Friday, December 30, 2011

How to Avoid a Hangover

If you find yourself drinking more than you planned at a holiday party, one expert has some tips to avoid a nasty hangover.
We spoke to Jonathan Pogash, hospitality holdings director of cocktail development at the World Bar in New York City, who gave us the 411 on how have a good time without paying for it the next day.
Pogash said there are certain drinks you should avoid if you want to decrease your chances of a bad hangover.
“One would be a Long Island Iced Tea,” Pogash said. “It has too many different liquors, a lot of sugar and cheap liquor. You definitely want to avoid all that.”
So what should you drink – besides a lot of water?
Stick to fresh ingredients that don’t contain too much sugar, Pogash recommended, and always skip the cheap stuff. If you are going to drink, opt for high-end products.
Also, try to drink cocktails that are high in antioxidants, like cranberries or pomegranates.
Pogash said sometimes adding an egg white to a drink, like in a pomegranate fizz, can be a good idea because the egg adds protein to the drink while making it frothy.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Surviving the Holidays, Healthfully and Happily

You’ve already hit five holiday parties and it’s not even New Years. You’re ditching the gym after work to keep up with all the friends and family coming in from out of town.  You’re now eating at your desk when a month before, eating over a keyboard seemed criminal.
How to stay on track this season? The occasional, “No!” Yes, that’s right—and it feels good! It’s time to start taking care of you! Or else, you’ll be lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  My tips and tricks will help you stay on target. They’re my top three sure-fire tools to make your holidays happy and healthy. Use them—they work!
Schedule your workouts
Yes. Pencil your sweat sessions in! Mark them in your Blackberry, iPhone, desk calendar or whatever you use—the point is to make a commitment. This way you’re more likely to follow through. And just think, you never regret going to the gym, but you do regret not going. There’s nothing like that sweet sweaty endorphin rush.
Batch cook
You’re on the go, so make your food fit your lifestyle! Pick two or three times per week where you’ll cook a bunch of chicken, turkey or tofu; quinoa or brown rice; and chop up some veggies. This way you can quickly throw together a healthy home-cooked meal and be out the door in no time. Or, just have something healthful and easy to assemble when you get home.
Preparation is key! Without preparing you may be left stranded with no healthy eats! Imagine, you’re at work—starving—and you’ve got nothing to nosh except your co-workers bowl of candy a few cubicles over. Don’t let this happen to you! Toss some fruit and nuts in your bag, or a healthy bar. Or, even better, bring a mini-cooler or lunch bag  to work and load it up with healthy snacks—fruits and veggies are a must; nuts; and your lunch. This way your environment will be set for success, and you’ll be ready for another healthy day!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

High-Tech Weight Loss Tools

Text Messages
How they work: A service sends texts to remind you about healthy diet and exercise habits.
How they help: Think of the service as a virtual trainer/life coach who checks in on you and keeps you focused on your goals. In a 2009 study at the University of California, San Diego, people who received texts about healthy behaviors (for instance, “Control portions by dividing a large bag of snacks into smaller containers”) lost four pounds more than those who didn’t. Look for text services created by qualified experts, like medical doctors and registered dietitians.
Check out:, created by experts at the Medical University of South Carolina, delivers a daily diet tip. gives diet and fitness advice from nutritionists and exercise physiologists.
How they work: Apps allow you to track calorie intake and log workouts on your smartphone.
How they help: Many studies have shown that keeping a food or workout journal can increase weight loss. But it can be a pain to whip out a notebook several times a day, then add up calories or miles logged on the track. Apps are portable and make the accounting feel like a game.
Check out: Lose It! tracks diet (there’s nutritional information for more than 50,000 foods), exercise, and weight loss. MapMyFitness tracks workouts and can even help you find running, walking, and biking routes in your area.
Wireless Body Monitors
How they work: Think of them as upgraded pedometers: They track steps, calories, and weight.
How they help: The numbers don’t lie. “People often under- or overestimate their caloric intake and expenditure,” says Steven N. Blair, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia. In a study that Blair and his colleagues conducted, published in 2011, people who used a wireless device lost twice as much weight as people who didn’t, possibly because they saw how their choices affected their weight daily.
Check out: The BodyMedia Fit Core Armband ($180, with three months of free website access, reports calorie burn with nearly 100 percent accuracy. The Fitbit Ultra clip-on tracker ($100, syncs its data with your computer wirelessly.
Fitness Video Games
How they work: Pop an activity-oriented game (anything from dancing to ski jumping) into your Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, or Xbox 360 and log in a workout without leaving your living room.
How they help: The variety of options makes this an ideal solution if you’re tired of just loping along on a treadmill. Although you typically won’t burn as many calories as you would doing the real thing, studies indicate that workout games help people stick with an exercise routine, and consistency is the name of the game when it comes to fitness-related health benefits. Games are also a good way to get the whole family involved in exercise.
Check out: Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 ($50,, for the Xbox 360 with Kinect, lets you engage in various activities, including cardio boxing and yoga. The Zumba Fitness 2 ($40, for stores), for the Nintendo Wii, is an upbeat cardio-dance workout.
Interactive Websites and Social Networks
How they work: Log on to get fitness and nutrition plans, track your diet and exercise, and interact with others who share your goals via message boards and tweets.
How they help: Research shows that the accountability that comes with group participation can be instrumental in successful weight loss; teaming up with others keeps you engaged when motivation lags. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the more often people used an interactive site after losing weight (on average, it was at least once a month for more than two years), the more successful they were at maintaining the weight loss. “There is growing evidence that surrounding yourself with healthy people, even virtually, helps you carry out your own healthy behaviors,” says Mark Carroll Pachucki, Ph.D., a social scientist and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

15 Lazy Moves That Ramp Up Health

Staying healthy can feel like so much, well, work (think: logging hours at the gym and whipping up nutritious meals from scratch). However, there are plenty of small moves that you can make in your everyday life that will have big health benefits. We've rounded up 15 practically zero-effort ways to fight disease, whittle your waist, lower stress, and more. Bonus: Many of these good-for-you moves feel good, too. So say sayonara to the old adage, "no pain, no gain" and try these tips today.

Lazy Move #1:  Protect Your Ticker By Snoozing
Need a good excuse to grab your comfiest set of pajamas and hit the sack? Skimping on shut-eye may do more than make you cranky or unproductive—it also boosts your risk of a heart attack. According to one Norwegian study, people who reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed in the morning had a 27% higher risk of a heart attack, those who had trouble staying asleep almost every night in the last month had a 30% higher risk, and those who had trouble falling asleep almost every night in the last month had odds that jumped to 45%.
Some researchers speculate that insomnia might trigger your body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been linked with high blood pressure and diabetes, which are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Plus, when you're exhausted you may be more likely to make unhealthy choices that up your heart disease risk, such as skipping your workout or reaching for fatty or sugary snacks for a quick energy fix.

Lazy Move #2:  Ward Off Weight Gain with Protein
You may not have to stress so much about cutting calories: Whether you're packing on the pounds or simply want to maintain your current weight, adding more protein to your dish could be your slim-down secret weapon. Past research has found that protein keeps you feeling full longer than either carbs or fat, so you can eat less and still be satiated. A new study supports this idea: Researchers from the University of Sydney estimated that the extra calories eaten by participants in their study eating the lowest protein diets could add up to an extra 2.2 pounds of weight gain a month.
Protein is the building block of muscle, and more calories are required to maintain muscle than to preserve fat, which means muscle helps boost your metabolism. Bonus: Foods rich in protein are also filled with zinc and B vitamins, both of which strengthen your immune system to ward off colds and flu. If you're eating about 1,800 calories a day and want to get 15% of your calories from protein, you should aim for about 68 grams of protein.
Here are 3 easy protein switches that up your protein intake for the same number of calories or less. Remember, you want to eat more protein—not calories!—to keep your waistline slim.
Instead of...1/2 cup granola with 1 cup berries (7 grams protein, 250 calories)

Try...1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1 cup berries (15 grams protein, 131 calories)
Instead of...1 1/4 cup mashed potatoes (5 grams protein, 296 calories)

Try...1 1/4 cup vegetarian baked beans (15 grams protein, 295 calories)
Instead of...6-inch pancake sans butter or syrup (5 grams protein, 175 calories)

Try...1 cup low-fat plain yogurt with ½ cup apricots (13 grams protein, 186 calories)

Lazy Move #3:  Pop Vitamin D to Live Longer
Have you had your dose of vitamin D today? A growing body of research shows that not getting enough of this nutrient can trigger a slew of health problems—and experts believe that most of us have a vitamin D deficiency. Though current guidelines call for 600 to 800 IU daily, many researchers now believe we may need up to 4,000 IU.
The very latest research supports the case that the "sunshine vitamin" is a powerful health booster. In fact, people who get enough vitamin D have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.  Experts speculate that the nutrient's anti-inflammatory powers might be one way that it offers protection against the disease.
Getting enough D may also improve asthma. Earlier research found that having low levels may make asthma symptoms worse, and a new study finds that lacking in D could make breathing harder by increasing airway smooth muscle mass in children with treatment-resistant asthma, according to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The "sunshine vitamin" may also help ward off cancer. A whopping 77% of cancer patients have low levels of vitamin D, and the lowest levels are linked to more advanced cancers, suggests a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology. More research is being done on how vitamin D might help prevent or even treat cancer.

Lazy Move #4:  Up Your Antioxidants with a New Super Fruit
The largest edible fruit native to North America, the pawpaw will grow pretty much anywhere, although it does best in the Northeast and the Midwest, says Ken Asmus, owner of Oikos Tree Crops, a Kalamazoo, Michigan–based nursery that sells pawpaw tree seedlings. Their fruit ripens around the end of August and lasts until mid-October, but Asmus says the fruit on his trees in Michigan are just starting to ripen, owing to a cool spring.
Some nutritionists and foodies think pawpaws could be the next superfood. They have 20 to 70 times as much iron, 10 times as much calcium, and 4 to 20 times as much magnesium as bananas, apples, and oranges, Asmus has found. And research from Ohio State has found that they have antioxidant levels that rival cranberries and cherries. An added health bonus: Being a native tree, pawpaws are resistant to most pests and diseases, making them very easy to grow organically, without the insecticides or fungicides used in most fruit orchards.
Just don't look for them at the grocery store; you're more likely to find a pawpaw at your local farmer's market—if you aren't already growing them in your backyard.

Lazy Move #5:  Rock Out to Exercise Longer
Music fuels your workout—whether you're lifting weights, practicing yoga, or going for a power walk. And it's not just in your head. Researchers at Brunel University in London found that runners who listened to upbeat, energizing rock or pop music (like Queen, Madonna, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers) exercised up to 15% longer--and felt great while doing it.

Lazy Move #6:  Boost Brain Power with Chocolate
Are you a chocoholic? Turns out your little addiction may save your life. A recent study found that those consuming the highest levels of chocolate had a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared to those with lower chocolate intakes.
Though experts are quick to clarify that we should stick to moderate consumption of high-calorie chocolates, it's hard to deny the cold, hard facts that chocolate can be a healthy addition to our diets. Another study finds that chocolate may also boost brainpower.
Flavonols, compounds in chocolate with antioxidant-like properties, are thought to improve circulation, including blood flow to the brain. Study participants were asked to count backward in groups of three from a number between 800 and 999. After drinking hot cocoa filled with flavonols, the participants were able to do calculations more quickly and accurately and were less likely to feel tired or mentally drained.

Lazy Move #7:  Soothe Arthritis Pain Naturally
Pain, tenderness, and stiffness in your joints can keep you from doing the things you love. That may be the reality for people who suffer from osteoarthritis (OA). OA is the most common type of arthritis, occurs in women more often than men, and happens when the cartilage in your joints wears down as you age.
Some natural remedies have been shown to be effective anti-inflammatories. Taking 500 mg twice daily of the combined herbal supplements curcumin and boswellia was better for relieving pain and lowering joint line tenderness scores than taking 100 mg twice daily of the prescription drug celecoxib, finds a clinical study presented at the Osteoarthritis Research Symposium Internationale (OARSI) in San Diego. According to the study, 93% of the herbal group reported improvement in or elimination of pain compared with just 79% of the prescription drug group. You can get the herbal combination in a supplement called Healthy Knees and Joints from the Terry Naturally product line, or at your local health food store.

Lazy Move #8: Fight a Cold with Red Wine
Need something to toast to? The resveratrol and polyphenols in red wine work the same way that beneficial bacteria in yogurt do: When cold and flu viruses enter you system, they start to multiply, and these compounds prevent that from happening. To get the most bang for your buck, grab a bottle of California pinot noir. Tests have found it to have some of the highest levels of resveratrol. Don't drink? Eat some grape leaves or peanuts, the red inner husks of which are also high in resveratrol.

Friday, December 2, 2011

11 Holiday Health Tips

Follow this advice to enjoy a little holiday indulgence without sacrificing your health goals
Indulging Without Overindulging
1. Relax. You won’t gain 10 pounds. It’s a misconception that you’ll need to go up a pant size in January. The average person gains only about a pound during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That’s no excuse to eat with abandon, though. (After all, gaining one pound every year can add up in the long run.) But a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology notes that people who had an attitude of forgiveness and self-compassion after one high-calorie setback were less likely to give up and keep bingeing. So if you lose control with a dish of chocolate truffles, don’t think, I’ve blown it. Might as well move on to the eggnog. Just forgive yourself for the truffles.
2. Don’t skip meals. It seems logical: Forgo lunch; leave more room for pigs in blankets at the office party later. But arriving starved may result in overeating, and drinking on an empty stomach will give you a quicker buzz, which is more likely to lead to mindless munching. Eat normally during the day, and be strategic at the buffet. Don’t bother with things you don’t absolutely love. Splurge on something special (hint: It’s not those cubes of Cheddar), then stop.
3. Turn down Aunt Jan’s pie. “It’s better to sit with a little guilt than to overeat just to please loved ones,” says Diaz. If you can’t say no to Jan’s face, try “Maybe later,” then hope she forgets.
Give yourself a break from the gym. According to a Gallup poll, the percentage of people who exercise regularly is lower in December than at any other time of the year. So don’t beat yourself up—you’re not the only one who’s too busy for Spinning class. But try to stay active in other ways. Speed-walking with shopping bags counts. So does cleaning, says Mark Macdonald, the author of Body Confidence. Add some toning by tightening your core muscles as you vacuum or reach for scattered toys (imagine trying to get your belly button to touch your spine). And most important: Get back into your regular exercise routine once the holidays end.
Drinking Responsibly
4. Practice moderation (really). Drinking too much may not just mean a terrible hangover. Around this time of year, doctors report seeing a spike in erratic heartbeats—dubbed “holiday heart syndrome.” It is more common among people who usually aren’t heavy drinkers but drink in excess for a short time. “Alcohol may be toxic to enough cardiac cells that it disrupts the coordination required to maintain a normal heart rate,” says Kenneth Mukamal, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. “Women should have no more than three drinks on any occasion and seven per week,” says Michael Weaver, an associate professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, in Richmond. “So a woman can have up to three drinks in a night and go out two nights, but that’s it for the week—or else the chances of problems go way up.”
5. Keep it on the rocks. Melting ice dilutes a cocktail and creates more liquid. So order your drink on the rocks to try to avoid a quick buzz—and to sip longer before a refill. Use soda water as a mixer for liquor (a cocktail with liquor and club soda is only about 100 calories), and don’t be ashamed to add ice cubes to bubbly. In France, it’s called a piscine. Très chic.
6. Put a cork in it early. Alcohol may help you to conk out quickly; the problem comes when it starts to wear off. The period in which your body is metabolizing the alcohol is when sleep is disrupted. You may wake up frequently in the middle of the night (even if you don’t remember doing so) and miss out on restorative rest. The best strategy is to allow time for the alcohol levels in your body to drop before going to sleep; at the very least, retire your flute several hours before bedtime.
A to ZZZs of Sleep Deprivation
7. Don’t let late nights make you fat. “People who sleep less over time tend to be heavier,” says Lawrence Epstein, the chief medical officer of the Sleep Health Centers, in Brighton, Mass. But it doesn’t take long for the cycle to start. “If you pull one all-nighter or miss a few hours each night over a week, your body releases hormones that prompt eating and weight gain,” says Epstein.
8. Watch out for hidden caffeine. Think hot cocoa is a soothing way to end a winter’s night? Hold on to your marshmallows. Chocolate, even the powdered kind, contains caffeine, as do many over-the-counter pain medicines that you might pop at night to get a head start on a hangover. Excedrin Extra-Strength Caplets, for example, contain 65 milligrams of caffeine; by comparison, the average cup of coffee contains 50 to 100.
Beating the Blues
9. Don’t assume that this is the most depressing time of the year.
 Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t more common during the holidays. In fact, suicide rates in the United States are actually lowest in December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
“This may be a result of more social interaction, which has been found to enhance happiness,” says Caroline Adams Miller, the author of Creating Your Best Life. But that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to the holiday blues, especially when you’re missing a family member or stressed-out by the in-laws. Make plans with friends if your family is far away—or, on the flip side, opt out of events if your schedule is overwhelming. “You don’t have to be a type E personality—everything to everyone,” says Ronald Nathan, a psychologist in Albany.
10. Consider a supplement. Is there a magic pill that will cure the blues? Of course not. But some research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may relieve depression; other research has found that vitamin D may improve mood. Add a daily supplement of omega-3 or vitamin D to your diet. Or increase your intake of vitamin D–fortified milk or foods rich in omega-3s, such as fish, flaxseed, and walnuts.
Take Facebook with a grain of salt. You’ve seen the status updates: “Hope Santa can find us in ARUBA!” or “Mmm, homemade cider, kids making cookies, life is good.” And you know what? Those people have bad days, too. 

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