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Cancer has become Americans’ No. 1 health concern. It is easy to understand why, as 50 percent of men and 41 percent of women will develop cancer during their lifetimes…
…but what if you didn’t need to fear cancer because you knew it was a metabolic disease that you could treat and recover from like other conditions?
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of maladies that raise a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning.
Metabolic therapy, which includes a ketogenic diet, has been shown to prevent and treat many cancers, including “incurable” late-stage cancers.
The conventional medical community is so attached to the flawed genetic theory of cancer that they fail to use new science exposing the mitochondria dysfunction that is evident in almost all cancers.
The survival rate for traditional cancer treatments is under 2.5%
Meet THE Game Changer in the World of Cancer: Thomas Seyfried
Seyfried has a distinguished background. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of neurology at the Yale University School of Medicine and then served on the faculty as an assistant professor in neurology.
Here’s the problem…
…the established dogma that cancer is a genetic disease rules everything — from the research that receives funding to how an oncologist treats you in the U.S. and other developed nations. This dogma is what fuels the entire cancer industry.
However, Seyfried disagrees. He and others have been able to advance the theory that cancer is primarily the result of defective energy metabolism in, and damage to, the cells’ mitochondria.
Simply put, genetic mutations are not the primary cause of cancer but are, rather, a downstream effect of the defective energy metabolism. As long as your mitochondria remain healthy and functional, your chances of developing cancer are slim!
Seyfried is one of the pioneers in the application of nutritional ketosis for cancer.
Obesity and top killers such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer have something significant in common — they’re all rooted in insulin and leptin resistance.
In other words, the underlying problem is metabolic dysfunction that develops as a result of consuming too many net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber) and/or protein. Sugars found in processed foods and grains are the primary culprits, and the standard American diet is chockfull of both.
By eating a high-quality fat, low-carbohydrate diet, you achieve nutritional ketosis; a metabolic state in which your body burns fat rather than glucose as its primary fuel.
By optimizing your metabolic and mitochondrial function, you set yourself squarely on the path to better health. So, how do you correct these metabolic imbalances? Your diet is key. The timing of your meals can also play an important role.
The Best Healthy Fat to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet
Oils with Omega-3 fats:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Flaxseed oil
Sources of Healthy Fats:
- Olives and olive oil (extra virgin)
- Coconuts and coconut oil
- Butter made from grass fed, organic milk
- Raw nuts
- Organic eggs – free range
- Grass fed, organic meats
Exercising is a great way to increase mitochondrial repair and regeneration as it is a potent stimulus of PGC1 alpha which is likely the most potent stimulus in your body for mitochondrial biogenesis.
It is recommended that you exercise at least 3-1/2 hours each week combining exercises that emphasize strength, endurance and flexibility.
Full-spectrum Infrared saunas do a great job of detoxing the cells in your body, thus increasing the efficiency and strength of the mitochondria.
A new study published in the 2017 March issue of JAMA found that poor diet is responsible for an astonishing 45 percent of all deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in the US. The researchers attributed this high mortality rate to the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in sodium, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats.
During 2012, out of the 702,308 adult deaths from cardiometabolic diseases, 318,656 — about 45 percent — were linked with over-consumption of certain unhealthy foods, as well as low consumption of specific nutrient dense edibles.
Excess consumption of sodium was associated with the highest percentage of death. Consuming high amounts of processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meat were also linked with high mortality. Americans also don’t eat enough of certain health-promoting foods — like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats and seafood omega-3 fats.
With annual US healthcare spending hitting $3.8 trillion in 2014 and $3.2 trillion in 2016 — heart disease and stroke costing nearly $1 billion a day in medical costs along with lost productivity, and diabetes totaling $245 billion annually — the results of this study come as a stark reality check.
The good news is, just as diet can be our downfall, it’s also just as powerful in promoting exceptional health and longevity — as seen in “Blue Zone” cultures.
For inspiration, we can also look to cultures and communities that have outstanding health and longevity for guidance — and a perfect place to start is with the Blue Zones who are known for their extraordinary lifespan and phenomenal vitality.
Just off the coast of Turkey, very close to Samos, where Pythagoras and Epicurus lived, is a Greek island named Ikaria that is renown as “the island where people forgot to die” because of the exceptional lifespan of its inhabitants. Included in what is referred to as the Blue Zones — five regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the US with the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world — the people of Ikaria live about eight years longer than average and have exceedingly good health. These communities are also largely free of health complaints like obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, they’re sharp to the very end, whereas in the US, almost half the population over 85 suffers from dementia.
Diet is a key ingredient to their robust health and longevity. In Ikaria, they’re eating a variety of a Mediterranean diet, but with lots of potatoes. They also consume high amounts of beans. One unique foodstuff is called horta, a weed-like green that’s eaten as a salad, lightly steamed or baked into pies. Goat’s milk, wine, honey, some fruit and small amounts of fish are also enjoyed. Other foods include feta cheese, lemons and herbs such as sage and marjoram, which are made into tea.
Lifestyle also comes into play. Plenty of sex (even in old age) and napping are integral aspects of the culture, as is physical activity. There are no treadmills or aerobic classes here. Instead, exercise involves planting and maintaining a garden, manual labor (houses in Ikaria only have hand tools) and walking to run errands.
Another Blue Zone region is Sardinia, Italy where goat’s milk and sheep cheese are staples along with moderate amounts of flat bread, sourdough bread and barley. They also eat plenty of fennel and fava beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, almonds, milk thistle tea and wine from Grenache grapes. Half of these above mentioned foods are considered super-foods; nutrient dense foods.
All Blue Zones follow the same characteristics:
- Only eat until 80% full;
- Smallest meal of the day is in the evening;
- Eat mostly plants – especially beans – eat meat once a week;
- Drink 1–2 glasses of wine each day; and
- Close social bonds – community.
Peak muscle mass occurs, on average, sometime during your early 40s. After this, your muscle mass will begin to gradually decline, eventually leading to changes in your mobility, strength and ability to live independently.
“Without question, exercise is the most powerful intervention to address muscle loss, whether it occurs in the context of advancing age or debilitating chronic or acute diseases,” said Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D., a researcher in molecular aspects of endurance and exercise at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
High-Intensity Interval Training Works Best for Aging Muscles
In a study by Mayo Clinic researchers, three types of exercise were pitted against each other, and a non-exercising control group, to determine if different types of exercise work better than others to protect aging muscles. A clear winner was revealed.
The study involved 72 sedentary people aged either 30 or younger or 64 and over. They engaged in 12 weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on stationary bikes, vigorous resistance training or a combination of exercises (moderate pace stationary bike combined with light weight lifting).
Among the younger exercisers, the HIIT group had changes in 274 genes, compared to 170 genes for the moderate combination exercisers and 74 among the resistance group. The changes among the older exercisers were even more striking. As The New York Times reported:
”Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weight lifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.”
Many of these affected genes, especially in the cells of the interval trainers, are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells.
When you exercise, your body will respond by creating more mitochondria to keep up with the heightened energy requirements. Aging is inevitable, but your biological age can be quite different from your chronological age, and your mitochondria have a lot to do with your biological aging.
“Supervised HIIT appears to be an effective recommendation to improve cardio-metabolic health parameters in aging adults,” the researchers concluded. As The New York Times noted:
”It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was ‘corrected’ with exercise, especially if it was intense, says Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s senior author.”
At least two additional studies, one in the Journal of Applied Physiology and the other in Neuroscience also showed that exercise induces mitochondrial biogenesis in the brain, with potential benefits such as reduction or reversal of age-associated declines in cognitive function and helping to repair brain damage following a stroke, respectively.
Mitochondrial damage can also trigger genetic mutations that can contribute to cancer, so optimizing the health of your mitochondria is a key component of cancer prevention.
Decreased Insulin Resistance
A recent study found that HIIT positively impacted insulin sensitivity. The study involved people with type 2 diabetes, and just one session improved blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours:
“Positive changes have been observed in insulin resistance in as little as [eight] minutes per week when executed at an intensity more than 100 [percent].”
Is HIIT Safe for Seniors?
HIIT may seem too intense for the elderly, but rest assured you can perform HIIT at any age and still reap major benefits. The only difference is that the older you are the lower your maximum heart rate will be, and the more gradually you will want to increase your repetitions.
At Wellspring, we have ShockWave classes, “Dubbed the most efficient total-body workout in the world. ShockWave is extreme cross-training at its best. This is HIIT at its finest.”
Antibiotics prescribed by most medical doctors today have horrendous side effects including: causing antibiotic resistance, destroying good bacteria (probiotics), reducing vitamin absorption and damaging the digestive lining causing leaky gut.
The good news is there is an incredible natural alternative to prescription antibiotics and that is oregano oil (also called oil of oregano). Oil of oregano contains two powerful compounds of carvacrol and thymol that have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Oregano Oil Benefits Are Unstoppable!
Over 800 studies reference carvacrol in PubMed, the world’s #1 database for scientific evidence-based literature, which emphasizes that research is quite supportive of its healing capacity. To give you a sense of what I mean, carvacrol has been proven to reverse or reduce:
- Bacterial infections
- Fungal infections
This past December, Journal of Medicinal Food published a study that evaluated the antibacterial activity of oregano oil against 5 different types of bad bacteria. After evaluating the anti-bacterial characteristics of oil of oregano it showed significant anti-bacterial properties against all 5 species of harmful bacteria.
Interestingly, the highest activity was observed against E. Coli, which suggests that oregano oil should be routinely used to promote gastrointestinal health and to prevent deadly food poisoning.
Two years prior, researchers from Pakistan published similar results in the journal Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia in addition to proving oregano oil’s ability to kill cancer cells of various types!
Oil of Oregano Uses and Warnings
You may be asking, what limits does oil of oregano have? At this point, it’s not perfectly clear. One thing that is certain, because of its insurmountable potency, medicinal use should only be administered under the guidance of a natural health expert.
Dr. Axe personally takes oregano oil internally for a maximum of two weeks in most cases because it’s so powerful. Also, when taking internally, it should be diluted with water or mixed with coconut oil. The dried herb oregano is typically fine for pregnant women but when using oil of oregano pregnant women should use caution and only use if instructed by a physician to do so.
“I got the flu this year. I went home after work and just went to bed. The next day I was thinking this is getting worse. I took oil of oregano four times that day. I went to work the next day – like a miracle” – Greg Simmons
When it comes to improving your health, some of the simplest strategies can have a tremendous impact.
Sweating in a sauna, for example, has many great health benefits, including expelling of toxins, improving blood circulation, killing disease-causing microbes and improving mitochondrial function.
Research has even shown that regular sauna use correlates with a reduced risk of death from any cause, including lethal cardiovascular events, and may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Sauna Bathing Promotes Brain Health
There are many reasons why sauna use may boost brain health, including lowering inflammation and blood pressure, improving vascular function and enhancing relaxation and well-being.
Other research has shown sauna use increases levels of norepinephrine, a stress hormone that increases focus and attention, as well as prolactin, which may promote myelin growth, helping your brain to function faster and repair nerve cell damage.
Sauna Benefits Your Heart as Well
As your body is subjected to heat stress, it gradually becomes acclimated to the heat, prompting a number of beneficial changes and adaptations.
These changes include increased blood flow to your heart and muscles (which increase athletic endurance) and increased muscle mass due to greater levels of heat-shock proteins and human growth hormone (HGH).
Heat, Sweat and Detoxification
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and your sweat glands are one way of cleansing your skin and releasing toxins that build up in your cells. Lack of sweating may actually result in an increased toxic load over time, which in turn can adversely affect your heart and brain.
Compared to other detoxification strategies, sauna bathing has a number of benefits, and may be one of the best ways to lower your toxic load in a natural way. While still often downplayed by modern medicine as a means of detoxification, studies have shown that sweating can help excrete heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury, for example, all of which can have very serious health effects.
Other Health Benefits of Sauna Therapy
Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia have also experienced great results from using saunas to reduce discomfort and pain. In one small study, 44 patients with fibromyalgia found a reduction in pain between 33 and 77 percent.
Six months after the study ended, the participants continued to report a reduction in pain between 28 and 68 percent.
Sauna therapy has also demonstrated benefits for patients with asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis report positive effects from infrared sauna therapy specifically. After four weeks and eight treatments, pain and stiffness were significantly reduced and improvements were seen in increased energy.
Lemon water doesn’t just quench thirst better than any other drink – it also provides our bodies with plenty of vitamins, minerals and vital trace elements. It’s also a great energy booster for when we wake up first thing in the morning as our tissues are dehydrated and in need of fluid to push out toxins.
- Lemon water will provide your body with plenty of hydrating electrolytes in the form of potassium, calcium and magnesium.
- Lemon water can help reduce both joint and muscle pain.
- Drinking warm lemon water can help your body with digestion.
- Lemon water will help your liver produce more enzymes than any other substance.
- Lemon water also aids your liver in helping it release toxins.
- Lemon water can help you battle everything from sore throats to tonsil inflammation.
- Lemon water can help you better regulate your bowel movements.
- Being a powerful antioxidant, lemon can protect your body from various free radicals.
- Lemon water has a high potassium content – depression and anxiety are often linked to not having enough potassium in your blood.
- Lemon water can help cleanse your blood and arteries.
- Daily ingestion of one lemon is estimated to reduce high blood pressure by 10%.
- Lemon water allows your body to keep a higher pH level to fight off diseases.
- Lemons contain vitamin c, which is known to improve skin conditions.
- Lemon water helps dilute uric acid, thereby reducing pain.
- Lemon water can also help the bone tissue formation of your unborn baby.
- Mixing a teaspoon of lemon juice per half glass of water can help relieve heartburn.
- Drinking lemon water can help dissolve kidney stones.
- Lemons have pectin fiber, which aids in the suppression of hunger cravings.
- Drinking lemon water can help relieve tooth pain and fight gingivitis.
- Cancer cannot thrive in an environment that is rich with alkaline – a substance prevalent in lemon.
Washington, D.C. – Jan. 4, 2017 – U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today released its annual assessment of the year’s Best Diets to help the estimated 45 million Americans who diet each year – and millions more globally – achieve healthier lifestyles.
For the seventh year in a row, the DASH diet has been rated Best Diet Overall, followed by the Mediterranean diet, up from fourth place last year. The MIND diet second last year, comes in third.
The DASH diet is most effective for those who have high blood pressure. The Mediterranean diet is most effective for weight loss, and the MIND diet is helping to reduce cognitive decline.
These diets fall within accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbs, fat and other nutrients they provide.
DASH DIET (high blood pressure)
Pros & Cons
• Heart healthy
• Nutritionally sound
• Lots of grunt work
• Somewhat pricey
The aim: Preventing and lowering high blood pressure (hypertension).
The claim: A healthy eating pattern is key to deflating high blood pressure – and it may not hurt your waistline, either.
The theory: Nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber are crucial to fending off or fighting high blood pressure.
You don’t have to track each one, though. Just emphasize the foods you have always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), while shunning those we’ve grown to love (calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat). Top it all off by cutting back on salt, and voila!
MEDITERRANEAN DIET (weight loss)
Pros & Cons
• Nutritionally sound
• Diverse foods and flavors
• Lots of grunt work
• Moderately pricey
The aim: May include weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control.
The claim: You’ll lose weight, keep it off and avoid a host of chronic diseases.
The theory: It’s generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat, while high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.
MIND DIET (reducing cognitive decline)
Pros & Cons
• Blends two proven healthy diets
• May boost brain power
• Details not fleshed out
• Recipes, resources lacking
The aim: Preventing Alzheimer’s disease with brain-healthy foods.
The claim: You may lower your risk of mental decline with this new hybrid of two balanced, heart-healthy diets– even without rigidly sticking to it – early research suggests.
The theory: The MIND diet takes two proven diets DASH and Mediterranean– and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health.
The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.
Meanwhile, MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
The study found the MIND diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35 percent for people who followed it moderately well and up to 53 percent for those who adhered to it rigorously.
TIME MAGAZINE, September 19, 2016, has done a cover story called The Exercise Cure: The Surprising Science of a Life-Changing Workout.
Doctors, researchers, scientists – even ancient philosophers – have long claimed exercise works like a miracle drug. Now they have proof. Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a genetic metabolic neurologist, is determined to prove that exercise can be used as medicine for even the sickest patients.
“Research paper, after paper, after paper shows that the most effective, potent way that we can improve the quality of life and duration of life is exercise.”
– Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky
“If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.”
Statistics: Only 20% of Americans get the 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week.
Over 50% of baby boomers report doing no exercise at all, and 80.2 million Americans over the age of 6 are entirely inactive.
The scientific benefits of exercise – slower aging, better mood, less chronic pain, stronger vision – are real, measurable, and almost immediate.
To get the maximum benefits of exercise, you need to do both aerobic exercise and strength training. Aerobic exercise is the most popular form, and about 50% of Americans meet the minimum standards. However, only 20% of Americans meet the standards for strength training. What is misunderstood is that strength training can be achieved in a myriad of ways. Yoga, tai chi, and Pilates – not just pumping iron – are excellent forms of strength training.
Recent research is finding that exercise is also beneficial to the brain. Exercise is shown to be linked to less depression, better memory, and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise is the best way to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, which is second only to cancer as the disease Americans fear most.
“I always tell people that exercise is regenerative medicine – restoring and repairing and basically fixing things that are broken.”
— Marcus Bamman, exercise physiologist
A small new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise (Pilates, tai chi, yoga, spin, and rowing) may slow down the aging of cells by as much as five years. As humans get older and their cells divide over and over again, their telomeres (the protective caps on the end of chromosomes) get shorter. Researchers took blood samples from 10 health people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres.
“Lack of time is the number 1 reason people say that they do not exercise. However, a minimum amount of exercise can add five years to your life, so you can actually have more time.”
– Greg Simmons
Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician who runs a sports-medicine fellowship in California, has prescribed exercise to his patients since the early 1990s in hopes of prescribing less medication. “It really worked amazingly, particularly in my sickest patients,” he says. Dr. Sallis says that if he could get them to do it on a regular basis – anything that got their heart rate up a bit – he would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, depression, anxiety, mood, and energy levels.
It’s becoming evident that nearly everyone – young, old, pregnant, ill – benefits from exercise. Back at McMaster University, Tarnopolsky and his team are almost finished doing autopsies on their new mice. It is obvious which mice were allowed to exercise and which were sedentary. “You open up the sedentary mice and there’s fat all over the place” – and about half of those mice have tumors. As for the mice who hit the wheel every day? “We haven’t found a single tumor.”
Part 1: OUTSMART STRESS
Save Yourself from Stress
The American Psychological Association reports that 34% of Americans say their stress levels shot up in the past year. Physical symptoms that accompany stress are the body’s warning system.
A 2014 study from Carnegie-Mellon University revealed that people under significant pressure at work had a 45% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Five Habits that Reduces Stress
- Take the scenic route. Any bit of exercise is a stress reducer, but strolling in nature is ideal. One Japanese study found a link between chemicals released by trees, called phytoncides, and lowered levels of stress hormones.
- Get more magnesium. This vital mineral is depleted quickly when you’re under duress. Without enough magnesium, people feel more emotional and reactive says New York nutritionist Dana James. Eat more dark, leafy greens (think spinach and kale), OR down a smoothie made with magnesium rich bananas, cocoa, and almond milk.
- Pull ears feel better. Hold your ears midway down with two fingers, in line with your ear canal. Gently pull both at a 45-degree angle away from your head and hold for 60 seconds. This calms the nerves that surround the central nervous system.
- Turn off the pinging. A British study of office workers found that when they read and send email, their heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol level spiked. Before you check emails again, ask yourself, “Can it wait”?
- Have a happy cry. Here is justification for watching heart-warming, Hallmark channel movies. Chemicals built up during stress may be released through tears.
How to Manage Stress
- Exercise is all-important. There are tons of papers written on the benefits of exercise and its effect on stress reduction.
- A balanced diet and adequate sleep are also essential.
- Getting lost in a hobby is a stress reducer.
- Mind-body techniques are especially beneficial. A 2014 Carnegie Mellon study found that just three 25-minute sessions of meditation, Pilates, yoga or tai chi can alleviate stress.
Research is mounting that a natural, potent source of stress release is right under your nose. New science is showing that slowing down and deepening your breathing can have a profound effect on your well-being.
Breathing exercises – a staple of mindfulness and yoga practices – have been shown to control blood pressure, improve heartrate, make arteries flexible and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Luciano Bernardi, an internal-medicine professor, whose research shows that slow breathing exercises improve exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure. “We’ve shown that this simple thing has a fantastic series of effects.”
Surprising Benefits of Deep Breathing:
- Happier Mood. Bernardi says that slow breathing activates areas in the brain connected with anti-depressive activities.
- Deeper Sleep. When people with insomnia practice deep breathing for 20 minutes before going to sleep, they woke up fewer times during the night.
- Less Anxiety. In a 2015 randomized, controlled trial, healthy women who did eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga with breathing exercises significantly reduced anxiety.
- Healthier Heart. In one small recent study, slow breathing sessions for 30 minutes a day reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension – and the effect persisted a month later.
- Better Air Intake. Breathing slowly helps you take in more oxygen. In one study, breathing exercises done several times each day increased oxygen consumption by 37%.
I think breath is the only function through which you can influence the involuntary nervous system.
– Andrew Weil, MD
Get in the Sleep Zone
Surprise: the secret to more restful nights may be rethinking how you spend your days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 50 million and 70 million adults in the U.S. have a sleep or wakefulness disorder – the issue is so large-scale that it is considered a public health problem. Insufficient sleep has been linked to chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to depression.
When should you begin to power down and go to sleep? If you look at nature, when the birds stop chirping and most animals begin to look for a place to sleep, it’s time to also look for a place to sleep. “So there’s this natural window where, generally by 10, people should be asleep,” according to Valencia Porter, an integrative-medicine doctor.
Dr. Porter, her clinical practice at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, CA, suggests not eating at least two hours and shutting off all screens one hour before going to bed. She also suggests taking a warm bath or shower while experimenting with aromatherapy. Lavender and chamomile are especially soothing. Another suggestion is to make an herbal tea and just sit quietly and observe your day. “Just observing seems to help people let go.”
Rubin Naiman, a clinical psychologist specializing in integrative sleep and dream medicine, says that the depth of our sleep at night is correlated with the amount of fulfillment we feel during the day. The more we seem to meet our daily goals, the more energy we have burned, and the better the sleep at night. In other words, being happy helps.
“A lot of people aren’t sleeping because they are completely sedentary all day.”
– Robin Berzin, a functional-medicine physician
Another essential in getting into the sleep zone is getting out into nature. The benefits of gardening are well known. 35% or 42 million Americans are growing food at home. Unfortunately, the growing season in most of America is a few short months. However, Vitality Centers like Wellspring in Yelm, Washington are able to provide mindful and essential fitness all year.
Dr. Berzin recommends that people get an app on their phone and your computer that filters out the blue light from the screens over the course of the day so that your circadian rhythms are not interrupted.
Can You Think Yourself Well?
“What if you had the ability to heal your body just by changing how you think and feel?”
– Lisa Rankin, MD
Dr. Rankin has come to believe that the purely physical realm of illness – the part you can diagnose with laboratory tests – is only part of the equation. Her personal experience with patients (as well as her personal background) has led her to the conclusion that whether they become sick or stay healthy might have more to do with everything else that’s going on in their lives than with any specific health standard they abide by.
Instead of focusing exclusively on physician-recommended behaviors, medical history, and other traditional factors, she dug into their personal lives. Some of the questions were: What do you love about yourself? What’s missing from your life? Do you feel like you are in touch with your life’s purpose?
“My patient’s answers often gave me more insight into why they might be sick than any lab test or exam could.”
– Lisa Rankin, MD
Eventually, Dr. Rankin was able to narrow her appointments down to two questions: “What do you think might lie at the root of your illness?” and “What does your body need in order to heal?” Many of the answers were about having more time for themselves, starting to pursue long-suppressed dreams, or forgiving themselves.
In Dr. Rankin’s ongoing study in major medical journals, there is strong evidence that the lifestyle choices you make can optimize your body’s relaxation response, counteract the stress response, and result in physiological changes leading to better health.
Your feel-great checklist
- Healthy relationships, including a strong network of family, friends, loved ones and colleagues.
- A meaningful (purpose-driven) way to spend your days, whether or not you work outside the home.
- A creative life, spiritual life, and sexual life, as well as a healthy financial life that allows you to meet all your essential needs.
- A healthy mental and emotional life, characterized by GRATITUDE and free of the variations of FEAR such as anxiety and depression.
- A healthy lifestyle that supports the physical health of the body with good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
Part 2: FIND YOUR CENTER
What Gratitude Can Do For You
Giving thanks is more than just a polite move: it can transform your mood, outlook and health too. When people appreciate the goodness they have received, they feel compelled to give back, says Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. This interdependence allows not only an individual but also a society as a whole to survive and prosper.
“Gratitude serves as a corrective,” says Emmons, and he suggests establishing a full-on gratitude ritual, whether it’s a morning meditation of what you’re thankful for, a bedtime counting of blessings or a gratitude journal.
The consistent effort to appreciate things in our world changes us for the better on many levels. Here’s how:
You’ll Feel Happier
In a seminal study by Emmons, subjects who wrote down one thing for which they were grateful every day reported being 25% happier for a full 6 months after following this practice for just three weeks. If you are familiar with the science of neurogenesis, studies have found that it takes 21 – 28 days to build a new neuronet, a new behavioral habit.
In a University of Pennsylvania study, subjects wrote letters of gratitude to people who had done them a major service but had never been fully thanked. These subjects reported substantially decreased symptoms for depression for as long as a month.
You’ll Boost Your Energy Levels
In Emmon’s gratitude-journal studies, those who regularly wrote down things for which they were thankful consistently reported an ever-increasing sense of vitality.
You’ll Get Healthier
A gratitude practice has also been associated with improved kidney function, reduced blood pressure and stress hormone levels, and a stronger heart. Statistically, 33% of those who practice gratitude exercise more and sleep an extra half-hour a night.
You’ll Be More Resilient
When we notice kindness and other gifts that benefit us, our brains become wired (neurogenesis) to seek out the positives in any situation, even dire ones. As a result, we’re better at bouncing back from loss and trauma.
“A grateful stance toward life is relatively immune to both fortune and misfortune.”
– Robert Emmons, professor of psychology
You’ll Improve Your Relationships
A 2012 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study of more than 300 coupled people found that those who felt more appreciated by their partner were more likely to appreciate their partner in return.
You’ll Be A Nicer Person
People can’t help but pay gratitude forward. When appreciation is expressed, it triggers a biological response in the recipient’s brain, including a surge of the feel-good chemical dopamine. So when you express gratitude toward a spouse, a colleague or a friend, both the sender and the recipient feels the gratitude.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Recording our thoughts, by hand or electronically, helps us focus them. It gives us time to understand better the meaning and importance of people, events, and our surroundings. Here is how to maximize the benefits:
- Go for depth rather than breadth. Take a moment to think about the things in your life that you are thankful for. This will help you truly savor what you appreciate and keep your journal from becoming simply a list of nice thoughts.
- Write consistently. Every day works best, but don’t give yourself a bad time because you missed a day. Be grateful that you have the information in the first place.
- Don’t think of this as just one more self-improvement project. It’s an opportunity to re-wire our brains to see our entire world through new eyes of appreciation.
Yes, You Can Live With Intent
What do we mean when we talk about intention? Finding your purpose can bring new meaning to your days. Intentions are conscious desires to change something. By thinking about our intents, cultivating and expressing them, we create the climate in which they’re more likely to happen.
In the Buddhist tradition, intention is about living each moment in keeping with what matters most to you and living in accord with your deepest values.
– Mallika Chopra, author
There is solid evidence that our thoughts and our beliefs can affect our own health. Just look at the placebo effect in which a sham treatment produces positive results merely because the patient believes it will. Our minds have a powerful effect on our bodies – and our lives.
So how do you use intention to improve your life – to fulfill your deepest longings?
You can ask your own ‘inner guidance’ to give you the answers to your most important questions. Here is a HeartMath process to connect to your inner guidance:
- Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual.
- Inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds (or whatever rhythm is comfortable).
- Make a sincere attempt to experience a feeling of gratitude for something in your life… and continue experiencing this appreciation.
- Now, from this place of appreciation or gratitude, ask your inner guidance to ‘speak’ to you regarding your greatest desire/intention.
- Be patient; the answer(s) will come. Quietly observe any subtle changes in attitude or feelings.
- If you received some beneficial insights from your “inner guidance,” then write them down and commit to sustaining them.
Part 3: EAT, PLAY, THRIVE
Yoga, Pilates and Tai chi
These ancient practices have powerful health and mood benefits, according to mounting science.
These ‘mindful’ classes have more than 40 million Americans in practice. These practices are not only great stress reducers, but also just great exercise. Virtually any type of yoga, Pilates, and tai chi improves strength, balance and flexibility explains John P. Porcari, a clinical exercise physiologist.
But it’s not just about the body. You will be encouraged to focus on breathing, relaxation, and meditation. And all of this mindfulness has a real-world benefit: a study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who practice these techniques once a week recover from stress faster than those who don’t.
You can also get slim with these practices. A large study in the Journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine confirms that women get lean in these classes: practicing at least once a week for four years or more staves off middle-age spread.
Guys are discovery ‘mindful’ fitness in record numbers – and research says that’s a very good thing.
From Hollywood brass and NFL linebackers, to regular joes looking to get fit, men are turning to the ancient practices to build muscle, improve balance, and flexibility – and to get the benefits of ‘mindful’ training, probably best known for stress relief. A 2016 poll estimates that men make up 28% of the current classes.
Here are some of the obvious benefits for men:
- More Satisfaction. Men who participated in these practices had a better body image and improved sex life.
- Reduced Stress. These practices reduced stress, anxiety, and depression while improving memory.
- Less Anxiety. When Vietnam vets with PTSD practiced ‘mindful’ fitness, their symptoms lessened, and police cadets, taking just 6 classes, reported reduced tension and anger.
- Improved Balance. After 5 months of practice, men had substantially better posture and balance.
- Healthier Heart. Daily practice is linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol in older men.
- Better Sleep. Regular practice improves sleep quality and duration.
Can You Shed Pounds on a Mindfulness Diet?
Focusing your senses on a few raisins may sound odd, but mindful eating exercises are leading to weight-loss success.
Most of us have that one food we automatically crave when we’re stressed. We may find ourselves mindlessly munching when we’re bored or when we’re watching TV.
The good news: it’s possible to train ourselves to become more conscious of every bite through a practice known as mindful eating. Research suggests this strategy could vastly improve our relationship with food by reducing stress-related overeating – preventing weight gain in the process.
Mindful eating requires a change in the way you think about food. Instead of automatically finishing everything on your plate, you learn to pay attention to what your body needs – and what it doesn’t.
“Mindful eating allows people to enjoy a relaxed relationship with food – one that doesn’t require a constant struggle between willpower and temptation,” says Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist and the author of Why Diets Make Us Fat.
The secret to a weight-loss strategy is exercise and mindful eating habits. Great questions to ask yourself are: Am I hungry or am I full? Do I need food or something else? Becoming better attuned to your body’s signals may weaken your eating-out-of-boredom instinct. Research has linked mindfulness to reduced binge eating, less emotional eating and decreased body weight.
Nine Ways to Eat in the Moment (and Love It)
These are simple strategies for connecting with your hunger and avoiding stress snacking. People make some 200 decisions a day about food and drink – from what to cook for dinner – to whether they should order the tall or grande’.
To tune into your hunger cues and become a more mindful eater, try these:
- Start with: Do I really want this? Taking a brief pause to ask this question before indulging in a habit to stave off boredom or fatigue helps you gauge your real hunger level.
- Actually sit down. In a study from the University of Surrey in England, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, found that people who ate while sitting consumed less food than those who eat on the go.
- Be an Observer. Just notice the aroma, the flavor, and how attractive a dish looks – just platting it in interesting ways ups the pleasure factor and reduces the need to eat more to gain pleasure.
- Have lunch anywhere but your desk. Multitasking at your desk while eating will leave you less than satisfied, and you may look to dessert or seconds to fulfill that need.
- Go wild with Thai takeout…Or any other ethnic cuisine. In eating new dishes, you are likely to slow down, taste the spices, and savor the new flavors. This shifts you out of autopilot eating.
- Observe the crunch effect. In a study from Brigham Young and Colorado State universities, those who paid attention to the noise they made while eating their meals ate 45% less than those who ate without paying attention. The “crunch effect” suggests that the sound of food is a key sensory cue that helps us regulate how much we consume.
- Follow the rule of two. Courtesy of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab: order a reasonable entrée, plus any two other things that you really want, whether that’s a glass of pinot and an appetizer or a piece of pie. “People report eating about 25% less, because it doesn’t leave them feeling deprived,” says Wansink, the director of Food and Brand lab at Cornell.
- Clean that cluttered kitchen. We’re likely to overeat by as much as 34% when our kitchens are a mess of newspapers on the table, unopened mail on the counter, and chairs in disarray.
- End the meal on a favorite. Save the best for last. “The more satisfied you are after a meal, the less likely you are to eat a lot later,” says Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and the author of Eating Mindfully. So if dinner is chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and fruit, but it’s all about the spuds, end on those. The food gods never said we couldn’t have mashed potatoes for dessert.
Finding Your Flow
Losing yourself in something – whether a 5K run or a guitar solo – is a decades old secret to happiness that is gaining new traction today.
Flow has been defined as the state of being totally and blissfully immersed in a task, to the exclusion of just about everything else, including one’s self. Flow has the following characteristics:
- Intense and focused concentration on what one is doing in the present moment
- Merging of action and awareness
- Loss of awareness of oneself
- A sense that one can control one’s actions because one knows how to respond to whatever happens next.
- A sense that time has passed faster than normal.
- The experience of the activity is intrinsically rewarding, such that often the goal is just an excuse for the process.
Any of us can experience flow under the right circumstances. If you look at the original research, it was found that “people were happiest when they were engaged in activities that challenged them.”
Here are a few final hints for finding flow.
- Try not to dwell on past mistakes or fret over future ones.
- Find something that you enjoy intrinsically, just for the sake of doing it, something that will challenge you.
- Then dive in – and be patient.
In other words, don’t go looking for flow. Do what you love and it will find you.
Summarized from MINDFULNESS: The New Science of Health and Happiness
TIME Magazine SPECIAL EDITION
September 2, 2016
by “The Editors of Time”