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.

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

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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.

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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)

10 Healthy Reasons to Drink Coffee

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Your daily cup of coffee may be doing more for you than providing that early-morning pick-me-up. The health impact of coffee has long been a controversial topic, with advocates touting its antioxidant activity and brain-boosting ability, and detractors detailing downsides such as insomnia,indigestion and an increased heart rate and blood pressure. But the latest wave of scientific evidence brings a wealth of good news for coffee lovers. Here are ten reasons drinking coffee may be healthier for you than you thought.

1. Coffee is a potent source of healthful antioxidants.

In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two antioxidant superstars. Scientists have identified approximately 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more develop during the roasting process. Numerous studies have cited coffee as a major–and in some cases, the primary–dietary source of antioxidants for its subjects.

How it works: Antioxidants fight inflammation, an underlying cause of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis and many types of cancer. They also neutralize free radicals, which occur naturally as a part of everyday metabolic functions, but which can cause oxidative stress that leads to chronic disease. In other words, antioxidants help keep us healthy at the micro-level by protecting our cells from damage. Finally, chlorogenic acid, an important antioxidant found almost exclusively in coffee, is also thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

2. Caffeine provides a short-term memory boost.

When a group of volunteers received a dose of 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, about as much contained in a single cup of coffee, Austrian researchers found a surge in the volunteers’ brain activity, measured by functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), as they performed a memory task. The researchers noted that the memory skills and reaction times of the caffeinated volunteers were also improved when compared to the control group who received a placebo and showed no increase in brain activity.

How it works:  Caffeine appears to affect the particular areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration, providing a boost to short-term memory, although it’s not clear how long the effect lasts or how it may vary from person to person.

3. Coffee may help protect against cognitive decline.

In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In one promising Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on cognitive decline, but found no association.

How it works: There are several theories about how coffee may help prevent or protect against cognitive decline. One working theory: caffeine prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers also theorize that because coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia, it also lowers the risk for developing dementia.

4. Coffee is healthy for your heart.

A landmark Dutch study, which analyzed data from more than 37,000 people over a period of 13 years, found that moderate coffee drinkers (who consumed between two to four cups daily) had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease as compared to heavy or light coffee drinkers, and nondrinkers.

How it works: There is some evidence that coffee may support heart health by protecting against arterial damage caused by inflammation.

5. Coffee may help curb certain cancers.

Men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as compared to women who drank less than one cup a day. Researchers have also found ties between regular coffee drinking and lower rates of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers.

How it works: Polyphenols, antioxidant phytochemicals found in coffee, have demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties in several studies and are thought to help reduce the inflammation that could be responsible for some tumors.

6. Coffee may lessen your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A growing body of research suggests an association between coffee drinking and a reduced risk of diabetes. A 2009 study found that the risk of developing diabetes dropped by 7 percent for each daily cup of coffee. Previous epidemiological studies reported that heavy coffee drinkers (those who regularly drink four or more cups daily) had a 50 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than light drinkers or nondrinkers.

How it works: Scientists believe that coffee may be beneficial in keeping diabetes at bay in several ways:  (1) by helping the body use insulin and protecting insulin-producing cells, enabling effective regulation of blood sugar; (2) preventing tissue damage; and (3) and battling inflammation, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  One component of coffee known as caffeic acid has been found to be particularly significant in reducing the toxic accumulation of abnormal protein deposits (amyloid fibrils) found in people with type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee is thought to be as beneficial, or more so, than regular.

Note: There is some evidence that coffee decreases the sensitivity of muscle cells to the effects of insulin, which might impair the metabolism of sugar and raise blood sugar levels.  The significance of this finding, however, is still unclear.

7. Your liver loves coffee.

It’s true: In addition to lowering the risk of liver cancer, coffee consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated an inverse correlation between increased coffee consumption and a decreased risk of cirrhosis–a 20 percent reduction for each cup consumed (up to four cups).

How it works: Scientists found an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and blood levels of liver enzymes. Elevated levels of liver enzymes typically reflect inflammation and damage to the liver. The more coffee subjects drank, the lower their levels of enzymes.

8. Coffee can enhance exercise performance.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that caffeine is dehydrating, one of the primary reasons why fitness experts recommend nixing coffee pre- and post-workout. However, recent research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption–up to about 500 mg, or about 5 cups per day–doesn’t dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.

How it works: Caffeine is a performance and endurance enhancer; not only does it fight fatigue, but it also strengthens muscle contraction, reduces the exerciser’s perception of pain, and increases fatty acids in the blood, which supports endurance.

9. Coffee curbs depression.

Multiple studies have linked coffee drinking to lower rates of depression in both men and women.  In several studies, the data suggested an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and depression: in other words, heavy coffee drinkers seemed to have the lowest risk (up to 20 percent) of depression.

Read: Coffee: Will a cup a day help keep the doctor away?

How it works: Researchers aren’t yet sure how coffee seems to stave off depression, but it is known that caffeine activates neurotransmitters that control mood, including dopamine and serotonin.

10. Coffee guards against gout.

Independent studies on the coffee consumption patterns of men and women suggest that drinking coffee regularly reduces the risk of developing gout. Researchers in the Nurses’ Health Study analyzed the health habits of nearly 90,000 female nurses over a period of 26 years and found a positive correlation between long-term coffee consumption and a decreased risk for gout. The benefit was associated with both regular and decaf consumption: women who drank more than four cups of regular coffee daily had a 57 percent decreased risk of gout; gout risk decreased 22 percent in women who drank between one and three cups daily; and one cup of decaf per day was associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of gout when compared to the women who didn’t drink coffee at all. Similar findings have been documented for men: another large-scale study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of gout by 40 percent, and that those who consumed six cups or more lowered gout risk by 60 percent.

How it works: According to the Nurses’ Health Study, coffee’s antioxidant properties may decrease the risk of gout by decreasing insulin, which in turn lowers uric acid levels (high concentrations of uric acid can cause gout).

The Cons of Coffee Drinking

The potential health benefits of drinking coffee are exciting news, but that doesn’t mean more is better. For some people, coffee can cause irritability, nervousness or anxiety in high doses, and it can also impact sleep quality and cause insomnia. In people with hypertension, coffee consumption does transiently raise their blood pressure–although for no more than several hours–but no correlation has been found between coffee drinking and long-term increases in blood pressure or the incidence of cardiovascular disease in patients with pre-existing hypertension.

Caffeine affects every person differently, so if you experience any negative side effects, consider cutting your coffee consumption accordingly. It takes about six hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, so limit coffee drinking to early in the day, or switch to decaf, which only contains about 2 to 12 mg of caffeine per eight ounces. Always taper your coffee consumption gradually. Avoid quitting coffee cold turkey; doing so can lead to caffeine withdrawal symptoms that may include severe headache, muscle aches and fatigue which can last for days.

How to Keep It Healthy

So how much coffee is healthy, and how much is too much? Two to three eight-ounce cups per day is considered moderate; heavy coffee drinkers consume four cups or more daily. Remember, the amount of caffeine per coffee beverage varies depending upon the preparation and style of beverage. Eight ounces of brewed coffee may contain as little as 80 to as much as 200 mg of caffeine per cup (an “average” cup probably contains about 100 mg).

Your best bet: Skip the fat-filled, sugar-laden coffeehouse beverages and order a basic black coffee. Alternatively, switch to skim milk or unsweetened soy or nut milk.

Editor’s Note: As much as we all love coffee, it’s important to recognize that even the most rigorous scientific studies are subject to bias–especially ones that examine something as beloved and economically important as coffee–so, by all means, enjoy your morning habit, but interpret these findings with caution.

References

Whole Wheat Ravioli – Healthy Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen whole wheat cheese ravioli.
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced.
  • 1/2 TSP kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 3 TBSP red-wine vinegar
  • 1 TSP Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • 6 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Preparation

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil Cook ravioli until tender, 7-9 minutes or according to package.
  2. Meanwhile, mash garlic and salt into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife or back of spoon. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic paste and shallots and cook, stirring often, until just starting to brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in vinegar, mustard and pepper; remove from the heat.
  3. Drain the ravioli well. Place in a large bowl and toss with the arugula and the dressing. Serve sprinkled with the cheese.

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Nutrition

Per serving: 413 calories; 24g fat (8g sat, 11g mono);  57mg cholesterol; 34g carbohydrates; 16g protein; 2g fiber; 585mg sodium; 156mg potassium.

Bonus: Calcium (25% daily value), Vitamin A (19% daily value)

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 3 fat

Provided by Kendall Taylor of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in their November 2015 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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7 Simple Rules For How To Take A Nap

Sleeping lab image via Shutterstock

Birds do it, bees do it (we think), even educated monkeys do it. So let’s do it, people. Let’s fall asleep. (The musical portion of this blog is over; thanks for indulging.) But seriously: we’ve talked about the whys of taking naps before — they improve mood, creativity, memory function, heart health, and so much else — but never, to my knowledge, have we discussedhow to take a nap. In fact, whenever we write about naps, we always get a few comments from people claiming they’re unable to nap during the day; they just can’t fall asleep, or when they do nap they wake up groggy and unable to work. In that case, read on, my sleepy friends.

1.

The first thing you should know is, feeling sleepy in the afternoon is normal. It doesn’t mean you had a big lunch, or that you’re depressed, or you’re not getting enough exercise. That’s just how animals’ cycles work — every 24 hours, we have two periods of intense sleepiness. One is typically in the wee hours of the night, from about 2am to 4am, and the other is around 10 hours later, between 1pm and 3pm. If you’re a night owl and wake up later in the morning, that afternoon sleepiness may come later; if you’re an early bird, it may come earlier. But it happens to everyone; we’re physiologically hardwired to nap.

2.

Naps provide different benefits depending on how long they are. A short nap of even 20 minutes will enhance alertness and concentration, mood and coordination. A nap of 90 minutes will get you into slow wave and REM sleep, which enhances creativity. If you sleep deeply and uninterruptedly the whole time, you’ll go through a full 90-minute sleep cycle, and recoup sleep you might not have gotten the night before (we’ve all heard it a million times, but most of us don’t get enough sleep at night).

3.

Try not to sleep longer than 45 minutes but less than 90 minutes; then you’ll wake up in the middle of a slow-wave cycle, and be groggy. I used to hate taking naps during the day for just this reason — I would always wake up in a fog. My problem was I hadn’t yet perfected the art of the 20-minute catnap.

4.

Find a nice dark place where you can lie down. It takes about 50% longer to fall asleep sitting up (this is why red eye flights usually live up to their name), and be armed with a blanket; you don’t want to be chilly. You also don’t want to be too warm, which can lead to oversleeping. (There was a kind of urban legend circulating when I was a kid: don’t fall asleep in the sun, or you’ll never wake up. Not true — but you might wake up three hours later with a ripe sunburn.)

5.

White noise can help you fall asleep, especially during the day when construction crews, garbage trucks, barking dogs and other noisy awake-world things can conspire to destroy your nap. Keep a fan on, or turn on a nearby faucet for a pleasing rushing-river sound. (Just kidding about that last one.)

6.

Don’t nap too close to bedtime, or you might not be able to fall asleep later. Remember, your inbuilt sleepy window is sometime in the early to mid-afternoon — try to nap then.

7.

Quit that silly job where they don’t let you take naps during the day.