Archive for Health
We all experience pain from time to time, and it is never pleasant. But, if you have a condition where pain is a regular part of life, whether you suffer from an injury that never quite healed well, or you have a condition such as fibromyalgia, your quality of life can suffer greatly. Dealing with this problem can cause mental health issues, such as increased anxiety or depression. Whether you are hoping to complement standard treatments or go the natural route 100 percent, there are some strategies that may help alleviate your pain, or at the very least, cope with it more successfully.
When it comes to chronic pain, we may not think much of the foods we eat, but your diet may play a role by triggering the production of chemicals and other substances that can contribute to pain. High insulin levels may worsen pain, for example, so cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates may help. These foods also cause the body to produce more inflammation, which can exacerbate pain. Some people report their pain was reduced when they eliminated nightshade vegetables from their diet, such as potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Eat inflammation-fighting healthy fats, like those found in salmon and flaxseed. The artificial sweetener aspartame has been linked to increasing sensitivity to pain. Food additives such as MSG may stimulate pain receptors. Food allergies can also cause symptoms such as pain, and you might want to experiment with eliminating common allergens such as gluten, eggs and dairy. Limit oils high in omega-6 fatty acids—high amounts can trigger inflammation. Focus on whole, fresh foods; boring advice yes, but it will be your best bet.
There are many herbal supplements that may help manage pain. While it, and other forms of the herb ,have gotten a bad rap from irresponsible use, maeng da kratom, has been used for centuries to treat pain and other ailments, such as anxiety and depression—it activates the same receptors in the brain as prescription opioid pain killers. You can learn about kratom effects here and how to use it properly. Bromelain, ginger and turmeric are known for their pain-fighting anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil may also work well because it can give you a nice, concentrated dose of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to chronic pain and supplementing may help. Other potential helpful supplements include SAMe, magnesium and acetyl-l carnitine.
Meditation can be a powerful tool in your pain-fighting arsenal. Many studies have found that people with pain conditions who meditated reported improvements on various fronts. One of the most interesting findings is that they were able to change their perception of the pain and reduce their suffering, even if they still felt it. Meditation produced changes in the brain that cause the person to shift focus from the pain, and not automatically focus on the negative sensations rather than other ones. One study that was published in 2013 also found that meditation seemed to help feelings of depression in people with chronic pain conditions.
About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who is passionate about alternative medicine and natural approaches to wellness.
Inflammation actually serves an important purpose in the body—it puts the immune system on alert that something is amiss and it can get to work rectifying the problem. But, when inflammation is chronic, it can cause a host of problems, from worsening arthritis to more systemic damage that can lay the foundation for serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease. While you cannot eliminate inflammation completely, there are several ways to reduce it, with diet being one of the most powerful tools—a tool you can wield complete control over. Here are some tips for easing inflammation through your diet.
Carbs, Carbs, Carbs
Over the last few decades, our war on fat has led to a dramatic increase in carbohydrate consumption, and for the most part, not the good kinds like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. More like heavily refined and sugar-laden ones. Eating ‘’bad carbs’’ in large quantities is a major contributor to inflammation; the dramatic spike in insulin that results after eating these foods sets in motion a cascade of internal events that trigger the production of inflammatory chemicals. Foods to limit are really no big mystery— watch the white-flour foods, all the refined foods and all the sugary treats and drinks. Focus on whole grains instead. You also want to watch your intake of starchy carbs like potatoes since they are very high in carbohydrates as well.
Good Fat, Bad Fat
Fat has gotten a bad rep over the years, but in recent times, we are beginning to discover the significant benefits offered by ‘’healthy fats.’’ They are good for our heart, and omega-3’s specifically may be good for addressing brain-related issues, such as ADHD or depression. One of the key benefits of healthy fat is their ability to reduce inflammation. This is particularly true of omega-3 fatty acids, which our body uses to create anti-inflammatory chemicals. You can find them in coldwater fish such as salmon. Non-fish sources include walnuts, hemp seed and flax seed. Nowadays, you can also find many different types of foods fortified with these fats. Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, olives and avocados are also an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
When it comes to cooking oils, curb intake of those rich in omega-6 fatty acids—while these fats offer health benefits, they contribute to inflammation when eaten frequently, which is the case in the typical American diet. Examples include soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
Eating foods rich in antioxidants has been linked to a host of health benefits, such as reduced risk of cancer. These powerful little substances help the body fight off at a cellular level. The best sources are fruits and vegetables, particularly berries, red grapes, cherries, kale, spinach, broccoli and peppers. To gain the full benefit, eat a variety of colors. You can also drink beverages rich in antioxidants and other inflammation-fighting chemicals, such as parsley tea and chamomile tea. Antioxidants are also widely available in supplement form, but it would behoove you to get most of them from your diet.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things health and nutrition.
About 80 percent of teenagers and a whopping 40 percent of adults suffer from acne—so much for it being simply a problem in the teen years! For many people, conventional treatments leave much to be desired; others may not have an interest in using chemical-laden topical treatments and pharmaceuticals. Natural approaches can help get at the root causes of the problem and correct internal imbalances that manifest as acne. But, it is important to remember that natural strategies can take time, so you must be patient and diligent in applying them. And, just like conventional treatments, not every treatment may work for every person, so you might need to do a little bit of experimenting.
Stress does all sorts of nasty things to our body and is a major factor in the development of a host of diseases. If you are under large amounts of stress and acne is a problem for you, finding ways to naturally reduce it may be a worthwhile use of your time. Several studies, such as one examining students in Singapore found that during periods of high stress, participants experienced significantly more breakouts compared to periods of low stress.
The statistically significant results made a strong case for stress as a trigger for acne outbreaks. Researchers theorized that stress somehow increased oil production in the skin, but found oil levels were similar in high and low stress periods; which led them to believe that as-of-yet-unknown factors appear to link stress and acne severity. There are plenty of natural techniques that can help reduce stress, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, journaling and exercise.
In the East, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years to address myriad physical and mental health issues. A growing interest in the West has paved the way for numerous studies examining the effectiveness of this ancient practice, and researchers are finding that it does appear to improve a host of health problems. If you are suffering from acne, this may be one natural treatment modality to experiment with. From an acupuncture standpoint, acne results from excess build up of heat, dampness and toxins—all of which may accumulate due to poor diet, hormonal imbalance and emotional disturbances. By stimulating certain points on the body, the body can releases this excess and restore balance.
Research, such as a 2010 study published in Acupuncture in Medicine, found that 12 acupuncture treatments over a period of six weeks resulted in a significant reduction in inflammatory acne lesions. Acupuncturists will also often prescribe herbal remedies and suggest other natural skincare remedies; dietary and other lifestyle changes will also come into play. To get the most out of sessions, it is important to follow the practitioner’s entire treatment plan or it may take longer to achieve desired results.
There are many natural supplements that may help treat acne in a variety of ways; you may find that many commercial oral skin care products have been formulated with these specific nutrients and herbs. The mineral zinc appears to work in a similar fashion as certain antibiotics prescribed to treat acne and may be a good option for those who cannot take these drugs or who have developed a resistance to them. Like antibiotics, zinc can fight off the bacteria that contribute to acne, as well as ease inflammation. The Indian herb guggul has been shown to be an effective treatment for cystic acne in some studies, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin A is very important for skin health, but you must supplement with caution as high levels of fat-soluble vitamins can be toxic.
There are also some topical treatments made from natural substances that may be beneficial. Tea tree oil, for example, may work as well as benzoyl peroxide, but without the side effects common with the latter such as redness, dryness and irritation. Topical niancinamide, or vitamin B3 has also been found to be beneficial.
When using natural supplements, it is important to remember that they can affect the body much in the same way medicine can—this means they may not be appropriate to use if you suffer from certain health conditions or have certain medical problems; taking too much can be a bad thing. Educate yourself before you begin using them.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about all things skincare, especially ways to treat skin problems naturally.
Doctors play a primary role throughout our lives but how many of us actually choose our doctor with the attention that it requires? Most of the time, we tend to pick one out of a lineup of potential physicians without taking the time to really find out whether or not that doctor will be able to meet our healthcare needs. However, it is important to carefully consider these five items as you select the physician who will care for you. Even if you think you do not really need a doctor, it is always important to have one just in case.
1 – Sources
When it comes to choosing a doctor the best place to start is with your friends and family. Selecting a doctor’s name out of the book that your insurance provider gives you can be risky since you have no way of knowing what kind of personality that doctor has, whether they are efficient at what they do, and if they are fully qualified. You need more information than just a simple name and your friends and family can give you that. They can tell you who they use as their primary doctor and what their experiences have been.
2 – Perform a test run
Often, a doctor’s staff reflects how professional and caring they are so it can be worth your time to simply call and speak to the people running the office. Doctors who are less than caring tend to have staff that are abrupt and even downright rude, treating you more like a number than as an individual. On the other hand, a staff member that listens to you, is polite, and friendly can be a good sign that the doctor is the same way.
3 – Credential verification
While checking out a doctor’s staff and talking to people that you know can be extremely helpful in finding a good doctor, you should also do some research and verify that doctor’s credentials. I am not talking about calling their medical school but you should take some time to find out the name of the hospital at which they did their residency. Young medical school graduates are greatly influenced by the older doctors they practice medicine with and, if the hospital has a less than sterling reputation, you may want to practice a little bit of caution before choosing that doctor.
4 – Interview the candidates
Selecting a primary care physician should be done in the same way that a person chooses an employee. You never want to focus on just one doctor. Instead, try to put together a list of potential candidates and then meet with those doctors in person. During the initial meeting try to keep in mind the following questions:
- Do I feel comfortable with this doctor?
- Would I be willing to contact this doctor with any health concerns or questions I might have, regardless of how personal?
- Does this doctor have the experience I am looking for to provide my care?
- Will this doctor listen to me or does he/she assume that I don’t know anything?
- Does the doctor practice only straight medicine or do they use a combination of holistic and traditional medicine practices?
- Would I trust this doctor with my life?
- Do I believe that this doctor will be upfront and honest with me?
If your answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to examine that doctor further or find a few more doctors to look at.
5 – Narrowing it down
Once you have a solid selection of physicians for the job, then it is time to narrow down the list and the best way to do this is to look at the doctor’s personality. You may not think this is very important but, in fact, it is crucial in developing a relationship with that doctor. To be able to be honest and know that the doctor will give you the best care, it is important to establish a good relationship that involves communication and trust. You simply can’t hand over that trust to a stranger but you can hand it over to someone with whom you can relate and someone that you get along with extremely well.
Taking into account these five elements is essential in selecting a primary care physician today. In this manner you approach the matter in a thoughtful and analytical way that ensures you will have access to the best care when it is needed.
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At the core of successful weight loss lies the right decisions when it comes to what you eat and how often you engage in physical activity; sounds easy enough but given the struggles that many of us face in this battle, it clearly poses challenges. We have a lot of bad habits and self-defeating behaviors to overcome, not to mention general laziness. As someone who has recently experienced fluctuations in weight and managed to keep them at bay, I would like to share some tips that have worked personally for me in achieving a healthy weight without taking to drastic measures.
Get Stress under Control
Stress is a part of life and we probably cannot fully eliminate it– unless we decide to withdraw from the world completely and chances are, that is not something you are looking to do. So, if it is something we are going to have to contend with, it is imperative to find ways to manage it better so that it does not destroy our efforts at living a healthier life. Stress will mess with your weight loss goals in a few different ways. First off, it will actually produce physical changes in your body that can impact your weight, such as the release of stress hormones. Secondly, it puts us in a negative state of mind where we will not care as much about our health and we will make bad choices on a consistent basis that will keep us achieving our goal; feeling good is paramount to wanting to feel even better. Thirdly, stress is a major trigger for emotional eating, which is something we all do at times; but, when it becomes a primary stress response, you will never lose weight since you will probably be engaging in it quite often.
So, the first important step is finding ways to get stress under control. Meditation is my go-to and I highly recommend it since it not only reduces stress, it produces other changes that lend themselves to successful weight loss, such as increased awareness of food choices and responding to your body’s hunger cues more effectively; it will also help you realize the fleeing nature of your thoughts and feelings, which will allow you to sit with discomfort more readily without feeling the need to do something (like eating) to make it go away as quickly as possible. But, anything that makes you feel better will work, whether it is a hobby or visiting a certain location.
If you have struggled with poor eating habits all your life, and you expect to move right to the other end of the spectrum where you will never touch sugar or a refined carbohydrate again, you are setting yourself up for failure, eating binges and a unhealthy relationship with food. I must say that I eat a pretty healthy diet; I am a vegetarian and I actually look forward to eating things like tempeh. But, I also like spinach raviolis with creamy tomato sauce and brownies; I definitely eat the former much more often, but I do not kid myself into thinking that I will ever totally give up the latter. A lot of times, we simply eat things because they taste really good and they may not be the healthiest foods, but they are not exactly poison either.
You can still enjoy foods like this and lose weight and it is possible to integrate them into your diet without totally derailing your weight loss efforts. Eating a brownie once in a while is okay as is going out to eat and getting a delicious, gooey Italian meal. Often times, we will eat something like this, feel guilty and go on a food bender thinking that we will not be able to lose weight anyway, but nothing is further from the truth. We just need to make the healthy choices most of the time and by not depriving yourself of the good stuff once in awhile, it will be much easier to develop long-term healthy eating habits. Remember, you are thinking long-term here; you are looking to develop a healthy lifestyle that will carry you through the years, not looking to drop a few quick pounds for your cousin’s wedding.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has a passion for healthy living; if you are in need of a personal trainer in the Phoenix area, check out this Chandler personal training for more information.