10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep

Experts say eating the right snacks in the hours before you hit the bed may help you fall asleep faster and even improve the quality of your sleep. It’s best to stop eating 2 hours before bedtime for your body to properly digest the food. Here is the list:

Almonds contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation.
Decaf Green Tea contains theanine, which helps promote sleep.
Misa Soup contains amino acids that may boost the production of melatonin.
Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax overstressed muscles. They also contain tryptophan, which convert to serotonin and melatonin, the brain’s key calming hormones.
Dairy contain tryptophan but also have a surprising sleep-inducing nutrient.
Oatmeal is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and potassium–all of the nutrients known to support sleep.
Hard Cooked Egg and other protein-rich snacks so that you can not only fall asleep, but stay asleep.
Edamame have the natural estrogen-like compounds that can be very beneficial in controlling those nighttime hot flashes that can disturb your sleep.
Cherries particularly tart cherries, naturally boost the body’s supply of melatonin, which helps people with insomnia.
Cereal increases the availability of tryptophan in the bloodstream, increasing the sleep-inducing effects.

For more details, CLICK HERE.

Source: WomansDay.com

Mobile Technology for Health Behavior Change

Weight loss and healthier eating habits are nearly universal New Year’s resolutions and keeping a daily journal is an excellent way to manage our weight. Nowadays mobile apps make it easy to keep a diet journal and manage our weight. For example:

PhotoCalorie is both a visual food journal and nutrition search engine that simplifies the tedious task of nutrient enumeration and calorie counting. PhotoCalorie provides a new “right brain” visual approach to diet management in addition to the traditional “left brain” calorie-counting approach of other diet diaries. Also, its’ search engine technology allows users to search for their entire meal in one step,

Lose it! is an impressive iPhone weight loss journals and offers a number of features to track your diet, exercise and weight changes over time. Lose it! also provides a way for users to join discussion forums of people with similar goals. The app’s motivators section lets you set reminders to enter your foods right before your meal, and receive daily or weekly emails summarizing your progress.

LIVESTRONG Foundation provides a calorie-tracker and workout log. LIVESTRONG is similar to Lose it!; in addition, the platform offers access to health tools for managing diabetes, quitting smoking or learning new exercises, and more. It also offers online educational material about nutrition, fitness and health.

For more information about these platforms, CLICK HERE.

Source: Medpage Today by Michele R. Berman, MD; December 27, 2010

Brene Brown@TEDx: The Power of Vulnerability

Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brené’s current research focuses on authentic leadership and wholeheartedness in families, schools, and organizations. Her work draws on empirically based strategies to engage your clients on a cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal level to improve their ability to empathize, belong, and love.

In THIS funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research. It’s quite awesome!

Source: TEDxHouston, Filmed June 2010, POsted Dec. 2010

What Does a Healthy Future Look Like?

What will we have done to our bodies, networks, and environments to improve our collective wellness? The following is a list of ideas collected by IFTF when they asked the world:

1. The Fecanator! Synthetic bacteria designed to help humans life on less food and produce less waste.

2. Thermo/visual gamma wave feedback monitor to help deepen meditation practices.

3. An easier-to-use operating system to help fight senior loneliness.

4. Heart Helper glove that squeezes hands to assist the heart in moving blood around.

5. A network of local fitness specialists that compete for your needs.

6. Condoms for Africa that incorporate features of traditional amulets.

7. A plan for expanding the practice of daily hugs to improve well-being.

8. Safer hospitals infected with good bacteria to out-compete the bad ones that often breed in hospitals.

9. A social, smart phone application to collect data and analyze personal health trends.

10. A videogame-style display to help people manage stress and maintain a healthy life.

11. Reversible Fertility Vaccine based on synthetic bacteria living in the reproductive system.

12. Paleo Approved Label to facilitate the practice of ancestral eating.

13. Simple adoption of bowing instead of shaking hands to reduce flu spread.

14. Software that can create 3-D cell-organ models from MRI data.

15. Healthy homes that include smart refrigerators, toilet analysis, and glucose meters.

Source: IFTF

Herbal Supplements

A report released last summer states that U.S. consumers spent $14.8 billion on natural supplements in 2007. According to a recent investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) undercover government employees received consistently false information when shopping for supplements, and analyses show most supplements contain trace amounts of contaminants.

Of the 40 herbal supplements tested for the GAO investigation, 37 contained trace levels of at least one hazardous compound. These heavy metal levels are down from a 2004 study, published in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association, which found dangerous levels of heavy metals in 20 percent of herbal supplements tested.

Despite these findings the FDA only requires pre-market evaluation of products containing any “new dietary ingredient” that has not previously been used in a supplement. However, levels of exposure depend on how much of a supplement a person takes.

The lab also tested the supplements for pesticides and found that 18 of 40 contained traces of at least one formula. Although the EPA sets limits for many pesticides, if a pesticide has not been sufficiently evaluated to have an established maximum level, any amount is considered too much. Sixteen of the supplements thus exceeded the acceptable pesticide levels, and four of the pesticide residues were from formulas not approved for use in the U.S., according to the report.

SOURCE: Curaxis, May 28th, 2010
www.scientificamerican.com

Smoking Major Cause of Newborn Death

Although the number of women who smoke during pregnancy has declined, smoking is still a major cause of newborn deaths, premature births, and babies born underweight. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that infant lives could be saved if more mothers quit smoking before pregnancy. The study was published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and analyzed data from 3.3 million births during 2002. The study suggests that 23-34 percent of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases were directly linked to mother’s smoking. Smoking mothers are also responsible for about $232 million in health care costs each year. 

Source:  icyou.com

Meditation

According to Deepak Chopra the most significant health benefits of meditation are stress reduction, better sleep, lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular function, improved immunity, and the ability to stay centered in the midst of all the turmoil that’s going on around you. Meditation helps you do less and accomplish more.

Click on the link below to view Deepak Chopra defining meditation, performing a healing meditation and demonstrating the law of attraction and meditation.  Rediscover the purpose of meditation and get tips from one of the world’s most respected authors and spiritual guides:  

Meditation Techniques Demonstrated by Deepak Chopra

Learning How To Learn — A Priceless Capability

Metaskills are skills needed to learn how to learn. They are higher-order skills – like critical thinking, the ability to organize information, the strategy of building on what was previously learned, and the belief that repeated practice can make perfect, or at least result in some improvement.  Going very deep into one subject, learning and understanding it over a course of several years, acts as a point of reference that is useful when we learn other subjects.

The subject or topic is almost unimportant – only it’s easier and more enjoyable if we choose something we are interested in: basketball, Jane Austen’s novels, the gastrointestinal tract, martial arts – the list is endless. The principle is that in the process of learning how to do one thing really well, we learn how to learn.

The question is does learning how to do one thing really well have any economic or personal significance anymore?  According to many experts since we don’t know what skills tomorrow are needed, we must strive to impart real understanding and the ability to apply knowledge to new situations. 

Perhaps the deep learning of a single subject can provide that required general reference point to handle different and new situations, not to mention the patience and fortitude to try, try again.

Source: By Ranjani Iyer Mohanty, June 7, 2010 The Christian Science Monitor

Improving Memory: Lifestyle Changes

A study reported in 2005 showed that even older Americans may improve their memory by instituting a memory-improvement plan consisting of regular mental exercises (working crossword puzzles, word games, brainteasers, and the like), daily physical activity, a healthier diet, and stress reduction.

Stress
Without a doubt, one of the most common reasons that healthy people find themselves becoming forgetful is stress. And it’s not just major, life-changing stress that affects learning and memory. Most of us never realize how much of a toll the day-to-day irritations, hassles, and annoyances can take. Fortunately, high stress-hormone levels over the short term don’t appear to do permanent damage to the brain. As your stress eases or as you employ coping techniques, you should find that your memory improves. On the other hand, there is some evidence to suggest that prolonged exposure to unmitigated stress may damage the hippocampus, making it less able to signal the body to turn off the stress hormones, leading to a vicious cycle of higher and higher stress-hormone levels and further decay of memory and cognition. In time, the hippocampus may actually shrink.

There’s another reason why you may not remember so well when you are under a lot of stress, and it has to do with paying attention. In order to record information well enough to form a memory, you have to be able to focus on the subject you want to remember. Anything that interferes with your ability to pay attention, therefore, will impair your memory. As the sources of your stress monopolize your thoughts, you simply don’t record information the way you normally would, and if the information never gets properly stored to begin with, there won’t be a memory there to retrieve.

Exercise
Studies have found that people who exercise frequently have a distinctive brain-wave pattern, characterized by steep peaks and valleys, that is associated with alertness. These high-exercise folks are better at blocking out distractions and focusing, which means that they are better at paying attention to material that they want to remember and better at retrieving those memories when needed. Research has also found that aerobic exercise can help maintain short-term general and verbal memory. This type of memory is especially important when you want to recall names, directions, and telephone numbers or match a name with a face. Also the results of research reported in March of 2007 suggest an even more impressive role for exercise: building new cells in a specific region of the brain that is associated with the age-related decline in memory that normally begins sometime around age 30.

Sleep
Recent research, especially studies using high-tech tools — such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) — has begun to reveal much more information about the importance of sleep to memory. Such research suggests that it is during sleep that the brain consolidates the initially fragile memories made during the day, reinforcing them and “uploading” them, so to speak, for long-term storage. Once again our old friend the hippocampus appears to play an essential part in the process, storing the day’s memories until they can be consolidated at night. Sleep also facilitates or improves the brain’s ability to remember both declarative information, such as facts and events, and procedural information, such as how to play the scales on a piano keyboard.

Diet
The quality of the diet appears to affect brain health and function, including memory. The best diet for your brain is, basically, the kind that’s also healthy for the rest of your body — a well-balanced diet, filled with whole grains, a wide variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables, and moderate amounts of protein, that supplies just enough calories to fuel your daily activities. That diet should also include some fat such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega-3 fatty acids but not the saturated fats.

A brain-healthy, memory-wise diet should also provide sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals the body needs for health. Especially Vitamin B, C, E, and Magnesium.

Source: Richard C. Mohs, PhD; How Stuff Works

Our Capacity To Collect Our Attention And The Costs If We Don’t

Consider these primary symptoms of the disorder known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

  • Often has difficulty in sustaining attention in tasks
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
    Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

Many of us admit experiencing most of these traits.  The new technologies ( texting, tweeting, facebook, google searching,…) are putting infinite demands on our attention and as we try to juggle them all, we literally weaken our capacity for absorbed focus. But what is the cost of it all on our well-being?  According to the former Microsoft and Apple researcher Linda Stone: “the consequence is we’re over stimulated, over-wound, and unfulfilled.”

Attention is like any muscle. It gets stronger by training it systematically. Here are three powerful attentional practices to get us started.

  • Set aside at least one designated time each week to think creatively, reflectively, strategically or long term.
  • Take at least a half an hour in the evening to read something challenging and absorbing – an antidote to churning out emails, and racing between websites.
  • Do the most important thing first every morning, without interruptions, for at least 60 to 90 minutes. It’s the ideal way to take charge of your agenda and get the most challenging work done, with the highest efficiency. 

Source: Tony Schwartz, Posted June 1st, 2010 - The Huffington Post