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/

 

 

Benefits of B Vitamins

The truth is that many of us do not get enough B vitamins from the food sources we eat. Not many of us are even aware of the consequences a deficiency in B vitamins can have on our bodies. B vitamins play a crucial role in essential bodily functions, help form red blood cells, protect our nerves and tissue, and aid the body in converting food into energy.

Common signs of deficiency include:

  • Hair Loss
  • Weight Loss
  • Skin Problems
  • Memory Problems
  • Digestive Problems
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Problems with Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

Many of us have heard about Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and how crucial it is for our body. It enhances cardiovascular function and aids the body in converting carbs into glucose for energy. Vitamin B1 is a key nutrient that boosts energy production and protects the body from aging. Other benefits include protecting the nervous system in order to ensure that it stays healthy. A healthy nervous system ultimately results in a healthy brain. Thiamine facilitates proper development of the myelin sheaths around nerves. Deterioration of those coverings can lead to nerve damage and negatively affect the brain. Thiamine also plays an essential role in enhancing memory. This is also why vitamin B1 is known for slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the main problem with vitamin B1 is that it is water soluble. This essentially means that it does not stay in the body long enough. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body long enough, are quickly excreted through urine, and need to constantly be replaced every day. However, there is a fat-soluble form of Vitamin B1, called benfotiamine. Benfotiamine has been found to be 5 times more efficacious than thiamine and helps with carb conversion, energy, and regulates blood sugar. Fat soluble vitamins do not need to be replenished as often.

Benfotiamine also has the ability to stop age-related disturbances in the brain tissue as cognition tends to slow down with age. It can prevent disorders like beriberi and prevent the loss of motor and sensory functions. Benfotiamine helps protect the brain by preventing neurodegeneration and ensuring that the brain is constantly getting enough energy in order to send and accept signals between the brain and central nervous system.

In addition to those brain benefits, it has the ability to help diabetics control their blood sugar and manage the effects a high glucose level can have on the brain. There is a link between blood sugar and cognition as enough glucose has to pass the blood-brain barrier in order for the brain to function optimally. It is important to prevent a progression of age-related symptoms of the brain associated with high glucose levels. The progression of the symptoms includes things like neuropathy, paralysis, and advanced neurological issues.

The benefits of benfotiamine on the body are numerous. A deficiency can lead to a multitude of symptoms which is why it can be beneficial to take a b-complex vitamin as part of a wellness routine if a deficiency is suspected. As always, consult with your doctor to check and see if this is an appropriate health measure for you.

Resources:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vitamins/vitaminb/

http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2007/1/report_benfotiamine/Page-01

https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-benefits-vitamin-b1-thiamine/

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/benfotiamine

Time of the Month Support

The time of the month can come with a lot of pain and discomfort. This can affect other things and hinder the productivity of daily activities. However, the great news is that it does not have to be that bad and steps can be taken to make everything a little better without any medication.

  • Light exercises can help tremendously.
    • Calming things like stretching or yoga can allow the body to unwind.
      • The easiest yoga pose to start with is the child’s pose.
      • There are also other yoga sequences available on the internet that are specially designed to relieve menstrual cramps.
  • Heating Pads or Warm Compresses
  • Tea
    • Tea can have a calming effect on the body which may help ease some of the pain.
      • Peppermint Tea, Ginger Tea, Fennel Seed Tea, Chamomile Tea, and Red Raspberry Leaf Tea are some of those most common teas that are known to help.
        • Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties which help alleviate cramps.
        • Peppermint has a calming and numbing effect.
        • Chamomile can help with any stomach related issues.
        • Lastly, Red Raspberry Leaf Tea helps to balance hormones and strengthen the immune system.  It is also very high in vitamins like Vitamin C and Magnesium.
    • The newest fad, golden milk, can also help if tea is not preferred.
      • Golden Milk usually contains turmeric and ginger. Both have very well known anti-inflammatory properties and it can help heal any internal inflammation.
  • Sleep
  • Nutritious Foods
    • Nature can be the best medicine. It is important to try to get most of the nutrients from foods consumed on a daily basis.
      • Foods like bananas, broccoli, oranges, watermelon, leafy greens, salmon, or chocolate can help the body fight back during the time of the month.
  • Herbs and/or Supplements
    • Chaste Tree
      • Chaste Tree (otherwise known as Vitex) can help balance hormones, promote a healthy cycle, and provide PMS relief.
    • Red Raspberry Leaf
      • Red Raspberry Leaf can help ease cramps by toning the uterus and balancing hormones. It also is high in magnesium which can relax tense and contracting muscles.
    • Shatavari
      • Shatavari can also help with balancing hormones, detoxing, normal digestion, immunity, mood, abdominal pain or cramps, and estrogen production.
    • Magnesium
    • Vitamin C
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger
    • Iron

Overall, several steps can be taken in order to maintain a healthy hormonal balance and ease any discomfort that might be experienced during the time of the month.

Resources:

http://rubycup.com/blog/herbs-menstruation-red-raspberry-leaf-tea-relieve-menstrual-pain/

https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-for-menstruation

https://www.sepalika.com/living-well/benefits-of-melatonin/

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/chaste-tree

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/shatavari

https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/child-s-pose

Combatting Oxidative Stress with Sarsaparilla

Our bodies are under constant attack whether the stress we face is due to a positive or negative life event. We are undeniably exposed to free radicals and carcinogens in our environment every single day. Naturally, these everyday stresses can take a toll on the body and cause an increase in free radicals as a consequence of oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress essentially happens when there is a disruption between the balance of free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies. The increase of free radicals causes damage to our DNA and genes. This can lead to bigger problems as it has been identified as a possible precursor for cancer and an underlying cause of most chronic diseases. It can trigger diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or Huntington’s.

Fortunately, there are ways to reverse damage to ensure that there is no long-term damage to our bodies. Supplements like sarsaparilla or glutathione can help to protect and restore the body.

Sarsaparilla can encourage normal cell growth which may prevent cancer and tumors. It is also very high in antioxidants which is an important component of reversing damage caused by oxidative stress. This is crucial as antioxidants prevent oxidation from occurring which saves the body from being attacked further. One of the other most powerful antioxidants in our bodies is glutathione. Levels of glutathione can become depleted when the body is fighting an infection or under immense amounts of stress, so supplementation may be necessary. Like sarsaparilla, it can help keep the immune system strong and fight off the common cold and cough symptoms.

Sarsaparilla and glutathione are also known for their blood-purifying and anti-inflammatory properties. Both aid the body in its natural detoxification process and can reduce the amount of inflammation in the body. This can help ease headaches, joint discomfort, and other ailments caused by too much inflammation.

In addition to supplements, lifestyle changes should be implemented, and self-care should be made a priority. Eating healthy and nutritious foods is the first step. Meditation and exercise can help calm the mind and body. Listening to music, taking detox Epsom salt baths, and going to the sauna can also help to bring the body back to homeostasis. Writing and engaging in hobbies also help to relax the mind. Prevention is always the key and self-care can help ensure that our bodies do not get as affected by our daily stresses.

Resources:

https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/sarsaparilla
https://www.healthline.com/health/glutathione-benefits
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/sarsaparilla
https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress#risk-factors