Meditation

LATEST NEWS FROM: Think

Anxiety May Accelerate Aging

Part of what makes relaxation so good for you is by tamping down the effects of stress and anxiety. For instance, a recent study revealed that anxiety disorders increase your risk of several aging-related conditions, which might be due to accelerated aging at the cellular level.2

This cellular aging was reversible when the anxiety disorder went into remission, which suggests sound relaxation strategies may help you avoid this accelerated aging. In fact, you might be aware that your body has a stress response that kicks into gear when you’re facing a real (or perceived) threat.

The counterpart of the stress response is the relaxation response, which is a physical state of deep rest that changes physical and emotional responses to stress.

Researchers now know that by evoking your body’s built-in relaxation response – your innate, inborn capacity to counter the harmful effects of stress, according to an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson3 — you can actually change the expression of your genes for the better.

According to one study in PLOS One:4

RR [relaxation response] elicitation is an effective therapeutic intervention that counteracts the adverse clinical effects of stress in disorders including hypertension, anxiety, insomnia and aging…

RR practice enhanced expression of genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and telomere maintenance, and reduced expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress-related pathways.”

Previous research by Dr. Benson and colleagues also found that people who practice relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation long-term have more disease-fighting genes switched “on” and active, including genes that protect against pain, infertility, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis.5

The Many Health Benefits of Deep Relaxation

If you want to experience the health benefits of relaxation, you need to do more than lounge on your couch watching TV. You’re looking for deep relaxation, the kind where your mind stops running and your body is free of tension. Read Full Article

Everyone knows flax is healthy

Everyone knows flax is healthy, but with the rise of chia’s popularity and superfood status, we seem to have forgotten just how awesome flax seeds really are. Let’s take a look at their most prize-worthy attributes: they have the highest source of omega 3 fats of all plant foods, they’re high in a type of fiber known as lignans that benefit the heart, they make a perfect stand-in for flour in a recipe, they’re a great source of B vitamins and magnesium, and best of all – they have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Yep – flax seeds deserve much more credit than most of us give them. So, how about we talk about some new exciting ways to enjoy them for breakfast?

Adding flax at breakfast is a great idea because it powers up your day, ensures you’re starting things out on a healthy foot, and it’s easy to remember to add them in the morning versus later on in the day when things get busy. Plus, they go awesome with most any breakfast food you can think of, sweet or savory. Need some new ideas? Check these out and try them this week:

1. Protein Cereal

This is one of my favorite ways to use flax and it’s so easy that anyone can do it: add two tablespoons of ground flax to one scoop of vegan protein powder in a bowl. You can also add in coconut flour to give it a heartier, thicker texture. Next, add some spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, plus a bit of healthy sweetener such as stevia. Stir everything together and add in some of your favorite non-dairy milk until it thickens into a thick consistency just like oat bran.

This makes an awesome breakfast that you can easily mix with fruit or just eat by itself. It’s also just like a thick cereal due to the hearty flax added. Just be sure your flax seeds are ground (versus whole)  so they’ll  taste the best and you”ll get the most nutrition possible.

2. Make Healthy Bread

As I mentioned, flax makes a great replacement to flour in a recipe. Flax seeds have an amazing hearty, dense, thickening property that works really well in baked goods. Try them out in a healthy baked bread recipe, which you can top with almond butter, vegan jam, and coconut yogurt for a delicious morning meal.

3. Bake Up Some Muffins

So you’re a muffin fan, eh? Me too, and there’s no need for eggs at all with the help of flax seeds. Use them to replace part or all of the flour and as a stand-in for eggs. Need a recipe? These banana breakfast muffins are sure to please, no doubt! Read More

Relax to reduce stress

Relaxation techniques are a great way to help with stress management. Relaxation isn’t only about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems, such as heart disease and pain.

Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you’ve already got it tamed, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Learning basic relaxation techniques is easy. Relaxation techniques also are often free or low cost, pose little risk and can be done nearly anywhere.

Explore these simple relaxation techniques and get started on de-stressing your life and improving your health.

The benefits of relaxation techniques

When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks or the demands of an illness, relaxation techniques may not be a priority in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.

Practicing relaxation techniques can have many benefits, including:

  • Slowing heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Improving digestion
  • Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
  • Reducing activity of stress hormones
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration and mood
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Lowering fatigue
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as thinking positively, finding humor, problem-solving, managing time, exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends. Read full article

Start your day off right

The next time you rush out the door in the morning without something to eat, consider this: Skipping breakfast can set you up for overeating later in the day. A healthy a.m. meal, on the other hand, can give you energy, satisfy your appetite, and set the stage for smart decisions all day long.

“You want to aim for a breakfast that combines good carbs and fiber with some protein,” says Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, a nutritionist at Clay Health Club and Spa, in New York City. Luckily, your options are plenty. Here’s a look at some of our favorite breakfast foods, along with expert tips for making them even healthier.

Oatmeal

You may have noticed a heart-shaped seal on your box of oatmeal recently. The seal’s there because oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that’s been shown to help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Need another reason to dig in? Oats are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium.

Steel-cut oats, which take about 15 minutes to cook, contain more fiber than rolled oats or instant varieties, but any type of oatmeal is a healthy choice. Just avoid the flavored kinds, which can be packed with sugar. Instead, sweeten your bowl with milk and a bit of honey, and top with fruit and nuts.

Greek yogurt

This tangy, creamy yogurt is loaded with calcium and boasts plenty of protein—nearly twice as much as regular yogurt—to keep you feeling full throughout the morning. Your best bet: Choose a plain, nonfat variety, and add some fruit to give it some sweetness and flavor (and a dose of added nutrition).

“I love Greek yogurt because it’s really quick and easy,” Giovinazzo says. “You can always take it with you on your way out the door.”

 

Wheat germ

A little wheat germ goes a long way. Just two tablespoons provide about 15% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin E and 10% of your daily folate. “Vitamin E is often a little low in people’s diets, so this is a good way to add in some extra—especially if you don’t eat a lot of nuts or seeds, two other big sources,” Giovinazzo says.

It’s easy to incorporate wheat germ into almost any meal, including your go-to breakfasts: Sprinkle it over cereal, stir it into yogurt, or mix it into a smoothie.  Read More

Top 10 Foods that Relax Your Nerves

Are you looking for ways to relax your nerves and free your mind from the issues of life for a while? Then the good news is that you are reading the right article that will help do just that. In trying to relax your nerves, many think that you have to go with only meditation or yoga which happens to be mind relaxation exercises that get you to calm your mind, but there are other ways in which you can use to relax your mind and calm your nerves.

In this article, we are going to talk about 10 foods that relax your nerves and calm your mind. Often times, people neglect the effects that food have in their mind, they feel that the only visible function that the food they eat performs is to make them healthy and strong. Of course that is one of the functions of food, but when you come to the point of using food as a means to relax your mind, you will find out that that there are many things that food can help you do and one of them is using them as a means of relaxation.

Learn How to Relax Yourself – Here are 10 Foods that Relax Your Nerves

Milk

The first food that relax your nerves is milk. Milk can be used as a mind relaxation food because it produces a calming effect on its subjects. Milk is known to contain tryptophan which helps to produce serotonin, which is a sleep inducing hormone, that is why health specialists recommend that you take a glass of milk before you go to bed, to help you get a good night’s rest. So if you are feeling a little bit anxious or you need to relax your nerves, just grab a glass of cold milk and wait to see effects.

 

Soup

Soup is also among the best foods that relax your nerves. This works well because it helps to get rid of foreign bodies and infections from your body which are the main things that get many people uneasy. You should go with soups that contain vegetables like tomatoes, green peppers, carrots and you can also add garlic, spinach, thyme and many other ingredients that you could use to improve your well being.

Honey

This is a food that many people know and even many use but many don’t know that it can be used to relax the body and the mind. Honey is known to contain high in tryptophan and as stated before, this supplement helps to reduce anxiety and relax the nerve. Apart from this, honey is also known to be rich in potassium which has a soothing relieve on the brain and also the body. Potassium help to fight off stress hormones in the body and acids to relax the nervous system.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate helps to reduce stress levels in the brain and this can be done because it contains serotonin, endorphin and dopamine, which are great hormones for the mollifying of stress level in the brain. There are many foods that you can find that are great source of dark chocolate. It also enhances nervous and hormonal system function. Read Full Article

Top 10 Brain Foods that Help You Study and Get Better Grades

Have you been feeding your brain lately? If you’re looking to learn how to study more efficiently or improve your mental alertness in order to achieve better grades, you may have tried all kinds of different study techniques. But did you know that simply choosing foods that fuel the brain can have a significant effect on your academic performance?

It’s true—eating certain foods can improve your ability to focus, retain information, and remain mentally alert in order to get you through the most grueling of study sessions. Want to learn more? Read on for information about the top ten brain foods that not only fill your belly, but feed your brain as well, enabling you to get better grades.

1. Fish

How can eating fish lead to better grades? The answer lies in the high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids found in most fish. These fatty acids are essential to proper neural function. Most of our brain is made up of fatty tissue, so it makes sense that eating fish and other foods high in fatty acids would help us focus more and learn how to study more efficiently. According to several studies reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating fish regularly can also reduce your risk of dementia as you get older, another indication of its impact on brain health.

2. Nuts

Want to know how to study better? Go nuts! Like fish, many types of nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids that help your brain to perform optimally. As an added benefit, nuts contain a good amount of iron and also provide oxygen to the brain which increases your mental alertness and ability to retain information. A minimum of one ounce of nuts per day is recommended for optimal brain health. Since nuts are high in unsaturated fat (aka the “good” fat) and calories, they make great sources of energy as well. Sounds like a perfect recipe for better grades!

3. Whole Grains

Eating lots of refined carbs like white bread and pasta is not only bad for your physical health, but it also leads to sleepiness, lethargy, and mental dullness. Luckily, whole grains tend to have the opposite effect and can lead to enhanced memory function and even better grades. Chow down on whole grain breads, crackers, and pasta while you study for a quick energy boost.

4. Apples

Apparently, an apple a day not only keeps the doctor away, but can also help you improve your study habits and academic performance as well. The peel of the apple includes a powerful antioxidant called quercetin that enhances memory function. Combine your daily apple with a plan for how to study effectively, and you can look forward to receiving better grades on your next report card.

5. Cruciferous Vegetables

In case you’re a bit rusty on your vocabulary, “cruciferous” vegetables make up a family of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and bok choy. A long-term study conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed that these type vegetables had the most positive effect on memory retention, meaning they are the most likely to help you achieve better grades. Eating these vegetables raw is the best way to get the optimal nutritional benefit, since cooking them often cooks out the nutrients your body and your brain need most.

6. Dark Chocolate

Not just any variety will do, but a certain type of chocolate – dark chocolate – can feed the brain, not only by improving memory, but also by increasing blood flow to the brain, increasing alertness and clarity. The darker the chocolate, the more benefits your brain will receive.

7. Spinach

Spinach definitely doesn’t top the list of popular vegetables, but it does make the cut when it comes to foods proven to boost brain power, and that could mean better grades for you. Spinach is chock full of folic acid and has even been shown to reverse memory loss. If you don’t like the taste of this dark green stuff, you can always use it in a recipe such as a quiche or smoothie to mask the flavor.  Read Full Article

9 brain foods that will improve your focus and concentration

Food is the fuel that regulates your energy and mood, both of which can significantly affect your focus. Just as you shouldn’t put olive oil into your car to make it run, you shouldn’t put chocolate syrup into your body to make you run.1 Food has the incredible ability to affect your mental clarity, mood, memory, and ability to focus, so if you’re looking to boost your focus, one of the places you should start with is what you’re eating. Below are 9 foods that will help you improve your focus.

green tea1

Blueberries

Studies show that blueberries boost “concentration and memory” for up to five hours because “the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to [your] brain – and keep the mind fresh”.2 Blueberries also contain a “cocktail of anti-oxidants including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and tannins”, and while I’m not going to even pretend I know what those are, they have been shown to boost focus, and even protect against cancer, heart disease, and dimensia.3

2

Green tea

Green tea helps you focus for two reasons: one, it contains caffeine, and two, it contains l’theanine. There is no doubt that caffeine helps you focus and improves your alertness. Good. That’s covered. Well, what the hell is l’theanine? It’s an ingredient that’s been shown to “increase alpha-wave activity”, which increases tranquility and releases caffeine more slowly, instead of all at once, which can lead to you crashing.4 The two ingredients also combine to “produce a better ability to focus attention, with improvement of both speed and accuracy”.5 If you’re able to handle the caffeine content, introducing green tea into your diet is pretty much a no-brainer.

3

Avocados

According to WebMD, “every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain”, and avocados “[enhance] blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells”.6 Avocados are also “loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps keep hunger pangs at bay”.7

 

4Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain.8 (A good, general tip: the greener a leaf vegetable is, the better.) Leafy green vegetables are also full of B-vitamins, which are “proven to help your memory, focus, and overall brain health and power”. They also contain folic acid, which improves your mental clarity. Read Full article

15 Brain Foods to Boost Focus and Memory

What does the food you eat have to do with how your brain functions? Turns out an awful lot. While we’ve always known that what we eat affects our bodies and how we look, scientists are also learning more and more that what we eat takes a toll on our brains. Yes, brain foods matter (especially for our gray matter).

See, our bodies don’t like stress. Who does? When we’re stressed out — whether it’s physical, like someone jumps out at you from a dark alley, or mental, like you have a major project due at work — our bodies release inflammatory cytokines. (1)

These little chemicals prompt the immune system to kick in and fight back against the stress through inflammation, as though stress is an infection. While inflammation helps protect us against illnesses and repairs the body when you do something like cut yourself, chronic inflammation is a different animal. It’s been linked to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, anxiety, high blood pressure and more. (2)

But what does this all have to do with food? Our gut helps keep our body’s immune responses and inflammation under control. Additionally, gut hormones that enter the brain or are produced in the brain influence cognitive ability, like understanding and processing new information, staying focused on the task at hand and recognizing when we’re full. (3)

Plus, brain foods rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals provide energy and aid in protecting against brain diseases. So when we focus on giving our bodies whole, nutritious foods benefiting both the gut and the brain, we’re actually benefiting our minds and bodies while keeping them both in tip-top shape.

Of course, some foods are better for your brain than others. I’ve rounded up 15 brain foods you should be eating to feed both your mind and body. With a mix of fruits, veggies, oils and even chocolate (yes, chocolate!), there’s something to please everyone!

 

1. Avocados

This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of my all-time favorites. While avocados often get a bad rep because of their high fat content, it’s important to note that these green powerhouses are packed with monosaturated fats or the “good” kind, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing.

 

Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration.

They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. Not too shabby! Avocados’ creamy texture makes them a smart addition to smoothies and a replacement for fats in baked goods, or try these brain foods in one of these 50 amazing and easy avocado recipes.

Beets

2. Beets

It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers. That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat — they’ve even earned a spot on my healthy foods shopping list.

They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels. I love them roasted or in salads — try my sweet potato beet hash or beet and goat cheese salad for some creative new ways to eat this brain food.

 

3. Blueberries

Proving that great things do come in small packages, blueberries are a fruit I try to eat daily. That’s because they’ve got so many great health benefit ­while tasting like an all-natural candy!

For starters, it’s one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods known to man, including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress. Get your daily dose of brain berries in an Omega Blueberry Smoothie, Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes or in a Healthy Blueberry Cobbler. Read Full Article

So You Think You’re Eating Mindfully

Mindfulness is gaining traction as a way to improve personal health and wellness, to treat addictions, eating disorders and other mental illnesses, and even to enhance communication and creativity in major corporations. That’s good news. The not-so-good news is that, in all its trendiness, mindful eating has been misinterpreted and applied in questionable ways. Let’s sort through the hype and figure out what mindful eating really is—and is not.

Mindful eating is NOT a diet.

Diets involve deprivation and inevitably lead to weight gain rather than the intended weight loss. Mindful eating, by contrast, is about eating the foods you want and truly enjoying them. Put simply, mindful eating is the practice of awareness—both internally and externally in the environment—without criticism or judgment.

It involves chewing slowly, paying attention to your body’s cues, and taking in the textures, smells, and appearance of your food. You don’t have to ban all junk food or stop eating at restaurants—you just have to take a few moments to be aware of your experience. Rather than eating more, many people are surprised to find that the wisdom of their bodies naturally leads them to make more balanced food choices.  

Mindful eating IS an exercise in connection.

Most people know the fundamentals of healthy eating. So why do they eat foods that make them feel sick, or eat more than they really want? Because they’re disconnected from what their bodies need. In keeping with the high-speed pace of modern life, we eat faster and have more distractions while eating such as TV, work, driving or talking on the phone, which typically means that we eat more without ever feeling satisfied. Read More

Think Yourself Healthy, get motivated to work out!

Your powers of make-believe can help you control cravings, get motivated to work out, and even improve your vision, according to several recent studies.

“If you imagine an experience, the brain stimulates itself in the same way as if you were doing it,” says Joachim Vosgerau, co-director of the Center for Behavioral Decision Research at Carnegie Mellon University. Try these techniques to harness your mind’s superpowers.

To curb cravings

Distract yourself

In one study, volunteers were able to reduce food hankerings by imagining a rainbow or the smell of eucalyptus. Read More