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Just 10 Minutes of Meditation Boosts Mood and Focus for People With Anxiety

It also prompted a shift away from future-oriented worrying and helped people focus on the present. 

People who suffer from anxiety are often plagued by repetitive thoughts, which can distract from the task at hand and affect mood and productivity. But a new study suggests that just 10 minutes of daily meditation can help reduce episodes of mind wandering, especially for people who report high levels of emotional stress.

Previous research has found that meditation can help prevent “off-task thinking” in healthy individuals, but this study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, aimed to determine the benefits of mindfulness specifically as they relate to anxiety.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo asked 82 college students, all of whom met the clinical criteria for anxiety, to perform a monotonous computer task that measured their ability to stay focused. At random points throughout, the participants were asked to reveal their thoughts “just prior to this moment.”

Then they divided the participants into two groups: One listened to an excerpt from The Hobbit, and the other listened to a 10-minute meditation that instructed them to focus on breathing and “remain open-minded to their experience.” (You can listen to the same recording, called Mindfulness of Body and Breath, here.)

The groups then repeated the computer task. This time, 43 percent of thoughts in the meditation group were considered “mind wandering,” meaning they weren’t related to the task or to things going on around them, down slightly from 44 percent in the pre-test.

In the group that listened to the audio story, the percentage of mind-wandering thoughts actually increased—from 35 percent in the pre-test to 55 percent in the post-test.

The meditation group also reported a significant decrease in “future-oriented thoughts,” from 35 percent before the mindfulness exercise to 25 percent after. This could indicate a shift in thinking from internal worries (about tomorrow’s exam, for example) to things going on around them in the moment (say, a dirty computer monitor or a flickering light), the authors say. That’s important, because stressing about future events is a hallmark of anxiety.

And while meditation didn’t reduce all forms of off-task thinking in the study (like being distracted by external stimuli), it did appear to lessen performance disruptions associated with those thoughts. Both groups also experienced a decrease in negative emotions between the pre-test and the post-test.

“In short, meditation is beneficial in both improving mood and helping people stay focused in their thoughts and also behaviors,” says lead author and PhD student Mengran Xu. “The two do go together.”

Mind wandering accounts for almost half of humans’ daily stream of consciousness, Xu adds. It can cause us to make errors on everyday tasks, like mailing an envelope without its contents, but it’s also been associated with an increased risk of injury and death while driving, difficulties in school, and impaired performance in everyday life.

By Amanda MacMillan        May 3, 2017


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Busy Schedules are Putting Children’s Health at Risk

‘Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,’ says child therapist

According to child and family therapist Michele Kambolis, children are vulnerable to anxiety and stress preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.

Busy schedules, too many worries and a lack of sleep could be threatening the health of your children, one expert is warning parents.

Vancouver-based child and family therapist Michele Kambolis says she often hears from children who say they are working with tutors or doing homework late into the night.

“Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,” she says.

But getting enough sleep is crucial to a child’s development, Kambolis says.

“It’s a non-negotiable part of their health. Children who are sleep-deprived are at risk for a whole host of problems including difficulties at school.”

Cultural attitudes to sleep play a big role, she notes.

“We seem to live in a culture that doesn’t value sleep in the way that it should,” she says.
“Our lifestyles are more hurried and more worried and a lot of busy, busy activity is falling into the time of day when children really need brain rest.
“We’re focusing on high productivity and we know that children match us. They match our choice and our behaviour.
“It’s really important to create a clear delineation between the busyness of the day and nighttime when children can wind down, lean into our care and talk about whatever worries have arisen throughout the day.”

(Natalie Holdway/CBC)

Some of her tips include:

  • Cut back on children’s screen time an hour and a half before bed.
  • If nighttime wetting is a problem, help keep kids dry by using absorbent bedtime pants.
  • Address dietary issues. Caffeine and sugar late in the day makes it very difficult for kids to sleep at night.
  • Practice ways to calm the mind and body in order to facilitate sleep.
  • Communicate with teachers, day care providers or other caregivers about how the child is functioning through the day to see if a lack of sleep is causing concern.

 

CBC News      Posted: May 17, 2017 
source; www.cbc.ca


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This Mineral May Be Key to Protecting Your Bones (It’s Not Calcium)

Calcium and vitamin D may get the spotlight when it comes to bone health, but there’s another mineral that plays a role in keeping your skeleton strong: It’s magnesium, and 67% of the body’s stores for this mineral are found in your bones. Now, research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology suggests magnesium could help prevent fractures.

While previous research had revealed that magnesium supports bone growth, no study had tied the mineral to risk of bone fractures. Tapping into over 20 years of data on 2,245 men, investigators in Britain and Finland compared the men’s magnesium blood levels to their risk of fracture. They discovered that the higher a man’s magnesium, the lower his risk of fracture.

Magnesium works with bone building cells (aka osteoblasts), and works in conjunction with vitamin D and parathyroid hormone to keep calcium levels normal, and fracture risk low. Medical factors affecting magnesium absorption include inflammatory bowel disease (or other chronic diarrhea problems), kidney insufficiency or certain medications.

So, how much magnesium should you eat? The recommended daily intake for adults over 31 years of age is 320 mg for females and 420 mg for males. Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and cashews are rich in magnesium. Other food sources include oatmeal, milk, peanut butter, spinach, broccoli, peas and beets.

However, the Finnish study couldn’t link dietary intake of magnesium to higher blood levels of magnesium, which is strange. Although the study authors aren’t sure why food couldn’t boost levels, previous research suggests an improvement in bone density among menopausal women who took supplements of magnesium hydroxide.

The bottom line is that eating foods high in magnesium still makes sense, since those foods tend to be healthy. If you’re at elevated risk for osteoporosis or fracture talk to your physician or a registered dietitian about taking magnesium supplements.

BY JENNIFER BOWERS, PHD, RD
source: www.rd.com


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10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is one of the most underrated minerals, but it’s involved in literally hundreds of your body’s functions. Pay attention to it, and your body will thank you.

So what’s the deal with magnesium?

Magnesium is involved in numerous bodily functions, from relaxing sore muscles to relieving anxiety, though it isn’t as widely discussed as other vitamins and minerals. Holistic nutrition coach Andrea Moss of Moss Wellness in New York City says magnesium deficiencies are such a big focus in her practice because nutritionists see the effects so frequently. “So many clients of ours are surprised to hear about it, since it usually isn’t discussed by their physicians,” she says. Don’t let that happen to you—check out our tips for what magnesium deficiency signs you might be ignoring.

You kind of hate vegetables

The most common cause of magnesium deficiencies is a diet deprived of magnesium-rich foods. “Many of us are magnesium deficient because we aren’t necessarily eating enough magnesium-rich foods,” says Moss. Moss recommends veggies, brown rice, nuts and seeds to adjust this.

You’re so stressed out

If you’re under a lot of stress, your body will react chemically and magnesium levels can be affected. “Stress also can make us more prone to magnesium deficiency, as can excessive sweating from workouts,” says Moss. Try to take it easy, both mentally and physically, and your body will thank you.

Junk food is one of your food groups

Replacing fruit with Fruit Roll-Ups can wreak havoc on your magnesium levels. “Normal, healthy people should get enough magnesium as long as they eat enough fruit, vegetables, and complex starches/whole grains,” says Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition in Florida. “You can see how a poor diet quality could result in these deficiencies!” These are good clues you’re eating too many preservatives.

The littlest things can give you a headache

If your head is pounding and you can’t seem to shake it, you might want to get tested for a magnesium deficiency. People often have headaches when their magnesium levels are low, says Auslander.

You’re constipated

You might not think about magnesium levels when you’re constipated, but you should. Auslander says people often experience constipation precisely when their magnesium levels are too low.

You’re more shaky or twitchy lately

A little shake here or there might not seem like a big deal, but take it seriously. Nutritionist Alyse Levine MS, RD of Nutritionbite in California warns that chronically low levels of magnesium can lead to more serious problems like an irregular heartbeat or even seizures. It’s also a good idea to be aware of these other symptoms of atrial fibrillation.

Your energy levels are MIA

Magnesium helps energize your body, so if you don’t have enough of it, you’ll feel weak. “Magnesium is involved in at least 300 different chemical reactions in our body, and a lot have to do with energy production,” says Alison Boden, MPH, RD, functional medicine nutritionist in California. “A sign of low magnesium can be low energy.”

You’re not sleeping well

While magnesium can be used to treat a number of medical issues, and Boden uses it the most for sleep problems. “If patients have a hard time winding down, we use magnesium therapeutically to help with that,” says Boden. “It’s a muscle relaxant that can slow things down bit and help with sleep.”

You’re dealing with bone loss problems

A lot of magnesium is stored in bones, so Boden says a deficiency in it can cause bone loss when there isn’t enough magnesium over a long period of time.

You have low levels of vitamin D

When low magnesium levels lead to low vitamin D levels, a whole cascade of problems develop. “We need magnesium to absorb vitamin D. Too much calcium can actually lower absorption as well, so we need to find a balance between all these vitamins and minerals,” says Manuel Villacorta MS, registered dietitian and founder of Whole Body Reboot in California. “This stuff can happen to everyone.”

BY ALEXANDRA WHITTAKER
source: www.rd.com


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How Trying Something Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Pull You Out of a Mental Rut

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

Have you ever come to a crossroad in your life?

You know something needs to change, but you have more than one option—and it feels like there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the right choice.

That was me a few months ago.

I was stressed, overworked, and in what you would probably call a rut. Fatigued and struggling to get things done, I initially thought that all I needed was a break. But I soon realized that that wasn’t the case.

What had happened was that being tired had driven me to get stuck in a messy cycle of negative thoughts, and every time I tried to untangle little problems, things seemed to get worse.

Everyone around me was telling me to take a rest. But intuitively, I didn’t think a rest was what I needed. I’m generally a confident guy, but if you spend enough time in your own head, doubt will always begin to plant its seeds.

What I needed wasn’t a break—it was a confidence boost.

So what was my cure for the escalating stress?

What was my grand plan to beat this anxiety?

I thought I’d try stand-up comedy.

Yep. I thought I would do one of the most stressful things most people can imagine. I would get up in front of a crowd and try to make them laugh. So I did.

In the lead up to the night of my set, all the anxiety that I had been feeling was amplified.

As I sat behind the curtain waiting to go on stage, my palms sweaty, leg tapping furiously, I tried to breathe slowly to calm myself down, but my thoughts raced so quickly I couldn’t even make them out. Why was I doing this? Should I just get up and leave right now? Who would knowingly put themselves through something like this?

It was too late. My name was called, I stood up, opened the curtain, and….

It actually went really well.

Don’t get me wrong. It was every bit as scary as I expected, but as I predicted, it shook my brain up enough to break free of the mental rut I was in.

And while it didn’t solve everything overnight, it did set off a chain reaction of renewed attitudes and choices, which left me with more energy, vitality, and positivity than I had had for months.

So without further ado,
here are five ways pushing your comfort zone can pull you out of a mental rut

1. It gives you a reference experience for future challenges.

When it’s been a long time since you really pushed yourself, a new challenge can seem incredibly daunting. Your first response is usually “How on earth am I going to do that?”

If, on the other hand, you’ve done something difficult relatively recently, your brain will immediately look to that reference experience as an example.

Since the night of the comedy, I’ve been fortunate to achieve quite a lot in a short amount of time. That’s because every time I face a difficult task, I try to think, “Well, could be hard, but if I could do stand-up comedy, I can definitely do this.”

2. It makes you feel alive again.

A mental rut will depress your emotions and that means you will feel less of the good stuff. The longer this goes on, the easier it is for your body to forget what vitality feels like.

By having a huge rush of neurochemicals like adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, you immediately remember just how great it can feel to be alive.

3. It can redefine your self-image.

After having spent some time in a mental rut, I started to lose confidence. When I thought about who I was and what I was capable of, I started to constantly reflect on what I hadn’t been able to achieve.

However, when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I started to again think of myself as the person who could do difficult things.

Our self-image is such a vague and always changing idea in our minds, but it is one that unavoidably has a big impact on our lives. By doing things that allow you to have a positive self-image, you gather the momentum to pull yourself out of tough times.

4. It will inspire others.

Inspiring other people around you, by pushing your comfort zone, has a number of benefits.

For one, it will change how they perceive you and how they act toward you, and in doing so alter the perception that you have of yourself.

But maybe even more importantly, inspiring people around you can encourage them to push their own comfort zones, and their actions will in turn inspire you. When you spend more and more time around people who are helping each other grow, you’ll all benefit from each other’s positivity, and the boundaries of what you believe is possible will expand.

5. It reminds you that emotions will come and go.

For the last few years, I’ve made a big effort to try and embrace one of the fundamental truths in both eastern spirituality and western psychology: that emotions will come and go; they are just experiences and do not define you.

But I’m only human. So like everyone else I’m constantly forgetting and re-remembering of this truth. Sometimes it’s as simple as noticing the differences in your mood change between morning and evening, and sometimes it’s more profound, such as doing something you never thought possible.

So what does this mean about you?

If you’re going through a mental rut or even a period of depression, and you don’t think it’s simply a matter of needing a rest, try doing something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

I’ve heard of countless experiences of someone doing something new, whether it be surfing, jumping out of a plane, or even traveling to a new place, and it’s completely changed their situation. If you decide to do so, at the very least you’ll have a wonderful new experience to refer to.

Remember that if you’re in a mental rut, you’re not alone. Everyone goes through it at one stage or another, and reaching out to others is important.


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More Evidence Linking Stress to Obesity

Using hair to measure long-term levels of the stress hormone cortisol, UK researchers confirm the link between chronic stress and packing on pounds, as well as difficulty shedding excess weight.

Previous research has tied high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, urine or saliva to obesity, but these measurements can vary based on factors like the time of day and don’t capture long-term stress levels, the study team notes in the journal Obesity.

“When people are facing a stressful situation, a chain reaction is set off in the body that results in the release of cortisol, leading to higher levels of this hormone in the body,” said lead study author Sarah Jackson of University College London.
“Cortisol is involved in a broad range of biological processes, including metabolism, body composition and the accumulation of body fat,” Jackson said by email. “When we’re stressed out we may also find it more difficult to find the motivation to go for a run or resist unhealthy foods.”

Stress sets off alarms in the brain that trigger the nervous system to release hormones to sharpen the senses, tense the muscles, speed up the pulse and deepen breathing. Commonly called a flight or flight response, this biological reaction helps us defend ourselves in threatening situations.

Isolated or temporary stressful situations may not be harmful, but routine exposure to stress can lead to immune system problems, heart disease, nervous system complications and mental health disorders in addition to obesity.

For the study researchers examined data collected from men and women aged 54 and older taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Participants underwent tests every two years starting in 2002, and during the sixth wave of the study they provided a hair clipping.

The study team tested cortisol levels that accumulated in the hair over time in 2,527 men and women and found that participants with more cortisol in their hair were also more likely to be obese or have lots of excess fat around their midsection.

Researchers looked at cortisol levels in the two centimeters of hair closest to the scalp, which typically represents about two months’ growth. They also looked at weight, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height.

Participants who were classified as obese based on their BMI or waist circumference had particularly high levels of hair cortisol, the study found. Analyzing weight and body fat data from assessments in the four years prior to when the hair clipping was taken, researchers also found that obesity tended to persist over time for the people with the highest cortisol levels.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove how stress directly impacts cortisol levels or weight gain.

Other limitations include the primarily white, older adult study population, which means results may be different with younger people or other racial or ethnic groups, the authors note.

Even so, the findings add to growing evidence linking stress to obesity, said Dr. Susan Fried, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Cortisol is released in response to many stresses, Fried, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. Chronically high cortisol is thought to promote fat accumulation around the waist and increase the ability of fat cells to store fat.

The fix for stressed out people looking to shed excess pounds isn’t clear from the study results, however.

“I don’t think there is strong evidence or consistent studies showing stress reduction itself causes weight loss,” Fried said. “There is accumulating evidence that sleep is very important; people overeat when under-rested.”

The findings do suggest that people may need to take a holistic approach to weight loss that goes beyond diet and exercise to consider factors like stress, said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut.

“You might think you need to improve your diet, or exercise more, and that’s true,” Katz, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “But for you, the first priority might be to manage stress better so you are more capable of doing those things, and reduce a hormonal barrier to weight control into the bargain.”

By Lisa Rapaport   Reuters Health
 
SOURCE: bit.ly/2kX4fQk Obesity, online February 23, 201.     www.reuters.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • People who enjoy helping others and or spending money on others tend to be less stressed, happier and live longer.
  • Extroverted people are likely to overlook typos and grammatical errors that would cause introverted people to negatively judge the writer. 
  • Studies show those who don’t eat breakfast, or eat it only sometimes, are twice as likely to be overweight as those who eat two breakfasts.

 

  • Women cry on average between 30 and 64 times a year, while men cry between 6 and 17 times.
  • Left-handed people tend to have more emotional and behavioral problems than right-handed people.
  • Listening to music at high volumes can make a person calmer, happier and more relaxed.
  • The more stressed you are, the slower your wounds and illnesses heal.
  • A recent study shows that exercise alone doesn’t help with weight loss. It’s your diet that should be the main focus.
Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact