WELLNESS-For years I told a story of illness, depression, and suffering. It wasn’t entirely my fault since my chronic sickness began when I was a child so it was all that I knew at the time. My story involved asthma, earaches, allergies, and just a general malaise about life. I was often drugged with cough medicine and antibiotics so that I could heal what was ailing me but ironically, it was doing more harm than good. My pain story also involved being bullied and taunted from as far back as I can remember. Not the best story to tell but it was the only one that I knew at the time.
We all have stories to tell. Some of us love to get into the nitty gritty detail of how hard life has been for us. Others tell a lighter, more empowering tale. Our ability to develop and hash out the storyline comes from years of planning, experiencing, and developing the various characters and dramas along the way.
If we want a different life experience, we MUST tell a different story! Most likely, that plotline we’ve been reciting since youth no longer serves us. In fact, by telling the same story over and over again, we are perpetuating duplicative experiences and challenges that we have already lived out. Maybe it’s time to tell a new story.
Sometimes we begin slowly. For me, I started to realize early on that my story of illness was no longer serving me and that I deserved to feel better. I began to research, experiment with my body, and find experts who could help me along the journey towards healing.
While all of this was vital to my growth, the very first step was to become conscious of the story that I was telling and then slowly, make changes to my script.
Initially, it was very difficult because it’s much easier to fall into old habits, patterns and ways of being. Sometimes it’s actually more comforting to suffer than to thrive I learned.
But as we begin to catch our thoughts, ask ourselves if those very thoughts are serving us, and then replace them with more positive and loving thoughts, we gradually begin to shift and we start to re-write the storyline of our life. We begin to get vocal about our new and improved health, the wonderful opportunities that are coming our way, and all that we have to be grateful for. We start to verbalize all that we want to become even before it shows up in physical form because we now realize that in order to achieve all that we desire, we must believe it before we see it.
I understand that it can be fun to complain to friends and tell a story that makes us look and feel like a victim. Somehow there is comfort in sharing our pain with others. But perhaps it’s time to tell a completely different story, one of openness, positivity, and fulfillment. We are in charge of the words that go down on paper, nobody else. Who would you be if you began reinventing yourself and thriving? What would your life look and feel like if you were to become the person that you most admire? Maybe, just maybe it’s time to tell a different story.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--Bribery. Conspiracy. Racketeering.
Those are just three of the accusations that federal prosecutors leveled against two Alabama physicians in April as part of a 22-count criminal indictment ― alleging that Drs. John Couch and Xiulu Ruan ran an opioid pill mill in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company.
Couch and Ruan were arrested in 2015 after prescribing Medicare patients a combined $4.9 million in Subsys ― a potent form of fentanyl, taken via mouth spray and designed to treat severe cancer pain ― between 2013 and 2014.
Some of those prescriptions were “diverted and/or abused by drug traffickers and addicts,” prosecutors say, and may have contributed to the opioid crisis currently gripping the nation.
Couch and Ruan deny the allegations.
A third doctor, Michigan neurologist Dr. Gavin Awerbuch, pleaded guilty in November to health care fraud and to prescribing Subsys without a legitimate medical purpose. Awerbuch prescribed more Subsys than any other dispenser in the country, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Couch, Ruan and Awerbuch’s alleged misdeeds signify more than a few rogue doctors attempting to turn a profit at the expense of patient health. The accusations against the physicians are part of a larger story about America’s insidious fentanyl problem and the doctors and pharmaceutical companies who’ve fueled it.
Many Americans first heard of fentanyl last year, when the singer Prince died after accidentally overdosing on the drug. Officials found pills in the pop icon’s home that were labeled as hydrocodone. Upon testing, it turned out these pills contained fentanyl. (It’s not clear whether the pills were mislabeled or illegally produced, or whether Prince even knew they contained fentanyl.)
But fentanyl has been a growing presence in the U.S. for some time now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of drug products seized by law enforcement that contained fentanyl increased by 426 percent between 2013 and 2014, and synthetic opioid overdose deaths rose by nearly 80 percent in that period.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that doctors typically prescribe to chronic pain patients, like those with end-stage cancer, as an injection, a patch or a lollipop. It has a high potential for abuse and can be fatal even in small amounts.
Because it induces extreme relaxation and euphoria, fentanyl is also sold on the black market. And since fentanyl is cheap, it’s frequently mixed with more-expensive heroin or cocaine, something users aren’t always aware of when they buy it.
Fentanyl is “not a joke,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, president of the American Pain Association, told The Huffington Post. “It’s 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s really lethal.”
Now, a HuffPost analysis of available state-by-state data on synthetic opioid and fentanyl deaths and fentanyl seizures by law enforcement illustrates a troubling trend: Synthetic opioid overdose deaths driven by fentanyl, one of the strongest opioids on the market, are rising.
These data highlight pockets of the United States ― the Eastern Seaboard and Appalachia in particular ― where fentanyl seizures and overdose deaths indicate a rapidly evolving problem that law enforcement and science aren’t keeping up with.
“We have not peaked yet,” said Dr. Peter Friedmann, associate dean for research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and chief research officer at the nonprofit Baystate Health.
“It’s going to be a big issue over the next couple of years,” said Friedmann, who has spent more than two decades studying substance abuse and addiction treatments. “I really think that the policy hasn’t caught up to the pharmacology.”
The rise of fentanyl
Although reports of fentanyl abuse date back to the 1970s, the current crisis has roots in the 1990s movement to end chronic pain.
It grew out of a series of compounding missteps. Pharmaceutical companies aggressively marketed opioids to doctors as safe and non-addictive during a period when those same doctors were under pressure to eliminate patient pain. The logical answer seemed to be to write more pain-pill prescriptions.
By 2003, 20 percent of 20- to 25-year-olds were abusing painkillers, compared to 7 percent of early-20-somethings a decade earlier, according to The New York Times. When the government restricted opioid prescriptions and cracked down on so-called “pill mills,” addicted patients turned to a cheaper and prescription-free alternative: heroin.
It’s a well-trod path. Forty percent of injection drug users abused prescription opioids before they tried heroin, according to a small study published in the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation in 2011.
Fentanyl is just the latest iteration of cheap and potent synthetic opioids. (In fact, authorities are battling an even newer synthetic drug, known as U-47700, in several states.)
Other fentanyl analogues include sufentanil, which is approximately eight times more potent than fentanyl, and carfentanil, which is about 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
Carfentanil is “used for tranquilizing elephants,” Friedmann said, noting that overdoses tend to happen when there’s a mismatch between a person’s tolerance level and the potency of the opiate they use.
When the government restricted opioid prescriptions and cracked down on so-called “pill mills,” addicted patients turned to a cheaper and prescription-free alternative: heroin.
In addition to prescription fentanyl, Mexican cartels smuggle black-market fentanyl across the border, and Chinese suppliers sell both the drug and the equipment to make it online.
“We have seen an influx of fentanyl directly from China,” Carole Rendon, now the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, told the health news site Stat last year. “It’s being shipped by carrier. It’s hugely concerning.”
It used to be that shutting down a major production site would help curb fatal overdoses. When fentanyl-related deaths surged in 2007, for example, the Drug Enforcement Administration traced the outbreak to a single site in Mexico. They shuttered the lab and the deaths stopped. Today, with decentralized units popping up around the country, it’s harder for law enforcement agents to crack down.
The cheapest and deadliest of drugs
Part of what’s driving this public health crisis is that fentanyl is almost unthinkably potent. Patients with fentanyl prescriptions have overdosed even when they took the medication exactly as prescribed. DEA agents in St. Louis are learning to self-administer overdose reversal drugs in case they’re exposed in the line of duty. There’s a good reason officers are taking precautions: A speck of fentanyl the size of a few grains of salt can kill a 250-pound man, according to The Associated Press.
Fentanyl’s potency means that the overdose reversal drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is less effective at reviving fentanyl overdose victims. A person overdosing on fentanyl could need twice as much naloxone to recover as a person overdosing on heroin ― and if the emergency responder doesn’t know which drug the person took, they might not administer enough medication to save them.
When Cathy Messina found her 21-year-old son David overdosing on her bathroom floor in 2014, she prayed her 911 call would bring first responders who could save her son. What she didn’t know at the time was that the batch of heroin her son overdosed on ― which came in a package stamped with the label “Bad News” ― was laced with fentanyl. David was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Messina isn’t sure whether David knew his heroin was cut. He may have wanted a better high than pure heroin could provide. Or he, like many drug users, simply may not have known that “Bad News” heroin contained fentanyl. Some dealers mix the cheap and powerful drug with heroin to improve their profit margins, and may or may not tell customers that their product is cut. Other dealers may be too far down the supply chain to know if the heroin they’re selling is tainted.
“Clandestine fentanyl is available throughout the United States, most commonly in the white-powder heroin market,” Melvin Patterson, an agent with the DEA, told U.S. News & World Report last year. “Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or is mixed with and sold as fentanyl or disguised as highly potent heroin.”
“It’s all about money,” Friedmann said. “Back in the day, dealers didn’t want to kill their clients. You want them to be repeat customers. But now, there are just so many people that they just don’t care.”
Tracking fentanyl east of the Mississippi
Simultaneous growth in synthetic opioid and fentanyl overdose death rates in the East suggests that fentanyl is fueling the region’s epidemic of opioid overdose.
Between 2014 and 2015, 15 states and Washington, D.C., reported at least a 50 percent increase in their synthetic opioid death rates. The areas in question were all east of the Mississippi River. The fentanyl death rate surged in the East that same period ― New Hampshire, for example, saw a 95 percent increase in its fentanyl-related death rate between 2014 and 2015, nearly double the 2015 figures of any other state.
In New England and Appalachia, law enforcement reported more fentanyl seizures than anywhere else in 2014, with Ohio (1,245 seizures), Massachusetts (630) and Pennsylvania (419) in the top three fentanyl confiscation slots.
So far, only 18 states and D.C. have made available any 2015 data on fentanyl overdose deaths (three of those had less than a 50 percent increase in their synthetic opioid death rates between 2014 and 2015, so they are not included in the chart above). Those limited data aren’t encouraging. Massachusetts saw a 103 percent increase in fentanyl deaths between 2014 and 2015, and West Virginia recorded a 229 percent increase year over year. The CDC doesn’t release data on fentanyl-specific deaths by state, so these data come from statewide health departments or medical examiners, and are based only on cases where medical examiners actually test for the presence of fentanyl ― meaning these numbers may be undercounts.
Experts aren’t sure why fentanyl seizures and death rates have risen on the East Coast and in Appalachia more than in the West.
“It’s [a] really hard problem to say there’s one cause,” said Nancy Campbell, a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, who has published several books on drug policy and treatment.
“Many social, economic and political conditions would lead fentanyl to becoming available in these kind of places on [the] Eastern Seaboard,” Campbell said.
Some people start out using opioids to manage physical pain, Campbell said, but transition to using them for emotional reasons.
“They realize as they are using these pharmaceutical opioids, that they don’t just relieve pain from sports injuries or dental work,” Campbell said. “Their problems become less compelling.”
Deaths from fentanyl overdose are most highly concentrated among white men ages 25 to 54. And while heroin users once clustered around major trafficking hubs like New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles, today people living on the outskirts of large metro areas and in medium-sized cities are more likely to die from fentanyl overdose than people in metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, according to the CDC.
Potentially contributing to the East-West fentanyl discrepancy is the fact that white powder heroin is easier to cut with fentanyl than darker heroin, because the two light-colored drugs look so similar.
“The West Coast is really marked by a kind of heroin called black tar,” said Traci Green, an epidemiologist and deputy director of the Injury Prevention Center at Boston Medical Center. “On the East Coast we see a lot of white powder heroin, which looks disturbingly like fentanyl powder.”
Experienced heroin users may think they can distinguish fentanyl from heroin by color, smell or taste. But when mere grains of fentanyl can trigger an overdose, there’s no room for miscalculation.
“The margin of error is very small with fentanyl,” Green said.
The case of Ohio
“The moment we saw the first few cases of fentanyl coming across from the Department of Health, we did a deep dive,” said Andrea Boxill, deputy director of an opiate action team established by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R).
It seemed odd to Boxill and others that they were seeing fentanyl on the streets of Ohio but that there had only been a few reported deaths from the highly lethal drug. As it turned out, not all of the state’s coroners and medical examiners were testing for it.
Once they started testing, “we started seeing more numbers,” Boxill said.
Testing isn’t just a problem in Ohio. Synthetic opioids are evolving so rapidly that it’s hard for emergency rooms and forensics labs to keep pace. “Many of the emergency departments around the country don’t test for fentanyl,” Green said. If a lab hasn’t previously encountered fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue, the drug’s “fingerprint” probably isn’t in the lab’s database, and won’t show up on a toxicology or forensic report.
In Ohio, better testing indeed yielded higher overdose statistics. The state’s number of recorded overdose deaths hit a record high in 2015, with 3,050 people dying that year. Ohio officials cited fentanyl overdoses as the culprit.
The danger isn’t just that fentanyl is potent and deadly. It’s that the landscape of synthetic drug use is changing so quickly that law enforcement and science can’t keep up.
Boxill also noted that the shipping routes to and from several major drug-source areas ― including the Southwest border, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Atlanta and Canada ― go through Ohio. The state’s central location makes it especially vulnerable. “Ohio has the eighth-largest national highway system, which carries the seventh-highest volume of traffic in the nation, allowing drug transporters to blend in with the natural flow of traffic,” a 2011 Justice Department report notes.
States and emergency rooms that aren’t yet testing for fentanyl could be dealing with more of a problem than they realize.
“[High] level of testing isn’t necessarily coming to every emergency department and every forensic lab,” Green said. “We hope it’s getting to everybody. But the pace of change is exceptionally fast for the synthetic area.”
Jonathan Caulkins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who researches drug control strategies, made a similar observation.
“The pace of change may be even greater in the next decade,” he said. “I don’t just mean increasing use. I can imagine significant changes in types of opioids, source of supply, relations to crime and violence. It’s a fluid situation.”
In other words, the danger isn’t just that fentanyl is potent and deadly. It’s that the landscape of synthetic drug use is changing so quickly that law enforcement and science can’t keep up.
Rethinking addiction discrimination
Some authorities are beginning to push back. In July, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an unprecedented letter to 2.3 million health care professionals, asking them to commit to solving the country’s opioid epidemic.
In his letter, Murthy emphasized that doctors need to change how they prescribe opioids for pain. He also urged doctors to lead the way in reframing addiction as a chronic medical condition, not a moral failing. Murthy has authored a 400-page report, “Facing Addiction in America,” that outlines evidence-based treatments and advocates for prevention and treatment funding.
“We need everyone in our country to help change how we think about addiction,” he said. “For far too many people, the stigma around addiction prevents them from stepping forward for help.”
Murthy is calling for better access to medication as a way to treat both heroin addiction and prescription opioid addiction.
“What many people don’t realize is that these are scientifically proven treatment strategies, which help people live productive and fulfilling lives,” he said. “That’s why we have to make sure that those are accessible to more people.”
Although Friedmann thinks the surgeon general’s report is a positive step, he wishes it had come sooner.
“We’ve known that this is a problem ― this is a disease ― for some time,” he said. “I wish he would have [issued the report] years ago.”
Messina, for her part, is putting Murthy’s ideas into action in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where her son David overdosed. She educates the families and friends of people with substance use problems about overdose reversal drugs, and has worked to ensure that local police officers carry naloxone.
“People have to realize that this is a disease,” Messina said. “Yes, drugs are illegal, but everyone has to open up their minds and stop judging people.”
“I’m not ashamed of David,” she said. “I’m proud of him.”
CORRECTION: This article previously identified Dr. Sanjay Gupta, president of the American Pain Association, as the CNN correspondent of the same name. We regret the error.
(Erin Schumaker Senior Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post. This story is brought to you by The Huffington Post’s new health reporting project, The Scope. To read more stories like this one, follow us at email@example.com. Posted first at Huff Post.)
WELLNESS--I have been touting the power of Oregano for 20 years. A lovely woman who sat next to me at a seminar first introduced me to it. She could clearly see that I was suffering from a bad cold and suggested that I try Oil of Oregano. She went on to say that it had really changed her life.
Being the curious and open-minded health seeker that I am, and certainly not one to pass up on a synchronistic meeting, I picked some up on my lunch break. As per the directions, I used 3-5 drops under my tongue followed by some water. At first, I was slightly stunned by the powerful and pungent burn that this product brought on but I also noticed an immediate opening of my lungs, and a clearing of my sinuses.
I still look to that day and that woman as a true gift from the Universe. After all, I had suffered from allergies, earaches, asthma, and bronchitis frequently from childhood into my 30s and I figured that was just the “thing” that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life.
Prior to learning about Oregano Oil, I would struggle at least once per year with a chronic chest infection that were often very difficult to rid my body of. After Oil of Oregano, I have experienced only 3-4 bouts of upper respiratory infections in 20 years! And they were nowhere near as severe as they were prior to using this miracle herb. Sure I have also had some minor colds along the way but they were short lived in duration and less intense then before. Have I changed other things in my diet and lifestyle? Absolutely. But I can honestly say that without a doubt, the number one factor to my improved immunity is the regular use of Oil of Oregano.
Oregano Oil normally consists of pure, wild Oregano along with an oil carrier such as olive oil. Because of it’s high anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial properties, this mixture can also be use topically to fight off skin rashes and cold sores, and helps to alleviate everything from toothaches to sore muscles.
If you find yourself getting sick after taking a flight which many people do, bring a small bottle with you in your carry on bag on future trips. Airplanes are known to be full of airborne germs, and Oil of Oregano will help to boost your immunity, and ward off some of these bugs during a long flight. You may also mix 5-10 drops in your juice or water and drink it throughout the day.
As a general guide, to combat illness, begin using your oil twice daily for a number of days at the first signs of a possible infection such as a scratchy throat, stuffy sinuses, or cough. If you’re already suffering from a cold, or flu, use 5-10 drops under your tongue followed by water 2-3 times per day until your symptoms dissipate.
You may not always avoid illness completely nor would you want to, as it can be a way for our body to cleanse and detox naturally. But I am confident that you will reduce the intensity and duration of a future illness with nature’s miracle, Oil of Oregano!
*Oil of Oregano shouldn’t be used by pregnant women and as always, consult your physician before taking any supplements or herbs.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--Almost everybody gets excited about a New Year! That’s just the way it goes. Most of us feel optimistic and a renewed sense of faith that a brand New Year will be our best ever. That’s a fantastic outlook to have. The problem however, comes when we get 2, 3 or 6 months into the year and we haven’t followed through with all of our goals and resolutions. At that point, we begin to feel stuck and victimized by our old habits and negative cycles.
If this is you, you’re certainly not alone since it is estimated that almost 80% of Americans fail at achieving their resolutions. So why then is it that many of us can’t keep our resolutions?
Here are some helpful tips and solutions to keep you on track this coming year:
- Keep Your Goals Believable: We all want dramatic changes in one area or another. Whether we need to lose 100 pounds or we want to make that first million. And while I am all for having BIG dreams, keeping things believable is the key to achieving our vision. If you absolutely believe that you can lose 100 pounds then by all means make that your goal. But if you struggle with seeing and feeling what it’s like to be so thin, start with 25 pounds and then work your way up once you get there. Goals that are too large to handle will most likely be sabotaged.
- Write Them Down: If we have grand dreams and goals but we never write them down, they are simply floating around in our minds. When we not only write things down but also keep track of the steps we need to get us there, we create a precise statement of where we want to go and we can see concrete proof that we are moving towards those very dreams. Keeping a day-to-day journal and calendar helps us to break things down into manageable steps.
- Visualize: Many people have magical results when they keep a vision board or a vision book which features photos, images, cut-outs, and physical data that shows them what their dreams will look like. It may sound silly but if your goal is to get lean and toned, put a picture of your head onto a body that is athletic and fit. Stick an image of yourself into that sports car you’ve always wanted. If you’d like to manifest $5,000 then cut out copies of 50-$100 bills so that you can see exactly how that will look. The more specific you are, the better your results will be. I have seen unbelievable things happen for people who have taken these steps.
- It’s Okay to Change Your Mind: We’re human and we are entitled to change our minds. If you find yourself in March no longer desiring the things you wanted in January, then take them off your list or re-work them. Don’t let things you don’t want clutter your mind. Get clear on your intentions and be open to change along the way. Sometimes what we think we want isn’t really what we deeply desire on an emotional or spiritual level.
There is no doubt that with a new year comes a lot of change. Change is always inevitable. Sometimes they’re small, almost unnoticeable shifts while at other times they may take our breath away.
If you haven’t gotten specific with what you’d truly like in your life then chances are you’ll continue attracting what you’ve been getting. If you love all aspects of your life then keep doing what you’ve been doing. If on the other hand, you really desire transformation and newness, then get serious about allowing the life of your dreams in. Believe that your desires can come, keep track of your day-to-day goals that will get you to the outcome you’d like, visualize your dream life often, and know that’s it okay to change your mind along the way.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS—There’s no turning back. The Holidays are here. Stress less, is my advice for this harried … and hurried … season. Here’s how:
- Don’t force yourself to buy the perfect gift. For starters if you’re not sure if someone is going to buy you a gift or not, and you feel that if they do you want to return the favor, just ask! Call or text your friends and family and be direct. Ask if they were hoping to exchange gifts and suggest that if they are you just get each other something small. Avoiding big crowds and busy malls during this time of year is a great way to lower your stress and save time. The best gift you can give yourself right now is more down time.
- Continue to work out. It’s rather easy during this time of year to skip the workouts. One of the keys to managing stress and staying healthy during the winter is to continue to exercise. We don’t need those long intense workouts like we do in the summer when there is more light and warmth. A shorter work out where we simply get our heart rates up for 20 to 30 minutes and lift some light weights should do the trick to keep you slim and produce the healthy chemicals needed to manage stress.
- Don’t isolate. While it is always tempting for those of us that are single to say no to social events and parties, try to attend a healthy amount of events. This is obviously a subjective thing, but you know when you are isolating and staying home too much. The social anxiety of all the parties can seem overwhelming, and while knowing when to say no is crucial, spending time with people we love will help us stay happy during the holidays.
- Flip the script on the diet. Every year around the holidays the junk food and sugar is flowing. It’s a great time of year to practice your will and keep the junk food intake to a minimum or try to eliminate it all together. If we start working on saying no during the holidays, it will make us that much stronger and more likely to reach our health and wellness goals in 2017. I find that firming up my commitments to myself in the winter helps ensure that I am in great shape come spring and summer.
- Use common sense while driving. Regardless of the known dangers of driving under the influence, every year around the holidays more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents and arrested for DUI’s than any other time of year. Be sure to take a car service or have a dedicated driver when you attend parties and plan ahead so you don’t get stuck in a situation that you will regret later.
However you celebrate this season, I wish you happiness and GOOD HEALTH. My holiday gift to you is this advice: Adhere to my five tips. Stress less and enjoy this special time of the year.
WELLNESS--Life can be tough enough at times to have too many rules. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed. Who wants to live life like a game where we must constantly keep score and with numerous guidelines to follow? I certainly don’t.
The good news for those of you who are already healthy is that there is a general rule to follow when it comes to maintaining balance, but you can relax because it’s rather easy to achieve. I call it the 80-20 rule. If you’re dealing with a serious illness or desperately trying to lose weight however, this rule won’t apply to you since you’ll most likely have to be more disciplined in order to get well or lose those excess pounds.
If you’re looking to find a better balance in your wellness routine and if you are trying to keep up with healthy living and an organic lifestyle, following a positive regimen 80% of the time should be enough. The even better news is that the 20% remaining can be a HECK of a LOT of fun! But if you’re like me, you actually enjoy making smart choices, so the 80% can actually feel good too. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a delicious piece of rich cheesecake from time to time and so can you.
People often assume that I must be rigid and very disciplined to maintain my fit physique and while I do work consistently, I follow the 80-20 rule myself. Okay, well maybe mine is more like 90-10 but my goals are a little bit more aggressive than most.
So what does this rule look like? It means that 80% of the time you choose to eat organic foods, make healthy choices, reduce sugar, drink lots of water, take your supplements, meditate, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. The remaining time, do whatever you want. Eat some dessert, have a few drinks, enjoy those nachos, be lazy, and let yourself off the hook.
Remember that life is meant to be pleasurable. This is the reason that strict diets don’t work. People can only maintain rigid guidelines for a short period of time and they eventually give up because it’s just too difficult.
You now have my permission to thoroughly enjoy yourself, especially during the holidays but only with one condition; that you be gentle with yourself when you’re in that 20% and that you stop those negative and judgmental voices. Commit to giving yourself the love and support that you would offer your best friend and lastly, when you’re in that 20%, enjoy every decadent second of it!
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness, and Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, the 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger, and Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--It’s wintertime and the cold outside air affects our bodies. Adding cold raw foods on top of the already cold winter weather can be tough on the system. Our bodies are more drawn to warming foods instead of cooling during the cold months. When people here warming they often think of the actual temperature of food, but what we are talking about here is the constitutional temperature of the food. Let me explain.
Take for example spicy food. Even if you eat the food cold, spicy food is still internally warming to your organs and entire system. The other most obvious warming foods are onions, garlic, ginger and alcohol.
The most cooling foods are leafy greens, cucumbers, watermelon, sushi, fruits and vegetables. Certain drinks are cooling as well like Kombucha and certain teas. Here’s a complete list of warming and cooling foods.
Patients often ask me about how to eat in the winter months, and the best way is to cook your foods and steam your vegetables. If you do insist on raw veggies, be sure to add a little bit of ginger or some pepper to help to warm them up and balance out the cooling effects.
There is no magic diet for any of us. Our bodies are the labs and we are the experimenters. I can’t tell you to avoid all salads and raw veggies all winter long. What I can tell you is to listen to your body and notice what it is telling you. When you drink that green juice in the winter, does your digestion still work efficiently, or are you getting gas and bloating and possibly loose stool? I hear all the time how difficult it is for people to know how and what to eat, but the truth is, our bodies have infinite wisdom and if we pay attention and listen to them we will see that we already know exactly what we need.
Questions to ask yourself in regards to your diet are; am I getting a lot of gas after I eat? Are my bowel movements formed and normal, or do they tend more towards loose? Do I deal with constipation instead of loose stool, and if so, do I need more oils and water in my diet? Do I have enough energy to get through my workday and my daily workout?
Keep in mind that the raw food movement touts that we are destroying the enzymes and cooking out the good when we steam and cook food. The reality is if we are not able to digest that raw food, there is no point in eating it in the first place. Steaming and cooking it, while it may reduce the enzyme and vitamin levels, allows our bodies to break down that food and use it as energy.
WELLNESS--For those who tend to overeat, as you may already expect, the news isn’t great. But if you under eat regularly or simply eat to survive, then this article may offer a promising outlook.
For years studies have shown that those people who consumed less calories seemed to live longer lives. Part of the theory behind it was that the body was less taxed and overworked from excess calories in those who consumed smaller amounts of food versus those who ate more.
Fasting before an annual physical or blood work is not unusual nor is fasting while doing a full body cleanse. But the latest trend, which has gained much attention, is intermittent fasting. What is intermittent fasting? It is a pre-planned and timed schedule of eating where we consume all of our calories within approximately an 8-hour window while fasting the rest.
For example, by consuming your last meal at 8pm and not eating until noon the next day you have fasted for 16 hours. While it is not always recommended to do this every day of the week, many people have adapted this style of eating at least 2-3 days per week for positive health benefits.
Why in the world would we want to purposely go without food? The latest studies are showing that those who take longer and more regular periods without food may experience lower serum cholesterol, weight loss, increased muscle mass, higher levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), improved sleep and energy levels, less inflammation in their body, stronger heart and brain health, and possibly a reduction in their risk of cancer and diabetes. With such an exhaustive list of benefits, it looks like intermittent fasting is here to stay.
Timing our meals as such can be challenging especially when many of us have become accustomed to eating small meals every 2-3 hours and we have always been taught NOT to skip breakfast! We learned that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As time and research progresses, we are constantly making new discoveries. What was once seemingly harmful or unwise such as skipping our morning meal may now be the best thing that we can do to turn back the clock.
Of course like any health, fitness, or diet regimen, always consult with your doctor to ensure that fasting is safe for you especially if you’re exercising on an empty stomach. It’s also important to get the okay for those taking medication or with diabetes or low blood pressure.
If you Google intermittent fasting you’ll pull up an array of studies that are mostly supportive of this new trend. Once you receive the green light from your physician, start off slow. Try it one day per week at first and gradually build up to a more regular routine. Of course you can vary your fasting program and make the necessary changes according to your daily routine and work schedule.
Regardless of whether or not you follow a strict intermittent fasting regimen, it is highly recommended to consume less calories overall and to make the ones that you do eat count. Focus on eating good fats such as avocado, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, along with organic and grass fed chicken and beef, wild caught fish, including sardines, and an array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep your carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and bread to a minimum.
If you’ve tried everything else to lose weight, boost your metabolism, and increase your energy and nothing has worked or you’ve hit a plateau, this may just be the fountain of youth that you’ve been waiting for.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--We all have access to our breath but it’s so easy to forget to use it. How many of you notice that you are simply forgetting to breathe throughout the day, or not breathing deeply and completely? The benefits of breathing put it at the very top of the list of self-care activities needed to stay healthy, and it’s free!
The breathing we are talking about here is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing by inhaling completely through the nose to fill the lungs and diaphragm and exhaling out the mouth. Ten minutes or more of this type of breathing will give you the most bang for your buck.
Breathing makes us calmer. Stopping during the day to breath deeply for at least 10 minutes slows down the heart rate and calms our mind so that we can focus on the issues at hand. Also, short shallow breathing can prevent the body from getting the oxygen it needs while deep breathing detoxifies our systems. The increase in oxygen that we take in during deep breathing helps to oxygenate and detoxify the lungs and blood.
There is also some evidence that deep breathing can help with pain. It’s not clear if the relief is due to a drop in anxiety, which in turn helps the patient focus less on the pain, or if there is an actual decrease in the pain response. Either way, having health care providers teach their patients about deep breathing and how to do it can have benefits extending beyond the pain response.
Breathing makes you happy. When we take some time during the day to focus on our breathing we instantly feel more present, less stressed, and more happy! There are studies indicating that deep breathing techniques can be a great adjunct to a treatment protocol for depression.
Setting an alarm on our phones is a great way to remind us to breath throughout the day. Once we start paying attention to our breath, it is surprising how often we are doing shallow lung breathing only or actually forgetting to breathe all together for short periods of time.
Many people find it easiest to have a set time during the day that they sit and breathe. A morning and evening session is often the most effective way, but if you are in a high stress job, taking time throughout the day to breath can also benefit. By sitting in a quiet space in your home or office and breathing you are also meditating.
That’s really all there is to it, so make time for yourself and set aside 10 minutes a day to begin, and start your deep breathing exercises.
WELLNESS--If you’re like the majority of Americans, you most likely gain weight during the holidays. Not everybody packs on the pounds during this time but it certainly isn’t uncommon for your weight to increase or for your favorite pair of jeans to feel just a bit tighter. Many people also notice less energy and vitality during this time mainly due to overindulging.
Too much celebrating and not enough discipline can definitely take its toll. While I am ALL for having a good time, especially during the holidays, there are some things to be more conscious of in order to lessen the negative effects of the season and to feel “merry and bright.”
- Refrain - I am certainly not here to lecture and trust me, I allow myself plenty of indulgences during the holidays. But this year why not pay closer attention to how much you’re eating and more importantly, why? Often we gorge ourselves without much thought because that is just what we do this time of year. We are bombarded with awesome desserts and goodies that we don’t normally see and so we feel somehow obliged to get our fill before they’re no longer around. Prior to taking that next bite of Nanaimo bar, buttery shortbread or Christmas cake, take a breath. Ask yourself do I really want this? Am I truly craving more? If the answer is yes then by all means, ENJOY! If you answer no, put it down. It’s really simple. Most of us tend to eat out of habit and not with our intuitive senses. By becoming more conscious, you’ll find yourself eating less and in turn, feeling better.
- Re-Hydrate - Most of us will drink more alcohol during the holidays but one of the best ways to slow things down is to make a decision to sip a soda or water between alcoholic beverages. This simple rule will give your system a break, fight dehydration, and will work on cleansing some of the alcohol from your system. You will probably also become aware that you don’t desire as much alcohol as you may have in the past. Also, try drinking more slowly and take time to thoroughly enjoy each sip.
- Routine - A lot of people tend to neglect their exercise routine during the holidays. This is actually the worst time of year to do that. Our bodies desperately need physical activity to offset holiday stress and to assist our bodies in detoxing from the extra sugar and alcohol. It’s okay to workout less and socialize more but don’t skip it completely or it will be that much harder to get back into it in the New Year.
- Rest - Because most of us are consuming more sugar and alcohol it’s vital that we get more rest. The holidays are meant for you to relax and take a break from routine. So although you’ll still be doing regular workouts, make sure to allow extra naptime as well, and give yourself permission to fully rest. The stress of the holidays can cause our cortisol to rise and in turn, may cause weight gain. Naps are similar to meditation in a way that they allow our body and mind to shut off leaving us feeling more centered.
- Re-Ignite - The end of the year offers you a wonderful opportunity to go inward and contemplate your next steps. A new year always represents fresh new dreams, ideas, and goals that we would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. When we overdo our eating, drinking, and stress levels, we diminish this amazing time to look deeper and to re-ignite our spirits. After a year of running around and busyness, you owe it to yourself to use the holidays for greater good and to ensure that the year ahead is your BEST YEAR EVER!
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach living in Los Angeles. http://www.jaybradleylifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS - It’s that time of year again when cold and flu germs seem to run rampant. There are theories as to why the cold and flu virus is worse during the winter months and the main one is because the virus prefers cold, dry temperatures. Also, we tend to get less Vitamin D during this time, which may lower our immune defense even further. We also spend excessive time indoors with windows closed and that may just feed the virus even more.
There are certainly many debates as to whether or not the flu shot is a good option, and I personally have not had a flu shot in over 25 years. But wherever you stand, there are numerous natural remedies which work well to help you remain healthy and to give that potential cold and flu the boot!
Here are some tried and true remedies:
Oil of Oregano - This is one herb that you don’t hear enough about but in my opinion is probably the most potent antibiotic in nature. This stuff works! Oregano has powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which have been shown to boost the immune system and fight bacteria, parasites, and fungus. Oregano oil contains over 50 active compounds with immune-boosting and germ-fighting properties, along with antioxidants such as Vitamin A and C, and minerals. During cold and flu season, use 3-5 drops of oil of oregano under the tongue once or twice per day followed by water to reduce your chance of getting an infection. It can also be used throughout the year whenever you feel a scratchy throat, cough, or other signs of an illness. It works especially well for those who have asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic chest infections.
Echinacea - This is probably the most popular of all cold-fighting herbs yet less effective than oregano in my opinion. Research shows that it increases the number of white blood cells, which in turn, fights infection. Although studies don’t show dramatic healing results, it certainly won’t hurt to add this to your cold and flu-fighting arsenal. Using Echinacea drops in room temperature water or juice is best and purchasing an organic version is always suggested. If you have allergies to daisies, ragweed, or marigolds, you may also be allergic to the Echinacea flower so proceed carefully.
Astragalus - Numerous Chinese studies have shown that astragalus has potent immune and chi-boosting effects and works well during cold season to reduce the number of colds caught and to lessen their duration. Like Echinacea, astragalus can increase the white blood count and help to ward off infection. It is even more potent when used with a Ginseng product. It may also help to increase your energy during the winter months by supporting the adrenal glands. You can boil dried astragalus root to make a soup or tea, or take a capsule, powder, or tincture.
Mushrooms - I have written about the powerful immune-boosting effects of mushrooms before and this is the perfect time to reference them again. Look for a powder or supplement containing a blend of ancient, healing mushrooms. Maitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps are just a few that contain awesome disease-fighting properties and will work during cold and flu season to give you that extra boost you’ll need to get you through free of illness.
Zinc - The mineral zinc also increases your production of white blood cells and assists them in fighting infection more effectively. Zinc helps your immune system to release antibodies that may protect you during cold and flu season. Look for a chelated zinc supplement, which may be ideal to take all year but definitely during the fall and winter months. Zinc lozenges may also boost your immunity and help to alleviate sore throats.
Garlic - While I am not a fan of eating raw garlic and it may not agree with everybody, some version of garlic is a good idea if you want to boost your immunity during cold and flu season. For those who don’t like the taste of garlic, consider taking a kyolic garlic supplement, which is aged garlic that is free of the pungent garlic odor. The immune-boosting effects of allicin, which is a component of garlic, can work wonders on strengthening your system and many people have sworn by its powerful support during the winter months.
Along with these plants and herbs, make sure to get plenty of rest and exercise, and take time to de-stress with meditation and yoga. Also be sure to carve out creative time for yourself. Drink plenty of fluids, and work on releasing negative thoughts, fears, and emotions on your own or with a therapist or coach. Lastly, make sure to supplement with extra Vitamin C and D to further boost your system and to give those cold and flu germs the boot!
* Always consult with your physician before taking any of the products listed above as some herbs, plants, and supplements may interfere with your current medications.
WELLNESS--What if I told you that it’s possible to workout shorter and get a greater benefit? Would you think it was some type of fad workout or scam to get you to buy something? Truth be told, most of us are wasting time with long drawn out workouts that give back little benefit. It’s time to get off the ineffectual gym hamster wheel and start doing the HIIT (high intensity internal training) workout.
Please note that if you are new to interval training be sure to check with your doctor and get a physical first before training with HIIT as it is a more intense way of training your body and heart.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. Study after study has proven that exercising this way helps to stimulate the release of human growth hormone and other chemicals that help to slow aging while strengthening the body and heart.
In order to properly train with HIIT one needs to first figure out their heart rate maximum. You simply take 220 minus your age to get your maximum heart rate. From there you multiply it by 90 or 95 percent. We can use mine as an example. 220 – 46 = 174. 174 X .95 = 165. As high as I would ever want my heart to be beating during my training would be 165, and that would NOT be for a long period of time.
They call it interval training because we only want to bring our heart rates up to our max for short intervals of 30 seconds or less unless you are a highly trained athlete.
For beginners, it is suggested to train below your heart rate max at around 70 percent and only bring your heart rate up to 90 or 95 percent of your max once or twice for the first few times you try this and for less than 30 seconds each time.
Each week, you can add one more interval of intensity until you reach 8 high intensity intervals of 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can work out for only 25 minutes and reach 8 without too much trouble as long as you already warmed up.
Studies show that people who train with HIIT are more likely to get stronger hearts that pump more efficiently as opposed to their slow plodding cardio friends. In addition to the positive heart effects, the release of healthy age slowing hormones is another huge benefit.
People are paying upwards of $1000 dollars a month in human growth hormone supplements, and the HIIT workout will cause your body to produce it naturally and free of charge. This hormone helps to heal the body; brain and skin making us feel more healthy younger looking.
Try the HIIT workout this week and let me know how it goes!
WELLNESS--We’ve all heard this saying before. The reason that we have two ears and one mouth is so that we can listen more than we talk.
Unfortunately, in this world where many have become self-obsessed or just plain busy, we seem to have forgotten the valuable art of listening. Instead, as you may have experienced personally, we go from party-to-party, coffee date-to-coffee date, and meeting-to-meeting feeling completely unheard and unseen. Many of us have discovered a shift in how people are communicating or should I say, not communicating. If you’re sensitive to people’s energy like I am, you may feel overwhelmed or drained by others doing too much talking and not enough listening.
In this world of social media frenzy and instant gratification, we don’t communicate the way we used to. In fact, making a personal phone call or having a face-to-face chat has become almost passé. People spend much more time texting, on Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat then having an intimate conversation.
Because of this, people are feeling lonelier than ever before. A time has come when we must make important shifts towards getting back to basics. And to start, that means learning to listen. I mean, TRULY listen.
Being present isn’t always easy especially with so many distractions. These days we are bombarded by everything from our IPhones to shiny billboards so it’s no wonder people aren’t communicating. We have forgotten how. Spending time with somebody doesn’t mean what it used to. Instead it’s common to see two or three friends at dinner all on their cell phones with heads down to their screens.
I am writing this article as a reminder and to bring awareness. It is time for all of us to become more conscious. There is an epidemic of lack of focus, patience, and presence that has never been seen before. And it is only getting worse. But we can begin to make positive changes today.
Awareness is the key. Simply being aware that you aren’t aware is the first step. When we become conscious of a negative pattern that we keep repeating, we can then step up and change it. Once we recognize that something is no longer serving others, or us we can begin to reprogram our minds and our negative habits.
As difficult as it may be, we need to force ourselves to be present with others. We must make ourselves listen intently without distractions. When we have private time with friends or if we’re at a party and somebody is telling us a story, we owe them the honor of being heard. And vice versa when it’s our turn to speak. True listening doesn’t mean interrupting and going into a personal experience that is similar but instead it means standing firm, being quiet, and simply taking it all in. Often people don’t even want our opinion, they simply need somebody to listen. Their desire is to feel acknowledged and heard.
Just like anything that we aim to master, practice makes perfect. Once we become aware of where we need to improve, and we put it into practice, we then begin to work on shifting things for good. We practice not picking up our phone during a dinner with family or while your child is telling you about their day at school. We make it a point to schedule more time with our friends rather than simply texting or instant messaging on Facebook. We plan a walk or workout without bringing our cell phone.
It won’t be easy at first but as we change things up, it will become more and more of our natural way of being. We’ll begin to remember what it’s like to be present, living life the way’s it’s meant to be lived. We’ll begin enjoying the small pleasures of connecting with people around us in a deeper and more meaningful way.
We have two ears and one mouth, let’s use them accordingly.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert living in Los Angeles. http://www.jaybradleylifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL The 12-Week guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
We’ve all had big decisions to make. Whether it is changing jobs, leaving a relationship, choosing a doctor, or moving to a new city, the one part of life that will always remain constant is change.
I have certainly experienced my fair share of major decisions including moving away from home at 17 years old to leaving my 7-year relationship to selling all of my belongings at age 37 and moving to a new country. I see my clients and friends struggling with similar choices every day.
The main reason that we feel stress at times of transition is because we fear the unknown. What if I make the wrong choice? What if this path leads me to a terrible place? What if I leave and I end up alone forever? What if this treatment doesn’t work and my illness gets worse? Why can’t I just be happy with what I have? Why can’t I make a decision? If you can you relate you’re certainly not alone.
The first thing that we need to understand is that fear, stress, and anxiety come only when we live in the past or the future. In the present moment all is well. Even if we’re struggling with an illness or going through a divorce, in the present moment everything is okay. It is our fear of dying or being alone or going broke at some future time that causes us turmoil. Or it is our memory of a similar experience that led us to a painful experience in the past. How then do we let go of fear while also getting clarity on which path to take when were faced with a fork in the road?
- Get Quiet - I often speak of meditation because it allows our minds to get still. When we get quiet and go inward, we begin to get internal guidance rather than external validation. This means that our spirit, intuition or that part that is all knowing speaks to us rather than being affected by the outside world.
- Baby Steps - While there is a time to remain still, there also comes a time when some action is better than none. If you’ve been feeling paralyzed or stagnant for an extended period, take a step. There is no wrong or right choice, just take the next logical step towards some type of change and you will be guided along the path. Often the big steps cannot come until you’ve taken the smaller ones first.
- Follow the Energy - If we can learn to follow the excitement and energy, we cannot be led astray. When faced with a fork in the road, simply picture yourself in both scenarios. Take a moment to feel what it will be like when you take the path on the left and then take some time to experience the one on the right. Which path brings you the most enthusiasm, excitement, and joy? Which decision feels most aligned with the biggest and best vision for your life? Which one forces you to become all that you can be and which one keeps you playing small? Does one push you outside of your comfort zone and the other keep you complacent?
- Trust Yourself - It is so easy to make ourselves wrong and to use past mistakes as a way of avoiding moving forward. When we can re-build trust within us and become our own best support systems, we begin to trust that WE know what’s best. We begin to let go of the need for others to tell us what to do and while we may still ask for advice, the ultimate decision will be made by us because deep down, we know the truth.
- Embrace Fear - We try very hard to get rid of fear. We have learned to push it away and to avoid facing it at all. When we understand that fear itself is an illusion of sorts and when we actually learn to embrace it, it no longer holds power over us. What if we began to love those dark parts of our self and faced it head on? I have seen people do this over and over again and eventually the very thing that causes fear begins to lose its power. What we resist persists. What we embrace begins to diminish.
- Take a Leap - Eventually we will look forward to taking the leap. Making big decisions will become easier and easier over time. When we learn that there is no wrong or right and when we can listen to that quiet voice inside of us, we realize that as we leap, the net will ALWAYS be there to catch us.
Making big decisions and constant change is inevitable but as we learn to navigate using our inner compass, we become much better at handling these transitions and trusting that they are leading us towards the grandest version of our life. Each of us has been brought here with unique gifts and talents to offer the world and when faced with a fork in the road, it simply means that we are being guided towards that ultimate place of inner power, fulfillment, and mission.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach Living in Los Angeles. http://www.jaybradleylifestyle.com He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--Spices, herbs, and natural flavoring may not just enhance our taste buds. Recent studies are showing that spicing up your mealtime may in fact lower your risk of certain diseases and may also help to reduce inflammation in your body.
Often nature has many of the answers that we’ve been searching for and herbs and spices are a great example of this.
Here is a small list of my favorite spices and how they’ve been shown to enhance your overall health:
Black Pepper - Black pepper is rich in piperine which has been shown to slow, reduce or even kill certain types of cancer cells relating to breast, prostate, colon, lung, liver, stomach, and cervix. Piperine has also exhibited anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the pain relating to Arthritis and gout.
Turmeric - This bright orange spice has been used in Ayurvedic traditions for thousands of years. It has shown great promise in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, and even heart disease. The active ingredient curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is often recommended by doctors to help fight the symptoms or Arthritis and sports injuries.
Oregano - Oregano has potent anti-microbial properties and is incredibly effective during cold and flu season. Using oil of oregano drops under the tongue along with fresh oregano in your cooking has been shown to boost immunity and ward off certain infections.
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt - Salt has had a bad rap. For those with high blood pressure, it is wise to minimize sodium intake but tests have shown that pink Himalayan sea salt contains 80 + trace minerals and may help to alkalize the body.
Basil - Fragrant basil is packed with Vitamin K which helps our bodies to better absorb Vitamin D3. Vitamin K also promotes proper blood clotting, and supports our bones. Basil may also offer DNA protection and has antibacterial properties to help fight off infections.
Sage - According to the Journal of Psychopharmacology, sage has been shown to benefit people’s memory. Sage supplements have also been studied for their power to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Garlic - Garlic contains the sulphur compound called allicin which has numerous health benefits. Garlic is known to reduce bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, inhibit the common cold and flu, and may even fight cancerous cells.
Rosemary - Rosemary also has anti-inflammatory effects and supports healthy eye health. Rosemary also positively affects the brain and may even lower the risk of certain cancers including breast and blood.
Curry - Various colors of curry are often used in Thai and Indian cuisine. Curry has long been researched to reduce inflammation in the body, and to fight harmful free radicals from attacking our cells. Curry may also support proper liver health and detoxification.
Ginger - Ginger tea has been used as a remedy for digestive issues, nausea, and motion sickness for thousands of years. It also has immune-boosting properties, and has been shown to reduce overall inflammation in the body.
Cinnamon - Cinnamon has antifungal and antibacterial properties and has been researched for its benefits in lowering blood sugar in the body. It has anti-inflammatory effects and is considered a superfood because of its high antioxidant content.
There are numerous studies worldwide that show the positive health benefits of herbs and spices.
This week why not experiment with your cooking? The next time you’re at the supermarket look for fresh, organic herbs and try something new. Not only will your taste buds thank you but you’ll definitely be doing your health and your body some good!
Alert! Always check with your doctor to ensure that specific herbs and spices won’t interact with your current medications or pre-existing health issues.
(Jay Bradley is an Anti-aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach living in Los Angeles.
Life isn’t always easy. Regardless of how many self-help books we’ve read, the number of empowering seminars and warrior camps we’ve attended, sometimes we still suffer. After all, if we were happy and overjoyed all the time, we certainly wouldn’t be able to appreciate the awesomeness of the joyous experiences when they show up.
WELLNESS--The world is an amazing place. Each country holds ancient truths about health, vitality, beauty, and longevity. Herbs, plants, and other natural sources have been used for thousands of years to assist people in looking and feeling better.
I have become more and more fascinated by these secrets that are now readily available to the western world. We now have the privilege of experiencing these products here in North America, which are often packaged into convenient teas, supplements, and powders.
Many of us are keenly aware that changes must be made and in particular we are waking up to the fact that pharmaceuticals, although necessary at times, are not getting to the cause of our illness. While our mental and emotional health plays an integral part in our total wellness, nature may hold many cures as well.
Here is a list of many of these superfoods and their country of origin. Of course there a so many more and this is only a partial list. Perhaps it’s time for you to look into trying them for yourself and making some a part of your daily health care routine.
Ashwaganda - Ashwaganda root is known as an adaptogen herb which may stimulate the thyroid gland, lower the stress hormone cortisol, and increase energy and sex drive in men and women.
Turmeric - Turmeric is best known for it’s anti-inflammatory powers. It is well researched for use to help alleviate arthritis symptoms, possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and is a powerful antioxidant giving the cells an important boost.
Moringa - Moringa is a powerful leaf with each serving said to have 4 times more calcium than milk, the vitamin C of 7 oranges, potassium of 3 bananas, 3 times the iron of spinach, vitamin A 4 times that of carrots, and double the protein of milk! It is known to boost energy, libido, mental focus, and numerous other health benefits.
Chaga - Chaga is a mushroom-like fungus that grows in cold climates like Canada and Siberia. It contains the highest levels of a powerful antioxidant called Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). Often enjoyed as a tea, this powerful healer may have amazing cancer-fighting properties.
Green Tea - By now many of us know the powerful immune support that green tea offers but it also contains amazing thermogenic compounds that assist the body in burning fat and it helps our skin to look more radiant from the inside out.
Enoki Mushroom - Mushrooms are some of the most potent healers in all of nature and recent studies show that they may protect our body from radiation. Enoki is known for its unique shape and is often enjoyed in salads. It is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Goji Berries - Goji berries are considered both a fruit and an herb and are very rich sources of vitamins A and C. They help to support eye health and the overall immune system.
Oregano - Oregano Oil is now being touted as nature’s most powerful antibiotic. It has incredible antimicrobial and antifungal effects and works to naturally boost the immune system and ward off infection. 3 drops under the tongue regularly followed by water or juice is recommended.
Olive Oil - Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which may help to lower the risk of heart disease. Olive oil contains important vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants and is a great source of monounsaturated fat. It is a wonderful aid to reduce overall inflammation and assist healthy digestion.
Rooibis - Rooibis tea is a delicious, dark, caffeine free beverage made from the Rooibos bush. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature and works to naturally boost the overall immune system, may reduce asthma symptoms and headaches along with a number of other health benefits.
Coconut - The healthy fats in coconut known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are well documented to assist the body in reducing inflammation, burn fat, and help maintain healthy cholesterol. Coconut oil also works wonderfully as an antiaging skin treatment.
Soursop - Soursop leaves contain high concentrations of alkaloids and acetogenins which is a family of compounds with natural antibiotic and antifungal effects. Many people have made claims that Soursop has helped them to regain their health during cancer treatments.
These amazing and life-changing miracles of nature are taking center stage as remedies for a myriad of health challenges. You may be surprised at just how powerful they are!
It’s up to each one of us to do our own research and experiment to find what is right for us. Of course it is always advised that you do so along with the assistance of your family doctor or health professional especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or you are on medication.
(Jay Bradley is an anti-aging & wellness coach living in Los Angeles. He is the author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better! Jay can be reached at: jaybradleylifestyle.com)
WELLNESS--With Chinese Medicine we are taught that as the elements change and the cooler weather moves into our environment, it also moves into our bodies. Fall is in full swing, so we need to be mindful by taking certain steps that will help keep us healthy and well as we enter the cooling months.
For starters, sleep more. Many people are noticing that they feel sleepier as we move into October and November. This is because as the days get shorter, there is more darkness and the brain picks up on the lesser amount of light. With less light during the shorter days, the pineal gland as apt to create more melatonin making us want to sleep more that normal. The best solution to this is to allow yourself more rest when possible. If you have kids, get them into bed a little earlier than usual so you can also get yourself to bed. If your single, pick an earlier and reasonable time to turn off the screens so your brain can start preparing for sleep. Your body and brain will thank you for the increase in sleep time.
Regarding foods, eat more soups and stews. As the cold weather moves in, we don’t want it to move into our bodies. Warming foods like onions, garlic, and ginger become even more important to cook with in the winter months especially considering the antiviral qualities of those foods. Try to avoid too many cool drinks and cooling foods. Fall and winter is a great time to steam your veggies instead of eating them raw, and to drink hot tea and room temperature water instead of ice cold drinks.
In Chinese medical theory, the spleen is like the gas burner on your stove and the stomach is the pot with the food cooking in it. The less cool and cold foods we add to the pot the less work the spleen has to do to heat it, so eat foods that are already cooked during these months. It will make it easier on your body to digest them and use them as energy.
As the days get shorter and the darkness moves in, the chemicals in our brain also shift causing us to feel more sleepy and less energized if we are not taking proper care of ourselves. Because of this, the temptation for caffeine in the form of that afternoon cup of coffee or sugar in that candy or muffin grows stronger during the winter months. Add holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we usually have an abundance of sugar and processed foods at our fingertips.
One great way to fight the urge is to find someone you work with that is also concerned about putting their health and wellness first, and create an accountability buddy partnership. Set some realist healthy goals with this person and be sure to include realistic goals without trying to be perfect.
A great example of this is “every Sunday we can eat whatever I want, but during the week and at work we will not eat sugars or refined foods.” It helps tremendously to have someone you are accountable to, and actually makes the process fun. I love to use the fall and winter as a time of increased self care and wellness. That way, when the spring arrives, I feel like I already have a jump on my summer health goals!
Omega fats are a crucial part of any diet, but what’s the deal with these elusive compounds? For starters Omega 3’s and 6’s are considered “essential” because it is essential that we get them from our diet since we can’t make them ourselves. You may remember the word “essential” from when we talked about amino acids. It is used for the same reason. Both omega 3’s and 6’s are considered polyunsaturated fats.
Some of you are confused and have been given misinformation stating that omega 6’s are good and 3’s are bad. This is not the case. The exact ratio of 6’s to 3’s is still a bit unclear, but most professionals agree that at least a 1:1 ratio of omega 3’s to 6’s is required. As usual, every body is different so our needs vary, but it is widely accepted that a diet dominant in 6’s and deficient in 3’s is not healthy for our hearts, brains, and nervous systems. Studies show that people who get more 6’s than 3’s tend to carry more inflammation in the body and have a greater risk of heart disease.
A big part of why we get more omega 6’s is because they are cheaper to obtain and they are often found in refined foods. Besides being found in nuts and seeds and some of the oil extracted from them, omega 6’s are also found in refined oils like soy and vegetable oil, which is used to make processed foods. In the United States, 90% of all oil produced is Soybean oil at 108 million metric tons. This oil has some Omega 6 fat, but it’s often hydrogenated meaning they add hydrogen atoms making the oil stay fluid even in cooler temperatures. That hydrogenation process makes the oil easier to cook with and much easier to store, but it’s very difficult for the body to break it down. Hydrogenated oils should be avoided at all times regardless of the type of oil that is being hydrogenated. It is extremely unhealthy. Omega 6 oils are also found in meat and chicken, but the Omega 3 content in these foods is much lower.
Omega 3 oils come primarily from fish. Most of you have heard of the Mediterranean diet. This diet is comprised of lots of fish and vegetables and a low intake of meats. The 3’s can also be added and obtained from healthy fish supplements and krill oils. Try to get at least a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if you are able to look at the ingredients of your food and count the Omega 6 content, try to at least match the Omega 3 intake. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times a week. It is not always easy to prepare and eat fish, so for those of you that simply don’t eat a lot of fish or don’t like fish, taking a fish oil supplement rich in omega 3 is crucial for heart and brain health. The exact amount of fish oil each of us needs is varied and it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare providers to find out the right amount of oil supplementation for you. A good rule of thumb is to try to at least match the amount of 3 to 6 that you are consuming.
In closing, omega fats are crucial for you brain, heart, and nervous system functioning. Be aware of your omega intake ratio, and for most of us, adding 3’s is necessary. Avoid vegetable and soybean oil and definitely cut any hydrogenated oils from your diet. If the food seems unhealthy but doesn’t have hydrogenated on the label, do some digging on line. More than once, I have found that the hydrogenated oil is hidden and not on the label at all. One example is Girl Scout cookies. Pay attention to labels, but also dig deeper to get all the information around the foods you are putting in your body. I am here for any unanswered questions you may have regarding supplementation and omega intake.
WELLNESS--Many of us have heard that catchy phrase, but let’s dig a little deeper into the science of sitting versus movement.
Besides the obvious weak bones and varicose veins that sitting can cause, it turns out that more serious diseases are associated with sitting. In a study with nearly 2500 people, they were able to link sitting and sedentary lifestyles with type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is the name of a group of risk factors that raise ones risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Another study in Europe found that sitting times were highest in males, younger age groups, and people with postgraduate educations. This can be explained through the tendency for men to exercise less and be more drawn to video games. As far as the more educated people, they tend to have more high paying and time-consuming desk jobs leaving less time to move the body.
There is also evidence showing that even for people that are exercing for 30 to 60 minutes a day, the long periods of sitting besides during that exercise time can be damaging. Just the simple act of standing up and walking helps to enhance the function of the metabolism while simultaneously increasing the bodies function.
The best thing we can do to prevent the damage caused by sitting and being sedentary is to move our bodies as much as possible all day long. That may mean taking a short 10 minute break each hour or two at work and walking around the block or simply walking up and down stairs at work a few times a day.
For the more ambitious, there are now treadmill desks. It is basically a treadmill with a large desktop platform that you have your computer and phone and anything else you may need. People set the speed at a low rate of maybe 2 mph and slowly walk while they work. One woman blogged about her experience of using a treadmill desk for a month, and the results were pretty great!
I push my patients to get a fitness buddy and use that person as someone that you can answer to as far as how much exercise you are doing.
If you have an office job, grab a friend every day during your lunch hour and go for a brisk walk around the building. If you have kids and find it tough to find time for fitness, bring them to the park with you. There are strollers for infants designed for performance walking or jogging and if you have more than once child, make it a game and take turns to see who can push the infant the furthest or fastest.
A wrist worn activity tracker is also a fun and helpful way to ensure one is getting enough steps each day. We only have one body, and when something is important enough to us, we always make time for whatever that may be. Make you and your health a priority and start moving today.
WELLNESS--Very often people think of wellness and fitness as a program or a series of events. A more effective way to approach health and wellness is to look at it as a practice. Studies show that the effects of exercise and wellness are cumulative. In one study, participants fitness regimes and diets were tracked for 2 decades and it showed that the people who had clocked the most hours were the healthiest as opposed to the weekend warriors that only worked out in spurts.
For some of you reading this may think that this is not good news because your track record regarding exercise is less than exemplary. A better way to look at these studies is to recognize that small amounts of exercise every day is more effective and healthy than say training for a marathon once a year for 3 months and then doing nothing the rest of the year. One need not be a marathoner to be healthy. In fact, it may be argued that the person that wakes up each day and does a pleasant and brisk morning walk for 15 minutes is healthier than the part time intense fitness trainee.
Look at your fitness schedule and wellness as a practice. Like any practice, the more we do it, the better we get. Sometimes we make mistakes when we are practicing or we don’t practice enough. Instead of focusing on what we are not doing or what we should be doing, when our wellness practice becomes challenging, we need to simply recognize that we won’t always do it perfectly, then simply move forward from there.
When getting back in shape, self-talk is an effective tool that can be used to reach your goals. A study posted on NPR noted that people who use the 3rd person when relating to self have lower levels of anxiety that there 1st person counterparts and greater levels in success towards reaching goals. Other studies show that our self-talk is important, not only in shaping how we see ourselves, but also in the action steps we take to improve. Using the 3rd person may be more effective that using the first person when we relate to ourselves. Telling ourselves something like “you are human, and while you are not in the best shape at the moment, you are getting healthier and more fit every day” is much more effective than “I am fat and out of shape.”
The important take away here is to remind you that just like life, wellness is a practice. When you are in a slump or haven’t worked out for a while simply tell yourself that you are a little out of practice, and with a little time and a brisk morning walk, you will be back on track in no time at all and feeling great. Reach out if you need advice or inspiration.