Increasing Healthy Fat Intake during Winter

Winter is the time of year when nature hibernates. It is cleansing itself to start again in the spring. We can take a page from that book by staying healthier this winter.

It’s the one time of year that you don’t have to worry about swimsuits or wearing shorts. You can cover up with sweatshirts and long pants and it is very acceptable. No one will see you properly until the spring so you can eat what you want, right? Wrong!

It is easy for the metabolism to slow down in the winter because we slow down. When you eat but don’t get a lot of activity, your metabolism adjusts. It’s like when you deprive yourself of food on a restrictive diet. The body holds onto stored fat because it doesn’t know where its next meal is coming from.

You don’t want that to happen to you this winter. Instead, find ways to boost your metabolism and stay healthy.

There is a catch-22 here. During the winter we celebrate many holidays that center on food. It is easy to get caught up in high-fat meals, calorie-laden desserts and sitting in front of the television.

Instead, try to incorporate healthy fats into your diet this winter. If you are health conscious, you might be saying why fats at all. Well, fats are a part of the make-up of the body right down to the cells. The body needs certain fats to create cellular membranes, produce certain hormones and also cushion the organs from injury.

Many of the healthy fats that we need can’t be produced in the body. They have to be obtained from food. These good fats are not what we usually see stored in our bodies. Most of that comes when we consume too many fats and do not expend enough energy to use them. They get stored and added to our body fat.

So, what are the healthy fats that the body needs? One that we always hear about is omega-3 fatty acids. They are instrumental in heart health and cellular repair. You can get them from supplements but it is better when they come from food.

Food Sources

Start with seafood and fish. Meat contains fats but there are more saturated fats and omega-6s which are not as healthy as omega-3s. Try salmon, mackerel, crab, shrimp, and other fishes.

Vegetables are also a good source of omega-3s. Opt for soybeans and leafy greens like cabbage and kale. Combining vegetables like these with fish will also boost your intake of healthier fats.

Oils are another excellent source. Consider flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean and corn oil. The seeds used to make these oils are also good to consume. You can add them to salads, and as add-ins for side dishes.

Fat is important but in the right ways and amounts. Without them, the body couldn’t produce hormones and maintain cellular integrity.

How to Treat Blocked Sinuses at Home

When the weather turns cool there seem to be more incidents of sinus problems. Blocked sinuses can be a pain to deal with, especially if you are a busy person. Before you drive to the nearest pharmacy, the answer to your situation may be in your kitchen.

We as a society have lost touch with the “old ways” of healing. Before there was modern medicine there were its precursors: herbs, plants and other medicinal tools. Many of them you have in your home right now.

Aren’t sure? Well here are some treatment options you can use at home to unblock those sinuses.

* Steam – When nasal passages become irritated they can swell, blocking the flow of air through them. Steam can shrink those passages, allowing for freer breathing. Traditionally, boiling water is placed in a bowl. You may add a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint, which are known to facilitate better breathing. Lean over the bowl and cover it and your head with a towel. Slowly breathe in the vapors for about twenty minutes. Repeat several times a day as needed.

* Neti pot – These have been around for a while but have only recently gained popularity. This small teapot-looking tool can be filled with salt water and flushed through the sinuses to reduce inflammation and swelling. It also helps to keep the passages from drying out and becoming even more irritated.

With warmed salt water inside, lean your head to one side. Slowly pour the water into one nostril. It will naturally flow through to and out the other side, flushing both sides of the nose and sinuses. If you lean back the fluid may flow down the back of your throat leading to coughing.

* Humidifier – Nasal passages that are already blocked and swollen don’t fare well when the air is dry. Turning on your heat when it gets cold will produce just that effect. Using a humidifier returns moisture to the air to relieve the pain and discomfort in those blocked sinuses and hasten your recovery. Try a cool mist humidifier.

* Water – Drink lots of it. One sign of sinusitis is thickened mucous secretions. Besides the swelling of blocked sinuses, the mucus is unbearable too. Staying hydrated can thin these secretions out, allowing them to drain more readily.

* Apple cider vinegar – This vinegar has been used for centuries because of its medicinal properties which include antibiotic. Drink a spoonful several times a day or mix it in with a glass of water. It may reduce congestion from blocked sinuses and also help secretions thin and pass easier.

Are you dealing with a case of blocked sinuses due to sinusitis? The simplest way to combat your condition is to treat the symptoms when they first appear, using everyday items in your kitchen.

How to Stay Heart Healthy in Winter

The cooler weather is almost upon us. Some people are glad that it is not so hot, but the winter brings with it its own set of precautions for your health. Keep reading to learn how to stay heart healthy in the winter months.

You would think that because you are not out in the blazing hot sun that you could rest easier with matters of the heart, but not so. In fact, the incidence of heart attacks seems to go up during the winter. Why is this?

First of all let’s look at cold weather. Just like the bears, we get slower, inside and out. The body temperature under normal conditions is a balmy 98.6 degrees. It has to work harder during the winter to maintain that core temperature.

To that end, the blood vessels constrict to preserve heat. If you are someone with a history of heart problems, constricted blood vessels is the last thing you need. Because the opening in the vessels (lumen) is smaller, it will take more force to push the blood through, leading to a rise in blood pressure.

Combine all of that with outdoor activity in the winter, and you are looking at conditions that could be ripe for a heart attack. Shoveling snow is hard strenuous work that can lead to signs of a heart attack in certain people.

So, what can you do about it?

* Eat a sensible diet – Most of us tend towards not eating well when it gets cold, but there are benefits to it. For one, a good diet can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Combine this with exercise and your heart could be in the clear.

* Warm up – The body will have a harder time maintaining body temperature if you just get out of bed and throw on your coat before heading out the door. If you are going to be outside shoveling snow or playing a winter sport, spend time indoors warming up. Jog in place or jump some rope. Once you are limbered up, be sure to perform some dynamic stretching to get the body going. Them, head outdoors for play or chores.

* Dress warmly – You don’t have to be wrapped up like a mummy. Layer your clothing so you don’t feel heavy but you are well protected from the elements.

* Consult a doctor – This is true for everyone but especially if you have lived a life on the couch. Going from sedentary to fully active shoveling snow can be a deadly shock to the system. Ask if it is okay for you to do such heavy lifting.

* Take breaks – Don’t shovel snow for three hours and fall into the house panting. A regular break every thirty minutes gives the body time to rest and you time to get warm.

You might look forward to the winter months but will your heart? The tips above can help you to keep it protected when it gets cold.

How Phobias Interfere with People’s Lives

A phobia is an irrational fear that can grip an individual’s life. Some people who live with phobias may not be affected by them as much as some others. Here are ways that phobias can affect a person’s life.

We have all heard about some wild phobias like the fear of the number 13 or the fear of milk or dead bodies. These types of phobias, while unrealistic, don’t often affect people to the point of immobilizing them. You can conceivably stay away from dead bodies and the number 13 if you are careful. You can still live a normal life.

But, there are other phobias that can be very detrimental. Phobias are part of a category of mental illness that includes anxiety and fear. The difference between anxiety and phobias is that anxiety usually surrounds a situation or event and usually subsides once you are removed from the situation. Avoiding the situation can help you to stop the attacks.

With phobias, there are three types: social, specific and agoraphobia. Social phobia revolves around other people and social situations. This can be something like the fear of speaking in public or being in a crowd of people. That can be hard to manage in everyday life if you must take the subway to work or travel a lot on planes for your job. You are not scared of people per se, but the different situations involving them.

Specific phobias surround a certain object or issue. You may be afraid of dogs. This may even be triggered by seeing a dog and imagining what they may do to you. If you are fearful of escalators or elevators, you might have a problem entering buildings that go above the first few floors. It is not always convenient to take the stairs.

Agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped in a public place. Some agoraphobics avoid certain public places due to the fear of experiencing an attack there. In severe cases, they don’t venture out of their homes in public.

Any phobia has the potential to be debilitating if it in some way will clash with your lifestyle. There is no definitive answer as to why certain people develop phobias. Some may be due to trauma or injury that keeps repeating itself in the brain like a bad film loop.

In any case, even though the rational mind knows that the likelihood of the perceived fear occurring is low, the rest of the body refuses to accept this.

Treatment Options

Unless the fear is interfering with life, treatment may not be sought. In other cases, a therapist may try a number of relaxation techniques, behavior therapy, alternative therapies, stress management and eating regimens to deal with the specific phobia being experienced. Medicine therapy like antidepressants may be prescribed in some cases to accompany or be in lieu of other forms of treatment.

Phobias are irrational or unrealistic fears, but they can grip your life in such a way that you are not living at all. Find out about your phobia and seek treatment to regain control of your life.

Healthy Winter Comfort Foods to Stop Cravings

What is it about winter that makes us reach for the food? Well, things are slowing down and eating is one of those activities you can do without much effort. But, what are we eating? Here are some suggestions for winter comfort foods that are healthy.

Comfort food makes us feel good. We eat much like bears, as if we are trying to insulate ourselves against the cold. Unlike bears, however, we have indoor heating. So, by not moving as much and eating more we are setting ourselves up for an unhealthy result come spring.

Comfort food satisfies cravings. When we eat foods that make us feel good, it releases endorphins in the brain. We feel even better then. But, most of those foods contain a high amount of unhealthy fat and calories.

So, this winter we want to give you the satisfaction and satiety but without all the calories.

Main Meals

People love soup in the winter. For one, they are easy to make and can be frozen for a future time if you make more than you can eat right now. You can add a lot of ingredients to soup to fill you up but leave behind all the calories.

Squash soup – There are several squash varieties that are available this winter. You can create a cream soup that is less fattening by using milk instead of heavy cream. Puree your squash first after it is cooked and then add the milk.

Beef stew – Stews are broth-type soups that contain meat and veggies. Stew contains filling foods that are going to keep you from eating a lot but also provide nutrients. If you are worried about the sodium content, try a low sodium beef broth as your base. Another option is to balance the salt content with potassium. These two work together in the body to balance your electrolytes and you can balance them in your food for a healthier meal.

Use lean beef in your stew along with the standard veggies like carrots, celery and onions. Instead of potatoes you can use grains like barley to fill you up. Also, add chopped greens like kale and turnip greens to get that potassium and other nutrients. Once the soup is done you can skim off any extra fat.

Dessert

Don’t forget dessert. Chocolate has gotten a bad rap over the years. It is okay to eat chocolate as long as you eat it in moderation. Choose a darker chocolate that contains more cocoa solids, which is where the health benefit comes from.

Opt for low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt. For a treat, top with melted dark chocolate and add a cherry, much like a sundae.

If you want something a bit more reminiscent of fall, create baked apples. Remove the core and fill with cinnamon, a bit of brown sugar and some chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and enjoy.

What are your comfort foods? You can always add a bit more health to them this winter and still feel satisfied.