Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | December 4, 2010

Train Yourself for Good Health (November ’10)

Train Yourself for Good Health!                                

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence”  ~William Jennings Bryan  

Want to wish you a healthy and happy thanksgiving. Can you believe it’s that time of year again? It seemed like summer was yesterday and before you know it, it will be the New Year.  

Now that cooler days pervade and daylight hours diminish, it’s a harbinger of the coming festive season. With the festive season comes the yearly food-fest, and the temptations to consume more is greater. Still, if we consume healthy foods on a regular basis, being derailed a few times over the holidays should not be a problem. One key to sate our appetite and consume less is masticating or chewing our food thoroughly. In our fast paced lives, taking time to chew our food is put on the back burner and as result we consume more, leading to weight gain and digestive disorders. This month’s article looks at chewing.

                     Train Yourself for Good Health  

I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life. -William Gladstone  

But before we get to chewing, the key to staying healthy over the holidays and the rest of the year is consuming whole, unprocessed foods on a regular basis – ideally organic or locally grown. As much as possible, avoid processed, packaged food. But if you do purchase packaged foods, read my previous newsletter on understanding nutritional labels. As I have noted before, “never, ever, believe anything on the front of any packaged food product- ever!” You must read the “Nutrition Facts Label” and the “Ingredients List.”  

If we consume meats and dairy (e.g. milk, butter), these products should be organic and pasture-fed, as there are more pesticides and other deleterious ingredients in non-organic meats and dairy, than fruits and vegetables. The following offers healthier choices:  

Pastured Meats:

Pastured Poultry & Eggs:

Fish:

You may be able to buy these foods at your local farmers markets. So check them out.  

Another good place to buy these and other products (fruits and vegetables) is at your local Trader Joes. They have good prices and selections to choose from.  

Furthermore, during the holidays, there are more temptations and vices floating around. The key is moderation and not feeling guilty about having that dessert or scrumptious chocolate cake. Don’t beat yourself up. 

Say, “Okay, I had that dessert – I enjoyed it – and move on.” Tomorrow I get back on track with my healthy eating patterns. Ideally if you want something sweet, eat the healthiest choice available. The worst thing you can do is feeling guilty about your choices – you have not committed a crime! The bottom line is to eat the healthiest choices available and enjoy it – no guilt involved. Enjoy!  

Remember the Sound of a Train, “Choo, Choo, Chew” Your Food!  

When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat, but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted-working, reading, talking, and watching television-and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.  

There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food. Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets. Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food. More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings. It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full. In fact, chewing can promote healing and circulation, enhances immunity, increase energy and endurance, improve skin health and stabilize weight.  

The power of chewing is so great that there are stories of concentration camp survivors who, when others could not, made it through with very little food, by chewing their meager rations up to 300 times per bite of food. For most of us 300 chews is a daunting and unrealistic goal. However, you can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel.  

Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It helps us to give thanks, to show appreciation for the abundance in our lives and to develop patience and self-control. Try eating without the TV, computer, newspaper, or noisy company. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing.  

This kind of quiet can be disconcerting at first, since we are used to a steady stream of advertising, news, media, email, and demands from others. But as you create a new habit, you will begin to appreciate eating without rushing. You have to eat every day-why not learn to savor and enjoy it?   

In addition to chewing your food thoroughly and aiding digestion, I recommend not drinking liquids while eating, though dark red wine (organic) is an exception, as it contains digestive enzymes. Liquids dilute stomach acids and interfere with the digestion process. Furthermore, digestive enzymes secreted in the mouth in saliva are washed away with liquids, which are needed to break down food.  By forgoing liquids, and chewing thoroughly, makes it easier for food to be digested and assimilated in the body. Leading to consuming less and feeling sated.  So train your mind to choo, chew your food, and your body will thank you for it. Have a great, safe and guilt-free holiday. 

Recipe  

Brown Basmati Pilaf

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings      

Ingredients:

1 cup brown basmati rice

2 cups of water

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1/2 cup of walnut pieces

1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

pinch of salt  

Directions:

1.  Rinse rice in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.

2.  Boil the water and add rice and salt, cover and reduce heat.

3.  After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top, do not stir.

4.  Cook 15-25 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.

5.  Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let set for 3-5 minutes and serve.

Advertisements
Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | December 4, 2010

How to Get a Good Nights Sleep (October ’10)

             How To Get a Good Nights Sleep!

 O bed! O bed! delicious bed! That heaven upon earth to the weary head
~Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg – Her Dream 

The original Roman year had 10 named months – October being the eight month. The Latin octo,”eight” + ber – the Latin of October means, October mensis, “eight month”. During October, leaves transform their color to a variety of hues: red, scarlet, purple, burgundy, orange, and yellow, before plummeting to earth and laying to rest. With October, days get shorter as cooler and lightless days pervade. For children, there is Halloween to celebrate with pumpkins and trick or treat.

As daylight diminishes, darkness encroaches more on our daily lives. Incidentally to be healthy, we need the balance of darkness and brightness in our life – brightness by day from the sun, and darkness at night for restful sleep. This month’s newsletter looks at the topic of sleep.    

                     How To Get a Good Nights Sleep  

“[S]leep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”  ~Thomas Dekker  

Good health is an assembled jigsaw puzzle. Matching the pieces brings one into wholeness: physically, mentally and spiritually. We are well aware of these matching pieces, such as eating healthy, regular exercise, destressing our life and connecting to our soul or spiritual body. These are relevant to our well being and overall health.  

Still, we can enhance them further by adding restful sleep. In our fast paced world with longer work hours, stress, we cram as much as possible into our daily routine, surviving on a meager amount of sleep. Many skimpier on sleep by using caffeine or other stimulants to keep them up, but eventually pay a price through ill health or low energy levels. Invariably, life is about balance – there’s a time to be productive and a time to rest. 

Some ill-effects of impaired or interrupted sleep:

  • It dramatically weakens the immune system
  • It accelerates tumor growth; it’s been found in lab animal tests that tumors grow two to three times faster from severe sleep dysfunctions.
  • It can cause a pre-diabetic state, making one hungry even when they have already eaten, causing weight gain.
  • It seriously impairs memory. It been found that a single night of poor sleep (4-6 hours), can impact ones ability to think clearly the next day.
  • Furthermore, impairing performance to physical or mental tasks, and decreasing problem-solving abilities.
  • Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by the pituitary gland during deep sleep. Growth hormones help one look and feel younger.

When our circadian rhythms are disrupted, the body produces less melatonin (a hormone and an antioxidant) with less ability to fight cancer, since melatonin helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is why tumors grow faster when we sleep poorly.  

When to Sleep

Ideally we should be sleeping by 10PM. At 10 P.M. the liver kicks in to detoxify us, and it produces:  

1) Glutathione Peroxidase

2) Enzymes

3) Free radical scavenger agents to detoxify and prepare ourselves for the next day.  

It’s as if at 10 P.M. the janitor comes in to get us ready for the next day – if we eat late this process cannot happen. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is when the body is supposed to burn fat. If we eat late in the evening, we burn sugar into the night, we never reset that metabolism.  We never reset stability and wake up unstable.  

In traditional cultures, they go to sleep after the sun sets, and get up when the sun rises. They get more sleep in the winter in the resting time of the year, and less in the summer.  

Recommendations For a Good Night’s Sleep 

  • No food within 3 hours of going to bed. However, by eating a high protein snack several hours before bed, provides L-tryptophan needed for melatonin and serotonin production. By eating a small piece of fruit can help tryptophan cross the blood brain barrier.
  • No caffeine or stimulants within 5 hours of going to bed.
  • No alcohol before bed.
  • Not to sleep within 6 feet of an electrical appliance; clock, radio,TV, computer, because that is throwing off an electromagnetic pulse, which interferes with the pineal gland that secretes melatonin.
  • Using cell phones during the day adversely affects the pineal gland. If you are going to use a cell phone, use it with a safety guard that draws in the electromagnetic pulses. Which prevent the electromagnetic impulses going into the ear and over-stimulating the pineal gland, adversely affecting melatonin?
  • Make sure the room is pitch black with no light coming in. If not, wear an eye mask. If there is light coming in, the body perceives that it is still daytime and you won’t get that deep sleep that one needs. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. If it is too noisy, wear comfortable ear plugs.
  • Also, the TV should be taken out of the bedroom as watching television in bed is over stimulating to the mind. TV disrupts pineal gland function.
  • Keep bedroom temperature at no higher than 70 degrees F. Ideal room temperature should be between 60 to 68 degrees F.
  • Don’t change your bedtime. Go to bed and wake up the same time everyday, even on weekends. This helps the body get into a sleep rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep and getting up in the morning.
  • Put your work away one to two hours before bedtime, which gives your mind time to unwind, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • Meditate or pray to help relax and calm the mind.
  • Sprinkle some Lavender oil on your pillow, it has a calming effect.
  • Read a spiritual or uplifting book, not something stimulating or a mystery or suspense novel.  

Supplements to aid with sleep: 

  • Taking 1-3 mg of Melatonin at night an hour before bed, and 200 mg of Theanine, will calm you down and aid in a good nights sleep.
  • One can also use one of melatonin’s precursors, L-tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
  • Herbs that relax the body include Valerian (300-500mg-in capsule) or Passion Flower.    

Additionally, regular exercise aids in getting a good night sleep. Ideally we need 6-8 hours sleep a night, and should strive to get it.  

Lack of restful sleep accelerates aging and restful sleep accelerates healing, minimizing entropy, and enlivens renewal.  Which means, sleep without the use of drugs, alcohol which is not real sleep.

Sleep and Stress 

Sleep is one of the ways that the body metabolizes stress hormones better than anything else. The stress hormones are cortisol and epinephrine primarily. Sleep allows the body to restore itself. If you are sleep deprived, you are running on empty, and stress hormones are raised. As a result of high cortisol levels, insulin levels are raised and that results in carbohydrate cravings and fat accumulations around the middle of the body, eventually leading to weight gain or health issues. In that sense, one of the best ways of diffusing stress hormones is deep, restful sleep. 

To conclude, this is another piece of the wholeness puzzle and journey to well-being. Through healthy eating, regular exercise, controlling stress in our life, a spiritual connection and regular sleep, contributes to a balanced mind, body and spirit.

Recipe  

Sweet Vegetables  

Beet-Carrot-Parsnip-Fennel Extravaganza  

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings  

Ingredients:

3 big carrots

5 small beets

2 parsnips

1 fennel bulb

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt  

Directions:

      1.  Scrub all the vegetables.

      2.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

      3.  Chop vegetables into two-inch pieces and chop fennel bulb finely.

      4.  Mix vegetables with oil and sea salt. Transfer to a baking sheet/dish.

      5.  Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | December 3, 2010

Bolstering the Immune System (September ’10)

               Bolstering the Immune System  

 By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, With summer’s best of weather, And autumn’s best of cheer.”
– Helen Hunt
Jackson, September, 1830-1885            

As we enter the final days of summer, hotter days are on the decline, and cool-fall-days lie ahead. It won’t be long before nature sheds her mortal coil, exposing her leaveless limbs. Before we know it, Thanksgiving and the Holidays will be upon us, as we enter another winter. Some early predictions for the coming winter indicate, a milder winter in the east and south, but the pacific North West won’t have it so.  

But the Farmers Almanac gives a slightly different perspective.   

Alas, its early days yet, so let’s enjoy the nature-fall.  

               Important:Information on this  years Flu-Vaccines!  

Now that vacations are over, September ushers in a new school year – time to hit the books. Fall means flu-season is around the corner, and flu-shots not far behind. If you are debating about getting a flu-shot, you can read my newsletter from last year,” To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate – that is the Question.”  

Important: this year’s flu-vaccine is a combination of the flu-vaccine and H1N1 vaccine (swine flu vaccine) – you won’t have a choice in getting one or the other. 

For more information on vaccines, visit the National Vaccine Information Center and read their updated, “Vaccine Ingredient Calculator”. (Watch the video on how to use it).  

Could this be a Prelude for this year’s Flu-vaccine?  

A recent news-article from Australia where winter has ended and flu-season is winding down, notes they halted vaccinations (Fluvax) because of adverse side-effects to children, such as: convulsions, febrile seizures, vomiting and fevers.

A snippet from a Reuters article about the shipment of vaccines for the US market noted,  

“And U.S. officials said they were changing the labeling on a vaccine made by Australia’s CSL Ltd (CSL.AX) because it appears to have caused a higher than usual rate of seizures in children.”

Furthermore, the CDC is recommending that everybody be vaccinated for this year’s flu-season.  

The bottom line on vaccinations is to inform, and educate yourself. Then, you can make the best choice possible.  

So how can we protect ourselves against the coming flu-season and health in general? The key is to strengthen our immune system.  

Recipe of the Month:  

Maple Fruit Compote with Honey-Ginger Toasted Nuts

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4                                                                                                

Ingredients:

2-3 apples

2-3 peaches or pears

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup raisins

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup walnuts, or nuts of your choice

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

2 tablespoons honey  

Directions:

1. Wash, core and chop fruit into slices or chunks.                                 

2. Place in a large saucepan with 1/3 cup of water. Add the maple syrup and raisins.  

3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

4. Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook for another 10 minutes, until soft.

5. While fruit is cooking, place chopped nuts in a skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often for 5 minutes.

6. Drizzle honey over the nuts and add ginger, but keep stirring since the honey can easily burn.

7. Top warm fruit with toasted nuts and enjoy!

                      Bolstering the Immune System!                    

Good humor is a tonic for the mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burden. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment. -Grenville Kleiser                                                           

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine  

In preparing for cooler days and the coming flu-season, it would be prudent to bolster the immune system. Needless-to-say, having a strong immune system is our best defense against viruses, bacteria and pathogens. Ideally we should not wait to get sick to strengthen the immune system, but take steps on a daily basis. This month’s newsletter looks at natural ways to support the immune system. 

What Weakens the Immune System?  

To strengthen the immune system, not just for flu-season but overall health, entails making healthy lifestyle choices in regards to nutrition, sleep, exercise, and dealing with stress constructively.  

However, before we look at ways to strengthen the immune system, let’s look at what weakens it. The following contributing factors impair the immune system:  

  • Eating a unhealthy diet (of processed and refined foods), especially:
  • Refined sugars (severely compromises the immune system). 
  • Vitamin D deficiency (many people are deficient)
  • Mishandling emotional stress
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Lack of exercise
  • Or any combination of the above  

Most of us are aware of these, so it is important to give them the attention they deserve. As we move into cooler months, when colds and flu’s are prevalent, it’s incumbent on us to bolster our immune systems.  

Vitamin D the Super Immune Booster  

One of the best ways of strengthening the immune system is with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.  

Unfortunately by winter, most people’s Vitamin D levels have dropped significantly and are deficient. Our best source of Vitamin D comes from direct sunlight. However, this is not practical during bleak winter days. An alternative way of getting Vitamin D-3is oral supplementation. In order to prevent colds and flu’s, an adult typically needs on average, 5000iu daily. Since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, taking too much can be toxic, which is why you should check your levels. The Vitamin D test is called the 25 hydroxy D test. Optimal levels are 50-70 ng/ml.  

Nutritional support for the Immune System  

  • Eating a healthy diet of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Consuming healthy proteins: pastured eggs, organic chicken or wild salmon, beans.
  • Essential fatty acids (Omega -3’s): Krill oil, fish oil, Flax seed oil.
  • Coconut oil
  • Mushrooms, especially Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake, which contain beta glucans (which have immune-enhancing properties)
  • Garlic, a potent antimicrobial that kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Herbs and spices with high ORAC scores: Turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, cloves. 
  • Fermented foods such as kefir, kimchee, miso, pickles, sauerkraut,etc.   

Lifestyle Choices  

As noted in last months newsletter, drinking plenty of fresh, clean water is essential for optimal function of every system in the body, in addition to:

  • Getting plenty of restorative sleep is needed to prevent viruses from taking over the body.
  • Incorporating daily exercise creates resistance to illness. It is been found that moderate levels of exercise, reduce your risk for respiratory illness by boosting the immune system.
  • Laughter helps you cope with stress, relieve tension, and boost your   immune system.  

Finally there are emotional stressors, which can predispose one to infection. Dealing with life stresses and unpredictability in a constructive way, lessens the strain on the immune system.  

By incorporating these lifestyle choices, bolsters ones immune system – there is less likelihood of getting sick, or ill. As the old adage goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.”   

       Natural Products  to Boost the Immune System  

                                                       Greg Ciola   

The Immune system is composed of 22 different components.  

  • T- Cells
  • B- Cells
  • Natural Killer cells ( NK cells )
  • Macrophages
  • Lymphocytes
  • Leukocytes
  • Monocytes
  • Interferon
  • Gamma Globulin
  • Interleukin 1,2,3,4
  • Other White Cells  

All of these must be orchestrated like a symphony in order to maintain optimum immunity. The only thing that protects us from infections, viruses and other chronic illnesses is our immune system. We can’t build immunity and shield the immune system with vaccines and poisonous pharmaceutical drugs. We can only modulate the immune system through natural methods.  

It is incumbent on us to keep it as strong as possible and the following list, are some of the most powerful and effective natural enhancer for the immune system used in alternative medicine.

Oregano oil

It has been used for thousands of years as an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic. Good for colds and flu.

Colostrum

This is the first fluid secreted by the mammary glands of mammalian mothers in the first days after giving birth- It contains high levels of protein and growth factors, as well as immune factors. It is one of the most powerful immune boosters in the world. The best Colostrum comes from New Zealand cows.

Olive Leaf Extract

This fights all types of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites and is good for virtually all infections and diseases.

Propolis  

This resinous substance which bees derive from trees and mix it with beeswax – It is used as a health shield for the beehive, and has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic properties. It has been used for thousands of years as an immune booster.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

This contains citricidal, a natural compound synthesized from the seed and pulp of grapefruit. This product has been proven highly effective in protecting the body during cold and flu season.

Colloidal Silver

This product has been around for centuries and is reported to be one of the few things that protected people during the height of the Bubonic plague.

Royal jelly

It is fed only to queen bees and contains over 100 nutritional properties and has long been know to strengthen the immune system.

Bee Pollen

Plant pollen that bees harvest and predigest — Excellent for people with allergies and also strengthens the immune system.

Aloe Vera

This product contains high amounts of mucopolysaccharides, which kicks in the immune modulators to fight disease.

Homeopathic Remedies

There are some excellent homeopathic remedies that help build immunity and ward off the cold and flu, which can be found at your local health food store, or seek out a homeopathic specialist in your area to custom blend formulas specifically targeted to your immune system.

Mushroom extracts 

(Shitake, Reishi, D-fraction maitake) These have excellent immune boosting properties. Shitake increases T-Cell function, Reishi has anti-tumor properties, and Maitake enhances the activity of key immune cells known as T-helper cells or CD4 cells.

Echinacea

It is an excellent herb for the immune system and the lymphatic system, and has been shown to be very effective when it is cycled for one to two week periods throughout the cold and flu season. Early use of Echinacea at the onset of a cold or flu could help drastically diminish the duration and severity of illness.

Vitamin C

Helps prevent free radical damage and has antifungal and astringent properties. High doses of Vitamin C throughout the cold and flu season can help tremendously, to ward off infection.

Garlic

Has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic properties and has long been used to fight off and prevent cold and infections. Use three to four cloves on a salad or crushed onto bread, when your immune system is in a weakened state.

Cayenne Pepper

It is used for a litany of health problems – Cayenne pepper heats up the body, improves circulation and helps ward off colds, sinus infections, and sore throats. It should be used daily during the cold and flu season.

Probiotics

Help to maintain and rebuild intestinal flora. Flora plays a key role in keeping the immune system functioning optimally.

Essential Fatty acids

Good fats like omega- 3s and omega-6 play a major role in cellular health. Good fats also help to bring nutrients into the cell and discard waste. EFA’s also contain high amounts of antioxidants which help to protect your immune system.

Oxygen Supplements

Virtually all microorganisms are anaerobic, meaning they survive predominantly in the absence of oxygen. When the body’s blood oxygen is normal and the cells have adequate oxygen it is nearly impossible to get sick. There are many good products to choose from than can be added as drops to your water.

Essential oils

There are many essential oils like Frankincense, Myrrh, Spikenard, Rose oil, Thieves ™, and others that provide tremendous immune system protection. They have been used for thousand of years (often noted in the Bible). They can be diffused through aromatherapy or applied to your skin and feet.

Zinc

Is essential mineral that promotes healthy immune system and fights free radicals? Zinc lozenges haven been reported to be effective in reliving symptoms of the common cold and reducing the duration of colds.

Water

Water is very important to keep your body properly hydrated, and be sure to consume significant amounts of water to adequate flush out toxins and hydrate your cells.

Rest

It is important not to get run down during the cold and flu season and to get at least six to eight hours of quality sleep at night.

Overall

All of these immune boosting products can help you tremendously, but a healthy diet and regular exercise cannot be overstated. You can’t eat an unhealthy diet, and expect these remedies to be effective. Sugar and sweets should be avoided at all costs, especially during the cold and flu season, as sugar severely weakens the immune system and is the fuel that foreign invaders feed on.

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | August 15, 2010

Staying Hydrated for Summer (August ’10)

               Staying Hydrated for Summer

                                    “Our bodies are molded rivers
                                                      –Novalis

As the summer of 2010 rolls on, it won’t be long before it is a fleeting memory — so let’s make the most of it. Summer, is a time of warmth and brightness; a time to reconnect with nature and ourselves. Life can be a beach — ever moment — being present. However, before this evanescent moment passes, let’s slow down and take time to smell the roses.

As the dogs days of summer (Sirius) and simmering temperatures of august abound, it’s important to stay hydrated. The best way is drink plenty of fluids, especially water. But which type of water should we consume: tap water, bottled water, filtered water.                                

                                Staying Hydrated for Summer

Now that we are at the peak of the summer season, one should be fastidious in their liquid consumption to prevent dehydration — the best source being water. Ideally it should be clean, from a safe source, with a pleasant taste. Of the different sources available, bottled water has taken on a life of it own. The bottled water fad has grown exponentially since its inception. Bottled water, a $22-billion industry, is the fastest growing beverage industry in the world. Close to half of the U.S. population drinks bottled water on a regular basis, despite the fact that it can be up to 2,000 times more expensive than tap water. Nevertheless, is bottled water the way to go, or are there other alternatives? H2O  

Water H2O  

Since the body is about 60% water, water is a key component to well-being. It is something we need on a daily basis. Furthermore, it is one of the most effective ways to remove toxins from the body, which includes emotional toxins.  

Some water percentages pertaining to the body:

  • A newborn baby is 80% water
  • As we grow older 55 to 60% of our body is water
  • 83% of our blood is water
  • 97% of our urine is water
  • 75% of our muscles are water
  • 80% of our eyes are water
  • 80% of our brain is water
  • 20% of our bones are water
  • 6 trillion reactions take place every second in the body, which are all the water dependent
  • Our body makes eight liters of digestive juices daily and 3 liters of water remains in circulation
  • 15 liters of water crosses cell membranes daily
  • 180 liters of water are filtered every day by the kidneys and only one to two liters are excreted as urine.  

A lot of diseases such as senility are dehydration of the brain. Many times what we call stomach problems: indigestion, ulcers, reflux esophagitis, is dehydration of the stomach lining. If one does not constantly having a moist pink tongue, and fresh breath, they’re not drinking enough water.

Drinking enough water is vital for good health. It’s best to sip water throughout the day, rather than consuming large quantities at once. If you drink a quart of water at a time, most of the water will pass through your body before you’re able to use it. So sip it slowly throughout the day, rather than gulping it down.

The recommended daily consumption of water is eight to 10 glasses, or whatever your body-weight is in pounds divided in half, and that’s the number of ounces. If you weighed 140lbs, half of that is 70lbs = to 70 oz of water a day, or 8 ¾ cups of water.  

Personally, I would pay attention to your body’s needs, and not hold rigidly to the above formula. Also, it will depend on the time of year, and if you are exercising which require more. As noted in the article by Dr Ben Kim, drinking too much water can be fatal. Listen to your body, it never lies.  

                        Different Types of Water  

“Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward
-George Carlin

When it comes to the water we consume, there are different options: tap water, filtered water, bottled water. Before bottled water became a fad, most people consumed tap water or filtered water.  

Bottled Water  

About twenty five years ago, soft drink manufactures saw their sales decline, and needed a product to revive them. Bottle water was their saving grace. This was the beginning of the bottled water industry. Bottled water is less regulated that tap water. It can cost up to two thousand times more that tap water, not to mention the environmental impact; manufacturing and transporting bottled water, and disposing the empty bottles. People in the US buy about a half a billion bottles of water a week, enough bottles to circle the globe 5 times.  

Looking at the labels on bottled water, one finds mountain streams, tropical paradises or images of nature. One may think their bottled water originated from some pristine source; however, one third of bottled water is tap water. An 18-month study done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on bottled water companies, noted only 2% of the companies were reluctant to disclose their water source and treatment methods used.

Similarly, a test done by the Environmental Working Group found 38 low-level contaminants in bottled water. Each of the 10 tested brands contained an average of eight chemicals, such as disinfection byproducts (DBPs), caffeine, Tylenol, nitrate, industrial chemicals, arsenic, and bacteria were detected.

The Problem of Plastic Bottles  

Another problem with bottled water is plastic bottles. First, there is the used resources and energy expended to make them. Then, there is the problem of when the water was bottled, to the time you drink it. It could be sitting in a hot warehouse for months, on a delivery truck, store shelves, or other areas, which can leach out chemicals leading to certain type of cancer.  

Bisphenol-A (BPA)  

One of the major concerns with plastic bottles, especially those colorful hard plastic Lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, is that they leach Bisphenol-A into the water.  Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancers in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.  

For BPA-free bottles click here.  One of the best containers for water is a glass bottle, except they are prone to breaking if dropped. I would avoid aluminum, but stainless steel, low-nickel-content is okay.  

The Case against Bottled Water  

Overall, it is best to avoid bottled water completely for the following reasons:

  • Costing up to 1900 more that tap water, is overpriced.
  • The industry is not well regulated, and water may not be safe.
  • The environmental impact of making plastic bottles — 26 billion bottles made yearly, which require 17 million barrels of oil and in turn release 2.5 millions tons of carbon dioxide with 86% of them ending up as garbage.
  • The safety concern of plastic bottles.  

Recommendations

Ideally we should pass on bottled water, in addition to distilled water which if consumed long-term, can drain the body of necessary minerals. So what is left is tap water. Unfortunately tap water is not safe, because it is filled with contaminants, some from pollution.

Then there are chemicals added to disinfect the water such as chlorine. During this process disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are formed, when chlorine reacts with natural organic matter like decaying vegetation in the water, during treatment. One such (DBP’s) are trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) and are classified as Cancer Group B carcinogens, meaning they’ve been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. They’ve also been linked to reproductive problems in both animals and humans, and human studies suggest that a lifetime consumption of chlorine-treated water can more than double the risk of bladder and rectal cancers in certain individuals.

Another insidious chemical added to the water supply is fluoride. Mostly touted for teeth protection in children, fluoride can cause brain, thyroid, kidneys and bone damage. The interview with Dr Paul Connet below goes into greater detail about the dangers of fluoridation.  Incidentially, the United States is only one of eight countries in the entire developed world that fluoridates more than 50 percent of its water supply. (The others are: Australia, Colombia, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.)

10 Facts about Fluoride

So tap water should also be avoided for the deleterious ingredients in it and added to it. For these reasons, our best and safest way to go is filtered water.

Filtered Water  

Personally, I believe that filtered water is the way to go. No lugging around cases of bottled waters, plus the significant cost-saving over time. Not having to worry about chemicals leaching out of plastic bottles, or impacting the environment — or drinking unhealthy tap water.

Having a good water filtration system is best. Most water filtration system like Brita or Culligan are not worth it. For one, if you live in New York City there is a lot of sediment in the water and after two or three weeks the filters clog. This is a basic filtering system. A set of filters can cost about $30, and the cost adds up quickly, if they clog. Additionally, they do not filter fluoride.  

Recommendation  

I recommend a high-quality countertop water filtering system. I use a countertop three-stage water filtering system. It contains three inline filters. The triple-cartridge countertop filter uses a special cartridge that removes fluoride from the water and a Doulton Sterasyl ceramic filter to remove sediment, bacteria and cysts. The third cartridge is a 12,000 gallon capacity KDF/GAC filter for chlorine removal. At $300 it may seem expensive, but the long term saving are worth it. Considering the average American spends $400 a year on bottled water.  

The fluoride and KDF/GAC filters last about 2 to 3 years. The Doulton Sterasy ceramic filter can last up to two years, depending how much it is cleaned. Note: the fluoride and KDF/GAC filters do not need to be cleaned, only replaced when needed. In my case, because of the sediment in the water, I clean it once a week, it lasts about two years. It is easy to connect. Just connect the adapter to the sink spout. On the adaptor there is a lever to move so you can divert the water through the water filter system or from the spout itself. The water has a pleasant taste.  

I recommend using filtered water for all your drinking and cooking needs. A high-quality countertop model gives you healthy, filtered water for an affordable price and with the least amount of hassle.  

Furthermore, it would be advisable to install a shower filter, since the skin is the largest organ in the body, and water is absorbed through the pores. These filters cost around $30 to $50.  

Conclusion  

It is best to filter your water, cost-wise, protecting the environment and is cleaner and safer. Buy a safe storage container, and bring it with you where ever you go, and sip regularly.  

If the taste of plain water is unappealing, experiment to see how you can make it tasty and drinkable. Try adding a few mint leaves, a wedge of lemon, a sprig of parsley, slices of cucumber, a twist of lime or a squeeze of orange to make water more tempting. By flavoring water naturally, makes it more palatable and a greater incentive to drink more of it.  Also, drinking tea or juice and eating raw fruits and vegetables contribute to the hydration process.  

So, splash in the waves, swim in the sun, drink plenty of water and enjoy summer fun!   

Warning: This Daily Habit is Damaging Your Bones, Brain, Kidneys, and Thyroid

                                                 Dr Mercola

 Is Water Fluoridation Really in the Best Interest of Public Health?

As you may know, the theory behind the introduction of fluoride in your water supply initially seems beneficial – to reduce the incidence of dental caries in children.

However, the health dangers of fluoride are so numerous; they far outweigh any potential benefit to your teeth.

“First of all, water fluoridation is very bad medicine,” Dr. Connett says, “because once you put it in the water, you can’t control the dose. You can’t control who gets it. There is no oversight. You’re allowing a community to do to everyone what a doctor can do to no one, i.e. force a patient to take a particular medication.”

Secondly, it’s both unnecessary and avoidable. Read more…            

             Drinking Too Much Water Is Dangerous

                                               Dr Ben Kim

Whenever you disregard your sense of thirst and strive to ingest several glasses of water a day just because you have been told that doing so is good for your health, you actually put unnecessary strain on your body in two major ways:

1)     Ingesting more water than you need can increase your total blood volume. And since your blood volume exists within a closed system – your blood circulatory system – needlessly increasing your blood volume on a regular basis puts unnecessary burden on your heart and blood vessels.

2)     Your kidneys must work overtime to filter excess water out of your blood circulatory system. Your kidneys are not the equivalent of a pair of plumbing pipes whereby the more water you flush through your kidneys, the cleaner they become; rather, the filtration system that exists in your kidneys is composed in part by a series of specialized capillary beds called glomeruli. Your glomeruli can get damaged by unnecessary wear and tear over time, and drowning your system with large amounts of water is one of many potential causes of said damage. Read more…

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | July 11, 2010

The Ego and Consciousness (July ’10)

              Gnothi Seauton “Know Thyself”

“Knowing other is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu  

This month finishes up our journey to well-being we began in January. It is the second part of understanding the inner self: the ego and consciousness. Reflecting and contemplating on it, gives a better perspective of who we are, and are not. By disidentifying with the body/mind, reveals the authentic Self.  

Therefore, this month we mine deeper through layers of physical matter to our core, the bedrock of our being — our essence, formless consciousness (spirit).   

To find our essence, we must travel upstream to the well-spring of Being — to the source. Only by “knowing yourself” and answering the fundamental question, “Who AM I”, can you solve the puzzle. To answer this question goes beyond the noetic or intellect. It transcends the mind.    

                                 Death and Rebirth  

               “The Unexamined life is not worth living”   – Socrates  

Until the caterpillar dies the butterfly cannot be born. Shedding its carcass [the caterpillar] the non-Self, allows the real-Self [the butterfly] emerge. This is the Unmanifested, the ineffable, which cannot be named or spoken, emanating into the Manifest (the Self) entering the world. It is the emerging consciousness, consciousness no longer lost in form as the body/mind — but consciousness becoming conscious of itself.  

It is the awakening of the real-Self — moving beyond impermanence of the seasonal food-body, which changes with time. When you awaken, you transcend time, the world and body. You realize, life, people and events are transient — they come and go. But that, which is eternal, has no beginning or ending, it just IS.  

Siddhartha Gautama, is better know by the title “Buddha”. The word “Buddha” means, “the One who is awake” or “the awakend One”. Having awoken to the realization of the impermanence of life and that the mind was dukkha or suffering, he became enlightened. We may not attain enlightenment like the Buddha, but the capacity is there to awaken. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the realization that you are not the body or mind.  

The real you is beyond the body and mind. It is effulgence, beauty and love. To find that hidden gem entails stripping away layers of falsehoods and illusions. Become an alchemist and convert base-metal into gold, non-self to Self. This is the rebirth of being, a Human Being. This is to Know Thyself!  

The Experience and the Experiencer  

To know yourself, not the mind-made self or reflection in the mirror, but the Self beyond the body-mind axis, is one of life’s most important questions. Imagine traveling the journey of life and never knowing, “who is the individual or traveler, experiencing life”, believing it is the body/mind (the individual), or reflection in the mirror. But here is the rub; the body/mind is not real, the real experiencer is beyond that — it is the Unchanging Observer or Silent Witness. Yes, we need the body/mind to allow the experience to unfold, a vehicle for consciousness to enter the world. Our task allotted, is to find the experiencer.                                    

                                    “If I can see it — I can’t be it”  

Imagine a dream (the world) and you are participating in the experience of the dream — you don’t realize you are dreaming, as you are part of it. Your purpose is to wake up in the dream, in this case the world — not as a body/mind (the dreamer), but as the consciousness behind it — the silent witness of the dream, who is observing the dream?  

The World Unfolds through Us  

Another thing to remember which is hard to grasp is that the world does not happen outside of us, or is an external event. The world happens from within – the world unfolds from us as a spider’s emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and is withdrawn in of itself. As noted by this Ayurvedic poem:  

 “I am not in the world; the world is in me, I am not in the body the body is in me, I am not in the mind the mind is in me”. The mind, the body and the world, they happen to me, as I curve back within myself, and I create again and again.”   

I create the mind; I create the body, and the experience of the physical world. The world out there, what seems to be out there, it exists in me? My body which I look at through my senses exists in me, my mind exists in me.  

So the crucial question is, “who is this me” that contains the mind, body, and the whole universe.  Or more importantly who “Am I.” This month’s newsletter addresses this question as we seek the quarry — the who “Am I.” The paradox is that the answer is concealed within the question.                            

                      Gnothi Seauton “Know Thyself”  

  “This above all: to thine own self be true”  – William Shakespeare  

The words, “Gnothi Seauton”, were inscribed above the temple of Apollo at Delphi, in ancient Greece. People visited the sacred Oracle for questions about their life, e.g. what their destiny holds, or how to deal with life’s situations. But those words, “Know Thyself”, point to a deeper question — the most important question you will ever ask, “Who Am I”.  

The Tapestry of Life  

Finding the answer to that question gives you a new vantage point on life. You realize you are a thread in the tapestry of life, the world. Each person has a purpose for their existence. The world unfolds from within, as we stamp our mark on humanity.  When we expire, our loss is as great as a Gandhi or Mother Teresa, as the imperfection of that missing threads shows.  

Most people skim the surface of life, as a surfer skims the sea. Some days its calm, and other days a tempest in a teapot — but deep down, it’s always placid. These are the depths of our being we need to explore to get answers. To do so, we move beyond the mind-made self, conditioned by the past as discussed in last month’s newsletter (Part 1).  

In (Part 2) we look at the ego and consciousness. We mine deeper into our being, through the core of the mind-made self, reaching the Holy Grail.  

Getting Lost in Words  

However, before we delve further, a few points to remember. What we’re looking for cannot be put into words, as our essence is beyond words — it cannot be intellectualized or thought about. The mind is good for understanding facts and information, and wants to make something out of nothing. The mind says,” what is nothing”, let me think about it. It wants to make a thing out of no-thing.  

Words are merely guide-post, directing us where we need to go. Additionally, words are blocks of “characters”, woven together in different combinations, enabling us communicate, whether through language as sounds from the vocal cords (vowels and consonances), or written. They are not essence, just thought forms and concepts. What we are looking for is bereft of words. So let’s not get caught up in them, but merely use them to guide us on our journey.  

The Mind-made Self  

To find out who Am I, we must expose that which I am not. One of the greatest impediments to finding our self is getting entangled and deceived by the mind. Our mind has been conditioned by the past and inculcated by others: family, peers, teachers, culture and environment.  

But most of those thoughts are not ours. They float around in the mental atmosphere, are picked up by us; regurgitated as, “I think or I know — or I am this or I am that.” In the mean time, we lose connection with the authentic self. The problem is, being consumed with incessant thinking, deceives us into thinking we are the thinker. But the thinker is an imposter. The thinker is the mind-made self. So who is the thinker?  

The Ego or Mind Jester  

One of the most repetitive words used in a person’s vocabulary is the word “I” — but who is this “I“. The first personal pronoun to arise in the mind is “I”. The latin word for “I” is “ego”. The ego — jester of the mind or illusory self, runs our life. We derive our ‘I’dentity from it. The word “identity” derives from latin, “to make the same.”  Furthermore, coupled to that is the “me, my, and mine.” Such as when one was a child:

  • My Toys
  • Those books are mine
  • My personal items: clothes, computer, cell phone  

As an adult:

  • My job
  • My wife/ children
  • My personal possession: money, house, car,
  • My accomplishments/ achievements.
  • My status: rich or poor  

 A Quick analogy of “My” life  

Let’s compare our life to an empty room. We come into the world as one enters an empty room with nothing. Our mind is a “tabula rasa” (a blank slate).

What is an empty room, but space boundaried off (four walls, ceiling and floor), a room of no-thing. Then, you add things to the room, e.g. furniture, appliances and so on.  A room of nothing becomes a room of something — this is who you think you are — you fill-up up with things. These things become your identity: name, gender, body type, job, status, financial standing, relationships, religion and so on.    

We derive our identity or mind-made Self from these things as we progress through life. Furthermore a personality is coupled to the identity. They become an extension of us, the way a house can add multiple extensions, and become a mansion.  

We feel more is better: fame, power, status, money, beauty. In actual fact it is the ego who wants more. Because deep down at the heart of the matter the ego [Me, My & I] feels, “this little me is not enough.” To compound the problem, life is transient; things are constantly changing, as the following examples elucidate:  

The Transience of Life  

  • Happy – Sad                         Married – Divorced
  • Love – Hate                          Beauty – Ugly
  • Health – Illness                     Young – Old
  • Rich – Poor                           Alive – Deceased  

This is the ego’s conundrum, never being enough and the constant flux of life threatens it very existence, which creates fear and suffering. 

The Ego and the Individual  

The word “Individual” when looked at closer = Individedness which = Inseparateness. In essence it means fragmentation has taken place and there is a void. This is the egos perception that we are inseparate of everything and a void is left. This void creates fear, and we attempt to fill the void with things: money, power, fame, status, relationships or beauty.  

Conversely we are not in separateness or fragmented, there is no void to be filled – we are already complete. Instead of being in inseperateness, we are in Unity with the Whole of the Universe. We are One.  

Sea Vessels and the Sea (an analogue of separateness)  

To give an analogue of this separateness, imagine looking at the sea and floating on the sea are sea vessels. These sea-vessels come in all shapes and sizes: super-liners, cargo ships, boats, dingy and so on. They have different colors and fly different nationality flags. 

The sea-vessels are people, and each vessel is seen in separateness of every other. What we fail to see, beyond the separateness of the vessels (people), is the Unity on which they sit. That Unity is the Sea. That Unity is the unity and Oneness of all.  

Through the senses we perceive the world as fragmented and dualistic where things and events happen in isolation. At a deeper level beyond the form of the body/mind and world, we are in Oneness, in the sea of Unity — the collective consciousness.     

Recipe 

Asian Watercress Salad

Prep time: 7 minutes

Yield: 4 servings  

Ingredients:

1 bunch of washed watercress

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup of  baked tofu

1-1/2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil

2/3 tablespoon of umeboshi plum vinegar or other vinegar

Directions:

1. Tear watercress into desirable size pieces.

2. Mix with carrots in a salad bowl.

3. Drizzle sesame oil and vinegar over salad and toss.

4. Dice tofu into bite size strips.

5. Serve in individual salad bowls and sprinkle tofu on top of each and serve.

   The Two Tenants of our Home [Self] (a short story) 

“Two people have been living in you all your life.  One is the ego: garrulous, demanding, hysterical, and calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, who’s still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to… you have uncovered in yourself your wise guide. Because he or she knows you through and through, since he or she is you; your guide can help you with increasing clarity and humor, negotiate all the difficulties of your thoughts and emotions… the more often you listen to this wise guide, the more easily you will be able to change your negative moods yourself, see through them, and even laugh at them for the absurd dramas and ridiculous illusions that they are… the more you listen, the more guidance you will receive. If you follow the voice of your inner wise guide…. and let the ego fall silent, you come to experience that presence of wisdom and joy and bliss that you really are.”  

Sogyal Rinpoche: Tibetan Buddhist writer and meditation master 

                             Death (13) of the Ego  

To conclude, the ego is:  

  • The voice of fear
  • The voice of illusion
  • The voice of suffering
  • The voice of complaining
  • The voice of separateness
  • The voice of not enough  

As human beings, we have an ego attached to the body, and our biology is listening to these negative thoughts/emotions which can lead to illness and disease. The ego is a mind-channel, with incessant streams of thought flowing through it. It can be a trickling stream or a raging river, depending on the moment we are in.  It vacillates between past and future, like a hyperactive dragon fly. It plays out dramas, past wrong doings, hurts, let downs, or reprisals. It complains about life, other people, and feels threatened if someone or something is more than it — basically it is saying, this little me is not enough.  

Additionally, it looks to the future for salvation, believing things will get better. It is rarely in the present moment. However, these are illusions. The past is a memory trace in the brain and the future a thought in the head. The portal or access to diminishing its power is through the present moment — the power of presence — being still 

Death (13) of the Ego  

To “know yourself”, and answer the fundamental question “who Am I”, means detachment from incessant thinking and turning down the volume of the mind — the mind must be quiescent. To find the answer requires no thinking — being still — be present — become the bystander of Awareness and just BE. 

As the brain cannot survive without blood the ego cannot survive without thinking. Deprive it of thought- food — cut off its supply. This is the death of the ego or unmasking the false self. As the ego dies, transformation takes place.  

                                       Who Am I?  

To answer the question who Am I, a quick list of who I AM not: 

The Foreground:

  • I am not the gross physical body made up of the Humors (humors = the makeup and workings of the human body adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers).
  • I am not the 5 cognitive sense organs:
    • Smell 
    • Touch
    • Hearing
    • Sight
  • I am Not:
    • Taste 
    • Speech = speaking
    • Locomotion = moving
    • Grasping
    • Excretion
    • Procreation
  • I am not the 5 vital airs (pranas – life breaths)
  • I am not the mind that thinks  

The Background: 

Then, if I am none of these, who Am I? What is left is the Bystander of Awareness, the Witnessing Presence — the Unchanging Observer— the Silent Watcher — formless consciousness (spirit) — Beingness. To answer the question, “who am I’ — I AM that I AM, that which never was or will be, the ever-presence formless consciousness (spirit). The I AMness which is prior to thought. 

With those words, “I AM”, nothing needs to be added. The moment you add something to it such as, “I am this or I am that” you have made an object, concept or thought-form out of it, and it becomes part of the mind-made self, the false you. 

Finding the “I AM” 

To find the I AM, is to quiet the mind. We need to create space or gaps between the incessant streams of thoughts. The greater the gaps the more stillness flows in. As we quiet the mind, the richness of life comes alive. Imagine you live in a noisy environment. After a while you get acclimated to the sound. But if you step out to a quite place and return, you realize how noisy it is. This is what happens when you quiet the mind, bringing stillness and silence. You hear the world, not in thought but in stillness. 

Ways to Still the Mind: 

  • Meditation: Find a comfortable place, no distractions or noise. Can be done in a yoga position, or sitting in a chair with the spine erect. Close your eyes, and start with a mantra (sacred syllable or word) such as “I AM”. Anytime a thought arises repeat the “I AM”, not aloud but in your mind. The words I AM have no karma or history attached to them and cancels out other thoughts. By quieting the mind, the Witnessing Presence is heard — Stillness, and the aliveness of life appears. If sounds appear, do not label them, or think about them — allow them to be. Meditation is best done before bed-time or first thing in the morning, for ten to twenty minutes.
  • Breathing: close your eyes and focus on your breath. You cannot breathe and think at the same time. Be aware of the inflow and outflow of the breath. Deep conscious breathing can ameliorate stress.
  • Be present: as the saying goes, “there is nothing wrong right now, until you start thinking”. Or you can say in your mind, “what is my next thought going to be?” as you wait, no thought arises. Be present and still. The present moment is when life is constantly renewed. Being completely present negates thought. Become the watcher of your mind, weeding out negative, redundant thoughts as they arise.
  • Feeling the Inner Body: Find a quite, comfortable space. No distractions. Sit in a comfortable chair, back straight. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths. Begin to feel your inner body, such as arms or legs. Don’t think about it, such as,” how do I feel my hands.” Just become aware of them. You may feel tingles on your hands or face, as you feel the energy. Bring awareness to different areas of the body, and feel the aliveness within. Keep practicing. As time goes by you’ll be able to feel the inner body with eyes open, or during daily activities.
  • An exercise of Self-enquiry by the Indian guru Ramana Maharshi. Get into the meditative mode, close your eyes, smooth breathe. Inquire in the following way. Repeat in the mind, “Who AM I”. This will cause other thoughts to arise. As thoughts arise, inquire further, “to who do they arise” or, “to whom has this thought arisen”, and the answer would emerge,” to me”. By enquiring,” who am I” the mind goes back to the source and the arisen thought becomes quiescent. Being persistence with inquiries destroys all other thoughts, and the mind stays in its source.                               

                     Conclusion: Finding our Source  

To locate our source, requires an awareness of being — being present. 

Different levels of awareness (consciousness): 

  • Higher consciousness (God-consciousness)
  • Fully awake (living a mindful life; being fully present)
  • Waking consciousness/ Waking up
  • Waking sleep (not being present— body present; mind absent)
  • Dream
  • Deep sleep  

To find the source of my I AMness requires disidnetifying with the body/mind, unmasking the unobserved mind (ego) and being present. Being fully awake as a bystander of awareness from the dream (the world), enables clarity of Self, beam through. 

An ethereal source awakens. That prestillness or dormant source, is the substratum which is prior to the arising “I AM”. That empty space is the space of nothingness, from which all creations emanates. It is our spiritual home, the dominion of the soul. It is our essence-home — the Unmanifested, The Absolute, the Divine-essence — the One. The Unnamed, the Unspoken and the Unthought — Stillness. Be still — be silent, and know I AM that I AM. That stillness and silence is the peace of God.

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | June 15, 2010

Pre-Summer Greetings

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
Buddha

Greetings: It has been a while since I added material to my blog, but felt it was ideal for my newsletter archives. To access the newsletters archives, click May 2010.

From now on, I will add each newsletter to the blog — just click whichever month it is for the newsletter.  

Furthermore, I will add tidbits that I deem helpful as I come across them. Came across these free reports from Dr Mercola, on a wide range of subjects, for well-being.

In the mean time be present, and live your life in the now—the essence of your life.

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | June 15, 2010

Understanding Our Brain and Mind! (June ’10)

            Understanding Our Brain and Mind

It all matters: everything you see, hear, watch, say, and think. Therefore, be the gate-keeper of your mind and choose carefully what goes in.”
– Maurice Lavigne

Can you believe it, we’re half-way through the year, on the periphery of another summer. It seems like yesterday we rang in the New Year. If you recalled my January newsletter, “A New Year, A New You: Change for the Better”, I outlined what was needed. The list included nutrition, supplementation, exercise, stress management, and changing our beliefs and perceptions.

Having covered most of these subjects, we are now left with the last principle, which are our beliefs and perceptions. As you may recall, I put these subjects in two categories: extrinsic, that which happens outside the body (nutrition, supplements and exercise), and intrinsic (stress, and our beliefs and perceptions). Additionally, I noted that 80% of illness is due in part from stress. Since most stress derives from the mind, we need a closer look at the workings of the mind. Remember that emotions are the body’s response to the mind (thinking). So the question is, where and how did we get these thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. To answer this, we need a two pronged approach:

  1.  Understanding the mind: conscious and subconscious.
  2.  Understanding the ego, consciousness.

Think of it as building a house: the mind is the foundation, and the ego/consciousness the house. This month’s newsletter looks at the mechanics of the mind.

                        The Placebo/Nocebo Effect

Getting back to January’s newsletter, I noted that our beliefs and perceptions make up fifty percent of a pie chart in regards to well-being.

The Circle of Health Pie Chart
  • Nutrition 15%
  • Vitamin and juicing 10%
  • Exercise and stress management 25%
  • Changing your belief systems(thinking & perceptions) 50% 

That in itself is an important aspect that cannot be overlooked. For example, if we have a health issue or an illness and believe that we cannot overcome it — that by its self can be the difference between getting well or not.

The Placebo and Nocebo effect

It is like the placebo effect which is often used in drug trials, to test their efficacy. Two groups of people are used in the trials — one group takes the drug, while the second group takes a placebo or dummy pill (sugar/chalk). Neither group knows which is which. Often the results reveal, those given the dummy pill had the same benefits as the ones given the real pill. It was their belief that made the difference.

The opposite side of the coin is called the Nocebo effect. For example, if you were diagnosed with an illness like cancer, and told that it is not curable — that belief in it self can be the difference between healing and dying.  The cancer may not kill you, but your belief will. So, a physician should never tell a person, nothing can be done or there is no hope. There have been countless cases of people on their death bed, getting well, call spontaneous remission or spontaneous healing, just by changing their beliefs.

Click here to view an excellent documentary about this called Placebo, and its remarkable effects.

We cannot overlook the innate power within, to heal. But to tap into that, we need the correct mindset: thoughts, beliefs and perceptions.  Remember, happy, positive thoughts, strengthen our biology and negative thinking weakens it.

Becoming proactive and having the right beliefs, is the key to making positive changes in our life. Unfortunately, most of our minds have been programmed and conditioned by the past. Having been inculcated with misbeliefs, misinformation, disempowering remarks and negative thinking by our peers, has fettered our road to success and well being. Never questioning the veracity of their comments or words, but believe them as gospel truth. So the question is, when and where did this happen.

Lets look at the researcher of Dr Shad Helmstetter

Dr Shad Helmstetter discovered that most youngsters in the US between the ages of 6 to 18, are instilled by well meaning but misinformed adult figures, (parents, teachers or others) with such beliefs as:

  • You’re not good enough
  • You’re not smart enough
  • You will never amount to anything
  • No point wasting your time doing that; its not going to get you anywhere.
  • If you want anything in life you must work hard for it
  • Life is a struggle, get used of it

Furthermore, the inculcation of self-defeating, negative comments told to a youngster between the ages of six and eighteen is 148,000. Conversely, the amount of positive, empowering remarks is 4000. As an example, it’s been postulated that by the time most people reach the age of seventeen, they have heard “no you can’t” about 15,000 times and “yes you can” about 5,000 times. Which belief do you think has a better chance of sinking into your subconscious? Formed beliefs about ourself are often based on what others repeatedly told us growing up.

Listening to negative beliefs from an early age makes life a struggle. It creates lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and not pursuing our goals. Additionally, we repeat them in our mind, such as:

  • no point applying for that job, I’m not going to get it
  • I will never succeed
  • Life is a struggle  
  • If I ask this person out on a date, they will turn me down

In relation to our health, we have the beliefs:

  • I’m a victim 
  • only medicine can help me
  • I will never get well from my illness
  • There is no cure for my ailment   

           Our Neck-top, Lap-top — the Amazing Brain

The grandfather of neuroanatomy Sir Charles Sherrington noted, “The human brain is an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern, never an abiding one, a shifting harmony of sub-patterns.  It’s as if the Milky Way entered upon some cosmic dance”.  

Whether we believe it or not, our brain or “Neck-top La-top” is much better than we give ourselves credit for.  With its 100 billion neuron or brain cell capacity, and as the mathematician John Von Neumann once calculated, the brain can store 280 quintillion or eighteen 0’s after it, bits of memory, that being a conservative figure.  

When it comes to human beings, what differentiates us in comparison to other species is our brain — not its size — but the size of the frontal lobe. Looking at this lump of tofuy matter, one could never grasp the depths of its capabilities.  

In additon to 100 billion neurons or brain cells, it contains about a hundred thousand miles of blood vessels. These neurons are capably of performing about 10 quadrillion operations per second. The capacity of our brain is virtually unlimited.  Our brain has 100% retention and it is just the recall or remembering that is the problem, as our memories lie so deep in the unconscious. We can learn seven facts per second; as long as we live, with sufficient space for more, and our brain can improve with age provide we use it efficiently.

Our brain is able to make an unlimited number of thought patterns throughout our life. Pytor Anokin of Moscow University compared our brain to a “Multidimensional musical instrument that could play an infinite number of musical pieces simultaneously.” The capacity of the brain is virtually unlimited, and most importantly, we are gifted with unlimited potentiality.  

However, the brain, the most highly complex form on the planet, does not create consciousness. It was consciousness that created the brain. Consciousness enters this world through the brain, as water enters your shower, through a shower head.

The brain and thinking are form, a tiny aspect of consciousness, whereas consciousness is formless. I will discuss this further in next month’s newsletter. 

                    Different levels of Brain Activity

Now, let’s look at the different levels of brain activity. Part of brain function is that it generates electrical activity, which can be measured by an EEG machine (encephalograph). There are different levels of vibrational frequencies of EEG — high and low levels, and we give them different names. These names are different frequencies that are related to different mental states. The adult brain moves through different levels of electrical activity throughout the day. In a new born infant, because the brain has not fully developed, cannot express these different levels.  

The Different Levels   

Delta

Delta is the lowest level of brain activity, and is usually associated with unconsciousness or sleeping in the adult brain. For a new born infant, it starts out at this level for the first two years. However, the fetal brain is not unconscious or sleeping like the adult brain, as it has not yet fully developed its nervous system, or integrated other bodily functions. In the nascent stage of life or first couple years, it’s taking in information, but unable to respond. It’s as if it were behind a plate glass window, observing the world, unable to respond.  

Theta

The next level is theta. For the developed brain, it’s the state of imagination, creation and is called twilight revelry. When you wake up in the morning and are half asleep and awake, and the radio goes off — you mix the dream world with the real world.  

Additionally, as a child reaches the age of two to six or seven, its brain activity primarily functions at the theta level. For a child, it’s the stage of imagination and creation. A child in this brain state, is mixing the real life world with the fantasy world, like, when its riding a broom stating, “it’s a horse” — to the child it is a horse — they are mixing the dream world with the real world.  

Alpha

From theta we move to the next level, Alpha or calm consciousness, for a person, when they are relaxed. When the child reaches seven, it ramps up to the Alpha level. At this stage, consciousness becomes part of the child’s life, after the age of six. Implying, for the first six years of a child life, its brain frequency is lower than consciousness. Which may not sound correct, but here is why nature did it for a very important reason.  Consciousness requires thinking about things; like comparing, thinking and putting pieces together.

Here’s the rub, can you be conscious if your brain has no data in it — the answer is no, because there is nothing to think about. Consciousness is not involved for the first six years, because it is downloading the system with data.

When a child reaches six, consciousness kicks in, there is data to operate conscious thinking processes and there’s something to think about.  

Beta

Finally, the last and highest level of brain activity is beta. When the child has reached twelve, it ramps up to an even higher level of brain activity called beta, which is focused schoolroom consciousness. Which is why, there is a change from elementary school to junior high school. Because beforehand, the brain does not operate with focus consciousness — after 12 it does, as we go to a higher level.  

To Review  

The first six years of a child’s life is predominantly in the delta/theta brain states, which are very low levels of electrical brain activity. What is interesting is that these levels of brain activity are associated with clinical hypnosis, referred to as the hypnogogic trance.  

For the first six years the child is at this sublevel of consciousness, and unlike school learning, the child has only to observe and experience the world, and everything is downloaded into the subconscious — it is in a super-learning state. It’s as if a child has a video-camera attached to its head, and what it sees, hears, smells is downloaded. Its perceptions of the world are downloaded.  

Furthermore, the intelligence of the child is very active at this point, as an example — a child of three years can learn three languages simultaneously, whereas a child of eight or nine would find it difficulty to learn a second language.  

Examples of what a child observes and downloads  

During this time its perceptions of the world are formed. It observes how parents respond to the stimuli of the world.

  • How parents respond to each other: mother to father, father to mother.
  • Traits or habits parents have are observed and downloaded.
  • A male child would look at the mother and see how a woman would relate to this father. In addition, this young male will actually gather an idea of the kind of woman he will actually look for when he’s older.
  • A female child will focus on the mother and see how she responds to the father.
  • The child will notice the difference of how parents talk to other children and adults.
  • Or an adult talking to a person in authority, such as a police officer/judge, as opposed to another adult.   

All of this occurring in the first six years of a child’s life, it learns all the nuances of life, even before we are really conscious. This is a programmable life of beliefs and perceptions, enabling us to fit into society very quickly, because we can download all the rules without consciously thinking about them.  In essence, we’re being hypnotized by the world we live in.  

Perceptions and Misperceptions of Life  

It is at this point in life we acquire our perceptions of life. However, it is also when we acquire our misperceptions of life. To give an example: a child is playing in the back garden and comes across a garden spider. It asks its mother what it is. If the mother is deftly afraid of spiders, she may drag the child away, telling the child that spiders are dangerous and keep away from them. On the other hand, if the same spider shows up in another garden and another child asks its mother what it is — she would say, “Oh, that is a garden spider, it’s not dangerous — but some spiders are.” Same situation, two different outcomes — two different beliefs and perceptions downloaded into the child’s subconscious. One child believes that spiders are dangerous — the other differentiates before making a judgment.    

What we’re beginning to recognize is that we acquire our ability to respond to the world, not from our own personal experiences, but the patterns and experiences of others around us, which we refer to as our teachers (parents, family, teachers, community and people in authority). We accept their experiences and beliefs, and those are downloaded into the subconscious mind. Furthermore, these are the programs that operate from the subconscious mind, that run through our life, but were mostly unaware of. The subconscious brain is where we hold our beliefs, attitude, habits, and perceptions.

Recent cognitive neuroscience findings tell us that on a daily basis, we operate from the subconscious mind anywhere from 95 and more closely to 99% of the day. Meaning, we are repeating the same behaviors (good or bad) on a daily basis, often oblivious to them.  

Important: Most of the information in the subconscious mind was patterned around other people when we were growing up.  Additionally, it’s not even our own behavior, and may not support us in our endeavors and goals. When we hear comments from well intentioned, but misinformed people, such as:  

  • You don’t deserve that toy
  • You’re not good enough for this or that
  • You don’t deserve things
  • Who you think you are.
  • You’re not smart enough
  • No point wasting you time doing that, you wont get a job from it
  • You’re as sickly child  

When a child hears such statements before the age of six, it does not have a learned experience but a download into the subconscious.  The subconscious mind is a habit player and will play that program for the rest of its life. What a child hears before the age of six is not thought of in their conscious mind — the conscious mind is not even working at that time.  

Conclusion  

Up to the age of six, we are like vacuum cleaners, sucking up life’s experiences, whether good or bad; not conscious of them or saying, “this is right and that is wrong.” Furthermore, it is not our experiences we are taking in but other peoples, and if these are not good or beneficial to us, can be a detriment, defeating and self sabotaging later in life.  

Being a parent carries great responsibility in the nascent years of a childs development. What you say and don’t say, may have a profound effect in the development of the child for years to come. Remembering, that the early years are the foundations on which the adult is built upon, good or bad.  Next we look at the mind: conscious and subconscious.  

Food Focus: Fruit                                                 

A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.  

Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, pureed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!  

Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature’s sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:  

Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.  

Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body, and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).  

Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism, and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.  

Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.  

Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.  

Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.  

Recipe of the Month: Fruit Nut Smoothie  

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 servings  

Ingredients:  

1 banana

1 tablespoon of ground flax seed or chia seed (omegas 3 fatty acids)

1 cup almond milk (homemade)

1 cup berries (e.g. blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries)

1 cup diced melon

1/2 cup walnuts

2-4 ice cubes  

Directions

1. Mix in blender for 1-2 minutes and serve.

Note: You can add other ingredients for added nutrition such as a spoon full of bee pollen, coconut oil, flax seed oil, spirulina powder or a scoop of protein powder.  

  Understanding the Mind: Conscious and Subconscious

As previously noted, our mind has been conditioned by past, in addition to the collective cultural mindset inherited. Especially those first six years when our habitual perceptions of life were learned through repetitive actions, and downloaded into the subconscious.  However, certain things did not have to be learned and came in our genetic make-up, which are instinctual behaviors from thousands of years of evolution.

Instinctual Behaviors

Certain things required no learning, such as instinctual behaviors. Instinctual behaviors require no thinking, but are a stimulus response. Instincts are provided to humans through the genetics we acquire at birth. For example, if you put your hand in the fire — you do not have to think about removing it — you withdraw it immediately. That is an instinctual response, and requires no conscious processing.

However, the subconscious mind is where we hold our beliefs, attitudes, habits, and perceptions, learned through repitition, over and over again.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is not just a database of instincts, but a repository of all our habitual learned perceptions, misperceptions and beliefs in life. Additionally, the subconscious mind represents almost the entire operation of the brain, in that consciousness was an add-on in evolution. Before consciousness existed, the brain carried out all the functions we attribute to the subconscious brain — it was a reflexive behavior.  

Still, many organisms are totally reflexive, because it’s a stimulus response mechanism dealt by their brain, and they may not have conscious centers understanding why they’re doing what they’re doing, or what they’re doing.  

Important to Remember: the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful a processor of information than the conscious mind, the little add-on piece we call the forebrain.  

Learned perceptions and experiences repeated over and over again, are downloaded into the subconscious mind, the most salient example being, learning to walk. Even though walking was a conscious action initially, it involved the switching on and off of numerous muscles to keep us balanced and upright. Because the amount of muscles involved was so vast, the conscious mind could not handle them. Once the mechanics of walking is acquired, it is downloaded into the subconscious mind and stored.  Since one does not have to be conscious of walking, all one has to do is set the intention, and walk.    

The subconscious mind contains automated programs that require no conscious contribution, except for intention. In that way, the subconscious mind is a very powerful processor of information. Basically the subconscious mind is equivalent to a voice recorder. I record a program in it, and that program will play forever, until I rewrite or install a new program.  

The Conscious Mind  

The subconscious mind works and learns through repetition — it works in tandem with the conscious mind. The conscious mind is the crowning achievement of human evolution — it is connected with free will. It is the creative mind — it is the volitional mind and is associated with our identity of self, physically and spiritual. It is a unique mind in that we can create anything, live-time, brand new. It is a mind that enables us to have our unique experience of the world.  

Conversely, the subconscious mind is not creative at all. It is equivalent to a tape player, in that I record a program in it, and that program plays forever, until I rewrite the program.  

Important: Even though the conscious mind is very creative — it works live-time, and can control most functions in the body. Even those we thought were involuntary, such as the ability of yogis who can control heart beat, blood pressure and body temperature. Moreover, it is still a limited processor.  

To give an example datawise of the capabilities of the two minds:

  • The conscious mind can process about 40 pieces of information per second.
  • The subconscious mind is capable of processing 40 million bits of information per second.

Meaning the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful a processor of information than the conscious mind.  

The Crux of the Subconscious, Conscious Mind  

Having said that, the subconscious mind is equivalent to a voice recorder, it is important to note that there is nobody in it. This is crucial because the subconscious mind may have many programs that are damaging or destructive, even creating health issues. The problem is there is nobody in there to say, this is a good or bad behavior or program.  

We record a behavior, and any time a stimulus shows up that is associated with that behavior, we immediately make a playback of exactly that behavior. Basically, this is a self- operating mechanism once we’ve programmed it.  

Reverting back to the conscious mind — free will — and its ability to observe behavioral programs— at any time it can say stop — I don’t like that program, play another program. In that regards it is powerful.  

Nevertheless, if I have programs in my conscious and subconscious mind, inevitably the programs in the subconscious mind will overpower the programs of the conscious mind, because it is a million times more powerful.    

More importantly, whatever the conscious mind is not focusing on, will be managed by the subconscious mind. 

Most people live their lives through the programs of repetition, and do things repeatedly, day by day. The average person’s attention span is lost five times per minute, as their mind jumps from one situation to another, like a kangaroo. But if your mind is not paying attention, or in the present moment, then everything is run by the subconscious mind. The problem with this is, if there are programs in the subconscious that are self sabotaging, you may not be aware of them.  

The Driving Example  

Take for example driving a car. Originally, learning to drive a car seemed like a formidable task. In addition to listening and implementing instructions from a driving instructor, and other factors as:

  • Getting used to the size of the vehicle
  • Controlling the vehicle,
  • Remembering to look in the mirrors
  • Taking in what the driving instructor is telling you
  • If it was a stick shift, getting used to the gears and clutch.  

Overall, you may have felt overwhelmed by all of the information you had to learn and download into your subconscious mind. For some people it can be overwhelming — they never pass the test and give up. 

Once the information is downloaded from constant repetition and practice, you do not have to remember how to drive — it comes naturally.  

Now, after driving a few years, you are driving along with a passenger, talking away, and it may dawn on you, “I don’t remember driving the last few miles,” I was caught up in the conversation. I was not paying attention.  

If you were speeding, driving too close to another vehicle, on the phone, you may not be aware of these unsafe driving behaviors, because you were not paying attention.  

Most people have a limited attention span, and their conscious mind is constantly wandering like a hyper active dragon fly— they are rarely here, because they are always somewhere else. If they are doing something that is unhealthy, unproductive, or destructive they may not be aware of it. Basically they are operating from the subconscious mind, and oblivious to its many programs, many that are sabotaging their life.  

Conclusion: Rewriting the Programs of the Subconscious Mind  

The key points here are, whatever the conscious mind is not paying attention to will be managed by the subconscious mind. What cognitive neuroscience reveal is that only 5% of the day is self reflective of what we’re doing in our lives, and the other 95%, we are running from automatic programs in the subconscious.  If we have bad behaviors from childhood we may not be aware of them, because we are rarely present.  

If we go through life and feel that life is not giving us what we want, that we are not good enough or will not succeed, this is a conditioned program from the past. However, when that thought arises through the conscious mind we can say, “that is not true, I can get what I want in life or I will succeed at x or y.” But then the subconscious mind which has a program saying the opposite— now there is a conflict. The conscious mind says I will succeed and the subconscious says no — who is going to win — the subconscious, as it is a million times more powerful, and contains a program from the past saying otherwise, “you don’t deserve this or that.”  

Then you say, “I will affirm to myself”, (specifically to the subconscious mind) that “I deserve this”. But after some time you are not succeeding. Then you start blaming parents, family, teachers, the world and god, for not giving you what you deserve. Here is the problem.  

The Process of Rewriting the Programs  

You can affirm all you want to the subconscious mind, but the problem is there is nobody in there. As previously mentioned, the subconscious mind is equivalent to a voice recorder. You record a program, and it is downloaded into it, and will play your entire life. In order to change the program you have to go through a process, as you would if you we recording a new program. You have to hit the record button.  

Just talking to the voice recorder or giving it information does not change the program. It records experiential behavior, and plays them back, and it does not have dialogue or consciousness attached to it. 

In order to install a new program you have to go back to the level of brain activity in which you installed the original program, which was the theta brainwave state, because it is below the level of consciousness.

This is the brain wave state induced by clinical hypnosis — the hypnogogic trance.  Similarly, clinically hypnosis is one way of rewriting the programs of the subconscious mind, being in that wave state.  

Furthermore, there is a whole variety of healing modalities that are collectively called energy psychology.  These are a new version of psychology in comparison to the physical, chemical conventional psychology — which are more akin to forms of super-learning. You can reprogram a belief /perception you have for years, and change it in a short period of time.  

Such forms of energy psychology include:

These allow us push the record button and change those programs. When we hold misbeliefs and misperceptions about ourselves that are not true, it is an impediment to reaching our goals. Often we give up and settle for less.  Rarely do we realize that early conditioning was the cause of this. We took for granted what our peers taught us, believing it was true, only for it to be an encumbrance to living the life we hoped for.  

Now we know, we must question the veracity of our beliefs and perceptions. Remembering that our mind is conditioned by the past, one must ponder what information we got that did not support us in our journey, and is self sabotaging. Being present, enables up to catch those negative and disempowering thoughts as they surface, and squelch them as they arise. Through mindfulness and meditation, or through energy psychology, enables us install new, empowering beliefs, culminating in living the life we strive for.

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | May 19, 2010

Could Low Energy Be Adrenal Fatigue? (May ‘10)

       Could Low Energy Be Adrenal Fatigue?  

                            From April Showers to May Flowers!   

 Every day May not be good, but there’s something good in ever day” ~ ~Unknown  

As we sally forth from April showers to May flowers, warmer days lie ahead. May, named after the Greek goddess Maia, traditionally in the northern hemisphere is a big month. It is the time of year when flowers emerge and crops sprout – a time of gestation to manifestation and celebrations with Maypoles and hobby-horses, Mothers Day (U.S.) and Memorial Day – as life is redolent of the aromas of nature.  

Correction: I would like to make a correction in regards to last month’s newsletter. I had mentioned that Micheal Castaldo’s new CD to be released in June was, “La Dolce Vita N’America”- that was incorrect, it is called “Aceto“, and will be released June 15th on iTunes. Additionally, his new single “Io Credo” was released April 27TH on iTunes. Listen and enjoy.  

In regards to last months newsletter on stress, there was another area related to it that was not discussed. That is, “Hypoadrena or Adrenal Fatigue.” Since the adrenals glands are part-and-parcel of the HPA axis, they play a key role in our reaction to stress. But if overwhelmed, can lead to burnout. Adrenal fatigue is often misdiagnosed or viewed skeptically by conventional medicine, and may not be treated until the adrenals have severely weakened or totally collapsed, called Addisons disease.  

Reverting back to last month’s newsletter and ubiquitous stressors of life, mostly notably physical, emotional and psychological, take their toll on the adrenals, leading to adrenal fatigue or collapse. Furthermore, it’s surmised we experience more stressful events in one year, than our ancestors did in a lifetime. The adrenals like batteries need time to recharge, and the same applies to us.   

Articles in this months issue:  

Hypoadrenia or Adrenal Fatigue: 

  • What is Adrenal Fatigue and its symptoms 
  • Understanding the adrenal glands
  • A closer look at cortisol the stress hormone
  • Adrenal testing
  • A natural approach to supporting the adrenals

Recipe: All-Natural Almond Milk (in 5 minutes)  

In-Joy 

             Could Low Energy Be Adrenal Fatigue?  

Take care of your Body. Its the Only Place You Have to Live” ~ Jim Rohn

I would be remiss if I did not speak about the adrenals since they play a major role when under stress. To digress for a moment, if you are having issues with the thyroid, it is advisable to simultaneously assess the functions of the adrenals. Because addressing the adrenals boosts the function of the thyroid. Additionally, a malfunctioning thyroid and adrenal fatigue could be key causes of low energy and difficulty losing weight.  

Hypoadrenia  

The term “Adrenal Fatigue”, was coined by Dr James L. Wilson in 1998, and he wrote a book about it called, “Adrenal Fatigue”.  Hypoadrenia means, “hypo” lower and “adrenia” related to the adrenals. When the adrenals are functioning properly they secrete tiny and precise amounts of steroid hormones. Due to their sensitivity, are very responsive to changes in our physical, emotional or psychological environment, which can upset their finely tuned balance. Meaning too much physical, emotional, environmental, or psychological stress can deplete them, diminishing the output of the adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol.  

Addison Disease and Cushing Syndrome  

This lowered adrenal output is called (Hypoadrenia). In its severest form is called Addison Disease, but less seriously is called adrenal fatigue. Incidentally, people suffering with Addison disease may have structural damages to the adrenals, and have to take corticosteroid drugs for the rest of their life.  

Another disease related to the adrenals is Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol, which is secreted in response to stress and sometimes called hypercortisolism. It is relatively rare and mostly affects adults 20 to 50.  

However, this month’s newsletter looks at the more pervasive issue of adrenal fatigue, which is much more prevalent and under-diagnosed than is reported. But first, let’s look as the most salient symptoms of adrenal fatigue, and then an understanding of how they work.  

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue  

Adrenal fatigue is the culmination of many stresses built up in the body, left unattended. Furthermore, the addition of a traumatic event, illness (particular respiratory infections), loss of a loved one, divorce, or an accident may be the tipping point to kick in adrenal fatigue.  

The most salient symptoms are:   

  • Difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good nights sleep
  • Unexplained fatigue not corrected by sleep
  • Difficulty accomplishing everyday tasks
  • Difficultly recovering from illness, injury or trauma
  • Craving salty foods
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Low blood sugars (hypoglycemia)
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy when standing up quickly
  • Feeling better after 6pm or dinner
  • Inability to stay focused
  • Less able to handle stressful events
  • Less productive and tasks take longer to complete
  • Memory not as accurate as it used to be
  • Low sex drive  

Any symptom by itself would not be adrenal fatigue, but taken collectively, are a good indicator of it.  Furtheron I’ll recommend the type of testing needed for the adrenal. But first, let’s get a better understanding how the adrenal works.  

The Adrenals Glands  

The adrenals are walnut sized glands perched atop the kidneys, at the lower back. The interior or core of the adrenals is called the medulla, which makes adrenaline (epinephrine/norepinephrine) (the fight-or-flight) hormone. The layers outside the core are called the adrenal cortex which make up 80% of the adrenals and produce over 50 hormones such as:  

  • DHEA, an anti-aging hormone in conjunction with the sex hormones: pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones.
  • Cortisol, for blood sugar regulation, immune response and other functions.
  • Aldosterone, which regulates sodium, potassium and fluid levels in the body.  

The adrenal glands are centrally located in the midtown area of the body, for an important reason. They are close to the aorta, the major artery of the body and vena cava, the major vein. Being in close proximity enables them to pick-up hormonal messages via the blood stream, and respond immediately. Additionally, they are close to the major organs: liver, pancreas, kidneys and major fat stores of the body, which are the prime organs that require immediate response, in an emergency.

The Role of the Adrenal Glands

The primary role of the adrenal glands is to rally our body’s resources into “fight or flight” mode, by increasing production of adrenaline and cortisol. When the adrenals function optimally, they can instantly increase heart rate and blood pressure, release energy stores for immediate use, slow digestion and other functions, and sharpen our senses.

When we are stressed, we secrete the hormone adrenalin (fight or flight). Next, the hormone cortisol kicks in, which is primarily regulated from the brain via a hormone called ACTH (adrenalcorticotrophic hormone) from the pituitary glad, via the hypothalamus. Cortisol has a big impact on the control of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in conjunction with maintaining blood pressure, and balancing insulin levels as sugar is broken down for energy. Once the stress is over, the body resumes normal metabolic functions.  

Conversely, when a stressful event has passed, the body should return to the relaxation response, when the body no longer perceives danger, and the “involuntary” or autonomic nervous system function returns to a state of physiological relaxation, where blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning and hormonal levels return to their normal state.  

None-the-less, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often, that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress. On the flipside, with acute stress, this response occurs naturally, which invariably boils down to controlling the chronic stress in our life.  

Elevated Stress Hormones Effect on the Body  

Another facet of elevated stress hormones is that they divert energy from the hippocampus, the part of the brain that makes memories. It’s been found that long-term exposure to high cortisol levels, damages memory. Cortisol also interferes with neurotransmitters, the brain cells chemicals needed for communication. And, can prevent you from recalling memories you’ve already made.  Elevated stress hormones put the body in a “catabolic” state, where there is widespread tissue destruction, muscle loss, bone loss, immune system depression and brain shrinkage.  

As the body ages, high levels of cortisol production increases and coupled with low levels of DHEA, testosterone and estrogen, the loss of cartilage, bone and muscle tissue is accelerated.  

                          A Closer Look at Cortisol   

As noted already, when the adrenal kicks in, it’s not long before the hormone cortisol kicks in. Cortisol has a big impact on fats, proteins and carbohydrates, as well as blood pressure, the immune system and maintaining blood glucose or sugar levels.  

Even though cortisol is secreted by the adrenals glands, it is primarily regulated from the brain via the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenals). It works through a negative feed back loop. The hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary via the hormone CRF (corticotrophin releasing factor) which then relays the signal to the adrenals with the hormone ACTH. The adrenals then complete the loop by sending cortisol back to the hypothalamus. The amount of cortisol secreted by the adrenals will depend on the required needs of the hypothalamus from internal factors (e.g. thoughts, perceived stress) and external stimuli (e.g. through the five sense). Basically, the amount of cortisol circulating at a given time we be governed by the hypothalamus needs.  

Cortisol and Weight Gain:   

Cortisol has many functions which include:  

  • Normalizing blood sugar or glucose levels
  • Anti-inflammatory(e.g. enabling a cut to heal quickly)
  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Affects the nervous system by influencing mood and behavior
  • Controls the effects of white blood cells on a given area
  • Enables the body to deal with stress   

Another factor with cortisol is weight gain. Many times, people with adrenal fatigue have a spare tire or fat around the mid section of the body. This fat is called VAT (visceral adipose tissue), the most dangerous area to store fat in the body.  

Another factor related to increased VAT-fat is, when one reaches middle age with excess fat around the mid-section, it raises an enzyme called “aromatase”. The aromatase enzyme is especially prevalent in fat cells and converts testosterone to estrogen.  Since most men lose muscle and gain fat as they age, aromatase activity increases, reducing testosterone as it increases estrogen. The compounded effect of elevated armotase and estrogen levels in men, can lead to prostate cancer. In postmenopausal women can lead to breast cancer, which is another reason to reduce abdominal fat, especially as we age.  

The Mechanics of Cortisol  

How cortisol functions is, when you have not eaten in a while, blood sugar levels lower and the brain sends a signal to the adrenals to release cortisol. Cortisol moves glucose (blood sugar) (through glycogen in the liver), amino acids (primarily from muscles), and fat from fat cells (adipocytes). This averts low blood sugar and keeps the brain and body fueled with energy in the absence of food. Basically cortisol maintains glucose levels in the blood, while insulin avails the cells of glucose for energy.  

However, when we encounter long term stress, cortisol and insulin remain high in the blood. The extra glucose that isn’t needed for energy gets stored in the form of fat in our fat cells, primarily in the abdominal fat cells. Recent discoveries have found that fat cells have special stress-hormone receptors for cortisol, and that there are more of these cortisol receptors on fat cells in the abdomen, than anywhere else in the body.  

So the more stress we are under and cortisol released, the greater the propensity to store fat in the body, especially in the abdomen area. Since cortisol is integrally linked to maintaining blood sugar levels, it’s incumbent on us to keep our blood sugar level in balance, and less stress on the adrenals. Furthermore, low blood sugar on its own, add stress to the body and may tax the adrenals. 

None-the-less, remembering that the body is in constant need of energy, even as we sleep – the primary hormone cortisol serves as moderator, maintaining blood sugar levels between meals, especially during the night –  which is done by signaling the liver to release its stored sugar, called  glycogen when there isn’t food in the body. Long periods without food make the adrenals work harder requiring them to release more cortisol, to keep the body functioning normally.  

The incessant stream of stress from life adversities drains our adrenals hormones, cortisol being one of them. When cortisol levels drop in the blood stream, it cannot release stored fuel such as sugar from the liver (glycogen) to meet the body’s energy needs, so we feel fatigued and deenergized.  

Historically, cortisols role was for short periods, when we faced a threat, it enabled the bodies rapid energy needs be met, and once the danger passed, shifted back to the relaxation state. Contemporary life is a consistent flurry of never ending stressors, which overwhelm the adrenal glands as a whole, leading to adrenal fatigue.                  

Cortisol Daily Cycle  

The cortisol cycle corresponds to our daily circadian rhythms or in physiology, the natural recurring biological process in a 24 hour period. Cortisol is not secreted uniformly throughout the day, but follows the following diurnal or daily pattern:  

  • The highest secretion is from 6 – 8 AM
  • Cortisol gradually declines throughout the day, with a little upward movement at meal times, in preparation for nighttime rest.
  • It tapers off towards nighttime so we are relaxed to prepare for sleep.  

A disruption in cortisol level at night, affects the quality of sleep, and may be the cause of insomnia. If cortisol levels are high at night, one will have disrupted REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and wake up non-refreshed, regardless how many hours of sleep a person has had. In addition to disrupted REM sleep, elevated nighttime cortisol suppresses the immune system and our resistance to infection and cancer.  

The bottom line is, if you suspect you have the following symptoms: 

  • energy lags during the day
  • feeling emotionally off balance most of the time
  • sleeping poorly or less than seven hours a night
  • can’t shed excess weight even while dieting
  • relying on caffeine, carbohydrates or sugar as “energy boosters.”   

Seamed together, all are red flags indicating adrenal imbalance, and is best to get the adrenals tested.  

Recipe of the Month     

For many people, they have concerns about pasteurized dairy products. As a result, more people are turning to vegetarian milk substitutes like soy (I don’t recommend non-fermented soy products), rice milk, almond and hemp. Unfortunately, many of these milk substitutes use unhealthy ingredients like: evaporated cane juice (sugar), rice syrup, natural sweeteners (not sure what they are), vegetables oils (safflower, sunflower or canola), carrageenan (may contain MSG), or others. That’s the bad news, and now the good news is that you can make your own milk substitute in a jiffy.  

All-Natural Almond Milk

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of raw almonds, soaked in filtered water overnight
4 cups of filtered or spring water
3-5 dates (optional)  

Makes about 18 – 20 oz of Almond Milk

Directions: 

Rinse and blend 1 ½ cups of raw almonds that have been soaked overnight in 4 cups of fresh water. Blend with dates if you like your milk with a hint of sweetness. Strain once to remove almond pulp, with strainer or muslin cloth.

The result is a delicious, creamy milk that is free of harmful vegetable oils, concentrated sweeteners, and the problems associated with cow’s milk and soy. It can be stored safely for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

You can use the left over almond pulp for smoothies or add to a meal. Keep refrigerated. 

       A Natural Approach to Supporting the Adrenals  

” Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!”  ~  Thich Nhat Hanh  

Testing the Adrenal Glands  

If you suspect you are suffering the symptoms of adrenal imbalance, such as difficulty sleeping, consistently fatigued or other related symptoms, you should talk to your healthcare practitioner about getting the Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) test. It is a simple saliva test that measures the production of several adrenal hormones, including cortisol and DHEA, over a 24-hour period, and charts your individual cortisol curve. It is a saliva test which means it is non-invasive, meaning no blood tests, and can be done at home.  

The problem with blood testing is that it takes a snap shot of a moment in a daily period, whereas the saliva test is taken at specific intervals throughout the day:  

An example of the saliva test collection times:  

  • First sample is taken 6 – 8 am (within one hour upon waking); this is when cortisol should be at its highest.
  • The next sample is taken 11-12 AM
  • The next is 4 – 6 PM
  • The last one is take between 10 -12 PM

This gives a better overview of the hormones in a person’s daily cycle. Another advantage of saliva testing over blood or urine testing is, saliva testing is more indicative of the amount of hormone levels inside the cell, where activity takes place. Whereas, blood testing measures the amount of hormones circulating outside the cells and urine testing measure the spill over of the hormones from the blood into the urine. Additionally, saliva samples are stable for several weeks. Once collected, are mailed back to the testing lab and the results are then sent to the healthcare provider.  

A Natural approach to adrenal fatigue  

When it comes to addressing adrenal fatigue, there are a few approaches that can be taken. Firstly, getting a full physical exam to be certain there are no serious underlying medical issues causing the symptoms. But people with mild to moderate adrenal fatigue can see significant improvements by following these steps:  

  • Lifestyle: reducing stress in your life. It’s helpful to make a list of your stressors, especially those that are ongoing or self-imposed.
  • Nutritional support: incorporating whole foods – reduces refined carbohydrates, and eliminating stimulants.
  • Supplementation that supports adrenal function
  • Incorporating moderate daily exercise
  • Getting more rest – the body needs time to heal
  • Having fun, and more time for yourself

The good news is, most of these can be incorporating by you. The key is taking charge of your well-being and being consistent about it – getting support along the way from family and friends if needed.  

Lifestyle  

Recalling last month’s newsletter, I noted the many causes of stress from an unhealthy lifestyle: job, family, finances, emotions, unhealthy diet or other. Additionally, our common approach to stress is sedation from drugs (legal or illegal), alcohol, overeating or other unhealthy ways. Invariably these do not correct the underlying issues.  

Since adrenal fatigue is correlated to energy loss, we have to control the purloiners that rob our energy. Think of energy as money, as one does throw money around unnecessarily, the same applies to our energy. Energy expended unnecessary, from pushing yourself too hard in regards to work, unhealthy relationships, unhealthy self-image, (the unrelenting internal critic, e.g. “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough or a failure”), or other ways, seep our life-force energy reserves dry. Therefore it’s incumbent to extricate from these siphoners of energy, through:  

  • Learning to say no
  • Taking control of your time
  • Setting boundaries (job, relationships)
  • Detach yourself from people or places that drain your energy
  • Being in tune with your body, and listening for warning signs: pain, mental exhaustion or other signs.
  • Getting help and support when needed
  • Disbelieving the internal critic – remember its conditioned thinking.  

Follow the recommendations from my previous newsletter in dealing with stress: exercise (yoga, walking), mediation, massage, aromatherapy and a life lived in balance. Since cortisol levels are at their highest from 6 – 8AM, this is the best time to exercise.  

Nutritional support  

When it comes to addressing adrenal fatigue, nutritional support is extremely important in conjunction with the time of day you eat. Already noted, low blood sugars tax the adrenals, so its important to keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. Cortisol has a natural daily cycle, being highest in early morning ( 6-8AM), and begins to decline gradually throughout the day to prepare us for sleep.  

En passant, eating always bumps up cortisol, so it’s best to eat the largest meal in the morning – remembering the words from the old the adage (breakfast for a king) apply here. By eating one to two hours of waking (10:00 AM the latest) helps cortisol reach its optimal morning peak. It replenishes the waning glycogen stores in the body from the night before to sustain the body, and relieves the adrenals from maintaining fasting blood sugar levels. Furthermore, consuming healthy snacks between meals, helps moderate the natural downward slope of cortisol as the day progresses.  

Eating schedule for adrenal fatigue:  

  • Breakfast: should be eaten by 8 AM or within one hour of getting up, the latest being 10 AM.
  • Lunch: should be eaten 11 – 12 noon, because the morning meal is used up quickly and the body needs the next installment of food to keep it on an even keel.
  • Between 2 -3 PM one should eat a healthy, nutritious snack to sustain you through a dip in cortisol between 3 – 4 pm, which happens to most people with adrenal fatigue.
  • Dinner: the evening meal should be consumed between 5 – 6PM. Many sufferers of adrenal fatigue feel their best after the evening meal, but if not, may be eating the wrong foods.  

Another factor with adrenal fatigue is that people feel they are not hungry in the morning and feel they can skip breakfast – this should be avoided.  This lack of hunger may be the result of the hormone CRH entering the blood in the morning, diminishing appetite, or a toxic liver. Either way, your breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you miss it, will be playing catch up for the rest of the day.  

What to Eat and Drink  

When it comes to nutritional support for the adrenals, every meal and snack should contain healthy protein, fat and unrefined complex carbohydrates. Especially in the morning, will have a stabilizing effect on blood sugars, and in turn can help overcome caffeine and sugar cravings.  

Ideally organic whole foods, free of chemicals and other deleterious ingredients. Eat micronutrient-rich foods that support the adrenals like asparagus, avocado, cabbage, garlic, ginger, and lean protein. A healthy diet of unprocessed foods at the appointed times, goes a long way to helping the adrenal heal.  

Furthermore, what you drink is important to help the adrenals heal. Water is important for the hydration of the body, but because of the chemicals added to many water supplies (chlorine, fluoride) which stress the adrenals, a good water filtering system is needed for clean water. In addition, it’s recommended adding a ¼ to ½ a teaspoon of sea salt to a glass of water, as it helps with the sodium to water ratio in the body.  

Many teas are helpful to the adrenals, such as:

  • Green tea(caffeine free)
  • Chamomile tea
  • Passionflower tea
  • Valerian tea
  • Bancha tea
  • Barley tea
  • Twig tea or Kukicha tea

Other beverages that are helpfull: Ginseng or Eleuthero/Siberian ginseng, and Veggie juice like V8 for the salt content.  

Salt  

One of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue is salt cravings, and people with adrenal fatigue furthermore have low blood pressure (hypotension). As noted early, one of the hormones in the adrenal cortex, Aldesterone, which regulates the minerals sodium and potassium levels in the body. With adrenal fatigue, inadequate levels of aldersterone result in low sodium levels in the body, leadings to salt cravings. So salting your food will help to ameliorate this, and is best to use iodized sea salt, as conventional salt is processed and low in minerals. Some sea salts may not have iodine, but you can compensate by using Kelp (sea vegetable) granules. If you are worried about your blood pressure, you can purchase a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) at your local pharmacy or drugstore and measure it yourself. Ideally a reading of 120/80 is the normal blood pressure reading.  

Foods and Beverages to Avoid

The following foods should be avoided if you want to heal the adrenals, and keep cortisol and blood sugar levels on an even keel.  Many causes of adrenal fatigue are a result of eating processed foods and stimulating drinks, such as: cookies, cakes, doughnuts, white bread, white sugar or pasta. These foods contain refined sugar and flour, and allow a great surge of energy, but generally the surge is followed by an even greater dip in energy, causing you to feel worse.  

Gluten 

Furthermore, many refined carbohydrates contain gluten, a protein found in many grains (e.g. wheat, rye, barley, and oats) and frequently used as a food additive. It’s been found that people with adrenal fatigue are sensitive to gluten and should consume a gluten-free diet. Other products to avoid are those that have caffeine, such as chocolate which has (theobromine – caffeine) in addition to sugar.  

In regards to beverages, one of the most stressful beverages is caffeine, which is why removing all stimulating drinks is a must to help the adrenals heal.  

The following drinks and beverages should be avoided.

  • Coffee or any drink with caffeine or its other names such as: ephedra (Ma Hung), colanut, guarana.
  • Alcohol being a refined carbohydrate affects blood sugar levels.
  • Soft drinks, sports drinks, most contain sugar and some have caffeine.
  • Fruit juices in the morning can cause blood sugar spikes, such as a glass of orange juice.

Supplementation

There are many supplements that can aid the adrenals. Start with a high-quality multivitamin–mineral complex rich in stress vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.

Such as:

  • Vitamin C. People with adrenal fatigue excrete large amounts of vitamin C in their urine. It is a significant player in regards to adrenals health. You can take up to 6000 mg or bowl tolerance. Dose: Take it in divided doses, spread across the day
  • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) 800 IU, must be taken for three month to notice its effect. It neutralizes damaging free radicals molecules inside the adrenals glands. Caution: Vitamin E is a natural blood thinner, if on a blood thinner medication, must monitor blood clotting.

Vitamin B (B complex): the whole B complex supports the adrenals, but in particular:

  • Pantothenic Acid (B5) can take up 500mg twice daily for a month — after a month, cut back to 250 mg twice daily, and then to 100 mg, for adrenal support.
  • Niacin — 25 – 50 mg. If you flush from the niacin, get the non-flushing type, niacin hexanol.
  • Vitamin B6 — 50 -100mg daily

Minerals:

  • Magnesium— is a catalyst for energy production in regards to the adrenals. It works well when taken with Vitamin C and Pantothenic acid (B5). Up to 400 mg daily.
  • Calcium — in addition to bone support, calcium supports the nervous system, leading to an inner calm. 750 -1000 mg daily.

Trace Minerals:

The trace minerals further support the adrenal, such as: copper, chromium, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. You can purchase trace minerals in liquid form.

DHEA: An anti-aging hormone made in the adrenals, may lower high cortisol levels, but it may convert to estrogen in the body. In that case 7- Keto DHEA, is better as it does not convert to other hormones. It can be purchased as a supplement. Caution: you should monitor you DHEA levels as it can convert to other hormones, with side effects, especially if you are susceptible to cancer, as it may increase cancer cell growth. 

In addition to vitamins and minerals, there are many herbs that support the adrenals.

Herbs

Astragalus root aids in the body’s natural ability to adapt to stress, bolstering the immune system, while helping to regulate normal blood sugar levels and alleviate insulin resistance. Caution: should not be taken if fever is present.

Ashwaganda: is an adaptogen and Ayurvedic herb long used in India also known as Indian Ginseng. It enhances the immune system, calms stress and supports memory. It may moderate cortisol levels. Additionally, it supports thyroid hormones and increases basal body temperature. Dose: 300mg two to three times daily.   

Echinacea: supports the immune system, and helps with recovery from infections from adrenal imbalance. Furthermore is a great rejuvenator of exhausted adrenals. Caution: should not be taken for long periods of time — 8 weeks on — 1 week off to maintain it effectiveness. People allergic to ragweed or plants in the sunflower family should avoid it. It should be avoided by people with auto-immune disorders such as Lupus, MS, Aids, or HIV positive, as it stimulates the immune system. Dose: 1000 – 2000mg of dried echinacea root 3x a day.

Ginseng: there are different types of Ginsengs: Asian (Panax), American (panax quinquefolium) and Siberian (Eleutherococcus). Ginseng is often referred to as a stress tonic, as it supports and normalizes adrenal function. Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) is an adaptogenic herb that can help protect against the negative effects of stress, while decreasing fatigue, enhancing mental clarity, helping to balance blood sugar, and may support bone remodeling as well.

Panax ginseng is the strongest and may be too much for some people. Take ginseng for three weeks — stop for a week and resume — Dose: Eleuthero: 200 – 400 mg daily of a standard extract, of 1% eleutherosides. Caution: do not use eleuthero if you have high blood pressure.

Licorice Root: One of the best known herbs for supporting adrenal function. An anti-stress herb, licorice root aids in increasing energy and endurance. Short term use of licorice root can give the exhausted adrenals the boost they need to function. Additionally, it supports hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which usually follows adrenal imbalance.

Caution: May raise blood pressure or elevate cortisol levels too high, if used for long periods of time. Should be avoided if one has high blood pressure, kidney problems, abnormal low potassium levels, or women with estrogen-sensitive cancers. Avoid using larger amounts of Licorice internally during pregnancy or nursing.  Dose: 200 – 1000mg glycyrrhizin extract daily for up to six weeks. Take a two week break and resume if necessary.

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it acts in non-specific ways to increase resistance without disturbing normal biological functions in the body. It improves mood, mental clarity, balances stress hormones, and helps with concentration in tired individuals. An added benefit of rhodiola is its antidepressant and antianxiety effects, as it can raise serotonin levels. Dose: take 100 mg of Rhodiola rosea extract standardized to contain 2-3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidroside, two to three times daily with meals.

Cordyceps is a prized antioxidant fungus that can slow aging and take a load off the adrenals by supporting the immune system, balancing the inflammatory response and helping to stabilize blood sugar. Caution: Cordyceps should not be used by pregnant, lactating women or children, as it has not been studied enough in these patient categories.

Reishi Mushroom is a Chinese herbal mushroom; know for it many healing benefits. It is a great supporter of the immune system — and has a calming effect when taken.

Sleep

Finally there is sleep to help the adrenals. In contemporary life, we push the envelope to getting adequate sleep. When we are tired, we revert to stimulants to keep us going (e.g. coffee, Red Bulls), and keep burning the candle at both ends. Eventually, the wax runs dry, and we burn out and in turn our adrenals.

By getting 8 -10 hours of sleep a night, is one of the best ways to restore adrenal health. But the paradox is that sleeplessness is a byproduct of adrenal fatigue. The reason for disrupted sleep patterns may be, if a person wakes between 1 – 3 AM, the liver may be low in glycogen or blood sugar storage to keep blood sugar levels on a even keel. Furthermore, too low or high cortisol levels may disrupt sleep patterns as well. Consuming to much caffeine during the day further disrupts sleep patterns. The following steps should be take to get a good nights sleep.

Steps for a good nights sleep:

  • Most importantly getting to bed by 10:30 PM, and if possible, staying in bed until 8:30 to 9AM.(this may not be done all the time, but on your days off). For many people they get their second wind by 11PM which make it harder to get to sleep, further exhausting the adrenals.
  • Getting enough physical activity during the day.
  • Avoiding caffeinated products
  • Avoid watching television late in the evening or looking at a computer screen, as it prevents melatonin from elevating to induce sleep. Best to turn of these appliances by 8PM.
  • Meditation before you go to sleep
  • Keep your bedroom clean and comfortable, and at the right temperature.
  • Do not sleep within six feet of electrical appliances, e.g. electric radio or clock. No computers or TV’s in the bed room. The electrical impulses from these appliances interfere with circadian rhythms in the brain, preventing deep sleep.
  • Darken room as much as possible, allowing no light in – if unable to block out light, use an eye cover.
  • Use herbal teas to relax and promote sleep, such as chamomile, valerian, catnip or hops.
  • Supplements like Melatonin or 5HTP may help to get a good night sleep.
  • Essential oils like Lavender have a calming effect. Put some on your pillow.
  • Not eating late at night as it can raise blood sugar levels.

During the day take naps, center yourself, and breathe deeply. By structuring your time, and winding the day down in preparation for sleep, makes getting a good sleep easier. Applying and incorporating the above recommendation, supports this.

Conclusion

When life is copasetic, lived in balance and harmony, stress and adrenal fatigue are a no-show. But contemporary life is permeated with stress. As life’s scale begins to imbalance, the pernicious effect of stress seeps in. If not addressed and let build up, eventually leads to a plethora of health issues, including adrenal fatigue.

To prevent you from getting to that point, its important to check in with our self, and ask “how is my life going” – is it in balance or beginning to wobble. If so, what can I do to rebalance it? Being honest with yourself, and willing to take the necessary steps, can avoid pain and suffering down the road. A stitch in time saves nine. Now is the time to recharge those adrenal batteries, and give them the attention and support they need.

You are doing great, keep up the good work, as we trek to higher elevations in our journey to well-being.    

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | May 19, 2010

De-Stressing Our-Being ( April 10)

                      Destressing Our-Being  

                                  The Tastes and Sounds of Italy   

Now that winter is a fleeting memory, its time to welcome spring – a time of renewal, regrowth and reblossoming of life – nature’s yearly rebirth.  

Continuing from last month’s newsletter on exercise, I hope you are taking advantage of the good weather and incorporating exercise. This month’s we cover the byproduct of contemporary living, “stress”. One way to deal with stress is to sweeten our life, or as the title of that 1960’s movie “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life), made famous. This month’s newsletter has an Italian flavor, as we sample the tastes and sounds of Italy, courtesy of Micheal Castaldo.  

                  Stress an Impediment to Well-Being   

Since the start of the year I have covered different topics regarding our move towards well-being. I have put them in two categories: extrinsic, which comes from outside the body, and intrinsic which is within. Extrinsic factors are nutrition, supplementation and exercise. Intrinsic factors are our thoughts, beliefs and stress. Many nutritionists and dieticians mostly focus on extrinsic factors, and less on the intrinsic. I believe intrinsic factors are major keys to good health. This month’s newsletter looks at stress and what we can do to ameliorate it.  

Since it’s impossible to remove stress from our life, how can we control it? Yes, a little stress is a good thing to get motivated for the day or accomplish tasks. However, unresolved stress, also know as chronic or toxic stress that builds up in the body and mind, takes an exacting toll on our health if left unresolved. The question is how to deal with it. To evaluate the stress in your life, takes the Holmes-Rahe scale.  

Sources of Stress in our life

Contemporary living endows us with many advances from science, technology and other acomplishments. However, with these advances there is a downside. In regards to the foundering economy, job security is a concern, leading to sleepless nights, worry and uncertainty of what the future holds. The domino effect of losing a job compounds other concerns, such as paying the mortgage or rent. If the job goes, inevitably health insurance will follow. One may think, “what if I get sick, how can I take care of myself or family”. The bottom line is all of these cause worry, fear, uncertainty and stress.

But stress derives from many sources, such as the uncertainty of a marriage or relationship. The death of a loved one – raising a family – working a difficult job and meeting deadlines – illness – erratic time schedules from work or lifestyle, and not getting adequate sleep.  

Other stresses derive from the over consumption of processed foods – pollution from the environment and so on. Overtime, if not dealt with or defused, build up in the body, culminating in the manifestation of minor or major health issues.  

Stress and Health

It is well know that chronic stress has a debilitating effect on our health and that 80% of all illnesses are due in part from it – specifically, it severely compromises the immune system. In its mild form, stress leads to headaches, pains, blood sugar fluctuations, insomnia, weight gain and depression.

In more severe cases, its been scientifically documented that people who were diagnosed with various types of cancers, frequently incurred a major life stress, such as the break up of a marriage, loss of a job or death of a loved one. Since stress is part and parcel of life, how can we control it, before it controls us?  

The Different Type of Stress

Mental/Emotional Stress – What we think or feel: work, home, family, financial. 

Chemical Stress – What we ingest: eat and drink

Physical Stress – What we do with our bodies: lack or too much exercise and work.

Environmental stress – pollution from the environment: water and air.  

The Mechanics of Stress in the Body

It is important to understand how the body responds to stress. But keep in mind, the stress response (flight-or-flight) is not a detriment or flaw of human evolution, but how we evolved as a species. Without it, we would not be here.   

The body has two ways of protecting itself: from an internal threat and external threat. The first way is from an internal threat through the immune system, which protects us from invaders coming into the body, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites and pathogens. After all, we don’t live in a bubble, but are surrounded by all types of little critter, who would like to take us over. In addition, we have more foreign bacteria in our bodies than our own. Still, a healthy immune system does an excellent job protecting us from all types of threats.  

The second way is from an external threat, such as encountering a wild animal, facing a dangerous situation, or everyday life through the fight-or-flight response.  

The HPA axis

Let’s look at an example of how the body deals with an external threat. Say you are walking down the road and encounter a saber-tooth tiger or would be attacker. The body responds to these types of threats through the HPA axis.  

HPA stands for: Hypothalamus, Pituitary which are located in the brain and Adrenals which sit atop the kidneys. The hypothalamus interprets the danger – in this case a wild animal or attacker. By observing the danger it sends a signal to the pituitary gland, which is the master gland that sends a signal to every cell in the body (70 to 100 trillion cells). Since the threat comes from outside the body, we need to engage in a protection response which is why the signal is then forwarded to the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are associated with fight-or-flight, and secrete the steroid hormones, (adrenalin = epinephrine), cortisol, DHEA, aldosterone and small amounts of estrogen and testosterone.

The adrenal glands are the glands that engage in the behavior of protection. When we perceive a stressful environment in front of us, we access the HPA axis, resulting in getting into a protection response. To deal with the stress from the outside world, we have to nourish our arms and legs to get away from the danger, in this case a life threatening situation. When stress hormones are released into the system, blood flows to the arms and legs.  

Before it flows to these areas, the blood is in the viscera area or gut for growth and maintenance of the body – such as digestion and metabolism. Once steroid hormones are secreted, blood flow constricts in the viscera area to conserve energy, as energy is required for the peripheral organs. When you shut down energy in the visceral area, you shut down the immune system, because the immune system uses significant amounts of energy. When you shut down the immune system, you are prone to infections and disease, which is why when we get stressed are more prone to cold and flu’s, and other health related issues.  

The Stress Response

Invariably, the body responds to stress in one way. Whether the stress comes from facing a wild animal, would be attacker, a difficult job  or lying comfortable in bed having a fearful thought, our body responds in one way, that is fight-or-flight.  

The fight-or-flight response goes back to the nascent stage of human evolution which enabled us to get away from the saber-tooth tiger. Once we escaped the danger, the body’s energy shifted from fight-or-flight back to the immune system, for growth and maintenance of the body. However, contemporary living is permeated with consistent stress mostly mental and emotional, exacting a toll on our health.  

Dealing with stress

Managing stress in our life is recognizing it as it arises, and taking action to break the cycle. Stress indicators to watch for:  

  • Muscle tension
  • Irregular breathing
  • Pounding heart
  • Irritable
  • Agitated

Many people address stress in unhealthy ways, through drugs, alcohol, sex, overeating, shopping. These are not dealing with the underlying cause, and only exacerbate it. To deal with it, is to bring balance and harmony to our life through a healthy diet and lifestyle.  

Diet and Lifestyle

Another facet of stress is weight gain. Several studies have shown that stressed-out people tend to eat more fattening foods and consume more alcohol. Studies at Yale University found that stress causes excess abdominal fat, (the worst place to have excess body fat, because it increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes). When under stress, the adrenals secrete cortisol, a fat promoting hormone.  

Furthermore when you are chronically stressed, blood sugar levels rise and then abruptly fall, caused by adrenaline and cortisol dumping sugar into the blood stream – a sugar crash is followed a few hours later. Since the brain uses 20% of our glucose (blood sugar) supply, this sugar crash leaves us feeling tired, irritable and nervous. Most people’s response is consuming sugar laden foods or drink caffeinated beverages, inevitable, leading to another energy crash a few hours later, as the cycle repeats itself.  

Invariably, the keys to addressing stress are a healthy diet and lifestyle. I have covered diet in a previous newsletter, but foods to watch out for are processed foods, especially refined sugars. Refined sugars exact a severe toll on our bodies. Additionally, caffeine is another major stressor – so withdrawing from caffeine is another essential step.  Other factors related to diet is, not eating three meals a day and eating on the run – eating on the run and not chewing food thoroughly stresses the digestive system, leading to digestive disorders.  

In regards to lifestyle, juggling too many balls at one time – stretching our self thin, time-wise, is another factor. Taking on too much, hurrying to meet deadlines can be overwhelming, inevitably leading to burn-out. By delegating tasks, setting boundaries and saying “No”, gives us better control of our time, and health.  

                    The Tastes and Sounds of Italy    

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci  

Today, April 15th is synonymous as tax day in the U.S., but on this day in 1452 in the town of Vinci, one of the seminal figures of the Italian Renaissance was born. It was the polymath Leonardo da Vinci, often described as the quintessential Renaissance man or Uomo Universale.  

Speaking of tax day, Leonardo’s father was a prosperous accountant and notary for the city of Florence. Lucky for us he did not follow his father’s footsteps, because being born out of wedlock disqualified him from joining the Guild of Notaries. So in honor of the maestro (master), let’s sample the “Taste and Sounds of Italy”.  

It was Federico Fellini’s 1960’s movie La Dolce Vita that popularized its english translation, “the sweet life”. Conversely, contemporary life often seems the antithesis of it – bland or bitter and suffused with stress.  However, today we get a chance to indulge in the sweet life courtesy of Micheal Castaldo.  

The Tastes of Italy

In regards to taste, no Italian meal is complete without the richness of high quality Italian Olive Oil. Micheal is the founder of the “New York Olive Oil Coop.” As Micheal notes, because of loose regulations it is hard to get high quality olive oil in the U.S. But the good news is, Micheal imports high quality organic extra virgin olive oil called (EVOO), from Famiglia Pellegrino his mother’s family in Calabria, Italy. As Michael describes it:  

Pellegrino Certified Organic Oil has a brilliant deep olive green hue, scent of green olive leaves, a wonderful buttery texture and subtle peppery finish. Through traditional farming methods the Pellegrino’s maintain a special relationship with: Mother Earth and her resources.”  

Furthermore, olive oil is one of the best vegetable oils and a healthy fat, being that it is a monounsaturated fat. It contains vitamin A & E, chlorophyll, magnesium, and a host of other cardio-protective nutrients. In addition to EVOO, Micheal sells aged Balsamic Vinegar (25 yrs) called “Aceto Tradizionale Balsamico Particolare Di Modena”.  

So as warmer days are on the horizon, why not try some EVOO or aged balsamic vinegar on your dishes, to enjoy the authentic tastes of Italy. 

The Sounds of Italy  

In addition to being a connoisseur of quality Italian food, Michael is endowed with sublime vocals that epitomize the sounds of Italy and “La Dolce Vita”. Speaking of La Dolce Vita, that is the name of Micheal’s next album to be released in June called, “La Dolce Vita ‘NAmerica”. Click here to watch a video of Micheal singing “Guarda Questa Terra”, against the back drop of the Italian landscape from his upcoming album. Listen to it and rate it. Enjoy!  

To learn more about Michael’s products and music, go to his websites:  

Food Focus: Oils and Fats  

Not all oils and fats are created equal. Heavily processed, hydrogenated, “trans” fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair and nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. Our bodies also need fat for insulation and to protect and hold our organs in place.  

A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfillment and warmth. When there are excess fats and oils in the diet, especially heavily processed fats, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness. Signs of insufficient high-quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold.  

There are many sources of healthy fats and oils. For sautéing and baking, try butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil, because they do not break down when used at high temperatures. When sautéing and stovetop cooking at moderate temperatures, try organic extra virgin olive oil. Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings on top of salads, veggies or grains. Other healthy fats are found in whole nuts and seeds and in their butters like almond butter or tahini. Whole foods such as avocados, olives and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 and omega-6 organic eggs. Experiment with these healthy fat sources and see which agree with you and leave you satisfied.  

When selecting oils, buy the highest quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes. Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined. Words to avoid are expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.  

Recipe of the Month: Savory Tahini Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 cup  

Ingredients:

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tamari

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

pinch of cayenne (to your taste)  

Directions:

1.   In a bowl briskly whisk together the tahini and water until combined. It will look separated at first: just keep whisking!

2. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.

3. Adjust flavors to your taste. Add additional water if you want it thinner.

4. Serve over grains and greens.

Note: Tahini sauce keeps refrigerated for up to one week.  

Avocado Dip

 Prep Time: 3 minutes

Yield: 1 cup  

Ingredients:

1 large peeled and pitted avocado

2/3 cup plain yogurt, goat yogurt or soy yogurt

1 diced tomato

dash or two of cayenne pepper

sea salt and black pepper  

Directions:

1. Mash avocado with a fork until very smooth.

2. Add yogurt, tomato, cayenne. Blend until smooth. This may be done in a food processor, in a blender or with a fork.

3. Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

4. Serve chilled with mixed raw vegetables.

Note: Best made a maximum of 1 hour before serving.  

Forward to a Friend

It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.                                

                      A Natural Approach to Stress   

We have seen how stress affects the body, and that being stress-free is not an option, but there are natural approaches we can take. As previously noted, the conventional way to addressing stress is drugs, alcohol. These give a temporary high as the brain secretes the feel good hormones: dopamine, endorphins and GABA, a relaxing neurotransmitter. Conversely, drugs and alcohol, throw the brain and blood sugar levels out of balance, leading to emotional issues, addictions and withdrawal symptoms.  

The good news is there are healthier alternatives. Primarily, eliminating processed foods, and consuming whole foods, organic or locally grown: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins. These macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) stabilize blood sugars, provides important nutrients for our brain and body. Furthermore, they are a bulwark to stress providing greater resistance to it.  

Good Fats

Being a fat advocate, healthy fats in the diet such as the Omega-3 essential fatty acids are a necessity for brain and body health. They turn off inflammation in the body such as those from fish oils (EPA/DHA) or fatty fish like wild salmon. Since our brain is 60% fat (DHA), its incumbent on us to consume the omega-3 on a daily basis, to help with brain-cell to cell communication, which affect our mood and how we deal with stress – e.g. Carlson’s lemon flavored fish oil.  

Supplements for stress: 

  • B-vitamins: support the nervous system, and are used in the making of stress hormones and neurotransmitters. A whole food B-complex is best.
  • Magnesium: one of many minerals in the body, but involved in more than 300 processes in the body, has a direct effect on serotonin to keep us relaxed. Dosage: Magnesium citrate 200 – 400 mg three times daily – last dose taken before bed time.
  • GABA: Has a tranquil effect on the nervous system and controls the release of dopamine in the brain and assuaging anxiety and tension. Take 100 – 500mg, one to three times daily between meals- high doses may cause nausea.
  • L-Glutamine: is an amino acid and forerunner of GABA, having a calming effect on the brain. Good for sugar or alcohol craving and helps to repair muscle tissue after exercise. Caution: Not to be taken if one has liver or kidney disease. One can take up to four 500 mg capsules with other supplements.
  • Taurine: another amino acid that enhances GABA and helps with migraines, depression as well as stress and anxiety. Caution: Can lower blood pressure. Dosage: One can take 250 -500 mg twice daily, between meals.
  • Theanine: an amino acid that’s been know to bring an alert calmness. Enhances the effect of GABA in the body. Theanine is a major ingredient in green tea. One can take 100 – 200mg twice daily, or for added effect, can be taken with GABA.
  • Valerian: has been very effective at treating stress. It helps with nervousness, insomnia and depression. Caution: it increases the effect of sedative drugs, such as muscle relaxants and antihistamines. Has a negative effect if taken with alcohol, narcotics or psychotropic drugs. Dosage: 50 – 100mg two or three times a day, from a standardized product of 0.8% valeric acid.
  • Kava: primarily used in the south pacific as a relaxing social beverage. It has a calming effect on the body, acting on the limbic system the seat of emotions in the brain and as a muscle-relaxer. Helps with stress, headache and other body aches. Caution: having come under scrutiny by the USDA for causing liver problems, is not to be used if you have liver disease or a heavy alcohol user – in addition, not to exceed 250 mg of kavalactones (active ingredient) per day. Dosage: take 60 -75 mg kavalactones two to three times a day.
  • Rhodiola: is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it acts in non-specific ways to increase resistance without disturbing normal biological functions in the body. It improves mood, balances stress hormones, helps with concentration in tired individuals. Furthermore, it can raise serotonin levels. Dosage: take 100 mg of Rhodiola rosea extract standardized to contain 2-3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidroside, two to three times daily with meals.
  • Ashwaganda: is another adaptogen and Ayurvedic herb long used in India. It enhances the immune system, calms stress and supports memory. Additionally, it supports thyroid hormones and increases basal body temperature. Dosage: 300mg two to three times daily.    

Note: As previously mentioned in another newsletter before taking supplements, but especially herbs or plants, it is advisable to check with your health care providers if you are taking medications, in case of a drug interaction. 

Other approaches to stress

In addition to consuming a whole food diet and supplementation, there are other approaches to stress.  

Exercise

As covered in my previous newsletter, exercise is another great way to break the cycle of stress. When animals get stressed they move their bodies to dissipate the stress hormones. Exercise is one of the best dissipaters of stress in the body as it lowers the stress hormones and raises the feel good endorphins in the brain.  

Yoga 

Has been incorporated into the west for many years now, and is great for flexibility, through stretching and body movements that build strength in the body, in conjunction with proper breathing and meditation. There is a wide variety of Yoga forms to choose from, but for stress, Hata Yoga incorporates mediation, breathing exercise and body movements.  

Meditation  

Since most of stress derives from our mind, worrying about this or that, past or future events – most of which never materialize in the first place, meditation is our key to quietining the mind-chatter. Similarly, we cannot control the world around us, only how we respond to it.  

The key to meditation is to dissipate the merry-go-round of repetitive, mundane thoughts in our mind, and bring stillness.  

However, in regards to prayer we are verbalizing externally and internally, while with meditation we are listening and stilling the mind. To stop the mind chatter use a mantra such as, “be still and know that I AM God”, or “my name is _____ and I will”, or “I AM”, or find one that resonates with you. Each time you say the mantra (in your mind), drop the last word until you get to the first word and begin the process over again.  

Meditation is best done early in the morning, but can be done in the evening. Find a quite place without any distractions, close your eyes and breathe from your abdomen through your nostril, noticing the inhalation and exhalation of the air. Do it for fifteen to thirty minutes daily. Mediation has a calming effect on the brain, the limbic system and helps to diminish stress in the body. Make it a daily ritual- be still and listen. For more on different meditations click here. 

Aromatherapy  

Our sense of smell through the olfactory senses goes back to the evolution of human beings, deeply embedded in the brain in the limbic system. Smell can linger in our memories for decades, such as the memory of home cooking as a child, a place or event in time.  

The Frequencies of Health  

Aromatherapy uses essential oils, which have been used since biblical times and beyond, to help the body in many ways. Furthermore, different oils have different frequencies. Frequency, in the physical sense, is “the number of cycles or completed alternations per unit time of a wave or oscillation” usually measured in cycles per second or Hertz. Every living thing has an electrical frequency. Recently, Bruce Tainio of Tainio Technology, developed equipment to measure the biofrequency of humans and foods.  

Measuring in megahertz (MHz), he found: 

The body:  

  • a healthy body has a range of 62-78 MHz, while disease begins at 58 MHz
  • cancer begins at 42 MHz
  • death begins as 25 MHz

Food:

  • fresh food measured at 20 -27 MHz
  • fresh herbs measured 12-27 MHz
  • dry herbs 2-27 MHz
  • processed and canned foods had a 0 MHz frequency.  

Another reason to consume fresh food and eliminate processed food. It has a deleterious effect on our health in addition to be lifeless. 

More information on vibrational frequenices click here.  

Clinical research shows that essential oils have the highest known frequency to man, and may create an environment in which microbes, disease, bacteria, fungus cannot survive.  

Since we are dealing with stress, the best oils are lavender, chamomile, sandalwood and marjoram. In regards to essential oils, lavender has a frequency of about 70 MHz, while rose oil has the highest frequency of 320 MHz.  

It is important to buy high quality,100% pure essential oils and not take them internally. You can mix them with a carrier oil such as almond oil. You can use them in a bath, for massage or scenting a room. Use an oil diffuser for scenting a room. Essential oils for energy are peppermint, patchouli or clove. Experiment with different oils, and see which ones resonates with you. 

Massage 

Another way of removing stress from the body is to get a massage. A good massage therapist can sense tense areas in the body and remove them. This can ameliorate aches and pains as tension dissipates, usually caused by tight muscles.  

Other ways  

Other ways to deal with stress is through journaling or deep breathing (belly breathing). Another technique for stress and emotional issues is EFT (emotional freedom technique), is a form of energy psychology. EFT is a relatively new innovation devised by Gary Craig. It has helped thousands get relief from pain, disease and emotional issues. Basically it is tapping acupuncture points while focusing on a problem. For more on EFT click here.  

Conclusion  

Stress is part and parcel of everyday living. The key is to control it before it spirals out of control, by being aware when it arises in the body and taking constructive steps to address it. Bringing balance to our life through a healthy diet and lifestyle – using our time efficiently – focusing on one thing at a time, and not multitasking. Remember where attention goes, energy goes. Consolidate your energy, one task at a time, giving it your full attention.  

If you do encounter stress incorporate some of the supplements in your diet or utilize the other recommendations. Invariably, a life in harmony and balance is the greatest tool to reducing stress.  Congratulations, you are another step closer to Well-being.

Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | May 19, 2010

Moving Towards Well-Being (March 10)

                 Moving Towards Well Being

                                       March the Riot of Spring                      

Given that we are in March means “March Madness” permeates the air, from shamrocks to parades, to the NCAA basketball tournament. In addition, March means spring is just around the corner as natures begins anew. This month’s newsletter covers exercise, and as the weather warms up it’s a great time to be outdoors. Furthermore, there are two interesting articles from Dr Mercola on exercise related to a healthy heart and memory loss.  

Wishing you a happy St Patrick’s Day with this Irish Blessing

                            March the Riot of Spring                   

Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don’t want to press your luck ~   “Unknown”  

When St Patrick’s Day comes around, it’s not long before the return of spring. It may not have the Sacre Bleu effect Stravinsky’s ballet, “The Rite of Spring” had on the amorous Parisians, as ugly pagans sacrificed a pertly maiden to propitiate the gods of spring, but it is a harbinger of greener and warmer days ahead – a day when the world turns green. Furthermore, the color green is associated with the “Heart Chakra (4th)”, one of seven energy centers or vortexes of the body. In the higher realms, green is associated with the seraph, Archangel Raphael (name means whom God heals), the overseer of healers and healing, and unconditional love of our self and others.   

Given that it’s been a snowy, cold winter, make springs arrival more welcoming. Nevertheless, come St Patrick’s Day, many will wet the shamrock while others overindulge as their liver takes a beating from Arthur (Guinness) and John (Jameson). Even though St Patrick may not approve of celebrating the holiday in such fashion, but preferring a more conservative approach of honoring Irish heritage in a healthier way. Invariably, St Patrick’s Day is a gold mine for ale houses and taverns, as they prepare for the invading armies of holidays revelers eager to wet the shamrock – from libations to corn beef and cabbage – dancing lissome lasses – shamrocks to shillelaghs and snakes to shenanigans – a green-day indeed, though not as healthy as it should be.
 
Instead of (green) beer, why not green vegetables juice or a wheatgrass juice – they do a body good. If you have incorporated my recommendations for daily juicing, you will notice the healing benefits of juicing as it cleanses and rejuvenates the body. As the body heals, aches and pains diminish and skin looks younger and healthier.  

Nevertheless, if you want to celebrate the holiday in a healthier fashion, instead of stopping by your local bar for a pint of Guinness and a whiskey chaser, stop by your local juice bar and order a large green vegetable juice, adding some Spirulina or Chlorella (super green foods), and chase it down with a shot of wheatgrass. Every cell of your body will thank you for it. This, St Patrick would approve of – Slainte!   

                       Moving Towards Well-Being             

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness  ~   “Proverb”  

Having said before that health is not a destination but a journey; it is a gradual transformation that takes time, depending on the person’s willingness to change. For some people change is difficult, as they let go part of themselves that no longer serves their highest good, an identity that was never who they were in the first place. They realize that their current life situation no longer servers them reaching their goals.  

Nevertheless, our journey to well being is a synergy of many pieces. In my pervious newsletters I covered some of these all ready, such as nutrition and supplementation. Yet there are others: exercise and stress management, our beliefs and perceptions of the world. These are all pieces of a pie chart, and none can exist in isolation. They must be a synergistic mix, that blends all into “One”. This month’s newsletter covers exercise.  

For many people exercise is seen as a chore or a drudge, but is just as vital to our well being as healthy nutrition. If we do not move our body, our muscles atrophy and we lose muscle mass – as we get older this happens more-so, so we want to slow down the process. In addition to losing muscle mass we lose the ability to burn fat, thus making it harder to maintain a healthy body weight. Invariably, daily exercise should part and parcel of a healthy routine.  

Exercise

Before beginning an exercise routine especially if one has not exercised in a while you should:   

  • Make sure you have no cardiovascular disease.
  • Make sure you have no high blood pressure or hidden causes of risk before you start an exercise program.
  • You should check with your physician (preferably cardiologist), to get a clean bill of health before starting.

To get the most out of your exercise routine, you should be exercising at 75% of your max heart rate (MHR). To figure this out, first figure your resting pulse and then your target heart rate.  

Figuring out Your Resting Pulse 

To figure out your resting pulse, first thing after waking up in the morning before getting out of bed, check your pulse by your wrist for one minute, this will give you your resting pulse. Next, you want to figure out your target heart rate using the Karvonen formula.  

Figuring out your Target Heart rate using the Karvonen Formula 

The Karvonen Formula is a mathematical formula that helps you determine your target heart rate. The formula uses your maximum heart rate (MHR) minus your age to come up with a target heart rate range (which is a percentage of your MHR). Staying within this range will help you work most effectively during your cardio workouts. This formula includes an updated calculation of maximum heart rate (the previous formula was 220 -(minus) age, which has now been shown to be inaccurate). To give an example, if your resting pulse was 65 beats per minute, and your age was 40, would go as follows.

The Karvonen Formula:  

206.9 (minus) – (0.67 x 40 (age) = 26.8 minus 206.9) = 180
180(minus) – 65 (resting heart rate) = 115
65% of 115 (low end of heart rate zone) = 75
85% (high end) = 98
75 + 65 (resting heart rate) = 140
98 + 65 (rhr) = 163
the target heart rate zone for this person would be 140 to 163.  

Ideally you should be exercising at 75 % of you maximum heart rate or in this case 151 beats per minutes. 

Daily routine 

You should workout for 25 minutes to 1 hour daily, working up to 6 days a week and one day off.  

  • Begin losening up with 10 minutes of light stretching and at the end of your workout cool down with 10 minutes of stretching – you do not want to stop suddenly.
  • Drink lots of good juices, electrolytes, and be properly hydrated before and after a workout.  

After workout

  • You need a protein powder preferably within a ½ an hour of exercising because the branch chain amino acids (BCAA) go into the cell and expand the protoplasm. A complex carbohydrate like taking brown rice protein drink before an exercise gives you energy, so you got energy to get you through the exercise.
  • As you exercise, you are burning fat, building muscle and enhancing cardio fitness.
  • When starting to exercise especially in regards to running, jogging or power walking, keep it to one single distance for a month, then increase the distance for the next month, and then the next month, and then increase your speed.  Its is not speed that counts, but endurance.
  • Aerobic and cardiovascular conditioning, conditions the muscles gradually – after you finish, take an Epsom salts bath or get a massage.
  • You don’t want to go into a hot shower, hot tub, steam room, because your blood pressure and temperature are up, and it can cause it to go too high, and for some people they may have a stroke.
  • You want a tepid, not hot shower – or cool down before your shower.  

Since there are so many varieties of exercise to choose from, and many people are put off going to gyms, one of the easiest and beneficial exercises to do is power walking. It is an exercise that most people can do regardless of age and is not stressful on the body. Now, with the weather turning warmer, there is a greater incentive to get outside for fresh air and sunshine, while getting healthy.   

Power walking 

It is a low impact exercise that everybody can do, and works all muscles groups, and can be done anywhere you can walk.  

Instructions for Power Walk:   

  • Shoulders relaxed and ears at shoulder
  • Body tilted 5 degrees forward
  • Mouth open – we want more oxygen going into the blood, capillaries and cells to nourish the body.
  • By nutrients and oxygen go into the cells, debris comes out.

By breathing deeply, you get more oxygen into the system and do not tighten up with lactic acid.

Improper breathing causes muscles to tighten up and cramp. Proper breathing is about half the benefit of exercising.  

Arms positions:

  • You want the arms at right angles – not swinging across the chest.
  • The wrist bone should be at the hip bone  

Feet positions: 

  • When you walk, you should land on the heel, and push off from the toe.
  • Power walking is often called “Heel to Toe.”
  • Relax the hips – like Marylyn Monroe or doing the Samba.

To practice power walking, stand in front of the mirror with weights in hand and go through the movements.  

Benefits of power walking:

  • You burn more calories per muscle group than if you were running.
  • Running only exercises leg muscles that develop.
  • With power walking you develop chest, shoulders and back muscles.
  • The arms are the pistons that drive you.  

Other benefits of Power Walking: 

  • Power walking forces calcium into the long bones and prevents osteoporosis – power walking is one of the best preventions for osteoporosis.
  • It stimulates the immune system
  • It detoxifies the body
  • It helps to eliminate a lot of edema
  • Over time it lowers blood pressure & cholesterol
  • Stimulates endorphins which are brain hormones of mood, and it gives you a high mood – you get a walkers high
  • It sustains you for about 6 hours and you feel good

If you would like to ramp-up the tempo from power walking to jogging or running, here are some tips to help you.   

Running Tips

           A good runner leaves no footprints”   – Lao Tzu  

  • Don’t lift your legs too far off the ground when running, as it puts a lot of stress on them.
  • Have your hands by your side, wrist by the hips, and not too much back and forth movement.
  • When running up hills, lean in towards the hill – have your ear by your shoulder, and a 5 degree tilt of the upper body forward,
  • When running, don’t land your foot by the heel on the out side.
  • If you pronate, meaning (when your foot lands on the ground, it goes off the heel and side of foot).
  • If the back of your shoe is worn by the heel, you are pronating, which can cause a lot of injuries – go to a sports podiatrist and have him fit you with an orthotic insert for the shoe, a little cup that holds the foot in place, or buy air cushioned runners, which absorb the shock.
  • Running shoes are good for 700 to 800 miles before you change them.  

In addition, check out this style of running called ChiRunning – watch the video for correct body posture.  

Running Shoes 

When it comes to buying running shoes, it is important to get shoes that support the type of feet your have: Flat Feet, High Arched Feet or Normal Feet. To figure out which type of feet you have, examine your foot print from running in sand or by walking on paper with wet feet. To get a more in-depth understanding of each type of feet, read the following article from About.com.  

Ideally you want shoes that are comfortable, supportive and a good fit. If you are running on hard surfaces, you want shoes that handle the impact of that type of surface. The main thing is not to have painful feet, shin splints or other leg problems, otherwise if not properly addressed can lead to more serious problems down the road.  

New Innovations for Running shoes 

Recently came across an article that noted that most running shoes do not support the foot the way they should. The article further stated that conventional running shoes are a major cause of knee and hip problems.  As quoted from the article entitled, “Do Running Shoes Make Us Run the Risk of Injury“.  

A new musculoskeletal study finds that running with running shoes exerts significantly more stress on key joints than running barefoot, potentially increasing a runner’s risk of developing disabilities such as osteoarthritis in the knees.The key culprit is contemporary running-shoe design, which interferes with the body’s natural ability to absorb forces through the foot, says lead author Casey Kerrigan, who published the study in the journal PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation.”  

The lead author Dr Casey Kerrigan who is an expert in biomechanics, human movement and gait, notes that walking did not produce the same results. However, the study found that wearing running shoes dramatically increased pressure on the lower joints, hip, knee and ankle as opposed to running barefoot. When running barefoot, people typically come down on the heel but quickly roll over to the inside of their foot. “Running shoes typically inhibit your ability to do that,” says Kerrigan.  

Nevertheless, Kerrigan is designing a new type of shoe called the OESH, and hopes to have a women’s walking shoe released in the fall. In addition to Kerrigan the Concord, Mass. based Vibram Company has come out with a shoe that likens to running barefoot called the “FiveFingers” model, which resembles a glove for the foot. The good news is, brighter days lay ahead for runners and sports people alike, as innovative thinkers come up with new ideas to improve our well being.  

Furthering Our Exercise Routine  

In order to maximize our exercise routine, we must exercise every muscle group in the body. In conjunction with aerobic exercise which focuses on the cardiovascular system, we also want to incorporate anaerobic exercise, the most salient being weight training or resistance exercise. As we get older the propensity for muscle mass loss increases, and the ability burn fat wanes. To offset this, we must include in our exercise routine weight or resistance training in conjunction with cardiovascular exercise.  

Weight training instructions  

Do three sets of 10 – 12 repetitions with 60 seconds of rest in between – a total of any given exercise. You will need to increase the reps and sets as you get stronger. When you work out with weights, you break down muscle fibers, which is why you want to give yourself 48 hours for them to recover – as you do this, muscles get bigger and stronger. You can mix your workout routine around – one day work the upper body the next day the lower body.  

Also, try a core exercise workout, which targets the core muscles of the abs and back with some unusual (and often difficult) exercises. These moves involve an exercise ball and a resistance band and require lots of strength, balance and stability, and are geared towards the intermediate or advanced exerciser.  

Of course, there are other exercises one can do such as walking, bicycling, swimming or yoga.  So there are no excuses, since there is an exercise for everyone.  

Conclusion 

Now that we are about to enter spring, its time to get out and about. Is there a better incentive than inhaling the aromas of natures on a fine spring day, as we power-walk, jog or run through our neighborhood. This complements our journey to well-being, one step at a time.                    

Recipe: Jumped Greens  

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings  

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt  

Directions:
    1.  Wash kale, cut stems off and chop into small pieces and put aside. Cut or tear leaves into small pieces.
    2.  Warm oil in pan, add ginger, garlic, and salt to taste. Sauté for one minute.
    3.  Add onion, sauté for a few more minutes.
    4.  Add kale, stir well and then add a splash of water. Cover and allow to cook   for 2-3 minutes.
    5.  Check for desired tenderness and serve.  

                  7 Simple Steps for a Healthy Heart 

                                              D r.  M e r c o l a

Exercise: A MUST for Your Heart  

Exercise not only lowers inflammation in your body, it is also one of the best weapons to fight visceral fat, which again is linked to heart disease. 

Remember, you can be thin, underweight even, and still have dangerous visceral fat around your organs. If you are thin, but rarely exercise, this may be you.  

Exercise can drastically reduce any visceral fat, and quickly too, along with acting as a fountain of youth for your heart, making it metabolically younger, so check out my primary principles of exercise video to get started. Read more….                                                                           

             Memory Can Be Reversed– Just DO This

                                                 Dr  Mercola  
 
Impressive Brain Benefits from Exercise  

In the latest pair of studies to document the positive effects that physical exercise has on brain function, it was found that performing moderate exercise, such as aerobics, yoga and strength training during midlife lead to a 39 percent decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.  

Moderate exercise late in life was associated with a 32 percent lower risk.  

The second study even found that high-intensity aerobic exercise for six months was enough to improve brain function in those already suffering from mild cognitive impairment — without the extra cost and dangerous side effects that occur when drugs are used instead. Read more…         

             8 Ways to Recognize Unsafe and Dangerous Exercises         

Tips for Spotting Risky Exercises:

By Elizabeth Quinn, About.com Guide        

During the 1980s, the fitness industry established exercise safety guidelines in response to the increased number of injuries people were developing as a result of some group exercise classes. These guidelines included a fairly long list of unsafe or “contraindicated” exercises that instructors were told to avoid during classes. Some of those, such as full sit-ups, deadlifts1 and full squats2, still have a bad reputation because of those guidelines. While there were reasons for such caution, today’s fitness professionals are becoming much more sophisticated about exercise recommendations and safety issues. Read more…  

Older Posts »

Categories