Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Benefits of eating chicken: Is it healthy for you?


The chicken is the most common domesticated farm animal in the world. It is an excellent source of meat and eggs. Chicken is readily available and full of essential nutrients. Chicken contains calories, fats, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein, selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, and creatine. Chicken is used in many dishes all over the world because of its delicious taste. It boosts the immune system and keeps us healthy. In this article, I will describe the health benefits of eating chicken.

Nutritional information of chicken:

100 grams (of 3.5 ounces) of chicken contains:

  • 190 Kcal of Energy
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates
  • 9 grams of fat
  • 28.93 grams of protein
  • 63.79 grams of water
  • 0 grams of fiber
  • 15 mg of calcium
  • 1.21 mg of iron
  • 25 mg of magnesium
  • 195 mg of phosphorus
  • 243 mg of potassium
  • 86 mg of sodium
  • 53 IU of vitamin A
  • 0.27 mg of vitamin E

Health benefits of eating chicken

Boosts immune system

The immune system needs the right amount of nutrients like protein, iron, magnesium, and calcium to fight from harmful factors like free radicals. Chicken contains these nutrients in abundance. These nutrients make cells of the immune system secure. One of the best ways to make your immune system healthy is to drink chicken soup. It fights against the flu and cold. You can add extra vegetables to the soup to make it more nutritious.

Healthy heart

Chicken contains vitamin B6. Researches have shown that people with a low level of vitamin B6 have higher risks of getting a heart attack than people with a high level of B6 vitamins. Chicken also contains niacin. Niacin increases high-density levels (HDL) or good cholesterol. Moreover, chicken is rich in iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. These nutrients keep your heart healthy.

Weight loss

Chicken is a meal with high nutrition and low calories. Every healthy meal plate has chicken because chicken is full of proteins. Proteins in chicken reduce hunger and boost your metabolism process. Low fats in chicken lead to weight loss. You can eat chicken three times a day to lose weight.

Healthy eyes

Chicken, like camel meat, is a source of alpha, beta-carotene, lycopene, and retinol. These nutrients keep your eyes healthy. These all nutrients are derived from vitamin A. A Vitamins protect the cornea (surface of an eye). Enough amount of chicken in your diet keeps you safe from any eye problem. It prevents dry eyes, night blindness, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Treats anemia

Many people don’t take anemia seriously, but nutritionists say it shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Foods that are rich in iron, minerals, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A can help to treat anemia. These nutrients protect red blood cells in the body. If iron and vitamins are deficient in the body, it will not produce enough red blood cells. Chicken is rich in iron and vitamins, so it is effective against anemia.

Healthy bones

Chicken is also rich in phosphorous. These nutrients are essential to make our bones strong. Our body continuously removes calcium to replace it with new calcium, so we need fresh calcium every day. Calcium can't build strong bones alone. Phosphorus works together with calcium to make our bones strong and healthy.

Prevents cancer

As we read above, chicken is rich in niacin. Niacin in the body helps enzymes to work correctly. It improves the skin, digestive system, and other parts of the body to stay healthy. Niacin also protects the body from skin and other different types of cancer.

Reduces stress

Chicken contains tryptophan and vitamin B5. Both these nutrients have a calming effect. Chicken is also delicious in taste. Its taste reduces your stress.

Conclusion

Chicken contains most the nutrients that our body needs to remain healthy. It also prevents many health problems like stress, colds and flu, cancer, heart problems, and obesity. If you want a healthy lifestyle, start eating chicken as it is full of nutrients like protein, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Saad Shah

My name is Saad Shah. I am an avid food lover and food nutrition blogger. I'm a firm believer in the transformation powers of food. I run a nutrition blog on my website Nutritionride to encourage conscious food choices, with knowledge of their nutritional value.

Monday, October 14, 2019

How to get rid of visible veins around your eyes


Some people suffer from unsightly veins in their eyelids. Although this can be from a variety of causes like a medical condition or medication, the three most common reasons why you might be suffering from this include pale skin, thin skin around the eyes or darker-than-usual vein coloration. Below, we look into the causes and possible solutions to each of these three issues.

1. Pale eyelid skin

Skin produces a pigment called melanin. This coloration is made to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. Some people have more melanin than others. Uneven or low levels of melanin can increase the skin’s transparency and increase the visibility of veins and blood vessels.

Sitting in the sun to increase melanin production

Sun exposure increases melanin production in the skin so that your skin becomes better able to protect itself from the sun. You can achieve this effect by sitting in the sun for a few minutes every day. If your skin is pale, it will be more sensitive to sunlight and a few minutes (5-10 minutes) in the sun every day will be enough to increase pigmentation. This will tan the skin by increasing the amount of natural color that the skin has. You can achieve this effect by sitting in the natural light, even if it is cloudy or overcast, because the sun’s rays are still penetrating the atmosphere throughout the day.

Regular exposure to natural light is good for you. Sun exposure increases vitamin D production, fights against depression, helps us to avoid the overuse of screens indoors, boosts the immune system and helps to regulate our sleeping patterns by regulating our internal body clock.


Sun safety

Don’t sit in the sun for too long

Sun exposure stimulates the skin in the same way that exercise stimulates the muscles. Too much sun exposure can damage the skin more than what it can repair from and this can lead to sun burn, freckling, skin damage, peeling and cancer in the long run. To avoid the damaging effects of prolonged sun exposure, do not sit in the sun for longer than what your skin can handle. If your skin begins to change color (i.e. turn pink or red) then you have been in the sun for too long and your skin is damaged. Get out of the sun before this happens.

A few minutes a day is more than enough to have a positive effect on your skin’s coloration. It is healthier for your skin to have a little exposure more regularly than to have too much exposure in one go. As your skin begins to produce melanin and your skin color starts to darken, you can sit in the sun for a little longer. Increase sun exposure in small increments over a long period of time to give your skin enough time to adapt without getting damaged.

If you are going to end up spending more time in the sun, take steps to make sure that you limit your overall exposure. Use sun screen to block the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, wear clothing that will protect your skin and sit in the shade whenever possible.

Avoid tan accelerators

Tan accelerators may seem like a good idea because they promise to give you a boosted effect in a shorter period of time, but a few minutes every day in natural light is all that you need. Tan accelerators may increase the effects of the sun more than what your skin can handle. This will lead to skin damage – especially if your skin is not accustomed to protecting itself from the sun. A few minutes every day is all that you need to stimulate melanin production.

Keep hydrated

Sitting in the sun can dehydrate you. This can have many negative effects on your health, and your skin will suffer too. Your skin needs water to moisturize itself. 99% of sweat, for example, is made up of water. Make sure that you drink enough liquids to replenish any water that your body might lose from sitting in the heat. My personal favorite is to sip on a glass of water with squeezed lemon juice for an added relaxing effect. It is also important to note that not all drinks will hydrate you. Stay away from drinks that are full of sugar or contain alcohol.

If you are losing a lot of sweat due to physical activity or heat, you may need to replenish your electrolytes as well - since electrolytes are minerals that are lost through sweat. You can get an electrolyte replacement drink from the store (try to avoid products that have too much sugar or artificial ingredients), eating a banana or adding a pinch of salt to every third glass of water that you drink.

Eat food with enough vitamins and minerals

Micro nutrients support every organ of the body, including the skin. Vitamin C, for example, helps the body to produce collagen which is needed to keep the skin supple. Vitamin E, on the other hand, helps the skin to get rid of cellular damage. Eat a varied diet that has different food sources with a variety of vitamins and minerals. You can do this by making sure that you eat enough raw fruit and vegetables every day.


Bleaching and using products that are acidic on the skin

Bleaching products, along with those that are acidic, can lighten the skin. This will have two negative effects on vein visibility. Firstly, it can decrease the amount of pigmentation on the skin and increase its transparency, making veins more visible. Secondly, overuse of bleaching or acidic products can thin out the skin, further increasing transparency and vein visibility.

To see if the overuse of certain skin products is causing increased vein visibility, try avoiding these products for a week. If the symptoms improve then you can adjust your regular skin care routine accordingly.

If you have pale skin because of low melanin production, speak to your doctor about the best ways to increase melanin production and improve your skin’s complexion.

2. Thin skin

If low melanin levels or pale skin regions are not the cause of visible veins; it may be because of thinner-than-usual skin.

Dry skin

This is often the case for people with dry skin because the skin will flake away faster than what it can regenerate. Adding a skin moisturizing routine to your daily regime will help to reduce skin loss. Find a good moisturizer and apply it to the parts of your skin that are particularly dry. You should notice an improvement in your appearance immediately and the skin should start to repair itself within a few days. You may also want to look into training your skin to produce more oil.


Over-exfoliation

Exfoliation is good for you. It helps to get rid of old skin that may block new skin formation. It does this by encouraging the skin to produce new skin cells. Too much exfoliation, though, may remove more skin than what the skin can generate. This will lead to thinner-than-usual skin. If you are potentially exfoliating more than what you should, try stopping all exfoliation efforts for two weeks. If your skin gets thicker and visible veins around the eye areas disappear, you know that over-exfoliation was the cause.

Naturally thin skin

Many people have naturally thin skin. This can lead to increased allergic reactions and possible infections because the skin is your body’s first line of defense against the germs, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens outside of the body.

Exfoliation to increase skin density

A good exfoliation routine will help your skin to increase its thickness - if done right. By removing the outermost, dead layer of skin; you encourage blood flow to the skin and stimulate the formation of new skin cells.

If you haven’t exfoliated before, try adding a light exfoliation routine to your shower or bath. You can do this in two ways:

Mechanical exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation involves using a hard surface or scrub to slough away dead skin. You can do this by mixing salt and olive oil and using this as a scrub or by purchasing scrubs for exfoliation. I like using exfoliation gloves and using them to apply soap to my skin every second week to encourage newer, younger looking skin.

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliates use an acidic element to break apart old skin cells. You can make your own chemical exfoliates by mixing lemon juice or vinegar with water or adding them to your bath. You can also purchase chemical exfoliates from the store.


Exfoliation tips

Do not over-exfoliate

Do not exfoliate more than what your skin can handle. You only want to remove the outermost layer of dead skin cells. Your skin is very sensitive and can get damaged very easily. Skin damage from over-exfoliation can lead to permanent damage. You should feel a slight tingle during exfoliation. Never exfoliate to the point where you feel discomfort or pain. You should see a glow in your complexion after exfoliation. If your skin is pink or red after exfoliation, you have removed too much of your skin and it is damaged.

Light exfoliation done semi-regularly over a long period of time is beneficial; while over-exfoliating in a single session can lead to damage and hampered skin health.

Avoid too much exfoliation

Give your skin a few days in between exfoliations to recover and generate new skin cells. If you exfoliate too regularly, you will cause the skin to thin out instead of thicken. For the first few times, give your skin at least two weeks in between light exfoliation sessions. Once your skin has adapted by increasing new skin formation, you may exfoliate once a week. Never exfoliate more than twice a week because this will cause more removal than what the skin can regenerate.

If you are interested in using exfoliation to decrease vein visibility because your skin is too thin, speak to a professional first to make sure that you help your skin to function better instead of causing any damage.

3. Darker-than-usual veins

Everybody’s blood is not the same color. Some people have darker blood than others. There can be a variety of reasons for this. For example, the blood of smokers is typically a darker red in color, while the blood of non-smokers is typically a brighter red in color. Darker veins might also indicate poor blood circulation. Increasing blood circulation through exercise and keeping the blood clean by following a healthy lifestyle might be exactly what you need to reduce the appearance of veins. Detoxification methods include:

Drinking more water to help the body eliminate water-soluble toxins and other impurities through urination
Engaging in exercise or using the sauna or steam room regularly to help the body eliminate fat-soluble toxins through sweat
Eat foods that are high in fiber (fruit and vegetables) to help the body cleanse itself of non-soluble toxins

Darker veins caused by other factors

There may be other medical reasons why your veins are darker than they should be. These factors need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. If you feel that your vein visibility is of a health concern or that it may be caused by an underlying factor, discuss this with your doctor so that you can treat the issue at its root cause.

Remember to do everything in moderation and to always follow a healthy lifestyle.

This article in no way intends to substitute or replace sound medical advice. If you suffer from any physical or medical condition, always consult your medical practitioner immediately. Always speak to your medical practitioner before starting a new self-care or lifestyle routine.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Not all fluids keep you hydrated


The importance of proper hydration

The health benefits of water are undeniable. Every cell in your body needs water to function. Cells need substantial hydration levels to function at their best. Your body uses water to detoxify itself. Dehydration is a major cause of a variety of symptoms like headaches, fatigue, poor sleep quality, indigestion and constipation.

Dehydration may lead to weight gain

Dehydration can lead to weight gain. This happens because fat metabolism occurs within the liver. When the liver does not have enough water to clean itself and the rest of the body, it will struggle to perform some of its most important tasks. This is clearly demonstrated by the way that repeated excessive alcohol consumption will lead to cirrhosis (liver damage). Healthy livers are better at metabolizing fat into usable energy. This is why drinking more water is one of my top methods to reduce body fat.

Fatty liver disease

A fatty liver, or hepatic steatosis, is a disease where too much fat has accumulated in the liver. Diet and exercise plays a key role in preventing the development of fatty liver disease. Water does too because it helps the liver to keep itself clean. Water is your liver's best friend.

Drinking the right liquids is essential for optimum health: Many popular drinks won't help to keep you hydrated 


Drinks with too much sugar won't hydrate you

The best way to re-hydrate is to consume enough liquids. The type of liquid that you drink will determine whether or not it will hydrate you. Sodas that are high in sugar, for example, will have a positive effect on hydration. These drinks can actually dehydrate you even more. The reason for this is because your body will need more water to dilute all of that sugar.

It would take 69 liters of water to dilute 500 ml of soda into normal blood glucose levels

Your body has around 5 liters of blood at any given time. Less than a teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar should be in that blood. Compare that to 11 grams of sugar per 100 grams in the average soda. This means that the average soda has 137.5 times more sugar than what is normally found in your blood per milliliter. By that math, it would take 69 liters of water to dilute the sugar content of 500 milliliters of soda to natural blood glucose levels. Of course, most of the sugar isn't diluted. It is quickly stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver or converted to fat to correct the blood-sugar balance. For this reason, drinks that are high in sugar do not hydrate the body very well.

Drinks that are high in unhealthy ingredients like colorants and artificial flavors also have a dehydrating effect on your body

Think about this: Your pee is a lot lighter than the unhealthy drinks that you consume with darker colors. That means that more water is needed to wash away all of these nasty colorants. More water is also needed to cleanse the body from the unhealthy flavorings that aren't reflected in a dink's color. Since more water is redirected to the detoxification process to clear out all of these negative ingredients, less of it is used to replenish the body's hydration stores.

For the above reasons, making sure that your hydration methods contain less harmful ingredients will increase your body's ability to use that water.

Bonus water and hydration tips


It is possible to drink too much water

Your body loses a lot of water through sweat, detoxification, breathing (water vapor is released every time you exhale) and the metabolizing of many chemical and hormonal processes in the body. This is why you should make sure that you give your body enough water to do everything without hindrance. It is also possible, though, to be drinking too much water. This could dilute your blood so much that its nutrient content drops. Too much water can also wash away precious nutrients. Learn more about the possibility of drinking too much water here

Dehydration reduces physical performance

Dehydration could be the primary cause of why you might feel cold or sick after exercise (click the links to see more possible causes).

Water is not the only good thing that you lose through sweat

Sweating is beneficial because it helps the body to get rid of toxins and replenish skin health. You need to replenish the good things that sweat causes your body to lose, such as water. Water is not the only thing you lose through sweat. You also lose precious electrolytes and minerals - which also need to be replaced.

Spice up your hydration without consuming unhealthy drinks

Try eating more healthy foods that are naturally hydrating like lettuce and spinach. Add lemon to your water for more health benefits or exchange unhealthy drinks for healthier alternatives like green tea.

You might not think that a single can of soda or an alcoholic beverage will impact your health that much, but these habits become addictive very quickly. These choices might feel like one drop in the pond, until we realize that the entire pond is made up of little drops. Stay Strong!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Use exercise to improve your sleeping habits


Last week I covered the fact that our genes determine when we feel sleepy and when we are most awake. At the end of the article, I mentioned that I will be doing an experiment to see whether you can use exercise to change your natural sleeping cycle. The answer is probably not that shocking to those who know how beneficial it is: Exercise is a great way to re-configure your sleeping routine! Here's how:

How exercise can improve your sleeping routine

The more I cover different health and lifestyle topics, the more I learn about how exercise seems to solve almost everything. Read on to discover how you can change your sleep patterns with the power of exercise.

1. Exercise increases sleep need

There are two major problems with a sleeping pattern that does not match your lifestyle. One of them is the fact that your body will want to sleep when you need to be awake. The other one is that it can be hard for you to fall asleep when you need to (if you struggle to fall asleep, learn how to fall asleep faster here). By increasing sleep need, or sleep pressure, you improve your chances of falling asleep at the right time and getting a higher quality sleep.

Exercise will help you to fall asleep faster because it gives the body something that it needs to physically recover from. It also helps to deplete energy stores so that you don't have a bundle of energy when it is time to calm down and prepare for sleep. Thirdly, exercise boosts your brain's resilience to stress or anxiety. Regular exercise will reduce the negative effects of cortisol - the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels at night time will lead to wakefulness and worrying about everything under the sun. Lastly, hormones that are needed for a good night's sleep are stimulated as a direct result of exercise. These hormones include human growth hormone

Regular exercise will therefore improve your ability to sleep when you need to. It will also help the muscles in your body to be more relaxed when you aren't exercising. I think of regular exercise as giving my body a reason to sleep.

2. Exercise improves sleep quality

If part of the problem is the fact that you can't sleep when you need to, sleep quality will have a major effect on your sleeping habits. If you don't get enough high quality sleep at the right time, you will spend the rest of the following day trying to stay awake. For the same reasons listed above, exercise improves sleep quality and will therefore improve your energy levels the following day. Exercise improves sleep quality by increasing sleep need.

3. Exercising at certain times of the day will train your body to have more energy when you need it

Remember that there are two major components to correcting your sleeping habits. One of them is being able to sleep (and have high quality sleep) when you need to. The second one is being awake and energetic when you need to be. By exercising at the times when you need to have the most energy, you train your body to produce and use more energy during these times. If you exercise at the same time every day, your body will adapt by increasing its energy levels at those times. You can do this by exercising at your desired 'peak energy' times for two weeks in a row. You will notice that after the second week you don't feel that tired anymore.

I exercised in the morning to increase my energy levels

Personally, the first half of the day was the time where I had the least amount of energy. This is because I am a night owl by nature and it takes me longer to wake up than most people. Even though I repeatedly did the same tasks as everybody else, my energy levels stayed low in the mornings because I am naturally inclined to feel more awake at night. 

My experiment involved me doing an exercise as soon as I woke up. I would do push-ups, squats or planks before my eyes were fully opened. Granted, I didn't do half as much as I would if I did these exercises at a different time of the day (and it took a lot more motivation than usual to get them done in the first place), but the increased blood flow and oxygen woke me right up within a few seconds. 

The energy-boosting effects were immediate. After a few days, I now have more natural energy in the mornings than I ever had. I wish I could say that I also need less motivation to exercise first thing in the morning after a week, but I haven't got there just yet.

How to implement exercise during your peak times

My experiment was relatively easy for me. This is because mornings were my biggest issue and it is not too difficult to exercise in the morning when you are still in your room. If you have the biggest energy drop in the middle of the day, it might be more difficult. It is not so easy to drop and do 20 push-ups in the office in front of everybody. You can't exactly do that either if you're driving down the freeway. Thankfully, there are sneaky ways to boost your energy levels without looking like a chop.

How to sneak in exercise when they aren't so convenient 

I've got you covered. Try out a few of these ideas to see what works best for you:

If you need to boost your energy levels while at the office:

  • Get up from your desk and take a brisk walk. This will fire up the mitochondria in your cells and get them turning calories into energy.
  • Hit the gym during your lunch break.
  • Drink more water and let nature remind you to get up every half an hour. Water on its own is a great energy booster, since every cell in your body needs it to function optimally. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to get some Vitamin C while you're at it.
  • Exercise in the bathroom
  • Choose to get up and speak to a co-worker or manager instead of simply sending an email
  • Use the rest of your lunch break to walk around and listen to music

If you need to boost your energy levels while driving

What if there were exercises that you can do to correct bad posture from sitting in a car seat for too long? Raffi TopCareChiro has you covered! Check out this great way to improve your posture while driving and loosen up stiff muscles whenever you hit a traffic light:


And if you want to take it up a notch, check out this calorie burning, muscle strengthening driving workout from Ando Mierzwa:


Exercise has so many health benefits. You can reap all of these benefits while using exercise to sleep better at night and explode with energy during the day. Stay Strong!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sleeping habits are genetic: Individuals are pre-disposed to sleep at different times


You might struggle to fall sleep or stay awake at the same time as everybody else. It is not your fault, according to science. Discover how your body follows a sleeping clock that you can't control.

You are not alone - I also struggle to sleep at the right times

I have constantly fought to keep the same sleeping schedule as everybody else. I refer to myself as a night owl. My body and my mind have plenty of energy at night and I can get so much done with a few extra hours of work after everybody else has gone to bed. Unfortunately, my body drags throughout the first half of the day as a result. I used to chalk this up to a bad sleeping schedule, but research suggests otherwise.

We all have different chronotypes

I watched a TEDx Talk by Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep doctor who addresses the fact that different people tend to fall asleep and awake up at different times. We typically refer to people who struggle to fall asleep at night, yet struggle to be awake during the day, as night owls. We refer to people who wake up super early with bouts of energy, but can't stay awake too long past their bed time, as early birds.

A person's chronotype determines which category they fall under in terms of their sleeping patterns. Dr. Michael Breus revolutionized the way that we look at chronotypes by categorizing them into 4 categories instead of the typical 2. He argues that instead of the usual 'night owl' or 'early bird' chronotypes, there are actually 4 different chronotypes. He names them 'lions', 'bears', 'dolphins', and 'wolves'.

The difference between lions, bears, dolphins and wolves 

Dr. Michael Breus explains that lions are the type of people who wake up super early and have most of their energy at the beginning of the day. They also tire quickly and struggle to stay awake soon after night fall. Bears make up most of the population. They wake up soon after sunrise and go to bed after night fall. Society has modeled itself after the bear's sleeping schedule. Dolphins struggle to have a good night's sleep in general and are commonly self-confessed insomniacs. They crave long bouts of sleep but usually can't sleep for too long before they wake up. In their cases, this often leads to feelings of anxiety or depression. Wolves refer to people who feel the most awake during the second half of the day and late into the night. They often struggle to stay awake before 12 pm.

This chronotype is hardwired into our DNA

A very interesting aspect of Dr. Breus' presentation was the fact that our preferred sleeping patterns are more than just a culmination of our lifestyle choices: Genetic tests can determine a person's chronotype. This means that when we feel sleepy and when we feel awake is hardwired into us on a genetic level.

He explains that the circadian rhythm and time-sensitive hormone secretions govern our energy levels and the way that we operate. You can watch his presentation here:


Adjusting your lifestyle to match your chronotype

Adjusting your lifestyle to correspond with your sleeping preferences, instead of the other way around, has shown remarkable health and productivity benefits for Dr. Breus' patients.

The Genetic connection to sleep is not a new idea

You might wonder if Dr. Breus was the only one to explain how sleep patterns are encoded into our genes. There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows that how we sleep (and how much sleep we need) is determined by genetic factors. Live Science covers a study that found that two parts of our DNA reveal how much sleep we need on an individual basis. You can read the original study here, which directly states that sleep patterns are a hereditary trait. You can find more scientific evidence on the connection between genetics and sleep here.

Can you change your chronotype?

Tuck says that you can't - or at least not deliberately. Our chronotypes change naturally as we progress through life. Young children are generally natural early morning rises. This reverses as they progress into teenage years. Teenagers tend to be more awake during later hours and require more sleep in the later morning hours. Older people tend to rise up earlier and slumber sooner.

Adam Conover from 'Adam Ruins Everything' comically covers how high-school students are hardwired to sleep later in the day. You can check out the video here:


Do lifestyle factors affect sleep?

Yes they do. The time between your last meal of the day and when you sleep will affect sleep quality. Midnight snacking is another factor that negatively affects sleep. One of the benefits of regular exercises is its ability to increase sleep quality, improve energy production and enhance mental and physical recovery. I have also covered how sleeping too much can be just as bad for you as sleeping too little. This list of ways to coax your body into sleep can also be effective in helping you to get a good night's rest.

Can you train your body to wake up and sleep at specific time of the day?

I will be conducting my own experiment to see whether I can change when my body feels energized and when it wants to sleep. I will try to do this by exercising and practicing relation methods at certain times of the day to signal when my body should sleep. The results (along with conclusions and actionable advice) will be posted on this site in a week's time. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Benefits of hunger - Hunger is good for you


Hunger used to be a natural part of human life. In the wild, it is still a part of every animal's life. Our bodies are built to live and thrive in a natural environment. There are certain processes that occur during hunger. There are also processes can only occur during hunger. By giving our bodies time to go hungry, we allow them to do things that they can't always get done with a full belly. Here are some of the reasons why taking a little longer to eat your next meal might actually benefit you in the long run:

The benefits of being hungry


1) Hunger increases the release of ghrelin

Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone. It is secreted by the stomach, small intestine, pancreas and the brain. Ghrelin is released to make you hungry. It signals the need for food. That feeling of hunger and craving for food that you feel before a meal is caused by ghrelin. This hormone might be secreted around meal times to remind you to eat, but it has a host of beneficial benefits of its own:

Ghrelin stimulates Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production

Human Growth Hormone (HGH for short) is extremely beneficial. It helps to build muscle, increases physical and mental recovery and improves fat metabolism. This is why HGH is often used as a steroid by bodybuilders. This is also the reason why GABA, the supplement that is used as a precursor to HGH, is so beneficial in promoting sleep and recovery, fat loss and muscle growth.

Ghrelin promotes a healthy cardiovascular system

Ghrelin has a protective effect on your cardiovascular system. In fact, its role on cardiovascular health has been studied as a treatment for cardiovascular disease. This study proves that ghrelin improves the circulatory system by opening up arteries and decreasing blood pressure. It also increases cardiac performance and reduces the amount of work that it takes the heart to pump blood.

Think about it this way: If an animal has not eaten, it would be beneficial to the animal's body to improve performance so that it can catch food or find it.

Ghrelin helps to control insulin

When we eat, sugar from food is poured into our bloodstream. Insulin is released to shuttle this sugar into the muscles and liver to be stored as glycogen. Excess sugar is stored as fat. When we eat more sugar, more insulin is released to bring blood sugar levels back to normal. When insulin is released too much and too often, our bodies start to build up a tolerance to insulin. This can lead to diabetes.

It would therefore make sense that eating less frequently can lead to fewer insulin secretions and therefore help to increase insulin sensitivity, but the hunger hormone ghrelin takes things one step further by reducing insulin on its own. This is done so that blood sugar does not drop too low, but it is also beneficial in the long term because lower insulin levels generally lead to increased insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity improves the way that your body can handle the sugar that it gets from food.

2) Going without food gives your brain and nervous system a break

Medical Daily covered a study that proved that going without food reduces the amount of synapse activity between neurons and muscle cells. The decreased level of neurotransmitter activity allows the brain, along with the nervous system, to rest and recover.

It makes sense that our body would slow down when fasted, since it does not know when it will have access to nutrients again. Similar to the reasons why we sleep, the slowing down of neurotransmitter activity is supposed to be something that happens regularly. It is more natural to go through periods of increased and decreased activity: even on a neuro-cellular level.

These findings go so far as to demonstrate that fasting could possibly improve the symptoms of people with mental health issues like epilepsy.

3) Fasting boosts mental performance

Jordan Rosenfeld explains that hunger can clear up brain fog and re-energize the brain in the same way that exercise stimulates the body. It increases mental plasticity - The rate at which our brains can adapt to the demands that we place on it. Hunger therefore increases learning and memory. What's more, it will also increase recovery from brain injuries or strokes while having a preventative effect on mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Why does not eating have such a great effect on the brain? An organism is either fighting to adapt and survive or striving to reproduce. What it does is dependent on various conditions. A regular, controlled struggle forces us to adapt by means of homeostasis. Homeostasis is our body's ability to adapt to its surroundings by balancing itself out. Place the right amount of negative stress on your body and it will do the opposite in order to restore balance.

4) Calorie restriction makes you live longer

Calorie restriction leads to a longer lifespan. In this study, monkeys that were given 30% less nutrients than their control group since the ages of 7-14 years were found to exhibit the likeness of monkeys an average of 7 years younger than the control group at ages 22-30 years. The measuring of age-related likeliness was done via blood methylation measurement. This measurement compared genetic age with chronological age.

The study states that the only way known to increase lifespan is through restricting the total amount of calories eaten by an organism without causing malnutrition. Calorie restriction did more than merely reduce the onset of age-related illnesses like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and mental decline. It actually preserves cell integrity and the cell's ability to replicate itself.

To read more about how calorie restriction impacts our bodies on a cellular or genetic level, read Think Big's report on the above study.

Conclusion

When we eat, nutrients from food enter the bloodstream. The body quickly shuttles these nutrients into storage so that our blood composition can return to normal. This reduction leads us to get hungry again before our bodies have a chance to use up that stored energy. This may seem counter-intuitive from a biological standpoint, but this mechanism allows an organism to eat as much as possible when food is available. When food is no longer available, the body should turn to its nutrient storage to fulfill its energetic requirements.

When food is always available, the body never needs to dip into this storage. The other processes that occur while without food, as explained above, don't have a chance to have their positive effect on the body when we don't limit our food intake.

The first time you go without food, you will feel hungry and miserable. This negative feeling will cause your body to adapt. These adaptions are very beneficial. Too much of anything is a bad thing - even too much water can be bad for you. It seems like consuming too much nutrients (or always having the right nutrients) needs to be balanced out with restriction in order to keep as healthy as possible. Stay Strong!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

5 Ways to Reduce Eye Strain - And the Method that Actually Worked for Me


For the past few weeks, I have been struggling with eye strain. This led me to do a lot of research about what causes eye strain and how to solve it. I found 5 prominent ideas and tried them all - until I found the one that worked for me. I don't think that the one that worked for me will work for everybody, because the causes of your specific eye strain will be different to mine. If you can find out the reason why your eyes feel strained, you can take steps to deal with the problem at the cause and help your eyes to work at their best.

Here are the 5 best methods that I tried, the reasons why each one would work and the causes that they address, and the one that actually helped me (spoiler alert, the one that solved my issue is the last one: Method number 5).

How to help your eyes recover from eye strain

1) Use tea bags to help relax and restore your eyes

This method is quite simple. Simply brew two tea bags in hot water. Then put them on a plate so that they cool down. You want them to be warm enough to warm the eyes without burning them. You need to make sure that they are cool enough because your eyelids are very sensitive. Burning them will add pain to your eye area and make your problems even worse. Once they are at the right temperature, place them on your closed eyes while you lie down. Let them sit there for a few minutes until they cool down. After a while, they will become cold. The initial warmth will increase blood flow to your eyes, while the later cooling effect will ease inflammation. After a few minutes, place them back in the hot water to heat them up again and repeat the process. Do this for a few times until you feel like your eyes are completely relaxed.

I must admit that my eyes felt totally relaxed after doing this. I listened to music to keep myself busy during those few minute intervals and I placed a towel under my pillow so that the tea did not leak onto my bed.

How the teabag method will help with eye strain

This method will help with eye strain in a variety of ways. The heat and cold will bring fresh blood flow to your eyes while helping them to get rid of old blood that carries waste products. Your eyes have muscles that are used to focus and move the eyeball in different directions. The opposing temperatures help to heal these muscles. There are also nutrients in tea like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will nourish the eyes. This will help to reduce any swelling and inflammation, ease pain and discomfort, hydrate the eyes, and totally relax them.

If you have eye strain because your eyes do a lot of work like focusing or if your eyes have a lot of built up tension, this method will help them to relax and recover.

2) Focus on different distances

A lot of eye strain occurs because we tend to spend too much time focusing on a single length of distance. I have noticed that people who have a computer-related job often struggle to see long distance. I have also noticed that people who focus on more long-distance views (like drivers and people who work in the construction industry) tend to struggle to read papers or screens that are very close to their eyes.

Our eyes were made to focus on varying distances. By focusing too much on any particular distance, we lose our ability to focus well on other lengths. This happens due to homeostasis. In this case, homeostasis refers to your body's tendency to adapt to what it does regularly and reduce its ability to do what it doesn't need to do very often.

If you focus too much on one particular distance, your eyes will adapt by reducing their ability to focus on other lengths of distance. This will cause them to strain whenever you look at distances that are not the same as the distance you spend most of your time looking at. Your eyes, just like the rest of your body, need regular exercise to stay in good shape.

The 20/20/20 method and how it works

Every 20 minutes, look up from your computer screen and focus on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help to maintain your eye's ability to focus on more than one particular distance. If you can, take a regular walk away from your desk and try to focus on longer distances so that your eyes stay fit and strong. This will also give them a break from too much of the same line of focus.

This method is great for people who spend too much time in focusing on one type of distance and need to vary their lines of sight.

3) Give your eyes time to rest and recover

Your eyes might simply be overworked. Given the demanding nature of our daily jobs and the fact that we spend most of our waking life doing work-related activities, eye strain from too much stimulus is an extremely likely possibility.

Taking time off from work might not be plausible every time that you experience eye strain, but there are certainly things that you can do to give your eyes a break. If you focus on a computer screen for the majority of your working life, give your eyes a break by reducing your screen time when you are not at work. Try finding other relaxing activities that you can do like interacting with friends and family, spending more time doing sports, exercise and hobbies, or enjoying life beyond your house.

This will help with your eye strain if it is caused by being overloaded with too much stimulation of the same, repetitive nature.

4) Blinking

This method is just as important as the others. All About Vision explains that we naturally blink between 10 and 15 times a minute. When we focus on the computer, our phones or a TV screen; we can blink less than half of that amount. We also tend to blink less completely. This reduces the eye's ability to lubricate itself. Reduced blinking rates can lead to dry eyes and manifest in the form of eye degeneration and eye strain.

I struggled to remember to blink more whenever I was using a screen. Some sites recommend placing a bright sticky note on the side of your screen to remind yourself to blink. This wouldn't work for me because the sticky note will be too distracting. As a health and fitness writer, I need to constantly focus on my existing train of thought and write it down before it stops making sense. The slightest distraction could throw me off.

I was able to remind myself to blink more by making it into a little game. Depending on what I was doing, I had to blink in smaller intervals of whatever the task was. For example, when I edit my sites I need to blink with every click that I make on the mouse. When I am using my phone, I blink whenever I tap the screen. When I am writing content, I need to blink whenever I hit the space bar. 

This, along with drinking more water, will help to alleviate dry eyes that can hurt the normal functioning of your eyes.

5) Get the right lighting

It was through trial and error that I finally came to the cause (and solution) for why my eyes were strained. I typically work in a dark room. In this room, I spend a lot of time in front to the computer. My eyes adjusted to the overall dark lighting by increasing my sensitivity to light. This helped me to see throughout the entire room. My increased light sensitivity, met with the fact that I spend the majority of my time staring into the direct light of my computer screen, overloaded my eyes with a contradiction of low light and direct light. I spent a day brightening the room where I work. I also reduced the brightness of my screen to its lowest level. That same day, I did not experience any eye strain. I have not struggled with eye strain since.

We know how damaging it is to look into the sun. We can tell because it painful when we try and it takes a few seconds for our vision to return to normal afterwards. Although less severe, we also know not to look directly at welding sticks when they are being used because they can damage your eyes. Looking into a flash light will also cause discomfort for your eyes. Screens that emit light are the least severe of these comparisons, but affect the eyes in a similar way. By the way, have you ever noticed that it is easier to look into a flash light when you do it in the bright of the day? It is easier because the contraction between light and dark is not so heavy on your eyes. Your eyes will re-adjust its 'lighting settings' according to the overall lighting of your surroundings. This is why it takes your eyes a few seconds to re-adjust if you switch on a bright light in the middle of the night. 

Staring at a bright light in a dark room can hurt your eyes because they have adjusted to their overall surroundings, but need to function at a different light frequency. If lighting is the reason why your eyes are strained, try adjusting the lighting of your environment and the brightness settings of your screens until it is easier for your eyes.

I hope that this article will help you on your mission to conquer eye strain in the same way that it helped me. Stay Strong!