Most people who work in office jobs spend the majority of their day sitting with few breaks. In fact, a new study in the British Sports Journal found that 65-70% of office working hours are spent sitting at a desk, especially for prolonged periods of time. The investigators published a consensus statement recommending that desk workers engage in standing and light activity for two hours a day with a goal of reaching four hours per day. This is because research suggests that prolonged sitting leads to an increased incidence of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and mental health disorders. It is important to promote more active work environments, where workers can stand while talking with co-workers or on while they are on the phone. One way to do this is to change the layout of offices, as they have done in Scandinavia, where 90% of office workers have sit-stand workstations. Until such stations become widespread in our society, workers should be sure to take breaks to stretch, to correct their posture, and to move around.
What is Berberine and where is it found?
Berberine is a naturally occurring alkaloid chemical found in certain plants, such as goldenseal, goldthread, phellodendron, Oregon grape, and tree tumeric. It has frequently been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicines for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and sedative effects plus its beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
What are the benefits?
Berberine has been shown to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels with people with diabetes and lowering cholesterol levels for those with hypercholesterolemia. Some people also use berberine to treat burns, obesity, diarrhea, congestive heart failure, and osteoporosis.
Are there interactions with food or medications?
Consult a doctor if you are on diabetic or blood lowering medication and want to take berberine. No interactions with food known.
Are there side effects?
It is not safe for newborns or pregnant women since it might cause brain damage to the baby or fetus.
There is a great deal of controversy on the best way for someone to lose weight. According to Today Health, there are 6 signs you may experience which demonstrate that your diet isn’t working: 1) irritability/hangriness 2)lightheadedness/headaches 3) dehydration 4) GI disturbances 5)cravings 6)weight gain. In order to truly lose weight and be healthy, forgo the quick fad diets which promise weight loss in a short period of time and aim for changing your eating patterns and behaviors so that your new eating becomes a way of life. Aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week and remember that plateaus will occur.
Spinning has become all the rage, with spin studios like Soul Cycle and Fly Wheel opening up exponentially. Indoor cycling is a great low impact cardiovascular workout that increases both strength and endurance. However, as with any exercise program, it is important for the cycling enthusiast to make sure she/he is burning calories efficiently while simultaneously decreasing the risk for injury. And, as with many other routines, it can be too much of a good thing.
Proper alignment and biomechanics are the most important part of spinning effectively. Form starts with ensuring that the bike is set up correctly. First, make sure the seat height is correct by clipping your feet into the pedals (or putting your feet in the toe cages) and rotating your feet until one leg reaches the bottom. You should have a 25-35 degree bend in that leg when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. It is common for people to sit too low, which can be dangerous for ligaments and joints. After adjusting the height of the seat, the seat needs to be adjusted fore-aft. The idea is to have your kneecap directly above the center of the pedal or when both pedals are level with each other, so that the front of your knee is right in line with the ball of your foot when the pedal is farthest forward. Lastly, the handlebars should be set so it is comfortable for your back and neck. A new cyclist should raise the handlebars to take the stress off his/her back or neck. However, those with a stronger core and lower back can lower the handlebars.
Form on the bike is also extremely important to avoid injury. Because cycling is a non-impact exercise, it might take longer for injuries to present themselves, and our goal is to prevent recurrent stress to the body. Make sure the balls of your feet are directly over the pedal and do not lock out your knees. In fact, your knees should be slightly bent towards the center of the bike. Also, try to pull up with your legs instead of only pushing down.
Keep your head high and look in front of you at the road ahead to keep your neck aligned. Further, if you keep your abs tight, you can strengthen your core and help maintain your hips in proper alignment over the pedals. Additionally, it is important to keep your upper body relaxed; the handlebars are meant for balance and you should not be leaning too far forward or using your upper body to support your weight. You do not want to feel sore or tight in the forearms or triceps. As far as upper body movements on the bike, keep in mind that leaning while clipped in puts a lot of stress on the hip and knee joints and increases the risk for injury.
When biking out of the saddle, be sure to add resistance to the wheel to maintain balance from seated to standing. Also, your hips should be back on the saddle so your butt is only 1-2 inches above the nose of your saddle to ensure you are using your legs. Also, keep your upper body as still as possible with as little swinging or bouncing on the pedal to focus on core and leg muscles. You don’t want to pedal too fast or too slow; if you pedal too fast without the proper resistance, you will start bouncing in your seat and if you pedal too slowly you will be inefficient. It is more important to focus on intensity than on leg speed.
To maximize your workout, what you do off the bike is just as important and what you do on the bike. Resistance training to strengthen your core, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and back is extremely important to maintain proper form on the bike. The goal is to use exercises with a similar motion to cycling with lower and upper body while simultaneously increasing muscular endurance and core strength. Lack of glute strength is a major cause of muscle injury. Planks, lunges, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and rows are all good exercises to utilize to improve your spinning experience.
Don’t forget to stretch! Don’t rush out of the studio after class; the two to three minutes of stretching is the bare minimum necessary to prevent injury. Spin classes can leave you feeling tight and sore, and stretching helps prevent muscle soreness by increasing blood and nutrient supply to the muscle and improving flexibility. Concentrate on the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, calves and hips. Spinning causes a tight psoas, which causes back pain and discomfort.
Moderation and diversity are key to any exercise program. Spinning 5-7 days a week will undoubtedly lead to repetitive stress on the same muscles and joints since your body is in the same position doing the same motions. Injuries caused from spinning range from lower back pain due to tight hip flexors and knee pain due to imbalances in surrounding muscles.
Spinning can be a fun and effective part of any exercise program. If you do choose to spin, be sure to complement it with other exercises, especially those that strengthen the core and glutes. To be truly fit and functional, remember proper form on the bike, muscle strengthening, stretching, and changing up your exercise routine.
What is L-Theanine and where is it found?
L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea and in some types of mushrooms. L-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and positively affect brain chemistry and modulate mood. Its chemical structure is similar to the amino acid, glutamate, and it acts as a glutamate antagonist to suppress glucocorticoids, which are stress hormones that negatively affect mood and memory.
What are the benefits of L-theanine?
L-theanine is used to treat anxiety and high blood pressure, and it is also used to prevent dementia. L-theanine has also been shown to have immunological effects and boost the body’s response to infection.
L-Theanine also helps reduce alcohol damage to the liver by helping to restore glutathione, which is the liver’s all-purpose antioxidant and detoxifier. Glutathione is also important for cancer patients because a depletion of glutathione may cause chemotherapy toxicity. L-theanine may prevent drug-induced losses of glutathione in some vital organs, such as the heart. Additionally, glutathione may block tumors from getting glutathione, and therefore increase the effective of certain cancer drugs. L-theanine helps restore balance.
Are there interactions with food or medications and L-theanine?
L-theanine may inhibit the stimulating effects of caffeine-containing herbs and supplements. Consult a doctor before taking it with other drugs or herbs for hypertension.
Are there side effects from L-theanine?
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There is no one “perfect” way to lose weight, as the vast array of different diet books will show. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition emphasized that it is not just about the total amount of calories consumed. Instead, the types of foods you eat contributed to weight loss and weight gain, especially as we age. In fact, foods with a higher glycemic load contributed to more weight gain. Additionally, the quality of the protein consumed was also important. It is best to to eat a balanced, varied diet and to remember that avoiding a few “bad foods” will not prevent weight gain and no one specific food will melt the pounds away. Focus on choosing vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, nuts and good fats, such as olive oil.
According to the Commerce Department, this March, consumer spending was higher in restaurants than in grocery stores for the first time ever. This is especially true for the younger population, since dining out is seen as a social event. This trend could be dangerous, since calorie and portion control is much harder to do away from home. Additionally, alcoholic intake is higher in bars and restaurants than in the home, leading to a wide range of possible health problems in the future.
A new study published in Preventive Medicine found that family stressors, specifically financial problems, a mother’s poor health, and family disruption, may increase teens’ obesity and being overweight. Boys and girls responded differently; boys weight increased more when the stressors involved their mother’s poor health, while girls weight status was linked more with finances and family disruption.
Most weight programs focus on diet and exercise, and do not take stress or family situation into consideration. This study shows that these programs may need to be broader and include more social services, such as helping families find access to mental health programs, financial assistance or family counseling.
What is ginger and where is it found?
Ginger is an herb with numerous therapeutic qualities including the ability to decrease inflammation. It has antioxidant properties and has been shown to be effective in alleviating gastrointestinal distress. The stem (rhizome) can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as a juice or oil. Not only is ginger used as a medicine, but ginger is also used as a spice and as a flavoring agent in the food and drink industry. Additionally, ginger is often an ingredient in fragrances and cosmetics.
What are the benefits?
Ginger is used to treat morning sickness, motion sickness, dizziness, osteoarthritis, and nausea and vomiting after surgery and from cancer treatment. Ginger is also utilized for decreased appetite, stomach upset, colic, flatulence, and the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Some people take ginger to treat chest and back pain, menstrual pain, muscle soreness, and migraine headaches. Topically, the juice can be used to treat thermal burns while the oil is used as an analgesic.
Are there interactions with food, medications or herbal supplement?
Caution should be taken with medications that slow blood clotting, like warfarin. Additionally, there may be minor interactions with antidiabetes drugs and medications for high blood pressure. Consult with a doctor before starting ginger.
Are there side effects?
Side effects are rare but may include abdominal discomfort, heartburn, diarrhea, mouth irritation, and drowsiness.
Have you ever tried to lose weight and found it impossible….even when your diet was perfect and you were exercising like a madman? Well, that’s because weight is not always all about the calories. Sometimes, other factors in our lives, like stress and sleep, affect our ability to lose weight and stay fit.
Stress is defined as your body’s way of responding to any kind of physical, emotional, or mental demand. It is any real or perceived threat to your mind or body. When our bodies are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system slows everything down. Our metabolism decreases, which increases our hunger and increases fat storage Further, blood sugar levels increases and because food isn’t moving properly, we may experience reflux or
Stress also causes hormonal imbalances that affect weight status. It decreases testosterone, which is related to muscle loss and fat increase. Additionally, it increases cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is responsible for stimulating insulin and effecting blood sugar levels, which affects fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Levels of cortisol vary at different times of the day. It is usually highest in the morning to increase appetite and energy levels and lowest at midnight to help sleep and repair. During psychological and physical stress, the normal amount of cortisol in the blood is disrupted and may promote weight gain, especially around the abdomen. This fat around the midsection is typically linked to increased diabetes and heart disease. Increased cortisol is also responsible for increasing cravings for unhealthy food, especially carbohydrates. Increased carbohydrate intake increases insulin, which then stores fat. Additionally, cortisol may decrease sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full. Therefore, increased cortisol is dangerous in 2 ways: it decreases metabolism and increases hunger…both contributing to weight gain.
The most important thing you can do to decrease your stress levels is learn to relax! Relaxing increases your metabolism, increases your insulin sensitivity and helps you lose weight. You can train your body to relax through yoga, meditation, prayer, hypnosis, deep breathing, mindfulness, acupuncture and saunas or steam baths. Adequate sleep is necessary to decrease stress level as a lack of sleep is linked to an increase in cortisol levels. Exercise is also great for stress because it helps the body relax while burning calories. Physical activity helps to keep insulin and blood sugar in control.
Diet is another key factor to controlling stress and weight. In order to decrease insulin production and eventually reduce cortisol levels, it is important to keep your blood sugar levels steady by eating a balanced diet. Never skip breakfast and try to consume six small meals a days with a variety of foods. Avoid refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, which increase insulin and contribute to stress inside the body. There are many supplements you can add to your diet which have been shown to help the stress response. These include B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, vitamin c, vitamin E, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, ginseng, rhodiola, aswaganha, licorice, and passion flower extract.
Don’t get frustrated if you are having trouble reaching your ideal weight. Take a closer look at how stress may be affecting you. If you use the above tips to help mange your stress levels, you may soon find yourself closer to reaching your weight loss goals.