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Daily Archives: December 20, 2016

5 Healthy Reasons to Have a Glass of Wine Tonight

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It seems like no one can get enough of red wine, scientists included; every day there seems to be another study touting the amazing benefits of the plum-colored beverage. Lucky for us, the proof is in the long-stemmed glass (just one, since drinking more may be detrimental to your health). Here are five reasons unwinding with a glass of red after a long day should be on your list of to-dos — one reason for every workday!

It’s good for your heart: Antioxidants in red wine called flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and increasing the production of good cholesterol. According to researchers at the University of California, Davis, certain varietals have more concentrations of flavonoids than others. Of the most common red varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon has the most flavonoids, followed closely by Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir, then Merlot and Red Zinfandel.

It can lower depression: While heavy drinking has been linked to mental health problems, drinking a glass of red wine a day may do the opposite. A recent study found that moderate drinkers (those who drank two to seven small glasses of wine a week) were less likely to suffer from depression than those who drank more or less.

It can help your gut: That morning bowl of Greek yogurt isn’t the only thing that’s helping your gut. A study found that drinking red wine increases the amount of good bacteria levels in your digestive tract.

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It may help you lose fat: New research is studying the effects of piceatannol, a compound found in red wine that is converted from the antioxidant resveratrol, has on fat. A recent lab study found that piceatannol blocks fat cells from forming, and more studies are looking at how the compound can help us slim down.

It can improve memory: Polyphenols, also found in tea, nuts, berries, and cocoa, can improve your memory and may also decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Newsweek Writer Says Tweet Caused Epileptic Seizure

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There's no question certain tweets can throw you for a loop. But can a tweet actually cause a seizure?

Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald—who has publicly revealed that he has epilepsy—says a troll sent him a malicious tweet meant to do exactly that, and it worked.

After Eichenwald appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight last Thursday, he wrote a series of tweets referencing his acrimonious interview with the Fox News anchor. Apparently the seizure occurred later that night: Newsweek reports that another user sent Eichenwald an image of a strobe light with the message, "You deserve a seizure for your postings." 

On Friday, Eichenwald announced that he would be taking a break from the social media platform: "I will be spending that time with my lawyers &  law enforcement going after 1 of u…" 

"This not going to happen again," he wrote in another tweet. "My wife is terrified. I am … disgusted."

According to Newsweek, Eichenwald's lawyer has filed a criminal assault complaint with the Dallas Police Department, and plans to file a similar complaint in the jurisdiction of the user once that person is identified.

RELATED: 6 Things That Can Trigger a Seizure Even If You Don't Have Epilepsy

So how could a tweet trigger an epileptic seizure? We asked Derek Chong, MD, director of the epilepsy program and vice chair of neurology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, to explain: "There are some people who are very susceptible to strobes and flashing lights. If you open the message and it automatically plays and you’re really susceptible to it, you could potentially have a seizure." (Dr. Chong is not familiar with the specifics of Eichenwald's experience.)

This would fall into the category of photosensitive epilepsy, one of several reflex epilepsies—epiliepsies where an outside stimulus brings on seizures, Dr. Chong explains. The stimulus can be something in the environment, like a certain smell or noise, or can involve more complex behaviors such as reading, bathing, eating, doing math, or even thinking about certain topics. (Sometimes, a specific type of music can trigger seizures—one woman on Long Island had seizures whenever she heard Sean Hall on the radio, says Dr. Chong.) Reflex epilepsies account for about 5% of all cases of epilepsy; photosensitive epilepsy comprises 3% of total cases. Flashing lights are "a well-known trigger," says Dr. Chong. 

RELATED: 9 Foods That May Help Save Your Memory

Other factors besides an outside stimulus can trigger a seizure. If Eichenwald had already had a stressful day, for instance, and the level of excitability in his brain was already pushed very high, then "this could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Dr. Chong explains. 

Fortunately, Eichenwald seems to be okay. Earlier today, he reiterated his outrage on Twitter, and tried to put the seriousness of the attack in context: "Folks, if a blind man says things you don't like politically, it is not okay to direct him toward the edge of a cliff. Find some humanity."

The writer's metaphor is no exaggeration. Each year, some 50,000 people in the United States die as a result of seizures. In general, people with seizures have up to triple the risk of dying than someone without.

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Choose a Healthy Affirmation as Your New Year's "Resolution"

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If you know now that you’re going to forget about your resolution by February 2017, then it’s time for another plan. Why not choose an affirmation or mantra for your year instead of a resolution? Instead of one hard goal, try making this affirmation your theme for the year. Repeat it to yourself daily, and do your best to live each day with the intention of representing your mantra.

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Maybe your affirmation is “I am strong,” and whether you go to a workout or push through an emotionally trying day, you’ll be living out your year’s affirmation. If you need more guidance, try making your affirmation “I’m making the best choices for my body,” so with every dietary, physical, and mental choice, you’ll be reminded to take care of yourself and make a specific and conscious choice for what you need. No one else’s diet or workout plan — just yours!

And if you still want to make a fitness resolution, these affirmations will help you keep to your goals all the way through next December. Try any of these 10 suggestions to empower and enable your health, or create your own.

I am strong.
I love my body.
I am healthy.
I am getting better every day.
I am free to make my own choices.
I am growing.
I am enough.I am moving forward daily.
I’m making the best choices for my body.
I am not controlled by stress, fear, or anxiety.

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The benefits of plyometric exercises

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Plyometrics are great for cardio, toning and fat loss here, we take a look at how the humble plyometric box can be a killer workout session.

“The plyo box has been popular among athletes and hard-core fitness enthusiasts for a while now, but has become more mainstream since the introduction of CrossFit,” says elite trainer of over 15 years Matthew Strickland.

“They are great for cardio-based and high-intensity training, but can also be used for rehabilitative purposes and for evening out physique imbalances.”

Plyometric boxes and aerobic steps come in a range of heights and sizes to adhere to varying fitness levels and exercise goals. While fixed-height boxes are available and usually come in sets of three to four, try opting for a sturdy, adjustable step if you are tight on space. And if you aren’t confident in the jumps, we say go for foam rather than metal or wood versions: a lot less chance of skinned shins.

For cardio/fat loss: Plyometric training involves using explosive bodyweight movements to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time – making them the perfect fat-burning tool. Explosive movements also mean power and strength, especially in the lower body, can be achieved. Again, keep rest periods short and repetitions as high as possible – although given their taxing nature, sessions shouldn’t go much longer then 30 to 45 minutes. Tip: “When performing box jumps, start in a quarter squat and hinge from the hips to engage the hamstrings and glutes,” says Strickland. “Landings on the box should be soft to help avoid injury.” 

For toning: While plyometric training is renowned for explosive bodyweight movements, Strickland says that there are a range of toning exercises that can be performed simultaneously. “Think anything from single-leg step-ups to incline push-ups using the box,” he says. “The varied range will target muscles you never even knew you had.”

“With proper technique, kettlebells can be used to train your entire body for both toning and fat-burning goals,” says Strickland. “I run a half-hour class and never repeat the same exercise, so boredom is never an issue.”

Compound movements such as the kettlebell swing, in which the centre of gravity shifts, work the entire body while moves native to dumbbell workouts often isolate one or two muscle groups.

“Kettlebells, in my experience, allow people to get deeper into the movements than say a dumbbell,” says Strickland.

For toning:  Kettlebells of varying weights can be used to load isolated muscle groups. When setting up your home gym, opt for a set of light, medium and heavy kettlebells to ensure everything from shoulders to legs can be worked. Strickland’s favourite for a killer lower-body toning session? “I often work some of my favourite kettlebell exercises into a circuit to ensure the muscles are exhausted while also providing a killer cardio and fat-burning workout,” he says. “Try a burpee to kettlebell deadlift to kettlebell upright row. Say no more, this will push your whole body to its limits, and then some.”

For fat loss/cardio: Fat loss and cardio fitness are best achieved through circuit-style training, with limited rest and higher repetitions to ensure the heart rate is elevated for long periods. Strickland suggests high-intensity interval work, with exercises performed for 45 seconds at max reps followed by a short 15-second rest. Sessions should last for about 20 to 30 minutes all up. “Work from the larger muscle to smallest, allowing you to achieve a wider variety of movements. It also means the most taxing, compound movements are completed first,” says Strickland.

NEXT: Looking for more fat loss tips? Check out Alexa Towersey’s here.

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If You Want to Lose Weight, Here's Why You Should Try Matcha

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Ready to take your morning caffeine habit to the next level? It may be time to replace your loose leaves or cup of coffee with matcha. A powdered form of steamed and dried green tea leaves that has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, matcha tastes like a grassier, brighter version of the regular stuff. Think of it as the “healthy espresso of green tea,” say David Mandelbaum and Jessica Lloyd, owners of matcha purveyor Panatea. So just how healthy is the green powder? A study found that one serving of matcha has 137 times more disease-fighting polyphenols, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), than a brewed mug of conventional China Green Tips — the equivalent of up to 10 cups of regular green tea! With such an antioxidant punch, it’s no wonder that matcha just may be the new superfood. Read on for why it could just be a miracle in a mug.

Weight-loss concentrate: EGCG has been shown in some lab studies to boost metabolism, and other research has shown that EGCG may help stop the growth of new fat cells. While more studies are still needed to confirm results in humans, add to this the fact that drinking green tea instead of sugary drinks can help you save calories, and opting for a healthy matcha-based drink (like this lower-calorie version of Starbucks’s green tea latte) may just be a wise weight-loss decision.

Disease-fighter: The concentrated levels of antioxidants in matcha are hard to beat, especially considering catechins in green tea have been shown to have cancer-preventing as well as immunity-boosting effects, including helping prevent high-risk health workers from catching the flu.

Daily detox: Matcha may just help keep your body functioning in tip-top shape; a lab study in rats with type 2 diabetes found that a daily dose of matcha provided a protective effect on their liver and kidney systems. Other research has found that green tea drinkers had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes by helping reduce blood glucose levels — the more green tea they drank, the lower the risk.

Jitter-free energy: A serving of matcha has less caffeine than an espresso, but its nutrient makeup just may give you more energy. Because the tea leaves used to make matcha are protected from sunlight before being harvested and steamed, the leaves retain much of their natural chlorophyll (which is why matcha is so green), a substance that has been shown to help boost energy. Plus, green tea is an excellent source of the mind-calming amino acid L-theanine, which means you may just feel more awake and alert without the late-afternoon caffeine crash.

When buying matcha, be sure and check each product so you know you’re buying high-quality tea with the most health benefits. “The more vibrantly green the matcha is, the higher the chlorophyll and amino acid content,” David and Jessica advise. Also, check labels and watch out for additives and sugars, which some matcha products contain. For the perfect cup, David and Jessica recommend heating water until near boiling (180°F) and whisking in matcha powder in a “M” or “W” motion.

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Britney Spears Loves Being Upside Down!

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Good morning! May you all have a blessed day 😊

A photo posted by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on Dec 19, 2016 at 9:19am PST

Britney Spears is at it again, hanging out upside down on her hands in this gorgeous handstand variation. It’s part scorpion and part split! If you’ve ever tried doing a handstand against the wall, you know how challenging it is and a great workout for your upper body. Britney is so strong and flexible — it’s inspiring us to try!

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