Fitness Star Kelsey Wells Shows That Even She Gets Belly Bloat


Photo: mysweatlife/Instagram

Kelsey Wells usually shares photos of her six-pack on her Instagram page, but on Monday the fit mom shared a photo of her stomach looking rounded and bloated.

Wells explained that even though she’s super in-shape, she isn’t immune to stomach bloat or stretch marks.

“I try to indulge in moderation, but let’s be honest I’m human and I love food and that doesn’t always happen,” she writes. “I wanted to post this because I have received more than a few questions lately such as, ‘How do you never look bloated?,’ ‘How do you never get zits?,’ and ‘How do you not have stretch marks?’”

Wells posted the photo to show that she does get bloated, and does have stretch marks too (though she explains that they have faded).

“I could give you tips and tricks on how to fight bloating and zits and stretch marks, but I think it’s more important for everyone to realize that these things are totally normal, and nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about,” she continues.

The social media star — who has 609k followers — explains that it’s important to not take images on Instagram so seriously, because they only show a portion of someone’s life.

“Instagram is often a highlight reel of sorts, and there is nothing wrong with focusing on the positive — but it’s so important to keep it real and remember that most [of] the images you see while scrolling (including mine) are people’s ‘best foot forward,’ ” writes Wells. “Of course I want to take photos in good lighting and show my best angles, but I never want that to be misconstrued as saying I don’t have bad ones or never look bloated.”

She concludes with a reminder that “everyone is human” and “everyone is beautiful.”

“The key is to spend less time picking ourselves apart and more time seeing how beautiful, amazing and miraculous our bodies are — bloating, zits, stretch marks and all.”


These 3 Sports May Help You Live Longer, Researchers Say


Photo: Getty Images

Looking for a new hobby? Try tennis, swimming, or dance, and you may just extend your lifespan, suggests research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In an analysis of six sport and exercise categories, researchers found that people who pursued these activities actually lived longer than those who got their fitness on in other ways.

The study surveyed more than 80,000 adults in England and Scotland, ages 30 and up, who were asked about the physical activity they had done in the last four weeks. Along with things like housework and walking, they were also asked about racquet sports (such as badminton, tennis, and squash), swimming, aerobics (including dance and gymnastics), cycling, runningand jogging, and football and rugby.

Participants were followed for about nine years, during which 8,790 people died, including 1,909 from heart disease or stroke. When the researchers compared mortality rates of people who did different sports (after taking into account factors such as age, gender, and medical history) they discovered a few interesting findings.

In the racquet sports category, people who said they’d played in the past four weeks had a 47% lower risk of death from any cause compared to those who hadn’t, as well as a 56% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

People who swam and did aerobics also saw significant benefits compared to those who didn’t: they were 28% and 27% less likely to die from any cause, respectively, and 41% and 36% less likely to die from heart disease and stroke.

Cycling gave participants a 15% lower risk of all-cause death compared to non-cyclists, but didn’t offer protection against heart disease and stroke deaths.

The other sports did not appear to independently protect against death, from any cause or from cardiovascular problems—meaning that mortality rates of those who participated in them were not statistically different from those who didn’t.

There are some caveats, however. For runners and joggers, the researchers did find a 43% lower risk of all-cause death (and a 45% lower risk of cardiovascular death)—but that link disappeared when the results were adjusted for other factors (such as long-term illness, body mass index, drinking and smoking status, and weekly volume of other physical activity).

The relatively small number of deaths in the running group—and the fact that participants were only asked about activities they’d done in the last four weeks—may have skewed results, the researchers say. “It seems, therefore, that while not significant, our result adds to the body of evidence supporting beneficial effects of jogging/running on all-cause and [cardiovascular disease] mortality, rather than contradicting it,” they wrote.

As for football and rugby, only 6.4% of men and 0.3% of women had played these sports in recent weeks. Such a small sample size could explain why no benefit was seen in the study, say the researchers.

Still, the fact that only certain sports showed statistically meaningful benefits is worth investigating further, the researchers say. “Our findings indicate that it’s not only how much and how often, but also what type of exercise you do that seems to make the difference,” said senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, associate professor of exercise, health, and physical activity at the University of Sydney, in a press release.

Of course, doing any type of exercise is still better than none. This is an especially important point, considering that only about 44% of study participants met the national guidelines for physical activity.

And speaking of how much and how often, participants were quizzed about frequency and duration of their exercises. They were also asked whether the activity was enough to make them breathless and sweaty. For some sports, it appeared that the longer and more intense the workouts, the better protection against death. For others, lower intensity seemed to be a better option.

But more research is needed, the authors say, since there weren’t enough deaths for each intensity level to tease out meaningful trends. They also note that the study, as a whole, was only able to prove an association between different sports and longevity—and not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.


Is It Possible to Be Too Flexible?


Can you actually be too flexible? It depends. Some people are just naturally bendier than others. Flexibility, in general, comes down to the range of motion of your joints and the elasticity of your muscles and connective tissues. Your muscles and some connective tissues are malleable and can lengthen and become more flexible if you stretch regularly. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be, say, a yogi who is becoming more lithe, if you’ve been working at your flexibility safely.

On the other hand, joints are stabilized by tendons and ligaments, both of which are not very elastic and can become injured if you overstretch them. If you try to force tendons and ligaments beyond their range of motion, the joint has less and less support and becomes unstable, which can lead to injury. One sign that you’re putting too much stress on a joint while stretching (and, in turn, potentially overstretching the surrounding support) is if there is any sensation—pain, tightness—inside the joint itself.

Some people have naturally hypermobile joints—which may put them at a long-term risk of arthritic changes due to wear and tear on the cartilage. If you’re hyperextended, it’s important to strength train to build up the muscles surrounding your joints, in order to stabilize them.

In rare cases, hypermobility can be a sign of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that affect the connective tissues. The most severe forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can weaken the aorta and the arteries to the kidneys and spleen—so if you’re experiencing symptoms (others include translucent or stretchy skin or skin that bruises easily or doesn’t seem to heal properly after a cut), you should get checked out by an MD.


7 Functional Movement Patterns Trainers Want You to Master


Squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, twist, and walk: These make up the seven movement patterns that your body relies on to get ish done every day. And not just during a workout. Think about how you pull a box off a shelf, squat down to pick something up, or walk around all day.

But these movements have deeper roots in our wellbeing, says holistic coach and certified strength and conditioning specialist Jator Pierre, CSCS. To get the full picture, you’ve got to go back—way back. “If you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, we’d have to use all of these movement patterns to survive,” he says. Lunging to hunt, squatting to make a fire, or pushing to throw a spear. Today, life looks, well, very different. You probably spend much of your day hunched over at your desk, which compromises your ability to perform these very movement patterns.

“If you can’t perform these movements correctly, your body thinks you have a lower ability to survive,” explains Pierre. Obviously, that’s not the case any longer. No one is asking you to spear your dinner when you could just get Whole Foods hot bar tonight. Still, because your body hasn’t yet caught up to modern day times, the inability to correctly move boosts stress—and thus inflammation. So, yeah, it’s a big deal.

There’s no time like the present to get these movement patterns on point. How do you fare? Try the seven self-assessment tests below, plus get tips to help you step your game up.

7 Functional Movement Patterns to Master STAT

1. Squat

Test Yourself: Lower into a squat, hips back, knees tracking over ankles and heels planted on the ground. Ideally, you would be able to lower into a full squat with your hips almost touching your heels. If you feel joint restriction as you go down, you may have a musculoskeletal imbalance, like tight calves.
Make It Better: Put a stability ball behind your back against a wall for support and lower down (it should feel pain-free). Also, tell yourself to “sit” instead of “squat,” which can help you maintain the right position throughout the move. (Also check out these seven tips to improve strength, depth and mobility in your squat.)

2. Lunge

Test Yourself: For the forward lunge, step forward with one foot and bend your back knee until it’s almost touching the ground. Are your knees and ankles stable—or are they shaking around? Does your knee drop in or out away from your body? Are you hunched over and unable to hold your chest or head up? Those are all indications that something is wrong with your lunge.
Make It Better: Watch yourself in a mirror to look for the deficiencies above, and practice lowering only half way down. Once you’ve mastered that, you can practice the bottom half of the movement—then put it all together. Also, be sure to stretch tight hamstrings, glutes and calves on the regular. (For starters, here are 15 stretches you should do every day.)

3. Push

Test Yourself: Get into a push-up position, lower your body to the ground and push back up. If you crunch over (head jutting out and shoulders rounding over) or your lower back sags, that’s a sign of lack of stability in your core and weakness in the stabilizing muscles of your back and pelvis.
Make It Better: First, work on holding high plank position (the top of your push-up) to build strength and stability. (When in doubt, check out these form tips.) From there, you can progress to a variety of push-up modifications—from wall push-ups to knee push-ups—before moving on to your toes.

Photo: Twenty204. Pull

Test Yourself: Now, for the ultimate bodyweight challenge: the pull-up. Find a bar at the gym and try a pull-up (palms facing out) or chin-up (palms facing in). Chances are, if strength isn’t an issue, this movement will reveal some postural issues, too. “People tend to go into a dysfunctional posture,” says Pierre. That means at the top of the movement, shoulders are forward, spine is rounded, head is tucked in. (Not too different than what poor posture looks like seated at your desk.) This, to say the least, is the wrong mechanics, and it can reinforce this “hunching” position in your everyday life. Not only can that contribute to back pain, it can also inhibit breathing.
Make It Better: Start with other pulling exercises to build strength. For example, do horizontal bar reverse pulls (also called an inverted row). Using a bar that’s close to the ground, lie under the bar with feet straight out in front of you. Grab the bar and pull your chest up to the bar.

5. Hinge

Test Yourself: It’s one of the toughest movements to master, but for that reason it can be the most rewarding. Grab a weighted bar or a dumbbell in each hand and attempt a deadlift (here’s how). Your feet should be wider than shoulder-distance apart as you hinge forward from your hips with a straight back to pull the weight up from the floor. Many people perform this with straight legs, but your knees should be bent 15 to 20 degrees in order for glutes to turn on and support your pelvis and spine, says Pierre. If you don’t feel this move fire up your glutes, your knees aren’t bent enough. It can also reveal a muscle imbalance, most commonly too-strong quads and weak glutes.
Make It Better: Start by practicing hip extensions on the floor (get on your hands and knees and raise one leg up behind you) to build up glute strength. These five glute bridge variations are also worth working into your routine.

6. Twist

Test Yourself: To assess your trunk rotation, start with a bodyweight wood chop. Stand with feet a bit further than shoulder width apart, bending knees slightly and keeping your chest up. Lift arms diagonally across your body toward the ceiling and bring them down to the opposite side of the body. Look at your ankles: Are they stable with feet flat on the floor or does the ball of your foot roll up? Can you maintain proper posture (chest up, spine straight) throughout the move? Do you feel any pain? (You shouldn’t.) If any of these issues rear their ugly heads, a rotational deficiency is likely to blame.
Make It Better: First, go for a lateral ball roll. Lay with your back on a stability ball with feet wide on the ground, holding a very lightweight bar across your chest. Take one step to the right with your right leg and step in with your left (you should roll slightly to your right). Repeat on the left side. If you feel the stabilizer muscles in your core light up, you’re doing it right.

7. Gait

Test Yourself: Sure, you walk every day—but how’s your posture while you do it? Is your head pushing forward from your collarbones? Are your shoulders rounded forward? Walk forward in front of a mirror. Does one foot flare out to the side just a bit? Or do your hips shake from side-to-side (particularly when you run)? That can signal an imbalance, a problem with hip mobility or a dysfunction in your core.
Make It Better: Awareness is half the battle with this one. As you move through space, draw your attention to bringing your shoulders back, chest up and feet pointed forward with each step.

Making Every Movement Count

Since these essential movement patterns have such deep roots in your health and how you feel every day, Pierre suggests going back to the basics. He recommends Paul Chek’s book, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! because it provides additional tests you can take, such as a stretching and core test. By relearning how to move properly, not only will you help protect your body from injury, you’ll take strides toward reducing undue stress and inflammation. We’ve only got one body—so why not make moves to treat it right?


Why Crawling Is the Ultimate Total-Body Exercise


Photo: Getty Images

When you think of crawling, you probably think of adorable little rugrats. But according to Mayo Clinic physical therapist Danielle Johnson, crawling is an essential move for grown-ups too.

She actually does it every day—and she’s not alone. Health and fitness experts are ravingabout the benefits of crawling, and other so-called fundamental movements.

Squatting, jumping, running, hanging, balancing—they all fall into the same category. Essentially, fundamental movements are things we master as kids, but stop doing as we age. And that’s a shame because these activities engage our muscles in perfectly natural ways.

Despite the recent buzz, crawling and other “natural” exercises shouldn’t be considered a fad or the latest craze, says Johnson. “Instead, they’re a return to some of the most fundamental fitness patterns.” Below, she gives three more reasons to join the rugrats.

Crawling tones all over

It engages your calves, quads, glutes, shoulder girdle, deep abdominal muscles, and muscles in your hips and feet. There are multiple variations on the basic form, too, says Johnson. Aside from crawling on your hands and knees, you can crawl on your hands and toes, or even facing up, in a crab crawl. No matter which type you choose, you’ll be working your whole body.

Crawling builds strength for real life

Unlike many traditional fitness moves, crawling actually involves moving—and that’s important. Compare it to the classic plank, for example. Plank is a great way to engage your core, but it’s not something you ever do in the course of an average day. “It’s not as applicable to real life,” says Johnson. “In real life, we move.”

That’s one reason she’s been using crawling and other fundamental movements with her PT clients for years: “Getting our bodies to move through full ranges of motion, and getting them to stabilize and hold a movement, is protective against back and shoulder pain.”

What’s more, crawling and other fundamental movements “can help us feel well and whole,” she says. While running on a treadmill is great cardio, being able to support your weight is just as important.  “If you can run a six-minute mile, but you can’t play around with your kids because you’re unable to squat down or climb with them, is your fitness regime [helping you] do the things you ultimately want to do?” says Johnson.

“I do [fundamental movements] every single day because I really believe [they] will protect my body as I get older, and let me continue to do the things I love doing,” she says.

You don’t need a gym to crawl

Johnson doesn’t like to label crawling a “workout”—because it’s not something that has to be done at the gym, or during a scheduled block of time. You can crawl around any time (say, when you’re playing with your dog or cat on the floor).

This goes for other fundamental movements too: “I always tell people that they can integrate jumping, running, hanging, climbing, or crawling into a very effective workout, but they can also just be done at home,” says Johnson. “If you have 10 minutes in your day to get on the floor and crawl, or work on your mobility—even just by jumping up your stairs—it can have tremendous protective value on your body.”

Of course, not every activity is for everybody. Modifications can be made to most fundamental movements, but it’s best to skip anything that causes pain. “Listen to your body and make sure that it feels good to you,” says Johnson. And if your doctor has advised you to avoid certain types of exercise, check with her before you try a new activity, she adds.

To learn more about fundamental movements, check out this video from the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program.


5 Streaming Workout Programs You Can Add to Your Amazon Prime Membership


Getting in shape from home is easier than ever with subscription services that let you stream workouts from your TV, smartphone, or tablet—and five of these services are available as affordable add-ons to an Amazon Prime membership. (And you thought free two-day shipping and Transparent were the only reasons to subscribe to Prime!)

Each of the five channels has a unique mission, and targets different types of exercisers. You can try before you buy with a seven-day free trial—or you can read about my experience testing out one class from each channel.

Acacia TV

The first add-on subscription I tried was AcaciaTV ($6.99 per month), which offers a massive number of videos broken down into a diverse set of categories: Interval Training, Pilates, Cardio, Core, and Dance, to name a few. The videos can also be broken down by ability level. Within each category there are a number of different classes that vary by instructor and type.

For my first class, I chose Body Weight Strength Training for Beginners. The class wasn’t nearly as easy as the “beginner” rating would lead you to believe— I was sweating in the first five minutes. But the trainer was precise, clear, and encouraging, making the experience feel as engaging as a fitness class you’d take in person at a studio or gym. But unlike a typical class, we didn’t use any weights or gym equipment. Instead, the instructor took advantage of things everyone has at home, like a chair, to assist with exercises. By the end of the half-hour session, I felt the burn in every part of my body, and realized it’s definitely possible to get an equally tough workout from a video as an in-person group class.

BeFit TV

After a great experience with my first video workout class, I was pumped to try the next subscription option: BeFit TV, which costs $6.99 per month. I’ll be honest, though—I wasn’t so crazy about the one class I tried: Brazilian Booty Burn. It had a Zumba feel to it, with an extremely energetic instructor. The class got my blood flowing, sure, but when I take a dance cardio class, I want to feel like I’m getting a challenging cardio workout. This class mostly consisted of hip and butt movement (and, to be honest, I was nervous my roommate would walk in and wonder why I was swinging my hips around in front of the TV), and it never really got my heart pumping fast.

All that said, there are plenty of other exercise categories available on BeFit TV. In fact, it has a much more robust selection of categories than Acacia TV, including Cardio, Abs & Core, Dance Fitness, Body Sculpting & Strength, HIIT, Pilates & Barre, 10 Minutes or Less, and Beginner Workouts. Basically, there’s something for everyone—and there’s a good chance that I just hit a stroke of bad luck with the one class I tested.


The next subscription I downloaded, Gaia ($9.95 per month), was very different from the first two I tried. The only exercise videos offered are yoga and Pilates, but it also has guided meditations and documentaries. Categories include Inspirational Movies, Health & Longevity, seeking truth, 5-20 Minute Workouts, and 30-60 Minute Workouts.

I tried Gaia’s Yoga Everyday class, which placed more emphasis on spirituality than fitness. I finished my class feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

iIf you’re looking for a variety of fitness content and at-home workouts, I’d definitely skip Gaia. But if you want to participate in meditative practices and learn more about health and wellness, it’s the perfect program.

Grokker Yoga + Fitness

The following week I downloaded Grokker Yoga + Fitness ($6.99 per month), which focuses on both fitness and nutrition, with simple categories like Yoga, HIIT, and Healthy Eating. I loved that unlike the other subscriptions, Grokker offers more than just workouts—it also has healthy food and cooking videos.

I was immediately drawn to the food videos because of the many interesting recipes they featured, such as almond acai balls, Korean soft tacos, quinoa muffins, and gluten-free crepes. I decided to try out a recipe for zucchini pasta with basil sauce. After gathering all the ingredients, I flew through the video with ease, since the instructor was so clear with directions. I actually enjoyed the cooking process and the zoodles turned out delicious!

As a twenty-something trying to learn how to cook more nutritious and fun dinners, I was a big fan of this subscription. That said, I think Grokker is also a great option for people of any age looking to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. It’s not a personalized plan by any means, but the combo of healthy eats and consistent workouts is a recipe for success.

FitFusion TV

The last add-on subscription I tried was FitFusion TV ($4.99 per month), which offers hundreds of exercise videos from fitness superstars like Jillian Michaels. The videos are grouped by the celeb instructors, as well as categories like 10 Minutes or Less, 15-30 Minute Workouts, and 30-60 Minute Workouts.

Although this subscription doesn’t offer as much video variety as BeFit, Acacia TV, and Grokker, the fact that Michaels is featured makes up for it, in my opinion. I tried her “One Week Shred” class, which proved to be the classic high-intensity Michaels workout I was craving. It was only 20 minutes long, but the heart-pumping cardio and Michaels’ patented tough-but-encouraging demeanor left me sweating through my shirt and feeling the burn in all of my leg muscles (even ones I didn’t realize I had!).

The subscription also features a section of Tae Bo workouts—a unique combination of boxing and tae kwon do, created and taught by fitness guru Billy Blanks. Tae Bo was a huge fitness fad in the ’90s, but these workouts really do work up a sweat. So if you want to try a throwback workout, there are plenty of classes available, taught by Blanks himself.


The Best Quick Workouts You Can Do in Just 60 Seconds


Photo: Getty Images

We get it: Sometimes you just don’t have enough time in the day for a 60-minute spin class or lengthy session at the gym. The good news, though, is that you can still work up a sweat even if you’re traveling or having a crazed week at work. These super-quick moves from Alonzo Wilson, founder and director of training at Tone House in New York City, are designed to deliver maximum calorie burn in a short amount of time (think: less than a minute) so you can fit in a workout even on your busiest days. And as an added bonus, each of these challenging HIIT-inspired exercises can be done right in your living room and don’t require any gear. Do just one or complete them in a sequence.

High Knees

For this move, simply run in place quickly, bringing right knee toward chest (A), then left knee (B). Continue for 60 seconds.

Butt Kicks

Run in place, kicking right heel up toward butt (A), followed by left heel (B). Continue for 60 seconds.

Hand-Release Push-Ups

Lie facedown; extend arms out (A). Pull hands in toward armpits (B), then place on floor near chest. Press up into a push-up (C). Lower back to “A” and repeat for 60 seconds.

Plank to Tuck Jump

From plank (A), bring left knee toward chest (B); return to plank. Jump legs forward into a squat (C). Jump up, bringing knees toward chest (D). Land in squat, then jump out to plank. Repeat move with right leg and continue for 60 seconds.

Pin all of these workouts for later:



Power Yoga: Is it Really Worth the Hype?

Power Yoga: Is it Really Worth the Hype?In the words of Yogacharya Anoop of the Chaitanya Foundation, the traditional form of yoga focuses on correcting and strengthening the nervous system in order to benefit the body. Edit out the pauses, the breaks and trim down the necessity to hold a posture and you get Power Yoga. The practice entails doing asanas back-to-back, without stopping.

“The traditional form of yoga requires you to focus on breathing and holding a posture for a number of breaths. This not only affects the nervous system but has an impact on your hormones as well. Traditional yogic practice aims at cleaning and fixing the body inside out. Power Yoga, on the other hand, focuses on the exterior – weight-loss and muscle build up. It is fast paced, pumps up your heart rate, induces sweating and therefore facilitates rapid weight drop,” noted Yogacharya Anoop, Chaitanya Foundation, Mediyoga.
surya namaskar step 1 2 3

It is often believed that Power Yoga gives little importance to breathing, which would be a grave misconception. A leading Delhi based yoga expert, Seema Sondhi explains that breathing always remains at the core of all yogic practices.

surya namaskar equestrian pose

“Whether traditional or its power variant, yoga is always performed in sync with your breathing. It is a simple mechanism of exhaling and inhaling while getting in and out of a posture. Power Yoga need not be fast paced. You can just increase the number of repetitions or play around with the duration you hold a pose for and it turns into a dynamic activity,” she noted. Essentially, all forms of yoga are associated with enhancing flexibility, reducing stress, weight-loss, and muscle strengthening. Power Yoga is just a way to bring together the many yogic postures and design them in a way to render a cardio, sweat-breaking effect.

surya namaskar 5 stick pose
The simple idea behind the concept of Power Yoga is to create heat in the body. Along with increasing the reps and the intensity of each pose, it is teamed with the practice of ujjai breathing. Alternatively know as glottis breathing, Ujjai breathing is a technique wherein you exhale filling up your belly first followed by the lower rib cage, the upper chest and finally the throat. It creates heat in the body and facilitates weight-loss.
surya namaskar 6
Surya namaskar pranayam or the Sun Salutation is usually the most practiced posture in a Power Yoga class. It is a series of asanas which when done in repetition can leave you gasping for breath. “When you attend a Power Yoga class you can ideally expect a series of various yoga poses tied together and done one after the other to exercise the entire body, Surya namaskar is definitely the standard posture all across. In fact, Power Yoga comprises a tailor-made routine of postures to suit different body types and requirements,” Mangesh Trivedi, Vedic Power Yoga, Delhi.
step 7 of surya namaskar
Besides Suryan amaskar, practicing the Warrior poses one after the other also make for a great Power Yoga routine.

step 8 of surya namaskar
Power Yoga can be termed as a dynamic activity that brings together traditional yoga and amps it up to suit contemporary preferences. “This practice is good for muscle build up as we work with our own body weight. It is great to tone the body; however, it doesn’t come with the relaxing and calming effects of traditional yoga,” noted Anju Kalhan, a Delhi based yoga expert.
step 9 of surya namaskar
Never forget to warm up before beginning your session. Cooling down is equally important. Stretch your body to ensure releasing lactic acid formulation and alleviate muscle soreness. Get in touch with a certified yoga expert to know what suits your body the best.

E-Cigarettes a ‘Major Public Health Concern’: US Surgeon General

E-Cigarettes a 'Major Public Health Concern': US Surgeon General

E-cigarette use is exploding among young people and is now “a major public health concern,” the US Surgeon General warned Thursday, sparking disagreement from experts in Britain where the devices are seen more favorably.

The battery-powered devices heat a liquid containing nicotine into a vapor that is inhaled, and some experts worry that a new generation of smokers is becoming addicted.

About one in six US high school students say they have used e-cigarettes in the past month.
“E-cigarette use has increased considerably in recent years, growing an astounding 900 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, in a preface to the report.

“These products are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, surpassing conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and hookahs.”

Murthy said the dangers of e-cigarettes include nicotine, which “can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.”

For young people, nicotine use in any form is unsafe, said the report, which was written and reviewed by more than 150 experts.

It also said the secondhand aerosol that is exhaled into the air by e-cigarette users can expose others to potentially harmful chemicals.

But Murthy admitted to “gaps in scientific evidence” when it comes to the dangers of e-cigarettes.

“For example, the health effects and potentially harmful doses of heated and aerosolized constituents of e-cigarette liquid — including solvents, flavorants, and toxicants — are not completely understood,” he said.

“However, although e-cigarettes generally emit fewer toxicants than combustible tobacco products, we know that aerosol from e-cigarettes is not harmless.”

He urged greater federal regulations, raising and enforcing minimum age of sale laws, and media campaigns to educate the public on the harms of e-cigarettes.

– Opposing views –

The report contained no new scientific research, but could still serve as an “important document for healthcare providers, policy makers and others,” said Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health in New York.
Experts in Britain, however, questioned the US take on e-cigarettes as a threat.

“The position in the UK is very different,” said Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England.

“Our review of the evidence found e-cigarette use carries a fraction of the risk of smoking, a conclusion reiterated by the Royal College of Physicians earlier this year,” he said.

“No new evidence has been published to contradict this.”

And multiple studies have shown that e-cigarettes may help traditional smokers abandon cigarettes.

Research released earlier this year by the University College London showed that e-cigarettes may have helped some 18,000 smokers in England kick the tobacco habit last year.

Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, described vaping as “a great public health opportunity” because it can help smokers transition away from cigarettes.

“The new US report’s conclusions do not tally with what the actual data show,” he added.

“It is simply not true that e-cigarettes are a tobacco product or that vaping lures children to smoking or that it creates dependence in non-smokers.”

Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, disagreed, saying teens will transition to smoking cigarettes after using e-cigarettes.

“The gateway to cigarette smoking may still be the e-cigarette, and there is no safe level of traditional smoking.”

Worldwide, smoking kills around six million people each year, mostly in low-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Control High Blood Pressure With These 5 Everyday Foods

Control High Blood Pressure With These 5 Everyday Foods

Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle diseases today, with every fifth person we meet suffering from it. A critical step in preventing and treating high blood pressure is making the right lifestyle choices. These lifestyle changes can help reduce your blood pressure along with the use of prescribed medications.

Many of us become excessively dependent on allopathic medicines, which can have side effects if taken in the long term. Instead, a holistic approach to wellness and comprehensive coaching can ensure you a better quality of life. A little attention towards what you eat can help you regulate your system beneficially.

Common causes or contributing factors of hyper tension or high blood pressure are obesity, genetic factors, excessive drinking, high salt intake, lack of exercise, stress, birth control pills, pain relievers, kidney disease and adrenal disease. Blood pressure generally is higher in the winter and lower in the summer. That’s because low temperatures cause your blood vessels to become narrow, which increases blood pressure as more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries.

People already suffering from high blood pressure or on the border line need to work harder to keep the level in check. You should always opt for natural remedies that can help reduce or control blood pressure. Note: always consult a doctor before changing or altering your medicines.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Lemon

Lemon is one of the best remedies for hypertension. It is known to make the blood vessels soft and flexible, lowering blood pressure level. Lemon contains high amounts of Vitamin C, which acts as an anti-oxidant, removing free radicals from the body. High triglyceride level can affect the liver and lead to weight gain, which may affect your blood pressure. Lemon juice is known to lower the triglyceride level and is thus beneficial for individuals suffering from hypertension. Lemon juice also lowers cholesterol. It is a mild diuretic and hence drinking lemon juice regularly is advisable.

2. Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds contain a compound called cucurbocitrin, which helps widen the blood capillaries. At the same time, it also helps improve kidney functioning. This in turn reduces blood pressure levels and helps a lot with arthritis.

How to use:
Grind equal quantities of dried watermelon seeds and poppy seeds (khuskhus). Take one teaspoon of this mixture in the morning on an empty stomach and again in the evening.
Alternatively, add two teaspoons of gently crushed, dried watermelon seeds to one cup of boiled water. Steep it for about an hour, and then strain it. Take four tablespoons of this water at regular intervals throughout the day.

3. Garlic

Both raw and cooked garlic help control high blood pressure and at the same time reduce cholesterol levels. Garlic helps relax blood vessels by stimulating the production of nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide.
How to use:
Eat one or two crushed garlic cloves daily. You can simply crush them with your hands. Crushing garlic cloves releases hydrogen sulfide, a compound that promotes good blood flow. It removes gas and reduces the pressure on the heart. If you do not like eating raw garlic or if it causes a burning sensation, then take it along with a cup of milk.
You can also mix five or six drops of garlic juice in four teaspoons of water and take it twice a day.

4. Banana

Banana is one fruit that people with high blood pressure can eat regularly to control it. Banana is a rich source of potassium, which lessens the effect of sodium. So, try to eat one or two bananas daily. Along with bananas, you can try dried apricots, raisins, currants, orange juice, spinach, zucchini, baked sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and winter squash.


5. Celery

The high level of the phytochemical 3-N-butylphthalide present in celery greatly helps control high blood pressure. Phthalates help relax the muscles in and around the arterial walls, thereby creating more space and allowing the blood to flow in without difficulty. At the same time; it can help reduce the stress hormones that constrict blood vessels, which contributes to high blood pressure.

How to use:

Try to eat one stalk of celery along with a glass of water daily. If you prefer, you can munch on celery throughout the day.


What you eat brings a huge difference to your body. Adopt a healthier lifestyle as opposed to going on diets or starving the body. Consult a health and wellness coach who can help you transform your life by facilitating changes in your lifestyle that will help in controlling hypertension. Lifestyle modifications are essential. Small lifestyle choices go a long way in maintaining long term good health.