June is National Men’s Health Month

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Men’s Health Month is celebrated across the country. The goal of this national observance is to increase awareness about the preventable health problems in men and promote early detection and treatment of disease among boys and men. This month gives healthcare providers, friends, family, and the media a chance to encourage men to seek regular medical advice for disease and screenings. Please see list of exams below:
  • Physical Exam. Needed every year or more often if recommended by your provider. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.
  • Testicular Exam. As the number one cancer for men between 15-35 years of age it is important to check your-self frequently and discuss an exam with your doctor during your physical exam.
  • Blood Pressure Screenings. Needed every 2 years unless it is elevated than it may need to be checked more frequently. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.
  • Cholesterol Screenings. Needed every 5 years unless it is elevated than it may need to be checked more frequently. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be checked. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.
  • Diabetes Screenings. Needed if your blood pressure is above 135/80, you have a BMI of over 25 in addition to other risk factors, or you have an out of range glucose or A1C reading. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.
  • Dental Exam. Needed 1-2 times per year. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.
  • Eye Exam. Needed every 2 years or more often if recommended by your provider. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.
See what activities are going on in your community that relate to this month and don’t forget to wear blue on the Friday before Father’s day (6/16) to support the cause.
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Five Easy Ways to Eat More Spinach (Your Muscles Will Thank You, Says Science)

by Siobhan O’Connor

Siobhan O’Connor is a natural beauty and health expert and the co-author, with Alexandra Spunt, of the blog No More Dirty Looks.

It turns out that Popeye was onto something: Besides providing the body with protein, iron, powerful antioxidants, and a natural glow, spinach may also benefit muscle building. So much for the puny-vegetarian stereotype!

And since it’s such a health superstar, we’re going to tell you how to incorporate it into your diet without having to think too much about it. Here’s why.

The Daily is reporting on a new(ish) study published in Cell Metabolism which showed that eating spinach may help muscles work more efficiently during exercise. Apparently the inorganic nitrate found in spinach does this by fueling mitochondria—the little engines in our cells that could—with more energy on less oxygen. The lead scientist on the study, Dr. Eddie Weitzberg, compared it to being able to run a car on less fuel but at the same speed.

Whether or not you’re taking the GOOD 30-day challenge or did our own Vegan For a Week Challenge (and have been following ourMeatless Monday recipe series), eating more spinach is a great idea. Its mild flavor makes it one of the most versatile super foods, and it pairs easily with (or hidden in) just about anything. Because you can buy it frozen it’s also convenient and affordable.

Here are a few no-brainer ways to add it to a meal:

Hidden in smoothies: You can load a smoothie with spinach and still have it taste like vanilla ice cream—it’s truly an incredible trick for anyone who thinks they hate veggies (if you’re dealing with a finicky kid—or as I was, a finicky man—just add blueberries to hide the color). Smoothies are also a happy home for spinach because the iron is more readily absorbed with vitamin C, which is found abundantly in fruits. Go for strawberries right now—they have a ton of C and they’re in season (at least in California).

In omelettes: Whether you want to power up at breakfast, or make a lazy dinner, adding spinach to an omelette will take it to the next level. I like doing a Greek-inspired fast frittata with olive oil, onion, and feta. Just saute the onions in a pan that can go in the oven, then add the spinach and let it cook down for a minute. Then pour in your eggs and let that sit until it looks like the bottom half is cooked; then sprinkle it with feta, salt, and pepper and throw it in the oven under the broiler. When the eggs brown at the edges and the feta bubbles you’re done. Takes ten minutes, tastes gourmet.

With pasta or on pizza: It really doesn’t matter whether you like a red sauce, a cream sauce, or a simple olive oil drizzle on your pasta or pizza—spinach pairs with all. You can easily add it to something store-bought but a recent taste triumph at my house involved frozen peas and spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic in a pan. To that I added the brown rice pasta from Trader Joe’s (cooked of course), some red chili flakes, lemon juice, and lots of salt and pepper. If you’re vegan you’re done (or you can add some nutritional yeast to taste). If you like cheese, throw in some parmesan. If you want meat in there, prosciutto works great.

As a side: This is basically the same as above but without the pasta. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan with some chopped garlic and saute your spinach for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste along with a squeeze of lemon juice (for both flavor and some vitamin C).

In a salad: Spinach can be added to just about any salad—from a caesar to a chopped to a simple olive oil and vinegar variety. I like making a good vegan caesar dressing with the following: 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs vegenaise, 1 tsp dijon, juice of a lemon, 1 tbs of capers (if you like them), 1 tsp of nutritional yeast (if you have it/like it), and salt and pepper to taste. (Note: if you use the capers you may not need the salt, taste it first.) Do a romaine and fresh spinach mix and add anything you like to it: You can go traditional with croutons and parmesan, or make it more of a mixed vegetable salad with artichoke hearts, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Ok, your turn! What’s your favorite way to use this muscle-building age-fighter?

Photo (cc) from Flickr user srqpix

 

Children’s Eye Health Month

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month promoting education and awareness about getting children’s eyes checked before they return to school.
Most children have healthy eyes, however there are certain conditions that can threaten good vision. Because it’s difficult to determine if the child is having any vision problems it’s important to bring them to their pediatrician regularly. Vision testing should typically start around the age of three.

Funny kid girl in glasses reading books

Funny kid girl in glasses reading books

Signs that may indicate a child has vision problems:

  • Wandering  or crossed eyes
  • Family history of vision problems
  • Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
  • Squinting or turning head in an unusual manner while watching television

More than 12 million children suffer from vision impairment in the United States while the leading cause of vision loss is due to eye injury.

There are an estimated 42,000 sports-related eye injuries every year and most are in adolescents.

Take some time this month to talk to others about the importance of regular eye exams for our youth.

Healthy Summer Snack for Kids!

Zu-Canoe Ingredients

  • 2 medium 2 inch wide zucchini
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1/2 TSP freshly ground pepper
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBSP minced shallot
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 cup chopped celery
Make Zu-Canoes for you and your family! 

Trim both ends off zucchini; cut in half lengthwise. Cut a thin slice off the backs so each half sits flat. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Finely chop the pulp; set aside.
Place the zucchini halves in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with 1/4TSP each salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on high until tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes.
Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot and the remaining 1⁄4 TSP each salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
Add tomatoes, cheese, basil and the reserved zucchini pulp; toss to combine. Divide the filling among the zu-canoes.Nutrition per serving: 87 calories; 4g fat (1g sat, 3g mono); 3mg cholesterol; 7g carbohydrates, 0g added sugars; 7g protein; 2g fiber; 408 mg sodium; 545mg potassium. Bonus: Vitamin C (48% DV), Vitamin A (19% DV), Zinc (30% DV), Calcium (16% DV)
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1/2 starch, 1/2 high-fat meat

Maintaining a conscious diet of the foods you love, with healthy portions and thoughtful consumption times, is the best way to stay on track and love what you eat! See more recipes here

 

 

Men’s Health Month

Image result for health men

As started by the congressional health education program, Men’s Health Month is celebrated across the country in June. The goal of this national observance is to increase awareness about the preventable health problems in men and promote early detection and treatment of disease among boys and men.
This month gives healthcare providers, friends, family, and the media a chance to encourage men to seek regular medical advice for disease and screenings. See what activities are going on in your community that relate to this month and don’t forget to wear blue on the Friday before Father’s day to support the cause! Check out the list of standard exams:

Image result for health men exams

Physical Exam. Needed every year or more often if recommended by your provider. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.

Testicular Exam. As the number one cancer for men between 15-35 years of age it is important to check yourself frequently and discuss an exam with your doctor during your physical exam.

Blood Pressure Screenings. Needed every 2 years unless it is elevated, then it may need to be checked more frequently. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.

Cholesterol Screenings. Needed every 5 years unless it is elevated, then it may need to be checked more frequently. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.

Diabetes Screenings. Needed if your blood pressure is above 135/80, you have a BMI of over 25 in addition to other risk factors, or you have an out of range glucose or A1C reading.

Dental Exam. Needed 1-2 times per year. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.

Eye Exam. Needed every 2 years or more often if recommended by your provider.

Other. Immunizations, infectious disease. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.

Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Healthy Spring Recipe

 Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

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Ingredients 

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TSP chopped oregano
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups peeled and diced cucumbers.
  • 1 14oz can black-eyed peas
  • 2/3 cup diced red bell pepper.
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 2 TBSP chopped black olives

Preparation

Whisk oil, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until combined.  Add cucumber, black-eyed peas, bell pepper, feta, onions and olives; toss to coat.  Serve at Room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition

Per serving: 160 calories; 10g fat (3g sat, 6g mono);  11mg cholesterol; 12g carbohydrates; 5g protein; 3g fiber; 270mg sodium; 273mg potassium.

Bonus: Vitamin C (50% DV), Vitamin A (15%DV)

Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1/2 starch, 1/2 very lean meat, 2 fat

Resource: Eatingwell.com

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Provided by Kendall Taylor of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in their March 2016 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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How to Increase Dopamine Naturally

Low dopamine levels can lead to lack of motivation, fatigue, addictive behavior, mood swings and memory loss. Learn how to increase dopamine naturally.

man pointing up

There are about 86 billion neurons in the human brain.

They communicate with each other via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s a key contributor to motivation, productivity, and focus.

Let’s take a closer look at dopamine — what it does, the symptoms of deficiency, and how to increase it naturally.

What Does Dopamine Do?

Dopamine has been called our “motivation molecule.”

It boosts our drive, focus, and concentration.

It enables us to plan ahead and resist impulses so we can achieve our goals.

It gives us that “I did it!” lift when we accomplish what we set out to do.

It makes us competitive and provides the thrill of the chase in all aspects of life — business, sports, and love.

Dopamine is in charge of our pleasure-reward system. (1)

It allows us to have feelings of enjoyment, bliss, and even euphoria.

But too little dopamine can leave you unfocused, unmotivated, lethargic, and even depressed.

Dopamine Deficiency Symptoms

People low in dopamine lack a zest for life.

They exhibit low energy and motivation, and often rely on caffeine, sugar, or other stimulants to get through the day.

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Many common symptoms of dopamine deficiency are similar to those of depression:

  • lack of motivation
  • fatigue
  • apathy
  • procrastination
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • low libido
  • sleep problems
  • mood swings
  • hopelessness
  • memory loss
  • inability to concentrate

Dopamine-deficient lab mice become so apathetic and lethargic they lack motivation to eat and starve to death. (2)

Conversely, some people who are low in dopamine compensate with self-destructive behaviors to get their dopamine boost.

This can include use and abuse of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, drugs, shopping, sex, video games, online porn, power, gambling, or excessive internet use.

How to Increase Dopamine Naturally

There are plenty of unhealthy ways to raise dopamine.

But you don’t have to resort to “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” to boost your dopamine levels.

Here are some healthy, proven ways to increase dopamine levels naturally.

Dopamine Boosting Foods

Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine.

Eating a diet high in tyrosine will ensure you’ve got the basic building blocks needed for dopamine production.

Here’s a list of foods that increase dopamine: (3456)

  • all animal products
  • almonds
  • apples
  • avocado
  • bananas
  • beets
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • fava beans
  • green leafy vegetables
  • green tea
  • lima beans
  • oatmeal
  • sea vegetables
  • sesame and pumpkin seeds
  • turmeric
  • watermelon
  • wheat germ

Foods high in natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, and raw sauerkraut can also increase natural dopamine production.

Oddly, the health of your intestinal flora impacts your production of neurotransmitters.

An overabundance of bad bacteria leaves toxic byproducts called lipopolysaccharides which lower levels of dopamine. (7)

Sugar has been found to boost dopamine but this is a temporary boost, more drug-like than food-like. (8)

Dopamine Supplements

There are supplements that can raise dopamine levels naturally.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric.

It’s available in an isolated form as a supplement.

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It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and can boost levels of dopamine. (91011)

Curcumin has been found to help alleviate obsessive actions and improve associated memory loss by increasing dopamine. (1213)

Ginkgo biloba is traditionally used for a variety of brain-related problems — poor concentration,forgetfulness, headaches, fatigue, mental confusion, depression, and anxiety. (14)

One of the mechanisms by which ginkgo works is by raising dopamine. (15, 16)

L-theanine is a component found in green tea.

It increases levels of dopamine along with other neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA. (1718)

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L-theanine improves recall, learning, and positive mood. (1920)

You can get a dopamine boost by either taking theanine supplements or by drinking 3 cups of green tea per day. (21)

L-tyrosine — the precursor to dopamine — is available as a supplement.

We recommend taking acetyl-l-tyrosine — a more absorbable form that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. (22)

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Phosphatidylserine acts as your brain’s “gatekeeper,” regulating nutrients and waste in and out of your brain.

It can increase dopamine levels and improve memory, concentration, learning, and symptoms of ADHD. (23, 2425)

Read our article on dopamine supplements for more details on these and other nutrients.

Boost Dopamine with Exercise

Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain.

It boosts production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain.

It can also increase your levels of dopamine and the other “feel good” neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. (26)

woman stretchingDr. John Ratey, renowned psychiatrist and author ofSpark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, has extensively studied the effects of physical exercise on the brain.

He found that exercise raises baseline levels of dopamine by promoting the growth of new brain cell receptors.

Along with natural pain-killing endorphins, dopamine is responsible in part for “runner’s high”. (27)

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But you don’t need to exercise strenuously to enhance your brain.

Taking walks, or doing gentle, no-impact exercises like yoga, tai chi, or qi gong all provide powerful mind-body benefits. (282930)

Increase Dopamine with Meditation

The benefits of meditation have been proven in over 1,000 studies. (31)

Regular meditators experience enhanced ability to learn, increased creativity, and deep relaxation.

Zen12 Get all the benefits of an hour of traditional meditation in just 12 minutes

And there are numerous simple ways for beginners to learn meditation.

It’s been shown that meditation increases dopamine, improving focus and concentration. (32)

Creative hobbies of all kinds — knitting, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography, woodworking, and home repair — bring the brain into a meditative state.

These activities increase dopamine, ward off depression, and protect against brain aging. (33)

Listening to music can cause of release of dopamine.

Oddly, you don’t even have to hear music to get this neurotransmitter flowing — just theanticipation of listening can do that. (34)