Dr. Laura: A Valentine’s KISS Recipe

Valentine’s Day Dessert- a KISS Recipe!

Keep It Simple Sweetie!

Don’t you just love simple desserts? This won’t take long to make. There is no baking. It is free of gluten, dairy, egg, corn & soy! haha – It’s just fruit. So it’s vegan too.

How easy to please  any squeeze.

All you need is a heart shape cookie cutter, a knife and some fruit. Any melon will do. To cut the kiwi fruit, just peel it, then carve out a little notch along the oblong. Then sliver off a little along either side to make it shaped like a heart. Then cut across to make slices.

Voila!

Spread a little love!  It keeps you young & vibrant.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

8 Tips for a Healthy, Active Spring

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After the winter chill is gone it’s nice to go for a walk without having to navigate snow banks, salt, or sleet. Everyone can benefit from taking advantage of the more healthful opportunities afforded, but the trick is to not overdo it. Getting your body used to a more active lifestyle takes some conditioning and common sense. Keep these tips in mind when you head out the door.

Use heat therapy to soothe muscles before and after exercise

Most people know that a heating pad or warm bath after a workout or slight injury can make a significant difference in terms of pain reduction and comfort. What is not so well known is that heat can play a preventative role, too.

  1. Applying heat before a workout session can minimize muscle strain. A study compared pain felt by exercisers who applied a heat wrap to their lower back before their workout session with those who did not. That treatment group rated their post-exercise pain as about 50% less intense as the group that only did stretching. Using commercial heat wrap products available in drugstores may be able to keep you comfortable and get you back to action sooner.
  2. Heat therapy calms muscles and prevents cramping. After a workout, muscles and joints are potentially dehydrated and, because they are attenuated (weakened), not as stable as when they have been resting. Applying a heating pad or wrap for 10 minutes or so while seated or lying down after a workout session or strenuous activity like spring cleaning can help muscles calm down and return to their normal state without seizing up.

Learn more about preventative heat therapy in Heat Wrap Therapy Can Reduce Post-Exercise Low Back Pain.

Stretch to release stiff joints and prevent injury

Whether it’s golf, tennis, gardening, or just walking, stretching is one way to keep you in action longer. Similar to heat therapy, a stretching session of five minutes both before and after physical activity can pay big dividends by keeping you healthy and preserving your motivation to stay active.

  1. Focus on the big muscles first. The quadriceps and hamstrings in your thighs are generally the largest muscles of the body and deserve special attention. That means stretching the back, front, and inner and outer thigh. It may seem a bit much, but you can’t really move without them so it’s worth the effort, particularly because they play a key supporting role for your back.
  2. Stretch the whole body. One approach to stretching is to concentrate on these muscles first, and then work up through the back, arms, and neck, and then down through the calf and ankle.

See Hamstring Stretches for a guide to treating this muscle well, and Sports Injuries and Back Pain for additional stretching tips.

Don’t shortchange your sleep

It can be difficult to adjust to the longer days of springtime, particularly with abrupt daylight savings adjustments. Sleep deprivation and insomnia are major causes of on-the-job injury, as well as other health problems since a tired body is a weakened body. How can you get the shut-eye you need?

  1. Have a sleep routine. Your body responds to routine on both conscious and unconscious levels. Going to bed at the same time, for instance, and only using the bedroom at nighttime can help switch your mindset into ‘sleep mode’.
  2. Make food and drink work for, not against, sleep. Sometimes it seems like there is a coffee shop on every corner. Caffeine has even been injected into bottled water. Moderation is the key, and most doctors recommend eliminating caffeinated drinks after lunch, assuming you turn in around 10 p.m. Java in the morning is OK. Have coffee in the evening and you may be in for a long night of counting sheep.

For more on sleep, consider these 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips.

Move away from your desk, couch, car or gardening stool

It’s all too easy to focus on a task only to look up and realize that you have been in essentially the same position for two hours. Your neck, your back, your arms—they all ache. Sitting too long in one position slows down blood flow to both appendages and your brain, so move them—because they are designed to move.

  1. Set a reminder to move every 20 to 30 minutes. Use your cell phone or watch to set an alarm. That will be your signal to get up and walk around the house or office, or fold a load of laundry, or take out the trash. It doesn’t matter what you do, really, only that you change position and use the major limbs in a different way.
  2. Do stretches at your table or in your cube. Maybe you don’t have the luxury of taking a little walk. No matter. Simply standing up and reaching your hands over your head and then trying to touch your toes may be enough to activate the blood flow.

Learn more:

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The Health Benefits Of Owning a Pet

Owning Pets Can Lead To:
Increased Health, Increased Longevity, Decreased Cholesterol, Decreased Weight, Decreased Depression, and Overall Improvement in Physical and Emotional Health.

 

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

As a pet owner, I frequently hear that owning a pet, or a dog in particular, can be a huge benefit in relation to your health and can possibly help you live longer. For years I have believed and reported this to be true to my patients. The results I have witnessed with sick patients and geriatrics receiving pet therapy is amazing and truly touches your heart when you witness the smiles and energy reborn in these individuals. It seems that when patients are lost in the sadness of an illness, or lost in their own minds with dementia, dogs can lift their spirits and bring them back to happiness and health. As a healthcare provider writing this article, I thought it was prudent to do a bit of research on the topic. To be more accurate on a scholarly level, I did not do research, I did read the research of others on the topic, including the American Heart and Stroke Foundation, making it a literature review.

My Review of Available Research

My review did have some interesting findings with respect to increased health and longevity, decreased cholesterol levels, weight and depression, and overall improvement in physical and emotional health. Wow, with those results, why wouldn’t everyone get a dog, or another type of pet? It’s like the perfect diet pill with an emotional bonus?! Does dog food cost less than a gym membership and a happy pill prescription? Sounds too easy to be true, and it might not be true in reality.

Dog Owners are more Active than Cat Owners

A further review of literature shows that people who choose dogs over cats are more active prior to obtaining the pet. Daniel DeNoon, the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter spoke of a study that “followed 369 people with cardiovascular disease. A year later, those who owned a dog were four times more likely to be alive than those who didn’t have a dog. Cats, however, did not improve their owners’ odds of survival” (link at bottom of page).

Complete Unconditional Love

There was no mention of activity level of the dog owners or the cat owners. Did the dog owner study group live longer because they were more active before the heart disease and remained active after the heart disease? Were the cat owners less active? It is obvious that there was a distinct difference in survival rate. Could the results be related to the often independent nature of cats versus the unconditional love of a puppy or a dog?

The emotional needs of a dog compared to a cat are directed at the owner as in the traditional dog filled with uber excitement just waiting for their owner to simply open their eyes in the morning. For my dogs, it is like a celebration to see me wake up in the morning, with a huge amount of energy, love, and happiness. Complete unconditional love has to be good for your health!

Active People get Dogs

Berkley University in California speaks of the connection between health and having a dog for a pet. One of their statements regarding a recent study “confirmed that dog owners get more physical activity (at least in part because they have to walk their dogs), and are less likely to be overweight or to smoke, all of which contributes to cardiovascular health”.

Once again, I have a difficult time believing that having a dog would make you quit smoking or over-eating. The most reasonable explanation for this statement would be that people who choose to get a puppy (or in my case two puppies) are already active and engaging in health provoking activities. With certainty, I can assure the world that if I was overweight and smoking, it would impede taking care of my two crazy but beautiful boxer puppies.

Dogs Take a Lot of Energy!

Dogs do take a lot of energy!

My spouse’s mother constantly questions “why we didn’t get lap dogs”, and his daughters believe “cats are all we could handle, dogs are just too much work!”

They are all 100% accurate! Dogs are a lot of work, and that work comes with a huge return of love and kisses. That work is what makes you stay healthy. You can’t sit for long without them making you move. They require attention and give you attention. Therefore, they don’t let you decline in health, they insist you stay active, and activity is what it takes to lower your cholesterol, reduce your weight, increase your mental health, and possibly gives you more energy to make healthier choices on other topics such as smoking?

Increasing Health by Increasing Activity

In addition to increasing health by increasing activity, many dog owners thrive secondary to the unconditional love of a pet. Pets don’t get angry because you didn’t listen to their story over dinner, they don’t care if you left the toilet seat up, they don’t care if you missed a special event, they only care that you give them love and attention. They will wait for your love under any circumstance and will never try to make you beg for forgiveness. This type of unconditional love makes dogs exceptional for people with health issues or mental health issues.

One must also consider that dogs do not live as long as humans. The loss of a dog is as equal on a pain or emotional pain scale as losing a loved one. Harvard Medical School states,”the death of a pet can trigger a grieving process similar to what happens after the loss of a close friend or family member” (link at bottom of the page).

Being attentive to family or friends that are experiencing health issues in their pet are the same as health issues in a family member. Be present and helpful to your loved ones when they experience the same. Altered health of a dog that has given unconditional love to your mother, father, brother, sister, or child will indeed affect them in a way that they will need your assistance. Grieving is a curious entity and a broken heart is not easily mended.

Families and health care providers should always know pet therapy is available to assist with grieving. My boxer puppies visited a long-term care home and the residents would glow at holding them and even talked to their families daily about my dogs.

A piece of heaven on earth!

by

BabyBoomer Health Online