Tag Archives: Stress management

How Can Yoga Help You?

YogaSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

Those of us have seen photos of yogis performing the ultimate in yoga poses may be intimidated to try a class. Many may be interested in yoga but think of themselves as unable to do the poses for a variety of reasons. The truth is, you don’t have to be an expert, young, physically fit, or an ideal weight to experience the many mental, physical and relaxation benefits of a regular yoga practice. All yoga poses are adaptable to different skill levels and a good instructor will know how to use the right props that enable you to get the most benefit out of each pose. Unlike a ballet studio, a typical yoga studio will not have mirrors, as the class is not about comparing yourself to others or being part of a troupe. It’s about improving your own flexibility, strength and balance, reducing stress and centering on your own mindfulness, health and wellbeing. The idea is to explore your own limits to challenge yourself physically without feeling overwhelmed. Poses are intended to align your body and the practice helps you to get in touch with your inner self.

If the idea of a class is too overwhelming, there are numerous tools available that make it easy to practice in the comfort of your own home. It’s okay to start slowly, as adding just a few simple poses to your daily routine can provide some health boosting benefits. While there are many branches of yoga, most sessions typically include breathing exercises (pranayamas), getting into and holding poses (asanas), and finishing with a restful meditation period (savasana). Whatever type you choose should provide relaxation benefits without causing stress or pain. For sure, yoga is not like running on the treadmill or lifting weights at the gym. Yoga is mind/body exercise that can help with reducing anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, while providing a respite from our everyday overly busy lives.

Yoga has been practiced for 5,000 years, and is widely accepted as a safe and effective alternative therapeutic exercise. It may only take a few months before you begin to see the benefits of daily practice. Regular practice will indeed strengthen and lengthen the muscles, lower heart rate and blood pressure, increase endurance and improve the quality of life for everyone. Yoga has been shown to have a positive impact on those suffering with depression, chronic illness, arthritis or back pain.

Positive body image – Because yoga promotes an inner awareness rather than outward appearance, those who practice yoga regularly are found to be more satisfied with and are less critical of their bodies. Yoga has become part of the treatment for eating disorders and programs that are designed to promote self-esteem and positive body image.

Back Pain – Numerous studies have found that yoga is often effective in reducing chronic back pain, improving back function and creating greater spinal flexibility. Many yoga postures strengthen the back and the abdominal muscles, essential components of the muscular network of the spine. Conditioning these muscles can help to greatly reduce back pain. The stretching and relaxation techniques promote flexibility in muscles and joints, increasing blood flow and allowing nutrients to flow into the area, while letting toxins flow out.

Anxiety and Depression – Studies have shown that healthy people who practice yoga can achieve a more positive outlook on life and develop coping skills. While other physical activities play a role in physical and psychological health, stretching, balancing and strengthening our body’s core muscles all contribute to optimal wellbeing. Researchers have found that yoga is an effective way to alleviate depression and anxiety. Anxiety disorders and depression, the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., are typically treated with pharmaceuticals which treat the symptoms but can have negative side effects. Research on yoga as a therapeutic tool shows evidence that yoga can help treat depression and anxiety though accessing the mind-body connection and changing the patterns of negative self-talk and obsessions.

Cardiovascular benefits – Several studies have found that yoga has a positive effect on blood pressure for people who have hypertension and may also help to improve lipid profiles. Yoga’s stress relieving benefits contribute to good overall and cardiac health, and may offer tremendous benefits in the management of acute emotional distress after a cardiac incident.  The breathing exercises are also thought to improve cardio-respiratory fitness. The American Heart Association recommends continued yoga practice as a preventative measure for long term heart health, and for recovery from cardiac arrest.

Weight loss and maintenance – Researchers have found that those who practice yoga have lower BMI’s, which may be attributed to a state of mindfulness that carries over to a more positive relationship with food and healthy eating. Those who begin at a healthy weight are more likely to maintain their weight. The surprising thing is that the poses don’t have to be difficult to aid weight management. Not surprisingly, yoga helps to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, positively affecting belly fat.

Stress management – By incorporating meditation and mindful breathing, yoga helps to improve metal wellbeing, increase calmness, relieve chronic stress, relax the mind, and improve mental clarity. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, yoga has a demonstrated ability to lower cortisol levels. Similar to the way an adaptogen works, yoga brings the body into balance and can help to normalize cortisol levels that are either too high or too low. Yoga reduces muscle tension and relaxes the mind, helping to deactivate the stress response.

References:
11 Unexpected Health-Promoting Benefits of Yoga. http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness-pictures/10-surprising-health-perks-of-yoga.aspx
What Yoga Can and Can’t Do for You. http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/1230what-yoga-can-and-cant-do-for-you.aspx
Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat
Yoga and Heart Health. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Yoga-and-Heart-Health_UCM_434966_Article.jsp
Yoga for anxiety and depression. http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
Destress with Yoga. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/beginner-s-bliss/

Healthy Aging Support for Men over 40

HealthyAgingMenJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

 

 

It happens to all of us. We wake up one morning and are surprised to find ourselves suddenly in midlife when we feel no different than we felt yesterday. Right about the time we reach age 40, we may begin to realize that we are not invincible, and that we need to take steps to protect our longevity and long term health. While we may look forward to many active years ahead, how we live now will determine how we live in later life. Practicing prevention with a healthy lifestyle, while we are young, will result in healthier years ahead. It will also reduce the risk of developing preventable chronic diseases and gender specific health issues associated with aging. As well, a dismissive attitude towards prevention can have dire consequences in the long term. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the top health concerns for aging men are prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction, weight management, diabetes and stroke.

Men’s protein needs are proportionally greater than women’s, especially when combined with regular physical activity. Physically active men who wish to maintain lean muscle mass as they grow older require more protein than sedentary men. As metabolic rates decrease with age, good quality protein along with vitamins and minerals help to maintain both lean muscle mass and energy levels. Good nutrition is needed to maintain immune function and overall health, as well as to protect muscle, bone, prostate, cardiac and vision health. Antioxidant vitamins that help prevent oxidative damage also become more important with aging. Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain strong and healthy bones. Fiber keeps the gastrointestinal tract running smoothly and helps to reduce cholesterol and maintain weight.

Cardiovascular health – The American Heart Association indicates that one in three adult men have some form of cardiovascular disease. Blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and homocysteine levels begin to creep up with aging, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. Adult men should monitor their cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as high levels are known contributors to heart disease, and high blood pressure is common in younger males. Essential nutrients for heart health include omega-3 fatty acids for decreased inflammation, and maintenance of healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels; folate and vitamin B6 for maintenance of healthy homocysteine levels; CoQ10 for maintenance of cellular energy; healthy fats for reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels; polyphenols, to aid relaxation of blood vessels and lower blood pressure; and antioxidants such as resveratrol, to combat oxidative stress and reduce free radicals.

Weight management – As we age, metabolism slows and exercise becomes increasingly important. Eating for health and controlling portion sizes are critical to maintaining a healthy weight. A poor diet that includes salty and highly processed foods contributes to hypertension, high blood sugar and ultimately, obesity, poor health and a host of age related chronic illnesses. Healthy foods for weight management include eggs, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, fish, lean proteins, beans and legumes, and healthy fats such as avocado.

Diabetes – Along with the current obesity epidemic, type 2 diabetes is a significant health concern for older men. Blood glucose levels should be monitored, as blood sugar can frequently be maintained or lowered with a healthy diet and lifestyle, often warding off pre-diabetes, diabetes and insulin dependency. The American Diabetes Association recommends that those eating a largely plant based diet should be sure to get sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, omega–3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D and iron. For diabetes prevention, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends exercising to reach and maintain normal weight, following a healthy nutritious, low glycemic index diet, not smoking and limiting alcohol.

Eye health – Changes in vision and hearing loss are relatively common for people in their 40’s. Many will typically notice problems with close range vision especially in low light. Some may experience floaters or dry eye syndrome. Good nutrition and eye friendly nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, zinc and essential fatty acids support and preserve long term vision health, and help to reduce the risk of developing age related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or cataracts.

Prostate health – The majority of American men develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), commonly known as an enlarged prostate. A prostate-healthy, largely plant based diet that includes legumes, garlic, onions and flax seeds, plus other modifiable lifestyle factors, including regular physical activity, can prevent or positively influence progression of the disease. As obesity is a risk factor for developing BPH, a diet high in vegetables, fruits, fiber and nutrients can help ward off weight gain, thereby supporting prostate health. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, red grapefruits, papaya and other red fruits and vegetables, helps to lower the blood levels of antigen, a protein connected to prostate inflammation and BPH.

Stress management – Chronic stress is a known high risk factor for coronary disease. Participation in regular exercise, healthy amounts of restorative sleep and relaxation techniques reduce stress and help allay future health concerns. Healthy eating is crucial to provide immune and energy support during times of increased stress. Whole, unprocessed foods that contain fiber and phytonutrients boost immune function and help maintain overall health. As stress creates a greater physiological demand for energy, oxygen, and circulation, a daily vitamin and mineral supplement can provide micronutrient support. Supplements including antioxidants, B vitamins and omega-3 fats are particularly important for those under stress.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements for men’s health support:

Every Man's One Daily by New ChapterEvery Man’s Once Daily by New Chapter – This whole food complexed multivitamin is specifically formulated to meet the needs of active men and provide support for immune function, energy production and cardiac health. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

Trilogy Men by Vibrant HealthTrilogy Men by Vibrant Health – This unique product supplies a daily power pack that includes a 100% organic plant based multivitamin, mercury free EPA and DHA fish oil, as well as a 12 strain probiotic. It provides 20 billion CFU of helpful microorganisms in support of healthy blood sugar levels, cardiac health, energy production and immune and overall health. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.

 

Al's Formula (Basic Nutrients For Men Over 40) (VMM) by Thorne ResearchAl’s Formula Basic Nutrients for Men over 40 –  This comprehensive formula, specifically designed to meet men’s nutritional needs, provides prostate support, promotes healthy cardiovascular function and supplies all essential nutrients for overall health. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.

 

Enzyme Nutrition Multi-Vitamin for Men by EnzymedicaEnzyme Nutrition Multi-Vitamin for Men by Enzymedica – This product provides 100% whole food and enzyme activated nutrients that enhance the utilization of vitamins and minerals. The formula includes guaranteed potency probiotics, nutrient rich superfoods and daily botanicals in order to support increased energy and stamina, heart health, and immune function and to promote longevity. Gluten, soy and dairy fee, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.

 

MultiMedica for Men by NuMedicaMultiMedica for Men by NuMedica – This comprehensive multivitamin, mineral, botanical and amino acid formula is designed to meet the unique nutritional requirements of men. This product provides overall wellness support and antioxidant protection, along with prostate, liver and adrenal supportive nutrients. Gluten and dairy free.

 

Homocysteine Factors by Pure EncapsulationsHomocysteine Factors by Pure Encapsulations – This high quality product provides activated vitamin B6 and bioavailable folate in support of the maintenance of healthy homocysteine levels. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

 

References:
Nutrition for Older Men. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/healthy-aging/nutrition-for-older-men
Top Health Concerns for Men and Women. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2012/03/top-health-concerns-for-men-women/
10 Top Health Risks for Men. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-10-health-risks-for-men#2
Healthy aging – http://www.healthcommunities.com/healthy-aging/healthy-living-tips-40s.shtml
Diet and Nutrition – http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y
Important Nutrients for Stress Management. http://paleoleap.com/important-nutrients-stress-management/
10 Essential Nutrients for Heart Health. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7757/10-essential-nutrients-for-heart-health.html
Key Nutrients – http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/meal-planning-for-vegetarians/nutirents-vegetarians.html
Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/