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Archive for September, 2011

How Can The Environment Affect Your Health?

September 29, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

As a working woman with children, a husband who works in the building trades, and a father with Alzheimer’s, I am very concerned about environmental contaminants.

There has been growing evidence in the form of scientific studies that warn about contaminated food and the possible health risks. My father is one of thirteen children and the only one in his family to have developed a dementia type disease. Did he get exposed to something that his brothers and sisters didn’t? Or was it genetic? They know so little about dementia, but it just seems a bit coincidental that as the percentage of people developing dementia and cancer are increasing so is the quantity and variety of toxins that are being created and released into our environment. Hmmm……

What do we mean by “the environment”?

The environment is everything around you, indoors and outdoors. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the ground you walk on, and the food you eat are all part of your environment. It’s important that you know what things in the environment can affect your health and what you can do to protect yourself and your family now and over your lifetime.

How the environment affects your health

Chemicals are released into the environment in a variety of ways. Manufacturing plants have often been blamed as the primary culprit releasing chemicals in the form of waste products into water supplies and the air. However, individual homeowners can release lead into the soil from scraping old house paint, or by pouring oil from a car into the road drain. Today, scientists are measuring abnormalities in fish and amphibians that seem to be caused by an increasing amount of pharmaceuticals being flushed down the toilet, thus entering the water supply.

Women

Environmental toxins play a role in conditions such as breast cancer, endometriosis, and menopause. Pregnant or nursing mothers can have increased risks for miscarriage, preterm birth and birth defects. Pollutants in the environment can contribute and aggravate symptoms of cardiovascular and lung disease, including high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma in older woman. Long term exposure may cause cancer and dementia. Click here for a list of top 7 threat’s to women’s health.

Children 

Many types of exposures are more harmful for children than for adults. There are many reasons for this, some are:

  • Relative to their body weight, children eat, breathe and drink more than adults do. So children take in higher concentrations of any toxins in food, water, or air.
  • As organs develop, they are more likely to be damaged by exposure to toxins.
  • The ways that toxins are removed from the body are not fully developed in children.
  • Children spend more time outdoors, where they may be exposed to outdoor air pollution and ultraviolet radiation.
  • Children do more intense physical activity, causing them to breathe air pollutants more deeply into their lungs.
  • Young children tend to put their hands, dirt and other objects into their mouths.

Men

Men more often are exposed to work related environmental toxins from the labor trades or from around the home. Lead and VOC in paint, pesticides from lawn care, or asbestos and other air quality pollutants can cause men to be prone to lung cancer. Excess sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. Prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, stroke and diabetes are among the top 7 threats to men’s health.

There are habits that you can change to reduce your risks from environmental hazards.

Theresa Dansin is the webmaster at www.greenchoicesforyou.com.  She shares news, information and recommendations on how to go green todayin order to encourage environmentally friendly families for tomorrow.

Cold and Flu Season Tips

September 26, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

According to FluFacts.com, there are an estimated 25 to 50 million cases of the flu reported in America each year.   Below you will find some vital cold and flue season tips that can help you to stay healthy through the cold and flu season.
(ARA) – If you’re a “seasonal allergy” sufferer, you know the term “seasonal” can be a misnomer. Allergy symptoms can flare up year-round, even during the height of cold and flu season. Just as cold and flu season doesn’t stop when winter ends, allergies don’t necessarily disappear just because summer is over. Taking care of your sinuses year-round can help you feel better whatever the season.”Sinus health is the foundation for good respiratory health,” says Mike Tringale, vice president at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). “And we are increasingly finding that relieving nasal congestion makes a huge impact on the quality of life for people of all ages.”AAFA offers some tips for reducing sinus symptoms, whether they’re caused by allergies, a cold or the flu:* To reduce your chance of catching a cold, avoid touching your face or nose. Wash your hands with hot water and soap regularly, especially after being in public places like stores, transit stations, schools or offices.

* To clear out nasal congestion, consider naturally derived saline moisturizers, available at most retailers, year-round. Drug-free and preservative-free options like Arm & Hammer Simply Saline can be used as frequently as needed because it’s made of purified water and sodium chloride.

* Talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot each year to try to avoid getting the flu. However, if you feel flu-like symptoms, talk to your doctor within the first few days to get medications that will reduce the severity.

* Manage your seasonal allergies by reading daily pollen counts and limiting your outdoor exposure on high-pollen days, and keep windows and doors closed during the morning hours before noon, when pollen tends to be most prevalent in the air.

You can also log on to www.SimplySaline.com, the website of Arm & Hammer Simply Saline, for more information and allergy-management advice.

By using the cold and flu season tips above, you will gain more chance of staying healthy during the 2011-2012 cold and flu season.

Fun Autumn Activities for Kids

September 19, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Freebies, Just for Fun No Comments →

If you are looking for some fun Autumn activities for kids, you’ve come to the right place.  Fall winds blow and leaves make their decent from tree limbs. It is the perfect time for fun autumn activities for kids.

Here are some fun Autumn activities and craft ideas that you can do with your kids: 

Create an autumn yard collage

This is a great way to get your kids involved in beautifying your front lawn for the fall season. Materials you will need to create your autumn yard collage include hay bales, pumpkins (all sizes), scarecrows, witches, cornucopias, etc. Anything related to fall will look wonderful. Stack your hay bales to create a backdrop. Next, place a huge scarecrow (or witch) on the center of the stack. Then add other complimentary fall accessories like cornucopias, corn stacks, ghosts, etc.

Make a haunted tree

Making a haunted tree is a fun activity for everyone. It is especially great to do right after raking leaves. First, pick the biggest, best tree in your front yard; preferably one with many long, crooked limbs. Next, take small white trash bags and stuff the top half with leaves from your yard. Twist and tie the bag into a knot, or use a twist-tie to close the end where the leaves stop. Turn upside down and you have a ghost! Make as many of these ghosts as you can, then tie them to tree limbs. As the fall winds blow, your ghosts will haunt your tree.

Happy Autumn Cards

Supply each kid with markers, paper, glue, glitter, stickers, etc. Let them make several autumn cards and write a special message on the inside of each one. After any wet appliqués are dried, gather the cards and take them to your local nursing home to distribute among patients.

Leaf Tracings

Fold 10 sheets of copy paper in half and crease in the center. Bind the booklet by punching two holes in the spine, threading yarn through the holes, and tying the ends. Take your kids to the park. Challenge them to find and trace as many unique leaves as possible.

Book of Leaves

Make a booklet, as described above. This time, have your child search for odd-looking leaves to collect and place in their book. Then give them an encyclopedia and let them research their leaves. Have them write down the name of each leaf and three interesting facts about the leaf.

Leaf Characters

Draw and copy different types of leaves onto thick construction paper. Let your kids cut out the leaves and apply glitter to add sparkle. Next, have them create leaf characters by gluing leaves together to create a face, body, and limbs. After the glue dries, they can draw faces on the leaves with markers.

Leaf Collage

Gather as many types of leaves as you can find. Glue the leaves in any kind of arrangement onto a piece of construction paper or cardboard. Alternatively, spread white school glue across an entire sheet of paper or piece of cardboard. Crumble leaves at random over the glue. When the glue dries, you will have an awesome leaf collage.
 

Using one or more of the fun Autumn activites for kids ideas above, will be sure to add some smiles on the kids faces.

Indoor Herb Garden Tips

September 16, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Many people get discoraged when the seasons change and they quickly look around for some quick indoor herb garden tips that they can use so that they don’t miss out on the taste of fresh herbs when the seasons change.

Don’t despair if you want a nice herb garden but you don’t have the time and space for a big garden plot. Many herbs are hardy and easy to grow in containers, so you can make your own indoor herb garden. Tips like the ones I have included below will help to supply  you with herbs for cooking, tea, and crafts; your indoor herb garden will beautify your home and enhance the indoor air quality.

Here are some indoor herb garden tips on how to get started.

1. Choose Your Spot — Bear in mind that most herbs enjoy sunshine, at least three to four hours a day. So a sunny spot is ideal. If you don’t have a sunny spot, don’t worry – you can choose shade-tolerant herbs and/or rig up a fluorescent light to augment the light from your window(s).

If you like, you can purchase or make a rack or open shelf for your herbs, which can come in especially handy if you need to move your garden from one sunny window to another. Make sure you have a rubber tub or other protection under whatever set-up you choose, so that the floor, table, and so forth won’t get doused with water when you give your garden a drink.

2. Choose Your Herbs

Herbs that grow well in pots include the following:

  • Parsley (can tolerate some shade)
  • Lemon balm (shade-tolerant)
  • Mints (shade-tolerant)
  • Basil (sun-loving)
  • Thyme (sun-loving)
  • Chives (can tolerate some shade)
  • Oregano (can tolerate some shade)

There are others, too. When you go to buy your plants from a local nursery, you can ask them what other herbs do well indoors.

3. Choose Your Containers – Herbs are usually not too picky, but it pays to know something about the root structure of the herbs you want to grow.  Thyme, for instance, has a much shallower root system than lemon balm. So choose your containers based on the growth habits of the herbs. Just make sure every container has adequate drainage. And when in doubt, err on the size of size – it’s better to have a pot that seems too big than one that’s too small. 

4. Plant Your Herbs -  Once you have your plants home, you’ll want to plant them in the containers you’ve chosen. Place potting soil into the bottom of each container, then set the herb carefully down into the pot and fill the rest of the space with soil. Water thoroughly after planting, and keep the herbs out of direct sun for a day or two. Then put them in their sunny spot and watch them grow!

All of the above indoor herb garden tips will help to keep your house beautiful and smelling lovely year round and you can also get the benefit of tasting your home grown herbs even during the winter months.

Whole Grain Snacks For Kids

September 13, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Children, Healthy Living No Comments →

Here are some easy tips that you can use to help to include more whole grains snacks for kids into your childs diet

(ARA) - Parents want the best nutrition for their children, but there is often a struggle between making healthy choices and pleasing children’s palates. Whole grains are critical for maintaining children’s health, but research shows most kids are eating far less than is recommended. The good news is that there are plenty of creative ways to resolve this nutritional dilemma by incorporating whole grain snacks for kids and whole grain meals throughout the day.

How deprived are our children?

Young people are consuming less than one serving of whole grains per day, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming at least three or more servings of whole grain per day. A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that children who consume the most servings of whole grains have higher nutrient intake and better diets overall.

What exactly are whole grains?

Grains are divided into two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel. Because whole grains haven’t been refined, they contain higher levels of dietary fiber, iron and B vitamins. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas and grits are examples. By eating whole grain varieties of these foods, you’ll give yourself and your children better nutrition.

What are easy ways to eat whole grains every day?

1. Make it a whole grain breakfast. The morning may be the easiest time to begin integrating whole grains into your family’s diets because many breakfast foods are available in whole grain options. Choose ready-to-eat breakfast cereals containing whole grains, including whole wheat cereal flakes, muesli and rolled oats. Choose whole grain bread for satisfying and tasty morning toast. Tip for parents of picky eaters: If your kids want a bit more sweetness with their whole grain breakfast, offer dried fruits to add to cereal and real fruit jam as a topping on toast.

2. Read labels. Foods labeled multi-grain, stone-ground, 100 percent wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain or bran may not contain any whole grain. Tip for reading food labels: Check the label for fiber content. A product containing 10 to 19 percent of the daily recommended value of fiber is a good source of whole grains.

3. Stock whole grain snacks for kids. Choose snacks that contain whole grains, such as Lance Whole Grain Peanut Butter or Cheese Sandwich Crackers, which contain more than 8 grams of whole grain per serving and offer 12 percent of the recommended daily value of fiber. Visit www.Facebook.com/LanceSnacks to learn more. Tip for choosing sensible snacks: Look for products that contain zero grams trans fat, no preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup, such as Lance Sandwich Crackers.

4. Add whole grains to your dinner plate with a side dish. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun – add vegetables and seasoning to brown rice, quinoa or whole grain couscous for a tasty alternative to potato or pasta salad. The colorful creations make eating whole grain side dishes fun for kids of all ages. Tip for busy parents: Cook up extra rice, bulgur or barley when you have time and freeze it for use later as a quick side dish.

5. Set a good example. Say goodbye to the old food pyramid as the new diet recommendations from the USDA follow a circular icon known as MyPlate. Part of this change includes the recommendation that half of all the grains we eat should be whole grain. Kids will follow your lead; make sure that you eat whole grains often as part of your meals and snacks. Plus, research shows people who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases – so mom and dad can live healthier as well. Tip for learning more about MyPlate: If you’re still unsure about the new USDA MyPlate guidelines,visit www.choosemyplate.gov for tips and tools.

Eating whole grains benefits everyone’s diet, and with these tips, you can easily integrate whole grains into your family’s snacks and meals while enjoying delicious and healthy results. Using 1 or more of the tips above will help you to add more whole grain snacks for kids into their diet.

As you can see there are some  low fat fast food options available to you when you are in a hurry to eat but also want to make healthy choices.  Also be sure to visit Meal Planning Central for a free meal planning report.

Low Fat Fast Food Options

September 12, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Yes, there are some low fat fast food options out there.  I know…  when you think of “fast food,” it’s probably not in connection with healthy eating.  However, it is possible to make healthy food quickly at home, and there are also healthy choices your teen can make at fast food restaurants.

Here are some low fat fast food options that you can incorporate into your diet.

Pizza – Yes, pizza can be a healthy, fast meal. If you make your own crust, choose a healthy, whole wheat recipe and freeze the extra dough. Then you can thaw out the dough (or buy a ready-made whole wheat crust) and add healthy toppings – just leave off the fatty meats like pepperoni and sausage, and cut back on cheese.   Pizzas only need to bake for 10 minutes or so at 500 degrees F, making them a pretty fast option.

Some low fat fast food option toppings for pizza:

  • Garlic, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan
  • Tomatoes, onions, olives and bell peppers
  • Mushrooms, onions and banana pepper rings
  • Green olives, garlic, onion, and bell pepper
  • Fresh tomatoes, minced basil, and mozzarella

Veggie Burgers - This is another great  low fat fast food option.  You can make these patties ahead and freeze them (black bean burgers freeze well) or buy ready-made veggie burgers. Then you can pull them out of the freezer and heat them in a skillet with a little olive oil and they’re ready to eat in a matter of minutes. Serve these as you would traditional burgers, but make sure you use a whole grain bun (or no bun at all).

Fish Sticks  – Pre-packaged, frozen fish sticks are notoriously high in fat and salt (and who knows what else). Keep some mild white fish, such as tilapia, on hand and slice the fillets into strips to make your own fish sticks. Toss the fish with lemon juice, then dip the pieces in whole wheat flour, a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 3/4 cup plain yogurt, and whole wheat bread crumbs or panko. Then bake on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet for about 12 minutes at 425 degrees F.

As you can see there are some  low fat fast food options available to you when you are in a hurry to eat but also want to make healthy choices.  Also be sure to visit Meal Planning Central for a free meal planning report.

Fall Gardening Ideas

September 08, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

You’ve come to the right page if you are looking for some great fall gardening ideas!  While things are winding down in the fall, there are still some gardening tips and strategies that you can employ.   You can add some color and life to your garden, and prepare it for winter. Depending on where you live, fall can be a busy time in the garden.

Here are some Fall gardening ideas that you can use: 

Color  – Fall is a colorful season, and you can add some of that color to your garden this time of year. Chrysanthemums (mums) come in a variety of yellows, bronzes, reds, and purples. Fall is the time to plant these and take advantage of the season’s colors. It’s worth noting, however, that mums will return each year – they’re perennials.  So take that into consideration as you decide on their placement in your garden.

Get the Weeds before They Seed – Fall is the time when many weeds go to seed, sending the makings of next year’s invasion all over your yard. Thankfully, fall can be a rainy time, and wet soil is easier to pull or hoe weeds out of than dry soil. You’ll thank yourself next spring when the weeds are fewer.

Another word about weed control in the fall – you can lay down several layers of newspaper on your garden once the plants are spent. Anchor the newspapers with rocks or soil and, by the time spring arrives, the weeds will have been deprived of the light and air they need to sprout. The newspaper will decompose and can be tilled into the soil to enrich it, and another layer applied in the spring before planting (poke holes in the newspaper layer to plant).

Pests’ Hiding Places – Remove the dead leaves and spent plants from your garden before winter sets in. Many invasive and annoying pests overwinter beneath leaves, boards, tools, and anything else left lying on the ground.

However, some gardeners like to leave a layer of autumn leaves on their garden to act as a mulch and compost in one. So depending on what kind of pests you have in your area and how cold it gets, leaving the leaves may work for you.

Plant Bulbs -  There are a variety of bulbs that need to be planted in the fall. If you grow garlic, it will need to be put into the garden in the fall. Flowers like hyacinths and daffodils are typically planted in the fall so they can complete their growth cycle in time to come up in spring. 

Trees and Shrubs -   When thinking of Fall gardenging ideas, don’t forget about those shrubs.  Now is a good time to prune back trees and shrubs, including shrub roses. It’s also a good time to plant them. In the fall, trees and shrubs are in a dormant state, and the planting and pruning are less shocking to the plant.

As you can see from the above Fall gardening ideas, there are many things that you can do to your yard to add some beauty and color for the Fall season.

Causes Of Insomnia In Adults

September 05, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Although from time to tims, we all have trouble drifting off to sleep, it can cause more stress for some than others.   Insomnia is one of the most common medical complaints, according to the Mayo Clinic.  There are many causes of Insomnia in adults and insomnia occurs when you regularly have a problem either getting to sleep, or staying asleep long enough to feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning.

Although you might assume insomnia is just an unlucky condition in itself, it’s usually a symptom of something else. This is why it’s vital you understand the causes of insomnia and visit a doctor to rule out something more serious.

 Causes Of Insomnia In Adults

1) Stress

One of the most common causes of insomnia in aduts is stress!  We’ve all probably experienced short term stress-related insomnia at some point in our lives. You just can’t get to sleep as you have a thousand thoughts and worries running through your mind. For some, however, the insomnia stays even when the stress has gone. Some people learn to associate their bed or trying to get to sleep with being stressed or feeling “awake”.

 2) Anxiety And Other Mental Health Issues

Anxiety disorders will often leave people staying awake at night, either due to physical or mental symptoms. Other causes of insomnia include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others. Treatment of the underlying condition will often help with the insomnia.

 3) Medication

On of the most overlooked causes of insomnia in adults is medication.  Believe it or not, even sleep medication can be one of the causes of insomnia once we become dependent on using it. However, there are a whole range of other prescription medications that can make a difference – from antidepressants to hormone treatments and high blood pressure medication. It’s always a good idea to discuss any medication with your doctor to make sure it’s not the cause of your sleepless nights.

 4) Underlying Conditions

There are a whole host of physical conditions known to be causes of insomnia. This is why you shouldn’t just assume it’s in your head and that you can treat yourself. It could be a sign of something more serious, so take the time out to visit your doctor to rule other problems out.

5) Drugs

Lastly, we all know that stimulants such as caffeine can keep us awake. But you may not realize that alcohol also negatively effects sleep, despite the fact that we initially feel sleepy and relaxed when we drink it. You should try to avoid these drinks before bedtime if you want to have the best sleep possible.

Remember, although you may recognize one of these causes of insomnia in adults instantly, it’s still vital that you talk to your doctor before diagnosing yourself.

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Make Your Own Spa Day at Home

September 02, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living, Stress Management No Comments →

If you need some time out and don’t have the money to splurge on getting away, why not make your own spa day at home?

More and more people are enjoying staycations and saving money by taking time off but staying at home (or very close to it).   Maybe you think that there’s no way you could afford a spa day or you could never seem to make take the time off and commit to ‘spoiling’ yourself.

There is a way to make your own spa day at home. It takes less time and money than a day at a professional spa. You just have to plan for it.  Here are some ideas on how to create this special day for yourself.

1. Arrange for Child Care

Of course you love your children; but to have a day that’s really your own (where you’re not wiping noses and fixing meals and cleaning messes), and to make your own spa day at home truly relaxing, you will need to arrange for someone to take you child or children for a good part of the day. Even a few hours is long enough for some spa pampering.

2. Gather Your Supplies

For a spa day at home, you’ll need some basic items. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • Bathrobe
  • Towels
  • Slippers
  • Candles
  • Healthy snacks and meals (nothing ruins a healthy spa day like getting hungry and going for the chips because you don’t have any healthy foods prepared)
  • Relaxing music
  • Facial mask of your choice, homemade or store-bought
  • Pumice stone
  • Pedicure and manicure supplies, such as nail clippers, files, polish, cuticle remover, nail soak or oil, etc.
  • Relaxing herbal teas
  • Body lotion or oil
  • Deep hair conditioner

3. Enjoy Your own Spa Day at Home

Once you have things planned and your supplies ready, you can settle in to your spa day. Here are some suggestions for how to make it happen.

  • Exercise – Before you begin, do some light exercise and take a shower. Then you’ll be energized and relaxed at the same time, and your skin will be clean and ready for treatment. Use lotion or oil on your skin after your shower.
  • Create the environment – Turn off the phone and electronic devices. Make the lighting fit your taste; if you like natural sunlight and fresh air, open doors and windows. Or you might prefer dim lighting with candles. Put on the music you’d like.
  • Apply hair treatment – If you’re doing deep conditioning, you can take advantage of your hair still being damp from your shower. Work the conditioner in and wrap a towel around your head while it works.
  •  Apply your face mask – While you’re letting the mask and conditioner do their work, lie down on the couch and eat some healthy foods like fruit.
  • Do your nails and give yourself a pedicure - After you’ve rinsed your hair and face, it’s time for your nails. Work on your calluses with the pumice stone, and treat yourself to a home pedicure and manicure.

So, what are you waiting for?  Why not make your own spa day at home and treat yourself to a relaxing day.