Proper diet and exercise not only help in recovering from illness or injury, but can also help prevent cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many other common conditions.
Kinesiology places a strong emphasis on prevention and enhancement, and utilizes exercise and improved movement to achieve a better quality of life for individuals.
Please enjoy my Top 10 list for 2016 and enjoy a healthier 2016 as a result.
10. Cod Liver Oil – Good old fashioned fish oil that grandma forced mama to take when she headed out the door to walk several miles to school in the blistering cold and snow of the eastern coast of Canada. Cod Liver Oil has historically been taken because of its high vitamin A and vitamin D content.
Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. [National Institutes of Health, 2013]
Vitamin D is produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis, so during the long cold and dark Canadian winters where sunshine is scant, supplementing in Vitamin D is a necessity.
Vitamin D also promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets, osteomalacia and together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. [National Institute of Health, 2014]
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Cod Liver Oil is an often cheaper alternative to more expensive fish oils and with its naturally high Vitamin D content, there is little need to supplement with additional Vitamin D.
* Daily upper limits of Vitamin A are over-reached by 36% in one tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil. A high intake of cod liver oil by pregnant women is associated with a nearly fivefold increased risk of gestational hypertension. Therefore, if you are pregnant, nursing or if you have concerns about your Vitamin A levels, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor first before taking Cod Liver Oil.
9. Sleep 8 hours every night on a regular schedule. Sleep deprivation adversely affects the brain and cognitive function and causes weight gain.
Chronic dysregulation of sleep leads to weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioral changes in mice, similar to those observed in people who experience shift work or jet lag. Several studies including this one continue to support the regulation of sleep for improvement of conditions such a bipolar disorder.[National Institute of Health, 2012]
People experiencing short-term sleep restriction process glucose more slowly than individuals receiving a full 8 hours of sleep, increasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
Beware that you may not know you are experiencing short-term sleep restriction if you have a condition called Sleep Apnea, for one example. Sypmtoms of Sleep Apnea are excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Chronic snoring is a great indicator along with a proper diagnosis that includes:
- being male, overweight, obese, or over the age of 40
- having a large neck size (greater than 16–17 inches)
- enlarged tonsils, enlarged tongue, small jaw bone
- gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- allergies, sinus problems
- family history of sleep apnea, or deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
- alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers also promote sleep apnea by relaxing the throat
Also notable, in two studies [Wikepedia – Sleep Deprivation], a sleepless week down-regulated 444 genes, and up-regulated 267. Genes that were affected are related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Do everything you can to ensure a regular good night’s sleep. Move out that bedroom TV. Turn off your devices and completely cover any LEDs. Invest in blackout curtains and/or a quality eye mask.
8. Reduce EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Toxins. This is a relatively new area of research focusing on the toxic by-products of power lines, televisions, household electrical wiring, appliances and microwaves. EMF toxins come in all forms including those from cell phones, cell phone towers and wireless Internet connections.
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been shown to influence a range of bodily functions. The intermittent recommendation (until more research is complete) is that the public should follow the precautionary principle and limit their exposure as much as possible. [Advances in Biology, 2014]
Here are some helpful tips to reduce EMF toxins:
- Children should always avoid using cell phones
- Reduce your own cell phone use
- Use a land line at home and at work
- Reduce your use of other wireless devices, such as tablets
- Use your cell phone only where reception is good
- Avoid carrying your phone on your body
- Don’t assume one cell phone is safer than another
- Use safe headset technology
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Reduce your wireless and electronic usage. You may like to invest in a Himalayan Salt Crystal USB Lamp for your computer. The lamp may help reduce toxins. You may also like to try a MAS Mat treatment to counter balance your exposure at Ontario’s very own Grail Springs Spa located in Bancroft.
7. Compassion for not only others but for oneself. The origination of the term compassion is of Latin decent, and translates to co-suffering. More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly activates one’s will to alleviate another’s suffering. However, in eastern culture and Buddhism, compassion is taught specifically as co-suffering with one’s own self as well as with others.
In North American culture, we often don’t give our own selves a fighting chance. Over-working and depriving ourselves of sleep and noticing the negative consequences is all too common, e.g. weight gain and moodiness is one example. Not feeding ourselves well enough with nourishing healthy food and experiencing ill health and a weakened immune systems is another common failing. Not exercising our bodies regularly and ending up with debilitating joint problems and other chronic disabilities is yet another. Overindulging in gossip, negative self-talk, alcohol and stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks are in this category as well. Adjust your ability to know why you need to indulge and ask yourself what it needs to heal.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Starting now, please begin to pay attention to how compassionate you are toward your own self. You will reap the rewards and — others will too, as it is also well known in Buddhist culture that the one who’s heart centre whom is not nurtured is not ready to take care of another’s. Once you have nurtured your own self, you are ready to take on the world!
6. Cold Showers. Hydrotherapy (water therapy) has a scientific evidence-based effect on various systems of the body. [National Institute of Health, 2014] Hydrotherapy is the most basic method of treatment used in the system of natural medicine, which includes water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy (therapeutic bathing in mineral water). Bathing in water in various forms and temperatures can produce different effects on different system of the body.
One study showed that “regular winter swimming significantly decreased tension, fatigue, memory, and mood negative state points with the duration of swimming period; significantly increased vigor-activity scores; relieved pain who suffered from rheumatism, fibromyalgia, or asthma; and improved general well-being in swimmers” [International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 2004..
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: New Year’s Day Polar Dips are not only fabulous fundraisers, they are good for you! There are several Polar Dips in the Greater Toronto Area. Mark yours on the calendar now.
5. Find your Dr. Quiet. “The best doctors are Dr. Quiet, Dr. Diet and Dr. Merry”, Chinese Proverb.
Dr. Quiet is simple quiet time. Yes, there is meditation, but for now let’s just focus on quiet time. Turn off the tv, the phone and the lights. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells around you — whatever they may be. Of course, all of these may be more fruitful if you are on a mountain ridge out in nature, but you can make the most of your own dwelling. Aromatherapy and visualization may be helpful. Investigate which scent(s) pique your fancy at stores like Sage Natural Wellness.
Find an image of a beautiful place you have been or wish to go. Keep both with you and when you need a break — a visit with Dr. Quiet, find a suitable place to settle for a few moments. Pull out the photo and the scent and away you go. Dr. Quiet may make you smarter. “Not only can meditation prevent brain cells from dying, which typically happens as we age, it can boost a person’s brain size in several crucial regions. Furthermore, researchers have concluded that meditation can actually make a person more intelligent.” [Psychology Today , 2013]
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Finding your Dr. Quiet may make you smarter!
5. Don’t diet. I mean it. Dr. Diet doesn’t want you to starve yourself or avoid whole food groups. Dr. Diet wants you to take care of what your put in your body. Learn to nourish yourself to bring your body back into balance, naturally.
Once your body has everything it needs, the cravings will cease and your weight will stabilize. I highly recommend working with both a Naturopathic Doctor and Nutritionist with regard to Dr. Diet.
A Naturopathic Doctor can help to identify specific food allergies and/or sensitivities. He/she can also specifically address nutrition as it relates to your current medical condition(s) and prescribed medication(s).
A Nutritionist can more precisely put together both a mirco and macro eating plan for you to follow on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis with individual progressions or regressions depending on your goals and condition(s).
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: “Everything in moderation” is not cliche. Diets create imbalances. Yo-yo dieting slows your metabolism. Learn how to bring your body into balance naturally. Start by moderating just one indulgence today. Re-evaluate in 28 days and if you were successful, add another. If not, it is time to consider booking an appointment with your local Naturopathic Doctor or Certified Holistic Nutritionist.
4. If it hurts, move it! Of course, this is to your primary physician’s discretion. But the current trend in research is to keep moving. Sometimes this means to move through some pain. Here is a great online resource, “10 Exercises for People in Pain”.
A review of literature regarding chronic pain found that “patients who believe they can control their pain, who avoid catastrophizing about their condition, and who believe they are not severely disabled appear to function better than those who do not”. [Pain, 1991]
Another later study on chronic low back pain noted “exercise therapy that consists of individually designed programs, including stretching or strengthening, and that is delivered with supervision may improve pain and function in chronic nonspecific low back pain” [Annals of Internal Medicine, 2005].
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Keep moving! Find a registered professional like me, who can help you understand your condition better to ensure proper technique/recovery.
3. Reduce or avoid alcohol. You are best to consider reducing or avoiding alcohol especially if heart disease or osteoporosis runs in your family.
Significant magnesium deficiency occurs with chronic alcoholism [Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 1986.] This significant magnesium deficiency may contribute to the increased incidence of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease seen in this population [Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 1994].
With concern to chronic pain and magnesium research, should you suffer from chronic pain, it is worthy to consider reducing or avoiding alcohol altogether as well. Magnesium blocks your brain’s receptors of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that can cause neurons to be hypersensitive to pain. Therefore, if you are lower in magnesium, this may be why you are experiencing more pain.[Kaplan, DO., Dr. Gary. Total Recovery. A Revolutionary Approach to Breaking the Cycle of Pain and Depression]
From a purely preventative point of view, I recommend moderation. Never drink alone. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to at least 3 alcohol free days per week. Mark your consumption on a calendar to see your progress.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: The human body understands alcohol as poison. You are best to moderate your intake. Learn more about healthy limits.
2. Practice mindfulness. So I spoke of Dr. Quiet. And yes, he and mindfulness are distant cousins of sorts. Compassion and mindfulness also compliment each other very well. So what exactly is mindfulness, and how does one practice it?
By definition, mindfulness is described as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” [Google Definition, 2015]
How do we practice mindfulness?
- Breathe and smile. Relax. Take a moment to let go and just be. Enjoy it.
- Do standing meditation, while waiting in line for a movie, bus or train. Just stand there, breathe, and awaken.
- Whenever you sit down or stand up, stop and appreciate a moment of change, of freedom.
- Whenever you cross a threshold, go through a doorway, or enter a room, see it as entering a temple and do so with empathy.
- Walk barefoot in the grass or thick carpet and feel fully each sensation with your toes and soles.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Try just one of the above mindfullness exercises and see what happens. The here and now is a beautiful place.
1. Dr. Happy. Exercise your belly without doing crunches.
Laugh! Smile! Fake feeling good for no reason at all! Revisit watching those old favourite comedies from years gone by. Browse through your local bookstore, library or your very convenient online book retailer’s selection of joke books. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then copy them and keep them with you or hang them up at home or in your office.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
- Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air and stimulate many organs such as your heart, lungs and muscles, and it increases the feel-good chemical endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Laughter activates and relieves negative responses to stress.
- Laughter soothes tension.
- Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- Laughter can improve your immune system by boosting positive thoughts that actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Laughter can relieve pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
- Laughter can make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Laughter improves your mood and can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: (Please see cartoon below.)
Happy New Year everybody! All the best for a most healthy, happy and prosperous 2016!
Always check with your doctor first before taking any new medication, reducing or going off any medication, embarking on new fitness program, or when adding or changing the does of any natural supplements in your health plan.
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