Smoking and Its Effects on the Youth

Teens Should Not SmokeSmoking has plenty of health risks. The younger you start, the more you are at risk for getting sick earlier and suffering from the negative consequences of this action.

Even then, smoking among teenagers and the youth continues to be a very common activity. Every day 1,500 kids pick up a cigarette and become regular smokers, and a third of them will die prematurely to cigarette related illnesses. Even with the habit’s known negative effects, the numbers continue to rise even  more.

Health Risks Associated With Smoking While Young

Because an individual’s body is still growing during his or her teenage years, teenagers and young ones are the most vulnerable to the deadly effects of smoking. Doing so during teenage years causes impaired lung growth, which can lead to various complications over time.

Here are some health risks associated by teenage smoking:

  • People who start smoking before turning 21 have been found to continue smoking throughout their lifetime and have the most difficult time quitting.
  • Teens who smoke have a lower rate of lung development and growth and have a lower level of lung function as well.
  • Smoking at an early age is also associated with other risky behavior such as drug use. In fact, teenagers who smoke have a higher chance of abusing alcohol and illegal drugs. Teens who smoke are three times to use alcohol than non-smokers and they are also more likely to use marijuana and cocaine.
  • Cigarette smoking enhances the risk of stroke and heart disease. Early signs of these problems have been found in adolescents who smoke.
  • Smoking reduces physical endurance and performance, causing shortness of breath for smokers.

Some Factors That Cause Tobacco Use

Tobacco or cigarette use among youth is attributed to many factors. First is the physical and social environment that the youth lives in, as well as small social groups that he or she is part of. Social norms portrayed in typical media like television shows, movies and advertising help promote smoking in many young people. Aside from that, teens with family members or peers who smoke also have a higher risk of smoking.

Cognitive and affective processes are also very instrumental factors. Teenagers who are constantly stressed, anxious or depressed can turn to cigarettes to help them feel better. Other factors include low socio economic status, low levels of academic achievement and low self image. Of course, the availability and accessibility of cigarettes at that very time and place also play a pivotal role in smoking among teens.

Initiatives For The Youth

Many programs on the national, state and local levels have been initiated to prevent and reduce tobacco smoking among the youth. Some of these include counter-advertising through popular media, community and school intervention programs and the increase of cost for tobacco products. Social and environmental factors can also help reduce smoking levels among youth, and these include religious or cultural participation, strong ethnic pride and racial identity and high academic aspirations and achievements.

Don’t Pick Up That Stick

If you are a teenager and you are entertaining the idea of smoking – don’t. It is not cool, and it definitely will not help your health at all. Studies also tell us that if an individual does not try smoking until he reaches eighteen years old, there’s a very good chance he won’t be picking up a cigarette at all. So if you have not picked up a stick so far, you’re definitely on the right track.

If you have already started smoking, then it is recommended that you stop as soon as you can. The earlier you do that, the better chances you have of avoiding the risks of developing health concerns related to tobacco use.

Vaping – An Alternative To Smoking

As it is rather difficult to quit smoking right away, you can use products or try methods that can help slow down your cigarette use or consumption, until you eventually stop.

Vaping, for example, is a better alternative to smoking. It provides the same sensation of inhaling and exhaling smoke (vapor, in this case) without the extra chemical ingredients and by-products that are in and produced by the combustion of the cigarette. Vaping also allows you to choose the amount of nicotine in your e-liquid or vape juice.

Aside from these benefits, vaping is also more socially acceptable than smoking because it does not produce second-hand smoke, which can be bothersome and unhealthy for bystanders. Pens produce vapor which immediately evaporates in the air without affecting anybody else.

Like our advice for smoking – if you don’t smoke or vape, don’t pick up a vape pen. You do not want to start a habit that you do not have at all. But, if you are a regular smoker, you might just want to make the switch to a better alternative, which can help you slow down your smoking and may just help you quit in the near future, too.

Do Stretch Marks Really Go Away?

Stretch Marks On Stomach RegionChances are, you probably have stretch marks or striae on at least one part of your body. Many of us consider these marks as effects of pregnancy, but they also affect non-pregnant women and men. Their thin, scar-like appearance can be somewhat distracting, leading to the number one question: do stretch marks go away?

First things first – the good news is that these striations are not symptoms of a serious condition. They are natural occurrences and develop in majority of the population. While that’s good news, the bad news is that you cannot completely erase them, no matter what kind of expensive stretch mark cream you use.

I’m Not Pregnant – Why Do I Have Stretch Marks?

A whopping ninety percent of all pregnant women get stretch marks, which explains why it is often associated with pregnancy. A lucky ten percent do not get as much as a hint of these marks on their bellies at all. What most of us don’t know is that seventy percent of all women who are not pregnant and forty percent of all men also develop these over time and bear these scars on their bodies. Ergo, you do not have to be pregnant to get them!

Stretch marks develop when the elastic middle layer of your skin known as the dermis is stretched continuously for a long period of time. The collagen in your skin allows it to stretch and return into shape, especially when you are young, but there are times when the skin is stretched beyond its limit, breaking down and forming scar tissues in the epidermis or the upper layer of the skin. During the process, the blood vessels become dilated, causing micro-bleeding of some sort, hence the dark purple and red color of fresh striae.

Stretch Marks and Hormones

Aside from understanding these marks from a “growth and skin expansion” point of view, it is also worthwhile to look at it from a  hormonal point of view. Women who are pregnant, teenagers going through puberty, those who lift weights and go through rapid muscle gain or those suffering from Cushing’s disease are more prone to developing it. Why? What is common in these conditions is that the adrenal gland secretes an increased amount of glucocorticoids, which are known to slow down the formation of stretch marks and elastin fiber.

When Do Stretch Marks Go Away?

So, we come to the most important question: do stretch marks go away and can you really get rid of them?

To be honest – you can’t. You cannot completely erase the stretch marks and get your unmarked skin back. However, there are things that you can do to help diminish their appearance and improve the way they look, often to the point where they are completely indistinguishable.

Here are some methods for stretch marks reduction:

  • Laser therapy – This makes use of intense lights to increase the growth of collagen, melanin and elastin in your skin. Laser stretch marks removal treatments have been shown to produce positive results, but are rather quite expensive and require several sessions before you start seeing results.
  • Tretinoin cream – Also known as Retin-A, Avitaca and Renova, which can help rebuild collagen and make your striae look just like normal skin. This treatment is best recommended when you are treating them early on. It is important that you seek guidance and recommendation from your dermatologist before using any of these products.
  • Microdermabrasion – This involves blasting tiny crystals on your skin, which polish the surface and help promote regrowth. This stretch marks removal treatment will be administered by a professional and will also require several sessions before you start seeing results.
  • Stretch Mark Cream and Lotion – There are various stretch marks creams and lotions available in the market that contain ingredients that help exfoliate and promote skin cell renewal. Your best options are creams that have vitamin E, coca butter, sweet almond oil and olive oil as their base or main ingredients.

Preventive MeasuresTake care and love your body

You cannot really prevent stretch marks (they can happen to you or anybody at all!). This does not mean, however, that you should not try because you can do some things to lessen the risk of having them on your skin. If you are pregnant, gaining weight or going through a growth spurt, you can try some of these helpful measures:

  • Keep the skin healthy, moist and elastic by hydrating yourself. To stay hydrated from the inside, drink eight to ten glasses of water each day. Use a moisturizing lotion on striae-prone areas like the arms, stomach, buttocks, thigh and breasts.
  • Get your daily fill of vitamin C and zinc and protein. Drink your vitamins and load up on food that are rich in these nutrients. This is also the perfect time to go on your detox or juice cleanse, because many fruits are rich in vitamin C, zinc and other antioxidants. On the plus side, you can use the pulp for home-made exfoliation.
  • Get plenty of exercise to keep your weight in check. Whether you’re pregnant or not, you want to keep weight gain to a minimum to avoid rapid growth and stretching of the skin. Do not forget to do strengthening exercises to promote muscle tone.

What’s Wrong With Stretch Marks Anyway?

Even if you moisturize till your skin glistens and hydrate like a fish, you cannot really be 100% to avoid the occurrence of stretch marks. With the tips provided above, you can help avoid them or improve the way they look if you already have them. But what if you have a little bit of striae here and there?

Stretch marks are harmless and painless, and there’s really nothing wrong with them. Everybody has them – even models that you see in magazines have them. Unlike acne, stretch marks do not get infected and do not hurt. Before trying any stretch mark cream or treatment out, it is important that you keep your expectations in check, so you will know what you should expect. It’s fine to spend money, time and effort on stretch mark removal, but do not let it be the only thing you worry about that it ends up consuming you.

How To Survive Your First Juice Cleanse

Many people doing their first juice cleanse end up abandoning or not finishing the whole thing because of many reasons. One of the most common reasons is because they have not prepared themselves physically and mentally for it. Not knowing what to expect or not liking the effects of your cleanse can easily lead you to stop what you’re doing. Thus, it is important to take the proper steps to make sure that you survive your first juice cleanse.

So, how do you get ready for a fast and how do you make sure that you stick to it? It goes beyond preparing a list for your detox recipe or creating a schedule for your meals. You also need to prepare your body and your mind. Read on to find out what you should do.Various fruits, vegetables and juices in mason jars

Prepare Your Body

If you are planning to get that totally toned and sexy body by summer, then you may be raring to jump right in and start your diet right away. This, unfortunately, is not the best way to start your cleanse.

It is important that you do a little preparation, because it will help the way you respond to the whole fast. During the whole period, you will be drinking raw detox drinks made from fruits and vegetables, and some drinks made primarily from green ingredients may put you off if you are not accustomed to the taste of veggies. Get your palate ready by getting your fill of vegetable dishes during your meals the weeks leading to the big day.

It is also helpful that you cut back on certain foods like sugars, coffee, dairy, alcohol and wheat a couple of days before the cleanse, since this helps reduce cravings and headaches – mostly symptoms of food withdrawal. Some other things you can avoid include nicotine, caffeinated drinks, animal products and processed food. It may also help to drink a lot of water and drink a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water several days ahead.

Prepare Your Mind

Preparing your mind is also a very, very important thing that you want to do to make sure that you survive your first juice cleanse. It is very easy to just give up your liquid diet and gobble up the first cookie you find, but if you have the right mindset, you can help yourself get past that.

To start, make sure that you do your research ahead of time. Find out what you are in for – the possible side effects and other things that you need to expect that may happen like food cravings and feelings of light-headedness. You may also want to speak to a health care provider and have yourself checked to see if doing this whole thing is really a good idea for you.

Cravings are your enemy throughout the period, so you want to avoid things that trigger eating like photos of food in social media sites and blogs. You may also want to avoid going to the mall or meeting up with people in restaurants and cafes. Seeing a big, fat, juicy burger is complete torture if you know you are going to be stuck with liquids for the next two days. Help yourself and keep away from them just for the next few days. It also helps that you keep yourself busy during this time so you can distract yourself from food. Keep your mind occupied with work or school. Write, read a book, do light exercises.

Creating Your Cleanse

The juice program at Blue Print CleanseMost people order detox drinks from a provider, and you can take this route for your first detox diet. This is great if you are a beginner and have no idea what to do or what detox recipe to follow, or if you want to go on a cleanse and do not have a juicer at home. In this case, your supplier will deliver at least six to eight bottles of fresh fruit and vegetable drinks every morning which will be your meals for the day.

While there is really nothing wrong with ordering and buying your drinks, many people like to go DIY because you can decide what goes in your drinks. It is also more affordable. If you plan to do so, it is important that you research on recipes and put together a menu that you can follow. You will probably just need at least five to six recipes which you can alternate for the next three days. Create a grocery list for your fruits and veggies from this menu.

All you have to do then is follow each detox recipe as you make your drinks throughout the day.  To give you an idea of how much you need to make, it is recommended that you drink at least 12 to 24 ounces every meal.

Other Bases To Cover

We’ve already covered the basics when it comes to preparation, but here are some more helpful reminders that you can keep in mind:

  • Drink your fruit drink right after making it to make sure that it does not lose all its nutrients and enzymes.
  • Have fun with your drinks! When researching for recipes, you may find some ingredients unappealing or unavailable. Feel free to search for alternatives and substitutes.
  • Make sure you use at least 60 to 70 percent vegetables for every drink. Most fruits are rather high in fructose, which can lease to unwanted spikes in your blood sugar.
  • Peeling, slicing and cutting produce can be a chore, especially if you are in a rush in the morning. You can get your ingredients ready the night before, store them in the freezer and take them out in the morning. All you have to do is pop them in the juicer.
  • While fresh is best, not all of us have the time to make your drink right before every meal. With this, you can also make all of them in the morning and store them in airtight glass bottles inside the fridge for the whole day. Just make sure that you drink everything up within twenty four hours, otherwise they won’t have any antioxidants and nutrients left for you.
  • Do not eat solid food throughout the whole cleanse, otherwise you will defeat its whole purpose.
  • Headaches and strong cravings are a bit normal for the first one or two days. That’s why it is best to schedule your cleanse when you are not ultra-busy or have the time to stay at home.
  • Drink one or two glasses of water with every meal. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
  • Split your grocery shopping into two or three, depending on how long the cleanse is. If possible, you may want to get your produce daily. You want your ingredients (leafy greens, most especially) to be really fresh when you juice them.
  • Avoid heavy exercises and other strenuous activities. You won’t be getting too much protein from your drinks, so you want to ward off on activities that will make you feel hungrier than usual. Light exercises like yoga or an easy walk is something that you can do.

People get through juice cleanses all the time, which means that you can, too. A little preparation goes a very long way to make the whole thing a breeze. Happy juicing!

How To Fit and Stay Healthy When You Travel

Exercising On The BeachTraveling is fun, but it can be difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle when you are constantly on the road or in the air. Most of us start fostering healthy and fit routines at home or with the help of gym memberships, we often follow a strict routine when it comes to exercise and food, so it can be quite difficult when we leave town or when our schedules are thrown around.

Staying fit and healthy while travelling is indeed doable although it may take a bit of work on your part, but what is extra work when we’re talking about your health?

Keeping yourself healthy and fit has plenty of immediate benefits that work well for you, especially on your trip. For starters, you can avoid fatigue that is associated with long drives and flights. You also become alert and ready for whatever activity you may have. Lastly, keeping yourself fit helps reduce the occurrences of jet lag. Even simple stretching and mild exercise can do wonders and boost circulation, so you don’t end up feeling sluggish after your flight.

Exercising When Traveling

Are you ready to stay healthy when travelling? Here are some tips that you can follow when it comes to exercise.

  • Bring running shoes or exercise sneakers, and it is best if you have it in your carry-on if you are expecting a long lay-over or waiting time in between flights. This way you can do exercises everywhere, like what we suggest in the second tip.
  • Walk to the next terminal. Is your flight delayed or is your connecting flight not until the next few hours? Then you can try walking in the airport. Don’t worry about looking foolish when you’re walking around in your sneakers – people won’t mind! There are probably many others doing the same, too!
  • Stretch pre and post flight. Muscles tend to be tight after long trips, so you want to keep them warmed up before and after your flight. Stretch your legs, arms and back – and once your reach your destination, do a couple of downward dogs and child’s poses to help your body reset.
  • Pack the right tools for exercise. You definitely do not want to bring a dumbbell, that’s obvious, but there are many space saving and lightweight equipment that you can bring along with you. Jump ropes and resistance bands are your best bets. Fitness videos are also a great choice that you can bring along with you.
  • Check out the scene – and do it beforehand. You can do research prior to your trip so you can check out nearby gyms and fitness centers or even classes that you may want to join. Many yoga studios and fitness gyms have one-time deals for first time visitors, which are usually a fraction of the actual walk-in rates. They are relatively cheap and affordable, so make the most out of them. It is also a great chance to get out of your hotel and meet other people.
  • Go outdoors. Ask around for the best routes you can go on for running or walking, or find a nearby park where joggers converge. This is also a great way to see the city and its sights.
  • Make do with what you have. If your hotel has a swimming pool, be sure to pack your swimsuit and make use of the pool. Swimming is one of the best exercises that you can do without te need for any equipment. Or, you can do bodyweight exercises inside your hotel room. A few circuits can rev your metabolism up, so even fifteen minutes of working out can do a lot of difference. You can also use the stairs and go up and down for a quick cardio exercise.

Eating Yourself Healthy

  • Hydrate. Drink plenty of water during your trip. Most people tend to avoid drinking water especially during long bus or train rides, because they want to avoid the urge to use the toilet especially when on the road as it is not so convenient. If this is the case, you want to hydrate yourself well before your trip and right after you reach your destination. Get as much as eight to ten glasses per day.
  • Don’t give in to junk. Resist the urge to go to the nearest fast food or grab a bag of chips when waiting for your ride or your next trip. Healthy food like salads are available everywhere, and you can buy fruit from local stores. Just as it is helpful that you try to go out to exercise, you should also try to go out and check out local fare as well. If you are adventurous, you can try local delicacies, which are often always made fresh. This is definitely a better option than boxed food or fast food. Locals can point you to places that serve healthy meals, so do not hesitate to ask people. You can also bring healthy snacks with you which can help if you can’t find them in the area.
  • Plan in advance. If you like to prepare your own food, look for a hotel or accommodation that has a kitchenette or at least, a refrigerator so you can prepare your own food or store healthy snacks like yogurt or kefir. You may also want to look for hotels with healthy restaurants or eateries near it, so you can easily buy healthy food whenever you get hungry.

Avoid Getting Sick

Aside from exercising well and eating well, you also want to keep yourself healthy and fit, considering that it can be a bane to be sick away from home. You also do not want to catch a bug and bring it back home with you, so how do you keep yourself healthy and avoid being sick?

  • Do your research. If you have to travel somewhere far or to another country, you may want to do your research ahead and even visit a travel clinic to find out what kinds of diseases and illnesses are specific to the area which you have to prepare for. This way, you can get the necessary pre-emptive measures like medication or vaccinations prior to your trip.
  • Strengthen your immune system. Long tips, dry cabin air, cramped public transportation can all take a toll on your health. When you are stressed (which you usually are during trips), your immune system also takes a dip, so if you don’t have a strong immune system to begin with, it can be easy for you to catch a cough or a cold or any similar bug. This is why it is important to boost your immune system prior to your flight. Get moving and eat healthy weeks prior to your trip, and then boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with the help of supplements.
  • Improve your toiletry kit. You will never know what will happen during your trip. You can be caught in the middle of nowhere with a nasty allergic reaction from something you got in contact with, or experience a muscle injury without pain medicine readily available. With that, you may want to bring more than just your toothbrush. Pack a kit containing over the counter meds like pain-killers and, hydro-cortisone or any anti itch cream, antibacterial wipes, throat lozenges and fever and cold medication

What about you, how do you keep yourself fit and healthy when you travel? We would like to hear from you!

Veggies You Should Always Have In Your Fridge

Vegetables You Should Always HaveIf you are trying to eat healthy, then vegetables should always be a staple in your fridge, as well as fruits. Experts recommend eating at least three servings of fruits and veggies daily, and if you feel that you cannot get them by eating alone, then you can also do so by incorporating them in your juice and in your smoothies.

There are many kinds of vegetables in the market, and it’s easy to just pick a few of them and put them in your grocery cart. However, it’s important to get as much variety in your meals every day, so you should also choose a variety of veggies and not just rely on lettuce alone.

To help you shop, here is a list of vegetables that you should always have in your fridge or kitchen, everyday:


Celery is often associated with diets, but evidence suggests that they pack a wide range of benefits for every punch! At only ten calories per stalk, it is rich in vitamin K, folate, potassium and pthalides, which are natural diuretics and are known to support the circulatory system and reduce the risk of high blood pressure


Carrots are great for your eyesight because of its beta carotene content, which the body converts to vitamin A to keep your macula strong and prevent glaucoma. Regular intake of carrots has also been shown to improve night vision, which is great if you’re always driving at night.

Helpful Tip: Aside from this, carrots also have an antiseptic compound that helps in would healing and bacterial growth prevention. All you have to do is shred the carrots (while raw), cook them and mash them. Apply the mashed vegetable on the affected area for several minutes before rinsing. Studies show that peeled and shredded carrots stop food bacteria from multiplying, which also supports the theory that they have antiseptic properties.


Another cruciferous vegetable on the list, and this one packs a punch with its antioxidant content, which is known to reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancers. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin C, folate and beta carotene, and is a good option when you are down with the flu or colds.

Brussels Sprouts

Some people love Brussels sprouts and some people hate them, but whether you are a fan of it or not, you can be sure to fight cancer if you constantly have it in your diet. Brussels sprouts have the highest amounts of glucosinolates in comparison to all other cruciferous vegetables, and glucosinolates are anti-carcinogetic compounds that cause self destruction to cancer cells.


Slices of OnionOften a bane in the kitchen for causing tears when sliced, this flavorful vegetable contains thiosulfinates, which can help with circulatory problems. Thiosulfinates are the same compounds that cause the eye to tear up are also the same compounds that thin the blood and keep platelets from clotting and clumping. Onions also contain quercitin, which relaxes dilated blood vessels, helping reduce the risk of stroke as well.

That’s not all, though. They also have high vitamin C content and provide ample amounts of calcium, folic acid, iron and dietary fiber.


Usually the partner of onions in the kitchen, garlic is a powerful spice that contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. In fact, it may even prevent some cases of food poisoning by killing bacteria such as those that cause salmonella and e coli. That’s not all. Garlic is also a very helpful for the cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and protecting your heart. It also boosts the immune system and normalizes blood sugar levels.

On top of this, studies also show the possibility of garlic protecting against several types of cancers including those of the breast, colon and prostate. Because garlic works well with all kinds of food, you can never go wrong with having it for any type of meal.

Bell Peppers

These add flavor and crunch to any meal, but also provide you with twice your daily allowance of vitamin C. Aside from vitamin C, bell peppers also contain a rich amount of B6, which regulates metabolism. It is also rich in minerals like zinc, manganese and potassium, which are known to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Helpful Tip: Add bell peppers to salads or any meals that call for color and flavor.


Dubbed as one of the powerful greens, Kale packs a very strong punch which includes your daily recommended dose of vitamin A, vitamin C (more than your average orange), vitamin K, calcium and lutein. On top of these basic things, kale is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains kaemferol, which activates genes that promote long life. Add kale in your salad or as a base for a delicious fruit juice or smoothie.


A Bed of SpinachAnother green, leafy powerhouse, spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, lutein, vitamin C and potassium – somewhat just like kale, so you can actually substitute one for the other in case you can’t find them in the supermarket.

A spinach-rich diet can keep your immune system strong and prevent a host of conditions ranging from heart disease to arthritis to colon cancer and osteoporosis.

Helpful Tip: Spinach isn’t just for salads! Have them in the morning with your eggs. Simply chop a few clean leaves up and add them to whisked eggs. Add onions and tomatoes to make a delicious and nutritious breakfast.


While technically a fruit, most of us serve tomatoes like vegetables and add it to salads or cook them with the rest of our food. Red, tasty and juicy, tomatoes contain the immune and vision boosting Vitamins A and C. It is very rich in lycopene which is known for its cancer fighting abilities. It also has antioxidants that keep free radicals from destroying your body cells.

Helpful Tip: tomatoes and tomato based foods spoil easily, so make sure that you prepare them by batch or store left-over properly in the fridge.

Just these vegetables?

While this is a list of vegetables that you should always have in your fridge, it does not mean that you should not get other kinds of vegetables as well. However, this list is comprised of the best choices when it comes to nutrient content, which means that you get more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes per serving than other veggies. Whatever you put in your fridge (and eat) is fine, the idea is that you add more vegetables to your diet!

There are many recipes that you can follow that use these veggies as ingredients, and they are yummy, too! So have fun cooking and stay healthy.