Get Better Abs… By Doing Less, More Effectively (4 tips!)

If you’re into fitness, then better abs are probably one of your continual goals, right? So, you do sit-up after sit-up, plank after plank, but your abs aren’t quite as tight and toned as you’d like them to be. Sometimes, traditional ab workouts just aren’t enough. You may need a little something extra to transform typical ab exercises into that coveted six-pack and a stronger body overall.

Your core muscles go far beyond simply your abdominals, and include all the muscles besides the ones in your arms and legs.1 They offer support, initiate movement, stabilize the body, and make it easier to do a variety of physical activities. The core muscles include deeper muscles that are not visible when performing typical workouts, including the transverse abdominis and the pelvic floor.2 These are also the muscles that ought to be utilized when working towards a more efficient exercise plan.

There are other ways to work your abs than doing rep after rep of crunches or sit-ups. Some of them may even seem counterintuitive, but they are great ways of engaging and activating your ab muscles, which, in turn, make them more toned and defined. Incorporate these tips into your daily ab regimen for a better, more effective workout.

1. Work Your Glutes

Though it may seem odd, flexing your glutes during ab exercises can give you that extra edge to really hone your stomach muscles. Working your glutes has two functions that work your abs. First, it causes hip extension, which helps activate your ab muscles. Second, it causes your pelvis to do a posterior tilt that further activates those same muscles. All this ab activation allows you to get a better, more efficient workout.3

How To Do It: When doing a plank, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. You will feel your abs tightening and becoming extra tense. This tension will work your abs like nothing else. Strengthening your glutes by doing exercises like squats and lunges will also help to strengthen your core.

2. Focus On Breathing

Simply exhaling – yes exhaling – can have a profound effect on your ab exercises. When you exhale completely and fully before each ab rep, you set your rib cage down, and this helps to effectively activate your ab muscles.4

Breathing deeply each time also helps activate your abs and provides stability. This stability allows all of your muscles to work at their maximum capacity. When doing a plank or crunches, for example, take the deepest breath you can, then blow it out completely. Count each breath as you would count a rep, and focus on making each breath as efficient as it can be.5

3. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

When you engage your pelvic floor, you better work your transverse abdominis. These muscles are at the front and sides of your abdominal wall, layered underneath your obliques, and they are considered an important part of your core. They act as a girdle for your frame and provide excellent stability for your spine. You will generally feel them contracting every time you cough.6

How To Do It: To engage your pelvic floor, as funny as it sounds, act like you’re trying to hold in your pee. Maintain this tension as you do sit-ups and other ab exercises.7

4. Build And Maintain Tension

Developing tension throughout your entire core is essential in building strong muscles and also protecting your lower back. Additionally, it helps build muscles in places that aren’t immediately visible when you look in the mirror, but that are necessary in getting the rest of your abs to get that desired taut and defined look.

How To Do It: Sitting up straight and tall, put your hands on either side of your waist near your lower back and flex the muscles around your waist so that you feel your ribs pull into your center and your shoulders pull back a little. You should also feel a contraction under your hands. It’s important to maintain this tension as you breathe, because flexing can sometimes restrict breathing. This action of flexing and breathing is also known as bracing. Practice bracing as you do your ab exercises to get in a better workout.8

Another way to build tension is simply to flex your abs (like you’re bracing yourself for a punch) while doing your sit-ups and crunches.9

Better abs | Probiotic America

Make The Most Of Your Workout

Small adjustments can help take your standard ab routine to the next level. Try to change things up every once in awhile by incorporating a different tip on alternate days of exercising. But remember, any type of physical activity can potentially cause injury. If you feel excessive pain or discomfort during a workout, stop doing the activity. If pain persists or gets worse, you might want to contact a professional.

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Sources:

1.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls-20076575
2.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751
3.http://www.bornfitness.com/why-your-ab-workouts-dont-work/
4.https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/abdominal.html
5.http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/breathing-during-core-exercises
6.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls-20076575?s=1
7.http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/pelvic-floor-exercises-prevent-urinary-incontinence
8.http://www.bornfitness.com/why-your-ab-workouts-dont-work/
9.https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/abdominal.html

10 Canker Sore Remedies to Make Them Disappear…Fast!

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you know how painful they can be. Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer also called an aphthous ulcer. An estimated 25 percent of Americans have recurring canker sores. While canker sores can be annoying, they are not serious and usually go away on their own within two weeks. 1

What Causes Canker Sores?

The good news is that canker sores are not contagious. The not-so-great news is that researchers are unsure of the exact cause of canker sores. 2 Family history, as well as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, food allergies and stress are often associated with mouth ulcers. Mouth injuries, usually due to dental work, may also cause canker sores.

What Do Canker Sores Look Like?

Canker sores are usually small and either oval or round. They often have a white or yellowish center. They occur inside the lips, cheeks, or other soft tissues of the mouth. Some people confuse canker sores with cold sores, but the two are different. Cold sores are blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can appear outside of the mouth; canker sores cannot. Cold sores are usually smaller than canker sores, and they also tend to heal faster. 3

When you’ve got a canker sore, you want to feel better fast. Here are 10 canker sore remedies to ease your pain and help your mouth heal.

1. Swish with Baking Soda

Household baking soda and water can make an effective mouth rinse for dealing with canker sores. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with ½ cup warm water.4 Swish this mixture around in your mouth for a few minutes, then spit it out. Some people also experience good results by dabbing baking soda directly onto canker sores several times per day.

2. Try Vitamin B12

Many people are deficient in vitamin B12. Since nutrition deficiencies are a possible cause of canker sores, it stands to reason that meeting these deficiencies can help cure them. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that taking a vitamin B12 supplement effectively treated repeat canker sore outbreaks. Study participants who suffered from recurrent canker sores took 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 at bedtime for six months. Participants reported fewer canker sore outbreaks, outbreaks of shorter duration, and less pain. 5

3. Zinc Up!

Zinc is an essential mineral your body needs for good health. Research has shown that patients with recurrent canker sores may have low levels of zinc. For these patients, zinc supplements have been found to decrease canker sores in clinical trials.6 Women need 8 grams of zinc daily; men need 11 grams.7 Many people prefer to take zinc supplements in lozenge form.

canker sore | Probiotic America

4. Chill Out

Just like you’d ice up an injury to help alleviate pain and inflammation, ice can help your canker sore as well. Hold an ice cube on the canker sore until it becomes numb. Popsicles and cold drinks may also help to decrease the inflammation and pain of canker sores.8

5. Pump Iron

Iron is a mineral your body needs to make hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. 9 Iron deficiency can cause anemia and other symptoms of poor health. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that iron deficiency may cause oral ulcers. 10 How much iron is enough? Men ages 19 to 64 and women ages 50 to 64 need 8.7 mg of iron daily. Women ages 19 to 50 need 14.8 mg. 11 If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, you may need to take an oral supplement.

6. Reduce Stress

Stress can cause canker sores to flare up, especially in people who are prone to them. A 2009 study showed that psychological stress may be a trigger for canker sores.12 Ways to reduce stress include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and getting enough sleep.13 Do what you can to alleviate daily stress, and you may have fewer canker sore outbreaks.

7. Mix It Up

When it comes to quick relief, a combination of over-the-counter medications may help ease the pain of canker sores and help them heal more quickly. Some experts recommend a mixture of 50 percent hydrogen peroxide and 50 percent liquid Benadryl as a mouth rinse. Swish the mixture around in the mouth for approximately one minute before spitting out. Take care not to swallow the liquid. Additionally, you can apply a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide directly on the canker sore with a cotton swab several times daily. Follow up by dabbing a small amount of Milk of Magnesia on the sore. Following this regimen should take away some of the pain, allowing the canker sore to heal faster. 14

8. Go SLS-Free

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a cleaning agent found in many toothpaste brands. There is some evidence that SLS can cause or exacerbate canker sores in people prone to them. 15 Try using a toothpaste free of SLS, such as a natural brand.

9. Patch It Up with Licorice Root

Licorice root, a common herbal remedy often used in traditional Chinese medicine, may help heal your canker sore, or at least lessen the discomfort. Scientists at the University of Washington found that an oral licorice root patch alleviated canker sore pain within three days. 16 The patch also caused canker sores to shrink within seven days. Chewable licorice root supplements may also help.

Canker Sores | Probiotic America

10. Snooze Away

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that getting plenty of quality sleep can help your canker sore disappear. Sure, it’s nice to slumber so you don’t feel the pain, but since stress may trigger these painful sores, and we know getting rest can help alleviate stress, it makes sense to get your ZZZs on. Many parents tell their children that canker sores are your body’s way of telling you to slow down and rest. Seems to make sense!

Having a canker sore can make it painful to eat, drink, and talk. It may help to remember that, even without treatment, your canker sore will likely go away in one to two weeks. In the meantime, try these remedies for less canker sore pain and a quicker recovery.

For more helpful health news, keep reading:

How to Achieve a Healthy Immune System (all-natural hacks!)

The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)

Sources:

1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303311.php
2. http://www.aaom.com/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Darticle%26id%3D82:canker-sores%26catid%3D22:patient-condition-information%26Itemid%3D120
3. https://publications.usa.gov/epublications/fever-blister/fever-canker.html
4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/canker-sore/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20021262
5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092732.htm
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/870981
7. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263176.php
8. https://www.ghc.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=zd1065
9. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002422.htm
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003613/
11. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Iron.aspx
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710437/
13. https://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
14. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000998.htm
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7825393
16. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070322161029.htm

Can Probiotics Improve Symptoms of Autism? (what you need to know)

There is some research that suggests harmful microbes in the gut, or digestive system, can worsen some of the behavior issues associated with autism. There are also medical professionals who believe an unhealthy gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that make up the gastrointestinal tract) could contribute to the development of autism. Probiotics, or beneficial microbes, could play a role in helping reduce some of these issues.

Continue reading “Can Probiotics Improve Symptoms of Autism? (what you need to know)”

Watermelon Tea Recipe – The Ultimate Healthy Summer Drink

Want to know my number one favorite part of summer? It’s going to the beach in August… hands down.

I like everything about the beach… the warm sand, the gently crashing waves, the salty air…

But most of all, I love the food!

Growing up, going to the beach meant days and days of amazingly fresh, delicious food.

First, we’d get together for a big barbecue one night… then a couple of days later, we’d buy a bunch of fresh tilapia fillets and grill out, watching as the sun set over the water.

Oh boy, it was heaven… And just thinking back on it now makes me hungry!

Even now, when I’m heading to the beach I like to load up the cooler with good things to eat… Things like homemade sandwiches, ice-cold bottled water, and fresh cut fruit.

But there’s one thing I don’t ever bring… I’m talking about soft drinks.

I know it’s tempting to load the cooler with soft drinks — they’re cheap, convenient, and kids LOVE them.

But soft drinks are absolutely packed with addictive sugar. And even if you’re on vacation, all that sugar’s just as bad for you as ever.

Now, skipping the soda doesn’t mean you’re stuck with just drinking water. If you want to sip something refreshing AND sweet, I’ve got just the thing!

Dr. Nelson’s Watermelon Tea Refresher

This is one of my favorite finds… and it’s totally delicious!

This drink is naturally sweetened, refreshing, and perfect for summer — with no unhealthy added sugar or artificial sweeteners in sight.

Here’s all you need to make it yourself –– and if you want to make a full pitcher, just triple the recipe:

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 cup green tea, brewed and cooled.
  • 1 cup diced watermelon, seeds removed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • 1 cup club soda

Instructions:
1. Add watermelon and tea to a blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Add lime and mint and pulse in blender, until mint is chopped.
3. Add club soda and taste — adjust sweetness as suggested above, then enjoy!

Note: If the Refresher isn’t quite sweet enough for you, try adding a teaspoon of honey (which has some big health benefits of its own) or a splash of 100% apple juice to the mix.

Just make sure to taste it BEFORE adding anything sweet… after all, a ripe watermelon is pretty sweet on its own!

Summer Drink | Probiotic america

So there you go. Pretty simple, right?

I’m really loving this drink… In fact, I’ve started calling it my “Official Drink of Summer!”

And I think you’ll like it, too. So try it out and …

Cheers!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

P.S. If you’re having a cocktail party, I’ve heard my Refresher is amazing when mixed with a touch of vodka or white wine. I haven’t tried it that way myself, but I’ve heard some rave reviews. If you do try it out, remember to always drink responsibly!

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

 

The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)

Breakfast. Some say it’s the most important meal of the day. Indeed, it can jump start our day. A healthy breakfast that’s high in fiber, protein and healthy fats can boost your mood and give you energy all day long.

Continue reading “The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)”

Do Sweet Potatoes Upset Your Stomach (The Surprising Reasons Why)

You’ve heard that sweet potatoes are part of the “good carb” group, so you enjoy a warm, sweet orange potato with lots of melted butter and cinnamon sugar for dinner. But later, your stomach feels funny. And you have gut problems the rest of the night. Maybe you should try the potato prepared in a different way? Was it the butter? The sugar?

Continue reading “Do Sweet Potatoes Upset Your Stomach (The Surprising Reasons Why)”

How to Soothe Stomach Ulcers Using Natural Remedies

Stomach ulcers, also called peptic ulcers, are sores in the lining of your stomach. People who have stomach ulcers experience indigestion and burning stomach pain that may come and go. 1 Stomach ulcers occur when the acid in your stomach damages tissue. 2 An estimated six million people in the United States suffer from stomach ulcers each year.3

Continue reading “How to Soothe Stomach Ulcers Using Natural Remedies”