How To Take Care Of Your Lungs

We expose our lungs to constant strain, especially if we live in big cities. I remember in med school how I looked at lungs of people living in congested parts of the city (such as London when the air was filled with smog), and was horrified by the amount of soot accumulated in the tissue of the lungs. If you think about it, this is a natural consequence, as the lungs work as a filtration system. Optimally, only clean air is allowed to pass from the lungs and into the bloodstream, where oxygen is then transported to all the cells of the body. Furthermore, carbon monoxide is taken up into the blood stream, and expelled through the lungs. We know that the lungs are affected by the amount of toxins they are exposed to, and may eventually lead to inflammation and damage to the lung tissue. It is therefore advisable to know how to best take care of these precious organs.

Through digging deep into the ground and analyzing the different eras we now know that around 100 million years ago (when dinosaurs wandered the earth) the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere was around 35 %. Around 10 million years ago there was an enormous forest fire, that may be partly responsible for the reduction of oxygen concentration in the air. But chances are that the biggest change occurred during the industrial revolution, as the air quality decreased in the cities as a consequence of fossil fuel emission into the atmosphere. Since then we have had a poorer quality in the air we breathe, with oxygen concentrations usually around 20%. The lack of oxygen in the air is particularly evident in big cities, and has been measured as low as 10% in densely populated cities like Mexico City. Even so, there are ways to compensate for this, such as creating big parks in the middle of densely populated cities. This morning I strolled along Central Park in New York City, and thought to myself how mindful the architects of this big metropole had been in creating such a green lung smack in the middle of it all.

So, back to how to take care of your lungs. One sign that the lungs are inflamed is the production of mucus buildup, with coughing up of thicker mucus. If this is to happen, it is time to cleanse the lungs. Here are my recommendations on how to take care of your lungs:

  • Start the day with fresh lemon water, preferably with honey. This will not only detoxify the body, but also treat a buildup of mucus in the lungs.
  • Ingest turmeric root. For optimal effect for the lungs, it is advisable to ingest a small part of the fresh turmeric root, either by chewing it, or having it in a juice.
  • To expel mucus, eat a few pieces of pineapple or drink pineapple juice on an empty stomach. If this is done consistently over a course of two weeks, it usually relieves symptoms of excess mucus.
  • Drink chamomile tea. This has a general effect to soothe inflammation, and works particularly well for the lungs. Besides, it has a soothing effect on the nervous system, which in turn lower the blood pressure, and allow you to breathe with more ease.
  • Other herbs that may have a curative effect for the lungs are garlic, horseradish and ginger.
    • Garlic has a wide range of medicinal properties, the main effect for the lungs is the ability to cleanse and detoxify free radicals, toxins and other irritants, in addition to work as an antibacterial and antifungal therapy.
    • If you look at Chinese medicine, horseradish is a good herbal tonic for the lungs, just be careful not to overconsume this herb, due to its pungency.
    • Ginger is also an excellent herb, especially in cases of too much coldness in the body. Making a ginger tea, by steeping freshly cut ginger in hot water for 10 minutes, and then adding a small portion of raw honey to it is a very good way to expel some bacterial infections.
  • Some supplements that work very good for the lungs are zinc, vitamin c and Echinacea. In cases of lung problems, taking a regular supplement of 25 mg zinc, 1000 mg vitamin C and a few shots of Echinacea can work wonders.
  • Drink plenty of fresh water. This has a cleansing effect for the lungs, thinning out the mucus, and makes it easier to expel toxins from the lungs.
  • An occasional fast (while drinking plenty of fluids) is usually very curative for the lungs.
  • Using plants can potentially cleanse the air and produce more oxygen. I challenge you to try this out for a few months, and see If you notice any change. If you go to a botanist, you can ask for particularly cleansing plants, such as ferns and peace lilies.
  • Last, but definitely not least, is the healing effect of deep breathing. Even spending 10 minutes each day actively breathing deeply, filling up your lungs, will be very beneficial for the lungs oxygen exchange, and hence leave you more relaxed and energized. Even better is to do this while being out in nature. Also, a brisk walk, or other forms of exercise will make it easier to fill up the lungs with fresh air.Little girl on a swing in the mountain landscape

10 Secrets To A Healthy Mind

Here are a few tips on how to generally have a healthier and more positive mind:

  1. Healthy gut = Healthy mind. Having a healthy gut increases the likelihood of having a healthy mind. This becomes clearer when we see that about 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is created in the intestines. Recent research has focused on the gut flora, and how this can affect the mind, but we are just at the brink of understanding how this works.
  2. Breathe! In our day and age we tend to surround ourselves with a lot of stimuli and keep ourselves very busy.. Too much of these stimuli can make us feel wary and overstressed. I therefore believe that it is important to balance this activity with stimulating the calming part of our nervous system. In technical terms this is to balance the sympathetic (activating) and the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system. Even though it’s good to have some stimulation to the activating nervous system, too much and chronic stimuli may cause significant stress. This can lead to a range of both mental and physical ailments, including anxiety, depression, fatigue and so on. A good preventative measure is to focus on the parasympathetic nervous system and keep this calming part of the nervous system in good shape. To achieve a better stimuli to the parasympathetic nervous system you should consider breathing exercises, meditation, or the practices of qi gong, tai chi, and yoga. Even getting a good nights sleep is very good to give a proper boost to the calming nervous system.Man nature
  3. Exercise consistently. Researchers at Duke University discovered that regular exercise is better that anti-depressants in treating anxiety and depression, and in fact, people who worked out encountered fewer relapses. It is speculated that one reason for this is that during exercise we see a controlled increase in the stress hormone cortisol, and enable the body to release locked up stress in the body. This will leave the body and mind more relaxed after a good workout.
  4. Be more social. A study at Harvard University showed that being more isolated increased the risk of depression, and consequently shrinkage of parts of the brain, primarily the hippocampus. Being more social further showed an increase in neuronal enrichment, and therefore increased the capacity for learning new things.play
  5. Eat less junk. Even though eating simple sugars have shown to increase insulin, and consequently serotonin, ingestion of refined sugar have shown an addictive behavior in the consumer (rodent study showed that they preferred sucrose water to cocaine), leading to higher intake of sugar and sweeteners. Bear in mind, alcohol is also considered a sugar, and can also have a detrimental effect on ones mind, if used excessively. An increase in the intake of simple sugars and refined starches leads to a range of negative effects on the body, primarily by leading to higher amount of inflammation. In the brain there may be an increased neurological inflammation, due to a buildup of free radicals (waste particles). There is now evidence that this can be linked with neurological conditions such as Alzheimers Disease, a debilitating disease where Amyloid plaques build up in the brain, leading to the number one reason for dementiafood clean
  6. Be positive. According to the Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto, being and thinking positive will have positive effects on ones surroundings. He discovered this though extensive research on how our water reacts to various words, by creating specific crystals for that particular word/emotion. I find the most interesting of his studies is the discovery that if you place two identical bowls of rice next to each other, and on one bowl have the word “Love” on it, and the other have “Hate” written on it, you will see something interesting after a few days. The bowl of rice with the word “Love” stays the same, but the bowl of rice with the word “Hate” will start to rot. I think this just sighifies how important it is to keep a positive attitude, as it affects both yourself and the ones you surround yourself with.
  7. Be kinder to yourself. By being kinder to yourself and allowing room for error you will generally be happier. We have a tendency to judge ourselves with negative criticism. By giving yourself a slack, and not be so hard on yourself, this will have a can good effect on your own happiness.girls-1487825_1920
  8. The healing sounds. Listening to music can have a profound and direct effect on your mind. Listening to that tune you just love, can make your endorphins going through the roof. Even just listening to nature sounds have a soothing effect on your mind.
  9. Get rid of the excess clutter. I believe that to have less clutter surrounding you will have a lightening effect on your mind. Marie Kondo has written a very good book on how to clear your environment of clutter, called “The Life-changing magic of tidying up”.
  10. Happiness. Even seeing images of happy people is in it self enough to lift your spirit. Also, to regularly laugh and smile is very good for your mental health.

The Benefits Of Exercise On The Brain

You may know that a regular workout improves the body. What is less clear has been the effect of physical exercise on the brain. The brain is considered to be a muscle (although 60-70 percent is really fat), and as with the body, if you don´t use it enough, it may start to deteriorate. The good news is that there are a range of precautions to boost a healthy mind.

  • An effective training to boost the neuronal connections in the deeper parts of the brain such as the brain stem is neuromuscular training. This basically constitutes doing slow (the slower the better) movements, diagonal movements (ie. right arm and left leg) and rotational movements (ie. moving the thumbs in opposite directions).
  • Recent discovery of a protein called BNDF has led to an increased understanding of the link between the body and mind. After a workout, we see a general buildup of BNDF in the brain, primarily the hippocampus. BNDF has crucial effects on the neurons. Generally it encourages the growth of neurons (and thicker myelin sheaths), by building stronger links, and at the same time protects against cell death. In fact, in 2007 a German researcher discovered that people learn  20 times faster following physical exercise than before they worked out. These findings correlated with the levels of BDNF in the brain.
  • The Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) can be considered the fountain of youth, due to its age reviving effects on cells. Ways to boost the HGH production from the pituitary gland is by either having spurts of a high intensity workout and/or muscle training. What is interesting is that this increase of HGH in the circulation lasts many hours after you exercise. Conversely, a high intensity workout leaves higher amounts of BDNF in the brain as compared to a lower intensity workout. I would point out here that it is better with shorter burst of high intensity, as this will have better effect on the generation of HGH than longer stretches of high intensity. In a comparative study, Doing a series of squats doubled the HGH levels compared with running at high intensity for thirty minutes.
  • Exercise boosts the amount of dopamine, which sparks motivation. Sticking to an exercise regimen will boost the reward centers in the brain, and make it easier to stick with the workout schedule.

Overall, exercise improves learning in three ways:

  1. Increases alertness, attention and motivation
  2. Encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, an essential aspect of learning new tasks
  3. Boosts the production of nerve cells in the hippocampus (from stem cells)

So get to it and start exercising today!

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How To Lose Those Extra Kilos

After having had a merry Christmas holiday I am sure there are plenty of us who ponder how we can lose those extra kilos we gained after stuffing ourselves with lots of delicious savoury foods. Here is a list of the most important points in this regard:

  • Eat less sugar. Excess refined sugar is probably the main reason why people struggle to lose weight. Also, know that alcohol is considered a refined sugar and should be moderated. Eating more wholesome sugars from fruits and berries is much better. A small amount of wholesome sugars such as honey, raw cane sugar is much better than the refined beet sugar. Remember, less is more.
  • Fat is not the enemy: There is a crisp new study from the University of Bergen that show the beneficial effect of consuming more saturated fats, and how this may indeed lower one’s weight. Mind you, this is a small study, but still contradicts the theory that eating less fat makes one loose fat. Eating saturated fats such as butter in moderation may be better than eating those hydrogenated oils in margarine. Here I would advise to focus on the quality of fats. I also believe eating good quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil is generally good for one’s health.
  • Eat less refined starches such as that bowl of potato chips or floury foods that is so easy to eat too much of. Remember, the more wholesome the food is, the better it is for you.
  • Also, avoid refined starches such as Pepsi max or the equivalent. Many studies have shown how these artificial sugars will ”fool” the body into believing that sugar will arrive, and thereby increasing insulin production. The surge in insulin without being saturated by glucose cause the body to store more fat due to the insulin effect.
  • Regular workout: Physical exercise have a range of benefits, from boosting blood circulation (and hence oxygen transport and excretion of waste particles), improving mood and energy from an elevation of endorphins, balancing the lipoproteins in the blood circulation. Regular physical exercise, both endurance and strength workouts, will be beneficial to balance ones weight.
  • Stress down: Too much stress leaves excess cortisol levels in the body.and may consequently cause one to gain more weight. One of the best ways to stress down is to sleep better. Also, deep belly breathing and intervals of calming activities are very beneficial.
  • Lower inflammation: An increase in certain inflammatory markers called cytokines have been linked especially to abdominal adiposity.
  • Treat your gut flora: There are now coming out various studies on how the gut flora influence one’s weight. The balance between the two gut flora families Bacteroidetes and Fibricutes are of huge importance as to how one digests starches. Fibricutes bacteria’s cleave carbohydrates at a much greater extent than Bacterioidetes. We tend to see more of an overweight of Fibricutes to Bacteroidetes in the west in contrast to more ”primitive” cultures. Most probably this relates to the diet. An excess of Fibricutes in relation to Bacterioidetes is linked to overweight. Consuming more fibrous foods from vegetables and fermented foods may, as well as eating less refined starches, be a good way to balance these bacteria’s.
  • Check your thyroid: Oftentimes, when people see an abnormal increase in weight (For example, beyond eating several Christmas-style feasts for days), then it may be necessary to check your thyroid status with your doctor, as a thyroid imbalance may be the culprit!
  • There are some supplements that may have a good effect at lowering one’s weight. An Indian study show great improvement by consuming an Ajurvedic herb called Ashwaghanda.

Have a Happy New Year!

How To Boost Vitality

Do you feel the occational lack of energy, or is every day a drag, where you have to force your way through it? There are ways to leave you feel more envigorated, energized and vital. Do you want to know what that is? Ok, great! Let’s go:

  • Get proper amount of good sleep. The key here is sleeping enough.
  • Stress down. Get adequate amounts relax during the day. Deep breathing, feeling your stomach moves with the breathing is a good way to lower ones stress level, aka taking a breather. Also, don’t set your mind to doing more than you are capable of, as this will only stress you more. Learning to say no is something many could be better at.
  • Tend to your thyroid. This is related to the point above.
  • Take care of you gastro-intestinal tract, as this really influences your energy level.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise, in the right amounts is both healthy and a good way to boost vitality. Interval workout, with high intensity bursts of exercise alternated with intermittent resting periods is a good way to improve circulation in the body. I can recommend a book called Spark, by  John Ratley on this subject.
  • Regularly stretch out your body. It is particularly important to have a flexible back, as it influences the circulation of your body.
  • Eat regular meals. By eating regularly you maintain a more balanced blood sugar, and consecuently leaving you with more energy.
  • Eat your veggies. Eating enough vegetables is a very important measure to making sure that the energy level is maintained at optimal levels. Drinking juice of clean, organic vegetalbes on an empty stomach, is a good way to get a lot of these phyto-nutrients in your system (use the fibers for something else, like in a smoothie). Eating a salad of vegetables prior, during or after a heavy meal will make you digest the food much better due to the enzymes, fibers and other nutrients in vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of clean water. First of all, make sure your tap water is clean. If not, there are many ways to make the water cleaner. I would advise to install an activated charcoal filter on the tap, or use a mug for the same purpose. Then make sure you drink enough water regularly, 2-3 liters of water depending on your daily activity.
  • Make sure you have enough vitamin B12 and iron, as a lack of these will influence your energy. The nutritional status also depend on how your digestion and absorption of nutrients are. I could also recommend eating pumpkin seeds, as they are rich in iron. If you want the nutrients from seeds, nuts, beans and lentils to be more easily assimilated, you could sprout them. This also has a very positive effect on energy and vitality.
  • You could also try to take supplements to boost vitality, which include maca, mucuna, licorize (not if high blood pressure). Choose a well renowned brand, as the quality tend to be better.
  • There are also ways to boost energy and vitality through what I call energy workout. This includes qi gong, tai chi, yoga and many more. This is a very good way of gradually building up ones vitality.

Remember, take it slow. Gradual progress is much better, than aiming too high too soon.

 

The Art Of Chi

Now, what is Chi? We see it written on billboards, hear about it in movies and see it when we go to our favorite health food shop. But what is chi, or as the Chinese say, Qi? Is it some mysterious force that you can harness only by using a magic wand bought at Diagon Ally?  There is no simple answer to what chi really is. Being a Qi Gong master (ah great, more funny words), I feel I have a close relationship with chi.

Chi might be translated as “Lifeforce”. This lifeforce spreads throughout every living being, giving life. It may be described as a electromagnetic field, where every living being generate an electromagnetic field. Every living being generate an electromagnetic field, where the heart has (by far) the highest electromagnetic field, radiating up to 4 meters from the body. One funny research conducted by  shows that the electromagnetic waves of the brain (EEG) are being influenced and altered when coming in the electromagnetic field of the heart of another person.

Resent research have enabled us to being able to take pictures of these electromagnetic fields. Kirlian photography lets us see the radiation of electromagnetism that is emitted from a living object. What is interesting is that the sphere is much larger around a fresh vegetable than a decomposed one, and larger around a raw vegetable than a boiled/fried one. One interpretation for this is that we may get more energy, hence chi, by consuming more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

I believe we are just at the brink of understanding more of all the powers we are surrounded with.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio