Christopher Guest’s sendup of the folk-music scene in “A Mighty Wind" is so funny you’re left gasping for air. And although laughter often is great medicine, you don’t want to come up short of breath too often. Breathing fully and deeply helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure, promotes endurance and better calorie burn, reduces stress, eases pain and strengthens the immune system. Whew!
So here are three great ways to maximize your supply of oxygen and get all the health benefits.
• Morning breathe-and-stretch. Stand tall, arms straight over your head. Inhale deeply and, as you bend forward, exhale (slowly); bring your fingertips toward your toes. (You don’t have to touch them!) Then, inhaling, slowly stretch back up to your original position. Repeat three times.
• Midafternoon re-energizing breath. Sitting, rapidly inhale through your nose and exhale through puckered lips – about three times a second – until you are out of steam. Your diaphragm should go up and down. It’s tough, but try to do it for a full minute.
• Sweet-dreams breathing. Stretch out and put your right hand on your upper chest and your left hand over your bellybutton. Inhale and let the air fill your belly and push it out so it’s big and full. Then slowly and evenly exhale and let your belly button sink way down to your spine. Don’t force it; just relax. Easy in and full-bellied; easy out and flat-bellied. Repeat 10 times. Z-Z-Z!
Grinding teeth and TMD relief
Pigs grind their teeth when they’re bored; cats do it when they’re dehydrated; and Stannis Baratheon in “Game of Thrones" gnashes his so loudly it can be heard half a castle away. Grinding teeth and often-associated jaw problems (TMD – temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMJ) can make your face and jaw ache and even break teeth. But though the causes of bruxism (that’s doc talk for grinding your teeth) and TMD are not known, a new study may help the estimated 10 million to 35 million North Americans (mostly women between 18 and 45) who deal with these syndromes. Turns out that people with TMD have heightened pain sensitivity, and may have genetic predispositions that increase their stress response and inflammatory reactions. That may be why TMD is associated with fibromyalgia, headaches and chronic back pain.
The good news is that the best remedies usually are the simplest. (Try to avoid surgery, implants and bite or jaw realignments; those procedures often cause more problems than they solve.)
• Use a dental night guard to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
• Use hot and cold compresses to ease pain.
• NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, reduce inflammation.
• Learn to manage stress. Try progressive relaxation: Start at your feet and move up your body, tensing each muscle group for seven to 10 seconds; then releasing it quickly, resting for 15 seconds; then progress to the next muscle group and repeat. Breathe evenly and deeply. If it hurts to tense any area, skip it.
Ahh! Now you’re smiling!
Hot (news) flash
“The Hot Flashes," an upcoming movie starring Daryl Hannah (51), Brooke Shields (47) and Wanda Sykes (48) as members of a middle-age basketball team, may seem pretty cool. But when it comes to the estrogen rollercoaster that hits most women in their 40s and ends with menopause around age 51, hot flashes are sweaty, sleep-disturbing interruptions to everyday life and romance.
Now a new study shows a drug-free way to chill out. (If you’re not in a high-risk group, 10 years or fewer of hormone therapy is effective and reduces mortality and disability substantially when combined with two baby aspirins taken with a warm glass of water before and after. We believe you should never consider estrogen therapy without aspirin.) The study recommendations: Adopt an ultra-low saturated- and trans-fat diet loaded with veggies, fruits and whole grains – and if you’re overweight, lose at least 10 percent of your weight.
So today’s cool-the-hot-flash news flash? Dr. Oz’s weight-loss trio of tips:
1. Raspberry ketone, the chemical that makes raspberries smell so good, may help. Use a supplement to get 100 milligrams a day.
2. Jump-start weight loss with Dr. Oz’s 90/10 rule. For seven days, make 90 percent of what you eat veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts, beans and whole grains. The other 10 percent? Healthy oils, skinless poultry and fish, and no-fat dairy.
3. Boost your metabolism by eating every three hours – three meals plus two healthy snacks a day. Eat within an hour of waking up and not after 8 p.m.
Keeping the pool clean and safe for everyone
When it comes to sanitation, most of us can’t count on a Bill Murray-type maintenance fella who’s eager to chow down a Baby Ruth bar that has found its way into the swimming pool, a la “Caddyshack." But even if we could, there might be a few things at the bottom of the pool even he wouldn’t be willing to scoop up.
So here are a few tips on how to be a good pool neighbor and how to protect yourself and your kids from those who aren’t so considerate. Remember, children can still get sick from swimming in a pool that’s been well-chlorinated.
• Everybody rinse off before jumping in. A quick shower before swimming means less work for the disinfectants.
• If you or your child has diarrhea, that could make others sick. Don’t go in the water, and no changing diapers by the pool. And wash off those baby butts with hand sanitizer before putting them in the pool, even if they aren’t sick.
• Make sure bigger kids take bathroom breaks if they’re drinking lots of fluids – which they should be – on hot summer days. Every 30 minutes, drink and go.
• Lastly, don’t swallow the water. You never really know what’s in the pool, but your immune system stands a much better chance of defending its castle if the bad guys are kept outside.
Pros of protein: Don’t be conned
More than 700,000 times a month, someone Googles the phrases “high protein" or “high protein diet." It’s become accepted that slashing carbs and eating a lot of protein (from meat with fat included) is a smart way to lose weight and get healthy. That makes it difficult to discover the truth about the role of protein in a healthy diet.
The basic facts are pretty straightforward.
• Protein is essential for your body to build hormones, enzymes, antibodies – and every cell.
• Protein is a great “I’m full and I’m not getting hungry anytime soon" nutrient. New research shows that when you eat protein-rich foods, you set off a chemical reaction that doubles back through the gut and nervous system to tell the brain you’re food-satisfied long after you eat.
• After age 40, your body has to work harder to maintain muscle mass, so it’s important to make sure you get enough muscle-building protein in a steady supply throughout the day. Our recommendation: Aim for a minimum of 46 to 56 grams of protein per day. Work out three days a week and weigh around 150? Go for 75 grams. Hint: Three ounces of skinless white-meat poultry or fish has 18 to 25 grams; a quarter cup of nuts has 5 to 10 grams.
• And most important: Protein doesn’t mean saturated fat. Opt for fish and lean poultry if you aren’t vegetarian. Rely on lean, protein-packing beans, hummus, low-fat dairy, 100 percent whole grains, soy foods and egg whites.