Monday, April 29, 2013

IBS Awareness Month

Irritable bowel syndrome. It's not the most popular water cooler topic at work, is it?  Most people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome are not interested in chatting up the topic at social functions either.
 
But the fact is, if you struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, you are far from alone. It's estimated that somewhere between 9% and 23% of the world’s population has irritable bowel syndrome, and roughly 35 million people in the US alone have irritable bowel syndrome.

Another unfortunate IBS fact is that many who suffer from it don't know they have it, remaining undiagnosed, not even knowing that their symptoms collectively add up to a medically recognized disorder.

For these and other reasons, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in 1997 designated the month of April as IBS Awareness Month, focusing attention on spreading the word about IBS diagnosis, IBS treatment, and quality of life issues for those with irritable syndrome. 

Man with stomach pain


What is irritable bowel syndrome?


IBS is an gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. This chronic condition causes pain, cramping, and bloating in the bowels. Other symptoms include diarrhea or constipation.  Another indicator that you may have irritable bowel syndrome is changes in your bowel function (diarrhea, constipation or both) that persists for months or even years.

Medical science does not yet know the cause of IBS. What they do know is that women are nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with IBS than men. However, the figures for men may actually be higher, since women are statistically more likely to get diagnoses, or seek medical attention, than are men.  Researchers believe that only 30 percent of those with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms ever seek medical attention.

Research also indicates that IBS is one of the most common GI disorders. Even though it is often not reported, it is nonetheless one of the most frequent reasons that people choose to visit their primary care physician or gastroenterologist.


Get help with irritable bowel syndrome


If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, the good news is you are not without solutions. Here are steps you can take to improve your condition and get support:
  • Get a D!  According to the Vitamin D Council, vitamin D supplementation can have a beneficial effect on your IBS symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome is believed to be an autoimmune disease, and research shows that vitamin D is a significant player in developing or maintaining healthy immune function. The Council also states that Vitamin D can help you maintain the balance of a healthy intestinal mucosal barrier, which doesn’t function properly when you have IBS.
  • See your doctor.  There are medications available to ease the pain and irregularity of irritable bowel syndrome that a doctor can prescribe.
  • Change your diet.  Those who have struggled with IBS report that they have been able to greatly improve their irritable bowel syndrome symptoms by modifying their diet.  Certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms.  For example, milk products have known to be problematic for IBS sufferers. By avoiding these foods, you can experience relief from IBS symptoms.
  • Change your lifestyle.  IBS sufferers also report that getting regular exercise and managing your stress level can reduce symptoms.  Other non-medication lifestyle treatments that may help reduce symptoms include relaxation training, yoga, or hypnosis.
  • Get support - Consider participating on the the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group website. This patient-led and patient-governed organization works to help those who suffers from IBS through patient communication, IBS support, and IBS education on symptoms, causes, treatment, and information.
  • Learn about IBS. To increase your knowledge and understanding of irritable bowel syndrome and what you can do about it, visit the IFFGD IBS Awareness Month page, their  Facts about IBS page, IBS Symptoms page, or their IBS Diagnosis page.
The facts on Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Source: Vitamin D Council


Help others with IBS


If you want to help others who are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, consider getting involved in IBS Month efforts. If you don't feel comfortable shouting about it from the rooftops, don't worry – there are still plenty of ways to help:
  • You can print the IBS awareness poster shown above and share it on your workplace bulletin boards, on Facebook, or around your neighborhood. In fact, the International Foundation for Functional Digestive Disorders (IFFGD) has an entire collection of posters on IBS awareness that you can download and share for free here
  • You can also join the Digestive Health Alliance and use your voice or wallet to make a difference.
Make this April – IBS awareness month – the last month that you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome symptoms without diagnosis. See your doctor and take the first steps to finding relief from IBS.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer





Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Go from Couch ‘Tater to Marathon Runner

As we promised in this article and this one, here is a brief guide on how to go from couch potato to distance runner.


Step #1 – kill the excuses


If you really want to take on the challenge of becoming a regular distance runner, and possibly even a marathon runner, there will always be a hundred reasons you can come up with not to do so.  But let's see if we can get you past the three top excuses:
  • "I'm too old."
    Not likely. Read our previous running article and note the age of the oldest marathon runner.  And what could be more inspiring than the story of Bill Iffrig: That Man Who Crumbled to the Ground During the Boston Marathon Bombings.  Just one year shy of 80, he got back up after the bomb blast and walked the remaining 20 feet to finish the marathon in the respectable time of 4:03:47, proving that age is no excuse.
  • "I'm too overweight."
    Again, not likely.  No doubt: someone who is overweight will need to start off more slowly. But if you are overweight, your body is likely to be shedding pounds more quickly when running, just as someone who is carrying a runner’s weight vest would do (Yes, they do make them).  But I have known or met several people that were significantly overweight, and who have either walked or run marathons.
  • "I’m too unhealthy"
    Because you can start easy – perhaps a walk around the block the first time – most people are able to start a running program in spite of health issues.  And given the health benefits of any regular cardio exercise program, the benefits of getting started are worth the challenge. Of course, before starting any exercise program, check with your doctor regarding your overall health and for a consultation on your physical readiness.
Believe in yourself

With excuses out of the way, the next step to a successful distance running goal will ensure your greatest chance of success:

Step # 2 – create a vision


A wise man once said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18).  Though he was not talking about a running program, the statement certainly applies.  If you've never been a runner, you likely cannot envision yourself running even a mile, much less a marathon.  After your first attempt at running more than a block or two, you may find the effort too difficult without a vision of what you expect to achieve by sticking with it.

So, find out what motivates you.  This will be different for everyone.  Maybe it’s health improvement (nearly inevitable with a sustained, graduated running program), or maybe it's midlife crisis – wanting to prove that age is not a barrier to succeeding at a physical challenge. 

Perhaps your motivation to try a marathon can be a shared one. For San Fernando Valley, California, runner Andrea Giese-Sweat, her vision for running came from witnessing the actions of her father, who had taken up distance running first.  Andrea says that, “I would never have started running if I had not decided to train for the LA Marathon with my dad.”

For Ijaz Afzal of Los Angeles, his motivation came from both the social aspects of such an endeavor and the challenge of taking his body to doing greater things.  “For me,” he says, “Taking up marathon running was about  being together with my running friends as we prepared together for the big event and doing something that I felt was both positive and challenging.”

A common motivator for many who take up running later in life is weight loss or physical appearance.  Marathon runner Heather Connan of Southern River, Australia, agrees that such matters as health and weight are largely what got her started into running during midlife.  "That's me alright," she admits. "I didn't want to be fat and 40!"

With that as her motivation, Heather made the commitment to get serious about running.”Eight months after I started running and losing weight, I ran my first half marathon. And then, 10 months later, I ran my first marathon. Now, I am venturing into triathlon and loving it.”  That's the power of creating a vision for yourself.


Step # 3 – graduate to greatness


You may have heard the incredible story of ultra-distance runner Dean Karnazes who, on his 30th birthday and having not run since high school, took off from the party, ran from the bar and into the night …. and did not stop until he had run 30 miles! You may have also heard of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and heart attacks – which is what you might experience if you attempt to go from a sedentary lifestyle into running 30 miles without preparation!  I.e., don’t try it.   Don’t even bother consulting with your doctor first, because no doctor would ever give you the go-ahead. 

Just as you would likely fail in college if you had not first done your time in grades K through 12, you are
Ric Moxley LA Marathon
Author running 2013 Los Angeles
Marathon
likely to fail at distance running if you do not “graduate” into it by putting in the initial walks, then short runs, then longer runs, and so forth, until your body (heart, bones, muscles, and connective tissues) are race-ready.  If a walk around the block is more than you have attempted in years, then feel proud if that is where you start.  Walking is precisely where I started. The walks grew longer and further, eventually mixing in short segments of running. The short segments eventually became longer than the walking segments until, over the period of about five years, I was running marathons.

I talked with distance runners across the globe to learn about their journey from the couch to marathon running.  The graduated progression story is nearly always the same. For example, Sandy Erb of Merced, California (another person who started running in her mid-30s) started as a walker.  "I decided to walk the LA Marathon two months after receiving the gift of an MP3 player, which made my regular walks so much more fun." Sandy reports that, after a while, walking felt too slow, "So I started running, just a block or two at first." Now, as so many others who started gradually, Sandy runs regularly. Those who have stayed with it for years and come to find running to be an addiction, a passion, are those who gradually, sensibly progressed over months or even years.


Step #4 – don’t do it alone


Even though running is generally considered a solo sport,  many runners find the greatest success when they share their running commitment with others. This can be as simple as finding a running partner – perhaps a neighborhood friend who shares your interest in getting in shape. Also, check community listings for running groups in your area that meet weekly. Check with your local running shoe store or sporting goods store, which are often where running groups meet. Other sources for finding running camaraderie include marathon training groups or online running support groups (such as dailymile.com, or do a search for Facebook running groups).

Even when you run alone, you feel part of a brotherhood/sisterhood whenever you pass another runner. In the words of runner Gene Baur, the Cofounder and President of Farm Sanctuary, “When you run by someone and there's a thumbs up or encouragement … it's a brotherhood: a support and an appreciation for the effort we're all making."

Running group
Run with a group to increase your motivation


Step #5 – Make your first race commitment


Signing up for a race makes it real.  Having that date on the calendar helps you stay motivated to continue increasing your mileage capacity – you want to be ready!

Your first race should be something much shorter than a marathon; maybe a 5k (kilometer) or 10k race.  A shorter race will allow you to experience the thrill of the race and the joy of the shared experience without the pressure of an overwhelming distance to conquer at the same time. 

A shorter race also makes a great introduction into the fellowship of running, which can be tremendously motivating.  Frances Rucks of Mountain View, California is a marathoner who only ran her first race a couple years ago.  Though it was a 5k (kilometer) race – about three miles – it proved to be the trigger.  “That's where they get you,” she explains. “Meeting other runners and hearing their stories inspired me to try trail running and then a half marathon. Each time, I always thought that was the furthest I would ever run and ‘why would anyone want to put themselves through the pain of running a full marathon!’”

But she did.  Frances ran her first full marathon in 2012, just two years after her first 5k race.  “I’ve already run two more marathons this year and even a 50k race, and will be capping the year off with a 50 miler.”  She adds, “Running has changed my life in so many ways and I am so grateful that I found it!”

Ijaz Afzal agrees.  “Much of what motives you to consider a marathon is the other runners you meet at your initial shorter distance races who talk about their 26.2-mile achievements. Many of us find that these discussions trigger the desire to try it.”


Step #6 – Make the marathon commitment


After you've completed the five steps to marathon prep, the only thing that remains is the marathon itself.  As with the shorter races, making the commitment by registering for a marathon will solidify your resolve and help you keep your training on target.

Important: the longer the race, the sooner you need to sign up. Preparing your body for the challenge of a marathon is something every runner builds up to. The number of miles you will be running needs to increase gradually and steadily as the marathon date approaches. Most marathon training programs – a good investment, especially for your first marathon – start at least 12 weeks out from the event. So give yourself at least three months to make sure you are physically and mentally prepared.

To find a marathon or other race to sign up for, check out the Runners World Race Finder or Race Place Online.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Get Serious About Laughter–National Humor Month

Warning: Side effects of National Humor Month include laughter, incontinence (ever laugh so hard you peed your pants?), and tears (ever laugh so hard you cried?). Also, be advised that laughter is considered dangerously communicable, often resulting in outbreaks of chuckles and guffaws in others.  It can even be transmitted by computer.  Need proof? Watch the two videos below and see if they don't spread laughter. 



No joke: April is National Humor Month


National Humor Month was started in 1976 by comedian Larry Wilde  to heighten public awareness on the joy and therapeutic value of laughter, and how laughter can improve your health, boost morale, and enrich the quality of your life.  In its 37th year, National Humor Month is now hosted by comedian Steve Wilson, and the movement is more committed than ever to helping us all enjoy life a bit more, thanks to humor.

Humor and health


Is there really a connection between humor and health?  Only if it makes you laugh.

That was a joke. 

But only sort of, because any study that links humor and health is actually linking laughter and health benefits.  So, heed this warning: don’t expect a bad joke to cure what ails you.  But laughter:  that’s a whole different story. 
Laughter is the best medicine … because it’s a lot cheaper!
Physiologically and psychologically speaking, the act of laughing has certain undeniable benefits.  The real kicker: those laughter benefits often mirror the benefits of many pharmaceuticals, but for free – and with fewer negative side effects:  
  • Laughter improves vision? Laughter presents an opportunity to shift your perspective, helping you see difficult or unpleasant situations in a whole new light.  It is also said that humor decreases myopia (near sightedness), as it allows you to step outside yourself to laugh at yourself or a tough situation. 
  • Laughter: anti-anxiety medicine?  In this study, participants from Terra Haute, Indiana, were force-fed humorous videos to the point of raucous laughter, which resulted in reduced stress measurements.  Whether it works outside of Terre Haute is yet to be proven.  
  • Laughter: nature’s psychiatrist? This study suggests that humor can reduce or eliminate undesirable negative emotions.  And, unlike your psychiatrist, humor doesn't charge you by the half hour. 
  • Laughter: HIV medicine? This study shows that mirthful laughter improves NK cell activity, which increases disease resistance and decreases morbidity in those with cancer and HIV disease. 
  • Laughter: a muscle relaxant?  After a hearty belly laugh, your body will experience relief from muscle tension and stress.  The relaxing effect can last up to 45 minutes. Then, just repeat the dosage as needed for further relief.
  • Laughter: an effective pain killer? In one study, humor was shown to help ease the pain in terminally ill patients and encourage the healing process in other patients.
  • Laughter: the legal upper? Doctors tell us that laughter fires off endorphins, which are known as a natural feel-good chemical.  Laughter: take two in the morning and enjoy an overall sense of well-being all day.
  • Laughter: low-cost heart medicine? The act of laughing increases your blood flow and may even improve the function of your blood vessels.  These actions may help protect you from heart disease and heart attacks.
  • Laughter: morphine without addiction? If you want to increase your resistance to pain, try a dose of laughter.  According to this study, the presence of laughter increases pain tolerance. 
  • Laughter: immunity booster shot?  According to scientists, laughter diminishes stress hormones and boosts immune cells, improving your ability to fight disease.
It’s hard to get too much laughter.  With all these benefits linking laughter and health, why not take all the humor you can get this month?


Get some laughs, Give Some Laughs


To spread the word about National Humor Month, download the L.A.U.G.H.T.E.R. Poster, created by comedian Larry Wilde.  The poster uses the word LAUGHTER as an acronym to help you spread the word on the value of laughter.  Posted on your fridge or workplace bulletin board, it’s the perfect laugh evangelism tool.

Also try these tips for spreading a little laughter into the world, or find ways to giggle up a few smiles in your own life:
  • Seek out funny people. Or, at least funny looking people. 
  • Spend a few minutes daily with one of the many online sources for laughter, including YouTube,
  • Dealing with cancer?  Here is a list of sites with humor for and by people with cancer
  • Here’s a workplace laugh maker tickler list of ideas to add a little levity and to improve the mood at your place of business.  Sneak peek at one of the many great ideas there:  organize a “hum-along.” It's hard to be stressed when you're humming. 
  • For Henny Youngman fans, find all Henny Youngman Jokes here, including such classics as “A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.”
  • Check out the huge GCFL.net collection (Good Clean Funnies List), especially their favorite jokes list, sorted and rated by readers.
  • Get jokes for kids at Yahooligans! Jokes.
But don’t stop laughing yet: National Humor Month may be coming to a close soon, but you can keep the comic spirit alive beyond April by taking advantage of the May 4 celebration of Free Comic Book Day. For this one day only, participating comic book shops across the U.S. and around the world will be giving away comic books FREE to anyone who comes into their stores.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Make a Memorable Earth Day and Make a Lasting Difference

Think one person can do little to help the planet?  Think again.  This Earth Day, April 22, you can start something big, and here’s five tips on how. 

Earth Day April 22 2013


But before we dive into some valuable Earth Day tips, let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of Anne Moyne?  Elizabeth Chapman?  Before writing this article: neither had I. But the contributions of these two women to improving the earth's ecology is immeasurable.  How so?
  • Anne Moyne is the woman who raised the famed naturalist James Audubon. 
  • Elizabeth Chapman was the mother of the man we all know as Johnny Appleseed.
Both of these women strongly influenced who these two renowned men became. The point is twofold: first, that one person can in fact make a difference to the condition of the planet (as did James Audubon and Johnny Appleseed) and, second, that many a parent has influenced the world by being a positive example to their children. 

So, if being a world changer sounds too overwhelming, you can still be a world influencer starting right at home.  This Earth Day, consider being an example to your family, to your neighbors, to your co-workers.  While your actions alone may not noticeably improve the health of our planet, the ripple effect of your actions on those with whom you have any influence can have a lasting and positive effect, as can the millions and millions of individual actions undertaken in unity around the globe as a result of efforts such as Earth Day.  Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

Digging a vegetable patch


Tip #1 – Make green things


Two great ways to improve the health of the earth’s atmosphere in your own neighborhood is to start a garden or plant trees. Plants produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis.  Plants also positively influence their surroundings, making the entire area more suitable for growth.

Planting trees or starting gardens are both projects that you can turn into family activities.  Even if you don't have a yard of your own, you can volunteer to plant a tree or start a garden for an elderly neighbor or friend.

Tip #2 – Reduce trash


Challenge your family to make choices that will cut back the amount of non-recyclable household trash. Consider giving them a goal, such as reducing it to just one bag a week.  Some ways to do this:
  • Teach your family how to identify recyclable waste and then commit to using a recycle program at home and in your neighborhood.
  • Find ways to reuse items that would normally get thrown out. For example, an egg carton can be a handy way for planting and germinating seeds.
  • Switch to brands of products that use less packaging – less to throw away!
  • Make more food from scratch to reduce packaging waste.
  • Recycle food scraps by starting a compost pile.
Compost in a wheelbarrow


Tip #3 – Acclimate to planet Earth


Between the heating and air conditioning of our homes, cars, and workplaces, many of us get little more than a swallow of unadulterated earth's atmosphere.  To appreciate the beauty of natural life and develop in your kids an interest in nature, take time to get outdoors and truly experience nature, whether it’s just you (being an example) or making it a family outing.  Ideas include:
  • Eat outdoors once a week.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Instead of grabbing an umbrella, go dance in the rain.
  • Open the windows, and let the outside air into your home.  A recent EPA statistic shows that indoor air quality in homes is up to four times as bad as outdoor air. 
  • Have an outdoor Green Earth party.
  • Read regularly? Get a backpack version of a folding chair, so you can seek out a nice, quiet vista, perhaps along a trail, and read your book or magazine surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Families at a picnic


Tip #4 – Green up your transportation


There are many things you can do to help your family reduce its "carbon footprint," such as:
  • If your town has a good bus or train system, consider making mass transit a family goal to replace some driving.
  • Bike or walk to work instead of driving. You'll not only be reducing harmful emissions by not taking your car, but you'll be doing yourself a great favor healthwise.
  • Carpool yourself and your kids to school, work, or after-school activities. 
  • Consider switching to a hybrid car or electric car, which can substantially reduce emissions.


Tip #5 – Grow your environmental knowledge


Here are some links that you can use to grow your own eco-smarts, as well as your family's knowledge of how to protect the planet.
This Earth Day, make it memorable and fun for your whole family. If you have some tips of your own for creating positive Earth Day experiences, please share it using the comments below.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer


Friday, April 19, 2013

One Foot in Front of the Other - Runners Respond to the Boston Bombing

Purely by coincidence, in the early hours of Monday, April 15, FamilyWize posted the article Where are all these marathon runners coming from?, about the growing phenomenon of people taking up distance running, and even marathon racing, during adulthood. 

Just a few hours later, the horrible tragedy of the now-famous Boston Marathon bombing shook us all.

After the Boston Marathon explosions rocked the race route, an unexpected phenomenon occurred; rather than runners turning away from marathons in fear, runners across the U.S., and even around the globe, united to show their support for the victims of the Boston bombing and to express their determination to not cower in the face of terrorism at one of their most beloved events, but to continue participating in races in spite of it.  Special Facebook pages and Twitter #runforboston threads came alive, buzzing with thousands upon thousands of shared pronouncements of solidarity among the brotherhood and sisterhood of runners. 

Many of the messages runners were sharing online were initially of distress, disbelief, and sorrow. But within a few hours, the messages turned into something powerful. From coast-to-coast, runners shared words of resolve. Of unity. Of a determination to not cower in the face of threats but to stand strong.

Across the globe, runners marked their unity the day after the Boston bombing by wearing to work and around the neighborhoods their race jerseys and finisher’s shirts from previous races. Others chose to wear purple in a public support for Boston.  And large numbers of runners (nearly 26,000 at last check) vowed to run 26.2 miles this month to commemorate the Boston tragedy in a personal way.   

Watching this display of solidarity and patriotism unfold has been moving. If I were not already a runner, I can imagine that experiencing this would make me consider making a running commitment. Perhaps our previous article on running had already gotten you thinking about starting a running effort. Perhaps you've been considering it for a long while. If you have been thinking about taking up running, or upping your running game to marathon races, now may be the time.  With the added motivation of patriotism – of standing strong in the face of terrorism – today may be exactly the right moment to commit to a running plan.

If you’re not ready to show your solidarity and support for the people of Boston by running a marathon, chances are that you are at least ready to commit to the act of putting one foot in front of the other – even if just walking, and even if for short distances. Consider beginning the journey by showing your solidarity with the victims of Boston’s marathon bombing this very month.

You can join the run-for-Boston movement by committing to 26.2 miles in 30 days.  You don't have to do it all in one effort. You can make that commitment by breaking it up in chunks. If you were to walk or run every day in the course of the next 30 days, you could complete your commitment with less than a mile a day.  But a mile a day for 30 days is a terrific way to begin building a healthy habit.

So, let’s talk about getting started.  How do you begin the process of going from couch potato to runner?  And how do you take it from running to racing, maybe even going so far as to joining the half-million-plus individuals running a marathon each year?  To find out, stay tuned for our upcoming article How to Go from Couch ‘Tater to Marathon Runner.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cancer Prevention Starts Now

April is National Cancer Control Month, a time to remember those we have lost to cancer, a time to support to Americans who are working to fight cancer, and a time to increase efforts to advance cancer control and cancer cures.

While progress has  been made in fighting cancer, statistics suggest that 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and a half million will lose their lives in 2013 to cancer.  During the 2013 National Cancer Control Month, we are at a critical moment in the history of cancer research, with many lifesaving discoveries occurring at an accelerated pace.  Yet already this month, I’ve lost a friend to cancer and I have two friends who have also lost loved ones to cancer in the past few weeks.  If you, too, have lost loved ones to cancer, then you no doubt feel the same sense of urgency that I feel – that, until the day when science and medicine are able to cure or prevent malignant cancers of all kinds, we would all be wise to protect ourselves from cancer risk to the degree that it is in our power to do so.  

Calendar reminder for doctor's appointment


Take steps NOW to reduce your cancer risks


You’ve no doubt heard the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This expression is nowhere more relevant than in cancer control and cancer prevention.   According to Cancer.gov, your best defense against cancer is a twofold approach:
  • Make common sense lifestyle decisions to reduce cancer risk.
  • Get cancer screening for early detection.
Fruits and vegetables

What are those common sense steps that you can take can reduce your risk?
  • Avoid tobacco-smoke exposure All types of tobacco significantly heightens your cancer risk. Even being frequently around a smoker puts you at risk of lung cancer. For help and info, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.SmokeFree.gov.
  • Eat a healthy diet
    Many forms of cancer have been linked to unhealthy diets, such as highly processed foods.  The best way to boost your body’s effort to fight off carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer growth in living tissue) in your environment or body, and to avoid ingesting carcinogens, is to get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as minimize alcohol consumption, processed foods, and unhealthy fats. 
  • Exercise regularly Keeping yourself at a healthy weight and keeping your body in shape can go far towards reducing your cancer risk.  Try to get at least a half hour of regular, daily physical activity, but studies show that doing more than 30 minutes of moderate, regular exercise is even better.
  • Go easy on the sun exposure To protect yourself from the risks of skin cancer, limit your sun exposure by staying out of the midday sun – when the dangerous sunrays are their strongest – and use sunscreen when you must be in the sun.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
    A growing body of evidence connects alcohol consumption with cancer. Avoiding alcohol completely is your safest choice, but moderation is your next best precautionary measure.

Sunscreen in the sand

It's also important to attend appropriate and regularly scheduled cancer screenings to ensure their earliest possible detection. Most forms of cancer become harder to treat the further the cancer has progressed in your body.  The sooner a cancer is discovered in your body, the better your odds are of recovery.

Along with regular cancer screenings, certain forms of cancer, such as testicular cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), and breast cancer, can often be detected by performing regular cancer examinations. For more information on cancer self examinations, see:
If you are covered by Medicare, regular cancer screenings with a healthcare professional are likely available to you under the Affordable Care Act at no additional cost. Medicare provides coverage for the following types of cancer screenings:
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical and Vaginal Cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
For more information on cancer and cancer prevention, as well as National Cancer Control Month, see http://www.cancer.gov

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer




Monday, April 15, 2013

Where are all these marathon runners coming from?

If you had told me three years ago that I would be running marathon races – 26.2 miles – I would've laughed at you, or at least thought that you were crazy. But it happened. I have become that crazy. In fact, I've now run three marathons, as well as many shorter races.  The craziest part:  it’s all been accomplished since taking up running just three years ago

And now I have to ask; how about you?  Have you ever thought about what it would be like to run a marathon? Can you picture yourself doing the full 26.2 miles of one?

If you are laughing at me right now, thinking that I must be crazy for even asking that question, you may be in for a surprise.  Is such a monumental physical challenge beyond you?  Consider this as we debunk three common reasons people assume that running is not for them.

Woman running on treadmill


Fallacy #1 – Distance running is for freaks of nature, not me.


Is it really so rare a thing to run a marathon?  No.  More people than ever are taking up marathon racing.  There were a total of 76,000 marathoners in 1976, but 299,000 marathon finishers in 2000.  And in 2011, that number had risen to over a half million!  Not so freaky or uncommon after all. 


Fallacy #2 – “I’m not a natural born runner.”


Au contraire, mon frère.  First, scientific evidence suggests that, as the best-selling book implies in its title, we are, as a species, Born to Run

Second, nearly every marathon runner I've known, and most of the many I’ve interviewed, did not consider themselves physically fit just three years before they ran their first marathon or half marathon (13.1 miles). 

Very few of them were high school track stars.  Few were lifelong runners.  So they obviously were not born into a running lifestyle or habit, but they somehow found the courage and stamina to take up distance running late in life.

Sure, the top runners in most races often have unique physical traits that allow them to become winners, but that doesn’t explain the other 99.99 percent of the runners competing in marathons and half marathons. 


Elderly people runningFallacy #3 – I’m too old to be a runner


How old is too old to run?  Apparently at least 102!  The world’s oldest marathon runner waited until he was 101 before hanging up his running shoes. 

While 101 is an anomaly, it’s still not correct to assume that marathon running is a younger person’s game.  To the contrary, statistics show that the average age of a marathoner is 39.  And if you’ve ever turned out to watch a marathon, you know that many marathon runners are in their 70s and 80s.

Even when you look at speed, distance running proves to be a great sport for the middle-aged.   Statistics indicate that the fastest average age group belongs to men between the ages of 40 and 44. 


Why the distance running phenomenon is occurring among average adults


It may seem crazy to consider running in a marathon if you’ve never done it, but there is a surprisingly large number of such “crazies” out there, going from a fairly sedentary lifestyle to doing marathons – and in a surprisingly short amount of time.  It is as though many thousands of people well into their adult years are somehow discovering their inner Olympian. 

In my case, I started running consistently (3 to 6 times weekly) less than four years ago. Since then, I've run one 5K race (about three miles), two 10K races, three half marathons, three marathons, and been a team member on a 200-mile relay race. But, apparently, this pattern is fairly normal.

Consider for example Ijaz Afzal of Los Angeles, who didn't take up running until he was 35, but then ran his first marathon at age 37.  “I started running in September, 2006 after quitting smoking cold turkey.  I ran my first marathon less than two years later, in June of 2008. Then I did two more. Now, I'm doing two more marathons this month alone!”

Or consider Mike Dasalla of Pleasant Hill, California. Not a life-long runner either, Dasalla ran his first marathon just three years after he started running regularly.  “Now," he says, "I have seven marathons under my belt.  I'm addicted!”

Man finishing a marathon


I also interviewed Peach Villacarlos of Northern California, who tells me that this late-in-life distance running phenomenon "matches me perfectly. I did not play sports as a kid. In fact, I was sedentary for over 20 years as an adult. I started running 5k races first, about two years before running my first marathon. And in a couple of weeks, I hope to finish my second one.”

Bill Boehner of Pleasanton, California, says that he “experimented with running briefly in the ‘70s when running started becoming popular, but I stopped when I got sick once, and then got caught up in my career.” Many years later, in his mid-'50s, Boehner took it back up, and with gusto. "I ran my first race, a 5K, in October, 2009, and ran my first marathon just a year later in Dec 2010.” Did he plan on doing a marathon so soon? "No, I thought maybe a half-marathon, but I never planned on doing a full. I didn't run in school at all.”


From couch ‘tater to marathon runner?


Why is this happening? What can explain the whole distance running phenomenon leading so many people to take up marathon and half marathon running later in life?

For answers, I turned inward and outward; what motivated me to start and maintain a habit of distance running later in life (in my 50s)?  And what motivated my distance running friends or business associates to do this? 

The results of this research may surprise you, as you’ll find out in the next article in this running series, "How to Go from Couch ‘tater to Marathon Runner," where you may also find out if there is a hidden marathoner in you.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 12, 2013

Saving Green by Going Green

Fancy yourself an expert on frugal living? In today’s economy, saving money is a priority in most households. Environmental concerns are also on the rise; everyone seems to be buzzing about “being green.” Thankfully, there are ways to save your money while doing your part to save the planet. We have compiled a two-fold list of helpful tips to capitalize on this win-win initiative.

Energy efficient lightbulb


In your home


This is obviously the space where you have to potential to save the most money. Running a household is downright expensive, but there are some simple ways to conserve both energy and water in your day-to-day activities. Check out these ideas about where to save your money indoors:


    Woman loading the dishwaster
  • Weather-stripping: Take the time to either improve or repair weather-stripping and caulk on windows and doors. When properly done, weather-stripping should cause resistance when you use the door. This will help to cut energy costs associated with heating and cooling.
  • Light bulbs: Make the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Although they cost a little more than traditional light bulbs, they use about 75% less energy.  They also tend to last about ten times longer.
  • Outlets: If you aren't using your television or your phone changer, those things can’t hike up your energy bill, right? Wrong. If it’s plugged in, it’s using something called “phantom” energy. Take the time to unplug everything when not in use, use power strips that allow you to cut off energy with the flip of a switch.
  • Thermostat: Adjust your central air temperature by a mere two degrees. This small shift up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter can save up to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually while lowering your energy bills by about 5%.
  • Water heater: How hot do you really need your water? Does it have to be scalding? Turn that water heater down to 120 degrees; that’s warm enough.
  • Use cold water for laundry: Heating water accounts for about 90% of energy usage during a wash cycle. Detergents work just fine without heat, and set-in stains won’t magically be removed by using warmer water.
  • It’s best to use the dishwasher: The technology in today’s dishwashers actually makes more efficient use of water than hand washing. Typically, they use under ten gallons of water in one cycle. Trust your dishwasher and save even more water by not pre-rinsing your dirty dishes. Also, only run the dishwasher when there is a full load of dishes. 
  • Shower smarter: Shorten your showers and avoid water-hogging baths altogether.
  • Get creative with DIY cleaning products: Most cleaning products are toxic and harm the environment. Do everyone a favor by creating your own cleaning concoctions. Many use common household ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Check out this TLC article for specific, cleaner-substitution recipes.

Outdoors and in your travels


Most money saving moms only think green about their indoor energy and water usage. However, if you’re a money saving expert, you also know how to save your money beyond the walls of your living space. Here are some of the best ways:

Grass: About 50 to 70 percent of the water homes use goes into their lawns and gardens. For the most efficient use of your water, only water your lawn early in the morning and keep grass three inches long in order to prevent the water from evaporating right away.

Hang-dry laundry: You don’t need to use a dryer if the weather outside is decent. Set up a clothesline and harness natural energy.

Hang-drying laundry

Plant trees: Trees are green, but in more ways than you might consider. How do trees help you reduce energy consumption and save money? When they have leaves in the summer, they help shade your home from the summer heat, reducing the amount of energy needed to cool your house. Conveniently, when they drop their leaves in the fall, trees allow sunlight to shine in and help heat your home.

Grow your own food: Planting seeds for a crop is a great deal cheaper than repeatedly buying store-bought produce. As an added benefit, no fruits and vegetables are fresher than those fresh out of your own garden.

Now you know how to save cash and how to be more green. You’re welcome!


Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Should I Exercise While Pregnant?

Should I exercise while pregnant? This is a question asked by many women as they move along the path toward motherhood. Well, the answer is yes. Perhaps a qualified yes after consultation with your physician. But if done carefully, there are a lot of positive outcomes for you and your baby to be gained from physical activity.

How much? In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, suggested that women who are not already performing vigorous physical activity should get at least two and one half hours of moderate aerobic activity per week.

Sounds intimidating?  Not really. You don’t have to – and probably shouldn't – perform the entire amount at one time. “Preferably, this activity should be spread throughout the week,” the guidelines indicate. That could translate into five 30-minute sessions per week. And even if a 30-minute block is not in your daily calendar, research indicates that breaking the workout up into sessions of no less than 10 minutes each can offer quite similar results. (Actually, if you've never worked out before and are extremely sedentary, starting out with 10 minutes per day may be a good idea provided you increase a bit each day.)

So what’s an aerobic activity? This is any activity that gets your heart rate up and sustains the increase for the duration of the session. Examples include running, walking, cycling, swimming, and a variety of other modalities. But how can I tell if my intensity is “moderate”? That’s easy. You should be able to speak in somewhat-breathy complete sentences. No extended monologues or soliloquies.

Pregnancy and exercise


Those of you already performing vigorous physical activity may continue provided there are no changes in your current condition and that you share your workout information with your physician. Strength training can also be beneficial provided the weights aren't too heavy. But after the first trimester, avoid any activity that involves lying on your back.

So why is the government – and many other agencies – encouraging pregnant women to become or remain active? Well, while the answers aren't definitive, there are many strong indications that becoming and remaining active during pregnancy can improve the health and well being of you and your baby. Here are a few potential positive outcomes gleaned from a careful review of all relevant scientific studies by scientists from universities in the U.S., Denmark, Norway and Canada:

GESTATIONAL DIABETES


Women who develop diabetes or any form of glucose intolerance during pregnancy have an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life. They also stand a better chance of giving birth to an abnormally large (greater than nine-pound) baby. In addition, a baby born from a diabetic mother has a greater risk of childhood obesity, which can lead to other health complications during the youngster’s life. Symptoms of gestational diabetes include blurred vision, frequent infections, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue.

It is a well-documented medical fact that improved physical activity can help increase glucose tolerance and thereby reduce the severity of if not totally eliminate Type 2 diabetes among the general population. Many in the medical community believe this also holds true for diabetes during pregnancy. In fact, there are studies that have demonstrated a greatly reduced risk of diabetes during pregnancy among those who exercise than among those who don’t.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE


Pregnancy-induced hypertension is considered one of the leading causes of preterm delivery and maternal mortality.  Again, it is a well-documented medical fact that increased physical activity can reduce the chance of hypertension among the non-pregnant population.

Most studies have shown exercise provides some protection from pregnancy-induced hypertension. A study involving 59,573 pregnant women indicated just that - a protective effect from participating in physical activity. However, similar findings were not seen in all studies.  Although more research is needed, we still believe exercise during pregnancy can help reduce hypertension during that period if for no better reason than its role in maintaining a safe, healthy weight.

WEIGHT GAIN


Obviously, you’re going to gain some weight during pregnancy. But any excess sets you up for a lifetime of potential obesity. In other words, many of the pounds won’t go away when you deliver. In addition, you may condemn your child to a lifetime of battling the bulge. Your doctor should be able to offer a suggested safe weight gain for you.

Diet will play a key role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight. But studies have also given credit to exercise – even a simple walking program – as being a major player in preventing if not reducing excessive pounds.

Pregnant woman drinking water while exercising


BIRTH WEIGHT


Being born too heavy or too light can have adverse lifetime effects on a baby. One of the fears many have regarding exercise during pregnancy is the latter – a baby too small for its birth age. But research has shown that physical activity during pregnancy is not linked to having a dangerously small baby.  Equally important, research demonstrates a strong correlation between physical activity and reduced odds of having an excessively heavy baby.

In other words, physical activity during pregnancy may reduce the odds of having an excessively heavy baby without increasing the risk of an excessively small baby.

AGE AT DELIVERY


A pre-term delivery of fewer than 36 weeks is considered one of the leading causes of disease and death. Two of the major risk factors are pregnancy diabetes and weight of the mother. As has been stated above, there is evidence to indicate physical activity during pregnancy may alleviate those two conditions. However, it may be advisable to speak with your physician regarding your level of physical activity.

BABY BODY COMPOSITION


There is evidence that children of mothers who exercised regularly were lighter and leaner at birth and remained so later in life. Enough said.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS


Most experts also feel that exercise during pregnancy can help alleviate bloating, low back pain, constipation, swelling, and varicose veins; increase your energy, improve your posture and mood, and help you sleep better. It may also help improve muscle tone, strength and endurance, qualities needed to prepare for labor.

However, be cautious. Cease exercise and call your physician if you experience vaginal bleeding, dizziness or feeling faint, increases shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, uterine contractions, decreased fetal movement, and fluid leaking from the vagina.

Again, research into exercise and pregnancy is on-going. So far, most of the information is good. But remember to always check with your doctor regarding your level and frequency of physical activity.

By FRANK CLAPS, M.Ed., CSCS

Monday, April 8, 2013

Seven Ways to Reduce Stress

My guess is that you are already well aware of many of the stresses in your life.  Then why do we need an official Stress Awareness Month?  Actually, there are good reasons: 
  • While situations that create stress may be unavoidable, stress levels can often be managed if you know how, and often only if you can quickly identify the stress, how it’s affecting you, and what to do about it.
  • Stress is a serious problem in the hectic life of the average American, hurting us emotionally and, as many studies show, also eroding our physical health. 
Stress Awareness Month is a national effort that seeks to help us reduce and manage stress by informing us of the dangers of stress, providing coping strategies, and correcting prevalent harmful misconceptions about stress. 

So, if you believe that knowledge is power, then read on, because the following information on stress management can help you improve your health and happiness far beyond the confines of Stress Awareness Month.

Stressed man


Seven Stress reduction tips for home and work


Is all stress bad?  No – stress in its most basic sense is a force working against another force.  Proper stressing of muscles strengthens muscles.  And even certain mental or social stresses can potentially improve our ability to handle stressful situations and to respond well to danger. 

But extreme or continual stress should be prevented, or at least managed, to avoid emotional harm or physical risks, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and obesity.  By following these seven stress reduction tips, you can improve the quality, and maybe even the length, of your life.


Stress Reduction Tip #1 – Know Thyself


The first step to proactively reducing or managing stress is identifying stress.  Even if you’re not feeling stressed at the moment, take time for introspection.  Identify any of the common emotional symptoms of stress, such as feeling worried, angry, irritable, depressed, or unable to focus.  Also look for physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, back pain, problems sleeping, upset stomach, weight gain, weight loss, tense muscles, and frequent or serious colds. 


Stress Reduction Tip #2 –Plan Ahead


Stress often comes from anticipation of an approaching event that you fear.  Reduce stress by preparing ahead of time for impending stressful events, like a job interview, an annual review meeting, or a difficult conversation with a relative.  Try this:
  • Picture the event in your mind.
  • Stay positive.  Envision positive resolutions.
  • Imagine what the room will look like and what you will say.
  • Have a back-up plan.


Stress Reduction Tip #3 – Take a break


Sitting or standing for hours at work can stress your body and your spirit.  Taking a break to do something substantially different, even just a few minutes, can create a freshened state of mind and help you relax.  Take a short walk, sing a song, grab a power nap, read a chapter of a novel, or engage in a non-work-related conversation.  As the song goes, “The change is gonna do you good.”

Couple riding bikes


Stress Reduction Tip #4 – Get physical


Study after study shows that regular, sustained or vigorous exercise is one of the  best stress tonics.  Not only does the activity improve your overall physical health, but the endorphins released improve mood and reduce anxiety.


Stress Reduction Tip #5 – Help Others


Much of the stress we feel comes from wallowing – replaying the stressful thoughts over and over.  It’s hard to focus elsewhere without some kind of replacement activity.  The most effective alternative to inward focus is outward focus – make someone or something else the focus of your time.  Any helping-others activity can break you out of the spiral – volunteer at a soup kitchen, make a gift for a friend, visit a shut-in – you get the idea.


Stress Reduction Tip #6 – Sleep Enough


Sleeping less than six hours nightly will depress your immune system, reduce your daytime patience, increase fatigue, and decrease motivation or productivity – all factors that increase stress.  So, sleep it off instead. 

Woman sleeping


Stress Reduction Tip #7 – Bail!


Just about all stress is related to the “fight or flight” survival instinct.  A healthy “fight” response is to fix a bad situation.  But what if you can’t?  What if, for example, a bad situation with a co-worker or employer cannot be resolved? 
When you find yourself in a situation in which you have no control, and for which there appears to be no resolution, your stress can go through the roof, wreaking havoc in your life and potentially endangering your health.  In these situations, consider an exit strategy.  It may be the best solution for you and those around you.


Download FREE Stress Relief and Anger Relief E-Books


If you want to up your stress management game, then take advantage of these downloadable e-books while they are temporarily being offered for free:
More stress reduction and stress management resources:

Final thought: Self-help solutions are great but, for serious mental or physical stress issues, seek medical help.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer
 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Consumption of Wheatgrass 101

I am sure you have heard of wheatgrass, but have you tried it? If you read our last article about the health benefits of wheatgrass, you may be looking for answers to questions such as, where can I get wheatgrass, and how should I take wheatgrass? In what form?  Read on for answers!


Where can I get me some wheatgrass?


Let’s go over the main options available when choosing to imbibe in nature’s miracle grass:
Option 1 ‑ Buy freshly juiced wheatgrass
Find your nearest juice bar or health food store and ask for a shot or two of wheatgrass. If they offer it, you'll get an ounce of wheatgrass juice in a small cup, freshly juiced while you watch. While a fresh shot of wheatgrass is best, there are a few issues with this choice:
Shot of wheatgrass
  • This is only a good option if you live or work close to a store that offers it.
  • Be ready to fork out the cash, because an average one-ounce shot can cost $1.50 to $5.00, depending on where you live. This can add up quickly if your goal is to take it on a regular basis.
  • Be sure to ask if they are using organically grown wheatgrass. This is very important, because wheatgrass absorbs its nutritional value from the soil as it grows. It can also absorb fertilization and pest control chemicals from non-organic farming techniques.
Option 2 ‑ Juice it yourself
If you can get a tray of fresh wheatgrass still in its soil, you can juice it at home with a wheatgrass juicer. There are essentially two ways to get wheatgrass in its original grass form, rather than buying it juiced:
  • Grow your own wheatgrass. This is easily the cheapest way to get wheatgrass: buying it from seed and growing it yourself. Books are written on the subject, which tells you something: a lot goes into being a successful wheatgrass gardener. Growing enough to keep you supplied takes very little time, once you know what you're doing, but you do want to consider all that is involved. Consequently, this option is definitely not for everyone.
  • Buy wheatgrass from a store. Buying grown wheatgrass from a store is convenient, and is much cheaper than buying it juiced by the shot, but can still get expensive. The stores that sell squares (about 4" x 4") or palettes (about the size of a cafeteria tray) of wheatgrass vary from five dollars to as much as 15 dollars. I have found that a store will sometimes offer a price break if you buy more of it, or buy it regularly, so don’t forget to ask.
Sprouting wheatgrass
Growing your own wheatgrass is more cost-effective
Option 3 ‑ Buy powdered wheatgrass or wheatgrass tablets
Powdered wheatgrass or tableted wheatgrass is a convenient option for a busy lifestyle. Things to remember when buying powdered wheatgrass or tableted wheatgrass:
  • It’s worth getting if you are somewhere that you can’t get fresh, or are traveling. Freshly juiced wheatgrass is always your best option, but powdered is good to have in a pinch, and does offer the vitamin benefit even if it won't have the phytonutrient content of fresh wheatgrass.
  • Make certain the powdered wheatgrass or tablet wheatgrass was grown organically and in nutrient-rich soil, as opposed to just water (hydroponically grown wheatgrass). A nutrient-rich wheatgrass is dependent on nutrient-rich soil.
  • With the powdered wheatgrass or wheatgrass tablets, it is not only important to consider how it was grown, but also how it is processed. Low temperature drying or freeze dried are the only options that ensure you get the nutrient density a health conscious individual would want. Make sure it is not just chopped grass; unless you have four stomachs, you won’t be able to get the nutrients from it.
You can find lots of varieties and brands of powdered wheatgrass or wheatgrass tablets at a health food store or online.
Powdered wheatgrass
You can mix organic powdered freeze-dried wheatgrass into your favorite smoothie


What should I know about taking wheatgrass?


There are a few other things you should know in order to get the most bang for your buck, health-wise, when adding wheatgrass to your diet:
  • Wheatgrass juice has a very short shelf life; always drink wheatgrass juice as soon as possible after it's juiced, preferably within a few hours.
  • How much wheatgrass you should take, or can take, varies from person to person. There is a reason it is often served in shot-sized portions - wheatgrass juice is potent stuff! Start slow and discover your own tolerance. The healthier you are, the more you should be able to tolerate.
  • Taking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is ideal. This is especially true if you are drinking your wheatgrass freshly juiced. It is best for absorption and ideal if you are using it for detoxifying.
  • If you want to mix your wheatgrass juice into a smoothie, do it in small amounts. Wheatgrass has a strong flavor, and can affect the taste of the whole smoothie.
  • Chewing wheatgrass is not the best route to go. As humans, our bodies are unable to digest the fiber in the grass. If you do choose to chew the grass, it is highly recommended that, after you've extracted all the juice possible, you dispose of the leftover fiber by spitting it out rather than swallowing.
Wheatgrass and gluten allergies?
Good news: because wheatgrass is harvested before it becomes a grain, wheat allergies and gluten allergies are not an issue when taking wheatgrass juice. Allergies to wheatgrass are rare, but if you suspect you are having a reaction of any kind, you should cease from taking any more until you see your doctor.

You should now have enough information to start your own wheatgrass adventure. Enjoy the journey, and post your questions if you'd like to know more.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer







Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wheatgrass – What's so Super about This Superfood?

Wheatgrass - a nutrient-dense superfood
Those who regularly include wheatgrass in their diet cannot sing the praises of wheatgrass loudly enough. I’ve known many people who, from their personal experience with wheatgrass, describe this superfood as a miracle worker for their health. If you’ve known anyone regularly taking wheatgrass, or had any personal experience with this beautiful, young bright-green grass, you know what I’m talking about.

Many people find that wheatgrass gives them a lift … physically, mentally, and emotionally. Why else would those who find it “distasteful” continue its use? The almost instantaneous benefits they feel, of course!

Yes, many people do find the flavor of wheatgrass unpleasant. But, for the record, not everyone finds the juice distasteful; some find it sweet and love the flavor.

No matter what you’re feeling about the taste, if you’ve used it for any length of time, you can’t deny the advantages you receive from taking this nutrient-dense green on a regular basis. For those who haven’t given it a try, let me share with you the wonders of wheatgrass.


Wheatgrass is considered a “Superfood”


Health benefits of wheatgrass juice are multifaceted. Though more scientific research needs to be done to validate claims, the reasons those who regularly take wheatgrass do so range from enhancing physical appearance (as in reversing the number of gray hairs you have); to healing disease (which is now being proven in clinical studies); to increasing energy levels.

No matter what your reason for using it, wheatgrass has something to offer. Here are a few benefits you might find appealing enough to give it a try for yourself.

Superfoods
Wheatgrass is one of several superfoods that may benefit our health


Wheatgrass benefits


What makes “superfoods” so super is the measured impact that the ingredients can have on the whole being. Because of this, even though you may start taking wheatgrass for a particular health issue, wheatgrass’ impact can be a whole-body game changer in many ways. Its benefits:
  • Improves the blood’s ability to transport oxygen during exercise. This effect continues for about 10 minutes after exercise into your post workout recovery.
  • The antioxidant values of food are described as the ORAC value. The ORAC value for wheatgrass extract was found to be higher than that of many other vegetables or extracts. Antioxidants remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in your body.
  • Wheatgrass extract absorbs free radicals and inhibits fat cells in rats.
  • Wheatgrass juice has been used clinically to treat ulcerative colitis and aid breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Many nutrition counselors use wheatgrass to treat anxiety and depression because the nutrient-dense grasses provide the building blocks to aid your body in producing its own serotonin (a hormone that contributes to your feelings of well-being and happiness).
  • Increases red blood cell count and lowers blood pressure.
  • Externally applied to the skin can help eliminate itching almost immediately.
  • Place a tray of wheatgrass you are growing at the head of your bed. It will release oxygen into the air and generate healthful negative ions to help you sleep more soundly.
  • Used as a beauty aid to slow down the aging process when the juice is consumed on a regular basis. Wheatgrass is reported to cleanse your blood and help rejuvenate aging cells, which also slows the aging process. It will help tighten loose and sagging skin.
I could continue with benefits that you could experience. The fact is, the body is a whole organism. When you positively affect one part, it is experienced throughout the entire system.


Nutrient Dense? To be or not to be…


Wheatgrass contains more than 90 minerals, including high concentrations of the most alkaline minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Wheatgrass also provides a concentrated amount of critical nutrients, including:
  • Chlorophyll
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Vitamins A, C, E, K and B-complex
  • Amino Acid
Wheatgrass is 70 percent chlorophyll. The health benefits of chlorophyll could be a full discussion in and of itself, but, long story short: chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that it is similar in chemical structure to the hemoglobin that is found in human blood. Chlorophyll is considered by many to be as beneficial to humans as it is to plants.

Wheatgrass juice
Wheatgrass is usually consumed in juice form


What does wheatgrass have over your average vegetable?



Compared to many other vegetables, wheatgrass is like a sponge when it’s growing. When the wheatgrass is grown in nutrient rich organic soil, it will absorb 92 of the known 102 minerals from the soil. The fact that it can pull so many minerals from the soil is the primary reason juiced wheatgrass is so nutrient dense, and is a good reason to make it a part of your daily regimen.


Consuming wheatgrass


Since we do not have multiple stomachs like a cow, taking wheatgrass is not as straightforward as chewing and swallowing. Wheatgrass is usually consumed in juice form. You can grow and juice wheatgrass yourself, or may be able to get some juiced for you at a local health food store.
We will talk more in an upcoming article about wheatgrass recipes, as well as how to grow wheatgrass and how to juice wheatgrass. Stay tuned!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer