Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Real Preventive Medicine: The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy

Elson M. Haas, MD

What is called “Preventive Medicine” in America in the 21st Century is really more appropriately termed early intervention and early diagnosis. Having immunization injections or taking tests such as x-rays and mammograms, prostate exams, and blood tests are not really preventive in nature. Rather, they are an attempt to detect diseases in an early state. What is promoted as cancer prevention with the use of mammograms or prostate exams, sigmoidoscopes or colonoscopes is really early cancer diagnosis. This is done in hopes that cancer can be aggressively attacked before it spreads and destroys the entire body and life. Cancer represents a state of toxicity and its reaction on cellular mechanisms in the body; it is a disease of our body and not separate from it, and represents some breakdown or misguidance of our intricate immune system. After it occurs, it clearly is difficult to treat without great measures. Preventing cancer (and cardiovascular diseases, for that matter) is indeed an important goal in preventive medicine.

Real Preventive Medicine—preventing acute and chronic diseases—in other words, Staying Healthy, results from the way we live. We are a culmination of our life experiences. Our health is a by-product of our life, our genes and constitutional state, our upbringing and the habits we develop, our diets, our stresses and how we deal with them, our illnesses and how we treat them (whether we attempt to discover the underlying cause and change our lifestyle so we no longer manifest disease patterns)—all of this and more affects the level of health and vitality we experience. How we live—our lifestyle choices—is the key to long-term health, quality of life, and vitality in our later years.

The five keys to good health and disease prevention are:

  • Diet—what we eat and how, i.e. our intake habits.
  • Exercise—stretching and working our body regularly to keep it flexible and strong.
  • Sleep—adequate rest and sleep (and dream time) for each of us is crucial to “recharging our batteries,” healing many problems, keeping our moods balanced and staying healthy.
  • Stress Management—learning to deal with life’s ups and downs.
  • Attitude—keeping a positive outlook so we treat our self and others with the life-supporting respect and care we deserve.

The first level of dietary reform involves assessing potentially-toxic daily habits, such as the regular use of sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals—what I call our SNACCs—and cleaning these up or taking breaks from them to re-assess our health potential and how we feel. I believe all of these substance abuses so common in modern-day cultures act as insidious poisons when used consistently over the years. The incidence of chronic, debilitating disease is steadily growing in our culture and these long-term habits are also prime contributors to this poor health in our aging years.

My nutritional message in my personal life, practice and my books has been to turn back (or forward) to a nature-based diet for greater vitality and health, to eat closer to the earth’s food source, from the gardens, farmer’s market, from the orchards, away from the boxed and canned foods and the refined and “chemicalized” cuisine. Focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, and much less animal-based foods and refined/processed foods will greatly improve health, both in our immediate future and over the years.

5keys

Our exercise program must be frequent (at least three to four times a week), consistent over the years, and balanced, which is very important. A balanced exercise program should include regular stretching for flexibility, weight work for building tone and strength, and aerobics for endurance and stamina. Exercising regularly commonly improves body function and health as well as attitude. It is one of our best stress managers, relaxers, and mood elevators.

We should exercise realistically at our current level of physical strength and endurance so that we can progress consistently and avoid injury. If we are just beginning and not in great shape, we can start slowly and build as our stamina and strength improve. If we have been working out regularly and are already fit, then it is beneficial to periodically evaluate our state and progress, and then make appropriate changes to exercise at our full potential.

Sleep offers life’s balance for all of our activity, and that’s physical, mental and emotional activity, too. Like breathing fresh air, drinking good quality water, and eating a nourishing diet, our nightly quality sleep is crucial to our well-being. There are many stages of sleep important to our body’s recharging itself, and although we all do not regularly recollect our dreams, we need to sleep deeply enough to go into that theta wave, REM (rapid-eye-movement), dream sleep. If we are not sleeping well, applying the other principles of Preventive Medicine, such as eating well and avoiding stimulants, exercising regularly earlier in the day, and managing stress may all be helpful. And we don’t have to turn to medications for sleep because there are many natural remedies that can help, such as calcium and magnesium, L-tryptophan, and many herbal relaxers.

Managing stress is a key element in minimizing health risk and enjoying life. Stresses are our body/mind responses to our personal experiences and we are individual in the issues to which we respond and react. There are so many illnesses and diseases that are generated or worsened by stress that it is imperative each of us develop skills to deal with mental and physical demands and emotional challenges. Simple relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, sports, outdoor activities, and especially internal disciplines like yoga or tai chi are all extremely valuable in dealing with both daily and long-term stress.

I believe one of the greatest problems of modern day life is the Indigestion of Life. Most of us do not have enough personal time to digest and assimilate our daily experiences— work, relationships, and food that we experience rapid-fire throughout our day-to-day existence. This leads to the implosion of energy and the potential explosion of emotions or bodily symptoms. These are our body’s attempt to convey messages we do not have time to receive and incorporate. Here again, it would be helpful if we were to take time to quiet ourselves, to breathe and listen, to digest and assimilate, to experience and enjoy. Taking time to clear ourselves, to become current and ready for new creativity and life is a concept and an activity that can lead us to more optimum health.

Likewise, staying positive and motivated to experience life, unafraid to handle challenges or deal with uncomfortable emotions is also crucial to health. Lifestyle Medicine is the highest art of healing for each of us. As a doctor, I believe the most important thing I can do is to encourage my patients and readers to make personal changes in their lifestyle—diet, exercise, proper sleep, stress management, and attitude. If our lifestyle supports health, then we can influence our own health over the course of our entire lives.

Our personal health and well-being is up to each of us. We can begin by first assessing our health and lifestyle. What changes will provide us with more energy, greater clarity and vitality, and better overall health and longevity? We can create a plan to implement and experience a better quality of health with fewer sick days, fewer doctor’s visits, and a more enjoyable and livable life.

Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.
This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.

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Stress Is 50% More Likely to Cause Depression In One Gender, Study Finds

Stress contributes to depression but it all depends on how you cope with it.

Men are 50% more vulnerable to depression from stress than women, a new study finds.

The research followed up men over 25 years to reach the surprising conclusion.

Women are usually thought of as the gender who are more vulnerable to depression.

Women, though, may be better able to cope with stress because of the way they are exposed to it, said Dr. Shervin Assari, the study’s first author:

“Differential exposure to stress may help women better mobilize their psychological resources, which protect them when needed.”

One explanation for why men are more vulnerable to stress is that they are less likely to talk about their emotions.

Young man in the dark

 

Dr. Assari said:

“In our society, as men, we learn to see this as a weakness, as suggested by gender role identity theorists.
Hegemonic masculinity is a barrier to seek care and talk about emotions. This at least in part explains why men less frequently seek help, either professional or inside of their social networks.
Our research suggests this may come with a price for men.”

Men under stress would do well to remember that being a man is not about keeping it all inside, said Dr. Assari:

“Men should improve the way they cope and the way they mobilize their resources when they face stressful events.
They should learn from women on how to talk about emotions and use resources.
Men exposed to a lot of stress should take it seriously.
They should know being a man is not all about power.
It also comes with vulnerabilities.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health (Assari et al., 2016).

source: PsyBlog


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The 5-Minute Fix to A Bad Day

By: Jordyn Cormier     January 17, 2016

We all have bad days. Your alarm doesn’t go off. Your breakfast bar becomes smooshed after you sit on it in the car. You get stuck in deadlock traffic. And, to top it all off, you are callously berated for being late to work. Things happen—sometimes we have little control over our circumstances. But what do you do in these tough times? Do you just grumble and lean into the negativity that your life is pushing? Or do you launch a positivity counterattack?

Don’t just settle into a bad day. You attract whatever mood you are putting out. If you’re angry and negative, only more negativity will find you, while if you smile in spite of the difficulties, positive things will begin to take shape. The truth is, you can turn any bad mood around in relatively little time if you set your mind to it. What is the secret, you ask? The secret is immersing yourself in something you love. That’s right. All it takes is 5 minutes—5 minutes of complete and utter love. Find something that always make you smile, whether it’s your favorite song, a steaming cup of hot cocoa, a brisk jog or your favorite poem. Whatever it is, completely immerse yourself in that for 5 minutes. Do not wallow over your bad day—sink yourself into this positive activity. Blast your favorite song on your headphones or in your car and sing along and dance. Allow happiness to flood you and keep worries at bay for 5 minutes. Most of the time, this small break from the negative cycle is enough to turn your day and your mood around.

Can’t access your go-to favorite things? There is another simple action that can turn a bad mood swiftly around. It lies in the magic of your smile. By forcing yourself to smirk or smile for a few minutes, your emotions will start to follow suit.

“Charles Darwin first posed the idea that emotional responses influence our feelings in 1872. ‘The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it,’ he wrote.” (Scientific American)

By exhibiting happiness on the outside, it can cause you to feel the actual emotion within. Studies have shown that those who have had botox injections, which make frowning difficult, experience more happiness than those studies who did not receive injections and could frown freely. So, if you’re having a rough time, keep a grin on your face and everything will feel a heck of a lot more manageable.

Fitting something you absolutely love into your schedule is a quick remedy to invigorate any bad day. It’s very similar to meditation, in fact. Try to make it a regular practice—much like (and perhaps in replacement of) your 3 o’clock caffeine or sugar fix. Whether you’re smiling, dancing, sketching or indulging in a small mocha, you will be amazed at how powerful 5 minutes of pure positivity and love can be.


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7 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal With Stress

Jul 27, 2015   Amy Morin     What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

While stress causes some people to crumble, mentally strong people are able to thrive despite added tension. In fact, they view adversity as an opportunity for growth. Whether they’re dealing with financial setbacks, health problems, or workplace difficulties, mentally strong people don’t let stress drag them down.

Here are 7 ways mentally strong people handle stress effectively:

1. They accept that stress is part of life.

While some people waste time and energy thinking things like, “I shouldn’t have to deal with this,” mentally strong people know that setbacks, problems, and hardships are inevitable. When stressful situations arise, they devote their efforts into doing what they can to move forward. Even when they can’t change the circumstances, they know they can always take steps to improve their lives.

2. They keep problems in proper perspective.

Rather than think that a flat tire has the power to ruin their whole day, mentally strong people keep inconveniences in proper perspective. When tempted to catastrophize a minor event — such as thinking one mistake could ruin their whole career — they respond by reframing the message they give themselves, and refuse to allow a pessimistic inner monologue to take hold.

mental strength

3. They take care of their physical health.

Mentally strong people recognize the importance of keeping their bodies in smooth operating condition. They recognize they won’t be able to combat stress if they’re worn out and running on empty. They exercise, get plenty of sleep, and maintain a diet that keeps them healthy.

4. They choose healthy coping skills.

While some people turn to alcohol, junk food, or other unhealthy vices to help them escape stress, mentally strong people cope with discomfort in a productive manner. They allow themselves to feel uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, fear, and sadness head-on. They use healthy activities, like going for a walk or participating in a hobby, to cope with emotional pain.

5. They balance social activity with solitude.

Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid facing problems, people fill their schedules with social activities. Others deal with stress by withdrawing from friends and family. Mentally strong people strike a balance: They maintain a healthy social life even when they’re stressed, but they also reserve time to be alone with their thoughts.

6.They acknowledge their choices.

Stress can cause people to feel like victims of bad circumstances. Mentally strong people acknowledge that everything they do, from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep, is a choice. They’re willing to say no to things they don’t want to do and they accept responsibility for their behavior.

7. They look for the silver lining.

Mentally strong people don’t necessarily see the world through rose-colored glasses—they have a realistic outlook—but they do look for the silver lining in tough circumstances. They recognize that good things can come from stressful situations. Rather than allowing hardship to turn them into bitter people or helpless victims, they choose to use stressful circumstances to become stronger and better.

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.     What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do    Training your brain for happiness and success


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20 Signs You’re Doing Better Than You Think You Are

This post was written by Brianna Wiest and originally appeared on Thought Catalog.

#1. You paid the bills this month, and maybe even had extra to spend on non-necessities. It doesn’t matter how much you belabored the checks as they went out, the point is that they did, and you figured it out regardless.

#2. You question yourself. You doubt your life. You feel miserable some days. This means you’re still open to growth. This means you can be objective and self-aware. The best people go home at the end of the day and think: “or… maybe there’s another way.”

#3. You have a job. For however many hours, at whatever rate, you are earning money that helps you eat something, sleep on something, wear something every day. It’s not failure if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would – you’re valuing your independence and taking responsibility for yourself.

#4. You have time to do something you enjoy. Even if “what you enjoy” is sitting on the couch and ordering dinner and watching Netflix.

#5. You are not worried about where your next meal is coming from. There’s food in the fridge or pantry, and you have enough to actually pick and choose what you want to eat.

#6. You can eat because you enjoy it. It’s not a matter of sheer survival.

#7. You have one or two truly close friends. People worry about the quantity but eventually tend to realize the number of people you can claim to be in your tribe has no bearing on how much you feel intimacy, acceptance, community, or joy. At the end of the day, all we really want are a few close people who know us (and love us) no matter what.

#8. You could afford a subway ride, cup of coffee, or the gas in your car this morning. The smallest conveniences (and oftentimes, necessities) are not variables for you.

#9. You’re not the same person you were a year ago. You’re learning, and evolving, and can identify the ways in which you’ve changed for better and worse.

success

#10. You have the time and means to do things beyond the bare minimum. You’ve maybe been to a concert in the last few years, you buy books for yourself, you could take a day trip to a neighboring city if you wanted – you don’t have to work all hours of the day to survive.

#11. You have a selection of clothing at your disposal. You aren’t worried about having a hat or gloves in a blizzard, you have cool clothes for the summer and something to wear to a wedding. You not only can shield and decorate your body, but can do so appropriately for a variety of circumstances.

#12. You can sense what isn’t right in your life. The first and most crucial step is simply being aware. Being able to communicate to yourself: “something is not right, even though I am not yet sure what would feel better.”

#13. If you could talk to your younger self, you would be able so say: “We did it, we made it out, we survived that terrible thing.” So often people carry their past traumas into their present lives, and if you want any proof that we carry who we were in who we are, all you need to do is see how you respond to your inner child hearing, you’re going to be okay, from the person they became.

#14. You have a space of your own. It doesn’t even have to be a home or apartment (but that’s great if it is). All you need is a room, a corner, a desk, where you can create or rest at your discretion; where you govern who gets to be part of your weird little world, and to what capacity. It’s one of the few controls we can actually exert.

#15. You’ve lost relationships. More important than the fact that you’ve simply had them in the first place is that you or your former partner chose not to settle. You opened yourself to the possibility of something else being out there.

#16. You’re interested in something. Whether it’s now how to live a happier life, maintain better relationships, reading or movies or sex or society or the axis on which the world spins, something intrigues you to explore it.

#17. You know how to take care of yourself. You know how many hours of sleep you need to feel okay the next day, who to turn to when you’re heartbroken, what you have fun doing, what to do when you don’t feel well, etc.

#18. You’re working toward a goal. Even if you’re exhausted and it feels miles away, you have a dream for yourself, however vague and malleable.

#19. But you’re not uncompromisingly set on anything for your future. Some of the happiest and best adjusted people are the ones who can make any situation an ideal, who are too immersed in the moment to intricately plan and decidedly commit to any one specific outcome.

#20. You’ve been through some crap. You can look at challenges you currently face and compare them to ones you thought you’d never get over. You can reassure yourself through your own experience. Life did not get easier, you got smarter.