Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Loneliness is Toxic to Mind and Body Health

"Time alone is often a beneficial time to gather thoughts and reflect. Some view solitude as an important path to spiritual growth. However, when time alone transcends into loneliness and isolation, the stage may be set for an early decline in physical health." Read more.

Alzheimer’s Vaccine is Effective in Mice.

An article that appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience showed a vaccine developed to counteract the substance involved in Alzheimer's disease was effective in slowing the development of the substance involved with Alzheimer's disease in mice. Read more

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gratitude is the Foundation for Healing Your Mind and Body

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful."


We are so obsessed with attaining a certain status in our lives that we ignore the little things that make life comfortable for us. We fret over our work, the traffic jams as well as the monotony in our lives and ignore what is important to us.

Happiness eludes us when we do not appreciate the little things in our life. Just as the little drops of water can cause a flood, so can the appreciation of little things in our lives bring us happiness. Expressing gratitude for being healthy when we wake up in the morning, for the sun in the horizon, for the red rose in our garden and for the birds chirping on the tree behind our house give us much to distract us from other disappointments that can give us stress and make us sick.

The practice of gratitude in our daily lives is meditation in itself. It is a buffer for self-pity from life's disappointments. There is no life without some unfulfilled dreams. To live is to learn to walk away from those moments of disappointments and take the higher ground. To overcome your disappointments, replace them with the little things that make your life run seamlessly. For, by turning the other cheek towards the sun in the horizon, your tears would dry up. Therefore, in your daily prayers, practice the art of gratitude, the balm that will heal your wounds. This ancient secret of happiness is worth more than gold.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Melodie Beattie

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Self-care is Your Passport to a Healthy Mind and Healthy Body

"The problem is not
that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that
having problems is a problem. "
Theodore Rubin

"We must embrace
pain and burn it as fuel for our journey."
Miyazawa Kenji

I see many patients who want pills for weight loss, conflicts they are having at work, home and with their relationships. To these patients the elixir they purchase at the pharmacy is the panacea for all their woes. They perceive the solution for these daily problems to be outside themselves and find allies in their physicians who are ready to give them the most recent pill to dissolve their fat, to solve their workplace crisis, to reset the tepid temperature in their marriage and to give them the applause they never got after their last job performance evaluation. Yet in spite of the pills, the fat does not go away without exercise and mindful eating, the marriage still stays cold. Similarly, the atmosphere in the workplace remains harmful.

You cannot solve these myriad problems with the pill alone. The solution comes mainly from within you. Self-care is your armor for defeating these negative feelings that cripple and sap your energy and prevent you to cope and heal. The following are some of the self-care characteristics that can help you soar like an eagle even when the going gets tough:

  • Develop your self-confidence so that you can stand shoulder to shoulder with your friends without you feeling inferior. There will always be people who are better than you are. However, you should also remember that you might have talents that others do not have. Know them as your strengths and emphasize them. Those special talents will give you confidence, boost your self-esteem and give you wings to fly.

  • Do not be rigid like the branches of the large oak tree that break during the storm. The branches are not flexible and try to stay rigid, defying the storm, which ultimately overcomes the stubbornness of the branches and rip them into pieces. The tall grass, learning from their ancestors, sway in the direction of the wind. They quickly regain their original posture when the storms abate because they go with the flow. While waiting for the storm to abate, they lose none of their characteristics. Flexibility in all your transactions is therefore a virtue that will keep you in the game and give you strength to cope.

  • Continue reading and learning new things, sometimes not related to your profession or your job. This is a source of self-confidence. It also improves the way you look at the world. With self-confidence, your esteem and motivation go up. It is thus easier for you to go with the flow and bounce back when your situation changes.

  • Maintain your social links. Studies show that in time of stress, social support is beneficial.

  • If you have religion in your life, pursue it with all your heart as it is a source of equanimity and peace of mind and gives you a meaning for your existence. However, religion in itself will not help. Religion without spirituality is more harmful. The spirituality gives you the peace of mind and keeps you healthy."
"I'm convinced that we can write and live our own scripts more
than most people will acknowledge. I also know the price that must be paid. It's
a real struggle to do it. It requires visualization and affirmation. It involves
living a life of integrity, starting with making and keeping promises, until the
whole human personality the senses, the thinking, the feeling, and the intuition
are ultimately integrated and harmonized"
Steven Covey

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Stress Can Cause Obesity. Combat Stress to Help You Loose Weight and Keep You Healthy.

Stress can cause many diseases. The ability to manage stress is important to our survival. Obesity is an epidemic in the world. According to the WHO estimates, the number of obese people will double to 700 million in 2012 from 200 million in 2005. It is one of the most difficult diseases to treat. Many patients with obesity have other family members with obesity. During stress, the body releases a chemical called neuropeptide Y or NPY that is linked with appetite, weight gain and obesity. A team of researchers led by Zofia Zukowska of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington found that neurotransmitter NPY can 'unlock' Y2 receptors in the body's fat cells, to promote growth of the cells in size and number.

During the study, the scientists first stressed the mice, and then fed half of them with a normal mouse diet and the other half with a high fat, high sugar diet, equivalent to human junk food. After examining the mice, researchers found stressed mice gained twice as much fat as those that consumed the same high-calorie diet. Surprisingly, the stressed mice did not store weight when they blocked or removed the gene.

NPY induces the growth of immature fat cells, coaxes mature fat cells to get bigger and promotes blood vessels necessary to sustain fat tissue. The stressed out junk food eaters gained the largest amount of fat, deposited around their abdomen, developed high blood pressure, early diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. In humans, this type of obesity would translate into the apple shape type of obesity.

How can one fight this kind of disease? The following are suggestions that can help:

  • Find time to exercise. When you are under stress, you tend to lose motivation to do many things that may help you, such as exercising because the stress may cause depression. Exercise is an antidote for stress.
  • Practice mindfulness. This meditation practice will make you live one day at a time so that you do not stress yourself about, say, you job interview tomorrow. This is because being scared about tomorrow is crippling and makes your condition worse. Living moment by moment is not easy to practice. However, like everything else, practice brings perfection. Remember, you are human and will slip many times. However, when you slip gently go back and practice going with the flow.
  • Be flexible and do not be rigid. Be like the water flowing over rocks. The water flows seamlessly and conforms to the shapes of the rocks on which it travels. It does not struggle to maintain its shape all the time. It adapts and cooperates because all it wants to do is to get to its destination without trying to proof anything to anybody. Its motto is "just get me there."
  • If you confront a stressful situation, try to find the meaning in your suffering. That way, you will find it easier to hang in the trenches with the hope that the night would not last forever. If you have the Devine in your life, it helps to talk to Her. Having the Devine on your side helps you build resilience and gives you hope.
  • Watch your diet, because food is medicine. Even if you have stress and you take the right food, you would be healthy.