Finland: The Happiest Country On Earth!

By Aaditi P, Writer  for Youngzine



City of Helsinki in Finland; Image Pixabay/tap5a

What better occasion to announce some happy news than these grim times that we are pushing through?

Just in time for the UN’s International Day of Happiness on March 20, the World Happiness Report announced a listing of the world’s happiest countries – with Finland emerging as the winner for the third year in a row!

The runner ups, which also happen to be European countries, are Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway.

Many Finns are confused at the idea that they could win the award for the happiest country when they are simply content with their lives. Let’s take a look at how the happiest country is determined…

How are the Rankings Determined?

Image DW/World Happiness ReportIt may seem strange to imagine happiness as something that can be measured.

When asked about how a country can be the “happiest,” John F. Helliwell, one of the editors of the report, explained that happiness does not depend on a counted number of smiles but on the trust and confidence that people have in each other.

The editors of the World Happiness Report used data from the Gallup World Poll to rank the countries. Additionally, they looked at six factors: levels of income, life expectancy, generosity, freedom, social support, and trust.

This poll that people in countries around the world answered includes a set of yes/no questions about their lifestyle and emotions. The survey also includes questions like one where the respondent was asked to rank their life as if they were on a ladder (0 on the bottom to 10 at the top) and the happiest life was at the top.

The results of the survey and an examination of the factors ranked the happiest countries in the world, along with the least happy. The countries that are at the bottom of the list in terms of happiness are Afghanistan, followed by the African countries of South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and the Central African Republic.

Finns and their Lifestyle

Cricau Festival; Image WikipediaSo what exactly in the lifestyle of Finns makes them stand out? As mentioned before, trust is a key part of a healthy and happy life. A common theme that many of the lower-ranking countries on the list shared is the people’s distrust and fear of their government.

However, according to the survey’s results, 91% of Finns are satisfied and trust their president, while 86% trust their police.

Not only does Finland have a smooth, trustworthy democracy, but also a progressive education system and almost perfect gender equality. One of the biggest factors of the Finns’ content lifestyles, however, is due to their universal healthcare system.

All in all, it is the community and trust that boosts Finland to the top of the happiest countries list. So, although it may be a time of stress and fear, experts say that this is also a time to increase our overall happiness if people come together to support each other.

Get Yourself Out of a Rut

By Maggie Winzeler


I’ve noticed that a lot of people get stuck in a rut at the end of a season. The exciting anticipation of the holidays and snowflakes dwindles. The refreshing warmth of the summer becomes overbearing. Anyone else feel like August’s humidity can be relentless? The enthusiasm for a workout program fades. It can be hard to refocus or start fresh with goals and plans. So, how do you get out a rut? Here are just a few simple ways you can get back on your feet (metaphorically and literally).

Move in New Ways

I’ve blogged about moving in all three planes of motion to enhance our body’s circulation, strength, flexibility and balance, but what does that look like in a workout routine? Now’s the time to shake off the stagnation and try a new workout (see below). Maybe it will inspire you to try some other new moves? Nothing like a good sweat to feel better…


20 squats

12 alternating lunges

30-second straight-arm plank

Repeat 2-3x

Circuit #1:

14 alternating lunges with single dumbbell twist across front leg

V-sit with overhead single dumbbell press (total 30-45 seconds)

20 lateral squat jumps

Single dumbbell wood chop with side lunge (10 per side)

Repeat 2-3x


Circuit #2:

14 alternating backwards lunges with dumbbell lateral raise

Plank position with single dumbbell alternating arm row and body twist (8-10 per side)

15 lateral box jumps or step ups

15 sit-ups with oblique twists

Repeat 2-3x


Circuit #3:

14 alternating curtsy lunges with dumbbell bicep curls

12 double leg lifts with scissor open/closes at top/bottom

20 “speed skater” side-to-side jumps

10 prone back extensions with breaststroke arms as lift

Repeat 2-3x

Commit to a Daily Routine

The simple daily actions we can take towards better health and happiness are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They may feel like the journey but they’re the destination.  Enjoy your journey.

Meghan Markle’s trainer reveals 6 tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

By Gabby Landsverk of Insider
Slide 1 of 7: 

    The holiday season is notorious for breaking up
    otherwise healthy eating and

    But strong habits and good planning can help prevent
    holiday overindulgence, according to Sebastien Lagree, personal
    trainer to A-List stars like Meghan
    Markle, Michelle
    Obama, and Kim

    Eating before your big meal, drinking plenty of water,
    and making time for just five minutes of exercise a day can
    help keep you healthy and fit.  

    And, if you're generally healthy, a day or two of
    festivities won't do any lasting harm to diet or exercise
    goals, so don't stress. 

    Insider's homepage for more. 

  Between the cold weather and an abundance of meal-based
  gatherings, holiday season can wreak havoc on your healthy
  habits. But it doesn't have to, according to 
  Sebastien Lagree, founder of Lagree Fitness and personal
  trainer to a long list of A-list stars, including Meghan Markle,
  Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian. 

  It's still possible to stay on track with healthy eating and
  exercise goals from Thanksgiving to New Year's, Lagree told
  Insider, if you follow a few simple tips. Here's his advice.
Pool/Samir Hussein contributor/Getty Images

Between the cold weather and an abundance of meal-based gatherings, holiday season can wreak havoc on your healthy habits. But it doesn’t have to, according to Sebastien Lagree, founder of Lagree Fitness and personal trainer to a long list of A-list stars, including Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian.

It’s still possible to stay on track with healthy eating and exercise goals from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, Lagree told Insider, if you follow a few simple tips:

Slide 6 of 7: 
  On a cold winter day, especially after a big meal, it can be
  tempting to skip the snowy trek to the gym in favor of cozying up
  indoors. But Lagree said it's still possible to get in a solid
  workout, even without equipment or much time. 

  He recommended slow, isometric workouts - exercises that hold
  tension through the movement - like lunges, wall sits, 
  planks, tricep dips, and crunches. 

  Pick five and do each for a minute, in any order. "Move so
  slow you can feel gravity pulling your body to the floor, feel
  your body fighting gravity," Lagree said.

  For an added challenge, add a "pulse" movement to static holds.
  In a squat, for instance, hold the position, then very slowly
  move up and down a tiny amount, still maintaining a low squat.
  For plank, lower into a partial push-up position and back into

  "You don't have to do it for hours," Lagree said. "Just a few
  seconds will get your heart rate up."




Be Careful of these Toxic Chemicals

19 Dangers Inside Your Spring Cleaning Products

Originally posted on

“Nothing welcomes spring more than a thorough top-to-bottom, deep cleaning of your home. But the products we use to get that sparkle often contain ingredients that are unhealthy and even dangerous to us. They make spring cleaning easier but at the risk of good health. Know the dangers of what you’re using, and consider making changes.
BLEACH: Bleach, for example, is highly toxic, and its fumes can cause eye and lung irritation, chest pain and asthma. Mixing it with other cleaning chemicals can make it even more dangerous”.

Learn about 18 other toxic chemicals that might be in your store-bought cleaners:


These 8 Foods Are Most Likely to Trigger Arthritis Flares

By Justine Figueroa

Protect your joints against pain and inflammation by avoiding these arthritis trigger foods.


One of the foods to avoid with arthritis are dairy products. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can specifically flare up in response to the proteins found in dairy. Some people with RA are actually intolerant to proteins found in milk; their bodies form antibodies to milk proteins, and attack those proteins when they’re found in the body, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. But not everyone reacts the same way to milk—or to other various types of dairy. In a 2015 study of women with osteoarthritis, milk improved knee pain but cheese actually made it worse. Experiment to see how foods tend to affect your particular type of arthritis.

Fried foods

A study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that cutting back on fried, processed food may reduce inflammation in the body. Fried foods contain lots of saturated fats, which can worsen inflammation. Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, suggests switching to unsaturated fats, like olive oil, rather than butter, to see improvements in symptoms.


Processed sugars found in many prepackaged snack foods release an inflammatory trigger called cytokines into the body that can exacerbate arthritis symptoms, making it another one of the foods to avoid with arthritis. A study published in the journal Rheumatology found that participants reported immediate painful symptoms after indulging in refined sugar and sweets. Researchers believe that the increase in painful symptoms is a result of increased glucose levels.


Meats are higher in fats and calories, which are easily metabolized into chemicals that cause inflammation in the body. It’s worse if you grill, sear, or fry meats at high temperatures because that mouth-watering charred flavor is actually from toxins called AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that damage proteins in the body. AGEs are broken apart by cytokines, which can then cause inflammation. “We expect that increased levels of AGEs increase inflammation, although a direct link to arthritis is not firmly established,” says Jaime Uribarri, MD, a nephrologist at Mount Sinai Hospital who has lead many studies on the topic.

White flour-based products

White foods are bad news for arthritis. We’re talking white rice, potatoes, breads, and crackers—all of which contain refined carbohydrates. These foods also hike production of AGEs and cause inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The molecular structure of refined (aka white) grains is fairly simple: “The body turns them into sugar more quickly, and sugar is highly inflammatory,” says Barbara Olendzki, nutrition program director of the Center for Applied Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Choose whole or multi-grain carbohydrate options whenever possible. If you don’t want to give up all your favorites for good, learn how to cook white rice and potatoes in a way that increases resistant starch.


Sorry, java lovers. Coffee has been linked to increased chance of developing RA and it’s one of the foods to avoid with arthritis. Researchers believe that some ingredients in coffee trigger rheumatoid factor, which can later progress to RA, although the findings are based on a study of Finnish coffee drinkers who drank boiled coffee, which may influence its impact on the body. However, it’s still cause for concern. A 2009 study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy found that even decaffeinated coffee contributed to the development of RA and suggests switching to antioxidant-rich tea.


Gluten, a sticky protein found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, oats, and rye, can promote inflammation. People who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which gluten prompts the body to literally attack certain food proteins and injuring the digestive tract should go 100 percent gluten-free, as should arthritis patients who have gluten intolerance, a less serious condition that can still trigger inflammation and other symptoms. Nutritionist and health expert Joy Bauer suggests that people with certain types of arthritis get tested for celiac disease, as they are both autoimmune diseases that often occur together.


Alcohol doesn’t just impact liver function, it also disrupts interactions between other organs, potentially causing inflammation. Although some research suggests that red wine can help to keep the heart, muscles, and joints healthy, a 2006 study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that excessive use of alcohol increases the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Stick with a maximum of one glass a day for women, two for men.

Originally Published in Reader’s Digest

10 Proven Ways to Fight Inflammation

Elderly woman suffering from pain From Rheumatoid ArthritisBy Emily DiNuzzo and Everyday Wellness

This includes everything from stressing less to cooking with spices and more.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to a short-term threat such as an injury, burn, or surgery, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is an ongoing response to a longer-term medical condition such as arthritis, asthma, or Chron’s disease, among others, per Medical News Today. This type of inflammation could cause health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, and even some cancers.  Here are some tips for how to fight inflammation.

Eat a Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet focuses on nutrient-dense, mostly plant-based whole foods and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, legumes, and grains, according to Malina Linkas Malkani, RD, RDN, CDN, media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Multiple studies show that following a Mediterranean diet has not only an intense anti-inflammatory effect but also improves cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.

Limit heavily processed foods

According to Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian™ Lifestyle, reducing or limiting processed foods is another smart move to fight inflammation. This includes foods high in added sugar, man-made fats, fried goods, processed meats, and salts. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition specifically warns that foods high in processed sugars release pro-inflammatory cytokines—proteins released from certain cells.

Cook with herbs and spices

Embrace herbs and spices in your cooking. In addition to adding flavor, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and especially turmeric all have anti-inflammatory properties. According to Malkani, turmeric contains the specific compound curcumin which helps lower inflammation levels in the body. Malkani advises pairing it with black pepper to promote better absorption.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Getting your fruits and vegetables in might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to reiterate the health benefits of both for inflammation. Malkani says people should focus on adding fruits to their diet because the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound anthocyanin is in everything from strawberries to cherries. “Try to eat at least one to two cups of whole fruit on a daily basis,” Malkani says. Vernon Williams, MD, a sports neurologist and founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California, adds that generally eating larger varieties of fresh, whole, colorful foods can help balance your diet.

Vitamin E-rich foods

An inflammation-fighting diet should include vitamin E-rich foods like nuts and seeds such as hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds, according to Kris Sollid, RD, senior director of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council Foundation. “Vegetable oils like sunflower and safflower oil as well as green vegetables like broccoli and spinach are also good sources,” Sollid says.

Get in your Omegas

According to Dr. Williams, omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids reduce and fight inflammation. Sollid adds that omega-3s are a double health whammy since they lower both blood pressure and inflammation while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. The U.S. dietary guidelines recommend two servings of seafood such as salmon, anchovies, or sardines to reap these Omega benefits.

Try yoga, Tai-chi, or meditation

Mind-body practices such as yoga, Tai-chi, and meditation help reduce stress and fight inflammation. New Scientist reports that meditation and Tai-chi can even impact the body on a cellular level. An analysis of 18 different studies found that genes related to inflammation were less active in people practicing mind-body activities. One of the researchers says the results also suggest these practices can reduce the risk for inflammation-related disorders themselves.

Stand, don’t sit

Prolonged sitting is linked to increased inflammation as well as a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even death, according to Kristine Arthur, MD, an internist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. That’s why Dr. Arthur recommends standing and moving your body as often as possible, even if you do exercise regularly. “The goal is to limit total hours of sitting during the day,” Dr. Arthur says. “Small changes like standing while on the phone or using a standing computer can have a big impact on the total hours of sitting.”

Exercise regularly

Similarly to standing instead of sitting, getting enough regular exercise can do wonders for inflammation. In fact, a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that just 20 minutes of exercise is enough to reduce inflammation. “Our study shows a workout session does not actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects,” Suzi Hong, MD, lead author of the study says. “Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, seems to be sufficient.”

Get enough sleep

Inflammation is linked to both too little and too much sleep. So yes, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Poor quality sleep and insomnia are especially associated with inflammation, per a report published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The ideal sleep duration is seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night, according to the report.

Originally Published on Reader’s Digest

7 Warning Signs of a Stroke Hiding in Plain Sight


Slide 1 of 8: On Monday, March 5th, 2018, actor Luke Perry passed away, at the age of 52, after complications related to a stroke. His death was a shock to many—especially those who loved him on shows like Riverdale and Beverly Hills, 90120—and jumpstarted a national conversation about stroke. Isn't he too young for that? (No.) Wasn't he in pretty good health? (Yes.) Can it happen to me? (Possibly.)Stroke is a common disease—the third leading cause of death in the United States—but it's also a commonly misunderstood one. For starters, it's not always fatal. In addition to the 140,000 people that die of stroke each year, a further 655,000 survive, and live with its often-debilitating effects. When it comes to surviving, and preserving cognitive and bodily function, it's essential to catch it as early as possible. And that means knowing the warning signs. Here they are. And for more health issues to look out for, learn about these 20 Most Commonly Overlooked Cancer Symptoms.

On Monday, March 5th, 2018, actor Luke Perry passed away, at the age of 52, after complications related to a stroke. His death was a shock to many—especially those who loved him on shows like Riverdale and Beverly Hills, 90120—and jumpstarted a national conversation about stroke. Isn’t he too young for that? (No.) Wasn’t he in pretty good health? (Yes.) Can it happen to me? (Possibly.)

Stroke is a common disease—the third leading cause of death in the United States—but it’s also a commonly misunderstood one. For starters, it’s not always fatal. In addition to the 140,000 people that die of stroke each year, a further 655,000 survive, and live with its often-debilitating effects. When it comes to surviving, and preserving cognitive and bodily function, it’s essential to catch it as early as possible. And that means knowing the warning signs. Here they are.