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marți, 28 iunie 2011

3 Surprising Ways to Break Through Your Weight-Loss Plateau


Keep dropping pounds even after you think you’ve hit a wall in your weight-loss plan.
 

Too often people experience a plateau in their weight-loss plan: they hit a wall and stop dropping pounds. This frustrating bump in the road often occurs after the first month into your weight-reduction program. Your body starts to become “lazy,” having adjusted to the new reality of fewer calories and more exercise. However, there are effective changes you can make to solve this problem.


1. Start Every Day With a Sundae

This is not an ice cream sundae – it’s a metabolism-boosting breakfast sundae that’s just as delicious.This treat contains Greek yogurt, banana, strawberries, unsweetened coconut, ground flaxseed and last but not least, Dr. Oz’s secret ingredient: matcha green tea powder. Eat this sundae and you’ll be starting your day off with lean protein and good fats, plus the metabolism-boosting properties of matcha green tea, which is prized in both Japan and South America for its health-benefits.

Like other types of green tea, matcha not only speeds up your metabolism, but is chockfull of antioxidants and other powerful superfood properties such as aiding stress reduction, lowering cholesterol, boosting brain health and fighting cancer. Matcha is available in a concentrated powder and can be found at health food stores.

2. Zigzag Your Calories

You may be staying on track with your weight-loss plan, but by consuming the same amount of calories every day, your body weight can actually come to a standstill. For example, your body simply adapts to 1,200 calories and stops slimming down.


To keep your body working hard at shedding those pounds, vary your caloric intake. Consume 1,200 calories one day; then reduce to 1,000 calories the next day; and 1,100 the following day. Keep this pattern going, and your body will have to exert more energy to make adjustments, which can trigger bigger weight loss.


3. Eat Your Water

A recent study showed that women who ate water-rich foods lost 33% more weight in the first 6 months than women on a low-fat diet. Choose both water-rich and nutrient-rich foods. Fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe, and vegetables like celery and green lettuce contain lots of water and vitamins. Soups made with low-sodium broths are a good choice, too. By eating your water you can actually eat more food and cut down on calories at the same time.

 

5 Surprising Ways to Live Longer in Under a Minute





5 things you can do in less than one minute to lengthen your lifespan and enhance overall wellness.


You can’t live forever. However, there are things you can do to live longer and in better health. Increasing longevity is much easier than you think. Here’s the really good part: all of these health habits can be accomplished in less than one minute.


1. Eat Eggs

Eggs are a powerful source of protein and cost just pennies. Many people have been led to believe that eating eggs increases blood cholesterol, but that’s simply not true.
Eggs contain choline, a B vitamin shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, which may lesson the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating two eggs comprises 26% of your daily protein intake, yet contains less than 10% of your recommended calories for the day. Thus eggs can help you shed pounds.
These protein powerhouses protect your bones and fight frailty.
Antioxidants and other nutrients in egg yokes help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness; they also protect the retina from UV sun damage.

Under-a-Minute Tip: Boil a half-dozen eggs in the beginning of the week. Eat one a day and you’re on the road to making a dramatic difference in your health.

2. Take Chromium Polynicotinate
 

By 2050, experts predict that 1 in 3 Americans will be diabetic. To help prevent this chronic condition, chromium polynicotinate has proven to be a potentially life-saving supplement.Studies show that this trace mineral helps regulate insulin production, reducing blood sugar levels and preventing damaging effects.

Under-a-Minute Tip: Take 200 micrograms of chromium polynicotinate a day.


3. Check Your Heart Rate Daily

By checking your heart rate every day, you can protect yourself against having a heart attack or stroke. It’s simple: Place your index and middle fingers on your wrist bone, directly under your thumb. Press gently to feel your pulse. Count the beats for 10 seconds. Then multiply by 6 to get your resting heart rate. For example, if you get 6 beats in 10 seconds and multiply by 6, that’s 36 beats per minute.


The average resting heart rate for adults is between 60-80 beats per minute. If you’re a woman and your resting heart rate is above 90, you are at a 3 times greater risk of dying of heart disease.


A new study shows that if your heart rate keeps going up more than 10 beats a month, your risk for heart disease increases by 16%.


Under-a-Minute Tip: Take your resting heart rate before you get out of bed every morning. If it is high or keeps going up every month, see your doctor.


4. Add Beets to Your Diet
 

You know to eat your greens, but you have to eat your reds, too. Beets offer much more than just their lovely hue. They help dilate blood vessels, which improves blood flow throughout the body. They’re also packed with iron, which helps deliver oxygen throughout the body and wards off anemia.


Under-a-Minute Tip: You can drink your beets daily in a nutrient-packed beverage that also contains carrots, parsley and apples. It’s easy and inexpensive to make.

5. De-stress With Self-Massage

Stress can damage every part of your body and lead to chronic disease. Many people, especially women, hold stress and tension in their head and in their face. Here’s a massage you can actually perform on yourself to fight stress:
Position both hands as if you were giving 2 thumbs-up. Reposition your thumbs-up horizontally and place your thumbs, on the sides of the bridge of your nose, beneath your brow bone. Press firmly for 8-10 seconds, and breathe.
Then place your thumbs and index fingers slightly above and on the opposite ends of your eyebrows. Gently squeeze for 8-10 seconds and breathe.

Under-a-Minute Tip: Practice the above self-massage technique throughout the day, such as when you’ve been sitting for a long time at the computer.

Holiday Heart Attack


It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And yet, 8 years ago this month, I suffered a heart attack. At age 43. And supposedly in the best health I’d ever been. I was very lucky. I'm doing fine, there was no permanent heart muscle damage, and I'm actually healthier than ever and feel great. But free of the commonly known risk factors, I find myself a member of a peculiar new sisterhood I'd never imagined I'd ever join.


Men Have Heart Attacks, Not Women, Right?


True, men are far more likely to have a heart attack, at least until a woman goes through menopause. Women between the ages of 25 and 55 are not free of heart disease concerns, however. We actually fall into what the American Heart Association calls their "silent epidemic." Not commonly known is that this group, supposedly free of heart disease concerns, is experiencing an ever-increasing rate of heart attack. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America. But even before going through our "change of life," heart disease kills twice the number of women than breast cancer.


One immediately envisions a heart attack patient as falling into the following stereotype. You know the one I mean. Someone with a big belly (this significantly increases one's risk), has liquid rivers of fat coursing through their veins, suffers from high blood pressure, is the poster child for a couch potato, is a chain smoker, and possibly even a diabetic.


Yet, here I am. I'm young (certainly I think of my early 40s as youthful), not overweight, never been a smoker, have no issues with cholesterol or triglycerides (in fact one doctor once told me I should try to consume some fat in my diet to help balance my nonexistent blood fat levels), no history of diabetes, have incredibly low blood pressure, and am somewhat active (there's certainly always room for improvement).


So what's wrong with this picture? The plot thickens. A host of less likely risk factors can take an apparently healthy woman and place her smack dab in the middle of cardiac rehab. The factors going against me:


Stress

You could take lessons from me on how to be the consummate type "A" personality. I'm the queen of keeping a million projects afloat at any given moment. Stress reduction classes and learning to say "no" loom in my future.


Menopause

I'm surgically post menopausal, but I thought HRT was my wild card to help prevent the risk of heart disease in addition to reducing bone loss, early menopausal skin changes, and of course, keep hot flashes and the like at bay. Wrong.


Genetics

My mother had her first heart attack at the age of 57. Family heart attacks below the age of 55 are considered a risk factor but she'd been a lifelong smoker, is fairly sedentary and a touch plump. So I hadn't really taken this "to heart" as a serious health risk. Since then, my brother and father have gone on to have heart disease. Family history established, but a tad too late for me.


Past Medical History of Stroke

In my history I have a slight 24-hour version of a stroke called a TIA (transient ischemic attack) while I was pregnant due to a blood clotting disorder known as anticardiolipin antibody syndrome. As it turns out, the doctors this time around discovered a new genetic clotting disorder in addition to the original concern, which increases one's risk for forming blood clots up to 11 times than normal. It's called the Factor II, prothrombin G20210A mutation and believe it or not, it affects as much as 2% of the general U.S. population. And it is autosomal dominant which means you get it from a parent and potentially pass it onto your children. But most doctors have never heard of it. I hadn't, my doctor husband hadn't, and none of our doctor friends had ever heard of it either!


If you have a past history of multiple miscarriages, get screened for both of these clotting diseases in addition to Factor V Leiden. It turns out that pregnancy is not the only time to be concerned about these conditions. Fortunately, they are easily controlled with a variety of blood thinners.


A "Heartwarming" Experience

My heart attack occurred at the end of December. My family was readying for a holiday trip the following day. That morning I’d run over to the grocery to pick up a few last minute items. Suddenly, an overwhelming tube of burning sensation was radiating directly from my back forward into my mid-chest.


I knew women often experience "atypical pain" like jaw pain or nausea with a heart attack, but burning? I kept thinking all the NDSAIDs I'd popped the previous week for a cold were causing the discomfort. I continued shopping, clutching my chest, thinking this must be one awful case of heartburn ( an ulcer perhaps?). By the time I reach the dairy aisle, I was contemplating slurping some sour cream to cool things off. The pain probably only lasted a matter of minutes and once gone I continued onward with my errands. After all, women aren’t supposed to let a little pain get us down, right?


It wasn't until I developed left arm pain that I began to wonder if things weren't going quite as well as I'd thought. I got into the car, and thought, "Do I go to the hospital where they will surely admit me, I'll miss the trip, the hotel is non-refundable, I'll be fine, and my husband will be REALLY mad at me, or do I go home?" You guessed it, I drove home. By the time I reached my street however, the classic signs of a heart attack, crushing pain and shortness of breath, began.


Long story made shorter: I did make it to the hospital. I had a 100% block of one very small coronary artery. I had an angioplasty and a stent was placed. Things could have been worse. We were supposed to leave the next morning for a holiday vacation. I could have experienced this episode on the airplane or waited even longer to get myself to the hospital.


Immediately following my release from the hospital, I began cardiac rehab, which is essentially cross-training hooked up to an EKG machine. Other than the fact that everyone there seemed to be past patients of mine and that the 80 year old man on oxygen went faster on the treadmill than I did, things went pretty well! It took a good 9 months to get back to my original hectic lifestyle; I still appreciate the second chance I've been given.


Obviously I'm back at work. In fact, I'm literally living proof that you can not only survive, but thrive with heart disease. So what did I do wrong?


I should have gone to the hospital. Immediately. I should never have let the holidays, a vacation or anything else stand in my way. Remember your best chance for a full recovery is getting into a hospital cath lab for evaluation within 2 hours of the onset of the first symptoms. If you think you're having a heart attack, don't try to rationalize it away, like I tried to do. Take an aspirin if you have one (this helps prevent further blood clotting) and get yourself to a hospital or dial 9-1-1.


Heart disease is the number one killer of women. But it doesn't have to be. By learning more about heart disease, women can make a difference.

 

Your Heart’s Lucky 7 Numbers

When it comes to heart disease in America, the odds are scary. One in every 4 women will die from this condition. Don’t leave your heart health up to chance. Learn the indicators of heart disease and what you can do to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Like all the intricate machinery in your body, your heart needs the right maintenance if it’s going to continue to perform optimally. Learn the lucky numbers that lie at the heart of cardiac health.


Lucky Number #1: A Resting Heart Rate Below 90



You can determine your resting heart rate by counting the number of beats of your pulse per one minute. This number is a barometer of what’s going on in the body. A slower resting heart rate means that your heart is more powerful and efficient. Conversely, a higher heart rate indicates that your heart has to work harder to get the same things done. Studies have shown that women with a resting heart rate over 90 have triple the risk of dying from a heart attack as women with a resting heart rate under 60.


Luckily, there are things you can do to stabilize your resting heart rate. One of the main reasons your heart rate speeds up is to fight inflammation. Instead of letting your heart do all the work, add omega-3s to your diet. In addition to helping lower cholesterol, these supplements provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation can also be emotional. In these situations, reduce your stress

Your heart rate is also an indicator of your stamina level. You must exercise the muscle of the heart to keep it strong. During cardio workouts, you should aim to hit 80% of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, the target heart rate for a 30-year-old would be 190(.8) = 152. Reaching this heart rate for 20 minutes, 3 times a week will work to strengthen your heart.


Lucky Number #2: 1.5 Grams of Sodium Allowed Daily
 

You should consume less than 1 teaspoon of salt a day, especially if you are over 50. On average, Americans consume more than double this amount. Sodium is harmful to your heart, kidneys and blood vessels. Additionally, it raises your blood pressure which makes your heart work faster and can lead to heart disease.

Most people don’t realize how much sodium is in their food


Lucky Number #3: A Maximum of 100 Calories of Added Sugar Each Day

 
High intake of added sugar leads to obesity and puts you on track for heart disease and stroke. Even if you are not concerned about your weight, eating sugar directly impacts cholesterol and increases your blood pressure. This causes rigidity in the aorta and puts extra strain on your heart.


Sugar is another case where you may not realize how much you are actually eating. It can be disguised in the ingredients, so keep a vigilant eye for items like evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup and brown rice syrup. Make sure to read the nutrition label to find the amount of added sugars.
 

Lucky Number #4: 25 Grams of Fiber Each Day

 
 Study after study is showing that the more fiber you get in your diet, the more you are protected from heart attacks. Fiber acts like a magnet in your intestines; it pulls the cholesterol through your digestive system, eliminating waste before it can be absorbed in your bloodstream. Fiber allows you to deposit cholesterol in the toilet, instead of in your arteries.

To get fiber into your diet, eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and buy 100% whole grain bread and pasta.



Lucky Number #5: 1 Alcoholic Drink Per Day

 
Alcohol in moderation can provide great benefits for your heart. Red wine is made with dark grapes, which have polyphenol antioxidants in their skins that help protect the lining of the heart’s blood vessels. Beer has high levels of vitamin B6, which can help prevent the build-up of a harmful chemical, homocysteine, that can cause heart disease

Lucky Number #6: 0 Trans Fats Each Day
 
Trans fats are found in commercial baked goods like cakes, cookies and crackers, along with fried foods like doughnuts and French fries. They are included because their chemical structure makes them stable for long periods of time at room temperature. Originally, they were designed for candle wax.

Trans fats wreak havoc on your body. They decrease your “good” HDL cholesterol while increasing your “bad” LDL cholesterol. They also cause plaque buildup in your arteries, damage arterial cells, and generally increase inflammation.


The scariest part is that you may be eating trans fats and not even know it. In the US, food companies are not required to list trans fats in products if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving. Look out for common culprits like margarine, shortenings, microwave popcorn, peanut butter and coffee creamer.


Lucky Number #7: The Maximum Number You Should Have on a Hemoglobin A1C Test is 6
 
The hemoglobin A1C Test measures your blood sugar levels from the past 2-3 months. Hemoglobin is a protein found in your red blood cells. These red blood cells live in your body for 3 months at a time. The Hemoglobin A1C Test measures how much sugar has gotten stuck to the protein in your blood in the past 2-3 months, which makes it a better indicator than testing your blood sugar, which measures only the sugar in what you ate that day.

If your Hemoglobin A10 results are 6% or higher, you may have insulin resistance – a condition where your body cannot correctly use the insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas, to convert glucose to energy. Insulin resistance is considered a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Although there are no discernable symptoms of insulin resistance, it is associated with fat accumulation around your belly, referred to as the omentum. Historically, the omentum stored calories so that, in times of famine, the liver has easy access to the calories. When you have a large, fatty omentum, it leaks chemicals into your liver, which can be very dangerous for your heart.




Lower your blood sugar levels by adding lemon juice to what you’re eating. The juice will make it easier for your body to process the sugars in your foods. You can also try adding half a teaspoon a day of cinnamon to your meals. It increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Additionally, a daily 200 mcg chromium supplement has been shown to decrease insulin resistance.

Detecting and Treating Depression


Are you concerned that you or someone you love could be depressed? We all experience the blues or down moods once in a while; but when these feelings persist and compromise our daily functioning, it can be a sign of depression. Depression is a common disorder that can take a major toll on a person and his or her family. The good news is that help and treatment are out there; although many depressed people never seek them out. It's imperative to look for the critical signs or symptoms that could mean you or your loved ones are at risk.


Two major signs of depression are: (1) Loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed and (2) Overwhelming hopelessness or pessimism.


Other major signs and symptoms include:
Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
Decreased energy and sluggishness
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Irritability
Decreased energy
Difficulty concentrating
Insomnia - especially early morning awakening, or excessive sleeping
Overeating, or appetite loss
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Constant pains, headaches or stomach problems that do not respond to treatment

Every individual may express different signs and symptoms with different frequency or severity - but if 5 or more of these symptoms apply to you or someone you know - it could mean depression.


Depression in Women
 
Depression is also much more common in women - it affects about twice as many women as men and it's the number one cause of disability in women. One in four women will experience severe depression over the course of her life. Research suggests that hormones could play a big role directly affecting brain functions for emotions and mood. This helps explain why women may be particularly vulnerable during hormonal transition periods such as perimenopause and the post-partum period.


What Causes Depression?
 
There is no single cause of depression and in most cases this disorder stems from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. A person does not have to experience a traumatic or sad event in order to become depressed. What we do know is that the brains of people who are depressed tend to look different from the brains of people who are not depressed. Depressed people tend to show changes in the parts of the brain that regulate mood, behavior, sleep and appetite functions. Furthermore, depressed people tend to have an imbalance in neurotransmitters - the chemical messengers of your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulated mood and other body functions. Diminished serotonin levels may contribute to depression. Many anti-depression medications are targeted and serotonin to prevent its clearance or breakdown.


How Is Depression Treated?


Even severe depression is highly treatable - so the first step is to seek help from a medical professional. Your doctor may want to do some blood tests to rule out other conditions such as thyroid disorder, which can trigger depression. Certain medications can also exacerbate the problem.


For most people a combination of anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy is the most effective treatment. There are several different classes of medication and different types of talk therapy - so you should speak with your doctor about finding a treatment that works best for you. Many of these medications have side-effects - so it's important to have that conversation with your doctor.


There are also simple tips that can help everyone fend off blue moods and prevent depressive symptoms. Ensuring adequate sleep, getting enough exercise, reaching out to social supports, exposure to sunlight, and taking in Omega-3 fatty acids are all great first-line strategies to fight depression.


Visit these resources for diagnosing and treating depression:

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/
http://www.nami.org
http://www.dbsalliance.org
http://www.psych.org

5 Tips for a Happier Life



Is the key to happiness within? While external factors like where we live and work may influence how happy we are, there are simple steps we can all take to be happier and healthier in our everyday lives - no matter where we live.


Take Your Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D increases serotonin, the mood neurotransmitter. It boosts your immunity, promotes healthy neuro-muscular functions and helps protect you from some forms of cancer. The easiest way reap the benefits of this nutrient is to spend 15 minutes in the sun a few times a week. Be mindful that sunscreen will prevent you from getting adequate vitamin D outdoors; try skipping sunscreen for just 15 minutes.

If the weather isn't cooperating, get your vitamin D from milk, egg yolks or supplements (1000 units per day.)


Cut the Caffeine

Coffee increases anxiety levels, especially if you're getting more than 300 mgs a day. Increased anxiety means increased irritability. Try substituting your coffee with green tea. It has 1/4 the amount of caffeine found in coffee - and it's a young tea, which means it packs some powerful antioxidants.

You don't have to cut caffeine completely, but if you're having more than 300 mgs a day and find yourself fighting headaches and fatigue when you try to cut back, you may be physically dependent


Express Gratitude
 

Take the time to truly savor the good things in your life; things others have done for you, things you've done for others and all those small acts of kindness that make you smile. A written expression of thanks helps prohibit us from taking things for granted. So sit down with a steaming mug of green tea and express yourself.


Practice Acts of Kindness

It's the little things.

It's not what you say, it's what you do.

These expressions may be cliches, but there is truth in their message. By practicing small acts of kindness, you will perceive yourself and others more positively. You'll also appreciate your good fortune in comparison.


Pick 1 day a week and carry out 3 small acts of kindness. Research suggests that this provides a longer-lasting boost to the giver than practicing random acts of kindness spread out over the week.


Just Smile

Even when you don't feel like it, the simple act of smiling makes you feel better. A response called facial feedback indicates that, when you smile, you send a signal to your brain that says, "I am happy." Additionally, if you're smiling, you're likely to seem more approachable and happy to others - and people are more likely to smile back

Get Happier in 28 Days




The consequences of unhappy, negative emotions can invade your professional and personal relationships, and erode your self-esteem. Learn to neutralize negativity by focusing on what makes you happy.


Week 1: Keep a Daily Diary
 

Can you easily identify the daily activities, interactions and occurrences that make you happiest? Keeping a daily diary will help you identify the situations and people that make you happiest. Take note of these occurrences, which can be as small as listening to music while working, talking to a good friend, or spending time with your family - and slowly begin to increase the frequency of those tasks which make you happiest.


This step is about self-awareness and thinking critically about your daily reactions and emotions. Only by understanding why we feel the way we do can we expect to make lasting meaningful change.


Week 2: Fake It Till You Make It
 

This week, you are going to put a smile on your face even if you're feeling blue, grumpy or burdened. A response called facial feedback indicates that when you smile, you send a signal to your brain that says, "I am happy." Additionally, if you're smiling, you're likely to seem more approachable and happy to others - and people are more likely to smile back. We experience positive emotions more frequently than negative ones, but negative emotions are unfortunately stronger.


It's important to remember that you aren't attempting to eliminate all your negative emotions - such a task would overwhelm anyone. Instead, try to increase the instances of positive emotions (remember your daily dairy!).



Week 3: Create a Diversion




When you find yourself drowning in a sea of negative thoughts - "I'm overweight," "I'm unlikeable," "Why am I even at this party?" - you need to find a strategy to stop ruminating. This applies to social situations and when you are spending time alone. It may seem like an overwhelming task to divert your attention from issues swirling in your own mind - but all you need are 1 or 2 escape mechanisms.



If alone, put on your favorite song and sing along or go for a long walk. When in a social setting, try to concentrate on what others are saying in the conversation rather than what's going on in your own mind.


Week 4: Random Acts of Kindness



During the fourth week of your happiness action plan, you are going to commit 1 random act of kindness a day. By feeding a stranger's parking meter, sending someone a thank you note, or paying someone a compliment, you give yourself a burst of positive emotion. By practicing small acts of kindness, you will perceive yourself and others more positively. You'll also appreciate your good fortune in comparison. Give yourself a self-worth, self-esteem boost by helping others.

Teen Pregnancy: What Parents Need to Know!!!!




By Amy R. Kramer
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy


Teen pregnancy is a serious problem in the United States. Three out of 10 girls in the U.S. get pregnant before their 20th birthdays, and 1 out of every 10 babies born in the U.S. is born to a teen mother. This isn’t good for teens, it isn’t good for taxpayers, and it certainly isn’t good for babies.


Children of teen mothers are often born into situations that are less than ideal. Babies born to teens are more likely to grow up in poverty and apart from their fathers. They are more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate from high school. They are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight. They are twice as likely to suffer abuse and neglect. They are also more likely to become teen parents themselves someday.


Teen childbearing costs U.S. taxpayers (federal, state, and local) more than $9 billion every year. Most of the costs are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers – including increased costs for health care, foster care, and incarceration.


Teen moms face a lot of challenges too. Parenthood is a primary reason girls cite for dropping out of high school. Less than half of girls who have a baby before age 18 graduate from high school and fewer than 2% earn a college degree by age 30. Eight out of 10 fathers don’t marry the teen mother of their babies and most couples don’t stay together at all. More than half of all teen mothers will be on welfare within 5 years of giving birth. Teen mothers are likely to have a second birth relatively soon – about one-fourth of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of the first – which can further impede their ability to finish school, keep a job, or escape poverty.


There is some good news though – teen pregnancy and birth rates in the U.S. have declined dramatically in the past two decades. Rates today are at the lowest levels since the government started keeping track seven decades ago. Why such a big decline? Fewer teens are sexually active today than before and more are using contraception.


Five Things Parents Need to Know:


1. How Do YOU Feel?



How do you feel about relationships, sex, contraception, dating, co-ed sleepovers, etc. It’s a good idea to talk about this with yourself and get comfortable with what you believe, so that when the topics do come up with your kids, you know where you stand. For example, how do you feel if your daughter asks you for help getting on the pill? What about if your son wants to date a girl who is much older than he is?


2. Understand That You Really Matter.



Parents often underestimate their own power over their teens’ decisions. Parents are actually more influential than any other factor – more so than peers, partners or pop culture. In a recent nationwide survey, teens were asked, “When it comes to your decisions about sex, who is most influential?” Nearly half (46%) said parents, 20% said friends, 7% said religious leaders, 5% said siblings, and 4% said media. Embrace this and take advantage of it. Make sure your kids understand what you think and how you feel. They are paying attention, even when they don’t act like. It’s also important to listen to what they think and feel.


3. It’s More Than Just The Talk.



Don’t think of this as only one talk. It’s an 18-year conversation. It starts when kids are young, when you talk about body parts and feelings and it continues, in an age-appropriate manner, until adulthood. That’s good news! When you spend a lifetime having this conversation you can ease into it, you can go back and talk again if you feel like you messed up or left something out. An ongoing discussion over many years will also underscore the importance of these topics. Everyone in the world is talking to your kids about sex constantly – the music they listen to, the movies they watch, their friends, etc. – you need to be part of that lifelong conversation, too. Also keep in mind that when your teens ask you about your own past (when did you have sex for the first time, what did you do as a teen) it is okay to say, “This conversation isn’t about me. We can talk about me another time, but right now, we are talking about you.” Also, it’s important to stress that the risks and costs of having sex nowadays are far greater than when you were a teen, and that you want them to avoid some of the mistakes you made along the way.
 

4. Curiosity About Sex Is a Normal Part of Growing Up.

Kids are full of hormones and urges and curiosity. Just because they have questions about sex doesn’t mean they’re doing it. Too often parents overreact when their kids have questions about these topics – doing so only makes it more awkward for everyone. Remember that curiosity is normal; you want them to feel comfortable coming to you with questions.


5. It Isn’t Just Girls.



Teen girls don’t get pregnant by themselves. If we are concerned about too-early pregnancy and parenthood, we have to talk to our sons as well as our daughters. Too often the message to girls is “Just say no,” and the message to guys is “Be careful.” It takes two people to get pregnant – and only one to prevent it. Talk to your sons as well as your daughters about the risks and consequences of having sex.


And when you do talk to your kids – which you should do regularly – here is an important thing to include:

Contraception is essential! We all want young people to delay having sex for as long as possible, and it’s important to talk to them about waiting and make sure they know that not everyone is doing it (about half of high school students have had sex, which means about half have not and some are lying). If they are going to have sex, they need to use protection every single time. No exceptions. Make sure your kids know that.

Talking to your kids about waiting and also telling them that contraception is important are complimentary messages – NOT contradictory ones. It’s like when you tell them that you don’t want them drinking, or drinking and driving, or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking – but if that situation arises, they are to call you for a ride. It’s the same with sex. You don’t want them having sex, but you also need to say that if they are going to have sex, they must use protection, and if they need you to help them get it, you will.


One of the primary reasons teens don’t use birth control is because they don’t want their parents to find out. Tell them that contraception is a must. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is far worse than talking to them about protection.
 

Ultimate Orgasm Libido Boosters

There are common challenges that get in the way of a satisfying sex life. And you’re not alone if you feel your sex drive isn’t what it used to be. To change that, I prescribe the all-natural foods and supplements guaranteed to spice up your love life, turn up the heat in the bedroom, and increase the fun for all.


Orgasms are anything but simple. They require a complex dance of physical stimulation and reaction. When every link in the chain does its job, you experience a satisfying torrent of sensation. But, as our bodies age, the chances that one of those steps will be skipped increases, making an already elusive goal of achieving orgasm that much harder. And that’s if you even get that far – battling a diminished libido is often an additional, if not primary, challenge.

And there’s nothing to be ashamed about: 40% of women will experience a decline in libido. Well before women hit menopause, their bodies begin to make changes that affect hormone levels. The ovaries, which are the source of 50% of our testosterone, become less active, decreasing the production of the sex hormone that is key to our libido. As estrogen decreases, so does testosterone. It’s this decline in testosterone that’s really responsible for a reduced sex drive.

However, there is some good news. The path to greater sexual satisfaction could begin with what you eat, resulting in the right balance of hormones and conditions that’ll get you closer to your goal of sexual satisfaction and improved intimacy.

All-Natural Libido Boosters

Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, the ultimate sex mineral. Studies show that women with a greater sex drive have higher levels of testosterone. To increase your testosterone, add zinc to your diet. Zinc blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. A quarter-cup serving of pumpkin seeds may do the trick.


For increased arousal, try watermelon. The compounds present in watermelon may have a “Viagra-like” effect, relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow. Proper blood flow allows the tissues to become engorged, aroused and lubricated.

L-arginine, an amino acid available in supplement form, may dilate clitoral blood vessels, increasing flow to erogenous zones and helping to improve arousal.

To beat the blues and hold on to a good mood, which is essential to wanting to make love in the first place, try rhodiola, a plant-derived supplement. Rhodiola may help block the breakdown of the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. Increasing dopamine can boost female sexual pleasure. Diluting 20-30 drops in a glass of water is the recommended dosage for both men and women.

As cliché as it sounds, there’s a reason chocolate-covered strawberries are one of Cupid’s favorite weapons. Dark chocolate (make sure it’s 70% cocoa) helps to increase dopamine levels, the brain’s “pleasure chemical”; the bioflavonoids in dark chocolate also open up blood vessels and improve blood flow. The sugar in the strawberries gives you a little boost of energy. Combined, you may find yourself feeling a little more inspired than usual.

To increase sex drive, add some fish to your diet. Halibut can raise testosterone levels because it’s high in magnesium. Magnesium makes it more difficult for testosterone to latch onto proteins in the body. As a result, testosterone is distributed in the blood, helping to kick up your sex drive.

Asparagus is considered one of the best libido-boosting foods since it’s rich in folate. A naturally occurring form of folic acid, folate regulates the production of histamine – the chemical that is released during an orgasm.


Garlic contains allicin, a compound that thins the blood. Because of this, it improves the blood circulation necessary for an erection by relaxing the arteries. Having strong circulation also allows for greater physical endurance in the bedroom.

In addition to containing potassium and B vitamins that elevate energy levels, bananas contain the natural anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, which aids in triggering greater production of testosterone.

To heighten sexual attraction, add celery to your salad. It contains androsterone, a pheromone precursor. Pheromones are odorless chemical signals released through sweat glands; once “smelled,” pheromones can subconsciously affect the behavior of the receiving mate. 

Walnuts, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, are known to boost dopamine and arginine levels in the brain, which increases the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the essential chemical compound for erections; it dilates the blood vessels, allowing blood to travel freely.


The antioxidant superfood, beets are also nitrate-rich. These nitrates improve blood flow throughout the body.

Another pleasure-boosting food is peanut butter. Rich in monounsaturated fats, this nutty spread can heighten female sexual arousal. Pair your peanut butter with some dark chocolate. The cocoa contains bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that unclog blood vessels for better flow. These plant compounds can also help prevent a decline in estrogen, which plays a role in decreased libido. The cocoa also increases the presence of dopamine, one of the brain’s feel-good chemicals.

Beef is high in the ultimate sex mineral: zinc. Zinc blocks the enzyme aromatase from converting testosterone to estrogen. A deficiency of zinc can result in a low sperm count and a weak sex drive.

For tea drinkers, ginseng tea contains the compound ginsenoside; this compounds impacts the gonadal tissue responsible for sperm production. It increases sperm count while heightening sexual satisfaction and can also work to prevent or reduce erectile dysfunction.

Add some spice to your sex life by sprinkling some nutmeg in your coffee or cereal. This spice can imitate the effects of serotonin – its scent allows for relaxation and its taste can elevate mood. Lack of sleep can also be a culprit responsible for low sex drive. Nutmeg can help your sleep cycle as well, as it is rich in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.

Ginger, a powerful and multipurpose herb, dilates your blood vessels. Without the free passage of blood cells to the sex organs, sexual sensation decreases.

When taken in small doses (no more than 25 milligrams), DHEA, a hormone produced naturally in the body, can readjust and stabilize hormone levels, and treat erectile dysfunction. It is recommended that DHEA be administered while under the supervision of a physician or licensed health professional.

miercuri, 15 iunie 2011

Lemon Chicken with Asparagus




Ingredients


Serves 4

4 (4-oz each) skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (You can also use 4 (4-oz) skinless fish fillets instead of chicken in this recipe.)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, stem removed, seeded, and diced

1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1-in pieces

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or water

2 cups cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous


Directions

Rinse the chicken under cold water. Pat the pieces dry with food-safe paper towels. Season the chicken with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.


In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet. Cook the chicken about 5 minutes. If you are using fish, adjust the cooking time to 3 to 4 minutes per side. Turn the pieces over and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in the garlic and the red pepper. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the zest and the chicken stock or water and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately over hot rice or couscous.


 

De'liteful Vegetarian Lasagna




Ingredients

Serves 12 to 14 people

1 lb soy-based meat alternative, preferably sausage-flavored

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and caps finely minced (Mincing the mushrooms gives them a texture similar to ground meat.)

1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt, divided

2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

2 tbsp Italian seasoning, divided

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 (32 oz.) jar low-sodium pasta sauce

1 (16 oz.) jar mild salsa

1/2 tsp sugar substitute

14 to 16 lasagna noodles, oven ready, no boil, whole wheat or regular

16 oz low-fat ricotta cheese

1 egg

3/4 lb low-fat mozzarella cheese, sliced

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 lb fresh baby spinach, washed and dried



Directions
      

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the soy-based meat alternative, olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper,1 tbsp Italian seasoning, nutmeg and the cayenne pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. Micro-cook in the microwave on medium-high power for 5 to 6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a fork after 3 minutes. 


Combine the pasta sauce and the salsa with the faux-meat mixture. Stir in the sugar substitute and 1/2 tbsp of the Italian seasoning. Simmer, cover with a plate or with microwave-safe plastic wrap for about 10 minutes on medium-low to low heat, stirring after 5 minutes. If you don't know how to adjust the temperature on your microwave oven, use the defrost setting and cook the sauce for 10 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with the egg and the remaining 1/2 tbsp of the Italian seasoning. Set aside.


Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.


To assemble, spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 4 oven-ready, no-boil noodles lengthwise over the sauce and break one noodle to fit sideways across the ends of the baking dish.


Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Top with a third of the fresh spinach and the mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1/2 cup of the meat sauce over the mozzarella. Repeat layering, topping off the last layer with the rest of the sauce, and reserving any of the remaining cheese for later use.


Cover the pan with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil, and top with any remaining mozzarella and the parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the lasagna is tender when pierced with a fork and the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.



 

** Good Food ** Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese **




This makes a large quantity of spaghetti, but it can be divided into serving portions and frozen for later use.



Ingredients


1 lb soy-based meat alternative, preferably sausage-flavored

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and caps finely minced (Finely mincing the mushrooms gives them an appearance and texture similar to ground meat.)

1 large zucchini, washed, ends removed, and diced

1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt, divided

2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

2 tbsp Italian seasoning, divided

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 (32 oz) jar low-sodium pasta sauce

1 (16 oz) jar mild salsa

1/2 tsp sugar substitute

16 oz whole wheat spaghetti

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


Directions

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the soy-based meat alternative, olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. Micro-cook in the microwave on medium-high power for 5 to 6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a fork after 3 minutes.


Combine the low-sodium pasta sauce and the salsa with the meat mixture. Stir in the sugar substitute and 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining Italian seasoning. Simmer, cover with a plate or with microwave-safe plastic wrap for about 10 minutes on medium-low to low heat, stirring after 5 minutes. If you don't know how to adjust the temperature on your microwave oven, use the defrost setting and cook the sauce for 10 minutes.


Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Combine the spaghetti with the low-sodium pasta sauce. Add the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to thin out the sauce as needed. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.


 

Southwestern Coleslaw with Creamy Buttermilk Dressing


Ingredients

 

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage

1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup finely sliced green onions

1 1/2 cups shredded jicama

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/8 cup sugar substitute

1/2 tbsp organic honey

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 cup low-fat olive oil or canola mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tbsp coarse-grained mustard



Directions


Combine the green and red cabbages, carrots, and green onions in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, toss the jicama with the lemon juice and the vinegar and it to the cabbage mixture. Using a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar substitute, the honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder and the onion powder, and whisk the ingredients together until the sugar and honey dissolve. Pour the sugar mixture over the cabbage mixture and toss to thoroughly combine. Cover with food-safe plastic wrap and place the coleslaw in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.


Using a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, the buttermilk, and the mustard together until well blended. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the coleslaw and toss to thoroughly combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight before serving.



 

** GOOD FOOD ** Buttermilk Pecan Fish Filets ** Delicious**




Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8

6 to 8 (6-oz) tilapia fish filets (cod or catfish fillets also work well)

1 cup buttermilk (you can make a substitute by combining 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup of milk. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.)

1 large egg, slightly beaten

1 tbsp poultry seasoning, divided

1 tsp salt, divided

1 tsp ground black pepper, divided

1/2 tbsp hot sauce

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs or finely crushed cornflakes

1 cup ground pecans

1 tbsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tbsp vegetable oil



Directions

 

Using a medium-sized bowl, combine the buttermilk with the egg, 1/2 tbsp of the poultry seasoning, and 1/2 tsp of the salt and the pepper and the hot sauce and mix well. Set the bowl aside.


In another bowl combine the breadcrumbs or cornflakes, the ground pecans, the paprika, the remaining poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper and the cayenne pepper. Mix well. Dip the fish fillets in the buttermilk mixture, then into the seasoned crumb mixture.


Place the 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, non-stick pan and place it over medium-high heat. Brown the fillets in batches, 2 to 3 at a time, do not crowd the pan. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Repeat the procedure with the remaining oil and fillets. Serve immediately.