Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If this news doesn’t make you blow a gasket…

If you’re one of those who occasionally “hits the roof,” metaphorically or literally, here’s a heart-stopping warning.  A recent medical study confirmed what your friends or family may have already feared: that anger outbursts are potentially deadly to the gasket-buster.  Put another way, rage is the social infraction that leads to myocardial infarction –  a heart attack.

Angry fist


The greater the rage, the greater the heart attack risk


In this study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, scientists reported that a rage event doubles your likelihood of a heart attack within the next two hours.  They also found that the more intense the outburst, the greater the risk – especially when the explosion gets physical, such as throwing things, hitting others, or even just threatening to hurt others. 

The study, involving nearly four thousand heart attack patients,  showed that, with each measured anger intensity increase, the risk of heart attack in the next two hours rose. These more severe reactions were tied a heart attack risk that was four times more likely within two hours of the outburst. 

The causes of the rage among the subjects varied, with more common causes being tied to a family issue, a conflict at work, or a commuting frustration.  Scientist believe that what causes these kinds of angry outbursts to increase heart attack risks is the epinephrine and norepinephrine “flight or flight” chemicals that surge powerfully during the event.  The chemicals naturally elevate the pulse and blood pressure – conditions often tied to increased heart risk.

The conclusion?  Expressing your anger appears to be just as bad for you as “bottling it up.”  Both responses to anger corrode your coronary health. 


Five tips for managing anger outbursts


To help you avoid angry outbursts that can lead to a heart attack, try these five anger management tips first.


1.  Script a better response. 


Write out a couple of key thoughts that you want to remember at that critical moment – thoughts that give you a big-picture perspective, such as:
  • “In spite of this, I know I love her.”
  • “I’m bigger than this rage, and it won’t control me.”
  • “He’s just a boy, he’s still learning.”
  • “Our relationship is more important than what I’m feeling.”
  • “Only show them the best of who I am.”
This self-talk may feel a bit silly as you’re planning it out, but it works for many people.  Choose a phrase that fits the situations that usually cause you to erupt, then apply them when you feel the anger start to  build. 


2.  Distract yourself.


Do something radically different from the rage confronting you.  Make it something physical, but do it elsewhere.  For example, leave the situation and go splash your face with cold water, or go for a run or bike ride, or sing your favorite song, or shoot some hoops.  Involving your body in a physical action that is not rage-related gives your mind a sudden mental makeover, distracting the rage with something else that feels like an expression of yourself, but doesn’t do yourself or others harm.

Man playing basketball


3.  Get your head in the game.


Are you naturally competitive?  If so, make a game of it, and play to win.  Here’s the game: Plan to make your emotions a kind of competitive sport, and you’re competing against your inner rage.  If you’re into sports, you know that focus and control are essential to winning.  In this game, your goal is to beat the pants off that rage by staying calm: by not letting rage get the better of you.  Without a doubt, if your rage wins out, you lose the game, and a lot more. 


4.  Redirect your feelings. 


Do you have an “accountability partner” – a trusted friend or relative that you can go to for shared do-the-right-thing counsel?  Arrange with that friend to be the one you call when you feel the rage rising up.  When someone or something sets you off, call your friend instead and talk it through with them.  By redirecting your attention away from the person you’re about to unleash your fury at, your rage is likely to be down a few notches already – after all, your accountability partner isn’t the one you’re upset with.  Your friend knows that the shared goal is to change your mood, perhaps with a joke, some words of encouragement, or even some prayer.


5.  Practice meditation or yoga


Unlike the other four tips, meditation and yoga are actions you take to alter your entire outlook on life.  It doesn’t work in the heat of emotional battle, but can stop the battle from beginning by changing your general life attitude and your moods.  If you haven’t experienced the calming effect of this type of regular practice, it may sound silly to you.  But you can look up the supporting science behind it here, here, or here

Why not try it?  At worst, it may not work for you.  At best, you may find that it cultivates more peace and happiness in your life.

For more tips on anger management, check out these 10 tips for handling your anger with your kids, this info-rich guide to understanding and managing anger or, if your anger is associated with adult ADHD, get Six Anger-Management Tips for ADHD Adults. Whatever you do, take action to get your rage under control, or your heart may get the brunt of it.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer




Monday, June 17, 2013

Home Dangers!–Five Simple Steps to Make Your Home Safer

Did you know that 47 percent of all injuries occur at home?  It’s National Home Safety Month: the perfect time to identify and eliminate risks around your home.  These five home safety steps take little or no money/time yet can save the life or limb of your family members and house guests. 

House on fire


1.  Be prepared for a fire emergency


More than 3,500 Americans die annually in fires, many at home.  Does your family know what to do in the event of a fire? Simple steps can save lives:
  • Have fire drills with your family, practicing various evacuation routes.
  • Plan a specific meeting location away from the house, so that you can all immediately know when and if everyone has made it out of the home. 
  • Check your home for any stuck windows or doors that might prevent exit during a fire and get them fixed.
  • For upstairs bedrooms, consider investing in emergency ladders that can be kept under beds when a hallway fire forces a window exit.  Practice using the ladders, but do so from a first floor window for safety; family members will still “get the hang of it” before the emergency that way.
  • If your home windows have security bars that could not only prevent burglaries but also prevent family members from escaping a fire, consider upgrading them with the type that have a quick-release device for emergency exiting.  Read more on this at fema.org.
Finally, check with your local fire station; many of them hold informational or training events designed to help you survive a fire emergency.


2.  Be ready to practice first aid


Since nearly half of all injuries happen at home, it only makes sense to make sure that you and your family are ready to take immediate action in the event of injury, poisoning, heart attack, or other life-threatening circumstances that can occur at home. Being prepared to perform first aid involves both education and supplies.  Make sure you and your family:
  • Have up-to-date first aid kits in your home – ideally more than one.
  • Know how to do first aid, which can be as simple as signing up your family for a local first aid class.
  • Write down the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) and keep it in a safe place – perhaps in your medicine cabinets.
  • Know where the nearest hospital is and have your doctor’s phone number.
First aid kit


3.  Take steps to protect your children from lead poisoning


Lead poisoning is a serious home safety risk, especially to pregnant women and to children under age six. Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead.  According to HealthFinder.gov, most lead poisoning comes from paint in homes built before 1978, so particularly pay heed to these risk-reduction steps if your home is more than 25 years old.

A primary source of lead in homes: ordinary house paint used before 1978. As old paint cracks or chips, it generates toxic lead dust, capable of causing learning and behavior problems. Lead can also be found in the ground around your house, your drinking water (from lead pipes), and from older toys and furniture.
To protect your family when you live in an older home, keep away from chipping or peeling lead paint, have your home tested for lead paint, ask your doctor to test your child for lead, wash hands and toys often, and use a wet paper towel or mop when dusting. 

To learn more about preventing lead poisoning, contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.  And when remodeling or repairing your house, first check out these lead-safe work practices from the EPA.


4.  Reduce risks of home injuries from falls


Federal statistics indicate that half of all falls happen at home. Fortunately, reducing risks of injuries from falls in your home is often easy and affordable. For example, you can reduce slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injury risks with such simple steps as removing wires or cords that cross pathways, keeping loose objects like shoes, magazines, or blankets off the floor, and removing throw rugs from your house, (or at least using a nonslip backing or double-sided tape between the rug and floor).   For a whole host of other simple and potentially life-saving tips, use this home fall risk prevention checklist from the CDC.


5.  Protect your family from asbestos risks


Asbestos, a building material commonly used in home construction before 1980, is now known to cause mesothelioma, a slow-developing and deadly form of cancer.  Since 80 percent of homes built before 1980 contain asbestos, it could be lying dormant in the walls, floors, or ceilings of your house right now, its dust ready to do deadly damage when stirred up by home maintenance or remodeling. 

Asbestos danger tape

Before you perform any remodeling or have any remodeling work done in your house, such as new roofing installation, insulation replacement, or re-tiling work, reviewed these potentially life-saving  remodeling safety  tips from mesothelioma.com.


Get started today, during National Home Safety Month


As you can see, these five safety steps are all easy, and could save lives.  Get started today, and take a new step every couple of days – by the end of National Home Safety Month, you’ll have a much safer home.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Grow Your Own Wheatgrass for Juicing

For a real shot of energy and wholesome phytochemicals, try a shot of fresh wheatgrass juice, as you learned in the articles Wheatgrass – What's so Super about This Superfood? and Consumption of Wheatgrass 101).  But wheatgrass juice availability and cost are often deal breakers for those who want to drink it regularly.  The solution? Grow your own wheatgrass from seed!  It’s a dirt-cheap way to create an endless supply of the freshest wheatgrass for juicing, and you can even grow it indoors. 

To get you on course to growing a healthy and continuous supply of wheatgrass for juicing, we got the dirt on the subject from raw food aficionado Gwen Adams of Bothell, Washington.  Gwen has been growing her own indoor wheatgrass crops for 10 years. As well, she was trained, and has been an instructor/lecturer, at the Creative Health Institute of Michigan, has taught raw food diet workshops, is certified as an Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education, and is a certified yoga instructor.  Here, Gwen shares with us some of her secrets to growing a bountiful crop of wheatgrass in your own home.


Q: Gwen, how much space do I need to grow wheatgrass?


This depends on how much wheatgrass you plan to be juicing.  I’ve had a sufficient supply of wheatgrass growing to provide a regular, daily supply of wheatgrass juice for two in the space of a large garden window (mine is about four feet wide).

To keep a regular supply, it’s good to have your wheatgrass growing in rotation, so that one or two batches are growing while another one is ready to juice.  You can get special pallets, called sprouters, about the size of a cafeteria tray to grow each batch – or just use actual cafeteria trays.

One advantage of buying a sprouter instead of using cafeteria trays is that it’s easier to accidentally overwater when using cafeteria trays, which can lead to mold.  Each cafeteria or sprouter tray will yield about 7 to 10 one-ounce shots of wheatgrass juice – a few days' supply – depending on the quality of the soil.

Shelves for growing wheatgrass
Gwen's first shelves for growing wheatgrass


Q: Why “in rotation”? Can I not just keep reusing a wheatgrass batch after it grows?


No.  The best wheatgrass is young wheatgrass.  Expect to clip the grass for juicing one time – two times at best – before it gets too mature, bitter, and less nutritious.  So, yes, you need to keep a rotation of trays going in various stages of growth to maintain a regular supply of wheatgrass for juicing. 


Q: Is it best to grow wheatgrass indoors or outdoors?


You can grow it either way. But there are so many variables when growing it outdoors, such as humidity, temperature, insects, and wind, that can make it difficult to have success, especially on your first attempts. Just for the sake of control, I strongly recommend growing it indoors. Just make sure it gets plenty of daylight. 


Q: What if I live in a small apartment with no direct sunlight windows?


If you haven't got a good window spot for light, you can still grow your own wheatgrass indoors by using grow lights.  I've even had success without full-spectrum bulbs, just using florescent tube lighting – a more affordable option.


Q: What kind of wheatgrass seed do I need to buy?


I've had the most success growing from the seeds of red winter wheat, also known as hard wheat. 


Q:  Where do I buy wheatgrass seeds for juicing?


I recommend  looking in the bulk  foods section of your local health foods market.  You can sometimes find it at a large department store, but my experience is that the quality of wheatgrass seeds varies significantly from place to place. Buying it from a major discounter, I have found that the crop would more often turn moldy. In short: you get what you pay for.

I’ve also been able to find good quality wheatgrass seeds in a farmer’s feed store. If you are fortunate enough to have one of those near you, try that.


Q: What are the basic supplies needed to grow wheatgrass?


Here’s a full list, in quantities to make a full rotation of wheatgrass for two.
  • 6 Wide Mouth Jars for germinating the seeds
  • 6 Screens (cut from nylon window screen) to cover your jars
  • 6 Screw Tops for the jar lids (or strong rubber bands to hold the screen on)
  • 12 Cafeteria Trays (or other growing trays)
  • Winter (hard) wheatberries
  • Good rich, organic top soil (composted soil is best). It should be dark in color. Enriching it with compost is helpful, if you have access to it.
  • A container in which to keep your dirt handy and easily accessible, since you’ll be repeating this process regularly.
  • A shelf unit on which to grow the grass (placed near a nice, bright window).


Q: What is the step-by-step wheatgrass growing process?


I’ll put it in order for you:
  1. Soak approx. ½ to 1 cup of wheat berries (the seeds). Dispose of the wheat berries that float to the top. Place screen on top of jar and then leave it for at least eight hours (basically overnight).
  2. After adequate soak time, pour the water out. Rinse again and turn the jar upside down to drain in drainer for several hours (or overnight).
  3. Let your seeds sprout (grow a tail) for one day in a dark place (I use the inside of my stove), or until you see little white grass starting to sprout.
  4. Put dirt in your growing tray, level with tray’s rim (about one inch thick of dirt).
  5. Place the sprouted seed on top, spreading to a nice, thin layer.
  6. Water thoroughly, but don’t over-soak.
  7. Cover your tray with evenly-dampened paper towels, or just place a second tray upside down on top of it to create darkness.
  8. Leave it alone for a couple of days. It will begin to grow. When the growing wheatgrass raises the tray, it’s time to take the lid off and expose it to light.
  9. Begin watering your grass daily. To avoid overwatering, user spray bottle to spritz it. Or, in a hot area, use a watering can with a sprinkle spout. If you overwater it, saturating it, you’ll get mold, and need to drop the whole batch. A very tiny bit of mold is okay, but try to avoid any. To control it, keep your trays where there’s good air circulation.
The grass will be white at first, but will turn green once exposed to sunlight.


Q: How do I know when it’s ready?


In about seven days, your grass should be tall enough to juice (7 to 10 inches tall – even taller if you’re growing it outdoors). The actual grow time can vary according to time of year and amount of light.

Gwen Adams with a healthy wheatgrass crop rotation
Gwen Adams with a healthy wheatgrass crop rotation


Q: How do I process my harvest?


Easy.  With a pair of sharp scissors, cut your grass down no further than the white portion.

For best juicing, get a wheatgrass juicer.  A juicer that is designed to juice greens can work, juicer designed for wheatgrass will give you the best yield. 

=================

If you have questions for Gwen, or tips of your own to share, please use the comments section below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tip Sheet: Three Ways to Combat Childhood Allergies

Another web-based hoax?  Apparently not.  New scientific evidence on how to ward off many common childhood allergies may sound a little “out there,” but if you'd like to decrease the likelihood that your child will develop an allergy, read on.

The short story:
  • When you’ve got a choice, choose a normal birth.
  • Don’t strive to maintain a spotlessly clean home.
  • Suck your baby’s pacifier.
Especially in the case of the latter two recommendations, you may think this sounds more like an urban legend, but many scientists are on board with these recommendations due to recent studies.
    Baby outside


    1.  Avoid C-Section when you have the option


    If you want your baby to grow up with the healthiest of immune systems and resistance to antigens (those things that cause allergic reactions – things that cause your immune system to react), recent studies indicate that your child will have the best chance if the child is born normally, i.e. not by cesarean section (C-section).

    Of course, you may not have a choice of C-section versus normal birth, so follow your doctor's advice.  It's possible your health or your baby's condition is such that a C-section surgery is the safest option. However, there are many times when a pregnant woman has an option – where getting a C-section surgery, or not, is up to her.  In these cases, where the mom is weighing the advantages and disadvantages, these recent studies point out another disadvantage: that C-section babies appear to be missing out on some important and healthful bacteria exposure that happens when a baby passes through the birth canal.

    You can get the full depth and breadth of the study here, but to summarize what they learned, and how they learned it:
    • The study involved nearly 1300 newborns over a four-year period.
    • One of the key goals of the study was to understand what they describe as the microbiome or “microbial ecosystem” within each baby.  (See the Human Microbiome Project for more info.)  The microbiome is the whole microscopic world inside your gut – a highly populated community with more than 100 trillion microorganisms. 
    • One of the more significant discoveries the scientists made is that the microbiome of babies born through normal birth was markedly different than that of babies born through C-section – what they call a different pattern of gut bacteria.
    • The scientists found that babies born via C-section had greater sensitivity to many common allergens than those babies born by natural birth, such as allergens often associated with dust mites, cats, dogs, and cockroaches.  Specifically, C-section babies had five times the likelihood of developing allergies by age two!
    One of the scientists' key conclusions from this study is that it appears that normal-birth babies are exposed to bacteria in the birth canal – an exposure that helps the body to prepare for its all-important life battle against antigens.  During vaginal delivery, the contact with the mother's vaginal and intestinal flora is apparently an important starting point for an infant's own gut colonization. Without the direct contact with the mom's birth canal and its bacterial environment, the cesarean section baby's growing-up response to antigens is weakened.  In fact, as this chart shows, the absence of the birth canal experience can affect the health of a baby in many ways.

    Scientists are still trying to determine all the factors that may cause this – for instance, delayed lactation, which is common in women with C-sections, means that the baby isn't getting good bacterial exposure from the mother’s milk, which can also populate the bacterial flora of the infant’s gut.


    2. Expose your child to normal life "stuff"


    With the best of intentions, many mothers strive to protect the health of their children by maintaining a spotlessly clean home – one that will be free of the "three D’s” –  dust, dander, and dirt.  But another outcome of studies such as the one referenced above is that scientists are starting to question the value of perfect environmental hygiene.  As this and other studies reveal, a lack of exposure to microorganisms, infectious agents, and parasites in early childhood can suppress the development of the immune system.

    This doesn't necessarily mean you should dump your baby in dirt. The scientists refer to "incidental environmental exposure”– just the ordinary microbial environment of the real world around the house and yard – and how it seems to play a major role in determining the distinctive characteristics of the microbial community within each baby. “By the end of the first year of life, microbial ecosystems in each baby, although still distinct, had converged toward a profile characteristic of the adult gastrointestinal tract.”

    Thus, based on the current weight of evidence, some scientists now recommend that moms avoid the approach of trying to keep an “antiseptic house."  Scientists believe that this could explain why there is a higher occurrence of diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis in more affluent, Western, industrialized countries. Their “hygiene hypothesis” is that an overly clean environment, especially in early childhood, may contribute to the development of several childhood diseases.

    Baby sucking on pacifier


    3. Suck on pacifiers

    This may sound strangely old world, but a recent Swedish study, published in Pediatrics journal, shows that, when a parent sucks on his or her child's pacifier – yes, using their own mouth's saliva to "clean" their babies pacifiers – those babies were up to 37 percent less likely to get eczema or asthma by the time they had reached 18 months.   And that positive effect continues; when the study looked at three-year-olds,  if their parents had cleaned their pacifiers by their own mouths, the three-year-olds were still roughly half as likely to develop eczema as children whose parents were less free with their spit.

    CONCLUSION:  As surprising as much of this sounds, you can give your child the best defense against allergies by sucking your infant’s pacifier, by striving for a normal birth, and avoiding a sterile home environment.
     

    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer






    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Five Ways to Explore the Great Outdoors

    Maybe your friends or family members are more excited that June contains National Donut Day than they are about June being proclaimed by President Obama and most state governors National Great Outdoors Month.  To help you nudge those you care about to abandon the couch, the television, or the computer games for a little outdoor enjoyment, here are five ideas to help elevate the interest level.  Each were selected for their relative affordability, their availability nationwide, and their suitability to all ages.

    Trail sign


    1.  Explore a trail


    The nice things about taking a day hike are that it's cheap (a decent pair of casual shoes or boots and you are ready to go), it's plentiful (trails just about anywhere in the US) and it’s very easy to adjust the scope of the adventure to match the skill and physical capabilities of the group, simply by adjusting the duration, the pace, or the difficulty of the trail selection. Good free resources for trails near you:
    • LocalHikes.com has trail pictures, topographical maps, elevation profiles, and user ratings for many great day hikes and hiking trails near just about any U.S. metropolitan area. 
    • Check out mtbr.com.  Yes, it's a site dedicated to mountain bikes, but their trail guide section is outstanding and worldwide. Most biking trails are also open to hikers.
    • Don't miss TrailLink.com by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, an organization that serves as the national voice for supporters of the 20,000-plus miles of former railways that have been converted to Trailways throughout the country, and advocates for the further transition of the more than 9,000 miles of potential rail-trails waiting to be built.  The nice thing about the trails featured on this site is that they are often flat trails, or trails with a very comfortable grade, since they were originally built to serve as train tracks.
    • AmericanTrails.org claims to be the world's largest online trails resource. One brief tour of their site may convince you of this as well.


    2.  Bird watching


    Like hiking, bird watching is a very affordable sport. To make it a little more informative or educational, here are a few bird watching tips:

    Bird watching
    • It's always good to have a bird watching handbook of some sort along with you on your adventure.  Some well-rated field guides for bird watching include National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region by the National Audubon Society, National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Dunn and Alderfer, and Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufman.  Having one of these on hand will allow you to not only enjoy local birds, but be able to identify them as well.
    • Make the bird watching a more well-rounded adventure by packing a picnic lunch.  If your bird watching companions have trouble getting into the spirit of the field trip, a tasty lunch break is something everyone can enjoy.
    • While binoculars are often the stereotypical bird watching purchase, a better choice is to take a long a good digital camera or camcorder, both of which generally have telephoto lenses for getting a closer look at the birds, but also allow you to record what you see.
    • To get some professional help with your first bird watching adventure, consider a guided tour.  To find one in your area, use your favorite search engine and type in "bird watching tours" plus the name of your city or county.


    3.  Go on a family swimming adventure


    Part of making a swimming field trip a great memory is the creativity you add to what might otherwise be an ordinary trip to the local pool. To celebrate National Great Outdoors Month in style, consider spicing up a swimming field trip by:
    • Trying out a different city pool than your nearest;
    • Skipping the city pool for a more adventurous option, such as a local swimming hole at a river or lake;
    • Involving the entire family, especially if a normal swimming trip normally involves just one parent or the other;
    • Partnering up with friends who have a backyard pool, adding a cookout to the outing, along with fun pool games.
    Girl swimming in lake


    4.   Do a backyard campout


    As it turns out, June is not only Great Outdoors Month but is also the month when we celebrate National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout on June 25Even if your family doesn't do camping, and therefore does not own a tent, there's a good chance that one of your friendly neighbors or relatives would be happy to loan you theirs, making this a virtually free way to enjoy the great outdoors. All you need is a backyard. If you're a renter – and thus fresh out of backyard space – consider doing a backyard campout with family friends who do have a yard.

    Ways to make a backyard campout extra special:
    • Fire up the grill to add the tantalizing aroma and culinary delight of fire-roasted hot dogs and s'mores.
    • While the kids may be perfectly fine sleeping with nothing between them and the tent bottom but a sleeping bag, consider investing in, or borrowing, an inflatable air mattress or camping cot for the adults sleeping out. Or, save money by using your yoga mat or exercise mat for some extra padding instead.
    • For older kids, don't forget ghost stories – a campout favorite – that's sure to make this a memorable backyard campout.


    5. Explore online for outdoor adventures


    There is a plethora of resources online dedicated to the subject of enjoying the great outdoors. For starters, try one of these:
    There something about fresh air and sunshine – or even rain – that makes for great memories. Don't let June – home of National Great Outdoors Month -- go by without tasting some of that great outdoors.


    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer


    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Men's Health at Risk! What You Should Know

    There are many health issues unique to men. For example: 
    • Men average half as many visits to a doctor as do women.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tells us that women are 100 percent more likely than men to visit the doctor for annual exams or prevention care. Even when you remove pregnancy-related visits that women make, women are still 56 percent more likely to visit the doctor in the broad age bracket of 15 to 44.
    • Men live an average of five years less than women.  Statistics show that, in spite of the fact that males outnumber females at birth 105 to 100, by the time they reach age 65 – 74, there are fewer than 80 men for every 100 women.
    • Men die more than women from many major diseasesCDC statistics tell us that men are much more likely than are women to die of cancer (1.4 times more likely), heart disease (1.7 times more likely), HIV (2.5 times more likely) and diabetes (1.4 times more likely).
    • Men have a harder time reaching childhood age. According to the Men's Health Network, 25 percent more males than females die as newborns, and that's if they are lucky enough to survive birth; the male fetus is more likely than is the female fetus to die from miscarriage or stillbirth. Male babies are also three out of five times more likely to become SIDS victims.  Let's say they survive childhood. Things are still rough; 15 to 19-year-old boys are are a whopping four times more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. Among 20 to 24-year-old males, it's even scarier: males in that age range are six times more likely to commit suicide.
    Group of men


    Men's Health Month – Increasing awareness, education, and prevention


    Building awareness of these uniquely male health issues, and using education to aid in prevention of male-dominated illnesses, are key reasons for the creation of the annual June event Men's Health Month.  By heightening awareness of preventable health problems, earlier detection and treatment of disease among men and boys is a realistic outcome.

    Making June an opportunity for health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury can potentially save lives and increase overall mental health and life quality.


    Make a difference in men’s health this month


    Now that you are aware and have begun your education in correcting men’s health issues, here are some steps you can take to increase awareness of, and education for, men's health issues among your family, friends, and coworkers.

    Man speaking with doctor
    • Wear blue. To show solidarity and generate conversation, wear blue this month.  You can do this yourself, or create a Wear Blue Day event – any day this month that works for your group, family, or team. Learn more at Wear Blue Day
    • Raise funds. If you choose to create a Wear Blue Day event, consider also setting a goal amount and raising funds to aid Men’s Health Network (MHN) prostate cancer outreach efforts, or another charitable foundation focused on men's health issues.   To raise money, consider a 5K walk, donation jars at local eateries, or a bake sale.
    • Women: Take a stand! Now might be the right time for you to consider joining Women Against Prostate Cancer – a national organization that unites the voices of women and their families who have been affected by prostate cancer. Women Against Prostate Cancer advocates prostate cancer education, public awareness, screenings, legislation and treatment options.
    • Make a public statement for men's health. There are many ways you can increase awareness of men's issues. For example, download, print, and post this Men’s Health Month awareness poster,  or a printable poster of men's health facts, either of which could go on your refrigerator, a workplace refrigerator, cubicle wall, or bulletin board, or the community announcements bulletin board found in many restaurants or coffee houses.


    Get smarter about men's health issues


    Whether you are male or female, this month would be a great time to start increasing your knowledge about common men's health issues. Knowledge is power, and this kind of knowledge could help save the life of someone you care about. To get started, check out the Prostate Health Guide, the Men's Health Library. Or purchase the book Your Head: An Owner's Manual, written to help men understand and overcome depression, anxiety, and stress. And men: take your cue from the opposite sex; get better about doctor visits and preventative care to hedge your bets for a healthier and longer life.

    Men running and exercising


    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer



    Monday, June 3, 2013

    What the Heck are Antioxidants Anyway?

    Antioxidants is another one of those buzz words you’ll hear in nearly any conversation these days when the topic is healthy eating or healthy living.  There’s a good reason.  Antioxidants have the power to help you avoid illness, recover from injury, and expand longevity.  So, understanding what an antioxidant is, and how to get enough antioxidant benefits working in your body, is a worthwhile endeavor.


    What is an antioxidant?


    Antioxidants are substances that are anti-oxidation – substances that block oxidation from occurring in your body.  

    Grandmother and granddaughter

    Why is it important to inhibit oxidation?  Because oxidation to cells in the human body is what rust is to metal; it is the breaking down of your body at the molecular level.  And yes, that’s a bad thing.


    Why you want to prevent oxidation in your body


    When oxidation takes place, molecules experience a chemical reaction – the moving of electrons.  Sound familiar?  If you read our previous What-the-Heck-Is-This-Anyway article, What the Heck Are Free Radicals?, you know that the movement of electrons results from molecular instability and that unstable molecules spread, creating a chain reaction of free radicals that ultimately damages or destroys cells.  When your cells are destroyed en masse, you or an organ within you deteriorates. 

    Think about those conditions that you normally associate with aging – dry skin, wrinkled skin, arthritis in the joints, muscles shrinking, hearing or eyesight failing – all of these and other conditions of aging are largely the collective effect of oxidation on your cells. Your cells naturally use oxygen, which can naturally generate free radicals. The damage from free radicals is what scientists believe causes not only aging but such serious illnesses too, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Thus, anything that can put the kibosh on oxidation is something you want plenty of. 

    That’s a lot of bad news.  The good news is that there are oxidation blockers – also known as antioxidants.   Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals by generously donating one of their own electrons, putting the breaks on the free radical chain reaction of electron stealing.


    Where do I find antioxidants?


    Your best source of antioxidants are foods that are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, or vitamin E.  These are the foods with the ability to remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents, empowering your body to stop the free radical molecules that damage your body’s cells.  Not only do the antioxidants in these foods help repair the damage from free radicals but also continue to prevent further damage.

    Vitamins C and E in particular appear to protect your body from the destructive effects of free radicals.  Vitamin E and vitamin C are the most abundant and efficient antioxidants in your body. 
    • Vitamin C in particular does a bang-up job of combating the free radicals that occur as a result of pollution and cigarette smoke.  As well, high vitamin C intake appears to lower rates of many forms of cancer, but especially cancers of the esophagus, mouth, and larynx.
    • Vitamin E in particular squelches cardiovascular disease, which it does by defending your cells against LDL cholesterol oxidation and by preventing plaque from forming in your arteries.
    There are many foods high in antioxidants – foods that are packed with naturally occurring vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (vitamin A).  Your dietary hit list should include such foods as:
      Turmeric powder
    • Apricots
    • Bell peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Citrus fruits
    • Egg
    • Liver
    • Melons
    • Nuts
    • Oily fish
    • Seeds
    • Strawberries
    • Spinach
    • Squash
    • Yams
    There’s also an herb you likely have in your cabinet that is high in antioxidant compounds: turmeric.  Turmeric, which adds a golden-yellow color to foods and is popular in Indian recipes, is a powerful antioxidant.  To boost your turmeric input serve up some Turmeric Chicken, Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder with turmeric, or this Creamy Lentil Soup With Caramelized Onion recipe, also high in turmeric.


    How do I get more antioxidants?


    The answer is: don’t.  While scientists are increasingly confident that antioxidants help your body protect itself from free-radical oxidation damage, more is not necessary better.

    Some recent studies suggest that the process of trying to max out on antioxidants, a process known as antioxidant therapy, has no effect on mortality and may even make matters worse. Trying to up your antioxidant intake by ingesting lots of vitamin pills has not proven out in these studies to be a safe alternative to getting your antioxidant vitamin intake from natural food sources. 

    Some studies using vitamin pills even appear to suggest that they can have a negative effect on your body’s ability to fight free radicals, concluding that they had no benefit and, in the case of vitamin A, may have an adverse effect on the incidence of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

    Foods high in antioxidants


    Best source of antioxidants: food


    While studies have not yet identified why pills react differently in our bodies than foods with the same antioxidants, scientist believe it may be because many other substances within the antioxidant food sources are working in conjunction with the food's’ vitamins to create the beneficial antioxidant effects.

    Until we understand why vitamin pills affect the body differently than vitamins sourced from food, just aim to get your antioxidants the good old fashioned way: from a healthy, balanced diet, which should include at least five to eight servings of vegetables and fruits, such as those listed above.

    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer