The Hidden Cost Of Light Pollution

We cannot live without light. Exposure to sunlight is critically important for our health. But too much exposure to light can also lead to problems. We all are aware that exposure to sunlight has a direct impact on our mood. This is because exposure to sunlight causes hormones to be released in our bodies. These have a direct impact on our health and mood. But when we get too much of light the pendulum swings the other way and it begins to have an adverse impact. This short video alerts us to the danger that “light pollution” has on our health and on the environment. This is worth watching and sharing.

International Dark-Sky Association
More details on the video.

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Waking Up To Sleep’s Role In Weight Gain

Sleep And Weight Loss

Did you know that if you sleep 5 or 6 hours a night or less you are at increasing risk of being overweight? Adults should be sleeping between 7 to 9 hours a night. Children on the other hand need at least 10 hours of sleep a night:

  1. A British study that followed more than 8,000 children found that those who slept fewer than 10 and a half hours a night at age 3 had a 45 percent higher risk of becoming obese by age 7, compared to children who slept more than 12 hours a night.
  2. The largest and longest study to date on adult sleep habits and weight is the Nurses’ Health Study. This study followed 68,000 middle-age American women for up to 16 years. Compared to women who slept seven hours a night, women who slept five hours or less were 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of the study.

What is even more remarkable is that the impact of sleep loss with weight gain is more immediate than previously thought. A recent study at the University of Colorado shows that just a few nights of inadequate sleep can lead to an immediate weight gain of one to two pounds:

This study showed that just one week of restricted sleep of five hours per night leads to an average weight gain of two pounds within that week itself. Reverting to 9 hours of sleep per night the following week caused some of the weight gain to be shed, but significantly it did not reverse all the gain. This shows that some of the damage done by sleep loss may be long term and may take longer to reverse.

It is not clear what is the exact mechanism by which lack of sleep causes weight gain, but here are some findings from other studies:

  1. Lack of sleep changes our hormones: A small study has found that lack of sleep causes hunger-inducing hormones to increase. It also causes the satiety producing hormones to reduce. The net impact of this is that we tend to eat more when we are sleep deprived.
  2. Lack of sleep impacts our food choices: Studies have shown that those who slept less had consistently poor food habits. They ate food irregularly and snacked more often.
  3. There is a direct correlation between stress and weight. The more stressed we are, higher the likelihood that we may be overweight. Sleep is one of the best known de-stressor available to us. So it is likely that cutting down on sleep leads to increase in stress levels and a corresponding weight gain.

One way to increase the length and quality of sleep is to have a regular practice of yoga. If you add 10 minutes of breathing exercises (that elongates your breath) you will get even better results. 20 minutes of meditation every day will also help.

In some ways this is all good news. It shows that shedding weight for the long term is not so difficult after all. You are just required to regularly get adequate sleep. Can it get any easier?

Seven Sleep Surprises
10 New Ways To Look At Weight Loss
NY Times article: Lost Sleep Can Lead To Weight Gain

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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The Right (and Wrong) Way To Juice

Right And Wrong Way To Juice

Juicing has gained notoriety for its ability to energize, alkalize, detox, and rejuvenate both inside and out. Green vegetable juices fill you with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. Proponents claim juicing has the ability to improve skin health, reverse degenerative disease and even slow down or reverse gray hair! I am a big fan of green juicing, but there is a right and wrong way to juice. Let’s take a look.

Go easy on fruit juices. Be especially cautious with tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, which are very high in sugar. Fruits offer plenty of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes, but they are best eaten whole with their fiber. I don’t recommend regular juicing with fruit, especially if you are on a weight loss plan. Pineapple mango juice sounds delicious but contains almost 8 teaspoons of natural sugar!

That will send your blood sugar and insulin levels soaring, increasing fat storage. The exception is using the occasional green apple or kiwi to sweeten some of the more bitter green drinks. Green apples are relatively low in sugar.

Focus on organic, raw green veggies for maximum nutrition in freshly pressed juice. This is a great way to sneak more veggies in concentrated form into your diet. Juices should not be a substitution for eating your vegetables, however.

Man cannot rely on juicing alone. Vegetable juice should be used as an accompaniment to a meal or in between meals (great afternoon energy boost!), but you still need the fiber from whole vegetables, and juice doesn’t provide this. With that said, juicing makes it easier to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables you’re juicing and makes it easy to get a wider variety of veggies you may not otherwise eat.

Stay away from juicing raw cabbage, collards, bok choy, kale and broccoli. All cruciferous veggies are goitrogenic, meaning they contain substances that suppress thyroid function when consumed raw. They may also cause gas, bloating and stomach upset in some folks. Don’t get me wrong; the cruciferous have wonderful health benefits when cooked or lightly steamed. Cooking deactivates the goitrogens.

Use raw spinach, beet greens and chard sparingly. They contain oxalic acid, which can irritate the the mouth and intestinal tract and block iron and calcium absorption. Oxalic acid has also beed linked to the formation of kidney stones.

The best veggies to juice include the following:

Cucumbers, which are very cleansing and good for skin health.
Celery, anti-inflammatory and alkalizing; also said to lower blood pressure.
Beets, a super liver cleanser and great vegetarian source of iron.
Carrots, rich in beta-carotene, beneficial for eyesight, and also a great liver/gall bladder cleanser. Use caution with carrot juice, as it’s also high in sugar.
Spinach (occasionally), high in iron, very alkalizing, and great for skin health.
Wheatgrass, overall great detoxifier and also alkalizing.
Fennel, excellent for digestion, reduces bloating. Great licorice-like flavor.

I also throw in romaine lettuce or red bell peppers (very high in vitamin C) if I have some on hand.

Herbs are great, too; use parsley, cilantro (helps to chelate heavy metals), and ginger (good for digestion and cleansing). Throw in some raw garlic if you’re brave or want to ward off vampires. It’s great for immune health.

Make your own, or buy unpasteurized juice if you can. The heat from the pasteurization process kills the beneficial enzymes raw juice provides.

Below are a few of my favorite recipes. Get creative! I like to add a squeeze of lime to the finished product for an extra kick. Or, try adding a pinch of sea salt for extra trace minerals. Buy organic where possible and scrub everything before juicing. I have a green drink every morning before breakfast for an energy boost.

Happy juicing!

The Detoxer
1 beet
2 carrots
1 green apple
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
Optional: 1 bunch parsley and/or 1 tbsp spriulina/chlorella blend

The Alkalizer
2 stalks celery
1 cucumber
1 green apple
1 carrot
Handful spinach
Optional: 1/2 bunch parsley or cilantro

The Kitchen Sink
2 stalks celery
1 red pepper
1/2 bunch parsley or cilantro
1 carrot
1/2 cucumber
1/2 fennel bulb
Handful spinach
squeeze lime (into finished juice)
Optional: garlic cloves to taste

Credits: This is written by Mary Vance. She is a holistic nutritionist practicing in the San Francisco bay area. You can find out more about her here. This article has been reposted with permssion. You can find the original post here.

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Success Made Easy

It is important to frame success correctly in our minds. Absent this we may subconsciously shun success and forever struggle to reach our goals. This short video will help. Worth watching and sharing.

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Seven Insights Into Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

Hardly a year goes by without a new diet fad becoming all the rage. Then like a passing storm this fad too passes and we wait for the next one to come ashore. Clearly we are obsessed about food and will keep experimenting till we have a clear answer as to what is the best diet for our long-term health. But outside this debate about diet, there is larger question. This is not WHAT we should be eating, but rather HOW we should be eating. Sadly the question of HOW we should eat is lost in our obsession with experimenting with different diets. This post explores this question and provides seven key insights related to Mindful Eating.

1. What is Mindful Eating?

Eating for most is an unconscious activity. After the first few bites we simply plow through our plate without any conscious awareness of either the sensation of the food or the act of eating. Mindful eating on the other hand seeks to make eating a conscious activity. Mindful eating requires that you bring your full attention to the taste, smell, aroma, texture, and sensation of the food that you are eating. In many ways mindful eating is a form of meditation.

2. It will allow you to eat less

Because we eat mindlessly we tend to overeat. There have been studies that show that the act of simply pausing before we eat, to take a moment to experience the aroma of the food, helps reduce food intake. It is also true that when we fully chew the food before swallowing, it helps with digestion. In addition the body gets time to release the right enzymes that aids digestion. Slowing down also gives us enough time to get a satiety signal from the stomach to the brain. This allow us to stop before we begin to overeat.

3. Its not easy

Though it sounds simple, it is not. Eating is an automatic activity like breathing and it is quite difficult to turn this into an activity that consumes our full attention. When you begin your journey into mindful eating you will find that you will frequently relapse into your old ways. This is normal. Rather than fight this, accept it with humility. As soon as you notice that you are not eating mindfully, pause for moment and turn your full attention to mindful eating.

4. It will keep you satisfied longer

By its very nature Mindful Eating requires that we eat slowly. Rather than stuffing one bite of food after another into our mouth we need to completely chew the first bite and swallow it before taking the next one. Rather than our hands going back to the plate to pick up the next bite, we may have to set our forks down and rest our hands on the table while we slowly chew our food and enjoy its taste. Eating mindfully is a deeply enjoyable experience that will allow you to experience the eating experience fully. It will keep you satiated much longer than if you stuffed double the amount in the usual frantic way.

5. Gratitude is important part of Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating does not happen in a vacuum. Our attitude towards the food we consume is a very important part of Mindful Eating. We need to be humble and grateful. The opportunity to be fully conscious of the eating experience is something to be grateful for. Most traditions require some sort of prayer of thanks before the start of a meal, and Mindful Eating requires the same too. Mindful Eating is non-judgmental. The food may not be perfect, but we should consume it thankfully and humbly.

6. Remove distractions

Since mindful eating is a form of meditation, it is important to remove distractions while eating mindfully. You must be seated comfortably. No TV, no music, and even no thinking or conversations while eating mindfully. If you have to get up to get more servings that is fine, but first completely chew and swallow what you have in your mouth.

7. Insert pauses

Since Mindful Eating is not easy, you may have to use some tricks. One good technique is to insert one or more pauses in your meal. Every time you stop eating you should completely chew your food and swallow it before you resume. One simple technique is to put small servings on your plate. Also arrange your table so that you have to get up for the next serving. This should allow you to slow down and consciously resume Mindful Eating.

The journey into Mindful Eating is also a journey into health and wellbeing. In this journey you will not reach your destination overnight. But one thing is sure: Along the way you will have many deeply satisfying experiences.

Related: NY Times article on Mindful Eating.

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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