7 Reasons Why Laughter Is Good for You

Con for Care located in Wheaton, IL,  www.comforcare.com/illinois/central-dupage, asks if you have had a good laugh lately? Laughter connects people, eases trouble and makes the day brighter. It releases stress, activates learning, burns calories and supports memory. In short, laughter is good for you.
Why is laughter so beneficial? Here are seven reasons:
  1. Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being. It even relieves pain.
  2. Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding.
  3. Laughter improves short-term memory. Research at Loma Linda University revealed older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. The researchers report laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. Making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
  4. Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show laughter has brain effects similar to meditation.
  5. Laughter burns calories. While laughter alone isn’t an aerobic workout, it requires more energy than sitting still. A Vanderbilt University study
    reported episodes of laughter use 10 to 20 percent more energy than sitting in a reclining position. The duration and intensity of the laugh affect the amount of calories used. The energy expended laughing is comparable to sedentary activities such as light clerical work or playing a card game.
  6. Laughter makes exercise fun. Laughter both strengthens and relaxes muscles. According to a recent study, combining laughter with a physical activity program emphasizing strength, balance and flexibility improves older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance, confidence and motivation. “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” Celeste Greene, lead author of the study, said.
  7. Laughter fosters relationships. Telling a joke might open the door to new relationships. An Oxford University study found when participants who did not know each other had good laugh together, they shared significantly more personal information. The research supports the premise laughter encourages relationship development.

7 Reasons Why Laughter Is Good for You

ComForCare, located at211 E. Illinois St., Wheaton, IL, helps clients live their best life possible. Their in-home care includes meaningful activities that combine companionship, reminiscence, stimulation and laughter. Here’s a sample of some of the great advise they love to share:

Had a good laugh lately? Laughter connects people, eases trouble and makes the day brighter. It releases stress, activates learning, burns calories and supports memory. In short, laughter is good for you.
Why is laughter so beneficial? Here are seven reasons:
  1. Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being. It even relieves pain.
  2. Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding.
  3. Laughter improves short-term memory. Research at Loma Linda University revealed older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. The researchers report laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. Making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
  4. Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show laughter has brain effects similar to meditation.
  5. Laughter burns calories. While laughter alone isn’t an aerobic workout, it requires more energy than sitting still. A Vanderbilt University study
    reported episodes of laughter use 10 to 20 percent more energy than sitting in a reclining position. The duration and intensity of the laugh affect the amount of calories used. The energy expended laughing is comparable to sedentary activities such as light clerical work or playing a card game.
  6. Laughter makes exercise fun. Laughter both strengthens and relaxes muscles. According to a recent study, combining laughter with a physical activity program emphasizing strength, balance and flexibility improves older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance, confidence and motivation. “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” Celeste Greene, lead author of the study, said.
  7. Laughter fosters relationships. Telling a joke might open the door to new relationships. An Oxford University study found when participants who did not know each other had good laugh together, they shared significantly more personal information. The research supports the premise laughter encourages relationship development.

Diabetes More Common Among Children

Monifa Thomas wrote for the Cook County Health & Hospitals System that type 2 diabetes used to be rare among children and teens younger than 18. But as a recent study highlighted, that is no longer the case.

The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study , funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes increased by 4.8 percent between 2002 and 2012, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in April.

In the United States, 29.1 million people are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and about 208,000 people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes.

“That young people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a higher rate is concerning, because diabetes can lessen a person’s quality of life and shorten their life expectancy,” said Dr. Denise Cunill, a pediatrician and medical director at Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s Logan Square Health Center.

Though a reason for the increase in type 2 diabetes wasn’t analyzed in the SEARCH study, it is believed to be tied to the high rates of childhood obesity in the United States. The percentage of children with obesity in America has more than tripled since the 1970s, and today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity, according to the CDC .

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels, and it is often associated with being overweight or obese.

Read more

5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight, 20 Minutes at a Time

Paige Smitha freelance health and lifestyle writer, editor and perpetual optimist from Southern California wrote for My Fitness Pal that committing to losing weight is a big enough challenge on its own, and even more challenging if you have a jam-packed schedule. You may think you need to block off a big chunk of time to hit the gym or cook meals from scratch, but that’s not the case. Even if you have just 20 minutes to spare, you can use that time to stay active, dial in your diet and make serious progress.

 

Try these five 20-minute activities to conquer your weight-loss goals.

1. DO A HIIT WORKOUT

If you only have 20 minutes a day to exercise, ACE-certified personal trainer Amanda Dalesays you should focus on HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. Add resistance by using weights, kettlebells or resistance bands.

“Working in high-intensity intervals burns fat faster than working at a steady-state intensity,” says Dale echoing many studies, “and the afterburn effect of working out at high intensity means you’ll burn more calories after the workout as well.”

2. STOCK UP ON HEALTHY STAPLES AT THE MARKET

A good grocery store haul can simplify your meal prep process and help you make smart food choices day in and day out.

Dietitian Kimberly Gomer, director of nutrition at Miami’s Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa,recommends buying whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. “Stock up on fruits, veggies, whole grains [like] oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice, plant protein [such as] beans and lentils, egg whites, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and some salmon and chicken breast,” she says.

It’s also important to pick up easy, nutrient-rich snack foods to help manage your appetite throughout the day, according to dietitian Cara Harbstreet of Street Smart Nutrition. Think: fresh fruit, raw nuts and protein bars.


READ MORE > YOUR QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO CREATING A CALORIE DEFICIT


3. GO FOR A WALK AFTER LUNCH

Carve out an extra 20 minutes during your afternoon break to get moving. “Taking a walk after a meal won’t necessarily negate [your] calorie intake,” says Dale, “but it can [increase] the rate at which food moves through [your] stomach, resulting in lower blood sugar,” which, in turn, helps stabilize your appetite and reduce cravings.

4. PREP DINNER INGREDIENTS FOR THE WEEK

Planning your dinners in advance is a foolproof way to ensure you’re eating nutritious, satisfying meals each night. Harbstreet recommends preparing your main ingredients first, whether that means roasting veggies, cooking a batch of quinoa or making salad dressing. “Then, when it comes time to reheat and serve, I [just] add my favorite toppings, seasonings and spices so I can avoid boredom with the same foods,” she says. Check out our Beginners Guide to Meal Planning for more info.

5. ADD INTERVALS TO YOUR CARDIO

Your cardio workout doesn’t have to be a long slog to be effective, according to Dale. To get your heart rate up and simultaneously burn more fat, experiment with a progressive interval workout. “Instead of running 20 minutes at a 6.0 speed” for example, she says, “try running one minute at 9.0 and walking 30 seconds at 4.0, progressively adding 10 seconds to the running and recovery times until you’ve reached 20 minutes.” For more details, we recommend this short treadmill workout.

If running isn’t your favorite form of cardio, you can incorporate intervals like these into a cycling, swimming or jump-roping workout for the same effect.

 

Combo of smaller meds may just be the dose to lower blood pressure

The American Heart Association posted that combined smaller doses of blood pressure medications may be effective with fewer side effects than standard single doses, according to preliminary research.

In the first review to compare quarter-dose therapy to standard dose and placebo, researchers found that two medications in combination was just as effective as one standard dose of blood pressure-lowering medication. They also found that four medications in combination, each at a quarter dose, was nearly twice as effective as one standard dose.

The side effects from single and dual quarter-dose therapies were about the same as from placebo and much less than from a standard dose of a single antihypertensive medication, researchers said. There was little information on side effects for the quadruple quarter dose therapy.

“Widespread control of blood pressure is generally low, even in high-income countries,” said Anthony Rodgers, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., professor at The George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “Because high blood pressure is so common and serious, even small improvements in management can have a large impact on public health.”

Each class of high blood pressure medications has different possible side effects, including weakness, dizziness, insomnia, headache and muscle cramps.

Researchers analyzed and compared results from 42 trials involving 20,284 people with high blood pressure on various doses of medications or taking no medication.

The review included many different types of medications from the five main classes of drugs to treat hypertension, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blocker and thiazides.

While low-dose combinations for blood pressure control is promising, there still isn’t enough research to warrant a change in how doctors prescribe blood pressure-lowering therapies and only a few low dose combinations are available, researchers said.

“This new approach to treatment needs more research before it can be recommended more widely,” Rodgers said. “The findings have not yet been tested in large long-term trials. People should not reduce the doses of their current medications.”

The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

Top 5 Nutrients to Boost Men’s Health

 

Jennifer McGrath, L.Ac., Dipl.OM  at 1S132 Summit Ave. Ste 105c in Oakbrook Terrace, IL  shared that Men have different nutritional requirements than women, due to their unique physiology. These are the five key nutrients for men’s health to keep in mind when planning that next meal.

Magnesium
Magnesium plays a key role in many important bodily functions, including the immune system, energy production, digestion and nerve and muscle activity. A man lacking in magnesium may experience painful muscle spasms and cramps, anxiety, lethargy, or an irregular heartbeat. To stave off these symptoms of magnesium deficiency incorporate dark leafy vegetables, yogurt, bananas, black beans or almonds into your daily diet.

Another way your body can absorb magnesium is through a soothing foot bath or a soak in the tub with Epsom salt. The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt will penetrate through the skin as you relax. A couple tablespoons are all that is required for a foot bath, and about a cup is recommended for the bathtub.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because the skin produces it when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium, which in turn contributes to strong teeth and bones. This nutrient also provides some protection against cancer. Foods high in Vitamin D include fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, cheese, and mushrooms

Vitamin B12
This versatile vitamin is responsible for red blood cell production, DNA production, bone health and maintaining the cardiovascular system. It is necessary for certain neurological functions and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Foods high in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, red meat, cheese, eggs, yogurt and milk.

There are no plant-based options rich in B12, so those on a vegan diet may want to consider adding fortified cereals, nutritional yeast or supplements in order to reach their daily requirements of vitamin B12.

Potassium
This nutrient serves many vital functions to keep the body healthy and strong. It delivers nourishment into the cells and removes toxins and waste products from them. Potassium also maintains the balance between the fluids and electrolytes in the body and is responsible for nerve health and muscle contraction. A lack of potassium can cause a host of symptoms including nausea, muscle cramping and heart palpitations. Potassium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, potatoes (with the skin on), squash, yogurt, bananas, white beans, and mushrooms.

Iodine
Iodine is a trace mineral that helps convert food into energy. It also plays a significant role in thyroid health and has the job of producing thyroid hormones. Consuming inadequate amounts of iodine can cause memory problems, weight gain, muscle fatigue, persistent tiredness and feeling cold.
Foods with plenty of iodine in them include kelp, hiziki, kombu, yogurt, seafood (such as cod, sea bass and haddock), cheese, potatoes, navy beans, cranberries and strawberries.

Are You Getting Enough Iron?

Jenny Sugar from POPSUGAR  shared that if  you get plenty of sleep and you’re not catching a cold, yet lately you feel run-down, have crazy headaches, and can’t focus at work, it may have something to do with how much iron you’re getting in your diet.

An adult woman should aim for 18 milligrams of iron a day, and if you’re not reaching this goal, you may have anemia, an iron deficiency. Our bodies need iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen. If your cells aren’t getting oxygen, that explains the tired, foggy head. You may also notice pale skin, brittle nails, and cold hands.

You may be at risk for low levels of iron if you tend to have heavy periods, are pregnant, or just had a baby. Other at-risk individuals include endurance athletes, vegans, and individuals who donate blood frequently or have a condition that makes it hard to absorb nutrients from food. You can take iron supplements, but they may cause an upset stomach, heartburn, or constipation, so it’s best to get your iron from food. Check out the list below to see which foods contain the most iron so you can be sure to get your fill.

 

FOOD AMOUNT IRON (MG)
Apricot, dried 1/2 cup halves 1.2
Artichoke 1 medium 0.7
Asparagus, cooked 1/2 cup 0.8
Barley, cooked 1 cup 2.1
Beans (garbanzo) 1/2 cup 1.6
Beans (kidney) 1/2 cup 2
Beans (lima) 1/2 cup 2.3
Beans (pinto) 1/2 cup 1.8
Broccoli, cooked 1/2 cup 0.5
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 0.8
Cashews 1/4 cup 2
Cashew butter 2 tbsp. 1.6
Egg 1 large 0.7
Flaxseed, ground 1 tbsp. 0.4
Fortified cereal such as Wheat Chex 3/4 cup 13.5
Ground beef 1 patty 1.9
Kale, raw 1cup 1.1
Lentils 1/2 cup 3.3
Molasses 1 tbsp 0.9
Oats 1 cup 3.4
Oysters, cooked 3 oz 10.2
Peanuts 1/4 cup 0.6
Peanut butter 2 tbsp. 0.6
Pine nuts 1/4 cup 1.9
Potatoes, with the skin 1 small 1.5
Pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup 5.2
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 2.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 0.8
Salmon 3 oz. 0.9
Shrimp, cooked 3 oz. 2.6
Soybeans (edamame) 1/2 cup 1.8
Spinach, raw 1 cup 0.8
Steak 3 oz. 3.2
Sun-dried tomatoes 1/4 cup 1.2
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 1.8
Sunflower seed butter 2 tbsp. 1.6
Tofu, extra firm 1/2 block 4.3
Turkey (dark meat) 3 oz. 2.1

 

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
Product Credit: Fleur du Mal Bra, Underwear + Robe

 

FERTILITY: A Natural, Proven Approach

West Suburban Wellness cordially invites followers of the Healthy Lombard Blog to attend a natural fertility workshop on June 19th at 7 pm at The Corner House, 100 West Saint Charles Road, in Lombard, IL  Coffee, Tea & Light Buffet will be served. Partners, significant others and guests are welcome!

 

At this workshop you will learn:

• The top 5 reasons why couples struggle to conceive

• How to work with the natural signs of fertility your body gives you

• Strategies to improve fertility without the use of hormone therapy

• Healthy lifestyle strategies to improve health & optimize fertility

• What every woman needs to know to carry pregnancy to term

To register for this event, just click here.

The speaker is Mom-to-Be, Dr Carolyn Spadafino, first fell in love with holistic health at an early age when she learned that the body is a self-healing, self-regulating organism that needs no help-just no interference. At a young age, she had several female issues, including irregular and painful cycles. After trying conventional treatment for years, she turned to natural health care and noticed how her issues quickly resolved. Due to the improvements she had at a young age and the success with female issues, it became her passion to specialize in women’s and children’s health. After receiving her doctorate in 2012, she received her Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (DICCP), a 3 year post-doctoral degree uniquely qualifying her as a pediatric and prenatal specialist. She is also a certified Wellness Practitioner and a certified Billings Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning Instructor. She has worked with many couples in the area of natural fertility, helping them achieve pregnancy, and has benefited from it personally.

Fasting: Healthy or dangerous?

The Healthy Driven Life Blog shared that  sometimes, when life gets really busy, people skip lunch. Or breakfast.

Most people don’t do this every day, though. When you’re used to eating three square meals a day, skipping one can leave you feeling, well, hangry.

Eating regular, healthy meals is important. And no one likes a grumbling tummy. But, even with the physical discomfort of hunger, research shows that calorie restriction or intermittent fasting could actually be good for you.

Fasting, generally, is going for short stretches of time without eating. Up to 12 hours, typically. Some people eat small meals during a fasting day, some forgo food altogether starting after dinner until lunch the next day.

At first glance, it sounds like a weight-loss gimmick or fad diet. In reality, fasting or calorie restriction can help with weight loss – but it also helps keep you healthy on a deeper level.

Something interesting happens to your body’s cells when you fast intermittently.

Research suggests that restricting calories or straight-up fasting for 10-12 hours gives your cells time to regenerate. That means your cells stay “younger.” Other studies have found that fasting helps your body regulate its blood sugar levels and may reduce the “bad” cholesterol in your body.

Intermittent fasting could help you lose weight or maintain a certain weight by eating significantly fewer calories on fasting days, then eating a healthy amount of calories on non-fasting days.

It’s important not to go overboard with fasting. Going more than 24 hours without food is not healthy. But research suggests that going for briefer periods without food, 12-18 hours even, on an intermittent basis (such as every other day) could help keep your health on track.

If you’re interested in fasting or calorie restriction, talk to your doctor about it before taking the plunge.

Know when to ice or heat an injury

Bradley Dunlap, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute who has been treating elite-level hockey players since 2009 shared in the Daily Herald Newspaper that as an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, one of the questions I get asked the most is: “Should I use heat or ice to treat an injury?”

With warmer weather drawing bicyclists, runners and walkers outdoors, now is a good time to set the record straight. Understanding how heat and ice work on the body may serve as a useful guide as to which to use.

Ice is a potent vasoconstrictor. This means the blood vessels shrink in size and less blood flow reaches the injured area. Some studies have shown ice to be as effective as post-surgical medications for pain control. It should be used if the area is swollen or bruised. In the case of a joint injury, initially applying ice always is the answer. The initial swelling around joints related to an injury of our ligaments, tendons or cartilage not only hurts, but prolongs our feeling of stiffness and alters our gait. The ultimate time to return to full sport activity, therefore, will indirectly be related to the initial swelling.

When it comes to icing, it’s good to remember the helpful acronym R.I.C.E. — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Stop doing activities that are causing you pain; ice in intervals of 10 to 20 minutes at least three times per day; wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage — tight but not too tight; and elevate whenever you can. Try this for two to three days after an injury — if you don’t notice an improvement, see a doctor as soon as you can. In cases where your knee or ankle immediately balloons up, seek orthopaedic attention.

Heat serves as a muscle relaxer. Heat vasodilates, or opens blood vessels in our muscles and soft tissues. The increased blood flow seems to promote a healing response. It can reduce tightness and help quell spasms and soreness while carrying oxygen and nutrients to the injury.

Heat, unlike ice, isn’t so cut and dry. Muscles are a different beast than joints, and there is less of a one-size-fits-all solution, particularly when it comes to necks and backs. Heat will generally penetrate to the deep muscles better than ice, but sometimes ice will also be beneficial for strains, sprains and tweaks.

The presence of substantial bruising in a fresh muscle injury may indicate an active bleed, and in this scenario it is helpful to initially ice to minimize the amount of bleeding in the injured area.

Similar to icing, heating should be done in intervals of 10 to 20 minutes at least three times per day. This typically is done for two to three days following a mild muscle injury. As the injury feels better, it often is helpful to apply heat to the area before stretching. If the injury persists, seek medical care immediately.

No study conclusively has shown superiority of ice versus heat. If you seek medical attention, remember to ask your doctor which modality applies best to your injury. It’s important to listen to your body both during and after application of ice and/or heat. No one knows what is helping and what is potentially hurting better than you.