Saturday, March 10, 2012

Acupuncture for your Cardiovascular Health

The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and blood vessels and is responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and other waste from them. Heart disease includes conditions affecting the heart, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease.

Despite dramatic medical advances over the past fifty years, heart disease remains a leading cause of death globally and the number one cause of death in the United States.

By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 80%. Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, quitting smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, reducing stress and improved sleep - all of which can be helped with acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

1. Manage High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure makes the heart work harder, increasing its oxygen demands and contributing to angina. This excessive pressure can lead to an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly), as well as damage to blood vessels in the kidneys and brain. It increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease.

Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, were able to stimulate the release of opioids, which decreases the heart’s activity and thus its need for oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

2. Quit Smoking
Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer. But did you know that smoking is also a major cause of coronary artery disease? In fact, about twenty percent of all deaths from heart disease are directly related to cigarette smoking.

Acupuncture has shown to be an effective treatment for smoking. Acupuncture treatments for smoking focus on jitters, cravings, irritability, and restlessness; symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is associated with diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, all of which increase the risk of developing heart disease, but studies have shown that excess body weight itself (and not just the associated medical conditions) can also lead to heart failure. Even if you are entirely healthy otherwise, being overweight still places you at a greater risk of developing heart failure.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine are an excellent tool when it comes to losing weight. They can help to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety.

4. Reduce Stress
Stress is a normal part of life. But if left an managed, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heart beats. Medical researchers aren't sure exactly how stress increases the risk of heart disease. Stress itself might be a risk factor, or it could be that high levels of stress make other risk factors worse. For example, if you are under stress, your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, you may exercise less, and you may be more likely to smoke.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health. In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.

5. Improve Sleep
Poor sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Researchers have shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health and getting less than eight hours of sleep can put you at a greater risk for developing heart disease.

Acupuncture has shown great success treating a wide array of sleep problems without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. The acupuncture treatments for problems sleeping focus on the root disharmony within the body that is causing the insomnia. Therefore, those who use acupuncture for insomnia achieve not only better sleep, but also an overall improvement of physical and mental health.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Foods to double your brain power

It's a well-known, stated fact: "Healthy mind, Healthy body: Healthy body, Healthy mind."

So in the same way that a proper diet is good for your body, so it is for your brain.

And the foods that you consume, whether "good" or "bad" can possibly influence your brain power.

Your brain is the greediest organ in your body, with some quite specific dietary requirements. So it is hardly surprising that what you eat can affect cognitive function.

And like any other organ in your body, your brain also needs the correct fuel to perform well.
Unfortunately, proper nutrition for the brain is often overlooked by a fast paced lifestyle and often having to eat "on the go".

Take for example, the effect of simple carbohydrates (such as processed flour and sugary foods) on your brain and body.

These foods can cause a rush of sugar into the bloodstream, causing Insulin to be released. Insulin works hard to "mop up" all the excess sugar in your blood; the trouble is, Insulin is a bit too efficient, and can cause blood sugar levels to plunge. This is known as Hypoglycemia.
But it doesn't stop there. Hypoglycemia can cause the release of Adrenal Hormones: these hormones squeeze stored sugar from the liver, sending blood sugar levels back up. This is known as a "sugar high".

So the body goes on a blood sugar roller-coaster, with "sugar highs" and "sugar blues." But it still doesn't stop there, because the ups and downs of blood sugar and adrenal hormones may stimulate brain neurotransmitter imbalance, causing irritability, inattentiveness, and even sleepiness.

And after all, people work hard to conserve their body in the desire to look good for as long as possible, so why not do the same for the brain?

Here is a list of my top five foods, which may influence, and possibly, double your brain power!

1. Omega-3 Oils
Perhaps the number one food for brain health, the case for Omega- 3 oils is overwhelming.
Omega-3 oils, (or Omega-3 Fatty Acids) are essential fatty acids necessary for human health. They are termed "essential" because they cannot be produced by the body, and so must be obtained from the diet.

Omega-3 oils are beneficial because they provide fluidity to cell membranes and improve communication between brain cells. They may help to boost learning power, but also greatly enhance mood.

Foods rich in omega-3 oils include oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel.

Maybe fish is a "brain food" after all!

2. Vegetables and legumes
Unlike processed flour which contains simple carbohydrates, vegetables and legumes contain complex carbohydrates which can supply your brain with a steady source of energy.

Foods which contain complex carbohydrates would include soybeans, kidney beans, chick peas and lentils.

3. Soya
Soya contains natural plant Oestrogens called Isoflavones.

These are thought to act on Oestrogen receptors in the human brain, particularly those in the hippocampus, which we know is a crucial area for memory.

As a result, new nerve connections may form more readily. Medical trials have revealed that persons fed a high Soya diet showed improvements in verbal and non-verbal memory and in mental flexibility.

Good sources of Soya include Soya milk and tofu.

4. Berries
Fruit such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries contain anti-oxidants, helping to rid the body of harmful free radicals produced during body cells converting oxygen into energy.

Scientific studies have shown that a good dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables will significantly reduce the risk of developing "Cognitive Impairment".

5. Chocolate
Good news for all lovers of chocolate!

Studies have hinted that eating milk chocolate may boost brain function. Substances like Theobromine, Phenethylamine and Caffeine present in dark chocolate, can act as stimulants that may lead to increased mental performance.