Do You Want To Empower Others To Take Control Of Their Health And Wellness?

It’s no secret that we Americans have reached an all-time level of being “unhealthy,” thanks to an ever-increasing stress-filled lifestyle. Despite widespread campaigns aimed at helping people stop smoking, eat better and exercise, the vast majority of Americans does not get regular exercise and are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. There is a clear need to empower others to take control of their health and wellness.  

There has been an explosion in obesity that is cited as high as 63%, along with climbing rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases associated with lifestyle and behavior choices. As far back as 1996, Harvard Medical School published a 7-year study which confirms up to 70% of all cancer, heart disease, stroke and mature onset diabetes are preventable with lifestyle and behavior changes. And yet, the health of the wealthiest nation in the world continues to decline.

A Need For Real Health Education

Core factors for this epidemic amongst Americans can be found in a recent government study. The Institute of Medicine published a major study identifying that ninety million Americans are "health illiterate." This does not mean, in this internet dominant society, that people do not have access to or are not receiving enough health and wellness information. It means that the majority of us do not know how to interpret or use the health information we receive to control or improve our health and wellness or prevent chronic disease. This reveal the need for more educated Holistic Nurses and Health Coaches to bridge the gap.

Think of the last time you read the results of a new study in a magazine and realized you did not know how to use that information to support or improve your health. In fact, data presented to the American College of Health Care Executives identifies "lack of information as the number one root cause of death.” Yet, experts like Susan Edgman-Levatin, Executive Director, John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital, acknowledges "It's no secret that traditional methods of patient education are hopelessly ineffective."

NIWH Has An Answer

Addressing this problem, as far back as 1977, the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston, Massachusetts, in cooperation with physicians, nurses and online health educators, began research and development on an extraordinary, whole-person focused model of health education. The product of these 30 years of development in Boston area hospitals, Whole Health Education®, has today found its way into the medical mainstream.

These specialized health educators, Whole Health Educators ™, are uniquely trained in respectful presence and mindful listening skills as well as evidence-based, integrated health sciences to demystify for their clients the five major factors of health that influence how well we are or how sick we become. By providing “the big picture of health”®, an integrated understanding of how these five aspects can cause health or disease, the patient or client can possess the knowledge and tools to make necessary lifestyle changes and behavioral choices that are personally right for them. Identifying the root cause and effect of a chronic condition can free an individual to make changes they may not have previously considered.

Become The Solution

If you are looking for work with purpose and integrity and are a health care professional, or entry level candidate, who desires to serve others by providing evidence-based health information, and a natural, spiritual outlook on healing, this program may be of interest to you. NIWH offers Holistic Nurse Certification and Health Coach Certification. Program are offered through distance learning as well as optional in-person weekend classes, conducted at a Harvard affiliate hospital in the Boston area, which includes nationally recognized health experts and outstanding core facility members. For more information visit www.niwh.org or call 888-354-HEAL (4325)

 

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Learn The Surprising Way That Food Affects Your Mood

Learn The Surprising Way That Food Affects Your Mood

Did you know that what you eat affects your mood? It's interesting that the emphasis is usually on how things from the outside of us affect our insides. In reality so much of what is going on inside of us affects our outsides. That’s right, our mood and our food are intimately connected.

This is really evident in terms of weight loss and weight gain. The way we feel about ourselves, work, life, if we are fulfilled or dissatisfied, has more to do with what or how much we choose to eat than how eating a food has to do with how it "makes us feel." Our food decisions are often linked to our level of emotional wellness.

One of the reasons diets don't work is because the "work" is being done on the outside of the problem instead of the inside. I have been a nutritionist for over 30 years and have seen tens of thousands of patients who want to change the way they look or the way they eat.

When we start to "work" on the goal, within a relatively short period of time, they become aware that there are underlying feelings and emotions associated with not eating foods that help them to "medicate" or mask their feelings.

They often become discouraged because the feelings are uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It is our human nature to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. It takes courage to truly tackle and confront the underlying issues of "food and mood," rather than focusing on the outside of the problem, to focus on the inside instead.

Here is an exercise you may find to be of value. If you are dealing with mood or food issues, keep a journal for 10 days. Write down everything you eat and how you feel when you don’t eat what you want, as well as how you feel when you DO eat what you want.

Just becoming more aware of what you are putting in your mouth and how it translates to how you feel after you eat a particular food, can be the start of a healthier and happier relationship with food and your mood. Before you take your next bite, consider whether you are feeding your stomach, your mood, or both.

 

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How Reducing Your Stress Can Aid Digestion And Prevent Disease

How Reducing Your Stress Can Prevent Illness

Understanding the connection between brain function, cranial nerves, digestion and immune functions illuminates how and why dysfunction and “dis-ease” occur in the body. Just as our machines need electricity to operate, so do our internal organs and cells require electrical impulses to function. The degree to which your nervous system is balanced and well-functioning – or not – is the degree to which you are healthy and able to function at maximum capacity in the world. This is how reducing your stress can aid digestion and prevent disease.

Many healing arts such as acupuncture, yoga postures, meditation, chiropractic, breathing techniques, biofeedback, hypnosis, EMDR and others attempt to restore balance to the nervous system as the pathway to improving internal and external bodily function. These methods address the cause of the presenting condition, rather than just treating the pain or symptom of the bodily malfunction. 

Exploring The Body Systems 

By looking more closely at the digestive system and its intimate relationship with the immune system and the nervous system, we can easily follow the pathway of how brain function and the nervous system can create a “whole body” systemic cascade of bodily reactions, which over time lead to chronic illness and disease. Our nervous systems are impacted by stressors; however, stress is not limited to just the emotional realm as many believe. The topic of stressors and adrenal function are explored more deeply in other blogs.

For now, keep in mind that when our stress or anxiety causes our limbic system to send biochemical messages to our cranial nerves, our digestive systems can be functionally affected. The anxiety and stress increases our adrenal function output, and this increase of adrenal hormones and steroids in turn decreases our digestive and immune system functions.

A written schematic would look like this:

Stressor = A limbic system response and/or increased adrenal cortisol secretion. = Decreased digestive function thru sympathetic cranial nerves (vagus nerve) and decreased immune (bone marrow) function.

Overcoming The Effects Of Stress

The effect of a stressor on the body in the short term can be readily overcome by a healthy, adaptive nervous system. It is the longer stress–the chronic ongoing conditions and issues–that place wear and tear on our nervous systems and organs. It is this friction or wear and tear leads to chronic illness.

By understanding the intimate dance of our body’s organs and systems and how to maintain a balanced, healthy nervous system we can reduce stress to aid digestion and avoid illness or chronic disease, and to live long, productive and disease free lives!

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Social Behavior And An Unhealthy Work Environment

social media at work

When most of us think of an unhealthy work environment we think "sick building syndrome," difficult co-workers or the classic "boss from hell."

After attending a conference that was populated by a number of staffing agency directors, I received insight into the latest unhealthy work issue that is gaining the attention of a lot of organizations. OFBTM – Obsessive Facebook and Text Messaging while on the clock. It is becoming such a concern to some employees that more and more companies are having their computer networks re-tooled to block Facebook from being accessible from the office computers.

Unbecoming Habits

How much of a problem is it that a significant number of those raised on electronic communication and networking cannot stop checking their Facebook and Text Messaging while they are being paid to do the job tasks required of them? That employers are noticing and concerned about this trend affecting their productivity and even their bottom line, says something important about immediate communication impulse and what is being called "the narcissistic tendency" we are developing as a culture.

The focus and integrity to attend to the job we are expected to perform as well as the ability or willingness not to pay attention to ourselves when we are getting paid to be working, seems to be lacking today more than ever before. Cell phones, e-mails, text messages, social networking, Facebook and other electronic forms of communication have begun to hold our attention prisoner, even when we are on the job. Not only is this unfair to the individual or organization paying our salary, but it also sends up a red flag about how we are growing more and more self-absorbed as a culture.

Social Media And Health 

Can someone be healthy when they are overly concerned about the moment to moment activities of their lives? There are (most commonly in humor columns) reported Facebook posts by individuals who literally record every minor thought and event of their day, posting them publically for all their friends and fans to read. Is it true that we are becoming a narcissistic society unable to pull ourselves away from the details of our lives? Is the problem so invasive that we no longer put in "an honest day's work"?

Health is made up of many things. Being productive, making a contribution, working hard and enjoying what you do are all pieces of a healthy lifestyle. If social networking and electronic communication is pulling you further away from a balanced and healthy work life, it may be time to unplug and unlink.

Present, Productive, and Fulfilled

Finding fulfillment and feeling commitment about what we do in our work, as well as how we do the work, is an important part of being a productive, contributory, healthy, happy individual. 

Excessive electronic communication can not only be self-centering but can also distract us from other essential aspects that are part of a balances life. It’s something to consider.

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Could Hormones Be The Cause Of Your Depression?

A research review by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explored hormonal dysfunction in women as a potential cause for depression. The focus of the investigators and their subsequent report was on how the female reproductive system interacts with the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates the body's stress response.

HPA Disruption Consequences

This mechanism can set up a biochemical environment for psychological disorders in females. It was noted that females are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Through the HP-axis, stress in women impacts the reproductive hormones, which can upset patterns of ovulation. This upset can contribute to the loss of menses and to infertility. If the inter-relationship of stress and female reproductive hormones becomes chronic, behavior and mood disorders and depression can increase significantly.

When oxytocin is suppressed due to excessive stress hormones, fertilized eggs cannot implant into the uterus. This is believed to be a primary cause of infertility in American women, owing to our highly stressful lifestyle. Depression, eating disorders, alcoholism or other addictions may also occur with the estrogen-induced disruption of normal HPA function.

The Stress-Less Cure

The key to preventing or correcting the problem as we find in many physiological conditions is to create a more balanced, less stressful lifestyle. If the body's stress adaptation system becomes overwhelmed, and cannot appropriately adapt to the environment and demands of everyday life, many disorders and conditions can develop, depression being just one of them.

Post-Partum Problems

Regarding post-partum depression, the investigators identified that chronic hyper secretion of the stress hormone cortisol during a pregnancy creates a temporary suppression of adrenal function following delivery. This coupled with the sudden drop of hormonal levels of estrogen after birth may be a significant factor in post-partum depression or subsequent immune dysfunctions such as post-partum thyroid conditions.

Why Balance Is The Key

It is very important for women, because of our very integrated hormonal and nervous systems, to work towards a balanced, low stress life-style. Unlike our male counterparts, our hormonal system immediately lets us know when we are "off center" by delivering loud messages through hormonal dysfunction.
 

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How To Overcome Loneliness

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says of loneliness, “The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I have come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle [to happiness].” We have all experienced loneliness in our lives. We know that it is an experience that is not about being alone. We can be by ourselves in solitude and never feel lonely. Or we can be with a crowd of people and feel completely, totally alone in the world.

What Sparks Loneliness

If loneliness is not related to being alone, then what circumstances create this sad and sometimes debilitating feeling? How can we be proactive in avoiding these circumstances and enriching our emotional lives with greater happiness?

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Aging, researcher John T. Cacioppo notes: “The main psychological difference between lonely and non-lonely people is that the former perceive stressful circumstances as threatening rather than challenging and cope passively and withdraw from stress rather than trying to solve the problem.” The study identified the relationship between those who score high for loneliness and those who have the highest blood pressure.

An Epidemic Of Emptiness

While about one in five Americans is reported to be lonely, a study from the British Mental Health Foundation shows Britain is currently in the grip of an “epidemic of loneliness.” This type of loneliness is described as a “patchwork of feeling unhappy, stressed out, friendless and hostile.”

Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says: “Human beings are, of course, social animals, and we’ve evolved to live in extended family groups. If we’re not in a group like that we begin to feel anxious, depressed and begin to find it increasingly difficult to regulate our own behavior.”

The Way Of Elimination

Most studies on loneliness point to a lack of belonging, an absence of being valued, cared about, and appreciated for our contributions to the group. As human beings, we have a need to belong with others and be part a community. Being with others in a meaningful way is identified as a key to eliminating loneliness. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

By participating in activities that help others, giving of ourselves and serving those in need, we create meaningful relationships that provide us with purpose, fulfillment and greater happiness. Nourishing others has demonstrated the ability to eliminate loneliness and enhance our quality and enjoyment of life.

For a free download on creating excellent communication in relationships, visit www.changingbehavior.org.

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Our Pets Improve Our Health

While it may be difficult to get Americans to collectively agree on the many issues, it seems that when it comes to pets and the value we place on them, there is little disagreement. The 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association survey reported that an astounding 65% of all American households have a pet. An identified 79.7 households have dogs–over 100 million of them in all. Cat owner households total 42.9 million. Fresh water fish, birds, reptiles and horses, along with small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, and others make up another 25-27 million pets.  

Americans, it seems, have also come to view and treat their pets in human terms. No longer satisfied with relegating the family pet to its own domain, today’s pet lovers are demanding the highest quality products and services for those they love. The idea of buying a simple dog chew or catnip toy now takes a back seat to designer sweaters and jewelry for our beloved companions. The current trend of dog hotels instead of kennels, indoor animal toilets, perfume, a hugely popular service “doggie dates” and exotic animal sitting services have found their way into today’s pet economy.

For the most passionate pet lover, faux mink coats, lumberjack vests, designer jackets, matching jeweled leather collar and leash sets, Halloween costumes, and holiday outfits are becoming part of the new “pet fashion.” Safety seats for transporting pets in vehicles are also becoming popular. One of the larger pet expenditures is pet food. These days the pet food aisle looks strikingly similar to the rest of the “human food” aisles in chain grocery stores. Specialized, balanced gourmet meals are readily available in the refrigerator section as well as a plethora of animal treats, vitamins, and supplements. Special diet foods for the senior pet population offer life extension and prolonged health.

The country's household expenditures on pets for 2015-16 was in excess of 62.75 billion dollars. It is easy to imagine that this number must be a mistake as this is more money being spent on pets in the United State than the gross national product numbers for all but 64 countries around the world. This 62.75 billion dollar figure also represents almost double the approximately $35 billion dollars Americans spend on going to movies, playing video games, or for listening to recorded music.

The approximate 20% of non-pet households are for the most part made up of individuals with allergies, or who live in apartments or other environments that do not welcome pets, and those who have no time left in their over-scheduled lives to care for a pet. It seems people of all ages, ranging from infants to very elderly, enjoy and welcome the company of pets. The presence of pets is so popular today that some nursing facilities now have therapy pets at the facility on a regular basis. The one down side to this practice is that sometimes the residents start arguing and competing over who gets to keep the cat, dog, or bird with them for the day.

What fuels our passion for pets? It is really quite simple. Our pets love us unconditionally. They listen to us when we speak, provide companionship without politics or the agenda of most relationships. They accept our love and affection the way we chose to give it, without complaint, and they provide us in return with affection and loyalty. They are the ultimate loving family member, and we are now treating them as such. Can anyone blame us?

Social networking has become the way we communicate and “do” relationships. These days it is often over e-mail and texting messages that we are starting relationships or ending them, sharing major life events–even proposing marriage. The intimate contact of human connections we had even 15 years ago before the dominance of the internet and cell phones is now being replaced by our pets.

Pets are not only beloved companions, but they are also taking on the role of healers. Dogs have been long known for their service as seeing eye dogs, but the use of dogs and other pets in many areas of healing and health monitoring are becoming more widespread. Dogs who alert their companions for seizures or “sniff out” cancer or horses that assist with helping autistic children to interact with others are easily found on the news or internet.

A recent study by researcher Dr. Karen Allen at the State University of New York at Buffalo identified that individuals suffering from hypertension when adopting a dog or cat had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than their counterparts who did not have a pet companion. The National Institute of Technology Assessment Workshop, Health Benefits of Pets, identified that pets provide greater psychological stability, which us protects not only from heart disease and other stress related conditions but also reduces depression. In the same study, pets have been shown to lower the cost of health care as individuals with pets make fewer doctor visits, especially “for non-serious medical conditions.”

A Perdue University study demonstrated that when seniors face traumas or other forms of adversity, the affection received by their pets and the bond between them helps prevent depress and loneliness. As a means of enhancing our psychological and physical well-being, pets have the power to love us, heal us, and help us to live longer. If only we could get other humans to do so with the same honesty and loyalty that our pet companions provide us.

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Is Instant Energy Bad For Your Health?

Available everywhere and promising instant energy, energy drinks have grown in popularity over the last decade. They allow us to get more done faster, but at what costs? The largest population they are pitched to is the "under 30" group. This includes high school and college students as well as athletes, both school age and professional.

Our over-worked culture is moving beyond coffee for its morning wake up and afternoon pick-me-up to the energy drink solution. This product comes with it's own health concerns. Energy drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine and sugar and can include other stimulants such as ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng, which have all been shown to have potential health concerns. Here are some points of consideration you may want to be aware of before gulping down a can or two of the elixir.

Things To Consider:

  • Energy drinks contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Consumed quickly, the caffeine and sugar provide a jolt of energy by stimulating your stress system. This can also raise your blood sugar and blood pressure levels, causing your heart to beat faster and work harder.
  • The contents of these energy drinks can produce symptoms that may include anxiety, insomnia, irritability and nausea that can be severe enough to require medical attention or hospitalization.
  • Energy drinks, if taken during exercise, can dehydrate the body and deplete much needed calcium and potassium.
  • Because of the energy provided by the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks, they have become popular as mixers with alcohol. This can lead to an individual not being aware of the level of intoxication, which might allow them to drive under the influence.
  • Bad reactions to energy drinks have been reported to U.S. poison control centers published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
  • In a report of nine cases of adverse reactions to the energy drink Redline, patients reported nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors, dizziness and numbness.

There is the impression that because these drinks are available over the counter and can be bought in any retail store, they are not a "substance" that we should use carefully. This couldn't be further from the truth.

While energy drinks can be part of a balanced lifestyle when consumed sensibly, as with all things related to health and lifestyle, we need to exercise moderation and good judgement to avoid the problems that can arise from inappropriate or excessive use.

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A Different Approach To Spring Allergies

One of the most important aspects of addressing any health issue is to understand the cause and effect of how and why you are experiencing your symptoms and what they represent. Seasonal allergies are, for many, the down side to the beauty of spring and summer. Itchy, runny eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and even wheezing can dictate an individual’s activity choices, where they can go, and even what they can eat.

None of this is desirable, and much of it has been shown to be preventable. To understand how you can take control of your seasonal allergies, let’s explore where they come from. Foreign proteins are found in many airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, and ragweed. When mucous membranes that come in contact with these foreign proteins are not immunologically competent enough to break down the proteins, the membraneS secrete mucous, fluids, and histamine. This causes the itching, swelling, irritation, and watery excretions that make seasonal allergies so challenging.

To improve allergy symptoms, steroid or steroid-like medications are often prescribed. These are anti-inflammatory chemicals that reduce the allergic immune reaction to the foreign proteins.

By building up our immune and adrenal system, we can enable our bodies to be better able to handle these allergens, which cause the allergy reactions. Our adrenals are located either on top of or within the kidneys and produce cortico-steroids and other natural anti-inflammatory as part of our “national guard” system. Hans Selye, MD, PhD, who spent over 50 years researching the adrenals and immune system, discovered the important nutrition and lifestyle components to keeping this important body system working well: 

  • A diet rich in B, C, E, and A vitamins (or supplementation)
  • Unsaturated fatty acids, such as fish oils
  • Adequate protein intake
  • Minerals to aid the production of natural allergy fighting anti-inflammatories 
  • Adequate sleep and rest
  • Elimination of infections
  • Reduction of emotional stress
  • Moderate exercise
  • Avoidance of over exertion
  • Avoidance of traumas as well as dental and medical surgery
  • Elimination of extreme temperatures indoors and out

Seyle’s research demonstrated that by taking good care of our adrenal and immune system, allergies may be greatly reduced and, in some cases, eliminated. Applying some of these principles may allow you to enjoy this spring more while experiencing fewer symptoms.

10 Tips For Sustainable Love

It is not a coincidence that happy couples share many of the same behavioral patterns. Often, we think that being happy means we have fun sharing the same hobbies or doing everything as a couple. While sharing activities enhances relationships, the most important components to successful relationships are found in how individuals within a relationship treat each other. In large part, it relies on communication and behavior.

Some of the most important aspects of having a successful relationship with your significant other include:

Friendship: Being friends and genuinely liking your partner is one of the most important components of a happy and successful relationship. If you don’t like the other person, how can you truly love them?

Enjoying your partner’s company: Laughter is not only good medicine, but it is also the glue that binds relationships and creates memories. Laughing together and even crying together are meaningful in good relationships.

Being spontaneous: All of us have preferences, likes and dislikes. When you’re spontaneous about trying new food, travel plans, places to visit and other novel experiences, you expand your personal horizons and show respect for your partner’s preferences as well. Life is more interesting if we can be spontaneous together.

Having your own life: Developing a healthy relationship is about two independent and emotionally mature individuals joining company to share their lives together. Sometimes our needs can become interjected into our relationship in a way that creates a co-dependent dynamic. This can derail happiness in an intimate relationship.

Being fully, purely present to your partner: It has been said that there is no greater gift than our full, complete presence to another. Being authentically interested and attentive to the other person is a hallmark of a healthy, happy relationship.

Showing and expressing affection: Physical touch is an important part of happiness and fulfillment in relationships. Couples can often express that just by holding hands or sharing affection with their partner. This is a very important part of feeling loved and cared for.

Being caring and kind: Kindness is one of the most attractive things about another person. When we are kind, not only do we feel good about our behavior, but our significant other feels good about our behavior as well.

Being honest: If we give our partners a sense that we are devoted and loyal to them and they provide that for us, we create the foundation of a truly lasting and loving relationship. Marriages or relationships often break up because of trust issues. Trust is the foundation of all good interactions.

Being committed: When we are committed to someone, it means that we are there for them and can be counted on to support them in times of need. This is what we all want from our relationships. In order to depend on this benefit, we need to provide it as well.

Communicating: By actively communicating with your partner on an ongoing basis, you can avoid many of the problems that arise in relationships before they even get started. Being proactive and checking in with each other on a regular basis to see how things are for the other person goes a long way in preventing difficulties with conflicts and unmet needs.

Sustaining A Relationship

Creating and sustaining a loving, trusting and lasting relationship is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can long for and look forward to. While this is not a complicated process, it does require awareness and cultivation similar to what you need in raising a child or growing a garden.

If you keep disruptive weeds from infiltrating the flower beds of your relationships, you can enjoy the uninterrupted beauty of longed-for interactions and reduce the work, wear and tear that neglect can produce. Relationships take time, caring and commitment, but they are truly worth it.

For a free download on communication skills for enhanced relationships, visit http://www.changingbehavior.org/

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health!