Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quelling Stress & Anxiety Attacks

Three years ago, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a survey about stress, and found that 1/3 of all Americans reported feeling "extreme" levels of stress, with 1/5 of Americans experiencing this stress 15 days or more a month.

As of 2010, more than 75% of Americans are suffering with some form of stress-related condition, which may manifest as anything from slowly increasing blood pressure, or irrational emotional agitation to a full blown stress attack that makes life unbearable. Add to this the fact that 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and that anxiety frequently co-occurs with both stress and depression, and the epidemic of stress in America becomes clear.

Many Houston-area doctors and psychiatrists recommend courses of drug treatments or cognitive therapy to cope with these stress or anxiety attacks, and in some cases, these can be beneficial tools for healthy living. From a whole-health wellness perspective, however, there a number of non-medical techniques that can be employed in order to reduce stress and anxiety attacks.

First, consider your diet. The way in which Americans consume foods, and the types that they eat, has changed significantly in the last century. Often lacking in a typical American diet can be essential vitamins, especially those of the "B" complex. A lack of vitamin B1 can produce symptoms such as aggressiveness and agitation, while using a supplement of B3 can have a calming effect. Just remember to consult your doctor before considering “alternative” uses of supplements for medical conditions.

Another area to review would be your levels of exercise. Exercising can reduce the level of so-called "stress hormones" such as cortisol, and increase endorphin levels in the body, leading to a "natural high". However, too much of a good thing can also be bad. So use common sense and moderation when choosing your form of exercise.

While physical exercise is beneficial – it is still a “stressor” to the body. Attempting to do too much at once will result in more stress than was originally present, and may make attacks worse. For help in determining your optimum level of exercise and formulating a program the best suits your needs, consider hiring a professional personal trainer, wellness coach or massage therapist. These professionals can identify and address the habits that lead to stress, and help you change them gradually over time.

And always remember: Wellness is not a luxury, it's a neccesity.

Live Life Well,
John Aaron


Friday, August 13, 2010

How To Boost Your Energy By Eating Fresh

Part of whole-life wellness, weight loss, and fitness is having the energy to accomplish your goals, and a large part of this energy comes from food. Unfortunately, Americans all over the country, and in and around Houston (twice known as the "Fattest City in America," by Men's Health Magazine), are caught in the trap of easy-to-eat, but hard-to-digest foods.

The culprits: fast foods and soft drinks that are high calorie, instant-energy boosters. Such foods can lead to long-term problems like weight gain, and short-term effects like bloating and lethargy after the initial energy high wears off.

In order to strike a balance between nutrition and energy, fresh food in the form of vegetables, fruit, and locally produced meat products can be a viable choice.

According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a lack of fresh food available in a neighborhood hurts the health of residents.

This 2010 study dealt with 73,000 residents in 60 communities that had no local full-service grocery store. In these communities, only one store out of every 89 - most of them convenience stores and gas stations - had fresh food available for purchase. This lack of fresh food has led not only to poor health and fitness for members of these communities, but also a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

A four-year European study by researchers at Newcastle University in England, meanwhile, has confirmed what many of us already knew about the value of organic fresh food: it is more nutritious. Organically grown vegetables and milk have anywhere from 40 to 60 percent more antioxidants than their non-organic counterparts, which aid in preventing the damage caused by free radicals.

In short, fresh food matters. It is an integral part of any wellness plan and can help jump-start a fitness program by supplying the kind of long-term, sustainable energy and nutrition the body needs.

Remember: "Wellness is not a luxury, it's a necessity."

Live Life Well,

John Aaron