Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

It’s finally summertime!  By which I mean it hasn’t rained in at least, what, like 24 hours?  And we’ve even had some sunshine and heat!  Which means it’s time to drink some water!  The usual recommendation is 8 glasses/ day, but anywhere from 6-10 glasses is a good idea.

Some benefits to staying hydrated are:

*clearer skin

*lower caloric intake

*improved digestion

*less muscle fatigue

*increased alertness

And here are some tips for getting more water into your system:

*Have a glass with every meal

*Carry a water bottle around with you to remind yourself to drink

*If you can’t stand the thought of another glass of water, eat some fruits and veggies.  Watermelon and canteloupe are especially high in fluids, but any fruit or veggie will help you stay hydrated.

*Add lemon slices, cucumber slices or fresh berries to your water for a tasty change from plain water without the calories of a soda.

And don’t forget to track your water intake – 200 fluid ounces/ month is good for 3 wellness points in the library’s wellness challenge!

Here are a few links with more infomration:

WebMD’s article on why to drink more water

More Reasons to drink more water

12 Tips to drink 8 cups a day

Habits of Happy People

I consider myself to be a pretty happy person, but until I came across an Apartment Therapy post on 5 unexpected things happy people have in their homes it hadn’t occurred to me to think about what exactly it is in my life that makes me happy or what I could do to make myself happier.  So, being a good researcher, I Googled it, and here’s what I found.  (Sources below.)

Happy people…

Cultivate relationships (especially in-person)

Recognize and appreciate when things go well (even the little things)

Spend some of their time giving back or volunteering

Step away from the screen and unplug from time to time

Invest time in a spiritual practice

Surround themselves with happy people

Move their bodies

Pursue experiences instead of things

For more, check out:

The Huffington Post’s list of “Habits of Supremely Happy People”

Time Magazine’s “6 Secrets You Can Learn From the Happiest People On Earth”

And, to get your days off to a good start: “10 Morning Habits of Happy People”

What makes you happy?

Homeopathic headache remedies

I will admit to researching this selfishly, as I’m fighting off a headache at this very moment.  (The causes of my headaches are named Jack and Samuel and are 2 1/2 and 9 months respectively.  Neither was content to sleep in his own bed last night, which means that what sleep I did get was on the 4″ at the very edge of the mattress and was rather tense since I was trying not to fall off the bed onto the hardwood floor.  But I digress.)

 

So, if you, too, suffer from headaches and would prefer to try something other than over-the-counter meds for them, here are some ideas:

Water: Headaches can be caused by dehydration, so drinking a tall glass of water or two is a great place to start.

Scalp massage and accupressure: With your fingers, rub your scalp, particularly at the base of your skull over the greater occipital nerve.  Here’s more information on massaging away a headache.  Accupressure on your hands or feet may also help relieve the pain of a headache by stimulating the pressure points associated with your head and neck.  Here is a great site describing the various pressure points that can help with a migraine, and below is a chart showing the areas of the hands that are associated with the various body parts.  Massage the tips of your fingers and the pads of your thumbs to relieve a headache.

Aromatherapy:  Peppermint, lavender and basil essential oils can all help with a headache, as can cilantro, rosemary, cardamom and patchouli.  Apply a drop to your temples or the back of your neck, mist them from a spray bottle of water or diffuse the oils in the room to help with your headache.  This website describes aromatherapy techniques and specific blends that are helpful for headaches.

Diet: If you suffer from frequent headaches, try keeping a food log.  Research has suggested that certain foods (dairy, peanut butter, processed meats and certain fruits like bananas and avocados among others) may trigger headaches in some people.  Keep track of what you are eating for a few days, note any foods that you eat prior to a headache and consider avoiding them.  Read on for more information.  Headaches can also be caused by inflamation, which can be alleviated by eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax seed and fish, among other things.)  Fish oil has been studied as a treatment for recurrent migraines.

Obviously this is only scratching the surface of homeopathic headache remedies, but it’s a good start.  I’m sure you’re dying to know what I did about my headache just now, so I’ll tell you.  I use a combination of accupressure on my hands and around my eyes and essential oils (I have a headache blend that I keep in my purse).  I smell like wintergreen, peppermint and cilantro right now, but my headache is much better.

What is your go-to headache cure?

 

 

 

Benefits of sunshine

It’s spring!

(Pay no attention to yesterday’s random snowstorm.  It’s still spring!)

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In case you need a reason to get out in the sunshine, here are some interesting facts about the benefits of soaking up some sun.

Sunlight fights stress by boosting seratonin levels.

It prompts your body to produce vitamin D, which helps prevents bone density loss, can help prevent some types of cancers, and may curb the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Sounds good, right?  But what about skin cancer?

Robyn Lucas, a researcher with Australian National University, suggests that we may do more harm than good by recommending that people avoid the sun.  That being said, for fair-skinned people less than 15 minutes of unprotected summertime sun exposure per day is plenty to produce a healthy amount of vitamin D, with 15-20 minutes sufficing for dark-skinned people.  Be sure to get your daily 15 minutes in the sun and then lather up with some sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) if you will be out for longer.

Need some ideas for things to do outside?

Take a walk (bring the dog, the kids, the significant other, the neighbors…)

Plant and tend a garden (we have a seed library, after all!)

Cookout

Ride a bike

Take a picnic to Dawes Arboretum

Workout at the outdoor gym at Rotary Park

Powerwash your house

Read a book

Mow the grass

Lawn games (croquet, frisbee, badminton)

Swing on the swings on the playground

Or, you know, just read that book 🙂

 

Substitutes for unhealthy ingredients in recipes

It’s finally almost spring!  Which means that I am finally emerging from my armor of heavy wool sweaters and starting to think about trying to look decent in shorts again.  One fairly painless way to make better choices is to substitute healthy ingredients for the not-so-healthy ones in recipes you make at home.

Healthy Substitutes- No Diets Allowed
Click on this picture to visit an A-Z guide on healthy subsitutions

offthegridnews.com has a list of substitutions, most of which I have tried and can vouch for.  (It’s also a great website to keep in your back pocket if you are a survivalist or prepper for the zombie apocalypse, although I suppose you’d better memorize the information since the power grid will probably be the first thing to go.  Also, I don’t know how they think we’re going to get avocados in Ohio post-apocalypse, but whatever.)

Some of their suggestions:

Sugar => unsweetened applesauce (1:1 ratio)

Sour cream => Greek yogurt

Mayonnaise => mashed or pureed avocado

More ideas if you click through to this website

 

The Mayo Clinic has a list of suggestions that seemed pretty reasonable to me, including:

Canned fruit in syrup => frozen fruit or canned fruit in water or its own juice

1/2 the all-purpose flour in a recipe => whole wheat flour

Iceberg lettuce => darker greens such as kale or spinach

2/3 meat in a soup or cassarole recipe => extra veggies

Soy sauce => hot mustard or sweet and sour sauce

Syrup => pureed fruit

They lost me with the substitutes for bacon, though.  There is no substitute for bacon.

 

The Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is probably the most common health recommendation and the most commonly ignored.  Who has time to sleep for eight hours?

This is kind of a wishful thinking post for me, since I have a six-month old who still isn’t sleeping through the night (*sigh*), but in case you just need some encouragement to turn off the tv, jump in some comfy jammies and snuggle in for a warm winter’s nap, here are some facts about sleep.

Not to be a downer, but according to HealthyPeople.gov, lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  It is also a factor in car accidents, with drowsy drivers responsible for at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths each year in the U.S.

The benefits of sleep are great.  Some, as described by WebMD, are:

1. Better health

2. Better sex (woohoo!)

3. Less pain

4. Lower risk of injury

5. Better mood

6. Better weight control

7. Clearer thinking

8. Better memory

9. Stronger immunity

Sounds good, right?  So how to get those elusive eight hours?

The Mayo Clinic offers these suggestions for getting more and better sleep:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink  (Not too much, not too little.  Limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol.)

3. Create a bedtime ritual to prep your brain for what’s coming (turn off your phone, laptop, tablet, take a hot shower, read a book…)

4. Get comfortable.  (Not too hot, not too cold, not too many visitors in bed (I’m looking at you, kids and dog…))

5. Limit daytime naps

6. Include physical activity in your daily routine

7. Manage stress

Interested in sleep? Or are you like me and just want to daydream about getting it?  Here’s a great article about it from National Geographic for extra credit.  Or check out the magazine and just read it until you fall asleep.