Brain Health

Health Benefits of Hiking are Amazing!

Hiking in Mother Nature is divine! The health benefits of hiking are amazing. Not only does hiking improve your physical health, it also improves your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Hiking induces endorphins to be made by the pituitary gland. Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. Other health benefits of hiking include heart health, brain health, joint health, and immune system health. YAY to the health benefits of hiking.  

Here is a wonderful article on the health benefits of hiking from Fit and Me. The article is entitled: The 9 Benefits of Hiking That Will Have You Exploring New Places All Day Long.

Here is the full article. 

Have you ever gone for a really nice hike before? Taking a lengthy walk can be a really rewarding experience, both mentally and physically. The benefits of hiking are quite numerous and they are definitely all worthwhile the experience. Things like increased heart health, weight control, a better mental outlook, better mental function, and socializing with others are just a few of the benefits that you can reap from going on regular hikes.

In our opinion, there is nothing better than getting in tune with Mother Nature and walking through a forest or up a mountainside. To find out what all of the benefits of hiking are and what they entail for you, just keep reading to get all of the valuable info that we have to offer.

Benefit #1: Helps You Socialize

Benefits of Hiking

Hiking

The first thing that we really like about hiking is that it is quite a social thing to do. Sure, if you prefer to get some peace and quiet and hike by yourself, just you and nature, you can definitely do that. However, generally speaking, people go hiking in groups with friends or even with tour groups. Therefore hiking is a great way to socialize and spend time with your friends.

We all know that adults are busy creatures and between children, work, and other responsibilities, we don’t get nearly enough time to catch up with our old buddies. Hiking is definitely a great way for you to catch up with old friends.

Even better is if you take part in hiking or tour groups because it will get you out there, help you make friends, and enlarge your social circle. This is especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time at home or cramped inside a cubicle. The fact of the matter is that nobody likes to be alone and we all need friends. If you don’t have many friends you may want to try joining some kind of outdoor hiking group.

Benefit #2: Burning Calories & Losing Weight

One of the biggest benefits that you can get from going on regular hikes is that it is extremely healthy in terms of weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight level. Hiking does not only involve walking of course. When you hike, often you put on some thick clothes, heavy hiking boots, and usually you also pack a pretty big backpack that is full of food, supplies, and other goodies too.

While simply walking some trails may not seem that strenuous, that is definitely not the case. Depending on the level of difficulty of the hiking trail in question, plus the amount of gear that you are carrying, not to mention the speed at which you walk at, you can burn up to 500 calories in just 1 hour of hiking.

Of course, the more gear you carry with you, the faster you walk, and the more difficult the trail is, the more calories you will burn. If you want to increase the difficulty of your hike and thus the number of calories burned, you can choose to hike in hilly or mountainous terrain. It is actually shown that hiking at higher altitudes can help burn an increased number of calories due to the extra strain that is put on your body due to the altitude.

Moreover, if you don’t have too many calories in your system which are ready to be turned into energy, your body will turn to your fat deposits to produce energy, thus directly contributing to weight loss. Even better is the fact that exercise helps to boost your metabolic rate, thus helping your body burn calories or fat at an increased rate, ultimately also helping you to lose weight even faster.

Benefit #3: It’s Great For All Fitness Levels

Benefits of Hiking

Something else that we really like about hiking is that it is great for all ages and fitness levels too. If you aren’t in very good shape and are just getting started with leading a healthy lifestyle, you can go for a short hike on relatively flat terrain.

That is a relatively good starting point and will get you used to exercising. Once you progress and start to become fitter you can increase the difficulty of your hike by choosing to hike through harder terrain, and eventually even progress into something like mountain climbing. You can also increase the difficulty by carrying your gear with you or walking at a faster pace, thus making it ideal for people who are already in fairly good shape.

Moreover, hiking, especially in fairly easy conditions, is something that children and seniors can do too. Speaking of children and the elderly, hiking is a great way to get the whole family engaged in some healthy physical exercise.

Benefit #4: Working Out Your Muscles

Another thing that is extremely beneficial about hiking is that you actually get a pretty good full body workout that helps to keep your muscles in shape and even build them bigger too. This does of course depend on the difficulty of your hike, but even minimal walking is still good for the muscles in your legs.

Walking over rough terrain such as a forest or mountain scene definitely does put your legs to the test, therefore working out your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings too. However, if you choose to walk uphill, the strain put on your muscles gets multiplied, thus actually strengthening and enlarging your muscles.

Moreover, if you are hiking in very extreme terrain you might be forced to climb over rocks, ridges, and trees, thus also utilizing your core, back, and arm muscles. Also, since you probably have a hiking pack with food, first aid tools, tents, and maybe some extra clothes, you will also work out your core, back, and shoulders thanks to the virtue of carrying around a bunch of heavy equipment.

Benefit #5: Create Your Own Exercise Path

Benefits of Hiking

Something which we really like about hiking is that it gives you the opportunity to chart your own course and work out the way in which suits you the best. Hiking is fantastic because you can hike anywhere you want.

That could be in your local city whilst you explore landmarks, you can go for a hike at the nearest beach and maybe even go for a swim, you can hike through the forest and get in tune with the trees, or you can go for a difficult mountain hike too. The variety you get from hiking is definitely a big bonus.

Moreover, you can also choose how fast you go and how hard your exercise is. You can walk at a very slow pace if you choose, you can go at a brisk walk, or if the mood hits you, you can even take a jog too. It’s a really good type of exercise because you can also choose the distance you go. It’s great because you don’t have to go to the gym and get yelled at by sometimes snooty instructors and you can see the finest of nature at the very same time.

Benefit #6: Controlling Health Problems

The next thing that hiking is good for is to keep you healthy. What we mean by that is something as simple as hiking can help combat diabetes. It is a well-known fact that regular exercise can help control diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. Hiking is a good way to utilize your muscles, as we discussed earlier, and this using of your muscles moves glucose from your bloodstream by converting it into energy.

In essence, this has to do with your metabolism because the more you hike, the better your metabolism gets, and the more sugar gets removed from your blood, something which is essential when it comes to controlling diabetes.

On that same note, hiking is also a form of cardiovascular exercise and it can be light or strenuous cardio exercise depending where you hike and what gear you are carrying. The point is that cardiovascular exercise is of course very good for you. It trains your heart and lungs to be more efficient in terms of delivering blood and oxygen to your muscles, thus increasing physical performance.

Regular cardiovascular exercise is also shown to help control cholesterol levels, control high blood pressure, decrease your resting heart rate, lower the instance of cardiovascular and arterial disease, and helps lower the chances of suffering from a traumatic event such as a heart attack. If you want to be heart healthy and keep your body in top condition, hiking is definitely a good way to get started.

There is also something that is even better than cardiovascular health and that is the healing of your body, especially from diseases such as cancer. It is shown that long distance hiking helps to improve the antioxidative capacity of your body and may also increase the amount of antioxidants in your body. An increased amount of antioxidants in the body is very good because it helps to fight off cancerous disease in ontological patients, also known as those who suffer from cancer.

Benefit #7: Increasing Moods & Happiness

Benefits of Hiking

Yet another benefit that comes along with hiking is that it has the ability to help make you happier and increase your mood too. One of the main ways in which hiking helps to make you happier and even lessen the severity of depression is because of the outdoors. It is shown that exercising outdoors or even just simply being outside helps people feel happier. There is just something about the serenity and beautiful nature of the outdoors that seems to improve people’s moods.

There is of course also the fact that hiking outdoors is a form of exercise, exercise which causes you brain to produce feel happy chemicals. When you exercise your brain produces neurochemicals such as serotonin as well as various endocannabinoids. Serotonin is a natural chemical present in your brain which produces feelings of happiness, elation, and a sense of increased general well-being, thus making you feel happier and helping to deal with things like depression, stress, and anxiety at the same time.

At the same time, endocannabinoids, some of the compounds present in marijuana, also help to make you feel happier, more relaxed and less anxious, and can also reduce the perception of pain. If you are sick of feeling down in the dumps, hiking might just be the solution you need to make you happier and improve your mental health.

Benefit #8: It Won’t Cost You A Fortune

Something else that you might just appreciate about hiking as a form of exercise is that it won’t cost you very much. Sure, to go hiking on a regular basis you may want to get a decent pair of hiking boots and maybe even a good backpack to carry the essentials with you, but past that you really don’t need anything. You don’t have to buy expensive gym memberships and you don’t have to waste money on transportation either. All you need to do is to put on a pair of shoes and get outdoors.

Benefit #9: Increasing Brain Power

The final thing we want to mention when it comes to hiking is that it helps to get the juices flowing to your mind. It is shown that hiking helps people be more creative, helps with problem-solving skills, and also helps people increase their attention spans. Fresh air is always good for the brain, plus it doesn’t hurt to take some time apart from our computers and smartphones either! Being outside can actually make you smarter!

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many benefits of hiking. The fact of the matter is that even though hiking may not be the most intense form of physical exercise around, it is still more than enough to provide you with a wide variety of health benefits. Both your mind and your body will feel much better from something as simple as hiking through the forest. If you haven’t already tried hiking you don’t know what you are missing out on, so strap on some boots and get out there!

 

 

Outdoor Exercise improves your health

Outdoor Exercise

Hiking

Outdoor exercise is becoming more popular and for excellent reasons. Outdoor exercise brings healing and energy to all your bodies: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It also stimulates and enlivens all your senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and even taste, if you bring some food, which is usually the case on long hikes, walks, or bike rides. 

Outdoor exercise brings balance to your hormones and neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Cortisol, Gaba, Melatonin, Norepinephrine, etc., and it releases endorphins, morphine-like chemicals produced by the body that help diminish pain while triggering positive feelings. They’re released from the pituitary gland of the brain during periods of exercise. Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. YAY to outdoor exercise. 

The best outdoor exercise is whatever makes you feel the best. These days, there are many outdoor classes and activities: yoga, cross fit, boot camp, Tai Chi, hiking, walking, biking, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing cross country skiing, skate boarding, in-line skating, and more. 

There is also that sense of peace and connection to the divine when you are in the beauty of Mother Nature. To fully get into the healing powers of Mother Nature, the best outdoor exercises are hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. With these three activities, you can really soak in the beauty of Mother Nature and in some respect, become a part of Mother Nature. 

On the whole, we have lost our way with the Earth and Mother Nature. By engaging in outdoor exercise, you can start to become more connected with the Earth and the healing powers of Mother Nature.

Here is a short video of my hike at Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen, Colorado.  

YAY to Hiking!

Sleep your way to excellent health

Effective Sleep

Healthy Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of life to ensure a healthy body and mind. A good night sleep revives the immune system, improves brain health, restores healthy bacteria in the digestive system, and revives the endocrine system (hormones). Unfortunately, millions of people suffer from insomnia and other sleep issues. It’s an epidemic. The following article by Kate B. Forsyth, a writer for Be Healthy Today, will help you on your journey to a better and healthier sleep regime. 

7 Proven Tips to Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors a body needs in order to function properly. However, due to the day and age we now live in, plenty of other factors get in the way of us getting the sleep that we deserve. There’s stress at work, stress at home, heck, even stress from the environment.

There are many things that people do to make sure they get the best sleep. Some have nightly rituals, some invest in the best sleepwear, some even hire people to help them get to sleep. If you are able to rest fully and properly, you will get tons of benefits, both mentally and physically.

What exactly will you get? Well, if you regularly get a good night’s sleep, you will have healthier skin and a more youthful appearance. It encourages healthy cell division. It will improve your ability to learn new motor skills by 20 percent. It boosts your brain health. Developing good bedtime habits ensures that your body gets the rest it needs, helps you better manage stress, and provides you with more energy during the day. And finally, it improves productivity and also the overall quality of life. Basically, if you have healthy sleeping habits down pat, they will greatly improve your overall life.

Here are some tips and tricks that guarantee you to be sleeping like a baby and waking up full of energy.

  1. Avoid Caffeine. Nicotine, and Alcohol

Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. Make sure to avoid drinking coffee, soda, tea, or chocolate at least 4–6 hours before your intended bedtime.

Also, smokers should not use tobacco products too close to sleeping time. Smoking alters the expression of clock genes in the lungs and the brain. This ruins and disrupts a restful sleep. It’s been noted that smokers experience restless sleep and are more likely to suffer from insomnia.

With regard to alcohol, yes, it may help to bring on sleep. However, once the body starts to process the alcohol, it increases the number of times you wake up during night. Make sure to limit your alcohol intake to at most 2 glasses, and avoid drinking within 3 hours of bedtime.

  1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Regular exercise promotes good quality sleep. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise every day is enough to improve your quality of sleep. This makes sure you don’t feel sleepy during the day.

In addition, regular exercise improves the symptoms of sleep apnea as well as insomnia. Also, it increases the amount of time you spend in the deep and restorative stages of sleep.

Working out in the morning or early afternoon is the best choice. If you exercise too close to your bedtime, it interferes with your sleep. Try to finish moderate to vigorous exercises at least 3 hours before bedtime.

  1. Limit Daytime Naps

Many people  make naps a regular part of the day. Although napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make it worse.

However, if you can’t stop yourself from dozing off, make sure to limit the napping time to 15–20 minutes. Also, make sure to take them in the early afternoon. Having late-day naps decreases your sleep drive.

  1. Set a Sleep Schedule

It’s a good idea to keep a consistent sleep schedule. That means getting up and going to sleep at around the same time every day, even on weekends or when you’re on vacation. Experts recommend at least 7 hours and at most 9 hours of sleep every day.

This helps regulate your body clock and helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for the rest of the night. Keeping a schedule also makes you feel more energized when you wake up.

For bedtime, choose a time when you normally feel tired. If you feel drowsy a few hours before your intended bedtime, do something mildly stimulating. Some examples are washing the dishes, arranging your books, or calling a friend.

During the weekends, do not sleep in. If you need to make up for a late night, a short daytime nap will do.

  1. Dim the Lights

Before going to bed, dim the lights and put away electronic devices with backlights. Dimming the lights boosts your body’s melatonin production. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. What happens is if it gets dark, your brain secretes more melatonin, making you sleepy.

Also, this means no more late-night binge watching. This is because the light from the TV suppresses melatonin. Also, most programs nowadays are stimulating rather than relaxing.

  1. Make Your Room Conducive for Sleep

Keep in mind that your bed is for two things only: sleep and sex. That’s it.

Make sure there are no disruptive noises that can be heard in your room. Also, ensure your room temperature is just right. Many people sleep best in a slightly cool room with adequate ventilation.

If you still have some trouble falling asleep, try using scents that can help you zone out. Smells like ylang-ylang, lavender, and chamomile activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain. This leads to a feeling of relaxation and will help you sleep more soundly.

And of course, make sure you have a comfortable bed and pillows. It is essential that your sleeping posture keeps your head and neck in a straight line in order to avoid tension or cramps that can prevent you from falling asleep.

  1. Don’t Force Sleep

There are just some nights where you can’t fall asleep easily. And the more you toss and turn, the more your eyes remain open. If you find yourself unable to sleep after about 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something that will relax you. Some light reading or listening to soothing music are good examples.

 

Author Bio:

KATE

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

 

Probiotics ensure a healthy gut/brain connection

Probiotics

Healthy Bacteria

Probiotics are gaining momentum and for good reasons. Probiotics, also known as the friendly bacteria, are necessary for a healthy body and mind. Bacteria outnumber cells 10 to 1. On average, there are 5 pounds of bacteria in the human body. The key to a healthy micro-biome is to have the right balance of the friendly bacteria and the not as friendly bacteria. The not as friendly bacteria are necessary for a healthy micro-biome. It’s all about the correct balance. 

Since so many people are having digestive, immune, skin and brain issues, taking a high quality supplemental probiotic can start the journey to a healthier body and mind. Eating super healthy foods, including some fermented foods, is necessary to ensure the correct micro-biome balance. Some of the healthy fermented foods include sauerkraut, miso, raw yogurt and kefir, and kombucha. Other healthy protocols to ensure a healthy micro-biome include using natural and organic body care products, cutting back on taking showers every day, reducing or eliminating over the counter medications and antibiotics, and embracing dirt and germs by walking outside, barefooted, on natural surfaces such as grass, sand and dirt. Walking barefoot on the Earth’s natural surfaces is called Earthing. 

It can be overwhelming when deciding on what supplemental probiotics to take. There are dozens of choices at health food stores, many with different strains and with different amounts of probiotics, ranging from 5 billion to 400 billion. Fortunately, reviews.com has done a wonderful job of researching the maze of probiotics on the market by analyzing the effectiveness of the different probiotics based on different types of health issues. Here is the article by reviews.com on probiotics. Gut/brain connection!

Having the right balance of bacteria can also aid in healthy weight management. Here is an article from Health Ambition about probiotics and weight loss. Weight Loss!

If you need help with your gut/brain connection and micro-biome to ensure a healthier body and mind, please contact me for a free health evaluation. I offer health and wellness consultations all around the world. 

 

Earthing and barefoot walking improves overall health

Earthing and barefoot hiking

Earthing

It’s time to get back to nature by taking off your shoes and walking on the earth: grass, sand, dirt, on the beach, etc. Barefoot walking is making a come back and for good reasons. It’s called Earthing! It means living in contact with the Earth’s natural surface charge. You are grounded when you are Earthing. By barefoot walking or by just placing your bare-feet on the ground while sitting, you will receive negative electrons from the Earth and your body will feel more relaxed. Inflammation and sore muscles will decrease and your state of mind will be more joyful. There is something magical about barefoot walking on Mother Earth.

Earthing is both a timeless practice and a modern discovery. When you are grounded to the Earth, you receive healing powers from Mother Earth. Our Mother is here to help us heal.

As a kid, I remember going barefoot in the back yard and when I was at the beach. It felt good, but I did not know of the benefits and neither did anyone else. I discovered the re-born aspects of Earthing from a book, called, “Earthing: The most important health discovery ever!” The authors are Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra, MD and Martin Zucker. Clinton and thousands of other people, many who are documented in the book, have seen their health rebound from Earthing. It makes sense as humans for millions of years were connected to the Earth by being barefoot or by wearing shoes that connected to the Earth. Shoes of the past were made from natural plant fibers or animal hides and these shoes had the Earthing connection. Since the invention of plastic shoes, and high-heeled shoes, narrow toe box shoes, etc., the health of humans has declined with aching  joints, bad posture, back pain, foot pain, muscle soreness and overall inflammation. Inflammation is a driving component in illness and disease.

When you start to do some Earthing, take your time and just stand on the Earth’s natural surfaces. Later on, you can walk and before long, you might even go barefoot hiking. The more you do it, the better you will feel from being grounded to the Earth. Even when the weather gets cooler and eventually, cold, you can still do some Earthing. I know as I Earth in all types of weather. Your body will adapt to the ever-changing weather of Mother Earth. I have found when it’s chilly or cold, just stand in place and your bare feet will slowly warm up the ground. Strive to Earth for about 20 minutes or longer if you can. I have felt the best benefits when I Earth for at least 20 minutes, but any amount of Earthing has healing benefits.

Many people who Earth have experienced many awesome healing benefits. Here is a list of some of the health improvements that people have reported: Improved Posture, reduction and sometimes, elimination of back pain and foot pain, better sleep, increase in mental focus and power, healthier immune system, reduction in arthritis, reduction in blood pressure, reduction is stress levels, including a reduction in cortisol, increase in libido, increase in energy, healthier skin, healthier metabolism, and much more.

What are negative electrons and why does the Earth contain them? According to science, atoms are made of extremely tiny particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons are in the center of the atom, making up the nucleus. Electrons surround the nucleus. Protons have a positive charge. Electrons have a negative charge. The natural frequencies of the Earth are made up of waves of energy and the motions of subatomic particles called free electrons cause these waves. Electrons have a negative charge. These electrons give the Earth’s surface a natural, negative charge. There is a constant flow of electrons to the Earth’s surface from rain and lightning strikes. By grounding, we receive and absorb these negative electrons into our bodies. These free negative electrons reduce free radicals in our bodies and reduce chronic inflammation and bring a state of homeostasis to our bodies. Our body’s natural electric state is restored.

Here is some more wonderful information about Earthing. Information!

Best Carbohydrates to Eat for Great Health

Although there are different opinions on how many carbohydrates are needed per day and which types of foods contain the best carbohydrates, from my research over the years, here is a list of what I feel are the best carbohydrates to eat for great health. Before I mention the list, some folks do very well on a very low carbohydrate diet (ketosis) and some folks do not. A lot depends on the health of your endocrine system, especially your adrenal glands. Another interesting point is that if you engage in anaerobic exercise, such as sprinting, intense cross fit or other quick and high intensity movements, your body has to be able to access energy from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates provide good energy for the body and mind and carbohydrates help with brain focus, digestive health and hormonal health. Once you are in touch with your body and mind, you will know how many carbohydrates and which ones to eat on a daily basis. 

What are the best carbohydrates to eat for great health.?

  1. Fresh vegetable juice: Use celery or cucumber as the base and add some carrots, beets, parsley, ginger root, etc. Fresh vegetable juice contains a lot of vitamins and minerals and it will provide for good energy levels and oxygen. Buy a good juicer and make your own juice.
  2. Fruit: Fruit is a fun food to eat and it contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals. Strive to eat fruit in season and buy fresh when possible. Frozen berries are acceptable. Eat fruit with some protein or fat to keep your blood sugar balanced.
  3. Raw Honey: Packed with enzymes and vitamins and minerals, raw honey is a super food, if eaten in small amounts. Eat anywhere from 1tsp to 2tbs a day. Raw honey aids in healthy digestion and a healthy immune system.
  4. Raw or lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables: salads, broccoli, kale, collards, etc. Drizzle with olive oil, pastured butter or coconut oil, add good sea or celtic salt and other spices. Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals and other phytonutrients.
  5. Potatoes: for when you need a starch, potatoes are great. They are much easier to digest than grains, beans or bread. Eat russet, yukon gold, red, sweet, etc. Add plenty of pastured butter or coconut oil and enjoy. 

 

Mother Nature is healing!

Mother Nature is just outside waiting for you to embrace her healing benefits. Too many people have lost their way with connecting with Mother Nature. Getting outside and moving your body has many health benefits such as vitamin D production from the Sunlight, improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health and improved joint and muscle health. Spending time with Mother Nature triggers a good balance in various hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and cortisol. When your hormones and neurotransmitters are in balance, you feel wonderful, in body and mind.

The following article goes into more detail about the benefits of spending time with Mother Nature. Here is the link to the article. Get Outdoors! Here is the link to the Author, Amy Whitley. 

Here is the full article about getting outside and spending time with Mother Nature.

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented, known to reduce stress and increase “feel good” hormones like dopamine. But many of us seeking better mind-body heath overlook the benefits found in simply spending time outdoors. It turns out the age-old adage is correct: fresh air is good for you! While outdoor physical activities such as jogging, trail running, and hiking combine both physical exercise and the outdoors for a mental health boost jackpot, according to both the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School, simply spending time in nature in any form can improve your mental outlook, in addition to providing physical benefits. How refreshing!

Ways in Which the Outdoors Boosts Mental Health

Getting outside and taking a stroll truly can clear your head while also boosting your immune system and elevating your sense of well-being. If you can get outdoors regularly, you can trade seasonal light therapy boxes and artificial indoor lighting for natural light, which floods your body with vitamin D and immediately improves your mood. Just 15 minutes of natural sunlight per day is known to reduce depression and anxiety levels. Perhaps even more importantly, vitamin D and all that natural sunlight helps you sleep better at night. A study out of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine noted that natural sunlight helps set our body’s internal clocks. And the better rested we are, the better our mood and mental state.

But stepping outside does more than offer sunshine. Studies show that those living in urban environments have to contend with sensory overload on a daily basis, causing what researchers call cognitive fatigue. Finding green space or stepping into a park or garden can give the brain a break from urban stimuli. A recent epidemiological study has shown that people who move to greener urban areas benefit from sustained improvements in their mental health, according to Frontiers in Psychology. In fact, a recent Scandinavian study found that office workers with even views of trees or nature had lower stress levels than those who had city views.

Nature improves concentration as well, helping both children with attention deficit disorders as well as elderly citizens combating dementia or Alzheimer’s. Without the rush of man-made stimuli, the human mind is freed up to be more creative, and having lower stress levels allows us to focus on the task at hand better. This is why you might get your best ideas during a day fishing on the lake, or make that breakthrough on a work-related problem while on a walk in the woods.

How to Make it Happen: Getting into Nature

Getting your daily dose of nature doesn’t have to involve traveling long distances or taking up extreme outdoor sports like backpacking or kayaking. While a daily walk or bike ride is ideal, any green space can boost your mood and lower your stress and anxiety levels. Even sitting outside on a patio or balcony can give you access to sunshine and, at the very least, a skylight over your work or living space can provide natural light. Consider walking or biking to work each day, taking a new route through a green space or park instead of along city streets, or opting for the scenic commute instead of the freeway.

While outdoor sports such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and skiing successfully combine exercise with outdoor stimulation, any form of outdoor living will elevate your mental health. Simply walking through a forest has been proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reduce blood pressure and heart rate. So take a daily walk, try your hand at fishing, or simply sit and read in a garden to see benefits.

Attention Restoration Theory

Capitalizing on the restorative properties of peaceful outdoor settings doesn’t mean city life is all bad. Living in an urban environment is a happy reality for many who have chosen to live and work in urban centers, and has many upsides. This is where Attention Restoration Theory (ART) comes in.

The thinking behind ART is that urban settings can have an excess of stimuli (car horns, sirens, people) that demand our attention whether we are consciously paying attention to them or not, whereas natural settings require our attention but also reward us with feelings of pleasure and help restore our attention. For urban dwellers, visiting a setting such as a park can feel like an oasis, in that it provides the feeling of “getting away” even though you may only be minutes away from your office.

Getting outdoors to feel happier and healthier is both intuitive and backed by medical science! Make yourself a promise to spend just 15 minutes or more in a natural environment per day to reap the rewards.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is becoming quite popular these days, and for good reason. What is Intermittent Fasting? For starters, it’s not true fasting, when you abstain from all food and beverages, except water, for a day or two or longer. Intermittent Fasting is when you abstain from all food and beverages, except water, for a period of 16 hours of the 24 hours that make up a day. 

It may sound crazy or impossible to do, but when you are able to do it, Intermittent Fasting will do wonders for your body and mind. It will enhance brain power and focus, decrease any inflammation in the body, allow the digestive system to relax and repair and allow the endocrine system to relax and repair. Other benefits will be experienced based on each individual’s lifestyle. 

Most folks graze all day long, putting a lot of pressure and burden on the digestive system and on the endocrine system. When these systems are tired, inflammation, digestive upsets and hormonal imbalances will occur. 

The best way to ease into Intermittent Fasting is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume and increase the amount of fat and protein, especially fat. This is the only way you will be able to fast for 16 hours as your body and mind will have enough calories from fat and protein to sustain your body and mind. When you eat too many carbohydrates, blood sugar greatly increases and in turn, insulin and cortisol greatly increase causing blood sugar to drop. With this cycle being repeated, you end up eating every 2-3 hours and causing too much work for the digestive and endocrine systems.

For Intermittent Fasting, choose the best 8 hours for you to consume your food for the day. For example: 9am-5pm; 10am-6pm, 11am-7pm or 12-8pm. On your first attempt, if you can’t make the full 16 hours of fasting, it’s okay. Do not force yourself to fast the entire 16 hours if your blood sugar drops. Eat something and attempt it again, another day. 

Some folks see huge benefits from Intermittent Fasting and they do it every day. For other folks, 2-3 days a week is perfect. Experiment and discover what the best plan of Intermittent Fasting is for you.

For more information, watch this video.

 

Hormones!

Do you know what your hormones do for your body and mind? Hormones are chemicals made by the glands that act to control certain actions of cells and organs. They are the messengers and they work in a lock and key mechanism.

Your hormones have a huge effect on many of the bio-chemical actions that take place in your body and brain, on a daily basis. Some of the actions that depend on hormones include: sugar metabolism, brain function, sexual health, cellular communication, immune response, bone health, muscular health, energy levels, sleep patterns and emotional health.

When your hormones are in a healthy balance, you feel wonderful, but when they are out of balance, you can feel down right lousy and experience many unhealthy side effects.

Most adults, and even some children, have hormones that are way out of balance. What is the reason? The main reasons for out of balanced hormones are an unhealthy diet, chronic stress, too little or too much exercise and emotional problems and or trauma.

In addition to correcting the reasons I started in the above paragraph, a very important action to take is to take a blood test and salvia test to see how healthy or unhealthy your hormones are. I offer a salvia test through Alcat Labs to test the adrenal glands and two of the main hormones that the adrenal glands make: Cortisol and DHEA. I offer a blood test through SpectraCell Labs to test the male hormones, the female hormones and the thyroid hormones.

These tests are very affordable and very important. By knowing the results of your test, I can more affectively set a course of action to guide you to better health and healthier hormones. I can have the test kits shipped to you at no extra cost.

Be sure to search my blog for other articles on healthy hormone health!

Sunshine and Vitamin D

It’s time to embrace the beauty of nature, especially the sun and to get outside and do some sunbathing. Sunshine and Vitamin D go hand in hand during certain times of the year, depending on where you live in the world. Be sure to allow the sun to shine on a large section of your body for at least 20 minutes, a few times a week. If you are pale, start with 5 minutes and gradually work up to 20 minutes.
Vitamin D is very important for a healthy immune system, skeletal system and neurological system. It’s helps with the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D can affect as many as 2000 genes. It’s called the sunshine vitamin as the body can covert the UVB rays of the sun to vitamin D through a conversion process done by the liver and kidneys.
When sunbathing to acquire vitamin D, do not wear sun block. After the 20 minutes of sunbathing, if you want to put on sunblock, use natural sunblock with zinc oxide. Sadly, most of the sunblocks on the market are full of toxins and damage the skin.
Embrace the Sunshine and Vitamin D and have a healthy and vibrant day!