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Healthy Love: Your Heart, Your Mind, Your Body

I have some great news! Well, I have some great news if you are in love. (If you are not currently in love, I offer some great news for the future, when you are back in love.) Being in love is not only good for your Friday nights, it’s also good for your body, your mind, and your lifelong health! On the Huffington Post this week, Laura Schocker wrote a piece called “This is Your Body on Love.” I loved the piece and the hopefulness it gave me for the future. Let’s recap.

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1. Your heart is healthier! 
According to a recent research study in Finland, cardiac “events,” meaning heart attacks, heart disease, and blood clots, are much more common in unmarried men and women. Up to sixty-six percent more common, in fact. Obviously factors such as eating healthy and exercising regularly will also increase your chances of heart happiness, but it certainly won’t help to have a partner by your side, as well.

Furthermore, the magazine Psychological Science reported that “having a supportive spouse” was associated with hardened arteries, as well as the fact that happily married people are three times more likely to survive surgery after major heart operations.


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Yoga Helps Stroke Survivors Regain Balance, Coordination and Independence

The benefits of yoga continue to stretch across all walks of life. From teenagers needing a boost in self-esteem, to breast cancer survivors needing to relieve anxiety, yoga is not something to shun as some kind of weird activity with heavy spiritual undertones.

According to a recent study in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association, stroke survivors reduced their level of post-stroke disability by participating in a regular yoga routine. Survivors of a stroke often lose balance and coordination due to the damage that can arise within the brain. This leads to a greater risk of falling, potential dependence on a caregiver, and an increase in stress and tension that can contribute to depression and anxiety.

In the study, two groups of stroke survivors practiced yoga or yoga and relaxation. The other group, the control group, just received standard post-stroke medical care. After a battery of tests, both the yoga and the yoga and relaxation group showed improvements in balance, coordination, and reported feeling independent and empowered.
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Athletes Tolerate Pain Better than Non-Athletes, Study Shows

It’s obvious when talking to someone who’s an elite athlete as compared to someone who can barely run a mile, that there’s a difference in mindset and basic pain threshold. Up until recently, most people assumed this was a genetic trait; and it may still be in slight. But scientists now believe there might be something more revealing about the athlete’s ability to cope with pain.

In a recent study published in the journal Pain, scientists found that most athletes’ high pain tolerance while exercising may also help them deal with pain when they’re not exercising.

The study, which took place at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, found that athletes can tolerate more pain than their non-athletic friends. And this is because regular physical activity can alter the way a person – marathoner and couch potato alike – can perceive and tolerate pain.

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed 15 separate studies which compared the pain thresholds of very active and non-active individuals. What they found was athletes – especially elite level, endurance athletes – consistently seemed more capable of dealing with pain as compared to non-athletes.
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Treat Back Pain by Staying Active

Two women walking ourdoors for fitnessBy Elena Rover for Fitness Magazine

There’s nothing like all-consuming back pain to make you want to become one with the couch. If you’ve been there, you know what we mean. If not, consider yourself lucky: It’s pretty easy to push your back’s intricately entwined bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments out of their comfort zone. “We see a lot of women in their 20s and 30s coming in with back pain because they’ve returned to a sport out of condition or suddenly upped their exercise intensity,” says Daveed Frazier, MD, an assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. “Our bodies just aren’t designed to absorb the abuse we give them.”

When pain strikes, your initial response might be to rest. “But even just a few days of lying idle can lead to deconditioning and further harm,” says Roger Chou, MD, director of clinical guidelines development for the American Pain Society (APS). “Staying active helps keep the muscles and tendons loose and strong.” In fact, the thinking about back pain has shifted so much that the APS and the American College of Physicians recently released new treatment guidelines. Read on for the latest in pain prevention.


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Ginger Can Ease Your Post-Workout Pain

ginger rootTwo recent studies show that eating ginger after you work out can ease muscles soreness the following day. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds and volatile oils called gingerols that have been shown to have analgesic and sedative effects in animals. Researchers have now examined the effects in humans.

One study gave examined participants who did exercises designed to cause muscle pain over 11 days. Some of the participants where given raw ginger supplements, some heat-treated ginger supplements, and some a placebo. Both groups taking the ginger supplements reported less muscle pain. They conclude, “This study demonstrates that daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain following exercise-induced muscle injury.”


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