Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rethink the Role of Sleep

Everybody knows that sleep is an important part of everyone’s day, but how important is it? Many of us skimp on sleep, maybe you should think twice before staying up late again. The consequences of losing sleep could be devastating to your health and quality of life.

A lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. People who consistently lose sleep show alterations in their metabolism which inhibit the ability to manage glucose levels by making cells increasingly insulin resistant. Sleeplessness can lead to an imbalance in the release of stress hormones, including cortisol which leads to weight gain. Sleep deprivation may also lead to a decrease of life expectancy. People who sleep less also have an impairment of judgment and reaction time.

Sleep affects our physical and mental health, and is important for the correct functioning of all the systems of our body. Sleep is needed for our nervous systems to work properly. A lack of sleep makes a person drowsy and unable to concentrate the following day. It also leads to an impaired memory and physical performance. A lack of sleep also results in the reduced ability to carry out mathematical calculations. If sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings can occur. The immune system also takes a hit with a lack of sleep. Without sleep the immune system is compromised and affects your ability to fight disease and sickness. So why is sleep important?

Sleep is an essential dynamic process in which our brains are active during sleep. While sleeping, we repair our bodies from the day. We also organize our thought and events of the day. Sleep helps to reduce the levels of stress and inflammation in your body to decrease the risk of heart disease and strokes. Sleep can also help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. High blood pressure can cause wear and tear on your body and degenerate cells, which accelerate the aging process. Sleep helps to slow these effects and induces relaxation. Sleep helps regulate the hormones that control appetite. It is important to create a sleep promoting environment and get the recommended amount of sleep.

So how much sleep do you need? Adults need 7-9 hours which varies for each person. If you have problems falling asleep, develop a sleep routine. Turn off all electronics close to bed time. Also, you can try making some tea, resting on a comfortable mattress or reading a book.

Ten Fruits You Should Be Eating

Fruits are an important food group in everybody's diet. Fruit packs many health benefits. It is recommended that you have a variety of fruits in your diet, but the following list is what I consider to be 10 very important fruits.

Apples - An apple a day really does keep the doctor away! Apples are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that defend against sickness by fighting off free radicals. The skin of the apple contains pection that has 5g of fiber. Both soluble that helps lower cholesterol and insoluble that keeps you regular. Also, they contain powerful flaonoids that reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Apricots - They are a great source of vitamins A, C and E, potassium, iron and carotenoids. They also contain lycopenece that helps protect your eyes, prevent heart disease and ward off certain cancers. Apricots are also full of fiber.

Bananas - Contain about 400 mg of potassium, which helps lower your risk of high blood pressure and stroke and also plays an important role in muscle function. Bananas are a great natural energy source and are also high in fiber.

Blueberries - Rich in antioxidants that help prevernt macular degeneration and help fight against cancer. They can prevent against brain damage that leads to Alzheimer's disease. Also, they can help protect against urinary tract infections because they make it hard for the bacteria to stick to the urinary tract walls.

Cantaloupe - Can help reduce inflammation, boost immunity and help protect your skin from sunburn. They can also prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. Cantaloupes are packed with vitamin C, potassium and carotenoid antioxidants.

Cherries - Are rich in iron and disease fighting flavonoids. They also contain potassium, magnesium, vitamins C and E, folate and carotenoids which protect the heart. Cherries can greatly decrease inflammation, arthritic pain, cancer risk and poor cholesterol.

Grapes - Dark colored grapes contain flavonoids, anthocyanins and resveratrol, which have been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease. They are also full of iron, potassium, fiber and plenty of powerful disease fighting antioxidants.

Kiwis - Full of vitamin C and are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and E. Kiwis can boost the immune system and prevent respiratory diseases.

Oranges - Oranges are loaded with vitamin C. One orange gives you almost your full day's dose of vitamin C. They also contain hesperidin, a phytochemical which can lower triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.

Pineapples - Contain a natural enzyme called bromelain, which beak down protein and helps aid in digestion. Bromelain may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit the growth of cancer cells and speed up the healing of a wound.