You may have an itchy skin because you are plagued with dry skin, eczema, psoriasis or a rash caused by poison ivy or another contact allergen. It might also be caused by those pesky mosquitoes or other insect bites. Whatever the cause, try a soothing oatmeal bath to calm that angry skin.
The perfect colloidal oatmeal bath
It’s really easy to create a colloidal oatmeal bath. First, however you need to make or purchase the colloidal oatmeal. It’s easy to make, simply put some regular oats in a coffee grinder and turn them into very fine flour.
Add enough of your colloidal oats to your bath to turn the water a milky color. Be sure and use a non-stick mat in your tub as oats will make it very slippery. Soak in the bath for 10 minutes and rinse with warm, not hot, water. There will be some particles in your bath water which I don’t mind. If you choose, you can avoid that by putting the oats in a sock. Tie off the open end and allow the warm water to flow over it as you fill the tub. After the tub is filled, squeeze the sock to force the “oat milk” into your bath. You can opt to take two or three colloidal oatmeal baths a day if you have an itchy rash.
You can also add 1½ teaspoons lavender essential oil which is good to help with eczema, psoriasis and allergies. Plus, lavender essential oil adds a delightful fragrance to your bath.
Pat your skin dry with a towel when you get out of the tub. If you rub your skin, you will irritate the itchy areas and make them itch worse.
As you begin scrambling for the latest and most scientific information relating to stripping off those last few layers of body fat that seem to cling to you for dear life, you’re likely coming across a wide range of content concerning the best foods for belly-fat loss.
Maybe you’re also finding the best exercises to help boost the metabolism, the best workout designs that promise to add more muscle definition, and the best times to be eating if you hope to maximize the amount of fat you burn throughout the day.
There’s no question about it, what you eat and how you exercise are two significant contributors to the overall success rate you see. But after that, it’s important to not overlook some of the other contributing factors that can sway the type of progress you experience.
Make no mistake, achieving maximum fat loss and getting that “ripped” look that you see on the cover of your favourite health and fitness magazine is a 24/7 endeavour. If you aren’t on top of the game at all times, there is a large chance you’ll falter.
One specific component that very often gets overlooked is that of sleep. No one ever thinks of sleep being a factor in success since, after all, you are barely conscious while you sleep. How much damage could you really do to your progress while you are sleeping?
The answer is that it’s not what you do while you’re sleeping per se, it’s the quality and quantity of sleep you get. Let’s dig a bit further so you can see the profound connection sleep has with your weight loss.
INCREASED DAYTIME CORTISOL LEVELS
One of the first major problems that are associated with a lack of sleep is an increased daytime cortisol level. As you may have already known, cortisol is a hormone that is released within the body that works to break down body tissues. In times of stress, you will find cortisol levels very high since the body is getting ready for the fight or flight response mechanism.
Dieting itself puts the body in a stressed state since it is taking in fewer calories than it would ideally like to function; therefore you’re already at risk for such problems as muscle mass loss (which occurs when high cortisol levels begin breaking down the body’s tissues).
In one study put on by the Laboratory of Physiology in Belgium, researchers noted that those who were shorting themselves of sleep noticed higher afternoon and early evening cortisol levels than those who were not.
IMPAIRED GLUCOSE CONTROL
Have you ever found that after a late night out or a night of simply tossing and turning where sleep was hard to come by, the next day you were craving carbohydrates like a pregnant woman a few days before delivery?
One study conducted in Chicago noted that on-going sleep deprivation is responsible for a number of changes in the hormonal release and metabolism of humans, especially increased hunger and appetite.
Often in very fatigued states the body senses this fatigue and perceives a low supply of energy as a result, kick-starting internal drives to eat (hunger).
In addition to this, the researchers also pointed out that sleep restriction can decrease glucose and insulin sensitivity, two of the most critical factors that are involved in the development or prevention of diabetes as well as regulating the satiety you feel after a meal is eaten.
While you may think staying up for that extra hour to catch your favourite TV isn’t really all that detrimental, if the truth is told it could be dramatically increasing the chances that you develop diabetes.
INCREASED VISCERAL ADIPOSE TISSUE
For most people on a fat loss diet, the visceral fat is the fat that’s most important to lose because it’s the type that will set you up for the greatest overall health threats.
While you may see subcutaneous fat gains easier (as this is the fat directly under the skin), a high level of fat surrounding the organs is really going to be problematic and could eventually be life threatening.
Researchers from the John Carroll University used a continuous dark versus continuous light exposure test to assess the impacts on a group of animals. They wanted to measure melatonin levels, the metabolic parameters, the circadian rhythm activity patterns, as well as any behaviour changes that took place when animals were either placed in a standard condition with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, 24 hours of darkness, or 24 hours of continuous light.
After the study was completed the researchers noticed that the 24 hour light animals demonstrated a significantly greater visceral adipose tissue than the other two groups who did have darkness hours as well as those who were always exposed to light noted a lower level of overall activity and started to become extremely irritable and easily excited.
The body naturally wants to maintain its normal circadian rhythm with proper light and dark periods for wakefulness and sleep, and when these are altered; negative events take place with regards to body fatness and overall health.
In another study performed in the Czech Republic and published in Physiological Research, researchers found that optimal body weight was strongly associated with test subjects who maintained seven hours of sleep each night, making that the guideline that you should try and shoot for.
While some rare individuals may find they feel fine on much lower levels of sleep (5-6 hours) and others may find they need a great deal more (9+ hours per night), for most adults living a regular lifestyle with added training, 7-8 hours of sleep is optimal.
Generally the more intense and frequent your training sessions are, the more sleep you may require in order to recover properly. In these situations if 8-9 hours is not manageable, short afternoon naps can sometimes do the trick.
SLEEP AND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE
Finally, you must not overlook the connection between the amount of sleep you get and your overall exercise performance. When you are short on sleep, it’s quite typical to find yourself struggling to maintain the usual level of exercise that you normally would tolerate quite well.
In addition to this, since sleep is the primary time the body recovers from exercise, it’s also when you will be rebuilding your torn muscle tissues. Without this recovery time, you’re going to go into your next exercise session at a disadvantage.
One of the key recommendations for combating over training syndrome, which will quickly take you away from your workouts and limit further fat loss, is getting quality sleep. Failing to do so could mean you having to take time away from your program, which will without question of a doubt, slow you down.
So make sure you’re getting your 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Not only are you going to feel better, think clearer, and be much stronger when it comes to battling those food cravings that are so common with fat loss diets, but you’ll also really be helping promote better long-term health as well.
Copinschi, G. (2005). Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacol. 6(6):341-7.
Murphy, HM., & Wideman, CH. (2009). Constant light induced alterations in melatonin levels, food intake, feed efficiency, visceral adiposity, and circadian rhythms in rats. Oct;12(5):233-40.
Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2010). Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss In Hormonal Release and Metabolism. Endocrine Development. 17:11-21.
Backx, FJ. Et al. (2009). Evaluation and opportunities in overtraining approaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Dec;80(4):756-64.
With chorizo, garlic and lemon dressing
Servings : 4
1/4 cup olive oil
1 chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 fresh tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
100 g chorizo, thinly sliced
juice of 2 lemons
salt and freshly ground pepper
10 g parsley, roughly chopped
1.5 kg prawns, de-veined and butterflied
lemon wedges for serving
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and sauté chilli, garlic, tomatoes and chorizo together for a few minutes until tomatoes just begin to soften.
Add lemon juice, remaining oil and season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and add chopped parsley.
Drizzle prawns with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill prawns over hot coals or on a grill pan for a few minutes until the shells turn pink and fish is just cooked.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges and the chorizo dressing.
For the berry coulis, place the berries, xylitol and water in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Press down on the berries with a spoon to crush them slightly and allow to cool.
For the cheesecake layer, heat the water, xylitol, lemon juice and vanilla in a saucepan for 2 minutes until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Combine with the yoghurt and cream cheese and whisk with an electric whisk until smooth.
For the nutty layer, stir everything together. Add ¼ cup of the cheesecake mixture and stir until combined.
To assemble, divide the berry coulis between 8 large popsicle moulds. Top it off with the cream cheese mixture, leaving about a 1cm gap at the top of each mould. Use a skewer to lightly swirl the berry coulis and cheesecake mixture together in each mould. Top each one off with a layer of the nutty mixture. Add wooden popsicle sticks and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Check on the wooden popsicle sticks after 1 hour of freezing time to make sure they are still centered and standing up straight. Adjust if needed.
Tip: Frozen berries give the best colour, but fresh berries can be used.
Mackerel and sardines are very good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. They play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Oats are a good source of soluble fibre- also known as oat beta-glucan. Research suggests that the soluble fibre in oats may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels, specifically LDL cholesterol.
1 can (400 g) of mackerel (middle cut)
¼ cup oat bran
½ cup grated carrot
1 free-range egg
zest of 1 lemon
10g chopped fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley)
salt and pepper
2Tbs avocado oil
1 cup cooked pearl barley, cold
½ medium cucumber
50g almonds, raw and chopped
50g mixed bean sprouts
100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
50g sliced red onion
salt and pepper
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1tsp smooth Dijon mustard
4Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1tsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
Drain the mackerel of any liquid, and put it into a large mixing bowl.
Using a fork, shred the fish up until it’s fine and there are no large chunks.
Add the oat bran, carrot, egg, lemon zest, and chopped herbs, and mix well.
Leave the mixture to stand for about 30 minutes in the fridge, so the oat bran soaks up excess liquid in the mixture.
Separate the mixture into 8 equal sized balls, and shape them into patties.
Season the fishcakes with salt and pepper.
Put a large non-stick frying pan onto a medium heat and drizzle the oil into the pan.
Once the pan is hot, add the fishcakes and fry on the first side for around 2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them over and repeat on the other side.
Wash the cucumber, tomatoes and herbs.
Using a peeler, shave the cucumber into ribbons.
Cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and pip and cut the avocado into chunks.
In a large bowl, mix together the barley, cucumber ribbons, almonds, bean sprouts, tomatoes, onion, tear the fennel and basil up and add to the salad.
Assemble the salad on a platter. Spread the barley salad mixture on the bottom of the platter.
Add the chunks of avocado, and crumble the feta over the top of the salad. Sprinkle the watercress on top of the salad.
Whisk together the lemon juice, zest and mustard.
Drizzle the olive oil into the lemon mixture whilst whisking.
Mix in the chopped chives, and season with salt & pepper.
Healthy living involves more than physical health, it also includes emotional or mental health. The following are some ways people can support their mental health and well-being.
Get enough sleep daily; the CDC recommends the following by age group (naps inclusive); 12-18 hours from birth to 2 months, 14-15 hours from 3-11 months of age, 12-18 hours for 1-3 years of age, 11-13 hours for 3-5 years of age, 10-11 hours for 5-10 years of age, eight and a half to nine and a half hours for 10-17 years of age and those 18 and above need seven to nine hours of sleep. Elderly people need about seven to nine hours but do not sleep as deeply and may awaken at night or wake early, so naps (like kids need) allow them to accumulate the total of seven to nine hours of sleep.
Take a walk and reflect on what you see and hear at least several times per week.
Try something new and often (eat a new food, try a different route to work, go to a new museum display).
Do some mind exercises (read, do a puzzle occasionally during the week).
Try to focus on a process intensely and complete a segment of it over one to several hours, then take a break and do something relaxing (walk, exercise, short nap).
Plan to spend some time talking with other people about different subjects.
Try to make some leisure time to do some things that interest you every week (hobby, sport).
Learn ways to say “no” when something occurs that you do not want to do or be involved with.
Have fun (go on a trip with someone you love, go shopping, go fishing; do not let vacation time slip away).
Let yourself be pleased with your achievements, both big and small (develop contentment).
Have a network of friends; those with strong social support systems lead healthier lives.
Seek help and advice early if you feel depressed, have suicidal thoughts, or consider harming yourself or others.
People taking medicine for mental-health problems should not stop taking these medications, no matter how “well” they feel, until they have discussed their situation with their prescribing doctor(s).
Avoid tobacco use
Tobacco use is the most important preventable illness and cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Tobacco use was estimated to be the cause of 443,000 deaths in 2010 in the U.S.
Stop smoking tobacco; start to stop today (it takes about 15 years of non-smoking behaviour to achieve a “normal” risk level for heart disease for those that smoke).
Stop using chewing tobacco to avoid oral cancers.
Adverse consequences of tobacco use:
Tobacco use causes or contributes to a large number of cancers in the U.S. In men, 90% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to smoking; 80% in women. Tobacco use causes cancers of the lung, mouth, lip, tongue, esophagus,kidney, and bladder. It also further increases the risk of bladder cancer in subjects occupationally exposed to certain organic chemicals found in the textile, leather, rubber, dye, paint, and other organic chemical industries, and further increases the risk of lung cancer among subjects exposed to asbestos.
Tobacco use causes atherosclerotic arterial disease (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and lack of blood flow to the lower extremities. Tobacco use causes an estimated 20%-30% of coronary heart disease in the U.S. It also further increases the risk of heart attacks among subjects with elevated cholesterol, uncontrolled hypertension, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Tobacco use causes an estimated 20% of chronic lung diseases in the U.S., such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and causes pneumonia in those with chronic lung disease. The CDC, in 2011, estimated that 90% of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) were due to smoking.
Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to deliver babies with low birth weight.
Second-hand smoke can cause middle-ear infections (otitis media), coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, and pneumonia in babies, and aggravate asthma in children. Second-hand smoke (sometimes referred to as passive smoking) can also cause lung cancer.
Comments and recommendations (tips):
Quitting smoking is difficult to accomplish; tobacco contains nicotine, which is addictive. Some smokers can quit “cold turkey,” but for most, quitting smoking requires a serious life-long commitment and an average of six quitting attempts before success.
Quitting smoking efforts may include behavior modification, counseling, use of nicotine chewing gum (Nicorette Gum), nicotine skin patches (Transderm Nicotine), or oral medications such as bupropion (Zyban).
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Adverse consequences of excessive alcohol consumption:
Chronic, excess alcohol consumption is the major cause of liver cirrhosis in the U.S.
Liver cirrhosis can cause internal haemorrhage, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, easy bleeding and bruising, muscle wasting, mental confusion, infections, and in advanced cases, coma, and kidney failure.
Liver cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer.
Alcohol accounts for 40%-50% of deaths from automobile accidents in the U.S.
Alcohol use is a significant cause of injury and death from home accidents, drowning, and burns.
Comments and recommendations (tips):
There are many treatments for alcoholism. But the crucial first step to recovery is for the individual to admit there is a problem and make a commitment to address the alcoholism issue. The 12-step-style self-help programs, pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, can be one effective treatment. Psychologists and related professionals have developed programs to help individual’s better handle emotional stresses and avoid behaviours that can lead to excess drinking. Support and understanding from family members are often critical for sustained recovery. Medication can be useful for the prevention of relapses and for withdrawal symptoms following acute or prolonged intoxication.
Avoid high-risk sexual behaviours
High-risk sexual behaviour can lead to the acquisition of sexually transmitted illnesses such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, or HIV infection. High-risk sexual behaviour is also known to spread human papillomavirus infection, which can lead to cervical cancer in women and other ano-genital cancers in both men and women.
High-risk sexual behaviours include the following:
Multiple sex partners
Sex partners with a history of the following:
Intravenous drug use
Venereal disease (sexually transmitted diseases or STDs)
Adverse consequences of high-risk sexual behaviour:
Transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes)
Transmission of hepatitis B (50% of hepatitis B infections are due to sexual transmission) and, in rare instances, hepatitis C
Transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause genital warts and ano-genital carcinomas, most commonly cancer of the uterine cervix
Avoid unprotected sex (sex without barriers such as a condom) outside an established, committed, monogamous relationship.
If you plan to have sex and are unsure of your partner’s health status, use a condom.
Avoid other high-risk behaviors
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Driving while sleep-deprived
Reckless driving and speeding, “road rage”
Driving while using cell phones, texting, or performing other tasks
Motorcycle (and bicycle) riding without helmets
Possession of firearms and guns without proper training and storage
Smoking in bed
Adverse consequences of high-risk behaviours:
Motor vehicle accidents account for 40%-50% of accidental deaths.
Motorcycle accidents are a major cause of serious head injuries.
Firearms and guns account for a significant proportion of deaths among adolescents due to male suicide and homicide.
Smoking in bed can lead to burn injury and death.
When driving, use seat restraints on all passengers, both front and rear seats.
Do not drink and drive.
Do not drive if sleep deprived.
Avoid unnecessary distractions and focus on the road and traffic while driving (avoid texting, talking on cell phones, eating, applying makeup, or other distractions).
Use helmets while riding bicycles and motorcycles. Helmet use reduces deaths from motorcycle accidents by 30% and serious head injuries by 75%.
Obtain proper training in the use and storage of guns and ammunition.
Use smoke detectors; avoid smoking in bed.
Adverse consequences of excess sun exposure:
Melanoma and other skin cancers
Avoid sunburns and sun exposure by using adequate skin protection; use brimmed hats, protective clothing, and sunscreen.
Sunscreens have undergone changes, and the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published new requirements that sunscreens needed to meet starting in 2012. Currently, the FDA suggests an effective sunscreen is rated as SPF 30 or higher and has both UVA and UVB protection (protection against ultraviolet waves of types A and B). In most instances, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours and each time after a person has gone swimming.
Additional tips for healthy living
Although there are many other risky behaviours that may impede an otherwise healthy lifestyle (for example, working with toxic or radioactive materials, drug addiction, travel to areas with unusual endemic diseases), these are too numerous to cover in this general article. However, the reader is advised to visit such topic sites on MedicineNet.com, eMedicineHealth.com or WebMD.com because most of the specific articles will provide tips to avoid health-related problems.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery
Physical activity and exercise is a major contributor to a healthy lifestyle; people are made to use their bodies, and disuse leads to unhealthy living. Unhealthy living may manifest itself in obesity, weakness, lack of endurance, and overall poor health that may foster disease development.
Regular exercise can prevent and reverse age-related decreases in muscle mass and strength, improve balance, flexibility, and endurance, and decrease the risk of falls in the elderly. Regular exercise can help prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Regular, weight-bearing exercise can also help prevent osteoporosis by building bone strength.
Regular exercise can help chronic arthritis sufferers improve their capacity to perform daily activities such as driving, climbing stairs, and opening jars.
Regular exercise can help increase self-esteem and self-confidence, decrease stress and anxiety, enhance mood, and improve general mental health.
Regular exercise can help control weight gain and in some people cause loss of fat.
Thirty minutes of modest exercise (walking is OK) at least three to five days a week is recommended, but the greatest health benefits come from exercising most days of the week.
Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury or excessive soreness or fatigue. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
People are never too old to start exercising. Even frail, elderly individuals (70-90 years of age) can improve their strength and balance with exercise.
Almost any type of exercise (resistance, water aerobics, walking, swimming, weights, yoga, and many others) is helpful for everybody.
Children need exercise; play outside of the home is a good beginning.
Sports for children may provide excellent opportunities for exercise, but care must be taken not to overdo certain exercises (for example, throwing too many pitches in baseball may harm a joint like the elbow or shoulder).
Exertion during strenuous exercise may make a person tired and sore, but if pain occurs, stop the exercise until the pain source is discovered; the person may need to seek medical help and advice about continuation of such exercise.
Most individuals can begin moderate exercise, such as walking, without a medical examination. The following people, however, should consult a doctor before beginning more vigorous exercise:
Men over age 40 or women over age 50
Individuals with heart or lung disease, asthma, arthritis, or osteoporosis
Individuals who experience chest pressure or pain with exertion, or who develop fatigue or shortness of breath easily
Individuals with conditions that increase their risks of developing coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, or having family members who had early onset heart attacks and coronary heart disease
Individuals who are morbidly obese
Consequences of physical inactivity and lack of exercise:
Physical inactivity and lack of exercise are associated with heart disease and some cancers.
Physical inactivity and lack of exercise are associated with type II diabetes mellitus (also known as maturity or adult-onset, non-insulin-dependent diabetes).
Physical inactivity and lack of exercise contribute to weight gain.