Restorative Strategies

What are you going to do this weekend? How about implementing a new strategy to de-stress like never before? Almost a year ago I mentioned how to use your breathing to help you unwind. Belly breathing, box breathing, and the 4-7-8 breathing are great options for relaxing on the spot. Exercise is definitely at the top of the list too. As explained in my previous post, you want to “build your day around movement.” You want to make sure you are engaging in regular physical activity throughout the day, each day.

So, here are 5 more restorative strategies (as defined in Ancient Remedies by Dr. Josh Axe) that you may find just right for you to start implementing:

Walking in Nature

If you immerse yourself in nature, be it a nearby park, a forest, or a body of water, it can help lower stress, enhance your mood, boost creativity, and even strengthen your immune system. This is a popular way to de-stress in Japan, where it is known as “forest bathing.” Immersing yourself in nature releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Positive thinking and gratitude are sure to follow.

Relaxation and Downtime

To avoid burnout, you need to build calming and relaxing breaks into your day. At lunch, go outside and sit peacefully on a bench, just enjoying the present moment. Nothing else to keep your mind busy. And letting your mind wander relieves stress and promotes creative problem-solving. At night, read a book, knit in a quiet place, play an instrument, or listen to music you love, for instance.

Digital Fasting

Technology use has been associated with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. So do your best to implement a digital or social media fast every now and then, be it for an hour, a day, a weekend, or a week. This will allow your brain and body to enjoy a little restorative break and put you in a nice relaxing state.

Grounding and Earthing

Grounding yourself is to connect physically to the earth which emits electric charges that have a beneficial effect on the body. When you walk barefoot outside, lie on the grass or the beach, or swim in a lake or ocean, this promotes a number of benefits: increased red blood cell fluidity, decreased muscle pain after exercise, and lowered stress, depression, and fatigue.

Rain, Ocean, and Other Nature Sounds

Nature sounds have a tendency to give rise to a relaxing, parasympathetic nervous system response, and help with lessening heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. The sounds of streams, birdsong, and fountains enhance cognitive performance, for example. So pick a playlist, app, or find a YouTube video that offers nature sounds and enjoy these whenever you get a chance.

Which strategy will you try this weekend? 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

You can also find me on Instagram.

Reference
Axe, Josh. Ancient Remedies : Secrets to Healing with Herbs, Essential Oils, CBD, and the Most Powerful Natural Medicine in History. New York, Little, Brown Spark, Feb. 2021, pp. 176-183.

Biohacking: What is it? 

Last Saturday, I attended the second Virtual Biohacking Conference hosted by Dave Asprey. It was just as interesting and enriching as the first one, with renowned speakers talking about a variety of topics such as cellular regeneration, fasting, metabolism, sleep, longevity, resilience, brain cognition, nutrition, meditation, functional medicine, the science of energy, and stress control. As explained by Dave Asprey, biohacking is “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you so you have full control of your own biology.” Biohacking is about using the available science to make informed choices that will lead to a better you! What follows are 8 biohacks most “biohackers” implement progressively. These were mentioned at the conference in a talk by Nicole Petersen, RD.

Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be done by skipping meals, time-restricted eating, alternate-day fasts, or multi-day fasts. Fasting has been shown to help with weight loss, blood glucose control, and a cellular cleanup process called autophagy which may help promote longevity.

Sleep 

Consistent good-quality sleep is needed for your body to repair and your brain to clean itself of toxins. As mentioned in a previous post, to improve your chances of having a good night sleep, you may want to do the following: do not drink coffee after 2 p.m. (for most people), limit your exposure to blue and bright light at night (different software -like f.lux– and blue-blocking glasses are available), and sleep in a room that is fairly cold (around 60 to 67-68 degrees Fahrenheit) and pitch-dark. To get more tips on how to establish and maintain a normal circadian rhythm, check out this very informative Huberman Lab podcast

Cold

Regular exposure to cold may allow your body to burn more fat, help with recovery after exercise, and enhance your immune system and mood. So give it a try! It can be taking a cold shower (just a few seconds at first is fine), swimming in a cold body of water, or using a cryotherapy chamber. Exposure to cold can make you feel so energized and alert!

Light 

Adequate sunlight exposure helps with sleep, mood, and allows your body to synthesize vitamin D. Vitamin D3 helps with inflammation in the body, boosts proper immune cell function, and aids with optimal insulin production. Aside from the full spectrum of light you get from the sun, there is also red light therapy (at about 600 nm wavelength). The latter may help with mitochondrial function, increase circulation, and lessen inflammation. Light is a nutrient we definitely want to take advantage of (in a responsible way, of course).

Food  

The food you eat has a great biological impact on your body. Food provides nutrients and energy. It also encodes information (instructions telling your body what to do). The great news is that we have full control over what we eat (or do not eat) every day. See which foods are the most beneficial to you and eliminate the ones that make you weak.

Supplements  

You may choose to buy a few supplements too depending on your needs and goals. Make sure the supplements you select are from trusted sources and definitively consult your personal physician beforehand.

Movement

We are meant to be active, engaging in regular physical activity throughout the day, each day. This means any type of movement depending on your preferences and routine. The main idea is to “build your day around movement.” It can be a morning stroll, strength training, HIIT, shifting positions throughout the day (if at a desk at work, for instance), etc. Regular physical activity is shown to help with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several cancers. It further helps with hypertension, keeping a healthy body weight, enhancing mental health, quality of life, and well-being.

Breath   

Learning how to breathe consciously will help you become more calm, present, and centered. You want to breathe in and out through the nose, doing belly/diaphragmatic breaths at a slow pace (6-12 breaths per minute) and in a rhythmic way. Beyond this basic breathing pattern, there are numerous breathing exercises you may want to experiment with to have a better handle on your autonomic nervous system. Deep breathing techniques can aid with lowering heart rate and salivary cortisol levels, enhancing mood, and lessening stress.

Now the choice is yours: which biohack will you implement first? 

And don’t forget meditation and gratitude!

Until next time!

A Wider Range of Vegetables

Time to grow our own garden again and/or shop at farmers markets!  We can finally start to enjoy a wider range of vegetables. Depending on where you live, the spring vegetables available may differ. If you are not sure what the best in-season picks may be, a helpful seasonal food guide can be downloaded at foodprint.org. With that said, here’s a list of 7 fantastic spring vegetables.

Artichokes

Artichokes have a high antioxidant content (which may help prevent cancer); they are high in vitamins C, and K, iron and other essential minerals, and high in fiber and phytonutrients. Consuming artichokes may help fight cardiovascular disease, detox the liver and the digestive system, control blood sugar and diabetes, and may help with metabolic syndrome too. Artichokes taste better cooked: steamed, boiled, grilled, baked, or roasted.

Asparagus 

Asparagus offers many essential nutrients, including vitamins K and A, folate, iron, copper, and B vitamins, plus antioxidants and certain amino acids. It is a good source of fiber too. Asparagus helps support heart health and skin health and may help with fighting cancer too. Asparagus can be roasted, blanched, baked, grilled, or sauteed.

Avocados

Avocados are high in fiber, vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocados may help with heart health, lower blood sugar levels, support eye health, enhance digestive health, and may help lower inflammation, among other things. Avocados are great as a snack, in salads, or smoothies.

Celeriac

Celeriac, a  root vegetable, is high in fiber, vitamins K and C, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and antioxidants. Celeriac may help improve digestive health, blood sugar control, fight free radicals, and may help support stronger bones too. Celeriac can be eaten raw or cooked. You can add it to salads, slaws, or make veggie chips or fries with it, for instance.

Fennel

Fennel is high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Fennel also contains vitamins A, B6, K, and folate, plus iron, calcium, copper, zinc, and selenium. Fennel may help support cardiovascular health, improve skin and eye health, and boost digestion and bone health. It may also help with inflammation and with preventing cancer. The whole plant can be eaten (bulb, leaves, and seeds). With its unique licorice-like flavoring, fennel can be added to salads, slaws, and other dishes.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens, which are from the same plant we get mustard seeds from, have high levels of antioxidants. Packed with phytonutrients, mustard greens are also high in fiber, vitamins K, A, and C, plus folate, calcium, and potassium. Mustard greens may help with liver function, eye and skin health. They can help better digestion and may help prevent cancer and heart disease, for instance. With their spicy taste, these antioxidant-rich greens can be included in salads, soups, sauteed, or even juiced with other vegetables.

Watercress

Watercress is a leafy green cruciferous vegetable, high in antioxidants, fiber, calcium, vitamins A, K, and C. Watercress may help with lowering blood pressure, lessening inflammation, and could help with certain types of cancer. It may help with bone health, vision, hair, skin, and nails. This powerhouse veggie can be added to salads, soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and sandwiches.

All you have to do now is include these delicious vegetables in your favorite recipes!

Until next time!

References:

Levy, Jillian. “7 Reasons to Eat Artichokes.” Dr. Axe, 24 July 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/artichokes/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

—. “Asparagus Nutrition, Health Benefits, Risks and Recipes.” Dr. Axe, 19 Aug. 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/asparagus-nutrition/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

—. “The Antioxidant Greens That Support the Eyes, Bones and More.” Dr. Axe, 24 Aug. 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/mustard-greens-nutrition/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Link, Rachael. “Calories in Avocado: Nutrition Facts and Diet Advice.” Dr. Axe, 14 Mar. 2020, draxe.com/nutrition/avocado-calories/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

—. “Can Watercress Fight Cancer?” Dr. Axe, 9 Jan. 2020, draxe.com/nutrition/watercress/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

—. “The Low-Calorie, Low-Carb Root Vegetable That Benefits the Gut.” Dr. Axe, 23 Nov. 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/celeriac/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Ruggeri, Christine. “What Is Fennel? Benefits, Nutrition, Uses and Recipes.” Dr. Axe, 16 Dec. 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/fennel-benefits/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

“Top 10 Spring Vegetables.” Mark’s Daily Apple, 25 Mar. 2008, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/spring-vegetables/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.