Laughing for Health? Laugh Harder and Live Longer!

Photo credit: Eric Ward from Provo, UT, USA (Laughing) [CC BY-SA 2.0]

There is a reason why laughter is considered to be the best medicine. When you are laughing, you are not just amused by a joke or a funny situation; you are actually laughing for health benefits. There are several important benefits of laughter. Laughter reduces stress and relaxes the whole body. A hearty laughter can keep the body calm for as long as 45 minutes, as it is extremely conducive to the overall development of the immune system. It also helps the body to generate infection-fighting antibodies by reducing the level of stress hormones and improving resistance to diseases. Laughing for health is the best way to keep medicines and chemical drugs at bay. You wouldn’t need any other drug to make you feel good, as laughter has its own high. Laughing reduces stress and triggers endorphins that make us feel good about ourselves and render us generally perky. By laughing hard, you are actually improving your blood flow and fending off cardiovascular diseases.

Healthy Body, Sound Mind

Health is not just what the physical body reflects. An overall healthy body entails a healthy mind and favorable interaction in society. Laughter is believed to be a panacea for every biological, mental and social condition. If you are laughing for health, you are also securing your social bonds. Laughing with other people is a great way of bonding and sharing happy thoughts. Isn’t that everything we need to lead a healthy life? Besides, it improves your mood and develops the body’s and the mind’s resilience towards adverse conditions.

Generating Laughter

Unfortunately, in today’s world, laughter has to be generated in laughing clubs and other therapeutic centers. People visit these places and forcefully laugh to enhance their biological processes. This practice can be extremely therapeutic, but it is essentially very sad. Laughing for health has become a prescribed medication as more and more people are falling prey to sedentary and depressing urban lifestyles. The best way to laugh is with your friends and family. If you don’t know how to get your kicks, start watching your favorite sitcom or read a comic book. The serious dearth of laughter in urban places has triggered a number of stand-up comedy cafes and laughter shows. You should not have to look for a reason to laugh, just do it. Laughter is highly contagious and can make a huge difference in your daily life. Laugh to live.

 

 

Are You Suffering From Brain Fog?

Photo credit: Shannan Muskopf [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Almost everyone experiences brain fog from time to time. So, what exactly is brain fog? It’s a condition where you feel a general lack of mental clarity. You may feel forgetful, confused, or have trouble concentrating. Brain fog can be caused by a range of factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, stress, sleep disorders, or environmental toxins. Once you understand why you are suffering from brain fog, you can then take proactive steps to fix it.

Here are 5 possible reasons you are suffering from brain fog –

 

Poor Nutrition

Eating a diet filled with highly processed foods, aka junk foods, will leave you feeling foggy. There isn’t much, if any, nutrition left in these foods after they’ve been stripped of their natural state, taking this and that out and adding in more chemicals than we can count to come up with something that will stay on the shelf indefinitely.

You know when you put bad gas in your car how it makes your car sputter, cut out and just run poorly. Well, think of highly processed foods as bad fuel for your body.

Get more fresh whole foods into your diet to combat brain fog. Eat organic as often as possible and fill your body with the goodness that comes from real food.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Leading a life without much movement can be a cause of brain fog, because your brain isn’t getting what it needs to be sharp and alert.

Your brain needs oxygen and vital nutrients, which is carried to it through the blood stream. If you don’t get your blood pumping to increase blood flow through exercise, your brain is lacking the very things it needs to do its job properly. Exercise improves brain function, so get off the couch. Even a quick 10-minute walk will go a long way towards improving your brain power.

Toxic Buildup

Our bodies can get polluted from chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. If you don’t eat healthy and get some exercise, these toxins can build up, causing your body – and your brain – to function at sub-optimal levels.

Detoxifying can be an unpleasant experience the first time because we’re stirring up all the crud that has built up over our lifetime. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes and you will feel the effects of having a cleaner body and a clearer mind.

Stress

If you’re under a lot of stress on a regular basis, this can lead to physical and mental problems. Stress elevates a hormone in your body called cortisol that causes inflammation in your brain and body. Chronic inflammation can cause a host of issues including fatigue, damaged brain cells, depression, weight gain and glucose imbalance.

You need to have an outlet for your stress. Adding an exercise regimen will help you to not only feel better by releasing endorphins in your brain which cause you to feel good, it can even help you shed unwanted weight. You can also choose to pamper yourself by taking a hot bath, getting a massage, meditating or trying yoga.

Dehydration

If you don’t consume enough water, you may suffer from dehydration. Water helps flush the waste and toxins out of your body that can accumulate in your intestinal tract.

You should consume at minimum a half gallon of water per day. An easy way to incorporate more water into your day is to drink a full glass upon rising and another before each meal.

If you find yourself feeling foggy on a regular basis, chances are good you’re suffering from one or all of these issues. Get some exercise, eat better, drink lots of water and release your stress, and you’ll feel sharper in no time.

 

 

4 Great Reasons Why You Should Be Using Coconut Oil

Photo credit: Tom Woodward CC BY-SA 2.0

There is a widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains saturated fat. However, people all over the world are reaping the health benefits of coconut oil, and it’s truly one of the healthiest oils you can consume. Here are 4 reasons why you should use coconut oil as an alternative to other traditional cooking oils.

1.  Coconut oil boosts your metabolism.

Not only is coconut oil easily converted to energy by your body, it also increases your metabolism and promotes weight loss. Because it boosts your metabolism, it helps your body burn fat more effectively.

Coconut oil may triple your calorie burn. Since coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT), it is converted to energy so quickly that it creates a lot of heat. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, MCT’s burn three times more calories for six hours after a meal than LCT’s.

The February 15, 2005 issue of Woman’s World magazine stated that coconut oil is the “underground high-metabolism secret.”

This is great news for people who have thyroid problems, since coconut oil improves sluggish thyroids by stimulating the production of extra thyroid hormones. Most other common oils, like vegetable (soy) and corn have been shown to inhibit thyroid function.

2.  Coconut oil can improve skin and hair health

Coconut oil one of the best things you can apply directly on your skin and hair, as it helps to alleviate skin problems such as rashes, dry skin and eczema. You can also use this oil to help heal and restore skin to a younger appearance, or even use it as a makeup remover.

Not only does it soften and smooth your skin, coconut oil has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage. Coconut oil makes excellent massage oil, too.

3.  Coconut oil vs. other oils

Coconut oil has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects when both consumed and used topically on the skin.

Most oils oxidize and turn rancid very quickly causing free radical damage in our bodies. Coconut oil is not easily oxidized and does not cause harmful free radical damage like polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Free radical damage is thought to be responsible for many ailments in our body from arthritis to increased susceptibility to cancers.

Coconut oil also helps our bodies absorb other nutrients more effectively, such as the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K.

4.  Coconut oil is one of the best oils you can use for cooking.

Coconut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means it can take higher temperatures better. There are several healthy omega-3 oils we can choose to consume, such as flax and olive oil, but they don’t do well under the high heat we use for cooking. Therefore, coconut oil is really the best choice when cooking at higher temperatures.

It’s harder for coconut oil to go rancid, unlike other cooking oils, which are usually rancid long before you even bring them home. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is stable for over a year at room temperature.

I’ve only mentioned four reasons why you should be using coconut oil, but there are many additional uses and health benefits. So, go ahead and blend a little coconut oil into your favorite smoothie, or add it to bitter greens like kale. It also makes a nutritious addition to oatmeal or your favorite baked veggie recipes. Be as creative as you want and enjoy the incredible health benefits of this tropical oil.

 

4 Healthy Habits to Help Manage Stress and Maintain Calm

Photo credit: Public Domain

Stress, especially chronic stress, is an unhealthy disadvantage of living in this fast-paced, 24/7 world. We get so caught up in work, family, children’s activities, grocery store runs, and keeping the household running smoothly that we end up creating a daily routine of unhealthy habits. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. We have the ability to make better choices, beat the stress, and a live a life that allows us to breath and enjoy each minute. What are some healthy habits we can pick up that will help maintain a sense of calm and keep stress levels in check?

Get more sleep – This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many people don’t allow themselves a good night’s sleep. If you deprive yourself of this time of rest, you will begin to let stress creep in and issues that come along will seem bigger than they really are. Remember to let yourself unwind a little bit before going to sleep. This will prevent you from lying in bed thinking about the events of the day, and, in turn, not being able to fall asleep easily.

Meditation – Begin the day with a meditation session. It doesn’t have to be extremely long, but even 10 minutes of quiet and calm will make a world of difference on how the day unfolds. Wake up a half hour earlier and make time to get in touch with your goals for the day and what you hope to accomplish. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be bothered, and take advantage of that time to focus on breathing and just being in the moment.

Write it down – Writing down your thoughts for the day can help to rid your mind and body of unwanted stressors that bog you down. Getting it all out of your head and down on paper has a calming effect that makes any situation seem better. You can do this in the morning or when you are winding down during the evening hours. Just pick a time that feels comfortable for you and make it a daily routine.

Read a good book – Read one of your favorite, uplifting books to help calm your mind from a long, demanding day and to prepare you for a restful nights sleep. If you’re not into reading that much, you can always choose the audio version of the book and listen while you relax. You can also get up early in the morning and choose this time to read, if that is what fits your schedule.

There are numerous ways to maintain a set of healthy habits in your daily routine. If you can find a way to carve out a little quiet, relaxing “you” time on a daily basis, not only will you make daily stresses more manageable, but also improve your productivity, concentration and overall health. You just need to plan ahead and take action to make your life as calm and stress free as you want it to be. Find out what activities fit your family life and schedule, and then set some goals for everyone involved. Your whole family can benefit from this, and you will see a noticeable difference in the stress level all around.

 

 

How Yoga Helps Burn Fat

Yoga is not as easy or simple and static as many think. It is actually physically demanding and after spending 30 to 60 minutes striking and locking different yoga poses, you will realize this. Not only that, but there are different forms of yoga that exist too – some are more intense than others.

What is more important in regards to achieving weight loss with yoga exercises is what particular positions you are performing.

Here are a few examples of some great fat burning yoga poses:

The Cobra

This is one of the easiest and most effective yoga poses that exist. It not only aids with weight loss, but it helps to tighten the abdominal and buttocks muscles as well. Tightening of the mid-section also contributes towards that thinner look that you may be shooting for.

Lie down with your face to the ground. Put your hands onto your shoulders with your palms facing down and spread your fingers apart from each other. Then, begin pressing through your hands, bringing your head up, and then let your chest and upper back follow. This lift will take your body off the mat. While performing this movement, you should be looking ahead and your shoulder blades should be kept low and back. You will then want to push the shoulders back and let the stretch transmit evenly all throughout your spine.

You just have to take a few deep breathes when performing this pose and then you can return to the beginning position, where you lie face down on the ground.

The Bow

This one is a bit harder to pull off, but it can seriously help with weight loss and it helps to tone the abs, arms, and legs.

Lie on your belly and create a bend in your knees while reaching past them and grabbing your feet. Breathe your stomach in and stretch the feet upward, while simultaneously lifting the upper part of your body. Make sure that while doing this your shoulder blades are kept low and back.

Lock this pose in and take some deep breathes before going back to your relaxed starting position.

Other Poses

These are just two of the many effective yoga poses that exist. Take a look at this list of yoga exercises to find out about more poses that will help you with losing weight and shrinking down your mid-section, as well as strengthening your body and mind.

 

Healthy Summer Smoothies That Taste Great

Photo credit: Dicemanic (Flickr: Milkshake) CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

You already know the delicious, frosty, sweetness of a fruit smoothie, but you pass it up because you don’t want to undo all the hard work you’ve done to lose weight and keep your calories under control. Healthy smoothies don’t always taste good. Wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds? You can have a delicious smoothie that is also good for you if you mix the right ingredients. You can’t go wrong with fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and berries blended to a smooth, cold, refreshing drink. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find your favorite healthy smoothie.

Strawberries and bananas always go well together. The sweet tangy flavor of the strawberry is complimented by the delicious smoothness of the banana. You won’t have to add any sugar to enjoy a sweet treat if you combine these two fruits. Fill your blender with one banana, one cup of ice, a cup of 1 percent or low-fat milk, half a dozen sliced strawberries and top it off with a few tablespoons of low-fat plain yogurt. Blend until all the ingredients are mixed to a smooth texture. Pour it in a tall glass and enjoy!

Berry lovers will really enjoy a mixed berry smoothie made from blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Blend with ice, low-fat yogurt, some spinach leaves and 1 percent milk for a low-calorie, high fiber, vitamin packed super drink. Mix different berries and try different combinations of berries until you find just the right combination to stimulate your taste buds and satisfy your berry craving.

If you are concerned about getting enough protein from your smoothie, you may consider adding a spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter, or your favorite protein or whole food powder to your smoothie mixture. Use all natural or organic peanut or almond butter, if you can find it. Of course, if you have nut allergies, you should not use any product that contains peanuts. Opt instead for fruits and vegetables that are higher in protein, such as watercress or apricots, currants or prunes. These fruits and vegetables add additional fiber to your diet as well as protein.

A healthy smoothie made with fresh fruits and low-fat yogurt is delicious as is, or you can add a few of your favorite veggies to punch up the vitamins and minerals. Add the juice of some raw carrots and celery for extra fiber and vitamins without adding too many calories. Carrots, spinach leaves, and celery will enhance the flavor of the fruits without overpowering them.

 

 

4 Fun Ways You Can Burn More Calories

Photo credit: Elizabeth from Lansing, MI, USA (Chris and Kaitlyn Planting Uploaded by Dolovis) CC-BY-2.0

The truth of the matter is that everything we do, from walking up and down the stairs to house cleaning, burns calories. While we can think of many different ways to expend more calories, the fact remains that burning more calories than we consume is the key to weight loss. Most of us associate burning those calories with painful and dreaded methods in doing so. That does not mean, however, that we cannot have fun while losing weight and getting in great shape. Here then are four fun ways to burn more calories.

Sleep It Off

Although you may find it difficult to shut your mind off at night, did you know that getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night can burn well over 350 calories a night. It pays to get into a sleep-inducing routine every evening. By setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep about an hour or two before settling in, not only do you get a healthy body, mind, and spirit, you also have the opportunity to burn calories without moving a muscle. Now, that is a win-win situation.

Grow a Garden

Even if you do not have a green thumb, the benefits of growing a garden are numerous. You will have the benefit of trying something new and no matter how big or small, you’re sure to achieve success. Gardening gives you the bonus of seeing something through from beginning to end. Whether you grow flowers or vegetables, you get to see the birth of something new and gardening has the potential to help you burn up to 300 calories per hour. Getting outside in the fresh air and being creative also clarifies the mind.

Power Walking

If you enjoy going for a leisurely stroll, why not take it up a notch. Power walking is not only fun, but also can be a great excuse to meet up with neighbors. Reach out to someone who is likely to be interested in walking but is at the same level as you. So if you are a beginner walker, do not get together with someone who is an avid runner or power walker. Begin with a beginner. As you go along, you will see that you are able to navigate hills and walk for longer time periods. All types of walking are ideal for the mind, body, soul, and for burning calories while having a fun conversation with your neighbor.

Skip the Car Wash

Rather than running the car through the car wash, gather your family around and make it a family affair. Not only will you save money by washing the car yourself, you will also burn calories and spend time with your family. Washing your car can be fun, especially at the end when everyone gets the opportunity to wet each other with the hose – and you have the possibility of burning more than 100 calories.