Feeling Lazy? Here are Five Tips

Hey Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

If you are anything like me, the shorter, darker, and cooler days of winter might make you feel a little less energetic and a little more prone to laziness.

Here are a few tips to help boost your energy levels and conquer winter:

Color Therapy:

During this time of the year our lack of energy may be due to the winter blues. Research shows us that one way to boost your mood is to wear bright and vibrant colors. Sometimes during these dark and cloudy days a little burst of color might just help to lift your spirits.

Rise and Shine:

It turns out that there is wisdom behind the cliché saying rise and shine. Experts recommend either stepping outside or simply facing a window soon after waking up. This flood of natural light can help energize you and exposure to sunlight has been shown to set our internal clock, regulate hormones, and put you in a better mood.

Go Outside:

During the cold winter months many of us spend almost the entire day indoors. However, once in a while it is a good idea to bundle up and go outside. But you don’t have to stay outside too long. Research shows that just a quick walk around the block can ease our tiredness and help us feel much better. If it is dark outside make sure to be extra safe and carry a little flashlight with you or just use the one on your phone if your phone has one.

Cool Shower:

I feel slightly hypocritical because out of all of these tips this one is the hardest for me to implement. During the winter you should take soothing warm showers. However, experts recommend that right before getting out you should give yourself a 30 second rinse in cold water.

Research shows that once you get over the initial shock you will feel more energized as the blood flow increases to help your body conserve heat. One study even showed that doing this can even help your brain release endorphins and this can even have an antidepressant effect.

Don’t Forget about Water:

Normally, drinking plenty of water is most often emphasized during the warmer summer months. However, it is possible to become, at least, mildly dehydrated during the winter and this can lead to lethargy and changes in mood. The simple solution is to carry a bottle with you and continue to sip throughout the day.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Here’s How Your Smartphone Can Save Your Life

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re al doing well!

I think that it is safe to say that nowadays most people carry their smartphone with them wherever they go. Although our smartphones can often be a source of distraction for us, most of them have a potentially life saving feature called Medical ID.

As its name implies, Medical ID is an especially helpful feature to have if someone is in an emergency situation. During an emergency, Medical ID, which is available on both Apple and Android phones can help first responders identify the patient, find the contact info for the family or loved ones of the patient, and especially help them learn a bit about the medical history of the patient.

The good news is that Medical ID is a free smartphone app. If you have an iPhone, the Medical ID app is called Health and it is the app with a pink heart on a white background. If you have an android phone, the Medical ID app is the one with a red star on a white background.

Regardless of what type of smartphone you have the Medical ID app will ask you to fill in your basic medical information about yourself such as your name, age, height and weight. It also asks if you have any allergies and if you are currently taking any medications.

I know that for many people, taking the time to find this app and fill in the information may sound trivial and unimportant. However, the reality is that we never know if or when an emergency may occur. As the saying goes: “its better to be safe than sorry”. I really hope that this post will convince at least some of my dear readers to take the time to find and fill out their Medical ID app.

With Love,

Yasmin

Eat These Three Nutrients for Stronger Bones

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As many of you already know our bones play a very important role in our body by providing structure, protecting our organs, anchoring our muscles and storing calcium.

After age 30 our bones gradually start to weaken. Maintaining good bone health is especially important for women because as we age women are much more likely to get osteoporosis which is when our bones become very thin and brittle and much more likely to fracture.

This issue is near and dear to me because my lovely grandmother has osteoporosis and her doctor has warned her that even a small fall can be life threatening for her.

While my grandmothers osteoporosis will likely never be cured there are three important nutrients that, along with physical activity, can help you maintain strong and healthy bones.

Calcium

By now we have all heard of the importance of calcium for our bones. The fact that is that calcium is a mineral that is stored in our bones and calcium helps make our bones thick and strong.

The following foods are high in calcium:

  • Plain low fat yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Sardines
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Almonds

Magnesium:

Just like calcium, magnesium is stored in our bones to keep them strong. Magnesium also controls the parathyroid hormone which helps control the calcium levels in our body. Unfortunately, some research shows that around 50 percent of Americans do not get enough magnesium.

Luckily, the following foods are a great source of magnesium:

  • Edamame
  • Black beans
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Avocadoes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bananas

Vitamin D

By now we wall know the importance of calcium in regards to bone health. The problem is that our body only absorbs about 30 percent of all of the calcium that we intake. This is why Vitamin D is so important. Vitamin D is the nutrient that helps our blood absorb the calcium that we consume.

Without a doubt, one of the best sources of Vitamin D is the sun. However, the following are the foods that contain Vitamin D:

  • Eggs
  • Maitake Mushrooms
  • Fortified soy milk (there are also other options such as fortified orange juice)
  • Tuna
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Beef liver
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Soybeans

While there may not be a guaranteed way to prevent osteoporosis hopefully these tips will help keep your bones healthy and strong for many years to come.

With Love,

Yasmin

Quick Tip: Sleep But Don’t Track

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As many of you may know, lately certain watch like devices such as the Fitbit and the Apple Watch have become especially popular amongst people who want to track their overall fitness on a daily basis.

Many of these watches track your physical activity (such as how many steps you’ve taken), your vital signs, and the number of calories you’ve burned and even the amount of sleep you get each night.

First of all, I want to point out that I currently do not have any such device myself but I know quite a few people that either already have something like the Fitbit or they really want to buy one in the near future.

Based on the reviews that I have come across many of these devices, especially the higher end ones, are really quite good and they do for the most part, accurately track your physical activity and vital signs, etc.

However, experts recommend that the one area where these devices shouldn’t be used is during our sleep time. The problem is not that these devices may not be very reliable at tracking our sleep, although the reviews are mixed, rather the major problem with tracking our sleep is that this can lead to anxiety.

Tracking sleep can make some people obsess over their results even though these results may not even be accurate. Constantly checking and worrying about the amount of sleep that you get each night can lead to anxiety and this anxiety can end up harming your sleep rather than improving it.

And of course, this is why most experts recommend that people take off these devices at night for a more restful sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Tech and your Eyes: Eight Tips to Protect Your Eyes

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

According to the research I have come across, the average person spends anywhere from six to nine hours a day behind a screen.

If we count both work and leisure many of us spend almost all of our waking hours behind some sort of screen.

All of this screen time can lead to eye strain and some symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • red, dry, or irritated eyes
  • eye fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • tension headaches
  • pain in the neck and shoulders

I have to admit that I am personally very concerned about the effects of technology on our overall mental and physical health but especially on our vision because our eyes are key in helping us see and process the information on our screens.

Before writing this post I did a little bit of research on the effects of technology and screen time on our eyes and the general consensus seemed to be that aside from the negative effects of blue light, screens are not that damaging to our eyes because they do not emmitt the most dangerous forms of radiation such as x-ray radiation.

I am definitely taking this conclusion with a grain of salt because this type of technology is still so new. Throughout the course of human history humans have survived and thrived without these screens and just in the past ten years or so these devices have proliferated and they have become a constant fixture of our lives. Ultimately, I believe time will tell the true effects of technology on our overall health and well-being and especially on our eyes.

However, I am definitely a firm believer in prevention being better than the cure so here just a few preventive tips that can help protect your eyes from damage:

  • When you look at any screen for an extended period of time your eyes will become tired. Most experts recommend the 20-20-20 rule where you look away from the screen every 20 minutes at something around 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
  • Keep your phone as far away from your eyes as possible but still at a distance where you can comfortably read without straining.
  • Often when we are really focusing on the screen in front of us we forget to blink and this can lead to dry and irritated eyes. In order to avoid this try to remind yourself to blink at frequent intervals. If you keep forgetting to blink, try placing a sticky note to remind yourself.
  • When you are sitting behind a computer screen, sit about an arms length away from the screen.
  • Always adjust the brightness of the screen to make it ideal for your current settings. Avoid screens that are too bright because your eyes have to work extra hard to focus on a screen that is too bright.
  • By now most of us have heard about the damaging effects of blue light. In an ideal world its just best to completely avoid screens before bed. However, if you’re like me and you still use your screen before bed consider turning on nightshift on your iPhone. This feature reduces the amount of blue light in favor of warmer tones. I think that many Android phones also have a similar feature called Night Mode.
  • When you are working in the evenings try to position yourself so that the light source, such as your light bulb or lamp, is behind you rather than behind the screen because this will put less pressure on your eyes.
  • Always try to take frequent breaks to rest your eyes. Go outside, stretch, grab a bite to eat, whatever works for you!

I really hope that you found these tips to be helpful. I do want to add that recently, about a month ago, I started taking an eye supplement with 20 mg of Lutein and 4 mg of Zeaxanthin.

Its far too early for me to recommend this product but it claims to support vision and macular health.

I am just taking this supplement as a preventative measure to help protect my eyes. I have noticed that nowadays I rarely get any tension headaches whereas I used to get them quite often before taking this supplement.

I was first introduced to this supplement by my aunt who claims that her vision has drastically improved after consistently taking this suopplement for one year.

Honestly, my vision is not the best so I would definitely be very pleased if it does improve my eyesight. I guess only time will tell.

With Love,

Yasmin

Flower Power: 5 Edible and Healthy Flowers

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Normally, when I think of flowers I think of these incredibly beautiful yet delicate living objects.

Although I love smelling flowers I would never ever consider eating a flower, that is until I came across some very interesting research about the health benefits of certain kinds of flowers.

Since safety is always first please be extra careful before trying anything new to prevent allergies or any other potentially serious complications.

If you do decide to eat any of the flowers listed in this post please make sure that the flowers come from a safe source. Avoid flowers that have grown by the road because pollution from the cars may tamper the safety of the flowers.

Also, avoid flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides. Make sure to completely avoid flowers such as foxglove, potato and sweet pea flowers because these flowers are toxic to human beings.

The good news is that there a number of flowers that are edible and healthy! Here is just a short list of only a few such flowers:

Roses:

Roses not only smell great but they are also packed with a wide range of health benefits. Rose petals are especially rich in vitamins and antioxidants. The base of the rose (also known as the rose hip) has been used throughout history to help with problems such as arthritis and a number of digestive issues such as indigestion, constipation, and urinary problems.

Marigolds:

Marigolds are light orange colored flowers. There are actually a number of different species of marigolds. However, the Calendula species of marigolds are especially popular for their health benefits. Calendula marigolds can help with a wide range of skin issues such as rashes, allergies, eczema and dermatitis. Calendula marigolds also help with muscle cramps, muscular injuries or sprains, eye inflammation and itchiness caused by conjunctivitis. These also help with fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, candida ear infections, and even ringworm.

Nasturtiums:

These flowers are packed with antibacterial properties and they contain Vitamins A, C, and D. Thanks to their antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Nasturtiums can be used to soothe sore throat and as a first aide ointment for wounds.

Dandelion:

This soft yellow flower can be eaten raw or it can be used as an ingredient for jams and syrups.. Many people love to add these flowers to their salads for a pop of color. Dandelions are super healthy. These flowers are often added to herbal teas to act as a diuretic. Dandelions help with inflammation and liver cleansing and they are a source of prebiotics. Some even claim that dandelions can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Saffron:

Since safety is always first pregnant woman should avoid saffron because it is believed that saffron stimulates the uterus and it can potentially cause a miscarriage.

Saffron is a rich source of a number of different minerals including calcium, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Saffron also contains folic acid, niacin, and vitamins A and C.

Finally, as a side note, saffron is especially near and dear to me because with the help of the United States, people in my parents homeland, Afghanistan, have started growing and selling saffron instead of opium. For those who don’t know unfortunately Afghanistan for many years was the worlds largest producer of opium however, thanks to this initiative opium is gradually being replaced by saffron.  Click here if you would like to read more about this.

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Tips for Better Sleep

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

In my experience, one unhealthy habit that people like to boast about is their lack of sleep, or their ability to get by with very little sleep.

Perhaps this is most common amongst university students who like to “pull all-nighters” in order to study for exams or complete projects and assignments. And its not just students that are getting less sleep.

A report by Gallup showed that Americans are sleeping one hour less per night than they did in the 1950’s.

The average adult human needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to survive and thrive. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time Ariana Huffington argues that sleep is not a luxury rather it is a necessity.

She cites scientific evidence of how sleep is a time for intense neurological activity in which the brain renews and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep is linked with severe health problems such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimers disease.

According to sleep expert Daniel Gartenberg, humans need sleep to save energy, to help their cells recover, and to help them process and understand their envirnment. Since sleep is so vital to our overall health and well-being, here are a few tips to help you get a better night of sleep.

Ban Screens Before Bedtime:

The very first tip is the one that I struggle with the most and that is to stop using my phone or laptop before bed. It turns out that I am not alone because a 2015 survey showed that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. The problem with this habit is that our electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) emitt blue light which can keep us awake at night.

As you know, melatonin is a brain hormone that helps us fall asleep but blue light suppresses our melatonin levels. The effects of blue light do not immediately go away once you stop using your device. It is best to stop using your electronic devices up to an hour or so before bedtime.

If you’re like me and you’re often tempted to check your phone before bedtime, my suggestion would be to completely remove your phone (and other electronic devices) from your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Sleep Consistency:

If possible, try to wake up and go to sleep during the same time each and every day including weekends. This way, your body establishes a routine and its easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It might be tempting to skim on sleep during the week and then sleep in during the weekends. While the extra few hours of sleep during the weekend may feel good, research has shown that you cannot make up sleep debt because its hard to make up for the REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep that you have missed. Also, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep due to its restorative properties.

Take A Nap:

The reality is that in this day and age it is difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. Taking a quick 30 minute nap during the day can help you feel rejuevenated. Even if you do get enough sleep at night, a nap can help you reenergize your brain. Its best to take your nap anytime before 3 pm so that you don’t confuse your circadian rythm and you don’t disrupt your nightime sleep.

Bonus tip: If you are someone who drinks coffee, consider drinking a cup before your nap and the caffeine will work as a natural alarm clock because it will kick-in, in 30 minutes and wake you up from your nap.

Temperature:

The room temperature can definitely impact the quantity and quality of our sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal room temperature for sleep. They also argue that anything above 75 degrees our below 54 degrees can disrupt our sleep. Of course, this is just a general estimate and the climate that we are from also influences our temperature preferences.

Food:

Personally, I often feel sleepy after I eat pasta and I know that a lot of people feel sleepy after eating Turkey.

However, when it comes to food and sleep its more about what kind of foods you should avoid rather than what foods to eat. Although different foods may work for different people, they ‘re aren’t many foods that experts believe can really help us fall asleep.

However, there are foods that should be avoided before bedtime:

Foods High in Sugar: If you consume a lot of sugar before bed, your blood sugar levels will become very high and your body has to release hormones to decrease your blood sugar and this process may temporarily disturb your sleep.

Caffeine: We all have a different caffeine sensitivity but a 2013 study showed that people who drank coffee 6 hours before bed lost about an hour of sleep at night. So, its best to stop drinking caffeine way before bedtime.

Late Dinners: Since it can take between two to three hours for our body to digest a meal, it is best to avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is especially true for those who suffer from acid reflux disease.

Spicy Foods: For some people, spicy foods can cause bloating and heartburn.

High Fat Foods: Its best to avoid high fat foods as much as possible because research has linked high fat foods with excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Alcohol: At first, alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but it can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Exercise:

We all know how beneficial exercise is for our overall health and well-being. Now, research has shown that regular exercise can improve the quantity and quality of our sleep. One study from Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can act as a great non-pharmaceutical way of improving our sleep. The only caveat is that it takes time to reap the sleep benefits of exercise. A study from Northwestern University showed that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep but it took four months to see results.

Overall, sleep is something that most of us love and all of us need. I really hope that you find some of these tips helpful in getting better sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin