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By Layla Parker –

Are you planning to start the keto diet and get that rocking body in time for summer? While going low-carb is an excellent way to burn fat efficiently, it’s not the easiest. This diet isn’t just about cutting out bread and ice cream from your meal plans! There will be a couple of obstacles you’ll run into, which results in slow to no visible results at all. That’s why it’s crucial to take note of what to follow and different low-carb diet mistakes to avoid.

Do you feel stuck on a plateau despite feeling the signs and symptoms of ketosis? Then you might want to see if you’re committing any of these low-carb diet mistakes!

9 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

From expecting results too quickly down to overindulging in the wrong foods, here are the nine most common and overlooked low-carb diet mistakes you might have been doing:

  1. Skipping on Vegetables

Vegetables contain carbs, but that doesn’t mean you should make it an excuse to remove them from your diet! Many low-carb dieters complain about not feeling the best, and it turns out they aren’t getting enough fruits or vegetables.

Non-starchy vegetables are filled with required vitamins and minerals to sustain our bodies during the diet. While you should be wary of starchy vegetables such as potatoes, start adding more dark leafy greens on your plate. Bell peppers, spinach, kale, zucchinis, broccoli, and cauliflowers are a must to any diet!

  1. Eating Too Many “Allowed” Foods

Just because you’re going low-carb doesn’t mean you can overindulge on food like bacon and cheese! Just like my advice on consuming vegetables, the diet isn’t an excuse to eat fatty food. Not only does overconsuming fatty meat and processed oils have health risks, but it can also cause weight gain from the calorie overload!

Be wary of your health rather than going all out on fat and protein.

  1. Not Planning Well Enough

This is one mistake I’ve always been guilty of when beginning a diet. If you’re unable to create that concrete meal and exercise plan, it will be difficult keeping up with the diet and expecting good results.

If you’re new to the diet, there’s no doubt that you may run into old eating habits which can hinder your progress. I recommend that you sit down and take the time to reconsider your habits, make plans on changing SLOWLY, and plan. This is where meal-planning can help. That way, you have keto-friendly food ready and won’t be tempted to go to the nearest drive-thru.

  1. Always Consuming “Low-Carb” Packaged Food

Low-carb ice cream, frozen dinners, or meal replacement bars might seem like a quick way to get into ketosis. However, be wary of these packaged goods, as they contain preservatives and ingredients like maltitol, which is just as bad as sugar!

Like mentioned, focus on both health and fitness when losing weight. It’s much better to get your calories from whole foods rather than these go-to foods.

  1. Not Exercising Enough

While you can lose weight without exercise, having a consistent workout routine can have you reach goals even quicker and at a healthy pace. After all, exercise has a ton of health benefits besides burning calories.

  1. Not Getting Enough Sleep

While sleep doesn’t directly affect your weight loss goals, it impacts your energy and appetite. Without enough sleep, you won’t have much energy to exercise and focus. Plus, it can cause imbalanced insulin levels, which leaves you with an increased appetite, craving for sugar!

When you begin the keto diet, make sure to adjust bad sleep schedules and have about seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

  1. Depriving Yourself

While there’s such a thing as overindulging on fat and protein, depriving yourself of carbs and protein is just as bad. When you deprive yourself of the food you like, you end up craving for them over time. This can lead to you going back to your old eating habits. I can’t tell you how many times I went through the horrid cycle of deprivation, craving, binging, feeling guilty, then restarting again.

So instead of restriction, give yourself a little treat a day, or whenever you crave for it. You can also make your desserts and carb-rich meals keto-friendly with the right ingredient substitutions.

  1. You Don’t Know Your Macros

The point of the low-carb diet is to count your macros rather than calories (while still being wary of how much you eat). If you aren’t knowledgeable about how much carbs, protein, and fat you should eat, then you’re not going to reach your goals efficiently.

Don’t only look into carbs. Make sure that you distribute your calories efficiently, consuming low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat while focusing on healthy choices.

  1. Are You Getting Enough Sodium?

Last but not the least, make sure that you replenish the sodium lost from going into the low-carb diet. One of the main reasons why you suffer from the keto flu is because of not getting enough sodium. With that being said, you can have broth or add salt to your food each day.

Wrapping It Up

Do you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences when following a low-carb diet? Our comment section is open; we would love to hear your stories and suggestions!

Layla is a writer at Howtonight.com – a lifestyle blog which focuses mostly on health and nutrition but they also publish articles related to pets, travel, and entertainment. 

The post The 9 Low-Carb Diet Mistakes You Need to Watch Out For (Number 1 is Surprising!) appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Pauline Okeeffe—

Picnics and parties on the patio; that is what summer is all about! But first slather on sun screen and then what about all those biting bugs? What is the best way to keep them at bay? Perhaps a citronella candle will do the trick—or will it? How about trying something natural like peppermint to avoid dousing yourself in DEET? 

New warnings from the CDC strongly suggest being proactive to protect against mosquito-borne illnesses. The Vital Signs report published by the CDC last month states recorded cases of vector-borne diseases have more than tripled nationwide, citing worldwide travel becoming more commonplace as a contributing factor. Cases of Triple E and West Nile are already being reported this season. Thankfully there are many repellent options to select from for protection. 

DEET, undoubtedly an effective solution, can be sticky, have an unpleasant odor and must be reapplied regularly to maintain effectiveness. There are many botanicals repellents to consider that include “natural” ingredients. Commonly known options such as lemon grass, peppermint, rosemany and geraniol would fall into this category but these items are not registered with the EPA as they are deemed natural. Also, “Consumer Reports testing has repeatedly found that they don’t work well*.” Consumer Reports also found that citronella candles, sonic repellents and wristbands are ineffective at keeping mosquitoes away.

Read the label … for active ingredients

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the use of products containing active ingredients that have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These products have brand names that consumers recognize such as OFF, Cutter, and Thermacell — an area repellent that is quite effective and gaining popularity. Area repellents are a good solution for those who prefer not to use topical repellents. When the EPA registers a repellent, it evaluates the product for efficacy as well as potential effects on human beings and the environment. Repellents registered with the EPA have demonstrated a high degree of efficacy and contain active ingredients such as: 

  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus [p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)]: is a plant-based repellent. In two recent scientific publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the US, it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.
  • Picaridin: (KBR 3023) forms a barrier on your skin, which blocks an insect’s ability to locate humans. Picaridin was tested against mosquitoes, flies and ticks in both field studies and in laboratory cage tests. Picaridin provides equal or longer protection than identical concentrations of DEET.  
  • Pyrethroids: a synthetic analog of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers that is odor-free and is an alternative to lotions and sprays that must be applied to skin. Pyrethroids are area repellents that are dispersed into the air and effectively ward-off  mosquitoes, black flies, and no-see-ums, used in products such as Thermacell. 
  • DEET: (N-diethyl-m-toluamide). Repellents containing DEET are safe for adults and children when used according to directions. Don’t put repellents with DEET on kids’ hands because it may get in their eyes or mouth. The CDC warns: Use these repellents carefully as DEET in high concentrations may be harmful.
  • Permethrin: a cousin to Pyrethroids, is recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other arthropods and retains this effect after repeated laundering. Permethrin is not to be used directly on the skin. 

What repellent should be used when?

Hiking, biking or walking in cooler weather

Applying permethrin to your clothing ahead of time will provide protection.

Enjoying the patio, at a campsite or spectator sport; gardening at dusk or dawn

Area repellents, such as Thermacell products, provide hours of protection, are highly portable and create a 15 x 15 ft zone of protection. Product options found at www.thermacell.com.

Playing a sport at dusk or dawn

For many hours outside (over 3-4 hours) and/or when biting is very intense—look for a repellent containing more than 20% DEET. 

Helpful Tips

  • Even if you’re going outside for only 10 minutes, use a repellent —that’s long enough to get bitten.
  • Products with more than 50% DEET DO NOT offer additional protection.
  • For shorter periods of time, repellents containing less than 20% DEET, a repellent with 7% picaridin, or a product containing oil of lemon eucalyptus may provide adequate protection.

*Consumer Reports May 2018
*CDC 

The post Mosquito Repellent Has Become a Summer Essential appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Penny Carter—

We all tend to sleep in the position we find most comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with that. But are you aware of the ways different sleeping positions can effect your health?

The thing is, some people are unsuited to certain sleeping positions and these should be avoided. The wrong sleeping position can have serious implications for your health and could be the reason behind your constant back or neck pain, stomach problems, and even wrinkles.

In this article, we’re sharing the best and worst sleeping positions, how they affect your health, which pillow is suitable for it, and which ones you might want to avoid.

Let’s get started…

1) Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back is one of the best possible positions for your health and it has minimum downsides as compared to other positions.

In this position, your arms are kept by either side and your head straight.

Advantages of Sleeping on the Back:

  • Prevents neck and back pain – in this position, your body maintains a neutral position for your head, neck, and spine.
  • Reduces acid reflux – since your head is elevated above your stomach, it prevents acid  moving up into your esophagus and reduces symptoms of acid reflux disease.
  • Minimizes wrinkles– Back sleeping also helps you in minimizing premature wrinkles as nothing is pressed against your face

Disadvantages of Sleeping on the Back:

  • Snoring – People sleeping on their back are more likely to snore.

2) Sleeping on your side

The next most healthy position is sleeping on your side. Here the person falls asleep on one of their sides laying on their respective arm or hand.

This position is much acceptable by a major group of sleepers.

Advantages of sleeping on your side:

  • Reduces snoring – Sleeping on the side reduce the chances of snoring by elongating your spine.
  • Reduces acid reflux – Similar to the back sleeping, the head is kept above the stomach which reduces acid reflux.

Disadvantages of side:

  • Muscle cramps – sleeping on your side can sometimes cause nerve compression in your arms and legs because of the constant pressure

3) Fetal Position

According to a popular survey done by Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service in London, around 41% of people prefer to sleep in the fetal position.

Here the individual sleeps on their side with their knees curled toward their body.

More than the benefits, the fetal position does more harm to your body. As discussed below,

Disadvantages of Sleeping in Fetal Position:

  • Can increases joint pain – Since, your knees are bent for quite a long time during the night, it might increase arthritic pain. Also, your neck and spine are vulnerable to posture.
  • Restricts diaphragmatic breathing

Advantages of sleeping in the fetal position:

  • Your head and neck are supported in a neutral position.

4) Sleeping on your stomach 

This might come as a big shock to you, but sleeping on your stomach is possibly the worst sleeping position for you.

Unless you are a loud snorer and don’t suffer any neck or back pain, you should avoid sleeping on your stomach.

Disadvantages of Sleeping on Your Stomach:

  • Difficult to maintain a neutral spine position
  • Pressure on joints and muscles – Sleeping on your stomach puts a high pressure on your joints and muscles. It could lead to pain, numbness, and tingling. Also, it can irritate nerves sometimes.
  • Neck pain – constant incorrect head position followed in stomach sleeping position may lead to neck pain.

Final Words

If you’re suffering from poor quality sleep then it’s worth considering your sleeping position. If you need to change positions then you can look into position pillows that can help you adjust to a new way of sleeping. 

Penny Carter is a sleep-obsessed student of marketing and finance. In her spare time she enjoys watching the Lakers, music festivals  and writing about anything related to sleep, beauty and technology. She writes regularly at SleepGadgets.io

The post Which Sleeping Positions Are Best and Worst For Your Health? appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Erin Chamerlik –

My friend Ann was taking pain medication daily for chronic headaches. She had seen a chiropractor, acupuncturist, physical therapist and medical doctor but could not get relief. In addition to headaches, Ann was diagnosed with eczema and fibromyalgia. She suffered from anxiety, depression, muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, and had difficulty with concentration.

“I had already made an appointment to see a brain surgeon for my headaches, but Erin encouraged me to try an elimination diet first.” Ann shared.

Within a week she felt like a new person.

“I had more energy, and no more brain fog. I was amazed at how my mood had improved. I felt so happy.”

Every aspect of Ann’s health improved and she felt like a new person.

A few years have passed and I checked in with Ann to see how she was feeling. Here is the update from Ann:

“I’ve been able to get off of depression and anxiety meds and the purple pill. The help that you gave me through the elimination diet really gave me my life back. That’s when I decided to go back to school and get my Associates degree. I could actually think again. It sounds strange, but changing my diet set my life on a completely different path. It is amazing what you can do when your brain and body are not fighting against you, but are functioning the way God intended them to.”

What is an Elimination Diet?

The Elimination Diet is a systematic removal of certain foods that may cause unwanted reactions including inflammation.  It is a low-cost effective way to quickly improve the quality of life.

How Does the Elimination Diet Work?

Certain foods are removed from the diet for a period of 4 weeks.

The challenge phase reintroduces certain foods one at a time over the next few weeks.

Ann discovered that she had reactions to gluten (the protein in wheat, barley and rye), corn, soy, sugar, and common vegetable oils.

The foods that are typically removed during the elimination diet include:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Processed foods, artificial sweeteners, Natural/Artificial Flavors
  • Peanuts
  • Alcohol
  • Sugars
  • Refined vegetable oils

What Foods Can Be Eaten During the Elimination Diet?

While the name, The Elimination Diet, seems restrictive and boring it is very enjoyable and delicious. It is a nutrient dense eating plan that exchanges empty-calorie foods for wholesome foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed.

These foods support the healing process of the body by providing the nutrients that are required to restore and build health.

Traditional foods are eaten as three meals with a snack or two if desired. The meals include quality protein, healthy fats, and vegetables, with some optional fruit, seeds and nuts.

Quality protein sources include grass-fed meat, wild-caught seafood, pasture-raised poultry and eggs.

Healthy fats to consume include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee, olives, nuts, and avocados.

Eating foods that are pure and simple will calm the mind and body while providing the nutrients needed to support healing.

This nutrient-dense eating plan then becomes a lifestyle choice for most people because they enjoy their new level of health and vitality.

Can The Elimination Diet help you? Contact Erin for a free 20 minute chat.

Erin Chamerlik, MS. is a health and nutrition educator located in Nashville, TN. You can connect with Erin by visiting GetBetterWellness.com

The post The Surprising Power of a Nutrient-Dense Diet appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Caitlin Evans—

The quest for the Fountain of Youth – it’s a tale as old as humanity itself. But, living and aging in the modern day, we’re not after myths and poetic tales. We rely on the amazing breakthroughs of science and technology to help us understand the process of aging. Our hopes are realistic: we want to age in a healthy manner and use all the possible resources to improve our wellbeing. That is the idea behind anti-aging supplements. (Feature Image Source: unsplash.com)

However, modern-day enlightenment doesn’t mean we don’t have any more myths. In reality, some supplements are proven to work when paired with a healthy lifestyle, some are somewhere in between, and others make only bold claims but don’t do much. So, let’s have a look at what’s what. 

DHEA supplements

Source: pixabay.com

The body naturally produces the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) in the adrenal glands, gonads, and the brain. It has numerous biological functions, but because levels of DHEA naturally begin to decline after the age of 30, the changes that occur with aging have become associated with its lowered production. That’s why there are numerous DHEA supplements lining the shelves as anti-aging products that will improve sex drive, prevent age-related illnesses, help build muscle, increase energy, etc. But there’s no proof to those claims at all. Moreover, side effects include facial hair growth in women and heart palpitations. At best, these supplements do nothing. 

Intravenous vitamin infusion

Source: freepik.com

A high concentration of vitamins taken intravenously for better absorption surely can’t hurt, right? Well, there’s really no reason to do something like that unless you have a condition that decreases nutrient absorption. This is obviously an extreme measure and it might sound tempting as a quick health boost, but like all extreme measures, it comes down to this: if you don’t have a condition that makes it absolutely necessary, don’t resort to the extremes for a quick fix. Normal supplementation and a healthy diet are still the best way to get your vitamins. 

Ginkgo

Source: freepik.com

The extract of the Ginkgo biloba leaf is a very common supplement used to improve memory and concentration, and it can even reduce symptoms of anxiety if taken continuously. Because of its positive effect on cognitive function, Ginkgo is now also touted as an anti-aging supplement that can help treat various types of dementia. Most clinical trials show that it can help with symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia, but the results also suggest it’s not entirely clear which types of patients will benefit from it. Further research is needed, but it is a hopeful candidate. While it may help improve mental function in healthy adults, unfortunately, there is no evidence that ginkgo extract can prevent dementia from developing. 

Nicotinamide Mononucleotide 

Source: pixabay.com

This is where things are getting exciting and scientific journals are buzzing about the possibility of regenerating healthy cells in old age. Scientists are researching the effect of the molecule nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which is a derivative of Vitamin B3, and its crucial role in preventing cellular degeneration. Research points to the lack of this molecule in our bodies after the age of 50 likely being the actual cause of the symptoms of aging. Relying on the latest findings, the newest anti-aging pills are developed as mitochondrial supplements to promote healthy aging, optimal mental cognition, enhanced energy, and healthy responses to physical and mental fatigue. These are possibly the most effective and promising anti-aging pills yet. 

The essentials

Source: freepik.com

On the more modest side, although not as exciting as NMN research which relates directly to aging, there are the common vitamins and supplements. They’re not promoted as anti-aging specifically but they’re ingredients which we always need and which are especially important after the age of 50 to promote wellbeing. This includes vitamin D for bone loss, magnesium to improve sleep, probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids (which can be especially difficult to obtain through diet). Taken continuously and combined with a healthy lifestyle, they’re proven to work and are beneficial for the 50+ demographic. Of course, all other vitamins and nutrients are important as well, and if it’s difficult for you to get them through your diet, supplementation will provide the necessary balance. 

It is true – you can be healthier and stronger at the age of 50 than you were at 30. In fact, many people are, because they start taking care of themselves much better than they used to when they were young. We’re lucky to have all the knowledge and supplements available to help us age beautifully. But it’s important to be wary of all that’s out there and stay updated constantly to avoid the stuff that doesn’t hold much evidence. Hopefully, this article gives some insight. 

The post Anti-Aging Supplements: Claims Against Reality appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Relax Like A Boss

In today’s world, we’re all affected by stress. But why do we feel stressed? And what can we do to reduce it?

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about stress – and what you’re about to learn might surprise you!

1. What Is Stress?

Whilst stress still affects many of us, our stress levels are declining overall, especially in the US. However, it’s something everyone faces at some point in their life.

Stress can be described as:

“Emotional or mental tension in response to a stressor (e.g. work, school, relationship problems).”

According to CBS News, the average stress level surveyed among Americans is 4.9 on a scale of 10. 22% of individuals even mentioned that they aren’t putting enough effort into managing their stress. In regard to these statistics, this tells us that many of us still struggle with the everyday effects of stress.

2. What Are The Symptoms Of Stress?

In the modern world, normal levels of stress are virtually inevitable, but there is a balance that has to be maintained.

Stress comes in a variety of different forms and it affects everyone differently.

However, too much stress can cause physical and emotional harm. It can also interfere with our social lives, especially if it’s not managed effectively.

2.1. Physical Effects Of Stress.
  • Frequent headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle tension or weakness
  • Reduced libido
  • Digestive troubles (e.g. diarrhoea, constipation, stomach pain)
  • Reduced energy
  • High blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing/whooshing/clicking)
  • Decreased immunity
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations
  • Bingeing or eating less
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
2.2. Emotional Effects Of Stress.
  • Decreased interest in activities or people
  • Agitation and frequently snapping
  • Moodiness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative mindset
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Hopelessness or loss of control
2.3. Social Effects Of Stress.

The emotional and physical symptoms of stress can be unpleasant.

If you’re struggling with stress, you may find yourself drawing away from others, getting into frequent arguments with family or friends, or falling behind in work/school.

Unfortunately, stress can have an impact not just on your health and emotions, but also on your everyday decisions too.

In fact, one-fifth of individuals hesitated to go to the doctor when health problems arose because of financial worries.

3. Why Do We Feel Stressed? 3.1. ​Leading Causes Of Stress.

According to one survey, one of the leading causes of stress is due to money.

In fact, 64-percent Americans worry about their current financial situation. That can come down to their annual income, bankruptcy, bills or taxes, debt, or sudden emergency expenses.

A survey also found that about a third of adults faced relationship problems due to financial stress.

​3.2. Other Causes Of Stress.
  • Dealing with the death of a loved one
  • Being unhappy with a current job, relationship, or home situation
  • Too much work and little/no play
  • Poor time management
  • Strict expectations for yourself or from others
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • No support from loved ones
  • Divorce, breakup, separation, or other relationship tension
  • Dealing with discrimination, harassment, or bullying
  • Unresolved conflicts or past regrets
  • Pregnancy or the new arrival of a child
  • Health complications or the declining health of a loved one
  • Mental, emotional, behavioural, or learning disabilities
  • Loss of a job or unemployment
  • Major upcoming life events e.g. court, wedding, new job)
4. Benefits Of Stress. ​​​​4.1. Positive Stress.

Stress can actually be healthy in small amounts.

This is known as ‘positive stress’.

…And it can arise from situations you might feel excited about: weddings, pregnancy etc.

Depending on someone’s lifestyle and personality type, some may have little to no symptoms of acute stress even when placed in difficult situations.

Sometimes these individuals are referred to as having a Type B (laid-back) personality or Type H (motivated yet stress-hardy).

Even for Type A (high-strung, easily-stressed) individuals, there are benefits to healthy levels of stress…

4.2. Enhanced Memory.

Studies have shown that stress may reduce recall memory (e.g. people’s names, certain words, dates) but may enhance short-term and immediate recall memory.

Note: It’s important to note that ‘Chronic Stress’ can actually cause short – and long-term – memory decline. it can even cause issues with memorizing information in the first place.

This study explains how and why this happens.

4.3. Motivation.

Stress can cause higher levels of motivation.

When someone is mild to moderately stressed, they are more likely to take action to reduce their stress.

Here’s an example:

If someone has mild stress regarding an upcoming exam, they are more likely to study as they exert worry towards their performance.

Therefore, they’re more likely get a successful score.

4.4. Resilience.

Individuals who go through occasional stress may also find that they become more resilient overtime. Stress can create resilience both towards stress and its symptoms, as well as towards future stressors.

Many people find that after their stress about reaching a goal, they’re more confident in their own abilities once they’ve completed it. In some ways, mild stress helps us become stronger in the long-term.

Note: Stress can also make us more confident and improve our ability to adapt. Studies show that stress helps us to learn, grow, and appreciate the good times.

4.5. Caring For Others.

Stress can increase our empathy and compassion. This is especially true when we’re raising children, mending relationships, and helping others. Concern and stress play hand-in-hand.

Here’s a few examples:

  • If a parent feels stressed about their child’s academic performance, they’re more likely to support their child.
  • In relationships, stress creates the desire to change and improve the situation.
  • A student who feels a little stressed about their exams may be more likely to study harder and improve their results.

From these examples, we can see why some stress is important. It can cause us to think about others and to act selflessly.

However, there are also cases where individuals can exceed normal stress levels and actually draw away from others completely.

Balance is everything. Here’s why…

5. The Dangers Of Stress.

As too much of anything can cause problems, there are dangers of excessive and/or long-term stress…

5.1. Heart Problems.

Long-term stress is linked to cardiovascular disease as it can restrict the blood vessels. Due to the fight-or-flight response in stressed individuals, decreased oxygen (hyperventilation) can have an effect on the heart and even lungs as well. 

Highly-stressed or anxious individuals are also at an increased risk of a heart attack due to high blood pressure and weaker heart muscles, associated with heavy stress.

5.2. Anxiety.

Even for those who are not predisposed to anxiety, stress can act as an initiator of an acute or chronic anxiety disorder.

Excessive stress can also cause panic attacks. Panic attacks are intense periods of extreme fear, feelings of loss of control, and a series of physical ailments (e.g. chest tightness, breathing difficulties, pounding heart, nausea).

5.3. Digestion Problems.

Because stress causes a fight-or-flight response, digestion can either be halted, boosted, or both.

This article explains the link between stress and digestion problems in more detail.

This can result in not just occasional stomach aches and bathroom troubles – but also chronic digestive disorders such as:

  • GERD
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Colitis

Stress can also affect how your body breaks down food and absorbs nutrients based on numerous factors:

Poor diet, acid reflux, or overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.

A series of nutritional deficiencies whether due to malabsorption or from a finicky diet from stress can also arise. Nutritional deficiencies such as low magnesium can in turn cause a variety of symptoms from heart palpitations to muscle weakness.Additionally, low iron levels due to poor eating can initiate anemia.

5.4. Suppressed immunity.

For individuals who are chronically stressed, their immunity is reduced long-term. Because the bodies of stressed individuals are focused on keeping the individual safe. The body systems – including the immune system – temporarily go on “lock down” to give the individual energy to fight or escape if necessary. This means that they are more susceptible to everyday illnesses such as the common cold, poor wound healing, infections (e.g. yeast infections, sinus infections), or diseases.

5.5. Different Gene Expression.

Your metabolism and risks of cancer can all be influenced by chronic stress – and often not in your favour. Genes responsible for enzymes that assist in detoxifying the body can also be affected with chronic stress as well as a poor diet associated with such.

There is a branch of science called nutrigenomics that discusses the connection between diet and gene expression.

Here’s why:

Since stressed individuals are more likely to over/under-eat or turn to unhealthy foods, a poor diet alone can disrupt the genes you express. This may even act as a catalyst for conditions you a predisposed to.

6. How To Manage Stress.

It is possible to manage your stress levels, here’s how …

6.1. Change Your Mindset.

Mindset plays a significant role in our stress levels. This is because we can change our reaction to stress.

Source.

Sure, getting involved in a physical fight is a scenario where we’ll need a fight-or-flight response – and thus, stress.

However, situations such as needing to finish homework, babysitting for the day, or doing chores are ‘perceived stressors’.

…This means you can change your reaction to them.

It all comes down to how you view stressful situations:

If you teach yourself to enjoy chores rather than see them as annoying, you can train your brain to perceive chore-related tasks as less stressful.

This is called ‘stress response’.

You can associate positivity with a task or event. And as a result, the brain won’t see it as a stressor.

6.2. Exercise.

Getting a workout isn’t just good for the body. Exercise releases endorphins: feel-good chemicals.

As a result, better sleep, reduced stress and anxiety, and increased happiness can come out of a workout.

Just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise each day can benefit one’s stress levels. Additionally, working out is great for all systems and organs in the body.

With that said, this can improve the areas (e.g. heart, metabolism) that stress damages in the first place.

Try experimenting with different exercises, such as:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Walking
  • Running/jogging
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Dancing (e.g. zumba)
  • Biking
  • Kickboxing
  • Skiing
6.3. Take Time To Relax.  

Stress means that the brain and body are overstimulated. So allowing yourself downtime is important when dealing with stress. A high-strung, always-on-the-go lifestyle can increase stress levels and related symptoms.

Some ways you can relax include:

  • Taking a long bubble bath
  • Reading a good book
  • Watching your favorite movie
  • Walking the dog
  • Or sitting out in the yard and enjoying nature.
6.4. Meditate.  

Meditation is one empowering mental activity to spiritually bring yourself back down to equilibrium.

Meditating for just 10 to 15 minutes each day can help eliminate your stress and physical symptoms.

If you’re new to meditation, try it with a friend or a group.

There are also videos online or meditation CDs that can teach you how to meditate and guide you through the process.

7. Negative Ways To Manage Stress. 7.1. Ignoring The Problem.  

Some believe if they act like stress and its exasperaters don’t exist, things will resolve on their own.

While not dwelling on the things stressing you out may eliminate some tension, most stressors must be managed properly. Ignoring stress is an avoidant way of fixing a problem. And if you’re stress levels are high enough, this can hurt you in the long run.

That’s because neither the situation you are in nor how you deal with stress in general will improve.

7.2. Drinking & Smoking.  

Drinking, smoking, and general drug usage may all seem like adequate go-tos when dealing with stress. But not only do these substances harm your health, they can also lead to bad habits. Often this creates unhealthy habits long-term, and never really deals with the underlying problem.

7.3. Avoiding Others.  

Keeping away from loved ones is another negative way of coping with stress. Instead of mending problems with others or turning to others for emotional support, some push people out of their life. In worst case scenarios, stressed individuals may even consider ending relationships or avoiding friends in the process, only causing more stress in the long-run.

7.4. Dwelling On The Negative.  

A negative mindset when dealing with stress only exacerbates the pre-existing problem – as stress and emotions are related to one another.

When someone is already dealing with stress and falls into the trap of negative thinking, they are:

1) More likely to continue struggling with chronic stress.

And…

2) Less likely to take action to reduce their stress.

7.5. Emotional Eating.  

Emotional eating is a harmful habit that often worsens physical symptoms, stress levels, and can cause weight fluctuations. Emotional eating often consists of leaning towards rich, fatty, salty, and sugary foods as a way of comfort.

Source

However, the someone chooses food for dealing with stressful situations, the more they will rely on it for future problems.

This creates a stronger bond between emotional distress and food in the long run.

If you have difficulty eating under stress, consider the following:

  • Consult a doctor and ask for support.
  • Instead of three large meals, opt for several smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Consume meal replacement drinks (e.g. protein, smoothies) for the times you find difficulty eating solid foods.
  • Carry snacks with you. Try to eat a few bites here and there when you feel you can.
8. Tips For Managing Stress.

Learning how to manage stress now can really empower you in the future.

Here’s a few tips to get you started…

Source

8.1. Get Some Sleep.​

Try to aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Consider taking short naps as needed, as stress can drain the body quickly.

Never feel guilty for sleeping longer than usual. The body repairs itself while sleeping, and you need it more than ever when stressed.

8.2. Try Relaxation Techniques.  

Partaking in deep-breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques everyday can improve the effects of stress long-term.

I’ve actually created a list of my 15 favourite relaxation techniques here.

8.3. Keep A Stress Diary.  

Because stress is emotion-based, it can help to write down your frustrations, worries, and other thoughts in a diary.

This can be a physical diary or an online one. If you’re frustrated about a specific person, consider writing a letter in your diary to this person (without sending it, of course) to help give you peace of mind.

By doing this, you may discover a new perspective or improve your ability to manage the situation.

8.4. Learn How To Manage Your Time.  

Time management is an important part of maintaining a proper work-life balance. But sometimes, that’s easier said that done!

Source

So consider taking a time management course or consult a counsellor to help maintain a better balance in your life.

8.5. Say No To Unimportant Tasks.  

If your schedule or to-do list keeps stacking up higher than you can handle, something’s got to give.

If your emotional and mental health is on the line, it’s not selfish to turn away clients, refuse friends’ offers to hang out, or even put off household chores for a few days to catch the break you deserve.

8.6. Treat Yourself.  

After a long day of work, school, caring for children, or running errands, be sure you take the time to unwind afterwards.

Treating yourself to a small treat, a manicure, or some quality time with your friends, can really help to alleviate your stress.

8.7. Listen To Soft Music Or ASMR Videos.  

Especially before bed, listening to music or ASMR videos can be relaxing for the nerves and help you fall asleep.

However, it’s not recommended to listen to extremely relaxing music or sounds when driving or using machinery as they may cause drowsiness.

9. Stress Management FAQs. 9.1. How Do I Cope With Stress?​

It’s really important to try not to let stress overwhelm you.

Most stressful situations are out of our control, however, we can change our reaction to stressful situations.

Check out my guide here if you’re looking for ways to deal with stressful situations.

9.2. How Can I Make Stress..
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It’s not uncommon for news stories to be filled with tragedies, but recent stories have brought to light an alarming trend: the rise of suicides among older adults.

Sadly this past week both fashion designer Kate Spade and chef-turned-TV host Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.

Spade and Bourdain are individuals who have become part of a much larger epidemic. Now, it’s more important than ever to shed a light on mental illness and destigmatize the conversations around depression an anxiety. 

Anthony Bourdain

Kate Spade

Suicide has Become a Public Health Crisis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its Vital Signs Report, which noted that almost 45,000 Americans died by suicide in 2016. This was a higher number than opioid overdoses or car accidents. It also reported that there was a 30 percent increase in suicide rates between 1999 and 2016.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., said of the findings in the report.

She also noted that suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and one of three causes that is increasing (the others are drug overdose and Alzheimer’s). She said she finds the results “disturbing”, and that the increased rate of suicides is considered a public health crisis.

Suicide is On the Rise Among Middle-Age and Older Adults

The CDC report also found that women between the ages of 45 and 64 have the highest rate and that it could be related to financial and job-related stress.

While we can never know someone’s reasons for suicide, they are rarely caused by one single event or factor. They’re rarely spontaneous, and other contributing factors include substance abuse, legal problems, household stress and physical health issues.

Signs Someone Might be Contemplating Suicide

Whether or not someone makes it public knowledge that they suffer from a mental illness, there are a variety of signs you can watch for if you think someone is considering suicide. These include:

  • Increased substance abuse
  • Withdrawing from activities and people
  • Becoming usually angry or reckless
  • Experiencing more severe mood changes
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, lack of purpose, increased anxiety and/or guilt
  • Talking about suicide
  • Expressing ideas like “life isn’t worth living” or “everyone would be better off without me”
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Giving away valuable or treasured possessions
  • Changes to sleeping behaviors — either too much or too little
  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors
What to Do if You Suspect Someone is Considering Suicide*

If you suspect that a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide, there are many ways you can try to help.  Start by exploring what resources are available for people who are contemplating suicide. Whether it’s a hotline, access to a mental health professional, or getting into rehab or going to the hospital.

Though it can be challenging to start the conversation, it’s important to speak up and talk to the person about your concerns. Let them know you’re there for them without judgement and you just want to offer them help.

After you’ve spoken to your loved one, you need to assess the risk they pose to themselves. If they have a intent, a plan, means and/or a time frame for suicide, they may be at a higher risk of follow through. If this is the case, you will want to consider getting them to the hospital or calling an ambulance.

Seeking Help for Suicidal Thoughts

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please seek help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also reach out to a friend, family member, mental health professional or someone you trust to ask for help.

Disclaimer:

*I am not a mental health professional or a doctor. These are my own thoughts based on research and understanding. Please seek professional assistance if you or someone you know needs help.

The post The Rise of Suicides Among Older Adults appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Dr. Becky Campbell—

Did you know that there is a close connection between Vitamin D levels and thyroid function? One of the most effective sources of Vitamin D is sunlight. During the summer, the sun is shining stronger and longer throughout the day leaving you with more Vitamin D exposure.

Vitamin D is used to allow your thyroid hormone to function within the cell. One of the most important regions of the body affected by Vitamin D is the immune system. Research shows that 97% of thyroid issues are autoimmune in nature. Those with Vitamin D deficiency are at greater risk of developing an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Grave’s disease. Some symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency and thyroid disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weight Gain
  • Pain in Bones 

Here’s how to support your vitamin D levels during the other seasons when the sun is not shining as brightly and is setting earlier:

  • Supplement with magnesium since it is needed to help with Vitamin D absorption.
  • Try cod liver oil, it is loaded with vitamin D among other important nutrients.
  • Take a vitamin D supplement that also has vitamin K2 so that the vitamin D does not cause calcification in the soft tissue

Eat vitamin D rich foods like:

  • Cod liver oil – 1 tsp: 440 IU (over 100% DV)
  • Sardines – 3 ounces: 164 IU (41% DV)
  • Wild Caught Salmon – 3 ounces: 400 IU (100% DV)
  • Mackerel – 3 ounces: 400 IU (100% DV)
  • Wild Caught Tuna – 3 ounces: 228 IU (57% DV) 
  • Raw Milk – 1 cup: 98 IU (24% DV)
  • Caviar – 1 oz: 33 IU (8% DV)
  • Eggs Yolks – 1 large: 41 IU (10% DV)
  • Mushrooms – 1 cup: 2 IU (1% DV)

THE 30-DAY THYROID RESET will help you reclaim your life and your health. Dr. Campbell speaks from the heart and has truly poured her heart, soul, and experience into these pages to bring you a piece of medical literature that is not only effective, but that is also approachable, sustainable and tasty!

Dr. Becky Campbell is a board-certified doctor of natural medicine who was initially introduced to functional medicine as a patient. She struggled with many of the issues her patients struggle with today, and she has made it her mission to help patients all around the world with her virtual practice. Dr. Becky Campbell is the founder of Dr. Becky Campbell.com and author of “The 30-Day Thyroid Reset Plan.” She specializes in Hashimoto’s disease and hopes to help others regain their life as functional medicine helped her regain hers. 

The post Why Thyroid Sufferers May Feel Better in the Summer appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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By Susanne Mitschke—

We know that there are many activities which purport to reduce the risk of developing dementia, but how many of these are truly effective? Through a review of a collection of studies published in the journal Neurology, there were two general forms of exercise which stood out.

The review outlined that across both physical and cognitive activities, cardio and strength training proved most effective in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. There was a range of results, with cognitive activities such as reading and doing crossword puzzles reducing the risk by about 35% and 47% respectively. However, adults who exercised for about an hour, three times a week significantly improved their cognitive performance compared to those who did not. The benefits reaped by these participants included better processing speed and superior performance on tests that measure skills such as time management and attention span. 

So, why is cardio and strength training the best way to reduce the risk of developing dementia and to keep the brain young? Looked at in conjunction with similar studies, the conclusion seems to be that the more frequently you move, the healthier your brain will be, leading to greater brain volume and enhanced cognitive ability. Another key point highlighted across the studies was, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” In order to keep the grey matter in check, it is essential that you practice both cognitive and physical exercises regularly. 

It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin if you haven’t been exercising the brain regularly, but thankfully there is a wealth of tips and tricks freely available to help you make a start. You don’t have to follow a high intensity regimen to reap the cognitive benefits of exercising regularly, even across these studies, exercises such as gentle swimming, walking and gardening were found to boost cognitive abilities. 

However, we don’t have to stick to traditional means of enhancing our cognition. For the technologically-minded, there are many brain training and workout apps out there, specially tailored to seniors. Those can be enhanced with fitness-tracking devices, like watches and wristbands. AARP recently published a study showing the technical devices, such as smartphones and tablets are gaining popularity with boomers. According to AARP, 70% of those over 50 own and use a smartphone regularly and 62% regularly use their laptop. Currently, only 15% of boomers state to use health, fitness and wellness apps and and 24% of boomers say that they’re actively tracking their health and fitness with a technological device. 

Of course, technology can be very frustrating, intimidating and also intrusive – even for younger people. Nevertheless, there are many different benefits to include technology in ones everyday life. Apps, smart-watches and other devices can help everyone to keep up a daily routine and motivate you. Just think of reminders being pushed to your smartphone or smartwatch that motivate you to exercise! They are reminding you to get your 10,000 steps in and motivate you with trophies and medals to keep up the good work. Also, many devices do not only track your fitness goals (such as steps), but also your heart rate, or how many hours you’ve slept. In addition, users can share those data also with their families, whcích gives many loved-ones peace of mind. There are also other apps, where you can track your diet and calorie intake. Plus, if you want to eat more healthy, but can’t resist all those yummy temptations in your grocery store, just order your groceries online, with your laptop or smartphone and just pack healthy foods in your cart. Remember, it is never too late to make a lifestyle change and start exercising and follow a healthier diet! 

Dementia, and neurodegenerative conditions in general, is still the subject of ongoing research. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what is best for your health when there are so many contradicting opinions out there. However, the general rule of thumb seems to be that multipart lifestyle intervention, through diet, exercise and practising cognitive exercises, improves both physical and mental health. Taking a proactive approach to your health is vital throughout life, even more so as we approach our senior years, and one of the best things we can do to aid the process is to continue exercising both body and mind. Exercise is a great starting point to improve all aspects of health, both body and mind. Remember, even if it feels daunting, there are many tools out there to help kickstart healthy aging!

 

About the Author: 

Susanne Mitschke is the CEO of MindMate – an app that provides physical exercises, brain games and nutritional advice for the baby boomer generation. Susanne is an award-winning entrepreneur and has been named as Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018. 

The post Active Body, Active Mind? appeared first on LivingBetter50.

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