Kamis, 13 Juni 2013

Health Benefits of Love

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Health Benefits of Love
Ain't love grand? It's fulfilling, exciting and, as it turns out, good for you, too. We spoke to experts and found out that romance can bring you more than just giddiness—it can also positively affect your health and well-being. So whether you've been married for years or are single and looking, the following evidence will remind you why it's important to make room for love in your life.

It may bolster your immune system.
Research suggests that happy couples who engage in positive conflict resolution have higher functioning immune systems than those who don't, says Gian Gonzaga, MD, senior director of research & development at eHarmony Labs. He points to a study by Ronald Glazer and Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, in which couples were observed during disputes. The couples who displayed the most negative behavior during the fights also showed the largest decline in immediate immune system functioning. Those who argued in a more loving, positive way had higher immediate immune function. Looking to fight in a healthier way? According to Dr. Gonzaga, the key to positive conflict resolution is productively engaging in the conversation without retreating or "stonewalling" each other.

It can make you physically fit.
No, you don't get to bid your gym membership goodbye. But, it turns out that couples who exercise together have more success than people who sweat solo. According to certified fitness trainer and nutritionist Jay Cardiello, "nearly half of people who exercise alone quit their programs after one year, but two-thirds of those who work out with a loved one stick to it." Even better: Both men and women work between 12 and 15 percent harder when training with a romantic partner. Whether it's the excitement of being together or the extra push to keep up with your partner, sweating à deux clearly has its benefits. To reap the rewards, try scheduling in gym sessions with your honey during a time when you'll both be able to commit, like in the morning or during lunch.

It might help you live longer.
"There's a long history of research that has looked at the health benefits of marriage," says Joseph Hullett, MD, psychiatrist and senior medical director for OptumHealth, Behavioral Solutions. "According to a 2004 study by the CDC, mortality rates were found to be the lowest in married couples." Dr. Hullett attributes these findings to the fact that, generally speaking, people experience less stress when they're in committed, healthy relationships—and less stress means better health. Plus, it has been shown that when men marry they give up some of their risky behavior—like heavy drinking and smoking—which leads to longevity. Good news for your hubby!

It may clear up your skin.
That healthy glow of being in love? It's not just a myth! "When our love life is in order, our stress levels are lower," says Genaise Gerstner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. "There is less free-floating cortisol—high cortisol levels cause stress-induced acne––and thus less skin breakouts and pimples."

It can improve your heart heath.
"Human beings are social animals who have biological drives that make them want to find relationships," says Dr. Hullett. "When they can't find those unions, they're punished with stress." People in happy relationships experience less stress, which in turn improves their cardiovascular health. Furthermore, Dr. Hullett says people who aren't in stable, committed relationships have an increased rate of heart attacks, particularly those who have been widowed, giving a graver meaning to the term "heartbroken."

It can reduce feelings of pain.
The comfort of holding your husband's hand can actually minimize your feelings of pain, according to a recent study. "Researchers studied people that experienced electrical shocks and found that holding someone's hand ameliorated the pain and perception of pain," says Dr. Hullett. The most fascinating part? These feelings of pain decreased even more when the female subjects—who were in happy marriages––held their husband's hands. "Yes, friends helped reduce the pain that these subjects were feeling, but their husband did a better job at it."

It can regulate your menstrual cycle.
That is, love––as in making love––can. If you're struggling with irregular periods, try hitting the sheets. Eric Braverman, MD, author of Younger (Sexier) You, points to a study from Planned Parenthood demonstrating that women who have sex at least once a week have higher levels of estrogen and are more likely to have regular menstrual cycles than women who have sex less frequently.

It can improve your mental well-being.
We all know that being in love makes us feel elated, but it's not just in our heads. There actually is scientific evidence of romance's blissful effects on the brain. Dr. Braverman references a study from Rutgers University that found participants, when they looked at photos of people they deeply love, had an increase of dopamine brain activity, which is associated with optimism, energy and a sense of well-being. Talk about being high on love! Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist and author of Why Him? Why Her? supports this notion: "The bottom line is, the dopamine rush that comes from being in love gives you tremendous energy and optimism."
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Minggu, 13 Januari 2013

How to Take Antiviral Flu Medicines

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How to Take Antiviral Flu Medicines
Oseltamivir comes as capsules or a syrup. You will need to take one capsule twice a day for five days to treat flu. Doctors prescribe lower doses for children, depending on how much they weigh. To prevent flu, you will need to take a capsule once a day for 10 days after exposure to the virus or for up to six weeks during an epidemic.

Zanamivir comes as an inhaler (puffer), similar to the type used to treat asthma. Each puff contains a small amount of the medicine. To treat flu (once you have symptoms), you need to use the puffer twice a day for five days. To prevent flu after you’ve been exposed to someone with the illness, you will need to use it once a day for 10 days. If there is a flu epidemic, you may be prescribed zanamivir for up to 28 days.

For oseltamivir and zanamivir to be effective, you need to start taking them within 48 hours of your symptoms first appearing. In children, zanamivir needs to be taken within 36 hours.

Special care

If you’re a woman and are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor may advise you to take either oseltamivir or zanamivir during a flu pandemic. Oseltamivir is the preferred medicine for women who are breastfeeding.

If you have advanced kidney disease, you may not be able to take oseltamivir. Always ask your GP for advice and read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.

Side-effects of antiviral flu medicines
  • feeling sick
  • vomiting
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • conjunctivitis

These side-effects usually happen after you have taken the first dose of your medicine and will usually stop as you continue the course.

Side-effects of zanamivir are uncommon, but include:
  • rashes
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of your face, mouth or throat

Because zanamivir can cause breathing difficulties, it isn't usually recommended if you have an underlying medical condition that affects your breathing system. Examples of such conditions include asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Ask your GP for more advice.
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Fighting The Flue

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Fighting The Flue
The flu, it seems, is an ever-present fixture on the seasonal list of things to expect. And, with the norovirus causing havoc this year and the flu sweeping the nation and other countries, it’s really important to do what you can to stop the spread of infections.

The flu is mostly spread by coming into contact with others who have the virus; and, as many of us have recently returned to work and school, you may be worried that your risk of flu may have increased.

While there is no cure, there are things you can do to give yourself the best fighting chance against catching the flu virus.

Get the jab

Having the flu can leave you feeling pretty rough, but for some it can develop into a serious health condition. People who are at risk for developing more serious flu-related complications include women who are pregnant, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such asthma, diabetes or a weakened immune system.

If you’re at risk, you should get the flu jab to safeguard yourself against catching the flu. Call your doctor for more information and to arrange your vaccination.

Keep it clean

The flu virus is highly contagious, and can spread easily through the air you breathe or direct contact with someone who has it. Making sure that you wash your hands regularly to kill the germs is a great line of defence against getting the flu. In fact, after getting the flu vaccination, your hygiene is the only way to help avoid contracting or spreading the flu.

Coughing and sneezing into tissues – rather than your hands – is also a good way of minimising the spread of flu germs. Don’t forget to put your used tissues in the bin!

Take care

It may seem obvious, but making sure to take good care of your health can help keep you well.

Eating a balanced diet – including plenty of fruit and vegetables – can ensure that your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to support your immune system. It’s also important to get enough rest as this helps your body to replenish energy stores and restore itself.
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12 Most Common Effects of Heart Disease

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12 Most Common Effects of Heart Disease
  1. Blood pressure can rise and fall quite often. Neither high blood pressure nor low blood pressure is a good condition. You want your blood pressure to be normal always. Fluctuations are not good for your heart.
  2. Can lead to a fatal heart attack. When an artery becomes so narrowed that the blood flow to the heart is completely blocked, a heart attack is what happens.
  3. Can lead to a stroke. When an artery that's liked to the brain is so clogged up with fatty deposits that blood flow to the brain is severely impeded to the extent that blood cannot flow through, what results is a stroke.
  4. Dizziness. A person can experience dizziness because the heart is no longer functioning properly and blood flow to and from the heart and brain is impaired. The person suffering from heart disease will experience light-headedness.
  5. Shortness of breath. Irregular breathing is another common effect when managing heart disease. It can result from irregular palpitations. This is actually also a heart disease symptom.
  6. Chest pain. Chest pain occurs when oxygen to the heart is limited or blocked due to artery blockages. Also known as angina, chest pain is also a one of the heart disease symptoms.
  7. Fatigue. The person who suffers from a heart disease will usually be constantly tired, exhausted and feeling drained.
  8. Stress, worry and depression. The constant feeling of stress, anxiety, worry or depression is also a possible of effect of heart disease.
  9. Persistent coughing or wheezing. This can be one of the possible effects of heart disease that can result from water in the lungs through cardiac failure or heart failure.
  10. Ineffective functioning of the liver and kidney. If the heart, which is the most important organ in the body, is not functioning properly or is under distress, there’s no telling how the other organs linked might function. They could get affected too.
  11. Another effect of heart disease can manifest in swelling in the ankles and feet.
  12. Can result in death. If blood supply is completely cut off from the heart due to artery blockage, the person in question could die from not being able to breathe.

To avoid the possible effects of heart disease, you simply should just take measures to prevent heart disease. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes such as stopping to smoke will put you in a great position to prevent heart disease.
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Jumat, 21 Desember 2012

Are We Genetically Programmed to Fall in Love?

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Are We Genetically Programmed to Fall in Love?
Valentine’s Day, love songs, romance novels—do they influence falling in love? On the surface it seems like they do, but scientific research suggests that there’s another cupid at work: instinct. Love, specifically the passionate variety, is an emotion that is almost beyond our control. Humans, it seems, are programmed to take this amorous tumble. Forget the roses and heart-shaped box of chocolates—it’s our genes that are on the hook for our addiction to love.

According to Elizabeth Pillsworth, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at California State University, passionate love has been around since the dawn of time. “It's hard to say with any great confidence when the emotion of love may have evolved,” says Pillsworth, “but given the fact that we haven't found any human populations in which it seems to be absent, either in modern or historical records, we can assume that [love] is characteristic of humans, like feeling compassion or shame.”

Love is one of our oldest emotions. Our hunting-and-gathering predecessors were just as consumed by it as we are today. Back then, passionate love brought people together for survival, safety and continuation of the species. Today, we might not need a partner to help us stay alive, feel secure, or even have babies, but at the heart of love, the need is the same: the desire to love someone and have that amorous feeling reciprocated. This emotion is universal. It crosses generations, cultures and geographical borders.
Why does love make us do crazy things?

So why does passionate love make us act like we do? Triggered by age-old instincts, modern love has a lot to answer for. "People literally describe spending upwards of 90 percent of their waking energy thinking about the object of their desire, planning ways to inadvertently ‘bump into’ him,” says Pillsworth. We dream about the moment when they tell us they love us back. Passionate love with its first flush of excitement is typically a brief condition. It’s normally restricted to the early stages of a relationship. On the plus side, it’s a very romantic phase, however, it’s also incredibly time-consuming and occasionally verges into obsessive territory—the lovesick behaviour called limerence. “Dorothy Tennov, a social psychologist, coined the term in her 1979 book, Love and Limerence,” says Pillsworth. “[It captured] that aspect of love characterized by intrusive thoughts, emotional roller coasters, desperate desire for deep emotional attachment, and even quasi-stalking behaviours.” Passionate love can make some of us do crazy things, but for the majority it’s a helpful tool.

Take the selection of a mate. Our instincts make us seek out certain traits in a potential significant other. Falling in passionate love is the first step in the process. “In looking for a long-term partner, both [sexes] are most anxious to find someone who is kind, mutually attracted to them, and has a good sense of humour,” says Pillsworth. “Beyond that, men place more emphasis on the physical attractiveness of a long-term partner than women do. Women place more emphasis on the resource-acquiring characteristics of a long-term partner.” These preferences date back to ancient times. Men searched for the curvy, “womanly” body type that signals a healthy mate for child-bearing, while the opposite was true for women. A virile, broad-shouldered male was ideal for a sexual conquest, but not necessarily for a life-long relationship. Women primarily sought providers. Falling in love was a good test to see if the person in question was up to scratch before any further commitment was established. Love today isn’t much different.
Is love meant to last forever?

When the bloom of this initial affection wilts and a strong, but less intense, love takes over, the relationship can hit a turning point. Will it spark a break up, or a lengthy monogamous union? Isn’t monogamy in our genes, too? Scientists remain mixed on the subject. Some research suggests that people in the midst of passionate love seem blind to other attractive individuals. They’re focused on that one potential partner, despite other enticing prospects nearby. Such findings fuel the monogamous point of view, but other studies differ. Contrary evidence indicates that men and women will explore extra sexual and relationship opportunities if given the chance, thus monogamy is just a passing phase. Science has been unable to support either theory completely. What is for certain is that we have an ability to use our instincts in conjunction with our own decision-making processes. “[We] have a highly flexible, responsive mating system,” says Pillsworth. “We take in information about our current circumstances: our age, attractiveness, cultural context, and behave accordingly.” Passionate love with all its benefits—and faults—may be driven more by our minds than our hearts, but at least we’re not alone in acting under its spell. We are all at the mercy of this crazy little thing called love.


Web exclusive, February 2011

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The 3 Best Foods to Boost Sex Drive

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The 3 Best Foods to Boost Sex Drive
1. Watermelon

This juicy red fruit could be the new sexual star. While watermelon is 92 percent water, the remaining eight percent contains the phytonutrient citrulline, which converts to arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, according to 2008 research from Texas A&M University’s department of horticultural sciences. Although not as organ-specific as drugs that treat men’s erectile dysfunction, watermelon may help improve blood flow to erectile tissue (present in the female clit¬oral area as well as the male penis), increasing arousal. Scientists at the university’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center are now working on increasing the fruit’s citrulline content.

But if you are trying to conceive, don’t overdo it! Watermelon, like tomatoes, contains the antioxidant lycopene, which is in the same family as carotene and therefore has the same beneficial antioxidant effects. On the one hand, that’s great since carotene, found in many brightly coloured foods, has been shown to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. But it is also anti-estrogenic, says Dr. Sony Sierra, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Toronto’s LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine, “so a very high volume may block estrogen and prevent the lining of the uterus from growing and the fertilized egg from implanting.” Some of Sierra’s patients have disordered eating habits and eat massive amounts of high-carotene foods such as carrots or kale. She advises clients to follow Canada’s Food Guide, which recommends a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, in seven or eight half-cup servings daily for women (up to 10 servings for men).


2. Saffron

Massimo Marcone, an associate professor of food science at the University of Guelph, used to dismiss aphrodisiacs as mere folklore. In 2011, in fact, he conducted a thorough scientific review of more than 200 international studies on consumable aphrodisiacs, and rejected almost all as invalid. But Marcone was shocked to find that a few studies on one particular spice—saffron—held up to close scrutiny.

“Not only does saffron appear to have aphrodisiac properties for both men and women,” Marcone says, “but it helps with anxiety, insomnia, PMS and insulin resistance.”

The seductive spice, whose red-gold threads come from a type of crocus that is native to Mediterranean Europe and Southwest Asia (not the same variety that pokes its pretty head through Canadian snows in early spring), contains antioxidants including crocin, crocetin and safranal. These are believed to be responsible for increasing sexual desire and arousal, according to studies Marcone reviewed that measured blood flow to sexual organs and frequency of sexual encounters after consuming the spice.

The ancients knew saffron’s power: It’s said that Alexander the Great added it to his rice and tea, Cleopatra bathed in it before meeting her lovers, and Romans were known to sprinkle saffron on newlyweds’ beds.

Available in supermarket spice aisles and used in Spanish paella, Moroccan tajine, Italian risotto and many Persian/Iranian dishes, saffron is pricey, running from $50 to $300 an ounce. But a little—a tiny pinch—goes a very long way, says post-doctoral fellow Sanan Wang, who worked with Marcone on the review. ’

What about other spices in your kitchen? Nutmeg, cloves, garlic and ginger also look promising for sexual potency, Marcone says, but more research is needed. Don’t hold your breath, though; none of these natural products can be patented, so drug companies aren’t racing to sponsor such a study.


3. Oysters


Skeptics have dismissed the purported aphrodisiac benefits of eating oysters as purely psychological, based on their suggestive shape and slippery texture. But Gloria Tsang, a Vancouver registered dietitian and the founder of nutrition network HealthCastle.com, says there may be something to the belief. “A lot of shellfish—including oysters, clams, crabs, lobsters and mussels—are high in zinc, which can trigger a surge in the production of sex hormones.”

Tsang adds that these bivalve mollusks also contain two rare amino acids: D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate. Joint American-Italian research in 2005 at Barry University in Miami and the Laboratory of Neurobiology in Naples, Italy, found that giving these amino acids to rats increased testosterone in the males and progesterone in the females—both are hormones associated with greater sexual activity.


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How Weight Affects Your Sex Life

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How Weight Affects Your Sex Life
Sometimes what’s needed to boost libido isn’t a specific food, but sufficient calories. In a 2010 multi-centre study including the department of psychiatry at Toronto General Hospital and universities in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, two thirds of 242 young women age 18 to 32 who had eating disorders that restricted calories reported low sexual functioning. The study concluded that a low body weight is associated with sexual anxiety, a loss of libido and avoidance of sexual relationships.

Being too thin can also hinder fertility, says Sierra, by disturbing the delicate interplay of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries, preventing regular cycles. “It can also affect the synchrony involving signals to the uterine lining, so that even if you produce an egg, the lining won’t be getting enough nutrients to sustain a pregnancy.”

In general, she recommends a body mass index between 18 and 24, which is in line with Health Canada’s recommendations for men and women.

Since fat is needed for producing sex hormones, avoid an extremely low-fat diet, and stick to healthy types of fat such as olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts such as almonds or walnuts.

Being too heavy can impair your sexual functioning, too. Sierra says being overweight can cause hormonal imbalances and, if you’re trying to get pregnant, can disturb the growth of a healthy egg. In men, a big belly keeps the sperm too warm, affecting their quality and motility. Tsang adds that reaching a healthy weight often improves a person’s sex life. “My clients often say that when they lose excess weight, they’re happier in the bedroom.”

This article was originally titled "Lovin' spoonfuls" in the October 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience–and never miss an issue

 
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