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How To Maintain A Strong Immune System

If you take a moment to think about your immune system, you’ll quickly come to the realization that it is truly extraordinary. There are millions of different types of bacteria and viruses, but your immune system manages to keep you safe from nearly all of them. Sure, you may pick up the occasional bug, but when you compare this to all the diseases that are out there, this is a drop in the ocean.

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However, your immune system needs you to give a helping hand if it is to stay in top shape. There are lots of different ways you can do this, but the first place to start is with eating a good diet. A good diet means a balanced diet – you need to have foods from all the five food groups if you are going to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that you need. For example dairy products have lots of vitamin A and B12, both of which can help to boost your immune system. On the other hand, foods that are high in fats and sugar will suppress your immune system – you need some of these for energy, but if you have too much it can actually stop your white blood cells from attacking bacteria. [Read more...]

Training for your 1st Marathon

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Running a marathon (or half marathon for that matter) is no easy feat. Can you imagine having to run for 42 kilometers (26.2 miles) or 21 kilometres (half marathon) in one go? Wow, right? Well, if you’re used to running then you know it is do-able, but if you’re fairly new to the running scene, it would be best if you gave yourself time to train and prepare for the big event.

[Read more...]

5 Tips to Healthy Snacking

If you’re trying to lose weight (or keep the weight off), one thing you need to control is the urge to have unplanned snacks. You know, when you want to nibble or graze on something while watching TV, or reading a book, or while you’re crunching numbers for your homework, or trying to solve a problem at work. It’s those tiny morsels that can make or break your diet.

Snacking itself is not bad. Sometimes your body does need a little energy boost. The trouble begins when you snack on food that are full of empty calories. So if you feel the need to have some munchies, ditch the potato chips and chocolate bars and substitute the following food items instead.

Have some avocado

Image Source: Wikimedia

Image Source: Wikimedia

If you feel like something rich, creamy and savoury – get an avocado and mix it with some milk or spoonfuls of cottage cheese instead of grabbing a small tub of ice cream from the store. By combining fruit and dairy, you not only get a snack that is rich in fibre, you also increase your protein intake. You’ll end up feeling full and with energy to last until the end of the day.

Pop some popcorn

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Popcorn has always been branded as “unhealthy” food however, recent studies have shown that, although popcorn lies in that thin line between junk and not junk food, it has a stronger effect on satisfying hunger than potato chips. Plain popcorn (no butter, salt, caramel or any additional flavoring) has lower calorie count than regular potato chips so it’s a great way to satisfy your craving for junk without worrying too much about gaining chunk.

Havva cuppa coffee

Image source: Wikipedia

Image source: Wikipedia

Another “no-no” that’s acceptable provided it’s taken in moderation. Caffeine speeds up the body’s metabolic rate for up to three hours, and causes a greater rate of fat oxidation. However, excessive caffeine also cause a host of other health problems so it is recommended that you take 1-2 cups per day, and ideally, only in the morning.

Go nuts on nuts

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Nuts are known to be healthy alternatives to snacks so go nuts on those! Choose plain, healthy nuts and try not to munch on lots. It may sound bizarre but 12 pieces of pistachio nuts is considered a-sized good serving; six pieces for almonds, cashews or mixed nuts; and about 10 for small peanuts.

Give in to temptation …

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Your  brain works in a funny way – if you keep telling yourself that a particular food items is “Forbidden” your body will crave for it endlessly until you give in and, when that happens, you’ll most likely consume a lot of it in one sitting. Instead of depriving yourself of life’s simple pleasures, allow yourself to have a small treat every so often. But remember to watch your portion sizes, and the frequency. Having 1 small square of chocolate, three times a day, 7 days a week as a treat is NOT the way to do it.

Finally, remember to eat properly and regularly. Starving yourself between small meals two or three times a day is not the way to lose weight nor is it in any way a healthy way of living. By including healthy snacks in your day you’re more likely to lose the extra pounds and make you reach your fitness goals sooner!

Keep Calm and Eat On (10 food items that can help you keep calm)

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It’s a known fact that having too much stress in your life can cause a whole lot of undesirable effects on your body. Too much stress can cause headaches, migraines, upset stomachs, nausea .. and who knows what other long-term effects this may have on the body.

Unfortunately, no one can totally eliminate stress from their lives. Even the pious buddhists monks somehow encounter stressful situations. The only defence we have against this is to learn how to deal with it. This can be done via mental and physical exercises such as doing yoga; going on holidays or short vacations; doing something new; going shopping; and (would you believe it) eating!

Yes! Eating can help you keep calm. However, this doesn’t mean you can go out and binge on burgers and pizza. The key to eating for calmness is to eat the right kinds of food items. Having a proper diet can greatly affect how a person thinks and feels. If you’re keen on lowering your stress levels, try to include more of the following food items in your day-to-day consumption.

[Read more...]

Top 7 Healthy Foods

Have you ever wondered which of the foods available in the market are really healthy? You know that fruits and vegetables are on top of the healthy food list – now you can find out why exactly doctors and nutritionists the world over recommend having at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables in a day. Here are 7 healthy food items, and reason why you should include these in your diet.

Apples

There is truth to the saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” for apples are known to be excellent sources of antioxidants that combat free radicals. Free radicals are substances generated in the body that cause are involved in the aging process and some diseases. Some studies have also shown that polyphenols found in apples may actually help extend lifespans. Another study shows that adult females who eat apples regularly had a 13% to 22% lower risk of developing heart disease.

Avocados

Image Source: Wikimedia

Image Source: Wikimedia

Avocados do not get the credit they deserve. Many shun avocados because these are high in fat, but what they don’t realise is that although it is high in fat, it is high in what is called the good fat, the kind that helps reduce cholesterol. Furthermore, it has high levels of fibre and folate which help reduce the risk of heart disease. If you don’t want to eat too much, just add a couple of slices to your salad. Avocados help increase the absorption of nutrients such as beta-carotene by up to 5 times compared to salads served without this fruit.

Broccoli

Image Source: Wikimedia

Image Source: Wikimedia

This vegetable might be considered the bane of all little children. Not many kids would jump at the chance to have broccoli with their meals. But broccoli is very nutritious. One medium stalk holds more than 100% of your daily requirement for Vitamin K, and almost 200% of your recomended dose of Vitamin C – nutrients essential in developing strong bones, which (incidentally) also help stave off various forms of cancer. To best preserve the nutrients of broccoli – zap it in your microwave instead of steaming or boiling.

Dark Chocolate

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

Yes - chocolate IS healthy! But in small portions. Dark chocolate is high in cocoa powder which is rich in flavonoids, about 53.5 milligrams compared to about 14 milligrams which can be found in regular milk chocolate bars. Flavonoids are anti-oxidants that help reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. This doesn’t give you an excuse to have a binge-fest on dark chocolate. Just 1/4 of an ounce a day is enough to do the trick.

Potatoes

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

Did you know that one red potato holds 66 micrograms of folate – and one sweet potato has almost 8 times the daily recommended level of cancer fighting vitamin A? That’s reason enough for you to have potatoes in your meal! Remember though, that when you serve potatoes, let these cool first before you dig into them. Researches have shown that cooling potatoes helps you burn up to 25% more fat after a meal! That’s because cooler potatoes have fat-resistant starch! Not so fattening after all (if you skip the sour cream  or mayonnaise).

Salmon

Image Source: NPR

Image Source: NPR

Salmons aren’t called the king of the sea for nothing! Salmons are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids which, researches have linked to the reduction of depression, heart diseases and even cancer.  Salmon also contains niacin – a vitamin that helps seems to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. If you’re in the market and want to buy salmon, look for wild salmon as they have fewer PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) than farm-raised salmons.

Walnuts

Image Source; Wikipedia

Image Source; Wikipedia

You’re nuts if you don’t include nuts in your diet. Walnuts contain the most omega-3 fatty acids in all nuts, and these fatty acids help reduce cholesterol levels. Apart from this, Omega-3s have also shown to be instrumental in improving one’s moods, and also fight cancer. They alsp help protect the skin against the harsh rays of the sun! One other benefit of having nuts, especially at night? Walnuts contain the antioxidant melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep.

As with anything – consuming these healthy food items must always be done in moderation. Just one or two of these added in your diet daily would do wonders fo your overall health and well-being.

5 Basketball Fitness Routines

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Besides the games themselves, another thing basketball fans often hear about on the blogs at Barry’s Tickets is player injuries. Boston Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo, for instance, is still recuperating from an ACL tear he suffered in January of this year. The sheer physicality of basketball can result in significant strain and injury for even the hardiest of athletes, which is why intensive training is essential to prevent serious injuries like Rondo’s. Here are some exercise routines that can help to prevent injury on the court.

Aerobic Conditioning

It’s important to dedicate at least two or three days out of the week to low-intensity cardiovascular exercises, but running is not recommended. Swimming, bicycling, walking, and certain gym equipment, like the elliptical or rowing machine, are ideal for this purpose.

Strength

Strength training should begin with low-intensity exercise that helps to build muscle strength in the trunk and lower back where all movements of the arms and legs originate. Instead of adding heavier weights or more reps, players should focus on shorter reps with lighter weights to help condition joints, muscles and ligaments, and then follow up with plyometric training to build on the power they’ve developed in those muscles.

Flexibility

Paired with a thorough warm-up, daily stretching exercises can help to keep the body limber and help prevent any loss of existing flexibility. For those who can’t fit daily stretching exercises into their routine, they should aim for at least three sessions of stretching exercises each week. Yoga and Tai Chi are also popular options that offer a bit of variety for those who wish to improve their flexibility.

Speed

Plyometric exercises make use of the body’s natural reflex to prevent strain or injury to the muscles. For the legs, bounding and hopping exercises help to improve the player’s performance, while push-ups and working with a medicine ball can help increase upper body power. Due to the rigorous nature of plyometric training, however, it’s important to have a strength training regimen in place before beginning this type of conditioning.

Agility

Agility drills are helpful because they improve a player’s ability to change direction without sacrificing their momentum. The Box drill involves sectioning off a box on the court and placing a cone at the center. When the player’s name is called, they race to the center of the square, touch it, and then race back to their starting position.

Image source

How to Stay Fit Without Trying

Image source: Flickr

Image source: Flickr

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. It is no secret that being obese and overweight is the cause of a whole host of health related issues which contribute to unexpected deaths. What’s disappointing is that obesity and being overweight are entirely preventable.

[Read more...]

A closer look at cleansing diets

Some diets eliminate “unhealthy” foods that weigh down the system, whether it’s preservatives or all meats. But which ones really work and which ones are just a very loud marketing ploy? Even more importantly, which diets will do long-term damage to your health and waistline? We look at the nutritional basis of these diet trends. [Read more...]

Easy ways to jumpstart your diet

Frustrated by your weight? It can take a heck of a lot of motivation to start on a huge exercise program or embrace a rigorous diet, but even a few small changes can help shave off those extra pounds, and hopefully jumpstart your commitment to healthier (and fitter!) living. Here are some tips. [Read more...]