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By Martha Jette

Children like to have fun, so any exercise for them must include that very important element.

Children are less likely to rigidly follow an exercise regimen that demands daily workouts than they are to take part in activities they enjoy that will help them lose weight. Livingstrong.com recommends such activities as races, dancing, swimming and playground games to keep your child active.

If these types of activities become commonplace in your family, your child won’t even realize your ulterior motive – getting him or her to lose weight and stay healthy.

As a family activity, such exercises get kids away from the television and computer, and help everyone become healthier and stronger.

My Family Exercise.com suggests other ways to get kids active, including taking a nature hike or playing a ball game. My daughter takes her daughter along with her climbing the Wentworth stairs up Hamilton Mountain several times a week. To make it fun for my granddaughter, my daughter makes it a challenge to see who can get to the top first. If she wins, she gets a non-fattening treat.

It’s also a good idea to get your children into an organized sport that interests them. My grandson plays hockey twice a week and plays street hockey often in between. This type of regular exercise will help burn off access calories and aid in losing weight.

I have seen my daughter enjoy wonderful times with my grandchildren while keeping them active with such things as jumping balls, playing soccer, tobogganing, skating, using a hoola hoop (good for the waistline!), bowling and more. Recently, she and her husband purchased a safely enclosed trampoline that provides hours of jumping fun, while at the same time helps reduce body fat. According to FunSpot.com, jumping on a trampoline for 20 to 30 minutes also increases the heart rate and lung capacity, and improves flexibility, reflexes and spatial awareness.

“Another benefit of trampolining is that it affects joints, strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint, and improves movement, thereby reducing risk developing some forms of arthritis.”

Of course, it’s not necessary to purchase a trampoline in some areas where they can be found at public parks and recreational facilities. You could also opt for a one-person trampoline for use inside your home.

By Martha Jette

A Family Plan to eat Right

The most successful children’s diet is one that the entire family eats, so the younger members of the family do not feel they are being singled out. Children who are obese are often teased enough by their peers and don’t deserve added humiliation.

And because children are still growing, it is vitally important to ensure that any diet you put them on is chock full of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary for healthy growth.

According to Keeping Kids Healthy.com, the United States Department of Agriculture has devised a food pyramid specifically for children age 2 to 6 years old. Focusing on the five major food groups, with emphasis on grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

Rather than filling children up on potatoes, you can substitute some meals with brown rice, which contains Vitamin B, iron, magnesium, selenium and fiber. Also switch from white to whole wheat breads that contain less fat and more fiber, along with magnesium, folic acid essential for DNA synthesis and repair, copper, zinc, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E.

For proper bone development, children need foods rich in calcium, which does not mean just dairy products. Other sources include calcium fortified orange juice, tofu, spinach, canned pink salmon with bones, plain oatmeal, white beans, kale, okra, beet greens and fortified cold cereals. Calcium is also high in Vitamin D, which helps maintain organ functions.

Encourage children to eat salad several times a week that includes plenty of low-calorie high fiber greens. While all are good for children, the darker lettuces contain more vitamins. Add to that, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, broccoli, snap beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots and even some fruits such as apples and pears.

You can even add some variety by including small cuts of such high protein foods as eggs, cooked shrimp, skinless chicken breast, shredded cheese or tuna. However, make sure you’re not adding too many things and raising the amount of calories. Also be sure to use a low-calorie salad dressing. An alternative is to make your own low-cal salad dressing.

Also keep plenty of fruit in the house that are in easy reach for healthy snacks, including, bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries, grapes and pears. Raspberries, blueberries, apples and raisins are also high in antioxidants that reduce free radicals that can damage cells.

For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) high protein foods have been found to calm them down and improve learning. Studies on the blood and hair of children with ADHD (Kozielec 1994 and 1997) showed low levels of magnesium, zinc and iron.

A simple and easy source of magnesium can be found in bananas. Zinc, important for a healthy immune system and growth, is found in such meats as beef and lamb, shellfish, whole grain cereals and legumes. Iron, which is needed for healthy blood and brain development, can be obtained from beef, liver, lamb, pork, poultry and seafood.

Brain foods are also vital to developing minds. This means eating foods that are high in protein and amino acids that promote production of neurotransmitters in brain cells. The Food for the Brain Foundation conducted a seven-month pilot study on hyperactive children at Cricket Green special education school in Merton, London.

Pupils were given long chain fatty acid supplements “eye q”, Omega-3 fish oil and Omega-6 evening primrose oil , along with a balanced diet, exercise and a multivitamin. The study found that behavioral issues dropped 25 per cent. The foundation is expected to release a new study on more than 10,000 British school children between 6 and 16 years of age soon. This study will compare diet with “behavior, academic performance, SAT scores and overall health.”

Liver is also an excellent source of Vitamin A needed for healthy growth. If your child refuses to eat certain foods, you might need to supplement their diet with protein shakes, vitamins and minerals.

Even fat is essential but choose foods with Omega-3 and Omega-6, such as salmon, tuna, avocado, nuts and seeds bearing in mind that the latter two items may cause a choking hazard in very young children. Omega-3 and Omega-6 assists in brain development.

Foods to limit of course are fast foods, as well as desserts, soda drinks, cereals and candy that are high in sugar, along with unhealthy fats found in fried foods, potato chips, cake, ice cream and soft drinks.

By Martha Jette

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid.gov, a healthy diet can be achieved by following its food pyramid guidelines.

It is up to each person to make a commitment to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The pyramid, which is also sanctioned by the Mayo Clinic, is designed to offer not only good health maintenance, but also improve health. By following its recommendations, the risk of such chronic health concerns as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even depression can be greatly diminished.

Your diet should include:

Whole Grains: These are a great source of complex carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, fiber, selenium, potassium and magnesium. Complex carbohydrates, which provide much-needed energy, can also be found in rice, whole-wheat pasta, cereal, potatoes, corn, dry beans and green vegetables.

Vegetables: While most vegetables are a terrific source of vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and fiber, some have been found to have additional benefits. What is called cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and Brussels sprouts contain phytonutrients that help fight various forms of cancer.

Yellow, green and orange vegetables contain carotenoids, a potent antioxidant, to boost the immune system. Greens, including such lettuce, spinach, broccoli and green peppers are loaded with Vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Purple, blue and emerald-green veggies are rich in flavonoids, have antioxidant properties and can help prevent heart disease and cancer. Flavonoids improve the cardiovascular system, thus lowering the risk of heart disease. Its other benefits include reversing short-term memory loss and improvement of motor skills.

The National Cancer Institute recommends eating at least five servings of vegetables each day. If you have a craving for something sweet, choose such vegetables as corn, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots or winter squash.

Fruit:  These are a wonderful source of healthy nutrients and should be a part of any diet. Apples contain pectin, which can lower your cholesterol level, Vitamin C, fiber for bowel regularity and potassium. Research has found that eating two apples a week can also lower the risk of developing asthma.

Recent research has shown that blueberries contain the highest antioxidant ability of any other fruit. They are believed to fight Alzheimer’s disease, improve vision, help stop diarrhea or constipation and like cranberries, promote a healthy urinary tract.

Tangerines, oranges and grapefruit are high in Vitamin C, B1, B2 and B6, flavonoids, fiber and more. Vitamin C has many health benefits for the immune system, eyes, reproductive organs, connective tissue and adrenal glands.

Every fruit provides health benefits of some kind. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least four servings of fruit a day.

Protein:  The Harvard School of Public Health suggests that instead of eating a porterhouse steak, you opt for something like salmon, which delivers a little less protein but much less saturated fat. Other healthy choices include chicken and turkey that are hormone and antibiotic free.

Proteins can also be found in milk, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, lentils, peas, tofu and whole grain foods. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 0.8 grams for each kilogram of body weight each day.

Dairy Products: For strong and healthy bones, the body needs calcium and Vitamin D found in dairy products. The recommended daily consumption is 1,000 mg per day. Other sources of these vitamins are green, leafy vegetables, green beans and dried beans.

Good Fats: When it comes to fat, not all of it is bad for you. Monounsaturated fat can be found in olive, peanut and canola oil, as well as some seeds and avocados. Polyunsaturated fat, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are found in fish, soybeans, flaxseed oils, corn and walnuts. Saturated fats are found in red meat and whole milk dairy products, while trans fats are found in margarine, shortening, cookies, fried foods, baked goods and more.

The types of fat, which are good for you, are unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help fight cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. Most saturated fats, however, clog the arteries and raise your cholesterol level.

Water: Since the human body is composed of 75 percent water, regular intake of water is vital to flush out wastes and toxins that settle in the body. Instead of choosing fruit drinks, which often contain a lot of sugar, soft drinks or those with caffeine, opt for a cool glass of cold water instead to keep yourself hydrated. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming eight glasses of fluid a day.

They say fluid because water is consumed by eating such things as vegetables as well. A good guide to follow is that if your urine is too yellow, you’re not consuming enough water. A lack of water in the body can cause a decrease in energy and headaches.

As with most things in life, the key to a healthy diet is moderation. Never taboo certain foods because they’re not as healthy for you. Simply restrict how much you eat of it.

By Martha Jette

Because the physiology and development of females differs so greatly from men, there are a number of exercises that can assist with the major changes they will do through during their lives.

Menstruation

The first major change in a woman’s life is the onset of menstruation (menarche) that generally occurs between 11 and 13 years of age. According to a New York Times article “women who exercise regularly, such as joggers, report that since taking up their activity on a regular basis, they have experienced less premenstrual tension, less menstrual discomfort, shorter periods and less bleeding.”

It has been generally believed that exercise releases endorphins that help block pain. However, an article on BlissTree.com disputes these claims. In a study of 650 students at Birmingham University, UK, researchers found “no link between exercise and period pain.”

The findings published in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology note that with exercise, 72 percent reported little or no pain while 28 percent experienced moderate to severe pain leading the researchers to conclude that any relationship between exercise and menstrual pain is “merely anecdotal.”

However, studies at Colorado State University and Harvard Medical School found that vigorous physical activity actually impedes the beginning of menstruation. In the Harvard study, Dr. Rose E. Frisch found that ballet dancing inhibited menstruate by one year and “10 percent of ballet dancers who had reached the age of 18 ½ had not yet begun to menstruate.”

Despite the contradicting and confusing evidence so far, moderate exercise has been found to help ease the premenstrual tension and cramping in some women.

Pregnancy

The next major physiological change occurs in women who are pregnant. During this time, a woman’s breasts, uterus and fetus grow causing an increase in weight. During this delicate time, women must avoid extreme exercise regimes, weight-bearing exercises and even those that involve sudden movements.

Because exercise diverts blood flow from the abdominal area to exercising muscles, fetal hypoxemia can occur, which adversely affects fetal circulation of blood and oxygen to the umbilical cord and aorta.

According to the American Family Physician, published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, moderate exercise is generally fine for a healthy pregnant woman during the first and second trimester, but should be avoided during the third. However, even exercising in the second trimester has been associated with both “decreased maternal and fetal weight gain” and those who do so in the third trimester also risk premature labor.

One form of exercise that is less intensive and more suitable for pregnant women is yoga. Health & Yoga.com states that exercises to work the pelvis and concentrate on breathing can help women with natural childbirth.

Postnatal Exercise

After childbirth, a woman’s greatest challenge is strengthening her stomach muscles. Trainer and exercise physiologist Tom Holland of Darien, Connecticut says, “Muscle fibers in the abdominals run diagonally. Working them in the way they were designed to move gets you the best results in both strength and tone.”

Basically, that means doing exercises that twist the muscles, such as the Corkscrew where you lie on your back with your hands under your behind – palms down. The legs are pointed upward. You tighten your stomach and lift your behind six to eight inches – then twist the legs and hips one way. Relax, get into place again and twist the other way.

Twisting the stomach muscles can also be accomplished using a Medicine Ball attached to a rope. With your back against the wall and feet apart, swing the ball to hit the wall one way and then the other. Another abdominal exercise involves lying on your back with one (or two) leg bended and held close to the stomach. The nose is then touched to the knee and the breath is held for several seconds.

Perimenopause

The next major physiological change a woman experiences is perimenopause at approximately 51 years of age, which can occur between 10 and 15 years before the actual onset of menopause. Along with this change, many women notice an increase in fat around their waistline.

If a woman this age is basically healthy, the twisting exercises will help once again. However, women with chronic illnesses might even find yoga difficult. In such cases, the family physician should be consulted.

Perhaps something like low-impact swimming would be better to stretch the muscles and keep the body limber. Some women opt for exercise programs carried out in heated pools to further soothe their stiff joints.

Of course between these life-changing periods that a woman endures, regular and even high-impact exercises can help keep them in shape. During these times, anything goes from running and jogging right up to weight lifting depending upon a woman’s health and desired goals.

By Martha Jette

Anyone who has been addicted to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs knows the difficulty with overcoming the habit. Although aromatherapy is not a treatment for addiction, it can assist in your recovery.

Former smokers experience a number of new sensations when they try to quit, including agitation, nervousness, insomnia, a desire to replace the habit with eating and even irrational thinking or behavior.

Those who quit drinking or taking drugs generally experience all of these symptoms as well as physical pains, blurred vision and hallucinations.

Aromatherapy is a process of chemistry that uses plants found in nature to create healing oils that can be used as a complementary therapy. Throughout history, healing oils, such as olive oil have been sued to treat illness and promote well-being. The world’s first recorded chemist was Tapputi, a perfume maker mentioned in a Cuneiform tablet dating back to the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia.

In the 9th century, A.D., Arabian chemist, Al-Kindi (Alkindus) wrote Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations that contained more than 100 recipes for fragrant oils, salves and aromatic waters that can be used as alternatives to costly drugs.

Then a Persian physician, scientist and teacher, Avicenna (Hussain ibn Abdullah ibn Hassan ibn Ali ibn Sina), born around 980 A.D. in Greater Khorasan, discovered how to extract oils from flowers by distillation, a procedure still used today. He also wrote about 450 treatises, 40 of which were on medicine. His most famous are The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine.

Natural oils contain their own chemicals such as alcohol, phenols, the properties of which are similar to alcohol and ketones that must always be used correctly to avoid toxicity. Recent studies have shown that aromatherapy can help alleviate a variety of problems. For the person withdrawing from an addiction, these fragrant compounds affect the mind and have proved helpful in easing stress, anxiety and psychosomatic disorders.

A study on mice that were wired on caffeine found that lavender, sandalwood and other oils that were sprayed into their cages had a definite calming effect. In fact, the oils were even detected in their bloodstreams an hour later. That’s because essential oils are inhaled, which trigger the brain’s limbic region, focusing on emotional and physical actions.

A study at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York found that 63 percent of patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reported that after being exposed to vanilla, they felt less anxiety over their treatments. Other studies have shown that lavender oil massaged into the skin of patients in intensive care helped them feel better.

There are three basic ways to use essential oils:

1. Undiluted in an oil or candle lamp.

2. Massaged on the skin

3. Put in bath water

By Martha Jette

Alternative medicines that fall under the moniker of homeopathy have been found effective in assisting people with various addictions.

Addiction is a brain disorder that occurs when there is an imbalance or dysfunction of the neurotransmitters. While the human body has about 130 of its own natural chemicals that enable you to function properly, the chemicals in drugs, alcohol and nicotine, when added into the mix get mistaken as bodily produced chemicals.

As a result, when you quit consuming a particular chemical, the body craves it. From that point on, the body becomes addicted to it and wants more whether it is good for it or not.

Homeopathy consists of highly diluted remedies used to treat illness, as well as relieve discomfort due to specific health conditions. These can be particular helpful during what is known as the withdrawal period after certain chemicals are no longer put into the body.

When recommending a homeopathic medicine, a person’s physical, mental and emotional state is taken into consideration. As an alternative to prescription drugs, these medicines can help addictive behavior by reducing a person’s underlying issues that spur them on to continue their destructive addiction. For instance, these issues may include emotional factors, food allergies, cravings and stress.

The homeopathic medicine is also designed to strengthen the immune system and help heal it. The added bonus is that unlike prescribed drugs, there are no side effects.

It will take the body a bit longer to react however, so patience is key. It would also be helpful to use other non-prescription therapies alongside homeopathic treatment as well.

By Martha Jette

Addictions of any kind can cause serious damage to the human body and even death. The best advice is to seek professional help to deal with them. However, you can do some things to help yourself by using herbal remedies.

Alcohol destroys the liver, and increases the risk of cancer of the bowel, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver and breast. Smoking tobacco can cause lung and heart disease, while drug use in its many forms can result in a wide variety of illnesses.

Cannabis or marijuana not only impair your judgment but can also cause psychotic episodes – seeing, hearing or feeling something that isn’t there. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that speeds up the brain and nervous system.

According to the Better Health Channel, cocaine is “extracted from the leaves of the coca plant and is processed with a blend of other chemicals to form a white powder known as cocaine hydrochloride.” Because this drug released dopamine into the body users always crave more. In a high does, it can cause “dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, tremors, headaches and heart pain,” and the long-term consequences include “seizures, brain hemorrhages, kidney failure, heart attacks and stroke.”

Even overuse of such prescribed drugs as antibiotics can lead to resistance to them when you really need them.

The World Health Assembly held a nine-day session in 2005 on the issue of the irrational use of drugs and found that 50 per cent of medicines are “prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately.” It’s session also revealed that “there is increasing anti-microbial resistance, with resistance of up to 70-90 per cent to original first-line antibiotics for dysentery (shigella), pneumonia (pneumococcal), gonorrhoea, and hospital infections.”

However, it must be noted that part of the problem lies with “antibiotics produced and sold as inputs in animal feed to fatten the animals.”

Asian herbalists have used Kudzu Pueraria Lobata for more than a 1,000 years to treat alcohol cravings and according to a Harvard study on lab animals, it was found that this herb reduced alcohol consumption by up to 50 per cent. As an added bonus, it was found that it also helped nerve tissue.

Those who drink, smoke or take drugs excessively do so because the brain shoots out neurotransmitters that tell a person they must have it. A supplement called GABA (gamma-animobutyric acid) inhibits the neurotransmitter from sending such messages.

While the solution to many addictions is treatment in a rehabilitation center, there are some natural herbal remedies that can deal with some side effects. If you are a heavy drinker, you should consider doing a complete colon and liver cleanse to detoxify your system. You can find such products at your local herbalist or health food store.

If you smoke heavily and suffer from shortness of breath, drink green tea to open bronchial passages. Hyssop tea also relieves respiratory congestion.
If you suffer from anxiety related to your dependency, drink Passionflower or Catnip tea, or try a tincture of Kava, Hops or Motherwort.

For trouble sleeping, try Skullcap or Valerian. If you suffer from emotional instability or depression try St. John’s Wort.

To help ease cravings of any kind, including tobacco, read Addiction Free, Naturally, Liberating Yourself from Sugar, Caffeine, Food Addictions, Tobacco by Brigette Mars. This comprehensive guide may help you overcome addictions by using natural remedies including herbs, homeopathy, aromatherapy, flower essence remedies, color therapy, acupressure, and more.