Can 2 Hours A Day Of Car Time Hurt Your Health?

Driving long distances? You’re driving yourself right into an early grave. You know about the possibility of accidents. You’re more likely to be in a car accident than a plane accident, and of course, we know that there are other risks, but a study from Australia shows links between more driving and obesity, sleep issues, stress, and other health issues that can shorten your lifespan.

The researchers surveyed about 37,000 people for questions about their daily drive times, sleep schedules, exercise routines, and other factors. When you compare non-drivers, people who drove 2 hours a day or more saw problems such as being:

  • 78% more likely to be obese
  • 86% more likely to have sleep problems
  • 33% more likely to report psychological distress
  • 43% more likely to report a low quality of life
  • A greater likelihood to smoke and fall short of weekly exercise targets

Yes, they specify 2 hours, but even half an hour of daily driving time can have detrimental effects. Even that short a period can increase your risk of these same health problems. The truth is that uninterrupted sitting in general can have this type of effect, but also:

  1. Driving Can Be Stressful: You’re on the road, and you have bad traffic, other dumb drivers, you miss a turn, and experience other stressors. Studies have actually linked stress (that could be associated with driving) to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and plenty of other health problems to boot. Daily driving is one of the most stressful things that you can do.
  2. Road Time Is Lost Time: There is only so much time in a day, and unfortunately, you can’t get it back. If you’re spending those hours every day on the road, you lose time that you would ideally be spending on exercise, sleep, and other healthy things.

Google Is Planning A Health Tracking Service

They are calling it Google Fit, and they expect it to be Google’s next big move into the world of health and fitness tracking. Like the Apple HealthKit, it will gather data from various fitness and activity trackers. Forbes has spoken to multiple sources, and they claim that they have signed deals with various device manufacturers. They just haven’t yet decided if it will be an app or if it will be built into the next Android.

Apple’s HealthKit will be in the next iPhone and iPad automatically with iOS8. It can be synced with items like Nike Fuel Band to start, and it will have a motion-sensing chip inside the iPhone 5S automatically. It seems likely that Google will be creating their program as more of an app.

As you may have heard, Google has an obsession with data gathering, and you can be sure they will have plenty of data before they release anything. The fact is that very few smartphones can run the latest version of Android. It’s only about 11% worldwide.

Regardless, unless consumers see the benefit of the service, there is no guarantee we will really be seeing it any time soon. Google previously tried launching Google Health, which obviously failed. It will be interesting to see if this one comes to fruition.

Is A Vegan Diet Safe During Pregnancy

Brandy Norwood was one of the most public celebrities to be a vegan during her pregnancy. Granted, some of the celebs we see are also anti-vaccine, meaning it’s safe to say that there’s more going on. But when it comes to being vegan, there are a lot of people who are healthier. They eat more fruits and vegetables, and they have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other similar problems.

Still, there are those who will take pregnancy as the perfect excuse to say but that’s not really good for you or the baby. Yes, you do need slightly more calories when you are pregnant, and you also need plenty of vitamins and minerals. When I think about that, a diet full of more fruits and vegetables sounds like the perfect diet for pregnancy.

Australian blogger Loni Jane Anthony ate 10 bananas a day as part of her vegan diet while she was pregnant. There were plenty of people happy to criticize her, but the 25 year old delivered a healthy baby boy, gaining 40 pounds during her pregnancy. She lost 22 pounds just 2 days after giving birth, which tells me a good amount of that was just the water weight and the baby that you could associate with pregnancy. So is a vegan diet during pregnancy really that bad?

According to Mary Rosser, MD, an OBGYN at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, it’s perfectly healthy. Rosser cautions, But a plant based diet should be well planned out to ensure you’re consuming all the important nutrients that meet your needs and your baby’s needs. It’s a true point for any pregnant woman, but they suggest that without meat, you may have to be more aware of nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, and calcium. Obviously, some also have concerns about protein, but there are plenty of vegan protein sources if you are aware.

Vegans can get all of these nutrients from plant sources ranging from beans to nuts, soy, fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and things such as fortified orange juice. Most doctors provide extra vitamins and mineral supplements anyway during pregnancy.

Once the babies are born, they find that vegans tend to lose weight, much like Anthony did, because they are usually very educated about their pregnancy and aware of what they’re eating. With that investment, they may be less likely to gain excess weight than another woman who thinks of herself as ‘eating for two’

At the end of the day, vegan can be a great diet during pregnancy.

What They Don’t Want You To Know About Organic Food

Buy food with the USDA’s official organic seal, or even organic food at your local farmer’s market. It’s exciting. You think that you are getting healthier and more natural foods, and maybe you are. Your food is grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and it is not genetically modified, or at least it hasn’t been in a while. If it’s meat, the animals were supposedly raised on a farm with healthy organic crops and ideally without cages, antibiotics, or growth hormones. It’s nice to think that you’re doing something for the animals and the world when you eat organic.

As far as the actual nutritional benefits, they’re debatable. Yes, there are studies that suggest that some have more antioxidants for example, but there are also studies that show that the differences are negligible at best, and organic foods are more likely to be subject to widespread disease that can kill crops, and either way, it’s going to cost you more, but if you’re asking if you can trust the label, you certainly wouldn’t be the first, and that is even more controversial.

Some have found that organic foods are not subject to the same standards across the board. There are some who even suggest that organic foods are not regulated at all. According to journalist Peter Laufer, the organic market needs some serious thought and reform, serious changes. He has written a new book, Organic: A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling. He looks for the origins of organic walnuts purchased at Trader Joe’s and black beans from Whole Foods.

Customers have become overly trusting of organic labels, which Laufer says have become inappropriately seductive. He demands higher requirements for organic labels.

The US government technically got involved in classifying organic foods in the 90’s, and the definition was created by the National Organic Program. Some have long felt that the standards are watered down to say the least. There are 3 basic standards set down:

  • It has to have no herbicides, pesticides, sewage, sludge, etc.
  • 5% of the product can come from a list of about 500 approved substances that are not actually organic
  • You only need 70% organic if you say made with organic ingredients.

Considering the extra money, there are those who will simply blatantly ignore these rules.

There are some areas that do more certifying than others, Denmark for example. Austria also provides a subsidy if farmers are growing organic, meaning they can make even more. However, if they fail inspections by the government and do not meet standards, they will face fines and have to pay back the cash subsidy.

Frankly, the way things are moving, we will see more and more organic labels. We are even seeing them for a cheap price in Walmart stores, which to me does not smell like a good thing. It reeks like an invitation for lower standards. Personally, I have simply chosen not to waste money on organic, and I get most of my vegetables from a local farmer’s market or Bountiful Baskets. They give me options of organic if I care to pay more, but I don’t. Call it what you will.

Easy Ways To Prevent Osteoporosis

Nobody wants to actually deal with osteoporosis, or at least I don’t think you do. You want to live comfortably as you age, and ideally, this includes not having bones that are breaking down. Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, the odds are simply not in your favor. 80% of osteoporosis affects women (approximately 8 million women), and according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 1/2 of all women will lose bone mass starting after their 50th birthday. 5 to 20% will suffer osteoporosis as we know it today. It is less common in African Americans and more common in Latinas, Caucasians, and Asians, and yes, it can be associated with being a side effect of menopause. The good news is that while some of it is genetic, there are some things that you can do to prevent it and ideally lessen the severity at the very least:

  • Exercise A Little, Walk: When you exercise, specifically with weight bearing exercises like walking, it has a natural effect of strengthening your bones and the muscles around them to protect you. No equipment is required for walking, and you can do it any time. But of course, if you prefer, there are plenty of other options that are available for weight bearing exercises. Take advantage of the ease of it.
  • Eat Some Ice Cream: I know, I bet you thought you would never hear that one. Ice cream is full of sugar yes, but it’s also full of milk and the associated calcium. For those with osteoporosis, it has often been associated with lower levels of calcium in the body, meaning the more you can get naturally (it absorbs better coming from food), the better. Foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines, fortified orange juice, and dark leafy greens are also great sources of calcium.
  • Lay Off The Drinks: Okay, so you like to drink. Lay off a little as alcohol can cause your bones to deteriorate, breaking them down. An occasional drink is not necessarily a bad thing, but too much can increase your risk of bone loss. The American Heart Association recommends just 1 drink (or less) of alcohol per day for women. If you smoke, you may also want to skip out on that to prevent bone loss.
  • Early Screening Is Essential: Early screening and diagnosis allows you to also get early intervention. If you are over 65 (or maybe even 50 for women), you should undergo screenings for your bone mineral density. There are risk factors such as smoking, excessive drinking, some medications, low body weight, fractures, etc. Early detection can make a huge difference in the progression of the disease.

Fish Oil Boost Brain Power

A magical cure-all, or at least that’s what its supporters say, fish oil supposedly boosts fertility while improving heart health and helping you to lose weight at the same time. Some even claim it may help you to fight acne, fight depression, ulcers, diabetes, and a number of other conditions. What you may have not expected so far is that fish oil may actually help you to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

A study of 819 people that was published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia studied the effects of fish oil daily on cognitive decline over time along with brain atrophy. One person a minute is currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, meaning it’s no small matter.

Lori Daiello, a research scientist at the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital says, We found that fish oil was associated with better performance on standard tests of memory and thinking abilities over time, compared to those who didn’t take supplements. They also experienced less brain shrinkage in areas of the brain important for healthy cognitive aging – the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for forming and retaining memories.

In the study itself, researchers analyzed information from neuropsychological tests and MRI brain imaging over up to 4 years during a longitudinal study of brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease. They used older adults with varying degrees of cognitive ability including normal cognitive ability, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Fish oil seemed to have the biggest effect on cognitive functioning.

Daiello says, Retrospective studies cannot establish cause and effect, so we can’t make a global recommendation that everyone should start taking fish oil supplements. But the findings highlight the need for additional research on the effects of long term fish oil use on brain health in later life.

The key ingredient is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and other similar fish. If you don’t love fish, you can also find it in eggs, milk, and algae. Daiello has found that there is no definitive evidence that suggests that actually eating fish is better than daily fish oil supplements. However, there are some people who don’t like fishy breath that can come with supplements.

Daiello says, In that case, you could always store the capsules in the freezer, which seems to diminish the scent.

If you are looking for a fish oil supplement for multiple reasons, you can expect many benefits. But you may want to talk to your doctor for recommendations for the best supplement for you.

Why You Get Migraines

It’s not just a headache, it’s extreme pain that explodes, causing light to be painful, pain if you touch it, and nausea just to start. Eating things like raw onions, red wine, being around cigarette smoke, and even hormone swings that you can’t just control through diet could all be contributing factors. For hormones, some find birth control effective, and there are some pills that are actually meant to prevent migraines, stress headaches, and other severe headaches like that.

Interestingly enough, for some, they try diet changes, activity changes, taking birth control and other pills, and none of that works. Still, they have headaches and migraines come up. There are some who even find that the pills that are supposed to prevent the headaches may actually be causing them. In these cases, sometimes something like acupuncture, which is obviously an unusual approach, can be used.

So how widespread is this? Headaches and migraines are by no means unusual. Over 30 million Americans currently live with chronic migraines. 45 million people deal with chronic headaches of some kind (tension headaches, migraines, or otherwise). However, many of these people try to just deal with the headaches on their own rather than seeking relief through acupuncture, a doctor’s visit, or something else.

The American Academy of Neurology and the International Headache Society have both looked to complete more research to fight and prevent these types of headaches. If you find that you are experiencing this, you can take Advil or other pain pills, but you may want to visit your doctor if they are chronic to see about preventative approaches.

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