Your family history of disease is your family medical tree. If you have a close relative with diabetes, your own diabetes risk may go up. Heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure also tend to run in families, and some hereditary diseases can be passed down from parent to child through a defective gene.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, although most people realize that knowing their family history of disease is important, only about one-third of Americans have gathered and recorded their family’s health history.
9 Surprising Things That Can Make You Sick
“Some examples of why family history is important and how doctors use it are colon and breast cancer,” says Elizabeth Lo, MD, a family care physician at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. “Someone with a strong family history of breast or colon cancer may be screened earlier and more frequently for these diseases.”
A family history of disease may be used to:
- Determine your risk for certain diseases
- Start early treatment or prevention for diseases that run in your family
- Determine whether you should get certain genetic tests for hereditary diseases
- Let you know if you are at risk for passing a disease to your children
“Family disease history may indicate the need for genetic testing and counseling,” says Dr. Lo. “A woman with a family history of breast cancer may be tested for certain genes that help doctors predict breast cancer risk and the best treatment.”
Creating Your Family Medical Tree
The National Institutes of Health recommends getting a family history of disease going back at least three generations. You should include your grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and cousins on both sides of your family. If you have children, include them, too.
“It is important to go back a few generations on both sides of the family because a young parent or even a young grandparent may not be old enough to have developed a potentially hereditary disease such as cancer or dementia yet,” explains Lo.
Your family historyof disease is influenced by a lot more than genes that may transmit hereditary diseases. Families also share other important factors such as lifestyles, diet, and environmental exposures that can cause a disease to run in your family. Common diseases to look for and chart include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Mental illness
Some less common hereditary diseases include sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis.
Medical and public health groups are banding together to explain how global warming has taken a toll on human health and will continue to cause food-borne illnesses, respiratory problems, and deaths unless policy changes are enacted.
In a conference call with reporters, the heads of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) joined with a pediatrician and a scientist to lay out what they say is a major public health issue: climate change caused by global warming.
The Link Between Air Pollution and Asthma
The “evidence has only grown stronger” that climate change is responsible for an increasing number of health ills, including asthma, diarrheal disease, and even deaths from extreme weather such as heat waves, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the APHA.
For one, rising temperatures can mean more smog, which makes children with asthma sicker, explained pediatrician Dr. Perry Sheffield, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.
There is also evidence that pollen season is also getting longer, she said, which could lead to an increase in the number of people with asthma.
Climate change also is thought to lead to increased concentrations of ozone, a pollutant formed on clear, cloudless days. Ozone is a lung irritant which can affect asthmatics, those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and those with heart disease, said Dr. Kristie Ebi, who is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
More ozone can mean more health problems and more hospital visits, she said.
Aside from air-related ailments and illnesses, extreme weather can have a devastating effect on health, Sheffield said.
“As a result of global warming, extreme storms including hurricanes, heavy rainfall, and even snowstorms are expected to increase,” Sheffield said. “And these events pose risk of injury and disruption of special medical services, which are particularly important to children with special medical needs.”
Extreme heat waves and droughts are responsible for more deaths than any other weather-related event, Sheffield said.
The 2006 heat wave that spread through most of the U.S. and Canada saw temperatures that topped 100 degrees. In all, 450 people died, 16,000 visited the emergency room, and 1,000 were hospitalized, said Dr. Cecil Wilson, president of the AMA.
Climate change has already caused temperatures to rise and precipitation to increase, which, in turn, can cause diseases carried by tics, mosquitoes, and other animals to spread past their normal geographical range, explained Ebi.
For instance, Lyme disease is increasing in some areas, she said, including in Canada, where scientists are tracking the spread of Lyme disease north.
Ebi also recounted the 2004 outbreak of the leading seafood-related cause of gastroenteritis, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, from Alaskan seafood, which was attributed to increased ocean temperatures causing infected sea creatures to travel 600 miles north.
Salmonella outbreaks also increase when temperatures are very warm, Sheffield said.
A 2008 study also projected that global warming will lead to a possible increase in the prevalence of kidney stones due to increased dehydration, although the link hasn’t been proven.
Wilson said the AMA wants to make doctors aware of the projected rise in climate-related illnesses. To combat climate change, Wilson says physicians and public health groups can advocate for policies that improve public health, and should also serve as role models by adopting environmentally-friendly policies such as eliminating paper waste and using energy-efficient lighting in their practices.
“Climate instability threatens our health and life-supporting system, and the risk to our health and well-being will continue to mount unless we all do our part to stabilize the climate and protect the nation’s health,” said Wilson.
Benjamin added that doctors should pay attention to the Air Quality Index. For instance, if there’s a “Code Red” day, which indicates the air is unhealthy, physicians should advise patients (particularly those with cardiac or respiratory conditions) that it’s not the day to try and mow the grass.
“ER docs are quite aware of Code Red days because we know that when those occur, we’re going to see lots of patients in the emergency room,” Benjamin said.
The conference call came as Congress is considering what role the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should have in updating its safeguards against carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
10 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly
While the EPA has the authority to regulate levels of CO2, a budget bill passed by the House of Representatives last the weekend prohibited the EPA from exercising that authority. Meanwhile, other bills are pending in Congress that would significantly delay the agency’s ability to regulate air pollutants.
AMA has a number of policies on the books regarding climate change, including a resolution supporting the EPA’s authority to regulate the control of greenhouse gases, and a statement endorsing findings from the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that concludes the Earth is undergoing adverse climate changes, and that humans are a significant contributor to the changing weather.
In that statement, the AMA said it supports educating the medical community about climate change and its health implications through medical education on topics such as “population displacement, heat waves and drought, flooding, infectious and vector-borne diseases, and potable water supplies.”
The statement also said the AMA supports physician involvement in policymaking to “search for novel, comprehensive, and economically sensitive approaches to mitigating climate change to protect the health of the public.”
They’re a waistline-friendly snack known to boost heart health, and loaded with enough other health benefits to land them a coveted spot on our list of the 50 healthiest foods of all time.
But before you get carried away with a heaping handful, consider a few of the lesser-known facts about this beneficial bite. Here are a few surprising facts about almonds.
Almonds Are In The Peach Family
The nut we know as the almond is technically the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree, itself a member of the prunus family. This category of stone fruit encompasses trees and shrubs that produce edible fruit like cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines. (Don’t the pits look a little bit like nuts, now that you think about it?) As relatives, almonds and fruit in the same family can both cause similar allergic reactions.
Almonds Are Among The Lowest-Calorie Nuts
Per one-ounce serving, almonds are tied with cashews and pistachios at 160 calories, Health.com reported. They also have more calcium than any other nut, plus nearly 9 grams of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats, 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber per serving.
Almonds Are Best For You Raw Or Dry Roasted
When you see packaged nuts with the word “roasted” on the front, consider this: They may have been heated in trans or other unhealthy fats, Judy Caplan, R.D., told Health.com. Look for the words “raw” or “dry-roasted” instead.
“Raw” Almonds Aren’t Exactly “Raw”
Two salmonella outbreaks, one in 2001 and one in 2004, were traced back to raw almonds from California. Since 2007, the USDA has consequently required almonds to be pasteurized before being sold to the public. The FDA has approved several methods of pasteurization “that demonstrate effectiveness in achieving a reduction of possible contamination in almonds while not impacting their quality,” according to the Almond Board of California. However, opponents of almond pasteurization argue that one such method, propylene oxide processes, poses health risks greater than that of salmonella, since the EPA has classified propylene oxide as a human carcinogen in instances of acute exposure.
You Can Make Your Own Almond Milk
All you’ll need are some almonds, a sweetener of your choosing, some water and a food processor!
Almonds Pack Quite The Disease-Fighting Punch
According to 2006 research, just one ounce of almonds contains about the same amount of polyphenols, antioxidants thought to help fight off heart disease and cancer, as a cup of broccoli or green tea. However, considering that the research was funded at least in part by the Almond Board of California, we may have to take this one with a grain of salt.
Have you ever tried to get a child to sit still at a dentist’s office? It is like pulling teeth. Pun intended! I understand children seem to naturally be afraid of dentists. After all, they can give shots and pull teeth. I was scared as a kid when my parents took me to the dentist. In fact, I was awful. I cried and screamed. I think our daughter has inherited my fears of the dentist. However, we found a childrens dentist in Wollongong that works perfectly with her. She just needed some positive experiences with the dentist to build confidence for returning for her braces.
She was so scared of the dentist that she brushed, flossed and used her dental rinses twice a day no matter what. She never missed brushing her teeth at least twice per day. Sometimes she would brush after each meal.
it’s the time of year when millions of people begin exercising to meet their resolution of losing weight or getting healthy. When beginning any exercise program, it’s important to pace yourself and not risk injury by overexerting yourself from the get-go – especially if it’s been a while since you worked out. To prevent that, here are some tips and tricks to get you started on your journey towards a healthier life.
Tip 1: Start Slow
Don’t just jump right in and start exercising five days a week — that’s a recipe for disaster, says John Higgins, MD, Director of Exercise Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. It’s better that you gradually work up to exercising several days per week while you see how your body responds.
“Start low and go slow,” Dr. Higgins said. “The current recommendation is 2-3 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per day. But for someone who is just starting out, we recommend that they start at 1-2 days per week and ramp it up from there.”
Tip 2: Know When to Stretch
Stretching right before a workout may seem like the best thing to do, but you might be putting yourself at risk of injury.
“After you warm up, you should stretch your muscles and hold it for about 15 seconds,” Higgins said. “You are less likely to injure yourself when you’re stretching if your muscles are already a little warmed up.”
Tip 3: Mix it Up
Whether you’re going for weight loss or bulking up, a mixed regimen of aerobic and strength training is the best way to achieve the body you want. But even within those categories, don’t stick to the same exercises every day, Higgins said.
“Don’t go running every day,” he said. “It’ll get boring and you’ll get to a point where you don’t enjoy it anymore. Try biking, or the elliptical or whatever you enjoy most. If you like to play basketball or tennis, do that, because you’re more likely to stick to something you enjoy.”
In addition, move between the four various types of exercise, which are aerobic,resistance (strength) training, flexibility (which includes yoga) and balance, which isespecially important for seniors.
Tip 4: Know Your Weight and the Right Way to Use it
Most people are confused the first time they walk into a gym, Higgins said, but are afraid of asking for advice. But if that’s you — get over it.
“If you don’t know ask,” he said. “By law, gyms have to have people who can help show you how to work out on the machine, and it can save you from badly injuring yourself.”
In addition, many gym newbies go for the heaviest weight they can — a rookie mistake.
“Go on a weight machine and, starting at the lowest weight, pull it down and keep adding on from there. Just keep increasing the weight until you reach a point where you can only do one or you can’t do any. That’s too much”
Once you find your maximum weight, two-thirds of that number is where you should start.
“You should be able to do about 12 reps,” Higgins said. “It should be easy, but it shouldn’t be difficult to the point where you’re straining.”
Finally, once you have a weight you’re comfortable with, don’t get too eager to increase it.
“You should not increase it more than 10 percent in a week,” Higgins said. “If you do, your risk of injury increases exponentially.”
Tip 5: Know When to Take a Break
When people start out, they are often overzealous and try to get to the gym every day, Higgins said. However, by not letting your body rest, you can be doing much more harm than good.
“If you don’t give your body time to heal and repair itself, your performance will go down and you’ll get into a vicious cycle where you never fully recover,” he said.
And if you’re sore after a workout, that’s good — unless it hurts too much.
“It is normal to have pain and soreness after exercise,” Higgins said. “Don’t run to take a painkiller, because that can mask pain and cause you to do real damage to your body. Let yourself recover naturally.”
Nine hours per day — that’s how much time the average American spends in front of cell phone, tablet, computer or television screens. All that screen time is causing eye strain and other vision problems, according to a new report by the Vision Council, a nonprofit trade association.
Researchers surveyed more than 7,000 people and found that screen time is steadily increasing for kids and adults. Over the past year, the number of people who admitted spending 10 hours per day on electronic devices rose 4 percent.
“Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults experience digital eye strain as a result of the growing use of these devices,” the researchers wrote in the report. “Adults aged 18 to 34 report feeling eye strain at a higher rate (45 percent) than their older counterparts.”
Constantly staring at a screen can lead to a host of problems, said Douglas Lazzaro, MD, professor and chairman in the Department of Ophthalmology at SUNY Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“The longer you look at a computer screen, the more eye strain you tend to have,which can cause headaches,” Dr. Lazzaro said. “We also tend to blink a lot less when we’re looking at a screen, and when we blink less, we dry out our eyes.”
This dryness can cause burning and itching, said Jacqueline Busingye, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and research has shown staring at screens can cause long-term vision problems.
“Some people believe that staring at a screen can change your vision and cause you to become more nearsighted. It’s controversial, but some evidence has shown that to be the case,” Dr. Busignye said.
The typical kid growing up today gets more than 8 hours of daily screen time, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the number of hours will probably only increase as they get older. We are seeing the first ever generation of kids who have spent their entire lives staring at computer screens, Lazzaro said.
“We’re going to have a generation of people who are going to have all types of eye problems,” he predicted. “My nephew looks at an iPad or smartphone all the time, and he has constant headaches and dry eyes.”
So how do you fix the problem? It’s as simple as walking away, said Busignye.
“Taking a break and looking away and blinking a lot is important,” she said. “Walking away will give your eyes times to lubricate and adjust.”
A couple of computer tweaks can help too, according to Lazzaro said. “Increasing font size provides some benefit, so you’re not struggling to see the screen,” he said. “There are certain types of protection you can put on screens, such as filters, to cut down on glare, which can also help reduce eye strain.”
“But make you take a break for at least 10 minutes every hour,” he added. “It’s a simple and easy way to protect your eyesight.”
What’s the thing you do best? Our biggest strengths can contribute significantly to our happiness, success and well-being — and to those of the people around us.
According to newly-released Gallup data, using one’s best talents can also play a role in one’s comfort. In more than 120,000 interviews conducted during the latter half of 2012, Gallup found that the more people use their strengths throughout the day, the less likely they are to say they feel physical pain.
At least 116 million Americans live with chronic pain, uncomfortable at best, debilitating and isolating at worst.
Despite existing health problems, 50 percent of people who do what they do best for at least 10 hours a day said they experience pain, while 69 percent of people who use their top strengths for three hours a day or less said they experience pain, according to the new report. The relationship also exists among people without any ongoing health issues, albeit more weakly: 13 percent of people who use their strengths for 10 or more hours a day reported physical pain, while 17 percent of people who use their strengths for three hours or fewer did.
Whether the people using their strengths all day long are simply more positive people or just more distracted is still to be determined, according to Gallup. But it’s certainly something to consider when reaching into the toolbox of pain management techniques. In addition to playing to your strengths, here are 10 more all-natural, little-known ways to make yourself more comfortable, fast.
It’s not exactly medicine, but laughter really does have health-promoting properties. Beside offering some stress relief, burning a few calories and potentially leading to a longer life, a hearty belly laugh from time to time may offer some natural pain relief. It’s likely due to laughter’s triggering a surge of feel-good chemicals in the body called endorphins, which have been shown to act as painkillers.
As if you really needed any more reasons to kick the habit for good, in a study of people with back pain, those who had never smoked reported the least discomfort. According to the study, smoking is an identified risk factor for back pain and disc problems, and current smokers reported the greatest pain.
Keep Stress At Bay
The body’s physical response to stress — the heart starts pumping, breathing quickens, muscles tense — is similar to the body’s physical response to pain. Thinking about a stressful event has been shown to significantly increase muscle tension in patients with chronic back pain, WebMD reported. The more stress, the higher the level of cortisol, often called the stress hormone, in the blood. This in turn may “lead toincreased vulnerability to pain”, according to a 2013 study. Relaxation can come in many forms — maybe it’s meditation, reading a good book, going for a jog, taking a nap. What’s more important is just to de-stress, somehow.
Go To Sleep
Is there anything a little extra shut-eye can’t fix?! A small 2012 study found that, in addition to sleep’s protective benefits to memory, mood and the waistline, spending more time in the Land of Nod can decrease pain sensitivity. In the study, 18 healthy young adults were divided into two groups. One group slept nearly two hours more a night. The people who slept longer were able to hold their fingers on a heat source to test pain tolerance for 25 percent longer than the sleep-deprived participants.
Fall In Love
Coupling up improves lifespan, lowers stress levels and rates of disease and boosts sex life, but it also may help lower pain. A small 2011 study subjected 17 women in long-term relationships to a short pain shock. Some were allowed to look at photos of their partner during the pain, others were not. The women who were allowed to see their loved one’s face described their pain as less intense. According to the study, the areas of the brain activated by the photos are linked to feelings of safety. And to top it off, the longer the women had been in their relationships, the greater the activity was in this part of the brain.
Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome who participated in programs aimed at helping them overcome their symptoms — a combination of exercise and counseling — improved more than those whose treatment was intended to help them adapt to the limitations of the disease, a large randomized trial found.
Mean fatigue scores among patients treated with graded exercise therapy — a tailored program that gradually increases exercise capacity — were 3.2 points lower than scores in patients who received specialist medical care alone, according to Dr. Peter D. White, of Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues.
Furthermore, fatigue scores were lower by 3.4 points among patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy, in which a therapist works with the patient to understand the disease, alleviate fears about activity, and help overcome obstacles to functioning.
In contrast, among patients who were treated with a program known as adaptive pacing therapy, which emphasizes energy limitations and avoidance of excess activity, scores differed by only 0.7 points the researchers reported online in The Lancet.
In a press briefing describing the study findings, co-investigator Dr. Trudie Chalder, of King’s College London, said, “We monitored safety very carefully, because we wanted to be sure we weren’t causing harm to any patients.”
“The number of serious adverse events was miniscule,” she added.
Another co-investigator, Dr. Michael Sharpe, of the University of Edinburgh, commented that a difficulty in the management of chronic fatigue syndrome has been ambiguity — about the causes and whether these treatments recommended by NICE actually are effective.
“The evidence up to now has suggested benefit, but this study gives pretty clear-cut evidence of safety and efficacy. So I hope that addresses the ambiguity,” Sharpe said during the press briefing.
4 Ways to Save Energy With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
However, the investigators conceded that the beneficial effects of these treatments were only moderate, with less than one-third of participants being within normal ranges for fatigue and functioning, and only about 40 percent reporting that their overall health was much better or very much better.
“Our finding that studied treatments were only moderately effective also suggests research into more effective treatments is needed,” they wrote.
In addition, they stated that their finding of efficacy for cognitive behavioral therapy “does not imply that the condition is psychological in nature.”
The importance of cognitive behavioral therapy was further emphasized by Dr. Benjamin H. Natelson, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
“This approach of encouragement of activity and discouragement of negative thinking should be a tool in every physician’s armamentarium,” he said.
“We know that cognitive behavioral therapy and gentle physical conditioning help people cope with any chronic disease — even congestive heart failure and multiple sclerosis,” Natelson said in an interview with MedPage Today.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by persisting or relapsing fatigue for at least six months that cannot be explained by any other physical or psychiatric disorder.
The fatigue is debilitating, and often is accompanied by joint and muscle pain, headaches, and tenderness of the lymph nodes.
In an editorial published with the study, Dr. Gijs Bleijenberg, and Dr. Hans Knoop, of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, explained the differences in these types of treatment for chronic fatigue.
“Both graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavior therapy assume that recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome is possible and convey this hope more or less explicitly to patients. Adaptive pacing therapy emphasizes that chronic fatigue syndrome is a chronic condition, to which the patient has to adapt,” Bleijenberg and Knoop wrote.
Graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have both been recommended by the U.K. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, although evidence supporting these approaches remains sparse.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Fatigue
Some patient groups have expressed strong disagreement with these recommendations, arguing that cognitive behavioral and graded exercise therapies actually have caused harm to some patients.
These groups advocate exercise pacing and specialist medical care, according to the investigators.
To address this controversy, White and colleagues conducted the largest trial thus far of treatment for chronic fatigue, enrolling 641 patients from six U.K. specialty clinics.
Patients were randomized to receive specialist medical care alone, or specialist medical care plus cognitive behavioral therapy, graded exercise therapy, or adaptive pacing therapy for 24 weeks.
There’s no doubt that technology can be stressful. While 24/7 connectivity certainly makes some things more convenient, a plugged-in life can take a toll on our well-being. Scientists have linked heavy tech use with decreased focus and productivity, increased stress, disrupted sleep and stunted creativity, among other concerns. But one of the great ironies in our always-connected world is that technology can also be leveraged to help us de-stress (as we know first hand from the creation ofHuffPost’s GPS for the Soul app).
In that spirit, the HuffPost Healthy Living editors tested out a handful of well-being apps that promise to promote a more balanced, zen life. Check out our thoughts below, then tell us in the comments what apps you swear by.
Health through Breath: Pranayama Lite
Price: Free. The full version costs $5.99. Available for Android and iOS.
How it works: This app is essentially a guided breathing course. You get to choose from a variety of music, sounds and animations to coach you through a few minutes of inhaling and exhaling. You can also log your sessions to keep track of your progress, with the goal of working toward more advanced training. (Only the beginner sessions are available in the free version.)
Time commitment: From five to 60 minutes, whenever you feel like it. With the full version, you can create more customized sessions.
How we felt: There’s good science to back up a fact we all know: A few deep breaths really can do wonders for kicking stress to the curb. We felt much lighter after focusing only on our breath for just a few minutes, and the sounds and animations of the app helped keep the mind from wandering during the process.
Would we use it again: Maybe. We don’t absolutely need an app to remember to take a few deep breaths every once in a while. But under a lot of stress, we might lean on the app to steer our minds back to clarity.
Price: Free. (Heads up: It’s only for the iPad.)
How it works: This app allows you to create your own zen garden and save your images in order to revisit your design. Complete with a selection of soothing music, Zen Space lets you choose what tools and add-ons you want to use in order to create the most optimal, peaceful experience.
Time commitment: Anywhere from one minute to one hour — completely up to you.
How we felt: Any step toward creating more calm in our lives is a good step, and this app allows you to do that. The music is relaxing and it definitely set a pace that can help regulate breathing and get you into a meditative state. That being said, we found our minds wandering after a few moments of use. When it comes to this method of creating inner peace, you might be better off with something more tangible. We’d rather unplug from our devices and take the real zen garden over the virtual one.
Would we use it again: We’d use it again, especially when looking for some soothing music, but it wouldn’t be a go-to app.
Price: $0.99, for iPhone, iPad and iPad touch.
How it works: The Zen Wisdom app presents a “daily wisdom” quote from the Zen Buddhism tradition, with the option to save or share it, as well as a comprehensive collection of random Zen quotes that can be perused and saved to a favorites folder at any time.
Time commitment: Virtually none.
How we felt: Most us could use a little more zen in our lives, and this app is a good place to start. Many of the daily quotes (from the Dalai Lama, Alan Watts, Buddha, and more) were genuinely calming and comforting, as well as applicable to anyone’s life. Zen is all about finding peace and wholeness in the present moment, and the words of wisdom offered good reminders to be mindful and seek simplicity. Although the design and typography left something to be desired, the quotes themselves (“simplify yourself as much as possible”) are a good introduction to Zen, and they’re important reminders to keep life’s challenges in perspective.
Would we use it again: We’d use the app again, though probably not regularly. There’s not a whole lot you can do with it, but the daily quote is a nice way to insert a little bit of Zen wisdom into your day.
Price: Free, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
How it works: You “dip” your finger into a water tray on the screen and then “paint” on the board, which looks a bit like an Etch A Sketch — you can customize the brush style, water tray style and board color. Each brush stroke fades out over time, and you have the option to turn on relaxing music. According to the app, “Buddha Board is based on the Zen concept of living in the moment, you create your design on the screen, and then as it slowly disappears, you are left with a clean slate and a clear mind — ready to create a new masterpiece.”
And yet, somehow, you still find yourself wondering… IS THAT ME?!
Turns out, there are the occasional smells that no amount of scrubbing or brushing or deodorant-applying can deter. Here are a few of the most surprising.
Believe it or not, there are different types of sweat, chemically speaking. And the stinkiest sweat of all is stress sweat. That’s because it’s produced from a category of sweat glands called apocrine glands. Aprocrine glands produce a less-watery sweat, and bacteria go crazy for the fats and proteins in the mix. That feeding frenzy is what releases the odor, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sweat from your workouts or just because it’s too dang hot outside, on the other hand, is composed mostly of water and electrolytes, according to YouBeauty.
You’ve Been “Blessed” With Stinky Feet
That same all-you-can-eat buffet for bacteria happens with the sweat on your feet. And since your tootsies are tucked away in a dark, warm, moist environment, they really nurture bacteria — especially if you’re sans socks. But about 10 to 15 percent of people have extra-sweaty feet just by the luck of the genetic draw. Those ultra-moist dogs can then become home to a specific type of bacterium calledMicrococcus sedentarius, which produces truly awful smelling sulfur compounds. Lucky you.
You Have Too Few Favorite Bras
Ladies: ‘fess up. How often do you wash your favorite bra? Yep, we thought so. “Many women overwear — and consequently underwash — bras because they have too few that fit properly,” bra expert (really!) Susan Nethero told Prevention. Because that lacy number is probably made of odor-trapping fabrics and definitely touches skin in more than one sweat-prone place, you probably need to wash it more often than you think, and neglecting to do so could cause odor.
You Love Broccoli
You’ve probably heard that eating a diet heavy in garlic and onion can stink up more than just your mouth. It’s true — smelly foods are broken down into smelly compounds that circulate in the blood stream and come out through the breath, sweat and urine, WebMD reported.
But garlic and onion aren’t the only offenders. In fact, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other veggies in the cruciferous family include those same smelly compounds — typically, sulfur — and can lead to all-over stench.
You Have A Rare Genetic Disorder Called Trimethylaminuria
Mutations in a specific gene have been discovered to create a condition calledtrimethylaminuria, which causes the body to be unable to break down a chemical compound called trimethylamine. Trimethylamine is what gives fish its fishy smell, and when it builds up in the body it’s released in the breath, urine and sweat, giving a person with trimethylaminuria a similarly fishy smell, according to the Genetics Home Reference at the National Institutes of Health. The odor can be extremely disruptive to daily life, often resulting in depression and social isolation, according to the NIH./p>
You’ve Been Drinking
While you can’t exactly sweat off that hangover, you do sweat out some booze when you drink. As alcohol courses through your blood and around your body,some seeps out through the pores — and, quite evidently, through the breath. It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol you drink; once the body begins to break it down it all smells the same.
You Could Have Diabetes
When diabetes is untreated, it’s possible to experience what’s called diabetic ketoacidosis. Without enough insulin, the body starts to break down fat for fuel, which leads to a build up of ketones in the body. That buildup in turn may produce a change in body odor, according to the Mayo Clinic, and may be a sign it’s time to see a doctor.
Some people also report a similar change in body odor when switching to a diet heavy in meat and low in carbs. A low-carb diet is known to impact the smell of breath.
One of the joys of being a yoga teacher is that I get to see a side of people that most people don’t get to see. During an hour-long practice, I see a room full of people drop their outer facades and fall into the present moment. I see faces soften. I see shoulders relax. I see defenses fall away. It is hard to accurately describe what that looks like, but it is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
I am honored and grateful to be a teacher of yoga. I see people blossom right into the best, most confident, versions of themselves. There are five things I want to make sure that every yogi knows.
1. Yoga is more than just doing poses on the mat.
The beauty and inspiration of yoga is that it consists of many different elements. The ancient sage Patanjali talks about eight limbs of yoga in the Yoga Sutras. They consist of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. If you want more info on each limb, you can read the basics on Yoga Journal, or jump right into the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali. While most people are most familiar with the physical aspects of yoga, asana practice is only the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in more depth, more spirit, more love… other limbs of yoga can help you as much, if not more, as being on the mat. There is always more to learn, in each and every limb of yoga, and because of that, we are all students figuring it all out — even the most advanced teachers. Open yourself to the possibilities of the entire yoga tree.
2. Honoring your present moment — no matter what that is — is the key to yoga.
Some practices are hard. Some flow with ease. We all, at one time or another, feel like swearing at our teachers as we hold a pose longer than we want to. We all feel like running from the room screaming like our hair is on fire at one time or another. Whatever comes up is real, it is important, and it needs to be acknowledged. Every time we practice yoga, we have the opportunity to be present, to stop the stories raging in our mind, and just be. It sounds so easy, but it is one of the most challenging parts of the practice. Staying with each breath as it unfolds is the most advanced part of yoga.
3. It is important to feel yoga, not perform yoga.
I don’t look like a svelt cover model yogi. I barely squeeze my ladies into size 12 Lululemon tops. I can’t do certain poses that some of my students can do. However, when I am on the mat, I feel my yoga. When in dancer’s pose, I feel my body express the pose like I am a ballerina on a NYC stage. When I arch my back in camel, I feel my heart center creak open and the energy flood in. It doesn’t matter what it looks like to others. It only matters how it feels to you. Yoga makes me feel beautiful.
Sometimes you’ll run across a person who is performing for the crowd. The pre-class headstands and arm balances, the looking around to make sure everyone is watching, the pushing of bones and muscles into places they have no right going are all tell-tale signs of a yoga performance. I used to get annoyed, mainly because I can’t do many performance ready poses, but now I send love to the performer. I want her to feel her own beauty, not need anyone else’s approval. Watch what happens in your mind when you practice. When you turn inward and are present to your current experience, the room can fall away and the practice can be felt deeply in your heart. You can feel beautiful and strong.
4. What we do on the mat is practice for “real life.”
It’s so great to be able to go to a studio and roll down a mat next to other like-minded people. What we do there is practice for what happens in our “out of the studio” world. We learn to stay present at the office, to breathe through the discomfort of a hard conversation, to accept what is happening with our kids, to let go of the big critic on our shoulder (aka our ego).
Yesterday, I was in a meeting with a grumpy colleague and I felt anger and defensiveness start to rumble in me. I was internally mounting my argument against the poor unsuspecting man, which surely would have blown back his chair and launched him into the next decade. In a word, I was pissed. Then I remembered my yoga… breathe, Katie, breathe. Deep breaths. Three of them. The anger passed. I was able to be calm as I expressed my thoughts. I was able to negotiate. My colleague’s life was saved. Everybody won. That situation was sponsored by vinyasa yoga.
5. What we deal with what happens on the mat is how we deal with life.
This is one of the hardest things for me to learn. When I am in practice and something really challenging comes up, I want to run. I am a bit shamed to tell you that I have actually faked nosebleeds to get out of holding a pose. Running from the room with my hand over my face, I sure as hell got out of that pose.
Guess what my defense mechanism is in life? Yup, run little rabbit, run. Yoga has taught me that how I react to things on the mat is a mirror to my reactions in life. That is a big, hard, ugly pill to swallow, but it is true. My self-doubt comes up on the mat, and it comes up in my life. When I experience a breakthrough on the mat, I learn that if I practice hard and believe in myself, I can do anything. Instant breakthrough.