A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy heart

Fast asleepThe value of sleep should not be underestimated. Sleep is as important as diet and exercise in a healthy lifestyle. The European Society of Cardiology has found that short sleep duration is associated with harmful results such as higher incidences of obesity, blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol, haemoglobin A, and triglycerides, all of which are directly associated with a higher cardiovascular risk.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that an adult should sleep an average of seven to nine hours for optimal health, so a few bedroom tips will help to give you proper rest.

An easy solution to prevent unwelcomed sleep interruptions is to soundproof your bedroom and turn it into a sanctuary. Sound dampening is becoming a requirement for modern families, so if you have the opportunity to re-insulate your home, sound-proofing insulation is an excellent choice to escape the everyday hustle and bustle. Stone wool insulation, for example, is a top choice for professional recording studios. This material is an excellent acoustic barrier that actually absorbs the sound. For homeowners, retailers point to a performance tested product called, Roxul Safe ‘n’ Sound mineral wool insulation. It provides higher sound absorption against low frequency (bass) ranges that other types of insulation struggle to block.

A sleep-conducive environment is dark. Consider blocking out outside lights and the early morning sunshine with black-out curtains. A dark environment will ensure your body continues to rest for the necessary amount of time instead of waking up as the sun rises.

A cool environment and good bedding will make your environment more comfortable and favourable for catching those much needed Zzzs. Set your thermostat a few degrees lower and invest in some good bedding.

Comfort is essential to a good night sleep so consider investing in a new mattress if yours has exceeded its life expectancy. Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress every seven years.

Maintain a regular sleeping schedule including daily bed and wake times even on weekends. We have a regulated sleep-wake cycle and our brain and body need this balance.

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Natural remedies for families on the go – and on the grow

honey(NC) A recent Ipsos Reid survey, conducted on behalf of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) shows that Canadians are increasingly embracing a more holistic approach to health for themselves and their entire family. With the abundance of chemicals in our day-to-day products, food, and the environment, it can be difficult to figure out where and when to go natural.

For example, when we, or our kids, experience minor bumps or bruises we often rush to the medicine cabinet as a first aid solution. However, there are lots of natural approaches that you may want to consider. Here are three natural remedies that will help you and your family heal:

1. Use honey to help you heal – Life with kids is full of scrapes, cuts, nicks and burns. Recent research from the University of Guelph showed that using unpasteurized (Ontario) honey to heal wounds can be superior to other modern methods. This magic mixture of vitamins, minerals, sugar and enzymes helps to disinfect and repair damaged skin tissue. Clean your little one’s scraped knee well with warm water and soap, drizzle a little honey on the absorptive pad of a bandage, cover the scrape, and let it work its healing magic.

2. Use arnica to alleviate pain – Used to alleviate pain since the 1500s, arnica is still popular today. It can be applied to the skin for pain and swelling associated with bruises, aches, sprains, and arthritis. It is also applied to the skin for insect bites, muscle and cartilage pain, chapped lips, and even acne. Available as an ointment, rub, tincture or oral supplement, it is well known to help relieve sore muscles and joints.

3. Use coconut oil as your all-purpose miracle maker – Organic coconut oil is a rising superstar in the culinary world, but did you know it works wonders when applied topically to the skin? Pregnant woman can use organic coconut oil to combat stretch marks. During those first newborn diaper changes, coconut oil can help protect babies’ delicate skin from sticky meconium. It can also help soothe diaper rash as well as being a great carrier oil to remove your baby’s stubborn cradle cap. At any age it makes a wonderful natural moisturizer for dry and cracked skin.

Additional natural remedies, as well as tips and tricks that will help you keep your family growing and going, can be found online at chfa.ca.

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Beneficial supplements for the entire family

Beneficial supplements for the entire family(NC) The sheer variety of natural health products available is overwhelming. What should a busy mom take? What is best for her active husband? And how can you make sure your picky little eaters get all the nutrients they need? These are common questions for many families, and Lianne Phillipson-Webb, a nutritionist, author, and mother herself, has some helpful answers.

As a busy mom of two, Lianne says she understands how important good nutrition is. “I truly believe good health starts early and must include the entire family. Kids are extremely busy, parents are stressed-out and starved for time, and as a result, a healthy diet and good nutrition can easily take the back seat,” she begins. “Our constant on-the-go lifestyles make fast, pre-packaged and processed foods the staple for many households and, unfortunately, these foods lack the nutrition necessary for growing bodies and active adults.”

To help, Lianne points out the top four natural health products that are safe and beneficial to everyone in the family:

1. Omega-3s are extremely important because the human body cannot produce them, so we have to obtain them from foods or supplementation. Studies have shown that Omega-3s have many benefits, including improving cardiovascular health and cognitive development, reducing inflammation and stabilizing mood. Foods high in omega-3 include flax seeds, walnuts, salmon and sardines. Since these are not typically favourites for most kids, you may want to talk to your healthcare practitioner about supplementation.

2. Multivitamins are great because they are an affordable “insurance policy” for the entire family. Formany families on the go, a side of vegetables is not usually served at the drive thru. Some days the only fruit your kids may get is a glass of orange juice, which is still packed with a sugary punch. If you can’t remember the last time your family sat down together for a meal or if your kids would rather clean their rooms than eat fresh fruit or vegetables, you may want to consider a multivitamin to fill any nutritional gaps.

3. Probiotics help to balance our digestive tract, which is important because a healthy digestive tract is able to eliminate harmful bacteria, toxins and other waste products. When we make poor food choices, suffer from chronic stress and are exposed to environmental toxins, the balance in favour of good bacteria can shift, causing a variety of problems including a decreased immune system. Even if you eat well, probiotics can have many other benefits for optimal health.

4. Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and muscles, especially in children and the elderly. There is growing evidence that vitamin D may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, particularly colorectal and breast cancers. You can get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, in your diet (especially if you eat foods fortified with vitamin D), or by taking vitamin supplements. In Canada, from late October to March, the sun’s rays are not strong enough to produce Vitamin D in our skin, and as a result most of us are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin”. That is why the Canadian Cancer Society recommends adults talk with their doctor and consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the fall and winter months.

Finally it’s important to remember, says Lianne: “Each family is unique with different needs, which is why it’s always recommended to talk to your health care practitioner before adding any new supplements to your family’s regime.” Additional tips to keep the whole family growing and going can be found online at chfa.ca.

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