ECLS Energy

Change Your Mind: Meditation Benefits for the Brain

In today’s hyper-connected, fast-paced environment, the challenge more than ever is to have the discipline to slow down. Modern-day technology also inundates your life with distractions that draw your focus outward. It’s possible to mask chronic stress and other unhealthy psychological states, but society has begun to recognize the need for a counter movement.

Taking a “brain break”—relearning how to slow down and go inward—has become increasingly popular. That may be due, in part, to recognized meditation benefits for the brain.

Meditating is a great way to ease the frantic state of mind many find themselves in. Once thought to be an enigmatic practice, meditation has gained traction in recent years. One study shows regular meditation by adults tripled from 2012–2017. The growing literature on the benefits of meditation is expansive and promising.

The practice of cultivating mindfulness through meditation can be achieved in many ways. Put simply, it’s being aware of where you place your conscious attention. What comes up may be pleasant or unpleasant. But as you practice this inward dive with nonjudgmental attention, you’ll be able to access an inner peace that already exists within you.

Anyone can start a mindful practice of meditation to find a new level of calm. It’s all about the discipline of sitting down and going inward.

Big Brain Benefits

Meditation benefits for the brain are abundant. Meditating strengthens neural connections and can literally change the configuration of these networks. With regular practice, you can cultivate a more resilient neurobiology that:

And with practice, meditation can also help you develop empathy and be more compassionate.

Sound amazing? Read on to reveal even more meditation benefits for the brain.

Mindfulness to Manage Your Mood and Well-Being 

Like exercise for your body, meditation helps to condition your mind. Confronting and letting go of unwanted psychological states, like anxiety and fear, releases their hold and the associated conditioned response. Studies now prove control over your internal experience, once thought to be fixed, can be altered with the simple practice of mindfulness.

Though not a cure for chronic emotional and psychological stress disorders, meditation has many extraordinary benefits for mood and overall well-being. A few minutes of mindfulness and meditating can help hold off overwhelming emotion and guard against the powerful thought patterns that fund unproductive worries.

Here’s a small slice of the research backing mindfulness and meditation benefits for the brain:

  • One randomized controlled study found mindfulness-based therapy over 56 weeks significantly reduced the period of time before relapse of episodes of low mood. It also helped with long and short-term healthy mood maintenance. Participants reported experiencing a better quality of life.
  • Another study showed eight weeks of mindfulness-based therapy improved participant’s mental health scores. This lead to important conclusions, like relief of anxiety in the mind from meditation being tied to the regulation of self-referential thought processes. Anxiety is a cognitive state that occurs when you’re unable to control your emotional state due to perceived threats.
  • After an eight-week mindfulness course, participant MRI scans showed a reduction in the brain’s fight or flight center associated with fear and emotion. The amygdala—a part of the brain that controls your body’s stress response during perceived danger—is a key biomarker of stress in your body.

Tune into Greater Attention and Focus

Everyone’s mind gets distracted. It could be putting off homework, losing track of your words mid-sentence, or thinking about work while your significant other tells you about their day. Humans developed selective focus as a coping mechanism for dangerous threats in the ancient past.

Today, there are fewer physical threats to worry about. Instead, people ruminate psychologically, letting worry and anxiety overtake the present with past emotional pain or future anxiety.

Your brain naturally, easily slides into boredom, so it may welcome distractions. A default-mode network of neurons is associated with mind wandering—also called the “monkey mind.” But scientists have found that abnormalities in this system of the brain can lead to anxiety, depression, attention disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Meditation allows you to be in the present moment, a timeframe associated with feelings of happiness. It can increase your attention span and combat mind wandering and excessive self-referential thoughts. With over-activity, these unhealthy states of mind can lead to a state of unhappiness.

Mindfulness helps you focus and ignore the distractions around you. It also helps to hone your ability to notice more in your environment. This gives you access to the present moment with a fuller perspective of your experience. Managing your monkey mind through daily meditation is a simple and easy first line of defense for endless modern-day distractions.

Play the Long Game: Aging and Brain

Free to all, meditation is a fountain of youth for mental aging. The human brain naturally begins to deteriorate in your 20s. Maintaining a healthy brain can be supported with the powerful practice of meditation.

Meditation is shown to thicken the pre-frontal cortex. This brain center manages higher order brain function, like increased awareness, concentration, and decision making. Changes in the brain show, with meditation, higher-order functions become stronger, while lower-order brain activities decrease. In other words, you have the power to train your brain.

Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School, found consistency with meditation is key. In her study, she discovered that experienced meditators 40-50 years old had the same amount of gray matter as an average 20-30-year-old. In this older group, the health of the frontal cortex was maintained.

Brain Structures and Neuroplasticity 

Mindful meditation can create physical changes in the brain through neuroplasticity.

This increasingly popular concept refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and change continuously throughout your lifespan. Behavior and lifestyle are major influencers on the brain. So, your life makes your brain constantly create new neural connections. That’s because neurons (nerve cells) actively adjust to compensate to changes in your environment.

Brain cells go through a process of reorganization, dynamically adapting by creating new pathways inside the brain. How you think and feel changes these neural structures. By flexing the muscle of thoughtful attention, again and again, you effectively change the “physique,” or shape, of your brain. And it’s doesn’t take much time, either.

Studies have shown it only takes eight weeks to change the shape of your brain, including an increase of gray matter volume. Gray matter is found in your central nervous system, and makes up of most of your brain’s neuronal cell bodies. This type of tissue is particularly important in areas responsible for muscle control, sensory perception, emotion, memory, decision-making, and self-control.

Through neuroplasticity, you can create and improve the connections between neurons as you alter the density of gray matter. You can effectively change your brain in just a few minutes a day.

Seeing the Brain Through Meditation

The gray matter in your brain tells a lot about what happens as you sit down for brain training. The many meditation benefits for the brain triggered by daily practice are staggering. But what happens, exactly, to produce these exciting effects?

During the first few minutes of your meditation session, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is the first area to light up. This part of the brain filters experiences through a self-referential lens. As you ease into a meditative state, your brain is still bouncing from thought to thought—the monkey mind active in the trees. Thoughts that surface can be exaggerated outcomes due to your lived experience.

When you’re able to rein in your attention, the lateral prefrontal cortex activates. Regardless of the method you use—a mantra or breath—this shift can help you override the “me” from moments earlier. Thoughts during this phase are more rational and balanced, helping you see a more neutral perspective. Now you’ve settled into the sweet spot of meditation.

Practice for several weeks (8 to 12) activates the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. In this state, empathy can develop, and compassion easily arises. This range of activation in the brain becomes stronger the longer you practice. The dedicated practice creates a gateway to a dynamic, gracious life.

Release Chemical Helpers with Mediation

Your brain naturally releases key neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that help regulate the balance of vital hormones. They influence systems throughout the mind and body.

Studies show practicing meditation can directly impact the level of these crucial neurotransmitters produced in the brain. Mindfulness can have a measurable impact on these brain chemicals:

  • Serotonin—increases this “feel good” chemical to help regulate mood
  • Cortisol—decreases this stress hormone
  • DHEA—boosts levels of this longevity hormone
  • GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid)—improves the calming effect of this major inhibitory transmitter in your central nervous system (CNS)
  • Endorphins—increases the “natural high” of this overall happiness neurotransmitter
  • Growth Hormone—elevates levels of this youth-preserving chemical that naturally declines with age
  • Melatonin—boosts this “sleep hormone” responsible for restful sleep and helps with mood regulation

Moving Towards Alpha

Your bustling brain is a continuous source of electrical activity. It makes sense. Neurons communicate with each other through electricity.

Brainwaves convey information through a rate of repetition—oscillations so powerful they can be detected. An electroencephalogram (EEG) machine measures five basic types of brainwaves, at different frequencies, slow to fast. Corresponding to Greek letters: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. As you might guess by now, meditation allows you to manipulate the frequency of your brainwaves.

Meet the 5 Main Types of Brain Frequencies

  1. Gamma brainwaves: The fastest measurable brainwaves detected by EEG. This quick, oscillating brainwave is associated with heightened mental activity including perception, learning, consciousness, and problem solving. They’re active when your brain is processing information from different regions simultaneously.
  2. Beta brainwaves: Detected during active, alert, and busy thinking. They are present at times of concentration, conversation, or when you focus on a task.
  3. Alpha brainwaves: Identifiable when the mind is in a calm, relaxed, yet alert state. They are present during creative activities, found right before you fall asleep, and increase during meditation.
  4. Theta brainwaves: Measured during deep meditation, day dreaming, or REM sleep. They can also be detected while performing automatic, repeated tasks that disengage the brain, like showering or washing dishes.
  5. Delta brainwaves: These slow brainwaves occur during deep, restorative sleep where you lose body awareness altogether.

Your brainwaves are just one aspect of the complex processes in the mind that produce your experience. And meditation can help you control them.

As you meditate and turn attention within yourself, alpha and theta waves increase. Producing alpha waves helps you tap into the voluntary onset of rest and relaxation. This wave comes over you when you’re not focusing with effort on anything in particular.

Dipping into alpha oscillation through meditation can also fuel your creativity. A 2015 study showed a surge in creativity induced by producing more alpha waves. Moving towards alpha waves isn’t a magic elixir, but it’s a promising start to accessing a calmer, more imaginative life experience.

Your Mindful Destination

For a beginning practitioner, developing mindfulness takes dedication. But as you deepen your craft through physical repetition and mind-body connection, you’ll experience the mediation benefits for the brain. Increased research on meditation presents proven benefits for well-being, enhanced memory and attention, a boost in serotonin, and the list keeps growing.

Training your brain to still fluctuations is easier than it sounds. If you haven’t tried it, meditation is simple. It requires no extra equipment, no previous training. Simply sit in a comfortable position, either in a chair on the floor, and begin to focus on your breath. When your attention strays, gently bring your thoughts back to your breath.

Countless methods exist to practice creating a healthy brain and body through meditation.

Try varying your technique by trying out vipassana, breathwork, transcendental meditation, chanting, focused attention, and moving meditation, to name a few. Each of these can be guided or silent.

Seek out the method that’s best for you. But just trying it on for size is the important part. Step off life’s crazy ride for a few minutes each day to go deeper into the mechanics of your own mind. With regular training, you’ll bring resilience to your mental state, better manage high levels of stress, and become more agile in the face of distressing thoughts, anxiety, and distraction.

Meditation, just like exercise, can transform your brain. As a more mindful individual, you’ll create a more whole, conscious experience with more meaningful connection. It’s within your power to change your brain—start today.

References

Healthy Cove

Diet and Brain Health: Eat Smart to Power Your Cognition

The human brain is an incredible organ. But it is also a hungry one. Weighing in at only around three pounds, your brain is an apex feeder. It uses 20 percent of all blood and oxygen produced in the body. So, it’s important to understand the connection between your diet and brain health so you can eat to support your cognitive functions.

Your brain does a lot, and it needs glucose to do all that work. Glucose is a type of carbohydrate—sugars found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. But the brain can’t store any of that glucose itself. It must continuously receive a supply from the body.

Because your body must absorb and metabolize sugars before they make it to the brain, it’s actually best to focus on eating complex carbohydrates. They power your body and keep your brain operating at optimal levels. This means focusing on whole, natural foods and limiting processed foods high in simple carbohydrates and low in fiber and micronutrients.

But what’s the best diet type to help your brain? Here’s a good rule of thumb: what helps your heart, helps your brain. Let’s dig deeper to examine popular diets and discover how to be mindful of what you eat.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Sea connects Europe, Asia, and Africa. Since the time boats were first put into the water for fishing, trade, and conquest, the Mediterranean has been the aquatic breadbasket of the Western world.

There are over 500 different species of fish in the Mediterranean, including omega-3 rich, oily fish like sardines, mackerel, and herring. Traditional trading routes connect different cultures with regional foods: protein-rich chickpeas from Israel, Egyptian figs, Greek olive oil, Libyan couscous, and Italian tomatoes.

The nations bordering the Mediterranean focus on a daily consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, like olive oil. Weekly, they consume oily fishes plus poultry, beans, and eggs for protein. Diets here have a limited intake of dairy products and very little red meat.

An abundance of cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and fresh fish supply the primary benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Oily fish are packed with omega-3s, a type of polyunsaturated fat the brain uses as a cell-building nutrient. Omega-3s are also important for normal brain function, preserving cell membrane health, and facilitating neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new neural connections.

The Mediterranean diet’s focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and limited red meat supports your brain and heart health. The connection between the two is important. Your brain requires 20 percent of all blood and oxygen supplies, so helping your heart will aid your brain.

Keto Diet

If you have a sweet tooth, this isn’t the diet for you.

The ketogenic diet focuses on foods that provide healthy fats, adequate levels of protein, and nearly zero carbohydrates. The idea is to consume most of your calories from fat and limit carbs, thereby putting your body into ketosis—a metabolic state where fat provides most of your body’s fuel.

Growing evidence suggests keto diets may help support and protect your brain and nerve cells. Ketones, the product of ketosis, may provide a neuroprotective impact on the brain, especially as you age. While it’s difficult to start and maintain a keto diet, there are a number of potential health benefits. By limiting carbohydrates and total calories in your diet, you can experience weight loss (and a healthy weight will stress your heart less), and protected brain function.

Your brain still requires fuel to function. Instead of relying solely on carbs to create glucose, the brain uses ketones to meet its energy needs. Your liver and muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen. After two or three days without ingesting carbs, these reserves are depleted and insulin levels drop. Your liver increases production of ketones by breaking down fat stored in cells.

A sample of foods you can eat on a keto diet are seafood, non-starchy vegetables, cheeses, avocados, eggs, meat, and plant-based oils. Providing the food is low/zero carb, your body will convert stored fat into energy, resulting in weight loss.

Avocados are an excellent food source for brain health. A medium-sized avocado contains nine grams of carbs. The good news is seven of those grams are fiber, so your net carb consumption is only two grams. Avocados are also packed with vitamins and minerals, including potassium.

Ultra-Low-Fat Diet

The polar opposite of keto is the ultra-low-fat diet. As the name suggests, the goal of this diet is to eliminate as much fat consumption as possible from your daily intake. You instead turn to whole grain foods, lean meats (skinless chicken and turkey), white fish, vegetables, lentils, and fruit. Butter, eggs, and cheese are out, but you can eat pasta, rice, and oats.

This diet requires a lot of discipline because your body still needs approximately 10 percent dietary fat to function. Foods like salmon and flaxseed help. And walnuts are an excellent option—loaded with omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamin E, and minerals to support your brain.

Since you can eat fruit, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries provide flavonoid antioxidants your brain needs to function properly. Berries can boost brain health by maintaining healthy communication between brain cells, fostering neuroplasticity, and supporting normal cognitive function as you age.

Intermittent Fasting

This diet is more about when to eat than what. On intermittent fasting, you avoid eating for set, extended periods of time. It’s a new diet trend with centuries-old roots. As hunter-gatherers, humans would often go long period of time between meals. Today, those who intermittent fast eat only during certain time windows, like 16-hour fasts with eight-hours of feeding or one meal per 24-hour cycle.

During fasting, scientists believe new neural pathways are created, strengthening both connectedness and communication paths in your brain. When you’re not eating, fat stored in your body can be pulled for energy to power your body. The stress of fasting makes the brain look for nutrients inside the body. The result is your brain receiving the energy it requires and your body losing weight.

This approach to eating brings other cellular-level benefits. Fasting helps your body adjust hormone levels to make stored fat more accessible. Human growth hormones help increase fat loss and muscle gain. Insulin levels drop. Cells undergo cellular repair processes, including autophagy—removing old cells and dysfunctional proteins from inside the cell.

Special consideration should be given to intermittent fasting. If you have a chronic health condition, you should consult a physician before starting—sound advice for anyone starting a new diet program.

Vegan Diet

Veganism is as much a lifestyle as it is a diet. Proponents of the vegan diet abstain from all consumption of animal products for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. Saying no to any meat, dairy, or other animal-based foods and ingredients requires discipline but comes with some brain benefits.

Cruciferous vegetables—bok choy, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli—are packed with folate, a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that supports the formation of red blood cells to help the production of energy. Circulation and energy are important for feeding your brain oxygen and nutrients. Folate and other B vitamins (B6 and B12) also have been shown to help support normal cognition function as you grow older.

Beans and legumes, an important staple in a vegan diet, provide proteins and complex carbohydrates. Your body slowly digests beans, helping to maintain stable blood-sugar levels. Because your brain utilizes so much energy, beans are a good source of complex carbohydrates that slowly enter your bloodstream to continually feed your cognition.

However, a strict vegan diet can place demands upon your brain. You need choline to support healthy brain functions like the regulation of memory, mood, and muscle control.

Unfortunately, the best sources of choline are beef, eggs, fish, and chicken, while nuts, legumes, and vegetables contain little. Because it is difficult to obtain optimal levels of choline from a vegan diet, you may consider supplementing to meet your needs. The same is also true of vitamin B12, since it is only found in animal foods

Many may find a strict vegan diet to be difficult. But you should try to incorporate elements of a plant-based diet into your normal routine. Cutting back on animal proteins can benefit your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

Mindful Eating

As you’ve seen, parts of many popular diets can be good for your brain. So, how do you choose?

The best diet for you is the one you can stick with. Being conscious of your consumption helps you appreciate your food and, hopefully, encourages better food choices. Maintaining a healthy diet isn’t always fun. But a lifetime of considerate eating can fuel your brain and body with the nutrition they need.

And good brain health doesn’t stop and start with your fork. Exercise helps improve blood flow and memory by stimulating the release of growth factors—chemicals in your brain that enhance learning, mood, and thinking. Get smart. Include exercise and a healthy diet to live a healthy life.

References

Healthy Cove

USANA COPAPRIME+™: TWO DOCTORS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

Copa Prime

There’s a science to writing quiz show questions.

A good question should bring one of three reactions: “I knew that,” “darn it—I should have known that,” or “I didn’t know that, but I’m glad I do now.” From Trivial Pursuit to watching Jeopardy, I can’t count the times I’ve blurted out the wrong answer only to mutter, “Jeez, I knew that.”

It’s incredible what I’ve learned (and forgotten) through the years. From state capitals to Shakespeare sonnets to how cellular osmosis works, I’ve collected a lifetime of education from countless sources. Mr. Vordahl taught math, Mrs. Quinn showcased world history, and Mrs. Anderson unlocked chemistry. These three teachers and hundreds of others built my educational foundation.

All of learning is experienced based. It starts from mimicking your parents as an infant. As you get older, you go to school and learn from teachers and classmates. You absorb everything you read, watch on TV, and experience in the world. Your five senses record your environment, helping you think, reason, remember, and learn new things.

It’s important to keep your brain healthy. Without it, you’d be in trouble. And that’s where USANA CopaPrime+™ comes in. Your brain controls your thoughts, memory, and speech. It’s in charge of the movement of our arms and legs and the function of the organs within our body. Weighing around three pounds, the brain is an apex consumer of your body’s blood and oxygen, taking in 20 percent. There’s almost 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your brain with over 100 billion neurons.

Your brain needs glucose, vitamins, and minerals to function at its highest level. Brain cells can’t store energy; therefore, they need a constant stream of complex carbohydrates. And your brain needs water. Even with a two percent decline in water (dehydration), you can experience pain, memory loss, and cellular damage. Eating a diet rich in oily fish containing omega-3, berries, nuts, avocados, and beans provide the macro nutrition your brain needs.

It’s a smart idea to support your brain with a steady source of antioxidants. Free radicals—unattached oxygen molecules—can damage cells. Every cell in your body is affected by free radicals or oxidative damage, but your brain cells are particularly vulnerable.*

See oxidative damage in action by simply slicing an apple. Over time, the apple will turn brown from the oxygen in the air. Rub a little lemon juice on each slice, and you slow down the spoiling. Similarly, taking antioxidants helps promote the healthy cellular aging process.

Taking antioxidants helps promote the healthy cellular aging process.

USANA® CopaPrime+™ helps your mind focus, learn, and recall memories with a boost of nutrition for your brain. How do I know this? Because USANA’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Rob Sinnott told me. He’ll also talk about this revolutionary brain support supplement on The Dr. Oz Show on Friday, February 28, 2020.*

Use this Jeopardy-style crash course on USANA® CopaPrime+™ to prep you for Dr. Sinnott’s discussion with Dr. Oz.

via GIPHY

Q. A supplement used to optimize cognitive function.

Q. This ancient root assists with mood-support.

Q. A perennial, creeping herb native to the wetlands of southern India, often called hyssop, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort.

Q. The fleshy fruit surrounding this seed is packed with antioxidants.

Q. Optimal brain health.

  1. What is taking CopaPrime+?

Adding CopaPrime+ to your daily routine helps support your cognitive function to focus on the task at hand. It’s not a miracle drug, but rather a supplement that optimizes your mental strength. Your brain powers everything in your life, and CopaPrime+ supports healthy short-term and long-term cognitive functions.*

Short-Term Benefits

  • Supports performance-driven activities like focus, short-term memory, and resilience to stressors.*
  • Strengthens and helps maintain mood.*
  • Promotes healthy brain structure and function during the aging process, including support memory and mental clarity.*

Long-Term Benefits

Promotes healthy brain structure and function during the aging process, including support memory and mental clarity.*

Shop USANA CopaPrime+ https://www.usana.com/s/f1-Cr2

Healthy Cove

FITNESS FOR A WHOLE FAMILY

Create a New Level of Wellness

It’s a fact, children are spending an increasing number of hours indoors and in front of screens, cultivating a sedentary lifestyle. Now it’s more important than ever for each member of your family to be involved in a fitness plan. Teaching your kids healthy habits today will change their lives for the future.

Get Everyone Active

The benefit of regular exercise is undeniable. As adults, our fitness program typically works around our busy schedules. Waking early to run outside before heading to off to work, joining a CrossFit squad, or fitting in a tranquil yoga class during lunch hour. While we often create goals that align with our individual lifestyle, shifting the focus to family activities can inspire better physical health and a greater state of overall wellness—and it can even be fun!

Some benefits from regular physical activity include:

  • Improved blood circulation throughout the body
  • Helping maintain healthy weight
  • Preventing bone loss
  • Boosting energy levels
  • Releasing tension
  • Preventing and helps manage high blood pressure
  • Improving sleep
  • Supporting a healthy self-image
  • Helping to manage stress levels
  • Fighting moderate anxiety and depression
  • Increasing muscle strength

These are just a few reasons to focus on family fitness and instill a healthy attitude for an active lifestyle. Spark an early love of exercise as you inspire your family to make physical activity a normal part of their daily routine.

Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids

Find the right balance for your family by modeling healthy habits yourself. Activity levels will differ from family to family—focus on a sound middle ground. An environment of health and wellness, one that allows children to explore different activities and cultivate their own athletic interests, leads to healthy bodies, minds, and experiences. And, most importantly, builds high self-esteem.

Most kids naturally want to try things they see their parents doing. Stroke their curiosity with a fun workout, stretching, and energetic games. If they see you happy and thriving with daily exercise, they’re more likely to join in and see physical activity as a normal part of life.

Adventure in the Everyday

The habit of movement can encourage adventure. Find and explore new trails, bike paths, or create an outdoor game at the park. Infuse imagination with physical activity and encourage unknown outcomes. This teaches your kids how to take risks safely and gives them the freedom to have rich experiences under supervision. A great way to nurture their spirit of exploration is to plan day trips or vacations to national parks, mapping out memorable hikes together.

Family Fitness Vacation

Encourage Playtime

iPads, Xboxes, cell phones, and computers often give children a false sense of enjoyment. A National Survey of Children’s Health found that young people who spend seven hours or more on screens each day were twice as susceptible to depression or anxiety. Twenty percent of kids between the ages of 14 and 17 fit into this category, as many parents let hours go by without regulating game, video, and other media kids use.

Take steps to limit screen time and, instead, encourage playtime. Advocate walks, bike rides, or set up equipment in the yard. Tournaments and ongoing games give kids a healthy dose of competition and something to look forward to in the days ahead.

A Gift of Grit and Determination

As adults, we accept that responsibility and facing daily challenges is a part of life that often brings great rewards. This is a hard lesson to teach children who are not yet emotionally mature and don’t quite understand the importance of perseverance. Life isn’t always fair. Help your kids realize what they’re good at physically and work with them to develop these strengths. Fitness will show them that grit and determination can transform their talents and help them gain a healthy confidence around achievement.

Sweat Together, Stay Together

Integrating regular family fitness activities is a great way to create memories. Adventure and play will naturally bring you together, teach you how to get along with one another, and help deepen your family relationships. If you spend evenings and weekends training together, learning to swim, traversing mountains, you bet you’ll learn to trust and rely on each other, and make some memorable moments along the way. Quality time creates quality bonds.

Healthy Habits for Life

Beyond living a more well-balanced life, a family fitness routine helps children create healthy habits in all aspects of their lives. Setting goals and following through with smaller day-to-day activities establishes healthy habits for life.

Regular family fitness is just one way to create a healthy, balanced, and fun environment for your loved ones. What other ways do you enhance your family life as a team?

Coast Lifestyle

READ SMART WITH USANA® COPAPRIME+™

Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Reading should be enjoyable.

It’s a great way to pass time on the train, during a lunch break, or right before you turn off the light at night. But sometimes a book can betray you. Instead of spinning a wonderful yarn about Frodo and his pals disposing of a ring or finding out why he’s just not that into you, a book can be dense, obtuse, and difficult to read. These “hard” books can have polyglot, polysyllabic, poly-insert-the-blank words that turn reading from a pleasure to a chore.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t challenge yourself. Great literature isn’t always easily digestible but can be very rewarding. Over the summer, I slogged my way through Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It was tough. Not only were the character names challenging (Raskolnikov, Razumikhin, and Svidrigailov anyone?), the subject matter was pretty dark. But I persevered and grinded through C&P, and proudly finished it.

Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

In figuring out Dostoevsky’s message on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of crime in 19th-century Russia, it occurred to me this book would be easier to digest if I could optimize my brain health with USANA® CopaPrime+™. Formulated with USANA’s proprietary nootropic formula of American ginseng, bacopa monneiri, and coffee fruit extract, CopaPrime+ helps maintain health brain function.*

CopaPrime+ supplies powerful levels of antioxidants to help with cognition, the gathering and processing of information—two things you need if you’re going to read a 150-year-old Russian novel. Plus, CopaPrime+ helps maintain healthy brain bridges, or neural pathways, to help store and recall information. Something I could have used to tell the difference between Raskolnikov and Razumikhim 300 pages into the book.*

Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Essentially, CopaPrime+ helps support alertness, mental clarity, and focus while supplying the antioxidants for key neuroprotective properties. Everything you need if you’re thinking of stepping up from the dime-store novels to books found on the Booker Prize list.*

This got me to thinking. If I can finish Crime and Punishment without CopaPrime+, what other “difficult” books can I read (and understand) if I took USANA’s newest Cognitive Support Complex? I looked up what experts generally consider to be the toughest books ever written, grabbed my library card, and got cracking.*

CopaPrime+ Reading List

Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Moby-Dick, or, the Whale (1851)

By Herman Melville

“I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.”

It’s about a boat, a whale, and an examination of obsession. Captain Ahab seeks revenge against the giant white sperm whale who bit off his leg. Narrated by Ishmael (“Call me Ishmael”), the crew of the Pequod go to the ends of the world to kill the whale. But as you discover in the last harrowing chapters, all actions have consequences.

CopaPrime+ Reading Score: 3
Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Catch-22 (1961)

By Joseph Heller

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

An examination of the absurdity of war set on the backdrop of World War II. Antihero Captain John Yossarian faces the Catch-22, a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem, while trying to avoid flying bombing raids over Europe. Funny, sadistic, sad, and insightful, Heller’s masterpiece is riddled with nightmares for those who just want to go home.

CopaPrime+ Reading Score: 5
Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Infinite Jest (1996)

By David Foster Wallace

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”

You better like endnotes if you’re going to tackle Wallace’s seminal work. Set in a near-dystopic world, Infinite Jest is composed of four interwoven narratives with 388 lengthy endnotes. Meta-modernist with elements of hysterical realism, the story taunts you without end and never fully resolves as Wallace examines addiction, death, and separation through the metaphysical act of playing tennis.

CopaPrime+ Reading Score: 6
Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West (1985)

By Cormac McCarthy

“Your heart’s desire is to be told some mystery. The mystery is that there is no mystery.”

A bloody examination of the eradication of Apaches in Mexico, Blood Meridian asks and answers what happens when you attempt to tame a wild country through violence. Terse and haunting, McCarthy explores the inevitable consequences of malice on those who seek destruction. Told through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy, Blood Meridian leaves you ravaged and shaking your head.

CopaPrime+ Reading Score: 7
Boost Your Reading CopaPrime

Ulysses (1922)

By James Joyce

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

Told in the course of a single day, Joyce’s masterpiece focuses on the ramifications of wandering. Set in Dublin, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold, and Molly Bloom’s intertwined stories indulge the reader with their unique perspectives of life in search of meaning. Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness style is lyrical and demanding, but the payoff for this hefty tome is intense. Prepare to travel to the Kingdom of Hypnos down into the tiny blot of unconsciousness.

CopaPrime+ Reading Score: 10

Further Reading

This is just a limited selection of books worth your time and effort. Joyce’s final novel, Finnegans Wake, is a noodle scratcher with a CopaPrime+ Reading Score of 17. And Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow needs a pallet of CopaPrime+ to get through the first chapter. Most of William Faulkner (The Sound and the FuryAs I Lay Dying) is pretty challenging, and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is both intellectually and psychologically difficult to get through.

But you don’t have to finish the second floor of the New York Public Library to experience the benefits of CopaPrime+. Packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrition to support cognitive functions, it’s the perfect supplement to keep you sharp and mentally engaged.

Shop CopaPrime http://bit.ly/2TZMFLH

There are countless benefits of reading. It helps reduce stress, expands your vocabulary, improves analytical thinking skills, increases vocabulary, and helps your writing skills. Plus, there is the satisfaction of challenging yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone.

Healthy Cove

POLLEN PREPAREDNESS: DEALING WITH SEASONAL ALLERGIES

Your body has a large, complex, and well-trained security force protecting you from the constant barrage of foreign invaders trying to get in. You call it your immune system. And it’s a network of cells, tissues, and organs working together to provide full-time, full-body protection. Without your knowledge, your immune system identifies and attacks a wide variety of day-to-day threats. All while distinguishing these pathogens from your healthy tissues. But this amazing system is sometimes tripped by less evil objects, like pollen. And that’s where your seasonal allergies start.

The symptoms of allergies—running nose, watery eyes, and sneezing—make sense when you consider the role your nose, mouth, and eyes play. They’re easy entry points for invaders, so your tears and mucus are equipped with an enzyme called lysozyme. It’s capable of breaking down the cell walls of numerous bacteria. Your saliva is armed with antibacterial compounds. And your nasal passages and lungs are coated in a protective shield of mucus and lined with mast cells—a type of white blood cell.

Any bacteria or virus that wants to gain entry through these passageways must first successfully navigate through these important defenses. Harmless substances—those that do not pose a threat to your health—also get caught up in these defenses. They are mistakenly targeted for destruction by your immune system. And that’s only the most basic answer for what causes allergies.

But there’s so much more worth exploring, especially if you’re familiar with the runny, watery, sneezy world of allergies. Let’s dive deeper.

Seasonal Allergies: What They Are and How They Happen

An allergen is typically a harmless substance that can trigger an immune system response that results in an allergic reaction. This is considered a type of immune system error.

A seasonal allergy (also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever) is your immune system overreacting to harmless substances in the environment during certain times of the year. Hay fever originally received its name because of the symptoms that people experienced during the summer months when hay was harvested.

Pollen is the most common allergen in sufferers’ seasonal allergies. This fine, powdery substance is produced by trees, grasses, weeds, and flowers mainly during the spring, summer, and fall. Pollination is the transferring of pollen grains from a male part of a plant to a female part so that reproduction can occur. This works when pollen is released into the air, picked up by wind, or carried by insects, bats, and birds to fertilize other plants of the same species.

Pollination is a very important step in the life cycle of many plants. But pollination can be miserable if you experience seasonal allergies.

These tiny, harmless pollen grains float around in the air and can find their way into your nasal passages. This can trigger an immune response inside your nose. That could lead to sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, teary eyes, and an itchy nose, or throat. While these symptoms may sound and feel like a cold, they are not caused by a virus. It’s just your immune system overreacting to that “harmless” plant pollen.

While it can be confusing to determine if you have seasonal allergies or a cold, there are some unique differences:

  • Seasonal allergies do not cause a fever.
  • Any mucus secretions you may experience are typically thin, runny, and clear.
  • Your nose, throat, and ears may feel itching and you may have rapid bouts of sneezing.
  • Seasonal allergy symptoms usually last longer than seven to 10 days as they are tied to pollen production and counts.

How Do Seasonal Allergies Develop?

You weren’t born with seasonal allergies. But you can develop them over your lifetime.

It all begins with exposure to an allergen (molecules with the potential to cause allergy). You’ve been around them all your life without difficulty. But suddenly your body decides a certain allergen is an invader that must be destroyed.

When this happens, your immune system studies the allergen and makes highly specialized proteins called IgE antibodies to act against it. That’s just in case another exposure occurs. Once your body is sensitized, your immune system maintains a lasting memory of that allergen. This process is called priming.

At your next exposure, your previously made antibodies recognize the allergen and turn on special immune cells to fight and destroy it. These IgE antibodies are specific to a particular antigen. For example, if it is ragweed pollen, the IgE antibodies produced by your immune system only attack the pollen from ragweed.

The chance of developing an allergy starts in your genes. While you can’t inherit specific allergies from your parents, the tendency toward developing allergies is passed down. Children with one allergic parent can have up to a 50-percent chance of developing allergies. And with two allergic parents, it can be an 80-percent chance. Anyone can experience allergies, but children tend to be affected more often than adults.

Allergies can take years to develop. And having one allergy can make you more likely to get others. There’s also a threshold for people who have allergies. So, you can handle a small exposure, but too much launches your body into an allergic response. That activates mast cells in nasal tissues and triggers the release of the histamine from basophils and eosinophils (types of white blood cells).

Histamine is an organic compound that causes the symptoms most often associated with allergies. They’re responsible for the itchy nose, throat, or skin; watery eyes; sneezing; cough; and a runny or stuffy nose.

Seasonal allergy sufferers are familiar with antihistamines. These medications are often used to block the effects of histamines. And it’s the most popular way to deal with the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

The Dreaded Season of Allergies

Allergy season is determined by where you live, and what you’re allergic to. Those with pollen allergies likely dread spring, summer, or fall seasons when pollen counts are at their highest levels.

But what pollen producers are most closely tied to what season? Here’s a quick, simple guide:

  • SPRING: Trees (like oak and birch) are the significant source of pollen during spring months. In some areas, they can begin producing pollen as early as January.
  • SUMMER: During the summer months, grasses (like ryegrass and timothy-grass) are a top source of allergy-causing pollen.
  • FALL: Weeds are the top allergy offenders during the fall. This is especially true for ragweed, which grows in almost every environment.

Having one allergy makes you more likely to get others. So, if one year your ragweed symptoms seem more severe than usual, you may also be reacting to another allergen that’s sharing the air.

How Seasonal Allergies Can Cross Over to Food Allergies

Allergies can interact in other unexpected ways. For example, up to a third of people with certain pollen allergies also develop allergies to foods that contain similar proteins. This is called pollen-food syndrome, or oral allergy syndrome.

It’s caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables, or even certain tree nuts. It means that you could experience an itchy mouth; a scratchy throat; or lip, mouth, throat, and tongue swelling.

The symptoms of pollen-food syndrome are usually confined to the mouth and throat. That’s because these proteins are sensitive to gastric enzymes, so they are rapidly degraded upon ingestion. That limits the extent of the reaction. In addition, these proteins are sensitive to heat, so cooking the offending food doesn’t cause the same reaction. In most cases, the symptoms subside once the offending food is swallowed or removed from the mouth.

Although not everyone with pollen allergies experiences pollen-food syndrome, the following are the commonly associated pollen allergens and foods:

  • Birch pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, and plum
  • Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, and tomato
  • Ragweed pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, and zucchini

All About Allergy Testing

You may have a guess about what causes your allergic reactions. But testing is the only way to know for sure.

Allergy testing can be done as a skin prick or through blood testing. Both methods are used to help determine what substances you may be allergic to. These tests are provided by medical doctors specializing in the immune system and the treatment of allergies. And they are given in addition to a thorough physical exam and health history.

Skin allergy testing is the most common. It’s considered a reliable method to test for certain types of allergens. For this procedure, a tiny amount of select allergens are put into your skin by making a small indentation “prick or scratch” on the surface of your skin.

The skin allergy test determines specific allergies based on how your skin reacts. And the results show up pretty fast. Reactions on the skin occur within about 15 minutes.

If you have allergies, a little swelling and redness will occur where the allergen(s) were placed in your skin. For example, if you are allergic to birch pollen, but not ryegrass pollen, only the birch pollen will cause redness, swelling, and possible itching. The spot where the ryegrass pollen was applied will remain unaffected.

If you’re tired of the seasonal allergen battle, these tests can help determine which allergens trigger your symptoms. And testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers. It also helps identify prevention measures or treatments likely to work best for you.

Train Your Immune System

Depending on the type of allergy you have, it’s possible to train your immune system to become less responsive to certain allergens over time—with the help of an allergist or immunologist. Desensitization or immunotherapy is a preventive treatment for allergic reactions to certain substances, including pollens.

Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the immune-offending allergen either under the tongue or as an injection into the skin. The incremental increase in dosing changes the way your immune system reacts to the allergen over time. This can help reduce the symptoms of an allergy when the allergen is encountered by your immune system in the future.

Before starting treatment, it is important for your allergist to help you identify which pollens or other substances trigger allergy symptoms. Skin and sometimes blood tests are performed to confirm the antibodies to specific allergens before therapy can begin.

For those tired of seasonal sneezing fits and constant doses of antihistamines, immunotherapy is a long-term way to address the way your immune system responds to allergens.

Tips for Seasonal Allergy Avoidance

If your nose is driving you crazy, what can you do? Pollen can be difficult to dodge. But avoidance remains one of the best ways to control exposure to allergens during allergy season.

To minimize your exposure to pollen:

  • Stay informed of your local pollen counts by checking the internet or other community sources
  • Remain indoors when pollen counts are high
  • Avoid exercising outdoors early in the morning
  • Keep car windows rolled up while driving
  • Avoid gardening or yard work when pollen counts are high
  • Wear a pollen mask when outdoors
  • Consider investing in a home air purifier
  • Stay indoors on windy days and during thunderstorms
  • Keep doors and windows closed
  • Wear sunglasses while outside to keep pollen out of your eyes
  • Vacuum often to keep allergens out of your home

Beat the Allergy Season Blues

One of the best ways to combat the impact of seasonal allergies is through knowledge, preparation, and action. Knowing what pollens you’re allergic to, controlling exposure, and treating the symptoms before they become overwhelming can help you navigate the perils of pollen season.

East Coast Life Solutions carries a full line of doTerra essential oils and USANA Health Sciences supplements to help you build your immunity and relieve allergy symptoms. (links are on our home page)

We are always looking for people to join our healthy lifestyle team, which is very rewarding to pass along great values and education to others. Please use the contact page to get in touch.

Healthy Cove

HEALTHY GRAZING BOARDS: A QUEST FOR FLAVOR AND FRIENDSHIP

Almost every great adventure begins with a reluctant hero fighting against seemingly unconquerable odds. But it ends with a victorious feast, new friends made, and lessons learned. It may seem like a stretch, but this is no different from my first experience making a charcuterie board.

Also known as a gazing board, this party platter urges you to find the best food you can and share it with those you care about (or want to impress). And you can make it as healthy as you want. From the herbal, nutty aroma of exotic cheeses to the sweet, sour flavor of pickled olives surrounded by wild berries and fresh veggies—be your own hero as you embark on the unforgettable adventure of making and presenting your first grazing board.

Searching for Flavor

Your first obstacle is to find all the ingredients you need. Because you’ll need a lot of them. As you make the quest to look for unique foods, seasonal fruits, and the freshest veggies you can find, you’ll discover you must search out boutique grocers in every corner of the land.

Go all out with your ingredients. And remember, quality and abundance are key. It also helps to know early on there really isn’t a wrong way to make a grazing board.

  • Cheese and meat: Traditional charcuterie focuses more on cheeses and cured meats. For healthy options, try fresh cheeses, like Mozzarella or Ricotta, instead of aged ones. And go with lean protein options like eggs or shaved turkey. For more healthy ideas, click here.
  • Fruit and veggies: pickled olives, grapes, and berries go well with traditional cheeses and meats, but don’t be afraid to pile your board with all kinds of healthy, tasty options. You can easily ditch the meat and cheese and make veggies the centerpiece if you want. This is your chance to go to the local farmers market and discover something new.
  • Everything else: Don’t forget all the delicious extras you can add. Pistachios, almonds, and other nuts are great for adding flavor and texture. You can also include sweet or savory jams and jellies, mustards, or other pickled items or garnishes. Herb sprigs and flowers can bring even more color and aroma to your board.

You’ll quickly learn that searching for the perfect parts of your grazing board is a real-life adventure. It will get you out into the community discovering new flavors and cultures, supporting local businesses, and encouraging you to meet new people and places.

If you want to make a vegan grazing board, check out this article

Crafting an Experience

Now that you have all your fancy, fresh, and unique ingredients, you can actually build your board and craft an experience of gastronomical grandeur. This is the second trial you—as the hero of your story—must overcome. But, as with the first, you’ll quickly realize it’s just another part of your awesome, new adventure.

  1. Find your foundation. You can use a glass or ceramic platter or go with a wooden board. Just make sure it’s the right size for what you want to do.
  2. Start by placing the two or three largest items like cheese wedges, bowls of jelly or olives, or large vegetables.
  3. Begin filling in the spaces working from bigger items to smaller ones. Keep everything bite-sized, and try to keep similar items together.
  4. Add some style and asymmetry by placing items in threes. You can go with an elaborate design you find online or just make your board a chaotic cornucopia.
  5. Add the finishing touches with herb sprigs, flowers, berries, nuts, and seeds.

This is your chance to showcase all the delicious goodies you’ve found on your journey. Find foods with striking colors and try to complement them. Make it your way and add your style. There really aren’t any rules as to what can or can’t be on a grazing board. If you love gardening, it could be filled with all of your home-grown vegetables. Or if you want to focus more on protein options, you could go more traditional and cover it with cheese and antipasti.

The experience you craft is in your hands. For design ideas click here.

Celebrating Your Journey

Now that your board is complete, you need some friends and loved ones to share it with. So invite them over for a relaxing evening and good food. Place your board in an easily accessible location, typically close to the drinks.

Then stick around and share your healthy grazing board with pride. You traveled far and wide, discovered new places and flavors, and now you get to have some fun and tell your stories. Where and how you got the ingredients really can become the main talking point around your board. So get ready to be the expert on the heirloom tomatoes or locally sourced fresh cheese you included.

Nothing is quite as photogenic as a well-made grazing board. So make sure to snap plenty of nice photos and share them, along with your stories, on social media as well. It’s a great way to showcase healthy habits in an artistic way that’s all you.

You’ve broken out of your comfort zone. You’ve fostered a community of people you care for. You’ve had a healthy adventure and created something to be forever proud of. But it’s not the end of your story, because you can always do it again. Maybe next time you’ll add some mango pieces or a bowl of fresh salsa.

Here at East Coast Life Solutions, we know that it’s easy to get off track. Healthy food tips and ideas make it easy to keep going in the right direction. When there is good healthy food at your fingertips you are less likely to be tempted to indulge in less healthy temptations.

And we know many of you are already healthy grazing board experts. Please share your tips and tricks below to help us new adventurers on our journey.

H

Healthy Cove

MINDFUL LIVING IS HEALTHY LIVING

Describing mindfulness can be hard. So, let’s do a little thought experiment and try some mindful living for a minute.

Imagine you’re walking through a city, enjoying the fresh air, and delighting in the bustle and energy of the streets. You take a seat on a bench near a busy intersection, safely tucked away from traffic. You’re happy to rest for a moment and take in the sights and sounds. What goes through your mind as you witness the traffic?

You might notice the make, model, and color of each car that passes. Perhaps you take note of how fast a particular car whooshes by. Maybe you see another car run a red light. You allow yourself to observe these visual cues and understand them as information, without the need to interpret them as good, bad, wrong, or right.

This basic analogy is what many practitioners use to describe mindfulness. Let’s unpack it to dig deeper into this important, but elusive concept.

What is Mindfulness?

If you imagine the busy street as your brain, then the different cars represent your thoughts. They could be about your worries, fears, or stressors. They might represent your hopes, wishes, and desires. People in your life may populate your thoughts. All those thoughts are cars traveling on the street of your brain.

Mindfulness is immersing yourself in that moment-to-moment awareness, free of judgment. It allows for these thoughts to enter your mind, move through, and disappear without wreaking havoc. That means as you think of a worry, hope, or person, you do so without judging yourself for thinking about it.

An example of mindful living might help clarify things. You feel worried about missing an impending deadline. Mindfulness would suggest that you acknowledge the deadline and your body’s reaction to it with a bit of emotional distance.

Most people don’t practice this detachment. That allows negative thoughts to loop. If the loop continues uninterrupted, the result can be anxiety, stress, worry, and preoccupation. But, if you aim to witness your thoughts in the same way you would a harmless car driving safely by you, you’re likely to avoid those negative pitfalls. Additionally, allowing a bit of space from emotions provides clarity of mind and mental focus.

Mindfulness is about staying in the present. So, returning to the car metaphor, mindfulness is not craning your neck to see if the car that passed will turn off the road up ahead. It is also not turning to see how far traffic has backed up. When you’re simply observing each car as it enters and exits your field of view, you’re practicing mindfulness.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

As the modern world continues to blaze by, many are turning to mindfulness to slow life down. The recent growth in the popularity of mindfulness has created a call for research to investigate the benefits of more mindful living.

Practitioners have long claimed many benefits for mindfulness. Among them are stress reduction, less emotional reactivity, freedom from rumination, mental focus, and relationship satisfaction.

Researchers have started to test these hypotheses. They do it by assigning study participants to a mindfulness-based intervention or a control group. Then researchers take various measurements to determine the effects of each intervention.

In one investigation, researchers looked at nearly 40 studies that include mindfulness-based interventions. They found mindfulness programs helped reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in patients with psychiatric disorders. In certain studies, they also concluded that mindfulness practice, paired with traditional therapy, is effective in preventing relapse into depression for certain patients.

Another study has shown promising results for regular practice of mindfulness through meditation. In this particular case, participants learned how to meditate over a two-month period. Researchers took images of participants’ brains before and after the program and found changes in the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for emotional processing. The scan showed that the amygdala was less active after meditation. Then participants were shown emotionally charged images and the same brain scan was repeated. Comparing pre-meditation scans to those taken after viewing emotional images revealed something interesting.

Researchers saw that the decrease in activity of the amygdala held, even when the participants weren’t actively meditating. This finding is promising, as it shows that the benefits—in this case, less emotional reactivity—are long-lasting, even when meditation or mindfulness is not being actively employed.

Another group of researchers studied attendees of an intensive mindfulness retreat. After the 10-day retreat, the participants, experienced less rumination—when compared to a control group who didn’t attend the retreat. The retreat group also exhibited better attention and focus when assigned to a performance task.

It’s not uncommon to hear about a new trend from a friend and be skeptical. Even if your friend shares a personal, compelling anecdote, it may feel too good to be true. But when the trend in question is mindfulness or mindful meditation, the jury’s no longer out. Science shows that health benefits of mindfulness do exist. So, hesitate no longer and hop on the bandwagon.

Tips for Mindful Living Every Day

  • Slow down. It’s easy to move through life on autopilot, going through the motions without consciously connecting with each action, decision, or person you encounter. One trick is to think about the transitions throughout your day and how you can move through them more slowly and intentionally. This could be the moment after you wake up and before you get out of bed. Maybe it’s the moment after you finish one work task and start the next. When these transitions are rushed, it divorces your mind from your body, turning autopilot back on. In these transitional moments, pause to breathe and check in with your mind and body. This will give you a chance to collect your thoughts and ready yourself for whatever comes next.
  • Use all of your senses. Mindfulness doesn’t just have to be turned on when life gets stressful. Tuning into your body and all of its sensations can help you stay engaged in mindfulness. Listening, seeing, tasting, touching, and hearing fully can help you stay grounded in each moment. With this mindset, an ordinary task can turn into a sensory experience. For example, take gardening. What does the soil feel like? Does this new sprout have a smell? Consider the vibrancy of the colors throughout the plant. If it bears fruit, what does it taste like? What sounds do you hear as you’re outside tending to the garden? When you stay in the moment and ask yourself these questions, it’s nearly impossible to ruminate on the past or worry about the future.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Start by jotting down three things you were grateful for each day. This practice will encourage you to slow down and reflect on your day. Consider why you’re grateful for each list item, how they make you feel, and how they add to your life. Journaling can help you curate a more positive outlook and perspective. If this resonates with you, create longer lists or expand each entry.
  • Focus on brain health. Mindfulness is all in your head—focusing your brain on the present and striving for non-judgment. So, it’s also a time to think about supporting your brain. That means eating foods rich in B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, antioxidants, and vitamin E. And your brain also has to be exercised to keep it in tip-top shape. Practice being mindful about using your brain each day. You can do that by playing a musical instrument, taking classes (anything from cooking to math), learning a new language, memory games, playing a new sport, and more.
  • Practice self-compassion. Non-judgment is the key to mindfulness. But requiring your mind to be present and non-judgmental can feel like a tall order. You may not do it successfully every time. And that’s OK. Be forgiving and kind to yourself. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll come back to the present and continue forward.

Another Taste: Eating Mindfully

In the modern world of busy schedules, traffic, and technology, it’s hard to find time to focus on eating well. When time is short, meals are often the first thing to take a hit. It means a meal might start in a drive-through lane and finish while you’re driving. Or perhaps it’s a plate of leftovers quickly reheated in the microwave and eaten standing up.

Not giving yourself moments to slow down and eat in peace will only add to the rushed pace of the day. And unsurprisingly, the result might leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and with an upset stomach.

When you take the alternative approach and choose to eat with dedicated intention, you unlock more opportunities to practice mindfulness. It doesn’t matter whether you make a meal from scratch or you pick up one that’s prepared. Eating mindfully calls on all of your senses, bringing you into the present.

What does it smell like? Does the aroma transport you to another place or memory? If you’re eating with your fingers, what does it feel like? Is it soft, crumbly, or flaky? What does it feel like once you put a morsel in your mouth? Does it melt, dissolve, or bubble? What does the food taste like? Does it make your mouth pucker or hit your sweet tooth?

Engaging all of your senses requires that you take your time and tune into each sensation. This behavior makes for a more enjoyable, relaxed meal. An added benefit is that eating slowly will allow you to sense when you’re full more quickly. This means you’re less likely to overeat unintentionally. That’s a bonus whether you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.

Paying attention to the general feel and feedback from your whole body will help you remain in touch with what your body needs and when. When did you last eat? How does your body feel? What cues is it giving you and what are they saying? Remember that your body knows best. It only asks you to listen to its cues.

Make Mindfulness Your Mantra

Mindfulness requires a subtle shift in how you move throughout your day. While the change is seemingly small, the impact can be large. Being mindful allows your body and mind to let go of stress, negative thought patterns, and associated behaviors.

When you toss aside those patterns and distractions, you liberate yourself. You’re likely to find more creativity, productivity, and energy. By committing even a few moments a day to mindfulness, you start a habit that sets you up for a healthier day and overall lifestyle.

Healthy Cove

THE NERVOUS SYSTEM: UNDERSTANDING HOW YOU’RE WIRED

Just like a powerful computer, your body is always taking in data and using it to make decisions. But you have nerves instead of a circuit board and a brain rather than microchips. Together, your nervous system directs your body’s functions according to the messages it receives.

Think of the central nervous system as a biological command center. It integrates information from your surroundings and tells your body how to react. And the nervous system does all this while letting you focus on living your life. So, you don’t need to consciously worry about responding to every stimulus you encounter. That would be exhausting.

To save you the mental energy, you need your nervous system to perform voluntary and involuntary actions. Without it, you couldn’t control your arms and legs, maintain a steady heart rate, or breath.

Here’s some other involuntary reactions that rely on your nervous system:

  • Vision
  • Blinking
  • Sneezing
  • Fight-or-flight responses
  • Withdrawal reflex (pulling your hand away from a hot stove)

Your nervous system also helps you:

  • Walk
  • Talk
  • Clap your hands
  • Brush your hair
  • Exercise

The reach of your nervous system is enormous. Every part of your body is hardwired with nervous-system tissue. You can pick up information from your hands and feet, as well as your joints and gut.

Now it’s time to plug into your nervous system and get a sense of how much it does for you. And also learn about the parts and mechanisms that make your nervous system function.

Anatomy: Nervous System Parts

At its most basic level, your nervous system is a collection of specialized cells called neurons, and supporting cells called neuroglial cells or just glial cells. A neuron can conduct electricity and secrete chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Each nerve cell can pass on information, and receive information from stimuli inside and outside your body. Glial cells surround neurons. Their role is to provide support and protection for neurons.

Neurons have a cell body—just like all other cells. This is called the soma, and it’s surrounded with tiny, finger-like extensions. These are called dendrites. And they receive stimulation from the nerve cells next door.

Protruding out of the cell body is the axon—a long projection that carries electrochemical impulses. Axons are surrounded by a fatty tissue called the myelin sheath. This insulates the axon and speeds up signal transmission. Think of the myelin sheath as the insulation that surrounds the wires in your electronic devices.

The neuron ends at the axon terminal. That’s where signals created inside the nerve cell are sent to the next neuron. Nerve impulses are transmitted from the axon terminal of one neuron to the dendrites of the next. The space where nerve cells meet up and exchange information is called the synapse.

Neurons link up between their dendrites and axon terminals and create a thick, rope-like shape. This bundle of neurons is called a nerve. They pick up signals from your internal organs and outside world and propel the messages towards your brain.

There are thousands of nerves in your body. And they vary in size. The longest nerve is called the sciatic nerve. It stretches from the base of your spinal cord to your foot. The trochlear nerve is one of the smallest. It’s in charge of the rotational movement of your eye.

After neurons and nerves come the bigger organs of the nervous system—the spinal cord and brain.

The spinal cord is essentially one large, thick nerve with a direct connection to your brain. The bones in your spinal column provide structure and protection. That allows messages to travel uninterrupted to and from your brain along the spinal cord.

If you think about your nervous system as a computer, then the brain is the system’s hard drive. It receives every message gathered by your nerves via the spinal cord. Then it interprets that information and initiates a response.

When you want your body to perform an action, it’s your neurons that start working first. They send electrochemical impulses to the brain through the nerves and spinal cord. Your brain returns the necessary instructions to complete the task along the same nerves.

In the next section, you’ll learn more about this process, the role of nerves, and the actions your nervous system can help you accomplish.

How the Nervous System Works

Your body is great at tackling the hard work of your everyday life. And the nervous system is no exception. It divides up the job of sensing and responding to stimuli between its two parts—the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

The CNS is the control center of the nervous system. It includes the brain and the spinal cord. All the nerves that branch out from the spine are part of the PNS. Though they operate in tandem, it is important to highlight them independently. That’s because each section of the nervous system has a unique role and function.

Central Nervous System

Your CNS is the boss of your body. It is responsible for coordinating the messages it gets from the PNS to provide the appropriate physical response. This process is called integration.

The wire-like nerves in your body get stimuli from your environment and send those signals to your brain. But the nerves in your hands and feet aren’t plugged directly into your brain. Instead, your spinal cord makes a single connection at the base of the skull.

Protected by bony vertebrae (the bones of the spine), your spinal cord is the cable that collects the information from all over the body. Acting as one large conduit to the brain, your spinal cord can deliver large amounts of data from a single port, rather than thousands of smaller ones.

This makes it easier for your brain to integrate all the sensations you experience with the right actions and movements. And when it’s time to respond to messages, it can send out instructions in bulk. This takes some work off your brain’s plate by leaving the sorting and delivery work to the spinal cord.

Peripheral Nervous System

All of the nerves in your body (except the brain and spinal cord) are collectively known as the peripheral nervous system or PNS. It’s the job of the PNS to use nerves to sense information about your environment. Your voluntary and involuntary actions, reflexes, and intentional movements are initiated by the PNS.

The PNS communicates back and forth with your brain and spine and lets the central nervous system know what the rest of the body is doing. The PNS does this with specialized nerve cells called afferent and efferent neurons.

Afferent neurons are also known as sensory neurons. They send messages to your CNS. They deal in sensory information like sound, taste, touch, and smell. When you touch sandpaper, or smell a cake baking, your afferent neurons take that stimuli to your brain.

To respond to those sensations, your PNS uses efferent neurons. These carry messages and instructions away from your CNS. Efferent neurons can also be called motor neurons. They do just what their name implies—triggering muscle contraction and movement. Motor neurons make it possible for you to scratch your fingers against the rough sandpaper. They also allow you to take a bite of that delicious-smelling cake.

Both afferent and efferent neurons are present in nerve fibers. So, your PNS can send sensory information to your brain and receive a motor response along the same nerve. You need this kind of back-and-forth communication for voluntary movement.

The nerves of the PNS also manage things outside of your conscious control—involuntary reactions to your environment.

A major example of your PNS at work is your fight-or-flight response. This kicks in when you perceive that you’re in danger. It can also turn on when you’re worried and scared. At that time, your body experiences involuntary changes when you feel stressed.

Take speaking in public, for example. As the moment approaches, you might notice your heart start to race and your palms sweat. Your mouth might even get dry.

These symptoms indicate that your peripheral nervous system is working as it should. Salivary glands, skin cells, and your heart muscle get messages from your brain via the PNS to adjust their behavior to keep you safe. When you take a couple of deep breaths and settle your nerves (pun intended), your heart rate returns to normal. You feel safe and are no longer afraid.

The peripheral nervous system operates a complementary response to fight or flight, often called rest and digest. Your nerves send instructions down from the CNS to calm your body when it’s not in any danger. So, your breathing is steady and your muscles and gut are relaxed when you’re not experiencing stress.

Again, all of these changes occur on their own. You can thank your PNS for running on autopilot so you don’t have to worry about elevating your heart rate when something makes you nervous.

And without a peripheral nervous system, decisions and directions made by the CNS would have to be carried out directly by your brain and spinal cord. The central nervous system may call the shots when it comes to responding to sensations and stimuli. But the PNS is the link between your body and your brain that gets the job done.

Nervous System Technical Support

It’s pretty wild to think that electrochemical impulses are shooting up and down your nerves as you pause to read this article. Your nervous system is always working. So, make sure you’re doing your part to keep your electrical wiring up to code. There are a couple great ways to support and protect your nervous system.

Minimize Stress

Remember all the work your nervous system does to prepare your body for fight or flight? When stresses from work, school, or family life don’t let up, it can be hard for your nervous system to ease out of this involuntary response.

If your mind feels clouded with worry, it can be hard for your brain to efficiently integrate all the messages from your nerves. Sometimes this stress can even manifest itself in physical pain.

Combating stress and returning your body to the rest-and-digest phase will give your nerves a break. Deep breathing, mindful meditation, and exercise are all great ways to take a load off. If possible, try easing your mental strain by eliminating unnecessary work or burdens. And ask for help from family and friends when you need it.

Eat Whole Foods with Healthy Fats and Antioxidants

The myelin sheath covering the axon of your neurons are made of fatty tissue. So is your brain, the head of the central nervous system. That’s why you should choose food that reinforces these important structures.

That means healthy, unsaturated fats, like omega-3s. These are liquid at room temperature, but are also found in solid foods. You can find these healthy fats in avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil.

Another great way to protect your brain long-term is by eating foods rich in antioxidants. Berries and other brightly colored fruits and veggies are excellent sources. Antioxidants help protect brain tissue from damage by free radicals. They also support memory and cognitive function.

Try to incorporate these nutrients—and others, like magnesium, iodine, and a variety of vitamins—in your diet. Switch out foods with unhealthy fats (fried foods and prepackaged foods) with healthier options (grilled salmon or walnuts.) Make a brain-boosting smoothie with lots of berries and green veggies.

There are plenty of tasty ways to take care of your nervous system. And your hard-working brain, spinal cord, and nerves deserve the love.

ECLS Energy, Healthy Cove

5-DAY RESET™

START THE JOURNEY TO A NEW YOU WITH USANA® 5-DAY RESET™

Change isn’t easy. But don’t stress! Sometimes a small success is all it takes to jumpstart a big transformation. That’s the idea behind the USANA® 5-Day RESET™ kit. In only five days, you’ll be on your way to a healthier you.*

By eating balanced, low-glycemic foods, you can overcome your cravings and begin losing weight** without feeling hungry. RESET will help you get in the habit of eating healthier, exercising, and making smarter lifestyle choices.*

What’s Included in the 5-Day RESET Kit?

The 5-Day RESET kit comes in two varieties, so you can choose the Nutrimeal with the protein source that’s right for you. One contains a mixture of the French Vanilla (soy protein) and Dutch Chocolate (soy and whey protein). Or you can choose a non-soy, plant-based option that contains only packets of the mildly flavored Nutrimeal Free.

Each kit comes with the following:

The 5-Day RESET Program

The 5-Day RESET is a calorie-conscious program based on eating balanced, low-glycemic meals and whole-food snacks.

General guidelines:

  • Women should strive to consume approximately 1,200 calories per day
  • Men should strive to consume approximately 1,500 calories per day

Every day, you will simply replace three meals with a Nutrimeal shake, take your supplements, and eat whole-food snacks.

 

You may eat more snacks than are listed here. And you can mix fruit, vegetables, or unsweetened milk (dairy or plant-based) in your Nutrimeal shakes for a little variety. Just make sure to keep your calories near the recommended amount, or you may not experience the results you want. Also try to limit your fruit to three servings a day. Fruit juice is discouraged.

You will also want to turn off the TV and do some kind of low-impact exercise like walking for 20 to 30 minutes every day.

Sleeping for 7-9 hours is also recommended. This will help keep you from looking for more snacks to help bump up your energy if you’re sleep deprived. And if you are sleep deprived, you can consume black coffee or tea while on the 5-Day RESET.

Daily Routine

Breakfast

  • Nutrimeal shake mixed with 10-12 oz. of water
  • Add Probiotic to your morning shake
  • AM HealthPak

Mid-Morning Snack

Lunch

  • Nutrimeal shake mixed with 10-12 oz. of water

Afternoon Snack

Dinner

  • Nutrimeal shake mixed with 10-12 oz. of water
  • PM HealthPak

Other Tips

  • Always take your supplements with food
  • PM HealthPak may also be taken with your PM snack, if preferred
  • Aim for at least 64 oz. of water each day
  • Incorporate an eating cutoff time two hours prior to bed

Snack Suggestions

Your snacking options are endless. But the goal is to eat whole foods. And you’ll feel fuller, longer if you aim to mix a little protein and fat with your carbohydrates.

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sprinkled with salt and pepper to taste, along with a sliced medium bell pepper or 1 ½ cup of sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ apple or ½ banana (optional: add a dash of cinnamon for an extra kick of flavor)
  • 20 whole, raw almonds with ½ cup of mixed berries or 1 cup snap peas
  • 2 cups raw veggies (broccoli, celery, cauliflower, cucumbers, snap peas, mushrooms, etc.) with 5 Tbsp. hummus of choice
  • 3–4 cups mixed green salad (lettuce, kale, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.) with ½ cup cooked legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, etc.) and 75–100 calories of salad dressing OR replace legumes with boiled egg and 2 oz. lean meat of choice
  • 1 small baked sweet potato, 1 cup cooked broccoli with 3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese or 1 Tbsp. butter or plant-sterol butter substitute
  • 1 medium fruit (orange, apple, or pear) with 1 oz. cheese of choice
  • 2, 1-oz. deli slices of natural, low-preservative turkey, each rolled with 1-oz. slice of cheese
  • 3 oz. water-packed tuna or salmon mixed with 1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise or plant-based mayo substitute on 1 crispbread cracker
  • ½ cup ripe avocado chopped with 8 grape tomatoes (add green onion and a squeeze of fresh lime juice for flavor)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa with 2 slices of avocado
  • 1 cup fruit with ½ cup of cottage cheese
  • ½ cup unsweetened natural applesauce with ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 celery sticks with 1 Tbsp. nut butter and 1 Tbsp. raisins
  • 2 medium carrots with ¼ cup guacamole
  • ½ cup roasted chickpeas with 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup roasted soy nuts or chickpeas
  • 3 cups kale or arugula with ½ Tbsp. olive oil and pepper
  • 20 pistachios with 1 oz. cheese of your choice
  • 3 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 1 cup broccoli with 1 tsp. dressing
  • Unlimited raw celery, cucumber, lettuce or other leafy greens

Learn More

Say goodbye to diets and hello to a new you. Learn more about USANA 5-Day RESET at What’s Up, USANA.

Nutrition Information

Nutrimeal: French Vanilla • Dutch Chocolate • Nutrimeal Free

USANA Probiotic

USANA HealthPak

Frequently Asked Questions About 5-Day RESET

How often can I repeat the RESET program?

How much fiber is in the 5-Day RESET?

Are there any known side-effects from following the 5-Day RESET?

How much weight can I expect to lose while on the 5-Day RESET?

Is the caloric level of the 5-Day RESET appropriate for everyone, regardless of weight or activity level?

Why do you recommend drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day while following the 5-Day RESET?

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**Individual results may vary. The 5-Day RESET program lowers your daily caloric intake and recommends moderate exercise for best results.

It is suggested that you take these products to your health care professional and secure their advice if you intend to change your diet, begin an exercise program, are pregnant or lactating, have allergies, are taking medications, or are under the care of a health care professional.

Children under the age of 18 should not participate in the 5-Day RESET program, except on the advice of their health care professional and/or dietician.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.