Monthly Archives: August 2016

Best food for your teeth

Taking care of your teeth is important, especially if you lie to your dentist about flossing. Which everyone does… except me. I floss all the time, I swear!

That’s why my longtime dentist Juli Powell was kind enough to share her expertise on which foods are the worst for your teeth. It’s obvious that candy isn’t great for you, and also that eating it in moderation won’t call forth the cavity monster (especially if you brush afterwards). But did you know that sour foods are worse than sugary ones? Read on to learn which 10 foods do the most damage, and why. Your dentist will thank you.

1. Processed carbohydrates (e.g. white bread)

“Carbs are really sugars. Your saliva has an enzyme called salivary amylase that can start the digestion process in your mouth, turning complex carbohydrates into sugar. If you’re snacking on crackers all day, you’re constantly keeping sugar in your mouth.

But the only reason sugar is bad is because the bacteria you have in your mouth eats the sugar and creates acid. If you had absolutely no plaque (which is impossible!), then there wouldn’t be anything to break down sugars to create acids and cause decay.

2. Alcohol

“Saliva is one of your first defenses to dilute plaque and acids. It also has anti-bacterial properties. Anything that’s drying your mouth is bad, and people who drink a lot of alcohol have very dry mouths. A little bit isn’t bad, but if you already suffer from dry mouth, a drink or two is going to make it worse.”

3. Ice

“Chewing ice is not a good idea. Ice is so hard! We do a crown once or twice a year for someone who bit into ice. It’s like biting into a rock. If you have large, old fillings, you could easily break a tooth. The coldness can also make your teeth slightly more brittle. It’s just a physics thing. Your mouth is warm. If you put this cold, rigid thing in there and bite on it, it’s bad for your teeth.”

4. Dried fruit

“We like dried fruit! We’re not saying throw it all out, but it has the same amount of sugar as fruit that hasn’t been dried, plus it’s sticky and staying on your teeth. If you’re eating it all day and not brushing, you could see some serious decay.”

5. Sticky, sour candy

“Sour candy is worse than sweet candy, because sour candy has just as much sugar, plus they’ve usually added citric acid. It’s also harder on teeth because it stays on there longer. Sour, sticky, and candy are the trifecta of bad stuff for your teeth.

6. Sports and energy drinks

“These are really tough on teeth. They do more acid damage than soda. Sports drinks first, energy drinks second, soda third. It depends on the type of sports drink; some have more citric acid than others. The tests I’ve seen are on the lemon-lime ones.

Plus, they also have a high amount of sugar. Water is still the most awesome thing on the planet, especially straight out of the tap, due to the fluoride.”

Back Sleeper Need To Know

Do you wake up every morning flat on your back with legs outstretched and arms at your side? Congratulations, you’re doing the whole sleep thing right. You’re already sleeping in the healthiest position, but here are a few tips to get even more out of it.

DON’T SLEEP ON AN EVEN PLANE

When you sleep on your back, your head should be slightly elevated, which prevents pain and discomfort caused by acid reflux. That way, your stomach is below your esophagus, meaning food and acid can’t creep back up toward your throat.

 

EAT SMART BEFORE BED

While sleeping on your back does reduce acid reflux, indulging in heavy, fatty or acidic foods too close to bedtime is a bad idea regardless of how you’re sleeping. Try to leave two hours between the time you finish your last meal and when your head hits the pillow.

 

INVEST IN A MATTRESS COVER

When you sleep on your back, it’s important that each of your body’s pressure points is supported equally. A mattress with random lumps or soft spots will cause aches and pains. Look for a model that’s firm all over. Or, if a brand-new mattress isn’t in the cards, a solid mattress topper (which you can buy for about $65) will more than suffice.

 

PUT A PILLOW UNDER YOUR KNEES

Despite its benefits, sleeping on your back can put stress on your spine and lower back. Put a pillow under your legs to reduce the pressure and wake up rested and pain-free.

The reson if you can not stop eating

Hunger is your body telling you it needs sustenance so it can operate efficiently. Yet sometimes, it can feel like all our hunger is a little…excessive.

We’re talking about those days when just 20 minutes after lunch (after you ate a meal big enough for two) you’re already starving again. Maybe it happens every day—you find yourself jonesing for another snack before you can even lick all the white cheddar popcorn off your fingers. Either way, you’re always. so. damn. hungry. But why?

“It is normal to experience an increase in appetite after going hard in the gym or during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or breastfeeding,” Amanda Foti, M.S., R.D., a senior dietitian at Selvera Wellness, tells SELF. “But if you feel like a bottomless pit, something might be up.”

Luckily, tweaking some of your daily habits can help keep your appetite in check so you’ll keep all that eating to when you’re truly, really, actually hungry.

1. You’re not eating often enough.

It might sound counter-intuitive if you’re trying to curb your eating, but spacing out your meals too far can make you constantly hungry. “When your stomach is empty for too long, your body will release more ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, leaving you feeling famished,” Foti says. Which over time, leads to overeating. Try eating a meal or snack every three to four hours. Foti also recommends keeping an emergency snack on you, like a piece of fruit, for when you’re tight on time.

2. You’re not getting the right balance of nutrients.

“Satisfying snacks have three components: fiber, protein, and a little healthy fat,” explains Caroline Kaufman, R.D. All three can help slow digestion, which keeps blood sugar stable and keeps you full for longer. Some of her suggestions: a serving of plain popcorn (fiber) with roasted almonds (protein and healthy fat); vegetable sticks (fiber) with hummus (protein and healthy fat); or cherry tomatoes (fiber), avocado (healthy fat) and part-skim cottage cheese (protein).

3. You’re eating too many simple carbs and sugars.

On the other hand, eating lots of simple carbohydrates (think: white bread, pasta, bagels, pastries) and sugar will make it impossible to feel satisfied. “Your glucose will rise at first giving you a burst of energy, and then crash rapidly causing your body to crave more fuel,” Foti explains. This can become a vicious cycle, where you never feel satisfied no matter how much you keep eating.

4. You’re dehydrated and confusing thirst for hunger.

Our thirst and hunger cues both come from the same part of the brain, the hypothalamus, making it difficult for our bodies to know the difference, Foti explains. Keep a water bottle at your desk so you remember to sip throughout the day. “You’ll know you’re drinking enough water when yourpee is light yellow or clear,” Kaufman adds.

5. You’re stressed.

Simply put, stress increases the body’s production of the hormone cortisol, which boosts appetite, since your body thinks it needs to prepare to fight. “According to the Harvard School of Public Health, many studies have found that stress can increase cravings for sugary, fatty foods,” Kaufman explains. “These foods may actually comfort you on a physiological level—they seem to inhibit parts of your brain that produce stress emotions.” This may make you feel better temporarily, but it ends up increasing snack cravings. (Trying to manage your stress? Here are six easy ways to feel less stressed in under five minutes.)

6. You’re not paying attention to what you’re eating.

Eating mindfully—that means actually paying attention to what you’re eating instead of shoveling it in your mouth as you’re running off to do something else—is important for your body to register when it’s hungry or not. When you don’t fully experience a meal, you may still feel hungry even when your body is full, because you essentially forget you already ate.

“In addition to sensing when you’re hungry and full, mindful eating can help you decide if food is even satisfying,” Kaufman explains, or if your hunger is something else entirely, like dehydration or stress. “Maybe you think you’re hungry, but when you start eating your yogurt, you realize you’re not hungry at all. The yogurt isn’t satisfying that feeling.” If you weren’t paying attention to the eating process, you’d just down the yogurt and still feel hungry.

7. You’re not getting enough sleep.

Sleep is very closely linked with two hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin reduces appetite, and ghrelin stimulates it. “When you’re sleep-deprived, leptin levels drop and ghrelin soars—no wonder you’re hungry!” Kaufman says. Plus, when you’re exhausted, your body craves a quick fuel source, glucose, which gets you reaching for those sugar-laden foods. “These ‘comfort carbs’ set you off on a hunger rollercoaster, since they give you a quick (but fleeting) energy boost, followed by a sugar crash that makes you crave more.”

8. You have an underlying medical condition that’s messing with your appetite.

If you’ve checked all the other potential causes, and you’re still eating nonstop, it may be worth seeing a doctor to rule out any real health concerns. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, and anxiety (along with some medications) can all amp up your appetite.

Do You Feel Tired After A Good Night Sleep

On several occasions, I’ve woken up from a “good” night’s sleep and still felt surprisingly tired and lethargic. What gives? Why can’t I seem to get going after giving my body the uninterrupted rest I know it needs?

The answer: While there are several possible explanations for this unappreciated feeling of cloudiness, Michael Decker, Ph.D., a sleep specialist and associate professor at Case Western School of Nursing, first suggests that something called sleep inertia may be to blame.

“As we sleep, our brain rotates through several stages known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM), slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep,” Decker told The Huffington Post. “Although asleep, our brain is metabolically very active in REM sleep, and fairly active in NREM sleep. In the morning, we typically awaken from NREM sleep. As our brain is already metabolically active, the leap to consciousness is very short.”

However, when we are still in SWS, the brain reduces metabolic activity, which significantly limits our conscious awareness and responsiveness, according to Decker. If we happen to be in SWS when the alarm clock goes off, the leap to consciousness is a more disruptive one than experienced from NREM or REM sleep.

“The term ‘sleep inertia’ describes that period of time in which our brain is struggling to engage its wake-maintaining areas, its cognitive and decision making areas, as well as motor function areas,” said Decker. This transition can take as little as one hour — and as long as four hours — to occur.

Beyond the science of sleep inertia, this morning sluggishness could also be attributed to a variety of sleep disorders, said Decker. From sleep apnea to periodic limb movement disorder, people may struggle with a sleep disorder and not necessarily realize it. These conditions disrupt the continuity and quality of sleep, further exacerbating those feelings of sleepiness even after logging eight hours of shut-eye.

One final culprit could be the furry friend curled up at the foot of the bed, Decker said. We know you love them, but your pets’ mid-night movements can disrupt your sleep, and their 5 a.m. wake-up calls for a bathroom break are surely less than helpful. The more they wake you up during the night, the more you should expect that groggy feeling to linger throughout the morning.

Have a question for Healthy Living? Get in touch here and we’ll do our best to ask the experts and get back to you.

“Ask Healthy Living” is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical advice.

 

Also on HuffPost:

  • 1 E-readers
    As if there weren’t enough things keeping you tossing and turning each night, here’s a new one: Using short-wave, blue light-emitting e-readers, like the iPad, iPhone, Nook Color, Kindle and Kindle Fire, before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep, according to a December 2014 study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

    “When blue light hits the optic nerve, it tells the brain to stop producing melatonin,” which is “the key that starts the engine for sleep,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “This is especially problematic, since as you get older, the ability to produce melatonin becomes even more compromised.”

    Fixes: Open up a real book instead. (Remember those?) If giving up your e-reader is impossible, look for screens and glasses that can block the sleep-stealing blue light on websites like Lowbluelights.com.

  • 2 Being overweight
    Carry extra pounds, especially in the neck and trunk section, and it’s more likely you’ll suffer from sleep apnea, which causes your airway to become blocked or obstructed during sleep, robbing you of quality deep sleep. The condition affects 90 percent of obese men, though it’s not purely a man’s disease. The Cleveland Clinic reports that after menopause, it’s just as likely to affect women. Even more disturbing, it goes undiagnosed in as many as 80 percent of those who get a lousy night’s sleep.

    “Sleep apnea can mask itself as fatigue, trouble with concentration, dry mouth or even depression,” states Dr. Breus. Unfortunately, sleep apnea and obesity is a bit of a chicken-egg scenario. Do sufferers have problems because they’re obese, or is their obesity stoked by their compromised sleep? No one knows for sure, but what’s known is this: Poor sleep makes people less motivated to increase physical activity, which can lead to more weight gain. Additionally, reduced sleep is associated with elevated levels of the hormone leptin, which helps regulate appetite.

    Fixes: Among the various treatments for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers air pressure via a mask that sits over your nose or mouth while you sleep. Other treatment options include losing weight, oral appliances (that resemble mouthguards), and Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation (USA) therapy, a new FDA-approved implantable device.

  • 3 Medications
    Many popular over-the-counter pain medications, like Excedrin and Bayer Back and Body, may contain caffeine, which helps the medication get absorbed more quickly, but can cut into your sleep, according to Dr. Breus (who suggests always checking the label first). If you’re feeling under the weather, beware of nasal decongestants and daytime cold or flu medicines, as well, which can contain pseudoephedrine; you’ll feel jittery instead of tired. Instead, The National Sleep Foundation suggests choosing a medication specifically for nighttime use, like Benadryl, NyQuil or Zyrtec, which usually contain antihistamines that promote drowsiness instead.

    Diuretics, water pills for heart disease and high blood pressure, and ADD medications like Adderall and Ritalin can also disrupt sleep, says Hrayr Attarian, M.D., a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Other culprits include steroids and some medications for depression or asthma. “As with any new medication, always check with your doctor first,” says Dr. Attarian.

    Fixes: If your meds are causing sleep problems, “First, I’d suggest talking to your physician to see if your medication can be changed or the dose adjusted,” says Dr. Attarian. “If that doesn’t work, you can go to a sleep clinic to discuss treatment options that may or may not include sleep aids. Taking a sleeping pill is not always the right thing right away especially if you are taking other medications to manage health conditions.”