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The Smoothie Diet – Smoothies For Weight Loss And Incredible Health

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Drew Manning: Creator Of The Amazing Fit2Fat2Fit Transformation Talks With T…

Drew Manning: Creator Of The Amazing Fit2Fat2Fit Transformation Talks With T Source by weimielove

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The First Real Proof That Your Outlook Affects Longevity

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There’s plenty of data supporting the connection between a positive outlook and a healthier life—being optimistic can help you fend off stress, eat better and be more physically active, all of which can lower your risk of chronic illnesses.

But despite how often it’s repeated, doctors haven’t been able to definitively tell you that a positive attitude will help you live longer, mainly because most studies on the subject haven’t followed people over long enough periods of time. Studies to date tend to ask people about their outlook at one specific time—and the response can be affected by a number of transient events.

So researchers led by Andrew Steptoe at University College of London decided to look at a long-term study to track how people’s outlook over time affected their longevity. In a report published in BMJ, he studied nearly 10,000 men and women in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging between 2002 and 2013.

During that time, the middle-aged volunteers were asked three times to assess their outlook by answering four questions that evaluated how they enjoyed the things they did: being with other people, their lives overall, and how energetic they felt. Nearly seven years after their last answers, people who reported more enjoyment (or the highest satisfaction scores on all three occasions) were 24% less likely to have died than people who reported no enjoyment. Those who said they were happy on two of the occasions had a 17% lower mortality.

"The longer people are in a positive state, the better it probably is as far as their health is concerned,” says Steptoe. “This adds weight to the evidence that outlook might be relevant to health.”

Of course, there are many aspects of one’s outlook—mood, or how happy or sad a person feels is one, as is a broader sense of satisfaction. In past studies, says Steptoe, most researchers captured the mood element, but weren’t able to incorporate the larger sense of satisfaction or well-being. “An emotional state is distinct from finding life satisfying,” he says. “And it’s distinct from having a fulfilled life. The criticism of past studies is that it just looked at the pleasure aspect. So what we are trying to do is to use a measure that cuts across different distinctions.” The four-questions in the study, he says, were designed to do just that.

And how did the people who reported more satisfaction and enjoyment achieve that state of well-being? Previous studies have pointed to things such as good mental health and social connections. Steptoe says that keeping up friendships and maintaining social interactions can be an important part of a satisfying life, particularly for older people. “Once you enter middle and older ages, investment is social relationships is crucial,” he says. “It’s something that is quite easy to forget about. When things are going well, you don’t make so much of an effort to maintain friendships. But in many ways it’s an investment in the future as well as the present."

 

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

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Tonight, Fall Asleep Instantly With This Breathing Trick

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Plagued by anxiety night after night? Relying on over-the-counter meds? Just not getting the sleep your body requires? If any of this sounds all too familiar, this breathing trick will help you get to bed sooner — no prescriptions required.

The exercise is called the 4-7-8 technique, and Dr. Andrew Weil calls it a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” Study after study has linked meditation to lowered stress levels, and this easy-to-follow exercise will help you reap some of the de-stressing benefits that come along with consistent meditation practice.

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Beyond bedtime, Dr. Weil recommends performing this exercise whenever dealing with a stressful situation. The next time you can’t curb sugar cravings, get into a fight with your partner, or can’t hit the hay because you’re overwhelmed, try it out for yourself. You’ll start feeling more relaxed immediately. Here’s how to do it:

Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat three more times for a total of four cycles.

For more explanation, plus a video tutorial, check out this video:

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Treatment Options for Hypothyroidism

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There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for hypothyroidism. It may take a few trips to the doctor to get the right remedy, and over time, your prescribed medication may change. Heres a brief look at the possibilities:

Synthetic hormones.
Most people with hypothyroidism first receive a synthetic thyroid hormone known as levothyroxine; the brand names are Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid, and Levothroid. This medication often gets you back to normal within weeks. And youll take it for the rest of your life. But it doesnt work for everyone.

“About 80 percent of patients who test positive for hypothyroidism get a prescription for levothyroxine and feel better,” says endocrinologist Theodore Friedman, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and the University of California, Los Angeles. “For the other 20 percent, we need to be flexible. I get the patients who tell me conventional treatment isnt working. And I believe them.”

Combination therapy.
Your thyroid produces two hormones, but synthetic levothyroxine replaces only one, known as T4. The biochemistry can get complicated, but basically your body has to convert T4 into yet another hormone called T3 for your thyroid to work well.

Experts like Friedman and Baylor Universitys Ridha Arem, MD, a nationally known endocrinologist, believe T4 treatment alone doesnt do the job for some patients. For them, Friedman also prescribes a small amount of supplemental T3 (brand name Cytomel), so-called combination therapy.

Other animal-based hormones.
Some experts may even reject this approach in favor of animal-based hormone treatment (the most common brand is Armour). Manufactured in the United States for more than 100 years, this medication is made from the desiccated thyroid tissue of pigs.

The major thyroid organizations consider it outdated, but some specialists swear by it. “I clearly have patients who do better on Armour,” Friedman says. Even its strongest advocates arent sure why Armour would be more effective. But it contains both T3 and T4, as well as lesser-known hormones called T1 and T2 and other substances.

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The Mental Tricks Laurie Hernandez Uses to Summon Crazy Confidence

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Team USA gymnast Laurie Hernandez is blowing us away in Rio: Her talent is obviously out of this world, but what’s just as impressive is the poise and confidence the 16-year-old first-time Olympian exhibits pretty much every time she’s on camera.

Take her performances so far. At the Olympic trials back in July, Hernandez calmly stood before a huge crowd, closed her eyes, put one hand on her stomach, and breathed deeply. Then she proceeded to kill it on beam. (She took first.)

This week, as she struck her starting pose for the floor exercise, she sent the judges a smile and sneaky wink. Later, before hopping up on the beam, the camera caught her whispering to herself, “I got this.” And she was right.

But these little pre-routine behaviors aren’t just a fun part of her personality, says sports psychology consultant Robert Andrews. They’re actually valuable tools for getting in the right mindset for optimal performance—and they’re easy enough for anyone to learn, elite athlete or not.

Breathing like a champ

Andrews, who has a master’s degree in psychology and a background in fitness, runs the Institute of Sports Performance in Houston. He’s worked with hundreds of professional athletes, including Hernandez and her teammate Simone Biles; in fact, he taught Hernandez that very breathing routine she practices before competition.

“I like to say that oxygen is the cure for stress and anxiety,” says Andrews. “A lot of athletes, when they’re stressed out, start breathing a lot shallower and faster. So learning how to monitor and be aware of breathing patterns under stress is important.”

What Hernandez is doing before she competes, he explains, is called diaphragmatic or “belly” breathing. “She’s moving her diaphragm down so that her lungs can open up,” he says. “Laurie, like a lot of people, tends to hold her stress in her stomach—so she’s connecting her mind to her stomach and her breathing patterns.”

Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can release tension in the body, says Andrews, which can also relax the mind. That changes hormonal function in the brain, and lowers the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

RELATED: How 6 Olympic Athletes Deal With the Pressure

Acting confident goes a long way

Andrews also works with athletes on body language and posture, which he says can have a big psychological influence on performance. “Laurie has a very upright, straight posture when she’s getting ready for a routine,” he points out. Not only does that make an impression on the judges, he says, it can also make an impression on her own brain.

“Strong body language like that can actually increase the production of testosterone and lower the production of stress-related hormones,” he says. “It creates brain chemistry that increases assertiveness and confidence, which you need just the right amount of when you’re on the bars, the beam, the floor, wherever.”

The same goes for Laurie’s now-famous “I-got-this” pep talk. Andrews didn’t teach her those words exactly, but he says he has talked with her about the power of positive thinking.

“Where you point your mind, your body follows—so Laurie has figured out that those words are very empowering for her mind and body, and they’re going to help her bring out that fierceness that she needs,” he says. “I can’t think of a better powerful, affirmative statement of belief in herself.”

RELATED: What 5 Olympic Athletes Can Teach You About Body Confidence

You can use belly breathing too—and not just for sports

Anyone can benefit from diaphragmatic breathing before a stressful event, says Andrews—from an age-group runner competing in a race to a teenager taking an exam. The practice can help in the corporate world, too, with everything from job interviews to sales pitches to public speaking. 

“I’ve had high school and college students who report back to me that they’re making better grades on tests and giving better presentations in front of the class because they’re using these mindfulness techniques,” says Andrews. “Athletes call it their peak performance zone, but really everyone works better when they’re in a mindful, centered state.”

Ready to give it a try? Here’s what to do next time you’re in a stressful situation and feeling nervous. (If you’re not in one right now, just picture yourself there.)

Close your eyes and sit or stand up straight.
Find the spot in your body where your stress is building up. Is it in your throat? Your chest? Your stomach? Focus on that spot.
Inhale deeply, so that your stomach expands out and not up. It can help to put your hand on your stomach to feel this movement happening.
Concentrate on slowly breathing in and out, and feel your stress levels come down.

Andrews works with athletes on bringing those emotions down to the appropriate level. If 1 means no stress at all and 10 means all-out freak out, some people might perform best at a 5, others at a 3, he says. The key is to learn what works best for you.

And while Andrews says that the mental aspect of competition is especially important in Olympic sports—where a hundredth of a point or a literal split second can determine the winners—he agrees that it’s also a big part of successful performances of any type, at any level.

So next time you’re feeling unsure of yourself, try giving yourself a little mental boost a la Laurie Hernandez. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and maybe even give a little wink. Because guess what? You’ve got this.

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In a Scientific First, Blind Mice Regain Eyesight

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Once the optic nerve that’s responsible for sight is damaged, it’s impossible to see again. At least that’s been the dogma. But a group of U.S. scientists has upended that thinking and helped mice with destroyed optic nerves to see again. It does not have immediate implications for humans yet, but it points researchers in promising new directions.

Andrew Huberman, an associate professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, and his team describe their advance in a study published in Nature Neuroscience. To learn about the way vision nerves grow, they crushed the optic nerve in one eye of mice. Once destroyed, the long finger-like extensions sent out by nerve cells from the eye to the brain start to shrivel, eventually severing any connection to the brain and resulting in blindness. Huberman and his colleagues, however, found that a combination of visual stimulation of the nerve, along with nerve-growing chemicals, can rescue these extensions, called axons, and coax them to stretch out again. Not only that, but the axons are able to find their appropriate connections to the correct sight-dedicated parts of the brain to restore vision. Mice with similar damage to the nerve that didn’t receive the treatment did not show much regrowth of the axons.

About three weeks after the optic nerves in the mice were damaged, the researchers saw evidence of axons extending back into the brain from the eye, something that previous efforts to regenerate eye nerves haven’t done with much reliability. The combination of keeping the damaged but remaining axons stimulated, by exposing the mice to bars on a screen that are moving in different directions, and the nerve growth factors lead to a 500-fold increase in axon regrowth. Granted, not all of the axons managed to sprout again, but those that did were able to do so with impressive speed and distance to reach the brain.

When the researchers conducted four different tests to verify how much of the regrowth contributed to actual restoration of vision in the animals, the animals passed two of the tests that detected large objects and movement.

“For the longest time people in the field wondered if neurons could regenerate and form the correct patterns to connect to the brain, and we found that they did,” says Huberman.

The most compelling finding is that the study suggest that once nerves are coaxed to grow again, they retain the instructions to find their proper connections in the brain’s visual center. If nerves growing toward the brain are like visitors to New York’s Grand Central Station, these nerves are like well-equipped travelers with maps and specific instructions for finding their destination. “It means that neurons remember the way home; they never forget,” says Huberman.

That’s encouraging him and his team to start considering how to translate the results to treat blindness in people. Keeping the axons stimulated by exposing them to stimuli is an easy first step; if these axons are kept alive, then they have a chance of regrowing again, as the mouse study showed. And now that it’s possible to push those axons to grow long enough to reach the brain, there is hope that some people with diseases like glaucoma, for example, might be able to retain their vision if they keep their compromised axons stimulated enough, and then eventually treat them with nerve growth factors.

That may be a few years away yet for people, but, Huberman is hopeful. “I want to see something positive in humans within five years,” he says.

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

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The Best Stress Buster You're Currently Not Using

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If you've ever spent some time doodling with crayons or sculpting a lump of Play-Doh and emerged feeling refreshed and relaxed, science may have an explanation. Researchers found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which normally spikes during the fight-or-flight response) went down in a group of 39 volunteers who drew with markers, made collages, or played with clay for 45 minutes.

Although this study, published in Art Therapy, was done in healthy adults, it confirms what Lindsay Aaron sees all the time in cancer patients: "This is a very science-focused study but it's something you see on the outside of the individual, in body language, the emotional state, behavior," says Aaron, a healing arts therapist at Montefiore Health System in New York City. "We're being able to understand what goes on in the neurology."  

Much of the research thus far has been done in people suffering from different health conditions, and usually with much more defined tasks, such as painting a single tile. This study is the first to look at more freewheeling creative expression in healthy people.

RELATED: Pamper Yourself! 8 Natural Stress Relievers

Researchers took saliva samples from 33 women and six men aged 18 to 59 before and after 45-minute sessions with an art therapist, who was present to provide any assistance needed.​ Levels of cortisol in the saliva tend to mirror those in the blood, so are a good measure of how stressed you are.  

The participants were given no specific instructions other than to make anything they wanted with paper, markers, modeling clay, and collage materials. Some made collages out of magazine pages, some made small clay sculptures, and some combined clay, scribbles, and words cut out of newspapers. About half of the participants had little experience making art.

Cortisol levels went down in 75% of participants over the course of a session. Surprisingly, the remaining 25% had higher levels of cortisol than when they started, something the researchers are still trying to understand. It could be that the art led to new learning or self awareness, which raised stress levels. When asked to write about the experience, participants who said they had learned about themselves during the exercise were slightly more likely to have elevated cortisol levels. 

The study included no control group, which means the researchers don't know if the changes in cortisol levels were due to making art or to some other factor, like hanging out with other people, says study lead author Girija Kaimal, assistant professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions in Philadelphia. 

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

It's possible that cortisol levels would decrease after an hour of watching TV as well, points out James W. Pennebaker, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Pennebaker has done numerous studies linking expressive writing with better heath and lower stress levels.

That said, "The findings are certainly consistent with the idea that self-expression can reduce stress and improve health," Pennebaker added.

Art serves two purposes at least, according to Kaimal. "It helps us express things that we don't often have words for but are deeply felt and experienced," she says. "Second, it helps us communicate to others this inner state, and when you communicate, you can build relationships. You are really communicating 'This is who I am and where I am.'"

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New York Legislature Passes Bill to Eliminate the ‘Tampon Tax’

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Early this year, the “tampon tax” made headlines when California legislator Cristina Garcia introduced an Assembly Bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. According to a press release from her office, California women coughed up $20 million annually in taxes for these products, despite them being, in Garcia’s words, a "basic necessity." Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo stated that New York State will no longer tax feminine hygiene products, a move that will take effect in the next sales-tax quarter.

Supporters of the bill maintain that tampons and other feminine hygiene products are necessities, and should be treated as other tax-free healthcare items.

Politico reports that the unanimous Senate vote only took “about one minute” on Monday before the bill headed to Governor Cuomo’s office. New York will join a handful of states that lifted the "luxury tax" on these items—a tax many (including President Barack Obama) have called sexist and unjust. Ten other states, including California, are considering similar legislation.

“Repealing this regressive and unfair tax on women is a matter of social and economic justice,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “I look forward to signing it into law."

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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