Natural Solutions for Anxiety & Depression

Natural Solutions for Anxiety & Depression

Your brain and gut are in constant communication, connected by an information highway known as the vagus nerve. Given that your entire body relies on your brain for its basic operating instructions, you might be shocked to learn that far more communication reaches the brain from the gut than the other way around!

Often called the ‘feel good hormone,’ serotonin acts as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter in our body. Low mood, depression, anxiety and even autism are associated with altered serotonin levels. For all of its importance to mental well being, you might expect that the brain is where we find most of the body’s serotonin, but it’s not. In fact, the gut contains the vast majority of the serotonin in our body (about 95%) AND is the home of our immune system.

The health of our brain and our digestive tract are intertwined; what goes on in one greatly affects the function of the other. Our thoughts can have a significant impact on our digestive function: a case of nerves can lead to butterflies in the stomach, and significant daily stress can trigger flares of IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. And yet, our mental well being is similarly dictated by our digestive well being. Those with irritable bowel syndrome tend to have far higher rates of mental illness.

Natural Remedies

  • Exercise: Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
  • Meditation: Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions and thoughts. Brain imaging found that meditation-related anxiety relief was associated with activation of the areas of the brain that are involved with executive function and the control of worrying. Meditation-related activation of these areas was directly linked to anxiety relief.
    • Check out these meditation apps: Headspace, The Mindfulness App, Calm
  • Relaxation Exercises: No one can avoid all stress, but you can counteract its detrimental effects by learning how to produce the relaxation response, a state of deep rest that is the polar opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response puts the brakes on stress and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.
    • Deep breathing: The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
      • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
      • Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
      • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
      • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
    • Progressive muscle relaxation: a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. With regular practice, it gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body.
      • Loosen clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
      • Take a few minutes to breathe in and out in slow, deep breaths.
      • When you’re ready, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
      • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
      • Relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and how your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
      • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
      • Shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
      • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups.
      • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
    • Writing: journaling or other forms of writing can help people cope better with anxiety. This can be a thoughtful, in depth experience, or you can write down whatever comes to mind as quickly as you can. Your writing does not need to be legible, just as long as you are getting out all of the thoughts that come to mind.
    • Time Management: Some people feel anxious if they have too many commitments at once. Having a plan in place for the next necessary action can help to keep this anxiety at bay. Effective time management strategies can help people to focus on one task at a time. Book-based planners and online calendars can help, as can resisting the urge to multitask.
    • Aromatherapy: Smelling soothing plant oils can help to ease stress and anxiety. Certain scents work better for some people than others, so consider experimenting with various options. Try lavender, chamomile, rose, orange, sandalwood, ylang-ylang.

 

Foods to Focus on

Certain foods may help lower the severity of symptoms, mostly due to their gut & brain-boosting properties.

  • Salmon: EPA and DHA may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can have calming and relaxing properties. Additionally, studies show these fatty acids can reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction that leads to the development of difficulties like anxiety and depression.
  • Avocado: rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fat that may help to lessen anxiety.
  • Chamomile: contains high amounts of antioxidants proven to reduce inflammation, which might decrease the risk of anxiety & depression.
  • Turmeric: a spice that contains curcumin, a compound studied for its role in promoting brain health and preventing anxiety disorders. Curcumin also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to prevent damage to brain cells.
  • Dark Chocolate: flavanols (antioxidants in dark chocolate) improve blood flow to the brain and promote its ability to adapt to stressful situations.
  • Probiotics: probiotics promote mental health and brain function by inhibiting free radicals and neurotoxins, which can damage nerve tissue in the brain which can lead to anxiety & depression. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like full fat yogurt, miso, kimchi and kombucha into your diet.
Cholesterol: Myths & Truths

Cholesterol: Myths & Truths

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque which sticks to the walls of your arteries.

In our bodies, cholesterol serves three main purposes:

  • It aids in the production of sex hormones.
  • It’s a building block for human tissues.
  • It assists in bile production in the liver.

 

 

Myth: Cholesterol is BAD

Truth: Cholesterol is Necessary

There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol to and from cells—low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

  • HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is called the “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body. Your liver then removes the excess cholesterol from your body.
  • LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level can lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. There are two types of LDL cholesterol; fluffy and dense. Dense LDL is actually the one that is more harmful.

 

What causes high cholesterol?

The most common causes of high cholesterol are your genetics and living an unhealthy lifestyle. This can include:

  • Unhealthy eating habits, such as eating lots of bad fats and sugar. Trans fat is in some fried and processed foods. Eating these fats can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Lack of physical activity, with lots of sitting and little exercise. This lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol, especially in women. It also raises your LDL cholesterol.
  • Genetics play a bigger role in your cholesterol than your diet does, as your genetics impact how effectively your liver regulates cholesterol to a healthy level.

 

 

Myth: You Should Eat as Little Cholesterol as Possible

Truth: You Should Eat Good Quality Saturated Fats

Healthy, cholesterol-rich foods are actually good for your body. Good quality saturated fat is healthful, it can be found in some meats, fish, eggs & dairy products. Most of your cholesterol is produced from within the body, so foods with cholesterol aren’t likely to transform your body’s cholesterol levels. Therefore, eating cholesterol-rich foods may not affect the cholesterol that’s already in your bloodstream.

 

Focus on eating foods with good fats, and avoid foods with high levels of trans fats, which raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol. Foods with high levels of trans fats include:

  • Sweet pastries, such as cake, donuts and cookies
  • Sugar
  • Fried food
  • Margarine
  • Processed & packaged foods
  • Fast foods

These foods may contribute to obesity, which can increase your risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

Foods with healthy fats that can lower LDL and raise your HDL cholesterol include:

  • Olive oil
  • Legumes and beans
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Whole grains
  • Avocado
  • Grass fed meats
  • Eggs

 

Myth: High Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease & Heart Attacks

Truth: Inflammation Causes Heart Disease & Heart Attacks

Multiple studies show that people with heart disease or those who experience heart attacks often have normal cholesterol levels. Rather, your triglycerides to HDL cholesterol ratio may play a role in increasing or decreasing your risk for heart disease.

More so than cholesterol, inflammation plays a bigger role in causing heart disease. When the lining of your arteries is injured, it becomes inflamed. With repeated injury, LDL cholesterol can get trapped, creating a dangerous buildup that can turn into plaque. Inflammation is caused by sugar, poor diets, lack of exercise, lack of nutrients, & a stressful lifestyle.

 

Winter Health Talks

Winter Health Talks

Join us for our FREE health talks! Friends & family are welcomed, give us a call to reserve your spot @ 410-717-6610.
*From 6:30-7:15pm on Mondays unless otherwise indicated*

 

 

 

 

 

December 10th: Cholesterol – Myths & Truths

December 17th: Anxiety & Depression

January 7th: Skin Health – eczema, psoriasis, acne, rashes

January 21st: Stress Relief & Mindfulness Techniques

February 4th: Is sugar sabotaging your health?

February 18th: How to have happy & healthy skin

March 4th: Anti-inflammatory cooking tips

March 18th: Stretching & muscle strengthening

April 1st: Healthy household cleaning

April 15th: Women’s health

April 29th: Digestive dysfunction

Supplement Spotlight: Catalyn

Supplement Spotlight: Catalyn

How can you make your body work better?

One way is to eat a healthy whole food diet. Eating well is simple in theory but tougher in practice. Even the super health-conscious among us can’t always avoid processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats.

That’s where Catalyn comes in.

Catalyn’s unique formulation was created to combat deficiencies in nutrition caused by a refined food diet, deficiencies many of us have. Discover the power of nutrients delivered the way nature intended – in whole food form.

How Catalyn keeps you healthy

  • Maintains cellular health
  • Keeps your skin healthy
  • Keeps your heart healthy
  • Supports healthy metabolism

Catalyn was developed in 1929 by Dr. Royal Lee, the founder of Standard Process. It was America’s first dietary supplement made with whole food ingredients, created to address the deficiencies caused by a fast-growing processed food industry. It contains several vitamins and minerals from approximately 15 different whole food sources.

Some Catalyn ingredients include:

  • Sweet potato
  • Reishi mushroom
  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Pea vine
  • Carrot
  • Alfalfa
  • Oats

Supplement Safety 101

Supplements vary greatly in quality, which can sometimes do more harm than good. The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. Manufacturers do not need to be 100% honest on the label. Here are some quotes directly from the FDA about supplements:

  • Federal law does not require dietary supplements to be proven safe to FDA’s satisfaction before they are marketed.
  • For most claims made in the labeling of dietary supplements, the law does not require the manufacturer or seller to prove to FDA’s satisfaction that the claim is accurate or truthful before it appears on the product.
  • Do not assume that the term “natural” in relation to a product ensures that the product is wholesome or safe.

At the Natural Health Improvement Center, we only carry the highest quality supplements available to ensure that your body is getting the purest vitamins and minerals.

If you would like to learn more about how natural whole food supplements can help your body get healthy and stay healthy, give us a call @ 410-717-6610 for a free 15 minute phone consultation.

Knee Pain & Chiropractic Care

Knee Pain & Chiropractic Care

What causes knee pain?

There is no single cause for painful knee joints, but there are generally 2 types of contributing factors:

  1. Traumatic injuries usually happen suddenly and with great force. Examples include falling hard on the knee join, or being stuck on or near the knee.
  2. Chronic injuries develop over a longer period of time, and are often the result of repeated stress to the knee. This stress can cause the knee joints to move out of normal alignment; in some cases, your kneecaps may either be closer to each other or farther apart than they should be.

Other possible reasons for chronic injuries may include: obesity, ligament weakness, not having enough protection from heel-strike shock, foot/ankle problems, improper exercise or lifting techniques, etc. Organic conditions would include infections and tumors. Your doctor will give you a thorough examination which may include range of motion (ROM) and orthopedic testing – to search for possible alignment/tracking problems, and to test for signs of muscle or ligament weakness to help determine the cause of your knee pain.

What are some of the causes of knee alignment problems?

The knee is actually made up of 2 joints involving 3 bones. As a hinge joint, the healthy knee bends in 1 plane of motion much more than it rotates, although some rotation is involved during the gait (walking) cycle. In a normal posture, the kneecaps point straight ahead over the feet. This is the knee posture, which gives the most support to the hips and spine.

Problems occur when a knee becomes misaligned. A cause for this misalignment can start in the foot or ankle. If 1 or both feet has a structural problem (e.g., flat feet, high arch, weak ankles), this condition can cause the leg to rotate improperly and apply tension to the knee. As knee muscles and ligaments weaken, the joint may begin to move out of its proper position. These imbalances have a potential ripple effect, which can affect the hips, low back and neck. That’s why you’ll often encounter someone whose back started hurting after he or she began having knee problems.

How can my healthcare professional help me to get better?

Again, depending on the diagnosis of your condition, your healthcare professional has treatment programs to help restore your knees to normal function. Along with any determination of the need for rest or other therapies (ice, ultrasound etc.), a 3-step program is often indicated:

  • Manipulation (adjustment) of the joint for proper alignment
  • Exercise to build muscle strength and joint stability
  • Use of functional orthotics to help reduce excessive internal and external rotation, and to help absorb heel-strike shock

Developing knee muscles helps to stabilize the joint and to prevent further serious injury. Your doctor may prescribe therapeutic exercises to help you rebuild strength in the knee area. Often these exercises can be done either in your healthcare professional’s office or in your own home.

Balanced support, stability and proper movement are the keys to a healthy knee structure. Ask your healthcare professional if functional orthotics or therapeutic exercises would help you.

Take the Test

  1. Do you stand or walk on hard surfaces for more than 4 hours daily?
  2. Do you participate regularly in any physical sport (basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, etc)?
  3. Are you age 40 or over?
  4. Have you had a prior injury to your knee, back or neck?
  5. Do your shoes wear unevenly?
  6. Do you have joint pain while standing, walking or running?
  7. Is one of your legs shorter than the other?
  8. Do you have knock-knees or bow legs?
  9. Do you have obvious foot problems (bunions, corns, flat feet, etc)?
  10. Do your feet “toe out” when your’e walking?

If you checked yes on any of the above, you may want to visit a chiropractor!

Give us a call to schedule an appointment @ 410-717-6610