CanDrugstore 's February 2012 Better Health News                            (Click here if you cannot read this page)
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Spring is upon us, and you know what that means: Summer is on its way. Want to know how to lose those extra pounds for the beach? We have some easy suggestions, as well as a way to keep your heart healthy through the aid of an unlikely source, nuts.

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The Weight is Over for Effective Weight Loss

Woman depressed standing at wall

Are you someone who has tried everything to lose weight? Diets, exercise, positive thinking—if you find yourself sitting up late at night trying to find some better way to drop that gut and fit into that summer swimsuit then take notice: it could be those late nights themselves that are the real issue with your lack of weight loss.

Getting sleep is important. We all know it, but sometimes we must be reminded. New research is showing that sleep is more of a factor when it comes to losing weight than was once thought. In fact, did you know that gaining an extra hour of sleep per year can contribute to 14 pounds of weight loss?

So is sleep the new Atkins diet? Let’s find out the nature of this approach.

A proper night’s rest is important because it resets the levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol can be likened to the "opposite of testosterone," as when it’s present, it signals for the production of testosterone to decrease. When we’re stressed, cortisol goes up and testosterone goes down. When we’re always stressed, and not getting enough sleep, testosterone is never present in the body in significant amounts, and this contributes to weight gain, especially around the mid-section, and especially for women (as their levels of testosterone are naturally lower to begin with).

At this point the operative question is, "Ok, so how do I get more sleep?"

Besides the usual sleep aids like melatonin and 5-htp (the natural precursor to serotonin, which contributes to sleep cycles) a few lesser known, but great sleep aids are magnesium and calcium. Unlike the previously mentioned aids, these are naturally occurring elements which one can gain simply from eating the right foods. If you want a more direct approach, however, start off with 600mg of magnesium and 400mg of calcium supplements daily. Within a short period of time you should be flying around your inner dreamscapes, content with the subconscious knowledge that even within, you’re burning that fat off on your outer physical body.

In addition to ingestible sleep aids there is always the sleep aid fallback of the ages: tea. Since second century AD, tea has been used to calm anxiety and alleviate stress. Try making a combo tea with valerian root and passionflower, both of which are available at most health food stores.

A somewhat overlooked condition when it comes to sleep loss is known as "silent reflux," a condition that is akin to acid reflux, but in the sense that occurs unknowingly in the stages of sleep which causes a person to wake up in the middle of the night. If you believe you may suffer from this, try taking an antacid 30 minutes before bedtime. If you see no improvement in sleep then stop taking the antacid.

Finally, something that once maybe would have gone without saying, but in the fast-paced, wake-or-break your career mentality world, establishing a proper bedtime is actually of significant importance. Ideally the human body should get around 5 full sleep cycles—to attain period of REM sleep, the kind that you need—and to do that around 7.5 hours of sleep are required. So simply take the time that you usually wake up, and then scroll back 7.5 hours and set your bedtime. Remember, this is not a curfew, and you do not need to adhere to the bedtime every day. The underlying point here is that the more sleep you get, the better your chances for weight loss are going to be.

So what are you ‘weighting’ for? Close those eyes!

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Get Nuts When it Comes to Heart Health


The walnut gets around.

The word "walnut" itself is derived from the word "foreign," which points to its industrious history of an object of international trade. 'Walnut' can refer to any tree in the Juglans family: there are British walnuts, Persian walnuts, Singapore, Australian walnuts, and so on and so forth. It is a worldly nut, existing around the world in different varieties. Walnuts are not only close to the heart of many different cultures, new research is showing that they’re good for the heart as well.

Researchers from the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa., compared the amount of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols in nine types of roasted and raw nuts and two types of peanut butter. They also tested the effectiveness of the antioxidants in the nuts using a lab analysis with regards to heart health.

The walnut emerged as the most potent of the bunch for heart function according to the study. The findings were published in the Food and Function journal.

It doesn’t seem to matter if they’re roasted or raw; the walnut delivers the highest amount, and most potent forms of polyphenols—these compounds are believed to reduce heart disease risk by lowering levels of blood cholesterol, improving blood flow, and cooling the inflammation that has been linked to heart disease.

If you’re perhaps wondering about the high fat content present in walnuts, you may have less of a concern than you think. A study has suggested that consumption of walnuts increases fat oxidation and reduces carbohydrate oxidation without affecting total consumption, suggesting that walnut consumption may improve the use of body fat in overweight adults.

To point, on October 11, 2006, ScienceDaily published a report which stated "New research shows that consuming a handful of raw walnuts along with meals high in saturated fat appears to limit the ability of the harmful fat to damage arteries." This report attributed the result to a 2006 article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

This does not mean that one should expect to continue eating unhealthy foods without any ill-effect so long as it is supplemented with walnuts, but it does seem to suggest that the (natural) fat in walnuts is offset by certain compounds which seek to help control the levels of fat in the body.

Sprinkle some walnuts on your next cup of yogurt—in fact, remember that when it comes to polyphenols, you can get them (in lesser quantities) from other roasted and raw nuts as well. So when it comes to nuts, get nuts! Your heart will thank you.