Category Archives: Depression

Slip Me a Slug From The Wonderful Coffee Mug – Ahh Java!

Lots of us rely on our morning java to get us going and for some that is followed by numerous refills through the day
Lots of us rely on our morning java to get us going and for some that is followed by numerous refills through the day

For most people the question of whether coffee is good or bad for you is entirely irrelevant. Whatever the answer, it makes no difference to their coffee habit.

Lots of us rely on our morning java to get us going and for some that is followed by refills through the day. But caffeine is highly addictive and can lead to adrenal fatigue

Coffee serves lots of purposes for each individual – it can get you through depression or anxiety. But the caffeine it contains that provides the adrenaline rush, the temporary jolt,  also has a dark side, putting stress on your adrenal glands, increasing your stress hormones and leading to a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. When you drink lots of coffee the adrenaline rush initially makes you alert. But as it wears off cortisol builds up. When this cycle is repeated frequently it creates the same effect on your body as chronic stress.

Caffeine also contributes to fertility problems including increased miscarriage and infertility; triggers the secretion of stomach acids and causes heartburn; contributes to hypoglycemia, an imbalance of blood sugars; increases weight gain over the long term linked to the production of stress hormones; hastens osteoporosis because it interferes with mineral absorption in the bones; affects the normal detoxifying process in the liver; and causes dehydration which then can lead to many other problems including wrinkles and stretch marks. It can even contribute to gluten intolerance  or Coeliac disease.

It is interesting that the heaviest consumption of coffee occurs in regions that are overcast, drizzly or that lack sunshine for long periods and are generally dreary. Caffeine seems to help with depression initially by contributing to dopamine production, which in turn helps to lift our mood. But increased coffee consumption can then create the vicious circle that actually leads to depression.

Caffeine is present in some other foods also like chocolate, cola and tea but most caffeine in our diet comes from coffee. However it only makes up 1 – 2% of the coffee bean and it the other constituents that are now beginning to be researched for their effect on our health.

For some years coffee has been recognized as having some benefits as well as being harmful, and for a while the belief that to be healthy you needed to quit coffee eased somewhat. Caffeine can offer benefits to those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinsons disease. Research done 20-30 years ago discovered that there seems to be a relationship between coffee and diabetes – the more coffee drunk the lower the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

More recently however it has been found that the caffeine in coffee could be causing insulin spikes and contributing to hypoglycemia. Considering that insulin imbalance plays such a part in ‘diabesity’ which is such a big and rapidly growing problem in our society, the alarm bells are now ringing.

Coffee is a very acidifying food. Foods which cause an acidic reaction in the body are known to contribute to a wide range of problems quite apart from digestive upsets including arthritis and gout. Here is a checklist of 30 symptoms to find out if you are too acidic.

Caffeine is a diuretic, causing the body to release more fluid. This also results in an increased excretion and loss of high levels of minerals – calcium, magnesium and potassium. This becomes particularly significant in a country like Australia where the soils, and therefore foods grown in that soil, is very mineral deficient already.

With concern over these rapidly increasing health problems and given that so many people in the 21st Century are stressed, depressed, overworked, sick, nutritionally deficient, hormonally imbalanced and generally living with inflamed or toxic bodies, it seems that the time has arrived for many to kick their habit.

Caffeine is very addictive and when lots of coffee is combined with stress in your life then the addiction can take over. But, some people don’t actually want to even consider that there is a level of addiction, let alone kick it.

Quitting coffee can be very difficult and apart from leaving you feeling weak and tired can cause all sorts of side effects such as headache, fatigue, depression and difficulty concentrating, as anyone who has to forgo their normal fix knows very well.

The answer is not to turn to de-caf coffee, which is often subjected to some nasty toxins such as solvents in the decaffeinating process and still contains trace amounts of caffeine, but to turn to healthier alternatives – choose NO-CAF over DE-CAF.

In addition, caffeine withdrawal does not have to be so difficult and there are measures that can ease it. I regularly use Homeopathic remedies for my clients with great success to stop cravings for all manner of substances, including caffeine. Hypnotherapy and EFT are other successful strategies you can use to break addictive habits. Supplementing with the amino acids L-Tyrosine or Phenylalaline can also help – some people do better on one and some on the other.

When my clients are drinking lots of coffee and need to cut it back I encourage them to do it in steps. This might be to just drink one cup less a day at first gradually working down to one ‘high quality’ coffee treat on the weekend, or even better, no coffee. The easiest way to do this is to replace the coffee with alternatives.

If you would like to make the switch here are some much healthier alternatives.

Start out by replacing some of your coffees with these. Perhaps initially alternate a coffee with one or more from this list and gradually decrease the coffees and increase the alternatives.

DANDELION COFFEE – This is one I drink and enjoy. It has a strong, slightly bitter flavour, very similar to coffee but it contains no caffeine. It has an astonishing range of health benefits – it is nutrient rich, supports the liver and kidneys to remove impurities, aids digestion and decreases inflammation, plus much more. The root is roasted and you will often find it mixed with chicory root. I drink it black and unsweetened but you can mix it with milk and sugar. I prefer the pure dandelion root to the mixes but try both out. I also mix it half and half with coffee occasionally.

You can make your own dandelion coffee and a quick google search will yield lots of instructions. If harvesting your own plants make certain that it is true dandelion and not the very similar Catsear.

TEECHINO – gives the energy feel of caffeine but without the crash of caffeine. It tastes like coffee but is made of carob, barley, chicory, dates, figs and almonds. But, just take note that this contains gluten so don’t use Teechino if you are watching gluten in your diet.

YERBA MATE – (pronounced yerba matay) This is a herbal tea from South America. It doesn’t taste exactly like coffee but has a pleasant flavour of its own. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals. Like coffee it boosts energy and fights fatigue. It does contain caffeine but the levels are lower than in coffee or even tea. You can also find Yerba Mate in some herbal tea blends.

GREEN TEA – Green tea has small amounts of caffeine, about 20 grams a serve, but these are substantially less than in coffee. It has high levels of antioxidants that fight free radical damage, improves cardiovascular health, reduces the risk of cancer and helps with weight loss. By the way, your green tea needs to be green, if it is brown it has been oxidized.

WHITE TEA – even better than green tea is white tea which is less processed and retains a higher amount of antioxidants compared to green. It also has less caffeine than green, only 15 grams a serve, and is light and delicious.

ROOIBOS TEA – A pleasant full flavoured, slightly sweet and nutty tea from South Africa which like coffee, can be mixed with milk. It contains no caffeine and very little tannin. It is also rich in antioxidants and minerals. It is thought to reduce stress, irritability and headaches, the opposite of coffee, plus has many other health benefits as well as relieving many illnesses.

REISHI MUSHROOM TEA – This is one to take if you are determined to wipe the slate clean and it is certainly an acquired taste, but reishi mushroom is absolutely loaded with antioxidants, is a wonderful stimulant for the immune system, lowers blood pressure and is purported to have cancer fighting qualities. It requires long brewing and you may need to add ginger or to sweeten it.

Coffee is often touted as having health benefits but the simple truth is that coffee is not a health food. Like other drugs there are side effects to any benefit that it offers. There are much better, less risky ways to achieve any of the professed benefits of coffee consumption.

If in spite of everything, you are going to continue drinking coffee then consider the coffee you are drinking and choose the best options around.

  • Firstly, opt for Organic fair-Trade varieties. Coffee is notorious for its dangerous growing practices.
  • If your coffee is laden with milk you might want to think again. The latte drinks offered by Starbucks for example are high in kilojoules, sometimes as high as fattening desserts like ice-cream or chocolate cake that most people avoid, and those joules are all in the form of unhealthy fats.
  • The way the coffee is prepared also affects the caffeine levels in the cup. Espresso coffee contains less caffeine than drip coffee and also has the most antioxidants, but it is also the one linked to higher levels of Triglycerides and LDLs.
  • The amount of caffeine in light and dark roasts varies only slightly so which you use makes little difference

After all this bad news are you still reading?

If you are still with me then enjoy this video (I’m not sure why it isn’t displaying properly, but follow the link it will get you there).

Then let me know in the comments below what your favourite coffee alternative is.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pULXnVTRynY                 .

cup_coffee_cream_heart_2  

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/10-reasons-to-quit-coffee-plus-healthy-alternatives

http://www.naturalnews.com/036412_coffee_dopamine_caffeine.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/034335_Starbucks_nutrition_calories.html

Coffee – The Good and The Bad

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/food+diet/expert+opinion/white+tea+vs+green+tea,13045

http://www.mushroom-appreciation.com/mushroom-tea.html

http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/what_is_rooibos_tea

http://www.naturalnews.com/034058_coffee_health_effects.html

http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-end-your-coffee-addiction/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/14/Is-Drinking-Tea-or-Coffee-the-Smarter-Choice.aspx

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Is Your Life In Balance? Take The Quiz

If trying to maintain balance in your life makes you feel like a tightrope walker, you’re not alone. Most of us have so many demands on our time and energy life can feel like a three-ring circus.
Balance has become just another thing we desire but believe we can only have once we’ve  earned it, through overwork or overwhelm.

Is your life in balance

Finding balance across our life, whether it’s in work/life, caregiving/self care, routine/creativity or a host of other areas, can feel more and more out of reach and elusive with every passing day. Many people feel life just isn’t delivering all it promised. They can feel let down, unhappy and in some cases, even bitter.

But you can find balance right now. Once you make the decision that you’re worth it, you open yourself to the changes you need to make in your beliefs and practices to support you and allow you to once again find joy through the creation of balance.

 

True Or False?

Take this quiz to see how well you are meeting responsibilities while at the same time recognising and fulfilling your personal needs and wants.

How well do these statements match you…are they true for you or false?

1. The only way I can successfully manage my life is to take care of myself physically and emotionally.

2. Nurturing myself increases my capacity to help others.

3. I eat healthfully.

4. I exercise regularly.

5. I get check-ups, go to the dentist, and take preventative precautions to prevent illness.

6. I set aside personal, quiet time for myself, whether I’m meditating or simply letting my thoughts drift.

7. I experience the gifts of each season: walking in the rain, cosy fires, bundled-up beach walks; gardening, hiking, more time outside, smelling the roses; camping, swimming, barbeques, walking barefoot on the earth; harvesting the bounty, gathering wood, spending more time inside, walking in the mist.

8. Creativity nurtures me. I do what I love, whether that’s cooking, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing or any other creative pursuit.

9. Cleaning out the old makes way for the new. I recognise when things and attitudes no longer serve me and regularly declutter the old and outdated in my life for a lightness and clarity.

10. Reaching out to others enriches my life. I spend quality time with family and friends.

11. Contributing to the world provides connection and purpose, so I give my time, energy and experience where it is most useful.

12. I notice and heed the emotional signals that tell me I’m out of balance: irritability, overwhelm, resentment.

13. If I feel that I’m catching a cold, I realize I may have stressed my immune system with overdoing things, so I stop and take care of myself.

14. When I need or want to, I say no to requests for my time.

15. I acknowledge my successes, no matter how small. I give myself permission to feel proud of all my achievements.

16. I listen to and honor the requests my body makes for such things as a nap, a walk, green vegetables, hot soup, time out.

17. Gratitude practices build inner strength and resilience to help me bounce back from stress. I remind myself every day of just how fortunate I am and of all the bounty and wonderful people in my life.

18. If I have something planned for myself, I don’t just toss that aside when someone makes a request of me.

19. I’m busy, but I find time to do the things I want to do.

20. I’m happy. I regularly experience well-being, contentment, even joy.

If you answered false more often than true you may want to make changes in your life to support you. After all, burn-out often leads to serious health problems ranging from aches and pains, through adrenal fatigue to depression plus many, many more.

Even the smallest child knows the frustration of having no time for activities that make you feel alive, that fire your joy and passion, that nurture you so you feel needed and special. Don’t wait until sickness strikes to change your life practices for the better.

Take a close look at those questions to which you answered false. Is there a pattern? Is it just one area of your life that’s impacting on your wellbeing and sense of balance?  Do you have strong boundaries? Consider or meditate on how you can incorporate the message into your life. And please, don’t hesitate to call if you’d like to explore this issue further.

So go ahead…consider yourself!

How balanced are you? Take the quiz

Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Gratitude. Generosity. Growth.

Is your life happy? Do you remember to enjoy the small things in life? Do you express your gratitude every day?

In order to live a healthy happy life requires you to address all aspects of your life and surroundings. You need to go much further than just getting fit or changing what you eat. Obviously fitness and diet develop the physical body. But they also develop the mental and emotional bodies to a degree through the endorphins released through exercise, and by creating a better chemical balance in the brain through good food choices.

gratitude generosity growth

 

The mind-body connection is well recognized and it’s known your emotional state affects how healthy your body is.

Holistic growth involves changing and improving on all levels – spiritually as well as physically and mentally. It requires you to be constantly aware and willing to make changes in attitudes, to practice mindfulness, to cultivate gratitude and to open your heart with generosity.

To develop your spirituality you don’t need to follow a religion although you can if you prefer. But you do need to develop a close and meaningful relationship with your essential inner self. You could go and undertake something quite life-changing such as Vipassana to achieve this, but often it’s by simply looking at the things in your life differently that you create the biggest impact, and you can do this in small ways every day.

Becoming connected to the world directly around you in a positive and meaningful way can create a snowballing effect that leads to big changes within. By developing and practicing this you also show love and care for yourselves. You can do this by:

  • showing love and care for the Earth in your own neighbourhood
  • appreciating the small gestures of those you cross paths with
  • acknowledging when things fall into place smoothly
  • actually noticing what is going on around you

The Key

The key to achieving these grass root changes is in the cultivation of gratitude, which results in you becoming more generous, which then leads to personal awareness and growth. What a great chain of events!

Gratitude is a funny thing. We are all taught to say please and thank you but not often how to feel and express gratitude for our life.

I remember teaching this basic social grace to my son when he was 3 years old. As he and his little friend were exchanging Christmas gifts the boys were told to “shake hands” to show gratitude and thanks. They looked at each other bewildered for a moment and then both started shaking their hands wildly in the air around themselves.

But gratitude is not just about saying thank you for a gift (whether you like it or not). It’s about finding joy in the detail of your life and bringing the focus of your life back to the minutiae around you.

It’s about bringing an awareness of the continual flow of life and a development of a sense of your connection to all, within.

It’s about recognizing all the blessings that are a part of each day, the blessings that often get lost in the daily humdrum.

Gratitude’s about finding joy in the detail of your life.

Gratitude is about learning to find joy in the detail of your life
Gratitude’s about finding joy in the detail of life

 

Living In The Moment

When exactly is it we first become focused on “keeping your eye on the prize”? I see this as the single most important attitude that undermines the practice of gratitude. We spend our life focused on achieving the promotion, the dream house, cool car, we follow fashion which changes so fast we constantly need more new garments, we work towards the next holiday, beautiful jewelry and on and on and on.

We’re driven by never-ending striving for what we need to achieve and own, our eyes constantly focused on what’s up ahead, the big prize.

When we live with this focus we miss the life around us, the little details of our everyday life…we fail to ever live in the moment.

Living in the moment is what we’ve been told to do in order to know, understand and improve ourselves, but we’re never in the space to achieve it.

By cultivating gratitude and forcing yourself to bring your focus back from what you desire or want to achieve you start to notice the small things around you, and to find ways to give back to the earth as well as to the people in your life.

By cultivating gratitude you also cultivate generosity.

Gratitude Journal

One way to begin cultivating gratitude is to start a gratitude journal.

 

Like to know more about keeping a gratitude journal and the benefits of gratitude?

Continue reading…

 

 

 

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

 

Related articles

 

Adrenal Fatigue, Cortisol, and That Overwhelmed Feeling.

While everyone knows about adrenaline and the ‘fight or flight’ response, not so many know much about the hormone cortisol, the other stress hormone, and how it contributes to Adrenal Fatigue. Both adrenaline and cortisol are produced in the adrenal glands but each performs a very different role.

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Adrenalin is the hormone released when the body is in danger, It promotes quick reaction, throwing you into the best response to get you out of the dangerous situation. It is meant to be released, used quickly and then switched off.

Cortisol also plays a part in the stress response. It is essential for maintaining homeostasis in your body and actually regulates many of the changes in your body that are related to stress. It is released in high levels during periods of stress alongside adrenaline. As with adrenaline it is vital that the cortisol response then shuts off so levels can return to normal.

It is only when stress is ongoing and cortisol continues to be released into the body for prolonged periods that it becomes problematic. Under constant stress cortisol release never gets turned off and this has a negative effect on many body functions.

 

EVERYONE’S STRESSED

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle which is relentlessly stressful produces the perfect platform for the Stress Scenario.

Stress itself can be very addictive. It’s not uncommon for people to even be proud of the fact that they can juggle a high-power job, family and relationship on caffeine, nicotine and very little sleep. Often we actually applaud people who are able to do it all, and pull off the seemingly impossible.

But stress burns you out, it comes at a cost. And that cost is chronic illness. – diabetes, cancer, a whole gamut of autoimmune diseases, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or a host of others

When someone lives their life in a constant state of prolonged stress where stress hormones are continually released into the bloodstream, never getting switched off, further symptoms continue to develop until eventually the Adrenal glands themselves are affected.

Your adrenal glands simply can’t keep up with the amount of stress. They become overworked and can no longer match hormone production with demand. The production of cortisol plummets and that’s when Adrenal Fatigue kicks in. The Adrenal glands are no longer able to produce sufficient cortisol to release that extra boost of cortisol when an emergency situation arises.

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WHAT IS ADRENAL FATIGUE?

Adrenal Fatigue is the umbrella term for the group of symptoms caused by this deficiency.

The primary symptom of Adrenal Fatigue is fatigue that is not improved by sleep. Those who suffer with this syndrome wake feeling exhausted, drag their feet with tiredness all day, only to find they get a second wind and wake up right at the time they should be going to sleep at night.

You can read more about Adrenal Fatigue at “Are You Suffering From 21st Century Syndrome?”

 

YOU DON”T NEED TO BE ANXIOUS TO BE STRESSED

It’s really important to understand that stress does not just refer to a state of anxiety. Living with a feeling of overwhelm, insufficient or poor quality sleep, eating a poor diet, worrying (about anything), unhappiness, or living with pain, are all situations that create a state of stress within the cells of your body, without you ever feeling anxious at all.

Stressful experiences like the death of a loved one or a divorce, undergoing surgery, financial hardship or job stress, bullying, even negative thinking can create adrenal fatigue just as easily as poor diet, lack of exercise or pollution and environmental toxins.

Many, many people spend their entire life in this state, and so live with raised levels of cortisol in their body all the time.

 

THE EFFECTS OF CORTISOL IMBALANCE

The effects of a cortisol imbalance fall into two groups.

The first group of symptoms occurs when circulating cortisol levels are too high and happens during prolonged stress. The second group of symptoms occurs later, once the Adrenal glands are no longer able to produce enough cortisol and circulating levels have dropped significantly, as happens with Adrenal Fatigue.

The negative effects of higher levels of circulating cortisol:

Suppressed or weakened immune system
Raised blood pressure
Increased blood sugar levels
Impaired cognitive performance
Disrupted sleep
Hardening of the arteries
Increased fat storage, especially around the abdomen which is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels,
Lower growth hormone and testerone production
Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugars) and other blood sugar imbalances
Lowered thyroid function
Decreased bone density and osteoporosis
Muscle loss
Inhibited protein synthesis
Loss of collagen in the skin and inhibition of the formation of more
Depression

Long periods of raised cortisol levels can also damage the brain and memory, reducing the ability to learn.

The negative effects of lower levels of circulating cortisol:

Low energy
Brain fog, fuzzy-headedness
Mild depression
Blood sugar imbalances, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars)
Fatigue, especially in the morning
Disrupted sleep
Low blood pressure
Lowered immune function
Inflammation
Cravings for salty or sweet foods
Difficulty recovering from illness or stress
A feeling of being run down or unable to cope
Feeling awake and alert in the evening in spite of being tired all day
Body aches
Moodiness
Decreased libido
Increased allergies
Hair loss

Overworked Life Plan
Overworked Life Plan

 

SUPPLEMENTS FOR ADRENAL FATIGUE

Natural Health modalities can help speed up your journey back from Adrenal Fatigue, which can otherwise be slow. But if you are also deficient in simple vitamins and minerals you lack the basic building blocks your body requires to build your health. Consulting a Natural Health practitioner will provide you with the advice and treatment you need, and replacing some of the deficiencies will also help.

These are just some of the vitamins and minerals that Adrenal Fatigue sufferers tend to lack, although not every person will need all these. Your Natural Health Practitioner can guide you best.

B Vitamins

B5 contributes to cellular respiration and the breakdown of nutrients. Start with 100mg a day.
B6 helps create adrenal hormones. Take 50 mg a day to begin.
B12 helps with energy production, cell repair and red blood cell maintenance. Start with 100mcg a day.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant directly involved with the production of cortisol, and in addition offers many other benefits to your immune system and more. Start with 100mg of buffered Vitamin C a day and increase this gradually.

Probiotics

When Adrenal Fatigue affects the digestion, which it frequently does, probiotics play an important role as they contribute towards a better uptake of nutrients to assist the body on its healing journey.

Magnesium

As most of the population is thought to be deficient in magnesium supplementing is a great benefit. As well as causing depression and sleep problems deficiency can also lead to muscle cramps and stiffness. Start with 400mg a day.

There are a number of other supplements that I often like to include in the treatment of Adrenal Fatigue such as CoQ10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Spirulina (although it is not strictly a supplement) and the herb Tulsi (Holy Basil).

 

NATURAL THERAPY

 

In my clinic Homeopathic remedies and Herbal Essences help with recovery from Adrenal Fatigue. Both these forms of Natural Medicine are effective on their own without the use of additional supplements. Best sustained results occur when Homeopathic medicines are individually prescribed according to Homeopathic prescribing guidelines, by a qualified practitioner.

 

LIFESTYLE CHANGE

Lifestyle changes that help reduce the impact of Adrenal Fatigue are helpful.  After strenuous exercise you often get an initial burst of energy but then crash with adrenal fatigue.  Walking, yoga, meditation, tai chai, and qi gong are all gentle forms of exercise that won’t result in you crashing.

Controlled breathing exercises and techniques are excellent and can be done through the day wherever you happen to be.

Modifying your sleep preparation rituals can help reduce insomnia and the impact caused by adrenal fatigue, to improve your sleep.

 

EATING FOR ADRENAL FATIGUE

 

Help support your recovery by reducing sugars, caffeine, and alcohol at the very least.

If you must drink coffee or cola do it in the morning and then steer clear of it through the day as it interferes with sleep and adrenal recovery.

Watch for hidden sugars and replace sugar with stevia where you can

Alcohol contains sugar and creates a boost and crash scenario, interfering with the sleep cycle and causing insomnia later in the night.

Hydrogenated oils lead to adrenal inflammation, Use good fats like coconut oil instead.

Processed foods or microwave foods contain many difficult to digest preservatives and fillers.

 

Have you experienced Adrenal Fatigue? Leave a reply below.

For more information and advice about how best to treat your symptoms contact your Natural Medicine Practitioner.

 

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Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

 

Source Articles

http://www.psychologicalharassment.com/stress-and-stress-management.htm
http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/cortisol-adrenal-function

 

Food Intolerance – The Lowdown. Are Food Intolerances Leaving You Washed-Up?

The number of people recognizing they have one or more food intolerances have been rising dramatically over the last decade, with more and more people becoming aware that they have problems with certain foods. Many more are not willing to even entertain the possibility that food intolerance may be causing their symptoms.

Food Intolerance
The reality is that as the body demonstrates an adverse response after they eat particular foods more and more people are becoming aware that they have problems with certain foods.

Many people live with the debilitating symptoms of food intolerance for years without anyone being able to diagnose their problems. In spite of extensive testing nobody seems able to help them. Often it is only after eliminating a particular food from their diet that they discover where their problems come from, and the extent of damage that food is causing to their body.

 

FOOD INTOLERANCE OR FOOD ALLERGY

For many the distinction between allergy, intolerance and sensitivity is not clear, but they are actually very different.

Food intolerances involve a completely different response by the body to food allergies. In food allergy the immune system identifies an ingredient as harmful and reacts by creating antibodies. Read more about allergies here.

Food intolerance is limited to the digestive system and occurs when food is not properly digested and ferments inside the gut. Where this gets confusing is that digestive dysfunction often causes dysfunction in other parts of the body and so symptoms from intolerance can appear throughout the body even though they arise from the gut. They can be quite diverse ranging from depression to weight gain, chronic fatigue, eczema, thrush and many more.

Food sensitivity is a delayed food allergy and can be particularly difficult to recognize. These are the least predictable reactions because you may be able to eat a food sometimes with no consequences but at other times develop symptoms like nausea, cramps or reflux. Fructose malabsorption is an example of a sensitivity.

While food allergies are more common amongst children, food intolerances are more prevalent in adults, partly due to stress, alcohol, the use of various medications which all compromise the digestive system, as well as to the decrease in digestive enzyme production as you age.

The onset of problems caused by food intolerance and sensitivity is generally not as rapid as that of allergy. Reaction can occur from about thirty minutes to even a few days after the food was eaten.

Where food allergies can produce fatal anaphylactic responses, food intolerances are not life-threatening, but they can lead to many chronic diseases such as thyroid disease, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.

Many of those with food intolerance are actually able to eat small amounts of an offending food without too much problem. Dairy foods are a good example of this. According to the Food Intolerance Institute of Australia, in December 2013 75% of the population were intolerant to dairy foods like milk, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream, and most of these people were completely unaware of it.

Often it is the very foods that are not tolerated well by the body that are the foods that you crave the most. Nobody really knows why we crave foods we do not tolerate although there are a number of theories. As a good rule of thumb any food that is regularly craved should be treated as suspicious.

It can take some time before a person is willing to accept that they may have food intolerance. For many it is not until their symptoms become unbearable that they will even consider the possibility. This may be more so if the food is also one they crave.

 

INTOLERANCES CAN SUDDENLY APPEAR AS AN ADULT

It is not uncommon for there to be no apparent problem with foods during childhood and for symptoms to appear as an adult. Typically, but not always, lactose intolerance symptoms appear in adulthood.

The most common food intolerances are dairy, gluten, wheat, additives, fructose, yeast, although many other foods including alcohol can be the culprit. Sometimes it will be a whole food group that is the problem, such as the dairy group or nightshade foods (potato, tomato, capsicum, eggplant, chilli), or just single foods from different food groups.

Generally avoiding a food that is not tolerated allows the digestive system a chance to heal from constant irritation and the person quickly recovers, feeling happier, more energetic and able to live their life fully.

food tree-157673_640

 

SOME CAUSES OF FOOD INTOLERANCE

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

This is a chicken and egg situation…does the IBS cause food intolerance or does constant irritation and inflammation of the gut from food intolerance cause IBS? The symptoms are constipation, urgent diarhoea, and cramping.

Food Additives

Many additives including sulfites found in dried fruits, wines and the salads from salad bars, cause asthmatic reactions in many people. Additives are often a big contributor to ADHD and result in a wide range of symptoms including migraines.

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is interesting as it is actually a gluten intolerance which resembles an allergy, because the immune system is involved as well as the gut. The symptoms are mostly digestive but can lead to many other symptoms through the body.

Specific Foods Or Food Groups

Certain foods, particularly dairy foods (milk, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, cream) and grains containing gluten (wheat, spelt, barley, rye and oats) are often the most poorly tolerated. There are many other foods over a wide range of food groups that also cause symptoms of intolerance.

Enzyme Deficiency

Different enzymes are needed to digest particular foods. If production of any one enzyme is deficient, then the food it breaks down is not tolerated.

Processed Food

The processing of foods particularly grains, milk and soy products seems to play a part in food intolerance as the process makes the foods difficult to digest, leading to irritation of the digestive tract and a whole range of symptoms.

 

IDENTIFYING FOOD INTOLERANCE CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT

Often the symptoms of intolerance are very mild and so go unnoticed. Or, because of the time delay between when the food is eaten and when the symptoms occur, they are not connected with any particular food, or are attributed to a completely different cause.

When the problem is with a food that you eat every day, or even many times a day, it becomes virtually impossible to make the connection between the health problem and the food, unless the food is totally removed from the diet for a period of time, whereupon the symptoms improve or disappear.

If you have intolerance to more than one food it makes it extremely difficult to isolate all the foods or food groups that may be responsible for their unpleasant symptoms. Removing just one food only gives partial improvement at best.

Frequently it can take some time, even days, for the negative response to become evident. Given that you will have eaten a number of different foods in the intervening time it becomes virtually impossible to isolate the culprit.

 

SYMPTOMS OF FOOD INTOLERANCE

Symptoms caused by food intolerance can be mild or severe, specific or vague. If you suffer from persistent symptoms, or ones that recur more than twice a week, and they are not caused by another condition, you could suspect you are not tolerating one or more foods.

  • Bloating after meals or in the evening
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Eczema, skin problems
  • Asthma or cough
  • Nasal congestion, sinus pain, nasal discharge
  • Chronic diarrhea, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation
  • Belching after meals, indigestion, abdominal pain
  • Muscular pain or weakness, generalized aching, back pain
  • Stiff, swollen or painful joints
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Poor concentration, memory loss
  • Depression
  • Repeated Urinary Tract Infections
  • Candida or thrush, vaginal irritations
  • ADHD
  • Food cravings
  • Low or no energy, tiredness and drowsiness
  • Poor balance, dizziness
  • Weight gain
  • Autoimmune disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Psoriasis

Bloated green man

 

GETTING ANSWERS

Keeping a food diary can help you identify problem foods. Over the course of two to three weeks record every single food or drink you eat as well as any symptom that occurs. By looking at the list of food intolerance symptoms it is obvious that it is very easy to miss symptoms, as well as difficult to make the link with the offending food.

If a certain symptom always occurs after eating a particular food you can recognize which food seems to be the culprit. Then it is necessary to totally avoid that food for about ten days and to see how you feel. If that food is a basic like gluten, wheat or dairy it is essential to read every label, as these foods all occur in many processed foods and are not always obvious because they may be listed under many different names.

It can be quite difficult to conduct an elimination diet on your own and is much easier under the care of a Natural Health Practitioner.

TESTING FOR FOOD INTOLERANCE

Testing, such as the Scratch Test, is normally conducted to detect allergies and it measures the response of IgE anti-bodies, that is, the response of the immune system. It detects a true immediate allergy.

Because food intolerance involves a different and delayed response a Scratch Test will not pick this up. Many people are left confused after a Scratch Test when they get negative results for foods they felt sure were problematic. Often they have an intolerance rather than an allergy.

While blood spot tests used to test for food intolerance check for specific anti-bodies to specific foods, they are not always definitive, as many people react with foods in which the antibodies do not show up on the test. When this occurs eliminating the suspected food and noting the response, can be a way to identify whether the food is a problem or not.

I conduct testing in my work (no, not a Vega machine) which indicates whether your various body systems respond negatively to a food. While it does not distinguish between allergy and intolerance it does identify problem foods. Usually the person is sensitive to a number of foods, not just a single food. I find that if the foods indicated as being a bigger problem are totally removed, the other foods are usually better tolerated, as long as you do not overindulge.

BEWARE HIDDEN DANGERS!

Wheat, soy, corn and dairy, are foods frequently found to cause reactions and are ones that are commonly added to many other products. In processed foods they are often not simply called milk or wheat, but go by a vast array of pseudonyms. Go Dairy Free provides a list of other names for milk proteins. Wheat-Free.org lists alternative names for wheat in foods. To actually stop eating the offending food, at least for long enough to allow your digestive system to repair, you need to be quite vigilant about avoiding it in ALL foods, including where it may be hidden.

The length of time you need to avoid the food depends on how bad your reaction was. It may take six months of total avoidance and then only very occasional exposure to keep you healthy.

But, most people don’t miss the problem food after it has been removed for about a month as they feel so much better, and as the chemical process that sets up cravings for problem foods is broken they no longer even want to eat the food.

food intolerance 20387733_s

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only. They are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

Source Articles
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/faq-20058538
http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/weight+loss/diets/do+i+have+a+food+intolerancer,18769
http://nourishholisticnutrition.com/could-hidden-food-intolerances-be-sabotaging-your-health/

Hidden Dairy: Foods, Medication, and Beyond

http://www.customfitnutrition.net/allergy.html
http://www.ift.org/knowledge-center/learn-about-food-science/food-facts/food-allergens.aspx

6 Natural Remedies For Depression

natural remedies for depression

Along with the outpouring of sorrow that occurred this week with the news of the death of Robin Williams there has also been much discussion about depression – the nature of the illness, reminders to offer our support to those suffering with it, of ways to deal with it.

Clinical depression is a serious illness that needs treatment from a professional western or alternative health practitioner. However many of the symptoms of mild depression can be helped significantly by a variety of natural treatments that you can do for yourself or which a Natural Health practitioner can take you through.

There are many symptoms associated with mild or subthreshold depression including ongoing fatigue, poor sleep, appetite irregularities such as lack of appetite or comfort eating, a lack of interest in relationships events or celebrations, low self-esteem, anxiety, an inability to find motivation, or a feeling of being cut-off from life.

 

1. MINDSET

There have been studies done that confirm that a persons perception of life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. While depression is not all in the mind your frame of mind is really important for recovery. I am not suggesting you can just ‘snap out of it’. But, while acknowledging that there is something wrong, losing the depression label is a first stepto recovery.

When you buy into defining yourself with a label placed on you by someone else, whether it is a doctor, family or a friend, you relinquish your personal power and undermine your ability to get well. If you allow your thoughts to focus on the label, you accept for yourself the role of someone who is mentally unwell. It may seem simplistic but changing your mindset and making the decision to overcome your illness is the first step that allows you to move forward.

One way to do this is to carefully examine how you are affected by the people you mix with. Tuning into how you feel after spending time with a particular person allows you to sort out any that may be contributing to your low feelings. If you regularly feel disheartened after time spent with anyone it is better for your frame of mind and wellbeing to minimize time with that person.

What your feelings tell you about your relationships with others can come as a real surprise. But acting in congruence with your feelings can turn around your mindset, lift your mood and support you in getting well.

It is also worth asking yourself if your low feelings are linked to your life. Are you expected to sell out your integrity in your work? Are there problems in a relationship that you may need to end? Do you have creative outlets? Feel spiritually disconnected? Is your body restricting you?

Being honest with yourself may help you find the source of your depression. Sometimes having a counselor, psychologist or life coach to help you work through these and define a pathway to change makes things easier to achieve.

 

Learn how to choose the best Homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses

 

 2. HOMEOPATHY

Many natural therapies have a good record with alleviating the symptoms of depression. Acupuncture, herbal therapy and EFT are just a few.

Homeopathy also offers many options for depression. The Homeopathic remedy used depends on the particular symptoms you experience, as everyone’s experience of depression varies slightly, in both the expression and the emotions and thoughts and experiences behind it.

Homeopathy taken in accordance with homeopathic prescribing principles is particularly good at changing your mindset. It allows you to lift your head out of the depressive thoughts and start to move forward.

There are many Homeopathic remedies for depression. One of the first to consider for depression with obvious anxiety is Arsenicum album. These people are often quite particular about describing every little detail of their symptoms. They are often very worried that an illness has been missed and have often undertaken lots of investigative tests.

Another commonly used remedy, Ignatia, is a good remedy when depression follows bereavement or shock. These people are very emotional with lots of sudden mood swings and sudden tears or they may frequently sigh deeply. They don’t want sympathy and often take well meant help as criticism.

A person needing Natrum muriaticum responds differently to grief as does one needing Ignatia. This person builds a barrier and won’t release any emotion through crying. They hate sympathy from others although they are empathetic themselves and will readily care for others. They can be very sensitive and easily move into a lower mood from stimuli such as music.

As you can see Homeopathic prescribing is quite particular and individually selected. Two people may react to a similar experience in very different ways and so require very different remedies. There is also the potential to make symptoms worse if the wrong remedy or potency of remedy is taken. Consulting a Homeopath who can match the correct remedy to your particular symptoms can result in significant improvement.

 

3. FOOD

Food most definitely affects our mood. What we eat and when we eat can have a huge effect. Staying away from caffeine, sugar, fatty foods and alcohol is a great place to begin as these foods actually make depression worse. Don’t keep them in your pantry and you will be less tempted by them. You will feel a lot better if you simply don’t eat them.

Replacing the poor junk foods with nutritious foods moves you towards recovery faster. The top foods to fight depression are:

  • Omega-3 is often lacking in depressed people so eating oily fish and other foods high in omega-3 can make a significant difference. One study showed taking just 1 gm of fish oil a day made a 50% difference in symptoms of depression. Take between 1-3 gm a day. Other omega-3 rich foods include walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Brown rice is rich in B vitamins as well as trace minerals. Brown rice is great for reducing mood swings due to sugar-highs and lows. Don’t use ‘quick-cook’ varieties as they don’t have the same benefits.
  • Leafy greens are a great source of folic acid, one of the B vitamins helpful for symptoms of depression, as well as magnesium.
  • Bananas are high in tryptophan which is used in the body to make serotonin, the happy hormone. Other foods to enhance serotonin are healthy fats like coconut oil, protein rich foods especially free range turkey and wild caught fish high in omega-3.
  • Don’t skip meals and help keep your blood sugars stable.

depression2

4. SUPPLEMENTS

  • Many people actually suffer from a disorder known as Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) which is the result of insufficient exposure to sunlight and as a result, they have low Vitamin D levels. This disorder becomes worse as winter progresses and can persist through Spring until levels of Vitamin D build up in their body again. Taking Vitamin D as a supplement through the winter months can dramatically help SAD sufferers. Consult an Alternative Health Practitioner who will work out how much Vitamin D you actually need, it varies from one person to the next.
  • The B Vitamins are linked to a whole range of emotional disorders and if your levels are low taking a supplement can be a great way to keep your spirits up. Take 50 mg of a Vitamin B complex each day rather than individual B Vitamins as each one works better when the others are all present.
  • Magnesium deficiency can be another factor behind depression and mood disorders and there are many who have a deficiency of this crucial mineral.
  • SAMe can be very effective for treating depression. Take 200 gm on an empty stomach.
  • The herb St John’s Wort has long been used for depression. Check with your doctor before using as it can interfere with some pharmaceuticals. Don’t take this if you are taking anti-depressants

 

5. LIFESTYLE

Getting enough exercise is essential to beat depression, no matter how little you feel like it. Pushing yourself to get out for a walk will help improve your spirits. Even exercising along with a DVD in your living room is good.

The effect of meditation on depression has been well-documented and it is known to greatly improve the symptoms. There are many different ways to meditate from simple breathing techniques LINK that you can do in just a few minutes, through guided visualizations, walking meditations, mindfulness LINK and binaural beats. It is all a matter of working out which is the right one for you.

 

6. HORMONES

It may be there is a physical cause for your depression. If your hormones are out of balance your mood will be hugely affected. Finding out your levels of thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones are wrong can offer some clues. Armed with the results, visit your natural health practitioner who can then work toward rebalancing your hormones naturally without resorting to pharmaceutical medicines.

Moving yourself out of mild depression requires a combination of strategies. Making lifestyle changes, dietary changes, examining your relationships and your behaviours all play a part. Seeking out professional help to put these strategies together to achieve the balance you need to move forward can set you on the path to recovery faster.

active-84646_640

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site.

 

 

Source articles
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/owning-pink/201103/11-natural-treatments-depression-md-s-tips-skipping-the-prozac
http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/bha-charity/how-we-can-help/conditions-a-z/beating-the-blues/
http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health+advice/treating+depression,7821

 

Iodine: Have You Overlooked This Essential Micronutrient?

oyster

One essential trace element that not many people ever think about is iodine. It is essential to many of the functions of your body. But many Australians are deficient in iodine. And not just Australians, as in fact it is thought that up to 40% of the world population is getting insufficient iodine.

Iodine can be found throughout the organs of your body. Highest concentrations occur in the thyroid gland and it is also found in the ovaries, skin, saliva, breasts and gastric glands although it can be detected in every organ and tissue.

In the thyroid gland, iodine along with the minerals zinc and selenium is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, particularly thyroxin. These thyroid hormones directly control the body’s metabolic processes, which in turn have significant influence on many of the body’s organs and processes including heart rate and blood pressure.

When iodine levels are too low the thyroid is unable to produce sufficient levels of hormones and you start to experience a range of symptoms such as lethargy, sleepiness, depression, intolerance to cold, dry skin, slow digestion, goiter, weight gain and slower mental faculties.

Goiter
Goiter

 

Health Benefits

Iodine has so many health benefits and iodine deficiency has been linked to goiter, hypothyroidism, obesity, cognitive impairment, heart disease, psychiatric disorders and cancer. It also causes impaired mental and physical development.

Iodine helps prevent the storage of excess calories as fat, assists in the removal of toxins and aids in the utilization of other minerals. It strengthens the immune system and maintains healthy tissues throughout the body.

Addressing iodine deficiencies has been found to very effective in the treatment of goiter, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

sushi-275054_640

 

Food Sources Of Iodine

As it became apparent that more and more people were suffering from an iodine deficiency, an attempt to address the growing problem was made by fortifying a certain range of foods with iodine, including basics like bread and milk. Since 2009 iodine has been added to bread, and prepackaged bread required to list iodised salt as an ingredient.

Although iodine it is a fairly rare mineral it is present in a number of foods. The best sources are marine plants such as spirulina, seaweed like kelp, nori, dulse or kombu and shellfish. Make sure that any produce from the sea is harvested from uncominated waters.

While iodine is found in abundance in the sea it is not as prevalent in soil, and due to the toll that modern farming practices have taken means that most soils contain extremely low levels of iodine, along with many other minerals vital to good health. This transfers to low levels of iodine in crop foods. Unfortunately, the amount of iodine found in foods is completely dependent on the amount there is in the soil

Baked potatoes are a great source of iodine. Some other vegetarian sources are eggs, milk, garlic, lima beans, swiss chard, sesame seeds, soybeans, turnip greens and spinach.

Prior to the 1970’s milk was one of the foods that contributed most iodine to the diet but since the 1990’s the amount present in milk has dropped to about half due to changes in dairy processing practices.

Iodised salt was one food that provided many with daily iodine. But with firstly the awareness of the relationship between high salt intake and hypertension, and now a growing awareness of the problems with all highly processed foods including salt, consumption of this source of iodine has dropped off significantly.

If you are trying to avoid conventional salt you could replace it with Himalayan Salt in moderation, which is a viable alternative. Half a gram contains 250 micrograms, 150% of what the body requires each day.

To combat iodine deficiency dried seaweed is the food to head for. Just seven grams supplies 4,500 micrograms of iodine – 3000% of your daily requirement. Rather than having this much at one meal eat smaller quantities more frequently to maintain a regular supply.

Food                                               Iodine content (µg* per 100g)

Oysters                                                                        160
Cod                                                                                99
Sushi (containing seaweed)                                   92
Tinned salmon                                                            60
Bread (made with iodised salt)                            46
Steamed snapper                                                     40
Prawn                                                                             35
Baked turkey breast                                               34
Navy beans (1/2 cup)                                               32
Plain yoghurt                                                             31
Baked potato (1/2 medium)                                 30
Boiled eggs (2)                                                          24
Cheddar cheese                                                      23
Eggs                                                                              22
Ice cream                                                                    21
Chocolate milk                                                         20
Tuna, canned                                                              18
Canned corn                                                               17
Flavoured Yoghurt                                                   16
Regular milk                                                                13
Tinned tuna                                                                 10
Strawberries                                                               10
Bread (without iodised salt)                                  3
Beef, pork, lamb                                                         <1.5
Tap water (varies depending on site)                0.5-20.0
Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas                      <0.5
* micrograms
Source: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/iodine-facts

Don’t forget that you may eat substantially less than 100grams of some of these foods so you need to consider just how much iodine there actually is in the food you are eating.

Seaweed Salad
Seaweed Salad

 

How Inadequate Iodine Intake Affects You

Perhaps the most obvious, but least dangerous manifestation of iodine deficiency is goiter, a swelling of the thyroid gland which manifests as a swelling in the neck and around the larynx. Treating goiter with iodine during the first five years usually ensures that the thyroid does not suffer permanent damage.

It is well known that micronutrient deficiencies are known to affect the development of intelligence and iodine deficiency can certainly be included as one. Inadequate iodine has a significant effect on cognitive function, affecting memory.

Although iodine is recognized as a major requirement for thyroid health, it also plays other important functions including boosting the immune system, by increasing antioxidant activity.

Iodine is widely used to treat fibrocystic breast disease. It has been shown in studies to shrink caner cells when injected directly into the cells. It is essential in the prevention of thyroid cancer. It assists with flushing out chemical toxins including fluoride, lead and mercury.

Deficiency in children not only causes lower IQ but also creates issues with learning and concentration. It can be an ongoing issue when intake is too low.

 

Iodine is Required for Reproductive Health

Iodine offers lots of assistance to the reproductive organs. Sufficient levels are crucial to ensure fertility initially, as well as during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage or stillbirth, and to prevent neorologic and cognitive conditions in the baby. Severe deficiency during the pregnancy can lead to the following problems:

  • Miscarriage during the first trimester, or stillbirth
  • Gestational hytertension
  • Birth deformities
  • Neurological defects in the baby causing irreversible brain damage – cretinism, intellectual difficulties, hearing    loss and speech difficulties, short stature, deaf mutism, dwarfism

Iodine passes into the breast milk in large quantities and nursing mothers need to maintain their intake of iodine in order to prevent iodine deficiency themselves.

 

What Can Cause Iodine Deficiency?

There are a number of factors that can lead to iodine deficiency including:

Low amounts of iodine in the diet

  • Selenium deficiency
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation exposure
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Oral contraceptives

 

Some Deficiency Clues

Here are some symptoms that could provide the clue that you are not getting enough iodine. If you suffer from these symptoms consult your health care practitioner:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin, reduced sweating
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced alertness, poor perception, lowered IQ
  • Fibromyalgia, pain, fibrosis
  • Scar tissue, nodules
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Abnormal weight gain
  • Reduced fertility
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

 

 

A word of caution if you live in an area where fluoride is added to the water supply. There have been studies which question the validity of fluoridation of drinking water because there is a link between excess fluoride ingestion and thyroid disease. The incidence increased where water was fluoridated as the fluoride inhibits the action of the iodine. It may be something worth thinking about if this applies to you.

Iodine supplementation is one place where you can get too much of a good thing. There are potential risks to taking too much iodine. Doses over 2,000mg a day are dangerous especially if you have kidney ailments. Too much can easily lead to subclinical hypothyroidism – ironic when you consider that hypothyroidism is often linked to iodine deficiency. Sourcing iodine from foods may be preferable to taking supplements.

Iodine is certainly one supplement where you need to make sure you achieve a healthy balance. 

 

Kelp is a rich source of iodine
Kelp is a rich source of iodine

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatments suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

Source articles

http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iodine.htm
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/29/iodine-deficiency-risk.aspx
http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/minerals/health-benefits-of-iodine.html
https://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/oct2011_The-Silent-Epidemic-of-Iodine-Deficiency_01.htm
http://bembu.com/iodine-rich-foods

 

 

Stressed? Relax The Natural Way

dear stress1

Stress has become such a permanent part of people’s lives that many stressors are now considered a normal part of everyday life, or regarded as a necessary evil of modern life.

The world, and our place in it, has developed at an alarming pace. Although we’re still adapting to the world, it’s at a much, much slower rate. Our bodies and reactions are completely out of synch with our world. Our brains tell us stress is just part of living a modern life, but our bodies tell us the opposite. 

Ongoing chronic stress is now considered the number one hurdle to good health.

Stressors can be physical, such as illness or violence, extreme heat or even noisy neighbours. They can be caused by lifestyle practices, such as work stress, alcohol abuse or poor sleep habits. Or the stressors can be emotional, originating in your mind. These can be the most complex and lead to the greatest impact.

Stress can have many widespread effects on the body. Sometimes anxiety develops as a result of ongoing stress. But the effects of even low-grade stress are significant:

  • Blood pressure increases
  • Muscles tense up
  • Breathing rate increases
  • Heart rate increases
  • Brain waves slow down

Of course these are all signs of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response kicking into action. This is fine in the short term but detrimental to your health when they are ongoing.

When stress is ongoing it leads to widespread problems through the whole body.

  • Weight Gain – Stress alters the way fat’s distributed in the body, depositing it around the midriff where it poses the most danger to health.
  • Faster AgeingA study from the University of California found chronically stressed mothers aged faster. Another study linked prenatal exposure to the mothers stress to accelerated ageing in the child.
  • Affects Brain Cells – A Stanford University study found brain cells shrink in the chronically stressed.
  • Serious Disease – Stress is known to increase free radicals incidence which leads to the development of serious chronic disease.

RECOGNISING STRESS

While anxiety is often the effect of stress, not everyone who’s stressed is anxious. People who suffer from stress often appear calm. So it’s worth learning to recognize other body cues that occur when you’re stressed. If you learn to notice and recognize the signs in your body you can take steps to reverse them.

Do you recognize or experience any of these signs that you are under stress?

  • Your neck gets tight and stiff and you develop a tension headache at the base of your skull.
  • Your shoulders and back tighten.
  • Your chest wall feels constricted. If you cross your arms to compensate it simply further constricts your breathing.
  • You get a feeling of a tight ball or knot in your belly.
  • Your jaw clenches, your forehead tightens, as do your lips.
  • Your fingers feel tight, your hands clench.
  • People looking at you can easily see your stress – your shoulders hunch, your head bows, your face is clenched and you may even seem to be wearing a defeated air.

signs of stress and how to reduce stress

You may even experience some more serious problems which include palpitations, stomach upsets, sleep problems, impotence, reduced sex drive, raised blood pressure or a stroke or heart attack.

Perhaps most importantly, stress has been shown to lead to an increase in free radicals throughout your body. Free radicals lead to inflammation and are now seen as the forerunner of serious chronic and autoimmune diseases such as cancer, SLE lupus, other autoimmune disorders, ageing, cataract, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

 

YOUR DE-STRESS TOOL KIT

While it can be virtually impossible to eliminate many ongoing, underlying stresses from your life, adopting some simple techniques to use in times of increased stress can help you feel better in moments. When you take steps to reduce your stress response you also create an immediate effect on the stress hormones released through your body. Having a few tools suitable for crisis control can restore your sense of wellbeing and help you cope in difficult situations.

Being able to reduce stress and anxiety without having to fall back on medications will help build your health in the long term.

Some techniques will work better for you than others and so it is worth searching out those that you find most effective. Try any technique you come across, even the esoteric ones, you can never be certain which will work for you. Allow them all the benefit of the doubt and give them a fair try. It is likely you will need to combine more than one technique, so be on the watch for any improvement and don’t reject anything if it is only partially helpful, it will still be making some difference.

Learn the technique before you are caught in a difficult situation. Memorise it and  practice it – you need to be able to use the skills automatically. Most important, don’t give up – stress can make you restless and inclined to not stick it out.

There are many ways to manage the symptoms of stress. Acupressure, massage and diet are some of the better known. Flower essences and homeopathic remedies are excellent and very effective. Herbals are available in many forms. But there are also certain simple techniques and practices that you can do wherever you happen to be, right in the moment you need help.

SIMPLE TECHNIQUES TO USE

Relax

Often when your muscles are tense you are not even aware of it. Relaxing is a very basic and simple technique which will not only help you to release the tension, it will also bring you awareness of the state of your muscles.

Sit, stand or lie. Tense up one set of muscles in your leg or arms as tight as you can. (You can even start with just your toe muscles to be more effective). Then let them go so they are quite limp. The contrast between the two states will show you what ‘relaxed’ actually feels like. Concentrate on that feeling as you then tense and relax the other muscle groups in your body – your toes, feet, legs, buttocks, back, abdomen, hands, arms right through to your head. Pay particular attention to your jaw and forehead.

Breathe  

Ninety percent of people breathe inefficiently.

Before you begin, reassure yourself that consciously controlling your breathing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to control anxiety and stressful feelings, and to diminish the effect of stress on your body.

Find somewhere quiet, clear your mind and start breathing deeply into your abdomen. Place your hand on your belly, you should feel it rise and fall. Breathe slowly and don’t raise your shoulders.

If you struggle, breathe as you count backwards from fifty. Breathe in on ‘fifty’, out on forty-nine and so on. Keeping your mind focused on synchronizing your breath with the numbers slows down your breathing and forces you to breathe deeper.

You can read more about the technique of deep breathing, and learn how to make effective breathing a normal, unconscious part of your life here – “Mastering The Breath Of Life”.

 

image: Shawn Rossi
image: Shawn Rossi

Smile

Frowning triggers the release of stress hormones and smiling decreases them. In addition, smiling causes the release of endorphins, the chemicals that make you feel ‘oh-so-good’.

Stretch

Simple but very calming! Do it as slowly and gracefully as you can. There are three co-ordinated actions involved:

  • Controlling your breath
  • Raising your hands and arms
  • Stretching your whole body from toes to fingertips

Stand. Let your arms, wrist and fingers go limp. Bend your knees slightly, entwine your hands loosely and turn your palms upward.

Slowly breathe in. Raise your hands towards your mouth and start to straighten your legs.

Slowly breathe out, turn your palms outward and stretch your body. Slowly exhale totally, reach your arms up, face your palms to the ceiling. Stand on your toes.

Now reverse the action

Repeat at least five times, slowly. Take a few minutes afterwards to relax and do nothing.

Affirm

Your subconscious is a powerful force. Affirmations tap into your subconscious and are extremely effective if they are worded well and are used routinely. Given the impact and complexity of emotional stresses, affirmations are a useful tool because your subconscious cannot tell the difference between what is real or what is not, it only knows and directs according to what you tell it. If your thoughts are always that you can’t cope or you have no money, that’s what your subconscious believes and will direct accordingly.

The exact words you use form your affirmations are very important and can make or break the effectiveness of the affirmation. It is just as important that they become a regular part of your day and so the way you integrate them into your life needs to be considered.

Keep your statements in the present tense, as if they already exist. “I want to…” or “I can…” or “I will” relate to what you want to achieve and are not as powerful as “I am” or “I (do)” which relate to a state already in existence.

You will find some guidelines to creating and using affirmations here.

It can be useful to consult a practitioner to set up an affirmation technique that really works for you.

Visualise

If you are a visual person imagining a big screen showing a scene that you find calm can be useful.

Close your eyes and choose an image that reflects how you would like to feel, perhaps an idyllic tropical island or a peaceful waterfall.

Next imagine this image on a big screen in your mind.

Keeping your eyes closed ‘examine’ the image – the long stretch of beach, the ferns beside the water.

When you see it clearly, step inside. See yourself in the scene as if you are really there. Notice what you are wearing, what you can hear, smell. Feel the sand or grass, the breeze in your hair.

Once you feel you are really in the scene, reach for the ‘controls’ of the screen and turn up the volume and picture. As everything around you becomes brighter and louder and your physical feelings more intense, you become calm and relaxed almost immediately, as if you were really there.

Relax, keeping the calm with you.

tropical-paradise

Release

One of the most common symptoms of stress is a clenched jaw and clenched teeth. Releasing the jaw is a simple technique to release much of the tension of stress.

First become aware of the tension in your jaw. Clench tighter, then release it.

Lightly press your tongue against the roof of your mouth behind your teeth.

Part your lips slightly and feel your jaw relax.

Repeat several times a day.

Tap

The Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping, is SO simple and SO effective. Anyone can teach themselves the basic routine and use it to create all types of changes. It can be very effective for creating calm.

It simply involves a routine of tapping on acupressure points in the body, while saying a set of statements. The process lodges any change in thinking within the subconscious. Changes occur with EFT extremely quickly.

Discover the basics of EFT, watch a demonstration and learn how to do the basic technique yourself right here. If you would like to learn more, many EFT practitioners run free information and demonstration sessions.

Eat

If all else fails eating small amounts of DARK chocolate helps calm anxiety. The theobromine in chocolate helps to elevate your mood and the tryptophan in dark chocolate improves your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood and contributes to feelings of wellbeing.   Many people with anxiety are known to have low levels of serotonin.

Stress and the inflammation that results are now seen as the forerunner of serious chronic and autoimmune diseases. It's time to change that right now.
Stress and the inflammation that results are now seen as the forerunner of serious chronic and autoimmune diseases. It’s time to change that right now.

Importantly, remember to try the techniques out when you are feeling ok. Get to know them so you can move straight into doing them whenever you need, without having to think them through. If you struggle to remember what to do it will only add to your stress.

Do you have a technique that you find really helps when you are feeling stressed?

Leave a reply below and tell us about it.

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

Wilson, P. Instant Calm, Penguin, 1995

Hartley, A. Love The Life You Live, Hart Publishing, 2000

A Winter’s Tale: Does Your Winter Mood Need A Lift?

Winter Girl Blowing Snow by Petr Kratochvil

Enough is enough! Yesterday was a day of bitingly cold winds, hail showers and snowfalls on the nearby ranges. Eleven weeks in and I am over the Winter Wonderland Magic.

I was chatting to a man in the supermarket register queue last night as he added some gorgeous coral coloured roses to his pile of groceries. He said he just needed some warm colours around his house to remind him that winter would not go on forever, that spring is nearly here. I felt so inspired, I bought some too!

Winter is eleven weeks in now and it seems we are all feeling over it. The joy of curling up with a warm drink, cosy slippers, a heat pack in front of a movie or with an engrossing book is past. I want to go outside without rugging up, to plant my spring vegetables, to enjoy a salad again, to get to the end of the day without cold feet and to enjoy some sunny evenings.

Even though we are at the tail end of winter this is the time that Winter Blues shows up for many people, as the accumulated stresses of winter start to affect them. These days winter blues are recognised as a disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is caused by a lack or not sufficient sunlight.

To help get us over that last hump in the winter road and to keep us going until the warmer days of spring arrive I have gathered some ideas to help lift our spirits as winter heads on out.

First up, a couple of warm drinks with a difference. I love herbal teas and I have a whole cupboard devoted to their storage – the tea cupboard. But, even with my wide choice, as well as the basic green tea back-up, I am bored. Here are a few new yummy hot drink ideas I have come across to spice things up when tea is just not going to cut it any more

Hot chocolate!  Chocolate is recognized as a mild stimulant and if you choose your chocolate wisely you get all the benefits of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. Here are two DELICIOUS chocolaty drinks to warm your insides and your mood.

The first is from Tara Bliss at Such Different Skies

hot choc smoothie

This PIPING HOT CHOC WINTER SMOOTHIE is thick, creamy, decadent and not-naughty.

1 banana

1 heaped Tablespoon raw cacao (don’t use drinking chocolate or cocoa…it’s absolutely worth GETTING some Raw Cacao INSTEAD)

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon chia seeds

2 medjool dates or some honey

1 cup boiling water OR warm almond milk OR dandelion tea

(you can add peanut butter, oats, cinnamon, coconut or maca)

 Blend, Pour, Guzzle Buzz.

 haute hotchocoalte

SUPERFOOD HAUTE CHOCOLATE from Sarah Britton at My New Roots

2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder

2 teaspoons maca porder

1 Tablespoon coconut sugar

Pinch sea salt

Pinch cinnamon powder

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch ginger powder

Small piece vanilla bean, scraped (optional)

1½ cups milk of your choice or water

Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly. If using raw nut milk do not heat above 42ْ C

Whisk in dry ingredients. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Not only is this hot choc yummy but all the spices are wonderfully warming circulation stimulants to warm you through to the fingertips and toes.

                DANDELION CHAISPICED DANDELION ROOT TEA

                1 teaspoon -1 dessertspooon organic roast dandelion root per cup.

1 cinnamon stick (or a pinch of cinnamon powder)

Ginger root, chopped up with the skin left on

Add any of these spices to taste: star anise, bay leaf, black peppercorns, green cardamom seeds slightly crushed, cloves, dried orange peel, dried raspberry leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns, vanilla bean, licorice root.

Place all ingredients and water in a pot, bring to boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

You can keep any leftover in the fridge and add water and reuse.

Add some honey and your milk of choice if desired.

It tastes great black, but may be too strong for if you are not used to it.

 Aug 22 040

HOME MADE LEMON AND GINGER TEA is so easy to make and head and shoulders better than any from a tea bag.

2 cups boiling water

Juice of ½-1 lemon (about 60ml)

2.5cm piece ginger root, grated

A couple of spoons (or more) of honey to taste

Add the ginger to the boiling water. Simmer in an open pan for about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the honey to the ginger water. Strain into your cup.

Or you can add all the ingredients to the water and pour into a thermos and let the mix sit for 20 minutes before straining and drinking.

This is a good option if you are still trying to throw off a winter cough. The lemon is high in vitamin C to boost your immune system. Ginger and honey also help the immune system.

ROOIBOS, sometimes called red tea, is one with heaps of health benefits. It comes from South Africa and has a fairly robust flavour. We recently tried one with added honey at work and it was very popular.

Looking out the window at the pots of flowers on my deck today, it struck me that the  colours of late winter are lavender, the colour of the rosemary in full flower, and golden yellow – think daffodils. Bringing a bunch of winter daffs in for your desk or bench will brighten your mood, reminding you the season is about to change. Yellow is the colour of spring and it is considered cheerful and optimistic.

There have been a number of studies done which show that the colours you surround yourself with will have a great impact on your state of mind. In the Stadium at the University of Iowa, the visiting teams locker rooms are painted all-pink and have been for thirty years, because pink is a tranquil colour that is known to calm and pacify. If the Home Team then painted their own locker rooms red which stimulates a faster heart rate and breathing, they would no doubt benefit from an emotional energy boost.

Using colour is a great way to lift your mood and one very simple way to use colour is to swap a bright cheerful coloured silk scarf for your woolly, black  winter scarf (of course you have a black scarf if you live in Melbourne!). Avoid blue because it lowers the pulse rate and body temperature.

Vitamin D is a wonderful mood lifter and if you are feeling a bit low taking a quality vitamin D supplement is a great move. In many parts of the world it is almost impossible to get sufficient sun exposure to meet your needs during the winter. Vitamin D is involved in so many body functions, but at this time of the year it often becomes very obvious that you have a deficiency of this vitamin when your mood drops. It is really worth having your blood levels tested with a simple blood test, as then you will be able to calculate how much vitamin D supplement you need to take.  Optimum levels are >75 nmol/L. If your levels are significantly lower than this (and a large part of the populations are, even here in ‘sunny Australia’), then you will need to take quite a bit of supplement to bring the levels up again.

Another vitamin that plays a crucial role in keeping up good spirits are the B group of vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency is linked to a range of emotional disorders as well as many other body functions. Opt for 50mg daily of a Vitamin B-complex rather than selecting individual B vitamins as these vitamins work much better synergistically when all the ‘B’s’ are present.

Other supplements that are critical in dealing with depression and mood disorders are selenium, magnesium and iron. A multi vitamin and multi mineral can address any deficiency you may have.

Socialising is a great way to pick up your mood. Maybe this is the time to do something with your friends out of the ordinary. Hold a fondue party, or dust off the board games, particularly the ones you loved as a child, like Twister, Pictionary, Monopoly or Charades. Or combine a pot-luck night with a game night. Or maybe your friends would enjoy a ‘Funny-Home Video’ night or a Karaoke night.

Even though it is cold try and get outside for some exercise. It is tough to exercise in the winter, and arriving home in the evening just as the sun goes down and the cold closes in is not much incentive to head out to the gym or go out for a walk. But exercise goes a long way towards relieving the stress of the day. The endorphins released during exercise improve your mood and help you sleep, and the effects can last for a number of hours.

One problem of the colder weather for many people is that they crave starchy or sweet foods more than normal which increases their blood sugar levels, making them feel blue. Remember that the foods you eat are a strong contributor to your mood. A poor diet will cause an imbalance in your body and make you feel worse. Add more fruits and vegetables, including raw as much as possible. Use complex grains, organic meats when you can and eggs and ignore those cravings for white flour and sugars.

Natural light is one of the best ways to avoid the blues and to lift your spirits. You can now get full spectrum light globes in Australia and there are energy saving versions available. They provide the full range of natural light from infra-red to ultra-violet. The benefits are well established and they reduce many health problems such as headaches, nausea and fatigue. In your home open the curtains wide to let the sun stream in on any day that is a little warmer, particularly where you cannot install full spectrum light globes.

After being closed up for months on end houses get stale. Freshen up your surroundings and your mood at the same time with essential oils. There are some that have anti-depressant properties including bergamot, lavender, geranium, jasmine and clary sage.  Others that are good mood lifters are sweet orange, neroli, and ylang ylang. Using high quality essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser releases them into the air in the form of water vapour, which is the best way for them to spread through your home. You can also add them to a bath (or a foot bath) or add a few drops to a carrier oil and use as a massage oil.

Here’s to the arrival of spring…

 Copy of daffodils

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=262

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-natural-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues.html?page=2

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=341

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/sex+relationships/wellbeing/beat+the+winter+blues,9093

Participate Relentlessly In The Pursuit Of Happiness

People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you're fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort.
People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort.

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”         ~  Dalai Lama XIV  ~

For many people the pursuit of happiness is the main focus of their life. This week what happiness is all about has popped up in my radar in a number of ways.

Apparently, according to the Sydney Morning Herald on May 28th this year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says ‘Australia is still the world’s happiest nation’. Their happiness guage is based on the majority having paid work, the national economy side-stepping the worldwide recession, people working fewer hours, the existence of a stronger sense of community, and that most people said they have more positive experiences than negative in an average day.

But is this how to define happiness? Is it all about the economy and what we possess?

According to the Greek philosopher Epicurus external goods such as status and luxury are not good for us, and putting value on them, and pursuing them is not good for us at all.

Epicurus believes we need to abstain from external desire in order to achieve tranquility. He says the path to tranquility is through choosing the simple things in life.

A quick scroll through my Pinterest feed affirms that this is one belief firmly ascribed to by many others today.

 “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”   ~ Dalai Lama ~

Apparently our level of happiness is age-related as a study by  Hannes Schwandt, a research associate at Princeton University shows. People are happiest at the age of 23 and then again at 69 and life slumps for most people in the mid-50’s, when many battle with regret. Young people in their early twenties feel very optimistic about their future which while it equates to happiness can easily turn to misery if the expectations and dreams are not met.

Our happiness is age-related
Our happiness is age-related

So what is it that makes sixty-nine year olds happy? Have they come to terms with their failures? The research showed that the elderly have lower expectations and so are less disappointed. Is this all? It reminds me a little of Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh who never expected anything good.

Is it that they have stopped seeking happiness in the material world, so they are ab;e find happiness in other ways?

Of course this piece of research presents a perfect example of what happens when you focus on the past or the future.

The famous quote “carpe diem” may have come from the Roman Horace, but many others, including Epicurus also had something to say about living in the moment. Epicurus advocated living in the present moment as it is the only point at which we have any control. He said that by focusing on the past and future we dis-empower ourselves, but when we focus on the present moment we re-empower ourselves. This has become a very popular approach. It forms the basis of many Buddhist practices and many of the techniques of modern psychology are also based on this concept.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”     ~  Dalai Lama XIV  ~

It is widely accepted that happiness is not to be found in the trappings of the world but as the result of our internal state of mind and approach to life. Happiness lies within.  As Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book  Eat, Pray, Love  , We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”

Leave the busy commotion of the mind...and enter into the stillness of the heart
Leave the busy commotion of the mind…and enter into the stillness of the heart

However, there is no one thing in life that many agree can apparently be said to be the key to happiness. It seems that many psychologists have given their advice as to what the answer is and there are any number of blogs with lists advising how to achieve a happy life.

Finding happiness seems to boil down to our need to make changes both to the way in which we assess the positive and negative about our life, as well as the attitude we adopt as the purpose of our life.

Psychologist Martin Seligman believes the key is to recognize our strengths and virtues and then to use them for a purpose greater than our own. This concept is one that is ascribed to widely.

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

Srikumar Rao, the author of Happiness at Work thinks our biggest obstacle is the belief that we are powerless and the victim of circumstance. He believes that we are the creators of own existence, and that control lies within the attitude with which we approach our work, and by association our life. As he says “The knowledge we have that we are responsible for living the life we have is our most powerful tool”.

Rao advocates inhabiting the “other-centred universe”. This is a world where our focus lies on others. And is a wisdom that forms an important part of Eastern spirituality. If we are motivated by an attitude of focus that is outside ourself, of looking for ways to achieve in our life that will be of benefit to others rather than focusing on satisfying our own wants and desires, then we will find happiness in our life.

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~  Dalai Lama  ~

For many people what may seem a huge negative in their life, a disaster, can in fact turn out to be a positive in hindsight. Often when serious illness forces someone to stop their life, to let go in order to undergo treatment and healing, they are offered the opportunity to turn their life in a different direction, one that can ultimately lead them to a happier life. Often it is a much simpler life.

Changes are made on many levels. Frequently the person finds they need to address their nutrition and they adopt a natural, wholefood diet, including the discovery of superfoods. The often seek out and adopt practices like meditation that allow them to sit in stillness. They recognize the generosity of others around them and begin to regularly and frequently express gratitude for those others as well as for the small, simple joys of everyday life. Importantly, their approach to their life can undergo a radical change which leaves them focused on the world outside themselves. Leaves them asking what they can do to improve and benefit the world and the individuals around them. It leads to a generous approach to life.

So what were the things that have reminded me this week about the purpose of life, the pursuit of happiness?

Well, firstly my free ‘Kindness Cards’ from the Wake-Up Project  http://www.wakeupproject.com.au  arrived in the mail. These are beautiful little cards to leave behind when you anonymously perform a random act of kindness. They tell the person that an act has been performed and invites them to repeat the game with someone else, to pay it forward. Why not some yourself?

Secondly, I have entered a competition on Pinterest to create “My Happiness Board”. I am not sure if entering a competition to win a great prize constitutes the true pursuit of happiness, and it has created some stress for me, however, once the event is over I will slowly build the board to hopefully be an inspiration to others. You can take a look here (don’t worry, you won’t need to trawl through a huge board – the rules called for only five pins!)

Thirdly, I re-read a favourite book (I love to re-read!) in which one oft-quoted line is “it is what it is”.

Forget about a positive spin on life. Life is what it is. We have to make the best of what it is – it could be better, it could be worse. But it isn’t – it is.

Look for your strengths, the things you may not even recognize, and use those strengths to address ways in which you can make the world a better place. Practice kindness, be generous with what you can offer. Accept what life gifts back to you. When you reach the age of sixty-nine you may very well realize that the lemons of your life were indeed gold.  As Aristotle reminds us “Happiness depends on ourselves”.

And lastly, take note of Gretchen Rubins’ advice and try to notice and give credit to others that are living a life focused on giving what they have to offer to others.  “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.”

Acknowledge your strengths, the things you may not even recognize as they come so easily to you, and use those strengths to address ways in which you can make the world a better place.
Acknowledge your strengths, the things you may not even recognize as they come so easily to you, and use those strengths to address ways in which you can make the world a better place.

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

History of Happiness

http://philosophyforlife.org/philosophies-for-life/epicureans/#sthash.ZnrVDZZt.dpuf

http://www.smh.com.au/business/australia-the-worlds-happiest-nation-oecd-20130528-2n87z.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/people-happiest-20s-60s-article-1.1407789

http://www.thehappinessinstitute.com

http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2009/09/the-happiness-project-book/

http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-resources