Many of us work hard to plan for our future, putting away money for retirement, making investments, and dreaming of all the things we will do when we retire. We forget that the most critical investment to make, to enjoy life now and in retirement is the personal investment in our health. Whether you are in your 20’s or in your 60’s, do not wait to start a good relationship with your body. Most of us treat our bodies unkindly. We are forcing it to work when it’s tired, feeding it harmful substances, and not providing adequate care and attention. How is your relationship with your body? Would your body leave you if it could? No matter how abusive we are to our bodies, it endlessly protects us and tries to repair all the damage we cause.
Let’s start caring for are bodies, supporting our natural defense system
And give our body what it needs to repair and rejuvenate!
The first thing we do when we are born is take a deep breath and the last thing we do when we die is exhale. In between we forget how to breathe. Our breathing patterns change with environmental stressors, anxiety, and the wish to appear to have a flatter stomach than we actually do! We start breathing quick short breathes.
How should we be breathing? It is not something we generally think about. Let’s start with how many of us are running around “Rabbit breathing”. Rabbit breathing is quick shallow breathes. This type of breathing keeps your body in a constant state of stress.1To see if you are a shallow breather place one hand on belly, bellow your rib cage and exhale. Take a deep breath and see if your hand moves up and down with your belly. If your hand is barely rising you may want to learn how to breath again! Try to practice deep breathing techniques.Shallow breathing may cause our body to have a lowered immune response, suffer from panic attacks, have increased respiratory problems, and affect our cardiovascular health. Try to be focusing on taking deep breathes over the course of the day. Breathing deeply helps to decrease stress levels, relax your muscles, boost energy levels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure. 3 There are many Apps you can download to guide you through the proper breathing techniques like, Breethe, and Headspace.
Meditation should be easy, after all we are letting go, relaxing and breathing. But when you mention meditation many people tense up at the thought of sitting still in silence.
Relax, meditation comes in many forms. You can be painting, that is a form of meditation, walking through the woods, gazing at the stars, bird watching. Anything that makes our mind take a break from the habitual thinking, brings us back to relaxed breathing and living in the very moment we are in. There are also many apps, websites and youtube videos that can help you find a form of meditation that works for you.
Research indicates that just 10 minutes of meditation reduces the stress hormone cortisol, boosts our immune system and aids in reducing inflammatory markers.4 Creating a regular practice of meditation can also play a role in changing our brain. improvements in memory, attention and cognitive function were found due to increased grey matter in the hippocampus. Meditation also appeared to decrease stress and anxiety due to the decreased grey matter in the amygdala.5
Friendship actually has a healing affect on our bodies. Studies indicate that simply turning to a friend during stressful situations reduces stress hormones. On the other hand, being socially isolated seems to make us more susceptible to infections, higher rates of heart attacks, cancer and strokes!6Basically, isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes. 7
When having fun increases your life spans it’s a great thing! Laughter is known to decrease stress hormones, alleviate pain, increase immune cell function, trigger the release of endorphins, and protect cardiovascular health with increased blood flow and relaxed blood vessels. 8
‘A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.’
People that feel grateful and show appreciation have marked reduction in the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. They had better cardiac functioning and were more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences. Gratitude also appears to release toxic emotions.9 Toxic emotions affect our immune function and affect many areas of the body negatively. 10
Sleep is crucial to give our body time to rest, repair and recover from the day. 11 It also gives our brain time to detoxify. 12
Not getting adequate sleep every night is associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, infection, and poor mental health. 13
These are some important tops from the sleep foundation to improve sleep.
Try to go to bed at the same time each night.
Avoid caffeine for at least 3 to 7 hours before going to sleep
Eat dinner 2 hours before bedtime
Get exercise, but not before bed
Get out in fresh air and natural daylight 14
If sleep is still an issue, you may want to try starting with 2mg of Melatonin. Clinical trials show melatonin is highly effective for cases of insomnia. 15 The added bonus of Melatonin is that it also possesses anti-inflammatory effects! 16
As humans our bodies are made to walk, run, climb, and use a variety of our muscles every day. We were not made to be sitting at a computer or television every day. Muscles need to be used to maintain and improve strength.16
Merely taking a one-hour walk every day is found to reduce risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. Walking is also shown to improve memory and aid in preventing the deterioration of brain tissue. 17
It is not just the act of walking that is important here. Being outside in the fresh air and natural environments restore mental fatigue, improve mood and an overall sense of wellbeing. 18
If joint pain and discomfort prevent you from getting exercise, there are helpful antioxidants that aid in maintaining a healthy inflammatory response. Curcumin the bioactive substance in turmeric, appears to decrease pain concerning arthritis as well a general pain symptom.19 Boswellia, also an antioxidant, may provide significant improvements in pain.20
Millions of people die every year due to a diet lacking essential nutrients from whole foods. Billions of people are sick and overweight from eating a processed industrialized diet. Our health depends on eating antioxidant-rich foods 21
What you eat can actually reduce your body’s amount of damaged immune cells. It is essential to replace those damaged cells with new, vital immune cells!
It doesn’t have to get complicated, there are basic guidelines that can help us keep our body functioning optimally.22
Minimize sugar, artificial sweeteners, meats, and saturated fats.
Eat variety of vegetables, nuts, olive oil, Fish, beans and fruits.
Consume plenty of fiber both soluble and insoluble
Stay away from processed foods.
Incorporate immune boosting herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, trumeric, rosemary, chili pepper and oregano. 23
Supplementation has become necessary due to a decline of nutrients in our crops. 24
You may want to discuss several supplements with your health care provider to ensure you are getting adequate essential vitamins and minerals.
Emerging scientific research is revealing the importance of nutrients. They are essential for our biochemistry and metabolism to function optimally. This research indicates large-scale deficiencies of nutrients in our population, including omega-3 fats, vitamin D, folate, zinc, magnesium, and iron. 25
There are proven benefits to eating meals within a 10-hour window and fasting for the remaining 14 hours. It has been found that the body is better able to stabilize its metabolism and support immune function.
When we go without eating, it triggers something called autography. During autophagy, the body clears our damaged cells—unused proteins and any other waste that needs to be detoxified. Autophagy also helps deliver nutrients to cells. 26 If we do not detoxify damaged particles, they may accumulate in the cells, causing cell death, age related diseases, and poor organ function. Affecting how long we live and the quality of our life. 27
Modern science has discovered that virtually all personal health problems arise from various dysfunctions of the immune system 28
Although everyone has a unique body and lifestyle the general guidelines above will help you support the team defending you every minute of every day!
You may want to speak to your health care provider about incorporating these supplements advised by the functional medicine approach.29
Alpha lipoic acid
“Kindness is crucial to our society and to our survival”
Lastly but not least be kind to your self and be kind to others. In case you need a reason other than the obvious, especially in these times when everyone may be feeling lonely, I’ll give you a few!
People who volunteer experience fewer aches and pains, people 55 and older that actively volunteer have a 44% lower likelihood of dying early. This practice has a stronger affect than exercising four times a week!
Studies reveal that when we are kind to others the pleasure center of our brain lights up. We feel energized, less depressed and calmer.
When we witness acts of kindness, we produce oxytocin the “love hormone” this aids in lowering blood pressure and improving heart health
- 18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28850308/
- https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/06/19/616098095/as-carbon-dioxide-levels-rise- major-crops-are-losing-nutrients
- https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-train-your-immune-system-from-functional- medicine-expert