More Sunshine = Longer Life

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Thank goodness summer is on the way.

I am so happy to finally feel sunshine on my face again.

Picnics, gardening, bare feet, after dinner strolls… they all become so much easier with a little sunshine!

 

 

But that means more sun exposure… typically something we read a lot of negative things about. 

And as usual, each time the weather turns warmer I get tons of emails flooding me asking for my recommendation on a good sunscreen (I give you a link to the one I use below!)

So today, I thought it would be important to share with you something not often talked about — something more uplifting about the healing power of spending time in the sun… and that is:

 

…medical proof that time spent in the sun actually lengths your lifespan! 

 

It’s really important to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and now a major medical study backs that up. 

Published in the Journal of Internal Medicine on March 16, 2016, researchers found that folks who avoided sun exposure had a decreased life expectancy, worse than even heavy smokers who bathed in the sun. 

This study looked at almost 30,000 participants (females ages 25 – 64 year old with no history of malignancy) over a span of 20 years, tracking health outcomes and life span.

What did they find?

 

Researchers found that even when smoking was factored in, the life span of those who avoided the sun was  over 2 years shorter than heavy smokers who got the highest amount of sun exposure!!! 

So even heavy smokers who soaked in the sun their whole life outlived non-smokers who avoided sun exposure… by several years.

Participants who avoided the sun had higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary disease. 

And the results were dose-specific… meaning that the benefits of increased life expectancy with sun exposure went up directly in correlation to the amount of sun exposure.

 

Longer time in the sun = longer life span. 

That simple.

 

And yes, though risk of skin cancer did increase with increased sun exposure, the patients that had skin cancer occur in relation to sun exposure actually had a better long-term prognosis!

This on top of recent research revealing that melanomas that occur in patients with low Vitamin D actually have more malignantly aggressive melanoma and their prognosis is worse than those with adequate Vit D from sun exposure. 

And even further than that, there are plenty of holistic things we can do to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays (see below) so that’s not a good reason to avoid ever heading outside. 

Because these results show that avoiding the sun is a “risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking” — directly quoting the medical report.

 

To safely get some sunshine on your pineal gland daily

(but dramatically reduce your risk of skin cancer)

just follow these 5 simple holistic steps:

 

Step 1: Go outside the early AM or later PM hours

 

Simply avoid the sun during the peak UV hours in mid-day — this is the easiest thing you can do to decrease skin cancer risk.  Peak sun hours (10AM – 4PM) have the most UV radiation.  You want to get some incidental sun exposure (10 minutes or more) on some exposed skin daily, but to decrease the UV intensity ideally you want that exposure to be in the earlier AM or later PM hours!   I highly recommend getting early morning sun exposure every single day — it’s an easy, instant way to boost mood, cure insomnia, even boost your libido.  In fact, if you can’t get outside into the sunshine before 10 AM each day, invest in a light box and watch your health improve.

 

Step Two: Wear a hat, wear sunglasses

 

The second best way to protect from the sun is uv protective clothing.  Wearing hats, sunglasses and even sun protective clothing like rash guards if you are going to be outside all day.  Just throwing on a hat is a major step towards protecting vulnerable scalp, ears, neck and nose skin.  And be certain to protect your eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses daily!  UV exposure is one of the leading causes of lens opacity (cataracts) as you age.  You can prevent this by diligently protecting your eyes for your entire lifetime with sunglasses.

 

Step Three: Use Mineral Sunscreens

 

The third best way to protect routinely exposed skin (most important on the face, scalp, forearms, etc…) is to have a non-nanosized, non-chemical based sunscreen on hand. 

Sunscreens that include chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate should be immediately ruled out (here’s a blog post I wrote for you outlining exactly why this is so important!)

Use mineral based sunscreens only — zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide — and even those should not be nano-sized, please!

Here is a link to the one I use.

 

 

Did you know that Curcumin actually kills cancer cells in laboratory studies and has been specifically shown to target and kill melanoma cancer cells?

Read this study published in the International Journal of Cancer in October 2016 for a good overview on what we know about curcumin and melanoma so far.

If you want to add the anti-cancer benefits of curcumin to your health regime (which I highly recommend if you have any personal or family history of melanoma or even if you just have a history of intense sun exposure) I recommend taking a pharmacy grade supplement like Pure Encapsulations Curcumin  that couples curcumin with bioperine to help increase the bioavailablility and absorption of the curcumin.

I have this waiting for you at an automatically reduced price right here, just for being a reader of my blog.

 

  •  Step Five: Use Vitamin B3 to decrease all other forms of skin cancer

 

Clear evidence that a simple vitamin can be cancer preventive:  Vitamin B3 dramatically reduces skin cancer rates.

Presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting in May 2014, Vitamin B3 has been shown to be a safe, effective way to reduce your risk of recurrent skin cancer.

Researchers looked at over 380 patients with a prior history of non-melanoma skin cancers, giving half nicotinamide supplements and half a placebo, and followed them for a year.  They found the patients in the Vitamin B3 group had a quarter less skin cancers total (a 23% decrease) than control patients:

  • Basal cell occurrence decreased by 20%
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma decreased by 30%
  • Actinic Keratosis decreased by 13%

Nicotinamide enhances DNA repair in skin cells damaged by UV light, as well as boosts the immune system and prevents the suppression of immunity by ultraviolet radiation.  (Nicotinamide has other benefits as well, including preliminary studies showing a boost in cognition… helping to restore cognition in Alzheimers!)

 

So… if you have a history of serious sun exposure?

Or a history of previous skin cancers?

Or you just want less unsightly actinic keretosis popping up in the future?

Vitamin B 3  offers 100% all natural holistic chemo-prevention!

But unlike chemo, Vitamin B3 is safe, natural and inexpensive.

I like Allergy Research Group’s Vitamin B3.  Again, just like all of my supplements in my pharmacy-grade, totally trusted and safe online dispensary, it’s waiting for you at an automatic discount right here.

 

The bottom line?

 

Under-exposure to the sun is actually dangerous. 

Avoiding the sun is comparable to smoking in terms of decreasing life expectancy.  Worse, actually… by several years.

Smoking and inactivity have long been known to be two lifestyle indicators of poor long term health… and now we can add a third:  avoiding sun exposure.

 

Our skin naturally makes Vit D when exposed to the sun — it takes about 10 minutes or longer (depending on skin type) to get a significant boost of Vitamin D from the sun. 

I believe this link between Vit D and being in the sun is one of the major reasons that being outside and getting sun exposure boosts longevity.

 

I’ve long advocated for the importance of Vit D — how it:

 

  1. Is necessary for brain health:

Low vitamin D levels are associated with a substantial acceleration of memory loss and cognitive decline. 

Published Sept 14, 2015 in JAMA Neurology, researchers looked at baseline vitamin D levels and mental status change in over 380 adults (average age 75 years old.).  Vit D deficient adults with serum concentrations of vit D lower than 20 ng/mL declined 3 times faster in cognitive function and in memory impairment compared to those with serum vit D levels of greater than 20 ng/mL. 

Another study, published in Neurology on August 9, 2014 found that patients with low levels of Vit D have a 122% increased risk of dementia compared to those with higher levels of vit D.  Their findings showed that the critical level to prevent dementia is greater than 50 nmol/L.

 

2.  Is necessary for bone health:

 

A study published in the January issue of the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery found that at over half of the patients that present with stress factors of the bone have vit D insufficiency. 

Vit D concentrations are linked to the absorption of dietary calcium and phosphorus… … in fact, if you are vitamin D deficient, you are only absorbing approximately 10 – 15% of your dietary calcium and only roughly half of the dietary phosphorus you consume.

So it’s easy to see how Vit D deficiency can lead quickly to a decrease in bone mineralization… and allow for more fractures to occur.

 

3.  Decreases diabetes risk:

 

There are multiple studies showing that a deficit in Vit D levels increases your risk of developing diabetes… especially type 2 diabetes.  In some studies, the risk of developing diabetes actually doubles in the face of low vitamin D levels!

 

4.  Helps with weight loss:

 

By simply adding Vit D supplementation to your weight loss plan, you reduce your whole-body inflammation and blood markers of inflammation, shows a study published April 23m 2015 in Cancer Prevention Research.

 

5.  Decreases depression risk:

 

Yet another amazing study has come out showing a positive correlation between Vitamin D and mood. 

Published in the November 2011 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers followed 12,594 participants and found that higher Vitamin D levels are associated with a significantly decreased risk of depression.

 

6.  Predicts better cancer recovery: 

 

A huge meta-analysis looking at 25 different studies and 17,700+ cancer patients found definitively, yet again, that higher levels of circulating Vit D at time of diagnosis was associated with significantly better survival and remission rates in the future. 

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism on April 29, 2014, researchers found that colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lymphoma patients all had impressive, significantly higher survival rates in patients who had the highest Vit D serum levels. 

They also had increased disease free rates afterwards (longer remission periods after cancer treatment) so it makes sense that Vit D may be the protective mechanism of action in prolonging life expectancy.

If you are unsure of what your vitamin D levels are (even folks who are outside daily can have vit D deficiency!) simply ask your physician to check your Vit D level and consider Vit D supplementation, if necessary.

 

In the meanwhile, enjoy your picnics on these gorgeous sunny days. 

At least 10 minutes in the sun every single morning… more if you can! 

Enjoy that life giving, mood boosting, beautifully warm radiant sunshine… just do it in a way that you protect your skin from too much exposure:  try to avoid peak hours of sun exposure, avoid yucky chemical sunscreens and use mineral sunscreens instead, and consider using curcumin and vit B3 to decrease your future skin cancer risk.

xoxox, Laura

 

 PS — just in time for summer…

…pre-order my new Earth Lovers Beach Towel!

Find out more here.  xoxoxo 

 

 

 

 

Stunning Results: Complete Resolution Of Irritable Bowel By Eating This

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Eating this one thing:

homemade yogurt

can result in complete resolution of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

 

This is type of overwhelmingly complete response to a treatment is unheard of, and quite honestly, I’m surprised it’s something that the medical community will publish…

… since there is absolutely no Rx medication or over-the-counter pharmacy remedy that comes anywhere close to providing the 100% complete remission results seen with homemade yogurt.

Not only did eating homemade yogurt daily make a full remission possible — it actually made a full remission PROBABLE — as over 89% of IBS patients (some who had been suffering without improvement despite medical treatment for IBS for over a decade!) experienced COMPLETE RESOLUTION of their symptoms within just 6 months.

 

The study (reported at The World Congress of Gastroenterology: Abstract P1152, on October 16, 2017):

  • 189 patients with irritable bowel syndrome were enrolled
  • Patients had been suffering with IBS for up to 10 years or more
  • Patients consumed 2 – 3 cups of yogurt daily
  • They were clinically evaluated every 2 months for a 6 month period of time

 

The Results:

  • 169 out of 189 patients in the study (89.4%) had full remission within 6 months

 

The Bottom Line:

The vast majority of patients who consumed homemade yogurt daily

became ***completely free of IBS*** within 6 months.

 

How To:

 

The authors of this study offer this simple, cheap, and mind-blowingly effective recipe for curing your gastrointestinal woes with easy to make, inexpensive homemade yogurt:

  • First, boil a gallon of milk for 5 minutes and let it cool to lukewarm.
  • Next, mix in 1 cup of plain yogurt (use your favorite organic plain yogurt) as a source of Lactobacilli.
  • Place in an oven with the light on overnight (do not turn the oven on)
  • Refrigerate the next morning.
  • This results in enough yogurt to last you all week!
  • Save 1 cup from each batch to use as a starter for the next batch next week.
  • Each day, mix fruit and/or honey into the yogurt to sweeten it as you eat it, or put yogurt generously into a morning smoothie!

 

 

To me, this is basically the medical community proving that IBS is 100% related to gut flora.  So all of their IBS medications (like anti-diarrheals, bile acid binding agents, anti-spasmodics, muscle relaxants, laxatives, anti-depressants and more) all completely miss the mark… and come with side effects as scary as ischemic bowel disease.

All of this, back to back with the study I told you about last year that proved that yogurt lowered body fat and increased bone density!!  Presented at the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research’s Annual Meeting (September 18, 2016) researchers showed that all it takes is consuming yogurt to positively impact bone density and decrease body mass index.

Man flexing bicep, skeleton visible, close-up (Digital Composite)

 

Patients consuming yogurt had 6.5% leaner bodies, 4.4% greater bone density and about at 10% less fracture rate over time.

And this boost helped protect against bone loss over time.

At the three year bone mineral density follow up, the patients who never consumed yogurt had an average bone mineral density loss of 0.1% each year, whereas the patients who consumed yogurt increased their bone strength each year by up to 0.6%.

 

So just yogurt… rich with probiotics… helps to increase bone strength, protect bones over time, keep body fat lower and lower BMI measurements totally independently of any other factor that could account for these differences, such as exercise or total calcium intake.

 

This study comes on another study which revealed that consuming dairy actually helps decrease diabetes risk!

 

And, as I blogged about over four years ago, probiotics have positive mind and mood enhancing effects as well (which is a big deal since about one in every ten Americans now takes an antidepressant, and antidepressants are the third most prescribed form of medication.)

The natural flora of the gut is diminished in depression, and restoring the natural vitality and variety of healthy organisms in the digestive tract is a very powerful way to improve outcome in depression (and other mood disorders, such as anxiety.)

Improved mood was shown in several different clinical studies:

  • one study showed decreased depression when participants received probiotic supplements for 30 days
  • another study reported clinically significant improvement in mood when participants ate probiotic-containing yogurt for 3 weeks.
  • and yet another study showed that participants with chronic fatigue syndrome who consumed probiotics three times a day reported significantly less anxiety compared to those who did not.

 

Probiotics lift your mood, help digestion, alleviate constipation, boost your immune system, control yeast and fungal overgrowth, promote healthy skin, and even lower blood pressure!

Hands using blood pressure cuff

Yep, you read that right, probiotics (like those found in yogurt) lowered blood pressure by an average of 5.8 mmHg systolic pressure.  

This is a very clinically significant improvement in blood pressure, as previous studies have shown that changes as small as a 3.3 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure is enough to create a 22% decreased risk of cardiovascular mortality, heart attack and stroke

So these results have huge implications on a massive scale, decreasing health care costs and burden and imparting important widespread public health benefits.

All from simply consuming probiotic foods… something you can do right now to support the health of your body from the inside out, head to toe.

 

 

No time for making homemade yogurt?

 

At least give your gut, mind and body the support of a high quality probiotic.

Find my very favorite, most clinically tested and effective supplements in my online dispensary here:

 

 

 

Everything… everything… from your outer skin to your inner intestines, from your mental state to your heart attack risk, can be positively impacted by consuming probiotics.

To your gut health and beyond!

xoxo, Laura

 

P.S.  What are some other awesome things that eating yogurt daily can do for you?

Hop over here to check out these articles I’ve written for you:

 

Holistic Prevention Of Lyme (+ what to do if you find a tick on you!)

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The weather is warming up, and this always means my inbox is full of emails from patients asking how they can reduce their chance of tick bites while still connecting to the earth outside.

 

 

Ticks carrying the Lyme disease bacteria (Borrelia Burgdorferi) have been found in all 50 states, so don’t be fooled into thinking its only something that folks in the northeast have to be concerned with.

But I really *really* don’t want you to limit or stop your healing practice of connecting to Mother Earth outside daily.  This healing practice is, to me, as crucial as eating or hydrating or breathing to staying healthy over a lifetime.  The earth has food, air, water, and electrical support all waiting to restore you back to full health.

So instead of staying indoors, let’s dive into all of the things you can do proactively each time you go outside to prevent lyme disease.

Preventing a tick bite is the single most important thing you can do to avoid Lyme disease.

This is the area where you can really empower yourself to be completely aware and diligent so that you never ever need to fear being outside or let fear of ticks keep you from enjoying Mother Nature.

 

8 Ways To Prevent A Tick Bite:

1.  Mow:

 

 

The easiest thing you can do is to keep your yard and outdoor living space trimmed, mowed low (don’t let grass grow long, ticks love long grass) and remove piles of leaves and other debris — this will automatically reduce your chances of having ticks in your yard.

 

 

  1. Chickens:

Add a few free roaming chickens to your yard space and you will have a tick monitoring and disposal system that is practically self running!

Woot!

Chickens eat ticks and constantly scavenge for ticks and other pests that are harmful to humans… and you get to enjoy some delicious organic free range eggs to boost!

 

  1. Add a fence:

Likewise, it’s important to ensure pets don’t bring ticks into your yard and home (which are one of the most common ways that humans get tick bites!)   The best thing to do is ensure pets that live in the home with you do not roam in wooded areas.

Installing a fence or keeping pets confined only to yard areas that are mowed short is one of the single most important things you can do to decrease human exposure to Lyme.

 

  1. Groom pets:

Daily brushing and inspecting the pet for ticks after time spent outside, !(before bringing your pets in to the home!) will help prevent ticks from catching a ride into your living space.

Keeping pets out of bedrooms and off of furniture during tick season (late spring, all summer & early fall) will decrease the chance that you or your family members will get a tick bite after a tick has dropped off a pet.

Talk to your veterinarian for more strategies on keeping ticks off of your family pet.

 

  1. Use Cedar Oil as a natural tick deterrent:

Topically it’s so easy to holistically and naturally repel ticks — no toxic chemical required.

Simply spray exposed skin with cedar oil… cedar oil is safe, all natural and no nasty DEET or other toxic chemicals that cause neuronal cell death.  Repels ticks as well as flying insects.

I use this so often that my daughter tells me that this cedar oil spray is — and I quote her here:  “the smell of my childhood.”  She says that every time I spray it and she catches the scent.  I just love that!

Spray directly on skin, pets, around doorways and porches and windows — safe to use directly on the skin.

I even carry a little 1 oz. bottle of it in my purse and car as part of my travel Lyme prevention kit, to use while outside on hikes, at sporting events, parks, road trips, picnics, etc…

 

  1. Tick check:

Even with doing the first 5 tips, you still need to physically double check your body for ticks every time you are outside.

Throughout the day and prior to bathing, double check your body, groin, armpits, scalp, hair and clothing for ticks.

Going directly into a shower after spending time outside is the best way to make sure ticks don’t drop off into your home or stay attached to you long enough to transmit Lyme.

If you can detect a tick before it anchors on, you’ve just prevented transmission entirely.  It’s worth it.  I recommend you strip off clothing and place directly into the wash after working outside, then hop in a shower to wash up.

 

  1. Tuck in, Pony up:

Wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible to help keep ticks from reaching your skin… tucking in your shirt at the waist and if possible tucking pants legs into your socks.

Put long hair into a ponytail, bun, or even better — tucking it all up under a hat is a very easy way to cut your risk of tick bites dramatically because ticks love to grab onto long hair when walking through long grasses and wooded areas.

 

  1. Use Your Dryer:

Simply running your clothes, bedding, towels, garden gloves, hiking boots, etc… through your dryer will kill any ticks you don’t see.  All it takes is one hour tumbling on high heat (or 90 min on low heat) and even fabrics or shoes that you can’t wash or get wet can still have all the ticks removed and killed just by a spin through your dryer.

And if you are on a vacation, especially vacations with hiking or lots of time spent outdoors or to wooded areas, try to stay in hotels or cabins with dryers — simply strip down and run your clothing and shoes through the dryer every time you return from exploring outside and you slash your risk of Lyme disease greatly.

Let your clothes take a tumble while you do a tick check and grab a shower and you have gone a long way to preventing Lyme disease entirely!

 

 

If prevention fails and you do have a tick bite from an infected tick, getting treated for Lyme disease immediately is the best thing you can do to prevent long term sequelae from becoming an issue.

 

So what do you do if you are bitten by a tick?  It’s okay!  

Just follow these 3 Steps

to decrease your chance of contracting Lyme:

 

 

  1.  Remove the tick

Simply gently and firmly remove the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible (not squeezing the body of the tick, which may help enable the bacteria to squirt into your bloodstream!) and most importantly: save the tick!

 

2.  Test the tick so you know if it carried Lyme or not — this can give you instant peace of mind!

 

It is infinitely easier to get a tick tested than wait and see if you become infected with Lyme.  First of all, human Lyme tests can be inaccurate and delay prompt treatment.

Second, the myriad of symptoms for Lyme disease (as we will discuss next) is a great mimicker for hundreds of other illnesses and there is no one reliable way to diagnose Lyme through symptoms.

And lastly, Lyme treatments become much less effective as time goes on.

So submitting a tick for testing (just place it in a plastic ziplock bag with a moist paper towel — provided for you in my Lyme Prevention Kit) by giving it to your local physician is the best way to know if you need Lyme prevention treatment or not.

Or you can simply head over to tick report.com to have a tick directly tested.

This is a service that allows you to send a tick in directly to a lab and have results emailed back to you within three days — awesome for getting quick answers without any delay for treatment and doesn’t even need to involve a visit to your family doctor…

(…although you may prefer to go directly to your family physician, who can give you an antibiotic to have on hand to take immediately if the results do come back positive for Lyme.)

 

It’s important to note that less than half of folks who contract Lyme disease actually have the classic bulls eye rash reaction at the bite site.

Of course if you see a bullseye rash, report this immediately to your physician.

But other symptoms of Lyme are more insidious and actually more common… symptoms like:

fever, joint pain or swelling, muscle pain and weakness, irritability, headache, mood changes, increased susceptibility to other infections (as your immune system compromises over time) and most common: fatigue.

So testing a tick and getting immediate antibiotic treatment for Lyme is the best thing you can do to prevent chasing vague symptoms like fatigue and headache for years to come.

 

3.  Boost Your Immune System

 

 

What can you do while you wait for tick test results?

Starting some immune boosting supplements is always a good idea after a tick bite while you are waiting for tick test results.

My favorite is Vit D, Vit C, Probiotics, and a Immune Boosting Supplement called Quick Defense by Innate Resources (included in my Lyme Prevention Kit, or right here in my online dispensary.)

Go ahead and boost your immunity with supplements right after any suspected exposure and you will have given yourself a head start in treating Lyme before it’s even had time to express symptoms.

Now that you are armed with a ton of very effective holistic tips on avoiding tick bites and decreasing your chance of developing Lyme disease (plus a few tips to help speed recovery if you do get a tick bite!)… it’s time to wish you a very very happy upcoming summer!!!

Keep going outside and enjoy the beautiful display that Mother Earth brings us each spring without fear!

xoxo, Laura

 

 

P.S.  Want to have all of these tools ready to go, in one place, in a travel friendly eco-friendly canvas pouch?

 

I pulled it all together into a Lyme Prevention Kit, waiting for you right here.

It includes everything you need to ground outdoors with confidence:

  • cedar oil to deter ticks from the start
  • travel sized soap and shampoo to have on hand after being outside in possible tick infested areas
  • tweezers and a plastic bag with a cotton pad to save and test any ticks you do find
  • immune boosting supplements to take immediately after suspected tick bites
  • all in a reusable canvas travel tote!

 

Use The Healing Power Of Water In These Unique Ways

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Well known as the Elixir of Life, water is absolutely critical to our well being in every way.

 

Not only are we primarily made up of water (over 70% of our body is pure water!) but water has a healing property that goes way beyond simple hydration.

Today, I want to share with you all the different ways that dehydration affects our health (you might be surprised at some of these!) and also how we can use the power of water to support our Well Being from the inside out.

 

What Does Dehydration Feel Like?

 

Dehydration is life threatening.  Severe dehydration means our organs absolutely can not function normally and leads to seizure, organ failure, and death.

But did you know even very mild levels of dehydration might be affecting you on a daily basis?

Dehydration can lead to or exacerbate common conditions such as constipation, dry skin, bad breath, headache, and high blood pressure.

 

 1.  Dry Mouth 

 

One of the first symptoms of dehydration is dry mouth, which leads to bacteria overgrowth and bad breath.  If you notice bad breath, you might consider: are you chronically dehydrated?

 

2.  Dry Skin:

 

Your skin turgor is another indicator of dehydration.  If you’ve been concerned about your skin feeling dry or more wrinkled, double check that you are drinking enough fluid each day.

 

3.  Pain

 

Pain is actually a symptom of dehydration as well, often starting with a headache.

And low fluid status can lead to headaches and brain fog as well, as the fluid volume of the brain gets depleted from dehydration.

I’ve literally had patients with a raging headache drink a glass of water and have the headache clear completely.

The next time you have a headache or any type of pain, make sure you drink a glass of water and then re-evaluate your pain levels before reaching for a pain reliever or medication.

Dehydration makes all pain worse, as the volume of the organs and joints deplete, dehydrated ligaments and cartilage get injured more easily and dehydrated discs in the spine allow increased pinching of nerves and muscle cramps increase as electrolytes deplete.

 

4. Constipation

 

Having sluggish bowels is another classic symptom of chronic dehydration.

Recent studies have shown that water status is the NUMBER ONE factor impacting regularity.  More important than walking and more important that even fiber intake, water intake can turn constipation issues around completely.

Drinking water has more of an impact on encouraging  healthy bowel movements than fiber supplement or exercise… in fact, I’d go as far as to say fiber supplements clog people up more often than they help.

In general, a constipated person is a dehydrated person.  You can fix that right now — go grab a glass of water.

 

5.  High Blood Pressure

 

 

Another classic sign of chronic dehydration?

High blood pressure.

When we decrease our water intake, our blood gets thicker, harder to pump, our blood volume decreases and our heart rate increases and our blood vessels constrict.

All together, this means your blood pressure raises and stays raised.

If you are having blood pressure issues, it is more important than EVER to be extremely vigilant about your hydration status!

 

6.  Digestive Issues

 

Dehydration also impacts your entire gut lining, and chronic dehydration can give rise to stomach ulcers and absorption issues as the mucosal layer stops secreting it’s protective film.

 

7.  Dry Cough

 

Not only does the gut lining need to be well hydrated to function, but also our entire respiratory lining does too. Our lungs absolutely require a moist mucous membrane to function.

In chronic dehydration, the mucus membranes in our respiratory system dry out and become more vulnerable to dust, pollen and other irritants.

 

8.  Urinary Tract Infections

 

Getting more UTI’s than usual?

Our entire urinary system (and therefore the health of our kidneys) depends on having enough volume to use liquids to flush toxins from our body.  When we can’t do that, we set ourselves up for issues with kidney function and a higher rate of infections.

 

9.  Weight Gain

 

Another little known side effect of chronic dehydration is weight gain.

As we become volume depleted, we begin to feel thirst, which is often confused with hunger because the body is craving intake of any kind (knowing that most foods will provide some form of hydration, your body sends out the message that it is hungry when it is volume depleted in any way.)

As a result, we eat when what we really need to be doing for our true health is rehydrating.

 

10.  Bad Mood & Foggy Brain

 

Did you know that even mild dehydration affects our mood?

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that study participants reported decreased motivation and increased feelings of anxiety when mildly dehydrated.

On top of that, headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and decreased physical activity all were increased during dehydration. And the effect of dehydration on mood was even more pronounced in women than in men!

And this medical review published in the Journal Of the American College of Nutrition showed that our attention spans and even our short term memory fizzles when we are dehydrated.

 

So the next time you have a headache, or feel anxious, or notice your blood pressure or weight creeping up… drink a glass of water and re-evaluate.

It could be that chronic dehydration has been a key factor contributing to your symptoms all along.

And don’t rely on thirst to remind you to drink!

 

Dehydration begins when we are just 1% volume depleted, but thirst doesn’t set in until our body is about 2% volume depleted.

By then we have already had effects on our mood, energy level, ability to think clearly, and pain levels.

Instead of waiting for thirst or darkened urine to remind us to drink, let’s utilize these preventative strategies for staying well hydrated, instead of treating dehydration!  The goal of this article isn’t to teach you how to address dehydration but to have you protecting your hydration levels by preventing dehydration in the first place.

 

How to prevent dehydration? 

Here are 5 ways to help:

 

1. Begin and end every single day drinking a big glass of water. 

 

Drink water each AM before you even think about reaching for orange juice or coffee.

Replenishing the fluids you lost overnight every as well as the fluids you may have overlooked drinking all day long is a great lifelong habit to get into…

…do it daily so it becomes an automatic routine!

 

2.  Drink a glass of water whenever you feel hungry. 

 

Use hunger as a reminder to hydrate!

We feel hunger on and off all day long, and so we can remember to drink water on and off all day long too.

Thirst is often confused with hunger, because your body is craving INTAKE of any kind!

Drink a glass of water before each meal and whenever you feel thirst *or* hunger, and you will stay well hydrated all day long.

 

3.  Include fruits and vegetables at every single meal. 

 

 

Fruits and veggies are full of water (many being more than 90% water!) and minerals that help you maintain essential fluid volume.

Processed foods like packaged snacks actually dehydrate you.

Fruits and veggies are a great way to hydrate *while* you eat!

The most hydrating ones include:

melons, berries, cucumber, celery, leafy greens, tomatoes and bell peppers.

 

4.  Use an unrefined sea salt when you cook, instead of table salt.

 

It’s truly important to make sure you have enough minerals in your diet so that you can absorb and retain the right hydration balance.

Trace minerals, found in sea salts, are essential to the body’s function.

I talk a little more about why minerals are so essential for health in this video I made for you here!

Even if you don’t think hydration is an issue for you, most of us are mineral depleted whether we hydrate well or not.

You might want to consider a daily mineral supplement that you have to put into water, which will further encourage you to drink drink drink throughout the day.

My favorite is Concentrace Mineral Drops, which I have waiting for you in my trusty online dispensary here.

 

 

5.  Switch from soda to sparkling water. 

 

The sugar and chemicals found in soda (even diet soda!) mess with your metabolism and should not *count* towards your 8 cups of water a day.

Get your carbonation fix from sparkling water instead and reap the hydration rewards!

 

 

 

Use The Power Of Water In These Unique Ways

To Help Catapult Your Health:

 

Beyond staying hydrated, the healing power of water can work magic for helping to support our entire well being, from clearing our mind frame to easing pain.

Let’s go beyond staying hydrated and really tap into the broader healing properties of water… here’s 6 ways that water can boost your whole body well being:

 

 

1. Allow tears… always.

 

 

Never hold them back.

Let the water of your tears release your emotions and lift them from your body.

Water is the ultimate medium of flow and healing… in fact, water is the body’s natural choice of release as well, as you can see in the fact that the body uses tears to facilitate an emotional release.

Tears help encourage the flow of emotions through the body (both tears of joy and tears of sorrow!) and allows us to release tension more easily.

 

2.  Sweat it out!

 

The other way that the body uses water as a form of energetic and physical release is through sweat.

Heat uses the energy and flow of water (the blood in your circulatory system) by increasing flushing — fluid in, sweat out.

Exercise is an essential, wonderful, medically proven treatment plan for so many different health conditions, shown to be effective in treating everything from insomnia, to depression and anxiety to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions… even preventing dementia and extending our lifespan!

Make sure you find some physical activity that you can routinely do that allows you to sweat… whether you like hiking, yoga, kickboxing, jogging, or even, in a pinch a more passive form of sweating like a sauna (which has been recently shown to decrease dementia rates!) — find a way to embrace sweating and be sure to replace that fluid flow with tons of fresh filtered water both before, during, and after sweating!!!

 

3.  Use the cleansing properties of water to detox and release. 

 

Take a long hot epsom salt bath soak (add some baking soda and apple cider vinegar to turn it into a detoxing experience) to soothe muscles, calm and relax you before bedtime…

…or simply relax in a warm shower and envision the water carrying the tensions of the day down the drain for you.

Another great way to use water to heal is to ground by the ocean or river or lake (or even the morning dew on a blade of grass!).

 

There is a reason that doctor’s routinely gave out prescriptions for spending time by the sea when they had no idea what else to do to help an ailment!

That’s because the earth has healing energy to give you, and if you add moisture to that you increase your own conductivity and healing accelerates.

Ground outside (daily if at all possible) and add water –sweaty feet, making a puddle with your hose, heading to the beach for a healing weekend retreat, or any other way to add moisture:

 

moisture + you + earth = expedited healing

 

For more on using the healing power of the earth to feel better, you can download my free Grounding Idea Book here.

 

4.  Combine water with heat  

 

My favorite way to combine the healing power of water with the healing power of heat (beyond the sauna, bath and shower I’ve already mentioned!) is to fill a hot water bottle full of warm water and hold it on your body where you are feeling any tension, pain, or stuck emotion, for example on your chest, abdomen, neck, back, etc…

Adding the element of heat enhances the healing release all the more.

I love using my grounding hot water bottles for releasing energy in stuck, sore muscle cramps, relieving nausea and abdominal cramps during my period, to ease growing pains for my children, and countless other applications!

 

5.  Make sure your air contains moisture! 

 

As I mentioned above, your mucosal membranes absolutely require moisture to function… did you know you lose over two cups (or a half liter) of water just from breathing each day?

Use steam/humidifiers to help hydrate your air and support the hydration of your mucosal membranes.

 

6.  Intentionally drink water as a way to energetically reset the body from the inside out

 

You lose up to 2 liters (8 cups) of water each day just through urination and bowel movements and skin surface evaporation.

You can utilize this high turn over of fluids to your advantage and hydrate hydrate hydrate during times of worry or sorrow or stress more than any other time of your life.

Look at every glass of water you drink as a way to add a healing intention into your body, infusing every single cell of every single tissue of every single organ system you have with healing support.

You can simply say a prayer, say an intention, even just *think* an intention as you hold your cup of water and silently bless it before you drink it.  You can even take a sharpie marker and write an intention or uplifting word or phrase onto your water bottle or onto a piece of tape and tape it to your cup or mug.

Let your body be flushed out inside and out and with every urination or bowel movement or tear or droplet of sweat you shed, recognize you are flushing the old energy down the drain and making way for new healing.

 

The beautiful, life affirming, healing properties of water can not be matched with anything else we put into our bodies.

 

Today, try to use the healing flow of water to support your Well Being in many many different ways, and be sure to be protective about your hydration status at all times.

xoxo, Laura

 

P.S.  Recently I was asked:

 

“Dr. Laura, a friend told me to get a water filter that removes fluoride… do I really need to?”  – S.K.

 

 

After hundreds of studies have shown fluoride affects everything from cognitive function in humans to diabetes, fertility and more in animals, I recommend avoiding fluoride in water and never use fluoridated toothpastes.

Fluoride is an enzyme inhibitor, point-blank.

But what’s the problem with the miniscule amounts of fluoride added to the public water supply?

The old problem that is widely recognised (even by the National Institutes of Health) is that it accumulates in bone.  It is estimated about 50% of the fluoride we consume is eliminated, and 50% is stored.

Miniscule amounts of fluoride adding to our bodies sip after sip after sip equals a not-so-minimal exposure.  Over a lifetime, these levels can reach high proportions… decreasing bone density and causing brittleness.

For a nation whose women have epidemic proportions of osteopenia and osteoporosis, it would be counter productive to continue to drink fluoride on a daily basis… and then use even more Rx to combat the osteoporosis that develops later in life.  Studies have shown that the rate of hip fracture in elderly is directly increased in areas that fluoridate their water.

The truth is, even if you feel that you *need* fluoride to help reduce the incidence of cavities… you are getting plenty of fluoride through your foods.

Plants store fluoride found naturally in the earth AND from the water used to irrigate crops.  Yep, even organic crops have fluoride in them from the irrigation water.

Statements from reps of the National Institutes of Health recommend that people who drink large quantities of water should not drink tap water, but instead switch to bottled water.  We are just getting so much exposure to fluoride, to intentionally consume extra fluoride, whether through drinking water or toothpaste, is way too much.

Your skin absorbs fluoride as well, so even when you are showering or taking a bath, you are absorbing fluoride.

And now?   In addition to bone uptake?  Now the new problem is we know fluoride is being taken up by our cardiovascular system as well.

A study published in the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications definitively proved that fluoride is absorbed into your vascular system. Researchers followed 61 patients after administering fluoride and found that 96% of them had fluoride uptake in their cardiovascular walls.

In a nation with heart disease steeply rising, this doesn’t sit well with me.  Direct absorption to of fluoride into our cardiovascular walls (and a significant correlation between cardiovascular events and fluoride uptake) makes it all the more urgent for us to avoid fluoride all together.

And now new reports are revealing something even more disturbing, if you can believe it — fluoride lowers IQ.

I am routinely asked at the dentist’s office if I would like to give my children a concentrated fluoride treatment.  And affect their still-developing brain?

Uh… NO.

I use the Berkey water filtration system in my home (I have the small travel Berkey system and it works perfectly well, so don’t feel like you need to get the biggest or most expensive filter out there!) and keep mine out on my kitchen counter space and not only am I drinking pure, clean, fluoride free water, but the visual reminder to DRINK every single time I walk by the water filter or am standing in the kitchen preparing a meal.  This has really helped me to remember to maintain my hydration status.

Need a more inexpensive solution?

One that it travel friendly too?

I’ve got you.

For a small fraction of the cost of a home water filter, when you are on the go, at work, at the gym, or just dining out at a restaurant for a meal, you can still filter fluoride out of your glass of water totally discreetly using this fluoride water filter in a straw!

Or, if you prefer, a fluoride filtering sports bottle to take your own water with you.

So all in all?

Yes, absolutely I feel that a fluoride filter to remove fluoride from your drinking water (as well as not using fluoridated toothpaste) is worth the it for the long term health of your heart, your bones, and all the organs in between!

 

You Can Ground Through Your Indoor Plants — I’ll Show You How!

Posted

 

Today I have a very quick video for you answering one of my most frequently asked questions!

Patients and readers email me all the time asking if they can ground by touching an indoor house plant…

….or by bringing a bucket of soil indoors and putting their feet on it.

 

Until now, the answer was sadly no… but now the answer is yes!

In this 4 minute video below, I will demonstrate how it works and use my favorite test meter to show you how powerfully this works:

 

Grounding With Indoor Plants:

 

 

To supporting your body’s innate and natural ability to heal!

xoxoxox, Laura

P.S.

Helpful links:

Grounding Plant Stake

Grounding Test Meter

 

 

 

Another Difference Between Men and Women… Found On Autopsy

Posted

Last week I wrote to you about a new medical study that shows how women and men have different cardiac responses to stress.

This week, yet another difference between men and women… this time, in the brain.

 

 

Turns out, on autopsy, investigators found that there was a distinct difference between the brains of men and women in depression.

There are lots of differences between depression in men and women, as we already know.

These results may help explain why.  It turns out, the brain literally re-wires differently during depression depending on if you are male or female:

  • Women are three times more likely to have atypical depression (depression that causes weight gain and increased sleep)
  • Women are twice as likely to have an episode of depression and four times more likely to have recurrent depression than men (this is thought to be because of a protective mechanism of testosterone on the brain.)
  • Women also have more clinically severe depressive episodes than men.
  • Men are more likely to have a substance abuse disorder along with their depression, and are more likely to commit suicide than women.

 

The Study, published in Biological Psychiatry on Feb 3, 2018:

  • Researchers looked at autopsy brain samples in 100 patients — 50 who had been diagnosed with major depression and 50 sex-matched controls with no history of depression.
  • Researchers looked at the genetic make up of three different regions of the brain typically affected by depression: the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex and the basolateral amygdala.

 

The Results:

  • In the sex-matched controls (with no history of depression) the 73 genes researchers studied were exactly the same in both men and women, with no difference in genetic expression between the sexes.
  • In patients with major depression, there was a huge difference in gene expression — a 71% difference between men and women in gene expression!
  • In the vast majority of genes (52 out of the 73 looked at) expression of genes changed in opposite ways for both men and women.
  • Only 21 out of the 73 affected both depressed men and women in the same way (only 29% of the genes remained the same between men and women.)
  • In men, there were increased markers of inflammation (not so for the women.)
  • In women, there was a decrease in immunity (not so for the men.)

 

The Bottom Line:

 

Mens brains tended to change to create increased inflammation,

women’s brains tended to change to reduce immune response.

 

So in depressed individuals, it seems that the men become more reactive/inflammatory and the women become more susceptible/decreased immunity.

 

This to me mirrors the sex differences in heart function when the cardiac system is under stress…

…men tended to have higher demands on the heart and cardiac output (and higher blood pressure too!) and women tended to have restricted perfusion and decreased blood flow through capillaries.

 

Heart or brain:

men become pressured and inflamed,

women become decreased and suppressed.

 

Why do men become activated/agitated and women become deactivated/decreased in function during illness and stress?

And what other organ systems should be looking at to see a difference?

Probably the GI tract, hormones, adrenal, liver, kidney function and more.

 

 

And this is important because we can now start to tailor treatments to help really target and promote healing during stress, illness, depression.

Taken together, these studies suggest that men would be most helped by targeting inflammation and stress management treatments, while women might be most helped by immune boosting and circulation boosting therapies.

 

For example, perhaps men might benefit more from:

  • lowering blood pressure with supplements
  • decreasing inflammation through grounding
  • and stress reduction techniques of meditation, acupuncture and yoga.

 

While women, with the same heart disease or depressive episodes that men have, might benefit more from:

  • supplements that target boosting immunity
  • therapies that heal leaky gut and other autoimmune pathways
  • along with exercises designed to boost circulation and perfusion like walking, aerobic exercise, hot yoga, even deep tissue massage.

 

This is just one example of countless different treatment plans that you and your physician could come up with, targeting specific pathways that are unique to you now that we know a little more about the sex differences between men and women.

 

Want even more holistic help for depression?

Hop over to these are articles I’ve written for you:

 

 

To your innate healing…

xoxoxo, Laura

 

 

 

A Super Interesting Difference Between Men and Women

Posted

 

A very interesting study looked at how our heart responds to mental stress.

Turns out, there is a very key difference between the way a woman’s heart responds to stress and the way a man’s heart responds.

 

Mental stress is well known to trigger cardiac changes (as I go into more detail on below…) but so far, no study had looked out a difference between the sexes.

Today’s study, published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology on Dec. 21, 2017, showed definitively that there is an incredible difference between how a woman’s cardiovascular system responds to mental stress and how a man’s cardiovascular system responds to mental stress.

 

The Study:

  • Researchers looked at 678 patients (average age: 63 years old) with coronary artery disease.
  • They  preformed myocardial perfusion imaging before and during a well known stressor: public speaking (I hear you!  I get soooo anxious with public speaking as well!  Perfect setting to see how the heart reacts to perceived emotional stress.)
  • After obtaining the results of the cardiac perfusion study both at rest and during public speaking, researchers analyzed data from several different parameters of cardiac output and perfusion to see what affect the stress had on heart health.

 

 

The Results:

  • Turns out, men responded to the mental stress of public speaking by having a larger change in blood pressure, and a higher demand on the cardiovascular system to increase output.  When there is cardiac stenosis (or narrowing of the cardiac arteries) so that the increased demands on the h can not be adequately met, this put the men at greater risk for heart attack.
  • Women were the opposite.  Women responded to the mental stress of public speaking by having greater peripheral vasoconstriction (meaning the blood vessels constricted more, which limited the blood flow through them.). This vasoconstriction sets women up to have a greater risk of heart attack during times of stress as well, but for an entirely different reason than men.

 

 

The Bottom Line?

 

We have no clue why women and men have different responses in the heart to mental stress, but we do now know what those differences are.

Men respond to stress with an increased demand for blood flow, and while the works harder in an attempt to pump more blood out, if their arteries are narrowed this creates a mismatch in how much blood can reach the tissues and the result is a heart attack.

Women respond to stress with decrease in the peripheral perfusion do to increased vasoconstriction, which puts them at higher risk for ischemic heart attack.

 

In other words, the male’s heart demands more output during stress

while a female’s vasculature constricts more during stress

and both responses put both men and women at increased risk of heart attack.

 

Same end result, but different pathways.

 

 

To me, this study serves to underscore how very strongly our mental and emotional state affect our well being.

It reminds me of a study I reviewed for you exactly one year ago this month. That medical study explained why there is a direct correlation between stress and heart attack.

It turns out, increased brain activity in the area of emotional processing (the amygdala) directly increases the risk of cardiovascular events.

This study was the first to show that increased amygdala activity in humans strongly predicts cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack and angina.

 

Here’s why the emotional center of our brain is connected to our heart health:

 

The amygdala is responsible for processing emotions, survival instincts and memory.

That about sums up how stress feels: it’s an increased emotional load, a feeling of being overwhelmed when trying to navigate a stressful situation, and traumatic memories from the past all get linked up with traumatic present experiences — which all come together to increase the metabolic activity in your amygdala.

 

The Study (published Jan 11, 2017 in Lancet):

  • 293 patients underwent full body PET/CT scans at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA
  • Resting metabolic activity in the amygdala, bone marrow and arterial walls were measured
  • Increased resting metabolic activity in the amygdala was strongly correlated with increased bone marrow activity, increased arterial inflammation, and increased risk of cardiovascular events (stroke, MT, or angina) during an average follow up period of 3 1/2 years.
  • In a follow up study, researchers examined 13 patients with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) who underwent PET scans and filled out a Stress Scale Questionnaire (PSS-10)
  • They found that high levels of self rated stress correlated with increase in amygdala activity, higher levels of arterial inflammation, and higher levels of the blood inflammatory marker: C-reactive protein.

The bottom line:  Based on these studies, researchers now believe that it is actually the brain activity of the amygdala (and emotional stress in particular) that links stressful events with cardiovascular disease — causing increased hemopoietic tissue activity (in the bone marrow, where blood is made) and increased vascular inflammation, both which directly increase cardiovascular disease and up the risk of stroke, heart attack and angina.

They believe that it is this increased activation of the emotional amgydala area of the brain that raises the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Chronic emotional stress raises the baseline metabolic rate of this particular area of the brain, and strongly and directly raises the risk factor for cardiovascular events.

 

The link between stress and heart attack, stroke, and angina is so pronounced that researchers are advocating stress levels to be considered an independent risk factor for heart disease, along with other cardiac risk factors such as age, smoking history, and family history of heart disease.

Further proof:  A study published two years ago (April 5, 2016 in Circulation) shows that this idea has real world applications.

Researchers followed over 150 patients who were assigned to have cardiac rehab care following a cardiac event, and found that by adding stress management skills into their cardiac rehab program they were able to slash the rate of future cardiac events in a 5 year follow up period IN HALF!

So if addressing stress reduces the risk of subsequent heart attack by 50%,

now we know why: stressful brain activity is

directly correlated with cardiovascular events.

Reduce the stress response in the brain, reduce heart disease in the body.

 

So today, here are 10 actions can you take today to decrease cardiac stress even on the most stressful days of your life:

 

1. Reconnect with nature.

 

All you have to do here is walk out your front door, step out of your office, or stop driving and step out of your car.

To reconnect with nature is to reconnect with wonder.

Whether it’s just a few deep breaths as you sit on a patch of grass, simply taking a walk through a local park, or full on spending a night under the stars… reconnecting with the wonder of being a human being standing on a rock that spirals through space and seeing the earth for the vast support network it is can’t help but lift your spirits for the better.

The health benefits of grounded — simply touching the earth — are immediate.  Brain activity on EEG immediately responds and becomes less stressful, C-reactive protein levels drop over time, and sleep becomes deeper and more restorative.

The power of nature can hold even your worst of days and remain an immovable source of strength.

 

 

Don’t believe me?

The next time you are having a panic attack, or a pounding headache, or a knot of worry grow in your stomach, just go outside.  Get out there.  Don’t force anything, just start walking and let nature work its magic.

And consider sleeping grounded all night long to help you recover from the stress of the day.

If you have a high stress job and are interested in protecting yourself from stress in the work place you absolutely can ground your body there too.

Resting your hands on a grounding mat while you use your computer, wearing grounding socks under your shoes, or putting a grounding patch anywhere on your body will help decrease inflammation and offset the effects of prolonged stress on your health.

Hop over here to see more options to be grounded both indoors and out!

 

 

 

 

2. Focus on Spirit.

 

This is something shown over and over again in the medical literature — the power of prayer to affect clinical outcome is a beautiful fact.

The surest way I know to alleviate stress and suffering is to find meaning in it.

Whether it’s through mediation, personal prayer, asking friends and family to pray for you, cultivating your own sense of spirit surrounding and supporting you — these are all such important ways to alleviate stress.

The divine support system is around you, surrounding you, whether you are able to feel it or not.

Never fear that. Nothing is required of you.

But calling on the power of prayer and connecting with that reservoir of love is an instant boost that strengthens you and changes outcome, no doubt about it.

Need some more inspiration?

Man's Search For MeaningRead Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl.

He is a concentration camp survivor who writes beautifully about how the people who survived these horrific conditions were not the strongest, or youngest, or even the healthiest… they were the ones who found meaning in what they were going through.

Finding a deeper, spiritual meaning in what you are going through is — in and of itself — enough to decrease the stress of the experience you are going through.

 

 

3. Music.

 

My kids will tell you that if I am really grumpy, all we have to do is hop in the car and turn on the radio and within a few songs, all of a sudden I don’t feel so stressed out.

In fact, I feel optimistic and grateful and filled with the same sense of wonder and possibility that I feel when I spend time in nature.

The power of music to wash through you and lift you is amazing.

If you are feeling stressed or depressed, especially if you can not leave your current surroundings (perhaps you are in the hospital or your office or your car…) slip on some music and allow it to sweep through your soul and lift you higher.

Music is universal and can meet you wherever you are.

 

 

4. Reach out to your support system.

 

There IS a support system around you, even if you don’t think you have a friend in the world.

I know I didn’t fully realize how many people I had, providing back up support in my life, until I went through a personal crisis.

Some of my most meaningful sources of support were from people I had never ever met before — like the manager at my local bank and the complete stranger who came to pick up some furniture I got rid of as we downsized our belongings.

Both of these people forever changed my life.

Both of these people are angels living on earth.

And don’t even get me started on the unbelievably generous neighbors, friends and family that I actively leaned on for support.

If you are having a stressful crisis, ask for help.

Ask your neighbor, ask your family, ask your friends.

If you have none of the above, go out into the world asking for help to show up — go to the park, go to your bank, go to the grocery store, go to the thrift shop.

Angels are out there waiting to embrace and help you.

5. Move.

 

A symbolic fresh start during times of stress can help you move on towards healing and help usher in new, positive and hopeful energy instead of feeling stuck.

This might mean it feels right to literally move, relocate, and start a fresh chapter of your life.  A new living space, a new job, a new healthier environment, new resources to surround you, a move to a more walkable community, a living arrangement that takes financial stress off of you… lots of options when redesigning a fresh start.

But even if it is impossible to move, you can go through your current living space with the idea of bringing in fresh energy — freshening up the plants in each room, rearranging whatever furniture you can, adding a mirror or two and burning candles of light in the evenings to help create a new flow of light through old, dark and depressing spaces.

And even if you can’t do that — even if you can’t do anything to change your physical surroundings, creating a symbolic gesture in order to usher in a new start is so very important.

From going outside to take a deep breath of air, to lighting a smudge stick, to ringing a bell and setting a new intention for the space you are in, do something to break the illusion that you are stuck.

You are not stuck.

You are a new person every single day and every moment within that day.

When our physical surroundings don’t change, especially in the midst of great stress, you can get caught up in the illusion that your situation is permanent and hopeless.

This is not so… there is always an ebb and a flow of energy through every situation no matter how unchanging it appears on the surface.

The illusion that things never change can mentally hold you in a place of worry.

Release this by making small changes to your living space:

  • physically leaving the space you are in for a breath or two
  • lighting candles/incense/sage smudging
  • ringing  bells and chimes
  • bring in new lighting
  • adding a mirror
  • bringing in a new plant…
  • going on a long walk
  • exercising away all of your nervous energy

…whatever it takes to feel the energy shift in your body and your space to remind you that nothing… NOTHING …stays the same forever.

6. Gratitude and compassion

.
This is a no-brainer — one of the gifts of going through suffering is that you can witness and hold other people’s suffering so much more fully.

Compassion and gratitude for the journey and knowing that others have made it through ordeals much much MUCH worse can really help instill hope to your own journey.

Knowing the darker side, leaning into it, persevering through it, witnessing with compassion what others have gone through… all of these things make traveling your own dark night feel less lonely and more optimistic in the sense that you KNOW you will reach the other side.

You WILL reach the other side.

Focus on witnessing suffering in others around you and holding compassion for the entire yin and yang of it all, the darkness and light of the world… the richness here is a different twist on helping to find meaning in suffering and the gift here is being able to open your heart even wider then you thought possible before.

 

 

7. Sleep.

 

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is even harder to bear on folks with anxiety or stress.  If you are going through a time of great stress, it is more important than ever before in your entire life that you sleep well.

You MUST SLEEP in order to recover from the stress of the day and the stress of the situation.

It is possible to treat anxiety solely through increasing the quality of your sleep.

Read this blog post for more ideas on increasing sleep quality!

 

8. Body work.

 

The feeling of worry and stress and anxiety is often the stress of energy that is accumulating in the body without release.

I know I personally feel this as a ball of pressure right in my solar plexus, but it’s different for everyone.

Irritability, crying, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, tension, muscle stiffness, decreased or increased appetite, weight loss or gain, insomnia… often these all represent energy that just needs to be released to make room for the natural healing process and health/hope to return.

 

If you are feeling stuck and in need of physical release, do any or ALL of the following to help assist your body in letting go of old traumas:

  • deep stretches
  • rebounding (basically this is just jumping on a mini trampoline)
  • yoga
  • long daily walks (get a dog if you need to hold yourself accountable to a daily walk!)
  • massage
  • heat (hot water bottles are the best!)
  • water (in the form of showers or baths, as well as increasing hydration by drinking lots of water!)
  • acupuncture
  • qigong
  • tai chi (a recent study showed that tai chi was actually better than aerobic exercise in alleviating fibromyalgia pain, FYI!)
  • reiki

9.  Add these supplements to protect your heart:

 

1.  fish oil — omega 3 fatty acids offer a calming effect on the brain

2.  probiotics — the link between the body and mind starts in our gut

3.  resveratrol for long term heart health

4.  trace mineral drops to support heart function (including the very important mineral magnesium!)

5. and CoQ10 supplements to support heart health as well — all found in my online pharmacy here.

 

 

10.  Understand your heart from an energetic perspective.

 

What can you do to protect the longevity of your heart medically, spiritually, emotionally, energetically?

If you can only do one thing to reduce stress on your heart, it’s simply to understand your heart better.

 

 

We have a heart to pump blood (and thereby deliver oxygen and nutrients) to every part of our body.

It’s function is absolutely critical to life.

The heart is composed of a mass of muscle cells who’s function is to work together to deliver the *energy* of blood to our entire organism.

But what is the one thing your heart needs in order to do all this, in order to function at all?  Flexibility.

 

It’s strength is it’s flexibility.

 

If your heart is boxed in, walled up, protected… it’s not flexible at all.

It’s brittle.

It can’t work.

It will eventually self-strangulate.

It absolutely *needs* to have it’s walls broken down, removed, in order to maintain it’s strength.

This is exactly what happens with our heart physically.

Our blood vessels become coated with plaques…

…but these plaques, instead of strengthening our vessels, strangulate them.

The more coated, the thicker the walls, the more risk of heart attack (remember I told you about this in the first study I reviewed for you today?  Men, especially, are at risk for this type of heart attack when under stress.)

 

The heart is pure muscle, pure power, pure strength…

…and it uses it’s core strength, which is the strength of flexibility, to function.

 

It uses muscular contractions to deliver it’s heartsong… oxygen, nutrition, nurturing, love, joy, and freedom… to the entire body.

This is the power of the heart, when it is full of love, lubricated by life, flexible, bending and free.

If your heart is hardened, if you are protecting yourself by building walls, if you are living life defensively, how can your heart spread joy and health freely to your entire body?

 

  • Your heart can not feed your body — can not feed your body joy — if it is strangled by the walls you have built.
  • Lightness, joy, love… these are the emotional vibrations that keep your heart flexible and strong.
  • These are the antidotes to any hardening of your heart you might be feeling.
  • These are the ways to break down the immobile walls that we naturally build as we protect ourselves along the path of our life.

 

Protecting ourselves comes at a price.

Building walls brings a brittleness, a false strength that can suffocate that which you are trying to protect.

With your own flexibility gone, you lose your power.

Far more powerful is the heart that can open fully and contract fully… that can feel fully.

 

So the first step, find what barriers you have built.

Allow them to soften.

Your ability to yield to life and it’s inevitable pleasures and joy and sorrows and pain, with as little resistance as possible,  will make you stronger.

If your heart is feeling brittle, limited, stiff, hardened, or empty, nurture your own heart first.

Begin with flexibility.

Allow your thoughts to expand, give yourself the flexibility to allow multiple points of view, the vulnerability to be hurt, and the strength to bounce back even stronger.

Give yourself a little love.  A little softness.  A little forgiveness.  A little flexibility.

Flexibility is what makes your heart strong.

Powerful flexibility is what feeds your entire body.

Flexibility is what makes *you* strong.

I painted this painting for you, from a page in my med school anatomy book, to help remind you:

 

Artwork created out of my med school anatomy book… found in my shop here.

 

 

 

So, with the focus on flexibility and embracing our core strength by being open and pliable… where can our hearts take us?

What is the opposite of being constricted, walled in, brittle?

Expansion, baby, expansion!

 

Our hearts are the center of our ability to expand… expand beyond just ourselves, and beyond just our limited experience, and expand beyond just this one lifetime.

We can feel our connection to others, and our eternal nature.

Our heart center expands outwards in spirals of light, right from the center of our being.

Have you ever sat, focusing on something that made you so happy, and just felt your heart grow larger and larger and larger still?

Have you ever felt that your chest was going to explode, your heart energy got so big?

Have you ever felt your heart vibration reach past your chest, past your body, reach into the space around, to the people around you, to the universe around you?

It feels so good, and it feels so good because it is the healthy state of being connected to all of the energy around you.

You are dropping the limited barriers of what defines *you* and reaching out to *all that is*… in this state, I feel that no disease state could maintain itself for long.

In this state, you are pure, positive joy.

In this state, you have blown up all the barriers around your heart, the ones that you built to *protect you* but that actually harm you… they are dissolved and meaningless.

You are greater than this one moment in time, this one body, this one lifetime.

Through your heart, you can expand past any problem, any limitation.

Through your heart, you can connect to all that is physical and non-physical around you.

Through your heart, you can *feel* the eternal that you can’t figure out with your brain.

 

Your heart is an amazing organ, designed to pump nutrition and health throughout your entire body.

It’s designed to pump joy and love throughout your entire being.

Do not limit it to what it physically can do.

Do not regard it as a piece of muscle designed to transport blood.

Instead, really *feel* the entire purpose of it’s design.

It is the one organ, more than any other, that connects your entire body of being together.

It reaches every tissue, every surface, every organ.

 

Through it’s immense meshwork of vasculature,

your heart is one of complete and utter connection.

 

Of expansion.

 

Physically, expanding to every single cell in your body… and emotionally, expanding your life force from you to the universe.

 

heart chakra

I painted this heart chakra artwork to show the energy of the heart expanding outwards in spirals of beauty!

To strengthen and expand you feelings of health and joy, remember those experiences where you feel your heart expanding, and seek to find those more often.

Sit in them and appreciate them when you are in those states of expansion, when you are feeling bigger then life.

In this state you are realizing that the walls you build around your body and mind are no longer helpful, but instead, are constricting.

I feel these states easiest when I sit in appreciation for my children.

I can sit in a room with them and literally feel my heart pound against my chest, expanding through my entire body, then out of my body, pulsing into the universe and connecting me to a greater love.

It is in these moments that I *know* I am tapped in to something more than just myself.

And it is in these moments that I know my connection to my children is eternal.

Do what you can, today, to find a moment like this and savor it.

You have just found your heartsong.

Every moment you spend in that state, you spend in the state of pure and absolute health.

 

 

I hope this list of 10 things you can do to decrease stress and improve your heart health… even in the middle of great personal turmoil… is helpful to you and a blessing of some ideas to consider.

Offered with much love…

xoxox, Laura