The Human Spirit Needs Nature Which Heals Our Mind & Body

“The Human Spirit Needs Places Where Nature Has not Been Rearranged By the Hand of Man” ~Unknown~

Yay, warm weather is here, as we’re quickly approach the official first day of Summer. Like many of you, I long for this time of year when I can spend time outdoors and I also look forward to taking advantage of the many opportunities to reconnect with nature.  This longing for fun in the sun and fresh air is not only rejuvenating both physically and mentally, the great outdoors also offers us incredible healing benefits. Scientists have discovered that by spending time outside we increase our exposure to phytoncides which naturally reduce stress.  People who take walks in the park where they encounter many plants and trees, versus walks in the city where they are surrounded by buildings and cement sidewalks, had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure readings.  In several other studies, specifically one that took place in April 2007, showed an increase in white blood cells within a group of 12 healthy men ranging in ages 37-55 , who took two-hour walks in a forest over a two-day period.  In January 2008, a group of women who also participated in a very similar experiment entitled “forest bathing” had an increase in white blood cells and a reduction in anti-cancer proteins, which lasted up to one week due to their exposure of phytoncides which are found in forest air.

The beach is another place to go for wonderful healing benefits. Salt water is high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and bromide which not only accelerates the healing of cuts, it also helps to fight infections, reduces inflammation of joints and relieves muscle pain and soreness. Salt water also stimulates blood circulation, increases moisture retention, detoxifies and promotes cellular regeneration.  As a result it offers beautifying and anti-aging benefits, for both the inner and outer body.  Regular beach time & salt water swimming also offers healing benefits for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.  In summary, spending quality time in nature, offers us incredible physical and psychological benefits, such as recovery from stress,  increased relaxation, decreased mental fatigue, better performance, restored mental clarity, increased immune function for improved heath, healing and an increased overall sense of well-being.

Best Places to Enjoy Nature

1) Beach

2) Mountains

3) Local Parks

4) National Parks

5) Landscapes

6) Camp Sites

A Few Outdoor Nature Activities for Summer:

1) Walking

2) Biking

3) Hiking

4) Rollerblading

3) Boating

4) Kayaking

5) Canoeing

 6) Paddle Boarding

7) Swimming

8) Camping

9)  Outdoor Meditation & Relaxation

10) Outdoor Yoga & Fitness Classes

Want to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally? Increase the amount of time that you spend outdoors surrounded by nature!

Natural Stress Management Techniques via The Positive Pear

Keep Going In Spite of That Pain You Feel!

“Keep going. That pain you feel? That’s fear melting away. Like wax off a candle. That’s weakness washing out of your pores like a monsoon. That’s the old you being shed away like dead skin. That’s the new you, rising out of the ashes of your former self.”

Natural Pain Management on The Positive Pear:

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Electrotherapy Pain Management For Ankylosing Spondylitis & Other Chronic Pain Conditions

Is There A Prescription for Yoga In Your Future?

Enjoy Summer-Eat Healthy Fruit While Reducing Pain and Inflammation

This is a fun time of year because it’s not only easier for people to make healthier food choices, it’s easy to find fun, healthy foods. Have you checked out your local farmers markets and food co-ops? If not, this is a great time to locate those nearest in preparation for your summer food shopping. A fun, easy and very healthy food to begin with is “fruit” it’s sweet, delicious and easy on the digestive system. Which is good for those who battle digestive issues such as IBS and IBDs. We’re less likely to crave comfort foods this time of year, so consuming more fruit is a great way to begin our day and a great way to wrap it up, by eating nice healthy fruit filled desserts. Fruit has incredible healing benefits, offering enzymes, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and cancer fighting tannins & flavonoids. For us Ankylosing Spondylitis & Autoimmune Arthritis Sufferers, fruit also offers amazing anti-inflammatory properties, while reducing pain and swelling. According to the Article: Inflammation and Foods That Fight via Arthritis Today, it is very important to consume a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables routinely for best results.  This is one of many steps toward achieving and maintaining a healthy “holistic” lifestyle. By eating fruit we reduce inflammation, pain and swelling, while increasing energy levels and wellness.  We also reduce the likelihood of developing age-related and degenerative diseases such as certain types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.  We also enjoy the added benefit of improving skin appearance, our moods and mental sharpness. Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory & low-glycemic fruits are: berries, cherries, apples, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, plums & of course pears. What is your favorite fruit? Enjoy your summer even more by adding healthy, delicious fruit to your diet!

Did you know? The Superfood Chocolate + Exercise = A Thinner You!

Got a chocolate addiction? Well that’s a good thing. According to a recent study led by Associate Professor of Medicine Beatrice Golomb at the University of California San Diego, chocolate has proven to have favorable metabolic effects on healthy adults who combined reasonable consumption with exercise. In this study those ranging in ages from 20 to 85, reported eating chocolate twice per week while also exercising an average of 3.6 times per week, had lower Body Mass Index (BMI).  BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fat and is a calculated by using a person’s weight and height.  A normal BMI is typically 18.5 – 24.9, while anyone considered overweight would have a BMI of 25.0 – 29.9 and 30+ for those falling into the obese category.  Adults who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI than those who consumed chocolate less often. Galomb further stated “Our findings– that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI — are intriguing,”  while calling for more detailed research and perhaps a randomized clinical trial of chocolate’s metabolic benefits. In conclusion she added “We have seen in multiple studies the benefits of chocolate, and yet again, we see as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, chocolate does not add to weight gain, but in fact, might help control it,”

Chocolate  a treat ordinarily associated with a guilty pleasure, is high in antioxidant polyphenols and flavonols, which can improve mood by releasing the neurotransmitter serotonin and in the process can also enhance sleep and reduce stress and the sensation of pain.  This amazing superfood can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and the plasma concentrations of proinflammatory cysteinyl leukotrienes.  Thus lowering risks of heart disease, by reducing inflammation. Also beneficial to those with live with chronic inflammatory conditions. According to a study led by Elizabeth Triche of Yale University, pregnant women who consume dark chocolate during pregnancy are less likely to develop pre-eclampsia and according to a study led by  Katri Raikkonen at the University of Helsinki in Finland, using 300 pregnant participants, it was further established that pregnant women who consume one small square of chocolate each day have happier, livelier babies thanks to phenylethylamine an ingredient in chocolate. Having  a chocolate bar a day does not necessarily keep the doctor away, so before you begin stocking up on chocolate bars remember that moderation is key. In addition, the types of chocolate and how it’s processed is incredibly important, because those less processed will have a higher flavonoid content and those with less sugar are healthier options.  Consider a few Positive Pear recommendations:  RAW unprocessed chocolate in the form of cacao nibs and Navitas Naturals is a great brand.  ZICO chocolate flavored coconut water and your favorite whole food, high quality, chocolate flavored protein powder, such as Monitoba, Alive, Vega or Amazing Grass. If you’re dying for a chocolate bar make sure it consists of at least 70% cocoa, that it’s also Organic and/or “Fair Trade” chocolate.   Your local health food store, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Amazon.com are all great sources.

Keep Calm, Eat Chocolate & Exercise More!

Dr. Beatrice Galomb Interview MSNBC

Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass IndexCocoa polyphenols and inflammatory mediatorsChocolate Consumption in Pregnancy and Reduced Likelihood of Preeclampsia, New Scientist magazine Journal reference: Early Human Development (vol 76, p 139)

Is There A Prescription for Yoga In Your Future?

There is now neuroscience research that support yoga’s positive effects on anxiety, stress and depression. As the medical community continues to embrace the healing benefits of yoga does this mean that one day your doctor just might prescribe yoga for what’s ailing you?

We’ve heard about the amazing healing effects of meditative techniques such as relaxation, meditation and yoga for many years, including how these reduce the activity of the autonomic nervous system, alleviating stress-related maladies, including migraines, anxiety and depression, among others.  Now there’s additional medical research available to back these claims. Dr. Chris C. Streeter Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine practices yoga and conducts research on its effects.

Dr. Streeter conducted a study with doctors of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, comparing two groups of exercisers (group 1) people doing yoga and (group 2) people walking.  After 12-weeks, those in the yoga group showed greater improvements in their mood and anxiety levels compared to the walkers, and there was a positive correlation between increased  Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA levels were measured through brain imaging, and improved mood. The results of her study latest study is published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicinein 2010.

There is an estimated 20 million Americans practicing yoga.  It’s no wonder that yoga and alternative therapies have shown up as elective courses at many medical schools across the country, including Boston University, Dr. Rob Saper of BU a former burned out medical student in the 80’s took a year off to study at Kripalu, the yoga retreat in western, Massachusetts, which he says, inspired him to “try to change medical education and medical care in a way that’s more wholistic” with an emphasis on self-care.  Medical students at BU learn of  yoga’s research-based benefits, in hopes that these future doctors will be able to exploit their knowledge to help patients as they become comfortable enough to include this alternative therapy in their evidence-based practice (EBP), perhaps one day prescribing yoga as they would Prozac or even pain killers.

Thanks to much research, the medical community continues to embrace the healing benefits of yoga among other natural and alternative healing methods, this is a wonderful news for those of us with who live with invisible chronic illnesses, and their multitude of symptoms, and many of which we might choose to manage naturally.  Yoga is also great for chronic pain, it also lowers levels of inflammatory proteins, and helps with many other ailments.  As an avid yogi and sufferer of Ankylosing Spodylitis, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction, I for one look forward to seeing yoga or even acupuncture appear on doctor’s electronic prescription pads. Perhaps doing so will garner even more support from insurance companies, hopefully making alternative treatments affordable and accessible to everyone.

Natural Stress Management Techniques

Natural Pain Management