Finally Going to Japan

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Next week I will be in Japan for two weeks, and though it hasn’t quite sunken in yet, I will finally see the country which is responsible for 50% of my DNA makeup and many of the  sensibilities and habits which were instilled in me when I was little.

For over 50 years, my desire to visit Japan was coupled with remorse over even wanting to visit without my mother, since she has never once visited the country from which her parents came.  Even more guilt-inducing was thinking about how in the world I could believe that my diluted, half-Japanese self had any right to visit Japan if my mother never got a chance.   For those of you who are wondering why I am not taking my mother on this trip, she is 87 years old, wheelchair-bound, incontinent, and actually refuses to take any trips anywhere due to her weary, broken state.  I know that she will live vicariously through me, as I retell the stories and experiences which I am about to create on this journey to the motherland.

Over the course of 14 days, I will visit Sapporo, Sendai, Kyoto/Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka (the prefecture which my grandfather was from), Kumamoto (the prefecture my grandmother was from), Okayama, and Tokyo.  Most of my destinations within the land of the rising sun will be reached via Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train.

Because samurai blood runs deep on my grandfather’s side (we are also ultimately descended from the Imperial Family of Japan), I look forward to seeing the older architecture in some areas, and also plan to visit the cemetery in Fukuoka where some of my ancestors are buried.  But what I look forward to more than anything else while I am in Japan is the FOOD.

Many Japanese foods, like chawanmushi, mochi, takuan, sukiyaki, agedashi, ramen, sashimi, anpan, and manju, are my comfort foods, and since I will have all types of Japanese cuisine available to me to sample for two weeks, I have a feeling my taste buds will be very happy.  I also absolutely adore seafood (perhaps I was a cat in a past life), and will probably be eating it every single day while out there, which is why I will also continue to take chlorella daily to control the mercury levels in my body.

Once I return home, I look forward to creating a blog post in which I discuss my adventures in Japan.  It will truly be a blessing to visit the exquisitely beautiful country within which my family’s roots sit.

Tips for Seniors Who Want to Burn Body Fat and Get Better Sleep

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Please check out this fantastic article by Karen Weeks of Elderwellness.net on optimizing sleep in older individuals.

By Karen Weeks

karen@elderwellness.net

It’s a well-known fact that we burn calories while we sleep. Therefore, the higher the quality of our sleep, the more fat we will burn throughout the night. But sleep and body fat are even more intertwined than that. Lack of sleep, which is common among seniors, can lead to weight gain, and excess body fat can impede your quality of sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.

If you’re a senior, there are steps you can take to maximize the calories you burn during sleep, and there are also practical things you can do throughout the day that will help you reduce body fat and get better sleep. Here’s what you need to know.

Eat Better

Eating well is a cornerstone of healthy living. And yes, it can even help you sleep more soundly.  If you’re super busy and fast food is a part of your normal routine, consider getting an electric pressure cooker. That way, you can cook fast, healthy meals at home and avoid the consequences of fast food. Before you buy anything, check out reviews of various pressure cookers to compare quality, prices, and ease of use.

It’s also worth considering that there are certain foods you can eat late at night that will give your metabolism a boost, which will help you burn more calories in your sleep. Protein shakes, pistachios, plain yogurt, strawberries, and cheese are just a few examples of healthy late-nightsnacks. Just be sure to keep the portions under control so that your body isn’t working too hard to digest, which can keep you from falling asleep.

Get a Move on It

Exercise is another thing that can help you lose body fat and get better sleep. Not only that, but it also comes with a number of mental health benefits, such as improved self-confidence and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

There are many types of exercise that are safe and beneficial for seniors. Many older adults opt for low-impact movements like swimming, cycling, brisk walking, and using the elliptical. The important thing is that you find something you enjoy and that you do it for at least 30 minutes a day, even if you need to break it into 10- or 15-minute segments.

When you have a solid exercise routine, you will have more energy throughout the day and it will help you feel more tired by bedtime. Morning and afternoon routines tend to work best for improving sleep, as exercising in the evening can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Establish a Killer Bedtime Routine

If you want to get better sleep and burn off more calories, you need a bedtime routine. This can include anything that helps you fall and stay asleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (even on weekends). Also, try a variety of activities that help you wind down and get ready for sleep. Taking a warm bath, listening to soft music, practicing yoga, meditating, and reading a book are all things that can put you in the right frame of mind to drift off.

Make Your Bedroom Dark, Quiet, and Cool

Your bedroom is also important when it comes to healthy sleep, so make sure this space promotes relaxation by keeping it dark and quiet leading up to bedtime and throughout the night.

Keeping the temperature a little cooler can improve sleep as well. Moreover, consider removingthe use of electronic devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, TVs, etc.) from your bedtime routine, as the blue light emitted from the screens can be a sleep disrupter.

If you want to reduce your body fat and get better sleep, make sure you’re following a healthy diet and exercise routine. Also, create a good bedtime routine and turn your bedroom into a sleep haven. Just because poor sleep is common among seniors doesn’t mean you have to accept it as your fate. Making little changes like these might be all it takes to help you improve your overall health and well-being.

Treating Low Testosterone In Women With DHEA

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Many women who have low serum levels of testosterone (normal total levels range between 15–70 nanograms per deciliter) are often wrongly convinced by their doctors, loved ones or coworkers that they are suffering from depression or stress. Low testosterone in women commonly causes fatigue, low libido and sleep disturbances, symptoms which are also found in mood disorders. The fact of the matter is, like men, women become deficient in testosterone as they age, and may manifest a whole host of symptoms.

Here are some common symptoms of low testosterone which women may experience:

muscle loss
muscle weakness
weight gain
increase in fat stores
reduced libido
decreased sexual satisfaction
vaginal dryness
low fertility
irregular periods
dry skin
thinning hair
bone loss
development of cardiovascular disease

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While some women will agree to boost their testosterone levels by using testosterone supplements (either injected or in topical form), there are numerous side effects which may emerge from such therapy. These side effects, some of which are irreversible, include hair loss (male-pattern baldness), weight gain, insulin resistance, acne, excess facial hair, hirsutism, deepening of voice, aggression, enlarged clitoris, and smaller breast size. If a woman is concerned about these side effects, she can turn to DHEA, regular exercise, and certain foods to increase testosterone levels.

A significant increase in serum testosterone levels has been consistently demonstrated during the hours following exercise, so a regular exercise regimen will naturally and safely increase testosterone levels in women. There are also numerous foods which boost testosterone levels in the body. They are:
Bananas
Pomegranate
Ginger
Asparagus
Onions
Tuna
Salmon
Oysters
Eggs
Beans
Nuts

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What if exercise and the introduction of testosterone-raising foods isn’t enough for a woman to create normal testosterone levels in the blood? A hormone which is secreted in the bloodstream by the adrenal glands known as dihydroepiandosterone, or DHEA, can be taken as an oral supplement. DHEA is converted in the body into DHEA sulfate, then androstenedione, then ultimately to testosterone and estrogens. DHEA reaches its highest levels in the body in one’s twenties, when undergoes a slow and steady decline (about 10% for each decade of life). Oh the joys of aging, right? Probably the most concerning aspect of DHEA’s decline is the potential development of major diseases such as heart disease and cancer, but another confounding aspect is the decline in the sex hormones, with a corresponding drop in muscle mass, increase in visceral fat, skin changes, and all the other symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause.

It is widely believed that DHEA is a key hormone which can be administered as an anti-aging treatment for older individuals. One key study followed 30 male and female subjects ranging between 40-70 years of age for six months, during which time they were given 50 mg of DHEA per day for 3 months, then 3 months of placebo, in random order. It only took two weeks for patients taking DHEA to reach the serum DHEA levels of young adults, and after 3 months on DHEA therapy, the majority of subjects reported improved sleep, more energy, and less anxiety. Another study which examined women between the ages of 45-55 found that the subjects who were given 50 mg daily of DHEA had significantly higher testosterone levels than women who were in the placebo group.

If you are a woman considering boosting your blood testosterone levels with DHEA, please make sure to get a full workup and bloodwork from physician who is well-versed in hormone replacement therapy to determine whether you are indeed deficient in testosterone. I always advise starting with DHEA as opposed to testosterone, since the side effect profile of DHEA is much more tolerable than that of testosterone. I also recommend getting your DHEA supplementation compounded with pregnenolone from a well-respected compounding pharmacy for the best purity and quality. You may still experience some side effects from DHEA supplementation, especially at higher doses (in excess of 25 mg daily). These side effects include oily skin and acne, skin thickening, hair loss, stomach upset, headache, insomnia, high blood pressure, changes in menstrual cycle, facial hair in women, deepening of the voice, and fatigue.

REFERENCES
Morales AJ, Nolan JJ, Nelson JC, Yen SS. Effects of replacement dose of dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women of advancing age. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994 Jun;78(6):1360-7.

Do You Need Probiotics?

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Probiotics supplements have become so ubiquitous that it can be confusing to try to determine which ones you should take. You may even be asking yourself if there is any point to taking probiotics, especially if you are already taking a handful of nutritional supplements.

So What Are Probiotics Anyway?

Our digestive tracts serve as the home for many billions of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungi which are actually beneficial to us and essential for normal function. These living organisms, collectively known as the micro biome, are consumed either in foods or in a probiotic supplement, and are vital to not only gut health, but to our immunity and overall health.

Probiotics were discovered by Elie Metchnikoff, who is known as the father of probiotics. He noticed that inhabitants of rural sections of Bulgaria would live to ripe old ages despite living in extreme poverty. When he discovered that they consumed sour milk, he encountered the gut-friendly bacteria which are now known as probiotics.

Another interesting manner in which humans acquire beneficial bacteria is through the birth canal, where a newborn will be exposed to Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Escherichia coli, and Bifidobacterium. This is the main reason why infants who are born via C-section have weaker immune systems and are more susceptible to allergies.

What exactly do probiotics do? They are believed to protect us in two ways. The first is the role that they play in our digestion. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad gut bacteria, so what gets in the way of this? It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution. Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

Since our immune response protects us from germs, and also since beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts are vital to optimal immunity, it makes sense to replenish our guts with probiotics. If our digestive tracts are deficient in probiotics, we are more susceptible to infections, autoimmune disorders, and allergic reactions.

In order for a microbe to be designated as a probiotic, it must meet the following criteria:
1. It must have a documented health benefit,
2. It must be alive when taken, and
3. It must be administered at levels to offer a health benefit.

You should take at least one billion colony forming units (CFU’s) each day.

If you would like to supplement your diet with foods which contain probiotic bacteria, you can incorporate the following foods into your regimen:
Sauerkraut
Pickles
Kimchi
Kombucha
Yogurt
Goat cheese
Miso soup

What In The World Are Prebiotics, And Why Do You Need Them In Your Life?

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Prebiotics are quite different from probiotics, but they work in tandem with probiotics to have a synergistic effect. For this reason, prebiotics and probiotics are known as synbiotics.

While probiotics are live microbes, prebiotics are a type of insoluble fiber which probiotic organisms use as food. When you take prebiotics, you supply the probiotics you ingest with nutrients they need in order to thrive. These fiber sources (inulin and oligosaccharides) pass through the human stomach and small intestine without being broken down. When they reach the colon, they are fermented, producing short-chain fatty acids which are then consumed by the beneficial microbes which have set up house there.

Prebiotics are found naturally in the following foods:
– Asparagus
– Lentils
– Garlic
– Onions
– Leeks
– Oats
– Artichokes
– Bamboo shoots
– Bananas
– Honey
– Milk
– Mustard
– Rye
– Soybean
– Barley
– Wheat
– Tomatoes
– Sugarcane juice
– Sugar beet

Since the probiotics rely on the prebiotics for food, prebiotics must be taken prior to the probiotics.

Experts are now stating that by taking prebiotics, individuals can treat constipation and irritable bowel disease, immune deficiencies, and even prevent and treat different types of cancer. Other research has proven that consuming prebiotic-containing foods increases calcium absorption and bone mineral density in adolescents as well as post-menopausal women. Other studies suggest that probiotics can promote healthy body weight and optimize energy homeostasis.

Conclusion? It’s a great idea to incorporate either prebiotic supplements or prebiotic-containing foods in your daily regimen, along with probiotics, to ensure optimal gut health, support immunity, and protect against a myriad of disease processes.

Why Influencer Marketing Is Key In The Fitness Industry

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Influencer marketing has become an integral part of our modern culture, and is increasing in popularity as a way for businesses to capture new customers to purchase their products and services. Since the fitness industry is particularly visually centered, and also because it tends to sit on the cutting edge of brand marketing, many of my fitness friends and I have been able to forge long-standing relationships with brands as we bring awareness to their products, while also solidifying our relationships with our followers. It’s a wonderful symbiosis in which everyone wins – the brand has powerful advertising via social media portals, the influencer is able to garner the loyalty of fans by promoting respected items, and the followers are introduced to new and exciting products, usually with an associated discount as a thank you from the influencer and the company which is selling the product.

One critical component to success with influencer marketing, regardless of whether you are a company or an individual influencer, is to be willing and able to adjust to the changes which tend to occur across social media platforms. For example, Instagram and Facebook fairly recently implemented certain regulations on how a post should be tagged, and such regulations are always subject to change. It is vital to stay abreast of guideline changes as they come down the pike.

Another important aspect of influencer marketing is that influencers should be genuinely passionate about the brands they represent. A prime reason why social media marketing is so popular is that followers believe in the influencers they follow, and they want sound, honest advice on what merchandise or services they can purchase which will enable them to reach their fitness goals. Followers want to know what products an influencer has used to obtain his or her enviable physique, what fitness apparel is the most comfortable, functional and flattering, etc. The more honest an influencer is, the more the audience appreciates any recommendations made by that person.

Dr. Stacey Naito

In a similar vein, companies which turn to social media influencers to promote their products or services meet with the best success when they like the influencer’s overall vibe and messages, as well as the target audience which the influencer has built via social media. Fitness influencers of varying ages can also help to expand brand awareness for a company, as can influencers who have a unique perspective (moms, senior citizens, people with diabetes, etc.).

There are many athletes and fitness professionals who essentially fell into the world of brand influencership, partially because they were well-respected by their fitness peers, but mostly because they behaved with integrity and were transparent with their fans and followers about their experiences and struggles with training, diet, and performance. It makes a huge difference when an athlete speaks from the heart, and such candor helps to build up the brands he or she represents. From a personal perspective, I have never endorsed or promoted a brand or product which I did not wholeheartedly believe in, and I know my followers can tell that I am forthright and honest when I post YouTube reviews, blogposts, etc.

We certainly live in a very different age now, one in which people expect different options for their exercise regimens and meal plans. For example, fitness apps are incredibly popular, especially since most of them have tracking software built in so that a user can enter in goals and track progress. Other people specifically want at-home workouts because they either don’t want to join a gym, or don’t feel comfortable working out in a public environment. That’s where some popular fitness influencers can guide followers to workouts they can perform while they are in the comfort of their own homes.

If you are the owner of a fitness-minded company, and you haven’t explored the world of brand influencer marketing, doing so could take your brand to the next level. For aspiring fitness brand influencers, make sure the brands you post on your profile are congruent with what your followers want to see. As long as you are consistent and honest with your marketing, chances are your brand and your following will steadily grow.

5 Fun Facts About Kentucky

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When thinking of American states, the traditionally large and populous ones are the first to come to mind. States like New York, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois are typically the first ones people think of. One of the commonly overlooked states is Kentucky. Often associated with southern culture and located near the heart of the U.S, the state of Kentucky has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike. So if you’re looking for Louisville houses for sale or Lexington real estate then it would probably behoove you to learn some facts and history about the Bluegrass state. So here’s five fun facts about Kentucky.

Horse Capital of the World
If there’s one thing you should know about Kentucky, it’s that they love their horse racing. There are many tracks in Kentucky, and even more horse breeders and jockeys. In fact, the state has been dubbed the horse racing capital of the world since the sport is so prominent in the area. One of the biggest reasons for horse racing’s local popularity is the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest and most popular horse race in the country, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Thousands of people visit the state each year to see the Kentucky Derby, and millions more watch the event on T.V. However, Kentucky horse racing goes well beyond the Kentucky Derby, as the sport is ingrained into the local culture.

Celebrities and Politicians
Like many states, Kentucky is home to a handful of celebrities and famous politicians. Many people associate Abraham Lincoln with the state of Illinois, but the man who couldn’t tell a lie was actually originally born in the Bluegrass state. Ironically, Abraham Lincoln’s archrival, Jefferson Davis, was also born in Kentucky. Kentucky also has a smattering of celebrities born in-state as well. This includes Billy Ray Cyrus, Johnny Depp, Muhammad Ali, Jennifer Lawrence, and George Clooney.

Holidays and Celebrations
Kentucky has also had a handful of contributions to the holidays and celebrations that we hold in America. When it comes to birthday celebrations, they wouldn’t be the same without Kentucky. Two Kentucky residents coined the famous “Happy Birthday Song”, and now it is sung at nearly every birthday celebration across the country. In addition, a resident of the state is credited with creating the holiday of Mother’s Day. According to the story, Mary Wilson was the first to recognize her mother on this holiday before it caught on. Over time more and more people began adopting the holiday. In 1916, Mother’s Day was officially made a federal holiday, however, its origins still trace back to Kentucky.

Food and Beverage
Several famous food and beverages are claimed to have originated in the state of Kentucky. For example, there is a claim that the cheeseburger originated in Kentucky in 1934. Also, the famous restaurant chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken, is true to its name and originated in Kentucky. Kentucky Fried Chicken started out as a small restaurant in Kentucky, but quickly grew to one of the world’s largest fast-food chains. In addition, the popular alcoholic beverage bourbon gets its name from Bourbon County, a county in Kentucky. The name comes from the fact that the county is where the beverage was first distilled.

Fort Knox
One of the most interesting locations in Kentucky is Fort Knox. Fort Knox is one of the most famous Army posts in the entire country. This stems from the fact that the U.S keeps a large portion of its gold reserves at this location. It is said that over half of the U.S gold reserves are stored in this location, totaling several millions of dollars in value. All of this gold in one location means that there is a need for high security. That’s why Fort Knox is one of the most well-guarded places in the world, spawning a saying that spans the entire country. If you’ve ever heard that something is “as secure as Fort Knox”, then now you know why.