Foodie Moody Blues

Can food affect your mood? The answer is yes. To know what, why and how, read further.

By Avanika Mote
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They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body
They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body

Last year I drove into the Aundh outlet of McDonalds and drove out with a McMeal. It had a soda, a burger and a pack of fries. Just one of those days you don’t want to cook. The day was tiring as I didn’t want to write a thing on technology. All I looked forward to was a ready-to-eat meal and an episode of The Big Bang Theory to make me feel like it’s a great evening. Once in a while it’s okay to indulge in atrocious food habits. Especially on a Thursday evening. I peeled the paper cover off the burger, put a straw inside my Coke and squeezed some ketchup for the fries while searching for Z-Cafe on my TataSky. Multi-tasking comes handy when there’s a burger to look forward to. It’s also a prep to eat all things inside one burger in a bite. It isn’t easy with burgers, with the mayo dripping and the remote in your other hand.

While Sheldon Cooper was doing what he does the best – turning lame into a verb that creates LOLs – the whole burger-and-Big Bang concept was not working out for me. My funny bone would not tickle. I was starting to feel irritated, though the Coke tried its best to calm my throat. When the meal was over, I started to feel worse than before. And then I was just a phone call away from two pints of beer. This was the last ray of sheer optimism to make my evening great. And Google calls it the ‘junk food blues’. You need to understand that it could happen to you too. Since information is power, it is good to know what junk does to your psyche. So, here are the top five foods that can give you the blues. Continue reading Foodie Moody Blues

8 ways to boost testosterone levels

If you are down, you probably need to up your ‘T’ levels. Here’s how: Image

If you are a man and have been feeling tired and depressed for no apparent reason, and concentrating on your regular work is getting tough, even the stuff you enjoy, then you need to take care of your testosterone levels. If you are not feeling up for love, and the blues are catching up, you could probably be sure that the levels are hampering your natural joie de vivre.

Millions of men around the world suffer from this. In America alone, at least 13 million men have ‘Low-T’.

Nature ordains that testosterone levels are optimum when a man is young, and fall steadily beginning around age 30.

Besides sexual function, testosterone in the right amount is needed for strong muscles and bones. It also keeps fat evenly distributed in the body.

Low T can even up your bad or LDL cholesterol levels. Which means, it is crucial for a healthy and happy life, as it affects both our psychology and physiology.

If you have been feeling blue for no apparent reason, you could try these simple ways to boost your testosterone levels:

Get lighter, feel better
That simply means lose extra body fat, as it lowers testosterone levels. Especially if you have a paunch, it is sure sign that T levels are likely to go down faster. At least, 40 percent of obese men have low testosterone readings. But it isn’t tough to reverse it: lose weight and get the T joy back.

Cuppa of joy
Drink some coffee. Make it on the stronger side. Caffeine, which is the heart of coffee, boosts testosterone. According to a Harvard study, around five cups of coffee a day for a month increased testosterone-to-estrogen ratio in overweight men by nearly 200 per cent! While the effects are not long lasting, a cup of coffee during your breaks does not hurt as far as testosterone levels are concerned.

Vitamin D is vital
This vitamin is really a hormone. Contemporary life is such that Vit D deficiency is a major problem around the world, especially in urban settings. A three-year study of older men published in Hormone and Metabolic Research stated that men with higher levels of Vitamin D had higher levels of free testosterone. In any case, it does not do any harm to pop a Vitamin D3 pill once a month to keep your bones strong.

Take it easy
Stress is not only bad for your heart, but also causes low-T situations. When in stress, the body releases huge quantities of cortisol. Cortisol inhibits the function of testosterone and even blocks it, a University of Texas study stated. Apparently, high cortisol levels messed  with the ability to reproduce.

If you are feeling low or stressed out, this is the time to hit that yoga class or go for a walk on a hill or wherever you like. A beach in South Goa is a great idea too. Or simply, meditate in your office cubicle for 15 minutes before you start work.

Sleep well, sleep enough
Sleep is the ultimate pain balm, the ultimate relief for every ailment. It is the ultimate natural drug.  According to a team of Dutch researchers, older men between 64 and 74 can double their testosterone levels simply by getting a good night’s sleep. The longer you sleep, the more testosterone circulates in your blood.  A University of Chicago Medical Center study stated that being sleep deprived for a week decreases testosterone levels by 15 per cent.

You gotta move it
We mean, don’t just sit on your desk. Move it, get some exercise because it boost testosterone levels appreciably. A Baylor University study found that T levels remain elevated for 48 hours after lifting weights. Another research suggested that short but intense sprints significantly increased testosterone. Try sprints that are around 10-second long, take a break and do it again. Do it about 10 times, and feel the difference. Apparently, evening workouts are best for boost testosterone levels. They can push levels by 40 per cent.

Be nutty, feel great
All nuts, like almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts…. All of them are great for encouraging production of testosterone. A diet high in monounsaturated fats, the kind found in nuts, push testosterone levels and make it optimum.

Nuts not only drive up testosterone, but also the amino acids in them improve blood circulation. Which is why, instead of chips or some other junk snack with your beer, try a few nuts. Or just eat them when you get a hunger pang or a food craving.

 Root for your team
This might sound far-fetched but rooting for your favourite cricket team or your favourite sportsman actually increases testosterone levels by 20 per cent, a University of Utah study found. The dark side is, if your team loses your T levels go down. So, just for the sake of your health, trying supporting the winner. Funny, isn’t it? But it works.

Smile, even when you’re not on camera

 …you will look better, feel better and your body will love you always smile 1440x1280-421

 If you read the title of this post with a smile on your face, know that your brain just  released some endorphins – the feel-good chemicals. But that’s just one thing. Studies  have shown that smiling can have a positive effect on our mental health and can boost  the immune system. To begin with, it releases stress and emotions. But all this holds  true for genuine smiles. The French physician, Guillaume Duchenne, coined a term  ‘Duchenne smile’ for real smiles, which is considered as the sole indicator of true  enjoyment.  

 As Savetime decides to spread smiles today, we are giving away free smiles through      these health benefits of smiling.

  1. Lowers Heart Rate
    Smiling reduces blood pressure levels, if only temporarily, and lets the heart work without any stress. People who are emotionally sound and smile and laugh often are less likely to develop a heart condition. A study, which consisted of 2,000 people, carried out by the European Heart Journal, revealed that people with a positive outlook towards life are less likely to develop heart conditions than their pessimistic peers.
  2. Reduces Anxiety
    Sure, it isn’t easy to smile when in a stressful situation. But if you try to calm yourself down, take a breath, share a joke and smile it away, your anxiety is sure to fade. Smiling is known to release the body’s happiness hormone endorphin. With its release, cortisol levels, the stress hormone, also come down.
  3. Strengthens the Immune System
    One study found that smiling produces white blood cells (WBC) in our body which are responsible for improving our immunity.
  4. Relieves Pain
    A study published in the Journal of Pain, revealed that people who frowned at an unpleasant medical procedure felt more pain than those who smiled through it. The release of endorphins is the science behind this awesome revelation. Endorphins, the happiness chemicals, are released when you smile and act as natural painkillers.  You could try this when you have a headache or a sore throat the next time. Watch a funny Youtube video. And when you crack up and laugh, you will see why they say that laughter is the best medicine!
  5. Uplifts Mood
    You may think that people smile only when they are happy. But that’s partly untrue.  Dr. Michael Lewis, a psychologist at Cardiff University explained, “Simply using the same muscles as smiling will put you in a happier mood. And that’s because, use of those muscles is how our brain evaluates moods.” So, find a reason to smile and your mood will follow.
  6. Makes You Attractive
    Needless to say, when you have a smile on your face you seem more attractive to people. Smiling improves facial features and sharpens them. The use of muscles keeps the face looking young and charming. A full-blown smile is a sign of confidence.
     
  7. Adds Life
    Believe it or not, smiling has a positive effect on longevity. Smiling in both, good and bad situations, is a sign of great mental health. A happy disposition can have a powerful impact on life expectancy. In 2010, the Telegraph wrote a report on a recent study by Wayne University, in which the experts studied 230 old photographs of major league baseball players in the 1952 baseball register. Each of these pictures had the player’s statistics, like his age, weight, marital status. Based on this, the experts ranked each of these players on their smile – no smile, partial smile and full-blown smile. To cut to the chase, the conclusion of this study was: among the 184 players who had died, those in the ‘no smile’ group lived an average of 72.9 years. The ‘partial smile’ group lived an average of 75 years and those with the widest grins and genuine smiles lived an average of 79.9 years.This was a ground-breaking medical revelation which concluded that smiling often can add up to 7 years to your life.If you need a better reason than this to smile, consider this: it takes only 17 muscles to smile and 43 muscles to frown. Which means smiling is not only good for health, it is also easier on you. 

Stress is just hype; only simple daily habits can defeat it

Stress has become a very common factor that is found in working professionals, many youngsters and even teenagers. Having the spirit to excel and giving your best is one thing and worrying about it all the time is another. When it comes to stress, it is only YOU who can help yourself. It’s as simple as accepting the fact, problems won’t stop occurring if you stress more. You will never be able to remove stress from your life completely, issues are going to creep up every now and then, and people around you (your parents, siblings, colleagues, seniors, managers)are going to expect higher and better performance every time.

It all comes down to how well you manage your stress.

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This may not sound simple but in reality if you sit down and think, you will come up with a list on your own. The real reason of stress is not always obvious and more than often you tend to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You are aware that you are constantly worried about work deadlines but the real reason may be your procrastination that lands you in a soup.

Stress management comes with practice, you need to exercise habits. Your to-do list is never going to be complete and more tasks will keep adding but there is one task that should never come off your to-do list: Relax.

The following tips if practiced daily may help you manage your stress. Just a mere couple of minutes from your schedule and you’ll be fresh and energized to take what the day brings!

Meditate

Meditation is one of the best ways to help you ease anxiety. Research has shown that when you meditate daily the neural paths in your brain may alter making you more pliant to stress. Meditation is a very simple process, sit up straight with both feet on the floor (you may also sit cross legged on the floor the bottom line is to sit up straight). Once you get comfortable, focus your attention on reciting a mantra loudly or silently that makes you feel positive. It can be anything like “I feel at peace” or “I am the strongest”. You can place your hands on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths.

Just Breathe

Every time you feel you are worked up or beginning to stress due to the work load, take 5 minutes off and focus on your breathing. You can do this sitting at your desk in office, all you have to do is take deep breaths, inhale and exhale fully. Taking deep breaths releases stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.  5 minutes may seem a lot when at work but even if you try focusing on work you will be less productive. So take time off and just breathe!

Be Present

Live the moment, it’s as simple as that! You rush through dinner, hurry to reach the destination; you are running the race to strike off another to-do from your list. For a change try something different, try to slow down. Focus on the thing you are doing right now! If you’re having food, enjoy the texture and taste of every bite, notice how air feels on your face while walking or driving. When you are working concentrate on the task at hand and not about the problems that will arise in the next task. When you start to spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel the relaxation that grips your body and be more productive.

 Reach out

Very often you hear people saying, “Those were the golden, carefree days when we talked so much!” One of the major reasons that add to stress is not talking to family and friends. Take time out from your “busy” schedules to catch up with friends. Talk about worries that are troubling you and it will surprise you that talking out loud to your friends can do wonders to your mood. A good social support system plays a major role when dealing with stress. Meet friends face-to-face and spend time with them without talking or thinking of the to-do list, just have a good time! Having a good laugh is a great way to better manage whatever is stressing you out.

Listen to your body

Whether you believe it or not, your body is constantly talking to you, giving you signs to handle it with care. One of the best ways to manage stress and stay fit is to take up a sport of your choice – anything that requires physical involvement. Join a gym and more importantly go regularly, participate in a physical group activity you love whether it is cycling, running, football, table tennis or badminton. Just sweat it out at least for 45 minutes once in a day. You will be surprised by the wonders working on you. After continuous practice, you will see and feel the difference in you and your reaction to tension.

– By Shraddha Barde

How to Remain Healthy at Work

Health is wealth.

Heard this? Yes, we all have. But somewhere in our busy schedule we have forgotten the fact that most of our waking hours are spent at work, which means that our working environment plays a big part in our health and well-being. Keeping healthy at work represents one of the biggest dilemmas that working professionals are facing today. Going to office and working around 10-12 hours a day, and sometimes 6 days a week, naturally drains one’s energy levels but it shouldn’t affect your health over time.

Remember, earning a living doesn’t need to cost you your health.

There are plenty of things you can do to make sure you stay healthy and happy at work. Let’s start with these few simple tips, which we can easily follow, in our day-to-day life.

Drink: No, don’t go to the weekend mood! Drink water, is what I mean. Dehydration makes you tired and sluggish. Staying hydrated can keep you energized and can prevent you from thinking you are hungry when in fact you are just thirsty.

An apple on the desk keeps the coffee away: Although coffee wakes us up and makes us feel energetic, the effect does not last long. On the other hand an apple not only provides us with fibre but also with fructose, which keeps us awake and energetic for longer hours when compared to coffee.

Get up and move: Stand up and move around every 30 minutes or so. Not only will your muscles thank you for it, but it will also improve circulation, making you a little less tired. Simply getting up and moving around for a few moments can keep you less fatigued and more focused.

Take it easy on your eyes: Poor lighting may not be the only problem for your eyes at the office. If you are working on a computer all day, please make sure to look away from your monitor periodically to give your eyes some rest every 15 to 30 minutes.

Connect with people: Feeling bored or stressed, go connect with the gossip guru or your funny co-worker in your office. Social interaction reduces stress and encourages happiness.

Say no to Elevator: If you have your office on lower floors, then take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators, as it will keep you fit and energetic.

Stretching: Perform simple stretching exercises at your chair like neck rotations, flexing your foot, stretching your legs and arms whenever you get time. This will relieve you from backache, body pain and joint pains.

Fuel your body: Think of your body as if it were a campfire. If you put too much wood on the fire at once, the fire will get smothered and burnt out. If you forget to put wood on the fire, it will die out. However, if you add small amounts of wood all day long to the fire, it will continue to burn. This is just like your body’s metabolism, if you do not continually fuel it it will burn out. Eat small meals throughout the day to fuel your body. Overall you will feel more energetic.

Get a good night’s sleep: Sleep well! Getting enough quality sleep boosts your immune system and energy levels. It also improves concentration at work, memory and your reaction time. Good sleep is very crucial and allows your body to heal and regenerate.

So it’s time to go home… mission “Healthy day at work” accomplished!

Amit Kumar

Amit takes care of the sales & marketing function at savetime.com. His in-depth knowledge of the healthcare industry and astute business acumen has helped him make pathbreaking forays in his career. His strategic vision of the function enables him to deliberate on important issues and steering it to the right direction. A post-graduate in marketing from university of Pune and a university rank holder, Amit loves to explore new places on his bike and watching Amitabh bachchan’s movies.