Tag Archives: immune system

10 Ways Stress Affects Your Health

Stress pinned on noticeboardStress is a personal thing. What might stress me out may not bother you, and vice versa. A little bit of stress is good for motivation and may help your memory. However, ongoing stress can impact your health in negative ways. Increased doctors visits and serious illnesses may be linked to stress.

Stress can come from a short-term frustration, such as a traffic jam or waiting in line, or a major life event like losing a job or divorce. Either way, it can affect our bodies and our overall health.

Here are 10 ways that stress may be impacting your health, and you don’t even realize it:

Triggers cravings
Cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, may trigger cravings for sugar and fat. If you already have a higher body mass index, you may be even more susceptible to cravings. The key is to know your stress triggers and stock up on healthy snacks. Or, make sure you don’t have unhealthy treats on hand when you know you may be guilty of emotional eating.

Causes weight gain
Stress can also be correlated with weight gain. In addition to the cravings caused by the stress hormone cortisol, higher levels of cortisol may also be linked to more belly fat. You may also have poor eating habits when you’re more stressed.

Messes up your memory
When you’re stressed about getting to an important appointment on time, it can be harder to remember where you put the car keys or when you last filled up the gas tank. Stress seems to fog up your memory and make it harder to remember simple things.

Raises blood sugar
Stress is known to raise blood sugar levels. If you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes, stress can substantially increase your risk of developing the disease. For those who already have Type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels are higher when under stress.

Impacts your vision
Stress can cause a range of eye symptoms – from eye twitches to hysterical blindness. In both cases, it’s important to find the underlying causes of the emotional stress and then try to eliminate the causes of the stress.

Gives you headaches
The “fight or flight” chemicals that are released during a stressful event can cause vascular changes that give you a headache or migraine. It can happen while you’re stressed or during the “let-down” period afterwards. Stress can also make you tense your jaw muscles or clench your teeth, both of which can create a tension headache.

Keeps you up at night
Work issues or life events can keep you tossing and turning at night. Loss of sleep is linked to a number of health conditions and creates a vicious cycle. Insomnia increases your stress and keeps you up even more at night. Getting a better night’s sleep can help you cut down stress before it starts.

Creates digestion problems
Heartburn, stomach cramps and diarrhea can be caused by stress, or can be worsened by stress. Bouts of constipation and diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome, are also thought to be partially fueled by stress.

Weakens your immune system
Chronic stress can make it harder for you to fight off viruses and bugs. It lowers your immune system by creating hormonal changes in your body.

Makes you age prematurely
I want to live as long as possible. Traumatic events and chronic stress are both thought to shorten the telomeres in your chromosomes. This change causes your cells to age faster. It seems that exercising vigorously three times a week may be enough to counteract the effects.

We all know that chronic stress is bad for us. Our modern society creates a long-term state of stress, and it’s hard on our minds and bodies. If you’re feeling stressed, find ways to relax and learn to let go of stress!

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9 reasons to drink water

9 reasons to drink waterWhen I was younger, you were supposed to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Then, research came out that said you didn’t need to drink that much water. So, how much water should you drink?

The Institute of Medicine has determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total fluids a day. The recommended intake for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total fluids a day.

This advice isn’t that much different than the 64 ounces I learned as a kid. The one difference is that the Institute of Medicine counts all “fluids” as part of your daily total, not just water.

Is it still important to drink water? Absolutely! Here are 9 reasons to drink plenty of water each day:

Lose weight
Water aids in the metabolism of the stored fats in your body and helps flush out the by-products of fat breakdown as well as other toxins. In addition, when you choose to drink water instead of a beverage with calories, it can help you reduce your calorie intake. Drinking water can also reduce feelings of hunger so that you will eat less.

Relieve a headache
Water can help relieve headaches and back pain due to dehydration. There are many other reasons for headaches and back pain, but dehydration is a common one. Keeping hydrated may help stave off these types of aches and pains.

Help digestion
A number of digestive issues can be caused by not drinking enough water. Constipation, heartburn, gastritis and ulcers can be prevented by maintaining a proper water intake. Water can also boost metabolism by helping your digestive system work properly.

Look younger
When your skin is hydrated, you look younger. Water moisturizes your skin, replenishes skin tissues and increases skin elasticity. Basically, water gives your skin a glow and helps keep it looking fresh.

Prevent cramps
Staying hydrated will help you keep your joints and muscles lubricated. This means you are less likely to suffer from cramps or sprains.

Reduce risk of disease
Drinking plenty of water helps your body fight disease and illnesses, such as the flu, kidney stones and even a heart attack. Water may also help reduce the risks of bladder and colon cancer. Drinking water also improves your immune system and may help minimize the symptoms of arthritis.

Be more productive
You feel more energized and alert when you have proper hydration. That’s because your brain and tissues are made up primarily of water. The more water, the better your ability to think.

Exercise more effectively
You need to drink plenty of water when you are exercising. You will be more energized while you workout, and the water helps fuel your muscles. Water also helps regulate your body temperature. While you’re active, it can balance your inner temperature.

Improve your mood
Water makes your body feel good. And if your body feels good, it will tell your brain which will in turn make you feel happy. In addition, it just feels good to know you are doing something that will improve your overall health.

So, go drink a glass of water!

Is laughter the best medicine?

boy laughingKids laugh hundreds of times a day. As adults, we can go all day without laughing or sharing a laugh with someone. Why is that? For one thing, we may feel like we have to take life more seriously. In addition, we have more stress and anxiety. It’s harder to see the humor in things.

Laughter may actually be good for us. It may have physical and mental health benefits. While there may not be definitive research on the healing powers of laughter, it certainly won’t hurt you any!

What happens when you laugh?
When we laugh, we stretch the muscles throughout our face and bodies. I have laughed so hard that my stomach muscles will be sore later. It addition, your pulse goes up as well as your blood pressure, and you breathe faster which sends more oxygen to your tissues. The results of laughing are very similar to exercise. Laughter may even burn calories. What could be better than that?

How does laughing effect your health?
Finding humor in life may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the blood. It may also boost the levels of immune cells. So, laughing may help strengthen your immune system.

Laughter may help lower blood sugar levels – helping reduce the risk of diabetes.

Laughing can help you relax, give you a general sense of well-being and help you sleep better. It may also help those with chronic pain relax and achieve more pain free sleep.

You may have a more open mind when you have a good sense of humor. Laughing may help you improve your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Could laughter be the best medicine?
Scientist are not completely convinced that laughter really has major effects on our minds and bodies. For one thing, it’s really hard to conduct a controlled experiment on laughter. For instance, if research subjects reported that they were in less pain when they were laughing, is it the act of laughing or the distraction in general that brings about the pain relief? So, it becomes hard to measure the true benefits of laughter.

Yet, even if it’s not the laughing that makes you feel better, isn’t it still beneficial to laugh? Laughing means you have a good sense of humor and that means you typically take things less seriously and may better manage stress. You most likely have a positive attitude if you can see the humor in situations. You may have supportive friends and family who help give you reasons to laugh. And as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, reducing stress, having a positive outlook and having good relationships are all vital to good health.

5 ways to increase your laugh-ability:
Want to ramp up your ability to laugh and have more fun? Here are some activities to help you get in more laughs.

Spend time with happy people – If you hang out with fun and playful people, you are bound to have some laughs.

Laugh at your own expense – Share your embarrassing moments with your friends and family. Real life can be the best comedy.

Search out humorous entertainment – Go see funny movies. Read humorous books or watch comedies on TV.

Play games – Playing board games or charades with friends and family will most likely involve friendly bickering, good natured name-calling and quite a few laughs.

Hang out with kids – Spending time with kids brings out the kid in all of us. And, kids can say the darnedest things. They bring spontaneity and humor without even trying.

So, take time to laugh today. You’ll feel better, you may be healthier, and you just might brighten someone else’s day!

10 reasons to get more sleep

need more sleepI have terrible sleep habits. I like to stay up late, I watch TV or play on my iPad in bed, and then I don’t want to get up in the morning. Most nights, I get maybe 6 hours of continuous sleep. No big deal, right? So what if I can take a nap standing up and get grouchy for no reason.

Well, after doing some research, I was surprised by how much getting enough sleep affects overall health and well-being.

Check out these 10 reasons you should get more sleep:

Live longer
I was surprised to learn that getting enough sleep can help you live longer. Sleep may have more influence on longevity than healthy eating habits, exercising or heredity. Without enough sleep, you are more likely to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke or possibly even develop breast cancer.

Be healthier
Sleep may also help you fight off illness. Good sleep helps boost your immune system. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to catch colds, the flu and other infectious diseases. It will also take you longer to recover if you are skimping on sleep.

Look better
Yes, you do need your beauty sleep. We undergo changes in metabolism and secrete growth hormones when we are in our deepest sleep. That means you look better – and possibly even younger – when you are well-rested instead of deprived of sleep. 

Feel better
You also feel better when you get plenty of sleep. You have more energy, ambition and enthusiasm. Being more rested can help you have a better attitude and be prepared to deal with whatever comes your way throughout the day.

Build your brain
Sleep can boost your memory. During sleep, new memories are processed in your brain. Lack of sleep affects your concentration, decision-making skills and overall performance. In fact, not getting enough sleep can have mental and physical affects similar to drinking too much alcohol. Sleep just helps your brain work better.

Be skinnier
Studies suggest that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight. Sleep can help you maintain better hormonal balance, and that helps you choose to eat healthier foods. When you are sleep deprived, you crave high-carb and high-sugar foods. So, sleep more and leave the cake, donuts and cookies alone.

Be safer
As mentioned earlier, being sleep deprived is similar to drinking too much alcohol. With the right amount of sleep, you are more alert and aware. You are less likely to have an injury due to falling or being careless. In addition, you are a better driver when you are more rested.

Make better decisions
Lack of sleep can make it difficult to make good decisions, or for that matter, even any decision at all. I have been known to stare at my sock drawer for five minutes in the morning, trying to pick out a pair of socks. I have trouble making decisions on a good day, but without enough sleep it’s nearly impossible.

Reduce pain
Physical pain can be associated with lack of sleep. Studies have shown that if you have chronic pain from an injury, getting enough sleep may help reduce the pain. Sleep is nature’s pain reliever and can even help reduce the need for pain medication.

Be happier
When you are deprived of sleep, you may experience more moodiness and anxiety. Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can also lead to depression. Getting enough sleep can improve your overall mood, help you concentrate and improve your productivity. You can better cope with stress and stressful situations in your day-to-day life.

After learning how important sleep can be to my overall health, I am setting a goal to get 8 hours of sleep every night. Are you sleep deprived? Tell us about your sleep habits!