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    Natracure Blog — Health

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    What’s Worse For Your Bod: Sugar Or Salt?

    Let’s settle this once and for all. These days, the saying "everything in moderation" has become a battle cry for healthy eaters everywhere—but when it comes to sugar and salt, many of us just can't help ourselves. Even though both play several essential roles in our health (the brain needs sugar for energy, and muscles need salt to contract, for example), they can also cause a wide variety of health problems when consumed in excess, says Niket Sonpal, D.O., assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York. So which of these vices have a greater impact on our health, and why? Let's investigate. Sugar It's not so much naturally-occurring sugars (like those found in fruit) that experts have a problem with as it is refined and added sugars. "Milk and 100 percent fruit juice, for example, contain natural sugars and calories, but they also provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, protein (in milk), and polyphenols (in juice)," says Texas-based registered dietitian Kaleigh McMordie. Sugary beverages like soda and sweet tea, on the other hand, provide sugar and calories with little nutrition. The same goes for the majority of grab-and-go snack foods that surround us on the regular—they don't provide any nutritional benefits (like fiber, protein, or vitamins and minerals) unless they're stripped and then added back in later. Not surprisingly, overconsumption of these products can lead to obesity and nutrient deficiencies in one fell swoop, says McMordie. "All sugars, regardless of how they're labeled—white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar, brown sugar—have a similar effect on the body in raising blood sugar levels, causing the production of insulin," says Murdoc Khaleghi, M.D., medical director of WellnessFX. The body releases insulin in order to move sugar out of the blood and into the cells to use it as energy. Generally, this process is pretty seamless, but when you're consuming excess amounts of sugar, your body's fat storage skills go into overdrive. The uptick in insulin production can lead to insulin resistance, forcing the body to create more insulin, which then stores more fat, according to Khaleghi. Over time, insulin resistance and the subsequent weight gain from excessive sugar consumption can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, which can increase your risk for glaucoma, is a leading cause of kidney failure, and a is major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Worse, consumption of excess sugar, particularly refined sugars, can lead to changes in the body's metabolism and excessive inflammation, which can eventually segue into a variety of chronic diseases. "Certain kinds of sugar molecules, called fructose, are only processed by the liver," says Rachel Head, R.D., certified diabetes educator for One Drop. "When the liver is overwhelmed by processing too much fructose, a metabolic chain reaction can occur, with several studies linking this reaction to increased risks of abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease." Salt The human body needs salt to regulate fluids and carry electrical charges between cells. However, "while the effects of sugar are becoming increasingly understood, how salt affects our health is more debated," says Khaleghi. "For most healthy people, a moderate amount of salt is easily processed, and actually required by the body, while excess amounts may contribute to long-term health issues." Current dietary guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily (one teaspoon). However, most people take in an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium (the difference of one-third of a teaspoon, to put it into context), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many years, experts believed sodium caused fluid retention in the body, and a buildup of pressure in blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to major health problems, such as heart attack and stroke, as well as kidney and vision problems. However, the link between salt and high blood pressure has been under increased scrutiny. A 2014 study of over 8,000 French adults found that salt consumption wasn’t associated with systolic blood pressure in men or women. The study writers said that the link we assume exists between salt and blood pressure is “overstated” and “more complex than once thought.” A 2016 Women’s Health story on salt reported that there is no reliable proof that sodium actually contributes to blood pressure or the cardiac issues associated with it—rather, studies over the years have shown conflicting results about the mineral’s connection with cardiac problems. “For a regular healthy person, salt isn't necessarily detrimental when consumed in moderation,” McMordie says.  She however adds that some populations are more sensitive to salt—such as people over 50 and people who already have high blood pressure—making a change in sodium affects them more than others. A big problem with excess salt, McMordie says, is that the majority of it comes from processed and restaurant foods rather than the salt shaker. "These foods are typically also higher in fat and calories, and provide fewer nutrients than fresh foods prepared at home," says McMordie. This can lead to weight gain, among other health issues besides high blood pressure. Ok So...Which Is Worse? Neither are particularly dangerous so long as they're consumed in moderation, but head-to-head, excess sugar has more of a negative impact on your overall health, says Head. McMordie agrees: “Salt is essential for the body to function properly. Sugar is not.” A 2014 review in the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome also found that sugar can increase the negative affects of salt, too. Insulin orders your kidneys to retain sodium—and the more insulin the body produces, the more water and sodium the kidneys retain. The result? High blood pressure. To keep your sugar and salt intakes in check, focus on nutritious sources of carbs, such as whole grains, milk products, and fruit, says McMordie, and steer clear of foods that contain refined sugars and processed ingredients. Case closed. By Krissy Brady via MSN Health

    This Exercise Ages You Faster

    Exercise that was once considered the most effective way to look younger, get leaner and more fit…now linked to accelerated aging, inflammation and chronic age-related diseases. (Plus, what you can do instead to slow the aging process down to a crawl — so you can burn off age-related weight..and look and feel YEARS younger!) According to science, there’s a difference between chronological age and biological age, which means you can be 50 years old and literally have a body of a 40 year old. I’m sure you’ve met someone that not only looks 10 years younger, but has boundless energy and stamina. That being said, I’m sure you’ve seen the exact opposite as well, someone that looks and acts much too OLD for their actual age. So what’s the deal?  Is it genetics?  I know it sounds like the most reasonable answer.  But genetics have very little to do with how fast or slow you age.  Believe it or not, YOU have way more control over the aging process than you think. Seriously, it’s not science fiction… you CAN slow your aging process, BUT only if you know what to do. ...And I’m not talking about having to take anti-aging pills or hormone supplements.  Nope.  This is much safer and more effective.  It’s something you can do on your own. There are countless men and women who have cracked the code on aging and have literally slowed down their biological clock to a crawl.  And I’ll show you all the effective anti-aging tips and tricks in just a minute, but first let’s look at what happens as you age…

    1. Your metabolism slows down to a snail’s pace as you age.  This makes burning fat and losing weight next to impossible.
    2. The hormones responsible for all of your youth-like qualities such as healthy skin tone, strong lean muscle, robust energy and insatiable sex drive, start declining more and more each year that goes by.  And if you’re not proactive, your youth enhancing hormone levels may drop so low that there is no turning back.
    3. Aging makes your bones weaker and more brittle by robbing your body of vital minerals that are essential for strong bones.  This is why so many elderly people suffer from hip fractures that can lead to even more serious medical complications.
    4. It’s not just your physical qualities that get negatively affected by aging…your brain suffers as well.  Your memory, your ability to solve problems, and your decision making skills all start to decline and worsen each year.
    5. And here’s the real kicker:  After 40, your biological age starts to speed up and age faster than your chronological age!  In fact, for every year that passes you can age up to 6 months extra.  That means when you turn 42, your body is essentially turning 43…if you keep this up, at 48 your body could be as old as 52!!
    These are the harsh facts, but it’s the truth.  However, it doesn’t need to be this way.  YOU have the power to slow aging and prolong your youth.  When you apply my anti-aging strategies, you’ll be able to REVERSE the aging process by greatly slowing down your biological aging well below your chronological aging. Here’s what you can expect when you use some of my anti-aging strategies:
    1. You’ll re-ignite your metabolism, reprogramming your body so you can readily start burning fat right away.
    2. You’ll reboot your endocrine system, creating a resurgence of youth enhancing hormones so can get infinitely more energy—and replace flab with lean, strong muscle while boosting your sex drive
    3. You’ll fortify your body by regaining bone density and building a solid foundation.
    4. Boost your brain power, enhancing memory and improving your cognitive function making you as sharp as a tack
    5. You’ll dramatically decelerate your body’s aging process.  So, your biological age will age slower than your chronological age—making you look and feel younger each year that passes.
    Now I need to warn you… what you’re going to read next is probably going to go against everything you’ve ever heard before.  BUT that’s because very few people actually know how to slow their aging process. Think about the so-called “experts” giving you anti-aging tips… what do they look like?  If they don’t look 10 - 15 years younger than their actual age, do you really think they have the right knowledge? Look, I’m not one to judge by looks alone, but as far as anti-aging is concerned I’m taking advice from people that look the part and live the part… Now, here are the 3 WORST mistakes you must AVOID if you want to slow the aging process and increase your metabolism to burn fat, boost your youth enhancing hormones to get more energy & stamina, and build a lean, strong, healthy body: 1. Cardio Too many people think that cardio is the answer to everything related to weight-loss and fat-loss.  And although cardio can be helpful (if done properly), it does nothing to slow the aging process.  In fact, it does the exact opposite!.  Doing long frequent cardio sessions will break down your muscles and increase the production of free radicals.  These free radicals are nasty little things that damage the cells in your body and accelerate aging. Don’t worry if you’re concerned about your heart health.  There is a much more effective way to improve your cardiovascular health, which I’ll cover in just a minute.  And here’s the best part: it takes only 1/3 the time of a conventional cardio workout AND it also triggers your youth enhancing hormones instead of those nasty free radicals that age you faster! 2. A Low-Fat Diet It’s hard to believe that “low-fat” is still a dietary recommendation because science has proven that fat is not the cause of weight gain or heart disease.  In fact, since the introduction of the fat-free diet, the world has gotten more fat and sick than it has ever been before. Fat is not the enemy.  Fat does NOT make you fat.  In fact, fat is an absolute must if you want your body to look and feel younger!  Why?  Because healthy fats are an essential source of good cholesterol, which is KEY to producing the hormones that enhance your youthful qualities.  (Not all cholesterol is bad, by the way — good cholesterol is a crucial component of healthy skin tissue, making your skin more supple, glowing, and youthful).  If you’re following a low-fat diet, you’re depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to slow aging and keep your youth. 3. Yoga Yoga has been around for thousands of years and it’s still around after all this time because it’s very effective for things like improving your inner consciousness, mind-body connection and spiritual health.  However, it should NOT be considered an effective form of exercise.  Sure, some movements are difficult and physically challenging.  BUT strictly physiologically speaking, yoga lacks the necessary components to stimulate your body to build lean muscle, burn fat and most importantly… trigger your youth-enhancing hormones to help slow aging.  Yoga can improve your flexibility and calm your mind, but it will NOT stimulate your “youth” hormones. What To Do Next If you want to reverse the aging process, you need to know HOW to trigger your youth-enhancing hormones to slough away old, dead cells while elevating your metabolic process so you can burn away stubborn, flabby fat and replace it with lean, toned muscle. The answer is metabolic training.  Don’t worry, it’s not as technical as it sounds.  Let me explain… Metabolic training involves doing certain types of exercises that involve your entire body, so you can activate as many muscles as you can in a short amount of time.  It’s completely different from doing traditional isolated body building exercises (like biceps curls or leg curls) where you’re only using one muscle at a time.  This form of exercise takes way too long and doesn’t stimulate enough muscle fibers to increase your fat-burning and youth-enhancing hormones. Here’s the key: the more muscles you’re able to activate at the same time, the more you’ll be able to trigger your youth-enhancing hormones.  This is why using exercises that involve your entire body (upper body and lower body) at the same time is crucial. That’s not all…there’s a particular way you want perform these exercises, because doing so will trigger your most effective fat burning hormones, so you can burn off your old excess fat that’s been hanging around way too long. And here’s the best part… you can replace your flabby body parts with lean, toned muscle by simply following these exercise protocols, because not only do they trigger your youth-enhancing hormones and fat-burning hormones—they also boosts your testosterone.  Testosterone is your ultimate lean-muscle building—hormone for BOTH men and women.  And much like other hormones, your testosterone levels naturally start to decline after the age of 40, which is why it’s so difficult to gain lean muscle and maintain that youthful body tone as you get older. Turning back the clock is easy when you know HOW to trigger the right hormones in your body.  And I’ll show you the specifics behind this easy, insanely effective method on the next page.  Soon you’ll be able to trigger your youth enhancing hormones, along with your fat-burning and lean-muscle building hormones so you can defy the aging process and look and feel 10 years younger! By Shin Ohtake via MAX Workouts

    Got Cabin Fever? You Need These 8 Rules for Exercising Outside all Winter Long

    Baby, it's cold outside...so you better just stay inside, bundled up, and skip your workout right? Wrong! It is possible to exercise outside, all year long! We've rounded up some tips to help you stay fit through these cold winter months and a few occasions when you should stay inside instead. 1. WARM-UPS ARE A MUST A proper warm-up is the precursor to any quality workout but it is more important than ever when you workout outdoors in cool or cold conditions. 'Always start with a warm up! Don't skip it because you are cold and want to jump into your workout,' says Erin Houg, owner of FIT4MOM Eastside in Redmond, Washington. Sprains, strains, and tears are much more likely in a body that hasn't warmed up, so before you jump into your workout, spend a few minutes to loosen up. Houg recommends utilizing large muscle groups first because it will warm up your body faster and is a good practice for avoiding an injury, whether you're working out indoors or out. Get toasty fast with these tricks to making your body feel warmer. 2. TAKE TIME TO REFLECT The winter not only brings the cold, it also brings shorter days and more morning and evening darkness. 'If you're working out closer to dusk or dawn, reflective gear is a must,' says Nichole Malkiel, holistic health coach and group fitness Instructor at Shape Your Being LLC based in Fairfield, Connecticut. You should also be extra aware of your surroundings and watching for cars and traffic while exercising outdoors, she suggests. 3. LAYERS ARE YOUR FRIEND 'I rely heavily on layers, which are easy to shed if you get too warm,' says Malkiel. But you always want to cover your head, ears, fingers, and toes as they tend to get cold quickly, she adds. Learn how to layer the smart way. 4. WATCH THE WIND CHILL FACTOR 'It's important to take into consideration not only air temperatures but also wind chill factor,' says Malkiel. Although frostbite isn't likely to occur in temperatures above 5 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Mayo Clinic, the risk increases greatly with higher winds or rain. 'If the temperature is hovering around freezing and the wind is over five miles per hour, I bring my classes in,' she says. Find out the other surprising ways your body deals with freezing temps. 5. SLATHER ON THE SUNSCREEN Yes, even in the winter. Skin is exposed to sun and UV rays during all daylight hours, even when it's cloudy and cold. If you've ever seen a friend post-ski vacation with an awkward sunburn, you know that sun damage doesn't only happen in the summer. Snow is highly reflective, so slather on a sweat-proof sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, anytime you head outdoors to exercise. Find out other sunscreen mistakes to avoid. 6. WATCH OUT FOR FALLS Malkiel says that when the ground is icy or snowy, the risks of working out outdoors become greater than the benefits. 'Although we enjoy being outside as much as possible, it's far too easy to get injured on snow or ice,' she says. Since slips and falls are way more common in colder months and especially in poor footwear, make sure to wear quality shoes with good traction for any outdoor workouts, regardless of weather conditions. 7. ADDRESS ASTHMA 'Check with your doctor if you have preexisting conditions such as asthma,' says Malkiel since, according to the AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology), both exercise and cold, dry weather can exacerbate or trigger asthma symptoms. That's because the nose usually warms and moistens air for the lungs but, during intense exercise, mouth breathing is more common. As a result cold and dry air has more direct access to the lungs. (These are clear signs you have exercise-induced asthma.) 8. SHAKE OFF THE RAIN Unless temperatures are too low, working out in the rain is completely doable, with water-resistant gear. 'There is something about the fresh air and being in Washington state where we get a lot of rain—it is the nature of our area,' says Houg. 'We learn to deal with it rather than avoid it. One of our mottos at FIT4MOM is 'We train in the rain and we mean it!'' (Though class is canceled during a thunderstorm.) By Anne Fritz via MSN Health

    10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

    It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner -- frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor's, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you're like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two by New Year's Day. So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity. But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. "Portion control is the key," says Susan Finn, PhD, RD. Finn serves as chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. "I don't believe you can't eat food that you like -- even indulgences -- but it is the amount you eat," she tells WebMD. Of course, it's not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. That's why WebMD compiled these tips to help you avoid overindulging. 1. Never Arrive Hungry New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. "Don't go to a party when you're starving," she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate. 2. Divert Your Attention Many people forget that there's more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg tells WebMD. "Don't look at the party as just a food event," she says. "Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than food." Finn agrees. She says chatting is a great diversion, whether you're at a small family dinner or a large party. "Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation." 3. Pace Yourself Have you ever tried telling yourself you'll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. "If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food." To munch at a leisurely pace, Finn recommends putting your fork down between every bite. "This puts you in control." 4. Count Your Canaps When there are canaps, it's easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and stick to it. 5. Outsmart the Buffet When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. "Go for the simplest foods on the buffet," Finn says. "Fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips." 6. Limit Alcohol Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. "It's not just about calories but about control," Finn explains. "If you drink a lot you, won't have as much control over what you eat." If you feel out of place without a drink, Goldberg suggests sipping water or club soda, "soyou have something to carry like everyone else." 7. Be Choosy About Sweets When it comes to dessert, be very selective. "Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you," Goldberg says. Her personal rule on sweets: "If it's going to have calories, it has to be chocolate." What about sampling several desserts, if you only take a tiny bite of each one? "You have to know yourself," Goldberg says. "Some people can eat one bite of something and stop. I don't think most people can do that. "If you know you're the type who can't stop at one bite, you're better off taking a small portion of a single dessert than piling your plate with several treats you plan to "try." 8. Bring Your Own Treats Whether you're going to a friend's party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you'll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting. And don't feel your dessert has to be typical holiday fare. "Get away from rigid thinking about what holiday food has to be," Goldberg says. "People love fruit." 9. Limit 'Tastes' While Cooking If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those "tastes." "People lose their appetites when they've been cooking because they've been eating the whole time," Finn tells WebMD. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning. "Just put the spoon in and taste a little bit," Finn says. "It's not grounds for a big scoop." For tried-and-true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served. 10. Walk It Off Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for awhile. "Get people off the couch and move," Finn says. "Go out for a walk as a family before or after the meal." She says walking not only benefits you physically but also puts you in a mindset to be more careful about what you eat. "There's something about activity that puts you in control." By Susan G. Rabin, MA via WebMD

    10 Cheap Ways to Keep Skin Healthy This Winter

    Winter weather isn't just chilly -- it's often downright arid. The harsh weather conditions and low humidity can strip skin of moisture, rendering it dry, scaly, and itchy. Resist the urge to reach for pricey creams and serums, though, and instead heed these tips to soothe skin on the cheap for the rest of the season. BUNDLE UP Dry skin and chapped lips are often the result of prolonged exposure to a cold, dry environment. When temperatures dip and the wind picks up, gloves, scarves, and even sunglasses protect against freezing, dry air. If you have sensitive skin, try to wear only smooth, natural fibers and avoid potentially irritating fabrics such as wool near the face. HUMIDIFY THE HOME As the temperature drops, humidity tends to do the same, and the dry air leeches moisture from skin. Indoor heat sources only make matters worse, so set the thermostat as low as you can bear and use a humidifier in the rooms where you spend the most time. A good cheap humidifier might cost $50 or so but should last far longer than a jar of lotion. An even cheaper alternative: Simply place bowls of water around the home. The water will slowly evaporate and add moisture to the air. Houseplants with large leaves also boost the moisture level around them. WASH WITH CARE The body produces oils to lubricate skin and prevent over-drying, but overzealous washing strips away those oils. Limit yourself to one short bath or shower a day, using mild soap. When washing your face, avoid astringents and cleansers that contain alcohol unless you have acne-prone skin. Although hot water may appeal on a cold morning, dermatologists suggest bathing in warm or cool water instead. USE SOAP-FREE BODY AND FACE WASH Lathering up in the shower may seem like the best way to get clean, but the sodium lauryl sulfate in many face and body washes is known to irritate and strip skin of moisture. Cleansers marketed as "soap-free" or "sulfate-free" could relieve excessively dry skin. MAXIMIZE MOISTURE Apply lotion immediately after washing hands or stepping out of the shower to lock in moisture. It also helps to keep the bathroom door closed to maintain high humidity while applying lotion or cream. Pay particular attention to vulnerable body parts such as hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Make moisturizer more effective by exfoliating skin every week to get rid of dead cells that sit on the top layer of the skin, making it flaky and rough. MAKE YOUR OWN MOISTURIZER Many homemade moisturizer recipes call for ingredients that may already be in the kitchen and promise savings over store-bought creams. Search sites such as Pinterest for a DIY skin-care regimen. If you'd rather buy cheap moisturizer than make it, a key ingredient to look for is glycerin, which attracts and locks in moisture. TRY AN OIL Healthy oils serve a variety of purposes but have one unique, cheap benefit: They are excellent skin moisturizers. While olive oil is one of the most popular, grapeseed, avocado, and sweet almond oil are regularly praised for their moisture-locking properties. Like lotions and cream-based moisturizers, oils work best when applied to damp skin, preferably after showering. RESIST LIP LICKING The body's natural instinct to relieve dry lips is to lick them. However convenient, repeated licking only dries out lips even more. The acids and enzymes in saliva actually cause the moisture already on the lips to evaporate. Instead, keep handy a lip balm that doesn't contain menthol or camphor, two drying agents. MOISTURIZE FROM WITHIN Like lotions and oils that go on the body, what goes in the body affects how the skin appears. Winter is the ideal time to consume foods such as olive oil, which contains a compound called squalene that protects the skin from ultraviolet rays and moisture loss.Salmon, almonds, and sweet potatoes are other foods recommended by beauty experts to nourish and replenish moisture in the skin. DON'T FORGET SPF The sun can be insidious in the winter, as people who slather themselves in sunscreen all summer let their guard down once it gets cold. UV rays can still cause damage, so protect skin by choosing a moisturizer and lip balm with sun protection factor, or SPF. By Tahirah Blanding via MSN Health