What About Tanning Beds?

1 04 2010

Tanning beds, especially at this time of year begin to become extra popular.  We have to get a tan before we go off to Florida for Spring break, or to look good in that new swimming suit we got just for hot tubing.  I’m getting married in less than a month, my olive skin has not seen enough direct sunlight for about five months, I’m pretty pastel-looking.  For the first time in my life I’ve actually considered going to a tanning bed!

Some people say that tanning beds are actually safer than tanning outside.  However, that is not necessarily true.  UVA is a carcinogen, and studies have shown that tanning salons often exceed “safe” UV limits.  Just like tanning outside and getting sunburns, indoor tanning attacks the skin’s DNA producing genetic defects that can cause skin cancer. Studies continue to show that sun bed tanning increases the risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.  Also, repeated unprotected sun exposure can cause sagging skin, wrinkles and sun damage spots.

Honestly, aside from the risk factors, it just doesn’t seem morally right to me.  If I went to a tanning salon to get tan, I’d feel like I was cheating!  A nice suntan to me, represents being active and outside a lot.  I think I’ll pass and just wait for the summer months to roll around to get my tan!


Pillar of Health #3

1 04 2010

Pillar #3: Exercise

Ok, this is the last pillar of health that lays our foundation for wellness.  There are countless e-magazines, magazines, community programs, local gyms, school advocacy programs, etc that emphasize fitness and exercise.  In this post, I want to focus on something Dan Daley (a clinical Psychologist and Positive Psychology professor mentioned in an earlier post) refers to as Lifestyle Exercise.  Lifestyle exercise is exercise that is incorporated into our everyday schedule and activities such as:

  • Ride your bike to school or work
  • Walk to a nearby cafe, restaurant or park for your lunch break
  • Park in the furthest corner of the parking lot (Anti-intuitive… I know, but I have incorporated this method into my parking habits to get just a little more walking time.)
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Run up the stairs, and if you have a bit of extra time, turn around and do a few sets.
  • Walk briskly to get your heart rate up.  Don’t worry, you’ll just look like you’re walking with a purpose (or that you’re running a little late).

Exercise is clinically proven to be a relieve stress and improve mood.  This is biologically explained by chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine that increase with exercise.  It also burns off excess adrenaline that builds up during the day.

Left Brain: Logical thinking VS Right Brain: Creative thinking

Rhythmic Activities of Exercise such as running, aerobics, walking and biking actually causes a hemispheric shift in the brain from left to right.   The right brain is responsible for the more creative thinking whereas the left is more of the logical thinking side.  This phenomena explains why a lot of times people are able to problem solve or/and think of creative ideas while they are exercising.  I can testify to this time and time again.  I go running regularly and often have had wonderful meditative experiences where I’ve felt a cleansing of my brain and an endowment of solutions and creative ideas.

Pillar of Health #2

1 04 2010

Pillar #2: Sleep

Please note that these three pillars are not ordered by importance, all are equally important and form a foundation of physical and psychological wellness.

As discussed in an earlier post, sleep is sometimes difficult to regulate and get enough of as young adults.  So many factors demand our time and attention including school, work, social life, religious activities, volunteer and internship work, as well as family responsibilities (the list could go on).

Mark Stibich, PH.D discusses why sufficient sleep is absolutely essential in an About.com online article.  He talks about a sleep study done on rats that were deprived of sleep.  Where normal rats live two to three years, rats that are totally sleep deprived only live about five weeks.  In addition, they develop sores, their immunity lowers and their body temperature drops.  It has been seen in humans that when deprived of sleep for long periods of time, we hallucinate and develop other mental problems.  I know I definitely don’t think straight when I miss a night’s sleep or two.

Beauty Sleep is Not a Myth

Stibich also discussed Beauty Sleep and growth.  Important hormone production is regulated during sleep.  For children, human growth hormone  is released during deep sleep therefore insufficient sleep can affect hormonal balance.  Important hormone production is also regulated in adults during sleep, therefore insufficient sleep is also harmful to adults.  In addition, tissue repair also occurs during sleep.  This includes repair to daily skin damage done by UV light. “Getting enough deep sleep will help your skin repair itself” says Stibich.

I know personally for me that if I get a good night’s sleep, not only does my body feel better, my mind feel fresher and more able to concentrate, but I also tend to be in a better mood.  I find it easier to tackle difficult and stressful situations that may come up throughout the day in any given environment.  The same is true for me when I exercise regularly, which is the third pillar of health discussed in the following post.

Pillar of Health #1

1 04 2010

This post will be one of a series of three posts on what Positive Psychologist and Clinical Psychiatrist, Dan Daley emphasizes are the three pillars to improving and optimizing health.

Pillar #1: Nutrition

I can testify to the difference that nutrition plays in my own daily health.  Not only do I physically feel better when I eat nutritiously, but I am able to perform better in school and in other activities!
Three regular meals a day (or six small meals throughout the day if you’re trying to boost your metabolism or have a high active lifestyle) is essential.  Health professionals say time after time that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure you don’t skip it!  Check out the delicious quick & tasty breakfast ideas under the recipe tab.

Mind Body & Spirit Fitness Magazine claims that the following are the 10 healthiest foods on the planet that fight disease and boost your energy:

  1. Lemons: Just one contains more than 100% of your daily intake of vitamin C which may help increase “good” HDL cholestrol levels and strengthen bones.  They may also inhibit growth of caner cells and act as an anti-inflammatory.
  2. Brocoli: One stalk contains more than 100% of your daily vitamin K requirement and almost 200% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C (two essential bone-building nutrients). One stalk also helps fight off numerous cancers.  Tip: If you microwave brocoli rather than steaming or bowling it, you preserve up to 90% of it’s vitamin C and other nutrients!
  3. Dark Chocolate: Yes!…this is exciting!… Just one-fourth of an ounce daily can reduce blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals.
  4. Potatoes: One red potato contains 66 micrograms of cell-building folate — about the same amount found in one cup of spinach or broccoli.  One sweet potato has almost eight times the amount of cancer-fighting and immune-boosting vitamin A you need daily.
  5. Salmon: It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of depression, heart disease, and cancer.A 3-ounce serving contains almost 50 percent of your daily dose of niacin, which may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
  6. Walnuts: They contain the most omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce cholesterol, of all nuts.  Omega-3s have been shown to improve mood and fight cancer; they may protect against sun damage, too (but don’t skip the SPF!).  Tip: Eat a few for dessert! Believe it or not, the antioxidant melatonin, found in walnuts, helps to regulate sleep.
  7. Avocados: These tasty fruits are rich in healthy, satisfying fats proven in one study to lower cholesterol by about 22%!  ne has more than half the fiber and 40% of the folate you need daily which may reduce your risk of heart disease.  Tip: When you add it to your salad, you can increase the absorption of key nutrients like beta-carotene by three to five times compared with salads without this superfood.

  8. Garlic: Garlic is a powerful disease fighter that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli.  Allicin, a compound found in garlic, works as a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.
  9. Spinach: Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two immune-boosting antioxidants important for eye health.  Recent research found that among cancer-fighting fruits and veggies, spinach is one of the most effective.
  10. Beans: Eating a serving of legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) four times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by 22 percent.  That same habit may also reduce your risk of breast cancer.

The Lonely Killer

11 03 2010

Suicide is the second leading cause of deaht for 25-34 year olds

Mental illness including depression are some of the biggest and most common health problems among young adults.  Just last Friday, a suspected suicide occurred at the Osmond home in Las Vegas.  Investigation is being done to determine if drugs or alcohol were involved in the death of Michael Blosil, Marie Osmond’s son, when he fell from a balcony.

The CDC in 2005 reported that in the United States of America, an equivalent of 89 suicides per day or one suicide every 16 minutes occurs.  It was also reported that it is the second leading cause of death among 25-34 year olds and the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds.

Have you lost someone to suicide?  Do you know someone who has attempted suicide?  Have you contemplated it yourself?

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling alone without anyone to talk to, please call, e-mail or visit the United States National Suicide & Crisis Hotline.

Or call:

1-800-SUICIDE,    or   1-800-273-TALK
1-800-784-2433            1-800-273-8255

Unfortunately I have known a few people who have committed suicide and a few who have attempted suicide.  I found great guidance, hope and comfort from reading spiritually based talks and articles given/written by leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I hope these can bring you hope, a sense of peace, some guidance and comfort as well.

Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Q&A: Questions and Answers
Sometimes I feel so hopeless I want to end my life.  What stops me is the fear of hurting my family and being punished in the next life.  Shouldn’t there be a better reason to live?

Do Not Despair
By, President Ezra Taft Benson

Young Invincibles

3 03 2010

Young Invincibles

“Young Invincibles”, is what the insurance industry calls the demographic of young adults between the ages 18-29.

Have you recently been booted off of your parent’s insurance?  Are you struggling to pay that extra health insurance bill you haven’t been accustomed to paying in the past?  Do you have health insurance coverage?  Are you looking for a company who will cover you without draining your bank account within the first two months of signing up?  One third of people between 20 and 24 are uninsured for these and other various reasons.  The end of the article, CDC: Young Invincibles Have Serious Health Concerns gives a few suggestions on what to do about health insurance.  It also mentions Tonik, a health insurance that uses”youthful language” and is aesthetically designed to to help young adults relate to and understand it better.

Death risks for young adults rise after their teenage years

Dr. S. Todd Callahan, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, sees teenage patients with chronic health conditions loose coverage from their family’s insurance when they reach a certain age.  Concerning young adults without insurance Callahan said, “Attention is focused on teenage years, but the young adult years are often neglected…  When a youth reaches their 20s, they’re in a vulnerable time. The social supports for adolescents fall by the wayside [and] become discontinuous.”
Callahan also discusses how there’s a perception that once an adolecent survives the teenage years, it’s “smooth sailing” from then on out.  However, statistics and hard research evidence proves otherwise.

  • Deaths caused by suicide, homicide and accidents increase in the 20’s decade demographic.
  • 45% of women between 20 and 24 in the USA are infected with HPV which can cause cervical cancer.
  • About one-third of 21- to 25-year-olds and a quarter of 26- to 29-year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past year.
  • 1/4 of young adults in the USA are obese
  • 2/3 of young adults in the USA report not having leisure time for physical activity

So if you don’t have health insurance, I think it’s a good idea to look into getting it!  It’s smart.  Just because we’re at the peak of our lives, living here in our 20’s, doesn’t mean that we’re invincible.  Even that mentality of being at the peak of our health can be dangerous if it leads us to neglecting our health and taking it for advantage.  You never know when something might happen whether it’s an illness (chronic, hereditary, viral, bacterial) that creeps up on you, an accident, an injury, or anything else.

What do you all think of health insurance?  Is it overrated?  Should the government enforce people having insurance as much as it’s proposing to do?

Main Resource:
Park, Madison. CDC: ‘Young Invincibles’ have significant health concerns. CNN. Febuary 18, 2009. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/17/cdc.young.people/index.html

Not Getting Enough Sleep?

21 02 2010

Not getting enough sleep?

Studies have recently shown that 8 hours is the sweet amount of sleep that the average human being needs every night.

Whether you’re in college, working, taking a break from the regular dailiy grind, traveling, living at home, abroad or whatever, those of us in the 20 decade often find ourselves quite sleep deprived.

For instance, I am currently passing through one of the busiest times of my life.  I’m going to school, working part time, involved with various church, family and school activities and just recently got engaged.  Juggling all of these responsabilities as well as planning a wedding has proven to be quite challenging and has eaten away at my much needed hours of sleep.  Even when I do finally get to bed at night, I often have a hard time relaxing enough to fall into a restful, peaceful sleep.

Everyone’s threshold of stress and business is different but regardless of each of our individual circumstances, all us us, especially during this time of our lives, need adequate sleep for our health & well-being.

So here are some suggestions that Melaina Juntti from the Febuary 2010 Sunfower Farmer’s Market health magazine gives:

  • During the day, try to be physically active and absorb as much sunlight as possible.  Take a few minutes in the morning or during your lunch break to take a brisk walk outside.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals two hours before bed.  The body works to digest your food, it makes it difficult for it to relax and fall asleep if it’s trying to reak down heavy/spicy foods.
  • Caffeine affects envery-related hormones for up to 12 hours.  Limit your caffeine intake and try not to drink/eat any after 3PM.
  • 30 minutes before going to sleep, try sipping a warm cup of chamomile tea or warm milk (dairy or nondairy).
  • A warm bath with a few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oils can help your wind down and calm a restless mind.  Take deep breaths as you recline into the water.
  • Before you go to sleep, write down last-minute concerns or uncomplete tasts so you don’t rethink them over and over.  Also, stay clear of non-sleep-related activities (like reading and watching TV) in bed.
  • If within 20 minutes you haven’t fallen asleep, don’t get frustrated, get up our of bed and do a nonstimulating activity in low light like listen to calm music through headphones or looking at pictures in an art book.  Once you feel drowsy, return to bed and try again.

I’ve found that warm baths or showers really help my mind and muscles to relax enough to fall into a peaceful sleep sooner.  I’ve also found that sipping warm chamomile tea before bedtime relaxes and calms me.  I’ve also had a lot of success in writing in my journal before I go to sleep.  It allows me to get pressing thoughts out of my mind and onto paper.  I sometimes write a list of the things I need or want to do the next day so that they’re not jumbled in my mind but organized and planned for on paper.

Let me know if any of these things work for you or if you have other suggestions of methods you know may help those of us who struggle to get a good night’s sleep. 🙂

Happy sleeping tonight!