Healthy Is Adding Rhythm

Healthy Is Adding Rhythm

Did you know that the 2017 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology was given to researchers who proved that every cell in the body has a circadian (daily) clock?

In other words, these researchers discovered that we all operate best and are at our healthiest when our bodies and minds find rhythm each day.

“For many years we have known that living organisms, including humans, have an internal, biological clock that helps them anticipate and adapt to the regular rhythm of the day,” said Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young, the researchers who were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings. “Our discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions.” – NobelPrize.org

The research from this Nobel Prize shows that our bodies and minds work at their optimum levels when the peripheral clocks in all of the cells of the body are synced well with the master clock in our brain through our daily behaviors.  More succinctly: they discovered that every cell in our body works best when we Add Rhythm to our lives.

That’s why this month, we are focusing on monthly challenges that Add Rhythm to your life and allow your body to restore itself to optimal health.

Challenge 1: Healthy Is a Sleep Date

Our “Healthy Is a Sleep Date” challenge teaches you how to create an optimal “warm-up” to achieve better sleep.

There is perhaps no behavior more powerful in syncing your daily rhythms than prioritizing quality sleep.  Take, for example, sleep’s drastic effect on something as important to your health as your immune system.

Sleep has substantial regulatory effects on the immune system. And it does so in a rhythmical manner. Circulating immune cells peak early in the night and then slowly make their way into lymphoid organs where they get to work ridding your body of virally infected cells. Lack of sleep for just one night not only reduces the ability of your body to fight current infections, but it can also reduce your natural killer (NK) cell count by 70%! That’s not good news, because NK cells – a type of white blood cells – help keep us safe from both acute diseases, like the cold and flu, as well as chronic diseases like cancer.

But, if you resume sleeping 7+ hours per night, then in just one night NK cell activity can return to its baseline level. Additionally, getting 7+ hours of quality sleep leading up to something like a flu shot can help you produce double the amount of antibodies, making the shot even more effective!

Sleep is critical for every major system in the body:

 

  • Memory improves by over 60% after a good night’s sleep;
  • body composition, weight, and your diabetic profile (your body’s ability to regulate glucose) are all negatively altered by less than 6 hours of sleep;
  • muscle mass, testosterone, and growth hormone are all influenced by sleep; &
  • your thyroid, adrenal hormones, & ultimately your entire hormone axis are all affected by your sleep patterns!

Challenge 2: Healthy Is 15 Minutes of “Me Time”

When was the last time you did something that allowed you to take a break and feel truly relaxed?

Taking time to do something relaxing and enjoyable for yourself is not just a “good idea,” it’s actually as important to your health as exercising, sleeping, and eating healthy.

A lot of us spend most of our day in fight or flight mode and releasing excess cortisol because we are responding to the many stressors that come our way each day. When cortisol levels from chronic stress stay very high for extended periods of time, research shows that:

  • Risk of chronic disease, chronic inflammation, and immune dysfunction are all heightened.
  • Muscular strength, energy levels, and sex drive are all negatively affected.
  • Weight gain, inability to lose weight, and sleep disruption occur more often.

You can reverse these negative trends by activating a different part of your nervous system and de-stressing your body by adding rhythm with 15 minutes of “me time” every day.

Challenge 3: Healthy Is Spending Time in Nature

As cities have grown larger, our worlds have grown smaller; so small that we can do most of our work on a device that fits in our pockets. We are spending less time outdoors while experiencing more muscle aches, headaches, and increased stress with the demands of being available at all hours of the day.

Research shows that spending a little time each day surrounded by nature has been proven to improve mental health and boost your immune system. In fact, simply taking a walk in a park can reverse many of the effects of things like screen time and can give you other benefits such as:

  • Boost your body’s natural immune system
  • Improve creativity
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Reduce mental fatigue
  • Reduce the impact of stress
  • Mitigate the impact of dementia, anxiety, and other mental health diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease

This month it’s time to get reattached to nature and adding rhythm to your life by implementing a dose of the “nature cure.”

Which one of these are you planning to implement this month? Come see us at one of our September events and let us know!

Healthy Is a Digital Fast

Healthy Is a Digital Fast

Our digital devices make us more connected than ever. However, the amount of time and frequency with which we’re using them may be causing more health issues than we realize.

WHY IT MATTERS

“There’s no denying that technology is convenient – indeed that is the whole point of it. It is far easier to keep in touch, to plan things ahead, and to multi-task with the help of it. But this almost complete reliance on technology is also making us suffer by introducing changes in our brain and body functions.” – Jim Kwik

It’s true. Our reliance on technology is introducing changes in our brain and body, and some of them are starting right when we wake up.

Consider the fact that 80% of us check our phones within 15 minutes of waking up.  The problem with this is that as you wake up the brain should naturally roll from delta waves (deeper sleep) to theta (daydreaming) to alpha (awake and relaxed) to finally beta waves (alert and looking for stressors).

However, when you look at your phone which contains messages, emails, notifications, etc., all of which the brain views as possible “threats,” it means your brain skips straight from delta to beta. Thus, robbing it of the priming it needs to appropriately align everything in the body: from your stress hormones, to your heart rate, to your neurotransmitters, to even the way your synapses are firing in the brain.

Just like you can reap the benefits of being in a fasted state from food when you wake up in the morning by allowing your body to burn some more fat if you wait a short time before eating, you can also reap the benefits of being “fasted” from your digital devices in the morning by taking advantage of the creative state your brain is in.  This is about health and about control, because smartphones make a good servant, but a bad master!

Start a daily digital fast.

STEP 1: WAIT ONE HOUR BEFORE LOOKING AT YOUR DEVICES EVERY MORNING

Just doing this one step can be a game-changer! Your brain is in one of its most creative and suggestable states first thing in the morning. Take advantage of this by writing out your intentions, working on a creative project, or doing something to advance your life goals.

Other great things to do that reduce stress and help your body / brain get into rhythm include: meditate, spend time with family (without your phone interruptions), go for a walk, mindfully make a cup of coffee, read, or just be present to your morning.

Charge your phone in another room, or make sure it’s on airplane mode. There are very few things in this world that can’t wait 60 minutes after your waking up to get your attention. Instead, give your morning attention and intention to the most important thing you can: yourself!

STEP 2: ADD ON OTHER TECHNIQUES
  • Don’t look at your phone while you’re eating
  • Have rooms in the house where technology is not allowed (i.e. kitchen, dining room, bedroom)
  • Take larger technology breaks (4 hours or more of no technology) every weekend
  • Take a digital-free vacation
  • Don’t use digital devices to take breaks
Learn to be more present and get more out of every moment with a daily digital fast!
Healthy Is Eating Your Water

Healthy Is Eating Your Water

Water is essential for your metabolism and the health of every cell in your body, but not all water is absorbed the same.

WHY IT MATTERS

Eating your water doesn’t mean chewing your actual water, though that could be an interesting future challenge. Before we get to what it means and how to implement it on the back side of this card, let’s give you a quick reminder of all the amazing things water is essential for in your body and why you need it every day. Water is the major component of most body parts, and it also:

 

  • Boosts your metabolism
  • Hydrates your skin
  • Regulates your body temperature
  • Helps deliver oxygen all over the body
  • Allows body’s cells to grow, reproduce and thrive
  • Acts as a shock absorber for the brain and your entire spinal cord
  • Helps the brain manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters
  • Lubricates joints
“Eating rather than drinking your water is a better way to hydrate cells.” – Dr. Howard Murad, dermatologist

How to eat your water:

When you consume water-rich foods, you absorb the water and nutrients more slowly because of the way the water is trapped in the structure of these foods. “Eating your water” means eating water-rich plants like cucumbers, romaine lettuce, zucchini, fresh berries and any of the numerous melons – all of which are over 90% water.

Eat your water first

Our favorite tip to implement! Just like grandma always said, start with your veggies before any meal. When you start your meals with water-rich foods – a.k.a. when you “eat your water first” – not only will you hydrate your cells better and boost your metabolism, but you’ll also reduce your blood sugar spike for any foods you consume after. Talk about a win-win!

Healthy Is Eating Real Food

Healthy Is Eating Real Food

To improve your mental and physical wellbeing and extend your healthspan, it’s important to eat real food!

This month, we spotlight the very important, foundational theme for your overall wellbeing. No matter where you are on your health journey, we all share this in common. It is imperative to eat real food!

Let’s start with a fun game: can you identify the foods with the following ingredients lists?

Food #1

enriched bleached wheat flour (flour, reduced iron, “b” vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate (b1), riboflavin (b2), folic acid)), water, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable and/or animal shortening (soybean, cottonseed and/or canola oil, beef fat), whole eggs, dextrose, contains 2% or less of: soy lecithin, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, cornstarch, and monocalcium phosphate), whey, modified corn starch, glucose, soy flour, salt, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, cornstarch, sodium stearoyl lactylate, natural and artificial flavor, sorbic acid (to retain freshness), polysorbate 60, soy protein isolate, calcium and sodium caseinate, yellow 5, red 40

Food #2

organic avocado

How’d you do? I’m guessing you were able to correctly identify the second food (avocado) from its ingredients list, but what about the first one? That could be frozen pizza dough, donuts, some type of cereal, can you tell? The difficulty is you CAN’T tell just from the ingredients list what you are about to ingest, because it’s NOT real food, it is a food-like substance. So, should we really be putting that into our bodies?

Our industrial food system drives many of the chronic disease problems we see today by enabling a national diet of sugary, starchy, overly processed, nutrient-depleted foods laden with pesticides, hormones, and other harmful chemicals.  Our goal this month is to begin reversing this trend we have of eating food-like items, and begin eating real food!

REAL FOOD IS FOUND IN NATURE AND IS FOOD THAT YOU CAN PICK, HUNT, OR GATHER. REAL FOOD HAS AN INGREDIENT LIST THAT IS ONE ITEM LONG, OR A COMBINATION OF ONE-ITEM INGREDIENTS.

Steak and eggs, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pecans, apples and cinnamon cooked in coconut oil… notice how you can pronounce all of those and know what they are? That’s real food!

Oh, and the answer to what is food #1 above? Twinkies. Which by the way, come in at 35 grams of sugar per single cake serving, so 70 grams of sugar for the package of two! Needless to say, Twinkies and most bake goods found in the store are significantly over our 8 grams of sugar per serving or less rule from our “Eliminate Ultra-Processed Foods” challenge!  And for sure NOT part of our “Eating Real Food” challenge for this month!

We all know that food can harm. We know that drinking soda and eating junk food is bad for us. But did you know that food can heal? Did you know that food can cure depression, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disease, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia?

FOOD IS MEDICINE.

Food is the most powerful drug on the planet! It can improve the expression of thousands of genes, balance dozens of hormones, optimize tens of thousands of protein networks, reduce inflammation, and optimize the microbiome in your gut with every single bite.

Food has been scientifically proven to cure most chronic diseases; it works faster, better, and cheaper than any drug ever discovered; and the only side effects to eating real food are good ones – prevention, reversal, and even treatment of disease.

Food exists specifically to energize, heal, and uplift us. Every bite you take is a powerful opportunity to create health or promote disease. We must connect the dots between what’s on our plate and our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Food is not just calories; it’s medicine!

Healthy Is Pain Relief: Part 2

Healthy Is Pain Relief: Part 2

“The fundamental concepts of mobility and stability are not hard to understand.  Mobility and stability must coexist to create efficient movement in the human body.” – Gray Cook, Athletic Body in Balance

Your body follows a pattern of mobility and stability that allows you to produce movement and freely move in a variety of planes to meet all of your daily, and athletic, tasks.

However, if you have pain hampering any of your joints, not only can it cause problems for your daily movement, but it can also start to cause even more dysfunctional movement patterns that will creep over to pain manifesting itself in other, surrounding joints.  Which is why this month we continue to push our series on relieving pain through movement!

Below are some of our favorite “movement snacks” that you can add to create lasting mobility and stability changes in your joints and relieve pain throughout your body.  You were designed to move! And you were designed to enjoy a life where movement occurs without pain!

Healthy Is Knee and Hip Relief

The infamous ACL injury is one of the most common in sports (100,000-200,000 per year). Interestingly, these injuries typically occur when no one touches the player. Why? One of the biggest clues to the puzzle is the joint right above the knee: the hip.

WHY IT MATTERS

Strong hips decrease the stress on the knees by controlling how the legs bend, twist, and pivot. Weak hips cannot stop the knees from moving into extremely stressful positions. For example, if an athlete’s knees cave inwards when landing from a jump there is a good chance they have weaker hips. Does the idea of strong hips hold true for other conditions like osteoarthritis? Yes! Strong hips can significantly decrease hip and knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Stronger hips help avoid knee and hip injuries and decrease symptoms when you already have knee and hip pain.

Healthy Is Shoulder Relief

Did you know that having good balance on one foot may decrease your chances of having an arm or shoulder injury? This is because every time we use our shoulders, we generate force through the core. In short, healthy shoulders start with a healthy core.

WHY IT MATTERS

Think about throwing a ball as far as you can. You most likely do not stand square to your target and just swing your arm in a circle. A successful throw has components like pivoting and pushing off your back foot while rotating your hips and torso forward to generate force. While throwing, the shoulder’s job is to have a smooth, circular motion that transfers the force generated from the core to the hand (most of the force generated should not come from the shoulder). A mobile yet stable shoulder, along with a strong core, helps you maintain your autonomy and independence.

Healthy Is Elbow Relief

Why is it called tennis elbow when only about 5% of cases are caused by playing tennis? What if you could get tennis elbow from playing golf, and golfer’s elbow from playing tennis? Well, you can. Confusing? Let’s make it simple.

WHY IT MATTERS

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) occurs when the outside of your elbow and muscles on the back of your forearm (wrist extensors) get irritated, whereas golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) is on the inside of the elbow (wrist flexors).

These issues occur when your muscles are not used to twisting and bending. This is why you can get tennis elbow from anything that excessively stresses the front of the forearm (e.g. carrying a suitcase) and golfer’s elbow from anything that excessively stresses the back of the forearm (e.g. painting).

Healthy Is Foot and Ankle Relief

As you look at your feet, most of us may notice our big and little toes tend to “bend” inwards towards each other. This issue is most likely due to the types of shoes we wear every day.

WHY IT MATTERS

The type of shoes you wear are vital to maintaining healthy feet and ankles.

Wide Toes:
Shoes with narrow toes are in fashion right now, but they are contributing to many foot issues that make activities painful. When the feet are held in a “squeezed” position all day our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints become tight and compressed, leading to issues like bunions and motor neuromas. Try finding shoes with a wide toe box.

Strong Arch:
A healthy arch is strong, providing all the support you need. When the feet are constantly supported they lose their strength. One of the most effective ways to strengthen your arches is by walking barefoot when you can, like at home.

Even Heel:
The elevated heel is contributing to issues like low back pain, knee pain, decreased ankle mobility, increased calf tightness, and painful feet. You want your heel the same height as your toes so your feet can find their most natural and comfortable position.

Healthy Is Hand and Wrist Relief

The human hand is unlike any other hand. Why? Not because of opposable thumbs (most primates have those), but rather because of extra thumb muscles no other species has. Simply put, the human hand makes life easy by being so complex.

WHY IT MATTERS

Try writing your name on a piece of paper without using your thumb. Chances are your penmanship is not nearly as neat. The brain requires more focus to move your hands than your legs. With so many hand and wrist complexities, we want to provide you with simple solutions that help them stay healthy.

Is one of these areas causing you pain? Check out this series of challenges at your next Healthy Is Wellness coaching session and learn about simple exercises to incorporate into your day to help you on your way to pain relief.

Healthy Is Pain Relief: Part 1

Healthy Is Pain Relief: Part 1

Over the next few weeks we’ll be exploring our pain relief series of challenges, starting with low back and neck pain relief. One of the main things we want you to think about as we talk about relieving pain is not “how do I achieve ‘perfect’ posture to eliminate pain;” but instead, think about “how much time do I spend in the same posture” (i.e. sitting at a desk typing, driving, leaning a certain way, etc.), as this affects your body chronically more than trying to achieve some magical, perfect posture.

As you read about these first two pain spots, keep this idea in mind of how you can use our suggestions to create micro-breaks from your day-to-day routines and postures that go with those routines. Sprinkling these exercises in throughout the day in that micro-break form is more important than trying to find a big chunk of time to do them all at once. Enjoy finding relief by trying these suggestions out, and adjust them to make them easier for yourself if needed. As we always say, small changes = big impacts.

Healthy Is Low Back Relief

The back was designed to absorb and distribute significant forces. By developing your back’s ability to absorb forces and work effectively with its teammates (hips, shoulders, and knees) you are able to enjoy life without pain knocking at your door.

WHY IT MATTERS

Back pain is one of the most prevalent issues currently affecting adults, and we commonly believe that these issues occur because we are told we have “slipped disks” or our backs are “out of place,” “misaligned,” and “degenerated.” Truth be told, many of the things we think of as abnormal are actually normal.

  • 68% of 40-year-olds who do not have back pain have signs of disk degeneration on imaging
  • 50% of 40-year-olds who do not have back pain have signs of disk bulging on imaging
  • 60% of back pain recovers in 1-3 weeks, 90% in 6-8 weeks, and 95% in 12 weeks

Most back pain recovers quickly. Your back is resilient, not fragile. Strengthen your low back with this modified plank, and check out our Healthy Is Low Back Relief challenge at your next Healthy Is Wellness coaching session for even more ideas.

Healthy Is Neck Relief

Ever try driving a car without moving your neck? The quick left-right check before turning is nearly impossible. Now try to also drive with a screaming headache on a busy road. This is what neck pain does: it stops us from moving and distracts our brains!

WHY IT MATTERS

Why is neck pain so common? Maybe because we have designed our lives to minimize how much we need to move our neck. Think about the longest duration you have used your computer, phone, or television and barely moved your neck. A long time! By frequently moving your neck you are avoiding pain by:

  • Providing joints with nutrients and removing waste
  • Increasing joint fluid that reduces friction
  • Building stronger muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Improving tissue flexibility
  • Avoiding vulnerable positions
  • Reducing muscle tension (which also helps avoid headaches and jaw pain)

Try out this exercise to start relieving neck tension, and check out our Healthy Is Neck Relief challenge at your next Healthy Is Wellness coaching session.