Sunday, September 25, 2011

A How-To Guide to Holistic Health

Comparatively, conventional medicine solely looks at the physical body and is more focused on identifying and treating a problem, as opposed to trying to prevent what caused it in the first place.Holistic medicine has become wildly popular, largely because preventive practices are increasingly valued and give the patient control over their own life. Use this essential how-to guide on what to take, what to do, and what to avoid.

How-to Prevention Guide for the Diseases You Fear Most

To ward off deadly diseases, it’s critical to avoid certain toxins you may be putting n your body, such as bad fats. Counter this by ramping up the good stuff.

1. Avoid Toxic Fats

Toxic fats are trans and saturated fats such as margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated oils. These deadly substances raise LDL, the bad cholesterol in the blood stream, and cause plaque build-up in arteries, which can lead to a heart attack over time.

Do an Oil Sniff Test

Check all commercial products made with oil for toxicity before you eat them by doing the “oil sniff test.” If the oil is rancid, it’ll smell similar to oil paint, which is actually oxidized linseed oil. If you get a hint of this odor in anything that has fat content, whether it’s nuts, whole-wheat flour or oils themselves, don’t eat it.

Store Smartly

Store oils away from light, heat and exposure to air. If you can’t find a place to do this, then refrigerate them. And don’t buy oil in bulk, unless you’re planning to use it up quickly.

2. Make Smart Substitutions

Replace an Animal Protein With a Vegetable Protein
Animal protein has a much higher saturated-fat content than vegetable protein. It’s best to avoid processed meats; they contain nitrosamines, which can be carcinogenic. By implementing a more vegetarian-based diet, you can significantly lower your risk of cancer. Try swapping the meat in your diet with some of these excellent vegetarian protein sources:

  • Tempeh

  • Seitan

  • Quinoa

  • White beans or other legumes

Replace High-Temperature Cooking With Low-Temperature Cooking

High-temperatures cause AGE (advanced glycation end products) formation, a chemical reaction that can lead to inflammation and cancer. Indicators of AGE formation are browning and a strong aroma. Low-temperature baking, steaming or sautéing with a little liquid will slow AGE formation. If you are accustomed to grilling meats over high heat, marinate them first to counteract unhealthy chemicals.

3. Essential Supplements and Foods to Block Disease

It’s always best to get your vitamins from actual food sources. However, for insurance, it’s good to take certain supplements, such as these powerful antioxidants that protect against cancer:

Anti-cancer Supplements

  • Vitamin D: 1,000 IU

  • Vitamin C: 75-90 mg

  • Selenium: 55-70 mcg

  • Vitamin E: 15-20 IU

  • Carotenoids: 1.5-2 mg

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation is the root of many diseases. To protect yourself, eat plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods:

  • Berries

  • Black cod (also known as sablefish or butterfish)

  • Bok choy

  • Ginger

  • Olive oil

For more on fighting inflammation, click here.

How-to Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s Disease

Twenty-four million people worldwide have dementia, most of whom have Alzheimer’s. This deadly disease is marked by two major changes in the brain: reduced cortex activity, which impairs thinking and planning, and a shrunken hippocampus, which impacts new memory formation. While the exact causes of Alzheimer’s are unknown, there are certain lifestyle choices that can delay or slow its onset. Inflammation of the brain plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s, so an anti-inflammatory diet is an important preventive strategy.

1. Take Memory-Enhancing Supplements

  • Vitamin E (20 IU/day): This fat-soluble antioxidant may protect memory function.

  • Gingko (600 mg/day): Extracts from ginkgo tree leaves increase blood flow to the brain and have been shown to slow the progression of dementia in early onset of Alzheimer’s.

  • Phosphatidylserine (PS) (200 mg/twice per day): This naturally occurring lipid is considered a brain cell nutrient and may have positive effects on memory and concentration.

2. Eat to Protect

  • Egg yolks: Rich in choline, egg yolks reduce inflammation in the brain. Eat one hard-boiled egg a day.

  • Brazil nuts: These are a great source of healthy fats and are high in magnesium, a mineral that’s essential to the transmission of signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

  • Coffee: This beverage is high in antioxidants that protect the brain. Consume in moderate amounts, about 3-4 cups a day.

3. Special Triple-Threat Seasoning

Create a special seasoning using natural anti-inflammatory and memory-boosting spices that all have special protective properties against Alzheimer’s disease:

  • 1 part turmeric

  • 2 parts sage

  • 3 parts ginger

  • A sprinkling of black pepper

How-to Reduce the #1 Major Ager: Stress

Life is stressful – but there is a lot you can do to protect your body and mind from stress. Most people think that doing something for just 5-10 minutes during a stressful situation can’t make a difference so they do nothing at all. That’s a huge mistake since acting in the moment can help stop stress from escalating. Here are three stressful situations Dr. Oz viewers said they needed help with in a recent poll.

1. The Sunday Night Blues

Your Sunday night routine is crucial to your health. Compared with Sunday, 36% more heart attacks occur on Monday, probably because people are stressed out about starting their workweek all over again. Beat those Sunday night blues:

  • Make Stress-free Soup: The act of making soup is very comforting and relaxing. Click here for Dr. Weil’s Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup recipe, packed with healthy antioxidants. Make a big quantity and enjoy for the entire the week.

  • Stress-suppressing Supplement - Holy Basil: Considered a sacred plant in India, holy basil is enjoyed as a medicinal tea that raises spiritual energy, reduces stress, and promotes calm. It is also available in tablet form; take 2 tablets twice a day. Available at health food stores or online.

  • Change Your Alarm Clock for a Gentler Awakening: Loud noise can cause stress. Wake up gently by switching your alarm clock from a loud, jarring sound to soft, calming music.

2. PMS Stress

Research shows that women who report high stress are 2-4 times more likely to have moderate to severe premenstrual syndrome. If you suffer from PMS:

  • Reduce caffeine by avoiding coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, etc. during your period.

  • Exercise more often.

  • Black current oil contains GLA, an essential fatty acid found in mother’s milk that acts as an anti-inflammatory. Take 200mg twice a day at the start of the week you experience PMS.

3. Sitting in Traffic

Research shows that you are more likely to die of a heart attack when you’ve been sitting in traffic three hours prior. To stay relaxed in this frustrating situation:

  • Listen to calming music. Click here for a playlist of soothing choices. Click here for tips on enjoying a stress-free commute.

  • Try this simple 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4; hold your breath for a count of 7; then breath out through your mouth to a count of 8. Repeat 4 times.

How-to Boost Your Energy and Eliminate Exhaustion

There’s an exhaustion epidemic in this country and most folks turn to quick fixes like coffee and soda to get by. Instead, try these all-natural solutions to boost your energy all day long.

Morning Routine

Drink a glass of warm water when you first wake up. It activates the gastrocolic reflex, which encourages elimination and provides an instant pick-me-up.

Before you leave the house in the morning, take 1-2 minutes to massage some sesame oil (or coconut or olive) into your earlobes, hands and feet. It’ll soothe both your central nervous and endocrine system. Sesame oil is available at grocery stores.

Lunchtime Routine

Eat lunch at the same time every day, preferably between 12 and 12:30 p.m. Digestion is strongest at midday and therefore more efficient at converting food into energy. Drink ginseng tea at lunchtime, which will also boost energy and your metabolism. Ginseng tea is available at grocery stores.

Nighttime Routine

Before dinner, drink an elixir made with lemon juice, ginger root juice and honey in water to promote digestion.

To reduce anxiety, depression or insomnia, take a valerian supplement before bed. Capsules are available at drug stores.

How-to Cure Your Everyday Complaints

To cure everyday complaints like a cough, indigestion or headaches, stock your medicine cabinet with these must-have holistic cures.

1. Cure a Cough

Oregano Oil

Oregano is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent. Next time you have cough, put a few drops of oregano oil in a bowl of steaming water. Drape a towel over you head and breath in the steam for several minutes, until your throat feels less irritated. Find oregano oil online and in health food stores.

Honey and Turmeric Powder

Honey soothes the throat and is also antibacterial; turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Treat a cough with 1 teaspoon of honey sprinkled with turmeric, 3-4 times a day. If needed, mix with a little warm water; however, taking it undiluted is really best.

2. Cure Indigestion

DGL Tablets (Licorice Extract)

Licorice extract is an herbal remedy that protects the stomach from irritation. Take 2 tablets whenever you experience indigestion. Find it in health food stores or online.

Ginger and Lemon

To prevent stomach upset, try chewing on a bit of peeled fresh ginger root topped with a squeeze of lemon before meals.

3. Cure Headaches

Neck and Shoulder Massage

For tension headaches, nothing works better than a neck and shoulder massage. Have a friend or spouse give you one, and make sure they apply firm pressure.


For a migraine or vascular headache, butterbur is a highly effective herbal remedy. Take 75 mg in extract form twice a day as a preventive measure. Butterbur is available in health food stores or online.


Next time you have a headache, try this meditation: Put your hands out and then close your eyes. Watch your breath for a few seconds and bring all of your awareness into the middle of your chest. Listen to your heartbeat and tell it to slowdown. Now move your awareness into your fingertips, and focus on experiencing your heartbeat as a throbbing sensation that has moved there. This technique diverts blood from your brain into your limbs, reducing blood pressure and slowing your heart rate so your headache goes away.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fitness Equipment Helps Facilities Harness User-Generated Energy

Back in 2007, members at Gainesville Health & Fitness might have noticed a young man planted behind an elliptical machine, "tinkering" (as he called it) with the unit's moving parts. That would have been Hudson Harr, then a recent University of Florida graduate invited by club owner Joe Cirulli to experiment on the equipment. Harr was convinced he could harness the kinetic energy generated by elliptical users, convert it to kilowatt-hours and load it back to the facility's power grid. The result? Free electricity.

Photo of SportsArt Fitness' System "pod" of fitness products wired to an inverter
SportsArt Fitness introduced the Green System "pod" of fitness products wired to an inverter (bottom) at the IHRSA Convention & Trade Show in March. (Photos courtesy of SportsArt Fitness)

"I went in there expecting I was going to add a turbine and other types of controls to these machines — not realizing a lot of them existed in the machines already," says Harr, now president of Clearwater, Fla.-based ReRev™, a company that retrofits cardio equipment with small resistors and control boards that feed energy to inverters the size of a personal computer's central processing unit, which then reroute the power. "We just had to make use of it and engineer a process to pull the power out. Solar, wind, any form of renewable energy being pushed back to the grid does so in the exact same way."

ReRev and other companies have since created various means to achieve that same end. For example, while the majority of ReRev retrofits are for ellipticals — Harr says their weight, stability, design and higher usability make them the ideal green machine — The Green Revolution in Ridgefield, Conn., retrofits indoor cycling equipment. Other manufacturers, including PlugOut Fitness, a Seattle-based manufacturer formerly known as Resource Fitness, produces out-of-the-box elliptical cross-trainers and stationary cycles specifically designed to power a facility's grid.

Meanwhile, at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association's International Convention & Trade Show in March, Woodinville, Wash.-based SportsArt Fitness launched the Green System, a "pod" of fitness products wired to an inverter about the size of a stereo receiver. Each pod, expected to be available later this year, can generate up to 2,000 watts per hour, resulting in annual electricity savings of more than $3,000 depending on usage, according to the company.

The benefits are many. "It's not meant to make you money, but it will definitely offset electricity," says Amber Maechler, marketing and communications director for SportsArt Fitness, which also makes a treadmill that uses less energy than traditional units, as well as a line of self-generating ellipticals and cycles requiring no outside power. "Plus, members are going to feel good about generating energy, and club owners are going to be sending an amazing message and using it to motivate members to work out longer and harder. Places of high use are where you're really going to see the benefits."

Manufacturers vary in the ways they communicate how much energy their people-powered equipment is capable of producing. For example, PlugOut Fitness says typical users will be able to generate between 50 and 150 watts during a single workout — enough to power a cell phone for a week. By contrast, an elliptical machine in regular use at a commercial facility using ReRev technology generates an estimated one kilowatt-hour of electricity every two days; that's the same amount of power it takes to run a laptop for 24 hours or a vacuum cleaner for 45 minutes.

Photo of a thermal-imaging camera capturing the amount of wasted energy generated by an elliptical user before the machine is retrofitted with ReRev equipment
A thermal-imaging camera captures the amount of wasted energy generated by an elliptical user before the machine is retrofitted with ReRev equipment. (Photo courtesy of ReRev)

This much is clear: The concept is catching on. One obvious indication of that is the Energy Civil War, held between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University during the week leading up to the schools' annual "Civil War" football game. Officials at each university keep track of the number of calories participants convert to kilowatts, and then tally up the results. Oregon won the 2010 battle, as students, staff and faculty generated 21,600 kilowatt hours of energy on equipped machines between Nov. 29 and Dec. 3; Oregon State participants managed to generate 20,000 kilowatt hours. Collectively, UO and OSU generated 75 percent more energy than they did during the 2009 Energy Civil War.

It's no surprise that manufacturers in this market segment report the greatest buy-in at college recreation centers, where there already exists an environmentally aware user base. But the concept is making strides in other facilities, too, including health clubs and municipal recreation centers. And it holds great promise for high schools (where calculating energy savings and converting kinetic energy could become part of math and science curriculums) and military bases (where power is at a premium in some remote locations).

"People are ready for the idea now, and it has legs," says SportsArt Fitness product manager Bob Baumgartner, who has been involved with the Green System since its inception. And if facility operators can give exercisers additional incentives to work out — essentially helping the environment while helping themselves — the message behind that idea holds even more juice. "We understand that we just can't put something like this in the club and have people realize the impact they're making," Maechler says, adding that SportsArt Fitness plans a major promotional and branding campaign for the Green System's early adopters. "Facility owners are not just buying a new piece of equipment; they're buying into a new marketing message."

Manufacturer-driven technology that details how much power facility users generate individually and collectively on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis make it easy to engage in competitions with facilities on the other side of town or on the other side of the country, as well as create new fundraising and educational opportunities. Predicts Harr, "This is going to make equipment even more of a fitness product than it was in the first place."

The result of combining fitness with sustainability — "two really positive industries," as Harr puts it — has not happened without growing pains. Consider the debate over the role batteries should play in the conversion of kinetic energy into AC power. While The Green Revolution wires exercise bikes into a central battery that can store energy, other manufacturers eschew batteries, citing efficiency, cost, size and disposal issues.

Besides, adds Baumgartner, the process of converting people power into facility power is already complicated enough. The Green System, which does not require batteries, is in the process of gaining UL approval. "We still have a long way to go in some respects," he says. "We're working through the approval process, and that's a challenge. We understand what it takes to get UL approval for a fitness product, but to get approval for a product that actually produces power and sends it back to the grid requires a whole other set of compliances."

Harr says all of the effort involved with helping create a new product category has been worth it. In fact, he doesn't see an alternative. "With humanity growing by leaps and bounds and emerging markets doing what they're doing without even a full rebound in our economy, we will run out of power," Harr says. "It was so easy for so long to just drill a hole in the ground and have an abundant source of energy at our fingertips. I don't want to see our standard of living decline because we didn't think about the future. Is ReRev solving any great problem? Absolutely not. But it's starting a discussion."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Children

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin adequately. This is called insulin resistance. When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose (sugar) can't get into the body's cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body's cells are not able to function properly. Other problems associated with the buildup of glucose in the blood include:

Dehydration. The buildup of sugar in the blood can cause an increase in urination. When the kidneys lose the glucose through the urine, a large amount of water is also lost, causing dehydration.
Diabetic Coma (Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma) . When a person with type 2 diabetes becomes severely dehydrated and is not able to drink enough fluids to make up for the fluid losses, they may develop this life-threatening complication.
Damage to the body. Over time, the high glucose levels in the blood may damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart and predispose a person to atherosclerosis (hardening) of the large arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke.

Type 2 Diabetes in Children

More and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Find out about type 2 diabetes symptoms in children, the diagnosis, and the treatment in WebMD's article on type 2 diabetes in childhood. If your child is at risk for childhood diabetes, it’s important to learn specific self-care tips to help prevent diabetes.

Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?

Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. However, those at highest risk for the disease are those who are obese or overweight, women who have had gestational diabetes, people with family members who have type 2 diabetes and people who have metabolic syndrome (a cluster of problems that include high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low good 'HDL' cholesterol and a high bad 'LDL' cholesterol, and high blood pressure). In addition, older people are more susceptible to developing the disease since aging makes the body less tolerant of sugars.

Although it is more common than type 1 diabetes, the causes of type 2 diabetes are less well understood. It is likely caused by multiple factors and not a single problem.

Type 2 diabetes can run in families, but the exact nature of how it's inherited or the identity of a single genetic factor is not known.

What Are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes vary from person to person but may include:

Increased thirst.
Increased hunger (especially after eating).
Dry mouth.
Nausea and occasionally vomiting.
Frequent urination.
Fatigue (weak, tired feeling).
Blurred vision.
Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet.
Frequent infections of the skin, urinary tract or vagina.

Rarely, a person may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after presenting to the hospital in a diabetic coma.

How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

To diagnose type 2 diabetes, your health care provider will first check for abnormalities in your blood (high blood glucose level) during a random fasting blood test or through a screening test known as the 2 hour glucose tolerance test. In addition, he or she may look for glucose or ketone bodies in your urine.

Type 2 diabetes testing includes a fasting plasma glucose test or a casual plasma glucose test. You will also need to check your blood sugar levels regularly.