Since the 16th century, people have used copaiba in physical and spiritual healing ceremonies. The copaiba tree grows in South America and can reach up to 100 feet tall. Its thick tree trunk provides access to the essential oil through oleoresin, which can be tapped like maple syrup from the maple tree. After the copaiba oleoresin is harvested, it is steam distilled to extract the essential oil. [Read more…]
For years, essential oils have been the rage in the natural health arena. From improving your mood to helping stimulate healing, is there anything they can’t do? Whether you’re in school and test time is looming, or you’re concerned with aging gracefully and retaining your memory functions as you do so, there are a number of essential oils to help you achieve your goals. I’ve pulled together a list of my five favorite essential oils to improve memory, plus a few more recommendations for decreased stress, to help you do just that. [Read more…]
Many studies have demonstrated that the proper balance of gut bacteria may be the key to enjoying a longer, healthier life. What we put into our gut is essential for wellness. Without a proper balance of gut bacteria, it can even increase the odds of developing certain types of cancer, and recent research has found that it also has a link to anxiety.
Healthy, “good bacteria,” have a number of essential roles when it comes to health, both physically and mentally, and in recent years more scientists have become intrigued as to the idea that there could be an especially powerful connection between the brain and gut bacteria.
How gut bacteria affect our mental and physical health
We now know that bacteria living in the gut have a rather bizarre influence over one’s mood, depression, and other aspects, but it’s been unclear as to just how these bacteria seem to have kind of a “remote control” ability over the brain. Recent research in rodents published in the journal Microbiome has suggested that these gut microbes may alter the inventory of molecules, known as microRNAs, helping to keep the cells in working order by managing the production of protein in areas of the brain that are involved in controlling anxiety.
Other research from neurobiologists at Oxford University, offered more evidence of the link between mental health and gut bacteria, finding that prebiotic supplements designed to boost healthy bacteria in the GI tract may provide anti-anxiety effects, actually altering the way that people process emotional information.
What Prebiotics Are
You’re probably at least familiar with the term probiotics. While those consist of strains of good bacteria, prebiotics are carbohydrates that serve as nourishment for those healthy bacteria, acting as “food” for the good bacteria already in the gut. The researchers also discovered that individuals who took prebiotics had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol which has been linked to both depression and anxiety.
Prebiotics are a kind of non-digestible fiber compound by definition. Similar to other high fiber foods, prebiotic compounds like the type found in jicama, onions, garlic, dandelion and Jerusalem artichokes, pass through the upper part of the GI tract where they remain undigested as they’re unable to be broken down. Once they pass through the small intestine and move on to the colon, they’re fermented by gut microflora.
As those prebiotics make their way through the stomach without being broken down via digestive enzymes or gastric acids, they can positively affect the digestive tract and organs by becoming nutrient sources for those good bacteria in your gut.
Why Most Have Us Have Excess Unhealthy Gut Bacteria
Many of us have far too many unhealthy gut bacteria which can lead to a host of health problems, including anxiety. Why? Most of our ancestors traditionally consumed fermented and raw foods, which contained lots of beneficial bacteria. The problem that we see today usually comes from consuming too many “junk” or processed foods, particularly sugar, as it disrupts the normally healthy composition of the gut. That good bacteria is pasteurized, irradiated, and frequently processed beyond recognition. That results in much of our modern foods leading to an abundance of “bad,” harmful bacteria which ultimately lead to them taking over the good healthy bacteria.
So how do you fix the problem?
Prebiotic foods are still mostly underappreciated, and because the health of our gut is so closely linked to other functions throughout the body, you need both probiotics and prebiotics in order to fight off excess inflammation, increase the overall risk of disease, and prevent mental health issues like anxiety too.
So first, make sure you’re getting enough probiotics, which you may already be doing, including foods like:
- Plain, organic Greek yogurt (only choose yogurt with two ingredients: milk and live yogurt cultures to avoid potentially harmful additives including sugar and artificial sweeteners).
- Sauerkraut (all fermented foods are considered outstanding sources of probiotics)
- Kefir (kind of like a drinkable yogurt, made from kefir grains and especially rich in probiotics)
- Pickles (all you need is a tablespoon or a single strip each day – avoid types with added sugar, dyes or preservatives
Prebiotics are primarily found in certain types of vegetables, as well as some whole grains, honey and sources of resistant starch such as under-ripe bananas.
These are some of the best foods for getting your prebiotics:
Asparagus. Asparagus is loaded with fiber, folate and other B vitamins and even contains some protein, with 4 grams per 8 stalks. It’s an easy way to get your prebiotics as you can eat it sauteed, grilled or even toss it into a smoothie.
Onions. Use them more often by adding them to stews, sauces, soups and the like and even tossing them onto the grill with other items. They’re a cheap tasty way to flavor your food and improve your digestion as they also contain a natural source of inulin that the gut uses to increase good bacteria. They’re also jam-packed with antioxidants.
Dandelion Greens. Use dandelion greens by chopping them up and adding them into a salad, or tossing them in a smoothie. They’re high in vitamin A in the form of the antioxidant carotenoid, AKA beta-carotene, as well as vitamin C. They’re an especially good source of calcium and iron, along with a host of other minerals like copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. They even contain more protein per serving them spinach, with the greens themselves providing all essential amino acids. Plus, the roots contain inulin and luteolin, which are known to help regulate blood sugar as well as taraxacin.
Garlic. Garlic is an excellent source of inulin in addition to serving as a powerful antibacterial agent. It helps to kick out the bad bacteria and feed the good ones. Use it as often as you can by adding it to a stir-fry, into sauces and soups, dips or a homemade hummus.
Beans. Beans are a particularly strong way to boost digestion as they’re filled with oligosaccharides that feed healthy gut bacteria, which can actually be a problem for some, especially if you aren’t a regular bean eater. The best way to add them to your diet is slowly, and be sure to soak them overnight and cook them extremely well, almost to the point of being overdone. or add them slowly to your diet a day so your body can adapt.
Other Important Steps to Take
In addition to consuming both prebiotics and probiotics, it’s important to practice other healthy lifestyle habits too, including:
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding processed “junk” foods, including fast food, and limiting sugar intake
- Limit alcohol intake
- Incorporating stress-relief practices into your daily routine such as meditation or deep breathing
- Reducing exposure to toxins by taking actions like avoiding cigarette smoke and using natural cleaning products rather than chemical-filled cleansers.
- Only taking antibiotics when absolutely necessary
In these stressful times, it is easy to become anxious and fearful for the future. If you have found yourself frenzied, panicked, or stressed out in the last few months, you are not alone! Thankfully, there are healthy ways to handle, process, and minimize the stress in your life. Along with regular exercise, eating healthy, and cutting out sources of anxiety where you can, these soothing essential oils will help calm and refocus your mind and allow you to be settled in the present.
There’s a lot of turmoil in the world right now. No matter what you do or where you live, you’ve likely been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way. Whether you’re struggling with reduced hours, job loss, or the fear of you or your loved ones contracting the virus, you’re probably experiencing some form of anxiety. While it may be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel during this worldwide crisis, it is crucial to stay positive and focus on your physical and mental health. Though it may sound strange, an Epsom salt foot soak may be just what you need to decrease fear and anxiety in your life and return to a place of peace.
A 1995 study reported that ninety-one percent of people surveyed admitted to picking their nose. I imagine things haven’t changed much over the years. Some pick to remove boogers, while others simply pick out of habit or compulsion. Whatever the reason, it seems like most Americans are doing a little housecleaning now and again. However, research now finds that this somewhat mindless, and hopefully private, habit, may be potentially dangerous for your health.
Stress and anxiety have become common issues in our fast-paced lives. This has led to a rise in stress-related health conditions and negatively impacts mental and physical health. Stress and anxiety can be attributed to a lack of sleep, increasing lifestyle commitments, and work pressures.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a stretching, meditation, and muscle relaxation technique wrapped up into one simple practice. Though it can benefit many systems, this practice, first introduced by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1930s, is primarily used as an anxiety-reduction technique. It is a way to relieve tension in your body, help reduce stress and anxiety, and soothe aching muscles, without any medication or equipment. PMR utilizes mindful tensing of the muscles and breathing patterns to loosen tight muscles and make you realize areas of stress and pain in each of your muscle groups.
Most people are well aware of the connection between sugary snacks and desserts and the obesity epidemic. Sugar wreaks havoc on your body, causing serious diseases and pain along with inflammation and type 2 diabetes, to name just a few. However, there is an even darker side of America’s sugar addiction that is often overlooked. Sugar can actually affect your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know how disruptive they can be. If you’ve never had one, trust me when I say panic attacks can convince you that you’re going to die right where you stand. My solution? Drop into one (or more) of these yoga poses. Each one can bring you back to center and cut a panic attack off before it takes over. [Read more…]