National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month and the NKF (National Kidney Foundation) is urging all Americans to give their kidneys a second thought and a well-deserved checkup.

Kidneys filter 200 liters of blood a day, help regulate blood pressure and direct red blood cell production. But they are also prone to disease; 1 in 3 Americans is at risk for kidney disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure. There are more than 30 million Americans who already have kidney disease, and most don’t know it because there are often no symptoms until the disease has progressed.

During National Kidney Month in March, and in honor of World Kidney Day on March 14, the NKF offers the following health activities to promote awareness of kidneys, risk factors and kidney disease:

  • Free Screenings: On World Kidney Day and throughout the Month of March, NKF is offering free screenings to those most at risk for kidney disease – anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure. Locations and information can be found on the calendar on our website.

  • ‘Are You at Risk’ Kidney Quiz: Early detection can make a difference in preventing kidney disease so it’s important to know if you’re at risk. Take the online kidney quiz!

  • Live Twitter Chat with Dr. Joseph Vassalotti: The National Kidney Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, will be hosting an interactive kidney Q&A on World Kidney Day, Thursday, March 14, from 12-2 pm ET. Ask your questions at www.twitter.com/nkf using the hash-tag #WorldKidneyDayNKF

The kidneys are two, fist-sized organs in your lower back. They maintain overall health through the following functions:

  • Filtering waste out of 200 liters of blood each day.

  • Regulating of the body's salt, potassium and acid content.

  • Removing of drugs from the body.

  • Balancing the body's fluids.

  • Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure.

  • Producing an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.

  • Controlling the production of red blood cells.


How to have Healthy Love

Here are ways to express love to your special someone, your friends, family, children. By expressing love we bring ourselves joy knowing that love is not just a Valentine moment, but an ongoing, free flowing experience that enriches our lives.

Express gratitude. Tell someone how much you appreciate their presence in your life.

Send flowers for no reason other than to say “Thank you for being you.”

Set aside time to give the gift of listening. Make a date if you must, in your own home or at a quiet little neighborhood place, for coffee or a drink and just listen to each other’s thoughts.

Keep anger at bay. During stressful times think of this image. If an ember flies from a fireplace onto your rug, it will burn a hole. Flick it off immediately and the rug is safe.

Be thoughtfully generous with gifts. Remember what is special about a person in your life and buy gifts that are unique to them. I had to forgo a trip to Paris because it conflicted with a business meeting in San Diego. My sister purchased a designer umbrella picturing the Seine, the Pont Neuf, and the Eiffel Tower as a reminder that there will always be another time for Paris.

Offer an act of kindness. Say to your love or someone you care about, “What can I do for you today that will make your life easier and less stressful?” Then do it.

Write a note and send it via the U.S. Mail. Here’s a simple start: “I am so grateful that you are in my life. I love you for a million reasons. Here are the top three.”

Make time to be together for events that bring you both pleasure.

Be forgiving. We all have quirks. When one surfaces that makes you want to scream, either gently say something or switch to the positive-quality channel.

In the book, “Around the Year with Emmet Fox: A Book of Daily Readings,” Fox challenges us to make this commitment by saying: “I have chosen the path of Love. My own heart is to be my workshop, my laboratory, my great enterprise, and love is to be my contribution to humanity.”

Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved 

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How to Make & Keep a New Years Resolution

Warning: More than half of all resolutions fail, but this year, they don’t have to be yours. Here’s how to identify the right resolution to improve your life, create a plan on how to reach it, and become part of the small group of people that successfully achieve their goal.

According to the time management firm FranklinCoveyone third of resolutioners don’t make it past the end of January.

A lot of these resolutions fail because they’re not the right resolutions. And a resolution may be wrong for one of three main reasons:

  • It’s a resolution created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change. 

  • It’s too vague.

  • You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution.

Your goals should be smart — and SMART. That’s an acronym coined in the journal Management Review in 1981 for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. It may work for management, but it can also work in setting your resolutions, too.

  • Specific. Your resolution should be absolutely clear. “Making a concrete goal is really important rather than just vaguely saying ‘I want to lose weight.’ You want to have a goal: How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval?” said Katherine L. Milkman, an associate professor of operations information and decisions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Five pounds in the next two months — that’s going to be more effective.”

  • Measurable. This may seem obvious if your goal is a fitness or weight loss related one, but it’s also important if you’re trying to cut back on something, too. If, for example, you want to stop biting your nails, take pictures of your nails over time so you can track your progress in how those nails grow back out, said Jeffrey Gardere, a psychologist and professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. Logging progress into a journal or making notes on your phone or in an app designed to help you track behaviors can reinforce the progress, no matter what your resolution may be.

  • Achievable. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have big stretch goals. But trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you frustrated, or affect other areas of your life to the point that your resolution takes over your life — and both you and your friends and family flail. So, for example, resolving to save enough money to retire in five years when you’re 30 years old is probably not realistic, but saving an extra $100 a month may be. (And if that’s easy, you can slide that number up to an extra $200, $300 or $400 a month).

  • Relevant. Is this a goal that really matters to you, and are you making it for the right reasons? “If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long,” said Dr. Michael Bennett, a psychiatrist and co-author of two self-help books. “But if you build up a process where you’re thinking harder about what’s good for you, you’re changing the structure of your life, you’re bringing people into your life who will reinforce that resolution, then I think you have a fighting chance.” 

  • Time-bound. Like “achievable,” the timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic, too. That means giving yourself enough time to do it with lots of smaller intermediate goals set up along the way. “Focus on these small wins so you can make gradual progress,” Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” and a former New York Times writer, said. “If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.”

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Preparing for the New Year Spiritually

The end of the year can remind us to pause and reflect. It's an opportunity to recall any lessons learned from the past year, check off any goals we accomplished, and start preparing for a new year.

Spirituality encompasses an activity, ritual, habit, and/or way of thinking that brings your spirit alive and helps you connect with your essence; something that reminds you of your purpose and continues to inspire you to live from your center.

If it’s been challenging to set time aside for this contemplation and rejuvenation, not to worry! Below are some ideas to help you incorporate spirituality into your New Year’s Eve plans.

1. Have a spiritual gathering.

Invite family and friends over and take turns having each person share a favorite inspirational quote, book excerpt, or poem. In the spirit of keeping things positive, each person could also share a personal experience from the past year that instilled in them a sense of hope and inspiration. Other ideas: meditate or sing/chant together. Having a meaningful gathering can be a good way to reconnect. You may be surprised by what you learn about each other!

2. Begin one of your goals.

Maybe you had set intentions in the beginning of the year, which you didn’t quite get to meeting. It’s not too late to start on them before the year ends! Sign up for that gym membership online, research that overseas destination you have been meaning to travel to, or order that inspirational book to help you create positive changes. You will end the previous year beginning at least one of the goals you had set for yourself, feeling more confident about completing your list, and creating new intentions.

3. Enjoy your own company.

This may not be the most popular way to ring in the new year, but it can be the most calming. Don't feel bad about spending this time on your own, rather embrace this opportunity to do something relaxing and uplifting. Dedicate this time to yourself, whether it’s to get organized or have a solo dance party. This one night should be all about taking care of your needs and wellbeing.

4. Meditate and time your meditation to go over midnight.

Going inward and re-centering can be the perfect way to end one year and begin a new one! If you would prefer meditatin with others, Vipassana centers around the world have courses that run through New Year’s Eve. Other ideas: look into local meditation centers, meet-up groups, yoga studios, or get in touch with members of temples and churches, who may be organizing gatherings of their own. If you don't have access to any of these, consider #1, above.

5. Give back.

Choosing to help others on one of the most self-indulgent nights of the year can be a humbling experience. Giving back to our local and global communities helps remind us of our values and purpose, allowing us to a gain a larger perspective and greater self-awareness. Doing a quick Google search of "New Year’s Eve volunteer opportunities," I was able to find homeless shelters looking for folks to help cook and serve food, rides-hare organizations seeking volunteers to provide safe rides to those who are intoxicated and can't drive, and nonprofits looking for people to help with local celebrations. If you aren't sure where or how to give back, write an email to an organization asking for more information or reach out to a friend who already works with an agency to find out to get involved.

However you choose to spend your time, have a safe and peaceful New Year’s Eve!

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Eating Healthy at Holiday Gatherings 

1. Use a small plate! Cornell University researchers collected 56 research studies examining the effect of smaller plates on consumption. Combining all the studies, they concluded that a 30% reduction in plate size lead to an average 30% reduction in food consumption.

2. Save your calories for your main Thanksgiving meal. Reduce complex carbohydrate intake, eat moderate fat, and focus on lean protein sources. If you are doing exercise then try not to skip, but also don’t increase the time you spend working out — this will increase your hunger more!

3. Don’t punish yourself, this will actually give you more stress. The joy of eating with your family and friends will be so much more if you are conscious that the food you are eating is becoming a part of you.

Green Tea & Bladder Health 

Millions of people drink it every day. Known botanically as Camellia sinensis, green tea contains powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fibrosis and cell protective benefits. It is well-known for its anti-cancer effects.  

In a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 46 men with bladder and urinary tract symptoms participated in a three-month trial. Therapeutic Advances in Urology published results. These men had difficulties with urinary flow, inability to fully empty their bladder and erectile dysfunction. A simple lab test evaluated levels of the inflammatory compound C-reactive protein or CRP. Men drank a green tea blend that significantly helped them with their various discomforts by up to 35 percent. Urinary flow improved, and CRP was lowered. Symptoms of erectile dysfunction improved, as well.

What about urinary tract infections? If you’re prone to these, there are many studies, including one in Frontiers in Biology, that show how green tea acts like an antibiotic by killing E. coli in the bladder and urinary tract. These antimicrobial effects come in handy if you’re susceptible to UTIs.

Green tea extract isn’t for everyone. It can cause unwanted diuresis in some people. This happened to a friend of mine right before we entered the mall. She literally urinated in her pants from taking a supplement (a diet aid) that contained green tea. So it’s not right for everyone; however, it could help some women with post-menopausal bladder problems.

What about bladder cancer? Researchers have shown that women who drink black tea and powdered green tea are less likely to develop bladder cancer. Research has also revealed that people with bladder cancer (particularly men) who drink green tea have a better five-year survival rate than those who did not drink green tea. Does this translate to prostate cancer? Of course ask your oncologist what is right for you. In the meantime, drinking a little cup of green tea is a simple and possibly effective way to improve bladder function and general health.


What Vitamin D Dosage is Best?

Posted Sept 26th

What Vitamin D Dosage Is Best?

Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin.”

That’s because your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.

Getting enough vitamin D is important for optimal health. It helps maintain strong and healthy bones, aids your immune system and may help protect against many harmful conditions.

Despite its importance, roughly 42% of people in the US have a vitamin D deficiency. This number rises to a staggering 82.1% of African American people and 69.2% of Hispanic people.

There are several other groups of people that have higher vitamin D needs because of their age, where they live and certain medical conditions.

What Is Vitamin D and Why Is It Important?

Vitamin D belongs to the family of fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are absorbed well with fat and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues.

There are two main forms of vitamin D in the diet:

  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): Found in plant foods like mushrooms.

  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): Found in animal foods like salmon, cod and egg yolks.

However, sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D3. The UV rays from sunlight convert cholesterol in your skin into vitamin D3.

Before your body can use dietary vitamin D, it must be “activated” through a series of steps).

First, the liver converts dietary vitamin D into the storage form of vitamin D. This is the form that is measured in blood tests. Later, the storage form is converted by the kidneys to the active form of vitamin D that's used by the body.

Interestingly, D3 is twice as effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D as vitamin D2.

The main role of vitamin D in the body is to manage blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are important for healthy bones.

Research also shows that vitamin D aids your immune system and may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

A low blood level of vitamin D is linked to a greater risk of fractures and falls, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, several cancers and even death.

SUMMARY:There are two main forms of vitamin D in the diet: D2 and D3. D3 is twice as effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D, which is linked to a variety of health benefits.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need for Optimal Health?

In the US, current guidelines suggest that consuming 400–800 IU (10–20 mcg) of vitamin D should meet the needs of 97–98% of all healthy people.

However, many experts believe the guidelines are far too low.

Your vitamin D needs depend on a variety of factors. These include your age, skin color, current blood vitamin D levels, location, sun exposure and more.

To reach blood levels linked to better health outcomes, many studies have shown that you need to consume more vitamin D than the guidelines recommend.

For instance, an analysis of five studies examined the link between vitamin D blood levels and colorectal cancer.

Scientists found that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin D (over 33 ng/ml or 82.4 nmol/l) had a 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer than people with the lowest levels of vitamin D (less than 12 ng/ml or 30 nmol/l).

Research also shows that consuming 1,000 IU (25 mcg) daily would help 50% of people reach a vitamin D blood level of 33 ng/ml (82.4 nmol/l). Consuming 2,000 IU (50 mcg) daily would help nearly everyone reach a blood level of 33 ng/ml (82.4 nmol/l).

Another analysis of seventeen studies with over 300,000 people looked at the link between vitamin D intake and heart disease. Scientists found that taking 1,000 IU (25 mcg) of vitamin D daily reduced heart disease risk by 10%.

Based on current research, it seems that consuming 1,000–4,000 IU (25–100 mcg) of vitamin D daily should be ideal for most people to reach healthy vitamin D blood levels.

However, don’t consume more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D without your doctor's permission. It exceeds the safe upper limits of intake and is not linked to more health benefits.

SUMMARY:Consuming 400–800 IU (10–20 mcg) of vitamin D should meet the needs of 97–98% of healthy people. However, several studies show that taking more than this is linked to greater health benefits.

People With Medical Conditions That Reduce Fat Absorption

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it relies on the gut's ability to absorb fat from the diet.

Thus, people who have medical conditions that reduce fat absorption are prone to vitamin D deficiencies. These include irritable bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease, liver disease and also people who have had bariatric surgery.

People with the above conditions are often advised to take vitamin D supplements in an amount prescribed by their doctors.

SUMMARY:Those who need the most vitamin D are older people, people with darker skin, those who live farther from the equator and people who can’t absorb fat properly.

Can You Take Too Much Vitamin D?

While it is possible to take too much vitamin D, toxicity is very rare.

In fact, you would need to take extremely high doses of 50,000 IU (1,250 mcg) or more for a long period of time.

It’s also worth noting that it is impossible to overdose on vitamin D from sunlight.

Although 4,000 IU (250 mcg) is set as the maximum amount of vitamin D you can take safely, several studies have shown that taking up to 10,000 IU (250 mcg) daily won’t cause side effects.

That said, taking more than 4,000 IU may provide no extra benefit. Your best bet is to take 1,000 (25 mcg) to 4,000 IU (100 mcg) daily.

SUMMARY:Although it is possible to take too much vitamin D, toxicity is rare, even above the safe upper limit of 4,000 IU. That said, consuming more than this amount may provide no extra benefit.

The Bottom Line

Getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and foods is necessary for optimal health.

It helps maintain healthy bones, aids your immune system and may reduce the risk of many harmful diseases. Yet despite its importance, many people don’t get enough vitamin D.

In addition, older people, people with darker skin, those who live farther away from the equator and people who can’t absorb fat properly have higher dietary vitamin D needs.

The current recommendations suggest consuming 400–800 IU (10–20 mcg) of vitamin D per day.

However, people who need more vitamin D can safely consume 1,000–4,000 IU (25–100 mcg) daily. Consuming more than this is not advised, as it is not linked to any extra health benefits.

credit: www.healthline.com

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Ask the Diet Doctor: Changing Your Diet with the Season

Dr. Mike Roussell


Q: Should I change my diet as the seasons change?

A: Actually, yes. Your body undergoes changes as the seasons change. The differences of periods of light and darkness that occur have profound effects on our circadian rhythms. In fact, research shows that we have entire groups of genes that are impacted by circadian rhythms and many of these genes can impact body weight (causing either loss or gain) and hormones such as adiponectin, which increases insulin sensitivity and fat burning. So make these four easy changes to help your body adjust to the changing seasons.

1. Supplement with vitamin DEven during the summer, a majority of people don’t get enough of the "sunshine vitamin." Supplementing with vitamin D won’t cure your winter blues, but it will help you maintain optimal blood levels when your body isn’t converting much of the vitamin from sunlight. D is also very important for bone health, and maintaining optimal levels may help fight certain cancers, aid in weight loss, and boost immune function, which is extra important during cold and flu season.


2. Stay committed to exercise. When the weather is balmy and the sun is shining, it's easy to want to go for a run, but the colder, shorter days of fall and winter aren’t quite as motivational. Still, you should squeeze into a workout for the sake of both your waistline (hello, holiday feasts!) and mood. A 2008 study published in PLoS Onereported that seasonal changes in mood caused by the change in light cycles can greatly increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, but exercise during fall and winter seasons can offset that. Even more interesting (or scary): These negative effects of skipping your workout were as strong as the positive effects of exercise!

3. Monitor weight changes from fall to spring. Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that between September to October and February to March, people gain an average of one pound (some upwards of almost five pounds) each year. While one pound may seem insignificant, this extra pound (or five) can lead to slow and incremental weight gain over the years.

This can be further compounded by the fact that as we age, we can lose up to 1 percent of our lean body mass each year. Increasing body weight plus decreasing lean body mass equals a recipe for disaster! In order to prevent this, monitor your weight at least weekly throughout the year. Research shows that people who weigh themselves more frequently are more successful at maintaining their weight. It will also help you stay on top of seasonal additions to your waistline, ensuring that they don’t sneak up on you.

4. Increase your carbohydrate intake. As the days get darker, you may begin to suffer from a mild form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder. Adding more carbs to your day is one diet strategy that may be able to help pick you up out of your slump. A study from Biological Psychiatry found that a high-carb (but not a high-protein) meal boosted mood. This may be due to the ability of insulin (a hormone released by your body when you eat carbohydrates) to drive tryptophan into your brain where it gets converted to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. The more serotonin your brain produces, the better you will feel.



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