Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being

Sheila Olson is at it again with another fantastic article which I am sharing here. Let Sheila guide you towards optimal well-being!

Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being
by Sheila Olson

Being healthy is a goal that we all have, and we are frequently exposed to countless trends that promise to drastically improve our well-being overnight. Of course, that isn’t realistic on any level. What our minds and bodies need is long-term commitment. If you’re interested in improving your entire well-being, check out the following tips.

Center Yourself

When left unaddressed, stress can occupy our thoughts throughout the day and leave us restless at night. Unfortunately, our physical health is directly connected to our mental health. After all, stress can disrupt sleep, impede focus, and leave us with a host of physical issues. Yet, with the right tools, you can learn the proper ways to manage it.

A good starting point is meditation. Mindfulness habits can balance our emotional states, leaving us physically and mentally healthier as a result. Beginning a practice can be as easy as spending 10 minutes in a quiet place every day. Thanks to the internet, you can also use guided tutorials to help you learn that process. How you explore meditation is up to you. You may want to focus on breathing exercises, or you might prefer a room dedicated to emotional centering.

Clean Your Air

It’s natural to assume that our homes are a refuge from pollutants, but sometimes that isn’t the case. We may have pets that shed, or we use cleaning chemicals that do more harm than good. This decline in air quality can cause many health issues, such as asthma or allergies. Fortunately, you can drastically cut pollutants by investing in an air purifier. These devices filter air at the microscopic level. They won’t purge our homes completely of contaminants, but you can notice marked improvement in both your health and air quality. Before you choose a specific model, learn more about the products on the market. There are several different kinds of purifiers available, so know what you need before you buy one.

Contextualize Fitness

Being active shouldn’t be a chore; if it is, then you need to find routines that you enjoy to make healthier living more sustainable. Don’t rely on bruising sessions at the gym to achieve your goals, as this can lead to burnout. Instead, remind yourself that all activity counts. That might be walking through a park or playing basketball with a group of friends. Do you work out best with others? Join a sports team, or take up regular jogs with your buddies. Above all, give yourself manageable goals that you can work toward, and make sure you follow through with them. By having a positive mindset, you can keep your fitness moving forward.

Focus on Sleep

Having a good night’s rest is easier said than done. However, sleep recharges one’s emotional and physical batteries. So, get to the root cause of any restlessness and find a solution. Do you drink caffeine? Limit it as best you can, and consider a cutoff point in the early afternoon. Are you using electronics? They may seem ideal to help you unwind at the end of the day, but they can override your body’s sleep processes. Don’t overlook your environment, either. If it’s bright, invest in blackout curtains. Likewise, keep your room cool to help your body prep for sleep. Identifying the source may mean replacing your mattress or changing your decor. Whatever the cause, though, you can rejuvenate your health with sleep.

Embrace Positive Living

Unhealthy habits can be a significant obstacle to wellness. They are hard to stop, but doing so can be transformative. Negative habits can have various underlying causes, so it’s important to determine what they might be. This can help you understand certain patterns and avoid them in the future. However, don’t just try to drop an unwanted habit “cold turkey.” Instead, challenge them by adopting positive alternatives. If you smoke when you’re feeling stressed, find a substitute that you can use to manage your anxieties. Don’t end your nights on a stressful note by checking social media or email. Positive living is a strategy that adds up over time and can become a central part of your day-to-day life.

Good health is not a fad. It’s perfectly achievable by making easy adjustments to our lifestyle and outlook. Make your well-being a priority every day.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Do you have food intolerance?

Image ID : 29041123 Copyright : guniita

What is food intolerance?

Have you ever noticed that when you eat a certain food, such as tuna, blueberries, avocado, asparagus or broccoli, that you get extremely bloated to the point that you are extremely uncomfortable? Since the foods I mentioned are celebrated for their many nutritional benefits, it might not occur to you that you most likely have an intolerance to that food. Up to 80% of the U.S. population has some form of food intolerance.

Most people are aware of food allergies, but food intolerance is a different phenomenon which can have a tremendous effect on a person’s quality of life. Food allergies appear quite suddenly, from seconds to minutes after ingestion of the offending food, and can be life-threatening, whereas food intolerance is a more gradual process (taking hours to a couple of days for symptoms to emerge), not life-threatening, and may only occur after a large amount of the food is eaten. Food allergies and food intolerance can both cause similar symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, but food intolerance is notorious for causing bloating, heartburn, irritability, headaches and general malaise. The most common food allergy triggers are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, soy, wheat, milk and eggs, while the foods most commonly associated with food intolerance are dairy products, gluten-containing grains, eggs, citrus, beans, cabbage, and broccoli.

People who are allergic to certain foods know that even a small amount of the food can trigger an allergic response, and the response occurs every single time the person is exposed. The immune system reacts to the food by causing a release of IgE antibodies, which then cause a release of histamines and cytokines designed to attack the offending agent. Sometimes the entire body is affected by this response, and symptoms such as shortness of breath, hives, rash, or a sudden drop in blood pressure can occur. Food intolerance, in contrast, is more insidious, and may only occur if a large amount of the triggering food is eaten or if it is consumed frequently. Trigger foods will cause a rise in IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies, causing the body to mount a delayed reaction which is characterized by mostly gastrointestinal symptoms, but which can cause other symptoms as well. Regardless of how the body reacts, the discomfort caused by poor digestion of the food can be enough to make the sufferer miserable.

Why does food intolerance occur? There are several explanations. One cause is enzyme deficiency. All enzymes are specific to one type of molecule, such as lipases which break down fats. Sometimes an individual can be deficient or completely lacking in a very specific enzyme which is required for digestion of a particular food. A common example is found in lactose intolerant individuals who do not have enough lactase to break down the milk sugars into their constituent parts for absorption in the intestine. The lactose cannot be broken down so it sits in the intestine, causing bloating, spasm and diarrhea when it sits in the digestive tract. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population suffers from lactose intolerance, which amounts to a lot of bloated bellies from the consumption of dairy products.

Another common type of food intolerance is to gluten. Gluten is highly resistant to digestion as it is, and in some individuals, the gluten cannot be broken down at all. The problem with gluten is that it is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut, so avoiding gluten can be challenging to say the least. Approximately 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, while about 15% have gluten intolerance. Regardless of whether someone has celiac disease or gluten intolerance, ALL gluten must be avoided. However, if there are occasions in which completely avoiding gluten is impossible, digestive enzymes, specifically DPP-IV, can help individuals to digest meals containing gluten.

The list of substances which people may have an intolerance to doesn’t stop there. Some individuals cannot break down phenols, including salicylates, due to insufficient amounts of xylanase, and suffer from behavioral and learning disorders, including ADHD and autism. Some individuals are unable to break down disaccharides, an intolerance which is closely linked to irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Candida overgrowth and autism. As if all that wasn’t enough to worry about, there are chemical substances in foods which can spark intolerance, such as caffeine, aflatoxins in undercooked beans, amines in cheeses, artificial colorings and flavorings, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, nitrates, MSG, sulfites and salicylates. Salicylate intolerance can cause a susceptible individual to react to large amounts of salicylate-containing foods, particularly citrus fruits, teas, mint flavoring, berries and processed foods with flavor additives.

The digestive tract regularly takes the brunt of foods, medications, hormones, and chemical additives which can interfere with repair of the gut lining, causing increased intestinal permeability which is more commonly known as leaky gut. Leaky gut is characterized by the loosening of tight junctions between the cells which line the gut, thus allowing food molecules to pass through. These free floating food molecules are viewed by the immune system as a threat and will mount an immune response which manifests as the signs and symptoms of food intolerance. Think of all that food sitting in the gut, undigested. Pretty unnerving, huh?

How to diagnose food intolerance

Diagnosing food intolerance can be extremely difficult since the signs and symptoms often mimic those of food allergy. One method of ferreting out which foods are involved in a food intolerance is keeping a food diary in which all foods eaten are recorded, along with symptoms and their time of onset. After suspected trigger foods have been determined, an exclusion diet can be implemented, in which those foods are removed from the diet for weeks to months. If the symptoms disappear during the exclusion phase, potential trigger foods can be re-introduced after this phase is completed in order to determine which substances are problematic. If the food intolerance is mild, a small amount of the food will not trigger symptoms, and in many cases may still be consumed, especially if enzymes are taken to aid in digestion. Essentially, many people can return to foods which they were mildly or even moderately intolerant of after avoiding it for a period of time.

Blood testing is considered the most reliable and comprehensive form of testing for food intolerance, but there are only a few laboratories which specialize in this type of test. ALCAT, Pinnertest.com and HEMOCODE Food Intolerance System are laboratories which offer food intolerance testing via serum analysis, with ALCAT considered the largest food intolerance testing group in the U.S. Some insurance plans will cover part or all of the expense of the testing, so it is always worth inquiring about insurance coverage. Some testing panels also provide a detailed rotation diet which patients can follow when they are ready to reintroduce the foods of which they are intolerant.

When Your Arms Are Too Short…

 

As someone who grew up with myopia (nearsightedness), I never imagined that my reading vision would fail me.  Yet I have spent the last four years holding menus at arm’s length to make it easier to read the food selections.  Within the past year, I adopted the habit of grabbing my reading glasses first thing in the morning when I grab my phone.  Do you know why?  Because my close-up vision has become so dim that if I dare to construct a social media post without my glasses, I end up finding typos on my caption or hashtags.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I wear my glasses when sitting at the computer and reading a considerable amount of material, because it reduces eye strain.  

The end result is that I either grab glasses, or wish that my arms were longer.  I also wish that restaurants filled with romantic ambience would scrap the low light conditions in favor of slightly brighter light which would make it possible for all but the most elderly and vision-challenged to see.  

Presbyopia (the age related stiffening of the lens of the eye, which interferes with its ability to contract and diffract the light) has reared its ugly head and taken up residence permanently in my daily life.   And despite the fact that I had the knowledge base to realize that presbyopia would color my life after the age of 50, I am still surprised at how sudden and noticeable the vision changes have been.  

I went from not being able to see the big E on the Snellen eye chart from my childhood into my late 40’s, to struggling to read receipts in my 50’s and wondering,  “Is that a 6, or an 8?”, or, “Is that a 3 or a 5?”  It’s pretty frustrating.  There have been instances in which I have picked up products with the intention of reading the product ingredients, but I often cannot read them at all.  

What’s really strange is that it makes me feel a bit disconnected from the world, since once sense is noticeably dulled. Who else feels that way as a result of having age-related loss of near vision?