Your Road to Wellness

General Health

Feel more relaxed, improve your focus and be more stress resistant by controlling your breathing.

Posted by on 8:43 am Blood Pressure, Breathing, General Health, Happiness, Health, Pain, Research, Stress | 0 comments

The way you breathe has a strong effect on how you feel and function. Research has shown that the amount of times you breath and also how you breathe is important.

The following study included 47 healthy college students which implemented different breathing patterns (Lin IM, et., al., 2014). Anxiety and relaxation levels were measured as well as heart rate variability (HRV).

The reason HRV was measured is because research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening of depression or anxiety. A low HRV has even been associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease. People who have a high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness and be more resilient to stress.

In this study the researchers showed that breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute and with an equal time used to breathe in and out resulted in a higher HRV and an increased feeling of relaxation. The other breathing patterns were not as effective.

A breathing frequency of 6 breaths per minute has been the frequency found to be most effective in most of the studies.

Using your diaphragm when breathing is also important. Implementing that with slow breathing increased sustained attention and lowered cortisol levels–cortisol is a stress hormone– in another study (Ma X, et.al., 2017).

When you use your diaphragm in breathing, you will see your abdomen raising when you breathe in.

This type of breathing has even shown to improve sleep when practiced before bed time (Tsai HJ,et.al., 2015).

 

References

Lin IM, Tai LY, Fan SY,Breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute with equal inhalation-to-exhalation ratio increases heart rate variability, Int J Psychophysiol. 2014 Mar;91(3):206-11.

Ma X, Yue ZQ, Gong ZQ, Zhang H, Duan NY, Shi YT, Wei GX, Li YF, The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults,Front Psychol. 2017 Jun 6;8:874. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874.

Tsai HJ1, Kuo TB, Lee GS, Yang CC,Efficacy of paced breathing for insomnia: enhances vagal activity and improves sleep qualityPsychophysiology. 2015 Mar;52(3):388-96. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12333.

 

 

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What type of protein is best if you want to live longer?

Posted by on 7:32 am Cardiovascular Disease, Diet, Eating, General Health, Health Risk, Nut consumption, The Learn to Eat Plan, Tissue Recovery Blog, Vegetables, Wellness | 0 comments

Does the source of protein really matter as long as we get an adequate supply?

That’s exactly what the researchers of the following study investigated.  85 013 women and 46 329 men, a total of 131342 participants were included in this research (Song M, et.al., 2016).

They examined the associations of animal and plant protein intake with the risk for mortality.

The median protein intake, as assessed by percentage of energy, was 14% for animal protein  and 4% for plant protein.

The researchers concluded that high animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality, and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor.

The worst form of protein was processed red meat.

If you want to improve your odds of living longer, plant protein is what you should eat.

A common trait for populations known to live longer, is that they eat very little animal protein, they only do it occasionally.

Research has also documented that we don’t need a lot of protein. It’s a common misconception that we need a Iot, most people in the western world unless they are vegetarians, eat more protein than they need.

If you eat a plant based diet which includes beans, nuts and seeds, you will not get more protein than you need, but you will get enough.

Reference

Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, Willett WC, Longo VD, Chan AT, Giovannucci EL, Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Oct 1;176(10):1453-1463.

 

 

 

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How can you improve insulin sensitivity other than paying attention to what you eat?

Posted by on 11:43 am General Health | 0 comments

When you are insulin sensitive your insulin can transfer the blood glucose into the cells efficiently because the receptors on the cells function well, they are not resistant to the insulin.

If these receptors start to lose their sensitivity to the insulin, your blood glucose will increase. That can lead to type 2 diabetes if it keeps getting worse, but even if it does not get that point, it can cause a lot of problems.

Insulin resistance usually leads to weight gain, increased inflammation, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and it can even result in neuropathies.

The food we eat is extremely important when it comes to preventing insulin resistance. There are however also other ways to improve insulin sensitivity.

A lot of aerobic exercise can help, but few people are willing to put in the time necessary to see the results.

When young men performed 2 weeks of supervised high intensity short  interval training consisting of 4-6, 30 second sprints per session for 2 weeks with 3 sessions per week on a stationary bike, this is what the researchers found (Babraj JA, et.al., 2009).

Insulin sensitivity was improved by 23%, while aerobic cycling performance improved by approximately 6%.

That was not a lot of time spent exercising, and the benefits were great.

Does this only work for young people? No, in the following study the participants were healthy sedentary older adults with an average age of 65 (Hwang CL, et.al. 2016).

One group did high intensity training for 4 minutes at 90% of peak heart rate with 4 repetitions and another group did 32 minutes of moderate-intensity continuous training. Both groups exercised 4 times a weeks for 4 weeks.

Insulin resistance decreased by 26% and only in the group which did the high intensity short interval training.

References

Babraj JA, Vollaard NB, Keast C, Guppy FM, Cottrell G, Timmons JA.Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.BMC Endocr Disord. 2009 Jan 28;9:3.

Hwang CL, Yoo JK, Kim HK, Hwang MH, Handberg EM, Petersen JW, Christou DD.Novel all-extremity high-intensity interval training improves aerobic fitness, cardiac function and insulin resistance in healthy older adults.Exp Gerontol. 2016 Sep;82:112-9

 

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Do you want a bigger brain and better memory?

Posted by on 7:33 am Alzheimer’s, Anti-Aging, Cognition, Dementia, Exercise, General Health, Memory, Research, Stay healthy, Wellness | 0 comments

 

Is it really possible to increase the size of the brain later in life?

Data from a randomized controlled study of 155 older women, who participated in 52 weeks of resistance training showed reduced cortical white matter atrophy on MRI scans when compared with the control  group (Best JR, et.al., 2015).

This means that they ended up with a bigger brain than they would have had if they had not done the resistance exercise.

Twice-weekly resistance training also promoted memory and increased peak muscle power when they were followed up after 2 years.

The control group did balance and toning.

If you instead prefer aerobic type of exercise, that may also improve your cognition.

Research showed that an individual’s cardio-respiratory fitness was a better predictor of cognitive gains than the exercise dose (Vidoni ED, et.al., 2015).

To improve cardio-respiratory function you can do regular aerobic exercise, or you can do high intensity short interval training which will save you time.

This study compared the effects of long slow distance training with high-intensity interval training in rowers (Ní Chéilleachair NJ, et.al., 2017).

High intensity short interval training was more effective than long and slow distance training in improving performance and aerobic characteristics.

References

Best JR, Chiu BK, Liang Hsu C, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T.Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.

Vidoni ED, Johnson DK, Morris JK, Van Sciver A, Greer CS, Billinger SA, Donnelly JE, Burns JM,Dose-Response of Aerobic Exercise on Cognition: A Community-Based, Pilot Randomized Controlled TrialPLoS One. 2015 Jul 9;10(7):e0131647.

Ní Chéilleachair NJ1,2, Harrison AJ2, Warrington GD,HIIT enhances endurance performance and aerobic characteristics more than high-volume training in trained rowers.J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1052-1058

 

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What else can you do to improve your cognition other than pay attention to the food you eat?

Posted by on 10:31 am Anti-Aging, Cognition, Exercise, General Health, Health, Vigorous Activity, Wellness | 0 comments

 

You actually have quite a lot of control over how functional your brain is going to be.

Research has shown we can slow down memory loss and even improve our memory.

The food we eat is extremely important, but another tool we have is exercise.  Resistance exercise is especially effective.

The following study included 155 older women participating in resistance training 2 days a week for a year (Best JR, et.al., 2015).

They were compared with a group doing balance and toning twice a week and were evaluated at the beginning of the study, after 1 year and after 2 years.

Resistance training improved executive function compared to balance and toning. It also improved memory, reduced cortical white matter.

Atrophy verified on MRI and increased peak muscle power at 2-year follow-up. The balance and toning exercises did not do that.

Men and women doing resistance exercises 2-3 times a week for 6 months significantly improved overall cognitive function, with maintenance of executive and overall benefits over 18 months (Fiatarone Singh MA, et.al., 2014).

They were compared with a group doing seated calisthenics which did not result in the same benefits.

Doing resistance exercise twice a week does not require a lot of time and can help to keep your brain healthier.

That’s time well spent.

References

Best JR, Chiu BK, Liang Hsu C, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T. Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.

Fiatarone Singh MA, Gates N, Saigal N, Wilson GC, Meiklejohn J, Brodaty H, Wen W, Singh N, Baune BT, Suo C, Baker MK, Foroughi N, Wang Y, Sachdev PS, Valenzuela M. The Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) study—resistance training and/or cognitive training in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized, double-blind, double-sham controlled trial. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2014 Dec;15(12):873-80.

 

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Can nuts improve insulin sensitivity even in diabetics?

Posted by on 5:17 am Diabetes, Diet, Eating, General Health, Insulin resistance, Nut consumption | 0 comments

It is important to be as insulin sensitive as possible.

When you are insulin sensitive, your insulin effectively transfers the glucose from you blood into the cells where you can use it for energy, and your blood glucose stays in a low and normal range.

Elevated blood glucose will cause problems because it will increase inflammation, free radicals and damage your tissue. That’s why people with diabetes are much more susceptible to chronic diseases.

High glycemic index carbohydrates will raise your blood glucose too high because this type of food is converted to sugar and absorbed fast. Especially flour (white bread), potatoes and white rice will do that, but foods like whole grain bread, at least the regular whole grain bread you normally get in the store, as well as brown rice, unless you have very little a one time, will do that also.

That’s why substituting those foods for something else can make a significant difference.

That is exactly what was done in the following study.

The research was carried out in a hospital research center.

A group of men and women with type 2 diabetes was put on one of three diets for 3 months (Jenkins DJA, et.al., 2018).

One group was put on a diet getting 477 calories from 75 grams of mixed nuts, one group got 471 calories from 3 whole wheat muffins, and one group got half a serving of the nuts and half a serving of the muffins.

The group consuming the 75 grams of nuts showed a reduction in Hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long term glucose control, compared to the group having the muffins.

Several cardiovascular risk factors also improved in group eating the 75 grams of nuts daily.

Nuts works better than whole grains if you want to improve your glucose control and cardiovascular risk factors.

75 grams of nuts are approximately 2 and a half handfuls of nuts.

Reference

Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Lamarche B, Banach MS, Srichaikul K, Vidgen E, Mitchell S, Parker T, Nishi S, Bashyam B, de Souza RJ, Ireland C, Pichika SC, Beyene J, Sievenpiper JL, Josse RG. Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet: a reanalysis of a randomised controlled trial.Diabetologia. 2018 Aug;61(8):1734-1747.

 

 

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