What are you breathing in?

Air quality can be an issue around the world. In 1542, when the Spanish came into California, they named the San Pedro Bay the Bay of Smoke because of the smoke from the native American fires in the area. 

Beth Gardiner writes in Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution, some of the issues with air quality and how we influence it today. She speaks to how the air quality in London affects her health daily. There are areas of the world where some people’s lives are shortened by 3 to 10 years.

How can you optimize the air you breathe?

Many authorities in functional medicine suggest an air purifier in your home. They suggest buying a purifier with a HEPA filter and a carbon filter, changing the filters twice as often as the manufacturer recommends. This helps to decrease small particulate matter in the air you breathe indoors.

The investment you make will pay off by improving your health. Optimizing your health may be much less expensive than trying to regain your health after it is gone. Keep your health and enjoy the added benefit of your life.

Looking for guidance to improve your health? Please get in touch.

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Hydration: What it means to your body

When our bodies are analyzed, we’re made up of about 65% water. If our bodies experience even a 1% to 2% drop in hydration, they are not able to function well. We want to support our bodies to able to function well to optimize our health.

How can we tell if we are hydrated properly? One measure of optimum hydration is the need to urinate every 2 hours while we’re awake; at a minimum, every 3 hours.

Urination is a way for our body to flush metabolites from the foods we eat. In addition, we’re also flushing hormones, electrolytes, and the breakdown of medications. Our bodily systems stay balanced by flushing these products.

We may experience these symptoms if we are dehydrated: headache and migraine; weakness, fatigue, foggy thinking, urinary tract infections, constipation, decreased immunity, sleeplessness, acid reflux, dementia, diabetes type 2, and heart disease. 

To hydrate thoroughly, drink water from a glass (avoid plastic drinking containers which may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that are harmful for your body), eat fresh plants, drink a green smoothie daily, and get moving every day to get hydration deep into your tissues.

Looking for ways to improve your health? Please get in touch!

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New Perspectives on Blue and Purple Colored Foods

It is June and blueberries and blackberries are in season. We look forward to the taste of these delicious berries every summer. But we also need to appreciate their healing benefits.

Blueberries have been shown to decrease free radical damage to DNA by 18% within 1 hour versus a control group. Any time we can decrease DNA damage, we are doing something good for our bodies. This colored food is beneficial for brain health. It may help with cognition and memory.

But there are many other blue or purple foods that we can enjoy and benefit by eating.

  • Asparagus, the purple variety
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers, the purple varieties
  • Berries-black, blue, Boysen, huckle, marion
  • Cabbage, the purple variety
  • Carrots, yes, purple carrots are widely available
  • Corn
  • Currants
  • Eggplant
  • Cauliflower
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Kale, lacinato or dinosaur tongue variety
  • Onions
  • Plums
  • Potatoes, the purple varieties
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Rice, like the Forbidden variety
  • Tomatoes, the Indigo varieties

Purple and blue foods may be anti-cancer foods. They help to minimize how cancer-causing compounds are triggered as well as provide some help with detoxification. They may inhibit DNA damage. They may inhibit the invasiveness of cancer cells and their spread.

Resveratrol, the compound found in red wine and other red fruit, is an anthocyanin which may help slow cell aging.  Who would not like to have young cells?

Anthocyanins may help keep the heart healthy, control blood pressure, reduce obesity, improve cholesterol levels, boost immunity, help prevent cancer and inhibit tumor growth, and improve memory.

Deanna Minich, Ph.D., Seminar, How to Stay Healthy in a Toxic World: Food and Lifestyle Choices
Deanna Minich, Ph.D., Ebook, 7 ways to Nourish Your Whole Self

Want to better understand your relationship to food and your health? Please get in touch to discuss how I can help.

Free Health Goal Discovery Session

New Perspectives on Worrying

Are you feeling like you worry more?  If so, you may find these tips helpful.

  1. Schedule a set amount of time every day to worry. Start with 15 to 20 minutes. 
  2. Develop steps to resolve the issue worrying you. Put those steps into action if possible.
  3. Take 8 to 10 minutes every day to put your worries on paper. This helps to calm thoughts.

Worry and anxiety have some similarities, but there are important differences.

  • Worry is in your mind.
  • Anxiety is usually also felt in the body.
  • Worry is usually caused by a specific problem while anxiety may have no apparent cause.
  • Worry is controllable, while anxiety may feel out of control.
  • Worry may cause mild distress, while anxiety may be much more distressing.

Melanie Greenberg, clinical psychologist, writes about this in her book The Stress-Proof Brain. 

Training yourself to worry at a specific time may allow your mind to relax more throughout the rest of your day and may allow you to fall asleep more easily. Sleep, in turn, is vital to your health and well-being. Calming worry may improve sleep, and your overall health.

Looking for one-on-one guidance to improve your health and well-being? Please get in touch.

Free Health Goal Discovery Session

New Perspectives on Increasing Happiness

Can you learn to be happier?  Positive psychology says yes, with some effort. Genetics plays a role, possibly contributing up to 50% of our happiness quotient. It is likely that 10% is influenced by our life circumstances, but a full 40% is through our actions and thoughts. With 40% of our happiness influenced by our actions and thoughts, we have a lot of room to increase our happiness if we are intentional and effortful.

In the 1990s, Martin Seligman started the branch of psychology called positive psychology. Positive psychology studies what is right and how we can improve further on the good.

Relationships are a large part of our happiness. Focusing on relationships is a big first step toward greater happiness. We are social beings and social connection is key to health and happiness. 

If healthy relationships contribute to our happiness, then improving our relationships with better communication is important. Better communication does not mean we have to agree all the time. We may even decide not to communicate about touchy subjects.

John Gottman is a researcher who describes six conflict management skills. They are softening up (approach the problem softly), complain but do not blame, use “I” statements not “you” statements, describe what is happening without judgment, be polite and appreciative, and don’t store things up.

Another approach to increasing happiness is to introduce variety into your life. Call someone you have not spoken to for a while, go a different way to work, or be open to chance opportunities.

A third way to increase happiness is to take time out. Time out could be meditation or to give yourself permission to sleep enough nightly. Optimally, you would give yourself both gifts daily. Doing so may reduce feelings of overwhelm, decreases stress, and improve immunity and creativity. To consider how the lack of mental health affects us, sick days from work are due more from mental distress than physical illness.

Looking for natural methods to improve your health and happiness? Please get in touch!

Free Health Goal Discovery Session

A New Perspective on Alzheimer’s Disease: You May Prevent It and Reverse It

Losing your memory is one of the greatest fears. Conventional medicine offers little hope or solutions.  Medications, at best, only delay the decline. They do not stop nor reverse Alzheimer’s.

There is a better way. Alzheimer’s can be reversed if people find a functional medicine practitioner who looks for the root cause of the problem. Dr. Dale E. Bredesen, MD, laid out the approach in his book, The End of Alzheimer’s–The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. Dr. Bredesen highlights the pathways that may be optimized to reverse Alzheimer’s. Some of these approaches are: prevent and decrease inflammation, optimize hormones and nutrients, and eliminate toxins. 

Please take some time to listen to this conversation between Dr. Bredesen and Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., a biomedical scientist. Dr. Bredesen discusses his research findings. Dr. Bredesen is professor of neurology at the Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

This is an hour well–spent if you are concerned about Alzheimer’s and memory loss.

Please get in touch if you want to talk about the functional medicine approach to improve health and well-being. Please feel free to send me email at donna@donnakkelly.com, or use the appointment button below.

Free Health Goal Discovery Session

A New Perspective on Habits

We probably have habits we would like to change. There are three parts to habits that make them stick, or hard to break.

The first part of a habit is the cue. The cue (1) is the trigger to your brain to perform an automatic behavior. The cue can be anything from a person, a time of day, or an advertisement, to a set of circumstances.

The cue leads to the routine (2), or habit. The brain gets a reward when the habit or routine is performed.

The reward (3) is the experience the brain is looking for, like comfort or stimulation. This is where the saying comes from: what fires together wires together. These automatic pathways in the brain may quickly set, if the reward is powerful enough, like an addiction.

People may try to stop a bad habit by removing the routine. As an example, a smoker tries to break the habit by throwing away the cigarettes. The better approach to break the habit in the long term is to focus on the cue as well as the routine.

As an example, if you feel that spending time on social media is a habit you’d like to break, you may find it better to pick up a book or newspaper to read when the urge strikes. You might also break the habit by changing the cue. If you find yourself stopping at the doughnut shop on the way to work, then change the route to make the doughnut shop less convenient.

Two good books on habits are The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Please get in touch to discuss how I can help you on your path to vibrant health.

Free Health Goal Discovery Session

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Did you know that 50% of mental illness starts by age 14, and 75% by age 24? One in five adults experience a mental illness. Nearly 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness. About 10 million adults have mental health and addiction issues.

Common signs of mental health issues:

  • Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • Heavy alcohol or drug use.
  • Changes in mood, behavior, personality, or sleep.
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying still.
  • Unable to do daily activities due to worry or fear.
  • Out-of-control behavior that causes harm to self or others.
  • Harming one’s self or making plans to end one’s life.

On one hand, we have the conventional medical approach to mental illness. There is also the holistic psychiatry and nutritional psychiatry approach to treating mental disorders. You might not be aware of these more integrative approaches to mental health:

  • Self-care is important. It may be more important now with physical distancing and other disruptions during the pandemic.
  • Routine is important. Sleep is better with a daily routine.
  • Stay connected to friends and family. Phone calls, email, social media or writing letters works.
  • Talk about your feelings to someone you trust.
  • Limiting social media and news is important. Watching news may be best done in the morning so you can be prepared for sleep.
  • Be kind and compassionate to others and especially yourself.

You’ll find more information about mental health at:

Getting help is the most important step. There are different approaches. Do some research and decide which approach may be best for you.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

New Perspective on Problems

Wicked problems are interconnected, seen as connected nodes
Wicked problems are interconnected

I recently read of tame and wicked problems. I believe our challenge with COVID-19 is a wicked problem.

A wicked problem has complex interdependencies. The efforts to solve one part of the problem may reveal or create other problems. Some examples of wicked problems include economic, environmental and political issues. A problem requiring a great number of people to change their behavior and beliefs is probably a wicked problem. Other examples of wicked problems are climate change, healthcare, pandemics, drug trafficking and social injustice issues.

We don’t do well with wicked problems. We can neither fight nor run away from this type of problem.

These difficult problems may be another reason for bringing compassion and empathy into our lives. We need to remember to have compassion for ourselves and others in this difficult situation. We are all in this together.  

We are living through this a day at a time. We will get through this a day at a time. Remember to be gentle and compassionate to everyone.

Looking to find ways to live healthier? Please get in touch!

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