Community Wellness Education
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AGING WELL

Based on extensive research at Tufts University, there are 4 markers that determine how well you age. They are (1) genetics, (2) physical activity, (3) nutrition, and (4) attitude. You can’t control your genetic makeup, but can control how much you exercise, what you eat and especially your attitude. In this study, it was found that having a positive mental attitude is the number one marker for slowing the aging process. Attitude is defined by “a manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that shows one’s disposition.” Simply put, your mindset, be it positive or negative, is the key to your aging! Start today and commit to thinking, talking and being more positively.

FIBER: THE MIRACLE NUTRIENT

Based on recent scientific studies, here are some interesting statistics about fiber consumption and your health: People who consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day have lower “bad” cholesterol and higher “good” cholesterol. High-fiber eaters have lower incidence of Type II Diabetes. High-fiber eaters are less likely to be overweight. Men who eat high-fiber cereal (>5 grams per serving) at least 4 days per week cut their risk of cardiovascular disease by 30%. Women who ate the most fiber over a 12-year period gained the least weight. Many of the women high-fiber eaters lost weight during this time period. The fiber found in fruits and vegetables is the best for reducing the risk of polyps that can lead to colon cancer. High-fiber eaters have 60% less arterial inflammation (C-reactive protein). Arterial inflammation is a suspected precursor in heart disease. Best sources of fiber are beans & peas (legumes), berries & apples (and all other fruits), vegetables and whole grains (oats are best).

Wellness Education

THE BEST & WORST FOODS FOR BREAKFAST

For optimum health, start your day with a healthy breakfast consisting of whole grains, fresh or frozen fruits and a quality, protein-rich food(s). Minimize the consumption of processed carbohydrates like pastries, high-sugar cereals and sugary drinks.

THE BEST MORNING BEVERAGE

The body is most dehydrated in the morning so start your day by drinking 12 to 16 ounces of water preferably with a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice. The addition of lemon or lime juice helps cleanse the colon and enhances your immune system.

THE MOST NEGLECTED NUTRIENT IN THE AMERICAN DIET

The average American gets less than 12 grams of fiber a day, which is far below the recommended 35 grams needed for optimum nutrition. Good sources of fiber are beans, lentils, oats, peas, ground flax & chia seeds, pectin fruits, berries and 100% whole grains.

THE KEY HORMONE FOR FAT-BURNING & ANTI-AGING

Human growth hormone (HGH) helps burn fat, build muscle, and keeps you looking and feeling younger. To optimize this vital hormone, embrace regular physical exercise, specifically weight training and interval training, and avoid eating processed carbohydrates like breads, chips and sugary snacks 1 to 3 hours prior to your regular bedtime.

12 HIDDEN REASONS YOU'RE NOT LOSING WEIGHT

Wellness EducationEven though you exercise regularly and have revamped your diet, you're still not losing those last few pounds. So what gives? Despite your best intentions, there may some hidden reasons for your unsuccessful weight loss. Here are 12 explanations why you may not be losing weight:
  1. You're sleep-deprived. If you are not getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night, you are hindering your weight loss efforts. Without precious shut-eye time, the stress hormone cortisol as well as the master hormone insulin becomes elevated, which stimulates appetite and increases fat storage. Lack of sleep also negatively affects other hormones like leptin and gherlin, which stifle weight loss.
  2. Using exercise as an excuse to eat. Just because you expended 700 calories at the gym doesn't mean it's a free pass to eat whatever you want. It's never a good idea to eat something with the intention of burning it off later, because too much exercise can lead to overtraining and cause the body to hold onto bodyfat.
  3. Your thyroid is out of whack. Thyroid function is important for metabolism and experts agree that thyroid problems are one of the most undiagnosed problems that hinder weight loss. Your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) should be between 0.5 and 2.0.
  4. Not eating enough nutrient-dense foods. Eating high calorie foods with little nutritional value stimulates your appetite to overeat. Instead focus on eating foods that have lots of nutrients per calorie otherwise known at nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods include lean meats, vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds and high-fiber grains.
  5. You're eating too much sugar without even realizing it. Blatant sugar intake isn't the only dietary misstep; there is also sugar hidden in foods that may be affecting your waistline. Hidden sugar can be found in condiments, fruit-filled yogurt, pasta sauce, soda, dried fruit, snack bars, and energy drinks, to name a few. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is another misleading sugar that is one of the worse for your waistline. HFCS is metabolized in the liver and stimulates fat storage much more than table sugar. HFCS also stimulate sweet cravings more than regular sugar. So read food labels and know how much sugar you're consuming.
  6. You're stressed out. A recent study found that women gain 11 pounds per year when they're under stress. Stress raises cortisol, which breaks down muscle and lowers serotonin, which in turn increases carbohydrate cravings. What's more, increased cortisol lowers stomach acid leading to inefficient nutrient absorption, which in turn stimulates appetite.
  7. You exercise too hard. Too much exercise can actually backfire and can cause the body to weigh-loss plateau. Interval training is best for weight loss and can be successfully accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Be sure to keep cardio to 2 or 4 times a week.
  8. You don't eat enough fat. Your body needs fat to burn fat but the key is choosing the right type of fat to eat. Healthy fats like those found in fish, avocado, grass fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts and seeds are best.
  9. You're vitamin D-deficient. Vitamin D is actually a pro-hormone that is responsible for many of the body's functions and without it, you can't burn off fat. Eat vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, sardines, milk, tofu, mushrooms and eggs. The most accurate way to measure your vitamin D level is with a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Your vitamin D level should be at least 50 ng/mL.
  10. You eat too late. To stimulate the fat-burning hormone, HGH, and promote fat loss, go to bed on an empty stomach. One of the keys to successful weight loss is to extend your fasting period earlier in the night before sleep.
  11. Your body is toxic. Environmental toxins are everywhere and they can actually disrupt your hormones, lower your body temperate and makes your body hold onto fat. To minimize the affects of environmental toxic exposure, eat lots of fiber-rich foods, healthy protein-rich foods, chlorophyll-rich vegetables, and maintain bowel regularity.
  12. You yo-yo diet. Going from one diet craze to another isn't a good way to sustain weight loss. In the long run, "yo-yo" dieting promotes fat storage and increases the chance for cardiovascular disease. Instead of focusing on dieting, focus on your health.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING PLENTY OF WATER

Wellness EducationHere are some remarkable and seldom realized health benefits of drinking lots of water:
  1. Increases energy and relieves fatigue – Drinking plenty of water helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. Your energy level is also improved as a result of being well-hydrated. Even when your energy level drops, drinking 1 to 2 glasses of water can often mitigate the fatigue.
  2. Stimulates weight loss – Extra water consumption especially before meals reduces food consumption by contributing to a sense of fullness or satiety. Water acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Also, drinking lots of water actually raises the body's metabolism allowing you to burn more calories during the day even without extra activity.
  3. Flushes out toxins – Extra water intake helps rid the body of waste and unwanted contaminants through sweat and urination, which reduces the risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTI's).
  4. Improves skin complexion and elasticity – Drinking plenty of water helps moisturize your skin, keeps it soft, glowing and smooth. It also helps reduce wrinkles and premature aging spots. Ample water consumption is one of the best-kept anti-aging secrets today.
  5. Maintains regularity – Getting adequate water intake aids in digestion and helps prevent or relieve constipation.
  6. Boosts immune system – It is proven that people who drink lots of water are less likely to get sick. A well-hydrated body has a stronger immune system and is better capable of fighting invading bacteria and viruses including cold and flu. Furthermore, the blood viscosity of a well-hydrated individual is thinner and therefore less likely to stick to the artery walls thereby reducing the chances of heart attack.
  7. Acts as a natural headache remedy –Drinking plenty of water helps prevent or minimize headaches and other chronic pain including migraines and back pain, which are commonly caused or exasperated by dehydration.
  8. Reduces or prevents muscular cramps and joint sprains - Proper hydration helps keep joints lubricated by improving the cushioning synovial fluid, and it also helps improve muscle fiber elasticity thereby reducing risks of muscular cramping and strains.
  9. Improves overall mood – Considering all the health benefits previously described, one cannot help but feel good and be in a better mood as a result of sufficient hydration.
  10. Helps save money – Water is inexpensive. Even if you choose bottled or filtered water, it is still cheaper than soda, juice, coffee, tea and other high-sugar beverages.

Bottom Line: Make it a point to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses (64 to 80 ounces) of water everyday and in 30 days, see the positive difference it makes.

THE MOST POWERFUL EMOTION

Of all the emotions that stimulate the brain in a positive way, being thankful and showing gratitude is one of the most powerful. A simple and effective way to improve your well-being is to write about all the things you are thankful for. Studies show that people who keep a regular "gratitude" journal are happier, healthier and have fewer visits to the doctor. Today, count your blessings.

THE AMAZING AVOCADO

Wellness EducationThe avocado is one of the most misunderstood fruits found in nature. Most people avoid this amazing food because of its fat content. However, avocados are filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost good cholesterol (HDL). Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten in conjunction with the fruit. This native food from Mexico is one of the top 20 most potent antioxidant foods found in nature. Eating at least 3 servings a week improves brain function and reduces the risk factors associated with heart disease. One serving size equals 1/5 of medium avocado. So go ahead and enjoy your guacamole.

OPTIMUM WELLNESS STARTS WITH YOUR MIND

Wellness EducationThere have been numerous studies done on the traits shared by the most successful people in the world. From Plato to Lincoln, from Gandhi to Edison, they all had one thing in common: They became the masters of their thoughts. Your mind truly is an amazing cognitive instrument that possesses the mysteries of an undiscovered frontier. Universities have proven that we only use about 10 percent of our mind's capacity. I maintain that most people never fully utilize the magnificent power between their ears. But how can you tap into the power of the mind? Can you really design your future merely by controlling your mental cockpit? Why do some people become successful and others become failures as they go through life? Why do some avoid destructive habits like they were the plague, yet others embrace them? The answer lies within you. That's right – Your thoughts are the fuel of your mind's potential. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "You are what you think about all day." Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman emperor once said, "A man's life is what his thoughts make of it." Buddha stated, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought about. The mind is key. What you think about, you become." Positive thoughts create positive habits.

20 TIPS FOR HELPING YOU EAT LESS

One of the healthiest cultures in the world, based on many years of research and extensive longitudinal studies, is Okinawa. For decades, this tiny island off the coast of Japan claims the lowest obesity rate, one of the lowest cancer and heart disease rates and has the highest number of centenarians. One of the main reasons for their extremely good health is the way that they eat. As a whole, Okinawans practice an eating philosophy called Hara Hachi Bu, which means to undereat or avoid eating to fullness. Undereating has been scientifically linked to living longer, aging more slowly, and experiencing better overall health. In our current culture, it is the norm to supersize meals and to overeat. However this is a recipe for a wellness disaster. Eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong foods is essential to overall health, but equally important is eating less at most meals. To help you implement undereating at every meal, here are 20 tips:

Wellness Education
  1. Drink 6 to 8 ounces of water before each meal. This provides a feeling of fullness, thereby reducing the urge to overeat.
  2. Eat slowly and try to chew each bite at least 12 to 18 times before swallowing. This improves digestion and allows the fullness or satiety hormone to minimize overeating.
  3. Eat on a smaller plate. This tricks the brain into eating less food.
  4. Put down your fork after each bite, and pick it up after swallowing.
  5. Minimize drinking alcohol with your meal as alcohol tends to trigger overeating.
  6. Eat at the dinner table. This minimizes distractions and increases mindful eating.
  7. Fill up on plant foods. Vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains provide volume in the stomach.
  8. Don't eat in front of the TV. This creates mindless eating and contributes to overeating.
  9. Know your trigger foods and avoid them. Foods such as processed carbohydrates, junk food and artificial sweeteners stimulate overeating.
  10. Don't eat while driving, standing or in bed. This creates mindless eating and enhances overeating.
  11. Minimize variety at any one meal. Studies show that having a variety of foods at one meal causes people to overeat.
  12. Portion out all food on the plate before starting.
  13. Don't eat out of the serving containers.
  14. Always leave some food on the plate. This fosters a belief that you have plenty of food.
  15. Avoid eating when distressed. Stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which increases fat storage.
  16. Only eat to an "8" on a "1 - 10" fullness scale. Be actively aware of your fullness.
  17. Keep a food journal. Writing down the foods you eat helps to reduce overeating.
  18. Practice mindful eating. Be aware and very intentional of the foods you eat.
  19. Pray! This helps take your focus off of food and puts it onto God.
  20. Remember that it's not in your nature to overeat! The Bible says that we are a new person in Christ and our old worldly nature has been replaced with God's Holy Spirit.

THE HEALTHIEST FOODS

If your goal is to be your healthiest, then what you put into your body is of utmost importance. Below are the world's healthiest foods based on nutrient value, taste, acceptance, availability, affordability and nutrient density. All of these foods have one thing in common – they are whole (God-made) not processed (man-made).

Wellness Education
  • Almonds and walnuts
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Blueberries (and all other berries)
  • Cherries
  • Cold-water fish and/or fish oil
  • Yogurt and kefir
  • Eggs (whole)
  • Flaxseed (best when ground and added to food or mixed in juice)
  • Garlic and onions
  • Ginger
  • Green tea
  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli
  • Lemon and lime
  • Lentils and other beans
  • Oatmeal (old-fashioned steel cut oats are best)
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranates or pomegranate juice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

16 WAYS TO IMPROVE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

How you live and what you eat plays a big role in how you feel. Scientific research shows that diet and lifestyle profoundly influence emotional wellness. Here are several ways to improve your emotional well-being naturally: Wellness Education

  1. Spend plenty of time in nature.
  2. Maintain positive relationships with family and friends.
  3. Engage in relaxation practices regularly like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.
  4. Embrace your faith and spirituality by focusing on love and forgiveness.
  5. Give of yourself and your money to help others.
  6. Be physically active. The more vigorous the activity the better.
  7. Minimize the consumption of processed carbohydrates and fast foods.
  8. Consume omega 3 rich foods including cold-water fish, omega 3 eggs, walnuts, hemp, chia & flax seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
  9. Achieve and maintain a healthy bodyweight.
  10. Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables which helps reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been linked to depression.
  11. Get plenty of vitamin D through safe sun exposure and eating vitamin D-rich foods like cold-water fish, fortified dairy products, green leafy vegetables, eggs, or by taking a quality vitamin D supplement.
  12. Eat lots of magnesium-rich foods such as green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and wheat germ.
  13. Increase your intake of tryptophan-rich foods like turkey, whole soy foods, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy products.
  14. Include folate-rich foods in your diet regularly like green vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, wheat germ, tomato-rich products, oranges, nuts, seeds, whole soy foods, parsley and beets sources.
  15. Include vitamin B-12 rich foods in your diet regularly like green leafy vegetables, low-fat dairy products, fish, and shellfish. Taking a B-12 supplement is always an option especially for people older than 50.
  16. Avoid sugary beverages and artificially sweetened sodas.
  17. Use anti-inflammatory herbs and spices regularly in your foods like turmeric, curry, ginger, cinnamon and rosemary.

HELPFUL WELLNESS TIDBITS

Wellness Education
  • The Power of Lavender: To ease stress and have a better night's sleep, soak in a hot bath spiked with a few drops of lavender essential oil near bedtime. If a bath is not your forte, then sprinkle a few drops of lavender on your pillow. The scent of lavender is a natural and healthy stress reliever and will help you fall asleep faster.
  • Try Tea Tree Oil: Tree tea oil, which is an extract from the leaves of an Australian tree, appears to have antiseptic properties and may work as well if not better than over-the-counter antifungal products for treating cuts, skin rashes and Athlete's foot. Apply a light coating of the oil to affected areas two to three times a day and continue for a week or two after symptoms disappear.
  • Eat Avocados: For dry skin, incorporate avocado into your diet. They're rich in monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, both of which promote healthy skin. Try them on salads, sandwiches and even in smoothies.
  • Watch Your Carbs: Trying to reduce belly fat? Pay attention to your carbohydrate intake and avoid artificial sweeteners. Sugary snacks and other refined carbs spike blood sugar and cause pounds to settle in your midsection. Choose whole grains, beans and vegetables instead.
  • Make Small Talk: Engaging in casual conversation with others may help keep you as sharp as doing a crossword puzzle, according to some studies. Just 10 minutes of daily chatter appears to improve mental function and preserve memory.
  • Cayenne Pepper Warms Cold Feet: To warm up cold feet, sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper into your socks. This folk remedy may help warm your toes by increasing circulation and improving blood flow.
  • Honey For Your Cough: Research suggests that honey may be more effective than over-the-counter cough syrup at suppressing nighttime coughing. Use a medicinal-grade variety such as Manuka honey and take up to 2 teaspoons at bedtime.
  • Rub Your Temples With Peppermint: Tame tension headaches by rubbing peppermint oil, Tiger Balm, or white flower oil onto your temples. All three remedies contain menthol, which has analgesic properties.

WHAT IS THE OPTIMAL TIME TO IMPLEMENT THESE HEALTH HABITS?

When is the best time of day for working out? How about the best time for meditating or eating breakfast or checking your body weight? Based on the latest scientific research, here is a helpful guide for the timing of your daily wellness habits.

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  1. The best time to weigh is in the morning. If you want to get an accurate measure of your body weight, it is best to weigh first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything and after you visit the restroom. Weighing at any other time of day will provide a less accurate body weight measurement, as people tend to weigh more later in the day due to fluid retention and excess glycogen storage. You are the leanest and lightest first thing in the morning.
  2. The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Exercising in the morning revs up your metabolism, burns body fat and continues to burn fat at a much higher rate throughout the day. Working out on an empty stomach in the morning stimulates the body to break down adipose fat more efficiently than at any other time of day. It also increases blood flow to the brain resulting in improved concentration and heightened mental acuity throughout the day. Early bird exercisers are more likely to stick with a morning exercise routine because there is less distraction and minimal time demands at this time of day. Exercising in the morning also helps regulate your internal biological clock and contributes to better sleep patterns. One of the healthiest habits you can implement is exercising in the morning before breakfast.
  3. The best time to eat your first meal of the day is right after your morning workout. There is no other time of day when your body needs vital nutrients more than in the morning after a vigorous workout. A healthy breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day, because it interrupts the all-night fasting state and gives your body the necessary nutrients it needs to "jump start" the day. Eating breakfast also optimizes two very important hormones, Leptin and Gherlin, which help to control appetite throughout the day. Studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast regularly are five times less likely to become obese.
  4. The best time to take a fiber supplement is with the last meal of the day. Fiber is vital for good health and supplementing fiber is necessary for many people who do not get the recommended 30 grams of fiber a day. For best results, take a fiber supplement with your last meal of the day, as this allows more time for the fiber to cleanse the colon while you are sleeping.
  5. The best time to abstain from food is before bedtime. For optimum nutrition, it is beneficial to eat every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. However, studies show that going to bed on an empty stomach increases the production of Human Growth Hormone or HGH. Human Growth Hormone incites fat burning, stimulates muscle building and slows the aging process. For a leaner, healthier, younger "you," go to bed on an empty stomach.
  6. The best time to meditate is right before you go to sleep. Practicing meditation at any time of day is extremely beneficial, however, bedtime is the most optimum time to do so. Proper meditation helps prime the brain and condition the mind for a more restful sleep. Your mind is more receptive to goal setting, visualization, success conditioning and meditating on God's Word at bedtime. Therefore, for optimum health, practice meditation before you go to sleep every night.
  7. The best time to wakeup and go to sleep is the same time every day including weekends. Of all the studies on improving the quality of your sleep, it is determined that waking up and going to bed at the same time everyday is one of the healthiest habits to implement. Of course, getting 7 or more hours of sleep is essential, but maintaining a consistent sleep/wake cycle is just as important. Try to wakeup and go to sleep at the same time everyday even on weekends.

MEASURE YOUR PHYSICAL WELLNESS

Wellness EducationHow can you measure physical wellness? Is body mass index (BMI) a good indicator of wellness? What about body-fat percent? How about blood pressure or fasting blood glucose? Is cholesterol a good measure of wellness? Well, all of these measurements can tell you a lot about your health and should be measured regularly? However, based on extensive studies there are two indicators that best predict your overall physical wellness.

One measurement is your waist circumference. Waist circumference is strongly associated with abdominal fat, which is an independent predictor of many disease risks. Your waist circumference, which is measured across your belly button, is the simplest and one of the best predictors of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other leading diseases. Data shows that women with a waist circumference of less than 35 inches and men less than 40 inches have a much lesser chance of developing chronic diseases compared to those with greater waist circumferences. Bottom line, know your waist circumference and do something about it if it is too high.

Another measure of wellness is a comprehensive blood panel. Your blood is one of the best indicators of what is happening in the 60 trillion cells of your body. Millions of adults, even those who appear healthy, live with undetected illnesses many months or even years before they manifest themselves. An appropriate blood panel assessment gives you information to help you make decisions that impact your health and change your life.

There are biomarkers in your blood that could indicate many conditions and diseases including: cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke, cancer, metabolic disorders such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disease including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, viral and bacterial infections, hormonal imbalance including menopause and testosterone deficiency, thyroid deficiency and nutritional deficiencies.

To help you measure your physical wellness to a greater degree, I recommend the following blood panel to be done at least twice a year:

  1. 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D
  2. C-Reactive Protein
  3. Cholesterol
  4. Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  5. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  6. DHEA-S
  7. Estrogen (Women only)
  8. Fasting Blood Sugar
  9. HgA1c
  10. Homocysteine
  11. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Level
  12. Progesterone (Women only)
  13. PSA (Men only)
  14. Testosterone (Total & Free)(Men only)
  15. Thyroid (TSH, T3)

Knowledge is power! And knowing the status of your physical wellness is indeed crucial to living a more abundant life (John 10:10).

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