26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Floss Your Teeth Daily {Week 24}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Floss Your Teeth Daily

I hear it every time I go to the dentist: “Be sure to floss every day…” In the past couple years I’ve been far more consistent, but despite the fact my mom is a dental hygienist, forming the habit of flossing daily has been one of the most difficult habits for me to form.

Incredibly, Jonathan Levine, a dentist in New York City, says “flossing is actually more important [than brushing] from a medical standpoint.” Wow. Why is it I’d never even consider skipping brushing my teeth, yet I have to force myself to floss every morning? And flossing is actually MORE important than brushing? Hmm…

HOW FLOSSING WORKS

Apparently when plaque is not removed from in-between our teeth it turns into tartar, inflames the gums, and travels through the bloodstream, causing other health issues. When somebody skips flossing for years at a time, it eventually leads to periodontal disease. Chronic inflammation of the gums (periodontal disease) is linked with heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Seems to me it’s a pretty high price to pay for not taking that extra 2 minutes every morning to floss my teeth.

BENEFITS OF FLOSSING DAILY

Boosts Immunity: As mentioned above, tartar travels through the bloodstream and causes other health issues. If you floss daily, it will protect your whole body from germs and infection!

Prevents Obesity: Studies have actually linked periodontal disease to higher body fat! “That means what you eat, and particularly what remains on your teeth after you eat, all contributes to weight gain.”1

Reduces Risk for Stroke: Flossing keeps your heart strong and healthy. If you suffer from gum disease, you are also more likely to develop a stroke.

Protects Unborn Babies: Your chances of delivering prematurely is linked to increased amounts of bacteria on your teeth and gums. Having trouble conceiving? Flossing daily may solve this issue. Remember, the bacteria from your mouth travels through the bloodstream, so if you’re pregnant it’s affecting your unborn child.

baby

Helps Manage Blood Sugar: Those who floss daily have more manageable blood sugar levels than those who do not.

Soothes Arthritic Pain: Do you suffer from joint pain? If so, try flossing. If you have inflammation of the gums (because you don’t floss), that inflammation is likely to spread through your whole body and cause the pain in your joints.

Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s: “Studies now link tooth decay and tooth loss before the age 35 to a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”2

PROPER FLOSSING TECHNIQUE

Floss3

Pull out about 18 inches of floss, wrapping the ends around your fingertips for better control. Gently slide the floss between your teeth, being careful with your sensitive gums. Curve the floss around each tooth and rub it up and down to scrape away plaque. Avoid sawing motions with the floss — that can hurt your gums. If there is plaque visible when you remove the floss between each tooth, rinse it off. When you’re done, throw away the used floss. It can fray during use and collect bacteria. Rinse with mouthwash and brush your teeth.3

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FLOSS?

Morning or evening?

Before you brush or after your brush your teeth?

The answer is yes. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you do it, as long as you do it.

At one point I had been flossing faithfully for many months, having developed a morning routine that motivated me to floss in order to check it off my to-do list. Then, my mom mentioned it was probably best to floss at night. This completely threw me for a loop because I no longer had the same motivation to check this activity off my to-do list when done right before bed. Hence, my habit was slowed to a near halt until I realized how foolish it was for me to switch to doing it at night when it had clearly been more effective to do it first thing in the morning.

Needless to say, floss when it is most convenient for you. The most important thing is that you do it. Every day.

So, have I convinced you to start flossing every day?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Take a Vitamin D3 supplement Daily {Week 23}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Take a vitamin D3 supplement daily

Very few foods have enough vitamin D to supply the amount your body needs daily. Vitamin D is different from other vitamins, because it is a steroid hormone that is primarily obtained through exposure to the sun rather than through diet. Leading vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, estimates that about 50% of our general population is at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Being low on vitamin D gives you a 40% greater chance of becoming ill. It’s also been linked with greater muscle weakness.

Doctors usually recommend 1,000 international units of Vitamin D daily.

SIGNS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY:
Feeling “blue”: In one study, researchers found that individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more likely to report feeling depressed than those who had healthy vitamin D levels.
You’re Overweight: “Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat acts as a “sink” by collecting it.”1 The more body fat you have, the more vitamin D your body needs.
Joint Pain: Dr. Holick says, “vitamin D deficiency causes a defect in putting calcium into the collagen matrix into your skeleton.” This causes pain in the joints, which is often misdiagnosed by many doctors.
Excessive sweating: This is a common, early symptom of not have enough vitamin D. Do you often have sweaty palms? You may be lacking sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
Gut Issues: Gastrointestinal issues that affect your body’s ability to absorb fat may also prevent your body from absorbing enough vitamin D. Do you have IBS, celiac disease, crohn’s disease or some other gastrointestinal issue? If so, it may be impacting your vitamin D levels, as well.
Bleeding Gums: Do your gums bleed every time you brush them, despite maintaining a good health regimen? Believe it or not, this may be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. I have a friend who resolved this very issue by taking a vitamin D supplement through the winter months and being sure to get enough sunlight in the summer.

BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS:
-Prevents chronic disease
-Cuts susceptibility to cancer in half
-Supports optimal health
-Fights infections like colds and flus
-Aids in detoxification (to support liver function)

So what are you waiting for? This is a simple habit to pick up that will improve your life significantly. Go get your vitamin D3 supplements today!

Let me know if you notice a difference!

 

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Spend 10 Minutes Strength Training 2 Days a Week {Week 22}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Spend 10 Minutes Strength Training 2 Days a Week 

It is common knowledge that if you don’t use your muscles they atrophy. Yet, how many of us intentionally work on maintaining or building up our muscles? Doing strength training activities on a regular basis has a myriad of health benefits as seen below:

-Tones & firms muscles
-Makes you feel younger
-Boosts metabolism
-Improves posture
-Improves balance
-Improves sleep
-Reduces stress & anxiety
-Maintains lean muscle mass
Doctors Marty Ross and Daniel Amen advocate individuals incorporating two days of strength training into their weekly exercise regimen. Dr. Amen says, “The stronger you are as you age, the less likely you are to get Alzheimer’s disease.” One of his patients increased one particular function of his brain from 4% to 45% after performing regular exercise over several weeks. In another study, researchers found that participants who weight trained three times a week for 24 weeks improved their memory and concentration skills significantly in comparison with those who only did stretching exercises. In addition to that, muscle building speeds up your metabolism: the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn each day.
It is recommended that on two to three days a week, you do five to ten different exercises: one to three sets of 15 reps each. As you get stronger, increase the number of reps, sets, and/or resistance.
You don’t have to spend hours weight lifting in order to reap the benefits. In fact, participants in one study who strength trained for two days a week for 10 weeks reaped the same benefits of increased muscle mass (3.1 pounds on average) as those who trained for one extra day a week. It’s a mere 15 minute commitment, twice a week. You could even multitask by doing the exercises while watching television twice a week.
Not sure where to start? All you need is two 5lb dumbbells. If you don’t have a floor with a rug, you may want an exercise mat for some of the exercises, as well.
Cover

STRENGTH EXERCISES:

Flutter kicks
Flutter Kicks

Flutter Kicks: Lie flat on your back with your head and arms resting on the ground. Tighten your ab muscles and raise both legs a few inches off the ground. Raise one leg higher than the other, then, as you lower that leg, raise the other higher in the same motion. Continue alternating legs up-and-down slowly for a total of 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat 1-2 more times.

Bicycle
Bicycle

Bicycle: Begin by lying on your back, hands lightly touching the back of your head and legs extended. As you straighten your right leg, twist your upper body to the left- bringing your right shoulder toward your left knee. Reverse this motion, straightening your left leg and twisting your upper body to the right. Continue alternating, as though you’re pedaling a bike, for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat 1-2 times.

SAM_0354
Plank

Plank: Start in almost a push-up position, with your forearms resting on the floor. Tighten your ab muscles and hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat 1-2 times.

Mason Twists

Mason Twists: To perform this exercise, start by balancing on your bottom, knees bent in the air while holding a 5lb dumbbell above your stomach. Twist your upper body to the left for 2 seconds, almost touching the dumbbell to the floor, and then return to the center. Do the same motion on the right side. Repeat 12-15 times total on each side. Rest 30 seconds. Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side.

Lunge
Lunge

Lunge: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at sides, feet about 6 inches apart. Keeping your back straight, step forward with your left foot and lower your body until your right thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Be sure your knee does not extend past your toes (Note: in this picture my left knee was too far forward). Push back to standing position and repeat lunging forward with the right leg. Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps per leg.

Dumbbell Squat

Dumbbell Squat: Start with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your side, feet hip-length apart. Without leaning forward, bend your knees and lower your body. Then, return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Rear Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Rear Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Bend forward at your hips, holding 5lb dumbbells in each hand with your arms extended out in front of you as shown above. Without moving your torso, raise your arms out to your sides (no higher than to your shoulders), then return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.

   Upright Row

   Upright Row: Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you while you are in a standing position. Slowly raise both arms up to your chest, elbows in the air. Lower your arms to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Curl Press

Curl Press: Bend your elbows and hold a 5lb dumbbell just above your shoulders. Extend your arms straight up, then return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Bicep Curl

Bicep Curl: Hold a dumbbell in each hand to the side of your body. Bend your arms at the elbows until you reach your chest. Return to the starting position. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Chest Press

Chest Press: Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet and head flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand just above your chest, arms bent at the elbows. Slowly raise both arms straight up and hold for two seconds. Return to starting position. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

What are your favorite strength training exercises?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Drink Decaffeinated Green Tea Daily {Week 21}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Drink Decaffeinated Green Tea Daily

Did you know green tea is the second most widely consumed beverage around the world? The University of Maryland Medical Center scientists crown this beverage as “the brew with the most potent concentration of polyphenol antioxidants, which fight free radicals, damage DNA, and cause aging, cancer, and stroke, heart disease.” (1)

In addition to the benefits listed below, sipping tea between meals keeps you hydrated, improves your mood, and decreases the occurrence of headaches.

DRINKING GREEN TEA CAN MAKE YOU SMARTER

The phytochemicals contained in green tea may help improve memory and cognition, while the powerful antioxidants may decrease oxidative damage to the mitochondria in your brain. Research has shown that green tea also offers protection from the development of PD and other brain disorders. Marty Ross, MD says, “The tannins and polyphenols of green tea help the body regulate insulin sensitivity while helping the brain maintain a steady supply of glucose, help to create a positive mood, and may prevent brain damage after strokes and other brain injuries by assisting the body’s DNA repair system.”

greentea
Green tea increases the firing of neurons in the brain by blocking Adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In addition to this, the L-theanine contained in green tea causes an increase in the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Studies have also shown that green tea may protect your brain in the long-term against Alzheimer’s disease due to its catechin compounds.

DRINKING GREEN TEA CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT

Green tea boosts your metabolism and has been shown to increase the rate of fat burning. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition declared that those who drink tea regularly tend to have slimmer waistlines. In a randomized controlled 12-week trial done on 240 men and women, the group that drank green tea had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat. (2)

DRINKING GREEN TEA MAY LOWER YOUR RISK FOR CANCER & DISEASE

The antioxidants contained in green tea help to protect the uncontrolled growth of cells, preventing cancer. For example, one study found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, (3)
while another study found that men who drank green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men. (4)
Yet another study done on Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes. (5)

Since green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation, green tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.(6)

greenteasmoothie

Serving Suggestions from Marty Ross, MD:

-Try using cooled green tea in place of milk or water in your smoothie.
-Pour brewed tea over brown rice and cook with vegetables.
-Drink your tea with ice in the summer, adding lemon juice and a mint leaf.
-Substitute green tea for some of the liquid in soup toward the end of its cooking.
-Poach pears in the liquid with cinnamon or other spices.
-Soak peeled hard-boiled eggs in a mixture of green tea and soy sauce for several days.
-Poach salmon in green tea.

How do you like to drink green tea? Leave a comment below.

Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Use Sunscreen {Week 20}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Use Sunscreen

Did you know that one American dies of melanoma almost every single hour? Not only is it dangerous to not wear sunscreen, but Dr. Wendy Roberts says, “You will regret not having worn sunscreen when you look at your skin compared to friends and family who have worn daily sunscreen 20 years from now.”

WEARING SUNSCREEN PROTECTS YOU FROM SKIN CANCER

“Because of the focus on breast cancer and prostate cancer, you might not realize that skin cancer is actually the most common form of cancer in the United States.” (1) Both UVB and UVA rays can lead to cancer. Skin cancer is often difficult to detect, however, and can spread quickly before you even realize you’ve been infected.

Even if you don’t tend to “burn easy,” your skin can still be damaged by the sun over time through repeated exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. “Recently, a researcher reported that if sunscreens were used regularly by children through the age of 18, there would be a 72% reduction in the cases of skin cancer later in life.” (2)

WEARING SUNSCREEN PROTECTS YOUR SKIN FROM WRINKLES

Some call sunscreen “the fountain of youthful skin.” Researchers are finding that 90% of wrinkles are caused by UVA sunlight! The number one cause of premature aging is sun damage and this happens even at low-level exposures to sunlight. Start associating tanning with wrinkles, aging, and disease instead of believing that it is beautiful to be tan.

SUNSCREEN FACTS:

1. Keep in mind that according to Dr. Wendy Roberts, “Expired sunscreen has literally fallen apart, so the formulation no longer works as a sun protectant. You get zero sun protection.”

2. The difference between SPF 30, 50, and 100 is marginal:
SPF 30 blocks 97% UVB rays
SPF 50 filters 98% UVB rays
SPF 100 blocks 99% UVB rays

3. Regardless of the SPF, ALL sunscreens need to be reapplied every 2 hours.

4. Be sure to get “Broad-Spectrum” sunscreen, as it protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

5. You need to apply sunscreen 15 minutes BEFORE being exposed to the sun.

6. You need to use a teaspoon of sunscreen for your face and 3 Tablespoons for your entire body or else the SPF drops down to way less than the labeled amount.

7. If you wear makeup, apply sunscreen on FIRST, then apply your makeup for the greatest protection.

8. Worried you’ll feel greasy, do a little research and find non-greasy alternative sunscreens. There are a plethora of options out there. Don’t use laziness as an excuse!

SUNLIGHT FACTS:

1. 80% of UV rays that cause sun damage penetrate the clouds, so you’re not necessary safe on cloudy days.

2. Between the hours of 10am and 4pm, are the peak hours of ultraviolet radiation, so if nothing else, avoid sunlight during this time every day.

3. Even though most windows block UVB rays that cause sunburn, they still allow cancer-causing UVA rays through. If you’re going to be sitting for long periods of time in front of a window or in the car driving, apply sunscreen.

4. In the winter, the snow reflects up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays, so sunscreen shouldn’t just be used in the summer months.

5. Sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect against the sun’s rays. Try wearing protective clothing or a large-brimmed hat.

 

Do any of these things surprise you? Leave a comment below.

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Serve Somebody {Week 19}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Serve Somebody

Speaking of a research study on toddlers, Prof. Lara Aknin, stated that “these findings show that children are actually happier giving than receiving.” Interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus spoke this very Truth 2,000 years ago: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)?

SERVING OTHERS INCREASES HAPPINESS

Have you ever heard of the hormone “oxytocin”? This hormone is released during and after labor, breastfeeding, sexual intercourse, and when you help others. Whether you give time, money, or other resources, being helpful promotes the release of endorphins, which in turn makes you feel happier. If you are struggling with depression, do something kind for somebody. This act will get your mind off of yourself and your problems and will boost your endorphins.

meandjohn

While I don’t condone much of their resources, I like the imagery offered by an Operation-Meditation article:

“Imagine a child with an injury on his knee—the more he stares at his wound, the more painful it feels, the more he ends up regarding his situation as a cesspool of misery. But imagine that same child, instead of spending the entire day pondering his own wound, sets out to attend to other kids’ wounds. He ends up so busy taking care of others that he forgets about his own injury and his own pain, and he feels really good about nursing away the pain of others.”

This is what often happens when we get our eyes off ourselves and begin to bless somebody else.

SERVING OTHERS CAN HELP YOUR WOUNDS HEAL FASTER

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But a study has shown that an increase of oxytocin after social interaction is correlated with faster wound healing. The researchers believe this is due to the oxytocin reducing inflammation throughout the body. Volunteering has also shown to decrease symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.

SERVING OTHERS WILL ADD YEARS TO YOUR LIFE

Research has shown that volunteering about 2 hours a week over several years reduces mortality rates by 40 percent! In another study, college students who went on mission trips during spring break managed stress over time better than those who did not attend these trips.

missiontrip

WAYS TO SERVE OTHERS:

The Amplified Version of Romans 12:10b says, “Be mindful to be a blessing…” I love that! It’s the idea of consciously looking for ways to bless those around you. How refreshing would it be if we continually kept this at the forefront of our minds as we interacted with others? I think in order to do this, we should have an idea of how we can serve. So I’ve put together a list (by no means extensive) to get your creative juices flowing.

-Fill an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox
-Babysit for Free
-Visit a Nursing Home & talk to the residents
-Rake Leaves for an Elderly Person in the Fall
-Shovel Snow for an Elderly Person in the Winter
-Help an Elderly Person Weed Their Garden in the Summer
-Volunteer to Spring Clean for a Busy Mom
-Volunteer in the Church Nursery
-Volunteer to Lead a Children’s Church or Sunday School Class
-Make a Meal for a Needy Family
-Hand Out Gospel Tracts at Your Local Park
-Volunteer at a Local Homeless Shelter
-Volunteer at a Local Soup Kitchen
-Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity
-Volunteer at the Salvation Army
-Donate Items to Your Local Food Shelf
-Offer Somebody a Ride
-Invite a Lonely Person Over for Tea and Fellowship
-Teach a Child/Teen a Skill for Free
-Volunteer at Your Local Pregnancy Center
-Knit/Crochet Blankets, Sweaters, Hats, etc. and Give Them Away
-Sew Quilts and Donate Them to People in Need
-Hand Out Tracts with $5 Gift Cards to People as They Go Into the Grocery Store
-Go to a Laundromat and Hand Out Quarters as You Converse With People
-Treat Somebody to Tea/Coffee
-Anonymously Pay For Somebody’s Meal at a Restaurant
-Share a Great Book With Somebody
-Allow a Car to Merge in Front of You During Rush Hour
-Let Someone Ahead of You in the Grocery Line
-Buy a Homeless Person a Meal
-Send Someone a Care Package
-Send Somebody an Encouraging Letter, Card, Email, or Text
-Send Flowers to Somebody Who is Grieving or Depressed
-Bless a Family With Home-Baked Goods
-Offer to Grocery Shop for a Mother With Young Children
-Buy Flowers and Hand Them Out at a Nursing Home
-If You Have Musical Talent, Sing/Play at a Local Nursing Home for Free
-Put Together a Bag Filled With Snacks and Hygiene Items for a Homeless Person
-If You Are Athletic, Consider Coaching a Youth Team
-Tutor/Mentor a Child
-Volunteer at an After-School Program

How are you going to serve somebody this week? Be intentional and act on it!

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Use Essential Oils {Week 18}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Use Essential Oils

My grandmother has been using essential oils on her feet, and the benefits and effects left her a believer in essential oils. My sister also used them during her pregnancy and benefited greatly, too. So, their experiences peaked my interest, making me want to try them for myself. I’ve been using the oils now to support a healthy inflammatory response as well as for the occasional aches and pains I experience.

Now I’m hooked on essential oils, just like my relatives!

WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED:

Carrier Oil (Fractionated Coconut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Olive Oil, etc.)
Essential Oils (see blends below for necessary kinds)
10ml roller or spray bottles (preferably tinted)

HELPFUL OILS BLENDS FOR YOUR DAILY ROUTINES:

Need to feel more awake? Try spritzing your clothes with the “Wake Up” blend:

“Wake-up” Blend:
30 drops Lemon
8 drops Eucalyptus
6 drops Peppermint
2 drops Cinnamon
Fill the remainder of a 10ml spray bottle with carrier oil

Struggling with facial blemishes? Try applying the “Blemish” blend to trouble spots:

Blemish Blend:
7 drops Lemon
7 drops Lavendar
7 drops Melaleuca (aka tea tree oil)
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

acne blend

Going to work? Try applying the “Mental Clarity”, “Stress Relief”, or “Focus” Blends to your wrists, neck, or temples:

Clear Thinking Blend:
4 drops Rosemary
6 drops Lemon
2 drops Cypress
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Pressure Relief Perfume Blend:
3 drops Lavendar
2 drops Bergamot
1 drop Roman Chamomile
0.5oz carrier oil

Concentration Blend:
10 drops Peppermint
10 drops Wild Orange
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Need to stimulate your immune system and support a healthy body? Try applying the blends below to your temples or bottoms of your feet:

Immunity Boost:
4 drops Lemongrass
3 drops Cinnamon Bark
3 drops Eucalyptus
3 drops Oregano
3 drops Melaleuca
3 drops Lavendar
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Happy Tummy Blend:
10 drops Peppermint
10 drops Ginger
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Cool-down Stick:
5 drops Lemon
5 drops Frankincense
2 drops Peppermint
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Head Tension Blend:
10 drops Frankincense
10 drops Lavender
10 drops Peppermint
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Seasonal Threats Blend:
5 drops Lavendar
5 drops Lemon
5 drops Peppermint
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

allergy2.JPG

 

Cleaning the house? Use the “All-Purpose Cleaning” blend:

All-Purpose Cleaning Blend:
20 drops Clove
18 drops Lemon
10 drops Eucalyptus
5 drops Rosemary
Fill the remainder of a 10ml spray bottle with carrier oil

Feeling Sore After a Workout? Try massaging your muscles with the “Workout” blend:

Workout Blend:
10 drops Peppermint
6 drops Clove
10 drops Wintergreen
6 drops Black Pepper
Fill the remainder of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Do You Want a Great Night’s Sleep? Try spritzing your pillow with the “Sleep” blend:

Sleep Blend:
4 drops Marjoram
10 drops Frankincense
10 drops Bergamot
12 drops Roman Chamomile
12 drops Vetiver
15 drops Lavender
10 drops Cedarwood
Fill the remainder of a 10ml spray bottle with carrier oil

Are You Experiencing Occasional Aches and Pains? Try applying my “Soothing” blend to those occasionally achy joints and the bottoms of your feet:

Soothing Blend:
15 drops Clove
10 drops Peppermint
10 drops Eucalyptus
5 drops Ginger
5 drops Lemongrass
5 drops Bergamot
3 drops Melaleuca
3 drops Lavendar
Fill the rest of a 10ml roller bottle with carrier oil

Learn more about essential oils here.

 

Do you have a favorite essential oil blend? How do you use essential oils daily?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Drink About Half Your Body Weight in Ounces {Week 17}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Drink About Half Your Body Weight in Ounces

Did you know 60% of your body weight is water?! Every system in your body is dependent upon water. Your brain alone consists of 90% water! Muscles are about 75%, bones 22%, and blood 83% water. Though doctors vary slightly in their opinions about how much water each individual should drink, all of them agree that drinking water is crucial to one’s overall health. Some doctors say you should drink 8 glasses of 8oz every single day (it’s easy to remember, so you can use this rule of thumb if it helps). Others say you should drink half your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water. So determine this ratio, divide your body weight by two.

Body Weight / 2 = Ounces of Water You Should Drink Daily

young girl with bottle of mineral water (isolated on white)

SIGNS YOU’RE NOT DRINKING ENOUGH:

-You get frequent headaches.
-Your urine is bright yellow.
-You have dry skin.
-You have kidney problems.
-You are constipated.
-You experience muscle cramps.
-You feel uncharacteristically fatigued.

BENEFITS OF DRINKING ADEQUATE AMOUNTS OF WATER:

Increases Energy

Drinking water is the fastest route to more energy. As I mentioned earlier, your body is made up of about 60% water, so you cannot live for more than a week without it. Water distributes nutrients throughout your body and it helps remove waste products from your body. It plays so many roles in your bodily functions that it’s no wonder you feel sluggish when you’re dehydrated.

Curbs Hunger

When one is lacking the essential nutrient of water, you feel hungry because your body is trying to motivate you to get the nutrient your body is lacking. This is why sometimes when you feel hungry you may actually just be thirsty. Even when your body is indeed hungry, water can help suppress your hunger. If you are trying to lose weight, drinking more water will help you achieve this end.

Improves Skin

When you are properly hydrated nutrients are carried to all of your body’s cells, nasty toxins are flushed out of your body, your circulation and blood flow improve, and you have a radiant complexion. Many skin issues such as dry skin, acne, wrinkling, or aging can be avoided by drinking adequate amounts of water daily.

Supports Joints

Water provides the needed cushion for your joints, lubricating and protecting them from injury. The moisture received from your body’s water keeps your joints flexible and strong so that you can move without pain. If you have a history of joint pain it is especially crucial for you to drink enough water.

WAYS TO STAY HYDRATED:

1. To get your day off to a good start, drink 16oz of water upon first waking up.
2. Drink 16oz immediately after working out.
3. Carry a water bottle around with you all day long.
4. Sip tea throughout the day.
5. Put it on your to-do list and check off every time you drink 8-16oz.

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6. Drink at least a full cup of water with every meal.
7. Avoid sugary drinks that actually dehydrate you.
8. Check the color of your urine periodically. If it’s dark yellow, immediately drink a glass of water.
9. Try eating water-rich produce like apples, grapes, celery, watermelon, and lettuce.
10. Save money and reduce calories by choosing water when you eat out at restaurants.

 

What do you do to ensure you drink enough water every day?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Learn Something New to Keep Your Brain Healthy {Week 16}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Learn Something New to Keep Your Brain Healthy

When was the last time you took a course or taught yourself a new hobby? Have you resigned yourself to cognitive decline, or are you seeking to be a life-long learner?

New research is finding that with various healthy brain habits, the hippocampus can expand, much like exercised muscles grow. According to journalist Mike Zimmerman, “Our brains produce about 400 new neurons a day, but to be incorporated into our gray matter, they have to develop attachments to other neurons there. That’s what enlarges the hippocampi and adds to what scientists call your cognitive reserve.” One woman grew her hippocampi by 8.6% after a mere 12 weeks of brain training, which is the equivalent of 17 years of brain age reversal!

Denise C. Park, PhD. says learning a new skill that requires multiple thought processes over a prolonged period of time is the key to maximizing your memory as you age. Daniel Amen agrees that spending 15 minutes a day learning something new is the best way to work your brain. “Whenever you learn something new, your brain makes a new connection. But when you stop learning your brain starts to disconnect itself. But this does not mean just doing crossword puzzles. You have to use your whole brain. Doing only crossword puzzles is like going to the gym and only doing bicep curls on your right arm and then going home.”

WAYS TO EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN:

Meditate on God’s Word. Even though humans are just now conducting research that proves the benefits of meditation, the psalmist in the Old Testament proclaimed thousands of years ago, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (NIV, italics added). There is a reason people up through the ages have focused on spiritual disciplines like meditating on God’s Word. [As a side note, I do want to warn that Eastern meditation is NOT the same as Biblical meditation and is d

When meeting someone new, pick out 1-2 things about the person to help you remember who they are. There are people who can memorize up to 50 names in less than an hour. Majid Fotuhi, for example, plays this very game with himself whenever he lectures to large audiences, successfully memorizing around 50 different individuals’ names by the end of his speech.

Read a page from the dictionary every day to increase your vocabulary. I just started doing this and it’s incredible how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time! Researchers in Spain found that individuals with smaller word banks were more likely to have mild cognitive impairment. So building a strong vocabulary now may help you avoid dementia down the road.

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Study a foreign language. Researchers have found that there is visible evidence that learning a new language increases the size of one’s brain. When students who were studying foreign languages were compared with other students just studying medicine or cognitive science, the foreign language students’ brains increased, while the other students’ brains remained the same.

Memorize verses from the Bible. Memorizing things help to tone your hippocampi. And what better to memorize than God’s Word? Romans 12:2 says to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” What better way to renew your mind than by repeating God’s Truth over and over in your mind until you know it by heart? When we do this we will start to think differently and in turn, begin to act differently. We’ll be transformed from the inside out!

Learn to play a musical instrument. Playing music is to the brain what a full-body workout is to your muscles. Neuroscientists believe this is one of the best ways to strengthen brain function because it uses so many varied parts of the brain. It is unlike any other activity in this regard.

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Take dance classes. Dance is believed to be the best form of exercise for the brain. Like all exercise, it pumps blood into the brain, but be required to focus on what step to take next creates new neural paths that increases the pace of information transmission. In one study done on a group of elderly, 76% of those who danced frequently exhibited lesser signs of dementia, compared to those who merely did crossword puzzles or read often.

Read books and articles. Reading helps to increase one’s attention span, decrease the amount of white matter in your brain (an excess of this increases your chances for stroke or Alzheimer’s), heighten the connectivity in the left temporal cortex (responsible for processing language), and make us more empathetic to those around us.

Write (try journaling or starting a blog or writing letters to your friends). Scientists are discovering that professionally trained writers have similarities in brain structure to that of skilled musicians and athletes. Have you ever noticed that writing something down helps you to remember it? That’s because writing stimulates a collection of cells in your brain called the reticular activating system. The RAS is responsible for filtering all the information your brain needs to process and triggers it to pay close attention to the information you are writing down.

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Do Puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles requires both the logical and creative sides of your brain to be exercised. Putting puzzles together sharpens your memory, increases clarity of thought, and improves overall brain function.

Other Worthwhile Learning Pursuits:
-Learn to crochet or knit.
-Study world geography.
-Master oragami.
-Take an art class.
-Learn to speed read.
-Learn morse code.
-Learn sign language.
-Learn how to juggle.
-Learn how to do magic tricks.
-Learn how to bake or cook.

What do you do to keep your brain healthy?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Eat Real Food {Week 15}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Eat Real Food
 
REAL FOOD IMPROVES COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING
Former yo-yo dieter Darya Rose says, “People are finally realizing that what’s good for your health and good for your waistline are the same.” My husband has recently come to this conclusion, too. He’s never had a weight problem, but up until this summer his diet consisted of hot dogs or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day for lunch. He was also known for his sweet tooth. Rarely would he ever skip a night of dessert. But that all changed once he realized that his eating habits were affecting his cognitive functioning.
Neuroscientist Daniel Amen has found that the more obese an individual is, the smaller their physical brain becomes. He likes to call it the “dinosaur syndrome,” in which an individual has a “big body… small brain… become[s] extinct.”  But even if an individual is not overweight, a steady diet of processed and sugary foods (including starches and white flour, rice, etc.) dulls memory skills and spatial learning.
Since changing his diet to include a large salad at lunch, snacking on nuts or fruit or frozen peas, and avoiding all dessert, my husband has repeatedly noted a marked difference in his mood, energy levels, and clarity of thought. He never realized before how much brain fog and fatigue had plagued him.
REAL FOOD IS MEDICINE
God has blessed us with an abundance of food on this earth, but unfortunately in our drive to “simplify” mealtime and increase profits, we have sacrificed our health with the consumption of processed foods. Have you looked at the list of ingredients on that box of macaroni & cheese, lately? Can you pronounce the name of every ingredient used to make your box of crackers? Do you realize how many forms of sugar are hidden in even your tomato sauce and yogurt? [See my previous posts on how to “decrease your sugar intake” and ways to “purge your pantry” for more information on the dangers of sugar and processed foods.]
On the contrary, when you eat food the way God intended, it has great healing properties. I did an entire series on ABC Superfoods if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of various superfoods, but I’ll give you a few examples.
Oats are an effective and far less expensive way to lower cholesterol than drugs are. The pigment lycopene found in tomatoes is believed to help the elderly remain active longer. The bromelain contained in pineapple helps to reduce the risk for cancer and is one of the best anti-inflammatory agents that has been researched. Kale supplies more iron than beef and more calcium than milk.
REAL FOOD CAN BE AFFORDABLE
I can hear your objection: But healthy food is SO expensive! I used to have the very same thought process. However, the more I learn about how unhealthy processed food is, the more I realize I cannot afford NOT to buy healthy food. Did you know that people with diabetes spend about 2.3 times as much on healthcare than those without diabetes? And guess what the number one cause of diabetes is? DIET. Further, those who followed a Mediterranean diet reduced their risk for heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease deaths by 30% in five years. Now which bill would you rather pay: your grocery bill or an emergency room bill? Here are some tips to decrease the cost of real food:
Buy in-season. I make a point to only purchase fruit and vegetables when they are on sale. Sometimes I have to make an exception, but sticking to this one rule has saved me a lot of money and has kept variety in our refrigerator.
Purchase frozen fruits & veggies. When fruits or veggies are not in season, it is best to purchase them frozen. Usually it’s cheaper to buy them this way. These are great for smoothies and stir-fry.
Buy in bulk. I purchase a good portion of my groceries at Costco. Since my husband and I make it a point to eat healthy, we go through a large bag of spinach in a week and a half. Costco definitely has the best bulk deals for our dietary needs.
Make freezer meals. If you are busy and find it difficult to cook from scratch every night, make an extra batch of noodle-less lasagna or homemade quiche and stick it in the freezer for a quick, healthy meal for another night.
Slice & Dice ahead of time. When I get home with my bulk purchase of veggies, I immediately chop them up and put together salads for the coming week. I also slice up carrot and celery sticks and place them in easy to-go containers for a healthy and easy snack later in the week. This one step decreases the temptation for me to grab an unhealthy alternative when I become hungry.
Make Soups. This is the perfect way to use vegetables that have been in your refrigerator a while and need to be used up. It’s also great because you retain all the nutrients in the broth, unlike boiled or sauteed veggies.
Make and pack your own snacks. Rather than purchasing snacks that questionably “healthy,” and usually overpriced, make your own. It’s not as difficult or time-consuming as you may think and will definitely save you money. For more tips on this, see my post “Make & Pack Your Own Healthy Snacks.”
WHAT SHOULD I EAT?
Perhaps you’re wondering what qualifies as “real” food as apposed to “fake.” Here are some suggestions I’ve adapted from Rick Warren’s “The Daniel Plan” and Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” plan.
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To summarize, DAILY you should:

Eat at least one large salad
Eat at least one double-size serving of cooked vegetables
Eat three servings of fruit
Eat at least 1/2 a cup of beans or lentils
Eat at least one ounce of raw nuts or seeds
As you can see in the second photo, Joel Furhman’s Eat to Live Pyramid can be broken down like this:
30-60% of calories consumed = Vegetables (1/2 cooked, 1/2 raw)
10-40% of calories = Fruits
10=40% of calories = Beans/Legumes
10-40% of calories = Seeds, Nuts & Avocados
20% or less of calories = Whole Grains & Potatoes
Less than 10% of calories = Eggs, Fish, & Fat-Free Dairy
Rarely = Sweets, Beef, Cheese, & Processed Foods
Rick Warren’s “food plate” looks a little different, but has the same basic idea:
-50% = non-starchy veggies
-25% = healthy animal or vegetable proteins
-25% = healthy starch or whole grains
-One side of low-glycemic fruit
-Drink water or caffeine-free herbal teas
 
WHAT IS A SERVING?
If you’re like me, you’re confused by the term “serving.” I used to be clueless as to what equaled a serving when it came to fruits and vegetables. As a general rule, 1 serving usually equals a half cup or 1 piece of fruit. Here is a list of servings sizes for commonly eaten fruits and vegetables:

1 Small Apple  = 1 serving

1 Whole Peach = 1 serving

3 Broccoli Spears = 1 serving

12 Baby Carrots = 1 serving

1 Large Tomato = 1 serving

1 Large Sweet Potato = 1 serving

1 Large Ear of Corn = 1 serving

2 Large Celery Stalks = 1 serving

2 Cups of Raw Greens = 1 serving

1 Cup Cooked Greens = 1 serving

1 Large Bell Pepper = 1 serving

1 Large Banana = 1 serving

8 Large Strawberries = 1 serving

2 Large Plums = 1 serving

32 Grapes = 1 serving

1/2 cup Raisins = 1 serving

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE VEGETABLES?

No worries, there are some very creative ways to “hide” vegetables in tasty, everyday recipes!
Making a casserole? Throw in some cooked spinach or mushrooms.
Blending up a smoothie? Include fresh kale or spinach (you won’t taste it)!
Using the grill? Alternate chunks of meat and pineapple with peppers, onion, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
Baking muffins? Add shredded carrots or zucchini to the mixture.
Making meatloaf? Add mixed vegetable medley into the recipe.
Having pasta? Dice and saute vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, or spinach, then cover with marinara sauce.
Eating Pizza? Spread olives, spinach, mushrooms, etc. before sprinkling cheese on top.
In the mood for Mexican? Set up bowls with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, etc. for make-your-own-tacos.
WHAT IF I’M SICK OF TOSSED SALAD?
I hear you. After my doctor gave me the very short list of foods I was allowed to eat while being treated for Lyme Disease, I became very fed up with salad after 6 months. I then went on a strike against salad for the following 6 months. Thankfully I’ve now found a variety of ways to eat salad, so I eat one nearly every day. Here are some interesting and tasty alternatives if you have become fed up with eating salad.
What are your favorite “real food” recipes?