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Three Benefits of Dog Ownership You May Not Know About…

5 Sep

Many people already know that there are benefits to owning a dog, but our wet-nosed companions are more than just alarm systems, body guards, outing buddies, and members of the family. Here are three benefits to dog ownership you may not have known about…

  • Owning a dog may lower the risk of heart disease. An American Heart Association-sponsored study discovered a link between lower levels of heart disease and dog ownership. The group states that it is unclear whether dog ownership and cardiovascular health have a direct correlation, and it is possible that healthier people are more likely to be dog owners. However, having a dog meant that owners “engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.”
  • Dog ownership is good for people 60 years of age and older. Researchers at the University of Missouri concluded in a recent study that “Dog walking is associated with lower body mass index, fewer doctor visits, more frequent exercise and an increase in social benefits for seniors.” They added that seniors who have a strong bond with their dogs are more likely to walk their pets, which has the added benefit of socializing with other pet owners.
  • Benefits for children with autism. Children with autism spectrum disorder may benefit from contact with dogs. According to researchers, interacting with dogs can help children learn responsibility and provide stress relief and companionship in an environment of unconditional, nonjudgmental love.

Getting a dog can have many benefits, but it is important to remember that many of the rewards come from the development of a relationship. A person should be ready to provide a loving and protective home for a dog before bringing one home.

The Health Benefits of Honey Go Far Beyond Soothing a Sore Throat…

8 Aug

Most people have experienced the soothing effects of sipping on a warm cup of tea with honey while suffering from a cold, but the health benefits of honey extend beyond relieving the ache of a sore throat. Here are a few facts about honey:

  • There are over 300 different types of honey in the United States Variations come from the different types of flowers from which the bees collect their pollen. A few of the different types are, buckwheat, orange blossom, tupelo, wildflower, sage, blueberry, alfalfa, clover, and eucalyptus. Different floral sources result in an array of colors and flavors ranging from light and mild in flavor to dark and robust.
  • Honey may hold the key to finding new antibiotics. Researchers have discovered that bees create a protein called defensin-1 that they add to the honey. Scientist hope that the same compounds in honey can one day be used to “treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections.”
  • Honey contains antioxidants. Eating foods with antioxidant properties is important because “Antioxidants— substances that slow the oxidation of other substances—counter the toxic effects of free radicals, which can cause DNA damage that can lead to age-related problems such as arthritis, strokes, and cancer.”

So, if you are interested in adding honey to your diet, there are a few things to keep in mind… Honey should never be given to an infant under twelve months old. Look for local honey sources (farmers markets are a good place to start), but know that unprocessed honey can cause an allergic reaction. And if you have a bee hive in or around your home, know that calling a professional to move the colony to a safe place for both bees and people is an option.

The Important Benefits of Drinking Enough Water!

18 Jul

With the availability of beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and juice, it’s easy to miss out on one of the most important liquids that should fill our cup—water.

So how much water should a person drink to stay healthy? One study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that properly hydrated women consume about 2.7 liters (91 fluid ounces) of total water a day. That being said, factors like physical activity, hot or humid weather, high altitude, or having an illness can play a part in how much fluid a person should take in.

Drinking enough water has important health benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Weight Control – Not only does switching out a high-sugar, caloric beverage for water help reduce excess energy consumption, but it may also aid in determining whether or not the body is signaling for food or hydration. One study found that obese individuals who drank more water had increased energy expenditure and weight change when blood carbohydrate and insulin concentrations were not elevated.
  • Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease – A recent study found a connection between dehydration and negative endothelial function with impaired cardiovascular health in humans. The study out of the European Journal of Nutrition claims that, “Mild dehydration can impair vascular function nearly as much as smoking a cigarette.”
  • Stabilizes the Brain – Research into adolescent dehydration discovered that inadequate consumption of water can cause headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive function. It is unlikely that these ailments are restricted to the adolescent age demographic.
  • The Harvard School of Public Health claims “Drinking enough water is essential for physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal.”

So, how do you know if you’re drinking enough water? Here are some things to look out for that may indicate dehydration: decreased urine output, dry skin, headaches, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, or fatigue.

Some Teens with a Healthy BMI May Still Be at an Increased Risk for Cardiovascular Disease as Adults!

9 Jun

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by his or her height in meters squared. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines normal weight, overweight, and obesity by BMI rather than the traditional height/weight charts.

Because research has shown a higher BMI during adulthood increases a person’s risk for a host of health problems, a team of Israeli researchers used long-term data collected from 2.3 million individuals from their teen years through late adulthood to see if BMI during adolescence is predictive of future health issues.

Their study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that even teens with a body mass index considered normal may have a greater risk for cardiovascular problems later in life. For teenagers, a normal weight is one that falls within the 5th and 85th percentile for their age group. Those whose BMI sits between the 85th and 95th percentile are overweight and those in the 95th percentile or higher are obese in comparison to their peers. In this study, the data show teens in the 50th to 74th percentiles, which is considered to be normal weight, had an elevated risk of cardiovascular death in adulthood when compared with those in the lower percentiles. (Additionally, those who are considered overweight or obese as teens are more likely to experience health problems as they age, possibly because they’re more likely to remain overweight or obese in adulthood.)

The authors of this study note that they’ve also observed a trend of increasing BMI among teens over time, indicating that more are placing themselves at greater risk for cardiovascular disease as they grow older. They no doubt would stress the importance of teenagers creating healthy lifestyle habits while they’re young (like eating healthy foods, staying away from junk food, not smoking or drinking alcohol, getting enough sleep, exercising, maintaining healthy vitamin D levels, etc.) so it’s easier to live a healthy life when they’re adults.


More Benefits from Eating Cruciferous Vegetables!

11 Apr

The health benefits that come with consuming cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, and collard greens, to name a few) don’t stop at possibly reducing your risk for several cancers. Here are a few other ways that these power-packed foods can improve your life:

  • Reduces the risk of vascular complications in diabetics.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes.
  • Protects the body against UV damage to the skin and is considered and anti-aging agent.
  • Provides defense against cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduces the incidents of uterine fibroids.
  • Helps to enhance and sustain visual and auditory attention

Researchers continue to investigate the different ways cruciferous vegetables can help protect and improve the body, but with so many reasons on record already, there is more than enough incentive to put a few of these vegetables on your dinner plate.

In a roundtable interview from 2015, an interviewer asked actor Jon Voight, “If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” His response? Broccoli. While it may not have been the most glamorous response to a question that seemed to be looking for a more indulgent answer, it was one with wider-reaching implications. Broccoli is a food he knows can help keep him healthy so he can live the life he wants to live. Fortunately, no one has to survive on broccoli alone, but incorporating it into your diet can keep your body both healthy and efficient.

The Benefits of Vitamin A!

8 Mar

Did you know that vitamin A (retinol) is a powerful anti-oxidant with many health benefits?

  • Vitamin A helps protect the surface of the cornea, and studies have shown it may also play a role in reducing the risk of macular degeneration. While vitamin A deficiency is rare in the developed world, it’s the leading cause of blindness among children in the developing world.
  • It also protects the skin from signs of premature aging and can be used as part of a topical treatment for damaged skin.
  • The vitamin is consumed as pre-made vitamin A (retinol) through animal sources such as beef, poultry, whole milk, and cheese. Plant-based foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale are rich in beta-carotene, a substance the human body can convert into vitamin A.
  • Though considered rare, consuming too much vitamin A can lead to toxicity issues, so talk with your healthcare provider before adding vitamin A supplements to your diet. Vitamin A can also interact with medications that involve the skin or liver, blood clot prevention, and antibiotics so again, speak with your doctor first.