January 23, 2017

Adults Turn to Coloring Books for Relaxation and More

6 Reasons You Should Color

by Rob Fischer

In 2013, Johanna Basford of Scotland struggled to find a publisher who would pick up her coloring book for adults called Secret Garden. When she finally landed a publisher, they printed just 16,000 copies. Today, Basford’s adult coloring books hold two of the top selling spots on Amazon.com. Her Secret Garden has sold over 6 million copies![1]

6 reasons you should color v2Why this sudden craze of adults wanting to color? Psychologists and others who are trying to understand this phenomenon have come up with several compelling reasons for coloring—as an adult.

Let’s investigate some of the motivations and benefits behind the adult coloring rage.

1. Coloring provides creative expression.

Somewhere along the line of our development, we’ve all had opportunity to gauge the level of our artistic abilities. Also, while those abilities may lie in one area of expression such as cooking, woodworking, jewelry making, or pottery, they may be nearly absent when it comes to drawing.

Valentina Harper, in her adult coloring book, Creative Coloring Flowers, explains: “I made this book so that you can use your imagination to fill it with all the vibrant tones of the rainbow! Using whatever medium you like—from markers to watercolors to colored pencils to gel pens to crayons—you can take these delightful drawings into a new world of color.”

Clearly, selecting a medium, colors, patterns, etc. are all creative functions. We were born to be creative and imaginative, but as soon as we entered school, they drilled us to conform. At the age of five a child is still using 80 percent of their potential. But by age 12, creative function has dropped to about 2 percent and hovers there throughout our adult lives.[2]

Coloring offers nearly any adult the opportunity for creative expression.

2. Coloring is relaxing.

I have to admit, when my wife recently requested a coloring book for her birthday, I was a bit taken aback. Since then she takes time to color each week. I asked her why she enjoys it so much and without any forethought she responded, “It’s so relaxing.”

Apparently, countless other adults agree with her. Our lives have become so stressful, hectic and noisy. Coloring offers people a chance to withdraw from all that in a wholesome and constructive way and simply relax.

Many of the coloring options feature a wide spectrum of repetitive designs. Once one has chosen a color within a particular design, the tactile motion of stroking in the color with a physical medium, staying in the lines, and creating something truly beautiful is very relaxing.

unique coloring book page for adults - flower paisley design3. Coloring helps one focus.

Coloring has been compared with meditation and other cognitive skills geared toward helping us concentrate. Neurologist Stan Rodski comments, “Like meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment.”[3]Graduate students at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass, have discovered that coloring during a lecture actually helps them concentrate better on what’s being said. The mindless, repetitive act of coloring helps them focus on the moment.[4]

4. Coloring offers easy access to anyone.

Filling in a coloring book requires very little financial outlay and no training. Nearly anyone can pick up a book, find their favorite medium and start coloring. How easy is that?

If you haven’t tried coloring and would like to start, download the coloring book image to the right by clicking HERE. (Available to Home Cures That Work Community Members only.)

5. Coloring is therapeutic. 

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How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress with Meditation

Reset Your Mind and Eliminate Anxiety

by David Kekich

Taking care of your body goes a long way towards helping you cope with anxiety. The diet, exercise and supplementation routines mentioned in this issue of Home Cures That Work will better equip you to deal with the stresses placed on your body. A good diet and supplements help you cope with increased production of free radicals caused by stress. Exercise reduces stress and increases your cardiovascular ability to handle stress while increasing your antioxidant potential. Do you notice how often exercise keeps popping up? Exercise and diet are paramount. If you don’t like exercise, at least go out for regular brisk walks.

In addition, when faced with anxiety, make sure you get enough rest. Fatigue can definitely reduce your immune function and healing ability.

brain needs recovery timeBesides exercise, many physical relaxation techniques can manage the effects of your stress. A stress management relaxation technique designed by the Institute of HeartMath has raised DHEA (your master hormone) levels by 100% and reduced the stress hormone cortisol by 23% in just one month. Some of the best techniques are meditation and deep breathing. Did you ever notice how fast and shallow you breathe when you are stressed? It’s hard to breathe deeply and feel anxious or tense at the same time. Try it.

Meditation doesn’t just have to be for eastern mystics. Millions of Americans practice it, because its health benefits have been proven in many different studies. It’s not an escape, as some think. Meditation is a proactive practice that can enhance your life. It’s the equivalent of giving your mind an escape valve to blow off steam.

All meditation really means is to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. This allows your mind to reset itself and stop the vicious cycle of thinking about things that stress you out.

Focus separates peak performers from average performers, possibly more than any other attribute. It also builds energy. That’s why so many high profile leaders practice meditation. Meditation is anything that brings you to the moment and keeps you there. The more you meditate and focus on the “now,” the stronger you grow physically, mentally and emotionally.

Mainstream medicine is now beginning to take notice of meditation’s effects. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which is about 80% meditation, has been approved in Britain for use with people who have experienced three or more episodes of depression.

Your brain, just like your muscles, can be overworked, and it needs recovery time. Like many people who exercise, meditators in their mid-fifties tested twelve years biologically younger than non-meditators. Did you know meditation actually increases the thickness of your brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing? Here are some additional benefits:

20 reasons why meditation will reset your mind and eliminate anxietyMeditating…

  • Increases the growth of new brain cells..
  • Increases your IQ and Emotional Intelligence scores.
  • Increases your comprehension and productivity.
  • Improves your mental focus, memory and decision making.
  • Decreases stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Reduces free radicals, heart rate and biological aging.
  • Slows your breathing.
  • Improves quality of and ability to sleep.
  • Reduces your blood pressure.
  • Relaxes your muscles.
  • Reduces your risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Gives your body time to eliminate lactic acid and other waste products.
  • Increases blood levels of DHEA.
  • Reduces anxiety and eliminates stressful thoughts.
  • Helps with clear thinking.
  • Helps with focus and concentration.
  • Reduces irritability.
  • Accelerates weight loss.
  • Reduces stress headaches.
  • Enhances overall health.

Wow! Is that incredible, or what? Review this list a few times. Let the benefits sink in. Who wouldn’t want better health, to think more clearly, to age more slowly and to be smarter?

The essence of meditation is to quiet your thoughts by focusing completely on just one thing. Unlike hypnosis, which is more of a passive experience, meditation is an active process that seeks to exclude outside distractions by concentrating all your thoughts on the subject of meditation.

In all cases, it helps if your body is relaxed. Get in a position that you can comfortably sustain for a period of time (20–30 minutes is ideal, but even five minutes helps a lot). If you choose, and if you are sufficiently supple, the lotus position may work best for you. Otherwise, sitting in a comfortable chair or lying on a bed may be equally effective.

A number of different focuses of concentration may be used. Which one you choose is a matter of personal taste. Some of these are detailed below:

  • Breathing: Focus on each breath in and out, breathing in through your nose on a count of seven, hold for a count of three, and breathe out through your mouth on a count of eight. Inhale and exhale completely, totally filling and emptying your lungs.
  • Focusing on an object: Completely focus on one object. Choose something pleasant and interesting, and then examine it in detail. Observe its color, shape, texture, etc.
  • Focus on a sound: Some people like to focus on sounds. The classic example is the Sanskrit word “Om,” meaning “perfection.”
  • Imagery: Create a mental image of a pleasant and relaxing place in your mind. Involve all your senses in the imagery: see the place, hear the sounds, smell the aromas, feel the temperature and the wind.

In all cases, keep your attention focused. If external thoughts or distractions wander in, let them drift out. If necessary, visualize attaching the thoughts to objects and then move the objects out of your attention.

I do this several times a day. To demonstrate how effective this simple technique can be, I did it last evening when I felt stress over an unpleasant task. When I started, my blood pressure was 117/75. Seven minutes later, I dropped it to 97/63. That’s simply amazing! Had I not taken my stress break, I would have eroded my health, functioning sub-par and frenzied. Instead, I reduced my anxiety and jumped back into my task with renewed energy and motivation.

This is not a one-time event. I get these results regularly. Taking several anxiety-busting breaks every day could help you avoid 80% of all medical conditions. That’s the medical profession’s conservative estimate of the toll anxiety and stress takes on you.

How often do you think what you are doing is so urgent and important that you can’t afford to take one minute off, let alone seven? Well, I’ve got news for you. The best time to take a anxiety break is when you think you don’t have the time. That’s exactly when proactive relaxation breaks are the most productive way to spend your time and reduce stress. Not only will they improve your performance, but you could avoid a nasty hospital stay, or even a premature death as a side effect.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

David-KekichDavid Kekich (Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs) is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. For more information, visit: www.MaxLife.org. David contributes to our column Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs. MaxLife is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.

Nutrition for Increasing Brain Function

Foods to fuel your brain, increase your mental performance and sharpen your memory

by Amanda Box

Although each of us is a person made of parts, there is a single part of our body that defines who we are—the brain. It governs our personality, our thought processes and our memories.

The brain is by far the most complex organ within the human body. However, often in our quest to keep our body healthy, we overlook our brain. Typically, our focus concerning health centers on preventing things like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. When it comes to diet, most of our healthy choices have to do with the cardiovascular and digestive systems. The reality is we are ignoring the very part of our body that makes us who we are!

Giving our brain the nourishment it needs should really be our foremost concern. This will preserve our memory, give us the focus we need for daily tasks and keep us in good spirits. Even as we age, having a strong, energetic brain is possible with the proper nutrition!

The brain is a unique organ in that it does not have the ability to store nutrients. This makes it imperative that your daily diet contains the proper nutrition that the brain needs. The brain requires a constant stream of oxygen and nutrients from the blood. What you eat throughout the day directly affects the health of your brain and its ability to function at maximum capacity.

Basing your diet around your brain’s needs can improve your:

  • Memory
  • Focus and concentration
  • Alertness
  • Mood

Just think, the food you’re eating could be contributing to that foggy feeling, depression, or anxiety that you battle. Furthermore, what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner can directly act on your brain’s capacity to remember.

You have the power to change the way you think, simply by changing your diet!

Eating the right foods can provide anti-aging effects inside your brain keeping you alert, focused and mentally invigorated long past retirement!

Macro and Micro Nutrition

high blood sugar leads to brain shrinkage and memory lossA healthy, optimal functioning brain needs nutrition from both macro and micro sources. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Micronutrients are much smaller molecules like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Though most foods contain some sort of macro and micro nutrition, only a specific combination of these two forms can create the perfect combination for brain health.

The Macronutrients of Brain Function

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are important for providing a steady stream of glucose to the brain. Glucose literally acts as a source of fuel by powering the brain and keeping brain cells alive. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. It is only complex carbs like those found in whole grains and vegetables that keep your blood glucose levels stable. They provide a constant flow of glucose to keep the brain alert and functioning at maximum capacity.

However, simple carbohydrates like those found in refined grains and white sugar can lead to spikes in blood glucose. Over time, the brain can actually become damaged from chronically high glucose levels. Studies have shown that those with diabetes and unstable blood sugar are at risk for developing cognitive impairment and dementia![1] Another study found that high blood sugar led to brain shrinkage that resulted in loss of memory![2] Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is extremely important in preserving the brain’s functions and memory.

Interestingly there’s little evidence that consuming a lot of carbohydrates is necessary for fueling the brain. The brain can also run on ketone bodies, which are an alternative fuel when glucose is not available. However, you still must provide the brain with healthy fat in order to have ketones available.

Limit your carbohydrates to those found in whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Following the Barton Publishing Food Plate provides a great visual for how much of the diet should include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The Barton Publishing Food Plate offers a great improvement over the outdated and unhealthy US Food Pyramid.

Proteins

Proteins are important in the diet because they are the building blocks of amino acids. Amino acids from proteins are used to make neurotransmitters, which allow your brain to network and communicate.

A common neurotransmitter is serotonin, which is helpful for sleep patterns, blood pressure and a calm mood.

Eating protein also increases the levels of the amino acid tyrosine in the body. Tyrosine converts into dopamine and norepinephrine, which contribute to alertness and promote mental energy.

Barton Publishing Food PlateIt is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal levels of neurotransmitters.[3] Eating adequate levels of protein increases neurotransmitters and therefore increases brain activity.

Great sources of protein include:

  • Free range eggs
  • Grass fed beef
  • Free range chicken
  • Unsweetened organic yogurt or kefir
  • Quality whey, rice, or hemp protein powder

Most people require about 40-60 grams of protein a day according to their weight. Remember, although plant protein found in beans and nuts is beneficial, it is missing important amino acids. Vegetarian proteins are not complete proteins. Incorporate plenty of animal sourced complete proteins into your diet in order to maintain the levels of amino acids needed for the brain’s neurotransmitters.

As always, it’s a matter of balance. Eat foods that provide the full spectrum of amino acids your brain needs for an appropriate harmony of energizing and calming neurotransmitters. Pay attention to what you eat and how you feel afterward. Learn what works best for you according to your daily activities and need for rest.

Fat

Fat is the most important macronutrient needed by the brain. The human brain is composed of around 60% fat, making dietary fat incredibly important for brain health! The low fat diet trend in recent years has starved the brain of necessary fat and cholesterol. Instead, low fat diets promoted carbohydrates, which raised blood sugar causing both damage and atrophy of the brain.

Mayo Clinic research found that individuals who ate high carbohydrate diets had a remarkable 89% increased risk for developing dementia! Conversely, those whose diets contained the most fat had an incredible 44% reduction in risk for developing dementia.[4]

Two forms of fat are necessary for the brain:

  1. Saturated fat
  2. Cholesterol

I understand that promoting these two forms of fat in the diet probably goes against everything you’ve been taught about a healthy diet. However, facts are facts.

The brain uses saturated fats as the building blocks of its cells. Click to Tweet.

Just think about it. What is human breast milk primarily comprised of? Saturated fat! An infant requires this high fat content to meet the needs of its brain growth and development. This form of fat is not enemy #1, rather the form of fat that nature provides to promote growth of the human brain!

Cholesterol is essential for the brain as well. Often demonized as the culprit behind heart disease and even strokes, cholesterol actually protects the brain! The brain contains 25% of the body’s total cholesterol.

Therefore, it is no surprise that cholesterol-lowering medications now warn against memory decline. Click to Tweet.

Interestingly, those with the highest levels of cholesterol may have the lowest risk of dementia.[5] Remember, cholesterol isn’t the bad guy! It actually keeps your brain healthy and young.

When incorporating fat into your diet, always stay clear of trans-fats and hydrogenated oils. These are not natural forms of saturated fats and can cause damage and inflammation throughout the body. Margarine, shortening, and many fried and fast foods contain this dangerous fat.

healthy fats to enhance mental performance and preserve memoryDon’t be afraid any longer to add healthy sources of saturated fat into your diet!

Build your brain with fat! Click to Tweet.

Some of the best saturated fats to include in your diet are:

  • Extra virgin coconut oil
  • Grass fed beef
  • Free range eggs
  • Pasture butter (Kerry Gold is a great brand)

Putting these brain-boosting fats onto your plate and into your body will enhance brain function, increase mental performance and preserve memory.

Specialized Micronutrients for Brain Power

There are 3 very important micronutrients that provide the brain with specialized nutrition:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3 DHA (technically, a fatty acid)

Each one of these specific nutrients has an important job in the brain by impacting the way we think, feel and remember.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are often referred to as the “anti-stress vitamins” because of their ability to increase our tolerance for stress. This group of vitamins also helps lift our mood and provides mental energy for the brain.

However, that’s not all! A recent study revealed that B vitamins slow brain shrinkage that can occur with age. Furthermore, these vitamins specifically slowed shrinkage in brain regions known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease![6]

The B vitamins are your brain’s vitamins! Click to Tweet.

Vitamin B12, in particular, is of greatest concern because deficiencies in this important vitamin are associated with dementia, memory loss, depression and even schizophrenia. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include: fatigue, shortness of breath, diarrhea or constipation, problems concentrating and pale skin.

As we age, we often lose the ability to absorb B12 properly, so blood testing is important in maintaining proper levels. B12 shots may be needed to boost this crucial vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is solely found in animal products like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. So it may be necessary for strict vegetarians and vegans to supplement B12, since it can be difficult for them to get enough of the vitamin.

Folic acid is another important B vitamin for the health of your brain. Folic acid is imperative for the nervous system at every age. However, folic acid deficiency contributes to aging brain processes, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia especially among the elderly.

folic acid food sourcesFolic acid is found in:

  • Leafy greens
  • Oranges
  • Oatmeal
  • Asparagus
  • Many varieties of beans

Keeping healthy levels of all of the B vitamins is extremely important for brain health. If you have any concerns about your B vitamin levels, it is a good idea to get them checked.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, though not found naturally in many foods, is another important vitamin for the brain. Low levels of vitamin D can cause confusion, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Many tissues in the brain contain vitamin D receptors, which when activated by vitamin D, encourage nerve cell growth. Some researchers believe that vitamin D also helps repair damaged neurons in the brain![7]

Increasing your vitamin D is done easily by exposing yourself to sunshine for just 20-30 minutes a day. However, supplementation is also helpful if your vitamin D levels are extremely low. Taking 35 IU per pound of body weight is a great daily dose to keep your blood levels within a healthy range. Free-range eggs are also a great source of dietary vitamin D.

Protect your brain against cognitive deficits with vitamin D.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, are the building blocks of the brain. Brain cells, otherwise called neurons, transmit messages throughout the brain and to other parts of the body. The membrane around these neurons is made up of fat, 60% of which is DHA.

In order for the neurons to communicate properly, these membranes need to be flexible. If these membranes become stiff, molecules cannot pass through the neurons correctly and can result in mood imbalances, difficulty learning, and impaired recall. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can restore the flexible nature of the neuron cell membranes. This results in increased cell communication, memory and brain function!

Omegas also seem to ward off the cognitive decline that often comes with age. Omega-3 fatty acids with DHA are found in fatty fish such as:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring

Consuming a diet that promotes a healthy, focused and energized brain takes a diet that is balanced in both micro and macro nutrition. The Barton Publishing Brain Health Solution Kit contains a list of the top 20 memory boosting foods. This makes a great reference and shopping guide for those of you just beginning your journey towards a healthy, balanced diet.

Below are two recipes that incorporate foods that are low in carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats and brimming with vitamins and minerals. These foods will fuel your brain, increase your mental performance and sharpen your memory.

Start out your day right with a Brain Boosting Smoothie! This easy-to-make meal is great for breakfast or a quick on-the-go snack. It contains healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, which nourish your brain cells and provide the mental energy it needs to focus.

Brain Boosting Smoothie

brain boosting smoothieIngredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder (no sugar or artificial sweeteners added)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 banana (optional)
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup ice
  • Flavor of choice: 1 TBSP organic cocoa powder, ½ cup strawberries, 1 tsp cinnamon, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

This recipe can be adapted to fit your preferences.[8] You can use cold brewed coffee, tea, almond milk, or coconut water as the base and add other fruits or flavors.

Note on Egg Yolks: Many people feel uncomfortable using raw egg in any form. I believe you must trust the source of your eggs. However, do your own research before consuming any food raw!

This next recipe contains omega 3 rich salmon along with quinoa, a protein-rich grain. This healthy dinner provides you with the healthy fats, protein and vitamins to boost brainpower.

Salmon Kabobs with Quinoa and Grapefruit Salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • Salmon Kabobs with Quinoa and Grapefruit Salad1 medium grapefruit
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small serrano or jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 scallions minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Fish:

  • 1 1/2 pound skinless, center-cut salmon, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Wooden skewers, soaked

Directions

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a bowl and drain. Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with the water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Cool.
  2. Segment the grapefruit over a bowl, reserving the segments and juice separately. Whisk 3 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice with the vinegar, honey, ginger and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a stream to make a slightly thick dressing. Season with pepper to taste.
  3. Toss quinoa with the dressing, chiles, scallions, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Preheat a stovetop or outdoor grill to high heat. Thread the salmon cubes onto the skewers. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon grapefruit oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the skewers, turning as each side browns, while keeping the salmon moist, about 3 minutes.
  5. Toss the grapefruit segment into the salad, divide among 4 plates, and top with the salmon kebobs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Are you looking to improve your brain function, preserve your memory and increase your focus and concentration? Begin by changing your diet! Your brain will respond to the macro and micro nutrients you feed it.

Incorporate healthy fats, protein, omega 3s, B vitamins and vitamin D into your daily life and feel your mind transform. If it is truly our brain that makes us who we are, then in fact we truly are what we eat.

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Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

Sources:
[1] http://www.neurology.org/content/63/4/E9.full
[2] http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-discussions/general/16604-blood-sugar-and-brain-damage
[3] https://www.neurogistics.com/TheScience/WhatareNeurotransmi09CE.asp
[4] http://advances.nutrition.org/content/4/3/294.abstract
[5] http://www.neurology.org/content/64/10/1689.abstract
[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23690582
[7] https://beta.mssociety.ca/research-news/article/cell-based-study-reveals-that-vitamin-d-can-drive-the-activity-of-neural-stem-cells-that-promote-myelin-repair
[8] Recipe adapted from Wellnessmama.com

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