You know that eating healthy, staying active, and solving a few brain games can help keep you sharp. But these lesser-known habits work wonders too.
1 Sit Tall
When we are sad or afraid, we naturally collapse or cower. Studies show that the converse is also true: When we slouch, this defeated position actually causes us to feel anxious or depressed—which makes it harder to think clearly and remember things. In a study of 125 college students, 56 percent found it easier to do math problems when they sat up straight than when they slumped down.
Erect posture apparently improves memory because it boosts blood and oxygen flow to the brain—by up to 40 percent, according to one estimate.
Having trouble remembering faces? Break a sweat. In a small study, researchers at the University of Iowa showed pictures of faces to older folks (average age: 67) on two different days and after two different kinds of workouts. On one day, they pedaled a stationary bike for 20 minutes at a pace that was intense enough to make them breathe heavily but still be able to talk. On the other day, they simply sat for 20 minutes on a self-pedaling bike.
On average, people remembered the faces better after the intense exercise. What’s more, the memory gains after a single workout were similar to the gains after three months of regular exercise.
3 Limit TV
Every parent and grandparent has heard that too much screen time can hurt a child’s cognitive development. But what about those at the other end of their life span?
To find out, researchers at University College London analyzed data from more than 3,500 participants in a long-term study who were age 50 or older and did not have dementia at their initial assessment. Controlling for physical activity, health conditions, and demographic factors such as education, they found that people who watched more than three and a half hours of TV a day for six years experienced a greater drop in verbal memory test scores (an average decrease of 8–10 percent) than those who watched less (an average decrease of 4–5 percent).
On a related note: Another study found that watching violent programming elevates stress hormones, which impairs memory.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo recruited a group of younger adults and a group of older adults, gave them a series of 30 words, and asked them to either draw or write them out. After a short break, both groups were asked to recall as many words as they could. In both age-groups, those who drew the words remembered the most. The effect was actually greater in the older adults.
According to one of the study’s authors, this happens because while some parts of the brain involved in memory retrieval deteriorate with age, the visual-processing regions usually don’t. Hence, sketching can help adults of any age keep their memory as sharp as a college student’s.
5 Walk Backward
Next time you’re trying to recall something, don’t just think back—walk back. In a series of experiments, participants viewed a video of a staged crime, a word list, or a set of pictures. Then they imagined walking forward or backward, watched a video that simulated forward or backward motion, or actually walked forward or backward. Some people also sat still.
Backward motion—whether real, imagined, or watched—helped people remember the information better than sitting still and, in most instances, better than forward motion. It may be that moving backward in space mentally helps us move back in time to the moment we learned something.
Even though you may loathe it, not all body fat is bad. In fact, having more of certain kinds can actually be beneficial.
When talking about body fat, you likely lament those areas of the excess cellular collection — such as your saddlebags, belly pooch and side-boob areas. This overage can be annoying when it comes to physique goals, and excessive amounts of fat are hazardous to your health. But not all body fat is bad news, and you are host to a spectrum of adipose tissues, including white, brown and beige varieties. And while having too much of certain kinds can increase your risk for disease, other kinds have the exact opposite effect.
FAT — WAT FAT?
First things first: Body fat and dietary fat are not the same thing. “Dietary fat is a calorie-dense macronutrient found in food, while body fat is [energy] stored in the human body,” explains Corey Phelps, an NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritional expert. Healthy dietary fat comes from foods such as olive oil, avocado and nuts, and it assists with a host of metabolic functions, including metabolism, nutrient transport, and hormone creation and regulation.
Body fat, for the most part, is the physical manifestation of stored energy — extra ingested calories that the body did not have an immediate use for at the time of their consumption and that are now in holding cells (literally) until it’s time to burn them off. This kind of fat is called white adipose tissue, or WAT, and is what composes that cringe-worthy subcutaneous bulge you see in high-def when trying on a body-hugging garment. WAT contains fewer mitochondria — the brown, calorie-burning powerhouses of cells — making the tissue appear white.
But while unsightly, WAT actually has several functions within your body: It insulates and protects your organs, regulates body temperature and balances hormones such as cortisol, growth hormone and leptin. However, where you store WAT on your person is of primary concern, especially if your body tends to house it viscerally — around your organs. An excess of visceral fat is associated with metabolic dysfunction, heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions.
Your accumulation of WAT is controllable through exercise and diet, and as long as you’re not consuming more calories than you burn, you should remain in check.
UP TO BAT
Brown adipose tissue, or BAT, is the subject of many current studies, and for a while, it was believed that only babies harbored this kind of fat, which helped them to stay warm. But as it turns out, human beings of all ages have BAT, which is found along the front and back of your neck and in your upper back. Because it contains a lot of mitochondria, BAT is brown in appearance, and unlike WAT, BAT is a highly active tissue, and its purpose is to generate — not store — energy: When you’re cold, BAT fires up to generate heat within your body, which in turn burns a ton of calories and contributes to a leaner body composition, improved blood sugar control and reduced overall body weight. In other words, the more BAT you have, the leaner you will be.
The amount of brown fat you have may decrease as you age, but there are several ways to increase and activate this kind of fat:
Sleep has also been shown to boost BAT production: The more melatonin you produce as a result of quality sleep, the more activated brown fat you have and the higher your calorie-burning capacity, according to a study published in the Journal of Pineal Research.
Turning down the thermostat or going outside in cooler weather can help activate brown fat and even boost its production: Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the sweet spot for BAT activity landed between 61 and 66 degrees. This is where the mitochondria kick in and contribute to the calorie burn, heating you up from the inside out to maintain a normal body temperature.
Feed Your Fat
Some foods take more energy to digest than others, and brown fat appears to play a role in heat generation because of muscle activity in the intestines and other digestive processes, according to researchers from the Technical University of Munich. That same study found that eating a carbohydrate-rich meal had the same thermogenic effect — and activation of brown fat — as did exposure to cold.
Work It Out
Exercise can contribute to the reduction of white adipose tissue, but it also can stimulate the conversion of white fat cells to brown cells: Evidence suggests that exercising boosts uncoupling protein 1, a protein that is present only in brown and beige fat cells, which redirects the energy flow in mitochondria so they produce heat, according to research published in Nature Medicine.
There is a third kind of body fat that exists in pockets within white adipose tissue called beige fat. This specialized tissue contains more mitochondria than WAT but less than BAT, giving it a beige appearance. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, beige cells have the ability to harness heat production by incinerating excess glucose, and more recent research published in PLOS Biology found that blocking certain hormones can boost the activity of beige fat and increase its potential to burn energy. Besides working to increase your brown fat percentage, you also can try to boost your beige, further improving metabolism, body composition and overall health:
The best way to boost your beige fat cell percentage is to exercise. The hormone irisin is secreted from muscles in response to exercise and actually converts white fat cells to beige, effectively turning them into furnaces rather than storage units. And according to research, the best form of exercise to increase irisin production is high-intensity interval training.
Cuckoo for Cocoa
Outside of exercising, a very recent study published in the June 2019 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that supplements also might be of use: Scientists discovered that the phenolic compounds in cocoa bean shells can cause the browning of white fat cells, and further studies are being done to determine whether these shells can help assist in the fight against obesity.
You eat, but then an hour later your stomach is screaming. Here, what’s going on, and how to stay satisfied.
Most of the time, hunger has an obvious cause, like not eating enough or choosing meals that don’t contain the right amount of nutrients (carbs, protein, and fat), says D. Enette Larson-Meyer, a professor of human nutrition and the director of the Nutrition and Exercise Laboratory at the University of Wyoming. Other times, though, it’s mysterious. Your appetite appears to defy explanation, and nothing you eat seems to tamp it down. But those hunger pangs have a cause, too. Read on to find out what’s behind them and how to fuel up to feel comfortably full.
Salt is stoking your appetite
Yes, it makes you thirsty in the short term. But over time, a high intake of salt actually causes you to drink less but eat more, recent research shows. after weeks on a high-salt diet, participants in studies published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation reported being hungrier. Salt triggers the body to conserve water, which it does by producing a compound called urea. that process requires a lot of calories, so it revs up your appetite, the study’s authors explain. processed food often has hidden sodium, so aim to eat more of the fresh stuff.
When we’re aimless, we look for something stimulating, like food, says Rachel Herz, author of Why You Eat What You Eat. and research shows we tend to seek out things like chips and chocolate. “if this sounds familiar, tune in to your body and notice true signs of hunger, like a grumbling stomach,” Rachel says. “When you eat, focus on the experience and enjoy it.” the more you do this, the better you’ll get at distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger.
You need veggies at breakfast
When you start the day with starchy, quick-digesting carbs – like cereal, waffles, or toast – you “wake up” your hunger hormones and make them more active all day, says Brooke Alpert, a dietitian, and nutritionist. that’s because these foods cause your blood sugar to spike, leading to a rise in insulin and cortisol (a hormone that promotes fat storage), which makes your blood sugar plummet, so you get hungry again. this up-and-down cycle happens whenever you eat starchy foods, but research shows that it’s most volatile when you wake up with an empty stomach. to keep your blood sugar stable, Brooke suggests having a breakfast of protein and low-starch carbs, like eggs and vegetables, and saving bread and grains for lunch and dinner.
You’re on the edge
If anxiety and worry are keeping you up at night, the lack of sleep can increase your appetite, D. Enette says. plus, “stress raises your levels of cortisol, which can stimulate hunger,” she adds. to decompress, try hot yoga. Studies show that working out in the heat can prolong the natural appetite-suppressing effect of exercise, while yoga helps you relax.
You eat too often
Grazing all day throws your hunger hormones out of whack, says Brooke, author of The Diet Detox. “When you eat small bites and don’t sit down to real meals, you never feel truly hungry or full,” she says. “Eventually, your appetite cues become muted, and you’re vaguely hungry all the time.” instead, eat every four hours or so. have a meal with protein, fiber, and healthy fat three times a day, and supplement with good-for-you snacks when meals are more than four hours apart. a smart choice: walnuts. Eating them activates an area of the brain that regulates hunger and cravings, a recent study found.
At first glance, mushrooms might seem unimpressive, but apparently they are the new “it” food and are good for more than just mealtime. “Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries,” says Bart Wolbers, MS, a researcher at Nature Builds Health. “Though each variety has its own unique properties, they are generally known for promoting heart health, well-being and immunity.” Here’s what you can expect from a few popular varieties.
This mushroom adds a distinct flavor to spaghetti, stir-fry or salads, and recent research shows it can aid in heart health and help decrease blood pressure. Shiitake also can help reduce cholesterol because of the presence of compounds called sterols and beta-glucan, according to a Japanese study. “Beta-glucans are a fiber that makes the gut lining thicker,” Wolbers explains. “That thicker lining prevents the dietary absorption of cholesterol.”
Mushrooms can serve as a flavorful meat substitute in plant-centric meals, and their inherent umami or savory essence makes them a great addition to many dishes.
Because of their woody texture and bitter flavor, reishi mushrooms are typically found only in supplement form. This variety is reputed to reduce inflammation and help prevent the onset of certain cancers by acting as an antioxidant when ingested, scavenging for and disposing of free radicals that can cause cellular damage. A study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications determined that reishi may even inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells.
Cremini, Portobello and Button
Fun fact: All three of these mushrooms are of the same variety, and it’s simply the level of maturity that dictates its name — portobello being the most mature. Another fun fact: Mushrooms are the only natural source of vitamin D in the produce aisle, and these three contain the most. All three are also excellent for GI health. “They contain conjugated linolenic acid, which improves gut function and provides your system with new gut bacteria, which you may lack from other food sources,” Wolbers says.
If you’re looking to improve brain function and prevent brain disease, then this mushroom should be on your radar. “The carbohydrates in lion’s mane can travel to the brain and reduce oxidative stress, a damaging process that is the byproduct of both energy creation and aging,” Wolbers says. In studies done on aging mice, lion’s mane mushrooms induced an improvement in recognition memory. “A compound called NGF stimulates the creation of new nerve cells while also helping existing cells thrive,” Wolbers says. “Through that mechanism memory is also improved.
Known as the “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, maitake mushrooms may help prevent the side effects associated with diabetes by normalizing the immune system. “Type 2 diabetes is characterized by an excessive immune response and has some characteristics of an autoimmune disorder,” Wolbers explains. They also show promise in promoting fertility by counteracting polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that inhibits ovulation in women. “Maitake helps reverse insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for PCOS,” Wolbers adds.
Another area in which fungi are improving health is in the realm of cancer treatment. “Medicinal mushrooms are thought to improve immune system function and reduce the incidence of treatment-related side effects,” says Jonathan Stegall, M.D., oncologist and director of the Center for Advanced Medicine in Atlanta. “Some studies also show them to have a cancer-cell killing effect.”
Stegall mainly uses maitake, turkey tail, reishi, shiitake and almond mushrooms in his treatment protocols because their clinical prowess is the strongest. “The evidence for their exact effects is limited, so medicinal mushrooms should serve as a complementary therapy alongside more traditional treatments rather than as stand-alone therapies,” Stegall advises.
Not all oncologists are familiar with the use of mushrooms in cancer treatment, so ask plenty of questions before deciding on a practitioner. And of important note: Patients on blood thinners may be at an increased risk for mushroom treatment because of the anticoagulant and antiplatelet properties of the fungi.
Trading out half your ground meat/poultry for chopped mushrooms adds vitamins and fiber while reducing sodium and fat, according to Eric Davis, a spokesperson for The Mushroom Council. The flavor and texture are hardly affected, and carnivores and veggie-averse kids will never know what’s missing or, more importantly, what’s been added!
Add mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine mushrooms and turkey in a large bowl, mixing with hands. Place a skillet over medium-high heat, then add turkey mixture. Cook, stirring often until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook another 7 minutes, or until turkey is no longer pink. Drain excess liquid, then add barbecue sauce and heat through. Preheat broiler to high. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Add flesh to turkey mixture and stir to combine. Place potato shells on a baking sheet and spoon in turkey mixture, topping with cheese. Broil 5 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbling. Remove, sprinkle with scallions and serve.
Recipe adapted from TheMushroomCouncil.com.
TURKEY AND MUSHROOM BARBECUE STUFFED SWEET POTATOES
In different ways, these 10 nutrients address changes that occur as we live longer. In some cases, our need for the nutrient simply increases with age. In others, a supplement can help our bodies counteract situations that are more likely to develop later in life, including lack of energy, inflammation that underlies most age-related diseases, and a less-effective immune system that lowers resistance to infections and slows healing from injuries or surgeries.
COQ10 (COENZYME Q10)
A vitamin-like substance, CoQ10 feeds mitochondria, the energy-generating components of our cells. Our bodies naturally make CoQ10, but levels decline as we get older—just when we need it most. Low levels of the nutrient have been linked to heart disease, brain diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
In studies, CoQ10 supplements improved heart function in people with heart failure; protected the heart against damage from some chemotherapy drugs; improved exercise performance, sugar metabolism, blood pressure, brain function, and fertility; and helped relieve chronic fatigue syndrome, gum disease, diabetic neuropathy, and headaches.
We can get small quantities of CoQ10 from food: 9–12 mg in a 3.5-oz. serving of organ meats; a few milligrams in muscle meats and fish; and less than 1 mg per serving from most plant foods. But these amounts are too small to be therapeutic.
Typical daily doses: 30–200 mg, or more to treat diseases.
PQQ (PYRROLOQUINOLINE QUINONE)
An antioxidant found in trace amounts in plant foods, PQQ promotes the growth of energy-producing mitochondria in all cells and enhances the health of nerve cells. Lab studies show that it may help inhibit the growth of brain plaques and cancer cells.
Preliminary human studies of PQQ have shown that it can enhance memory, mood, and other mental functions. It also promotes sleep and reduces fatigue and inflammation. Because both CoQ10 and PQQ enhance mitochondria, they are often combined in supplements.
Typical daily doses: 10–40 mg, often combined with CoQ10.
A powerful antioxidant that comes from certain algae, astaxanthin gives salmon and other sea creatures their pink color because they eat the algae. Astaxanthin protects skin against damage from the sun’s UV rays—which are well known for speeding up aging—and reduces signs of aging that stem from a slower turnover of skin cells as we get older.
Studies have found that astaxanthin enhances skin elasticity and reduces wrinkles, age spots, and skin inflammation. Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also enhance muscle recovery and decrease soreness after exercise. It’s also been shown to help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome and is taken for heart, brain, eye, and overall health.
Typical daily doses: 4–12 mg. Astaxanthin can also be found in topical skin creams and serums.
The main therapeutic ingredient in red wine, resveratrol has a beneficial effect on sirtuins, enzymes that control various pathways involved in the aging process. In animal studies, it has extended lifespan.
By activating sirtuins, resveratrol enhances the body’s ability to withstand stress and may slow down the aging process. Studies have found that it helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol; improves heart, brain, and joint health; and helps to protect against cancer.
In addition to wine, resveratrol is found in grapes, some berries, peanuts, and other foods, but amounts are too small to produce the therapeutic effects observed in studies. Supplements are generally made from Japanese knotweed (Polygonum Cuspidatum), a rich plant source of resveratrol.
Typical daily doses: 200 mg or more.
Scientists became interested in fish oil after studies in the 1970s discovered that Greenland Eskimos enjoyed surprisingly healthy hearts, despite eating a very high-fat diet. The omega-3 fats in fish oil—EPA and DHA—seemed to be responsible. Since then, many studies have been exploring just how fish oil produces beneficial effects.
Fish oil reduces levels of triglycerides, blood fats that contribute to diabetes and heart disease when elevated. It also lowers inflammation in plaque deposits within artery walls, which reduces the odds of a heart attack or stroke being caused by rupture of the plaque. Where blood pressure is elevated, omega-3 fats can help lower it.
Reducing chronic inflammation— which generally increases as we get older—is the mechanism underlying the various benefits of fish oil. Studies have found that it has therapeutic effects on depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psoriasis, arthritis, and other inflammation-related conditions.
Typical daily doses: 500 mg of a combination of EPA plus DHA, usually found in 1,000 mg fish oil; 1,000–2,000 mg of an EPA-DHA combination daily for health conditions. Vegan sources of EPA and DHA are also available.
A patented extract from French maritime pine bark, Pycnogenol enhances blood circulation, reduces inflammation, and helps maintain healthy skin and joint tissues. It binds to collagen and elastin, which give skin and other tissues structure. It also helps to regenerate hyaluronic acid, which maintains moisture.
Studies have found that Pycnogenol supplements may help improve memory, vision, attention span, blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, menstrual problems, erectile dysfunction, gum disease, osteoarthritis, skin conditions, blood sugar in diabetics, menopausal symptoms, leg cramps, and jet lag.
Typical daily doses: 30–150 mg.
With age, risks increase for eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts and reading glasses become all too common. Lutein is an essential and well-studied nutrient for eye health. It protects eyes against damage from UV rays, aging, and eyestrain from blue light that emanates from electronic devices. For eye health, it works synergistically with zeaxanthin.
Recent research has found that lutein is also needed for a healthy brain. Studies have found that lutein supplements increase blood flow to the brain, protect it against damage, and enhance memory, attention, and overall mental function.
Typical daily doses: 10 mg lutein with 2 mg zeaxanthin.
TURMERIC OR CURCUMIN
Curcumin is the key active ingredient in turmeric, the plant that gives curry its yellow color. In studies, supplements of both turmeric and curcumin have reduced inflammation and provided relief from a wide variety of conditions, including different forms of arthritis, low back pain, depression, Crohn’s disease, heartburn, genital herpes, HIV, and inflammation after surgery.
Although many nutrients decrease inflammation, turmeric and/or curcumin are especially helpful for inflammatory conditions, whether they affect joints, the heart, the digestive system, or any other area. And these often develop later in life.
Typical daily doses: Follow product instructions, as extracts vary.
Zinc lozenges are popular as a cold remedy, but the mineral is essential for ongoing healthy immune function. Yet, both zinc intake and immunity tend to decline with age.
Zinc is needed for many processes in the human body, and lack of it manifests in ways similar to the aging process, with increased susceptibility to infections and diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer, poor wound healing, and degenerative diseases of the brain and nervous system. The technical term for this decline, “immunosenescence,” means an aging immune system.
Studies of zinc supplements have found that it reduces infections, improves healing from injuries and many diseases, and helps resolve skin conditions—sometimes making warts disappear. Typical daily doses: 15 mg (an amount found in many multivitamins), or more.
Two types of protein powders can be especially beneficial for healthy aging: whey and collagen. Each delivers different benefits—for muscles and connective tissues in joints and skin—and the two are complementary.
Research shows that whey is most effective at maintaining and rebuilding muscle in older people. It works best when combined with strength-training exercises. It’s especially beneficial in cases where recovery from injury or illness have made people less active than usual, as inactivity speeds up age-related muscle loss. Some protein powders also include concentrated greens for added nutrients.
Collagen is a building block of connective tissues in skin, joints, blood vessels, and organs. Our bodies produce collagen, but that process slows down with age. Collagen protein can help buck that trend.
Intermittent fasting has been very trendy in recent years.
It is claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health and perhaps even extend lifespan.
Not surprisingly given the popularity, several different types/methods of intermittent fasting have been devised.
All of them can be effective, but which one fits best will depend on the individual.
Here are 6 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.
1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day.
The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours, and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8-10 hours.
Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3 or more meals.
This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.
Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.
For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals.
It is generally recommended that women only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.
For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, then this can be hard to get used to at first. However, many breakfast skippers actually instinctively eat this way.
You can drink water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages during the fast, and this can help reduce hunger levels.
It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.
I personally find this to be the most “natural” way to do intermittent fasting. I eat this way myself and find it to be 100% effortless.
I eat a low-carb diet, so my appetite is blunted somewhat. I simply do not feel hungry until around 1 pm in the afternoon. Then I eat my last meal around 6-9 pm, so I end up fasting for 16-19 hours.
BOTTOM LINE:The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men, and 14-15 hours for women. On each day, you restrict your eating to an 8-10 hour “eating window” where you can fit in 2-3 or more meals.
2. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week.
The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week, while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week.
This diet is also called the Fast diet, and was popularized by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley.
On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories.
For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men).
As critics correctly point out, there are no studies testing the 5:2 diet itself, but there are plenty of studies on the benefits of intermittent fasting.
BOTTOM LINE:The 5:2 diet, or the Fast diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days.
3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week.
Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.
This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years.
By fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next, this amounts to a 24-hour fast.
For example, if you finish dinner on Monday at 7 pm, and don’t eat until dinner the next day at 7 pm, then you’ve just done a full 24-hour fast.
You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch. The end result is the same.
Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.
If you are doing this to lose weight, then it is very important that you eat normally during the eating periods. As in, eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.
The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people.
However, you don’t need to go all-in right away, starting with 14-16 hours and then moving upwards from there is fine.
I’ve personally done this a few times. I found the first part of the fast very easy, but in the last few hours I did become ravenously hungry.
I needed to apply some serious self-discipline to finish the full 24-hours and often found myself giving up and eating dinner a bit earlier.
BOTTOM LINE:Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week.
4. Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.
Alternate-Day fasting means fasting every other day.
There are several different versions of this. Some of them allow about 500 calories during the fasting days.
Many of the lab studies showing health benefits of intermittent fasting used some version of this.
A full fast every other day seems rather extreme, so I do not recommend this for beginners.
With this method, you will be going to bed very hungry several times per week, which is not very pleasant and probably unsustainable in the long-term.
BOTTOM LINE:Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
5. The Warrior Diet: Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night.
The Warrior Diet was popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler.
It involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.
Basically, you “fast” all day and “feast” at night within a 4 hour eating window.
The Warrior Diet was one of the first popular “diets” to include a form of intermittent fasting.
This diet also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet – whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.
BOTTOM LINE:The Warrior Diet is about eating only small amounts of vegetables and fruits during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient.
You don’t actually need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of the benefits.
Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time, when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
It is a myth that people need to eat every few hours or they will hit “starvation mode” or lose muscle.
The human body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine, let alone missing one or two meals from time to time.
So if you’re really not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Or if you’re travelling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.
Skipping 1 or 2 meals when you feel so inclined is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast.
Scientists from the University of Nottingham have discovered that drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate ‘brown fat’, the body’s own fat-fighting defenses, which could be the key to tackling obesity and diabetes.
The pioneering study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the first to be carried out in humans to find components which could have a direct effect on ‘brown fat’ functions, an important part of the human body which plays a key role in how quickly we can burn calories as energy. Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat, is one of two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. Initially only attributed to babies and hibernating mammals, it was discovered in recent years that adults can have brown fat too. Its main function is to generate body heat by burning calories (as opposed to white fat, which is a result of storing excess calories).
People with a lower body mass index (BMI) therefore have a higher amount of brown fat. Brown fat works in a different way to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold. Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss. However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in humans. This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions.
The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them.” The team started with a series of stem cell studies to see if caffeine would stimulate brown fat. Once they had found the right dose, they then moved on to humans to see if the results were similar. The team used a thermal imaging technique, which they’d previously pioneered, to trace the body’s brown fat reserves. The non-invasive technique helps the team to locate brown fat and assess its capacity to produce heat. The results were positive and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there’s another component helping with the activation of brown fat.
Benefits of coffee drinking revealed by scientific research
Although coffee originates in Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula, it is one of the favorite drinks in the Western world and is widely consumed in Europe and America. Its main compound, caffeine, is a psychoactive drug with important effects on our nervous system and, in recent times, has been the subject of numerous scientific studies.
There is no doubt that coffee has lights and shadows, but as research progresses it appears that its benefits outweigh its harms. Coffee is not only a powerful stimulant (something that is good for some things, bad for others), it also has a vasodilator effect and seems to have a preventive effect on the onset of diseases such as diabetes or some types of cancer. These are the ten reasons why coffee is beneficial to health.
1. Keeps us alert
Caffeine is the most important component of coffee and the most consumed psychoactive in the world. Just after drinking coffee, caffeine acts on the brain, blocking a neurotransmitter, adenosine, which increases other substances such as dopamine or norepinephrine, which accelerate brain activity.
Many human studies show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function. This includes memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and overall cognitive function. In exchange for these benefits, coffee keeps us awake longer, which can lead to sleep disturbances. That’s why most experts recommend no more than four cups a day.
2. Helps us burn fat
Caffeine is present in most dietary supplements that are supposed to help us lose weight. It is one of the few natural substances that help to burn fat. The only bad news is that these positive effects of caffeine are diminishing in heavy drinkers.
3. Improve our physical performance
Many athletes drink several cups of coffee before competing, as caffeine increases adrenaline levels. This hormone prepares our body for exceptional physical exertion: it causes fat cells to break down body fat, releasing it as free fatty acids, which we use as fuel when we exercise.
4. Contains essential nutrients
We usually think of coffee as a simple mixture of water and caffeine, but the infusion has many other nutrients essential to our body. A cup of coffee contains riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, magnesium, and niacin.
Coffee is also the largest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, as it has more than most fruits and vegetables.
5. Reduces the risk of diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type 2 diabetes, can be prevented through healthy lifestyle habits: maintaining the right weight and exercising. But caffeine also seems to play a role in the equation. Studies have shown that people who drink coffee have a 23-50% lower risk of diabetes. There is research that raises this effect by up to 67%. Why this happens is not clear, but there is enough research to say that, whatever the case, coffee seems to prevent the onset of the disease.
6. Reduces the possibility of neurodegenerative diseases
To date, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s, the two major neurodegenerative diseases, and they are increasingly common due to the progressive aging of the population. In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, which seem to prevent the onset of both disorders, it seems that coffee consumption also influences their development.
Studies show that coffee drinkers may have 65% less chance of Alzheimer’s, and 32-60% (according to studies) of Parkinson’s disease. Caffeine seems to be the main culprit, as decaffeinated drinkers show no advantage.
7. Protects the liver from cirrhosis
The liver is our most voluminous viscera and the one that fulfills more functions in our organism. One of the most common diseases in this is cirrhosis, closely related to alcoholism, but also to hepatitis. Combining spirits with coffees will not spare you from suffering from the ailment if you do not drink moderately, but it seems that people who drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day have an 80% less chance of suffering from the ailment.
8. Fight depression
According to a Harvard University study, the risk of depression decreases when we increase coffee consumption, at least in women, which is what the study was done with. Women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day developed depression by 20% less. Again, caffeine is responsible for this reduction, since women who drank decaffeinated showed no improvement.
Moderate coffee consumption can also significantly reduce the likelihood of suicide. According to the group of researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in Boston, those who drink coffee daily kill themselves up to 50% less than people who don’t drink it at all or who drink decaffeinated coffee. The proper amount is between two and four cups of coffee a day.
9. Reduces the risk of certain types of cancer
A group of researchers from the American Nutrition Society found that high coffee consumption reduces the risk of colon cancer. The study was conducted on more than half a million people and ruled out the benefits of decaffeinated coffee. Finally, a Swedish study released last year also linked high caffeine intake (five or more cups daily) to reduced breast cancer.
10. May reduce the risk of heart attack
Caffeine is known to increase blood pressure, but it does not increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, quite the opposite: it seems to prevent heart attacks.
One of the top academic authorities on the subject, Professor Peter Martin, who heads the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University, has criticized the “misleading association” between caffeine and heart disease: “Last June, a report was published that lists several of the studies carried out over the last decade that precisely link moderate consumption with a reduction in the risk of heart failure. These benefits would only disappear if more than four or five coffees were consumed per day.
Constantly battling the bulge or just not sleeping or eating properly? Here’s a must-read for the sake of your heart health.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women globally. Here, we look at the latest research about heart health, and speak to experts, including Head of the PreClinical Disease and Prevention Unit and cardiologist Associate Professor Melinda Carrington, to see what you can do to improve your odds…
1. You can be slim and still be at risk of heart problems
If you have a family history of heart disease, being slim isn’t enough to protect you from a heart attack or stroke. Because if your mother, father or a sibling has a heart attack before 60, that means your risk of heart attack is increased, too.
“And you can be slim but have high cholesterol due to your genes,” says cardiologist Assoc Prof Carrington.
WHAT TO DO: If you have a family history of heart problems or high cholesterol, speak to your GP about changes that can reduce your risk of poor heart health. Your GP may also recommend medication if you have high cholesterol.
2. The number one risk factor for heart disease is high blood pressure
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because often people don’t know they have it. “Yet it is a bigger risk factor for heart problems than obesity,” says Assoc Prof Carrington. Blood pressure can be influenced by family history, too much salt or alcohol in your diet, being overweight and a lack of exercise. The good news is that medications can help control it.
WHAT TO DO: When you see your GP for a check-up or for another health issue, get your blood pressure checked, too.
3. Sleep Matters
“People who are sleep deprived are often stressed and then the body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones drive up blood pressure,” explains Professor Tom Marwick from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia. People over the age of 45 who sleep less than six hours have double the risk of stroke or heart attack than people who sleep for longer.
WHAT TO DO: Aim for seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
4. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be good for your heart
HRT has been controversial but it may lower the risk of atherosclerosis – the build-up of plaque that damages and blocks the heart’s arteries. The American College of Cardiology reports that research has found women using HRT are 30 percent less likely to die than menopausal women who don’t use HRT and 36 percent less likely to have signs of high heart attack risk.
WHAT TO DO: If you are menopausal, discuss the possible benefits of HRT for your heart health with your GP.
5. You can have a heart attack and not even realize it
“Half of all heart attacks are silent – they happen without women realizing it because women can have different symptoms to men. Women don’t always get crushing chest pain,” says Assoc Prof Carrington. Up to 40 percent of women don’t have that classic heart pain.
WHAT TO DO: Recognise the signs of heart attack for women – shortness of breath, pain in the jaw or back, nausea, clamminess and fatigue. If you experience possible symptoms, call 995 immediately.
6. Your five a day should be right
The risk of dying prematurely from health problems drops by almost a third, and the risk of dying from heart disease drops by a quarter, if you have 800 g of fruits and vegetables a day.
WHAT TO DO: Apples, pears, citrus fruit and leafy vegetables are the best for heart health.
7. Don’t just walk the dog…
“For a healthy heart you need to sweat and puff a little,” says Prof Marwick. Your heart is a muscle and like any muscle, using it keeps it strong. Exercise also improves heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and being overweight.
WHAT TO DO: Aim for 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity, such as brisk walking or a game of tennis, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise – jogging or aerobics – each week.
8. Painkillers won’t always help
Some over-the-counter painkillers may raise the risk of a heart attack. A large Danish study over 10 years found a 31 percent increased risk of a heart attack when people used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
WHAT TO DO: Use drugs, such as ibuprofen, with caution and don’t have more than 1,200 mg per day.
9. Lonely hearts
“Loneliness and isolation can activate stress pathways that can lead to depression,” says Prof Marwick. People with depression are four times as likely to have heart disease and you’re also twice as likely to die after a heart disease diagnosis with depression. WHAT TO DO: Know the signs of depression – withdrawing, poor concentration, using alcohol or drugs, weight gain or weight loss, sleep disturbances and feeling like a failure.
Combat loneliness by volunteering or joining a community or interest group.
10. An apple isn’t always good for you
An apple-shaped body is at greater risk of heart problems because excess fat around the stomach is stored internally around the kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas.
WHAT TO DO: Women should aim for a waist measurement of less than 80 cm.
Why is losing weight so hard — and keeping it off even harder? Mechanisms in the brain can sabotage efforts to eat less and avoid unhealthy foods, according to research. However, the following strategies may help your body win its battle with your brain to control weight, which is essential for overall health and limiting stress on aching joints.
Recent research suggests that a dip in activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex may make you crave high-calorie foods. In an experiment, neuroscientist Cassandra Lowe, Ph.D. of the University of Western Ontario, and colleagues let volunteers eat as much snack food as they wished. At a later session, a device was used to quiet prefrontal cortex activity in volunteers. When offered snacks again, their appetite for chocolate and potato chips spiked, while they shunned low-calorie snacks. (Studies also show that weight gain causes structural changes in the brain that further weaken resolve when choosing between a cheeseburger and a salad, creating a vicious cycle.)
Eating treats like pizza and cookies also activate “reward centers” in the brain, making you desire them more. “But we’re not purely driven by rewards,” says Lowe. “We have other processes that allow control over our behavior.”
STOP THE CYCLE
Exercise boosts activity in the prefrontal cortex, and Lowe showed in another study that volunteers’ appetites for unhealthy snacks decreased after brisk walking. She adds that practicing mindfulness meditation can help you stay focused on choosing healthy foods.
When you eat a meal, fat cells produce the hormone leptin, which travels to the hypothalamus in the brain. When you have consumed enough food to keep your body functioning, leptin delivers a signal to the hypothalamus: “Stop eating, you’re full.” However, brain cells may become less responsive to these signals, which can lead to overeating and weight gain, says endocrinologist Benjamin O’Donnell, MD, of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in Columbus.
“You don’t feel the usual signals of satiety if you’re eating rapidly,” says Dr. O’Donnell. He suggests keeping a 30-second hourglass by your plate. When you take a bite, flip the timer and let it run out before you take another bite. Over time, you’ll learn the difference between feeling satisfied and stuffed, he says.
When you polish offa pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream at the end of a stressful day, blame your brain’s amygdala. Chronic stress causes it to signal the adrenal glands to churn out cortisol, which (among other roles) increases appetite, usually for high-calorie comfort foods. Studies link persistent stress to obesity, especially belly fat.
Find a way to relax – whether it’s meditation, yoga, prayer or fly fishing – and stick with it.
No, the whitening mouthwashes and toothpaste don’t work as advertised. The color of our teeth is actually determined by dentin, which is found below the enamel that is translucent. In other words, whitening paste only cleans the layer it covers, but it is impossible to solve the real problem.
Over the years, everyone’s teeth turn yellow. This can be caused by a variety of factors such as food or drinks that depigment, the passage of time, or genetic causes. The truth is that the Internet abounds with miracle cures and homemade to end this oral problem, such as whitening toothpaste.
Although they sound like a quick, effective and even reliable solution, the truth is that they are not. Studies affirm that these pastes do not bleach and do not achieve the effect they promise their buyers. What does exist are professional post bleaching pastes. These have the function of keeping the pigmentation in your teeth of a healthy tone.
WHAT IS RECOMMENDED FOR WHITER TEETH?
If whitening toothpaste isn’t doing the job, you could try a whitening treatment but see your dentist first. They can advise whether your teeth are suitable for whitening — enamel thickness, receding gums, existing sensitivity, tooth decay, restorations such as fillings, crown and veneers and any other oral diseases or conditions are all factors that need to be taken into account.
More than aesthetics
There’s more to looking after your oral health than just having a beautiful smile. Neglecting your teeth and gums can also affect your general health so here we look at what you need to know to give yourself the best chance of having a healthy mouth and body – for life.
Poor oral health is mostly preventable, yet it is one of the most common chronic health problems in this country.
Certain medications, teeth grinding, and careless brushing and flossing can all compromise the condition of our teeth and gums.
THE LINK BETWEEN ORAL HEALTH AND DISEASE
Most of the bacteria in your mouth — and other areas of your body are harmless but when you neglect your oral hygiene, where they cause infections that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
With research pointing to oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease as potential contributors to serious diseases, it pays to give your mouth some attention.
Your dentist is someone you’ll see on a regular basis over many years so it’s important to pick the one you feel comfortable with. When you see the same dentist year after year, you get a consistently high level of care that you get if you regularly change dentists. Don’t wait until you crack a tooth to find a dentist — an emergency is not the time to start your research.
Your hardworking teeth are susceptible to wear and tear and other problems. We find out what you need to look for to give them the best care possible.
1. SENSITIVE TEETH
If you experience occasional discomfort or pain when eating or drinking cold, hot, sweet and sticky or acidic foods, you probably have sensitive teeth. Even breathing in cold air or brushing your teeth can cause discomfort. Tooth sensitivity can cause occasional mild twinge or severe pain that lasts for hours. Don’t ignore it, though, because it can be a warning sign that something isn’t right.
Sensitive teeth can be caused by:
Incorrect brushing — excessive and overly vigorous brushing can wear away enamel exposing the underlying dentine, which contains nerve branches.
Tooth erosion and/or decay.
Tooth grinding — grinding your teeth will wear away enamel.
Some dental procedures can result in temporary sensitivity.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Gently brushing with desensitizing toothpaste can reduce sensitivity within a few weeks, in most cases. If you have used the toothpaste consistently for one month and your teeth are still sensitive, consult your dentist.
2. CRACKED TEETH
While some cracks and chips are obvious, a condition called ‘cracked tooth syndrome‘ might mean fractures are too small to be seen even on x-rays. Sometimes the crack is below the gum line. The first sign of cracked tooth syndrome sot is usually a sore or sensitive tooth somewhere in your mouth.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Looking after your teeth to preserve their strength so they are not so susceptible to fracture is your best plan of action. You can do this by. frying to eliminate grinding and clenching habits during waking hours. Relaxation exercises may help and See your dentist for a nightguard or splint if you think you’re a night-grinder. frying to prevent dental decay a having it treated early – heavily decayed and heavily filled teeth are weaker than healthy teeth. Not chewing hard objects or foods, like bones and ice cubes.
3. TEETH GRINDING
Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism and is excessive grinding, gnashing or teeth clenching. You could be grinding your teeth at night or unconsciously clenching your teeth during the day.
Watch out for signs like
Cracked tooth enamel
Excessive wear and tear on the teeth
Broken fillings and crowns
Strains on the joints and soft tissue of the jaw
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Anxiety, stress, or tension
Abnormal anatomy of the teeth or jaws that can cause an improper occlusion (or bite)
Medications and your teeth Certain medicines and some supplements can cause tooth erosion. either because they are acidic or because they reduce saliva, which means that your natural defense against acid won’t be as effective.
Some examples include:
Chewable Vitamin tablets
Frequent use of aspirin
Liquid iron supplements
Certain asthma and cough medications
YOU’LL KNOW YOU’RE DOING TEETH GRINDING IF…
Usually your sleeping partner — or even someone who sleeps in a nearby room — will first notice the grinding and gnashing sounds you make while you sleep.
Other signs include:
Headache, jaw or ear pain
Aching teeth, particularly on waking
Aching and/or stiffness of the face and temples
Tightness in jaw muscles
Clenching the jaw when angry, anxious or concentrating
Tooth sensitivity Broken, cracked or chipped teeth
Abnormal alignment of teeth caused by uneven tooth wear
Flattened and worn tooth surfaces
Bite marks on the tongue
Damage from chewing the inside of your cheek
Loose or wobbly teeth.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you think you grind your teeth, See your dentist as soon as possible for treatment. A bite splint that’s worn at night can help alleviate some of the symptoms. You can also try stress management therapy, relaxation techniques, and regular exercise. Biofeedback is another treatment option — electronic monitors are used to measuring tension in the jaw muscles, which in turn helps you learn how to relax muscles and reduce tension.