New Perspective on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day of giving gifts and expressing our affection for our loved ones. Social relationships and support are beginning to be understood to be key to our health. They are as important to our health as the food we eat.

Relationships impact our mental and emotional health, which affects overall health and well-being. With depression and anxiety rising world-wide, these mental health issues may increase the risk for physical disorders, especially heart disease. Our bodies experience distress when we are stressed due to hormone imbalances. These imbalances may make it more difficult to choose to eat healthier foods, refrain from drinking alcohol excessively, smoking, or even inappropriate drug use. Imbalances in our body may even make it difficult for us to obtain a restful night’s sleep.

Some people may deal with mental health issues by isolating themselves. People are becoming more Isolated because of the rise of social software like Facebook. Loneliness, however you define it, increases inflammation in the body, which leads to further health issues. The UK has instituted programs to help people feel more connected to help increase their wellness. This intervention saves the government money in health care costs.

There are ways to improve social connections for better emotional and physical health.

Face-to-face interactions with family, friends, and loved ones is important. Social media has a place, but it should not be a replacement for face-to-face conversations. Even small micro-conversations with strangers, like the barista at the coffee shop, or the cashier at the grocery, can help make you feel more socially connected.

Surround yourself with people who live healthier lifestyles. The habits of your friends greatly influence your habits. Our health habits may account up to 40% of our health. People who engage in eating well, or moving often, offer you a supportive environment.

Practice gratitude and compassion. People who think positively about their relationships may experience a more positive health outcome. Research has shown that a four-step practice of sitting quietly each day to send compassion and loving kindness to yourself, to a loved one, to a difficult person in your life, and to our earth and all its creatures, large and small, increases positive emotions.

This Valentine’s Day, give yourself and others the gift of connection.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only.  It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use.  It is not medical or psychological advice.  This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment.  For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer.

New Perspectives on Massage

Two-handed back massage

Massage can be a great tool to decrease pain, improve mental health, lower inflammation, increase immune function, decrease muscle spasms and increase flexibility. If you have tried massage and did get relief, you may want to consider increasing the time and frequency. Other variables that may impact massage effectiveness may be the technique used as well as the skill of the therapist.

Massage may be one of the oldest and simplest forms of medical intervention. Your skin is your largest organ and has special receptors that react to heat, cold and pressure. Sending message through your nervous system to your brain stimulates the release of endorphins.

Endorphins help increase relaxation and promote a general sense of well-being. They also relieve pain and reduce levels of cortisol and noradrenaline, which are stress hormones. Our environment may lead to higher stress levels than is optimal. Lowering stress may help us live healthier.

Pain is a common problem and may contribute to the opioid addition problem. Massage is one of the alternative pain treatments which may be helpful. Massage can help alleviate muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, fibromyalgia and spinal cord pain.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. Massage may increase the number of mitochondria in the skeletal muscle. The more active tissues, such as heart and brain, have thousands of mitochondria per cell. If you want more energy, you may need to increase the efficiency or number of mitochondria in your cells.

The immune system helps us fight infections and stay healthy. Lymphatic massage may help to increase the flow of lymph through the body and help remove toxins.

Some people may experience immense pain relief while other people report no improvement with massage. Relief from pain may improve by increasing the time and frequency of massage. There was a study comparing a no-massage group, with people who received 30-minute massages two or three times a week, or 60-minute massages one, two or three times per week. The group receiving 60-minute massage two to three times per week reported nearly five times more function and decreased pain than the other groups. The best approach for pain may be 60-minute massage 2-3 times a week for the first four weeks. Changing the type of massage may have an effect on your pain level as well.

Looking for direction to improve your health? Write to donna@donnakkelly.com or schedule an appointment.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not medical or psychological advice. This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment. For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer.

Photo credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

New Perspectives on the Importance of Darkness

The importance of the correct quality and quantity of high-quality sleep cannot be overstated. During sleep we renew and repair our body and cleanse toxins from our brain. Sleep is when we lay down new short-term memories into long-term memory. For those of us wanting to perform better, getting a good night’s sleep is critical, especially before an event where we want to do our best. Is there a day where we don’t want to do our best?

Sleep may help us optimize the use of our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that helps us to make good decisions. This can be important in everything we do from choosing better foods, to having more patience with our family, fellow workers, and even other drivers on the road.

Optimizing sleep may allow us to have more energy and not be tired. With more energy, we may decide to move more in our day. Better sleep may calm your desire to eat to get more energy.

Total darkness helps improve the quality of sleep. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is maintained better in total darkness. This is darkness to the point you can not see your hand in front of your face. This can be difficult to attain if you live in the city and have streetlights nearby. Blackout shades on the windows can help. These should also not allow light in around the edges. Using a sleep mask is another inexpensive way to eliminate light reaching your eyes while sleeping.

In a study done in Tel Aviv, researchers measured the amount of light from streetlights. Then they overlaid this on breast cancer incidence in the city. The two areas matched. Just because they matched does not mean that the light caused the breast cancer. Correlation is not causation. However, it may be prudent for one to increase sleep quality so one can repair and heal optimally each night.    

Walking safely in the dark is imperative. It is critical to avoid slips, trips and falls. Clear the paths of trip hazards. For lighting, there are red-light motion sensor night lights. Plug those into an outlet in your bedroom, hallway, and bathroom. You should be able to see appropriately to navigate the area safely in the dark. The red light will not decrease your melatonin production; therefore, you may be able to drop back to sleep more easily.

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Radiate Healthy Longevity Interview with Christi Clemons Hoffman

I was honored to be interviewed by Christi Clemons Hoffman on her Radiate podcast. We discuss the steps that may allow you to achieve healthier aging. I’ve included the steps below.

Incorporating 4 of the following 16 qualities into your life may add 14 healthy years to your life.

Incorporating 5 of the following 16 qualities increases the likelihood of living past 90, with fewer diseases, and possibly a lower risk of contracting Alzheimer’s.

  • Have low blood sugar (fasting less than 100mg/ml).
  • Have low blood pressure (target: 115/75 in midlife).
  • Have low total cholesterol (less than 200) and low LDL cholesterol (less than 100).
  • Keep weight low and steady (BMI 18.5-25).
    • (A better indicator could be a waist circumference of < 35 inches for women and < 40 inches for men. This may indicate less toxic visceral fat around the organs)
  • Eat fewer calories—stop eating when 80% full.
  • Eat a mostly plant-based “Mediterranean diet” with coffee and tea.
    • Making the coffee and tea decaffeinated would optimize that approach.
  • Avoid nutritional deficiencies—eat a rainbow of colors each day.
  • Move regularly, be active, and stay busy after retirement.
  • Don’t smoke, and stop smoking if you do. This includes vaping.
  • Drink less alcohol.
    • It is not a health food and is harmful to your liver.
  • Get regular and restful sleep—aim for 7-8 hours each night.
  • Have healthy gums.
  • Challenge your mind.
  • Have a positive mindset; address anxiety and depression.
  • Shed stressors, have structure in day-to-day living, and be resilient.
  • Stay socially connected.

Immunity Summit Online, February 18 to 24

The Immunity summit, February 18 to 24, explores what the immune system needs to be strong. The immune system needs to be balanced. We want to be protected from infections and superbugs, but we do not want to experience autoimmune diseases either. In addition, a healthy immune system protects us from cancer as well. This summit will present 36 experts speaking on this important topic.
This online summit is free. You can register at:
http:// http://immunedefensesummit.com/?idev_id=23043