Simplify Your Life: Audit for Better Health and Happiness in 15 Easy Steps

staying healthyIn our pursuit of the American Dream, most Americans are willing to put up with quite a bit. Very long work hours, sacrificing vacation time, missing out on milestones in their kids’ lives … and maybe even suffering from a few stress-related illnesses.

You may very well have enough activities crammed into each day that you barely have time to think … let alone to eat healthy, exercise or (gasp) relax — and that is just from the external pressures.

On the inside all of this stress and 24/7 lifestyle can leave you with racing thoughts so severe you have trouble sleeping or, on the flipside, feeling like your brain is completely fried, numb and on the verge of a complete meltdown.

And for all of this strife, many of us are still spending our free time worrying about finances, the state of the economy, terrorist threats or coming down with a bout of flu.

This begs the question: for all that we’re sacrificing, how many of us feel truly happy? And could it be that the quest for happiness lies not in how many hours we can work in a week, but in how many we can thoroughly enjoy?

With that in mind, we urge you to audit your life and decide if you could benefit from slowing down and reducing out of control stresses, so that you, as a human being, can free up more time for relaxation and fun.

And if you decide the answer is YES … here are important tips to get you started.

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Aspirin: What are the Benefits, What are the Risks?

aspirinThe first form of aspirin — today one of the most widely used drugs around — existed all the way back in the 5th century B.C., when the father of medicine, Hippocrates, used willow bark and leaves to relieve pain and reduce fever. It wasn’t until the 1820s, however, that scientists identified the active component in willow bark: salicin.

Salicylic acid derived from willow bark worked to fight aches and pains, but there was a major drawback: it upset the stomach. So, a few decades later, French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt found that combining salicylic acid with acetyl chloride made it less irritating.

But Gerhardt, thinking the compound was too complex to make, abandoned the idea. It wasn’t until 1899, when Felix Hoffmann, a German chemist, came across Gerhardt’s recipe and found the compound really worked, that aspirin came to be.

Hoffmann worked for Bayer and convinced the company to make the drug, named Aspirin (the names comes from acetyl chloride [A] and spiraea ulmaria, the plant that salicylic acid comes from [spir] along with an [in] ending).

Bayer released Aspirin tablets in 1915 (it was previously sold as a powder), but, interestingly, had to give up the trademark after World War I as part of Germany’s war reparations. At the Treaty of Versailles, the trademark (along with the trademark for Heroin) was given to France, England, Russia and the United States.

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The Top 15 Signs of Heart Disease Everyone Needs to Know

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, which resulted in 29 percent of all U.S. deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Meanwhile, more than one-third (37 percent) of adults reportedly have two or more of the six risk factors for heart disease and stroke, which include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

In all, heart disease is thought to cost well over $403 billion for health care services, medications and lost productivity, according to the CDC.

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Some Startling Stress and Anxiety Statistics and What You Can Do to Eliminate Your High-Stress

work related stressA full 43 percent of U.S. adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) study.

Not only does stress and anxiety interfere with your immune system, making you vulnerable to illnesses like the flu, it impairs your body’s ability to respond to its anti-inflammatory signals, putting you at an increased risk of allergies, autoimmune diseases and heart disease.

In other words, chronic stress is known to actually intensify inflammation, according to the APA, which makes you more vulnerable to inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Stress can also trigger or worsen diabetes, if you already have it. When your body is stressed it releases stress hormones that automatically secrete extra sugar into your bloodstream (which is, of course, not a good thing for someone who is already struggling with diabetes).


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Want to Improve Your Immune System? Then Here’s What You Need to Know about Flavonoids

flavonoids in fruitFor the first time ever, a study has proven that eating flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that’s especially concentrated in fruits and vegetables, may boost your immune system.

How did the researchers come to this realization? By watching birds.

Researchers from the University of Freiburg and the Max Plank Institute for Ornithology in Germany offered blackcaps a choice of two foods; they were identical except one contained more flavonoids. Sure enough, the birds chose to eat the foods that contained the extra antioxidants.

Next, they looked into what impact the flavonoids had on the birds’ health. Compared with birds not fed flavonoids, those that ate modest amounts of the healthy antioxidants for four weeks had stronger immune systems.

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9 Top Holiday Food Gift Ideas Gone Wrong

holiday treatsWhile the most popular place for holiday shoppers are online discount stores, followed by department stores, about 45 percent of shoppers still plan to purchase some gifts at the grocery store, according to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

In fact, candy and food spending is expected to increase along with overall holiday-related shopping. Shoppers are anticpated to spend an average of 10% more on food related gifts over last year.

A food item can indeed make a very thoughtful, not to mention delicious, gift. But before you start pre-heating the oven or heading over to your local gourmet shop with ready-to-be-filled gift baskets in hand, make sure you are not making any of these food-related gift-giving blunders.

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Cavities: A Controversial Debate: Tooth Disease or Nutritional Problem?

Dental cavities are the most common disease in childhood and the most common chronic disease around the world. Since the 1930s and ‘40s, scientists have been exploring whether there is a genetic predisposition to cavities, or if diet and nutrition are to blame. Unfortunately, there is no absolute answer. Both genetics and nutrition play a role in a person’s predisposition to cavities; however, there is plenty you can do to limit tooth decay and cavities.

What Are Cavities?

Cavities, called dental caries by dental health professionals, are areas on the tooth where the enamel has been eaten away by acid. Cavities can occur anywhere on the surface of a tooth, but can continue to deepen beyond the surface and eat into the entire tooth structure. When they are small or surface cavities, treatment is managed with fillings. If cavities reach the root structure of the tooth, a root canal and crown will typically be required. Therefore, cavities are not just bad for your teeth; they can be expensive and cause multiple, inconvenient trips to the dentist to treat them. Further, the bacteria from your mouth can travel into your bloodstream and impact other areas of your body, an occurrence that is linked to heart disease, diabetes and more.

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