Wellness Article

ISSUE 22 E-NEWSLETTER
Exercise Alters Our Microbiome. Is That One Reason It’s So Good For Us?
The New York Times - by Gretchen Reynolds
Exercise may change the composition and activity of the trillions of microbes in our guts in ways that could improve our health and metabolisms over time, a new study finds.

The results provide novel insights into how exercise can affect even those portions of our bodies that seem uninvolved in workouts, perhaps providing another nudge to stick with our exercise resolutions this year.

I think we all have heard by now that each of us contains a pulsating little universe of bacteria within our guts. This microbiome includes countless different species of microbes in varying proportions that interact, compete and busily release various substances that are implicated in weight control, inflammation, immune responses and many other aspects of health throughout our bodies. (source)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 22 E-NEWSLETTER
How Stress Can Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels
by Dr. Mercola
Stress does not act as a singular force on your body but rather acts like a snowball rolling down a mountain, gradually building in size and speed until it’s virtually impossible to control. As stress builds in your body, it influences everything from your mood and brain function to your heart health and risk of both acute illness and chronic disease, including cancer.

When you become stressed your body also secretes cortisol and glucagon, both of which affect your blood sugar levels as well. On a metabolic level, when you’re stressed and your body enters “fight or flight” mode, glucose is released in order to give your muscles the energy needed to run and escape whatever is threatening you. In the modern day, there’s a good chance that threat is more mental than physical, however, which means you won’t need that extra energy after all.

The end result is that your body must produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in check, and when you’re stressed out, your blood sugar levels will probably stay elevated much longer than they would otherwise, ultimately promoting weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. (source)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 22 E-NEWSLETTER
The Tyranny of Convenience
The New York Times - by Tim Wu
Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud’s unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist’s incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial.

In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience – that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks – has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies. This is particularly true in America, where, despite all the paeans to freedom and individuality, one sometimes wonders whether convenience is in fact the supreme value.

As Evan Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, recently put it, “Convenience decides everything.” Convenience seems to make our decisions for us, trumping what we like to imagine are our true preferences. (I prefer to brew my coffee, but Starbucks instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I “prefer.”) Easy is better, easiest is best. (source)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 21 E-NEWSLETTER
Fiber is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.

The New York Times – by Carl Zimmer
A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: Eating more fiber seems to lower people’s mortality rate, whatever the cause.

That’s why experts are always saying how good dietary fiber is for us. But while the benefits are clear, it’s not so clear why fiber is so great. “It’s an easy question to ask and a hard one to really answer,” said Fredrik Bäckhed, a biologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

He and other scientists are running experiments that are yielding some important new clues about fiber’s role in human health. Their research indicates that fiber doesn’t deliver many of its benefits directly to our bodies.

Instead, the fiber we eat feeds billions of bacteria in our guts. Keeping them happy means our intestines and immune systems remain in good working order.

In order to digest food, we need to bathe it in enzymes that break down its molecules. Those molecular fragments then pass through the gut wall and are absorbed in our intestines.

But our bodies make a limited range of enzymes, so that we cannot break down many of the tough compounds in plants. The term “dietary fiber” refers to those indigestible molecules.

But they are indigestible only to us. The gut is coated with a layer of mucus, atop which sits a carpet of hundreds of species of bacteria, part of the human microbiome. Some of these microbes carry the enzymes needed to break down various kinds of dietary fiber.

The ability of these bacteria to survive on fiber we can’t digest ourselves has led many experts to wonder if the microbes are somehow involved in the benefits of the fruits-and-vegetables diet. Two detailed studies published recently in the journal “Cell Host and Microbe” provide compelling evidence that the answer is yes. (Source)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 21 E-NEWSLETTER
Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain
The New York Times – by Jane Brody
After two hour-long sessions focused first on body awareness and then on movement retraining at the Feldenkrais Institute of New York, I understood what it meant to experience an incredible lightness of being. Having, temporarily at least, released the muscle tension that aggravates my back and hip pain, I felt like I was walking on air.

I had long refrained from writing about this method of countering pain because I thought it was some sort of New Age gobbledygook with no scientific basis. Boy, was I wrong!

The Feldenkrais method is one of several increasingly popular movement techniques, similar to the Alexander technique, that attempt to better integrate the connections between mind and body. By becoming aware of how one’s body interacts with its surroundings and learning how to behave in less stressful ways, it becomes possible to relinquish habitual movement patterns that cause or contribute to chronic pain.

The method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist, mechanical engineer and expert in martial arts, after a knee injury threatened to leave him unable to walk. Relying on his expert knowledge of gravity and the mechanics of motion, he developed exercises to help teach the body easier, more efficient ways to move.

I went to the institute at the urging of Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of the recently published book Crooked that details the nature and results of virtually every current approach to treating back pain, a problem that has plagued me on and off (now mostly on) for decades. Having benefited from Feldenkrais lessons herself, Ms. Ramin had good reason to believe they would help me. (source)

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Wellness Article

ISSUE 20 E-NEWSLETTER
Up to 40 Percent Decrease of Nutrients in Our Food
Dr. Mercola

-Generations of farming reliant on the use of chemicals has rendered American farm ground sterile and literally lifeless, unable to hold either nutrients or water, a problem the U.N. says is a grave threat to human health.

-Soil experts are realizing that bare ground between rows of crops increases not just topsoil erosion, but fertilizer and other chemical runoff into water supplies, while others are examining the implications of C02’s role in declining nutrition.

-Researchers have begun fighting harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, by spreading bacteria on crops as a way to prevent regular outbreaks of food poisoning from tomatoes grown on the East Coast.

-Three recent historical food composition data studies found that as much as 40 percent and even more of minerals in plant-based foods have been depleted by substandard soil.

Politico tells about a young generational farmer, Jonathan Cobb, who’d made the difficult decision to quit farming. Using increasing amounts of chemical herbicides and fertilizers, “planting row upon row of corn on 3,000 acres … was becoming rote and joyless.”1

While job hunting one day, he happened to stop at the local U.S. Department of Agriculture office in his Texas town to pick up paperwork. The staff there happened to be conducting a training session and doing a demonstration on healthy and unhealthy soils. The side-by-side comparison contrasted the startling difference:

“A clump of soil from a heavily tilled and cropped field was dropped into a wire mesh basket at the top of a glass cylinder filled with water. At the same time, a clump of soil from a pasture that grew a variety of plants and grasses and hadn’t been disturbed for years was dropped into another wire mesh basket in an identical glass cylinder.

The tilled soil – similar to the dry, brown soil on Cobb’s farm – dissolved in water like dust. The soil from the pasture stayed together in a clump, keeping its structure and soaking up the water like a sponge.”

Cobb realized he was seeing not just an exhibit on soil types, but the potential for a new farming philosophy and made the instant decision to stay on his farm “and be part of that paradigm shift.” Trending in agriculture today is a new viewpoint that may be turning from a push for productivity to one that emphasizes the environment and human health. (read more)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 20 E-NEWSLETTER
Gratitude For The Health of It

Fitness & Wellness News – by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Don’t wait until Thanksgiving. National Gratitude Day reminds us we can be thankful year-round …

Although an exact cause-and-effect between gratitude and improved health is not clear, it does exist. Research in the field of positive psychology continues to grow, with a focus on gratitude’s impact on physical and emotional well-being.

Those who live in gratitude follow that trendy phrase, “Happiness is not about having what you want but wanting what you have.” Productive, successful people strive to achieve everything from six-pack abs to a six-figure salary. Yet, the happiest among them are those who are still A-Okay with a little extra chub around their middle and a little less chub in their wallet. Those grateful folks tend to be happier and healthier, regardless.

Healthy Perks for the Grateful
A study published in Personality and Individual Differences found grateful people tended to exercise more. They also experienced fewer aches and pains, and reported feeling overall healthier, than those who did not regularly practice gratitude. (This is likely the combined outcome of exercising more along with those thankful feelings.) They tend to practice better self-care and follow up with physician exams when needed. (read more)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 19 E-NEWSLETTER
How to Build Resilience in Midlife

The New York Times – by Tara Parker-Pope
Much of the scientific research on resilience – our ability to bounce back from adversity – has focused on how to build resilience in children. But what about the grown-ups?

While resilience is an essential skill for healthy childhood development, science shows that adults also can take steps to boost resilience in middle age, which is often the time we need it most. Midlife can bring all kinds of stressors, including divorce, the death of a parent, career setbacks and retirement worries, yet many of us don’t build the coping skills we need to meet these challenges.

The good news is that some of the qualities of middle age – a better ability to regulate emotions, perspective gained from life experiences and concern for future generations – may give older people an advantage over the young when it comes to developing resilience, said Adam Grant, a management and psychology professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. (read more)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 19 E-NEWSLETTER
The Best Exercise For Aging Muscles
The New York Times – by Gretchen Reynolds
The toll that aging takes on a body extends all the way down to the cellular level. But the damage accrued by cells in older muscles is especially severe, because they do not regenerate easily and they become weaker as their mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in vigor and number.

A study published this month in “Cell Metabolism,” however, suggests that certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria.

Exercise is good for people, as everyone knows. But scientists have surprisingly little understanding of its cellular impacts and how those might vary by activity and the age of the exerciser.

So researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64. After baseline measures were established for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels and the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells, the volunteers were randomly assigned to a particular exercise regimen.

Some of them did vigorous weight training several times a week; some did brief interval training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. A fourth group, the control, did not exercise. (read more)