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The Health Benefits Of Turmeric: The Spice Nutritionists Swear By

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The health benefits of turmeric are numerous, and nutritionists are all about it. A bright yellow Indian spice, it’s a key ingredient in golden lattes (a trend you’re likely to see blow up in 2017), a primary component in curry, and the secret behind the golden color of mustards, cheeses, and butter—it’s even part of Kraft mac and cheese’s new all-natural food coloring.

Sarah-Jane Bedwell, R.D., L.D.N., tells SELF that it has a slightly bitter and warm flavor that tastes great in sweet and savory dishes alike. But that flavor isn’t the only reason to love this trendy spice—she says it can also do amazing things for your body. So if you don’t already have it on your spice rack, stock up on it ASAP (you should be able to find it at your local supermarket). Here’s everything you need to know about the health benefits of turmeric.

It’s been shown to work as a pain reliever.

In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, 367 primary knee osteoarthritis patients were randomly assigned to receive either 1,200 mg of ibuprofen a day or 1,600 mg (less than a teaspoon) of curcumin, the active component of turmeric, every day for four weeks. The study found that by the end of the four weeks, curcumin was just as effective as ibuprofen at relieving knee pain in patients, with fewer adverse gastrointestinal effects.

This is likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Leah Kaufman, a registered dietitian in the department of surgery, division of bariatric surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells SELF that curcumin has many anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and inflammation caused by myriad different ailments. For this reason, you might want to consider incorporating more turmeric into your diet if you have arthritis or joint pain. She says that some people will even apply it topically to things like bruises and eczema, as those same anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe and heal those conditions.

Plus, it’s great for digestion.

Some evidence has shown that when consumed daily for a month, the curcumin in turmeric can help to reduce digestive issues. Kaufman says that it can help everything from IBS to colitis, and even bloating. (You can thank those anti-inflammatory properties for that.) What’s more, these same anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and digestive properties also enable turmeric to support the liver, the body’s natural detox system, says Bedwell. Early research has shown it may help to reduce damage to the liver caused by alcohol and other environmental factors.

You’ll get more bang for your buck if you pair it with black pepper.

So now that you’ve been clued into the superpowers of turmeric, here’s your final pro tip: To get the most out of its benefits, use it in a recipe that also calls for pepper. Pepper contains a compound called piperine, which promotes the absorption of turmeric into the bloodstream, Lisa Sasson, clinical associate professor of nutrition at NYU Steinhardt, tells SELF. In fact, classically prepared golden lattes actually contain black pepper. Together the two spices create an alluring spicy flavor profile that you’re bound to become obsessed with, which is great whether you’re trying to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits or not.

Try using it in soups, stews, curries, or anything you think it might taste great in. Or keep an eye out for golden lattes at your local coffee shop. Not sure where to start? Give this earthy turmeric potato recipe from Pinch Of Yum a try. If you’re in the mood for something a bit sweeter, test this carrot-ginger turmeric smoothie recipe from Minimalist Baker.

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Sedentary Lifestyle Can Abruptly Damage Your Health

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Having a sedentary lifestyle can quickly damage your health as it can lead to serious issues like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Massive and prolonged lockdown protocols in the US have forced many to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. The need to limit COVID-19 transmission led a lot of citizens to spend more time sitting at home and forego daily commutes. According to experts, most Americans are now spending a daily average of six (6) hours sitting as compared to the daily average of four (4) hours prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most citizens, even the typically active ones, are now adhering to a more sedentary lifestyle with physical activity dropping to almost one-third of pre-pandemic times. Those who used to be sedentary became even more sedentary, as well, asserts a recent research published in the Psychiatry journal.

These alarming trends stipulate, then, that the average American has a more sedentary lifestyle at present as compared to any other period in history. “We have definitely seen instances of increased sedentary behavior, especially with more people at home during lockdowns, and more unemployment,” mentions Dr Richard Yoon, orthopedics chief at Jersey City Medical Center. “Not only the physical effects but also the mental challenges posed by the pandemic have taken their toll. And I have seen that some of my patients are less active and visiting the fridge more often because of the loss of their old routines,” Yoon adds.

An increased sedentary lifestyle leads to several health issues including heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and even death. The prevalent trends of work-from-home (WFH) arrangements and distance learning schemes further exacerbate the problem.

“It definitely takes less time for an unhealthy lifestyle to take hold than an active, healthy one. Once you get into a routine of not doing much, you can start feeling the effects right away,” Yoon points out. “Muscle breakdown can start in as little as 24 hours, and aches and pains start to creep in,” he stresses.

Furthermore, sitting all day can even lead to an increased experience of back pain which, then, encourages people to perpetuate a more sedentary lifestyle. People who do not feel well tend to decrease their physical activities and the tempting idea of staying immobile takes hold.

“Sedentary behavior and lifestyle have a very strong link to the development of back pain,” asserts Dr Medhat Mikhael, a pain management specialist at the Spine Center of the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center. “Weight gain that puts a load on the spine and weakened abdominal and back muscles together with weakened ligaments would lead to further load on the spine,” he continues. “All of these effects and changes would create a vicious circle of back pain and further physiological and mechanical deterioration of the spine.”

The vicious cycle that results from adopting a sedentary lifestyle gets further supported by the gradual appearance of different health issues as more and more Americans follow the lockdown protocols mandated to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, there is a need to exert some effort, even when remaining at home, so that this sedentary lifestyle does not take hold—and encourage the onset of several physical and mental issues.

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Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle During the Holidays

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It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This becomes particularly difficult during the Christmas holidays when food becomes overflowing and simultaneous celebrations sway you toward overindulging your palate.

Experts stress that it is important to focus on having a healthy lifestyle during the upcoming holiday season. Harvard’s Medical School fellow, Dr Beth Frates, provides us with several tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the year-end celebrations.

Dr Frates mentions the necessity of maintaining your workout routine. She points out that people tend to forget their exercise routines during stressful situations. To halt such drastic decisions, however, she recommends integrating a new activity. People get easily stimulated when they are presented with new activities. She adds that it is also helpful to request for exercise-related gifts or even opt for holiday celebrations that allow you active participation.  Playing a simple game with the family, for example, can provide you with the opportunity to physically exert yourself.

It helps to maintain your habits, as well. Dr Frates stresses the need to track your routine. A healthy lifestyle cannot be easily attainable without the conscious effort to control what you do. Hence, recording what you eat and drink during every meal is beneficial. Keeping a record of your daily exercise routine is essential, as well. She says that your logbook permits you to measure your efforts and also allows you to approximate the level of indulgence you can appropriate for yourself during the holidays.

Dr Frates also shares that it is crucial to have a proper mindset. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle cannot be done without changing your point of view. A positive outlook in life is essential. Thus, it is best to throw away all the negative thoughts and pursue only the good vibes that typically accompany the holiday celebrations. Spending time with your family and loved ones can provide you with this, as well.

Food, she says, is an integral part of the upcoming celebrations. However, we should not forget that Christmas and New Year are both centered on new beginnings, as well. Hence, focusing on beneficial modifications and resolutions should be looked into. Banishing undesirable habits, addictions, and even people can greatly help shape—and maintain—a healthy lifestyle. Infusing yourself with good thoughts and plans can further contribute, as well. Allow yourself to discover new things, as well. Find loved ones to do outdoor activities with.

Finally, Dr Frates points out that overindulging yourself during this holiday season can still be a possibility. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to your maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. Allow yourself to enjoy. The Christmas season is a time of celebration which specifically allows you to relax and be with your loved ones. It is the moment when you get to let your hair down and simply be yourself. She stresses that slipping up on your exercise routine, for instance, shouldn’t be a cause for worry. You can always start again, she adds.

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Rapid Weight Loss and Healthy Living to Prevent Diabetes

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A new international study asserts that the best way to prevent diabetes is through maintaining healthy eating, doing regular physical activity, and promoting fast weight loss. Stopping the deadly and prevalent occurrence of diabetes is a major issue all across the world. While numerous lifestyle transitions proclaim a successful prevention of type 2 diabetes, new research stresses the significance of maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.

To highlight the importance of observing World Diabetes Day, the PREVIEW (PREVention of diabetes through lifestyle Intervention and population studies in Europe and around the World) project points out its recent findings. The study did a comparison between a high-protein-and-low-sugar diet and a moderate-protein-and-moderate-sugar diet in relation to the maintenance of weight and the prevention of diabetes. Combining these two diets with either high-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise was also looked into.

Jennie Brand-Miller, Co-author and Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, explains that the study provided significant results in connection to the lifestyle modifications that can possibly help people who have the predisposition to develop type 2 diabetes. She points out that there is, indeed, a better way to prevent diabetes.

“Overwhelmingly, participants who lost eight percent or more of their body weight in eight weeks and went on to complete the trial, did not develop diabetes within three years despite regaining some weight,” Brand-Miller stresses.

To prevent diabetes, the research was conducted in a span of three years in several countries simultaneously: Australia, Denmark, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, the UK, and New Zealand. The participants went through an eight-week weight reduction stage followed by a three-year weight preservation stage.

To achieve the required eight percent weight loss, the 2,326 participants, who were aged 25-70, had to follow several meal replacements. At the end of the said study, about 97% of the participants were able to maintain satisfactory weight loss. They were also able to prevent diabetes development.

“The most important finding in PREVIEW was the low incidence of diabetes in all groups at the end of the study,” Brand-Miller points out as she reiterates the necessity of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent diabetes especially among those who are predisposed with the condition.

She highlights that there was no significant difference observed between the two diet categories or even between the two exercise intensity categories. Brand-Miller, however, notes that fewer participants who belonged in the high-protein diet category had normal sugar levels. In addition, she mentions that further research may provide better insight into the role of weight loss in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Nevertheless, the PREVIEW study provides crucial findings to help prevent diabetes occurrence as the prevalence of this disease is proving to be extensively worrisome. “We believe this approach has been more successful in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes than any previous diabetes prevention study and represents a significant clinical advance in the treatment of pre-diabetes,” she adds.

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