Thai Massage in Baltimore


What if I told you there was something out that that combined acupressure, static and dynamic stretching, healing touch, and meditation? Sound too good to be true? Well, it is real! And it is called Thai massage.

Thai massage is one of my favorite ways to relax, heal, and recharge by restoring the body’s imbalances and relieving tension. Treating yourself to a thai massage can transport you, and sometimes it is nice to get away- even if it is for just an hour or two. But treating yourself does not necessarily mean breaking the bank. Here is a wonderful local option that helps promote wellness and stills allow you to be mindful of your budget: Thai Massage in Baltimore


April Showers Brings Super Health Powers!


April is National Gardening Month, so head to your favorite nursery and stock up on mulch, plant food, and your favorite garden veggies and flowers! Did you know that gardening is the ultimate Mind-Body workout? Getting outside helps create a calm relaxed state of mind, helping you let go of those everyday stressors. Added benefits? Major calorie burning, functional exercising, and free produce!

Here are some tips and checklists and added benefits to help you get started!

10 Biggest Food and Weight Loss Stories of 2014


The following article was written by Cynthia Sass and was originally published on

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I compiled my last round-up, but it’s that time again! As a research junkie, I think this year’s crop of studies in the areas of nutrition and weight management have been particularly fascinating.

Here are my top 10 picks for discoveries that have either broadened our knowledge, or shed new light on the best ways to stay nourished and lean.

Night shift workers burn fewer calories

This intriguing study found that shift workers burn fewer calories, which means that the amount of food needed to maintain weight becomes excessive, promoting weight gain. The lesson: if your job requires working when most people are sleeping, find ways to curb your calorie intake, or employ healthy habits to help regulate or suppress your appetite.

Gut bacteria play a major role in weight control

Number one on my list of the compelling revelations in 2014 is the handful of studies about the role of gut microorganisms in weight management. One study found that there is a relationship between body clock regulation, gut microbiota, and metabolism. When mice received gut bacteria from jet-lagged humans, they gained significant amounts of weight and had abnormally high blood sugar levels (yikes!). Another found that gut bacteria affect cravings, mood, and food choices. And a third concluded that the healthfulness of gut bacteria may play a role in metabolic syndrome risk. All of this research may lead to a future that involves personalized gut microbe testing, special diets specifically designed to alter these organisms, or tailored probiotic therapy. Stay tuned!

Coffee may help prevent obesity

If there’s one thing my clients love, it’s hearing that a food they enjoy is actually beneficial. Two studies this year offered some good news about java. Animal research from researchers at the University of Georgia concluded that a compound in coffee called CGA allowed mice fed a fatty diet to not only stave off weight gain, but also maintain normal blood sugar levels and healthy livers. Another Spanish study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise, compared to those who gulped down a placebo. For more about other potential health benefits of enjoying your morning cup of Joe, check out my post 6 Healthy Reasons to Keep Loving Coffee.

Obesity tied to autoimmune diseases

We’ve heard plenty about the connection between obesity and chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But research from Tel Aviv University concluded that obesity leads to a breakdown of the body’s protective self-tolerance mechanisms, which results in a pro-inflammatory environment that may lead to or worsen autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s Disease and multiple sclerosis, or hinder their treatment. The silver lining: adequate vitamin D may help, both with immunity and weight control. Here’s more about vitamin D, and 6 other nutrients to zero in on as you age.

In women, optimism affects diet quality

There aren’t a lot of feel-good studies tied to weight management, but I loved the conclusion of this one from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, researchers found that those with higher levels of optimism made healthier choices, and had more success in making dietary changes over a one-year period. Those who scored better on the healthy eating index also had lower BMIs, smaller waist measurements, and fewer chronic health conditions. More proof that attitude is everything.

There’s a new type of good fat

When scientists say they’re blown away, it’s pretty big news. And that’s just what researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center declared when they uncovered a previously unidentified class of fat molecules that enhance blood sugar control, and may offer a promising avenue for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Unlike omega-3 fatty acids, which are not made in mammals, these “good” fats, called FAHFAs, are produced and broken down in the body. Feeding mice extra FAHFAs resulted in a rapid and dramatic drop in blood sugar. Scientists also looked at FAHFA levels in humans, and found they were 50 to 75% lower in those who were insulin resistant and at high risk for developing diabetes. The data suggest that changes in FAHFA levels may contribute to diabetes. Groundbreaking. Surely there will be more research to come in this area.

Produce is connected to happiness

I love getting my hands on any research related to happiness, so I was thrilled to find this study, which tied healthy food choices to mental health. Scientists at the University of Warwick’s Medical School found that five daily servings of produce may just keep the blues away. More than a third of subjects with high mental well-being consumed five or more daily servings of fruits and veggies. In contrast, happiness was high in less than 7% of those who ate less than one daily portion of produce. In another study in young adults, a higher fruit and veggie intake was tied to “flourishing,” which includes greater happiness, creativity, curiosity, and positivity. For more about how eating well can bolster your mood, check out my post 5 Reasons to Eat Healthier Than Have Nothing to Do With Your Weight.

Umami may curb eating

A very foodie-forward study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that umami—also known as the 5th taste—boosts appetite but also increases post-meal satiety, which may help support weight control. Naturally found in mushrooms, truffles, green tea, seaweed, and tomatoes, incorporating more of this this unique palate pleaser may help you naturally eat less overall. To give it a try, check out my tips on umami, which include suggestions for now to sneak it into healthy meals.

“Fat shaming” causes weight GAIN, not loss

I think we all intuitively know this is true, yet weight bullying persists, even if it’s self-directed. In this UK study, researchers found that over four years, those who reported weight discrimination gained weight, whereas those who didn’t actually shed pounds. So if you tend to berate yourself, with a goal of weight loss motivation, stop. And for techniques that work check out my post 5 Dos and Don’ts for Weight Loss Motivation.

Language stimulates the brain in the same way as food

This compelling study found that the reward region of the brain that drives us to eat (and also enjoy sex, gambling, drugs, and games) is stimulated by learning new words and their meanings. Interesting! I can’t guarantee it will work, but when a craving strikes, try visiting a site like to see if logging some lingo time will satisfy your fix.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.

Cutting Calories Can Improve Sleep Apnea and Lower Blood Pressure in Obese People

sleep apnea

The following article was written by Justin Caba and was published on

People affected by sleep apnea experience pauses in breathing five to 30 times per hour a night, making restful sleep nearly impossible. A recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions 2014 has revealed that cutting calories can not only reduce high blood pressure among obese adults, but also improves obstructive sleep apnea.

“This study suggests that in obese patients with obstructive sleep apnea, moderate energy restriction can reduce not only body fat but also the severity of obstructive sleep apnea,” Dr. Marcia R. Klein, co-author of the study and adjunct professor in the Department of Applied Nutrition at Rio de Janero State University said in a statement. “So moderate energy restriction in these patients has the potential to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Klein and her colleagues recruited 21 obese people between the ages of 20 and 55 with a history of sleep apnea to take part in a 16-week randomized clinical trial. After splitting the participants into two groups, one group was asked to carry on with their current diet, while the second group was asked to cut 800 calories out of their daily caloric intake. The group that was asked to cut out 800 calories a day from their diet reported fewer pauses in breathing during sleep, lower blood pressure, higher levels of oxygen in their blood, and weight loss.

“Losing weight was most likely the key to all the benefits observed in the calorie-restricted group,” Klein added. “A greater reduction in systolic blood pressure can be explained, at least partially, by the reduction in body weight that was associated with reduction in obstructive sleep apnea severity and sympathetic nervous system activity.”

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, over 18 million people in the United States are affected by sleep apnea, making it just as common as type 2 diabetes. Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of a blocked airway caused by soft tissue in the back of throat collapsing and closing during sleep. Two major risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight and over the age of 40. Left untreated, sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, abnormal heart rhythm, and weight gain.

Source: Fernandez J, Lourdes M, Klein M, et al. Restricting calories may improve sleep apnea, blood pressure in obese people. American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions. 2014.

Photo Source


Eat More Fish, Save Your Hearing?

Baked Salmon

The following article was originally published at news.

FRIDAY, Sept. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Eating more fish may reduce a woman’s risk for hearing loss, according to a large new study.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that consuming at least two servings of fish and omega-3s (long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) each week could help prevent or delay hearing loss.

“Acquired hearing loss is a highly prevalent, and often disabling, chronic health condition,” the study’s corresponding author, Dr. Sharon Curhan, of the hospital’s Division of Network Medicine, said in a hospital news release. “Although a decline in hearing is often considered an inevitable aspect of aging, the identification of several potentially modifiable risk factors has provided new insight into possibilities for prevention or delay of acquired hearing loss.”

The study, published online Sept. 10 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved more than 65,000 women who were followed from 1991 to 2009. Of these women, more than 11,600 developed hearing loss.

But those women who ate two or more servings of fish weekly had a 20 percent lower risk for hearing loss than those who ate fish only rarely, the study showed. More specifically, eating more omega-3s, which are commonly found in seafood, was linked to a lower risk for hearing loss.

“Consumption of any type of fish (tuna, dark fish, light fish, or shellfish) tended to be associated with lower risk. These findings suggest that diet may be important in the prevention of acquired hearing loss,” noted Curhan.

While the researchers found an association between greater fish consumption and hearing preservation, they didn’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on the health benefits of fish and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat more fish…wisely. Click Here for a guide to purchasing sustainable seafood.

Exercise to Age Well, Whatever Your Age


The following article was written by Gretchen Reynolds and was published by the New York Times.

Offering hope and encouragement to the many adults who have somehow neglected to exercise for the past few decades, a new study suggests that becoming physically active in middle age, even if someone has been sedentary for years, substantially reduces the likelihood that he or she will become seriously ill or physically disabled in retirement.

The new study joins a growing body of research examining successful aging, a topic of considerable scientific interest, as the populations of the United States and Europe grow older, and so do many scientists. When the term is used in research, successful aging means more than simply remaining alive, although that, obviously, is the baseline requirement. Successful aging involves minimal debility past the age of 65 or so, with little or no serious chronic disease diagnoses, depression, cognitive decline or physical infirmities that would prevent someone from living independently.

Previous epidemiological studies have found that several, unsurprising factors contribute to successful aging. Not smoking is one, as is moderate alcohol consumption, and so, unfairly or not, is having money. People with greater economic resources tend to develop fewer health problems later in life than people who are not well-off.

But being physically active during adulthood is particularly important. In one large-scale study published last fall that looked at more than 12,000 Australian men aged between 65 and 83, those who engaged in about 30 minutes of exercise five or so times per week were much healthier and less likely to be dead 11 years after the start of the study than those who were sedentary, even when the researchers adjusted for smoking habits, education, body mass index and other variables.

Whether exercise habits need to have been established and maintained throughout adulthood, however, in order to affect aging has been less clear. If someone has slacked off on his or her exercise resolutions during young adulthood and early middle-age, in other words, is it too late to start exercising and still have a meaningful impact on health and longevity in later life?

To address that issue, researchers with the Physical Activity Research Group at University College London and other institutions turned recently to the large trove of data contained in the ongoing English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which has tracked the health habits of tens of thousands of British citizens for decades, checking in with participants multiple times and asking them how they currently eat, exercise, feel and generally live.

For the study, appearing in the February issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists isolated responses from 3,454 healthy, disease-free British men and women aged between 55 and 73 who, upon joining the original study of aging, had provided clear details about their exercise habits, as well as their health, and who then had repeated that information after an additional eight years.

The researchers stratified the chosen respondents into those who were physically active or not at the study’s start, using the extremely generous definition of one hour per week of moderate or vigorous activity to qualify someone as active. Formal exercise was not required. An hour per week of “gardening, cleaning the car, walking at a moderate pace, or dancing” counted, said Mark Hamer, a researcher at University College London who led the study.

The scientists then re-sorted the respondents after the eight-year follow-up, marking them as having remained active, become active, remained inactive or become inactive as they moved into and through middle-age. They also quantified each respondent’s health throughout those years, based on diagnosed diabetes, heart disease, dementia or other serious conditions. And the scientists directly contacted their respondents, asking each to complete objective tests of memory and thinking, and a few to wear an activity monitor for a week, to determine whether self-reported levels of physical activity matched actual levels of physical activity. (They did.)

In the eight years between the study’s start and end, the data showed, those respondents who had been and remained physically active aged most successfully, with the lowest incidence of major chronic diseases, memory loss and physical disability. But those people who became active in middle-age after having been sedentary in prior years, about 9 percent of the total, aged almost as successfully. These late-in-life exercisers had about a seven-fold reduction in their risk of becoming ill or infirm after eight years compared with those who became or remained sedentary, even when the researchers took into account smoking, wealth and other factors.

Those results reaffirm both other science and common sense. A noteworthy 2009 study of more than 2,000 middle-aged men, for instance, found that those who started to exercise after the age of 50 were far less likely to die during the next 35 years than those who were and remained sedentary. “The reduction in mortality associated with increased physical activity was similar to that associated with smoking cessation,” the researchers concluded.

But in this study, the volunteers did not merely live longer; they lived better than those who were not active, making the message inarguable for those of us in mid-life. “Build activity into your daily life,” Dr. Hamer said. Or, in concrete terms, if you don’t already, dance, wash your car and, if your talents allow (mine don’t), combine the two.


Herbal, Dietary Supplements May Harm Liver: Study


The following article was originally published in The Times of India:

If you think that herbals and dietary supplements are better than conventional medications for your health, think again.

A new study shows that liver injury caused by herbals and dietary supplements increased from seven percent to 20 percent in the US over a 10-year period.

Liver injury due to non-bodybuilding supplements is most severe, more frequently resulting in death or the need for transplantation than liver injury from bodybuilding supplements or conventional medications, said the study.

“With less stringent oversight for herbals and dietary supplements, there is greater potential for harmful consequences including life-threatening conditions,” cautioned Dr Victor Navarro from Einstein Medical Centre in Philadelphia.

The study examines hepatotoxicity due to supplements compared to medications, covering 839 patients with liver injury between 2004 and 2013.

Liver injury cases included 45 caused by bodybuilding supplements, 85 attributed to non-bodybuilding supplements, and 709 due to medications.

The research team determined that among cases enrolled, liver injuries from herbal and dietary supplements rose from seven percent to 20 percent during the study period.

While bodybuilding supplements caused prolonged jaundice in young men, no fatalities or liver transplantations occurred, concluded the team.

However, the team said that they could not conclude that liver injury due to herbals and dietary supplements in on the rise for which further population-based study of liver injury due to herbal products and dietary supplements is needed.

The study was published in the journal Hepatology.

Additional Resources:

The Smart and Safe Use of Vitamins and Supplements

Six Crucial Things to Watch Out For When Buying Vitamins & Supplements

Why You Should Pay Attention to the Glycemic Index of Foods

glycemic chart

The glycemic index is a numerical ranking of food that compares a food to table sugar. The higher the glycemic index, the greater the food’s effect on raising blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic index because blood sugar levels rise much more quickly than with the consumption of lower glycemic foods that release glucose gradually into the blood stream. In general, the lower the glycemic index of a food, the healthier it is for you. Please keep in mind that some low glycemic foods such as nuts and peanuts will not raise your blood sugar much, but they are extremely calorie dense and therefore should be enjoyed sparingly.  Below is a guide to help you make lower glycemic food choices.

High Glycemic Foods                     

White or Whole Wheat Bread


Dense, heavy breads that contain a lot of whole grains

Stone ground breads without enriched flour

High Glycemic Foods                       

White rice, Jasmine rice, quick cooking brown rice


Long grain brown rice

High Glycemic Food                         

White Potatoes


Sweet Potatoes, Yams

High Glycemic Foods                         

Corn, Millet, Tapioca


Barley, Bulgur wheat, Buckwheat

High Glycemic Foods                         

Mango, Pineapple, Dates. Watermelon


Apples, pears, cherries, blueberries, peaches, plums



Glycemic Index for 100+ Foods

Why is Weight Gain So Much Easier Over Age 40?


The following is an excerpt from an article written by Madelyn Fernstrom. It was originally published on

Why is weight gain so much easier after 40?

Metabolic rate slows by about 5 percent every decade
Translated into calories, this means most women by age 50 need to consume about 200 calories less every day compared to calories eaten at age 30, just to maintain the current weight. And while exercise can contribute to weight maintenance, eating too many calories is the main reason for weight gain.

Hormonal changes
While hormonal changes do not directly trigger weight gain, it becomes easier to gain weight with an altered hormone profile. Declining estrogen along with increasing cortisol levels (a response to dropping estrogen levels along with increasing stress) can both contribute to fat distribution in the body— even without weight change. Elevated cortisol levels can also shift where fat goes — to the middle — even without a change in weight.

Muscle mass decreases with age, while fat increases
Contrary to popular belief, muscle does not “turn into” fat. This comes from eating too much, and not exercising enough. Losing muscle mass decreases how well your body uses calories, making weight gain easier.

Related: 8 Diet Changes for Women Over 40