Heavy metals in chocolate

heavy metals in chocolateWhat’s in your chocolate?

I’ve been in the dark about chocolate!

I just received a newsletter from ConsumerLab, one of my favorite consumer websites, that details not only what makes dark chocolate healthy (flavanols), but what potentially makes it just a little bit toxic (the heavy metals lead and cadmium).

And apparently this isn’t new news. I’ve found stories talking about trace levels of heavy metals in chocolate going back over ten years, so I don’t know how I missed it other than I’m not much of a chocolate eater.

Still, I have friends that are chocoholics and I … Continue reading

Homemade yogurt – Easy, healthy and delicious

homemade yogurtAnd frugal, too!

I’m so lucky because my husband LOVES making homemade yogurt.

Several years ago, I bought him a yogurt maker for Christmas. He told me once that he used to make his own yogurt when he was in college, so I thought he would enjoy trying it again.

He sure did!  😀

Homemade yogurt has become a staple in our diet, and it is so superior to store-bought brands, I can’t even describe it. You need to eat some to understand.

Anyone who loves yogurt should try making it at home. It’s easy to do with either an … Continue reading

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

alzheimer's awareness monthAnd brain health awareness, too!

At this time, there is no drug or treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia. The best advice is that what is good for your heart is good for your brain, too.

Related post: Don’t buy supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s

Embracing a healthy lifestyle is our best chance to reduce the risk of developing dementia as we age.

That means moderate physical exercise every day, a calorie-appropriate diet full of a wide variety of nutrients, and lots of mental stimulation.

Related post: Do “brain games” prevent dementia?

Socializing and mental exercises help improve brain … Continue reading

10 exercises you should never do

Be careful at the gym!

I’ve been working with a personal trainer to improve my muscle strength and cardiac endurance.

At one point my trainer had me doing overhead shoulder presses. After the first few lifts, I knew this was a bad idea. I struggled to lift the bar over my head, even with minimal weight (wimpy arms!).

Since then I’ve been having shooting pains in my right arm and shoulder. Then I watched this video from one of my favorite YouTubers, The Two Most Famous Physical Therapists, who confirmed what I thought: overhead shoulder presses are bad.

5 stress relieving tips you can try at home

stress relieving tipsToday’s post is from guest contributor Helen Sanders, chief editor at HealthAmbition.com.

“Health Ambition’s goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.”

Thank you, Helen!

Each and every one of us will experience stress at some point in our lifetime.

Acute stress is normal following a hugely stressful situation, such as a trauma or natural disaster. However, stress can be more intense for some of us and can sometimes lead to a chronic condition that … Continue reading

Add high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to your exercise routine

hiitHIIT for better health— and lower doctors’ bills

A few months ago my husband and I joined a local gym. We wanted to be a little more serious with our exercise routines.

Aging can be expensive. I believe one way to save money on health care as we age is to exercise. Exercise can help prevent diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and possibly dementia.

I also want to keep my muscles and bones strong, to prevent falls and fractures.

I’m no exercise fanatic (quite the opposite, in fact), but aging healthfully is important enough to me that I worked with … Continue reading

How to prevent colon cancer

Colon cancer on the rise in young adults

I recently read a disturbing report that colon cancer is on the rise in Millenials and GenXers.

People born in 1990 now have double the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer, compared with those born around 1950 when the risk was lowest, the researchers said.

The overall risk is still very low for that age group, but the study certainly suggests that lifestyle factors—obesity, diets high in processed foods, sedentary habits—could be a factor.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month!

A healthy diet and exercise are … Continue reading

Soluble fiber and bad cholesterol

insoluble fiberCholesterol and diet

A few months ago I posted about my husband’s dilemma with his cholesterol, specifically his low-density (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol level.

His physician advised a statin, but my husband is understandably reluctant to start taking a daily pill for the next 30+ years.

Because he has no other heart disease risk factors, such as being overweight, a smoker, high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease, he and his physician made a plan to re-check his cholesterol level in 6 months.

A date which is rapidly approaching.

He’s exercising more and being more careful … Continue reading

The health effects of pot – What do we know?

The good news and the bad news

A few years ago my state, Washington, legalized marijuana. I voted in favor.

Since then I’ve wondered if that was a good idea. Tax windfall aside, what do we really know about the health effects of pot, good or bad?

Recently, one of my favorite health news sites, Healthcare Triage, posted this video: What we know about pot in 2017

Dr. Carroll presents a good summary of available research on the health effects of pot. Unfortunately, as he points out, there just isn’t enough quality research being … Continue reading

Hygge – The Danish art of happiness

Hygge, pronounced “hue-gah”

A friend sent me a link to an article about the Danish philosophy of hygge. Her stepmother is Danish, so perhaps that’s why it caught her eye.

I hadn’t heard of hygge before, although I do remember reading somewhere that the Danes are considered the happiest people on the planet (ignoring Hamlet, of course).

Apparently that’s because of hygge, from which we get the English word “hug”.

Like a hug, hygge is about being cozy, comfy and cuddled. It encompasses home decor, clothing, social interactions and self-care.

After a January filled with below-freezing temperatures, flu and a … Continue reading

SmartQuit – An app to help you quit smoking

smartquit appA smart way to quit smoking

Is quitting smoking on your New Year’s resolution list? Or that of a friend or family member?

If so, consider the SmartQuit app.

But first I’ll tell you what I do and don’t like about it.

I like that it seems to be pretty effective. The SmartQuit program and app were developed by researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington (my alma mater!), with funding from the National Cancer Institute.

It uses a particular type of behavior modification—acceptance and commitment therapy—that has proven more effective than other smoking Continue reading

Winter sunshine can improve your mood

winter sunshineGet outside!

Up here in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t take sunny days for granted, especially during our perpetually gray and wet winters.

Yesterday we were lucky enough to enjoy a beautiful, sunny day! It was really cold, at least by our standards, but a friend and I still bundled up and ventured out for a long walk along the beach.

And we weren’t alone. With the blue skies and the crowds of people, it seemed more like a summer day. Perhaps they read the same article I did a few weeks ago: Here’s a Major Health Reason to Get Continue reading

Bone broth for health

bone-brothIt’s easy; it’s cheap; it’s delicious

I awoke this morning to the amazing smell of simmering chicken bone broth.

Before I went to bed last night, I placed a whole chicken into a crock pot with some vegetables, seasonings, water and vinegar. Then I turned the pot to low and let it work its magic.

Twelve hours later I have several cups of nutritious broth to use in soups, and about 4 cups of shredded chicken meat.

I’m not just frugal about healthcare. I’m frugal about a lot of things, and I love seeing the money I spend on food … Continue reading

Everything is filthy – Wash your hands!

Germs and travel

I recently returned from a road-trip vacation with a nasty summer cold. It was my own fault—I didn’t heed my own advice to wash my hands as frequently as I should have.

Related post: Hand washing 101

Our hands are responsible for bringing a lot of germs into our bodies. We touch our nose, eyes or mouth, or our food, and voilà! the germs have found a nice, new home.

Although we usually associate colds with the winter months, germs for colds and other common viral illnesses are all over objects we touch every day, year round.… Continue reading

What is the UV Index?

uv indexClouds don’t protect you from the sun

On a cloudy summer day it’s easy to forget that the sun’s skin-damaging ultraviolet or UV rays aren’t blocked by the clouds. We still have to use sunscreen, wear hats and sunglasses, or stay out of the sun to protect ourselves.

Related post: Be informed – What is SPF?

UV rays not only cause sunburn, but also skin cancer and cataracts. And there aren’t enough beauty creams in the world to undo the premature aging effects of the sun, either.

Watch this video to see the sun’s “invisible” damage to the … Continue reading