Is It a Cold or the Flu? Here’s How to Tell

Judging by all the people sneezing and coughing on my flight last week, and the ubiquitous “Get your flu shot” signs at every pharmacy, it’s obvious we’ve begun the dreaded cold and flu season.

So how can you tell if your aches and scratchy throat are a typical cold or a more serious bout of the flu? A quick rule of thumb is that cold symptoms generally occur from the neck up, whereas flu symptoms take over your whole body.

Here are some other ways to tell, plus the very latest tips — from drinking green tea to gargling — for how to keep from getting sick.

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How to prevent getting a cold

Once the cold season starts, gargle daily and take probiotics. Gargling can lower your risk of getting sick, research shows, and probiotics may also help prevent colds and boost your immune system, a 2011 Cochrane review of research found. Preventive medicine expert Mark Moyad, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical Center and author of Dr. Moyad’s No BS Health Advice, recommends eating yogurt with active cultures or taking probiotic supplements. Supplements containing lactobacillus should have at least 5 billion colony-forming units per daily serving.

Get my flu shot now, or wait?

Get it as early as possible — it not only protects you against the flu, recent studies show it can cut your risk of heart attacks and stroke by 36 percent. “The flu vaccine has the side benefit of controlling the extreme levels of inflammation that occur with serious infections,” which is damaging to the heart, Moyad says. Plus, a flu shot  protects both children and adults against pneumonia, a new Vanderbilt University study found.

When to go to work, when to stay home

You’re contagious even before your symptoms start getting bad, say infectious disease experts, so if you wake up feeling under the weather, the virus is already multiplying. In addition, you remain contagious for five to seven days after becoming ill. So do your friends and colleagues a favor — stay home and don’t infect them. Another reason to avoid the office: Side effects from cold or flu medication can make you too groggy to work.

To prevent flu: Drink green tea, wash hands, wear a mask

Green tea has catechins, a type of antioxidant, that can help protect against the flu, recent studies suggest. Even more dramatic: A 2012 study found that wearing a surgical mask and regularly washing your hands during the flu season resulted in a whopping 75 percent reduction in flu risk. Need another reason to wash your hands? Viruses survive on surfaces between two and eight hours, so people touching those surfaces who then touch their mouth or nose can get sick as the virus enters the respiratory tract.

Think you have the flu? Pick up the phone

Prescription antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, can shorten your misery by one to two days and help prevent complications such as pneumonia, but you need to take the medication within the first two days of the start of symptoms. In other words, don’t wait to call your doctor.

Source: ~ By: Candy Sagon

The Best Foods to Fight Fatigue

Exhaustion isn’t a good look on anyone, but it’s all too easy to burn the candle at both ends in the always-connected world we live in. And when that energy slump hits, you need help. But that doesn’t mean downing a dozen cups of coffee or reaching into the candy bowl.

Sugar and caffeine will give you a quick rush, but that’s often followed by a crash. So if you’re searching for sustained energy, look for food with complex carbs, protein, and fiber. We put together this cheat sheet of things to eat and drink to beat fatigue—and a few foods that sabotage your efforts to get pumped up.

The Best Foods

1. Water

The next time you’re feeling drained, try guzzling good old H2O. Dehydration may actually be at the root of your fatigue. It can lead to headaches, ruin your concentration, and put you in a sour a mood.So hit the watercooler stat.

2. Chia Seeds

Talk about something small but mighty. Chia seeds help with hydration by absorbing 10 times their weight in water. Plus, they have the right ratio of protein, fats, and fiber to give you an energy boost without a crash.

3. Bananas

Consider this the green light to go bananas when you’re running low on fuel. In one study, researchers discovered that eating bananas worked as well as sports drinks at keeping cyclists fueled. The potassium-packed fruit also includes a bunch of good-for-you nutrients (like fiber and vitamin B6) that you won’t find in a bottle of Gatorade.

4. Quinoa

With all its protein, fiber, and iron, quinoa is the perfect thing to reach for when you’re looking to recharge. And if you need an on-the-go upper, whip up these quinoa muffin bites and grab ‘em before hitting the road.

5. Green Tea

By now, it’s no secret that green tea has a slew of health benefits. You can add putting some pep back in your step to the long list. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine give you energy without the jitters. Bonus: Research suggests that green tea boosts brainpower as well, which may come in handy when you’re down to the wire at work. Take the time to brew the tea yourself because store-bought varieties often have lots of added sugar.

6. Oatmeal

The cozy breakfast food—though, let’s be honest, you can enjoy it any time of the day—will keep energy levels up. That’s because it’s high in fiber and comes with a decent dose protein. Plus, oatmeal has a low glycemic load, a fancy scientific way of saying it stabilizes blood sugar levels. (Just make sure to steer clear of instant oatmeal packets, which can be packed with sugar and salt.) Oatmeal is also super versatile—just take a look at these 30 delicious recipes to keep food boredom at bay.

7. Almonds

Certain kinds of fat are friends, not foes, particularly when you’re talking about replenishing your energy. And almonds are packed with healthy monosaturated fats that are just what your body needs for a pick-me-up.

8. Beans

Beans keep you going thanks to a stellar trio of carbs, protein, and fiber. The protein fills you up, the carbs provide energy, and the fiber helps regulate blood sugar. Black beans in particular are your BFFs when it comes to an energy boost—try this black bean soup recipenext time your tank needs refilling.

9. Whole-Wheat Bread

Your body needs carbs for energy, but not all carbs are created equal. Whole-wheat bread is great for a long-lasting energy kick. It’s is a complex carb, meaning it raises your blood sugar graduallyinstead of hiking it up at turbo-speed.

Foods to Avoid

1. Honey

Sure, honey has some serious health benefits, but it’s not something you should be reaching for if you’re looking for sustained energy. Adding a few teaspoons to your tea or yogurt will give a quick rush of energy that spikes your blood sugar, which means a crash can follow.

2. Energy Drinks

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, don’t reach for a Red Bull. Research suggests energy drinks may do little to curb sleepiness.The combination of caffeine and sugar puts your body through the ringer and may just leave you feeling dehydrated and fatigued.

3. White Bread

While complex carbs keep your energy levels in a steady state,simple carbs, like white bread, can take your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride. Not what you want when you’re keeping a busy schedule.

4. Candy

There’s a reason you’re always hearing about sugar crashes. As anyone who’s made their way through their Halloween loot can attest, an energy low inevitably follows. While sweets may give you aquick hit of energy, it’s only a matter of time before you once again find yourself dragging. After all, candy’s made up of simple carbs and sugar (which spikes blood sugar only to let it drop way back down). How sweet it isn’t.

5. Junk food

It’s a cruel fact of life that the most accessible, easy-to-grab, and oh-so delicious foods wreck havoc on energy levels. Research has found that diets high in processed food tend to lead to weight gain and a more sedentary lifestyle. Talk about a lose-lose situation.



Jim Rohn: Begin With Gratitude and Watch the Miracles Flow Your Way

Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.

Is thankfulness a survival skill? Maybe most of you would respond with, “No, thankfulness is not key to survival,” and I would tend to agree with you. Most of us have probably already solved the necessary problems of survival, gone beyond that and are now working to achieve our desires.

But let me give you this key phrase: “Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.” I believe one of the greatest and perhaps one of the simplest lessons in life we can learn is to be thankful for what we have already received and accomplished.

Both the years and the experiences have brought me here to where I stand today, but it is the thankfulness that opened the windows of opportunities, of blessings, of unique experiences to flow my way. My gratitude starts with my parents who raised me, gave me an incredible foundation that has lasted me all of these years and continues with the mentors that I’ve met along the way who absolutely changed and revolutionized my life, my income, my bank account, my future. I am also very thankful for the people, the associations, for the ideas, for the chance to work and labor, and to produce results. I’m grateful for it all.

Always start with thanksgiving; be thankful for what you already have and see the miracles that come from this one simple act.

Now thankfulness is just the beginning. Next, you’ve got to challenge yourself to produce. Produce more ideas than you need for yourself so you can share and give your ideas away. That is called fruitfulness and abundance—it means working on producing more than you need for yourself so you can begin blessing others, blessing your nation and blessing your enterprise. Once abundance starts to come, once someone becomes incredibly productive, it’s amazing what the numbers turn out to be.

But to begin this incredible process of blessing, it often starts with the act of thanksgiving and gratitude, being thankful for what you already have and for what you’ve already done. Begin the act of thanksgiving today and watch the miracles flow your way.

Source: ~ Author: Jim Rohn

Laughter has Serious Happiness Benefits

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh” – William James

Do we laugh enough or should we learn to laugh more? Joyful, good-natured, ‘mirthful’ laughter is a tonic for our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Whether we use it as a distraction, to cheer ourselves up, or as a practice to energise and enthuse us, laughing impacts every part of us. In many ways it is the ultimate drug, with no harmful side-effects.

On a physical level, laughter stimulates our cardiovascular and pulmonary systems by giving our hearts and lungs a vigorous workout. It stimulates blood flow, oxygenates our blood and energises our whole physical system even if we’re hospitalised. The US doctor Patch Adams has been using it professionally for years.

Its endorphin-triggering effect makes laughter a strong painkiller for emotional and mental pain, as well as physical. It has been proven that higher levels of pain can be readily tolerated and the healing process is speeded up. Both the Norman Cousins experience, described in his classic best seller ‘Anatomy of an Illness’, and the current RX Laughter project with children in UCLA hospital in Los Angeles provide the evidence.

Psychologically, laughter is the antithesis of depression. If we’re feeling any anxiety, it is an excellent antidote. In fact, in 2002 in Austria Dr Koutek started using the sound of spontaneous group laughter as part of his treatment for patients with depression. In our Bristol laughter club there are countless examples of people whose lives have benefitted from the ‘lightness’ that laughter induces. People’s faces change, their body language and posture become more open and relaxed, their communication becomes more playful and spontaneous. Even the simple smiling exercise based on the 1988 F. Strack, L.L. Martin and S. Stepper’s pencil exercise produces lasting results. All you need do is smile genuinely three times a day for at least 10-15 seconds and some people find it transforms their lives.

Laughter and playfulness, in turn, unlock our natural creativity. “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation” said Plato. Creativity is an essential part of a fun-filled life and helps neuroplasticity, our brain’s learning ability, by strengthening mental flexibility and resilience. Because of this – as we see in Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology – optimism, positivity and happiness become learnable skills. In short, we learn to become happier.

On the self-development path, the practice of laughter is the practice of joyfulness. Ancient traditions as well as new ones encourage us to practice laughing – with a sense of willingness. What ancient traditions intuited and experienced, and neuroplasticity shows, is a practice is learning new skills until they become second nature. Current thinking is that it might be only 21 days, as in the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. The key ingredients are single-mindedness, perseverance and tenacity to keep going until you become aware of the differences in your life. There are numerous recent psychological studies which show the beneficial impact of smiling especially when this is the genuine ‘Duchenne’ smile which uses the involuntary orbicularis oculi muscles. This genuine smile encourages an empathetic response and consequently stimulates sociability.

Top tips to laugh more:

  1. Look for laughter and laughter will find you. Look for as many opportunities to smile and laugh in your day, and importantly, communicate them. Not only will you feel better, you will also be encouraging a positive ripple in others too.
  2. If it will be funny later, it’s funny now. Often we look back and laugh at things. Can we laugh at them now instead?
  3. Start your day with a laugh. This is both a Zen and a Hawaiian practice. No matter what yesterday delivered, start today with a chuckle, a kinaesthetic version of a positive affirmation. Why? We get the endorphins. We may then feel more upbeat and better equipped for your day ahead. Its worth remembering, when we’re feeling really rough, that’s the time we need our endorphins most.
  4. Fake it till you make it. Feeling grumpy? Sluggish? Irritable? When you’re ready to change your mood, smile and laugh, even if you don’t yet feel like it. Your system will release endorphins anyway because it can’t tell the difference between the real joyful laugh and a fake one. The key is your willingness.

Source: ~ Author: Joe Hoare

What to Say When People Undermine Your Healthy Choices

Ever get the cold shoulder for not partaking in cupcakes brought to the office? Teased for waking up early on vacation to fit in a run? Or maybe you’ve “ruined it for everyone” by saying no to another round of drinks?

Yeah. We’ve been there.

Sticking to healthy habits can be hard, so it doesn’t help when your commitment is met with jabs and side-eyes. And while we all know sassy comebacks, responding to negativity with negativity is never a good idea. Not only will it get you and your naysayers nowhere, but it could end up causing resentment or damaging relationships. And it’ll definitely kill the vibe at brunch.

It’s important to remember that most of these critiques are the result of people who are misinformed but well-intentioned or people who feel insecure or disappointed about their own health-related decisions.

First, pause to consider if they have a point. All healthy lifestyles need balance. But assuming your choices are sound, stick to your guns with grace. With that in mind, here are several productive ways to fend off unwelcome flak.

1. Thanksgiving Dinner

The situation: Although your family is aware of your healthy-eating style, they remain hell-bent on pushing food:
“Just eat it, it’s not going to kill you!”
“You could afford to have some.”
“But I made this just for you!”

What you’re tempted to say: “You made this just for me? Really? Clearly you don’t know me as well as I thought you did.”

Do this instead: It’s tricky when you’re dealing with family members and don’t want to disrespect anyone. But you don’t need to give in either, says Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Your aunt [or another older family member] is of a different generation, where expressing love for people meant cooking for them,” Pagoto says. “There’s no point in trying to change the way she thinks.”

The quickest way to end this interaction is to say thank you with a smile and eat what you originally planned. If anyone insists on seeing you finish the portion, make an excuse about feeling uncomfortably full and ask if you can take it home. Later, you’re free to do with the food what you wish. (Read: Chuck it.)

2. The BBQ

The situation: You’re the only non-carnivore at your friend’s annual bash. While he is thoughtful enough to grill you a veggie burger, fellow guests aren’t as considerate:
“I feel bad for you—how can you live without bacon?”
“Isn’t fake meat gross?”
“How do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?”

What you’re tempted to say: “Here’s an idea: How about you don’t ask me about my protein, and I won’t ask you about your cholesterol?”

Do this instead: While trainer and dietitian Erica Giovinazzo keeps an animal-protein focused diet, she understands the frustration of her vegetarian clients. Her advice: Remember that you make your own choices. “Pressure is likely to come from everyone telling us what we should do, and sometimes we forget we’re in charge of our lives,” she says. “Once we remember that, we’re able to better deal in situations that challenges those decisions.”

Giovinazzo says the trick is to stay positive rather than defensive. Try: “My veggie burger is superb! You should try one! You’d be surprised how good it tastes!” They may or may not take you up on it, but they’ll know not to argue further with someone so confident.

3. The Visit Home

The situation: Seeing family means you’re instantly fair game for unsolicited commentary on everything from love life to career choices. But today’s hot topic is your body:
“You must work out all the time—you’ve lost so much weight!”
“You’re so thin! How much do you weigh?”
“Looks like someone could stand to eat a cheeseburger!”

What you’re tempted to say: “I weigh somewhere between ‘buzz off’ and ‘mind your own business!'”

Do this instead: Often people become judgmental of others’ healthy habits when they feel threatened. “The criticism can really be a veiled expression of jealousy,” Pagoto says. Rather than biting back, diffuse the situation: “Thanks for being concerned about my health, but there is nothing to worry about. My doctor said that my weight is healthy and to keep up my good eating and exercise habits.”

Giovinazzo also suggests taking the focus off your appearance and enthusiastically sharing how your habits have helped you in other ways: “I feel better and more energetic than ever since I started working out regularly! Can you believe I can do pull-ups now?”

4. The Dinner Party

The situation: The spread is butter-laden, deep-fried, and carb-dense. Eating this meal equals a massive food hangover. You help yourself to what you can, but when others see your plate, they exclaim:
“Why are you barely eating?!”
“What? You don’t like any of this food?!”

What you’re tempted to say: “I don’t feel like committing gustatory assault on my system, ’kaythanks.”

Do this instead: “You shouldn’t have to explain to others what you do or don’t put into your mouth,” says Lindsey Joe, R.D. Don’t feel pressured to justify your choices. Joe suggests simply stating, “This is plenty for me. Thank you for preparing all this!”

Another tactic, recommended by Tina Gowin, R.D., is to smile and redirect the conversation. Try: “I’m just pacing myself with this great spread! Hey, how was that vacation you just went on?” It’s bound to get your host chatting and gently steer the focus away from food. No matter what you say, both Joe and Gowin stress the key is to be polite.

5. Lunch at the Office

The situation: Everyone wants the fast-food chain you can’t stand. You don’t want to be disagreeable and go along with the order, but then your coworker passes you a box of sugary churros:
“Come on, you can be unhealthy for a day!”
“If we split dessert, we can split the calories!”

What you’re tempted to say: “Hey, you can make poor choices all by yourself. Look at that haircut, for example.”

Do this instead: You don’t have to feel hesitant to pass on something you genuinely don’t want, but remember, you work with these people five days a week, so keep it civil. Joe uses a simple, “Thanks for offering, but no thanks. I’m stuffed from lunch!”

One of Gowin’s go-to responses is, “I’m going out for a nice dinner later and want wiggle room for a juicy steak!” White lies are OK, Gowin says, as long as they aren’t too complicated and won’t get you in trouble later (i.e.—Don’t say you’re going gluten-free and then get caught eating pita chips). To avoid awkward moments in the future, she also suggests making a game plan. “Keep paper menus of the restaurants you and your coworkers order from and highlight your best options,” she says. “This way, you know what to get no matter what.”

6. The Workout Buddy Who Bails

The situation: You text your friend to confirm tomorrow’s post-work running date and she bails for the third time in a row:
“Let’s play hookie! Netflix and takeout beat pounding the pavement!”
“I’ve been slammed at work. Can’t you take a break too?”
“What’s the big deal? We’ll just reschedule.”

What you’re tempted to say: “Sure. First I’ll just remind your S.O. what you think of commitment.”

Say this instead: While it can be frustrating to have a friend cancel on you repeatedly, there’s no need to blacklist someone for flaking, says Justin Robinson, a sports dietitian and strength and conditioning coach.

Acknowledge the fact that balance and rest days are a part of any fitness plan, but stick to your guns: “Thai food sounds awesome, but I took a day off earlier this week and I’m booked tomorrow. So I really need to get this workout in today. Let me know what your weekend plans are and we’ll meet up.” Moving forward, Robinson suggests shopping for a new fitness buddy who shares your dedication.

7. The Mexican Food Truck

The situation: When your burrito arrives, you pull off the tortilla (rice and beans are enough for you) and dig in with a fork. You’re then hit with comments from your fellow diners:
“That is so weird.”
“Can’t you just eat it the way it is?”

What you’re tempted to say: “I’m sorry, food police! I didn’t realize I was over the limit in the no-tortilla zone.”

Do this instead: The comments may have nothing to do with you, Pagoto says. Watching your healthy habits may remind your fellow diners of their own struggles to do the same and bring up feelings of resentment. Keeping that in mind, she recommends responding with a light comment: “You guys have known me for years and only now realize I’m weird?! I just don’t want to fill up on tortilla when it’s the filling I really like.”

Giovanizzo’s tactic of returning their question also works: “I always get too full if I eat it with the tortilla. Don’t you hate feeling stuffed?”

8. Post-Work Happy Hour

The situation: You’re out with coworkers, but you’d rather just enjoy their company and skip the booze. When you pass on alcohol, your colleagues start in:
“You’re so boring!”
“Oh, come on, just have one drink!”
“Are you anti-alcohol now too?”

What you’re tempted to say: “Well, no, but this interrogation is going to drive me to drink!”

Do this instead: Over the years, Robinson’s experience has revealed that the more you talk and make excuses, the more your friends will pry. His advice? “A short answer is best when discussing why you choose not to drink: ‘I just don’t feel like drinking tonight.’”

Limiting your behavior to that moment (versus a lifestyle choice) deflects any larger debate. If that doesn’t do the trick, humor is another great option: “Now you have a sober driver to make sure a lightweight like you makes it home!” To appear social, Robinson suggests ordering a club soda and lime or even an iced tea with lemon. Both look like cocktails, help you hydrate, and may get people off your case. Win-win.

9. The Unhealthy Restaurant

The situation: While the rest of the table starts with fries and mozzarella sticks, you opt for a salad. Your friends are immediately annoyed:
“Of course, you always get the rabbit food.”
“Are you on a diet or something?”
“Ugh, I can’t imagine eating just a salad for dinner.”

What you’re tempted to say: “Don’t worry. I’ll ask the waiter to batter and deep-fry the lettuce so we can match. Twinsies!”

Do this instead: It’s frustrating to feel attacked by your fellow diners, and as tempting as it may be to criticize their choices, it’s better not to be judgmental, Gowin and Joe say.

If simply laughing it off and changing the subject won’t work, give them some insight on why you’re eating the way you are: “The grease upsets my stomach and I’d rather feel good instead of ending up in a food coma and having to go home early.” If you’re with true friends, Gowin says, you can honestly talk to them about your lifestyle preferences and ask for their support.


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