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Jul 29, 2012

Siwak Has Numerous Benefits for Oral Hygiene

The great scholar said that the siwak should be used in moderation, and mentioned some of its benefits as:
  • Purifies the mouth
  • Cleanses the teeth
  • Strengthens the gums
  • Prevents cavities
  • Sweetens the breath
  • Cleanses the brain
  • Creates appetite for food
  • Assists in digestion of food
  • Clears eyesight
  • Provides energy
Recommending the use of the siwak at all times, at times of prayer and for ablution, on awakening from sleep, when the odor of the mouth had changed, and for a person fasting or breaking the fast.

What Is the siwak
The siwak (or miswak) is a natural toothbrush commonly made from the twigs of the salvadora persica tree. Other trees with bitter roots, such as the walnut or olive tree may also be used.
The bark of the siwak is light brown and its inner surfaces are white. It has a warm and pungent taste.
The stem bark of the salvadora persica tree, the tree commonly used for siwak, contains chlorides,fluoridesilica, sulfur, Vitamin C and small quantities of tannins, saponins, flavonoids and sterols.
Health Properties of the Siwak
A study carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2003 compared the use of miswak with ordinary toothbrushing. The study found:
"It is concluded that the miswak is more effective than toothbrushing for reducing plaque and gingivitis, when preceded by professional instruction in its correct application. The miswak appeared to be more effective than toothbrushing for removing plaque from the embrasures, thus enhancing interproximal health."[1]
More research from Saudi Arabia found the positive effects of the siwak on the immune system.[2]
Extensive research has also been conducted by Dr. Rami Mohammed Diabi on the health effects ofmiswak, especially its anti-addiction effects on smokers as a curative and preventive measure.[3]
Another study showed that the miswak had comparable effects on plague control, when compared tochlorhexidine gluconate (CHX), one of the best-proven anti-plaque agents. 

Tips on Using the Siwak
  • siwak is usually about 15 cm in length and under 1 cm in diameter, which makes it easy to handle when cleaning the mouth.
  • Before using the siwak, some of the bark at one end of it is usually stripped off and softened by chewing it slightly to separate the fibers.
  • If the siwak dries out, it can be softened by soaking it in fresh water or rose water.
  • The end should be cut afresh each time the siwak is used to ensure hygiene

Jul 27, 2012

How to Become an Early Riser

  • Don’t make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.
  • Allow yourself to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, perhaps watching TV or surfing the Internet. But if you continue this habit, while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start over. I suggest going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep, and read while in bed. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
  • Put your alarm clock far from you bed. If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit snooze. Never hit snooze. If it’s far from your bed, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
  • Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed. Just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to stumble into the bathroom and go pee. By the time I’ve done that, and flushed the toilet and washed my hands and looked at my ugly mug in the mirror, I’m awake enough to face the day.
  • Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
  • Have a good reason. Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This reason will motivate you to get up. I like to write in the morning, so that’s my reason. Also, when I’m done with that, I like to read all of your comments!
  • Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you’re forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. A good reward is to make a hot cup of coffee or tea and read a book. Other rewards might be a tasty treat for breakfast (smoothies! yum!) or watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
  • Take advantage of all that extra time. Don’t wake up an hour or two early just to read your blogs, unless that’s a major goal of yours. Don’t wake up early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day! 
  • Jul 26, 2012

    Honey Cures

    For at least 2700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. Honey may also be used to alleviate the effects of a sore throat, by mixing with lemon juice and consumed. 
    Honey contains copper, iron, silica, vitamin B, manganese, chlorine, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, aluminum and magnesium. 

    WARNING! Never give honey to an infant under 12 months.


    Afternoon Fatigue: At 3:00pm (or when the body is feeling fatigued), drink 1/2 Tablespoon of honey in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder. Energy will increase within one week if taken daily.

    Anxiety and Nervous Tension: Honey is said to calm a nervous, high strung person. It can also help you sleep at night. For insomnia, take 1 Tablespoon of honey at dinner. If that doesn't work, try mixing 3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 cup of honey in a jar. Take 2 teaspoons before bed. If you don't fall asleep within the hour, take 2 teaspoons more. 

    Honey for pain relief: Mix 3 Tbls. of honey in boiled water and drink. Honey has natural pain-relieving powers.

    Longevity Tea: Boil 3 cups of water with 4 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Drink 1/4 cup, 3 or 4 times a day. Said to give steady energy and keep the skin soft!

    Honey Relieves Coughs: Boil a whole lemon slowly for 10 minutes. Cut the lemon in 2 and extract the juice. Add juice to a 4 oz glass. Then add 2 Tablespoons of glycerine and fill the remaining glass with honey. Dosage: 1 teaspoon during the day. Stir with spoon before taking. If you have a night-time cough, take 1 teaspoon right before retiring and then another one during the night. 

    Honey for Burns: Apply to burn, cover with a soft bandage.

    Honey for Asthma: Right before going to bed, take a mixture of 1 tsp. honey with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

    Honey for Hang-overs: Eat honey on bread or crackers. The fructose in the honey helps to flush out the alcohol in your system.

    Honeycomb is an old Vermont remedy for allergies. When honeycomb is chewed regularly during allergy season, it completely alleviates allergies.

    Recipe: Chew a piece of honeycomb as long as possible as though it were a piece of gum. Within 30 minutes of chewing honeycomb, symptoms like a stuffy nose and headache disappear. Start chewing honeycomb a week or two before allergy season starts and you may not get any allergies. Plain honey apparently works as well: dosage is 2 TBLS at each meal, three times a day.

    Honey has been used for 2,000 years as an antiseptic dressing for minor wounds. Because honey contains potassium, bacteria cannot survive in it. Potassium withdraws moisture, which is essential to bacteria's survival.  

    Honey Facial Moisturizer: 2 Tablespoons of honey 2 Teaspoons of Milk. Apply to face and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

    Summertime Honey Mask: When the humidity and/or filthy city air is producing breakouts and oily or gritty skin, a honey mask is a great solution! The recipe is as easy as they get! Simply spread a thin layer of honey over your face for about 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

    Honey Scrub for the Body: mix 1/2 cup of raw honey with 1/2 cup sugar or salt. Step into the shower (sans water, of course) and scrub mixture into the skin. Then shower off.

    Honey Scrub for the Face: 1 Tablespoon of honey mixed with 2 Tablespoons of finely ground almonds and half a teaspoon of lemon juice. Rub gently into the skin and rinse with warm water.

    Skin Infections: Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts to the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.

    Hair Conditioner: Mix 2 Tablespoons of honey with 1/2 of a fresh avocado and 1 Teaspoon of coconut oil. Massage into hair and leave on for half an hour. Works beautifully for dry and damaged hair.
    Hair Loss: To the scalp, apply a paste of hot olive oil, one Tablespoon of honey and one Teaspoon of cinnamon (powder). Keep on for approx. 15 min. and then wash the hair.

    Effects of steroids on brain and cancer

    Steroids also affect the brain, and high doses can make people feel happy, euphoric, hyped-up, with disturbance of sleep and even serious psychiatric illness such as mania, very aggressive behavior and psychosis (delusions, pananoia, loss of touch with reality). If steroid users are also taking other drugs which affect mood or brain function, these side-effects can be far more common.
    Steroids are really useful in the care of those with advanced cancer when short life expectancy from their condition means physicians are far more relaxed about long term side-effects.
    Brain tumours often respond dramatically to steroids. The reason is that the brain is contained in a bony box inside the skull and pressure can build up inside the head, resulting in headaches, sickness, drowsiness and other problems. Brain scans often show that a tunour the size of a wallnut can be surrounded by a big immune reaction, with brain swelling and inflammation. Steroids reduce the additional swelling, often reversing symptoms and buying time - maybe a few weeks. The underlying cancer continues to grow and if the person finally begins to deteriorate death often follows rapidly as the steroid dose is reduced.
    So steroids are really powerful, with wide ranges of actions, producing dramatic effects ranging from pain relief to mood elevation, and if it were not for the very serious side effects they would be used even more often.
    The body becomes dependent on steroids and when used in health care, most physicians reduce dosage gradually, even though they may start in an acute illness with a very high dose.

    Jul 25, 2012

    Finding the right pillow for sleeping

    I used to just use whatever pillow was around. Using a good pillow will keep your neck and spine healthy and makes sleep that much more enjoyable.  there are plenty of options. 
    1. Think about how you sleep. No one stays in exactly the same position while zzzing, but we all have a position or two that is comforting and feels best. If you sleep on your side, you'll need a pillow with enough loft to fill the space between your shoulder, neck, and head. If you're a back sleeper, a pillow with a lower profile will cradle your neck. If you're like me and sleep on your stomach, you'll want something thin.
    2. Think about what you're sleeping on. Your mattress and pillows should work in tandem. I might not find my Tempur-pedic pillow so comfortable if I weren't sleeping on a memory foam mattress topper.
    3. Evaluate filling materials. This is where things can get complicated, because your pillows can be filled with anything from buckwheat to down to polyester.  Consumer Reports recommends checking for a tightly woven fabric and compressing pillows to determine their firmness and resilience. You'll also want to take into consideration the care needed for each fill type .

    Jul 24, 2012

    Do meats lose value in protein if over cooked?

    Proteines denature when heated that's what happening when you see the coulour change of meat. 
    Denaturation means that the form of the protein changes but it is not destroyed and looses nothing of it' nutritional values. 

    Exessive heating (when you burn the meat) is not good because the fat can transform in to polycyclic aromatics (PCA) these are carcenogenic (think of the fat falling in the bbq fire, that becomes PCA, evaporates and sticks on your meat)

    Normally heating your meat normally should not have a (major) impact on protein quality. It will actually help your body to digest the protein fraction more easily and hence creates a better post-meal feeling instead of eating the meat raw .

    Jul 21, 2012

    6 Tips to Whitening Your Teeth at Home

    1. Brush your teeth with baking soda, just a little goes a long way. Wet your brush a bit then takes some baking soda on the brush like toothpaste. If you hate the taste you can brush your teeth with real toothpaste afterword. it really work made your breath smell fresh too and it cheap!
    2. Using hydrogen peroxide as a rinse before brushing, it may burns a little. It doesn't taste great, don't swallow it. Or you can put Hydrogen Peroxide on with Q-tips.
    Careful with the peroxide, you could damage your gums & teeth. Don't use the peroxide to often.
    3. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixture. Apply to surface of teeth, leave on half an hour, rinse off if gums start to sting then use your toothbrush to really make it work. It is too abrasive to do every day. Use this method no more then 1 or twice a week. Beware do not swallow it.
    4. Whitening tooth kit which you can found easily in most chemists, make sure to follow instructions carefully cause it's easy to screw up.
    5. Teeth whitening toothpaste or Gel. Use it regularly, you will notice a difference. Whitening toothpastes remove surface stains and prevent new stains from building up. However they are not in contact with the teeth long enough to remove internal stains.
    6. Try a Sonicare toothbrush, by the powerful oscillating or rotating movement brush can actually make it easier to clean stains. Like you brush 3 times more when compare to normal brushes.
    White teeth are not a overnight miracle. You should prevent your teeth from stains and always white easily by just brush your teeth really well twice a day and stop eating / drinking things like coffee, tea, carbonated drinks or smoke. It 's also keep your oral heathly from other problems.

    Nutrition Advice for Fasting During Ramadan

    Fasting during Ramadan is already a challenge within itself; however fasting during one of the warmest months of the year not only intensifies this challenge but also requires a true commitment that can only be marvelled. With an average of 14 hours fasting between Suhoor (Sunrise) and Iftar meals (Sunset), nutrition and hydration during meal time are both highly important.


    Fasting affects your body in many ways. As your body undergoes quite a drastic change from receiving food and water on a regular basis to not receiving anything for an extended amount of time, it understandably causes a shock to the system. Your body becomes unsure whether food will be readily available and as a result of this, tries to reserve as much energy as possible by slowing down your metabolism.

    In this context, your metabolism is the speed at which your body converts food into energy. A slow metabolism means that the food is converted into energy much slower, which can result in weight gain particularly after Ramadan when normal eating habits are resumed.

    Therefore it is important that during Ramadan you undertake measures to keep your metabolism as normal as possible. One of the best ways to do this is with light exercise as this can speed up your metabolism, helping to counteract the effects that fasting has on slowing down your metabolism. Exercise should only be carried out after Iftar or before Suhoor and doesn’t need to be anything intense. The best form of exercise would be a 30 minute brisk walk in the morning or evening.


    Water is said to make up over two-thirds of the human body. It is essential for many bodily functions such as aiding digestion and the transition of waste, lubricating eyes and joints and maintaining healthy skin. Dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches, nausea and even affect your everyday decision making. If you are thirsty, this is a sign you body is already dehydrated. As water is not permitted during fasting hours, it is vital that you fully hydrate outside of fasting hours. It is recommended, generally, that you consume at least 2 litres of water per day.

    However, due to the possibility of warm/hot weather throughout August, you should aim for 2.5-3 litres per day which is the equivalent of 5-6 small water bottles or 10-12 average (250 ml) glasses. For example, to consume 10 glasses of water you could have 1 glass when you wake up in the morning, 1 before you eat, 1 whilst you eat, 1 after you eat, 1 when opening fast at iftar, 1 before your main evening meal, 1 during your meal, 1 after your meal and 2 before you go to sleep. Although water is the best option to hydrate the body, it is fine to consume other liquids such as cordial, milk and fruit juice. Try to avoid fizzy drinks, tea and coffee as the caffeine acts as a diuretic.

    Summary tips

    • Aim to drink around 10 glasses of water each day
    • Include some light exercise in the morning or evening
    • Be conscious not to overeat during meal times
    • Make sure meals consist of complex carbohydrates (pasta, spaghetti, brown rice, granary bread, potatoes, high fibre cereals, porridge oats, beans, lentils.)
    • Try to consume wholegrain carbohydrates(brown pasta/rice/bread, muesli, oatmeal) where possible
    • Include protein in your meals such as eggs, fish, milk and white meat.
    • Try to avoid eating red meat more than twice a week. Although red meat is a good source of iron, it is also high in saturated fat
    • Include a variety of vegetables with your meals
    • Soup is a good starter and adds to your fluid intake
    • Avoid  coffee and fizzy drinks
    • Avoid fatty desserts, instead opt for fresh fruit and nuts
    • Avoid frying foods. Grilling or oven baking food is a much healthier method
    • If you are worried about not receiving enough vitamins and minerals during Ramadan, taking a multivitamin once a day with your meal can help to ensure you reach your recommended daily intake

    Jul 20, 2012

    12 Healthiest Dried Fruits

    Dried fruits are some of the healthiest alternatives to refined sugar, and they are an excellent way to satisfy a sweet craving. While many manufacturers use the natural sugar found in fruit, called fructose, to sweeten their products, eating fruit itself in moderation is a great way to get needed nutrients and vitamins. Dried fruit is a quick and tasty way to get those same benefits during a busy, fast-paced day.

    1. Apple

    Apples contain many phytonutrients (naturally occurring component of plants that provide nutrition) that act as antioxidants, ridding the body of cancer causing free-radicals. They are also a great source of dietary fiber.

    2. Apricot

    The most nutritious way to eat apricot is dried. A good source of fiber, they also contain vitamin A, C and Iron.

    3. Mango

    Mango is rich in a variety of phytonutrients, vitamins A, C and E, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are necessary for healthy skin and the immune health. 

    4. Cherry

    Cherries have been called the "new antioxidant superfruit." Compared to other fruits, they have significantly higher levels of antioxidants, as well as important nutrients like beta-carotene, folic acid and fiber.

    5. Fig

    While some fruits can lose a portion of their nutrition when dried, figs lose none of their potency. They are high in iron, folic acid and potassium.

    6. Papaya

    Called "the fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus, papayas are a great source of antioxidants; recent studies have shown that they may aid in preventing diabetic heart disease.

    7. Blueberry

    Another "antioxidant superfruit," blueberries are also high in vitamins A, E and especially B, which are necessary for a healthy nervous system. 

    8. Raisin

    Often called "nature's candy," raisins are cholesterol-free, low in sodium, high in fiber and totally fat-free.

    9. Black Currant

    Currants are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and high in vitamin C, manganese, iron and potassium. 

    10. Plum

    A dried plum is called a prune. Prunes are a great source of vitamins and have the added benefit of regulating the digestive system. 

    11. Pear

    Pears are a good source of vitamin C and copper, and are full of dietary fiber.

    12. Tomato

    Surprise! Tomato is a fruit, and sun-dried tomatoes are a great way to get the cancer-reducing properties of tomato, along with vitamin C and lycopene, which are beneficial to the eyes.

      Smoking causes bad breath

      Smoking causes bad breath. It leaves behind bad odor in the mouth. It affects the flow of saliva in the mouth and causes dry mouth, which in turn causes bad breath. Saliva is like a mouthwash. Even after the initial smell of the smoke has gone, the bad breath continues. Tar and nicotine damage your mouth.
      Smoking also raises the temperature in the mouth, causing damage to the oral tissues in the mouth and destroys them. The bacteria can move more freely in the mouth, causing serious oral hygienic problems. How to lessen the effect of bad breath?

      Tips to Control Bad Breath Caused By Smoking

      • One can take chewing gum, rather sugarless chewing gum, to reduce the smell of smoking
      • One can reduce or quit smoking. One can talk to people who have quit smoking
      • One can realize that relationships are marred due to bad breath. It would be advisable to avoid bad breath caused by smoking
      • Try healthy alternatives to smoking. Try to discipline yourself. Do some exercises to divert the mind. Control the urges through such diversions
      • Keep your teeth and tongue clean
      • Practice proper dental care and oral hygiene. Brush properly and floss your teeth
      • Use a mouthwash
      • Drink water to ensure that mouth is moist
      • There are cigar-breath sprays available in the market
      Have a fresh mouth. Bad breath can put off a person. Try to get rid of your smoking habit. If not then find solutions to control your bad breath caused due to smoking.

      11 Health Benefits of Fasting

      I found enormous amounts of material when I started looking for the health benefits of fasting. It seemed that every expert in medicine, health and fitness had something to say about the benefits of fasting. But the following piece from Dr. Cinque summarizes it all very well:
      1. Fasting promotes detoxification. As the body breaks down its fat reserves, it mobilizes and eliminates stored toxins.
      2. Fasting gives the digestive system a much-needed rest. After fasting, both digestion and elimination are invigorated.
      3. Fasting promotes the resolution of inflammatory processes, such as in rheumatoid arthritis.
      4. Fasting quiets allergic reactions, including asthma and hay fever.
      5. Fasting promotes the drying up of abnormal fluid accumulations, such as edema in the ankles and legs and swelling in the abdomen.
      6. Fasting corrects high blood pressure without drugs. Fasting will normalize blood pressure in the vast majority of cases, the blood pressure will remain low after the fast, if the person follows a health-supporting diet and lifestyle.
      7. Fasting makes it easy to overcome bad habits and addictions. Many people have overcome tobacco and alcohol addictions by fasting, and even drug addictions. Fasting rapidly dissipates the craving for nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other drugs.
      8. Fasting clears the skin and whitens the eyes. It is common to see skin eruptions clear while fasting, and the whites of the eyes never look so clear and bright as they do after fasting.
      9. Fasting restores taste appreciation for wholesome natural foods. People say that their taste buds come alive after fasting and that food never tasted so good.
      10. Fasting is the perfect gateway to a healthful diet and lifestyle. Going on a fast gives you the motivation and enthusiasm to make a fresh start.
      11. Fasting initiates rapid weight loss with little or no hunger. Most people are surprised at how little desire for food they have while fasting.

      Fasting Advantages

      Fasting will: 
      1. Rest the digestive system
      2. Allow for cleansing and detoxification of the body
      3. Create a break in eating patterns, while shining a spotlight on them
      4. Promote greater mental clarity
      5. Cleanse and heal "stuck" emotional patterns
      6. Lead to a feeling of physical lightness, increasing energy level
      7. Promote an inner stillness, enhancing spiritual connection 
      8. Anti aging effects
      9. Better attitude
      10. Better resistance to disease
      11. Better sleep
      12. Change of habits
      13. Clearer planning
      14. Clearer skin
      15. Creativity
      16. Diet changes
      17. Drug detoxification
      18. Improved senses(vision, hearing, taste)
      19. Inspiration
      20. More clarity(mentally and emotionally)
      21. More energy More relaxation
      22. New ideas
      23. Purification
      24. Reduction of allergies
      25. Rejuvenation
      26. Rest for digestive organs
      27. Revitalization
      28. Right use of will
      29. Spiritual awareness
      30. Weight loss

      Jul 19, 2012

      How to sleep better

      • Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late. If you want to change your bedtime, help your body adjust by making the change in small daily increments, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day.
      • Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake–time even on weekends.
      • Nap to make up for lost sleep. If you need to make up for a few lost hours, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping late. This strategy allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep–wake rhythm, which often backfires in insomnia and throws you off for days.
      • Be smart about napping. While taking a nap can be a great way to recharge, especially for older adults, it can make insomnia worse. If insomnia is a problem for you, consider eliminating napping. If you must nap, do it in the early afternoon, and limit it to thirty minutes.
      • Fight after–dinner drowsiness. If you find yourself getting sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating to avoid falling asleep, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the next day. If you give in to the drowsiness, you may wake up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
      • Remove your sunglasses in the morning and let light onto your face.
      • Spend more time outside during daylight. Try to take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night.
      • Let as much light into your home/workspace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, move your desk closer to the window.
      • If necessary, use a light therapy box. A light therapy box can simulate sunshine and can be especially useful during short winter days when there’s limited daylight.
      • Turn off your television and computer. Many people use the television to fall asleep or relax at the end of the day. Not only does the light suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the mind, rather than relaxing it. Try listening to music or audio books instead, or practicing relaxation exercises. If your favorite TV show is on late at night, record it for viewing earlier in the day.
      • Don’t read from a backlit device at night (such as an iPad). If you use a portable electronic device to read, use an eReader that is not backlit, i.e. one that requires an additional light source such as a bedside lamp.
      • Change your light bulbs. Avoid bright lights before bed, use low-wattage bulbs instead.
      • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. The darker it is, the better you’ll sleep. Cover electrical displays, use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try an eye mask to cover your eyes.
      • Use a flashlight to go to the bathroom at night. As long as it’s safe to do so, keep the light to a minimum so it will be easier to go back to sleep.
      • Keep noise down. If you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from barking dogs, loud neighbors, city traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with a fan, recordings of soothing sounds, or white noise. You can buy a special sound machine or generate your own white noise by setting your radio between stations. Earplugs may also help.
      • Keep your room cool. The temperature of your bedroom also affects sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65° F or 18° C) with adequate ventilation. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with quality sleep.
      • Make sure your bed is comfortable. You should have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to invest in a new mattress or a try a different pillow. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam or egg crate toppers, and pillows that provide more support.
      • Stay away from big meals at night. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
      • Avoid alcohol before bed. Many people think that a nightcap before bed will help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, so stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed.
      • Cut down on caffeine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.
      • Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. Drinking lots of water, juice, tea, or other fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. Caffeinated drinks, which act as diuretics, only make things worse.
      • Quit smoking. Smoking causes sleep troubles in numerous ways. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it hard to sleep.
      • Deep breathing. Close your eyes—and try taking deep, slow breaths—making each breath even deeper than the last.
      • Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting at your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head.
      • Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place or activity that is calming and peaceful for you. Concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you feel
      • Stay out of your head. The key to getting back to sleep is continuing to cue your body for sleep, so remain in bed in a relaxed position. Hard as it may be, try not to stress over the fact that you’re awake or your inability to fall asleep again, because that very stress and anxiety encourages your body to stay awake. A good way to stay out of your head is to focus on the feelings and sensations in your body.
      • Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. If you are finding it hard to fall back asleep, try a relaxation technique such as visualization, deep breathing, or meditation, which can be done without even getting out of bed. Remind yourself that although they’re not a replacement for sleep, rest and relaxation still help rejuvenate your body.
      • Do a quiet, non-stimulating activityIf you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing a quiet, non-stimulating activity, such as reading a book. Keep the lights dim so as not to cue your body clock that it’s time to wake up. Also avoid screens of any kind—computers, TV, cell phones, iPads—as the type of light they emit is stimulating to the brain. A light snack or herbal tea might help relax you, but be careful not to eat so much that your body begins to expect a meal at that time of the day.
      • Postpone worrying and brainstorming. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when you are fresh and it will be easier to resolve. Similarly, if a brainstorm or great idea is keeping you awake, make a note of it on paper and fall back to sleep knowing you’ll be much more productive and creative after a good night’s rest.

      Jul 18, 2012

      Meet your Meat !

                      Great question : what is HALAL meat!

      A Muslim butcher opened recently in our neighborhood and they sell halal meat. We wondered, what exactly does "halal" mean?
      Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible." In terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. For a meat to be certified "halal," it cannot be a forbidden cut (such as meat from hindquarters) or animal (such as pork.)
      The slaughter of a halal animal is called "zabihah" and there are certain guidelines to follow:
      • Allah's (God's) name must be pronounced during slaughter.
      • The instrument must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter. The animal must be slit at the throat.
      • The animal must not be unconscious
      • The animal must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry. Eating blood is not halal.
      • These steps must be accomplished by a Muslim or the People of the Book (Christian or Jew.) Many observant Muslims find kosher meat acceptable.
      • The animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products.

      What healthy food should you buy at the grocery store?

      If your grocery store sells fruit and vegetables start there with a nice big selection....   
      For the fridge.... low-fat milk, yoghurt and some good, strong-flavoured cheeses (then a little goes a long way), good quality eggs, lean meat and fish.  Other good storecupboard staples are canned tomatoes, canned tuna, dry rice, pasta, noodles, pulses (legumes) canned or dried, some wholemeal bread and high-fibre breakfast cereals or oats, olive oil.  Frozen vegetables can be quite handy.  Do invest in some flavourings in the shape of herbs, spices and condiments..... dried basil, garlic bulbs, soy sauce, chilli powder, honey....   Basic, healthy ingredients can taste fantastic with the right seasoning. 

      Good tip... buy mostly things you need to prepare and cook yourself and avoid too many processed or ready-made foods.  Then you'll have a very 'healthy' shopping basket .

      Jul 17, 2012

      Exercise Time Required To Burn Off Your Dessert

      Here is a list of some popular food choices and their corresponding 'punishment' time.
      *1 piece of chocolate cake with icing (1/8 of cake)
      Total Calories: ~250 Total Time Running: 25 minutes
      *1 oz of Doritos Chips (note however, most people do not stop with one ounce)
      Total Calories: ~140 Total Time Running: 15 minutes
      *1/2 cup Ben & Jerry's Ice cream
      Total Calories: ~280 Total Time Biking: 38 minutes
      *2 Twizzlers licorice
      Total Calories: ~150 Total Time Weight Lifting: 25 minutes
      * 1 extra large chocolate bar
      Total Calories: ~500 Total Time Walking: 1 hour 20 minutes
      * 1 slice of Cheesecake
      Total Calories: ~ 400 Total Time Running: 40 minutes
      * 1 Chocolate brownie
      Total Calories: ~350 Total Time Circuit Training: 45 minutes
      * 1 Starbucks Venti Starbucks White Chocolate Frappuccino (no whip cream)
      Total Calories: ~450 Total Time On The Elliptical: 40 minutes
      *1 KFC Double Crunch Sandwich
      Total Calories: ~510 Total Time Cleaning The House: 1 hour 35 minutes
      So as you can see, what will only take a few minutes to consume, could take a large amount of time to burn off in the gym. If you are currently trying to lose weight, then not only would you have to burn off these excess calories but then also burn enough to create a caloric deficit for that day. Weight loss is accomplished by accumulating a large enough deficit over time with most people aiming to create between 250 and 500 calories per day. While you definitely can go over your calorie budget one day, you must make up for it on another day to compensate. Most of the above treats are so large that it would be hard to further reduce 300-600 calories from your diet the next day without risking nutritional health so it isn't the best of ideas.
      If you absolutely must indulge in your favourite treat, try and at least be very strict with yourself in terms of portion control. Don't get into the mindset where you figure since you cheated a little you've entirely blown your diet so you might as well really blow it. That will only set you back even further. Enjoy your small portion and then get right back onto your diet.
      *Note: All exercise times will be approximations and are determined using a 130 pound individual