Newsletters Archive

The Health and Wellness Letter - November 2007

November 2007, Vol. 1 No. 5

In This Issue

Tips For Managing Stress
Health Stories in the News
 
Tips for Managing Stress
Last month, we discussed why stress is the number one cause of disease This month, let's explore a variety of simple, yet highly effective self-care exercises you can do to keep stress at bay.
Three of the biggest areas of your life that you can take charge of in order to minimize stress are diet and nutrition, lifestyle choices, and sleep. A variety of relaxation exercises can also be helpful.
Diet and Nutrition: Many people fail to realize that poor diet and nutritional deficiencies can not only significantly increase the effects of stress, they can also be primary causes of stress. In addition, poor diet nutritional imbalances can trigger food allergies andsensitivities, and lead to anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity, all of which, in turn, can create additional feelings of stress. One of the ways in which the human body is designed to cope with stress is through healthy brain function. That's why it's so important to eat a healthy diet. Here are some dietary recommendations that you can follow to ensure healthy eating.
Emphasize fresh, organic foods in your diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and free-range, organic meats and poultry, as well as wild caught fish that are rich in essential fatty acids, such as sardines and salmon. Also be sure to drink plenty of pure, filtered water throughout the day, and minimize your alcohol intake to no more than one glass of red wine or beer per day. Also avoid caffeine, food additives, sugar, sodas, and simple carbohydrates.
In addition, be sure to not skip breakfast, as doing so can add to stress levels by making you more tired and irritable. Starting your day off with a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast will provide you with more energy, which in turn can lead to an improved mood that makes it easier to cope with stressful situations should they arise during the rest of your day.
If you suffer from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), you may be particularly prone to stress due to the low energy levels and muddled thinking problems that blood sugar fluctuations can cause. Hypoglycemia can be resolved by following a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. In addition, eat five smaller meals per day instead of the tradition three meals. If you feel hungry between meals, you can snack on high quality protein bars. Restrict your fruit intake, due to the natural sugars fruits contain, andfollow the above dietary guidelines for best results.
The following nutrients can also improve your ability to cope with stress: vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, in conjunction with a multivitamin/multimineral formula. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are also important, especially omega-3 oils.
Lifestyle Choices: Your lifestyle choices play a big role in how much or how little stress you are exposed to each day. Here are some guidelines for making your daily routine more stress-free:
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes for a minimum of three days each week.
  • Schedule your day so that you have free time to relax and spend with your loved ones.
  • Find a hobby you enjoy and commit to pursuing it on a regular basis
  • Know what's most essential and important in your life and commit yourself that instead of wasting time on matters that are unimportant.
  • Identify your fears and worries and examine them objectively. In most cases, you will find doing so will make them far less significant and much more manageable.
  • Set up your daily schedule so that you have plenty of time to devote to your daily tasks, instead of having to hurry to meet your responsibilities.
  • Don't be afraid of compromising, especially about matters that aren't significant.
  • Once you decide to do something, act on it as soon as possible. Hesitations about taking action can dramatically ramp up your stress levels.
  • Cultivate laughter in your daily life and make a conscious effort to find the humor in things.
  • Make a commitment to yourself and those you care about to be more loving.
  • Avoid long periods of isolation, especially if you live alone. Seek out and enjoy your friends and loved ones.
  • Regularly engage in relaxation exercises and/or meditation.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, andbe assertive in the requests you make so that you are treated with respect and taken seriously by others.
Sleep: In recent years, the United States has increasingly become a sleep-deprived nation. Not only is this one of the main reasons why our population as a whole is becoming sicker, it also helps to explain why stress is also becoming a growing problem. To help minimize the effects of sleep, be sure to get enough sleep and go to bed at the same time each night. Doing so will help your body to release the tensions of the day and enable you to get up the next day feeling alert and re-energized.
Relaxation Exercises: Practicing exercises that help your body and mind to relax can quickly release feelings of stress and tension. Here is an example of a relaxation exercise that you can easily make part of your daily health routine:
Sit in a quiet room with dim lighting, with your feet flat on the ground.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Gently begin to breathe deeply in and out from your belly.
Each time you exhale, mentally tell yourself, "Relax." Do this for a few moments, until you feel a wave of relaxation starting to move through your body.
Now place your attention on your head, jaw, and face. As you continue breathing, direct the wave of relaxation throughout all of the muscles of your face and jaw, including those of the eyes, then over your scalp and along your head, down to the base of your neck.
Repeat this process with each remaining part of your body, beginning with your shoulders, back, arms, and hands, then moving down to your chest, abdomen, pelvis, thighs and upper legs, calves, ankles, feet, and toes. Be sure each area of your body becomes more relaxed before you move your attention to the next area.
Once you have proceeded all the way to your toes, continue to sit with your eyes closed for a few more minutes, still breathing gently in and out of your belly, allowing your feelings of relaxation to deepen.
Just before you open your eyes, allow your breathing to become deeper and fuller, feeling a wave of energy passing through you.
Once you feel vitalized, open your eyes and return to your daily activities.
By incorporating the above recommendations into your daily life, you will soon start to notice that stress no longer affects you in the same way. The key to successfully coping with stress is to make a commitment to yourself to do what is necessary and proper for your overall health. The more you do so, the more stress-free you will become.
 
Health Stories in the News
Honey Proposed As Alternative To Antibiotics For Treating Wounds. Due to the rising resistance of bacteria to antibiotic drugs, health officials are seeking viable alternatives to such drugs for treating a variety of health problems, including wounds, which are susceptible to bacterial infections. A recent study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice indicates that one option is honey. According to Dr. Fasal Rauf Khan of North West Wales National Health Service Trust, leading author of the study, honey has a number of healing properties that make it effective against bacterial infections, including the fact that it is rich in gluconic acid, which creates an acidic environment andhydrogen peroxide, both of which make it difficult for bacteria to thrive. Dr. Khan adds that honey has been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling and appears well-suited for healing wounds, including those caused by laparoscopic surgery to remove cancerous tumors. In addition, honey never spoils. "Researchers started to document the wound healing properties of honey in the early 20th century, but the introduction of antibiotics in 1940 temporarily halted its use," Dr. Khan says. With the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, perhaps the time has come to reconsider honey's healing benefits.
Source: "Honey, the ancient healer, makes a comeback." United Press International. September 18, 2007.
Chinese Herbs Better Than Drugs for Easing Menstrual Pain. A recently published study of approximately 3,500 women has found that the use of Chinese herbs are more effective for managing and relieving the symptoms of menstrual cramps andother pains caused by menstruation than drugs, heat compresses, or acupuncture. The researchers found that Chinese "herbs not only relieved pain, but reduced the recurrence of the condition over three months."
"All available measures of effectiveness confirmed the overall superiority of Chinese herbal medicine to placebo, no treatment, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), OCPs (oral contraceptive pill), acupuncture and heat compression," said lead author Xiaoshu Zhu of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.
In the study, the women were provided with herbal remedies that regulated their qi (energy) and blood, warmed their bodies, and boosted their kidney and liver functions. The herbs used included Chinese angelica root (Dong quai), Szechuan lovage root, red and white peony root, Chinese motherwort, fennel fruit, licorice root, and cinnamon bark.
Source: "Herbs 'more helpful' than drugs for period pain." Reuters. October 17, 2007.

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