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 High Blood Pressure Tips   
Tips to help you control your high blood pressure

Make sure your blood pressure is under 140/90 mm Hg

If your systolic pressure is over 140, ask your doctor what you can do to lower it.
If you have diabetes it is even more important to maintain your blood pressure at an acceptable level, which reduces long-term complications associated with this disease process.  You should be receiving regular monitoring and advice from you GP/diabetic practitioner.

Aim for a healthy weight

Ideally try not to gain extra weight in the first place, if you have then try to lose the weight slowly, at about half to one pound a week until you reach a healthy target.  This can be easier to achieve if you include exercise as well to burn off those unwanted calories and tone your body as you lose the weight.   
If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight increases your risk of high blood pressure because the heart has to work very hard to keep blood circulating efficiently.

Exercise - be active every day!

Even the simplest exercise will help; you can walk, dance, use the stairs, play sports, or do any activity you enjoy. For instance: get off the bus one or two stops early; park your car at the other end of the car park and walk; walk or cycle to the corner shop.
Being physically active is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent or control high blood pressure and will help you keep your weight down. It will also help to reduce your risk of heart disease and enhances overall wellbeing. All you need to do is 30 minutes of moderate level activity preferably every day of the week - you can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter 10 minute periods if you are not used to regular exercise.
Exercise does not have to be strenuous; you should start slowly and build up the amount of exercise that you do.
It is not advisable, however, to lift heavy weights or to take on certain strenuous activities if exercise has not been gradually and appropriately introduced. If you are worried that your health could be adversely affected by exercise, i.e. you have a heart complaint; make sure that you are reviewed by your GP.

Look at what you are eating. Does it contain a lot of sodium?

It is suggested that no more than 2.4 grams of sodium should be consumed per day. Read the labels and be aware of hidden sodium, which is known to increase blood pressure. Try not to add salt to your meals.

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Eating more fiber should help to stop you feeling hungry and less likely to pick at sweets, chocolate and crisps etc.

Stop/reduce smoking - smoking causes the blood to thicken

Not only does this make you more at risk of developing a dangerous blood clot but it makes the heart work harder in order to 'push' the blood around the system to provide oxygen and other important components.

Reduce your stress levels

Take time out for yourself each day to do something you like to do without feeling guilty. If there are any problems worrying you try talking them over with a friend, or someone you trust, this is often all that is needed to make you feel better. Also remember if you wear a smile, it will rub off on others. Try it and see!

Watch your alcohol intake

Keep the amount of units you consume to a minimum, as your body works hard to flush it out of your system and this will have an effect on your blood pressure (plus it will increase your weight).
It is recommended that men limit themselves to no more than one or two drinks per day and women should have no more than one drink per day.

Take medication correctly

If you have been prescribed medication from your GP to control your blood pressure, make sure that you take the medication correctly and visit your GP regularly for your blood pressure to be monitored effectively.







Allergy Prevention Tips    

Air Conditioning and Allergies

To help alleviate problems with pollen, molds and dust mites, air condition your house and car and, if possible, add an air cleaner to your central air conditioner.
Anaphylactic Shock
Anaphylactic shock, the most severe allergic reaction, is most commonly associated with bee or fire ant stings. If welts (hives) erupt following a sting, this is a warning flag to seek prompt medical attention.

Attic Fans
Don't use your attic fan during allergy season. The fan sucks pollen into the house.












Avoid Dyes
Avoid dyes, especially the ones in toilet paper. Use white to wipe.



Bedding and Dust Mites 
If dust mites give you trouble, seal your mattress, box springs and pillows in allergy-resistant plastic covers available at most discount stores.



Carpeting Causes Allergy Problems
Allergy experts recommend you dump the carpeting and use throw rugs instead. Since most people enjoy a carpeted home, try the new allergy care carpet treatments now available.



Cheap Fungicide
Clean humid areas, such as the bathroom and basement, with a fungicide (mold-killer). A cheap and effective one is bleach. Use a solution of 3/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water, let stand 5 minutes and rinse.



Choose Antiperspirants Carefully
Aluminum chloride, aluminum sulfate and zirconium chlorohydrate in antiperspirants often cause dermatitis, especially after shaving. Try to choose antiperspirants that contain the anti-irritants allantoinate, zinc oxide, magnesium oxide, aluminum hydroxide, or triethanolamine.



Cold Compresses for Allergy Relief
Are your allergy eyes giving you fit? Try a cold compress for 15-20 minutes. Wet a washcloth with cold water and place over your eyes.



Common Allergens and Allergy Symptoms
A listing of common allergens: pollen, mold spores, dust mites, animal dander, feathers, foods, medications, and insect stings. Common allergy symptoms: watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, and a constant runny nose.



Common Pollens
The most common pollens causing allergies include: tree pollens (April - May), grasses (June - July) and ragweed (August - October).




Dandruff and Shampoo Dyes
Dandruff sufferers may be allergic to the dyes in the shampoo they use. Even dandruff remedy shampoos often contain dyes.




Decongestants and Blood Pressure
If you are hypertensive, over-the-counter decongestants are a big no-no. Decongestants raise blood pressure and can lead to heart attack or stroke.




Dehumidifier and Allergies
Keep the humidity in your home below 45%. To measure the humidity level, buy an inexpensive hygrometer available at many discount stores.



Driving and Antihistamines
Antihistamines often cause drowsiness and should not be taken if driving or operating machinery.



Drug Treatment for Allergies
The over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) works well for allergy treatment and has few drug interactions. Be sure to read the label for proper dosage, side effects, etc. and check with your doctor if you have any questions.


Hay Fever vs. Sinusitis
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is caused by allergies and is often characterized by a runny nose, sneezing and congestion, and itchy eyes, nose, throat and inner ears. Non-allergic rhinitis (sinusitis) is characterized by a swollen, inflamed nasal lining and a stuffy nose. It may be triggered by irritants such as smoke, changes in barometric pressure or temperature, or overuse of over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays.



Hidden Sources of Peanuts
Hidden peanut sources may include:

Artificial nuts can be peanuts that have been deflavored and reflavored with a nut, such as pecan or walnut. Mandelonas are peanuts soaked in almond flavoring.
Arachis oil is peanut oil.
It is advised that peanut-allergic patients avoid chocolate candies unless they are absolutely certain there is no risk of cross-contact during manufacturing procedures.
African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes often contain peanuts, or are contaminated with peanuts during preparation of these types of meals. Additionally, foods sold in bakeries and ice cream shops are often in contact with peanuts. It is recommended that peanut-allergic individuals avoid these types of foods and restaurants.
Many brands of sunflower seeds are produced on equipment shared with peanuts.


Laundry Allergies
If you have severe allergies to laundry products, try using baking soda to wash your clothing and linens.



Mites and Mattress Pads
Wash your mattress pads weekly in hot water to kill dust mites.



Nasal Sprays
Don't be tempted to treat an allergy with an over-the-counter decongestant nasal spray for more than three days. After a few days of use you may get a "rebound" effect, and your nose may become even more congested than before. These drugs are more useful for short-term use to relieve nasal congestion associated with a cold.



No Open Windows
If you're an allergy sufferer do not ride in a vehicle with the windows down or vents wide open. It will worsen your allergies 200 percent. The same goes for your home. Invest in an air conditioner.



One Room Sanctuary
If central air conditioning isn't an option for you, make your bedroom your sanctuary. Install a window air conditioner, properly care for your bedding and keep the door closed at all times.



Pets, Bedrooms and Allergies
Pet dander is a common allergen, especially cat dander. To ease the suffering that Fido or Fluffy may cause you, ban them from your bedroom at all times.



Preventing a More Severe Peanut Allergy Reaction
In one of seven studies published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers say liquid charcoal, which is often used when people ingest poison to block absorption, can also absorb peanuts.

"After you've eaten the peanut and you have an allergic reaction, you still have peanut in your stomach," explained Dr. Donald Leung, editor of the journal. "And so rather than allow further peanut to be absorbed and have an even more severe reaction ... drinking the charcoal will prevent the further triggering of increased symptoms."
Leung advised that parents of young children with the allergy keep liquid charcoal -- available in pharmacies -- in the home, in case of accidental ingestion.


Ragweed
Problems with ragweed, the most common weed pollen, usually start in the middle of August and continue until the frost begins. Interestingly, some regions are less affected than others: The West coast does not have any ragweed.



Synthetic Pillows
Dust mites like synthetic pillows as much as down or foam ones, but synthetic pillows have the major advantage of being washable in hot water which kills the mites.



Tree Allergies
Trees that can cause seasonal allergy symptoms include: maple, ash, oak, elm, birch and cedar. When they pollinate depends on the area in which you live.



 Brain Tumors Prevention Tips 


What is a brain tumor?  
A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue in which the cells grow and multiply without restraint, apparently unregulated by the mechanisms that control normal cells. One factor that distinguishes brain tumors from other tumors is that they arise in the skull, an organ encased by bone, and there is very little room for expansion with the skull. They are also among the few types of tumors that generally do not tend to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
Whereas certain brain tumors occur almost exclusively during childhood and adolescence, others are predominantly tumors of adult life. The patient's age appears to correlate with the site where some tumors develop in the brain. Although most primary tumors attack member of both sexes with equal frequency, some, such as meningiomas, occur more frequently in women, while others, such as medulloblastomas, more commonly afflict boys and young men.
The prognosis for patients with a brain tumor is as individual as the patients themselves. Your doctors will help you understand the possible consequences of your specific tumor.

Chicken-Pox Tips  


Chicken-Pox Vaccine 

Risks or side effects of the new chicken-pox vaccine?
Answer: 'The chicken-pox vaccine is usually well tolerated,' says E. Lawrence Hoder, MD, from the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Lahey Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. 'The most common side effects associated with the vaccine are pain and redness at the injection site.'
Other reported side effects include respiratory tract illness, chills, fever, irritability, fatigue, sleep disturbance, gastrointestinal disturbance, rashes, itching, and joint and muscle aches, although these symptoms have not yet been positively identified as being vaccine related. Approximately three to five percent of vaccinated individuals develop a chickenpox-like rash within 5 to 30 days from vaccination. 
Causes
Chicken pox is caused by exposure to a highly contagious airborne varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The illness typically begins with fever, malaise and a rash. The rash begins as flat red patches that evolve into patches with a central blister, the classic “dew drop on a rose petal.” These patches then dry and scab. New eruptions occur daily for four to seven days. The average child gets a total of 500 chicken pox sores.
Complications in healthy children are unusual but include secondary skin bacterial infections, neurologic complications, hepatitis and Reye’s Syndrome (a serious illness that can cause recurrent vomiting, liver problems and seizures). For most children, chicken pox will be a fairly benign illness. The economic consequences due to lost time at work for caregivers usually far outweighs any health risk. For adults and immunocompromised persons, however, infection with chicken pox may cause severe complications, such as pneumonia that requires hospitalization.
“Once a person has had chicken pox, he or she will usually have a lifelong immunity to the disease,” says Dr. Hoder. “Rarely, however, a person will experience a second, milder case of chicken pox later in life.” It is important for parents to understand that having the vaccine may not provide such protection. The need for revaccination has not yet been determined. Similar to measles vaccine, a “booster” dose may be required.
Vaccinations
Currently, the American Association of Pediatricians recommends a vaccination for all susceptible children greater than one year of age. As of August 1998, the State of Massachusetts requires the vaccine (or a physician-certified reliable history of chicken pox) for entrance into daycare or preschool for children who are 19 months or older and who were born on or after January 1997; by the 1999-2000 school year, vaccinations will be required for entrance into kindergarten or for those children already in school, for entrance into 7th grade.
When Not to Vaccinate
The chicken pox vaccine should not be administered to adults or children who have the following conditions:

  • A history of hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine, including gelatin

  •  A history of an allergic reaction to neomycin
  • Blood disorders (other than simple anemia) or cancer

  • A condition or treatment resulting in an immunosuppressed state, for example, immunoglobulin deficiency, AIDS, or corticosteroid therapy
  • A family history of an immunodeficiency
  •    Active, untreated tuberculosis

  •  Any illness that produces a fever
  •  Pregnancy (or a considered pregnancy in the three-month period following administration of the vaccine)
Precautions
Individuals who receive the vaccine should avoid taking aspirin (salicylate) for at least six weeks after the vaccination. Because vaccinated individuals may be able to transmit the virus to close contacts, vaccinated persons should avoid close association with susceptible, high-risk persons. This risk of transmission is probably small and is more likely to occur if the vaccinated individual developed a rash after vaccination.




   







Top 10 Essential Health Info




1. Move More
Make it a daily challenge to find ways to move your body. Climb stairs if given a choice between that and escalators or elevators.
Walk your dog; chase your kids; toss balls with friends, mow the lawn. Anything that moves your limbs is not only a fitness tool, it's a stress buster. Think 'move' in small increments of time. It doesn't have to be an hour in the gym or a 45-minute aerobic dance class or tai chi or kickboxing. But that's great when you're up to it. Meanwhile, move more.
2. Cut Fat
Avoid the obvious such as fried foods, burgers and other fatty meats (i.e. pork, bacon, ham, salami, ribs and sausage). Dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, milk and cream should be eaten in low fat versions. Nuts and sandwich meats, mayonnaise, margarine, butter and sauces should be eaten in limited amounts. Most are available in lower fat versions such as substitute butter, fat free cheeses and mayonnaise.

3. Quit Smoking 
The jury is definitely in on this verdict. Ever since 1960 when the Surgeon General announced that smoking was harmful to your health, Americans have been reducing their use of tobacco products that kill. Just recently, we've seen a surge in smoking in adolescents and teens. Could it be the Hollywood influence? It seems the stars in every movie of late smoke cigarettes. Beware. Warn your children of the false romance or 'tough guy' stance of Hollywood smokers. Also, the trend to quit smoking has been slow to follow in France.

4. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water is still one of the healthiest things we can do. Water is essential for virtually every function of the body. The average person needs eight 8-ounce glasses a day. Drink with meals, as well as before, during and after exercise. During exercise, cold water is more readily absorbed.

5. Reduce Stress 
Easier said than done, stress busters come in many forms. Some techniques recommended by experts are to think positive thoughts. Spend 30 minutes a day doing something you like. (i.e., Soak in a hot tub; walk on the beach or in a park; read a good book; visit a friend; play with your dog; listen to soothing music; watch a funny movie. Get a massage, a facial or a haircut. Meditate. Count to ten before losing your temper or getting aggravated. Avoid difficult people when possible.

6. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption 
While recent studies show a glass of wine or one drink a day can help protect against heart disease, drinking more than that can cause health problems such as liver and kidney disease as well as cancer.

7. Keep a Positive Mental Outlook 
There's a definitive connection between living well and healthfully and having a cheerful outlook on life. Remember, you can't be unhappy when you're smiling!

8. Protect Yourself from Pollution 
If you can't live in a smog-free environment, at least avoid smoke-filled rooms, high traffic areas, breathing in highway fumes and exercising near busy thoroughfares. Exercise outside when the smog rating is low. Exercise indoors in air conditioning when the air quality is good. Plant lots of shrubbery in your yard. It's a good pollution and dirt deterrent.

9. Floss Your Teeth
Recent studies make a direct connection between longevity and teeth flossing. Nobody knows exactly why. Perhaps it's because people who floss tend to be more health conscious than people who don't?

10. Choose Your Parents Well 
The link between genetics and health is a powerful one. But just because one or both of your parents died young in ill health doesn't mean you cannot counteract the genetic pool handed you. Follow these ten basic tips for healthy living and you can better control your own destiny.



Quit Smoking Tips








Want to Quit?

You promised yourself that you would finally quit smoking.
It isn't easy giving up something that is so much a part of what you do every day.
But you are not alone. Over 1 million people each year decide to quit and are successful.

Tried Quitting Before?

Maybe once, maybe more...
You started out feeling the time was right, but for whatever reason, you're smoking again. Now, you're asking whether it's worth it to try quitting again. You bet it is!
Quitting is hard, but don't give up!
Some smokers try a number of times before they quit for good. Studies show that each time you try to quit, the more likely you will be to eventually succeed. With each try, you are better able to know what helps and what hurts. Any attempt to quit is a step in a healthier direction.

Pregnant?

There's no better time to quit.
And for two very good reasons:

  • You.

  • Your baby.
Even if someone you know smoked during pregnancy and had a problem-free delivery, smoking puts your baby's health at risk. Quitting at any time during pregnancy is still the best chance for you and your baby to get a fresh start.
It is also important to remember that infants and children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop health problems such as chronic ear infections and asthma. Helping to eliminate these health risks is another good reason to quit.

How Do I Start?

Make a Plan
You may want to:

  • Consult a health care professional to choose a quit smoking plan that is best for you.

  • Set a quit date and stick to it.

  • Get the support and understanding of your family, friends, and co-workers.

  • Get rid of all tobacco products and ashtrays.

  • Get Support and Encouragement
U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-funded research shows the more support you have, the greater your chance for success.
Join a quit smoking program or start your own quit smoking group. Check with your health care professional, local hospitals, the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, or American Heart Association for schedules for existing groups.
Learn How to Handle the Urge to Smoke
Be aware of the things that may cause you to smoke, such as:

  • Other smokers.

  • Stress.

  • Depression.

  • Alcohol.

  • What Works?

  • Current treatments
There are no magic solutions for quitting smoking. But, if you are ready to quit, effective treatments are available that can help reduce the urge to smoke.
Studies show that almost everyone can benefit from these nicotine and non-nicotine replacement therapies.

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy

  • Nicotine patch.

  • Nicotine gum.

  • Nicotine nasal spray.*

  • Nicotine inhaler.*

  • Non-Nicotine Therapy





Why we gain weight


Your weight
Expert advice to help you maintain a healthy weight

Dissatisfied with your weight?
We're bombarded with scare stories about weight, from size zero to the obesity 'epidemic'. But a healthy weight is determined by different factors for each of us. Our expert advice is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, life-enhancing weight.

Overweight or underweight?
Being the right weight has a positive effect on wellbeing but also on our health, as being the wrong weight can cause a range of medical problems.
For each of us, there are complex, interlinked reasons why we're a particular weight. Understanding what these are can help if you want to alter your weight.

GenesAn underlying tendency to obesity may be the result of our genes. People who generally have little problem controlling their weight seem to have a precisely tuned appetite.

People who gain weight, on the other hand, may be less sensitive to their body's signals of fullness.

Many genes have been identified that either increase or decrease appetite.

People who generally have little problem controlling their weight seem to have a precisely tuned appetite, while people who struggle to control their weight may be less sensitive to their body's signals of fullness.

Studies of twins who've been raised apart attribute almost two-thirds of the difference in body fatness to genetic factors. However, genetic factors don't make obesity inevitable.

HabitsEating habits develop over many years, and are strongly influenced by our first tastes as babies and dietary patterns formed in early childhood.

These are then continuously reinforced as we grow up, which makes them difficult to change.

Too often, they lead to eating too many calories. Recognising these unhelpful habits and replacing them with positive behaviour are key steps in successful weight control.

If you always reach for sugary or fatty snacks when you watch TV, for example, distract yourself with another activity or make sure the snacks are healthy alternatives, such as fruit or vegetable sticks.

Food
People who tend to choose foods that are high in fat or contain a lot of energy (calories) in small portions are more likely to gain weight than those who fill their plates with bulky, low-energy foods, such as bread, fruit and vegetables.

Bigger portion sizes also mean more calories (see How to lose weight and A healthy weight-loss diet).

Emotions
Overeating can also be triggered by our emotions. Some people turn to food or alcohol in stressful situations, such as after a family argument or a particularly difficult day at work.

Other vulnerable times may be when you're feeling tired, bored or sad.

Identifying triggers and cues that cause you to overeat can help you to change your behaviour in these situations and avoid unwanted calories.

Write down the times when your emotions lead to eating (see Food diary). This will help you to identify situations when you're particularly vulnerable to excess snacking.

Try the following techniques:

Ask yourself if you must have the food - thinking about what you're doing can help you avoid extra snacks
Replace images of food with other positive thoughts
Distract yourself from eating by doing something else you enjoy

Other causes
Medical conditions
Some medical conditions can cause obesity, but these are rare. Prader-Willi syndrome, for example, is a genetic disorder that can result in obesity because people with the condition don't feel full (satiated) and overeat as a result.

Some brain disorders can also cause obesity. For example, brain tumours can result in obesity if they grow in the part of the brain that affects appetite control. However, these are extremely rare.

Medication
Drugs that treat high blood pressure, inflammatory conditions (steroids) and mood disorders can contribute to weight gain by stimulating appetite or decreasing energy expenditure.

If you're concerned, an alternative medicine may be available, but it's vital you consult your GP before stopping any medication.

In some cases, the weight gain is unrelated to the medication. For example, drugs that help to improve low mood may increase appetite simply because they make you feel better, so you're more likely to feel like eating.

Some drugs encourage the body to retain water. This may lead to weight gain, but as it isn't fat the problem will resolve once the underlying disease has been treated.

Physical inactivity
People who lead a physically active life are less likely to gain weight than those who spend most of their day sitting in front of a computer or TV, or in the car.

Have a TV-free day each week and take up a physical activity.

There's evidence regular physical activity can help to keep the weight off in the long term, too.

Warning signsObesity doesn't develop overnight. It takes about 3,500 excess calories to gain just 0.5kg (1lb). Few people gain more than 2lb to 5lb each year. Weight fluctuates from day to day, but you should aim to stay about the same weight from week to week.

If you notice a consistent increase in your weight, try to stabilise it before you develop a serious problem.

Begin by reducing the amount of fat in your diet and incorporate 20 to 30 minutes of activity into your day.




How to lose weight

Your weight
Expert advice to help you maintain a healthy weight

Dissatisfied with your weight?
We're bombarded with scare stories about weight, from size zero to the obesity 'epidemic'. But a healthy weight is determined by different factors for each of us. Our expert advice is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, life-enhancing weight.

Overweight or underweight?
Being the right weight has a positive effect on wellbeing but also on our health, as being the wrong weight can cause a range of medical problems.
Take a long, hard look at what you eat and how active you really are, work out what you need to change and use the following principles to adapt your lifestyle.

Cut calories
A gram of fat contains twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrate or protein. Reduce high-fat foods in your diet, choose lower or fat-reduced options, use cooking oil and spreads sparingly and remove excess fat from meat.

Include lower calorie options in your diet, such as fruit and vegetables. Bulky fibre-rich foods are also a good choice.

Try switching from white to wholemeal bread, or choose a wholegrain breakfast cereal.

Think about portion sizes
Portion sizes have increased over the years, especially when it comes to ready meals and snack foods. This means we're consuming extra calories, but we adapt quickly to eating bigger portions and don't tend to feel fuller as a result.

Downsize potatoes, pasta, rice and fatty and sugary foods, and super size fruit and vegetables.

Watch what you're drinking
Cut sugar-rich drinks and alcohol, and instead choose water, tea, coffee or artificially sweetened drinks.

Sugary drinks add extra calories to your diet but don't make you feel full or satisfied.

Keep a balanced diet
Remember the principles of a balanced diet - include plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day), unrefined foods with more fibre, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.

Get activeBecoming more active doesn't necessarily mean sweating it out in a gym. Instead, try the following:

Choose activities you enjoy and try to spend more time each week on these
Incorporate more activity into everyday life
Buy a pedometer and increase the number of steps you take each day

Another good way to become more active is to focus on spending less time sitting down. At home, limit the time you spend watching TV or in front of a computer screen. At work, take regular breaks and if you want to talk to a colleague, walk to their desk instead of sending an email.

Fad diets don't work
Diets that promise quick, effortless weight loss are best avoided. You may lose weight initially, but they're often difficult to follow in the long term. Often they're also very restrictive and may not provide all the nutrients your body needs.

Fad diets are those that:
Promise a quick, easy fix with rapid weight loss
Suggest that certain foods 'burn fat'
Promote the eating of just one of two foods
Have lots of rules about how to eat
Sound too good to be true

Yo-yo dieting
Many people who lose weight tend to regain it over time. You can minimise the chance of this by making permanent changes to your lifestyle - by switching to low-calorie drinks and low-fat spreads, for example, or by eating smaller portions. Regular physical activity appears to be especially important in maintaining weight loss.

The following factors are important for maintaining weight loss:

Small, permanent dietary changes
Regular physical activity
Realistic goals
Regular weighing
Support from family and friends

Although no one would suggest yo-yo dieting is a good thing, there's little evidence it's harmful to health. However, it's disappointing and can reduce your confidence and motivation.

Recognise that in the period immediately following a diet you're at high risk of weight gain and you need to take specific steps to avoid it.

Remember to weigh yourself regularly. If you notice your weight increasing, take action immediately. Don't let a minor lapse become a major problem.




Foods that lower cholesterol

We often tell peoples to take nutritional changes at a pace that feels comfortable to them. That's not good enough when it comes to cardiovascular disease. The consequences of doing too little are severe-heart attack, stroke, or worse. Sadly, not everyone gets a second chance. So please don't wait until after the next vacation, or your daughter's wedding, or that anniversary dinner to start. Our advice is to start immediately and go for broke! Change your diet, change your habits, change your lifestyle.

High cholesterol can be caused by several factors, some you can change, and some you can't. Heredity can play a big part. Some people can have a perfect heart-healthy lifestyle, and still have skyrocketing cholesterol because their bodies naturally make too much of it- our bodies' production of cholesterol is independent from what we eat. For these folks, medication is often the only way to bring down their numbers. However, for the vast majority of people diagnosed with high cholesterol, you can improve your profile by reducing body weight (if you are overweight), increasing physical activity, and following my cholesterol-busting nutrition program.

Right off the bat, We tell you this:
If you are overweight, focus on losing weight. Research has shown that losing just 10 pounds can reduce LDL cholesterol by 5 to 8 percent.

Become more physically active. Even moderate exercise can help improve your cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, and blood pressure.

Specific foods to limit or avoid
The top dietary recommendations for lowering cholesterol are to eliminate or at least drastically limit the foods you eat that contain saturated fats, trans fats, dietary cholesterol, and refined carbohydrates.

Saturated fats
Saturated fats are found in animal-based foods, including meats, butter, whole-milk dairy products (including yogurt, cheese, and ice cream), and poultry skin. They are also found in some high-fat plant foods, including palm oil. Numerous studies have shown that by replacing saturated fat with olive oil or nuts (monounsaturated fat)... you can reduce LDL-cholesterol by significant amounts.

Trans fats
Trans fats were developed in a laboratory to improve the shelf life of processed foods -- and they do. But calorie for calorie, trans fats are even more dangerous than the saturated fats. Most stick margarines contain trans fats, and trans fats are found in many packaged baked goods, potato chips, snack foods, fried foods, and fast food that use or create "hydrogenated oils". (All food labels must now list the amount of trans fats, right after the amount of saturated fats - good news for consumers.) There is no safe amount of trans fats, so try to keep them as far from your plate as possible.

Cholesterol-rich foods
Years ago, doctors used to recommend that people with heart disease avoid all high-cholesterol foods. But dietary cholesterol does not harm health as much as saturated fats and trans fats do. Research into the effects of dietary cholesterol have been mixed, which is not surprising-different people have different susceptibilities. Still, if you want to take a firm hand to reduce your risk factors, you may want to consider cutting down on all high-cholesterol foods, including egg yolks, shellfish, liver, and other organ meats like sweetbreads and foie gras.

Good foods to choose:

Soluble fiber
Soluble fiber, may help reduce cholesterol by grabbing onto cholesterol and escorting it through your digestive system and out of your body. It also may reduce the intestinal absorption of cholesterol as well. Some of the best soluble fiber rich foods include; oatmeal, barley, lentils, Brussels sprouts, peas, beans (kidney, lima, black, navy, pinto), apples, blackberries, pears, raisins, oranges, grapefruit, dates, figs, prunes, apricots, broccoli, and sweet potato.

Healthy fats - Omega 3 Fats and Monounsaturated Fats
There was a time when heart researchers slapped the same label -- "bad" -- on every kind of fat. Now, we know that trans fats and saturated fats are amazingly dangerous for cardiovascular health, but omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats are actually good for your heart. Heart-healthy fish oils are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In multiple studies over the past 15 years, people who ate diets high in omega-3s had 30 to 40 percent reductions in heart disease, and fewer cases of sudden death from arrhythmia. Omega-3s seem to reduce inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, help to make blood thinner and less sticky so it is less likely to clot... PLUS raise HDL cholesterol (that's the good cholesterol)! So omega-3s affect nearly every risk factor for heart disease. We recommend eating at least three servings (4-ounce portions) of one of the omega-3-rich fish every week - fish like wild salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel (not king). If you cannot manage to eat that much fatty fish, incorporate omega 3 fortified eggs and additional plant based sources like walnuts, soybeans and ground flax.

Scientists discovered the benefits of monounsaturated fats, mainly found in olive oil by observing Mediterranean populations. They use olive oil more than any other form of fat and typically have low rates of coronary artery disease. Research shows it doesn't help to just add monounsaturated fats to your diet-you need to replace some of the unhealthy fats that are already in your diet (all those saturated and trans fats mentioned earlier) with better choices. There is evidence that substituting olive oil for saturated fat and low-quality refined carbohydrates can lower LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increase HDL-Cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Best foods for monounsaturated fats include: olive oil and olives, canola oil, avocado, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachio nuts and natural peanut butter.

Plant sterols or stanols
Sterols and stanols are natural substances found in small amounts in the cell membrane of plants, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. They are found in relatively high amounts in pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ. Sterols and stanols have a structure similar to cholesterol, and they compete with cholesterol for access to receptors in the small intestines. Imagine 15 people all hoping to get a ride in their friend's Volkswagen Beetle -not everyone is going to be riding in the car. Sterols/stanols compete with cholesterol, effective blocking its access. Research has shown that sterols and stanols have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by between 5 and 14 percent.

You can reap these cardiovascular benefits with just 2 grams of sterol/stanol per day, though you can't get that much eating fruits and vegetables alone. Sterols and stanols have been added to certain heart-healthy spreads that taste and cook just like margarine, including Take Control and Benecol spreads. That said they're only for those with cholesterol problems, who should consume no more than the amounts recommended: 2 to 3 tablespoons per day (each tablespoon provides one gram of sterol/stanol). You can use it on whole-grain bread, melt it on heart-healthy vegetables, or use it in cooking. We recommend trying the light versions of these spreads to save yourself 30 calories per tablespoon. If you're not a bread eater, please don't start just to have a vehicle for these spreads! Instead consider the plant stanol/sterol supplements. My favorite is Cholest-Off by Nature Made. You have to take two tablets in the morning and two tablets at night (a total of four tablets a day), 15 to 30 minutes before a meal. If you are taking a prescription cholesterol-lowering medication, talk with your doctor before taking sterol/stanol supplements.







12 Tips For Parents:
Talking To Your Kids About Sex


You've just found out your son or daughter is getting sex education at public school and you want to give them the Islamic perspective on it.

Or your kids have started asking the “where do babies come from” question.

But you just can't get over your tongue-tying embarrassment. Imagine! If your father or mother, back in Cairo or Karachi, heard of this they'd be stunned and question your parenting skills!

Here are some tips that can help you talk to your kids about the “s” word.

Tip #1: Start Early

Ideally sex education is not provided to kids in a reactionary fashion. Rather, it's given from the beginning in an indirect manner.

This means the child has to have a strong sense of identity and an understanding of what his or her values are.

“Parents are going to have sit down and explain their values to their own children. And this needs to start young, before the society influences them,” says Marilyn Morris, a Christian, who is president and founder of Aim for Success. The organization promotes abstinence from sex through speeches and presentations to students in grades six to 12. The group is one of the largest providers of abstinence education in the United States.

She says it is also important to explain to kids why you hold those values. For example, why do you not approve of sex outside of marriage, whether this is for religious and/or health reasons.

Tip #2: Give the child age-appropriate sex education

Starting to teach different topics at the right age is also important.

For example, a boy of eight may notice his mom does not pray some time during the month and may ask why. At this point, it can simply be said this is a time when Allah has excused women from praying. At the age of 12 or 13, a parent can introduce the topic of menstruation, and by that point, he will be able to make the connection.

Another way topics of a sexual nature can be introduced is while the child is reading the Quran. When the child reads verses about sexual intercourse, menstruation, or homosexuality, for example, this can be explained in a matter-of-fact manner.

Sex can also be discussed in the context of cleanliness in Islam at a certain age. For example, by the age of six or seven, a child must know how to clean him or herself after using the toilet.

After this at about eleven or twelve, the issue of Ghusl can be raised and when it is necessary (i.e. after sexual intercourse, after menstruation, etc).

As well, parents should sit with their children individually, not all together to explain various age-appropriate topics related to sex.

Some of the topics to talk about include modesty, decency, conduct and behavior .

But these should not be presented as just a bunch of rules to be followed. Rather the wisdom behind, for example, the Islamic dress code and lowering the gaze for both sexes should be explained.

Tip #3: Parents should build a good relationship with their kids
Proper sex education can only be given if the correct messages are being sent explicitly and implicitly by parents.

There has to be openness, not a rigid and dogmatic atmosphere at home.

“I'm talking about a loving relationship at home between the parents,” says Khadija Haffajee an Islamic activist and a retired school teacher from the Ottawa-Carleton region of Canada. She has spent about 30 years working in the public school system. “That there's love between the parents, there's affection. They [the kids] can see this, how they talk to each other, the respect that's there.”

Tip #4: Be an example

This goes hand in hand with being a role model, which is the best way to teach and transmit values to children.

That means not only should children be exposed to a healthy male-female relationship when they see their parents. It also means parents do not engage in activities which undermine their views on sexuality.

For instance, “being careful themselves about what they watch on T.V. or what movies they go to see, “ is crucial says Morris “because that ‘s a bad influence on us at any age. And if our children see us doing it why shouldn't they as well?”

This also means setting an example in other aspects of life by following the same rules you expect your kids to follow. For example, if you're running late, call children and let them know, show them the same courtesy you expect from them, explains Morris.

Tip #5: Meet with others who share your values

It is necessary for children to not just see the embodiment of Islamic values at home. They must also experience this in contacts with other Muslim children and families, says Haffajee.

They must see that family life the Islamic way is not just something their own family practices, but it's something others do as well.

This makes it more “normal” for the child, who in public school may have friends or acquaintances with homosexual parents (two mommies or two daddies), parents who are having sex outside of marriage (mom's boyfriend, dad's girlfriend) or other types of unacceptable relationships.

Tip #6: Get involved with your children's school
Depending on a parent's schedule, this can mean different things. Most of the time, public schools encourage parents' active participation through channels like Parent and Teachers' Associations (PTAs) or as elected school board members.

Haffajee explains that more and more schools will be decentralized and will have more power at the PTA level, for instance. Another forum for involvement is running in school board elections. School boards run all the schools in one district.

But if this is too much of a commitment for you as a parent, at least be in contact with your child's teacher, and let her/him know not just about problems, but good things he or she is doing for your child as well.

”We have to build these links, not feel it's them and us,” adds Haffajee.

Volunteering and helping at the school is also an option. This differs in each school. Some may have a lunchroom program with parents as monitors, for instance, which requires only a few hours a week.

Regular participation in such school organizations and activities gives you a voice as a parent to express your views about what's going on in the school system as it affects your child, as well as others' children.

It is important to add that this involvement should not come only when the school has done something you, as a parent, feel has violated your child's needs as a Muslim, or when you want something specifically for your child (i.e. time off for Eid, Juma, etc.).

By participating at the long-term level, your voice is more likely to be heard because you're involved in making the school better generally, not just for your child's interest only.

When it comes time for sex education, you can band together with other parents, Muslim and non-Muslim, who share the same views on the topic, and it is more likely you will be listened to.

“There are a lot of non-Muslim parents who are concerned about these issues and feel as if there is no control,” notes Haffajee.

Tip #7: Know the sex education territory
“There should be talk about what kind of information they're getting, preadolescent education,” says Haffajee.

Launching a three hour tirade against the evils of public school sex education will do little good in helping your son or daughter see what's wrong with it. This is why it is necessary to find out what is included in the sex education curriculum.

“They should find out exactly what the school is teaching, to the point of even sitting with the person doing the education and finding out about the values of that person,” says Morris. “This is a very important issue”

Tip #8: Know the Islamic perspective on sex

There is more to sex education than telling your son or daughter “don't do it until you get married”.

Topics like menstruation, sexual changes in adolescents, Islamic purity after various types of uncleanliness associated with sex also have to be discussed.

If you're not sure, get some help from a knowledgeable Muslim or Imam, as well as a guide for parents (see the review for the book Miracle Of Life.

Be capable of providing exact references from the Quran, Sunnah and valid Islamic authorities on relevant topics (i.e. birth control, boy/girl relationships, etc.).

On the same note, if in the course of your conversation your child asks you something and you are not sure about whether it really is Islamic or not, CHECK IT OUT. Assuming that a cultural practice relating to sex or boy/girl relationships is automatically Islamic is a mistake.

Tip #9: Tell your kids you're available to talk to them about sex

This is necessary, especially if sex has been a taboo subject in the household for so long.

“Parents [should] say to their children “I want to be your primary source of information about sex,” says Morris.

This makes it clear that while your child may be getting information about sex from other sources like television, the movies, school and friends, you are the “authoritative source”.

This is done best when discussed at a younger age, rather than waiting for the teen years when rebelliousness usually kicks in and kids are less likely to listen to parents.

Tip #10: Express your nervousness

It will be hard to talk about sex for many parents. But they should not hide this from their kids.

Morris recommends parents say, “If I sound nervous or uncomfortable just bear with me,” in the course of their conversation.

This stresses the seriousness of the topic and the importance of what you want to say. The fact that this is so difficult for you, yet you are going forward with it emphasizes your child's need to listen.

Tip #11: Withdraw your child from sex education but tell them why

There are public schools where sex education is an option, and a child can be exempted from it.

Haffajee says there are parents, Muslim and non-Muslim who have decided to choose this instead of having their kids sit through public school sex education.
But if you do decide to do this, she advises it is important to clearly explain to your child why this is being done, and to ensure that s/he is being provided with Islamic sex education in the home.

Otherwise, your child may see it as being excluded from an activity with his or her friends.

Tip #12: Get help from others

If you feel extremely uncomfortable talking to your kids about it, enlist the help of a knowledgeable and open Imam or community member who is of the same gender as your child, to explain the details and provide the guidance.

Other people can be Islamic weekend school teachers, a Muslim social worker, or a trusted family member like an aunt, uncle or cousin.

Also, get some books for your kids that discuss sex from an Islamic perspective. Miracle of Life or Ahmad Sakr's The Adolescent Life are some examples.

However, getting someone else to talk to them or giving them a book is not the end of the story. As a parent, you have to be ready and open to at least hear Ameer or Jamila's concerns or questions about sex, so you can direct them to the right person or information if you are uncomfortable answering yourself.

 










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