Fingernails – Hallmark of Health

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: health, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , |

Fingernails1Image via Wikipedia

I was visiting a dear friend and she had the ‘flu again for the 3rd time in just a couple of months and I said to her, that enough was enough, I was taking a look at her. Almost straight away her fingernails gave me at least some of the answers she needed to keep her immune system strong enough to avoid these ‘flu’s.

Did you know that you can tell a lot about your health from your fingernails?

Go on take a look now. Are your fingernails well shaped, which means are they softly domed with an oval shape? Are they pinkish behind the nail with very small or almost no ‘moons’? Are your nails shiny and smooth and strong? If not then you may need to take a look at your health.

Without going into the details about what a doctor would look for, in certain diseases, which can affect nail shape etc.. Let’s look at the most common reasons your nails could be trying to message you about your health and wellbeing.

Ridged nails: Nails can be ridged lengthways and horiztonally, it can be so bad that you can actually feel the ridges if you run a fingertip over them. Ridges that run longways are often signs of B Vitamin deficiency especially B12, and this can also be related to deficiency of certain minerals e.g. selenium, silica, and calcium. Pits and horizontal ridges can mean amlabsorption syndrome, malnutrition or injury to the nail bed.

White Spots: These can often be seen in boys approaching 12 and sometimes in younger boys as well, they can also be seen in females, but this is not as common as the most common reason for this is zinc deficiency.

Spoon-shape: This looks a little like the nail is trying to look like a spoon and is almost completely inverted, sometimes so much that it can hold water. This is one of the signs that you need to see your doctor as it can signal severe chronic anemia or iron deficiency or thyriod problems.

Clubbing: This means the fingertips themselves look wider and often flatter at the top than they should, this is another one for the doctor, can mean anemia and can also mean other health challenges that should be investigated.

Pale or dark or really big ‘moons’ under the nail: This is often a sign that your circulation is poor and/or that your immune system is poor. This can often be another sign of mineral deficiency.

Cracking, peeling, splitting: this is all mineral deficiency and omega 3 deficiency, and also can be from trauma to the nails including biting.

If taking a complete spectrum of minerals does not clear most of these nail signs up in about 4 to 6 weeks, that’s when it is time to check for something else. So my lovely friend has been advised to do just that, get onto a high quality mineral supplement and add in a few extra needed minerals in higher doses.

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Can the ‘Diet’ Drinks They’re Making You Fat!

Posted on March 2, 2008. Filed under: health, weightloss, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

sweeteners“TO LOSE weight, bin the diet cola. That’s the message from studies showing rats got fatter on diets containing artificial sweeteners than on those with sugar.

Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, gave rats set amounts of yogurt sweetened with either sucrose or saccharin, plus an unrestricted supply of ordinary rat food and water. Five weeks later, the saccharin-fed rats had eaten more food, gained more weight and put on more body fat than the others.

There’s something about diet foods that changes your metabolic limit, your brain chemistry,” said ABC News’ medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard. Though Savard said more research needs to be done to uncover more information, the study does hint at the idea that the sweeteners alter a person’s metabolism.

Savard said another recent study, which included more than 18,000 people, found healthy adults who consumed at least one diet drink a day could increase their chance for weight gain.

Because so many foods today contain artificial sweeteners, the study results may go beyond diet drinks.

“The truth is, we’re putting artificial sweetener in so many different things in water, in yogurt,” Savard said. It’s unclear if the results only adhere to diet sodas, she said.

“We have to rethink what this artificial stuff does to us. If we put this in water it might not be so good,” she added.”

(Behavioural Neuroscience)

I have long held the belief that artificial sweeteners in all their forms are bad for you and finally here’s the proof. Well at least the beginning, there has been lots of anecdotal evidence for years about artificial sweetener and I am glad that science is finally catching up. Not only does much of the anecdotal evidence point towards sweeteners making you fatter, it also points toward speeding you towards diabetes, giving you migraines, neurological damage and even heart arrhythmias.

At least we know sugar doesn’t do that. Here’s a thought, perhaps it might be a good idea to retrain our taste buds to like wholesome foods again and cut down on the sweet foods. Check out my recommended lifestyle eating plan in my eBook: “A Rainbow On My Plate” on the website in the sidebar to your right.

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Why Meditate?

Posted on March 1, 2008. Filed under: Fitness, health, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , |

zen stonesWhen you hear the word meditation, what comes to your mind? Sitting cross-legged in a pose that’s sole purpose is to give you cramps? Yogis calmly hovering ½ a metre off the floor?  Mysticism?  The sounds of a sitar?  Clouds of saccharine sweet incense?  Chanting? Blanking your mind?

Forget the trimmings.  Meditation is easy, it isn’t difficult to learn or practice, and CEO’s of large companies are doing it daily.  

Okay, but why do it?  Surely my life has enough demands without trying to find time for this exotic practice? 

Maybe not.  Consider this:

Meditation quiets the mind: It can take you from a very stressed unfocussed state to a calm, focused and clear state of thought. The breathing and mind training that comes with a daily meditation practice slows the brain waves from their usual anxious rhythms to a calmer state called ‘flow’. This increases concentration, memory and creates a feeling of well-being that encourages creativity, initiative and success.

Meditation is good for your heart: Scientific research has proven that it can lower your blood pressure, reduce your heart size, normalize an irregular heart-beat, reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease by as much as 11%. (Stroke 2000 31:568-573)

Meditation Strengthens the Immune System: It has been shown to significantly increase the number of ‘Helper’ cells which kill bacteria and cancer cells. A study conducted over several years translated into fewer doctor visits and over 50% less hospitalization for meditators than for non-meditators.

Meditation Increases Vitality: It has been shown to reduce chronic pain levels (including back pain and certain types of cancer-related pain).  Can help control levels of damaging cortisol (a stress hormone), and may even help prevent anxiety attacks.  Meditation’s deep relaxation can boost energy and zest for life

Interested?  Then consider these possibilities.

Meditation is Basically Refined Focusing

Meditation involves directing your attention onto one specific thing and keeping that focus, if your mind strays then all you do it bring your attention back to the thing you decided to focus on. There are many things to focus on and many ways to practice meditation, so you never need be bored.

Some common ways include:

§         Focusing on what you are feeling or thinking about in the moment

§         Focusing on a word (mantra, chant) this doesn’t have to be a Hindu or Buddhist mantra it can be something you have decided on yourself

§         Focusing on an object: candle, mirror, leaf, or just a spot on the wall

§         Focusing on a sound: music, drum beat, a guided meditation (the voice of the guide), or a special CD designed to slow your brain rhythms

§         Focusing on body movement: yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, walking, running, rowing, (this is often called ‘being in the flow)

§         Focusing on your breath, or counting or a visualization

There is nothing more to it than that, and this kind of daily practice has so many benefits not the least of which is relaxing you in body and mind, energizing you and often catalyzing your thoughts. There is no wrong way to do it, no way to be unsuccessful, no matter what you have heard.

Ready to give it a go?

Here is one of the simplest and most common practices:

Sit comfortably in a chair (do not lie down you might go to sleep).

Close your eyes.

Now just focus on your breath as it comes in and out of your nose. Feel the feeling of your breath and hear the sound of your breath as it gently and slowly comes in and out of your nose.

If your focus strays (and it will), then just gently bring it back to your focus.

Continue in this way for about 10 to 15 minutes.

How easy was that?

Did you know that 20 minutes of meditation has been said to be as good as 20 hours of sleep? I highly recommend doing this practice just before bed, and if you can’t sleep for any reason, I recommend sitting up in bed and doing it again, no matter what time of night.

15 to 20 minutes first thing in the morning has the added benefit of giving a spring in your step and setting you up to start the day right. Try it and see.

Be Fit! Be Well! …do it online.

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Do You Know Butter Is Better?

Posted on February 28, 2008. Filed under: wellbeing | Tags: , , , , |

Last year my son had to do an assignment on health and after having me tell him for years that eating butter was much healthier than margarine, no matter what everyone else believed, he decided to do his assignment on this subject.

Much to the surprise of his teacher, this is what we found out…

DO YOU KNOW…the difference between margarine and butter?

 You will be as amazed as my son’s teacher, just keep on reading.

butterFirst of all, both butter and margerine have the same amount of calories.

Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams.

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.

Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.

Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and this is only because they are added!

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.

Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

And now, for Margarine..

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings.

Very high in trans fatty acids.

Triple risk of coronary heart disease.

Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.

Lowers quality of breast milk.

Decreases immune response.

Decreases insulin response.

Ok, I bet you think that’s the worst but and here’s the most disturbing fact….

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC..

This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

You can try this yourself:

Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of things:

* no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)

* it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Share this with your family and friends…..if you want to “butter them up”!

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Diet Drinks Linked to Heart Disease and Insulin Resistance

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: Fitness, health, weightloss, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , |

Eating two or more servings a day of red meat increases your risk of metabolic syndrome by 25 percent, compared to those who have two servings of red meat each week, a new study found.

Drinking diet soda also increased the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors such as excessive fat around your waist, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, all of which can raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers examined the diets of over 9,500 people between the ages of 45 and 64. They were categorized into two groups: a “western-pattern diet” that included processed meat, fried foods and red meat, or a “prudent-pattern diet” that included more fruits and vegetables, poultry and fish.

They concluded that lots of meat, fried foods and diet soda increase your risk of heart disease.

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Tighten Up that Rear!

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: Fitness, health, weightloss, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , |

Lunges are one of the best ways to tighten and tone your backside and legs. And, you can do them just about anywhere.Start by taking a large stride forward, and place your front foot flat on the floor. Balance on the ball of the back foot. Keeping abs tight and your back straight, bend your knees and lower until the back knee is just off the floor. Keeping your back straight, come up by putting weight on your front heel and squeezing your buttocks. Repeat on the other side, taking the time to maintain good form. To do a proper forward lunge that minimizes the risk of hurting your knees and back, make sure you don’t allow your knee to move in front of the supporting foot. Start with a few slow lunges on either side, gradually building up to 15 to 20 lunges on each leg. Your jeans never looked so good!

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