For A Stress Less Holiday: Focus on YOUR “Reason for the Season”

This time of year is often a time of reflection, when people look inward toward the things they are grateful for, and the things that matter the most for them.

All week this week, pause. Remind yourself of the things that make this season special. That kind of gratitude inventory resets your mind onto the things that matter most.

There’s no “right answer” here. Your reason is personal to you and may or may not be the same as someone else’s reason.

 

 

For A Stress Less Holiday, Keep a Clean Mental Desktop

One constant source of stress is what we call a cluttered “mental desktop”. When you have 37 things whirring about in your brain, you can get into a spin-cycle that contributes to chronic stress.

The solution is to do exactly what you do when you meditate – clear the desktop of all items but one. Write them all down, put them away, then come back to them after your one single task has been completed.

 

 

 

For A Stress Less Holiday, Don’t Over Schedule

This time of year, it is so easy to get bogged down in the infinite to-do lists for work and family and guests and presents and food and friends and on and on.

So, to stress less this month, start by making a conscious decision to pare down that list, delegate some of them out when you can, and leave time just for you.

 

The most unhealthy drinks

Popular “detox” drinks promise to cleanse everything from liver to lymph. But your body’s internal mechanisms were built to do just that, if we could just get out of its way. One excellent first step is to give up drinks that make your body work harder to clean up the toxins.

 

Kick the Can

Giving up sodas is a great first step. Colas have the phosphoric acid that can help pull calcium out of your body. Your body needs calcium in every cell, so it pulls what it needs from your bones, and this can make them even more brittle than they are.

Get Real

Find the ingredients that are truly unreal. Those that contain artificial sugars and colors. These are associated with a host of health issues, and should be avoided altogether. An easy rule is to look for ingredients you can read, that was alive at some point in the past, and that your grandparents consumed.

Whiteners

If you still consume the “creamers” for your coffee, just note that the first two ingredients include both hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. These are not good for you by themselves. Together, it’s even worse.

 

With these three rules, you can start to detox your body by simply allowing your body’s own detoxification processes to work at their best!

 

Healthy Holiday Spirits

At the end of the year, feasts with family and friends commonly encourage consumption of food and of drink. How do you make sure this annual occurrence doesn’t turn bad for you? You simply have to manage quantity AND quality.

Drinking Quantity

Wine makes the point. For example, is red wine good for you or bad for you.

* One to two glasses per day is said to be good for your heart.

* One to two bottles per day will turn your liver into a brick.

The bottom line is that wine is NOT good for you, and wine is NOT bad for you … until you make it that way. Over-consumption changes this drink from one that is healthy, to one that is not.

The same is true for all spirits, and the holiday season is the perfect time to make the point: controlled consumption keeps the holiday happy, but also healthy!

 

Drinking Quality

There are differences in taste between different beers, wines, and spirits, but that’s not what I’m talking about. In this sense, quality doesn’t apply to the flavor of the drink but to the nutritional aspects. And once you have the quantity issue worked out (see above), improving the quality of the drinks is the next piece of the puzzle.

  • It’s very simple. Cut the sugar.
  • A standard egg nog is like twelve thousand calories.
  • If you have mixers, don’t used colas or other sugar sweetened drinks.
  • Drinks served at restaurants sound wonderful on their menu descriptions, but are very commonly over-sweetened.

This is important because sugar consumption is not only high in calories, but it also can affect your insulin balance in a way that makes you more tired and hungry in the long term — moving less, and eating more!

So this November, if you have drinks with alcohol at all, limit the volume. A good solution is to have a glass of water between each drink. Also, if you make a commitment to remove the sugars from your drinks you’ll be just as likely to reduce your caloric load as you will to reduce your food cravings!

Healthy Hydration starts with water, but does not end there

Staying hydrated is so important for so many aspects of your health! From your brain and kidneys to your skin and energy levels, simply keeping hydrated is one of the easiest solutions you can apply for your overall health.

But how much is enough? We have been told that you need AT LEAST 8, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. This coaching was provided to us by our health establishments and official institutions as “evidence based” advice. Turns out, it was not. Please read this solid review by H Valtin: “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Really? Is there scientific evidence for 8 x 8“?

That issue speaks to the quantity of fluid. Now let’s talk about the quality of the thing you’re drinking.

Even if you’re not sucking back swimming pools of water each day, you might think that staying hydrated would be a simple matter of including more water in your life. Where it gets confusion is in the plethora of products (and their urgent ad campaigns), from “smart” water to sports drinks, and all of them want to convince you that their product is the one you should buy.

This randomized trial (funded by Coca-Cola, who makes sports drinks) wanted to create a hydration index. This index would show how well drinks can hydrate your body, compared to water.

The data are presented in this graph. Other than the oral rehydration solution (like Pedialyte), the best drink for hydration is actually milk. Yeah, milk. Perhaps because of its associated proteins, the body hydrates better with this than even water itself.

Another interesting point of note here is that the sports drinks (think, Gatorade) that sweaty athletes drink on TV was worse than water for re-hydration!

So the bottom line is that hydration is critically important for your health. You don’t have to drink swimming pools of it every day, and don’t be fooled by the ads about hydration drinks!

Healthy Drinking? Yes, and here are the healthiest drinks

When listing healthy drinks, first let’s exclude the liquefied salad slurry, where you toss in peanut butter, berries, whatever’s going bad in the veg drawer, and a sprinkle of flax seeds or whatever. Yes, that sludge is actually healthy for you, but peanut butter, flax, and kale are not drinks, they’re foods.

Now that we’re on firm footing, what are the healthiest drinks available. Water is good for hydration, but doesn’t carry nutrition and isn’t even the most hydrating of drinks!

Basically, the healthiest drinks are the ones that you make a tea out of. For example, to make tea you take specific leaves, pour in hot water, which extracts the healthy aspects of the leaves into the water. Then, you drink that.

In other words, you make a tea of the leaves.

The same thing happens with coffee and cocoa. Pour in hot water, allow it to steep and think about itself for a while,  and the healthy parts of each release into the water, and you drink that on chilly days with fuzzy socks on.

It turns out that cocoa and tea (especially green/black teas) have more antioxidants than any other drink, and are crazy healthy for you for that reason. In fact, short-term intake of cocoa and green tea flavanols … affect selected markers of one or more measures of oxidative stress, inflammation or hemostasis in obese adults at risk for insulin resistance. (reference)

And … in 19 randomized clinical trials comprising 1,131 participants, our study suggests that cocoa flavanol intake has favorable effects on select cardiometabolic biomarkers among adults (reference). 

For Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

A 2007 review of studies showed a positive effect of coffee consumption on reducing the risk for AD by ~30% compared to non-coffee drinkers [].

A 2010 review of epidemiological studies involving middle aged adults, associated a daily intake of 3–5 cups of coffee with a risk reduction of 64% [].

Two meta-analyses reported that as coffee consumption increased, disease incidence decreased [].

For Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

As reported here, coffee drinkers were at a 30% lower risk of PD as compared to non-drinkers [], which is consistent with the latest meta-analysis from 2014 and the conclusion that the strongest positive effect (28% lower risk) was observed for the daily intake of 3 cups of coffee [].

Additionally, that analysis demonstrates a linearly dependent correlation between caffeine dose and risk for disease. Daily increase of caffeine consumption by 200 mg resulted in a 17% lower risk for disease.

Just keep in mind that many of these studies are correlational only — meaning that people who drink these drinks also have a reduced risk of getting those diseases. But something else may also be going on, so maybe it’s not the coffee, the tea, or the cocoa?

All that said, even persnickety researchers agree that these drinks are probably great for you, and certainly not harmful. So, while we’re waiting on them to make up their minds, we might as well wrap our hands around a steaming cup of yumminess and enjoy!

 

Cancer Awareness Month: Blood

Approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States (US) is diagnosed with a blood cancer (source: https://bit.ly/2dcsntk). In other words, by the time you finish reading this post, another person will be diagnosed. And if it takes you 9 minutes to read through the “Close Look” below, someone else will have died from Leukemia, Lymphoma, or Myeloma.

These kinds of numbers throw the importance of the issue into sharp relief.