3 Steps to a Healthy Gut

Gut health?  What is this microbiome?  Your microbiome is what can help or hurt your weight loss efforts, boost or bust your immune system, or can make digesting your lunch a pleasant or painful experience.  Humans host trillions of tiny bacteria, viruses, fungi and other thriving microbes all over our bodies.  You’ll find these on your skin, inside your mouth, and mostly in your large intestine.

Yes this is a good thing!

Healthy Gut

Our bodies need thriving colonies of these good bacteria to reach our optimal health.  We know that a healthy gut, also called your microbiome, can influence much more than just digestion. It greatly affects the immune system, autoimmunity, obesity, allergies, asthma and even anxiety, depression and moods (1,2).  In fact, 80% of your immune system is in your gut, so let’s make sure our gut health is up to par!

How can I improve my gut health and microbiome? (more…)

3 Easy Ways to Heal Chakras with Essential Oil

The chakra system is made up of seven energy centers that contribute to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. When one or more chakras is energetically depleted, the whole system can become weakened and compromised.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to strengthen and balance your energy! One of the most effective methods, for instance, is incorporating essential oils into your health routine.

Chakras

(more…)

Reflexology is Much More Than Just a Foot Massage

Most know reflexology as just a form of a relaxing foot massage. However, the applied technique of reflexology has an unlimited amount of health benefits that go far beyond a day at the spa.

Reflexology is the method of stimulating predefined pressure points on the feet that correspond to organs in the body. By pressing and massaging these points, energy begins to flow freely into the organs, easing discomfort and allowing the body to utilize its natural energy system to promote healing.

footmassage
One of the most well known benefits of using reflexology is that it promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety, which is a great place to start when looking at mind and body health. There has even been scientific research using EEGs, a test that tracks and records electrical activity in the brain, which showed evidence in alpha and theta waves slowing to a more relaxed state during a treatment which lead to a decrease in blood pressure and overall symptoms of stress and anxiety. (more…)

How to Say Goodbye to Stress

Unfortunately, life today is stressful but it doesn’t need to be if you learn some key ways to manage it or train yourself to respond to it in a more positive light.

The first thing you need to do is to take action and not let small issues turn into big mountains. In other words, reorganize your lifestyle.

fitness jump

The following is a guideline that will help you to say goodbye to your stress. (more…)

Q & A: How Sleep Affects Your Health

Let’s talk a bit about sleep and its effect on your well being.

how sleep affects your healthWith our busy, modern lives, sleep can sometimes seem like a luxury. Yet possibly one of the most overlooked areas of your health and well being is how much sleep you get per night.

Sleep plays a vital role in your overall health: just like food and water, your body needs it to survive. Your mental health, physical health, and even your safety are all affected by how much sleep you get each night. The negative impacts of sleep deficiency can be both immediate and long term.

For example, a lack of sleep can cause you to feel groggy at the wheel, increasing your chances of a car accident. Studies also show that chronic sleep deficiency can increase the risk of long-term health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.1

People may lack sleep because of work schedules, or because of sleep disorders and other underlying health issues. If you find that you aren’t getting enough rest at night, take steps to improve your quality of sleep and find out what could be causing your sleep troubles. One thing is certain: if you want to improve your mental and physical health and quality of life, you need sufficient, restful sleep.

Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers that people generally have regarding sleep issues:

Q:
I’m having trouble sleeping lately. Does this increase my chances of getting sick?

A:
Sleep is absolutely important for good health, and studies show that a lack of sleep can lower your defenses against sickness. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participants who averaged less than 7 hours of sleep per night were three times more likely to develop symptoms of the common cold after exposure to the rhinovirus than those who averaged more than 8 hours of sleep per night.2

Q:
What if there’s no time for sleep? What can people do to sleep better?

A:
There’s no easy way around this: sleep is a necessity. Sleep provides your body with the opportunity to restore itself – tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis are important functions that occur almost exclusively while you are asleep!3

Sticking to a routine can help ensure that you leave enough time in your day for enough sleep. Make sure that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – a consistent schedule can help to maintain your body’s sleep cycles and promote restful sleep at night. Coming up with a nightly routine to relax before you hit the hay can also help you to sleep better. Some soothing activities to consider include reading, practicing deep breathing, using relaxing essential oils, listening to calming music, or taking a warm bath. Try to avoid using your smartphone or TV before going to bed, as there is research that suggests that screen time can interfere with your Zzzzz’s! A recent pediatric study found that sleeping near screens or with a TV in the room was associated with shorter sleep durations and less restful sleep.4

Q:
Should we avoid napping?

A:
Long naps during the day are thought to affect how you sleep at night. However, new emerging research suggests that planning for short naps (10-30 minutes in duration) could be the best way to combat daytime sleepiness! A 2008 study done by British researchers found that naps were more effective than both consuming caffeine and getting additional nighttime sleep for combating a mid-afternoon “hump” of sleepiness. Try to avoid longer naps, which can lead to daytime grogginess.5

Of course, this recommendation goes for adults – young children still need varying amounts of daytime sleep in order to thrive.

Q:
How much sleep do children need?

A:
In general, no matter what the age, children do need a great deal of sleep. Sleep is particularly important in children because of its effect on growth and development. The deep sleep that children achieve at night triggers the release of hormones that promote growth, increase muscle growth, and repair cells and body tissues.1

There are different recommendations for the amount of sleep that children need based upon age. Here is a snapshot of the amount of sleep needed per day (including naps in young children!):

  • Newborn babies (infants up to 6 months of age) do not yet have internal clocks. They sleep up to 18 hours per day (both during the day and at night!)
  • Babies between 6 months of age and 1 year need an average of 14 hours of sleep per day, with 2-3 naps included. Naps usually last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours each.
  • Toddlers (ages 1 -3) sleep about 12-14 hours per day, including naps.
    Preschoolers (ages 3-5) sleep an average of 11-12 hours per night, and may need a nap if they do not get this amount at night.
  • Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night.6

Q:
How much sleep does the average person need?

A:
The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while older adults need 7-8 hours.7

Q:
What are some ways to get a better night’s sleep?

A:
First, and most importantly, you must make sleep a priority – schedule enough time for sleep like you would do with any other activity. Pay attention to your sleep habits and how you feel in the morning. Here are a few things you can do to improve your sleep at night:

  • Stick to a schedule, even on holidays and weekends.
  • Have a relaxing nighttime routine, such as reading or listening to relaxing music. Avoid using electronic devices for at least one hour prior to sleep.
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment – look at temperature, sound, and light. Strive for a quiet, cool, dark bedroom for deep restful sleep!
  • Ensure that your mattress and pillows are comfortable.7

Q: How do you know if you are under-slept?

A:
Aside from feelings of sleepiness or grogginess during the day, there are other signs of sleep deficiency. Mood swings and irritability, lack of motivation, anxiety and depression, performance problems, lack of concentration, lack of coordination, lack of energy, poor decisions, increased errors, and forgetfulness are some of the effects that a lack of sleep can have on your wellbeing.4

The bottom line is this: No matter how old you are, or what shape you’re in, quality sleep can dramatically CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sources:

1″Why Is Sleep Important?” NHLBI, NIH. US Department of Health & Human Services, 22 Feb. 2012. Web.

2Cohen, Sheldon, William J. Doyle, Cuneyt M. Alper, Denise Janicki-Deverts, and Ronald B. Turner. “Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.” Arch Intern Med Archives of Internal Medicine 169.1 (2009): 62. Web.

3″Sleep and Health.” Sleep and Health. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, 16 Jan. 2008. Web.

4 Falbe, J., K. K. Davison, R. L. Franckle, C. Ganter, S. L. Gortmaker, L. Smith, T. Land, and E. M. Taveras. “Sleep Duration, Restfulness, and Screens in the Sleep Environment.” Pediatrics 135.2 (2015): n. pag. Web.

5″Napping May Not Be Such a No-no – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health. Harvard Health Publications, 1 Nov. 2009. Web.

6Gupta, Rupal Christine, MD. “All About Sleep.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, Nov. 2014. Web.

7″How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web.

Hot Chocolate

A yummy treat that will satisfy your chocolate cravings but is still healthy with loads of goodness!  Depending on what additional ingredients you add, you can turn this into a mighty warming and energizing drink. My kids love it when I make them this recipe! They prefer a thicker consistency but if you like a less creamy version then add more water. I like to add extra fiber, healthy fats, ayurvedic herbs and spices to mine. Don’t be afraid to get creative!! Play around adding a handful of spinach, some avocado or extra cacao…..whatever suits your taste buds. I do not add any sugar but for a sweeter taste try adding monk fruit sweetner or a little stevia.

Ingredient Amount
Hot Water

12

oz

Raw Cacao Powder

3

tbsp

Pure Vanilla Extract

1

tsp

Cashews

1/4

cup

Pitted Dates

4

—-

Chia Seeds

2

tbsp

Sea Salt

1

pinch    

 

Instructions

1.Heat 12 oz of  water (for a thicker consistency use less water)
2.Pour water into a blender.
3.Add in the cacao, vanilla, cashews, dates, and chia seeds.
4.Fully blend all the ingredients.
5.Enjoy!

Relax and Restore with Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose

Ready to add an easy yoga pose that is beyond rejuvenating? Legs-Up-the-Wall it is! You can use various props and modifications in this pose but I will stick with the basic. I’d be happy to provide more information or details for those interested, leave a comment or email me. This pose has many health benefits but I will list 7 here:

1. Lymphatic drainage of the lower extremities, reducing edema or swelling in the feet and legs.

2.Boosts blood flow toward the upper body nourishing very important organs such as the brain

4.May help to regulate blood pressure

5.Calming and Relaxing to the Mind

6.Can help alleviate headaches

7.Wonderful for relieving menstrual cramps

Start by sitting sideways with your shoulder, and hip against the wall, exhale and turn your torso towards the wall as you swing your legs up onto the wall in one motion lowering your shoulders, head and back onto the floor. Let your legs and thighs come flush against the wall as you keep your legs completely vertical against the wall. You may need to shift side-side and scoot your buttocks to get flush or as close to the wall as possible. Let your arms rest at your sides with palms facing up. Invite your eyes to close and begin to relax into the pose. Let your shoulders, hips and lower back release any tension. You can stay in this pose up to 20 minutes but for beginners start with less time and make sure you have clearance from your Doctor especially if you have glaucoma or other eye problems, serious back or neck injuries or for women during menses or pregnancy. This pose is meant to feel good! If you experience any discomfort or  feel prickling or numbness in your legs, come out of the pose slowly. When you are ready to come out of the pose, bend your knees as you slide your feet down and bring the bottom of your feet together. Rest here for a minute or when you are ready slowly bring your knees together and turn on your side. Use your hands to press yourself up slowly into a seated position.

5 Keys to a Healthier and Happier 2016!

As we start the new year, we often set our new year’s resolutions with complicated goals and hopes that this year will be the year we focus on our health. What if I told you that improved health can come from 5 easy, uncomplicated steps….some of which we’ve heard before. Although we may not realize the true benefits, these steps are some of the keys to better health! No gym equipment or special shoes required.

  1. Breathe! We often live hurried lives and the first thing to hurry is our breath. Slow it down. Take a few breaks throughout the day to check-in with your breath. Are you breathing so fast that the air can’t even make it down to fully fill your lungs? Or, are you holding your breath when you are feeling stressed without even noticing it? Try taking a deep breath that fully fills you. Let your lower abdomen expand as it fills with fresh breath and then pause for a count of 2 before letting your breath out through your nose. If it helps, place your hands below your belly button to feel your lower abdomen expanding as you breathe in and flattening as you exhale. Deep breathing can switch on our parasympathetic nervous system. This in turn, elicits a relaxation response in our bodies which is when our bodies go into healing and repair mode. Practice so that it becomes your norm. This is how we were born breathing but without knowing switch to chest breathing which actually strains your muscles and can cause shoulder and neck pain from overusing smaller accessory muscles. Go back to the baby days. Breathing deeply, using your belly instead of your chest. Start now!
  2. Drink more Water. Most people are walking around in a dehydrated state. One of the easiest ways to meet your daily water intake is to start the morning with a few glasses of water. During the night, we tend to become dehydrated so waking and replenishing our fluids is vital. Consider drinking half of your body weight in ounces. If you exercise, sweat, drink caffeine, take certain medications or breast-feed, you may need to increase to more than half of your body weight in ounces. Try filtered water like Reverse Osmosis for clean water without toxins or chemicals.
  3. Get enough Sleep. “Yeah, yeah” I  hear you saying…. but it’s true! Getting enough sleep is directly linked to a healthier body and mind. When we sleep our body restores and our cells become rejuvenated, our mind reboots and clears out the junk. Better sleep not only helps your energy levels but can help your mood as well as your weight. Aim for at least 8 hrs a night and note how you feel. Some need more than 8 hrs, particularly children.
  4. Laugh and Connect. Research shows a direct link between laughter and the increase of happy hormones in our bodies. Want to feel happier and healthier, find ways to connect with others and better yet…find ways to connect with others and laugh with them! Ha!
  5. Eat whole foods. Don’t have time to cook. No problem. Chop up some veggies and have a salad. Wash and peel some fruit. I’m not saying that we should omit some cooked meals, I’m just saying that the old excuse that we need to go drive-thru because we don’t have food and are in a rush won’t cut it anymore! Pack or buy a salad, grab some nuts, veggies or fruit and bring along for those moments of hunger. Consider using your slow-cooker to make healthy meals without having to stand by the stove-top all day. Plan and cook a few meals on Sunday or whatever day you can spare extra time and pack those foods for the week. Use organic whenever possible. Reduce the use of anything that comes in a box or has a label. Like I tell my boys, “If it grows on the soil or a tree it’s probably great!”

Of course, I can think of a few more keys that would be great additions to a healthier and happier year…like exercising (using gym equipment or special shoes 😉 ) but start with these 5 keys for now and after these are a habit, let’s add on some more. To your happiest & best health!