Category Archives: Health

Soap is Ruining Your Skin

 

Washing hands

How much money have you spent on soaps, moisturizers, serums and masques emblazoned with the word “hydrating”? Odds are that you’re using up tubes and bottles of lotion, trying to replace lost moisture on a daily basis. Love that squeaky-clean feeling after washing your face with soap? Not only is it clean, but your skin is thirsty! It’s your largest organ, but it needn’t be your biggest problem anymore.

It can be perplexing, I understand. We are inundated with ads for skincare lines touting miracle effects in a jar. In the end, you most likely don’t have “problem” skin—you’re simply washing it too much. As a licensed esthetician, I’ve treated clients over the past five years with a myriad of skin concerns and issues including rise early and eczema. One of the most prominent complaints is dry, itchy, lackluster skin. Time and time again, the culprit is harsh chemicals and fillers found in face and body wash products.

Nowadays, many soaps are made with all natural, soothing ingredients. What if they’re added to replace what you’re washing away to begin with? Oil isn’t the problem—aggravating our epidermis with chemicals and over-washing it are the problems.

Break the cycle

It’s hard to cut out habits you’re used to in the realm of skincare. Soaps labelled “oil free” and “anti-acne” generally leave skin dehydrated. This actually stimulates the body, sending the message “hey, create more oil!” This in turn causes shininess, then you start scrubbing it all away again. It’s a vicious cycle. Many of us have been trained to use such cleansers since our teen years. Simply set them aside for thirty days and let your skin normalize. I guarantee you won’t go back to soap after seeing your new, healthy glow. Breaking any pattern can be a challenge at first, but simply swapping out toxic, drying products for simple, natural, household ingredients will yield great benefits.

Cool down, while you’re at it

A nice hot, soapy shower certainly feels amazing in the winter months, or after a challenging workout. However, lowering the temperature of your next shower is a great way to help your skin feel and look better. I know someone who takes a 60 minute hot shower every day; their skin is like leather. A nice lukewarm shower will do the trick, and keep it brief. Cooler water is better for your hair, too, particularly if you color it. Hot water can dry out your skin, hence the need for loading up on post-shower moisturizers, so just cool it down. I also recommend staving off dehydration by drinking a glass of water before you hop into the shower.

Isn’t it gross?

We are conditioned to think that extra clean is better and for most things, this is true. For example, it’s true of the floors in your home, your car, dishes and windows. However, I had an esthetics instructor who said “It’s a face, not a dish!” She used this simple comment to remind her students that our skin is an organ and shouldn’t be washed like a household item. Try swapping out your usual soaps for a little oil and fruit. Your face doesn’t get as dirty as your kitchen floor, so please stop washing it that way. There’s nothing gross about cleaning your face with the same beautiful, organic produce you’re eating.

Try this instead

Wet your hands, then emulsify a pinch of baking soda and a tablespoon of nut or olive oil. Spread it over your face using gentle, circular strokes. Add a little more water if it’s too thick or not spreading easily. I use straight coconut oil to wash my face every day, adding a little baking soda every four to five days. I don’t use a moisturizer, as there’s a nice healthy residue left after I gently massage the oil off with a warm, wet cloth. Mashing a chunk of a banana then adding a teaspoon of honey creates a hydrating fruit acid masque. Apply that once or twice a month to dry, dehydrated skin and you’ll see results right away. Considering that bananas are generally about forty cents apiece, this approach is a lot less expensive than a store bought treatment.

Less is more

According to the National Eczema Association “In order to prevent […] eczema flare-ups from appearing, you need to soak in water to hydrate, reduce microbes with bleach or soap-free cleansers.” Soap-free is the key phrase here. Take a look at your elbows and knees. Do you have dry, flaky skin there? Don’t run out to buy a bunch of ointment and medicated creams, as they’re loaded with fillers and chemicals. Instead, try massaging a bit of plain olive or coconut oil into these areas, then gently remove with a warm, wet cloth, using circular motions. Do this instead of scrubbing yourself raw then slathering on a ton of lotion. Two steps just became one; you’re saving time and money, and you look and feel better.

14 Reasons to Work Out That Have Nothing to Do With Weight Loss

When people join the gym – or just say they need to – their No. 1 reason is usually weight loss.

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And, hey, wanting to drop a few is a valid reason to work out. After all, when trying to lose weight, people who eat healthy and exercise lose considerably more weight than those who stick to cutting calories alone, according to research published in Obesity.

But losing weight still isn’t the best reason to start a workout routine. A growing body of evidence, including one Psychology and Health study of 252 office workers, has found that when the main motivation is losing weight and looking better, people don’t stick with their exercise program for very long.

So we’ve served up 14 reasons to work out that have nothing to do with losing weight – and everything to do with getting you moving for good.

1. You’ll Have More Energy

In one University of Georgia study, when previously sedentary adults who suffered from persistent fatigue performed just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week for six weeks, they reported feeling way more energetic. It may be because exercise increases the body’s efficiency and energy-generating capacity, says California-based exercise physiologist and certified strength and conditioning specialist Holly Perkins.

2. You’ll Score a Better Work-Life Balance

Whether exercising really improves your work-life balance remains to be seen, but people who exercise feel they have a better balance, according to a 2014 study published in Human Resource Management. And that’s despite the extra room exercise takes up in their schedules.

3. Colds Won’t Catch You

If you want to skate through cold season without getting sick, you better get moving. In one 2011 British Journal of Sports Medicine study, adults who performed aerobic exercise – such as running, biking and swimming – at least five days a week were 43 percent less likely to come down with an upper respiratory tract infection. Plus, when they did get sick, their symptoms weren’t as bad.

4. You’ll Live Longer

In one Archives of Internal Medicine study, Stanford University researchers monitored the health of hundreds of people who, at the start of the study, were 50 and older, for 21 years. At the end of the study, about 85 percent of the runners were alive, whereas only two-thirds of non-runners were. “Exercise greatly reduces your risk of all-cause mortality, your chances of dying – of any cause – on any given day,” explains certified personal trainer Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

5. You’ll Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep 

In one Mental Health and Physical Activity study of adults nationwide, people who performed 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week (the national guideline), slept 65 percent better than those who didn’t hit the 150-minute mark. “Regular exercise radically improves sleep quality – and reduces the amount of sleep you need in order to feel rested,” Perkins says. “When you work out, your body becomes more efficient at recovering, not just from workout sessions, but from daily life.” That means that at night, you need relatively less shut-eye for your body to repair itself and maintain health.

6. You’ll Have a Sunnier Disposition

“Exercise is a substantial mood booster,” Perkins says. In fact, according to research published in the International Journal of Psychology in Medicine, exercise is as effective as medication at treating mild to moderate depression. “While we aren’t sure of all of the mechanisms, exercise does optimize the body’s levels of hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as aid their uptake by tissues including your brain.”

7. You’ll Turn Back the Clock

Forget looking younger: Exercise can make you biologically similar to someone much younger. In fact, regularly swimming can postpone aging by about 20 years, according to research from Indiana University. One reason why: Exercise lengthens your chromosomes’ protective caps, called telomeres, which determine how quickly your cells age, per 2013 research published in the Lancet Oncology.

8. You’ll Boost Your Brainpower

“Exercise stimulates the production of new brain cells and neurons, lowering your risk of cogitative impairment now and in later life,” Tumminello says. Why? Well, apart from increasing the brain’s levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that promotes brain cells, exercise gets the blood flowing. In one 2014 Psychophysiology study, people who exercise have more oxygen flowing through their brains’ anterior frontal regions, helping them blow their way through difficult cognitive tests.

9. Your Bones Will Be Stronger

Exercise, especially high-impact and weight-bearing exercise like running and weight lifting, strengthens not only your muscles, but also your bones and joints. “Exercise can help prevent bone loss, even in people who have osteoporosis,” Tumminello says. “When your bones are stressed through exercise, they will adapt to become better capable of handling that stress.” Or, in a word, stronger. And, contrary to popular opinion, 2013 research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that running distances as far as a full marathon decreases the risk of knee osteoarthritis.

10. You’ll Get More Done

Working out takes time, but it may save you even more time in the long run. A 2011 Journal of Applied Physiology review of more than 100 studies found that, by training your brain to focus on the task at hand, regularly performing strength workouts keeps you focused and productive in whatever it is you do outside of the gym. In fact, one International Journal of Workplace Health Management study found that people are 23 percent more productive on days they exercise.

11. Your Heart Will Be Stronger

You probably (or at least, hopefully) know that cardio does your heart good. But it turns out, so does strength training. In one study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, just 45 minutes of resistance exercise instantly lowered people’s blood pressure by about 20 percent. And in people who worked out for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week, the effects lasted for about 24 hours.

12. You Won’t Get So Stressed

Regularly exercising helps people cope with anxiety and stress long after their workouts, according to 2013 research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. And that’s not just emotionally. “Exercise reduces the biological markers of stress, such as elevated cortisol levels,” Perkins says.

13. You’ll Be More Confident

All looks aside, hitting new personal records in the gym boosts confidence big time. “It makes people feel stronger and powerful, like they can overcome challenges in other areas of their lives,” Perkins says. Hence why one Cochrane review of 23 studies found that exercise increases self-esteem in young adults.

14. Your Hormones Will Be Healthier

“A lack of exercise will move you away from healthy hormone levels, and exercise will help move you toward a healthier hormone levels, balancing out estrogen and testosterone and training your body to better handle blood sugar through insulin and insulin receptors,” she says. In fact, when people go from not exercising at all to sweating it out for one hour per day, their levels of insulin resistance (a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes) improves by 25 percent, according to research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Why is smoking unhealthy for me?

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Most teens are aware that people who have smoked for a while can get lung cancer and emphysema and eventually die, but many don’t know about all of the bad things that smoking can do to them right now. If you smoke, you owe it to yourself to find out about the effects of smoking on your life now.

Why is smoking unhealthy for me?

According to research done by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there are more deaths caused by smoking than by all of the following combined: HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents, and firearm-related incidents.

8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking and on average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Each cigarette contains about 7000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous and about 70 cause cancer. Some of the worst ones are:

  • Nicotine: a deadly poison
  • Arsenic: used in rat poison
  • Methane: a component of rocket fuel
  • Ammonia: found in floor cleaner
  • Cadmium: used in batteries
  • Carbon Monoxide: part of car exhaust
  • Formaldehyde: used to preserve body tissue
  • Butane: lighter fluid
  • Hydrogen Cyanide: the poison used in gas chambers

Every time a person inhales smoke from a cigarette, small amounts of these chemicals get into their blood through their lungs. The chemicals are then transported by the blood to different parts of the body and cause harm.

Facts about smoking:

Even small amounts of the poisonous chemicals in cigarettes can do bad things to your body.

  • Smoking stains teeth, and causes bad breath and wrinkles.
  • Smokers get 3 times more cavities than non-smokers.
  • Smoking lowers hormone levels.
  • When smokers catch a cold, they are more likely than non-smokers to have a cough that lasts a long time. They are also more likely than non-smokers to get bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Teen smokers have smaller lungs and a weaker heart than teen non-smokers. They also get sick more often than teens who don’t smoke.

What happens to a person’s lungs when they smoke?

Every time a smoker inhales a cigarette, some of the alveoli (air sacks in the lungs) die. Alveoli are important because they transfer oxygen from the lungs into the blood which then carries oxygen to other organs in the body. This is dangerous because the alveoli won’t grow back so when they are destroyed, part of a person’s lungs will not function anymore. People with lung disease have problems doing physical activities such as sports, dancing, or singing.

Smoking paralyzes the cilia that line the lungs. Cilia are little hair like structures that move back and forth to sweep particles out of the lungs. When a person smokes, the cilia can’t move and thus can’t do their job. So dust, pollen, and other things that are inhaled just sit in the lungs and build up. Also, there are a lot of particles in smoke that get into the lungs. If the cilia can’t move, the particles stay in the lungs and form tar.

Why do people smoke if it’s so bad for them?

Some people like the feeling that smoking gives them. This temporary feeling is from the nicotine in the cigarettes. Some teens think smoking will help them lose weight or stay thin, but this isn’t true.

Facts:

  • Smokers get sick more often. They are also at risk for having chronic breathing problems such as emphysema and lung cancer. Most people agree that the temporary feeling from nicotine isn’t worth the risk of getting serious health problems.
  • Smoking doesn’t really help people lose weight. If that were true, every smoker would be thin.
  • Each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers.

How do tobacco companies get teens to start smoking?

Think about it this way: When a person decides to start smoking, the tobacco companies are happy because they spend millions of dollars every year on advertising to try to get new people, especially teens, to smoke. Once a person is hooked on smoking, they are forced to buy cigarettes to support their addiction. Ask yourself: Do I really want a big corporation controlling my life and telling me how to spend my money?

Can a person stop smoking if they’re addicted to cigarettes?

Many people don’t realize they are addicted to smoking. They think they can easily quit any time they want. But when they try, they forget it is extremely hard. Unfortunately, it is very easy to get addicted. Cigarettes are just as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Even if you only smoke one or two cigarettes a day and even if you’ve never bought a pack of cigarettes yourself, you are at risk. Stressful situations or hanging out with friends who smoke might cause a person to smoke more and become addicted. If you smoke, try going a whole week without smoking at all. If you find this challenge to be very hard, you are probably addicted to cigarettes.

When is the best time to quit smoking?

A lot of people put off quitting smoking, thinking that they’ll do it when the time is right. Only 5% of teens think they will still be smoking in 5 years. Actually, about 75% of them are still smoking more than five years later. If you smoke, it will never seem like the right time to quit and quitting will never be easy. The longer you smoke, the harder it will be to stop and the more damage you will do to your body.

Here are some reasons to quit sooner rather than later:

  • Most teens would rather date a non-smoker.
  • You’ll save money if you quit smoking. A pack of cigarettes in the U.S. costs over $9.00. Even if you only smoke a couple packs a week, you’re spending about $100 per month and $1200 per year on smoking. Think of all the other things you could use that money for.
  • You only have one pair of lungs. Any damage you do to them now will be with you for the rest of your life.
  • The longer you smoke, the better your chances are of dying from it. One out of 3 smokers die from smoking and many more become very sick. Think about your friends who smoke. 1/3 of them will die from smoking if none of you quit.

What are E-Cigarettes?

E- Cigarettes is short for “electronic” or battery operated smoking products that are made to look like; cigarettes, cigars, pipes and/or pens. Nicotine that is normally found in regular smoking products is made into a vapor that is inhaled. It’s important to know that E-cigarettes are NOT safer than regular cigarettes because they have not been studied nor approved by the FDA, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (the government organization that tests the safety of cigarettes, medicine, and food).

The Remedy That Will Cure a Nail Infection Fast

You’ve probably never heard the term “paronychia” before, but you’ve heard the horror stories. Pus-filled cuticles after a manicure appointment gone wrong. An achy, red toe after being punctured during your pedicure. These are all signs of a nail infection (a.k.a. paronychia). You can also get this ailment from biting your nails and pulling on hangnails. Once you’ve identified the problem, you can begin an easy remedy that requires no medical intervention. But if you wait too long, the consequences could ruin your future nail art fantasies.

What does it look like: The skin around the nail will start to get red and painful to touch. There could also be a bubble of pus near the nail bed. In the most extreme cases, the nail plate could begin to fall off.

How do you treat it: The first DIY stage is hot water soaks. Boil enough water to dip your hand, and let the liquid cool to a tolerable temperature (it should be as hot as you can stand). The hot water increases blood circulation to the area, which will help dilute the bacteria infection. Aim to soak at least three or four times a day for at least 15 minutes. If the hot water isn’t helping, it’s time to see a professional. A dermatologist can create a small incision to drain any blisters and prescribe an antibiotic to clear things out.

Why alcohol affects women differently to men

woman-drinks-cocktails-alcohol-mojito-stocksy-w724It may sound a bit sexist, but it’s simple biology.

The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the lower risk guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 13% ABV 175 ml glass of wine).

Women are advised to drink less because, in general, their bodies don’t process alcohol as efficiently as men’s.

Women start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men do. They tend to absorb more alcohol and take longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies. So, when drinking equal amounts, women will have higher alcohol levels in their blood than men, and the immediate effects happen quicker and last longer.

There are a few reasons for this

  • On average women weigh less than men.
  • Alcohol disperses in body water, and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men do.
  • So after a man and woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration will tend to be higher – this puts women at greater risk of harm.
  • As a result, a woman’s brain and other organs tend to be exposed to more alcohol, as well as to more of the potentially harmful by-products which result when the body breaks down and eliminates alcohol.

The Health Benefits of Sport and Physical Activity

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Although research interest on physical activity and health dates back to the 1950s, the breakthrough in the scientific evidence on health benefits of physical activity largely took place during the 1980s and 1990s. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence on the positive effects of sport and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. The positive, direct effects of engaging in regular physical activity are particularly apparent in the prevention of several chronic diseases, including: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis.

The Report from the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace states that young people can benefit from physical activity as it contributes to developing healthy bones, efficient heart and lung function as well as improved motor skills and cognitive function. Physical activity can help to prevent hip fractures among women and reduce the effects of osteoporosis. Remaining physically active can enhance functional capacity among older people, and can help to maintain quality of life and independence.

Physical activity and psychosocial health

The WHO has estimated that “one in four patients visiting a health service has at least one mental, neurological or behavioural disorder, but most of these disorders are neither diagnosed nor treated”. A number of studies have shown that exercise may play a therapeutic role in addressing a number of psychological disorders. Studies also show that exercise has a positive influence on depression. Physical self-worth and physical self-perception, including body image, has been linked to improved self-esteem. The evidence relating to health benefits of physical activity predominantly focuses on intra-personal factors such as physiological, cognitive and affective benefits, however, that does not exclude the social and inter-personal benefits of sport and physical activity which can also produce positive health effects in individuals and communities.

Sport and Physical Activity as part of a Healthy Lifestyle

A number of factors influence the way in which sport and physical activity impacts on health in different populations. Sport and physical activity in itself may not directly lead to benefits but, in combination with other factors, can promote healthy lifestyles. There is evidence to suggest that changes in the environment can have a significant impact on opportunities for participation and in addition, the conditions under which the activity is taking place can heavily impact on health outcomes. Elements that may be determinants on health include nutrition, intensity and type of physical activity, appropriate footwear and clothing, climate, injury, stress levels and sleep patterns.

Sport and physical activity can make a substantial contribution to the well-being of people in developing countries. Exercise, physical activity and sport have long been used in the treatment and rehabilitation of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Physical activity for individuals is a strong means for the prevention of diseases and for nations is a cost-effective method to improve public health across populations.

Why Pills Can’t Replace Fruits and Vegetables

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There is no way that taking a pill can replace eating fruits and vegetables,’ writes Prof Walter Willett Chairman, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health in Eat Drink and Be Healthy. ‘So far, no one has found a magic bullet that works against heart disease, cancer and a host of other chronic diseases as well as fruits and vegetables seem to do. In theory, one could cram all the good things that plants make—essential elements, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, plant hormones, and so on—into a pill. But it would have to be a very large pill, and no one can honestly say what should go into such a pill. Or in what proportions. The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables probably come from combinations of compounds that work together.

 

Take the antioxidant pigments known as carotenoids, for example. When you eat a tomato or carrot, the different carotenoids it contains eventually get into different types of cells and different parts of each cell. This offers antioxidant protection throughout the cell and to a wide variety of cell types. When eaten in the proportions usually found in foods, carotenoids and other phytochemicals probably work together and protect cells at different levels. But when delivered in unnatural proportions—say via a poorly designed supplement—an oversupply of one carotenoid or phytochemical could block the activity of others. This isn’t to say vitamin and mineral supplements are worthless … [they] are excellent insurance. But they aren’t a substitute for a healthy diet.

 

Health issues aside, the biggest drawback is that a pill would always taste like a pill. It can’t give you the earthy smell and taste of a fresh ear of corn, the sweetness of a juicy tomato still warm from the afternoon sun, the crunch of an apple, the festive green of a snap pea or broccoli floret, or the smooth nutty taste of an avocado. Stick with real fruits and vegetables—they taste better and contain a bounty of phytochemicals that don’t come in capsules.

5 Raw Superfoods You Should Know About

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Certain vibrant, nutritionally dense foods have become known as “superfoods,” and they have become a big part of today’s health food lingo. While there is no scientific guideline as to what defines a “superfood,” these foods are packed with:

  • antioxidants and other phytochemicals
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • fiber

These are all nutrients that are important for cell development and renewal, heart health, and muscle repair. Well-known superfood lists often include avocados, blueberries, and almonds. But what else is out there? Consider adding these super-nutritious, lesser-known foods to your diet for maximum health benefits!

1. Cacao

The dried seeds of the cacao tree are known as cacao beans, which can eventually be made into chocolate. While dark chocolate has been reported to have some health benefits, antioxidants are better preserved in raw cacao. In this case “raw” means that they have been gently dried at a low temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, cacao is higher in antioxidants than black tea, green tea, and red wine. Also called flavonoids, these antioxidant compounds can help decrease bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) oxidation. This in turn may prevent formation of plaque in your arteries.

The Antioxidants in Cacao
Cacao is higher in antioxidants than black tea, green tea, and red wine.

Get a dose of cacao by snacking on cacao nibs or adding a scoop of raw cacao powder to a smoothie that calls for chocolate. Cacao has a much more intense flavor than processed cocoa, so a little goes a long way!

2. Maca

This root is part of the radish family and is native to Peru. Maca is best known for its micronutrient power. It’s rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous — all of which are known to increase bone strength. It also contains potassium, sulfur, sodium, and iron, and is rich in antioxidants and vitamins B-1, B-2, B-12, C, and E.

The high B-vitamin content makes this superfood popular with athletes or for those who look for a natural pre-workout boost. According to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, maca has also been used to improve sexual health and boost sperm count in men.

In the United States, maca is most often sold in powder form. Add maca to your diet by adding a scoop of powder to a smoothie, sprinkled on hot or cold cereal, or stirred into your favorite juice.

3. Goji Berries

Also known as the wolfberry, the goji berry has long been used as a medicinal plant in China and the Himalayas. These sweet, tart berries contain vitamin A, iron, and antioxidants that protect cells against damage from free radicals.

They are also high in fiber. A small handful of these berries can help provide a feeling of fullness and stave off hunger. According to Food Research International, goji berries are also said to help lower blood pressure, manage blood sugar, and possibly alleviate inflammation from arthritis.

Get goji berries into your diet by simply snacking on them throughout the day, or sprinkle them on your oatmeal, yogurt, or salads. They will add a little zing along with all those nutrients!

4. Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is packed with energy, high levels of nutrients, and live enzymes that aid digestion of the grass when consumed. This allows nutrients to enter the bloodstream more quickly. It also contains all nine essential amino acids, 8 grams of protein in each ounce, and is loaded with chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals.

Chlorophyll in particular has been identified as a possible cancer fighter. When chlorophyll enters the bloodstream, it boosts hemoglobin and enriches the body’s cells with oxygen. According to Cancer Prevention Research, this cleans them out of potentially harmful substances like BPA and a variety of carcinogens that can enter the body through food, polluted air, or impure drinking water.

Try a wheatgrass shot the next time you’re at a juice/smoothie bar!

5. Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Sometimes known as pepitas, these delicious seeds contain:

  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • iron
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin B complex
  • zinc (a mineral essential for prostate health, wound healing, and skin health)

These green seeds are high in fat (14 grams per ounce) and relatively low in fiber (2 grams). But they also provide nearly 10 grams of protein and a healthy dose of additional minerals, including half or more of the recommended daily doses of copper, manganese, and phosphorous. According to the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, pumpkin seed oil has also been shown to relieve symptoms caused by an overactive bladder.

To get some of this goodness into your diet, you can eat raw pumpkin seeds by the handful, sprinkled on a salad, or added to your granola. Or you can use them to make pesto (substitute them for pine nuts), or find pumpkin seed butter to use in place of peanut butter.

The Takeaway

While there is no such thing as a “perfect” food, you can certainly boost your diet by including nutrition-rich foods such as these to your daily routine. Many of these foods are meant to be consumed in small amounts, so you don’t need much to get a good dose of valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!

How You Get High: What Marijuana Does to Your Brain

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You know the scene: It’s a Friday night, everyone’s hanging out, and someone pulls out a joint. Choosing to smoke two joints (or even just take a puff of one) is illegal in most states, but we’re not going to get into the medical marijuana debate here. We’re not even going to chat about if smoking marijuana is bad for you (hint: the results are mixed). Rather, we’re interested in how Mary Jane affects the brain. Read on for the lowdown on THC, cannabidiol, anandamide, and other hard-to-pronounce chemicals found in Jay and Silent Bob’s favorite plant.

How the Herb Works

Each little bud and leaf of the marijuana plant is composed of hundreds of chemicals, but scientists have mainly studied just two main compounds: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound, but it does contribute to making the smoker feel calm and relaxed. In fact, cannabidiol has so many rock-star qualities that scientists are trying to figure out how to turn it into a drug. Cannabidiol contains analgesic (aka pain-relieving), anti-inflammatory, and antipsychotic properties that have the potential to treat patients with schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, and even cancer.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (try saying that 10 times fast!), a member of the cannabinoid chemical family, is specifically responsible for the psychological and physical side effects that occur as a result of lighting up. Smoking reefer can produce feelings of euphoria, relaxed inhibitions, fragmentary thoughts, lack of concentration, impaired memory, drowsiness, and even sudden panic or paranoia. Bud affects the bod, too: Marijuana smokers may experience physical effects like increased heart rate, red eyes, dry mouth, and increased appetite.

What Happens in the Short Term?

THC gets movin’ quickly. Within seconds, the drug hits the brain and goes to town on the brain’s cells, called neurons. To understand how this works, let’s pause for a brief biology lesson. Neurons are long, dangly cells that don’t actually touch one another. The gap between brain cells is called a synapse, and the brain uses chemicals calledneurotransmitters to pass messages across these gaps — think of these chemicals as an operator on a phone call. You’ve probably heard of a few neurotransmitters, like serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. While most neurotransmitters are made in the glands, some man-made drugs (both legal and illegal) can mimic the same effects as natural neurotransmitters.Natural or not so much, a neurotransmitter binds to a neuron, which signals the body to do (or not do) something. When a neurotransmitter fits into the correct receptor—like a key in a lock—it chemically turns that neuron off or on.

This is where our friend THC comes in. The active chemical in marijuana mimics a natural neurotransmitter called anandamide. Anandamide is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” because of its role in boosting memory and learning, dulling pain, and stimulating the appetite . Anandamide normally buddies up with dopamine, and together these neurotransmitters turn on and turn off different chemical pathways as needed.

THC may mimic anandamide, but they don’t produce the exact same effects. After a person takes a hit of Mary Jane, THC binds to cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are located in several parts of the brain (namely, the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia) . These brain areas are responsible for short-term memory, coordination, learning, problem solving, and unconscious muscle movements. When THC gets its groove on in the cannabinoid receptors, it gets in the way of natural neurotransmitters (like anandamide) that need to bind to those sites to make all of the functions listed above work properly.

When THC prevents anadamide from doing its job, the delicate balance between anadamide and dopamine is thrown off. The result: We’re suddenly euphoric, off-balance, ravenous, seemingly impervious to pain, and unable to retain information. Think about the classic stoner clichés for a minute…yep, all the signs and symptoms are there.

What Happens in the Long Term?

How long THC affects the brain and stays in the body depends on many factors, including the potency of the marijuana, the smoker’s experience with the drug, how the drug is ingested (via joint, bowl, bong, vaporizer, etc), and if it’s used in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol . Immediate effects of THC kick in after a few seconds and last for an hour or two, but the chemicals can stay in the body for much longer. THC is fat-soluble, so even though it doesn’t continue to affect the brain, it can hang out in body tissues for several weeks or, in the case of habitual smokers, even months .

So are those wild ‘n’ crazy nights going to ruin your brain forever? Some studies have shown that frequent adolescent marijuana use—especially when use begins at a younger age—can reduce IQ by middle age. Further research argues that smoking like a chimney causes overuse of the CB1 receptors, which can lead to a sloth-like brain. But more recently, a boatload of researchers have proven that puffing the magic dragon won’t actually zap your brain cells in the long-term. .

But Then I Got High: The Takeaway

If you stuck through the chemistry lessons until this part, you’re probably expecting a thumbs-up or thumbs-down judgment. But, as with many biological processes, the overall effect of marijuana on brain chemistry isn’t crystal clear. For the most part, current research is disproving earlier studies that claimed that marijuana damaged the body long-term, but so far nothing’s really set in stone. Feel free to take this information on the brain’s reaction to marijuana and smoke it (or not).

See What Really Happens to Your Body When You Skip a Meal

Anyone who’s ever gone more than seven hours between meals is undoubtably familiar with hunger pangs—that feeling that your stomach is somehow digesting itself and this is it, last stop, the end of the line for you. Luckily our friends at AsapSCIENCE are here to explain what really happens to our bodies when we skip a meal. And because we’re all for being better informed, we’re happy to hear them out. Besides, who doesn’t want to know the scientific definition of “hangry”?