The Power of Antioxidants for Staying Young

large__2561173438strawberriesEveryone wants to grow old gracefully. Some go under the knife to get that youthful look while others opt for a more natural way to maintain that healthful glow. The way to make peace with age can be found in the types of foods that we eat and the miracle ingredient they contain.

This hidden “miracle” is called antioxidants. They have graced the pages of magazines, medical journals and every product from hand cream to supplement pills. But what are antioxidants and what can they do to keep you looking your best?

Antioxidants are substances that fight the aging process that goes on in your body. They are not produced by the body so to get the benefit of these power-packed substances you must ingest them. A variety of foods contain antioxidants.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The body continually replenishes its cells. Through a process called cellular metabolism, the body produces energy, more cells and repairs any damage. One by-product of cellular metabolism is unstable molecules called free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules that damage your body. They are unstable because they are missing an electron. To get another one and become stable, free radicals will steal electrons from cells. That theft damages the cells in a variety of ways.

The results are visible and invisible changes to our bodies. The development of diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and neurological deficiencies may begin to affect you as you age. Also, thinner skin wrinkles and brittle bones are a problem. Free radicals enter our body from outside sources as well: cigarette smoke, radiation and the sun’s UV rays. The more free radicals we encounter, the greater the damage that can be done.

Antioxidants have been shown to be of great help in the free radical problem. Antioxidant substances combine with free radicals and neutralize them. Once they are neutralized, they can no longer do any damage. Scientists don’t have any idea of a recommended daily dose of antioxidants to correct free radical damage and the diseases that come with age, but they do know that eating foods rich in antioxidants makes a huge difference in how we live.

Where do you find antioxidants? They are all around us. Look no further than your local farmer’s market or produce aisle in the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables contain the principle sources of antioxidants.

Examples of antioxidants include:
* Vitamin C
* Vitamin A
* Vitamin E
* Lutein
* Lycopene
* Beta-carotene

Certain minerals like zinc and selenium also function in the body. They are not antioxidants but they boost the immune system to fight against free radical damage.

Antioxidants are also found in nuts, legumes, cold water fish, seafood and red meat. So, eating a varied diet of fruits, vegetables and the foods just named will increase the amount of antioxidants in your system and help reduce the incidence of disease. Eating fruits and vegetables in their natural form instead of juices brings the benefit of other nutrients found in the foods. Juices also contain a lot of sugar that is not needed by your body.

Food does more than stave off hunger. Natural substances found there can cause us to live longer and stay free of disease as we age.

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Five Easy Toning Exercises you can Do Anywhere

large__7046004953ipadexerciseExercise is an important part of our lives. Staying in shape is one way to increase your life expectancy. Weight bearing exercises are important also for increasing muscle mass and bone density as you age.

Most of us have learned what to do when it comes to exercising. The problem is where and when to get the job done. With a busy lifestyle, making time for exercise is a challenge.

Weight bearing exercises aren’t just for bodybuilders. As you age, especially once you hit the age of forty, you begin to lose muscle mass. For women especially, bone loss becomes a problem. When the body is in need of calcium it can rob it from your bones. Building muscle not only increases their mass but your strength.

Here are five easy toning exercises that can be done anywhere and whenever you have time. At home, at the office, or on vacation, you can do these easy yet extremely effective exercises.

1. The Bridge Butt Lift – Sounds like a plastic surgery technique but it is an easy way to tone your buttocks. Lay down with feet flat on the floor, legs shoulder width apart. Place your hands, palm side down, on either side of your body. Pushing with your feet, squeeze your gluteal muscles and lift your butt off the floor. Hold the position for a count of five to ten and release down to the floor.

2. Squats – Squats work the butt, the hamstring muscles and the quadriceps. If you aren’t sure of proper form, you can use a chair. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and feet firmly planted. Push your butt back as if you were preparing to sit in a chair. Keep your abs tight and your upper body straight. Once you reach chair level stop and hold the position for a count of two to five and release. At the lowest point, place all of your weight on your heels for balance and maximum toning.

3. Reverse Lunges – Lunges work the quadriceps muscles. They can be hard for people with knee problems. A reverse lunge still tones the right muscle groups but with less pressure on the knee. Stand with feet together and arms at your sides. Take one leg and move it backwards until you are in lunge position: front leg bent at a 90 degree angle and back leg extended until you are on the ball of your foot. From this position lower yourself down until the back knee almost touches the floor. Hold for a count of two and return to starting position.

4. Pushups – This is a classic toning exercise that works all areas of the arms plus the chest muscles. If you aren’t comfortable or strong enough to perform a pushup on your toes, lower your body to your knees. Be sure your arms are tucked into the body and your back straight as you lower and lift your body.

5. Crunches – Abdominal muscles can be worked every day to build strength and muscle tone. Lying on the floor in sit up position, lace your fingers behind your head. Squeezing your abdominal muscles, lift your upper body until your lower back is about to come off the floor. Hold for two to five counts and return to starting position.

These five exercise moves can be done whenever you have time. The best thing about exercise is that its effects are cumulative. Even five or ten minutes at a time will work to your advantage.

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When Should You Work Out?

large__5447958713tredmillAre you struggling to find the best time of the day to work out? Do you find that exercising in the morning, or at night, just doesn’t happen? Are you looking to get more out of your workouts than you’re currently enjoying? The reason you might be struggling is that you’re not working out at the right time.

Now, it’s important to point out that there is no “right” time to work out that is universal for everyone. However, due to your personality, circadian rhythms, health, and lifestyle there may be an ideal time for you to work out. Let’s explore some of the factors that go into finding your ideal workout time.

#1 When Do You Have the Most Energy?

Are you a self-proclaimed morning person or a night owl? These are huge cues about when you should try to work out. Hint: you should exercise when you have the most energy. IF you’re a morning person then your best workout time will be in the morning. What if you’re neither? What if you never have energy? Consider working out during your lunch break. Try a moderately brisk walk or take a midday yoga class. You may find that your energy spikes in the afternoon, after your workout.

#2 When Are You More Likely to Follow Through?

You may have a jam-packed morning schedule and trying to squeeze a workout in just seems impossible. If you have zero chance of following through on a workout then schedule it for a different time. It’s better to follow through and get some type of exercise in than to not exercise at all.

#3 Your Sleep Habits

If you have trouble sleeping then it’s important to not work out too close to bedtime. Exercise is good for improving sleep. However, if you get your metabolism kicked up and your pulse thrumming too close to bedtime you’re more likely to have trouble falling asleep.

#4 Your Eating Habits

Do you skip breakfast? Then don’t exercise in the morning. Your body needs fuel before you exercise. If you exercise on an empty stomach you’re not going to get a great workout and you could compromise your immune system. Do you eat a lot after you work out? If so, then consider working out right before a meal so you don’t consume more calories than you should throughout the day.

If you’re unsure what is the best time for you to work out, consider experimenting a bit. Exercise at many different times and decide which one feels best for you. Keep in mind that some exercise is better than none at all.

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