The Easiest Way to Be Healthier
Much of our work at Mind Body Motion is about changing the way our clients view health choices. Water is an excellent example.
Many of my new clients see water as bland and boring. They fail to see how awe-inspiring water really is. It can cut through mountains or be as still as glass. It can destroy a village or give life to an emanciated child across the world. Water is the motor of our weather patterns and the most basic building block of life. Water is a symbol of purification in every major religion. Whether you are sitting in a cubicle or sitting in traffic, drinking water is a way to connect with both nature and your spirit.
Drinking water is also the best way to avoid the chronic dehydration afflicting most Americans and one of the easiest ways to feel healthier. When you’re thirsty, you’re already between 1 and 2 percent dehydrated. And because most food contains some amount of water as well as a jolt of sugar to combat fatigue, many people eat when they are mildly dehydrated. Others usually don’t drink water, preferring soda or coffee. But caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that make dehydration worse.
Mild dehydration has subtle, yet powerful, effects on your quality of life. Your cortisol levels go up and your energy levels go down. A study even found that migraine sufferers experienced significantly more headaches when they were mildly dehydrated. No wonder hangovers hurt so much!
A new exercise program will be difficult to maintain if you are in a state of chronic dehydration. Your body needs water to transport nutrients and oxygen to muscles while you exercise. Yet, our bodies release water through sweat to keep our skin cool. If you are not optimally hydrated, you’ll be prone to muscle cramps and exhaustion.
To avoid chronic dehydration, drink half your body weight in ounces each day. If you are 190 pounds, then drink 95 ounces each day.
Best Water to Drink
Our bodies need the proper pH balance to stay healthy. pH determines how much oxygen your blood can transport. Healthy blood has a pH of around 7.4, or slightly alkaline.
Processed foods and a stressful lifestyle lower the pH levels of your blood. The resulting acidosis can cause bone disease and muscle loss. Some experts think it can lead to cancer and other disease.
Eating alkaline foods and drinking pure water are an effective way to maintain your body’s pH levels. The Alkaline Diet includes fruits and vegetables as well as pure water with a pH of at least 7. A Canadian review found that the Alkaline Diet increased pH levels in urine and resulted in better bone and muscle health. It also improved chronic diseases such as hypertension.
Drink alkaline water that contains minerals. The closest to 7 in the PH chart the better the water is to drink. Test kits can help you determine if the water you buy is really alkaline. We are paying a ridiculous amount of money for water labeled alkaline but is really just plain tap water. We have found Fiji, Evian Artisan Water and Arrowhead to be the most alkaline.
The Blue Zone
What started out as a National Geographic story on the healthiest and happiest people in the world has turned into a movement called The Blue Zone. People reach 100 years of age far more often in these regions of the world than in other regions of the world.
Drinking alkaline water is one of their secrets. People who live in these areas drink mineral water found in mountains and springs. Water from these regions contains calcium and magnesium as well as other important minerals.
Give us a call to learn how to hydrate properly and other longevity secrets of people in the Blue Zone.
Why It Takes a Machine to Connect with Your Spirit
The hand axe was the first machine people built. In the thousands of years since then, our gadgets have grown in complexity and purpose. Yet, not a single one can match the efficiency and agility of the machine used by that first maker of the hand axe: the human machine.
Machines have been my passion since I was a child. My love for mechanics led me to earn my technical drafting certificate when I was 16 and living in Mexico. But my passion wasn’t fully realized until I applied my knowledge to the human body.
Today, I help my clients heal and avoid injuries by teaching them about the human machine using a technique called body awareness. Learning to be aware of your body reduces your risk for injuries and enhances your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Body Awareness Explained
Body awareness means paying attention to what is usually overlooked: the marvelous mechanics of the human body.
What did you think about when you walked out of your front door this morning? Most people think about the best route around rush hour traffic, that important call to make the moment they get to work or whether they remembered to put the smart phone in their bag. Almost no one thinks about the astonishing way their body carries them through the doorway and down the steps.
And almost no one would be thankful for a blister. Yet a valuable lesson lies in a blister on a toe. Blister pain rises and falls in tandem with our steps, providing a relentless education in body awareness. The rising of your foot, the friction of your shoe against your toe, the moment of burning pain when your foot meets the ground become difficult to ignore.
And when you stop ignoring how your body moves, you’ll begin to see it’s a miraculous machine. Most importantly, you’ll be able to use your awareness to improve your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
How Body Awareness Affects Health
Our movements, even the automatic ones, influence our health and well-being. Posture, a movement we often don’t think about, is an excellent example. Our lifestyle encourages poor posture. Computer work, driving and cell phone use cause the head to be in front of the shoulders.
Yet, this slouching leads to neck and back pain. Poor posture also causes weak abdominal muscles that, in turn, lead to ankle and knee pain. Even rotator cuff injuries and tennis elbow can be traced to poor posture.
But physical pain isn’t the only issue stemming from sagging shoulders. Studies show slouching can increase depression and reduce energy.
It works the other way, too. Correcting your pose doesn’t just prevent problems. It changes your body chemistry for the better.
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, presented a now-famous TED talk. In it, she explains how the right pose can make you more confident and successful. Standing strong even makes a positive impact on your testosterone and cortisol levels.
Body Awareness is Underrated
Unfortunately, we’re discouraged from connecting mindfully with our bodies when our society values the way our body looks, rather than how it feels.
Lifting machine weights may grow your biceps or tighten your abs, but it does nothing to create a truly functional body. I show my clients how to perform multi-joint functional exercises.
By using these specialized exercises, you use your body as the integrated, functional machine it is. You’re not just engaging in mindless repetition; you’re thinking about your form. The result is greater body awareness as well as greater strength and stability to prevent injuries.
Awareness of Breathing While Walking
Breathing is the most important movement your machine makes. It sets the rhythm for a succession of internal processes. It also connects your body to your spirit. But you’re probably doing it incorrectly.
Most people inhale by filling the chest cavity, creating tension in the neck and reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to the organs.
Breathing correctly, by expanding the belly, is a simple and powerful way to improve your health. It can lower your heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. Belly breathing is a cornerstone of many spiritual practices and the first step in increasing your body awareness.
You’ll probably need to practice belly breathing while sitting or lying down. By putting your hand on your belly, you’ll feel your abdomen expanding as you inhale. Notice how your breath slows. Notice also how your body begins to relax.
Belly breathing isn’t just for meditation. It’s an effective way to feel more relaxed and energetic throughout your day. It’ll take practice to make deep breathing automatic. But the practice itself will teach you to become more aware of how your body moves.
Appreciation Through Body Awareness
Try this exercise. Stand up from a seated position. But move as slowly as you can. Observe how the energy begins in your feet and rises. Observe each muscle as it contracts. It’s a movement you may repeat a hundred times a day and yet never appreciate the richness of the machine that makes it possible.
Gratitude is a natural outgrowth of awareness.
We’re having weekly classes to help you raise your body awareness. You’ll learn how to integrate your mind and body. You’ll move with more ease and freedom. You’ll reduce your risk of injuries. Most importantly, you’ll connect your spirit with your machine.
Give us a call to learn more about it.
Are Night Lights Making You Fat?
Nighttime satellite images show an Earth seemingly sprinkled with stardust. It’s hard to imagine the millions of lights seen from space began with a single light bulb in Thomas Edison’s laboratory. Harder still to imagine this glowing web of electricity is creating a hormonal horror of obesity, hypertension, insomnia and even cancer.
As the invention most responsible for nightlife adventures, it’s hard to find much wrong with the light bulb. Its illumination made streets safer and gave rise to 24-hour work production. Without the shackles of darkness, people could work or play until sunrise. Little did they realize those shackles were the sum of complex hormones known collectively as the circadian rhythm.
Battle for Your Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock. It evolved to reflect the way people lived for tens of thousands of years: in harmony with sunrise and sunset. And the mainspring that sets this clockwork in motion is the hormone melatonin.
Melatonin tells your body it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. But it does so much more. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative damage. It’s also an anti-inflammatory that boosts the immune system. Melatonin has even been shown to have an anti-aging effect and to increase longevity in mice.
Your body knows it’s time to produce melatonin when darkness comes. But in our lit-up world, darkness is harder to come by. Scientists have discovered the blue-light emitting from artificial lights is tricking our bodies into reducing melatonin production. This discovery is especially troubling in the tech-age, when electronic devices and LED bulbs emit more blue light than their incandescent predecessors.
Illnesses Linked to Melatonin Disruption
Low melatonin levels have been linked to several illness, insomnia being the most obvious. The CDC says 50-70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. Americans spent $3 billion on just two popular sleep medications in 2006.
Studies also show low melatonin levels have sinister effects that go beyond sleeplessness. Exposure to light at night has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Does all this talk about wake-sleep cycles have you thinking about your late-night servings of ice-cream and potato chips? Some studies suggest that nighttime lights increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is known to increase sugar and carb cravings.
Don’t Run Out For Melatonin Supplements
It may seem melatonin supplements are the answer to the blue-light conundrum. Remember, melatonin is a hormone with far-reaching health implications. In fact, it’s the only hormone available as a supplement simply because it’s found in some foods. Most melatonin supplements are synthetic, use a dose that is too high, and release too quickly into the blood stream. Furthermore, supplementing with melatonin leaves you vulnerable to side effects, such as depression and unpleasant dreams. Some experts believe supplementing will cause your body to produce less melatonin naturally. And remember, supplementing with melatonin won’t do anything about late-night cortisol levels.
How to Prevent Blue Light Exposure
Most people aren’t willing to turn off their electric devices at 9 pm. Luckily for them, Dr. Richard L. Hansler, a physicist with Ohio-based John Carroll University, has developed glasses that block blue-light. A former researcher for General Electric, Hansler went to work in his retirement years researching seasonal affective disorder. His research prompted him to develop a product to restore melatonin levels despite the ever-increasing onslaught of blue-light. The result: Zzz Glasses, orange goggles that can fit over regular glasses and block over 95 percent of blue-light.
I was skeptical at first. But after using them every night for the past three weeks, I’m a well-rested believer in Zzz Glasses blue-light blocking powers. I set a time to wear them at 8 pm, two hours before my target bedtime of 11. I find I fall asleep sooner, sleep more deeply and wake at 6 am feeling well-rested. And since I’m using a computer within a half hour of going to bed, I don’t have to sacrifice productivity for a good night’s sleep.
A single cause cannot explain away poor health, and blue-light is no exception. Good health is a culmination of choices, from eating well and exercising to practicing good sleep hygiene. Reducing blue-light exposure and restoring your melatonin levels to a natural state is a great first step. From your new, well-rested vantage point, you can make other lasting changes. Exercising early in the morning will further regulate your cortisol levels and fine-tune your circadian rhythm. Paying attention to your spiritual side will increase sense of calm.
Please give us a call to get your blue-light blocking glasses. We can also help you get back on track with your sleep quality and energy levels through other lifestyle improvements. Make an appointment today.
You Need More than a New Year to Become a New You
It’s a brand new year and you have some fitness goals. While I want you to be successful on every resolution you’ve set, I’m not going to encourage you to see 2014 as a blank slate. Because the reality is that today isn’t much different than yesterday. Nor is it much different than the 365 days prior to yesterday. At least the calendar isn’t going to make today different.
If 2014 is going to be the year you accomplish your goals, it’s because you make a change within yourself.
The Guiding Principle of Successful Goals
I’ve been working with clients for over 20 years and helping them achieve their fitness goals. In that time, I’ve set goals for myself. Many of these I accomplished. Others I failed to accomplish. I’ve noticed that successful people apply a basic idea to the foundation of their goals. This guiding principle reduces tension in their lives. It’s called balance. Without it, you can’t be truly successful.
Just as time can’t be reduced to 365 square blocks, you can’t be reduced to your fitness goals. Each goal, whether it’s related to work, health or something else, impacts other areas of your life. Whether that impact is positive or negative determines if the goal will bring balance or tension to your life.
Balance and Self-Sabotage
But here’s the kicker. Even if you don’t care about balance, your subconscious does. And it will protect you from yourself with a sordid mix of distraction, fear and self-sabotage.
One way to determine if your fitness goals are balanced is to ask yourself how they will impact your life. You may self-sabotage if you sense that your family is resentful of the time you spend exercising. Or you may skip a morning exercise session if your boss pressures you to answer emails before work. When your goals bring more tension than balance, you’ll struggle to achieve them.
Using Balance to Set New Year’s Resolutions
To bring balance to your life, try setting goals in multiple areas that complement each other. Focus on your emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs.
Making a goal of enhancing family time reduces the tension you feel about spending time exercising. Creating goals that will bring tangible success to the company through your efforts makes you less susceptible to your boss’s unreasonable expectations. Committing to a healthy, active lifestyle increases your creative energy for other areas of your life.
An Invitation to Fulfillment
Too often, New Year’s resolutions focus on external changes. While the transition from 2013 to 2014 brings a new tax year and clearance sales, it isn’t the panacea that will make you healthy and fit.
Rather, the tradition we call New Year’s resolutions is an invitation. It’s an opportunity to pause and reflect. Just as this New Year is one of many, your fitness goals are just one component of a fully realized life.
By seeking balance when you set your New Year’s resolutions, goals become less like a tug of war and more like a harmonious circle. Instead of paying a price in terms of time and energy, you’re making an investment in a full life.
The Shocking Truth About Energy Drinks
A cup of coffee seems to make rush-hour traffic, deadlines and the ceaseless hum of your smartphone more bearable. While a little caffeine is a great transition from bed to business, too much can be harmful to your health. The newest conveyors of caffeine, energy drinks, are raising questions about the safety of the world’s favorite drug. When it comes to finding a better way to feel energized, the best supplements for mental clarity may be the answer.
Dangers of Energy Drinks Revealed
When a Maryland teen died of caffeine toxicity after drinking two Monster energy drinks, her parents filed a lawsuit. The resulting investigation revealed the powerful beverage may be responsible for five other deaths, while its equally caffeinated counterpart, 5-Hour Energy, may be guilty of 13 deaths.
Wanting to know more, the government conducted a survey. It found that emergency room visits related to energy drinks rose to 20,000 in 2011, doubling in just four years. Most of these patients were between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. Less than half of them mixed alcohol or drugs with their turbo-charged tonics.
The symptoms that propelled these thousands to the emergency room include dehydration, convulsions, abnormal heart rhythms and even heart attacks.
Most manufacturers are secretive about how much caffeine is actually in their concoctions. Consumers Reports solved the mystery through a series of tests.
They found that 5-Hour Energy has 242 milligrams of caffeine, or about twice the amount found in a cup of coffee. A 24-ounce can of Monster has about 276 milligrams.
Caffeine’s Effect on the Brain
Receptors within the brain serve as a landing strip for adenosine, a neurotransmitter that would have you napping on your desk. When adenosine attaches to these receptors, your eyes get heavy and you’re ready to doze in your favorite chair.
Caffeine imitates adenosine in all but one important way. Caffeine lands on its receptors, effectively blocking adenosine from its sleep-inducing mission. Although caffeine is the same shape and size as adenosine, it doesn’t induce the same sluggish effects.
With the receptors satisfied, other chemicals take over to promote mental performance, including dopamine, glutamate and GABA.
Caffeine Isn’t Effective for Boosting Mental Performance
Caffeine doesn’t improve mental performance, according to a review of relevant studies. The researchers found that addiction explains the misperception that caffeine improves cognition. People who are addicted to caffeine experience a lull in mental prowess when denied their daily brew that is restored when caffeine is reintroduced. The bottom-line, your productivity won’t suffer if you kick the caffeine habit.
Better Way to Energy and Increased Performance
The best supplements for mental clarity can give you a natural boost in energy and performance without the jittery effects of excessive caffeine. In fact, Ultra Mind & Mood contains only 3 mg of caffeine. By comparison, energy drinks contain nearly 300 times that amount.
Purx Ultra Mind & Mood contains this trivial amount of caffeine due to an ingredient that is one of the best concentration supplements, guarana. But it isn’t the caffeine that makes guarana a powerful brain-boosting supplement.
Guarana combined with another ingredient in Purx Ultra Mind & Mood, ginseng, improves cognition, according to an English study. The researchers noted that the small amount of caffeine in the guarana used in the study cannot be attributed to its positive effects.
While caffeine merely tricks your brain’s receptors, the best supplements for mental clarity contained in Ultra Mind & Mood help increase the chemicals that do the real work. L-theanine has been shown to improve memory and concentration. GABA is an important amino acid that promotes the formation of synapses. L-tyrosine has been shown to increase mental performance.
With coffee shops outnumbered only by the variety of coffees they serve, it’s easy to become a caffeine junkie. As your tolerance for caffeine develops, you may be tempted to switch to energy drinks to get your fix. Instead, skip the caffeine’s fake burst of energy and take the best supplements for mental clarity found in Purx Ultra Mind & Mood. You’ll get genuine results without the jitteriness.
In the Hot Seat: Inflammation Blamed for Low Mood
If you or someone you love has heart disease or high blood pressure, you’ve probably heard about C-Reactive Protein (CRP). The telltale marker of inflammation, elevated CRP levels are associated with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The American Heart Association now recommends high-sensitivity CRP tests to gauge risks for heart attack, stroke and even diabetes. A new study indicates that elevated CRP levels also occur in people with low mood, leading some researchers to believe low mood is caused by inflammation. Meanwhile, mood-enhancing supplements have been shown to both reduce inflammation and improve mood.
C-Reactive Protein and Inflammation
In response to injury or illness, the immune system produces white blood cells called macrophages. These macrophages secrete cytokines, molecules that act as communicators within the immune system. These cytokines prompt the liver to produce C-reactive protein.
C-reactive protein attaches to pathogens. Once attached, C-reactive protein serves as a beacon to help white blood cells attack and kill the pathogen.
Unlike other cells of the immune system that hang around long after the infection is cleared, C-reactive protein disappears quickly once health is restored. For this reason, CRP tests are useful for detecting low-grade inflammation.
Inflammation’s Role in Low Mood
While inflammation has been suspiciously present in other studies on low mood, these studies did not attempt to link the two afflictions or were not large enough to be conclusive.
A recent Danish study attempted to decisively make the connection. Looking at data for 73,000 Danes, researchers compared levels of CRP with use of medications and hospitalizations for low mood.
The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that those whose C-reactive protein levels were above 3mg/L were more likely to take medication or be hospitalized for low mood. Those with elevated levels also reported reacting strongly to stress.
Incidentally, CRP levels above 3mg/L are also associated with a high risk for heart attack or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Common Causes of Chronic, Low-Grade Inflammation
While an obvious illness, like influenza, causes an acute, noticeable increase in inflammation, other causes result in low-grade inflammation that is less noticeable.
Obesity: A common cause of elevated C-reactive protein levels is obesity. Fat cells within the stomach secrete cytokines that in turn increase the formation of C-reactive protein, according to a paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Losing weight around the midsection has been shown to reduce CRP levels.
Oral Contraceptives: The tiny pill millions of women take daily can double their CRP levels. Galileo Pharmaceuticals tested 30 young women, all of whom were healthy and non-smokers. They found that the women taking birth control pills had double the amount of CRP in their blood than those not taking birth control pills.
Sleep deprivation: Late nights coupled with early mornings can also increase C-reactive protein. A 2004 study found that even short-term partial sleep loss increases inflammation.
Lower Inflammation with Mood-Enhancing Supplements
When stricken with sadness, it may be difficult to lose weight or get a good night’s sleep. Birth control pills are a necessary reality in many women’s lives. What else can you do to lower inflammation and rediscover your smile? Several mood-enhancing supplements have been shown to lower inflammation while also improving mood.
Vitamin B6: Reviewing data from 900 participants, researchers discovered that low B6 levels were associated with high CRP results. Another study investigating mood-enhancing vitamins found low B6 levels in elderly participants suffering from low mood.
Rhodiola Rosea: A 2012 study found that Rhodiola Rosea may effectively prevent anemia characterized by high CRP levels by reducing inflammation. Rhodiola Rosea improves mood, according to a 2007 study.
Asian Ginseng: A team of researchers discovered in 2006 that Ginseng lowered CRP levels in rats. Another group of researchers discovered that a compound in ginseng, ginsenoside Rb(1), effectively improves mood.
Science is catching up with traditional wisdom concerning the mind-body connection. It’s not surprising that many of the ingredients in Purx Ultra Mind & Mood have been shown in studies to lower inflammation. Supported by the foundation of Western science and guided by the wisdom of traditional therapies, Purx Ultra Mind & Mood
Surprising Reason Flu Shot is Less Effective for Seniors
Old age does not diminish immune system support as previously thought, but the flu vaccine may not target the strength inherent in a senior citizen’s immune system, according to a new study from McMaster University in Ontario.
Scientists have long pointed to signs of weakened immunity that were as auspicious of old age as bifocals and forgetfulness. Indeed, 90 percent of deaths attributed to the seasonal flu occur in the elderly. But exactly how the immune systems of the elderly respond to a new virus remained a mystery. Also puzzling was the tendency for the flu shot to be less effective for senior citizens. A study out of McMasters University in Canada may answer both of these questions.
Researchers tested the immune systems of young and old participants who had been naturally exposed to the West Nile Virus. Since the West Nile Virus arrived in North America in 1999, it was highly unlikely that older participants benefited from immune protection due to a previous infection. This allowed the researchers to test participants’ ability to develop immunity against new viruses.
The researchers discovered that elderly people had the same amount of virus-fighting T cells as the young adults, even six to nine months after infection. This study indicates that old age does not negatively influence the body’s ability to develop immunity against viruses.
In attempting to explain why the current flu vaccine is less effective for seniors, the researchers referenced a different study that tested immune response in monkeys. Older monkeys infected with a live virus generated an immune response similar to younger monkeys. However, when vaccinated with an inactive virus, older monkeys produced fewer viral-fighting T cells.
Researchers speculate that the immune response to an inactive virus is not as strong in the elderly, whether human or monkey, because cells are unable to recognize the dead pathogen. When seniors are exposed to the live virus, however, their T cells are just as feisty as those of their college-aged grandchildren.
The McMasters University study may help explain why the flu shot is less effective for seniors. Fueled by the inactive form of influenza, the current vaccine doesn’t adequately stimulate the immune systems of older adults. An Italian study supports this hypothesis when it found that flu vaccination did nothing to prevent flu-related deaths in the elderly.
Another study with surprising results may offer more guidance on how to prevent the flu and flu-related deaths among older people. It found that older adults who get the flu vaccine are 66 percent less likely to die before the flu even strikes. Since the vaccine cannot be credited with preventing mortality not associated with the flu, researchers wondered whether another factor might be responsible for the participants’ longevity.
What they found was the “healthy user” effect. The people who were vaccinated were already healthier than those who weren’t vaccinated. These healthy people routinely make healthier decisions. Although getting a flu shot was touted as a healthy choice, it was a healthy lifestyle, rather than the vaccine, that contributed to fewer flu-related deaths in this population.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests several lifestyle changes to bolster immunity and protect from illness, including the flu.
A healthy diet is paramount for mounting a defense against illness. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide the antioxidants and nutrients to balance the chemical processes within the body. Eliminating red meat will help decrease inflammation, which is a chronic, low-grade immune response. Drinking more water and eating more fiber will aid digestion, allowing more nutrients to enter your bloodstream and flushing toxins out.
Exercise is another excellent way to boost immunity. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a 20 or 30 minute walk is all it takes to bolster the T cell response.
Finally, the Cleveland Clinic suggests taking nutritional supplements for immune system support. Vitamins C and E are particularly important immune-boosting supplements. The Cleveland Clinic says that many Americans are deficient in these and other immune-boosting nutrients.
While the flu shot may not offer as much protection as expected, older Americans don’t need to fear viruses. Virus-fighting T cells are just as active in senior citizens as they are in young adults.
In fact, older adults may have a leg up on what really keeps people healthy. The wholesome food and exercise that was commonplace decades ago is still the best way to give the immune system support. And when the subpar, modern American diet isn’t enough to boost immunity, taking supplements for immune system support can fill the gap.