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Effects of Alcohol: How Alcohol Affects Nutrition & Endurance In Women.

There is no doubt that alcohol can have adverse effects on people who choose to drink regularly and maybe to excess. While these effects are highly dependent on the physical and genetic makeup of each individual, women who drink alcohol experience unique effects.

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There is no doubt that alcohol can have adverse effects on people who choose to drink regularly and maybe to excess. While these effects are highly dependent on the physical and genetic makeup of each individual, women who drink alcohol experience unique effects. This article will explore how alcohol affects women regarding nutrition, endurance, and other essential functions in the body.

Why Do Women Face Higher Risks When Drinking Alcohol?

When compared to men, women will experience health problems sooner and often at lower drinking levels. This is due to several factors. First and foremost, women weigh less than men on average. Another factor is the amount of water present in the body. According to information provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, when alcohol is consumed, its highest concentration is found in body water.  

On average, women have lower body water content than men. As a result, women can drink the same amount of alcohol as a man and have higher blood alcohol content. A higher concentration of alcohol in the body often leads to a higher risk of health issues among women.

How Does Alcohol Affect Nutrition and Other Body Functions in Women?

With increased and regular alcohol consumption, women can experience a myriad of health issues. Firstly, alcohol has significant impacts on nutrition in women. When alcohol enters the system, it converts the sugars to fatty acids. Alcohol has no nutritional value and can block the body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients it needs for optimal body functions. Secondly, alcohol is a depressant that acts on the body. The depressive effects of alcohol cause a decrease in stamina, endurance, and performance.

Another body function impacted by alcohol consumption in women is the production of hormones. Alcohol inhibits the functioning of the glands that release hormones. As a result, hormone levels can fluctuate, which can lead to many metabolic effects that negatively impact performance and psychological processes. 

Alcohol consumption can impact energy storage in the body, blood pressure, body growth, and reproductive issues. 

Sleep is another body function negatively impacted by alcohol use. Even moderate amounts of alcohol disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms that regulate sleep as well as energy and sex drive. When a woman’s circadian rhythm cycle is off, it is out of sync with the brain area known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This small but critical brain region coordinates sleep and wake cycles. Additionally, women who regularly drink are at higher risk of liver damage, heart disease, and have a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to the excess amounts of estrogen that is released through alcohol.

Is Alcohol Negatively Impacting your Performance? 

If you are a woman wanting to perform at peak levels, it may be worth assessing your physical and mental performance in regard to alcohol consumption While alcohol may provide some benefits to our general wellbeing and happiness, alcohol use can easily become a problem for some people.  Taking inventory of how much you drink and why you drink can provide valuable insight into your relationship with alcohol and will allow you to evaluate how it may be affecting your performance. Cutting back or eliminating alcohol from your life periodically can be the best way to truly understand its effects on your performance. 

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Caring For Aging Parents: 6 Ways to Keep Your Parents Fit In Their Old Age

When it comes to caring for aging parents, here are six things you can do to connect with them, keep their spirits up and help them feel integrated and important in their lives.

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Loneliness, isolation, hopelessness and boredom are all things people may feel as they age. They may not be able to remain as social as they once were,  their immobility could be a significant factor in making them feel isolated, there will inevitably be physical and/or mental health issues, and watching friends pass way might be making them stay at home more. When it comes to caring for aging parents, here are six things you can do to connect with them, keep their spirits up and help them feel integrated and important in their lives.

Child With Woman Holding Map

Encourage Them to Eat Healthily

Eating healthy is very important to maintain physical and mental fitness, even if you’re just starting in old age. People are more prone to illnesses as they get older, making it necessary to eat foods that can boost the immune system. Other than that, they also need all the essential nutrients from natural foods as they are better than supplements. 

Encourage them to eat foods that are:

  • Whole plant foods
  • High in fiber
  • High in protein
  • Low in processed sugars

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes are all great options. When taking care of aging parents, consider cooking meals for them in bulk (soups are a great option for this!), encouraging them to join healthy eating groups, subscribing to meal kit delivery services, or hiring in-home help to prepare meals. This is a great way to support them and help them enjoy their twilight years.

Get Them Exercising

Physical fitness is important at every age, even if someone has been sedentary for a while. If mom or dad is already quite mobile, show your enthusiastic support for this and encourage them to keep exercising. If not, check in with them and see what they might be open to. Perhaps it’s a walk around their neighborhood. Maybe it’s a silver sneakers and aqua class at a nearby gym. Perhaps it’s a membership to a yoga studio. It could even be online! Whatever the choice, get them moving everyday with a type of exercise that is appealing to them. 

Monitor Their Sleep Patterns

Ask them if they have regular sleeping patterns. Frequent waking and insomnia can be common, and we know that sleep is a vital aspect  of healthy living. Make sure there isn’t anything in the room bothering them. Replacing any annoying light or an appliance that makes a lot of noise. Make sure their bedroom is as comfortable as it can be for them.

Get Them Online

The internet is an excellent piece of technology that can have many benefits. Introduce them to social media websites, community websites and apps (like Nextdoor and Meetup), Google search, and streaming services like Netflix. It can help foster a sense of community and help them connect with new friends.

Make Sure They Get Proper Healthcare

Take them to the doctor on a regular cadence to get routine tests done. If they have a condition, visit them frequently and call more to make sure they are well. If needed and possible, look into options like hiring a nurse or enrolling in a senior home care center which can provide round-the-clock care, serve healthy food, and give them a lot of time to socialize and engage in activities.

Frequent Visits

A visit from you can make things better. You may be used to calling once in a while but making surprise visits can brighten their day. If you have kids, take them along. It’s important for all people to feel integrated in a community and family, and quality time together can make life more meaningful.

When caring for aging parents, the most important thing is to communicate often. Stay involved in their lives, help them do the things they’re interested in, encourage good habits that make life enjoyable. This will help them live more happily for longer and will strengthen your relationship with each other.

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Benefits of Good Dental Hygiene: How Oral Health Affects The Rest Of You.

Did you know that your mouth is a gateway to your body? The state of your oral health can offer clues about whole-body health and reveal symptoms of various illnesses.

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Did you know that your mouth is a gateway to your body? The state of your oral health can offer clues about whole-body health and reveal symptoms of various illnesses.

Filled with countless bacteria, your mouth acts as the entry point to your digestive and respiratory systems. Without a proper oral health regimen to keep bacteria under control, microorganisms from the mouth can cause infection in other areas of the body, especially if the immune system is compromised by medication or disease. 

Moreover, many illnesses can negatively impact oral health by reducing saliva flow and altering the balance of the mouth’s microorganisms. This can lead to oral infections such as periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. Health conditions and systemic diseases that can be caused or complicated by poor oral hygiene include:

  • Diabetes — Gum disease is more frequent and severe among individuals with diabetes since higher glucose levels in the mouth can encourage bacterial growth. The illness can also impair blood flow to the gums, which makes them more susceptible to infections. 
  • Respiratory conditions — Certain bacteria from tooth plaque can be pulled into the lungs, causing pneumonia and other serious respiratory diseases. 
  • Heart disease — Some research suggests that cardiovascular disease, strokes and clogged arteries might be linked to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria. 
  • Pregnancy — Pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk of delivering preterm or low birth weight infants. 

Simple habits such as brushing and flossing your teeth daily, as well as scheduling regular cleanings by your dentist, can optimize a healthy mouth-body connection. To learn more ways your oral hygiene and overall well-being are linked, see the accompanying guide. 

The Health Connection Between Your Mouth & Body

The Health Connection Between Your Mouth & Body was created by Grove Dental Associates

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tuttle is Marketing Director for Grove Dental Associates, a multi-specialty group dental practice in Chicago’s western suburbs. With more than 30 doctors and 50 years of practice experience, Grove Dental’s offices stay on the cutting edge of dentistry to better serve patients.   

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How Does Oil Pulling Work? A Dentist’s Perspective.

To learn more about the efficacy of oil pulling, you need to review how the process emerged. This ancient Ayurvedic process recently has received testimonials in the press. Both celebrities and social media users have proclaimed the practice, and stories abound that oil pulling or “toxin” pulling cures bad breath, whitens and cleans the teeth, and reduces the inflammation that leads to gum disease.

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Have you ever wondered if oil pulling works?

If so, you are not alone.

In fact, I get this question quite often from my dental patients in San Diego, and this question seems to be on the rise. To say the least, there are over 54,000 searches regarding the word “oil pulling” on a monthly basis:

So if you are wondering if oil pulling will help your dental hygiene, let’s find out!

 

An Introduction to Oil Pulling

 

To learn more about the efficacy of oil pulling, you need to review how the process emerged. This ancient Ayurvedic process recently has received testimonials in the press. Both celebrities and social media users have proclaimed the practice, and stories abound that oil pulling or “toxin” pulling cures bad breath, whitens and cleans the teeth, and reduces the inflammation that leads to gum disease.

In fact, in Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text on Indian medicine references oil pulling and it benefits by stating –

“It is beneficial for the strength of jaws, depth of voice, flabbiness of face, improving gustatory sensation and good taste for food. One used to this practice never gets dryness of throat, nor do his lips ever get cracked; his teeth will never be carious and will be deep-rooted; he will not have any toothache nor will his teeth set on edge by sour intake; his teeth can chew even the hardest eatables.”

– Charaka Samhita Ch V. 78 to 80.

This supposed miracle cure-all involves swishing an organic oil, such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, or sesame oil, in the mouth for around 20 minutes. However, just like most natural remedies, these claims and the practice, itself, does not enjoy the support of the scientific community.

But, as an open-minded dentist, I wanted to know if this was a good or bad thing for my patients.

 

Does Oil Pulling Get Rid of Plaque?

 

Proponents of oil pulling state that swishing the oil around in the mouth gets rid of plaque. However, dentists, as well as most dental patients, know that plaque can also be eliminated by –

  • Rinsing with a mouthwash;
  • Chewing a sugar-free gum; or
  • Simply rinsing the mouth with water for about 20 minutes each day.

All of the above options work to increase the saliva and keep plaque from sticking to the teeth. Dental patients often find it easier to rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash—one prescribed by the American Dental Association (ADA)—that is available in various flavors or strengths.

While Ayurvedic oil pulling may get rid of some stubborn plaque, you still need pressure from a dental tool or aid, such as floss or a toothbrush. You might say that chewing on a twig can do the same thing too. This technique is yet another ancient way to remove plaque from the teeth. In fact, chewing on a twig is even more ancient than using oil for dental health.

Twigs as a toothbrush? Don’t believe me? (see a 3,000-year-old toothbrush)

According to the ADA (American Dental Association)

 

If you want to know the exact stand the ADA takes on oil pulling, you can reference the following quote, summarized as follows:

Currently, . . . no reliable [evidence suggests] that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth, or improves oral health. . . . Based on the lack of scientific evidence, the [ADA] does not [prescribe] oil pulling as a . . . practice. The ADA [recommends] . . . [brushing] twice a day . . . with a fluoride toothpaste and [flossing] between the teeth [daily]. . . .” The ADA also advises that patients do not use tobacco. . . .”

Nevertheless, studies  (Pubmed returns 54 research papers) are still being conducted about the efficacy of oil pulling. Some researchers admit that oil pulling may have beneficial effects. Therefore, some of the scientists are not completely ruling out this hygiene practice, or believe that the public has succumbed to some type of oil pulling hoax.

For example, one study compared oil pulling with the use of a chlorhexidine mouthwash. Chlorhexidine mouthwash is a prescription rinse that features antibacterial properties. These properties prevent the formation of gum disease. However, the same rinse can also cause the formation of brown stains on the teeth. Therefore, this type of mouthwash can only be used short-term.

Comparing Oil Pulling with the Use of a Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

The comparison of using this short-term rinse and oil pulling following:

 

While oil pulling is not contraindicated for use in other diseases or by pregnant women, a chlorhexidine mouthwash should not be used when a person is sick with another disease or during pregnancy. Experts recommend that children, 5 years or under, should not oil pull.

 

How to Do Oil Pulling Correctly?

 

Oil pulling should be performed in the morning, or before eating. If you are wondering if oil pulling before or after brushing is preferred, you should always practice oil pulling before brushing.

Here Are Some Steps To Follow

  1. You should take about 10 ml or one tablespoon of organic oil.
  2. The solution should be swished around in the mouth for around 15 to 20 minutes before spitting it out.
  3. Never swallow the oil, as it may contain bacteria and toxins.
  4. Follow the practice by rinsing, and brushing and flossing the teeth, as usual.

Because regular oil pulling also combines the practice with routine flossing and brushing, scientists suggest that oil pulling can be used as an adjunct to dental health. One study that appeared in the International Journal of Health Sciences supports this conclusion.

According to researchers, a number of studies have been performed that support the use of oil pulling. This published study supports the use of oil pulling in developing countries or in remote locations, where toothpaste, toothbrushes, or mouthwashes are limited. In these instances, scientists suggest that oil pulling can provide a cost-effective option for supporting dental health.

Does Oil Pulling Really Work?

 

Given that oil pulling for teeth receives the support of some dental patients and is questioned by others, scientists still need to review all aspects of the practice. As noted, usually three types of organic oils are typically used for oil pulling teeth whitening or oil pulling for cavities ( sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, or coconut oil). Many people like to use sesame oil or prefer to find the best coconut oil for oil pulling purposes.

While you can receive the same bacteria-fighting advantages with organic oils, such as sunflower oil or sesame oil, you have an added benefit when oil pulling with coconut oil. That is because coconut oil contains lauric acid – a substance well-known among doctors for its anti-microbial properties.

By using coconut oil, you may even prevent tooth decay. While it may not reverse a cavity that has formed, the oil will reduce the strep mutans bacteria that are found in saliva and plaque. These bacteria may  lead to the development of cavities.

You may ask, “Does oil pulling work for growing back receding gums? Or, do receding gums grow back from oil pulling? While you may not see the re-emergence of gum tissue, you can tighten and condition the gums. As noted, this adjunct form of treatment is not the cure-all for tooth and gum health. However, it does support regular flossing and brushing – at least that is what the current research supports.

 

Oil Pulling – How Often Should It Be Done

 

When you first practice oil pulling, or if you decide to take up the routine, you may wonder how you should begin. After all, swishing oil in your mouth for 20 minutes can become quite time-consuming, if not tiresome.

To acclimate yourself to the process, start the activity by spending five minutes a day swishing the oil. You will remove a good deal of bacteria after just five minutes. Also, if your jaw begins to ache, you need to slow your pace. You do not have to use a lot of force. Gently swish, suck, and push the oil through the teeth for the best effect.

“Less Is More”

Because you should never swallow the oil, spit out the oil if you find you have too much in your mouth. Again, you only need to use about a tablespoon. Remember, “less is more,” when it comes to swishing. Also, never spit out the oil down the sink, lest you be plagued with a clogged drain. Simply spit out the oil in a trash can after you are done.

 

Final Thoughts

 

The before and after benefits of oil pulling seems to be encouraging for some people, but, there isn’t enough scientific research to back up these claims. As long as dental patients follow the practice by also brushing and flossing teeth regularly, oil pulling may benefit some people who decide to try this practice.

Any dentist will tell you that you should never replace oil pulling with brushing and flossing and routine dental visits. Once more, this alternative approach to tooth and gum care supplements the benefits you receive from brushing, flossing, and using a  mouthwash each day.

My sincere hope is that this helped clear up some confusion regarding “oil pulling” and oral hygiene. If you have any questions I practice dental care  in Carmel Mountain at Smiles By Design San Diego with Over 400 Five Star happy patient reviews.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Javaheri has participated in extensive research and has been published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the UC Davis Medical Center. He is a graduate of the prestigious NYU college of dentistry and helps patients with their cosmetic dentistry needs in San Diego, CA.

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How To Reduce Pores & Have A Cleaner Face.

Why do pores get enlarged? Besides genetic factors like oily skin, there are lifestyle factors to consider such as sun exposure, age and heat. If you experience large pores in just one area of the face or even across the entire face, you may be interested in the following tips to reduce pores and enjoy a cleaner looking and feeling face.

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Enlarged pores allow dirt, dust, and oil to get trapped inside and create problems.

 

What kind of issues appears when pores get clogged? It may cause a range of symptoms from pimples to acne to blackheads.

 

Why do pores get enlarged? Besides genetic factors like oily skin, there are lifestyle factors to consider such as sun exposure, age and heat. If you experience large pores in just one area of the face or even across the entire face, you may be interested in the following tips to reduce pores and enjoy a cleaner looking and feeling face.

 

Don’t allow oil to accumulate on your face

 

Pores can get larger and clogged due to oil accumulations. Our skin produces special oil that keeps it moisturized and protected, but if we allow oil build-ups on our skin, it may end up clogging the pores. So make sure to clean your face properly and remove excess oil. Clay masks are great for this particular job; just don’t use them on a daily basis as they may dry up your skin.

 

Clean your skin in depth the right way

It is very tempting to try and remove those pesky blackheads with your nails, but you should stay away from such habits as they can damage your skin.  You can really injure yourself and break the skin if you try to squeeze a blackhead out, so it’s best to utilize better methods. Instead, try blackhead removal masks that use charcoal to bind toxins and clear out pores.

 

Try Retinoid and Glycolic Acid Products

 

Retinoid refers to vitamins that are used in special skin care products. They usually come in the form of creams and lotions and they have the purpose of shrinking pores and keeping skin tight and toned. This type of product is recommended for people with oily skin, in the majority of cases, helping them shrink down pores and minimize the chances of acne outbursts to occur.

 

Additionally, you may want to try cleansers or products that contain glycolic acid. This particular acid is known for diminishing the surface of pores and preventing dirt and oil from getting trapped on the inside. At the same time, glycolic acid stimulates the production of collagen, which is required for the youthful and plump appearance of the skin.

 

Use adequate UV protection products on your face

 

Sun exposure is one of the main factors that lead to enlarged pores. Using high UV protection on your face is the best way to make sure that the sun’s rays will not affect your pores. Thus, opting for products with a high level of protection, like SPF 30, will keep your pores looking nice and tight even during a sunny day. Not to mention that this UV protection will prevent the premature aging of your skin, caused by frequent exposure to the sun.

 

With these simple strategies in place, your face should start feeling better in no time. The gist is: USe special ingredients to keep your face clean and then protect it throughout the day. In other words: Take care of your face the way you would a good friend.

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How To Motivate Yourself to Workout & Eat Healthy.

We start a workout plan and stick to it for a while, but then our motivation soon dwindles and we get back to the old, unhealthy ways. And it keeps happening. It starts off well, but then we run into an issue and we keep missing out more and more workouts until we stop completely. The same thing happens to our diet, and then we’re back to square one, frustrated that we can’t seem to stick to a schedule.

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While we all understand the gist of why physical activity and a good diet are important, how we’re supposed to incorporate them into our routine is another matter.

 

We start a workout plan and stick to it for a while, but then our motivation soon dwindles and we get back to the old, unhealthy ways. And it keeps happening. It starts off well, but then we run into an issue and we keep missing out more and more workouts until we stop completely.

 

The same thing happens to our diet, and then we’re back to square one, frustrated that we can’t seem to stick to a schedule. Well, don’t worry. There are a few things that you can do to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself and stick to it. If you want to know more, read on.

 

Simplify your plan

 

If your plan involves you getting up at 6 AM every other morning to get to the gym and following a complex diet with too many restrictions, it’s going to fail. Unless you have an insane amount of willpower and determination, plans that require you to turn your life around probably just won’t work. What you need is a plan that’s easy to stick to and that doesn’t require you to sacrifice too much. Get yourself a planner, then sit down and write all your obligations down. See where you can easily fit in a workout, see when you can afford the time to cook something, and really schedule everything you want to do. Do a home workout on the days you can’t make it to the gym, and create simple meal plans that don’t involve too much cooking.

 

Introduce a five-minute rule

Promise yourself that you’ll do at least five minutes of your workout. Even when you feel really lazy and really tired, promise yourself this: “I’ll just put my clothes on and exercise for five minutes.” Doing only five minutes is a lot better than doing nothing, and it can really help you train yourself to have a routine that you crave to do every day. Besides, maybe it inspires you to push past those five minutes and finish a whole workout.

 

Get some nice clothes

Clothes can inspire you! It’s kind of nice to admire your own booty in a pair of hot leggings. You can observe your progress the more you work and feel proud of your accomplishments. As long as you’re comfortable, you can also look cute.

 

Prepare meals in advance

This is the absolute best tip for people who hate cooking or don’t have the time to cook. You can make great meals for the whole week if you prepare them in advance. Do it on Sunday, just before the work week starts – chop up veggies, boil a few eggs, roast some chicken, prepare some homemade granola bars for snacks. As long as you’ve got a good stove like the one from Bosch slide-in range, you can make everything in no time at all and get all your cooking done in one day. Meal prep is the best way to ensure you always have a healthy meal on your hands, so you never have to reach for greasy food or a sugary snack to sate your craving.

 

Eat more delicious whole foods

Bear in mind that diets are not supposed to feel awful. They can actually be quite satisfying, especially if you pick fresh whole foods. The problem is that we’re used to additives in junk food so much that we’re addicted to that taste, but if you let your gut rest and eat healthier things–mostly plants, lots of water–then you’ll start realizing how good it actually is. Stick to unrefined, unprocessed foods (particularly vegetables) because this will give you a whole load of awesome nutrients that will help you reach your fitness goals.

 

Find a buddy or a support group

It’s easier to get passionate about fitness if you have someone who’s going to share your burden. See if any of your friends want to start a health journey with you, and then push each other to keep getting better.

 

Change up your exercise

Hey, if something gets boring you can always change it up. You can find excellent fitness resources here, and we recommend that you make full use of them because they don’t cost a dime and they’re an easy way to switch up your routine. Also, consider signing up for a sport or a dance class. Something that you really enjoy, and something that will motivate you because you’ll be learning a useful skill in addition to getting fit.

And most of all, find a way to enjoy your fitness journey. Don’t commit to things that you hate. Instead, make sure to create a solid plan that you’ll enjoy and that won’t leave much room for making excuses.

 

About the author: Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”

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Lifestyle Changes To Improve Health: Small Changes You Can Make to Boost Your Health Every Day.

Everyone can improve their health in some way, but many of us aren’t sure where to start. Extreme fitness routines and fad diets require us to shift our daily schedule too much, making them difficult to keep up. Instead, in order to reach our goal of sustainable health and wellness, it can be as simple as making small but significant alterations each day that don’t feel like a sacrifice.

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Everyone can improve their health in some way, but many of us aren’t sure where to start. Extreme fitness routines and fad diets require us to shift our daily schedule too much, making them difficult to keep up. Instead, in order to reach our goal of sustainable health and wellness, it can be as simple as making small but significant alterations each day that don’t feel like a sacrifice.

Practice Good Sleep

A full night of quality sleep can help your memory, minimize symptoms of depression, and sharpen your attention. It also reduces inflammation, aids weight loss efforts, and combats daytime fatigue. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, you may benefit from proper sleep hygiene techniques. According to Tuck.com, there are four important ingredients for a good sleep: darkness, quiet, comfort, and a cool temperature. In addition to this, you should go to bed at the same time every night and create a healthy bedtime routine to follow. For example, try meditating or reading a book before bed instead of scrolling through social media on your phone. Also consider not eating for at least two hours before bedtime. This allows food to move further in the digestion process so that our night sleep isn’t spent digesting–it’s spent repairing and building.

Pay Attention to Nutrition Information

The nutrition facts labels on food are there to help us follow a healthy diet, so pay attention to them! By looking at the label, you can compare foods to find those that are lowest in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium. Limiting these ingredients in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic lifestyle diseases. Nutrition labels also indicate foods that are nutrient-dense, helping you meet your daily nutrient requirements without excessive calorie intake. Look for foods that contain 10-20 percent of your fiber, iron, calcium or essential vitamins when shopping. Additionally, check the ingredients list to avoid additives and preservatives.

 

Once you know what you’re eating, you can begin to assess how different combinations of food make you feel. Current nutritional research is showing that there is not a one-size-fits-all optimal diet for all people. Some people feel better on a high-carb/low-fat diet and others thrive on a high fat/low carb diet. The biggest consensus in nutrition is limiting our intake of refined sugars and flours, and to eat a variety of dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, etc). Beyond that, it’s up to each of us individually to pursue education and test different foods to see what their impact is on our energy levels, mood, and inflammation.

Get Moving Whenever Possible

Too busy to exercise? That’s not an excuse anymore! You can exercise in short bouts of 10-minute intervals throughout the day instead of carving out the time in your schedule for longer workouts. Research suggests that you’ll receive many of the same health benefits as you would from one continuous period of physical activity. As long as you aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, you’ll meet American health guidelines. Go for a brisk walk during a break at work, do a quick bodyweight workout while you’re waiting for dinner to cook, or start your morning with a refreshing yoga routine.

Develop Healthy Habits for Stress Management

Stress is one of the biggest threats to our health these days. It plays with our hormones, overworks our physical body, and creates long-term psychological issues. Managing stress in healthy ways — whether by taking up an exercise regimen or finding hobbies that help lower and manage your anxiety levels — should be a priority in your life. However, avoid turning to drugs or alcohol to cope. Not only are these substances detrimental to our health, but also they can worsen stress and anxiety in the long run. Drinking is particularly risky for women, as research has revealed that women who consume at least one drink per day have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Yoga, specifically, is a great way to lower cortisol levels in the body and reduce nervous system activity.

Think More Positively

Negativity can undermine your attempts to improve your health as you face feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Positive thinking, on the other hand, can help you avoid bad habits, form healthy relationships and enjoy greater self-esteem. Positivity involves looking at the world with a greater acceptance of the challenges you experience. Although cliché, it’s about making the best out of every situation, good or bad. Of course, it can be difficult to change deeply-rooted thought patterns. This is where yoga and meditation can be beneficial, helping you focus inwardly on your own self-talk so you can make a more conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

 

As you implement some of these changes in your own life, remember why you’re doing it. Do you want to improve your body image? Wake up with more energy? Boost your productivity at work? These goals can be the motivation you need to fuel every small effort you make toward greater health.

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How To Keep Your Bones Healthy & Why Bone Health Should Be a Top Health Priority As You Age.

This article is a practical guide to bone health, which will not only go over common bone ailments, but will also include actionable ideas that you can implement in your lifestyle to keep your bones healthy and strong, especially as you age. 

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You fall down and hear a snap! Your bone just broke and you’ll have to be hospitalized for more than 3 months.

This scenario highlights the importance of bone health as we age. My name is Mitravinda Savanur, and I am a nutritionist specializing in food science.  I’ve written this article as a practical guide to bone health, which will not only go over common bone ailments, but will also include actionable ideas that you can implement in your lifestyle to keep your bones healthy and strong, especially as you age. 

 

How Bones Work

Did you know that your bones are alive?

Some new bone is made while old bone is broken down all the time. When you are relatively young and fit, your body makes bone at a quicker rate than it loses it. This leads to a steady rise in bone mass until you hit a peak at about 30. After this, the creation and loss of bone continues but the loss of bone is a little quicker than the creation and thus the overall bone mass reduces.

Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones lose their strength, become brittle and can easily snap. It develops slowly over a long period of time and hence is caused when you don’t produce enough bone or you lose bone too rapidly to be replaced or both.

The chance of your developing osteoporosis depends on the amount of bone mass you have developed by your peak and how quickly you lose it after that. If you have a lot of bone mass by 30, then the chances of your developing osteoporosis reduce considerably.

 

Strategies for Healthy Bones

 

 

Exercising – Helps With Bone Formation

A high or low-impact exercising regimen with weight-bearing exercises will help you create and maintain your bone density.

Weight-bearing exercises will create some good stress on your muscles which will put additional pressure on your bones. This pressure will then help you gain bone quicker than you lose it and so your bone strength will increase over time.

Some examples of high-impact exercises are-

Jogging, hiking, tennis, dancing, skipping and so on.

Some low-impact but beneficial exercises which are especially suited to older people are –

Walking, cycling, stair-step machines.

 

 

Good Diet – Creates Bone Strength 

A good, balanced and nutritious diet will serve you and your bones well.

A diet which is rich in calcium, vitamin D, fruits, vegetables and milk will make your bones healthy and strong.

Along with these, avoiding excessive smoking or drinking will help a lot.

You should also include vitamin K2 in your diet as a supplement because this greatly increases bone health.

K2 has the added benefit of decalcifying your arteries.

 

 

Regular Testing –  Know The Condition

Bone mineral density tests are used to measure the mineral content of bones. 

The heel of the foot is usually tested for measuring the mineral density. This is because this bone is similar to the hip bone which is very prone to breaking.

Based on the tests and their results, your physician will recommend more tests or certain lifestyle changes that might be necessary for you to continue having a healthy bone health-filled life.

 

 

Physical Therapy – Preventative Measure 

While there is no cure for osteoporosis, it can be prevented, it’s progressed slowed and your overall bone health can benefit from physical therapy.

For example, a therapist might help you improve your bone health by designing an exercise regimen which improves your posture, balance and stability.

Therapy will also be handy in the worst case scenario where you’ve broken a bone.

If you have osteoporosis, you can contact your doctor to see whether they think therapy can help you or not.

 

At-Risk Populations

 

Research has shown that women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men.

 

Estimates have shown that out of the 10 million people with osteoporosis in the USA, 8 million are women.

This is mainly because of the effects of menopause where the bone protecting hormone (estrogen) levels decrease very rapidly. This can be prevented by giving healthy amounts of calcium to women when they are growing so that they will have no issues with bone density later on in life.

 

 

Mitravinda Savanur is a Nutritionist at DietChart with a doctoral degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a teacher, researcher and an author. Her passion for the subject prompted her to start writing blogs on various nutrition-related topics such as Diet Chart for Weight Loss, Health Benefits Of Green Tea, etc. Through her blogs, she wishes to help people gain a deeper understanding about the relationship between food, nutrition, lifestyle and health.

 

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5 Health Tips for Seniors to Stay Golden in Your Golden Years.

Aging into your golden years is a beautiful part of life. It means retiring from your career, no longer raising children and living your best life. But getting older also means having to take better care of your health, both physical and mental. As you age into your senior years, improve your quality of life by taking control of your health. Here are 5 tips to get you started!

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Aging into your golden years is a beautiful part of life. It means retiring from your career, no longer raising children and living your best life. But getting older also means having to take better care of your health, both physical and mental. As you age into your senior years, improve your quality of life by taking control of your health. Here are 5 tips to get you started!

 

Prioritize your health.

Make regular doctor visits for tests and evaluations, take preventative actions and never ignore symptoms. The “wait and see if it goes away” approach might have worked in your younger years, but it won’t work in your senior years. Waiting could lead to diseases spreading or getting worse. Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating well and exercising are the most controllable things you can do to prevent health issues from developing. Don’t forget about your mental health and the invisible illnesses that lurk inside. Just because a disease doesn’t cause physical damage, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Add a mental health professional to your list of doctors to see regularly.

 

Focus on eating clean.

Older people tend to have more heart and blood sugar problems, weaker bones, and higher risk for disease, so it’s important to eat heart-healthy food with balanced nutrition. Your body is more easily affected by fried foods, red meat, sugar and alcohol than before. Your aging body needs more nutrients to be healthy. This is the time to consume more vegetables and water, but don’t rob yourself of cheat meals. Living your best life should involve occasional indulgences.

 

Find an exercise that works for you.

Whether you’ve always been a fitness buff or just getting started, regular exercise is important for your brain and body. If you’re not an athlete or if you have joint and mobility problems, you can stick to low-impact exercises such as yoga, swimming and walking. Many senior centers offer fun group classes like Zumba and line dancing so that seniors can enjoy these workouts without having to keep up with their younger counterparts.

 

Adopt a companion.

As we get older, we see less of people. Our friends might not be as mobile, and our family might be busy with their own lives. If you’re living alone, a companion animal can be beneficial for easing loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. For those who enjoy caring for others, a dog can fill the void that children once filled. You get to care for someone while having constant companionship, and your dog gets to have a best friend to love. If you qualify for an emotional support dog, you can travel with your pet and live in homes that usually don’t allow dogs.

 

YOLO

Do things that you love or have always wanted to try. Wear a bikini on the beach, take a trip to that bucket list location, pick up a new hobby, go to a Rolling Stones concert, become an actor or move closer to the beach. You’ve dedicated most of your life to other people, so now you should dedicate your life to yourself. Don’t let anything stop you from living out your dreams.

 

Before you enter the aging stage, have a retirement plan that will support your financial and living situations throughout the remainder of your life. Set up a healthy living arrangement, whether it’s a grown child’s home, assisted living or your own home. Get a good medical insurance plan through private insurance or Medicare. Have a substantial retirement fund from savings, investments, or passive income. Most importantly, take care of your mind and body for an optimal quality of life.

 

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What Are Adaptogens & How Do They Work?

Adaptogens are a unique class of plants that can have particular healing abilities. They may be able to help balance, protect, restore your body, and normalize psychological functions.

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Have you ever heard of “adaptogens”? They sound like something out of a science fiction movie, right?

Something like, “Our defenses are crumbling! We need to release the adaptogens!”

But they’re very real, and they can do wonders for your body.

If you’re not sure what adaptogens are, where you can find them, how you should use them, when you should consume them, and more, then you’re in luck.

We’re about to teach you everything you need to know.

Adaptogens: The Basics

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are natural, non-toxic healers.

In fact, it’s quite possible you’ve been consuming adaptogens your entire life without knowing it, unwittingly reaping adaptogenic benefits.

We’ll stop here for a minute, because we know what you’re thinking. Adaptogens aren’t the newest, hottest wellness trend that’s come to stake its claim over beet juice smoothies, rose water, and quinoa.

Adaptogens are more than a trend. They’ve been a part of medicine for centuries.

Simply put, they can be described as natural substances that work with a person’s body to help them adapt (hence the term “adapt”ogen) to the various challenges of life. Most notably, they’re said to help your body regulate homeostasis and return to its natural balance, especially when it comes to stress.

That’s the 30,000 foot view. Now let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Adaptogens: The Nuts and Bolts

Our bodies have a built-in fight-or-flight system that is triggered in response to stress. This system is incredibly useful in emergencies or when we’re threatened and need to take immediate action.

Cortisol is released, which then triggers the adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system. Blood pressure is increased and your digestive secretions are restricted. Essentially, your body readies itself to either run or to stand and fight.

Unfortunately, we increasingly live in high-stress environments in which we encounter stressful situations multiple times per day. The meeting with the boss. Driving through heavy traffic. Dealing with irate customers. Caring for a screaming baby.

Each of these stressors triggers our fight-or-flight response, releasing a flood of cortisol through the body. Our bodies weren’t designed to handle so much cortisol, and it can lead to the adrenal glands failing, stress on the digestive tract, and rapid aging.

Cortisol levels and stress are only meant to exist in your body in short bursts — as a hormonal response designed to protect you in survival situations. Adaptogenic compounds (whether in food or in herbs) help mitigate the body’s stress response and get your adrenal system back into balance while overcoming adrenal fatigue. These compounds keep your body at a balanced level.

A natural ally to your body, adaptogens can help your body deal with persistent stress and fatigue, and help get you back to proper, functioning order. They work with your body to help regulate hormones and adjust your cortisol levels over long periods of time to help regulate chronic stress.

You can think of them like a thermostat for your body. When your stress “temperature” begins to rise, adaptogens can support your body as it comes back to its normal levels. They can help keep stress hormones from running rampant throughout your body.

For example, studies of Panax ginseng, a well-known adaptogen, have suggested that it can be significantly helpful in reducing the body’s overall response to stress. The same goes for numerous other adaptogens.

But that’s not all. Adaptogens also may boost your immune system, help you manage a healthy weight, increase your physical endurance and your mental focus, reduce discomfort, reduce cortisol levels (which contribute to stress), and encourage a balanced mood.

Adaptogens: Sources

Consuming Adaptogens

Adaptogens are a unique class of plants that can have particular healing abilities. They may be able to help balance, protect, restore your body, and normalize psychological functions.

The list of helpful, healing adaptogens is long – so long we can’t possibly include all of them in this article. But, we’ll list out of a few helpful adaptogens you can utilize in your daily routine.

In fact, you might already use some of these without knowing how much you’re helping your mind, body, restoration, and balance.

Some of the most popular adaptogenic herbs are things you’ve probably heard of, such as:

  • Ginseng
  • Basil
  • Mushroom
  • Rosemary
  • Aloe
  • Licorice root

Others, you might not be so familiar with include:

  • Rhodiola
  • Astragalus root
  • Ashwagandha
  • Milk thistle
  • Bacopa
  • Schisandra
  • Moringa oleifera
  • Gotu kola
  • Ginseng eleuthero

These adaptogens can be consumed in a variety of ways, including food and supplements. The main point is simply to start getting a number of these adaptogens in your diet, especially if you find yourself constantly under stress.

Adaptogens: In Your Diet 

Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogens that are most notable for helping lower or balance your cortisol are compounds like rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha (indian ginseng), milk thistle, asian ginseng, holy basil, and panax ginseng. You’re probably going to be challenged to find ways to include milk thistle in your diet, meaning you’ll need to consume it in supplement form.

However, adaptogens can be present in food as well. Just like the herbs and other compounds, there are specific foods that can contain the healthy adaptogens your body can benefit from. Add basil to your meals to gain adaptogen benefits, eat specific kinds of mushrooms, or spice up your dishes with rosemary.

Additionally, consider things like ginseng tea and other herbal mixes. The goal is simply to find numerous ways to get adaptogens into your diet, whether it’s through supplements, food, or mixes.

And while most adaptogens can be used individually, many herbalists prefer to blend them together to create an even more potent effect. In essence, they stack the benefits on top of each other.

A Few Cautions With Adaptogens

The benefits of adaptogens seem endless, but knowing what they are and what they can do for you doesn’t answer a few of the remaining questions you probably have about the compounds.

For example, when should you take them? How do you know how long you should take them? In what amounts should you take adaptogens?

The positive thing about adaptogenic compounds is that there are only a few instances in which you can overdo it or they can cause you harm. In fact, one of the driving features of adaptogens is that they’re safe and non-toxic.

However, it’s possible, however, that some herbs can cancel each other out when taken together. For example, if you’re taking an herb that stimulates you and one that helps you sleep, the effects will probably cancel each other out.

It’s also possible that some of the herbs should only be used for limited amounts of time or once every few months. Herbalists and doctors often recommend rotating the adaptogens you use every few months.

As always, it’s important to check with your doctor before you start taking any form of medication or herbal remedies. Some herbs and foods that contain adaptogens can interact with other medications you’re taking, so ensure that you’ve approved any new herb or botanical with your doctor before you consume it.

Additionally, consider reading The Botanical Safety Handbook, which contains all the information you need to know about adaptogens.

If you’re breastfeeding, use particular caution. While no adaptogens have been shown to be of any concern for breastfeeding children, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. Again, talk to your doctor.

Adaptogens and You: Final Thoughts

Natural Adaptogens

If you’re thinking about about adding adaptogens into your diet, you might find yourself wondering, “Do I really need them?” The answer is both, “Yes,” and, “No.”

You don’t need them in the sense that you need an antibiotic to treat a particular infection. You do need them to help you body stay in balance amidst the constant stresses of life.

It’s important to note that adaptogen supplements don’t treat specific conditions. Rather, they help boost your overall well-being. Instead of wondering if you “need” them to solve a problem, ask yourself if taking adaptogens can help you feel better, more balanced, less stressed, and healthier?

Ask yourself how you feel. Is your digestive tract functioning to the best of its ability? Do you have a healthy appetite? Is your skin vibrant and healthy? Are your stress levels easily manageable? If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s possible you’re a candidate for adaptogen inclusion in your diet!

Adaptogens help adjust your body’s stress response and keep it at a desirable level, similar to how you’d adjust the temperature from becoming too high or too low.

If you want to keep your body in balance, adaptogens might be the perfect solution to add to your diet and supplement plan!

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Yoga and Brain Function: How Yoga Affects the Brain.

You know yoga is good for your body, but did you also know it’s good for your brain? All types of workouts can positively impact mental health, but yoga seems to be particularly good at positively affecting the brain.

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You know yoga is good for your body, but did you also know it’s good for your brain? All types of workouts can positively impact mental health, but yoga seems to be particularly good at positively affecting the brain. This goes for the pranayama (breath control), asana (postures), and meditation.

 

According to Dr. Jonathan Greenburg at the Massachusetts General Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School, yoga has been effectively used to treat insomnia, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and other mental diseases and illnesses. He says it helps to increase the sense of self-control and well-being and has been well received in mass populations such as prisons. Dr. Greenburg attributes this largely to yoga’s ability to control stress. “We know stress is a very fertile ground for many physical and mental ailments,” he explains. No wonder yoga (or stress reduction) can work wonders for mental health.

 

Consider the research featured in the Frontiers in Immunology journal, which suggests that yoga actually decreases inflammation that can happen from chronic stress. Yoga has the ability to lessen stress while helping you get a better perspective on reality. It’s a type of healthy coping mechanism, though in most yoga classes it’s simply called getting your zen.

 

The pranayama aspects of yoga can also help because it’s tapping the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of the brain. Also known as the HPA axis, it’s in charge of your sympathetic nervous system. This nervous system is where your fight or flight instinct takes place. The parasympathetic nervous system is the system that tells you everything is okay and that you can relax. Ultimately, yoga has been shown to minimize the SNS while increasing the PNS. This can mean lower blood pressure and heart rate, according to Greenburg. Your brain is always asking your body for cues of what to do—and the other way around, of course. You’re a machine, and your brain is at the helm. It could use a little help, and yoga might be the key.

 

So, why not work on optimizing the PSN around the clock? Too much of anything isn’t good for you. You’d be chill, but pretty non-functional. That’s why meditation isn’t recommended 24/7. You need balance, which is also what you often hear in yoga class, and that includes between the PNS and SNS. Dr. Amy Wheeler, who is on the board for the International Association of Yoga Therapists and also a professor at California State University, says that yoga is all about teaching your SNS that it doesn’t need to be on constantly. You need to be alert and focused without having to go into your fight or flight instinct. Calm yet alert is the goal of yoga and should be the goal of life.

 

There’s also evidence that yoga can help your brain as you age by reversing the signs of aging. A study in the International Psychogeriatrics journal revealed that those 55+ who have cognitive impairment enjoyed significant differences in memory retention after only three months of yoga. A control group was used, and the non-yoga group showed no changes in memory, but also no changes in depression symptoms. According to Dr. Greenberg, meditation can make a big difference in the brain because it has been shown to increase self-related thinking and awareness. However, it’s the memory that he’s particularly interested in. “After eight weeks of meditation training, research found that the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory, developed more gray matter density,” he points out.

 

It’s true—we can actually increase the brain matter simply through the yogic practice of meditation.

 

There’s also the influence of yoga in recovering addicts, particularly in an era of an opioid epidemic when the elderly are at particular risk. Yoga has been effectively used to both wean people off of opioids as well as soothe withdrawal symptoms. The effects of substance abuse on the brain can be severe. However, protecting this damage through yoga intervention and perhaps reversing the damage can be possible. Overall, studies have shown that yogis responder calmer to challenging events. Dr. Greenburg suspects it’s because those who meditate have a bigger “right insula,” which is the part of the brain linked to awareness. When stressed, knowing how you’ll react can prevent you from overreacting.

 

Yoga has been a popular form of natural “medicine” for thousands of years, and with good reason. It can be used as a tool to not only grow the body but also the brain. Since the human body is an interlinked system, it simply makes sense to treat it entirely with kindness.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joshua Butcher is an ex-addict and founder of the Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge.

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Keeping Healthy Feet: 8 Tips For Proper Foot Treatment

It is important to know how to keep your feet happy and pain-free. Here are some tried and true easy tips for healthy feet.

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It’s easy to forget about our feet. Even though they bear our entire weight every day, we still tend to stuff them into confining, heeled, pointy or dead-flat shoes, or forget entirely to clean and stretch them. Foot problems lead to discomfort and may also cause knee, hip or back pain. To prevent these conditions, it is important to know how to keep your feet happy and pain-free.

As a student of podiatry, I am interested in preventative and corrective treatment that keep our feet healthy and functioning optimally. Here are some tried and true easy tips for healthy feet.

 

1. Wash Your Feet Often

Healthy feet start with proper hygiene. Just letting the water splash on your feet is not enough. Wash and scrub them thoroughly with soap and water, including your toes. Do not soak your feet for a long time as it doing so will reduce the natural oils of the skin.

  • Scrub your feet gently with a pumice stone to get rid of dead skin cells, focusing on toes and heels.
  • Dry your feet completely as leftover moisture provides a perfect breeding ground for fungi and bacteria, which causes foul odor and infections.
  • Change your socks every day. You may also consider sweat-absorbing socks to reduce moisture.

 

2. Moisturize Daily

Apply moisturizer daily to keep your feet soft and supple. After showering, dry your feet thoroughly and massage your feet with your favorite moisturizer to keep healthy oils replenished. Consider investing in a good foot cream that contains active ingredients to keep your feet smooth and healthy. Some of the ingredients to look for are urea, shea butter, karanja oil, tea tree oil and neem oil.

Do not apply too much moisturizer between your toes. It may lead to fungal growth or infection if this area stays wet or damp.

 

3. Wear Proper Shoes

Spending the day in a pair of ill-fitting shoes can result in serious foot conditions, such as Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis and Charcot Foot.

  • Pick shoes that accommodate your foot arch. For neutral-arched feet, choose shoes with firm midsoles. For low-arched or flat feet, choose straight choose. For high-arched feet, find shoes with good arch support.
  • If you are looking for running or hiking shoes, look for a pair with a roll bar feature to prevent excess movement in the heel area.
  • Other features that you may want to consider are Achilles notch, padded midsole, big toe box, ankle collar, and shock absorbing feature.

 

4. Cut Your Toenails Regularly

Trim your toenails regularly and clean under with a nail brush and manicure stick. Do not cut too short as it may allow dirt and fungus to penetrate between the nail and skin, which may cause bacterial or fungal infection.

  • Cut your toenails straight, not rounded or angled at the edges, to prevent ingrown nails. Use an emery board and nail file to smooth the edges.
  • Nail polish can be applied on healthy nails. However, do not use polish on unhealthy nails. Discolored nails could also be a sign of an infection and covering the area will keep it from clearing up.

 

5. Yoga

Yoga can help in developing balanced alignment of the feet, giving you better posture and improved posture throughout your body. It can also treat and prevent various foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and bunions.

Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise in that it’s practiced barefoot and the foot has a specific job to do in each posture. In the course of a one-hour class, you are likely to move through poses that strengthen and stretch the feet in all directions. For example, standing and balancing postures strengthen the inner arch of the foot and stabilize the ankle bone from left to right. These poses also renegotiate the relationship between the foot, the leg, the pelvis and the spine, allowing the feet to work more optimally within the body’s framework. Other yoga poses stretch the foot by moving it in all directions and applying healthy stresses when the foot is pointed and flexed.

The elasticity of tendons and foot muscles is important to enhance body movements and avoid injury. In this way, yoga is beneficial for preventative and corrective treatment, and many people with foot pain recommend yoga for pain management and healing of plantar fasciitis and other painful foot conditions.

6. Feet Exercises

In addition to yoga, performing some feet exercises can heal and stretch your feet. Try the following to relieve symptoms of bunions, stretch ankles and calves, and ease plantar fasciitis.

  • Towel Scrunches – Sit with your knees bent at 90 degrees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Spread a towel under your feet. Scrunch your toes to take a small part of the towel. Pull it toward you until it gathers into your arches.
  • Squeeze and Flex – Sit in a chair and keep your heels on the ground. Flex your toes while inhaling. Exhale as you squeeze your toes in a fist form. Repeat five to ten times.
  • Weaving – Weave your fingers at one hand between your toes of the opposite foot. Massage and stretch your toes with a firm grip

 

 

7. Consume Plenty of Calcium

Everyone knows that calcium is essential for developing and building strong bones. However, many do not realize that bone loss or osteoporosis appears first in the feet. One of the best tips for healthy feet is to consume plenty of foods rich in calcium. Our body needs 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium daily to stay healthy and strong, and the following can be included in a calcium-rich diet:

  • Dark green vegetables
  • Soy beans
  • White beans
  • Edamame
  • Oranges
  • Figs
  • Almonds
  • Salmon

Get enough vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium you need. The main source of this essential vitamin is sunlight. You can also get it from mushrooms, liver, mackerel and tuna, fortified orange juice, tofu, oatmeal, cereal and almond milk.

 

8. Prevent Communicable Infections and Diseases

There are many viral, bacterial, and fungal issues that can negatively affect both health and appearance of your feet, such as warts, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot.

  • Wear flip flops in gyms, swimming pools, spa and communal showers to protect your feet from fungus or bacteria that may be present on the floor.

Symptoms of fungal infection include itching, burning, swelling, and peeling of the skin.

 

Final Word

These are the best tips for healthy feet. If you often experience foot pain, consider visiting a professional for a proper diagnosis as it can be a sign of plantar fasciitis, which requires being treated with orthotics and physical therapy. With good hygiene, exercises, proper diet and healthier lifestyle, you can keep your feet free from various foot conditions.

 

Amanda Roberts is a professional blogger and a podiatry student. She is an enthusiast who loves to write on several niches, particularly in foot health, including plantar fasciitis, toenail fungus, foot massage and reflexology.

 

 

 

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3 Tips to Keep You Healthy Throughout the Year

We know our fitness and health should be a priority year-round, but

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We know our fitness and health should be a priority year-round, but it’s all too easy to make excuses not to work out in winter when it’s too cold or summer when it’s too hot. The truth is, when we are consistent with our eating habits and working out, the healthier we will be. If you’re looking for ways to be more consistent throughout the year with your health and fitness routines, these three tips will help you achieve your goals.

1. Work Out at Home

If the weather is a deterrent for exercise, take the weather out of the equation by working out at home more often, especially during the winter and summer. If you’ve been hesitant because you think you need to buy expensive gym equipment, you’ll be happy to know there are only a few basic items you should have and that expensive machines are not necessary for getting a good workout. For the most part, all you need is your body and a plan.

You can do pushups, crunches, squats, work your abs, and sculpt your legs and rear end. Add some weights when you want to work out your arms in different ways. Either purchase a dumbbell set or use items from around the house such as canned vegetables and water jugs. Cardio and stretching are easy to do at home, too. You can do jumping jacks, jog in place, use your steps for repetitions to tone your legs, dance, and do yoga right from home.

If you don’t think you’ll know how to develop a routine, look on YouTube for some routines you can follow along with in the comfort and privacy of your home. Many fitness videos range from beginner to advanced, and you’ll feel like you’re in a class once you start moving along with the video. Some people find that setting an alarm on their phones and sticking to a fitness routine at a certain time each day helps with accountability.

2. Work Out with a Friend

One of the reasons people don’t stick to a health and fitness routine throughout the year is that they don’t hold themselves accountable. If you have this problem, start working out with a friend. Not only will your workouts be more fun, but you’ll stick to your plan when you schedule time for it and know that you need to show up not only for yourself but also for your partner. Friends also make good spotters when you head to the gym for lifting day, and they can add a friendly face to an otherwise intimidating setting.

Sometimes, having a workout buddy is beneficial simply for the motivation factor. When you feel like eating a piece of cheesecake, ditching your workout, or giving up altogether, your friend can help you reset your intention. And you can do the same for her.

Your workout buddy can be of the four-legged variety, too. Many people find that walking their dog is a good form of exercise that also helps reduce stress. Playing with and walking your dog increases your oxytocin level, which helps you relax. If you add a vigorous walk to the mix, you also increase your endorphin levels and feel happier. Walk your dog around your neighborhood, take your dog hiking, or plan a play date at the local dog park to spend more time with your dog. If your dog is athletic, you can roller blade, skate or bike with them too.

3. Develop Healthy Eating Habits

The key to eating healthier is to make it a habit. Now that the holidays have passed and you aren’t tempted by Thanksgiving meals and Christmas cookies and treats, it’s easier to start developing healthy eating habits that will carry you through the year and next holiday season.

A helpful tip for creating new habits is to remain true to portion sizes rather than completely giving up your most loved foods. When you eliminate favorite foods from your diet, you are more likely to binge on them because you feel deprived. Another tip for staying on track includes making a plan for your weekly meals each Sunday to help yourself stay on track instead of being tempted to order a pizza at the last minute after a late night of work.

It is possible to implement health and fitness routines throughout the year to help you consistently stay on track toward your goals. Once you develop healthy routines, they will become habits, and you’ll be more likely to stick to working out at home, working out with a friend, and eating healthy all year.

by Paige Johnson

Image via Pixabay by stevepb

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Running 3100 Miles for Inner Peace

The Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race is held annually on a concrete footpath around an 883-metre block…

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Running 3100 Miles for Inner Peace

An Interview with Grahak Cunningham from Australia by Sujantra

 

The Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race is held annually on a concrete footpath around an 883-metre block in Queens, New York. Founded by Sri Chinmoy, it is the world’s longest foot race. Runners are given 18 hours a day, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, for 51 days, to run a minimum of 60 miles a day to complete the distance. Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga asked Australian motivational speaker, author and four time finisher of the Self Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, Grahak Cunningham, three questions.

grahak1
 

Why do you run in this event it?

I often ask myself the same question when I am having a difficult day! My running career up to the 3100 was pretty uneventful. I started running when I was 19. I progressed from shorter distances to ten-kilometre races to half-marathon and marathon events. I entered my first ultra on a whim (47 miles) in 2005 aged 28, which was the day after I had done a marathon. It wasn’t easy but after finishing I started to think about multi-day running.

“If we have self-belief we can do anything provided we put our heart and soul into it.”

I heard about the 3100 and watched a friend finish. Inspired, I knew I had to do it one day and consoled myself with the ridiculous thought ‘I did a 47 mile race and a marathon the next day. If I had to I could probably do that all over again, across a number of days.’ I basically shelved the idea of running the 3100 but then Sri Chinmoy, perhaps noticing my interest inwardly to do the race, asked me a few times if I had run the 3100. When a Master asks something like that he is doing a few things: indicating you have the capacity, suggesting you would benefit tremendously spiritually if you do it and of course helping you inwardly every step of the way if you do decide to compete. I prepared, planned, trained and entered at age 30. Finishing the race was a real turning point in my life. It showed me that it really is possible to go beyond our limits—if we just try. I think if we have self-belief we can do anything provided we put our heart and soul into it.

grahak2
 

Do you do Yoga?

I do a lot of breathing, meditation and visualization techniques in the race so that for me is yoga. Often the runners will do different Asana’s to stretch, de-stress or get rid of tightness and soreness. Inspired by them I did try it more and more. I am actually injured at the moment so I have taken it up seriously. I love it and despite being injured, yoga has made me probably the most flexible I have ever been. My favorites are the shoulder stand, head stand and cobra to dog.

You have written a book, Running Beyond the Marathon. Can you tell us about the book?

The book aims to share some of the things I have learnt along the way to completing the 3100 mile race four times. The book helps show the connection to the spiritual and the physical and meditation and running. Hopefully it illustrates to the reader that we can achieve anything in life. Here is an excerpt: “Life itself is a challenge and no achievement worth striving for, whether it is athletic, career-based or personal, is going to come easily to anyone. First we have to work hard and only then can we get the reward and the feeling of achievement that comes with it. If life were easy, if we were handed everything on a silver platter, there wouldn’t be the same sense of satisfaction.

“It is not human nature
To enjoy what we get
With no effort.”
-Sri Chinmoy

 
Completing 3100 miles on foot is tough. To cover the immense distance, to conquer negative thoughts, pain, doubts and despair, takes inner fortitude and a desire to extend yourself. You have to willingly go outside your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to keep moving forward. The Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, for those who want it to be, is a spiritual journey of self-discovery, of reaching towards our limitless potential.

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Every step was taking me closer and closer towards my goal. The feeling I got from bettering and improving myself, reaching miles way beyond my previous personal best, far outweighed the physical and mental difficulties I faced. Soldiering forwards through days five and six my overall total was 342 miles. An average well below what I needed to finish. It had been a hard slog to get to the start. The hours of preparation and thousands of kilometres training maybe wasn’t enough.”

Thanks for talking to us today Grahak, your adventures are a real inspiration!
 
beyond_marathonOne of Australia’s best motivational speakers, keynote speakers and performance trainers, Perth resident Grahak Cunningham is an ordinary Australian who dared to dream. He book Running Beyond the Marathon is available on Amazon.com.

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A Nudge towards Vegetarian

If you have been on the fence about adopting a vegetarian diet only watch Forks over Knives if you want to take the plunge…

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Forks Over Knives

If you have been on the fence about adopting a vegetarian diet watch Forks over Knives if you want to take the plunge.

I was looking for a documentary recently on Netflix and came across the 2011 film and was captivated. I like science and the film is built around the lifetime work of two pioneering doctors, who both discovered the significance link between nutrition and health. Another way to phrase it was they both discovered the significance between certain diets and heart disease and cancer.

Bottom line: they both live and teach the importance, both personal and planetary for a plant-based diet.

Forks Over Knives

A Plant Based Diet

Forks Over Knives presents a strongly persuasive, scientifically backed argument for the health and life benefits of a plant based diet. That is defined as a diet of fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains and legumes. Yes, you could say that is a vegan diet, though that word rarely comes up in the film, as there are subtle differences. To get a sense of those nuances I suggest watching the interview with Teekhnata Metzler, who has a Ph.D. in Holistic Health and is one of the senior instructors at Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, CA.

Forks Over Knives centers around a group of doctors and their success in treating a wide range of diseases through a plant based diet. The movie also draws on a number of significant studies that have been done in the United States, India and China. The studies are conclusive and compelling.

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Awareness through Yoga

Yoga teaches us to look at ourselves and our actions with a clear mind. In that clarity arises which can then be the fuel for change. Every breath is precious and the yogi does all she can to sustain and nourish the life force. Diet affects our body, mind and emotions.

Cancer and Diabetes

The movie is well made and has a series of story threads running simultaneously which keeps the learning curve high throughout the film. From studies in China involving 65,000 people to 24 patients given less than a year to live, their story is our story as we all share the human body.

Give the film a watch and see what it does for you!

 

 

 

 

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21 Ways to Eat Your Water

Our bodies need water to survive. Water makes up more than half of our body weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to…

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Our bodies need water to survive. Water makes up more than half of our body weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to function effectively. Water also helps the body maintain temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints.  That’s why experts recommend drinking 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water each day

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How do we lose water

We lose water each day when we practice yoga, go to the bathroom, sweat, and breathe. Hot weather and being physically active accelerate water loss. If we don’t replace the water we lose, we can become dehydrated.

Snack on Water Rich Fruits and Veggies

Snacking on fruit and vegetables that are largely made of water is a great way to hydrate. We like 21 Ways to Eat Your Water from Skinny Ms.

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Photo courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Getting Vegucated

This 2011 documentary is described on Amazon as “a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers…

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On Amazon and Netflix

This 2011 documentary is described on Amazon as “a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it’s all about.” The follower and director is Marisa Miller Wolfson who has created a great film that explores the vegan lifestyle. Her self-deprecating humor helps introduce the topic and draws in the viewer.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online

This film relies on humor and a strong ethical and humanitarian point of view to make the argument for a vegan diet. The movie chronicles the cruelty of the meat, fish and dairy industries and takes three New Yorkers on a journey into a vegan lifestyle. The lifestyle includes food, fashion and life decisions.

Vegucated

Forks over Knives

Like the film Forks over Knives this movie explores the science of the vegan diet and our planets needs while at the same time it diverges from that movie and explores the vegan lifestyle. It lets people know Oreo cookies are a thumbs up for the vegan. It’s an interesting juxtaposition: one film holds firm to strict dietary guide lines while the other makes a case for eating whatever you want so long as it does not involve animals.

Both films rely heavily of the China Study and feature T. Colin Campbell and his groundbreaking work with a plant based diet. Both films also make it quite clear that we are “…killing the planet with our growing meat and dairy habit.”

Einstein

It is fascinating to watch the three participants as they go through the transformation of understanding the impact our societal eating habit is having on the planet. They visit an animal sanctuary and slaughterhouse in the same day and the contrasts are compelling.

For me one of the highlights of the film is a quote by Einstein: “”Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

 

–Sujantra

 

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Yoga: A Remedy for Sleepless Nights?

Having trouble getting a sound sleep? Yoga might be the perfect remedy. A Harvard study on insomnia concluded people who practiced yoga consistently…

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Having trouble getting a sound sleep? Yoga might be the perfect remedy. A Harvard study on insomnia concluded people who practiced yoga consistently for eight weeks slept better and longer compared than those who did not practice.

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Helpful to Relax the Bodypic

Legs-Up-The-Wall(Viparita Karani) can be practiced at night before getting into bed or in the middle of the night, if you’re having trouble sleeping and waking up.  Try Nikole Fortier’s 7 minute class at Pilgrimage Yoga Online.  It’s ideal for beginners and advanced yogis.

Hope Knosher, founder of Hope’s Yoga, suggests: “Sit sideways with your right side against the wall. Exhale and gently swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Coming into this pose may take some practice. Your sitting bones don’t need to be right against the wall, depending on the tightness of your hamstrings. Experiment with the position until you find the placement that works for you.

This pose is not intended to stretch the backs of the legs, so if you feel pulling in the hamstrings move farther away from the wall. Keep the lower back grounded to the floor. Make a small roll with a hand towel to place under your neck if the cervical spine at the base of your neck feels too flat. Open your shoulder blades away from your spine and release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.

Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. If you struggle to keep your legs upright, take a yoga strap or something similar and place it around your legs just below the knees and gently tighten to hold the legs up right, allowing you to further relax into the pose. Gently close and soften your eyes, then scan the body. Soften into any tightness you find along the way.” *

Calm, Steady Breathing

Practice for 5-20 minutes. Focus on calm and steady breathing.

When you are ready to come out, bend your knees halfway toward your chest and roll to one side. Use your arms to help you sit up, moving slowly and mindfully.

Raising your legs vertically, higher than the heart, can also help with blood circulation.

Hope cautions, “those who are pregnant or that have been diagnosed with glaucoma, high blood pressure, or any serious problems with the neck or spine, should consult their doctor first.”

If sleepless nights are on your mind, consider adding a meditation and relaxation class at Pilgrimage Yoga Online to your morning.

How do you deal with sleepless nights?

* Thanks to MindBodyGreen.com for permission to share this excerpt.

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My Journey of the Heart to Weight Loss

Difficulty is an opportunity for a depth of growth that is not present when everything is flowing easily. Difficulties have the ability to show us our inner reserves…

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By Nagesh

Personal Growth Through Weight Loss

 Difficulty is an opportunity for a depth of growth that is not present when everything is flowing easily. Difficulties have the ability to show us our inner reserves-depths, which we have yet to tap into. Not that I go looking for difficulties, mind you, but life does have a way of giving us ‘opportunities for growth.’

In June of 2014, I was offered such an opportunity. My profession is a tennis teaching professional in San Francisco. Early in that month, I sustained 3 unrelated injuries, though all related to tennis. I tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder, tore the meniscus in my right knee, and fractured my right hand. I needed to make it through the summer before I would have the surgeries, so I grinded my way until the end of August.

Nagesh still 3

Before

Unwanted Weight

During this time, partly because of these injuries, a general depression set in and I put on weight. This was all new territory for me as I had always prided myself on being in great shape, spending many years as a competitive tennis player. I played 3 years of college tennis followed by many years of semi-professional tournaments in California and Europe, driven to become the best tennis player I could be.

Fitness was always a huge part of ‘my game’ because I came to tennis very late in life and I was always competing against players far more experienced than me. Being super fit gave me a key advantage that helped me overcome my lack of tennis experience. When my body began to break down and my weight ballooned up to 225 lbs. (my playing weight was always around 170-175lbs), it is not difficult to understand how depression began to take hold of my psyche.

I had my first surgery in August 2014 (shoulder) and waited until December to have my knee done-Surgery was not needed for my hand. From the end of August until April I was off work. Though I was very happy to have my shoulder and knee repaired, the weight remained, as I was not able to do much but sit around.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online

Trip to San Diego

For months, I had been ‘knowing’ that it was time to “lose it” and get my body back to a more normal weight for me, however, it wasn’t until my trip to San Diego, to perform a music concert at the Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio, that the vehicle to embody my ‘knowing’ formulated. While in San Diego, someone mentioned the Atkins diet to me. After some research on the philosophy behind the diet, I decided to give it a try. On April 1st 2015 I jumped head first into my new way of eating, inspired that I had found my ‘way’ to embody my ‘knowing’ to ‘lose it’.

Meet the Atkins Diet

As per the instructions of the Atkins plan, I brought my carbs down to about 20 grams per day, increased my fat intake (up to about 60-70%), along with a moderate amount of protein. This flew in the face of everything I had learned about nutrition up to this point. The conventional wisdom was that a low fat, high carb diet was the best and healthiest. The results of my low carb, high fat diet, however, countered this conventional wisdom. I started to drop pounds immediately (about 4-5 pounds per week). Not only that but I began to feel much better. Gone were the energy spikes and mood swings and, in their place, was a steady energy level all day long-with no hunger cravings!

Nagesh After

After

This fascinated me and had me studying everything I could find about this way of eating, often referred to High Fat Low Carb (also known as HFLC), because I wanted to understand how this could be happening to me and if this was also happening for others as well. What I discovered was that, ‘Yes, it IS happening for others’, but also, that Atkins was not the only one recommending this way (HFLC) of eating.

It’s so awesome to, once again, be reminded that difficulties do indeed offer us ‘opportunities for growth’, along with opportunities for incredible life changes!

In upcoming posts I’ll explore some of the other HFLC plans out there and the wonderful world of weight loss that is available to everyone willing to put in the effort.

 

Nagesh is a musician and tennis professional living in San Francisco. He writes and performs original kirtan and bhajans inspired by his spiritual studies and journeys to India. You can find his music on Google Play Music store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Ways to Sleep Soundly

Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Mental stress from life and work often makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Meditation, physical exercise,…

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Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Mental stress from life and work often makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Meditation, physical exercise, nutrition and yoga practice, are ideal ways to balance stress and sleep soundly.

In Sleep the Mind Taps into Higher Consciousness

Sleep is a magical time when our mind taps into higher consciousness and the soul comes to the fore, says spiritual yogi Paramahansa Yogananda.  “In sleep, the astral life forces are withdrawn not only from the muscles but also from the sensory instruments. Every night each man accomplishes a physical withdrawal of the life force, albeit in an unconscious way; the energy and consciousness in the body retire to the region of the heart, spine, and brain, giving man the rejuvenating peace of subconscious contact with the divine dynamo of all his powers, the soul. Why does man feel joy in sleep? Because when he is in the stage of deep, dreamless sleep, unconscious of the body, physical limitations are forgotten and the mind momentarily taps a higher consciousness.”

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Here are some sleep suggestions for those suffering from sleepless nights.

1. End use of computers, TV, and handheld devices an hour prior to sleep time

The blue light from your electronic devices shuts down the production of melatonin, a major sleep hormone that we produce at night.

2. Reduce Caffeine

It takes 4-6 hours or more to metabolize caffeine, which prevents a helpful sleep-promoting chemical called adenosine from working. Several hours before sleep avoid wine, alcohol, red bull, coffee, chocolate, chicken and soda.

3. Exercise regularly

Exercise regularly and you’ll sleep easier and more soundly. Whether you’re jogging, swimming, playing tennis or working out at the gym, exercise is a great way to feel and look your best, and you’ll also promote a great night’s sleep.

4. Watch your diet

Foods helpful for sleep include cherries, which contain melatonin, a chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock, says Keri Gans, a registered dietician in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. Bananas are helpful because they contain natural muscle-relaxers magnesium and potassium. Sweet potatoes provide sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates and contain muscle-relaxant potassium. When combined with complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat toast or crackers, cheese and dairy products can help bring about the onset of sleep. Carbohydrates release insulin which promotes the movement of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan then converts to serotonin and melatonin, which are sleep-promoting neurotransmitters.

5. Cool the Room

At night our core body temperature drops and this tells the brain it’s time for sleep. Sleep with a room temperature of between 62 and 70 degrees.

6. Meditate

Right before sleep try a guided conscious relaxation tour and relax to beautiful images of nature and the comforting sound of guitar music. If you enjoy the relaxing sound of the flute combined with nature scenes, this short meditation video may help. Or listen to music like “Edge of Eternal” and find a peaceful calm.

7. Yoga

Make Halasana the last thing you do before sleep. It’s a pose done while lying on your back. Set yourself up to create a strong base in the back of your shoulders and arms, just as you would in Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). Kick your legs overhead and press your toes into the floor behind you. Stay in the pose for up to 5 minutes and slowly draw the legs back over head and return them to the floor. This pose is therapeutic as it calms the mind. A calm mind reduces stress and anxiety.

8. Alarm clocks should be heard, but not seen

Avoid visually bright-screened alarm clocks and ticking wall clocks. Keep your wakeup devices out of mind and sight and let them do their jobs at the appointed times.

9. Pristine quiet

If it’s too noisy where you sleep, try wearing earplugs. If your spouse’s snoring is keeping you awake, there are medical solutions you can try. If snoring is an issue, you might try a “bedroom divorce”.

10. A comfy mattress

Find a mattress that is firm or soft enough for you. You’re going to be sleeping on a mattress for an average of 7 years. So find a one that is comfortable and supportive.

How are you dealing with sleepless nights?

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Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon?

Oregon State University (OSU) researchers have patented a new strain of a succulent red marine algae called dulse that grows extraordinarily quickly…

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Good news for vegetarians!

Oregon State University (OSU) researchers have patented a new strain of a succulent red marine algae called dulse that grows extraordinarily quickly, is packed full of protein and has an unusual trait when it is cooked.

This seaweed tastes like bacon.

Dulse (Palmaria sp.) grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It is harvested and usually sold for up to $90 a pound in dried form as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement. But researcher Chris Langdon and colleagues at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have created and patented a new strain of dulse – one he has been growing for the past 15 years.

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This strain, which looks like translucent red lettuce, is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – and it contains up to 16 percent protein in dry weight, Langdon said.

 

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5 Tips for Improving Your Focus

Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives. If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news […]

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Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives.

If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news alerts and instant messages.  One day I decided to shut off the notifications on my iPhone.  Now I now check for messages on my own time versus being interrupted by notifacations.

“Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). It’s an inner alert that says, “Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.”

And sometimes life gets out of balance. So working on personal focus is a great way to find your center again. Here are some practical tips for staying focused.

1. Meditate in the Morning

Morning meditation can be a transformative, life-changing experience if done regularly. Take any of our online meditation classes to learn productive meditation techniques. Practice a few minutes each day. Be patient with yourself; it took a lifetime to get you clogged up and unbalanced. It takes some time for a lifetime of reverberations in one’s mind to dissolve into the focused stillness that regular meditation practice enables.

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2. Be Creative First Thing

Creative time can be a release us from the distractions of life.  Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Being creative opens the door to an inner dimension where we reflect, expand ideas, and see life in new ways.  I say be creative – sing, paint, play music, blog, or keep a diary daily. Be creative.

Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” suggests writing daily Morning Pages — three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. Morning pages are not intended to be high art. Cameron suggests, “they are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

3. Run and Become

Running a few miles a day is a great way to let go of the distractions of the day. Rather than listening to music on Spotify when you run,oractice mindfulness while running. Focus on your breathing. Listen to the quiet.  Accomplished runner and leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham combines mindfulness with physical movement for more energy, more focus, and more. His book, “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” shares ways to connect with the present moment through synchronizing body and mind.

4. Commit to Your Calendar

Keep a physical or online calendar. That’s where you can schedule and prioritize time for activities that nurture focus. Add calendar listings for morning meditation, yoga, being creative, running and more. Be fair to yourself — create a schedule you feel you can keep. Then keep to the schedule; that’s the commitment. The longer you do the more you’re providing your ability to focus. Fulfilling your calendar puts your focus into action while nurturing good practices for life.

5. Control Instant Notifications

Author Stephen King says the one thing a writer needs is a “door” to close. We’re living in an instant notification world. Consider reducing or eliminating persistent notifications on mobile phones and laptops from social media, email, stores and friends. Check messages on your own time versus allowing them to intrude on you every moment of the day – as if your door was always open to strangers.

 Shambhu writes for the Pilgrimage Yoga Online blog.  He’s also an accomplished guitarist and composer. Learn more at ShambhuMusic.com.  

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Can We Affect Aging?

Can we affect aging? New age guru Deepak Chopra believes that good practices and positive intention can affect more than our health and wellness…

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New age guru Deepak Chopra believes that good practices and positive intention can affect more than our health and wellness in this moment – but over our lifetime. They can affect how we age over time. He calls intentions “the triggers for transformation in the body. If you want to wiggle your toes, you do it through intention. There are two components to biological information in the body, one is intention, the other is attention.”


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In an interview for People and Possibilities, Chopra stated his belief that people don’t die of simple old age, they die of the diseases that accompany old age which are often preventable. 

Deepak Chopra: “Most people think that aging is irreversible and we know that there are mechanisms even in the human machinery that allow for the reversal of aging, through correction of diet, through anti-oxidants, through removal of toxins from the body, through exercise, through yoga and breathing techniques, and through meditation. Most people believe that aging is normal but nobody defines what normal aging is. What we call normal may be the psychopathology of the average. Most people think that aging is genetic and yet if your parents lived to age 80+ that will add three years to your life.

The Way You Think Can Influence Your Life

The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years. Most people believe that aging is universal but there are biological organisms that never age. Most people believe that aging is painful and we know that pain is from diseases that are preventable, not from aging.

Reality is Nothing Other than Your Perception of It

People have to change their concepts of aging and I am not asking them to do so based on some fanciful notion, but on scientific fact. When they change that, then their perception of aging will change and it will become clear to them to grow old and to become wiser, to become more creative, to become the springboard for creativity and affluence. Once your perception of the whole phenomenon changes, your reality will change, because reality is nothing other than your perception of it.”

How are your staying healthy? If you’re looking for a practical yoga routine, try a Pilgrimage Yoga Playlist.

Deepak Chopra is the founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.  The Chopra Center is founded on three pillars of timeless wisdom: meditation, Ayurveda, and yoga.  He is also the author of more than 65 books, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. 

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Yoga at Home Is Key to Healthier Lifestyle

A research report titled “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners” suggests that home yoga practice is key to a healthier diet…

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A research report titled “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners” suggests that home yoga practice is key to a healthier diet, exercise and improved mental health. Home practice of yoga is also a better predictor of health than years of class practice or class frequency.

Tosca Braun, a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga instructor and 500-hour Integrative Yoga Therapist notes, “In my own experience, home practice is sweetly satisfying. It can also become stale and rigid without continued inspiration from teachers or attendance at classes or retreats. Hitting the mat can sometimes become another box to check off, with my mind racing through the day’s events as I lose the anchors of body and breath. At other times, the strength or motivation to practice may desert me, due to life’s emotional upheavals. It is then that I am most likely to attend class or seek community, where I find the support, inspiration and belonging I have longed for in my home practice. When I return to my home yoga mat, it is that much sweeter for having been touched by sangha and a skillful teacher’s reminder to inhabit my body and breath with compassionate presence.”

Yoga Promises Healthier Life

According to the report, Yoga shows promise as an intervention targeting a number of outcomes associated with lifestyle-related health conditions including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cancer. While aerobic exercise long has been a valuable tool in combating these health conditions, a review of clinical trials comparing exercise to yoga found yoga to be equal or superior to aerobic exercise in improving a number of outcomes associated with chronic health conditions.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online

Home Practice is Key

The frequency of home practice appears to be very important— more important than how long an individual has been practicing or how many classes one takes. It’s not enough simply to learn how to do healthy behaviors. Rather, healthy behaviors must be incorporated into one’s daily life. While these findings suggest that individuals will only glean benefits from yoga practice that are proportional to the energy they are willing to invest in making it a part of their lives, the findings also suggest that they do not have to practice for years in order to reap the rewards.

What one practices, be it the different types of physical poses, breath work, or meditation, is important because the different aspects of yoga practice may well have different health benefits.

From: Alyson Ross, Erika Friedmann, Margaret Bevans, and Sue Thomas, “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 983258, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/983258

 

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4 Summer Drinks That Will Keep You Slim

Oscar Wilde stated “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” and this couldn’t ring truer in our current balance-obsessed culture…

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by Sara

Is maintaining balance stressing you out?

 

Here’s 4 summer drinks that will keep you slim without going to extremes.

Oscar Wilde stated “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” and this couldn’t ring truer in our current balance-obsessed culture. I’ve always tried to approach health without going to extremes but like most twenty-something females living in Southern California I’ve definitely done my fair share of experimenting with juice cleanses and strict vegan or gluten free diets. In the end I’ve found that the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to value mindful balance and let go of perfection.

As a personal chef and food-documentary junkie, I have my fair share of opinions when it comes to eating. There are some things I won’t touch like soda or artificial fruit juices. Other times, I throw out the rulebook and enjoy some delicious French cheese on baguette with a glass of rosé for dinner! Quality over quantity and moderation over deprivation.

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Learning to approach health without going to extremes will be incredibly helpful in the long run. If maintaining balance is stressing you out, you’ll likely never receive the benefits of a moderate lifestyle!

Most people associate the holidays with packing on the pounds, but summertime, with its weekly BBQs and sugary drinks, can put a serious damper on your weight loss plan. Instead of reaching for that soda, try these delicious drinks that will increase metabolism, detoxify your body and curb your appetite. You’ll find yourself shedding a few pounds easily, in a completely healthy way!

Metabolism Tea

Metabolism Boosting Iced Tea

A simple cinnamon, ginseng or green tea can stabilize your blood sugar, boost your metabolism and detoxify your system. Keep a pitcher in your fridge and enjoy unsweetened or add a small amount of raw honey when the tea is still warm.

Breakfast Smoothies That Fill You Up

A morning smoothie can be a great way to get a serving or two of fruit in before you start your day. Adding a tablespoon each of flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds will provide enough fiber and protein to suppress your appetite and fill you up until lunchtime. Try this simple and delicious green smoothie.

Green Smoothie

De-stress with Adaptogenic Herbs

Did you know that chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol levels which trigger hunger and keep you from losing weight? Adaptogens are ancient herbs that can help improve your body’s hormonal responses and balance the adrenal system. Ashwagandha, Ashitaba and Rhodiola can help stabilize hormones and keep your body in balance. Try this simple recipe to reduce stress and lose weight.

Fat Burning Apple Cider Vinegar

When insulin levels spike, fat is more easily stored in the body. Apple cider vinegar can help to stabilize your blood sugar and suppress your appetite. While some choose to take a shot of the vinegar straight, I prefer a smoother approach by adding a tablespoon of ACV to a glass of half water, half freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Drink a glass an hour before each meal to curb the appetite and improve digestion.

A long-term healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables will almost always lead to successful weight loss and it never hurts to go for a few walks or do a bit of yoga or strength training, too. The secret is to find joy on the path to your goal weight and always focus on lifestyles changes rather than quick fixes. Incorporating healthy ways to hydrate into your day-to-day life is a great place to start!

 

SaraSara is a health food enthusiast and has been practicing yoga for over ten years. She currently works as a personal chef and as Natural Lifestyle Specialist for Purtylife.com.

Photo by Vince Marcial.
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3 Ways To Feel Your Best

We spend our time doing many things each day. But how many of our activities actually contribute to our own well-being…

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We spend our time doing many things each day. But how many of our activities actually contribute to our own well-being or make the world a better place?

Do Worthwhile Things

Feeling good results when we do things that are worthwhile for ourselves and those around us. Practicing yoga, working out regularly, eating healthy foods, and living harmoniously with nature – all can contribute to a personal sense of well-being.

Motivation guru Earl Nightingale wrote, “We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”

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Think Positive

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become,” says Buddha.

Lets say life is great, but your job feels like it’s going nowhere. Be patient. Avoid saying self-defeating and/or negative things to yourself. Try replacing them with positive thoughts.

Author Normal Vincent Peale advises an approach to positive thinking, “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”

Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are things you can say to yourself either out loud or quietly to help enable positive outcomes. Try affirming to yourself whatever it is that you want to occur. Let’s say you’re recovering from a broken arm, you can repeat to yourself, “I have a strong and healthy arm.”

Holistic Health writer Liz Parry, suggests several positive affirmations that you can use to influence your life:

  • I have a healthy body and a happy mind.
  • I have plenty of energy.
  • My mind is calm and relaxed.
  • I have an enjoyable and fulfilling job.
  • Money flows easily and naturally into my life.
  • I radiate love and happiness.
  • I have a happy, loving relationship with my partner.
  • I am successful in all that I do.

What do you do each day to feel good?

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Mosquitos Biting? Try a Natural Bug Repellant

Did you know that dusk or dawn are the times when mosquitoes are most active and most bites occur? If you’re practicing yoga outside…

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Did you know that dusk or dawn are the times when mosquitoes are most active and most bites occur? If you’re practicing yoga outside in the early morning or evening, it’s not the male mosquitos that you have to worry about – it’s the females that are out for blood.

Mosquitos Use Scent

Mosquitos finds their prey using scent, exhaled carbon dioxide, and chemicals in a person’s sweat. If you do get bit, you’ll know it by the red bump and itching resulting from the body’s reaction to the mosquito’s saliva.

Here’s an essential oils recipe for avoiding painful and annoying bites from Jennifer Freitas at The Truth Beauty Company .

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 Ingredients*

 

  • 2 oz of Sweet Almond oil – or some other neutral carrier oil, like Jojoba or grapeseed.
  • 20-25 drops of Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Lavender, Clove or Mint (not 20-25 of each but TOTAL – sometimes, I like to do a blend to achieve a smell I enjoy; for example, I don’t really enjoy the smell of tea tree so I might use 5 drops of that and 20 of lemongrass).

 

Mix the carrier oil and the essential oil drops in a dark colored glass. Shake it up and presto! Natural Bug Repellant. I find I only need to apply a few drops to my pressure points – the crease of my elbows, the backs of my knees, on my neck and behind my ears. No bugs seem to bother me.

To be honest, I can’t tell you the science of why these essential oils work to repel the mosquitoes but I know they do!! I have been hiking in a heavily wooded area, after a rain fall at dusk (worst time EVER if you want to avoid bites) and did not get ONE bite!!

Say some of these pesky pests do get to your lovely skin – what to do in order to speed healing and to stop the itch? Some of these suggestions with ‘drawing out’ properties may be effective.

 

  • A paste of baking soda (made with warm water) left on the bite for a few minutes should help with the itch;
  • Activated charcoal (which you can buy in a capsule form). Break one open and sprinkle the contents on your skin, cover and keep bandaged for a day;
  • Clays – used in the same way as the activated charcoal;
  • Vinegar – soak a cotton ball and apply it to the bump and keep it there until the pain subsides;
  • Of course this list contains Aloe Vera! It is such a super star for all skin injuries and issues. In this case, Aloe is very helpful for removing the heat that comes with bug bites – very soothing, almost instant relief!  It will also help with the swelling and even aid in the healing of the wound;
  • Onion – as if having an itchy bug bite wasn’t bad enough – now you will smell like onions too! Oh well, all in the name of skin saving! All you need to do is take a fresh slice and place it on the bite, until the itching subsides;
  • Honey – another skin superstar with multiple uses! It will help with the swelling and honey actually possesses natural healing abilities that make it great to soothe the inflammation. Just rub the area with a little of this sweet goodness;
  • Salt. Similar to the baking soda paste, all you need to do is take a bit of finely ground salt and mix it with a bit of water until you have a thick paste – and apply it directly to the bite.

 

How do you manage mosquitos where you live?

*Use caution with essential oils as they should be diluted before being applied directly to skin, and be advised that some essential oils can cause skin reactions.  

NOTE: If there is serious swelling, muscle cramping, breathing problems, headache, nausea, fever or fainting as a result of a bug bite, you should seek medical attention.

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Kale-Packed Lemonade? Summer Yummy!

Satisfy your summer lemonade craving with this kale-packed version. Refreshing, cleansing and delicious, this superfood-packed juice will have you feeling…

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Satisfy your summer lemonade craving with this kale-packed version.

Refreshing, cleansing and delicious, this superfood-packed juice will have you feeling clean from the inside out. Who needs beauty creams and serums when you’re getting all of that vitamin K, vitamin C, plus antioxidants in one tasty drink?

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Sweet Kale Lemonade

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1½ large cucumbers, unpeeled
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 2 cups kale leaves, tough stems removed
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ Fuji apple

Preparation

Put all the ingredients into a high-powered juicer and juice. Serve immediately.

This recipe is excerpted from Clean Green Eats: 100+ Clean-Eating Recipes to Improve Your Whole Life

Reprinted with special thanks to Mindbodygreen.com.  Photo courtesy of the author.

 

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Thirsty? Why Staying Hydrated Matters

Are you thirsty more than you care to admit? We need water to survive. All of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs require water to function…

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Are you thirsty more than you care to admit?

We need water to survive.  All of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs require water to function. Water helps the body maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. Drink up – water is essential for optimal health.

How do we lose water?

Did you know that water accounts for more than half of our body weight?  When we visit the bathroom, sweat, and breathe, we lose water.  When we’re working out, when it’s hot and sweaty outside, and when we’re sick – we lose water more rapidly. It’s important to replace the water we lose, or we can become dehydrated.

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Dehydration

Make sure to consume enough water. Experts suggest 6-8 eight ounce glasses daily. If you feel any of the following symptoms, you might just be dehydrated, according to FamilyDoctor.org.

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Feeling confused, dizzy or lightheaded
  • No tears when crying
  • Little or no urine, or urine that’s darker than normal

Water is a Great Workout Partner

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you during the day.
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Drink water as part of any weight-loss plan.
  • Set up a water schedule. For example, drink at at meals, or every hour or two hours.

What’s your plan for staying hydrated?

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Yoga and Weight Loss: Find Balance

The practice of even the gentlest style of yoga helps make everything in life a little easier — including weight loss. Overweight people who practiced yoga…

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The practice of even the gentlest style of yoga helps make everything in life a little easier — including weight loss.

Alan Kristal, lead researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, studied 15,000 adults in their 50s. His study showed that overweight people who practiced yoga at least once a week for 4 or more years lost an average of 5 pounds, while those who failed to practice packed on an average of 13.5 pounds. That’s a difference of almost 20 pounds.  And folks who practiced yoga regularly maintained their weight more effectively than those who did not.

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Stress Affects Weight Loss

Still, stress is a factor in weight loss. According to Harvard’s Medical Health Letter, “Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” push people toward overeating. And an American Psychological Association survey indicated that about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.”

Balance Playlist

If you’re stressed out more than you want to be or if you’re trying to get your diet under control, here’s a great 30 minute Pilgrimage Yoga Online playlist for getting into balance that you can practice in the morning, evening or over lunch at work. Yoga a great way to balance the stress of your day.

  1. Sun Salutations (10 min)

Surya Namaskar. Connect your breath to your movement as you flow through one of yoga’s most popular series of asanas, also known as sun salutations.

  1. Crow Pose (5 min)

Bakasana. Balance the weight of your body on bent arms.  Strengthen your arms and wrists and improve focus and balance.

  1. Tripod Headstand (5 min)

Sirsasana. Rest the crown of the head lightly on the floor as the body is completely inverted and held upright, supported by the forearms.

  1. Savasana (10 min)

Savasana. Savasana is consciously letting go, actively surrendering to gravity; being pulled into back into earth. Allowing ourselves to melt into harmony with all.

How are you using yoga for weight loss?

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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VANILLA CHAI CHIA PUDDING

Hi, I’m Michaell and I am a tea-aholic. Especially the tea that comes out piping hot and scented with the rich aromas of East India Chai…

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by Michaell

Hi, I’m Michaell and I am a tea-aholic. Especially the tea that comes out piping hot and scented with the rich aromas of East India Chai. This Vanilla Chai Chia Pudding is the perfect breakfast with a small dose of caffeine to start your day!

If you are unfamiliar with the history of chai, it has evolved quite a bit in the past 5000 years. Many believe this drink was created for a royal court long ago and made with spices. But once tea was introduced by China and Britain, chai evolved into scalding milk poured over a black tea bag with spices and sweetener, then strained for the perfect smooth cup.

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When you walk into Starbucks and get a chai latte, you are missing a lot of the antioxidant benefits of drinking this tea at home. But since most of us are in a hurry and want our tea cold, what better way to have a chai tea latte than in a delicious chia pudding?
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It was shocking to me how much beyond antioxidants that black tea is credited for, so I’m going to quote here from Livestrong.

“Widely recognized as a mental stimulant, black tea is also recognized for its other potential health benefits, primarily because of its caffeine and antioxidant content. Black tea also contains enough fluoride to possibly help prevent dental carries, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Black tea can help prevent orthostatic hypertension — dizziness caused by standing too quickly — and is possibly effective for reducing the risk of heart attacks, atherosclerosis, kidney stones, Parkinson’s disease and ovarian cancer. Research for other types of cancer in animals suggests that black tea may have an effect in reducing the risk of certain cancers, such as prostate and lung cancer, but studies in humans have yielded mixed results. More research is needed for other supposed benefits, including those for osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, high blood pressure and stomach disorders.”

Chia seeds deliver omega-3, calcium, protein, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin b, and other minerals. Unlike flax seeds, your body will absorb the nutrients in chia seeds whether they are ground or not. One thing that you may not know is how chia seeds can help you shed weight due to the carbohydrates being mostly fiber.

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Small note, if you’ve never had chia pudding, I recommend doing just vanilla, sweetener and mylk to start, not chai. Reason being that simple is always best when trying out something new. Just using the vanilla and not the chai tea blend will have more of a tapioca pudding texture and flavor.

Vanilla Chai Chia Pudding

Yield: Half Quart of Chia Pudding

Chia Chia

Ingredients

Chai mix
    • 1 cup black tea (1 tea bags and 1 cup of boiling water or mylk)
    • 1/2 tsp cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
    • dash of allspice (dash should be a bit less than 1/8 tsp)
    • dash clove powder
    • dash ginger powder
    • dash fresh ground pepper
Pudding
    • 3/4 cup chia seeds
    • 3 cups coconut milk
    • 3 tbsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)
    • 1/4-1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup or honey)
Toppings
  • Bananas
  • Coconut Whipped Cream
  • Coconut Flakes

Instructions

  1. Boil 2 cups of water (or milk if doing the traditional chai) and steep 2 black tea bag and all of the spices.
  2. Strain the tea in cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer
  3. Mix the tea and the remaining pudding ingredients together in a large bowl
  4. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes
  5. Divide mixture into single serving containers or one large container (I use jam jars)
  6. Let sit overnight in the fridge
  7. Top with toppings once you are ready to eat
  8. Enjoy!

Notes

If you use water to make the black tea will make a stronger tea flavor in the chai. Using milk to make the black tea will be amore subtle creamy flavor.

About Michaell

michaellMichaell is the recipe creator and photographer behind Foodscape. “My challenge? How to take my favorite recipes and re-invent them using whole-food, processed-free, gluten-free and vegan ingredients…and sneaking extra fruits and veggies into every recipe. Too tough? Not for this girl!”

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Recipe: Refreshing Hibiscus and Berry Smoothie

Refreshing Hibiscus and Berry Smoothie is a light and refreshing smoothie that’s perfect on a warm day. It’s made with…

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by Casey Jade

A light and refreshing smoothie that’s perfect on a warm day. It’s made with a base of fresh hibiscus tea, and blended with berries and mint. As the weather starts to get warmer and you find your body craving light food, this is a perfect option.

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A Burst of Energy

Smoothies are wonderful because they’re quick to make and give you a burst of energy. This smoothie is great for a light breakfast or a refreshing afternoon tea.

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 8 dried hibiscus flowers or 2 hibiscus tea bags
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 banana
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 10 fresh mint leaves

Preparation

1. Add hibiscus flowers or tea bags to a bowl with boiling water. Leave to steep for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside until cool.

2. Add hibiscus tea, strawberries, raspberries, banana, dates and mint to a blender and mix until smooth.

3. Pour into glass and drink while cold. Add ice for an extra refreshing drink.

Casey is a yoga teacher and author of a popular food blog where she shares healthy recipes to help you look and feel amazing. Photo courtesy of the author.

Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to reprint this excerpt. 


 

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Recipe: Insanely Simple Curried Chickpea Salad

This protein-packed, uber-simple recipe is ideal for taking to work for a lunch on a bed of greens, in a butter lettuce…

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by Roberto Martin

This protein-packed, uber-simple recipe is ideal for taking to work for a lunch on a bed of greens, in a butter lettuce cup, or just eaten with crackers. It can be used as a sandwich filler, a wrap, or scooped onto seasoned sliced tomatoes when they are in season. It’s super versatile. My 9-year-old likes it, and that’s saying something.

Curried Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked then cooked until very tender, or two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 celery ribs, diced small
  • 1 large organic Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 2 whole scallions, green parts thinly sliced and white parts minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Preparation

1. Place half of the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse them once or twice to chop them up a bit. This can also be done in a bowl with a potato masher.

2. Place the chickpeas and the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix them with a rubber spatula until well combined.

3. Season the salad with salt and pepper then cover and refrigerate it for 30 minutes minimum before serving.

Roberto Martin is the author of the New York Times bestseller Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, and Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking, and is the Owner and Head Chef of Elevate, a Los Angeles-based vegan restaurant. As a personal chef (working with celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi), he focuses on nutrition and health. Martin lives with his family in Southern California.  Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to excerpt.

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The Ultimate Green Juice

Juicing Offers Life Enhancing Benefits – According to weight loss expert Joe Cross, “Juicing offers many life-enhancing…

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Who juices?

Juicing Offers Life Enhancing Benefits

According to weight loss expert Joe Cross, “Juicing offers many life-enhancing health benefits including a faster, more efficient way to absorb immune boosting nutrients naturally found in fruits and vegetables.  It provides a way to access digestive enzymes typically locked away in the fiber matrix of whole fruits and vegetables.”

The founder of Moon Juice, Amanda Chantal Bacon believes that food is equal part art and medicine; as much about pleasure as healing.  Her ultimate green juice, which she describes below, has five key ingredients. “My Goodness Greens juice leans toward the practical and potent; it was the impetus for my own healing journey and exemplified what consuming plants could do for our bodies and minds.”

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Ultimate Green Juice

  1. Celery

Celery is a great juice-producer and can be used with all the rest of the leafy greens as a vehicle — alternate celery stalks with celery leaves in the juicer for juiciest results. Celery’s green, ribbed stalks are rich in minerals, amino acids, and B vitamins. Its alkaline minerals calm the nervous system, serving as an alkalizing, rehydrating nerve tonic with electrolytes.

  1. Parsley

Historically, parsley has been honored as a medical cure-all. Extremely high in chlorophyll, it contains more vitamin C than any other vegetable, which helps with iron absorption, and is also high in iron, magnesium and potassium. Wonderful for teeth and eyes, parsley is a diuretic and a uterine tonic that will help regulate menstruation, as well as a general stimulant and aid to digestion.

  1. Spinach

These dark green leaves are loaded with vitamins K and A, folate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, minerals, amino acids, and iron. Spinach mitigates toxins in the body and leaves us with beautiful skin. It’s particularly good for treating acne, improving hair growth, aiding alkalinity, healing wounds, gum maintenance, constipation, depression, fatigue, weakness and regulating the thyroid gland.

  1. Dandelion

Dandelion is rich in calcium and great for bone health. It’s the best liver cleanser, and it heals, tones and protects both the liver and the gall bladder by producing bile. It’s also great for blood sugar maintenance, it’s a germicidal and fungicidal, it’s lovely for the skin and intestinal maintenance and it’s a powerful diuretic and rich in iron to improve your energy and treat anemia.

  1. Kale

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, contains more calcium than milk and is way more bio-available, and is especially good for the eyes, skin, and muscles, and is a super anti-carcinogen.

What’s your favorite juice recipe?

Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to reprint this excerpt.

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5 Yoga Tips for Healthy Skin

Admiring those glowing faces in beauty cream advertisements, we often wonder if we too could have a skin so young…

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by Pritika Nair

Admiring those glowing faces in beauty cream advertisements, we often wonder if we too could have a skin so young and beautiful. Well, it’s not a far-fetched dream anymore! Now you too can flaunt healthy, radiant skin that draws attention. And the good news is: no chemicals and no pricey beauty packages. Just a simple four-letter word –yoga – and a glow on the face that lasts for long is yours to keep.

5 yoga tips

  1. Practice asanas (yoga postures) which help increase blood circulation to the head and face area. These postures also increase oxygenation to the system; as such are called chest openers. All inverted postures and forward bends, which increase blood supply to the head, can help achieve clean, glowing skin.

  2. Cooling pranayamas (breathing exercises) can help provide a cooling effect to the skin and retain its glow.

  3. To improve the digestive process, try doing Alternate Nostril Breathing on empty stomach.

  4. Meditate twice a day, every day. The more you do, the more you will radiate from within and without. Meditation will be your natural make-up that lasts long and makes you look beautiful!

  5. Practice at least 20 minutes of facial yoga exercises everyday at home. These will help tighten the face muscles. Massage your jaws to reduce stress, massage your eyebrows for a dose of instant relaxation, try the ‘kiss and smile technique’ (push out your lips as though to kiss a baby and then smile as broadly as you can) to exercise your face muscles.

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Other tips to keep your skin glowing

  • Drink lots of water: Lukewarm water with lemon and honey helps detoxify your system while keeping your skin clean and healthy.

  • Eat fresh: Make sure you include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C in your diet. Papaya can work wonders for your skin. You can either eat it or apply it on your face for a massage. Potato is also effective in reducing dark spots and scars, tan and sunburn. Also, try and avoid too much of fried or junk food and excessive spice or sweets. Substitute chips or fried rolls with dry fruits or some other healthy snacks. It’s also a good idea to check your body type – Vata, Pitta, or Kapha (an Ayurveda doctor can help you find this) – and know the kind of diet that is suitable to your unique body constitution.

  • Rest well: When your body is deeply rested, it automatically shows on the face. A minimum of eight hours of good sleep is ideal.

  • Apply natural stuff on your skin: Go for Ayurveda facial packages. These treatments are chemical-free, made from natural herbs and leave your skin fresh, rejuvenated and glowing. Use Ayurvedic face scrubs once a week and massage your face with an oil that is particularly suitable for your skin type. Vitamin E oil is recommended. Moisturize your face twice a day and make sure you wash your face after returning home from a long day. Also, splash water on your eyes at least 2-3 times a day. Give yourself a weekly body massage with an oil suitable to your body type. It cleanses the toxins away.

  • Smile: This is the best and the easiest make-up you can apply on your face. The more you smile, the more your face would naturally glow! Also, keep a positive attitude. How you look at yourself reflects on your face. Yoga practice can help you become positive about yourself and others around, and this positivity will make you glow!

Thanks to Art of Living for this contribution to Pilgrimage Yoga Online.

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Get Your Skin Summer Ready!

Bring Your Skin and Hair Back to Life – Spring is one of my favorite seasons; I can probably relate…

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by Jen Freitas

Bring Your Skin and Hair Back to Life

Spring is one of my favorite seasons; I can probably relate that to how much I detest winter. Finally I see buds on trees, tulips popping up, and the sweetest thing of all, is the sound of the birds singing in the morning. I love watching the entire world start to come back to life after a long, cold winter!

But there’s one thing that I don’t love about spring, and that’s the transition from the thick, cozy clothing of winter to lighter warm-weather clothes that tend to show a bit of skin. Skin, unless properly prepped, can look and feel dry, flaky, and pale—and don’t forget about the mane, which can be frizzy and dull! Luckily, with a bit of at home beauty TLC, you can bring your skin and hair back to life just in time to bury your gray and black tights in the back of your drawer and pull out the sleeveless shirts and bright summer dresses!

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Here are 2 of my favorite DIY, all-natural beauty treatments for the perfect spring makeover:

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

The first step to spring weather ready skin is to literally shed your winter skin! This exfoliating scrub does a superb job, plus it incorporates one of my favorite natural beauty superstars, coconut oil.

Here’s the how to:

Mix 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with ½ cup sugar. I use organic cane sugar. If you want a gentler scrub, you could opt for oats instead!

In the shower, use your hands to scrub the mixture vigorously all over your body. Rinse off with warm water then towel dry. Your skin will feel silky smooth and hydrated, as some of the coconut oil will stay on your skin and act as an intensive moisturizer.

You could add a few drops of Lavender essential oil for some scent, if you would like. Plus, it will contribute to the spa like feeling. 

Dry Brushing

This is a great daily tip to carry with you through all seasons. Purchase a long handled brush made for dry brushing. It should be made with natural fibers. Gently run it over your entire body every morning. This will help remove dead skin cells, which contribute to dry, flaky skin. It will also stimulate blood flow, improving circulation and assist your body in detoxifying.

Easy peasy! Now bring it on Mother Nature! This winter was too long!

 Do you have any natural at home beauty tricks that you incorporate in your daily life or as you prepare for the warmer weather?

Thanks to author Jen Freitas, founder and president of The Truth Beauty Company. Jen is a leader in the field of eco-friendly and cruelty free Beauty. She is also a Holistic Skin Care Consultant, avid Beauty Blogger, public speaker and mother.

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Recipe: Gluten-Free Nutella Granola with Cashew Milk

This granola is one of my favorite breakfasts to have on hand, with its perfect level of sweetness…

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This granola is one of my favorite breakfasts to have on hand, with its perfect level of sweetness and delightful pops of crunch from the toasted quinoa. When you eat this granola, the milk turns chocolaty and tastes exactly like the Cocoa Puffed milk of yore — so delicious! You have to try.

Gluten-Free Nutella Granola

NutellaGranolaCerealMylk-850x850Ingredients

  • 3 cups raw oats
  • 1 cup raw buckwheat
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, rough chopped
  • 1 cup toasted or puffed quinoa
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

 

 Preparation

1. Combine oats, buckwheat, hazelnuts, quinoa, chia and coconut sugar and mix well.

2. In a small saucepan, add coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla salt and cocoa powder; stirring constantly until coconut oil is melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well, then spread in an even layer on parchment lined baking sheets.

4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and store in jars at room temp for 2 to 3 weeks.

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Cashew Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours, then drained
  • 1 cup shredded dried coconut, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
  • 4-5 cups water, based on desired thickness (4 cups makes more of a whole milk feel, and 5 is closer to skim)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Preparation

Blend all ingredients on high for 2 to 3 minutes, or until very well combined, then strain out solids using a dish towel or nut milk bag, squeezing well to get all liquid out.

Milk keeps for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.

About the Author

Liz Moody is the woman behind the popular healthy food Instagram account @notcrazyhealthy, where she posts daily recipes and health tips. Named one of the best healthy Instagram’s to follow by Glamour.com, she’s also been featured on Redbook and Health Magazine. Having lived in Europe, South America, and the US, she’s passionate about making healthy choices accessible everywhere, and as such has recently launched EatWell Europe, the world’s first healthy food travel guide.

Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to reprint this excerpt.

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Recipes: Chickpea, Cucumber + Avocado Salad

Perfect for Summer Lunches and Dinner Parties – With the weather getting warmer, a delicious, cold, refreshing salad…

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by Abigail Keeso

Perfect for Summer Lunches and Dinner Parties

With the weather getting warmer, a delicious, cold, refreshing salad is sometimes just what the body needs. This delicious chickpea, cucumber and avocado salad does the trick. It only takes 10 minutes to throw together, and is perfect for summer lunches and dinner parties.

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Chickpea, Avocado + Feta Salad

Serves 4 – Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (19 oz.)
  • 1 cucumber (diced)
  • 4 green onions (diced)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

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Preparation

1. Combine chickpeas, cucumber, green onion, parsley, avocado, baby spinach and feta cheese together in a large salad bowl.

2. Drizzle with lime and lemon juice and add the extra virgin olive oil.

3. Toss well until evenly distributed. Divide into bowls and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Enjoy!

About the Author

Abigail Keeso is a Registered Nurse, Culinary Nutrition Expert and co-founder of That Clean Life, a platform that makes eating healthy simple and fun.

Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to reprint this excerpt.

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Kirtan and Health

The numbers are astounding! – Singing, especially choral singing is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health…

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The numbers are astounding!

Singing, especially choral singing is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health and well-being.

“Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed.”

I know this from experience. I’ve lead a weekly kirtan, a chanting and meditation practice, for over five years. At the end of the evening I am exhilarated. I feel good. I’m happy and at peace.

“Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

“It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony.”

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Our Breaths and Hearts

When we sing our breaths and hearts come together, a process called entrainment. Vibrations sync up. And studies further suggest that group singing can be extremely beneficial for older folks who don’t exercise regularly.

“Deep breathing is a key to meditation and other relaxation techniques…”

A  Form of Pranayama

I’ve often described singing as a form of pranayama. Think about it. Precisely controlled breathing. Inhale a measured volume of air, pause, regulate and pressurize, exhale in a very conscious manner to produce a specific sound, continuing to refine the exhale to control and improve the sound or change notes… Repeat. All together, now…

Great for Everyone

A kirtan is great for anyone to find a safe, welcoming and easy place to find your voice. No auditions are required. No one cares what you sound like. And in fact, the benefits of singing are available even to the most average singers (of which I am one). Find a kirtan. Find your voice. Enliven your heart.

We’re here for you!

Join Us Live or Live Stream

The reality is, when you join in choral singing you become an integral component of something you can’t create by yourself. You recognize and appreciate both the necessity and the offerings of those around you. You become part of a larger whole, a community of ONE.

The Pilgrimage of the Heart Kirtan Band plays every Thursday evening at 8:15pm (Pacific) for FREE and streams the event LIVE. Join us in person if you are in San Diego. Download Stre.am (free app) on your mobile device and search for pilgrimagekirtan to connect with us worldwide.

 

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3 Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training in 2013 the head instructor asked me what was going on with me physically and…

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On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training in 2013 the head instructor asked me what was going on with me physically and spiritually. I told her I hadn’t been sleeping well, wanted a better night’s sleep and there was a lot on my mind at the time. The projects I was working on filled my head as soon as I laid down at night. She gave me a yoga prescription for my sleeplessness and told me to do Halasana (a.k.a. Plow) right before bed. She explained that I must make sure this pose truly is the last thing I do before sleep, i.e. teeth brushed, no more communicating with family or on my phone, lights out, pajamas on. I took the prescription and it worked. There are countless poses that reduce insomnia. Here are a few.

Halasana

Halasana is a pose done while lying on your back. Set yourself up to create a strong base in the back of your shoulders and arms, just as you would in Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). Kick your legs overhead and press your toes into the floor behind you. Stay in the pose for up to 5 minutes and slowly draw the legs back over head and return them to the floor. This pose is therapeutic as it calms the mind. A calm mind reduces stress and anxiety.

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Uttanasana

Uttanasana (a.k.a. Standing Forward Fold) is a standing pose. From Tadasana (Mountain Pose) inhale and raise your arms up alongside your ears. Exhale and fold forward from the hip, keeping the spine long, as the crown of head lowers to the floor. If your hamstrings are tight, keep a bend in the knee to avoid rounding in the spine. This pose diminishes insomnia through the therapeutic properties of inversion.

Sukhasana

Sukhasana (a.k.a. Easy Pose) is a seated pose. Sit on the ground or a block. Adjust your seat height so that your hips are higher than your knees. Cross the legs at the shin, knees wide apart, heels of the feet are tucked under the opposite leg. Rest your hands, either palms up or down, on your legs. Sit up well, with a tall spine. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, drawing long, controlled inhales into and out of your nose. Stay seated in this pose for up to 5 minutes. The act of taking time to sit and solely focus on breath cultivates a high level of mental clarity.

If you’re experiencing sleepless nights, try one of these poses right before you lay down to sleep tonight. If it works for you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a note below in the comments section.

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