Does Pranayama Breathing reduce stress?

January is one of the most depressing months of the year and this one will be no exception! It’s cold, dark, and rainy, perhaps some struggle financially, others are forced to diet after the Christmas feast or begin their “Dry January “ challenge and many more are back to the reality of work (or not). To top it off, most of us will be confined at home for the next few months. So this is the perfect time to focus on taking care of yourself and to regain control of your thoughts amongst all this negativity. To achieve this I have begun with one of the most basic and essential tools we have always at hand, for free, 24/7 … our breath, and in particular the practice of Pranayama breathing. So,” Does Pranayama Breathing reduce stress?”

Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress?
Does Pranayama Breathing reduce stress?

 The answer to this very important question lies in this blog, where you will discover what pranayama breathing is, how it can decrease the effects of stress on the body, and increase overall physical and mental health. Finally, we will explain 5 of the most popular pranayama breathing techniques so you can practise them all by yourself.

What is pranayama breathing?

Pranayama breathing techniques are thought to have come into existence around the same time as yoga and meditation – in India, around 5000 BC.

In Sanskrit (the classical language of India), the word “ prana “ means life force and “Ayama means extending. Thus, the word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force, or more loosely, control of breath. 

Breathing is something we do on a daily basis. Strangely or not, life starts as a newborn baby by taking a huge inhale (along with copious amounts of crying) and ends in a deep and long exhale. Breathing is living, it is a vital function of life as every cell in our body needs oxygen to function properly.

The way we breathe controls everything, our nervous system via the vagus nerve, our cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive system. Pranayama refers to a variety of breathing exercises that are known to reduce stress, improve sleep, help digestion, cool you down, as well as clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the flow of “prana” or life force.

The benefits of pranayama

There is no doubt that Pranayama breathing has a vast array of benefits, and during these pandemic times, the most useful ones are stress relief and immunity boost. Here below is the full list of the pranayama benefits.

Boosts your Immune system:

 First, belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing (this is when your lower belly expands outwardly as you inhale and contracts inwardly when you exhale) offers a light massage to your internal organs and glands. Since about 70 to 80% of your immune tissue is situated in your digestive tract, breathwork can improve the body’s immune response.  This light internal massage, in turn, helps move lymph (fluid containing white blood cells) throughout the body. Second, breath retention significantly increases our count of white blood cells, which are the first line of defence for infections and viruses. 

White cells help your immune system
White cells help your immune system fight viruses!

Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress?

Our typical response to stress is shallow and rapid breathing and an increased heart rate. On the other hand, Pranayama breathing tends to engage our parasympathetic nervous system in order to make our body more relaxed, slow down our breathing and reduce our heart rate.

When breathing deep and slow in a controlled manner, we activate our vagus nerve and consequently increases our GABA  production, the neurotransmitter that helps us unwind.

Increases lung function and capacity

A 2019 study determined that 6 weeks of practising pranayama for 1 hour a day could have a significant effect on lung function. Breath control improves lung function and capacity for healthy individuals and can also be used as a lung strengthening tool for those with asthma, chronic bronchitis or recovering from pneumonia.

Improves Digestive function:

Our head-brain (100 billion neurons) and our gut-brain (200 to 600 billion neurons) are in constant communication with each other via the nervous system. When something’s going wrong in our gut, like IBS, diarrhoea or hyperacidity there seems to be a  breakdown in communication between the 2 brains. Studies show that regular pranayama breathing has a calming and soothing effect on the entire digestive system and helps re-establish harmony and communication with the brain.

Improves Cardiovascular health:

Stress is a major risk factor for high blood pressure. It increases the risk for some potentially serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke.

Pranayama can help minimize this risk by promoting relaxation.

When you concentrate on deep, slow breathing, it can help calm your nervous system. This, in turn, may help reduce your stress response and risk of hypertension and has some immediate and positive effects on your heart rate and blood pressure.

Improves Sleep quality:

Being stressed before bedtime is a recipe for disaster when it comes to sleeping. As we have seen before when we’re stressed, we take short, shallow breaths and our heart rate increases rapidly.  On the other hand, deep slow and controlled breathing slows our heart rate and relaxes our mind. This improves sleep quality, decreases snoring, sleep apnea and combats insomnia.

Sleep like an Angel
Sleep like an Angel and feel like one too!!!

Helps with Skincare:

When we hold our breath, some oxygen supplies are forced into our skin cells. This increases blood supply and improves skin appearance and prevents premature ageing like wrinkles and sunspots. 

Find here a few studies on the benefits of Pranayama!

The effect of pranayama on test anxiety and test performance

Exploring the Therapeutic Benefits of Pranayama (Yogic Breathing): A Systematic Review

Effects of Yoga Respiratory Practice (Bhastrika pranayama) on Anxiety, Affect, and Brain Functional Connectivity and Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress? Find out here!

There are many Pranayama breathing exercises, and they all have their own unique benefits. I have chosen to explain 5 of the most widely used, so you too can practise them on your own, and possibly try to incorporate them in your daily routine. 

1. Kumbhaka or “Full Breath Retention”

This is my number one as it is an immune system booster.

“Full breath retention” presents a multitude of benefits, like increased lung capacity, brain tissue regeneration and reduced inflammation. Most importantly, though, it increases oxygen and CO2 levels in our bodies, nourishing our white blood cells to fight off infection and virus. I personally do this before going to sleep, as I find it does relax me as well.

How to do it:

Sit or lie down comfortably for 10 to 15 mins per day.

Begin following a 1-1-2 pattern. For example, inhale for 5, hold for 5, exhale for 10

With practice, begin to increase the retention for a ratio of 1-2-2 or 1-3-2. It will become easier to inhale for 5, hold for 10, exhale for 10. Increase to inhaling for 5, holding for 15, exhaling for 10, and so on

2. Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. Kapalabhati is believed to help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body. It is best done in the morning if you are feeling cold, sluggish, congested or bloated.

How to do it: 

Sit (cross-legged or on your knees), resting your hands on your thighs

To begin, inhale and exhale fully

Then, inhale halfway and begin forcefully exhaling in short bursts

Place a hand on your belly to feel contraction and expansion

Continue for 20-30 intervals before breathing in fully, retaining the breath for as long as you can, and finally, exhaling

Repeat cycles for 10 to 15 minutes (daily!), finishing with an exhalation through the left nostril

Pranayama breathing
Feel that connection with nature and your life force!

3. Nadhi Sodhana aka Anuloma Viloma

Widely known as ‘alternate nostril breathing’, this pranayama helps to bring balance to the three doshas of the human experience: the mind, body and soul. This is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system and aid in a restful night’s sleep. By increasing the amount of oxygen taken into the body,  Nadhi sodhana, is believed to purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote concentration. Ideal before bed or when trying to calm down.

 How to do it:

Sit, with crossed legs or on your knees, or lie comfortably

Bring your right thumb to your right nostril and your ring and pinky fingers to your left. Your index and middle fingers can rest on the bridge of your nose or fold down toward your thumb.

Exhale completely

Using your fingers, press on the right nostril and inhale through the left.

Exhale through the left, close the nostril, and inhale through the right

Exhale through the right to complete one cycle.

Repeat for 10-12 cycles

4. Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi means victorious breath; it’s also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. Ujjayi encourages the full expansion of the lungs, and, by focusing your attention on your breath, it can assist in calming the mind. This is the most common breath used during yoga sessions. Research has shown that Ujjayi Pranayamas can help to reduce anxiety and maybe a potential alternative treatment for both stress and PTSD. This breath can be practised for up to 10 minutes at any time of day. 

How to do it:

 Find a place where you can sit comfortably with a straight spine. 

Take a steady breath in through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine.

 Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to whisper a secret, and exhale slowly through both nostrils. 

This exhalation will sound like an ocean wave or a gentle rush of air. You should feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale. Repeat up to 20 times.

5. Sitali Pranayama

Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. It’s especially helpful during summer and in hot climates. I use this pranayama breathing a lot during our summer as temperatures in Mallorca are usually high. But not now, believe it or not, we have some snow in the mountains, so I don’t need cooling down.

How to do it: 

  • Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position
  • Take a few deep inhales and exhales to prepare
  • Roll your tongue in an O shape, sticking it out through your pursed lips
  • Slowly inhale through the mouth
  • Hold your breath 
  • Exhale through your nostrils after some time
  • Repeat until you have reached between 8 and 15 cycles

Helpful Tips for Getting Started

  • You be the judge. If you feel any discomfort or light-headedness, stop immediately and return to normal breathing. Consult an instructor for guidance and supervision.
  • Never force or restrict your breath. Don’t compromise the quality of the breath. Do the best that you can. The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to perform the exercises, and eventually, you’ll be able to use more of your lung capacity.
  • Patience and practice. Pranayama should be done with great care and awareness. Try to stay focused on the journey, not the destination! Over time, you will start to notice the benefits of the practice.
  • Precautions. If you are pregnant or suffer from diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, epilepsy, or vertigo, please consult your health care provider before performing any of these breathing exercises. Practise them in a safe environment, where you can sit comfortably.

Is pranayama breathing your solution to stress_
Pranayama breathing!

What are the different types of pranayama?

Types Of Pranayama

  • Quiet Breathing.
  • Deep Breathing.
  • Fast Breathing.
  • Tribandha and Pranayama.
  • Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama or Anuloma – Viloma (Alternate nostril breathing – I)
  • Anuloma – Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing – II)
  • Suryan Bhedan Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing)
  • Ujjayi Pranayama.

How does pranayama work in the body?

The goal of pranayama is to strengthen the connection between your body and mind. According to research, pranayama can promote relaxation and mindfulness. It’s also proven to support multiple aspects of physical health, including lung function, blood pressure, and brain function.

Can I do pranayama before sleeping?

Pranayamas help in activating the parasympathetic nervous system & have a relaxing effect on the body. Before going to bed try out these pranayamas, ensure you have a light dinner and a gap of at least two hours before you perform them.

Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress!

Breathing exercises that help alleviate stress

Explains Mansi, “Pranayama is effective in alleviating stress by having our body breathe in more oxygen. There are multiple variations and each one helps cool the mind and alleviate stress. Both anxiety and depression can be cured doing pranayama regularly.

Can pranayama be done lying down?

No. There are some strict rules about Pranayama and not following them cause more harm than any benefits. … When you lay down, all the muscle mass on the front surface your body will bring pressure on all the organs used in Pranayama process which will not allow the proper movement of lungs, abdomen etc.

Which pranayama is good for anxiety?

Ujjayi Pranayama – It is a recommended Pranayama for depression, anxiety and stress. Ujjayi Pranayama is also beneficial for calming and soothing the nervous system.

My conclusion

Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress? My answer is definitely YES.So many people think that “ Breathing is just breathing”….right! Well, they are wrong! Breathing is a lot more than that! And that’s what I discovered after my first pranayama breathing sessions 15 years ago. Since then I believe that the practice of various breathing exercises is essential to our health, vitality and longevity. Now I see it as a gift and a very powerful tool that can enable us to create more ease and balance in our lives. So now more than ever and especially if you are on lockdown, I invite you to take some time to focus on your breath. Because when we focus on the breath we can return to a neutral state of being, gain clarity, feel rejuvenated, and enhance an overall sense of well-being. 

Take care my friends, and see you next week.

Smart Living To 100

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

2021- My 50 reasons to live to 100!

Every January usually starts with a list of ” New year’s resolutions”. Well for 2021, I have decided to make mine “very long term resolutions”. In fact, these are more reasons why I want to live to 100… So here are my ” 50 reasons to live to 100 “.

Living in the south pacific
Sailing the south pacific islands…

1. Lying in bed whilst it is rainy, stormy and windy outside.

2. Having a delicious hot cup of coffee, oh dear,… I would find it impossible to give that up!

3. Because there are so many places in the world you still want to see.

4. Travelling far north to see the northern lights.

5. Flying to the Philippines and diving as much as possible.

6. Celebrating birthdays with my family.

7. Learning new things all the time.

8. Creating and maintaining our family traditions.

9. Hiking the beautiful mountains of Mallorca with my wife and kids. 

10. Going to the movies  (I haven’t done that for ages).

11. Eating Fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown locally.

12. Getting recognition for something you thought no one noticed.

13. Christmas secrets! I normally don’t like secrets except the ones involving presents.

14. Getting a hug from your spouse just when you most need it.

Love is one of " My 50 reasons to live to 100"
Love is one of “My reasons to live to 100”

15.Lying on a beach on a hot summer’s day and feeling the sun on your skin.

16. Starting and finishing a good book.

17. Noticing all of nature’s little things, like a little seedling coming out of the soil, the veins on a leaf, etc…

18. Knowing that there is only one of you in the world and that this makes you unique and special.

19. Discovering as many oceans as possible.

20. Knowing that you have the ability to make others laugh.

22. Enjoying all the simple pleasures in life, like a sunset, taking deep long breaths, a cold shower on a summer’s day…

23. To have the privilege to see your kids grow into real people with their own thoughts, opinions, feelings and eventually meet their partners.

Family together

24. The beauty of knowing that no matter what happens in your life you have a handful of people there for you. Even if they might not know how to help or what to say they care enough to be by your side.

25. Diving in a brand new exotic location.

26. Realizing that Life has meaning, even when it is difficult, unpleasant and you haven’t a clue what it is.

27. Having a nutritious meal after an intense workout.

28. Waking up refreshed and energized after a good night’s sleep.

29. Gazing deeply  into the eyes of  someone you love almost as if you can see their soul.

30. Saying kind words to someone and knowing that you have  made their day.

31. Ascending from a deep dive and wishing you could stay longer.

32. Knowing that you’d be missed by others if you weren’t around, even if sometimes you don’t think so.

33. You might save someone’s life one day.

34. Sailing across a vast ocean and seeing land for the first time in weeks.

35. Finding more pleasure in some of the little things you do in life than in the bigger things.

36. Writing a blog about something you are passionate about.

37. Watching your favorite movies with your family during the Christmas holidays .

38. Lying on the sand on a cool summer’s night, waiting for a shooting star.

39. Planning my next trip with my wife (I know with the uncertainty of travel at the moment it’s impossible to do any planning but nobody can stop you visualizing it).

40. Entering a sauna or steam room on a cold, windy winter’s day.

41.Taking stock of the day before you go to sleep and plan for a better tomorrow.

42.Marvel at the wonder of what your body is capable of and how your cells are constantly regenerating, changing and processing. 

43. Having the ability to inspire someone who feels broken.

44. Finding and being with people that inspire you.

45. To earn a living online from anywhere you want.

46. To feel love and pride in my heart when I think of my son and daughter.

47. To realize that the hard experiences you go through in life are what your soul needs most to make you grow.

48. To realize that every stage of life has its inherent strengths. The stage of life you are in right now is meaningful even though it is hard to see it sometimes.

49. Anchoring for the first time in a totally deserted bay in the south pacific Islands.

50. To be able to see yourself make the world a better place in whatever way you choose to do that.

So here are 50 things that will keep me going until my 100th birthday. Now it’s your turn!

Take care my friends , see you next week.

Smart Living To 100

PS: Happy New Year 2021

25 Ideas to help with your 2021 New Year’s Resolutions!!

What are your 2021 new year’s resolutions? Whatever ones you choose, to make 2021 a better year for yourself or others, pick resolutions you believe are achievable, plan ahead, make a commitment and do your best to accomplish your goals. I know this is no easy task! So how can you ensure than you are the 10% that stick to their new year’s resolution? Keep reading and find out all the answer in this blog!

Carbon sink soil
2021 only a few sunsets away…

Why do people make new year’s resolutions

This is an old tradition that dates all the way back to 153 BC. Janus, a mythical god of Rome, had two faces, one facing forward into the future and one looking back into the past. On December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking backwards into the old year and forward into the new year. This became a symbolic time for Romans to make resolutions for the new year and forgive enemies for troubles in the past.

It is human nature to set goals at the start of something new, making the start of the New Year a popular time to set new goals and expectations for the year ahead. The idea of bettering ourselves is another inspiration.  Most of us have a natural tendency toward self-improvement, and although the New Year is somewhat random, it is the most logical day to implement new plans and to get ourselves all psyched up. I find it to be a wonderful, invigorating and stimulating time to visualize how you would want the rest of the year to unfold. It’s also a time to take stock of who we are and the way we live.

What are new year’s resolution

A new year’s resolution is a promise a person makes at the start of a new year. The most popular personal goals people set for themselves typically address the essential aspects of life, such as health, feelings of wellbeing, social connections, or finances. The goal of these resolutions is to improve life in the coming year. It may be to change a bad habit, like eating too much before bed or to develop a positive habit, like using less plastic and recycling more.

All this is great, but why is it that only 10% stick with them for more than a few months?

Why do we struggle to keep our new year’s resolutions?

There are many reasons why people fail to keep these new year promises. And although they are made to make our lives better and more fulfilling, many of us lack the will power and/or belief to carry them out all through the year. This new year’s resolution burnout can be narrowed down to the following issues.

  • Old habits die hard! Making a new habit is easy, in fact it’s fun and somehow very uplifting. But implementing these new habits means replacing the old ones. And that, my friend, is the hard part. Especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, where many people may cling to old, familiar, comfortable habits in an attempt to maintain some degree of normality in these uncertain times. These old habits are ingrained in our automatic memory or unconscious memory, so they show up without you thinking about them, making it easy for us to stick to our normal daily routines and challenging for us to make changes. 
  • Habits are also multi-faceted; Take drinking alcohol, for example, your past feelings, thoughts, and emotions related to drinking can also contribute to making the habit satisfying even before you actually drink alcohol.
Only a few days before your new year’s resolutions!
  • Focusing on specific outcomes! This is another reason why we fail with our new year’s resolution! For example, we focus on reaching a certain bodyweight! This type of goal can be frustrating and eventually push us to give up before reaching our goal.
  • Lack of planning! People who set out to achieve new goals without careful planning are doomed to fail. Just wanting it is never enough!
  • Lack of connection! If you are like most people, the chances are you are busy from dusk till dawn and you probably don’t have a lot of time left over at the end of the day. So if you don’t feel connected with your new year’s resolutions, or if they aren’t meaningful enough, you are more likely to quit.

Tips to help you achieve your new year’s resolution

A word of caution! This is by no means a bulletproof recipe for achieving your new year’s resolution… However, to make it easier to keep your new year’s resolution, you need to take a multi-faceted approach. Here are a few tips that may help:

1- Connect with your resolutions!

This is the stage where you ask yourself “why”. Asking this will help you find your real purpose, which will help to improve your motivation. For example, if you want to get into intermittent fasting your ” why” is for health reasons, as maybe you have been over-eating lately and no other diet has worked so far! So now that better health is your motivator, it’s also important to plan how you are going to achieve it.

2 – Planning realistic and achievable goals!

People who think carefully about what it is they really want to change in their lives, and effectively plan for it, have a much better chance of achieving their goals.  By intentionally breaking your resolution down into achievable steps, the stage is set for success rather than failure. This goal should not be a huge effort or sacrifice. For example, with the fasting, by setting yourself the goal to just skip a meal, whichever one that is easiest, you are already setting yourself for a mini victory.

Christmas is over! What’s next?

Then the next step in the plan is to add another achievable goal. A few years back, intermittent fasting was one of my resolutions, so I started with 12 hours for 2 weeks, then 13 hours for the next 2 weeks, and so on until I achieved my daily 18 hour without food. I remember at the time that adding one hour every 2 weeks, to my fasting window, was very achievable. So within 5 months, I was able to fast during weekdays for 18 hours.

3 – Tell your friends and family!

By telling your friends and family you are making your commitment public. This will make you accountable to follow through. Human beings are inherently social, and we want to connect with and feel accepted by others. This is a powerful motivator if you want to avoid the shame and embarrassment usually associated with letting people down. By sharing your news you might even encourage others to join you! Start a challenge on social media, encourage like-minded people to follow you and engage with others. This will keep you connected to your goals and make you more likely to be successful.

25 top new year’s resolution ideas

1- Save more money

 “A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.” —Joe Moore

2- Spend more time with loved ones!

I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.

J. R. R. Tolkien

3 – Explore new hobbies!

“If you are losing your leisure, look out! — It may be you are losing your soul.”

Virginia Woolf

4- Drink less alcohol!

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.

G.K. Chesterton

plant base diet
Plant based diet.

5 – Eat veggies regularly!

WHEN DIET IS WRONG, MEDICINE IS OF NO USE. WHEN DIET IS CORRECT, MEDICINE IS OF NO NEED.” – AYURVEDIC PROVERB

6 – Take the stairs all the time

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”.

Zig Ziglar

7 – Cut down on your meal portions

“A truly compassionate man gives a poor woman a portion of his meal before he eats, not after he has eaten.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

8 – Buy more plants for your home

“Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.”

Jonathan Haidt,

9 – Drink more water

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

10 – Take up volunteering

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

Muhammad Ali

11 – Exercise more

Even when all is known, the care of a man is not yet complete, because eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health.”

Hippocrates 

12 – Decorate the house with more family pictures!

 “A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place.”

Unknown

13 – Donate old clothes

“Rich kids gave us their old clothes. They were the best clothes we ever had. We were these very pure, naive, poor children. The rich kids called us a lot of names but it never bothered us because we didn’t know what the words meant.”

River Phoenix

14 – Start writing your own journal

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”

Christina Baldwin

intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting and excercise will keep you in shape!

15- Take up meditation!

“The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a centre of peace.”

J. Donald Walters

16 – Go for long walks

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”

Steven Wright

17 – Have a better nights sleep!

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Dr. Seuss

18 – Give yourself more compliments!

“Self appreciation is a sign of maturity, seeking appreciation is a sign of immaturity”

Sivaprakash Sidhu

19 – Always Learn new skills!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi

20 – Do more  fasting!

If I’m not hungry and I’m busy, I am quite happy to skip a meal. It’s informal intermittent fasting. I feel strongly that this is one of the strongest areas of longevity research.

David Andrew Sinclair

21 – Be more kind to yourself and others!

Be kind to yourself and others. Come from love every moment you can.

Deepak Chopra

22 – Use less plastic!

Single-use plastic is a ticking time bomb for the environment. Avoid it wherever and whenever possible.

Jennifer Nini, editor Eco Warrior Princess.

Leave the beach clean
This should be on every beach in the world…

23 – Learn to use your breath!

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

Thich Nhat Hanh,

24 – Be more respectful with the environment!

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.”

Leo Tolstoy

25 – Explore the world!

“STUFF YOUR EYES WITH WONDER,’ HE SAID, ‘LIVE AS IF YOU’D DROP DEAD IN TEN SECONDS. SEE THE WORLD. IT’S MORE FANTASTIC THAN ANY DREAM MADE OR PAID FOR IN FACTORIES.”
RAY BRADBURY

My conclusion

“Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility.  Breaking them is part of the cycle.” – Eric Zorn

I couldn’t agree more! It’s well worth planning ahead, making the commitment, and doing the best you can to accomplish your goals. After a challenging 2020, this might be the best start to 2021, you may well surprise yourself and could possibly make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

Happy new year 2021 to all of you my friends!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021!!!

Take care my friends, and I will be back next year.

Smart Living To 100

Why Christmas 2020 is so different?

Where to begin with Christmas?

Why is Christmas so different this year?

Christmas is a time for being with loved ones, for indulging in delicious food and decadent drinks, for long walks, for playing board games, for reflection and long conversations, for sitting and watching the latest feel-good movie… It’s a wonderful time to be happy, joyful and grateful.

As soon as the kids break up from school, millions of households  travel to far flung relatives, grandparents, mothers, sisters, to share this wonderful time with the people that matter most in their life.

My wife and I would normally head to London, to meet our adult “kids”, and carry on our trip to our beloved Ireland. Although I am Spanish, we have spent most of our Christmases in Ireland.

Christmas in Ireland
I have many fond memories of Christmas in Ireland.

There are many reasons for this, for a start I was fortunate enough to marry a beautiful Irish woman, my Jane. We lived on this evergreen island for more than 5 years. During this time we had our two most beautiful and amazing babies, Yannick and Matilda. We realised how hospitable Irish people are, how very magical this country is and from all of this I began a relationship with the festive season I had never known…

And for this miracle, I have to give full credit to my wife Jane who has always made our Christmas feel magical and special, but especially to Valerie (my mother-in-law, who very sadly passed away in April) who would make us feel so welcome and literally showered us with tons of presents, delicious meals, and handfuls of sweets, but also had tremendous patience and love to give to all of us. I will be forever grateful to her, wherever she is now, for this constant love and generosity that she distributed to all of us, without ever expecting anything in exchange. She made Christmas so very special and unique for us.

Valerie
Our dearest dodee ❤

So why is Christmas 2020 so different? 

  • This year has been one of the toughest for the human race that I have ever experienced in my lifetime. But with so much sadness, anxiety and depression, I feel mentally and emotionally ready for that joy the Christmas holidays normally bring: closeness, family, tradition and new memories. This year we will be starting our new family tradition as this will be our first Christmas season without our dearest Doedee. I also hate the fact that so many elderly people will be spending Christmas on their own, without friends and family around them. It makes no sense, almost as if we are celebrating and grieving at the same time.
  • I don’t need to remind you of what’s going on right now, as it seems that almost every part of the world is on partial or full lockdown with very strict travelling measures put in place. So, no travelling to Ireland for us this year, and instead we are spending Christmas in Mallorca. We will, for the very first time, be spending Christmas at home in our hometown of Puerto Pollensa with our son, his girlfriend and our daughter…

Public health experts say that the safest, most prudent approach to the holidays this year is to stay home. To be “all in this thing together” means we must stay apart.

My daughter Matilda will be apart from her loved one, so she has composed a Christmas song for all those people in the same situation.

  • Millions of households have been severely hit by unemployment, or business closure and are struggling economically. I personally have been furloughed for many months and I have to admit that we have had to cut down on our extras and keep a watchful eye on our expenses this Christmas.
  • Our Christmas bubble is restricted to 6 people (all from the same cohabitation group), so you must pick carefully who you decide to share your turkey dinner with! And remember to order a smaller turkey this year, but if meat is not your thing I have left here a few vegan options for you to enjoy this Christmas. Find here 6 turkey substitutes for a vegan Christmas.
  • This year’s work celebrations seem certain to take place on Zoom or to be cancelled altogether. So seeing friends for a pre-Christmas drink or meal will probably not be allowed.
  • All the following prevention measures must be maintained as much as possible; wearing face masks; washing hands frequently; maintaining social distancing; maximising ventilation, keeping windows and doors open and minimising the number of people we have contact with.
Christmas in Palma
Walking the street of Palma feels so christmassy!
  • And If you have the misfortune of being infected with Covid 19 or have some symptoms you should not attend any family or social gatherings.
  • This year most of your present shopping will be done online. As more and more shops are compelled to close, there will be a whopping 30 to 50% surge in online sales.
  • And finally, if the pandemic was not enough for 2020, another life-changing event is happening a few days before Christmas.  On December 21, a rare alignment between Jupiter and Saturn, also known as a Great Conjunction, is set to shake things up politically, socially, and in your personal life as well.

The last time Saturn and Jupiter, the largest planets in our solar system, orbited as closely as they will on December 21st and were visible in the sky, the year was 1226.

Almost 800 years later, on Monday, these titanic orbs will once again appear in the heavens just one-tenth of a degree apart — about the thickness of a dime held at arm’s length, according to NASA.

Astrophiles and other skywatchers are so excited, to say the least, as this once in a lifetime event is predicting a time of rebirth. This conjunction falls on the winter solstice so close to Christmas that it is also called the Christmas star.  Basically, it’s going to be cool. Or as Renu Malhotra, a professor of planetary sciences at the University of Arizona, put it to The Times: “It’s a very romantic event to see these planets approaching each other.”

Christmas Star
Great conjunction happening on 21st of December!

Such powerful forces acting in conjunction are bound to have some effect on us, on our home planet earth. I don’t understand too much about astrology but I know I will be meditating during this week. I hope to take advantage of these huge forces to wish for health and prosperity for this coming decade.

I am sure there are many more reasons why this Christmas 2020 is so different, and maybe you want to share with us which ones are yours?

My conclusions!

Way beyond all this sadness, anxiety, and depression that has gripped the entire human race in 2020 I want to remain positive and hopeful for next year. But primarily my message is one of gratitude, for my extraordinary health and for my loved ones, for having adequate food and shelter, for having my amazing kids back to Mallorca with us, for the incredible privilege of sharing my days with my darling wife, and finally to live on such a beautiful island.

I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future but I doubt that in my long life I will see so many life-changing events happen in one year. Whatever happens in the future constant change is guaranteed !!!

Take care, my friends, Merry Christmas to all and I will be back next week.

Smart Living To 100.

Feeling stressed? Adaptogenic herbs might be the answer! Part 2.

What are the 12 best adaptogenic herbs?

As herbal treatments, adaptogens date back hundreds and maybe thousands of years in the Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a renaissance today.

adaptogens
Ginger is one of the best adaptogenic herbs!

 They have become the buzzword in the wellness world, and they are popping up in every podcast, health studies and lifestyle blog. What we know is that they help us counteract the effects of stress. But what are they, really? How do they work? And what are the 12 best adaptogenic herbs, that will ultimately make your life easier? 

I don’t know about you but with all that’s going on in the world right now, any help, and I really mean, any help is welcome! I have only used a few of them but I believe that these adaptogenic herbs can really help in alleviating the weight of many modern stressors like pollution, noise, unhealthy foods, job uncertainty, difficult relationships, etc. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, according to research on adaptogens, they might actually be as good as they sound.  Keep on reading, and find out what are the remaining, 6 best adaptogenic herbs and what they can do for you!!!

What are adaptogen herbs?

Adaptogens can be thought of as herbal pharmaceuticals( and some mushrooms) that support the body’s natural ability to deal with the effect of both short and long term biological and physical stress. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to adapt their function in accordance with the specific needs of the body. Some of them are stimulants and others are relaxing, they are found in a growing list of teas, drinks, extracts and powder. They are also used as a healthy alternative to prescribed medication like anabolic steroids and stimulants containing caffeine, and sugar, and have no side effects.  There are dozens of these plants that grow naturally around the world in the harshest environments, and I have included 12 of the most popular one with their associated benefits, in the 2 lists, Part 1 ( last week’s blog), and Part 2 with the remaining 6 on the list.

How do adaptogens work?

 Stress can cause real physical changes in the body, by harming the neurological, endocrine, and immune system.   Dr Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute says,” Adaptogens may do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles. When we exercise, it’s a stress on our body. But as we continue to train and exercise, our body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or as high a heart rate”. 

Powell says the plants do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress. Adaptogens may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—functions as it should, Powell says.

DrTeiraona Low Dog, a well-known western doctor who specializes in herbal medicine, said ¨Adaptogens could be the most important class of plants that we are going to find in the 21st century. “On top of daily meditation, healthier eating, and writing daily in a journal, these herbs could be an essential part of helping you manage your stress.”

ginseng
Both types of ginseng are beneficial to your health!

What are the best adaptogenic herbs? And what are they used for?

Studies now show over 75 different plants could be classified as adaptogenic herbs. The list down below will contain some of the most researched adaptogens and what they are used for, including  Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​), Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus), Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi), black seed oil, Curcumin (Turmeric),  Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus​), Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea​).

Find the first 6 adaptogenic herb in Part 1;

Garlic

Garlic is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive and Chinese onion. It is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran and has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use. Garlic is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Adaptogens should not be considered as a ‘miracle cure’, experts caution. They should be considered as part of a whole-body treatment that includes a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep.  Researchers have found they have several effects on the body:

  • neuroprotective elements
  • anti-fatigue properties
  • antidepressive effects
  • stimulant for the central nervous system
  • increase mental work capacity
  • attention enhancement

As a word of caution, while there are some health benefits to adaptogens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor the quality or purity of herbs and supplements like over-the-counter products. Talk with your doctor before taking adaptogens.

What are the best adaptogenic herbs? And what are they used for?

Studies now show over 75 different plants could be classified as adaptogenic herbs. The list down below will contain some of the most researched adaptogens and what they are used for, including  Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​), Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus), Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi), black seed oil, Curcumin (Turmeric),  Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus​), all in Part 1, and Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea​) all in Part 2.

Ginger

Ginger is a plant with leafy stems and yellowish-green flowers. The ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. Ginger is native to warmer parts of Asia, such as China, Japan, and India, but now is grown in parts of South American and Africa. It is also now grown in the Middle East to use as medicine and with food.

Ginger is commonly used for many types of nausea and vomiting. It is also used for menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, diabetes, migraine headaches, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

One of the chemicals in ginger is also used as an ingredient in laxative, anti-gas and antacid medications.

Ginkgo Biloba

As the most commonly used adaptogenic supplements for brain health, ginkgo Biloba also offers impressive cardiovascular and nervous system benefits.

Ginkgo is the world’s oldest cognitive-enhancing plant.

Because ginkgo trees are the oldest living trees, at over 250 million years, the use of ginkgo as a cognitive enhancer likely precedes these 10,000 years of recorded history.

Much like curcumin, ginkgo has a wide array of confirmed health benefits.

Many like the fact ginkgo is one of the most well-researched supplements one can use.

Ginkgo Benefits

• Anxiety

• Antioxidants

• Blood Pressure

• Blood Flow (Brain, Eyes, Cutaneous, and Peripheral)

• Depression

• Diabetes and Diabetic Symptoms

• LDL Oxidation

• Eye Health

• Peripheral Nerves

• Skin Appearance

Dosage and use: Standardized extract of 120 mg used twice a day. EGb 761 is the most common ginkgo extract we find in research studies.

ginseng
Ginseng!

Ginseng

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and the more commonly used Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) are the two main types of ginseng.

Only Panax and American ginseng are actually ginseng, as all other ginseng come from different plant families.

Asian ginseng also called “Red Ginseng” is recognized as the only “true ginseng.”

In Chinese medicine, Panax ginseng stimulates “yang” energy, which is stimulating and heating, while American, or “White Ginseng”, is thought to promote “cooling” energy.

Ginseng Benefits

• Alzheimer’s (Unconfirmed)

• Antioxidants

• Erectile Dysfunction

• Cognitive Function

• Colon Cancer

• Fatigue

• Fertility (Male)

• Immunity

• Inflammation

• Ovarian Cancer

• Overall Cancer Risk (Men Only)

• Pancreatic Cancer

Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides)

Rhaponticum carthamoides, also known as Maral root or Rhaponticum, is a herbaceous perennial plant from the family Asteraceae that inhabits the sub-alpine zone as well as alpine meadows. It can be found growing wild in Southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Altay region, and Western Sayan Mountains.

Modern herbalists have used Rhaponticum to support physical and mental endurance and natural resilience. The herb can help promote stamina, and it can support lean muscle mass and healthy oxygen levels in muscles before and during exercise. As an adaptogen, it helps support the body’s healthy physical stress response, which is controlled by the adrenal glands. In human studies, Rhaponticum has been shown to support normal glucose levels, and it has been shown to offer antioxidant and immune support. Rhaponticum has also been used to support healthy transitions during menopause.

 Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea)

Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae. It grows naturally in wild Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, and can be propagated as a groundcover. Traditionally, it was used to attempt to increase endurance, work performance, and tolerance of high altitudes and to treat fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms. Today, Rhodiola is promoted to increase energy, stamina, strength, and mental capacity, improve athletic performance, resist the effects of stress, and help manage depression, anxiety, and other symptoms.

My conclusion

 Adaptogen herbs could be an essential part of helping you manage stress, but they should not be considered as a ‘miracle cure’. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with a whole-body treatment and care that already includes;

Love
Adaptogens are a great help, but in the end love conquers all!!

I believe stress in small and controlled ways can be a good thing because it can mobilize our body to cope with changes and challenges. But on the other hand, too much stress can damage your health. So maybe the key to a long and healthy life is being able to manage this fine line between too much and too little stress. In this continuous tug of war, adaptogens can be a great help.

The list of adaptogen herbs here above is non exhaustive, and if you know of others please share them with the community. 

Until next week, take care my friends.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Feeling stressed? Adaptogenic herbs might be the answer! Part 1.

What are the 12 best adaptogenic herbs?

As herbal treatments, adaptogens date back hundreds and maybe thousands of years in the Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a renaissance today.

Ginkgo biloba
What are the best adaptogens?

They have become the buzzword in the wellness world, and they are popping up in every podcast, health study and lifestyle blog. What we know is that they help us counteract the effects of stress. But what are they, really? How do they work? And what are the 12 best adaptogenic herbs that will, ultimately, make your life easier? 

I don’t know about you, but with all that’s going on in the world right now, any help, and I really mean any help, is welcome! I have only used a few of them but I believe that these adaptogenic herbs can really help in alleviating the weight of many modern stressors like pollution, noise, unhealthy foods, job uncertainty, difficult relationships, etc. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, according to research on adaptogens, they might actually be as good as they sound.  Keep on reading, and discover what these 12 best adaptogenic herbs can do for you!!! To be more precise Part 1 will unveil the first 6, and Part 2, the others!

stress
These are stressful time! Adaptogens can help couteract the effects of stress!

What are adaptogen herbs?

Adaptogens can be thought of as herbal pharmaceuticals that support the body’s natural ability to deal with the effect of both short and long term biological and physical stress. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to adapt their function in accordance with the specific needs of the body. Some of them are stimulants and others are relaxing, they are found in a growing list of teas, drinks, extracts and powder. They are also used as a healthy alternative to prescribed medication like anabolic steroids and stimulants containing caffeine and sugar and have no side effects.  There are dozens of these plants that grow naturally around the world in the harshest environments, and in the list below, I have included 12 of the most popular ones with their associated benefits.

How do adaptogens work?

Stress can cause real physical changes in the body, by harming the neurological, endocrine and immune system.   Dr Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute says,” Adaptogens may do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles. When we exercise, it’s a stress on our body. But as we continue to train and exercise, our body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or get as high a heart rate”. 

Powell says the plants do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress. Adaptogens may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—functions as it should, Powell says.

DrTeiraona Low Dog, a well-known western doctor who specializes in herbal medicine, said ¨Adaptogens could be the most important class of plants that we are going to find in the 21st century. “On top of daily meditation, healthier eating, and writing daily in a journal, these herbs could be an essential part of helping you manage your stress.”

ginseng
Both types of ginseng are beneficial to your health!

Adaptogens should not be considered as a ‘miracle cure’, experts caution. They should be considered as part of a whole-body treatment that includes a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep.  Researchers have found they have several effects on the body:

  • neuroprotective elements
  • anti-fatigue properties
  • antidepressive effects
  • stimulant for central nervous system
  • Increase mental work capacity
  • Enhance attention

As a word of caution, while there are some health benefits to adaptogens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor the quality or purity of herbs and supplements like over-the-counter products. Talk with your doctor before taking adaptogens.

What are the best adaptogenic herbs? And what are they used for?

Studies now show over 75 different plants could be classified as adaptogenic herbs. The list down below will contain some of the most researched adaptogens and what they are used for, including  Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​), Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus), Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi), black seed oil, Curcumin (Turmeric),  Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus​), Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea​).

Ashwagandha: Indian Ginseng

Both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine have used Ashwagandha as a popular adaptogenic plant, and now its popularity is growing in the western world.

Ashwagandha is popularly used for boosting immunity, anti-ageing, joint pain and insomnia. Due to its active ingredient called withanolides, Ashwagandha is also used as an “adaptogen” to help the body cope with daily stress, as a general tonic and for improving thinking ability. It also improves the brain’s memory functions like attention and concentration, hence helping with the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. It enables the body to reserve and sustain vital energy throughout the day while promoting sound, peaceful sleep at night.” These varied benefits are what makes Ashwagandha a go-to choice in Indian herbal medicine.

Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, delivers clinically proven anti-anxiety effects comparable to lorazepam. Dosages vary depending on your needs, but 250–500 mg per day for at least one month seem effective.

anxiety
Is anxiety stopping you? Ashwagandha could help!

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus)

Astragalus is an essential Chinese anti-ageing adaptogenic herb with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be used topically for wounds.

Possessing antiviral properties, astragalus has been used as an immune-stimulant in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Recent studies are showing astragalus might be the top kidney and urinary system adaptogenic supplement.

Dosage and use: Proteinuria clinical effects in kidney disease studies are achieved using 15 grams of astragalus per day. Patients with kidney disorder, nephrotic syndrome, using 7.5 to 15 grams of daily astragalus after three to six months experience a 38% improvement in their condition.

Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi)

Bacopa monnieri is a perennial, creeping herb native to the wetlands of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. It is known by the common names water hyssop, Brahmi, thyme-leaved gratiola, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort.

Bacopa monnieri is a popular nootropic supplement from traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

Multiple studies confirm Bacopa’s adaptogenic benefits through lowering cortisol levels during stress while improving cognitive performance for individuals dealing with chronic stress.

Naturally, bacopa is thought of as an adaptogenic supplement for anxiety and cognition.

While studies show bacopa anti-anxiety effects as mild, studies show its effects on memory improvement as notable.

Dosage and use: Standardized extract of 300 to 450 mg per day is the average bacopa dosage range.

Black Seed Oil

Nigella sativa is a small flowering shrub with purple or white-tinged flowers that grows in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and western Asia.

While it may look unsuspecting, the shrub produces fruits that have tiny black seeds. These black seeds have been used in remedies for thousands of years.

Archaeologists even found black seeds in King Tut’s tomb, emphasizing their importance in history for healing and protection. They’re also used in cooking to add flavour to bread, curries, and pickles. When eaten, the seeds have a bitter flavour that’s often compared to cumin or oregano.

balck seed oil

With Islamic historical records showing black seed is, “a cure for every disease (except death)¨, black seed oil or black cumin oil can protect against cellular damage.

Pressed from the seeds of Nigella sativa shrub, black seed oil is a plant loaded in thymoquinone, a phytochemical compound we believe to possess anti-cancer properties, along with an array of other benefits.

With antioxidant, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic, antiallergic, antitussive, and bronchodilatory actions, black seed is also likely effective for other respiratory disorders, such as asthma. Lung protective black seed oil is an effective adaptogenic supplement for allergies and nasal congestion.

In use for thousands of years for medicine, food, and even cosmetics, many use black seed oil in the same way as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Black seed oil is being researched as a COVID-19, coronavirus inhibitor, because of similar effects on previous respiratory viral infections.

Dosage and use: Standardized extract of 500 mg one to two times per day is the average black seed oil dosage.

Curcumin

Curcumin is arguably the top overall supplement for health optimizers, after the 5 core supplements.

As the “King of Adaptogens,”, curcumin acts as “Nature’s Anti-inflammatory.”

Inflammation and our immune system are critical wellness regulators as they are both involved with practically every known modern disease.

Studies show curcumin can promote healthy cells while improving our immune system’s response in detecting and interfering with the replication of pathogens and cancer cells.

With 4,000 years of use and as a member of the ginger family, turmeric, (Curcuma longa), is a sacred plant in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, and now has growing support for its use in western medicine.

From antioxidants to anti-inflammatory actions to cardiovascular and cognitive support, and beyond the polyphenol, curcumin is a top supplement for all health optimizers.

Curcumin acts as a popular anti-inflammatory with extensive supporting research offering noteworthy body and brain benefits.

Curcumin Benefits

Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Most studies used turmeric extracts that are standardized to include large amounts of curcumin.

Chronic inflammation contributes to many common Western diseases. Curcumin can suppress many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation.

• Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects. It neutralizes free radicals on its own but also stimulates your body’s own antioxidant enzymes.

Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

• Curcumin leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer.

• Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.

• Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in your brain.

• A study in 60 people with depression showed that curcumin was as effective as Prozac in alleviating symptoms of the condition.

•Due to its many positive health effects, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer, curcumin may aid longevity.

Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.

Dosage and use: Up to 2,000 mg per day in standardized extract form depending on the indication. Quality and type are critically important in getting curcumin to work as an adaptogenic herb.

Curcumin
Curcumin, the king of adaptogens!!

Eleuthero or siberian ginseng

Eleuthero is a small, woody shrub. People use the root of the plant to make medicine. Eleuthero is sometimes called “Siberian ginseng”. But eleuthero is not related to true ginseng. Don’t confuse it with American or Panax ginseng.

Eleuthero is often called an “adaptogen.” This is a non-medical term used to describe compounds that might improve resistance to stress. But there is no good evidence showing that eleuthero has adaptogen-like effects.

Eleuthero is used for diabetes, athletic performance, memory and thinking skills (cognitive function), the common cold, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence supporting most of its uses.

The next 6 adaptogens will be revealed next week, in part 2...

My conclusion

Adaptogen herbs could be an essential part of helping you manage stress, but they should not be considered as a ‘miracle cure’. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with a whole-body treatment and care that already includes;

Love
Adaptogens are a great help, but in the end love conquers all!!

I believe stress in small and controlled ways can be a good thing because it can mobilize our body to cope with changes and challenges. But on the other hand, too much stress can damage your health. So maybe the key to a long and healthy life is being able to manage this fine line between too much and too little stress. In this continuous tug of war, adaptogens can be a great help.

The list of adaptogen herbs here above is non-exhaustive, and if you know of others please share them with the community. 

Until next week, take care my friends.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

10 reasons why love can make you live longer!!

As you know far too well, what you eat and how you move your body matters for longevity. But what about Love?

Loving relationship
Love conquers all!!

According to the Beatles, “ All we need is Love”, not entirely true, of course, but a loving relationship, loving someone and being loved in return, not only makes you happier, it can help you live longer. All these benefits are especially important during these difficult covid times when loneliness and isolation are high. In our household, there is no shortage of love, and it has been and continues to be, a real lifesaver in this uncertain and ever-changing world. In my quest for a long, healthy and fulfilling life to 100, I have come up with a list of reasons why we should make a conscious effort to focus on love and meaningful relationships rather than disempowering and negative thoughts.  So here they are, in no particular order, the ” 10 reasons why love can make you live longer”.

Reason nº1: Love is free.

The world of wellness is a 4.2 trillion dollar industry. From supplements to superfoods, stem cell infusion, detox programs and much more, people are constantly chasing the latest and best habit or miracle product to help them live longer. A very costly pursuit, to be sure.  But loving is free, all you need is love in your heart and the willingness to share it and spread it. Scientists call these factors soft health drivers and love is not the only one, gratitude, optimism, kindness, compassion and volunteerism are a few more. They can make everyday living better and add years, if not decades, to your life.

loving couple
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” …

Reason nº2: Love is healthy for us!

These soft health drivers appear to be connected with reducing stress and inflammation, increasing feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin, having positive effects on emotions and supporting your overall brain health. 

Meaningful touch, like intimacy from a loving relationship or even non-sexual touch amongst friends, can have positive effects on our immune system, on our nervous system and on our mood. It can lower blood pressure, improve the way we fight illnesses and increase oxytocin which plays a role in social bonding. In fact, the power of touch from a positive relationship and its effect on the body is such that in some cases people have recovered much faster from an illness or an injury. Martha Zaraska, author of the book,” Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100” says “The truth is, it’s extremely biological and physiological,” and explains that. “We are social apes. We evolved to be living in our tribe and this is how our bodies function the best.”

Reason nº3: Protects the brain!

Love and meaningful relationships have a positive effect on the brain as they tend to slow down mental decline over time. It’s as if it protects your brain, and keeps your memories sharper for longer!

love increases oxytocin
The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard but must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

Reason nº 4: Love Reduces stress!

To say that love heals all might be a bit of an overstatement! But from a medical point of view, a strong connection with loved ones protects the body from producing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And this, in turn, offers protection from various diseases including cardiovascular diseases, heart attack in particular..

Reason nº5: Love helps you cope with work!

As an employee or a business owner, we are all too well aware of the challenges and demands that work has on our daily life. It’s been even tougher during this covid pandemic. Believe it or not, love can help us cope with this area of life too. When you love and you feel loved at home and in your close social circle, you tend to build a solid ground around you, and it’s this place of security and confidence that helps you to endure and/or thrive in your workplace.

Reason nº6: Love Prevents Broken heart syndrome!

I had never heard of Broken heart syndrome until now. This syndrome results from acute emotional stress and can lead to actual heart failure. It is believed that high levels of stress hormones which are released in response to fear, anxiety, loneliness, etc, may trigger the syndrome. Love and meaningful relationships can be a powerful remedy to this Broken heart syndrome.

Love is for always
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. Audrey Hepburn

Reason nº 7: Love helps release oxytocin!

Oxytocin also is known as “ The love hormone” is released after childbirth to build a solid bond between mother and baby. Oxytocin plays a major role during relationships and many other human interactions. This hormone has antidepressant effects, lower cortisol levels and boosts your immune system.

Every time you gaze lovingly into your Dogs or Cats eyes, its levels of oxytocin, also know as the “attachment hormone” — go up. And so do yours. Oxytocin is released when we hug, touch, or look lovingly into someone’s eyes. 

Dog releases oxytocin
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France, French Poet

Reason nº 8: Love requires training!

If you look at the huge flow of decisions we make on a continuous base, those that are motivated by thoughtful consideration come from our higher mind (frontal lobe), whereas those based on fear and survival instincts come from a more primitive mind (amygdala). When decisions are informed by our higher mind, they are more likely to lead to positive outcomes. Alternatively, decisions driven by survival instincts from the past don’t have such a positive outcome and tend to hold us back.

At any given moment we have the choice of allowing our thoughts and actions to be moved by impulses such as anger, frustration, jealousy, and boredom, or to consciously switch to acting out of love, kindness and compassion. And just as physical health requires exercise, good emotional health requires regular and conscious efforts to focus on more positive emotions. And you will soon notice that by choosing love over any other negative emotion, your body will immediately be filled with a sensation of calm and peace.

Try it! It’s so satisfying and it might even bring a smile to your face!  Devoting time to the art of love is a smart investment, as it plays a major role in your own happiness, but also helps you live healthier for longer.

loving your kids
The giving of love is an education in itself. Eleanor Roosevelt

Reason nº9: Love keeps our brain growing!

Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, emphasizes that “Of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important,”. Our brains, Cozolino writes, are social organs, and that means that we are wired to connect with each other and to interact in groups. A life that maximizes social interaction and human-to-human contact is good for the brain at every stage, particularly for the ageing brain. I couldn’t agree more!!

“How we bond and stay attached to others is at the core of our resilience, self-esteem and physical health,” Cozolino writes. “We build the brains of our children through our interaction with them, and we keep our own brains growing and changing throughout life by staying connected to others.”

Reason nº10: Love helps us lead extraordinarily long lives! 

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks! For far too long we have associated ageing with loss and mental decline.  Since the human brain is almost endlessly adapting throughout the life cycle and new neurons continue to grow until the end of life, change is as possible for older people as for infants. As we grow older, what may be lost in short-term memory is balanced by an ability to reflect and to hold multiple perspectives and may become more compassionate. 

loving grandparents
To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Cozolino’s conviction is that “ People who lead extraordinarily long lives are those who have maintained close ties to others. Centenarians tend to be more extraverted and have higher morale, indicative of reaching out to others, giving and receiving support, and maintaining attachments.

I totally share this conviction, and as a father (not yet a grandfather) my prime mission in life is to continually enrich my close ties to others. Primarily, to my wife and kids, and extending this circle to family, friends and possibly to strangers as well.

 My Conclusion!

I do believe Love to be the biggest contributing factor to living a happy, healthy and fulfilling life until your 100th birthday! I am not diminishing the importance of what you eat, and how much you move, but ultimately it’s the quality of your close relationships that matter most.

So, more than ever, this is the time to unglue your hands from your mobile phones, refrain from scrolling through Facebook, and take a break from watching your favourite TV series. Instead, reach out to old friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, learn a new hobby with your spouse, engage more with your kids or grandkids because the key to a long and happy life is nurturing the relationships that bring you the most joy!

As a final note, I would like to add one of Cozolino’s practical advice gems for older people. “Those who are grandparents have a clear opportunity to nurture their grandchildren, help that is sorely needed in this day and age. For others, volunteering in various capacities can foster healthy relationships. Not only are such connections good for aging people themselves, but they are also beneficial for society as a whole. 

He writes, “Instead of putting our elders out to pasture, we might learn to harness the experience, affection, and time they have to offer.”

Take care my friends, until next week!

Don’t forget to spread the Love.

Smart Living To 100.

How to start a fasting routine that works for you?

feeling energized.
Fasting activates the rejuvination process!

I believe that each and every person on this beautiful planet, including you, was born with a unique purpose or calling and to achieve this purpose we must equip ourselves with a sound body and mind and take the necessary steps to live for as long as possible. My purpose is to get to my 100th birthday, feeling happy, healthy and fulfilled. Fasting is one of my primary strategies and whether you do it daily, weekly or monthly, this ancestral practice is probably the most important and potent tool to promote healthy ageing and longevity, as well as improve and maintain ideal body composition (weight loss), optimize performance and just to feel energized and amazing.

Now that we got the belief part out of the way, the real question in everybody’s mind is: How to start a fasting routine that works for you? By the time you finish reading this week’s blog, you will see why you should fast, learn the various forms of fasting and intermittent fasting that anyone can start and, most importantly, how to implement fasting in your routine.

Why Should We Fast?

Three years ago if you had asked me to skip breakfast, I would have laughed and walked away! Like most people, I was grazing all day, having snacks, energy bars and power drinks between my meals and to give me a boost for my daily workouts. Little did I know at the time that this constant feasting mode could have some serious long term implications for my health and my longevity, such as…

  • Increased risk of inflammation
  • Inefficient digestion and elimination of waste
  • Always using sugar for fuel as opposed to fat 
  • Increased fat storage, especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor defenses
  • Prevention of the body’s natural process of rejuvenation .

At that time, when a friend of mine told me all the benefits that a simple 12 hour fast could have on your body I started being interested.

intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting and excercise will keep you in optimal shape!

 Here are a few of the benefits of fasting:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased fat burning and the mild ketosis
  • Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels
  • Improved mental clarity and concentration
  • Increased energy due to increased fat metabolism and ketone production.
  • Reduction of brain fog
  • Possibly increasing growth hormone.
  • Can contribute to a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Depending on the length of the fasting, activation of cellular cleansing by stimulating autophagy which is the cellular self-cleansing process that breaks down and recycles damaged molecules and cellular organelles.
  • Better blood lipid markers including cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and blood pressure.
  • Get lean without losing muscle mass by stimulating growth hormone and testosterone.
  • Potentially increase longevity, as when you are fasting your body finds ways to extend your life.
  • Normalise appetite by regulating ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
  • Improve sleep quality

This is like taking a magic pill that extends lifespan and promotes anti-ageing effects. So what is fasting?

What is Fasting and intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is probably the most popular way to get the benefits of caloric restriction without starving yourself. In simple terms, Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There are several different intermittent fasting times, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.  Water, black coffee and unsweetened tea during the fasting period are typically fine.

  • Time-restricted feeding: Consuming all foods within a 3 to 12-hour window, so you have at least 12 hours of fasting daily. That’s right, just by changing your mealtimes and reducing the number of hours you eat, you are already getting most of the benefits of fasting. This is not a diet, and during your feeding time, you don’t count calories nor restrict them. 
  • 12:12 Overnight fasting; Fast all night long for 12 hours Feed during the day in the remaining 12-hour window.

14:10 Fast for 14 hours, feed in a 10 hour window.

16:8 The 16/8 method, also called the Leangains protocol is probably one of the most popular ones for weight loss, where you skip breakfast and restrict your feeding window to 8 hours, such as from 12.30 to 8.30 pm. Then fast again for 16 hours.

 8 hour feeding window is one of the most popular ones.

  • Alternate day fasting (ADF): As the name indicates, you eat normally for 24 hours and then not eat ( fast ) for the next 24 hours. Dr Jason Fung outlines that ADF in humans has been found to both improve metabolic health by promoting improved blood glucose management, blood lipid profiles, and metabolic flexibility, while also reducing weight. However, this is not recommended as a long term approach for most people. 
  • Eat – STOP – Eat, is one of the simplest fasting methods as you fast for 24h (for example, fasting from 8 pm to 8 pm the next day) once or twice a week. This a more manageable approach, I used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Mondays were easier to do as weekends were my feast days.
  • Warrior diet: Fast for 20 Hours, feeding window 4 hours;

The Warrior Diet is quickly becoming a common option and choice among fitness experts for losing fat and gaining lean muscle. The diet itself was created and researched by Ori Hofmekler, it extends the fasting window to 20 hours and compresses the eating time down to just four hours. The warrior diet encourages some snacking throughout the day, by munching on things like raw fruits and vegetables. Then, it suggests a feast at night, usually in the form of a large dinner.

  • One Meal A Day (OMAD)Fasting window: 23 Hour and only 1 hour eating time

This is one of the most controversial dietary options due to its limited food intake throughout the day. However, the OMAD diet has been proven to be beneficial for the human body.

Feed: Choosing your feeding window is important. It may be best to eat breakfast or lunch to ensure proper sleep. If you choose dinner, ensure it’s at least 3 hours prior to bedtime.

  • Fasting mimicking diet( FMD): For 4 to 5 days reduce your calorie intake to about 40 per cent of your normal food or calorie intake. Then go back to normal.

OPTIMAL TIMING

A 12-16 hour fasting window seems to be ideal for most people. Females tend to do better with longer feeding windows, like 10-12 hours. My most preferred window is also the 16 hours fasting between 8 pm and 12 am because it fits with my working schedule as I simply ignore breakfast and carry on my fast till lunchtime.

Prolonged or Extended Fasts

Amongst the fasting experts, it is believed that the most dramatic anti-ageing benefits are attained if the fast is prolonged between 3 to 10 days. It’s recommended to work with a medical provider before undertaking a fast longer than two days. In essence, the real benefit of prolonged fasting (more than 3 days) is to fully activate the rejuvenation response associated with fasting. Dr Valter Longo believes that this is the time frame when autophagy up-regulates and cellular regeneration peaks. Cognitive function improvement is also frequently reported.

In Jason Fung’s book “The Obesity Code”, he outlines two example methods of fasting; 24 hours & 36-hour fasts. Find out here 2 PDF download.

How do you do intermittent fasting?

Just to quote Dr Michael Eades “Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is the opposite –  it’s difficult in the contemplation and easy in the execution.”

If you have never gone more than 10 hours without eating, you will need to be introduced gently into intermittent fasting.  Gently means that you should do it at your own pace, it is a trial and error practise that must fit around your busy schedule. But the chances are that in your lifetime you have already skipped a meal and therefore have already been introduced to this fasting notion.

Before you start your fasting, make sure your last meal contains protein, fibres for slow digestion and fats to provide you with a long-lasting energy source.

1 – Start by 12 hours fasting and, for me, the easiest was from 8.30 pm to 8.30 am the next day. In truth, pick the time that suits you best, just after your evening meal, add 12 hours and that’s the time you can refuel with breakfast. Then once you have mastered the 12 hours fasting gap, over a 2 week period, then increase it by one hour every 2 weeks. See how you feel, take your time,  this is not a race, and if you want to stop at 12 hours, this is a great achievement.

2 – Regardless of when you fast, stay well hydrated with water and drinks such as herbal tea throughout the day.  Some people recommend black coffee, no sugar, no milk or cream, to stave off the hunger pangs during the fasting time. Needless to say that the water quality that you drink during your fasting is of the utmost importance. So pick some good quality glass bottled water or get it from a countertop reverse osmosis filtration system.

Black coffee is a great help when you start fasting!

3 – On fasting days avoid strenuous activities like a heavy gym session, CrossFit or long-distance running.  Instead, opt for low-intensity cardio, like a long walk or a light yoga routine.

4 – During your eating period, it is recommended to eat several small meals and snacks to stabilise your blood sugar levels and to keep your hunger under control.  The quality of your food is crucial and you should avoid the wrong calories, including refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose and grains.

5 – Once you have extended your fasting window from 12 to 16 hours, I would recommend maintaining it for at least a month, so it becomes a new habit. I would typically have lunch at 1 pm at work and enjoy my evening meal with my family at around 9 pm. Breakfast was typically a meal that I would eat on my own, so skipping it wasn’t a big deal. Do whatever works for you. 

6-Once you are comfortable with fasting for 16 hours a day and have done for at least a month, then jump to 24 hours fast is your next goal. I’ve done 24-hour fasts in the past, there is a wide range of variations and options but making it work into your schedule was by far my biggest hurdle. For example, in my case after skipping breakfast, if I was to skip lunch or work through my lunch hour, I would then refuel in the evening. Another perfect opportunity to throw in a 24 hour fast is during a long day of travel or the day after a big holiday feast. 

7 – There are many reasons why people fast, mine was merely to promote healthy ageing and longevity, maintain my ideal body weight, feel energized and amazing most of the time. So with this in mind, I came up with my ideal weekly fasting routine. This routine was simple but effective for me.

 Monday 24 hour fast, from sunday 8.30 pm to monday 8.30 pm

Tuesday 16 hour fast, from monday 8.30 pm to tuesday 1.30 pm

Wednesday  16 hour fast ,from tuesday 8.30 pm to wednesday 1.30 pm

Thursday 24 hour fast, from wednesday 8.30 pm to thursday 8.30 pm

Friday 16 hour fast, from thursday 8.30 pm to friday 1.30 pm

Saturday and Sunday, feasting time, I allow myself to eat whenever I feel like it !!

I would follow a 80 to 90 % varied plant based diet. 

plant base diet
Plant based diet.

Frequently asked question?

How long do you fast for? Simply put, it means you stop eating completely, or almost completely, for a certain stretch of time. A fast usually lasts from 12 to 24 hours, but some types continue for days at a time. In some cases, you may be allowed water, tea, and coffee or even a small amount of food during the fasting period.

Is fasting good for your health? Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol. It’s also thought that fasting may improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.

Is it safe to fast for 3 days? While fasting for 3 days is relatively safe for most people, it can be quite dangerous for some people. These exceptions include patients with diabetes, as it can lead to dangerous dips and spikes in blood sugar, pregnant women, new moms or breastfeeding women.

Should I intermittent fast every day? This cycle can be repeated as frequently as you like — from just once or twice per week to every day, depending on your personal preference. 16/8 intermittent fasting has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, especially among those looking to lose weight and burn fat.

How many hours should I fast to lose weight? While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours.

Conclusion

During these difficult times, where many of us are forced to be at home, it is easy to revert back to overfeeding, snacking, and constant grazing. I am not here to blame or judge, as my carefully planned feeding week went completely out the window during my first lockdown. Now home again for the second time this year, I didn’t want the same thing to happen again, so I tightened my schedule, injected a bit of discipline and came up with my new lockdown routine. 

I would love to hear your take on fasting during lockdown, and what works best for you?

Take care my friends, eat well ( but not too much) and see you next week.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Why we should support young music artist in 2020?

Do you think the world of music will ever return to normal? In the grip of the Covid 19 pandemic, some say the music scene as we know it is gone forever, while others offer a more gradual and positive view and are convinced we will return to as it was, or it will evolve to something better. Although online consumption has risen, music makers are still struggling. With cancelled concerts, tours and festivals ruled out, venues and gigs closed down, the young music artists are out of pocket for 2020 and possibly the best part of 2021. So, why should we support young artists in 2020?

Today, I want to share a video cover from a promising singer-songwriter called Matilda Gracia. Yes, she is my daughter, and yes I am biased, but like many other musicians she has had her career in London come to a halt because of this pandemic. Now she is back in Mallorca out of pocket but still producing music videos on youtube, writing numerous new songs and using this pause in time as fuel to keep her creativity flowing. As a way to support her as a young music artist, I wanted to share with you one of her latest videos, that we filmed at a beautiful location, on top of a mountain in the north of Mallorca.

Just like Matilda, millions of people around the world have turned to music to help them through the crisis. From balcony-based sing-alongs to megastar global broadcasts, from listening to the latest hits to learning a new instrument, music has become embedded in our responses to disrupted lives. For many people, it might have even been their lifeline to sanity whilst in isolation.  During my first lockdown, thanks to Spotify, I have rediscovered some older artists that I had completely forgotten, it has helped me punch through countless hours of training on my 2m square mat, and finally, music has made time feel sweeter than it really was.

This is hardly surprising, as music has so many health benefits ranging from improving mood, reducing stress and anxiety, improving memory and cognition, and has been proven to help autistic children and premature babies.

So how can we help young music artists?

  • Spare a few coins and donate to a local busker.
  • Do you miss live performances?

I know I do, we can still watch our favourite artists live stream from the comfort of our homes and, even better, donate the price that you would have paid for a ticket directly to them to show appreciation for their art. 

And if times are really really tough for you and you can’t donate anything right now there are still many ways to support independent artists. Sharing their music and videos on Facebook, Instagram, youtube or social media platforms, commenting and sharing directly to friends and family members. There are so many ways in which we can support the music industry, it’s important to support in as many ways as we can. 

I know I’ll do my best to support young music artists as they are the future of our music industry. I am not an avid music follower, but it has always been such a help to me especially during difficult moments.. boosting my morale, energising me and relieving some amount of stress.

So I would put music on my list of essentials, on my journey to 100.

Take care my friends, I hope you enjoy this video, and until next week.

Smart Living To 100

How can I optimize my sleep time?

How can I optimize my sleep time? I have asked myself this question many times…Maybe you have too. Maybe you spend long stressy hours at work and don’t seem to be able to wind down. Maybe you love staying up past midnight, eating and watching your favourite TV series on Netflix and can’t seem to get up in the morning. Maybe being busy parents all day long, you just feel tired and drained all the time. Whatever the case, lack of sleep or a night of poor sleep, can lead to inflammation, lack of energy, brain fog, and inhibit creativity, memory and cellular regeneration.

So, during my trip towards my 100th birthday, a good night’s sleep has become one of my most important travelling companions on the road to becoming a centenarian.

What does it mean to crack the code on sleep? In today’s blog, I will cover a few simple habits that you can implement before bedtime and what to do to limit the damage of a night of poor sleep.

Dog waiting for owner to wake up

How to prepare for a good night sleep?

1- Hack your sleep environment!

  • Your bed has to be comfortable!! Ensure your mattress is not too old.  Experts recommend changing it every 8 years to keep your sleep and rest quality in optimum condition.
  • Make sure to have comfortable pillows and a diffuser/ humidifier that gently releases soothing and relaxing essential oil fragrances. If you don’t have a diffuser just put a drop of your preferred essential oil under your pillow. Lavender works wonders for me. It slows me down immediately. Recent research found that lavender increases slow-wave sleep, instrumental for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. Subjects slept more soundly on a lavender night and were feeling more energetic the next morning. 
  • Keep your bedroom cool or even chilled. I sleep with the window open even in winter as it helps me to sleep better. If you live in a cold climate, keeping the window open may not be a good idea and if you live in warmer countries you could sleep with a chill pad. 
  • Others like a weighted blanket, like our grandparents, had!! Those heavy quilts would pin you down to the mattress and prevent you from moving.
  • If you live in warmer climates having mosquito nets at the windows or over your bed could drastically reduce sleep disturbance. Living in Mallorca, this a necessary precaution if you don’t want to be up all night chasing those annoying flying creatures.
Sleep disturbance
A big meal before bed could disturb your sleep

2- How light affects your sleep?

It is so important to respect your body’s natural rhythm, the sleep-wake cycle, also called a circadian rhythm. This is a biological clock that is controlled by a part of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, a group of cells that respond to light and dark signals.

Going to sleep at the same hour every day is so important! This will send a regular message to the body’s internal clock and will optimize your sleep quality. In practice, this means that you need to go to bed when you feel tired and wake up naturally at first light. Ideally, we should sleep between 7 to 9 hours every night, and whenever possible I like to be in bed by 10.30/11 pm in order to wake up at 6.30/7 am. This is not so easy to fine-tune but it is worth spending some time working on this to optimize your sleep quality. 

As you wake up, it is a good idea to go for a light to moderate walk for 10 to 20 mins. This very simple habit will get you moving and quick start your serotonin production. During the day, as you increase your sunlight exposure, your levels of serotonin rise in order to keep you awake and sharp until night time. Melatonin is the sleep hormone your brain produces when it is dark in order to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. As night time approaches, the production of melatonin increases to make you sleepy until it is daytime again. The precursor to melatonin is serotonin, so the more serotonin you produce during the day the more will be converted into melatonin at night, and the better you will sleep.

At night, avoid bright screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer screen, TV etc, prevents and/or delays the production of melatonin. So make sure your bedroom is a dark, restful place, and that no electronic devices are allowed in!

If you must stay up later than usual, wear blue light blockers. These special glasses block this blue light. It does take a few days to get used to the orange glow of those glasses, but once you have, you will notice a soothing and calming effect on your vision and eye muscles coupled with a slight mellow feeling. If you have to work from home or have an online business and work late on your computer, it is imperative that you did your screen from 8 pm onwards and wear your blue blockers.

Finally, stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights two hours before heading to bed. This last recommendation might make you smile…I have to admit, ever since we have Netflix, I haven’t been able to stick to this one. So I wear my blue blockers!

3-How Smells Affect your Sleep

The smell cells in our nose are directly linked to the limbic system. This is the oldest part of the brain and governs emotions, behaviours and long term memory. In a study held at the University of Heidelberg, participants that were exposed to pleasant smells (flower scents) had positive dreams, and those exposed to unpleasant ones (Sulfur lead) had bad dreams or nightmares. So why not use our sense of smell to improve your sleep quality?

Lavender, Rose and bergamot are 3 natural olfactory compounds that induce relaxation as they activate the “rest and digest “ parasympathetic nervous system ( PNS). Once activated, the PNS inhibits activity in organs related to the “fight or flight” response and excites organs used to “rest and digest” in order to calm and relax you.

coffee expresso
I would not include this expresso smell on the following list…

These scents can help you sleep better 

  • Rose: The smell of roses can actually lower blood pressure and the number of breaths you take per minute, which makes falling asleep easier.
  • Lavender: A classic soothing smell, lavender has been proven to lower anxiety, stress levels, pain and more by reducing your heart rate.
  • Geranium: If you are worried or nervous about something before going to bed, Geranium has a relaxing effect on the mood and is often named as a natural antidepressant.
  • Clary sage: Clary sage is different from regular sage, specifically regarding its effect on sleep, as it is considered to be more calming. A study also found clary sage had antidepressant effects for menopausal women.
  • Sweet marjoram: Once a staple fragrance of upper-class ladies, sweet marjoram is one of the most pleasant and classy scents around. There are multiple forms of marjoram, sweet marjoram being recommended specifically for insomnia due to its calming qualities.
  • Jasmine: Another bedtime classic, Jasmine has a rather sweet scent that studies have linked to reduced anxiety levels and higher sleep quality.

I love the smell of Lavender, it’s my all-time calming smell and to be honest one drop is sufficient to help me to drift off and breathe my way to a better night’s sleep.

4-How Sounds Affect your Sleep

As the saying goes, silence is golden. Sleeping in a noisy space not only disrupts the quality of your sleep, but it can also leave you feeling less satisfied with your overall sleep experience and unrested. At some point, you’ve probably laid awake, listening to the distant sound of sirens, barking dogs, noisy neighbours, and a myriad of noises that encroach in your nighttime sleep.  Part of the reason is that during sleep, the brain continues to register and process sounds, affecting everything from heart rate to blood pressure, which in turn can trigger you to wake up.

One of the most effective ways to dampen all those noises is either earplugs or special wrap-around headphones that can play relaxing nighttime sounds to lull you to sleep. 

Binaural beats are another sound hack for enhanced sleep, as they trick the brain into tuning to a specific frequency that will induce a state of sleep.

Coffee can help you stay awake

5-How a cool room improves your Sleep!

Ever since I started the Wim hof method, I am a great advocate of cold showers before my bedtime. This works wonders, especially if I had a big meal, or if I stayed up later than my normal time. As you probably know, the body temperature drops by as much as 2 degrees Cº while you sleep. Your core temperature is high during the day and drops at night. As you sleep your metabolic rate falls and you generate less heat.

So after a busy day of going to meetings, working out, eating too much, etc, it is important to have a cool down time to lower your body temperature before bedtime.

Other than the cold shower, some people prefer a warm shower, a hot-cold contrast shower ending on cold, cold air, or the use of chilipads. These Chilipads use water to generate a cool surface to sleep on. Just slip the pad underneath the sheets of your bed, “ et voila” you have an immediate cooldown effect… Whatever you use, just cool your body before sleep!

How to limit the damage of a night of poor sleep?

1- The first thing as you get up and start your day, is to rehydrate. Your cells need both water and minerals to maintain an aqueous balance, especially after a night of poor sleep. So it is important to drink plenty of water, consume good quality sea salt, and some sort of trace mineral drops.

2-Get moving out in the sun! One of the best ways to reset your biological clock is to get outside and catch some rays of sunshine and start moving. Whether you do a yoga session, a light aerobic workout, or simply a long walk, it’s all good! The subtle combination of daylight, light exercise and vitamin D will help to realign your circadian rhythm.

3- 20 min nap! So if you have missed a chunk of your ideal 7 to 9 hours of sleep, napping can be a good solution to help you get through sleep deprivation. It is advisable to limit your nap to 20 mins. Any longer and you run the risk of interfering with your next sleep cycle. If you feel one nap is not enough, take a second or a third one, as long as you keep it under 20 mins. This works for me, however, some sleep experts advise against it! I suppose because we are all different, the best you can do is try it!

4Limit your caffeine intake! After a night of poor sleep, your first reflex might be to consume large amounts of coffee. I have done that in the past and think” the more coffee the better”! Wrong! Although one to 2 cups of coffee might help your state of alertness, overconsumption of caffeine will interfere with your next night’s sleep, and will only contribute to deepening the sleep deprivation cycle.

5- Eat well! Avoid at all costs opting for refined carbs and fats. This will only make you more tired. Instead consume veggies, nuts and seeds, berries, eggs, porridge, fresh fruits, and if at all possible replace coffee with green tea. 

Sleeping
Sleep what a wonderful gift…

How can I optimize my sleep time FAQ

A-How can I get maximum slepp in less time?

Tips to sleep less

  1. Give yourself time to wind down. The goal here is to train your body to fall asleep when you’re tired. …
  2. Turn off your electronic devices. …
  3. Limit alcohol consumption at night. …
  4. Avoid caffeine late in the day. …
  5. Cooldown your bedroom. …
  6. Reduce noise. …
  7. Stick to a routine. …
  8. Buy a new pillow.

B-How long does it take to ajust to your sleep schedule?

Make adjustments in increments.

If you have less time to prepare for your new schedule, try 30 minutes, she said. (But no more than that.) Give yourself at least three or four nights to get comfortable with the new schedule. If it’s going well, on the fourth or fifth night, shave off another 15 minutes.

C-How can I fall asleep in 10 seconds?

The military method

  1. Relax your entire face, including the muscles inside your mouth.
  2. Drop your shoulders to release the tension and let your hands drop to the side of your body.
  3. Exhale, relaxing your chest.
  4. Relax your legs, thighs, and calves.
  5. Clear your mind for 10 seconds by imagining a relaxing scene.

D-Is sleeping naked better for your health?

Lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes

By sleeping naked, you may increase your ability to fall asleep faster and stay asleep, which could make all the difference when it comes to your health.

E-Is 4 hours of sleep enough?

For most people, 4 hours of sleep per night isn’t enough to wake up feeling rested and mentally alert, no matter how well they sleep. There’s a common myth that you can adapt to chronically restricted sleep, but there’s no evidence that the body functionally adapts to sleep deprivation.

My take on Sleep

For many years I haven’t paid attention to my sleep simply because I was able to slip under the duvet, close my eyes and drop off like a log. Ever since the first lockdown, I seem to have lost this magical ability. I suppose these uncertain times, with a possible job loss and the start of my own online business, were cause for worries and possibly have contributed to me having a lighter sleep than before. 

Nonetheless, after applying some of the strategies listed above and paying attention to my pre nighttime routine, this has been a game-changer for me. Sleep is so important, and it’s not until you experience poor sleep that you appreciate how really essential sleep really is.

With my new revised pre-sleep routine I feel ready to have much more quality sleeps before my 100th birthday.

Take care my friends, and until next week I wish you sweet slumber!!

Smart Living To 100.