Regulating Calories-In Is More Important Than Calories-Out

The idea of Calories-In versus Calories-Out involves the calories you consume through your mouth versus how much you consume through basic metabolism and physical exercise. Your basic metabolism is the energy (in calories) that your body needs to function, eg. keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing and your cells functioning. The amount of energy your body needs to stay alive will depend on your age, gender and weight. But overall, the amount and type of energy you feed your body is more important than how much energy your body is expending.

If you eat more than your body requires then you will put on weight in the form of fat, which is the way the body stores extra energy. If you overeat by 500 calories every day you will slowly notice your waistline increase over the space of only a few years and your clothes will no longer fit you the same way.

Portion sizes have been slowly getting larger and larger over the years. I find that I can only eat half a serving from a restaurant, then I take the leftovers home to enjoy later. Remember, your stomach is about the size of your closed fist. You don’t want to keep forcing more and more food in there even after it is full.

When we do get physically active, we often overestimate the amount of calories burned from exercise. A walk around the block won’t burn off that Mars Bar. Either eat the Mars Bar or don’t. But whatever your choice, do it mindfully.

We also forget how many calories are provided by the alcohol you drink and the empty calories in the store-bought snack foods that are designed to make us keep eating. These are called Ultra-processed foods and I have written about them previously in my post: Food For Life: The Best Way To Feed Your Body

However the type of calories you provide your body will also affect the function of your organs.

For example, when you overload your bloodstream with sugar your pancreas will work overtime to bring your blood sugar levels back to a stable concentration. If your pancreas has to work so hard that it becomes impaired and breaks down, then you get Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes is the inability to regulate your blood sugar levels from within your own body.

The brain requires sugar for it to function. When you’re hungry your brain is low on sugar and it’s screaming for a quick fix. But you must use your common sense. Feed your brain foods that will break down slowly into sugars. These are called Low GI foods. The GI stands for glycemic index, which is the relative amount of time it takes for the food to raise your blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are those made of complex carbohydrates because carbohydrate molecules are just long chains of sugars stuck together. The body uses energy to break the molecules down in to sugars. High GI foods are made of sugars that are easily broken down by the body and will quickly increase the level of sugar in your blood.

To avoid overloading your organs with high concentrations of sugar you have to be mindful of what you feed your body.

You know what they say, “You are what you eat”.

Your diet can be whatever you want it to be. But be aware that what you consume will be processed by your organs.

The diet that is most suited for humans is one made up of mostly plants, some meat, and very small amounts of everything else. You want to make sure you have a diet containing various sources of fibre. The body requires a range of vitamin and trace minerals which are present in different food types. So eating the exact same meals day in and day out is not a good idea, even if they are healthy meals.

A study of a remote South American tribe indicates that a diet low in salt and fat, but rich in multiple sources of fibre, protects the heart from increased blood pressure. The study compared the blood pressure of the members from a nearby tribe that has been influenced by western foods and found that blood pressure increased with age.

Calorie deficit diet for weight loss

There’s nothing wrong with a curvy figure, but you do want to reduce the toll on your bones and joints by reducing the load they have to carry. More strain on your bones and joints will lead to osteoarthritis which will cause pain for you when you walk and try to get about your day. A calorie deficit diet basically means you’re eating less than the amount your body needs to function. If you do this in a healthy way, as directed by your doctor, then it will lead to weight loss. You will stop losing weight when you stop restricting the number of calories that you consume.

Calorie restriction diet to extend lifespan

There is some contention in the scientific community as to whether this calorie restriction diet extends lifespan as the controls of the experiments are difficult to, well, control and a lot of the experiments were done on mice instead of humans. The basic idea is that overall you want to consume less than the amount your body usually needs to live but you don’t need to restrict your consumption every day in a row. Some people like to do short fasts for their health, other people fast for religion. Either way, it appears that short lengths of fasting have a beneficial effect on our health. Sometimes you might have a day where you treat yourself and consume all of the calories in sight. But these calorific days can be balanced out with a more modest intake on the other days of the week. If that suits your personality type of course!

Some people are unable to moderate their intake due to their personality and relationship with food.

Your own mental health can have a huge impact on how you interact with food. Be mindful of this so that you can have awareness and control over your health.

If you are unable to open a block of chocolate without finishing the entire packet then, for your health, it’s safer not to have that block of chocolate in the house unless you’re allowing yourself a rare treat.

If you are consuming a 6 pack of beer every night after work then you are basically eating an extra meal every day. But those calories aren’t keeping your body healthy.

Recognise your feelings towards food and why you are making the food choices that you are making. Think first before feeding yourself, your health is at stake…..mmmmmm steak.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope this post is helpful to you and your family.

Please visit my Youtube Channel for more health and science from me, Queeenvk.

With Age Comes Balding

Almost all of us will experience balding in some way, whether we watch someone else struggle with losing their hair or we go through it ourselves. There are many types of hair loss but I want to discuss balding as we age, also known as male and female pattern balding or androgenic alopecia.

Why is it called male/female pattern balding?

Age-related balding happens in a specific pattern in men and women. The pattern of balding is how you diagnose balding and determine whether it’s age-related balding or if it is caused by something else such as fungal infection or medications. Females normally have balding or thinning from the centre part of the scalp and males lose hair from the temples or crown.

Diagram showing balding from the temples to give the classic widow’s peak. Image source.

What causes balding from age?

Androgens are a type of hormone in the body that are responsible for controlling the male characteristics in both males and females. The word androgen is made up of the latin words for man (andro-) and generator (-gen). Testosterone is an androgen that is made in the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands and it is found in high concentrations in males but in low concentrations in females.

The body converts testosterone into other forms, ie. metabolises the testosterone, with different enzymes depending on which part of the body it is in, the age of the body and also the gender of that body. There isn’t enough known about how the different types of testosterone products interact with the process of making hair follicles in men and women but we do know that no matter how much testosterone you have or don’t have, balding ultimately comes down to your genes.

It’s genetic!

As we age our hair follicles become weaker and produce weaker, thinner, more brittle hair. Then eventually the hair follicle dies and no longer produces hair. People with relatives who experience male pattern baldness are more likely to also experience male pattern baldness themselves.

There is no cure

There are topical treatments for balding to prevent and/or reduce hair loss. These treatments have limited success due to the lack of knowledge regarding the metabolism of testosterone between individuals.

The best way to deal with balding in your life is to assess your own self esteem and feelings of self worth.

Also consider how you feel when you look at a person who is showing signs of balding. Remember that the way you perceive yourself is very different to the way others perceive you. When you look in the mirror be gentle to the friend in the reflection. You are a beautiful person no matter how many working hair follicles you have.

Stay healthy and safe. Reply in the comments with your suggestions for a specific health topic you would like me to cover.

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The Short and Long Term Effects Of Laughter

You know it feels so good to have a long and intense belly laugh but what is really happening in your body when you laugh?

There are both physical and emotional effects on the body and mind when we laugh. You may have even heard of laughter therapy which encourages forced laughter and also uses humour to reduce feelings of stress and depression.

Scientific research on the effects of laughter indicate that laughter from tickling even forced laughter has a lasting benefit on the body. So whether you’re laughing with someone or just releasing some pent up emotion, the act of laughing will help you to feel better.

Some Short and long term health benefits of laughter:

  • Enhances cardiovascular function by improving blood-flow through our vasculature system.
  • Strengthens immune and endocrine systems by lowering levels of the stress hormones in our body such as cortisol and adrenaline. Ongoing low levels of stress can cause cortisol levels to remain in the system for extended periods, laughter can help reduce stress and cortisol levels.
  • Laughing together with someone else is more rewarding that laughing at them and it promotes a feeling of togetherness. Laughter occurs in many animals too. It is understood that laughter helps to strengthens social bonds between humans and animals alike.
  • Massages and exercises the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm. Like a very gentle workout.
  • Feels like a physical release similar to crying or screaming but makes you feel good
  • Feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine are released both during laughter and smiling. The brain will respond by providing you with happiness hormones even if you force yourself to smile. Amazing!
  • Improves your sense of humour and outlook on difficult situations.

There are many physical and mental benefits of laughter and science is revealing more and more of them as we incorporate MRI and other technology in our research worldwide.

Thank you so much for reading. Stay happy and keep smiling.

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The Science Behind Changing Your Bed Sheets

The bacteria that live in our world are existing and trying to survive, to pass their genes onto the next generations, just like the rest of us. Even though we can’t see them, they’re growing and multiplying but we don’t notice them because they aren’t immediately causing us any harm.

The micro environment existing between the sheets:

Dust mites and bacteria thrive in dark, musty environments, so it’s important to let sunlight and fresh air into your bedroom regularly. It also helps to wait an hour before making your bed in the morning, so that any residual warmth and moisture can dissipate from the mattress before you cover it up again.

How Often Do You Change Your Sheets?

Once a week is the best way to go if you sleep in the one bed every night. You can stretch it to two weeks if you don’t use that same bed for the entire week. Some people need to change their sheets more often than one week but that will depend on your personal lifestyle and biological makeup.

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below to suggest more science health tips from me, QueeenVK. And subscribe to my YouTube Channel for an extra dose of science.

Prevent Hemorrhoids And Reduce Constipation

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, normally show up as painful bumps around the outside of the anus. They are actually veins that have become swollen and inflamed and are often caused by straining when you’re on the toilet. So the first thing you can do to avoid causing yourself the discomfort and inconvenience of having piles is to avoid straining and constipation.

How do I avoid straining while sitting on the toilet?

In western culture we only have sitting toilets available for us to do our number twos. In Eastern countries they use squatting toilets more commonly than the sitting down type. Squatting toilets allow the bowel movement to pass more quickly due to the shape of the anal passage. When sitting, you constrict the flow of this passage so that the waste product (your poop) has a harder time travelling out of your colon and into the toilet. This is what causes us to strain more, creating pressure on the blood vessels, and therefore potentially cause ourselves to form hemorrhoids in and around the anal passage.

To improve your posture when on a sitting toilet you can elevate your knees with a small step or rock forward when pushing out. This will reduce the time you need to spend on the toilet straining as the waste will flow out more readily.

Another massive health tip you should always remember:

Don’t try to force out your poop. Wait until it is ready to come out. Remember Cardi B’s catchy chorus: If it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s stuck.

How Regular Is “Regular”?

You don’t need to do a poop every day. Your body doesn’t work that way!! A normal number of poops for humans is about 3 per day to 1 every 3 days. If you’re doing more than 3 a day you have diarrhea, and less than once every 3 days you might have constipation. But you definitely DON’T need to force it once a day. Let your body process the different types and amounts of food that you feed it. Let it do its thing and you’ll be fine.

How do I prevent constipation?

  • Move all stool in one go to avoid compaction.
  • Eat prunes and obtain fibre from multiple food sources so that you have various fibre types cleaning out your bowels. And remember to drink water too!
  • Walking helps mobilise your bowels. Go for a gentle stroll or a nice brisk powerwalk.
  • While lying down massage belly a clockwise motion. This is the direction that your intestines work so you don’t want to massage it the wrong direction and push the waste back up. You want to gentle push it in the right direction, so that it is excreted out of your body.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope this helps you in your day to day life so that you feel less stress and have more control over your health.

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Crafting People Are Happy People

How good is it to just sit back for a relaxing crafternoon (crafting in the afternoon)? It feels so rewarding when we finish a project and stand back to admire our handiwork, so it is no surprise to hear that there are emotional and neurological benefits of learning a new skill and letting your creativity loose.

Scientific research shows that crafting lowers stress and can help reduce feelings of anxiety. Levels of the stress-hormone cortisol decreases during and after performing creative craft activities.

While you’re crafting you are connecting to the present world around you instead of being stuck in the worries of the past or future. Your brain power is taken up by something far more productive and useful for your health. Some people use art as a therapeutic or meditative process to clear and calm the mind.

Inventing new ideas and exploring old ones in a different way can be so rewarding. It brings on those feelings of self accomplishment as well as expanding your mind to see new perspectives.

You’ve probably heard that doing crossword puzzles staves off dementia by helping keep the brain active. Basically, when you don’t use it – you lose it, so if you’re making new connections in your brain you’re keeping it active. Whether your hobby is crossword puzzles or creating a new piece of art, you are keeping those neural connections in working order.

There are many different types of crafts that are available for you to try. Find one that resonates with you and practice it, letting your mind flow with creativity.

My favourite craft at the moment is crochet. It took me a bit of practice, but once I got the hang of it, it just clicked for me. The repeating movements are quite soothing, as long as you take breaks to rest your hands! Here are some of my previous posts related to crochet crafts.

Here is a list of some other crafts you might like to try, maybe there are some you’ve always wanted to try or maybe you will find something new that you never considered before:

Origami/paper art

Painting

Sewing/needlework

Yarn crafts such as knitting, macrame, etc.

Scrapbooking

Lettering/calligraphy

Clay sculpting/pottery

Resin pouring

Flower pressing or flower arranging

Origami cranes

Reply in the comments with the crafts you love and the crafts that you’ve always wanted to try. Which crafts interest you and which crafts have you tried but didn’t like? For me, I’ve tried sewing and embroidery but they are too complex and confusing for me to grasp, whereas crochet clicked in my brain and I understand it a lot easier. Isn’t neurology so fascinating?!

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Posture Matters

Posture check! Are you hunching over your screen or keyboard right now? When you bend your head, like when you use your phone, your neck muscles are working to hold the weight of your head. All of this extra stress on your neck and shoulders can cause headaches, back and neck pain and a permanent curve of your spine such as a hunch.

Another surprising link to bad posture is acid reflux! When you sit hunched over you constrict the flow of digestive juices through your digestive system. This can cause the acids in your gut to be pushed back up, causing that feeling of acid reflux and indigestion.

Studies have shown that good posture has an affect on the mind as well as the body. When you walk into job interview with your head up and your back straight you not only give a good impression on the people around you but you also feel more powerful. Compare this with a shy stance, shoulders rounded and face pointed towards the ground – this gives the impression of a lack of confidence.

While the emotional effects of good posture are important, maybe you’re looking to improve your physical health when performing day to day tasks.

When your neck muscles are straining to hold up your head and your shoulders are rounded over, that extra load on the muscles will cause them to fatigue. You’ll notice pain in your neck and shoulders after sitting at your work desk for hours without a break. Headaches become more common as these muscles are knotted and tensed up.

Note: No one really knows what the knots in our muscles are but they can be alleviated by stretching and massage.

The mayoclinic.org website has this handy advice for using your phone in an ergonomic way to prevent back and neck pain:

Avoid looking down at your phone

Looking down at a smartphone can cause you to flex your neck and strain your cervical spine (A). When standing and looking at your phone, maintain good posture and aim to hold your phone close to eye level (B). When sitting and looking at your phone, sit upright and use armrests — or alternatively a desk or pillow — to support your arms.

Source: mayoclinic.org

There are more ergonomic tips for sitting at a computer or desk. These include making sure your feet are flat on the ground and your spine has a natural arch, without the shoulders hunched forwards.

Source: mayoclinic.org

So remember to hold your chin up. Look the world in the eye. I hope this was interesting and useful information. Thanks for reading!

Visit http://www.youtube.com/queeenvk for more Full Cup Wellness health tips. For some silliness and little handy life tips my tiktok is queeenvk (don’t forget those 3 e’s).

Everyday Hormones That We Experience Every Day

Hormones are signals that tell the organs in your body that it’s time to perform a particular action. For example, when to sleep, when to digest food, when to increase your heart rate and when to feel happy.

Notable hormones for your health throughout each day:

Insulin/Glucagon – Work together to regulate blood sugar concentration.

Leptin/ghrelin – regulate hunger signals. Leptin suppresses hunger signals and makes us feel full. This hormone is controlled by our circadian rhythm (daily cycle) so make sure you’re getting a decent 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, otherwise your hunger signals will be out of whack. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us feel hungry. Ghrelin levels increase before a meal to signal when our body requires more food then decrease after we eat so that we no longer feel that hungry feeling in our gut.

Endorphins – You may have heard that exercise brings on a rush of endorphins. This hormone is a natural pain killer and sedative which means it reduces anxiety too. And bonus, it signals your brain to increase serotonin too so you feel happy and calm.

Dopamine – Reward systems in the brain are controlled by dopamine. Repeated rewards lead to reinforcement of the behaviour which lead to the reward, for example when you train an animal with treats you reinforce a particular behaviour because the animal will continue to expect a reward each time. The same goes in our human brain. In this way, dopamine indirectly controls our behaviour and helps us to learn how to relate to the world around us.

Serotonin – Sometimes serotonin is called the happiness hormone because it is known to stabilise mood and make you feel happy. Serotonin is involved in many areas of our physical health including sleep regulation, appetite, communication between brain cells and improved memory and cognition. People with low levels of serotonin can be prescribed anti-depressants that involve keeping serotonin levels stable in the brain.

All of these hormone levels fluctuate throughout each day to keep your body functioning. Knowledge is power, the more you know about the hormones that create signals in the body, the more understanding you have of your own personal health.

Stay safe!

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Which type of boredom are you feeling?

You can listen to me read out this post on my Podcast channel. Click here to listen.

There are multiple types of boredom. Studies have discovered that there are 5 types of boredom. Knowing which type you are experiencing can help you address your personal needs to improve your state of mind. Here at The Full Cup Wellness we’re all about keeping healthy on the emotional and physical levels and all of the levels in between.

Why would we need to feel bored? What is the purpose of boredom?

Boredom can create a state of searching for something better.

Boredom has been shown to boost creativity.

After learning a new skill boredom can indicate that you are ready to introduce another level of difficulty to the skill and advance your experience level.

What types of boredom are there?

Indifferent boredom

The best kind of boredom. It’s the definition of a lazy weekend being a couch potato. Sometimes you just need to unwind and recharge and do a bit of nothing.

Apathetic boredom

Comes from neither a positive or negative emotion. Often expressed as a lack of will to improve the current situation. Can be a symptom of depression.

Calibrating boredom

When you’re not doing anything and you feel bored but you aren’t sure why. That discontented feeling when you have nothing planned to do but you’re not willing or able to do anything to relieve that discomfort. This type of boredom often causes one to daydream, fantasise or engage in mental escapism through games, books etc.

Reactant boredom

This is a very negative and emotional type of boredom that is normally caused by being stuck in an inescapable situation. For example, a road trip or long plane ride, a work meeting, a lecture at uni or lesson at school.

Searching boredom

Happens when you’re feeling frustrated and discontented. Often when you feel this type of boredom you’re actively searching for a solution to your boredom. This is the type of boredom that can lead to the creation of new ideas or solving a problem that you’ve been sitting on for a while. Start writing down ideas and work on problem solving when you get into this type of head space. You might be surprised by what you come up with.

Personally I have a few techniques to help me on those days I wake up feeling bored and discontented. Often I am able to banish boredom by actively changing my mindset and incorporating goal setting habits in my daily life. The feeling of ticking things off the To Do list is so rewarding and keeps me motivated throughout each day.

What tips do you have to bust boredom? Comment below!

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The health benefits of deep restful sleep

Sleep is linked to multiple aspects of our health because it affects different organs and hormone levels throughout the body. Deep restful sleep is also known as slow wave sleep and occurs as the third stage of non-REM sleep. The REM stage of sleep comes after this deep sleep stage. During deep sleep the brain detoxifies itself from harmful proteins that build up during the day and sorts out your recent memories. We cycle through the stages of sleep multiple times during the night. However, people who snore or have sleep apnea are less likely to reach the deeper stages of sleep as they are waking themselves up multiple times during the night.

For the adults, you want to make sure you’re having 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. Everything is better in moderation. Teens and babies need different amounts of sleep depending on their age.

Less than 7 hours of sleep or poor quality sleep can cause:

Your blood to thin leading to an increased risk of low blood pressure and dizziness. Fewer red blood cells are made so your blood ends up being thinner than it should be.

Reduced cognitive abilities. Lack of sleep can affect you in the same way as too much alcohol. Don’t drive while sleepy, it’s as bad as drunk driving!

Poor memory recall as your recent memories aren’t effectively processed by the brain.

Difficulty in maintaining weight due to disruption of levels of hormones involved in hunger (ghrelin) and feeling full (leptin). Studies have shown that less than 5 hours sleep cause a decrease in leptin levels. This is probably because your body wants to make sure you last the fast of the night but if you have a shorter sleep then your body thinks you need less leptin to keep you feeling full. Unfortunately ghrelin then comes in and makes you feel hungry before a meal. It isn’t affected by your sleep but I have noticed that if I’m not asleep by midnight I get those hunger pains that make it difficult to get to sleep without having a snack first. In the long run it becomes harder to maintain your weight if you’re always eating a second dinner before bed (which was me back in the day when I was up late studying for uni exams).

Lack of deep restful sleep to clear the build up of toxic proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s. Current research indicates that Alzheimer’s might be caused due to build up of tau and amyloid-beta proteins in the brain that are created during the daytime. These proteins are cleared from the brain during deep sleep so it’s very important to deal with insomnia if you can.

Life span can be affected by poor quality sleep. Studies have shown that shift workers may have a decreased life span. Disruption to sleep patterns can cause insomnia as our circadian rhythm is a daily cycle consisting of different hormones released during certain times of the day.

Too much sleep can lead to:

Thicker blood which leads to increased risk of stroke and high blood pressure. More sleep doesn’t necessarily make you feel more refreshed. It can leave you feeling more drowsy if you sleep longer than around 9 hours.

Tricks to beat insomnia:

I know everyone says this one but it’s absolutely true: AVOID CAFFEINE. Caffeine has a lasting effect in the body so limit your intake to the morning and no more than one cup of coffee per day. Black tea contains less caffeine but it’s still there so limit cups of tea or make them weaker.

Blue light filter: Exposure to blue light suppresses your body’s natural melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that increases in your body during the evening, telling your body that it’s time to go to sleep and recharge. The release of melatonin helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. Blue light is emitted from your TV, computer and smartphone screens. Use the blue light filter function on your smart phone after the sun goes down. You can set them to turn on and off at your chosen times. Personally, my smartphone’s blue light filter is set to switch on at 9 pm and off at 6 am. If your TV, computer or laptop doesnt have a blue light filter function you can purchase blue light filter glasses that look just like regular reading glasses. Search for them online. There are specialty online stores that focus on these light filtering glasses.

Meditations: Yoga nidra for sleep and mindfulness meditation. These types of meditation are like a brain training exercise to keep your thoughts on the present moment. Insomnia can sometimes be caused by us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. When we’re in the present moment we’re free to control our thoughts into something more productive. Specifically with yoga nidra mediation you will focus on each part of your body individually, making sure it is totally relaxed and ready for sleep. You willl often find that you’re only a quarter of the way through before you fall asleep, it’s surprisingly effective! Give it a go, there are guided meditation tracks online or in my favourite free meditation app Insight Timer.

Supplements: There are some supplements you can purchase from your pharmacy off the shelf. I like velarian root supplements. I’ve also tried melatonin with some success. Personally I haven’t experienced any side effects of using these but ask your doctor for more advice on these supplements and if they’re right for you.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Visit my Youtube channel, QueeenVK, for more Full Cup Wellness.

Keep your cup full!