Healthy Exercise during Pregnancy

Just because you are an expectant mother doesn’t mean that you have to give up your exercise routine. Here are some ways that you can still stay in shape without endangering your child.

There is no reason why you can’t exercise while you are pregnant. In fact, exercise will help you to maintain your health and ward off excess weight gain while you carry your baby. Through different exercises you can also increase muscle strength which is helpful during the delivery process.

As always, consult your doctor. He will be able to tell you if your current exercise regimen is too rigorous for you to maintain during this time. He may also suggest which exercises to perform that are safe enough.

How will you know which ones are safe? First off all, avoid any activities that come with an increased risk of falling such as hiking, rock climbing, and step aerobics. Contact sports are out of the question because not only is there a chance of falling, other injuries may result that could prove life threatening to your child.

Start off slowly. In the early trimester, walking and other exercises that require you to bear weight may be okay since you are not showing yet. Be careful not to raise your heart rate too high with high impact or vigorous exercise. In all trimesters, try to avoid exercises that put pressure on the abdomen.

Also, be aware of your temperature. Try not to get overheated doing any exercise. Dress warmly but not so much that you feel uncomfortable. Indoors, be sure there is proper ventilation in the room or class. Overheating can lead to dizziness, dehydration and other health issues.

As your belly begins to grow, the added weight and pressure may be too much for walking or running. Now, it is better to switch to exercises that are not weight bearing. Consider swimming. It is a good cardio workout and there is no pressure on the joints or the abdomen to cause discomfort.

Another exercise is stationary bicycling. There is no real danger of falling and there is no pressure on the legs or the stomach. You can still get a good workout but don’t risk back pain.

When to Consult a Doctor

If at any time during your pregnancy you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor. It could be that your exercise program is too strenuous and you may have to stop or tone it down considerably.

* Chest pain
* Shortness of breath
* Abdominal or vaginal pain
* Blood from the vagina
* Contractions
* Nausea or dizziness during or after exercise
* Blurred vision

Take care of yourself. Exercise is healthy but taking care of your baby is more important. Use good judgment when making the decision to continue physical activity during pregnancy.

Healing Your Sore Throat Naturally

There are all types of reasons why you may have a sore throat. The one thing that you do know is that it is uncomfortable and irritating. Before you go out and spend money on over-the-counter medicines, think how you can help yourself at home.

A sore throat can have a lot of different causes. It can be a by-product of a sinus infection. It could be that your vocal cords are tired from singing or coughing. No matter what the cause, it hurts.

Here are some ways that you can go about healing your problem the old-fashioned way.

* Gargle – The throat may be irritated because it’s dry. Try gargling with salt water. As you gargle concentrate, on the back of your throat (without coughing). The mixture will soothe a rough dry mouth and throat. Repeat this process every hour as needed. Some gargle with water that has chili powder added. The spiciness in the gargle can numb the throat.

* Drink lots of fluids – When our throat gets sore, we don’t even want to open our mouths. It can be hard to eat and swallow with the pain. This can lead to dehydration. For someone with a sore throat, it can be dangerous. Drink lots of water, tea, coffee (if you like it) and other low calorie beverages. Try using a straw if you can’t manage to gulp it down. It may be easier on your sore throat pain.

* Honey – Honey comes from bees and is filled with their immunity. A tablespoon of honey each day can help alleviate irritation and pain by coating and soothing the throat. It also has antibiotic properties.

* Flush your sinuses – A sore throat could be caused from thick mucus secretions that are related to a cold, flu or a sinus infection. Flushing the sinuses help to thin these secretions so they can pass through and out.

* Tea – Something warm on the throat can help ease the pain. Try a cup of your favorite herbal tea with a bit of fresh lemon juice. It can also soothe irritated throats and help with the pain.

* Add moisture to the air – Using a warm air or cool mist humidifier can keep the air hydrated. Dry air can irritate a sore throat. Adding moisture perks things up.

* Change air filters – Sometimes, sore throats can develop when the air isn’t as clean inside your home as it could be. Change the air filter every three months to ensure that there is a lower incidence of dust mites, dander, lint and dirt in the air.

* Vitamin C – This can help increase your immunity to things like sore throats. The healthier you are, the lower your chances of getting sick in the winter.

Do you have a sore throat? Here are some ways to alleviate the pain naturally.

Good Mood Foods

Who knew that food could make you feel good? For many of us, some of the foods that do this are not the healthiest for us. Here are some examples of good mood foods that are also good to you.

Food not only nourishes our body it also nourishes our mind. Different types of foods can affect how we feel. Comfort foods are so named because of the feelings that they invoke when we eat them. Let’s say that you come home from a hard day and all you want is a big bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese. That macaroni and cheese has the ability to soothe your hurt feelings and also put a smile on your face, indicating that you feel more upbeat.

How foods affect our moods may be connected to how they react or are used in the body. Some food nutrients affect the brain by attaching to cells and causing the secretion of certain neurotransmitters at different times.

So what foods should you eat?

* Whole Grains – Whole grains include cereals, oatmeal, barley, bulgur, bran, whole wheat breads and the like that are used by the body as fuel. These contain high amounts of fiber that are slowly digested. They allow you to regulate your blood sugar which leads to a more even temperament. These grains along with fresh fruits contain zinc, selenium, vitamin E, C and A – all antioxidants. Antioxidants reduce signs of oxidative stress in the body.

* Green vegetables – With busy schedules, we are often run down. To increase your energy, you need to eat vitamins that will help with that. Green leafy veggies and cruciferous veggies like broccoli are rich in antioxidants and minerals like manganese, iron and potassium. Women especially need iron because of their menstrual cycles. Green vegetables with minerals like magnesium may also be able to increase good feelings and clear away the brain clutter. Also try eating bananas and seafood.

* Dairy products – Dairy is not bad, but you will want to eat products that are low in fat for best results in your diet. Try milk, buttermilk, cottage cheese, yogurt and cheese for a start. These can reduce the symptoms of PMS, which include irritability, bloating, mood swings and pain. Dairy products are also good for evening out your mood during the day.

* Meats – We are talking about turkey in particular. Turkey as we know from Thanksgiving is filled with tryptophan. This amino acid may make you feel sleepy but it also works to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Increased levels of serotonin are linked to increased mood and good feelings. Other foods that contain tryptophan besides meat are bananas, pineapple, tofu, spinach and sunflower seeds.

Want to help yourself feel better? Reach for a more balanced diet first.

Flu Shot Controversy: Pros and Cons

Influenza has been around for centuries. It has a deadly history, taking thousands of lives. To prevent that, scientists have worked to develop flu vaccines to help protect people from the possible harmful results of a flu infection. But, are these vaccines all they are cracked up to be?

What Is Influenza?

It is a virus. And, from what we know about viruses, there is no cure for them. The solution lies in treating the symptoms to reduce the time it takes for the disease to run its course. It helps to be healthy but even if you are not in optimum condition, you can still lower your risk of serious complications from the flu.

The Controversy: Pros

People are all for not catching the flu, but not so hot on the idea of the vaccine. First of all, as doctors will tell you: You can’t catch the flu from taking the vaccine. The flu shot is designed to produce antibodies in the body for as many strains of the flu as it is formulated for. To that end, the vaccine is made up of dead, inactivated virus.

By increasing your antibodies, the immune system is putting on armor to fight a potential flu invasion. It can increase your chances of survival and a shorter period of illness. While the shot is not 100 percent effective against the flu, it does increase your chances of NOT getting it by about 70 percent. That is good news for people who are at greater risk for the disease:

* The elderly
* Immune-compromised individuals
* Children
* Those with diabetes
* Those with asthma
* People who take care of an ill person

These groups have a greater risk of contracting the flu due to their age and surroundings. Children (for instance those in daycares) are exposed constantly to other kids who may be sick, thereby increasing their chances of catching something. Older people have more delicate immune systems and are slower to recover from the flu if they get it.

Cons

With all of the information that suggests that the flu shot is good, there is no evidence that you will be prevented from contracting the disease. In fact, you may still get it. A healthy person who is eating a well-balanced diet can reduce the duration of the flu should they get it just as well as someone who has received the shot.

Some people are concerned with the ingredients in the flu shot. Some contain thimerosal, a compound that contains mercury. Mercury at high levels can affect brain chemistry. While the levels in the flu vaccine are not going to produce this effect, getting a shot each year may put you at greater risk.

Shots can produce localized injection site reactions. You could experience redness, swelling, itching and discomfort at the site. Some would rather forgo that if they can.

Are you going to get a flu shot this year? Weigh the pros and cons first and make an informed decision.

Eat Well with Winter Vegetables

In winter we look for fare that will stick to the ribs and keep us full throughout the day. Instead of reaching for processed or fast food items, take a look at the winter garden. There are tons of good items there that will not only satisfy your tummy but keep you healthy as well.

Vegetables are a healthy source of carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. During the winter, you can get crafty with these vegetables in foods like soups and chowders. But before you do that you need to know which vegetables you are going to be working with.

Cruciferous vegetables are indeed winter veggies. You can enjoy an abundance of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. All of the crunch helps you to chew more and eat less. They also make good substitutes in certain recipes.

An example would be mashed potatoes. If you are trying to cut down on white potatoes, mash up cooked cauliflower and add some sour cream to get the consistency of mashed potatoes but with a healthier twist.

These hearty veggies especially broccoli is labeled a super food. This means that in itself it contains all the nutrients and minerals that you need. Now you won’t be eating broccoli all day but you will get a healthy dose of everything when you eat it. It is also instrumental in lowering your risk of certain cancers, boosting the immune system and increasing antioxidants.

Root vegetables are also popular in winter. These include carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas and the like. They require longer cooking times to break them down and soften them but it is well worth it because of the flavors they impart.

Some of these you may have heard of but haven’t worked with before. The winter is the best time to experiment with new flavors and recipes. Here are a few examples of recipes that you can use to help you get the taste of these winter vegetables.

Cream soups – One thing about cream as opposed to broth soups is that they are thicker and stick to you longer for a full feeling. Try using a food processor to blend some cooked squash and potatoes or chopped up broccoli. Add some chopped chives, green onions and other spices along with fat free sour cream to add flavor.

Stir fry – This is a great way to steam and sauté vegetables with very little oil. Water chestnuts, celery, onions and carrots can be used to create an Asian stir fry. Slice them thin or julienne them so that they cook faster. Add seafood, lean poultry or lean beef to round out the meal.

Salads – There are plenty of winter greens that can be used to make flavorful salads. Top with winter citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines and also use pears. The fruit adds flavor without the need to drench your creation in salad dressing.

Winter doesn’t have to be boring food wise. Try those winter vegetables to create new dishes your family will love.