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Archive for December, 2012

It is that time of year again (groan!). Welcome to the cold and flu season. Your first inclination may be to head to the closest drugstore and stock up on tissues and cold medication. If you dread the thought of a runny or stuffed up nose, sneezing, sinus congestion, a headache, the chills and a dry scratchy throat, be proactive.

How can you accomplish that? Get regular physical activity (even walks will fit the fitness bill in the fall and winter months) and improve the work of your overworked immune system by paying attention to your nutrition.

Here’s how:

One – Think healthy protein:

One of the many tasks of protein is to improve the body’s ability to produce antibodies that fight diseases and infections. Choose high-protein foods that are also are made up of healthy fats. Examples of these include ground turkey breast, white-meat chicken, beans, fish, nuts, tofu and non-fat dairy. Stay away from fatty red meats and dairy foods that are high in their fat content. These foods promote inflammation around the heart and should be avoided.

Two – Enjoy a cup of black tea:

To improve your body’s ability to fight viruses, drink more black tea. Those who consume five cups (approximately three mugs) of black tea on a daily basis, produce 10 times more “virus-fighting interferon” than those individuals who drink coffee.

Three – Add some color to your diet:

Fruits and vegetables come in every color of the rainbow- well practically! Load up on as many colors as you can. Bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries and tomatoes are all excellent sources of vitamin C and flavonoids. These essential substances support the body in sending out protective immune cells. You need these foods so eat up as often as possible!

Four – Choose cereals that are 100 percent whole-grain:

Oatmeal and shredded wheat are two whole-grain cereals that are rich in the nutrients beta glucan, selenium and zinc. These three nutrients are particularly beneficial in the winter months because they enhance the work of the immune system.

Five – Fight illness with spiced up chicken soup:

Even with the best efforts, it is still possible to catch something during the cold and flu season. If you do come down with something, turn to the old standby, chicken soup. Chicken soup has the potential to shorten the duration of your illness by as much as 50 percent.

There have been many theories proposed as to why this may be the case. One of the theories has to do with an amino acid called cysteine.  When chicken is cooked, it releases this amino acid, which is chemically similar to a drug for bronchitis called acetylcysteine.

To enhance chicken soup’s power to fight the flu and a cold, add some garlic and hot red pepper to your soup. Garlic is excellent at fighting viruses while hot red pepper contains capsaicin, which is a very strong decongestant. Chicken soup with a little dill weed added to it can also do your infection a world of good.

Stay well!

Becca

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You need to feed your face with healthy foods to keep it looking its best. The outside of your body and face reflects what is taking place on the inside. You cannot eat junk food and fast food all of the time and expect your skin to be soft, glowing and youthful. Make some changes in your food choices now and your skin will reflect the healthy way that you are eating.

A complexion that is dull and dry will be lackluster and signals that you are not eating as well as you could be. The good news is that it is never too late to turn things around.   Show the world your best face by improving your diet ASAP.

Include these foods in your meal planning and get ready to show that glow!

Avocados:

Avocados are a green, smooth tasting fruit that is creamy and so good for the skin. This fruit is high in essential oils and B-complex vitamins. Avocados nourish your skin from the inside out.

Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) is important for smooth and supple skin. It contains anti-inflammatory properties that sooth irritated and red skin. Enjoy avocados to eat but you can also smash them up and apply them to your face for a mask that will leave your skin looking lovely!

Mangoes:

This fruit is high in vitamin A and it has lots of it in it. This is an excellent face food. A deficiency in vitamin A will cause your skin to be flaky and dry.  This vitamin fights free radical damage that threatens to destroy the skin and it also repairs skin cells.

Almonds:

As far as almonds go, they go nuts for your complexion! Almonds are high in vitamin E and that is good news for your skin. Vitamin E contains oils that moisturize dry skin. Its antioxidant properties slow the aging process and protect skin from damage.

Cottage Cheese:

So maybe you don’t really like the look of it and maybe it is not your favorite type of cheese, but cottage choose is very nurturing for your skin. It is rich in the mineral calcium which makes for strong, healthy bones. But it is the mineral selenium found in cottage cheese that makes these white creamy curds a winner for your complexion.

As a face saving food, cottage cheese is a winner! Cottage cheese pairs up selenium with vitamin E. This antioxidant team is practically unstoppable when it comes to fending off free radicals. Not only that, but they protect the skin against cancer and they fight dandruff in your hair.

Oysters:

They may be a means of dialing up the libido, but oysters are so much more than that. Your skin will fall in love with them because they will be so good to it! Oysters are rich in zinc which means that they affect the production of sebum which can lead to acne and eruptions of the skin. Zinc, when teamed with vitamin E helps to boost the production of elastin (which is the elastic protein found in the skin).

Baked Potatoes:

Set aside the fries from McDonald’s and get yourself home and enjoy a baked potato instead. Your skin will thank you 10 times over.  One baked potato with the skin on it will provide you with 75 percent of your daily requirement for the mineral copper.

Baked potatoes also contain vitamin C and zinc. All of these important elements of health produce the elastic fibers that support the healthy structure of the skin.

When you do not take in enough copper, your skin can take on a lifeless and rigid appearance. It also hampers your skin’s ability to heal itself rapidly.

Be good to your skin and help it to look its best and be its best by feeding it right!

Samantha

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If you feel a terrible pain tear through your heel when you place your foot on the floor and begin to walk around, you may have developed a bone spur in your heel. This is a medical condition that can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort if left untreated. Let’s talk about it.

What is a Bone Spur?

A bone spur, also known as an osteophyte, is a bony projection that develops around the joints. It is a calcium growth on a bone that causes pressure on the tissue that surrounds it, as well as on the skin that is found beneath the tissue. Bone spurs are most often found on the feet, such as heel bone spurs, but bone spurs in the neck region are also common, as are those that form along the spine.

A Look at Bone Spurs:

Bone spurs form where they do as a result of the increase of pressure on the surface area of a joint. A bone spur, whether it be a foot spur or whether it be elsewhere on the body, can cause a great deal of pain to the person who suffers from it. Joint movement may be limited in some individuals who suffer from this condition.

Bone spurs are very common and affect a tremendous amount of people across the globe on an annual basis. The heel spur is the most common of all bone spurs and is associated with a great deal of pain. The reason for this is because you must walk on your feet and therefore the entire weight of your body comes down on your heels. The heel bone will be very sore and uncomfortable every time you put pressure on it.

Heel spurs are most often found in heavier people, including women who are pregnant.

However, anyone regardless of their weight can develop a bone spur. Athletes are also very prone to spurs, due to the nature of their work.

Bone Spur Treatment:

The best thing to do about a spur is to find effective means of treating it and ways to alleviate the pain of having it. While corrective surgery may be performed in extreme cases, most of the time this is not necessary.

The best temporary treatment for a bone spur in the foot is to stay off of it as much as you can. You will only irritate it further by continuing to exert pressure on it. Rest your foot as much as you can.

Applying an ice pack to the affected area can also provide relief. Ice can be used for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for the first 48 hours. After that you should turn to heat. Apply warm moist towels or a heating pad to the affected area. This helps to increase blood flow and also encourages the drainage of the lymphatic system. Both will help to facilitate the healing process.

If the pain is too much to bear, an over-the-counter painkiller and anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen should bring you some much needed relief. Buy a felt or foam heel pad to place inside your shoe to absorb the shock when you are walking.  Insoles can help to cushion the foot and make walking less uncomfortable.

Your physician may recommend injections for you, special orthotics or physiotherapy sessions. He might also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication for you and suggest that you lose weight. Talk with him about the treatments that are best for the spur (or spurs) that you have.

Becca

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If you have been to your doctor and received a diagnosis of an infection called thrush, you want to learn as much as you can about this medical problem. Don’t worry; it is easy to get rid of. Here we cover the most important aspects of what you need to know about thrush.

What is Thrush?

Thrush is an infection that develops in the mouth. It is caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans. Thrush is a type of yeast infection. This infection can appear in other places on the human body besides the mouth. For instance, it is responsible for causing vaginal yeast infections in women and it can also bring about diaper rash in infants.

Thrush can affect people of all ages and is not limited to just one age group. It is also common in those who have compromised immune systems.

The Causes of Thrush:

Yeast is naturally occurring throughout the human body and it has its advantages. There are small amounts of Candida Albicans yeast to be found on the skin, in the mouth, in the vagina and in the digestive tract of healthy individuals. The yeast is kept in check by good bacteria and microorganisms in the body. There are times however when there is an imbalance of yeast, which can lead to the development of an infection. Too much of it can cause the level of bad bacteria to increase and to overwhelm the level of good bacteria.

Medications, certain kinds of illnesses and stress have the potential to upset the balance of yeast and can cause this fungus to start to grow. If left to its own devices, Candida can start to wreak havoc on the part of the body where it is growing. Thrush will be the result.

There are several types of medications that have the potential to upset the balance of healthy bacteria that live in the mouth and may give way to thrush. These include birth control pills, antibiotics and corticosteroids. There are some illnesses and health conditions that can also increase a person’s chances of developing it. Examples of these include cancer, dry mouth, HIV infection and diabetes that are not under control.

Pregnant women are also at a greater risk because of the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy. Smokers are at a higher risk as are people who wear poor fitting dentures. If an infant has developed the infection, it is very possible for him or her to transfer it to the mother as a result of breast feeding.

The symptoms of thrush tend to vary from person to person. They can range from mild to moderate to severe. The symptoms may be worse for those with weakened immune systems. Treatment generally consists of anti-fungal medications that are most often taken for 10 to 14 days. Your doctor will help you to decide which medication is best for you.

Medication can kill off the bad bacteria, but also some of the good bacteria as well. To rebuild your arsenal of good bacteria (your protectors), take a probiotic supplement. It would also be a good idea to consume more yogurt because it contains live bacterial cultures. Stay away from the brands of yogurt that are high in sugar or are sweeten with sucralose.

Samantha

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Do you think you could be pregnant? Excited at the thought?! If you already have a child, you know what to expect in terms of the early signs. However, if this is your first time, you may not know what to look for. Here we look at those early signs and symptoms.

If you want to have a baby and are trying to make that happen, you need to pay attention to your body. There are a number of early pregnancy signs that will signal that a baby is on the way for you!

Early Signs:

Some women experience some of the early signs of pregnancy while others may experience one or two, or in some instances, none at all. If you come to the time in the month when your period usually starts and it doesn’t, this is an early sign. If a few days go by and then a week and still nothing, you can officially say that you have missed a period and it could be pregnancy-related.

Be aware that some women experience vaginal spotting, known as implantation bleeding, when the embryo is in the process of attaching itself to the wall of the uterus. New blood vessels are forming at this time to provide the baby with what it will require during the gestation period.

Some women find themselves having to urinate more frequently once they become pregnant. This occurs as a result of the change in hormone levels. The uterus also gets bigger at this time and it can push against the bladder causing you to have to make more trips to the washroom!

More Early Signs:

The breasts sometimes offer early signs that pregnancy has occurred. They can be swollen and tender to the touch. They may throb or tingle and can be painful for some women. Both the nipples and the area around them, known as the areola, can become darker in color and can take on a broader appearance. This is happening because the milk glands are beginning to form in preparation for feeding the infant.

If you notice that the blood vessels in your breasts are becoming more obvious to the eye, this is a good sign that you are indeed pregnant. This takes place because there is increased blood supply as the body is readying you, an expectant mother, for the ability to breastfeed your newborn once he or she comes into the world.

Unexplained fatigue can also be an early sign of pregnancy as can having an upset or queasy stomach. Your body is changing and it is preparing you for what is to come over the next nine months.

If you sense that you may be pregnant, you should go to the store and purchase a home pregnancy test as soon as possible. If the result is positive, make an appointment with your doctor right away. There is a new life inside of you to prepare for!

Samantha

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