The Brain/Body Connection: Stress

How are your New Year health resolutions going?  Are you staying focused?  A healthy body requires a healthy brain.  Chronic stress can interfere with both.

Chronic stress constricts blood flow to the brain, which can lower brain function.  A Canadian study showed that stress hormones decreased activity in the brain that controls cognitive function and emotional balance.  This makes it harder to stay focused and make healthy decisions.

Stress increases cortisol levels.  One study showed that older adults with chronically high levels of cortisol performed worse on memory tests than those with low to moderate cortisol levels.

Chronic stress and high cortisol levels are linked to an increase in appetite and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets.

Stress can interfere with sleep, and a lack of sleep (less than seven hours per night) can trigger an increase in cortisol and interfere with hormones that control appetite.

Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, digestive disorders, and weaken the immune system.

Stress can make you feel tired and less inclined to exercise.  A lack of exercise can decrease blood flow to the brain.  On the flip side, too much exercise can promote physical stress.

Some ideas for managing chronic stress:

  1.  Prayer has been shown to calm stress and improve brain function.  Studies point out that prayer reduces depression and anxiety, improves focus, and protects the brain from cognitive decline due to aging.  Prayer seems to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, the area involved in planning, making decisions, and self-control.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”  Isaiah 26:3.  “Give all your worries to God, for He cares about you.”  1 Peter 5:7
  2. Uplifting music can calm the mind and body.
  3. Lavender has been researched and shown to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.  Add it to a bath or diffuser.  I like to buy small glass bottles with roller tops to make lavender oil to rub onto wrists or temples to help calm stress.  It may even help to lower blood pressure.
  4. Laughter really is the best medicine!  “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”  Proverbs 17:22.  Laughter releases feel-good hormones and helps reduce dangerous stress hormones.
  5. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps increase serotonin and/or dopamine, which act as natural anti-depressants.  L-theanine can also be found in supplement form but should not be taken by pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  6. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts produce stress!  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8.
  7. Eat foods high in B-vitamins to help with mood and stress.  They also help metabolize fats, which are needed for brain health.  Whole grains, nuts, seeds, brown rice, and nutritional yeast are some good sources of B-vitamins.  A healthy balance of good intestinal bacteria helps the body make B-vitamins.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

 

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A healthy lifestyle is the best detox!

After the holidays, we seem to instinctively know that we need to detox.  There are many popular detoxes on the market, but in my opinion, a lifestyle detox is the best choice.

There’s nothing wrong with a short-term cleanse, like juicing or using special detox aids (apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal, bentonite clay, aloe vera juice, chlorophyll, etc.), to help us push the reset button and head in a healthier direction.  These aids an also help us recover from a health crisis (food poisoning, virus, bacterial infection, etc.).  A cold or flu is one way the immune system cleans out toxins, which are eliminated through the colon, kidneys, lymphatic system, skin, and lungs.

On the down side, if a detox causes an overload of toxins to be released from the cells into the bloodstream, you can feel pretty lousy.  Some people may even get too sick, because their bodies aren’t strong enough to eliminate an influx of toxins.  Once the crisis has passed, without the support of a healthy lifestyle, toxins will continue to accumulate and affect our health, including weight loss.

Eat foods that naturally detoxify the body.  Add a serving of sulfur-rich foods to your daily diet.  These include eggs, garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, watercress, and radish).  Eat a minimum of 25 grams of fiber each day from whole foods.  This will help bind toxins and move them through the colon before they can enter the bloodstream.

Drink enough pure water to help dilute and eliminate toxins.  Add some lemon to aid the liver.

Replace unhealthy fats (hydrogenated and refined oils) with healthy fats at every meal.  Avocados, coconut, olives, olive oil, flax oil, fish, nuts, and seeds, are some good choices.  This will help reduce inflammation in the body.

Eat healthy protein at each meal to help build a strong immune system.

Eliminate refined sugar from your diet for 10 days and see what happens!  You’ll have to avoid most processed foods and become a label reading detective.  This one step alone, especially when accompanied by the above recommendations, will go a long way toward improving your health!

Make a plan to manage stress from all sources:  emotional, physical (lack of or too much exercise, lack of sleep, toxic food and personal care products, environmental toxins, etc.), mental, and spiritual.

These are some good first steps to creating a healthy lifestyle detox!  It’s easier when you have some ongoing support, so I’ve created a Facebook support group for this purpose.  It’s free, and you’re invited to join if you want to connect with others to give and receive support and encouragement for your health journey.  I’ll pop in to answer your health questions and post health-related information, and it will also be a great place to share healthy recipes and tips for staying healthy.  We can also pray for each other.  (Please don’t use the group for soliciting products or services.)

Here’s the link to join:  www.facebook.com/groups/learningtobehealthywithlisa.  You’ll need to click on “join” to be part of the group.  The group is closed, so any posts will be seen by members only.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Why an apple a day might help keep the doctor away!🍎

In the early 20th century, an article in American Medicine magazine praised the apple as   “. . . therapeutically effective in all conditions of acidosis, gout, rheumatism, jaundice, all liver and gallbladder troubles, nervous and skin diseases caused by sluggish liver, hyperacidity, and states of autointoxication.”

Apples contain a soluble fiber called pectin, shown to have the following properties:

Pectin helps remove lead and other toxic metals from the digestive tract.  This is especially beneficial for those who live in high-traffic urban areas.

Pectin stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, which can improve digestion and support the immune system.

Pectin helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL), making it useful against heart disease.

Pectin can help balance blood sugar.

Pectin can help manage both constipation and diarrhea.

In addition to pectin:

The peel of an apple contains quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Apples contain the mineral boron, which helps increase blood levels of estrogen, acting as a mild “estrogen replacement therapy.”  Estrogen helps prevent calcium and magnesium loss from bones.  Studies showed that just 3 mg of boron a day decreased calcium loss by 40%!  An average apple contains about .5 mg of boron.

According to Psychologist James Penland, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, a lack of boron can affect mental alertness and test performance by slowing the brain’s electrical activity.  Dr. Penland found that just 3 mg of boron a day increased brain activity.

Fruits, nuts, and beans are some of the best sources of boron, as well as honey.

Bonus benefits:

Apples have compounds that are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral.

When eaten before meals, apples can help suppress the appetite.

Boron may hinder the excretion of magnesium associated with taking diuretics or digitalis.

Recommendation:

Buy organic apples.  According to ewg.org, non-organic apples come in second on the list of produce that contains high amounts of toxic residues.

Try this boron-rich Stovetop Apple Dessert recipe!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Support your health with sulfur–nature’s detoxifier and “beauty mineral.”

Sulfur is part of the immune system and aids the liver in detoxifying chemicals and toxins from the body.  This helps protect us from illness, including chronic disease and cancer.

Sulfur is also necessary for repairing the body and promoting the health of hair, skin, nails, and joints.  It’s known as nature’s “beauty mineral.”

Sulfur is found in insulin, the hormone that regulates carbohydrate metabolism.

Sulfur is a component of bile, which is made by the liver to help digest fats.

Sulfur-rich foods include onions, garlic, egg yolks, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, horseradish, radish, daikon, kale, turnips, rutabaga, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, watercress, wasabi, and mustard seeds).

Boost your immune system with a serving or two of sulfur-rich foods in your daily diet.

Note:  If you have a weak thyroid, it may be beneficial for you to lightly steam cruciferous vegetables.  Cooking reduces compounds that may interfere with iodine uptake, a nutrient needed to make thyroid hormone.  Overcooking can reduce sulfur compounds.

Nature’s Sunshine sells an MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) supplement that is a form of organic sulfur commonly used to help strengthen connective tissues and reduce inflammation, including that in the lungs, muscles, and joints.  Find it at www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

Download your free guide:  10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You! at www.learningtobehealthy.com

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Fix Your Gut, Fix Your Health

Once our food has made its way to the 20-foot long small intestine, enzymes are secreted by the pancreas to further digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.  The pancreas also makes insulin, which helps to control blood sugar.  Too many processed foods can weaken the pancreas over time, and digestion, as well as insulin production, can be adversely affected.  You may need to support your pancreas when you eat processed foods by taking digestive enzymes.

About 90% or more of the nutrients from what we eat is absorbed in the small intestine, which is lined with finger-like villi.  These villi contain digestive enzymes that finish preparing the food for absorption.  Villi also help prevent “leaky gut” by letting in the good and keeping out the bad, similar to using a strainer.  When villi become damaged due to inflammation, they can no longer do there job efficiently.

Damage resulting from inflammation can come from many sources, including the malfunction of other organs, like the stomach not producing enough stomach acid or removal of the gall bladder.  Other pro-inflammatory conditions include a poor diet (including food sensitivities), fungal and parasitic infections, medications, and toxins.

When the villi can no longer properly absorb nutrients and keep out what doesn’t belong in the bloodstream, inflammation can affect the entire body.  This can trigger an immune system response, and, when chronic, can turn into an autoimmune condition.

Some ways to stop inflammation and improve a “leaky gut” condition:

Remove food sensitivities (you may need to get an IgG Antibody Test).  You can also use a food journal to write down what you eat and drink, how you feel, and poop observations.  Eliminate any suspect foods for two weeks, and then reintroduce them, one at a time, over a three-day period, to see if you have any negative reactions.

Eat fresh produce, organic meats, fermented foods, and bone broth.

Stop eating hydrogenated oils (soy, canola, corn, vegetable, cottonseed, etc.).

Stop eating refined sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup).

Stop eating fast foods and packaged foods.

After nutrient absorption, what remains enters the large intestine, or colon.  Some additional nutrients are absorbed there, especially fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).  This is where beneficial bacteria (probiotics) assist in digestion–about 90% are located in the colon.

The final step in digestion is the timely elimination of waste.  The average time for stool to pass through the colon is about 36 hours.  If constipation is a problem, probiotics may help, as well as flax or extra-virgin olive oil, which help to lubricate the colon for easier passage.  Fiber, found in whole plant foods, is important for moving waste along, as well as for feeding the good intestinal bacteria.  Water is another crucial element for helping to prevent chronic constipation.

Some ways to help remedy constipation:

Include healthy fats in your daily diet, eat a minimum of 25 grams of fiber, drink approximately half your body weight in ounces of pure water, and take probiotics as needed.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

What are you feeding your skin?

Whenever you use those skin care products, fragrances, and cosmetics, you are feeding your skin.  The question is what?

I hope  that you’re making it a habit to read the ingredients  on food and beverage labels to reduce your intake of unhealthy ingredients.  Are you reading the ingredients on your personal care products?  When you put product on your skin, it gets absorbed into your bloodstream!

So many personal care products use parabens as preservatives.  These are known endocrine disruptors, can affect hormonal balance, and parabens have been found in human breast tumors!  There are many types of parabens (ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.), and you can find them in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, body washes, and face cleansers. Look for paraben-free or preservative-free products.

Triclosan is another endocrine disruptor often used in soaps, hand sanitizer, and toothpaste.

Some preservatives actually release formaldehyde when applied to the skin, and formaldehyde has been linked to cancer!  These  formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used in many personal care products, including shampoos, liquid baby soaps, nail polish, eyelash and nail glues, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, body soap and wash, and  cosmetics.  Some of these ingredients:  diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM gea

Avoid the UV filters octinoxate and oxybenzone, commonly found in sunscreens, liquid foundations, and some shampoos.  These are endocrine disruptors.

How about that seemingly innocuous ingredient “fragrance”?  It’s sort of like the word “natural flavors” on your food labels.  What does it really mean?  Fragrance could be any number of synthetic chemicals found in any number of personal care products, especially perfumes, colognes, body splashes, and air fresheners.  Buy fragrance-free products, and use essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

Some other ingredients to be wary of:  petrolatum, petroleum jelly, paraffin oil, and mineral oil.  Petroleum is used to fuel automobiles, and if not fully refined, it may be contaminated with toxic chemicals.  Mineral oil used on babies has been found to make it more difficult for them to absorb minerals, because it coats the lining of the digestive tract.

Lip balms and lipsticks may contain petroleum, mineral oil, and even lead!  That kiss could be leaving more than just a lipstick print!

Watch out for coal tar, which is a known carcinogen and may cause neurological damage.  It’s often found in shampoos, soaps, hair dyes, and lotions.

Remember, it’s the accumulation of toxins over time that can weaken your health, especially if you’re already dealing with a health issue.  Think about where you are applying those personal care products:  on your scalp (brain), on your face (sinuses), on your neck (thyroid), wrists (veins), abdomen (digestive tract, liver), chest (lungs), back (kidneys), knees (joints), etc.!

To learn more, visit www.safecosmetics.org.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant

www.learningtobehealthy.com

1 Corinthians 10:31–                                                                                                                   “Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Aluminum additives in food and personal care products can accumulate in the body, including the bones!

Aluminum toxicity accumulates over time and can be difficult for the body to eliminate.  Beware of your exposure from various sources!

Aluminum hydroxide is used in many antacid medications.

Aluminum phosphate and sodium aluminum sulfate are used as stabilizers in many processed foods.

Aluminum salts are found in many antiperspirants (aluminum chlorhydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide, aluminum zirconium) and can be absorbed through the skin.

In one study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, researchers found that women with breast cancer had a higher accumulation of aluminum in their breast tissue.  Aluminum salts can also mimic estrogen, which has been shown to increase the risk for breast cancer.

There is growing evidence that chronic aluminum exposure can be a factor in many neurological diseases, including dementia, autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

A study from Keele University in the UK shows high levels of aluminum in the brain of an individual exposed to aluminum at work, who later died from Alzheimer’s disease.   In 2004 high levels of aluminum were found in the tissues of a British woman who died from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Cooking with aluminum foil and/or aluminum cookware increases absorption of aluminum into food and beverages.  This includes making coffee in an aluminum espresso maker.

Aluminum can be inhaled through cigarette smoke.

Read labels and avoid ingredients containing forms of aluminum.

Some foods that may contain aluminum:  baking powder, self-rising flour, salt, baby formula, coffee creamers, processed foods

Foods and drinks in aluminum laminated pouches or aluminum cans

Toothpaste containing aluminum oxyhydroxides

Deodorants, antiperspirants, cosmetics, lotions, sunscreens, shampoos, bath salts, and other personal care products

Over-the-counter medications and/or dietary supplements containing aluminum, including the additive magnesium stearate

A healthy digestive tract will help move most of ingested aluminum out of your system before it gets absorbed.  This means that you need to eat in a way that doesn’t leave you reaching for antacids or make you constipated for days.

Eat foods rich in fiber, especially vegetables, and avoid processed carbohydrates that are high in sugar and low in fiber.

To help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, eat some fermented foods like sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar.  Add foods that contain live probiotic cultures like unsweetened yogurt and cottage cheese.  Choose products from grass-fed cows and those not raised with antibiotics or growth hormones.  If you don’t consume dairy products, consider taking a probiotic supplement.

Consume bone broth to help repair the gut and to supply collagen, shown to reduce the loss of bone mass and the likelihood of hip fractures.  There’s a basic recipe on my website.

Eat foods high in sulfur like garlic, onions, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, avocados, bok choy, sweet potatoes, nuts, turnips, and watermelon.  Sulfur helps the body to produce the antioxidant glutathione, which is essential for protecting the body from damage caused by chemicals like aluminum.

Drink enough pure water (tap water can also be contaminated with aluminum).

Get enough daily exercise and practice deep breathing to help remove toxins through perspiration and respiration.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult with your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.