9 Sunscreen Booby Traps to Avoid

Think you know how to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s damaging rays? Think again. Skin cancer (read more about skin cancer) is the most common type of cancer, probably making up more than half of all diagnosed cases of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The good news is that about 90 percent of all skin cancers could be prevented by properly protecting yourself. Get your facts straight so you—and your family—can safely enjoy the great outdoors all year long.

4 big mistakes with big consequences:

Relying on sunscreen (or sunblock, or suntan lotion) for protection: Too many people think that using sunscreen will allow them to remain in the sun all day without burning. Experts agree: Using sunscreen isn’t enough. In addition to using the right sunscreen properly, shade yourself with a beach umbrella and wear closely woven brimmed hats and clothing (preferably made from fabric treated for UV protection). Don’t forget your eyes! Wearing wrap-around sunglasses with UV-screening lenses will help protect your precious peepers (read more on eye health).

During the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the UV light is strongest, try to avoid the sun altogether. Not watching the clock? The “shadow rule” can help: avoid the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are—that’s when the sun is strongest.

Using the wrong sunscreen: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are six main skin types, from very fair to black, and each has differing risks of enduring sun damage that can cause cancer.

Different skin types need sunscreens with varying SPF (sunburn protection factor) ratings. The American Academy of Dermatology advises, in general, choosing a sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Very fair people—who burn easily and often suffer bad sunburns—should choose higher SPF numbers such as 30 or 45. That doesn’t mean, as some people think, that they can use SPF 45 and stay in the sun 45 times longer than without sunscreen coverage. It’s estimated that SPF 45 provides only 3 to 4 percent more protection than a SPF 15.

According to Dr. Taylor, the founder of brownskin.net, an online dermatological resource for women of Asian, African, Latin, Native American, Pacific and other native descents, skin pigment, or melanin, in the “average” African American gives protection equivalent to SPF 13, but that brown- and black-skinned people should still use sunscreen with as least SPF 15. Think of it this way: although it’s not exactly additive, (SPF) 13 plus 15 equals 28, or close to (SPF) 30.

Using too little sunscreen: If you’re lucky, you might find 8-ounce bottles of sunscreen, but many of the products sold today contain only 4 ounces or less. For adequate coverage, an “average”-sized adult needs to use one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount that fills your palm or a shot glass) each time they apply it. Larger people will need more. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours. If you’re swimming or playing a sweaty sport, you need to apply it immediately after drying off.

When you do the math, you’ll quickly see that if sunscreen is applied correctly, one 8-ounce bottle shared by a few family members or friends won’t last past lunchtime, if that. The American Cancer Society (ACS) stresses the importance of applying sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going outside to let your skin absorb it. The ACS also recommends using sunscreen even on cloudy days. Also, use lip balm containing sunscreen.

Relying on only SPF numbers: Do you purchase sunscreen based only on SPF number listed on the bottle? Next time you’re shopping, you may want to take a closer look at the label. SPF only measures UVB (ultraviolet-B) radiation protection, not UVA (ultraviolet-A) protection. Both types of UV light lead to skin damage and cancer so it’s vital that sunscreens protect from UVA as well as UVB. Make sure the product specifies protection from both or says “broad-spectrum” on the label.

5 other sunscreen booby traps to know about:

Despite advertising claims, no sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” according to the FDA. “Water resistant” sunscreens must be reapplied after 40 minutes of sweaty activity or swimming.

As crazy as it sounds, certain sunscreen ingredients break down in sunlight!  Some ingredients also break down over time, the FDA says, and that deterioration may be speeded by sun exposure. So throw away last year’s bottles and keep your sunscreen in a shaded spot when outdoors. The Environmental Working Group, a public health advocacy organization, found that 54 percent of sunscreens contain ingredients that become unstable when exposed to light and might not offer the advertised protection. The group lists what it deems the “best” sunscreens here.

Don’t look for “sunblock.” The FDA states that no product completely blocks UV rays. “Sunscreen” is a more accurate term.

Watch out for human error and don’t be frugal with sun protection. “Most sunscreen users still get burned because they do not apply enough sunscreen to begin with,” Dr. Taylor says. Slather sunscreen on thickly, covering all exposed skin. Pay attention to the areas that usually get missed: ears, around the eyes, neck (all the way around!), hands, feet and toes.

Use sunscreen or wear long-sleeved clothing when driving, since side-window glass can let in UVA rays as can some windows in buildings. And remember that water, sand, concrete and snow all increase the reflection of sunlight, so put on more sunscreen and shorten your exposure time.

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7 Foods for Healthy Hair

You are what you eat, the old saying goes. Whether or not you think that pertains to the brain, nails, skin or hair, I suspect that what we put in our bodies affects all of these things. Simply put, food supplies your body with important nutrients to keep it running at its best.Â

For example, a few foods that have been shown to be beneficial to the brain are walnuts, omega-3 fats, blueberries, turmeric, barley and quinoa, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A low-carb Mediterranean diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, legumes, “good” fats and fish are thought to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.Â

And what about your hair? While there are many products on the market that can temporarily boost the look of your tresses, why not put some healthy ingredients into your body to go to work for—and protect— those 100,000 hairs on your head?Â

Here are some foods with hair-health benefits:

Healthy omega-3 fatty acids can foster hair growth and sheen. Your body is unable to manufacture these healthy fats on its own, so fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna can supply them. The American Heart Association advises eating two servings (3.5-ounce portions) of fatty fish per week. If you don’t eat seafood, omega-3s are also found in some nuts and seeds, such as flaxseeds, but it’s in a different form, so you may also want to talk with your health care provider about taking a supplement.Â

Greek yogurt is packed with protein, which is critical for keeping hair healthy. It also contains vitamin B5 (or pantothenic acid), which may help prevent hair thinning and loss. And while we’re on the subject of protein, make sure to get protein from foods like lean meat, chicken and turkey, which can protect against hair loss and promote growth and thickness. Eggs, milk and cheese are also considered complete protein sources. If you’re a vegetarian, find your protein in foods like quinoa, chickpeas and lentils.

Strawberries, citrus fruits and peppers. What do these have in common? They’re high in vitamin C, needed by your body to help produce protein. And since your body can’t make or store vitamin C, it’s important to include foods that contain this vitamin in your daily diet. Other sources include pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit and veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and leafy greens.

Iron-rich foods. Low iron can contribute to hair loss. Treat any deficiency with iron-rich foods like lean meat, turkey, whole grains, dried fruit, beans and egg yolks.

Biotin. This water-soluble B complex vitamin, also known as vitamin H, is found in small amounts in certain foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt, chicken and liver. Biotin helps to strengthen the keratin in the hair and nails and comes in different types of over-the-counter supplements. There is preliminary evidence that it may reduce hair loss caused by an autoimmune disease when biotin supplements are combined with zinc and a topical cream containing clobetasol propionate.Â

Sweet potatoes. Your body turns the antioxidant beta carotene into vitamin A, which in turn helps protect against dry or dull hair and encourages production of sebum (an oily fluid produced by the glands in your scalp that keeps your strands from drying out). Beta carotene, which gives veggies and fruit their rich colors, is also found in carrots, apricots, mangoes, asparagus, broccoli and kale.Â

Silica. In a study of women with temporary hair thinning, it was found that those who took the oral supplement silica experienced significant hair growth. Foods that contain this mineral include bananas, beer, oats and raisins.Â

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Help Heal Yourself With Yoga

As a college student, Julianna Blankenship began experiencing the unpleasant and distressing signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including abdominal cramping, diarrhea and frequently feeling as if she needed to use a bathroom. Julianna’s condition was long-lasting and possibly genetic—both her father and grandmother have IBS.

Doctors gave her medications to dry out her system, but the side effects created new agony. “I felt like I was replacing my symptoms with worse symptoms,” she says.

So Julianna looked for alternatives. She read online that researchers were exploring the role yoga—a mind-body practice of physical poses (asanas), breathing exercises and meditative thought—might play in improving IBS and other intestinal disorders. Using videos and a book about yoga, Julianna started learning basic poses at home.

“Within two days, I saw a difference,” she says. “The yoga restores the balance to my digestive system. I don’t know how it does it, but I can feel it physically.”

After three months of doing yoga, she felt well enough to stop taking medication. The only time she needed medicine again, she says, was when she let her yoga practice lapse due to long hours at work as a financial marketing specialist. Now Julianna, who is 25, practices regularly in her Rochester, Michigan, home.

“I still have symptoms from time to time, but they are markedly down when I do yoga. When I’m not doing yoga, I have symptoms 100 percent of the time,” she says. “If I do it at least three times a week, then I have little or no problem.”

Yoga’s benefits

Scientific investigation into how yoga might help IBS sufferers is still going on, but yoga has long been shown to help reduce stress, a major contributor to IBS symptoms. Yoga also lessens a***y and d***n, which can affect both emotional well-being and short- or long-term physical difficulties.

Does it make sense to roll out the mat the next time you have a health concern?

“Many research studies have shown that yoga is alleviating certain medical conditions,” says Kyeongra Yang, PhD, MPH, RN, an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She conducted a review that found yoga was effective in reducing body weight and other factors linked to diabetes.

“Yoga improves glucose and insulin levels, which is important in both types of diabetes,” Dr. Yang says. “Highblood pressure and cholesterol levels—common problems among people with type 2 diabetes—can be alleviated by practicing yoga.”

Other studies have turned up more good news about how yoga practice, even after only a short time, can benefit your health. There’s evidence that yoga can improve sleep, increase exercise endurance for those with heart conditions or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reduce pregnancy discomforts and lessen low back pain. It also has been shown to help breast cancer patients and survivors reduce fatigue and menopausal symptoms as well as improve emotions.

Yoga also may help prevent or manage cardiovascular disease, according to Kim “Karen” E. Innes, MSPH, PhD, an associate professor at The Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville.

Yet you don’t have to have a medical condition to reap gains from regular yoga sessions. “Yoga can improve physical function, balance and cardiopulmonary fitness in both healthy and chronically ill adults,” Dr. Innes says.

Although the mechanisms underlying yoga’s observed beneficial effects are not yet well understood, yoga likely influences health status in several ways, says Dr. Innes. For example, yoga may enhance both mental and physical health by effecting positive changes in emotional state, in nervous system balance and in brain chemistry and function, which in turn can lead to improvements in mood, sleep, physiological profiles and other measures of wellbeing. She adds that yoga can also lead to increased physical activity and overall fitness, promote social interaction (if taking classes), encourage healthy dietary choices and strengthen spiritual beliefs—all of which may directly or indirectly enhance and protect your health.

Less pain, more gain

Because yoga began in India thousands of years ago, doctors there are more accepting of its health benefits than are many in Western cultures. Mary Cosgrove, a human relations consultant and coach in Salt Lake City, faced resistance when she asked doctors about using yoga to help her heal from pain she suffered in a bike accident.

“My brakes locked up. I hit a post and fell,” says Mary, who was 50 at the time of the accident. The crash twisted the nerves and bones in her pelvic girdle. “I couldn’t sit for six months.”

Mary underwent physical therapy and shots for the pain, with little positive effect. When she raised the possibility of trying yoga, she says, “I got a lot of push-back from my doctors.” They were concerned that she would injure herself again—something that happened when she tried an “easy” aerobics class after the accident and ended up with plantar fasciitis, a heel pain problem.

Although her doctors didn’t support the idea, Mary started going to a “restorative yoga” class, designed for people with health problems. “It was very gentle. You lay in a pose for a period of time,” she says, explaining that foam blocks, bolsters and blankets were used to hold her body in the correct positions.

“It was like kindergarten nap time,” she says, with a laugh. The poses enabled her to begin moving the injured area. “I slowly started to get better,” she adds.

Yoga has been shown to help with musculoskeletal problems, and Mary found relief—both for the injury to her pelvic and hip area as well as for the heel pain. Yet she had to try several yoga teachers before finding one—a former dancer who had also suffered injury—who understood how to help her learn the poses safely.

Like Julianna, Mary finds that her pain returns if she lessens her yoga practice. She tries to take at least two classes each week.

“I feel like I’m resourceful now, whereas before I was so frustrated—it was medications and injections and one thing after another,” Mary says.

That appears to be a typical pattern. “If people are practicing yoga regularly,” Dr. Yang says, “we expect that their health conditions will improve and, thus, they will need fewer medications and have less complications.”

Before you begin

If you’re thinking of trying yoga to help with a health condition, consider these suggestions from Dr. Innes and Dr. Yang:

Consult with your health care provider about your interest in using yoga to help manage your condition.

Find an experienced yoga instructor who knows how to modify poses to make them safer and more accessible for you. Talk to the teacher before signing up for the class, to make sure that the sessions will fit your needs. Some instructors are specially trained in therapeutic yoga.

Many types of yoga have been shown to be beneficial at preventing and managing health problems. Choose a class that lets you start slowly and gently.

To avoid injury, pay attention to how your body feels during poses. Do not push yourself or try to compete with what others in the class are doing.

There’s no recommended frequency, but research shows effects from yoga with one-hour sessions, two or three times weekly, for eight to 12 weeks. Daily practice—even for just five minutes—is very helpful.

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Healthy Skin Dos and Don’ts

The key to healthy skin lies beyond which soap you use. It depends on what you eat, whether you exercise, how much stress you’re under and even the kind of environment in which you live and work.

All of these things affect how fast your skin ages, and thus how it will look, by influencing certain processes that lead to oxidation and inflammation. Sounds complicated, but it really is not.

Basically, complex chemical processes in your body produce unstable molecules called free radicals. Think of them as Skin Enemy No. 1. Left to their own devices, they go on to damage otherwise healthy cells in a process called oxidation. This is the same process that turns an apple brown or changes a copper roof from reddish gold to blue-green, so you can just imagine the way it can affect your skin. Sun, smoking, air pollution and poor diet all speed production of these free radicals.

Luckily, your body also produces antioxidants, molecules whose job it is to sweep up those free radicals before they can do any serious harm. How you take care of yourself—including what you eat—can increase production of these valuable molecules, literally saving your skin.

Nutrition and your skin

Women have been using foods as facial treatments for centuries, making masks of egg whites and olive oil, putting cucumbers over their eyes to reduce swelling. But did you know that the food you put in your mouth can affect the health of your skin more than anything you could put on your face?

Although studies find certain individual foods can help you maintain healthy skin, your overall diet—as well as your weight—matters most. For instance, if you’re overweight and/or you eat a diet high in processed foods, including white bread, cookies, ice cream and packaged dinners, and low in fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables, you have a higher risk of developing a condition called insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

In this condition, insulin, a hormone that “unlocks” the cell so glucose, or fuel, can get in, doesn’t work very well. Thus, all this glucose builds up in your bloodstream instead of disappearing into cells where it’s supposed to go. This, in turn, damages skin. How? By reacting with the protein fiber network (i.e., collagen and other proteins) that make skin resilient. This reaction creates harmful waste products called advanced glycosylation endproducts, or AGEs, those free radicals mentioned earlier. Fibers stiffen, skin loses it elasticity and you become more vulnerable to wrinkling, sagging and damage from ultraviolet (UV) light.

But eat a varied and nutritious diet, and it’s amazing what can happen to your skin. In one study, researchers from Monash University in Australia found people who ate the most fruits, vegetables and fish had the least amount of wrinkles. However, the researchers found, diets high in saturated fat, including meat, butter and full-fat dairy, as well as soft drinks, cakes, pastries and potatoes (called “high-glycemic” foods), increased the likelihood of skin wrinkling. Coincidentally, these high-glycemic foods are also implicated in insulin resistance.

So, if you want to follow a skin-healthy diet, make sure you pack your diet full of these nutrients:

Vitamins E and C. Studies find these vitamins can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, particularly in supplement form. Meanwhile, vitamin C is a valuable nutrient in collagen synthesis, the protein that helps hold skin together and give it tone. If you do supplement, don’t exceed 400 IU of vitamin E because it could increase the risk of bleeding. Best food sources: vegetable oils, margarine, eggs, fish, whole-grain cereals and dried beans for vitamin E; citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers and leafy green vegetables for vitamin C.

Essential fatty acids. Several studies find that the amount of poly- and monounsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet can minimize sun and aging damage to your skin. Best food sources: cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. For healthy mono fats, stick with olive oil and nuts.

Tea. Tea, particularly green tea, is an excellent source of antioxidants called polyphenols. That may be why one Arizona study found that the more hot tea people drank (particularly tea with lemon) the less likely they were to develop squamous cell skin cancer.

Vitamin A. Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin A forms the basis for a slew of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter skin products that contain retinoids. One study found a strong connection between vitamin A levels in the blood (an indicator of the amount in the diet) and skin dryness; the more vitamin A, the moister the skin. You shouldn’t supplement with vitamin A, and it’s hard to get enough via food, but it’s easy to get vitamin A’s precursor—beta-carotene—which is converted to vitamin A in your intestine. Best food sources: orange, red and yellow fruits; vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cantaloupe; and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.

Exercise and your skin

You know the glow your skin takes on after a brisk walk outside or a tough aerobics class? Generally, that’s related to perspiration, which is one way your body gets rid of toxins.

But exercise does much more than flush impurities out of your skin. It also promotes production of sebum, or oil, your skin’s natural moisturizer, and enhances blood flow to the skin. That’s important because blood carries oxygen and valuable nutrients that help maintain skin health.

Plus, regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight and keep insulin resistance at bay. Exercise is also an important way to manage stress. If you’re exercising outdoors, though, remember to protect your face and body from UVA and UVB rays by wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen protection. You don’t want to “undo” all the good of that workout.

The environment and your skin

If you’ve ever had to slather on the moisturizer after a cross-country airplane flight or suffered a breakout while visiting a large urban city, then you know firsthand the way the environment can affect your skin.

It’s never too late to quit smoking. Quit today, and your skin will show the health benefits tomorrow. Air pollution, the dry, recirculated air of an airplane, smoking and, of course, the sun are all enemies of skin health. They increase the production of free radicals, strip antioxidants from your skin and intensify the effects of aging. Smoking, for instance, constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the skin. It also depletes levels of valuable antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, increasing damage to the elastin, the elastic fibers in your skin that provide a healthy tone. Just the smoke curling up from the cigarette can damage skin as much as any other pollutant. In fact, studies find that people who smoke have significantly more wrinkles at an earlier age than those who don’t. Of course, the greatest damage to your skin occurs from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Over time, the sun, like smoking, damages elastin and collagen, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Most of the damage occurs in your childhood years—it just doesn’t show up until middle age.

And it’s not just soaking up the rays on the beach that does the damage. Simply sitting near a window, driving your car and walking outside also expose you to the harmful rays of the sun, and these are all activities in which you’re much less likely to wear sunscreen. No wonder, then, that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year. Overall, one in six Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. The reality is that there is no such thing as a healthy tan—unless it’s one that comes out of a bottle.

Five suncreen facts

The higher the SPF (sun protection factor) the better. That’s not only because of the increased protection higher SPF sunscreens provide, but because most people don’t use nearly enough to begin with. However, the SPF only indicates protection provided against UVB rays—not the invisible, ultraviolet-A rays that can also affect skin health and hasten the aging process. That’s why you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

The more the better. You need to apply at least a shot glass’s worth of sunscreen every couple of hours you’re in the sun. In fact, you should reapply your sunscreen every two to four hours. That means a six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should last just a couple of visits to the beach—not all summer.

UVB protection isn’t enough. Early versions of sunscreen only protected against UVB rays, but both UVB and UVA rays contribute to skin cancer. To find a sunscreen that protects against both, look for Parsol 1789, also called avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on the ingredients list. Stay posted for what dermatologists are calling the superpower of sunscreen protection—a chemical called mexoryl, which has an SPF of 60 and provides much greater protection against UVA rays than anything else on the market. Available in Europe and Australia, it is under consideration for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

SPF has nothing to do with how long you can stay in the sun. Studies find that people think the higher the SPF rating, the longer they can stay out in the sun. That’s simply not true. While higher numbered products (SPF-40, for example) do provide more protection, using sunscreen doesn’t prevent all the possible harmful effects of the sun. Plus, few people use sunscreen the right way—a full ounce every couple of hours; more if you’ve been swimming or sweating.

You need more than sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. You also need a hat, protective clothing and a time limit for your stay in the sun.

 

Article Source : Healthy Skin Dos and Don’ts

Meditation’s Health Benefits

Meditation can have big health benefits. Sitting alone in a quiet room might give you more than a peaceful moment to yourself. That pause in your day could also help

you reduce stress, ease a***ty, lower blood pressure, improve immune function or lift your mood. Such health changes may be possible through meditation, a centuries-

old spiritual practice that’s gaining attention in the 21st century for tangible, not mystical, reasons.

Although science and spirit seem unlikely partners, Western medicine is increasingly considering the benefits of using meditation in conjunction with traditional drugs

or other therapies to heal modern woes.

“A lot of hospitals have programs now as a complementary treatment for conditions,” says researcher Kimberly Williams, PhD, assistant professor in community medicine

at West Virginia University in Morgantown. Studies have found positive results for meditation’s use to support treatment for both physical and psychological ills, she

adds.

Yet meditation is no quick fix. It takes time to develop the technique, and you have to practice regularly.

What’s more, there are different types of meditation. All share certain traits, such as taking a comfortable position, focusing attention and ignoring distractions.

Among the various meditation approaches, the practice known as mindfulness meditation—sometimes simply called “mindfulness”—has emerged as the method gaining the

most notice for helping to improve health.

Achieving mindfulness

When we think of meditation, many of us still envision people meditating while repetitively murmuring a word like “om.” This mantra, or specific focus, is at the core

of concentration meditations. In these modes, distractions are mentally pushed away.

In mindfulness, or insight meditation, meditators focus awareness on their present experience without judging or ignoring distractions. They note their breathing and

physical sensations as well as random sounds, feelings and thoughts. “You just watch what arises…stay with it as long as it is there and let it go,” Dr. Williams says.

“The meditator can watch and keep that witnessing perspective.”

Science doesn’t yet know why this may provide health benefits, but it could be by creating changes in thenervous system and brain. By slowing down and taking a

nonjudgmental view of your thoughts and feelings, proponents say, you become more aware and open, creating greater balance. Mindfulness builds your inner resources,

allowing you to be calmer and more insightful when facing stress or difficulties.

In an eight-week mindfulness meditation training study conducted by Dr. Williams and her colleagues, participants who completed the course reported a 44 percent

reduction in psychological distress and a 46 percent lowering of medical symptoms.

“Mindfulness helps you be more present with your life, so you can make conscious choices and engage in all of your experiences in a more meaningful way,” says Shauna

L. Shapiro, PhD, assistant professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. “You’re training your mind to be more present.”

That sounds easier to do than it is, which is why it’s helpful to learn mindfulness meditation from a teacher or counselor. But does using mindfulness to achieve a

less-stressed life mean you have to change your religious beliefs? “It’s not about adopting any doctrine,” Dr. Williams says. “It’s about learning the practice, having

the experience.”

Getting started

Developing a mindful approach through meditation often means fighting yourself. For mindfulness meditation to be effective, you need to take time out from your day’s

activities, unhook from the steady stream of technological interruptions and recognize that being great at multi-tasking in your personal and work life isn’t

necessarily wonderful for you all the time.

To begin mindfulness meditation, try these steps:

State your purpose. Ask yourself why you want to practice mindfulness. Many people have a clear idea—they want to improve their sleep, lower stress, or solve a

relationship issue. As you continue practicing, your intention may evolve, extending the mindful approach to other aspects of your life.

Make a commitment, even a small one. Decide to give over 20 minutes each day for the next two months to practicing mindfulness meditation. “I ask people to see it as

an experiment, not to be evaluating it every day as you go along,” Dr. Shapiro says. “At the end of two months, you tell me if it was helpful. And, if not, let’s find

something else.”Dr. Williams believes you can start with as little as five minutes, so long as you meditate at the same time every day. “Can you sit still and be aware

of your breathing? Try not to miss a day,” she advises. “In the morning, it sets your thermostat for calmness and vitality. In the evening, it lowers stress.”

Train your mind. Each day when you meditate, you will be training your mind to pay attention in an accepting way. “Start with your body and breath as an anchor in the

moment,” says Dr. Shapiro. “When the mind wanders off, we gently note where it went and come back to (awareness of) breath and body.” Many people are surprised at how

hard it is to pay attention. When you’re not paying attention, you don’t even feel your breath. “It’s called ‘monkey mind.’ Your mind swings from one thought to

another, like a monkey in trees,” she adds.”What you’re trying to do is cultivate the ability to pay attention,” says Dr. Shapiro. “You know when you’re mindful and

when you’re on automatic pilot. There’s a qualitative difference.”

Extend your mindful actions. Mindfulness practice can’t succeed if you compartmentalize it into one 5- or 20-minute session. Once you become comfortable with the

practice, bring mindfulness into your daily life. Take time to appreciate the experience of simple actions, such as washing dishes, eating a meal or taking a walk. The

more skilled you become at mindfulness meditation, the more seamless the transition becomes between your “official” mindfulness meditation and everyday experiences.

Find a teacher. It helps to have guidance, as you would in a yoga or spinning class. One good measure is to look for a teacher trained in the mindfulness-based stress

reduction (MBSR) techniques developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine,

Health Care, and Society. Hospitals with integrative medicine departments are also good resources for meditation programs and instructors.

If you’re experiencing severe, d****n or debilitating, consult with a mental health professional or other health care provider. Some are trained in MBSR and use

mindfulness meditation along with talk therapy or medications.

Related Links – Meditation’s Health Benefits

 

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Meditation’s Health Benefits

8 Ways to Treat Your Feet Right

They’re the workhorses of our bodies, but we give them so little respect.

It’s easy to take our feet for granted. They’re just there, putting up with a host of challenges, from being jammed into high heels and elevated to unnatural heights

to smothering inside sweaty socks or tight nylon pantyhose.

While suffering those indignities, our feet take hundreds of tons of force impact just during an average day of walking. That pounding explains why feet are the body

part most likely to get injured.

You don’t need an expensive spa treatment to take care of your feet. Spending just a few minutes a day on foot care and choosing the right shoes can keep you free of

problems that may lead to pain and even disability. These ideas can help your feet feel great:

Make a point to wash your feet (and between your toes!) with a washcloth carefully and regularly. Yes, that means bending over in the shower to soap them up; if you

can’t balance safely, use a long-handled shower brush or sit on a chair outside the tub as you wash your feet under the faucets. Be sure to dry feet completely,

including between the toes. This wash-and-dry system lessens problems such as athlete’s foot, odor, bacteria and fungus.

If you like to soak your feet, forget the Epsom salts—they’re too drying and don’t offer any medical benefit. Instead, just use warm (never hot) water and a little

liquid soap, such as dishwashing solution, containing skin softeners.

Moisturize your feet after washing. During dry-skin winter months, you may want to moisturize several times a day. Nothing fancy is needed: basic lotions and creams

are fine.

Alternate the shoes you wear each day. That may mean having two pairs of your favorite everyday style, but shoes need time to air out to avoid triggering foot odor or

infections. Change socks or stockings more than once a day. If you have a problem with smelly feet, soak them in a mixture of vinegar and water.

Your feet should not hurt—ever. Tight shoes can worsen bunions, distort toe shape and cause painful foot growths. If you wear high heels, choose heels that are wide,

stable and no higher than two inches. Toe boxes should be wide; pointed toes shouldn’t begin their narrowing shape until well past the ball of the foot. To protect

your Achilles tendon from shortening, alternate heel heights regularly.

Flip-flops and completely flat shoes don’t provide arch support. Neither does walking barefoot. Women are especially prone to developing flat feet, which can lead to

other foot problems. To keep feet strong and healthy, minimize the amount of time you wear shoes that lack supportive arches.

Pregnancy, aging and diabetes all affect your feet. Pregnant women need shoes with broad heels, arch support and good shock absorbency. Added pregnancy weight may

cause your shoe size to change, so get your feet measured. Older women lose some of the cushioning fat on the balls of their feet; choose shoes that provide more shock

protection. Diabetics can develop serious conditions related to the feet and lower legs. Check feet for any problems daily and see a podiatric physician at least

annually.

Be cautious about having a pedicure in a salon, where cleanliness of tubs and instruments is vital. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor before having a

pedicure.

Related Links : 8 Ways to Treat Your Feet Right 

 

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Foods Rich in Antioxidants for Healthy Aging

Although magazine covers and “miracle” cosmetics packages all proclaim the anti-aging secrets they contain, as long as we wake up each morning, getting older is an unstoppable fact.

Perhaps a better and more attainable goal than “anti-aging” is “healthy aging”—giving our bodies and spirits what they need to reduce the risks of physical or mental decline as our 30s become our 40s, then into our 50s, 60s, and so on.

Instead of dreaming about turning back the clock, you can help keep your body strong by equipping it with the biological equivalent of fresh batteries. “Why do you have to fight against aging if you have healthy aging?” asks Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PhD, a research psychologist and behavioral neuroscientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. That’s not just a theoretical question, no matter what your current age.

Reducing risk, one bite at a time

Oxidative stress is the cumulative, day-to-day assault our cells endure. The longer we live, the more oxidative stress our bodies experience. Dr. Shukitt-Hale and her colleagues have studied several foods that appear to repair the toll this stress takes and even protect against further damage. The foods studied also increase the number of brain cells we have and improve their functioning.

We can use such help. “As we age, our bodies are less able to deal with the oxidative stress we encounter,” Dr. Shukitt-Hale says. We also become more sensitive to inflammatory responses in our central nervous systems.

While some foods have been shown to support greater health, energy and mental strength in aging bodies, the biological mechanisms that produce those results aren’t fully understood yet. Many researchers believe the beneficial effects are created by the variety of nutritional components in real food, working in combination.

That means you should look in the produce aisles, not the drug aisles, to find what you need. “Very few disease processes or healthy outcomes are attained through taking vitamin supplements,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of the Center of Nutrition and Aging at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. She cites bone loss and vitamin B12 deficiency as among the few conditions that current research shows can be improved with supplements.

By contrast, when vitamins and other compounds are obtained by eating certain foods, there are big benefits. “We think eating fresh fruit or vegetables, even frozen, is better than taking supplements, because supplements don’t have all the compounds,” Dr. Shukitt-Hale says. In her research lab, “we’ve broken down foods into families of compounds, and the individual families aren’t as effective” as when they function together.

You know that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and such are good for you, but some foods have been shown to be stand-outs for lowering problems linked to aging. You may want to include more of these on your shopping list:

“Brainberries“: That’s the nickname Dr. Shukitt-Hale and coauthor James A. Joseph, PhD, gave to blueberries and their cousins—such as blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Berry fruits are rich in antioxidant polyphenolic compounds that protect against the age-related deterioration of cognitive and motor functions. Eating about a cup of berries a day—fresh or frozen—reduces oxidative stress (hence the term “antioxidants”), lowers inflammation and improves brain cell signaling.

Blueberries top the list of beneficial berries, but if your tastes are a bit more eclectic—arctic bramble berries, anyone?—most berry fruits carry a lot of nutritional power for their size. You may want to read the label closely: A USDA study of blueberries grown in New Jersey showed that those cultivated organically for commercial sale had higher levels of phytonutrients (beneficial compounds) than did the berries grown under conventional methods.

Red peppers, oranges, pine nuts, roasted sunflower seeds, safflower oil: Vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C help prevent skin appearance changes related to aging. Nuts and oils with high amounts of linoleic acid provide similar defense. Regardless of age, sun exposure or other factors, women who eat more foods that are rich in vitamin C and linoleic acid have fewer wrinkles, less skin dryness and less atrophy—the gradual thinning of skin layers.

Cocoa: It’s not just for kids anymore! You may have switched to green tea for its antioxidant benefits, but cocoa is actually higher in the powerful phenolic phytochemicals that fight oxidative damage. Indeed, cocoa leads the list for antioxidant capacity—ahead of red wine, green tea and black tea. Make it with nonfat milk and you’ll help strengthen your bones as well.

Spinach, kale, collards: Here’s another reason to eat more vegetables: high vegetable consumption produces a slower rate of cognitive decline with age. Dr. Morris and her colleagues looked at more than 3,700 people aged 65 or older and found that those who ate about three to four daily servings of vegetables—particularly leafy greens—had much less decline in memory, recall and other mental functions than did those who ate less than one serving of veggies per day.

Walnuts: These popular nuts enabled aged rats to improve motor performance (such as walking on a plank) and thinking skills. Because of these results, researchers believe walnuts look very promising for strengthening cognition.

Fish: It’s been called “brain food” for decades, but now there’s evidence that fish helps keep your mental abilities strong while you age. Compared with people who ate less than one fish meal per week, those who ate fish once weekly or more often showed a slower rate of age-related cognitive decline.

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