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Can Silence Heal Your Brain? Science Says Yes 

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.” 

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”. 

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think. 

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence. 

 A 2013 study on mice  published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning. 

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons. 

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.” 

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain. 

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence 

A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information. 

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.” 

When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues. 

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world. 

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way. 

As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” 

Silence relieves stress and tension. 

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. 

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says. 

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain. 

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources. 

The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving. 

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills. 

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. 

Summation 

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good. 

What do you think? Will you be practicing silence? Let us know in the comments!

Life Hacks, Foods, and Habits for A Healthy Heart! 

We know heart disease is not the most pleasant thing to think about, especially because it is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., but there is a silver lining. Heart disease is up to 80% preventable, so why not learn some important information and ways to take action?

Nearly 82 million Americans suffer from some form of a cardiovascular disease. Ischaemic heart disease is the deadliest form, causing over 12% of all deaths worldwide. This condition arises when fat deposits cause the narrowing of arteries, resulting in a reduction of blood supply to the heart. This is usually characterized by chest pains and it puts patients at risk for stroke and heart attack. 

Did you know? 

Every 34 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack, and every minute someone dies from a heart disease related event? 

Luckily your risk can be seriously lowered with dietary and lifestyle changes. 

Prevention includes quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising. Furthermore, certain foods work to prevent plaque formation and eventual blockage!
 


Preventing Heart Disease: Life Hacks 


Sleep 

Snooze within the “sleep sweet spot”

Too little sleep can place you at a 48% higher risk of developing heart disease, while sleeping too much gives you a 38% higher chance. The perfect sleep balance is found between 7-8 hours. 

 
Snuggle 

Make time for that extra lovin’


Snuggling actually reduces stress because touch induces the release of oxytocin, a natural de-stressor that also works to reduce blood pressure.

 

Laugh 

There is a reason it is called a “Hearty laugh”

Laughing really is the best medicine! It causes blood vessels to dilate by 22%, increasing blood flow and reducing heart pressure. 


Get Moving 

Today is your day!

Exercise Regularly 

At least 30 minutes of exercise a day significantly reduces chances of developing heart disease. 

Maintain Your Ideal Weight 

Obesity increases risks of developing heart disease. 

Step Away from That Remote! 

Those who sit in front of the television for 4 or more hours a day are 80% more likely to die from heart disease. 


Hydrate 

"Pure water is the world's first and foremost medicine." -Slovakian Proverb

Water 

Aim to drink 7-8 cups of water per day. 

Coffee 

Drinking 1-3 cups of coffee a day can lead to a 20% decrease in hospitalizations for abnormal heart rhythms. 

Green Tea 

Green tea contains the antioxidant catechin that stops the body from absorbing cholesterol and also helps to ward off obesity. 
Enjoy 1-2 cups per day for maximum benefits. 


De-stress 

Don't forget to close your eyes and .... breathe!

Yoga 

Yoga is a great way to focus and relax. Not only is it a natural way to reduce stress, yoga has been shown to be an effective non-cardio workout that significantly reduces risk of heart disease 

Mediation 

To kick-start your mediation practice or to take it to the next level, check out the albums recorded by Inner Splendor Media 

Minimize Traffic Time 

Beyond the emotional stress that is usually caused by traffic, the noise can be harmful for your heart's well-being as well. For every 10 decibels of added roadway traffic noise, the risk of heart attack increases by 12%. 


Dogs 

Better known as man's best friend

Dog owners  have reported lower blood pressure numbers, less stress and weight loss benefits! 



Don’t Smoke 

If you smoke, please quit! Smoking is the most significant risk factor in heart disease development. 

Heredity 

It is important to know if you have genetic risk factors for heart disease.  If it is in your family history, a preventative lifestyle is even more imperative. 

Get Screenings Done 

Going in for regular health checks and screening is highly recommended by cardiologists, regardless if you are at a high or a low risk.


DIET
Beyond our lifestyle tips, managing your diet is extremely important in preventing heart disease.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
 

  • Avocado consumption reduces bad cholesterol levels up to 17% and increases your good cholesterol. 
  • Olive oil reduces bad cholesterol and provides the body with healthy fats. 
  • Nuts promote optimal heart health as they contain the healthy fats needed to lower bad cholesterol levels in the body. 
    • Walnuts and almonds are great! Just half a handful a day provides you with adequate nutrition. 

Fish 

  • The healthy fats found in certain fish help to increase good cholesterol, reduce triglyceride levels and decrease inflammation. 
    • Salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring are all great for reaping optimal benefits. Aim to replace red meat with 12 ounces of one of these fish on a weekly basis! 

Whole grain 

  • The soluble fiber in whole grains helps to lower bad cholesterol because it sticks to the cholesterol, removes it and prevents it from building up in the arteries. 
    • Oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat breads and cereals are great whole grain sources. 



VEGETABLES 

  • Asparagus works hard to unclog the arteries by removing clots and decreasing inflammation. 
  • Broccoli prevents calcium from damaging the arteries due to its high vitamin K content. It helps to lower cholesterol and aids in healthy blood pressure regulation. 
  • Spirulina algae is rich in minerals, vitamin, carotenoids, powerful antioxidants and proteins. Regular consumption helps to regulate healthy blood pressure and relax the walls of the arteries. 
  • Spinach is rich in both potassium and folate. It unclogs the arteries and decreases blood pressure. Consumed regularly, fresh spinach can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 11 %.
 


FRUIT

  • Persimmons are rich in both polyphenols and fiber. Fiber helps to prevent cholesterol buildup and polyphenols are a compound that works to reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Furthermore, this fruit is very high in antioxidants, which offers an extra overall protective effect! 
  • Pomegranates are rich in phytochemicals that encourage nitric oxide production, which then prevents artery clogging and regulates blood flow. 
  • Cranberries are excellent for the heart because they contain a rich source of potassium. Drinking pure cranberry juice regularly can result in a 40 % reduction in heart disease risk. 
  • Watermelon is not only refreshing! It also helps to widen blood vessels by stimulating nitric oxide production. This is aided by L-Citrulline, a type of antioxidant. Just a cup of fresh watermelon each day offers these amazing benefits. 
  • Orange Juice in it's pure form is full of antioxidants that work to improve blood vessel function and help prevent high blood pressure. 
  • Berries are more than a great low sugar and low calorie snack! Eating 3 or more servings of berries per week cut the risk of heart attack among women by 32%. Both blueberries and raspberries are a great choice.

SPICES
  • Turmeric contains curcumin that helps eliminate fatty deposits and decreasing inflammation. 
  • Cinnamon offers up to a 26% reduction in bad cholesterol. It also helps to stop plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries.

Heart disease is a serious issue. Luckily taking action today can make a big difference in your and your loved ones' tomorrows!

AUTHOR: Gal Shyli Dayan

 

Sources: 

http://wordlesstech.com/prevent-heart-disease-with-these-healthy-tips/ 

http://www.simplehouseholdtips.com/the-best-artery-cleansing-foods.html 

http://thepaleomama.com/2013/11/how-im-healing-cavities-without-dentistry/ 

http://www.mapsofworld.com/infographics/poll/preventing-heart-disease-are-we-doing-enough-text.html 

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/7-ways-prevent-and-even-reverse-heart-disease-nutrition1 

http://penn-heart-vascular.pennmedicine.org/2013/02/heart-disease-risk-factors-prevention-infographic.html 

http://www.driscolls.com/nutrition-health/health-benefits/heart-health/raspberries-for-heart-health?crlt.pid=camp.hz7ftJybMG91 

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/conditions/heart-disease/yoga-heart-disease/ 

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/fight-heart-disease-with-these-heart-healthy-foods.html 

http://positivemed.com/2012/04/22/heart-disease/

This One Thing Will Transform Your Yoga Practice by Guest Author Christine Wushke 

“How tuning into your body’s connective tissue when you practice yoga can help you reap ALL of yoga’s benefits.

MyoFascial Yoga: what is fascia and why is it an important part of your yoga practice?

The word Myo means ‘muscle’ and the word fascia means ‘band’ (or connective tissue), so when you hear the phrase myofascial yoga, or myofascial release, we are talking about connective bands and spaces all around and within the muscle. But fascia is so much more than that.

I like to think of fascia as a bridge between the physical body and the yogic energy system. Yoga philosophy teaches that there are layers of subtle energy or prana that link us to an expanded field of consciousness. This energy body houses our life force and higher consciousness, which trickles down into our physical body. Without that ongoing process of prana entering our body, we very quickly get lethargic, depressed or sick. Part of the amazingness of yoga is how it puts practitioners in touch with the energy body. From there, we can learn how to rejuvenate ourselves on all levels. 

energetic body.png

In the yogic system, the body is considered a mirror of our belief system, and our connection with Divinity. But how exactly does this work? How do are subtle thoughts and beliefs held in our energy body mirrored in the physical body? How does the prana entering our system slow down or get restricted in the physical form. My feeling is that understanding fascia, and how it works as a system is the key to understanding this cosmic mystery. 

Let me walk you through why fascia is such an important part of your yoga lifestyle, both on and off the mat.

3 reasons why fascia is so important. 

1. It cushions and protects: Fascia is the body's shock absorber.

2. It’s flexible: It ensures that you can move your body freely.  

3. It’s strong and supportive: It keeps everything in your body in the right place. 

In a healthy, happy, well-functioning body the fascial system is strong, fluid and flexible.  Fascia has three main components: collagen, elastin, and a polysaccharide gel complex, often referred to as the ‘ground substance’ in the therapeutic practice of myofascial release. Collagen and elastin work together to create a web-like formation of strong and flexible fibrils. The ground substance fills the spaces within this web, lubricating the fibrils and cushioning the organs. These three aspects work as a harmonious system that ensures healthy movement, support, and protection of all body systems.

fascia3-e1360196854880.jpg

3 reasons why releasing the fascia is such a good idea. 

1.    Fascial tension is often the source of chronic, un-diagnosable chronic pain. 

Chronic fascial tension and restriction can lead to a snowball effect of problems. Remember the web-like structure I described? It’s interwoven with blood vessels and nerves. When the fascia stays tight for a long time, it puts undue pressure on those nerves and blood vessels, creating symptoms of pain and poor circulation. Not only that, but these restrictions spread, just like a run in a nylon stocking spreads. In addition to the tightness around pain-sensitive nerves, the gel-like ground substance hardens, making assimilation of vital nutrients more difficult. The body is now working much harder than necessary to deliver essential nutrients throughout the body. 

Over time, the fibrils will their elasticity and the shock absorption of the body becomes much less effective. If you have ever ‘thrown your back out’ doing a simple movement like taking groceries out of the car, you will have experienced just that reality. Releasing fascial restrictions is the best way to bring the body back into its harmonious balance of strength, flexibility, and protection.                           

2. Your fascial system and your belief system are intimately linked:

Try this exercise to feel how this feedback loop works in your own body: 

  1. Lift your chest up and turn your head slightly towards the ceiling. 
  2. Take a deep breath in and expand your chest a little more. 
  3. Exhale and let your body relax and settle into this position. 
  4. Stay here for a few more breaths, and ask yourself: 
    • What subtle sensations do you feel in your body?
    • Has your mood changed?  
    • Does your body feel different?

Imagine that a loved one is coming to visit. You see them approach with their head down, chest collapsed and their body looking weighed down by gravity. 

What do you imagine they are feeling in this moment? Do you think they are happy? Excited? Troubled? Overwhelmed? Depressed? 

This example shows how an internal state of being translates quickly into a body posture. When we continue to hold a certain posture over a long period of time we are inadvertently training our fascial system to mold to that position in space. 

This creates a feedback loop of posture and belief. 

Now imagine meeting a person on the street modeling this kind of posture. 

What types of beliefs do you think that person has? Are they a happy, trusting of life? Confident? I imagine this person’s core level beliefs are something like “I deserve great things, I am OK.” 

When fascial restrictions happen in the chest area – as they usually do when we sit at a desk all day– it can much harder to stay positive in the face of stressful life situations. 

When the chest is collapsed forward, we can default into negative and defeatist thought patterns. When chest restrictions release, it becomes easier to take a positive stance in our lives, both literally and figuratively. 

Try it – can you feel the difference between these two postures?

3. When you unwind your body you unwind your life: 

“Here’s another experiment to test your proprioception.

- Bring your awareness to your solar plexus and let it soften and relax.
- Recall a life event that you feel positive about.
- Notice what subtle changes occur in your solar plexus.
- Now bring to mind a life situation that worries you.
- Notice what changes happen in your solar plexus.
Now imagine if you could train that subtle response to communicate with you effectively in real-time life situations, for instance, a job interview or meeting with a potential business partner.”

So many nerve endings (called nociceptors) rest in the layers of fascia that together they can be considered another sensory organ. This sense is called proprioception, and we use it to determine our body’s position in space. Have you ever tried to touch your finger to your nose with your eyes closed? That calls on your proprioception abilities. 

Releasing the fascial system resets the proprioception mechanism, and trains it to attune to subtle shifts in position and posture. This allows for quicker course corrections when bad posture habits creep up on us. This increased ‘sixth sense’ spills over into many life situations. 

Have you ever wondered why some people’s ‘gut feelings’ turn out to be right?

These are people I consider as having a strong sense of proprioception. 

How to incorporate myofascial release into yoga 

Here are just three different ways you can apply myofascial release principles into your yoga practice:

1. Hold your poses much, much (and in most cases MUCH) longer. 

Two to five minutes is the magic window. Why? First, it takes that long for the ground substance to return to its healthy gel-like state and make that area more receptive to change in posture or unhealthy holding patterns. Second, it releases a chemical known as interleukin 8, which is the body’s natural anti-inflammatory agent. It also has cancer-fighting properties! 

2. Apply a little bounce.

Rebounding is a term used by John Barnes which incorporates a gentle rocking into the body. This motion starts to retrain healthy elasticity back into your fascial system, giving it proper flexibility and support.  Imagine taking a straightening iron to curly hair, effectively making it lose its bounce. Over-stretched fascial tissue does much the same. A loss of bounce means a loss of its shock absorbing properties, making the body vulnerable to injury. To make the hair curly again, we ‘d likely need to shower and shampoo to help it back to its original state. With fascia, we want to add a little bounce or wiggle into our practice. Though the bounce is best done after the pose has been released, in my classes I do rebounding in between poses; injury can result if you bounce *during* a stretch, but it’s very helpful if done right after a release has occurred. 

Photo Credit: Diane Wushke

Photo Credit: Diane Wushke

Try this sequence the next time you finish your standing sequence of yoga poses: Stand in simple standing pose and let your knees come to a slight bend. Imagine you are standing on a trampoline and allow your body to bounce about 1 centimeter up and down. Close your eyes and feel the bounce in your whole body. Imagine that you are holding a bowl or bottle of water, and each little bounce is creating waves of motion through the whole body of water. Then imagine that water is inside you, and feel the spring-back effect of rebounding the to create a whole-body wave of motion. If you can’t feel this with up and down bouncing try to do the same with a side-to-side sway. 

Photo Credit: Diane Wushke

Photo Credit: Diane Wushke

Or actually go and get a bowl of water and stand with it in your hands as you sway very slightly back and forth. Next, place the bowl of water aside and close your eyes, returning to your side to side sway; stay connected to how it felt to watch the impact of the sway on the bowl of water. Can you feel the sensation of your body as a liquid mechanism? Did you know that your body is 75% liquid? When I demonstrate this in class, most students report that the moving water visual makes the concept of rebounding click for them.

3. Stretch your attitude

Perhaps most importantly is how you approach stretching. In MFR the main principle is to move in to the body slowly, gently, and very mindfully until the first layer of resistance is felt. The key is to gently lean into this barrier until it relaxes naturally. I like to think of that moment as though the body is graciously allowing me to enter it and make changes. This approach has everything to do with ahimsa, or non-violence, one of most important principles of any yoga practice. If I force through my body’s barriers, it feels violent, and usually there are no lasting results because my body resists me. 

Photo credit: Diane Wushke

Photo credit: Diane Wushke

To apply this gentler attitude to stretching, make sure you move slowly and mindfully into your poses. When you become aware of the first sensation of 'stretch,' stop there and wait. In time (usually about three breaths or so) you will feel the body bow to you and allow you to go further. Then lean in until you find the next sensation of stretch. Wait there for that second release, and then go for the next. Move into your pose this way until you are at your full expression of the pose. It should take you 90 seconds to two minutes to get into your full pose, and from there, hold for at least another minute. When you are ready to exit your pose, do so with slow deliberation. Let your yoga practice become a dance. 

Think of it as entering into a sacred and intimate relationship with your body. Love your body, and let it love you back; communicate and cooperate with it. In return, you will discover the most important relationship in your life: the relationship with your body. While it may seem obvious, this body is the only lifelong friend you will ever have: there with you from the moment of birth to the moment of death. 

Literally and figuratively, the fascia teaches that everything in the body is connected, without exception. Learning to identify the sense of connectivity from the inside will help reveal that same sense of connectivity in your whole life. 

We are all connected, from the cellular level to the cosmic level. Discovering this connection has been the most important realization of my life, and it can be found right on your yoga mat.

Happy exploring!

Guest Author: Christine Wushke

Please use the comment field below to share your discoveries and questions! 

 

Christine Wushke is the author of Freedom is Your Nature: A Practical Guide to Transformation and creator of the “Easy Yoga for Beginners” DVD. She is a certified yoga and meditation instructor with over two decades of experience. Her aim is to create a sacred space for students to effortlessly find the presence of stillness and an inner silence. Her mission is to raise consciousness on the planet by empowering people to realize their own Divinity and to uncover a deep peace within. She runs the Journey to Light Wellness Center in Canada and regularly conducts fascia yoga retreats in the Rocky Mountains and Hawaii. In addition to yoga classes and retreats, she is also a registered massage therapist specializing in John Barnes myofascial release and Hakomi. For more information, email Christine or visit her website. You can find her book here.

Happy October! Celebrate With Our 20 Favorite Yoga Quotes 

Yoga is so much more than looking great. Don't get us wrong, the body you can get from yoga is amazing, but what the practice does for the mind and soul can completely transform your life. Celebrate October by firing your practice with these inspirational quotes from Inner Splendor Media. 

1.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."

-Rumi

 

2.

 

3.

“You only lose what you cling to.”

-Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha

 

4.

5.

“The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.”

- Yogi Bhajan

 

6.

7.

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.”

- Osho

 

8.

9.

"Learn how to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”

- Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

 

10.

11.

“We all wish for world peace, but world peace will never be achieved unless we first establish peace within our own minds.“

-Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

 

12.

 

13.

“This yoga should be practiced with firm determination and perseverance, without any mental reservation or doubts.”

-Bhagavad Gita

 

14.

15.

“When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world.”

- B.K.S. Iyengar

 

16.

 

17.

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future.”

-Deepak Chopra

 

18.

19.

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.“

-Buddha

 

20.

*Namaste*- The divine light in me bows to the divine light in you.

With love from us to you :)

Compiled by: Gal Shyli Dayan

What's Actually Happening When You Exercise? Our Workout Timeline Has Everything You Need To Know 

Guess what?! From the moment you start your workout- regardless of what it may be- the benefits of exercise begin. Within seconds your mood improves, your heart rate increases, blood is delivered to your muscles and you start burning calories for fuel.

All you need is at least 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 days per week with some resistance training and you'll add years to your life and improve its quality! Exercising is an amazing way to look younger, be happier, feel more energized and maintain a healthy weight. 

All this is great but what is really happening…

While you are working out:

1)    Smile! All those feel good endorphins are being released so you feel motivated and energized.

2)    Just breathe! During cardio, you strengthen your lungs as they breathe faster and deeper to deliver extra oxygen to your muscles.

3)    Bye, bye bulge! During cardio, your body burns primarily fat for fuel. Up your aerobic intensity and duration to further boost your body’s fat-blasting power.

An hour after completing your workout:

1)    Immune System- proteins called immunoglobulins are elevated every time you exercise. These proteins strengthen your immune system and fight off infection.

2)    Mood- serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are released in your brain to help you mellow out and feel stress-free. For optimal mood-enhancing results, do high intensity interval training!

3)    Weight- you are burning off calories even while you rest. You can increase this after-workout effect by strength-training at least twice a week.

4)    Hunger- Exercise burns through your energy stores so your blood sugar levels drop. Make sure to listen to your hunger. Refuel and rehydrate properly!

A day after your workout:

1)    Muscle- a day after strength training your muscles start to rebuild themselves and repair the microscopic tears caused by weight lifting.

2)    Heart- who doesn’t want to make sure to maintain a healthy heart? Just one workout will lower blood pressure for hours afterwards. Go for high intensity cardio for the most heart-tastic effects!

3)    Brain- as blood and oxygen flow increase to your brain, you are extra alert and focused. Capitalize on this momentum to clock in some study time. Your ability to memorize is at a high post-exercise!

The week after your work out:

1)    Reduced risk of diabetes-The more you exercise, the more sensitive you are to insulin which lowers your blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of developing type II diabetes.

2)    You can go harder and longer- your VO2 max, a measure of your endurance and aerobic fitness, has increased so you can keep stepping up your fitness routine!

3)    Think thin- you get slimmer. Did you know that reducing your diet by 500 calories a day and exercising will help you lose at least a pound a week?

In the long term after working out:

1)    You’re so strong! You can lift more/ do more reps as your muscle endurance increases.

Quick tip: when you can do 15 reps a set, switch to a weight that's two pounds heavier and go back to 10 reps. Work back up to 15 reps and then repeat this. By increasing the number of pounds you lift, you'll sculpt and strengthen better and faster.

2)    You’re so fit! As you keep at it, you are exchanging fat for muscle and looking super good.

3)    You’re so smart! As you work out, growth-stimulating proteins in the brain are activated and you get more brainpower as new cells are formed.

4)    You’re so refreshed! Cardio workouts, like running, for 30 minutes a day for three weeks improve your sleep quality. 

5)    You’re so beautiful! Besides increasing longevity, working out reverses skin aging. Exercise keeps your skin youthful and even helps it regenerate thanks to the protein IL-15 that is released while you get your sweat on. This protein stimulates skin cell’s power centers, or mitochondria, to be fitter and healthier, making skin appear and act younger. 

 

After a year, working out gets easier as your endurance and aerobic fitness increase, your heart rate lowers, your cells blast more fat on an ongoing basis, and more!

Make sure to maintain an efficient metabolism through upping your workout intensity. Keep your body guessing with different methods of fitting in a great sweat session!

Although you can snag some extra benefits by exercising outdoors, such as getting more vitamin D from the sun, the most important thing is not where you work out or what exercise you do, the key is that you keep challenging yourself so that you remain motivated and consistent.

ENJOY :) 

Author: Gal Shyli Dayan

You Won't Believe What a Little Coconut Oil Can Do!  

You may have already heard that coconut oil is a superfood, but first off, what exactly is a "superfood"? and secondly, what makes coconut oil such a popular one? The Oxford Dictionary's definition of a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” With its unique health benefits, thanks to an abundance of fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins, coconut oil certainly fits the bill. Not to mention its creamy, satisfying taste! Here are just a few reasons why we love coconut oil:

1. Coconut Oil Helps You Burn Calories

Coconut oil contains fatty acids known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike the more common long-chain fatty acids, these triglycerides can be metabolized in the liver as quick sources of energy. In one study, researchers found that as little as 15 grams of MCTs per day can increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, which, in fat-burning lingo, amounts to an extra 120 calories burned per day. This extra boost can lead to significant weight loss in the long term when paired with a consistent exercise routine. 

2.Coconut Oil Boasts Antibacterial, Antiviral, and Antifungal Properties

The above graphic shows the chemical structure of lauric acid, a miraculous, 12-carbon fatty acid which makes up 50% of coconut oil's fatty content. When digested, lauric acid forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Lucky for us, both lauric acid and monolaurin have been found to fight off viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens on and in the human body. Specifically, they have been found to kill off staphylococcus bacteria, which are pathogens known to induce dangerous staph infections. And that's not all! Lauric acid and monolaurin are also deadly to the fungus known as Candida Albicans, which is a major cause of yeast infection in humans.

3. Ketones Are the Key!

Once digested, much of the fatty acids in coconut oil enter the blood as ketone bodies, which are now known to effectively treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. Epileptic children who have endured unsuccessful treatments with pharmaceutical drugs are encouraged to eat foods rich with fatty acids. The resulting increase of ketone bodies in the child's blood inevitably reduces their rate of seizures on a day-to-day basis. In patients with mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer's disease, ketones bodies were found to reliably deliver energy to the brain and improve neurological functioning, greatly reducing Alzheimer's symptoms. 

Trying to slim up for summer? Ketones were found to have appetite-suppressing effects for adult men in a surprising 1998 study.

4. Moisturize and Protect

Some of coconut oil's most sought-after advantages have nothing to do with eating it! Ever wonder why your "granola-babe" friend puts coconut oil on her face everyday? Coconut oil moisturizes and balances the lipid content of your skin without clogging pores. It can even protect your skin from sun damage, as it blocks about 20% of the sun's ultraviolet rays. If you have a case of the frizzies or chronically dry hair, run some coconut oil through your locks to even out moisture levels and protect your hair from damage. 

5. Oral Hygiene

 With origins in ancient Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years. This technique is thought to improve your dental health by killing harmful bacteria and drawing toxins from the body. Others claim that daily oil pulling brightens smiles and even gets rid of bad breath. Want to give it a try? Simply swish a tablespoon of oil (preferably coconut or sesame) around your mouth, as you would a mouth wash, for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this every morning before breakfast and brushing for best results, and let us know what you think! 

6. Bust that Belly Fat 

If you read number 1 on this list, you already know that coconut oil helps burn calories. But did you know that it can actually target those pesky layers of extra belly fat? A study in which 40 women with abdominal obesity supplemented with 1 ounce of coconut oil per day showed a significant reduction in BMI and waist circumference over a 12 week period. A similar study with 20 males noted a reduction of waist circumference in just 4 weeks with daily oil supplementation. Needless to say, simply adding coconut oil to your diet should not replace a steady exercise routine. However, this versatile oil will aid you throughout your weight loss journey especially when it comes to burning belly fat, which is considered to be the most dangerous fat in obesity related diseases.

7. Get the Good Stuff
If you you haven't already, make sure you only purchase organic, virgin coconut oil. Buying refined or processed oil may not deliver the benefits that have made coconut oil so popular. Some brands that sell organic oil include Nutiva, Nature's Way, Carrington Farm's and Trader Joe's.

Enjoy!
Author: Nate Morgan
Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15724344
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8654328
http://authoritynutrition.com/why-is-coconut-oil-good-for-you/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22279374
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC444260/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candida_albicans
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staphylococcus_aureus
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10762277
http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/truth-coconut-oil-10-facts-need-know.html?t=NSM#sthash.FMUl3Oxu.dpbset

Busted: The Industry Selling Us Fake Herbal Supplements 


In 2013, a Canadian Government study found that there are at least 65,000 dietary supplement being sold in America, and over 150 million Americans buying them consistently. Herbal supplement sales made an estimated $6 billion in 2013 alone. Needless to say, we're talking about a hugely profitable industry. 
 
However, recent DNA tests of big brand herbal supplements are discovering the truth about these outrageous earnings. Do herbal supplements sell like hot cakes? Yes. Are the big-brand supplement companies saving tons of cash by loading pills with cheap ingredients and lying on the labels? Absolutely.
 
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman commissioned an involved DNA study of thousands of bottles of store-brand herbal supplements. The results were shocking enough to warrant cease-and-desist letters to Target, GNC, Walmart and Walgreens, demanding that mislabeled supplements be taken off the shelves.
 
Four of the five tested products (which claimed to benefit a variety of ailments ranging from depression to prostate issues), were found to contain none of the ingredients listed on the bottle. Instead, cheap fillers such as wheat, beans, rice, and even house plants were discovered in these pills.
 
As Schneiderman pointed out, this is a huge liability issue. Individuals with certain food and plant allergies are being put at risk whenever they ingest a mislabeled supplement. For this reason, it has been strongly advised that those with various dietary restrictions resist purchasing big-brand supplements for good.
 
In one of the tests, all of which took place at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, Walmart-brand pills said to contain echinacea, an immune-boosting herb, showed not a single trace of echinacea DNA. GNC-brand products marketed to contain St. John's Wort actually held garlic, rice, and a tropical house plant. Ginseng pills were found lacking any amount ginseng. This list goes on and on.
 
The company with the most shocking test results was Walmart, where only 4% of the products had DNA from the plants listed on the labels. Each product was tested at least five times, on three to four samples of each supplement.


GNC and Walgreen's have agreed to give the Attorney General detailed information on production and quality control, while suspending the sale of certain supplements. Walmart is flat out refuting the claims, stating that their own studies show no such disparity between labeling and product content. Still, Walmart will comply by removing some products from their shelves in the state of New York.
 
It is clear that the supplement industry is in major need of reform. In the meantime, consumers are becoming more conscious about their supplement intake and are switching to small-brand, organically certified pills.
 
Non-labeled fillers that the tests discovered ranged from citrus, pine, and primrose to wild carrot and even unidentified, non-plant material. 
 
Do you know what's in your pills?

Author: Nate Morgan
 
Learn more at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/02/05/herbal-supplements-fake-health-canada_n_6624762.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2015/02/03/cease-and-desist-orders-hit-walmart-walgreens-and-others-for-herbal-supplement-sales/
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/02/buyer_beware_gnc_walmart_target_walmart_new_york_a.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/03/snake-oil-supplements_n_6602940.html
http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/dna-barcoding-new-york-dietary-supplement
 
                                                                                  

According to New Studies, Exercise Changes Your DNA 

We've known for years that exercise increases overall functionality and lowers the risk of disease in the body. However, certain details about how exercise leads to a healthier body have remained a mystery. A recent New York Times article shed some light on scientific findings concerning the crossroads of exercise and epigenetics. 

The human body has the remarkable ability to revise it's genetic behavior, and our genes are constantly responding to the body's biochemical signals. Depending largely on our habits, certain genes may become more active, while others take a back seat.

In an epigenetics study published this past December, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm engaged 23 men and women in physical activities that isolated just one leg. Participants bicycled on that leg for 45 minutes, 4 times per week for 3 months. Obviously, the active leg slowly began to show more power than the other. But what interested researchers were the changes within the DNA of the exercised leg.

New methylation patterns were found on over 5,000 sites on the muscle genomes of the active leg. What is methylation? Simply speaking, it's a process in which clusters of atoms attach to the outside of a gene, making that gene more or less receptive of the body's various biochemical signals. Most of the genes that were observed to undergo new methylation play important roles in the processes of insulin response, energy metabolism, and inflammation within muscles. 

In other words, the genes that play an important role in the body's overall fitness became more expressed through methylation. These changes were not observed in the unexercised leg.

These findings offer a fresh understanding of human versatility and the benefits of regular exercise. (We can't speak for you, but we definitely needed the reminder!) Still, other questions remain. How does gene expression change with different types of exercise, such as strength training? Only time will tell. 

Author: Nate Morgan

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