All Entries For health

Quit Your Bellyaching: A 3-Week Program to Reboot Your System


Are you sick of fighting constant tummy troubles? Many people suffer from bloating, discomfort and digestion problems--sometimes for no apparent reason at all.  Isn't it time you did something to quit your bellyaching for good (quite literally)? We have a fun way to reset your system and get your digestion into tip-top shape with plenty of help along the way. Plus, it'll only take you 20 days to feel better! 
Posted 2/17/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 13 comments   76,101 views
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7 Cool Health & Fitness Gadgets from CES 2014


I just spent the last couple of days at the gigantic Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. To say that this convention is massive is an understatement. Companies from all over the world come to CES to unveil and promote their latest technologies and gadgets in virtually every category, from cars to crockpots to TVs to headphones.

One growing section of CES is health and fitness technology. This wing is dedicated to "Digital Health," where you'll find dozens of types of fitness monitors and activity trackers along with technology based sleep solutions, smoking cessation tools, teeth whitening gadgets and more. 

I had a chance to check out everything new in health and fitness tech earlier this week. Here's a selection of emerging trends and products that I thought were downright cool—and likely to take off in the coming years.
Posted 1/9/2014  5:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   21,144 views
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30 Days to a Happier, Healthier Winter


Happy New Year! Now that the holiday season is behind you, you're probably ready to settle back into a routine and reevaluate your health and fitness priorities (we know we are!). This time of year, there seems to be a new gimmick around every corner that promises to get you into the best shape of your life this time (and fast).

At SparkPeople, we don't believe in quick fixes--we believe in good, old-fashioned hard work, consistency and determination. However, we also believe that a nice boost every once in a while can re-ignite a spark that's been fizzling out. So, don't start 2014 with a gimmick that's sure to fail, or an exercise program that's way too extreme for your lifestyle. Instead, join our 30-day Winter Wellness Challenge; a realistic, sensible plan that will steer you in the right direction for a happier, healthier year ahead—no gimmicks and no fine print. Just honest, doable challenges to make you feel great, inside and out, all winter long. 
Posted 1/1/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 14 comments   18,071 views
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10 Foods That Fight Inflammation


What if there was a pill you could take daily to help prevent multiple diseases and health conditions? Not just minor issues like acne or stiff joints, but the big ones, too: cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Not only would this pill prevent these and other conditions, but it could also help increase your energy, tone your body and reverse aging—with zero side effects. People would line up around the block to get their hands on the miracle drug!
 
While there isn’t currently a drug that can do all these things, there is something that can help: nutrient-dense food—specifically a large selection of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. Countless degenerative diseases and health conditions are tied to chronic inflammation, which damages organs, cells—even DNA—and accelerates the aging process. However, the foods mentioned below, and many others, have been shown to subdue chronic inflammation and support numerous areas of health in the process. How many of these health-promoting foods are you eating?
Posted 7/31/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 14 comments   41,574 views
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Beat the Heat During Your Summer Workouts


Summer is almost here, which means the temperature will continue to rise. Some of you may have already experienced some early summer-type heat and are already starting to get acclimated to it. As we change over to summer weather, we need to remember to take precautions when exercising in the heat.

Our bodies do a great job at cooling off in general, but it does take time for them to get acclimated to the heat as the season changes. Depending on your age, current health condition and your activity level, your body can take 2 or more weeks to acclimate to the heat. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you are feeling like your workouts are getting harder during this time of year and/or you have humidity to deal with on top of the heat.
Posted 6/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 21 comments   22,681 views
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Surprising Ways to Lose Weight and Feel Great


Hormones have a bad reputation. Feeling bloated? Cranky? Craving carbs? Blame it on that time of the month. But hormones provide a host of health benefits and can help you lose weight, sleep better and stay sharp. Click through to learn five ways they can help you be your best—and how to harness their positive power. 
Posted 6/10/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   18,979 views
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7 Tests You Should Never Skip


Going to the doctor when you're sick is a no-brainer. But going when you're perfectly fine can be a lifesaver. "People who schedule routine visits get the best preventive services, and that sets the stage for success," says Jonathan Temte, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in Madison. Screening tests are crucial: Your chances of beating virtually any condition are much greater when you catch it in its earliest stages—when it's most treatable or even curable. Use this chart as a guide, but discuss your personal history and specific needs with your doctor. 
Posted 5/7/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments   9,121 views
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10 Tips for Preventing Colorectal Cancer


Research has shown that at least 50% of all cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented by lifestyle, and one recent Harvard study found that risk could be reduced by as much as 70% to 75%! Here are 10 things you can do to minimize your risk for colon cancer: 
  1. Maintain a healthy body weight. Watch portion sizes and balance your food intake with activity to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
     
  2. Be physically active. Walking just 4 hours a week significantly reduces your risk, and being active will also help you achieve tip #1.
     
  3. Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of many cancers not just colon and rectal cancer.
     
  4. Practice moderation when drinking alcohol. For women this means consuming no more than one drink per day, for men no more than two. All of the following equal one drink:
    • 12 oz. can or bottle of beer or wine cooler
    • 5 oz. glass of wine
    • 1½ oz. shot of hard liquor
Since your colon is part of your gastrointestinal tract, it makes sense that your diet would have a powerful impact on colorectal cancer risk. Here are the most important things to consider when eating for cancer prevention:
  1. Eat a plant-based diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants and are the best source of important phytochemicals. Green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are especially helpful as they may slow down or block the expression of cancer genes.
     
  2. Increase your intake of fiber. Whole grains, beans and legumes contain important vitamins and minerals, and are excellent sources of fiber. They help to soften your stools, prevent constipation and keep things moving through your GI tract.
     
  3. Eat less red meat and avoid processed meats.
     
  4. Don’t overcook your meat. It’s important to cook meats enough to prevent food-borne illnesses, but overcooking can cause cancer-causing compounds to form.
     
  5. Replace animal fats with nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Olive and canola oil are great choices. Fish oils containing omega 3 fatty acids offer additional health benefits for your heart, brain and immune system.
     
  6. Be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the body are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. For the best advice on whether you need extra calcium or Vitamin D, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. 
And here’s the best news! The same lifestyle choices that reduce your risk for colon cancer also lower your risk for other forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In addition, they enhance the quality of your life by improving your overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
 
Since its inception, the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation (Susie’s Cause) has followed a specific road map for success and firmly established itself as the National Voice for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of Colon Cancer. (Susie’s Cause) will continue to strive to eliminate colon cancer as a life-threatening disease through the development and dissemination of grass roots educational programs and a robust online campaign to touch both medical professionals and the general public worldwide. Please support our efforts to save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Posted 4/26/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   9,790 views
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How Much Exercise Do You REALLY Need to Lose Weight?


New guidelines issued from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) state that 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week might not be enough. In 2001, ACSM recommended that overweight and obese adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to improve their health. 200 to 300 minutes per week was recommended for long-term weight loss. But will this amount of exercise really help you lose weight and keep it off?
Posted 4/10/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 1186 comments   931,345 views
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Does the Prejudice against Obesity Motivate You to Lose Weight?


It’s no secret that being obese can make you the target of some very negative and stigmatizing attitudes. Many people have been subjected to public ridicule and cruel remarks, lost jobs or promotions, and even been blamed for large-scale social problems like climate change and rising health care costs—all because of their weight.

As reported in this article, even doctors and health policy professionals get in on the act. Ms. Brown reports that, in one study, more than half of the 620 doctors questioned said they viewed obese patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly, and unlikely to comply with treatment.” Another study shows that higher BMI scores translate into doctors having less respect for patients and spending less time with them during appointments.

With all the evidence that, in most cases, obesity is a complex condition caused by the interaction of many different genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors, you’d think that medical professionals, especially, would be less likely to fall into the trap of viewing obesity as some sort of character flaw and stigmatizing obese patients.

Ms. Brown raises the possibility that many health professionals and policy makers believe that being stigmatized can motivate people to lose weight and improve their health. But, as she notes, the question is whether this approach actually works.

Posted 3/20/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Dean Anderson : 323 comments   36,802 views
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What Women Really Need to Know about Heart Health


 
Editor's Note: February is Heart Health month, aimed at bringing awareness to the #1 killer in America. Today we're sharing an interview with Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens on behalf of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth®. Dr. Desvigne-Nickens answered our questions via email.
 
DailySpark: How early should women start to take steps to protect their heart health?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Women need to take steps at every age to protect their heart health. Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and it is important for women and girls at all ages to know about heart disease and follow a healthy lifestyle.  Women in their 20s and 30s should take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

DailySpark: What are the top lifestyle changes women can make to ensure their hearts stay healthy?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Most heart disease risk factors are preventable or controllable by making healthy lifestyle changes, including: stopping smoking, being physically active, following a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.  Additional risk factors that you can prevent and control include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar or diabetes.  These conditions are silent (that is you don’t have any symptoms) so you must talk with your physician and know your numbers.  High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar are often treatable with healthy lifestyle but may require medical prescriptions.

DailySpark: Which habits harm our hearts the most?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Smoking, letting high blood pressure and high cholesterol go untreated, being overweight or obese, not being physically active, and not managing diabetes all can contribute to increasing a person’s risk for heart disease.
It is especially important to understand that that having more than one risk factor or condition multiplies your risk of developing heart disease.  Having one risk factor doubles your risk for disease; having two risks quadruples your risk for developing disease; having three risks increases risk by tenfold.   Don’t choose among risk factors, take charge and control your risks.  You can reduce your risk for heart disease by over 80% by controlling risk factors and a healthy lifestyle.

DailySpark: How much impact does weight have on heart health?
Posted 2/22/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 4 comments   11,867 views
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What Women Really Need to Know about Heart Health


 
Editor's Note: February is Heart Health month, aimed at bringing awareness to the #1 killer in America. Today we're sharing an interview with Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens on behalf of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth®. Dr. Desvigne-Nickens answered our questions via email.
 
DailySpark: How early should women start to take steps to protect their heart health?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Women need to take steps at every age to protect their heart health. Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and it is important for women and girls at all ages to know about heart disease and follow a healthy lifestyle.  Women in their 20s and 30s should take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

DailySpark: What are the top lifestyle changes women can make to ensure their hearts stay healthy?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Most heart disease risk factors are preventable or controllable by making healthy lifestyle changes, including: stopping smoking, being physically active, following a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.  Additional risk factors that you can prevent and control include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar or diabetes.  These conditions are silent (that is you don’t have any symptoms) so you must talk with your physician and know your numbers.  High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar are often treatable with healthy lifestyle but may require medical prescriptions.

DailySpark: Which habits harm our hearts the most?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Smoking, letting high blood pressure and high cholesterol go untreated, being overweight or obese, not being physically active, and not managing diabetes all can contribute to increasing a person’s risk for heart disease.
It is especially important to understand that that having more than one risk factor or condition multiplies your risk of developing heart disease.  Having one risk factor doubles your risk for disease; having two risks quadruples your risk for developing disease; having three risks increases risk by tenfold.   Don’t choose among risk factors, take charge and control your risks.  You can reduce your risk for heart disease by over 80% by controlling risk factors and a healthy lifestyle.

DailySpark: How much impact does weight have on heart health?
Posted 2/22/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 4 comments   11,867 views
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7 Reasons You Can Feel Good about Eating Chocolate Today


Chances are good that you'll encounter chocolate at some point today. Chocolate has earned a bad rap as a guilty pleasure, but this superfood has some pretty amazing health benefits. We think you should feel good about eating chocolate--the dark variety, in moderate portions. Here's why:

1. Chocolate contains more than 300 chemicals, including phenyethylamine, an amphetamine-like substance that simulates the feeling of falling in love. Is there any more appropriate day than today to eat a treat that makes you feel like you're in love?

2. If you're feeling a bit glum, chocolate can boost your spirits and dull your pain, thanks to b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium.
Posted 2/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 33 comments   12,022 views
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7 Quick Mood Boosters


Brighten your spirits in no time flat with these easy tricks.

Reach for the sky
 
Get on your feet, look to the ceiling and stretch your arms straight up, spreading your fingers. "The simple act of standing prompts a boost in circulation, delivering oxygen- and energy-rich blood to your cells," explains psychotherapist Kimberly Willis, PhD, author of The Little Book of Diet Help: Expert Tips and Tapping Techniques to Stay Slim for Life. And smile as you hold the stretch: It will trigger the release of feel-good brain chemicals. 
Posted 1/14/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   13,847 views
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Do You Really Need a Flu Shot? (Everything You Need to Know about the Vaccine)


Fall is here. Apples are in season. Leaves are falling. Pumpkin just begs to be baked into a pie.
 
But with all of those good things comes at least one not-so-good thing: the flu.
 
Flu season can begin in October and end as late as May, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza is caused by viruses and because these can change, each flu season is a different. Individuals also are affected differently by the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea or respiratory distress. Typically the worst cases are in people 65 or older. CDC estimates of flu-related deaths between 1976 and 2007 range from 3,000 to 49,000, and in a normal year, about 90 percent of deaths are in people older than 65.
 
Several years ago, swine flu – the H1N1 virus – hit the U.S. and caused a great deal of concern because it seemed to strike pregnant women and younger adults much harder than the typical flu virus. Odd flu seasons like that are when you start seeing headlines about the flu killing people and urging people to get vaccinated against the virus.
 
But the CDC and other health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a flu vaccine every year for anyone older than 6 months. The vaccine especially is important for people who might develop complications, such as pneumonia, from the flu – this includes people older than 65 or people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses – as well as pregnant women and anyone caring for someone who might be struck harder than normal with the flu.
 
How does the vaccine work?
Posted 11/1/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 113 comments   34,775 views
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