Thursday, December 5, 2019

Neuroscience Reveals: Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to be Happier

When you say “thank you”, do you really mean it or is it just politeness to which you give little attention? Neuroscientists have found that if you really feel it when you say it, you’ll be happier and healthier. The regular practice of expressing gratitude is not a New Age fad; it’s a facet of the human condition that reaps true benefits to those who mean it.
Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami published a study in 2015 that looked at the physical outcomes of practicing gratitude. One-third of the subjects in the study were asked to keep a daily journal of things that happened during the week for which they were grateful. Another third was asked to write down daily irritations or events that had displeased them. The last third of the group was asked to write down daily situations and events with no emphasis on either positive or negative emotional attachment. At the end of the 10-week study, each group was asked to record how they felt physically and generally about life.
The gratitude group reported feeling more optimistic and positive about their lives than the other groups. In addition, the gratitude group was more physically active and reported fewer visits to a doctor than those who wrote only about their negative experiences.    

Better Physical Health

Other research into the physical effects of gratitude report even more tangible results. Focusing on the positive and feeling grateful can improve your sleep quality and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.  Furthermore, levels of gratitude correlate to better moods and less fatigue and inflammation, reducing the risk of heart failure, even for those who are susceptible. 

Gratitude and Your Brain

The reasons why gratitude is so impactful to health and well-being begin in the brain. In a neurological experiment conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, brain activity was measured using magnetic resonance imaging as subjects were induced to feel gratitude by receiving gifts. The areas of the brain showing increased activity were the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex—those associated with moral and social cognition, reward, empathy, and value judgment. This led to the conclusion that the emotion of gratitude supports a positive and supportive attitude toward others and a feeling of relief from stressors.
Gratitude activates the hypothalamus as well, with downstream effects on metabolism, stress, and various behaviors.  The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain and regulates hormones responsible for many critical functions, such as body temperature, emotional responses, and survival functions like appetite and sleep. One of the neurochemicals associated with the parts of the brain affected by gratitude is dopamine, a pleasure hormone.  
The positive influence of gratitude on mental health continues past a particular event if the emotion is relived:
“…a simple gratitude writing intervention was associated with significantly greater and lasting neural sensitivity to gratitude–subjects who participated in gratitude letter writing showed both behavioral increases in gratitude and significantly greater neural modulation by gratitude in the medial prefrontal cortex three months later.” 
In fact, this lasting effect is psychologically protective. In adolescents, feelings of gratitude have shown an inverse correlation with bullying victimization and suicide risk.  Gratitude affects brain function on a chemical level and its practice promotes feelings of self-worth and compassion for others. 
   We can perceive and experience gratitude and its many characteristics in a very broad spectrum. Openness and willingness to experience gratitude affects not only the individual but her/his interpersonal relationships; a common strain in relationships is caused by repeated negative feedback by one or both partners without off-setting gratitude. 

3 Steps to Becoming More Grateful

In times of hardship or stress, it might seem difficult to be grateful. But if you really think about it, we all have something to be grateful for. If you engage in only one prayer, let it be simply a heartfelt “thank you”. Here are three easy ways to put yourself in the mindfulness of gratitude.
  1. Keep a daily journal of things you are grateful for—list at least three. The best times for writing in your journal are in the morning as your day begins or at night before sleep.
  2. Make it a point to tell people in your life what you appreciate about them on a daily basis.
  3. When you look in the mirror, give yourself a moment to think about a quality you like about yourself or something you have recently accomplished.                                   source                                                                                                                           
Through the power of gratitude, you can rewrite your brain to be optimistic and compassionate, making you feel good.  The more you look, the more you ca find to be grateful for.  This positivity can extend to those around you, creating a virtuous cycle.

If you need help writing a gratitude list or want to learn how to feed yourself and others better nutrition in your mind, your soul and your body, contact me and I will help you.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Nutritious Snacks To Beat Fatigue

Are you always tired and sleepy at work? These nutritious snacks can help beat office fatigue

Image: Are you always tired and sleepy at work? These nutritious snacks can help beat office fatigue
Work can take up a lot of your time and energy. If you need a quick boost, it’s tempting to just order a large cup of joe from the nearest coffee shop. But instead of drinking sugary coffee or energy drinks with harmful chemicals, it’s better to make your own nutritious, energy-boosting snacks that will keep you fueled, minus the added sugar and artificial flavors stabilize your blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, apples are a filling fruit because they’re fiber-rich and high in water. One medium-sized apple (182 g) is over 85 percent water, with over four grams of fiber.

Carrots and hummus

Hummus is a tasty dip made from chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and tahini. This dip goes well with carrots.
Hummus contains fiber, healthy fats, and protein and carrots are rich in beta carotene, a precursor for vitamin A that can strengthen your immunity and promote eye health.

Clementines and almonds

Clementines and almonds are a convenient and nutritious work snack. These foods contain fiber, healthy fats, and protein that can make you feel full longer.
A 74 g clementine contains at least 60 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C, which promotes wound healing and boosts your immunity.

Dried Fruits and Nuts

Make a healthy, non-perishable snack mix by combining dried fruit and nuts.
This superfood duo combines three macronutrients: Carbs from dried fruit and healthy fats and protein from nuts. Both foods are also full of fiber that will help you feel full between meals.

Greek yogurt

Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt is a healthy work snack. It also contains more protein than regular yogurt.
A six-ounce (170 g) container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt contains 17 g of protein and only 140 calories. Greek yogurt is also a great source of calcium, a mineral that keeps your bones and teeth healthy.
If you need a more filling snack, add a handful of fruits and nuts to your yogurt.

Hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are another convenient and healthy snack that you can enjoy during your break. A large egg (50 g) contains more than six grams of protein, along with nutrients like calcium, choline, and iron. Eggs also contain vitamins A, B6, B12, and D.

Homemade energy balls

Energy balls usually contain natural indgredients like nut butter, oats, a natural sweetener, and additional foods like dried fruit and coconut. These fiber-rich energy balls also contain healthy fats, protein, and some vitamins and minerals.
Make energy balls by combining the following ingredients:
  • 1 cup (80 g) of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (128 g) of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (45 g) of dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup (85 g) of honey
  • 2 tablespoons (14 g) of ground flax seeds
Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into bite-sized balls and store leftovers in an airtight container. Refrigerated energy balls will last for about two weeks.

Homemade granola

Prepare granola at home, then store it in an air-tight container on your desk so you always have a healthy, quick snack. Avoid store-bought varieties that contain added sugars and unhealthy vegetable oils that can aggravate inflammation.
To make granola, mix melted coconut oil and honey. Then, combine rolled oats, cashews, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries in the coconut oil and honey mix. Spread the mixture on a lined baking sheet and bake for at least 40 minutes at low heat. You can also use other nuts, seeds, and dried fruits if you wish.
These ingredients provide complex carbs, fiber, and healthy fats. Additionally, the soluble fiber in oats can help lower cholesterol levels and boost your heart health.
Make these snacks at home to save money and lower your intake of junk food that only contains empty calories. Eat healthy, energy-boosting snacks at work to improve your productivity.

(and Zoey Sky)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Healthy, Edible, Thanksgiving Decoration

For a real healthy hit this year, present this at your Thanksgiving dinner!  I'm going to make it with my two older grandchildren.  Make sure you buy organic.
God is blessing you.  Donna

Friday, October 25, 2019

6 Habits to Increase Your Mental Health

Life is a journey, not a destination, yet so many of us run non-stop, never taking time out for reflection and personal growth.   Mental health problems plague families of all races, belief systems, and socio-economic categories.  If your mental health is off, all of your health is off. 

1)   Mental health starts with spiritual health.  The way you feel about God says a lot about the way you feel about yourself.  Pay attention, get counseling if you are confused about your spiritual life.

2)   Begin each day without distractions. Pray (talk to God) and meditate (listen to God).

3)   Eat good, fresh, real food.  Avoid fast food, sugar, too much caffeine, and food dyes.  Read labels.  Your mental health will be directly affected by what you use to fuel your body.  

4)   Do not take drugs of any kind, except in an emergency.  All drugs, legal or not, will have side-effects that negatively affect your mental state. 

5)   Sleep.  You need 8 hours of sleep a night.  Sleep in a cool, dark room. 65-67 degrees is ideal. Wear an eye shield.  Drown out noise by using a fan app on your phone or a real fan. Turn off your internet router to protect your brain from EMFs (electromagnetic fields) while you sleep.  Make sure your phone is on airplane mode at night. 

6)   Find a chiropractor and get regular adjustments.  The main goal of a good chiropractor is to make sure your nervous system, through your spinal cord, is giving proper signals to all areas of your body; top (head) down.   An added benefit is less physical pain and injury, better balance, deeper sleep--a healthier you, in every way.

Need help? Contact me:

Saturday, September 7, 2019

10 High-Fat Foods That Are Super Healthy

Ever since fat was demonized, people started eating more sugar, refined carbs and processed foods instead.
As a result, the entire world has become fatter and sicker.
However, times are changing. Studies now show that fat, including saturated fat, isn't the devil it was made out to be (12Trusted Source).
All sorts of healthy foods that happen to contain fat have now returned to the "superfood" scene.
Here are 10 high-fat foods that are actually incredibly healthy and nutritious.
The avocado is different from most other fruits.
Whereas most fruits primarily contain carbs, avocados are loaded with fats.
In fact, avocados are about 77% fat, by calories, making them even higher in fat than most animal foods (3).The main fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This is also the predominant fatty acid in olive oil, associated with various health benefits (45Trusted Source).
Avocados are among the best sources of potassium in the diet, even containing 40% more potassium than bananas, a typical high potassium food.
They're also a great source of fiber, and studies have shown that they can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (the "good") cholesterol (6Trusted Source7Trusted Source8Trusted Source).
Even though they are high in fat and calories, one study shows that people who eat avocadostend to weigh less and have less belly fat than those who don't (9Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Avocados are a fruit, with fat at 77% of calories. They are an excellent source of potassium and fiber, and have been shown to have major benefits for cardiovascular health.
Cheese is incredibly nutritious.
This makes sense, given that an entire cup of milk is used to produce a single thick slice of cheese.
It is a great source of calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium, and contains all sorts of other nutrients (10).
It is also very rich in protein, with a single thick slice of cheese containing 6.7 grams of protein, same as a glass of milk.
Cheese, like other high-fat dairy products, also contains powerful fatty acids that have been linked to all sorts of benefits, including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (11Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Cheese is incredibly nutritious, and a single slice contains a similar amount of nutrients as a glass of milk. It is a great source of vitamins, minerals, quality proteins and healthy fats.
Dark chocolate is one of those rare health foods that actually taste incredible.
It is very high in fat, with fat at around 65% of calories.
Dark chocolate is 11% fiber and contains over 50% of the RDA for iron, magnesium, copper and manganese (12).
It is also loaded with antioxidants, so much that it is one of the highest scoring foods tested, even outranking blueberries (13).
Some of the antioxidants in it have potent biological activity, and can lower blood pressure and protect LDL cholesterol in the blood from becoming oxidized (1415Trusted Source).
Studies also show that people who eat dark chocolate 5 or more times per week are less than half as likely to die from heart disease, compared to people who don't eat dark chocolate (16Trusted Source17Trusted Source).
There are also some studies showing that dark chocolate can improve brain function, and protect your skin from damage when exposed to the sun (1819Trusted Source).
Just make sure to choose quality dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa.
BOTTOM LINE:Dark chocolate is high in fat, but loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. It is very effective at improving cardiovascular health.
Whole eggs used to be considered unhealthy because the yolks are high in cholesterol and fat.
In fact, a single egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is 71% of the recommended daily intake. Plus, 62% of the calories in whole eggs are from fat (20).
However, new studies have shown that cholesterol in eggs doesn't affect the cholesterol in the blood, at least not in the majority of people (21Trusted Source).
What we're left with is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
Whole eggs are actually loaded with vitamins and minerals. They contain a little bit of almost every single nutrient we need.
They even contain powerful antioxidants that protect the eyes, and lots of choline, a brain nutrient that 90% of people don't get enough of (22Trusted Source23).
Eggs are also a weight loss friendly food. They are very fulfilling and high in protein, the most important nutrient for weight loss (24Trusted Source).
Despite being high in fat, people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs end up eating fewer calories and losing weight (25Trusted Source26Trusted Source).
The best eggs are omega-3 enriched or pastured. Just don't throw away the yolk, that's where almost all the nutrients are found.
BOTTOM LINE:Whole eggs are among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Despite being high in fat and cholesterol, they are incredibly nutritious and healthy.
One of the few animal products that most people agree is healthy, is fatty fish.
This includes fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring.
These fish are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high quality proteins and all sorts of important nutrients.
Studies show that people who eat fish tend to be much healthier, with a lower risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and all sorts of common diseases (27Trusted Source2829Trusted Source).
If you can't (or won't) eat fish, then taking a fish oil supplement can be useful. Cod fish liver oil is best, it contains all the omega-3s that you need, as well as plenty of vitamin D.
BOTTOM LINE:Fatty fish like salmon is loaded with important nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fatty fish is linked to improved health, and reduced risk of all sorts of diseases.


If you'd like nutritional guidance and more, contact me and I can help you. The first 30 minute telephone consult is free.