Mark Osbourne's Posts (8)

Stand by Your Pet: Health Benefits of Animals

Although this is an article about pets, it is not meant for pet owners. Living their lives next to their favorite fur balls, they have by now already figured out what makes them an irreplaceable part of their lives. This article is for the people who are debating whether to buy a pet or not, and for those who think a pet would never fit into their lifestyle. Read on if you belong into one of these categories, because what you are about to read might just change your opinion.  

1) Pets are there when your mood needs improvement

A cat, dog, or any other pet for that matter will bring life into your home. The very fact that they are around serves as a great mood improver. It’s all about chemistry, really - levels of stress inducing hormone Cortisol are lowered significantly when we are in the presence of a pet. But this is not all there is. You’ve probably already heard about the health benefits of stroking a cat, whose purring has a soothing effects on our nerves.

2) Blood pressure is rarely a problem when you have a pet

Connected with the previous point, by reducing the amount of stress in your life pets help you keep your blood pressure low. The studies showed a significant difference in blood pressure levels between pet owners and people who did not own them. Children who suffer from high blood pressure can benefit greatly from petting their dog.

3) Fight depression with your best friends

It is a known fact that friends are one of the crucial factors in helping depressed people get back on their feet. However, for one reason or another, our friends are not always available to be their for us when we need them. Pets, on the other hand, offer us unconditional love and are always around when we need them. Their support can be life changing, and this is why psychologists often recommend having them around.

4) Pets can keep you in shape

Dog owners are generally more active than people who do not own dogs. They play with them and take them to long walks, often several times a day. They visit pet doctors and their favorite pet shop, often weekly. This not only helps their pets, but contributes to their own fitness too.

5) Pets are immunity builders

Many people are hesitant to buy a cat or a dog when there is a little baby in the house, fearing that whatever the pets bring with them might hurt their child. The truth is quite opposite, as a matter of fact. People who spend their early years in the company of the family pet have stronger immunity and, later in life, they are much less likely to get sick than the people who grew up in a sterile home. This is because child’s immune system learns to deal with bacteria and viruses early on.     

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Tips for People with Sensitive Skin

Skin sensitivity and proneness to irritations is usually not a serious health issue, but it is one of the more annoying ones. Apart from having to deal with the aesthetic considerations, there is also the unbearable itching, and the fact that you have to be quite careful not to make the condition even worse by agitating the irritated area. Likewise, minor irritations can be set off by just about anything, so determining the cause can sometimes be quite difficult, which makes prevention more of a general issue than one with a specific answer. This is why we would like to offer some general advice on how to either make your skin somewhat more resistant, or at least how to expose it to as few irritants as possible.

Modify Your Habits

There are a number of habits that you can try and develop that could help alleviate the severity of your skin irritations, or make them less frequent. First of all, apart from using the right kind of skin care products (we’ll get to that) you might also want to make sure that you are chilling them before applying them to your skin. Colder lotions or balms lead to the constriction of capillaries, which prevents skin from turning red.

Keeping your skin adequately hydrated is another essential segment of keeping it irritation free. While there are many products that list this as one of their benefits, there are other ways to ensure the adequate level of hydration. One of them is investing in a humidifier that should help you create an optimal environment for your skin. Avoiding showering with hot water is another. Hot water dries out the skin and removes protective layers of oil from your skin much faster than warm or cold water would, which leaves your skin to the mercy of different irritants.

Pick Your Skin Care Products Carefully

There is no shortage of products that are being advertised as suitable for sensitive skin, however, there is also no shortage of misinformation in advertising. Glycerine and natural oil soaps are a much better choice than those containing aggressive detergents, for instance. Hand sanitizers that contain alcohol are to be avoided, as is anything containing clove or eucalyptus oil, menthol or witch hazel. On the other end of the spectrum you have ingredients like ginger, cucumber, turmeric, which are not only harmless, but quite beneficial when it comes to skin health.

Whenever you buy a product you haven’t used before, regardless of its ingredients, you should always try it out on a small patch of skin, preferably one that can be covered with clothing. Apply a small amount of product and wait for at least a couple of days to ensure that the product is safe, and only then apply it as you normally would.

Consider Organic Clothing

Due to the sheer amount of time that it spends in contact with your skin, clothing that you wear can be a serious cause of irritation. This is why eco-friendly, organic clothing could be a real boon for people with sensitive skin. Apart from being made of organic materials – i.e. organic cotton that was

grown without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers, hemp or soy, the processes involved in making of such clothes are carefully regulated. If you need to use toxic chemicals in any step of the production, from growing to dying, the clothes cannot be labeled organic. Hemp and cotton naturally come in a variety of colors, so you can avoid using dyes altogether, but there are also a number of natural dyes available.

Wearing organic clothing means that your skin is not exposed to a wide spectrum of irritants found in typical clothes, including pesticide or fertilizer residue, formaldehyde, artificial dyes, nickel, lead, amines and heavy metals.

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Get Healthy in Your Own Backyard

Being in shape is extremely important for maintaining the balance in your life. Our physical condition affects all the aspects of our everyday routine - commuting, work, leisure time and our general mental well being. However, many of us simply do not have the time on their hands to dedicate to some serious exercise, which is why we simply forget about it and then remember it again only when we feel a pain in our neck, back or we start feeling chronically tired.

One of the most frequent excuses people have for not working out is that they do not have a gym nearby and so they do not have the time to visit it after work. For all of you home and backyard owners out there - would you believe it if we told you that you can solve your problem with just a couple of tyres?

Preparation

We did not want to write about something we did not try ourselves, so we headed down to our neighbours, Tyre King Seven Hills, and asked them if they were willing to give us some spare tyres. Being good neighbors as they are, the guys were willing to help and soon we were richer for a couple of big, truck tyres as well as some regular car tyres. Here is what we did next.

Obstacle Course

We set up a small obstacle course. It was really the basic one - a couple of tyres placed horizontally in two lines for running over them, then a couple placed vertically for passing through them and then another horizontal and vertical set to complete the circle. This is the part which was supposed to provide us with enough cardio exercise, but the most important thing happened in between.

We placed a truck tyre after each of the vertical obstacles. The plan of the exercise is to run over the horizontal tyres, pass through the vertical and then perform one of the exercises we will list in the next paragraph. Then repeat and go in circles for the unlimited experience which allows each person to adjust the exercises according to their own needs.

Exercises

Here are some suggestions for the exercises you can perform on this improvised course.

- Flipping the tyre is the obvious and very useful one.

- Stand in the center of the tyre pick it up and make small walking circles for as long as you can stand.

- Do the shrugs. Pick up the tyre and shrug. Sounds simple? Try it first, then talk.

- Jump into the tyre, then jump out on the left. Jump in, jump out on the right. Repeat and increase the number of repetitions as you progress.

We tried it

As a conclusion, we can tell you that we tried our obstacle course one afternoon and later no one was particularly happy to do anything else but watch tv and then get some sleep. In short, it worked, and you should give it a try yourself.

 

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Bodybuilding for Vegans – Top Advice

You will often hear from omnivores that vegans are weak and puny and that there is absolutely no chance that a vegan might have a bodybuilder’s body or career. Well, that is absolute nonsense as there are innumerable vegan people who do bodybuilding and who are no less successful at what they do than their colleagues who eat non-vegan diet. Just look at the animal kingdom where herbivores come with bodies that are nothing but muscle. There is definitely no reason to think that meat is essential for muscles. So, what advice do we have for vegan bodybuilders?

1. The basics are the same

The bodybuilding regimen for vegans is going to be basically the same as that for non-vegans. It will include a workout regimen and a special diet that will allow the body to recover and to build the muscle mass. In fact, vegans might actually have an upper hand because their diet is usually richer in fiber and other beneficial nutrients that can only contribute to a bodybuilding regimen.

2. You will need your protein

Protein is essential for muscle gain and the majority of people who say that vegans can never be bodybuilders say that it is because of the low protein content in the vegan diet. This is absolute nonsense as vegans can get all the protein they need to get for their bodybuilding purposes from their diet. All whole plant foods have protein in them and as long as you eat plenty of these throughout the day, you will get the protein you need.

If you are really serious about your bodybuilding, however, there is a chance that you will need to supplement your protein with shakes and powders. The good news is that there are now many brands of protein supplements that are absolutely vegan-friendly as they contain no animal products of any kind. In short, with a steady diet that includes nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans and with vegan-friendly protein supplements, you will have absolutely no problems on this front.

3. Get your fats

Fats are necessary for anyone who is looking to build a bodybuilder’s body as they are involved in hormone production as well as a number of other processes that are involved in the actual building of muscles. The recommended maximum amount of fat that you should ingest daily is o.5 grams per every pound of your weight. The preferred amount is somewhat smaller. The best sources of fats for a vegan bodybuilder are from whole foods, such as nuts, avocados and seeds. Of course, you can get fats from margarine and oil, but these are less healthy alternatives.

4. Do not forget about the carbs

Once you have taken care of the building blocks of your muscle tissue, it is not time to get ready for the workouts and for a workout; you will need fuel – carbohydrates. The idea here is to go for complex carbohydrates that you can find aplenty in vegan diet. These are just some of the foods that you should eat to load up on carbs: brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruit, as well as other whole

grains and vegetables that you like.

5. Be smart about the post-workout

We will not be talking about all the various workouts that you should consider depending on the part of the body you are working on as there is certainly an abundance of advice to be found on these. We will, however, talk about the post-workout, which is essential for a truly great bodybuilding regimen. You will want to replenish the lost electrolytes and fluids as soon as possible, as well as put down a protein supplement which will have the most effect immediately after a workout. You should also consider massage or contrast water therapy to reduce the chances of swelling, aches and injury.

6. Be even smarter about your cheat days

Cheat days will come. It is a totally natural thing for anyone who is undergoing a particularly difficult and strenuous regimen. The days will come when you will want to go for something like sweets or a day in bed. Do not try to fight these too much. If you feel like you have no chance, give up. A few lapses during a three-month period, for instance, are nothing too worrisome. Of course, do not make your cheat days into something regular.

Closing word

The choice of a vegan diet should never be a reason to stop doing something or to get discouraged from doing something. When it comes to bodybuilding, the same goes. Eating a vegan diet will not make it any more difficult for you to build your body. If anything, the health benefits of a vegan diet will actually make it easier for you to get that body you have been dreaming of.

Photo Credits: Flickr, epSos .de

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The Value of Synthetic Vitamins

The modern world is full of challenges. We have more opportunities than our ancestors used to have, but with the opportunities come difficulties, and with difficulties comes stress. Evolution did not have enough time to catch up with the advancement of the civilization and this left us without the appropriate biological tools to fight the increasingly adverse conditions of life. Today, advancements in science in medicine are all that we can put some hope in. In order to bridge the gap between who we biologically are and what we have to endure, we create solutions using our knowledge about the human body and its needs.

The popularity of synthetic vitamins is, therefore, something that should not surprise anyone. People have unhealthy lifestyles - they work in stressful and competitive environments, eat food which is either straightforwardly harmful for their health or at best devoid of nutrients to the point where eating it is equivalent to eating flavored cardboard. In order to make up for the lack of elements necessary for our bodies to function properly, we need to take large amounts of vitamins and minerals through pills and powders.

Moderation is the key

As it goes with anything as popular as food supplements, there are skeptics who question the effectiveness of this approach and even wonder whether or not it is entirely healthy. And again, as it goes with anything as popular as food supplements, the truth is somewhere halfway between the opinion of the enthusiasts and the skeptics. First and foremost, it is of utmost importance to get your synthetic vitamins from the sources you trust. Once you know your vitamins are safe and tested, the next thing you should care about is to take them with moderation, that is - pay attention to daily dosage recommended on the product and never take another pill just because you feel like you might need it.

Who needs supplements

As we previously mentioned, supplements are useful for everyone who feels that they do not receive enough nutrients through their regular diet. However there are certain groups of people for whom the supplemental vitamins are more than recommended.

- Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers - Pregnancy is the time when the body of a future mother is going through a lot of change and requires an additional amount of energy in order to function properly and support the baby growing inside. After the birth, mother’s body is still under pressure due to the fact that it needs to supply the infant with necessary nutrients through breastfeeding. Taking vitamin supplements during these periods can be very beneficial. Some experts even suggest that vitamins should be taken by women who are trying to get pregnant, in order to prepare their bodies and achieve balance necessary for successful conception.

- Children - from when they are only 6 months old to the age of five, children are going through some really important development phases for which they require all the energy they can get.

- Elderly people and people with dark skin - Supplemental vitamin D helps maintain the quality of bones and skin and is therefore strongly recommended to people who are susceptible to bone tissue deterioration.

 

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Has it ever stroked your mind if eating could help you lose weight? Well, if that’s coming as a wish, we say “Granted”. Here we represent five super foods that actually help you fit into your dream-fit-clothes. We also got the scoop on how to add them to your diet the easy and delicious way.

Pears

The University of Rio De Janeiro has recently published a report in the journal Nutrition which said people consuming three pears a day had lesser total calories per day. Pears helped them not only to check the calorie intake but also to lose more weight than others who went through fat burners. Plus, they didn't have to be restricted to a nutritive diet to that degree that the fat burner ones had to go through.

Pears are rich in fiber. People under observation felt full and being kept away from overreacting to things they used to react before. One pear sheds about 15% of your recommended calories. So eating what you like doesn't sound like an obstacle anymore.

Curb hunger by eating a pear before a heavy meal. Don’t use the peeler to make the pear extra beneficial for your skin.

Grapefruit

Want to go as fast as one pound a week? Then it’s half a grapefruit before each meal with no changes in your diet. The fat storage hormone in human body, the insulin is suppressed by a compound present in the grapefruit. It’s a known fact that anything that helps lower insulin can help curbing weight. Grapefruit is one of them.

Peel the grapefruit, chop it into chunks and you may add them to the spinach salad. It tastes good with shrimp or sliced jicama with a nice flavor.

Weight Loss Tea

When teas are related to weight loss, people always picture green tea in mind. However, controlling obesity isn't about which tea you drink, rather it’s about how you drink. May it be green or white tea, herbal tea (black or green), all of them have one thing in common i.e. antioxidants. Presence of other beneficial bio-chemicals may vary, but it’s antioxidants you are looking for losing weight.

Always drink the freshly made tea. Don’t take more than 3 cups a day. More tea can stain your teeth.

These days such herbal teas are available from several manufacturers. They have shed out the unnecessary things from the tea leaves. You can have some by ordering weight loss tea online.

Almonds

A handful of almonds every day may zap fat. International Journal of Obesity says people who ate almonds consistently for six months with no restriction on their diet lost 20% of their weight. This sounds more convincing when you keep yourself around a nutritive diet. People who took fat burners lost only 10% of their weight.

You may grind and add them to oatmeal. They are the best work-time snack. 22 almonds add up to one meal.

Navy Beans

Packed with resistant starch, half-cup of navy beans make 10 grams of the same to your blood stream. You will lose 25% more weight if you include navy beans in your regular meal. Navy beans are powerful natural fat burners. 

You may fry chopped onion and garlic in olive oil and add two cans of navy beans and keep heating for few minutes. It’s ready to serve when the beans are brown.

Hope that wish of fitting in slimmer clothes is still there. Go get some natural fat burners.



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How to Organize a Vegan Picnic

When summer finally comes, eating out gets a whole new meaning. Restaurant reservations are often swapped for road trips, while cramped booths make way for adorable picnic blankets laden with summer delights. But creating the perfect picnic is nothing short of an art, even more so if you are a vegan. With this in mind, here are several handy tips that can help you organize your movable feast making it a surefire success.

The Right Food:

When it comes to picnic foods, the trick to scoring high marks is knowing how to pack and assemble them. Is there a salad that needs dressing? Dress it when you reach your destination. If you’re making sandwiches, make sure you provide sliced bread, spreads and fillings separately, letting people make their own creations as they please, as in this way everyone will be escape a soggy sandwich fate. Certain foods, such as pasta salads or creamy filled dishes, are best stashed in a cooler pack.

In case you lack inspiration for your meals, you can always check some of the great vegan meal resources to find tons of exquisite, creative vegan recipes that can result in a genuine mealtime magic. These websites go much further from simply offering food preparation advice, helping you make your tasty bites much more visually appealing. In case you are not capable or willing to produce your own meals, you can go with ready-made solutions. For instance, you can a gorgeous fruit basket can certainly add spark to your picnic.

Naturally, you will also need some refreshments for your special outdoor event, as there is nothing like sipping something tasty through a straw in summertime. When we talk about vegan sips that are simply perfect for your picnic, we should distinguish between alcoholic and wholesome non-alcoholic drinks. With regard to the former, you can go for a spicy Vodka Lemonade, Pomegranate Daiquiri or, say, Orange Ginger Margarita, while the latter can include Raw Cookie Dough Milkshake, Lavender Key Limeade or Raw Food Virgin Bloody Mary. Pretty awesome, you have to admit.

You've got your food, drinks and friends, but you’ll also need several additional items to make your event the best ever. Here are few great eco-friendly, cruelty-free options you can stash in your basket. As we all know that summer brings bug bites and sunburns, you’ll need a natural bug repellent and a natural sunblock to protect you from excessive sun while getting your Vitamin D. Provided that you don’t want to sit on grass, you’ll also need a lovely picnic throw, so I suggest a cheery, colorful co-friendly blanket. In case the picnic site of your choice doesn't have a trash disposal, make sure to bring your own. You also don’t want to forget a bottle opener or corkscrew for your bottled refreshments. And if you need additional entertainment, you can bring self-powered, portable speakers to amplify your smart phone’s music creating a perfect setting for an impromptu outdoor dance party.









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5 Tips on How to Prevent Modern Day STD's

Sexually transmitted diseases are one of the plagues of today's world. Due to the lack of education on this particular subject, many people in rural areas (but those in urban areas as well) engage in unsafe sex which, more often than they would like to think, results in transmission of STD's. The worst thing about this is that, dangerous as they are, these diseases could easily be prevented by changing the way people think and deal with sex. Here are a couple of tips on how to minimize the chances of contacting STD's.

1) Avoid sex with partners you don't know well

This one is obvious. The tip should actually read "if you want to be completely sure you will not catch an STD, do not have sex at all", but this proposition is easier proposed than carried out. Make sure you know a lot about your partner before you engage in any sort of intimate contact. This makes sense from any point of view, does it not?

2) Avoid potential contacts with bodily fluids outside of the sex act

People usually feel too comfortable around their partners and they tend to casually use their underwear or towels (especially after intimate contacts). This can potentially be very dangerous, because viruses can live for some time in the outside world and they are still able to initiate the infection. In order to minimize the chance of a freak accident, you should always use your own things for personal hygiene. 

3) Use condoms

Although a lot of men around the world consider condoms to be off putting and to take that special something away from the pleasure of intimacy, one can never emphasize enough how important it is to use them. If used properly, condoms are very effective both for preventing pregnancy and protecting the wearer (and his partner) from sexually transmitted diseases. If for some reason you are shy to purchase condoms in your local pharmacy (and you really should not be!), you can search the internet and find condoms which are available online - it is a very easy thing to do these days.

4) Early prevention is highly effective

Some of the STD's out there, like Hepatitis B, for example, are easily prevented by getting a vaccination. We know it is difficult to think about unpleasant things like that before they happen, but if you learn to be safe, there is almost no chance you will be sorry afterwards.  

5) Learn to control yourself in social situations

There is nothing more appealing than a prospect of having a great night out and meeting a partner of your dreams along the way. But, when alcohol gets into this equation things can go terribly wrong. If you are going out with the intention of meeting someone, try to limit the amount of alcohol intake to reasonable levels. You don't want to regret your poor decision making the next morning. Moderation can make all the difference in the world, so you should practice it indiscriminately. 

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