Blog posts of '2019' 'December'

by Nancy T. Angelini, LMT, Clinical Herbalist

If you’re an exercise enthusiast, then getting into motion is second nature to you. It takes little effort to throw on your sneakers and gym togs and work up a sweat. For those who experience exercise intolerance from a heart condition or feel worse after exercise, then this information might be better suited to your situation.

It is “in plain view” to extol the evidence-based health benefits of daily exercise, given the human body was designed to move every day. For those who feel worse after they exercise and complain that it takes them days to recover, hearing about a high intensity exercise program may engender feelings of anxiety. Exercise can reduce symptoms of mild depression, but if you have mild depression it might feel nearly impossible to overcome the initial inertia in order to apply the medicine of exercise. You may have had an injury or surgery and still find yourself uncomfortable even after the obligatory physical therapy, which started the process of some movement, but insurance ran out before you were completely rehabilitated.

Take Your Medicine

There are real reasons why people find themselves loathing exercise. However, finding a safe and effective way around whatever is limiting you moving your body every day is the first and most important step in taking the medicine of exercise.

Examine and identify what is limiting you from moving your body. Is it your emotions? Then assign a friend who will encourage you gently to get up and walk around the house and maybe go up and down the stairs once or twice a day. That’s exercise. The mental and emotional roadblocks can be as difficult to overcome as pain or other physical shortcomings. Walking is one of the best movements we can engage in. Getting outside for a walk is even better for your entire being. If the weather is poor, you can walk around the mall and this is still counted as beneficial exercise.

Begin Slowly

Do you feel worse after a workout? Then start with just 10 minutes of gentle movement, such as walking, Tai Chi or Yoga. Stay at 10 minutes for a week and then increase to 15 minutes. As you age, it is important to remember that you need to rebuild your tolerance to exercise slowly and in small stages. Add five to ten minutes on a weekly basis. You will feel better overall, and your body will adjust its tolerance to the level of exercise gradually and without too much discomfort. After you work up to sustaining 30 minutes of continuous movement, then you can start to increase the intensity of the movement — or not — if you are enjoying yourself and are experiencing benefits.

Is it that you experience pain and limitation in your joints or muscles as soon as you start to exercise? One of the best ways to exercise while managing body pain is to take a walk in a pool. Being and moving in water is miraculous for those who have chronic, intractable soft tissue or joint pain. If a water class is currently beyond your ability, it is worth asking if you can hang out in the back of the class (in the pool) and just walk or move your arms for 10, 15 or 20 minutes. The water will act like a gentle massage and the buoyancy will take pressure off tender joints.

Don’t Overdo It

Believe it or not, pain from exercise causes the wrong kind of stress to your body, especially if you are over 30 years of age. Make sure you do not overdo it during your first week getting back into motion. This is a very important part of bringing exercise back into your life. If you have too much post exercise discomfort or fatigue, your nervous system, especially the part of your brain called the Amygdala, will register that whatever you are doing is not good for you. This can sabotage all your efforts. Stay comfortable for the first month to six weeks and your central nervous system will stay calm and not inhibit the continuation of your new-found movement program.

The reintegration of movement and exercise into your daily life can have wonderful benefits. Daily exercise can support healthy emotions, brain function such as memory and cognition, functional movement assisting in performing daily activities of living, cardiovascular and respiratory maintenance, as well as being a source of pleasure.

Take it easy and integrate this marvelous medicine, one day at a time, for long-term health and enjoyment.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Mark J. Kaylor

‘Tis the season — celebrations and feasts abound from Thanksgiving all the way through to New Years. But all these festivities often come at a cost. Overindulging, especially of the foods popular this time of the season, can lead to weight gain and blood sugar swings. All the demands and expectations often result in heightened stress levels and even depression. Not only this, but heart attacks are at their highest this time of year as well. What’s a person to do? We all want to take part in this holiday season that is meant to be filled with gratitude, giving, joy, celebration and togetherness; for far too many though, it isn’t. So without turning into some kind of Scrooge, we need to keep in mind that health doesn’t take a holiday, neither does sickness. And the last thing we want is to spend the holidays sick in bed battling a cold or flu.

To help us enjoy the holidays while maintaining our health, there is help from an unexpected group of healing allies, namely medicinal mushrooms — not something we normally associate with this time of year, but maybe we should. These four natural remedies, Maitake D-Fraction, SX-Fraction, Reishi and Cordyceps, are just what the “natural” doctor ordered.

The immune-disturbing combination of too many sweets and carbohydrates, insufficient sleep, travel, and holiday stress can put such a strain on our health that colds and flu often show up. To hopefully prevent this disrupting duo from appearing, we can kick in our immune system’s functions with the Maitake D-Fraction. This extract of the Maitake mushroom has demonstrated potent immune activating benefits including increasing the numbers and activity of immune cells while also improving communication and overall function of the immune system, maximizing our body’s natural defenses.

Hand-in-hand with optimizing immune health is supporting healthy metabolism. A leading disruptor of this is blood sugar imbalances. Here again, the Maitake mushroom can be a useful ally in the form of the SX-Fraction. Laboratory and clinical studies have confirmed the SX-Fraction’s ability to effectively balance healthy blood sugar and insulin levels, including three clinical studies with Type-2 diabetics. There was even one study that compared the blood sugar and insulin activity of Maitake with a leading pharmaceutical and found that it worked more quickly and effectively than the drug. The evidence suggests that its mechanism of action is by improving cells response to insulin. This was seen in the research in SX-Fraction’s lowering of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

A Tonic Holiday

Two ancient tonic remedies, Reishi and Cordyceps, also bring valuable support. We all have some familiarity with the stress, immune strains, lack of sleep, tension and anxiety, along with the need to detoxify the excesses of the season. For this, we have what I would call the “tonic for the holiday season.” Reishi can help us with all these issues and more. Being a digestive bitter, it can stimulate digestion and even help manage blood sugar spikes.

Cordyceps is my remedy of choice for the New Year. An all-around whole body tonic that strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, especially important over the winter, Cordyceps helps develop and encourage motivation and drive, just the energies we need going into a New Year; and maybe just the boost our New Year resolutions needs.

Put That Fork Down

For many of us, the four main food groups over the holidays are cookies, pies, candy and booze. And while the average weight gain over this time is only a couple of pounds, the problem is that this extra weight tends to stay around as well as accumulate. That means after only 10 years, we may now carry an additional 20 pounds, enough to make weight a health issue. So to help us out, here are a few food-related tips to help you maintain your weight.

1)  Think of maintenance; do not try to diet over the holidays.

2)  Eat a hearty, healthy breakfast.

3)  To keep the overeating in line, try drinking a couple glasses of water and/or have a salad first.

4)  Eat mindfully. Savor and enjoy each plate.

5)  Don’t starve yourself leading up to the “big” meal.

6) Get sneaky; “healthy-up” those traditional dishes with something good for you. Try cauliflower in your mashed potatoes.

7)  Try focusing on your family and friends, rather than food.

8)  If none of this is helping to control your eating, break out the skinny clothes, once you start struggling to stay in them, you’ll probably stop overeating.

Overdoing the Holiday Hooch?

This time of year, especially New Year’s, often brings with it overindulgence in alcohol with the dreaded “day after” results — hangovers. Is there any hope of relief or prevention? Yes. But first, let’s be clear — if you really want to avoid a hangover, the guaranteed cure is simply not to drink. OK, so let’s say you do decide to drink, here are some tips.

First though, we should mention a few natural remedies that may be of help...

1)  Reishi again jumps out because it can help protect the liver (which is charged with dealing with all the alcohol), as well as rejuvenate it. The liver herb Milk Thistle also makes sense for these same reasons. Prickly Pear extract, if consumed a few hours before hitting the bottle, was shown to decrease the risk of a bad hangover by 50%.

2)  Water is your friend before, during, after, and the next morning. For every two alcohol beverages, drink one glass of water.

3)  If you are drinking, clear booze is the “hangover safer” choice.

4)  A few teas to consider are Green tea with its EGCG stimulates detoxification pathways while Ginger and Peppermint can help with nausea.

5)  Chug some Sprite. A study found it helped the body metabolize alcohol better.

6)  Odd but true; eat some asparagus. It was found to protect liver cells while speeding the breakdown of alcohol.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Keep in mind, it’s the holidays! They only come once a year. Some indulging is fine, just keep the operative word “some” in mind and be careful not to make these indulgences habits. Make family, friends, maybe even a stranger or two your focus. Be thankful…enjoy…and stay healthy.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]