7 Reasons Why Meditation is Good for Your Health

By tapping into an abundance of creative energy, meditation can enrich both our emotional and physical health. Makes you happier…

Reduces stress

Endorphins also act as a means of reducing stress levels in the brain; so by meditating you can stop worrying about the little things in life and concentrate on the exploration of yourself and the promotion of positive feelings.

Helps you focus
Meditating allows you to learn how to discipline yourself and this will reflect in your everyday lifestyle. When you address tasks, your mind will focus more naturally and you will experience an increased efficiency.

Improves sleep
Scientific studies have shown that those who meditate enhance their slow wave sleep pattern, which can help fight insomnia. Furthermore, focussing the mind on mental and physical processes will aid relaxation and consequently, sleep.

Lowers blood Pressure
Research has also shown that meditation can reduce blood pressure, both in the short term and later in life. By decreasing psychological stress and increasing coping ability, blood pressure decreases, helping you pursue a healthier life.

Relieves Pain
Long term practice of meditation can lead to physical changes in the brain that help alter the perception of pain. Those who meditate will experience lower pain sensitivity. Mindfulness, a result of meditation, can also help those who suffer chronic pain come to terms with it.

Connects you with others
While it’s true that meditation is mostly concentrated on self-growth, it also improves your social interaction. The mind becomes more sharply focussed on compassionate feelings that are directed towards others. As little as a few minutes of meditation practise can increase positive feelings towards strangers.

Makes you happier
Meditation causes the pituitary gland in your brain to secrete endorphins that help elevatemood and have a positive effect on the whole body. It also alters brain activity to enhance the area associated with positive emotional experiences.

Fed Up With Dry Skin?

Ideally, your skin should retain a moisture level of around 30%.

When hydration falls, the skin starts to feel dry and itchy, and the normal process of skin cell shedding is reduced so skin cells build up. By the time skin feels rough, dry, and develops scaling, the water level in your skin may be as low as 10%.

This can result from environmental factors such as exposure to harsh soaps, irritants or adverse weather, but can also be due to a lack of dietary essential fatty acids and vitamin A deficiency.

Foods that can help

Omega-3s provide building blocks for making skin cell membranes that retain moisture more readily. They also suppress the inflammatory response that leads to itching and reduced skin cell shedding. Aim to eat oily fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring at least twice a week. Walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia and hemp are also good sources. Higher intakes of foods rich in vitamin C such as berries and mango, are associated with better skin appearance due to improved collagen production and moisture retention. Wheat germ oil is particularly valuable for treating dry skin – apply topically to leave it feeling soft and smooth.

Foods to avoid

Follow a low glycaemic diet by avoiding refined grains such as white rice, white flour breads, pasta and cakes, which raise insulin levels and promote inflammation.

Useful Supplements

Evening primrose oil provides essential fatty acids that moisturise skin when taken by mouth, producing significant improvements in scaliness and itching. You can also apply evening primrose oil directly onto patches of dry skin.

Wake Early To Enjoy The Dawn Chorus

The dawn chorus reaches it’s peak around this time of year.

Every morning from March to July, the finest sopranos, tenors and baritones warm up their voices for the greatest concert on earth.

As breeding season gets underway, birds will sing at their best and with some practice you can learn to identify the dawn chorus singers. Dunnocks and robins are among the earliest to start singing about an hour before sunrise.

Then blackbirds and song thrushes join in as the ground warms and worms become more active. Finally, contributing to the crescendo, wrens, tits and warblers come in, with the tiny call of the goldcrest on stage too. These later arrivals to the choral scene eat insects and are perhaps more sensitive to the coldness of dawn

Benefits of eating fruits and vegetables in daily

Fruits and Vegetables are a major part of our diet and not without a reason. They have various health benefits and help in achieving a great balance in our daily diet. They are easily available and in a great variety.

Low on Cholesterol – Fruits and vegetables usually have no cholesterol and are very low on fats and calories. Therefore they are highly recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. In fact, fruits are a great substitute for untimely hunger pangs as compared to your usual snack which could be loaded with unwanted calories and fats.

Anti-Cancer Properties – Nutrients, particularly water soluble vitamins contained in fruits and vegetables have proven benefits against free radicals in the body that can cause cancerous growths and tumours. Water soluble vitamins flush toxins from the body and aid cell regeneration process thereby preventing cancer.

Anti-Ageing Properties – Process of ageing is slowed down by fruits and vegetables in two ways – by flushing out of free radicals from the body that harm healthy cells in the body and, by increasing the rate of cell regeneration thereby reducing appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Both of these factors make the skin healthy, glow and taut.

Taste and Health Package – Fruits and vegetable are widely available and they have a humongous variety. This variety brings in a lot of texture, colours and flavours that are pleasing to your senses in terms of appearance and taste. Seasonal fruits and vegetables increase immunity of the body and can be easily grown in your kitchen garden or pots

So these were important benefit of including a healthy portion of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet and as can be gathered, it helps in regulating and carrying out vital functions of the body.

Foods help you with weight loss

It has been rightly said 80% of the weight loss happens in the kitchen and 20% depends on the workout you do. No matter how much exercise you do, it will give you no weight-loss results if you do not watch what you eat.

You can incorporate the following foods in your diet which will help you with weight loss:

Egg – Never skip breakfast when you are trying to lose weight. Eggs are an ideal option to start your day since they possess appetite suppressing properties that will keep you full for a longer period. According to International Journal of Obesity, the people who eat two eggs in breakfast lose 65% more weight than people who eat a bagel with the same amount of calories.

Apples – Apples are loaded with fiber that can keep you full for a longer period with just 100 calories. So it can be a very good snack option when you are trying to lose weight. Apples have a compound that helps in growing friendly bacteria in the gut, and it prevents overeating and suppresses the craving for junk food.

Beans – Beans are also another food option with high nutrition and fiber and fewer calories. They also keep you full for a longer period. Also, beans are full of proteins which also help in weight loss since proteins boost satiety i.e. you feel more satisfied after consuming a protein rich diet.

Green Tea – Green tea is a natural and calorie free option that contains healthy antioxidants which boost metabolism. According to a study, 17% more calories were burned by men who consumed green tea regularly. It increases the fat burning rate both during the workout and rest periods. Also, consuming green tea regularly helps in curbing appetite also, so that you intake fewer calories.

Mushrooms – Mushrooms can be an excellent addition to your diet when you are trying to lose weight. They have fewer calories, no fat and are full of nutrients such as vitamin D, proteins, selenium, copper and fiber.

Weight loss cannot happen overnight; you need to make certain changes in your lifestyle and diet to attain weight loss. However, by incorporating the above foods, you can certainly achieve a fit, toned and healthy body gradually, but surely.

How to fight cold, flu, infection at any age

The only way to reduce the possibility of developing a cold or an infection from such people is strengthening your immune system.

Here are some ways that help you strengthen your immune system, and help you fight cold, flu and infection.

Reduce Sugar Intake – People today believe in living the fast life. This includes a lot of takeouts, processed foods, sugary snacks and social drinking on weekends. This can have a terrible impact on your immune system. A study has shown that the sugar in a single can of soda can reduce the functioning of your immune system by 30% for about three hours. That’s not all. It also affects the cells’ ability to destroy bacteria. So instead of sweets, start eating foods high in fiber as this helps tackle viruses and bacteria.

Exercise Daily – Set aside 30 minutes in your day to exercise – be it simple yoga, running, swimming or strength training, as this helps boost the movement of immune cells through the bloodstream.

Get Enough Rest – Most people do not realize how important getting a good sleep is. While relaxing in front of a television or spending time with family sounds like a better alternative, it isn’t as effective as a good night’s sleep of 8 hours when it comes to warding off cold and infections.Sleep helps restore your body, allowing the immune system to function better. Your immune system also gets affected by chronic stress; so finding time to relax or meditate will certainly help you fight off the flu and other infections.

Include Turmeric in Your Diet – This is not widely known, but people who consume turmeric daily are found to suffer less from colds, coughs and even congestion. This is because turmeric is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and hence, relieves the body of toxins, easily boosting your immunity.A study published in 2009 on influenza states that curcumin present in turmeric can reduce the replication of the flu virus by 90 percent in lab settings. Curcumin also has the ability to protect other cells from getting infected.

Increase Antioxidant Intake – As you age, your immune system weakens. By eating fruits and vegetables that have anti-oxidant properties, you can provide a good boost to your immune system. Consuming green tea provides a high dose of anti-oxidants. Dark leafy greens like Kale, and broccoli are also good for strengthening the immune system.

Add Garlic to Your Diet – Though the thought of eating garlic may not appeal to you, it is known to contain allicin, which is packed with anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. Thus, increasing your intake of garlic will keep your gut in good shape, making sure your body is always free of toxins and bacteria.

Soak the Sunlight – Vitamin D that your body produces in the sunlight helps you fend off colds and flu. Hence, soak in lots of sunlight, or consume tuna, sardines or egg yolk which are good sources of Vitamin D.So if you would like to give your immune system that extra boost, these natural remedies will help you get the required nutrition so that your body is able to defend itself from all illnesses.

Which pain killer is right for you?

Pain is designed to alert you when something is wrong and it is caused by stimulation of special nerve endings in different parts of the body.

Most common types of pain are self-limiting and easily treated with over-the-counter analgesics. The following guide will help you chose the most suitable painkiller for your pain.

Paracetamol: is effective against mild to moderate pain. It works through a direct effect on the brain to reduce pain and lower a fever. It does not reduce swelling or stiffness due to inflammation but is still excellent for pain relief associated with arthritis as well as for headache, period pain, colds, influenza.

Aspirin: is effective against mild to moderate pain. It reduces inflammation and swelling and can also bring down a temperature. It is best taken in soluble, effervescent or enteric-coated form to minimise stomach irritation and is helpful for treating pain associated with inflamed joints and sport’s injuries, as well as for headache, migraine, period pains and dental pain. It should not be used by children except under the supervision of a doctor (due to a link with a rare but serious condition known as Reye’s syndrome).

Ibuprofen: is related to aspirin and helps mild to moderate pain, reduces fever and has a powerful effect against the stiffness and swelling of inflammation. It is a popular choice for treating sports injuries (e.g. sprained ligaments, strained muscles) and stiff or painful joints, as well as for painful periods, dental pain, headache and fever. Avoid if it triggers indigestion or a worsening of asthma symptoms

Codeine: works on the nervous system to reduce the transmission of pain signals. It also changes the way pain is felt so that, although it may still be there, it no longer seems to matter. Codeine is used for relief of moderate pain and for boosting the effect of other analgesics such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen. It damps down cough, but its use is limited by a side effect of constipation. It is best reserved for pain associated with coughing; pain associated with diarrhoea or in combination with paracetamol to boost its painkilling action.

Dihydrocodeine: is a more powerful version of codeine which is suitable for more severe pain, though its use is limited by its potential for addiction. A formulation combining dihydrocodeine with paracetamol is available from pharmacists but is usually reserved for when other pain killers have not worked or are unsuitable.

Like all drugs, painkillers can have side effects. If you are not sure which analgesic is most likely to suit you, always seek advice from a pharmacist or doctor. Always read the information provided with your painkillers and never exceed the stated dose. If pain persists, or becomes worse, always seek medical advice – both to find out the cause, and to obtain better pain relief.

 

Listen what your body is saying

Abdominal pain, which is also often called as ‘Stomach ache, Tummy ache, Belly ache, etc’, spares no one! Sometime or the other, we have all experienced the agony of abdominal pain!

Calling it stomach ache is actually a misnomer, because the abdomen, which extends from below your chest to your groin, contains many other important organs, as shown in the picture above. Pain in the abdomen can come from any one of them, and in rare cases, may originate from non-abdominal organs too, such as the chest or pelvic region organs!

The type and nature of pain is very critical to correct diagnosis of the condition. Abdominal pain can be mild or severe. It may be continuous or may come and go. It can be short-lived (acute) or occur over weeks and months (chronic). Severe pain doesn’t always mean a serious problem. Nor does mild pain mean a problem is not serious. When you visit your Doctor, try to give him clear details of the type of pain you are experiencing. There are different ways to describe pain in your abdomen:

Generalized pain: This means that you feel it in more than half of your belly. This type of pain is more typical for a stomach virus, indigestion, or gas. If the pain becomes more severe, it may be caused by a blockage of the intestines

Localized pain: This is pain found in only one area of your belly. It is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach

Cramp-like pain: This type of pain is not serious most of the time. It is likely to be due to gas and bloating, and is often followed by diarrhoea

Colicky pain: This type of pain comes in waves. It very often starts and ends suddenly, and is often severe. Kidney stones and gallstones are common causes of this type of belly pain

Abdominal pain has many potential causes. Many causes, such as gas pains, constipation, food allergy or a pulled muscle, aren’t serious, while other conditions like ulcers, appendicitis, kidney stone, bowel blockade, etc are very serious and require timely medical attention. At times, abdominal pain can occur due to issues with organs beyond the abdomen such as ectopic pregnancy, urinary tract infection, etc.

The key is to know when you need to get immediate medical care. Call your doctor right away if you have abdominal pain so severe that you can’t move without causing more pain, or you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position. Also, seek immediate medical help if pain is accompanied by other worrisome signs and symptoms, such as fever, bloody diarrhea or severe tenderness in your abdomen.

Some of the home care steps to ease mild abdominal pain include sipping water or other clear fluids. Avoiding solid food for the first few hours. Use of antacids for heartburn and indigestion. Use of electrolyte solution if you have lost plenty of fluid. Avoid pain killers and seek medical help.

Staying healthy is your responsibility. Despite all your hectic schedule and busy lifestyle, you need to take the time out for regular exercise. It is not only important for your abs and biceps, but equally important for the proper functioning of all the internal muscles too, including all the muscles of the abdomen. So do not miss out on your daily dose of exercise or yoga.

Also pay attention to what you eat. Choose the right foods and the right quantity. Include fruits and vegetables daily in your meals. Cut out the fast food, spicy and oily food, alcohol, smoking, stress and other triggers of abdominal pain. Relax and enjoy the comfortable feeling of a happy abdomen.

Consquences of delaying sleeptime

Unfortunately, no matter what time you go to bed, you have to wake up rather early so that you can go to school/college on time, go to office on time, get your work done in sync with others around you.

So going to bed after 12 midnight means you are missing out on a few hours of your sleep. Instead of the desired 8 hours, you may be getting just 5-6 hours of sleep. Staying up late coupled with fewer hours of sound sleep can lead to many undesirable effects on your system. This can directly affect your mental state of the next day, make your skin prone to acne (as staying up late for a long time affects the secretion of the body). This habit also increases the risk of having a flu, gastrointestinal infections and allergies, as the immune system gets weaker. If the person has a tendency to sleep late and wake-up late, he may end up sleeping too much. Because of sleeping too much he may even reverse the biological clock and show a lack of energy, altered memory and miss breakfast too.

On the other hand, early birds have a great advantage to start their day with. They have greater time on their hand, that too after 8 hours of sound sleep. They wake up more cheerful, they have time for a proper breakfast. Studies have shown that their diet choices are healthier than those who wake up late. Late sleepers tend to snack at mid-night on junk food. They consume more calories, eat more fatty items and less of healthy fruits and vegetables than early risers.

Further, late risers miss out on a very important daily activity, that is, exercise. They barely have time for a bath and dressing up. No breakfast, No exercise. Unlike this early risers make time for exercise. 20 minutes of morning workout can work wonders on anyone who practises it regularly. Early larks are also proactive and have a head start at work. Arriving early enables them to plan their work well and execute it more efficiently. With all this good going, research has also shown that early birds are less likely to suffer from depression. So, going to bed on time is the best way to preserve health.

Some people do feel that they are ‘night-people’ while others are ‘morning-people’. Even if you are a night person, it is advisable to slowly shift your sleeping hours by 15 minutes and enjoy the benefits of those 15 minutes in the morning. You can eat healthy, enjoy a jog or a swim, listen to pleasant music and begin the day with cheer. What do you say now? Do you agree that, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’?

Sleep and Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are regular changes in mental, physical and behavioural characteristics that occur in the course of a day (circadian is Latin for “around a day”).

These Circadian rhythms follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. They are found in most living things, including humans, animals, plants and many tiny microbes. Our biological clocks drive our circadian rhythms. The biological clocks that control circadian rhythms are groupings of interacting molecules in cells throughout the body. A “master clock” in the brain coordinates all the body clocks so that they are in synch.

The “master clock” that controls circadian rhythms consists of a group of nerve cells in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. The SCN contains about 20,000 nerve cells and is located in the hypothalamus area of the brain. Circadian rhythms are produced by natural factors within the body, but they are also affected by signals from the environment. Light is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms, turning on or turning off genes that control an organism’s internal clocks.

Circadian rhythms are important in determining human sleep patterns:

The body’s master clock, or SCN, controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Since it is located just above the optic nerves, which relay information from the eyes to the brain, the SCN receives information about incoming light. When there is less light—like at night—the SCN tells the brain to make more melatonin so you get drowsy. The typical pattern of sleep urge is shown in the graph below. The sleep urge follows a natural circadian rhythm. It is greatest at night with a small increase at mid-day.

Now, when we follow the signals given by the body and sleep accordingly, it is ideal for the system. But as outlined in earlier paragraphs, there is a great tendency to postpone the sleeping hour, due to changing lifestyles and sometimes due to biological changes.

For example, changes to this circadian rhythm occur during adolescence, when most teens experience a sleep phase delay. This shift in teens’ circadian rhythm causes them to naturally feel alert later at night, making it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. Since most teens have early school start times along with other commitments, this sleep phase delay can make it difficult to get the sleep teens need. From here, for most adults, begins the mis-match between ideal sleep time and ideal sleep duration.