Health & Wellness Blog


Considering Taking Up Triathlon?

If you’re taking an interest in endurance sports, but dread the monotony of performing the same arduous activity day in and day out, the multi-sport of triathlon be your niche.

Many people, whether to lose weight or improve cardiovascular health, jump right into sports like running and cycling, only to drop out after a month of growing boredom. There is no doubt that doing the same sport on consistent basis can get a little old. However with triathlon, there are three sports in which you can enjoy and get better at.

But what’s more than just getting in shape via swimming, biking, and running, is the outcome and personal development you can gain from triathlon. Taking on three sports takes dedication, preparation, and effort. Triathletes are often health-minded and highly-driven individuals, and those characteristics often reflect their complete lifestyle.

Why Tri?

Participating in swimming, biking, and running can surely get you into top shape. All three sports work various muscle groups and all require a fair degree of strength and cardiovascular effort. Furthermore, each sport offers its own advantages compared to the others.

Some triathletes are prone to impact activities, such as running. Although they will still run on occasion (such as during races or during training periods,) this breed will typically focus more on swimming and biking, which are low impact sports. Conversely, some individuals don’t have access to a pool or lake. These triathletes will often emphasize their training around the biking and running aspects of the sport.

The flexibility of triathlon gives health-minded individuals the opportunity to mix up their training regime. This can help ward off boredom from doing the same exercises and activity over and over. Regardless of whether or not you planning to do a race, involving yourself in the three disciplines of triathlon can help you become a greater individual.

Triathlon for Health

Considering Taking Up TriathlonThe sport of triathlon also contributes to great sense of well-being, both mentally and physically. The physical aspects are obvious, for the three sports of triathlon involve a great deal of coordination and energy expenditure. An often overlooked benefit of the multi-sport is the mental health benefits.

Triathlon, particular for those involved with racing, requires a significant amount of organization and preparation. From building training schedule to planning out meals and nutrition, the indirect aspects of the sport are major factors to being mentally healthy. The typical triathlete is usually a very conscious person, in that he or she is usually well aware of one’s diet, feelings and emotions, and overall lifestyle choices.

Endurance sports naturally make humans feel good. The endorphin release during and after a solid work-out promotes optimism and greater sense of presence. These emotions reflect the rest of the day, and thus can enhance our way of life.


Ashtanga Yoga: A Deeper Practice

Yoga helps your body and mind. It keeps you healthy and helps you rediscover your fullest potential spiritually and psychologically. Yoga has three basic practices that help you gain awareness and control of self. These are Ujjayi Pranayama (proper breathing), asanas (postures) and driste (gazing point).

Whether you're a beginner, or practice yoga regularly and are considering a yoga retreat in the future, there's immense benefits to be gained. In essence, you will get steadiness of mind and body if you are devoted and you perform Yoga regularly.

Ashtanga Yoga for Health

The 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

The term Ashtanga literally translates to 8 limbs. This refers to:

* contemplation or Samadhi

* abstinences or Yama

* observances or Niyama

* breath conrol or Pranayama

* sense withdrawal or Pratyahara

* postures or Asana

* concentration or Dharana

* meditation or Dhyana

The different limbs have to be used together. The asana (posture) practice is pivotal in pranayama and the development of niyamas and yamas. Asana, pranayama, niyama and yama, the 4 externally-oriented limbs, are the most important since the 4 internally-oriented limbs spontaneously evolve with the passage of time.

Get Your Flow On

Vinyasa refers to movement that is breath-synchronized. Breath-synchronized movement is very important in Ashtanga. You generate intense internal heat when you practice locks (Uddiyana Bandhas or Mula together with the breath-synchronized movement. The intense heat is important because it purifies organs and muscles.

This has the effect of nourishing the body, achieved through the massaging of sweat back into your skin, the release of beneficial minerals and hormones and the expulsion of unwanted toxins. Breath-synchronized movement helps in the regulation of the vinyasa and it ensures there is efficient blood circulation. This ensures that your body is light and strong.

The Ashtanga system is made up of 3 sequence groups. The first (primary) series in the sequence is Yoga Chikitsa. This works by detoxifying and aligning the body. Nadi Shodhana is the second (intermediate) series. It works by purifying the nervous system through the opening and the cleaning of energy channels. The last (advanced) series in the sequence is Sthira Bhaga works by integrating grace and strength of the Ashtanga system. It requires great humility and flexibility.

One Step at a Time

It is important that you develop in each level/series fully before you go to the next one. It is also important that you follow the correct order of asana since the postures are arranged in such a way that one prepares the way for the next. You will not have the necessary balance and strength if you go to advanced postures without mastering the easier ones first.

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of deep and even breathing while practicing Ashtanga Yoga. Breathing is important in that it feeds your actions and these actions feed your posture. With proper breathing, your movements will be precise and gentle and you will have great balance.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sri T. Krishnamacharya in their ‘Breath is Life’ teach us that proper breathing has a divine essence, with inhalation being inspiration from God and expiration being movement towards him. It is only through practice that you will achieve the results you need in Ashtanga Yoga. Contrary to how Westerners view yoga, Ashtanga Yoga is actually accompanied by sweat, stamina and strength.


Ready Your Allergy Arsenal

According to Estelle Levetin of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology aerobiology committee, allergy seasons are getting worse year after year since pollen levels are increasing. In 2012, fall allergies are likely to affect over 12 million Americans and they will last about 27 days longer than in the previous year.

To prepare your allergy arsenal, you first have to know what to expect in terms of symptom and the triggers of these symptoms. Different allergies have different symptoms and different triggers. Most fall and spring allergies cause itchy eyes, running nose and sneezing. Spring allergies run from February towards the end of July. They are mainly caused by tree pollen, weeds and grasses. Fall allergies start from the middle of August and end at the beginning of the first fall frost. These allergies are mostly caused by ragweed plant pollen, dust mites and mold.

Pollution Induced Allergies

Pollution does not help issues. According to Jeffrey G. Demain who is the director of the Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center of Alaska, global warming now means spring allergies are now starting sooner while fall allergies are ending later. Global warming is being fueled by the burning of carbon-based fuels which generate greenhouse gases. These gases trap heat within the atmosphere and causes increase in temperatures.

Allergies in PollenAccording to Jeffrey G. Demain, carbon dioxide emission from the burning of fossil fuels, especially by car engines and factories, has the effect of increasing the amount of pollen generated by each plant. This is particularly so in urban areas where cars and factories are concentrated. The high CO2 emissions are also contributing to the high levels of allergies in that they are making the pollen more potent.

According to Estelle Levetin, temperature increases due to global warming prompt plants and trees to flower earlier each spring and they delay the death of the ragweed plant from frost in the fall. The fall allergies are now going into winter. The high temperatures also increase mold growth and the production of its spores.

Allergies Growing in Numbers

According to the National Institute of Health, the number of Americans who have allergies is 2 to 5 times higher than it was 30 years ago. Genes can be attributed to this. Estelle Levetin asserts that we are cleaner than we used to be, leading to the overreaction of our immune systems whenever they find pollen and other harmless substances. We are cleaner at a time when the environment is dirtier.

The modern diet is contributing to the rise in allergy levels. According to Gary Huffnagle of the University of Michigan, we are eating processed and preserved foods, foods that do not have the tough fibers from grains and plants our ancestors used to eat. This throws off the delicate bacteria balance in our stomachs and makes us more sensitive to allergies.

It is important that you ready your allergy arsenal months in advance since chances are that somebody close to you will have an allergic reaction this spring or fall. You could go online for the latest information on the allergies and what you require to prepare for them.

There are websites, blogs and discussion forums where you can get the latest information. Your arsenal could comprise of natural remedies, unfiltered honey, pills, rinsing to keep the sinuses clean and several others.


How to Shape Your Beach Body, Fast

Shape Your Beach Body via Weight Loss & Dieting The last few years have seen a worrying trend in overweight and obesity prevalence. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that over 35% of the adult population is overweight with BMI (Body Mass Index) ranging between 25 and 29.9.

These numbers are replicated throughout the world. As a result, the drive to attain a slim body has become a craze to avoid the dangers associated with excess weight including heart attacks. Perhaps more so, individuals are motivated to find their perfect body to avoid the embarrassment of looking overweight.

Although shedding calories may not be as easy as gaining them, there are various ways to shape your beach body, fast. Below we outline a few tips to keep in mind for effective weight loss.


What You Eat

The mention of dieting for many people means skiving food and trying to lose weight overnight. This is a misconception and dieting in fact means taking the right foods in the right quantities.

50-55% of your diet should contain carbohydrates combined with a good measure of proteins (25-30%) to help build up your muscles and enhance the recovery of any torn tissues. Sugars and fats should be reduced in your diet because they end up as the main contributors to excess fat. Fibers are also essential to help in digestion and clean the body of unprocessed foods.

How You Eat

One of the worst culprits in your efforts to get a perfectly toned body is poor eating habits. Taking large meals at once is detrimental and instead, spread the meals to about 5-6 times a day. In addition, eat only when hungry and not just as routine and while at it avoid snacks in between meals.

Food behavior also calls for intelligence and decisions such as taking fruit juice instead of a fruit itself need to be made rationally. Fruit juice will contain extra additives such as sugar thus adding to your weight problems. Over time, train your body to become accustomed to fruits and vegetables instead of fast foods.

One great practice to help you realize greater awareness in you body and overall consumption habits is fasting. More than just a fad, juice fasting has proven to be a great way to lose weight and better sense thyself. As the stomach shrinks during a fast, our bodies a much more aware of the feeling of being full. This awareness can be sustained for long-term eating habits.


Water is essential in our body and helps in lubrication and digestive purposes. Water not only helps to tone your skin but reduces ageing while also flushing toxins, which could be affecting digestion and your general body wellbeing. Instead of taking sugary fizzy drinks such as soda when thirsty, train yourself to take water.

The body requires copious amounts of water and you should start the day with water. When hungry, try drinking some water. Your hunger might be mistaken for thirst, which is zero calorie solution.

There are many other tips on how to shape your beach body fast, which can complement these. For example, habits such as smoking and alcohol intake should be ceased forthwith. There is of course the importance of getting proper exercise. However, one must know that exercise is only 30% of the equation when looking to loose weight. When you put your mind to it, losing weight is not rocket science at all.



Best Fat Burning Foods for Weight Loss

Losing weight is a major challenge for most people. The intimidation of a weight loss plan is often exacerbated by confusing statistics and information. Many people are hitting the gym under pressure only to exhaust themselves within no time and fall back to their plump selves. As they say, the forbidden fruit is always sweet and hence, the foods you crave most cause this trauma. If you eat right, you can cut on excess fat and be on your way to retaining your slim and trim figure. In this Health n' Wellness post, we dive into some of the best fat burning foods include to include in your weight loss diet plan.

Almonds and Nuts with Skin Intact

Although nuts contain high levels of fat, in moderation they can help to fend off food craving and make you feel full. As such, you do not end up gorging yourself with other types of food. These nuts also help to build muscle, which is what people crave for when trying to lose weight. A person trying to lose weight can kill for a toned body but a diet of nuts everyday will help you achieve this feat easily.

Whey Proteins

This is a mixture of globular proteins found in milk. The product contains nutrients such as Glycomacropeptide, immunoglobins, and lactoferrin, which help in breaking down fat. In addition, you get amino acids such as tryptophan, which are essential in breaking down fat while at the same time building body muscle. This double-pronged function ensures that as you burn fat, muscles are toned. Moreover, proteins are essential in repairing torn muscle and tissue thus helping regain an ideal body.

Whole Grains

Such whole grains for weight loss include oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and other non-white grains. These fat burning foods are perfect because the body uses a lot of calories while burning them down. They are rich in fiber and hence your body has to expend more energy in metabolism, which effectively ensures you continue losing extra fat.

Beans and Legumes

These have been hailed for a long time due to their low calorie content and high fiber content. In essence, beans and legumes help to regulate digestion through presence of fiber and as the body struggles to burn more fibers, you lose more calories. They are the ideal replacement for meat because they still have proteins present in meat.

Lean Meats

This is a type of food high in proteins. Over the last few years, shift is being refocused on proteins due to their high thermo genic effect. During intake, your body burns around 30% of calories and this is ideal for your weight loss. As such, look for lean meat such as turkey or choose fish like salmon, tuna, and tilapia to cut down on saturated fat. Other ideal fat burning foods include chili peppers, spinach and vegetables, eggs, berries among others. They call for discipline and dedication to dieting if at all the desired effects are to be achieved. Do you have any other top fat burning foods for weight loss that you would like to add? Let us know in the comments section below.


The Effects of Exercise on Recovering Breast Cancer Patients

For many years, women with breast cancer have generally been advised to rest after surgery or other treatment. This was to give the body a chance to heal without having to deal with the stresses of exercise. However new studies have suggested that in fact exercise is not only harmless, but can actually be incredibly beneficial to patients.

A steady level of exercise can help to reduce fatigue, promote circulation, and improve the general health of women after cancer treatments. It has even been noted that exercise can help to improve emotional distress as women engaging in more exercise than before their treatment have reported much lower levels of depression than women who have rested more.

Maximize Energy, Minimize Depression

One study from the University of Miami has found that when regular exercise is combined with behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety and stress, the result is much lower levels of depression and can actually improve energy levels.

Although not the first study to show the benefits of exercise to cancer patients, this study is unique in discovering the relationship between exercise and the true effectiveness of other therapies. The new study suggests that even a moderate amount of exercise, such as a long walk or Yoga practice, can significantly increase the benefits of stress reduction therapy.

More About the Study

The University of Miami study followed the progress of 240 women with breast cancer after they had surgery. The first half of the group of women was given intensive group behavioral therapy while the other half were given very little support in the form of therapy.

Women from the first group who had exercised more frequently between the surgery and the therapy were noted to have a considerably better response to the therapy than those who exercised very little. It was also noted that the same effect occurred in the women of the second group but to a lesser extent.

All of the women who increased their exercise levels were shown to suffer from less depression and had more energy overall. This research seems to suggest that exercise can make a difference to the emotional well-being of women facing breast cancer, as well as improving their energy levels and bodily functioning. When combined with therapy, the affects of exercise can make a big difference in recovering from cancer.

*Information on studies sourced from:


FDA Releases New Guidelines to Limit The Use of Antibiotics On Livestock

FDA is seeking to minimize the overuse of antibiotics on animals by limiting their use to treating sick animals. The recent request by the FDA to voluntarily limit the use of antibiotics is driven by concerns that harmful bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the traditional medicines and treatments.

This is not the first time the FDA is making such a move. In 1977, Congress opposed the regulator's attempts to restrict the use of antibiotics. Since then, medical practitioners, activists and consumer groups have been advocating for restrictions on the use of the antibiotics. Two years ago, the agency denounced the practice and said it was not in the interest of protecting public health.

Risks of Antibiotics in Animal Feed

Adding antibiotics to animal feed and water has been a routine practice since the 1960s. Low doses of antibiotics administered over a long period helps to protect animals from getting sick and accelerates their growth. With the prolonged use of antibiotics, harmful bacteria eventually mutate and become resistant to the treatments, necessitating use of stronger drugs to kill them. This puts consumers of the animal products at risk of potentially dangerous infections when the superbugs are passed to them.

The new guidelines recommend using the antibiotics only on ill animals and under the supervision of a veterinarian. The FDA is urging pharmaceutical companies to stop promoting the commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline as growth promoters in animals. It argues that a voluntary approach is more effective and will yield faster results. It expects to effect the changes fully within three years.

The shift from using food products from animal treated with antibiotics is already in force in the European Union. Some leading fast food chains who do not accept meat products from animals fed with antibiotics. However, advocacy and consumer groups are skeptical, saying that the voluntary approach has proven ineffective in the past. They want the FDA to make restricted use of antibiotics mandatory.

What do you think? Is this a good move by the FDA, or weak attempt to show concern for our nation's health and wellness?


Cross Training for Endurance Athletes

When it comes to becoming the best athlete that you can be, it is crucial that you focus on more than just your normal exercises. Most endurance sports like running or swimming require an ideal combination of stamina and strength. This is why it is crucial that you focus on cross training and exploit other sources of exercise to help you improve your abilities.

There are some forms of cross training that offer endurance athletes amazing cardio and strength workouts, and are apart from their more focal form of exercise. Below are some ideas for cross training that you can consider when you are looking to change things up a bit.


These are suspension straps that are made for body weight workouts and they are certainly made for any type of athlete out there. TRX, however, will not just have you fighting your body weight but also gravity. This is the added resistance that you will be using to help you get stronger.

When it comes to endurance training, it is important that you are able to control your body for a long period of time. TRX training is something that any athlete can benefit from and it is certainly a a cross training technique that you can try. TRX targets functional strength for performance, and offers a wide range of options to get enhance your endurance sport of choice.


Yoga is something that you can do to help you relax and get your body back into alignment. With intense training of your particular sport, yoga can help to relax your mind and body. However, you cannot expect yoga to be a walk in the park as people will be surprised at how tough it can be. Getting your body in some of the more technical poses can is not only a strength and balance workout, but also a cardio workout as well.


CrossFit is the ultimate cross training program that you should really consider. This is the hybrid between endurance and strength and it is slowly becoming the main form of exercise for athletes that want to gain muscle and more endurance. Athletes who try CrossFit will admit that it is the best form exercise that should be done by any athlete. It has been called the "perfect exercise" because every type of athlete will benefit from it. IN addition, each CrossFit "workout of the day" is different, offering greater flexibility.

When it comes to becoming the best athlete possible, you will need to learn how to get out of your comfort zone and to try new things. These are only some of the better options out there but you do not need to limit yourself to just these. Cross training is a great way to improve in your particular sport and to also improve your overall health. With the help of cross training, you will see that you can get so much better without having to always practice your own sport.

What types of cross training do you advocate? Share your ideas in the comments section below.




Germ Exposure at Early Ages can Help Boost Immunity?

A recent study on mice has shown a correlation in kids who are exposed to germs in their early ages are more likely to have a stronger immunity and resistance to diseases. The immune system boost therefore means that kids exposed to germs are less susceptible to health complications and allergies, such as colitis and asthma. These details are according to a research carried out on March 22, 2012 by the Women's hospital located in Boston.Kids exposed to germs may have healthier, stronger immunity as they grow older

According to the contradicting hygiene hypothesis, exposure to microbes in the early life of a child significantly suppresses the immune system and therefore puts them at a greater risk of being affected by different types of diseases. The new study supports this whole idea and more so expounds on it so that you can better appreciate the relationship that exists between the immune system and the disease causing microbes. The researchers warn that the results of this research might not apply to each and every person mainly because the research was conducted using mice as the specimen.

Senior authors led this study from both the Women's Hospital and Brigham. Dr. Dennis Kasper is the director of the Channing laboratory of the Women's Hospital while Dr. Richard Blumberg is the senior manager at the Gastroenterology department at BWH. These two and their colleagues studied mice which are bred in more sterile environments without them being exposed to any germs and pathogen free mice that were raised in the normal controlled environment in the laboratory.

They then bred the two types of mice so as to develop asthma and bowel disease and then compared the two immune systems. They came to realize that the germ free mice developed more of invariant killer cells mainly in their lungs and bowel and therefore developed critical disease symptoms. In that case, the germ free mice cells accumulated and then increased morbidity in IBD models and asthma as compared to the specific pathogen free mice.

The germ free mice developed the so called iNKT cells which play a role in helping to fight infections but on the other hand can fight the body tissues. This therefore makes the germ free mice more susceptible to diseases and infections. This research also shows that exposure of germ free mice to germs did not lead to any noticeable development of the iNKT cells and more so these mice did not really develop severe symptoms that were seen in the other mice which were kept more germs free. It also proved that even by leaving the germ free mice in that state, they might not experience any kind of strange effects.

The conclusion after this study is that the best effects would only be realized if the mice were more of exposed before their adulthood. This is where the basis of having kids exposed to germs in their early days to develop immunity comes from. The germ free mice on the other hand were exposed to more germs in their early life and thus they developed immunity. The aim of the study was to show the importance of microbes and why exposure in early days in life might help to boost the immune system. The research is also intended to act as a basis for the understanding of the increase allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases mainly in the urban areas.


Aspirin Linked to Reduced Risk of Cancer

Two new British studies suggest that taking an aspirin daily may lower patients' risk of getting certain types of cancer by up to 37 percent. Doctors are cautiously optimistic about these studies because aspirin's side effects may include gastrointestinal bleeding. More studies are needed to confirm results; however, it seems that aspirin may stop cancer from spreading to other organs or from developing in the first place.

Recent Studies on Aspirin

One study, conducted at the University of Oxford, looked at the cancer rates in both men and women who took an aspirin once a day for three years. This study found that after three years, patients who took a daily dose of aspirin were far less likely have cancer than people in a control group who did not take aspirin. After five years, the group that took aspirin's cancer risk was lower by 37 percent. could taking aspirin reduce the risks of cancer?

The other study, which analyzed the results of several British cancer studies, found that people who take aspirin once a day have a lower risk of metastatic cancer--25 percent--as well as a lower risk of colon cancer. In addition, patients who had esophagus or colorectal cancers had less risk of the cancer spreading to other organs in their body if they took aspirin. The study excluded the results of two other studies that showed that taking aspirin had no significant benefit for cancer patients; however, the excluded studies looked at the effects of taking aspirin several times a week instead of the effects of taking aspirin on a daily basis.

Tradeoffs in Taking Aspirin

The results of the current studies are significant because esophagus and colon cancers are among the most serious types of cancer and are often fatal. If aspirin can stop these cancers, as well as other types of cancer, from spreading to other organs, cancer patients will be less likely to become weak and die from their disease.

Cancer is one of the most common serious illnesses U.S. patients face, and cancer of the colon or of the prostate are especially common in men over the age of 50. About 30,000 people a year die from each of these cancers, and about 40,000 women a year die from breast cancer. For this reason, many people are excited about the possibility of preventing cancer or stopping its spread by taking an aspirin every day. However, doctors are not sure yet whether it is healthy for people to take aspirin every day. Long-term aspirin use has been linked to gastrointestinal bleeding; in addition, aspirin use may increase the patient's risk of having a stroke.

For this reason, most doctors don't recommend that healthy people take aspirin daily. In the past, cardiologists have recommended that people only take aspirin to prevent heart disease if their personal risk of disease outweighs the potential negative side effects of the aspirin. Similarly, most doctors are suggesting that only people who currently suffer from cancer or are highly likely to get cancer should take aspirin to try to prevent it. People who are healthy and have low risk of cancer may risk their health more by taking the drug, so doctors currently don't recommend that they do so.


Recent Posts

  • Considering Taking Up Triathlon?
    If you’re taking an interest in enduranc... read more
  • Ashtanga Yoga: A Deeper Practice
    Yoga helps your body and mind. It keeps you he... read more
  • Ready Your Allergy Arsenal
    According to Estelle Levetin of the American A... read more
  • How to Shape Your Beach Body, Fast
    The last few years have seen a worrying trend... read more
  • Best Fat Burning Foods for Weight Loss
    Losing weight is a major challenge for most pe... read more

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