermis also hosts different types of cells: keratinocytes, melanocytes and Langerhans cells. Keratinocytes produce the protein known as keratin, the main component of the epidermis. Melanocytes produce your skin pigment, known as melanin. Langerhans cells prevent things from getting into your skin!

Dermis: The middle layer

This is the layer responsible for wrinkles. The dermis is a complex combination of blood vessels, hair follicles, and sebaceous (oil) glands. Here, you’ll find collagen and elastin, two proteins necessary for skin health because they offer support and elasticity. Fibroblasts are the cells you’ll find in this layer, because they synthesize collagen and elastin. This layer also contains pain and touch receptors.

Hypodermis: The fatty layer

Reduction of tissue in this layer is what contributes to sagging skin. This layer is also known as the subcutis. It hosts sweat glands, and fat and collagen cells, and is responsible for conserving your body’s heat and protecting your vital inner organs.

The skin’s proteins

Collagen:

It’s the most abundant protein in the skin, making up 75 percent of your skin. This is also your fountain of youth, for it’s responsible for warding off wrinkles and fine lines. Over time, environmental factors and aging diminish your body’s ability to produce collagen.

Elastin:

Think elastic. This protein is found with collagen in the dermis.

It’s another protein, responsible for giving structure to your skin and organs. As with collagen, elastin is affected by time and the elements. Diminished levels of this protein cause your skin to wrinkle and sag.

Keratin:

This dominant protein in your skin makes up hair, nails and the surface layer of the skin. Keratin is what forms the rigidity of your skin.

Can’t find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

More Skin care Tips from THE MAYO CLINIC:

Good skin care — including sun protection and gentle cleansing — can keep your skin healthy and glowing for years to come.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Don’t have time for intensive skin care? Pamper yourself with the basics. Good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems. Get started with these five no-nonsense tips.

1. Protect yourself from the sun

One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems — as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.

For the most complete sun protection:

  • Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. When you’re outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.
  • Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also consider laundry additives, which give clothing an additional layer of ultraviolet protection for a certain number of washings, or special sun-protective clothing — which is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays.

2. Don’t smoke

Smoking makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — can contribute to wrinkles.

If you smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit. Ask your doctor for tips or treatments to help you stop smoking.

3. Treat your skin gently

Daily cleansing and shaving can take a toll on your skin. To keep it gentle:

  • Limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time, and use warm — rather than hot — water.
  • Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps and detergents can strip oil from your skin. Instead, choose mild cleansers.
  • Shave carefully. To protect and lubricate your skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. For the closest shave, use a clean, sharp razor. Shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it.
  • Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin.
  • Moisturize dry skin. If your skin is dry, use a moisturizer that fits your skin type. For daily use, consider a moisturizer that contains SPF.

4. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet can help you look and feel your best. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. The association between diet and acne isn’t clear — but some research suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates might promote younger looking skin.

5. Manage stress

Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive and trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems. To encourage healthy skin — and a healthy state of mind — take steps to manage your stress. Set reasonable limits, scale back your to-do list and make time to do the things you enjoy. The results might be more dramatic than you expect.

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