Are you at risk of heart disease? Know the risk factors.

giulia-bertelli-dvXGnwnYweM-unsplash

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

Americans and Canadians are more likely to die from heart disease than any other disease. Fortunately, most deaths from heart disease can be prevented by recognizing symptoms early enough and seeking medical attention. And no matter what your perceived risks are, it’s extremely important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as there have been cases where people with no known risk factors still experience them.

This article will give you the insight you need to understand signs and symptoms, risk factors and common myths associated with heart disease.

Warning Signs: 

Here are a few warning signs of heart disease as stated in the Mayo Clinic’s book Healthy Heart for Life. If you ever experience any of the symptoms below, please have them checked out by a medical professional:

  • Chest pain or discomfort often noticed with physical activity or emotional stress, which goes away when you rest
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Shortness of breath during normal physical activities

If you have any of these symptoms, contact emergency services immediately:

  • Unexpected chest pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a few minutes or occurs when you are resting 
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body such as your arms, shoulders, back, neck,  jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath that doesn’t go away
  • Severe weakness, lightheadedness, cold sweat or fainting
  • Severe indigestion or heartburn that lasts more than a few minutes, feeling sick to your stomach, vomiting or abdominal discomfort

These symptoms can be more subtle especially in women, so don’t delay and get yourself checked out. Remember, the delay can be deadly!

Common myths about heart diseases

    1. ‘There is nothing I can do about it’: If you have a strong family history of heart disease,  that doesn’t mean you are destined to get heart disease and you cannot do anything about it. There are effective ways to prevent it.
    2. ‘I don’t have to worry. Heart disease doesn’t run in my family’: Assuming that you won’t get heart disease because you don’t have a family history doesn’t mean you are immune to heart disease. Most of the risks of heart disease are associated with choices you make in your daily life such as eating habits, level of physical activity.
    3. Only old people get heart disease’: The chances of getting heart disease increases as a person gets older. Most people fail to understand that lifestyle habits formed during childhood or early adulthood can be a threat to heart health. Even in children, plaques start to build up in arteries. People should start forming healthy habits early, as what they do in their youth affects their lives later.
    4. ‘I’ll know if I have a heart problem because I’ll have symptoms’: Sometimes a heart attack is the first sign of a heart problem. 50% of men and 64% of women who’ve had heart attacks showed no symptoms of heart disease before the attack. People with heart valve problems also may not experience symptoms.
    5. ‘Heart disease is more of a man’s issue than a woman’s issue’: Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability in women. Women are hesitant to seek help with heart-related symptoms and also less likely to make lifestyle changes to help prevent heart disease.
    6. ‘I’ll change my lifestyle if I get in trouble’: It’s never too early to start. We often don’t feel the need to change our lifestyles if nothing is wrong, instead of waiting until after something happens to make meaningful changes. Unfortunately, you can’t prevent heart disease once you have a heart attack or heart problem—only the quality of life can be improved later. 
    7. But I’m already living a healthy lifestyle’: A lot of us think we’re healthier than we really are. There is often a difference between what we think we know about healthy behaviours and what we do. The four primary behaviours recommended for heart health are not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and exercising regularly.

It’s important to be aware of potential risk factors. Plus, when you reduce your risk factors for heart disease, you also reduce your risk factors for various other diseases such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction and blindness.

Risk Factors:

Dr. Beth Abramson in her book says “Heart disease is due to bad luck, bad living and bad genes”. This pretty much sums up the major risk factors of heart diseases.

Personal and Family History:

It’s important to build your medical history. It begins with consulting a doctor and understanding your health status. Your doctor can also help you understand how health issues like sleep apnea, being overweight, anemia, and kidney disease can be risks for heart disease. You should also be aware of your family history, specifically how many of your first-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children) have heart disease. Any man or woman with a parent with heart disease has a two times greater risk than a peer with no family history.

Smoking: 

Smoking increases the risk of heart diseases, respiratory diseases, and cancer. The amount of risk associated with smoking and having a heart attack or stroke is even higher when people start smoking at a young age. Smoking narrows your blood vessels, raises blood pressure and increases the risk of blood clots. Any type of smoking is a preventable risk factor—second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by 30%.

Cholesterol, Hypertension and Diabetes:

Cholesterol is the fat in your blood. HDL is high-density lipoprotein, which is good and should be high. LDL, on the other hand, is low-density and having high levels of it is bad, as it promotes the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. 

The impact of cholesterol levels on heart disease is significant. Ask your doctor to regularly check your cholesterol levels if you are a man over 40 years, a woman over 50 years, or if you have other risk factors.

Hypertension means high blood pressure. It’s also known as a silent killer as it damages and scars the arteries. If not treated it can cause stroke, heart attack or heart failure. According to Hypertension Canada, reducing your blood pressure by a small amount can reduce your risk of heart failure by 50%.

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose levels are too high. High blood glucose levels can also contribute to plaque buildup in arteries. Adults with diabetes caused by an unhealthy lifestyle are two or three times more prone to heart disease than adults who do not have diabetes.

Weight:

Nearly 1/4 of Canadians and more than 2/3 American adults are overweight or obese and it has a staggering effect on their health, increasing the risk of heart disease or conditions leading to heart diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or pre-diabetes, and sleep apnea. Being overweight or obese also reduces your lifespan by 3 years. Body Mass Index can be used as a measure to know if you are overweight or not.

Use the Body Mass Index Table for reference.

It’s important to note that what’s more important is making healthy food choices and staying healthy on the inside, rather than just a lean body achieved through a strict diet as looks can be deceiving.

Sedentary lifestyle: 

An active body= Healthy body.

Out of all the other risk factors for heart disease, a sedentary lifestyle is most common. Being inactive can be detrimental to your heart health. Sitting on your couch or your office chair for hours per day makes you more prone to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels in the blood, and also increases your risk for diabetes. Little or no physical activity level, when paired with unhealthy food choices, is dangerous to your heart health. 

Sleep: 

People who are sleep deprived most of the time or who do not enjoy a good slumber are more likely to be at risk for heart disease, regardless of age, gender, weight, and eating habits. Not getting enough sleep consistently can lead to an increase in blood pressure during the day, which leads to a greater chance for heart disease in the long term. 

Stress can also increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Socio-economic status: 

More money= Easy access to better medical care

People at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are at higher risk for heart disease.

This is due, in part, to not having the financial freedom to buy healthier food choices (junk food is cheaper than fruits and green groceries). People with low economic status are also more inclined to smoking, one of the four major risk factors.

Steps toward a healthy heart

  • Be extra cautious if you have a family history of heart disease
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Switch to healthy food habits such as including more fruits and vegetables, as well as grains in your meals
  • Eat breakfast
  • Be physically active
  • If you have a sedentary working environment or lifestyle, stand for a few minutes, go for a walk, or climb the stairs to take breaks from sitting for long hours
  • Switch to walking or cycling instead of driving
  • Engage in physical activities you enjoy
  • Calm your mind by meditating every day to keep stress levels in check long term
  • Sleep for 8 hours a night
  • Schedule regular visits with your doctor and understand your health status and family history
  • If on any medication, be sure to take it on time

Cancer! We can escape it.

Cancer Prevention

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

Cancer, just the name itself is enough to freak you to death. It is estimated that nearly half of all Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and is also responsible for 30% of all the deaths in Canada. Cancer brings misery of long term illness, treatments and fear of death with its diagnosis. There is no guarantee that cancer can be prevented but the risk of cancer can always be reduced.

Through research, a link has been established between physical and mental state and lifestyle factors that can help individuals avoid and survive cancer. We might attribute its origin to factors beyond our control but most of the time it’s a consequence of lifestyle habits.

“At least 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes, and the percentage could be even higher,” says Dr. David Katz. Some basic and sustainable lifestyle choices can help us live a better and full life while avoiding life-threatening diseases.

Here are a few lifestyle modifications that you can implement in your daily life to reduce the risk of cancer.

  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption and avoid illicit drugs
  • Switching to a healthy diet
  • Active lifestyle
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing stress
  • Proper sleep pattern
  • Regular medical care
  • Avoid toxins

Avoid Smoking 

Smoking is a cause of about 72% of lung cancer cases in Canada. Smoking and vaping are forms of nicotine consumption that kill up to half of its long term users. Tobacco has been associated with not just lung cancer but it is now linked with 14 different cancers.

Our actions matter not just to us but also to the people around us. People exposed to extreme levels of passive smoke or secondhand smoke are at equal risk for developing cancers.

Exposure to secondhand smoke can be reduced by making your home smoke free and supporting smoke free workplace policies. The Canadian government has policies in place that prohibit smoking in indoor public places such as schools, restaurants, bars, casinos, public transit facilities.

consequences-tobacco-second-hand-smoke

(Source: Adapted from The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress)

Be a non-smoker, it’s never too late!

For help follow the link:

http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-healthy-choices/live-smoke-free/?region=on

Or contact Smoker’s helpline: 18775135333.

Limit Alcohol Consumption and Avoid Illicit Drugs

The heavy consumption of liquor every day can increase the risk of cancer. No safe alcohol limits are known for now but it’s for sure that the more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk for developing cancer, especially for women.

Women who have a family history of breast cancer must reduce their alcohol limit to less than one glass a day as drinking alcohol leads to the release of extra estrogen in the body that heightens the risk of breast cancer.

You should also avoid any illicit drug addiction/habit that impairs the quality of life.

Switch to Healthy Eating

“Let food be your medicine”- Hippocrates

Plants and plant-based food items that can be consumed on a daily basis have been known through research to be a good source of nutrients with the ability to interfere with some processes of cancer development, in a manner similar to the action of many drugs that are used today. For example, sulphur compounds in garlic and vegetables from the cabbage family prevent the activation of carcinogenic substances and facilitate their elimination from the body, preventing DNA mutations and cancer development.

As recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI), you must make whole grains, vegetables, fruits, pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils as a major part of your daily diet. WCRF suggests that an individual must eat 30g of fibre and 400g of fruit and vegetables every day. It not only protects you against cancer but also helps prevent weight gain and obesity

Fruits and vegetables Cancer they prevent
Cruciferous vegetables Bladder, Lung, Prostate
Green vegetables Breast
Green Tea Colorectal, Stomach
Citrus Fruit Stomach
Blueberries

Berries have anti-inflammatory properties

Breast
Nuts Breast, Colon, Prostate, Pancreas
Garlic and it’s family Esophagus, Stomach, Colon
Soy Breast, Prostate 
Seeds and Grains Breast, Colon
Olive Oil  Colon

(Source: Preventing Cancer, Reducing the risks by Richard Beliveau & Denis Gingras)

As per the research conducted by the International Agency of Research on Cancer(IARC), it is evident that several dietary factors are associated with the risk of breast cancer. The data from the research suggests that alcohol, beer and cider intake in women increases the risk of breast cancer whereas a higher intake of fibre, apple/pear and carbohydrates was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

WRCF recommends limiting the consumption of red meat (beef, lamb, pork) to approximately 1 pound (500g) per week, replacing it with meals based on fish, eggs or vegetable proteins. Red meat has a high caloric density and undergoes biochemical changes during cooking or preserving which results in negative impacts on health.

Replacing the red meat with fish, fowl, nuts and legumes can reduce the mortality rate from 20% to 7%.

Limit the intake of sweets, replacing artificial sweets with natural sources like fruit.

Some changes that can be made:

  • Be a greengrocer: Shopping fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Read labels on the back of packed food
  • Limit eating out
  • Limit salt intake in the diet
  • Adherence to the Mediterranean diet

Healthy lifestyle

Physical activity is known to prevent and reduce the risk of various diseases and cancers. Adopt a healthy morning routine by taking a 10 minute morning walk or completing a small morning workout. Aerobic exercise can be incorporated in many forms ranging from a vigorous gym workout, to dance class or a simple stair climbing workout.Don’t forget to count your steps! Setting a step goal will encourage you to walk more.

Be sun safe: Using sunscreen when going out, especially during the middle of the day. You should also avoid using tanning beds and sunlamps.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Obesity is an invitation to diseases like diabetes, cardiac diseases and various carcinomas. Obesity and overweight conditions are assessed by anthropometric measures such as BMI and waist circumference. Excess weight is a result of eating too many calories and not burning enough calories. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle helps to maintain weight within normal limits.

Managing stress

Stress is a burden on our body, mind and spirit that has the capacity to undermine our physical and mental health. It’s important to effectively cope with the stressors in our lives. If stress isn’t properly managed, it cancels the healthy diet benefits, disrupts sleep and can cause extreme levels of stress projected in the form of body aches. This impairs our health by reducing immunity against diseases and altering hormone levels in the body.

Some solutions to manage stress:

  • Develop daily meditation practices
  • Practice reflective writing
  • Learn to say no and delegate tasks
  • Make yourself a priority, focus on your health and practice self-care
  • Cultivate gratitude
  • Cultivate a positive frame of mind
  • Learn what works for you to effectively manage your stress and anxiety

Proper sleep pattern

Thomas Dekker (dramatist) wrote, “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”

Sleep is integral for the human body to function at optimal levels and proper rest is essential for anticancer living. It’s important to be well-rested to feel relaxed and energetic. Physical activity and sleep go hand-in-hand; exercising requires you to use energy which can help you fall asleep at night. 

Some tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • Have a regular sleep routine
  • Avoid stimulating drinks such as caffeine, alcohol, beer, wine, etc. before sleep as these can delay sleep
  • Using the bedroom only for sleep and intimacy and not using the bedroom for work or watching tv, etc..This way the bedroom can trigger/activate the receptors for sleep in our brain and the sole thought of a bedroom will induce sleep
  • Comfortable clothing and a calm relaxing environment promotes sleep

Regular medical care

Make regular appointments with your doctor and ask about risk factors based on your family history. Also, ask about cancer screening.

  • Colorectal Cancer – Men and women 50-74 must go for FOBT every two years
  • Breast Cancer – Women 50-74 should go for a mammogram every two years
  • Women 30-69 are at higher risk for breast cancer and should have a mammogram and MRI every year
  • Cervical Cancer – Women who are or have been sexually active should start having a pap test every year at 21

Remember:

  • Always consult your doctor whenever your health changes
  • Get vaccinated against HPV and Hepatitis B
  • Consider your family history and be more cautious about health risks

Avoid toxins

You should avoid environmental toxins both at home and outside. Learn more about how to replace highly toxic products with less toxic ones. It’s also important to avoid the seven deadly poisons that cause endocrine disruption and also pose a serious risk for cancer development:

  1. Asbestos
  2. Formaldehyde
  3. PFC’s
  4. Fire Retardants
  5. Vinyl Chloride
  6. Bisphenol A (BPA)
  7. Phthalates

These toxins are commonly found in everyday products like body care products, makeup, laundry, car care products, etc.. Read the labels and know what you are buying. Know the products and chemicals you might be exposed to at the workplace. Carcinogenic products must be replaced with safer options.

Change is a journey and an optimum state of health is the destination. You can only reap the benefits of change within each factor if you make changes in more than one factor, considering they are all entwined. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

(Some of the important information to complete this blog post was taken from the book Anticancer Living. To learn more and in-depth about lifestyle modifications to prevent cancer and how to survive cancer you can refer to this book.)

 

Stair Climbing as a Workout Routine

Young adult woman walking up the stairs with sun sport background.

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

If you are looking for a workout routine that does not involve a gym membership or equipment and also provides enormous health benefits, then stair climbing is perfect for you! It not only helps overcome most of the real and perceived barriers such as lack of time, money, nearby fitness facilities and poor weather that often result in inactivity but also boosts cardio, bone and brain health.

Stair climbing offers the benefits of aerobic and resistance exercise for enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness, (a vital health marker for longevity and cardiovascular health risks) and leg muscle strength without having to leave the house, workplace or pay a fee. It also saves you from the guilt of not doing anything for your physical wellness.

Benefits of Stair Climbing:

  • Reduces the risk of heart attacks by half 
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Reduces mortality rate by 33%
  • Protects against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis
  • Helps manage cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Exercises our bones and muscles, improving bone density and muscle tone
  • Improves cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and agility 
  • Easy way to burn calories; Burns 500 calories in 30 minutes
  • Tones lower body

People with pre-existing medical conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular conditions and balance issues must consult a physician before engaging in stair climbing workouts as it can be strenuous and might lead to more damage than benefit.

Beginners must start out the workout slowly and then gradually increase the intensity and number of flights. Consistency is an important element if a person wants to benefit from stair climbing.

Interval training on the stairs can be extremely beneficial in boosting health especially for people with a sedentary lifestyle, and vigorously climbing a few flights of stairs during the day with 3-4 hour intervals can promote physical and mental health. Burning a few calories through a simple workout routine can be extremely satisfactory to people who spend half their waking hours at work. In fact, a workplace on the third or fourth level from the ground can be considered an attractive arena for enhancing physical activity levels.

As per the information provided by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2005, a significant improvement in aerobic capacity, as well as an 8% reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol was observed when healthy women with a sedentary lifestyle, briskly climbed eight flights of stairs five days a week for a period of eight weeks; starting with one ascent a day and working up to five.

Stair climbing workouts through the use of ellipticals or stair climbers are also very prevalent and stair Climbers can be used for cardiac training. 

Climbing Real Stairs vs Stair-Climbing Machines

  • Stair Climbing machines can be beneficial to people with conditions like arthritis and biomechanical problems as these machines tend to be easier on the joints; ankles, knees and hips than the actual stairs. The impact from the stair climbers is lower when compared to real stairs
  • Real stair climbing has greater benefits of bone health, as it allows a fuller range of motion through the joints
  • Leaning and gripping on the side rails of the stair climbers can reduce the quality of the workout
  • Stair climbers can not be used for interval training as these only go one way, that is up

Physical activity in any form has always been known to improve the overall health and well-being of an individual but for most people who spend large portions of their day at their workplaces, it is hard to engage in any type of physical activity. Stair Climbing is an efficient choice for the working population, and engaging in the behaviour of climbing stairs even for 30 minutes every day during lunch or coffee breaks can bring a positive change in their health status. Employers can actively initiate conversations about ‘Why is taking stairs over elevators beneficial for health?’. Apart from this, small stepping up the stairs reward-challenges for employees at the workplace can encourage and increase their participation in stair climbing.

Healthy employees = A better workplace

Does Physical Activity have an Impact on your Mental Health or is it just a Myth? 

Written by Turja Chowdury 

It’s not a surprise that exercise helps to reduce several health risks, but is it all talk or is there truly science behind it all? Exercising in any form can have tremendous impact on your mental health and this does not mean that you need to be a gym fanatic to receive the benefits.

By staying active, you are giving your body the chance to become stronger and combat the issues that may come your way. There are countless ways that exercise can profit your mental well-being and here are a few:

  • Decreases Depression
  • Reduces signs & symptoms of postnatal depression
  • Improves self-esteem & cognitive function in young people
  • Reduces psychological distress

In recent years, mental health is a topic that has gained enormous traction because of its valued importance. We have begun to acknowledge the value of mental health and its correlation to our overall health.  The issues that arise from the psychological and emotional well-being can be caused by several factors depending on the person. This means that everyone has their own battles in life and we constantly seek ways to adapt and reduce the issues that may arise. This is why we search for the kryptonite.

Let’s make it clear that it isn’t easy – especially if you’re not an active person. But the first step is always the hardest, so you have to trust the process. Exercise will help to shrink the negativity and give you the strength to develop. But the question remains – where’s the science and how much exercise are we talking?

Physical activity has a direct relationship with the brain as it improves neuronal health, increases neurotrophic factors and neurohormones – an overall boost to the brain. These positive changes lead to improvement in your mood, self-acceptance and many more. The body will gladly accept the increase in dopamine – a neurotransmitter and hormone. This increase is only unique to you and your happiness, so your brain will understand when you’re physically active and how to react to it.

The amount of exercise depends on you and your personal goals. It’s up to you to decide the activity you want to do and how you want to approach it. However, its crucial to show up. Consistency of your physical activity can guarantee that positive benefits are extended throughout your journey.

Optimity understands the value of mental health and we want to encourage personal growth. Engage in your community by posting your workouts and meals, track your progress over the weeks and gain rewards for your accomplishments.

Establishing New Habits can be difficult and lengthy. However, small lifestyle changes and being persistent with your goals can have the biggest positive impact on your health. Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

An Upstream Approach for a Healthy Heart

HeartHealthy_Header.jpg

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

In honor of heart awareness month, we will be discussing why it’s important for employers to focus on an upstream approach to a healthy heart.

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 2.43.45 PM.png

Heart disease is costing companies billions of dollars in loss of productivity and absenteeism.

Workplace wellness program can help prevent heart disease for their employees and in return bring down cost.

It’s essential to understand that heart disease can easily be prevented by making small behaviour changes.

See what can you do to prevent heart disease:
desk-stretching-1511869475.jpg

Physical Activity

  • Physical activity elevates your heart rate, which is essential for keeping your heart in shape.
  • Something as simple as taking the stairs, does wonders for your heart. To read more on helpful tips on how to get physically active, especially in the colder months, check out our blog post here on exercise.

Woman making chicken dish-1.jpg

Nutrition

  • Nutrition is key to a healthy life.
  • Some helpful tips in eating healthy is avoiding the foods that are big contributors to heart disease. Processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and sodium, so these should be kept to a minimum.
  • Cook your own food, it allows you to eat as clean as possible when using raw ingredients to make your meal.
  • Eating with others makes you more mindful of what you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. For more information on healthy eating for employees, check out one of our popular webinars on nutrition and mindful eating the workplace for more insightful tips.

office-meditation-yoga-at-work.jpg

Stress Less

  • Identify your stressors in order to avoid them or create coping mechanisms that work for you.
  • Physical behaviours such as stretching and yoga can help relieve stress.
  • Change your thinking: see if your stressor is actually rational or if you’re just blowing it out of proportion. Try to make your thinking more positive.
  • Meditation is a great technique that can be done just about anywhere, and is proven to reduce stress. Here is another great webinar we’ve done on mindfulness and meditation in the workplace.

It’s cheaper to prevent heart disease than to treat it! Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact financially and on the individuals health. Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

iOS | Android

HeartHealthy_Header copy.jpg

2-Minute Meditation for a Positive Attitude

Meditation

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

From cultivating greater awareness of self to relieving stress, meditation has numerous physical and mental health benefits. The practice conjures a sense of something related to spirituality, but is actually an extreme form of concentration that tones and strengthens the mind. It promises to promote inner peace and a positive outlook towards life.

Given the countless problems that work and life hurl at us on a daily basis, and the impact they have on our minds, meditation can be an excellent way to appreciate promote inner peace and living in the moment. Even a few minutes of meditation regularly can be transformative. Here is a 2-minute meditation routine for beginners.

  1. First, find a quiet and peaceful place in your home or outside, where it is easy for you to shift your focus inwards. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine in a straight but relaxed position. When you sit in a peaceful space with good posture, you will be able to enjoy the process more freely and have a deeper sense of calmness and tranquillity.
  2. Concentrate on your breathing. Try to take long and deep breaths while you focus on slowing down your breath. You can also chant an uplifting phrase or word like “relax” while breathing in order to center your attention. Try to block all distracting sounds, paying full attention to your your breathing and the word you are chanting.
  3. Next, try to enter into a quiet state of mind, while remaining relaxed and mindful of your centre of gravity. Observe any feelings, thoughts, or physical vibrations that arise in your consciousness. Eventually, you will be able increase your concentration one session at a time.

There is no set time to meditate, so you can start with 2 minutes daily and progress slowly. Let your comfort level decide what amount of meditation is right for you, but stay persistent in order to witness results.
Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

iOS | Android

The Benefits of Eating Pumpkin this Fall

Now that the Fall is in full force, pumpkin has made its long awaited comeback, and while you may only be familiar with delectable pumpkin treats such as pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin has far more to offer that just its sweet desserts. Its vitamin-rich flesh also has an abundance of health benefits, including better quality sleep, weight loss, and increased vision.

If cooked correctly, pumpkin is actually one of the healthier foods of the season, which is why we’ve noted some amazing health benefits of pumpkin to kick start your obsession this fall.

 

images-4

Weight Loss

Mashed pumpkin has only 50 calories per cup and 3 grams of fiber, whilst pumpkin seeds have about 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. Fibre helps you to feel fuller for longer which will assist in the prevention of over eating.

 

Increased Vision

Just one cup of pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A improves your vision and has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that can eventually lead to blindness. Vitamin A has also been proven to help maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.

tracey-hocking-729612-unsplash
Better Sleep Quality

Have you ever wondered why you feel so sleepy after a big slice of pumpkin pie at thanksgiving dinner? Well, pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid that contributes to sleepiness. It also helps the body make serotonin, which assists in feeling a sense of relaxation. So not only will you be sleeping better, you will also experience and improvement in mood.

 

 Heart Healthworld_heart_day

With pumpkin’s high fibre content, it also helps to protect your heart. A recent Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals found that those who ate a diet high in fibre had a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate less fibre.

 

                                                      Boosts your Immune System

boost-immune-systemPumpkin can help you fight off that pesky cold or flu that often comes hand in hand with fall. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20% of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends women need daily, whilst men should aim for around 75 milligrams.

 

Want to start leading a healthier life and win FREE rewards? Sign up here to start!

iOS | Android

Optimity_-_Trista.jpg


Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.