Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Muscular And Skeletal Systems Help Us Move

Our Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Skeletal And Muscular Systems Help Us Move

In the past we have explored the nervous system, brain function, cranial nerves, digestive function, adrenal function, and the immune system. Now let's take a look at the most glamorized, yet under-appreciated, part of our body—our mighty muscles and bones. So, how do the muscular and skeletal systems help us move?

Muscular Attraction

The muscles get a lot of attention with regard to how they can make us look attractive and sexy to others. Our muscle tone communicates how healthy our body is. The strength of the muscles, the lack of water retention or fat in the muscles, and how flexible we are, all indicate that we may be a good reproductive partner and produce strong, healthy offspring. This is one of the functions we all can relate to, but it is certainly not the most important function of our muscles.

Try to imagine what your life would be like if your muscle tissue could not form the shape of your body. What if it didn't allow you to physically move around your environment? Without locomotion, thru muscle strength and movement, we would be a lump of humanity, never moving from the spot we found ourselves in.

Mighty Bones

Our bones are so amazing too. Apart from their distinctive and critical role as part of the immune system carrying precious bone marrow, they are the armature upon which our muscles are draped. Bones allow cooperation between the muscles, to physically move, play, exercise, work, eat, sleep and achieve all of the mobility we experience throughout our day.

When we look at people stooped over with distorted posture and their musculature not functioning properly, we immediately associate this with either being ill or not vital. Our posture is the number one thing people notice, followed by how we are dressed. Our body language is expressed thru our bone/muscle function. In essence, our personality and how we view the world are all communicated in how we move through the space we inhabit.

Working Together

Our muscles and bones not only share the work load in glucose and immune regulation, body heat production, fat metabolism, mineral storage, and the ability for “fight or flight”—self-preservation. They also communicate to the world what we think about ourselves, others, and the world through the expression of body movement and non-verbal communication. This can be one of the most attractive or frightening aspects about us – depending on how we express our movement and actions.

Keeping your muscles and bones strong thru exercise and a healthy diet is a wise move. Without them, we are literally “going nowhere.”

 

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Calcium May Help You Burn More Fat

Information from the Nutrition Institute of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, appears to confirm the “rumor” that calcium-rich diets result in lower body fat. According to a recent study in mice conducted at the University, a diet that includes low-fat dairy products and calcium supplementation can result in significant weight loss through the burning rather than the storing of fat. This is a result of the role that stored calcium plays in the breakdown and burning of fat inside our body’s cells.

The Science Behind Calcium and Weightloss

Here is an excerpt from an article on the study, written by Jeanie Larche Davis:

“The researchers used mice bred to be obese in their current study. The mice were fed a special high-fat, high-sugar diet for six weeks. All had a 27% increase in body fat.

Some were then switched to a calorie-restricted diet. Of those, one group was given calcium supplements (calcium carbonate similar to Tums) and others were fed “medium” and “high” amounts of low-fat dry milk.

Body fat storage was markedly reduced by all three high-calcium diets, say the authors.
Those given calcium supplements had good results, when combined with the restricted-calorie diet.

Mice getting their calcium via supplements had a 42% decrease in body fat, whereas mice eating without supplements had an 8% body fat loss.”

Dissecting Why It Works 

This was of great interest to me, and it felt important to share. Over the past 10 years, I have observed that during any period of time when I have consistently taken calcium supplementation, in the form of powdered calcium/magnesium, my body weight has definitely decreased.

Within a month or so of not taking the calcium/magnesium powder, the weight starts to creep back on. This article helps to answer the question of why. Thyroxine, secreted by the thyroid, is a critical hormone in intracellular metabolism. Thyroxine also has a significant impact on intracellular metabolism and on the utilization of calcium.

Having a calcium rich diet allows the thyroxin that is necessary for cellular metabolism to be more efficient in utilizing the fat stored in our cells for energy! That is why high calcium diets facilitate weight loss.

Put It In Practice

Armed with that information we can enjoy eating our spinach, kale and sardines, knowing they are working away to keep our body fat burning. 

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Is Organic Produce Better?

Several years ago, scientists at Rutgers University set-out to disprove the claim that organic produce was more nutritious than non-organic produce. The study used produce from supermarkets and health food stores. The strategy was to analyze the mineral content of various vegetables and compare them for nutrition value, particularly mineral content.

What Is Organic?

The term used today to label non-organic produce is “commercial.” This produce is grown using a variety of chemicals to destroy plant pests or enhance growth. Many of these chemical are known carcinogens in addition to being toxic to the soil and environment. Produce grown without any of these chemicals is considered "organic."

There has actually been very little “hard data” to prove that organic produce is in any way superior to conventional produce. Most folks who purchase “organic” innately believe that naturally grown vegetables and fruits, without chemicals and pesticides, are intuitively better and healthier.

Which Is Scientifically Better?

The researchers were prepared to accept an outcome showing a very slightly higher content in the organic produce than the commercial, due to the chemicals used to grow the commercial plants. They were shocked by the actual results. When they saw that the amount of iron found in the organic spinach was 97% higher than in the commercial spinach and that manganese was 99% higher in the organic over the commercial, they were truly amazed. In the commercially grown vegetables, many trace elements were completely absent compared to the organic produce where they were abundant.

Below you will find some comparisons drawn by the study results.

Snap Beans
Phosphorus: Organic (10.45), Commercial (4.04)
Magnesium: Organic (.36 ), Commercial (.22)
Boron: Organic (227), Commercial (10)
Iron: Organic (69), Commercial (3) 

Cabbage
Phosphorus: Organic (10.38). Commercial (6.12)
Magnesium: Organic (.38), Commercial (.18)
Boron: Organic (94). Commercial (20)
Iron: Organic (48), Commercial (.04)

Lettuce:
Phosphorus: Organic (24.48), Commercial (7.01)
Magnesium: Organic (.43), Commercial (.22)
Boron: Organic (516), Commercial (9)
Iron: Organic (60), Commercial (3)

Tomatoes:
Phosphorus: Organic (14.2), Commercial (7.01)
Magnesium: Organic (.35), Commercial (.16)
Boron: Organic (1938), Commercial (1)
Iron: Organic (53), Commercial (0)

Spinach:
Phosphorus: Organic (28.56), Commercial (12.38)
Magnesium: Organic (.52_, Commercial (.27)
Boron:Organic (1584), Commercial (49)
Iron: Organic (32), Commercial (.3)

Here’s a disturbing outcome of this study. In all 5 of the tested vegetables (snap beans, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and spinach) the organic vegetables all contained healthy levels of cobalt, an essential trace mineral. This mineral was completely absent in the commercial vegetables.

The Results Are Clear

So, the next time someone tries to argue that there is no difference between organic and commercial vegetables, you can share this information with them and then happily continue to buy your organic produce! Remember, the food you eat can improve your health and speed healing.

 

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Decoding Body Language: The Messages We Send And Receive

What is also understood is that there are “tells,” or neurological expressions of these withheld, nonverbal communications happening inside our brains. Even though we may not consciously or intentionally express verbally or physically how we feel, our brain/body connection does express these thoughts and feelings in nonverbal ways. These nonverbal ways are the “tells” that police and other professionals use to decide if someone is withholding information. This skill usually relies on instinct, but it might be wise to include such a information in today’s health coach certification programs to assist nurses in treating their patient's ailments holistically and effectively.

Relationship Impact

Many studies have been done on the subject of body language and nonverbal communication. Most of these findings agree that it is important for all of us to become aware of how our physical and verbal or nonverbal behavior impacts others, especially those who spend the most time in our environment.

Nonverbal communication can often cause one individual in a relationship to become upset if he feels he is seeing or interpreting nonverbal actions by his partner as rejection or disinterest. Often, before a relationship ends, one partner suspects the relationship is in trouble because of a lack of eye contact or verbal communication or because of hostile body language, such as the crossing of arms or legs in response to communication attempts.

Thoughts, Feelings, and Your Body

There is a science to nonverbal communication interpretation, as well as a science to understanding the best way to express our feelings. The way we do that can result in a positive or negative outcome. The science is directly related to neurological and neurotransmitter connections between thoughts and feelings in the brain and their communication to the muscles and nerves in the rest of our body.

Healthy Applications

Body language communications are both sent and received. We should become more mindful of the cues others are sharing and learn to read them more effectively because the information can be surprisingly vital. In my consulting practice, I see this all the time. A patient’s body language often conveys information they are leaving out, whether due to timidness, embarrassment, or lack of conscious. Nonetheless, nonverbal communication can alert to a need to press further for more clues about the presenting complaint.

Interpreting a patient’s or loved one’s body language can require close observation, something worth practicing whether you are a practicing nurse, an individual pursing a health coach certification, or simply a person hoping to improve your communication skills and your relationships.

In closing, we should all make an effort to monitor the nonverbal communication we are sharing in both our professional and personal lives. These cues can also offer hints to the real struggles lying beneath the surface.

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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.

5 Ways To Protect Your Health And Save The Environment

We can all make small behavioral changes that can lead to a big difference to our personal health and the health of our planet. There are many easy and convenient ways to "go green." Several of these suggestions can even save us money and time. Here is a brief list of ways you can immediately start to protect your health and help keep the planet healthier at the same time:

> Taking shorter showers will not only help to keep your skin better hydrated by not having all the natural oils removed from your skin, but each individual who limits their shower to five (5) minutes can save almost 4,000 gallons of water per year.

> Avoid the dry cleaner and you avoid exposing your skin to perchloroethylene. Also known as perc, this toxic solvent is used to dry clean clothing. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and skin irritation have all been linked to this solvent. It may also deplete the ozone layer in addition to contributing toxic and carcinogenic by-products as it breaks down.

> Stop using air freshners to avoid phthalates, chemicals linked to hormone abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. In addition, they may also contain other harmful, cancer-causing volatile organic compounds that are not good for you or the earth. You can use mixtures like orange peel or sage in pretty containers or small bowls to freshen the rooms of your home or office.

> Buy organic coffee that is grown without pesticides that can harm the soil and seep into the water supply. This makes a better "brew" for you as it does not contain synthetic chemicals, and it decreases damage to the earth.

> Avoid using flea collars on your pets as the chemicals in the flea collars contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate water supplies. The pesticides used in the flea collars work by harming the nervous system of the insect. The same pesticides can harm your pet and yourself as they are absorbed through the skin.

These are a few simple and convenient ways you can immediately start to make yourself and the planet healthier!

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Healthy Habits: Eat More Colors

The living world around us is filled with color. Look around and you may see blue sky, green grass, aqua oceans, and an unlimited array of tress, flowers and plants bursting with intense, vibrant color. Health is associated with color as well. When we are healthy we have pink cheeks, bright eyes, and a healthy flush to our skin. Quite interestingly, aging is the gradual loss of color. This fading of color marks the slowing or ebbing of life vibrancy.

It is no wonder then that colorful foods are the healthiest foods we can nourish our bodies with. They contain nutritional benefit in the form of phytonutrients, which means plant nutrients. The fruits and vegetables with the most vivid colors contain the highest amount of these important plant nutrients. Their hues act as a table of contents for the phytochemicals found inside the plant.

Listed below is a color guide for choosing the fruits and vegetables that will provide these powerful healing plant nutrients. Make a conscious effort to include a variety of these healthy colors in your daily diet. Not only will you get more nutrients, but your meals will become more fun and enjoyable.

  • Orange = Contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant that supports immune function.
  • Yellow-Orange = Provides vitamin C, which detoxifies and inhibits tumor cell growth.
  • Red = Holds lycopen, an antioxidant that reduces cancer risk.
  • Green = Contains folate and iron, which are essential to building healthy cells and genetic material.
  • Green-Light =Provide indoles and lutein, which eliminates excess estrogen and carcinogens.
  • Green-White = Hold allyl sulfides. These can destroy cancer cells and support a healthy immune system.
  • Blue (fruits) = Contain anthocyanins that destroy free radicals.
  • Red-purple (fruits) =Provide reservatrol, a plaque reducer and mineral chelator.
  • Brown (legumes, whole grains) = Are high in fiber, carcinogen remover and digestive aid.

Filling your diet with many colorful fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you need to stay healthy, happy, and vibrant. Think 'rainbow' the next time you prepare your plate.

The Connection Between Brain Function, Behavior, And Your Emotions

There are three parts of the human brain, referred to as the "triune brain." Paul D.MacLean, an early research director for the National Institute of Mental Health, postulated the Triune Brain Theory. It states that the human brain is a product of three stages of evolution and is actually three separate brains that have evolved into one brain over long periods of time.

Three Parts

The first section [the lowest portion of the brain] is comprised of the top part of the spinal cord, the medulla oblongata, the pons, and the cerebellum. MacClean calls this “the reptilian brain.” As he stated, “at its base [the human brain] was a variation in the elaboration of the reptilian brain."

The limbic system [located in the mid-portion of the brain] states MacClean, "was an elaboration of the new mammalian brain from the Jurassic period". He termed it the "mid-brain" or the neo-mammalian brain (new mammal).

The upper most and largest part of the human brain, the cerebral cortex, encompasses our logic centers, our "intellect." MacClean termed this portion "the neo-cortex" (new cortex).

Fundamental Behavior

The Reptilian or "vegetable brain" [recall the autonomic nervous system functions], is fundamentally concerned with homeostasis, which is involved in regulating all of the body functions that allow each of us to be human, get up every day, and live our lives. If you do not have a well-functioning lower brain, if you have a tumor, if you have a trauma, if you’re in an accident, if something happens to your brainstem, you may no longer have the capacity to control the day to day homeostatic functions to maintain your life.

Interpreting Information

Embedded inside the Limbic System is a structure identified as the Reticular Activating System, which has pathways as well as neurons traveling throughout the lower brain, up through the medulla oblongata, across the Limbic System, and into the Neo-Cortex or the "thinking brain".

The Limbic System and Reticular Activating System interpret sensory motor messages that are "incoming" from the person's environment. It is in this portion of the brain that we not only interpret the "incoming stimuli and information," but we also select methods for survival and adaptation.

Here is where it gets exciting to put the anatomy and physiology of brain function and the psychology of personality together!

Putting It All Together To Survive

We know the neo-cortex is our thinking, intellectual brain – our "smart brain" – and most of us know individuals who are brilliant academically or intellectually yet they are emotionally dysfunctional in the extreme. Our thinking brain would presume that being "smart" or intellectually capable would exercise dominion over one's emotions, however, the missing piece of information here is that our emotions actually are a survival adaptation mechanism that each of us individually develops as we process our early environment and social conditioning. Nothing is more powerful in the human being than its drive to survive! Hence, our emotions win the day in the battle between thinking and feeling.

It is critically important for each of us to understand that our emotions represent how we learned to adapt in our surroundings and environment, especially during the first 0-5 years of our development. Our familial "input" taught us, as did Pavlov with his dogs, how to respond to the stimuli we received as infants and toddlers.

Your Brain And Relationships

This embedded neurological conditioning is not overcome by the thought process, as the thought process for humans is the "newest" component to our primordial brain. It is in the adaptive portion of our brain where we form our "personality" and where we become conditioned to create and interact within relationships.

When we understand the possibility that the interpersonal issues that frustrate us may come not from "being difficult" or having "bad intent" but rather from our drive to survive and our interpretation of the stimulation and environment we were conditioned by, then we can begin to be "kinder and gentler" towards ourselves and others.

In summary, our emotions are the way we learn to live and survive in our world. We cannot "think them" into changing, but we can step back and appreciate the service and challenge they offer us in our daily lives.

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Tylenol for a Broken Heart?

Here is a very interesting bit of research. Although I have shared this information on a national blog I write for, the information was so interesting that I wanted to share it again, here with you.

Last year there was a study conducted at the University of Kentucky, College of Arts and Sciences, that was examining the connection and possible overlap between physical pain and emotional pain. This particular study had 62 participants who were filling out the “Hurt Feeling Scale”, a self-assessment tool which measures an individual’s reaction to distressing experiences. In addition, the study was using doses of the active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, as art of its protocol. 

The researchers separated the study volunteers into two groups. The first group, after filling out their self-assessment tools, were given 1,000 mg of the acetaminophen. This is a dose that is equal to one Extra Strength Tylenol. The control group however, received a placebo  instead of the acetaminophen.

The finding from this study showed that the control group without the acetaminphen, after three weeks, did not experience any change in the amount of intensity of "hurt" feeling during the three week period. However, the group that did receive the active ingredient reported a noticeable reduction of "hurt" feelings on a regular, day-today basis.

The outcomes were so interesting that the researchers started a second study cohort group of 25 different volunteers, but this time upped the amount of acetaminophen to 2,000 mg daily and added computer games that were designed to create social rejection and a feeling of isolation in the participants. Also new to the study was MRI scanning which were able to identify when the participants had feelings of social rejection occur.

Now here is the "gold" of this research – the outcomes demonstrated that the area of the brain where emotional discomfort is felt is the same location that the physical pain is experienced in. This would explain why the group that was taking the acetaminophen, while having not physical pain, reported less feelings of hurt and rejection than the group that was not taking the acetaminophen but rather a placebo substance.

Geoff MacDonald, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto who is an expert in romantic relationships, co-authored this study. MacDonald states that our brain pain centers cannot tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain.
So, while Tylenol is not recommended to be used routinely as it can lead to liver and digestive system disturbances, knowing that it can take away the pain of a broken heart, it may soon be that our therapists as well as our physicians will recommendation that we “take two Tylenol and call me in the morning” for heartache as well as for headache!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/227298.php http://web.psych.utoronto.ca/gmacdonald/Research%20Interests.html

With all good wishes,
Georgianna

Copyright 2011, G. Donadio All Rights Reserved

Infertility and Stress

When a couple desires to have a child together and they are unable to conceive, it can be a time of great stress and upset for both partners. The inability to conceive, and the resulting longing that accompanies it, can be one of the most painful and difficult things a couple can experience together.

A number of years ago, in the New England Journal of Medicine, an article appeared that caught my eye because at that time there were a significant number or couples in my practice who were experiencing infertility. The article stated that often, regardless of the advances in medical technology and the various in-vitro methods available, a woman will ony become pregnant when her body is ready to carry a conception to term.

This wisely suggests that there are a number of reasons a woman may not conceive when she wishes to; and that the body’s innate intelligence knows when the best time and condition for a successful conception and birth of her baby is. The article also went on to say that stress is the number one reason women do not conceive when they wish to.

This is well demonstrated with women who adopt a baby when they cannot conceive, settle into motherhood, only to find that they are pregnant – something they or their doctors did not think would happen. The discussion of why women, in other cultures, become pregnant more easily that women in the US always leads back to our lifestyle and the abundance of stressful living we have in the US.

How does stress actually cause infertility? Here are the facts –

1. When we become stressed for periods of time, our body must make more cortisol, an adrenal hormone that deals with stress adaptation.

2. To provide this additional cortisol, the body diverts the production of sex hormones into the production of cortisol. This reduces fertility. Under stress, sex and reproduction is the first thing the body ignores.

3. Excess levels of cortisol interfere with oxytocin, the hormone required for fertile egg implantation in a woman’s uterus lining.

4. Excess stress over time suppresses the immune function as well as interferes with healthy digestive function that can lead to malnutrition.

If you or someone you know wants to conceive and is having a difficult time, they may greatly benefit from becoming familiar with this information and finding ways to decrease their anxiety about becoming pregnant, or reduce their lifestyle that may be causing high levels of physical stress.

With all good wishes,
Georgianna

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio