Health Benefits of Doing It Yourself

Scientific studies have proven that taking care of your mind has tremendous health benefits. Confidence, self-esteem, completing goals and connecting with other people all reduce risks for things like heart disease, high blood pressure, and other stress-related ailments. It stands to reason then that tackling a do it yourself (DIY) project can actually improve your health.

DIY projects are usually touted for their financial benefits. Who hasn’t considered making a minor repair or undertaking a small construction project to save the cost of hiring a professional? Whether you’re changing your car’s head light using a Chilton manual  or assembling that furniture from Ikea, you’re officially a DIYer. Did you realize that by doing so you’re not just saving money?  DIYer’s quickly filled the gap in the shortage of Corona Virus Face Masks making thousands of masks for healthcare workers, families and friends.

DIY Boosts Health

It may seem a little counter-intuitive to think of DIY as stress reducing. In the middle of the project you’re very likely to find yourself cursing the instructions or stressing about some part that doesn’t fit quite right. Depending on the project you may actually be putting yourself at risk for small injuries like scratches, bruises, and even cuts. If you make it to the end of one DIY project, and then another and another, you will find that you’ve gained far more than the finished product — and you’ll likely improve your hand-eye coordination as well, depending on the type of project you undertake.

The sense of accomplishment that comes from — successfully — tackling a project creates physical changes in the body. Think of the endorphin high that athletes experience at the end of a race or that students feel after finishing a final exam. While a small DIY project may not induce the same level of high, it will create a chemical reaction in your body that counters all the stress that came before. Best of all, that feeling of accomplishment can be revisited when other stressful moments occur. Future problems seem less like problems when you already know you can handle them.

We encourage our kids to have strong self-esteem and to be confident about themselves because we know that mental health is tied to physical health. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders can lead to all sorts of physical ailments. If you become a regular DIYer, you’ll find that your sense of confidence and self-esteem continues to grow as you acquire more skills and develop better habits.

Recent medical studies have reinforced the importance of personal connections to your overall health. Lonely people are much more likely to be sick than those with a strong network of family, friends, and acquaintances that keep them connected to the world. As you delve into the world of DIY you are likely to find yourself reaching out to others who have already attempted the same project. You may find an online forum or social media group that offers help. You may even find a hobby group in your hometown that meets in person to share tips and shortcuts as well as to share ideas and praise the work of other members.

Perhaps the most obvious health benefit of taking the DIY route is learning. Each new technique and skill you acquire creates new pathways in your brain. Instead of doing silly games on a “brain fitness” app on your tablet or phone, try learning something new that results in a useful object.

If you’re really lucky, a single DIY project could lead to a lifelong hobby or even a passion. Investing energy and time into something that you love and that rewards you with a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and new friends is certainly worth it. Especially if you get to save money and learn new skills along the way.

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Exercise & Fitness Vs. Vitamin C

As recently as just a decade ago, it was considered right and proper to add vitamin and mineral supplements to most nutritional plans. The use of anti-oxidants like vitamin C or vitamin E made sense. As the body ages it creates free radicals. These byproducts seemed to be causing destruction at the cellular level.

vitamin cConsequently, if there were compounds introducing too much deleterious oxygen, one considered removing these free radicals. Thus the push to introduce anti-oxidants into the consumers field of vision. Today, several studies now seem to suggest the use of vitamin C supplements or E, and others may in fact reduce the positive effects of exercise on the body.

To be certain, none of the recent reports indicate that regular ingestion of small doses of anti-oxidants is specifically harmful to the body. However, when combined with a regular exercise regimen, it seems the removal of free radicals actually reverses some of the reason why people exercise.

One set of findings indicates that while free radicals do hasten the death of cells in the body, apparently they perform dual roles. Without these substances cells seem to have a more difficult time repairing themselves. Exercise causes damage to the cells and the availability of free radicals at that time provides a means of conveying cells the ability to fix themselves. Exactly how this works is yet unknown.

What is known, as a result of some studies is the more effective the anti-oxidant therapy is, the lower the number of cell friendly free radicals. Thus the positive effects of exercise are reduced by taking vitamins like C or E.

Another challenging finding deals with insulin resistance. It seems that along with fighting off free radicals, anti-oxidants also cause the body to lower its insulin resistance, a much touted symptom associated with performing exercise. Participants who exercised regularly and did not use additional forms of anti-oxidants had higher levels of insulin resistance.

spin classHealth practitioners, doctors, and exercise enthusiasts will all tell you in order to feel better, have more energy, etc., one should actively engage in a health and fitness regime by either going to the Gym, using a home Gym or frequenting exercise classes.  Apparently there is scientific reasons why this is so. The physical stress which exercise creates in the body is counteracted with the manufacture of mitochondria, or energy producing factories.

The number of mitochondria in ones body directly affects fatigue and endurance. As fate would have it, for whatever reason, vitamin C reduces the amount of mitochondria in the body. Again, this directly contradicts the desired effects one hopes to produce by participating in exercise.

Even some of the older studies whose results have been reinterpreted based upon new findings show that Vitamin C and exercise may not necessarily go hand in hand. One such report compared regularly athletic individuals to otherwise sedentary participants. The results of engaging both groups in the same levels of exercise and physical stress showed no increase in the participants bodies requirements for anti-oxidants like vitamin C.

It might be wise to consider whether increasing ones intake of vitamin and mineral supplements specifically marketed for anti-oxidant purposes is the best choice to add to an exercise plan. If true, and most of the studies seem to point towards similar conclusions, ingestion of extra anti-oxidant vitamins may require additional levels of exercise in order to gain the desired results that exercise alone might provide.


The Advancements in Stem Cell Research

When you envision your baby’s birth, you may imagine your doctor holding the baby up and announcing, “it’s a beautiful healthy baby (add gender here)!”  The next image is probably that of the baby’s umbilical cord being cut. In that remarkable instant, mother and baby go from being one connected entity to two autonomous beings.  What you may not have thought about is how the choice you make about the subsequent moments can be critical. They present the opportunity for your baby’s cord blood to be collected and banked for decades into the future. And the decision to bank your child’s cord blood now may result in saving his or her life later on. Cord blood banks may even save the lives of your other children.

scienceCord blood flows through your placenta and into the umbilical vein to nourish and oxygenate your baby.  It also contains stem cells – more specifically, blood-forming stem cells. These stem cells are a miracle of nature because they can generate all three types of blood cells our bodies need (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). This ability to regenerate blood cells is especially necessary when a child is healing from a potentially fatal cancer like leukemia, a blood disorder such as sickle cell anemia, or certain immune system disorders.  If your child is ever diagnosed with one of these fatal diseases, the cord blood you have banked will be used to help save your child’s life. A stem cell transplant will boost the immune system and can help him or her recover from subsequent treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. If you do not bank your baby’s cord blood, you can end up playing a stressful and worrisome waiting game.

When a child needs a stem cell transplant, it can mean waiting for a matching cord blood, or bone marrow, donor and this can take a long time. Sometimes families wait months for a correct match and time is critical when a child is fighting for his or her life. It’s important to note that if you are an ethnic minority, or if your baby was conceived via in vitro fertilization, you might have to wait even longer than normal for an ideal match.  Parents who have banked their child’s cord blood have no wait at all. It is one of the best investments you can make for your family.

New Guidelines Proposed for Children Receiving Radiation Scans

In the past paced, ever-evolving medical age that we live in receiving an x-ray, CT scan or any other test using radiation is relatively common, even for children. But as the number of scans increases the FDA as well as the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging are suggesting that the amount of radiation children receive over the course of their lifetime could increase their risk of certain cancers later in life.

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The article, published by the Boston Globe , stated that while many pediatric hospitals adjust their scanners to produce a lower amount of radiation for children it is not necessarily the case in general hospitals. As part of the recommendation to lower the dose that children receive, the FDA is also recommending that machines have built in adjustments for children of different ages and sizes.

The agency is also calling on parents to track the tests that their children receive. Often the results could be determined with a radiation-free test, only using radiation when absolutely necessary. It’s also a good way to track your child’s exposure to ensure that it doesn’t become excessive. This is of particular importance for children that with serious illnesses that require more tests than the average child.

Experts say that the tests, when necessary, are safe but this is just one more way to ensure that our children lead happy healthy lives .

The Quest for Health

The quest for health requires of all things – a healthy lifestyle. Easy to say not so easy to do in this world of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles. However there is no getting around this simple rule.

There are two things you must incorporate into your lifestyle if you want to achieve health and increase muscle mass, lose belly fat, develop stamina and all the other benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

Number one is to undertake regular cardiovascular exercise. Simple huh? Do this four days per week for forty minutes. Cardio can take the form of running, cycling, swimming or any other exercise where you are out of breath and sweating!! Muscle building exercises such as weights and bodybuilding are not cardiovascular and so dont fall in this category. Cardio is suppose to be challenging as the aim is to increase the heart rate for an extended period of time. One benefit of cardio is that it uses up calories and thus aids weight loss.

Number two is to eat only wholegrain, organic, unrefined, or non processed foods. This is important as it will keep your appetite in check and ensure good eating habits. Must of the food found in grocery stores these days has been so refined and added to that many key nutrients have been removed and often replaced with artificial ones as well as chemicals and preservatives. Therefore make a point to eat only wholegrains and organic items. Try to avoid excessive intake of sugars, alcohol and caffeine.

By following these two steps your will improve your well being and ensure that your weight stays at a healthy level. This will help eliminate the need for unhealthy weight loss regimes such as crash diets, fat burning and cosmetic surgery.

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Are Vitamin Supplements During Pregnancy Recomended?

The importance of taking vitamin supplements before, during and after pregnancy is just one thing you can do for your child that has lasting effects. Many experts contend that taking supplements during pregnancy are indeed necessary. So which vitamins should you be taking?

Many of the nutrients your body needs before, during and after pregnancy are not received – even when your diet is perfect. In addition, women with certain diets or conditions are less likely to be consuming the vitamins they need to be at optimum health. Vegetarians or vegans, women with food intolerances, smokers, women with blood disorders, and women who are having twins or multiple births are at risk.

The vitamins most important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy include: folic acid, vitamin B and iron. Taking folic acid for pregnancy and vitamin B often help reduce the chance of birth defects such as spina bifida, cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain heart defects.

Iron is important for pregnant women, as the need for this mineral is increased during pregnancy. Decreased levels of iron during pregnancy may cause preterm delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality.

Many experts suggest a full dietary assessment to be done prior to taking vitamins during pregnancy. This assessment will allow you to figure out which vitamins are indeed needed. Over consumption of certain vitamins can actually be a detriment to your baby’s health. For instance, “Retinoid embryopathy”, a syndrome affecting your baby’s face, ear, heart or central nervous system and thymus can be caused by excessive consumption of vitamin A. While rare, it’s still a concern for some pregnant women.

Taking vitamins during pregnancy, before, and after as well is extremely important for your health as well as your babies. Evaluate your needs with your doctor and choose vitamins that are manufactured from the best natural ingredients available.

Are you taking prenatal vitamins or folic acid during pregnancy? Tell us, in the comments below!