I came across an informative blog post with some very interesting pieces of information about our beloved feet.
I came across an informative blog post with some very interesting pieces of information about our beloved feet.
It’s easy these days, with health, career and human rights issues at the forefront of our awareness (and our digital devices), to lose sight of what is working in our lives. Many people find themselves imprisoned by thoughts of worry that when given constant attention reward us as reality.
Maybe it’s time to shift our attention to that which we are grateful for, and to let those thoughts and energies materialize as the ‘new normal’. If we want things to be different it is imperative that we prioritize what we want, not focus our thoughts on what we don’t want. And that starts with appreciating what we have.
The attached article does a good job explaining the neuroscience behind gratitude and gives concrete examples of how to express it. I particularly liked suggestion number five. What about you?
Towards the end of April, a friend of mine, Kevan Breitinger, felt strongly that the 40 days of quarantine we had just endured couldn’t all be for nothing and so invited some people to answer three questions about their experience sheltering-in-place. The result, a raw, real, and uplifting exposé came together as a wonderful little book, entitled 40 Days in the Hole: Self-Care in the Time of the Corona Pandemic. I was one of the honored invited to contribute.
So why this name?
When she realized she had been in isolation for that many days, Kevan was reminded of the significance of the number 40 in numerous spiritual practices.
* Both Jesus and the Buddha are said to have started their ministries with a time of testing in the wilderness that lasted 40 days.
* The Prophet Mohammed fasted for 40 days in a cave.
* Muslims today fast and pray for 40 days during the Ramzan period.
* Christians fast and reflect for 40 days between Lent and Easter.
* Hindu and Zoroastrian communities include 40-day periods of prayers.
The number 40 also carries within it the idea of completion, as in 40 weeks of pregnancy.
As Kevan admits, “My own story is a bit less illustrious, so my first thoughts went to jail slang and song lyrics about 40 days in the hole!”
Whatever, I think it’s a catchy title to summarize a variety of perspectives and experiences that manage to remind us that, although we may be apart, we are #alonetogether.
Purchase your copy from Amazon for only $9.99. You’ll likely recognize parts of yourself in this collaboration, and perhaps close the book feeling inspired and encouraged.
I was listening to Darrell Rogers the other day, the Director of Advocacy at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition share some accomplishments in Washington regarding improving the health of our nation. Darrell works with federal regulators and Senate and Congressional representatives to help define policies supporting health and wellness and nutrition health coaches (which I’m training to work as).
And just as our baby’s first steps are so exciting and important, here is a gigantic baby step that the Institute of Integrative Nutrition has made on behalf of all of us:
The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Family Physicians have publicly supported health coaches and are recommending that nutrition health coaches be in all physicians’ offices! An independent study they ran revealed that patients had much better health outcomes when there was a nutrition health coach in the office working alongside the doctor.
Wowza! This is a big deal! Finally, it is being acknowledged that health is not dependent on drugs and surgeries, but on lifestyle choices that nourish a strong body, mind, and spirit.
For many years, researchers have suspected a link between low-grade chronic inflammation and many critical diseases. Numerous studies have pointed to it and now one, in particular, may finally provide the evidence needed to prove it.[i]
Ten thousand subjects were tested with an anti-inflammatory drug to see if it would lower the rate of heart disease. It did. But the surprise was that it also reduced lung cancer mortality by more than 77% and reports of gout and arthritis!
I’ve read many articles regarding the ill effects of low-grade inflammation in the body, but none was as succinct and as simple to understand than The Cure for EVERYTHING, in a recent AARP Bulletin. I think the information is worth sharing:
Two Kinds of Inflammation
Not all inflammation is bad. On the contrary, acute inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process our bodies innately know to call upon in the event of injury or trauma to the body.
If you sprain an ankle and it swells up, or you cut your hand resulting in pain and redness, or become infected with a flu virus that causes a fever to spike – these are all signs that your body is responding to the need for healing chemicals to be released to help remedy the situation. Once the condition improves, the inflammatory process ends. All good.
And then there is acute inflammation’s troublesome cousin – chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is caused by a misfiring of the immune system that keeps the body in a constant state of alert.
The danger with existing in this chronic state of inflammatory alertness is that eventually all healthy cells in the body are damaged.
The culprits in this destructive attack are the neutrophils, the second line of defense that the body releases when inflammation just won’t go away. They are referred to as the ‘hand grenades of the immune system’. And for good reason. They destroy all cells, not just sick or damaged ones, but healthy ones as well.
The linings of your arteries or intestines are attacked, as well as the tissue in your brain, pancreas, liver, muscles, and joints. Cellular damage can trigger diseases such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and depression.
Nothing to sneeze at.
Reducing Chronic Inflammation
There is a lot written about diet and lifestyle choices that affect the level of inflammation in the body. Suffice to say, it is worth investigating for yourself and implementing some of what is suggested. Remember that internal inflammation is not something we can see or even feel, even though it may silently be mounting a lethal attack on our tissues.
Here are some commonly-referenced suggestions for lowering a chronically inflamed environment in the body:
Make stress reduction a regular part of your healthcare strategy. Pick your medicine: meditation, yoga, walks in nature, intentional breathing, tub soaks by candlelight, and of course, reflexology and massage.
The above measures will pay off over time. Your health will improve, and you will reduce the risk of chronic disease.
[i] ‘The Cure for EVERYTHING’; AARP Bulletin November 2019
Believe it or not, the first piece of research linking stress with digestion was recorded in 1883! The study revealed that the digestive system is much more than a ‘cement mixer’ and ‘delivery truck’. Results showed that our daily food includes emotions and all of life’s experiences, not just edible substances. Everything we take in is ultimately broken down and ‘judged’ by our digestive systems.
And why is a healthy digestive system important? All organs and systems of the body rely on the health of the digestive tract. Without REAL food (not food-like substances) to sustain them, the cells – and ultimately, the organs and glands – are unable to function. It’s that simple.
Importantly, today’s scientists have also discovered that 75% of the cells necessary for the immune system to function effectively are connected to the gastrointestinal tract! And that means a high-functioning digestive system is key to health and quality of life.
Join Marian Thompson, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and me to learn simple ways to reduce the impact of stress on your digestive system. Discover how easy it can be to make wise food choices in the care of your digestive system, and practice simple reflexology techniques to relax and support smooth operation of your ‘second brain’.
This is a free class offered on Thursday, February 6 from 1 to 3 pm. No reservations; first come – first served.
St. Johns County Public Library
Anastasia Island Branch
124 Seagrove Main Street
Saint Augustine Beach, FL 32080
Old paradigms held that pain was generated at the periphery, at the site of an injury. We know that not to be true now.
The high cost of war resulting in so many lost limbs has necessitated substantial research on phantom pain, and that has changed our understanding of where and how pain is felt.
As an example, according to the new model of pain initiation, if you drop a heavy object on your foot, receptors will transmit that sensory input to the brain. Pain is not actually felt until that information reaches the brain and is interpreted there.
We also now know that interpretation takes into account, not just the sensations from the object landing on the foot, but memories of similar past experiences, psychological concerns (such as fear) and other stressors.
In other words, the brain is more involved in the experience of pain than we once believed. It is, in fact, more involved than the actual site of injury, and as I stated at the outset, pain is multi-factorial – a very complex issue.
Bodywork and Pain
Because of the unprecedented and tragic results of opioid addiction in the United States, the medical field is scurrying to find other routes of pain mitigation. This puts bodyworkers in a strategic position to be of service, since loving therapeutic touch does reduce pain.
Reasons that bodywork is so powerful in addressing pain:
* People coming for bodywork bring much more than their physical selves into the room – their entire history arrives with them. Research shows that hands-on approaches impact people on far more than just the physical level – therapeutic bodywork touches every layer of a human being, not just the physical. A pill cannot claim that!
* We are just now learning that it is less about what you are doing and more about how you are doing what you are doing. The latest research shows that it is the deeply relaxing and positive aspect of hands-on interventions that actually works with the brain and nervous system to help reduce pain. This is why I love reflexology so much. The modality is masterful at relaxing, and speaks directly to the brain through the neural circuits. No ‘middleman muscle’ even needs to be touched.
* Bodyworkers create longer-lasting relationships with their clients – one hour (sometimes more) versus the 15 minutes doctors budget. Giving clients the time to talk about their pain allows them to better understand all that contributes to the situation, and perhaps discover healthy ways in which they might shift the quality of their lives. Empowerment and hope do much to smooth the edges of chronic pain.
* Reflexologists and other bodyworkers take great pride in designing environments that are soothing and calm, not sterile and hectic as is the case in a medical office. Soft lighting and quiet music sets the stage for deep relaxation. And, remember ….
RELAXATION IS THE BASIS OF HEALTH!
Cardiologist and author, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, called on the medical profession to acknowledge the critical role emotions play in coronary health.
He went on to state that although the heart is commonly associated with love, it is not the source of love. He explained that the heart does not generate our feelings, but is responsive to them. And that is why the state of our emotional health is so important to our overall wellbeing.
As examples, he showed how fear and grief set off a cascade of changes such as pinching the shape of the heart muscle, speeding up the heart rate, contraction of blood vessels, and increasing blood pressure – all of which can result in damage to the organ.
The above are all triggers that occur in what is commonly referred to as ‘broken heart syndrome’, a biological event that can cause ‘death by grief’. On the other end of the scale, emotions such as joy and happiness create opposite changes in the heart that support healthy functioning of the organ.
All of these observations have led to studies with some surprising results. The one that caught my interest the most was ‘The Lifestyle Heart Trial’, published in 1990 in The Lancet, a UK science publication.
In it, the subjects, all living with coronary disease, were divided into two groups: the control group, who received regular allopathic practices, and the lifestyle group, who were put on a program of vegetarian diet, moderate exercise, stress management techniques and a social support network.
The results were undisputable. Although diet and exercise played a role in slowing the progression of coronary disease, the prevalent decider was stress management techniques and social connection. Those who receiving loving touch experienced less aortic disease than those who didn’t.
Dr. Jauhar concluded his talk with sharing that over the last 10 years the decline of coronary disease has slowed, at the same time the external stressors of modern life have increased.
It’s time we take stress management seriously. Our lives depend on it.
You can watch Dr. Jauhar’s full 15-minute talk here.
One hundred years ago, the pioneering endocrinologist Hans Selye first defined the way the human body responds to stress. He articulated three occurrences that develop when humans are under prolonged stress:
None of which, is good.
When Selye refers to ‘prolonged stress’, he is referring to what is classified as Type 2 stress. There are two kinds of stress:
Type 1 is a prehistoric, hard-wired response to a simple stressor.
– The source of stress is definable. An example: a tiger running towards you.
– There is a specific action that can be taken, from which there is an accompanying reaction. (Run away or kill the tiger; eliminate the stress)
Type 2 is our modern-day, complex form of stress
– The source is not always identifiable.
– A vague sense of worry
– Ongoing, multi-faceted
The sad thing is the body doesn’t know the difference!
If you want to learn a lot about the biology of stress, take a few minutes to watch this very informative video from biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton.
An excellent article, written by Travis Rieder, claimed, “Our obsession with a unidimensional pain scale and a medicine that can get us to zero – but with serious costs – has been a recipe for disaster.”
I really liked the idea presented in the article linking pain intensity to its influence over day-to-day life. Apparently, so did the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Medicine in Maryland. They have just released a new pain scale based on these four considerations:
* one’s ability to engage in daily activities of choice
* stress level
More important than a rating of pain intensity (1 to 10) was the reflection of how the pain affected one’s quality of life.
I like this approach so much that I am going to shift the way I discuss pain with my clients. Rather than have anyone rate their level of discomfort as a numbered scale, I will ask them to rate how their pain/infirmity/injury has affected each of the above four areas. Setting functional goals based on ADLs (activities of daily living), stress levels, sleep satisfaction and moods will actually give us something concrete to work towards.
My first solution to reaching the above goals is, without a doubt, reflexology. Why? Because I know that reflexology can help reduce stress levels, improve sleep patterns and moods. Experience has also shown me that reflexology supports the body’s musculoskeletal system in relaxing and functioning without pain.
The article is short and well worth the read.