20 Actions for a Healthier Gut

 - by James Lovette-Black PhD
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So much effort and massive resources are used in our search for a healthier gut. Evidence is rapidly emerging that the gut-brain connection is one that determines the quality of our health and longevity, as the gut-brain appears to be part of a unified immune system (National Institutes of Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15656872 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17088044 , functioning as a “seventh” sense.

Here’s a list of actions to promote a healthy gut, strong immune system, and a healthier brain through nutrition and lifestyle changes that embed protecting and nurturing our gut into one’s life.

  1. Read labels on food items and learn to look for added sugars, the sodium content, the saturated fat content. Buy food items that have low added sugar, minimal sodium, and minimal saturated fat. Buy foods that contain ingredients that are naturally occurring. If you see a lot of additives to food items, get healthier foods, instead.
  2. Eat prebiotics, root veggies and others that set up your gut to be healthy and produce probiotics, like those found in kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
  3. Eat foods that naturally contain probiotics.
  4. Avoid processed foods that strip phytonutrients and add chemicals.
  5. Eat adequate amounts of healthy proteins, ensuring that most of it comes from beans, legumes, and non-meat sources, as they are healthier.
  6. Eat adequate amounts of fiber every day and get it from food. Avoid using fiber supplements unless instructed prescribed for a specific medical condition. Always seek the most natural foods to treat constipation or irregular bowel movements and get medically evaluated if these conditions persist for more than a few days or are short-term and problematic.
  7. If you eat meat, ensure it is properly prepared and thoroughly cooked.
  8. Limit the quantity of food you eat, stopping well before your mind tells you that you are full.
  9. Ensure you are adequately hydrated and make water your number one beverage.
  10. Avoid drinking beverages with added sugars. This includes fruit juices, carbonated soda, and numerous mixed cocktails.
  11. Avoid drinking alcohol or minimize the amounts.
  12. Drink herbal teas and learn which ones are healthy for you.
  13. Chew your food thoroughly and mindfully appreciate its flavors and characteristics.
  14. Avoid over the counter (OTC) medicines that negatively impact your gut, by searching online for “NAME OF OTC MEDICINE and impact on gut bacteria”, and limit your use of these substances. These include antacids, probiotics, and numerous common OTC drugs.
  15. Avoid using laxatives or stool softeners that are OTC meds.
  16. Avoid eating for at least two-three hours before bedtime. If you are hungry near bedtime, eat a piece of fruit.
  17. Ensure you have a colonoscopy when your health clinician tells you it is time for one.
  18. Unless you have no other choice (and there are plenty of other choices for most people), do not blindly seek or accept prescription meds that alter your gut, for instance, as a way to treat reflux or heartburn. Ask the prescriber if this med will cause changes to the gut and seek healthier alternatives.
  19. Add more walking to your day, as it destresses the body and provides countless benefits to the gut and brain.
  20. Learn progressive relaxation techniques through studying meditation. There are many apps to help and many places to learn.

Choose to live better by making healthier choices and by slowly integrating changes. Build on health and generate higher wellness.


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Use a Dash of Ground Ginger to Take Down Inflammation

 - by James Lovette-Black PhD
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Ground ginger treats inflammation

We are hearing conversations everywhere about food-as-medicine. As common herbs go, studies demonstrate rosemary, ginger, turmeric, and cloves to be potent anti-inflammatory substances, even in typical amounts use to prepare foods.

Try adding a good dash of ground ginger to one or two cups of your morning coffee or tea. It doesn’t appreciably alter the taste and enhances the base coffee flavors. Keep a little container of it near your coffee or tea preparation area to facilitate use.

As an herb that contains appreciable amounts of readily-absorbed anti-inflammatory complexes, your body and mind will thank you for using them.

 

 

 

 

Happiness is a choice I make.

7 Principles for Embedding a New Health or Fitness Routine Into Your Life

 - by James Lovette-Black PhD
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There are many ways to adopt a routine and a few for failing to incorporate a health or fitness routine into one’s life. If you are like most people, you’ve likely begun and dropped countless health or fitness routines. For me, it’s been running, jogging, hiking, yoga, weight-lifting, etc. Two health and fitness practices that have stuck in my life are hiking and daily yoga practice.

In the pursuit of acquiring a healthier lifestyle and optimizing wellness, here are 7 Principles for Embedding a New Health or Fitness Routine.

Seinfeld Method of habit creating

Seinfeld Method of habit creating

  1. A slowly tapering, practiced habit sticks for life. This means start gently, slowly build, and persist in practicing.
  2. One must not skip practice. If a daily practice is missed for any reason, just do it the next day and don’t get hung up over missing a session.
  3. One must daily make a note of their practice. The Seinfeld Method of not breaking the “chain” of habit is a sound one. Either using a digital prompt – like a task app on a smart device or computer – or an old-fashioned calendar on which a simple note or checkmark is made, every day note one’s practice. A small notebook for logging practice works quite well.
  4. One must share with others to socially contract the plan, progress, and outcome of practice. This emphasizes a commitment to actually doing the work of the practice and heightens the likelihood of practicing. This is an excellent use of social media and of personal networks of friends or family.
  5. One must establish, then broaden, and then deepen one’s practice. First things first: just start doing it and keep doing it, then broaden aspects of the health and fitness routine, and then deepen the practice. An example here is performing the Warrior Pose II (Virabhadrasana II): first, carefully imitate the posture (called an asana in yoga) and establish it in one’s daily life, then slowly learn the technique from the feet upward and broaden the practice, and then deepen the practice by adding correct breathing (called pranayama in yoga).
  6. One must be mindful during and about one’s practice. Mindfulness means being present in the practice or fully aware
    Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II in yoga asana

    Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II in yoga asana

    and conscious of one’s thoughts and movements about the practice when not performing it. This means holding and practicing affirming or positive thoughts about it, as in mentally declaring that one will hike or walk or do yoga at such-and-such a time, and train one’s thoughts to focus on the practice while doing it. Although this sounds easy, some individuals in our hurry-hurry-hurry world find this challenging. The best counsel here is practice mindfulness, read about it, and practice more.

  7. One must continue to acquire new knowledge and skills. It is well documented that fitness routines must be shaken up and changed, otherwise one’s mind becomes bored and tends to avoid practicing. After establishing, broadening, and deepening one’s practice, the next logical step is to continue enhancing the practice.

The idea here is to select a health or fitness method, learn about it, practice it, and embed it into one’s life. Persistence is key and these principles will aid in elevating one’s wellness and health.

As Virgil declared: Fortune sides with him who dares. So, dare to start and dare to embed a new health or fitness routine.

10 Easy Ways to Pump Up Your Respiratory Health

 - by James Lovette-Black PhD
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Influenzavirus

Influenza virus

Everyone in the world of modern communication has heard about H1N1 influenza or the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1920. To protect one’s health in these circumstances and in everyday living, changes in personal hygienic behaviors will promote respiratory health.

Humans have reason to fear and prepare for influenza pandemics, especially given that an estimated 50 to 100 million people died in the Spanish Flu pandemic, a total equal to one third of the European population. Many deaths were from secondary illnesses, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, which is instructive.

There are simple behaviors that can keep one from getting these illnesses or minimize one’s chances of getting them. If adopted these habits can effectively avoid or minimize community-acquired illnesses throughout the year. With practice, nearly all who do will see a significant drop in their colds and other respiratory illnesses. As well, these are highly effective methods for improving one’s general fitness and health.

 

HERE’S HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR RESPIRATORY HEALTH

  • For one day, pay attention to all of the surfaces your hands touch in public settings: bathrooms, buses or trains, workplace surfaces, etc. Remind yourself of the people who have also touched these surfaces and of the poor hand hygiene of many people.
  • Improve your hand hygiene, which consists of both handwashing and hand sanitizing. Hand SANITIZERS remove or kill bacteria, but not viruses: this is a common misunderstanding. HANDWASHING removes bacteria, viruses, and physical soiling from hands. Thorough handwashing is always the preferred method.
  • Sneeze or cough into your inner elbow, which covers and contains your coughed secretions and keeps material from your hands.
  • Minimize touching your face unless your hands have been recently washed.
  • Knuckle it: use your knuckles on keypads for ATMs or other access: do not use your fingertips.
  • If you must use a public pen for a signature, promptly sanitize your hands after using it.
  • Do not touch straps, poles, or any part of a bus or train when commuting. If you must steady or reposition yourself, on exiting the vehicle immediately sanitize your hands and then wash your hands at your next opportunity.
  • Always wash your hands when you return home (see handwashing technique below).

HAND HYGIENE

Proper use of hand sanitizers means that you cover your hands with enough solution to briskly rub over the hands, then allow them to air dry. Hand sanitizers are not meant to be a substitute for handwashing, but are used when handwashing is not convenient or unwarranted. Handwashing is a better method of hygiene than is hand sanitizing. Handwashing should always be used when one has soiled hands. The best practice is to WASH YOUR HANDS more often.

 

PROPER HANDWASHING includes:

soapy handwashing

Soapy handwashing

  • turn on faucet and wet dirty hands with water first (soap is too harsh on your skin unless first diluted)
  • apply enough soap to adequately wash hands
  • wash all surfaces of hands briskly and thoroughly: palms, finger tips, back of hands, wrists, and between fingers
  • wash all hand surfaces by rubbing vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds: sing “Happy Birthday” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” 3 times to yourself until you have learned the proper length of time
  • turn off faucet with paper towel or use your elbow if towels are unavailable
  • dry hands thoroughly
  • do not touch surfaces or door handles when you exit the bathroom: instead, use a paper towel, your coat, or your foot

if you handwash frequently, consider using a non-scented lotion after handwashing to maintain skin integrity, as frequent use of soaps can cause micro-breaks in the skin of the hands and these can provide access to bacteria or viruses. Once you begin to practice these simple methods, you may notice others’ lack of proper hand hygiene, especially when using public facilities. You may also be surprised by a drop in colds or other community-acquired infections and illnesses.

 

Simple practices support one’s general health – and the health of the community. Choose to improve your hand hygiene and elevate your wellness.

@DoctorJames

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