The Many Wonders and Uses of Turmeric and Curcumin

This golden spice has received a lot of hype and for good reason. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a well-known antioxidant that supports many important systems of the body. These include helping to regulate the immune system and healthy inflammatory responses, the development of new cells, cardiovascular health, temporary relief from occasional pain, the regulation of blood sugar levels, and brain health during normal aging. An important side note is that a compound in black pepper has been found to exponentially increase the absorption rate and effects of turmeric. It is recommended to incorporate some black pepper with the consumption of turmeric.

Here a few different ways to try to integrate turmeric into the diet:

Overall, those are just a few ideas but there are many different ways to take turmeric while still reaping the numerous benefits.

Resources:

https://wellnessmama.com/5297/turmeric-uses/

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/32/8155#ref-2

https://www.thekitchn.com/7-ways-to-eat-drink-turmeric-198696

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/home-remedies-are-there-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

The Mind and Body Approach to Nourishing the Brain

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the brain is the most vital organ in the body. The brain allows us to think, process emotions, connect with our five senses, and make memories. The brain is one of the most complex organs, but it plays a huge role in what classifies us as humans. That is why it is imperative to actively work towards nourishing this essential organ.

Starting with the mind approach, mindfulness can give the brain a much needed break. Things like doing a digital detox for a day can help us detach from the virtual world and be more present. It can help us to focus on what we have in life without feeling the need to compare social status, wealth, or experiences with others. Starting a mindfulness journal can help with organizing thoughts and expressing gratitude. Writing down a list of tasks can also help quiet the mind so that it becomes easier to tackle one thing at a time. Diffusing stress-relieving essential oils, meditating, taking a walk, going to the gym, solving puzzles, or reading books can help distract the mind while simultaneously providing it calming benefits.

As for the body approach, it is crucial to start with a balanced diet to ensure that the brain is getting all the nutrients it needs. Reducing added sugars and an excess carbohydrate intake can be the first step. The second step is to replenish the microbiome with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods. The third step is to incorporate healthy fats and antioxidants to help combat the negative effects that stress may have on the body. Foods like dark chocolate, nuts, oily fish, berries, and green tea can have extremely favorable results.  

In conclusion, it is vital to protect the brain against stress and aging. As with every disease, prevention is key and conscious steps should be taken towards supporting optimal brain health.

Resources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044.php

https://www.princetonbrainandspine.com/resources/learning-center/brain-anatomy/

Feeding the Gut with Fermented Foods

Many of us are aware of gut-nourishing foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha because they are supposed to be very good for our health. What exactly do all of these foods have in common? All of them are fermented.

Fermented foods are known for their ability to support digestion, the absorption of nutrients, cognitive function, a healthy tissue response, a healthy inflammation response, and help to balance the microbiome. Essentially, fermented foods give the body a much needed dose of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. These crucial microorganisms can function as adaptogens and ward off any harmful bacteria that may negatively affect the gut or immune system. Almost eighty percent of the immune system is located in the gut which means that an overloaded gut can promote a weakened defense system in the body. It has also been found that gut-related issues can cause an increased risk of many other diseases like neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, allergies, and digestive issues.

Fermented foods can be a little pricey but things like kombucha and kefir can be made at home with the help of a starter kit. The health benefits of fermentation can also be obtained through fermented supplements from New Chapter. They have fermented turmeric, maca, or aloe booster powders that can be added to smoothies, juices, or milk in order to disguise the taste but still receive the benefits of fermentation. An affordable option would also be to make some kind of fermented vegetables at home. A recipe for making fermented carrots with dill can be found at The Real Food Dieticians.

All in all, incorporating fermented foods is only one of the first steps that should be taken towards obtaining optimal gut-health. Checking for allergies, drinking water, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating healthier, and adding a prebiotic source are all equally as crucial.

Resources:

https://therealfoodrds.com/fermented-carrots-dill/

https://wellnessmama.com/2245/fermented-food-benefits/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-fermented-foods-1945004

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_2/current-articles/Discover-the-Digestive-Benefits-of-Fermented-Foods_1383-1.html

https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/article/gut-bacteria-and-brains-how-microbiome-affects-alzheimers-disease

The Effects of Collagen on the GI Tract

Collagen has received a lot of hype lately. As many individuals become more conscious of gut-health, they realize that collagen might be a key ingredient to solving issues related to the microbiome. The good news is that scientific research suggests that the synthesis of collagen is crucial for supporting the health of the intestinal lining. This means that collagen and gut-health are correlated, and you may be able to aid symptoms negative with collagen supplements.

Collagen contains two essential amino acids, glycine and proline. These two amino acids have a profound impact on the central nervous system and may help to ease the negative effects of stress-induced digestive problems. Collagen may also help with heartburn, stomach, ulcers, and digestive problems since it helps to relegate the production and secretion of stomach acid.

Moving on, it may help to support the growth and development of cells in the lining of the intestinal tract. How does it aid in digestion? Collagen is hydrophilic in nature, which means it attracts water and acidic molecules. When taken as a powder or supplement, collagen surrounds itself with water and stomach acid as it makes its way through the GI tract. This helps it breakdown whatever food that might be sitting in the tract. As for repairing the stomach lining, it can help with this task by promoting the production of smooth muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells are produced in the gut in order to help repair the damage that may have been a byproduct of excess inflammation.

Collagen can be found in a capsule or as a powder. Nordic Naturals makes a “Strawberry Marine Collagen Powder” which can disguise the taste. Nordic Naturals is also third party tested which ensures that an independent organization has determined if the product is up to standards.

Resources:

Eating for Gut-Health

There is a common saying that goes something like “you are what you eat.” Scientifically speaking, that statement holds some truth. A healthy gut starts with what is put into the body. It is crucial to remove anything that could do more harm than good, and then to incorporate nutrients the gut microbiome needs to thrive.

It is important to see how the body reacts to each food that is consumed. Looking out for reactions to the typical allergens like dairy, gluten, soy, corn, lectins, sugars, eggs, and nightshade vegetables can be the first step. Many individuals have a hard time digesting dairy and gluten as this can lead to bloating, gas, and lethargy.

Soy and corn-based foods are one of the most controversial things out there. Soy and corn grown on certain farms may contain pesticides that contain glyphosate. Glyphosate has been found to cause leaky gut and can even prevent the body from absorbing amino acids that are vital to the body.

Lectins and sugars disrupt the gut flora and can contribute to inflammation. This inflammation may trigger an autoimmune response where the body ends up attacking itself.

Eggs and nightshade vegetables do not always cause problems, but they can. Eggs can cause problems if the hens are fed corn or soy-based diets. It is important to buy organic, cage-free, and free-range eggs whenever possible as this mimics the natural diet that hens are supposed to eat.

As for nightshade, they often contain lectins and sugar-binding proteins which can be the root of the problem.

Once steps are taken to avoid unnecessary triggers, it is time to add nutrients that benefit the microbiome. This should include natural prebiotic sources like sweet potatoes, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant-based proteins, organic eggs, and wild-caught fish. Probiotics should also be added in order to replenish the body with good bacteria. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha are able to kill off pathogens but it can never hurt to take an extra probiotic supplement with multiple strains.  

Resources:

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-best-and-worst-foods-for-gut-health

Oil-Cleansing for Clearer Complexions

Cleansing the face or body with oil? That sounds pretty counterproductive, right? It actually is not. Many brands on the market advertise their products as “mattifying” or “antibacterial,” but the truth is that these claims can cause the skin to flare up. These products strip the skin of natural oils which then causes the skin to overcorrect by creating even more oil.

The oil-cleansing method runs on the principle that “like dissolves like.” That also means that the oil our skin naturally produces is only to protect, heal, and nourish the skin. Applying more oil can gently get rid of impurities or makeup by dissolving whatever may be on the skin. This reduces the amount of irritation and flare ups caused by harsher products.

The oil-cleansing method should be done in the evenings as the goal is to dissolve any grime that may have accumulated from the day. It is important to not overdo this method by doing it morning and night as that can result in irritation. More detailed steps on how to oil-cleanse can be found here.

Cleansing oil should target specific skin types. For example, 30% castor oil and 70% sunflower oil can be used for oily skin. 60% avocado oil, 30% sunflower oil, and 10% castor oil can be used for dry skin. 80% sunflower oil and 20% castor oil can be used for normal skin. The oil mixture can be bought or made at home. It ultimately depends on the individual but purchasing a premade mixture can be a little more convenient and less time-consuming. The Nourishing Rose Cleansing Oil from Derma E incorporates argan and jojoba oils in order to gently wipe away impurities while providing antioxidants and moisture.

Some general advice is to start nice and slow to see how the skin reacts. It may take time for the skin to adjust and proportions may need to be adjusted even more according to skin type.

Resources:

Caring for the Mind with Passion Flower

Within the past few years, attention has shifted to natural alternatives for symptoms that would normally be treated through allopathic medications. Many individuals prefer going the natural route first to avoid any long-term side effects. With that being said, there has been a spotlight on natural alternatives to help with ailments like insomnia and anxiety. Individuals know that supplements like melatonin, magnesium, theanine, ashwagandha, and fish oil can help with both of these problems. However, many have not heard about passion flower, so this post will introduce the benefits of this supplement.

Let’s start out with a fun fact. Passion flowers are extremely distinctive since they literally only bloom for one day once a year. This reveals a fruit that can be taken as a supplement or as a tea, tincture, capsule, or herbal blend. It has been researched and concluded that passion flower has a synergistic effect when combined with other natural things like lemon balm, valerian, and kava.

The benefits of this flower include aiding with anxiety, relaxation, sleep, and potentially helping with withdrawal symptoms. According to one study, passion flower can significantly reduce the amount of anxiety individuals face without causing any cognitive impairment. It can be administered for a variety of things such as nervous anxiety, hysteria, restlessness, and irritability. The study found crucial information about passion flower containing a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is ultimately responsible for the communication happening between the brain and the nervous system. Low amounts of GABA can cause depression, anxiety, and insomnia so it is vital to replenish if a deficiency is suspected.

As with everything, exercise caution before trying new combinations of supplementation.

Resources:

https://www.byrdie.com/vitamins-for-anxiety/slide8

An Introduction to Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The word “inflammation” is tossed around a lot these days. There are many products that are advertised as being “anti-inflammatory” but let’s start off with the basics. What exactly is inflammation? Inflammation is the way the body responds to an irritant. It can be a response to bacteria, fungi, viruses, chemicals, and external or internal injuries. That essentially means that a healthy amount of inflammation is good and can protect the body from nuisances. However, as with everything, an excess amount is never good and balance is key.

What does it feel like when the body is overloaded with an overactive inflammatory response? Many individuals often feel exhausted, feverish, and have blood work results that are all over the place. This tends to be because there is an imbalance in the body and the immune system starts to work extra hard.

It has been found that the root cause of many diseases is inflammation. Ailments like inflammatory bowel diseases, skin conditions, thyroid problems, and arthritis all trace back to the body creating an inflammatory response in excess.

What can be done to naturally reduce excess inflammation? Foods and supplements can provide an excellent defense system. Vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, avocados, peppers, and mushrooms should be incorporated into diets. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tart cherries, and oranges provide useful properties. Nuts like walnuts and almonds can also be beneficial. Healthy fats from fatty fish can provide omega-3 fatty acids that can help to regulate a healthy inflammation response, neurological processes, and immune and cardiovascular health. Supplements like cod liver oil from Nordic Naturals may provide optimal amounts of omega-3 fatty acids while simultaneously providing crucial amounts of vitamin A and D.  

Moving on, it is important to recognize that foods like soda, red meat, and refined carbohydrates can also trigger inflammatory responses in the body and should be avoided in large amounts.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation

Benefits of Different Kinds of Tea

Individuals of all cultures enjoy tea. It is seen as something that is therapeutic and calming all across the world. They can have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. There are many different kinds of tea and each kind has a unique set of benefits but they all tend to have a high antioxidant content.

The first tea is white tea. It is made from the unopened buds of the tea plant. It is minimally processed and the purest. The buds are simply dried and packaged. This form of tea has a pale-yellow color and a mild taste. The benefits range from a high dose of polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants. It has been suggested that it can have antibacterial effects, lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL), protect the skin, and reduce the risk of cavities.

The second tea is green tea. This type of tea is known for having high and extremely beneficial amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This compound can boost metabolism, combat age related problems, improve skin, protect the brain, reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, decrease inflammation, and even protect against cancer growth. There are many different kinds of green tea but matcha is the most popular. It has the most amount of EGCG and defeats all other kinds of fruits and vegetables in the number of antioxidants it contains. Matcha contains caffeine but it also has an amino acid called L-Theanine. This balances it out and allows the body to experience the effects of caffeine without the jittery feeling. It allows the brain to stay balanced but more alert.

The third tea is black tea. Black tea is typically made from withering leaves, is oxidized, and has more caffeine than any other kind of tea. The taste is stronger, but it can be prepared in many different ways. This kind of tea is the best for individuals who want the higher levels of caffeine but still want the health benefits as well. It contains the tannins, catechins, and polyphenols that can boost the immune system and fight against many inflammatory diseases.

Each tea is prepared in a different way and has a distinct taste but each one has beneficial and healing properties. This is why it is recommended to incorporate tea into a self-care routine.

Resources:

https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-tea-benefits-765048

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-healthiest-types-of-tea

https://www.thespruceeats.com/white-tea-and-its-health-benefits-4065219

Natural Nail Care

As touched upon in many of the blog posts, it is best to go natural whenever possible. It is recommended to avoid exposure to unnecessary chemical and additives. Many individuals have become aware that many of the products in the beauty industry are full of chemicals. The good news is that there are more natural alternatives with less toxic ingredients.

Here are some basic tips for stronger and healthier nails:

  • Avoid cutting cuticles.
    • Many dermatologists frown upon messing with the cuticles as the cuticles act as a barrier to bacteria and fungus. It is important to keep the nail bed protected.
  • Try to not use nail hardeners.
    • It has become a fact that nail hardeners are usually filled with excess chemicals and can make the nails even more fragile once it is taken off.
  • Moisturize the nails and cuticles with a cuticle oil.
    • This can reduce the chances of breakage.
  • Take a biotin supplement.
    • It has been studied and results shows that biotin can increase nail thickness and prevent it from fragilely breaking.
  • Try to avoid getting too many manicures.
    • A study concluded that individuals that got manicures regularly suffered from fragile, weak, and broken nails more often. They became dependent on getting manicures. The study believed that this was due to all the harsh chemicals and shared tools.
  • Avoid acetone-based nail polish removers and nail polishes with harsh chemicals.
    • Acetone-based nail polish removers do work but they literally strip the nail and lead to nails becoming delicate. Zoya is the number one brand in making nail polishes and nail polish removers without the harsh chemicals like toluene.   
  • Avoid rough emery boards and limit the amount of hand washing.
    • Emery boards used at professional manicure places often are too rough and can cause tiny fissures. It is necessary to wash hands to prevent spreading germs but is it also important to moisturize afterwards so that the nail bed does not become frail.

Resources:

https://www.nhc.com/zoya

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/more-beautiful-nails-a-dozen-tips#1

Natural Hair Care

The harsh winter weather is notorious for drying out hair. There are many hair products available, but the problem is that a lot of them use ingredients that do not actually repair hair. There are a few natural solutions for these problems.

The first is to make sure that the body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs from either food sources or supplementation. Vitamin A is essential for all cell growth. B vitamins are responsible for bringing oxygen to the scalp and hair loss can become a serious problem if there are not enough B vitamins in the body. Biotin can be effective as a hair growth treatment as a deficiency can cause hair loss. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that blocks free radical damage and vitamin D can help generate new follicles. Vitamin E is responsible for preventing oxidative stress and iron brings oxygen and blood flow to the scalp.

The second is to nourish the hair with all-natural hair masks as it is best to avoid putting chemicals on the hair whenever possible. Here are a few hair masks listed below.

  • Clarifying Hair Treatment:
    • 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
    • 1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
    • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Extra Conditioning/Repairing:
    • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • Hair Growth:
    • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
    • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Dandruff Treatment:
    • Coconut Oil
    • Lemon Juice
  • Hair Growth:
    • Coconut Oil
    • Aloe Vera
  • Hair Repair:
    • Coconut Oil
    • Egg

As for why some of these ingredients work:

Coconut Oil –

Coconuts are very rich in healthy fats, so coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft to keep it strong, healthy, and soft. It can prevent breakage and nourish the scalp. Nourishing the scalp can lead to hair growth.

Honey –

Honey is known for being a humectant. This means it retains moisture and provides nourishment. It can also smooth the hair shaft and make hair appear shinier.

Cinnamon –

Cinnamon will help tackle hair loss and dandruff since it has antimicrobial properties. It also is very powerful and can stimulate hair growth by bringing blood flow to the follicles.

Lemons –

Lemons are a holy grail for oily scalps. They are acidic in nature, have antifungal properties, and will clean the scalp of any impurities.

Eggs –

Eggs are known to be a rich source of vitamins, protein, and fatty acids. All three are necessary for healthy hair growth.

The third is to make sure that a shampoo without harsh chemicals is used. The harsh chemicals can strip the hair of shine and can leave hair looking lifeless. Andalou Naturals makes many different kinds of shampoos that are tailored to different hair types.

Resources:

https://www.nhc.com/andalou-naturals

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-vitamins-hair-growth

https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-apply-coconut-oil-to-hair/slide3

https://www.luxyhair.com/blogs/hair-blog/7-diy-hair-masks-we-know-youll-love

The Gut Microbiome

Many of us fail to realize that numerous symptoms we may experience stem from the gut microbiome. Indigestion problems, headaches, anxiety, joint pain, skin issues, allergies, and weight gain can all be signs of a gut imbalance.

As touched upon in the “Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection” post, there is most definitely a connection between stress, gut imbalances, and mood. With that being said, facing stress is almost inevitable so it is extremely important to prevent harm to the microbiome. The microbiome is very fragile and requires frequent maintenance since everyday things like eating processed food, aging, traveling, becoming ill, drinking, taking pharmaceutical medications, and chronic stress can all affect the delicate system.

Things like eating well, exercising, sleeping enough, replenishing good bacteria, and taking care of digestive issues can help protect the microbiome. Nutrition plays an essential role as many vitamins like vitamin K and vitamin B are made and absorbed by the gut. Vitamin K is crucial for bone health and blood coagulation while vitamin B is necessary for brain and heart health. It is recommended to avoid processed foods and to consume foods rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. This can help take some of the burden off of the body.

Exercising and sleeping well are always important to optimal health. Many recent studies have concluded that exercise can boost the amount of useful microbial species and encourage more microflora diversity. As for sleep, it is known that the microbiome communicates with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in order to regulate sleep. That also means that a damaged microbiome can negatively affect sleep which can lead to other problems.

It is especially important to replenish the body with good bacteria after being on medications like antibiotics or undergoing immense amounts of stress. Probiotics can be an easy fix, but it is very important to get a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria. The more diverse it is, the more beneficial it is. Moving on, solving indigestion issues can also take the stress off of the gut and can allow the microbiome to thrive. Things like probiotics, Blessed Thistle, and glutamine can aid digestion problems.

Overall, protecting the gut is key to preventing many unwanted symptoms or illnesses. It can be a challenge but should be made a top priority.

Resources:

https://www.nhc.com/blessed-thistle

https://wellnessmama.com/375/blessed-thistle/

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2046001

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357536/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259177/

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/blessed-thistle/profile

A Natural Alternative to Conventional Toxic Candles

Many individuals are not aware of the toxins that go into making conventional candles. This might be because a lot of us are attracted to the amazing and different smells they give off. We tend to not think of what goes into making those different smells.

The problem is that a lot of candles are made from paraffin wax. Paraffin wax turns into two extremely toxic carcinogens when they are burnt, benzene and toluene. There are various other potent and powerful toxins that are found in candles. Not only that, it has been found that most of the wicks contain heavy metals. This means that burning candles for a few hours can lead to airborne heavy metals. All of that affects the air that we breathe in and can make it harder for sensitive groups to breathe properly.

There are natural alternatives that are made out of either soy or beeswax. Beeswax candles are very efficient at neutralizing pollutants since they produce negative ions as they burn, and those negative ions attract any irritants that might be floating in the air. It can help get rid of mold, airborne allergies, dust, and odors. Another benefit is that toxic byproducts or heavy soot are not produced as these candles are burned. This ensures that the air is not contaminated with carcinogens.

Just like with beeswax, soy candles do not produce the byproducts that paraffin wax candles do. This makes soy candles non-toxic and they tend to have a longer burn time. They burn cleaner and have a stronger scent. The only thing downside would be that they do not have the air purifying qualities the way that beeswax does.

Overall, it is important to be conscious of what is going into the air that we breathe in as poor air quality can lead to a decline in health and wellness.   

Resources:

https://wellnessmama.com/22656/dont-use-scented-candles/

https://candles.lovetoknow.com/Beeswax_Candle_Health_Benefits

Recharging with Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that may provide a medicinal benefit when diffused into the air or applied to the skin. They are extremely potent, and it is important to remember that a little can go a long way. There are several different uses for essential oils and each specific kind has its own set of benefits or recommended uses. The benefits can range from improving sleep quality, reducing anxiety, promoting energy, to reducing pain or inflammation. This post will focus on how to use essential oils to ensure deep, rejuvenating sleep.

Moving on, it is important to point out a common misconception. It is often believed that essential oils are always natural and generally harmless. This is untrue. First, some oils may contain synthetic ingredients, fillers, or fragrances; avoid these and look for brands that only sell blends that are 100% pure. Second, these oils are very strong and should always be diluted with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Essential oils actually work better after being diluted as the carrier oil makes it harder for the essential oil molecules to evaporate. Carrier oils like olive oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, and almond oil are neutral and thicker bases.

To promote restful sleep, the most common essential oils are lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang, and neroli. Lavender is the most popular one as it is known to promote sleepiness and have anxiolytic effects. There has been evidence-based research done on the sedative effects of lavender oil. Here are some common essential oil mixes for peaceful sleep:

  • Blissful Sleep:
    • 3 drops of Lavender
    • 3 drops of Cedarwood
    • 3 drops of Wild Orange
    • 2 drops of Marjoram
  • Great REM Sleep:
    • 2 drops of Bergamot
    • 2 drops of Cedarwood
  • Calm Deep Sleep:
    • 3 drops of Clary Sage
    • 2 drops of Bergamot
    • 2 drops of Cypress
  • Sleep Tight:
    • 5 drops of Cedarwood
    • 3 drops of Orange
  • Heavenly Dreams:
    • 3 drops of Lemongrass
    • 3 drops of Vetiver
    • 1 drop of Ylang-Ylang
  • Nighty Night:
    • 3 drops of Cedarwood
    • 3 drops of Eucalyptus
    • 3 drops of Frankincense
    • 3 drops of Orange
  • Lights Out:
    • 2 drops of Lavender
    • 2 drops of Cedarwood
    • 2 drops of Vetiver
    • 2 drops of Ylang-Ylang
  • Serene Sleep:
    • 4 drops of Lavender
    • 4 drops of Bergamot
    • 3 drops of Frankincense
    • 2 drops of Juniper
  • Drifting Off:
    • 4 drops of Lavender
    • 3 drops of Jasmine
    • 3 drops of Sandalwood
    • 2 drops of Cypress
  • Effortless Sleep:
    • 6 drops of Lavender
    • 6 drops of Cedarwood
    • 6 drops of Frankincense
    • 4 drops of Eucalyptus

These ten mixtures can either be diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed onto the skin, used in a diffuser, added to an Epsom salt bath, or made into a “pillow spray” mist. To make the pillow spray mist, diluted with water, add to a spray bottle, and spritz onto the pillow or even the air right before sleeping.

As for purchasing essential oils, Plant Therapy is one of the most common and well-known brands.

Resources:

https://www.diffuserblends.com

https://thethirty.byrdie.com/essential-oils-guide

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/plant-therapy.html

https://www.thesleepdoctor.com/2018/06/12/7-essential-oils-for-relaxation-and-better-sleep/

The Importance of Green Cleaning

Many individuals have become more conscious of the things they put in their bodies. They now strive to eat healthier foods with organic ingredients that are free of preservatives. A significant portion of individuals also recognizes the dangers of using household products loaded with chemicals. Many cleaning products have warning labels like “Toxic!” or “Flammable!”. This is usually an indication that the components are harmful to humans, pets, and the environment.

Household cleaning supplies contain substances that can be harmful to little kids. Not surprisingly, household cleaning supplies are in the top five reasons for calls to the National Poison Control center. It’s also important to safeguard the skin when using chemicals. Skin is the largest organ and can absorb good or bad things that makes contact with. The bad things can contain endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, carcinogens, and mutagens. This can also be easily avoided by making the switch to natural cleaning supplies.

Harsh cleaning supplies pollute the indoor air that we continuously breathe in. This can mess with the nervous system, liver, and kidneys. It can worsen respiratory conditions and cause various symptoms like headaches and coughing.

Natural alternatives are non-toxic, safe, and made with biodegradable compounds that do not affect the environment in an undesirable way. Moving on, it sounds like natural cleaning supplies will cost a lot more. However, many natural cleaning supplies can easily be made. There are also multi-purpose products so it is not necessary to buy different products.

The brand, Mrs. Meyers, has various and affordable products that can have many purposes and last a while. As pointed out earlier, the best part is that natural alternatives are that they can be made at home for an easy and cheap alternative to conventional products. An easy “Clean Everything Lemon-Lime” spray can be made from one lemon, one lime, one cup distilled white vinegar, and one cup water. Essential oils can also be added to a mixture of things like castile soap, water, and vinegar in order to make fresh-smelling products. The top five essential oils for cleaning are lemon, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, and orange.

Resources:

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/mrs-meyers-clean-day.html

https://www.thespruce.com/clean-everything-lemon-lime-spray-1706888

https://www.thespruce.com/essential-oils-to-use-green-cleaning-1707137

https://www.thespruce.com/reasons-to-start-green-cleaning-today-1706950

https://www.thespruce.com/vinegar-definition-green-cleaning-uses-1707034

New Year’s Resolutions for Health and Wellness

The New Year can be a good time to reflect on things that are working and things that are not. It is important to take a step back from the daily rat race and recognize what can be done to help mental and physical health. It can also be a nice fresh start and the right time to ease into some lifestyle changes. With that being said, this post will go over some tips that can be implemented without being too drastic or hard to keep up with.

The most important thing one can do for their health is get enough sleep. Emphasis is usually placed on getting a certain number of hours every night. However, the quality is just as important as the quantity. Quality sleep can help ward off viruses, common illnesses, decrease the risk of heart disease, and improve metabolism. Reading a book before bed instead of watching television, avoiding food for two hours before sleeping, not drinking caffeine after mid-afternoon, and making the bedroom a comfortable place can all improve the quality of sleep.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, metabolism is the highest around 10 in the morning and the lowest in the night. It is recommended to eat around 75 percent of allotted calories before 2 p.m. as it is easier on the body and ensures that there is enough time to properly digest everything.

As always, it is important to stay active. Staying active keeps inflammation levels at bay, encourages brain plasticity, releases endorphins, reduce stress, and can help with anxiety.  It is essential to replenish the body with nutrients after a workout. This can be done via vitamins, meals, or protein powders. Some recommended brands are Garden of Life, Life Extension, and Metagenics.

As for mental health, it is extremely vital to build up face-to-face relationships in a predominantly social media era. It was found that individuals that do not hang out with friends are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from poor health. This is because isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and heighten already high stress levels. It also important to try and reduce stress. Things like meal prepping over the weekend, deep breathing, walking outside, playing with a pet, or taking naps can help during hectic weeks.

It can be hard to take care of physical and mental health with demanding schedules, but it is just as important to schedule in self-care every week. Everyone has their own definition of self-care. It can be anything that makes one feel refreshed, recharged, and genuinely happy.

Resources:

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/garden-of-life.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/forget-the-crash-diet-these-6-new-years-resolutions-are-better-for-your-health

Hygge – The Danish Way of Life

The Danish way of life, Hygge (HOO-gah), has made its way into the spotlight within the past year or two. However, a lot of the general public is still not aware of what it means to practice the art of Hygge. According to the 2016 World Happiness Report, Denmark was acknowledged as the world’s happiest country. Many believe this is due to the lifestyle they encourage.

Hygge is referred to as an art that illuminates the soul. It is a way of life that embraces peace, harmony, and happiness. It is a way of practicing self-care in a way that lasts and becomes a definite lifestyle change. There are several combinations of activities that are supposed to encourage complete bliss and this article will go over some ways to implement those changes.  

There are ten main points to the Hygge manifesto. The first and most important step is to create an ambient atmosphere. The easiest way to do that is by turning down the lights and lighting a lot of candles (unscented or scented). This ensures a calm and serene environment. The second step involves stepping back from electronics and being mindful in every situation. It ensures that one is present with their loved ones and can take part in relaxing alone time.

The third part has to do with indulging in favorite foods responsibly. This can take emphasize the importance of balance and moderation. It can take away the stresses of dieting and can encourage a more wholesome approach. The fourth part stresses the importance of equality. It emphasizes the “we” over “me” mentality. It takes the pressure off of one person and ensures that tasks are divided in a fair manner. It also creates a sense of security and an environment where everyone feels supported.

The fifth practice has to do with expressing gratitude. To always be thankful for each and every moment and to realize that this might be as good as it gets. The sixth practice involves creating a harmonious environment. Bragging about achievements is looked down upon. The environment should be welcoming to everyone and should be uplifting.  

The seventh and eighth part has to do with inspiring “comfort” and “truce”. Comfort encourages relaxation and self-care practices like washing sheets, getting cozy with a big fluffy blanket, taking a warm bath, etc. The truce part encourages no drama or negative vibes. It keeps the environment light and airy and assures that no one gets into fights.

Finally, the ninth and tenth part focus on togetherness and shelter. Togetherness and shelter concentrate on building relationships and starting narratives that bring back happy memories. Finally, all of these points ensure that the home is welcoming and full of genuine happiness.

Resources:

https://www.self.com/story/practicing-hygge-danish-lifestyle

The Neurological Benefits of Curcumin

Curcumin is a very powerful inflammation fighting herb. There has been a lot of research done on curcumin and the benefits it has on brain health. It has been found that curcumin has the ability to protect the brain and keep it at an optimal functioning state despite other factors.

It has the power to stimulate the activity of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This can be very beneficial since BDNF encourages neuronal survival in an adult brain. It has been found that individuals with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s have a decreased expression of BDNF. This plays a role in the neuro-degenerative nature of these diseases.

Curcumin strengthens neural networks in the brain and encourages neuroplasticity. That leads to greater cognitive and memory skills. This is very important information since there are five major neurological diseases that impair the lives of millions of Americans every year. The five diseases are depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, and brain cancer. Each one of these diseases can be connected back to two main sources, oxidative stress and inflammation. More research is being done on the correct dose of curcumin for each of those illnesses.

It is also important to note that turmeric and curcumin are not the same things. Curcumin is a compound that is found in turmeric and has a higher bioavailability in the body. This means the body actually absorbs it and it does not just pass through the body the way turmeric does. Curcumin can be found in capsule form from places like Life Extension or CuraMed.

Curcumin can also take care of other problems in the body. It can fix digestive health problems, promote healthy eyesight, support cardiovascular health, and support other internal health challenges. This means that it has a plethora of benefits and taking it daily does not only benefit the brain. It has the capability to boost overall health.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/627

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/curamed.html

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2017/SS/Discovering-Curcumins-Brain-Benefits/Page-01

 

Glutathione – “The Mother of All Antioxidants”

Antioxidants protect cells against the detrimental effects of free radicals. All of us are exposed to free radicals on a daily basis and it can become too much for the body. The body naturally fights against free radicals with naturally occurring antioxidants (flavonoids, tannins, phenols, and lignans). However, the levels of antioxidants can easily be depleted if the body is under too much of a burden. This is why it is important to replenish the body with antioxidants through foods or supplements.

Glutathione is often referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants”. It is the greatest free radical fighter and has the ability to promote the detoxification process in the body. It is also vital in fighting against mental illnesses and various neurological disorders. Glutathione helps to regenerate and maintain immune cells. It guards the body against oxidative stress and acts as a trap to anything harmful in the body.

Poor diets can lead to a depletion in glutathione. Many of the foods available today are made to taste good but may not necessarily provide the nutritional needs the body requires. Constant consumption of toxins, chemicals, and preservatives causes the body to go into a toxin overload.

Immense amounts of stress, chronic illnesses, or aging can cause the levels of glutathione to plummet. Natural sources of glutathione can be found in sulfur-rich foods. The main easily attainable sources would be onions, garlic, broccoli, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, and cabbage. The reason it is found in sulfur-rich foods is because sulfur has sticky and smelly properties. It essentially traps free radicals, toxins, and heavy metals. This reduces the amount of stress on the body.

Exercise has also been found to boost levels as well. This has a direct effect on boosting the immune system and activating the body’s natural antioxidants defenses. Finally, glutathione can be bought in a capsule form or a liposomal form. “Thorne Research” has it in the capsule form and “Readisorb” has it available in the liposomal form.

Resources:

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/thorne-research.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/antioxidants/sls-20076428

https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/12/what-is-glutathione-and-how-do-i-get-more-of-it/

https://brainbiocentre.com/glutathione-the-master-antioxidant-and-its-role-in-brain-health/

 

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

As the end of the semester approaches, a lot of students tend to rely on things like coffee and pulling all-nighters in order to get their work done. Many have trouble sleeping or getting enough restorative sleep as they tend to be so stressed out. As a result, they turn to sleep medications. However, these sleep medications can leave the body feeling more drained and tired. Most importantly, they can mess with mental clarity and focus. That is the last thing anyone wants before an exam.

The body relies heavily on sleep in order to restore itself and prepare itself for each day. Sleep is the one chance the body gets to “shut down” and focus on itself. Naturally, there are many dangers of sleep deprivation. The risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes increases. Not enough sleep also leads to irritability, learning impairments, anxiety, and depression.

The number one tip given out to students is usually “manage your time so you can get enough sleep”. However, that is not always possible as each student has many other different commitments besides school. The good news is that there are natural options available. Many students have heard of melatonin. However, taking melatonin can increase the amount of REM sleep every night. The deep REM sleep can lead to very vivid and lucid dreams which do bother some individuals. That being said, there are other options available.

There are other supplements that typically do not cause the same kind of lucid dreams. Kavinace is a company that offers around four different products that are sleep aids. The original formula blends ingredients, like vitamin B6 and taurine, that help promote the synthesis and activity of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter in our brain that is very important for sleep. It calms the body down and helps to manage stress. However, stress can alter the activity of GABA which is why a boost from supplements is sometimes needed.

Melatonin, 5-HTP, magnesium, and theanine are the other supplements that can help promote sleep during stressful times. Taking time to listen to calm ambient music, taking an Epsom salt bath, or drinking an herbal tea can also help calm the nervous system down enough to drift off to sleep.

As always, it is important to do research and make sure that any of these supplements do not have interactions with medications.

Resources:

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/Kavinace.html

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-deprivation

 

The Pillars of Brain Health

Caring for the brain is extremely important as it is the most important organ in our lives. It regulates our quality of life and a healthy brain can ensure personal wellness. There are around six main pillars of caring for brain health. Those six pillars include physical exercise, nutrition, medical health, sleep and relaxation, mental fitness, and social interaction.

Physical exercise can help with maintaining a healthy weight, keeping bones and the brain healthy, and reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer. It is important to note that some exercise is better than no exercise. Regular exercise can generate brain cell growth and make vital changes to the brain. It has been found that regular exercise can boost the size of the hippocampus. This is extremely important as the hippocampus is involved in verbal memory, learning, and thinking. Ultimately, exercise plays a role in the health of brain cells, the production of new blood vessels in the brain, and maintains optimal health of current brain cells.

Nutrition also plays a vital role in brain health. Some research supports the Mediterranean diet as it is rich in whole grains, greens, fish, healthy fats, and nuts. All of those foods can keep the brain healthy and reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been found that foods high in saturated fats (red meat, butter, and other dairy products) can cause the development of neurodegenerative diseases to progress further. As always, fruits and veggies are extremely important for a healthy body. Leafy green vegetables and berries are exceptionally rich in brain health nutrients as they can slow down aging. Dark chocolate can increase the blood flow to the brain and decrease inflammation. Spices like ginger and turmeric can also decrease potentially harmful inflammation in the brain.

It is always important to get an annual checkup done in order to ensure that there are no imminent risks. Following the other 5 pillars of brain health can help keep blood pressure and body weight at a normal and healthy level. It is important to take supplements or medications as prescribed, cut down on things like processed food and sugar, and to stay active.

Cutting down stress leads to more sleep and relaxation. A healthy amount of sleep and relaxation cuts down the risk of depression, sharpens memory, manages stress, and allows the brain to stay in tip-top shape. It can be hard to destress, but it is important to think positively and allow events to unfold naturally instead of reliving it twice and being consumed with anxiety. It can also help to focus on the specific problem at hand.

Mental fitness can be improved by studying or learning a new hobby or task as it can fight mental decline. Listening to music while working out, playing an instrument, or finding some form of art that is appealing can improve mental fitness. Crossword puzzles, chess, card games, or online brain games can also help maintain a quick reaction time and it can improve the ability to solve problems

Finally, social interaction has many benefits. It is a source of support, can combat depression, cut down stress, and slow down age-related cognitive impairment. Pets can also provide the benefits of social interaction as they boost immunity, keep us active, calm us, and improve our social lives.

Resources:

https://healthybrains.org/pillars/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

 

The Benefits of Natural Skincare

The spotlight has recently been on natural skincare and the benefits of using all-natural ingredients on the body. There are many benefits as a lot of the skincare products on the market that sometimes contain harsh and toxic ingredients. To put this in perspective, women put an average of 150-200 chemicals on their body every day. Men tend to put on around 85 chemicals on their bodies.

It is important to understand that some of what is put on your skin, lips, and around the eyes can pass through the skin and enter the body. This can put unnecessary stress on the natural detoxification systems in the body. Parabens, triclosan, oxybenzone, talc, petrochemicals, and phthalates have all been found to be endocrine disruptors and may affect the normal function of the thyroid. This can affect hormone production, may contribute to developmental and reproductive toxins, may affect fertility, worsen allergies, and contribute to metabolic disorders.

Skincare products made from natural ingredients can clear breakouts, protect from sun damage, soothe irritations, and even ease conditions like eczema. A lot of natural ingredients have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that can do the exact same thing chemicals can but without the damage. They are gentle and can protect against adverse reactions.

Another benefit is that natural skincare is actually better for the environment. Normal beauty products require tons of mining for lead, aluminum, and petroleum. These ingredients all harm wildlife and are not any better for our health as these materials have been linked to things like breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

A few well-known organic or natural brands include Acure Organics, Nardo’s Natural, and Avalon Organics. As always, it is important to do a patch test to ensure that an allergic reaction does not occur.

Resources:

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/acure-organics.html

https://kaiderma.com/blog/7-reasons-use-skin-care-products-natural-ingredients/

https://www.ausnaturalcare.com.au/health/life-style/5-reasons-to-use-natural-skincare/

 

The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Optimal Health

The microbiome is extremely important for optimal health as it has been found that the microbiome plays a crucial role in either health or disease. The body is home to trillions of microorganisms. These microorganisms include bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. These trillions of microbes can coexist happily in a healthy person and ensure that everything in the body is functioning normally. However, problems start to arise when chaos erupts in the microbiome. Most of the microbes in the microbiome have a symbiotic relationship with the body but some of them also can be pathogenic and promote disease. As with everything, balance is key. The body remains healthy as long as there is a balance, but the balance can be broken by anything. The most common disturbances include infectious illnesses, excessive use of antibiotics, insomnia, and some diets.

Steps can be taken to ensure that the body remains at homeostasis and there is a balance of microbes in the body. Supplements that promote gastrointestinal health can also be used. It is especially important to replenish good bacteria when on antibiotics. Some recommended brands include Terry Naturally, DaVinci Labs, Life Extension, and Designs for Health. It is also important to eat a diverse range of foods so that the body receives the nutrients it needs. A diverse range of food can lead to a diverse microbiome which can enhance health. Eating fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, and yogurt can provide the body with probiotics and help it reduce the number of disease-causing bacteria in the body. It has also been found that artificial sweeteners can raise blood sugars and then have a negative effect on the gut. Finally, eating foods rich in polyphenols can reduce the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation on the body. This leads to the gut effectively breaking down the polyphenols and providing a boost to the microbiome.

It is also important to note that every person has their own unique microbiome. The microbiome is determined by DNA and can be influenced by a number of factors. This also means that not every product will work the same in every body so it is important to listen to your body and recognize what is helping and what is causing harm.

Resources:

https://www.lifeextension.com/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566439/

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/davinci-labs.html

https://store.drhyman.com/gi-revive-225-gram-powder.html

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/terry-naturally.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria#section1

 

A Natural Approach: Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine originated in India but has become increasingly popular in the United States. The beauty of Ayurvedic medicine is that it aims to heal the whole body of all ailments by creating harmony between the mind, body, and spirit. It emphasizes the importance of preventing diseases through lifestyle choices. Ayurveda medicine aims to internally purify the body and then maintain that level of purification through lifestyle changes. It stresses the importance of maintaining health and wellness through practices like yoga, meditation, massage, and dietary changes.

Ayurveda states that there are five elements found in nature (air, space, fire, water, and earth). Vatta is represented by air and space. It controls the nervous system and hence has an effect on anxiety, fear, and pain. It also controls muscles, joints, and nerves. Pitta is represented by fire and water. It has control of certain emotions like anger, jealousy, and hate. Pitta controls other bodily functions like digestion, metabolism, and intelligence. Kapha is represented by earth and water. It governs the physical attributes of each body and the immune system.

Moving onto the lifestyle practices, yoga can be extremely beneficial for the mind and body. Physical benefits include increased flexibility, energy, muscle tone, cardiovascular health, and athletic performance. Mental benefits include relieving stress and improving concentration. Meditation benefits include reducing stress, controlling anxiety, promoting mental health, enhancing self-awareness, lengthening attention span, sharpen memory, improve sleep, help control pain, and improve mood. Finally, massages can help with stress, anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, sleep, and improve circulation.  

Banyan Botanicals is one reputable brand that prides itself on being sustainably sourced as they use fairly traded herbs. Just like with anything else, it is important to exercise caution when using Ayurvedic herbs as it is possible that they can react with prescription medications or have adverse effects. However, Ayurvedic practices like yoga and meditation are safe practices that can be implemented into a healthy lifestyle. It has also been found that Ayurvedic medicine can have the best results when it is combined with standard conventional treatment.

Resources:

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa116840spec

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/banyan-botanicals.html

https://osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/complementary_and_alternative_medicine/ayurveda_85,P00173

 

Plant-Based Protein

The number of vegetarians and vegans in the United States has risen over the past 10 years. A considerable amount of people also try to go vegetarian or vegan for a little. This is also another reason that plant-based proteins and nut milks have been in the spotlight. This post will go over some benefits of plant-based proteins, some recipes for protein shakes, and the different kinds of plant protein.

Plant-based protein usually has a lot of fiber, tends to have fewer allergens, has alkalizing properties, provides minerals and vitamins, and is lower in calories.

Here are some links for different plant-based protein shakes:

The most common kinds of plant proteins come from peas, lentils, hemp seeds, soy, chia seeds, brown rice, and pumpkin seeds. All of the plant-based proteins have their own benefits.

Pea protein powder is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), can lower blood pressure, and help with muscle building. Lentils help burn fat and are generally are a great source of fiber, so they are easy to digest. Hemp seed protein powder has a relatively high protein content and is not too high in calories. It is high in zinc, fiber, and alpha-linolenic acid. Soy is a good source of protein and branched-chain amino acids. However, it is important to avoid genetically modified soy. Chia seed protein powder is low in calories but has a moderate amount of protein and quite a bit of dietary fiber. Brown rice protein powder is usually cheaper, hypoallergenic, and has a good amount of branched-chain amino acids. Finally, pumpkin seed protein powder is a good source of protein but low in fat. It is also rich in a lot of vitamins and minerals.

Some recommended brands are SunWarrior, Nutiva, and Garden of Life.

Resources:

https://simpleveganblog.com/vegan-protein-shake/

https://www.asweetpeachef.com/banana-protein-shake/

https://www.asweetpeachef.com/green-protein-smoothie/

https://www.loveandzest.com/coffee-lovers-protein-shake/

https://detoxinista.com/chocolate-pea-protein-shake-vegan/

https://www.ilovevegan.com/green-protein-power-breakfast-smoothie/

https://runningonrealfood.com/vegan-peanut-butter-cup-protein-shake/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-vegan-protein-powder#section2

https://growingnaturals.com/portfolio-items/vanilla-protein-latte/?portfolioCats=6

https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/pea-protein-strawberry-banana-spinach-smoothie/

https://www.idealraw.com/blog/plant-based-nutrition/benefits-of-plant-based-protein-powder/

https://www.billyparisi.com/pea-protein-powder-shake-with-coconut-milk-berries-and-chia-seeds/

 

Neuroscience: Neuroplasticity

The word “neuroplasticity” means that the brain can reorganize or repair itself by forming neural connections throughout our lives. Neuroplasticity is a prime example of the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Due to neuroplasticity, the brain is very resilient and has the ability to function properly even after it has been affected by a disease or injury.

There are a few ways to increase neuroplasticity and heal or protect the brain. It has been proven that even just thirty minutes of mild exercise (cycling or walking) can lead to a rise in neurochemicals which then encourages the development of new brain cells and new neural connections. Meditation can also incite neuroplasticity as it is “exercise” for the brain. It trains the brain to rest and relax and can even encourage stronger neural connections in certain parts of the brain. This is also why meditating has the ability to boost memory, increase attention spans, and improve decision-making.

Food choices also have the ability to affect neuroplasticity. The brain needs nutrients to create, preserve, and protect brain cells. Those nutrients also help with forming neurotransmitters and maintaining homeostasis on the body. It has been found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate and the polyphenols found in berries can encourage brain health. Furthermore, it has been found that blueberries specifically have the capability to increase blood flow to the brain. That can improve cerebral circulation which can prevent neurodegenerative disorders. Blueberries can also enhance brain activation which can combat the negative effects of oxidative stress. Memory tends to be better and cognition improves.

Brain games recently have gained a lot of attention as well. It is important to note that many of these well-known games have not gone through controlled trials. However, BrainHQ is one of the games that did go through a controlled trial. The results showed chances of increasing brain plasticity.

Other suggestions to improve neuroplasticity include reading books, getting quality sleep, and reducing stress. Essentially, the brain can regenerate itself due to neuroplasticity, but things can also be done in order to encourage it.

Resources:

https://bebrainfit.com/brain-plasticity/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/neuroplasticity

http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/10/can-meditation-make-you-smarter/

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2017/11/Blueberries-Enhance-Brain-Blood-Flow/Page-01

 

The Nutritional Needs of a Young Adult

It is often very easy to get caught up in our daily stresses of school and work. Many of us put our health on the back burner and look for easier, usually unhealthier, dinner options while neglecting our nutritional needs. This post will go over some of the nutrients every young adult needs on a daily basis and ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into our busy lives.

The 10 main essential vitamins include:

  • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin A has the ability to protect the eyes, support the immune system, reduce the likelihood of acne, support healthy bones, and promote healthy growth.
  • B Vitamins
    • The benefits of B vitamins are numerous. They ensure that nerves stay healthy, protect the brain and immune system, combat everyday stress, and boost energy.
  • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin C is known as the vitamin that boosts the immune system. However, it also is essential for excellent cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin D is extremely beneficial for the body. A majority of young adults have a deficiency in Vitamin D. It can lower inflammatory markers in the body, prevent certain psychiatric diseases, help with autoimmune disorders, and help with insulin resistance in diabetic individuals.
  • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin E helps the immune system, brain, skin, vision, and reproduction systems in the body. It has vital antioxidant properties. Antioxidants essentially counteract the negative effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are created by stress and can cause long-term damage to the body.
  • Vitamin K
    • Vitamin K is extremely important because it plays a role in healthy blood clotting. It helps produce four of the thirteen proteins needed for clotting.
  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium can help calm the nervous system and encourage deep sleep. It also can help alleviate anxiety symptoms and keep the brain healthy.
  • Calcium
    • Calcium is needed for strong bones. The heart also needs satisfactory amounts of calcium in order to function properly.
  • Zinc
    • Zinc is particularly great for the immune system. It encourages proper wound healing and can provide a shorten the span of a cold.
  • Iron
    • Iron plays a huge role in the production of red blood cells. It carries oxygenated blood to the brain and can help with neurotransmitter synthesis.

Figuring out a morning routine can help ensure that vitamins are taken every day. Meal prepping on the weekends can also help with keeping away from unhealthy foods throughout the week. It is also important to find a way to stay active. It can be as simple as dancing in your room for thirty minutes, walking around campus for a set time, finding an at-home workout to follow, or doing some simple yoga poses to stretch your body.

As always, it is crucial to find reputable brands for supplements. It is important to avoid brands that add fillers, dyes, or preservatives. Some recommendations for supplement brands are Douglas Laboratories, Standard Process, and Life Extension.

Resources:

https://www.pinterest.com

https://www.livescience.com/51908-vitamin-k.html

http://www.cardiohq.net/top-home-gym-workouts/

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2922005

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-a-benefits

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286839.php

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/standard-process.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-zinc/art-20366112

https://groundedpanda.com/20-minute-yoga-routine-for-beginners/

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/douglas-laboratories.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-e/art-20364144

https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2008/4/Newly-Discovered-Benefits-Of-Vitamin-C/Page-01

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/1/Why-Isnt-Everyone-Supplementing-with-Vitamin-D/Page-01

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/calcium-supplements/art-20047097

 

Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms usually are known as a vegetable that is added to dishes to make them tastier. Interestingly, there are many different types of mushrooms and each one has a variety of benefits for the body. The most talked about mushrooms are Reishi Mushroom, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Cordyceps, and Chaga. This article will break down the benefits of each and the ways each one can be consumed.

Reishi mushrooms are known to help increase longevity, have anti-cancer properties, can help restore the liver, enhance the immune system, and improve mood. This specific mushroom is also known for the neuroprotective properties it has. Intriguingly, it can protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases and has properties that increases the nerve growth factor in the brain. The nerve growth factor in the brain is extremely vital for healthy neurological function and controls the way neurons develop and survive. It can be consumed as a supplement or as a tea. It also might be easier to consume it as a latte (Reishi Chocolate Latte).

Lion’s Mane is known as the “mushroom for the brain”. It improves memory and focus, can reduce depression and anxiety, can stop or reverse damage caused to the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, and significantly lower inflammation. Lion’s Mane can also be consumed as a tea, supplement, or a latte (Lion’s Mane Mushroom Matcha Latte).

Maitake is especially beneficial for immunocompromised individuals or with individuals that have sugar resistance problems.  These mushrooms can be roasted and added to soups or be eaten with rice.

Cordyceps can help boost endurance during exercise, prevent the effects aging can have on the brain, fight insulin resistance problems, protect cells from cancer, and can even help with viral infections like strep throat. Like the others, Cordyceps can be consumed as a supplement, tea, smoothie (Cacao Cordyceps Smoothie), or a latte (Cinnamon Vanilla Cordyceps Latte).

Chaga stimulates and regulates the immune system, reduces inflammations, helps with gastritis, normalizes blood pressure, prevents aging, and improves the skin. Chaga can also be consumed in the same way as the others. The most common way to consume it is to drink it as a tea or make it into an elixir so that it is tastier (Spiced Chocolate-Chaga Elixir).

It is extremely important to buy medicinal mushrooms from reputable and certified suppliers. This is because mushrooms tend to mimic the qualities of a sponge. They absorb whatever they are grown in. This means that they can easily absorb toxins and be high in pollutants or heavy metals. Fungi Perfecti is one of the brands that strives to make high-quality supplements. They make various products that provide immune system support, respiratory support, brain and nerve health, heart health, energy levels, and help in aiding stress responses.

Resources:

https://www.pinterest.com

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/NGF

https://wellnessmama.com/395498/lions-mane/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/347903139945605568/

http://thehealthyhour.com/2016/11/reishi-chocolate-latte/

http://thrivingmindandbody.com/cacao-cordyceps-smoothie

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/fungi-perfecti.html

https://www.verywellhealth.com/benefits-of-cordyceps-89441

http://www.coconutandberries.com/2014/10/12/spiced-chocolate-chaga-elixir/

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/reishi-mushrooms-6-awesome-health-benefits

http://foodbymars.com/home/2016/mushroom-lattes-dairy-free-caffeine-free-crowding-out-caffeine/

https://barefootprovisions.com/blogs/bare-blog/drink-your-mushrooms-golden-mushroom-latte-mushroom-matcha-latte

 

Preventing or Treating a Cold by Giving the Immune System a Boost

The flu season is quickly approaching. The good news is that there are many ways that you can help your body out during this season.

  • Sleeping is the best way to heal and repair the body. Many studies have concluded that not enough sleep can compromise the immune system. This can lead to being more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Lack of sleep can also prevent the body from healing quickly.
  • Hydration
    • Lots of water and tea can ease a sore throat or loosen the congestion.
    • Note: It is important to avoid sugary drinks.
    • Matcha is another option and is excellent for the immune system.
      • Matcha is extremely high in antioxidants and EGCGs. It can help your body produce more T-Cells and fight off viruses more efficiently.
      • Matcha also has a naturally high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll detoxifies the body and gets rid of any chemicals, toxins, and heavy metals. This ensures that the immune system can focus on fighting off pathogens instead.
      • Matcha has the ability to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in the body.
      • A recipe for Matcha Ginger Immunity Tea:
        • 1 Teaspoon Matcha Powder
        • 1 Tablespoon Grated Ginger
        • 1 Tablespoon Honey
        • Hot Water or Nut Milk
        • Optional: ½ Lime
  • Try drinking your nutrients by having something like bone broth.
    • It is easy to digest and the vitamins and minerals in it help boost the immune system.
    • More information about the benefits of bone broth.
  • Vitamins for the Immune System
    • Vitamin C
      • Vitamin C helps to strengthen the immune system.
    • Vitamin E
      • An antioxidant that aids the body in fighting infection.
    • Vitamin D
      • A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to the body being more susceptible to infections.
    • Probiotics
      • Probiotics add good bacteria to the gut and this is crucial because gut bacteria helps to regulate the immune system.
    • Turmeric
      • Turmeric enhances antibody responses in the body.
  • Sauna or Steaming or Sinus Rinses
    • These three options can help flush out the sinus cavities from any allergens or bacteria.
  • Invest in a Humidifier
    • Humidifiers take care of dry indoor air and can ease sinus related problems. Moisture in the air makes it easier to breathe when congested.
  • Essential Oils
    • Eucalyptus, peppermint, and spearmint essential oils are the best for congestion-related sinus headaches.
  • Shower Melts” can also help with congestion and are easy to make.

All of these remedies can help take some stress off of the body and help with getting back to optimal health.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17211725

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/451978512594952331/

https://wellnessmama.com/23777/bone-broth-benefits/

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/metagenics.html

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-vitamins-best-boosting-immunity/

https://zengreentea.com.au/matcha-green-tea-powder-boosts-immune-system/

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-28547/5-ways-to-prevent-a-cold-naturally.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2018/2/Probiotics-Fight-Dangerous-Winter-Flu/Page-01

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/probiotics-may-be-effective-in-preventing-the-common-cold/

 

Benefits of Having a Pet and How to Care for Them Properly

There’s no denying that having a pet can be a lot of work. Pets can be very time consuming but the benefits of having one are endless. Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” and there are many justifiable reasons for this.

Dogs provide companionship, can help with anxiety, relieve stress, make their owners more social, lower blood pressure, and even lower the risk of heart disease in their owners. Intriguingly, a study concluded that there was a correlation between cardiovascular health and dog owners. Dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases. This conclusion was still found to be true even after accounting for various factors (smoking, socioeconomic status, and body mass index).

Pets can do so much for us but how can we ensure that we are treating them in the best possible way? A lot of “premium” dog food on the market is full of ingredients that furry friends do not need. Many people are not aware that pet food is made up of the waste products from food that is made for human consumption. Pet food advertisements will make it look like the pet is getting top of the line chicken in their food. The truth is that there is barely any chicken in it. It is essentially just what was left over from manufacturers for human consumption. These “premium” pet foods also often consist of corn and soy as their main ingredients. Corn and soy are sprayed heavily with toxic pesticides and a lot of it is genetically modified. Many of us have realized that humans should avoid those two genetically modified ingredients so shouldn’t they also be removed from the diet of our pets? Eating these ingredients may potentially lead to chronic health problems in, pets but it is preventable.

Conscientious pet owners should do their research before buying food for their pets. The internet is a great resource, but a veterinarian can also usually suggest the best pet food options. Many pets will face various ailments throughout their lives and companies like Pet Wellbeing offer gentle and natural options to help with those minor symptoms. It is important to take care of our pets properly. It is our job to ensure that they get the proper nutrition that they need.

Resources:

http://time.com/5028171/health-benefits-owning-dog/

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/health/01brod.html

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/pet-wellbeing.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/get-healthy-get-a-dog-the-health-benefits-of-canine-companionship

 

Neuroscience: The Mind-Body Connection

I recently read the book “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself”. The book emphasizes the importance of the mind-body connection. It is said that the mind is a powerful thing, it can play tricks on us, but it can also help us heal ourselves in an essentially natural and more sustainable way.

Thoughts can most definitely affect the body and the book highlights how thoughts can manifest into a reality. The neuroscience explanation for this would be that thoughts have a direct impact on the neurotransmitters in the brain. For example, a state of chronic stress usually leads to negative thoughts. Those thoughts and the state of chronic stress reduces serotonin and increases the hormonal levels of cortisol in the body. Naturally, neurotransmitter depletion and hormonal imbalances have a negative influence on the body. Stress can also deplete the natural killer cells in the body, leading to a decrease in immune system function, which can contribute to chronic illnesses. This sounds overwhelming, but there are ways to conquer the mind and prevent the negative effects it can have on the body.

Conventional medicine often diminishes the fact that the mind-body connection is very powerful. Little things are overlooked and missed. Not enough time is spent with patients to realize that other natural approaches can be integrated along with medication. This approach would ensure that the body does not get dependent solely on the medication and that the ease in symptoms is more long-term. As mentioned in the “Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection” post, the gut will always tell the mind when something is wrong or imbalanced in the body. I do believe that allopathic medicine is a wonderful thing, but I also think it can cause serious side effects or other problems if it is not necessary.

The body is a miraculous thing that often has the ability to heal itself naturally with a little bit of help. Practices like concentration meditation, heart-centered meditation, mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, visualization, positive thinking, acupuncture, reflexology, and massage therapy can help restore the body. These practices can also help the body respond better to allopathic treatments. In essence, taking care of the mind will help with taking care of the body and vice versa.

Resources:

http://mindovermedicinebook.com

https://gerson.org/gerpress/healing-and-the-mindbody-connection/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-face-adversity/201207/thoughts-neurotransmitters-body-mind-connection

https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Harvard%20Now%20and%20Zen%20Reading%20Materials.pdf

 

Kicking off the Semester Right

Classes have started again, and things have already started to get hectic for a lot of us. It is extremely important to start off the semester right so this post will go over some tips in order to ensure a successful semester.

  • Try to sleep a little earlier and wake up earlier.
    • Apps like Sleep Cycle can help make waking up a little easier.
      • The Sleep Cycle app monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up when you are in the lightest sleep phase. This ensures that you wake up feeling refreshed. It can tell when you are awake, sleeping, or in deep sleep. It can also detect if you snore and will notify you in the morning.
      • Establish a morning routine that works for you.
    • Drink at least 8 ounces of water.
    • Try to plan out your outfit the night before so that time is saved in the morning.
  • Find a light workout routine, do some simple stretches, meditate, or go to a sauna.
  • Make a healthy and easy breakfast.
    • There are a lot of easy recipes on Pinterest.
      • Smoothies can be a very easy way to get nutrients in. It is even easier if you cut up your favorite fruits or veggies and freeze them in baggies ahead of time. This saves time and effort in the morning. All you have to do is add water, milk, or a nut milk.
    • Make a to-do list or write a journal post.
      • Can write this on an agenda, on a calendar whiteboard, or on an app like the 5 Minute Journal.
    • Take your vitamins.
      • It is important to make sure that you are taking your vitamins from a reputable brand. Many brands will add preservatives and many extra ingredients that are not needed.
      • Organize your supplies and write down the important dates for each class.
      • Use one notebook for lectures. This notebook can be messy and all over the place. Use another notebook to neatly write notes out and work out practice problems after class.
        • This makes it easier to study when it comes time for exams and also ensures that you have seen the material more than once. The retention of the information will be even higher if this is done within a few hours of class.
      • Utilize tutoring sessions and office hours.
      • Make a friend in every class in case you have to miss a day.

Resources:

https://www.calm.com

https://www.pinterest.com

https://www.sleepcycle.com

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com

https://www.intelligentchange.com/pages/five-minute-journal-pdf

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/5-Stretches-Do-Morning-7751119

 

 

 

 

Healing the Body Naturally

It’s true that our lives have become a rat’s race. There’s constantly something to do and we do it all but that can result in our mind and bodies becoming overwhelmed. Finding a balance in life can be hard but it is most definitely achievable. Taking care of our mind and bodies should be a top priority since it can hinder all of our other goals in life.

Establishing a morning and nighttime routine can be extremely beneficial. A set routine is important for the mind and body. The body will slowly get used to the bedtime routine and will start to unwind because it will recognize that it is time to sleep. The nervous system will slowly start to calm down and that can ensure a good night’s sleep.

Examples of things that can be added to a morning routine:

  • Stretching
  • Showering
  • Meditating
  • Drinking Lemon Water
    • Lemon water has many benefits including hydration, providing a dose of Vitamin C, clearing skin, and aids in digestion.
  • Taking supplements or medications
  • Eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast
  • Listening to upbeat music to start the day off on a right note

Example of things that can be added to a nighttime routine:

  • Meditation
  • Taking a bath
  • Bedtime Yoga
  • Reading a book
  • Journal/Brain Dump
  • Making a cup of Tea
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • No electronics before bedtime
    • The blue light in phones and laptops causes a surge of cortisol in the body. Cortisol depletes and inhibits the production of melatonin. A loss of melatonin messes with the sleep/wake cycle of the body.
  • Turning on an essential oil diffuser
  • Setting out clothes for the next day
  • Writing a To-Do list for the following day
  • Deep Breathing
    • 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.

There are other ways to relax and take care of the body too. As pointed out in the last post, listening to your gut is super important as the body will tell you what it needs. It’ll guide you in the right direction. Lots of sleep, engaging in a hobby, getting away for the weekend, catching up on chores, cleaning the space around you, and exercising can all help an individual reset. Sleep will help the body recharge, engaging in a hobby will help distract the mind, and exercise will give the body a boost of endorphins.

It is crucial to take care of the body and the mind.  Helping it out as much as possible is the key to preventing illnesses.

Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection

The correlation between the gut and brain has recently been brought into the spotlight. It has been found that there is a direct communication system between the gut and brain known as the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis consists of the central and enteric nervous systems and links the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain to peripheral intestinal functions. There are around 100 billion neurons in the brain and around 500 million neurons in the gut. Those 500 million neurons in the gut are connected to the brain and this is noteworthy because neurons are responsible for conveying information throughout the body.

This is also why it has been found that the gut-brain connection can contribute to anxiety and many digestion problems. Emotions like sadness, happiness, and anxiousness can elicit symptoms in the gut. There are many feelings and expressions that also allude to this like feeling nauseous, having a gut-wrenching/gut feeling, or having butterflies in your stomach. These expressions have some truth behind them as there is a direct connection between the brain and the gut. Our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode as soon as a fear of danger is perceived, and the enteric nervous system responds by slowing down or stopping digestion to conserve energy.  The gut is also known as the “second brain” since the gut sends signals to the brain. This is what allows us to make decisions based off of our gut. It also means that nervousness and anger can cause our bodies to produce unwanted symptoms like heart palpitations or stomach problems.

There are trillions of microbes in our bodies. These microbes make up our microbiome. A microbiome is an ecosystem of bacteria that helps out the cells in our body. A lot of these microbes are in our gut and help to balance blood sugar, absorb nutrients, combat inflammation, aid in digestion, and control the immune system. Gut health has a direct effect on the brain, so this also means that things like probiotics can have an effect on memory. The good bacteria in the gut produce a bulk of the neurotransmitters in the body and those neurotransmitters send signals to the rest of the body. Naturally, that can have an effect on brain health.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-neuron-2794890

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-brain-connection

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16358-gut-brain-connection

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection

Caring for the Body with Carotenoids

Carotenoids have been researched for a while now and are known for their incredible benefits. Carotenoids are essentially the pigments that give foods their color. For example, they give sweet potatoes their orange color and blueberries their bright blue color.

Dietary carotenoids are known to protect the body against cancer. They are thought to be very beneficial because of their ability to function as antioxidants in the body. The most well-known carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and astaxanthin.

Beta-Carotene is known as a carotenoid that has the ability to be converted to vitamin A in non-toxic doses. This is great news since a supplement of vitamin A usually gives the body more vitamin A than it can handle and can damage the liver. Since beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, it has the same benefits of vitamin A. These benefits include the ability to protect the brain from cognitive decline, keep the eyes and lungs healthy, and replenish the antioxidants in the body. Some natural sources of beta-carotene are apricots, broccoli, asparagus, kale, spinach, peppers, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes.

Lycopene is an antioxidant in fruits that are red or pink. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants, has numerous benefits for the skin, helps prevent cancer, helps keep the eyes and heart healthy, is beneficial for the brain, can lessen neuropathic pain, and can lessen oxidative stress in our bones. Some natural sources of lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, asparagus, red cabbage, grapefruit, guava, and mango.

Lutein is an antioxidant found in the eye and can be found in yellow or orange foods. It helps protect the eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. Natural sources of lycopene include mangoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, squash, collards, and bok choy.

Astaxanthin is a dark red color and can support the muscles, nerves, skin, and eye health. It can also protect the brain, digestive system, and can support exercise recovery. Astaxanthin can protect the nervous and immune system from oxidative stress. It is seven times stronger than vitamin E and suppresses DNA damage. It is also different from the other carotenoids because astaxanthin is primarily found only in seafood. Common sources include krill, shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish, and salmon.

Overall, carotenoids are very beneficial in protecting the body against oxidative stress. It is very important to keep the levels in the body balanced since a decrease in antioxidants and an increase in free radicals is a critical factor of the pathogenic processes to chronic illnesses.

Resources:

https://draxe.com/lycopene/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12134711

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/astaxanthin

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942711/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758.php

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708350/

https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-are-carotenoids/

https://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/nutrition/how-carotenoids-help-protect-against-cancer

Ashwagandha for Anxiety

Ashwagandha is a herb that is native to India. It has been used for many years in order to reduce the effects of stress on the body. It encourages a healthy stress response and can also help with anxiety, adrenal fatigue, inflammation, thyroid problems, and joint pain.

Anxiety and panic attacks cause the brain to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol continuously. Naturally, this can lead to headaches, dizziness, and a strain on the central nervous system.

Ashwagandha helps because it has very powerful protective effects on the nervous system and can prevent neural damage. Preventing neural damage is crucial for protecting the brain and nervous system against neurodegenerative diseases. The stress, environmental toxins, and lack of healthy food that we are constantly exposed to impacts our nervous system. Since ashwagandha can protect brain cells, it has the ability to be used as a tranquilizer or antidepressant. It can protect individuals exposed to chronic stress or chronic nervous tension.

Ashwagandha creates a “stress-response modifier” which is also known as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help manage the hormones in the body and the response to tension. Adaptogens are essentially a group of herbs that improve the health of the adrenal system by enhancing the body’s capability to cope with stresses and anxiety. They prevent the body from being in a constant fight-or-flight mode. They normalize the hormonal imbalances in the body and they create a more stable source of energy for the cells in our body.

As mentioned earlier, ashwagandha can help with inflammation in the body by regulating inflammatory factors in the immune system. A common misunderstanding is that all inflammation is harmful to the body. The truth is that the immune system uses inflammation in order to protect and heal cells from injury. However, an excess of inflammation can have adverse effects on the body, so it is important to manage the amount of inflammation in the body. Helping with inflammation can also help ease joint pain and mobility problems.

Ashwagandha can help with hormonal imbalances so it also naturally affects thyroid health. It contains antioxidants that encourage thyroid activity and shield hepatic tissue from impairment. Ashwagandha has a direct effect on the adrenal glands and HPA axis in our bodies. This means that it can prevent the aches and pains that are associated with adrenal fatigue.

Lastly, sleep can help the body recover in miraculous ways. It can calm the mind and body down and allow cells to repair. Ashwagandha, GABA, and melatonin supplements can all naturally support the body to ensure that it self-repairs.

Resources:

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10589/adaptogens-101-what-they-are-how-they-can-help-with-your-stress-fatigue.html

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2006/6/report_ashwa/Page-01

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/what-is-ashwagandha

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/effects-on-body

 

 

 

Neuroscience: Rewiring the Brain with Meditation

Meditation has the ability to rewire the brain as mindfulness-based practices can help encourage neuroplasticity in the brain. Neuroplasticity essentially emphasizes the fact that the brain is also a muscle that can be strengthened and improved throughout our lives.

In addition to the ability to affect neuroplasticity, it can also increase the amount of gray matter in the brain. The tissue in the brain is made up of gray matter and white matter. Gray matter controls memory, speech, impulsiveness, decision-making, and emotions. A loss in gray matter can also lead to numerous illnesses like psychosis or schizophrenia. The amount of gray matter also naturally decreases as the brain ages. The brain shrinks as an individual gets older but it can be retrained and the good news is that the damage usually can be reversed with care. Meditation can prevent gray matter losses associated with aging and can protect the maturing brain.

Meditation enhances brain activity and promotes new growth of neural pathways in the brain. It can rewire the prefrontal cortex which plays a significant role in mindfulness and self-awareness. The prefrontal cortex helps with cognitive behavior, decision-making, and expression of emotions. It has the capability to control thoughts and actions. This can bring significant improvements in the ability to concentrate and memorize so it can dramatically increase the amount of work an individual can do.

Like mentioned earlier, meditation can literally change the structure of the brain. It can increase the volume of the brain in certain parts and the biggest increase is usually found in the hippocampus. The hippocampus primarily controls memory and learning. It promotes faster learning, creativity, and better focus. Naturally, that means that meditation can enhance performance at work and in school. It can also decrease the volume in certain parts as it has the power to shrink the amygdala. The amygdala is known as the reptilian part of the brain and is responsible for stress, anxiety, and fear. A smaller amygdala means that symptoms of PTSD, stress, and trauma can be reduced. The brain can feel calmer, balanced, and happier. All of these benefits can significantly reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.

Other benefits include:

  • An increase in immunity
  • A decrease in inflammation
  • A decrease in pain
  • A decrease in loneliness

There are numerous ways to combat the amount of stress placed on the brain every single day. It is important to remember that the brain shrinks with age but can be strengthened with mindfulness-based practices like meditation. These practices can significantly help heal and support the brain.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#36893c241465

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/how-meditation-rewires-your-brain-for-less-anxiety-and-faster-learning.html

https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/10-key-brain-regions-upgraded-with-meditation-2/

https://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/