Monthly Archives: April 2015

Mood Boosting Foods

The article “Eat Your Way to Happy: The Mood-Boosting Benefits of Food” found in Yoga Journal is one of my favorite articles I have read in the passed few months. As I am a part of both the mental health and yoga communities, this speaks to me on both levels.

The opening paragraph gives the example of a 27 year old woman named Andria Gutierrez who felt mentally clouded, anxious, depressed and fatigued. She was diagnosed with anxiety and was prescribed medication. However, Gutierrez sought a few other opinions and it was suggested to her to change her diet. Gutierrez began to eat clean by focusing on veggies, fruits and grains. She no longer consumed refined grains, meat or sugars. Gutierrez reported all previous existing symptoms to be extinguished.

As we come into this awareness of food affecting mood, a new field of study has been created called nutritional psychiatry. The idea that the mind and body are separate is now realized as false. The mind and body are very much connected into wholeness. What we consume and put into our body does affect the brain and neural chemistry.

The article sites three more studies from the U.S., Australia and Norway. These studies suggest that when individuals more whole foods and less processed foods that the diagnoses of anxiety, depression and bi-polar are less likely. Evidence also suggests that food may affect other disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder. However, most studies find the biggest correlation in the risk of depression.

As a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in NYC, Drew Ramsey, MD, recalls a patient of his that was suffering from depression and anxiety. The patient’s diet was very scattered and severely lacked in fruits and vegetables. After a year of treatment, which included an entire revamp of his diet, the patient reported the depression to be gone. (Note: diet is a part of treatment; always consult with your doctor before terminating medication).

The article gives several examples down to the molecular level of how food affects mood. For example: “Oxidative stress on brain cells likely plays a role, too. “Your brain is burning enormous amounts of glucose [blood sugar] for energy, and just like when you burn gas in a car and there is exhaust, when you burn fuel in the brain there’s a type of ‘exhaust’: free radicals,” says Ramsey. “Over time, those free radicals damage your cells—and that’s oxidative stress.” Build up enough damage, and it can affect emotion by interfering with the way your brain cells function. Brain cells and the signals they send to each other are part of what creates emotion and mood. So if the cells are unhealthy and damaged, the signals they send become muddled or irregular, and you end up with disorders like depression and anxiety. Antioxidants like vitamins C, E, and beta carotene, and flavonoids like quercetin and anthocyanidins (found in dark berries), have been shown to help prevent and repair oxidative stress.”

Not only are the affects of food found in the brain but also in our gut. We have “good” bacterium that lines our gut to help with signals between the body and brain. The article states: “One way these bacteria benefit the brain is by helping to keep intact the gut lining, which is full of nerve cells that constantly send messages to the brain. The gut lining also acts as a barrier to toxins and aids digestion so your brain is protected from bad stuff while still getting needed nutrients. But overwhelm the gut lining with the wrong foods—processed sugars, some cured meats (like deli meats), trans fats, and processed, white-flour carbohydrates—and it can become inflamed and start to break down, says Selhub, adding, “And we know that more inflammation is associated with more mood disorders, including depression.”

So, how can we avoid treating our bodies harshly? Here are some tips:

  1. Exclude anything processed. This can include dairy, meats or certain grains. Return to the Mediterranean Diet of fresh fruits, (dark colorful berries), vegetables, (dark leafy greens), lean protein and whole grains.
  2. Incorporate more fermented foods for your gut lining such as yogurt, kombucha, kimchi or sauerkraut.
  3. Avoid junk food, (of course), especially trans fats and artificial sugars. The article states that junk food messes with our good bacteria in the gut lining which results in a negative cycle of craving more of it and increasing depression.
  4. Increase consumption of seafood. We want those Omega-3s found in salmon, tuna, halibut, and shrimp.
  5. Concentrate on foods high in Vitamin B and D. “Spinach, black-eyed peas, and asparagus are packed with folate; seafood, beef, and dairy have lots of B12; and D can be found in salmon, tuna, liver, milk, and eggs.”

For more detailed info about our molecules, neurons, and bacteria, (which is really cool), explore below:

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/clean-eating/eat-way-happy-food-mood-boosting-effects/

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Accessible Yoga

As we all know, yoga has become extremely popular now in America. However, I’m sure if you think about who does yoga, a certain image may arise in your mind. Maybe some slender, muscular male or female balancing on their hands. What about everyone else? Especially individuals with any type of disability. I found an article that addresses this issue. There is an upcoming first annual accessible yoga conference in Santa Barbara, CA. The founder of the accessible yoga movement, Jivana Heyman, is interviewed in this article. 

Quick summary:

  • This conference will center on the awareness of adaptive yoga for individuals with disabilities or chronic illness.
  • The mission is to share yoga with everyone. It’s not just a physical practice.
  • Adaptive yoga students and yoga teachers will be attending the conference in order to build & empower the community.
  • Teachers and adaptive students will be trained first hand from the experts at the conference.
  • Learning to attend to the needs of adaptive yoga students.
  • Debunking the popular image of the yogi. Yoga is for all bodies.
  • Sponsors will be present & addressing the issue of affordable yoga teacher training.

If you would like to go to the conference or get involved in this movement click the link below:

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-first-annual-accessible-yoga-conference-brings-adaptive-yoga-to-the-for

Categories: Relaxation Space, Yoga & Meditation | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Golden Earthworm

Golden Earthworm

 

Looking for an affordable way to take in veggies and fruits without spending a ton of money AND support local organic farmers?

Check out Golden Earthworm and begin to change the way you feed your—Self on all levels.

Body-Mind-Spirit.


On the Earthworm…

“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” ~Charles Darwin 1881

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Cobra Pose vs. Upward Facing Dog

If you’re looking to perfect your yoga practice, here are some great tips! I found a video from Yoga Journal that explains the difference of moving into Cobra pose or Upward Facing Dog during a Vinyasa flow (Downward Facing Dog, inhaling to Plank Pose, exhaling Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, exhale Downward Facing Dog), and which is appropriate for you. I’ve noticed in some of my yoga classes, while moving through a Vinyasa flow the teacher will say move to Cobra or Upward Dog. What’s the difference?! Which pose is appropriate for you?

First let’s run through Cobra Pose:

Beginning with the feet:

  • Tops of the feet are anchored to the ground
  • The thighs and the hips are pressing down into the earth
  • The elbows are slightly bent
  • Shoulders are back and down away from the ears allowing for the heart to be open

Compare to Upward Facing Dog:

Beginning with the feet:

  • Tops of the feet are anchored to the ground
  • The thighs and hips are lifted from the earth
  • The arms are straight & wrists directly below the shoulders
  • Shoulders are back and down away from the ears; heart is open

When should you do one or the other? That answer depends on where you are in your yoga practice. If you’re able to move from Chaturanga Dandasana without your hips or legs touching the ground, then Upward Dog may be a choice for you. If moving from Chaturanga Dandasana to Upward Dog seems to be too challenging for you, then lower your body completely to the Earth for Cobra Pose.

Always remember, it’s not about what you look like, it’s how you feel. Do what you can & your journey will unfold in its own time.

I suggest checking out the video to receive the full visual. Enjoy!

http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/cobra-pose-vs-upward-facing-dog-vinyasa-yoga/

Categories: Relaxation Space, Yoga & Meditation | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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