Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sitting Is Bad For Your Brain

For this report, UCLA scientists recruited 35 adults ages 45 to 75 and had them detail their physical activity levels, as well as how many hours a day they sat in the previous week. Each study subject also had specialized brain scans zeroing in on a region of the brain, the MTL, critical for memory function. Study subjects who reported the most sitting were significantly more likely to have thinning in their MTL brain regions. 

What's more - this was the case, despite physical activity levels. Meaning, physical activity, even at high levels, may not be enough to fully mitigate the adverse effects of prolonged sitting on brain structure.

My hunch is that as research continues, we will learn that our brains are the most susceptible to the damage that commences when are bodies are not regularly moving. Why? We already know that sitting diminishes blood flow in addition to boosting inflammation. Both are uniquely bad for the brain.   To give you proper perspective on the current evidence, regardless of your weight or health status, if you sit for 7 or more hours a day it increases your risk of chronic diseases on par with being a regular smoker or being obese.  Currently over 50% of our population sits more than 7 hours a day!

Bottom line: To maintain good health you must engage in regular physical activity (just think movement) and avoid prolonged sitting. 

A good rule of thumb is to strive to move, even if it's just standing up for a minute or two of light activity, every 20 minutes.

Ideas for incorporating movement into your day:

~  Consider transitioning to a stand-up desk
~  Take a brisk walk around your office or building when possible 
~  Set a reminder on your phone to stand up every hour and stretch
~  Take the stairs whenever possible
~  Make a commitment to MOVE with coworkers and friends

Mutual accountability increases your likelihood of making it a reality!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Common Hormone Disruptors

It is important to educate both women and men on the importance of reading labels—not just food labels, but beauty and personal care product labels as well. Here’s why: An average woman uses 12 products with more than 168 chemicals in them every morning. Research shows that some of these chemical ingredients are hormone disruptors, which throw our hormones out of balance and trigger a variety of side effects, such as weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, loss of sleep and skin issues. Some may cause cancer.

How Hormone Disruptors Work

Our hormonal system is our endocrine system. It includes our thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include substances in our environment, water, food and personal care products that interfere with the production, transport, breakdown, binding and elimination of hormones. Exposure to these chemicals ultimately affect the balance of the body that could lead to a number of health problems, including weight gain, hypothyroid, infertility, adrenal imbalances, estrogen dominance, lowered sperm counts, obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. This can also affect the skin, the bodies largest organ.

Skin Care Ingredients You Need to Avoid

In the Unites States, skin care products are not well regulated or screened for true safety. While other countries have banned hundreds of ingredients in personal care products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned only 11 ingredients. If you have a thyroid issue or imbalanced cortisol or any endocrine issues, it’s important that you detox now and avoid these ingredients as best as you can.

1. Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake-eyelash adhesives and some shampoos. It has been banned in other countries.

2. Fragrance: Has hormone-disrupting effects. Fragrance is also connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma and allergies. Instead, use products with natural fragrances only.

3. Lead: A known carcinogen and hormone disruptor found in certain eyeliners, hair dye and lipsticks.

4. Mercury: A known irritant and allergen that, with body accumulation over time, can impair the brain and nervous system.

5. Parabens (Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-): Used as preservatives in many products. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 detected parabens in breast tumors and discussed their estrogen-like properties. While this doesn’t create a direct connection with cancer, I recommend avoiding these ingredients.

6. Oxybenzone: An active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cellular damage. I recommend wearing skin-protective clothing and using natural minerals or zinc products.

7. DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines): Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps and topical application. It’s been associated with cancer in animal studies.

8. Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body.

9. Diethylene glycol (or DEG): A central nervous system depressant and potent 
kidney and liver toxin. Sometimes found in fragrances. Glycerin and propylene glycol are sometimes contaminated with DEG, which are common ingredients in personal care products.

Stay Beautiful Inside and Out by Focusing on Nutrition and Detoxification

Aside from checking your beauty-product labels, diet and exercise should play vital roles in your skin care regimen. Exercise keeps nutrient-carrying blood circulating throughout your body, so be sure to feed yourself plenty of nourishing foods, such as healthy fats (omega-3-rich fish oils and flaxseed oils), proteins and colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and dark-green vegetables. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and help your body naturally flush out toxins that might otherwise show up on your skin. Naturally occurring toxins that build up in the body can adversely impact one’s health, hormones, looks and overall well-being.

I also recommend a good cleanse program, such as a purification program, once or twice per year to eliminate inflammation and improve skin tone. A 30-day detox supports the body’s natural toxin-metabolism processes and brings healthy lifestyle habits into focus.

If you are having skin issues or any hormonal imbalance symptoms you should have your hormones tested instead of guessing. The comprehensive hormone panel is an excellent starting place for evaluating hormone function. This panel tests both reproductive (sex) hormones as well as adrenal function. The comprehensive hormone panel will test your hormones—estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol—four times throughout the day. Testing will allow your health care professional to find the best way to balance your hormones.

Remember, if you wouldn’t eat the ingredients, then it shouldn’t be put on your skin!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Health Benefits of Celery

This vegetable is actually loaded with significant amounts of vitamins (A, B, C, K), calcium, magnesium, and potassium. But if celery were to have an elevator pitch, the hook would be its phytonutrients. These chemicals are used by plants to keep insects and damaging sun rays away, but the effects on humans are far more impressive.

Phytonutrients have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, they can enhance the immune system and intracellular communication, and they can repair DNA damage that results from toxins. According to the US Department of Agriculture, consuming phytonutrients on a regular basis has had measurable results as an effective strategy in combating cancer and heart disease.
These long-term health benefits are impressive. But are there any short-term benefits that come with eating celery? Some people have experienced the following benefits after including a portion of celery in their daily diets for only a week!

Weight loss. Celery is low in calories (one stack is only 10-15 calories) and its fiber content of 1.6 grams per cup can put a stop to unhealthy cravings.

Higher levels of hydration. Because celery is 95 percent water, it’s a great way to prevent dehydration when you make it a frequent snack throughout the day.

Anti-inflammatory. If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, adding celery to your diet can help you prevent chronic inflammation (which is a condition that’s closely related to those diseases).

It can stop heartburn and acid reflux. Celery has been recommended as a solution for these conditions because of its low acidity. While more studies need to be done to confirm the effects of celery on heartburn and acid reflux, some people who tried it have reported positive results in the past.

It improves cholesterol and blood pressure levels. A study by the University of Chicago found that a chemical found in celery called phthalide reduced cholesterol levels by 7 percent and blood pressure by 18 percent.

It improves digestion. People who suffer from stomach problems and constipation know the importance of including fiber in their diet. Celery’s fiber content can help keep your bowel movements healthy, among other things.

It can reduce the risk of diseases related to the stomach lining. Studies have found that the antioxidants in celery can reduce gastric ulcers and the risk of gastritis.

It might be an aphrodisiac. Celery contains a high level of the male pheromones, androstenone, and androstenol. Some people believe that eating celery can increase the perceived level of attractiveness of the men who consume it.

It can keep your eyes healthy. Vitamin A, one of the main vitamins found in celery, is known as a vitamin capable of protecting the cornea. This vitamin is also effective in treating dry eyes.

It has a soothing effect. The magnesium in celery is known to have a relaxing effect in the nervous system. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once wrote that celery should be used to calm the nerves and for falling asleep. It’s also been historically used to treat disorders related to the nervous system.

It can regulate the alkaline balance of your body. Because of its low acidity, celery can help you stabilize the PH levels in your body and stop acidic buildup.

Mosquito repellant. You’ve probably heard your own grandmother preach about celery as a mosquito repellant. Studies have now shown that celery oil extract rubbed on the skin works effectively as a mosquito repellant.

UTI treatment. In some places around the world, celery is a common and effective way to treat UTIs. Celery has a diuretic effect, so it helps you expel water without losing too much potassium.

It can boost male fertility. In combination with Vitamin E, celery has been found to increase a man’s sperm count. Aldosterone, the male hormone we discussed earlier as having aphrodisiac properties, also creates a healthy environment for sperm to mature.

Now that you know celery is more than a snack full of water and some fiber, try including it in your daily diet! You might just be able to see results within just a week of doing it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

What To Know: Yoga For Beginners

Are you new to yoga? A new survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal reports that the number of Americans doing yoga has grown by over 50% in the last four years to more than 36 million as of 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. 

More than a third of Americans say they are very likely to try yoga in the next year.  

If you are brand new to yoga make sure:

¬ You arrive at least 20 minutes before the class. 
¬ Fill out forms online, if possible
¬ Go to the studio website and read policies for the studio (such as cancellation policy, mat rentals)
¬ Try speaking to the instructor to let him know that you are new to yoga
¬ Tell the instructor of any injuries you have

If you want to get started with yoga, here is an easy guide:

1. Yoga is more than physical activity.
The practice of yoga dates back more than 2,500 years and encompasses deep philosophy and promotes self-awareness, strength, perseverance, compassion, patience and love.  With yoga, you connect your mind and your body, breathing and movement.  If you want to gain the full benefits, don’t reduce it to being just a way to get a six-pack or a tighter butt.  Make sure you see the bigger picture.  

2. Be positive and set realistic goals
With anything, at first it may seem challenging and impossible to do.  The physical postures might be difficult, and you may ask yourself why you would want to put yourself in uncomfortable poses.  Even if you thought you were in good shape before beginning, you might be aching for days because you are engaging muscles you are not used to using.  You might want to give up, but be patient with yourself. Make sure you dedicate specific days and times to practice yoga and stick to it.  

3. Find a studio where you feel engaged and comfortable.
Being a part of a community of like-minded people will help you commit and show up.  During your first week or two visit a variety of classes with different teachers and allow yourself the opportunity to find a class and teacher that will inspire and motivate you.  

4. Choose a yoga mat.
There are a lot of mats out there, however many of them will be slippery once you start to sweat, or they don’t provide sufficient padding.  Aperion Yoga mats ($97) are colorful and fun, but also functional and durable as well.  The mats are sweat activated, non-slip made of eco-friendly, recyclable, 100% biodegradable odor-less natural tree rubber. Aperio, which is derived form the Greek word “limitless” was created by Adam Binder, who discovered a downfall of rubber yoga mats was sweat.  Rubber mats became slippery and dangerous when wet.  On top of that, many mats lacked originality and design.  Binder then set out on a mission to create slip-proof, well-designed yoga mats that express individuality.  

5. Be inquisitive about your poses.  
Ask questions if it’s appropriate in class or wait until afterwards to connect with your teacher.  If you are not sure about a certain pose, take the time to ask questions and learn.  This will help prevent injuries from occurring, and it will also help you learn more about the strength of your own body.  Yoga is a practice, and it is always changing.  One day you might feel great and masterful in a pose and the next day, you might feel defeated and tired.  Yoga is about flexibility – don’t be judgmental and hard on yourself. 

6. Do research.
Go on the internet or read introductory yoga books to lean more.  Yoga can lead to other outlets that engage mindfulness, such as meditation. Just Sit: A meditation Guide Book For People Who Know they Should But Don’t, by Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz is perfect for people who’s schedule or skepticism has kept them from trying meditation.  It is an approachable and visually engaging beginner’s guide for anyone who needs to de-stress and relax.  This playfully illustrated and informative read includes and eight-week plan for busy novices to help keep on track and incorporate meditation daily into their lifestyle in order to enjoy its many physical and emotional benefits. 

7. Have fun
Don’t take yoga too seriously.  A great idea might be to recruit and friend and commit to a weekly class.  This way you can support each other.