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Category Archives: Health

5 Ways for a Better Sleep on the Road

As a busy entrepreneur growing two businesses, I travel for work on a weekly basis. After hours on planes, speaking on stage, or doing media interviews, it’s tough for me to wind down at the end of the day. However, I know how important it is that I get enough sleep when I’m staying in a hotel far away from home.

According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of adults don’t get enough sleep (at least seven hours each night), and this is linked to a host of diseases and other problems. Here are five tips I use to help power down and sleep better.

1. Avoid Screen Time Blues

If you want to settle into a restful sleep, avoid staring at screens before bed (up to an hour). This may not be realistic in all situations, so if you absolutely have to work on a device, try a program like f.lux, which can colour-shift your screen to minimize the amount of blue light emitted-the same approach used by Apple’s Night Shift and Amazon’s Blue Shade technology. Reducing the amount of blue light can help you get to sleep more easily by making the colours warmer and less like the light of the sun…which, you know, is a pretty big cue that you should be awake.

2. Set the Mood

While not everyone likes to sleep in total silence, eliminating distracting noises can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Depending on your environment, try noise-cancelling headphones or download a white noise app to drift off into dreamland. You definitely want to shut off any alerts that might pop up in the middle of the night too, so put your smartphone in Do Not Disturb mode when you hit the sack. Finally, a high-quality pillow can make all the difference when it comes time to unwind. Holiday Inn Express, for instance, offers the choice of firm or soft pillows, so be sure to check if your hotel has a pillow menu to help ensure a restful and comfortable sleep.

3. Brain Dump and Blank Out

A lot of us have trouble sleeping because we can’t stop thinking about what we have to do in the future (what I would give for a switch to just turn my brain off at the end of the day!). For taking the stress out of travel, try the IHG app. You can make reservations on-the-go and it’s easy to manage your stays with all of your travel details saved in the app. Another helpful technique is to write down all the things you have on your mind so that you can be confident they’re listed and ready to be addressed in the morning (which means you don’t have to think about them anymore that night). Just make sure you don’t do this immediately before lying down to sleep, as you’ll probably wind your brain up more than winding it down. If you need a good note-taking and taskmaster app, try Any.do.

4. Work Out Your Worries

Another thing you don’t want to do immediately before going to sleep, but is hugely helpful if you can fit it in earlier in the day, is to grab a quick work out. Jog on a treadmill, do a few laps in the pool, or lift some weights. In fact, it’s been shown that exercising (again, not too close to bedtime) can really help you get to sleep at night. If you’ve left it too late then maybe squeeze in some hotel room yoga before bed so that you can relax a bit without getting your heart rate racing.

5. Turn the Clock Around

This may be difficult for some of you, but my brother swears by it. When you go to bed, set your alarm and then keep that clock face out of view. How many times do you wake up in the middle of the night and check the clock? The next thing you probably do is either figure out how long you’ve been in bed or how much longer it is until you have to get up, right? Call me crazy, but I don’t think doing math in the middle of the night is helping you rest. If you’re really worried about missing your wake-up, then set the alarm on both your clock and your phone. In addition, I always call the front desk at my hotel to request a wake-up call.

As a busy mom, I know that I need to come back from a business trip refreshed and ready to enjoy my personal time with my family. Getting to sleep faster and better while travelling is a worthy goal for all of us in our sleep-challenged society. In other words, power down properly so you’re ready to power up when you need it most.

5 Essential Nutrients for the body

1. Fill Your Plate with Fruits, Veggies and Whole Grains

Nutrition experts say that eating at least five servings of produce daily could decrease overall cancer risk by up to 20 per cent. A serving is a half-cup (125 milligrams) of cooked veggies, one cup (250 milligrams) of raw veggies, chopped fruit or a medium-sized piece of whole fruit. Fiber, minerals, vitamins and plant chemicals in these foods may help prevent the development and growth of various cancers.

Reserve two-thirds of your plate for produce, grains and beans, and one third or less for animal proteins. To get as many beneficial plant chemicals as possible, aim for a rainbow of colours – red tomatoes, orange squash, blueberries, etc. When eating canned veggies like beans, rinse thoroughly to remove sodium.

2. Cut Back on Fat

According to a study of 2,500 breast cancer survivors, eating lean can cut the risk of cancer recurrence by up to 42 per cent. Women in the study lowered their fat intake by making simple switches, like eating plain popcorn instead of potato chips.

Another smart idea: switch from foods rich in saturated fats, such as cheese and fatty meats, to those rich in unsaturated fats, such as fish, flaxseed, avocados and nuts. Replace fatty cooking oils like corn and sunflower with olive and canola oil.

In studies, cutting fat protected women with estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer – the type that will ultimately affect one in three post-menopausal women, according to the American Cancer Society. Other research shows that cutting back on red meat could lower the risk of colon cancer by up to 70 per cent.

3. Eat in Moderation

According to University of California-San Diego scientists, being overweight may decrease your odds of survival after breast cancer. And an American Cancer Society study of 900,000 cancer patients found that death rates were 52 per cent higher for the heaviest men and 62 per cent higher for the heaviest women, compared to mortality rates for people of average weight.

Being overweight appears to increase the risk for developing certain cancers, including pancreas, uterus, kidney and ovary. Once you’ve recovered from cancer therapy, seek out tips on smart food choices, portion control, and moderate exercise to control your weight – and if needed, slowly nudge it toward a healthier range.

4. Shun Refined Carbohydrates

Eating foods like sugar and white flour can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels. In turn, high insulin levels could raise your risk for a quick recurrence of breast and prostate cancer, says researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Researchers have a hunch that insulin acts like a growth factor, so too much might stimulate the growth of tumours.

Lower your blood insulin levels by controlling your weight (especially belly fat), exercising regularly and eating a diet low in refined carbohydrates. That means choosing oatmeal and fresh fruit instead of pancakes and syrup, or wholewheat bread instead of white.

5. Grill Cautiously

Cooking meat, poultry and fish at very high temperatures, especially over an open flame, can promote the formation of cancer-promoting compounds. To make grilling safer, follow these techniques: add lemon juice or vinegar to meat marinades, remove all visible fat, flip meats frequently, or put foil or pan on the grill and cook on that. Baking your meat is the far safer option, and if you must grill, cook vegetables instead.

Health Fool you should Ignore

Urban legends and health myths are certainly nothing new — we’re pretty sure even our Neanderthal ancestors passed some version of them around their cave fires. But the Internet has certainly helped outdated advice die hard, so it’s no wonder these fake facts keep popping up in our inboxes. We picked our favorites from such myth-busting sites as Snopes, the authors of Don’t Swallow Your Gum!: Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health, and more. Here’s why you should stop falling for these, once and for all:

Chewing gum takes seven years to pass through your digestive tract.

The truth: Gum addicts can relax. Although your body can’t digest chewing gum, it doesn’t just sit in your stomach. You eliminate it when you go to the bathroom just like other food you haven’t digested.

Plucking a gray hair causes two to grow back.

The truth: It’s fine to tweeze that errant hair. Genetics plays a key role in when you go gray, regardless of how often you pluck. It can take six months from the time a hair falls out until it grows back long enough for you to notice it; during that time, you’ll automatically see more gray hair as part of the aging process, explains Snopes.com.

Antiperspirant deodorants cause breast cancer.

The truth: Going au naturel won’t protect your breasts from cancer. This myth probably came about because some antiperspirants contain aluminum, which can show up as a false-positive finding on a mammogram. All this means is you should skip the white stuff before a breast cancer screening. Though concerns have been raised about parabens in deodorant raising estrogen levels — and thus possibly increasing cancer risk — there’s never been any conclusive evidence to prove a link, according to the National Cancer Institute and FDA.

Cats can steal the air from a baby’s mouth.

The truth: There’s no need to send Fluffy away when baby moves in. This myth dates back hundreds of years to an era when cats were associated with evil spirits and witchcraft, but KidsHealth.org notes that it’s anatomically impossible for a cat or other animal to suffocate a baby by sealing the infant’s mouth with its own. Still, it’s a good idea to supervise pets around babies and small children — for the kitty’s safety just as much as the child’s.

Mountain Dew can shrink a man’s testicles.

The truth: Mountain Dew-drinking guys everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. The gist of this ridiculous rumor, according to Snopes.com, is that drinking Mountain Dew can lower a man’s sperm count or cause his penis to shrink. The alleged culprit is food coloring Yellow No. 5, and the myth that it has a harmful effect on the male reproductive system is unfounded, the site says.

Related: 10 Soda Alternatives

You can catch a cold from being outside too long.

The truth: It’s actually a good idea to let your kids spend plenty of time outdoors. “Going outside — with or without a wet head — is one of the best things you can do to prevent catching a cold,” D.J. Verret, MD, a Dallas otolaryngologist. “Colds are caused by viruses or bacteria, which are more often spread in the winter because of close contact from everyone being indoors.” So spending time al fresco can actually make you less likely to catch a cold.

Related: Easy Strategies for Boosting Immunity

Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.

Truth: The sound can be extremely grating, but this uncouth habit won’t harm your joints. Researchers found no difference in instances of arthritis when they compared a group of longtime knuckle crackers with those who left their hands alone. However, the study did find that people who cracked their knuckles had weaker grips and more hand swelling — good reasons to kick the habit.

Drinking cold water after meals can lead to cancer.

Truth: Water is one of the healthiest things you can drink with any meal — hot, cold, or tepid. This rumor first surfaced in early 2006, according to Snopes.com, and still makes its way into various email chains. It posits that cold water helps solidify oily fats from your meal into a “sludge” that lines the intestines and can lead to cancer. But there’s zero evidence from medical literature to support this theory.

It’s okay to follow the five-second rule for dropped food.

Truth: The five-second rule should actually be the “zero-second rule,” Roy M. Gulick, MD, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College, recently told The New York Times. “Eating dropped food poses a risk for ingestion of bacteria and subsequent gastrointestinal disease, and the time the food sits on the floor does not change the risk.” If bacteria are present, they will cling to the food immediately on contact. So while it may be tempting to dust off food you’ve dropped, it’s safer to just toss it in the trash.

You only use 10 percent of your brain.

Truth: Motivational speakers may love this idea, but the evidence against it is just common sense, say Aaron Carroll, MD, and Rachel Vreeman, MD, in their book Don’t Swallow Your Gum: Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health. “Studies of patients with brain damage suggest that harm to almost any area of the brain has specific and lasting effects on a human being’s capabilities,” they wrote. “If this myth were true, it would not be a big deal to hurt various parts of your brain.” You’re using 100 percent of your brain — or at least we hope so.

Ways to Treat Allergies

1. Oral decongestants

If your nose is so stuffy from allergies that you have trouble breathing at night or you’re snoring, try an over-the-counter oral decongestant like Sudafed (or generic pseudoephedrine tablets). Note: These drugs may keep you awake at night, so take them during the day.

2. Nasal spray decongestants

If you need something at night, try a nasal spray decongestant like Afrin. Nasal sprays won’t keep you awake like oral decongestants, and you only need one or two squirts in each nostril to relieve congestion for up to 12 hours. Don’t use them for more than three days, however-they can have a “rebound” effect that results in increased swelling when you stop using them.

3. Eye drops

Plain “natural tears” drops rinse allergens from the eye, while astringent or decongestant drops like Visine shrink blood vessels to take the red out. Antihistamine eye drops also reduce the itching and swelling caused by the release of histamine (your eyes have a lot of mast cells).

4. Nasal steroid sprays

Nasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase (available by prescription), work by reducing inflammation. They can take a few days to begin working, and you’ll have to use them every day during allergy season for them to be effective.

5. Mast cell stabilizers

Mast cell stabilizers, such as Intal, are prescription drugs that work by preventing the release of inflammatory chemicals like histamines and leukotrienes from mast cells. Because they stop allergies earlier in the process, they are a step better than antihistamines, which prevent the action of histamine after it’s released.

6. Long-acting antihistamines

Long-acting prescription antihistamines, such as Clarinex, contain the same active ingredients as their over-the-counter cousins, but they last longer with a single dose.

7. Leukotriene modifiers

Leukotriene modifiers were initially developed to treat asthma, but because they work by stemming production of leukotrienes, they can also help treat allergy symptoms. One leukotriene modifier, Singulair, is approved for use in allergic rhinitis. Ask your doctor if this prescription could be right for you.

Ways to Improve Women’s Health

To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.

Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).

Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.

Health Tip #6: Check for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly breast self-exams for women. However, it still suggests them as “an option” for women, starting in their 20s. You should be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report any concerns to your doctor. All women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram as a mammogram is the most effective way of detecting cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.

A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these six simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.

The Benefits of Beer for Health

Beer drinkers, take note: Your favorite pint may be healthier than you realize. When it comes to good-for-you happy hour beverages, we tend to think mainly of red wine and its heart-friendly antioxidants. Recent research, however, reveals that beer may also help what ales you, from reducing the risk of osteoporosis to beating brain fog.

But before you go on a beer binge, remember that moderation is key to reap its health perks. That means no more than two 12-ounce beers a day for men and one for women. “If you overdo it, alcohol can take a toll on your health, contributing to liver damage, certain cancers, heart problems, and more,” says Andrea Giancoli, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. People with certain health conditions — including gout, high triglycerides, or breast cancer, for example — should avoid drinking beer or other alcohol because it can exacerbate those health problems, according to Joy Bauer, RD, nutrition and health expert for Everyday Health and The Today Show.

Too much alcohol can also cause weight gain. After multiple rounds, calories can add up quickly (a 12-ounce regular beer can pack up to 150 calories, while a light beer has around 100).

But for most of us, here are five healthy reasons to toast your next beer:

Beer Boost No. 1: A Stronger Skeleton

Make no bones about it: Beer in moderation may protect bone health thanks to its high silicon content. Participants who sipped one or two beers a day had greater bone mineral density than those who drank more or fewer beers, found a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Silicon helps stimulate bone-building cells, and the estrogenic effect of alcohol also has a protective quality for bones,” says study author Katherine Tucker, PhD, professor of nutritional epidemiology at Northeastern University in Boston. Which brew boasts the most silicon? Try an India Pale Ale. A 2010 University of California Davis study found that IPAs had the highest levels of the mineral.

Beer Boost No. 2: A More Powerful Ticker

A beer a day may keep heart disease away. “Alcohol raises levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol,” says Arthur Klatsky, MD, senior consultant in cardiology at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. “It also has anti-clotting effects, which keeps blood vessels clear and healthy.” In fact, Israeli researchers found that people who drank one beer daily had lower levels of fibrinogen, a protein that helps promote blood clotting, than those who abstained from drinking. (Blood clots can cause heart attack and stroke.) Study participants drank Maccabee beer, but researchers believe that any type of beer could have similar heart-healthy effects.

Beer Boost No. 3: Healthier Kidneys

Finnish researchers found that men who drank beer had a 40 percent lower risk of kidney stones compared to those who drank other types of alcohol. The benefit may be due to beer’s high water content. Dehydration can increase the risk of kidney stones, which are little deposits of salt and minerals such as calcium that can form in your kidneys. Beer’s hops (a kind of flower that gives beer its bitter flavor and acts as a preservative) may also help prevent kidney stones by slowing the release of calcium from bones.

Beer Boost No. 4: Better Brain Power

While excessive alcohol intake can cause irreparable brain damage, moderate daily consumption actually safeguards a sharp mind, research shows. One classic New England Journal of Medicine study, which analyzed the drinking habits of about 11,000 women over more than 15 years, found that those who had up to one drink a day had a 20 percent lower risk of brain function decline (as measured by memory and other cognition tests) than nondrinkers. Alcohol intake may protect blood vessels in the brain and also lower stroke risk, say researchers.

Beer Boost No. 5: Lower Cancer Risk

Beer’s health benefits aren’t limited to those who drink it: Marinating steak in your favorite brew could eliminate up to 88 percent of the carcinogens that form as a result of pan-frying meat, according to a Portuguese study. Cooking meat at high temperatures creates cancer-causing compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Researchers think that the sugars in beer help prevent HCA formation.

Best Vitamins and Supplements

1. Vitamin K

What is vitamin K?

Doctors have long used vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting, to help heal incisions in patients after surgery and to prevent bleeding problems in newborns. This vitamin also aids in building strong bones and may be useful for combating the threat of osteoporosis in older women.

Vitamin K1 is present in many foods, especially leafy green vegetables such as cabbage and spinach, and is also present in liver, cows’ milk, egg yolk and some cereals. Broccoli, spring onions and brussels sprouts are also good sources. Other foods with some vitamin K are pistachios, vegetable oils, lean meats, tomatoes and dairy products. The rest comes from bacteria that live naturally in the gut and make menaquinones (also called vitamin K2).

A synthetic form of vitamin K1 called phytomenadione (also known as phytonadione) is available for use in supplements. Menatetrenone is a type of vitamin K2, while menadione (vitamin K3) is another synthetic form used in some countries.

What does vitamin K do?

This single nutrient sets in motion the entire blood-clotting process as soon as a wound occurs. Vitamin K1 may also be important for cell-to-cell communication. Researchers have discovered that vitamin K2 also plays a protective role in bone health.

Benefits of vitamin K

Doctors may recommend preventive doses of vitamin K if post-surgery bleeding or haemorrhaging is a concern. Even when no deficiency exists, surgeons sometimes order vitamin K before an operation to reduce the risk of post-operative bleeding.

Consult your doctor before taking vitamin K prior to an operation, because certain types of surgery and prolonged bed rest may increase risk of unwanted blood clots.

How to take vitamin K

Supplemental vitamin K (more than is found in a multivitamin) should be taken only after consulting your doctor. When prescribed, vitamin K should be taken with meals because food enhances its absorption.

Vitamin E helps the body use vitamin K, but too much vitamin E-more than 1000 IU a day-taken long term may impair vitamin K function and increase your risk of bleeding.

High doses of vitamin E may counteract the blood coagulation properties of vitamin K, increasing the risk of bleeding.

2. Grape seed extract

What is grape seed extract?

With antioxidant properties many times more powerful than those found in better-known nutrients (including vitamin C and vitamin E), grape seed extract is a heart-smart and cancer-smart botanical. It also has the power to improve vascular health, protect brain cells and increase your overall well-being in many ways. This extract made from the tiny seeds of red grapes is a flavonoid with potent antioxidant potential.

What does grape seed extract do?

In addition to being a powerhouse of antioxidants, grape seed extract exerts a powerful, positive influence on blood vessels. It is one of the few substances that can cross the blood-brain barrier, which means it has the potential to protect brain cells from free radical damage. It also reduces swelling after injury or surgery.

Benefits of grape seed extract

A topical preparation can improve wound healing after surgery. It may also protect the heart against damage during heart surgery.

How to take grape seed extract

Fluid extract (1:1): 20 to 40 millilitres a week.

Tablets/capsules: 12,000 milligrams of grape seed extract 2 to 3 times a day (use preparations standardized to provide 150 to 300 milligrams of PCOs daily).

After 24 hours, only about 28 per cent of grape seed extract’s active components remain in the body. It’s important to take grape seed extract supplements at the same time every day.

Grape seed extract is best used with other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E (and it may help the body use vitamin E more efficiently); money-saving combination products are available.

Grape seed extract may decrease iron absorption in the intestines, so leave a gap of 2 hours between taking the supplements.

3. Coenzyme Q10

What is coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10, produced by the body, belongs to a family of compounds called quinones. Coenzyme Q10 is found in all living creatures and is also concentrated in many foods, including nuts and oils. Coenzyme Q10 is found in a wide range of foods, including olive oil.

What does coenzyme Q10 do?

The primary function of coenzyme Q10 is as a catalyst for metabolism-the complex chain of chemical reactions during which food is broken down into packets of energy that the body can use. Acting in conjunction with enzymes (hence the name “coenzyme”), the compound speeds up the vital metabolic process, providing the energy that the cells need to digest food, heal wounds, maintain healthy muscles and perform countless other bodily functions.

Benefits of coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 may play a role in preventing cancer, heart attacks and other diseases linked to free radical damage. It’s also used as a general energy enhancer and anti-aging supplement. Because levels of the compound diminish with age (and with certain diseases), some doctors recommend daily supplementation beginning at about 40 years of age.

It also appears to aid healing and reduce pain and bleeding in those with gum disease and to speed recovery after oral surgery.

How to take coenzyme Q10

A typical dose is 100 to 150 milligrams a day. Before surgery, higher doses may be used; consult your health-care practitioner. Take this supplement in the morning and evening, preferably with fatty food to enhance absorption.

Coenzyme Q10 should be continued long term; it may require 8 weeks or longer to notice results. Concurrent vitamin B6 supplements may also help.

4. Arnica

What is arnica?

Arnica has been used in homoeopathic medicine for hundreds of years. It can be used to relieve pain resulting from surgery or trauma.

What does arnica do?

Arnica is thought to stimulate blood circulation and, theoretically, to raise blood pressure, especially in the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood. The plant is also thought to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and swelling and heal wounds.

Benefits of arnica

Research using topical forms suggests they have anti-inflammatory properties. Topical arnica is popularly used to treat bruises and other minor traumatic injuries and there is some research evidence to support this.

How to take arnica

Oral forms: Consult your healthcare practitioner or package for specific directions.

Topical forms: use ointment/creams/gels that consist of 20 to 25 per cent arnica tincture or 15 per cent arnica oil (higher strengths may irritate skin). Alternatively use a tincture (1:10 with 70 percent alcohol). A poultice or compress can be made using the tincture diluted 3 to 10 times with water. Apply to sore areas 2 to 3 times a day, or following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Some doctors recommend taking arnica more frequently before and after some surgeries.

Homoeopathic preparations such as arnica are diluted at first to 1:10 or 1:100. Dilutions are then continued until desired concentrations are achieved. When a 1:10 dilution is diluted 30 times, it is said to be a 30X or 30D potency. When a 1:100 dilution is diluted 30 times, it is referred to as 30C potency. You may swallow homoeopathic doses or dissolve them under your tongue.

Dangerous Bacteria Spread Outside The Hospital

The dangerous bacteria Clostridium difficile spreads not only in hospitals but also in other health-care settings, causing infections and death rates to hit “historic highs,” U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.

C. difficile is a deadly diarrheal infection that poses a significant threat to U.S. health care patients,” Ileana Arias, principal deputy director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a morning news conference. “C. difficile is causing many Americans to suffer and die.”

The germ is linked to about 14,000 deaths in the United States every year. People most at risk from C. difficile are those who take antibiotics and also receive care in any medical facility.

“This failure is more difficult to accept because these are treatable, often preventable deaths,” Arias said. “We know what can be done to do a better job of protecting our patients.”

Much of the growth of this bacterial epidemic has been due to the overuse of antibiotics, the CDC noted in its March 6 report. Unlike healthy people, people in poor health are at high risk for C. difficile infection.

Almost 50 percent of infections are among people under 65, but more than 90 percent of deaths are among those aged 65 and older, according to the report.

Previous estimates found that about 337,000 people are hospitalized each year because of C. difficile infections. Those are historically high levels and add at least $1 billion in extra costs to the health care system, the CDC said.

However, these estimates might not completely reflect C. difficile’s overall impact.

According to the new report, 94 percent of C. difficile infections are related to medical care, with 25 percent among hospital patients and 75 percent among nursing home patients or people recently seen in doctors’ offices and clinics.

Although the proportion of infection is lowest in hospitals, they are at the core of prevention because many infected patients are transferred to hospitals for care, raising the risk of spreading the infection there, the CDC said.

Half of those with C. difficile infections were already infected when they were admitted to the hospital, often after getting care at another facility, the agency noted.

The other 50 percent of infections were related to care at the hospital where the infection was diagnosed.

The CDC said that these infections could be reduced if health care workers follow simple infection control precautions, such as prescribing fewer antibiotics, washing their hands more often and isolating infected patients.

These and other measures have reduced C. difficile infections by 20 percent in hospitals in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, the CDC said.

In England, infections have been cut 50 percent in three years, the agency said.

Patients get C. difficile infections mostly after taking antibiotics, which can diminish the body’s “good” bacteria for several months.

That’s when patients can get sick from C. difficile, which can be picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread by health care providers.

The predominant sign of C. difficile infection is diarrhea, which can cause dehydration. If serious, the infection can become deadly. Other symptoms include fever, nausea and loss of appetite.

The CDC advises that if diarrhea occurs after a patient starts antibiotics, C. difficile should be suspected and treatment continued with another antibiotic.

Commenting on the report, infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, said, “All these recommendations are fine; the problem is they are not going to work, you can’t stop these practices. This bug exists in a climate of overuse of antibiotics.”

It is hard to eradicate C. difficile because it buries itself in the colon, then recurs and testing isn’t always accurate, Siegel said. “It’s a pervasive problem in hospitals, and even in communities,” he said.

How to Make the Water Taste Fresh

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren’t crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:

1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.

2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don’t just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.

3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.

4. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that’s so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.

5. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you’re interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.

6. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption.

7. Add fast flavor. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system.

Healthy Eating Tips for Diet

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks

The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings, butter, and mayonnaise, except on occasion. A serving of raw or cooked vegetables is equal to 1/2 cup (1 cup for leafy greens); a serving of a fruit is 1/2 cup or a fresh fruit the size of a tennis ball.
  • 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose dairy products wisely. Go for fat-free or reduced-fat milk or cheeses. Substitute yogurt for sour cream in many recipes and no one will notice the difference. A serving of dairy is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese.
  • 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. For a healthy diet, the best ways to prepare beef, pork, veal, lamb, poultry, and fish is to bake or broil them. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in cuts of meats because they’re the leanest. Remove all visible fat or skin before cooking, and season with herbs, spices, and fat-free marinades. A serving of meat, fish, or poultry is 2 to 3 ounces. Some crossover foods such as dried beans, lentils, and peanut butter can provide protein without the animal fat and cholesterol you get from meats. A ¼ cup cooked beans or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is equal to 1 ounce of lean meat.
  • Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. No diet should totally eliminate any one food group, even fats, oils, and sweets. It’s fine to include them in your diet as long as it’s on occasion and in moderation, Bickston says.

Healthy Diet: Eat Right and the Right Amount

How many calories you need in a day depends on your sex, age, body type, and how active you are. Generally, active children ages 2 to 8 need between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day. Active teenage girls and women can consume about 2,200 calories a day without gaining weight. Teenage boys and men who are very active should consume about 3,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. If you’re not active, you calorie needs drop by 400 to 600 calories a day.

The best way to know how much to eat is to listen to your body, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “Pull away from the table when you’re comfortable but not yet full. Wait about 20 minutes,” he says. “Usually your body says, ‘That’s good.’ If you’re still hungry after that, you might want to eat a little more.”

Healthy Diet: Exercise Is Part of the Plan

At the bottom of the new USDA food pyramid is a space for exercise. Exercise is an important component of a well-balanced diet and good nutrition. You can reap “fabulous rewards,” says Dr Novey, just by exercising and eating “a healthy diet of foods that nature provides.”