Thursday, December 29, 2011

Your Emotions and Your Physical Health

Research has proven that positive emotions are critical to the maintenance of physical health.   You may have noticed that physically you would feel nausea, heart palpitations, constipation, diarrhea,or shortness of breath when your emotional state is that of despair, panic or hopelessness. You may have also noticed that you develop a headache in response to a stressful upcoming or current situation.These physical symptoms may go away after your object of stress has been removed. However, it is  the more significant life changes that alter your "emotional climate" and thus cause negative emotions to last longer, and  in turn adversely affect your physical well-being.

Yes, it seems that negative emotions rise within us without our control - and we usually bury them and forbid ourselves to  feel them - instead of doing that, a better way to "control" these negative emotions is to first accept and allow ourselves to feel them.  After accepting them, we can consciously "add" positive feelings to our emotional climate, thus, tipping the balance towards the positive emotions which would lead us to a healthier emotional state and as a consequence a healthier physical state.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Your Flight or Fight Response

Your flight or fight response or stress response is a major cause of most illnesses.  The flight or fight response is build into us - it was  a survival mechanism when human lived in the wild, hunting and gathering.  This response helped us survive in the wild where there was constant danger.

However, this same response is now causing us harm because we are no longer in the wild and there are hardly any physical threats to our lives.  Our stress response kicks in for situations that don't require it, for e.g. during a verbal argument, just before a test, or during or before a job interview etc.. The flight or fight response causes our heart rate to go up, we sweat, clench our fists- these are only physical responses- internally our digestion system and immune system shuts down, and cortisol- a stress hormone pumps into our blood stream.  Since there is no actual danger to our lives and we neither flee nor fight, our bodies keep producing cortisol, constantly keeping us in a stressed state. In other words the  immune system is constantly compromised, the digestion system doesn't function at its best and your body is  unable to rejuvenate and relax, leaving you more susceptible to illnesses.

So, how do you manage your stress response?
Deep breathing and consciously relaxing your tense muscles when you feel panic or stress helps.  Additionally, to maintain a calm mind and body, meditation works wonders.  I personally would strongly recommend meditating at least 10 minutes everyday. Meditation will keep you calm and allow you to effectively lead a stress free life.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are You Still Using Table Salt?

Our bodies need salt, it is essential to our survival, however the salt that most people are consuming is causing more harm then good.Did you know that the common cooking or table salt consists of sodium chloride, iodine and chemicals heated to extreme temperatures that change its natural chemical structure.

The body spends huge amounts of vital energy to metabolize table salt by surrounding the unnatural sodium chloride molecules with precious water from our cells in order to neutralize it.  According to Dr. Mercola, DO  this loss of cell water due to consumption of table salt can lead to diseases and conditions like cellulite, kidney & bladder stones, gout, and  arthritis & rheumatism.

So, ditch the table salt and opt for natural salts like sea salt,  Himalayan salt, or rock salt.  My personal favorite is Himalayan salt, the benefits of which I will go through in my next blog.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Zinc - An Essential Micro Mineral

A micro mineral is a mineral required by your body in trace amounts. Zinc is one of the many micro minerals e.g. copper, iodine, that contributes to our overall well being.  Not enough importance is given to zinc, if you look at vitamin bottle labels, zinc is usually not included in the ingredients!  Did you know that zinc is utilized in all of our body parts and over 300 enzymes in our bodies require zinc to give them a kick start?

Some Health Benefits of Zinc
Zinc supports your immune function, promotes healthy skin, improves male fertility, prevents osteoporosis, and even balances blood sugar by regulating insulin.

Zinc Rich Foods
Oysters, shellfish, and brewers yeast are among the top three zinc rich foods. Roasted pumpkin seeds,  pine nuts, pecans, and lamb are  also good sources.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are You Getting Enough Good Quality Protein?

Research has shown that protein requirement for active people is higher than those with sedentary lifestyles.  Additionally, current research also shows that children, the elderly, vegetarians, and dieters also have more protein needs.

According to Dr. Mercola, N.D, the highest quality protein includes:

Poultry:  With skin removed is high quality protein without saturated fat
Beef:  Grass-fed and organic
Eggs: Free-range, consumed slightly cooked or raw
Beans and Legumes: Contain most protein found among vegetables and are high in fibre
Nuts:  In moderation.

Additionally, you can supplement your diet with a high quality protein powder such as whey protein.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Best Bed Time Snacks

We have all experienced inability to have a restful night's sleep especially after a heavy meal.  Eating a huge meal before going to bed  is not healthy because the food just "sits" in your stomach while your body slows down as it goes into sleep mode.   To achieve a deep and restful sleep try having earlier dinners no later than 7:30  and if  you get a little hungry before bed time have a light snack such as:

  • Few whole grain crackers with string cheese
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Handful of raw nuts ( cashews, almonds...etc.)
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder
  • Almond butter on apple slices or on whole grain bread
  • Rice cakes with honey drizzled on top

As you can see these snacks are light but nutritious, thus allowing  quick digestion and  also preventing you from waking up with hunger in the middle of the night.  Use the list above as a guideline and go ahead and create your own healthy snacks.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Secrets to Lifelong Happiness

We go through life with its ups and downs and in tune with that so does our happiness. However, did you know that there are people who can maintain their sense of happiness despite the circumstances that life dishes them out?  

I read a very interesting article in Psychology Today that identified the four secrets to maintaining your happiness while going through life’s ups and downs.  The first one was self esteem – when you think favourably of yourself and genuinely love yourself you build a strong foundation for your happiness and wellbeing.  Another secret mentioned was optimism – think the glass as being half full vs. it being half empty.  Optimistic people see the good side of situations, and are thus able to maintain their happiness even in difficult situations.   The third secret was extroversion – outgoing people are generally happier-a large circle of friends and the ability to easily make new friends creates fulfilling relationships leading to a happier life.  Finally, the fourth secret was personal control – people who believe that they create and control their own destiny maintain their happiness consistently.

I believe that holding the principle that our happiness is in our control and not in the hands of other people or situations can help us achieve and maintain happiness constantly.  Additionally, consciously making an effort to love ourselves, to being optimistic, and to being outgoing can help us achieve that serene sense of contentment and happiness that we are all in pursuit of.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Soy: The Good and The Bad

There is so much hype about soy and soy products.  Many of us consider soy to be a healthy alternative to dairy and meat without fully knowing the truth behind it.  Yes, soy can be healthy but only in its fermented forms such as natto, miso, and soy sauce.  These naturally fermented forms of soy help prevent illnesses such as heart disease and cancer because they are rich in isoflavones which are believed to help in cancer prevention. 

In contrast, non-fermented soy products found at your grocery stores including soy milk and tofu have a completely different chemical and nutritional structure from the fermented soy products.  Non-fermented soy products have a compound called phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient – it binds to the nutrients in your gut and prevents absorption of these.  Additionally, research has found that soy inhibits iron absorption, increases the risk of bladder cancer, and has been even linked to peanut allergies.

Did you know that most processed foods contain harmful unfermented soy products such as soy bean oil and lecithin? This means, even if you are avoiding soy milk, tofu, and meatless soy burgers, but having processed foods, you may still be ingesting soy.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Skin Care Alternatives: TLC for Your Skin

Your skin requires extra tender loving care during winter.  Instead of using department store bought skin care products most likely made with harsh chemicals and preservatives, do your skin a huge favor by opting for skin care products that are available in nature.  Here are three natural alternatives to your skin care routine that you can easily switch to:

Instead of Baby Oil, Use:  Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is high in vitamin E.  Your skin absorbs it immediately and thus it won't leave an oily residue.  It  is known to soften your skin and helps soothe dryness and itchiness. In contrast, baby oil, which is mineral oil, is not absorbed by your skin, instead it sits as a thin film over your skin, clogging your pores and preventing your skin from eliminating toxins.  

Instead of Commercial Face Moisturizers, Use:  100% Pure Cocoa Butter or Shea Butter   
Cocoa butter, also used in manufacturing of chocolates, is deeply moisturizing and similar to apricot kernel oil, it is quickly absorbed by your skin.  Cocoa butter is also full of antioxidants, which will protect your skin from the effects of damaging free radicals.  Additionally, cocoa butter is known to relax you and relieve stress because of its divine chocolate aroma.

Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the Karite tree which only grows in the tropics of Africa.  The Karite tree cannot be cultivated - it only grows in the wild.  Shea butter contains fatty acids that help maintain your skin's moisture and elasticity.  Additionally, Shea butter acts as a natural sun screen and even helps soothe conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

**You can get pure and natural skin care products at your local health food store.  However, please make it a habit to read the labels.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Managing Asthma Naturally

Did you know that increasing development of allergies and asthma may be largely due to the more sterile environments we are now living in, our increased use of antibiotics, anti-bacterial soap, and even vaccinations?    This theory is known as the ‘hygiene hypothesis.”  Please see:

Besides living in  an overly sterile environment, other triggers that lead to the development of asthma include environmental toxins (pesticides, heavy metals, and mercury), and even unresolved emotional issues. 

Research has shown asthma drugs have undesirable side effects, for e.g. increased risk of developing cataracts, adverse effect on your mineral and bone density, and weakening of your immune system.  However, according to Dr. Mercola, D.O, the good news is that asthma can be prevented or managed naturally with the following:

Apples and Selenium:
Research shows that eating two apples per week can decrease your risk of asthma by 22 to 33 percent. And people taking highest levels of selenium (54-90 micrograms/day) have found to be half as likely to develop asthma compared to people taking least levels of it (23-30 micrograms/day)

Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which may reduce the risk of asthma by decreasing the levels of free radicals in your body.

Healthy Exposure to Bacteria and Viruses
Exposure to bacteria and viruses during early childhood may be protective against development of asthma.

Breast Feeding
Research has found that introducing milk (other than mother’s milk) to a child younger than 4 months can lead to the development of asthma.

Avoid Antibiotics
Scientists have shown that antibiotics can change the balance of microbes in your gut, as a result impacting the way your immune system responds to common allergens in your lungs.

Avoid Fish
Eating fish frequently has been linked to asthma, most likely due to the mercury in the fish. 

Avoid fish, but supplement your diet with omega-3 fish oils. Research has shown that omega-3 reduces inflammation and thus it may reduce risk of chronic diseases.