AntiAgeing Savantess

Global Wellness, Skin Care and Aesthetics

Posts from the ‘lifestyle’ category

Is the Jet-Set Life Aging you? Your Guide on Keeping it Glamorous.

traveling should be chic.... preserve the glamor by incorporating travel tips 

So everyone assumes the life of those who travel the globe to be tré chic. When done well, the average Jet-Setter DOES have the opportunity to regularly enjoy and assimilate cultures, foods, scents, and experience adventure not easily found in the comfort ones city. It is exciting BUT what you don’t take into consideration is the constant movement and lack of consistency can take a toll on health and, most definitely, your appearance. Living out of a suitcase means your whole nurturing environment gets tossed. Your diet, beauty, sleep and exercise routines are sacrificed.  Some, are genetically better equipped to handle such chaos, while most start, to look and feel worn out.

Consistent travel results in a drop in both energy and immunity. Also, our mood, digestion, weight, skin and hair rebel! So how to prevent these not-so-glamorous outcomes?

exhaustion not glamerous

Here are somethings I have learned and adapted into my own travel-heavy life. Frequent flyer or not, I hope you can find some of these helpful when you getting ready for some taxing travel.

PRE-FLIGHT TIPS

boost immunity pre flight

1.    Arm your immune system: Getting sick is quite easy when traveling by air. Not only is your immunity compromised by the stresses of traveling itself, but , the air conditions in flight make you much more susceptible to getting sick.  Cabin air has only about 10-15% humidity. Low humidity means germs can soar from one person to another much easier, without getting trapped in moisture. Additionally, because of the close proximity to your neighbor, bacteria,  viruses and other pathogens don’t have to travel far to infect you.  Dry air also results in a breakdown of  your bodies naturally protective mucous membranes. Your nose cannot as effectively trap and prevent pathogens from entering and, we are therefore, infected more easily to whatever is in the air. Because of this, we need all the help we can get to make sure we are best equipped to fight off whatever airplane bugs may come our way.

  • If your lifestyle is a little choppy…Get yourself hooked on a daily multivitamin.  Any deficiency in vitamin, mineral or antioxidants can mean depressed immunity. If you are too busy to watch your nutrient intake then a multivitamin can help complement an unbalanced diet.
    • How to pick a multivitamin? It’s not easy but according to the reported by CNN Health “Avoid the vitamins singled out by ConsumerLab.com, and stick with mainstream names such as Centrum Silver and One-A-Day Women’s, which were found to be free of impurities and accurately labeled. Also, check vitamin bottles for the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), NSF International (NSF), or ConsumerLab.com (CL) seals. The USP and NSF are nonprofit groups that verify whether companies offer contamination-free products and use good manufacturing practices. Not every brand has the seals — some don’t want to submit to testing–but those that do (Kirkland and Nature Made carry the USP seal, for instance) are reliable.”

      nature made vitamins

  • Take a probiotic. Studies show that probiotic can help improve absorption of nutrients necessary for healthy immune system. Probiotic also can help make sure we have an appropriate line of defense for those pathogens attempting entrance in the gut. Since probiotic help establish a balance of healthy bacteria in the lining of the intestines, the bad bacteria are unable to thrive in this environment.

Probiotic for immunity

  • Have a healthy breakfast and squeeze in a healthy dose of antioxidants and super-foods. These will reinforce your immune system and give you natural energy. Try a spinach and berry almond milk smoothie with a teaspoon of flax seeds. I mean to talk about super-foods in the future but, until then, check out the site SuperFoodsRX.

spinach berry almond smoothie

  • If you are not good at taking a multivitamin or are in too much of a rush to have a healthy breakfast, you need to think of a plan B. Below are some trusted supplements that can support your immune system.
    • Start taking AirBorne a day or two prior to your flight and continue to take it three times a day for 3 days. Airborne has a combination of essential vitamin, minerals and herbs for optimal immune function. I love the new chewable versions as you can take them any time any where with no excuses!Airborne chewable supplements for immunity
    • Put a few drops of Dr Brandt antioxidant water booster in your water bottle.  I do this daily as it assures me that, despite my crazy schedule, I am receiving a balanced supply of antioxidants in my system.  Antioxidants support healthy immune system and healthy skin.

Antioxidant water booster by Dr Brandt

2.      Prep your skin:  We need to boost health, hydration and vitality of skin prior to exposing it to less than ideal air conditions. Both the extreme dryness and the increased exposure to pathogens make airplane air a nightmare for those who want to maintain youthful and flawless skin. A preflight skin ritual can help protect the skin from both dehydration and breakouts. Below, I suggest a few ways you enhance your skins immunity to aggressive travel conditions.,

Oxygen Peel for Preflight DetoxEmerginC Detox Mask

Skin Ceuticals Vit B5

3.    Invest in chic but comfortable travel attire: Chic and Comfy can co-exist! The Europeans do this fantastically! How? Look for loose-fitting styles which can be layered to best adapt to temperature changes.

for chic and healthy airport fashion

Tight clothing can impede normal blood flow and aggravate an already challenged in-flight circulation.  Especially for those of you who fly on a weekly basis, you want to make sure your circulatory and lymphatic system are working optimally and avoid pooling in the lower extremities. This pooling can cause pain, damage vessels and potentially worsen varicose veins. Also, for the ladies, I suggest buying a pair of fold up ballet flats to bring in your purse when your heels get uncomfortable! I love these here by Fab Flipsters Pumps – Fold-Up Travel-Friendly Ballet Flats or check out the variety City Slips.

For Chic Healthy travel try Fab Flipsters

4.     Practice Yoga: Everyone is familiar with the aches and pains of sitting in a cramped airplane seat. Your neck shoulders hips and ankles hurt!! Exercise in general boosts immunity, but yoga, has additional benefits to muscles and joints conditioning. Yoga, therefore, is an ideal way to prepare your body for the conditions of air travel. The mornings of travel, I personally forego my morning jog, for a bit yoga. Even if I have a flight at dawn, I manage to practice a few asanas I know will increase my metabolism and releases shoulder and hip tension.

GREAT PRE FLIGHT EXERCISE

5.      Pack your own food:  Airport food is not only high in unhealthy fat and calories but is pumped with preservatives! I try to avoid eating in airports and airplanes at all costs. If I do eat something it’s when I stumble upon an organic ecologic market or somewhere I feel they consciously have raised their nutritional standards.  Most often, I survive on some healthy food I pre-packed for the trip; raw nuts, a few protein bars, some fruit and maybe a sandwich with organic almond butter. If necessary I compliment my hunger with some go-to airport food such as garden salads, simple pastas or fresh fruit juice.

Keep healthy traveling, snacks for the plane

6.       Avoid Caffeine : Try to avoid at least coffee the day of travel.  Again, the cabin air in flight is very dry, increasing likelihood of dehydration and symptoms of low blood volume (dizziness, nausea, headache).  Caffeine will further dehydrate you and make these symptoms more common. To feel your best, opt for herbal or non-caffeinated Green tea on the morning of your travel. To wake up, a fresh fruit smoothie or orange juice works wonders.

Green Energy Smoothie in place of coffee

Replace your coffee with a green energy smoothie

IN-FLIGHT TIPS

Once in flight, there are a few tips which can help make your trip as comfortable and less physically taxing as possible.

1. Avoid sitting cross-legged: Although there are no studies linking sitting cross-legged with increase incidence of health or aesthetic related risks… most experts agree avoiding it can spare you veins a lot of unnecessary stress. especially in the cases where you must sit for long periods of time, you don’t want to further compromise your circulation. Crossing your legs, while in-flight, makes it easier for blood to pool in your lower extremities, aggravating varicose veins, ankle swelling and putting you at risk for symptoms of low blood pressure.

Dont cross your legs on planes

Doing many things wrong here but on the bright side definitely NOT crossing legs! Bravo!

2. Choose an aisle seat: Not only does sitting in the aisle allow you to get up and stretch your legs more often, but it also can help protect you from additional UV exposure.  To-date airplanes are not mandated to use UV protective glass for their windows. Some newer airplanes DO carry such glass, but , it’s not easy to find out exactly which carry this feature.  At certain altitudes UV exposure can be magnified and, with regular exposure, more dangerous to both your skin and eyes. For this reason, it is my opinion to be better safe than sorry and sacrifice your bird’s eye view for the practical assurance of an aisle seat.

choosing the right seat is important to your health

3. Coat your lips: The precious eye and lip areas most often fall victim to the dry air as they are exposed to harsh in-flight atmosphere. The lips especially get effected because of the frequent contact to liquids followed by the dry air (this assuming you are all drinking LOTs of water).  Because of this, most passengers leave the airplane with pale, dry and cracked lips. How can we protect them?

protect your lips

protect your lips…they are worth it!

4.      Avoid Alcohol and Salt: Sorry wine and salted nut fans….this is a detrimental combo for those wishing to arrive to your destination feeling clear-headed and fresh.  Alcohol consumption will dehydrate you and the salt will just enhance this effect and furthermore contribute to edema, or swelling, of the hands and feet. Additionally, the US Department of Transportation cautions that travelers who consume these dehydrating beverages that they may be at increase their risk of contracting a respiratory infection. Again, these components will leave you feeling disoriented, weak, puffy and with and increase possibility of getting sick!

avoid feeling unhealthy while traveling

Feeling terrible on your trip! Next time avoid the salt and alcohol!

5.   Embrace your hand sanitizer. This is an extremely valuable tool as it can prevent  you from getting infected by any germs you may find laying around arm rests and seats. As I mentioned above, germs travel faster and further in dry cabin air. Also you are within a short radius of at least 6 potentially sick passengers. I know they can be quite drying to the skin but it might be workth giving it a go ATLEAST prior to your meals!  I love Soap and Glory’s Hand Sanitizer, simply for its’ smell and convenient size!

soap and glory hand sanitizer

POST-FLIGHT TIPS

1. Avoid Jet Lag: Adapt most efficiently to your time zone. Follow the Schedule of your current time zone. Don’t stress about the sleep you lost. The faster you embrace your surroundings, live in the present and accept your new bedtime, the faster you recover and the more rest you will acquire overall.  Remember to eat accordingly and use melatonin for sleep adjustment when back in your home town. For tips on how to cultivate the most refreshing sleep, check out my previous post on “Beauty Sleep, Your Inner Symphony and a Better World”

beat jet lag

2.   Start Post-Travel Skin Recovery: Vitalize and Refresh Jet-Stressed skin.

Now that you have arrived to your destination make sure you read into your skins’ needs. If you feel its very “dirty”, repeat the pre-flight detox regimen, if too dry, continue with the pre-flight hydrating products OR if just kind-of “off” or needs a SOS overhaul, try one of the following products : SKII Treatment Masks, Kiehls midnight recovery complex or LAB Age Rescue Face Lotion for Men.

SKII Treatment mask

love these… rescue a shady complexion in a flash!

It’s not easy but with some stricat habits and a bit of priming and prepping… you can comfortably continue this hectic yet rewarding lifestyle without it costing your health, sanity and youthful qualities!

glamorous travel

Cheers to those frequent flyer miles, seeing the world and keeping it Glamorous!

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Aging Elengantly

Want to age like a pro?

As much as I love youth promising products and treatments, the most important things we can do to promote quality longevity are simple lifestyle modifications. What we eat, how we act and think, are what will ultimately dictate our biological age. How you age is really up to you! Genetics aside, we have the power to incorporate life enhancing acts to ward off the illnesses most commonly associated with our physical, mental and health decline.

     1. *****Make sure getting your vitamins and antioxidants!!

Juicing2

These are your primary defenses against cancer causing free radicals and stress related aging and disease!

How-to-tip: Make Fruits and veggies your go-to food .

  • Try Juicing in the morning, snack on veggies and include a variety of colored foods in your diet! Find some recipes and      tips on this helpful site All About Juicing.
  • The stronger in color, the higher vitamin and antioxidant power!
  • If you don’t trust you are getting in enough  antioxidants, try a trusted supplement like the one below from MacroLifeNaturals… Try the MarcroGreens or Miracle Reds! In Spain, a brand called Salangei makes some fantastic antioxidants supplements in capsules, check out  their product Phytomatrix here!

antiox supplement Miriacle Reds

     2. ****Drink purified water!! 

purified water benefits

Municipal water has been reported with potentially toxic amounts of Cholrine and Flourine. These chemicals have been associated with health hazards and urinary tract cancers.  Other toxic substances commonly found in tap water include lead, pesticides, benzene and heavy metals.  Taking into account we need 8-10 glasses daily to stay healthy, we should be wary of the quality of the water we drink!

How-to-tip:  Pass on sugary, artificially flavored, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and drink filtered water.

  • Buy a filter! I have to be honest, after researching, it’s still unclear to me how to choose the best water purification system. There have been numerous reviews stating ” the reverse osmosis types using a thin film composite membrane” are best! Readers Digest recommends the Aquasana brand. If anyone has any insight or opinions to share I would love to hear from you!
  • If you’re interested in learning about the reverse osmosis filtration process and a thin film composite membrane, I found      this link here quite informative. http://espwaterproducts.com/about-reverse-osmosis.htm.
  • To give flavor kick to your filtered water try adding a bit of vitamin and antiox goodness with citrus fruits!

Choose water

Kleen Kanteen

  • Lastly, if you’re going to go for store-bottled water, beware that not all are created equal. Bottled water seems to be less often screened or controlled than we might think. Also, mineral contents vary and could mean different health implications. Do your research on your favorite brands!

     3. ****Meditate!!

meditate for health

Daily meditation has been cited to be more effective than any other relaxation technique to lower long-term anxiety, ultimately, improving mental function and preventing premature aging. According to a Study conducted by Dr R Keith Wallce, those who meditated for more than 5 years averaged 12 years younger biologically than non-meditating counterparts!

How-to-tip: See my instructions in my post on Beauty Sleep!! (Won’t hurt to pick up some tips on sleep, as proper rest is vital in combating stress and disease! (: )

  • Set aside 5-15 minutes a day to recharge and unwind.
  • If you find sitting quietly too stressing , try a walking meditation or listen to meditation guidance tapes.

      4. ****Squeeze in 30 minutes of daily cardio!!

take the stairs for health

Cardiovascular activity helps prevent heart disease (hence the name), decreases stress and improves metabolism! All of this helps cut your chances against developing the most common diseases related to decreased quality of life and premature disease.

How-to-tip: Cardiovascular exercise has mean any activity which raises your heart rate and makes you sweat a bit. The gym is a great place for motivation and wide variety of aerobic classes and “cardio machines”. Power walking sessions, jogging, bicycling, gardening and even certain types of house cleaning can also serve as great ways to activate the body, exercise the heart and increase metabolism.

  • If you need some motivation to get in your morning workout check out my previous post for some tips “ABCs for a Rejuvenated Morning”.
  • If you just can’t seem to make time during your hectic day, take the stairs and walk every chance you get.
  • Avoid couch potatoe -ing at all costs! I guarantee, a fresh walk will feel so much better or your mind and body than ingesting both extra calories and exogenous TV anxieties.

     5. **** Include Omega 3s in your diet!!

omega 3 brain power

Increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis have been shown in those consuming diets low in Omega 3s. Poor cognitive function, depression, fatigue, memory, attention deficit issues, inflammatory conditions and even Alzheimer’s can all be warded off with regular consumption.

How-to-tip: Try incorporating cold water fish, walnuts, flaxseed or eggs from hens fed on greens to your daily diet.

Flaxseed Smoothie

Get your Omega 3s! Add flaxseeds to your smoothie

Nordic Natural Omega 3

        6. ****Wear Sunglasses!!

sunglasses for eye health

Not only do large chic sunglasses give you a few points on the fashion scale…. They can also help protect your from wrinkles, cataracts and growths such as pinguecula or pterygiums! The amount you squint is directly proportional to the stress you are implementing on the ultra sensitive skin around the eyes…Sunglasses minimize the need to squint. A pair of groovy shades also works to protect the peri-orbital skin from UV exposure and associated increased risk for skin cancer and signs of aging.. Lastly, sunglasses help protect the eyes from the above eye diseases which could affect your sight. Cataract formation is many times genetic and, for many,considered a normal part of aging (50 % of those over 80 have signs of cataracts). We can, however, slow their insidious onset by protecting ourselves when outdoors with UV protective lenses. Studies have shown those who protect themselves in early life with sunglasses are less likely to develop cataracts and other disturbing eye growths.

      7. ****Add Fibrous foods to every meal!!

High Fiber Foods AntiAging diet

The benefits of a high fiber diet include: decreasing risk of heart disease, aiding in excretion of cholesterol, maintaining digestive health, preventing diverticular disease, helping manage healthy blood sugar levels and diabetes, removing cancer causing toxins from gut and helping you control hunger and fight obesity.

By maintaining digestive health, high fiber diets also help stabilize feelings over all wellbeing. Furthermore, the fact that those who eat diets high in fiber tend to be able to control their appetite and weight better, means less risk of eating foods containing unhealthy fats and sugar. Proper nutrition further protects you from heart disease and diabetes.

AntiAging gurus from around the globe have one unified message in mind…longevity is strongly linked to diets with high Fiber:Sugar-Ratio! More fiber and less sugar is the definite formula to wellness!

How-to-tip: To find out how much fiber you need and some high fiber food suggestions see Mayo Clinics site.

  • For more on Anti-Aging foods check out this slide show from the Dr. OZ website site.
  • If you can’t seem to get enough dietary fiber in your diet…..take a trusted supplementary source. I kinda like this list of supplements listed on Top10Supplements.com….sorry kinda cheesy site but really liked their choices (:

organic fiber supplement

     8. ****If you have to drive….don’t forget your seat belt!!

Wearing Seat Belt AntiAging

Wearing Your Seat Belt can Assure Quality Life

Ok so this may not be directly antiaging but its LIFE PROLONGING! The number one cause of non-disease related death is car accidents. This said, you can decrease your risk in three ways 1) DON’T DRIVE 2) IF YOU DRIVE, DRIVE A BIG CAR (increases your chances of survival but at the cost of the environment) 3) WEAR A SEATBELT.

use of alternative transport could be life prolonging

Embracing alternative transportation is AntiAging

How-to-tip: At the least, fasten your seatbelt.

  • If you can avoid driving, do it! Live in a community which is accessible on foot or with use of alternative transportation. Choose to live close to your work and children’s school.
  • I’m not going to lie…I hate seat belts (they trigger a sense of claustrophobia), furthermore don’t like driving! I limit my families necessity for use of automobiles by limiting our activities to the areas of the city where we can easily get to by tram, metro or on foot. This is a personal lifestyle choice which I understand may not be ideal for many, for this reason I stress the importance of the alternative! Wear SEAT BELTS please!

     9. ****Shave!!

shaving is antiaging

Great news girls!…Mens graceful aging secret’s out!… Apart from the fact that men have better structured collagen, more active fibroblast activity (those cells which make collagen and elastin), their smooth, wrinkle free skin is partially due to the fact THEY SHAVE!!! Shaving is an amazing way to stimulate healthy cellular turnover and keep skin looking and acting young! I’m not telling the ladies to start shaving to keep their faces looking youthful, but I am giving the act of shaving some props after over a decade of bad press from the laser hair removal advocates! What I do want to stress is before you go off and laser those legs is that there may be another reason, other than economical, to choose shaving! We may consider it an antiaging act! I’m not sure this should be in the top 10 but definitely something you could do everyday to keep skin looking youthful!

     10. ****Protect your skin from UV radiation!!

protect skin from UV radiation

UV radiation and smoking are probably the 2 factors most strongly linked to premature skin aging. UV radiation is also our strongest correlating factor to skin cancer. Those desiring a skin ageing prevention technique need to start with the basics of UV prevention. Since most sun damage is occurred prior to the age of 18, it is vital to educate our children and loved ones to take precautions.

How-to-tips:

  • Use antioxidant products daily. See my post on “The Power of Antioxidants
  • Wear Sunscreen with SPF 30+ with UVA and UVB Protection .If you read the above post on Antioxidants you will notice I tend to prefer those which offer physical UV radiation barriers over chemical.
  • Place tinted UV-protective film to your car’s side and  rear windows as well as to house and business windows. According to Skincancer.org, these can block up to 99% of harmful UV radiation while  letting in 80% of light.
  • Wear special UV protective clothing when outside. Look for the Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), the higher the better. I love CabanaLife, Mott50 and Coolibar for kids.
Protect UV clothing Cabanalife

Protect yourself with UPF Clothing

  • Invest in a Laundry UPF additives. These will potentiate clothing’s ability to protect you from the sun. SunGuard is one example, using a sunscreen chemical called Tinosorb FD. One wash with SunGaurd gives you a new UPF of 30 for up to 20 washes thereafter.
SunGuard protective UV wash

Add to your laundry wash for extra UV protection

  • Choose dark, tightly woven and loose-fitting clothing to provide the best barrier for skin from the sun.

Hope you enjoyed my recommendations and hope you find a way to apply them to your daily life!! If you need help on making better choices, talk to your doctor, nutritionist, fitness expert or antiaging guru and get a customized consultation!

Cheers to staying healthy and maintaining your most youthful you!

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healthy habit sign

Although, my life vocation is centered on the creation of beauty… health is my foremost objective and I make sure it’s never sacrificed. In fact, my premise has always been that when we cultivate health, the beauty will follow. Beauty is identified by both its interior and posterior components. We are our best version, when we are healthy…we radiate a light which transmits as balance of the mind and body.  With this balance we are able to help and inspire others to be responsible and gentle with one another and ultimately create a more intelligent society. I truly believe health and intelligence breeds happiness, less hunger and violence, and greater advancements.

As a wife and mother, I wish to help my family achieve optimal health by serving as a good role model. This means living happy, health consciously, and helping them stay away from hazards that may get in the way of them doing the same. Hidden dangers lie in misconceptions about the food we eat and we often underestimate what we can do to keep ourselves healthy. I hope to help share data which has helped me make better choices for my family. Below I list some healthy tips I incorporate into my family’s life and I have hopes you too will incorporate into yours.

        1.       Eliminate Sugary Drinks and all Sodas

Consumption of sugary drinks are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic (reported JAMA 2012). Survey conducted show that we derive at least 50% of our daily sugar in take from sugary fruit drinks, soft drinks and sports drinks. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends your daily diet consists of no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar (150 calories) for men. Noting that just one regular soft drink contains 8-10 tsp (over 130 cal), you can see that these drinks put us at risk for not only obesity but all other related diseases. With one of three children in US overweight or obese, sugary drinks should be limited, if not completely eliminated from your family’s life!

high sugar drinks

With limited or no nutritional value, the health concerns out way their benefits!. CNN reported that scientific research has linked higher death from diabetes, heart disease and cancer in parts of the world where sugary drinks are most consumed. Although there are obviously other attributing factors to these scary incidences, the American Heart Association has linked each to elevated sugar intake.

What about diet drinks/sodas? We have recently been uncovering the mechanism these previously thought to be “healthier sodas” contribute to obesity. The artificial sweeteners, fructose or sugar alcohol used in diet sodas, tend to slow our metabolism and decrease our sensation of “satiety” or “feeling full”. One of the ways they do this is by altering the activity of the bacteria in out gut. According to a report in the Obesity Reviews, the bacteria begin to produce a short chain fatty acid that, when accumulated, increases hunger by blocking signals of satiety and causing a type of inflammation. This inflammation has been associated with tendency to develop insulin resistance, diabetes, increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Furthermore, the brain responds to non-caloric sweetness as it would real sugar and therefore triggers pancreatic insulin release. This insulin serves to deplete available blood glucose and induces a hunger response to replenish its stores.

It’s clear that those who consume high sugar drinks or sodas of any kind are at risk of increased risk for a multitude of health concerns. I propose to try keeping sugary drinks for special occasions and making water, herbal teas and freshly squeezed juices as your go-to drink option.

natural fruit drinkslight water drink with lemos

        2.       Forgo Using the Microwave

Scientific studies have been conducted from well-respected Swiss, German and Russian scientists on microwaved food.  Results have shown that microwaving food decreases it nutritional value and alters it to producing harmful, even cancer causing, substances.

Microwaving

Findings have included that microwaving causes the following changes:

  • To meat: May produce some nitrosdienthanolamines (known carcinogens believed to be linked to stomach and colon cancer) and decrease its nutritional value.
  • To thawed fruit: Converts glucosides and galactosides into carcinogens
  • To vegetables: Removes nutritional benefits from plant alkaloids and cause more difficult to digest.
  • To vitamins, minerals and healthy fats: Leads to structural degradation leading to decreased bioavailability.
  • To antioxidants: Removes potency more so than steaming or stir-frying (also reported in Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture 2003).
  • To garlic: Depletes it of cancer protecting ingredient.
  • Alters amino acids of proteins so to make them unusable for the body.

microwave effects 2

Other studies have shown unhealthy blood alterations, mental decline and nutritional deficiencies in those who exclusively cook in microwaves. As if all this is not enough, if you add the carcinogenic effects of heating in plastic, the impact of microwaving doubles in its gravity to our health!!

For the sake of our families health we need to limit our exposure to toxins and carcinogenic substances. In my house, we are not waiting for the American Medical Society to issue warnings against microwave use, nor are we waiting for a large scale study which can hurt the billion dollar industry. Being a medical practitioner myself, I know what it takes to get a study approved and done well. It takes a lot of money and dedicated scientists working over decades to evaluate the long term results. This said, I don’t foresee this ever being done and therefore our children will continue to suffer from strange disease processes resulting from cumulative effects of modern life and its technologies. What we can do is be aware and incorporate what we know in our guts to be true… most often the simpler and the closest to nature, the better!

Being raised with minimal use of microwaves, we had the opportunity to know the luxury of stove/oven cooked and raw food. Seeing that these methods of food preparation are actually healthier, why not give that to our children as well?

raw food

With cancer and immune system disease on the rise…let’s leave microwaving for emergencies and try to preserve the nutritional/health integrity of the carefully chosen food we eat.

        3.       Be Wary of Canned Foods

can food

A concerning percentage of canned food is contaminated with Bisphenol A or BPA.  To all you moms out there, BPA may hit a soft spot. BPA is known as the scary chemical we all look out for when choosing baby bottles and other items babies tend to put in their mouth. BPA is a common component of polycarbonate plastic and is used in many food packaging items, kitchen ware and yes…. baby bottles. It is released from these products over time and gets into the food we then feed our families with.

BPA is a chemical that has known health hazards and more so when exposed to children’s bodies. Even in acutely low doses, BPA, which can mimic effects of human estrogen, interferes with the human hormone system (officially stated in 2009 Endocrine Society). It also has shown to alter mammary gland development in animals and increases breast cell proliferation in human cells. Studies have shown when pregnant mice were exposed to BPA, it increased their offspring’s risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, there have been connections to regular consumption of BPA contaminated food with prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity and ADHD.  Because of such reports the EU, Canada and even China have prohibited its uses in baby bottle productions. France is also in the process of banning BPA in all food application products. Government involvement or not… is it not time we take precautions to protect our families from limit BPA exposure? Savvy moms now know to only buy “BPA-free” when selecting children’s plastic items.

But, are we overlooking other sources of BPA intoxication of which we should all be aware? As concerning as the BPA levels in plastic is, we are now more aware of it and companies are making strides to protect our children from contamination. Our real hidden threat of BPA is now in canned goods. It was just recently that scientists have analyzed and found significant levels of BPA in a range of popular canned goods. From corn to canned soup…. the epoxy-resin lining of these tinned foods are contaminating contents with this sneaky health hazard. Food manufacturers use this material due to its protective properties against bacterial contamination, but, is it worth the risk of the above mentioned issues? Again, until the FDA gets involved and bans use of such dangerous materials, it may be worth it to forgo canned foods all together. Seeing that canned foods often are high in sodium and use concerning preservatives….I feel it may be an all-around good omen to purge our cupboards of can-derived nutrition…don’t you?

Canned food and risks

For those of you who cannot live without your favorite canned food…. There are BPA free manufactures. Some examples are Eden Foods and Trader Joes. The website Tree Hugger or Organic Grace also has a list of safe varieties.

For more information on the danger of canned food check out this well written article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

  

      4.       Make Exercise A Regular Family Event

For adults, the health benefits of exercise are well published. There are a dozen reasons why exercise is important to your physical and mental well-being. But as most of you know, getting started on a fitness regimen can be difficult….especially if you have little free time to dedicate to your relationship and family. For this reason many give up their right to exercise to spend time with the ones they love.

But why not combine fun/family time with physical exercise? This option allows health benefits for the whole family and promotes bonding in your relationships!!This is the premise on which my family and I live! We make exercise a family event. My family and I spend hours on the weekends running together and biking. Exercising has provided us with many of our happiest moments!  I wish the same for you!

family exercise

Teach your children that physical activity is a normal part of their routine. Encourage rollerblading, bicycling, yoga, running, stretching and sports by participating in these activities with them.

Not especially sporty? Start with long walks and go from there!

Living in the cold? Bundle up and go for a walk or take on winter sports (let’s learn from the Europeans whom never let the cold stop them from getting outside!).

The benefits of exercise for children are irrefutable. The below offers you some insight on what exercise can do for your children.

exercise on brain power

  • Regular exercise can increase children’s ability to think, plan and do math (Journal of Health Psychology).
  •  MRI guided studies from the Health Science University in Augusta Georgia have shown exercise to increase executive function of children’s brain and improve overall social behavior. Improved executive function means improving self-control, reasoning and abstract thought.
  • Another study showed children who exercised 40 minutes every day for 3 months increased 3.8 points on scores of cognitive planning. It seems the more kids exercise the more intelligent they become!

Brain power aside, exercising together can help build lifelong healthy habits, create memories, get you and your family in the fresh air more often! It’s also an affordable activity and by stimulating healthy appetites, might get them to finally have a go on that quinoa dish or grilled fish you have been pushing on them. (:

Chris Carter PhD recently wrote a similar article, in the Huffington Post, on effect on exercise and brainpower, for those interested in an additional read check it out here.

    4.        Limit Toxins and Chemicals Exposure by Buying Safer Products.

This can be achieved by choosing your food and household products wisely. Below I offer you a few ways to achieve this and reason you should be a more intelligent consumer.

Food and Cosmetics: When choosing food or plant derived products, chose organic. Organic labeled products are those in which manufacturers have complied with strictly controlled procedures in their production. This means they have been produced without synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or preservatives. Foods labeled organic have been grown on land which has also been protected from such chemicals for at least three years. Animal products such as eggs or dairy must come from free range animals that eat only organic feed.

Why Organic?

La boquerilla Organic is Orgasmic

La Boquerilla Barcelona

•  Consumption of organic food can help decrease allergies. A study by the British Journal of Nutrition found decreased eczema and wheezing among 2 year olds who consumed organic dairy products.

Less exposure to organophosphate pesticides. A study from the University of Washington found lower levels in those preschoolers who ate organic vs. conventional food. Elevated levels of these pesticides are associated with mental health issues like depression and memory problems (BBC report in 2006).

warning of pesticides

Less resistance to antibiotics. Because organic farming prohibits non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock, meat, dairy and eggs we are less likely to acquire resistance to life-saving antibiotics.

organic farming 

For more info on the safety of meat and other foods click WebMD link and see here.

It’s totally understandable that organic food may be just too expensive for some households. It is for this reason The Environmental Working Group has created a Shopper’s Guide which dictates which produce carry most risk of contamination. We can then prioritize our organic shopping and buy the foods which carry the highest risk, with highest pesticide levels, or those which our family consumes the most, such as milk and eggs. The foods with lowest contamination are the ones you should buy from a local source. Buying local is a good option for those who can’t afford organic. Local farmers worry less about preservation, since not traveling long distances to get to the consumer.  This means fresher food and less use of harmful substances in cultivation.

Veggi Wash

You can also use food washes such as Environne and Veggi Wash to help remove contaminants from your food. There are also homemade recipes for food washes using vinegar and water click here for one example. You may also need a vegetable brush for some fruits and veggies with thicker skin. It is not recommended to use detergents to was your food, risks may outweigh benefits.

Vinegar produce wash

Household Products: Many products we use for cleaning and air-freshening have harmful effects to almost every bodily system. Cumulative effects of their exposure have raised concerns and are now thought to be correlated to increasing epidemics. Most concerning are the effects they may have on small children. Trends reported include an increase in learning and developmental disabilities, asthma, childhood cancers, ADHD, as well as decreasing IQs. Scientists believe pesticides to be one of many culprits in these growing issues related to our children’s health. For more on this please refer to this report published by The Pesticide Action Network :A Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health & intelligence.

chemically grown food cost more

It is up to use to protect ourselves and our children from these effects by limiting pesticide contamination.

Some tips when choosing Household Products:

non toxic cleaning

  • Read the label and avoid these ingredients: Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) (can be carcinogenic and easily penetrate skin), butyl cellosolve or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ammonia (can irritate respiratory pathways), Sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite (bleach which damage repiratory pathways and skin), chlorinated phenols (hazards to lungs and circulatory system), diethylene glycol (depress nervous system), formaldehyde found in deodorizers (respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen), petroleum solvents in floor cleaners, percholethylene in spot removers and many others.
  • Use sparingly any product with labels which include DANGER or POISON. Chances are they are affecting your families’ health with regular use.
  • Try cleaning using gentle non-toxic ingredients to clean your home. Examples of such are Baking Soda, Unscented Liquid Soap, Lemon, Borax – (sodium borate),White Vinegar, Washing Soda, Sal Soda, Isopropyl Alcohol in water and Cornstarch Citrus Solvent. For indications of use please refer to this website.

nontoxic cleaning

pesticide free

I hope that these tips have helped make you more aware of how you can contribute to making sure your family has the best chances of living a longer, healthier, more quality life.

I have about a dozen more tips up my sleeve… but I thought I might spare you from the information overload. (:  I plan to offer these in post soon to come ….stay tuned!!

As those of you who already have gotten to know me have figured out…I’m passionate about wellness! I hope you are enjoying my journey to keep you all your youngest, healthiest and most beautiful selves!

Cheers with Love from my family to Yours!

Heathly life habits

My husband and children heading out for family activity. Here you see daugter Valerija!

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        happy snacking or breakfast         

I’m sure you have noticed….. your mood changes after eating.

One would expect happiness after feeding a famished belly, but many times, that is not the case. Instead, your diet can sometimes contribute to your tired, irritable or lazy demeanor, when what you really need is to feel energized and prepared for your day. Let’s face it, now a day; we need every bit of energy we can get! This modern life requires us to get through our tightly packed schedules motivated and with the right attitude. Later, we need to adjust to transition theses energetic days to relaxing nights, assuring a rejuvenating nights rest. Whether we have an important meeting, a life changing exam, a long list of draining tasks or just to spend time with family or friends, we always want to feel sharp minded, positive and with no excuses for not giving ourselves 100%.  With that said we should want to know how to feed ourselves to optimize our mood. I would want to know, for example,  if there was something I could do to help me be less anxious when I have to present in a meeting or to have optimal stamina before going to the gym or to be more relaxed when spending time with my mom….wouldn’t you?

I hope to help you understand how to use the power of food to set the mood for what could be your best day yet!

Our brain is ruled by Neurotransmitters

neurotransmitter

The central nervous system, composed of mostly our brain, controls not only the way our heart beats  and the way we breathe, but most other processes that our vital to life itself. In addition, the stability of the nervous system is key in regulating our mood, sense of well-being, energy and mental clarity.  It is for this reason that neurotransmitters (NTs) are so important to our overall health and mental state. These chemical messengers are released from one brain cell, or neuron, to another to initiate a chemical reaction causing nerve impulses which ultimately preside over how our bodily systems function, feel and act. In fact, NTs are the key players in regulating messages between over 100 billion neurons that make up and control our entire nervous system. Healthy brain function depends of a balance and regulation these NTs production and release.  Even small imbalances in the proportions of NTs can affect our mental health. Since the precursors of these NTs are primarily derived from food, (include vitamins, minerals and most importantly amino acids), what we eat can have an immense impact on their presence and activity. Depending on what we eat, and in what proportions, we can alter the prevalence of one neurotransmitters production and activity over another’s. Since different NTs have different actions we must strive to supply our body with the right dose of materials needed to produce healthy levels of each type. Our food choices can, therefore, attribute to how we physically and mentally maneuver through life.

Mood NTs

Although there are hundreds of neurotransmitters active in our bodies, for the purposes of this post, I will discuss only those which have the most influence on our mental state and their effect on our overall mood.

First off, it’s important to know that we have two major classes of neurotransmitters, inhibitory and excitatory. The inhibitory neurotransmitters are those that serve to calm and stabilize mood. While the excitatory help the body prepare for activity, mental acuity and stress.

Two important inhibitory NTs are Serotonin and GABA.

  • Serotonin is necessary to relax the mind, calm anxiety and nervousness, decrease sensations of pain and help prevent overeating.  Additionally, when Seratonin is balanced, you have a better immune and digestive function overall. We all know what sickness and bloating does to our mood…. Needless to say Seratonin helps balance our minds and our tummies, and does wonder for feelings of happiness.
  • GABA is known as our bodies “natural valium-like NT”, and is mainly responsible for keeping you calm in moments of stress.

The excitatory NTs are Norepinephrine and Epinephrine.  Appropriate levels of norepinephrine are required to wake up the nervous system and keep you energetic, focused and productive throughout the day.

  • Norepinephrine plays an important role in alertness, motivation and concentration. It also has a role in helping produce long term memories and keeping your metabolism in check.
    • Epinephrine most important role is in blood pressure and heart beat regulation, however, is also released in response to stress.
    • High levels of these excitatory NTs can in the short term give us the power we need to pull through an energetically demanding event BUT long term excess has health risks including damage to our circulatory system and kidneys.  Apart from stress, certain foods can promote chronic excitatory NT release, causing the associated physical damage and additionally inhibitory NT depletion (in failed attempt to compensate for excess excitatory NTs effects). Too much excitatory NTs cause anxiety, stress, and insomnia and contribute to alterations in mood.

Certain NTs can both be both inhibitory and excitatory depending on the receptors present. Dopamine and Acetylcholine are two such NTs.

  • Dopamine is important to mood stabilization, as it can calm the mind to focus and prevent depressed mood.  In elevated concentrations it is also capable of contributing to nervousness or anxiety.
  • Acetylcholine (Ach) is a NT necessary for memory retention, mental acuity and alertness. Deficiency in Ach is seen in Alzheimer patients. For more info about Ach and Alzheimers click here.

How can what we eat affect what neurotransmitters are prevalent in our systems?

Food, depending on it’s nutritional composition, offers our body different precursors for production and stimulated release of certain neurotransmitters. Nutritious foods are the best sources of these NTs and proteins are often our ideal source. Proteins and NTs share a common building block, known as amino acids. When ingested our body breaks down proteins into amino acids and if the appropriate supportive nutrients are present (vitamins, minerals etc.) in the appropriate nurturing environment, the NTs are produced. Amino acids themselves can serve as NTs, stimulating neuron receptors to the release of other NTs. Appropriate nutrition is essential to provide the body with the correct elements needed to produce the correct NTs in the correct proportions. The ratio of these NTs produced allow our body to maintain a healthy neutrality and balance irregularities produced by stress, hormones, illness or other. This complex balance can be thrown off if we have any nutritional deficiencies (vitamin, mineral or protein), ingest food which deplete certain NTs (such as sugar, alcohol, medications or  excess carbohydrates), or have chronic digestive or hormonal issues. Although this science is complex and can be affected by various factors, we can help contribute to the health of our mental state by providing our body with a nutritionally balanced diet and avoiding excess of those toxins which can throw NT balance into a disarray.

To eat in a way which we can precisely acquire certain energy levels or to balance our mood is not easy. We can, however, learn a few guidelines which can help us seek out certain nutrients, and avoid ingestion of interfering substances, to help assure we are the happiest, most easy going and sharpest selves.  

DAY TIME FOODS- Uplifting, Energizing, Mind-Sharpening Effect

Seek Out:

  • Tyrosine rich foods for energy
    • The amino acid tyrosine promotes production of the excitatory NTs…dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.
    • Foods high in protein like eggs whites, soy products, meat, wheat germ beans, legumes and cheese. Almonds, pumpkin and sesame seeds are also great sources and can be used as snacks.
    • Chicken is a great source of tyrosine and therefore excitatory NT precursor. Chicken additionally provides the brain with a source of coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 additional supports the energy generating potential of the neurons.
    tyrosine rich groups

    tyrosine rich foods

    tyrosine rich food

    • Antioxidant rich foods to assure alertness and motivation
      • Dopamine is essential for alertness and motivation. Unfortunately it is easily oxidized and therefore must be protected by adding foods which have high antioxidant power
      • Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best dietary antioxidants and help maintain and increase your dopamine levels by fighting the harmful free radicals which threated its oxidation and destruction.
      • Watermelon (excellent source of super antioxidant B6), apples (contain quercetin well known for dopamine protective properties), bananas (shown to increase dopamine levels), beets (contain natural antidepressant betaine which also essential in dopamine production) and avocados are best dopamine protecting or enhancing properties.

      perfect mood antioxidantsavocado and bananas to set the mood

      • Choline for concentration and memory
        • Choline, a B complex vitamin, is the precursor to acetylcholine (Ach). Ach is a neurotransmitter essential to memory and whose deficiency is liked to Alzheimers.
        • Choline is found in high concentrations in cholesterol containing foods. I’m not saying go back to fried eggs and butter for breakfast but a whole boiled egg might pay off resulting in better concentration before a big exam.
egg yolk for the mind

a bit of cholesterol can sharpern the mind

        • Other sources of choline include beans, cauliflower, soy products, cheese, oats, wheat germ and whole grain.

**Diet tips:

To assure energy? For breakfast, try an egg white omelet with a half a cup of cottage cheese or a soy milk fruit smoothie with a teaspoon of wheat germ.  For an energizing lunch, try a nice chicken breast meal with sautéed veggies or bean salad.

flaxseed soy smoothieegg white omlete with antioxidants

For a brainy breakfast? Try a egg sandwich on whole wheat with slice of low fat cheese.

egg sandwich cheese wheat

food for your brain

High Sugar Processed Foods? Don’t do it! Although these options may seem like a perfect fix for an energy slump they are short lived and ultimately result in a brain and energy slump. These non-nutritional food sources supply our blood stream with lots of free glucose (sugar energy source), but this activates the pancreas to work into overdrive producing a compensatory insulin surge. Insulin causes cells to take in this free glucose for storage. Once glucose taken into cells, we are left with no free energy source in blood stream, causing us to suffer an energy crisis, commonly referred to as a “sugar crash.” Since out brain cells do not have a way to store glucose for use in such an energy crisis, our brain “starves” and we suffer symptoms of weakness, confusion and headaches.  My advice, skip these food choices and focus on the nutritionally rich sources, offering you vitamins, proteins, complex carbs and nurturing fats.

avoid high processed sugar food

avoid sugar and processed food

FOODS TO CORRECT YOUR MOOD: For a Stabilized, Content and Relaxed Mind

Seek out:

  • Tryptophan to decrease anxiety and increase sense of wellbeing
    • Tryptophan is the amino acid building block to serotonin, our happy and relaxing NT.
    • Bananas, turkey, egg yolk, hazelnuts, beans and cheese are great sources of tryptophan.
    • To benefit from tryptophan we must balance with a serving of a healthy carbohydrate. The problem lies in the same high protein foods rich in tryptophan may also be great sources of tyrosine, the energizing NT precursor. To make sure we benefit from tryptophan and are not affected by the presence of the tyrosine, we need the accompanying carbohydrate.
tryptophan balance

tryptophan balanced meal

How does the carbohydrate help tryptophan stimulate inhibitory or relaxing NTs and prevent tyrosine over stimulating the excitatory NTs??

  • The carbohydrate triggers insulin release to divert other amino acids from brain so tryptophan can gain access to the receptors it needs to, to get converted into serotonin. As I explained before serotonin is a inhibitory neurotransmitter which promotes balanced mood and a general state of well-being.
  • Getting a good source of tryptophan to brain can result in a natural, non-medicated way to help decrease anxiety, decrease pain leading to more rational behaviors and mood. 
  • Tryphtophan rich foods accompanied by a healthy carb snack can also set the mood for easy sleep induction! Melatonin, an important hormone in sleep the sleep/wake cycle regulation, is made from serotonin.  A lack of seratonin, may therefore, contribute to sleeping problems. Please see my post on Beauty Sleep here for more insight on ways to get restorative sleep.

**Diet Tip:

Dieters beware!! A strict no –carb diet will most definitely result in a very unhappy, and difficult to deal with, individual. By not supplying your body with normal trigger for insulin release (the carb), you are basically limiting production of serotonin. No wonder No Carb= No Fun!! The anxiety usually results in increased appetite and foul mood. Take a break and eat a whole grain toast with a slice of low fat cheese or a whole grain pita with some hummus!

perfect mood stabilizer meal

dieters escape from moodiness

  • L-glutamine to induce relaxation
    • L glutamine is an amino acid precursor for GABA, our relaxation NT.
    • Pork, beef, sesame and sunflower seeds are good sources of this.

**Diet tip:

Seeking a more hearty way on a cold day to relax? Try a beef or pork based dish accompanied with a sesame garnish and brown rice pasta.

pork, sesame brown rice pasta

fighting stress with a nutritious and satisfying meal

    • Selenium to decrease irritability and moodiness
      • Selenium is a mineral which works with vitamin E to assist in serotonin production. Also has shown to prevent toxicity from exposure to certain metals (by binding to them and producing nontoxic forms and preventing neurotoxicity)
      • Deficiency in Selenium contribute to irritability
      • Sources include tuna, tomatoes, eggs, and broccoli and sunflower seeds.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids to stabilize mood and sharpen mind
    • Omega 3s have shown to improve the communication between brain cells by improving the conductivity of the brain medium through which NTs must travel through.
    • Omega 3s increase levels of available serotonin.
    • Supplementation linked to better mood and memory.
    • Sources include cold water fish, such as cod and salmon, flax seed and olive oil.
salmon for omega 3
Salmon is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Phenylethylamine to lift spirt and calm mind
    • PEA is a small neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that’s actions include stimulating release of norepinephrine and dopamine.
    • Chocolate, especially dark organic types are good sources of this!!!! Although the normal metabolism of chocolate limits the concentration of active PEA available to brain, purer sources of cocoa do offer us some PEA benefits.
    organic dark chocolate

    organic dark chocolate

    • To avoid the high sugar effects of milk chocolate and to benefit from maximum availability of PEA try a bit of dark chocolate as your desert choice… studies have proven it can simulate better mood and soothe at the same time! Hurray!!

**Diet Tip:

Noticing you may be starting your day off on the wrong foot?  Try a tuna salad with tomatoes and eggs or have a grilled fish with sautéed broccoli in olive oil with sunflower seeds.  If you need a snack, try some mixed some nuts. Avoid foods with high glycemic index such as pasta, white breads and sugary foods.  For a sweet desert my choice would the obvious few squares of dark chocolate!! (:

tuna salad tomatoes and sunflower seeds

fix moodiness with a balanced fresh diet

  • Caffeine to elevate depressed mood
    • Caffeine stimulates neurons to release excitatory NTs
    • Although too much caffeine can stimulate depletion of certain neurotransmitters and cause other mood issues such as irritability or anxiety, a little can help stimulate the nervous system just enough to get you out of your blues.
    • Try a nice cup of green tea over coffee. Green tea is a vasodilator (improves circulation) and an antioxidant and therefore, has more benefits over coffee.
    organic green tea

    Clippers organic green tea….pure bliss!

    • If you choose to have coffee as your caffeine source, don’t surpass a 2 cup serving as it could bring about negative physical and mental symptoms.
    • Folic Acid (vitamin B9) to prevent depression
      • Studies show link between low folic acid levels and subsequent lower brain serotonin levels. This is hypothesized to be because of folic acids role in the production of a vital serotonin precursor know as S-adenosyl-methionine.
      • Low levels of folic acid are more commonly seen in depressed and psychiatric patients. Studies show patients supplemented with  200 mg of folic acid greatly improved feeling of overall wellness.
      • Good sources of folic acid found in papaya, oranges, grapefruits, avocado, asparagus, beets, spinach (or other green leafy veggies), soybeans, peanuts and turkey.

**Diet tip:

Feeling like you might need food remedy to help with depressed mood? Try starting the day with a cup of green tea and an papaya, orange and grapefruit salad. Lunch can include a turkey or avocado whole grain sandwich with spinach salad.

fruit salad papaya grapefruit

happy breakfast bowl

 

The Bottom Line/Summary

The proper release of these neurotransmitters,(NTs), is key in giving us the control we desire over our mood and rational mind. Since our diet supplies the body with the key elements for NT production and balance…we need to pay more attention to what we eat! By choosing wisely what eat, we have a better chance at predicting what our day might be like. Our meal plans may shape the days productivity level, your likability and overall effectiveness.

All this said, remember, food are not the only things that can affect NT levels and healthy balance. Stress can cause neurons to release excess excitatory NTs. Anything hindering digestion, (food allergies, inflammatory reactions, undigested food, lack of certain digestive enzymes etc.), can inhibit the way we absorb nutrients necessary to make certain NTs.  Digestion, is especially important for serotonin presence and activity in the body as approximately 90% is produced in your gut and must be reabsorbed across a healthy intestinal wall  in order for the body to be able to utilize it. An inflamed gut could limit absorption of serotonin and therefore contribute to depressed and anxious mood. Chronic excess of alcohol, drugs, toxins, metals and medications can also effect digestion and absorption of many NTs or alternately act directly on neuron receptors to inhibit their action. Appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals, are needed for both production and release of NTs. Hormone imbalances can cause NT imbalances by affecting both production and release.

foods that destablize mood

foods that destabilize mood… use coffee and chocolate in small doses and in emergencies only!!

NT balance may seem complex but if we in general lead a healthy life style and keep stress at bay, we should be able to take control of our energy levels and mood by simply controlling our diets!

If you feel persistently overly moody, irritable and nervous, you should see your doctor. Ask about testing your NT levels.  This test is easy, safe and most often covered by insurance. With luck, your doctor will attempt amino acid supplementation to balance your NT imbalance prior to using medications (which have their own dangerous side effects)!

My Ultimate Diet Tip? Next time think twice prior to reaching for that doughnut or greasy fast food item! These foods may seem necessary to relieve your distress but, remember, as much joy as it may bring you in that instant, its consumption will surely add on to your list of troubles. Along with the extra weight and health problems, these non-nutritious foods will leave you with additional anxieties, irritated and less prepared to make the right choices.  So do yourself and everyone around you a favor….reach for an apple, get a massage, go for a run or hug a friend!  You will thank yourself later!

kick out the junk

kick out the junk… and say hello to an improve you!

Cheers to feeling happy, relaxed and more productive!

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 beauty sleep man

Eventually, we all come to realize what are elders have been communicating to us for over generations…no beauty regimen can compensate for a healthy sleep routine. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is vital for adults to receive between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night.  The scary fact is that chronic sleep deprivation takes a toll not only on the way we look but our overall wellbeing and function. Almost immediately, a week of sleep deprivation results in an impaired memory, decreased productivity, irrational thinking, mood swings and in general low energy levels. With time, lack of sleep translates to stress in the body, leading to weight gain, hair loss, bad skin and low immunity.  Health issues linked with chronic sleep deprivation include depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke.

sleep deprivation

To make matters worse, once we realize the importance of sleep has on our livelihood and sanity we often let the pressure of sleeping cause us additional anxiety. This anxiety serves only to worsen our sleep impairment! There are ways we can take action and stop worrying about quality sleep. By implementing some rituals around bedtime, surrounding ourselves with soothing elements and avoiding what may contribute erroneous bodily signaling, we can encourage longer and more restful sleep.

Below I list the key players affecting sleep patterns.  I also list some suggestions as to what we can do to cultivate the right sleep formula for ultimate health and beauty.

Activity

Your level of activity, especially around bed time can greatly affect your ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night. We want to stay active throughout the day and start winding down as we approach bedtime. Here are some guidelines about which activities should be avoided and sought out as we approach nighttime.

  • Avoid stimulating activities 3 hours prior to bed.
    •  High intensity exercise close to bedtime such as boxing and running may give you more energy just when you need less.  Too close to bed time, these excersies may be translated by your body as strenuous and  result in increase alertness and body temperature,  making sleep induction more difficult.
    • Stressful work can negatively affect sleep. Unless you job involves singing, painting or playing with children, try to refrain from it prior to bedtime.
    • Difficult conversations with your friends, spouse, family or others late in the day can attribute to sleep difficulties. These are the type of issues that translate to stress and will keep you up thinking all night.
    • Violent shows or news reports also have shown to agitate the mind and increase physiological stress making sleep more difficult.
  • Seek out relaxing activities as your day is coming to an end.
    • Reading a book and taking a bath do wonders for your mental state.
    • Use a pre-bed beauty routine or self-massage signal to your body sleep time is near.
    • Yoga has shown to induce on-command relaxation due to its ability to slow breath (slows neurological centers in brain) and reducing muscular tension.  A few yoga poses with concentration on the breath prior to bedtime can be used to transition your hectic day to peaceful night. Click here for some yoga poses beneficial for insomnia.

    sleepyoga

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
    • This will naturally set your circadian rhythm by offering environmental signals for pro-relaxation hormone release and temperature adjustment.

Diet

Foods can stimulate or calm depending on which metabolites provide to the body.

  • Avoid stimulants after 3 pm.
    • Stimulants include sources of caffeine (coffee, green tea), chocolate, high sugar foods, some types of pain relievers and diet pills.
    •  Heavy, fatty meals are also to be avoided as they require lots of energy to help appropriately digest them and may cause discomfort as your body is trying to unwind.
    • Alcohol decreases the time you spend in deep restorative sleep phase called REM sleep. You will wake up more easily to any stimulus and will awaken feeling as if you are still in need of sleep.
  • Seek out sources of the amino acid tryptophan combined with a carbohydrate rich snack prior to bed. Tryptophan is the precursor needed for serotonin production, the sleep and happy hormone and neurotransmitter. The carbohydrate assures insulin release which diverts other amino acids from brain so that tryptophan can have priorities over the receptors which are responsible for serotonin production and release.  There are a number of foods which contain tryptophan.
    • My favorite tryptophan sources for sleep time are chick peas, bananas, oatmeal, eggs,  peanuts,  low fat milk, cottage cheese or greek yogurt, unsweetened soy and miso soup.
    • Healthy carbohydrate complements could include a slice of whole grain toast, a half a cup of rice, half of a baked potato, or half a cup of unsweetened whole grain cereal.
    • Beans are both a great source of tryptophan and a great carbohydrate but can cause gas in sensitive stomachs. Meats also have tryptophan but create digestive challenges which could create discomfort.
  • Seek other foods encourage sleep by offering a low but natural source of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates our internal sleep wake cycle (synchronizes are circadian rhythm) and when high stimulates sleep.
    • Cherries, tomatoes, olive oil and walnuts are ideal foods to incorporate in your late night snack.
  • Seek out sources of magnesium which promote muscle relaxation and switch the body to rest and repair mode.
    • Bananas and almonds are amazing sources of this and perfect to combine in a pre-bed snack.

foods helping sleep

Some examples of ideal dinner/late night snack for a good night sleep? Try slice toast with sliced hardboiled egg and tomato drizzled with olive oil.  Other suggestions include hummus spread on whole grain pita with some cherries for dessert or small bowel or Irish oatmeal with bananas and unsweetened soy milk….. Get creative, think healthy, light and satisfying!

Aromatherapy

Although aromatherapy cannot cure the cause of your sleep problems it can help calm the mind so that you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Aroma therapies use essential scents from natural plant sources to alter ones mood, cognitive function or health.lavander aromatheraphy

  • Seek out chamomile, sandelwood, valerian and lavender oil. These oils have been used for centuries as natural sleep remedies. Spray or dab on pillow prior to bed or put a few drops in your pre-bed bath! Some of my favorite products include Perfect Potions Pure Essential OilsValerian and Hops Sleep Well Herbal Bath and the Thymes Lavander Candle and Wash.
  • Avoid cyprus, rosemary, peppermint, grapefruit and lemon oil scents prior to bed…these are great to get your mind sharp and concentrated but can be stimulating and make it difficult to sleep.

Supplements

When it comes to treating sleep problems, lifestyle adjustments are always  to be attempted prior to seeking out the help of supplements. Lifestyle adjustments aim at treating the cause of your sleep insufficiencies, are free of side effects and are much healthier for you in general. Supplementation however, may be the right choice for you if lifestyle adjustments have failed or you have specific work or traveling schedules which may require additional support. These are a few that I find the safest and most effective.  

  • Melatonin, as mentioned above, is a hormone the body produces naturally to induce sleep.

melatonin concentration

    • Supplementation at .3-.5mm (low doses) may be a safe and effective way to induce sleep for those who suffer from short term insomnia. Melatonin is released from the pineal gland in the brain around 9 pm every night. As its concentration builds it causes one to feel sleepy and therefore induce restful activity and preparation for sleep.
    • Those with hectic irregular schedules, who fly across time zones or have been watching too much late night TV may need to reboot their circadian rhythm with the help of melatonin. Light exposure disrupts the release of natural melatonin and therefore may be a source of sleeping issues.
    •  Since long-term supplementation or high dose melatonin in the blood can cause health problems it’s always best to consult your doctor and try and address lifestyle habits which could be affecting sleep first.
  • L-theanine is an amino acid which is naturally found in low dosed in green tea. It promotes a calm, balanced mood.
    •  Suntheanine is a brand of a supplement which provides an effective dose of pure L-theanine for a deeper night sleep.Suntheanine
  • Valerian is an herbal supplement which when taken in doses of 200-8-00 mg prior to sleep can help provide you with a deeper quality sleep.
    • This is one of the oldest well studied sleep remedies with virtually no side effects when used correctly. The two downfalls are 1) it may take a week or two to gain the full  benefits supplementation and 2) in 10% of patients valerian may cause alertness (not relaxation) and therefore make sleep induction even more difficult! ….I suggest trying this out on a weekend!

Environmental Influences

  • Seek out an hour of morning sunlight to initiate onset of day time bodily functions.  Healthy exposure to daylight is imperative to create a healthy wake sleep cycle. Those who go to work before the sun comes out and arrive as it is already setting may be missing out on the correct dosage needed to naturally cue the bodies’ circadian rhythm.
  • For those who cannot change jobs or who work from home in a climate which offers little daylight…..full spectrum lights and sun alarms can be purchased to set healthy internal  sleep clocks.
  • Sun alarms can offer a natural easy way to set your internal wakeup and sleep rhythm and a gentle way to ease you out of bed in the morning.

  • Seek out and create sleep conductive environments. This translates to a dark, cool, quiet and comfortable room. Since we lose our ability to regulate extreme heat or cold during deep REM sleep we need to make sure the room is as close to ideal temperature for comfort and that we balance our clothes and bed dressing appropriately to balance temperature.
  • Avoid any source of light close to or during bedtime. This can inhibit pineal gland activation and therefore melatonin production resulting in inability to enter sleep.
    • Light exposure can include TV, computer or even bed clock exposure. Avoid these at all costs at least an hour prior to bedtime.

light and sleeping

The mind

Racing thoughts and uncontrollable obsessive thinking can keep us from sleeping. Women, especially have a hard time shutting down the brain prior to sleeping. This can result in a chronic sleep disturbance resulting in a compromise of both health and psychological wellbeing.

It’s very difficult to help yourself or anyone else suffering from this sleep neurosis. Figuring out what to do to stop worrying can be overwhelming. Life never ceases to test us and to give us new problems for which we feel we must endlessly ponder.  It’s up to us to learn to manage and calm our mind so it doesn’t negatively affect our health. Here are some tips for a calming the mind:

  • Keep a notebook by your bedside. Write down your list of things to do prior to bed. Also use to jot down additional concerns or worries and even some thought to make lists of solutions. If something keeping you up write it down to contemplate at a time during the day.
  • Make plans to talk to someone who can understand or at least sympathize. Again, if possible, best to make this a breakfast or lunch time appointment.
  • Try Acupuncture …it worked for me! Prior to moving to Europe I felt overwhelmed with uncertainness, excitement and guilt for leaving people I loved behind. Acupuncture helped calm my nervous system so I could channel my concerns and deal with them in a more organized way.

accuputure and sleep

  • Meditate prior to bed. Mediation is the ideal way to calm the mind and stop unhealthy thought processes which may interfere with sleep induction.
  •  How to meditate? Sit cross legged and comfortably on the floor in a quiet room. Turn off the phone and other source of distraction. Sit up straight, relax and focus on breathing slowly and deeply. Focus on a specific point or close your eyes and attempt to visualize a place which calms you. Begin to count breaths 1-10 repeatedly until no thoughts intrude your mind. With time, the necessity to count will go away and you will be able to enjoy the benefits of giving your mind a break prior to bed time.  Set a timer form 5-10 minutes to make sure you are not thinking about the time you have left.

meditation in pjs

  • According to Harvard Medical School research,  practices like mediation and yoga activated disease fighting genes decreasing incidence of sickness, cancer and inflammation related pain. Other, studies have shown mediation has a direct link to higher immunity, increase fertility, emotional balance, lower blood pressure and calmness.

Other Factors

Increasing age is NOT considered a reason to sleep poorly. It is most often associated with underlying health problem, less than ideal lifestyle habits or stress management. Below are a few of the reasons why aging adults tend to suffer from sleeping issues. If you have tried to modify your lifestyle and still find it difficult to sleep, see your medical doctor to rule out some of these factors.

  • Hot flashes cause fluctuations in temperature and therefore can cause difficulty in both sleep induction and ability to stay asleep. Hot flashes are a symptom of  irregular hormone surges and are many times suffered by peri-menopausal women and other disorders interrupting hormone regulation.
  • Medications are the root cause of many types of sleep disorders. This should be one of the first things evaluated if a medicated person complaining of sleep disturbances.
  • Snoring is, according to the national sleep foundation, a primary cause of sleep problems in a large percentage of ageing and overweight adults. This is an especially alarming if it is a symptom of a disorder associated with high blood pressure and other health concerns called Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
  • Disorders such as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), OSA and Gasteroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also be major causes of sleep disruption.
  • Psychiatric illnesses are almost always related to sleep disturbances. Depression is the most common psychiatric illness affecting both our energy levels and sleep patterns.
  • Napping frequently during the day, may be a major cause in a person’s ability to get the restorative sleep they need at night. It can many times cause a vicious cycle where one who is not sleeping well during the night becomes exhausted during the day and, as a consequence, requires daytime naps, further attributing to their night time insomnia.

 

So….What to do for the occasional sleepless night??

  • IF you CAN’T sleep and you find yourself lying awake at night. The worst thing you CAN do is to continue lying there….this will just further increase sleep anxiety!
  •   I suggest…. get up, jot down any annoying thoughts, warm up a glass of milk with honey, drink it and put on some light music till you get tired. Alternatively, you could read a relaxing book with a soft light, try a few stretches or yoga moves.  Try and relax and not to stress about not sleeping…it will just make matters worse! Hopefully you will be falling into sleep mode shortly after a quick recharge!

reading and milk

When sleeping problems become frequent, it’s a sign that something in our life is unhealthy. Whether this may be a underlying disease process, poor diet, poor lifestyle (stress, smoking, alcohol abuse or other) or unhealthy relationship….we need to try and resolve it!

I hope that with this information I have inspired you to embark on a mission for better sleep! I know, I was inspired, at just the thought of writing this post! Born as an energetic type A personality, I have struggled with sleep issues for years.  Regular exercise, yoga and attempting to be as organized as possible have helped me achieve healthier sleep patterns.

As many of you can relate…the symphony of lifes hecticness (in my case three kids, a demanding job, and active lifestyle), requires the guidance of a good conductor to set the pace and keep the rhythm. By implementing good sleep habits, we are allowed to be the best conductors we can be! These habits enable us to make beautiful music every day, despite the noisy realities of life! The better equipped we are to maneuver life in a balanced harmonious way, the better environment we create for everyone around us to do the same. Sleep is one of the most essential ingredients needed to create this environmental harmony. It can, therefore, be said that the more of us who sleep well, the closer we may be to a smarter, better organized, less violent, healthier and happier world!

sleeping couple

3 Comments

Jelena Ley Petkovic Running2 Life is hectic. We live in a world where we are constantly attempting to multitask work, family, relationships and health. Most often, health becomes our last priority as we strive to complete our daily checklist of responsibilities. This means leaving meal planning, exercise and wellbeing practices as optional. As most of you can already guess…this is a terrible idea! Our health is an investment, which we need to make daily. We owe this to ourselves, our loved ones and even our employers. Healthy lifestyle habits increase our immunity, making us less prone to sickness. Exercise, good diet, stress relieve practices and even massages, which are mistakenly confused for pampering, allow us to function more energetically, positively and efficiently.
Through this blog, I mean to communicate with you some ideas of how to fit in your health practices in your daily life! I want you to feel empowered with the knowledge that it can be done, although may take some adjustments to you and your families scheduling priorities. Support each other in this important feat and you will live happier, healthier and more energetic lives!

A simple and easy first step is to find ways to start the day right! Most often we drag ourselves out of bed, head cloudy, exhausted and slow…. For those who need a gentle but efficient way to make your morning less traumatic, I mean to present you with a simple solution. The ABCs listed below, aim to give you a more balanced and energetic day. This can be done all while stimulating a more focused mind, a faster metabolism, stronger circulatory system and clam nervous system. Life…….. BRING IT ON!

Awaken the Nervous System and open your energy channels with a hand and foot massage. (5 min) In Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory, the body is composed of 12 main meridians or energetic channels maintain homeostasis. For more information on the application of these eastern therapies I contacted my beautiful and talented Eastern Medicine Savantess Elizabeth Zara in NYC . According to Liz, energy blockages caused by stress or illness can be associated with almost all health concerns. Disruption of flow along these channels can throw off our internal balance and affect not only energy levels but sense of general wellbeing, attitude, state of mind and way you deal with stress. These points can be unblocked or toned (balanced) by a fine acupuncture needle or with acupressure. Since these energy channels either begin or end in the hands or feet, acupressure massage done in these areas have an immense impact on our overall wellbeing and is an amazing way to induce the body’s natural self-curative processes. According to Liz, benefits of regular self-therapy includes stress relief, an enhanced immune system, increased circulation and cardiac function, decreased muscular tension and pain, tone the body’s natural energy sources and, in general, alleviate symptoms associated with aging. Your body will feel more balanced, your mind engaged, you will feel healthier and more energized … Sounds too good to be true? Try it….. I find its value in transitioning my sleep-self to day-self second to none. It is amazing how after only a few minutes of acupressure, you feel awake, strangely more relaxed and less stiff. Daily massage of the hands and feet are an ideal way to quickly activate and release built up tension in body! For more information about this ancient healing method and to find specific points which may target your specific needs Dr Micheal Reed Gach Ph.D has written some interesting, easy to follow books.

accupressure_hand_palm_healthaccupressure_foot_health

  • Intermission: Wash face quickly, brush teeth and apply sunscreen to face, chest and hands.

Balance your mind to your body by going for a 30 min brisk walk or jog.  This is a great way to get your systems juicing! By this, I mean hormones flowing, enzymes activated and muscles awakened. During this time pay attention to what your body maybe telling you. If some area feels stiff, tight or painful, think of what this may be related to and what you could do to avoid it in the future. This is also a great opportunity to gather and organize your thoughts and plans for the day.

  • Intermission: At the end of your small cardio session, stretch out what you had perceived as sore or tight. (5 min) Remember to be gentle and breathe deeply and slowly while you stretch. Try holding stretched for at least 10 seconds to allow the body to make appropriate adjustments. Stretching has shown to calm the nervous system and relieve stress… Enjoy it!

Center gravity away from your feet. (10 min) Revive your circulatory system and direct blood towards your brain with an inversion! This may sound a bit wacky but the power of this is irrefutable. Inversions are used by yogis for centuries to give the circulatory system and inferior half of the body a well-deserved rest. I have practiced some form of yoga for the past 8 years and had the pleasure of learning the benefits of inversions from some of the best yogis around town. Gurus of Ashtanga such as Ananda Zorzo and Bikram Yoga, Myriana Pahmier, alike, agree on the benefits of such practices. Our leg veins are usually working in overtime to pump blood furthest away from heart back up against gravity to get re-oxygenated and dispose of the waste it has gathered along the way. Leg vein appearance and pain related to leg vein insufficiency can be combated simply by incorporating, along with certain exercises, some relief from gravity. Inversions are a great way to offer this relief. Inversions also give the brain a surplus of oxygen and nutrient rich blood, and furthermore stimulate the pituitary and thyroid gland to balance hormones and improve metabolism. As a result of this practice we can benefit from, lighter, prettier, relaxed legs, a focused, calm mind and better metabolism…. I love it! There are many levels of inversions but the most simple and safe version I will advocate here is, in yoga, referred to as Legs-up-wall pose or Viparita Karani ,consists of lying flat on your back while allowing your legs to lay flat up against the wall. Place your arms gently at your sides with your palms up and breath deeply, slowly and freely.

legs up wall pose

headstand

For those experienced yogisthere are Shoulderstand -Sarvangasana-, Headstand Salamba -Sirsasana.. These advanced inversions can be dangerous if you have history of high blood pressure, retinal detachment, slipped discs, anklyosing spondylitis,
cervical neck issues, hernias or vertigo. For this reason make sure to check with your doctor and practice with your certified yoga instructor before attempting these positions.

  • Additional thoughts: As you have noticed I did not include eating in the above protocol…..hold off until after you have showered and dressed and have something healthy and light planned out. Breakfast is important but not at all costs. Fruit, herbal tea and egg and some form of oats are my favorite breakfast picks. These are, for most of us, easy to digest, filling and nutritive. Coffee or green tea is essential for many but make sure your body is ready for it prior to making your desperate sprint. Maybe wait until you have had your mid-morning bite prior to indulging your caffeine crave. Don’t fret about losing about your early morning energy source as our rejuvenation protocol should have given you enough fuel to get you up and out the door!

I also want to mention that really any form of exercise can serve to mentally and physically prepare you for your day. It just needs to be something that doesn’t stress you, is balanced and meets your objectives. If you feel up for it, do a yoga, boxing or Pilates class but for the days not possible, go for a balance and energy routine similar to the one I prescribed above. If you wait for the end of the day to be good to you, chances are you will have forfeited your right to all other priorities, people and unforeseen circumstances. Seize the day and actively equip your mind and body for all the day might bring!

4 Comments
Jelena Ley Petkovic PAC MMS

The process of aging elegantly includes a mixture of techniques including the right diet and lifestyle habits and a multitude of preventative and therapeutic practices. With such a variety of advice and promises it may be difficult to merge them and create a formula you can apply in your daily life. An even more difficult task maybe how to assure responsible economic and safe consumption of aesthetic procedures and treatments.

I have already personally and professionally dedicated my life to this mission to preserve youth by restoring overall health. To often we attempt to correct our aesthetic concerns at sake of our wellbeing, this leaves us dealing with a cycle of reoccurring obsessions about our appearance and never really addressing the source of our concerns! I hope you find my experiences helpful in cultivating your own impressions and practices to look your best at any age.  I have sought out global ideas of youth preservation and Anti-Ageing techniques and hope to present them to you in an entertaining way in this blog.

Cheers and Enjoy!

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