Health

In our pursuit of health (the state of being free from illness or injury) we discovered the magic of meditation, the wonderful benefits of prayer, and the infusion of mind, body, and spirit through the consumption of tea.  In this pursuit, we have come across various writings, videos, and artistic presentations which can further these efforts.  To be of additional service to you, we have compiled an assortment of these works which you may find helpful.   Please enjoy as we have.


 

The Secret to the Oldest Living People by Matthew Vickery and usatoday.com

This Italian island is home to the oldest people in the world. Here’s their secret

Forget the anti aging creams, soaps and lotions. Turns out the secret to youth is actually chocolate and red wine. Buzz60’s Natasha Abellard (@NatashaAbellard) has the story. Buzz60

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SARDINIA, Italy — Zelinda Paglieno, who turned 102 in October, offers sobering advice when asked what’s the secret to her long and healthy life: “Two fingers width of red wine, and no more, at lunchtime every day.” 

“I’ve never smoked, but a little wine is good for you — and that’s something I still do now. We have very good grapes here,” she explained.

Paglieno’s age is no anomaly here in picturesque Sardinia, an Italian island in the Mediterranean that is home to the oldest people in the world, according to researchers on aging.

Sardinia is one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world identified as having residents who often reach age 90 or older. The other four are Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece) and the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda, Calif.

Paglieno, in her hometown of Esterzili, population 600, has three neighbors who are 100 or older.  

 

Despite her age, Paglieno remains in good health and happily navigates the hilly mountain village she’s lived in her whole life. She attributes her longevity to living off the land, good old-fashioned hard work, destino (destiny) and, of course, the local red wine known to be rich in polyphenols, which offer numerous health benefits.

Researchers studying centenarians in Sardinia’s remote mountain areas have a different explanation.

“Genetics is the main thing. The individuals living to these ages are almost always related,” said Pino Ledda, lead researcher of the Blue Zone Project in the region.

He points to charts on his computer about the nearby village of Seulo, a few miles from Esterzili on an adjacent mountainside, that had 20 centenarians over the past two decades.

 

“These areas are remote and have a history of isolation, so the gene pool is small — but why the genes here are leading to such long lives, that’s what we’re investigating,” he said. 

Seulo’s longevity milestones have been extensively documented and verified with records that stretch back to the 19th century, said Ledda, who now lives full time in the village. The village is regarded as the place where people live the longest in the world.

Throughout Seulo, older residents can be seen walking the hillside and uneven roads, slowly but steadily going about their business. Around them, large black-and-white pictures adorn the facade of 20 homes — portraits of the village’s centenarians since 1996.

Centenarians are cherished here, where each is made honorary mayor on his or her 100th birthday.

Another aspect to life along the narrow streets of Seulo not seen elsewhere on earth: men living as long as women.

Could the Pioppi Diet from Italy help you live to 100? Buzz60

Of the 20 centenarians in the village during the past two decades, 11 were men.

Caterina Moi, 97, who prefers to go by her nickname Lelina, was married to the village’s last male centenarian, Salvato Angelo, who died in August at 102. Her cousin just turned 103.

“I’m not old!” Moi exclaims after explaining she was born in 1920, a few years after her cousin and late husband.

She still hears well, can negotiate the steep steps to her first-floor home with relative ease and has no problem recounting past moments in her life.

Moi is also clear on why she believes she’s been graced with a long and healthy life — hard work.

“Since I was young I have always worked,” she said. “Salvato was a hard worker also. There were no machines to help you. We had to do everything by hand. When it came to working I’ve never said, ‘I don’t feel good, I can’t do this today,’ I’ve just got on with what needed to be done.”

The belief that hard work equals a long life echos throughout Sardinia. Researchers like Ledda are reluctant to agree but admit there’s a little truth to it. 

Centenarians in Seulo and Esterzili share something else. Their families have lived and worked off the land for generations, some working into their 90s.

 

“We ate what we grew. If you wanted vegetable soup one day, you had to go collect the ingredients yourself,” Moi said. “We didn’t need to think about eating healthy. We ate what we had, and it was healthy.”

Living off the land may provide an answer to why people here have good genes to live a long time, and researchers are studying stomach bacteria for clues. 

“We’re looking at the flora of the intestines and gut to see whether it has something to do with what people are eating, and whether it has to do with a diet specific to Sardinia,” Ledda said. “The centenarians are helping us with this, donating stool samples that can be analyzed, and we hope to soon have a better idea of what’s going on.”

Many residents like Moi and Paglieno are happy to assist, especially if it helps revitalize interest in their communities. More than half of the buildings in isolated Seulo and Esterzili are empty and falling into disrepair.

It’s also a chance to impart their own little piece of wisdom after a long, happy, and healthy life.

“Go live your life, work hard and be active — and a little wine,” Paglieno repeated. “I’ve already had mine for today. It’s one of the secrets, but just a little. Don’t abuse it.”

When it comes to longevity, most factors are out of your control, like genes. Your diet is one way to decrease your risk of chronic disease and increase your chance at a longer, healthier life. Watch the video to see which foods help you live longer. Time

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Sardinia, Italy – Home to the world’s longest living men by www.bluezones.com

Sardinia, Italy

Home to the world’s longest living men.

A cluster of villages in a kidney-shaped region on this island make up the first Blue Zone region we ever identified. In 2004, our research team set off to investigate a rare genetic quirk carried by its inhabitants. The M26 marker is linked to exceptional longevity, and due to geographic isolation, the genes of the residents in this area of Sardinia have remained 430_Sardiniamostly undiluted. The result: nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than the U.S.

But even more importantly, residents of this area are also culturally isolated, and they have kept to a very traditional, healthy lifestyle. Sardinians still hunt, fish and harvest the food they eat. They remain close with friends and family throughout their lives. They laugh and drink wine together.

Read more below about the lessons that Sardinia, Italy can teach you about longevity.

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Set up your lifestyle and environment like a Sardinian centenarian to live a longer, healthier life. Following these practices will promote habits that can keep you living well to 100+.

Eat a lean, plant-based diet accented with meat.430_Sardinia_02

The classic Sardinian diet consists of whole-grain bread, beans, garden vegetables, fruits, and, in some parts of the island, mastic oil. Sardinians also traditionally eat pecorino cheese made from grass-fed sheep, whose cheese is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Meat is largely reserved for Sundays and special occasions.

Put family first.

Sardinia’s strong family values help assure that every member of the family is cared for. People who live in strong, healthy families suffer lower rates of depression, suicide, and stress.

Celebrate elders.

Grandparents can provide love, childcare, financial help, wisdom, and expectations/motivation to perpetuate traditions and push children to succeed in their lives. This may all add up to a healthier, better adjusted, and longer-lived children. It may give the overall population a life expectancy bump.

Take a walk.

Walking five miles a day or more as Sardinian shepherds do provides all the cardiovascular benefits you might expect, and also has a positive effect on muscle and bone metabolism without the joint-pounding of running marathons or triathlons.

Drink a glass or two of red wine daily. 

Sardinians drink wine moderately. Cannonau wine has two or three times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines. Moderate wine consumption may help explain the lower levels of stress among men.

Laugh with friends.

Men in this Blue Zone region are famous for their sardonic sense of humor. They gather in the street each afternoon to laugh with and at each other. Laughter reduces stress, which can lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Drink goat’s milk.

A glass of goat’s milk contains components that might help protect against inflammatory diseases of aging such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

This is an excerpt from Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest by Dan Buettner, copyright 2008, all rights reserved.

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Ikaria, Greece – The island where people forget to die by /www.bluezones.com

Ikaria, Greece

The island where people forget to die.

Healthy Centenarian living longer

This tiny island’s long history has been as rocky as its topography. The outcropping in the Aegean Sea has been the target of invasions by Persians, Romans and Turks, forcing its residents inland from the coasts. The result: An isolated culture rich in tradition, family values – and longevity.

Today, Ikarians are almost entirely free of dementia and some of the chronic diseases that plague Americans; one in three make it to their 90s. A combination of factors explain it, including geography, culture, diet, lifestyle and outlook. They enjoy strong red wine, late-night domino games and a relaxed pace of life that ignores clocks. Clean air, warm breezes and rugged terrain draw them outdoors into an active lifestyle.

Read more below about the lessons that Ikaria can teach you about longevity.

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Videos From Ikaria, Greece

Blue Zones Ikaria Quest Day 1

Blue Zones Ikaria Quest Day 2

Blue Zones Ikaria Quest Day 3

Blue Zones Ikaria Quest Day 4

 

Ikarians have woven the recipe for longevity into their culture and lifestyle. Follow these common practices to cultivate your own centenarian lifestyle.

Mimic mountain living

The longest-lived Ikarians tended to be poor people living in the island’s highlands. They exercised mindlessly by just gardening, walking to their neighbors house or doing their own yard work. The lesson to us: Engineer more mindless movement into our lives.

In Ikaria longevity is a part of their culture

Eat a Mediterranean-style diet

Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes and olive oil. Try cooking with olive oil, which contains cholesterol-lowering mono-unsaturated fats.

Stock up on herbal

People in Ikaria enjoy drinking herbal teas with family and friends, and scientists have found that they pack an antioxidant punch. Wild rosemary, sage and oregano teas also act as a diuretic, which can keep blood pressure in check by ridding the body of excess sodium and water.

Nap

Take a cue from Ikarians and take a midafternoon break. People who nap regularly have up to 35 percent lower chances of dying from heart disease. It may be because napping lowers stress hormones or rests the heart.

Fast occasionally

Ikarians have traditionally been fierce Greek Orthodox Christians. Their religious calendar called for fasting almost half the year. Caloric restriction – a type of fasting that cuts about 30 percent of calories out of the normal diet – is the only proven way to slow the aging process in mammals.

Make family and friends a priority

Ikarians foster social connections, which have been shown to benefit overall health and longevity. So get out there and make some plans.

Choose goat’s milk over cow’s milk

Instead of cow’s milk, Ikarians use grass fed goat’s milk. It provides potassium and the stress-relieving hormone tryptophan. It’s also hypoallergenic and can usually be tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant.

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Change Your Genes with Yoga and Meditation by  Amanda MacMillan and TIME Health

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By AMANDA MACMILLAN 

June 16, 2017
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Yoga and meditation may do more than just help you feel relaxed in the moment. A new scientific review suggests that these and other mindfulness exercises can actually reverse stress-related changes in genes linked to poor health and depression.

In the new paper, published in Frontiers in Immunology, British researchers analyzed the findings from 18 previously published studies—involving a total of 846 people—on the biological effects of meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, Qi gong and Tai Chi. Together, the authors say, the studies show that these mind-body exercises appear to suppress the expression of genes and genetic pathways that promote inflammation.

Inflammation can temporarily boost the immune system, and can be protective against infection and injury, the authors write in their paper. But in today’s society, in which stress is primarily psychological, the body’s inflammatory response can become chronic and can impair both physical and mental health.

Researchers found that people who practiced these activities regularly had fewer signs of inflammation, including a decrease in their production of inflammatory proteins. This signals “the reversal of the molecular signature of the effects of chronic stress,” they wrote, which may translate to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.

Environment and lifestyle can both affect which genes are turned on and off, and that can have real effects on disease risk, longevity and even which traits get passed on to future generations. Stressful events, for example, can activate the fight-or-flight response and trigger a chain reaction of stress-related changes in the body—including activating specific genes involved in making proteins that produce inflammation.

Lead author Ivana Buric, a PhD student in Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in England, says her team was surprised to see that different types of mind-body techniques had such similar effects at the genetic level. “Sitting meditation is quite different than yoga or Tai Chi,” she said in an email, “yet all of these activities—when practiced regularly—seem to decrease the activity of genes involved in inflammation.”

This is a relatively new field of research, she adds, and it’s likely that similar benefits could be obtained from other lifestyle changes like healthy eating and exercise. There aren’t yet enough studies to know how activities like yoga compare to other types of physical activity in terms of altering gene expression.

Buric says the existing studies suggest that mind-body interventions “cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well being.” She also emphasizes that inherited genes are not static and that DNA activity can depend on things people can control. “By choosing healthy habits every day, we can create a gene activity pattern that is more beneficial for our health,” she says. “Even just 15 minutes of practicing mindfulness seems to do the trick.”

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Listening to the Body by Ziba Kashef and YaleNews

A women looking unhappily at a forkful of salad.
(© stock.adobe.com)

When people get sick with viral or bacterial infections, they often lose their appetite or avoid certain foods. According to a new Yale study, such sickness-related food preferences may correlate with the type of infection and the type of diet the body requires to fight the infection. The study findings could have implications for how doctors treat patients with acute infections, the researchers said.

The study also suggests a biological basis for certain food preferences during illness. It was published Sept. 8 in Cell.

For decades, scientists and doctors have speculated about the effect of certain sickness behaviors, such as fasting, on the immune system and on the course of disease. To investigate the phenomenon, a Yale research team, led by immunobiologist Ruslan Medzhitov, observed the impact of nutrition on mice infected with common viruses or bacteria.

When animals are infected they stop eating and they switch to a fasting metabolic mode,” Medzhitov said. “The question was whether fasting metabolism is protective or detrimental.”

When the researchers fed the animals, they found that those with viral infections survived, but the bacterially infected ones succumbed to the illness. By testing individual nutrients (fat, protein, and glucose), they determined that glucose was responsible for the opposing effects of nutrition on infection.

The team then repeated the experiment, but used chemicals to block the glucose metabolism. The results were reversed: Mice infected with bacteria survived, and mice infected with viruses did not.

The differing effects of nutrition on viral versus bacterial infections may be explained by differences in the immune response, the researchers said. Bacterial and viral infections cause different types of inflammation that can cause tissue damage. Depending on the cause of infection, nutrition can either help or hinder the body’s ability to tolerate inflammation.

During a viral infection, eating provides glucose, which may be necessary for survival,” Medzhitov said. Conversely, fasting leads to the production of ketones — another type of fuel — which may help animals tolerate a bacterial infection, he said.

The study suggests that different diet preferences may correlate with different types of infections, the researchers noted. Although further research is needed, the findings may have implications for how clinicians feed patients suffering from acute infections in intensive care units.

The findings provide support for the old adage “Starve a fever, feed a cold”; however, the authors caution that this should not be taken literally, as the effect may depend on the specific infection. 

Through millennia, all organisms evolved to be attuned to what cells need,” said Andrew Wang, M.D., first author and a clinical fellow in medicine. Cells require certain nutrients to perform tasks, he noted, and food preferences may be the body’s way of telling us how best to survive different types of infections.

Other Yale authors include Sarah C. Huen, Harding H. Luan, Shuang Yu, Cuiling Zhang, Jean-Dominique Gallezot, and Carmen J. Booth.

The work was supported by the The Blavatnik Family Foundation, Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and grants from the National Institute of Health.

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Study: Eat Protein in the Morning by Lindsay Abrams

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SimonDoggett/Flickr

PROBLEM: Skipping breakfast is strongly correlated with weight gain. “Start your day off right,” right? Still, young people eat nearly half of their daily calories between 4 p.m. and midnight. So, eat breakfast, but what’s best?

 


METHODOLOGY: A small experiment out of the University of Missouri involved 20 overweight or obese females, aged 18 to 20, who identified as infrequent breakfast eaters. Each morning for a week, the researchers had the participants eat either 350 calories of cereal (13 grams of protein), 350 calories of eggs and beef (35 grams of protein), or skip breakfast entirely. Dietary fat, fiber, sugar, and energy density were kept constant across all of their breakfasts.

 
 

Participants adjusted to their diets for six days. On the seventh day, they were kept in a lab so that researchers could track/control their behavior. They had them fill out questionnaires about their hunger levels and cravings. They took repeated blood samples. They hooked them up to an fMRI while showing them pictures of food. These tests were repeated on three different Saturdays.

On lab days, the participants were all given a standard 500-calorie lunch; for dinner they were given cut-up pieces of microwaveable pizza pockets and told to eat until they were full. They were then sent home with coolers packed with 4,000 calories worth of snacks: cookies, cakes, granola bars, candy (in its hard, chocolate, and gummy forms), chips, popcorn, crackers, pretzels, microwaveable mac and cheese, string cheese, fruits and veggies, single servings of ice cream, beef jerky, yogurt, and more microwaveable pizza pockets. This was meant to simulate the overexposure to and wide availability of snacks typical of the “modern food environment.”

RESULTS: Eating any breakfast was associated with increased feelings of fullness, a reduced desire to eat, and lower levels of ghrelin (a hunger-stimulating hormone) throughout the morning. But meaty, eggy breakfast was associated with these benefits over the course of the entire day. Participants who had a lot of protein in the morning also had reductions in their “cravings-related” brain activity, and increased levels of a hormone associated with satiety. They snacked less on fatty foods in the evening, as compared to those who ate cereal or nothing. 

 

Despite these positive chances, however, those who ate high-protein breakfasts ended up consuming about 120 extra calories overall. This was a nonsignificant difference, statistically, but one that wouldn’t lead to them losing weight. The researchers believe that more benefits would be seen over time, as the participants adjusted to the early morning calories and because of their improved diet quality.

IMPLICATIONS: This makes a pretty good case for a high-protein breakfast. The authors propose ground pork loin as an alternative to sausage and eggs. If that doesn’t do it for you, they also recommend plain Greek yogurt. To get 35 grams of protein you’d need to eat over two and a half servings of, say, Fage. For some, that’s not a problem.


Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, ‘breakfast-skipping,’ late-adolescent girls” is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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21 Tips to Stay Healthy by Liam Richard Flynn

What are some of the simplest healthy habits that will help you in the long run?
 
 

21 Tips to Stay Healthy in the SHORT AND LONG Term

1. Spice up your food with herbs

Adding herbs and spices to your meals is one of the tastiest ways to boost your health. Not only are these seasonings packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that protect your health, but herbs and spices can also be used to replace salt and sugar in recipes without sacrificing flavour. Spicy food may even help you control your weight, as studies show people eat smaller portions of meals with fat-burning chili peppers than of bland-tasting dishes.

So make a conscious effort to spice up your favorite foods. You can sprinkle cinnamon on your cappuccino, sip on a fresh mint tea or cook up a flavoursome dinner – make your own tomato sauce with garlic, basil and oregano; add ginger or turmeric to a stir fry; or toss fresh parsley into your salad.

2. Go for a walk in the park

Going for a 20-minute walk every day, especially in green environments, has many health benefits. Besides the more obvious invigorating effects of physical activity, moving around outdoors provides you with fresh air and exposes your skin to sunlight, which helps your body to produce vitamin D. A stroll through green surroundings is even an effective way to ease brain fatigue and to boost your happiness.

Make walking outside a regular part of your day: go for a stroll through a nearby park on your lunch break or after dinner, join Nerd Fitness’ Morning Mile Challenge or explore nature with a leisurely Sunday hike.

3. Mind your mental diet

Since ‘we are what we eat’, we all know we have to chose wisely what we put into our bodies. But have you ever stopped to think about what you put into your mind every day?

According to the Buddha, “we are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.” Whether you’re angry, scared or aroused, your thoughts trigger neurochemical reactions in your body, preparing you to fight, flight or make love. Even more, what you think regularly shapes your deepest beliefs about yourself and the world – and what you believe ultimately steers your actions.

How does the information you consume all day long affect your thoughts and your mood? Does watching the news make you feel pessimistic about the state of the world? Do you get agitated from reading the flaming discussions in comment sections online? Are your shivering under the covers because that horror movie scared you more than you dare to admit?

The first step to cleaning up your mental diet is to become aware of what you fill your mind with. Notice how the books and magazines you’re reading, the articles you’re browsing online or the TV shows you watch every week make you feel. Take a good look at what kind of people you surround yourself with, both in real life and on social media. The goal is to spend less time with media and people that suck away your energy or create pointless drama and focus more on those who inspire and motivate you.

4. Eat veggies with two of your meals

Eating plenty of vibrant veggies is a key element of a healthy lifestyle. But it’s not always easy getting your five a day, especially if you have to get it all in at dinner time. So why not make a small effort each day to add vegetables to not one but two of your meals?

You won’t just benefit from the wide range of health-boosting nutrients, but thinking of how you can fit veggies into your breakfast of lunch helps you make overall healthier food choices too. I mean, it’s hardly tasty to add greens to a bowl of artificially coloured cereals or greasy snack, right?

Luckily, consuming more vegetables can be as simple as mixing spinach into your morning eggs, putting slices of tomato and sprouts on your regular sandwich and having a glass of fresh beet-carrot-apple juice. For more ideas, check out “40 Delicious & Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables Every Day”.

5. Give yourself a bedtime

Waking up feeling energised after a good night’s sleep is high on most of our wish lists, and yet it can be so challenging to head to bed in time to make that happen. Just one more email to check, one last chore to do, just five more minutes staring mesmerized at the screen…

Pinpointing when it’s time to go to sleep can help you get in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and keep a more regular sleep schedule. According to happiness author Gretchen Rubin, giving yourself a bedtime is one of the secrets to more happiness and energy. So what are you waiting for?

(And if you still need convincing why you should prioritize getting seven or eight hours of shut-eye each night, have a look at this horrifying picture of what sleep deprivation will do to you.)

6. Practice gratitude

Being thankful for the little things that are going well in your life is one of the most powerful techniques to feel happier. Studies have shown time and time again counting your blessings every day trains your mind to focus on the positive – and being optimistic in turn is strongly related to an overall better health.

This week, try this simple gratitude exercise from Martin Seligman’s positive psychology book “Flourishand see how it makes you feel:

” Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well.”

7. Pack healthy snacks

It’s an all-too-common scenario: As 3pm rolls around, you find yourself craving that chocolate chip cookie to beat the afternoon slump. But although sugary or fatty snacks can give you a temporary boost, they will quickly lead to a blood sugar crash that saps your energy. Keep your energy levels stable throughout the day by carrying healthy snacks with you. Plain yoghurt, a piece of fruit, raw unsalted nuts or a boiled egg are all convenient and portable bites, but you could even jazz up your snack supplies with homemade treats like Green Kitchen Stories’ sesame seed super bars.

#7: Pack Healthy Snacks (Photo by Annelies Verhelst)

8. Floss daily to add years to your life

Did you know that your oral health can affect your overall wellbeing? Practicing good oral hygiene doesn’t just protect you from tooth decay and gum disease, but it also helps clear away harmful oral bacteria that are linked to heart disease and pregnancy problems. Fortunately, it’s easy to take good care of your mouth, teeth and gums:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, 20 minutes after a meal.
  • Floss daily.
  • Drink soda and (fresh) juices through a straw to help avoid cavities.
  • Replace your tooth brush every 3 months and visit your dentist for regular check ups.

9. Set up your surroundings for success

Sticking to new habits can be challenging. We’re used to automatically respond to everyday cues in our living environment – just think of checking your phone each time you’re waiting for the bus or buying popcorn at the cinema even when you’re not that hungry. But you can also use this principle to your advantage, by designing your surroundings in such a way that it triggers the desired behaviours.

As James Clear writes in his article on “Environment Design”:

“Here’s an easy way to apply environment design to your own life: think about your environment in relation to the number of steps it takes to perform a habit. To make good habits easier, reduce the number of steps to do them. To make bad habits harder, increase the number of steps between you and the habit.”

How can you put this clever advice to good use? You could place a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter if you want to make healthier food choices, have your running shoes waiting for you by the front door or set the alarm on your phone to remind you to take deep belly breaths and quiet your mind for 5 minutes. Which changes in your surroundings will you make to improve your health and happiness?

10. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning

Do you find yourself reaching for a cup of coffee as soon as you wake up? It might be interesting to experiment how starting the day with a simple glass of water makes you feel. Although a moderate consumption of caffeine doesn’t seem to have the dehydrating effect once assumed, drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning – when your production of the energy-regulating hormone cortisol is at its peak – can lead to building a tolerance to its stimulating effect. Water is still the most recommended, non-caloric way to maintain the balance of fluids in your body.

Do you find water too boring or cold in the morning? Try starting your day with a cup of luke-warm water with lemon juice – a holistic practice that is said to soothe the digestive system, boost your immune system and hydrate your lymphs.

11. Fit several short bursts of physical activity into your busy day

You’ve probably read the headlines last year about how our sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. If you have long commutes or sit behind a desk all day, like so many of us, it might be a good idea to start sneaking in more active moments into your schedule. Get into the habit of gently stretching yourself as you get out of bed, doing standing push-ups as you’re waiting for the tea to boil or knee-bends when you’re brushing your teeth. At work, take the stairs and try to get up from your chair every hour – even a short walk over to the printer or coffee machine will get your blood flowing again. Come up with out-of-the-box and fun ways to fit in some gentle exercises every day!

12. Schedule buffer time

Are you often rushing from appointment to appointment? Somehow things like getting ready for work, commuting or meetings always take longer than we expected. But being late can be pretty stressful. Your days might run a lot more relaxed if you plan extra pockets of time into your busy schedule. Try getting up 5 minutes earlier, plan extra time just in case you get stuck in traffic (again) and don’t schedule appointments back-to-back but leave a little space between events. Less stress!

13. Cut down on sugary drinks

More and more research shows that refined sugar wreaks havoc on our health. One powerful way to limit your intake of this sweet poison is to cut down on soda, (fresh) juice and energy drinks. Most of these beverages contain 5 to 10 teaspoons of sugar, which leads to (a vicious circle of) spikes in your blood sugar levels that can cause long-term damage to your body. Unfortunately, diet soda is not a healthy alternative to regular soft drinks. Artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking you’re consuming real sugar and that confuses your metabolism, resulting into burning fewer calories while craving even more sweets and refined carbs.

If you want to cut down your sugar consumption, start with swapping your soda and fruit juices for plain water (flavoured with slices of citrus and mint if you like), fresh vegetable juice or green smoothies, unsweetened (nut) milk or coconut water. You could also slowly learn to enjoy your warm beverages without added sugar or sweeten your tea and coffee with green stevia.

14. Wash your hands properly

This is such an obvious piece of health advice that it’s often overlooked, but a study cited by the World Health Organization estimates that washing your hands saves more lives worldwide than any medical intervention. At yet, few of us wash our hands properly – as in: scrubbing vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Reduce your risk of getting sick from infections and food contaminations by washing your hands after you visit the bathroom, whenever you sneeze and before and after you’ve handled food. A small effort that can make a big difference for your health!

15. Develop meaningful connections

Modern technology enables us to communicate with friends and strangers all over the world. And although I love using social media to stay up-to-date with loved ones who live far away and meet new friends online, nothing replaces real-life meet-ups with deep conversations, hugs and laughter.

Our brains are wired to connect. Loneliness – whether it’s from social isolation or feeling alone in a room full of people – can weaken your immune system and set the stage for a range of (chronic) illnesses, while spending time with friends and receiving social support during tough times boosts your happiness and overall health.

So take inspiration from the late Mother Teresa and “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Make time each week to deepen your relationships with your family or hang out with your friends. Put down your phone, be fully present and really listen to your loved ones when you’re together. Laugh! Be kind to everyone you meet: looking people in the eye, smiling and a genuinely friendly attitude can make all the difference in their day – and yours.

#20: Enrich your life with wellness rituals (Photo by Annelies Verhelst)

16. Eat mindfully

The next time you’re thoughtlessly gobbling your food, ask yourself: am I hungry or am I eating because I’m bored/stressed/thirsty/it’s dinner time?

Emotional (over)eating and mindlessly putting food into your mouth are an important cause of unhealthy eating habits and weight gain. Time for a new approach: try to be fully present when you’re eating and really enjoy your meal. Make a rule not to eat on-the-go anymore or to quickly stuff a sandwich down your throat behind your desk. Sit down when you’re having a bite and eat from a nice plate – no boxes or bags. Chew slowly and try to really notice how your food smells and tastes.

If you’re an emotional eater, stop for a second and become aware of why you’re suddenly craving comfort food. Find better ways to feed your emotions – call your best friend when you feel down or lonely, or wind down with an evening stroll or warm bath after a stressful day.

17. Create a healthier home

Think of small ways how you can make the place where you spend so much time just a little healthier:

  • Keep toxins out of your home. Aim to use natural materials like wood and organic fabrics, prevent molds by repairing leaks and swap your chemical cleansers for less harmful products. Another good tip is to air out your dry-cleaning by an open window before you hang your clothes back into your closet.
  • Take off your shoes when you get inside.
  • Bring the outdoors inside! Open your windows regularly to let in some fresh air and buy air-purifying plants.
  • Rearrange your cupboards so your healthy staples are always within sight and within reach. Over time, replace your standard, not so healthy ingredients for wholesome alternatives – like swapping white rice for brown rice or quinoa.

18. Get out of your head

We spend such a large part of our days consuming and analysing information, planning and thinking about all kinds of problems and possible solutions. But being inside our heads all the time can lead to informational overload and mental fatigue, not to mention rumination – a major risk factor for depression and anxiety disorders.

Let go of your worries for a while and get back in touch with your body. You can refresh your mind by pottering around in the garden or going for a run. Working with your hands is also an effective way to get out of your head – take up knitting, baking wholesome cakes or doing odd jobs around the house. Maybe now’s a great time to pick up that hobby you always want to do?

19. Focus on ‘crowding’ out instead of ‘cutting out’

Do you get that rebellious feeling in your gut when someone advises you to quit eating junk food for good, stop watching TV and get off the couch? Rigorously cutting out beloved comfort foods or activities often leaves you wanting that pizza even more than before. So why not focus on addinghealthy habits to your routine instead of thinking about all the things you supposedly can no longer do?

When you get excited about making your own popcorn during movie night or having zucchini pancakes for Sunday brunch (trust me, they’re really good), you no longer have room in your belly for the bag of potato chips or greasy fry up you’d usually eat. You can practice ‘crowding out’ by picking one healthy swap or trying one new healthy ingredient each week, that automatically leaves less space for unhealthier options.

20. Enrich your life with little wellness rituals

Do you dream of having a luxurious and relaxing spa holiday, but you can’t find the time or money? Create the same uplifting effects from your own home with little wellness rituals. Think of dry brushing your skin before your morning shower to stimulate your circulation or adding a few drops op essential oil to your warm bath. When you come home from a stressful day, you could put on some soft music and gently give yourself a reflexology foot massage. Seek some inspiration online about which holistic rituals you can start fitting into your schedule!

21. Unplug

“The oddest thing about whats happening right now is that we’ve stopped living our lives & we’re just recording them.” – George Clooney in Esquire Magazine

We’ve all happily embraced the endless possibilities that modern technology offers to stay connected and entertained 24/7. But as the video below shows, it’s important to set boundaries for ourselves about how to use today’s gadgets and media to our benefit, not become a slave of it. Taking a digital detox is related to many healthy habits on this list, like getting enough sleep, preventing information overload and deepening your connections with others.

Set little rules for yourself: maybe you want to set your phone on airplane mode after 9pm or you turn off all your electronic devices one hour before bedtime to help you sleep quicker and deeper. Or perhaps a technology-free rule at meal times or an unplugged Sunday work wonders for your wellbeing – whatever works best for you! Just know when it’s time to forget your phone and enjoy life as it’s happening in front of you.

Again, check out this weight loss guide in order to really jumpstart your way to having long term success with your healthy lifestyle! Cheers and good luck 🙂

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Health Benefits of Collagen by collagencomplete.com

The Top 14 Benefits of Collagen Supplements

 

top 14 benefits of collagen

Collagen is becoming the most popular anti-aging supplement of 2016.  Everyone from TV doctors to “mommy bloggers” are raving about the benefits of collagen supplements.

With this much hype, it’s healthy for you to be skeptical.  After all, we’ve seen so many health supplements come and go in the last few years.

As soon as a new study comes out, marketers and the media jump on the bandwagon to sell us the next miracle in a bottle.  Maybe the study was valid.  Maybe it wasn’t.  It usually gets figured out after everyone has bought it.

In this blog post, you’ll discover why collagen supplements are different.  Collagen isn’t a new, unstudied “miracle” supplement.  There are decades of studies into the benefits of collagen and gelatin.  Let me show you…

Why is collagen proving to have so many benefits?

Collagen is a special type of protein that forms a long chain that acts as the “glue” and support in your body.  It forms a network of these protein chains that form the structure of your body.  Collagen takes many forms in your body.  For example, it provides the strength of your bones, the flexibility of your joints, and the smoothness of your skin.

Your body produces its own collagen in abundance to make your skin, bones, hair, nails, muscles, and all your organs, but you wind up producing less and less as you get older.  This is the cause of the signs of aging.  Hydrolyzed collagen supplements actually help stimulate this collagen growth to healthy levels.

While most people are aware of one or two collagen supplement benefits, after they start taking collagen it doesn’t take too long for them to discover many more benefits.  This is because it’s so important for all systems of your body. It’s very common to hear this… 

I started taking collagen because I wanted to improve my hair and nails, but after a couple weeks I noticed that the pain in my hip was going away!

 

So let’s take a look at the top 14 hydrolyzed collagen benefits:

1. Hydrolyzed collagen helps reduce wrinkles and improve skin conditions

skin wrinkles before and after collagenYep, you read that right! Taking a hydrolyzed collagen powder supplement actually helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles due to the skin collagen regeneration it promotes.

In fact, a 2014 double-blind, placebo controlled study found that women who took 2.5 grams of collagen each day over an eight-week period reduced their eye wrinkles by 20%.  In comparison, the serving size of Collagen Complete is 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day (4x the dose used in the study).

Keep in mind that this study only analyzed wrinkles, but other studies have shown benefits to the skin such as protecting it from UVA and UVB damage, and improving elasticity, moisture and smoothness.

2. Hydrolyzed collagen supports the re-growth of joint tissue and can help relieve joint pain

knee joint before and after with collagenHave you ever noticed how many elderly people appear when they walk?  It looks like it must be painful to even move.  On top of dehydration and a lack of stretching, this is due to a lack of collagen which results in joint pain, inflammation and deterioration.

With good collagen supplementation, you may notice more agility in your joints, tendons, and ligaments, and less arthritic-like symptoms.

A Tufts Medical Center 2012 study using high tech magnetic resonant imaging compared the collagen health in knee joints of those who had taken a daily 10,000 mg collagen supplement for 48 weeks to those who hadn’t.  They saw that those who took collagen had actually significantly improved the healthy cartilage tissue in their knee joints.  Talk about reversing the signs of aging!

3. Collagen helps prevent bone loss (osteoporosis)

bone loss and collagen benefitsMultiple studies have found that you can prevent and relieve osteoporosis by supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen because of its ability to stimulate bone-creating cells (osteoblasts).  Studies show that bone loss is less common in women who use hydrolyzed collagen supplements.

Throughout our lives, there’s a constant cycle of bone collagen destruction and re-creation.  This is your body’s way of maintaining a healthy structure.  Most osteoporosis medication works by blocking the natural process of bone destruction.  In the short term this seems to work, but we’re now discovering that long-term use of these medicines results in an unhealthy bone matrix that is weak and brittle.  Hydrolyzed collagen supplements do the opposite–they help stimulate your body to create more bone collagen.

4. Collagen can help reduce cellulite and prevent stretch marks

collagen for cellulite Cellulite is typically due to a lack of collagen in the dermal layer, which normally “holds the fat in place”.  Essentially, the combination of too much fat and too little collagen is the recipe for cellulite.

In a 2015 study of 105 middle aged women, it was discovered that supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen lead to an improvement in skin waviness on the thighs and to a general improvement in skin appearance in women suffering from moderate cellulite.

If you want to reduce that annoying dimpling, then a hydrolyzed collagen supplement is a must!  Other supplements and therapies can also help, but as usual it’s best to treat this condition from within using proper nutrition to restore your healthy collagen.  This leads us to our next benefit…

5. Collagen can help you lose weight

collagen for weight lossStudies are showing that taking collagen boosts our metabolism while also reducing appetite. One such study cited a 20% reduction of food intake after breakfast when collagen peptides were eaten at this time. The same study showed these peptides to be 40% more satiating than other protein powder supplements such as whey, soy, and casein. There’s also a metabolism boost due to an amino acid in collagen called glycine which brings blood sugar to tissue and in turn boosts energy.

While there may not be many studies directly researching collagen and weight loss, it makes sense that if you reduce appetite and increase metabolism naturally it will be easier to lose weight.

6. Detoxify your liver with a collagen broth

bone broth fastWe are exposed to so many toxins these days, and it’s hard to know how to reverse the unhealthy effects that they place on our bodies. We need to detox to some extent each day, and taking a collagen supplement with breakfast is an easy way to do just that.

The amino acid “glycine” in collagen helps reduce liver damage, one reason many have turned to bone broth fasts for a quick and easy cleanse.  Just allow the bones of grass-fed cows to simmer on low heat with some hardy vegetables for up to 24 hours.  You’ll have one of the most nutritious foods you can eat to detoxify your liver and other organs.

7. Collagen helps repair leaky gut syndrome

collagen for leaky gutWith digestive health issues running rampant these days, many are experiencing leaky gut syndrome, a terrible condition where toxins are able to pass through the intestinal wall and into our bloodstream.

This is caused by the weakening of our intestinal walls, part of which are the tiny folds called “intestinal villi” which are made of collagen.  Luckily, collagen supplements can help prevent and reverse this by re-building the collagen in the intestinal walls.

8. Collagen is an important part of healthy hair growth

collagen for hair growthThere are three things needed for healthy hair to grow:  keratin, minerals and collagen!  Many of the amino acids needed to make keratin are also found in hydrolyzed collagen.  One of these amino acids is Lysine, which has also been found to reduce 5-alpha reductase, a major factor in male pattern baldness.

This explains why there are so many people see improvements in their hair quality and luster by taking collagen supplements.

9. Collagen helps you grow stronger nails

collagen for healthy nailsCollagen is what actually builds strong nails. If you have fingernails that tend towards splitting, this is a good sign you need to boost your collagen intake.

Just like your hair, your nails are mainly made of keratin, collagen and minerals.  You need to make sure your body has the necessary nutrients to grow stronger nails.  Most people know that biotin is an important vitamin for healthy hair and nails.  Adding collagen to your regimen is a great way to grow healthier nails and hair.

10. Collagen supports healthy teeth and gums

collagen for teeth and gumsOur oral health is paramount to overall health, and collagen forms the structure of the teeth as well as the supporting tissue around it (the gums and jaw).

There’s a huge industry selling us a beautiful smile: teeth whitening, braces and “extreme make-over” surgeries all try to make a healthy smile by “fixing” it from the outside.  What if the secret to a healthy smile was to create it from within with proper nutrition?

In the early 1900’s, a famous dentist, Weston A Price, went around the world researching isolated tribes which hadn’t made contact with Western Culture yet.  What he discovered is that they all had beautiful, straight smiles without the need for braces, teeth whitening or surgery.  After researching the diets of these tribes he discovered that besides eating very little sugar, they were consuming plenty of bone broth which provided them the collagen they needed to build healthy smiles.

11. Collagen can help balance your hormones

collagen for hormonal balanceOur hormones are responsible for so many mechanisms within the body. They need to be balanced and functioning optimally if we’re going to have long, healthy lives. Collagen helps to balance insulin, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, melatonin, progesterone, and even the human growth hormone. Each hormone has an essential function, and when out of whack, they wreak havoc on our health.

Balancing these hormones is vital not just for women, but for men, too. If you have any issue with any of the above hormones, make sure to take a hydrolyzed collagen supplement so you have the necessary amino acids to make all these hormones.

12. Collagen could help alleviate anxiety

collagen anxietyModern life is stressful. We all know that. We also know what a detriment stress and anxiety can be to our lives. Thankfully, collagen helps reduce anxiety, leaving one feeling more relaxed and able to cope with life’s ups and downs with greater ease.

The anti-anxiety properties of collagen lie in its high concentration of glycine. Glycine is an amino acid that many of us lack. We need to boost our glycine intake because it has effective anti-anxiety properties, something we all need more of in our fast-paced modern lives.

13. Collagen promotes restful sleep

collagen sleepWho doesn’t need a better night of rest? Good sleep is necessary for a good life, and collagen is super-helpful on this front. Again, glycine is to thank here, because it works to improve the quality of our sleep while also helping to eliminate daytime drowsiness.

If you need support in the sleep department, consider taking hydrolyzed collagen powder as a supplement to your diet.

14. Collagen can prevent hardening of the arteries

collagen and hardening arteriesThe walls of your arteries are mostly composed of collagen.  So having healthy collagen is one of the best ways to prevent hardening of the arteries.

One of the early researchers into this condition, Linus Pauling, recommended a regimen of Vitamin C, lysine and proline to reverse atherosclerosis.  Vitamin C is the most important vitamin for growing new collagen.  As you know, a lack of Vitamin C will lead to scurvy, which is when your body can’t make new collagen!  Lysine and proline are two of the more abundant amino acids found in hydrolyzed collagen. So maybe Linus Pauling was onto something.

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The Dirty Dozen by drweil.com

Foods You Should Always Buy Organic: The Dirty Dozen Plus

I am pleased to have an ongoing association with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. Specifically, I help EWG spread the word about one of its most valuable pieces of research – its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The 2018 version is based on the results of ongoing pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies.

Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce – for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing. The following “Dirty Dozen Plus” had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic versions – or to grow them organically yourself.

The Dirty Dozen Plus (2018)

Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. Here’s a video in which I address the importance of avoiding pesticides.

Also keep in mind that maintaining your family’s health is not the only reason to choose organic food. Pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to “colony collapse disorder,” the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply. Buying or growing organic food is good for the health of the planet.

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