Category: Recharge Your Health

Can’t Sleep? Check Your Diet!

Can’t Sleep? Check Your Diet!

Inadequate and poor quality sleep can contribute to the development of chronic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. What we need is sufficient and uninterrupted time in slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement sleep (REM). During slow-wave sleep there is an extra boost in growth hormone.

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How to Diffuse Your Body’s Time Bomb

The adage, “a time for everything and everything on time,” is also an excellent health tip. How does following a regular schedule help us? Circadian rhythms are the 24-hour, day-night cycles that impact the efficiency of our biological processes occurring in our cells, tissues, and organs. Not only do we have 24-hour rhythms; we have 12-hours rhythms as well. Aging disturbs our circadian rhythm and body clocks.

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Contrast Baths for Pain Relief

Do you have arthritis, a sprain, or a broken arm? This treatment could help relieve your pain! Hydrotherapy is the use of water for the treatment of trauma and disease. A contrast bath involves immersing the joint in, and alternating between, hot and cold water. Because heat dilates the blood vessels and cold causes them to get smaller (vasoconstriction), this hydrotherapy treatment helps to increase blood flow in the immersed area, thereby accelerating recovery in the muscles from strenuous exercise.

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Twelve Lifestyle Tips for Vibrant Skin

The skin is a vital organ. Indeed, with a total area of about 20 square feet, it is the largest organ of our bodies. We cannot live without it. One square inch of  skin is composed of 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 90 oil glands, 65 hair follicles, 19,000 sensory cells, and 4 meters of blood vessels. The skin protects, provides immunity, excretes, breathes, and is involved in thermal balance. The outer part of the epidermis helps maintain fluid balance. How can we keep it healthy and slow down its aging?

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Boost Your Opportunities for Happiness

Happiness improves health. The effect of happiness on longevity is comparable to the benefits of not smoking. Happiness does not extend the length of life in seriously ill people but it increases longevity in healthy individuals.

Happiness & Responses to Stress Events

Genuine happiness can protect us from some of the detrimental effects that the sympathetic nervous system and stress, in general, have on our cardiovascular system.  The sympathetic nervous system is activated under situations that produce a fright, flight, or fight response in us. In individuals who are obese or have high blood pressure, the sympathetic nervous system is overactive.

Dr. A. Steptoe and associates collected data from middle-aged men and women. They found that independent of age, socioeconomic status, smoking, body mass, and psychological distress, happy individuals had lower salivary cortisol, both on working and nonworking days, reduced fibrinogen and stress responses, and in men, a lower ambulatory heart rate. Happiness was inversely related to ambulatory systolic blood pressure on follow-up. In other words, happiness can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and the risk for clotting, slow the heart rate, promote better nourishment of the heart muscle, and help to protect us from high blood pressure.

One study of 286 adolescents found that teenagers who had more feelings of happiness had fewer psychopathological symptoms, fewer behavioral problems, better academics, high social adaptation, high self-concept/self-esteem, many cooperative behaviors, many appropriate social skills, and few negative social skills (inappropriate assertiveness, impulsiveness, jealousy-withdrawal).

How to Improve Your Opportunities for Happiness

Recognize that to Very Large Degree, Happiness is an Achievement.

Health and happiness depend upon the harmonious development of our physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of our being. Not as happy as you want to be? Check the balance in your life and restructure your schedule for the development of the whole person you are. If you are heavily engaged in sedentary pursuits and are not taking time to exercise or cook healthfully, figure out how to incorporate those activities into your daily schedule. We need to nurture different aspects of our being, to grow in truth and happiness.

Don’t Pursue Happiness — Have Realistic Expectations.

Happiness is often a byproduct. To be self-absorbed with one’s own pursuit of happiness is counterproductive. People who strive for happiness may end up worse off than when they started. Expectations that these things ought to make you happy can lead to disappointment and decreased happiness. Having healthy social relationships is the strongest predictor of happiness when compared to money or external recognition achieved by fame or success.

Wisely Invest in Others — Cultivate Acts of Kindness.

Helping others in judicious and balanced ways can yield big dividends in happiness. Before the age of two, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves. Altruistic (other-regarding) emotions and behaviors are associated with greater wellbeing, health, and longevity.

Cultivate Trust.

Sure, we are to be careful, but being suspicious of everyone demoralizes us. The trust hormone oxytocin seems to be involved in a sense of wellbeing and is associated with happiness. Women who show large increases in oxytocin when they are trusted, also report being more satisfied with life and less depressed. During one study women were given a gift of $24 from a stranger. Women who showed the greatest increases in oxytocin after receiving the gift were more satisfied with their lives, showed greater resilience to adverse events, and were less likely to be depressed.

Cultivate Self-Control in All Aspects of Your Life.

“Self-control is the capacity to alter and regulate predominant response tendencies resulting in the inhibition of undesirable behaviors while promoting desirable ones to support the pursuit of long-term goals.” Self-disciplined people are happier. Self-control enables us to manage competing goals. An observational study assessed 414 middle-aged participants on self-control and asked them about their life satisfaction both currently and in the past. The researchers found a strong connection between higher levels of self-control and life satisfaction.

Focus on Positive Gains.

Another study found that happy individuals focus more on positive gains than avoiding losses.

Exercise Regularly.

Data from 15 countries revealed that increasing physical activity volume was associated with higher levels of happiness..Physical activity volume is the product of frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise.

Engage in Green Therapy.

Green exercise is a winner. Just 5 minutes of walking, cycling, or gardening in a green environment improves the mood and promotes mental health. A review of 11 studies showed that compared to exercise indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of rejuvenation and increased energy. Participants who exercised outdoors also experienced less tension, confusion, anger, and depression. They reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.

Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress, and enhanced mental health and well-being.

Berman and associates showed that participants with clinical depression demonstrated improved memory performance after a 60 minute walk in a wooded park, compared to a walk in a busy urban environment. Walking for an hour in both environments improved mood.

Cultivate Spirituality.

Johnstone studied 200 individuals and the effects of their religious beliefs on their health income. There were two groups in this study: those who had positive religious beliefs were compared to those who had negative religious beliefs. Negative religious beliefs sabotage mental health and happiness. Examples of negative spirituality: blaming karma for pain, or believing that experiencing pain means God has forsaken one, or believing that if they don’t do a job correctly, God is angry with them. Having any degree of negative spiritual belief contributed to poorer health outcomes. Also, individuals who held to them reported more pain than those who held positive beliefs. Individuals with negative spiritual beliefs also reported participating in religious practices less frequently and having lower levels of positive spirituality and forgiveness. This same study showed that when people firmly believed God loves and forgives them, despite their shortcomings, they had significantly better mental health.

However, believing in a loving God and engaging in meaningful worship and prayer promote health. Another study revealed that individuals who practice religion and spirituality reported better physical and mental health than those who did not. Without good mental health, happiness is almost impossible to achieve. Practicing religion or spirituality may help buffer the negative consequences of chronic health conditions. A study found that for women, mental health is associated with daily spiritual experiences, forgiveness, and religious/spiritual coping.

Maximize Your Energy

Don’t have enough energy? Check out your power plants! Inside all cells are power generators called mitochondria.  They take the glucose we get from eating carbohydrates or the fatty acids we obtain from eating fats and very economically produce ATP, the major energy currency molecule in the body. How can we increase their efficiency?

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How 5 or 10 Minutes Can Improve Your Health

If you are sedentary, a 5 minute exercise break every 2 to 3 hours helps to reverse the negative effects of sitting. (1) Sitting for long periods of time is associated with risk factors such as higher cholesterol levels and greater waist circumferences that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Prolonged sitting substantially reduces the blood flow to the legs and increases your risk for the undesirable clot formation.

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